发表于 2009-7-24 19:17:43

Growing Pains (end) by SensiblyTainted

本帖最后由 寧 于 2011-6-27 12:49 编辑


Go ahead. I'm glad you like them so much! I'm honored.

Sensibly Tainted

Title:Growing Pains
Summary:The summer after Sirius' death: the abuse at the Dursley's leaves him broken. Snape is asked to try and help, and discovers that the key to saving Harry may be Draco, who has returned after his own difficult summer.
Warnings:including non-con dedescription


Chapter One

Draco stood in his rooms in Malfoy manner. Summer had come and gone and in a few hours he’d be getting on the Hogwarts Express. Standing alone on the balcony connected to his sitting room, Draco leaned heavily against the thick stone railing. He was exhausted. His whole reality had been destroyed, shattered into millions of broken pieces. It had taken all summer to try and pick a few of the pieces up and come out of it relatively whole.

He let his head fall back, tired gray eyes searching the cloudy pale blue sky. White gold hair stirred around him, one silky strand caressing his cheek. His body tensed. Even his hair reminded him of everything. He couldn’t escape it. Draco sighed and let his head fall forwards so he was looking across his property once more. No. He couldn’t escape it. He was Lord Malfoy, inheritor of the wizarding world’s wealthiest fortune, controller of all Malfoy investments and assets, soon to be 6th year student at Hogwarts School, and possessor of the darkest reputation in the wizarding world (excepting the Dark Lord’s own).

Ever since his father had been caught at the Department of Ministries and placed in Azkaban, the Malfoy name had fallen on his shoulders like a ton of bricks. He’d been enraged, wanted his father back. He didn’t want to take up responsibility of the family yet, didn’t want to let go of the respect and love he had for his father to accept that he’d been placed in the worst prison on the planet. He wanted to blame bloody Harry-fucking-Potter, to kill him for destroying his family. But then his mother, the docile mindless woman, came roaring to life, and smashed to bits those childish reactions.

Draco remembered his mother being a loving, beautiful woman when he was a child. It was at her knee that he learned how to read and write, learned aristocratic manners and politics, celebrated in his childish magics. His father had been absent. When Draco had seen him, his father had been serious, almost sulky now that he had been forced to look back and see the truth. But he had been happy with his mother.

All that changed when he had turned ten. The man he had admired from afar stepped into his life. Lucius gave him praising smiles when he upheld the Malfoy values, and used a heavy hand if Draco caused disappointment. His mother was pushed away to the side. She withdrew and became a silent doll. Just as the aristocratic, pureblood Lucius demanded.

Draco had noticed, but hadn’t cared. He had his father’s attention and his father was making him a man. It didn’t matter that Lucius contradicted some of what his mother had been teaching him. Draco was proud to be following in his father’s footsteps, and felt self-important when he was allowed to attend business meetings. He watched everyone’s subservience to his father and puffed out his chest. Then Lucius made him feel talented and special when he taught him special magic before Draco was meant to go to school. And after a year under Lucius’ care he went to Hogwarts an arrogant bully spewing his Death Eater father’s words proudly.

A bitter smile twisted his lips. He’d been so naïve. Such a child. He’d still been a child four months after his sixteenth birthday when he was told his godlike father had been imprisoned. He could remember clearly the disbelief he felt, then the rage. He had stormed from school, leaving even before the Hogwarts Express could take him home. He had come home screaming for his mother to get their law-wizards; that he would get his father back. He remembered kicking the elf that asked if it could get him anything. He remembered his self-righteous anger and pride at how well he was handling things. Then his mother had come down.

She was dressed beautifully in a simple white silk dress and her eyes were burning. She was awake once again. He had smiled, feeling great relief at seeing her. He had relaxed knowing she would take care of everything; make it right. He never expected her beautifully manicured hand to slap him hard across his cheek. Shocked, he stared into her eyes. She looked back at him, her gray eyes, eyes he had inherited from her, were calm and determined. He still remembered clearly what she had said then.

“It’s time for you to grow up, little dragon. It’s time for you to stop lying to yourself and blindly following where others tell you to go. You have to make decisions now. Your fragile life is in your hands alone. No one can do this for you, but first you have to understand the reality of things. Follow me. You have things you need to see.”

He hadn’t understood, but had felt the seriousness in her words. The fear curling up from his stomach had told him that nothing would be the same again. He could have ignored her. He could have turned around and flooed to the law firm the Malfoy family employed, but he didn’t. He trailed after his mother and was taken downstairs into the basement, the small dungeon. He had known his father went down there sometimes to do business, but he’d never been allowed. He followed his mother and she played back for him the room’s magically recorded memories.

He watched his father torture human beings of all ages and sexes. Watched hundreds of victims suffer by his gleeful hand. Sometimes it was to get things he wanted, sometimes to punish those who had wronged him, and sometimes it was just because he wanted to play. Sometimes the victims died, sometimes they didn’t, but they always screamed, always bled. Draco had always known his father used Dark magic, known his father stuck fear in the hearts of many, but he had never understood. He hadn’t let himself realize the truth. Hadn’t looked passed the strong front his father presented. But his mother forced him to see the stark, naked truth of his father.

Draco had been sick. He even cried. His mother didn’t say anything. She didn’t comfort him or make him feel weak or stupid. She just watched him with understanding eyes. And he burned with shame and confusion. He could barely cope with what he was learning. He had been forced into a mental fog.

His mother took him by the hand and led him out of the room. Lucius’ crystal memory orb, the one holding the record of what he’d done in the dungeon, was held firmly in her hands. She took Draco to the Department of Ministries and led him to the Auror department. There, she turned over the orb as evidence against her husband. She demanded sureties that he would never be able to get out. Draco had stood there numbly as his mother condemned his father and said nothing, neither supporting nor stopping her.

After that, she took him to an expensive inn near both Diagon and Knockturn Alley. They rented a room and she had all of his father’s middlemen and business representatives come to Draco to explain in detail what each business and investment entailed. Draco spent days there. And learned a lot. His father had the Malfoy money in almost everything. He even had muggle investments. Lucius traded slaves, drugs, loaned money, hired people to procure rare items and then sold those items for a substantial profit. Some business dealings were legitimate, others were tainted, and a few wee ebony black. His mother gave him full reign.

She had told him, “I made sure Lucius is out of the picture. This is your decision alone, my dragon. Handle it.”

He spent almost a week thinking, dealing, growing up. Then he made his decision. He continued the businesses that were legal and a few that were shady, but he pulled out of the most illegal activities. He made copies of all the records of those dark dealings and handed them over as evidence to the wizarding law enforcement as further padding to keep Lucius in Azkaban. His mother had bowed her head to him, acknowledging the battle he had gone through. And she stepped up to his side to help him fight the Ministry off of his inheritance.

He learned that while he was coming to terms with his father and himself, his mother had been stalling the legal proceedings of the Ministry in its attempt to seize all of the Malfoy assets. It was a hard fight that took almost the whole summer. He had been interrogated by Aurors several times to clear himself of any of the crimes his father committed. He really was innocent. He’d done nothing unforgivable yet. Potter had imprisoned his father before he could cross the line past bully to Death Eater. If he wasn’t spending his summer nights in a holding cell, then he was alone in the manor’s master suite where his mother and father use to sleep.

His mother was there, but she never offered to do anything for him. She didn’t help with the businesses he had agreed to continue, even though he was being yanked to and fro by the damn Ministry. When he specifically asked for her help, she would do as he asked but no more. His godfather was there as well. Severus answered many questions about being a Death Eater and the Dark Lord. And Severus didn’t soften the truth. He told it all, from every angle, he made it stark and sharp and painful. They sat up many nights late into the morning hours discussing the war and politics, past and present.

It wasn’t all maturity and growth, though. There were nights when Draco got drunk, and screamed and raved; nights when he sat numb and silent. He’d go through fits where he would sleep for days, or not able to sleep for close to a week at a time. He’d been forced to see the world as it was; to see the games, manipulations, suffering, and joys. He’d had to grow up. He’d had to make decisions. And he did. He chose not to embrace the darkness, not fully. But he didn’t choose to reject it either. He decided to support the fight against the Dark Lord, but rejected Dumbledore’s offer of bringing him into the Order at the price of becoming a spy.

He couldn’t accept that roll. Instead, he would fight the Dark Lord on his own terms, under no one’s command. He chose to make his new beliefs known, to show those tainted in the school and those powerful in wizarding society that there was a better way to achieve their goals besides mass murder, torture, and slavery. He decided to take up the long and difficult task of cleaning up the Malfoy family name.

The summer hadn’t made him soft. It had made him harder, colder. He grew serious. All his smiles were bitter, cynical. Three months had become a lifetime. But not all the changes were purely internal. He’d grown physically as well. He now stood at six feet. His white gold hair was all one length now and reached to his shoulders. It was the traditional style for the Lord of a pureblood family to grow it out to at least mid-back, and it was slowly getting there.

His face had lost the last of its baby fat, had become sharper and more defined. People still mistook him for Lucius, but if you looked past the similar coloring, you’d see he inherited more of his mother’s features than his father’s. His seeker build had thickened. He was still slender, but his shoulders had broadened as he gained inches. He wore the ancient Malfoy signet ring on his right hand. Draco looked down at it now.

It was a platinum band with a diamond embedded in the center. Tiny runes encircled the gem and then two tiny imprints of the Malfoy crest were placed on either side. Aurors had pried it off of Lucius finger before he was sent to Azkaban and had only handed it over to him a weak ago when they recognized him as the legal Lord Malfoy, cleared of all involvement and free to take over the Malfoy family as was his birthright. And there were things that were the same, as well. Draco was still proud of his heritage, believed he was elite because of his ancestors’ accomplishments and his own. He still upheld the untainted Slytherin views and morals.

There was a knock at the door and Draco turned from the balcony and strode across the sitting room, tying his hair back at the base of his neck as he moved. He wore dark black pants, tight and riding low on his hips. The white, silk, button-down shirt was untucked and fell to just past his waist. The sleeves were rolled half way up his forearm, casually. Visible around his neck was a black cord and hanging from it a thick silver pendent as big as his thumb resting at the hollow of his throat. It looked like a Celtic knot, but looking closely it became a contorted dragon. He opened the door and found a house elf standing on the other side.

“Master Sir, your mother is waiting to see you off to the school.”

“Thank you. I’ll be right down.”

The elf popped away and Draco shut the door. He went into his bedroom, unrolling his sleeves and buttoned them as he went. He put on his black school robe, leaving it hanging open, and made sure he had everything he needed in his school trunk. His three owls were secure in their cages. Satisfied that he was ready, Draco strode from the room and went downstairs.

Narcissa was waiting for him in the main lounge where the flooing fireplace was located. Her dress was dark green, falling to swirl around her ankles and rising to just under her chin. It was sleeveless and backless. Her golden, yellow hair was done up in curls piled on top of her head, and she smiled faintly at him when he entered the room.

“Mother.” He bowed to her before stepping forward to hug her. “You are going out?”

“I am.” She nodded. “I have a social date with several of your peers’ mothers.”

Draco nodded. She had been speaking to Slytherin parents a lot recently, and trying to recruit several of these important women in wizarding society over to neutral territory. Most of her time that summer was spent making sure Draco would get back up again after he had fallen apart, but just this week she had gone back to her original passion of working for the wizarding news paper, Witch’s Weekly.

“Good luck. I’ll write.” Draco smiled, leading her by the hand to the fireplace.

“So shall I.” She smiled sweetly. “Goodbye, my dragon. If you need anything…”

“I know.” Draco kissed her cheek.

“Be careful, darling.”

He nodded and she disappeared. Having no reason to stall, Draco picked up some floo power and flooed to a public fireplace in a tavern near Kingscross Station.

Ron and Hermione hurried onto the train. They were holding hands, but their attention was not on each other. They were anxious to see their friend. Dumbledore had forbidden them to write to Harry and they were worried. They knew how much Sirius had meant to Harry and he had taken losing his godfather hard. It didn’t help that he had watched with his own eyes as the convict had fallen through the veil. They had done their best to help him, but Harry had been too angry and grief-stricken to really take comfort from them.

Living at the Dursley’s was hard at the best of times, and Harry was sure to be in a sorry state. They told Dumbledore this, but no matter how they pleaded he wouldn’t relent. Hermione only hoped that when she told Harry that she was dating Ron it helped and didn’t hurt Harry more. She already made Ron promise to be very careful and make sure they didn’t isolate their friend or ignore him. Ron had agreed quickly.

“Come on, Ron.” She rushed her boyfriend.

“I’m coming, ‘Mione.” He said as he pushed his way through the students crowding the train.

He had a good hold on Hermione and tugged her through as they made their way to the last compartment, the one they had claimed as their own since the first year they had come to Hogwarts. Finally, they arrived outside the door and found it shut. Ron looked back at Hermione and saw worry and excitement in her brown eyes.

“Let me go first.” She asked and he nodded.

Hermione slide the door open and stepped in, Ron at her heels. Harry sat in the farthest corner, his face away from them as he looked out the window. Hermione gasped and covered her mouth with both hands. Ron stood frozen behind her. Harry wore torn, filthy clothes ten sizes too big. The T-shirt sleeves reached to his elbow, but his exposed forearms held scattered bruises and his wrists were scabbed and raw as from rope burns. His exposed neck and collar bone were littered with more bruises, and what looked like hickies.

“Harry.” Hermione called, her voice quivering, tears falling from her eyes.

Their friend turned his head and Hermione whimpered deep in her throat. There were cuts on his cheeks and forehead. She guessed they were from his missing glasses being broken. One cheek was swollen and bruised, and his bottom lip was split and scabbed. His hair was greasy and limp. But it was his empty dull eyes that struck her to the heart. There was nothing behind them, and instead of being a rich emerald green, they were almost a lime color. They held no recognition.

“Oh, Merlin.” Ron choked. “I’m going to get help.”

Hermione said nothing, but when Ron’s support left her back she staggered forward to keep her balance. Harry’s eyes followed her with a slight delay. She knelt and reached for his hand, calling his name gently. Harry blinked at her, but didn’t respond. Her hand touched his and he reacted violently. He jerked away, curling deeper in the seat, eyes going wide.

“Don’t touch me!” He yelled hoarsely.

Hermione backed off immediately, crying softly. She murmured gentle words and assured him he’d be fine, that he was safe. Slowly her friend relaxed and uncurled a bit, but still his eyes remained empty. He didn’t answer any of her questions. He said nothing. She wasn’t even sure he understood her.

“Oh, Harry. What did they do to you?” She bit her lip hard.

Ron came back in the room looking furious, but he was careful not to raise his voice or otherwise startle their friend. He helped Hermione to her feet and sat across from Harry. Hermione settled at his side, practically in his lap.

“What did they say?” She asked weakly.

“There’s no one on board who can apperate to Hogwarts, so we’re just going to have to wait till we get to school. Dumbledore will be there and come aboard with a portkey to the infirmary.” He said as calmly as he could. “So basically he has to wait hours before his wounds are tended to.”

“We should never have let him stay with the Dursley’s.” Hermione moaned. “We knew they were bastards. We should have told someone, explained that they were mistreating Harry.”

“Dumbledore knew.” Ron spat, but softened when Harry flinched. “When he came to my house in the summers after we rescued him, Mum saw how starved he was, how beaten down, and chewed the Headmaster out. But he kept insisting that it was the only place Harry was safe.”

“How could he do that?” Hermione asked helplessly.

“I don’t know, ‘Mione.” Ron sighed and wrapped his arms around her. “I don’t know.”

“Will Harry be alright? He wouldn’t even let me touch him. He flinched back and began screaming at me.”

Ron hesitated, his arms tightening around his girlfriend, before answering; “Of course he will. This is Harry. And we’ll be here to help him.”

The rest of the ride had been quiet. Occasionally Hermione would sniff or begin crying again and Ron just held her close. Harry stared out the window with his dead eyes, saying nothing. When they talked to him, he turned his head to look at them, but never responded. Finally, they came to Hogsmead Station and everyone began exiting the train. Hermione straightened up and hid her tears. Ron’s face hardened with anger. Minutes passed and the train grew silent. They heard someone come aboard and walk toward their compartment, and both Ron and Hermione stood. Dumbledore came in. His face was lined with age and weariness. His eyes filled with sorrow.

“Ah. Dear Harry, you’re home now. Come on. Let’s get you to the hospital wing.”

Hermione and Ron said nothing as Harry stood. He didn’t move closer to them though. Dumbledore reached for him, but the teen jerked back and away.

“He won’t let anyone touch him.” Hermione explained.

“I don’t think he’d appreciate others seeing him like this.” Dumbledore said sadly. “I’ll try and make it quick.”

He stepped forward and ignored Harry when the teen tried to shove him away, screaming in terror. Hermione and Ron didn’t think. They reacted. They grabbed the back of the Headmaster’s robes to pull them off their friend, but instead all four were portkeyed out of the compartment and brought to the hospital wing instead. Harry was still struggling, though not as violently. The portkey had taken a lot out of him. He was sobbing, begging to be released.

“Don’t touch me…let go, let go of me! Please… Don’t…” He cried and fought.

“Pomfrey! Help me restrain him!” Dumbledore ordered as he wrestled Harry toward a bed.

“No!” Hermione called out in horror. “He’ll be fine if you just let go! He’ll calm down and go still!”

“Just let go!” Ron yelled furiously, pulling hard on the surprisingly strong old wizard.

Dumbledore looked at the two highly distraught Gryffindors and did as they said. He let go of Harry and stepped away. Harry immediately went silent, his skinny frame shaking and trembling as he gasped in breaths. Eventually his breathing evened out and his trembling lessened. Pomfrey had both hands over her mouth, too shocked to do anything as she watched Harry recover.

“Harry, can you get in the bed behind you?” Hermione asked gently.

The teen turned without hesitation and obeyed, sitting on the white hospital bed. Pomfrey snapped out of her paralysis and rushed over. She began doing tests and Harry didn’t react. With a sigh, she told him to lie down, and again Harry obeyed without question.

“He does whatever you say?” Dumbledore asked with a deep frown.

“I think he’ll listen to anyone.” Hermione sighed. “I think he’s in shock and locked himself deep in his mind. He won’t talk or respond to anyone, but he will do as he’s told. The longer he’s like this the worse he’ll be. We need to pull him out of it!”

“We will, Miss Granger.” Dumbledore assured her.

“How could you leave him with the Dursley’s?” Ron suddenly bellowed. “You knew they were abusive! We told you and you kept sending him back! You knew how vulnerable he was after Sirius’ death and you refused to let us talk to him! You sent him there and let him be hurt!”

“I am but a man, Mr. Weasley.” Dumbledore said brokenly. “I had no idea the abuse was of this nature. I thought they were merely neglectful and verbally harsh. That was a preferable environment compared to his death.”

“Sometimes words can be more detrimental to someone’s health than physical blows.” A silky voice came from behind them and they all spun to find Professor Snape standing by the doors of the infirmary. He’d been there since they had portkeyed in, and was still processing everything he had heard and witnessed.

His face was blank and both of the Gryffindors stared with wonder. They had only ever seen the man wear an expression of anger, derision, and disgust. Seeing him now, face empty and mask-like was disturbing to say the least. Dumbledore didn’t seem surprised and he even sighed with something like relief.

“Severus, my boy…”

“You annually gave us reports of Potter being pampered, waited upon.”

“The Ministry would have removed him.” Dumbledore explained.

“Maybe there would be just reason for that.” Severus said and strode over. He looked down at the boy lying quietly in the bed. The wounds healing a bit as Pomfrey worked. “You should have told the Order the truth regardless. We could have supported him. He could have been helped and the damage healed, instead of us sitting ignorant and causing more damage unknowingly.”

“Unknowingly!” Ron laughed, eyes still filled with rage. “You knew very well how much you were hurting Harry! You never stopped tearing him apart!”

“Ron.” Hermione put a hand on his arm, and Ron subsided, still simmering.

“My actions would have done nothing more than make an arrogant boy mad. Much like yourself, Mr. Weasley. I had no intention to cause serious emotional harm. I am a spy. I had to be harsh to the savior of the wizarding world. Death Eater children are in my house and gossip to their parents. I must maintain my position if I am to save lives. But I would have told Mr. Potter all of that. I would have approached it differently had I known of his abusive background. And you knew that, Albus.”

“I thought he was fine. He was strong and spoke no word of complaint. He didn’t show any other signs of emotion struggle.” Dumbledore said thickly and tears formed in his eyes. “I did not know it was this serious.”

Hermione sighed, “No. Not even we knew it was this bad. We didn’t know how close he was to breaking or how fragile. We had our guesses, but Harry was very good at acting and hiding his weaknesses.”

Severus stared at her with something akin to disbelief and Ron snorted bitterly.

“That’s right, Snape.” He said with a dark smile. “He’s not really a Gryffindor. He’s a Slytherin.”

“Explain.” Severus ordered.

“I don’t know for sure if it was on purpose or not, but when Hagrid came to collect him for first year, he told Harry about his parents and about being a wizard.” Hermione began. “Harry didn’t even know. He thought his parents were killed in a car crash. He thought he was a freak for making things happen. He was so happy to be out of the Dursley house and about being taken somewhere where he might be normal. When he was told that a dark wizard had killed his loving parents, and that he had destroyed the Dark Lord, he was shocked to say the least. Then he was told how all dark wizards came from Slytherin.”

“And he met Malfoy.” Ron added.

“Well, he begged the hat to put him in Gryffindor, when it said he was a Slytherin too. He didn’t want to dishonor the parents whom he had killed. He didn’t want to be thought of as bad. He wanted to be good and accepted.”

“Then he was faced with fame and manipulation.” Severus murmured. “He fought because he was desperate.”

“That and guilt.” Hermione began to cry again. “He never really talked about this stuff. Ron and I’ve had to guess a lot and piece things together from the little he does say, but we do know for sure he thinks this is all his fault. That every single person who dies at Voldemort’s hands is his fault; his godfather, his parents, and Cedric especially. He’d have been suicidal after the Tri-Wizard’s Tournament if it weren’t for his overwhelming sense of needing to stop Voldemort.”

“I use to think he liked the attention and fame.” Ron said mournfully. “But after the tournament I realized what ‘Mione always saw. He hates it. He is uncomfortable with attention, has little-to-no self-esteem, and more guilt is added for fooling everyone into thinking he’s worth something.”

“He’s always been close to breaking.” Hermione agreed, wiping her cheeks. “But he’s always been strong at the same time. He really was happy here for the most part. He called Hogwarts home. He loves us and Remus. But losing Sirius…”

“We told you. We told you he’d need us.” Ron accused the Headmaster.

“I should have listened.” Dumbledore looked into their eyes and they saw the torment in them. “The wizarding world, now that they know Voldemort is back, was going to be trying to get their hands on Harry. And the Death Eaters are desperately trying to find and kill him. I didn’t see any other way, but I realize now I should have looked harder. Severus, what can we do?”

“Why are you asking him?” Ron demanded. “Harry won’t want help from him!”

“Severus has studied psychology extensively in his training to be a spy. He also helps with Death Eaters victims. He knows about abuse, and is the only one I know who can heal wounds of the mind.” Dumbledore explained. “He will be the one best able to help Harry now.”

Hermione and Ron stared at him with wide eyes.

“I need to see what happened.” Severus finally spoke. “I can do nothing for fear of making it worse without knowing exactly what happened and where his mind is at.”

“I can substitute…” Dumbledore began.

“No. I can not afford to miss my classes or miss welcoming in the new Slytherin’s sorted into my House.” He interrupted. “I will make a trip to Surrey when everyone is asleep and delve into the house’s memories.”

“Very well.” Dumbledore nodded.

“I will put him to sleep until we are ready to help him.” Pomfrey said and waved her wand. Harry’s eyes fluttered and then closed. Ron and Hermione stared at him. “His wounds are extensive. It would be best that he heal while asleep anyway.”

“Will he recover?” Dumbledore asked fearfully.

“Physically.” She assured him.

“Do all you can for him.” Dumbledore ordered and turned to the two Gryffindors. “We can’t let the school know he is so vulnerable. Tell your House he is training in secret.”

“His friends need to know.” Ron argued. “He’ll need us and they’ll need to know.”

Dumbledore sighed, “Tell only those you know you can trust with your lives and Harry’s. Do you understand? Tell everyone else that he is training.”

“Yes, sir.” Hermione answered, putting her hand on Ron’s arm once again. Ron shut his mouth and stayed silent.

“I can’t make up for my horrible mistakes.” Dumbledore whispered. “But I will protect him now.”

“I must go.” Severus said. “Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger.”

They watched him leave. Dumbledore followed after them without saying anything more. Hermione and Ron went to their friend and took his hands. They stood there like that for long minutes before they both kissed his cheeks and went up to their common room, promising to be back soon. Harry didn’t even twitch, so deeply asleep that not even dreams could get through to him.

Chapter Two

Severus walked through the sleeping castle slowly. His limbs were heavy, but his mind was even more so. The sun was soon to rise and he had spent all night invisible in the Dursley home letting the house’s memories seep into him. He had just been able to finish seeing the condensed version of Harry’s experiences in the house until the boy turned eleven when his alarm had gone off. He had to leave if he were to get even a little rest before classes started.

To be honest, Severus had been very grateful for the break. He’d been appalled at what he had seen: a fat pampered and growing more abusive cousin, a psychotic aunt and uncle, and a meek little Harry Potter. A Potter starved, worked to the bone with heavy chores, and living in a dark, insect infested cupboard. He could hardly believe it. Harry really did belong in Slytherin for being able to hide his true mental state so thoroughly.

But Dumbledore was right as well. Potter was strong. Despite the years of abuse and believing he was trash, Harry still played and smiled in his cupboard. He had given up on pleasing his family at a young age and hadn’t been willing to do anything for praise. Harry had somehow kept his heart gentle and true to himself.

Severus sighed and walked into the infirmary. Poppy was in her office sleeping. He hated to wake her, but Potter’s bed was empty and he had to see the boy. She murmured that Albus had put him in a bedroom and connected it to a hidden door behind her bookshelf. She tapped three books, he carefully memorized which, and it swung aside.

The room was small, cozy. It had a four poster bed with blue sheets and white curtains. Harry lay small and fragile within it and Severus sat with him for a while. He didn’t speak or touch the Gryffindor. He just felt like he had to be near him after seeing all he had. Poppy said nothing about this and helped the boy get down healing potions and renewed healing spells. Severus promised her more healing and nutrient potions. She thanked him and he made his way to his bed and an hour of sleep.

“What’s going on, Godfather?” Draco asked softly as he followed Severus to the Great Hall for breakfast, seeing the man’s tired and tense face.

“Leave it, Draco.” Severus said just as quietly. Draco did as he was asked. He slowed so the Potion Master strode into the room before him, and then followed.

His thoughts drifted to his housemates. So far the others in his House hadn’t known what to make of him. Those he had considered his friends asked him questions, but very vague ones. He waited patiently. He’d make his beliefs known when asked, and he’d set an example with his actions, but he wasn’t about to flaunt his new mindset. He just hoped not all of his House turned against him when they realized what he was doing.

He took his seat between Pansy and Blaise. The girl eyed him curiously, but Blaise ate without acknowledging his presence. Draco grabbed some toast and sipped hot tea slowly. His eyes scanned the Hall. The Gryffindor table was subdued. Weasley and Granger sat alone without the Golden Boy. Both looked wrung out. His eyes snapped to his godfather, but Severus was not looking at him. He was eating single-mindedly.

“The year’s not even started and he’s already off on an adventure.” Draco snorted.

“Who?” Pansy asked.

“Potter.” Vince answered and everyone turned surprised eyes his way. Many thought he and Greg were dumb because they rarely spoke, but Slytherin knew that wasn’t true. But still, it usually took a few minutes before everyone else caught up with Draco. For Vincent to be right on his friend’s mental heals was impressive. Unless he knew something the others didn’t.

“What do you know?” Draco asked indifferently.

“Potter is supposedly not coming to Hogwarts this year. At least not for a while. He’s receiving special training.”

“Interesting.” Blaise murmured, his eyes now locked on Gryffindor. “But do you see what I’m seeing?”

“Everyone looks disappointed, but those that knew Potter best are more than that.” Pansy caught on, her own eyes on their rival House.

“They are worried and upset.” Draco agreed.

“Looks like the Golden Boy finally flew too close to the sun.” Blaise smirked.

Draco looked again to the Head table and saw his godfather’s tired face in profile. He knew that look. He was very worried. Draco felt his gut clench and his eyes harden. He looked back at his closest friends and noticed he had all of their attention. Some were wary, others curious. He made sure to look in all of their eyes, weighing them, silently asking if he could trust them to follow him without betraying him.

“I think it’s something worse.” He finally spoke.

“Want us to nose around?” Greg asked.

He nodded, and they finished their breakfast planning on how they were going to do that without being caught. Severus came around passing out their timetables. He said very little. When he went by Draco, he refused to look into the teen’s eyes. Blaise covered the tension by loudly complaining about his first class. Pansy followed his lead. Severus relaxed and continued on, but was aware that Draco’s eyes still followed him.

“Where’s your little hero?” Pansy sneered as she met up with Hermione in Advanced Potions.

The Gryffindor looked different. She had grown over the summer. Her hair was no longer bushy, but instead glossy and wavy down past her shoulders. Her breasts had gotten fuller and heavier and her hips a bit more curvy. Pansy only hoped she hadn’t changed internally. Otherwise her tactics wouldn’t work. Hermione glared at the blonde, and turned her nose up at her.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart.” Pansy said with as much mockery as she could. “I’m sure he’ll come back to you.” Hermione’s eyes tightened and Pansy pressed on, needing a more blatant reaction than that to try and figure this out. “Maybe he’ll even come back with more sense and ditch you and the Weasel, as he should have long ago.”

Hermione’s brown eyes widened and she burst into tears. Pansy stared after her, fighting not to show her surprise. Now that was a reaction, and one totally unexpected. Snape entered the room. His head turned to follow the sobbing sixth year as she rushed passed him. The Professor quickly turned back to the class, a sneer twisting his lips.

“Ten points from Gryffindor. Now open your books.”

Hermione and Ron left dinner early and made their way to the infirmary with Neville and Ginny. The four were careful to make sure no one was following them and hurried into Pomfrey’s office. The nurse tapped her books without a word and let them in. She warned them that though Harry was better there were still a few bruises and deeply asleep. The friends didn’t care and quickly made their way to Harry’s bedside. Neville and Ginny stared as Ron and Hermione went to opposite sides of the bed and took up Harry’s too-warm hands into their own.

“Will he be okay?” Ginny asked with a small voice.

“They don’t know.” Ron shook his head. “Snape’s suppose to find out what happened exactly, and then they’re going to try and give him therapy or something.”

“I just can’t understand how this happened.” Neville fretted.

“Me either.” Hermione agreed. “I did a bit of studying in the library. There isn’t much there for mental and emotional healing. But I did find a good book about mental evaluation spells. Maybe they will help Snape figure out how best to help him.”

“What do you think the Dursley’s did?” Ginny asked, holding Neville’s hand tightly.

“Beat him up real bad.” Ron answered reluctantly. “Don’t know what else besides insulting him and making him think he’s a worthless freak.”

“He can’t believe that!” Neville gasped in horror.

“You of all people should understand how he could.” Hermione said gently and Neville blushed, tears welling in his eyes.

“What can we do?” Ginny begged. “I want to help.”

“Well, you can help me look through the library for anything that might relate to psychology.” Hermione offered.

The others nodded quickly and then they settled in to tell Harry about their day. They knew he couldn’t hear them, but they hoped he could feel their concern and support. And it helped them to be with him. They didn’t get to stay long however before Pomfrey shooed them out of the room and back to their dorms for the night. Before they left, Hermione asked her to speak to Snape about contacting them soon. Pomfrey agreed. She knew how hard this was for them for she felt the same.

The Slytherins sat in the sixth year boy’s dorm. Draco had kicked out Theodore Nott (a happy Death Eater to be), promising him they’d be fast. Then he put up the strongest privacy spells he knew. The others added their own, layering their protections. When they were finished, Pansy spun around with her hands on her hips.

“Alright, Draco. What’s going on?”

“As you know, I am Lord Malfoy. But I’m not taking over for my father in everything. I deny Voldemort and I’m supporting the Light side in the war.” Draco said bluntly. The room descended into silence. When he was sure they weren’t going to interrupt, he continued in the same strong, level voice. “We’re no longer kids playing games. I can’t afford to ignore the consequences of my actions any more. With my father gone, I was forced to see what exactly those consequences were.”

And he told them what happened to him, what he had seen with his own eyes, in concise sentences. He didn’t tell them what he had felt, didn’t tell them how hard it had been on him. Or how hard it was to decide even with everything he had been shown. But he was talking to Slytherins. The people he considered friends. He didn’t need to speak of those things. They could see it in his stance, his eyes. He told them that he had come to believe there had to be a better way without being enslaved by either side, and that he was determined to create that middle ground if it didn’t already exist.

“Obliviate me.” Blaise spoke up when Draco fell silent expectantly.

“What?” Pansy asked startled.

“I will take the mark, and I will be loyal because I must.” Blaise answered quietly. “I can’t help you. Don’t let me in on anything.”

“Why?” Greg demanded.

“Devon.” Blaise answered simply and the others understood. Devon was Blaise’s older brother. Blaise would stick by his side, and that meant becoming a Death Eater.

“Alright.” Draco said sadly and raised his wand.

“Good luck.” Blaise said sincerely. There was a flash of light and Draco’s spell hit him hard in the head.

"What did you see?” Poppy asked tentatively as she sat next to Severus.

They were both at Harry’s bedside in padded chairs. The Potions Master looked decidedly gray. She had made him tea and it seemed to help, but only a little. Severus sighed into the tea and leaned his head back. He could feel the sun beginning to rise. He’d have to leave soon. He should have tried to get some sleep, no matter if he knew he wouldn’t be able too.

“Severus?” Poppy placed a hand on his arm.

“I didn’t get a chance to see what happened this summer, but the four before that he lived locked in a room. There were bars on the window and a single bed with one sheet. Food was pushed in through a flap in the door. They would have put him back in the cupboard under the stairs where he lived before Hogwarts, but they were afraid of wizards coming to punish them.

“Harry was let out to use the bathroom, but sometimes they forgot. Sometimes they forgot to feed him. Sometimes they didn’t feed him on purpose. He gave most of his food to his owl even when he was fed. He was treated like an animal. Before he came to Hogwarts, they’d at least let him have free reign of the house all day to do chores, but Hogwarts gave him a bit of spirit back and they didn’t like seeing it in his eyes, so they just locked him away. They are terrified of him.”

Poppy sat silently for a few minutes as she fought away the sobs rising in her throat. When she was sure she wouldn’t cry, she turned to look at her colleague again. “Can you help him?”

Severus looked at the boy in the bed. How broken was he? Could he help Harry through this? Would Harry even accept help at this point? He stood without answering the woman. He handed her the cup of tea and murmured a thank you before slipping from the room and heading toward his dungeons. Poppy understood that he couldn’t answer yet and didn’t demand one. She let him go. Clutching the cup in her hands, she wept for the boy they had all failed.

Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville were sent to the infirmary halfway through their various classes before lunch. Each teacher said Pomfrey had asked for help sorting potions and making sure none had expired, and each teacher found an excuse to pick those four. They acted normal, well as much as they could, but when they ran into each other in the halls, they picked up their pace. Had something happened? Pomfrey quickly assured them that Harry hadn’t worsened, but he needed to be awakened and fed, and she thought he might be better off with the four of them with him.

“Hey, Harry.” Ron said with a soft grin as Harry blinked and sat up in bed.

“Are you hungry?” Ginny asked as they all sat around his bedside.

Harry looked at whoever spoke to him, but he didn’t answer or respond to anything they said. All four went back and fourth trying to get him to say something, or to smile or frown. Anything. But their friend only blinked his empty eyes. No one tried to touch him. Pomfrey came in half an hour later with a lap-tray and food. They set it in Harry’s lap, but the teen didn’t make a move to eat.

“Take a bite, Harry.” Hermione said and Harry did.

Ginny began to cry and Neville held her close. Hermione looked close to doing the same, but didn’t. She gently talked Harry through his lunch while Ron sat mute. It took twice as long as normal for Harry to get through the meal, but they were all patient. When he was finished, Pomfrey told him to get up and use the bathroom. Harry did and got back in bed when he was told. She spelled him back to sleep.

“Thank you for coming. It helped.”

“Do you really think so?” Ginny asked hopefully.

“Yes.” Pomfrey assured her with a smile. “Now back to classes. You can’t be late. And pluck up. Harry will be fine again soon. We just have to give him time to pull himself together.”

“You’re right.” Neville smiled at her.

“This is Harry.” Ron agreed, laughing weakly.

Harry was washing the kitchen. It was the first time he had been let out of his room and as soon as he was done, they would put him right back. His movements were slow and rhythmic, and heavy sadness hung around him, his body language one of acceptance of misery. He was desolate.

He looked awful. The clothes he wore were more ragged than the cloth he used to scrub the floor. He was pale and too thin, anorexic. Heavy circles lay under his eyes. He looked like a Dementor victim. A calendar on the wall showed it was only two and a half weeks since school had let out.

Tromping feet came toward the teen, but Harry didn’t hear it. A fat man in a suit filled the doorway. His small beady eyes were filled with hate. He began yelling, berating the teen for moving so slow. Insults laced the hateful words heavily. Harry bit his lip, apologizing meekly. The man’s face went from red to purple and he stepped forward. His meaty fist crashed into the teen’s bowed head, flinging him back against the counter. Harry collapsed to the floor, his eyes now raised as he stared up at his uncle, tears filling the surprised emerald depths.

Vernon stood frozen. Fear in his tense stance. It was obvious he expected some kind of retaliation for his act. He expected magic to strike back in defense. It was why they had only abused the boy verbally. Harry’s magic had always acted if they crossed the line into physical abuse. But nothing happened and Vernon’s fear slowly dissolved. Glee spread across his face in a frightening smile.

Behind the surprise of being struck in Harry’s eyes, there was the new ever-present acceptance caused by his godfather’s death, and only Severus’ trained eye was able to see the gratitude deep behind that. Harry no longer merely thought he deserved pain for his supposed crimes; he had finally fell over the cliff and truly, with all his heart, believed he deserved to be punished. Vernon pounced and spilled vile words as he beat the boy. Only the fact that the fast bastard tired quickly saved Harry from being beaten to death.

A dozen more scenes like this filled Severus’ mind. Over and over again, Vernon attacked Harry with fists and feet and words. Severus even watched him use a belt a few times. And Harry’s magic never once stirred to life to protect him as it should have. He was punishing himself. At first, Harry took the beatings in silence, but as the days passed he began to whine and then scream.

Each beating dragged on because these memories were fairly recent. It took concentration to fast forward through the hours where nothing was happening, whereas the previous summers, and the memories of before Hogwarts had been short highlights of specific events, moments so emotionally charged they were frozen forever in the walls. It hadn’t drained Severus at all to watch them, but this summer’s memories were different and even more draining because it was horrifying

It was rare for a wizard’s child to be abused in such a manner. To be hit every blue moon and slapped occasionally was common, but continuous violent beatings were impractical. Not only was it provoking a magical attack from their child, but they could traumatize their child. By beating them they would run the risk of making the child fear or suppress their magic because it finally rose up to hurt their parent or guardian in defense.

And wizards prized their children’s magic more than anything else. They’d do nothing to threaten that. So wizards resorted to other ways of punishing their children. Through grounding, restrictions, psychological abuse, even bespelling their children, but continuous physical harm was too risky.

But Severus knew how to confront the mindset of one who had been abused in such manner. There were a few wizarding cases where it had happened. And he had read many, many cases of physically abused muggle children. He had used that knowledge to help the beaten and tortured captives of the Death Eaters. If this was all that Harry had suffered, he felt confident there was some hope.

Thankfully, he felt the summer memories coming to an end, but before he could see the last of them, his alarm went off and he was forced to pull away. He had to get some sleep or soon he would be no good to anyone.


Dumbledore’s head jerked up from the paper he was reading spread out across his desk. He hurried to his feet and quickly strode over to the fire. “What is it, Madam Pomfrey?”

“It’s Harry! He’s awake and responsive.”

The Headmaster gestured her back and flooed into her fireplace. Her room was barred and warded. Satisfied no one could see, he went to the book case and tapped the correct sequence with his wand. It slid to the side and revealed Harry.

The teen was sitting up in his bed, dressed in fresh clothes and spooning stew into his mouth unaided. His green eyes came up as the Headmaster entered and Dumbledore felt like crying in relief. They were several shades darker than they had been since he had come back to school, though they were still a bit glassy and pained.

“Hello, Harry. How are you feeling?”

“Fine, Headmaster.” Harry answered, but he hunched over his bowl of soup and let his bangs fall around his face so that he didn’t have to look the ancient in the eyes.

Pomfrey walked over to the bed and gestured to the bowl, “Are you done, Harry?”

“Yeah, okay.” Harry handed the empty bowl to the witch and she took it, leaving the two of them alone.

Dumbledore took a seat in the chair by Harry’s bed. The teen didn’t look up again. Instead, he stared at his hands. Dumbledore wanted to beg for forgiveness, but didn’t think that was what was needed here. He should have called Severus, taken the man out of his class and sent him up. He shouldn’t have come. What if he made it worse? But there were things that had to be said. By him. To Harry.

“Harry. I am getting old. I am not omniscient. I’ve made mistakes. And I’ve made one with you. A grave mistake, one I will try very hard to correct.”

Harry lifted his head a bit to look through his bangs curiously at the Headmaster, and Dumbledore smiled. He reached for Harry’s hand, but pulled back with the teen jerked away from the reaching hand.

“Sorry, Harry. I won’t touch you and you have every right to feel the way you do. Every right. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I was arrogant, believing I knew better than you because I’m older and seen more. But I was wrong, Harry. Do you hear me?”

“Yes.” Harry said hesitantly, unsure.

“What am I saying?” Dumbledore asked encouragingly.

“That you were wrong?” Harry frowned, he looked almost afraid to give a wrong answer and Dumbledore wanted to throw himself at this child’s feet.

“Exactly, Harry.” Dumbledore smiled, tears filling his eyes. “Do you believe me?”

“About being wrong?” Harry was trembling now.

“Yes. Do you believe I could be wrong?”

Harry didn’t answer. His head was up now, and his eyes were wide and full of fear. Dumbledore waited patiently, sitting still. Slowly, the tension fell from Harry’s tense shoulders and from his face. He looked tired, his pale face drawn and his eyes heavy. Dumbledore watched Harry’s eyes go unfocused as he thought over what had been said. His long fingered hands twisting the sheets in his lap.

“Yes. I think you can be wrong,” Harry offered softly, eyes darting to Dumbledore’s, expecting a blow. He quickly added, “But not very often.”

“Often enough.” Dumbledore chuckled. “Listen to me, Harry. Are you listening?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Dumbledore took a deep breath. “There is one thing I know without a doubt that I was wrong about; Pomfrey knows it too and so does Hermione and Ron and Professor Snape. And it’s about you.”

Harry’s breath quickened and he looked like Dumbledore was about to condemn him to Azkaban. Dumbledore hesitated to continue, but he had gone too far to stop now. So he gentled his voice and lowered his head so that he wouldn’t threaten Harry with eye contact.

“Harry. I was wrong to leave you at the Dursley’s. I should have listened to you. You were right to ask not to go back. I was wrong. I love you and I hurt you, and that is very, very wrong. You don’t hurt the ones you love. Hermione and Ron love you too, and they want you to get better. They want to help you. They’re very mad at me for leaving you there. I’m mad at me.

“Do you understand? What happened to you was wrong. It shouldn’t have happened. You should have been protected and cared for by we who love you, and we let you down. But we’re going to try very hard not to let you down again. Is that okay, Harry? Will you let us do that for you?” Dumbledore looked up, and his heart leapt into his throat and his tears finally fell.

Harry sat, silently crying into his hands. His shoulders shook and tears slid through his palms, but Harry didn’t make a single sound. It was the most heart wrenching sight, Dumbledore had ever witnessed. He wanted more than anything to put his arms around the boy, but knew it was unwelcome. On the other hand, he couldn’t leave. He had just said they’d be there for him from now on. He couldn’t back that up with leaving Harry to cry all alone. So Dumbledore sat back in the chair and silently offered his company and what little comfort, if any, he could offer the broken boy in the bed.

Harry cried for a little more than an hour. When he stopped, he lay down, curled into a ball, and went to sleep without saying a word. Dumbledore didn’t leave until he was sure Harry was deeply asleep. He stood and kissed Harry’s messy head of inky black hair before he left the boy to rest. Pomfrey was not in her office. She was tending to a first year in the infirmary that looked like they had skinned their knee falling down stairs. Dumbledore cast an invisible charm and left without either seeing him.

Almost three hours later, Ron and Hermione were walking up to the infirmary instead of the Great Hall for lunch. When they opened the door, Pomfrey smiled widely at them. The two Gryffindors looked at her in confusion, but it quickly melted into looks of hope. Pomfrey’s smile widened and she nodded. Hermione and Ron shared a look before rushing to her office and the bookcase that hid Harry’s room. They waited impatiently before rushing into the room. Harry flinched, eyes flashing with fear, before he blushed and smiled sheepishly.

“Hey guys.” He offered softly.

“Harry!” Hermione cried happily and rushed over while Ron shut the door. When she saw the fear come back in her friend’s eyes, she wisely stopped at the chair and made no move to touch him. “I’m so glad you’re awake! You’re missing some great classes.”

Ron rolled his eyes behind Hermione’s back and Harry smiled. Ron grinned back. “How ya doin, mate?”

“Fine. I was just sick.” Harry said quickly. Hermione and Ron knew better than to argue. “So what are you learning? Nothing too fun I hope?”

“Nah.” Ron assured him. “Mostly the same old, same old. But there was this one charm that was cool. We just learned it today.”

“It was funny.” Hermione agreed. “It plays the person’s theme song. It’ll only change if something big shifts your personality, but it really does tell you a lot about the person.”

“I don’t know.” Ron grumbled. “It seems a little random.”

“You’re just embarrassed.” Hermione laughed, pushing his shoulder.

“Yeah, and I’ve never even heard the song before.”

“Its muggle, but it really does fit you.” Hermione smirked.

“What was it?” Harry asked curiously, tension pouring away from him for the first time since he had woken.

“Don’t tell!” Ron pleaded, getting on his knees to beg his girlfriend.

“Oh, he’ll hear about it soon enough. Might as well.” She laughed and turned to Harry with sparkling eyes. She put her hand to her cheek as if she were telling a secret and spoke in a stage whisper. “It wasPretty Fly for a White Guy.”

Harry began to laugh. Hermione grinned, proud and flushed with her accomplishment. Ron grinned up at her, equally thrilled. But when he got to his feet, he mock glared at her.

“Ooooh. This means war! You want to hear her’s?” Ron demanded and Harry nodded. “It was this sappy, love song. Don’t know who does it or whatever, but it was saying something like,” Ron cleared his throat dramatically, hand going to rest on his throat as he sung as high as he could; “In the arms of an angel, far away from here, from this star cold confusion and these endless nights that you fear. You were pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. In the arms of an angel, may you find some comfort here.”

Hermione crossed her arms and tossed her head, nose sticking up in the air; “It was very beautiful. Don’t listen to him, Harry. He’d make any song sound torturous with a voice like that.”

“Ah, don’t crush my dreams, ‘Mione!” Ron feigned a heart pain. “You know I’ve always wanted to be a rock star!”

Harry laughed at them both, feeling the past and the heavy fog of fear and despair in his mind thin. He wasn’t sure where he was, but he didn’t mind as long as his friends were near by. He wasn’t even sure what day it was or how he had gotten there. He couldn’t even remember much of the summer, except that it had been very bad. The Gryffindors saw Harry’s face fall and quickly tried to distract their friend from whatever had drawn his thoughts away.

“Why don’t we try it on you, Harry?” Hermione asked and the boy’s green eyes focused on her again.

“I’ll be it’ll be this awesome rock song or something.” Ron glared playfully.

“Whatever.” Harry shook his head.

“Seriously.” Hermione encouraged. “It’ll be so fun!”

“Wanna hear what Malfoy’s was?” Ron interrupted slyly.

“What?” Harry asked, biting his lip with a smile. He could already tell it was something hilarious from his friend’s face.

“Let me. Now I only heard it once so I might mess it up a bit.” Hermione grinned and then she sang. Her voice wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than Ron’s. “Winter winds have gone and faded…… I told the skies of thoughts of gray…... Tears upon my pillow laying, a child lost to pain…... I pray.. for better days…… Lift me up, lead me from this place… Let your love be a blessing on my face.” Hermione grinned and continued. “I’m rising up. I changed before your eyes. How does darkness –something- in the light?... ... Heaven hope come and change me... Out of ashes make me whole… Lift me up and recreate me.. and help me overcome.. myself… Lead me from hell...”

Harry’s smile shrank, but he stared enthralled at Hermione. He felt like something important was happening. Like she was telling him something urgent. No. Not Hermione. Malfoy. Like Malfoy was saying something, like he found the secret to the universe and it lay in the song Hermione was singing.

His eyes got wide and his mouth fell open as Hermione sang to him. The words soaked into his head. Ron was making music in the background, and he suddenly sped up. Hermione’s words picked up a beat to follow, giving the words more emphasis and they pounded into him like rain.

“I’m rising up. I’m moving on… Give me strength to carry on… I feel the light upon my face…I hear the angel’s words of grace… My broken wings were meant to fly… You lift me up and justify… I’m standing up. I’m standing out… I feel the walls come crashing down…”

“It was hilarious.” Ron laughed. “You should have seen his face when his theme song was sung by a sweet female voice.”

“What do you think?” Hermione asked carefully, not understanding the look on Harry’s face.

“Nothing.” Harry shook his head hard. “You have a good voice.”

Hermione blushed hotly and Ron snickered at her. She slapped his arm and turned back to Harry, “So what do you think? Wanna try it?”

“I don’t know.” Harry twisted the blanket uncertainly.

“Come on, Har.” Ron begged. “It can’t be worse than mine!”

“But only if you want.” Hermione assured him.

“Okay.” Harry gave in as Ron made a puppy-dog face.

Hermione grinned and took out her wand. “Okay, Musica Anima.”

The spell hit their friend, but their smiles of expectation melted almost instantly. Harry’s eyes rolled back in his head and white light pulsed around him, twined and coiled, growing stronger and brighter every second. Hermione gasped and backed up as Harry lifted from the bed, floating a foot above it. Light burst from his chest, filling the room like a huge spot light, and at the same time music poured from him, loud and powerful. It penetrated the castle and everyone in Hogwarts could hear it.

Almost a thousand people froze as the sound of a piano captured their attention. There was no other instrument, and there didn’t need to be any. It was slow and elegant, flowing like water, powerful. Then words were sung by an angel. It was deep and throaty, and yet somehow it soared into the higher ranges at the same time. It twinned with the haunting piano, twisting the hearts of everyone with the deep yearning and beautiful pain that the sweet voice held in its depths.

“I’ve been looking in the mirror for so long… But I’ve come to believe my soul’s on the other side… All the little pieces falling,.. shattered… Shards of me too sharp to put back together.. Too small to matter, but big enough to cut me into so many little pieces.. if I try to touch him. And I bleed…… I bleed…… And I breathe…… I breathe.. no more...”

The voice trailed off, pulling everyone’s hearts with it, and the piano continued to play. Dumbledore looked over the Great Hall and saw first years crying on each other’s shoulders. The older students were sitting with their eyes closed as the song carried them away. He felt someone’s gaze and looked to the right to find Severus staring at him, his dark eyes holding the answers. Oh, Merlin. Harry’s friends must have cast the charm they had learned earlier that morning on Harry.

“Take a breath and I try to draw from that spirit’s mouth.. and yet again he refuses to drink like a stubborn child... Lie to me.. Convince me that I’ve been sick forever. And all of this will make sense when I get better… But I know the difference between myself and my reflection.. I just can’t help but to wonder… Which of us do you love?”

The ringing voice hushed once again to let the piano soar; reaching and aching. Draco no longer saw the Great Hall. He couldn’t feel the bench under him or hear the hundred others surrounding him. All he was aware of were the words piercing his skin and flowing through him like dark new blood.

Pansy was holding tight to Greg’s hand, tears falling blindly down her cheeks. Vince was gripping the table so hard splinters shot under his nails and into his fingers. He couldn’t even feel it. Blaise sat clutching his chest, above his heart. Ginny and Neville were clinging to each other, rocking gently back and forth. They knew whose heart they were hearing and it pained them. Oh, their poor beautiful, broken Harry.

“So I bleed…… I bleed…… And I breathe…… I breathe no…Bleed… I bleed… And I breathe… I breathe… I breathe… I breathe… no more...”

Chapter Three

As the last note of the song whispered away, the light engulfing Harry dimmed. Hermione and Ron watched with broken hearts as their best friend was gently lowered unconscious to the bed. They sat there in silence for several long minutes before they got the strength to move. Hermione brushed sweat soaked hair from Harry’s face, and gently took up the cloth by a bowl of water on the nightstand. Ron pulled the covers back up over Harry’s too thin body as she bathed his face.

The last potions class for the day was filing out of Severus’ classroom when Draco gently pushed his way in. Severus looked up at his godson, his face blank. Draco smiled lazily and leaned one hip up against his desk. Severus sighed and leaned back in his chair, his hand coming up to massage between his eyes.

“What do you need, Draco?”

“I have a question concerning last night’s reading.” Draco answered. They both knew that wasn’t why he was there, but the blonde bent over and pulled his text book out and flipped it open. By the time, he found the correct chapter they were the only ones left in the room. Draco smiled slyly and flicked his wand.

“Here it is.” The door shut softly and a ward of silence hummed around them. “Godfather, I’m worried about you. You’re looking a bit peaky.”

“I don’t have time for this.” Severus stood, but before he could storm away Draco caught his wrist.

“I can help.” Draco said quietly.

“I’ll let you know if I need help, but I assure you I am quite capable of handling my affairs.” Severus glared, his voice going frosty. “I’m warning you, Draco. Do not make things difficult for me or you will learn just how far I’ll indulge your stupidity.”

Draco stood and adjusted his robes. After a long minute, he finished and lifted his head to meet his godfather’s eyes. “You’re tired and I’ll assume it is your fatigue talking.”

“Draco.” Severus sighed and put his hand on the teen’s shoulder. “You’re right. I’m just not allowed to give you any information, and if you go looking for it, you could expose the project to unwanted attention. I can neither afford nor let that happen.”

“I understand.” Draco nodded. “But do remember you can rely on me.”

“I will. Now let’s go to dinner.”

After dinner, Pansy and Draco walked slowly down the hall heading toward the Slytherin Common Room. Greg and Vince were only a few steps behind them. They were halfway there before they could be confident their conversation wouldn’t be overheard.

“The Gryffindors are saying Potter’s out getting special training for the war, but the inner Potter clique is too distressed for that to be true.” Pansy said lightly, as if talking about the weather.

“And the other little Gryffindors all believe that?” Greg snorted.

“He’s not dead.” Vince said slowly. “Is he?”

“No.” Draco shook his head. “We’d have seen more of a reaction then just distress and they wouldn’t keep it to themselves. Undoubtedly, they’d spread news of Potter’s death through the whole House, and eventually the whole school.”

“So we’re not going to get anywhere without asking those with the right answers.” Pansy hummed. “Draw straws?”

“Not yet.” Draco shook his head, though it was hard. The haunting song was still lingering in his head and he really needed to see Potter, but his godfather was sincerely scared that someone of questionable loyalties would learn the truth surrounding the Golden Boy’s newest disaster. Poking around would seriously invite a security leak. “Let’s leave it for now and just keep watch from afar. We don’t have enough information to go offensive.”

Severus stared at Number 4 Private Drive. This would be the last night and then he’d have all he needed to try and pick up the pieces. He shivered as his thought brought the haunting song to mind. He didn’t know why he was hesitating. It wasn’t like him, but the house seemed ominous tonight. With a determined glare, Severus straightened his back and strode forward. He quickly settled down in the living room as he had previously. He murmured the spell as he closed his eyes, and he joined with the last of the memories.

Harry sat at the dinner table. Aunt Petunia refused to look at him, and talked with Dudley and Vernon. His uncle would shoot him hot glares every few seconds. Harry tried to ignore it all and get his shaking hand to carry the scraps of food on his plate to his mouth. Halfway through the meal, he lifted his head a bit and met his cousin’s gaze. Dudley didn’t sneer hatefully. He watched, face impassive, but his lips were turned down into a frown. Harry ducked his head again quickly, fearing abuse.

His head was getting fuzzy. He’d worked in the yard all day today and it had been warm. The table wavered for a split second before coming into focus again. He thought it better to escape now before he ended up face first in the mash potatoes. He pushed back and staggered to his feet. He was really tired. The stairs rocked and slid beneath his feet. For a second he thought he was back at Hogwarts, and that thought speared through him with equal amounts of pain and happiness.

Finally, he was in Dudley’s second room and laying on the bed. Everything stilled and the nausea bled away. He sighed and closed his eyes as his body went numb. This wasn’t right. He’d overworked dozens of times in his life, had pushed himself until he fainted from exhaustion, but never had he felt like this. Something was wrong with him. Something was keeping him fogged and limp. A potion? But he wasn’t at school. His family couldn’t do magic. Drugs? In his food? His drink?

Hours later (or was it minutes?) he heard his uncle’s footsteps coming up the stairs. Harry’s heart began to beat faster. He moaned and tried to roll over, tried to stand. He still couldn’t move! Terror streaked through him and he threw himself to the side. He didn’t even rock. No! No, he couldn’t be helpless! He deserved to be punished. He had accepted that, but why couldn’t he move? He had to move!

The door opened and the hall light sliced into his eyes, blinding him. The door shut. Harry still couldn’t see. His chest was heaving. Vernon’s heavy steps drew closer. Harry could hear him breathing. He whimpered, tried to lift his hand, to ask for mercy just this once. His finger barely twitched.

His eyes began to clear. He saw a large round outline, leaning close. Hands were tugging at his shirt. Cool air brushed over him, he whimpered again and hot tears ran into his ears. Not the belt. But he deserved it. It would hurt, but it was just pain. He would live through it. Unlike Sirius. It was the least he deserved.

I’ve been looking in the mirror for so long…

Hands again. His pants were sliding down, exposing him. Harry’s eyes widened and he began to struggle, choking noises rising from his throat in panic. The window rattled a bit as his magic tried to push out. It was finally rising up to protect him and Harry almost cried out in relief. But it slipped away, slid through his mental fingers until he couldn’t reach it. No! Something was blocking him, numbing his control over his power!

But I’ve come to believe…

“Worthless freak.” Vernon growled. “It’s about time you started paying me back for all the trouble you’ve put my family through.”

…my soul’s on the other side…

Soft cries filled the room as Harry was rolled onto his stomach. His limp arms were pulled back behind him to the small of his back. One of Vernon’s large hands captured the thin wrists easily, effectively becoming living shackles. The small body beneath him began to tremble slightly and Vernon growled, working faster. A subtle tremor ran through the floor, but fell still once more.

All the little pieces falling...

Harry lay helpless. His legs were spread and then his knees bent. It was all so slow. He wanted to scream, tried to, but not even his throat was under his control anymore. Mindless with terror, he tried to fight. Bite, scratch, anything to get himself free. Naked. Hands running over his skin. He was gasping, hyperventilating as his high pitched whining and the stink of his fear filled the room. His shoulders burned from the pressure his uncle was putting on them, but that was forgotten as he became aware of something smooth and hard brushing his bare cheeks. Harry jerked once, a wail rising from his throat, the sound of a wounded animal. The magic kept slipping away.

… Shattered…

“No.” Harry managed to moan before slow agony enveloped his world. “Nooooooo.”

Shards of me too sharp to put back together…

Harry was familiar with pain. But this was not just pain. Slowly, excruciatingly, his uncle slid fully into him, pulling tight at his wrists. Why? Why was this happening? No! He didn’t want this! Stop it! Stop! Why wasn’t his magic coming? Useless, freak. Pain. Humiliation. His uncle was panting, moaning. Harry could hardly breathe. Thrust. Thrust. Foul, disgusting. Completely helpless.

…too small to matter…

“Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. Oh, fuck. So good. Bloody hell.”

… but big enough to cut me into so many little pieces…

Faster. Soul deep. Vile. Weak. Harry was keening and urine soaked into the mattress adding to the scent of terror. The hot acid of it spreading to his stomach. The stench, the rocking. His uncle’s slimy sweat on his bare back, coating his skin. He choked and bile rose in the back of his throat. Panicking, he tried to thrash again. He jerked, the window cracked.

And I bleed…

He was wild, lost, drowning. With fear. With pain. Filth poured into his soul and his uncle cried out hoarsely as he released his terrible seed deep in Harry’s unwilling body. Harry heaved with a wretched cry. Vernon grunted and shoved him over onto his side, and Harry’s vomit soaked into his hair. Blood coated semen began leaking from between his legs. Harry was frantic to get it off of him. Get it out! But he could only twitch a muscle spasmed every few seconds. Frantic to escape the panting gasps coming from his uncle, escape the deep pain, the still clawing fear more powerful than he had ever known, he dove into himself. He dove so deep that he was no longer conscious even though his eyes were open, staring. Corpse-like.

… I bleed…

He never saw his cousin creep into his room and carry him into the bathroom to clean him up. He never heard Dudley’s promises that Vernon would never touch him again. He never noticed his aunt kicking Vernon from the house and calling the cops. He didn’t notice the days go by. Didn’t notice as Dudley fed him twice a day and talked to him constantly. He never heard his aunt tell him to gather his things and get ready to go to the train station. Never realized his body obeyed and moved and breathed without him. He didn’t see. Wasn’t aware. He was dead.

Severus staggered from the house and vomited. Then he walked a few feet more just to hunch over, bile pouring from his mouth. This was bad. Very, very bad. Rape was a violent primitive violation of a person’s soul and body. The last rape of a magical witch or wizard had happened one hundred and thirty eight years ago. That was how rare it was. Molestation was a little more common, but still a vile transgression.

Molestation in the wizarding world was when one casts a spell to make an unwilling partner loose their mind temporarily with lust. Or when one’s body is used while they are unconscious, but the outright rape of a person when their mind is naked of any intoxication and fully aware was beyond loathsome.

In the wizarding world, rape was the worst crime one could conceive of. It was worst than murder and the same as soul stealing. It was so bad that a rapist is executed immediately without trial because a witch or wizard rape victim lost not only their dignity and control, but also their magic. Whereas molester would get a trial and go to prison, the victim of molestation would be damaged, but not permanently handicapped.

For whatever reason that the person’s innate magic was unable to stop the rape, the victim will feel a deep betrayal and will wall themselves off from their own power permanently and irreversibly. Never before in magical history had a rape victim regain full control of their magic, and every single one, no exceptions, eventually killed themselves.

On average, most died within a month of the rape. The longest a rape victim had ever survived was eight months and that was because they were watched constantly. But when the victim was prevented from ending her life, her heart just stopped. There was no physical reason. Her heart just gave out.

“And I breathe…… I breathe no more…”

Severus shivered with horror and threw up again. He’d never seen a rape victim. He’d read about it of course, but never had he met someone who had been so violated. Not even the Death Eaters, during raids, while torturing muggles, had raped anyone. Shaking, he sunk to his knees with a moan. He couldn’t get it out of his head. He kept seeing that broken child, held immobile and taken against his will. He could still hear Harry’s animal-like cries of pain and terror. He could still smell the fear, urine, despair, and sickness mixing with the smell of sex.

He heaved again, but nothing came up. Tears were falling down his bloodless cheeks. He had to get it together. He had to apperate back to the school. But he couldn’t stand. He was paralyzed. He literally couldn’t think around what he knew. Harry had been raped. He gagged. Oh, Merlin. He couldn’t fix this. He couldn’t! He shut his eyes tight against the desolate gray of predawn, huddled and miserable on the Dursley’s front yard. The smell of his own vomit clung to him. The horror of that house writhed in his mind. He had to bite his lip hard to keep from screaming.

Draco jerked awake as his curtains were pulled open, his hand snapping under the pillow to grip his wand. When he saw it was just Pansy, he relaxed and stretched with a yawn. His friend blushed deeply at realizing he was shirtless. Draco smirked lazily, but Pansy shook her head sharply.

“Something’s wrong with Professor Snape.”

Draco stood quickly, threw on a shirt, and hurried after her. The Head of Slytherin House had a suite a hall away from the Common Room. Pansy was explaining that she had woken from a bad dream and went for a walk, and found his door wide open. Severus never left his door open. Draco looked into the sitting room and found his godfather lying on the couch, his knees brought up to his chest. He looked to be sleeping, but every few seconds his whole body would shake.

“I’ll take care of it.” Draco said firmly.

“Are you sure?” Pansy frowned.

“Yes. Go on.” He pushed her out the door and shut it.

Carefully, he crept to his godfather’s side. The man looked sick. His face was chalky pale and clammy. His eyes were twitching rapidly under his red rimmed eyelids. And there was the shivering and defensive position. Draco went to the cabinet across the room and pulled out a Calming draught and a Dreamless Sleep potion. He carefully poured both into his godfather’s mouth and helped him swallow. Severus moaned softly in distress before sinking under.

“Rest.” Draco said softly.

His eyes were dark with worry as he left the man alone and hurried to Dumbledore’s office to inform him Severus wouldn’t be teaching today. He’d never seen his godfather like that before. Not when he was hexed with Crucio, not when he came home from being forced to participate in the Dark Lord’s games. Draco had seen him frightened, angry, disgusted, and depressed, but he’d never seen him so shaken before. It looked like things were worse than he could have ever guessed.

The four Gryffindors, lead by Hermione, went straight to Dumbledore’s office as soon as their morning classes were over. All of them were really worried about Snape not teaching any of his classes. They didn’t believe the story of him coming down with Wizarding Flu at all. They knew it had something to do with Harry. And they knew it didn’t mean anything good, and they were determined to find out the truth.

They got to the gargoyle, but before they could even start guessing at the password it sprang aside. They didn’t complain and hurried up the stairs. Dumbledore stood at a window, his arms crossed tightly over his chest, and his back to them. The four said nothing and waited patiently, but as the minutes dragged on their fear grew. Finally, Hermione couldn’t take it anymore.

“Sir? Headmaster? Is everything alright with Professor Snape? Is Harry okay?” She asked in a rush.

Dumbledore turned slowly. It looked like he was made of rusted tin and the Gryffindors paled. The ancient wizard gestured to the chairs in front of his desk and they slowly sat. Dumbledore took his own seat behind his desk, with a long sigh. Fawkes flew over and began trilling soothingly. Dumbledore smiled and stroked his head feathers.

“Professor Snape will be fine. He’s tired from casting the memory charms, but the house is done and he has all the information he needs to help Harry. I’ve spread the flu rumor because Professor Snape will want a few days exclusively with Harry.”

“Do you think he’ll be fine? Professor Snape knows how to help him?” Hermione asked excitedly.

“Professor Snape will do all he can.” Dumbledore promised. “But it will be a hard process. He must get Harry to accept what he went through and that will be painful for Harry. Also, Professor Snape is trying to get him to be honest and that is not an easy task. Because of the situation, I’m going to have to ask you not to visit Harry again until Professor Snape makes progress. You are Harry’s incentive in a way.”

“But Professor!” Ron protested. “We want Harry to know we’re there for him no matter what! Not only if he does what he’s told!”

“I understand that and so will Harry. He’ll be told that your visits are up to Professor Snape’s discretion. So he’ll know you want to see him, but it is Snape preventing it.”

“We understand.” Hermione said softly. “How will we ask the Professor if we can see him?”

“Come to me. We don’t want you associated with Professor Snape any more than normal. No one can know of Harry’s condition and any unusual behavior will draw the curious.”

“So that means we have to be perkier in class.” Ginny said.

“Yes. It seems others have already noticed your attitudes. It is inconsistent to the story that Harry is merely away training.”

“We can say we were acting worried and sad because my Gram was in the hospital.” Neville offered. “It’s true. She was. And I just got a letter this morning saying she’s out and doing fine.”

“Perfect.” Dumbledore beamed at him. “Now off you go and try not to worry so much. Harry is in good hands.”

The Gryffindors said their goodbyes and left the Headmaster alone. Dumbledore sat back in his chair, all of his charm and confidence pouring from him, leaving a man who stared blankly at his desk. Guilt weighed heavily on him. It smashed his spirit, made his bones brittle. Tiredly, he stood and went up to his room.

Severus reviewed the magical recorders that showed what Harry had been doing since he had become aware. He watched the Headmaster’s conversation and the visits by his friends, and bit his lip. Harry didn’t seem suicidal. He even seemed cheerful, but Severus knew better. Harry never once asked where he was or when he was getting out. Without a doubt, if someone offered to let him leave, he’d refuse. He never mentioned what happened, probably wasn’t conscious of it, the memories buried. If anyone got close to unpleasant subjects, his eyes would go glassy and he’d retreat.

But that was only a stalling technique. He was creating insulation between him and the horrors in his mind. It wouldn’t be enough to stop the eventual breakdown and need for death. But this was Harry Potter. Nothing was ever the way it should be. Severus noticed he had reacted strongly to the theme song charm. Maybe he had some control of his magic. If he did, that was a great sign of possible recovery. So that was the first thing he decided to test.

He entered Harry’s room. All of his confidence seemed to be left on the other side of the door. Seeing Harry in person brought back what he witnessed and it took all his self-control not to gag. Luckily, it looked like Harry was sleeping and unaware of his struggle. Taking deep breaths, Severus began walking forward again, his arms filled with a tray carrying lunch. He placed it on the nightstand for now.

“Harry. Wake up. Come on, Potter. I brought you lunch.”

The boy stirred and blinked pale green eyes up at the Professor. Severus kept his face blank, but wanted to frown. Why had Harry’s eyes gone dead again? Was it the song? Did he even remember what it sounded like? They stared at each other and when neither moved nor spoke, Harry’s eyes began to darken slowly. Severus relaxed his shoulders. It must have been him that caused the boy to retreat. Just his presence had made the boy draw away. Maybe thinking he was here to terrorize him.

“Good afternoon, Harry.” Severus said calmly, neither gentle nor harsh. “I assure you that now that we are free of observers I will not act the Death Eater. Are you hungry?”

Harry stared uncertainly. Severus handed him the food and pulled out a book from his robes. It was a muggle psychology book, but the cover was wiped clean. Harry wouldn’t be able to tell what it was about. It took almost two hours for Harry to finish. When he pushed it away, Severus put the book down and put the tray to the side.

“Do you need to use the bathroom?”

“Yes, sir.” Harry said meekly, reminding Severus harshly of how he spoke to Vernon. He almost flinched, but stopped from giving into his reaction completely.

“When we are alone, I like my friends to call me Sev.” Severus lied through his teeth. First, they weren’t friends. Not yet and most likely not ever if Harry had a say. Second, no one had called him Sev in his entire life.

“Yes, Sev.” Harry answered, lips twitching with a smile.

Severus smiled back and picked up the book again so the boy didn’t get uncomfortable. Soon enough, Harry was back and climbing into bed. Severus put down the book and went through a long list of health checks. Harry was patient and answered he felt fine after each question. Severus knew this, but used the impersonal topic to make Harry even more at ease with his presence.

“Do you have your wand? I’d like to check your magical levels.”

“Ummm…” Harry bit his lips. His eyes searching for his wand. He wouldn’t be without it, would he? There! It was on the nightstand. He smiled at his Professor and took it into his hand.

“Try a simple levitation charm on this book.” Severus ordered and Harry nodded.

“Wingardium Leviosa.” He said, swishing his wand.

The book didn’t even tremble. They tried two dozen other spells that Harry should have been able to do easily, but none worked. When asked, Harry said that his wand didn’t feel warm in his hand like it usually did. It felt like normal wood. Severus mentally winced and cowered before the information, but on the outside he nodded and kept a professional façade.

“You just need more rest. Will that be okay? I know you must miss your friends.”

“No. I’m fine here.” Harry hurriedly assured, brushing his bangs from his face and unintentionally reveling his scar.

“I’ll bring you some things to keep you occupied.” Severus offered. “It can get boring wallowing in bed, no?”

Harry’s lips twitched uncertainly. Was that supposed to be funny or was it a critique about his weakness? Severus saw and smoothly put the teen at ease. “I’m quite jealous. I’d love to take some time for rest and relaxation. Enjoy it while you can, Harry.”

“I will, Sev. Thank you.” Harry said, eyes brighter than Severus had seen since he had walked in the room.

“So what’s your preference? Books, cards, chess?”

“Books, I suppose.” Harry shrugged.

Severus knew what that meant. He’d touch none of them unless told to do so. Harry wasn’t engaging in any activity on his own. Severus had to try and get the boy to make the first move somehow. Relief from boredom wouldn’t be enough for Harry to willingly participate in his life. And the opening for him to ask for his friends hadn’t been taken either. Severus nodded absentmindedly and left. He had a lot to think about and plan before he came back.

Draco and his friends walked casually around the lake, enjoying the last sunlight of the day. None were wearing their school robes. Draco had on a black, long-sleeved T-shirt and black slacks. Pansy had on a green gypsy skirt and a white button down shirt. Greg and Vince were wearing dark gray slacks and white T’s. Draco slipped his hands in his pockets and Pansy linked her arm with his.

“So his Gram was sick.” He murmured thoughtfully.

“I don’t buy it.” Vince said firmly.

“If they found out she was better this morning, then why were they even more anxious than before?” Greg asked with a scowl.

“They’re horrible liars.” Pansy agreed. “They didn’t turn carefree until after lunch.”

“And even that attitude is forced.” Draco nodded. “Nothing’s changed; they’re just trying to hide it better.”

“Well, they failed.” Vince snorted.

“And what about Professor Snape?” Greg frowned. “Is he really sick with the flu?”

“Maybe. Most likely.” Draco answered. He felt no qualms covering for his godfather. Even with his friends. “He was feverish and had the chills when I saw him this morning.”

“Because of me.” Pansy sniffed.

“Maybe so.” Draco smiled at her. An eagle owl swooped from the sky and hovered in front of Draco’s face. The teen sighed and accepted the letter it carried. “Business. Let’s head inside. I have to take care of this.”

“Good evening, Harry.” Severus said as he walked in with Harry’s dinner.

The teen had been sitting up and staring mindlessly at the wall. Hearing his Professor, he turned his head and blinked a few times before dredging up a small smile. Severus placed the tray in the teen’s lap, but Harry didn’t move to eat. Severus took off his outer robe and draped it on the back of the chair by the bed. Now he just wore a steel colored sweater and black pants. He also tied back his hair and sat, crossing his legs.

“Do you not like it?”

“What?” Harry blinked again and looked down. “Oh… No… It’s fine.”

Severus watched him through dark seeing eyes, but still Harry didn’t move to eat. “Are you hungry?”

“Oh, no... I’m fine.” Harry offered his empty smile again.

“Why don’t we talk instead?” Severus offered, removing the tray.

“Okay.” Harry murmured, looking up and over Severus’ left shoulder.

“Do you remember Ms. Granger showing you the charm your class learned the other day? The one that plays someone’s theme song?”

“Yes.” Harry answered, blinking again. His eyes focused more and turned to really look at Severus. Severus waited, not wanting to throw the boy’s attention off. “That one… was… really nice.” Harry’s brow creased and he bit his lip. When he spoke again, his words were faster and at a more normal pace. “I’d like to hear it again.”

“Which one?” Severus pounced on it, heart beating fast, though his face didn’t show his interest.

“Hmmm….” Harry turned his face away.

Severus thought he had lost him again, but then Harry began to hum. Slowly the teen got louder. Severus’ eyes widened as he recognized it. Wasn’t that the song that came from Draco?

“Heaven hope come and change me... Out of ashes make me whole…” Harry sung gently. He had a beautiful voice.

“That’s Mr. Malfoy’s song.” Severus said when he was sure Harry wouldn’t say more.

“Draco.” Harry said and turned his eyes back to Severus. “Something happened. He’s changed?”

Severus wanted to jump up and down. Harry was interested. Truly interested, and that could save his life if Severus could just build and expand on that feeling. Damn his godson, but it looked like he’d need his help after all. Thank Merlin tomorrow was Friday.

“I’ll bring him if you want. You two can talk about it.”

Harry’s eyes searched his teacher’s and found no deceit, not that he was confident he’d be able to recognize it even if he did see it. He wanted to say no. This was the boy whose father was there when…. Harry’s mind jerked away and derailed bad. His eyes paled and he sat limp. Severus called him several times before he stirred again.

“What?” Harry asked slowly.

“Did you want to talk about Draco’s song with Draco?”

That song had been in Harry’s mind since he heard it. The words were fascinating. He really did want to hear it first hand. He found himself nodding before he had decided for sure. Severus smiled at him. It was warm and caring. Harry smiled back, pleased, though not sure why he felt that way. Severus handed him the tray again. This time he ate.

Chapter Four

The next day Draco made his way to the potion’s lab instead of to lunch. McGonagall had told him his godfather wanted to see him after class and not to dally. By the time he got there, the room was empty except for Severus. He offered a liquid smile that his godfather didn’t return. Instead, the older wizard gestured to the office and led the way there.

The room was small, but was fanatically organized. Every piece of paper was in its correct cubby or file. All the books were on the book shelves. Even the things on the desk itself were centered and straight. Draco draped himself on the chair in front of the desk and merely lifted a slender eyebrow when he felt seriously powerful privacy spells lift into place.

“I need your help, Draco.” Severus said seriously as he sat. He put his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers before him. “But before you can get involved, I must ask for a magically binding oath of silence.”

Draco didn’t ask pointless questions like ‘is that necessary’. He could tell it was. He remembered his godfather shaking and moaning curled on his couch. Did he really want to be involved in something that could do that? But he knew it had to do with the Golden Boy. And he just had to know more. So he nodded and offered his hand. Severus reached for it and then with a muttered incantation stabbed his wand straight through. Draco hissed, but otherwise held still.

“You will not speak of the things you will learn from me, Dumbledore, or Harry regarding Harry Potter, until such a time as I free you.”

“So I swear.” Draco answered easily and a pulse of magic shot up his arm from his hand. It entered his body and it felt like he was simultaneously being slammed backward and down. But his body didn’t move.

Severus nodded and pulled his wand free. There wasn’t a physical mark. The binding was on Draco’s magic. If Draco should try and break his vow, his own magic would stop him. Draco massaged the hand and raised his eyebrow again. This time from impatience. Severus decided to start at the easy parts and told his godson of how Harry had been found on the train, what they had witnessed in the hospital wing, and since Harry had been taken to the secret room connected to Pomfrey’s office. Draco listened and never interrupted. When Severus fell silent, the blonde narrowed his eyes.

“That’s…unfortunate.” He said delicately. “But you’re leaving something out. And what do you need my help with?”

“You have some understanding of psychology.” Severus stalled.

“Yes. What you’ve taught me. But that’s the point.” Draco drawled. “You’re the master in the area. Not me.”

Severus stood and walked the seven steps across the office. He didn’t reach for any of the books there. Instead, he just stood with his back to Draco, hands shoved in his robes to hide their shaking. Draco waited patiently.

“Harry suffers under guilt so powerful it has twisted his mind. He believes the wrongs of the Dark Lord are his fault because he has not destroyed him yet. He believes this even down to the subconscious level. So his magic didn’t try and protect him from his uncle’s beatings. Harry believed he deserved to be punished. But his uncle went further than that, further than punishment could be taken, and Harry finally disallowed it. His magic tried to protect him, but, unknown to him, his uncle had drugged his food. It made his body unresponsive and somehow got between him and his ability to control his magic. But his mind was left untouched. He was fully aware. As aware as you are now, sitting there.”

“Just tell me.” Draco snapped. He couldn’t stand the build up any longer. His hands were white around his death grip on the chair’s arm rests and his whole body was tense.

“His uncle…” Severus cleared his throat and tried again. “He raped him. Harry was raped by his uncle.”

“Merlin.” Draco whispered hoarsely. “You saw…”

Severus nodded once, sharply, and Draco didn’t press for more answers. He really, really didn’t want to know what his godfather had seen. He couldn’t even imagine it. He didn’t try. The silence dragged on until Severus thought he could face Draco again. He went back to his chair and leaned back, his head tilted up to the ceiling.

“What can I do?” Draco asked softly.

“Ms. Granger and Mr. Weasley told him about the theme song charm to try and cheer him up. For some reason they thought yours was the best choice to do this. But it didn’t make him laugh. Instead, it caught his attention.”

“What are you saying?”

“Because of everything, Harry’s will to live is non-existent. The only reason why he’s still alive is because of his completely passive avoidance. That won’t last long, and he’ll die. Since he’s woken up, he’s not once asked where he was or if he could have things to do. He sits and breathes. But he doesn’t participate. That changed last night.

“Without coaxing, he actively asked about your song and what could have happened to you for it to be your theme. So. I want you to tell your friends you will be leaving tonight after dinner to go home to take care of business. I want you to spend the weekend with me and Harry. Your main job is to keep him interested in life. Mine will be trying to get him to face what happened and get him to want to move past it.”

“How are you going to do that?”

“Baby steps.” Severus sighed and sat straight. “First, I’m going to analyze his theme song with him. See if I can get him to admit to the feelings it expresses, and then we’ll move on to the why he feels that way. If he’s still alive after that, we’ll get into dealing with the misplaced guilt.”

“And all you want me to do is keep him interested?” Draco frowned.

“It’s vital.” Severus said seriously, eyes boring into Draco’s. “I don’t care if it’s for the smallest thing, but Harry has to keep a hold on his feelings of interest, otherwise he’ll never reclaim a will to live. Do you understand?”

“I do.” Draco nodded. “It’s just, I want to do more.”

“One thing at a time, remember?” Severus smiled tiredly and Draco smiled back.

“Meet you after dinner?” Draco asked as he stood.

“My rooms. We’ll floo to the infirmary.” Severus told him and gestured for him to leave.

Severus stood. The Great Hall was a murmur of noise that was gradually getting quieter as the students began to leave for their common rooms. He wasn’t really paying attention. His thoughts were centered on what would happen when he brought Draco to Harry. It could go a thousand different ways, and he was not really thrilled with any of them.

“Severus, my boy. Come see me in my office.” Dumbledore said.

The dark eyed Professor looked up and found Dumbledore standing in the way of the teacher entrance to the Great Hall. He nodded and strode past the Headmaster. Instead of turning left to go to the dungeons, he turned right. Dumbledore followed silently. It only took a few moments to reach the gargoyle guardian and reach the Headmaster’s office. Dumbledore smiled as Severus remained standing.

“Lemon drop?” He asked as he sat behind his desk.

“What can I do for you, Albus?”

“How is young Harry?” He asked.

So Severus briefly and concisely explained what he had observed, the conclusions he had made, and what he planed to do to try and mitigate the damage. Dumbledore listened gravely and nodded his assent. Severus nodded and turned to leave only to come nose to nose with Ron and Hermione. Their eyes lit up on seeing him.

“Professor! Do you think we can see Harry?” Hermione asked hopefully.

“Not yet. I’ll let you know.” Severus snapped and stormed passed them, tired of all the questions. He had work to bloody do.

Harry’s head turned slowly as he heard the door open. He watched as his Professor and Malfoy came in. He blinked slowly. Was it already time to eat again? It felt like that was all he was doing, but he couldn’t imagine the Professor bringing in a tray just to leave and fetch another. He wasn’t really all that hungry. He blinked again and realized that his visitors weren’t standing in the doorway any longer. He moved his eyes from the shut door and found the two Slytherins by his bedside.

Draco stared impassively at the Golden Boy, but inside he was trembling. Those large empty eyes were chilling. He glanced to the side to see his godfather ordering Harry to get up and use the bathroom and to eat. He had to repeat himself often before the meaning of his words sank in, but the green orbs were slowly thawing, waking once more. Finally, Harry was done eating and sat still in the bed again.

“Hello, Potter.” Draco offered and the green eyes met his. Harry didn’t speak. It was then that Draco realized Harry hadn’t said a word since they had entered the room.

“You wanted to hear Draco’s song, didn’t you, Harry?” Severus asked casually.

Harry’s mind replayed the song Hermione sang and it again consumed his attention. He looked to Draco and nodded. Severus cast the charm. Piano music followed by strings filled the room. Then a woman’s high pitched voice. The words soaked into him. They started slow, but picked up as drums were added. Her voice soared and thrummed with emotion.

“Winter winds have gone and faded…… I told the skies of thoughts of gray…... Tears upon my pillow laying, a child lost to pain…... I pray.. for better days…… Lift me up, lead me from this place… I’m rising up. I changed before your eyes. Heaven hope come and change me... Out of ashes make me whole… Lift me up and recreate me.. and help me overcome.. myself… Lead me from hell... I’m rising up. I’m moving on… Give me strength to carry on… I feel the light upon my face…I hear the angel’s words of grace… My broken wings were meant to fly… You lift me up and justify… I’m standing up. I’m standing out… I feel the walls come crashing down…”

The song ended and the music faded away. Harry felt a soft smile touch his lips, but wasn’t sure he was happy. Draco felt his cheeks heat slightly. The charm was rather personal. It touched too closely to the heart he kept hidden, but he guessed that was the point. When he saw the soft smile on the broken boy’s lips, though, he knew he didn’t regret it.

“Pretty. You weren’t always pretty.” Harry murmured and then it was his turn for his cheeks to heat. “I mean, you were once a git, not that I think you were attract…”

Before he could finish the thought, Harry’s face paled dramatically. His pupils shrank to pinpricks and he began moaning deep in his throat. It was a terrified, awful noise, and made the hair stand straight on the back of Draco and Severus’ necks. The Potion Master rushed forward with a calming draught, but as soon as the older man touched him, Harry panicked. He began thrashing and screaming.

Draco staggered backward. The sound was hellish. How could so much noise come from someone so small? He watched with wide, shocked eyes as Harry’s small form fought his godfather. The boy’s head tossed widely, his green eyes now screwed tightly shut. Arms and feet kicked and lashed out, his body arched off the bed. It looked like he was possessed.

“Help me!” Severus snarled as a second blow landed on his face.

Draco launched himself forward and pinned the boy’s lower body. Severus struggled, but eventually got the potion into the teen. Harry’s movements slowed and then finally stopped. His heaving chest stilled into deep even breathing and his face relaxed into sleep. Severus panted for a minute while Draco stood, shaking slightly.

“That went well.” Severus finally drawled.

“I do hope you’re being sarcastic.” Draco sneered, violently brushing his hair from his face. “I do believe he bit you. Your hand is bleeding.”

Harry got worse from there. He became unresponsive again, doing as he was told, but never responding or reacting. Draco helped as much as he could the next day, mostly fetching things, looking things up in Severus’ psychology books, researching spells that affect the mind. By Saturday evening, Severus even relented to bring up the Gryffindors, but they didn’t get a response either. The only thing Harry reacted to was touch and that was always a very bad reaction.

After dealing with a livid Ron Weasley, who said it was his fault Harry’s condition was degenerating, Severus locked himself up all Sunday with Draco. They looked desperately for magical help. It was obvious therapy wasn’t going to work. After hours of research, they hit on something that gave them hope, and they called Dumbledore down to help because they’d need to tweak the spell a bit.

Originally, it allowed one to look at their past. Like a pensive, but still in first person. The viewer would see the memory as crisply as if it were happening again. Now that wouldn’t help, but combined with something they found in a psychology book, they thought it might be just what they needed.

The psychology book said that often children who suffer from abuse believe they deserve it, that it is okay to be treated like that, but once they reach a mature age they can understand that it is wrong, and thereby move on and heal. The trick was to get the child to see the abuse objectively and allow their natural morals to show them the truth.

The best way this is done was by the therapist telling the child that their friend was being abused. They would make up a detailed situation and then asked the victim if it was okay for the friend to be treated so. Nine out of ten times the victim quickly protected the friend by exclaiming that it wasn’t alright at all. Thus enlightenment.

Severus’ idea was to tweak the memory spell. What if they could get Harry to view his own memories, fresh and clear, but while watching feel like he was seeing someone else? Seeing a child he didn’t know. Severus was sure, and Draco agreed, that Harry’s hero complex would kick in instantly and protest. He’d try and protect the child, knowing it was wrong. Then they’d bring him out of it and he’d know it was himself he was trying to protect, that it was his own treatment that was wrong. Severus hoped it would show Harry once and for all that it was okay to protect himself and be angry at his abusers.

The three of them worked for hours and didn’t finish until after dawn. In fact, they didn’t even have time to try out their new spell. Severus had a class to teach and Draco had one to attend.

Dumbledore smiled tiredly at them; “I’ll test this out.”

“Are you sure? I’d like to see it happen.” Severus frowned.

“We’ve done the calculations backward and forward. It will either work or it won’t.” Dumbledore waved at them. “Go on. I’ll let you know.”

The two Slytherins reluctantly did as they were told as the Headmaster gathered up the papers with their work and flooed back to his office. Draco wondered out loud who Dumbledore was going to use as guinea pig as he left Severus’ rooms. Severus snorted, following after his godson.

“If we’re lucky, he’ll call over Fudge. That way if it doesn’t work our disappointment will be assuaged by Fudge’s incompetent head exploding.”

Draco’s laugh echoed through the halls.

“I just don’t get it!” Ron muttered darkly at breakfast. They had spent all yesterday with Harry and their friend hadn’t responded at all. “I know what happened to him was awful, but come on!”

“Shut up, Ron.” Hermione glared, stabbing her sausage violently. “You have no clue what he’s going through.”

“It’s rough. He got knocked around by his family. They were worse this summer than ever before. I get it.” He glared back. “But Harry’s faced You-Know-Who and come away smiling. He’s stronger than this!”

“Sooo… What? You think he’s faking?” Ginny threw her fork into her food, obviously a millisecond from exploding.

“You guys. We shouldn’t do this here.” Neville said nervously, eyeing his housemates who were now watching with curious and suspicious eyes.

“Get over yourself, Ronald.” Hermione hissed and stormed from the table.

“Some friend you are.” Ginny added with a murderous glare and followed the brown haired bookworm.

Ron hunched mutinously and attacked his breakfast as if it had insulted him. Neville sat beside him. He wanted to follow his girlfriend, but it would feel too much like abandoning Ron. He sighed and stayed seated, silently praying that Harry got better soon. They all needed him.

“How was business?” Pansy asked Draco.

“Fine. Though it’s not set in stone. It will need my attention for a few days yet.”

They entered the Transfiguration classroom and found their seats. Weasley came in a few minutes after them, but he didn’t take the seat next to Granger. The girl shot him a dark glare before turning away, her nose in the air. Weasley skulked to the seat next to Finnigan. The blonde asked what was wrong, but Weasley snarled for him to mind his own business. Pansy turned and lifted her eyebrow at Draco.

“Trouble in paradise.” Draco smirked.

“Think it’s because of the missing third wheel?” Pansy smiled slyly. “Maybe we can rock the boat and see what falls out.”

Last year, Draco would have grinned and been the first to instigate the fight. But now it just seemed petty and a waste of energy. Not only that, but he could sympathize with the Gryffindors. It was very stressful, to say the least, spending any amount of time with Potter. The boy’s tortured screams filled his head again and he glared at Pansy, his silver eyes cutting into her.

“Why don’t you at least try and sound intelligent? Keep your metaphors straight, at least.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Pansy snapped, hands going to her hips as she glared at her best friend.

Draco didn’t answer. Instead he ignored her and pretended to pay attention to McGonagall. Really, all he thought about was the spell and wondering if it would work.

Draco was sitting in between Vince and Greg at lunch when a regal owl dropped a letter in his plate. Pansy was sitting with Millicent several seats away. She was still peeved with Draco and wasn’t talking to him. He couldn’t really bring himself to care overly much. Just another childish reaction, and he didn’t really feel like dealing with it. He opened the letter. It was from Severus. The spell had worked and they were going to do it tonight after dinner. Draco was to go to bed early and then sneak to Severus rooms.

“Business,” the blonde impassively explained to any who were curious and cast a burning charm on the paper.

Severus and Draco entered Harry’s room with Dumbledore following. The ancient wizard assured them that it had worked, but it would take three minds. One would be the caster, while the second would be the memory provider, and a third party would be needed to link to the second’s mind to make sure all went as it should and to give the impartiality the second would see through while watching their own memories. They had decided Draco would play that role and Severus would be the caster. Dumbledore was too tired, he claimed, to take either position and remain steady and would instead remain nearby in case something went wrong.

The dark eyed wizard gently levitated Harry. Dumbledore banished the bed and all the other furniture as Draco carefully drew a triangle on the ground with white light. He encircled it, making the circle touched all three points, and Severus gently laid Harry out at the base of the triangle.

He took up position at the top point of the triangle so that he was facing Harry’s prone form. Draco stepped on the outline of the circle, directly across from his godfather and only a few inches from Harry’s waist. Throughout all of this, Harry hadn’t moved besides to blink dull eyes. Dumbledore stood in a corner, watching silently.

“Are you ready?” Severus asked and Draco nodded.

The dark eyed man raised his arms so that they were directly above and in line with the triangle’s sides, palms down. He had a wand in each hand between thumb and forefinger, his own in his right and Draco’s in the left. He incanted the temporary bonding spell and golden light glowed around Draco’s and Harry’s head. Draco’s silver eyes deadened, but not quiet as dull as Harry’s had been. And Harry’s got glassier, a bit more alive. Smoothly without transition, Severus sailed into the memory invocation, quasi-Latin falling from his lips.

Three minutes passed, then five. One mistake would throw the magic off. The circle glowed blue, the triangle white, and the golden cloud still clung to the teenagers. With a sharp punctuation, but keeping himself absolutely still, Severus said the last word. He studied the boys before him, feeling drained as the last of his magic poured from him. Both boys’ chests rose and fell at the exact same time. Even their heart beats matched perfectly.

“What do you see, Draco?”

“Nothing.” Draco answered dully, slowly.

Severus glanced at the Headmaster. Dumbledore was frowning. His white bearded head shook saying that wasn’t right. Draco should be seeing one of Harry’s memories with the boy. But the figures were glowing with power and Severus had poured out all he had, had tapped into Draco and poured that in too. There was no way that nothing was happening, was there?

“Do you see a memory?” Severus pressed.

“No. Nothing.” Draco answered.

With a very disappointed sigh, Severus spoke the incantation to end and disperse the magic worked. There was a very audible snap, like a great redwood tree breaking in half, and then a magical concussion slammed through the room. The walls dented out, the ceiling and floor cracked, spider web lines shooting off from around the drawn circle in the floor. Severus was thrown backward into a wall and he saw Dumbledore crumple bonelessly before blackness claimed him as well. It happened so fast, that he didn’t even feel any pain.

Chapter Five

Draco blinked then began struggling. He eventually freed himself from the tangled net holding him and stepped free to find himself naked. An equally naked boy, smaller than him, popped up beside him. Draco eyed the thick, black, tousled hair before breaking out into giggles. The boy squinted, little nose scrunched up.

“Cute baby!” Draco squealed and hugged the smaller boy to him. The blonde’s angelic smile melted when he felt the smaller boy tense. He pulled back a bit without lowering his arms from around the baby, and found the little boy looking past him over his shoulder with fear in his wide eyes.

He turned to look, growing frightened himself, but saw only a woman rushing over. Her robes were swirling around her as she ran and her hair was standing up every which way. He giggled again and turned to the boy to reassure him that it was okay. Obviously, the woman was too silly looking to be scary, but the baby was terrified. He was shaking and silent tears ran down pale, slightly chubby cheeks. Draco stood confused and uncertain, his own eyes growing wide.

“Oh, Merlin!” The woman gasped as she fell to her knees before them. Her arms reached out and grabbed the baby up. Draco watched as the baby choked as he was lifted high in the air in the woman’s arms, but his red mouth quickly fell open to release a terrified wail. Draco immediately began to scream as the sound cut into him, the fear contagious.

The sound of a child’s cry, especially one of such need yanks hard on the heart. It is a powerful draw for anyone with a parental instinct, no matter how small, and it pulled Severus from unconsciousness. The black eyed man sat bolt upright and immediately regretted it. He gripped his head, trying to keep it from shattering. But the shrill screams pulled him to his feet.

Through blurry eyes, he found one of the children that was crying and dropped to his knees. What was happening? Was he on a raid? But those thoughts were unimportant compared to the crying toddler he was now cradling to his chest protectively. The toddler quieted, grasping Severus’ robes in a death grip. Frightened gray eyes slowly came into focus as Severus rocked gently back and forth, crooning to the still frightened child in his arms.

“Daddy.” The boy said with tearful relief and then pointed a tiny hand in the direction of the other source of the piercing screams. “Fix baby, Daddy!”

Severus couldn’t find the words to protest the child’s title for him. He could barely move without blacking out, but there was another child in desperate need. Gritting his teeth hard enough to crack them, Severus stood, drawing his wand with his free hand. His other arm was full with the sniffling toddler he had rescued. He pointed at the figure hunched over the wailing child and cast the strongest Stupefy he could. The figure collapsed sideways.

Instantly, Severus stumbled over to the bed, fearing to see the worst. But the naked baby looked unharmed. The toddler in his arms wiggled free to curl up next to the softly whimpering dark haired baby. The gray eyed child pet the other soothingly, but was still upset, tears still falling from his eyes. Severus sighed and dropped onto the bed, unable to stand. He lay next to the small children, promising he’d only stay until the parents came back for their misplaced offspring.

Deep and silky, his words washed over the distressed boys until the crying stopped. Both of them huddled under the safety of Severus’ sheltering arm. They were both asleep in minutes. Severus thought he’d join them. He was so tired, but had to stay awake and protect the children until someone came. The last he saw before he gave in to his exhaustion was the black haired boy curled up between him and the blonde, sucking on his tiny little thumb. The blonde lay on his back; one arm flung out and trapped under the other boy’s head while the other hand was up by his ear.

Severus woke feeling hung-over, but better than he had. As memories slowly trickled in, he sat up with a gasp. Beside him, under the comforter covering them, were Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. The blonde had been whispering quietly to Harry, who was still sucking his thumb, but now sat up, smiling widely

“Daddy! You awake!” He clapped his little hands. “Good. I’m hungry.”

Severus could only blink stupidly. Draco looked no more than four years old and Harry even younger if size had anything to do with it. If they had been standing, Severus thought they’d barely get past his knees. Something had obviously gone very wrong with the spell. And was Draco calling him Daddy?

“Daddy, hungry!” Little Draco’s smile disappeared to be replaced with an impatient pout, his little hands tugging on Severus’ sleeve.

“Right.” He said intelligently and got out of bed. Draco beamed at him in approval.

He hurried from the room, panic and shock making his thoughts sluggish. It wasn’t until he saw Poppy in the infirmary tending to an unconscious Dumbledore that he remembered attacking her. Dismayed, he got her attention and hoped she didn’t hold it against him. Miraculously, she didn’t for she turned and smiled tiredly at him.

“You’re awake. Good.” She gestured to the seat next to Albus and he dropped into it.

“That’s what toddler Draco said.” He said numbly. “He’s hungry.”

“I’ll send for food.” She nodded. “Albus is fine. Hit his head hard, and he’s not a young as you. But you’ll both be fine with rest.”

“What time is it? And what did you find out about the boys?” Severus asked, running both his hands through his hair shakily.

“It is eleven in the morning on Tuesday; Minerva is handling the classes and covering for the Headmaster. You’ve all been asleep a good ten hours. My tests show Draco Malfoy is now a perfectly normal and healthy boy of four years, six months, and twenty-five days. And Harry is the same, but he is only four years, one month, and nine days old.” She reported and then laughed breathlessly with nerves. “I can’t find any indication at all that this is some form of transfiguration or find any traces of a spell induced condition. Nothing.”

“So you’re saying it’s not reversible.” Severus closed his eyes tight.

“It was caused by Harry’s ability to alter situations to bring the most improbable results.” Albus said tiredly from beside them.

“Albus! How do you feel?” Poppy immediate leaned over and fussed with her patient.

“Fine.” He smiled weakly. “Just feeling my age.”

“What do you mean?” Severus demanded.

“I was thinking…”

“You’ve been unconscious.” Poppy protested.

Dumbledore smiled with his eyes twinkling again, “I was thinking that Harry had blocked off his magic, but that didn’t mean his magic wouldn’t react when forcefully interacted with.”

“The theme song charm.” Severus understood immediately.

“What?” Poppy demanded.

“His magic was being concentrated, triply strong because it was locked permanently away.” Dumbledore explained. “So when the theme charm was cast on him, the whole school could hear.”

“And when the powerful spell we cast to make Harry impartially see his childhood hit him, the spell gained momentum and turned him into a child instead. Along with Draco who was temporarily bonded to him.” Severus groaned.

“We don’t know how temporary that bond is anymore.” Dumbledore shook his head. “It could have been broken once the spell no longer needed it to change Draco along with Harry, but Harry’s magic could have amplified that aspect of the spell as well and made the bond permanent.”

“Merlin.” Poppy breathed. “And he’s been through so much. It will kill a child to have those things weigh on him.”

“I don’t think so.” Dumbledore smiled happily. “This is our second chance. His memories could have been erased as well as his years. We could start over with him and do it right this time.”

“That doesn’t explain why Draco is calling me Daddy.”

Both Dumbledore and Poppy turned to look at him. First with incomprehension, then at the same time their faces broke into delighted smiles.

“No!” Severus stood abruptly and crossed his arms defensively across his chest. “I will not pretend to be their father! I am a spy, and can’t stop teaching or doing my job as Head of Slytherin. I can’t, Albus!”

“You’re right.” Dumbledore nodded agreeably, but he hadn’t stopped twinkling. “Even though your duties as a spy have been light recently, you will need help, of course, during the day. I think they should room with you. As you know, Voldemort has been on the move. On a mission only he knows, and no Death Eater can find him to report. They and you must wait until he Calls. It’s been two weeks since his last Call, so you have the extra time needed to take care of the boys temporarily. Besides, you’re the only one who will be able to tell how much the children remember and if they will need therapy.”

Damn it, the bastard was right! Severus thought and scowled darkly at his two co-workers.

Poppy jumped up, saying she’d put together a tray of food appropriate for children their ages and hurried to her office. Severus sulked. Dumbledore knew how uncomfortable he felt around small children. Really, the first and second years still bothered him, and now he was responsible for toddlers! One of which called him Daddy. Severus felt his palms break out in a sweat and his face go pale.

“Severus, my boy.” Dumbledore said gently. “They need you. And I know you can do this. Have faith in me if you can’t have faith in yourself.”

Severus wanted to bite back at his mentor for doing this to him, to lash him with hurtful words, but couldn’t. The old man that was sitting in the hospital bed was obviously tired, but happier than he had been in days. He couldn’t destroy the little hope his mentor had found. Not when it eased some of the torment in the old man’s soul. He sighed and stood straight as Poppy called him to her office.

She had conjured up two highchairs and held in her arms a tray with two plates and two sippy-cups. On the plates was a dollop of mash potatoes, fish-sticks cut up into small bite-size pieces, and buttery peas. Poppy nodded with a smile to her desk where two small white T-shirts and underwears sat.

“Grab those and levitate the chairs, please, Severus.”

He did as he was told and they entered the room. High piping laughter filled the air. Draco and Harry were jumping on the bed; well Draco was jumping while Harry just stood there smiling and bouncing as Draco made the bed shake. Harry saw the adults first and his eyes went wide. His thumb went immediately to his mouth and he crouched down fearfully.

Draco turned to see and he cried out in joy. “Daddy! You took fev’or!” Then he turned to the now trembling Harry. “Is okay, baby. Daddy brought brake-fast.”

“Awww.” Poppy cooed as Draco patted Harry on the head. “Don’t be scared Harry. See how brave Draco is?”

She went over to the bed and placed the tray on the nightstand. Harry crawled to the furthest corner of the bed from her and she frowned, but Draco jumped up and down in front of her to get her attention, demanding food. She smiled and smoothed his hair.

“Let’s get you in some clothes while Severus sets up your special chairs.”

Severus took the cue and placed the highchairs near the bed while Poppy pulled the underwear and shirt on Draco. She turned to do the same to Harry, but the small child burst into tears and reached with both hands toward Severus. She backed off immediately. Severus could only stare, shocked, as the fearful child reached to him trustingly.

“Severus, why don’t you dress Harry? I’ll get Draco started on his breakfast.” She prodded him into action as she lifted Draco into her arms and carried him over to one of the highchairs.

He swallowed hard and approached Harry. The boy quieted, putting his thumb back into his mouth, but his other arm was still reaching. Carefully, terrified he’d drop the boy, Severus lifted Harry into his arms. Harry buried his wet face into Severus’ shoulder, his free hand coming up to grab a lock of Severus’ shoulder-length, black hair. The Potions Master felt the smooth, warm skin in his hands, could feel the tiny, slowly calming heart, and felt the child’s muscles relax. This little life was in his hands, had wanted desperately to be there. It was an incredible feeling. He could hardly breathe around the tightness in his chest.

“Daddy!” Draco called around Poppy. “Look at me, Daddy!”

Severus blinked and looked over. The blonde was holding his spoon like a shovel, but was obviously proud that he was doing it himself. Poppy was laughing softly as she tried to wipe the potatoes from the boy’s chubby cheeks.

“Very good.” Severus murmured and it was the right thing to say for little Draco’s face lit up with a beautiful joy. He smiled back at the little boy and walked over to grab the shirt and underwear Poppy had provided. He tried to pry Harry away from him to dress the boy, but Harry clung, whimpering. At a loss, Severus rubbed his back.

“It’s alright, Harry. I won’t let you go. I just want to put these on you.” He said soothingly and Harry let himself be pushed back a bit. It took a bit of maneuvering to dress the boy without putting him down, but Severus did it. “See. That wasn’t so bad. You’re okay. Look. Draco’s almost done eating. Aren’t you hungry?”

Harry just pressed himself harder into Severus’ chest, thumb firmly in his mouth.

Draco piped up helpfully; “Baby not like lady.”

“Is that it? You’re scared of Poppy?” Severus asked worriedly, but Harry didn’t answer.

“I need to check on Albus anyway.” Poppy said with a smile. “You’re doing fine. Come get me if you need help.”

“She’s gone, Harry.” Severus murmured when the door shut behind the medi-witch. Harry lifted his head a bit and looked around carefully, still clinging tight to Severus’ robes. His eyes narrowed, squinting, but he was obviously satisfied with what he saw for he allowed Severus to place him in the empty highchair next to Draco’s.

“All better.” Draco said softly, looking over at the smaller boy with a smile. Harry nodded and smiled weakly back.

“Why are you scared of Poppy, Harry? Will you tell me?” Severus coaxed, but Harry only stared at him.

“Baby doesn’t talk.” Draco told him while mashing his spoon down on some of the fish-stick bites. “But that’s okay, right, Daddy? You not mad?”

“No. I’m not mad.” Severus promised. He picked up the remaining bib and tied it around Harry’s neck. Then he brought the plate of food and drink and set it on the tray of the highchair.

“Like this, baby!” Draco yelled and waved the spoon in the air to show how he was holding it. Harry squinted and fingered his own spoon, but didn’t lift it.

“Here.” Severus took the tiny hand in his own and helped the fingers curl around the spoon handle. Feeling no resistance, Severus also scooped up the first bite for him. Harry grinned and giggled, bringing the bite to his mouth on his own. Once his mouth closed around it, Draco clapped, spoon unfortunately still in hand, which sent food flying every which way.

“I don’t remember you being a messy child.” Severus frowned at the blonde.

“Sorry, Daddy.” Draco lowered his head mournfully.

“I’m your godfather, Draco.” Severus sighed and reached over to pat the boy on his head once. “Now finish your breakfast. Thank you for helping with Harry.”

Draco lifted his head, smiling tentatively, and did as he was told. Draco finished first, maybe fifteen minutes later. He was a much messier eater than Harry, but that was mostly because he ate faster and talked while he ate. Now that Severus did remember. Once Draco turned three, the boy had only stopped talking when he slept.

“Done!” He cried triumphantly.

Severus looked him over. He had peas in his blonde hair and potatoes around his mouth again. The fish-sticks batter coated his sticky hands. Severus sighed and looked over at Harry who was still eating quietly, green eyes relaxed and calm.

“Harry? Will you be okay here by yourself, while I go over to that door there with Draco to wash him up?”

Harry smiled and nodded, stuffing a spoonful of peas in his mouth.

“Good.” He smiled. “I’ll be right back and we’ll hear you if you yell.”

Unsure if he was handling this right, but seeing no other way of doing things, Severus went over to Draco. The blonde lifted his arms to be picked up with a happy smile. Severus smiled back, but spoke firmly.

“Don’t touch till you’re clean.”

“Kay!” Draco giggled, and as Severus lifted him out of the chair, he obediently kept his hands well clear of Severus’ robes.

Severus placed him gently on the ground; he was unsure if the boy could stand on his own (which was stupid considering he saw the boy jumping on the bed earlier). Still, he was shocked when the blonde took off running to the door Severus had pointed out to Harry. He quickly jogged after him. Draco was way too short to reach the sink, so he lifted the boy again. They were both clumsy with it, but they eventually got Draco clean. The boy laughed the whole time and both of their shirts were distinctly wet. Severus was just drying Draco’s face with a towel when they heard Harry scream.

He rushed back into the room with Draco in his arms. Harry was in the highchair, scrunched to one side, as far from Poppy as he could get. The witch looked like she was going to burst into tears at the rejection. Severus placed Draco on the floor and scooped Harry into his arms. The boy immediately stopped crying and huddled, shaking and gasping, in Severus’ embrace.

“Is he alright?” Poppy asked tightly. “I didn’t mean to scare him.”

“I know.” Severus reassured her, rubbing circles on the small boy’s back till the shaking stopped. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Draco tugged on Poppy’s robes and when she looked down he spread his arms wide, “All clean!”

“Such a good boy.” Poppy praised him and lifted him into her arms, tickling his stomach. Draco squealed with laughter. “I brought you two boys some toys to play with.”

“Yay! Pres’dants!” Draco squirmed till she put him back on the floor.

She pointed to the box she had brought with her. It was almost as tall as Draco and twice as long. Draco intelligently used all his strength to tip it over. It caused half the toys to spill free, but now he could get at them. She laughed at his antics.

“I’ll be back. I’m going to clean Harry up.” Severus said. Poppy nodded and sat on the floor with Draco to show him how to play with everything.

Severus went to the bathroom and as soon as they were out of sight of Poppy Harry’s grip on him relaxed some. He looked down at the child thoughtfully. Green eyes stared back calmly, though he was sucking his thumb, a testament that he still remembered the upset and needed the extra comfort the action provided.

“I’m going to wash you up. You’ve got your breakfast all over you.” Severus said as lightly as he could.

The small boy nodded and allowed himself to be sat next to the sink and washed. He didn’t laugh as Draco had, but didn’t protest. Concerned, Severus flicked water at the boy’s face. He knew that always made Draco laugh and he needed to at least see the small child smile. Harry scrunched up his face and leaned away, giggling happily. Severus smiled back and ruffled his thick hair.

“That’s more like it.” And in a few minutes, Harry was clean and Severus placed him on the floor. “Want to go play with Draco?”

Harry nodded and ran out of the bathroom; thumb no longer in his mouth. Severus went to follow when Harry plowed back into his legs, crying softly. Severus crouched and the boy wound his little arms around his neck instantly, hiding his face. Severus sighed and went into the room. Harry had forgotten Poppy was there and as soon as he had seen her he had come back frightened and upset.

Poppy and Draco were ignorant of what had happened. They were sitting on the floor and putting together a three car train. Once all three pieces were attached and in the right order, it came to life and drove in a circle, whistling before stopping. You had to break it apart and put it back together to get it to move again.

“Poppy, I want to see if it’s just you that Harry is so afraid of. Could you leave and in ten minutes send in Albus?”

“Sure.” She smiled and stood.

Severus took her place and Draco excitedly explained how to work the train. He praised Draco’s cleverness and soon Harry was trying it himself from his position in Severus’ lap. Draco happily showed him the toys and his skill with them.

“This one goes like this!” Draco said and placed the blue ball in the blue hole. Blue light shot out in a small soundless firework. “But have to get same colors.”

“That’s right.” Severus put the red ball in the red hole and got a red firework. Then he slid Harry carefully off his lap and stood, curious to see if that did anything. The boy hardly glanced up, too absorbed in playing with Draco to really care. Severus left the room by walking into the bathroom, but there was no upset reaction in Harry. “Draco come here a second!”

“Right back, kay, baby?” Draco said as he got to his feet. Harry nodded with a smile and Draco trotted over to the bathroom, stopping in front of Severus. “Yes, Daddy?”

“I just wanted to say how proud I am of you for playing so nicely with Harry.” He said and patted the blonde on the head.

“Mommy says hav’ta be soft and sweet to babies.” Draco answered, dimple flashing in his left cheek as he smiled.

“Your Mommy? Where is she?”

“Home?” Draco answered, uncertainly.

“Thank you. You can go play again.”

“Kay!” He was gone in a flash.

Severus peeked around the corner to see Draco plop down next to Harry. The dark haired boy welcomed him. He hadn’t been disturbed in the slightest about being left alone. Severus walked out and stood near them, watching them play. Harry lifted his head, but smiled when his narrowed eyes saw that it was only Severus and went back to playing. He never talked, but he laughed and participated in the games. Draco didn’t seem to mind his silence and talked enough in his garbled sentences for the both of them.

The door opened and Dumbledore walked slowly inside. Harry’s head came up and he made a strange sound, like a choked scream before jumping up and running to Severus. Draco watched with wide eyes as Severus bent and lifted the crying child, then the blonde turned to look at the smiling old man and just didn’t understand why the baby kept getting frightened.

“It’s okay, Harry.” Severus was saying, petting the boy while rocking slightly back and forth. “I won’t let anyone hurt you. That’s only Dumbledore. He’s a good man. You’re alright.”

“Hello there, young Draco.” Dumbledore smiled down at the uncertain child.

“Hea’wo.” Draco smiled. “Wanna play?”

“I’d love to.” The old wizard slowly sat on the floor.

“But I play with baby when he gets back.” Draco warned.

“I understand.” Dumbledore smiled. “Now what does this do?”

And Draco was off, telling the man all about the things from the toy box. Meanwhile, Severus was sitting on the bed, with a now calm Harry. The boy was sucking his thumb and was cuddled into the crook of Severus’ arm.

“You have to tell me what’s frightened you, Harry, or I can’t help you.” Severus coaxed, but Harry wouldn’t speak. “Will you nod your head if I guess right? Do all big people scare you? Is it because they are strangers?”

But Harry didn’t answer in any way. He only moved to bury his face into Severus’ robes. Okay. The boy was just four years old. Maybe he didn’t understand why he was scared. That was possible. Or he just couldn’t communicate what made him afraid. Severus knew he wasn’t mute because he could laugh and cry just fine. He sighed and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair.

“Do you want to play with Draco?”

The boy looked up into Severus’ face and after a minute nodded. Severus stood and carried him over. The boy tightened his hold on Severus and hid his face again when he saw Dumbledore. Severus sat and held Harry in his lap. Dumbledore pretended they weren’t there, to give Harry time to get use to his presence, but Draco looked expectantly at Severus.

“Baby okay now?”

“His name is Harry, Draco.” Severus smiled. “He’ll be fine in a minute. I don’t think he likes strangers.”

Draco turned serious eyes to Dumbledore, “Daddy says Baby don’t like strangers. Should go.”

“Draco,” Severus reached out to place a reassuring hand on his small, tense back. “Harry needs to get use to some strangers, even if he doesn’t like them. It’s not good for him to be afraid, so we’ll slowly help him get use to them, okay? Dumbledore should stay for a bit.”

“Kay.” Draco said sullenly, eyes on the child still huddled frightened in Severus’ arms. “Is okay, Baby.” Obviously determined to make that Harry’s name. “He go later and then it be just Daddy and me, kay?”

Surprisingly, Harry responded by nodding, thumb in his mouth and head against Severus’ chest. He looked adorable and vulnerable. Dumbledore smiled at him, but that made Harry turn his face back into the folds of Severus’ robes. Draco got Dumbledore’s attention and they played. Severus made comments here and there.

Within forty minutes, Harry was sitting in Severus’ lap facing out, thumb out of his mouth. He smiled and would touch things if Severus or Draco put things within reach, but if Dumbledore handed him things Harry’s thumb would go back into his mouth warningly and he’d lean back against Severus. Dumbledore would back off immediately and Harry would relax again, taking his thumb back out of his mouth after a few minutes.

Severus had a book propped open on one knee and was pointing to the words as he read them, “The cat walked down the street with his new boots. He liked the way they felt on his paws. It made it easier to chase his favorite ball.”

Every time he said one of the nouns, the picture of it on the page would glow. It was a great teaching tool to help young children realize C-A-T was pronounced cat and represented the animal drawn on the page. Harry and Draco both particularly liked this activity, but they weren’t halfway through the story when Draco yawned loudly. Severus looked down and found Harry’s eyes were half closed as well.

“I think it is nap time.” Dumbledore said with a chuckle and slowly got to his feet. “I will let you put them to bed. You said Harry is fine alone?”

“Yes.” Severus nodded, standing with Harry still in his arms, since the boy immediately clung to him when Dumbledore stood.

“Good. I’ll wait for you outside. Make sure you transfigure some rails around the bed so they can’t roll off in their sleep.”

Severus nodded and went to the bed, casting the spell as advised. He lay Harry down first and the boy crawled under the covers. He bent to lift Draco, but the boy shook his head.

“We hav’ta go potty before bed.”

“Oh.” Severus lifted Harry out of the bed and put him on the floor, not wanting to make the child too dependent on being held all the time. Harry didn’t mind and ran after Draco to the bathroom. Severus shook his head and followed. He had to lift both boys one at a time onto the toilet. Both ‘tinkled’ as Draco put it. Severus helped wash their hands and then chased them back into the room and into bed. The boys cuddled close together, smiling happily. Severus smiled at them and brushed his hands through their hair for a minute.

“Good night, boys. Rest well.”

“Good night, Daddy.” Draco chirped, shutting his eyes tightly to pretend to sleep. Severus opened his mouth to tell Draco again that he wasn’t his father, but was stopped when Harry spoke.

“Night, Daddy.” The boy said with soft shyness.

And there was no way he could refute that tentative affection. First of all, because he wanted to highly encourage the boy to talk. And second, it was safe to say Harry remembered something of his past if not the specifics, and Severus was afraid of what rejection from the only adult the boy had accepted would do to the small childish mind. So he said nothing and just tucked the blankets close around their tiny bodies. He dimmed the lights with a flick of his wand, cast an alarm spell that would vibrate the top button of his shirt when the boys awoke, and left to speak to Dumbledore.

Chapter Six

Hermione, Ginny, and Neville met up at the corridor that led to the infirmary. Hermione and Neville were escapees from the study hall that had taken the place of potions since Professor Snape was still sick with the flu, and Ginny had faked an illness. They hadn’t included Ron in their plan to meet. He was still sulking.

But Hermione knew what Ginny said yesterday at breakfast wasn’t true. Ron didn’t think Harry was faking it, his attitude stemmed from his frustration that his friend was in trouble and he couldn’t do anything. But giving in to his emotions like that made him useless if there was a chance to help Harry, and especially useless while undertaking the task of actively seeking a chance to help Harry while going against Dumbledore to do so.

“Are you sure about this?” Neville questioned quietly. His voice was steady. He wasn’t nervous or backing out, but just wanted to be sure they were firm in their decision.

“I respect Dumbledore,” Hermione answered back grimly, “but I don’t think he is capable of making decisions about what is best for Harry in this matter. He was seriously wrong before and that’s what led to Harry’s condition now. You saw him back in his office. He looked like he would shatter any moment. I’m not listening to his advice to not visit Harry. He won’t get better that way.”

“I agree.” Ginny nodded. “Dumbledore has too many other things taking up his attention to see every little angle to what has brought Harry to this. And without recognizing the cause, he can’t truly help.”

“But it’s Snape that is in charge of Harry’s treatment, not Dumbledore.” Neville pointed out.

“Dumbledore leans hard on Snape.” Hermione frowned. “I haven’t seen to my satisfaction that he is capable of knowing what’s best for Harry either.”

“And he’s a spy on top of being a teacher on top of having Dumbledore as his mentor and boss.” Ginny said tiredly. “He has almost as much on his plate as Dumbledore. Harry needs constant care.”

“And we’ve been with him through it all. We know what he’s been through. We can help.” Hermione said with utter confidence. “He needs us.”

“Then let’s go.” Neville led the way to the doors. “I’ll distract Pomfrey and you two slip in to see Harry.”

“Thanks, Neville.” Ginny kissed his cheek soundly.

The boy smiled back at her and went to push the doors open. His hands met something halfway there. There was a startled gasp and an invisibility cloak slid off of Pansy Parkinson. Her brown eyes went wide and she quickly hushed them with frantic gestures of her hands. Hermione abruptly shut her mouth. She wasn’t sure what it was about her, but Pansy seemed to sincerely need them to keep silent.

“What are you doing?” Ginny asked in a breathy whisper, her constantans muted somehow. Her voice barely carried the six inches or so to Pansy’s ears.

In answer, Pansy slowly reached toward them with her wand. The Gryffindors tensed, but the look on her face made them stay still. The blonde Slytherin didn’t look like herself. In fact, if they didn’t know better they would never have recognized their fellow classmate, for in that moment Pansy’s face was open and vulnerable, all her masks fallen. The wand touched each of them, and suddenly they could hear voices in their heads. Pansy pointed to the infirmary door meaningfully. Hermione nodded in understanding. They were hearing the conversation within.

“….called me Daddy, so he can’t remember everything.” Snape’s voice said tiredly. “But he knew we aren’t in Malfoy Manor and mentioned his mother. He said she was at home, and it sounded like a guess more than anything.”

“So their memories haven’t been wiped completely clear.” Pomfrey said thoughtfully. “But both of their minds have been altered drastically, so trauma is expected. Maybe their memories will become clearer when they adjust to the effects of the spell gone awry.”

“Or they could only remember the basics and build from there.” Dumbledore said hopefully.

“You shouldn’t hope for that.” Snape snapped irritably. “At least not in Draco’s case. My godson worked hard this summer to rebuild himself. All that work to grow and become a person worthy of respect shouldn’t be thrown away so lightly.”

“But if it erased the memories of what Harry endured,” Dumbledore said gently. “Surely it’s worth it.”

“It’s murder in a way.” Pomfrey said softly, almost reluctantly. “Who they were could be gone forever. They won’t ever be the Harry and Draco everyone knew. They will be different people.”

“No. It is still them.” Dumbledore said firmly. “Their souls are their own. What makes them who they are deep down inside is as it’s always been, will always be. It is just the outer shell of the soul that has changed; their personalities unmolded, ready to be shaped again by their environment and how they choose to interact with it.”

“They didn’t choose for their minds to be wiped to the level of four year olds.” Severus ground out.

“It is for the best. Everything happens for a reason. Especially around Harry.”

“This might be a pointless discussion.” Pomfrey cut in reasonably. “They could remember everything already or it could all come back with time.”

“You said the spell can’t be reversed. All traces of the spell have gone completely, and that means nothing to try and unravel or correct.” Severus’ voiced sounded closer and the four teenagers tensed, but none made as if to move.

“Nothing like this has ever been done before, and if it has no one recorded the results.” Pomfrey snapped back. “I have no idea if it’s permanent or if their minds will grow at the same rate a normal child’s would. Or if they will just wake up with the spell worn off and be back to their normal sixteen-year-old selves.”

“I’m going to check on my students.” Snape said, voice getting closer with each word.

“Don’t forget to pretend to be sick.” Dumbledore called, and there was no mistaking the amusement in his tone.

“Albus, I can’t shirk my duties much longer.” Snape growled threateningly.

“You will have to.” Dumbledore said calmly. “At least until we find a second adult who will be able to watch over Harry without terrorizing him. He can’t handle that kind of fear for long periods of time without permanently scaring his now childish mind. Even I know that. Surely you do as well.”

Snape snarled. Pansy grabbed the Gryffindors and threw them to the side; somehow getting them all covered with the cloak just as the door slammed open with a bang as it crashed into the wall. Professor Snape strode down the corridor, his robes swirling around him threateningly. But before he turned the corner, he slowed. He slumped his shoulders and subtly altered his body language to appear stiff and weak. The man really was very good at what he did.

The teenagers stared at each other and then without needing to say a word, bolted down the corridor. They ran straight to the library. Madam Pince eyed them suspiciously, but they had slowed and calmed before coming in, so she had no reason to kick them out or bother them. They took a table in a shadowed corner and Hermione opened one of their school books to give credence for them all being there, should anyone look their way.

“What do you make of that?” Ginny breathed, wide-eyed.

“What was said before we got there?” Hermione asked the blonde.

“Nothing but small talk. I was there for maybe three minutes before you guys showed up.”

“You’re being forthcoming.” Neville said suspiciously.

“Damn right!” Pansy snarled. “I want what you’ve got on Potter so I can find out what’s wrong with Draco. It sounds like his mind got warped when they were messing around in Potter’s head! What’s going on? And why is Draco involved at all?”

“We can’t tell you.” Hermione said seriously. “Nothing about Harry and nothing about Malfoy.”

Pansy stood abruptly and had her wand trained on the brunette.

“We’d tell you everything we knew about Malfoy.” Ginny said calmly. “But we don’t know anything. Honest. We didn’t know he was helping with Harry’s treatment.”

“Or Snape for that matter.” Neville piped up. He knew that if this Slytherin girl was a Death Eater, finding out that Snape was helping Harry would mean the Professor’s death. And no one ever thought Neville could lie with a straight face. It was the best protection he could offer their teacher. As much as he was frightened of Snape, he knew that he was a huge asset to their fight against the Dark Lord. “We only knew Harry was in Pomfrey’s care, overseen by Dumbledore.”

“Pomfrey kept us away from Harry since Sunday.” Ginny added. “We didn’t even know she was planning on doing a spell at all.”

“And I’m sure you can understand that we can’t tell you about Harry.” Hermione said calmly, not even flinching under the weight of the Slytherin’s gaze and unwavering wand.

“I understand.” Pansy answered. “I understand that my best friend has been damaged, and I will be told the circumstances so I can decide if something can be done. I understand that I can’t trust the adults to tell me this information. So I understand that you will tell me all you know about the Golden Boy because Potter has once again dragged innocents into trouble and possible death. That is what I understand.”

“I sympathize.” Hermione said as she stood, both hands on the table. “But the answer is no. We will tell you no more. You are a threat to our best friend. We will not make your position any stronger to be used against him. And no offense, but you have no way of forcing us into cooperating with you. If you cast a spell right now, one of the three of us will hit you back. Not to mention you will be caught by the teachers and brought to the Headmaster’s attention.”

Pansy lowered her wand, eyes wide with surprise and reluctant admiration; “How very Slytherin of all of you.”

“How very Gryffindor of you.” Ginny responded with a wry smile. “Swinging your weight around with wild threats, revealing information before ensuring something of equal value in return; reckless, impatient.”

“Shut up!” Pansy snarled, face hot with shame.

“I only meant that when it comes down to it, Hogwarts’ Houses mean very little.” The redhead said gently. “We are all people. Not cookie cut-outs of the Hogwarts founders.”

Pansy spun without a word and stalked from the library. The three Gryffindors relaxed, tension bleeding away only to be replaced with worry. Ginny tugged some of her long hair over her shoulder and began playing with it. Hermione flipped the pages of the book in front of her absentmindedly, not even looking at it. And Neville began to chew on his bottom lip.

“I’m starting to think Harry was right. This House thing does more harm than good.” Neville smiled nervously. The girls ignored him.

“So something has totally fucked up Harry’s mind. Draco’s with him somehow.” Hermione murmured thoughtfully. “I guess we need to keep tapping our Slytherin sides because not only do we still need to get to Harry, but now we have to find out what spell they used, how it was messed up, and what it was they had meant to achieve with it in the first place.”

“Why in the world would they bring Malfoy in to help Harry and keep us out?” Ginny demanded angrily.

“I don’t know, but we better come up with something fast.” Hermione told them. “I have a feeling time is of the essence. Not only to help Harry, but to move before the Slytherins. Pansy’s not out of this yet, and she might spill the beans, so to speak, to the public if she blunders through to the truth.”

So the three put their heads together and began to plan, while Pansy rushed to the dungeons to do the same with Vince and Greg.

Draco woke and stretched fully. He felt much better. And he was hungry and thirsty. He turned his head and found two brilliant green eyes staring into his own. He smiled and kissed the baby. The baby smiled and cuddled down more into the blankets.

“Wanna play till Daddy comes?” He asked as he sat up. The baby nodded his head slowly. “Don’t worry. I get toys. You want train?”

The boy nodded again, smiling widely and showing his little baby teeth. Thus encouraged, Draco stood and grabbed hold of the railing. He looked down. It was a far way, but he wouldn’t fall. He gripped the railing and climbed over sideways and on his belly. His body went over the edge and jerked hard on his hands. One came off and he gave an ‘ooof.’

“Ray!” The sweet boy cried out, frightened.

“Is okay, Baby.” Draco assured, voice strained. He reached up and grabbed the railing again, then slid down. He reached the end of the railing and let go without hesitation. He dropped only a couple inches before hitting the floor. He promptly sat hard on his butt and looked up. The baby was leaning over the rail, looking down at him with large worried eyes.

“See? I is okay.” Draco smiled and turned to the toy chest. He trotted over and found the train pieces. He couldn’t carry them all, so he grabbed the caboose and the engine and trotted back to the bed. The baby eagerly grabbed them as Draco handed them up, and then the blonde went back to get the middle piece. The baby took that too.

“Ummm…Don’t think I can get up.” Draco said thoughtfully. “But that’s okay. I’ll go get Daddy. Wait there, kay, Baby?”

“Okay, Ray.” The baby said softly.

Draco felt really special that the baby talked so much to him and not anyone else. He puffed out his chest and turned back to the door, saying over his shoulder, “You just play wi’v the train. I be back.”

He trotted over to the door and pushed. Nothing happened. Frowning, the boy shouted for it to open. Still it didn’t move. Stomping his little foot, the blonde called for Dobby. There was a loud pop and the house elf appeared. The baby screamed and burst into tears. Draco jumped, startled, and then glared at the house elf who stood about five inches taller than him.

“Bad, Dobby!” He smacked the elf’s head lightly. “You scared Baby!”

“Draco, sir?” The elf squeaked, big eyes wide in confusion. Then he turned his head to the wailing, terrified child and his eyes got impossibly wider. “Master Harry Potter, sir! What has happened to you?”

“Go way!” Draco yelled. “You scare him!”

But the elf didn’t listen. Instead he ran over to the bed. The baby’s screaming went higher as the elf got closer, and before he could even think about it, Draco was running and tackling the elf. Dobby struggled for a second under the angrily screaming Draco before lifting his hand to cast magic. And that’s the scene Severus walked in on.

Severus had been in the dungeons when his button vibrated. He finished his conversations and feigned nausea before striding quickly to his rooms. His House was in disarray, upset by both his and Draco’s presence. He had assured them that Draco was at home tending an urgent business meeting, but he knew that excuse wouldn’t wash for much longer. With a sigh, he flooed to the infirmary. He could hear the screaming as soon as he stepped out and charged into the boys’ room.

He was shocked to see the elf struggling with Draco, who was miraculously out of bed, but didn’t waste time questioning them. He ran to the bed and scooped Harry up. The boy quieted into ragged sobs, clutching at Severus’ robes hard. Rocking and rubbing the boy’s back, he then turned his eyes to the floor. Draco sat, face red and streaked with angry tears. Dobby stood with his mouth hanging slightly open with shock.

“What is going on?” He demanded, consciously keeping his voice mild so as not to scare the boy in his arms further. “How did you get out of bed, Draco?”

“I climbed down to get Baby toys. I’m hungry and went to get you, but couldn’t open door. So called Dobby, but he scared Baby and wouldn’t go ‘way!” The boy screamed the last part, pointing an accusing finger at the creature.

“What has happened to Master Harry Potter and Draco, Professor Snape sir?” Dobby asked, wringing his hands fretfully.

“And here I thought house elves were really good with children.” Severus drawled, but then turned serious. “Dobby, they’ve been effected by a spell, but you are ordered never to speak of this to anyone. Not even other house elves. If you do, you could get your precious Harry Potter killed. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” He nodded vigorously. “Dobby will help as much as Dobby can to help kind Harry Potter.”

“Good. Then can you bring up some food for them? I’m not sure what they can eat.”

“I can do that, sir!” Dobby cried out joyfully and disappeared with a pop.

Once he was gone, Harry’s crying died out, but he still clung firmly to Severus and was now sucking on his thumb. Severus sighed and knelt, calling Draco into his other arm. The blonde ran over without hesitation and wrapped his arms around his neck. He stood, surprised at how light the two boys were, and carried them to the two highchairs. He maneuvered Draco into one, but didn’t bother trying with Harry.

“The house elf will be coming back with your lunch or whatever this meal is.” Severus told the green eyed boy. “I’m going to hold you and keep you safe. Don’t be afraid.”

“I sorry, Daddy.” Draco said meekly.

Severus looked over at him and patted his head, “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to scare Harry. But don’t try to leave this room. I have magic to tell me when you wake up and I was coming as fast as I could.”

“Okay, Daddy.” Draco answered seriously. “Won’t try to open door again.”

“Good boy.”

There was a pop and Harry whimpered, burying his head into Severus shoulder. Dobby put the plates on each of the highchair trays. There was macaroni and cheese, some small green apple cubes, and a small handful of Cheerios. He also brought two sippy-cups.

“Can Dobby get you anything else, sir?”

“No. That’s all.” Severus nodded, but stopped the elf before he could disappear. “But don’t come back into this room unless I call you. If one of the boys call you, come straight to me.”

“Dobby understands, sir.” The elf said and then disappeared with a pop.

“Are you okay, now, Harry?” Severus asked. “The elf is gone and won’t come back unless I’m here. Are you hungry? Do you think you could eat some?”

Harry nodded, still clinging to Severus. He was obviously not ready to be let down. Severus sighed and conjured a chair in front of Harry’s highchair. He sat and picked up the spoon, scooping up some of the cheesy noodles. Harry sat in his lap, hands tangled in Severus’ robes, refusing to let go. Severus brought the bite to Harry’s mouth.

“Come on. It’s really good.” The boy opened his mouth, allowing Severus to feed him.

“I sorry, Baby.” Draco said quietly. “I won’t call Dobby. I promise.”

Harry nodded and ate the next bite. Severus scooped up an apple bite and admonished both of them to chew it well. After ten minutes, Harry was feeling good enough to be sat in the highchair to finish by himself. Severus frowned when he noticed how much Harry was squinting. Maybe the boy needed glasses even at this young age. He’d deal with it later. Right now, he had some questions to ask.

“Draco, how did you know to call Dobby?”

“Don’t know. Knew he was here and not at home. Think Mommy’s okay wi’v out him?”

“I’m sure she is.” Severus assured him. “But why did you call him and not me or medic Pomfrey.”

“You don’t come when I call.” Draco giggled. “Only elves do that.”

“True.” Severus sighed. “What do you remember about Dobby?”

“He my elf, but now he’s here. Is he still my elf?”

“No. He’s the school’s elf. You’re at Hogwarts.”

“Oh yeah.” The boy smiled.

Severus got out wizarding pictures. The first was of Lucius. “Do you know who this is?”

“Bad man!” Draco said instantly. “Bad!”

“This is your father.” He said carefully.

“No!” Draco shoved his plate off the tray and the little left on it splattered on the floor. But then Draco’s furious face melted into tearful sorrow. “You my Daddy, right, Daddy?”

Severus opened his mouth to explain, but saw out of the corner of his eye Harry’s green eyes watching him solemnly. He was suddenly hit with an intuition. If Draco remembered this much, then Harry most likely knew that Severus wasn’t his ‘Daddy’ and had only called him such because Draco did. If he refuted Draco, he’d be refuting Harry and the trust the child had placed in him. Without that absolute trust, Severus couldn’t help him.

“Of course, Draco.” He said tightly. His heart began to beat faster as the two small boys stared deep into him, demanding him to take up a responsibly so great and fragile it sent his heart slamming against his ribs. “I’m your Daddy still.”

Draco smile beatifically and wiggled in his seat, “All done! Wash?”

“Yes, let’s get you washed up. Then you’re going to come back in here and clean up your mess.” Severus lifted him, again the blonde kept his hands away from Severus’ robes.

“But, Daddy!” Draco whined.

“No. You did that in a fit of temper. You will clean it up.” Severus said firmly.

“Yes, Daddy.” Draco sighed and then ran to the bathroom. Severus followed.

They came back and Severus conjured rags and water. He placed them beside the mess and pointed. Draco pouted, but began trying to mop the mess up. Harry reached for Severus. The dark haired man gently took him out and set him on the floor. Like Draco, he ran as fast as he could to the bathroom. Severus chuckled and went to wash the boy clean. As soon as he was done, Harry ran back into the room. Curious, Severus followed. He was surprised when the dark haired child sat next to Draco and began trying to help.

“Thank you, Baby, but I do it.” Draco told the smaller boy.

“Help Ray.” Harry said in a soft, firm voice. Severus knew small children had trouble saying Dray-co, and wasn’t surprised to hear the nickname, but was surprised at Harry’s adamancy to help. Though once he thought about it, he really wasn’t. This was still Harry after all. Even if he was much smaller than normal.

Draco looked at him for a minute before nodding, “Okay.”

Severus smiled broadly, pride swelling in his chest. He didn’t even scold them when the cleaning descended into play. Instead, he gently shooed Harry off to play and kept Draco. With a swish of his wand, the mess, rags, and water disappeared.

“I want to talk to you more.” He told the curious blonde. “Do you remember these people?”

Draco looked at the pictures of Pansy, Vincent, Gregory, Hermione, and Ron. Then he tapped the Slytherin pictures and said, “They look nice.”

“Do you know them?” Severus pressed.

“No?” Draco scrunched his face, uncertain.

“It’s okay.” Severus patted his head. “You’re doing great. Do you remember why this is a bad man?”

“Bad!” Draco said again, but could tell him no more than that. Last he pulled out a picture of Narcissa. Draco’s smile grew wide and he yelled, “Mommy!”

“Yes.” Severus laughed as the child hugged the picture to his chest.

“When will Mommy come?”

“I don’t know, but you’ll see her soon.” Severus told him. It wasn’t such a bad idea. Narcissa was really good with Draco as a child and it was her influence that knocked Draco back on the right path. She’d have to be told soon in any case so that she could deal with the Malfoy businesses, since Draco was obviously unable to. Dumbledore did say he was going to need help during the day. The only problem was Harry. But if the boy had accepted Severus on Draco’s say so, then he might do the same to Narcissa.

“Why don’t you show this to Harry?” He suggested. “Tell him how much you love your Mommy so he won’t be scared when she comes.”

“Okay!” Draco ran over to Harry and began excitedly telling him all about ‘Mommy’. Severus watched and again noticed Harry squinted before looking at the picture. He sighed.

“I’ll be right back. You two play nice.” He told them and went to find Pomfrey. He didn’t have to go far. She was working at her desk. She smiled when he stepped out of the room.

“How are they?”

“Fine. We had a bit of a situation when Draco called Dobby. Seems he remembers the elf had been his, but had been uncertain if he still was.”

“Wow. So they do remember everything.”

“I’m not sure. The details seem to be beyond Draco’s capability. He seems to only know about things that had strong emotional connections. The less he felt about a certain thing, the blurrier the memory is. And even with the knowledge attached to strong emotions his memories aren’t exactly precise.”

“Well, they are only four years old.” Poppy said thoughtfully. “A four year old mind can’t grasp too fine details. As they age, things might slowly get clearer.”

“And also less immediate as they have newer, fresher memories of playing and eating as children.”

“So this is good?” Poppy asked.

“Actually, if what I think is happening, is, then I think this is very good indeed.”

“That’s great!” She smiled. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Yes. I think Harry needs glasses. How can we find out?”

“There’s a special spell. I can do it easily.”

“Good. Let me prepare Harry first. Five minutes?”

She nodded and Severus went back to the boys. They were laughing as they chased each other around the room. Severus strode forward and quickly scooped up Harry. The boy laughed loudly. Draco crashed into Severus’ legs.

“Me, too!” He cried, grinning. Severus put Harry down and tickled Draco. The blonde laughed and pulled away. “Play wi’v us!”

“Later.” Severus promised. “First Harry needs to get his eyes checked. He can’t see very well and I want to fix it.”

“Oh.” Draco turned to look at Harry.

“Medic Pomfrey is going to come and find out what kind of glasses you need, Harry. I’ll hold you the whole time. Do you think you can let her check your eyes?”

Harry looked up at him and put his thumb in his mouth. Draco went over and hugged him.

“Is okay, Baby. She won’t hurt you. Make your eyes all better, right, Daddy?”

“Exactly.” Severus promised and opened his arms. Harry walked into them without hesitation. “Come. I think we should do this in Medic Pomfrey’s office. I fear you’re going to feel like this room is unsafe if people keep coming in and out, and we don’t want that. You’re safe here with Draco.”

“And wi’v you, Daddy!” Draco yelled helpfully.

“Yes, and with me.” He smiled. “Do you want to come, Draco? You have to be well behaved and not go running off.”

“I’ll be good.” Draco promised.

“Okay.” Severus carried Harry to the door and they went out. Harry tensed, but didn’t cry. Draco followed at Severus feet, one hand holding to the man’s black robe. Pomfrey saw them and smiled warmly. Draco smiled back and waved hello.

“Well, let’s see what we can do about your eyes, Harry.” Pomfrey said gently. She came over and Harry turned his head into Severus’ chest.

“No, Harry. You have to look at her so she can see what kind of glasses you need. I won’t let go. You have to trust me.”

“I here, too.” Draco said, and Harry looked down at the blonde. After a moment, he nodded and turned his green eyes to Pomfrey.

“Good boy.” She cooed. “Now, I’m going to lift my wand and say some words. You won’t feel a thing, okay?”

Harry was stiff as a board, his thumb firmly in his mouth, and leaning back as hard as he could against Severus chest. But he nodded. Severus praised him softly, murmuring calming words. The witch raised her wand and began to chant. Harry stared at the tip unblinkingly, trembling a bit. Severus held him tight and Draco watched it all solemnly. It was over in three minutes, but it seemed to last a much longer time. When she lowered her wand, Harry immediately turned away and began crying.

“You did so well, Harry.” Severus said soothingly. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Up!” Draco demanded, his arms reaching toward Severus.

He knelt and lifted Draco in the other arm. The blonde immediately began patting at Harry’s back and saying how he would get a sweet now since he did as the medic asked. Pomfrey quickly jumped on that and got out a small chocolate square. She tried to hand it to Harry, but the boy was having none of it.

“Thank you.” Draco said politely and took the chocolate for Harry. Pomfrey smiled and backed up a bit. Draco got Harry’s attention and gave the boy the chocolate. “Is really yummy. Chew it good cause can choke, but is really yummy. Here, Baby. Eat it.”

Harry opened his mouth, thumb sliding to the corner. Draco giggled and slipped the chocolate in. Harry smiled tearfully and chewed a bit. Draco laughed again and leaned comfortably against Severus’ shoulder.

“See. Is yummy.” Draco said contentedly and Harry nodded.

“You both did so well.” Severus told them. “Why don’t we go back and play?”

“Yay!” Draco clapped excitedly. And Severus took them back to their room.


1)They spend a week in each age from 4-15. They will be sixteen again in about three months. This will allow a strong foundation for recovery for Harry. But this doesn’t mean they don’t remember their previous lives. In this option, the past will seem like a past-life or a dream; the vivid parts from their previous lives will be remembered, good and bad. As for bonds, he will feel very close to Draco either way. Either choice will lead to them becoming lovers when they hit teenage years. Some people feel this will be hard for me to write; some people get writers block on certain ages. I will do the best I can, but it is possible I might just summarize certain days instead of put you right there with the characters. Another concern is a few people said this option is cliché and has been done too many times before. Take that in consideration when you vote, but don’t let it stop you from picking this. I will try and make it unique. And sometimes the option done over and over again is because it is a good read.

2)They spend a month as 4 year olds, then a month as 8 year olds, then a month as 12 year olds before turning sixteen again. They will remember their past, probably be confused a few days after the four year growth as they deal with having a drastically more mature mind overnight. A few people feared this would be too much for them to handle, growing too fast, but this is a wizarding society and I can deal with that if you still like this option. This option will probably make their past lives closer, more of it remembered. No, Harry won’t hate Draco when they jump to twelve. Just because he did hate him when he was originally twelve, doesn’t mean those feelings will come back. They didn’t go back in time. This is like being 4 years old and such over again for a second time. In other words, this is adding to their experiences, not rewriting them. The Harry and Draco they were before will seem like different people to them, but not. At the heart of it, they will be able to recognize themselves. If that makes sense.

Chapter Seven

Severus sat on the bed watching the two little boys eat their dinner. He felt like he was walking in a haze, or that he was dreaming. Any moment he’d wake up and all this would never have happened. He’d have his rounds to make, Slytherins to watch, impossible students to teach, and a dark convoluted dance to perform where any misstep would cost his life.

He had to be hard to live. His mind had to be sharp. There was no time to relax. Or even forget, even for a moment, his responsibilities. Severus had never had a time in his life when he was really happy. He’d grown up in a strict pureblooded house, afraid of doing wrong, terrified of punishments. Then went to Hogwarts and engaged in a painful child-war there. He hadn’t even left Hogwarts before he then stepped into the ranks of evil. Things only got more difficult when he turned to Dumbledore and accepted the role of spy.

So it was not surprising that fear began to unfurl in his gut. For hours he had been here playing with the two toddlers, and it had sucked him in. Made him, for just a few moments, forget the trouble outside this room, forget the danger and pain. And he’d relaxed. If someone had swarmed the room, intent to kill (which wasn’t completely impossible, the-boy-who-lived was here after all), he would not have been ready. He would have died. But at the same time, Severus had never felt so at peace while playing child games with the two.

“All done, Daddy!” Draco cried triumphantly.

Severus shook himself from his thoughts and turned his dark eyes on the blonde, “Ready for bed?”

“First potty and bath.” Draco nodded.

“Bath?” Severus frowned.

“Yep. No bath last night means bath now. Right, Daddy?”

It did make some sense, and the boys did need to be washed. Harry finished then and lifted his arms. Resigned, Severus lifted them both free of the highchair and set them on the ground. Draco waited for Harry to be put next to him before racing for the bathroom. Severus followed, unknowingly wearing a small smile. He entered and found the boys laughing as they tried to help each other from their clothes.

Severus turned on the water and stoppered the tub before lifting them both up onto the toilet to tinkle. Then both boys were sitting waist deep in warm water. Harry splashed with a loud laugh, but Draco quickly grabbed his hands while turning worried eyes to Severus. The man was wiping his face slowly dry.

“Big splash is bad. Water stays inside the tub, kay, Baby?”

“Sorry, Daddy.” Harry said meekly and made a little splash to show he understood.

“It’s alright.” Severus assured him. He filled a cup and poured the water all over the boys. They giggled.

“Oh!” Draco said brightly. “Forgot toys!”

He slithered out of the tub and ran naked and dripping out into the other room. Severus tried to grab him, but hadn’t expected the move and missed. He sighed and Harry giggled, covering his mouth with his hands. Severus mock glared at him and it only made Harry laugh louder.

“What so funny?” Draco demanded, coming back into the room. He had a ball in one hand, two wizard figurines in the other, and a large cube with different shaped holes hugged to his chest.

“You made water leave the tub.” Severus drawled with another mock glare. Harry grinned.

“No I didn’t.” Draco protested, climbing into the tub with a big splash when he slipped. “Oh! Sorry, Daddy!”

“Draco.” Severus growled. “You dripped all over the floor!”

“Oh.” The blonde pouted. “Sorry.”

“It okay. I’ll help you clean, Ray.”

“Thank you.” Draco said politely and handed the smaller boy one of the figurines. “Le’ss play.”

As the boys played, Severus carefully scrubbed them with a soft rag and scented soap. He laughed at their antics and the boys grinned back. When it was time to wash their hair, he asked them to stop playing, but neither boy seemed interested in that option. So he very carefully wetted and soaped up their hair. Then he even more carefully rinsed it out. It was a miracle that none of it got into their eyes.

“Alright. Out. Step on the rug and let me dry you off.” Severus ordered.

“But, Daddy! We’re playing!” Draco protested.

“Out, now, Draco.” Severus said again.

Harry stood to do as he was told, but hesitated when Draco glared at him. Severus pointed his wand and made the water cold. The boys were standing on the rug shivering in record time; Draco complaining the whole while. Severus spelled their clothes clean and then got them back into their T-shirts and underwear.

“If you don’t stop your whining, I’m going to put you right back in.” Severus promised the blonde.

Draco fell silent, but had his arms crossed over his chest and his lower lip thrust out as they walked to the bed. He lifted the boys back into bed and tucked them in. He stood, but before he could walk away Harry’s soft voice stopped him.

“Can we have a story?”

“Yeah!” Draco cried, excited and anger forgotten. “Please, Daddy?”

“Oh, very well.” Severus sighed and sat down to tell them a story. The boys fell asleep within five minutes and Severus stood over them. He reached out and ran his fingers through their soft baby hair and sighed. What were they doing to him? Shaking himself, he cast the charm so that his button would vibrate when they woke and strode from the room, his damp robes swirling around him.

While Severus left the boys’ room and went to go talk to Dumbledore, the students were finishing with dinner and leaving the Great Hall. Pansy, Vincent, and Gregory were among the first to leave. They hurried to the dungeons, but didn’t go to the Slytherin rooms. Instead they went to an abandoned classroom.

It was dark, dank, and dusty, but absolutely perfect for what they were going to do. Vince cast a ward around the room so that no one would be able to detect the magic they were about to cast. Greg set up the large silver basin of water and drew a triangle around it. Pansy cleaned the immediate area they were going to work in. And none of them had yet spoken a word.

Multi-person, ritual magic wasn’t a subject until seventh year, but most purebloods knew a few from growing up in a magical household. It was hard and the littlest thing done wrong could ruin the spell, but the one they were going to attempt was one of the simpler ones. The three Slytherins each stood on one of the triangle points and pointed their wands at the basin of water.

“I’ll think of how he looks physically.” Pansy said softly.

“I’ll do the way his magic feels.” Vince offered.

Greg nodded, “That leaves his personality for me.”

“Are you guys ready?” She asked, dark eyes burning with determination.

They nodded and then she took a deep breath. As she exhaled, they began chanting in semi-Latin. Light slowly snaked out their wands. It swayed and twitched, inching ever so slowly toward the basin of water. But even as the minutes dragged out into an hour, the light still only halfway to its destination, none of the teenagers faltered.

The Gryffindors waited for everyone to settle down and sleep before sneaking out of the tower under Harry’s invisibility cloak. Ron was again left behind. They made their way silently until they got to the corridor that led to the infirmary. Neville was dropped off in an abandoned classroom to one side and Ginny in a closet on the other. Each had a charmed coin. If they saw someone coming, they’d bite down and the one Hermione had would heat up, warning her to get out fast.

Alone, Hermione slowly eased open the infirmary door and slipped inside. All of the beds were empty and she let out a silent breath. No one had seen the door open on its own. Continuing on, she made her way to Pomfrey’s office. The nurse was there, sleeping on a cot by her desk. Hermione had anticipated this. She pulled out a vial from her pocket with one hand, the other rising up to cover her mouth and nose. She opened it and slid it out into the room. Vapor quickly rose to fill the room and just as quickly dissipated. She had made it earlier and it would keep the witch deeply asleep for at least four hours.

Still under the cloak, she tapped the books and the door swung silently open. The room behind was dark, but not pitch-black. On the nightstand by the bed was a gently glowing nightlight. Hermione shut the door behind her and crept forward. She reached the side of the bed and placed her hand on the rail, looking down. A startled gasp escaped her lips.

Harry was a child. And so was Draco Malfoy. She let the cloak slip off and placed it over the chair by the bed. Now that she had seen Harry, she looked around and noticed everything that was different from the last time she had been there. Now there were two highchairs and a box of children’s toys. Incredible. She smiled tearfully and gently brushed Harry’s thick bangs from his scar. Baby Draco’s face scrunched up and he tossed to his side, away from Harry, in his sleep. Silver eyes slid open and stared up at her sleepily.

“Shhh. It’s okay. I was just making sure you two were okay. Go back to sleep.” Hermione whispered soothingly, backing up. Draco yawned, eyeing her suspiciously. But he cuddled back up to Harry and let his heavy eyes fall closed once again. Hermione backed off a few more steps and the boy settled back to sleep. She shook her head, smiling, before lifting her wand to cast a diagnostic spell. She carefully recorded the results and grabbed the cloak, creeping silently from the room and back to her friends.

Severus was walking to his rooms. He wanted to change and get some sleep. He was surprisingly exhausted from his day and what little energy he had left had been sapped by dinner with the Headmaster. He reached his portrait just as the button began to vibrate. He sighed. Maybe they’d go back to sleep? He waited a minute and just when he was getting ready to turn back, the button fell still. He gratefully, slipped into his room.

The Slytherins collapsed. The spell was finally finished. They smiled at each other in triumph, just catching their breath. Finally, Pansy got to her feet and went over to the slightly glowing basin. The waters were swirling inside like a storm cloud. She tapped it with her wand once.

“Show me.”

The water stilled and turned into a glassy surface. An image slowly came into focus. It was a room illuminated by a small nightlight. She could just make out two highchairs to one side and a box of toys on the other. But the center of the picture was a bed with rails. She stared at it and her will made the picture zoom in. It didn’t take a second to recognize the children sleeping in the bed.

“Oh, sweet Merlin!” She gasped, hands coming up to her mouth in shock.

Greg and Vince crowded at her shoulders and stared into the water. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was impossible. There was no spell in existence that could turn a human (wizard or not) back into a child permanently, and the conversation she overheard had implied Draco’s condition was irreversible.

Greg’s hand came up to clamp painfully around her upper arm. She tried to yank her arm free, mouth opening to yell at him, when she realized what had set him off. Two large, glowing eyes stared up at her through the water. It was Potter. He blinked once, and the water began to ripple and the picture to distort. Pansy cried out as the water exploded outward, spilling from the enchanted basin.

“How did he sense us watching?” Vince asked, awed.

“Who cares.” She snapped as she ran magic checks on the basin. Then she relaxed. “The spell’s still in place. We just have to put new water in it.”

“What now?” Greg asked.

She sighed, “Now we get some sleep. Then we do some research.”

Severus growled and threw the blankets off of him. He was just about to drop into sleep when his button had vibrated again. The brats were doing it on purpose, he thought angrily. But he had just barely gotten dressed again when the button stilled. Grumbling, he stood and tried to decide if he should still check on the boys, or if he was safe to go to sleep. He sighed and began to undress.

“If they wake again, I’ll check it out.” He promised himself and fell back into bed.

Harry woke with a yawn. Draco rolled over and smiled sleepily up at him. Gentle light filled the room, charmed to be as bright (or dark) as it was outside. It was early, but they had slept a long time and were ready to play. Draco scurried down the rails as he did the morning before and reached up for Harry.

“Ray, I don’t know.” The dark haired boy frowned. “Could fall down.”

“I catch you.” Draco promised. “Come on. Le’ss play!”

Harry looked down at his friend. It was a long way to his little mind, but he trusted Draco and slowly crawled over the rail. Hanging by his hands, he looked down again and saw Draco reaching for him, barely touching his feet. He sighed and let one hand go to grab the vertical bar, then the other. He slipped and with a startled cry, began to fall. But just as Draco promised, he was there to catch him. Or really, he was there to break his fall.

Draco crumpled under Harry’s light weight and lay flat on his stomach with Harry sitting on his back. He gasped, or tried to, eyes wide as he found himself unable to breathe. Harry quickly scrambled off his friend, rolling him over onto his back. His green eyes wide with fear.

“I sorry, Ray! You okay? Ray! Ray!”

Gasping in air, Draco patted Harry’s arm. “I’m okay, Baby.”

Harry sniffled in relief and hugged the blonde tight. Draco giggled and pet his hair. In minutes, the upset was forgotten and they were running to the toy box to play.

Severus was pulled from sleep as the boys again woke him. He grumbled and pulled himself from bed. A spell revealed it was just turning six o’clock in the morning. He was actually glad the boys woke up so early. He would just have time to get them breakfast and set them to playing and come back down to monitor his Slytherins before breakfast in the Great Hall. He could only hope that when Narcissa arrived, Harry would take to her. His absence much longer could be disastrous.

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me what you were doing!” Ron yelled. His face was blood red with anger and shame, though the last he would never admit too.

“You were acting like a child!” Hermione responded. “We couldn’t tell you.”

They were sitting in the common room. The rest of Gryffindor was in the Great Hall for breakfast, but this was more important than a meal. Neville and Ginny were bent over the results of Hermione’s spell. Ron and Hermione stood behind them, arguing.

“Listen to yourself!” Ginny stood with her hands on her hips. “You’re ranting and raving instead of paying attention to Harry’s medical report! You were too unstable to include. You would have gotten us caught!”

Ron clenched his fists. How dare they! He could have kept calm! He wouldn’t have gotten them caught and he needed to know what was wrong with Harry as much as the rest of them did! With an enraged yell, he tossed a chair over and stormed from the room. Hermione sighed tiredly and Ginny hugged her.

“He’ll calm down.” She promised.

“I hope so.” Hermione turned back to the medical report. “So what do you guys make of this?”

Pansy, Vince, and Greg sat at the Slytherin table and watched their Head of House subtly from the corner of their eyes. The man looked like he was still pretending to be sick and had they not known it was an act they would have believed he truly was recovering from the Wizarding Flu.

“The Gryffindorks are missing.” Vice murmured.

Pansy’s eyes left the Head table and drifted over to the Gryffindors. Vince was right. Potter’s friends were missing. Pansy fought a scowl off her face. It was shameful to display one’s emotions. Especially in public. But it was hard. She knew that the Gryffindors knew something. Or maybe found a way to get to the boys. And it drove her mad that they might know more than her. Just then Weasley came storming into the room and sat with his housemates. They asked what was wrong, but the redhead brushed them all off.

“Hmmm.” She said thoughtfully and turned to her friends. “I think this might be just what we need.”

Severus made his way toward the infirmary. The students were all in their first class and Dumbledore said the letter requesting Narcissa’s presence had been sent. Now he just had to wait. Poppy was waiting for him and she smiled when he walked through her doors. He nodded his head at her.

“I got Harry’s glasses back.” She showed him black framed glasses. They were small and cute with a strap that went around the head to hold them in place. “Just adjust this band here to make sure they aren’t on too tight.”

“Thank you, Poppy.”

“Anytime, Severus.” She was still smiling brightly and he wondered what potion she had put in her tea. “Do you think the boys will need their vaccinations all over again? They’re at about the right age for it.”

“I’m not sure. Is there a test you can run?”

“Yes, but it requires that I have a sample of blood.” She explained with a frown.

“When they fall asleep for their nap, I will bespell them so they can’t wake. You can take it then.”

She nodded and Severus went in the room. He called Harry over, but the boy looked to Draco before quitting his play and running over. Draco came over as well, still trailing the cape he was holding. He had been pretending with it earlier, though Severus had no idea what exactly the little boy had pretended he was with it on. He only knew it made Harry laugh.

“These are now yours, Harry.” Severus said, crouching in front of the boy.

Harry stood before him trustingly, his black hair tousled and messy. Severus made a mental note to brush it out soon. He gently put the tiny glasses on the toddler’s nose and slipped the band behind his head. His thick hair quickly hid any evidence it was there. Harry blinked now wider eyes behind the thin black frames and smiled sweetly, reaching up to hug Severus around his neck.

“Thank you, Daddy. Head no hurt now.”

“Your head had been hurting?” Severus looked down at the child sternly. “You must tell me when you hurt, no matter how small. It’s my job to try and fix these things.”

“It is?” Harry was staring incredulously.

“It is.” Severus nodded. “Now promise you’ll tell me from now on. No matter what.”

“No matter what.” Harry repeated obediently.

“Me too.” Draco added, coming up to take Harry’s hand. “I’ll tell too.”

“Thank you, Draco. Thank you, Harry. I’m trusting you both. Now, let’s sit down and play that counting game. You both were getting really good at that.”

Ron left the Great Hall early. He couldn’t stand sitting there while his house ate, ignorant of what was going on. And Herm and the others hadn’t come down. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He couldn’t go up there and have them smirk at him, so secure in their belief that they were right in their judgment of his character. And he couldn’t just do nothing for Harry. Maybe he could find things out himself without any help. No matter that Dumbledore told them to back off for a bit.

“Weasley. Can I talk to you for a second?”

He turned and his blue eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he didn’t feel the wave of hate he had come to associate with all Slytherins. It must be because the dumb oaf was just not smart enough to be purely evil, even if he was a Slytherin. So Ron didn’t spout off. He merely waited, ready to swing into righteous anger at any given moment.

Crabbe shuffled his meaty feet and hunched his square shoulders, making his muscular neck practically disappear. “Draco’s missing. I heard Pansy saying he is with Potter hurt somewhere.”

“So?” Ron’s eyes narrowed some more, but his fists were still unclenched. A good sign for the Slytherin.

“I know you don’t like us. Slytherins, I mean. That’s okay.” Crabbe said slowly, brown eyes cow-like and surprisingly gentle. “But Draco’s my best friend besides Greg. I really want to help if I can.”

“What’s it to me?” Ron shifted closer. He was one of the tallest boys in Gryffindor, standing at 6 foot, but Crabbe topped him by two inches and Goyle would by an inch. But their height and muscles were not very scary when Ron knew he could out duel both of them together with his eyes closed.

“Need help finding things out.” Crabbe muttered, shuffling his feet again. “Greg doesn’t know what to do about it either, so I thought I’d ask you, seeing how Potter is in the same trouble, whatever it is.”

“You want me to find things out about Malfoy and then help you help him?” Ron scowled in disbelief.

“I thought you could find things out about Potter and that would tell me about Draco.” Crabbe answered; as if he was unsure whether that was what Ron just said or something different. “Then we could know how to help, and Greg and me would help Draco. And you help Potter.”

“What makes you think you can be any help at all?” Ron said hurtfully. “I’d be doing all the work.”

“No.” Crabbe shook his head. “We can help. We’re slow, but once we know what to do, we do alright. Really.”

Ron looked him over. Harry had been saying just at the end of last year, after Sirius died, that he thought the House system was stupid and divided the school unnecessarily. And Crabbe was making him think Harry might be right. The teen was sincerely worried about his best friend and didn’t know what to do about it. He needed direction and was smart enough to know it.

“Why don’t you get another Slytherin to help?” He demanded.

“Ever since Draco’s father went to prison, he’s been out of favor a bit. No one wants to interfere. They think some of the failure will rub off on them or something. So they won’t help me.” Crabbe showed his hands, palm up in a helpless gesture.

Ron’s hard blue eyes softened a bit. He knew exactly how that felt. To see your friend was hurting and not really knowing what to do about it and having your other friends stabbing you in the back. So Ron reached over and shook one of the meaty hands, “Alright. You have yourself a deal.” Crabbe smiled broadly and Ron found himself smiling back. Who needed Hermione anyway?

“Ms. Malfoy, please have a seat.” Dumbledore said magnanimously as he swept his arm toward the luxurious chair before his desk.

Narcissa walked forward and sat primly. Her face was blank and watchful. Her golden hair pined up in an intricate coil on top of her head. Her dress was dark blue silk and fell to the floor with out flaring out at all. She was sleek and lovely. Her long nailed fingers folded in her lap elegantly and she nodded back at the ancient man.

“Good afternoon, Headmaster. I am pleased to be invited to your illustrious school. Is all well with my son?”

“Ah, that, my dear Lady, is why I have called you here.” He paused, but Narcissa merely waited for him to continue. Her gray eyes pinned on him like a hawk would stare at prey. “A spell has gone wrong, and he and his partner were affected in ways we still can not determine. I, Madam Pomfrey, and Professor Snape have worked diligently for days to find a reversal to the spell, but have yet come up with a cure. I felt it prudent to wait no longer and inform you that you may have to take up control of the Malfoy estate and all else until young Lord Malfoy is fit for family duty once again.”

“What is his condition, Headmaster? And I would like to see him regardless.” Narcissa made a gesture that indicated her last request was more on the lines of an order.

“Of course. That is the other reason I have called you.” Dumbledore smiled. “You see, in the present condition the two students find themselves in, they need a caretaker during the day. Professor Snape has authority in their overall care until they are cured, but his other duties mean he requires help outside the night time hours.”

“And you think I am the best choice for their care provider?” Narcissa asked slowly, surprised. “Should not one with a better knowledge in the medical field be better suited?”

“Come see your son for yourself before you decide.” Dumbledore rose and lead the woman to the door.

The boys had woken from their nap. Pomfrey had come and gone with their blood and sent it off to have tests run on it. Now he was struggling to get the boys cleaned up after their lunch. Draco was being particularly difficult. Harry watched the blonde’s struggle with Severus silently, his glasses still securely on his face.

First Draco had not liked the grilled chicken cubes because there was a hint of lemon flavor. But didn’t want anything else the little elf had offered to take its place. He wanted chicken because Harry was eating the chicken. He just didn’t want the lemon flavor. But Dobby explained that he’d have to cook new chicken and that would take a while.

Harry had stopped eating his chicken, saying he’d have something different like Draco, even though it was obvious he didn’t mind it. Severus had put his foot down and ordered Harry to eat what was on his plate and not to interfere. The little boy had obeyed, but very hesitantly.

Draco continued to throw a fit about the chicken, saying he wouldn’t eat any of it until he got what he wanted. In the end, Severus had told him that he would eat the chicken the way it was or accept the alternative. Else he would be punished by not being allowed to play and would have to sit in the corner and think on his bad behavior and what it had earned him. The blonde had complied, but was very sore about it. So he ate his lunch in between his sobs.

Now he was being difficult about being cleaned up. He was twisting every which way to avoid the washcloth and Severus was about at the end of his patience. He grabbed the little boy up under his arms and plopped him down on the counter beside the sink. Draco immediately arched his back and almost slipped off.

Severus snarled and held him there, “That’s enough, Draco! You will start behaving or you will sorely regret it!”

“No!” Draco screamed, his face red as he cried, snot going everywhere.

“What is wrong with you?” Severus yelled, shaking him a bit. “Stop this nonsense!”

Suddenly, a soft voice broke into their little war and they both had to still to hear it; “Is Ray afraid?”

“I don’t wanna wash up!” Draco yelled, glaring tearfully at the panting Severus.

“Why?” Harry asked.

“Cause I don’t!”

“You afraid?” The raven haired boy was obviously really confused.

“No! Just don’t wanna!”

“Why don’t you wanna play with me anymore?”

“What?” Draco sat very still and looked down at the boy staring up at him, tears beginning to gather in the emerald depths. “I do wanna play with you.”

“No.” Harry shook his head, stubbornly, full lips pouting out as he crossed his arms. “I know you don’t.”

“Yes, I do!” Draco yelled, angry again, but not in a tearful sort of way. His silver eyes blazed with heat.

“Really?” Harry looked suddenly unsure.

“Yes.” Draco nodded. “Why think I don’t, Baby?”

“Because you don’t care if you be bad and get punished and can’t play with me no more.” Harry explained and a single tear slid down his cheek.

“Oh.” Draco blinked and then frowned. “Oh. I sorry, Baby. I don’t mean it. I’ll be good.”

Severus breathed out in relief and tentatively reached out with the moist cloth. Draco allowed it and didn’t fuss at all. His eyes on his lap. In a few short minutes, he was done and lifted the toddler to the floor. Harry immediately wrapped the blonde boy into a hug and Draco hugged him back. Severus snorted and gestured harshly to the open door.


Draco took Harry’s hand and led him toward the door, but stopped and looked up at Severus. “I really sorry, Daddy.”

“You have a bad temper, Draco.” Severus answered unforgiving.

“I’m sorry.” Draco whispered, tearing up again.

“Go play.” Severus sighed.

Harry tugged at the blonde’s hand, “Daddy will forgive you later. After you fink about it, right, Daddy?”

“Yes, Harry.”

Draco nodded and the boys went solemnly to the toys. Severus settled on a chair by the bed in the corner and summoned one of his books, though his attention was still on the children. There was no more boisterous play. Draco sat still and silent, obviously still upset about his behavior and his displeasing both Severus and Harry with it.

Harry didn’t get mad at the blonde’s silence. He was remarkably sympathetic and understanding. He grabbed one of the children’s books and opened it. He pressed on the word and if it was a noun, it lit up on the page and he’d say what it was, guessing the words in between as he read to Draco. It was quite humorous to listen too, but Draco just sat silently, head down and eyes on the floor sadly.

Chapter Eight

Narcissa followed the Headmaster to the infirmary silently. The halls were empty as the students were all in their afternoon classes, and she was glad of this. Seeing her at school and heading to the hospital wing was sure to cause rumors to fly, if they weren’t already. Rumors were always bad until you had a good handle on the situation and decided exactly which rumors you wanted spread.

When Dumbledore opened the doors, she was only mildly surprised that all the beds were empty. The Headmaster looked back at her curiously, ready to answer any questions she may be now willing to voice, but Narcissa only looked back at him. He smiled and took her to another door. This was open and showed Madam Pomfrey at her desk in her office. The nurse looked up and smiled at them.

“Albus. Ms. Malfoy.” She nodded her head in greeting. “They just finished lunch. Perfect timing.”

Narcissa made sure to memorize the sequence of books to tap at the bookcase and stepped forward with the Headmaster as a door was revealed. She was more surprised, though she didn’t show it, that the nurse didn’t step up to come with them. The door opened without password or key, the bookcase seemingly the room’s only protection, and they walked into a large bedroom.

Severus was sitting in the far corner on the other side of a queen-size bed, reading a book. Curiously, two highchairs were standing against the wall by the bed closest to her and against the left wall were a spilled toy chest and two small children. Narcissa moved on to see if there was any other door that her Draco could be behind, but her eyes snapped back to the children. The second time she looked at them she immediately recognized her child, and her breath caught.

The two boys’ heads came up and looked at the intruders. And their two reactions couldn’t have been more different. They both leapt to their little feet, but the black haired child ran screaming toward Severus. His cries of fear wrapping around Narcissa’s heart, but her attention was distracted as the little Draco ran forward and plowed into her legs. She couldn’t stop the small smile from gracing her lips. She had loved raising Draco and had often wished she could have had more children. She knelt and wrapped her son in her arms, humming into his silky hair.

“Mommy! You came!” His piping voice yelled right in her ear.

She laughed, “Of course, darling dragon. Did you doubt I would come?”

“You gone a long time.” The blonde explained pulling a bit away to place a wet kiss on her cheek.

She looked down at him in the long muggle T-shirt and wrinkled her nose. The blonde’s thin hair was also tangled and his eyes were red-rimmed from crying. She frowned and looked up to the Head master and said, “Have I?”

“They’ve been like this since late Monday night.” He explained. “That might seem a very long time to his young mind.”

“I am well aware what time is like for a child.” She responded stiffly, tightening her arms protectively, and then she looked back down at her child. “Why were you crying, dragon?”

Draco lowered his head in shame, “I was bad.”

“What do you mean?” She lifted his chin with a gentle finger.

“I have a bad temper and Daddy is mad at me because of my be’avor. I made Baby sad.”

“Baby?” She asked and the little boy pointed to the corner where Severus was now standing, cradling the still quietly crying child. Again she found herself looking up at the Headmaster.

Dumbledore smiled back, “He’s Harry Potter. He seems to have developed a large fear of strangers. Only Severus can handle him without the boy being terrified. We were hoping he would take to you so that you could care for the boys during the day.”

“I have my son.” She said evenly. “What do I care about that boy?”

Dumbledore opened his mouth, but Draco distracted him by yanking himself from his mother’s arms and backing away from his mother. His face was twisted in anger, suspicion, and fear.

“I stay with Baby.” He said, staring at her.

“Draconis.” She said warningly. Whenever she used that tone, Draco knew to obey. Never in his life, at any age, had he gone against her when she used it. And that was because she didn’t use it very often or without very good reason. She used it now because Harry Potter was a target. She did not, under any circumstance, want her son in the near vicinity of the marked child.

“Mommy.” Draco said sadly. “I’m sorry. I have to stay with Baby.”

She stared as he turned and ran to Severus, wrapping his little arms around the man’s legs. She stood abruptly, furious, and spun to face the Headmaster. Dumbledore raised his hands in surrender.

“Little Harry is upset by so many of us in here. Why don’t I leave and let you talk to Professor Snape? He will explain everything you need to know.”

Narcissa watched the old man leave and turned to face the Potions Master. She had known Severus for a very long time. She had named him godfather to her only child, had been his ally while they attended school. He was a trustworthy man; intelligent and cold, but not completely heartless. He was practical and clever. In all the years she had known him, through thousands of circumstances, she had never seen him as he was now.

Severus was looking down at Draco, his long hair falling across half his face, but not quite hiding the faint blush touching his high cheekbones. Despite his stiff posture, his arms were gently wrapped around the distressed child-Harry, rubbing his back. She remembered vividly his being uncomfortable around Draco when he really had been this young, but that didn’t show in his gestures now. Something had happened to him. So she decided to release all her emotions and to hear the godfather of her child out.

“Explain this to me, Severus. What has happened?”

Severus shifted the boy in his arms and she saw that he was wearing little glasses and had his thumb firmly in his mouth while tears still streamed silently down his cheeks. It was a heart melting sight, but she didn’t let herself become moved. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Harry), that would be more difficult as the scene played out.

“Harry? Dumbledore is gone. Are you alright now?” Severus asked gently and the boy hid his face in Severus’ chest. The man sighed and ran his fingers through the messy black hair. Getting caught naturally (Harry hadn’t had his hair brushed recently either), but Severus worked out the tangles gently to remove his hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t warn you people were going to come. I didn’t know. Maybe you can sit and play with Draco and I’ll bring the lady over into the corner with me, away from you. Would that be alright?”

Harry shook his head sharply as he clung even tighter to Severus.

“Is just Mommy, Baby. Is alright.” Draco said gently, head tilted all the way back to stare up at them. “I’m here.”

Severus knelt and lifted Draco in his other arm. The blonde immediately began petting Harry as he tried to sooth him. He walked toward the toy chest and gestured with his head for Narcissa to go past him toward the chair. She did as she was asked, enthralled by what she was witnessing, and sat. Severus knelt again and Draco stood. He tried to disentangle Harry, but the boy began to cry loudly.

“Harry, what are you afraid of? I’ll stand between you and the lady, and Draco will be right here with you.”

Harry still clung, beginning to get really upset. His breaths came loud and gasping and snot began streaming from his nose. Severus sat and rocked him. Draco stood and stoked Harry’s hair, murmuring sweetly just as Severus did. It took a couple minutes to calm the boy. But again Harry threatened to begin crying when Severus tried to let him go.

“What is it, Harry? Tell me.” He practically begged.

The boy looked to Draco, sucking his thumb. Then his eyes flicked away before staring hard back into Draco’s eyes. Severus was glad the blonde understood the message because he had no clue. Draco looked up at Severus with a serious face.

“Baby is afraid of the door. How do we fix that, Daddy?” He looked like he was about to cry himself.

Severus sighed and petted Draco, “I was afraid this might happen. Damn Albus. He should have warned me, or knocked or something. He knows how Harry is.” He shook his head and focused on Draco again. “Thank you, Draco. You are a big help. You are being a very well behaved boy.”

The blonde’s tears disappeared and he smiled happily. He knew that meant he was completely forgiven for earlier and he hugged Harry excitedly. Harry smiled tearfully back, but still hung on to Severus tightly with his free hand. Severus stood and pointed his wand at the door. A few incantations later, a wooden bar was sealing the door shut from the inside.

“There. Do you see that, Harry?” Severus asked, looking down into wet and frightened eyes. “I locked it. No one can come in unless I take that down. See?”

He went to the door and pulled. It hit the large wooden bar now across it and wouldn’t open. Harry watched all this solemnly. Draco stood at Severus’ side, agreeing that the door wouldn’t open now. Harry looked down at the blonde and Draco nodded firmly. Harry nodded back very slightly and Severus relaxed.

“Do you think I could put you down with the toys so you could play with Draco? I need to talk to that lady. She’ll stay in the chair. I promise. And before she gets up, I’ll come over and pick you up. Is that okay?”

Harry nodded slowly and reluctantly let himself be placed on the floor. He was still sucking his thumb and refused to really play. He watched Draco and smiled at the blonde’s attempts to make him laugh. Severus knew that was the best he was going to get and went over to Narcissa.

She was watching him steadily and it made heat rise in his face again, but then he felt a strange surge of strength rise up in him and the color went away. He would protect Harry. And nothing would get in the way of that. He would convince Narcissa that Draco had to stay, even if she decided she couldn’t be the one to help during the day. The blonde boy was obviously key to Harry’s mental health.

“Narcissa.” He said evenly.

She raised an eyebrow, still watching him, but said nothing.

“I guess I should start at the beginning.” And he did. He told her everything that he had witnessed since Harry Potter had come off the train. He didn’t feel he needed to keep anything secret. Not even the worst Harry had experienced. She would never tell the Dark Lord or any Dark supporters. And he didn’t think she’d tell the gossip columns or even put the scandal in her own paper.

Not because it wouldn’t be right, but because what he was telling her was the pain of a child and Narcissa was a good mother. She loved her son, loved all children. She had always put Draco’s needs before her own, and still did. Always. She raised him right; with love and healthy discipline. If she was now a hard woman, it was because that was what she had to become to best protect her son. And by the end of Severus’ telling, an hour and a half later, she was no longer stiff. She was looking on both boys with worry.

“I’m sorry, Severus.” She said softly. “I really am. What that boy went through is…unspeakable. I would do much to try and help him, but I will not sacrifice my son.”

“Narcissa.” He said, reaching out to her hands.

“No, Severus. He is marked. The Dark Lord is determined to kill that poor child. Draco will be nowhere near him when that happens. If they are bonded, maybe distance will weaken it.”

“You know it doesn’t work that way.” Severus said lowly, harshly, his dark eyes burning.

“You don’t even know if they are bonded. It could have ended once they were turned four.” She argued. “I am taking Draco back to the manor and caring for him there.”

“Narcissa.” He said more urgently, hand clenching around hers. “It’s not safe there.”

“The manor has shifted location once Draco was made Lord Malfoy. No one knows the location until Draco himself tells it, and I don’t believe he had told anyone but me and you. And even if Lucius should get out of prison, which is very unlikely, the title of Head of the Family will not revert. Lucius made the mistake that allowed his first born from his first magically bonded marriage to inherit his place. The position is unchangeable once adopted. And you are a Death Eater still, spying for Dumbledore. You are a big target yourself.” She told him. Her eyes burned back at him with a mother’s determination to protect her child. “To be honest, neither of the boys are safe with you. We’re leaving. I’m sorry. I really am.”

“Harry’s mind is too fragile right now to take Draco from him.” Severus practically screamed at her, but somehow kept his voice low so as not to disturb the children. “You will kill that innocent boy.”


“No. It’s the truth. If you take Draco, Harry will die. Die because of you.” He whispered viciously. “You would have killed that child. And for nothing. Draco and Harry both are as safe as they can be in these times. Hogwarts is well protected. And I can protect them despite my position with the Dark Lord. My knowledge of darkness can be used to protect them better than anyone else. Even you. Lucius kept you ignorant of the more powerful workings, but I am not.

“And don’t fool yourself, Narcissa. Harry may be a target, and I may be a potential one, but Draco is also wanted by the Dark Lord. I know! I’ve been to the meetings. The Dark Lord had been so sure Draco would be his minion, and his public neutrality and support of his father’s imprisonment has made him a target as well. The Death Eaters have been given permission to kill him if they found an opportunity to do it without getting caught.

“Only his attendance here has saved him from assassination attempts that Draco may or may not have been able to survive. Before the spell turned them young again, I made the decision to teach him how to defend himself against such unseen and unexpected attacks, despite Dumbledore’s disapproval. Because I have the knowledge to help him protect himself. Because he is my godson. I care about his safety, too, Narcissa. And I care about Harry’s. Their best chance is together and here within these walls where I can watch them, teach them, and where Pomfrey can monitor them. We are still not sure how this spell will play out.

“Don’t do it, Narcissa. Don’t take Draco. Stay here with him and help me keep them safe and healthy. I may know spells to protect them, but I don’t know how to care for children. I need your help. Draco needs you. Harry needs you, too. Please, Narcissa.”

They stared at each other. Narcissa fought tears. She wanted to protect her son, but was unsure what would be best for him. She hadn’t known the Dark Lord had put a price on Draco’s head and that terrified her, but Draco had made his choice. She had to support that. But still, letting him stay beside Harry Potter, destined to be surrounded by death, wasn’t a good choice either. And Draco hadn’t willingly placed himself there. He had been willing to help his peer behind the scenes, but this was something else entirely.

“Mommy? Daddy?” Draco said softly and they turned slowly to look down at him. He stood straight, as if at attention. Harry was still by the box of toys, stance tense and worried. They looked back at Draco and he said, “We’re thirsty.”

Severus nodded and gestured him to go back to Harry, but the blonde hesitated. “Please don’t fight,” he said softly before running back to the smaller boy. They watched as the boys embraced and then went back to playing quietly. Severus noticed Harry’s thumb was still in his mouth. He turned to look back at Narcissa.

“At least, give it a try. You can always leave later, but there is no way to take back the damage caused once you do take Draco away.”

Narcissa watched the boys play for a moment before giving in, “Alright, Severus. I’ll give you two days to convince me that staying here is best for Draco.”

“Thank you.” He nodded and stood. He went to the boys and opened his arms to Harry. The boy went to him quickly and Severus held him close. “Harry, I’m going to call Dobby and ask him to bring you drinks. Don’t be afraid. Dobby!”

“Yes, Master Snape sir?” The elf popped in. Harry hid his face so he wouldn’t see, but he didn’t start crying. Severus looked over at Narcissa, silently asking what he should order the boys for a drink.

She smiled weakly and wiped away her tears, “Two sippy cups of cool water, please, Dobby.”

“Yes, ma’am.” And Dobby popped away. A second later he was back and gave both cups to Draco. “Is that all, sir?”

“It is. Thank you, Dobby.”

The elf nodded and disappeared. Harry lifted his head at the sound and looked around. Seeing the lady still in her place and the room empty of strangers, he allowed Severus to place him back down. Draco handed Harry a cup and they both drank from them. Severus patted their heads and went back to Narcissa.

“Why does Draco insist on calling Harry Baby?” He asked with a frown.

“When he was young, Draco had an obsession with children smaller than him and called them all babies. He would have made an excellent older brother. I have always been sorry I couldn’t provide him with a sibling.” She answered.

Severus nodded. He knew that having Draco had very nearly killed her, but she had to produce an heir. If it weren’t for his skill in healing and strengthening potions and the excellent skill of the nurse helping her through the pregnancy she would have died. Even with them it had been a near thing.

He changed the subject, asking her what she thought would be best for the boys. They had to decide how they should try and get Harry use to her and where they should stay, for Narcissa thought this room was too obvious. Plus the boys would have to get some fresh air and sunshine some time. It was very bad to leave them indoors for an extended period of time. Across the room, the boys were having their own conversation.

“They angry, Ray?” Harry asked quietly.

Draco looked over at him and shook his head, “I don’t fink so, Baby.”

“Why she cry?”

“Don’t know. I fink she wants to take me home wi’vout you and Daddy doesn’t want her too.”

“Ray…” Harry took Draco’s hand and lowered his head. “I don’t want you to go.”

“I won’t.” Draco hugged him. “I will stay wi’v you, Baby. I love Mommy, but I not go wi’v her wi’vout you. I will stay wi’v Daddy.”

“They are bigger.” Harry pointed out. “They can make you go ‘way.”

“Daddy keep me.” Draco assured him. “Baby, it be okay. I pom’ise.”

“Thank you.” Harry smiled shyly and then leaned up and kissed Draco’s cheek.

The blonde smiled happily back, “Come on. Le’ss play! They talk fev’or.”

“What’s forever?”

“A long time that goes and never ends.” Draco answered, but paused. “I fink.”

Harry giggled and they began to play as all little boys do while Severus and Narcissa discussed new rooms. Severus had conceded the point that the boys had to be moved. The infirmary was too public and the door wasn’t guarded well enough; besides the fact that Harry no longer felt safe there. And the boys would need more space. It was a miracle the box of toys had held their attention for as long as it had. Had four year old Draco been on his own, he’d have been throwing a fit about being so confined with nothing to do but play with a few toys.

Eventually they decided on the rooms attached to Severus’ suite, and they’d make an invisible connecting door that the Potion Master could use to get to them once he was done with his teaching and House duties. That way there would be no suspicions, as that will prevent him from possibly being seen going into rooms not his own. And the dungeons were less visited than other areas in the castle. The Slytherins respected their Head of House and wouldn’t go snooping around Severus’ rooms, and even should anyone try, he had his rooms well protected. It would be no problem to extend those protections by a couple adjacent rooms.

They would figure out how to let the boys get some fresh air and sunshine later. The best time to make the move was in the middle of the night when they would most likely not be seen. He’d ask Dumbledore to guard their way to ensure that. For now, the only thing they could do was try and get Harry use to Narcissa so that he’d be fine to spend the day with her and Draco without being traumatized.

Finally decided on a course of action, Severus approached the boys and explained that the lady and he were going to sit and play with them. Harry immediately crawled into Severus lap and Narcissa sat down with a smile.

“I stay with Baby.” Draco said to her, edging closer to Severus and Harry.

“You will do as you’re told, dragon.” She said sternly, but then smiled. “At it stands, we will stay with them for a while.”

Draco scowled at her and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Come on, Draco.” Severus coaxed. “Dinner is in half an hour. Let’s play a bit before then.”

He nodded reluctantly, but as the minutes passed he relaxed and began showing the toys to his Mommy. Narcissa played with him happily. She loved the man her son was becoming, but she had missed this. As Harry had with Dumbledore, the boy relaxed slowly in the stranger’s presence, but still shied away from her if she got too close.


As the two boys sat in their highchairs eating dinner, the rest of Hogwarts students were just finishing and leaving the Great Hall. Ron walked passed where Hermione and his sister were sitting. He didn’t even glance at them. Hermione’s eyes filled with tears and Ginny held her hand tightly.

Ron went in the direction of the Gryffindor common room, but turned down a staircase two hallways short of the portrait. No one followed and no one saw him slip into an empty classroom halfway toward the dungeons. Crabbe and Goyle were waiting there for him in a shadowed corner. The Slytherins had decided that the two boys would see how far they could get working with the redhead while Pansy did research by herself on de-aging theory and past cases of it.

Ron could easily see the two hulking figures of Goyle and Crabbe no matter how the two sixth years tried to hide, and it took all his self-control not to laugh at them. He cast a low-level privacy charm (not knowing of any others) and sat in one of the chairs. The Slytherins approached him.

“I think I’ve come up with something.” The redhead told them.

“What?” Crabbe asked, wide-eyed.

“Dumbledore has in his possession something that belongs to Harry. This something is a very powerful map that shows every passage in the castle and where the people are within it at any given moment. It will show us where Malfoy and Harry are, and show us if there is any way we can see them secretly. The only problem is I don’t know how to get the map back. The only thing I could think of is for one of you two to distract Dumbledore while I search his office.”

“The map belongs rightfully to Potter?” Goyle questioned to make sure.

“Yeah.” Ron answered with a shrug. “What? You wouldn’t do it otherwise?”

“That’s not it.” Goyle protested. “Father taught me a powerful summoning spell, but it will only work if the item in question doesn’t rightfully belong to who ever you’re summoning it from.”

“Really?” Ron narrowed his eyes. That was a long sentence coming out of the dense Slytherin. “It’s not Dark Arts is it?”

“No.” Crabbe shoo his head. “It’s ritual Light magic.”

“In that case, okay.” Ron sighed. “What do we need and how long will it take?”

Goyle told them what they needed, pausing every now and then to feign having to think really hard to remember. The boys could get everything needed, but it might take a day, or at most two, to set up. So they agreed to meet back in this same room the night after tomorrow and do the spell then. Ron left them grinning like a fool.


Hermione, Ginny, and Neville had done all they could. There were no documented cases of someone being turned permanently young again, and the doubted they would be able to successfully sneak back and see their friend. It was time to reach out for help. It never occurred to them to let it go.

The facts that Draco was a child as well as Harry and quickly becoming emotionally involved with their vulnerable friend, that Snape was in charge of both young children, was upsetting them greatly. No matter how skilled and knowledgeable Snape was, they believed Harry was in need of better influences, needed the attention of someone who loved him with all their heart. So they wrote a letter. They could only hope its true meaning could be interpreted, not daring to be plain in a letter anyone could get a hold of.

Dear Remus Lupin,

I hope this letter finds you well. We really miss you here at Hogwarts as a teacher and especially as a friend. You said we could write to you if we ever needed anything and that’s why I write now. I found a severely wounded puppy at the beginning of the school year. I’m not sure how to help. Dumbledore said he would do his best, but is not certain what will help either. He also ordered me to keep silent about the puppy’s presence since they aren’t allowed at school. I’m very worried, Professor. This is very important to me, Ginny, Neville, and Ron. Is there anyway you can send advice or even find time to stop by the castle? We really need you.


Hermione Granger


Severus cleaned Harry up after dinner as Narcissa did the same to Draco. The raven haired child seemed to have become accustom to her presence enough to not be upset around her. She could now walk around freely without the child clinging to Severus, but Harry still refused to let her touch him. Severus could only hope that in time the boy would come to trust Narcissa as Draco did, and for Narcissa to love Harry in return as much as she loved her own child.

The adults carried the now clean children back to the bed. Narcissa frowned at the fact that the boys would be sharing, but said nothing knowing they would be moving in the middle of the night anyway. The boys sat patiently as the adults combed out their hair. Severus took off Harry’s glasses and set them on the nightstand so that the comb didn’t get caught on the strap. Harry squinted, but didn’t protest. Not long after that, the boys were being tucked in. Neither boy asked for a story, already half asleep from the soothing sensations of having their hair brushed.

“When you wake, we’ll be in my home.” Severus told them. “No one strange will ever come in there. You’ll be safe and have many more rooms to explore.”

The boys smiled happily and closed their eyes, both cuddled close to each other. Severus waited for their breath to even out before spelling them to remain asleep until he removed the charm. They left them there as Severus spelled the door open and went looking for Dumbledore. They found him in his office.

“I would be delighted to help.” He twinkled at them and followed them back to the infirmary. Madam Pomfrey was there waiting for them.

“The test results have come back.” She said when Dumbledore nodded that it was okay to speak in front of Narcissa. “It shows that Draco has all his vaccines, even the ones given after the age of four. But Harry has had none.”

“How long will it take to get him up-to-date?”

“I don’t recommend exceeding the vaccines a four year old would get. If we give him all of them, it will make him extremely ill. Even if we discount those, it will take days to get him caught up. He needs seven infusions, and as young as he is, he can’t receive more than three a day.”

“Harry will only get the vaccines a normal child should have by the age of four.” Dumbledore decided firmly. “And we’ll begin his treatment this weekend.”

“Yes, sir.” She nodded. “How did the glasses work, Severus?”

“Perfectly.” He smiled slightly and she grinned back.

“That’s great! If we keep up with the correct prescription and he suffers no damage, it may even be correctable.”

“That is good news.” Dumbledore chuckled. “We really appreciate your care for the boys, Poppy. But I don’t feel they are as safe as they can be up here. I’ve decided to move them down to the dungeons next to Severus’ quarters. As he has reminded me, he has work to do. Ms. Malfoy has kindly agreed to care of the boys when our Professor can not.”

“Really?” The nurse frowned. She hated to give up her patients, especially when their condition was unsure due to the unknown spell. “How has little Harry taken to her?”

“Rather well.” Dumbledore assured. “Given time, I feel he will be quite comfortable with her, and because of Draco, she is rather good with young children.”

“Very well.” She sighed. “But I expect to be allowed to come down and run tests every other day at least.”

“That will be fine.” Dumbledore assured.

“Though I will need you, and anyone else, to tell me before you arrive so I can warn Harry. It makes him distrust his environment when strangers freely come and go, and that will cause unneeded stress.” Severus said firmly, eyeing the Headmaster.

“Of course.” Poppy smiled.

“And I understand as well, Severus.” Dumbledore put a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Though I hope Harry will become as comfortable around me as you and Ms. Malfoy.” Severus didn’t answer. “Well, we should get going. Thank you again, Poppy.”

“No problem, Headmaster.”

Chapter Nine

Severus had informed Dobby when he had ordered dinner for the boys that they were going to need four rooms next to his quarters cleaned and furnished. He had explained one should be a bathroom, the second should be a bedroom with closet for Narcissa, the third a play room, and the last a bedroom for the toddlers. Dobby assured him that all would be done as requested.

Originally, Severus quarters opened up into a sitting room with dark redwood flooring, covered in several thick cream and dark blue patterned rugs. In the room was a cream leather couch, a black wrought iron fire place, a redwood book case with books for entertainment only, a matching coffee table, and four matching wooden doors on each wall.

Starting from the entrance door and going left along the wall was the large bookcase; then came the first door. It opened to Severus’ study. A second door in the study opened to his private potions lab. Back in the sitting room, on the other side of the study door was the fireplace with a beautiful forest-scape painting hanging above it. Passing onto the back wall was the second door, which opened to a luxurious bathroom done in white and black marble, and a third door which opened to Severus’ bedroom. Between the two hung a large painting of a snowy mountain field. Crossing over to the right wall was the last door, which led to a small kitchen.

None of this was changed by the new connecting rooms. The only difference was the fact that the kitchen now had two doors. Through the new door lay a hallway with four doors. The first door was across the hall and to the left of the door that led to the kitchen. That was Narcissa’s room. The door directly across the kitchen’s was the bathroom. The first door to the right was the children’s play room and the last was their bedroom.

Both Severus and Narcissa were pleased. The new rooms needed to be decorated and the plain furniture needed to be transfigured into whatever they wished, but that could all be dealt with tomorrow. For now, Narcissa laid a still spelled asleep Draco in one of the twin beds, and Severus laid Harry in the second. He hadn’t really cared when Narcissa had specifically requested two beds in the boys’ room, but now he was beginning to frown. Something made him uneasy with the arrangement. He shook it off. He was just tired.

He lifted the spell from the children as Narcissa took up the two hand bells the elves provided and spelled them to ring when the boys woke. Severus took the bell Narcissa handed to him and whispered a good night. She nodded her head and they left the boys for their respective rooms and sleep of their own.


Harry slowly began to toss. As his subconscious realized he was alone in the bed, he began to have a horrible nightmare. He whimpered and a cold sweat rose up on his skin. Draco began tossing as well and the blonde bolted up right, silver eyes wide, a second before Harry began screaming. Draco climbed from the strange bed, slipping over the rails easily, and ran to his friend.

He looked through the rails to see the baby stiff as a board, screaming as if he were being painfully gutted. Then Harry would suddenly begin thrashing, his whole body arching off the bed as he sobbed. Draco yelled at him to wake up, but Harry didn’t hear. He was trapped in his own mental hell. Draco began to cry as Harry went stiff again and the whole cycle started over. The blonde tried to desperately climb into the bed with the baby, but couldn’t do it. He wasn’t big enough or strong enough. He began screaming too just as Narcissa ran into the room.

She rushed to the bed and grabbed up Harry into her arms, humming to him soothingly. Draco rocketed into her legs, crying, just as Severus came running in as well. He understood instantly and went over to lift Draco so that he could sooth Harry with his touch. Harry slowly quieted and opened unfocused eyes.

Narcissa cooed at him as a still sniffling Draco told him over and over that it was okay. Severus said nothing, but that was okay. Harry could see him standing within reach and that soothed him. He tensed when he looked up at Narcissa, realizing it was she who held him so tenderly, but was too tired to really get upset. Besides, her arms were heaven compared to his dreams. He couldn’t quite remember what had happened, but unconsciously clutched at Narcissa’s shirt and Draco’s hand, still crying softly. It wasn’t long before even that tapered off and they held sleeping children once more.

“I think it would be best to have them sleep together. Draco’s presence allows Harry to sleep peacefully.” Severus said softly, his deep smooth voice sending the children even deeper into their peaceful sleep.

“It would be a bad idea to allow him to become dependent on such things.” Narcissa answered, but her tone and face showed that she wasn’t really protesting. She gently maneuvered Harry into Severus’ arms with Draco. The boys unconsciously made room for each other. She smiled and brushed Draco’s hair out of his face, and then turned and transfigured the two beds into one queen-sized, like they had up in the infirmary. Severus smiled and lay the boys down. The toddlers clutched at each other, but didn’t wake.

“Good night, Narcissa.” He whispered as he bowed his head in thanks.

“Good night, Severus.” She answered, and followed him out of the room.


Just as the sun began to rise, bright green eyes slid open and, not a second later, silver followed. Struck by something only four year old brains could understand, both boys began giggling. Draco was the first to sit up and he yawned sweetly. Harry watched him, but made no move to leave his nest of blankets. The bedroom door opened and the lights were spelled on. Severus walked over with a yawn of his own.

“Good morning, boys. How do you feel?”

“Fine.” They both chirped at the same time.

“Do you like you’re new room?”

The two boys looked around curiously. Dark green walls and thick white carpeting surrounded them. The bed with soft golden silk sheets and comforter sat in the middle of the wall to the left of the door. Two identical oak armoires sat in either corner against the wall to the right of the bed. One had Draco’s name carved intricately into the door and the other said Harry. An oak nightstand sat on the other side of the bed, closer to the door and that was where Harry’s glasses had sat before Severus helped put them on the small child. Both boys beamed their approval.

“I’m glad.” Severus smiled and lifted the boys from their nice bed.

“Bake-fast ready?” Draco asked curiously.

“Breakfast will be ready soon. We’ll eat in the kitchen.” He answered taking the boys by the hands, having to bend down a bit to do so.

“We at our new home?”

“Yes.” Severus answered the blonde as they stepped into the hallway together. “Your mommy is ordering breakfast now, so first stop will be the bathroom.”

Draco was eager to explore, but Harry was reluctant. Draco took care of that, though. The blonde promised that they were safe and Daddy would tell them if there were strangers. Harry didn’t struggle as Severus towed him forward, but he did put his thumb in his mouth. They passed the open door of the playroom (thankfully it was all white and empty so it didn’t catch the toddlers’ attention) and then went into the bathroom. Both of the boys used the toilet and washed their hands good before Severus led them to the kitchen after warning Harry that the lady would be there.

The kitchen had been expanded to allow for a larger table and more chairs; two of which were now highchairs. Severus stared at the sight he thought he’d never see, but he was jerked from his thoughts as Draco ran to his mother yelling his morning greetings. Harry remained next to Severus; one hand worriedly clasping the man’s pant leg, the other hand firmly at his mouth. But he didn’t cry or demand to be held. That was progress at least.

“Good morning, dragon.” Narcissa said lovingly as she lifted her son, kissed him, and set him in the highchair.

She wore a white blouse today and brown slacks that did nothing to hide her beautiful figure. Her long hair was braided and coiled into a bun on top of her head to get it out of her way. She wore simple gold earrings and matching necklace and bracelet. Severus’ black T-shirt and slacks looked shabby in comparison. Growling at himself and his wandering thoughts, he lifted Harry into the remaining highchair and took a seat next to him while Narcissa sat across from him and next to Draco. The boys were, naturally, sitting side by side.

Breakfast arrived and they began to eat. Narcissa scolded Draco, informing him of the correct and polite ways to eat. Severus said nothing and just watched the pair. Draco tried to please his mother, but she seemed to recognize when he was beginning to get frustrated and backed off or complimented him. The boy never had a chance to throw a fit. Severus’ gaze went to Harry to see if he should do the same for him, but the boy was already copying Draco without prompting.

“Very good, Draco. That’s right.” Narcissa kissed her son’s hand as the boy now held the miniature spoon correctly. Her gray eyes slid over to Harry. “You too, Harry. You’re doing so well.”

The boy smiled shyly and ducked his head. Draco ginned at him and happily finished his breakfast. He still managed to make a mess, but Narcissa didn’t scold him for it. After all, he was only four and a half. She didn’t expect anything he couldn’t do. As they had discussed before Severus went to get the boys, Severus finished first and wiped his mouth.

“I need to check on something for a minute. Will you be alright here with your mommy, Draco?”

“Yeah.” Draco nodded with an angelic smile adorning his food spattered face.

“How about you, Harry? Will you be alright with the lady here and not me?”

“Call me Ms. Malfoy, Severus. They need to learn proper addresses.” Narcissa interrupted.

He slid his eyes to her and then back to the little boy, “Will you be fine with Ms. Malfoy, Harry?”

Harry looked from one to the other and then to Draco. The blonde was mouthing that Harry should answer yes, but Harry was obviously reluctant to give that answer. Severus reached over and ran his hands through the thick black hair before lifting the boy’s face so he could see into his expressive green eyes.

“It’s alright if you’re not okay with that.” He said with surprising gentleness. Narcissa’s eyes burned on the side of his face, but he tried not to notice or squirm. “Just tell me and I’ll try to make it better.”

Harry smiled tearfully and reached for him. Severus obediently lifted him from the highchair and held him in his lap, his arms securely wrapped around him. Draco frowned and began to moodily hit his spoon in his remaining food. Narcissa quickly stopped him before it went everywhere and murmured in his ear.

“It’s okay, dragon. These things take time. You don’t want to force your friend, do you? That’s not good at all. You have to let him adjust at his own pace so it doesn’t hurt him. Understand?”

“Yes.” Draco sighed, but it still had a hint of petulance. “Mommy not hurt him, right?”

“No.” She smiled and kissed his head. “I won’t hurt him, but how can he know that for sure?”

“I tell him!” Draco said and slapped his little hand on the highchair tray. “That’s how know.”

“I’m sure he trusts you, Draco. But sometimes you can’t convince your feelings of something they don’t want.”

“What you mean?” He asked curiously.

“Well, you said that the blonde man you saw a picture of was bad. Remember?”


“You trust me, right?”

“Yes, Mommy.”

“What if I told you he wasn’t bad?”

Draco screwed up his face into a frown and argued, “No, is bad!”

“You’re right.” She nodded, “But even though you trust me, you couldn’t change your feelings. Harry can’t change his feelings by telling them to change either. Now do you understand?”

“Fink so.” Draco mumbled. “Okay. Give Baby time. But you good Mommy.”

“Thank you, dragon. Now finish your breakfast and milk.”

Severus looked down to see green eyes looking up at him. He smiled and ran his hand again through Harry’s hair. Harry smiled back and leaned against him. The green eyes slid across the table to Narcissa and he sighed out a shaky breath.

“I’m fine. Ms. Mofoy don’t touch me?” Harry asked in a whisper.

“Malfoy.” Severus corrected absently. “You’re fine with her as long as she doesn’t touch you?”

“Yes.” Harry nodded. “I not bad?”

“Harry, listen to me.” Severus lifted him so that he sat on the table facing him. “You are not bad. It’s not your fault that you are afraid. Don’t ever think it. Listen to how you feel and trust yourself.”

“You love me even when I ‘fraid?”

Severus choked. Love. That was a word he had never used without derision. He’d never told another person that he loved them. And here was this innocent and fragile child who needed exactly that in order to survive. Severus took a shaky breath, his hands tightening around the boy’s waist as they began to shake. He stared into the waiting, vulnerable green eyes and nodded. Would that be enough? It looked like it would be. Harry smiled brilliantly and leaned forward to wrap his arms around Severus’ neck.

“Love you too, Daddy.”

Severus wrapped his arms tight around the little body. Oh, god. It felt like his chest was going to explode. What the hell was this feeling? And why did it hurt? Or was that pleasure? Merlin, he didn’t even know which. Shakily, he pulled Harry from him and set him on the floor. Narcissa was watching all of this with shocked, wide eyes.

“I’ll be back soon, Harry.” He promised, ruffling the black hair once more before leaving the room. It was a miracle his shaking legs carried him out the door without falling.

“Are you done, dragon?” Narcissa asked and Draco nodded. She lifted him from the chair and put him on the ground. The boy immediately ran to Harry and wrapped him in an angry hug.

“You love me, too, right, Baby?” Draco demanded. Narcissa smiled at his possessiveness.

“Love you, Ray.” Harry answered without hesitation and kissed the taller boy’s cheek.


The boys had fun with Narcissa. She let them dictate to her what they wanted their play room to look like. Not only did she change the colors of the walls, ceiling, and floor at their direction, but she also added cushions, climbing bars, a small cube maze (far more spacey and convoluted then it apperated from the outside), an art corner, toy storage corner, and shelves for books they might acquire. All of which, she summoned from either Malfoy Manor or storage.

She allowed the boys to change the color of everything at least two dozen times. The only condition was that this was the last day to do it. When they went to bed that night, they would have to live with their decision. It was a subtle lesson in consequences. And she found it was a lesson for her as well.

Narcissa had to watch carefully. Little Harry too easily submitted to Draco’s choices. She was quite pleased Draco was the one in authority of the two, but she was starting to care for the shy brunette as well. So she made sure to ask Harry’s opinions and lectured Draco that he was living with another for the time being and that he should be sure the other person was content or it would lead to problems for him later on. It was an important lesson for the Lord Malfoy to understand. Someone with such power needed to know not to dissatisfy his acquaintances and to learn that sometimes the biggest rewards came with conceding. And of course Harry could do with some self-confidence.

Fortunately, Draco took to the lesson with very little resistance. When he had truly been four, it wouldn’t have been so easy for him to allow another’s preference over his own; especially in an area that he possessively claimed as his own. She wasn’t sure if this dissimilar attitude was due to knowledge he had retained from his life before the spell, or if it was because of his strong feelings toward Harry.

Eleven o’clock came and only the promise of a snack dragged them from their decoration project. So far the room had green spotted yellow walls with a pink and blue stripped ceiling. The floor was a deep purple and it only increased the blinding effect of the neon colored furniture. But she followed the rules; she neither made her opinion known nor subtly guided their choices. She couldn’t bring herself to do so even if she were inclined to break the simple rules. It was great fun watching the boys run around tagging walls and furniture, yelling out colors.

Draco led them to the kitchen. He had tried to run, but Narcissa stopped him with a look and a lecture. Such behavior was appropriate in the play room, but not within their home. He was Lord Malfoy and should carry himself so. “Yes, Mother,” he answered with only a small pout. He straightened his back and held his head proudly. She praised him for still striding ahead of them. It was only fitting, due to his higher status.

When they got to the kitchen, Draco lifted his arms patiently and Narcissa placed him into the highchair with a kiss to his head. She turned to Harry, but the boy was hovering in the doorway. His eyes were hidden behind his glasses and hair, but she didn’t need to see them to know the boy was uneasy and preparing to bolt.

“Come, Harry. I’ll lift you into the chair and then back away. I promise not to touch you any longer than that.” She said carefully, but wisely did not approach him.

Harry didn’t move.

“Baby, hav’ta eat snack.” Draco said and hit his tray, but not in anger. He was just expressing how serious he was.

Harry visibly cowered. He knew an order when he heard one and, trembling, made his way to the empty highchair. Narcissa waited until he stilled a bit before taking a step toward him. The little boy shook his head violently and shot up and then dropped into the highchair within the blink of her eye. She quickly back-stepped as she watched his eyes behind his glasses widen in equal surprise. Clapping broke the growing tension.

“Good baby!” Draco yelled and his face was suffused with such pride and joy that both Narcissa and Harry relaxed. But still Harry looked uncertain, so she added her own praise, however little it was worth.

“Yes. Very good, Harry. Magic is a very special and wonderful thing. That was a great accomplishment. I’m so proud of you.”

“Good! Good Baby!” Draco repeated grinning ear to ear. Harry blushed adorably and ducked his head. Draco took pity, though he didn’t stop sending the smaller boy affectionate and happy glances. “Snack now, Mommy?”

“Yes, my dragon. It’s snack time.”

Narcissa ordered them cut up watermelon, dry cereal, and a sippy cup of milk from the kitchen. Absently, she taught Draco how to eat properly while her mind was occupied elsewhere. It wasn’t unusual for a wizarding child to display magic, even at this young age, but for it to be so controlled and precise was unusual. Childhood magical bursts were wild in nature and usually demonstrated how powerful the child would become. A normal four year old that had done as Harry just had would possess below average magical power. It took power to levitate your own body, but over such a short distance the feat was not very impressive. Except for the control.

Not a thing in the room had shaken or even left its place. More impressively, the highchair had remained standing. Was that precise control due to extraordinary magical strength, or was it because he retained some knowledge from his Hogwarts education. She’d have to ask Severus’ opinion. She was undecided at this point. Maybe she should question Draco herself to see how much he remembered. But after their nap. It was never wise to upset a child before their sleep period. And it was easier than normal to upset them when they were tired.

Sticky handed and faced, Draco was placed on the ground. She looked at Harry, but the boy merely stood and jumped over the side. He fell, but at half the speed he should of. He landed hard enough that he staggered, but didn’t fall. Draco was there to steady him and they walked to the bathroom. Slowly, Narcissa smiled. Draco had remembered her earlier admonishment. She followed them and waited in the doorway for them to use the shrunken toilet and sink (the perfect size for the toddlers). She made sure they washed hands and face thoroughly before leading them to the bedroom for a nap.

“Read to us?” Draco asked with a yawn as she placed him beside Harry (the smaller boy had already levitated into the railed bed).

“Of course, dragon.” She kissed his cheek and settled into the chair she summoned. She waited for both boys to settle, curled up around each other, before beginning a silly tale of a dragon and a unicorn.


The Great Hall was filling with students hungry for dinner. Hermione was one of the last to arrive. She had a lot of homework to catch up on, neglected because of her worry for Harry. Neville and Ginny were sitting together and smiled at her in welcome, but her eyes traveled further down to where Ron was sitting with Dean and Seamus.

“Ron?” She asked, coming up behind the redhead.

“What do you want?” Ron turned to face her. Dean and Seamus had seen the flash of hurt that had crossed their friend’s face and didn’t protest at the way he was treating Hermione. Obviously something was up that they didn’t know about. They shared a glance and agreed to stay out of it.

“Ron.” Hermione said softly, her warm brown eyes tearing up. “I’m sorry. We weren’t thinking clearly either.”

“Too late for that now.” He spat, but his face softened. He still hurt from her betrayal, but was not enjoying watching her hurt in return. “I just need time to get over it, ‘Mione. Maybe we can talk later.”

“Okay.” She answered and went to take her seat with Neville and Ginny. They both patted her back and hand sympathetically, but didn’t offer words of comfort and question her on what had been said. They were good friends and knew that would have been unappreciated. They also pretended they couldn’t see her silent tears, though both tried to make her feel better.


Severus came into his chamber feeling exhausted. He had not come back to his Slytherins too soon. They were frightened by Draco’s absence and feeling threatened by the Gryffindors’ strange behaviors. Something was up and they had learned that when it involved Potter, death and disaster weren’t far behind. And not knowing the details made it worse. Plus, those with aspirations to join the Dark Lord were feeling they had to find out the truth to tell their future Lord, possibly gaining favor or saving a family member from punishment with it. So the dungeons were tense with boiling conflicting pressures. Maybe Narcissa would have some idea what to do about the Draco concerns.

He walked into the kitchen and smiled as Draco shrieked his welcome. Narcissa smiled and scolded the blonde for raising his voice, but it was half-hearted. Draco grinned as he apologized. Severus ruffled his soft hair as he passed and dropped into the chair by Harry. The brunette was silent, but was smiling with heart stopping sweetness. His eyes shone under his wild messy hair with uncomplicated joy while his small arms reached for Severus; his little hands open and needy.

“Finish your dinner. You’re almost done.” Severus said gently and ruffled his hair too. But Harry was having none of it.

“Done, Daddy.” He said softly, reaching farther by leaning over his plate. Severus opened his mouth to tell him to sit until Draco was done, but the happiness had dimmed in those extraordinary eyes and they were now shadowed with uncertainty. Severus sighed and stood to lift the small boy into his lap.

Harry clung to him, wrapping those surprisingly strong arms around his neck as if he would never let go. Severus could feel the boy smiling contentedly against his neck, felt a smile cross his lips in answer. He was baffled by how good it felt to hold Harry, but didn’t fight the warm feeling. He let all the tensions of the day drain away as he felt Harry’s heart beat against his chest and listened to Draco chatter away about the playroom. Narcissa cut in as soon as she could without hurting Draco’s feelings or making the blonde feel unimportant. Severus was impressed with her skill.

“How was your day?”

“Stressful.” He answered casually. “The Slytherins are missing their favorite classmate badly. I will have to tell them something soon.”

“I will think on it.” She answered. “Harry hasn’t spoken all day until now. Not counting shouting out colors as he participated in the decorations.”

“Baby made the seal-wing blue with yellow stars.” Draco told him happily. “It looks pwetty wi’ve my purple walls wi’ve silver dwagons.”

“I bet. I can’t wait to see.” Severus smiled.

“It was fun.” Narcissa agreed, but her face was serious and Severus stiffened, preparing for the bad news he was sure was to come. “Harry won’t let me touch him. This was fine for the most part. He is very well-behaved, as is Draco. But we ran into problems for snack time and lunch.”

“And nap time! Baby did it then too! He is very good!” Draco yelled proudly.

“He levitated himself delicately into and out of the highchair and bed.” Narcissa elaborated.

Severus looked down and met Harry’s worried gaze and the child burst into frightened tears. Severus was shocked and cuddled the trembling body to him carefully. Draco’s mouth had fallen open in surprise as well and worried silver eyes met his mother’s worried blue. Severus rocked Harry gently and soothed him. It took several minutes to get the boy to quiet.

“What’s wrong, Harry?”

“You not mad?” Harry begged tearfully, clutching at Severus. “I not a f-f-freak?”

“No, Harry.” Severus said softly, cradling the child’s head to his shoulder as he realized what was wrong. Memories of Harry’s childhood in the Dursley’s home swirled through his mind and he hunched over the boy protectively. “You’re magic is amazing, Harry. You took care of the problem without mishap or making the situation more difficult. I’m very proud of you. Very proud.” He sent a glance Narcissa’s way that told her he’d want to question her more later.

She nodded and continued, “Now that you are here, I am going to go shopping. They need clothes and other such things. I’m thoroughly sick of seeing them in those shirts.”

“Will there be discrete shops open this late?”

“Yay! Pres’dants!” Draco clapped in the background, though most of his attention was still on Harry.

“Yes.” She smiled, answering them both. “I will be back in a couple of hours.”

“What about Malfoy investments? You need to have temporary control shifted over to you.”

“I took care of that after lunch. I only had to have Draco willingly press his ring into a contract granting me Regency power. I’ll think on your Slytherin problems as well.”

“So will I.” He nodded and set Harry down on the floor as Narcissa kissed her son before flooing away. He lifted Draco free of his chair and the blonde kept his hands clear of Severus’ robes. As soon as he was on the floor, he was running. Harry blinked in surprise (Severus would have to ask Narcissa why he would react that way) and then chased after his friend.

Severus sighed (he’d been doing that distressingly often lately) and thought longingly of his usually quiet nights in his office. He would have done work and gotten a few hours sleep before he did his rounds of the castle and sleeping some more. But he didn’t linger long in these thoughts, and though he didn’t know it, he was smiling as he helped give the boys a quick bath. They were both dirty from their sweaty play that afternoon.


Ron slipped from the dorm room. The others were asleep and even if they weren’t, none of them had tried to stop him or question where he was going. He met up with no one in the halls and went into the abandoned classroom where again Crabbe and Goyle were waiting for him. The three boys gave each other nods of greeting and went straight to work.

First, they made a circle about three feet in diameter. At each compass point, they placed their object of calling that Ron provided. The main thing the summoned object was made of is parchment, so they placed blank paper at the north point. Something relating to the makers sat west. Ron gave them a drawing of the four Mauderer’s animagus forms. At the east point, something the true owner of the summoned object had an emotional attachment to was set. Ron gave them Harry’s photo album. And last, to the south, was a second representation of what the object was made of. Ron put ink in that position.

The boys inscribed the circle with a triangle. The bottom of the triangle lay tangent to the north pint with the sides were at an angle to the east and west points, and didn’t even touch the south. The main caster took the south position, facing both the south and north points and objects, while the supporters stood straight across from each other at the east and west points. For this particular spell, they would not need to incant with the caster. All they needed to do was stand relaxed and allow the caster to draw strength should it be necessary.

They had accomplished the set up fairly quickly, but argued for a few minutes on who would be the caster. Eventually, Ron gave in and allowed Goyle to cast since he was the one who suggested the spell in the first place, and he had seen it done before. Crabbe and the dissatisfied redhead took up their supportive positions. If all went well, they’d have the map before dawn.


After washing the boys, Severus let Draco drag him to the playroom. He gave them the reaction they wanted and he put them to bed. He was just finishing grading some papers when Narcissa returned carrying two bags filled with shrunken packages. Severus helped her with them. Most would go in the playroom, but a good dozen boxes held clothes they would put in the armoires in the boys’ bedroom in the morning. As they organized the playroom with the new things, they talked quietly.

“I think we should tell the Slytherins a bit of the truth.” Narcissa said thoughtfully. “Maybe Harry learned a new spell during training and in anger cast it at Draco. Harry hadn’t mastered it yet and we somehow got a temporarily youthful Draco while Harry is alive, healthy, and still away training.”

“How did he get to where Harry is supposedly training? Why would Draco, who has made it clear he is neutral, antagonize the Champion of the Light?” Severus pointed out.

“Hmmm…” She thought for several long minutes. Severus doing the same. “Alright. Draco followed someone through the floo to Harry. Needless to say, that mode of travel to Harry’s training ground is now nonexistent. Maybe he followed Harry’s Gryffindor friends. But in any case, Draco stepped into the middle of a training session and a stray curse struck him. The results were unexpected and Harry feels indebted to Draco for the mistake. It is a mild dept, due to the fact Draco had intruded where he had not been invited, but Harry owes him a debt none-the-less because Draco had no ill intent. The Slytherins should be pleased with this because Draco was doing his level best to gather information for them.”

“Plausible.” Severus admitted. “So we show toddler Draco to the Slytherins, tell the story, and then have him floo out with you. You’re furious it has been kept from you so long and would have been in the dark even longer had I not recovered and found out what was going on and contacted you. But where will you hint you will be staying? If you say the Manor, it will be attacked. And we can’t admit to keeping him here for obvious reasons.”

“I will hint at a secret retreat all my own that has no connections to either the Black or Malfoy families.”

“Good.” Severus nodded. “We’ll do this tomorrow before dinner. What do you think about Harry’s magic use?”

“I am unsure.” She frowned. “It was a below average working, power-wise, but the control was high above average. I don’t think they have enough memories to consciously use the knowledge of Hogwarts lessons, so I’m inclined to believe that it was a normal demonstration of an over-emotional, powerful, wizard child.”

“He refuses to let you touch him?”

“Absolutely. He obeys Draco when Draco’s serious, but is growing more comfortable asserting himself. That’s due mainly to Draco’s completely sincere encouragement.”

“And he doesn’t speak. Not even to Draco.”

“No. Although, I’m sure he would speak to Draco if he felt he needed to. It seems that Draco understands him without Harry having to voice anything, so he just stays silent. I doubt he would talk to me for any reason, however.”

“But he allowed himself to be left alone in your presence.” Severus murmured. “That’s progress.”

“I suppose.” Narcissa smiled. “Now, we should go to bed. The boys will be up in a few hours and you have your Slytherins to steady.”

“Good night.” He stood and made his way to the door.

“Good night, Severus.” She laughed, loving the changes she was seeing in the man. He might turn out to be a friend after all.

Chapter Ten

“Is that it?” Goyle asked hoarsely.

Crabbe steeped forward and lifted the aging parchment and frowned; “I think something went wrong. It’s blank.”

“What?” Goyle grabbed it and looked it over frantically. His movements came to a stop when Ron started laughing.

“That’s it. It stays blank until you say the right password.”

Ron took the map and tapped it with his wand. He muttered under his breath as he did so. No matter his new alliances, he wasn’t about to give any Slytherin the secret to the Mauderer’s Map. The map came to life, spilling the secrets of the school and those within it out for any to read. The Slytherins took the map back from the proud Gryffindor and stared in awe.

“Look! There they are! And Ms. Malfoy’s here too!” Goyle pointed to rooms inside the dungeon and sure enough the names Ray Malfoy and Baby Potter came up lying side by side.

“What’s with their names?” Crabbe frowned. “You sure it’s them?”

“It’s them.” Ron assured. “The map shows the name that the person goes by at the time, not their official ones. See, look at us.”

Ron Weasley, Greg Goyle, and Vince Crabbe appeared clustered together. The two Slytherins nodded, satisfied with the explanation. It also meant the map was doubly important. By showing the name the person believed was their true name, it gave the reader a look inside of their mind and how they think of themselves.

“Why are they sleeping together?” Goyle just now remembered that to Ron they shouldn’t have any knowledge of Draco and Potter’s condition.

“Maybe because they’re in quarantine together.” Crabbe offered, playing along.

“Well, they both have the same thing.” Ron sighed. “But they’re not exactly sick. Some kind of spell went wrong and turned them four years old. But it doesn’t look like they can be changed back and there’s no sign of their condition being spell induced. They might have to grow up all over again.”

“How do you know?” Crabbe demanded.

“And why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Goyle glared.

“Hermione and the others snuck into the clinic where they were kept before they were moved down to the dungeon and saw them. She even cast a diagnostic spell and a permanent copy spell.” He shrugged. “I haven’t really looked at it yet. I thought we could find out about Malfoy and Harry on our own.”

“But now they’re being kept by Professor Snape’s rooms.” Crabbe shook his head. “We can’t sneak in. Those rooms will be protected to the roof.”

“I figured.” Ron ran his hands through his hair tiredly. “Alright. I don’t like it, but I’ll ask to see the med report and make a copy for us.”

“Thanks.” Goyle smiled brightly. “But at least they’re not sick. The way everyone was keeping things secret, I thought they were dieing or something.”

Ron winced, remembering his best friend sitting broken and mindless in the room beside the clinic. Harry really had been dieing. Hopefully he was doing better now despite the botched spell. “Yeah. Good thing.”


The boys woke shortly after Ron and the Slytherins separated to go back to their dorms. They were delighted to see the new clothes. Harry had politely thanked Narcissa, telling her it was too much, but Draco quickly convinced him that he needed it all and the brunette reluctantly accepted the gifts. Narcissa smiled and blew him a kiss, making Harry’s cheeks burn. Then she selected three outfits for each of them and allowed them to choose what they wanted to wear for the day.

Draco picked white cotton silk pants and a dark purple silk shirt with white slippers (very oriental), but Harry took longer to decide. Narcissa sent her son warning glares as the blonde impatiently eyed Harry’s choices. She didn’t want her son to choose for Harry. The more he got use to making decisions, the easier it would become for him. Draco nodded to her whispered explanation, but still tapped his foot impatiently.

Harry eventually settled on white sneakers, dark blue jeans, and a sky blue T-shirt with a white hippogriff flying around on it. Draco grinned proudly and Harry blushed under the praise. Dressed, the boys made their way hand-in-hand toward the kitchen; both were starving by this time. Narcissa followed laughing.

Severus greeted them with a raised eyebrow and complimented both of the boys’ attire. Harry ran to him for a hug and Severus gave him one before placing him in the highchair. Narcissa easily lifted her own son into his. Severus ate with them before he kissed them both goodbye and went to work. Narcissa cleaned them up, (well, cleaned Draco up and let Draco wash Harry’s face and hands) and then released them to play for a few hours.

As promised, the playroom was colored permanently. The carpet was a rich forest green (Harry), all the furniture was white (Draco), the walls were amethyst purple with shiny silver dragons frolicking around on them (Draco), and the ceiling was painted a royal blue with bright yellow stars that actually gave off light (Harry). The boys were thrilled with it and didn’t ask once for Narcissa to change it.

After lunch and a nap (she let them pick pajamas: Draco chose black silk, while Harry chose dark green silk), she sat them down and taught them the basics of reading, math, and easy logic games. The boys acted as any four year olds would. Their attentions spans short, their attitude cheerful as long as they didn’t suffer too many defeats, but picked things up faster and retained information with less repetition needed. Narcissa knew this was a good sign that something was retained from their previous lives and was glad. Like Severus, she too thought it would be a shame if Draco lost everything he had made of himself over the summer.

Severus got back only fifteen minutes before the House meeting he had scheduled before dinner. He would have been back sooner, but briefing Dumbledore took longer than expected. The Headmaster was surprisingly against informing the Slytherins of Draco’s condition, but had agreed after Severus explained just how serious the situation was becoming in his House.

The boys were just finishing their dinner when he walked in. Harry immediately lifted his arms to be held and Draco screamed a greeting. Severus smiled at both of them, ruffling Draco’s silky blonde hair before lifting Harry into his arms.

“Harry. I have to go somewhere tonight, but only for a little while. Draco and Ms. Malfoy will be coming with me. Will that be okay?” He asked carefully.

“Not gone long?” Harry asked as Draco yelled, “Where am I going?”

“No. We won’t be gone long at all.” Severus smiled, glad that Harry seemed unconcerned. “Headmaster Dumbledore will be coming in a minute. He’ll be watching you while we’re gone. Okay?”

The room got suddenly silent and Harry’s round eyes looked at Severus through his little round glasses. Severus steeled himself as those green orbs grew steadily more distressed and Harry’s little arms tightened around him. He had hoped Harry wouldn’t react like this, but he couldn’t change it. All three of them had to go to the meeting and Dumbledore had insisted Harry couldn’t be left alone.

“You’re leaving me?” Harry asked in a quiet, wavering voice.

“No! Not go!” Draco yelled and threw his plate and sippy cup to the floor. “I won’t leave Baby!”

“Draconis Malfoy.” Narcissa warned and the blonde subsided mutinously.

“We aren’t leaving you, Harry.” Severus promised, rocking the small boy. “We will be right down the hall and we will be back before you know it.”

Just then they all heard the door open in the living room and someone walking toward the kitchen. Harry burst into loud sobs as soon as Dumbledore stood in the doorway. Severus held the shaking child closely to his chest, distressed and at a loss on what to do. Dumbledore smiled at the scene, but he was the only one happy. Draco was now standing on his seat and pointed accusingly at the ancient headmaster.

“Get out! Look what you did! You don’t stay with Baby! I will! Now go!”

“Dragon, you can’t stay with Harry.” Narcissa explained and Draco’s face got even redder with rage. “You have to come with us to the meeting. We will be back very soon, I promise.”

“Why?” Draco demanded, stomping his little foot. “Don’t want’ta go!”

“It’s very important for the Slytherins that they see you’re okay. It’s your duty to reassure them.”

“Baby can come!” He just barely relented.

“He can’t. He wouldn’t be safe if others knew where he was.”

“Daddy protects him!”

“I will always protect you both.” Severus promised, still rocking the crying Harry. “But it would be best to prevent attacks when we can. You don’t want Harry to get hurt, do you?”

“No, but…”

“Draconis, the better you behave and the sooner we leave,” Narcissa interrupted, “the sooner we will be back and Harry won’t be upset anymore. You are dragging this out for him.”

“Fine!” Draco screamed as loud as he could and angry tears fell from his eyes.

“Put your Malfoy face on and we will go. They can’t see you like this. You are Lord Malfoy and must always control yourself.”

Draco impatiently wiped his face and smoothed his expression, but it was obvious he was unhappy. Narcissa accepted his effort and lifted him from the chair. She released his tense body as soon as she could and Draco marched into the living room, pointedly not looking at Dumbledore as he passed. Severus knew not to keep them waiting and walked quickly to the playroom. Harry screamed as Severus forcefully pried him away; his baby cries becoming desperate and afraid.

“Harry, please trust me. I’ll be right back with Draco.” Severus pleaded.

“No! Daddy!” Harry screamed, face soaked with tears and snot. “Don’t go! Ray! Ray, don’t leave me here! Please! I’ll be good, I’ll be good! I promise, Daddy! Nooooo!”

“Merlin.” Severus chocked as he fought Harry away from his legs.

“Let me.” Dumbledore said calmly. He raised his wand and a magical barrier gently separated Harry from the Potions Master.

Severus watched as little Harry pounded frantically on the invisible wall. It was the hardest thing he had ever had to do, turning his back and walking away. “Harry would have been fine with this if we weren’t leaving him with a stranger. He’s still not confident enough for this.” He snarled.

“You said yourself that he needs to get use to strangers.”

“Not like this.” Severus snapped and stormed out of the room, leaving Harry with Dumbledore as the little boy pleaded for him to stay.


Draco stood fuming beside his mother. The Slytherins, just short of one hundred kids, stood before them listening to his daddy and mother talk. Draco wasn’t listening. He was only conscious of the baby’s need. Why was this taking so long? His mother’s sharp nail pricked him. He was fidgeting. He should never fidget. He scowled, she was just lucky he didn’t kick her! But he did know this was important. He already knew Slytherins were, but how could they be important enough to do this to Baby?

“Draco?” A blonde girl asked and he forced a smile. He liked this girl. “How are you?”

“I’m fine. Just tired.” He assured her. “Mother, can we go?”

“In a minute, Dragon.” She promised.

“When do you think he’ll be back?” A slender brunette boy asked. Draco remembered him too.

“Soon. The effects will fade, but because we’re talking about Potter who knows how long they will last.” Severus smiled sardonically.

A wave of humor went through the Slytherins. Draco shifted his weight. They’d been here forever! What more did he have to do? But Narcissa and Severus must have sensed Draco was coming to the end of his rather impressive self-control, for not long after that he was guided to the floo.

“Bye, Draco. Get well soon.” The girl said as she hugged him.

Draco ignored her and flooed away in a whoosh of green fire with his mother. As soon as they were tumbling out into Severus’ sitting room, he ran toward the playroom. The old man was sitting just inside the room, speaking calmly to a crying Harry. Draco ignored him too and ran right into the barrier holding Harry on the other side. The baby was curled up against the far wall sobbing. Draco pounded on the barrier, screaming that he was back and it was all okay.

Harry looked up, face red and miserable. He got shakily to his feet and ran toward Draco, arms outstretched. Dumbledore raised his wand, but before he could incant the cancellation, there was a bright flash and the barrier exploded into thousands of golden sparks. Harry crashed into Draco, knocking him down, and cried weakly against his shoulder. Draco held him tightly and began crying himself. Severus dropped to his knees and sat so the boys were in his lap. He murmured softly into their hair as he rocked slowly. Dumbledore smiled and allowed Narcissa to lead him politely away.

“His magic is as strong as ever.” He murmured.

“He is still Harry Potter.” Narcissa agreed.

“You will keep me informed of his progress.”

“Of course, headmaster.” She smiled, but privately wished there was a place as safe as Hogwarts, but far away from the manipulating ancient. He had put back any progress Harry had made with his enforced visit, and had Harry been her son, she would have cut off his balls.


“It’s alright, Harry.” Severus whispered. “We’re back. I told you we would be. I would not lie to you, Harry. You’re okay now. We’re here. Hush, Harry. It’s okay. We will never leave you. It’s okay now.”

Eventually Harry stilled and fell into an exhausted sleep. Thank Merlin tomorrow was Saturday. After this, Harry would need him. And it was true. Despite his exhaustion, Harry panicked at every little noise and movement. In the end, both boys slept with Severus, and Draco helped sooth Harry back to sleep every time the small child woke up frightened.

The next morning, Harry clung to them both, but slowly relaxed and forgot the upset of the day before. Harry was almost back to normal by the time they had lunch and a knock came on Severus’ front door. Severus looked over to make sure the sound hadn’t upset Harry, but the boy was still eating happily.

“I’ll be right back.” He said as he stood. Harry looked up at him worriedly, but gave a little nod to say he was alright.

Remus Lupin stood on the other side of the door when Severus pulled it open. The werewolf looked as worn as always, but there was a steadiness to his eyes that had never been there before. And though his clothes were not very expensive, Severus couldn’t see one hole or tear.

“Professor Snape.” Remus said neutrally. “The headmaster sent me down saying you could answer me my questions about Harry better than he.”

Severus narrowed his eyes and his hand tensed around the door he still held in his hand. But before he could say anything cutting and slam it, a small childish cry of “Moony!” stopped him. He turned to see Harry come running into the living room, a large smile lighting up the boy’s face. His heart clinched, and with more pain than he thought possible, he turned away so he didn’t have to see Harry leap into the man’s arms.

He had known things couldn’t stay the way they were. He knew Harry wouldn’t always be his. But his depressed thoughts rocked to a shocked halt as a light weight crashed into his legs. He looked down, face a frozen mask, and found Harry reaching up asking to be held. He obeyed without even thinking about it.

“It’s Moony, Daddy!” Harry cried joyfully as he wrapped his arms around Severus’ neck and squeezed tight. Severus held him back; heart clinching with relief and joy as he realized Harry would always need him. “Moony here to have breakfast?”

Draco walked calmly into the room followed by Narcissa, “Whose Moony?”

“Nice man, right, Moony?” Harry asked.

The werewolf stared shocked. He couldn’t respond. Harry, his sad little pup, was a child again. And calling Severus father? Was that Draco Malfoy? It must be since that was undoubtedly Narcissa Malfoy. There was just too much impossibility. He could hardly think, let alone talk. Harry frowned and looked into Severus’ eyes.

“Moony sick?”

“Yes. He’s a werewolf, so he’s sick, but I don’t think that’s what ails him now.” Severus drawled, arms tightening around Harry possessively.

“Whatwolf?” Draco asked. “Aren’t they scary? He don’t look scary.”

“Yes, they are dangerous.” Narcissa frowned across at Remus. “What can we do for you Mr. Lupin?”

“And come inside.” Severus said abruptly. “It’s a miracle no one has walked by already.”

Remus took a step forward and Severus shut the door, the magic protecting it flaring to life briefly before falling beneath the surface. The werewolf followed the Potions Master to the couches, his amber eyes never leaving Harry’s small frame. Narcissa reluctantly followed her own son and took a seat next to the two couches the men were sitting in. Draco sat to Severus’ right while Harry was sitting happily in the man’s lap. Remus sat across from all three of them.

“What happened?” He managed.

“Quite a lot.” Severus smiled dryly. “Harry, do you remember Remus?”

“He’s nice.” Harry repeated, but his eyes looked unsure. “He dang’us?”

Severus considered. If he contradicted Harry’s memory, what would the consequences be? Did he want Harry to remember things? Or did he want to encourage the boy to bury everything and live again? Unfortunately, he knew from his studies that memories rarely ever disappeared permanently. They could be buried or bared through magic, but they could still be triggered if the right circumstances were to occur. He couldn’t let that happen to Harry. The boy should face the memories, hopefully now becoming distant enough to face without breaking the boy, so they were not a weakness for him. But how he hated that it involved the werewolf.

“He is a nice person, yes, Harry.” Severus said evenly, ignoring Narcissa’s suddenly arched eyebrow. “But when his sickness takes him at the full moon, he is not nice and he is dangerous.”

“When’s it full moon?” Draco asked curiously. He seemed interested rather than afraid.

“It was six days ago. I am quite safe.” Remus smiled at the little boys.

“Do you want Remus to stay, Harry?” Severus asked.

“You too? You not leaving me alowne?” Harry asked worriedly, turning to hide his face into Severus’ shoulder.

“I won’t ever leave you, Harry. I promise.” Severus hugged him and ran a hand through Harry’s wild soft hair.

Harry smiled up at him and leant in quickly to kiss the pale man’s cheek, “Kay! Moony can play wi’ve us if you play too.”

“Alright. Why don’t you start without us for a little while? I want to talk to Remus for a minute.”

“Come on, Baby.” Draco jumped from the couch and reached for Harry’s hand. “They can talk fe’vor.”

Harry laughed and took the blonde’s hand. Draco smiled happily as he now had all of Harry’s attention to himself, and hurried off to the playroom. He was careful though, not to run in his mother’s sight. The adults watched them go with indulgent smiles, but when they were out of sight they turned their attention back to Severus.

“You are not allowed to be here a week before or after your transformation.” Severus stated. “Agreed?”

“And if I don’t?”

“Then I tell you nothing.” Severus smiled maliciously. “And neither will the Headmaster. Harry’s care is my charge alone.”

“And Narcissa?”

“She is caring for her son and helps me with them both.”

“I agree.” Remus said calmly, though the tightening around his eyes told them he wasn’t happy about the clause.

It took almost two hours for Severus to explain the long standing abuse at the Dursley’s, the rape, everything that had happened after, and explain what he knew of psychology in reference to Harry’s fragile mind. It would have taken even longer, but Severus had to give the man credit. He was a good listener; rarely ever interrupting and when he did, his questions were concise and easy to answer because it was usually something Severus forgot to mention and not something he was working his way toward.

Remus sat numbly. Guilt and rage both blanketed his thoughts. How could he have left Harry to such monsters? How could he have not listened when Harry told him he was unhappy there? With a quiet moan, he hunched forward, burying his head in his hands. Narcissa stood and poured the wolf a drink. She had to put it in his hands before he realized it was there.

“How could Dumbledore have done this? He had to have known.”

“He knows many things, but not even I am sure he knew of this.” Severus sighed.

“Can I help at all?” Remus looked to the Slytherin, his eyes showing his desperate need plainly.

“I believe you can.” Severus answered reluctantly. “You are the very first person he has accepted on his own.”

“What about you?”

“After the spell, Harry was more vulnerable than he is now. All he knew for sure was Draco and that he could trust the other boy. He knew this through the bond. So when Draco recognized me as his father, Harry was imprinted with that connection to me. The connection between us is complete, however. I don’t think even Draco changing his mind would change Harry’s love for me.” Severus shifted uncomfortably at this and Remus had to fight not to smile. Narcissa was hiding hers behind her cup. “As for why Draco thought I was his father in the first place, I had been mentoring over the summer and Draco worked hard to divorce himself from Lucius. Harry still hasn’t fully accepted Narcissa despite Draco’s encouragement and he has completely refused the headmaster. This is proof that he is not as vulnerable and more secure in his own judgment.”

“How do you know he has rejected the headmaster? What happened?”

“We had to show Draco to the Slytherins last night.” Narcissa explained. “We left Harry behind because we don’t want it known that he is like Draco. Dumbledore felt Harry couldn’t be left alone for the forty-five minutes we were gone and took it on himself to baby-sit. Unfortunately, Harry is still terrified of strangers and reacted rather poorly to his company.”

“I’m surprised he has recovered as well as he has.” Severus agreed, but then frowned. “Though that usually means he hasn’t healed and is hiding his hurt too well for us to see.”

“Daddy, we’re ready for snack.” Draco said as he walked in. He was holding Harry’s hand and tugging the smaller boy along with him, but Harry didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, his face was relaxed and smiling up at them.

“I will fetch it.” Narcissa stood and followed the boys to the kitchen.

“Would you like something to eat or drink?” Severus asked neutrally. “We can sit with them.”

“I would love that.” Remus smiled gratefully and was glad when Severus nodded his understanding.

They two men walked into the kitchen. Harry and Draco were sitting in their highchairs and having animal crackers that would occasionally make animal noises, a small bowl of apple sauce, and a cup of milk without lids. Severus ordered tea and scones for the three of them. Remus sat silently through the meal, tearfully watching Harry. The boys played and ate, Severus and Narcissa laughing at their antics.

Severus lifted Harry free of the highchair when he was finished, “Let’s get you washed up and then we’ll all play.”

Draco was already free and waiting patiently for his Baby. Narcissa said she had things to do and did not follow them to the bathroom. When the two men and two boys finally reached the playroom, Harry excitedly told Remus all about the colors and how they did it all by themselves.

Severus watched carefully. Harry was comfortable enough to speak freely to Remus and in front of Remus, much more so than he would have been if it had been Narcissa in the room. But the little boy still avoided physical contact. Once Remus thoughtlessly reached out to ruffle Harry’s hair, but the boy shrank back, face going serious, and ran to Severus’ side. But he didn’t need to be held. That was progress of a sort. Severus couldn’t help but wonder if Harry would have been completely content to have Remus hold him if the werewolf had come before the mishap with Dumbledore.


“I’m going to get dinner ready.” Severus said as he stood from their play.

“Kay.” Draco smiled.

“Moony stay?” Harry frowned.

“If that’s alright.” Remus smiled kindly.

“Is okay.” Draco reassured, taking Harry’s hand. He had come to like the nice man for himself. “Just play over there some. We play pretend, kay?”

“Alright.” Remus smiled and went to where Draco assigned him. Severus chuckled as he left the room.

“Is that okay, Baby?” Draco asked, looking into warm green eyes.

“Yea.” Harry stood on tip-toe to kiss the blonde’s cheek.

“Where do you know Moony from?” He asked as he led the smaller boy over to the chest with pretend clothes.

“Don’t know. Just member him.” Harry shrugged.

“You like him more than Mommy?” Draco asked seriously as he pulled on a cape. Harry bit his lip, eyes wide and unsure. “Don’t cry. I just wan’ed to know.”

“Your Mommy is nice, but I don’t know her. I know Moony. He not hurt me.” Harry lowered his head in shame.

Draco wrapped him in a hug, “Mommy not hurt you ever ei’ver. But you don’t have to like her more than Moony. Mommy says you not change feelings, kay? Is alright, Baby. I like Moony too.”

“She might take you away.” Harry argued, looking worriedly into Draco’s eyes. “She almost did when she first came. She might still.”

“No.” Draco shook his head firmly. “She can’t make me go if don’t want to. I’m Lord Malfoy.”

“She could, Ray.” Harry said earnestly, trying to get the blonde to believe him.

“Do you think Daddy would let her?” Draco glared, not understanding why Harry couldn’t believe him. “We not ever leave. Daddy promised last night, member?”

“It could still happen. I not say you want to go, Ray.” Harry defended and took a few steps away to look for something to wear himself. “Or Daddy. But something could make you go even if you don’t want to. Then I’ll be alone.” His hands started to tremble and large tears fell down his cheeks. “I love Ray. I love Daddy. I don’t want to be wi’veout you.”

“Baby.” Draco grabbed him into a tight, angry embrace. “You hav’ta trust me. You hav’ta believe me. I swear to you, Ha’wy. I not ever leave you ever.”

He turned the smaller boy who was staring, eyes huge. Draco nodded satisfied he had finally convinced Harry of the seriousness of his promise. He leaned forward and gently kissed the baby’s sweet lips, his blonde hair falling around Harry’s chubby cheeks. Harry’s lips were warm and soft, giving easily against Draco’s own. Harry’s arms came up and hugged him tight as Draco pulled his face away.

“Love you, Ray.” Harry whispered and buried his face against the blonde’s shoulder.

“Love you, too, Baby.” Draco whispered back. Slowly, he began to smile and then grin. Yes. Baby was his. He’d make sure no one would separate them.


Remus watched as the two boys went over to a toy chest. Draco looked adorable in his black pants and white button down shirt. Narcissa was starting early with the Malfoy standards, he thought with a chuckle. Harry was slightly more casual in a long-sleeved, forest green T-shirt and what looked like jeans. Both wore brilliantly white tennis shoes.

It was kind of amusing. He looked to the ceiling; dark blue with yellow stars. That was what James and Lily had painted Harry’s nursery ceiling as. But the walls had been light blue with clouds and the carpet a grass green. Event though Harry did choose to make the carpet green in the playroom, it was darker by several shades than the floor in his nursery back in the Godric’s Hollow.

He was brought out of his thoughts when he caught motion out of the corner of his eyes. Remus lifted his head and his eyes widened. Draco was leaning carefully forward, his hands loose on Harry’s shoulders. Their lips came together and then he couldn’t see past a concealing curtain of blonde. Harry didn’t seem frightened. In fact, his arms came up to warp around the blonde’s waist tightly. Draco pulled away and Harry buried his head against his shoulder. Remus was speechless, but worry began to bloom as he watched Draco’s joyful and possessive smile bloom across his angelic face. Luckily, he was saved from having to make a decision about what to do.

“Boys.” Severus called, opening the door. “Come. It’s time for dinner.”

Harry lifted his head, smiling happily as he ran forward, “Come on, Moony. Is dinner time!”

“Can we have choc’late later?” Draco asked, running after his friend.

“We’ll see.” Severus smiled and held the door open for the boys to pass. Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and slowed as he passed the door. Harry laughed and practically bounced along despite Draco’s stately pace. “Can you stay, Remus?” Severus asked the werewolf as he approached.

“I can. But I wanted to let you know that Harry has duplicated the ceiling that was in Godric’s Hollow’s nursery, which he lived in for a year and half before the Dark Lord came. The carpet is close, but darker. And Draco kissed Harry. Rather possessively. Harry let him. In fact, he seemed pleased.”

Severus said nothing for a long minute, both men walking slowly; “They are four, Remus. I’m sure there was no sexual connection.”

“But there was feeling and purpose to it.” Remus argued. “As they get older, it will be very easy for the sexual connection to develop. Harry may be fine now, but when that happens on Draco’s side, how will Harry react?”

“I don’t know.” Severus frowned. “In any case, that could be a long time from now. Harry could be much more stable and may even need it to finish healing. We’ll see.”


[ 本帖最后由 寧 于 2009-7-24 19:25 编辑 ]

发表于 2009-7-24 19:18:56

Chapter Eleven

As she had for breakfast and lunch, Narcissa cast repelling charms on the boys’ new clothes while they ate their dinner. Had she not, it was obvious both boys would have ruined them. Harry was still a cleaner eater, but even he spilt his food occasionally. All three adults ate as well, but only Narcissa and Severus spoke. Remus was still coming to grips with Harry’s new condition and his attention was solely for the two toddlers before him. They were just finishing when a fire call came for Severus.

“I’ll be right back to give you two a bath.” Severus promised the boys and went to answer the floo.

“Professor Snape.” Madam Pomfrey’s voice said respectfully. “The vaccines have arrived for Harry. When will he be up to receiving them?”

“Tomorrow.” Severus inclined his head. “Would it be best for Harry to have an empty stomach?”

“A light dinner is preferable. That way he can sleep off any side-effects, and give it at least fifteen minutes to digest before bringing him up.”

“Then we will be there at seven. Be sure to have the infirmary empty.”

“I will see to it, Professor. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Madam Pomfrey.”

Severus straightened and made his way to the bathroom. The boys were naked and Narcissa and Remus had already gotten the bath water running. Draco held several toys and Harry was splashing softly at the slowly filling tub. Narcissa smiled at him and left, Remus following her. Severus rolled up his sleeves, scowling playfully at the boys, making them laugh.

“Alright. Let’s try and not make a mess.” He sighed and lifted them both into the warm water.

Ron waited impatiently. The library was closed, Madam Pince having left long ago for bed. The Slytherins said to meet them outside the library doors at ten o’clock, but it was getting close to ten thirty now. He shifted his feet nervously and promised himself he’d leave soon if the blonde oafs didn’t appear in ten more minutes. Just as he finished thinking that he heard someone approaching. Ron stiffened and drew back more into a shadowed alcove by the huge double doors.

“Weasly?” Goyle whispered loudly.

“Here.” Ron growled and stepped out into the open. The two blondes relaxed at seeing him and gestured for him to follow. Ron glared, but did as he was asked. “What took you so long?”

“Had to wait. Professor Snape is starting to patrol the dungeons again.” Crabbe answered and pulled the door shut as the three entered a dark and empty classroom. “Did you get a copy of the medical report?”

“No.” Ron flushed. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to speak to the other Gryffindors yet. He was still too angry and hurt.

“We saw Draco.” Goyle smiled. “He’s little. Just like you said. His mother said she was taking him away somewhere to wait for the spell to wear off. They didn’t mention Potter.”

Ron frowned, “When’s she taken him?”

“Already left. Last night from the sound of it.” Crabbe answered.

“Can’t be.” Ron pulled out the map. The Slytherins had wanted to hang on to it, but Ron had refused to tell them the passwords so it was pointless to try and keep it. Ron showed them what he already knew, having been watching the map whenever he had a chance; in case something changed. Narcissa Malfoy was in a room off Snape’s quarters and Baby Potter and Ray Malfoy were a few rooms down. The Slytherins frowned deeply at the map.

“Why are they still here?” Goyle rumbled.

“Maybe because they need to be here while the Professors figure out how to reverse the spell.” Ron said thoughtfully. “By saying they were leaving, they were protecting themselves from attack. Hiding in plain sight, as it were.”

The Slytherins shared a look before pulling their faces into puzzlement. They got the implications immediately without the redhead’s help, but they couldn’t let Ron know that. Draco was in danger more than Ron even knew. They both had received letters from their fathers asking what Draco’s protections were at school, and if the blonde could be lured outside so they could be the ones to capture or kill the betrayer. They had been relieved to be able to send word that Draco was no longer at Hogwarts. They would have to be very careful not to let on that Draco was still here. Though they did wonder how the Professor would explain his involvement to the Dark Lord, or the fact that he had not killed Draco when he had the chance.

Hermione looked up when she heard the portrait swing open. Ron hesitated when he saw her, but climbed through with every intention of ignoring her. Of course, the girl wasn’t about to let him go. Not when she had so much to say. She reached out for his arm, but froze when his blue eyes glared at her in warning. She choked back the tears she felt stirring and tried to speak calmly.

“Where were you?”

“What business is it of yours?” He growled, but softened at her stricken face.

“I was worried.” She said softly, but then stood straight and held her head high. “I am also a Perfect, Ron, and you are out past curfew.”

“What are you gonna do? Give me detention?” He asked, genuinely curious.

“No.” She frowned. “But I will have to if you keep it up. Ron. Please. Talk to me. We’re all worried. I even owled Professor Lupin. I thought if anyone, he might make it to Harry and make sure he is doing alright. I got a letter this morning and he said he was on his way to see Dumbledore. We might know more soon, and I thought you might like to know that Harry and Draco aren’t in the infirmary anymore. We don’t know where they are. I think its about time we confront Professor Snape on Harry’s progress, as well, and even try to get him to let us see him.”

Ron just looked at her, thinking. He knew where Harry and Draco were, but Hermione could know more about their actual condition, and that was more important than knowing where Harry was, wasn’t it? Plus, Hermione looked exhausted and sad. He wanted to go to her, kiss her, but he was still mad. They had treated him like shit, why should he go back? But there was Remus. The ex-professor could learn key information and he wanted to know what it was.

“Ron? I’m sorry. We were wrong to exclude you. We weren’t thinking straight. Please, forgive us?” Hermione asked hopefully when she saw him considering.

“Harry’s my best friend. I let him down in fourth year. You know that. I can’t do it again.”

“I know.” She whispered and took a step forward. He sighed and wrapped her in his arms. Hermione clutched at him and began to cry. Ron let her. “I missed you. I love you.”

“I missed you too, Hermione. We’ll work this out together.” Ron sighed, though he knew he couldn’t just drop Crabbe and Goyle. So he made up his mind to still meet with the Slytherins without telling the others. The big oafs might just be able to come up with something that the others couldn’t. There was no point in refusing help, especially since this problem wasn’t going away on its own.

Severus came back to his rooms after a short round of patrolling his dungeons. He usually did the whole school, but teaching on top of taking care of the boys, even with Narcissa’s help, was exhausting. Remus was sitting on the couch alone. When Severus had left, Narcissa was sitting up talking to him, but it looked like she had already gone to bed. The boys had been tucked in hours ago, but he felt restless with the wolf there so he went to look in on them.

The boys were sleeping peacefully. Draco was curled up on his side, his head resting right next to Harry’s, his breath gently caressing the brunette’s cheek and making a few strands of inky hair sway. Harry lay on his back, his thumb resting limply in his mouth. Severus sighed and knew this meant Harry was still bothered by the scare with Dumbledore. At least he was having no nightmares. That was encouraging. Severus closed the door silently before heading back toward the living room.

“Thank you for allowing me to stay.” Remus said quietly.

Severus didn’t answer. He went past the couch and entered his room. He came back in minutes with extra blankets and a pillow. He handed them both over to the lean man, his face smooth of any emotion; “It is no problem.”

“Goodnight.” Remus sighed sadly.

“I will be up for a while working in my study. You can find me there if you need anything. Goodnight.” Severus answered stiffly. He knew his manners. Remus was a guest and would be treated like one, but both men knew his heart wasn’t in it. There was just too much history between them for Severus to be comfortable with the wolf in his home or near Harry. But he was allowing it and that was all that mattered to Remus.

Harry woke first and smiled as he felt the blonde’s arms around him. He cuddled closer until Draco scrunched his face and opened his gray eyes. He sneezed as the baby’s hair tickled his nose and Harry laughed. The blonde smiled and reached over to the bedside table. He could just barely reach the small black glasses sitting there. Finally, he was able to hand them over.

“Thank you.” Harry said softly and tried to put them on, but his small fingers had a hard time.

Draco helped and between the two of them, got the black band around the back of Harry’s head and the glasses on straight. Draco laughed as the baby scowled grumpily, annoyed with needing the things. Narcissa walked in and smiled at the boys who were sitting up and ready to start the day even though the sun was still not fully up above the horizon.

“Morning, Mommy!” Draco yelled happily and reached for her to lift him out of the railed bed. Harry levitated himself out of the bed shortly after.

“What do you want to wear today, Dragon?” She asked as she opened Draco’s drawers and offered him the traditional three choices. The little boy picked dark blue shorts, white ankle socks, black dress shoes, and a white short-sleeved button-down shirt. Narcissa laughed as she gently helped him get into the outfit. “What’s the occasion?”

“Just feel like it.” Draco answered haughtily and his mother smiled down lovingly at him.

“Well, you look handsome.”

“Thank you. Now Baby!”

“What do you want to wear, Harry?” She levitated three choices. The boy looked between them for a minute before pointing shyly at the middle. She laughed and handed the clothes to Draco so that he could help Harry dress. It took several minutes, but finally Harry stood there in his bright white sneakers, black dress pants, and bright yellow silk button-down shirt. Personally, Narcissa would have picked black shoes to go with it, but didn’t say anything. They both looked adorable.

“You look wonderful, Harry. Now, are you two ready for breakfast?”

The boys nodded and Draco pulled Harry by the hand quickly out the door. Narcissa followed smiling. They entered the kitchen to find both Remus and Severus already up. The men smiled at Draco as he posed for them in his new outfit. Harry blushed at his side as the two men complimented them.

“You look very lovely, boys.” Severus told them.

“Wow. You two look like little gentlemen!” Remus smiled. “What are you all dressed up for?”

“Just felt like it.” Draco explained again and lifted his arms to tell his mother he was ready to be placed in his highchair. Remus reached for Harry without thinking.

Harry didn’t shrink away as he would have had it been Narcissa reaching for him, but he did pout out his lower lip, reach one hand out toward Severus, and say softly “Want Daddy.” Remus smiled and let Severus lift the small child. Harry hugged Severus’ neck and laid his head on the older man’s shoulder.

“How did you sleep?” Severus asked as he rubbed the small back.

“Fine, Daddy.”

“Good.” Severus placed him in the highchair and Harry settled with a happy smile. “What do you two want to do after breakfast?”

“I want to go shopping for new toys.” Draco said as he carefully ate. “I’m tired of all those toys.”

“They good toys.” Harry frowned.

“We keep them.” Draco assured. “We just get some more and we can play wi’ve them both.”

“We didn’t plan on a day out.” Narcissa told her son, knowing they hadn’t come up with a safe outside place yet. “Maybe another day.”

“How about we play Hide and Seek?” Remus asked, speaking before the glaring toddler could explode angrily. “We could use all the rooms and not just the playroom.”

“And later, after dinner, we have to go back and see Madam Pomfrey.” Severus added. “She needs to give Harry medicine so that he doesn’t get sick. If you’re both good while we’re there, maybe you will deserve new toys.”

“But Baby not sick.” Draco frowned confused. “Right?”

“I’m fine, Ray.” Harry assured him, smiling again.

“Then why?”

“All babies get vaccines so they don’t get sick as they grow up.” Narcissa explained. “You had yours already.”

“Oh.” He nodded. “Okay.”

The boys finished breakfast and then they all played a several hour long Hide and Seek game. The fast toddlers seemed to have the advantage, but the adults could out think them. Soon Severus’ quarters were filled with silence as the adults and children snuck and hid and hunted, but it was often shattered as childish laughter rang out as the adults and boys raced about. The boys didn’t mind when they were caught because they often got tickled (Harry even let Remus tickle him twice, but he still shied away from Narcissa). By the time snack and nap time rolled around, everyone was tired, the boys especially.

“Will you tell us a story?” Draco asked Remus sleepily. Severus had to leave to fix a problem between two fighting upper classmen Slytherins and Remus opted for the job of tucking them in since Harry was more comfortable with him. Narcissa didn’t mind.

“Sure.” He smiled, his amber eyes glowing happily as he sat. “What do you want it to be about?”

“Dragons.” Harry giggled and kissed Draco’s cheek. Draco smiled and draped an arm over Harry’s chest.

“Alright.” Remus ran his hands through both of the boys’ soft hair and began his tale.

“What is going on here?” Severus demanded in a soft icy voice. He stood behind Theodore Nott who had his wand out and pointed at seventh year Terence Higgs. Neither boy lowered their wands or spoke as their Head of House emerged from the dark dungeon shadows along the corridor. “You will answer me. Dueling in the open where anyone can see, have you no pride? No intelligence? You are upper class Slytherin. I will not stand for you disgracing that name.”

“We were just debating on that very thing.” Higgs glared at the younger boy across from him.

“Feel free to speak your ideas of House honor.” Severus drawled, his black eyes glittering dangerously. “Let us be sure that these differences are cleared before we leave.”

“As Slytherins, we will respect our Head of House, no matter personal feelings. Under no circumstance are we to publicly give offense to the Head.” Higgs said coldly, wand tip beginning to glow with his anger.

“I would respect any Head of Slytherin House.” Nott sneered. “As long as it was a true Slytherin in such a position.”

“You question me, Nott?” Severus slid forward.

“You let Draco go, didn’t you?” The boy said quickly, backing toward the seventh year. “You know there is a price on his head. Our Lord wants him and you told Ms. Malfoy what has happened and she has taken him out of reach.”

“You speak of what you do not know.” Severus whispered. “You’re a disgrace as a Slytherin. There is not only one motivation, cause, or goal to any action. You know this! Yes, the Dark Lord wants Draco Malfoy. But we were told not to expose ourselves in capturing him. I upheld my position, and I’ve gained Ms. Malfoy’s trust, so that when I may, without causing suspicions to fall on me, I will be able to carry out our Lord’s will. You are a pathetic child, Nott. Do not try and question those more powerful and intelligent than yourself. It will only cause you pain.”

Nott fell to the ground, grunting in pain. His body curled up protectively as he was assaulted by powerful invisible kicks. Higgs watched impassively, though Severus could see awe in his eyes for the wandless magic. The seventh year nodded and turned to leave. Severus waited a few moments more before lifting the spell. Nott was panting, blood trickling out of his mouth where he had bitten his own cheek.

“You are lucky you are my Slytherin.” Severus told him. “Otherwise you would have suffered under Crucio for questioning me, maligning my name. Go. And do not step an inch out of line. I don’t wish to hear of you for a while.”

The boy scrambled to his feet and limped as fast as he could away. Severus watched him go. His face was a blank mask, but inside he was sad. He saw himself in his students. Every year he watched as they made the same mistakes he made. And he knew not all of them would realize that it was indeed a mistake. It was painful to watch, painful to remember. But what else was he to do?

Narcissa watched Remus talk and play with the boys as they all ate dinner, but her attention was on Severus. The man had come back hours ago, but still hadn’t spoken or lost that hard glint in his eyes. This was the Severus she had known for years. It was amazing to see again and it brought home just how much he was changing since he had been assigned to Harry’s care. For the first time, she truly began to understand just how much Severus needed Harry. The young child was helping him heal when nothing, not even time, had been able to do the same.

“Done!” Draco said loudly with a smile.

“Come. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Narcissa smiled. “Then we’ll go and get Harry his vaccines.”

“Will it hurt?” Draco asked as he was set gently to the floor.

“Of course not. But it might give him a slight fever later. Hopefully he’ll sleep right through it and never know.”

“Are you done, Harry?” Remus asked the small boy. Harry nodded, his black hair swaying around his pretty smile. “Can I help you out so you can get washed up with Draco?”

“Daddy?” Harry looked to Severus.

Severus looked back, but his eyes were closed off. A sneer twisted his lips. “I’ve seen you let Mr. Lupin touch you, Harry. Go with him. You’ll be fine.”

“Yes, Daddy.” Harry whispered, his green eyes glittering with the beginnings of tears. Remus frowned at the other man, but lifted Harry from the chair. The boy squirmed to be put down and ran to the bathroom.


“Go.” He said shortly. He stood and went to the sitting room without another word. He waited for the children to be ready and in a few minutes Narcissa came over with the boys following her. Remus was last. Severus picked up the floo urn.

Remus turned the tearful Harry to face him and knelt before the boy, “Harry, I’m going to go talk to some people. I’ll be back in the morning, okay?”

“Okay.” Harry nodded, voice a sad whisper. Draco came over and wrapped him in a hug and Harry leaned his head on his shoulder.

“You two be good.” Remus smiled and ruffled their hair. He stood and gave Severus a meaningful look before turning to Narcissa. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She smiled and walked him to the door. “Can we expect you for breakfast?”

“Yes.” Remus gave her a small bow and slipped out the door, heading away from the dungeons.

“Come here.” Severus told the boys, not waiting for Narcissa to join him. Draco released Harry and came over, eyes wide. But Harry hesitated. “Harry. Come.”

The boy walked over. With every step he began to shake more. Draco turned around to go back to him, but Narcissa grabbed his arm. She knelt and began whispering in his ear. The boy stood tense and stock-still, eyes glittering with unhappiness. But he didn’t try to move out of his mother’s embrace or go to his friend. Severus sneered at all this and reached out for Harry’s arm. Harry let him, but began sobbing.

“What’s the matter?” Severus asked coldly.

“P-please. I’m so-sorry. I’ll be g-g-good.” Harry begged.

“What are you talking about?” The black-eyed man snapped. “Stop crying this instant!”

“I’m s-s-sorry!” Harry wailed. “I’m sorry, D-daddy! Don’t h-h-hurt me! I’ll b-be good!”

Severus froze. He looked down at the hysterical child, who still wasn’t trying to get away from him despite his fear. Then he slowly began to understand. He turned his head and looked at the fireplace. Painful clarity descended on him. He remembered what the house had shown him, remembered a three year old Harry being drug to the stove where Vernon punished him by sticking his little hands and arms against the red hot burners. Severus remembered Harry’s screams, remembered the horrid smell. He remembered Harry fighting wildly. But Harry wasn’t fighting now. Harry truly loved him and didn’t want to disobey, not even if it were to save him pain.

Narcissa watched as Severus crumpled to his knees and wrapped Harry up in his arms. The man rocked the child back and forth, whispering that he would never hurt him like that. That he wasn’t punishing him and that he wasn’t bad. Harry clung to him, crying loudly. Narcissa shifted her position and with a shock she realized that there were silent tears rolling down Severus’ face as well. She stood with Draco in her arms. He opened his mouth to protest, but she shook her head sharply in warning. The blonde relented and let himself be carried from the room.

After long minutes, Severus pushed Harry slightly away, “I was not mad at you, Harry. I was mad at other things. I promise I will always tell you if you do something to anger me.”

“You still love me?” Harry asked tiredly, eyes bright as they stared into Severus’ own.

“I still do.” Severus promised softly and Harry smiled a beautiful smile.

“Is okay, Daddy.” He promised, his little hands coming up to wipe away Severus’ tears. The man started, surprised. He hadn’t even realized he had been crying. “Love you too.”

“Good.” Severus hugged him tightly. “Now let’s go wash our face. I’m sure Draco is going out of his mind with worry by now.”

Harry giggled. Severus smiled as well and took him to the kitchen where Narcissa was talking to an unhappy Draco. The blonde’s head snapped around when they entered and Harry allowed himself to be put on the floor. Draco ran to him and hugged him, glaring all the while up at Severus.

“I’m sorry, Draco.” He told the child. “I will try not to frighten Harry any more.”

“Better not.” The boy glared and took Harry’s hand to lead him to the bathroom.

“Will you floo Madam Pomfrey, Narcissa? I think we should put off the vaccines until tomorrow.”

Narcissa nodded and Severus gave her a little smile before following the children. She watched him go, feeling very grateful for the special little brunette that was worming his way into their hearts and changing them for the better.

Remus sighed as he stepped out of the Gryffindor common room. It was just past dinner. He wondered if Harry’s vaccinations had gone well. He wondered what was wrong with Severus. He hoped everything was alright. But he had things to do before he could go back to Harry. He had gone to the Gryffindors to tell them a little about Harry’s condition and to assure them Harry was in good hands. H owed them that much since it had been they who told him Harry had been hurt.

With that out of the way, he made his way to Dumbledore’s office. Every step had his self-control crumbling and his rage slipping free. By the time he was climbing the stairs behind the gargoyle, his eyes were glowing golden and his face was set in a hard cold mask. Dumbledore said nothing as Remus stalked to the front of his desk. The two men stared at each other, one waiting and the other struggling to regain control.

“Did. You. Know.” He stated slowly, gold eyes burning on the ancient wizard.

Dumbledore sighed, “Remus, my boy, …”

“Did YOU?” Remus roared, and then visibly pulled a brittle calm back over his face. “Answer the question, Albus.”

“No.” He answered firmly, eye never wavering. “I did not. I was aware Harry was unhappy there and didn’t like going home, but I never guessed it was as bad as it was. I would never leave a child purposely in such a situation.”

“If you knew he was unhappy, why didn’t you look into the situation?” Remus asked quietly. “Why didn’t you do that anyway?”

“I couldn’t bring attention to that house, Remus. You know that. Death Eaters were hunting for him and it’s even worse now that Voldemort is back. The wards protecting him at his aunt’s house would not have stood against a direct attack for long.”

“That is no excuse.” Remus bit out. “You could have found time, Albus, for one short visit. Five minutes to make sure he was alright. That was your responsibility.”

“I know.” Dumbledore seemed to collapse in on himself miserably. “I have failed him. But I was only trying to protect him, to keep him safe and alive.”

Remus just stared at him, “And all the events while he was here? You were watching over him directly. What excuses do you have for allowing those situations to become as desperate as they did?”

“Remus, you can’t believe that I knew of all that and did nothing?” Dumbledore frowned severely.

“Why didn’t you contact me when Harry came back to school as he did? I am Harry’s godfather now that Sirius is dead.” Remus’ voice had sunk to a low growl. “No. It’s no matter, why or what your reasons are. I will take no more missions, Albus. I’m through working for you. Harry is my only concern. Tonight I return to the pack to tell them I will not be coming back.”

“Remus.” Dumbledore was sitting straight now.

“This is not up for negotiation, Headmaster.” Remus said in a dangerous whisper.

Dumbledore didn’t stop him as he turned and walked stiffly from the room. He stared after his ex-agent and sighed heavily. Things were falling apart. Fawkes trilled, but it wasn’t as comforting as it could have been. Even Fawkes was worried. He frowned. The times were getting desperate. He’d have to act soon.

Severus sat bolt upright, his hair was mussed and his breathing was fast and shallow. His eyes pierced the shadows around the room, his ears strained to hear any disturbance. Nothing. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he realized what woke him. There was a pressure against his skin, a rhythmic thrumming that washed through him bone deep like some huge silent heartbeat. The air was filled with a writhing magic.

He scrambled from the bed and rushed to the boys’ room. Narcissa was already there, banging on the door, occasionally shooting spells to try and open it. Nothing was working. Severus added his skill to hers, but no matter what he tried the door remained firmly locked. Narcissa was screaming for Draco to answer her, but they could hear nothing from inside the room. All they could do was wait.

Remus arrived at Severus’ quarters at six o’clock in the morning. Severus opened the door, but hardly looked at him before turning and running back toward the boys’ room. Remus’ eyes widened and he stepped in quickly, pulling the door closed behind him. Magic immediately pressed against him, through him. Gasping, he took off after Severus.

“What happened?” He demanded. Narcissa was staring at the door with a fanatical look in her eye. She didn’t answer. Severus ran his hand through his hair tiredly and told him all he knew. It wasn’t much. Remus nodded and stood with them, all three worried and trying to will the bedroom door to open.

Chapter Twelve

“It’s almost seven.” Remus spoke. Severus looked at him blankly. “Classes. Today’s Monday.”

Severus winced and said nothing. They continued waiting in silence. Suddenly, the magic popped and disappeared as if it had never been. Narcissa rushed through the door, the men right on her heels. The boys were sleeping. They looked peaceful and undisturbed, but then they got a better look. Their pajamas were too small for them. They looked bigger and heavier. Draco stirred and opened his gray eyes.

“Morning, Momma. Daddy. Moony.” He said as he stretched. He seemed to notice their tension and became serious. “Wha’s wrong?”

“How do you feel, Draco?” Severus asked curiously while Narcissa rushed forward, touching muttering over him.

“I’m fine.” He answered and scowled as he tried to push his mother away. “Baby! Wake up! They went crazy!”

Harry stirred and opened his eyes. He reached for his glasses and put them on. He blinked at them all nervously. “What? Did we do som’fin bad?”

“Course not, stupid.” Draco pushed him and then went back to trying to hold off his mother. “I’m fine, Momma!”

“How do you feel, Harry?” Narcissa turned to the boy, satisfied Draco was telling the truth. She reached out without thinking to check for a fever. Harry didn’t flinch away. Her eyes widened.

“M’fine.” Harry said softly, still nervous.

“Oh, Harry.” She smiled and wrapped him in her arms. “You trust me now?”

He nodded, “You not take Ray. He promise to stay wi’ve me, so I not ‘fraid of you no more.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Remus added his own hands as he ran them over the boy looking for wounds.

“Why? Somfin happen?” Draco demanded, looking to Severus for answers.

“There was a magical surge and we couldn’t get to you. We were worried.” He explained.

“Oh.” Draco looked to Harry, but the boy looked fine. A bit embarrassed, but nothing horrible. “We’re okay.”

“Good. Why don’t we have breakfast and then go to Madam Pomfrey just in case.” He decided. “Narcissa, I’ll meet you up there in thirty minutes, alright?”

“Yes, Severus.” She nodded.

“I’ll order breakfast.” Remus offered and followed the Slytherin from the room so that Narcissa could dress the boys. She had to charm their clothes larger to fit them.

Eventually, they finally made it to the infirmary. Harry was nervous with Madam Pomfrey so close to him and he began to suck on his thumb. He relaxed though when Severus strode through the doors and took up a position beside him. Draco lay next to him in the same bed. Pomfrey had tried to separate them, but Draco had refused. Narcissa was still shaking with relief that the boys were okay and couldn’t find the energy to argue with him. Remus watched everything from a few feet away.

“I have the results.” Pomfrey announced two hours after they had arrived. “But I’m not quite sure what to make of them. Why don’t you two come to my office? Remus can look after the boys.”

Severus looked questioningly down at the boy holding his hand. Harry smiled and nodded to show he was alright. Draco was already asking if Remus would give them horsey rides. He nodded and followed the two women into the office. Narcissa sat stiffly, tense with worry again. Severus just sat patiently, his face blank and waiting.

“There is nothing wrong with them physically.” Pomfrey began as she showed them the results of the tests she had run. “They are in perfect health. Their magic levels are a bit high for wizarding children of their age, but they could be at the same level they had been when they were originally this age, I don’t know. There is no residue or evidence that magic has been worked on them recently. There’s nothing.”

“So what happened?” Narcissa demanded. “They look different, at least.”

“Because they are different.” Pomfrey agreed. “Draco is now five years, seven months, and two days old. He’s four and a half inches taller and eight pounds heavier, now standing three feet and half an inch tall and weighing sixty and one half pounds. Harry is five years, one month, and sixteen days old. He’s three and a half inches taller and only five pounds heavier, now standing at two feet seven inches and weighing fifty four pounds. Draco is about average for his age, but Harry is slightly underweight for his height.”

“I see.” Severus said slowly. “So that seven hour magical storm aged them a year and seven days.”

“It did.”

“Do you think this will keep happening until they return to their true ages?” Narcissa asked hopefully.

“It would seem that way.” Severus nodded.

They didn’t have time to say anything else before Dumbledore opened the office door and stepped in. “Severus? I heard you got injured in your potions class and canceled the rest of the day? What’s happened?”

Severus reported what happened and the results of Madam Pomfrey’s tests. The woman exchanged a meaningful glance, but said nothing. They could hear Remus playing with the boys through the open doorway, and focused on that instead of the conversation before them.

“This is good news, my boy.” Dumbledore said with a bright smile. His age spotted hand came up to squeeze Severus’ shoulder encouragingly. The dark haired man said nothing. “I will take a peek at them.”

Remus was panting as he galloped around on his knees. Both Harry and Draco were on his back. Harry wouldn’t ride by himself, so he allowed Draco to ride with the smaller boy. He smiled as he heard Harry’s delighted laughs and Draco’s happy orders of faster, right, and left. He was so preoccupied that it was the boys who noticed their audience before he did.

Harry fell silent and Draco stilled. Remus glanced over to the door to see Severus, the headmaster, and the women. He sat up carefully, catching the boys in his arms. Harry didn’t look terrified as he normally would at the approach of a stranger. But his eyes were solemn and watchful.

“Mommy, I want to go swimming.” Draco said. He was undisturbed by all the attention.

“I will think about it.” Narcissa answered. The boy scowled and crossed his arms over his chest petulantly.

“Do you wish to go swimming too, young Harry?” Dumbledore asked taking a few steps toward them.

Harry nodded, but reached out to grasp Draco’s arm in a display of nervousness.

The blonde looked at the boy and patted his hand. “It’s okay. Daddy’s right there. He won’t let Dumbledore hurt you.”

Harry nodded and smiled shyly, but didn’t release his hold. Draco didn’t seem to mind too terribly. Dumbledore saw his chance and slowly lowered himself to the ground in front of Remus. Draco cocked his head curiously from his position in Remus’ lap, but Harry leaned back into the werewolf’s chest to put as much distance between him and the old man as he could.

“You know who I am, Draco?” Dumbledore asked with twinkling eyes.

“Course.” Draco said with a superior wave of his little hand.

“And you Harry? Do you remember who I am?” The little boy hesitated, but shook his head in a negative. “Ah, what do you remember?”

“I remember lots!” Draco interrupted, trying to get the attention of his friend. “I wanted to help, Baby, right? I did and that’s my job now.”

“Very good, Draco.” Severus and Narcissa came up to stand by the sitting headmaster. “And you Harry? What do you remember?”

The little boy turned thoughtful green eyes up to Severus and spoke softly, “I was with my mommy and other daddy, but they not come anymore cause they died. Then I was with my aunt and uncle and Dudley. We just started school. Now I’m with my new family. Did aunt and uncle die like my first family?”

“No, Harry.” Severus knelt and pulled Harry into his arms. The boy went willingly and happily wrapped his little arms around the Potion Master’s neck. “They were treating you badly. Children must be cared for and they didn’t care, so we are taking care of you.”

“Thank you.” Harry said and kissed the man’s cheek.

“Alright. Let’s get this over with.” Pomfrey interrupted with a huge smile. It was so nice to see young Severus lowering his guard, but if she didn’t interrupt then she was going to cry. “Harry, I’m going to give you vaccines. Why don’t you place him on the bed, Severus? Draco can sit next to him.”

Everyone did as she said. Then the witch had the boy drink the cure to the sickness while her wand on the vein in his arm spelled that sickness mildly into his veins. Dumbledore approached Narcissa with his thoughts since Severus was focused on the children at the moment.

“It seems Draco has access to all sixteen years of his memory and as he ages they become clearer.” He murmured.

“Yes.” Narcissa agreed. “But Harry only remembers his first five years with the Dursley’s and everything that has happened here since he was changed into a child for the second time.”

“Ron! Where are we going?” Hermione asked breathlessly. Ginny and Neville were running at her heels as Ron pulled her forward by her hand.

“You’ll see.” He told her. He wasn’t really willing to tell them he had Harry’s map, and therefore couldn’t tell them that he had seen Lord Ray Malfoy and Baby Potter suddenly appear in the infirmary.

Before anyone could discuss the boys’ memories further, the infirmary doors opened and four Gryffindors came in. Hermione and Ginny rushed forward while the boys froze as the headmaster and intimidating teacher looked at them.

“Oh, Harry! How are you feeling?” Hermione cried anxiously. The little boy was breathing fast. He was doing better with strangers, but this many all at once was becoming too much for him.

“Rub his back.” Severus ordered Remus before looking back into panicked green eyes. “Harry, I’m going to go talk to these people. I’ll be right back. You are safe with Draco and Remus.”

The boy nodded shakily, leaning into Draco’s side. The blonde was glaring at the intruding students. Narcissa smiled at him and walked over to offer her silent support. Severus nodded satisfied and grabbed the two girls by the arms. Dumbledore followed him herding the two Gryffindor boys behind them.

“What is the meaning of this?” Severus said icily.

“Professor, we understand you are in charge of Harry’s care, but we are his friends. We worry about him and you have not kept your promise to keep us informed of his progress and condition. We haven’t seen him in a week!” Hermione glared right back.

“As you can see, Harry is no longer himself at the moment. He doesn’t even remember you and it would not be for the best for you to be fluttering about.”

“I will give you weekly reports to his progress.” Dumbledore offered. “But until Harry returns to the age of eleven, he will not remember you.”

“When do you think that will be?” Ginny asked with a frown.

“We believe he will age a year every week. In about seven weeks, he will be eleven again.”

“Seven weeks!” Ron exclaimed, dismayed.

“It is better than having to wait seven years!” Severus snapped. “Now get out of here and mind your own business for once!”

“Harry is our business, sir.” Hermione answered evenly. “But we will leave. Don’t forget your promise, Headmaster.”

“I won’t, my dear.” Dumbledore smiled. The Gryffindors nodded and walked off.

Severus glared at their retreating backs before spinning to face his mentor, “Do you think that is wise?”

“They are his friends, Severus. He needs them as much as they need him.”

“At least I will have seven weeks free of their meddling.” Severus sighed and entered the infirmary with the headmaster on his heels.

After the boys were done at the infirmary, they all went back to Severus’ quarters. Harry was now fine with both Remus and Narcissa touching him, but still preferred his ‘daddy’. Remus took the boys to the playroom while Narcissa stayed in the sitting room to discuss the future.

Narcissa wanted her son to have tumbling classes like he did when he was truly five. It was good to build flexibility and agility, and was essential for a child to later be good a dueling. She didn’t want Draco to loose any of his physical skills over this disaster. Though she was very relieved that he would definitely not loose any of his memories. But Severus was adamant that they stay in his rooms for safety.

“They can’t stay here forever, Severus.” Narcissa said through narrowed eyes. “Draco is already requesting to go outside. You will cause them mental injury should you keep them in here always. Harry can’t have that. What if he grows to have a phobia of big places or of being outside?”

“Where do you suggest taking them?” Severus snapped.

“There is a place in France. I can floo there with the boys every afternoon for a few hours. No one will suspect anything. We will be safe.”

Severus didn’t answer, but Narcissa knew she had won and smiled softly as the man stalked from the room. Harry did develop a small fever from the vaccines, but it didn’t seem to affect him too greatly. Draco was worried, though, so he didn’t protest when Severus put them to bed early.

Harry woke from a dream of being punished at the Dursley’s. It was pitch black in the room and he was certain he was in his cupboard, certain that his dream of a caring family was over for good. He curled into a whimpering ball and hugged himself tightly, trying to stem the panic. He knew if he began to cry, he’d only get in more trouble. Draco woke to the sounds of ragged breathing. He groped sleepily for his baby, but couldn’t find him.

“Baby?” He asked as he sat up. A muffled sob was his only answer. “What’s wrong? Where is you?”

“R-r-ray?” Harry stuttered uncertainly.

“Yeah. What is it?” Draco asked as he crawled to the head of the bed where Harry’s voice had come from. He found the baby curled in a tight ball, shaking hard. His eyes got wide and he threw his arms around the smaller boy. Harry twisted and clung to him, hot tears burned Draco through his shirt.

“Why a-a-re you h-here in my cupboard?” Harry cried. “I’m s-s-sorry for getting you in trouble.”

“What cupboard?” Draco asked as he held tight. “We is not in trouble, Baby. Daddy and Mommy and Moony love us and tucked us in and kissed us goodnight. Don’t you remember?”

“Is a dream. That’s not really real, is it?”

“Of course it is.” Draco said firmly, petting the baby’s silky hair. “I’m still here. I told you. I won’t never leave you.”

“Ray.” Harry whispered breathily and cried for a minute more. “Do you… t-think you can t-t-turn on a light? I d-don’t like the dark.”

“Okay.” Draco gently released his hold and turned to the edge of the bed. He wondered why the bell hadn’t woken his mommy or daddy. Maybe it was broken. With a thump, he landed on the floor.

“Ray! Ray, are you okay?” Harry cried out frantically.

“Fine, Baby. Just trying to turn on the lights.” Draco assured him gently. “Is okay.”

“Come back. I’m so-sorry. Didn’t mean for you to g-go.” Harry cried, upset and frightened.

“Well, can’t come to you. I fell out of bed to look for lights. You’ll have to come to me.” Draco reasoned.

“O-o-okay.” Harry whimpered and began to crawl toward Ray’s voice. He was sure he’d hit the wall to the cupboard any moment, but he wanted Ray bad and was going to try even if it meant waking uncle by banging on the wall. With a startled scream, he fell of the edge and onto the hard ground.

“Baby! Are you alright!” Draco rushed over and frantically ran his blind hands up and down Harry’s body, trying to feel for blood.

“Y-yes.” Harry gasped as he grasped onto Draco’s shirt. He wasn’t ever letting go.

“Can you stand?” Draco asked sweetly, helping the little boy to his feet. “Let’s go look for a light.”

“I c-ca-can’t see nothing. How can we l-look?” Harry asked as he did as Draco said.

“Just hold onto me. I’ll find it.” Draco promised, patting the boy’s hair.

They never did find what Draco was looking for. In his room in the Manor, there had always been a small orb that, when he spoke orders into it, it controlled the lighting and temperature. But Narcissa hadn’t thought to make one for their room. And Draco was right in assuming the bell was broken from the powerful magic of their aging. Neither she nor Severus thought of it and made another yet. Eventually, the boys got tired of stumbling around blind and curled up together for warmth against a wall before falling back to sleep.

When Narcissa found them the next morning, she hugged and kissed them over and over in apology for not being there when they needed her. She fixed the bells and even made an orb for their bedroom and the playroom. Severus was equally upset and held Harry all through breakfast instead of letting him sit in a seat with a booster chair like Draco. Harry was very grateful for the comfort.

It was Friday and this was their fourth lesson at Nicolet’s Gymnastics. The lessons were three hours long and there were seventeen other five year olds in their class. Harry was the shyest and just copied Draco as best as he could. Draco was better at tumbling, jumps, and flips than Harry. But Harry was excellent at the balance beam.

Harry didn’t say anything while they were there, mostly because he was uncomfortable around strangers, but also because he didn’t know French. So Draco spoke for them both. The teachers thought it was cute. They quickly came to adore the shy brunette with gorgeous green eyes and the little blonde gentleman. The other children began to resent the new comers.

“Do you think you need a spot?” The tumbling teacher asked Harry sweetly when it came time for the brunette’s turn.

Harry looked up at her through his long lashes and bangs, while Draco answered for him in perfect French, “Yes, ma’am.”

The lady smiled and grasped his waist, helping Harry flip over backward. He smiled in thanks and ran back to the line. Draco was taking his turn and he waited patiently until he felt a hard tap at his shoulder. He turned to look and saw it was one of the bigger boys and a blonde girl. They didn’t look happy.

“Couldn’t do it on your own?” The boy laughed.

“You’re such a baby! You shouldn’t be in this class.” The girl said meanly. “You should be with the babies.”

Harry had no idea what they were saying, but looked where she was pointing and saw the toddlers learning to roll and summersault. He blushed. He knew he was no good and small. Did the teacher finally give up? He wasn’t strong like Ray. He looked back over to the kids in front of him and bit his lip. What if the teachers told the kids to tell him to go over there? Was that what they were saying?

“You’re so stupid! You can’t even talk!” The boy pushed Harry hard toward the toddlers.

Harry fell over and landed hard on his butt. Draco had just finished his turn and turned to go to the line when Harry had fallen. He ran over and shoved the boy hard, causing him to fall over too. The girl screamed and Harry stood quickly to stand at Draco’s back, one small hand clutching the blonde’s sleeve so he wouldn’t fight.

“Don’t ever touch Harry again!” Draco hissed as the teachers ran over.

“What happened here?” One of the ladies demanded.

“They were picking on Harry!” Draco said furiously. “I will not have it! I demand they be sent away!”

“I’m sure they are sorry.” The lady soothed. “Harry is fine. Let’s get back to class. No more talking or fighting!”

“You alright, Baby?” Draco asked in English turning to Harry.

The smaller boy nodded quickly, “They were saying som’fing. Am I suppose to go with the little kids?”

“No.” Draco wrapped his arms around him. “You suppose to stay with me.”

“Kay.” Harry smiled brightly and hugged his protector back.

The rest of the lesson went fine, but Draco still complained very loudly to his mother all the way back home. He wanted to go to a new school or at least kick the kids mean to Harry out of their class. Narcissa promised she’d look into it, but told Draco he was to behave while he was there. The blonde huffed, but settled down. Harry giggled at him and the blonde relaxed with a smile in response. Narcissa laughed at them both.

Severus sighed in contentment. Harry was in his lap chatting happily about his week at gymnastics and their morning school lessons with Remus. It was Saturday and Severus had never been so grateful for the weekend. He looked across the room to see Narcissa giving Draco lessons on how to walk and talk. They would only be weekend lessons until the boys turn six and then it would be daily. He was tempted to give Harry the same lessons, but shrugged. Draco needed them because he was Lord of a very large and predominate wizarding family. Harry would need different lessons. Severus wondered if it would be too soon to teach him to duel. His thoughts were shattered however as his scar began to burn. Harry instantly fell silent and whimpered, clutching his head. Draco ran over instantly.

“What’s wrong, Baby?” He asked sweetly, trying to pull Harry’s hands from his face.

“I have to go.” Severus stood quickly and handed Harry to Narcissa. “Give him a Dreamless Sleep potion.”

“Severus?” She asked worriedly, but the look on his face told her everything she needed to know. The Dark Lord was finally calling after nearly a month. She held tight to Harry as Severus flooed away without a word. She rushed over to the Potion Master’s lab and grabbed the potion. Harry was eerily silent now and reluctantly drank the potion she poured into his mouth.

“Momma.” Draco asked in a frightened little voice. “What’s happening? What’s wrong with Baby?”

“He’s sick, Dragon. Let’s put him in bed.”

Draco followed her to their bedroom and didn’t protest as he usually did over naps. He curled up around Harry protectively and his eyes closed tiredly. Narcissa watched them worriedly. Remus was beside her. He had been watching silently this whole time. The werewolf put a comforting hand on her shoulder. She was about to push him away when Harry began to scream. His little body convulsed and blood began to seep out of his lightening scar. He screamed again.

Severus returned home staggering. The Dark Lord had not been pleased that he had not found some way of contacting him with the news of Potter’s weakened condition. And he had been further unpleased that because he was Draco’s godfather, he had been unable to actively hurt the child when he had been de-aged. But he had been pleased that he had done his best to make sure he was in the traitorous bitch’s good graces so that when Draco returned to normal, Severus could act and bring him Lord Malfoy alive.

He felt nauseous and weak from all the Crucio’s he had suffered under and felt dread over what he had learned about the Dark Lord’s plan. He staggered over to his potion’s lab and downed the four that he needed. Feeling a bit steadier, he turned to go report to Albus when he spied a strained Narcissa in the doorway.

“Severus, come quick. It’s the boys.”

She needn’t say any more. He hurried after her to the children’s bedroom. Harry lay quiet in Remus’ arms, his body trembling from head to foot every few seconds. Dried blood coated his pale face. Draco lay in the bed, just waking up. He looked dazed and confused. Narcissa rushed over to him, telling Severus about Harry’s screaming and convulsing and how she couldn’t wake Draco no matter what she did. Severus listened as he ran diagnostic tests. He paled when he saw the results from Harry.

“He needs the four potions in the black cupboard. Bring them quickly.” He told her urgently. She nodded and rushed from the room.

“Daddy?” Draco asked weakly. “Are you okay? I dreamed you were hurt by a scary man.”

Severus went to his side quickly. “What did you dream, Draco?”

“The scary man stood in front of lots of people in black. Some were punished for being bad like you were. Are you okay? You screamed and screamed.” Draco was crying now, but was obviously trying to fight it. Severus swooped him up into his arms and soothed him. Promising he was alright. Draco calmed and continued to tell him about his dream. “The scary man said he had been sussessful?”

“Successful.” Severus corrected absently.

“Yeah. He had an army now. It had big ugly trolls and lots of giants and big cats and wolf-men in cages. There were so many, I couldn’t see them all. Then he rewarded some people in black and then it faded away and I was home again.” His eyes followed his mother as she came back into the room and began pouring the potions into the unconscious child’s throat. His gray eyes widened with panic. “Baby! What happened to him?”

“Your dream was real, Draco. You saw things that were really happening. So did Harry, I think. But Harry also felt the bad spells that the scary man, Voldemort, used to punish the men in black, the Death Eaters.”

“Oh no!” Draco wailed and squirmed until Severus stood and brought him within touching distance of the small brunette. “It hurt so bad!”

“We’re taking care of him, Dragon.” Narcissa soothed, taking Draco into her arms.

Severus reached for Harry and Remus reluctantly handed him over. Severus rocked the tiny body. “We need to take him to the infirmary.”

Narcissa nodded and carried Draco. Remus followed them both. Poppy threw a fit at the damage done to the small child from so many Crucio’s. She placed a dozen healing spells on the child and two more potions. Severus stayed until Dumbledore came and took him up to his office to report. It was there Severus learned that Harry always saw meetings through his connection to Voldemort. The man stared coldly at the man he had once seen as a second father.

“Then you don’t need me to spy.”

“I do.” Dumbledore answered gravely. “I’ve been trying to find a way to block the visions from the scar. Harry can’t let Voldemort have access to his mind.”

“You know damn well nothing will block a mental bond of that strength. The best we can do is teach Harry to limit the damage. He might in time be able to block the echoes of Voldemort’s curses, but he will always see the meetings. There is nothing we can do to stop that. Not even Occlumency will keep Voldemort out. But it may be able to protect his inner most mind. I will begin teaching him again. Occlumency and meditation to block out the curse echoes. I will no longer spy for you. Harry needs me.”

“You can’t!” Dumbledore said furiously. “We have no way to know if what Harry sees is true. Voldemort has sent false visions in the past.”

“I’m sure that once Harry learns the difference it will be very easy to see false from true. It is very hard to lie mind to mind, as you well know.”

“I have kept you out of Azkaban. You agreed to do as I asked in return.”

“And I have. For eighteen years, I’ve served you faithfully. You need Harry. Harry needs me.” Severus turned toward the door. “I’m doing what is best. You know that.”

Dumbledore sat dumbstruck, alone in his office. Things were getting out of hand. He had to do something!

Harry woke back in his own bed Sunday morning. Draco smiled at him and kissed his cheek. Harry blushed and hugged him. They talked softly of their shared dream. Draco remembered it more clearly since he hadn’t been distracted by pain, and explained to his baby that it had been real and all about the bad Voldemort and Death Eaters. Harry listened quietly and when Draco finished, he buried his head in the blonde’s chest. Draco held him and stroked his silky black hair.

“I’m scared.” Harry admitted tearfully.

Severus came the rest of the way into the room, having been watching all this from the doorway. He lifted both of the small children into his arms and held them. “I know you are scared. But I will teach you to deal with these dreams and I will protect you. You are safe.”

“I protect you too, Baby! I love you!” Draco promised, kissing the tear-wet cheek.

Harry cuddled up to him with a thankful smile. “Love you, Ray. Love you, Daddy.”

“Come.” Severus said thickly, tightening his hold. “Let’s get something to eat.”

Remus and Narcissa were already waiting at the breakfast table. Both asked the boys how they felt. Draco said he was fine, but his gray eyes kept returning to Harry worriedly. Harry smiled brightly and promised he was okay too. They talked of fun things while they ate. Afterward, Severus took the boys to his office and began teaching them Occlumency.

He didn’t touch their minds yet, but began teaching them how to focus on one thing until it fills up their mind so that they were no longer thinking. They didn’t get very far. Draco and Harry had the attention span of five year olds. The rest of the afternoon was spent and play. They also made the boys rest often. Tomorrow at midnight they’d grow a year and they’d need their strength.

Chapter Thirteen

Narcissa watched the two six year olds as they ran ahead of her. Remus was chasing after the children, playfully pouncing and tickling them. They were on their way back from the infirmary and Severus was teaching his classes otherwise he would have been there. He couldn’t afford to miss anymore days. Slytherins weren’t stupid and they needed to keep the boy’s presence in the castle secret a bit longer for their own safety.

“Momma!” Draco yelled as he turned and ran back to her.

She scolded him for his behavior. He was not behaving as Lord Malfoy should. They were in public (even though there was no one around, the castle hallways were considered public) and should act it. Draco waited with obvious impatience for her lecture to end and she straightened his long silky hair fondly. It fell past his shoulders now, and she could easily play with it now that Draco’s head reached her waist. Harry was still much smaller, standing five inches shorter and weighing ten pounds less than her son.

“We want to go play outside.” Draco said. “Let’s go shopping. We need new things.”

She looked past Draco to see Harry. The boy was looking at the ground shyly and twisting his shirt in his hands. She smiled and turned to look back at Draco, “Alright. We shall go shopping instead of having morning lessons. But you will not miss tumbling this afternoon. I’ve scheduled you an appointment at a new school.”

“Yes, Mother.” Draco said primly and went back to Remus and Harry.

She felt pride in her son and pain. He was growing up so fast. She was very grateful to have him as a child again and knew he needed to be returned to his rightful age, but couldn’t help enjoying every extra second of him being young and needing her again. Remus looked back at her with a knowing smile and she invited him along. He readily accepted.

Draco didn’t know what was wrong, but was determined to do something about it. There was a heaviness in his baby that had never been there before. And ever since they woke up that morning, Harry wouldn’t look at him or anyone in the eye. Draco was about ready to scream. He thought going out would make him feel better. It was always fun for him, but it seemed to make it worse instead. He just couldn’t understand.

They were standing in a huge toy store in Paris and all Harry could do was stand mutely. His mommy was worried as well, but Harry wouldn’t answer her. Moony had tried to get Harry to relax too, but his baby was having none of it. Eventually, Draco had enough and ordered the two adults to leave them. Mommy didn’t want to, Draco knew, but he stared her down as he had been taught and she finally went to the other side of the store with Moony.

“Baby, what’s the matter?” He asked gently, taking his best friend’s hand. “There’s lots of toys here. Come look with me.”

Harry nodded, but still wouldn’t look up or speak. Draco wrapped an arm around him and led him down the isles. He pointed out games, figurines, and stuffed animals. Harry would nod when he asked if he liked a certain thing, but whenever Draco tried to get him to take it, his baby would shake his head hard from side to side. Draco could feel his panic, so he would move on.

“Mommy. I’m ready to go.” He said stiffly.

“Are you sure, Draco? You haven’t picked anything out yet.” She asked with a worried frown.

“What’s the matter, cub?” Moony asked, on his knees in front of the small boy. Harry didn’t speak.

“Let’s go now.” Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and they left.

“What do you think is wrong with him?” Remus asked Severus when the Potions Master finally came down the corridor. He had been waiting patiently for the dark-haired man to finish dinner in the Great Hall. Narcissa had thought it was best if Severus was warned of Harry’s behavior before he came home for the night.

“I don’t know.” Severus frowned and thought back to what he had learned from the house from when Harry was six. “But it is most likely due to the Dursleys.”

Draco had enough. After they had dinner, he slipped from his chair and grabbed Harry’s hand. He practically dragged the boy off and he snapped at his mother to leave them. Narcissa’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t protest. Draco led Harry to their bedroom and shut the door firmly behind him. Harry scooted away from him and began trembling, face still determinedly averted.

“What is wrong?” He demanded angrily, stomping his foot. “Why won’t you talk to me? Stop it this instant!”

“I’m sorry.” Harry whispered.

“Look at me!” Draco screamed and grabbed Harry by the shoulders. Harry looked up and his eyes were dark and filled with tears. Strangely, though Draco felt fear from the smaller boy, he also felt relief. “Stop that! You’re being stupid! I tried to make you feel better and you won’t be happy! Why aren’t you happy?”

“I’m bad.” Harry whispered. “I shouldn’t be here. I need to be punished ‘cause I ate too much and made you mad. I’m sorry, Ray. Don’t be mad. I’ll be better. I won’t get your things dirty or make a mess.”

Draco released Harry and looked at the smaller boy helplessly. What was Harry saying? It didn’t make sense at all. He felt tears burn his eyes and he ran from the room. Harry watched him leave and, though it hurt, knew that was what he deserved. He was bad and dirty and shouldn’t ever be happy cause that meant he needed more punishments and he didn’t want punishments, though he knew he needed them ‘cause he was bad and they were the only way he could get better. His confused thoughts broke as a large shadow loomed in the doorway. Harry looked up at his daddy in horror.

Severus watched Harry’s eyes fill with fear before the small child looked toward the ground. He stood absolutely still and stiff. Severus knew he was waiting for the blows he was sure to come. He came forward and dropped to his knees, starling the boy enough to make him meet his eyes once more.

“Harry, you are not at your aunt and uncle’s. You know that.”

“Yes.” Harry said uncertainly.

“You are here in my home with Draco and Ms. Malfoy and Moony. We are not the Dursley’s. Therefore we don’t think like them. Do you understand?”

“No, sir.” Harry admitted slowly and cringed.

Severus grabbed the boy’s face gently and tilted it up, “Exactly this. We care for you. You are not bad. You are not being punished. We want you to be happy because when you are not it makes us very upset. Draco is out there right now crying and throwing a tantrum because he doesn’t understand why you are doing this to yourself.”

Harry’s eyes widened and tears fell from them, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”

“Shhh, Harry.” Severus wrapped him in a tight embrace.

He just couldn’t look at the mentally twisted child before him. He felt sick thinking of what it took to make an innocent six year old believe so fully in their own worthlessness that they actually wanted punishments. He knew how confusing all this must be for Harry even with the last two weeks to teach him that he was safe and cared for.

“Why don’t we go out and see if we can make Draco feel better?”

“What do I do?” Harry sniffed, trembling.

“You are to be happy. Smile and play with him. Show him that you,” Severus hesitated, but there was only one word he could use, “... love him still.”

Harry nodded. They arrived in the living room to find a fuming Draco standing by the fireplace with his arms crossed over his chest and ignoring his mother completely. Remus was sitting on the couch, smiling sadly at the scene as Narcissa tried to talk reason and understanding into her son.

“Ray?” Harry said nervously as he went over to his friend. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry. I’m sorry, Ray. I’m better now.”

Draco turned around and eyed Harry suspiciously. Severus said nothing. Narcissa held her breath. She didn’t know what would happen to the damaged little brunette if Draco were to reject him now. But Draco didn’t. He pulled Harry into an angry hug. Harry returned it more gently.

“Don’t do that ever again!” Draco ordered, eyes bright. “I mean it, Baby.”

“’Kay.” Harry agreed easily. “I’ll be good.”

Draco nodded and turned to his mother, “We want desert.”

Narcissa frowned, “Ask nicely, Draco.”

“Please, order us desert, Mother.” Draco rolled his eyes as he said it. Harry looked horrified at such behavior.

“You will not get what you want from people if you make them not want to do it.” Narcissa lectured. “You are Lord Malfoy. You need to be proud, but arrogance will get you nowhere.”

“Yes, Mother. I know.” Draco insisted. “But you’re Mommy. I don’t haveta pretend with you.”

“You shouldn’t have to pretend to be nice. You should have to pretend to be arrogant.” Remus laughed.

“Are we getting desert or not?” Draco demanded, hands on hips.

“I’ll get it.” Harry offered hurriedly. Daddy had made it clear that it was his job to keep Draco happy.

“Sweetie, you don’t know how and Draco needs to understand this.” Narcissa turned her attention back to her son. “You are to respect me and when you talk to me like that you make it seem like you don’t. And if I do not have your respect, then you do not have mine. I do not have to do as you like. I only have to do what I like and right now that isn’t making you happy.”

“Here you go, Ray.” Harry offered the chocolate cake to his friend.

The adults stared in wonder. Harry hadn’t moved. He had stood there the whole time. So how did he get cake? Narcissa and Remus shared an awed, nervous glance. Severus stared at Harry and asked where he got it from. The boy looked confused and afraid. Draco slid their daddy a questioning glance, but Severus shook his head to keep him from interfering.

“Was I bad?” Harry fretted.

“No, Harry.” Severus assured calmly. “I was just wondering where you got the cake.”

“I don’t know.” The boy frowned and looked at the desert Draco was holding. “I just wanted Draco to be happy and thought hard on what he liked best and then I had it so I gave it to him. Is it wrong?”

“No.” Draco smiled sweetly and leaned over to kiss his cheek making Harry relax and smile back. “Is my favorite. Thank you, Baby.”

“Welcome.” Harry blushed happily.

Narcissa opened her mouth to tell Draco he couldn’t eat it because of his behavior, but Severus stopped her. The boys walked hand-in-hand to the kitchen talking about nothing really. Remus followed after taking in Narcissa’s dark expression and Severus’ blank one.

“Why did you stop me? Draco has to learn the difference between spoiled and proud behavior. The longer you wait to instill those values, the harder it becomes.”

“I am aware.” Severus conceded. “But he knows those values already. And Harry is confused. We best not make it worse.”

“Draco is just as important as Harry.” Narcissa snapped. “I will not allow my son to fall into damaging habits.”

“Harry needs to feel like he has worth, Narcissa. And if you had told him that it was wrong to do what he did you will only enforce his belief that he can do nothing right.”

“If Harry’s presence keeps me from disciplining my son, then perhaps we should leave.” She said evenly.

“Narcissa, don’t threaten me.” Severus answered, ice creeping into his voice.

“It is not a threat. I’ve come to believe it would be healthy for the boys to spend some time apart. Perhaps Remus can take care of Harry during the day while I take Draco to lessons. We’d be back by dinner.”

“Just a little more time, please, Narcissa.” Severus said coolly. “Let them adjust a few days to being six.”

“I shall see.” She answered and went to sit with her son.

Severus took the boys to the bathroom and rolled up his sleeves as they stripped. Harry had been much better since their confrontation in the sitting room an hour earlier. He was acting much as he had before aging to six years old. But now he was quiet and withdrawn again. Severus sighed and lifted Draco into the tub before reaching for Harry. He felt a slight tremor in the boy’s body and frowned.

Harry sat stiffly in the tub and Draco responded by sitting still and watching him carefully. Severus tried to act like he noticed none of this and began washing them. Draco submitted, but Harry began to shake more. Finally, he could ignore it no longer. “What is wrong, Harry?” He asked gently.

The boy shook his head. Draco frowned and looked to Severus worriedly, “He’s afraid. Very.”

Harry began to cry and stutter his apologies. Draco went to him and hugged him tight.

“There is nothing to be sorry for. It is alright to be afraid. But why are you afraid?” Severus asked casually, rinsing Draco’s hair very carefully. This was really difficult to do when the boys were sitting so close together.

“I don’t like the water.” Harry admitted shakily, clinging to Draco. “You can’t bree’ve in water.”

Severus froze as the implications of that statement came to him. Draco of course didn’t know what Harry’s words meant and innocently said, “Of course you can’t. That’s why you hold your breath. Right, Daddy?”

“That is true, Draco.” Severus agreed slowly and took Harry’s face in his hands. “I wouldn’t do that. You will not be pushed under. I promise. Now relax so I can rinse you off.”

“Why would you think Daddy would push you under?” Draco frowned. But Harry couldn’t answer. Draco still felt the fear and vulnerability coming to him from his baby and turned Harry’s face to him as he had seen their Daddy do. “I wouldn’t let you get hurt, Baby. I will protect you. Even from Daddy, I would.”

Harry launched himself toward Draco and began to cry. Draco looked panicked, but held him. Severus sighed and simply spelled soap from the boys. He wrapped them in the same large towel and held them close. “I told you, Harry. You are not bad here. The Dursley’s were wrong about you. They couldn’t see you the way we can. You don’t have to be afraid here. You can be happy here.”

“We love you, Baby.” Draco added. “Don’t be scared or sad no more.”

Harry held tighter and whispered to both of them, “Love you so much. Don’t want you to go away.”

“We’re not going anywhere.” Severus promised.

That night Harry woke to a nightmare. Draco woke too and ordered the control globe to turn the lights on. Harry was crying into his shoulder and Draco did his best to calm him. He was glad when their daddy and his mommy came in, woken by the alarm bells. Daddy came over and rubbed at his baby’s back and Draco just held tight, waiting for the fear and grief breaking his heart to ease.

“Harry, what’s the matter?” Severus asked gently. The boy just shook his mutely and burrowed more into Draco’s side.

“Harry, sweetie, are you alright?” Narcissa asked as she reached over and ran a pale hand through his hair. She saw Severus smirking at her from the corner of her eye and cast him a glare. The boy nodded under her hand, but still wouldn’t come out.

“Baby, tell us what you dreamed.” Draco begged. “Was it the scary man with red eyes again?”

“No.” Harry whispered, pulled out of his fear by Draco’s pleading voice. “I… I was back in my cupboard and… and Uncle was yelling that… that you weren’t coming back for me… that you n-n-never l-l-love me cause I’m a bad, filthy, f-f-freak and you were playing a j-j-joke on me making me think you l-l-love me.”

Severus pulled the sobbing child into his arms and stood, rocking him back and forth as if he were an infant. Draco was in his own mother’s arms. The two blondes were whispering to each other. Draco was asking in a pitiful whimper why Harry never believed him and Narcissa was doing her best to explain why Harry was hurting the way he was. She hadn’t wanted to mention the abuse, but knew she couldn’t hide it from her son any longer. It was tearing him up too much.

Unaware of any of this, Severus was again tirelessly repeating all the reassurances that Harry needed; “You are not ever going back to your aunt and uncle’s. I promise Harry. You are living with me now and Draco wouldn’t let anyone hurt you. He loves you. So does Moony. You are worthy of love. You make us happy when you’re happy. We would never get rid of you.”

“Even you?” Harry asked in a sleepy whisper.

“Especially me.” Severus admitted, tightening his arms around the fragile child. “Harry, I… I’m very happy to have you with me and I won’t leave you or let you leave. You’re stuck with me for a very long time.”

“Are you really my daddy? How come… how come you didn’t die in the car crash with mommy?” Harry’s green eyes looked up at Severus trustingly and he knew he had to be very careful on how he answered these questions.

“Harry, child, your parents didn’t die in a car crash. The Dursley’s lied about that as well. Tomorrow, while Draco is taking his lessons on politics and acting, Moony will take you aside and teach you all about James and Lily Potter, your parents. They are dead, but they loved you with all their heart and had no idea you were going to go live with the Dursley’s when they passed on.”

“Oh.” Harry’s eyes teared up and Severus could feel the boy pulling away from him. “So you aren’t my daddy.”

His throat tightened and he prayed he’d have the strength to say what Harry needed most. He cleared his throat and Harry looked up at him with wounded, sad eyes. “Just because your birth parents are gone does not mean that there is no one left to take care of you. You have a family who love you. Draco is in it and so is Moony. And I know Narcissa, Ms. Malfoy, cares very much about you too. And… and I would like to be in your family. I… would like to be your… second father… for as long as you will have me.”

“You want me? You want to be my daddy?” Harry asked with complete surprise.

“Yes.” Severus answered. He stood still, waiting to be rejected. Therefore he was shocked when Harry leaned up and wrapped his arms around his neck and began crying into his shoulder. “Harry?”

“Thank you for being my daddy.” Harry answered, still crying. “I was so afraid and alone. I wanted a daddy so bad. I love you, Daddy.”

Severus rocked the boy, “Never again will you be alone, Harry. That I swear.”

The next morning, both Draco and Harry were subdued. They were both tired and Draco was still trying to come to terms with everything his mother had told him that night. His gray eyes landed on the boy in his thoughts. He sensed fatigue and nervous excitement. It was better than the depression of the day before, but he missed the simple happiness only Harry could feel.

“Are you okay, Ray?” Harry asked softly. Usually he was the last to dress.

Draco shook his head, “Yeah. I’m fine, Baby.” And offered a large fake smile. Harry smiled back and hugged him, making Draco’s smile more real. But the blonde was bothered by something. How come Harry didn’t know he was faking? Couldn’t he feel him inside like Draco could?

“Are you boys ready now?” Narcissa asked. She thought the boys were old enough to gain a bit of independence and had them get dressed by themselves after she laid out their outfits for them. Draco nodded and Harry smiled shyly. She gave them both a good morning and knelt to straighten their clothes. “Draco, you’ll be coming with me in the sitting room for lessons. Harry will be going to the play room for his own studies.”

“What?” Draco stared at her in surprise. “Baby stays with me.”

“We’ll just be in another room, Dragon.” Narcissa said firmly. “You’ll see each other soon for lunch and then your tumbling lessons.”

The boys hadn’t enjoyed their new tumbling school in Germany. Draco couldn’t speak the language as well as he could English and French, and Harry had been behaving oddly. She hoped now that they had things straightened out a bit with Harry, they’d have fun. The teacher was a really nice man.

Draco glared mutinously, but the use of his nickname was enough to keep him silent. Harry began to fret at his anger, offering to skip going with Moony. Draco could feel that Harry wanted to go to Moony and learn about his parents, but he honestly would rather Draco be happy and was willing to give that up just to do that. Draco relaxed and grabbed Harry into a hug.

“I love you, Harry.” He said and kissed his cheek. “You go see Moony. I’ll see you for lunch and stupid tumbling lessons.”

Harry smiled sweetly and kissed Draco’s lips before running off to the playroom. Draco watched with happy eyes, but frowned. “He didn’t eat breakfast.”

“We’ll just make sure he eats a lot at lunch.” Narcissa laughed. “He’s obviously too distracted to eat now.”

“Fine.” Draco huffed and followed his mother into the kitchen.

Harry settled in Moony’s lap. The man had a white box at his feet and it was filled with pictures inside. He slowly lifted a picture from the top and gave it to Harry. A man and woman stood smiling in it and playing with a baby. It was him and his parents. Harry’s eyes filled with tears. The people here didn’t look at all like drunks or worthless freaks. They were beautiful and happy.

Remus began to tell Harry about his parents when they were in Hogwarts. He told him how James and Lily met and all about what was going on after he was born. He mentioned the war, but very vaguely. He only said “bad things were happening” and “a bad man was hurting lots of people”. More pictures were handed to the child every now and then and Harry listened with all his attention. Both were crying by the time Remus got to James and Lily’s death and again he softened it as much as he could.

Draco came into the room. He had told his mother he was getting them for lunch, but he knew that Harry was very sad and confused. He went to Moony’s side and after tugging on his sleeve was able to climb into his lap next to Harry. Harry stuttered the bare essentials and Draco held him as he cried. He wished Harry’s parents weren’t dead. If they hadn’t died, his baby would never have gone to his aunt and uncle’s to be hurt.

“Come on, boys.” Remus sniffed and wiped at his eyes. “I believe it is lunch time. And don’t worry Harry; we’ll talk about your parents every morning before we do your letters and lessons.”

Severus had left him in charge of Harry’s morning lessons since he couldn’t be there. Draco was learning acting, politics, family history, and current family business. He no longer needed lessons in reading, writing, or math because he was able to recall those skills from before the spell. Harry still needed to learn those and also to begin memorizing offense and defense spells. Severus hoped by seven or eight the boy would be ready to actually begin duel training.

The boys ate lunch and Narcissa flooed them to Germany. Draco still was disgruntled about not being able to understand or speak properly, but Harry was much happier and not bothered by the language gap. He was use to it from the tumbling lessons in France. So the blonde relaxed a bit and didn’t complain quite as much as he did the day before to his mother when they got home.

There was still an hour or so before dinner, so Draco drug Harry into the playroom. The boys were soon laughing and messing about. It was a relief from all the serious things from the day before and that morning to be able to play and act their age. By the time Narcissa came to collect them, they were sweaty, their clothes were torn, and their hair was in wild disarray. But she said nothing about that for both boys wore a wide happy grin.

Severus was pleased with Harry’s cheerfulness when he came down for the night. He and the boys played a bit and he gave them baths before tucking them in. Draco demanded a story and Harry was giggling by the end where the talking broomstick tried to get a job, too afraid of heights to do what he was meant to do and fly.

The days passed in this manner uneventfully. Narcissa was satisfied with the boys being separated for morning lessons that she didn’t take Draco away. The boys were learning fast and Harry’s third favorite thing was learning about his parents. His second favorite thing was their nighttime ritual with their daddy and, much to Draco’s delight, Harry’s first favorite thing was the blonde boy himself.

The small brunette had nightmares, but only twice woke up because of them. Draco was already awake both times and in his small high voice sung to Harry as he held him to make him feel better. Severus and Narcissa were woken by the bells, but wouldn’t come in unless the boys didn’t fall back to sleep within ten minutes or so. Neither time were they needed. Harry was well taken care of by his blonde friend.

The weekend came and the three adults planned an outing. The boys were clueless, so when Saturday morning came and Narcissa laid out for them warm travel clothes, Draco yelled in excitement and began bouncing around demanding to know where they were going and what they were going to do. Harry laughed at his antics and began pulling on the clothes.

“Now listen.” Narcissa said firmly after the boys inhaled breakfast. Severus and Remus were sitting at their placed around the table smiling at the children’s happiness. “Your daddy and I went to a lot of trouble to set this up. Don’t make us regret it. I mean it, Draco.”

“I’ll be good!” Draco promised and squirmed in his seat.

“You better.” She warned, pointing a long finger at him. “No running off with out one of us, no tantrums. You are to hold yourself with pride. You may have fun, but no screaming and you will listen to us when we talk to you.”

“Yes, Mother.” Draco promised solemnly.

“Yes, Miss Malfoy.” Harry echoed.

“Good. Come with me.” Severus reached for Harry’s hand and Draco grabbed Harry’s other. Narcissa and Remus followed them to the sitting room. Severus stopped in front of the floo and knelt. “Do not take these bracelets off. They will let us find you should we get separated, which we won’t.”

“Yes, Daddy.” Draco and Harry said together, admiring the silver medal rings that shrank to fit around their wrists snugly.

“Very good.” Severus ruffled Harry’s hair and squeezed Draco’s shoulder. The boy’s long blonde hair was in a tight braid and he knew both he and Narcissa would be angry if he messed it up. “I will go first with Harry. Draco, you’ll follow with your mother.”

He lifted the smaller boy and threw floo powder into the fire. A flash of green light and they were gone. Narcissa followed quickly with Draco and Remus came last. The five of them found themselves in a large round room. There was no furniture or windows, but sitting on the floor in the center was a small stack of papers. Still holding Harry, Severus bent and picked them up.

“We have thirty seconds.” He informed them and Narcissa and Remus placed their hands on the paper. Draco grinned at Harry from his mother’s arms and Harry giggled nervously in response, his eyes bright with excitement. Without warning, the paper activated and there was a firm tug in his stomach and the world swirled away.

They appeared in a very similar room, but this one had a door instead of a fireplace and a man standing guard beside it. The man looked over the papers and nodded to let them through saying, “Enjoy your trip, Mr. and Mrs. Thorpe. Mr. Gardener.”

Bright clear sunshine blinded them as they stepped out onto a street. Harry gapped in wonder and Draco grinned. Hundreds of brightly dressed people were walking up and down a wide lane with booths with multi-colored awnings lining the path on each side. Wandering musicians were playing up-beat traditional Greek songs and venders were shouting out prices and advertisements in many languages. The path was white, the sky an incredible blue, and the smell of the ocean mingled with the smell of pastries and fried foods.

“Welcome to Thessaloniki, Greece, and the International Trade Fair.” Moony laughed.

Draco wiggled and was placed on the ground. Severus put Harry beside him. The small boy was curious, but very frightened of the large crowd of strangers. Draco took his hand and pulled the boy with him. Harry smiled sweetly and put his thumb in his mouth, letting the blonde guide and protect him.

The stands had items of all kinds. Most were Greek in origin, but there were things from all around the world. They saw clothes, furniture, weapons, toys; anything you could ever imagine was being sold on that boardwalk. Draco and Harry stopped by the musicians often and watched the people who would stop and dance. Draco and Harry would join in and Draco would laugh at the attention they gathered. Everyone thought they were so adorable. Harry would turn bright red at the praise and would run off to Severus.

They ate pastries and crepes and roast meat. They bought kites and flew them on the beach. The water was so very blue and the sand sparkling white. The water was too cold to swim in that time of year, but the boys had fun nevertheless. They saw a Greek puppet show and it was fun to watch even without knowing what they were saying.

Draco bought dolls and puppets and toys. Harry asked for nothing, but accepted with a joyful smile a royal blue gypsy shawl with small gold coins on the edge from Severus. He wrapped it around his chest like a toga and it tinkled softly whenever Harry moved. Remus took tons of pictures and chased after the boys when they ran from sight to sight. Severus and Narcissa followed at a more stately pace, content and happy with the day.

By nightfall, the boys were exhausted. They returned to the room they had portkeyed into and returned to the room with the fireplace. Harry and Draco were asleep by the time they flooed into Severus’ quarters. Harry’s head rested on Severus’ shoulder, pink mouth slightly open, the blue shawl still jingled happily as he laid Harry out on his bed. Draco was placed beside him, snoring softly. With a few flicks of her wand, Narcissa removed their clothes and dressed them in their pajamas. Severus lovingly ran a hand through Harry’s hair and walked quietly from the room. Narcissa followed after lightly kissing them both.

They found Remus already asleep on the couch. Severus laughed. Chasing after two hyper six year olds would have worn anyone out and here was the proof. He was just glad the Wolf had been there; otherwise it would be him dropping from exhaustion. Narcissa smiled and came to Severus’ side. He was shocked when she placed a gentle kiss on his cheek and whispered goodnight. Yes. It had been a good week. He only hoped that the boys as seven year olds would be just as pleasant.

Chapter Fourteen

Harry woke and curled into a loose ball. Draco turned over and brushed his friend’s black hair off his face. Deep sadness and a lingering fear radiated from the smaller boy, but at least it was better than how Harry had been feeling lately. The heavy weight of self-hate had lightened considerably.

“Baby? Hey, what’s wrong?” Draco asked when he heard a quiet cry.

“I… I had a bad dream.” Harry answered. He turned in toward Draco and shook against the blonde’s chest.

“What was it about?” Draco asked softly.

“It was when… when I went to the hospital.” Harry turned his green eyes to Draco, begging the boy to understand. “I’ve never been to the doctors before… Aunt Petunia always made copies of Dudley’s records and just put my name on them… The school never really looked, they didn’t care…”

“That’s stupid!” Draco yelled indignantly.

Harry only shrugged, “It did matter, Ray. I wasn’t sick that often anyway… But… But I had to go to the doctor this time… U-u-uncle hit me before, but nothing like this… He’d never gotten so… so bad before… Ray, he almost k-k-killed me... I was so scared.”

Draco grabbed his friend in a tight hug. He felt rage. How dare anyone hurt his baby? He didn’t understand how this could have happened to him, but he made a solemn promise he wouldn’t let anything hurt his Harry ever again. He was pulled from his thoughts when Harry’s soft voice continued.

“I… I never really… thought about it before then… I just thought that’s how it was, that I deserved being punished and put in my cupboard, but after I got back from the hospital everything was different. I was terrified because… because I knew it didn’t matter what I did. U-u-uncle would always hate me and hurt me… It wasn’t fair… It didn’t seem….”

Harry fell silent and Draco guessed at the next word; “Right. It didn’t seem right that your Uncle, someone so much bigger than us, could hurt you like he did.”

“Yeah.” Harry sighed, burying his face into the blonde’s shoulder. “It didn’t seem right anymore.”

“It wasn’t right.” Draco said firmly, pulling the boy from him so he could look into his tear stained face. “It isn’t right to hurt you. You are not bad and they’re gone and never coming back. I’m here now.”

“Thank you, Ray.” Harry smiled and wiped at his cheeks. He knew his friend hated it when he was upset and crying.

“Come on. I’m hungry.” Draco smiled back and jumped out of bed.

Narcissa, Severus, and Remus sat at the breakfast table waiting for the boys. Narcissa had gone to check on them, but when she heard the serious conversation going on, she had backed off. The boys could dress without her anyway. They were old enough now. Severus raised an eyebrow when she entered without the two children, but she said nothing. Eventually Draco came into the room with a bright smile and loudly saying “good morning”. Harry followed and waved shyly.

“How did you sleep?” Remus asked as the boys got into chairs, no longer needing booster seats. Though Harry had to sit on his knees, he was too short to comfortably see over the table. None of the adults mentioned this.

“Fine.” Draco answered. His mother gave him a look and the blonde rolled his eyes before turning to the werewolf and saying with strict formality and false sweetness. “I slept well. Thank you. I hope the same can be said of you?”

Harry giggled and the blonde sniffed at him, putting his nose in the air. Narcissa frowned at this, but Remus cut in before she could say anything. “Really, Narcissa. He doesn’t need to be so proper with me. I had hoped we were becoming friends.”

“It is good practice.” She argued. “Manners are important. Especially for the Lord of the Malfoy family.”

“Yes. We know.” Draco said and there was a glint in his eyes that made Narcissa hold her peace for the rest of breakfast.

After they ate, Severus rose to go to class. Harry reached for him and he obediently lifted the child for a quick hug. Draco didn’t ask for the same, but he did smile sincerely and wish his Daddy a good day. Severus half-bowed and strode from the room. Remus just sat back and laughed at them all.

“Come on, boys. We need to go to the infirmary for another check up.” Narcissa stood and walked regally to the sitting room and the floo. It was deemed too dangerous now for the boys to wander through the halls (they could no longer trust the boys wouldn’t run off), so Severus’ fire had been hooked up to Madame Pomfrey’s. Harry and Draco followed her and Remus took up the rear.

Pomfrey hovered and fussed over the boys as she ran her tests. Draco sat stiffly, answering her with a regal politeness that did his mother proud. Harry sat, blushing nervously and hiding his face against Draco’s arm more often than not. Remus tried to calm him, but Harry wouldn’t relax. He just didn’t like strangers and his new memories of being in a hospital made him dislike the infirmary with a new passion.

“Well. They’re healthy as can be.” Pomfrey finally stepped away from the little boys. “Though Harry is still underweight and short for his age. He is 3 feet 1½ inches and weighs 62.5 pounds while Draco is 3 feet 6½ inches and weighs 73 pounds. Nothing’s wrong that I can see. Harry still has one more vaccine to go. Do you want me to give it to him now?”

“That will be fine.” Narcissa nodded.

Harry’s eyes got wide and he turned to Draco afraid. Draco frowned at the nurse and wrapped an arm around Harry’s shoulders, but he didn’t say anything when she lifted the smaller boy’s arm and began to chant a spell. Harry whimpered and began to cry. Pomfrey finished and handed the boy a potion to drink, promising that it was over. The boy swallowed quickly between tears and jumped from the bed, running back to her office and the fireplace there. Draco followed him to the nurse’s office letting his mother uphold the parting rituals.

“Do you want to play?” He asked Harry once Remus flooed them back to their Dad’s rooms.

“Okay.” Harry smiled.

“Beat you there!” Draco yelled and took off. Harry chased him with a laugh.

That afternoon they were taken to another new tumbling teacher who was also a martial artist. Narcissa hadn’t taken her son to such lessons the first time he was a child, but had wanted to. Lucius had forbidden it because it was too Muggle, but he wasn’t around to do so again. Draco was thrilled, but it quickly became apparent that Harry wasn’t happy.

“Alright, boys. Your mother paid for an extra hour of defense lessons.” The man smiled as the other children left them alone. “Copy me.”

Draco obeyed readily. He wanted to be able to protect Harry from bullies and learning to fight would be a great help. Harry mimicked their new teacher’s stance obediently, but wasn’t as excited as Draco. Fighting wasn’t something he saw as fun. After thirty minutes and learning how to block and dodge, their teacher began throwing slow-motion punches at Draco.

The blonde did as he was taught and was praised. It was Harry’s turn. He stood where Draco had and looked up at the man teaching them. The teacher smiled reassuringly and then his expression became one of concentration as he threw a blow. Harry’s eyes widened and he went stiff. His uncle was bearing down on him, face purple with rage, fits ready to hurt him. He dropped into a tight ball, whimpering. Draco ran to his side and the teacher backed off with surprise.

“Harry, it’s alright. You’re safe. No one will hurt you.” Draco promised, petting the smaller boy’s hair. It took a while, but Harry eventually uncurled and sat huddled in Draco’s embrace.

“You alright there, Harry?” Their teacher asked, dark eyes worried.

Harry nodded and blushed. How could he be so stupid? He knew his Uncle wasn’t here. Draco wouldn’t let anyone hurt him. He stood and nodded that he was ready to try again. But when the teacher tentatively made to slap him, again he had a flashback. He screamed and flung himself away.

Draco stood between the teacher and Harry, “We’re finished for today.” He ordered. “Thank you for your instruction.”

The man nodded and left them alone, taking up a position on the other side of the room. Satisfied, Draco knelt by Harry and tried to get him to come out of his defensive position. Harry wouldn’t do it. The waves of terror that rolled off of him were too powerful. Draco couldn’t get through to him.

“Shhh. It’s alright, Baby. I’m here.” He whispered as he curled around Harry protectively. “Come on. You’re alright. I made him go away. Come on, Baby, I know you can do it. Calm down. You’re safe.”

Harry, though still crying, relaxed and turned so that he was press up against Draco’s chest. The blonde held Harry close, the boy’s head right under his chin and just lay there until Harry stopped crying. They were just sitting up when Narcissa came into the room to pick them up. The boys said nothing as she gathered them up and said her thanks and goodbyes to their teacher. The man watched them with suspicious and pitying eyes, but said nothing of Harry’s fits to Draco’s mother.

“How did it go?” Narcissa asked once they were safe inside Severus’ sitting room.

“Harry can’t go to the fighting class.” Draco told her. “It scares him. He just drops into a ball when the teacher tries to show him a move. He’s afraid of being hit.”

“I will let Severus decide if he is to continue or not.” Narcissa answered. Harry was blushing with mortification at her son’s side and she tried to make him feel better. “Harry, it is not your fault that you are afraid.” The boy nodded mutely, but didn’t relax or meet her eyes. Draco stood with a demanding expression, hands on hips, but she couldn’t give what her son wanted and say Harry didn’t have to go. With a sigh she said, “You have an hour before dinner. Why don’t you go wash up?”

Draco didn’t answer at first, but eventually backed down. “Come on, Harry.”

Narcissa frowned, “I want you two to take separate baths. You’re too old to take one together.”

Harry’s head came up and he looked at her with confusion, surprise, and unhappiness. Draco just looked angry; “No we’re not.”

“Don’t argue with me, Draco.” Narcissa warned.

“We’re taking a bath.” Draco glared and tugged at Harry’s hand to get the boy moving.

“Draco Malfoy!”

“No!” Draco yelled at her and ran for the bathroom. Harry now looked afraid, but raced after his friend.

Narcissa took two quick long steps, but wasn’t fast enough. The bathroom door slammed and she couldn’t open it. She could feel her son’s magic on it. She sighed and knew she wasn’t getting in. She went away to think of a suitable punishment for his behavior. In the bathroom, Harry was looking at his friend with wild eyes.

“Why is she mad?” He asked breathlessly.

“I don’t know.” Draco shrugged carelessly, his movements stiff with anger still. “Come on. Let’s take a bath.”

“Why did she think we’re too old?” Harry questioned as he pulled off his clothes. The blonde was doing the same.

“I don’t know.” Draco repeated. “She’s just being stupid.”

“Ray!” Harry scolded. “That’s your Mommy. You shouldn’t say that.”

Draco ignored him and turned the facet to get hot water to fill the tub. “Come on. You can be the red ship.”

“Okay!” Harry smiled, argument forgotten. Draco’s body relaxed as he watched Harry get happily into the bath and garb the large red boat. He took up the blue and they began to play, steam and laughter filling the air.


“Don’t, Severus.” She glared at him, already reading from his expression that he agreed with Draco about their baths. “They are seven now. They shouldn’t be bathing together. And they shouldn’t sleep together either. This is a critical time, for Harry as well. We need to encourage independence.”

Severus said nothing. Remus was standing silently by the fire while he and Narcissa sat on the couch. Dinner should be over, but the boys were still locked up in the bathroom playing. They could hear their laughter from here. He knew he had to be careful. Narcissa was already considering taking Draco away; he couldn’t keep opposing her views.

“Alright. They need to be more independent and modest.” Severus finally answered. “You told me Harry is not responding well with the martial arts lessons. That’s understandable. He’s skittish around strangers as it is, encouraging one to hit him might not be the best way to go. I agree he needs to be able to defend himself, however, so I purpose that after the tumbling lesson Remus will bring Harry back here to teach him self-defense. Draco will stay behind and take his defense lesson with their tumbling instructor. That will give the boys time apart and give Draco a chance to assert himself.”

“He will not bath with Harry.” Narcissa said, telling him that this wasn’t enough for her to back down from this point.

Severus sighed, “I will tell them they need to bath separately. But they will continue to sleep together.”

“Agreed.” Narcissa agreed. “I will see if the boys are ready for dinner.”

Remus waited for her to leave the room before coming to the Potion Master’s side. “Severus, I can’t take Harry. Tonight is the last night I can stay, remember? The full moon is in a week.”

Severus saw that the man was tired, but otherwise looked fine. There was no mistaking the sadness. If Remus held to the rule Severus had placed that he had to be gone the week before and after the moon, he’d miss Harry as an eight year old entirely. Now that he had come to know the man better, he realized that his demand might have been a bit extreme.

“You may stay until the day before the full moon and three days after.” Severus answered. “I will find someone else to watch over Harry the days you are not able to.”

“Thank you.” Remus said softly.

Draco was not a happy camper when Severus told him that he was not to bathe with Harry again. He wanted to protest, but Harry squeezed his hand under the table. He felt his baby’s insecurity and fear. Harry loved their Daddy, but was still unsure of Severus’ continued care. He didn’t want to push him. So Draco fell silent, but glared at the adults. He felt better when Severus told him that Harry wouldn’t be taking the fighting lessons, but was still unhappy with his mother when they went to bed that night.

The next morning Narcissa continued Draco’s lessons in politics, etiquette, and Malfoy family history. Harry took lessons with Remus. He learned different things every day. Some days Remus spent the few hours talking only about James, Lily, and Sirius. Others they focused on reading and math. Occasionally they even discussed magic theory. After lunch, Draco and Harry would floo to tumbling class. They stayed two hours and then Remus picked Harry up. An hour later, Draco was brought home by Narcissa. The boys would take separate baths, come to dinner, play with their Daddy for an hour or so, and were tucked into bed.

Severus was pleased with the way things were working out. Harry seemed more relaxed and his eyes less haunted. He was obviously still wounded in mind and spirit, but there was definite progress. As for Draco, he was the same as Severus remembered him being as a little boy. Maybe a little less selfish as he was always considering Harry, but that was an improvement in his opinion. Harry was getting better and compared to what his mindset could have been like without Draco, this was remarkable.

But Narcissa was not as satisfied. She didn’t like how much Harry consumed her son’s mind. Everything took second place to Harry’s needs, though she had to admit that Harry rarely asked for anything. And that was another thing that was bothering her. Harry rarely spoke. Draco spoke for him. Always saying “Harry wants… We want… Harry doesn’t like… We like…” and so on. She was glad that he seemed to have stopped calling the smaller boy Baby except for in private, but this joint will was not a good thing. It wasn’t healthy.

It was Thursday morning. Harry woke first and grinned. He pounced on his best friend and began tickling him mercilessly. Draco yelled with laughter and easily reversed their positions so that Harry was on the bottom being tickled. When neither could breathe, they stopped and sat up. Their hair was tangled and sticking up every which way. Harry laughed again as Draco tried to comb out his long hair with his fingers. The blonde stuck his tongue out playfully.

“Come on. I’m hungry.” Draco said happily as he jumped from the bed and went to the clothes cupboard.

Harry giggled, “Your Mom’s going to be so mad at your hair.”

“Then fix it.” Draco shrugged.

Harry obediently got up and went to his friend, running his hands through the white, silky strands. Magic swirled out from his fingers and as he brought his small hands down, Draco’s hair untangled and lay in a shimmering, smooth sheet down to the middle of his back. Draco smiled at him over his shoulder and handed him clothes. Harry put them on, not really caring what his best friend picked out for him and followed Draco to the kitchen.

“Good morning!” Draco shouted and ignored his mother’s frown. “We want toast with strawberry jam.”

“What do you want, Harry?” Narcissa asked, ignoring her son in turn.

“What Draco said is fine.” The small boy smiled and got quietly into his seat.

“I’m hungry, Mommy.” Draco whined impatiently.

Narcissa said nothing as she fixed the boys’ toast. Casual conversation went around the table until Severus rose to go to work. He lifted Harry into his arms and the boy hugged his neck tight. Severus smiled and put him back down, waving once at the blonde yelling for him to have a good day.

“Come, Draco.” Narcissa stood. “We have work to do.”

“Yes, Mother.” Draco kissed Harry’s cheek and followed his mother out of the room.

Harry turned to Remus and the werewolf easily lifted him into his arms, “What do you want to learn today?” He asked as he carried the green-eyed boy into the playroom.

“Where are you going?” Draco asked with a frown as his mother started a fire and got out floo powder. They usually had lessons on the couch. They only flooed to their tumbling lesson and it was too early for that.

“I’ve decided to have your lessons somewhere else. Come, Draco.” She answered and gestured once with a slender hand for him to come to her side. But Draco had a bad feeling about this and took a step back.

“Why? What about Harry?”

“I won’t ask again, Draconis.” Narcissa narrowed her eyes.

“What about Harry!” Draco demanded again, this time raising his voice.

“Stupefy.” She whispered and watched her son crumple to the ground. “I’m sorry, Dragon. But this must be done.” She lifted her young son into her arms and carried him to the floo. They disappeared together in a flash of green fire. Harry came running into the room, having felt something was horribly wrong when Draco was spelled unconscious. When he saw the empty room, he ran around screaming for Ray. Remus followed him and said nothing. When Harry had searched every room three times at least, he finally collapsed next to the fireplace, crying. Remus tried to hold him, but was shoved away hard.

“I want Ray!” Harry wailed miserably. “He promised! He PROMISED never to leave me!”

Remus sat helplessly and just waited. After four hours, Harry finally fell into an exhausted sleep and he was able to carry the boy to bed. Severus was not pleased when he got home. His black eyes flashed with fury and he stormed from the room to go in search of Narcissa, but her tracks were covered and he was not able to find even a clue as to their new location. He came back to his quarters a short while after everyone else had dinner empty-handed.

Harry was sitting by the fireplace with his knees drawn up to his chest and his dull green eyes staring into the fire. Severus felt his heart clench at the sight and silently made his way over to the boy. He sat down next to him, but Harry made no move or sound to recognize him. Severus sighed and draped an arm across Harry’s small shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Harry.” He said softly. “But Draco wouldn’t want to see you so upset. He’ll be back and until then we’ll have to look out for each other without him.”

“Why did she take him away?” Harry asked in a whisper. “Did I do something wrong? Didn’t she want Draco to be with me? Am I bad?”

“No, Harry.” Severus said fiercely, hating Narcissa in that moment. He pulled Harry into his lap and began to rock him. “You are not bad. It wasn’t because of you that she took Draco away. She wants Draco to be strong and a leader for his family. She thought he wasn’t learning enough here, but that had nothing to do with you.”

“Why doesn’t she like me? Why did my Uncle hate me?” Harry asked as tears poured down his cheeks. “What have I done wrong?”

“Harry, I told you it wasn’t you. Mrs. Malfoy does like you. She just made a mistake, that is all.” Severus promised. He tilted Harry’s face up to make sure the boy was listening. “As for your family, they hated you because of what you stood for. You were everything they could not be; beautiful, powerful, and special. That is why they were angry with you. They were jealous. Do you know what that means?”

“Yes.” Harry nodded, clutching to Severus’ shirt. His eyes betrayed his desperation to believe what Severus was saying and that Harry couldn’t quite do it. “I was sometimes jealous of Dudley. I just wanted to be noticed and l-loved like was. And Ray loves me, but he was taken away. I don’t want him to go, Daddy! I do anything, please! Please bring Ray back!”

“Harry, I’ll do everything I can, but I can’t find her.” Severus cradled the boy’s head to his shoulder as Harry wept. “But Draco isn’t the only one who cares. Remus and I are still here and we aren’t going anywhere.”

“Ray said that too.” Harry murmured sadly as he fell asleep.

“Damn you, Narcissa.” Severus said quietly as he looked down into Harry’s pale, drawn face. More than anything he wanted to ease the child’s pain, but he couldn’t. And he hated that feeling. “Damn you.”

“What is it, Weasley?” Vincent asked as Ron came into the dark, abandoned classroom. Greg was standing at his side.

“Malfoy’s gone.” Ron answered. “Since this morning. Harry and Malfoy usually leave in the afternoon for a few hours, but never separately. I thought he’d come back, but he hasn’t. I don’t think they will either. I think Dumbledore has finally separated the two.”

Vincent looked over the map and saw that Ron was telling the truth. Neither Narcissa nor Draco were in Severus’ rooms. Harry was sleeping alone in his bed. Greg shared a worried look with his best friend. Now that Draco wasn’t in Hogwarts they couldn’t watch him. It made them very nervous. What if something had gone wrong with his condition and that’s why he was moved out and away from The-Boy-Who-Lived.

“Why now? Why separate them now? Do you think something’s wrong with Draco?” Greg asked as he looked up at Ron.

“I don’t know.” Ron frowned. “It’s suspicious. I mean, they’ve been together for almost a month. Something must have changed for them to remove Malfoy.”

“Will you let us know if he comes back?” Vincent asked softly and smiled gratefully when Ron eventually nodded. “Thanks, Weasley. We really appreciate it.”

“No problem.” Ron muttered and left them.

“This is so frustrating!” Pansy growled as she set up the scrying bowl. “We don’t know what’s going on!”

“But what else can we do?” Greg asked. He was lighting the candles sitting in a circle on the floor around the bowl.

“Nothing.” Vincent answered. “Let’s just hope we can figure out where Draco is from the background of the picture.”

“Let’s do this.” Pansy got into position. The boys sat across from her as she began to say the activating spell.

The water in the bowl remained clear. But once Pansy fell silent, the surface began to ripple. They watched, eyes pinned to the water. Slowly the ripples stopped and in the water’s reflection that saw Draco. He was young, about seven. His eyes were closed and he was sleeping peacefully in a small room. The bed looked like a normal twin and the comforter was an expensive quilt.

Suddenly, the blonde’s face scrunched up. He looked uncomfortable, but that quickly became distress. The boy jerked away and looked frantically about the room, but it was empty. Pansy watched in horror as he best friend brought his knees to his chest and hugged himself, rocking on the bed as tears slid slowly down his pale cheeks.

Harry woke up screaming from a nightmare. His heart was racing and monsters lurked in the shadows of his room. It was too big. Things could get to him. He screamed again, seeing monsters with claws reaching for him. Severus burst into the room and ran to the terrified child. Harry thrashed in his arms, but eventually stilled when he recognized his Dad.

“It’s alright, Harry.” Severus promised, holding him. “It was just a dream. I’m here.”

“Daddy…” Harry whimpered. “…make them go away…”

“Who?” He asked, brushing Harry’s hair away from his sweaty face.

“The monsters.” Harry said pitifully. “Don’t let them hurt me.”

“I won’t.” Severus promised, cradling the crying child to his bare chest. His shoulder-length hair was tucked sloppily behind his ears. He carefully lifted Harry, knowing he wouldn’t be able to sleep in here, and carried him back to his room. The boy huddled in the black sheets of his king sized bed and curled up next to him when he lay down.

Harry eventually fell asleep, but woke once more from a nightmare that he couldn’t remember once he woke. Severus held him until he fell back asleep. He lay there, staring at his ceiling and wondered how it came to this. There was a child (the child of his enemy no less!) asleep at his side, in his bed. What was more unbelievable was his arm was draped over the child protectively and the only things in his mind were plots to return peace to his child’s mind and heart. He could hardly believe the possessive, protective feelings that were rising in him like a flood. Not even his Slytherins had made him feel the way he did now. What was he going to do?

It was the end of Friday. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville made their way to the headmaster’s office as they did every Friday to hear a report on Harry’s progress. Ron wasn’t surprised when Dumbledore didn’t mention Draco’s disappearance. In fact, Ron even suspected that Dumbledore didn’t know himself what had happened. And that made him mad. Harry should never have been left in Snape’s care! Who knew what else that Slytherin had done that the headmaster didn’t know about? But what could he do? If he came forward now, he’d have to explain why he hadn’t revealed he had the map earlier (not to mention explaining how he got it in the first place!), but Harry could be in trouble and he was the only one who knew enough to help him.

Ron lifted his head and got everyone’s attention, “Do you know about Malfoy, Professor? He’s not with Harry anymore. I just wanted to know why?”

Dumbledore looked over at the young Gryffindor, “How do you know this? I am unaware of Mr. Malfoy’s absence.”

“I have the Marauder’s Map, sir.” Ron admitted. “Malfoy hasn’t been in the castle since yesterday morning. He’s never been separated from Harry that long and I’m worried.”

“Ron!” Ginny cried, astonished. “Why didn’t you tell us?”

“You already knew where Harry was.” Ron countered with a glare. “I didn’t see the point of telling you I found the map.”

“And where did you find it, Mr. Weasley?” Dumbledore asked.

Ron went red, “I found a complex summoning spell in the library. I used it to call the map to me. I was as surprised as anyone when it actually worked.”

“Yes, well…” Dumbledore chuckled. “Greater need can strengthen a spell.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell us.” Hermione muttered, brown eyes hurt.

“We weren’t talking at the time, remember?” He snapped and Hermione fell silent. So did the others.

“Very well. I will inquire about Mr. Malfoy.” Dumbledore told them. “Come back tomorrow afternoon.”

“Thank you, Headmaster.” Neville said since none of the others looked like they would.

“You are welcome.” Dumbledore answered and shooed the students from the room.

Harry silently reached for Severus when the Potion Master entered his quarters. Severus lifted the child and Harry laid his head on his shoulder, ignoring the smell coming from his black robes. Remus stood in the doorway to the kitchen with sad, tired eyes. Severus gestured with his chin that he should come and sit on the couch.

“How was he today?”

“He hasn’t spoken once.” Remus answered. He took the seat across from Severus so the man could see him easily. Severus tightened his hold and Remus smiled.

“Has he eaten?”

“Yes, but not as much as he normally would. He did his lessons, but only would write out his answers. He let me take him to his tumbling lesson, but as soon as he was sure Draco wouldn’t show up, he wanted to come home. I brought him back and made excuses to his teacher.”

“That’s fine.” Severus looked down at Harry, but the boy had his face hidden against his neck. He rubbed soothing circles on his back, but tensed when the fire flared. Harry’s head shot up and he looked at it with bright, hoping eyes. He crumpled back against Severus’ chest again when he realized it was just Dumbledore.

“Severus, my boy, what has happened?” Dumbledore asked as he came to sit next to Remus. The werewolf made room for him easily, but said nothing.

“Narcissa has taken Draco. She didn’t feel he was learning enough in this environment, especially considering the duties he will have to take up soon as Lord of the Malfoy family.”

“I see.” Dumbledore’s eyes rested on the back of Harry’s head. “How is he taking it?”

“Poorly.” Severus answered evenly, but the hard glint in his eye told Dumbledore all he needed to know.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“I was hoping she would be back by now. How did you come to hear of it? I was planning on coming to you once Harry was put to bed.”

“I have my ways.” Dumbledore twinkled at him with a smile. Severus grimaced at him and he quickly changed the subject. “I will help you in your search.”

“That may not be the best idea.” Severus answered reluctantly. “We don’t want to lead anyone to them.”

“I understand, my boy.” Dumbledore stood. “I hope you feel better soon, Harry. If any of you need anything, you know where to find me.”

Draco glared out the window to his room. He had dark circles under his eyes and he was hungry. He had slept poorly and when the sun finally came up, went in search of his mother. He knew what had happened. She had taken him away and he was furious. He could still feel Harry, but he instinctively knew his baby was very far away. His insides curled with dread at the feeling, but his mother wouldn’t listen.

He had screamed, demanded, ordered, and eventually begged to be taken back to his Dad and Harry, but his mother wouldn’t do it. So he had locked himself in his room, refusing to eat or do his lessons. Narcissa had let him saying he would only get to see Harry again when he did well in his classes.

He sighed again as he stared out into the night. He had no idea where he was. He only vaguely knew where Hogwarts was. There was no way he was getting back to Harry on his own. The only thing left was to do as his mother said and hope she would take him back. His eyes hardened. She would have to. He would act the perfect son and Lord and she would have to keep her promise, but he wouldn’t let her take him away again. He wouldn’t. Once he was back with Harry, he’d banish her. He’d never forgive her for what she had done.

He lifted a hand to his chest and his fingers curled tightly into the fabric, almost ripping it. Harry’s devastated pain ached right there and he would make it go away. He’d make Harry feel better again. “I’m coming, Baby. Just wait a little bit longer. I’m coming.” He promised and finally went to his bed. Tomorrow the games would start and he would beat his mother. Not even she would stop him from getting what he wanted. He was Lord Malfoy after all, and no one denies a Malfoy.

Saturday and Sunday passed slowly. Harry remained mute, but he smiled and played sedately with his Dad. Severus never left his side and every night allowed Harry to sleep with him. It didn’t stop the boy’s nightmares, but it did soften their effects once he woke. Remus wasn’t there to help; he left on Friday to prepare for the full moon on Saturday night, and wouldn’t be back until Monday. But that was okay; Harry only wanted his Dad.

Draco was having an even harder time of it since he had no one to comfort him or confide in. He acted sullen, but willing to his mother’s wishes. He was obedient, cold, and polite. He excelled as his work, driving himself to accomplish everything perfectly even though he was tired and angry. He woke every night when Harry did and it took all his control to hide how he really felt about his mother, but he did it. He could see his mother’s approval and pride growing. He hoped he wouldn’t have to wait much longer.

Midnight slowly approached and Severus watched Harry worriedly. What was going to happen when the boys aged a year and were separated? He couldn’t believe Narcissa was risking this. Draco could be hurt as much as Harry from this. His hands roamed until he felt the shape of the potions he had hidden in his pockets. There were a variety there, but he wanted to be sure he had everything Harry might need if there were problems.

The clock began to chime and Harry arched off the bed, his body rigid. That was all Severus saw before he was thrown across the room and slammed into a wall. He collapsed unconscious. Draco mirrored Harry, hundreds of miles away. Magic whipped around them, filled their rooms as a year was returned to their bodies and minds.

Chapter Fifteen

Severus was pulled from unconsciousness to the sound of weak, pained whimpers. He pulled himself upright and staggered to the bed. Harry was lying prone. His eyes were open and drenched with tears. His body spasmed as he watched and another whimper escaped. Severus rushed to the boy’s side and gently touched his head. Harry cried out at the contact; everything hurt!

“It’ll be alright, Harry.” Severus promised. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to get you potions to make you feel better.”

He turned and ran from the room. He knew what was wrong. Without Draco there, the transformation was less smooth, causing muscle strain and cramps as Harry’s body was forced to age at a rapid pace. Luckily he had potions on hand to help with that. He opened his cupboard and found the vials he needed and hurried back to his suffering child.

“Here, Harry. Take these.”

The boy was crying and gasping, but manage to open his mouth. Severus poured the potions in and helped him swallow by rubbing gently at the clenched throat. As soon as the potions were ingested, Harry relaxed and let out a pained sigh. Severus stroked his hair and murmured softly that it was alright, that it was over.

It took a good fifteen minutes before Harry felt well enough to lift his arms, asking to be held. Severus complied instantly and scooped him up. Harry lay his head down on his shoulder and wrapped his arms around his Dad’s neck and his legs around Severus’ waist. “Let’s get you to Madam Pomfrey.” Severus said and strode from the room. He knew the floo would aggravate Harry’s still aching body, so he entered the castle corridors. Harry didn’t speak, but at least he had stopped crying.

“You’re late.” Pomfrey scolded when Severus entered the Hospital Wing.

“He had a hard time of it.” Severus told her.

She nodded knowingly and gestured for Severus to lay the boy out on the bed. He did so, but Harry wouldn’t release his hand. The boy clutched at it and hid his face against his Dad’s forearm. Pomfrey talked softly so as not to frighten the boy more and quickly ran her tests. She tisked at the damage she found and began to cast healing charms to finish the job the potions had started.

“There.” She said with satisfaction a good half hour later. “He should feel good as new, though I am still worried about his weight and height. He’s still well below average. He’s only grown two inches and is only two and a half pounds heavier.”

“If he’s mimicking his growth and weight of when he was this age there may be nothing we can do about it.” Severus said as he picked Harry up again. “Are you feeling better, Harry?”

The boy nodded, his wild black hair tickling Severus’ neck.

“Tell Madam Pomfrey thank you.” He ordered.

Harry lifted his head and waved with a shy smile. Pomfrey accepted the gesture as enough, “You’re quite welcome, Harry. If you need anything else, don’t be afraid to come to me. Now here’s your treat for being such a good boy.”

Harry accepted the chocolate, but didn’t eat it. Severus inclined his head and went to her office to floo back to his rooms. Remus was lying on the couch and looked much worse for wear. The werewolf smiled at them, though his eyes were shadowed with pain. Harry gasped and wiggled until Severus put him down. The boy immediately ran over to the werewolf’s side.

“You’re hurt.” Harry said softly, eyes bright behind his glasses with worry.

“Your dad will patch me up.” Remus assured the boy and ruffled his hair.

“Why don’t you order us breakfast, Harry, while I tend to Remus?”

Harry nodded and ran to the kitchen. Severus went to his lab and returned shortly with several potions, all of which Remus drank quickly while Severus told him about Harry’s morning. Remus put the last vial down and his eyes were cloudy with concern. “Draco must have gone through the same. Do you think Narcissa…”

“She would get him medical attention.” Severus brushed off that worry. “But we need to find them.”

Remus nodded and made to get up, but fell back limply. His amber eyes fell on the Potion Master full of suspicion. Severus smiled darkly, “Yes, you just ingested a mild sleeping draught. You will feel better when you wake.” Remus growled, but was asleep before he could say anything.

“Dad, breakfast is ready.” Harry said from the doorway. Severus nodded and went to eat.

They were halfway through the meal before Harry spoke again. “If Moony is sleeping, who will watch me?”

“You are eight years old now. I’m sure you will be fine on your own for a couple hours. Remus will wake before lunch.”

“Okay.” Harry smiled gratefully at not being given to a stranger.

“If you need anything, you know how to use the floo. Just call ‘Potions classroom’.”

“Yes, Dad.”

Severus swished his wand and summoned books to him. They were introductions to the four main subjects Hogwarts offered: Potions, Defense, Charms, and Transfiguration. “Start studying these while you wait for Remus.”

“I will.” Harry promised and took the books. “Have a good day.”

Severus nodded and stood. He was just at the door when Harry’s voice came to him. It was small and very sad. “Dad, when will Ray come back?”

“I don’t know. We’re still looking for him.” Severus said and left him with the sleeping Wolf.

Harry studied the books by the fireplace. He didn’t want to leave it in case Ray came back. Remus slept for hours and Harry got hungry so he went to the kitchen and ordered lunch. Ray had taught him that if you stood in the kitchen and called for an elf one would appear. He did so and placed his order. He sat silently at the table alone, his eyes staring at the chair Ray would have sat in.

A huge ache rose in his chest. Ray had promised to stay with him and never leave. Harry knew it wasn’t Ray’s fault that he was stolen away by Mrs. Malfoy. Mrs. Malfoy took him away because Harry was a worthless freak. The voices of the Dursleys rose in his mind, taunting and teasing him. His new Dad told him that he was good, but what if he was wrong? What if he just hasn’t seen the badness in him yet? Maybe Mrs. Malfoy had finally seen it.

The food appeared and Harry ate half of it mechanically. He understood now. Yes, he finally got it. He was a worthless freak and he didn’t deserve to be loved. Ray was taken away for his own good. And his Dad would leave too once he saw the truth. He’d be alone again. Maybe even sent back to the Dursleys where he belonged, where he would be punished.

Harry shook his head as tears spilled down his pale face. He didn’t want to believe it, but couldn’t pretend any longer. He shoved out of his chair and ran into his room to hide under the bed. He cried silently wishing his Dad would get it over with and send him away, wishing he’d come home and reassure him. He was so confused, it hurt!

Draco screamed and threw the glass orb by his bed against the wall. It shattered. He clutched at his chest and clenched his eyes shut to push away the tears. Harry needed him! He could feel it! And his mother wouldn’t take him back until he learned all his lessons perfectly! He strode to the book shelf and grabbed the books there. He had to hurry up!

“Hold on, Baby. I’m coming back. I promise I’m coming back.” He whispered and began to memorize the books on his family history and politics.

Severus came back to his quarters after dinner and frowned when he saw Remus still asleep on the couch. “Harry!” He called, but got no answer. Heart in his throat, he hurried through the kitchen and into the playroom. Harry wasn’t there. He ran to the bedroom next, but again he couldn’t find the eight year old. He checked every room and still no sign of the boy.

“Severus?” Remus asked groggily, woken by Severus rushing toward the fire.

“How long have you been asleep?” The Potions Master demanded, spinning around to face him.

“I don’t know.” Remus frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t find Harry.”

“What!” Remus jumped to his feet and took a few sniffs of the air. Severus sneered at him in disgust, but he ignored it. “He’s here.”

Severus followed the werewolf silently and frowned when he led him to the boys’ bedroom. “I already looked in there.” He snapped impatiently.

Remus opened the door and walked in. He sniffed once and then got on his hands and knees, “Harry? Come out.”

The boy crawled out reluctantly and stood before them, head bowed submissively. Severus felt his anger drain away when he saw the posture. Something had happened to erase most of the progress they had made with Harry. He knew it had to be due mostly to Draco’s absence, but Harry had been coping better than this when he left this morning to teach class.

“Harry? Why didn’t you come out when I called?” He asked softly.

Harry shook his head mutely.

“What’s the matter, pup? Are you hurt?” Remus reached out to him and Harry flinched back. Remus pulled back his hand sorrowfully.

“Have you eaten?” Severus asked, testing the child. His suspicions were proven correct when Harry remained silent. “Harry…” He knelt and reached slowly for the boy. Green eyes met his and filled with tears as Harry was pulled forward into a hug. The boy clung to Severus, but still would not speak. “It’s alright. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. Come. Let’s all eat together.”

Narcissa came into her son’s room to tuck him in. Draco was sitting on his bed with books all around him. She sighed. She had been scared to death when he woke up that morning in severe pain. Not even the healer’s reassurance that he was fine made her feel better so she canceled all her son’s lessons for the day so he could rest. She had not been happy to find him studying intently and he still hadn’t stopped. At least he was eating.

“Yes, Mother?” Draco asked, his face blank.

She sighed. Draco had been absolutely polite to her since she had taken him away. He followed all the pureblood etiquettes to the letter and that hurt. She missed his smiles; missed seeing his eyes heat up with love and temper. She wanted her son to forgive her, but that was not going to happen anytime soon. But she didn’t regret what she had done. She would do whatever was necessary to protect her son. And allowing him to have an unhealthy attachment and obsession for the boy who lived was definitely unacceptable.

“Mother?” Draco said again, impatience creeping into his voice.

“It’s time for bed, Draco.” She said evenly.

He nodded once, “As soon as I finish this, I will go to bed.”

“Now.” She said firmly.

“No.” He answered casually and turned his eyes back to the book. “If that is all?”

“Yes, Draco. That is all.” Narcissa said tiredly and left her only son to his studies.

Three days passed and Harry never spoke a word and flinched when anyone touched him. Severus and Remus did all they could to help the boy, but without knowing what was wrong it was impossible. Severus was so desperate he resorted to trying Legimency, but Harry’s powerful magic ejected him immediately. The boy seemed to have been unconscious of the mental invasion and Severus was glad for that. He didn’t think he could stand Harry pulling even more away from him.

Draco was having a hard time as well. It took all his strength to focus when Harry’s pain was constantly washing over him, but he remained cold and got his work done. Narcissa was falling into despair as her son’s anger refused to shrink. Eventually, she had no choice but to keep her promise. Draco had done all his lessons perfectly and was much further ahead than when he had been eight the first time. Narcissa surrendered and told Draco she’d take him to visit his Dad and Harry tomorrow.

Harry was eating breakfast when he heard the fire flare in the next room. He dropped his fork and ran. He had just entered the sitting room when Draco crashed into him, laughing. They fell to the floor in a tangle of legs. Harry was shocked as he felt his best friend holding him tight. He could hardly breathe and it had nothing to do with the arms wrapped around him. He was happy, confused, and sad. He loved Draco and really missed him. But he knew he didn’t deserve to be happy and that Draco would only leave him again.

“Don’t cry, Baby.” Draco soothed as he sat, pulling Harry against his chest. He rocked the smaller boy slowly. “I’m here now.”

Harry lifted his head from Draco shoulder, feeling guilty at how much he wanted the blonde to stay with him. He looked up at Mrs. Malfoy, he knew she had seen the truth about him. The displeasure on her face as she looked back confirmed it. She didn’t want her son tainted.

“Mother. Why don’t you go and talk with Moony?” Draco asked in a cold voice.

“Yes.” Remus shook himself from his shock. “Boys, why don’t you go play in the playroom?”

Draco nodded reluctantly. He had a plan and in order for it to work he had to be alone in the sitting room. Well, he figured he’d just have to be patient. “Come on, Harry.”

He stood and tugged Harry after him by the hand. The smaller boy followed with his head bowed submissively. They entered the play room and Draco spun around to grab Harry by the shoulders.

“Baby, look at me.” Harry didn’t so he took his hands from his shoulders and placed them gently on Harry’s jaw, lifting his face. “I didn’t want to leave you. Mother, took me away. She tricked me. But I’m back now and I won’t ever leave again. I’ll make sure of it.”

“You should go.” Harry said hoarsely. It had been days since he had spoken. His green eyes were filled with a deep sorrow and Draco’s breathing got tight as he felt his friend’s pain. “You shouldn’t be around me, Ray. You’re mother’s right.”

“Harry… Baby…” Draco stared at the tearful emerald pools before him and he fought against his own tears. “I love you. We’re best friends. Being away from you isn’t good at all. It makes me sad and it hurts really bad. Do you really want me to hurt? Don’t you like me with you anymore? I said I was sorry.”

“No!” Harry threw his arms around the blonde and began to cry. “No, Ray! That’s not it at all! There’s something wrong with me and if you stay you’ll only go bad too. Everyone leaves me, Ray. My parents and then the Dursleys and then you. It’s how it should be. I don’t deserve to be happy.”

“That’s not true at all!” Draco pulled away and shoved Harry to the ground. His eyes were bright with rage. “I thought you realized that the Dursleys were a bunch of big, fat liars! That they hurt you no matter what you did and it wasn’t right!”

“I don’t know.” Harry shook his head helplessly. “It’s not fair that they punish me even if I do what they ask, but… But maybe they don’t need a reason. Maybe I need to be punished because… because I’m bad. Not cause of what I do, but what… what I am.”

“That’s stupid, Harry!” Draco spat. “You’re smarter than that!” His anger drained away as Harry curled into a ball and began to cry. He felt confusion and hopeless pain. He hadn’t meant to hurt Harry more. He knelt and pulled Harry back into a gentle hug. “I’m sorry I left you. That was wrong. I won’t let it happen again, okay? We’ll make this better together.”

“I love you, Ray.” Harry smiled and held back tight. “I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too.” Draco grinned. “Now let’s play!”

Harry smiled and followed his friend to the toy chest.

Severus stepped into his rooms with a cold, blank face. He had been struck speechless when Remus fire-called him to tell him Narcissa had returned with Draco. He had dismissed his class and walked back to his rooms to give himself time to think. As much as he wanted to lash out at the woman and bruise her face, he needed to make sure she stayed.

“Severus.” Remus said solemnly as he entered. He was sitting on the couch next to Narcissa, who didn’t so much as incline her head at his appearance.

“Remus.” Severus answered coolly and turned hard eyes on his friend. “Narcissa.”

“Harry and Draco are playing in their playroom. Maybe I should go check on them?” Remus offered.

“Yes. Please do.” Severus smiled silkily.

Remus needed no further encouragement and hurried from the room. Severus stared at Narcissa. The woman stared back. Neither spoke for several long minutes. Severus broke their eye contact first and went to the cabinet where he had brandy and glasses. He poured two and took them over to his friend. Narcissa accepted the drink, but didn’t lift it to her lips. Severus smirked; was she afraid he’d poison her?

“How are Draco’s lessons progressing?” He asked casually.

“Very well.” Narcissa answered easily.

“I am glad.” He took a sip. “May I ask why you left with your son?”

“You know why.” Narcissa glared icily. “He’s obsessed with that boy. It’s unhealthy and he was going into habits that are unbecoming of the Lord Malfoy.”

“And he has improved?” Severus asked with a sneer. Narcissa said nothing and that told him he was right in believing Draco had not gotten better by isolating him from Harry. The sound of Draco chatting happily and Harry’s giggles reached their ears. Remus shouted breakfast orders and the sound of utensils on plates interrupted the happy conversation. “Would you care to join them?” Severus asked the woman across from him.

“No.” Narcissa said shortly and took a large mouthful of her drink. She knew that if she went to sit with them, the happy atmosphere would disappear.

“Narcissa…” Severus began.

“No, Severus.” She set the drink down hard. “It is difficult for him. And that is my fault. I shouldn’t have let you talk me into allowing Draco to stay. That boy in there is bending my sons mind, turning him into a slave. I won’t change my mind. He may stay the night, we will leave tomorrow morning.”

“Narcissa, you’re being stupid.” Severus said in a soft tone. “Draco is not a slave. Nor does he think like one. Nothing has changed in your son except that he cares deeply for his friend. That kind of care is not a weakness, but a strength.”

“It’s a vulnerability.” She snapped.

“They need each other. They support each other.” Severus corrected.

“Not true.” She smiled grimly. “Harry needs Draco, not the other way around. Harry does nothing, but distracts and weakens Draco. For my son, the world revolves around that boy. It’s wrong, Severus. I won’t allow my son to be used or tamed. And that’s what you’ve done. He will come to accept Harry’s absence in his life. It will just take time.”

“You are making a mistake and destroying both of those boys.” Severus spat hatefully. “I never thought you unintelligent and willfully blind, Narcissa. Open your eyes.”

“They are open.” She said coldly. “I see what you are doing, my old friend.”

“What’s that?” He snapped.

“You are sacrificing my son for Harry. And while I can understand the strength of the love a parent has for their child, I won’t allow you to break Draco just so Harry survives. Horrible things happened to him. It shouldn’t have, but we can’t change the past. Harry’s dead, Severus. You are just prolonging his death and hurting yourself in the process. I won’t allow Draco to be pulled under as well.”

“Get out.” Severus stood. Darkness seemed to roll off of him in his rage. “Now, Narcissa.”

“No. I will not leave my son.” She answered calmly. “If you truly wish me gone, I will take Draco with me. You don’t want to cut Harry’s visit with his friend short, do you?”

Their glasses exploded and the spy for Voldemort said in a voice that sent terror running through her, “You will regret this.” He turned and strode from his quarters, slamming the door behind him. Narcissa took a shaky breath and folded her cold hands in her lap. She knew she had gone too far by predicting Harry’s death, but it was the truth.

The boy was raped. Her eyes closed in horror at the mere thought. She wasn’t unsympathetic, but there was nothing she or anyone else could do. There was no recovering from such violation or torment. Harry’s life had been taken and if she didn’t do something Draco would die along side of the Boy-Who-Once-Lived.

“Dad!” Draco yelled and ran to Severus who just walked into the kitchen.

Severus placed his hands around the boy’s shoulders and pressed him to his chest. The boy’s head was about four or five inches above his waist, much taller than Harry. “Hello, Draco.”

“What are we having for dinner?” He grinned up at the man. “Something special to celebrate my return?”

“Of course.” Severus sniffed and pushed the boy back to his seat by Harry. “I’ve already had a word with the elves.”

Draco laughed and Harry’s lips turned up into a soft smile. Severus felt relief and happiness rush through him at the expression on the smaller boy. It had been too long since Harry looked so relaxed and cheerful. He looked to Narcissa to see if this improvement in both boys would soften her decision, but she sitting silently by Remus, ignoring everyone around her as much as they were ignoring her.

Severus took his seat and listened to the boys talk happily about some game Draco made. Harry’s voice was returned to them and Severus felt himself harden with resolve. He couldn’t let Narcissa take her son away. Remus caught his gaze and told him he agreed and would help. Severus nodded once.

“You ready?” Draco whispered.

“Yeah.” Harry answered squinting hard at the orb by their bed. “I think so.”

It had been his job to make sure the alarms on their room to tell Severus and Narcissa if they were awake were no longer working. Harry had been reading into magical theory, but had not practical experience to draw from. He just hoped wishing really hard, like he had to get Draco desert, would work. The blonde nodded at him and opened their door. The hall was silent. Everyone was in bed asleep. The trick was going to be getting past Remus, who was on the sitting room couch.

Draco crept slowly across the kitchen and hesitated in the doorway. Harry clutched at his shirt at the small of his back and Draco felt his nerves disappear. He could do this. For Harry. He felt a smile twist his lips, glad his best friend trusted him enough to go along with his plan. It had taken a little bit of convincing because Harry didn’t want to leave their Dad, but Draco promised they would see Severus again soon. They just had to get away from his mother, then they could have their Dad come and get them and help hide them away from her.

“Wish him to sleep.” He whispered and Harry obediently scrunched his face up in concentration. Draco laughed quietly, thinking Harry looked silly like that. The green-eyed boy stuck his tongue out at his friend, grinning back. Draco grabbed his hand, “Alright. Let’s go.”

“Why do you think Draco’s back?” Goyle asked after hearing from Ron the news.

“I don’t now.” The redheaded Gryffindor shrugged. He went to clear the map, but Crabbe stopped him.

“Wait! Look!”

“What are they doing?” Goyle frowned as he watched the two dots creep out of the bedroom, across the kitchen, and then slowly across the sitting room.

“Looks like they’re leaving Snape’s rooms.” Crabbe was shocked. That was dangerous.

“Maybe they're hungry.” Ron shook his head with a smile. “I’m not surprised that their troublemakers even at this age.”

“Come on! We have to get to them.” Goyle was already moving to the door. “It’s dangerous for them to be walking around. Who knows who will see or what they’ll do.”

“Yeah.” Ron hurried after him. “And no one is supposed to know Harry’s shrunk too.”

“He’s not shrunk, just younger.” Crabbe pointed out.

“Whatever!” Ron rolled his eyes. “Go faster, you big oaf!”

“Are you sure you know where we are?” Harry asked softly. There was no worry in his voice. Just curiosity. Fear couldn’t touch him as long as the blonde was holding his hand.

“I think so. It’s so dark!” Draco puffed his hair out of his face and glared at the corridor. He was sure this was the way to the Entrance Hall! Harry giggled at him and brought up his hands, tangling his fingers in the long blond strands. The hair became smooth and brushed, then slowly wrapped in a loose, simple braid. Draco smiled sweetly and captured Harry’s hand again, “Thanks.”

Harry opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out as his green eyes looked over Draco’s head and widened with fear. Draco spun around, tugging his smaller friend behind him. Large shadows loomed before them and he opened his mouth to scream, but he was so afraid that his throat had closed in on itself.

“Draco!” A deep voice called. “Are you alright? What are you doing out here?”

A tall, muscular blonde came into the light of the torch that hung above his and Harry’s head. Draco relaxed, recognizing him. He was one of the Slytherins he had met to reassure them he was okay. And one of the ones that seemed so familiar and safe to him. “You scared me! Make some noise next time!” He snapped at the older, bigger boy.

But his smaller size didn’t seem to hinder his ability to cow the Slytherin. The blonde stilled and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, Draco.”

“Harry!” Ron came up and knelt before Draco, his attention on the smaller boy hiding behind his back. “Are you okay? Why did you leave Snape’s rooms?” He reached for his friend, to see him, but Harry flinched away and whimpered.

“Leave him alone!” Draco ordered sharply and then sneered. “Obviously he doesn’t want you to touch him.”

Ron scowled and opened his mouth, but Crabbe put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. That would have pissed the redhead off more except he could tell the Slytherin didn’t mean it as an order. It was just advice. Grumbling, he stood and allowed the Slytherins to talk to their Prince, but his eyes never left Harry.

“What are you doing, Draco?” Crabbe asked.

“Escaping. My mother is being difficult. We’re going to hide away and then let only Dad know where we are. Maybe Moony too. You’ll help us by getting us to the Entrance Hall and then you’ll tell no one you saw us.”

“Dad?” Ron snorted in laughter. Crabbe and Goyle ignored him.

“It’s dangerous…” Goyle began.

“We’ll be careful.” Draco shrugged. “I have to do something or else she’ll take me from Harry again.”

“I’m surprise you care so much, Malfoy.” Ron glared at the child.

“Who are you?” Draco asked icily. “What are you doing here? It’s obvious no one wants you around.”

“Shut up! Harry wants me around! I’m his best mate!” Ron yelled hotly.

“He’s mine!” Draco yelled furiously. “Tell him, Baby! Tell him you want him to leave!”

Harry was struck mute, though. All the yelling and the strangers, two of whom reminded him of his Uncle, were too much for him and his voice was lost. But he did want the strangers to go and if he could get one to leave he would. There was no way he wanted to go with the redheaded stranger! He wanted Draco! So Harry leaned passed Draco far enough to kiss his cheek and then darted back behind him. Draco grinned triumphantly.

“Bye, bye.” He gave a little wave at the shocked Gryffindor.

Crabbe gently caught Ron’s arm and pulled him a bit away as Goyle worked out the details for Draco’s little escape.

“I’m not leaving you two alone with Harry!” Ron said hotly.

“I know.” Crabbe shrugged. “I just think that since Harry doesn’t remember you, you should stay quiet. You’ll only upset him and you don’t want him to have his first memories of you as bad ones.”

“How come Malfoy knows you two?”

“We told you Snape and Mrs. Malfoy brought him to us before they supposedly left the school. We were introduced then.”

Ron crossed his arms petulantly, but nodded that he would be quiet. Crabbe gave a small smile and went back to his friend and leader. Goyle was nodding and Draco was giving orders. Crabbe shook his head ruefully. Some things never changed. Then his eyes slid to the obviously frightened child Draco was protecting. Maybe some things did change. He had never thought to see that vulnerable and helpless expression on Harry Potter’s face.

“Well? What are you waiting for? Get moving!” Draco said haughtily, sticking his nose in the air.

Unlike Draco, the three teens knew that if they left Hogwarts’ grounds the wards would record them leaving. But not if they used one of the underground passages. Goyle had seen the map enough times to know that there were some and briefly consulting Ron, they decided to use the one that led to Honeydukes.

The five of them made their way silently to the humpbacked, one-eyed witch. Ron said the password and they entered the dark passage. Harry whimpered and Draco glared at Crabbe until the teen made a light. Harry relaxed as soon as he could see and he followed Draco closely. He wouldn’t allow any of the strange boys at his back so he came last and the three teens led the way.

Honeydukes owner did not wake as the teens crept out of his cellar and into the store itself. The teens froze as they suddenly realized that they had come to a dead end. They couldn’t open the front door without the alarm going off and casting a spell at it to try and disconnect it would make it go off as well. They looked at each other feeling stupid for not thinking ahead.

“What’s the hold up?” Draco demanded in a stage-whisper.

Ron glared at him, but it was Goyle who spoke. “There’s an alarm on the door. We can’t get out.”

“No problem.” Draco huffed and turned to Harry expectantly.

Crabbe opened his mouth to warn him not to cast magic, but was struck dumb as the small boy closed his eyes. Magic rippled out of him. It was so strong and pure that the three teens could literally feel it washing through them like a sheet of ice cold water. It passed fast, though, and the door opened silently. Green eyes opened and Harry leaned tiredly into Draco’s embrace.

“We need to go somewhere to rest.” Draco decided, looking to Goyle for answers. But the teens were struck dumb and couldn’t move. Draco sniffed in disdain and helped Harry out of the store. As soon as the two children were out of sight, the teens came back to themselves and hurried after them.

“You’ll be recognized anywhere here.” Crabbe told Draco with a frown.

“There’s the Shrieking Shack.” Ron offered. “That’s empty.”

“Alright.” Draco nodded absently. His attention was on his friend who was beginning to stumble from exhaustion.

“I’ll carry him.” Goyle offered and reached for the little boy. As soon as his hands touched Harry’s shoulders, however, the boy jerked back with a frightened cry. Draco shoved at the Slytherins hands and crouched at Harry’s side.

“Are you alright, Baby?” He asked gently, brushing back his silky bangs.

Harry buried his head in Draco’s chest in answer.

“We need to get off the street.” Crabbe said uncomfortably. Ron was glaring murder at the blonde’s back.

“Can you walk, Harry? I won’t let them touch you again. I’m sorry.” He coaxed Harry to his feet. The boy managed to walk, but it was a slow pace. No one said anything about it, though.

The teens hadn’t felt comfortable leaving to two boys alone in the Shack, but they had no choice. The plan was to go back to school and act like everything was normal. That Saturday was a Hogsmeade weekend, ironically, but Greg wouldn’t be going. Instead, he’d stay in the castle and if he saw an opportunity to let either Professor Snape or Mr. Lupin know of the two escapees whereabouts were, he would. He wasn’t having much luck. Neither of the men could be found.

Until then, Ron led his friends to the Shack while Vince went with Pansy. The two groups met up just outside the Shack and got into a huge fight. Ron was furious that Vince was trusting Pansy when she obviously was trouble. Hermione and Ginny were yelling at Ron for telling the Slytherins in the first place. Neville watched helplessly and when he noticed they were getting too much attention, managed to coax a truce from the others and guide them out of sight and inside.

“Who are they and what are they doing here?” Draco demanded with crossed arms as soon as they stepped in.

“These are Harry’s friends.” Vince said reluctantly.

“You know them, Harry?” Draco asked, looking over his shoulder at the boy at his back. Harry shook his head. “You heard him. Get out.” He turned his attention to the blonde girl. “Hello, Pansy.” And then back to Vince. “You bring food and water?”

“Harry, are you alright?” Hermione said tearfully.

Ginny knelt, “You two are soooo cute!”

That caught Draco’s attention and he smirked at her, “Of course I am.”

“Here.” Vince un-shrink a bag of food and handed it over.

After confused talk and maneuvering, they settled on the floor in a half circle. Harry sat at the end with Draco between him and the strangers. He sat so close to the blonde’s side that he was practically in his lap and Draco had one arm around his shoulders, though his attention was on everyone else, he’d occasionally rub the smaller boy’s back to calm him. No one spoke loud after Harry collapsed in a ball whimpering when Ron and Pansy began to scream at each other.

Severus strode into his sitting room. Narcissa was on his heels. Remus came a few feet behind them. The air around the three was thick with tension. When Narcissa realized her son was gone, she immediately blamed Severus, saying he stashed the boys away. She didn’t listen to him when he assured her that wasn’t the case and kept snapping at her to get out of his way.

Remus was almost falling in pieces with worry. Where could the boys have gone? They had searched the whole castle and hadn’t found them. Dumbledore had assured them that the wards hadn’t recorded them leaving Hogwarts grounds. Remus kept feeling like there was something he was forgetting. It dawned on him and he gasped. The secret passages! Where was his head! He was just so worried… no matter, he remembered now. He turned and left Severus and Narcissa exchanging icy threats.

The teens fell silent as Harry’s head came up. It had been resting peacefully on Draco’s shoulder since they finished lunch. The boy’s face broke out into a smile and his eyes rested on the shadows to the back of the Shack. The teens jumped to their feet, wands extended. Draco snorted at them and smirked superiorly as Remus came out of the shadows hiding the basement door. Harry got up and ran to him.

“I’ve been worried sick, pup.” He scolded, holding the boy tight. “Though I can see you are well protected.” He added as he eyed the six teenagers and their wands.

Draco glared and stood. “I wouldn’t let anything hurt, Harry.”

“I know you wouldn’t mean to.” Remus soothed. “But there are mean people out there.”

“I know that!” Draco stomped his foot. “But we had to runaway or Mother would take me away again!”

Remus smiled and released Harry. The boy turned and reached for Draco. The blonde went to his side reluctantly, but his upset drained away when the smaller boy took his hand.

“Can I ask what you all are doing here?” Remus asked the teenagers. The Gryffindors looked sheepish and the Slytherins faces were blank. “Severus is going to be furious.” Remus said with a sympathetic smile.

“Daddy’s mad at me?” Harry spoke for the first time in a small, high voice. The Gryffindor’s gasped and almost fell over with shock at what Harry called their hated Potions Master.

Remus looked down at him solemnly, ignoring the others. “I’m afraid he might be. He loves you and you really, really scared him by disappearing. He thinks someone bad has you and is hurting you.”

“But we couldn’t tell him before we left cause then Mother would get suspicious.” Draco defended his plan as he felt Harry’s fear and sorrow crash through him. “He won’t be mad when he sees we’re okay and I tell him why.”

“I hope so.” Remus shook his head and then hugged them both to his chest one more time. “Merlin, I’m so glad you both are safe.”

“Sir? What’s going on?” Hermione spoke up. “Why are Harry and Draco calling Professor Snape Dad?”

“And why is Draco calling Harry baby?” Ron glared.

Remus sighed and straightened, his hand still resting on the two children’s backs. “I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the Headmaster or Severus.”

“But Professor!” Ginny and Hermione protested.

“No.” Remus shook his head. “You are Harry’s friend, but that does not mean you need to know everything. You should care more about what is best for Harry and not what you want. I will not answer you questions.”

The shocked silence was broken by a smooth voice. “I’m impressed, Wolf. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Dad!” Draco gasped and spun to face the shadows.

“Severus.” Remus was just as shocked. The room was too dusty for him to be able to smell the man’s approach and the other’s talking and the Shack shifting covered the sound of his light footsteps.

The dark eyes ignored the teens in the room and turned from one child to the next. Draco was unafraid. He was confident he had done what was right and what was needed. Harry was not so serene. His eyes were round with terror and his face was pale. Severus then looked to the Wolf. Draco stood close at one side; Harry was pressed into his legs. The werewolf was unconsciously comforting them with the hand he had on their backs. His face was tired, but his body was strong and his eyes were still bright with relief. He looked good with the children. Severus shook his head sharply to rid himself from the strangely flavored thoughts.

“What is going on?” Severus demanded, eyes falling again on Draco, knowing the answer would come from him.

And the blonde again explained why he had come up with the plan to run away and everything that had happened since last night. When the boy fell silent, the whole room tensed for Severus’ reaction. Harry’s gaze was the most intense. He looked like he was waiting for the axe to fall, there was no hope in his emerald depths, and the intensity of his despair made Draco shake and press into Remus’ legs for support.

“I can respect your decision to protect Harry. I believe you honestly weighed the consequences of your actions and the consequences of not acting, and judged it best to act. I trust you to protect, Harry. But it was inexcusable not to inform me of your plan. I could have helped and should I deem it necessary to fool your mother into believing I had no hand in your flight, I am perfectly capable of such deception.”

“I’m sorry, Dad.” Draco lowered his eyes.

“I hope nothing like this occurs in the future.”

“No, Dad.” Draco answered immediately.

“You both are forgiven, but you will have no desert for three days to remind you how wrong you actions were.”

Harry gasped, but it wasn’t one of horror. It was surprise. A sob rose and tears spilled from his eyes. His whole body shook violently in reaction. Draco reached over and grinned at him. Harry clasped his hand in Draco’s, but his eyes never left his Dad’s. “You mean… You still love me?”

“Come here.” Severus said sternly, but Harry and Draco could see past that to the utter relief and care in his eyes. The boys ran forward and Severus knelt so that he could embrace them both. “Of course I do. Nothing will change that. Nothing.”

Ginny sank to her knees and only Neville saved her from hitting her head as she almost fainted with shock. Ron’s mouth was hanging open and Hermione was blinking dumbly for the first time in her life. The Slytherins were staring a bit dazed, but you could see the sheer effort and will-power it was taking to remain expressionless. Remus knew Severus wouldn’t appreciate the audience or comments the students would have and stepped forward to bring their attention to him while Severus had his moment with the boys.

“Thank you for bringing the boys food and supplies.” He told them all and then looked at Ron and Vince. “And thank you for making sure they got here safe. We’ll make sure they get back to the castle safely, but I think it’s time for you all to head back yourselves. We don’t want to make anyone suspicious.”

“Of course.” Pansy said and left without another word. Vince hurried after.

“Harry’s doing better. It’s only going to take time.” Remus was telling the Gryffindors as he herded them subtly out the door. “Be sure you asked Dumbledore any questions. He’ll tell you what he can, but remember that some things must remain secret for a while. Trust me that we will tell you if we ever need help.”

“O-okay.” Hermione stuttered.

“Goodbye, Professor.” Neville smiled at Remus. He had been the least disturbed by the scene within the Shack.

“Take care of them.” Remus winked with a smile. Neville laughed and led his friends away.

The werewolf waited until the sixth year students were out of sight before turning back into the Shack. Severus was sitting on the floor. Harry was in his lap and Draco was to the side of him, telling him all about his lessons and how angry he was at his mother. Severus didn’t turn to look at Remus as he entered. He kept his attention on Draco and his face blank, nodding every few minutes. Harry gave Remus a smile and leaned back into Severus’ chest. The Potions Master lifted a hand in response and ran it through Harry’s wild hair comfortingly. Remus smiled and took a seat across from them.

“… and I don’t know why I have to know all this stuff. That’s why we have law-wizards! I much rather learn about magic. Where is my wand, Dad? Mother said she’d give it to me when I’m older, but that’s ridiculous. I won’t hurt myself with it.” The blonde crossed his arms in a huff.

“I will see what I can do.” Severus told him and finally brought his eyes up to meet the werewolf’s across from him. He hoped none of his embarrassment reached his eyes. What were these children doing to him! “Narcissa will expect us back.”

Remus nodded understanding, but his amber eyes lit on the boys with worry. “I can come back when you two go to sleep.”

“We can’t keep Draco away from her for long.” Severus sighed and gave the blonde a sharp look when Draco looked to open his mouth in anger. “I want you here and Harry needs you. But she is your mother and will do more damage if we try to pretend we don’t know where you are.”

“Maybe if we tell her what Draco was willing to do to stay, she’ll relent?” Remus asked hopefully.

“Doubtful.” Severus sighed and stood.

Harry didn’t want to be put down yet and turned, wrapping his legs around his Dad’s waist and his arms around the man’s neck. Severus steadied and balanced him instinctively. Draco, feeling left out, lifted his arms arrogantly at Remus. The werewolf laughed and hefted the bigger child to his hip. Draco stuck his tongue out at Harry and the boy giggled into Severus’ shoulder.

“We are bringing them back?” Remus asked.

Severus stared at the man blankly, but behind his eyes he was just taking in the situation they were in. Remus so naturally holding the eight year old Lord of the Malfoy family. The boy’s thick braid falling only an inch short of his hips draped over Remus shoulder. The weight of Harry in his arms, the warmth of the child on his side, the soft black hair mingling with lank ebony. This had to be a dream. Surely this wasn’t reality.

“Dad?” Draco asked from Remus’ arms. A knowing smile spread softly across Lupin’s mouth and Severus blinked to tear his attention from almost glowing amber eyes.

“We will take them to the Headmaster.” He turned and strode purposely to the tunnel entrance. “His main concern is Harry. He understands Draco must be with him until the time comes where they can be safely separated. I will pretend I still don’t know where the boys are. As will you. Draco ran to Albus last night with Harry and has been there since. Albus, of course, will be able to defend himself when Narcissa discovers his location.”

“Very Slytherin of you, Severus.” Remus chuckled warmly. “Not only are you keeping the boys within reach, you have deflected Mrs. Malfoy’s wrath.”

Severus sneered at him and the boys laughed.

Severus predicted Dumbledore perfectly. The elderly headmaster was overjoyed to hide the boys away from Narcissa. Harry was very wary around him, would flinch and stay mute, but he would smile, eat, and sit relaxed as long as Draco was by his side. Draco enjoyed the headmaster’s company once he got over his anger that the man had once hurt his baby. The old man gave him candy and he knew he had to be polite since Dumbledore was shielding him from his mother.

As for Narcissa, she began to believe that Severus really didn’t know where the boys were. Her anger turned into fear. The boys disappeared Friday night and by Sunday evening she was frantic. The boys would age and she was terrified they would be wounded or made vulnerable. Remus didn’t necessarily like the woman, but couldn’t stand to her suffer such fear and his eyes bore heavily into Severus until he gave in.

He told her that he didn’t know where the boys were, but that the headmaster did. Supposedly, Draco had called on him in some sort of oath and until Draco feels he will be allowed to remain, he and Harry both will remain wherever they were. Narcissa raged, but Severus raged back saying it was her fault he was denied Harry. That shut her up and she secluded herself in her room. Remus took this time to visit the boys. Severus wished he could do the same, but knew he couldn’t if he were to protect the boys.

So it was that the week ended. Remus came back to their quarters and lay awake all night while up in the headmaster’s office two eight year old boys slowly became nine. Narcissa paced and Dumbledore sat unconscious. But the two boys lay sleeping peacefully with tiny smiles on their faces.

Chapter Sixteen

The boys woke Monday morning curled up in each other’s arms. Draco smiled at Harry and laid a gentle kiss on his lips. Harry cuddled up against him with a happy murmur. They lay peaceably for a long minute before Draco asked how Harry slept. Harry didn’t answer at first and Draco could feel the wild swings in the smaller boy’s emotions as he went through the year of memories now available to him.

“I couldn’t keep my magic locked away and it burnt Uncle Vernon.” Harry said softly. “He hasn’t hit me since then. It hasn’t stopped Dudley, though.”

Draco felt the sharp spike of gratefulness and twin waves of horror and disgust. “You thought that just proved you were evil and they had a right to hurt you.” He guessed.

“Yeah.” Harry admitted, burying his face into Draco’s shoulder.

“But you know now that magic isn’t bad or evil.”

“Yeah.” Harry agreed and the horror and disgust gave way to an accepting sadness.

“You’ll be fine.” Draco smiled and kissed him again. “I’ll make sure of it.”

“Thank you, Ray. I don’t know… I don’t know how I could make it through this without you.”

“And you will never have to find out because I’m not going anywhere.” Draco grinned and climbed out of the bed pushed into the corner of the headmaster’s bedroom.

He straightened his clothes and wrinkled his nose at the stiffness of them. He’d been wearing the same outfit for three days now. Harry laughed quietly at him and brushed them off with magic-tainted hands. The cloth softened and smelled cleaner when he was through. He then pushed his hands gently into Draco’s hair and slowly pulled them down, watching the white silk become smooth like water. Draco smiled as Harry’s serene pleasure and content rolled through him. His mother had wanted to cut his hair a bit shorter since it was now as long as his hips, but he had refused. He knew how much Harry loved his hair and that in turn made him prefer it long.

“You next.” Draco sniffed disdainfully at Harry’s soiled clothes. Harry laughed and obliged his friend.

“Good morning, boys.” Dumbledore said brightly as he sat up with twinkling eyes.

“Good morning, Headmaster.” Draco answered formally, his smile turning into a blank mask now that he knew they were being observed. Harry shrank back a bit so Draco was standing half-infront of him. Draco felt pride and strength swell his chest at his baby’s trust in him.

“How was your night? The change wasn’t painful?”

“No, Headmaster.” Draco answered. Harry merely looked confused.

Dumbledore saw his confusion. He explained as he got up and got dressed. “You and young Malfoy are under a spell. You are really sixteen years old, but due to unforeseen side-effects to a healing spell Severus, Draco, and I cast on you, Harry, you were returned to four years of age. Every seven days, you are returned a year of your life. You and Lord Malfoy are now nine years old. It is because of this spell that you two are connected as you are, as well. Lord Malfoy can feel your feelings as you do and the spells is how you know when he is in trouble. The reason you can’t feel his emotions the way he can feel yours is because you are the focus of the spell and so his magical connection to you is stronger than your magical connection to him.” He chuckled warmly. “Though I’d guess that your emotional bond is about equal and has nothing to do with the spell at this point.”

Draco felt Harry’s worry and grabbed his hand, accurately guessing what had caused his friend to be filled with doubt. “Dumbledore is right. I love you because of who you are and everything that we’ve been through together. It’s not ‘cause of some stupid spell. I won’t change any when the spell wears off. Baby, I swear it to you as the oath of a Malfoy.”

Harry’s fear melted and he practically beamed with joy and love. Draco felt his cheeks burn as the heat rushed through him and he wrapped an arm around the smaller boy possessively. Dumbledore laughed, but he was calculating behind his kind eyes. He led the two boys down to his office where he had breakfast served. Fawkes flew to Harry immediately and the green-eyed child played with the fire bird happily. Draco watched with a fond smile and dutifully carried on polite, small-talk with his host. They had just finished when Dumbledore looked off into space and shooed them back up into his bedroom.

“Your mother is on her way and she is not happy.” He smiled. “Hide. Don’t come out unless I say.”

“Come, Harry.” Draco said and put out his hand for the smaller boy to take. Harry took it obediently and the blonde led him up the stairs.

“Come in, Ms. Malfoy.” Dumbledore called as there was a knock at his door. Fawkes flew over to his perch as the woman entered. Dumbledore smiled kindly at her. “What can I do for you today?”

“Don’t play dumb, Albus.” She answered, stalking to his desk and glaring at him. “I’ve come for my son. Where is he?”

Dumbledore smiled sadly at her. “I truly regret not being able to tell you that information, Narcissa, but I was bound into a wizard’s oath of silence by Lord Malfoy. He does not wish his presence known to you. I do sympathize with your concerns, however, and assure you that the young man is in fine physical condition, happy, and continuing to receive an excellent education.”

Narcissa let him talk and when he was finished, planted both of her long, manicured hands on his desk and gathered all of her will and magic around her like an icy blanket of power. “Do not test me, Albus Dumbledore. I will bring the world crashing down around your head if you try and keep my son from me.”

“Narcissa. The child is afraid you will remove him from the man he looks up to as a new father and the boy he looks on as his brother. They are bound by magic, I’ve tested it thoroughly. Separation for any length of time would cause magical and emotional harm. Ignoring your son’s condition and wishes is negligent. He has called on a third party to protect him. There is nothing illegal about what has happened. My hands are tied and so are yours. Draco has made his choice.”

Narcissa mentally winced at the headmaster’s words. He was calling her an unfit mother! Doubts swirled in her brain and fear pumped in her heart. What was she suppose to do? Leave him to grow more and more attached to Harry when the boy was obviously damaged beyond recovery? Draco was almost acting like the brunette had been an extension of his own body and soul. His individuality, his independence was being robbed from him. Was she supposed to sit back and let that happen? No! No, she wouldn’t allow that ill-fated boy and this manipulative devil-spawn to take her baby from her or ruin him!

“Negligence? That is an ironic charge to be throwing at me, Albus, when you had your little boy hero growing up in a foul, abusive home. What would you call that? Conspiracy, collusion? You aided and abetted the mental, emotional, and physical abuse of a child for almost ten years. In fact, that would make you guilty of his murder.”

“Enough.” Dumbledore cut in sharply. He stood and glared into her eyes. “You’ve said enough. There is no proof of your claims. No one has brought charges against me. Draco, himself, is acting against you. We have nothing further to say to each other. You are free to remain at Hogwarts for as long as you deem necessary, but I cannot reveal your son’s location until he permits me. If you wish to communicate with him, write him a letter. I would be more than happy to pass it on.”

Narcissa bared her teeth in rage, but knew she would get no further with the stubborn bastard. She turned, her skirts swirling about her ankles, and stormed from the office. Dumbledore sighed and sat in his chair, closing his eyes for a few seconds. Narcissa’s accusations had been dangerous indeed. He’d have to deal with the woman’s ire and knowledge. But first he had two boys to question.

With a swish of his wand, his bedroom door opened and he called them back down. He waited until they were settled into the chairs across from his desk before offering them candy. Draco accepted, but Harry shook his head shyly. Dumbledore smiled at him, but Harry still wouldn’t meet his eyes or speak up in his presence. Ah, well. Some things took time.

“How are your studies going?” He asked once the blonde had finished his candy. “If I’m going to continue your lessons it would be good to know where you stand.”

“Won’t Dad and Moony teach us still?” Draco asked with a small frown. He knew he was supposed to keep all emotion from his face, but sometimes allowing some emotion through achieved a purpose. This expression was a warning. He was going to get what he wanted and it would be less painful to just go along with him while he was still in a good mood.

“They will be coming and teaching you when they can, but if your mother is around or they have class to teach, then it will be up to me. I don’t want you two to fall behind and have your father get angry with me.” Dumbledore smiled.

“Well, we have different lessons.” Draco answered thoughtfully. “I study acting, politics, law, history, and language. My physical lessons are walking, dancing, tumbling, and self-defense. My magical studies include Occlumency at night with Dad, magical theory, and memorizing the pronunciation of spells. I haven’t been aloud to actually practice magic yet because my mother feels I’m still too young. I would also like to return to flying. Swimming would be nice too.”

“That is very impressive, young Malfoy.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“And what about you, Harry? What have you learned?” He asked gently, but the boy shook his head and looked shyly at his hands in his lap. “Come now, my boy. You know I wouldn’t hurt you. I care about you a great deal. There is nothing to be afraid of.” Fawkes gave an encouraging trill and Dumbledore smiled fondly at the bird. “You see. Even Fawkes thinks you’re safe here.”

Harry looked up at the old man with wary green eyes. He slid a glance over at Draco, but the boy was sitting straight and blank faced, unwilling to influence him one way or the other since he was unsure how much he trusted the old man himself. Harry turned his attention back to Dumbledore and whispered, “I haven’t learned much. Just reading, writing, math, and some magical theory. Occlumency too.” He blushed and his voice became a mere whisper. “I didn’t talk for a while and they couldn’t really teach me like that and Moony mostly talks about my first father and my mother.”

“I see.” Dumbledore twinkled at him. “Your parents were very great people. It is a worthy subject to learn about. You shouldn’t feel too overshadowed by Draco’s progress, Harry. He is ahead only because he has knowledge from years you do not have access too yet.”

Harry nodded and his gaze in his lap. Draco thought it was time to step in. Harry’s anxiety was rising. The small brunette hated to be in the center of attention. “Will you take us out flying today, sir?”

“I don’t think that will be possible, Draco. It’s too big of a risk and I’m afraid your mother still hasn’t accepted the situation.”

“So we’re going to stay up here all day?” Draco asked evenly, but his frown had come back. “What about our tumbling lessons in France?”

“I will see what I can do.” Dumbledore promised. “Now. How would you feel about a practical lesson in magic?”

Draco perked up. “That would be great.”

“Alright. I have Harry’s wand here. I’m sure since you are both so close you will have no problems using it as well as Harry.”

Draco accepted the wood and smiled. “I’m sure I’ll be okay.”

“What spells have you memorized?” Dumbledore asked.

“Wingardium Leviosa.” The blonde said with an easy flick. A paper weight on the headmaster’s desk rose gracefully in the air.

“Well done.” Dumbledore laughed. “Why don’t you try it, Harry?”

Draco ended his spell and was handing Harry the wand when the black-haired boy raised his hand and repeated what Draco had. The paper weight obediently rose. Draco’s mouth stretched into a proud smile. “Good job, Baby!”

“Yes. Very good indeed.” Dumbledore smiled with satisfaction.

The hours passed as they practiced more and more difficult spells. Dumbledore left once or twice to go to work, but came back shortly to continue their lessons. By dinner, the boys were dueling with harmless spells and weak shields. Dumbledore’s office looked the worse for wear, but the headmaster couldn’t be any happier. The boys were relaxing around him, Draco especially who felt grateful and hungry for more lessons. Yes. Things were going very well.

The boys were just getting ready for bed. Dumbledore was down in his office doing paper work. Draco was glowing with happy exhaustion and Harry looked the same. Suddenly, Harry tensed. His whole body went rigid. Draco’s head snapped up and he rushed to Harry’s side.

“Baby! Baby, what’s wrong?” Draco demanded, grabbing the smaller boy roughly by his shoulders.

Harry’s eyes slowly slid over to the blonde’s, but he couldn’t focus. Draco opened his mouth to scream for help when he suddenly crumpled unconscious. Harry swayed without his friend’s support. Then the pain hit. He screamed as blood erupted from his scar and began to go into convulsions.

Dumbledore rushed up to his room to find the boys on the floor; Draco as still as death and Harry spasming with agonized whimpers. He tried to hold Harry secure, but the boy’s body bowed back as his muscles clinched impossibly tight. Reaching with his magic he sent a mental call for the school nurse and held on as best as he could.

Draco slowly woke to the sound of ragged breathing and a sharply chanting woman. He opened heavy eyes and saw the nurse hovering over his baby who jerked horrifically like a dieing spider. He screamed and launched himself at his friend, but was grabbed by the waist. He looked up furiously into Dumbledore’s face.

“No, my boy. Harry needs medical attention and you’ll only get in the way right now.” He said with sad sympathy. “You do want your friend to get better, right?”

“Yes.” Draco’s voice trembled.

“Come. Sit with me and tell me what you saw.”

Draco allowed himself to be carried over to Dumbledore’s bed. His gray eyes never left Harry’s small broken form. “The evil man was there and he was telling the Death Eaters that training was finally complete. He’s ready to start some missions. The first will be to attack Kings Cross station and all the establishments that serve as a gate between the muggle and wizarding world. I didn’t recognize many of the names, but I know the Leaky Cauldron. Then he called forward the Inner Circle. He noticed Dad wasn’t there and got really, really mad. He punished lots of people for not preventing Dad from leaving the fold and punished them for not informing him of the betrayal sooner. Then he screamed that the one to bring him Dad’s head would be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. Then he dismissed everyone and I woke up.”

“That is very grave news.” Dumbledore said, his eyes focused elsewhere as he began to plot.

“Baby felt all the curses the bad man cast to punish his followers?” Draco asked in a terrified little voice. “Will he die?”

“No, Draco. He will live.” Dumbledore assured. “He is just very, very sick.”

“I want my Dad!” Draco wailed and burst into tears.

“I’m sorry, but he can’t come up. We’d be giving away where you are and he is very tired from all the worrying you’ve put him through. You want him to rest, don’t you? Besides, Harry needs quiet. He’d be very hurt if he saw how upset he was making your father. When he’s feeling better, I will bring him.”

Draco cried helplessly, but tapered off when Madam Pomfrey approached looking like she would faint at any moment.

“I’ve done the best I can, but there is still damage done. He’s too young and already malnourished. We need specialized potions, Albus.”

“I will get them. Just give me a list.” Dumbledore nodded. “What kind of permanent damage can we expect?”

“He will get tired easily and his hands will begin shaking when he gets fatigued. His eyes are worse now and I expect he’ll have temporary blind spells. There is also the possibility of him having random seizures.”

“May I go lay with him?” Draco asked in a hoarse voice.

“You may.” She smiled at him tiredly and Draco ran to the bed and crawled up next to Harry, crying into the smaller boy’s shoulder as he curled protectively around him.

Draco woke the next morning and instantly looked for Harry. The smaller boy was where he was supposed to be: at his side, asleep. He sighed in relief and stroked the black hair from his friend’s too pale face. He lay like this for an hour before the green eyes opened slowly. They blinked a few times and then panic hit Draco in the gut.

“What’s wrong, Baby?” He asked worriedly.

“R-r-ray?” Harry’s voice questioned and Draco hated the weak quiver in it.

“Yes. I’m here. What’s wrong? Does something hurt?”

“Can’t… can’t see, Ray.” Harry whimpered. “E-e-everything is d-d-dark.”

“Shhh…” Draco wrapped his arms around his friend and rocked him. “Madam Pomfrey told me that you will have blind spells, but that they are only temporary. You’ll see again soon.”

“Hurts.” Harry cried.

“I know. I know.” Draco cried with him. Minutes passed and they clung to each other fearfully. Draco almost crumpled with relief when a wave of relief and joy rushed out from Harry.

“I can see!” He said happily, his green orbs focusing on Draco for the first time since he woke.

“Good.” Draco smiled tearfully.

Harry frowned and brought his hands up to wipe away the blonde’s tears. “I’m okay. Don’t be sad, Ray.”

Draco nodded and forced his emotions from his face. He was still torn up and frightened, but he wouldn’t let his baby see. He’d be strong for Harry. “Alright. Do you think you can get up? I can go get you breakfast.”

“I can walk downstairs. It’s not too far to Dumbledore’s office.”

Draco helped Harry stand and slowly make his way to the stairs and down them. Halfway there, Harry’s hands began to tremble and by the time Draco got Harry into a seat they were shaking violently. Draco clasped them in his own and whispered soothing nothings until Harry relaxed and began to doze. Harry knelt in front of his chair and didn’t move, even when the black-haired boy fell asleep. He stared at his friend, unable to look away.

His baby was so fragile and yet strong. Even now he could feel the deep and powerful magic rising to work with the healing spells still wrapped around Harry to fix as much as they could. Dumbledore said Harry needed potions. Dad was great at potions. Decided, he carefully pulled his hands from Harry’s and went over to the fireplace. He pulled Harry’s wand from his pants and Accioed the floo powder.

“Potion’s classroom!” He called as he flung it down. The fire whooshed green. He waited impatiently until Severus’ head entered the flames.

“What is it?” The man snapped, but his expression melted into concern when he saw who called him. “Draco? What’s wrong?”

Tearfully, Draco told his father what happened and how bad Harry was and that he needed potions bad. Rage crossed Severus’ features before he carefully masked his face into something neutral.

“I’ll be right there. Don’t leave Harry’s side.”

“Yes, Father.” Draco nodded, wiping away his own tears. He trotted away from the fire and returned to his place sitting in front of Harry’s chair, his back resting against Harry’s legs.

Severus dismissed class and flooed to his rooms. He found a defeated and exhausted Narcissa and a worried Wolf. He quickly told them what he had learned from Draco. There was no time for petty games with Narcissa. Not if the headmaster was moving to try and separate him from the boys. He’d need all the help he could get to check Albus’ manipulations. Remus’ eyes flashed gold when he heard and Narcissa stood with renewed strength.

“We have to work together no matter how much we may not like it.” Severus snapped at the blonde woman. “Separating the boys caused Draco agony and damage during the aging, who knows what going through a vision would do to him if he were away from Harry. Maybe he would feel some of the curses as well. In any case, we can’t risk it.”

“And Draco will only fight you. He has his memories of being sixteen.” Remus cut in with a hard edge. “He is not truly nine and he has made his decision. You will have to accept that.”

“It was a mistake.” Narcissa said shortly. “I am aware of that.”

“Good.” Severus nodded once. “They are up in the headmaster’s office now. Remus, you and Narcissa go to them. Take care of them as best you can. I will go see Pomfrey and find out what she needs.”

“What about the headmaster?” Remus growled.

“He’s probably informing the Order. You should have a small window with the boys uninterrupted.”

Narcissa and Remus hurried to the floo and were gone. Severus was on their heals, except he was heading for the infirmary. Remus came out of the floo first and smiled as Draco lifted his head from Harry’s lap and wilted with obvious relief. His expression shuttered, however, when Narcissa stepped out of the fire behind him.

“She won’t take you away again, Draco.” Remus promised, going to the boy and holding him while running a hand through Harry’s hair. “She’s admitted she was wrong.”

Draco hugged Remus tight before pulling away and taking up a position between them and his mother. “I want to hear it for myself.”

Narcissa looked down at her son. His hair was unbound and began to lift and wave lazily due to his rising magic. Rage and determination shone from his eyes. It hurt so badly to see that look directed at her that she back-stepped and clutched at the fabric above her heart. “I’m sorry, Dragon. I did what I thought was best. I didn’t understand the situation.”

“You aren’t forgiven, Mother.” Draco answered coldly. “But you may stay on the condition that you don’t come within reach of me. I mean it. If you touch me or Harry, I will not be held responsible for my actions.”

“I understand, Dragon.” She said meekly and took up a position by the fireplace.

Draco nodded in satisfaction and turned back to see Remus sitting in the chair with Harry cradled in his lap. Green eyes opened sleepily. Draco went over to them and grabbed Harry’s hand in his own. There were still gentle tremors going through it. “How do you feel, Baby? Are you hungry?”

“Yes.” Harry blushed at all the concern and attention.

“I will order something.” Narcissa offered quietly, moving to the floo.

Draco nodded at her and turned his attention back to Harry. “Dad is making you potions to make you better. He’ll be here soon.”

“Okay.” Harry smiled at the blonde and warm affection rippled down their bond. “Thank you, Ray.”

“How do you feel?” Remus asked gently, realizing Harry had never answered the question.

“I’m fine.” Harry assured him.

“Nothing hurts?” Remus pressed, cupping the child’s face in his hands and looking deeply into Harry’s eyes.

“A little bit all over. I think my head and chest is the worse.” Harry shrugged. “But really, it’s not that bad. I can handle it.”

“Oh Pup. You shouldn’t have to handle it. Never keep your pain to yourself. I’ll always do all I can to make sure that you don’t hurt.”

Harry nodded tearfully and wrapped his arms around the man’s neck, crying into his shoulder. Draco smiled lovingly as he felt Harry’s surprise and gratitude. The fire flared behind him and Narcissa pulled out a tray overflowing with food and drinks. Draco took out Harry’s wand and magically lifted it from her hands and placed it on the desk. He busied himself with separating the foods Harry’ favored from the rest.

Severus flooed into Dumbledore’s office just as Harry had finished eating. He rushed to the boy and scooped him up out of Remus’ lap without a word. Harry clung to him, but didn’t cry. Severus held him tight for a few minutes before allowing himself to become aware of the others in the room. Draco and Remus sat in the chairs in front of the headmaster’s desk and wore identical smiles. Narcissa still stood by the fire and was conversing quietly with Poppy who had followed Severus.

“Harry?” He asked, turning his eyes to the child in his arms.

The boy had tensed and he watched in horror as the boy’s eyes rolled back into his head and he began to seizure. Severus dropped to the floor and protected Harry’s head through the violent storm. Draco had leapt to his feet, but Remus was holding him back. Poppy had rushed over, but her spells were not calming Harry’s spasms. It was over as quick as it had started and blurry green eyes were staring up at him.

“Dad?” Harry whispered confusedly.

“Shhh. It’s alright. I have medicine. Swallow them for me, son.”

Harry slow and heavy hands reached for the vial, but Severus ignored it and put the potion to the boy’s lip himself. Harry drank obediently; one, two, and a third before falling into an exhausted slumber. Poppy nodded permission for him to lift the sick child and he did so. Draco pulled away from Remus and pressed desperately against Severus’ legs, hand clasped in Harry’s shirt.

“My.” Dumbledore said as he tried to enter his office, only to find it very crowded.

“I’m taking him back to the hidden room in the infirmary.” Severus said and walked toward the door and the old man, but the headmaster didn’t move. Severus glared at him warningly, arms tightening around the precious burden in his arms, still horrified from witnessing Harry’s suffering.

“Albus?” Remus questioned, eyes beginning to glow.

“The war has truly begun.” Dumbledore intoned gravely. “St. Mungo’s is overflowing and the death count will be high. Seventeen establishments were attacked. Only four were we able to protect, the rest were destroyed.”

“I can do nothing for them, Albus. But I can take care of my son. Move aside.” Severus said softly.

“I have opened the school infirmary to the healers to use. I told you, St. Mungo’s overfilled. Harry will stay here. It is safer at the moment.” Albus shook his head and gazed sadly at the child.

“Then I will take him back to my quarters. Poppy has done all she at the moment and I can call her if I need her again.”

Severus wasn’t about to leave Harry in the company of the manipulative old man when he was vulnerable and sick. Dumbledore must have sensed this for he reluctantly agreed and stepped aside. Severus strode past him, Draco on his heels. Remus and Narcissa moved to follow, but Dumbledore stopped them.

“We need all the help we can get with the injured and warding the four establishments we were able to save.” He sighed tiredly and leaned against the wall. “I could use your help.”

“The Dark Lord has placed a price on me head.” Narcissa answered coldly. “I’m sure I will be of no help.”

“I can put a glamour on you or you could use Polyjuice.” Dumbledore shook his head. “I understand if you would rather not. It could be dangerous and you have a son to think of. Remus? What about you?”

Remus felt torn. He was afraid to be lured back under the headmaster’s control. He wanted to be there for Harry and Draco. He even wanted to be there for Severus, but Narcissa was there as well as Poppy. He knew the medi-witch was none-to-happy with the headmaster and would support Harry in anyway she could. And he couldn’t let others suffer because of his displeasure with Dumbledore. He nodded. The old headmaster smiled in relief and gestured the werewolf closer, explaining what he needed him to do. Narcissa shook her head and left them to it. She had a son to care for after all; even if he hated her at the moment.

Harry woke to the sound of someone singing a sweet slow tune. He opened his eyes and blinked in surprise when he found that it was Draco’s lap his head was in and that it was the blonde singing as he played with Harry’s hair. Draco smiled, but didn’t stop. Harry closed his eyes and just basked in the gentle attention and affection of his best friend. It was one of the best moments of his life. All too soon the song came to an end. He opened his eyes again to see Draco’s grey ones ready to catch them.

“How are you feeling?” He asked softly.

“I feel fine.” Harry answered honestly and lifted his arms to prove it. He wrapped them around Draco’s neck and pulled until the blonde was laying next to him on the bed, practically draped over him. Harry sighed in contentment as Draco’s arms came to wrap around him, making him feel utterly safe and cherished. He sighed again, a smile on his lips.

“You’re in a good mood.” Draco laughed softly.

“I love you, Ray.” Harry answered and burrowed closer to his warm body.

Severus and Draco were both surprised at Harry’s high spirits throughout the following days. He tried to explain that he finally believed that they really loved him, that they wouldn’t leave him, but they didn’t really understand. So he would just smile sweetly at them and shrug. He had five more seizures and two blind spells. Though the seizures were more horrific, Harry hated the blind spells most. When they happened, he had to be held by either Severus or Draco until it was over. His hatred for the dark had not lessened.

The third day after the vision Harry was strong enough to stay awake for more than a couple hours and was able to walk around without collapsing with exhaustion after a dozen steps. Severus renewed their Occlumency lessons and they worked on it until the boys thought their heads would explode. Narcissa was allowed to be in the same room as them by this point and Draco was even speaking to her, though he was still short with her. She accepted this meekly, but Harry had a suspicion that she wouldn’t for very much longer.

“What do you want to eat?” Severus asked Harry as he brushed a hand through the boy’s hair.

Harry leaned into his father’s hand. Severus responded by pulling the boy to him and lifting him. Harry wrapped his legs around his father’s waist and laid his head tiredly on his shoulder. Severus continued to run his fingers through his son’s hair. Draco watched all this from his position sprawled on the couch. He wrinkled his nose with slight jealously, but didn’t say anything about it. Instead he answered their father.

“I want steak.”

Severus inclined his head in agreement, giving Draco a look that erased any jealousy he was feeling. There was pride in that dark gaze and respect. Draco sat up straight, warmth burning in his chest. Severus reached out to smooth over Draco’s head tenderly as he passed. Draco followed and made faces up at Harry over their Dad’s shoulder. Harry made faces back. It was Draco who burst into laughter first.

“If you have enough energy to be ridiculous, maybe we didn’t work hard enough.” Severus scowled playfully.

“Please.” Draco drawled, sitting next to Harry while their father went around the table to sit across from them. “I’m giddy with exhaustion. If you are annoyed, maybe you worked us to hard.”

“Eat your dinner, brat.” He glared and put his napkin in his lap. Narcissa did the same beside him. Harry and Draco copied them and the table filled with delicious food. The next few minutes were spent in silence as they ate.

Twice Severus prodded at the boys’ mental shields to see if they were being maintained. Draco’s was weaker than Harry’s, but the blonde could maintain them and erect them longer. Draco’s shields were present both times he checked, but he could see through them a bit. The first time Harry’s mind was open, but the second it was locked tight. He nodded his approval.

“What are your plans after dinner?” Narcissa asked halfway through the meal.

“Bath and bed?” Harry spoke up hopefully.

“For you, yes.” Severus agreed. They all could see the fork in Harry’s hand shaking every so slightly. He was reaching his limits. “But Draco has work to do.”

“But Father…” Draco protested, frowning. He wasn’t as tired as Harry, but bath and bed sounded divine.

“You need to work on your studies. Soon you will be taking up your duties as Lord.” Severus told him.

Draco looked over at his mother suspiciously, but her face was blank. Had it been filled with triumph, he would have rebelled. As it was, he sighed and glared over at his father mutinously. Severus didn’t seem to mind. Once dinner was done, he led Harry to the bathroom while Narcissa took her son back into the sitting room.

“I’m really getting sick of this room.” Draco smiled ruefully. Harry, he, and Severus (who had taken a temporary leave of absence from his teaching duties until Harry and he mastered Occlumency; Dumbledore had called in a substitute, a Mr. Farris) had been studying there every chance they got.

“Maybe when Severus announces that your training is adequate, I can take you and Harry out.” She offered as she settled into chair.

“I wouldn’t let you take me anywhere.” Draco answered matter-of-factly.

Narcissa flinched and looked away. Draco felt smug, he thought she’d remain remorseful and submissive (as she should!), but she didn’t. She turned back to him and her eyes were hard as diamonds and when she spoke Draco thought he should see her breath, her voice was so cold.

“I disregarded your feelings and wishes, Dragon. I caused you unintentional pain. But look at the situation from my point of view. You are my son. You are the leader and pride of your family. You have wealth and power and privilege. But that is all a second thought to Harry Potter, a boy you use to not be able to stand. I’m aware that things have changed, that you are bonded to him almost as tightly as a twin. I care about Harry. I don’t want to see him hurt. But you are my first priority. Your honor and reputation and your life are all more important to me than your bond to Harry. I would not have acted so if you weren’t as close as you are to him. I acted to save your life.”

“My life was never in danger, Mother.” Draco spat back, finally gathering his courage.

“It was and still is, Dragon, but I know that trying to prevent you from traveling down this fatal course is pointless.”

“You are wrong.” He sneered at her. “You are grasping at reasons to possible justify your behavior. It won’t work.”

“Do you remember the story of Aurora Haidyn?” She asked softly, eyes now on her lap.

“What does that have to do with this?” Draco’s eyes narrowed dangerously, thinking his mother was changing the subject.

“Tell me the story. I promise it has relevance.”

“In 1549, Jeffery Gordon killed her brother to revenge his father and she attacked him. They dueled. It was close, but Jeffery overpowered her. They say he went mad with victory and went into a rut due to how closely she matched him. He ripped the rest of her close off and Desecrated her. She couldn’t fight back. Her magic was too depleted. The Haidyn’s declared Blood Feud with the Gordon’s and they went to war. The Haidyn’s did all they could for Aurora, but she went insane. The best healers of the day could do nothing and in 1550 Aurora’s magic rose up and killed her. The last Gordon perished in 1564, killed by the Haidyn’s.”

“Has anyone survived Desecration?”

“No. Aurora was recorded to have lived the longest after such an act.” Draco waved his hand impatiently with a glare. “What does this have to do with you ignoring my express wish and acting against me?”

“Dragon…” Narcissa’s will seemed to waver and Draco felt dread build in his gut. Why was his mother looking at him like that? “Dragon, you know how we discussed why Harry acts and thinks they way he does? Why he is so afraid?”

“No.” Draco jumped to his feet, his hands clenched into fists. Magic swirled around him, prowling and beginning to wail with his rage and terror. “You go to far, Mother.”

“Harry’s family abused him since he was a child, but when he turned sixteen his Uncle…”

“Don’t say it.” Draco bit out through gritted teeth. “Don’t you say it.”

“His Uncle drugged him to paralyze both is body and magic and Desecrated him.” Narcissa finished in a whisper.

“NO!” Draco roared and his magic struck. But he was blind to his mother’s cry; blind to the destruction of the room around him.

Faded memories were rising in his mind. At first all he could make out was a haunting and cuttingly painful tune: an angel singing, a piano’s ringing cry. Words of pain and despair, of resignation, of death. Green eyes pale and empty within a lifeless body that obeyed orders as a puppet would. Eyes that began to wake when they looked into him only to shut down for a final time. He remembered chanting, offering his magic and his mind in a desperate attempt to heal the fallen angel before him. He couldn’t remember the words, couldn’t even remember if it hurt.

But as soon as these slivers of memory rose they were washed away with vividly clear memories. His Baby laughing with him, playing tag, bathing, eating with him, crying into his shoulder, needing him, holding him, loving him. Baby brushing his hair with magic imbued fingers, mourning him when he was gone, curling around him to sleep. His Harry who was tortured by the evil man far away and smiled at him even through his pain just so he wouldn’t worry.

Harry who filled his heart with an uncomplicated joy that he had never been capable of feeling on his own, who filled him with a love more pure and powerful than he had ever experienced, who knew true terror. His Baby who was finally finding his feet and strength and was beginning to stand up to the pain and horror in the world, who was had finally opened his heart fully to him and their father and gave them the most precious of all gifts: unconditional love.

Even now Draco could feel it like a tiny sun burning in his chest, could feel the heat and magic and strength that Harry had hidden away because of his fear and self-hate. It was finally free and Harry had given it to him and to a lesser degree their father. Draco could feel his Baby coming closer, drawn by his magical outburst. Harry walked through it, parting it gently with his own magic much more powerful than Draco’s could ever be. Draco expected him to try and subdue him, but he didn’t.

Their eyes met and Draco saw worry, love, and acceptance in the emerald depths. Harry didn’t care if he raged, if he lashed out. He just wouldn’t let Draco do it alone. Harry stood at his side, inches away, calmly waiting for him to do what he needed. Draco screamed again with denial. Desecrated. This angel staring at him so openly, ignorant of the atrocities he would wake to in a few weeks time.

Black messy hair, pouty lips, clumsy glasses that couldn’t contain the brilliance of the eyes behind them. A slender body to small and short, testament to the abuse he already suffered, survived, and overcame. Draco was two inches wider, five inches taller, twenty-one pounds heavier and yet Harry was larger on the inside. Draco knew he was only peeking into Harry’s heart through the bond and it filled him up till he was snug inside himself, no extra space or echoes that he could remember from another life.

He admired his Baby’s heart for it was so large, his emotions so damn strong and pure and powerful. There was nothing diluted about them; they weren’t tempered with reason or justifications or rationalizations. Harry should have been cherished, protected, because those same emotions that made him strong and extraordinary also made him fragile. Desecrated. It was blasphemous! It was horrendous! It wasn’t fair! Not Harry, not his Baby!

“Ray.” Harry reached for him and his small hands landed gently on Draco’s cheeks.

Draco could only stare, struck numb with a horror so great, he could only stare at the one who meant the world to him, stare at the one whose soul had been murdered and pulled back by the brink of death to be temporarily caged by the mind and body of a child. His magic was weakening. Not because he felt any more calm, but because he had no more left to strike out at the world with. He was empty. Empty of everything except Harry’s heat still burning unwaveringly in his chest.

“Ray.” Harry repeated again, worry and fear filled his voice as his love reached and blanketed Draco, offering unconscious comfort. Harry wiped away his friend’s silent tears and stared into those grey pools. They were older, aged suddenly by pain and horror. “Was it the bad man? Ray?”

Mute, screaming in his mind and heart, Draco’s hands unclenched and slowly lifted. Long, pale fingers covered Harry’s hands that still rested ever so gently on his cheeks. At the touch, Harry’s thumbs stilled in their job of brushing away his tears. Draco’s fingers closed slowly around Harry’s and pulled the boy’s hands down between them so that they rested just above Draco’s laboring heart. Harry’s eyes widened and splayed flat so that he wouldn’t miss a beat. Green never left gray.

Draco suddenly felt too small. His body didn’t fell right. Suddenly, he was sixteen again with the clarity of age that he hadn’t remembered ever losing. He was aware of mortality. He was aware of what he was going to lose when he looked into his Baby’s face. He looked and understood that he knew nothing of pain yet and it terrified him.

Harry reached for him as he sank to his knees with a helpless whimper. Draco felt his friend hold him, felt Harry sink to the floor with him, and he wanted to scream that Harry was lying! He wouldn’t be there always! He was going to leave him, alone and as broken as Harry ever was.

“Draco!” Harry cried, frightened.

The sound of his true name coming out of his baby’s mouth shocked Draco. He felt Harry’s fear and rising panic. It pushed him into action, though he didn’t know what action to take. All he knew was that even when he was shattered he could not ignore Harry’s call. He found himself hugging the boy back and that seemed to calm his Baby somewhat.

“Harry.” He whispered hoarsely. He meant to say it reassuringly, but instead it was a plea.

“What is it, Ray? Are you hurt?” Harry asked him frantically.

“I love you, Baby.” Draco buried his face into Harry’s shoulder and cried.

Harry looked up at his Dad and Ms. Malfoy. They stood motionless against the wall where they had been shoved by Draco’s magical outburst. He demanded they come help him, but they didn’t move. Narcissa just shook her head as tears fell from her eyes. Severus just said that there was nothing he could do. Draco didn’t stop crying. He’d never seen the blonde like this. Not even the horrible visions had made the arrogant, confident, protective Lord Malfoy breakdown like this. His eyes went back to Ms. Malfoy and they hardened.

“What did you do to him?” He demanded. Anger began to rise in him, like a slow spiral rising up from his belly. He’d never been so angry and he knew it would get worse. He didn’t try to stop it. He wanted answers. He wanted to know what was wrong with his Ray and he would fix it. “Tell. Me. Now.”

Narcissa gasped. She felt the rising magic and knew she was in danger. The submissive, fragile boy before her suddenly took on a new cast in her eyes. For the first time she truly understood that Harry Potter was The-Boy-Who-Lived, the boy who had defeated the Dark Lord twice and survived battling him two more. Before it was words, it was a concept of power, but now she was feeling it first hand and it was terrifying. She looked over at Severus desperately, but the man only had eyes for the boy and ignored her plight.

“TELL ME!” Harry roared. He released Draco and stood. The blonde’s broken cries were slowing, but he was still lying crumpled at Harry’s feet. His grey eyes caught on the boy before him as if mesmerized.

“I did nothing.” Narcissa tried to say. It was the wrong answer.

Green flame rose up out of Harry’s skin. It had no heat, but instead lashed out with pure energy. Narcissa could feel it lapping at her skin from where she stood. Like a breeze made solid, the waves coming off the flame pressed her rhythmically against he wall. Each ripple was getting stronger as the green fire got larger. The flames snaked around Harry’s small form. His glasses shattered and disintegrated, his clothes dissolved into dust and his hair thrashed wildly. But it was his eyes that were the most disturbing. They glowed brighter than the flame. His hands rose and the green flame flowed up his body and down his arms, moving to gather in his palms. Originally the flame had been a rich emerald green, Slytherin green, but as they combined the color lightened and got brighter. Narcissa’s eyes widened as she recognized the exact shade of the killing curse.

“You will never hurt my Draco again.” Harry promised, fury in his voice and eyes.

“Don’t.” Draco gasped as he finally found the strength to stand.

Fighting the rage was hard. It was so bright and hot that he had a hard time telling himself that it wasn’t his anger, telling himself that he wasn’t the one that wanted to destroy. Knowing the strength of that anger, therefore, Draco was surprised when Harry responded and leaned back against him. And then Draco understood.

The anger was so strong because it was supported by love. Harry’s love for him was spiraled around that anger, making it stronger than it could ever have been on its own. Harry was protecting him. Grinning, tears returning to his eyes, Draco leaned down and bowed his head so that it rested on Harry’s shoulder. His blonde hair cascaded around Harry’s shoulders as if it were his own hair. It shimmered in the light of Harry’s protective fury.

“Don’t, Baby. It wasn’t her that hurt me. Let it go, Baby.” Draco murmured and the fire began to retreat, Harry’s hands to lower. But it didn’t go out. It burned just above his skin. “Harry, I’m better now. I… I just… I can’t tell you why I was… upset… But I’m better now.”

Harry shuddered and the fire disappeared. With a choked cry, Harry spun in Draco’s grip and clung to the blonde, his face buried in his chest as he shook from the aftermath of his rage. Draco rocked him, tears gone. His baby’s anger had cleansed him and left behind determination. Harry wasn’t like anyone else. There was no one like him in the past, nor would there be anyone like him in the future. He didn’t care what happened to those who were Desecrated. Harry would not die. His Baby would live. Because Harry had him and because Harry was a survivor.

“Don’t do that ever again, Draco.” Harry said with deadly seriousness, still shaking with his fear and anger and worry. “Never again.”

“I promise.” Draco smiled and bent his head to lay a salty kiss on Harry’s lips. Harry kissed him back, chastely, and fainted with exhaustion. Now it was Draco’s turn to sink to the floor under the weight of another’s body. He looked up at Severus with tired eyes. “A little help here, Dad?”

Draco woke the next morning starving. He remembered everything that happened last night, but it was fuzzy. Like a horrible dream. The talk with his mother was even worse, but he suspected that he was just too young to understand. Maybe it had to do with the spell Dumbledore had been telling him and Harry about before the bloody vision that hurt his Baby so badly. In any case, what he did know with one hundred percent clarity was that his Baby might die when the spell was over and he remembered something really, really bad that happened to him and that Draco was determined to prevent that from happening.

“You have wrinkles.” Harry giggled sleepily, bringing up a hand to rub at Draco’s forehead.

“Wrinkles.” Draco sniffed and then grinned. He attacked the smaller boy and tickled him until he begged for mercy. “That’ll teach you to insult a Malfoy!”

“S-s-sorry.” Harry laughed and tried to catch his breath.

“Come on. I’m hungry!” Draco exclaimed and jumped from the bed.

Harry followed more slowly with a happy smile. He wouldn’t ask what happened the night before that upset Draco so badly. He just wanted to forget his friend ever being that broken. But he would keep watch to try and prevent it from ever happening again.

“Hurry up, Baby.” Draco smiled sweetly and Harry picked-up his pace.

“Can we stop?” Draco whined and collapsed back against the couch tiredly. His head pounded. They had been working at Occlumency for hours and it was getting close to bed time.

Severus frowned at the boys, but Harry couldn’t see it. The small brunette was sitting in the blonde’s lap completely blind. That didn’t prevent him from working on Occlumency, however, and Severus had insisted they still practice. Both boys looked tired, but Severus couldn’t stop. He couldn’t let the Harry suffer from a vision like that again. It might cause permanent damage or even kill the child. But before he could snap at them to start again, the door opened and the Wolf came in. They hadn’t seen him for days, not since they had fetched Harry from Dumbledore’s office.

“Moony!” Draco cried out in relief. No way would Father make them practice now.

“Moony?” Harry perked up, excited.

“Hey, cub.” Remus smiled tiredly and came over to collapse next to the boys on the couch. “You alright?”

“Blind, but it should be over soon. Right, Father?”

“Yes.” Severus sat back tiredly and rubbed at his face with his long-fingered hands. “The longest blind spell lasted just over three hours and we’re going on two and a half now. It should be over any minute.”

“How are you, Moony? Where were you?” Draco asked curiously, eyeing the man and his filthy clothes and haggard expression.

“I’ve been bolstering ward with other people to protect places from Voldemort.”

Severus hissed at the use of the Dark Lord’s name, but Draco tilted his head curiously. “Voldemort? Is that the evil guy’s name? I wondered why no one would tell me. It’s embarrassing. How can we get beat by a guy with such a ridiculous name?”

Harry laughed and Severus looked about ready to explode. Remus chuckled and cast a soothing look in Severus’ direction. Though it didn’t calm the man, it did keep him silent. That was progress at least.

“So what are you guys doing this weekend?” He asked, changing the subject away from the war.

“Probably practicing till our brain oozes out of our ears.” Draco muttered and hugged Harry tight in an effort to hide his mutinous expression.

“You have to have a brain before it can ooze anywhere.” Severus sneered playfully. “Why don’t you go take Harry to bed? I’ll be in to tuck you in later.”

Draco acted quickly, afraid his father would change his mind. He jumped to his feet, grabbed Harry’s hand, and practically ran from the room, Harry laughing behind him the whole way.

Remus shook his head and cast a stern look at the man across from him, “You’re not torturing those boys are you, Severus?”

“More like torturing myself.” He smiled back, but that quickly faded into a serious expression. Remus sighed. He knew such a nice look wouldn’t last long on the Potions Master’s face. “What’s going on out there, Wolf?”

So Remus obliged by detailing his work for the Aurors. It took a good twenty minutes. Severus had risen during the recounting and fetched him a glass of Firewhisky. Remus sipped at it gratefully. “Where’s Narcissa?” He thought to ask when he was finished.

“She made one mistake too many.” Severus sighed tiredly and to Remus’ surprise came to sit beside him instead of across from him. “She told Draco that Harry had been Desecrated.” Remus gasped and the glass fell through his fingers. Severus caught it and set it aside. “To understand the concept, the spell bent and he regained his sixteen year old mind back for just a few minutes. You can understand that he was very distraught. Harry, of course, didn’t understand what was going on, still being nine, but he knew that Draco was hurting and got very angry. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m going to have to talk to Albus…”

“What happened?” Remus demanded when the other man trailed off.

“His magic manifested so that we could see it. It was so powerful that the waves it emanated pinned me to the wall despite trying to prevent it. I don’t think he knew what he was doing, but he summoned a wandless Killing Curse.”

“What?” Remus paled. “That’s impossible.”

“Not anymore.” Severus answered grimly. “In any case, Draco stopped him before it got that far. Then they both fainted from exhaustion. I’ve been teaching them Occlumency and that on top of everything else was just too much. When Draco woke up, his child-mind had suppressed the more far-reaching concepts that he had learned the night before. All that’s left is the knowledge that Harry might die when the spell ends and that he will stop that from happening.”

“How will he do that?” Remus asked shakily.

“By demanding it to be so.” Severus sneered and then shrugged. “All that matters to me is that he is no longer despairing.”

Remus sat silently for a while. “Do you think… Do you think Harry will make it?”

“Yes. He will.” Severus answered with certainty.

“How do you know?” Remus demanded, fear and pain in his amber eyes.

Severus held their gaze and whispered, “Because I cannot bare the alternative.”

“And Narcissa?” Remus asked, looking away with a blush.

“Draco sent her away.” Severus stood. “I recommended she not return until Monday and the boys have aged a year. Maybe the extra maturity will keep her son from killing her.”

The weekend passed with no further disturbances. Severus made the boys practice Occlumency for hours everyday, Remus would intervene before Draco’s temper could snap or Harry could collapse, they had meals together, played, and told stories. Harry didn’t have anymore seizures and Severus gave him the last doses of his potions, announcing Harry was healed. All four went to bed Sunday night hoping the next week would be free from disasters.

Why did I choose the name Desecration? It is a play on the use of the term Unforgivables. These curses are unforgivable and so are named such. In my story, rape is even worse than these and therefore I choose a term for it that would express that horror. I chose desecration because rape destroys and befouls the person’s soul and ruins their relationship with their magic, thus killing them.

Will Harry die in the end? No, he won’t die. But it will be close.

Will it be Severus/Remus? Yes, as the votes swung heavily in that favor. I won’t be dismissing Sirius completely though and I warn you now that the end of this chapter has Severus and Remus finally getting together. It is graphic, but I don’t think it goes over the M or R rating.

What about Narcissa? She will be coming back soon. She just needed time to come to terms with everything, but Draco will give her the cold shoulder for a while until he really believes she won’t try and separate or hurt them again. I personally don’t see her as a bad guy. She was just a distraught mother fearing for her child’s life. I mean, Harry is in a bad state and being so bonded to another, even without the whole Voldemort and Desecration thing, is not the most comfortable of notions. Especially to Slytherins who pride their independence and power over others and self-control.

What about Dumbledore? He is going to try and make Harry into his weapon, but he does care about Harry’s overall well being and won’t do anything to severely hurt him. He will be a bad good guy, I guess. I think he will try to get the boys to trust him as much as they trust Severus, but I don’t think he will do anything too drastic as he is afraid of losing the boys’ trust completely.

Chapter Seventeen

Harry woke with a smile. He was really warm and something was softly running down his cheek. Opening his eyes, he smiled as he found Draco propped up beside him smiling. The white blonde curtain of hair was draped over his shoulder and pooling behind and between them. Harry curled his fingers in it sleepily and closed his eyes again.

“Well? Aren’t you going to tell me?” Draco demanded, but Harry could hear the playfulness in his voice and knew his friend wasn’t really mad.

“Maybe.” He smirked and cuddled deeper into the blankets around him.

“Oh. I see how it is.” Draco huffed and flopped down on his back, crossing his arms over his chest as he glared up at the ceiling. “Now I have to think of an appropriate punishment for denying the all-important Lord of the Malfoy Family.”

Harry giggled and slapped his chest playfully, green eyes bright and happy. “Don’t be a prat. There’s not much to say anyway. I remember my cousin being a bully and tons of chores and no friends at school and being put in the cupboard, but Uncle Vernon didn’t hit me once. He’s still afraid my magic will get him if he does it again. Things are going rather well at home.”

Draco turned to face him and with his free arm gently brushed the wild black hair from Harry’s face. “Baby, you know that all that isn’t really okay, right? Even though things are better at home now, doesn’t mean it’s alright or that you should be happy about it.”

“I know, Ray.” Harry promised. “Really. I do know that now. But why think about it? I’m here with you and Dad and Moony. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

Draco smiled and kissed his friend chastely before getting up out of bed. “Maybe we can go flying. I can’t wait to show you! I found this great Quidditch book when Mother took me away and I’ve forgotten to show it to you with everything that’s going on, but we’ll have time today. If we team up, we could even talk Dad into letting us go out.”

“We’d have a better chance if we wait for whenever Dad goes back to work and ask Moony then.” Harry suggested as he pulled on the clothes Draco handed to him.

“Good idea.” Draco smiled mischievously. That melted into true amusement as he looked over at his smaller friend. “You hardly need a sizing charm on these clothes, but I can barely get them on.”

“That’s cause you’re getting fat.” Harry sniffed.

“Am not! You’re just too skinny!” Draco protested, outraged.

Harry laughed and ran from the room. Draco followed, yelling threats, though his sparkling eyes told anyone who cared to look that he wasn’t really angry. He was too happy to be upset. It was hard to be angry when his Harry was filling him with genuine good humor. This was how Harry should always feel.

“What are you two up to?” Remus asked as he smiled down at the boy who crashed into him.

He lifted Harry into his lap and had to hide a frown at how light and small Harry still was. Draco skidded to a stop and glared up at them with mock fury. The blonde had grown, Remus noticed, and subtly cast a sizing charm on the little Lord. The blonde flashed a quick grin then returned to berating the smaller boy in his lap. Harry tried to look remorseful and properly chastised, but was having a hard time stifling his giggles behind his hands.

Severus came to the kitchen table and ran his eyes over the scene. Harry was sitting in Remus’ lap and Draco was giving a sound scolding to the brunette. Remus was smiling at Draco and giving reproachful glances to Harry at the same time. Eventually, Draco ran out of steam and self-control and burst out laughing. Harry broke down too and Remus looked over at him with exasperated, joyful eyes.

“They’re in a mood this morning.” The Wolf offered as an explanation.

“I can see that.” Severus sighed and took his seat. “I think I’m grateful that I must return to class, dealing with those two when they’re like this is exhausting.”

“You are?” Remus said and was surprised at the disappointment he heard in his own voice. He blushed and looked down at his food.

Severus felt warmth twist in his chest at the other man’s reaction, but pushed it away. “Yes. Professor Farris will be on call so that he will be here when needed, but the Headmaster doesn’t want me missing more classes than I have to.” The boys exchanged a glance and he narrowed his eyes at them. “That doesn’t mean you get to slack off on your work. You will do as Remus says, and if I hear otherwise, I will be severely disappointed.”

Harry looked at him with wide, solemn eyes, but Draco only smiled innocently and said, “Yes, Father.” Remus smiled and was almost able to hide his amusement from the dark-eyed man across from him, but Severus was too observant.

“I mean it, Wolf. Don’t let these boys play all day.” He said sternly.

“I won’t, Severus.” Remus shook his head, not bothering to hide his smile this time. “We’ll be good. Promise.”

Severus fought the blush from his cheeks and nodded sharply. These three were going to be the death of him.

Remus was watching Harry work on his science and math. Draco was in the corner studying from one of his own books. He, not being a pureblood let alone Head of a Family, had no idea what the blonde should be studying so he left Draco to his own devices, which seemed to suit the small Lord Malfoy well. He frowned as he remembered the trip to the infirmary that morning so that Poppy could make sure there had been no complications.

Poppy had told him that the damage to Harry had been corrected as much as it could be and that the child would continue to get better as time passed, but Harry would still grow fatigued faster than normal and he’d have to let the boy take naps when this happened. She merely shook her head when he questioned her about the brunette’s petite stature.

“I can’t correct that. Severus and I agree that Harry is following his original growth rate. Nothing can be done.”

That hadn’t made him happy at all. Next to the tall, strong, and healthy Draco, Harry’s small size was disheartening and with every year they aged it was only growing more apparent. It was infuriating, especially since he knew what made Harry this way. He growled just thinking about it. If he EVER ran into those godforsaken Dursleys…

“Moony?” Harry asked, looking up from his worksheet.

Remus smiled and ruffled his soft hair. “You’re doing well, Harry. Keep it up. You’re almost done.”

The boy smiled and bent back to work. He looked over and saw that Draco was watching him knowingly. Remus shifted uncomfortably under that stare and returned to his thoughts. Poppy had marked down that Harry stood at only four feet three inches and weighed a measly sixty-nine pounds. Draco was only three inches short of five foot and weighed ninety-seven and a half pounds.

Despite what Poppy said, he had offered to stop at the kitchens after the exam to get the boys some food, but they both denied being hungry. Remus noticed Draco had waited to say anything until Harry had. He suspected the blonde was just as eager to get some weight on Harry as he was. That was a relief. If anyone was going to get Harry to do something he didn’t want to, it would be the young Lord Malfoy.

He smiled fondly down at Harry. He was really glad at the boy’s strong personality finally emerging. When he sent Draco a questioning glance about Harry’s confidence and cheerfulness, the blonde had answered that he wasn’t hit at home anymore. Remus was astounded at how much that made a difference. He was sure he’d have crumpled under half as much way before now. He knew he would never have made it against the abuse brought down on him due to his own curse if it hadn’t been for his mother loving and supporting him. And Harry had no one until now.

“I’m done, Moony.” Harry held up his work proudly.

“Good job. Let me check it over for you.” He took the paper. Harry beamed with joy when he handed it back with none marked wrong.

“I’m tired of working.” Draco said as he stretched. Remus looked up at him suspiciously. “Moony, can we go out flying?”

“You know we can’t. It isn’t safe.” He said sadly as he shook his head.

“We’ve been at this for hours.” Draco whined.

“Only two.” Remus laughed.

“I’d really like to go outside.” Harry said softly, looking up at his friend through his eye-lashes shyly.

“Ooooh, no fair.” Remus mock moaned and covered his eyes. “You know I can’t.”

“Please, Moony!” Draco came over and added his own pleading look. “We need some exercise and lunch is in a few hours. It’s not like we’d be out long.”

Remus was seriously starting to cave and scrambled for some ideas. Finally he hit on just the thing. “I know just what to do. Come on.”

“Where are we going?” Neville asked as he followed after Ron. They had been in Charms when the redhead had gotten his and Hermione’s attention and said to follow him. Hermione wouldn’t leave the class early, but Neville had gone along. What was the last half-hour anyway?

“The Room of Requirement.” Ron answered.

“Why? And who were you writing too?”

“Crabbe and Goyle, and you’ll see.” He smiled.

“Harry and Draco are out of the dungeons?” Neville perked up. “We should get Ginny.”

“No.” Ron shook his head. “We can’t draw too much attention to ourselves or we’ll get in trouble.”

Neville just looked at him doubtfully. They reached the right corridor and found Crabbe, Goyle, and Parkinson walked toward them from the other side. Ron scowled, “I thought I said to keep this secret?”

“We had a free period and she followed us.” Crabbe shrugged dumbly.

“What’s happened?” Goyle asked.

Ron crossed his arms and refused to speak. Neville stood nervously beside him.

“Oh, come on.” Pansy huffed and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “What’s it gonna hurt if I know?”

“Everything. I’m not telling you anything, Snake. So get lost. I’m sure these two can tell you about it all later.”

“Ron…” Neville warned as he watched the girl’s eyes light with fury.

“No. It’s alright, Longbottom.” She hissed. “I can take care of myself.”

With that, she turned and stomped away. Crabbe and Goyle exchanged a look and adopted grateful expressions. Ron preened at that and made his way over to a blank wall. Neville had seen the brief spark of intelligence though and he hung back so he could watch the two Slytherin Sixth Years more closely.

“They’re in here.” The redhead explained as he paced in front of the wall.

The blondes were about to say something about that when a door appeared and Ron opened it. Their mouths shut with a snap and Ron smirked at them, gesturing grandly for them to enter first. Neville followed and shook his head as he passed his friend. Ron ignored him and shut the door.

The room looked like a grassy field. There were only four trees and they marked out the rooms boundaries (which was as large as the room could get; about 300 square feet), making the rest of the sight an illusion. But the sun in the blue sky felt real and the warm wind shifted their hair and clothes. Above them, they heard laughter and looked up to see Draco, Harry, and Professor Remus flying on brooms.

“Greg! Vince!” The blonde waved at seeing them. “Come on up! We could put on a mini-game!”

“Don’t have a broom!” Crabbe yelled back.

“Just wish for one.” Ron told them and snickered at the dumbfounded looks they sent his way when a broom just appeared in his hand. With a whoop of joy, he entered the sky. Neville followed next, but going significantly slower.

Harry was better with the whole fear-of-strangers thing, but they still made him uncomfortable and shy. Therefore he flew up to the blonde and asked quietly if he could be on his team.

Draco took one hand from his broom and wrapped it around his shoulders, “Of course you’re on my team.”

“I’ll be referee.” Remus offered. “Neville, Ron, and Gregory on one team. Draco, Harry, and Vincent on the other.”

They all agreed and the game began. The teams were surprisingly well-matched. Harry had never (in his memory) flown before, but Neville was hardly any better. Draco was almost as good as Ron and Greg and Vince were evenly matched. Still, Draco’s team was loosing half-an-hour later. Harry was panting over his broom and his hands had begun to tremble. Draco called a time-out and flew over to him.

“I think I need a break.” Harry smiled tentatively. He was sorry for stopping their fun, but he knew pushing himself until he fell would make Draco a thousand times more upset. The blonde nodded easy agreement and Harry looked around wistfully. “I don’t really want to go in yet, though.”

“Alright.” Draco nodded and gestured Remus over. The amber-eyed man came obediently. “Will you take Harry’s place on the team? He needs a few minutes to rest.”

“Maybe we should go in.” The man frowned worriedly.

“It’s doing him good to be here.” Draco argued. “Lying out on the grass will be peaceful and he will get some rest.”

“Alright, but let us know if you want to go in.” Remus conceded.

“I will, Moony. Promise.” Harry hugged him and flew down to the ground.

“I can go down with him.” Neville offered when he saw his de-aged friend leave the game.

“No. Remus will take his place.” Draco waved the offer away. “Now come on! I’m gonna win now!”

“In your dreams, Malfoy!” Ron laughed and did a competitive little turn in the air.

The game continued and Draco’s team began to make a come-back. Harry smiled as he listened to Draco’s gleeful triumph after every score and his barked orders to the other players. His eyes drooped closed and soon he was fast asleep.

“Can I help you, Headmaster?” Severus asked as he entered Dumbledore’s office.

“I just thought it would be nice to have a private lunch so we could discuss some things.” The old man smiled with bright twinkling eyes. He gestured for the other man to have a seat and waved his hand so that his desk was cleared off. Another wave brought plates of food. Severus hesitated, but in the end took the seat. “I began to teach the boys how to duel. They were coming along nicely. I think it would be a good idea to continue to practice. Say, after your last class you can bring them up here?”

“You taught them to duel?” Severus hadn’t been told this, though he couldn’t blame Draco for that. He had been preoccupied with Harry’s illness and the vision.

“I did.” Dumbledore nodded and took a bite of his sandwich. Severus followed his lead. “Harry is remarkably strong. He did all the spells wandlessly and held his own against Draco when the little Lord was armed.”

“Wandless.” Severus repeated, though he wasn’t surprised after what he had seen him almost do to Narcissa. The boy was incredibly strong. Stronger than he remembered him being before the spell de-aged him.

“Yes. I’ve been thinking about that.” Dumbledore said thoughtfully.

Severus jumped. He hadn’t realized he had spoken out-loud. He narrowed his eyes, certain he hadn’t. With a sneer, he strengthened his mental barriers. Subtle, snooping, conniving old man, he thought, confident the man couldn’t hear his surface thoughts anymore.

“I think that ten years with the Dursleys made Harry fear his magic in such a way that he bound it to him and locked a huge portion of it away. He couldn’t lock all of it away of course and that was what leaked and did his accidental magic.” He leaned back with a smile. “Now that he has returned to those years and was guided into respecting and priding his magical ability, he never locked it away. All his magic is free now. This could be the power that the Dark Lord knows not.”

Severus tensed. Damn that prophecy. Damn the Dark Lord. And double damn Albus Dumbledore. “Sir, he is a child. I stick by the belief that it is foolish to expect a child to save us.”

“And I tell you again that Harry will not be fighting alone, but we can’t change his destiny. We can only prepare him for it and protect him as much as we can.” Dumbledore sighed. “You will bring him up for lessons?”

It wasn’t really a question and Severus nodded. Besides, the old man had said to bring the boys up when he was done with his classes. At least he’d be in the room if anything happened. And he did want Harry and Draco to be able to defend themselves. Dumbledore needed to be watched, but if he could teach the boys how to survive than Severus wasn’t going to stand in the way.

Harry was still asleep when the Quidditch game came to an end and Draco said he was hungry. The blonde said goodbye to his Slytherin friends and smiled superiorly at the defeated redhead. Neville had congratulated him, so he deemed it better of him not to rub the chubby boy’s face in his defeat as he was doing to the fuming redhead.

Yes. It had been a good day. He followed Remus back down to the dungeons under the Invisibility Cloak while the werewolf cradled the sleeping Harry in his arms. They got back down to the dungeons and Harry woke to eat. He didn’t wake up all the way until Draco suggested redecorating the playroom. It was too baby-ish, he complained. Remus agreed, laughing, and the boys had a ball changing the colors of the room and getting rid of old toys that no longer interested them.

By the time Severus got back, the room had a ceiling and walls that reflected the outside weather. Men and woman on brooms and randomly colored robes flew around playing Quidditch. The boys liked to run around trying to tag certain figures and discussing the moves watched them perform. The carpet was still a rich, grass green.

The toy chest was still there, but was stripped of paint, leaving behind its natural wood color. Their favorite toys were put up in it, but over half had been given to Remus to get rid of. Two matching desks for their school work sat side-by-side and an art easel stood in the corner for Harry who requested lessons. Draco preferred music and had spelled box to play the most popular music whenever he tapped it with his wand. (Well, tap it with Harry’s wand, really. He still hadn’t been given his old one and Harry’s worked better than perfectly for him anyways.)

“Well, well.” Severus smiled as he looked around the room.

“Do you like it?” Harry asked, running up for a hug.

Severus bent and easily lifted him up onto his hip. “I do. You two are growing up with quite the sophisticated tastes.”

“Of course we are.” Draco sniffed haughtily and crossed his arms.

Harry giggled and Remus laughed. Draco glared at them both and stalked elegantly from the room. Severus followed him to the dinning table with a smile. He placed Harry in his chair and went to sit in his own. Once they were all seated, food appeared on their table.

“Is Mother coming?” Draco asked, unconcerned.

“Do you wish to see her? I told her I’d contact her when you were ready.” Severus answered.

“Not yet, then.” He answered and served himself.

“After dinner, the Headmaster would like to continue teaching you to duel, if that is alright?” He looked at Harry. “If you are tired, I can reschedule.”

“I’m fine.” Harry smiled. “I took a nap today after flying.”

“Flying?” Severus raised an eyebrow and stared coolly at the werewolf across from him. Remus blushed and looked at his plate.

“We didn’t go outside!” Harry rushed to inform him. “Moony didn’t do anything bad!”

“Then where did you fly? Certainly not in here.” Severus drawled.

“We went to a magic room that grants you what you wish.” Draco answered. “And stop looking like that. We really needed it and look at Harry. He’s never looked better!”

It was true. The boy had color in his face and his eyes were free of shadows for the first time in many weeks. Severus conceded, but couldn’t give in gracefully and decided to bicker with the young Lord for several more minutes. Harry could tell his father wasn’t mad anymore and smiled over at Remus who winked back. Giggling, he finished his dinner to the sounds of the “aristocratic discussion” as Draco called it. He decided he really loved his family.

Harry and Draco learned spells and dueled for three hours. Severus had wanted to call a halt twice, but the headmaster talked him out of it. Severus regretted retreating and promised to put his foot down next time when Harry fell asleep twice in the bath. Draco was tired too, but had managed to remain awake until his head hit the pillow.

He sighed as he tucked the boys in. Guess they wouldn’t need a bedtime story. He was just glad he wouldn’t have to grade the written tests or homework for his Potions classes and could go straight to bed himself. Dumbledore had told Farris that was his job while he remained on staff. He went to the sitting room and poured himself a drink. Remus was sitting on the couch by the fire, a book in his lap.

“How did it go? Were either of them injured?” He asked.

“No. They did really well. Draco is only a bit more powerful than Harry and he picks up spells faster. I think that’s because he half-remembers them and Harry is learning for the first time.” Severus sat by the amber-eyed man instead of across from him. He smirked inwardly when the Wolf didn’t shift to put more distance between them. He sighed and leaned back, letting his hair fall away from his face.

“Why is Draco stronger?” Remus asked softly. He didn’t want to disturb the dark-eyed man’s rest.

“He is equipped with a wand, and Harry’s wand at that.” Severus took a sip. “Harry may never need to use it again. Though it could come in handy. It is the brother to the Dark Lord’s.”

“I wish you wouldn’t say that.” Remus’ eyes bore into the other’s face. The dark eyes opened and stared back. “I hate hearing that name from you.”

“What would you prefer?” Severus asked softly, without a sneer.

Remus blushed at hearing the smooth, silky voice, but didn’t turn his eyes away. “Say Voldemort or, if that is impossible, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who. Harry believes that to refuse to say his name makes Voldemort more powerful.”

“That’s the Headmaster talking.” Severus sneered and looked into the fire. “In general, that belief is true, but in my case… I can’t say his name without causing myself pain.”

“Severus.” Remus reached out for his hand, offering comfort. Severus let him. “I can’t even imagine… the strength it took to turn your back… and offer yourself as a sacrifice in order to help us defeat this madman.”

“No you don’t.” He said softly. “But I don’t expect you to understand, Remus.”

The werewolf’s breath caught at hearing his name come out of the other’s mouth so easily. His hand tightened around Severus’ and a surprisingly gentle smile spread across the man’s thin lips. “I think we’ve come far enough to use our names with each other. Though I will always think of you as a Wolf.”

Remus flinched and tried to yank his hand away, but Severus wouldn’t let it go.

“I use to be afraid of what that meant. And that was the root of my animosity toward you. I can admit that now.” He leaned closer. “I can also admit that the fear has turned into respect. As much as you can’t understand the road I’ve walked, I can’t understand yours.”

Remus stared deep into the other’s eyes and felt his heart begin to beat fiercely. He understood. He understood that Severus Snape saw the strength he possessed to continue passed everything he had endured and he knew that he returned that respect completely. But he wasn’t sure he could give more than that. Give that extra bit more that he saw in those dark bottomless eyes. He smiled. It was a painful expression. Of all the people he had thought himself in danger of seeing that expression from Severus Snape wasn’t one of them. He stood and walked quickly to the fire, wrapping his arms around himself as laughing blue eyes and wild black hair filled his mind’s eye.

Severus watched his back for a minute. Calming himself as the embarrassment, desire, rejection, and anger slowly gave way and he took control of himself once again. What was he thinking? How could he say all that… sentimental drivel! It wasn’t like he wanted anything from this… man-beast… in front of him. He was just tired! Pretending to have a child was breaking him apart; turning him into someone he wasn’t.

He stood and made his way to his bedroom. Grimly, he thought he wouldn’t have to cope with all these new weaknesses for much longer. Once Harry remembers… Once that happened… He’d be a father no more. Harry would never want him. Closing his eyes against unwelcome pain, he pushed open his door. Hating himself, uncertain, angry…. A hand on his arm halted his progress and his eyes snapped open.

“Severus, don’t.” Remus pleaded in a whisper. “I know… I know what it feels like to be afraid of losing everyone you love. I know what it feels like to be absolutely alone, and I know the fear of opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to loss once again. I know because I’ve been in both positions. I… I lost everyone. I lost my friends, my Pack, my cub. I wandered alone for years. Then Harry came to Hogwarts and I followed. Sirius came back to me and… and we became lovers. He was… He was my first. Do you understand? He wasn’t interested in men, but that filthy prison shattered him and we needed each other to heal… And then I lost him. He’s never coming back and if it weren’t for Harry… If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing here. Do you know why?”

Severus could say nothing. He was trapped in the other man’s passionate and pained, tearful amber eyes.

“Because… because I will not survive being alone again. Not after truly understanding what it means to have a family and a lover. It is more unbearable to be alone than it is to live with the fear of losing the ones you do have. So… please… please don’t lock yourself away again now that you’ve found something to fear losing. Have faith that Harry will stick with you and don’t push him away thinking you’ll be better and safer alone. Please, trust me when I say that you will only find that you’ve made everything worse.”

Severus looked away. He couldn’t. He couldn’t admit to needing anything, let alone needing someone. He cared for Harry, but Harry needed him more than he needed Harry (or at least that’s what he told himself). But this sudden confusion surrounding this other man couldn’t be explained away or given excuses. He wouldn’t let himself be made vulnerable.

He pulled his arm out of the other man’s grip and shut the door. It wasn’t like he had proposed anything. The Wolf had taken everything out of proportion. He cared nothing about him or his past with the mangy mutt. He was being friendly for Harry’s sake nothing more. That speech was useless and unnecessary. With a deep frown, he gulped down a sleeping potion and collapsed into bed.

Outside his door, Remus Lupin sat heavily on the couch and cried into his hands. He felt the connection that was growing between them and, just like Severus, he was fighting it. He was fighting it because his first love still haunted his mind and heart, and he didn’t think he could love like that again. He wasn’t sure if that would be fair to his second partner or to Sirius. But he believed what he said that being alone was worse. He wanted a companion to care for, protect, and support. Confused, lonely, and mourning the loss of his friends and lover, he cried himself to sleep.

The week passed quickly due to the happiness that surrounded it. Harry and Draco worked on their Occlumency and academic studies in the morning after breakfast. Then they went flying after lunch and only came back to the room when Severus’ classes finished. Different Gryffindors and Slytherins always met up with them. Draco preferred his Slytherin friends, but was growing fond of Ginny and Neville. Ron and Hermione were annoying and he didn’t like the way they sometimes stared at Harry.

Harry’s opinion ran really close to his blonde friend’s, except he didn’t like Pansy all that much. She was too clingy and argumentative, and her voice was very like Petunia’s. Everyday he had to stop flying so that he could take a two hour nap and always woke back in their quarters when their father got back and had dinner.

Dueling and magic lessons came after that and the boys had great fun, especially when Dumbledore let them team up against him instead of against each other. No matter what anyone else said, they just couldn’t put their all into a fight against each other. What if they accidentally got hurt? The thought was too horrible for both of them and they only threw mild curses and charms at each other. Their father never let them get as tired as they had the first night, but Harry still fell asleep almost as soon as he was in bed. Draco faired better and was able to stay up for a story.

But the boys were the only ones blissfully happy. Severus and Remus walked around tense and tried hard to avoid each other as much as they could. It wasn’t very hard during the day since they were busy with the boys and doing separate things, but at night it was hard to escape the other’s company. Severus could only handle a few minutes of this before fleeing to his room and his sleeping potions. Remus didn’t cry at night again, but he often stayed up staring into the fire pensively until he was pulled into troubled dreams. Neither knew how to stop the attraction that had formed between them, nor had the strength to act on it.

Saturday morning came and the boys got dressed and went to breakfast as they did every morning. Their father and Remus were already seated and this made the boys suspicious. Usually their father didn’t come to breakfast till later. Harry smiled and hugged them both before taking his seat, while Draco just gave them good-morning.

“Since I don’t have classes today, I’ll be staying with you.” Severus began as the food appeared.

“You mean you don’t have to do homework?” Harry asked excitedly. He loved spending time with his father and on the weekends he usually had to take time out to grade things and stuff.

“No. I don’t have homework.” Severus smiled. “Professor Farris is doing it for me.”

Draco snickered, “Father, I thought cheating is bad.”

“Only when you are caught. And I’m not cheating.” Severus glared.

“What are we going to do today?” Harry interrupted.

“I’d like to talk to you about things you will remember come Sunday night.” Severus answered seriously.

“I’m coming too!” Draco said immediately, not liking the implication that he wasn’t invited.

“You may come, but I will want to talk to Harry privately later.” Severus said sternly.

Draco pouted, but let it be.

The boys were curled up against their father’s side on the couch in the sitting room. Remus had excused himself, but Severus stopped him. Severus told himself he had requested the Wolf to stay only because he had a right to know what Harry did and had nothing to do with needing support. He tightened his arms around Harry and avoided looking at the man across from him. Would this weekend be the last? Would Harry’s First Year be enough to renew the boy’s hatred for him?

“Father?” Draco asked curiously. “Aren’t you going to start the story?”

Severus nodded. “As you know, you will turn eleven Sunday night and when you wake up you will remember everything that happened to you during your eleventh year. As Draco may know, eleven is a special age in which you get invited to go to a magical school to learn all about your abilities and gifts.”

“But we’ve already started learning.” Harry questioned.

“That is because you two are special.” Remus smiled at him.

“We know that much already.” Draco sneered playfully. Harry hit him with a giggle.

“I feel that it would be wise to prepare you for your next set of memories.” Severus continued, ignoring them. “I’m afraid they are going to be very surprising, Harry.”

“What do you mean? Do I not get to go to school? Do I stay with the Dursley’s?” Harry asked wide-eyed.

“No. You come to school, but you also find out the truth about your past.” Severus sighed. “Remus told you that your parents were killed, but wouldn’t answer you when you asked by whom. I’m going to answer that question now.”

Harry nodded, tears filling his eyes. Draco reached across his father and clasped the small boy’s hand in his own. Harry squeezed it tight, gratefully. Remus often told them about Harry’s first parents, to the point where the two boys (especially Harry) almost felt like they knew them. Being reminded of their horrible deaths wasn’t going to be easy, but Harry really did want to know so he steeled himself and looked up at his father unflinchingly.

“Harry, your mother and father were fighting in a war against very bad people. The evil man in the visions you and Draco see is the leader of those bad people and when you were a baby you hurt the bad man very badly. That makes you very special. They gave you the title The-Boy-Who-Lived and for ten years the Dark Lord was gone and we had peace. But the Dark Lord wasn’t truly dead and he started trying to make himself a never-dying body when you turned eleven. Do you understand so far?”

The green-eyed child was clinging to his father tightly, his eyes wide and horrified, but very clearly aware. He did have questions, but his throat was too tight to ask them. Draco swallowed hard. He had known this story, but it was different hearing his father tell it and having his baby’s sharp emotions clawing at his chest. But he knew what Harry needed to know and would be strong and ask those questions for him.

“How did Harry beat him? How did his parents die?”

Severus looked at him questioningly. He wanted Harry to ask, but the look on Draco’s face told him not to push. “There are three very Unforgivable curses. One causes great pain; one takes over the mind of the victim leaving them helpless and at the spell-caster’s mercy; the last Unforgivable kills the person instantly. It is called the Killing Curse. The Dark Lord used it on both James and Lily Potter. He then turned to use it on Harry, but it bounced off of him and hit the Dark Lord, destroying his body, leaving behind the lightning shaped scar.”

Harry buried his face into his father’s chest and cried. Draco huddled closer and shivered as silent tears ran down his cheeks. Remus couldn’t stand it and threw himself onto the floor at Severus’ feet so that he could reach both boys. He rubbed their backs and soothed their hair as he crooned to them. Severus held tightly to the boys and watched him through blank eyes that hid his internal pain. Eventually, Harry calmed and Remus climbed up onto the couch beside him.

“What happened after I found this out?” The green-eyed child asked tiredly, looking back up at his father.

“You were taken from the Dursleys and found out about your fame and a little about your parents. You came to the Wizarding World and everyone was in awe of you. They wanted photos and to stare and talk to you. A lot of people thought you were a spoiled and pampered hero.” Severus took a deep breath. “I was a spy for Dumbledore. I was once a Death Eater, but I turned away from them and Dumbledore asked me to continue so that I could bring him information that saved many people. It was very hard, but I agreed because I needed to atone for all the very bad things I did….

“Because of this, I wasn’t allowed to befriend you. You were my Master’s enemy and we knew the Dark Lord would be back eventually. I had to create an alibi so that the Dark Lord would accept me back and my animosity toward you was that key. But I took it farther than I had to because I dislike arrogance and was certain you would be arrogant because of your first father and because of your celebrity status. I said cruel things to you and I treated you unfairly.”

“I think I remember that.” Draco said slowly. “But I also remember you saving Harry. He almost fell from his broom, didn’t he? But you saved him? I remember being disappointed. I wanted Harry to get hurt. I was mad at him for refusing to be my friend. I didn’t understand why he was being mean to me so I was mean back.” He looked over at the shocked Harry. “I don’t think you liked us all that much.”

“I… I didn’t like you? You were mean to me?” Harry asked in a small voice.

“That’s why I wanted to tell you before you remember.” Severus grabbed the boy and pulled him into his lap and held him to his chest. “I want you to know that we care for each other and we’re a family. What you are about to remember is really the past even though it won’t feel that way to you at first. Things have changed between us as we came to understand the truths that we hid from each other. These past weeks weren’t a lie, Harry. This is the truth now and our relationship is stronger because it overcame so much.”

“I love you, Baby.” Draco wrapped himself around him. “I’m really sorry for what I did. I just wanted you to notice me and be sorry for sending me away and choosing the side of someone who hates me. That redhead, I think. He hated me and always has and you wanted to be his friend and not mine. But that doesn’t mean what I did was okay, because it is never okay to hurt you. I was very wrong. I’m sorry, Baby. Don’t hate me again! Please, don’t hate me!”

Harry launched himself out of his father’s arms and held Draco tight. “I don’t hate you! I could never hate you, Ray! Don’t cry. Please. I’m sorry I didn’t choose you, but it’ll be alright. I love you and Daddy and Moony and no matter what I remember I won’t forget how much you took care of me and loved me and saved me from the Dursleys.”

Severus held the crying children as he closed his eyes tight. He hoped Harry was right, but he couldn’t really bring himself to believe it. He remembered quite clearly the things he said and did to Harry and knowing the truth to how he grew up made his actions all the more horrific. It didn’t matter that he was there to stop Quirrell from killing the boy. That did nothing to excuse his malicious hatred for the innocent child he was hurting.

“Daddy?” Harry asked softly, still wrapped in both Draco’s and Severus’ arms. “You said… you said you were mean because I was a celebrity and you didn’t know that the Dursleys were mean, but you said that it was cause of my first father, too. What did you mean?”

Remus looked to the dark-eyed man and knew Severus wouldn’t be able to answer. He leaned over and smiled sadly into Harry’s face. “Your first father went to school with Severus. He was in the same grade, but they were in different Houses. Hogwarts has four Houses and Gryffindor and Slytherin have the biggest rivalry. They always want to beat the other really, really badly. So James and his friends, including me and Sirius, picked on the Slytherins, especially Severus because he was the smallest and he never fought back. Severus would always get his revenge after we made fun of him or pranked him, and wouldn’t do anything while we were being mean. That made him seem like an easy target.”

“We didn’t like each other.” Severus interrupted harshly. He didn’t want to talk about this and he didn’t want Harry to know the extent of that hatred. “We both did things that made each other mad and we were… rivals. I thought you would be like your father because you look so much like him. So I lashed out in petty anger.”

“My first father hurt you lots?” Harry wouldn’t let it go and his large eyes filled with more tears.

“We were children and being stupid.” He brushed Harry’s tears away. “Don’t think I am an innocent victim. I wasn’t. And I hurt your father too. And worse, I hurt you, Harry. I’m very regretful of that now, but that isn’t going to change what you are going to remember. I wanted you to know all this and to know that I am sorry.”

Harry nodded and bit his lip. “You… you love me now, right, Daddy?”

“I do. You are my son. Even if you don’t want me to be your father, I will always see you as my child.” Severus stood and cleared his throat, obviously done with the emotional subjects. Harry reached up for him with a teary smile and he lifted the small child onto his hip. “Let’s go flying for a bit. You two said you wanted to show me.”

“Yes.” Draco forced a smile and got to his feet. “You should see us race and Harry is really good at catching the snitch!”

Remus followed after, doing his best to help Draco cover up the awkward moment and to make them all forget what could possibly come to happen Sunday night.

The weekend passed and no one brought up the topic of the returning memories again. Instead they spent every moment they could together having fun. They played, flied, painted, danced, and ate their favorite meals. Severus made them practice Occlumency and dueling, but only for a couple hours. Severus tucked them in every night and read them bed time stories. It was the best weekend yet.

“Baby? Are you awake?” Draco whispered. Their father had left and both were suppose to be sleeping. But the blonde was too afraid of what the morning might bring and couldn’t sleep.

“Yeah?” Harry answered groggily and turned over to face his friend.

“I… I’m… well, don’t… Don’t hate me tomorrow, okay?” He stumbled awkwardly.

Harry smiled and moved forward to kiss him softly. “I promise, Ray. I won’t hate you.”

Draco nodded and hugged the smaller boy. “Say it again?”

“I love you, Ray, and I will never ever hate you, no matter what I remember. I know who you are now and I won’t forget that when I remember who you were then. Better?” He laughed.

“Yeah.” Draco laughed with him. “It’s a little better now.”

“Good.” Harry’s eyes closed and he began to relax.

“Baby, if you do get mad or hate me, will you talk to me about it and give me another chance?” He whispered.

“Ummhmm.” Harry murmured with a slight nod, already almost asleep.

“Goodnight, Harry. I love you too.” And Draco finally closed his eyes.

Severus stood by the fire and was on his third drink. Remus had been called away to Dumbledore’s office as he was tucking the boys in and he was glad for the time alone. He was so deep in thought he didn’t realize the time passing or that Remus had returned. The werewolf silently watched the man as he stood somberly in front of the fire, drinking a warm and rich alcoholic drink. His senses could smell the sorrow, the fear, the longing rolling off the other man.

Remus knew pain. Knew it intimately and carried its terrible burden wherever he went. Life was a battle for him and it always had been. No one had ever understood that. His friends hadn’t and Sirius had only just begun to realize just how terrible and difficult it was to just keep moving. But this man before him knew. He knew all the types of pain just as closely as Remus did. Full understanding hit the werewolf then. He was looking at the only man in the world who could possibly ever understand just what it was like to have to battle for every smile and brief happiness granted to them.

He truly understood for the first time that Severus’ life had been hard from the very beginning and every year made it even more difficult. And Remus felt his heart constrict at the strength and beauty displayed in Severus’ survival. The Potions Master had never submitted except for the brief period in his life when he had worn the Dark Mark willingly and later threw himself at Dumbledore’s feet for mercy. This man had known pain and torment of a kind and Remus was no longer alone with the knowledge of suffering and the crueler reality of the world.

Severus, tall and darkly handsome, who had a bright and burning darkness in him that refused to bend again, was now starting to break at the thought of losing the only person he had ever loved. Worse, Harry was possible the only person who had ever loved him back. Remus wanted with all his heart to sooth that pain, to comfort the beautiful man before him. He wanted to let him know he wasn’t as filthy as he imagined and that he didn’t have to stand so ridged and alone any more. That it was okay to soften and allow himself to feel again and to be happy.

Unknown to him, Remus’ eyes began to shift to gold. It was less than a week to the full moon and the smell of the man not more than five feet from him was intoxicating. It was spicy and powerful and sharp. He knew that he could smooth those edges, could taste the sweet that the bitterness hid. He just had to take it, just had to reach out.

Severus turned, too drunk to be surprised when he came face-to-face with the Wolf. He opened his mouth to say something and was shoved firmly against the wall, a mouth on his, a tongue sliding against his, a gentle growl vibrating from the other man’s chest against his own. His warm drunkenness evaporated instantly as his heart began to race as adrenaline swamped his veins.

Remus was his height exactly, but was several inches smaller in waist and shoulders, and he was shocked to find out just how strong the other man’s slender body was. There were steel-strong muscles under that soft golden skin. Hungry gold eyes stared into his own and for a brief moment he felt fear and then he felt relief. Relief that this man who had bourn all his burdens without destroying his compassion and gently heart wasn’t afraid to be dirtied by touching him, nor was he afraid of the darkness he contained. Relief that the pain and absurd fear over Harry was retreating as fire and pleasure sparked along his senses.

Two strong hands grabbed his hips and held them still as the werewolf leaned against him, thrusting once against him, viciously, before stilling. The kiss turned gentle when he didn’t fight back or try to escape. Honey brown hair fell against Severus’ cheeks and neck and he itched to wind his fingers through it, to touch it, but he couldn’t allow himself that and his arms remained limp by his side.

The werewolf’s eyes became molten as he pulled his mouth away. Severus took a deep breath, trying to stop himself from panting. But he couldn’t stop the gasp as the warm mouth returned, this time to lick and suck at his neck. He moaned and his hands finally came up to wrap around the man’s hips, pulling him against him to give evidence of his growing desire.


Remus’ voice had gone low and hoarse, a slight growl remaining. Severus looked into the golden eyes. His mind reached out, loosened by the alcohol and the desire saturating his mind. Respect, lust, and remembered pain hit him. Remus’ mind pressed into his awareness and he was awed by the torment contained within the gentle loving mind. Pain controlled and soothed and embraced instead of chained and conquered as he had done.

He smiled grimly. It wasn’t love that brought them together. It wasn’t lust or desire for each other’s body. It was the need to exist beyond harsh reality, the desire for relief, and the need to share strength so that survival is no longer so tedious. He knew he wasn’t quite as sober as he thought he was. He knew he would most likely regret going farther than they had. He knew he was backing himself into a corner where he’d either have to break or adapt. But he couldn’t push away the burning heat of the other man’s mind or his hard powerful body. He couldn’t dredge up the self-denial necessary to refuse himself the pleasure and promise awakening along his every nerve.


He drew the name out, slowly spilling it from his lips, caressing it; his head tilted to the side, his body shifted. Remus reacted to the seduction by clamping his teeth on the pale skin offered up to him while his hands tore open the man’s outer robes. They fell from Severus’ shoulders and soon his shirt was being unbuttoned.

Severus gasped and slowly rubbed his hips against the Wolf’s. Remus growled and began licking and kissing, his hands exploring the exposed chest before his mouth could do the same. Severus’ hands buried themselves in the soft graying hair tugging and pulling as he let his passion rise as Remus’ hot, wet mouth awakened him.

They were kissing again and this time Severus was battling, testing for dominance. Remus’ shirt fell away. His followed after. Pants were becoming undone as they pushed and shoved and fought to make the other submit. Both were sweating now. Teeth marks littered their skin, ringed their necks. They nipped and arched, knowing they would fall; they would lose control to the burning pleasure; but who would be first, who would open themselves to the ultimate release and submit themselves fully?

Remus’ strength gave way with a cry of passion as Severus’ fingers slid skillfully into his cavern. He had never experienced anything like it and his legs gave out. Sirius had never fought him like this, had never made his blood burn and burn. It had always been sweet between them, Sirius always surrendered and was taken, but this… This battle, this passion, and heat, he was losing his mind.

Severus followed him to the floor in front of the fireplace. Their naked bodies writhed together and Remus cried out again as his legs were spread and Severus entered him with a swift, painful thrust. But he knew pain and this pain was welcome, was joyful and perfect. He arched and begged for more. And Severus answered.

They moved together; hungry, starving, and full of need. Severus sank into the man under him, who was wrapped around him. He tasted the Wolf’s soul, his magic; he licked up his tears and swallowed his cries. Remus gave everything; he let him be taken and consumed and rejoiced at the growing hunger Severus displayed when Remus expected revulsion. He howled and wound himself tight around his lover, the end was coming and he was certain it would destroy him.

The explosion came and they both cried out hoarsely, arching and thrusting violently until the waves calmed. Panting, they collapsed next to each other. Remus’ golden eyes glowing and half-lidded, Severus keeping his closed as sweet exhaustion sung in his soul. Their scent filled the room. The sound of fire still echoing from the hearth and filling the room with its light. The heat was theirs and they rested in the peace.

Remus smiled widely as he heard his lover’s breath even out in deep sleep. He gently stroked the damp skin and petted the silky, potion-stained hair. A gentle kiss and still the man didn’t stir and he chuckled deeply before standing and gathering the man in his arms. Without a word, he carried Severus into the bedroom and tucked him in, curling up next to him with sated contentment.

Chapter Eighteen

Severus woke first. He was immediately aware of the warm body curled protectively around his and his eyes snapped open unseeing as he spiraled through the memories of the night before. He waited for the shock to pass, expecting regret or horror to follow. Neither appeared. Instead, he found the shock bleeding seamlessly into serenity. He felt calm and surprisingly strong.

Gracefully, he slid from the bed. He dressed silently and turned to stare down at the Wolf. The deep bite on his shoulder throbbed as he watched the lean man burrow into the spot he had just left, seeking warmth. He shook his head, making his hair fall and hide his face, before leaving the room. He’d think about this later. First, he had the boys to deal with.

Harry lay on his back, eyes closed, and his mind racing as the new memories sparked and spun through his mind. Draco lay at his side and he briefly wondered if he was still sleeping or just waiting for him to make the first move. The minutes passed and Harry thought he could face the world. He opened his eyes. Draco was watching him, waiting. There was fear and resignation in his eyes.

“Ray…” Harry managed an honest smile. “I remember. I don’t hate you.”

Draco’s eyes filled with tears and he wrapped his body around Harry’s, crying softly in soul-deep relief. Harry let him and hugged him back. In truth, it wasn’t hard to still love his best-friend. This eleven year old Draco was not the one he remembered at all, though he did have some questions about where he stood politically.

In fact, he wasn’t the same Harry he remembered being. They were both different. He honestly felt just as at fault for the stupid fighting he remembered happening between him and Draco. That didn’t need to come between them. He would like to see Ron and Hermione, though he honestly felt closer to Draco at this point.

He felt bad for not remembering them at all. He was sure he had hurt their feelings when he had cringed away from them. He also felt ashamed. He never wanted them to know just how bad things had been for him at the Dursleys. He had wanted to leave it all behind when he came to Hogwarts; start over as a new person.

Mostly he was upset about… he winced. He didn’t even know what to call him anymore. He wanted to curl up and cry with grief and horror. He thought he could handle it, could understand, but remembering his… Dad? Professor? … hating him and the strength of the hate he returned was difficult to face. He just couldn’t reconcile his savior with his slimy git of a Potion’s Master.

“Baby?” Draco asked, feeling the spiking despair, hurt, and confusion.

“I… I just need time. To be by myself. To think,” he answered. “Please?”

Draco looked down into his friend’s face and saw the terrible knowledge in his pained green eyes. He saw the knowledge that they had been enemies, no matter how stupid that seemed now. He saw the isolation Harry was sitting in even though he promised Draco had been forgiven. Helpless, Draco nodded and left the bed. He got dressed and left the room. He couldn’t bear to see that look in Harry’s eyes. Harry’s pain and grief cut into him and he glared when his father asked him how things were.

“He needs to be alone to think, but he says he forgives me. I don’t feel like breakfast and am going to the Headmaster to duel.” He said coldly. His father stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“I will duel you. I took today off.”

Draco nodded and went to stand by the door while his Dad told Moony they were leaving and to watch for Harry. They left, and Draco felt his rage rise. He was mad at everything. He was mad at himself for behaving the way he had when he was eleven. Mad that Severus was guilty of the same childishness. He was mad at Harry for holding the past against him when obviously they were past that, and they had grown into different people. First Year seemed like ages ago. It wasn’t fair everything he had done then was now being held against him. He had said he was sorry, and Harry said he was forgiven, so why was he being punished and pushed away? He loved Harry. Didn’t that mean anything?

Severus was trapped in similar dark thoughts, and when they dueled, it was unusually vicious. When a hex got through, they tended to the damage and went right on going without a break. Severus didn’t use anything past the level Draco was displaying, but he wasn’t holding back much either. The Malfoy Lord was agile, pissed, and powerful. He really didn’t need to be coddled.

Remus waited for Harry to come out and for Severus and Draco to return. Neither happened, and the hours passed. When no one came for lunch, he got tired of it and went to find Harry. The small eleven-year-old was still in bed, staring at the wall. Remus sat next to him and the green eyes slowly focused on him. The child looked away with a blush of shame.

“I know. I’m hiding.” He said anxiously, twisting the blanket in his hands. “I need to come out and face everyone.”

“They aren’t here,” Remus offered, grabbing him in a gentle hug. “It’s just me for right now.”

Harry nodded and let himself be held. Eventually he began to talk. “I just… I remember who everyone expects me to be. I remember trying so hard to be strong so that they wouldn’t find me a disappointment. I shoved everything about the Dursleys away so hard that I honestly forgot about it most of the time. I mimicked Ron, even when I felt bad about doing some of the things we did. He was Gryffindor. Of the Light. He was what I was supposed to be; I just had to be even better, right? Now I don’t know anything for sure. Slytherins aren’t evil and I feel so stupid for ever believing such a thing. I know better than to buy into prejudices like that. I really do. I knew it then too, but I… I just… couldn’t be bothered, I guess… I was too busy working to fit in, and it was just easier…”

“Oh, Harry. You were eleven. You’re eleven now, really.” Remus tipped the child’s face to him. “You can’t expect yourself to be always right or even to know what to do. You are supposed to need help and you are supposed to get that help. I’m here this time around. If you need advice, I’m here and so are Severus and Draco, though I recommend you remember he is a child too at the moment.”

Harry smiled a broken smile, tears streaming from his eyes. “Severus… Dad… Professor… I don’t even know what to call him anymore. He hated me so much, Moony!”

Remus held him as he cried. When Harry calmed, he rubbed his back and reassured him. “Severus is a hard man for a reason, Harry. He saved us, and he continues to save us at the expense of his own torment. He was a child much like you were. Abused. And he came to school with the same hopes. Only he found the same rejection and abuse here that he found at the hands of his family. He grew bitter and friendless and hateful. He has only now begun to truly understand what it means to let that anger go-- to know happiness. He’s not the man you remember. He loves you, Harry. You love him. And what you love about him is the very strength and understanding and empathy that he gained surpassing the memories that are new to you. He isn’t that man anymore. He’s not playing that part anymore.”

Harry nodded and wiped away his tears.

“Now. You’ve been in bed long enough. I know you have questions for them. Get dressed and come out and ask them. Remember the past few weeks and don’t let them go. Those memories are even more real than what happened during your First Year because this is the real Severus and Draco and not the old copies that hurt you.”

“Thank you, Moony.” Harry smiled and did as he was told.

Draco felt Harry’s need for him and he called a halt to the endless duel. His body was screaming in pain, several muscles were strained. His magical core thrummed with exhaustion, but he felt better and clear-headed. He realized it was pointless to be angry. Harry deserved time and all he could do was wait and be there for him. And that’s what he planned to do. He was Lord Malfoy, after all. He didn’t give up on what he wanted, and Harry was his.

They entered the dungeons to find Harry and Remus sitting on the couch. Remus gave them a reassuring smile, but Harry’s face was blank. His green eyes were grim. Draco and Severus took the seats across from the two and waited. Harry didn’t make them wait long.

“I… I’m sorry for taking so long.” Harry began softly. “I… wanted to know if you would… answer some questions.”

“Of course.” Severus inclined his head stiffly. Harry avoided looking at him at all, but Draco noticed his friend had no trouble looking at him. He felt encouraged.

“Well, I want to know how you feel about Muggleborns, Draco.” Harry thought that was the easiest thing to start with.

Draco held Harry’s eyes as he answered, “I realize that they hold potential power and are important to the magical community’s survival. I still disapprove of witches, wizards, or Muggleborns marrying or breeding with Muggles. Our traditions and customs are important and loosing them will mean the loss of the soul of magic, and the intake of Muggle beliefs and culture is eroding what the Purebloods guard. But I don’t feel exclusion or the murder of Muggleborns to be the answer, nor is hording the knowledge away from Muggleborns. We need to ingrate Muggleborns into our Society. Excluding them only forces them to cling to their Muggle ways and that is unacceptable.”

Harry nodded. “I don’t really understand what you are saying, but I get the point. Thank you. I… I don’t think I could ever hate Muggleborns or even all Muggles. I didn’t… want that to come between us.”

“It won’t.” Draco said decisively.

“So you don’t follow Voldemort or his beliefs?”

“No. I am not ever going to be a Death Eater. I admit the idea held pleasure for me before my first father died, but not anymore. I realize I didn’t understand the reality of the Dark Lord and now that I do, I am set fully against him. He is an enemy to the Wizarding World.”

“Will you forgive me?”

Draco was shocked by the question and his serious mask fell into a youthful expression of bewilderment. “What for?”

“I… I allowed myself to believe the prejudices about Slytherin House and I… I disliked you unfairly. You were... different than me, but that doesn’t mean it was okay to refuse your offer of friendship. I should have gotten to know you better before I did that.” Harry shrugged helplessly. “I was mean to you unfairly.”

“Of course I forgive you.” Draco shook his head in awe. Then he smiled and ran over to his friend as Harry’s relief rushed through him. The two boys embraced and clung to each other.

Severus watched this enviously. He caught Remus’ eyes on him and looked away. No, he would not allow himself to be open. Not when he was about to be rejected. The boys calmed and he found himself looking back and meeting his son’s green eyes. He couldn’t find the strength to look away.

“I… don’t know what to say.” Harry admitted. “I… I love you and I’m grateful for what you’ve done for me, but I’m also hurt and confused and angry and frightened. I thought you were the one trying to kill me to get to the Stone and that was horrible of me when you had done nothing more than be unfair in class. And you were protecting me even though you hated me. You thought I was so horrible and…”

“I know what I thought.” Severus snapped and winced when it made Harry flinch and gentled his voice. “I’m not angry at you, but at myself. I was blind and a fool. I’m sorry, Harry. I know you are not what I thought you were. You never were. I wish I had been informed of your home life. It would have made a difference, however small. I could have helped you.”

Harry nodded. “I realize now that it was wrong of me to hide the abuse. I still don’t want anyone to know, but I realize that someone has to know because I do need help. And you’ve helped me so much when no one else could. I’m glad that you’re my father.”

Severus jerked as if slapped. His eyes widened for a split second before he could gain control of his expression and made it form mild surprise. Draco whispered something in Harry’s ear, and the boy laughed, tears glittering in his eyes as he crossed the distance and hugged his teacher. Severus held him fiercely. Draco laughed with Remus. When everyone settled down, Harry was sitting next to his father with Draco on his other side and Moony at their feet.

“Are the boys in bed?” Remus asked when Severus returned to the sitting room.

“Yes.” Severus answered evenly, his face shadowed by his hair. He hesitated in the doorway, unsure whether to talk to the man about what happened the night before or if he should just go to bed. The Wolf made his decision for him. Remus poured him a glass of brandy and offered the amber liquid with a sweet smile. Severus forced himself to step across the room and accept it.

“How do you feel?” Remus asked quietly as the other man took a sip.

Severus sighed and looked into the fire, placing his… lover? … to his left. “Things could have been much worse, but it is not as it was before between us either. I am very pleased that Draco has been accepted more completely. I don’t think he could bear to be rejected.”

“It will take time for understanding to come.” Remus agreed. “He is just a child, but his love is true. His need for you has not lessened.”

Severus said nothing to that. He had mixed feelings about that. He was pleased and relieved that Harry still wanted him to be his guardian. On the other hand, he knew that the child was hurting because of him and he couldn’t promise he’d never hurt Harry again. The boy deserved better than that, especially considering everything he had been through.

“Come.” Remus offered and took a few steps toward the bedroom.

Severus watched him move. The way the firelight caressed his tan skin; the way his slender waist swayed with each step; the way his muscles coiled with hidden power. He felt desire stir lazily as he took in the golden brown hair; yellow in this lighting, the grey invisible. The man’s mouth promised reassurance and strength; the eyes slowly bleeding to gold as the werewolf sensed his lust promised him he’d be loved. He turned his back, his hands clenched tight on his glass.

“Severus?” Remus spoke huskily.

The Potion’s Master closed his eyes. “Last night was… unexpected. It can’t… happen again.”

“Why are you doing this?” Remus asked, his hands falling on Severus’ hips and pulling him back against him. The dark-eyed man didn’t pull away, but he didn’t relax either. “Why are you denying yourself? It’s pointless, you know.” He leaned close so that his whispered words were right by the other man’s ear. “It’s impossible to stop wanting you now that I know what you offer. You’re beautiful, my Severus. I want you. I need you. I’m tired of being alone.”

“I offer you nothing.” He snapped, his voice cold and his eyes still closed. “What about your mutt? Have you forgotten him, Wolf? Can I trust someone who gives in so easily to betrayal?”

Remus jerked back as if he had been hit. He backed away on stiff legs, a growl growing in his chest. His arms wrapped tight around himself as he fought the rage that demanded he lash out in revenge. Due to the moon, to his lust, the wolf was close to the surface and it was taking all his strength not to pounce on the stubborn man before him and make him bleed, force him to submit. Instead, he made himself think as a human, made himself speak.

“Sirius… Sirius and I were friends-- Pack members. We were hurt badly and sought healing and comfort in each other’s embrace. He didn’t love me like… like I was his mate. I didn’t love him like that, though I thought I did.”

“No.” Severus spun and glared threateningly. His fingers were curled into claws. “Don’t say it.”

Remus smiled, and it wasn’t sweet or gentle. The wolf was in his smile. His eyes were gold. “Yes. My Severus. I know better now what it is to love. I know my mate.” He took a fluid step forward. Severus stood his ground, but now had his wand out and pointed. “Don’t fight me. Please, Severus. You know you want this. I can feel it pulling you in as much as me. You are my mate.”

Severus shot off a binding curse, but Remus easily dodged. He slammed into his mate and shoved him violently into the wall. He pinned the black-eyed man’s wand arm above his head, the weapon pointing uselessly toward the ceiling. He was growling, a deeply pleased rumble. He was enjoying the display of strength his mate was giving him, the fight he was putting up. It will be delicious when his mate surrendered that strength to him. He shivered in anticipation and licked along his mate’s throat, sucking and nibbling the sweet flesh there.

“My Pack was torn from me. I will not loose it a second time. You are mine as I am yours, my Severus. There is no escaping me. There is no escaping your own needs. You crave this as much as I do. We started the Mate Bond last night.”

Severus knew Remus was right. He felt his body react instantly to being pinned by the other. He was already arching against him, but he couldn’t… he couldn’t give in. He couldn’t allow himself this distraction. They were at war. He was wanted by the Dark Lord. He was Marked by a Master and couldn’t bear to be claimed again, even through a bond of mutual commitment. He couldn’t allow himself anymore weaknesses. He had a son to protect. A godson. Himself. He couldn’t add a Mate to that list. He wasn’t that strong. He was tired of being strong.

“Yes.” Remus smiled as he felt the man in his arms relax. “Exactly. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to be strong. I am here, and I will always help you. You aren’t standing alone anymore, my Mate.”

Severus moaned as hot lips claimed him. He knew it was a lie. He was always alone. He had to fight, or he’d be pulled under where there was only pain in the darkness. But it felt so good. He wavered a moment more and then let go. He was just so tired of it all; so tired. He waited fearfully, but was caught by warmth and pleasure, and he cried out as Remus laid him in his bed and followed him down.

Harry woke from a nightmare, but Draco was right with him, holding him and whispering that it was all right. The blonde let him calm before asking what he had seen in his sleep. But even then Harry felt sure he couldn’t explain; he couldn’t put the horror and shame in words. Draco stared at his silent friend, his worry growing as the fear and shame didn’t lessen.

“Baby?” He crooned. “Tell me. It’ll be okay, I promise. Was it the Dursleys?”

“Maybe.” Harry finally whispered, his haunted eyes coming up to Draco’s. “Ray… It was… Maybe it was because of them…”

“What was it?” Draco asked gently as he wrapped Harry in a supportive embrace, tucking the smaller boy’s head under his chin. Harry lay stiffly in his arms for a minute before melting against him. Draco smiled as he felt love and gratitude and relief begin to creep through the fear. He smirked into his friend’s raven-colored hair and waited.

Harry closed his eyes and allowed himself to believe he was safe. That nothing bad could reach him. It was surprisingly easy. When he was ready, he began to talk, his eyes still shut. “I was in here waiting for Dad to come and tuck me in. You… weren’t there, but in the dream that didn’t seem as odd as it does now… I mean, where else would you be?” Draco’s smirk turned into a grin, but he didn’t interrupt. “Well, I smiled when Dad came in. I was happy and content, but then I noticed that he wasn’t smiling back. He was just staring at me. The blank stare became angry and then hateful. I… I… I tried to ask what… why… but he didn’t… He just stalked across the room and began… yelling… telling me I was… w-w-worthless and d-d-dangerous and s-s-stupid…”

Draco closed his eyes as Harry began to cry. He felt his friends despair as if it were his own. It made tears burn his eyes because Draco knew behind the hurt was belief. Harry, deep down, still believed he was worthless and a freak and unwanted. The monstrous Dursleys still had their claws in him. Draco knew then with diamond hard clarity that he would punish the Dursleys. That he would get revenge for the soul-deep wounds Harry still carried.

“Ray…” Harry choked out, his tears still thick in his voice. “God, Ray… he… he hit me… I begged him to stop… but he…”

“Harry!” Draco clutched his baby to his chest and rocked him. “No! No, Baby, that would never happen! Severus, Dad, he loves you, loves us. He would never hurt you like that. We may make him angry. We are his children and that’s what children do, but he’d never, NEVER, hit you.”

“I know.” Harry wailed, shame rising up in him. “I’m sorry!”

Draco understood then. Harry was ashamed for thinking that of Severus; to put their father on such a level as Vernon Dursley. Harry was aware that he was insulting their father deeply. “Baby, it’s not your fault. It is only natural that you have subconscious fears about being struck by Severus. He’s your dad now and the only person you ever had like that was that vile man. It is only natural that you link the two together.”

Harry nodded but still felt miserable.

“Come on.” Draco slid from the bed, half dragging Harry with him. “I’ll prove it.”

“What? Wait! No!” Harry panicked and thrashed against his friend.

“Stop, Baby.” Draco said gently and lovingly. Harry stilled in response, staring into his friend’s eyes with trusting desperation. “Please. Let’s go to Dad. I swear to you, he won’t mind. It’ll be nice. I remember doing this with my mother. It’ll make you feel better. Trust me, Baby.”

Harry was trembling, but he did trust Draco. He trusted him more than anyone else in the world. So he slid from the bed and allowed the blonde to grab his hand and tow him out of their room. To get his mind off of the growing terror and irrational certainty that Severus would be raging mad that they had woken him, he stared at Draco’s free blonde hair. It was not in a braid and shimmered like a waterfall, coating the boy’s shoulders and back. Tenderly, Harry reached and slid his fingers into its silky warmth. Draco turned his head slightly and smiled out of the corner of his eye. Harry smiled back, still playing with the long blonde hair. It calmed him.

“Dad?” Draco asked, pushing the bedroom door open. The room was pitch-black. Harry was trembling again.

“Draco?” Severus’ voice was deep and unusually rough with sleep. “What’s the matter?”

“Harry had a really bad dream. Can we sleep with you?” Draco was moving even as he asked, pulling the small brunette with him. A chocked sob of fear came from Harry, but Draco only pulled him faster. They reached the bed just as Draco finished talking and without waiting for an answer, the Malfoy Lord climbed up. He met flesh sooner than he thought he would from where he heard Severus’ voice come from and froze.

“Draco? Harry?” Remus’ voice came from the darkness and Draco began to smirk.

“Come on, Harry. It’s alright. It’s just Moony and Dad.” The blonde turned to pull his friend up beside him.

“Harry?” Severus asked, wide awake now at the sound of his son’s quiet crying. “What’s the matter?”

“He’s just scared.” Draco offered when Harry remained silent.

“Come here.” Severus ordered and there was maneuvering on the bed.

Soon both of the eleven-year-olds were trapped between the two men and under the covers with them. Severus had already spelled pajamas on himself and the Wolf without the boys noticing and he could practically feel both Remus and Draco smirking in amusement. He found himself irritated that the insufferable blonde knew of his relationship with the Wolf, but that was shoved aside when he felt Harry’s small body trembling against him.

“Harry? Do you want to tell me about it?” He asked gently. “It will be harder to tell me tomorrow.”

“Y-y-you t-t-tell h-h-him, R-r-ray.” Harry begged.

Draco cuddled against Remus, still holding Harry’s hand. Remus gently stroked his arm and it gave him courage against Harry’s terror, which was filling his chest with ice shards. He spoke softly, carefully. “He dreamed Dad got mad at him and was calling him names like that bastard Dursley did. Then… then Dad…”

“Did I strike you?” Severus asked, taking mercy on Draco and wanting Harry to tell him himself.

“Y-y-yes! I’m s-s-sorry!” Harry wailed. “I know you w-w-wouldn’t! I w-w-won’t do it again!”

“Do you?” Severus asked calmly. His arms snaked around the little boy and a hand ran through the boy’s hair. “Do you really know I’d never do that? It’s okay to need to be reassured, Harry.”


“I would never hit you, Harry. I Will Never Hit You. I most likely will get angry at some time or other and you will become angry with me, but we will work through it with words. I would never hit you in anger or magic. Is that clear?”

“Y-y-yes, sir.” Harry mumbled tearfully, his fear subsiding.

“Good.” Severus sighed. “I may say things, Harry. I… I have a very bad temper, but I have self-control too. I will not call you names, but I most likely will yell and question your intelligence. I will not lie to you.”

Remus snorted. “Sorry.” He said quickly and there was the sound of cloth rustling as the Wolf buried his head, trying to muffle his snickering. Unfortunately, Draco gave him away by laughing outright and not bothering to hide it. Severus scowled into the dark and promised himself he’d punish the Wolf later for this and for the pain in his backside. But thoughts of revenge were put on hold when Harry chuckled weakly.

“And what, may I ask, is so funny?” He demanded, playing along.

“You.” Draco snorted. “Like we needed you to warn us that you’d yell and call us idiotic morons. That’s a given, Father.”

“For you, it definitely is.” He sneered.

“Daaadddd…” Draco whined in mock hurt.

Harry laughed. “Don’t worry. We’re all morons compared to Dad.”

“At least that’s what we let him think.” Remus said in a stage whisper. “It’s good for his ego.”

“That’s it!” Severus growled and attacked Harry with nimble fingers.

Harry roared with laughter, protesting that he hadn’t said it. Draco moved to rescue Harry by attacking his father, but Remus stopped him with an attack of his own. The boys squealed with laughter and it was many minutes before they were all settled down and quiet. Severus lay awake, listening to the breathing of his children and lover in bed with him and wondered, almost dazedly, how this came to pass. How had things become so good? He closed his eyes to sleep and was almost able to forget the threat of pain should this all be taken from him.

Remus woke first and stared in wonder. Harry was laying half across his father’s chest, both sleeping peacefully. Severus was lying on his back, one arm holding Harry securely in place. Draco was hugging the other arm to him and was resting his blonde head on Severus’ bicep. Remus was on his side, facing Draco’s back, and cuddling the boy to his chest. Draco’s hair was under his head and was silky soft and warm from body heat. His arm was flung across both boys and lying peacefully around Severus’ waist.

He wished with a fierce, painful passion that the moment would never end. That he could stay like this forever. In answer to the wish, Severus’ eyes flickered open. The dark ebony pools quickly sharpened with awareness and flickered at the children between them and back to his face. Remus saw the same wonder and painful joy he had experienced.

“Ours.” Remus whispered, eyes going gold.

Severus’ eyes flared in answer; lust, howling joy, protective strength. “Mine,” he agreed.

“Does that mean you’re going to have a Bonding Ceremony?” Draco asked sleepily, his eyes never opening. The two men blinked, and Remus blushed with embarrassment and Severus hid his face behind his hair.

“What do you mean?” Remus tried to brazen it out.

“Gryffindor.” Severus sneered at him. Remus glared back as if to say ‘I don’t see you doing any better’.

“It’s alright.” Draco offered, finally opening his silver eyes. “Harry and I love you both and it would be great if you two Bonded.”

“Don’t you mean married?” Harry asked, green eyes still fogged with sleep as he looked around at them all. “Where’s my glasses?”

“Back in our room probably.” Draco yawned and cuddled up to Harry, burying his nose in the brunette’s hair. “And no they can’t marry. Marriage is for a man and a woman. Bonding is between two people of the same sex.”

“Why’s it different?” Harry frowned bewildered.

“Well, because same-sex pairs can’t have children.” Draco answered. “Except by adoption. Marriage is a legal binding that has political power and consequences. Bonding is private and about the two people only. Family and close friends may know about the ceremony and the life-pledge, but it’s not something that will be acknowledged in the political field.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Harry rubbed at his eyes with a frown. “What if your dad had Bonded with a man and then adopted. Wouldn’t the child then be the Heir?”

“No.” Draco shook his head. “Lucius would be Head of the Family, but when he died, the title of Lord would be handed to one of his siblings’ children. Family titles are passed down to blood only. Always.”

“Oh.” Harry bit his lip. “Wouldn’t that make the adopted child feel bad?”

“Not really.” Draco shrugged. “They’d be raised with that knowledge and probably trained to support the blood Heir, maybe even marry them.”

“Enough politics. It’s too early.” Remus groaned and threw a pillow at the young Lord.

Severus and Harry laughed, happily joining in on the pillow fight.

After everyone dressed and ate, Severus left to teach his classes. Draco, Harry, and Remus studied diligently, had a light lunch, and made their way to the Room of Requirement to play until dinner. Ron and Hermione were there, as well as Vince and Pansy. Harry ran up to his friends and hugged them both. Draco scowled at that, but made no move to interfere. He cared too much about Harry to purposely ruin his happiness.

“I’m sorry I didn’t remember.” The little boy said sincerely. “Wow! You guys are so much bigger!”

They all laughed. “I’m glad you remember, mate.” Ron ruffled his hair. “And it’s you who got smaller!”

“Oh, Harry.” Hermione knelt and hugged him tight. “We’ve been so worried about you.”

“Are you two a couple now?” Harry asked innocently, his mind still happily buzzing after finding out Moony and his Dad were together. “Vince? Pansy? Are you a couple too?”

“What? No!” Pansy gasped in horror. “We’re just friends.”

“Oh.” Harry pouted. Draco felt the mild pout turn into a deeper fear. “Do you like Draco then?”

“Of course I do.” Pansy smiled and cooed at the young Draco. “He’s just so cute!”

“Stop it, Pans.” Draco slapped her hands away from his cheeks. He huffed and brushed his thick braid off his shoulder before crossing his arms over his chest, all the while hiding the fact that he felt a warm giddiness in his chest. Was Harry jealous? He wanted to grin but fought it back easily with Harry’s fear. “Tell him the truth.”

“We’re just friends too.” Pansy admitted. “We gave it a go, but decided that’s all we could ever be.”

Draco did grin as undeniable jealously flashed through him from Harry. The blonde smiled at his younger friend knowingly and Harry looked away with a blush. “Well, what about you two then?” Harry demanded, hoping to successfully change the subject. He wasn’t quite sure what he was feeling and the way Draco was looking at him was really disturbing. His stomach flipped and his cheeks burned.

“Well… we…” Ron looked at Hermione helplessly. She looked back just as lost.

“What?” Harry frowned.

“We were dating, but…” Hermione sighed. “But we’ve been fighting a lot since school started.”

“Because of me?” Harry asked in a small voice. Draco hurried to his side and wrapped his arms around his waist. Harry leaned against him.

“No!” Hermione denied.

“Really, Harry. It has nothing to do with you. We just didn’t know each other as well as we thought when we had assumed we knew everything, I guess.” Ron added.

“Oh.” Harry shook his head, confused.

“Let’s fly.” Draco decided.

And so they did. Harry still needed a nap, but he woke when Remus went to carry him back to the rooms and walked with Draco instead. They ate dinner and practiced Occlumency as they always did and went up to practice dueling with Dumbledore. They were being tucked into bed when Severus brought up the coming holiday. Both boys hadn’t even realized the date until then.

“Ms. Weasly and Mr. Longbottom stayed after class and wondered what we planned to do for Halloween this Thursday.”

“Halloween?” Harry asked sleepily.

“Are we going to have a party?” Draco demanded excitedly.

“I was considering it.” Severus admitted. “You could meet your close friends in the Room of Requirement for a couple hours. The Feast is obviously off limits.”

“Thanks, Dad!” The boys cried in unison, reaching up and hugging him tight.

“You are welcome.” Severus smiled and ran a hand through both of their hair. “Don’t make me regret it. Work hard on your studies. You must make some substantial progress. And you will follow the rules.”

“Yes, Father.” Draco smiled and Harry nodded earnestly.

“Good night, boys. Get some rest.”

“Night!” They chorused again and giggled.

“What are you doing, Ray?” Harry asked. They had just finished breakfast and usually went to the playroom to do their studies, but Draco had towed him to the sitting room instead.

“I’m contacting my mother.” He answered. “We’re going to need costumes for tomorrow night.”

“Oh.” Harry bit his lip, remembering vividly almost attacking her.

“Don’t worry. She’s sorry.” Draco assured him. “She won’t try and take me away ever again. If she does, I’ll never see her again.”

“But… she’s your mother.” Harry protested. He couldn’t imagine having a mother and then ignoring her.

“She is,” Draco agreed. “But some things are more important than that. Besides. She’ll always be my mother. It’s the trust between us that is at risk.”

Draco released him and went to the fireplace. Harry stood awkwardly a few feet away. Remus stood in the doorway. He didn’t want to get in the way, but he wanted to be in reach should the boys need him. Severus would never forgive him if he lost the boys. He’d be mad enough that he was letting Draco do this without asking him first.

“Narcissa Malfoy. Mother.” Draco called into the green fire. He didn’t know where his mother was, but she had made certain he could always get in contact with her through those words. An elf appeared and told him to wait a minute. It wasn’t long before Narcissa’s face appeared.

“Yes, Dragon. How may I help you?”

“Mother.” Draco inclined his head. “We are having a Halloween party tomorrow night. You are invited.”

“I would love to come. Thank you.” She smiled and both blondes fought tears. “Can I bring you anything?”

“Yes actually.” Draco smiled. “We need costumes. One for Harry, me, Vince, Greg, Pansy, the two youngest Weasleys, Miss Granger, and Longbottom.”

“I will take care of it.” She promised.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Dragon. What time should I arrive?”

“The party starts at seven, so… four thirty?”

“I’ll be there.”

“See you soon.” Draco said and ended the connection. He turned to look at the others with a frown. “I should have told her to bring costumes for you and Dad too.”

“We’ll take care of ourselves.” Remus laughed. “Now, let’s get working before you get me in trouble.”

Narcissa arrived on time and bearing all she promised. Draco sent his guests their costumes via house elf and then let his mother help Harry and him get ready. Narcissa enjoyed every minute. She had missed her son dreadfully. At first, she was tense around Harry, but they both slowly relaxed again.

By the time five thirty rolled around, both boys were ready. Harry was dressed in a pirate costume. He had a black eye patch, thick eyeliner, beads in his hair, bandana, off-white puffy shirt with a wide open V-neck, leather pants and boots, a fake sword, and dozens of bracelets. A magic spell gave him a temporary accent. He was adorable. Draco was an arch-angel. Wings of white-golden light, a toga, golden sparkling skin, gold bracelets, his hair free and gently blowing as if in a wind, gold eye-liner and lipstick, wrist cuffs, sandals, and a spear. He was gorgeous and very impressive.

Harry literally gaped at him. “Yer th’ most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid me eyes upon.”

Draco laughed. “You’re not half bad yourself! You’re adorable!”

Harry stuck his tongue out at him and Draco laughed again. He reached and Harry obediently went into his arms. “Aren’t you goin’ to wreck your make-up, mate?”

“It’s magic, Baby.” Draco chuckled and kissed his cheek. “See. Still perfect.”

“Shut your hole.” Harry muttered and laughed, amused despite himself by his new speech patterns.

“Come on. Let’s go!” Draco released his friend and practically ran to the door.

“Wait for us, Dragon.” Narcissa said. The boys turned and froze in place.

Draco had never seen his mother dress up for Halloween. His first father had never allowed it. Draco himself had to stop by the time he was nine. Now he could understand why. She looked… unearthly beautiful. She had butterfly wings on her back. They glowed with a faint blue light that unfortunately reminded Draco of Lucius’ eyes. Her gown was snow white and a crown of blue bells rested on her lightly golden hair. Her sliver eyes sparkled with merriment at their reaction.

“I’m a spring fairy.” She informed them.

“Beautiful as ever, Narcissa.” Severus remarked and stepped into the room. The boys weren’t sure if they were to laugh or not. On one hand, Severus looked very strange. On the other, he looked extremely dangerous.

“A ninja, Severus?” Narcissa smiled.

“I like it.” Remus chuckled as he stepped into the room. The black ninja suit didn’t leave much to the imagination and highlighted Severus deadly graceful way of moving.

“And what are you?” Narcissa laughed as the boys snickered.

“A vampire, of course.” He answered and showed off his temporary fangs. He wore a tailored blood-red suit and wore his tall collar up. His hair was slicked back and his lips were painted red. His eyes were lined with it as well. He walked with a black cane with a ruby on top. His amber eyes sparkled with humor.

“Are we ready?” Severus drawled.

“Yes!” The boys cried and raced to the door. The adults followed at a slower pace.

They were the first to arrive at the Room of Requirement and took their time thinking of what they wanted. It was perfect. The room came out dark and candle lit with bats, black cats, pumpkins, and spider webs. Music was playing near the dance floor and there were tables of sweets and delicious food with gold goblets filled with several different drinks.

Ron and Hermione were the first to arrive. Ron was dressed as a white night with silver armor. A red lion was the symbol on his chest and a heavy two handed sliver sword rested at his hip. Hermione was his princess in pink and white. She had flowers in her hair and looked very beautiful.

Greg, Vince, and Pansy came next. Pansy was an empress in a rich green dress that went on and on in several thick layers. Her hair was done up and was crowned with emeralds. She held herself with the perfect arrogance to match. Vince came as a rock-star with a black star painted around one eye and red lips. His leather outfit was very risqué and he held a red electric guitar. Greg came as a druid. He even had the beard to match, but his was a light brown to compliment his dirty blonde hair. He carried a staff and looked like he knew how to use it.

Neville and Ginny came together as medieval peasants. Ginny’s blouse was cut low and they both carried trays with foaming mugs. They looked great together and Harry asked them if they were dating. Both blushed and nodded happily.

Games started and many of them danced. Harry went a few songs with Draco but wandered over to Neville, Greg, and Ron who were playing a dart game where they aimed at the magical bats. If they were hit, they turned into chocolate that rivaled the flavor of chocolate frogs. Severus stayed back and watched, but Remus danced a few with Narcissa and bobbed for apples against Hermione. He won, but she claimed it wasn’t fair since he had fangs to help him.

It was almost ten and the room had been full of laughter and games for about four hours. No one looked to be stopping. That is until a high pitch scream cut through the air. All heads turned to see Draco collapse on the dance floor. Eyes snapped over to where Harry had been standing to see him already a boneless heap on the floor. All movement and sound stopped in horror as the boy began to twitch and whimper.

“Occlude!” Severus roared, rushing over to his son. “Come on, Harry. I know you can. Occlude your mind. NOW!”

Harry went ridged and the whimpering turned into gasping sobs. The Gryffindors were clinging to each other, eyes wide as they helplessly watched their friend suffer. The Slytherins were watching Draco. Narcissa was kneeling at his side, cradling his limp and silent form. Remus knelt by Harry but didn’t try and touch him. Neither did Severus who sat on the boy’s other side.

“Yes. Good. Very good, Harry. I know you can do it. Keep your shields up.”

“What are you talking about?” Ron demanded bravely. “It’s still getting through!”

And it was true. Harry was thrashing weakly; arching his rigid back as his whimpers and whines escaped his throat.

“This is nothing, Weasley,” Severus said tiredly, “compared to his other attacks. He is Occluding, but nothing can completely block the connection he has to You-Know-Who.”

And that was true as well. Compared to the violent convulsions and silent screams, this was much preferable.

“Can’t we do anything?” Hermione asked tearfully.

“You can go back to your dorms and pray for him.” Severus snapped, turning his attention back to his son.

Remus took the hint and stood. Gently and with warm reassurances that he didn’t believe himself, he herded them out of the room. He promised they’d see Harry again soon. Narcissa dealt with the Slytherins; merely speaking softly to them for a few minutes before they got up and left on their own.

“Should we take them home?” Remus asked Severus quietly.

“I’m not sure if moving them would be wise.” The dark-eyed man admitted. “I… wasn’t thinking… I knew the Dark Lord favored this day to act… We should have been prepared… I made a mistake...”

“No, Severus.” Remus cut him off, but wisely didn’t try and touch the tense man kneeling on the floor. “We had every reason to think this Halloween would be a quiet one. Voldemort is on the move with his army. No one could have expected him to move before the all-out attack.”

Severus shook his head once, sharply. “No. I should have known.”

“Even if you had known, what could you have done differently?” Remus pressed, relentless. “The boys had a wonderful night, one of the best they had ever had. Would you have denied them that? To do what? Occlude all day long? That would only have tired them.”

All the tension went out of Severus’ shoulders and Remus wrapped him in a bracing hug. Narcissa watched this and realization began to dawn behind her eyes. Dulled happiness quirked her mouth up. It was about time, she thought, that Severus found someone to lean on. But then her attention slipped back to her only child and she wondered with sick dread what her son was seeing behind his eyes.

When the vision didn’t release the boys in an hour, they carefully carried them back to Severus’ rooms and placed them in bed. Remus and Narcissa sat with them while Severus went up to the headmaster. He was sure the old man would have a clue as to what was going on. He was right. The old man was not there, so he flooed to Headquarters. Everything was chaos.

Maps were strewn everywhere and Aurors and Phoenix members were yelling over them. There were some wounded and the sounds of grief drifted to him from upstairs. He hovered around the groups, listening in. It seemed that the Death Eaters were capturing powerful members of families who were acting against them.

Innocent members of the Moody, Tonks, McGonagall, and Weasley families among others had all been killed because of the actions of others in the family. They were tortured, killed, and then strung up on Stonehenge. No Light wizard or witch could get within five hundred yards of the defiled monument and that space was growing with every added body to retrieve the dead. No spells could get through the chaotic storm fed by the continuing deaths.

The attacks were spontaneous. There was no way to tell which members of the offending families would be taken, and it was impossible to guard against. Everyone was in a panic. Severus sneered but stepped into the fray and began to help. Dumbledore looked up at him with deeply grateful eyes, knowing they had often relied on him for strategy. Shaking his head, Severus got down to business.

The last killing was at dawn, and that was when the boys were released. Both were inconsolable and after futilely trying to get them to calm down and speak coherently, Severus poured Dreamless Sleep down their throats and tucked them into bed, curled tightly around each other, tears still drying on their pale cheeks.

In the end, fifty-six people had been murdered, the youngest being a little girl of four. The eldest had been a woman who was ninety-seven. Fourteen of the victims had been under the age of sixteen, five had been pregnant women, and seven were male Heirs of minor pureblooded families: Edward McGonagall (Professor McGonagall’s nephew) and Bill Weasley were among them. And both of Neville Longbottom’s parents had been abducted from St. Mungo’s and killed.

Classes were cancelled for a week of mourning. Remus left. The next night was the full moon, and he had to prepare. He promised to be back Monday morning. Severus had only stared blankly. Remus had kissed his lips fleetingly and walked out the door. Narcissa sat with him and the boys. They didn’t move or speak. This was only the beginning. Things would only get worse from here.

Chapter Nineteen

Harry woke groggily, his mind hurting with all the new memories. The two days after the vision on Halloween had been spent resting. No one had talked to Draco or him about what they saw yet. Their Dad had tried, but Harry hadn’t been ready. It was all just a confused mass in his head, but now that he had aged a year the vision was clearer and so was all that had happened Second Year. Draco turned on his side, hearing his baby’s painful groan.

“You alright?” He asked, his voice thick. His hand came up and ran along Harry’s cheek and over his forehead, soothing the wrinkles.

Harry smiled and burrowed into his side. “Yeah.” He shivered. “It was so horrible…” Draco frowned at how numb and sick Harry felt and held the smaller boy tighter. “All those deaths… the screams… Why? Why does Voldemort want to destroy everything? Why are people helping him?”

“I don’t know, Baby.” Draco bit his lip. He knew he almost became one of those who were helping cause the death and destruction. He couldn’t understand how he could have been so stupid. He was very glad that he had come to see the truth before it was too late.

“I…” Harry wiggled until he was looking Draco in the eyes. His heart was beating fast again and Draco swallowed hard against the wave of mortal terror emanating from his best friend. “In the Chamber… I was so scared, Draco… I thought… I really thought I was going to die… and then Ginny would too and… and it would have been my fault for not being strong enough…”

“Harry…” Draco leaned forward, closing the gap between them, and gently kissed the other boy’s trembling lips. Harry’s eyes fluttered closed and his fear began to recede. Draco’s heart began to race in reaction. He felt his chest clench with happiness that Harry trusted him so much. “I love you, Baby. It’ll be alright.”

“Love you too.” Harry blushed and buried his face into the blonde’s chest. His free hand came up around Draco’s waist and began to toy with the silky blonde strands there. “But… I beat him. I was lucky, but I did beat him. I destroyed the diary and saved Ginny. And I’m so small and not very smart or strong. We… we might have a chance then, right? Dad and Dumbledore and the Order all have a chance of winning…”

“Of course they do.” Draco assured. “We’re definitely not going to lose to a monster like Voldemort. We’ll have tons of help too. The Wizarding World won’t just roll over and let that bastard gain power. A lot of people will be afraid, but that won’t stop them from fighting to save themselves and their families.”

Harry nodded and reluctantly sat up. “Time for breakfast? I’m hungry.”

Draco laughed and got out of bed. He picked clothes out for both of them and they quickly got dressed. Harry smiled when Draco gestured at his hair and obediently ran his hands through it to get the tangles out and let his magic wind it into a tight braid. It was now long enough to brush the top of Draco’s bottom. Harry grinned happily, his eyes sparkling as he toyed with it. Draco basked in the warmth of Harry’s delight and affection for a few minutes before taking his friend by the hand and leading him to the kitchen.

“Good morning.” Draco greeted his mother and father.

“Good morning. How do you feel?” Narcissa asked worriedly, her eyes tight with the stress of the past several days.

“Fine.” Draco gave a small smile.

“Morning, boys. I’m glad you are doing better.” Severus greeted.

“Morning.” Harry smiled shyly. “Is Moony back? He said he’d be back by Monday.”

“He is sleeping. I suspect he’ll be awake later this afternoon.” Severus answered.

They talked of inconsequential things while they ate, but when they finished Harry brought up the subject they all dreaded.

“What… what’s been done about the… the killings?” He asked timidly.

“Come. Let’s go sit in the sitting room.” Severus said gently. The boys and Narcissa didn’t argue and followed. They all made themselves comfortable. “Will you tell me what you saw?”

Harry and Draco nodded. The boys were sitting by each other while Narcissa sat at Draco’s side and Severus sat across from them. They were holding hands and Harry was leaning against the blonde. Draco’s arm was wrapped protectively around his shoulders. Harry spoke first.

“I… This vision was clearer than the ones before. Mostly… mostly it just hurt, and the emotions that… that weren’t mine were overwhelming me.” He sighed and leaned his head against his friend. “I think it’s what Voldemort is feeling. He was deliriously happy and certain of victory. The blood is beautiful to him and he craves it. He feels such… pleasure at the deaths and screams. He cast several torture spells, but I only felt… echoes of them this time. I was working hard on Occluding, and it did help.” He smiled weakly at their father, and Severus smiled back with pride in his eyes. Harry blushed and looked down. “I could tell this was just… a warm-up. He plans on making the whole world into a field of pain and blood. He is excited and cold and patient and hungry.”

“Did you see him torturing?” Severus asked gently.

“Sometimes. Sometimes the emotions were just so much that I couldn’t see. But… but sometimes I could and it was like I was the one casting those horrible spells…” Harry burst into tears, hiding his face in his hands. Draco held him and whispered in his ears.

Severus came over and hugged him. “You know it wasn’t you, Harry. You’d never do that. I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

Eventually Harry calmed and Draco began to speak. “It’s not like that for me. It’s like I’m floating outside of everyone and I can’t do anything but watch. I saw everything. Voldemort wasn’t even there at times. Sometimes I was floating by Death Eaters instead.”

“Could you recognize them?”

“No.” Draco shook his head. “They all wore masks. I couldn’t hear their thoughts like Harry can for Voldemort. But… I will never be able to forget their voices. If... I heard them again, I would know them.”

“That will help, Draco. Thank you.” Severus gripped his hand tight. The boy was very pale and looked about to be sick. “I know this is hard, but do you remember hearing anyone talk about future plans?”

“Not really.” He shook his head. “They mostly just bragged and laughed and competed against each other.”

“Alright.” Severus nodded. “Do you wish to ask about anything you saw? You can talk to us about anything.”

“Why did they do that? Why did they like it?” Harry asked tearfully.

“There’s not easy answer for that.” Severus sighed and lifted his son into his lap to cradle him to his chest. “My theory is they are insane; sick.”

“I’m really scared of them.” Harry trembled.

“I am too.” Severus kissed his hair.

“Why does Voldemort want to kill me so bad?” He asked with a choked sob. “I… I don’t want to fight him.”

“Oh, Harry. You’re not alone any longer. We’re here with you and we will protect you.” Severus promised fiercely.

Draco nodded and held tight to Harry’s hand. “You have to promise not to go off on your own anymore.”

Harry smiled tearfully and nodded. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“I don’t think you were thinking at all.” Severus shook his head with a sigh of despair. The boys laughed weakly.

“Do you think you are well enough to go up to the infirmary?” Narcissa asked, rubbing her son’s back lovingly.

The blonde looked to her and smiled. “I think we can handle that.”

The boys were sitting on a hospital bed, sucking on their candy and talking with Narcissa. Severus watched them through expressionless eyes. He may have been softened, but he’d only show evidence of that within his own rooms. In public, he had to maintain the ruthless and vicious façade. They could not afford anything less. Poppy cleared her throat to get his attention. He met her eyes, knowing what she had to say was not good news. He hardened his spine and waited.

“I didn’t think it meant anything last week, but Harry is smaller than he should be. Last week he was half an inch shorter than he was during his First Year. I thought maybe he had a growth spurt in the summer and we would see him make up the difference, but he hasn’t. Now he’s a full inch shorter than he was in Second Year. He was four foot seven inches when he was twelve, and he’s only four foot five and a half inches now. Draco is at his correct height of five foot one. Therefore, I believe the damage he’s sustained during the visions is not being completely repaired by the spell.”

“I thought he was smaller than I remembered.” Severus answered easily.

“That means the other damage is also lingering.” Poppy continued. “He’ll continue to get fatigued quickly, and his hands will begin to shake whenever he is overtired. There is also evidence that his immune system has been damaged. He will be prone to catching influenza and colds much more quickly than other children. His weight is also dangerously low, and his organs are strained. I recommend a nutrient potion. They are hard on the stomach, but we have no other choice. He also needs to eat four to five times a day.”

“I understand.” Severus bowed his head. “Thank you for all your assistance.”

“I will want to see him three times a week. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays should do.”

“Of course.” Severus agreed. “How much does he weigh? I need to know so I get the right dosage for the nutrient potion.”

“Only seventy-eight pounds.” She said sadly.

Severus nodded and returned to his family. The boys were ignorant of the seriousness of Harry’s condition and talked happily as they flooed back to their rooms. Narcissa took them to the playroom to do their morning lessons, and Severus went to his private lab to brew up Harry’s potion.

Once Narcissa got Harry settled and doing an assignment, she went over to her son and summoned a folder. She opened it and set it before him. He raised an eyebrow at her, and she smiled innocently back at him. That only made him frown and she had to fight not to laugh.

“These are all the progress reports of businesses that the Malfoy money is invested in. The papers at the back are requests and questions. You are twelve now, Dragon. It’s about time that you took up some of your duties as Lord.”

Draco sighed, but took the folder. “Yes, mother.”

She smiled and left him to his work.

“Moony!” Harry called happily when they found the werewolf at the table for lunch.

“How are you two?” He asked as he pulled Harry close.

“We’re fine.” Draco answered and took his seat. He did give the Wolf a smile to let the man know he was as happy to see him as Harry was, but wasn’t as comfortable displaying it.

“I’m glad.” Remus smiled back, letting the blonde know that he understood and wasn’t bothered by it.

“Are you okay?” Harry asked worriedly, his green eyes dark with fear.

“I’m fine, cub. Just tired.” He ruffled his hair and Harry went to his seat reluctantly. “What did you do today?”

Draco complained about the headache politics gave him and Harry told him about the test he took and had gotten a B+. “Where’s Dad?” Harry asked.

“Working on a potion.” Remus laughed. “Where else would he be?”

They all laughed. Even Narcissa.

Harry and Draco went to the Room of Requirement with Narcissa, all of them Disillusioned so no one would be able to see them on the way, after lunch and found only the Slytherins there. Hermione was at the Burrow with Ron and Ginny, mourning their older brother. Neville was at home mourning his parents. They wouldn’t be back till Friday.

“Hello, Draco. Potter.” Pansy greeted with a smile. “We weren’t sure you’d make it.”

“We’re doing better.” Draco explained and summoned a broom. “Do you guys feel up to a game?”

“Sure.” Vince shrugged and kicked off the ground. “But how will we do teams?”

“Greg, Harry, and I against you and Pansy.” Draco smiled sweetly.

“That’s not fair!” Pansy pouted, but went to fly next to Vince.

Draco shrugged and the games began. It was nice to forget everything for a little while. He wasn’t kidding when he said the delicate politics involved in the Malfoy businesses gave him a headache and the horror of the war was never far from his mind. He was only holding up as well as he was because he knew he had to be strong for his baby. Harry was not nearly as okay as he pretended. Under the surface of his cheer was a hard ball of fear, determination, horror, and faith.

Harry only played for an hour before his hands began to tremble and Draco ordered him down to rest. He smiled happily, touched that Draco had noticed his fatigue and was taking care of him. But his dreams were dark and bloody. Draco swooped down from the sky as soon as he felt his baby’s growing distress and sat holding him till the dreams went calm. The others said nothing about this. Instead, they came down and sat with him, talking about nothing and doing their best to cheer their leader up. Draco smiled at them to let them know he appreciated their efforts.

“It’s time for dinner.” Narcissa broke in softly.

The blonde nodded and shook his friend, “Harry. It’s time to go.”

Green eyes blinked open sleepily. Harry looked up at Draco and grabbed a hold of his braid before rolling on his side and closing his eyes again. Draco could help the large smile that touched his lips as he felt Harry’s warm affection bubble up from one glance. “Come on, Baby.” He whispered right in Harry’s ear. “Let’s get something to eat.”

Harry opened his eyes again and yawned. Draco helped him to his feet and they stood patiently as Narcissa charmed them. They said goodbye to the Slytherins and made their way to their rooms, Harry’s hand in Draco’s the whole way.

Severus ate with them and gave Harry a potion to drink before they headed up to Dumbledore’s office to practice dueling. During which, Severus attacked their mental barriers, but the boys did well and were grinning when Severus told them so on the way back to their rooms. They had a snack of cake and ice cream and took a bath. Severus tucked them in before retiring to his own bed with the Wolf.

Harry woke in the middle of the night to stomach cramps. Draco had been pulled aside after dinner by his mother and was told about Harry’s borderline health, so he knew why his baby was hurting. Harry didn’t complain and didn’t ask what was wrong with him. Just quietly said sorry for waking him and lay still while rubbing at his stomach. Draco hated the Dursleys. Because of them, Harry learned to suffer silently. Well, at least he wouldn’t have to suffer alone ever again. He curled around his friend and added his hand to Harry’s, rubbing gentle circles on his stomach.

“You should go back to sleep.” Harry whispered.

“I’m fine.” Draco promised and kissed his temple. “Just relax. We’ll go to sleep together.”

Harry smiled in the dark and let his friend’s body heat relax him. “Thank you, Ray.”

“I love you, Baby.” Draco answered softly.

“Love you too.” Harry answered just before falling back to sleep.

Draco stayed up for a while after that, just rubbing Harry’s stomach and making sure the boy didn’t wake again. When he was sure his friend was sleeping peacefully, he allowed his eyes to close.

The interrupted sleep from the night before didn’t affect Draco, but Harry wasn’t as strong. His body was fragile and still healing. When they got to the Room of Requirement, Harry went to his spot under the tree and went to sleep. Draco flew with his friends until Narcissa said it was time to go and they got Harry up. Severus gave him another potion after dinner and they went up to duel and Occlude while under attack. That night Harry woke again, and again Draco waited out the cramps with him and rubbed his stomach until he could sleep.

“Baby. Wake up.” Draco called gently.

Harry opened his eyes and was grateful that Draco was blocking the sunlight from hitting his face directly. He squinted and sat up with a yawn.

Pansy grinned, “You’re really an adorable kid, Potter. You know that?”

“Oh, he knows.” Draco laughed.

Harry blushed and shoved him. “Shut up, you.” He stood and stretched. “So who won?”

“Do you even have to ask?” Draco smirked and wrapped his arms around Harry. The brunette leaned into the blonde, and Pansy cooed at them.

Vince and Greg rolled their eyes. “We’ll see you tomorrow, Draco.”

“Bye.” Draco nodded at them. “Better luck next time, Pansy!”

“Listen to Harry and shut it.” She said sweetly and blew a kiss before leaving with the two Slytherin teens.

“Ready?” Narcissa asked the boys.

“Yes.” Draco nodded.

She cast the spell, and they headed for the door. Narcissa was in the lead with Draco following only a step or two behind her. Harry came last, holding the bigger boy’s hand. It was funny, he mused. He would never have held anyone’s hand like this when he was twelve the first time around, and he didn’t think Draco would have either. And he still wouldn’t appreciate holding Ron’s hand or Hermione’s. But now felt completely normal, even enjoyable, to hold Draco’s hand.

Harry shrugged. It was only normal seeing as how his feelings for Draco were much stronger than his feelings had ever been for either Ron or Hermione (at least, so far as he knew). For a moment, he wondered if that should be strange but dismissed the thought. He grew up with Draco, except for the few days Narcissa had taken him away. The blonde had helped him through his fears and he’d been happier than he’d ever been. It was only natural to be closer to the blonde than to his other friends. Right?

He was jerked from his musings when a bright light suddenly flashed and a concussion of condensed air slammed into him. He fell with a startled yell next to Draco, blinded. Draco reached for his wand, hands shaking with his own fear and Harry’s, but just when his fingers closed around it something snapped around his throat. An echoing click told him that the same had been done to Harry. And then everything got tight.

It was painful at first but only because he was pushing against the invisible cold enclosure instinctively. Hyperventilating, still in shock and blind to the outside world, Draco forced himself to calm and stop reflexively pushing against the barrier. The waves of pain receded slowly. The first thing he became aware of was Harry’s emotions.

Thank Merlin! The barrier at least hadn’t broken that. Harry was scared but was not in very much pain. He must have figured it out quicker than Draco and stopped fighting whatever imprisoned their magic. He knew there were devices, spells, and potions that could do it, but he’d never heard of it in the form of a collar.

He blinked his eyes open and realized he was being carried, still Disillusioned, over someone’s shoulder through a very busy Hogsmeade. His hands were tied at the small of his back and he couldn’t make a noise even though he was trying to scream. When he finally got the bright idea to struggle, a fist impacted hard with his side and made everything fade to a painful black again for several long moments.

He came too when he was flung down hard on his backside next to Harry by the Shrieking Shack in about two inches of snow. Harry was in the same exact condition. His hands were tied behind him and his mouth was tightly shut. His eyes were wide with fear and his glasses were nowhere to be seen. They definitely weren’t dressed for being outside and both were shivering. He got a good look at the collar around Harry’s neck. It was black and shiny, like a band of solid shadow. He shivered in disgust that an identical foul device was touching his skin. Harry’s fear was strong, but Draco still felt a bit detached—he knew he should have been pissed as hell.

There was no one else around except for their abductors, and Draco turned his attention to them. One was Theodore Nott. One was Blaise Zabini. And the third was Devon Zabini. They were dressed warmly, and only Devon seemed calm. Blaise was looking away, his cheeks red with shame and distress. Theo looked nervous and excited, his eyes devouring them triumphantly. Draco’s anger began to stir.

“You’re looking good, Draco.” Theo drawled with a large smirk. “Like the hair.”

“We don’t have time for this.” Devon glanced at the young Slytherin. “Go and get the portkey.”

“Why doesn’t Blaise do it?” Theo glared, but when Devon focused his cold blue eyes on him he turned and did as he was told. Blaise spoke up as soon as he was out of earshot.

“Can’t we Obliviate Draco and let him go?” He asked quietly, eyes pleading with his brother.

“The Dark Lord wants them both.” Devon answered. He didn’t even look at his younger brother. His attention was focused on his two captives.

“But once he has Potter then he won’t really notice that Draco…”

“No.” Devon interrupted, and Blaise fell silent.

Draco was glad. He didn’t want to go anywhere without Harry. He needed to think of a plan. He looked over at Harry again, hoping for inspiration. The Disillusionment charm was fading. It would be down in moments. Devon noticed as well and frowned deeply. He lifted his wand and pointed it at them. Before he could cast a spell, Theo came back now wearing a long golden chain and coin around his neck. He took it off and handed it to Devon with a mock bow.

“Good.” He took the necklace and slipped it around his neck. “I will tell the Dark Lord of your success and skill. Both of you need to get back now before you are missed.”

“What!” Theo cried, outraged. “I’m going with you to deliver Potter!”

“No, you are not.” Devon answered calmly. “Are you going against his orders?”

“You just want all the credit for yourself!” Theo’s wand snapped up and aimed at the older man.

Devon didn’t even bother raising his wand. He kept it down by his side and subtly pointed it at the teenager. His lips never moved, but Theodore staggered backward, his arm falling limp, and his wand landing in the snow. His brown eyes were wide and dull.

“He won’t be a problem. Say he drank too much.” Devon ordered his brother. Blaise didn’t say anything, but he went to Theo’s side to help keep him standing. “I’ll see you later, little bro. Take care of yourself.”

Draco glared fiercely up at his friend’s brother as the man put one arm around him and another around Harry and pulled them close to his sides. He whispered a word Draco couldn’t quite catch and then he felt the hook of the portkey. When they landed, Draco slammed hard into his kidnapper and let out an ‘oomph’ as his breath was knocked out of him. He had no idea where he was. There were trees all around and, even though there was no snow on the ground, it was still cold.

“You boys alright?” Devon asked as he carefully let them go. His hands still hovered by them to make sure they wouldn’t fall over.

Harry wobbled, but remained standing. Draco didn’t even sway, his silver eyes like quicksilver in his fury. “Of all the idiotic questions!” He spat, not surprised when he found the silence spell gone. “How do you think we are?”

Devon met his stare and his face never changed from impassive. Draco continued to glare, but deemed it wise not to say anything more. Harry was shaking with both fear and cold. Draco went to his side and leaned against him. He wanted to reassure his friend, but didn’t dare say anything; he might make Devon think more restraints were in order. Harry’s fear calmed without him saying anything, and he put half his weight against Draco’s shoulder.

“You will follow me. There will be no running and no talking. I will hurt you.” Devon told them calmly. When he got no answer, he turned and began to walk through the forest.

Draco followed several feet behind him and Harry walked right at his side. Draco nodded for Harry to go ahead of him and the boy did so without question. Draco examined the bindings. It looked like rope but was grey. From touching his own bindings, he knew it was smooth as metal, but light as rope. Therefore it was a magical combination of both. That meant the spell would have to weaken or even wear off if it wasn’t reinforced. Devon was the most likely caster, so they only had to get away from him. Draco snorted. Easier said than done.

They were walking for only an hour when Harry began to stumble. Fear and portkeying and the damn collars blocking them from their magic had drained him. Devon walked on, oblivious. Draco snarled at his back and tried to support Harry as best he could by walked right alongside of him and allowing the smaller boy to lean against him. When Harry tripped, however, Draco couldn’t take it anymore.

“We need to rest!” He snapped and knelt by his fallen friend.

“No.” Devon answered, not even bothering to turn and look back. “Keep up.”

“We can’t, you dolt! This isn’t a ploy!” Draco yelled before turning to look at Harry. “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Harry panted. “Got a stitch in my side.”

They both looked up as they heard Devon stop and start coming back for them. Harry’s eyes went wide and he hid half behind Draco instinctively. Draco’s own breath was coming fast due to his anger and Harry’s terror.

“I told you I would hurt you. Get up.” Devon said calmly.

“What is your problem?” Draco demanded. “We can’t keep up, alright! No threats are going to change what we are physically capable of.”

“I disagree. Crucio.”

Pain exploded behind Draco’s eyes. His whole body spasmed and cramped, and he was howling with pain. It seemed to last forever as he coiled tight into a defensive ball. The agony was building and he knew he would shatter and…. it stopped. Over his own whimpers and wet sobbing gasps, the sound of cursing and blows came to his ears.

He blinked the hot tears from his eyes to see Harry biting into the man’s now wandless hand. Devon was punching Harry in the head and back, screaming for him to let go. His legs were getting into it now, but Harry’s jaw would not open. There was a stream of blood dripping down his chin and from Devon’s fingers.

Draco got to his feet and staggered. His muscles screamed for him to stop moving, to just lay still and wait for everything to stop throbbing with pain. But this was their only chance. He screamed and charged Devon, knocking the wind out of the man with a head-butt. They all crashed to the ground. Draco was hitting with his head, biting, kneeing, and kicking. He was screaming like a wild animal. It hurt, and he couldn’t think of anything except to stop it from ever hurting like that again.

“Ray!” Harry screamed. “Ray! Draco, stop! Ray, please!”

It took a moment for the meaning of Harry’s words to come clear and he forced himself to still from his mindless attack. He could hardly breathe and his heart was pounding like a sledgehammer against his ribs. He staggered backward a few steps and collapsed to his knees. Devon was unconscious. At some point, Harry’s and his hands were released of their bindings and Draco had begun using them in his vicious fury to destroy Devon. There was blood in his mouth and down his chin. It was under his nails and his feet hurt from kicking the man so hard and for so long.

“Ray…” Harry sobbed and clung to the blonde. “Are… are you… alright?”

“Yeah.” He rasped. His throat was on fire and his voice was hoarse. “We can’t stay here. We’ve got to move.”

He forced himself back over to Devon’s battered body. He was shocked at how much damage they had done. He couldn’t even remember doing half of that. Devon’s face was already swelling with several bruises and his clothes were torn revealing ugly scratches. The way his chest was rising and the way his breathing was wet and ragged, Draco knew they had broken a few of Devon’s ribs.

Draco didn’t regret it, but he wasn’t proud either. The closest words he could find to describe how he felt was grimly satisfied. He yanked the necklace off the man’s neck and searched all his pockets, taking everything he found in case they were portkeys as well. He gestured Harry to grab Devon’s wand and the boy scrambled to obey.

“We should kill him. He’s going to come after us. He’ll get more Death Eaters and we’ll be caught.” He realized.

Harry stood at his side and shook. His green eyes were filled with understanding and horror. Draco winced as a chaotic cloud of emotion and distress rose in his chest. He couldn’t even begin to try and decipher what his friend was feeling. It was strong and snarled all together. He gripped Harry’s shoulders hard and shook him to get him to focus on his words.

“We have to do this. Do you understand?”

“He’s Blaise’s brother.” Harry pointed out weakly. It wasn’t exactly an argument, just stating the facts and consequences of what they were going to do.

“He’s a Death Eater.” Draco said grimly. “He will turn us over to be killed, and he will torture us. We have to be near a Death Eater camp. We… know… we know what they are capable of. And you are the Boy-Who-Lived. I… I won’t let them kill you.”

Harry nodded weakly. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, but the cloud of howling emotion was lessening. Draco could now recognize understanding, remorse, guilt, and horror. Draco felt sick to his stomach and desperate and frightened. But he had to be strong for Harry. He had promised himself he would protect his friend. He wouldn’t allow him to be hurt and killed, and he couldn’t imagine the horrors that awaited Harry if he were ever brought before Voldemort while vulnerable and powerless. He couldn’t allow that to happen.

“Don’t look.” He said softly and brushed Harry’s bangs from his eyes. “Go over there. I’ll be quick.”

“No.” Harry whispered, determination rising over his other painful emotions. “You aren’t doing this alone. I will stand by you till the end.”

Draco choked on a sob and hugged Harry tight for a brief moment. “Okay. We need to hurry…” He turned and approached Devon. He still couldn’t do magic because of the damn collar. He’d have to do this the muggle way. But how? Harry must have sensed his uncertainty for he picked up a rock just a bit bigger than a closed fist and handed it to him. Draco took it and stepped up to Devon’s head. Oh sweet Merlin… but he had to. He had to survive. He had to protect Harry.

Harry came up to his side. He had a rock as well. He really was seeing this through with Draco. He was crying. Draco hated it and suddenly couldn’t stand the thought of Harry bringing that rock down on the unconscious man. With a yell, he shoved Harry backward and spun back around, bringing the rock down with all his strength. It connected with a wet crack. Blood began to pour from Devon’s head. Draco dropped the rock and stumbled away to vomit. Harry came to his side, but Draco pushed him away again. The brunette cried helplessly as Draco wiped his mouth.

“Let’s go.” He growled and walked away as quickly as he could in the opposite direction Devon had been leading them.

Harry followed, his arms wrapped tightly around himself. His eyes never left the blonde’s braid. He was filled with sorrow, love, remorse, and guilt. Draco reached back for his hand, and Harry took it, clung to it tightly, and Draco felt grateful that Harry still loved him and didn’t flinch away from touching him. He never even noticed that he was crying too.

Narcissa ran into Severus’ rooms. Her eyes were wild with panic, but she spoke clearly when she saw that Severus and Remus were back from their meeting with Dumbledore. “The boys were abducted.”

Severus jumped to his feet with a hiss and Remus stood with his eyes wide with shock.

“The Slytherins had just left from the Room of Requirement. I charmed the boys and myself to be unnoticeable and we exited the room. I saw no one, heard nothing, and there was a huge flash of light and a wave of magic threw me into the wall. I blacked out and when I awoke the hallway was empty. The boys are gone. Someone must have charmed themselves or taken a potion to be able to see through the Disillusionment charm I put on us.”

Severus ran passed her, Remus following, but they split into different directions. Without saying a word, Remus knew what his mate wanted of him, so he raced to the headmaster’s office to get assistance and tell Albus what had happened. Severus was going to the Slytherin common room to see who was missing and why. Narcissa hurried back to the scene of the crime to see if she could find any clue she may have overlooked.

They had only been walking for maybe half an hour when they came upon a very small trickling stream. It was small, but it was enough. Draco dropped to his knees and began to wash off his hands and face. Harry knelt upstream and cupped his hands and drank from them. They were shaking faintly and he knew he was coming close to pushing himself too hard. He would collapse soon if they continued like this, but he knew they couldn’t stop either. So he said nothing and did his best to hide his weakness from Draco.

Draco wasn’t fooled, but there was nothing he could do about it. He’d offer to carry Harry when it got too bad, but the longer Harry could walk on his own, the better their chances were. He was strung tight as a bow, listening for pursuit, but caught no trace of it yet. That didn’t really mean anything though. As soon as Devon was found, the Death Eaters would use spells to find them. They had to get far enough away that the spells would give vague answers or not work at all. Maybe the damn collars would help keep them from being tracked.

“Let’s go.” He helped Harry stand and they continued their quick pace.

It wasn’t long, only about forty-five minutes or so, when Harry couldn’t walk anymore. There were fine tremors in his thighs and his hands were shaking violently. Black dots swarmed in his vision and he couldn’t catch his breath. Draco knelt by him and he weakly apologized, deeply ashamed that he was so weak when Draco needed him to be strong.

“Shhh… It’s alright, Baby.” Draco said gently. “It’s not your fault. Here. Climb onto my back. I’ll carry you.”

Harry did as he was told and for once was grateful he was so small and light. Draco usually could carry Harry easily, but he was weak from the Crucio and their hike. His legs quivered under him as he stood, but he was able to lock his knees. When he was steady, he took a step and then another.

Harry was limp, unconscious by the feel of the sudden stillness of his emotions. Draco clinched his teeth hard and walked on. The sun had fallen and he had to squint hard to watch out for things that could trip him. He was already breathing heavy, but he learned that taking deep breaths in and out helped. Tears were falling from his eyes again. This time because of exhaustion. But he couldn’t stop. The Death Eaters would find them if he did.

“Nothing.” Severus ground out. Albus, Remus, Narcissa, and he had found nothing to tell them who had taken the boys or where they could be now. “Absolutely nothing.” The glass in his hand shattered. He was up in the headmaster’s office. Narcissa and his mate were sitting in the chairs in front of Albus’ desk. Albus was leaning back tiredly in his chair and rubbing his hands over his face. Severus stood at the back of the room and paced furiously.

“There is the location spell I could perform.” Narcissa said tightly. “As a Malfoy, I can cast it and it will lead me to the Family Lord. It will be very evident though. Anyone magical near my son will be able to feel it while it is working.”

“If by chance they have managed to escape, then that would not be a wise course.” Albus lowered his hands and revealed his dull eyes.

“But that may be what we will have to resort to.” Remus said softly. “Narcissa, is there… Is there a way for you to tell if the Malfoy Lord has been… killed?”

“I will know if that happens.” She answered, lowering her head to hide her fear and tears. “Merlin, don’t let that happen.”

“We have to do SOMETHING!” Severus roared.

“Calm down. We must think clearly.” Albus snapped. “Where would they be taken? To Voldemort most likely. Where is Voldemort? If we knew that we could send out Order members to search the area between Hogwarts and that location.”

“I will question my Slytherins under Vertasium and try to find out.” Severus said coldly. It was an extreme resort, but the situation called for desperate measures. If anyone found out or one of the children had an ill reaction to the potion, he and Dumbledore would be in a world of trouble. They could both land in Azkaban.

“Be sure they do not remember.” Albus called, and Severus snarled over his shoulder at the implication that he didn’t already know what to do.

“What can we do?” Remus asked.

“You will go to Grimmauld Place and update the Order. I will stay here and wait for Severus’ findings. Narcissa… Do as you wish, but stay close so that we can inform you of any new information.” The two nodded and left the office. Dumbledore sighed and rubbed at his forehead. “Oh, my dear boy. What have you gotten yourself into this time?”

Draco couldn’t walk any further and collapsed at the base of a wide tree after gently setting Harry down. His legs burned in agony, and he whimpered, certain they would never work again. It was pitch black now. The moon had gone above the canopy and very little light could make its way through. Harry woke groggily. It was freezing now that he didn’t have Draco’s back against him.

“Ray… Are you hurt?” He asked when he heard his friend’s near silent sobs. When Draco didn’t answer, Harry crawled over to him and into his lap, practically lay on top of him. Draco sighed in slight relief as Harry’s warmth covered and soaked into him. “Tell me where it hurts.”

“Legs.” He croaked.

Harry nodded and reached down. Using both his hands, he gently massaged Draco’s thighs and worked his way down. Draco stiffened and twitched behind him, hissing in pain and relief as Harry’s slender fingers worked. It took a good long while before Draco’s moan and groans died out and his legs were limp with relief. Harry giggled and turned back around to face the blonde and lay against Draco’s chest. His arms came around to embrace his friend and his hands played with Draco’s braid and the strands of hair that had fallen free.

“I’ll keep watch. Sleep.” Harry whispered soothingly. A soft snore was his only answer.

Draco woke to Harry softly shaking him at dawn. He felt sore and was starving, but rested. Harry looked tired, but not too badly. He smiled weakly, and Harry mirrored him. They were cold, but not as cold as they would have been alone. As Draco stood on his stiff limbs, he was almost glad that they would be walking. It would warm them up. He helped Harry to his feet, and they set off.

“Was there any disturbances last night?” He asked.

“Not really.” Harry shrugged. “A few rabbits went passed us and a fox, but that’s it.”

“I wonder why no one’s come looking for us. Do you think they’ve found… you know…?” Draco blushed. He couldn’t bring himself to say his name. He shoved the memories of what he had done away viciously. He didn’t have time for that now.

“I don’t know.” Harry answered. “Maybe they have and they can’t find us.”

“That would be great.” Draco sighed.

It had taken most of the night to question all of his Slytherins and he only got vague answers. Voldemort was camped somewhere in south Romania. There was a lot of ground to cover between Hogwarts and there. He climbed the steps up to Albus’ office two at a time. The old wizard was waiting there behind his desk. The others weren’t present.

“South Romania.” He said quickly and took the seat Albus gestured to. He needed to conserve his energy. With that in mind, he accepted the hot tea that Albus handed to him.

“That’s unfortunate. The furthest country to the east we are on good terms with is Germany.”

“That would be why Voldemort set his camp there.” Severus sneered.

Albus sighed and stood. “We need to inform the Order and pool our resources. Find Narcissa and bring her with you when you come.”

Severus nodded and went to do as he was told. His anxiety and fear was a hot tight ball in his chest, but he kept it at bay with all his skill. He couldn’t help his sons if he couldn’t think straight. An energy potion wouldn’t be amiss either.

“I… Can’t…” Harry panted and with a moan, sank to his knees. He was cold and shaking and felt weak and dizzy. He was so hungry that his stomach was cramping. He had long experience with going hungry and still working due to the Dursleys, but it seemed his stamina wasn’t what it once was.

Draco stopped and looked back at his friend. He himself was in a numb zone of fatigue and hunger. His feet were moving of their own accord now. But seeing Harry suffer sharpened his mind and made him feel stronger. He went and sat by his friend, pulling him into an embrace to try and warm them both. Harry settled himself in Draco’s lap willingly and wrapped himself around him. Draco smiled tiredly and let his forehead rest against Harry’s shoulder.

“Sorry, Ray.” Harry said once he had the breath to speak.

“Shhh… We’ll rest for a while and if you still can’t go on, I’ll carry you again.”

Harry nodded, biting his lip. He wished they had their magic. He could catch them food that way. Unfortunately, all the prying at their necks had resulted in nothing. The collars were made of some kind of stone, they guessed, and were seamless. There was no way they could get them off.

“Can you walk?” Draco asked, bringing Harry out of his thoughts. The brunette was startled to realize his eyes were shut and he didn’t have the energy to lift his head from Draco’s shoulder or open them. “I’ll take that as a no.” The blonde struggled for several minutes, but eventually he had Harry secured on his back and was walking again.

“There is no Ministry or Government guiding magic and its uses in Romania.” Shacklebolt spoke. The whole Order was sitting around the table he stood at and listened to every thing he said with grim or worried faces. “That will help and hinder us. It will help because technically there is no group to be offended when we enter their country. It will hinder us because they won’t help us or speak to us to tell us anything they know. The best course of action is to avoid all locals.”

“Who is going to search and how much of Romania are we going to cover?” Remus asked.

Albus summoned a map of Romania onto the table. “Our information says the boys were being taken to the south near Alexandria. I recommend making this city our base of operations and work in groups, circling out from this city.”

A/N: I know Alexandria is an Egyptian city, but the map I consulted of Romania said there was a city named Alexandria south west of Bucharest. I chose it because it is surrounded by forest and the population density is high, but not too high.

“There are twenty-one of us, but obviously not all of us can go to Romania and join the search.” Severus pointed out.

“I cannot go. I must return to the school.” Albus said gravely. “Elphias, you have done much for us during your many years. It would be best of you remained behind. Madam Rosmerta, you have your bar to tend and cannot afford to raise suspicions by leaving your post now. Arabella, you are valuable, but your skills lie elsewhere. As for the Weasleys… You are still mourning the loss of your eldest son. I would understand if one or all of you could not join this mission.”

“Ron and Ginny are at the Burrow. Hermione as well.” Mrs. Weasley informed them. “I will stay behind with them so that the others can search for Harry.” The two Weasley men nodded.

“Very well.” Albus bowed his head in respect. “We appreciate the help. Minerva…”

“No. I will go.” She shook her head. “I am still in mourning, but my family will understand my absence.”

“Same here. My daughter and I will both help look for the boys.” Andromeda spoke up. She had married a muggle, but that hadn’t stopped her husband from being targeted by the Death Eaters because her daughter was an Auror and Order member set against Voldemort. Nymphadora had brought her to Grimmauld Place to keep her safe after her father’s funeral and Andromeda had decided to join the Order as well. She would bring down the bastards that had taken her beloved husband.

“So be it. If there is anyone who wishes not to go, speak up.” Albus looked around the table. No one raised their voice. “Very well. There are sixteen of you left. That will make four three man teams. We will divide the area around Alexandria into four sections aligning with the compass points. Each group will take a section to search and work their way outwards. The team leaders will be Severus, Narcissa…”

At the looks of distrust and anger that crossed a few faces, Albus slammed his hands on the table and said sharply, “Don’t question me. Now is not the time.” Everyone fell silent and still.

Looking sternly at everyone there, Albus continued. “As I was saying, the team leaders are Severus, Narcissa, Remus, and Kingsley. The leaders will choose who is on their team. I will be back momentarily.”

Severus ended up with Alastor Moody, Emmeline Vance, and Arthur Weasley. Remus got Minerva McGonagall, Charlie Weasley, and Rubeus Hagrid. Narcissa choose Andromeda Tonks (her sister), Mundungus Fletcher, and Hestia Jones. Shacklebolt gathered up the rest; Nymphadora Tonks, Dedalus Diggle, and Sturgis Podmore. Albus arrived minutes later with a dozen house elves. As the elves passed out packs for the search teams, Albus handed out four portkeys.

“I want quarterly reports…. That means every six hours.” Albus informed them all and was satisfied with the ready agreement he received. “Good luck and be careful. There are Death Eaters around that area. Be prepared to fight.”

“Baby…” Draco croaked hoarsely. His mouth was so damned dry. His lips were cracked and his skin felt like parchment. “Harry… Water…”

Harry lifted his head and dropped off of Draco’s back. The blonde staggered at the change and Harry had to grab his arm to keep him standing. In front of them was a muddy stream. Both boys fell to their knees and drank thirstily. Nothing had ever tasted so good. This was really weird, Draco thought, since he could feel the dirt making his teeth gritty and that alone would have put him off had this been normal circumstances. They drank for long minutes, until their empty bellies actually swished with water. They fell back with sighs of relief.

“You okay?” Harry asked, looking over at the blonde.

Draco nodded and looked up at the sky. It was about noon. Merlin, he was so damn hungry.

“Does your back hurt?” Harry asked with a blush. “I can massage it for…” He froze; his eyes going wide as he sat ramrod straight.

Draco looked around frantically as he felt Harry’s fear. “What?” He whispered.

“I felt magic…” Harry breathed near silently. “It’s like a little tingling against the barrier the collars make.”

“Do you know what direction?” Draco asked, knowing Harry was more aware of his magic and therefore the barrier than him and trusting completely in his senses.

“To the right… I’m… I’m not sure how far or anything…” Harry shook his head.

Draco looked to the right, but could hear or see nothing. It was possible they had gotten turned around while walking last night, but he had thought he was going in a straight line away from Devon. He jumped to his feet stiffly and grabbed Harry’s hand, pulling him up. He went at his fastest pace, which was only about a half-jog by this point and went in the opposite direction of where Harry felt the magic.

“Do you still feel it or was it just a momentary flare?” He asked quietly.

“I still feel it.” Harry’s voice trembled with fear.

Draco’s hand clenched tightly around Harry’s. “Is it getting stronger? Weaker?”

“The same. It’s just a faint pressure against the barrier.”

“Tell me… if anything changes.” He panted, already getting tired, but not willing to go slower.

Chapter Twenty

Harry could hardly breathe. He had felt the magic about half-an-hour ago and he wasn’t going to make it much longer. His head was fuzzy and he no longer felt the cold. His legs burned and kept threatening to give out. Draco was pulling him along by the hand and the blonde wasn’t fairing much better.

Draco was breathing hard and stumbled over roots and rocks every few minutes. Harry opened his mouth to beg for a rest, but no sound escaped. Closing his eyes tight, he swallowed hard. The little saliva he could work up felt like glass going down his throat. He grimaced and collapsed, almost pulling Draco down with him.

“Harry!” Draco cried out hoarsely. He knelt by Harry and rolled him onto his back.

Harry’s face was white and it looked like he was struggling to breathe. Draco quickly propped him up and rubbed his back. Harry wheezed, his arms limp and head hanging. Frightened by the panic and disorientation growing through their link, Draco gently put his hand on his friend’s forehead and tilted it back on his shoulder. He gasped. Harry’s head was hot!

“Baby, what hurts?” He croaked worriedly.

Harry’s mouth worked, but nothing came out. Tears burned his eyes, feeling helpless and afraid. The pressure against the barrier was still there, unchanging. The Death Eaters would find them, but he literally couldn’t move. He couldn’t even breathe at the moment.

“Shhh, just rest for now…” Draco stared behind them. “Is someone still using magic?”

Harry nodded weakly and pointed.

“Alright… Get on my back. I’ll find a stream and we’ll stop there.”

Draco groaned as he stood. Harry wasn’t heavy, but any added weight was torture to his abused body. The plus side was within minutes he was sweating. He hadn’t felt truly warm since they had been abducted (was it really only a day ago? It felt like weeks!), but Harry was radiating heat. Draco trudged on, panting and gasping, desperately looking for water.

The first report was due in from the Order and Dumbledore waited by the fireplace in his office. Green fire flared up and Arthur’s head appeared. He reported that Severus was leading them through the eastern section and they had found nothing as of yet. From Remus’ team, Minerva’s face appeared and reported a similar lack of findings in the north section.

Sturgis Podmore was the chosen messenger for Kingsley’s team. He was a square-jawed wizard with thick straw-colored hair and was about two years older than Severus. He reported they had found nothing so far in the west section. From Narcissa’s team, Hestia Jones, a pink-cheeked and black-haired witch, reported the same from the south section.

Albus thanked them for their reports and again repeated they should be careful. When they were released from the fire, the four men and women exchanged a more thorough report about terrain and local muggles and wizards before heading back out to their teams. Once they got outside the city boarders, they would apparate back to their teams.

Draco had slowed to a staggering walk. He was exhausted and Harry seemed to get heavier and heavier on his back. Just when he thought he’d have to stop, Harry tapped his shoulder. Sighing with relief, he knelt and allowed his friend to slip off. Harry fell with a thump and grimaced as it jarred his painful headache.

Draco turned to face him and ran his shaking hands over Harry’s fevered face. “Are you alright?” He rasped.

Harry nodded and croaked painfully, “The magic is gone.”

“It is?” Draco perked up. “Thank Merlin.” He fell over onto his back and stared dully up at the forest canopy. “I’m so hungry.” He moaned, curling up around his empty middle. “And I could sleep for a year.”

“Hear that?” Harry groaned, sitting stiffly, and ignoring his friend’s complaints. He couldn’t do anything about them.

Draco sat up with a frown, “Tell me that wasn’t thunder.”

Harry nodded and climbed slowly to his feet. “We need shelter.”

Draco hurried to support him and Harry took his arm thankfully. Crying with frustration, Draco guided Harry as he began to walk once more. His feet were throbbing. Dirt was caked on his exposed skin; hands, neck, face. His hair was still braided, but twigs and leaves were stuck in it and a few strands had fallen free. Harry looked as bad as him, maybe worse, since his face was flushed and his eyes were shinny with illness. He’d never been more desperate or frightened or hopeless. Why go on? Where were they even going? If things didn’t change soon, they’d die without the help of the Death Eaters.

“Water.” Harry croaked and fell to his knees.

Draco’s head snapped up and he saw the stream up ahead. He felt like jumping for joy. This time if they had to run away again, he’d follow the damn thing. He wasn’t about to go without it ever again. Draco dragged Harry a few feet and the smaller boy managed to crawl a bit. Both fell on the water with hungry mouths.

They drank frantically. Harry drank too fast and had to throw himself away as he vomited. Draco winced and rubbed at his back sympathetically. His stomach felt a bit rebellious as well. After returning to the stream and drinking a bit more slowly, Harry curled up on his side with a moan.

“Harry…” Draco bit his lip worriedly. He took off his sweater and dipped the sleeve in the cold stream water. Shivering, he pulled Harry’s head in his lap and soothed Harry’s forehead and cheeks with the cold, wet cloth. Harry’s eyes didn’t even flicker. “Don’t be sick. Please, Baby.” Draco rocked and cried. He didn’t know what to do.

Not ten minutes later, thunder cracked loudly and the sky darkened. Harry jerked awake and screamed with terror. Draco wrapped him in his arms and calmed him. Blinking blurred and fevered eyes, Harry knew they had to find shelter or at least try. The rain was going to be cold.

“Need shelter.” He said weakly and used Draco to climb to his feet.

The blonde didn’t argue and slipped his damp sweater back on. His teeth were chattering and he his fear of the storm gave him sufficient motivation to keep moving. He remembered his promise, though, and followed the stream. They hadn’t gone very far when it began to rain. Just as they predicted, the water was cold. In minutes, they were soaked through. There was no shelter in sight; just trees and more trees. Draco bit his lip hard to keep from crying and continued to walk.

“Stop.” Harry staggered. He couldn’t see. Everything was swimming around him. His feet were numb and so were his hands, and even though he couldn’t remember why that was bad, he knew it was. His chest hurt and his throat itched. He’d start coughing soon, he knew. He couldn’t go on. It was hard to walk on the muddy ground and Draco was shivering violently now. Harry had stopped shivering long ago; he was too numb to be cold.

“H-h-har-rr-rry?” Draco stuttered through chattering teeth.

Oh, yeah. He had an idea, didn’t he? What was he going to say? Harry swayed. Lightening flashed and he saw the old tree again. “There’s shelter.” He pointed and stumbled over to it. He weaved, but eventually he made it. It was still raining under the branches, but not quite so hard. He sat with his back against the trunk and gestured for Draco to sit by him. The blonde did so clumsily. “Take sweater off.” Harry managed to say. He was so tired. He just wanted to sleep. Why wasn’t he sleeping?

Draco didn’t see why he shouldn’t take off his sweater. He would be just as cold without it. So he listened to his friend and took it off. Harry did the same to his and came and sat in Draco’s lap. Their bare chests were pressed tight together. Draco wrapped his hands around his friend and held him close. Merlin, this felt so good…

“Wring them out and… put them… on both of us…” Harry croaked.

Understanding what Harry meant, Draco wrung out the shirts as best he could and then put them on so that each was encircling both of them and Harry’s bare chest was still pressed up against his. Draco pulled his legs up to try and capture more body heat while Harry straddled his waist. The brunette passed out in minutes and Draco soon followed.

Unfortunately, he was only asleep for a few hours when Harry woke him with his weak coughing. Draco frowned as he felt the fluid in Harry’s lungs with each ragged breath Harry took. He was also very hot, keeping them both warm. Curling more tightly around Harry, Draco bowed his head.

He was too tired and too numb to cry, but despair welled in his heart. They were absolutely lost. Death Eaters were after them and they had no food or shelter or help of any kind. With every hour, Harry was getting worse and sitting in the rain (which was now a cold drizzle) in November wasn’t helping anything. What could he do? He had to do something! He couldn’t let Harry die! He didn’t want to die either! It wasn’t fair!

Arthur waited for everyone to get done reporting to Albus before passing out the energy potion Severus had made and brought along with him. He wondered just how many potions the man had on him, hidden and shrunken in his billowing black robes. Sturgis took several and handed Hestia her portion. Minerva gathered the rest.

“And you’ve found no clues whatsoever?” She asked with a despairing sigh.

“Nothing.” Arthur shook his head and the other two mimicked his action.

“How far out have you gotten?” She questioned the others.

“About thirteen miles.” Sturgis answered grimly.

“Ten.” Hestia sighed, running her hands through her short hair tiredly.

“Fourteen.” Minerva frowned.

“Thirteen.” Remus added.

“Do you think my team is moving too fast?” Minerva asked the others.

“We could be going too slowly.” Hestia shrugged. “Narcissa is determined not to miss anything.”

“We’ll just have to do our best.” Arthur smiled encouragingly. “We will find them. It’s only a matter of time.”

Sturgis shook his head and left the hotel room. Hestia followed with a single nod of her head. Minerva smiled and gripped Arthur by the shoulder before taking her leave as well. Arthur’s smile fell when he was left alone. His hands clinched. He couldn’t loose Harry. The poor boy was like a son to him and he had already lost one too many of his children. Shaking his head, he hurried from the room, careful to lock the door behind him.

The rain had stopped, but now it was night; cold and dark. The stream was thicker and faster after the storm and it sounded like it was right next to him, though Draco knew it was a good twenty feet away. He wasn’t sure what had woken him. It could have been many things. His body was stiff, cold, and in pain. He was weak and hungry. Harry was trembling against him and every wet gasp of air sounded like it may be his last. The fever was even higher now, making Draco’s front way too warm and his back, legs, and head were freezing cold. He was amazed he had slept at all.

“Ray…” Harry groaned. “More… magic… back… that… way…” He tilted his head to point. The magic was directly in front of Draco and behind Harry.

He bit his lip. The stream was running toward it, so if they walked up stream, they’d be getting away, but… But he really didn’t think he could carry Harry any further and Harry certainly wouldn’t be able to walk. He groaned and let his head drop so that his cheek rested against Harry’s damp hair.

“Thank you, Harry.” He whispered. “Rest. I’ll watch over you.”

Harry nodded weakly and dropped back into a restless sleep. Draco held him close. They couldn’t go anywhere. Not now. Not like this. He’d have to wait. Wait until morning or the Death Eaters found them. Damn those bastards! He thought viciously. If he could kill every single one of them, he would. He was sick of running, sick of being afraid and helpless!

He took a deep, calming breath and made himself plan. When the sun came up, when things warmed up a bit, he’d get Harry to the stream and make him drink. Then he’d get them further away. Maybe they’d find a cave or a town or find the end to this damn forest… But for now… for now, he’d close his eyes again. All he could do was rest. He’d need to be strong tomorrow.

They made their third report of no news to Albus, but this time they weren’t alone. Each team had sent two members back to get a few hours rest. They’d switch off at the next shift. This would make the searching slower, but they couldn’t function on potions alone and remain clear headed.

Draco had kept to his plan. He had gotten Harry over to the stream and made the delirious boy drink as much as he could before doing the same himself. They put their still faintly damp sweaters on and Draco hefted Harry onto his back before making his way upstream. Harry had informed him the magic was still there behind them. Draco gritted his teeth and walked. The pain in his feet and legs was getting worse and he was feeling lightheaded, but that didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was that he kept moving.

Time passed surprisingly quickly as he drifted in and out of confused daydreams. He was pulled fully awake however when Harry went ridged on his back and his loud breathing stopped. Draco was just easing him to the ground when the pain hit and the familiar wave of vertigo that signaled the start of a vision swarmed up behind his eyes. He had just enough time to scream “Occlude!” at the top of his lungs before he passed out.

Voldemort glared down at his quivering followers with rage burning in his veins. Yesterday afternoon one of his prized pets had been found dead a mile outside of their camp. He had ordered Mulciber, Avery, and Nott to find out what had happened. Late that night, Avery returned to report.

Zabini had been killed by being hit in the head with a fairly heavy rock and looked mildly beaten. The Death Eaters had gone to Hogwarts to see if the little brother knew what Zabini had been involved in lately and found Blaise was missing. They had been lucky when they had gone into Hogsmeade and been approached by Nott’s son.

It seemed he and Blaise were hiding in town because they had kidnapped the Potter and Malfoy boys and didn’t want to be interrogated until it was too late for anyone to save the brats. After hearing this, Nott and Mulciber returned to Devon’s body and began searching for the missing children (Blaise had informed them of their de-aged states) while Avery came to report to Voldemort.

Voldemort had been furious that Devon had acted without telling him and then had the gall to be almost successful. To think The-Boy-Who-Lived was twelve once more and within his bloody reach! He had tortured Avery for a few hours to vent his fury, then called his Inner Circle to him and ordered them to go with Avery and help find the two boys and bring them back alive!

An hour after dawn, Avery returned again and reported the brats were being elusive. It seemed that Devon put powerful dark artifacts on the children to keep them from being able to use magic and these also interfered with their searching spells. They had to look manually. Voldemort had raged at his followers’ incompetence and tortured Avery for a while until he could think clearly once again.

When he had calmed, he called a general summons (it was these that pulled the boys into visions; they didn’t have visions when Voldemort only called a select number of his followers) and ordered all two hundred Death Eaters to scour Romania for the two boys. He threatened them all with death should the sun set with the two fugitives not found.

Draco woke with a groan. This time he had been behind Voldemort’s eyes, just like how Harry described the last vision, and he was terrified by what he had learned. Hundreds of Death Eaters were now searching for them. And they were to be brought to the Dark Lord alive.

Draco shuddered as he remembered feeling Voldemort’s deep fury and maddening blood-lust. He scrambled to Harry’s side. The brunette was hacking weakly and gasping for air. Draco quickly sat him up so that he could breathe easier. Harry moaned through another cough and opened his eyes. They were glassy and dilated. Draco winced as Harry’s fear and confusion and desperate need cut into him.

“Harry… Hold on to me… We have to keep moving.”

Harry pointed behind them and to the left. “…magic…”

“I know, Baby…” Draco pulled him onto his back. “Please, hold on. Harry, hold onto my neck!”

The brunette groaned and weakly wrapped his arms around the blonde’s neck. He coughed violently and choked as he tried to get in enough air. Draco began to trot, though he could only keep the pace for a few minutes before he was reduced back to a steady walk. He forced his body to obey him. They were being hunted and the predators were gaining on them and coming from two different sides now! Panting, Draco stumbled on, his eye wide and terrified.

Narcissa crouched close to the ground as she watched a pack of three Death Eaters walk by. Dung, her sister Andromeda, and Hestia were fanned out around her and had stilled when she did. The unsuspecting Death Eaters were surrounded. But she wasn’t sure what her next move should be.

If she attacked them, she’d alert Voldemort that there were Order members around and that could mean their deaths and the deaths of her son and Harry. Then she remembered something. Her sister… Andromeda was excellent at Memory Charms. If they captured them and questioned them, her sister could weave a spell so subtle no one would be the wiser.

The four Order members gathered in the hotel and shared news. Hestia quickly told them about running into the Death Eaters and finding out that the boys had escaped and were being hunted by every available member. They were running out of time. They needed to find the boys. Luckily, they also received a clue.

The boys had run from an area in Narcissa’s section and from what she could gather had fled north, which would lead them eventually into Severus’ section. So they no longer had to search the north or west, and Shacklebolt and Remus could join the others. After a quiet debate it was decided that Shacklebolt’s team would join Severus and Remus would join Narcissa.

Draco fell with a ragged scream of pain. Harry tumbled from his back and rolled away. His green eyes opened and he stared dumbly. His rattling cough resounded in his ears and his head hurt so badly. What would their father say to him lying on the ground? He hoped Ron was okay, though he didn’t know why he was worried about the redhead.

Wait… Where was Draco? He got to his hands and knees and looked around. It was really leafy here. Maybe he should sweep? Aunt Petunia would be so upset everything was so dirty. White blonde hair caught his attention and he crawled toward it with a smile. That disappeared instantly when he realized Draco was crying.

A high pitched whine of pain escaped the blonde’s throat and Harry frowned. That was not good. Not good at all. He felt his head clear and coughed hard. When he could breathe again, he looked his best friend over. He looked fine, if dirty. Draco will be so mad his clothes were ruined, his thoughts cut off as he saw Draco’s foot and ankle.

There was a metal circle of teeth clamped into the blonde’s flesh. Harry could see the white of bone and tendons. Strips of bloody skin were hanging through the ragged hole the teeth had made. Blood was pouring out; it smelled hot and tangy. “Draco…” Harry moaned. “Oh, no… oh, god, Ray, be okay…”

Draco couldn’t answer. He was mute with pain. Harry’s head snapped around as he heard something coming. It was faint, but he knew they were close. Harry coughed and spat out the mucus that rose in the back of his throat. Draco was hyperventilating. His eyes were wide with shock.

Harry remembered the blonde cooling his face with his own sweater. He had carried him all this way because he was so weak and now the Death Eaters were coming and they’d make Draco bleed some more. They’d make him scream. Harry closed his eyes as nausea built in him. He was weak. He was already lightheaded.

The sounds of someone coming were getting louder. If he squinted hard, he could make out shadows moving among the trees. He wouldn’t let them hurt Draco. He looked down at his friend and he felt love overwhelm him. Draco had done everything he could to save him. He had gotten hurt because of him.

“Harry…” Draco sobbed. “Baby…”

Draco’s heartbreaking cries broke Harry completely and suddenly everything exploded in a concussion of sound and light. Then he was yanked violently away from all sensation, like an accelerated portkey into a black hole. He ceased to exist. All was nothingness. Eternal echoes of nothingness.

Draco could hardly think past the pain. It consumed him and he would be screaming if he weren’t so weak. Hyperventilating, his head spun, and he was sure he was going to throw-up. The waves of agony came and he was helpless. Eventually, he could see again and he saw his baby crying and swaying on his knees next to him. He saw the despair and fear, though he couldn’t feel because all he could feel was pain. He begged him for help, even though he knew he wouldn’t get it.

Harry went ridged and head tipped back so his eyes stared at the canopy above their heads. Draco gasped and shielded his eyes as the collar around Harry’s throat glowed red hot and began to crumble apart. He gasped as he felt his own doing the same. They were liquefying. Magic surged around him and he could feel it again.

He was beat to the ground by the force pounding from his friend. He screamed, afraid for himself and afraid for Harry. Without warning the pain began to lessen and he looked down to see the metal horror melting away and his leg beginning to heal. It was only about halfway through when the magic disappeared like a snuffed candle. Draco gasped and his head snapped around to see Harry crumple bonelessly to the ground.

“Harry!” He cried hoarsely and crawled over to the smaller boy. He wasn’t breathing. “No! Baby! Don’t die! You can’t leave me!”

He slammed his hands on Harry’s chest over and over again. He screamed at the top of his lungs, but Harry didn’t wake. He didn’t draw breath. Hands grabbed him and flung him away. He screamed again as he saw a stranger in a black cloak kneel by his baby. Draco saw red and lashed out.

The man holding him yelled and dropped him. He launched himself at the man by Harry, but was tackled to the ground. His magic snapped around him, flinging leaves and the Death Eaters away from him. He snarled and ran at the man over Harry and this time connected. They both went down in a tangle of limbs. The other Death Eaters were firing spells, not caring who they hit.

Draco couldn’t avoid them forever and was hit. His muscles went limp and he was roughly slapped and the punched in the gut. He lay gasping and wild with grief and panic. His eyes fell on Harry and saw the smaller boy was breathing and his lungs sounded clearer. He didn’t understand at first, but his stomach dropped as realization came. Voldemort wanted them alive. That was why the Death Eater saved Harry.

“You bloody brat!” The Death Eater he had tackled spat. Draco grimaced as the glob of saliva dripped down his cheek. With an evil grin of anticipation, the man began to flick his wand, the gestures getting more violent as the complex spell spilled from his lips. “Paricreo tactus flagello excrucius!”

Draco screamed as a line of fire burned across his chest and side. Another lash and he screamed again. He could feel blood flowing down his stomach. The Death Eaters laughed and the two watching lifted him to his feet and held him up by the arms. Another lash and this time it was across his back. He arched with a weak whine of agony. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and he twitched and spasmed. They taunted him as he wept and more lashes fell slowly. Each one slicing into his skin and muscle, drawing screams from his tortured throat.

Without warning, the man holding his left arm collapsed. Thrown off balance the other Death Eater let him go and he crumbled the ground. His vision was fading in and out. The sound of fighting and spells was swallowed by the roaring in his ears. He only knew one thing that that was he wanted his baby. He crawled blindly until he hit a body and a blurry figure of Harry came clear for a moment before everything went black and he passed out. He fell on top of the smaller boy, shielding him with half his body.

Severus fought ferociously. His spells were violent and were fired with deadly accuracy. Icy cold rage governed his thoughts. How dare these pathetic weaklings whip his son? And was Harry alive? The boy hadn’t moved since they had arrived. A spell fired by Podmore skimmed his shoulder and he spun to see a Death Eater who was creeping up behind him fall. He grinned fiercely and continued to fight.

Moody and Shacklebolt fought side-by-side and cursed as more Death Eaters apperated in. The three who they had originally attacked must have called for help. They had to get to the boys and get out of there. They couldn’t afford fighting like this, not when the numbers were growing against them. And the boys needed medical attention. Growling, as one, the two men forced their way toward the downed twelve-year-olds.

Tonks fought two Death Eaters and was loosing ground. She cursed and cast binding spells and impeding spells. One went down and she cried out in triumph, but two more appeared in his place. She cursed again and continued to fight. Just when she thought she was going down, Diggle stepped up behind the Death Eaters ringing her and made them split their forces to confront him. The fight was on!

Emmeline Vance fell to a bone breaking curse. Her legs were both broken, but that didn’t stop her from firing from the ground. Several Death Eaters fell and she screamed with pain as she fired at more. A blasting curse threw her in the air and she fell like a rag doll. Someone screamed her name, but she didn’t know who. Everything went black when she landed and jarred her legs.

Arthur watched in horror as Emmeline went limp and a Death Eater sent a vicious cutting curse her way. He shouted out a shield spell, but was too late. Blood bloomed in the air as her throat was cut to the bone. With her windpipe severed, she suffocated in minutes. Arthur screamed in denial and horror, but was forced to concentrate as another wave of spells was aimed at him.

Narcissa and Remus’ teams ran onto the scene, drawn there by the huge concentration of magic. They leapt into battle and hurried to their comrades’ assistance. Andromeda got to her daughter just in time. Tonks was coughing up blood, her ribs were shattered on the right side and another blasting curse would have been the end of her. Narcissa and Remus slammed into the four Death Eaters keeping Severus from the children and the Potion’s Master slipped through. He dropped to his knees and with a quick spell that amplified his voice roared for the Order members to retreat.

There were a dozen sounds of apperateing and the Death Eaters desperately tried to follow. Unfortunately, tag-along apparating is chancy at best and only about seven of them actually ended up outside the front of the right hotel. They stormed in and cursed Muggles until they got the right room number. They stormed up the stairs and burst into the room to see the Order members portkey away. They cursed loudly and began to set fire to the hotel. The boys had gotten away and they knew their Master would not be pleased with them at all.

The portkey landed the group in an empty hall in Grimmauld Place. Their entrance signaled alarms that would have both Dumbledore and Poppy arriving in seconds. Arthur collapsed to his knees under the weight of Emmeline’s dead body. Andromeda guided her daughter against the wall and Tonks let out a scream as her shattered ribs tore into her lung. Blood gurgled up her throat and over her lips. Shacklebolt rushed to their aid.

Charlie went to help his father, who was bleeding from wounds he didn’t seem to know he had. Hestia and Hagrid ran from the room to get medical supplies and healing potions. Mundungus was sniveling in a corner with a broken arm. He fought viciously like a cornered rat during battles, but he was always useless after them. Dedalus was blind due to a spell, but was holding Minerva and staunching the wound in her shoulder. Sturgis and Narcissa stood stiffly by Remus and Severus as the two began working on the boys.

Severus quickly removed the boys from their clothes. They only got in the way and hid possible injuries. Narcissa’s hands clinched as she witnessed her son’s lacerated skin. Severus quickly cast a spell to slow the bleeding of the lashes, knowing Draco couldn’t take much more blood loss. He then switched with Remus, who had been casting general healing spells. The Wolf did so now on Draco as Severus worked to help specific damage.

Poppy and Dumbledore arrived and for a moment stood shocked as the moans, sobs, and death rattles reached their ears. Neither had seen anything like it since the end of the First War. Poppy recovered first and ordered Dumbledore to obtain more doctors. She couldn’t handle all this on her own. He disappeared immediately.

Hestia and Hagrid arrived and added to her supplies. She ordered Hagrid to inform the house elves that ten guest rooms needed to be ready for use and that once that was seen to he needed to return to the school and help wherever he could while the headmaster was away. Hestia was made into her nurse and she quickly went around the room evaluating which patients needed to be seen to first.

Tonks was the one most in need and she snapped out orders to those around her. They rushed to obey and soon the young Metamorphagus was on a conjured stretcher and was being spelled and fed potions. It was delicate work and would take a good hour. Poppy laid the ground work for the healing spells and let Andromeda and Shacklebolt supply the magic and energy for the finish. Then she rushed over to the boys. By this time the second healer had been brought in and he could handle the others with Dumbledore’s help.

She conjured two stretchers and cast extensive diagnostic spells. The readouts began to scroll and she set her mouth grimly. The boys had been gone a little over forty-nine hours and had been exposed to horrible weather conditions and stress. On top of that, they suffered abuse from enemies and emotional damage. This was going to take time to fix. She set to work; Narcissa, Severus, and Remus helped by offering their magic, strength, and hands.

Most of the rescue party had been tended to and were now tucked into bed in the upstairs rooms to sleep and heal. The Tonks women were sharing a room. Charlie and Arthur had opted to return home. Molly would be worried, otherwise, but they wanted to be informed of the boys’ progress.

Minerva had returned to the school to sleep in her own bed. Her shoulder still required a bandage, but should be better in a week, sooner if her magic worked to expel the dark residue from the curse. Dedalus, Hestia, and Sturgis all opted to stay even though they weren’t severely wounded. Should an attack occur at Grimmauld Place, they would be here to defend it and the wounded inside. Mundungus chose to return home and no one tried to convince him to stay. Shacklebolt wanted to remain, but had to return to home. He had to return to work the next day.

Severus, Narcissa, and Remus were the only ones from the rescue party that were awake and they sat in the kitchen with Poppy and Dumbledore, waiting to be told about their sons’ condition. It was well past midnight and Severus was so tired that he didn’t even protest when Remus leaned against him, helping to keep them both sitting up straight. Narcissa was a bit better off, having just gotten onto the scene before they apparated out.

“Well?” She demanded. “What is their condition?”

Poppy sighed and shook her head. “It’s not good, but they will heal with time. They both had severe blisters on their feet; Draco more than Harry. Both suffer from illness from long exposure to wet and cold; Harry more so than Draco. Both have circular burns on their throats that resist magical healing, but are beginning to respond, albeit slowly, to treatment. Severe exhaustion and fatigue has depleted them both and they are suffering from the first signs of starvation. Also, the flesh of Draco’s ankle was severely torn, but will be fairly simple to fix.

“More seriously, Draco shows evidence of suffering under Crucio, as well as being whipped. He suffers nerve damage and major blood loss. Both are being addressed, but treatment will be a slow process. Harry shows signs of nerve damage as well, but not from Crucio. It looks like a normal seizure. I can only guess they had a vision while they were on the run. He has also depleted his magical and physical reserve. We can’t really do anything about that except wait and keep him well fed and watered.

“What is most concerning is that he has developed pneumonia and bronchitis. His condition was delicate before he left and the stress, exposure, and starvation has weakened him completely. I have put him in a healing coma, but the illness is festering. The long fever has created damage in his brain and that will take time and intricate healing spells, and his lungs are suffering. There may be permanent scaring that will result in permanent asthma.

“We are doing everything we can to strengthen them and heal the damage done. Normally, I would say with certainty that they would both be fine, but due to their situation with their aging, I am not so sure. It will take a good two weeks for Draco to be returned to full health and Harry will need at least a month. But in just three days the boys will be at the mercy of powerful magic and their bodies will be put under great stress during the change.

“We already know that the injuries they obtain can hinder their health due to Harry being smaller than he was in Second Year. I can only imagine what will happen when they undergo the change in these conditions. They could be kept in the same condition and continue with the healing as if the growth didn’t happen, or their bodies could give out and their organs fail due to stress and weakness. I just don’t know. The best we can do is get them as strong as we can.”

“What about a Time Turner?” Narcissa asked grimly. “We can give them more time to heal.”

“I’m not sure that would be wise.” Albus shook his head. “They are already at odds with time in this condition. It may only put added stress on them. You know using a Time Turner makes use of the wizard or witch’s magic, and it is a constant drain to maintain the placement out of sync with your natural timeline. I don’t think the boys can handle that.”

“We must do something to guard their lives.” She demanded.

“And we will.” Albus answered calmly. “I have faith that the spell will not kill them; none-the-less, we will get them as strong as we can with very thorough care. You three need to rest. Sleep for a few hours. We will wake you should anything change.”

Narcissa looked mutinous, and so did Severus. Remus saw the wisdom in resting, however, and managed to talk them both into retiring for the night.

Poppy and the other medi-wizard, a David Lauren, worked every minute of every day on the two boys. They timed the potions by the second and got as many in the two boys as they could in the seventy-two hour time span without overdosing them. Neither boy woke once. Harry because he couldn’t, and Draco because he was that fatigued. They were fed by delicately force-apparating food in their stomachs every three hours. They began to put on weight and look healthier, but were by no means up to par when it came time for the spell to activate and return a year to their minds and bodies.

As soon as the magic of the transformation turned aged them a year in the space of seven hours released the now thirteen-year-old children, the two doctors rushed to their patients’ sides. Severus, Remus, Narcissa, and Dumbledore were on their heels, but kept out of the way as they watched for any sign of life or injury on their boys. Draco woke first. He looked around the room in confusion.

It took a few minutes for his eyes to clear. When they did, he began to hyperventilate with shock. It was just too overwhelming. Poppy quickly spelled him into a gentle sleep. He’d be released as soon as they were done and could give the poor child some space. She wanted to order the others from the room, but knew that would be futile. In ten minutes, she had the test results and after glancing at them, formed a plan. She carefully lifted the sleep spell and strode from the room gesturing the others after her.

They followed reluctantly. They wanted to be with the children, but desperately needed to hear the results of her tests as well. She knew it wasn’t a good idea to crowd a trauma patient. They needed time to come to grips with what happened and the reality that it was over. And as their doctor, the least she could do is maneuver for them a few minutes alone.

Draco woke for the second time and was glad to find himself alone in the room. It was quiet and the curtains on the window were pulled tightly shut. He didn’t know where he was, but that didn’t much matter at the moment. He knew he wasn’t with Voldemort since he remembered Madam Poppy, his mother, father, and Remus there the last time he was awake. And he felt warm and full, and that was much better than where he had been.

Once his heart calmed and he came to terms with not being on the run, he looked for Harry. His friend was in a second bed and was just stirring awake. Draco slowly sat up and dropped to the floor. He felt himself sway, feeling lightheaded, but quickly found his balance. He was crawling into bed with Harry by the time the green eyes were beginning to open.

Harry stared at his best friend. His mind was clogged with nightmarish memories of their kidnapping and the… days?... of running for their lives. Side-by-side with those, Harry found himself remembering a godfather, a rat, and a hippogriff. He could feel and taste the memories as if they were really happening, as if he were really there.

It was as if he were three people. Each one as real as the others. One Harry was still in the woods, terrified and weak. Another was trying to solve the mystery of who killed his parents. Then there was yet another Harry lying weak in a bed with a Draco Malfoy that didn’t match his new memories at all.

Draco didn’t comment on the numb dissociation he felt from his friend. He felt the same. Apathy rose up and he just lay there, staring. He couldn’t find any motivation inside to speak, move, or think. The only urge he had was the reflex to keep running. That they couldn’t stop or they’d be captured and… and he didn’t really want to think about the next part. But then he’d look around and know he was safe, so he tried to lay back and relax, but inside he was still running.

“What are the test results?” Narcissa demanded of Poppy as soon as they reached the kitchen.

“It is better than I could have hoped.” She smiled. “The boys’ injuries and illnesses are gone. They are as well as they would be if they were left to heal naturally for a year. Draco suffers minimal scarring from his physical wounds, but that can be treated with an ointment. His cold is gone completely. His strength and weight is only just below normal. He will need two days of quiet and rest, but he is fine.

“Harry’s illness is gone as well, but there is scarring in his lungs. He will have asthma. I will give you the recipe for the inhalant he will need for his attacks, Severus. They will be random at first, but some of the damage can be healed and then the attacks will only happen when he is over-emotional or fatigued. The minor damage to his brain is gone completely. He will still tire easily and will need to continue to nap during the day. His weight…” Here she shook her head. “It is dangerously low. He will be confined to bed for the rest of this week and our main goal will be to get him to eat as much as he can.”

Severus didn’t wait for any more information, nor did he bother to thank the woman for all her care. He turned and strode quickly back up the stairs toward the boys’ room. Narcissa gave a short bow and hurried after him. The nurse snorted at them and Dumbledore smiled with his eyes twinkling brightly.

“Thank you, Poppy.” Remus smiled.

The nurse smiled back as she took a seat tiredly, “You are welcome. I care about those boys as much as anyone else.”

“I know.” Remus assured her and went to the stove to prepare her a cup of tea. “We are still grateful.”

“I don’t know what you see in that man, Remus.” She sighed as she took the cup. “I’d think you two wouldn’t get along. You’re both so different.”

“Who else would have the tolerance and patience to put up with him?” Remus laughed.

“Now that you put it that way…” She grinned. “You’re perfect for each other!”

Severus entered the room and wasn’t surprised to see Draco had climbed into his Harry’s bed. His face hardened with worry as he really looked at the young teens. They both had a vacant, shell-shocked look to their glazed eyes that he didn’t like. And he could already tell by the thinness of Harry’s wrist and gauntness of his face that the boy was skeletal.

“Harry? Draco?” He put gently placed his hands on their head and stroked their hair.

“Are you alright? Can we get you anything?” Narcissa added, coming up and holding her son’s hand.

“No.” Draco answered softly. His voice was dull and lifeless.

Neither of the boys woke from their numb stupor, but Poppy and Dr. Lauren assured the adults that this was expected and they should just give the young Lord space and time. They all worked hard to get them both completely healthy again. After the second day, Draco was released from bed rest and Narcissa made him return to lessons. He went through them like a robot, answering questions with as few words as possible and never initiated contact, though he didn’t like being alone. He made sure someone from his family was with him every minute. And at night, he’d still crawl in bed with Harry.

Harry wasn’t allowed to get up unless it was to use the bathroom. Remus and Severus spent the days reading to him or telling him stories. As the days passed and he began to slowly put on weight and regain strength, his eyes began to thaw. He began to smile more and participate in conversations. And as he became more aware and engaged in his surroundings, he began to really worry for his best friend.

He remembered all that Draco went through just to protect him. How the blonde had suffered because Harry couldn’t walk on his own or because he had gotten sick. Why had he waited so long to try and break the collars? Why did he just assume he wouldn’t be able to? If he had broken the collars sooner, Draco wouldn’t have had to struggle so much. And… he forced himself to remember Devon. And Draco had protected him at great cost to himself. He had done that and had made sure Harry couldn’t help. And it was all his fault.

It was Thursday night and Harry had finally fought through his guilt and fear, and he had promised himself he’d try and talk to Draco. The blonde came to bed and smelled like soap. Harry smiled tearfully and pulled the blonde into a hug. Draco wrapped his arms around him automatically, but there was no warmth in it. Harry began to cry.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered. “I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. You have every reason to hate me and I’d understand if you didn’t want to be with me anymore. You don’t have to pretend anymore, okay? Just tell me, Draco. Tell me to go if you hate me.”

Draco blinked slowly, “What are you talking about?”

Harry propped himself up so that he was looking down at his friend. His green eyes were bright and filled with love and remorse. Draco felt something stir in him, but it was far away. He blinked again.

“You got hurt trying to save my life.” Harry explained. “I should have tried breaking the collars sooner and given you your back magic. I shouldn’t have been so weak and make you carry me. The Death Eaters caught up to us because of me and it’s my fault. And I… I should have taken care of Devon with you. You shouldn’t have faced that alone, Ray. You did what was needed and I wasn’t strong enough to help, and now you’re hurt and Madam Pomfrey says there is nothing they can do.”

Harry collapsed and cried into his chest. Draco felt something in him crack. His arms tightened around his friend and he was flooded with emotions. It was like someone flipped a switch in him. All the fear, desperation, anger, and horror that had been held at arms length crashed through him and he began to sob. Harry clung to him and rocked him, whispering promises that it would be alright and that he loved him.

“No!” Draco shook his head hard. “No!” He couldn’t put it into words, but he felt dirty. He felt so incredibly soiled. He could feel the rock in his hand. He could see Devon’s face. This was Blaise’s beloved older brother. Blaise had been his friend for a very long time and even though they weren’t friends any longer, pulled to different sides in this war by circumstance, he felt horrible.

Harry couldn’t feel Draco’s emotions the way the blonde could feel his, but he knew what had Draco shivering and shaking in his arms. He stroked the blonde’s hair and spoke to him softly. “Draco, you did what you had to. You know from the vision that they didn’t find Devon until a lot later that night. It gave us a whole day to get distance between us and the Death Eaters before they started looking for us. You saved our lives.”

“I should have found another way.” Draco shook his head, but was beginning to really listen to his friend.

“There was no other way. We didn’t have magic at the time and we were twelve. How could we force Devon to come with us against his will without alerting the Death Eaters? He chose to kidnap us and he chose to work for the Dark. Dad said this is a war and everyone who fights in it has to be prepared that one day they will not come out as the winner. Devon, and even Blaise, knew what they were doing. We had every right to protect ourselves, Ray.” Tears began to spill from Harry’s eyes and he hid his face against Draco’s neck. “You were strong when I couldn’t be. Thank you, Draco, for protecting me… For being my strength…”

Draco was still crying, but as Harry’s words sank in he felt himself calming. It was still horrible, but… but maybe it would be alright. Maybe he could forgive himself, if Harry could forgive him. Hands caressed his cheeks and his eyes opened wide as Harry’s mouth brushed his. His heart began to beat hard and his breath quickened. Harry’s tear stained face looked back at him.

“I love you, Draco. Please forgive me for not helping you more when you needed me. I promise I will do better from now on.” Harry pleaded.

“You did the best you could.” Draco said hoarsely and reached up to brush his baby’s hair from his beautiful face. “You are strong, Harry. You may not be able to carry me, but you brought me back. You kept me moving and you never turned away from me. I would have given up if it weren’t for you there with me.”

Harry smiled and leaned down again. Draco kissed him back and for the first time he realized that something more than brotherly love was spreading through him. He had always known he loved Harry. He had always known he had to look after the smaller boy, but this… this was something much more. Harry pulled away from the kiss, his eyes wide and his mouth parted slightly with surprise. He had felt it too. Draco hesitated. He knew Harry had been hurt, even if Harry didn’t, should they be doing this?

“Ray…” Harry’s eyes filled with uncertainty. And if it weren’t for the bond that let Draco sense Harry’s emotions, he would have pulled away thinking Harry was uncomfortable, but the fear that bloomed in his heart was the fear of rejection. Draco smiled and pulled Harry down for another kiss. There was no way he’d let his baby fear rejection from him. Harry didn’t deserve it and kissing felt so good, so right.

Their mouths pressed against each other and unlike the closed-mouth pecks they had shared before, they lingered. Their lips slid across each other and came back, soft as silk. Heat radiated between them and Draco felt as if he was being warmed from the inside out. Wordlessly, Harry surrounded him with his arms and parted his lips slightly to gasp in a shaky breath.

“I love you, Baby.” Draco whispered.

Harry smiled in delight and hugged the blonde. He had been shocked by his feelings, but, as was his nature, he accepted them quickly. It had been coming for awhile, he guessed. He had felt jealous of Pansy when she said she and Draco had tried to be in a relationship. And he’d never felt the way he did about Draco for Ron or Hermione.

He admired the blonde and trusted him more deeply than anyone else he’d ever known. He was beautiful and strong. He was just Draco and Harry wanted to be with and close to him always. He wanted him to be happy and wanted to share everything with him. He loved him like their Dad loved Moony. The joy he felt when Draco made it clear he loved him in return made him want to dance around. His cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

“Stop.” Draco laughed, getting high off Harry’s powerful happiness and his own.

Harry grinned and darted in for another kiss. “Thank you, Ray.”

“For what?” Draco smiled back.

“For loving me…. I know Dad loves me, and so does Moony, but…” Harry’s joy settled down into a powerful contentment. “You’re the one who was always there for me and no one has ever loved me the way you do. Nothing’s the same without you.”

“Same here.” Draco agreed, tucking Harry’s head under his chin as Harry lay out on his chest.

“Good night.” Harry smiled sleepily. His lips were still warm from being pressed against Draco’s. He hoped they would do that again a lot in the future. He sighed happily and cuddled up against Draco’s strong, protecting side.

“Night.” The blonde whispered with a smile.

Severus and Narcissa weren’t sure what happened. They woke up Friday morning and found Draco responding to them again. He’d returned from his defensive withdraw from the world and he seemed happier than he had in a long time. Remus took it all in stride and hugged both of the boys. He joked and played with them until Narcissa forced Draco to go with her downstairs to continue their studies. Severus sat with his lover and son and looked questioningly at the brunette.

Harry smiled at him. “We just talked.” His face turned serious. “But I think we need to talk to you as well. I haven’t really told you… all that happened.” He looked at his hands and Remus put an arm around his shoulders lovingly.

“We’ll talk after dinner.” Severus decided. “Now eat your snack.”

“That’s all I ever do.” Harry laughed, his good mood returning quickly.

Remus laughed and ruffled his hair before tucking the blankets more securely around Harry’s tiny legs and waist and setting a tray in his lap. Severus made sure the teen ate everything, though he swore he wasn’t hungry. Harry usually pouted, but today he did as he was told. He knew he was too thin. Draco was much bigger than him and was by no means fat. He wanted to get stronger. For Draco and for himself. There was still Voldemort to fight.

“Moony, Dad… Where’s Sirius?” He asked, just remembering that he wanted to ask. “Is he still in hiding?”

Both men stilled and went tense. Harry’s eyes widened and the fork clattered to the tray. “No.” He shook his head. Tear welled in his eyes and Severus quickly hugged him. Harry clung to his robes and sobbed. Draco came into the room at a fast walk and quickly climbed on the bed to wrap Harry in a loving hug from behind.

Remus’ eyes widened, distracted from his bad memories. He had spent a lot of time with the boys and was more aware of how the boys acted with each other than either Severus or Narcissa. And though it was normal for Draco to hold Harry, there was a faint difference in the way he did it this time and Remus knew what that was.

The boys were thirteen now and hormones had just begun to influence their relationship as a faint hint of sexuality hung between them. He looked worriedly at Harry, but the small brunette turned from Severus eagerly and calmed as soon as Draco began whispering in his ear. So it was mutual. In fact, from what Remus could tell, Harry may even have been the instigator.

He shook his head again. He wondered how Severus would react. He knew Narcissa would not be happy. Maybe they could keep it from her for a while? He had a faint suspicion that Severus would push the sex talk onto him and he sighed. It was harder being a parent than he had ever guessed.

Harry had calmed and accepted the fact that Sirius was dead. It still hurt and he wanted to know how he died, but respected his Dad and Remus and didn’t push when they said it was better if he was told at another time. Draco stayed by his side the rest of the day and they read quietly together, curled up and holding hands.

He felt much better with his – boyfriend? The thought made him blush hotly, but he was too shy to ask Draco what exactly they were – by his side. He knew the blonde was sad for him, but from the content expression on his face, Draco was also pleased that he could make Harry feel better. Harry shook his head and kissed the blonde’s cheek.

“What was that for?” Draco smiled.

“Just for being cute.” Harry grinned.

“Then I expect a lot of those.” Draco laughed. His smile gentled, but didn’t disappear. “You ready for dinner?”

“Yeah. I told Dad we needed to talk to him afterward.” Harry remembered. “I think it would be a good idea if we talked about… Devon and other things.”

Draco looked away. “Maybe you’re right.”

“I’ll be there.” Harry promised and squeezed his hand.

Draco nodded and helped his friend stand. Last night, Harry had been allowed to go to dinner in the kitchen and Harry was determined to do it again, and this time get there without needing to be carried halfway. They met Severus and Remus in the hall. The two were on the way to come and tell them dinner was ready.

Draco knew by the look on his father’s face that he was aware that his relationship with Harry had changed. There was a calculating and evaluating spark in his black eyes. Severus was still deciding if it were a good thing or not. Draco met his gaze without flinching and continued to support Harry as he made it down the stairs.

Harry was halfway there when his lungs decided to protest. He had been breathing a bit heavily from the exertion, but now he was having to gasp in twice as much air, half of it not helping him any. Wheezing, he stopped and fumbled at his clothes. Panic clawed at him, but it was a simple matter to ignore it. His father and Draco were right there. Moony too. They weren’t going to let him suffocate.

He placed the mouth-piece to his inhaler at his mouth and sucked deeply three times. His lungs unclenched reluctantly. He smiled at the others to let them know it worked, and they talked softly to each other about lessons and possibly starting to duel again while they waited for him to recover. No one wanted to hurry him. Harry smiled at that and shook his head. He never thought he’d ever find a family that actually would love him. He thought of the Dursleys and Sirius and felt a moment of humbling gratitude that he had any family at all.


[ 本帖最后由 寧 于 2009-7-24 19:41 编辑 ]

发表于 2009-7-24 19:21:34

Chapter Twenty-one

After dinner, Harry was carried by Remus into the sitting room. Severus and Draco followed. Narcissa tried as well, but Draco politely asked both her and Moony to leave. Harry assured them it wasn’t because they didn’t trust them; it was just going to be hard to talk about what happened, and it would be easier if only one other person was in the room. Narcissa and Remus understood and left without making them feel bad.

The three remaining sat in silence for a few minutes, just gathering their thoughts. Severus sat across from the boys and kept his face blank. He had already talked to both Harry and Draco about what happened. Draco had said as little as possible and recounted things with four sentences and refused to exceed those four sentences:

‘They were captured. They escaped. They ran for their lives and were recaptured. They were rescued.’

He didn’t know what Harry had said to Draco to make him snap out of it, but the child teen hadn’t said much more than Draco had. He was really worried about their mental and emotional state and was very eager to hear more details about what had happened to his children so that he could help them through it.

Watching them sit side-by-side now, he could almost feel the bond between them and knew without a doubt that Remus was right about their growing relationship. He had suspected that their relationship would progress in this nature, but he found he wasn’t prepared to really deal with it. The boys were thirteen now, but Harry hardly looked it.

The T-shirt and jeans he wore were three sizes smaller than Draco’s and still hung off of him. He looked much better than when he had first woken up after the spell, putting on about five pounds, but he still had a long way to go. It took all his self-control not to reflexively forbid them to do anything of a physical nature.

“You know that I was… tortured… by the Death Eaters before you arrived.” Draco began. His grey eyes were pinned on the wall, avoiding both Harry and their father. He couldn’t escape Harry completely, however, and he smiled faintly as he felt warmth and support flare through the bond just as Harry’s thin hand wrapped around his own.

“I am aware.” Severus said gently. “But had they not stopped to hurt you as they did, we would not have been in time to rescue you.”

Draco nodded, “I’ve guessed that… The point is… I hated it. I’m terrified of being at their mercy, and I know what they did to me is nothing compared to what they will do to Harry if they ever get their hands on him. I know… I saw what they did… to their prey on Halloween. I got off easy. It could have been so much worse, and that’s the point.”

He stopped to take a deep breath. Harry leaned his head against his shoulder, hiding his distraught expression. Funny, as soon as he felt Harry’s own fear and grief, Draco felt stronger. He smiled at the irony; he guessed pain shared really was pain halved. He ran his thumb in soothing circles over Harry’s skin. The brunette calmed.

“I knew we couldn’t be caught.” Draco continued, finding the strength to look at their father. Severus was looking back. He was waiting and there was no judgment in his eyes, just acceptance and a readiness to deal with anything that came his way. Reassured, Draco readied himself to tell the hardest part. “Knowing this, I couldn’t leave… Devon behind once we managed to render him unconscious. I picked up a rock and…” He swallowed hard and his eyes went wide. There was no controlling the panic that began to swamp him.

“No.” Harry shook his head and wrapped an arm around Draco’s shoulder. “That’s not what happened.” The blonde looked at him. His face was confused. “I was the one to pick up the rock and give it to Draco. Then I found a second rock. I knew as well as he did that if we walked away with Devon like that he’d wake up soon and come after us, most likely with help, and then it would be only a matter of time before we were brought before Voldemort and tortured and killed.”

“We had to kill him. I told Harry that and he agreed.” Draco nodded, remembering. “I didn’t know how to do it though. I didn’t have my wand or anything, and then Harry put a rock in my hand. It was heavy.”

“I got a second one because I wanted to do it with Draco.” Harry looked beseechingly at their father, his green eyes bright with tears. “I didn’t want him to do it alone because it was for both of us, but I hesitated and he shoved me away.”

“I couldn’t… couldn’t stand the thought of Harry… Of him doing something like that.” Draco covered his face with his hands. He was shaking. “Devon was unconscious and helpless, and imagining Harry killing him like that was… just too horrible. So I shoved him away and I spun around really fast and brought it down as hard as I could before I chickened out. I killed him.”

“He saved our lives.” Harry hugged Draco tight. “You saved our lives, Ray.” He lifted his head and stared intently into Severus’ eyes. “We had a vision later that night and Death Eaters had only just found Devon’s body. Then they had to figure out what he was doing that cost him his life.

“Voldemort didn’t know Devon was scheming to capture us. He wasn’t ready. By the time the Death Eaters found out we were in the area on the run with collars that blocked our magic, it was dawn and we had a whole day to get away from Devon and the Death Eaters. It’s my fault! I just assumed I couldn’t break the collars and I could have. I could have and we would have had magic and Draco wouldn’t have had to do that. We could have escaped without killing him.”

“No.” Severus came and knelt before them. “When you broke the magical collars, we felt it. It was a powerful magical flare and that would have only brought Death Eaters down on you. Draco and you don’t know how to apparate and had you tried, you would have killed yourselves because every place you know was very far from there.”

“He’s right.” Draco took a deep breath. “Harry, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You didn’t either.” Harry wiped his tears and stared at his friend stubbornly.

“No, he didn’t.” Severus hugged his blonde child. “You did the exact right thing. Sometimes we are forced to do horrible things, but the consequences of leaving those things undone are even worse. Draco, you made the hard choice and I am proud of your strength. You stayed calm in a very dangerous situation and thought clearly.”

“But he was Blaise’s brother.” Draco sighed. “If he had been a stranger…”

“You would have been just as disgusted and horrified.” Severus corrected. “Don’t fool yourself. Killing will always be horrible, whether you know the person or not. It should always be horrible. But sometimes it is unavoidable. You had a right to survive and protect yourself and Harry. What Devon did was wrong and he had to face the consequences just like you did.”

“I know.” Draco hugged his father. “I wouldn’t change it. I want to live and I will do anything to keep Harry or me from being brought before Voldemort, but it still makes me sick.”

“It will always make you sick, but don’t let it break you, Draco.” Severus stood.

“I won’t.” He promised softly. Harry smiled at him and grabbed his hand again. Draco squeezed it.

“Good.” Severus settled back in his chair. “Why don’t you tell me about what happened after you escaped?”

The boys had been put to bed an hour ago and were sound asleep by now, or so he hoped. Severus winced at the knowledge that the boys could be learning and experimenting with their newfound feelings. The door behind him opened and he knew without looking that it was the Wolf. Two strong, thin arms wrapped around his waist. He didn’t move to lean back.

“How are they?” Remus asked tiredly. The past week and a half had been very difficult.

“They were tortured and barely survived, but they are healing.” He answered. He felt exhaustion well up in him and he leaned against the mantle to the fireplace. The warmth of the flames was only making his sudden fatigue more powerful. He reached in his robes for a potion.

“No.” Remus said firmly. “Not another potion. You need sleep.”

“I have work to do.” Severus shook his head and pushed the other man away.

“Severus.” Remus growled. “You’re pushing yourself too hard. You’ll collapse soon.”

“I know my own limits.” He snapped and went to leave the bedroom.

Why had he come in here in the first place? All his work owled from the school was in the office. Maybe he had just needed space, he reasoned. Too bad he couldn’t get it with the damned Wolf always panting at his heels. Before he knew what was happening, he was grabbed and thrown backward. He panicked, but his mind was clouded with fatigue and his limbs were unusually heavy. Maybe he was overdoing the potions. He landed on the bed and was immediately pounced on by Remus.

“Do I have to pin you down to get you to sleep? I don’t mind.” The amber-eyed man smiled, showing all his teeth, and allowed his head to drop forward so he could lick luxuriously at his mate’s neck.

“Stop.” Severus hissed. “Not here, you imbecile.”

“No one’s here but us, Severus.”

Remus smiled as he found a particular spot that made the man beneath him involuntarily tilt his head in submission, offering him more skin to lick. He could smell his mate’s temperature rising and his heart was beginning to speed up. All he wanted was to ravish him. It had been almost six days since they had last had sex, and for a newly mated couple, that was way too long. But he wasn’t lying when he said Severus was on the brink of collapse. It would do him no good to get his system racing again. He needed rest. He shifted his weight so that he was laying half on the bed and half on the stubborn man.

“Go to sleep, beloved.”

Severus frowned, “Don’t call me that, Wolf. It’s disgusting.”

“What do you prefer? Mate?”

“Call me by name or nothing at all!” He hissed.

“Go to sleep, my Severus.” Remus growled lightly, biting a bit at his mate’s neck.

Severus shivered despite himself at the possessiveness the Wolf was showing and frowned. He shifted his weight, preparing to fight, when a thin hand came up to run threw his hair. Warmth encased him. It was much hotter than the fire and all his limbs turned to water. Severus threw his eyes open, wondering when he had closed them and scowled. The Wolf was manipulating him!

“Why are you fighting it?” Remus asked softly, worry thick in his voice. “Please rest. The boys will need you.”

“Fine. On one condition.” Severus caved, but he was going to do it gracefully.

“What’s that?”

“You have to talk to the boys tomorrow about sex.”

“And where will you be?” Remus propped himself up on an elbow and smiled down at the exhausted man beside him.

“I’ll be catching up on my work you wouldn’t let me get to tonight.” Severus smirked. His eyes had fallen shut again, damn them. He wondered if the Wolf were smiling or frowning.

“Fine. Now sleep.” Remus kissed his lips.

Severus fell asleep, never knowing that he was smiling.

Draco woke slowly. His dreams had been troubled and he felt no more rested than when he laid down. As he regained consciousness, warmth filled him and a bubbling happiness tickled him in his chest. He cracked open an eye to see Harry smiling happily as he played with his blonde hair. Within seconds, his fatigue and lingering distress was gone and he sincerely smiled up at his love. He cupped Harry’s face and ran his thumb along the still thin cheek. Harry’s smile widened and he leaned into the touch, his eyes falling half closed.

“You’re so beautiful.” Draco whispered huskily, his voice still rough with sleep.

Harry’s eyes opened and he smiled brightly with joy. Draco could feel it like a miniature sun sitting next to his heart. Harry leaned forward and kissed him hard. It wasn’t at all soft or lingering like their first kiss. It was demanding. Draco smiled against Harry’s mouth. The boy didn’t know what he was doing. He was pressing to hard and his lips were very tightly shut. Instinct and half-remembered memories told Draco that it could be better. He lifted his other hand so that he was framing Harry’s face and he moved his mouth in a deep kiss. Harry gasped, his lips quickly following his lead. They broke away panting.

“Wow.” Harry breathed. His eyes were so bright, they were almost glowing and his cheeks were red with a blush of excitement. His lips were moist and swollen.

Draco groaned and pulled him down for another kiss. He was just beginning to consider teaching Harry how to french kiss, when the door opened. He tensed, but was very pleased when Harry didn’t jump away from him. The smaller teen merely lifted his head with a gasp. Their father stood there and his face had gone completely blank. Harry sat up with a nervous smile and straightened his shirt, wrinkled from sleeping.

“Morning, Dad.” Harry offered, his voice cracking, but not from nerves. They were old enough that their voices were beginning to break and deepen. Harry’s blush deepened.

“I see you both are awake.” He looked them both in the eye, but said nothing about the kiss. “Get dressed. Breakfast is in ten minutes.”

“Yes, Father.” Draco smiled sweetly and earned a mild glare. It only made him smile wider. Severus snorted and swept from the room.

“Do you think he’s mad at us?” Harry wondered, biting his lip.

Draco’s good mood damped as Harry’s anxiety spiked. “Would it matter if he was? I love you, Baby.”

“I love you too.” Harry smiled nervously. “Why would Dad be mad about that?”

“He’s not.” Draco reassured, bringing him into a gentle hug. “He’s just getting use to it. We’re kinda young, but we’re not really, so… It’s kind of complicated.”

“Oh.” Harry looked up at him trustingly. His distress faded and a deep contentment took its place. Harry was smiling again.

“Come on. Let’s get dressed.”

Ten minutes later, Remus came in bearing a large tray covered with food. A house-elf appeared and prepared two lap trays for the boys. They settled back on the bed once the elf made it up. Remus asked them about their dreams and what they wanted to do today as they began to eat. It was nice and Harry was glad that Remus wasn’t upset about him and Draco. He caught his boyfriend’s eyes and smiled. Draco winked back at him.

“Do you want anymore?” Remus asked Harry. The boy could eat normal sized portions now and he had eaten all Draco had, but if he could fit more in, they would encourage him to. But he shook his head.

“No. I’m full.” He allowed his tray to be taken.

Draco got up and kissed his cheek. “I’ll go start my lessons. See you for lunch.”

“Bye, Ray!” Harry chirped happily.

“Not so fast.” Remus caught the blonde’s arm. “We need to talk, Draco Malfoy.”

The blonde widened his eyes and looked completely innocent. “What about?”

“You know what. Sit down.” He frowned at Harry. “Don’t look at me like that. You’re not in trouble. We just have to get a few things straight.”

Harry nodded, but couldn’t help fidgeting and biting his lip nervously. Draco smiled at him and wrapped an arm around his thin shoulders. Harry leaned into the embrace and grabbed the blonde’s hand. Remus watched them for a second and sighed, shaking his head with a smile.

“You two love each other?”

“Yes.” Harry answered sincerely, truth in his bright eyes.

“Of course.” Draco sniffed.

“And you have new feelings for each other. Feelings of pleasure and desire.” Remus continued. The boys blushed deeply and he grinned wolfishly. He’d be damned if he were going to be the only one uncomfortable during this. They would suffer as well.

“This isn’t necessary.” Draco protested. “I know all about sex. Or… I think I do.”

“Maybe so.” Remus shrugged and leaned back in his chair. “But just because you have these feelings and love each other, doesn’t mean you are mentally or physically prepared to continue all the way.”

“What do you mean?” Draco frowned.

“I mean you should take things slow. Enjoy one thing at a time. Make the newness last.” Remus became serious and leaned forward. His eyes were almost all gold now and the boys knew that he meant business. “Your father and I have discussed this. We know what it’s like to be thirteen and in love, but we also know that it is a time where it is very easy to make a mistake. You are allowed to date and share the same room, but there will be no more sleeping in the same bed.”

“But…” Harry protested, his eyes wide.

“No.” Remus shook his head. “You can have Draco in the room, only if you give me your word you will stay in separate beds unless one of you has had a nightmare. In that case, you will wake the other and come to your father’s room. Understood?”

“Yes, Moony.” Harry sighed, disappointed and not liking it at all. Not so much because he had planned to continue to test the new feelings he had, but because he hadn’t slept alone in what was to him years and it was a scary prospect.

“You are allowed to kiss, but there will be no groping.” Remus continued, looking mostly at Draco for this last one.

“What do you mean?” The blonde narrowed his eyes.

“You can hug Harry, but you are not to let your hand wander under his shirt or lower.” Remus coughed uncomfortably. “Maybe when you’re older, okay?”

“This is ridiculous.” Draco grumbled.

“We can always tell your mother.” Remus smiled sweetly and the blonde’s glare intensified.

“You wouldn’t.”

“We would if we felt you couldn’t control yourselves. Allow yourselves time to ease into this. Trust us and we will trust you.” He stood and put his hand on their shoulder. “You’ll be older in a matter of days. Please. This isn’t so much to ask of you.”

“Alright.” Harry nodded. “But it isn’t bad? To love Draco? That’s not why you’re saying all this?”

“No! Of course it isn’t bad!” Remus shook him gently. “It’s never wrong to love. No matter whom it is. I love your father, as you well know. There is nothing wrong with that. What we’re worried about is you two hurting each other accidentally. Or even missing out on some of the best parts of a new relationship because you two grew up, so to speak, so close together. You’ll skip ahead because you’ll think you know each other, but at this time in your life, you’re constantly changing and discovering yourselves and it wouldn’t be wise to overlook that. We want to make your relationship as healthy as we can. You two have been through a lot. We want to make sure you are alright.”

“I would never hurt Harry, accidentally or not.” Draco said angrily. “I can feel everything he feels. I wouldn’t be able to.”

“I know that, Draco.” Remus soothed. “Really I do. But Harry could easily get overcome with these new feelings and be alright, but later when everything cools down again, it might feel different.”

“I love Draco.” Harry protested. “I’ll never feel differently about him.”

“I didn’t say you would.” Remus sighed in frustration. “But these are the rules and if you can’t abide by them, you will be chaperoned at all times and you will sleep in separate rooms. This isn’t negotiable.”

“Fine.” Draco stood stiffly. “I have lessons to attend to.”

Harry watched him go solemnly. Remus gave an uncomfortable shrug. They sat in silence for a few awkward minutes, but Harry soon broke it asking if Remus would go over magical theory with him. He wanted to know more about those collars and how they worked. Remus gratefully accepted the change in topic and got out the books.

After their lessons, it was time for lunch (or second lunch for Harry who was still struggling to put on weight). Draco came up to help him down the stairs. Remus went behind them and Severus stayed a few steps ahead of them incase they fell. Harry was flushed and again had an asthma attack. Everyone waited for him to recover, but Harry was not happy.

He was tired of having to be carried everywhere. He was tired of keeping everyone waiting for him. And most of all he hated staying in that one room all day and night, only coming down for lunch with the rest of the house. He wanted to be able to go with Draco to lessons. He wanted to walk in the garden Remus told him was out back. He wanted to be able to get to the bathroom within five minutes. He didn’t like depending on everyone. He wanted to be stronger. He still felt bad about being such a burden to Draco when they were escaping.

Draco smiled at his boyfriend. Harry was so determined. His body was weak right now, but he was so strong on the inside. His emotions were twice as powerful as his own and he suspected that to be true of most everybody. There was no one as alive as Harry. He took his love’s hand and squeezed it reassuringly. Harry squeezed back, but when he met Draco’s eyes, his were blazing green with determination.

“I want to do this on my own.” He said.

Draco nodded and let go. He knew Harry was serious and he wouldn’t tell him he couldn’t try, but he’d be close enough to catch him if he were to fall. Severus frowned, but the little Lord glared at him and the man kept his silence. Harry breathed slowly, trying not to have another asthma attack. He took the next step alone, Draco’s solid presence giving him courage. He took another and his legs began to tremble, his lungs tightened warningly. He was almost to the bottom of the stairs and his body was tired. Frustrated and angry, he scowled.

“Forget this.” He shook his head, talking to himself. “I’m not being trapped up there any longer. I will get there on my own.”

As if in answer, he felt his magic swirl to the surface. It was powerful, much more powerful than he ever remembered it being in his memories of his time at Hogwarts with Ron and Hermione. He embraced it and asked to be able to get around on his own without tiring or stressing his body. It spilled over in answer and with a joyful cry, Harry felt himself rise a few inches in the air. He was floating. No! He was flying!

Severus stared, not sure if he should tell his son to stop or not. Harry’s long-sleeved blue shirt was waving gently against his son’s body as it floated in the air. His wild hair waved and rustled lazily as if in a gentle breeze. Harry’s arms were outstretched for balance and raised out from his sides. He was terrified Harry would fall and opened his mouth to snap at him when he noticed his son’s bright, joyful eyes and very large grin. He hadn’t seen Harry smile like that in almost two weeks. He shut it again.

“Amazing, Harry.” Remus smiled broadly. “Is it hard to maintain though? I don’t want you to exhaust your magical stores.”

“No.” Draco answered for him. “I sense no stress yet.”

“It’s easy and it tickles some.” Harry laughed. “This is great!”

He flew toward Severus just over walking speed and swerved to the side and past him. Going forward, his whole body tilted slightly and reminded Draco of a ghost. Remus was laughing, but Severus, whose heart had stopped in fear when his son rushed past, looked about ready to scream.

“Look! I’m not tired at all! And I can breathe still!” Just as he said that, his chest tightened and he forced himself to calm. Flying like this didn’t stress his body, but getting over excited would. He smiled joyfully and called up to Draco. “Show me the garden after dinner, okay, Draco? I want to go outside.”

He flew into the kitchen and out of sight. Draco raced after him, leaving the two men alone on the stairs. Severus shook his head in wonder. Remus came down beside him looking bemused. “He really is powerful.” He said softly.

“Very.” Severus agreed.

“How is it possible? I thought it was impossible for any spell to allow a wizard to fly.” Remus couldn’t stop staring at where his godson had done the impossible.

“He just willed it and his magic is strong enough to support his desire.” Severus said softly. “I guess it’s a matter of Harry not knowing it is impossible and so does it.”

The Order members all fell silent as a joyful Harry Potter flew into the room and floated to his seat. Draco came running after and was enthusiastically praising Harry’s new ability. The others could only blink in shock. The only two who weren’t as surprised were Dumbledore and Narcissa. She remembered Harry almost killing her and this was only another demonstration of the boy’s incredible strength. Dumbledore had felt the boy’s strength while he dueled the boys and it had been strong even while Harry held back, afraid he’d hurt someone. He was very pleased with this new more obvious display of power.

“You are feeling better.” He smiled at the boys.

“Yes, sir.” Harry grinned. “This is so much better! Now I don’t have to stay up in that room all the time!”

“That’s wonderful, Harry.” Dumbledore said.

Severus and Remus joined them and they all ate lunch, talking happily. When Draco finished, he jumped up and said he’d take Harry outside. The smaller teen floated out of his seat and flew up behind Draco, wrapping his arms around the blonde’s neck from behind while still hovering several inches off the ground.

“Look! I’m tall as you now!” Harry laughed in delight.

Draco smirked and grabbed one of Harry’s hands, running out into the yard. It felt like he was tugging on a balloon as he went. He laughed at that mental image. “Don’t float away.” He grinned as they stepped outside.

Harry smacked him playfully on the shoulder and flew out the door. He drifted from flower patch to flower patch, admiring the plants and colors as he absorbed the sun. It was chilly out, but it felt heavenly. He looked back and saw that Draco was standing and watching him. His thick braid of white hair swayed in the light breeze like a cat’s tail, dangling just past his bottom.

He wore black slacks and a long-sleeved, white button-up. His silver eyes were soft with affection and his sculpted lips were relaxed with a very faint smile. Harry’s heart tightened. Draco was so strong and tall, so handsome. He flew over to him and stopped inches from his face. Draco didn’t flinch, his mouth had quirked up into a happy smile as they looked at each other at eye level.

Harry grinned mischievously and reached his hands into Draco’s hair. The blonde cried out as he felt his hair come undone and flow loose. Several strands blew across his face and he slipped it back behind his ear. His frown disappeared however when he felt Harry murmur against his lips. “So beautiful. I love you, Draco.”

The brunette kissed him, slow and deep. Both of Harry’s arms wrapped around his neck and one hand slipped up into his hair while the other arm wrapped around the back of his shoulders to hold him close. Draco wrapped his arms around Harry’s tiny waist and kissed back hungrily. Harry tasted like silk, warm and smooth. He tasted of bright colors and powerful magic.

Draco felt overwhelmed with desire and love, with the need to protect Harry and make him happy always. The powerful feelings were echoed by Harry’s own love for him and it was sharp and consuming in his chest, bringing tears to his eyes. He closed them quickly. He didn’t want his baby to think he was upset. Eventually they broke away and Draco stared adoringly into Harry’s bright eyes. He wondered if there was anything he could do for Harry’s eyes. He wanted to be able to see them without glasses in the way. He’d have to remember to ask Pomfrey.

“What are you thinking?” Harry asked.

“You have gorgeous eyes. They’re so expressive. And I was wishing you didn’t need glasses so I could see them better. I was thinking I should ask Madam Pomfrey about it.” He explained as he reached up and brushed Harry’s hair from his face.

“Do you think she could?” Harry asked, tilting his head adorably.

“Maybe.” Draco smiled. He leaned forward and kissed Harry’s nose. “Come on. Let’s walk around.” He took Harry’s hand and they began to tour the garden. They walked in content silence, basking in each other’s presence.

Narcissa backed away from the garden silently and shut the back door. Her heart was pounding in her chest with shock and she thought she might have a panic attack. She hadn’t seen this coming at all. She had thought her son’s relationship with the Boy-Who-Lived was brotherly. They acted like close twins, siblings. So when had…

She shook her head. This… this was wrong. Draco had shown no interest in boys and definitely no interest in Harry Potter. For Merlin’s sake, he had dated Pansy for a few months before deciding they should just be friends. How could this happen? It was the spell. She knew it. She felt her nerves steady and her mouth settled into a grim line. She’d have to find Severus.

It didn’t take long to find him. He was in his office, working on the things Professor Farris had sent him. The substitute had taken over Severus’ teaching duties completely now and Dumbledore was acting as Head of Slytherin House while he and the boys remained at Grimmauld Place. The dark-eyed man looked up as she entered, but didn’t push aside his work.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She demanded.

Severus didn’t bother pretending he didn’t know what she was talking about. That would have been too insulting for Narcissa to bear. “I only found out today.”

“What are you going to do about it?” Her eyes narrowed.

Severus knew instantly that his and Remus’ guess that Narcissa wouldn’t be pleased was correct. “They are thirteen and believe themselves to be in love. I’ve placed restrictions on them and as long as they don’t exceed these, then I see no problem with this development. It is natural for boys this age to feel…”

“I know what’s natural.” She growled and leaned forward aggressively on the desk. “Draco began dating Pansy in his Third Year, so I’m well aware what is natural for a hormonal teenager. What isn’t natural is that he feels these things for a boy. A boy who is practically his brother, at that! Draco wasn’t homosexual before this spell and it is twisting him into something he is not.”

“I hardly think you know all there is to know about your son’s love life before this happened.” Severus answered coldly. “He dated Pansy in Third Year for a few months and they called it quits, deciding to be friends. He didn’t date anyone else in the two years that followed. He was learning what he liked and hadn’t yet come to decide. His leanings could have very well developed long before this spell. What I do know is that this spell is not shaping either of them. It changed their bodies and not their personalities.”

“How can you say that?” Narcissa screeched. “It has obviously changed both of their personalities. Neither one of them acted this way before the spell.”

“But that is not due to the spell.” Severus stood and fought to keep his voice lowered. “They have changed because their experiences have changed. They are reacting and adapting to everything that has happened, both good and bad. Their minds have grown together, yes, but they are still themselves.

“Draco may not be as self-centered as before, but it is hard to be so when you are always aware of how another feels. And Harry is happier, more confident. He feels safe and loved for the first time in his life and it is only natural that he reacts to that. They both have faced horrible trials together and survived. This has drawn them closer and taught them about reality and their own strengths and weaknesses. These boys are healthy and doing very well considering all they have been through.”

“Healthy!” Narcissa raged. “This is NOT healthy! They are obsessed with each other! They are practically one person!”

“Their love for each other is deep and true.” A calm voice said from the door. Narcissa’s head snapped around and stared at Remus. “That is why they are always in each other’s thoughts and hearts. What they have is very rare and beautiful, Narcissa. We should be grateful. Draco will not find someone else in the world to love him as Harry does. Harry will put Draco first and protect him as best as he can. He will make Draco happier than any of us can imagine.

“And let me tell you something, Mrs. Malfoy. I taught Draco in Third Year when he was dating Pansy. He was not excited by her, only curious and experimenting. He was gay before the spell; he was just unsure of how to act on it. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn he experimented with other boys that you have no idea about.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Narcissa hissed. “I would know if my son were… that way.”

“Would you?” Severus asked gently. “Lucius was a huge wall between you until recently and there is no way Draco would have told his father. Lucius would have been furious that his only child wasn’t planning on giving him an heir.”

“And why not?” Narcissa growled. “He is Lord Malfoy. He has obligations and responsibilities to his family.”

“And he will fulfill them.” Remus argued back. “His love life will not prevent him from taking his place as Lord of your family. The Malfoy’s are many and he can name anyone of them as his heir and train that person for that place while he has his life with Harry. You can’t expect him to sell his soul for the family name, Narcissa. This is your son. You should want him to be fulfilled and happy.”

“You both are supporting this?” She glared at the men furiously. “How could you, knowing what will happen when Harry remembers being Desecrated?”

“We don’t know what will happen when he remembers.” Remus countered. “This could even help him overcome the horror by knowing what sharing his body is meant to be.”

“From the beginning, you two have sacrificed my son for that hopeless child.”

“Harry isn’t hopeless, Narcissa.” Severus spat. “And no one is sacrificing Draco. If you would open your damn eyes, you’d see that he’s happier than he ever was. He’s more mature and he’s even stronger. Never before has Draco been so sure of himself and certain of who he is and the power he possesses. He lets no one sway him, but he is intelligent and accepts advice and guidance. He’s becoming a very strong young man and you should be proud.”

“Proud that he only gives his duties as Lord Malfoy a few minutes of his day? Proud that he is more concerned about Harry and this war than he is with his future? Proud that he would die for that boy?” She tossed her hair and stood straight. “You are making a mistake by allowing this.”

“Don’t interfere, Narcissa.” Severus said, his voice a silky threat. “You’ll only turn your son against you for good.”

She stared at him for a long moment before turning and sweeping from the room. Remus watched her go with worried eyes. He turned and looked back at his mate. “Should we warn the boys?”

Severus stared at the door, his eyes dark and thoughtful. “No. Draco would confront her and she’s not ready for that. She’d only push him away for good. No. We will watch her very closely and hope she comes to accept things. I think anything that tries to come between those boys will be smashed to pieces.”

The day passed and Narcissa made no move to interfere. She watched the boys through hard, masked eyes, but they were oblivious, too caught up in each other to really notice anyone else. Draco and Harry talked a lot about Hogwarts and what they remember from their school years there and how they now feel different or the same in some cases. Draco related his relationship with his father and what was expected of him. Harry talked about the expectations of the Wizarding World and his godfather. They talked about their friends and what they missed and what they would now do differently.

When it was time for bed, they went upstairs reluctantly. Neither was happy about having to sleep in separate beds. Draco had tried to plead with their father to change his mind, promising they wouldn’t mess around at all, but Severus was firm. When he saw the true unhappiness in their faces, he compromised and had the beds pushed close enough together that the boys could just reach each other’s hands if they were to hold out their arms.

Harry got into bed and Draco got into the other one. They looked across at each other and sighed. They guessed it wouldn’t be that bad, but the bed was not as warm as they were used to it being. Severus sat between the beds and offered to tell them a story. Both boys accepted and listened to their father’s deep, melodious voice until they fell asleep.

Severus watched them for a few minutes longer and made his way to his bedroom. He had to agree with the Wolf. The love those boys shared was true and powerful. If you looked, you could see it in every gesture and glance. It was disconcerting because he couldn’t fathom that much devotion and connection between two people and the unknown was always disturbing. And it was beautiful, like the sound of two perfectly harmonizing voices singing as one.

He opened his bedroom door and found the Wolf curled up in bed, sleeping. He found himself smirking. He slid across the floor silently and nipped at the man’s neck. Remus’ eyes fluttered open and Severus flipped him over violently onto his stomach and pinned him there. Remus gasped.

“I think it’s about time you were punished for taking advantage of me the other night.” Severus purred into his lover’s ear.

Remus’ eyes flashed gold instantly and he began to pant. Severus smirked and whispered an incantation, wandlessly binding the Wolf to keep him where he was. He brought his hand up and slid it into the soft, golden brown and grey hair. He stroked gently once, twice, then grabbed a handful and pulled hard, lifting Remus’ head up. The Wolf gasped and squirmed, rubbing his hips into the mattress beneath him. Severus licked up the man’s neck and bit at his ear. Remus shivered.

“Yes. You need to be taught a lesson.” Severus settled himself, straddling his lover’s waist so that he was sitting on his lower back. He reached forward with his free hand and caressed Remus’ jaw, bringing his fingers over the man’s parted lips. He slipped two long fingers into the Wolf’s mouth and ordered in a hard voice, “Suck.”

Remus closed his lips around his mate’s fingers and licked up and down them, sucking and stroking them. Severus was breathing hard as he watched the Wolf obey him. The sensations of that warm, rough tongue made his blood heat and his groin tighten. He whispered another spell and Remus’ clothes were banished into the corner of the room. Surprised, the Wolf gasped and released Severus’ now wet fingers.

“Good.” Severus purred leaning forward and shifting backward so he was now sitting on the man’s thighs. Without warning, he slipped both fingers inside his lover’s tight body. Remus arched with a long whine of pleasure. Severus watched through half-lidded eyes as Remus squirmed and panted as he worked him higher and higher toward climax.

“Please… Severus… I need you… Now… Take me…” Remus begged, his voice trying to be demanding, but coming across weak and needy.

“Say you’re mine, Wolf. Admit it.” Severus whispered huskily.

“I’m yours!” Remus gasped and growled deeply. “Yours.”

Severus couldn’t wait any longer. He removed his fingers and quickly undid his robes. He was too hot and distracted to try spelling them off. Remus whined and growled into the pillows as he waited for his lover. When Severus returned and pushed in viciously, he howled. Severus’ panting breaths caressed his bare shoulder and Remus began to fight his bonds. He wanted to twist around. He wanted with desperate passion to flip their positions and ravish his teasing, delicious mate.

“Mine… My Severus…” He growled and pushed his hips backward, taking control of the rhythm. Severus buried his face into his neck and hair and wrapped his long arms around his chest. “Yes… Need you… Love you…” Remus panted and growled as they rocked.

Severus bit down hard as he exploded in his lover. Remus keened, struggling against the spell holding him in place. The smell of his mate coming, the feel of him was taunting him. He growled and thrashed. Severus collapsed, panting, eyes feverish. Remus mindless with lust and still hovering on the cusp snarled and the spell snapped.

He twisted around and rolled on top of his sated mate. Growling in pleasure, almost purring, Remus removed the rest of his lover’s clothes. He lay on top of him, chest to chest and spread Severus’ legs. The man watched, silent. Remus licked and sucked along his neck and bare shoulder as he slid inside his mate.

Severus gasped and arched weakly. Remus kissed him hard, slow, and began to move. He penetrated deep with each thrust and pulled slowly back out to plunge in again. Severus gripped the blankets on either side of him as he rode out the waves of pleasure that built and built. Remus came hard as he felt Severus’ hot semen spurt weakly between them. The tangy scent drove him over the cusp and he moaned, biting hard on Severus’ shoulder, marking him, claiming him, both inside and out.

The next day Harry ate breakfast downstairs and sat in the sitting room with Draco while they took their lessons. Remus was teaching him about Transfiguration that day and he found it fascinating. He left for his first lunch a couple hours later and Draco was released to duel with Dumbledore before lunch with the rest of the house.

The boys handled themselves well. Harry’s spell power was lower than normal, but still much higher than before they had become afflicted by the de-aging spell because he was maintaining his flying. Draco was very good at strategy and Harry seamlessly followed his lead, making them a formidable team.

They ate lunch and played a few card games with Tonks and Sturgis in the garden. Harry had another snack and a nap before dinner. Narcissa was silent and Draco was beginning to notice something was wrong with her. He watched her warily, but was careful to keep his suspicions from Harry. The brunette was so happy and he didn’t want to change that so soon.

After they ate, their father and Remus took them to a smaller sitting room. Harry floated into Draco’s lap and he held the smaller boy comfortably in his arms. Harry magicked a long strand of hair free of his braid and began playing with it with a content sigh. Severus ordered them hot chocolate and they sat comfortably for a long minute. Draco grinned as he noticed the way Remus was staring at their father.

Severus scowled playfully at the blonde, but that became serious. “I thought we should talk about what kind of memories you are about to recover. Fourth Year was a difficult one for you Harry.”

Harry looked over worriedly. “What happens?”

“There was a Tournament. Three wizarding schools from Europe get together and compete in three tasks. The winner gains a trophy, prize money, and honor for their school.” Remus explained gently. “It was held at Hogwarts that year and three champions were chosen. Victor Krum, Cedric Diggory, and Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons.”

“A fourth name was chosen. It was yours.” Severus took over. “The new Defense teacher was really a Death Eater in disguise and he placed your name in the goblet under a false fourth school. Your name had to be chosen in that case since it was the only one entered for that school. You participated in the Tasks and did really well. You tied with Cedric for first place and both took the trophy at the end. It was a portkey, planted by the Death Eater, and you were taken to Voldemort. You were rendered helpless and forced to participate in a ritual that brought the Dark Lord back into full power and body. Cedric died.”

“What?” Harry was trembling now and tears sparkled in his eyes. Draco hid his face in Harry’s hair and held him close, soothing him.

“You dueled Voldemort.” Severus continued. “It ended in a draw and you were able to come back with Cedric’s body. You were taken from the scene by the fake Defense teacher, but before he could hurt you we found you and apprehended him. He died from the Dementor’s Kiss a little later.”

“Oh, Harry.” Remus went and knelt in front of the boys. Harry was hiding his face against Draco’s shoulder, but Remus could smell his fear and tension. He wrapped them both into a hug. “I’m so sorry.”

They sat together for a few hours after that. They talked about all different things. At first they talked about what would happen in Fourth Year, but they soon wandered into comforting subjects that held little meaning. They talked about favorite foods and music. Remus told a few good stories about his days wandering the world.

Soon the boys were ready for bed and they walked them to their room. They made sure the boys were tucked into their separate beds and told them goodnight. Harry was already asleep, but Draco was able to answer sleepily. As soon as the two men were gone, Draco slipped out of his bed and crawled up next to Harry. The brunette made room for him, even in his sleep, and sighed softly. Draco could feel his muscles relaxing and the sluggish tension on his chest eased. Smiling, he pulled Harry close and fell deeply asleep.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Draco woke abruptly. There was no inbetween state between consciousness and sleep. Grief and anger were erupting in his stomach and magic sizzled in the air. He sat up with a gasp and watched the walls smoke and the furniture slowly crack and topple over. Clothes and books were thrown against the walls again and again. He turned and faced Harry. The teen was sitting with his back to the headboard and his face buried against his knees, which were drawn up to his chest. He reached for him without fear and drew him into his arms.

“Baby…” He wasn’t quite sure what else to say, so he rocked the smaller boy gently.

Harry shook in his love’s arms. His eyes stared, unseeing. His mind was churning around the new memories and remembered terror and guilt. He clutched at Draco as his lungs spasmed. His magic lashed out viciously in frustration and the walls cracked. Their dad and Moony were trying to get into the room, the door moving in a few inches before slamming shut in their faces. They were yelling; asking what was going on and demanding to be let in. But he couldn’t find it in himself to care at the moment.

“It’s not fair.” He whispered tightly.

“What, Harry?” Draco asked softly. He stilled and lovingly brushed his long hair from his face. He wasn’t surprised to see the rage overtaking the grief in his love’s spectacular green eyes. He could feel it, after all.

“It is not FAIR!” Harry yelled. He glared into Draco’s eyes, though he knew he shouldn’t take it out on the blonde. “Why ME? Why does he want to KILL ME SO BAD? It’s not like I CAN DO ANYTHING TO STOP HIM! I just want to be left ALONE!”

Severus stumbled into the room, finally able to fight past the damn door. Remus was at his back and they both froze as Harry’s hot gaze focused on them. Draco smiled grimly and just held the smaller boy to his chest as Harry began screaming at them.

“Why didn’t I DO anything? Why didn’t I shield Cedric? How could I JUST STAND THERE? And then let myself be TIED BY WORMTAIL! He took my blood! And Voldemort came back! ALL BECAUSE OF ME! What was WRONG with me? I’ve faced worse and was never as HELPLESS AS I WAS THEN!”

“Harry, child…” Severus said as he came forward.

“NO! I don’t want to HEAR IT, DAD! I don’t want to hear that it wasn’t my fault, that I couldn’t do anything! I BLOODY WELL COULD!”

“You could now.” Draco offered. “You’ve seen and done more things than you had when you were fourteen the first time.”

“And you have a family this time around to support you and to draw strength from.” Remus added.

“You did the best you could, Harry.” Severus said roughly. “You always do. You hadn’t been prepared as we’ve been trying to prepare you.”

“Why?” Harry shook his head. “Why is my magic so much stronger now?”

“It’s because we were able to raise you without fear of yourself.” Severus answered. He got close enough now to sit at the foot of the bed. Remus came and knelt on the floor beside him and he grabbed Harry’s hand, not daring to take him into his arms or away from Draco. “The Dursleys made you fear magic, Harry. You locked it away to try and avoid being punished by unavoidable, accidental magic. But you didn’t do that this time around because you were not made to fear your magic. So it is free as it should have been.”

“Why didn’t I take it off?” Harry demanded. “When I was in trouble, why didn’t it come off?”

“It’s not that simple.” Severus shook his head once. “You weren’t even aware it was there. The mind is complex and hard to understand, but even after you got to Hogwarts, you couldn’t believe in magic deep down inside. The Dursleys made you so afraid of it that you couldn’t trust magic completely, so even when your life depended on it, you kept it bound. You couldn’t believe that it would help.”

“That’s STUPID!” Harry roared and the walls groaned.

“It’s not stupid, Baby.” Draco argued. “You were an innocent child and it was ingrained in you for years that magic was bad and unnatural. You know it was. You were so young and it became a certainty.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Harry.” Remus knew that look on his godson’s face. “You were abused and that abuse left scars. Your magic was scarred and handicapped.”

“But why?” Harry’s voice was pitiful and lost, but his magic weakened and he slumped against Draco. “Why does he want me so bad?”

“There is a prophecy.” Severus sighed. “I’m not sure exactly what it says, but you are the only one capable enough to stand against him. But you will not stand alone, do you hear me? It will never happen again where you face off against that monster by yourself. We will be right there helping you as much as we can!”

Harry threw himself into his father’s arms and began to cry. Draco pat him on the back, eyes burning with tears as Harry’s cutting emotions tore at his heart. He smiled when Moony came and sat next to him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. He was glad he wasn’t pulled into a hug. He really didn’t need it. The arm around his shoulders was enough.

“Well, boys.” Poppy smiled at them. “You both check-out fine. Draco, you are now five feet, five and a half inches tall and weigh just over one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. You are completely healthy, with only a little scaring on you back and your ankle.” She turned her eyes to the petite brunette and smiled at him. “You’re nerves have made a complete recovery and you have no illness in your system. Your lungs are still scarred, but there was slight improvement so I am encouraged that you will continue to get better. I doubt the scarring will ever fully leave you, but your attacks should lessen with time. You are still small for your age and underweight at four feet, eight inches and eighty five and a half pounds, but considering how much you weighed after your transformation last week, you’re recovering.”

“Thank you.” Harry smiled at her, blushing a bit.

“I think you’re cut small.” Draco grinned at him teasingly.

“I’m still growing!” Harry protested and slapped his shoulder. “You’re just a half-giant!”

“I am not!” Draco gasped, horrified as he pictured himself growing as big as Hagrid.

“Ahem.” Poppy stared at them sternly.

“Oh, we’re sorry, Madam Pomfrey.” He smiled charmingly. “Sometimes it’s hard to get him to act his age.”

“Hey!” Harry laughed and the mediwitch’s lips twitched.

“In any case, I expect you to continue taking your nutrient and high-calorie potions.” She told the brunette.

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry slid a look to his father who he knew wouldn’t let him miss one.

“Very good.” She ruffled his hair and he pouted at her. “Would you like chocolate, or are you both two old for that now?”

“I don’t think anyone is ever too old for chocolate.” Remus chuckled.

“Good.” Poppy handed them both a piece and sighed. “I remember the first time I tried to get you to take the chocolate, Harry. Draco, here, had to coax it into you. You were such a cute baby.”

“He still is.” Draco piped up and ran laughing out of the room. Harry flew after him, promising painful retribution.

“That boy never ceases to amaze me.” She shook her head and turned her attention to Severus. “I would like you to take a look at something.”

Severus accepted the papers and stared at them blankly. He looked up, asking with his eyes if she were sure of these results. She nodded solemnly. “This would make Harry equal to Dumbledore in magical strength.”

“Yes. Combined with his youth and strong emotions, he can do more with that power than Albus, who is caged by his age and certainty of what is and isn’t possible.” She sighed and began fussing at her robes. “He’s only fourteen and his power will continue to increase.”

“We need to start training him seriously.” Remus said. “Draco’s power levels are increasing as well. They’re a bit higher than when he was originally fourteen, aren’t they?”

“They are.” She nodded. “It is my educated guess that he will be about three fifths as strong as Harry when they stop growing. He will most likely be a bit more powerful than Severus.”

Severus nodded agreement. He was equal to Minerva and they were the strongest on the staff besides Albus. Flitwick came third and then the others trickled in after that. Remus was a bit weaker than Flitwick, but had extremely tight control, so he could do things some with less control and more power could not.

“Should we tell Albus?” Remus asked.

“Yes. We’ll need his help.” Severus nodded, though he didn’t like it. The old man had been too grasping when it came to Harry for him to feel comfortable with it.

“I could go.” Remus offered and Severus agreed.

Narcissa sat across from her son. She made her daily report of the affairs of the Malfoy businesses and investments and he was busy writing official replies. She was proud of his competence. He didn’t once hesitate over wording and always struck the perfect balance of being superior and also a co-conspirator. He would be a great leader. No, she shook her head, he was already a great leader. He would never have been able to do the things he was doing when he had been fourteen originally, so why was she so concerned for him?

She sighed as she looked across the room to see Severus drilling Harry in magical theory and other such things. They would duel later whenever Albus was available to stand against the boys. He had informed her that they would be stepping up their training and she had agreed wholeheartedly. The better her son could protect himself, the better she’d feel.

But there was no protection against his heart. She hated that he had fallen so deeply for the small brunette. She couldn’t believe everything would work out for the best. History had proven again and again that those who had been Desecrated could not survive. Harry was special and powerful, but he couldn’t win against himself. And Draco would die if Harry did. No longer was there a chance he could possibly be put back together again. He lived for the other boy.


She looked up to find her son’s eyes scrutinizing her. “Yes, Dragon?”

“What is on your mind?” He pushed the last of his papers away and stared at her patiently. “You’ve been on edge for days. I’m tired of waiting. What is bothering you?”

She glanced over at the others, but Severus and Harry were oblivious and concentrating in their own world. “I am concerned for you.”

“Why?” Draco raised a single eyebrow.

“You know why.” She said softly. “I know of your feelings… deepening… for that boy. I’m worried that should the worse happen, you will not survive. I would be heartbroken if I lost you, and I know Harry wouldn’t want you to perish as well.”

“Mother,” Draco sighed and stood. “Come with me, please.”

Harry looked up as soon as Draco stood. He smiled at the blonde and Draco gave a small smile back. Severus watched them walk out of the room, his eye unfathomable. Narcissa tried to ignore them both and followed her son. He led her to the garden and whistled for the owls waiting in the tree there. He tied the messages to each owl deftly and sent them flying. Narcissa waited patiently for her son to face her.

Draco turned and looked up only a few inches into his mother’s eyes. “I know you love me. You’ve sacrificed a lot for me and have done everything you could to mute my first father’s influence on me. You saved me when I could easily have tipped over into the madness that is Voldemort, and I am grateful. I really am, Mother. I love you. But you worry too much. I am not going anywhere and neither is Harry. I am not deluding myself. I know the road will be hard and extremely painful, but we will survive this. I give you my word we will not let this kill us. We have too much to live for.”

“It’s not that simple.” Narcissa folded her hands before her. “There have been those Desecrated in the past with mates, children, spouses, lovers, and goals, but none of that saved them.”

“None of them were Harry. None of them had me.” Draco said evenly, but his eyes were sharp and hard. “You can’t deny that and I beg you to consider it. You have believed in me all my life. Don’t stop now, Mother. I will save Harry. He will save himself.”

Narcissa felt so weak standing next to her young son. He was so certain of his convictions. It had been a very, very long time since she had last felt weak and she didn’t appreciate the feeling in the least. “What about this war? I didn’t want you to join the Death Eaters, but I don’t want you fighting in the front lines either.”

“Things happen that we don’t expect or necessarily like, but we have to adapt and turn the situation to our advantage. That is what you’ve taught me. That is what I’m doing.” Draco took her hand and forced her to look him in the eye. “I’m sorry I’ve caused you worry and disappointment, but trust me when I say that Harry is worth it and extremely special. He will surprise you. His strength isn’t solely magical in nature. We will win against the past and we will win against Voldemort. I’m asking you to help soften the price those victories will cost us by standing by us.”

“Of course I will.” She said icily. “I will always stand by your side.”

“Thank you.” He smiled and kissed the back of her hand. “Now please stop worrying and watching me like a hawk. It’s annoying.”

“I will try my best.” She smiled. “You really love him.”

“Yes.” He answered easily.

“And you have always preferred boys?” She couldn’t help asking.

“I have.” Draco admitted. He didn’t look away, but he couldn’t hide the faint blush either. “After Pansy, I realized that I was more interested in the boys on my Quidditch team. I was too afraid for a long time to make an actual move, afraid Father would find out, but in Fifth year I had a thing with a Hufflepuff. I couldn’t trust other Slytherins not to blackmail me eventually. We didn’t love each other, but we became friends. He hooked up with a boyfriend over the summer before I returned to school and all this happened.”

“Who?” She smiled.

“Mother,” he gasped, mocking astonishment. “How can you ask such a thing? You raised me better than to kiss and tell.”

“Oh, get in that house and finish your work.” She laughed.

He smiled at her, “Thank you, Mother.”

“Go on.” She waved him off.

He nodded and left her alone in the garden to think.

Everyone had been asked to leave Grimmauld Place if they weren’t participating in the little mock war that was being staged that afternoon. Albus, Severus, Remus, and Narcissa were on the Death Eater team. Harry and Draco were on the other team, alone. They were sent out to the garden to wait while the house was booby-trapped and the adults got into position. They’d know when the war was starting when the first attack came. Harry was a bit nervous as well as excited. Draco was just excited. He stood next to his friend and was whispering his plans into Harry’s ear. The boy was still floating and their heads were exactly even.

“You are better at sensing magic around us, so you will have to be on the defensive until we are sure the house is clean. Go in front of me and maintain the necessary shields. I’ll focus on attacking the enemy. When you are certain the area we are in is free of traps, signal me by swaying to the right a bit, so we’re more side-by-side and concentrate first on removing any shields or obstacles that are protecting the enemy. After that, take the ones on the right and I’ll concentrate my fire on the ones to the left. When the enemy goes into retreat, return to your guard position and leave a few traps of our own behind so that they will have a hard time sneaking up behind us. We’ll make a circular sweep of the house, careful not to cross back over into area’s we’ve booby-trapped.”

“Alright.” Harry breathed.

“Don’t hold back too much, Baby.” Draco grinned. “They’re tough old buggers and Madam Pomfrey is standing by.”

“I know.” Harry nodded, eyes grim. “We’re training to fight against Voldemort, and we cannot afford to hold back.”

“Exactly.” Draco reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze.

Harry looked over at him and smiled gratefully. “I’m so glad you’re here, Ray.”

“Me, too.” He grinned back. “You know I love this.”

“I know.” Harry smiled. “Otherwise I’d feel guilty for putting you in such danger.”

“Well, I’m glad you know better.” Draco said and ducked violently to the right as he shoved Harry to the left.

A strange orange spell that neither of the boys recognized landed where they had been standing and it exploded, leaving a three-foot wide pothole. Draco grinned, eyes bright and leapt for the back door. Harry flew into the advance position, rapidly examining the door and disabling the two hexes he found there before throwing it open and flying inside.

He landed in the hallway beyond the door on his knees, his hands spread in front of him and to the side. Draco stopped at his back, still standing, trusting in his friend’s ability to shield him absolutely, his wand (still really Harry’s) in his hand and aimed. His hair was braded tight and wrapped in a secure bun at the back of his head. His robes were dueling robes, black. Harry matched him.

There was no one in the hall. Harry waved his hands purposefully, shutting and hexing the door. While he did that, Draco was casting his own traps on the ceiling and in the bottom corners of the room. There were three doors. One at the end of the short hall that led to a sitting room, one on the right lead to the kitchen, and the one on the left was a small study. Harry checked all the doors and found hexes on two of them. He nodded at all but the kitchen door and Draco pointed to the left. The hexed doors first.

Harry agreed and opened the door as Draco sealed the other two until they were ready to deal with what might lie behind them. Remus was waiting for them and pounced, eyes gold. There were eleven days until the next full moon, so Remus was at full strength and had absolute control. This was the time he was most dangerous, besides when he was a werewolf. Harry flung his mentor across the room, but the werewolf used his wand to cushion his fall and spring back at them, this time firing spell as he went.

Draco was casting back. The man rolled and sprang, but a few struck him and he howled and cursed. Harry’s shield was flickering between colors as he adjusted them instantly for each spell. They ricocheted around the room, one of them hitting Remus in the leg and he toppled over. Draco animated the couch to move and imprison the growling man. Harry checked for spells and Draco made sure the man was down and out of this little game. Unconscious and wrapped in wood and cushions, Remus lay harmlessly within his prison. Harry cast a diagnostic spell.

“Nothing permanent. Deadening hex on his leg, two nasty burns on his chest, and a powerful befuddling charm. Madam Pomfrey will be able to fix him up.”

“We need to keep moving. Activate his portkey to send him to the Hospital Wing where she’s waiting.”

Harry nodded and did as he was told. Draco was spelling traps into the room and Harry was preparing the door. When they were finished they exited and went toward the sitting room, locking the study behind them. Draco’s heart was beating strong and adrenaline raced through his system.

The mock war lasted three and a half hours. The house was torn apart and all of them sported injuries. Harry had a black eye, Draco a broken wrist and sliced cheek, Severus was tongue-less, Narcissa had bruised her back from being thrown into a wall, and Albus had broken a knee. Poppy was fussing furiously over all of them, but they ignored her, talking instead about what they had learned and discussing better ways to handle the situations they were presented. Harry was asleep halfway through the conversation and Draco smiled down at him.

“I have sent elves to restore Grimmauld Place as much as they could.” Albus chuckled. “I think it will be ready for another go the day after tomorrow. Would you mind if I invited a few Order members to join?”

“Who?” Severus asked wearily.

“Sturgis and Charlie. We’ll keep adding people as we go. Until then, why don’t you all stay here at the castle? You can continue your lessons here while the house is being restored.”

“Very well.” Severus nodded. Remus was glad to hear his lover’s voice. It had been very disturbing to see him without a tongue. Where did Draco learn such spells? He shook his head, knowing the answer. At least, he knew they could defend themselves.

“I don’t know why you insist on this madness!” Poppy exclaimed.

“Hush, dear.” Albus twinkled at her. “It’s all for the best, and you don’t want to wake young Harry, now, do you?”

“Of course not.” She huffed. “You ran him ragged!”

“He’s fine.” Draco assured her. “He feels better than he has in days. He can’t stand being cooped up with no activity.”

“That may be so, but this isn’t healthy! He had three asthma attacks and any one of them could have caused serious damage.”

“But they didn’t.” Severus reasoned. “He has to learn his limits and how to best work around them. He can’t be guessing when he’s seriously fighting for his life.”

“He’s just a boy.” She mourned.

“He’s more than a boy, Poppy.” Remus said sadly.

“Well, if you all are done mooning,” Draco sneered, knowing Harry would hate all this pity. “We’d like to return to our quarters.”

Remus, Severus, Narcissa, and the boys returned to the dungeons. They got some paperwork done and the boys took dance lessons from Narcissa when Harry woke. They ate twice and then had a big dinner. Everyone was conscious of the goal to get Harry stronger and heavier, and they took every opportunity to get the boy to drink milk and juice or to have cookies and snacks. After dinner they spent a few hours perfecting their Occlumency shields. They were both progressing rapidly now, and Severus had hope that Harry wouldn’t suffer as he usually did during the next vision.

They had a chance to find out if Severus was correct the very next day. It was only about two hours after breakfast and they had stopped their studies for a snack when Harry went rigid and fell from his seat. Severus dove for him as Remus dove for Draco, both men sharply ordering the boys to Occlude.

Voldemort stood in front of his throne. His followers were gathered before him and at the back of the crowd were his “recruited” allies. Caged magical creatures thrashed and screamed, but would become his obedient tools once the correct spells were placed on them. Each one had a handler whose sole responsibility was to control one of the creatures. Seventy-five of his precious Death Eaters had this privilege. He looked at the followers closer to the front. They held themselves stiffly. He smiled in pleasure at seeing it. He had punished a good fourth of them severely for their failure in bringing him the two vulnerable boys, but now was not the time for such thoughts.

“Now is the time we show the world what we are made of. That we will not be taken lightly. We will fill them with terror and take control back from our weak government! It will be us who set the rules and guide our country into a glorious future where the whole world will know their place. Muggles will be our slaves as they should, and we will reign triumphant over our brother and sisters not strong enough to take their rightful place! Do not fail me, my followers. Now is our time to triumph!”

The group of about three hundred and fifty men, women, and teens cheered hysterically. Voldemort smiled at them and with a sharp wave of his arm, Dissapparated them from the room. Half were going to the Ministry in London. Half were going to Hogsmeade to capture a base from which to attack Hogwarts. Within an hour, three blocks of London would be on fire and Hogsmeade would be leveled. He threw back his head and laughed.

“No!” Draco and Harry sat up and yelled at the same time. Harry looked up at his father and began babbling what he had seen and learned. Draco was on his feet, flooing Dumbledore. He explained quickly and the Headmaster rushed from the fire and began to call in the Order and Aurors.

“We have to help!” Harry yelled furiously.

“You are not ready.” Severus snapped.

“Maybe not to take on Voldemort,” Harry agreed, “but I can shield and heal well enough to make sure others get to real doctors in time to survive.”

Severus’ face darkened furiously, but Draco interrupted him. “Harry’s right. We all need to band together. Everyone needs to do their part or we will fall. We cannot allow Voldemort to take Hogsmeade. The castle will be too vulnerable if that happens. We need to go there and help all we can as well as you do. In fact, you should send Sixth and Seventh years who know any first aid or who can make healing potions up to the Hospital Wing to prepare for those coming with injuries.”

Harry stood straight and flew into Draco’s arms. He had an apology in his eyes, but he could not wait any longer arguing. He closed his eyes tight and with a roaring, silent demand, forced his way through the anti-apparation wards and into Hogsmeade. Severus roared furiously and raced out of the dungeons, heading away from the castle and out from under her wards. Narcissa was pale, but didn’t run after him or the Wolf, instead she turned and went to do as her son indirectly ordered. She’d fetch those who could help and bring them to the Hospital Wing.

The battle was hard. The Order was prepared, but was only a small group. Dumbledore had chosen to send most of them to Hogsmeade, having to trust that the Aurors could defend the Ministry and London. There were about a hundred and fifty Death Eaters there, laughing as they caused death and destruction. About fifty creatures with claws, sharp teeth, and sometimes deadly poison were running rampant. The thirty Order members were outnumbered and outmatched. Harry, Draco, Severus, and Remus did all they could, but they were only four people. Harry was tired from forcing him and Draco to apparate. His lungs were still paining him. But he was the strongest one there. Albus was called from the middle of the battle to London; they were losing the battle there as well.

Harry hated to do it, but he couldn’t stand it anymore. His face was smudged with soot. There were still innocents trapped in Hosmeade, screaming, hiding, terrified. The dead littered the ground like dolls thrown by a spoiled child. Most were Death Eaters, but not all. Harry was shielding as many people as he could, but he was getting tired and there were still so many Death Eaters. He watched in horror as a woman came running out from cover after a panicked child. The beast leapt on her back and decapitated her. The child turned, screaming as she was sprayed in the face with the woman’s blood.

Harry screamed and reached for his friends from memory. Hermione, Ron, Neville, the twins (who hadn’t been at the school, but down the street battling at their shop), Charlie (who had been battling at the other end), and Arthur (who was in the middle of the battle at the Ministry) were all forcefully apparated to his side. They gasped as they looked at him. Draco was behind him, firing vicious spells without pause, covering the small brunette’s back.

“We need help.” Harry croaked, swaying on his feet in exhaustion. “Can’t do much more than shield now. Help us.” He sunk to the ground and Ron caught him, propping him up against the wall. Harry fought to remain conscious so that his shields would not fail, but he could do nothing more than that.

“I’ll go get the rest of the DA!” Hermione yelled. “Charlie! Make me a quick portkey so I can get back here fast!”

Charlie nodded and pulled his father to him for help. It took almost fifteen minutes, but it was done. In the meantime, Neville, the twins, and Draco continued to fight as the Death Eaters tried to bring them down. Huge cats and maddened threstrals clawed at the barrier Harry had erected, keeping them from his friends and other wizards battling all down the street.

The battle lasted almost fourteen hours. Many were killed, but thankfully none of the Hogwarts group. In the end, all of the Sixth and Seventh year Gryffindors joined the fight at Hogsmeade, as well as the two Creeveys and Ginny Weasley who had been in the DA last year, making a total of twelve. Five Hufflepuffs and nine Ravenclaws joined the battle as well, again all DA members. But more surprisingly, five Slytherins (Pansy, Vince, Greg, Terrence Higgs, and Daphne Greengrass) came to help fight after tying and locking up those that tried to stop them. In all, not counting Draco and Harry, thirty-one students came and helped support the Order members and staff.

Many of the Hogwart’s Soldiers, as they were now called by the papers, were injured, but would make a full recovery, though most would carry scars for life. Harry held out until the end, but as soon as the last Death Eater either fled or was subdued, he passed out. Draco was not much better off, but refused to be babied. A surprising group unity had come over the school. Rivalries were forgotten as they stood side-by-side and protected their castle from harm. Hogsmeade was destroyed; very few buildings stood without damage, but most of the citizens had gotten out alive and were now up at the castle.

The Ministry did not fare as well. It was completely taken over and half destroyed. Several London blocks were indeed on fire and the Muggles were in a panic, thinking they were being attacked by foreign terrorists. The world was shaken and dangerously balanced. The Muggles were now standing off against each other, placing blame for the destruction and lost lives. They might go to war as the Wizarding World struggled to overcome the darkness in their midst. Fortunately, many of the Ministry employees were saved and were brought to Hogwarts, making it the temporary Ministry of Magic. The papers were writing like crazy to keep the populace informed of who their leader was (Fudge had died and was now replaced), what was going on, and what they should do to keep themselves safe.

The castle was in chaos. Many parents demanded their children returned to them. Dumbledore pleaded with them to reconsider, that Hogwarts was safer than anywhere else. Many subsided or asked to join their children in the castle. Dumbledore agreed, either was fine with him. But some parents, though believing Hogwarts was the most protected structure in the Wizarding World, also knew it would be the next target and would be hit hard, so they still demanded their children. Dumbledore did everything he could to get those children home safely and none of them were attacked in transit.

“I don’t have time to wait and gain my memories back!” Harry yelled. He had woken up an hour ago and was very mad that he was left to sleep for almost twenty-four hours when his help was obviously needed. “I want to know what I don’t remember and I want to know what is happening in the war.”

“Severus,” Albus interrupted, knowing that look was a sure sign his spy was about to explode. “He may be fourteen, but he is growing up in difficult times. The war will not wait for him. He must be informed of as much as he can.”

The man glowered, but said nothing further. He had been one of the ones most severely injured in the battle at Hogsmeade. His left leg was useless and it would take months of healing and therapy to make it mobile again. The injury had made him even more fiercely protective of both boys. If it weren’t for Remus standing at his side, resolute and strong, the man would have been confined to a bed in the very crowded Hospital Wing.

“Do you know the prophecy, sir?” Draco spoke. He sat next to Harry. Both boys were calm, serious, and prepared. Their eyes held the strength they had found in each other and from their hard experiences. Albus wasn’t even tempted to ask him to leave. He knew these boys were joined forever.

“I do indeed.” He sighed. What followed was an explanation of what happened fifth year.

Harry lowered his head when he learned of Sirius’s death and how he had been manipulated by Voldemort because he had stubbornly refused to learn from Severus. Guilt and horror ate at him, but Draco took his hand and he forced his head up again. This was not the time for regrets or confusion. He listened to the whole prophecy and looked over at his boyfriend.

“Think you’re the power Voldemort knows not?”

“Maybe.” The blonde nodded once. “Merlin knows I’ll be standing beside you when you face off with that insane bastard.”

Harry nodded acceptance. He would have felt guilt had anyone else made the claim that they’d fight beside him and make themselves a target for all the Death Eaters and Voldemort, but he couldn’t when it came to Draco. He had no illusions about his blonde love. Draco would be in the middle of things, whether Harry was there or not. He enjoyed battle, though he didn’t like killing or hurting people, he did like testing himself and fighting for what he believed. He would NEVER sit on the sidelines. He had always pushed himself into the center of attention, even if it was negative attention. He was confident and a natural leader. He would never run and hide when this battle would affect his world and his life.

“Harry…” Dumbledore spoke up. The brunette turned to look at him. “I’m sorry. Your Fifth year was a mess. Things could have been handled much better…”

“Maybe, but we can’t worry about that right now. Tell me what’s happening.” Harry shook his head.

“Voldemort has fallen silent.” Dumbledore sighed, relieved and disappointed at Harry’s dismissal. “We don’t know what he plans to do with the things he now has in his possession from his possession of the old Ministry. Most dangerous artifacts were destroyed before the Death Eaters could get their hands on things, but not all. Files and records are in reach. As well as a few power nodes that are anchoring certain spells that keep everyday things running in the Wizarding World. Like the owl enhancer, making them more intelligent and helping them carry out their duties as messengers. That is only one example.”

“All the Aurors and those loaned to us from other countries are making their base in Hogsmeade, are they not?” Draco asked.

“They are. Their numbers amount to four hundred.” Dumbledore nodded.

“Who is leading them?” Draco cocked his head.

“The new Minister, Rufus Scrimgeour, has taken control of all martial forces. They take orders directly from him or his three Head Aurors.”

“And they are?” The blonde drawled impatiently. It was like pulling teeth!

“Amelia Bones, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Vance Robards.” Dumbledore answered.

“Does anyone know where Voldemort might strike next?” Harry asked solemnly.

“None.” Dumbledore shook his head. “I assume it will take him time to consolidate what he’s gained at the Ministry Building and recover from his losses. In the meantime, we will prepare the Wizarding World and guard the more vital places in our Society.”

“Thank you, Headmaster.” Draco stood. “It’s almost lunch and we promised to meet a few friends.”

“Of course.” Dumbledore twinkled at him.

“Can we come and talk again?” Harry asked.

“Yes, of course, my boy.”

Severus bowed his head as his lover and sons left the office. Dumbledore smiled at him knowingly and Severus sneered before following them down the stairs and back into the castle proper. Remus was waiting for him there, but the boys were already halfway down the hall. Draco was striding along, his head held confidently, but his image was weakened by the fact that Harry was floating behind him, his arms wrapped loosely around the blonde’s neck and whispering in his ear.

Severus shook his head, exasperated. “Are they really going to meet their friends?”

“Yes. I believe they want to talk to the DA.” Remus smiled.

“Should we be letting them do that?” Severus scowled. “The student’s shouldn’t be encouraged to leave school grounds.”

“We would have lost Hogsmeade if it weren’t for them.” Remus argued. He sighed and took a few steps away and looked over his shoulder. “Are you coming?”

“Where?” Severus narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

“I thought we could make plans of our own.” A slow grin spread on Remus’ face and his amber eyes were glowing a bit.

“I have potions to brew.” He snapped, trying to hide the lust that speared through him at the other man’s expression.

“But it’s time for my ointment.” Remus cocked his head, eyes teasing.

Severus scowled fiercely, but moved to follow his lover. He dragged his leg gracefully and pretended that it was his idea to be going back to his quarters. In all honesty, he felt rather unsettled. His leg wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to him during the battle. In fact, worse almost did happen. Two Death Eaters had backed him into a corner and he had fallen due to the pain in his leg. One launched a cutting spell that would have decapitated him if it hadn’t been for the Wolf.

With a yell of rage, Remus had tackled him flat and then leapt for one of the Death Eaters, too enraged to remember to use his wand. The spell had grazed Remus and cut a long diagonal gash in his back from right shoulder to left hip. It would easily get infected and Severus had vowed to make sure that didn’t happen. He was shocked at the Wolf’s passionate defense of him and for the first time in his life, he felt protected.

It was an amazing feeling, but on top of all the other unsettling emotions caused by the battle and his sons participating in it, he felt a bit overwhelmed. And as he always did when unsettled, he lashed out or hid. Unfortunately, the Wolf wasn’t having any of it. They entered his bedroom and Remus casually stripped out of his shirt and lay out on his stomach. Severus sat next to him, ointment in hand, and carefully spelled the bandage off. The gash was open and would be bleeding profusely if it weren’t for the spells Poppy had applied. The gash was deep enough to show bone and would have been deadly if Remus weren’t a werewolf and already healing at an exceptional rate.

“Hold still.” He said sternly and began to smooth the ointment on.

His hands shook slightly as he thought of the man under him dead, sacrificing himself to save him. He tilted his head forward and let his hair curtain his face. His childhood had been dark and full of pain and school had been full of humiliation and fear. Then he’d been a Death Eater and shortly after a spy. It hadn’t been until Harry and Draco had come into his life and named him father that he had anything light and good.

To have a child love and need him as completely as Harry did had born in him feelings and sensations he had never possessed before. He was still adapting to that. He’d had feelings of lust, understanding, and respect for the Wolf, but it had just been sex with a friend. What Remus had done for him during the battle shattered that comforting illusion. Now he couldn’t deny the gratitude and love the man invoked in him. His hands were shaking too hard to apply the ointment now and Severus turned away. He sat at the edge of his bed and wrapped his arms around his stomach tight, curling over them as he tried to beat back the wave of emotion rising from his gut.

“Severus.” Remus said warmly, wrapping his arms around his stoic lover. “It’s alright, love.”

Severus willingly, consciously, turned into the Wolf’s warmth and began to cry silent, cold tears as he finally acknowledged what he now had and recognized what he had been denied for so many long hard years. Remus held him, saying nothing. He pet his lover’s hair and breathed in his scent, cherishing the moment and burning with love.

Chapter Twenty-three

Draco and Harry made their way to the Room of Requirement. They were running a little late so the room was already full. Harry happily noticed that there were no isolated groups made up of only one House. Granted, he didn’t see the Gryffindors and Slytherins intermingling, but there were groups of every other combination. It didn’t take long for the others to notice his and Draco’s appearance and they all fell quiet expectantly.

“Thank you for coming.” Draco began. His posture was confident and straight. His voice was not shouting, but it projected clearly across the room. His braid fell down his back and there were no strands escaping its hold. He was the epitome of a pureblood and wealthy wizarding Lord.

The group found themselves reacting unconsciously, straightening and meeting the young blonde’s eyes with respect. Harry’s last worry that the group would not come together seamlessly under the leadership of fourteen year olds dissipated.

“We’re sorry we’re late, but we were in a meeting with the Headmaster.” Draco continued. “I’m sure you are all eager to hear what he had to say pertaining to the war and Voldemort’s attack…”

Many people flinched. Draco, himself, was surprised, though he didn’t show it. He had meant to say Dark Lord. Maybe Harry was rubbing off on him. As if sensing the blonde’s hesitation, Harry floated forward so that he was standing a bit in front of Draco and drew everyone’s attention to him. He may not have the same powerful and confident bearing as Draco, but his casual display of magical strength and his charismatic intensity made him just as strong as a speaker.

“We cannot afford to flinch away from that name.” He said seriously, eyes blazing with passion. “War is no longer a certainty of a someday future. It’s happening now! And what will we do to protect ourselves, our friends, and our world if we cannot even hear Voldemort’s name? What will we do when we come face to face with the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters, because it will happen! Voldemort will come here, to this school, for the final battle. And you have all chosen to fight. You have all chosen to stay. You cannot flinch away from his name. You have to accept that Voldemort is real and he means to kill us all. You have to put aside your fear if you are going to win against him.”

Draco, noticing the pale faces of many in the room, decided it was best retake the stage. “The battle is coming, but not right now. Voldemort is still preparing and we have that chance to do the same. That’s why we wanted to talk to you. We want to train with you, to make sure we have the best chance of surviving. I know all of you came to Hogsmeade to fight beside us, but that doesn’t obligate you to stand in the front lines. Madam Pomfrey is also offering a quick course on first-aid, and providing medical support is just as important as choosing to fight the Death Eaters head on. So if any of you are interested in this course, please don’t hesitate or feel ashamed.”

“I know I’ll be glad someone will be around to patch me up.” Harry joked, tossing out a crooked grin. Many people laughed.

Draco smiled at his partner before turning his attention back to the crowd. “Alright, so who among you feel better suited to healing us during and after the fight? Come forward, we have a schedule for you.”

Only five students came forward: Gryffindor Dennis Creevey (who laughingly explained that he might as well go the medic route since he didn’t think the teachers would let him fight again since he was only a third year), Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood and Padma Patil, Hufflepuff Susan Bones, and surprisingly Slytherin Gregory Goyle. Harry smiled and handed them the schedules that had Madam Pomfrey’s free hours on it. They took them and left. The first of the scheduled teaching hours started in five minutes.

“Alright. I’m assuming that means the rest of you are planning to make a stand with the teachers?” Harry asked. A roar of agreement met his ears. “Okay. Those of you who were in the DA, please get into your groups. Those of you who haven’t been to a DA meeting, please come forward so we can find the right place for you.”

Hermione had given Harry a summery of what they did in DA and how it was run, since he couldn’t remember for himself. They had apparently broken people into groups based on their power levels and knowledge. It had nothing to do with House or age. That seemed like the best way, and so Harry and Draco had decided to continue training everyone in such groups.

They found out that only four students who had fought in Hogsmeade had been called home: Lavender Brown, Dean Thomas, Marietta Edgecombe, and Hannah Abbott. Considering those that went to serve under Madam Pomfrey, Harry and Draco were left with twenty-two of the Hogwart’s Soldiers willing and ready to fight. In the end, they were all divided into three groups.

The least advanced was made up of five: Two Gryffindors – fifth year Colin Creevey and sixth year Parvati Patil. One Hufflepuff – sixth year Ernie Macmillan. One Ravenclaw – sixth year Anthony Goldstein. One Slytherin – sixth year Daphne Greengrass.

The middle group was comprised of eight: Four Gryffindors – fifth year Ginny Weasley, sixth years Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom, and seventh year Geoffrey Hooper. One Hufflepuff – sixth year Justin Finch-Fletchley. Two Ravenclaws – sixth years Terry Boot and Michael Corner. One Slytherin – sixth year Vincent Crabbe.

There were seven in the most advanced group: Three Gryffindors – sixth years Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, and seventh year Vicky Frobisher. One Ravenclaw – seventh year Cho Chang. One Hufflepuff – seventh year Zacharias Smith. Two Slytherins – sixth year Pansy Parkinson and seventh year Terence Higgs.

Harry and Draco spent the next two hours going from group to group, teaching them what dueling spells and shields they could master. After two hours, they had the room raise two walls so that it was divided evenly into thirds. Then they had each group take one of the new rooms and have a mock war with each other. The rules were simple: every man for himself. Draco and Harry made rounds, joining in the battle. Usually the group would team up against them, because alone they didn’t stand a chance. They had been dueling with Dumbledore for weeks and Harry was too strong. This lasted about an hour and a half.

“You all did very well today.” Draco told them once the walls were gone. “I know you’re all tired and starving, and the last thing you want to think about is coming back to start all over again, but we can’t delay. And I think you all know why. So Harry and I will be back tomorrow morning at ten and we expect you all to be here.”

He got tired nods in response and everyone filed out, dragging their feet and fingering bruises. Many would have had to go the Hospital Wing, but the little brunette had managed to heal the gashes and broken bones that had occurred with a wave of pure power. Harry looked over at Draco and smiled widely. The blonde’s braid was no longer perfect and his clothes were in disarray, but he never looked more powerful than he did in that moment. His cheeks were flushed with exercise and his eyes were sharp with intelligence. Draco met his stare and a smile lit up his face. Laughing, Harry flew over into his arms.

“What was that for?” The blonde asked, hugging his love tightly against his chest.

“You did really great today.” Harry leaned back so he could look into Draco’s eyes. He was still floating, he rarely ever stopped nowadays, and was exactly at eye level with the blonde. “I love you, Ray.”

Draco’s breath caught as honest affection, care, and simple joy flowed into him. He stared into Harry’s jewel-bright eyes for a moment before leaning forward and kissing him. Harry gasped softly, his lips hot and pliant. Exhilarated from the day and having Harry in his arms, Draco daringly darted his tongue out and licked at the inside of his love’s mouth. Harry melted against him, his own tongue coming up and brushing against his.

Draco’s heart skipped a beat before beginning to pound in his chest. His arms wrapped around Harry’s waist and curled upward, one hand running over the sensitive skin at the back of Harry’s neck and then up into his hair. Harry responded by wrapping his legs around Draco’s waist. They stood like that, their mouths heatedly moving against each other, their tongues dancing as Harry’s mimicked every move Draco’s made. Both felt themselves harden and they broke apart gasping and moaning.

“I think we should stop.” Draco panted, staring avidly at Harry’s wet and swollen lips. His jet-black hair was already messy and his eyes were burning with excitement and love. He looked ravishing.

Harry sighed and brought his head down to kiss the blonde deeply before unwrapping himself and floating to the ground. Now he had to look up at his boyfriend and pouted.

Draco laughed and shoved him playfully, “Come on. Severus is going to wonder where we’ve been.” He then smiled wryly, shifting his pants. “And I could use a nice long shower.”

“Hey!” Harry laughed. “You’re the one who wanted to stop!”

He wasn’t completely ignorant. He knew what masturbating was. He’d never done it himself, always too stressed with everything in his life, but he’d walked in on the boys in Gryffindor’s community shower doing it a few times. Maybe he would give it a try later since Draco seemed to be hesitant to do much with him.

“See if I ever say that again.” Draco threatened playfully. Luckily he was ignorant of Harry’s thoughts as they walked side by side back toward the dungeons, or else he would have taught his little love exactly what he’d been missing.

Down the hall in the Slytherin common room, Pansy was sitting in a secluded corner with Vince and Greg. The blonde girl had her knees drawn to her chest in an uncharacteristic gesture of vulnerability. The two boys shared a look and knew what was coming. Pansy looked up at them and her face was tight with stress.

“Did you see the way they were together?” She asked softly. “It goes way beyond just close siblings or even best-friends. I think the spell is enchanting them. That has to be it. Nothing else makes sense.”

“Pans, he looks happier than he has in a long time.” Greg said carefully.

“Yes, but the spell would do that, wouldn’t it?” She snapped. “Who ever heard of an enchantment spell that made someone unhappy. Us three know Dray better than anyone else here, and he’d want what’s real, not a cheep imitation. If this spell is binding him to Potter, we have to do something.”

“His mother’s been with him this whole time.” Greg protested. “She and Professor Snape would have intervened if the spell was messing with Draco’s freewill.”

“Maybe.” Pansy frowned. “But what if not? What would it hurt to try and remind him of us and where he belongs?”

“With you, you mean?” Greg whispered. Pansy gasped, shocked he’d say something like that to her. Even Vince’s eyes went wide with surprise. “Look, Pans, I don’t mean to hurt you, but I’ve noticed for a while that you still like Draco as a boyfriend, even after he broke up with you. Are you sure you’re not just jealous?”

Pansy leapt to her feet, “Draco Malfoy is my best-friend! I think I’d know if he cared for the opposite sex! He loved me! If it weren’t for that stupid betrothal, we’d be together! Now that his father is away, I’m sure he was planning on admitting his feelings, but all this stuff happened before he could!”

“Draco doesn’t let anything come between him and what he wants. He would have continued the relationship in secret had he really felt that way.” Greg argued brutally. “Pans, think smart. You’ve been overemotional ever since the spell backfired and made Draco young again. You need to see what’s in front of you and deal with the situation accordingly.”

“I am more Slytherin than you could ever hope to be, Gregory Goyle!” Pansy screeched. “Unlike you, I won’t be deceived by this spell! I know the facts, and I will act on them and bring Draco back to us!”

Pansy stood as she stormed off to the girl’s dorm and Vince watched with very troubled eyes. He was upset. First Draco was gone and now Pansy. He turned a betrayed look to Greg and his friend only shook his head. “Did you have to do that?” He asked him with a glare.

“I was trying to protect her.” Greg glared right back.

“You accused her of acting out of jealousy.” Vince snarled. “Are you sure you aren’t doing the same thing? I didn’t know Pansy still had a thing for Draco, but I do know that you’ve had a thing for Pansy for almost two years now.”

Greg stared at his friend. Vince felt a hundred times worse when all he did was turn and walk away without a word. Collapsing back into his chair, Vince looked around and realized he was alone. He hated being alone. With a deep sigh, he wished Draco were there. He’d know what to do.

The boys woke up around seven the next morning. They had a quick breakfast and Draco went to attend to the Malfoy businesses while Harry went to get a check-up from Madam Pomfrey. He returned with good news. He had gained another four pounds. Remus suggested chocolate cake to celebrate and Draco eagerly agreed with that idea. Severus sneered at them all, but in the end had a piece as well. Because of the cake, however, they were again running late for the DA training.

Draco ran down the hall, his robes open and flaring behind him, revealing slacks and a white, button-down shirt he wore underneath. Harry flew after him, grinning broadly. He had always loved the feeling of flying. At the moment, however, he was particularly interested in watching Draco’s waist length braid lash like a cat’s tail as the blonde ran. He had a sudden vision lying on a bed with that hair unbound and spilling around him like a waterfall of light as Draco slowly leaned down with glinting eyes to kiss him passionately. He felt his face go red and Draco looked over his shoulder, smirking as he felt Harry’s sudden wave of attraction and embarrassment.

“See something you like?” He drawled as Harry came up to pace him.

Harry blushed even redder, but was smiling. “Just thinking.”

“I gathered that much.” Draco smirked. “I know I’m gorgeous, but can you focus? We’re here.”

“Okay.” Harry shrugged, his eyes slitted mischievously. “Guess I’ll just have to show you what I was thinking since I don’t have time to tell you.” And with that, he pushed a vision of himself, sprawled fully dressed on a bed, hands tangled in Draco’s hair as the blonde leaned forward to lick at his neck.

“Harry!” Draco cried out, lust immediately drenching him as his body reacted to the picture Harry had crafted in his mind. Harry laughed and flew ahead into the room. Draco shook his head, grinning. He was glad Harry was so comfortable with him and felt such passion. Anything else just wouldn’t be Harry.

They worked hard for three hours before they called a break. Both Draco and Harry took training very seriously and didn’t allow any goofing off or slacking. Thankfully, everyone understood the importance of focusing and they didn’t cause much of a problem. That is, there was no problem until they called a brief half-hour break and house-elves came to serve drinks and snacks.

Harry and Draco were sitting to the side with Ron, Hermione, Vince, and Pansy. They were taking turns telling funny stories when Pansy began describing an embarrassing moment when she was dating Draco. The others found the very humorous, but Harry was growing angrier by the second. Draco hastily tried to intervene, feeling deeply embarrassed and almost ashamed of his actions, though he knew he shouldn’t. He hadn’t even been with Harry at the time.

“I don’t think this is appropriate.” He said with a glare.

Pansy laughed him off and even had the audacity to hit him with a silencing spell. “Lighten up, Dray! It’s a good story! So there we were, on his bed, kissing like there was no tomorrow when Theo comes in. He throws a livid fit, saying we were contaminating the room. Draco merely stared at him and said, ‘Don’t be jealous, Nott, puberty just comes later for some of us. I’m sure it will come for you, too.’ Theo went so red, I thought he’d explode!”

She laughed with the others and it took a while before she could catch her breath enough to continue. “But that was nothing to what he looked like when Draco turned right back around and continued to kiss me. He ran out of the room and the next day he voted Draco out of the dorm room and into mine since we were going to snog anyway. So that’s how Draco came to spend a week living in the girl’s dorm. It was halfway through that week when we broke up and he switched to kissing Daphne. But he broke up with her as well before two days were up to move on to the next conquest!”

“So is that why they called you the Slytherin Prince, Malfoy? You had a harem?” Ron grinned.

“I hardly think my love life is any of your business. Either of you.” Draco fumed, finally managing to tear down the spell.

“Seriously,” Ron pressed. “Have you had every girl in Slytherin? Didn’t Snape try and prevent that sort of thing?”

“Stop it, Ron.” Hermione hissed, seeing tears in Harry’s eyes.

“Daphne was the last girl I kissed! And I was just thirteen!” Draco yelled, face flushed. He turned to Harry, unable to avoid the jealousy and hurt any longer beating in his breast. “Baby, you know I didn’t love them. And I didn’t really know you then.”

It was Ron’s turn to go red, “What’s that suppose to mean? And don’t call him baby like that! It’s not like he would care!”

“Ron!” Hermione tried valiantly to shut him up.

“No. It’s okay.” Harry shook his head hard. His jealousy was still simmering, but nervous fear had become predominant. “I wanted to tell you two anyway and now’s as good a time as any.” He took a deep breath and looked over to Draco to make sure this was alright. The blonde stared back at him, face expressionless, telling him that it was his decision. Harry bit his lip and faced his friends. “Ray and I… We’re together… I… I love him.”

Dead silence descended for half a minute before Pansy and Ron yelled together at the two boys, “You’re gay?”

“Yes.” Draco answered his friend simply.

Harry merely nodded at Ron, reaching over and clasping Draco’s hand in his in answer

“Okay.” Ron said desperately. “Alright. I think I can handle that… Eventually. But Malfoy? You’ve got to be kidding, Harry! You have to remember what he’s like! I don’t know what he’s up to, but it’s not anything good!”

“You have no idea who I am or what my intentions are!” Draco snapped, eyes flashing dangerously. “I love Harry. I’m aware I was a mindless follower of my father, but that changed and I’ve grown up. Harry knows that and knows me better than you ever could!”

“But Dray!” Pansy was pale. “You can’t be… You’re Lord Malfoy… You have to provide an heir!”

“I can pick from many cousins to train and raise as my heir.” He answered her coldly.

“Is this why you broke up with me and Daphne? Why you didn’t date anyone else after?” She shook her head. “You said it was because your father had betrothed you to someone and you’d be dishonoring that contract by having other relationships.”

“Ha! You see!” Ron cried triumphant. “He’s using you, Harry!”

“I wouldn’t!” Draco roared.

“You’re not denying the betrothal, though, are you?” Ron yelled.

“I’m not betrothed! I lied to her so she didn’t think I hated her or something! She was still my friend and I didn’t want to ruin that!”

“But… but you kissed me… At the end of fifth year… I thought… maybe you still… that you loved me even though you shouldn’t.” Pansy whispered, tears in her eyes. “I’ve never stopped loving you, Dray.”

“I was… distraught and you were… upset, if you recall.” Draco reminded her. “I’m sorry if I led you on.”

“But Dray…” She leaned forward and grabbed his hands pleadingly.

“Pans, you’re my best-friend. Like a sister to me.” Draco said and pulled his hands away from her. “Please don’t do this. You’re a Slytherin and in public. Now’s not the time.”

She jerked back as if slapped. The group watched silently as she stood and walked from the room, head held high. Draco looked over at Harry and found the teen looking at the floor. He reached for one of his hands, but Ron shoved him away. Draco had been unprepared and fell backward, only to be caught by air and set right. Harry was on his feet, hands clenched furiously at his sides, standing between Draco and his friends.

“Harry!” Hermione gasped, frightened of that angry look.

“Don’t ever touch Draco again, Ron.” He growled. “I understand you’re shocked, but you haven’t been there these last two months. You have no idea what it’s been like for me or Draco. To us, it feels like we’ve been with each other for years. People change. I’ve changed. I still want to be your friend, but Draco’s not going anywhere. I love him and we’re together. Please accept that. Or leave.”

Ron and Hermione gaped at him. Had their best friend really just told them that he’d chose Draco Malfoy, of all people, over them if they pushed? Hermione had been willing to understand the situation, but that just didn’t seem possible. Her Harry would never, ever say anything like that to her or Ron. Enraged, Ron went so red he was almost purple. With an inarticulate roar, he stood, sending the chair flying, and stormed from the room. Hermione followed him after shooting a hurt and accusing glare Harry’s way.

“Baby…” Draco reached up and pulled Harry into his lap.

The small brunette curled into his chest. He wasn’t crying, but the emotional equivalent was flooding from the smaller teen. Draco held him and said nothing. He knew nothing he said would make it right. The sorrow weakened, but didn’t go away as the minutes passed. Eventually, Harry sat up right.

“We need to get back to training.” He said lowly.

Draco nodded. Harry rose and strode over to the students, calling them back into their groups. Draco followed with a sigh; the day had started so nice too. Damn Pansy. Vice grasped his shoulder supportively and Draco gave him a brief smile of gratitude. Harry was right. They had things to do. Straightening his back, he went back to work.

The worked themselves to exhaustion, and Draco had to carry Harry home. Severus wasn’t pleased and promised either he or Remus would supervise them from now on. Draco hadn’t argued. He put Harry in bed and climbed into the next one over. His last thought was on whether they’d talk about what had happened with Pansy when they woke up.

They didn’t.

Harry woke late and ate hurriedly before they left with Remus to continue training. Ron, Hermione, and Pansy were all back, but none of them said anything to anyone outside of spell casting. Draco tried to get Harry’s attention when they stopped for lunch, but the brunette was eagerly engaged in conversation with Remus. Draco knew from the emotions Harry felt that his love was purposefully avoiding him. That really upset him, but what could he do if Harry wasn’t ready to talk?

Remus made Harry take several breaks and house-elves were constantly bringing him food. Draco was pleased to see Harry didn’t fight against it and meekly submitted to the fussing. They got a lot done and called it quits early. Everyone was too tired to continue. Draco decided to make Saturday a half-day of training. They would meet after lunch so that everyone could sleep in and relax. It would be no good if they ran everyone into the ground and couldn’t fight when Voldemort came.

Severus would have come and helped, but was busy with meetings with the Headmaster, Minister, and three Auror Generals. There had been no sign that Voldemort was moving. He was still holed up in the old Ministry. The list of magical items left behind was growing daily as the Ministry officials discovered just what was saved and what was left behind. It was long enough that they had no way to know what would be used against them.

“Baby, we need to talk.” Draco said seriously as Harry entered the bedroom after his shower.

“I’m tired.” He muttered, climbing into his bed and facing away from Draco’s.

“Harry…” Draco said angrily. “This isn’t fair.”

“Please, Ray. Not now.” Harry whispered, a wave of resignation and fatigue washing down their bond. “I really am tired.”

“Tomorrow.” Draco said firmly. He didn’t get a response.

“It’s not that I don’t trust him!” Ron screamed.

“Well, it seems to me that’s exactly what it sounds like!” Ginny screamed back.

“Silenco!” Neville spelled the two and they turned to look at him with deadly glares. He ignored that. “Look, this isn’t solving anything. I’d like to point out that you guys were all working well with Draco during the training, and when you went to sit together you were all laughing and getting along until Parkinson opened her mouth. Harry told you he was in love and you reacted badly, insulting the person he feels he loves. Whether it’s because of the spell or not, that wasn’t the best move. Of course he’d get defensive. Just like you would if someone insulted Hermione, whether they were your friend or not. I think you should apologize to him and then ask him whether he’s considered if it’s the spell or not. If he hasn’t, then he will, and if he has, then maybe you’ll learn something.”

“Neville’s right, Ron.” Hermione said. “I was shocked and hurt when Harry said he’d stop being our friend, but now that I think of it you had just shoved Malfoy and insulted him, and you know how protective Harry is over people he cares about. And he did still say that if we could accept Malfoy, he’d still be friends with us.”

“And Malfoy’s been good to us so far.” Neville added pointedly. “He endangered himself to help Harry, and that’s why he’s in the situation he’s in, so it is possible he’s changed. We know what Harry’s been through, but Draco’s had to experience it and was there every step of the way, putting Harry back together again. That can really build a bond between people. We have to be prepared for that.”

“Finite.” Hermione cast as the two redheads backed down and looked able to think clearly.

“I still think it’s sick.” Ron said petulantly.

“But?” Ginny tapped her foot warningly.

“But I’ll talk to him and try not to blow up.” He gritted. Hermione smiled and kissed his cheek.

Ginny rolled her eyes and took Neville’s hand. “Come on, Nev. I don’t want to catch my brother’s ignorance.”

“Brat!” He yelled after her, but Hermione distracted him with a question about Quidditch.

“Where’s Harry?” Draco asked, coming into the kitchen for breakfaster and finding only Severus and Remus at the table.

“He wanted to eat in the Gryffindor Common room.” Severus answered. Draco growled.

“Where are you going?” Remus asked, concerned.

“To find him.” Draco said over his shoulder and slammed the portrait door behind him.

Severus raised his eyebrow questioningly at Remus.

“They’re fighting, I think.” The werewolf answered with a frown.

“What about?” Severus demanded, berating himself for not noticing. Harry seemed so much stronger, and he was, but any fracture with Draco could crumble him psychologically.

“I’m not sure.” Remus shook his head. “But I think we should wait until tonight to intervene.”

Severus eyed him. “Alright. We’ll wait.”

“Thank you, Severus,” the Wolf smiled.

Chapter Twenty-four

Draco knew very well that Harry wasn’t in the Gryffindor common room, not when he was still upset about Ron and Hermione. So he focused as hard as he could on Harry’s churning, dark emotions and followed them to their source. Almost half-an-hour later, he found himself panting as he finally got to the roof of the Astronomy Tower after climbing at least two hundred stairs.

It being the end of November and the sky was filled with thin grey clouds. The sunlight was weak and hardly carried any warmth. It was very cold, but could have been worse had there been any kind of breeze. He was glad he had put on his dark-green sweater, but still needed to spell his clothes with a warming charm. He was sure Harry hadn’t bothered and walked quickly over to his love to do just that.

The small brunette was standing at the waist-high wall and looking over at the school grounds. His arms were wrapped around his chest as if the white sweater he wore were a straight-jacket. His black slacks were thin and he wore white tennis shoes that wouldn’t do much to keep his feet warm. Draco knelt and tapped the shoes with his wand, then moved up to tap Harry’s pants and his sweater. Harry didn’t turn around until he finished, and when he did, his eyes were strained behind his glasses.

“I didn’t want to talk where anyone could hear us.” Harry answer softly to Draco’s unspoken question.

“I don’t understand why you’re so upset.” Draco answered equally gently. “I never cared for Pansy or anyone the way I care for you, and I certainly would never kiss anyone else now that we’re together.”

“I know.” Harry looked away and back over the school grounds. “But that’s not the problem, Ray.”

“Then what is?” Draco glared, having a feeling where this was going and not liking it a bit.

“What if you don’t really love me like you think? I mean, why would you?” Harry laughed self-depreciatively. “What if it’s just the spell?”

“Baby, my love for you has nothing to do with the spell.”

“We’re only fourteen. How do you know what love is?” Harry asked, turning to face him. “This could just be hormones or something exaggerated because of the spell.”

“You’re wrong.” Draco said coldly. He loathed it when Harry doubted him. “First of all, we’re not really fourteen. I will be seventeen in February, and I remember bits and pieces of being sixteen. In your case, you really are fourteen, so maybe you are only infatuated with me…” He held up a hand when Harry opened his mouth. Draco didn’t know if he was going to agree or protest, but either way he wasn’t done. “…but I doubt it. You may be physically fourteen, but we’ve been through much more than any normal fourteen year old has. In fact, before the spell you were already mature for your age, but adding the last nine weeks to your experiences has made you even more mature.”

“I do love you, Draco. If I didn’t, I think the memories of what you were like before all this happened would have been enough to kill my feelings for you.” Harry said, looking up at him and pleading for him to understand. “But why would you love me? You have no reason to except for the spell. You’ve been helping me and it’s my fault your in this de-aged mess. But I’ve done nothing for you and I remember how much you hated me. I haven’t changed any since then.”

“But I have changed.” Draco pointed out. “And who I am now loves you.” He sighed and toyed with his braid as he stared at lake. He knew he had to say things just right or Harry wouldn’t believe him. “I didn’t really understand who you were. I wasn’t ready to until recently because understanding you meant realizing how wrong my beliefs and perceptions were and… that was really, really hard. We’ve talked about what I believe and how I feel about things now, but I never really explained what happened to me. I didn’t really know what happened myself until this last age transformation. My memories were so vague and elusive, but I remember most of the important things now, I think.”

He took a deep breath and Harry listened avidly. “I was furious that Lucius had been arrested. It seemed impossible to me because he was invincible, perfect, everything I was supposed to be. I found my mother and demanded to know what would be done and she hit me. She smacked me hard. I had never been struck by her before. She babied me and adored me as a child. She taught me songs and gardening. She taught me to be a Malfoy, but she also taught me about mercy. I had forgotten all that when Lucius took me away from her and under his wing. Occasionally he’d cast pain spells if I had done something very embarrassing or wrong, but never had physical violence touched me from either of them. So her slap really paralyzed me.

“She spoke to me calmly and slowly. She knew what she was going to do would be incredibly hard and would hurt me, and she wasn’t sure I’d be willing to walk away from the path my father was training me for even after I knew the truth. She had only one chance, so she had to make it count. So she took me to the dungeons where the brutal truth was laid bare and not sugarcoated at all.

“I knew we had dungeons. Lucius would go down there sometimes, but I had never been allowed. She activated the recording sphere that was hidden in the wall. I guess Lucius liked to watch the things he did later. What I saw… Harry, it was as bad as our vision Halloween. I got physically sick. He was still my everything at that time and to watch him torture for pleasure… And he was so good at it, Harry.”

Draco closed his eyes tight. He was glad when Harry reached out and held his hand. The warmth of Harry’s sympathy and respect broke apart the ice in his chest. “My mother explained my choices after revealing the truth of my father and my father’s path. I had a choice: Continue on or change. I honestly considered continuing on because the other option was horrifying. But I knew I couldn’t… I couldn’t do as my father did. I wasn’t strong enough to torture someone like that. I accepted her hand and my whole world changed.

“We went to the Ministry and we turned over the recording sphere and demanded Lucius be locked up forever. I had to take over the businesses we were involved in and had to sever ties to the darker ones. Every minute of everyday I had to fight habit and reflex, had to question myself about my motives and fight against the expectations of my father and everyone else in the Wizarding World.

“Dad – well, he was just Severus to me then, but he still came by when I was having a bad week and couldn’t sleep at all and talk to me. He’d tell me about his experiences with the Death Eaters and reinforced my choice to stay clean. So I changed and I reshaped myself. I had to shed everything I thought I was and become a different person. It felt like dieing.” He looked down into Harry’s eyes. “I wanted to help you. I wanted to do something for the Wizarding World. I wanted to prove to myself once and for all I was capable of being something other than another Lucius. You were hurt so badly and I chose to help you because you are this world’s hope, and I knew if I could want to help you, honestly care about your wellbeing, then there was hope for me.”

“Oh, Ray…” Harry bit his lip, tears in his eyes.

“I know that sounds like I only cared for what you stood for, but I still didn’t know you that well then. I’ve gotten to know you now and I can honestly say I love you. And it has nothing to do with what you mean to the world. If you were a muggle, Harry, I’d love you.” He grinned wryly. “We’d have some serious issues to work out, but I’d love you.”

“Why?” Harry shook his head. He was torn, equally wanting to believe Draco, but also not able to.

“You have no idea how beautiful you are.” Draco answered solemnly. “You live inside yourself and can’t see just how precious you are. You have been hurt horribly by your family, and all that time you still cared about people in general. You had faith in the goodness of your parents even when you were told they were bad and wanted to defend them even though they weren’t there to see. You accepted who you were and what you meant to the Wizarding World almost instantly. You do your best in almost every situation. And you’re alive, Harry.

“You’re so full of passion and emotion, more so than other people. You let the world touch you in a way that most people back away from, and in return you touch the world. I know you’re not a saint or even perfect. You make mistakes and I like that because I like being needed. But you also want to learn from your mistakes, you want to do better everyday. You cherish simple things.” Draco sighed, running out of word if not the actual feelings that inspired them. “You are simply beautiful and I love you. I want to be with you. I want to keep you to myself. You’re mine and it’s not the spell. It’s just me feeling this.”

Harry stared at him for a long minute. Draco held his breath as he literally felt Harry’s emotions see-saw as he struggled to make his decision. The balanced tipped and Draco had only a half second to lift his arms before his love flew into them. Like before, Harry wrapped his legs around his waist and hugged him tight around the neck. Draco buried his face into Harry’s hair and let the trembling relief and Harry’s love race along his every nerve. His hands and knees were shaking and he found himself laughing.

“Don’t question me ever again, you prat.” Draco grinned. “Really. I might get very angry with you.”

“Never again.” Harry promised, laughing and crying at the same time. “I’m so glad you’re here! I was trying to prepare myself for you leaving and it was awful! I’m so happy you love me back, because I think I’d die without you, Ray.”

“Then I guess you’ll live forever.” Draco murmured against his mouth before kissing him.

Harry pressed himself against his boyfriend as hard as he could, his hands coming up and sliding into Draco’s hair to prevent him from breaking the kiss. Breathing through their nose, their tongues slid together. Draco flicked the tip of his tongue at the roof of Harry’s mouth and the brunette groaned, legs clamping tighter. Draco was beginning to pant. Blood was roaring in his ears and little electric shocks were sparking down his arms and spine. He sucked Harry’s tongue into his mouth and drew his teeth across it. Harry thrust against his stomach with a whimper. Clawing for sanity as Harry’s lust made his own spiral higher and higher, Draco turned his head sideways, pressing his damp forehead against Harry’s shoulder.

“We should stop.” He gasped, lifting his head to look into his love’s eyes. They were glowing and Draco felt his soul respond with aching hunger.

“Why?” Harry asked huskily. He was grinning, his whole body was tingling and on fire, and the look Draco was giving him was only making his heart beat faster. He didn’t want it to ever stop. “This feels so good. So right.”

Draco groaned and buried his face against his love’s slender neck. Harry was still so small and too thin. He was afraid if they continued that he’d hurt him. Not only that, he was aware that he knew more about what they were doing than Harry, since he was able to exploit his knowledge and experiences of when he was sixteen while Harry could not. Draco was afraid he was taking advantage of his love and he refused to hurt him in anyway.

“Ohhh… That’s nice.” Harry breathed, enjoying very much Draco’s the hot breath against his neck. He gasped when Draco began kissing and sucking gently, his teeth scraping ever so lightly. “Nicccccce, yesssss,” he moaned in Parseltongue.

Draco’s hips bucked and he staggered as his love hissed at him wantonly. “Merlin, Harry.” He looked into the brunette’s face and found Harry’s eyes almost clouded beyond reason, the brunette’s obvious need pressing hard against his stomach. It was then he realized Harry was rocking against him. Unfortunately, his self-control was only so strong and he lost it. His hands dropped down to cup Harry’s butt, helping him achieve firmer contact. His mouth sucked and nipped up the silky neck and along his jaw.

“Raaayyy,” Harry hissed, eyes slitted in pleasure.

Every muscle in Draco’s body went tight as he heard that hiss. When his eyes cleared, he drank in Harry, his head tossed back, his eyes closed and mouth open as little hitching grunts and moans escaped his swollen lips. He watched, burning alive with lust, as Harry’s head tilted forward and green eyes consumed him, claimed him. Harry’s magic, washed through them both, filling them with a buzzing high. Draco’s hair spilled free and whipped around them as their orgasm hit. Harry cried out in joy and Draco screamed. They tumbled to the ground, his hair spilling in a puddle of white over them both, tickling the oversensitive and heated skin of their necks and cheeks. Harry laughed, shuddering in reaction against the blonde’s chest.

“That was… intense…” Draco panted. He couldn’t take his eyes off Harry and felt languid and dazed as his emotions blended with and matched Harry’s so completely he didn’t know where he ended and Harry began.

“Yessssss.” Harry hissed, still stuck in Parseltongue. Draco shivered and turned his head to kiss Harry deeply and slowly. Harry wiggled against him, kissing back. They broke apart gasping and grinning.

“Don’t hiss at me unless you’re prepared for the consequences.” Draco growled huskily, his eyes molten silver.

“Parseltongue turns you on?” Harry laughed. “I hadn’t even meant to do it! Usually I have to see a snake.”

“I have a snake I could show you.” Draco leered playfully.

Harry slapped his shoulder and giggled. “I think we’re messy enough, thanks.” He wiggled again and blushed. “I’m sticky.”

“Feel free to take you clothes off if they bother you.” Draco shrugged.

“Be serious.” Harry smacked him again.

“Why should I?” Draco smiled a slow and sultry smile and Harry went red.

“Maybe because it’s almost lunch, and we need to change, eat, and train with the DA.” He pointed out.

“Mmmm…” Draco nuzzled Harry’s neck and was pleased when Harry didn’t push him away. “I like this better.”

He licked slowly up to Harry’s jaw, and the brunette sighed and groaned, going limp in his arms. Draco rolled so his love was on his back, carefully keeping most of his weight on his elbows so that he didn’t hurt his fragile lover. They kissed languidly, and Harry reached out to tangle his fingers in Draco’s hair possessively. Draco lifted his head and smiled at the ball of mush he had turned Harry into.

“Come on. I don’t know about you, but I can think of many things a lot softer than the stone floor on top of the Astronomy Tower to be laying on.” He stood and tucked his hair behind one ear and reaching for Harry with the other hand.

The brunette accepted it and stood, floating gracefully in the air to hug his boyfriend. “I’m sorry I doubted you, Ray.”

“Good.” Draco sniffed haughtily. The effect was ruined by his still bright eyes, flushed cheeks, and swollen lips.

Harry laughed and Draco grinned back. He practically skipped down to the dungeons. He could dance in place, take on the world, or laugh until a rib broke he was so happy. His cheeks hurt he was smiling so wide, and Harry’s giggles and aerial acrobatics matched his own giddy mood. Fortunately, he could still think semi-coherently and Draco pulled them into an alcove before their door, trying to get rid of the most damning evidence. He cast a few cleaning spells and got Harry to braid up his hair. The brunette pouted the whole time and Draco couldn’t resist kissing him.

“Merlin.” Draco groaned as he held Harry. “We need to focus. We can’t make Dad suspicious or he’ll make us sleep in different rooms.”

Harry nodded, his high tapering off as that very unwelcome realization hit him. It was hard enough sleeping in separate beds; he wouldn’t be able to stand separate rooms. “How do I look?”

“Delicious.” Draco answered seriously.

They spent another hurried five minutes trying to set themselves right before deciding that this was a good as they could get and walked through the portrait hole. Remus was sitting on a couch reading, but Severus wasn’t in sight. The werewolf looked up as they entered and smiled in welcome. He was pleased to see Harry holding Draco’s hand.

“Lunch is ready.” He stood to lead the way when he froze and took a sniff at the air.

Harry touched down next to Draco and they stood there blushing madly. They hadn’t thought of protecting against Remus’ werewolf senses. Distracted as they were, they had only thought about Dad.

Remus’ eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms over his chest. “Have you had sex?”

Draco’s blush deepened, but he met Remus’ eyes. “It’s none of your business.”

“Draco Malfoy.” Remus growled, his eyes beginning to bleed into gold. “We’ve talked about this.”

Harry pushed forward and stood between them, lifting into the air until he was eye to eye with his godfather. “Remus, don’t. You did talk to us, and things have changed. Draco and I did nothing wrong, and we didn’t even have sex. Clothes stayed on, I swear. It’s wrong of you to make us feel embarrassed about something you said was normal and right. You said you’d trust us if we respected you, and we do respect both you and Dad. So trust us a bit to know our own limits.”

“I would never hurt Harry.” Draco added, his face cool and serious. Harry still had a tinge of pink in his cheeks, but he had moved past the initial embarrassment as well.

“That is very mature of both of you.” Remus admitted. “And I know you’ve both been through a lot together. It is natural for you to want to experience the physical side to a relationship.” He sighed and ran his hands through his graying hair. “Let me talk to your father.”

“Thank you, Remus.” Harry drifted over and gave him a hug. “I’m going to take a quick shower.”

“Can I take one…?”

“No!” Remus snapped at the blonde.

Draco huffed and narrowed his eyes. “I was going to say in yours and Dad’s shower.”

“Oh.” Remus blushed. “Sure. Go ahead, Draco.”

Laughing, Harry flew through the kitchen and into the bathroom, while Draco walked regally into their parents’ room, his head held high. Remus shook his head and muttered, “Severus is going to kill me.”

“Harry, can we talk to you?” Hermione asked after Draco dismissed them that night after training.

“Ummm…” Harry bit his lip and looked over at Remus.

“I should talk to your father before you come home anyway.” The werewolf sighed. “Don’t be too long.”

“We won’t.” Draco nodded.

After Remus left, Draco and Harry faced the four Gryffindors alone. Harry was distinctly nervous and Draco felt nauseous with the strength of it. He reached out and held his hand, offering silent support. Harry flashed him an uncertain smile before facing his friends once more.

“I personally want to say I think you two make a hot couple.” Ginny huffed.

“Malfoy has changed and he’s helping you. I’m willing to give him a chance.” Neville agreed.

“Thank you.” Harry smiled at them and flew over to hug them both.

Draco stayed where he was, eyeing Ron and Hermione. Hermione looked like she wanted to throw her support in as well, but was hesitant. Ron was staring mulishly at the wall, not looking at any of them. He was still going to be a problem. Draco glared threateningly. He better not make Harry cry or he’d hex him permanently mute.

Harry stood between Ginny and Neville and looked hopefully over at Hermione. “You wanted to talk?”

“Yes, well…” She bit her lip. “I love you, Harry. You and Ron are my best-friends. I’m worried about you. I just don’t understand how this happened.”

“Are you sure it isn’t the spell making you feel like this?” Ron muttered, still not looking at them.

“I’m absolutely certain.” Harry affirmed. “And I know this is strange for you, but it’s not really. Dad and Draco have changed my life. I remember what growing up without them was like, and I know what growing up with their love and support is like. To have that, to actually feel cared for and have someone stay up with me when I have a nightmare or feel sick, I can’t tell you what that was like for me when I remembered a time when I didn’t. You may have noticed, but I’m much stronger magically than I was. That’s because the Dursley’s made me hate and fear magic on such a deep level that even coming here I couldn’t trust mine completely and locked it away. Dad and Draco took away the fear and made me respect magic, and they really made me believe for the first time that I’m not a worthless freak.”

“Harry!” Hermione cried tearfully.

“I know you both loved me all along, but I couldn’t believe deep down that I deserved it or was worthy of it. I really do know that now. I don’t feel dirty or that I have to prove something or defeat Voldemort just to deserve a home and people who care about me. I realize now that I have that already, and Draco’s a huge part of why I can believe all this now. He honestly helped me heal wounds I didn’t even know was there.”

“Oh, Harry…” She knelt and hugged him tight. “I’ll give him a chance too. If he did all that, then I’ll even kiss him!”

“You better not!” Harry glared with a blush.

They all laughed except for Ron. The redhead met his best-friend’s gaze, “I’m sorry. I think I just have to get use to it.”

“Alright.” Harry nodded, ducking his head. “I understand.”

Ron nodded and left them. Hermione hugged Harry one last time and promised to see him tomorrow morning before running after him. Ginny ruffled Harry’s messy black hair and smiled down at him. “I’m glad your happy, Harry. And don’t worry about Ron. He’ll come around.”

“He always does.” Neville smiled.

“Thanks, you two.” Harry grinned.

“No problem, Harry.” Ginny kissed his cheek and jumped back before the glaring blonde could hex her. She ran laughing out of the room.

“Don’t mind her. She’s crazy.” Neville shook his head and waved, going after his friends.

“That went better then I thought it would.” Harry smiled at Draco and floated up to his height and took his hand. “Ready to face Dad?”

“You’re really happy.” Draco was surprised at how light his love felt. “Aren’t you worried about Weasley?”

“Nope.” Harry grinned. “He as good as approved. Honestly, he’ll come around. It just takes him some time to work his mind around new ideas.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.” Draco muttered darkly.

Harry smacked his shoulder, “Be nice.” His playfulness dimmed as concern crept in around the edges. “Are you upset? About Pansy, I mean.”

“I’m upset I kissed her last year and made her think I cared for her more than I do.” Draco admitted. “But she’ll come around. We’ve been friends too long for it to end like this. I just have to give her enough time to think of suitable revenge and remind myself not to retaliate because I deserve it.”

“Slytherins are so strange.” Harry laughed.

“We still have to face the Head of Slytherin. Think we’ll survive?”

Harry bit his lip worriedly, “I hope so.”

“I was just joking, Baby.” Draco kissed his cheek. “We’ll be fine.”

They pushed open the portrait and walked into the room. Remus was sitting in a chair and looked thoroughly cowed. Severus stood with his black robes buttoned all the way up and his arms folded across his chest. His face was expressionless, but his eyes were intense. Both boys instinctively tightened their Occlumency shields.

“You were saying?” Harry muttered fearfully to his boyfriend.

Draco went pale, his hands becoming clammy. “Father.”

“Don’t ‘father’ me.” Severus said icily. “Remus tells me that you’ve broken the rules we’ve set for you pertaining your sexual promiscuity.”

“To be fair, you set those rules when we were thirteen, and he said we’d loosen them with every age we regained.”

“Yet you have not come to either of us to discuss such a change.” Severus countered.

“I didn’t know you wanted to be made aware of our every advance.”

“Considering the circumstances, Draco, I do want to be made aware.”

“No offense,” Harry cut in nervously. “But that’s a little weird. I love you, Dad, but I don’t want to tell you what Draco and I do together. Some things are meant to be private. The boys in my dorm didn’t even talk to each other in that much detail about what they did with girls. And I hardly want to know what goes on between you and Remus.”

“Harry, you aren’t aware of the all the consequences your actions might bring.” Severus snapped furiously.

“For heaven’s sake, sometimes it’s not about consequences or responsibility. It’s about feeling!” He yelled, his fear giving way to anger. “I’m perfectly capable of telling Draco no or to slow down. I have not one single doubt that he wouldn’t listen to me or would make me feel bad for saying something like that. We’re not exactly little kids no matter what we look like.

“We’ve been tortured, fought for our lives, and been in a war. We are currently training to fight in another one soon! We’ve been kidnapped and returned to children. I’ve watched and participated in the rebirth of a Dark Lord. I’ve seen a classmate murdered before my eyes and carried his corpse back to school because his ghost asked it of me! I’ve faced dragons and untangled conspiracies and plots. I’ve grown from an abused orphaned child to a teenager who is confident in himself and has a loving family supporting him every step of the way. I’ve faced physical handicaps and control enormous magical power! I think I can handle having a boyfriend!”

Three pairs of eyes stared at Harry in shock. Remus and Draco literally had their mouths hanging open and Severus had red tingeing his pale cheeks. None of them ever doubted Harry was a strong person, but never had they had to face the determined young man. Usually they were standing beside him or behind him when Harry got like this. Now Severus looked at his son whose eyes were glowing, and with him floating there in mid-air, he looked like some kind of fey warrior. Power rolled off of him and maturity shone in his eyes.

“I stand corrected.” Severus murmured.

Harry blinked a few times and then broke out into a grin. “Really?”

Severus nodded. With a whoop of joy, Harry rushed at his father and hugged him so hard his back popped. Smiling, Severus put his cheek against his son’s hair and whispered, “I’m so proud of you, Harry, but please take it slow.”

“I promise.” Harry kissed his cheek and flew toward the kitchen. “Come on, you guys! I’m starving!”

Draco grinned and darted passed his father. Remus followed, but stopped at his mate’s shoulder. Severus looked at him from the corner of his eyes. “They’re growing up.”

“They are.” Remus smiled sadly and wrapped an arm around the man’s shoulders. “It happened too fast, didn’t it?”

“I could bear to have them as my children once again.” He drawled casually.

“Oh, Severus. They will always be your children.” Remus murmured and released him as they stepped into the kitchen where Draco and Harry were fighting over the mash potatoes. “Come on, guys, no fighting!”

Severus smiled, his eyes dancing as he took his seat at the table.

The next day was hard. The boys got up and trained in the morning, but Severus had come and collected them at lunch while Remus stayed behind to continue the lessons with the DA. Harry knew what was coming and took Draco’s hand bravely. He wouldn’t flinch away from what they had to tell him. He knew it would be bad just by their solemn air, but he was strong and he had their support.

They were both surprised, however, when they found Dumbledore and Narcissa waiting for them in their living room. Draco’s mother had left days ago to see if she could find anything out about Voldemort’s plans. They hadn’t seen her since and Draco’s shoulders loosened just a bit when he saw her.

“Harry, my boy. And Draco. You’ve done a wonderful job with the DA.” He smiled kindly at them.

“Thank you, sir.” Harry smiled. Draco merely inclined his head regally. He was in full Malfoy mode. Harry smiled at him fondly before returning his attention to the adults. “How did it go, Ms. Malfoy?”

“As to be expected.” She sighed. “I got into contact with a few friends, but what they knew doesn’t really help us. Voldemort is building something in the Ministry, and until he’s finished he won’t come out. They have no idea what the artifact is supposed to do.”

“Helpful.” Draco drawled.

“Yes.” She smiled. “It’s good to be back.”

“You are looking well.” He smiled in return.

“Do you mind, Harry, if she stays while I explain about your fifth year?” Dumbledore asked.

“I don’t mind.” Harry smiled tightly and sat with Draco on their favorite sofa. Narcissa sat in a chair by the fire and Dumbledore sat across from the boys. Severus chose to sit next to the headmaster so he could better see his children’s faces.

Harry sat rigid and pale as Dumbledore described the school year and ended with the battle in the Department of Mysteries. He felt disappointment in himself for not giving Occlumency the attention it deserved and was sad that Severus was still too adverse to him to make the lessons less painful. He felt great grief when he heard Sirius had been killed. He bowed his head and clung to Draco and his father’s hands, but he didn’t cry. That would be for later when Dumbledore was no longer there.

“Thank you for telling me the prophecy.” He said, lifting his head and revealing his weary and sorrowful eyes.

“No problem, my boy.” Dumbledore rumbled. “I am partly at fault for the way things turned out. I was trying to protect you and only handicapped you. I’m deeply sorry. I also should never have thrown you to Severus without some preparation for both of you. I made a mistake.”

“It’s alright, sir.” Harry said tightly. “I wish things could have been different, but I’m sure Sirius would rather we keep looking ahead. We do have Voldemort to defeat and he would be furious if we let his death distract us from that or our lives.”

“Very wise, Harry.” Dumbledore smiled. He stood and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Good luck, and if you ever need anything, I will be here for you.”

“Thank you.” Harry smiled.

Severus rose and walked the headmaster out while Draco wrapped his arms around Harry and let the smaller teen lean into him. They sat quietly for a while; Narcissa respectfully still. They didn’t even notice when Severus came in and shared the silence with them. They didn’t become aware until Remus came back and passed out hot chocolate. When everyone had a cup, he settled on the floor, leaning against Severus’ legs. Harry smiled at that and rested more of his weight against Draco. Before he knew it, he was asleep.

“Do you think he’ll be alright?” Remus whispered.

Draco reached up and lovingly brushed Harry’s bangs from his face. The lightning bold scar lay flush against his skin, dormant for now. He ran his fingers over it gently. “He’ll be fine,” he said with a soft smile. “I’m going to take him to bed.”

“Separate beds.” Severus intoned.

“He’s already asleep; we won’t do anything.” Draco returned calmly. “It’s better for us to be in the same bed during the transformation.”

“Have I missed something?” Narcissa raised an eyebrow.

“I’m sure they’ll fill you in once we’re out of the way.” Draco drawled.

Severus sighed, “Fine. Same bed, but just for tonight.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“Let me carry him.”

“I can do it.” Draco protested.

“Please.” Severus met his second son’s eyes.

Draco smiled faintly in understanding and nodded. Severus stood and lifted Harry into his arms, gently cradling him to his chest. Harry shifted with a content sigh and curled more into him. Smiling, Severus carried him to bed and spelled his pajama’s on. Draco changed and crawled into bed beside his love, draping one arm casually across Harry’s chest. The gesture spoke volumes about the boys’ feelings for each other.

“Sleep well.” Severus whispered. Draco yawned and closed his eyes.

Chapter Twenty-five

Severus, Remus, Draco, and Narcissa sat in the living room. Their faces were drawn and full of pain. Harry had woken from the transformation reasonably distraught about the death of his late godfather. His sobs had gotten so violent that he had his first asthma attack in several days. Now he was alone in the bedroom, trying to come to terms with his new memories.

Draco was hyper aware of the shame burning in his chest, coming through his bond to Harry. Harry couldn’t understand how he could act so childishly. At the same time, he was having a hard time accepting the sheer depth of Severus’ anger and dislike. Their father had literally torn into his mind, again and again. It was like one disaster after another, like a nightmare without the comfort of knowing it was just a dream.

The waves of distress slowly stilled and wire-hot determination rose in its place. Draco looked up at the doorway and cued everyone that Harry was coming. The small brunette floated into the living room. His eyes were puffy from crying and his face was pale, but his expression was hard and clear.

“That will never happen again.” He said calmly, but with conviction. “I’m glad we are past all that stupid hate and misconceptions. It has already cost people their lives.” Harry firmed his lips and curled his hands into fists. “Sirius was cheated out of his life, first with Azkaban and then due to our petty squabbles. But I think we’ve all learned the consequences of not working with each other, and no one will suffer because of us again.”

“I’m sorry, Harry.” Severus said softly.

“I know.” Harry floated over and sat down next to him. “It wasn’t your fault. We all made mistakes, including Dumbledore. But like I said, we’ve learned better and that’s all that matters.”

“Harry, what are those scars?” Remus asked, noticing the teen’s right hand.

“I will not tell lies.” Harry read and smiled grimly. “Umbridge made me write lines with a blood quill for saying Voldemort was back. It’s a curse scar now. Guess that’s why it came back when the scars inflicted by Quidditch and Vernon didn’t reappear.”

Severus’ hand clenched around Harry’s and his eyes burned with rage.

Harry smiled up at him and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Dad. It’s in the past. Besides, no one can doubt Voldemort’s back now, so it’s all right.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Narcissa asked carefully.

“Getting on the train after the school year.” The brunette answered.

Everyone relaxed at that. They had one more week to try and prepare Harry for the abuse he willingly submitted to that summer and the resulting event where he was drugged and raped. Hopefully they would manage to salvage the teen and keep him from slipping away into death. Draco stood and reached for Harry’s hand. The teen smiled and took it.

“We’re going to Madam Pomfrey for our check-up.” The blonde announced.

“I’m coming with you.” Severus stood and Narcissa nodded, standing as well.

“I’ll go and tend to the DA.” Remus offered.

“Thanks, Moony.” Harry flew over to kiss his cheek. “We’ll be there as soon as Madam Pomfrey’s done with us.”

“Take your time.” Remus ruffled his hair.

Madam Pomfrey studied the results of the many tests she had run. The boys waited patiently for her analysis, but Severus and Narcissa were stiff with anticipation. The witch hummed deep in her throat as she tapped the read-outs a few times with her wand. Harry grinned over at Draco who smirked back at him.

“Well?” Severus drawled, tired of waiting.

“The scar is a curse scar. Harry was right.” She answered. “But that doesn’t explain why I never noticed it till now.”

“It probably had a powerful glamour on it that was broken by the aging transformation.” Narcissa offered.

“Possibly.” Pomfrey sighed. “I could kill that woman. How many other students did she torture?”

“We can ask Dumbledore to make an announcement to ask victims to come forward.” Severus shrugged. “How are Harry’s lungs and nerves?”

“There is very little scarring left. He should be okay, but he could trigger an asthma attack still should he get over-worked or emotional. He should be able to walk normally now without problems. In fact, I’d recommend it as his muscles are loosing strength as well as his bones. His organs are healthy and, though he could stand to put on more weight, he is back within the healthy parameters. He’s grown only an inch and a half, standing at four foot nine and a half inches, but has gained almost twelve pounds, now weighing just short of one hundred pounds.” She smiled wryly. “As for Lord Malfoy, Draco is the picture of health itself. He is now five feet eight and a half inches and weighs one hundred and twenty seven pounds.”

“I like flying.” Harry pouted. “I hate being so much shorter than everyone.”

“I’m not saying you have to stop completely.” Pomfrey assured him. “It’s actually good seeing how much magic you contain. Bottling it up would only result in spectacular accidental magic. But you need to get at least a few hours of physical exercise.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry sighed. Draco snickered. “Shut up, you.” Harry mock glared at him. “You’re going to have to exercise with me, so don’t think you’re getting off easy.”

“Why should I?” Draco’s eyes went wide.

“You’re looking a little pudgy. Don’t want you to ruin your image by getting fat.” Harry smirked.

“I am not fat.” Draco growled. And it was true. His stomach was flat and his muscles, though not defined as an athlete, were delicately etched under his skin.

“You want to stay that way, don’t you?” Harry laughed.

“Shut up.” Draco glared, but then his face melted into a polite smile. “Thank you, Madam Pomfrey. Is it alright if we go now? We have DA to teach.”

“Go on.” She smiled fondly.

The boys waved and left her there with the adults. Severus immediately began questioning her about possible potions that could help Harry put on more weight and height. Narcissa shook her head, understanding one word in five. It didn’t take her long to realize that she’d be more useful doing other things. After a moment’s consideration, she decided to go and talk to the headmaster. She hadn’t forgotten the blood quill and something had to be done about it.

Harry and Draco arrived in the Room of Requirement half an hour later. The DA was in their groups practicing spells and warming up. Remus walked among them and spoke softly to encourage and instruct. Harry smiled at the sight. The DA really was coming along at a rapid pace. Draco felt Harry’s pride and stood straighter with it.

“Do you think they’re ready?” Shacklebolt asked behind them. He stood with thirteen Aurors who had come at Harry’s request to battle the DA. Draco was the one who thought of the idea and Harry had agreed it was perfect.

“They’re ready.” Harry said confidently and walked into the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to look at them. Draco followed behind him, face impassive and eyes bright and hard. Harry grinned wolfishly and the DA shifted in anticipation. “You all have been working really hard and we can tell by the results. Your dueling skills have increased and your knowledge of spells has grown. I think you’re ready for the battle ahead. Draco agrees with me. But we know that some of you are still unsure. Draco thought of asking the Aurors to come and test your skills.

“To make this as much like a real battle as possible, we’ll be creating several different battle zones.” Draco smirked. “You will fight in your groups as a team. Each group will go a round on each combat field.”

“Goldstein, your team will stay here.” Harry told the Ravenclaw who was the leader of the least powerful group. Anthony nodded and turned to the four others who were already discussing strategy. Harry then looked over at the middle group. “Hooper, you’ll be taking your group down to the lake.” The seventh year Gryffindor nodded. Harry looked at the last group. “Higgs, you’re group is assigned to the forbidden forest.” The Slytherin nodded and lead his group from the room.

Draco smirked at Harry and the brunette grinned back, excitement racing through his veins. The thirteen Aurors came in and the room morphed into an obstacle course. Anthony Goldstein had his group fan out behind him and the battle started. Draco and Harry stayed to watch only a few moments before hurrying from the room to check on the other groups.

The day passed quickly. The DA fought ruthlessly against the Aurors, holding nothing back. The Aurors were taken by surprise at first, but made a powerful comeback. Magic clashed and battled. Draco and Harry went from group to group, throwing in and helping as much as they could. When they made victory within reach for their classmates, they moved on. It was up to the groups to maintain the advantage.

The Aurors left impressed and wanting to go again the next day. Harry and Draco agreed and the DA broke up to eat and sleep, talking happily of their victories. Harry made his way to the dungeons flushed and happy. They had really done well. Draco was still running on adrenalin and his eyes burned when they landed on his breathless lover. Harry met his eyes and lifted gracefully into the air, pressing his mouth to the blonde’s hungrily. Draco staggered backward, his back hitting the stone wall as his hands grabbed at Harry’s clothes wildly.

Harry broke the kiss briefly to pull his and Draco’s shirt off. “You were amazing out there,” he said huskily before kissing his love senseless. Draco groaned as their chests, burning with heat and damp with sweat, slid against each other. His hand slid up into Harry’s hair and pulled hard. Harry gasped, his head tilting back. He hissed when Draco attacked his throat, sucking and biting painfully. Harry thrust against him, arching.

“You’re so beautiful.” Draco panted, staring into Harry’s glowing eyes.

“Raaayyy…” Harry moaned and they were kissing again, rubbing and touching frantically.

Harry was undoing Draco’s pant’s button when they heard footsteps coming down the hall. Draco clamped his hands onto Harry’s hips, stopping their movement. Harry buried his face in Draco’s shoulder and moaned painfully. The blonde bit his lip so hard it almost bled, but slowly their hearts slowed its maddened rhythm and their bodies cooled. Severus walked by, not six inches away, but he never saw them. Harry’s magic wrapped around them, concealing them from sight.

“We should go.” Draco’s voice was deep and rough.

Harry groaned, but obediently unwound his legs from the blonde’s waist and floated back to the floor. They carefully avoided looking at each other as they put on their shirts and straightened their hair. They were almost ready to go when Harry started laughing. Draco looked over curiously and began laughing as well. They laughed all the way to their door, leaning on each other and breathless with it. Remus smiled at them and Severus lifted an eyebrow. Draco shook his head helplessly and Harry shrugged.

“You two look like you had a great day.” Remus chuckled, noticing the dirty cheeks and torn clothes from the battles with the Aurors.

“Yeah.” Draco agreed and shoved Harry.

Harry grinned back. “What’s for dinner?”

“I believe steak and potatoes.” Severus answered.

“Come. It’s ready.” Narcissa called from the kitchen.

After dinner, Severus took the boys and had them practice Occlumency. They were so exhausted by the finish that they fell asleep instantly. Draco woke Harry the next morning and the green-eyed teen stared, mouth hanging open. Draco’s hair was wet and loose and he wore only a towel. The blonde smirked at him and leaned down to give him a chaste kiss.

“Come on. We have to get going.” He smiled.

“You’re cruel.” Harry groaned and rolled out of bed.

Harry crept through the Forbidden Forest. His feet made no sound as he floated an inch off the ground. He could just make out Draco following behind him, about ten feet away. There was a pained cry to the right and he flew forward. Hermione was down, unconscious. Ron was standing over her and yelling as he fired off spells continuously in every direction. Harry dodged one and watched an ice blue light come streaking for his friend. Throwing out his hand, Harry’s magic lashed forward and the spell exploded in a shower of sparks.

“Tend to Hermione!” He yelled, a shield springing up around them. Ron nodded and bent over their downed friend.

An explosion from behind had Harry spinning around. The Auror cursed and aimed for a second shot. Harry waved and buckled his shields; a second wave had him collapse stunned. Harry glanced to the side to see Draco crouched, silver eyes glowing with a sharp grin. The blonde’s eyes met his for a second and heat speared through them. They broke away as Ron called out that Hermione was injured, but able to fight.

Harry released them from their shield. “Where’s the rest of your group?”

“We got separated.” Hermione answered with a strained smile.

“Find them quick.” Draco snapped and melted back into the shadows.

Harry nodded his agreement and went after him.

The DA, battered and exhausted, met in the Room of Requirement for a late lunch. The mock battles had started at dawn and they had lasted a good six and a half hours. The DA had proven themselves. Many of the Aurors looked equally worse for wear. Harry and Draco had gleefully sat in on the lecture the Auror Generals had given their battered troops for allowing kids to get the better of them.

“You have all done extremely well.” Harry smiled around at his classmates. “When the battle comes, you will be ready. And the Aurors will be glad to have you fighting on their side.”

A round of laughter and cheering went up.

“We don’t want to wear you out so that you make a mistake when it really counts, so tomorrow you’re to rest and have fun. Try not to use too much magic. Conserve your strength.” Draco ordered and got nods of agreement. “We’ve seen each group fight in each area and we’ve decided to assign you permanently to each spot to defend it against Death Eater attack.”

“Higgs, your group has the Quidditch Pitch.” Harry looked over at the Slytherin and then moved his gaze to the Ravenclaw leader of the middle group. “Goldstein, your group will cover the school.” He looked over at the Gryffindor seventh year. “Hooper, you and the others will cover the Forbidden Forest. If the Death Eaters get past you and your group, fall back to help the others. I don’t want you to make a final stand and die. Cause as much damage as you can and regroup for another quick strike.”

“We are a support group for the Aurors.” Draco agreed. “We are not on the front line. You will not help us by dying. Do you all understand?”

The crowd yelled in the affirmative.

“Alright.” Harry said seriously. “We’re going to practice these darting strikes, working with the Aurors, Thursday. So everyone rest up tomorrow, you’re going to need it.”

The crowd cheered and began to disperse. Harry turned to his love and his eyes were glowing with pride, his hair even more disheveled than normal and dirt smudging his cheek. Draco’s breath hitched at the sight.

“I think we can win this, Ray.” Harry floated up and draped his arms over the blonde’s shoulders. “I really think they’ll be able to pull this off.”

“They’re ready.” Draco agreed. “And so are we.”

Harry grinned and kissed him. As soon as Draco pulled him closer for firmer contact, he wiggled and floated out of reach. Flushed and breathing faster than normal, Draco stared at him curiously. Harry almost caved under his hot gaze, but managed to cross his arms and say, “Now we’re even for this morning.”

“You little…” Draco lunged, but missed.

Harry laughed. “Come on, Ray. We really do have to get to lunch. I’m starving.”

“Fine.” Draco glared, tossing his braid over his shoulder.

Harry wrapped his arms around the blonde’s neck from behind, still laughing. Draco pretended to ignore him, but a smile kept creeping out from the corners of his mouth.

“How was training?” Severus asked as the boys, freshly washed, came to the table.

“It was really good.” Harry smiled happily. “We’re ready.”

“Any sign of Voldemort?” Draco asked, sitting beside his love and across from their father and Moony.

“None.” Narcissa shook her head. She sat at the end of the table. “He’s still holed up in the Ministry building.”

“Are you going to train after you eat?” Remus asked. The boys looked good, but he could sense their fatigue.

“No.” Harry shook his head. “We gave them tomorrow off as well. We’ll continue on Thursday, this time working with the Aurors.”

“The Auror’s have been divided in half. Shacklebolt will be leading those fighting with us and Bones and Robards will be leading the group fighting against us as mock Death Eaters.” Draco explained.

“That’s a good idea.” Remus praised.

“It was Harry’s idea. He thought if we continued like this, we wouldn’t know how to work with the Aurors and might end up getting in their way.” Draco shrugged.

“Good thinking, Harry.” Severus looked on his son.

Harry looked up at him with a happy smile, “Thanks, Dad.”

“Well, since you don’t have further plans, I want you to practice Occlumency while under attack.” He said firmly.

The boys groaned.

“It is important.” Severus stared at them and they fell silent.

“Your dad’s right.” Remus smiled. “But let’s worry about desert first.”

The boys cheered and Narcissa laughed at Severus’ expression.

Severus sat on the edge of his bed with a tired sigh.

Remus came up behind him and leaned his head against his shoulder. “What’s the matter? They seemed to get the hang of it by the end.” It hadn’t been a pretty sight. The boys, excellent duelers normally, were knocked off their feet again and again when Severus attacked their mind.

“It’s not that.” Severus shook his head. He stared at the wall, his black eyes tight with worry. “They’re so young and the battle ahead will be like nothing they’ve ever seen. The battle at Hogsmeade will be trivial in comparison. They don’t deserve the future ahead of them. I’m not even sure Harry will survive until the battle. In just five days, Harry will remember what happened to him.” Severus hung his head, his hair curtaining his face from view. “How will I tell my son he was raped?”

“They’re strong, Sev.” Remus murmured, a whimper in his voice with sympathetic pain.

“They’re children.” Severus countered with a hot glare.

“I know.” Remus backed away and lay down with a pained sigh. The full moon was only three days away. “But someone once said that he couldn’t bear to think otherwise. So I’ve taken to the same philosophy. They will survive because I won’t be able to stand it if they don’t.”

Severus’ eyes softened. He tucked his lank hair behind his ear and leaned down to kiss his lover. Remus submitted, hands resting passively at his sides. Severus smirked and swished his wand, dimming the lights as his long, agile fingers left fires in their wake and his mouth swallowed the werewolf’s moans.

Remus’ eyes were glowing gold by this point and his whole body strained to take his lover, to quicken the pace, but he endured his lover’s slow and thorough tortures. He writhed and fought against his instinct to howl and pin his lover, knowing Severus needed this. Panting, their bodies slid slickly together. They came moments apart and cried out as light and sensation exploded behind their eyes.

“I’m glad you gave the DA the day off.” Severus announced when they finished breakfast. Harry looked worriedly at his father.

The dark-eyed man had been unusually subdued. Draco looked to Remus for a hint, but he just looked pained and tired and that could be because of the moon. He looked to his mother and her grim, pale face didn’t bode well. He reached under the table and Harry’s hand met his halfway. They held tightly to each other.

“Why don’t we go into the sitting room?” Severus stood from the table and strode away.

“Mother?” Draco asked tightly.

“Go. Remus and I will wait here. Call if you need us.” Narcissa answered gently.

Harry’s eyes went wide, “What’s going on? Has Voldemort done something?”

“No, Harry. There is still no news.” Remus’ kind eyes were full of tears and Harry felt his panic grow. “Go on. Your father’s waiting.”

The boys shared a look. Harry thought Draco’s eyes were knowing, but he had no time to ask his love what was going on. They entered the sitting room together. Severus was sitting stiff and straight in his favored chair. He didn’t look around at them. Harry bit his lip hard, his hands sweaty. Draco tugged him forward and they carefully sat on the couch.

“I usually tell you about your returning memories the day before, but I have decided that it would be better that you receive more forewarning this time. It is important that you come to terms with what happened and having more time to accept it could mean the difference between your living and your dieing.”

“Dad, you’re scaring me.” Harry whispered.

“I’m sorry, son. I do not mean to frighten you.” Severus lifted his head so he was looking into Harry’s eyes. They were full of too much pain. “This past summer you were grieving for the loss of your godfather. You felt it was your fault alone and the grief and guilt consumed you. When you returned to the Dursley’s and their abuse, it hit you harder than ever before. You succumbed to the belief that you deserved to be punished.” He paused. “Do you understand, Harry?”

Harry stared back, speechless. He remembered how he felt, but it was like he was a different person then. No. He really was a different person now. But he could remember. Slowly, he nodded. Draco squeezed his hand, his head bowed. His hand was icy in Harry’s.

“Vernon abused you and you let him, thinking you deserved it.” Severus said softly, but it was like a shout. Harry winced. “He beat you horribly for many days. Your magic didn’t defend you because you didn’t want it to.”

Fat tears rolled down Harry’s cheeks, but he didn’t look away from his father’s eyes. He needed to know. He knew he did and he wouldn’t look away. He was stronger, better. He would get through this. He wasn’t alone any longer.

“Encouraged, Mr. Dursley indulged his worst desires. He drugged your food. When you went to your room, you were physically impaired, but your magic was affected somehow as well… Harry, he raped you. Your magic tried to come to you, but it couldn’t. It was blocked.”

Harry covered his face, too shocked, too horrified, to even cry. It was like everything inside him went numb. He barely registered Draco pulling him into a tight embrace. He hardly felt his dad come over and hold him from his other side. But the words came in loud and clear, even as he wished them to stop.

“You rejected your magic completely after that. You felt betrayed. Without magic, you were dieing. Slowly, day by day. We couldn’t get through to you. You were too hurt. So we tried the spell, hoping it would let us in to you and allow us to mute and heal what we could. Instead, it turned you into a child.”

Harry shook his head dumbly, his hand still covering his face. Draco was crying silently, his gray eyes as dark as smoke and filled with painful tears. Severus held tight and for the first time Harry felt his size. He felt small and fragile, and he just wanted to curl up and let his father and Draco shelter him and make everything alright. But that wasn’t possible. The injury wasn’t from outside. It was going to come from within. He couldn’t hide from it. He knew it, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Draco felt the numbness grow within his chest. It coated his insides with hard, brittle ice and his despair, fear, and pain beat at it to no avail. Small objects at the edge of the room were trembling as Harry’s magic quivered. It was like it was locked out as well, though he knew it wasn’t. He could feel it radiating from his baby, pouring straight and smooth like sunrays. They only bent and shook at the ends. Books fell to the ground, glasses rattled, frames knocked against the wall.

He clung to Harry, trying to give him strength and reassurance. Merlin. He couldn’t loose him. He just couldn’t. He wouldn’t survive. Draco lowered his head, resting his forehead against Harry’s shoulder. He’d die from a broken heart if Harry left him.

Severus rocked his children. Rage and agony made his insides bleed. He’d have given anything, paid any price, and suffered any pain to spare Harry this. He knew forbidden and dark arts. He was young and powerful. How could it be that he was so helpless when he most needed to do something? He had done unforgivable things, cruel and evil. Why was Harry the one suffering?

Remus and Narcissa stood in the doorway. Both were stiff and silently mourning for the three on the couch. They ached with need; a need to do something to ease the suffering in their beloved. But there was nothing to do. So they stood silent vigil, offering themselves, hoping their presence would be of some comfort.

Harry lay in bed on his back. He knew Draco would be up soon. The blonde lay fitfully in the bed next to his own. He hadn’t fallen to sleep until a handful of hours before. Harry hadn’t slept at all. He was thinking. He didn’t remember much of the day before. He remembered hearing what happened, what his uncle had done, but the rest was a blur. The first clear memory was being tucked in by his dad and lying silent, struggling with what he now knew was coming.

He didn’t want to remember what happened during the summer. He didn’t want the spell to end. Just imaging… Harry shuddered and waves of nausea enveloped him. Magic swirled around the room. It was tame, but only because Harry was consciously willing it so. He was powerful. He knew he was. Intellectually, he knew his uncle had done something to prevent his magic from responding, but feeling the strength and sheer power filling him it was hard to believe.

Draco hadn’t said anything to him as they lay waiting for sleep to come, but he didn’t have to. Harry could hear him. Don’t die. I need you. I love you. His fist clenched. He didn’t want to die. More than he didn’t want to remember what Vernon had done to him, he didn’t want to die. He wanted to be here for the DA. He had to defeat Voldemort; he was the only one who could. But more than that, he wanted to be here for Draco. Harry loved him with all his heart and soul. Draco was beautiful and strong and magnificent. He didn’t want to be without him in any form.

“Baby,” came a soft whisper, weak and needy.

Harry moved without thought. He just reacted to the pain in that beloved voice. He floated over the distance separating them and landed gently on Draco’s chest. The blonde wrapped his arms tight around him and cried. Harry was surprised to find tears falling down his own cheeks, even though he knew he shouldn’t be.

“Ray… Ray, I… I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Draco didn’t answer. He couldn’t.

“I love you, Ray. I don’t want to leave you, but I’m scared.”

“Me, too.” Draco breathed shakily. “But we’ve got each other and we won’t let that fat, soulless bastard of a waste of human material win. Alright?”

Harry nodded into his chest.

They lay like that for almost an hour before Severus came in. He didn’t say anything about Harry being in Draco’s bed. He just came and sat on the edge, placing a long-fingered hand on Harry’s back. “Remus told me to say goodbye for him. He went to prepare for the full moon. He say’s he will be running with you.”

“Thanks, Dad.” Harry mumbled.

“Come. Let’s get some breakfast in you.” Severus stood and looked down at them for a few minutes before leaving them to get dressed.

Harry stalked through the forest, his breath a cloud in front of his face. Snow littered the ground and he was glad he could float above it. Even with his warm clothes, the end of November cold bit into him. But he was glad to be out here. It had taken a lot of convincing that he was able to come and train with the DA today, but in the end he had prevailed.

Draco hadn’t argued. He could understand the need to be busy and forget for just a little while. Severus, however, felt it would be better if he just took it easy. Harry had persisted and finally Severus had caved, however, he was out here somewhere as well so that he’d be nearby if he was needed. Harry had to smile at that. He really was lucky to have a father like Severus.

A spell slammed into him and only his shield saved him from a few broken ribs. He still went flying into a tree. Gasping for breath, Harry lashed out, sending electric power down the spell residue that lingered between him and the attacker. A sharp yelp reached his ears from about twenty feet away to the left. Harry zipped over and stunned the mock Death Eater while he was still down. Power and adrenaline swamped the numb feeling still lingering in his chest. Yes. This was a very good idea.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Harry and Draco trained with the DA. At first, the students were clumsy with the Auror’s help, but as the days passed, they got better. Harry was subdued and withdrawn, but fighting along side the DA had kept him from sinking with terror. Draco was always at his side, even when he gave Harry space. Severus and Narcissa watched with tired eyes as the hours slipped away and the last age transformation and the end of the spell approached. Dumbledore called Harry and Draco up for a chat Sunday afternoon, but both boys just shrugged when they were asked about it. The Gryffindors and Slytherins didn’t know what had happened, but they knew that the spell was ending and Harry might die. They watched and waited and offered support and laughs. Harry and Draco accepted, surrounding themselves in people and hope.

(sexual content follows, warning is in effect)

They had a family dinner and Harry allowed their dad to tuck him in. Narcissa stood in the doorway, tight as a bow string and eyes full of tears. Draco and Harry accepted their attention silently with understanding smiles. Finally the door shut and they were alone. The spell would begin returning them to their rightful ages around midnight. Two hours. Harry turned his head and saw that Draco was staring at him with his luminous eyes.

“I love you.” Harry said honestly. He floated up and over, landing on the blonde’s chest. He looked down into Draco’s surprised face and smiled. “I love you, Ray. I’m going to be fine. It’ll be hard, but I’ll make it. You know I will.”

“I know, Baby. I’m just…”

“I know.” Harry shushed him and leaned down for a long, slow kiss. He pulled back and smiled tearfully. “You’re so beautiful, Draco. You’re my strength.”

“Enough with the sap.” Draco laughed, eyes burning.

Harry laughed back and leaned down for a more urgent kiss. Draco gave him what he wanted happily. They lay entangled, kissing and touching, worshiping. They had been through so much together, grown together. They knew each other better than anyone else could. There didn’t need to be words between them. Their bond was so strong that it was tangible.

Draco gently suckled at Harry’s neck, causing the smaller teen to arch with a wanton moan. He was so beautiful; wild black hair and burning green eyes. He was so damn strong and yet so fragile. He tastes so sweet. His skin was soft. His laugh was contagious and he radiated power and hope. He was his. Harry was not going anywhere. Draco wouldn’t let him.

His hands slid up into his love’s wild locks and his mouth claimed the brunette’s, his tongue feeling every inch. Harry gave into him and laid limp and hot and moaning deep in his throat. Draco groaned and rolled so that they were on their sides. His hands slipped down, under Harry’s shirt. Harry arched into the caress.

“Ray.” He breathed when their mouths finally parted. His eyes were shining with tears. “I need you. I need more.”

Draco gasped and tore the shirt from his lover’s body. Harry smiled and hissed unintelligibly. Draco growled and bent to lick and kiss a nipple. The brunette sucked in a breath, eyes burning, and magic rushed over them like molten sunshine. Draco’s hair flared and spread like wings. Harry watched, enthralled as he lost himself in the sensations. Love and trust made him pliable. He wanted this so bad. He wanted to loose his virginity to love. He wanted to know the good before he remembered the bad.

Draco pulled back and watched as Harry opened dazed eyes. “You okay?”

“Y-yeah.” Harry whispered. “S-show me more.”

Harry was breathing faster, his lips already swollen and red and wet. Draco gulped, not wanting to go too fast, but unable to resist the teen in his arms. This time his lips suckled gently at the pale throat and Harry arched, thrusting his hips into the blonde’s, crying out softly in pleasure. Draco almost screamed, the sensation more intense than anything he had felt before, the bond opening so that he felt everything Harry did. He could hardly see straight, but he couldn’t stop.

Harry had never felt anything like this, not even during the other times they had messed around, though the time on the roof was close. The heat coursing through his body, the scent and touch of Draco against him; it was awesome, he relished it, gave himself over to the wondrous feelings willingly and completely. He tossed his head from side to side, now undulating against the blonde wantonly, slowly. His eyes burned up at his partner and Draco swallowed down hard on a moan, painfully aroused.

“Oh Merlin, Baby.” His voice was hoarse. “You still okay? Want to stop?”

“N-no… Ray...” Harry couldn’t say much more than that. Words were almost beyond him.

Draco smiled, licking his lips, his own eyes molten. He settled back on his knees, Harry under him, and reached down to slowly undo his lover’s pants. Harry closed his eyes and made a strange little mewling noise, rising up, gently pressing against Draco’s hands. The blonde bit his lip hard. Merlin, the sounds his love was making.

Harry lay naked. He was thin. Draco could count all his ribs, but he had wiry muscles that gave him curves and lines that Draco wanted to trace with his tongue. So he did. Harry’s eyes flew open and he cried out, hands flying into Draco’s silky blonde hair, gripping tight. “Damn, Baby,” Draco panted.

He hadn’t even picked a sensitive place to start, only the lower rib. But Harry was writhing beneath him, soft sighs lingering on his lips. Draco growled and attacked the bare skin again, the pounding of his heart roaring in his ears. His love encompassed his senses, consumed his mind. Before he knew what was happening, he was naked as well, sweat glistening on every inch of their skin.

“Harry…You sure?”

Harry could only cry out mindlessly in protest that Draco had stopped. It was enough for Draco. He pushed gently in. Harry froze and for a second Draco feared his baby was in pain, but he looked into Harry’s eyes and found only need and awe. He closed his eyes and pushed further. His breath stopped in his chest as Harry whimpered and arched, swallowing more of him impatiently. There was no resistance at all. Harry was moaning, chest slick against him from their sweat, arching, accepting him completely. Harry was crying out, clawing at his shoulders, writhing, gasping. Draco was blind with the pleasure, such heat!

They were moving now, dancing, glistening. Draco was no longer blind. Every sense was painfully aware. He could see individual beads of sweat on Harry’s throat. Could feel every breath, hot and urgent, against his bare shoulders; could hear Harry’s heart racing. And, oh Merlin, Harry reacted to every touch, was open completely, legs spread shamelessly wide. Harry had no control, had thrown it away, and handed it to Draco.

Screaming, Harry arched completely off the ground, sweet cum spilled between their chests. Then he went limp, thrown unconscious by a tidal wave of pleasure too much for him to handle. Draco cried out as the limp body accepted even more of him. He didn’t think it was even possible and his body jerked in reaction, slamming deep and hard into his lover. Again and again.

He was mesmerized. Merlin, Draco wanted him, wanted more of him, even as he was being burned alive by Harry’s heat. He bit down on Harry’s shoulder, drawing blood, marking him, possessing him as he thrust and claimed this succulent body, this paradise. The fire licked at his soul, building and building…

Harry came slowly back to consciousness; rhythmic rocking filled his body and soul. He cried out hoarsely, embracing it. The scent of Draco hit him next; heavy and spicy. He opened his eyes and saw Draco’s face above his own, twisted with passion, eyes closed tight. Harry moaned and wrapped himself around him, trying to touch every inch. His legs twined up and around the blonde, moving as Draco arched and rocked. His arms wrapped around his lover’s chest, his neck. He couldn’t get enough, he screamed, but his voice was hoarse, almost gone. Draco gasped, eyes now wide. He stared into green fire and let go.

An explosion threw him into Harry as he arched back, screaming, ridged as if he had been struck by lightening. He saw stars as the orgasm shook him. It rolled over him and washed down deep into his soul, and it didn’t stop. He thought he’d black out, felt himself falling as he began to shake, still gripped mercilessly by ecstasy. Harry held him, still rocked gently against him, making the pleasure last until he couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, could only feel and it was so overwhelming it was painful.

The curtain of pleasure began to recede and slowly sight came back to his wide, dazed eyes. They were lying still. His head was on Harry’s chest, rapidly rising and falling with Harry’s panting breaths. The strong heart under his ear was steady, pounding. Harry’s arms were still wrapped around him, but the smaller teen’s legs had fallen to the ground. Draco lifted his head. It felt like it weighed five hundred pounds.

“Are…you…okay?” He croaked, his voice raw agony in his throat.

Harry opened his mouth, his eyes half-lidded with sated exhaustion, but nothing came out. Looked like he was worse off. Draco smirked. Harry smiled faintly back and then fell into a blissful sleep. Draco groaned. He looked around. The room was a mess. A magical storm had tossed things everywhere. Clothes from the dresser coated the ground like snow. The second bed was bent and the sheets tied in knots. He sunk into Harry’s warmth and pulled their blankets up around them, thankfully they had been untouched. With a soft sigh, Draco kissed his dry lips to his baby’s cheek and let oblivion claim him.

Severus sat rigid in his chair at the kitchen table. The sounds from the boys’ room had finally fallen silent. Narcissa watched her childhood friend worriedly as the clock struck twelve and a flare of power erupted, signaling the start of the end of the spell. Feeling brave and desperate to break the silence, she spoke up.

“Do you think it wise we allowed them to… consummate their relationship?”

Severus remained still and quiet. Just when Narcissa thought she’d have to ask her question again, he finally spoke. “There could be any number of reactions to what just occurred. Harry could react positively and let the experience teach him the way intercourse is suppose to be and let it help heal the memories when he was Desecrated. Or he could react negatively and let the horror of Desecration overshadow all physical contact, making the memories with Draco just as traumatizing. If that should occur, he will push Draco away and even be afraid of him. This is, of course, assuming he doesn’t just die.”

“And my son will die with him.” Narcissa said grimly. “Maybe not immediately, but he will follow Harry wherever he goes.”

Severus lifted his head and stared at her. His eyes were dead, as dead as they were when he had been an active Death Eater. Narcissa flinched and desperately wished Remus were there. But the werewolf wouldn’t be back until morning. She felt helpless against that gaze and looked away.

“I’ll make tea.”

Severus sneered viciously, “Why don’t you wait in your bedroom? You’ll feel if anything should happen from there.”

Narcissa knew that was a demand to be left alone and lowered her head. This was his home and she had no right to impose on him. She set the tea cup she held down and walked gracefully from the kitchen. It was like walking into an invisible wall of magic, but she persisted and slowly got to her bedroom. She didn’t remember the magic being so powerful before. She sat stiffly in her bedroom chair, worry pounding with her heat, her hands clasped in her lap as she settled in to wait out the night. For the first time in years, she began to pray. She prayed for the safe return of both of the teenagers. She prayed for everyone who would be devastated by the loss of either one of them.

Chapter Twenty-six

Draco was conscious. He had never been conscious during the change before. He could feel his body growing, but it was distant like he was on a strong pain potion. The last of the fog blocking or numbing his memories evaporated and he felt like he could fit in his skin for the first time in months. He was complete at last.

And then the whimpering started. He was helpless to move, helpless to even turn his head. As magic snapped and surged and passed through him in sheets, altering his body and cutting away the barriers in his mind, Draco listened as Harry Potter, rival, brother, best friend, and lover, began to cry like a broken child. He was pinned, immobile as Harry begged for it to stop, begged to forget, and begged for Draco to help him. Draco began screaming just to drown out those horrible sounds, but it didn’t work. He could still hear him suffer. Truly suffering as he lay right next to him and Draco was helpless to do anything.

Remus came staggering into Severus’ rooms. The scent of his mate wrapped around him and the pain in his body lessened with relief at being near by once more. Severus met him and handed him a potion without a word. He didn’t take it. He knew it would knock him out and he wanted to be awake. He pushed it aside and Severus met his eyes. They were blank, completely empty. Remus literally flinched back away from them and whined.

“Take the potion.” Severus spoke levelly with no inflections whatsoever.


“Take. It.”

Remus took it, anything to help his mate, and collapsed on the couch unconscious. Severus stared down at him and the smallest bit of warmth cracked the edges around his eyes. He stood guard over his wounded lover for an hour, but as soon as the magic surge died in the boys’ room, he was moving. He met Narcissa at the door and they entered together.

As soon as he had control of his limbs, Draco sat up and looked to Harry. He had fallen silent a while ago and somehow that had been worse. Draco couldn’t feel him at all. For the past couple months, there had been a warmth at his center where Harry’s feelings had been, but now it was gone. It felt like he was cut off from the world, like he couldn’t touch anything. Like he was the only thing real in the universe and everything else was a dream. Shaking off the dissociation that intellectually he knew would leave as soon as he adjusted to the absence of the bond, he touched the teen next to him, needing to know he was there and alright.

Harry stared, his eyes open and glassy. He didn’t respond to Draco’s touch. He seemed asleep, but he was blinking. Severus and Narcissa came running, but Draco didn’t give them any attention. He shook Harry’s shoulder harder. His lover had gained weight with this last age transformation. He wasn’t so bony. He even looked taller, closer to how big he was before he went home for the summer.

“Harry, come on! Wake up!” He yelled it. He knew, somehow, that nothing would work. That it was pointless, but he had to do something now that he could.

Severus moved him gently and began casting spells. Narcissa was crying, hanging onto Draco. They waited and Draco didn’t move to get out of the bed or get dressed. Severus and Narcissa made no mention of their sharing the bed or that they were both naked. Draco smiled as he remembered last night. Merlin, his fingers itched to touch Harry again, to taste him and hear him crying out because of pleasure and not pain.

“He isn’t in a coma.” Severus shook his head. He was frowning, but a burning light had returned to his eyes. He had found hope. “The readings are confused. They say he is in a very deep sleep, but there are seconds where his higher cognitive functions flare up. I’d say he is slipping between deep sleep to vivid and active dreams. Poppy may be able to tell us more.”

“Let me get dressed.” Draco stood and went to his closet. “I’ll get you something for Harry to wear.”

Narcissa put trembling fingers to her lips. Joy ripped through her. Her son had returned. Draco was acting strong and collected and cool, just as he had before the spell had interfered with his mind. She felt hope that maybe his feelings for the boy were induced by the spell and that he would survive Harry’s death. He hadn’t called him Baby, after all.

“I get the same readings you do, Severus.” Poppy frowned. “But this isn’t normal sleep! Nothing is waking him up. Not potions or a physical shock. I can’t begin to say how long he’ll be like this.”

Severus nodded. “But he’s not like how he was when he was returned here at the beginning of the school year.”

“No.” She agreed. “And that has to be a good thing.”

“He’s coping.”

They turned, surprised, and looked at Draco. They had forgotten he was there. Even Narcissa had startled at his drawled comment. He was leaning against the infirmary wall, his hands in his pockets and his face hard and expressionless. Severus was the first to recover.

“You can feel him still?”

“No.” Draco shrugged and stood. He took his hands out of his pockets and looked around, his expression bored. He moved to leave.

“What did you mean?” Severus snapped, not at all amused.

“Dreams. He’s remembering in pieces.” Draco mused. “Then he’s sleeping to get a break from the fragments. Excuse me. I have to get caught up on my work.”

“Well.” Poppy huffed and crossed her arms. “Of all the… What has gotten into that child?”

“No…” Severus turned to look at his son. “He told us something important.”

“What?” Narcissa asked. She was bewildered by Draco’s behavior as any of them. Was he perhaps feeling violated himself? Forced to feel such a deep and obsessive attachment for anyone could be traumatizing, and if it were unwilling… She’d have to talk to him.

“When you dream, it feels like a long time has passed, but the REM cycle where dreams take place only lasts for minutes at a time. Draco’s suggesting that Harry is coping with his memories and then retreating, only to start again.” Severus explained.

“Poor child.” Poppy said tearfully and gently smoothed his blankets. “I hope he is not trapped in a nightmare loop. He may not wake up from one of those.”

“The times during activity are not exact and would suggest otherwise.” Severus shook his head. He sighed and covered his face with his hands. It had been a long night and he had gotten no rest. He was exhausted. He moved his hands to look down at Harry. He was looking healthier than he had in a very long time. He’d gained five and a half inches and almost twenty pounds. But his eyes were blank and staring. He wasn’t responsive. There was nothing Severus could do for him. They had cast the healing spell. He had done his best. The rest was up to Harry alone. It had never been harder to do nothing.

“Severus, you need to rest.” Poppy said kindly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Harry is strong. He’ll pull through this.”

“I know.” Severus nodded. “I’m going to take him back to his room. He would prefer it.”

Poppy wanted to argue, but couldn’t. She’d never seen Severus like this. Narcissa gave her a discreet shake of the head and she sighed. “Fine. But I’m coming down three times a day to check on him.”

“That would be appreciated.” Severus cast a weightless charm and cradled his son in his arms.

Narcissa went looking for Draco as Severus tended to Harry. She expected him to be in the Slytherin common room, but no one had seen him. The Slytherins happily said they’d help look for him and went running off to see their returned friend and leader. They promised to send her a spell message when they found him. Narcissa went looking in the gardens, but as time passed and no message found her and her son didn’t appear, she began to grow fearful. She went to the headmaster.

“The students go to and from Hogsmeade all the time now and I rarely check the wards.” Dumbledore muttered and cried, “Aha! I found him. He left exactly two hours and thirty-seven minutes ago.”

“That was about the time he left the infirmary. He must have left immediately from there,” Narcissa said with a deep frown. Her instincts were blaring that something was wrong. “Perhaps he went to meet with business contacts.”

“Most likely, my dear. I can’t see him leaving the DA or Harry for any other reason.” Dumbledore smiled reassuringly.

“Of course.” She curtsied stiffly and strode from the room, intent on finding her son. With a swoosh of her wand, she called Pansy, Gregory, and Vincent to meet her at the front doors. She had a feeling she’d need their backup for this.

Draco apperated onto Private Drive like a vengeful angel. His robes were open and flaring out in the brisk December breeze. He had purposefully left his thigh length hair loose and it shimmered white in the sun. His eyes were hard, like mirrors, and his mouth was smiling. It had taken him too much time to get the exact location of Privet Drive, but now he was here and there was nothing that would stop him. He stepped forward deliberately. If his clothes and hair were snapping more violently than the wind could explain, no one looked long enough to notice. Curtains were pulled tightly shut in his wake. Draco’s smile got bigger.

Vernon Dursley had been having a very, very bad winter. His wife had divorced him and even his son had turned his back and all because he had taught that Freak the lesson he deserved. That worthless Freak should never have been born. Why should they care that he was getting what was due him? They knew he was right to do what he did. That Freak must have spelled them. Yes. That was it. He had spelled them. The next time he saw that little Freak he’d make him set his family right. And then he’d kill him good.

Vernon nursed his dark thoughts and his pint of beer as he did every morning. The waitress at the pub no longer questioned him ordering alcohol with his breakfast before work. He hadn’t been completely sober since the end of summer. The same thoughts occupied his mind, hardly ever changing. He was in danger of losing his job. It was just another thing to hate and blame the Freak for. Plotting the Freak’s death was the only happiness left to him.

“Hello, Petunia. We need to talk.” Draco said, his smile stretching wider.

Petunia went pale and backed away from the wizard on her doorstep. Tears fell down her cheeks and knowledge bloomed in her eyes. She knew why he was here and she deserved whatever he was about to do to her. But she had a son who, though he had participated in the abuse, was innocent. She had to survive to take care of him since Vernon was gone. Dudley may have hurt Harry, but he had been raised to do so. He knew better now and didn’t deserve to lose his mother.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered as Draco stepped in and shut the door behind him. He never once looked away from her eyes. “I didn’t lift a finger for Harry and treated him badly. I was wrong and I’ll make up for it any way I can, but don’t kill me. My son needs me.”

“Harry needed you.” Draco was practically singing in his low, slow voice.

“I know.” Petunia sobbed, clutching her apron in her hands. “I know he did and I was horrible to him. I will go to Hell for what I did to that child, but, please, I can help fix the damage I’ve done to my son. Punish me, make me suffer, but allow me to do that. For Harry and for my son.”

“He was beaten. He bled in your house. He wept here. He begged for your love and slaved to please you.” Draco said it gently, like he would to a small child. “You taught him fear and helplessness. You taught him self-denial and self-hate. You taught him anger.”

Petunia collapsed against the wall, pictures fell and glass broke. She was sobbing and wretched, but she couldn’t look away from his glowing eyes. In them, she could see herself and she saw she was ugly.

“Oh, god, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” She moaned and sank to the floor. She didn’t care that she sat on glass and it was cutting her. That was nothing. Nothing she didn’t deserve.


Draco turned his unblinking eyes to the kitchen doorway. Dudley stood there. He was still grossly overweight. “I haven’t done anything.” He smiled and gestured at Petunia. “I’ve not touched her.”

“It’s some magic then.” Dudley was red-faced with anger. “You leave her alone!”

“I’m here to collect on the rent.” Draco flicked his fingers toward the living room.

“We’ve paid off this house. We don’t owe rent.” Dudley was confused on top of being angry.

“You’ve demanded pain from Harry to live here. You’re a bit late paying up on your share.” Draco smiled again.

“Harry…” Dudley shifted uncomfortably. “You know Harry? He’s… alright?”

“He’s going to be.” Draco shrugged.

“I’m sorry for what happened to him. Even if he is… magic.” Dudley looked down at his mother. “What Dad did was wrong. That’s why we’ve kicked him out and never see him. He’s gone. So leave us alone. What more can you want from us?”

“Vernon Dursley is gone.” Draco repeated airily.

“Yes.” Petunia pulled herself to her feet. She was still trembling. “I’ve divorced him and he’s nothing to do with us anymore. What he did… It was indefensible. So is what I’ve done. But, please, Dudley doesn’t know any better. Let me fix my mistake.”

“You can never fix it.” Draco tisked her gently. “It’s way too late for that. Tell me where Vernon has gone.”

“We don’t know!” Dudley yelled angrily. “We already told you that!”

Petunia ignored her son and spoke readily, “He’s gotten an apartment across town. He takes his meals in the Broken Barrel pub. He should be there now.”

“Thank you.” Draco half-bowed to her when he straightened he had his wand in his hand. “You both have much to pay for, but Vernon is more important right now.”

He flicked his wrist and light filled the hallway. Petunia tried to throw herself in front of her son, but there was no escaping the spell. It saturated the air with power and malevolent intent. The very walls glowed with it. The light died away and Draco smiled. Petunia was looking at her son with an expression of terror, but it slowly melted into confusion as she could sense nothing wrong. Dudley shared the same confused look as he ran his hands over what he could touch of his body and felt nothing different.

Draco turned and left without a word. He was halfway down the street when he heard both of them scream. His smile deepened into contentment. For the rest of their lives or until Draco lifted the curse, they would have random flashbacks so vivid, they would not be able to tell they were not real until they were over. Draco had pulled the memories from the house’s very walls and anchored them into their minds instead. They’d see themselves torture Harry over and over, all the while knowing it was wrong and feeling Harry’s pain.

Yes, Draco thought happily. That will do for now. They can wait until I am done with Vernon Dursley.

Narcissa and the three Slytherins arrived at Four Privet Drive and shuddered. With the Ministry broken as it was, no one would be monitoring magic use and that was a very good thing. The Dursley house reeked of powerful dark magic, though it looked the same as those surrounding it. Straightening her spine, Narcissa strode to the front door and knocked. She got no answer.

“Do you hear that?” Greg asked. Maybe it was his training as a healer, but he was the first to notice the muted crying from inside.

Draco had no need to ask who Vernon Dursley was. He recognized him by his son immediately. They didn’t actually look alike in the face, but the matching hair color and obesity made them familiar enough that Draco knew him immediately. Vernon was walking out of the pub just as he was about to enter and Draco almost hurt himself keeping his delighted laughter inside. He had thought this was going to be difficult, but Vernon had just made it oh so easy.

Sneering in disgust at the long-haired man, Vernon never saw the strange man reach over, but he immediately felt the pain in his elbow as Draco expertly applied pressure. “Hey, what are you…!”

“Don’t cause a scene.” Draco purred. “I have something you want to see and you want it kept secret.”

“And what’s that!” Vernon bellowed, suspicion was growing behind his hating eyes.

“A certain nephew captured and ready for disposal. We thought you would like the honor of taking his life and we don’t want the mess.” Draco answered, all the while guiding him toward an alley.

Vernon’s face lit up with understanding and delight. “Of course,” he murmured quietly. “Lead the way.”

Draco got them into the shadows of the alley and apperated them both. He was prepared to deal with Vernon. He had made sure he had the perfect punishment ready before he started looking for Privet Drive. They arrived in a small room. The walls were wood and the ground was stone. A cellar of some kind. It was very cold. Men and woman were there. They were dressed in robes of the purest white. All the hoods were pulled up. Draco smiled widely and allowed Vernon to fall, retching, to the floor. Muggles never did react well to apperation.

“Greetings and welcome, young Lord.” A woman stepped in front of the crowd of seven. “You left us an interesting message and I’ve brought three Masters of the Art and their favored apprentices.”

“I promised you a subject worthy of your Art. I swore it on my honor as a Lord, as a Malfoy, as a wizard.” Draco bowed deeply. “I only ask in return you allow me to watch until I am ready to depart.”

“First, let us be the judge of the perfection of this subject. He is unimpressive.” The woman’s voice was thick with disbelief.

“You’re sect is an ancient and unspoken one. You worship Christ and are sworn to help His cause.”

“We know who and what we are.” A man from the back spoke. “We take the souls who commit conscious evils willingly and for pleasure and we inflict onto them pain that will rival that which they will feel in Hell, in hopes that we can begin the cleansing process and lessen God’s work. This man is wretched, indeed, but it is more than wretchedness that will make a person vile enough for our merciful Art.”

“Oh, he is evil. I assure you of that.” Draco stared down on the man that would shatter Harry with terror if he ever laid eyes on him again. “He was given into his care a very special magical child. A child with the purest soul. Harry James Potter.”

The men and woman gasped. Draco knew they revered Harry. They believed he was a gift to humanity from God. A saint. That was why he could survive the Killing Curse. There was no inherent evil within Harry to allow the spell access to his soul, separating it permanently from his body. Instead, it bounced off of him and stuck the Dark Lord were it found an ample doorway. Draco sighed in satisfaction. These people would truly see that Vernon Dursley paid entirely for what he had done.

“He hated the child immediately because he was different. To him, different equals evil. He put him in a cupboard under the stairs as his bedroom, locking him in as punishment often and withholding food and water. Starved and told he was a Freak and worthless, Harry still tried to please him. He did chores frantically, but they were impossible for his small body. He never got it right and he wept that he couldn’t do as this man wanted, this man who was suppose to be his second father. Vernon tried to hit him. His magic interfered. So he hurt him as much as he could with disappointment, hatred, and verbal degradation.

“Harry still protected this man. He never told what was happening, partly because he believed that he was worthless just as Vernon told him. And partly because he still saw him as family, and he could never hurt his family willingly no matter what they did to him. Unfortunately, though Vernon couldn’t break Harry’s spirit, the world could. Voldemort attacked him and kept at him. Good people and friends died standing between this evil man and Harry, and Harry took the guilt onto himself. He felt he needed to be punished for allowing good people to die.

“This summer, this man struck him and Harry’s magic didn’t protect him. Gleeful, Vernon began to physically abuse Harry. He slowly thought of more creative ways to make him bleed and cry and scream. He held back at first, afraid to be caught and punished. But when he realized no one was watching and no one was coming, he gave into his desires completely. He reveled in hurting Harry, but he wanted more. He planned it well and found a way to counteract Harry’s magic in case Harry finally had enough and stopped him. He drugged his food and a battered Harry innocently ate.

“I do not know what it was, but it paralyzed his body, leaving him sensation. It blocked his magic, but left his mind clear and aware. Vernon came and he gleefully Desecrated Harry Potter. Or shall I be blunt and use muggle words. Vernon Dursley raped him. Even now he can’t understand why his wife and son repudiated him and kicked him out. Even now he wants to find Harry and hurt him. Tell me. Is this evil enough for you? To take the most innocent of children, a one year old, and start abusing him. To starve a three year old. To make a seven year old believe he is a worthless Freak. To take a grieving fifteen year old, weeping for the unjustly dead, and Desecrate them. Tell me this man is not evil enough to begin purification by your Holy Art.”

There was silence. The woman in the front, though Draco couldn’t see her face, was visibly trembling. It was the man who spoke and his voice was quiet, but beneath it Draco could hear rage howling. “Yes. He is evil enough.”

“What… what the bloody… hell is going on…” Vernon was sitting up, still looking very sick and disorientated.

“Hell is right, son of Adam. You will go through Hell and be returned to your weeping Father. Have no more fear for your immortal soul. It is in good, capable hands.” The woman intoned and the others surged forward.

Draco backed away and smiled. He closed his eyes and leaned against the cellar wall as he listened to the delicate introduction to the Art of Torture these Masters were giving Vernon Dursley. They could make their subjects last years with their sanity intact. They usually had them begging for the pain by then. Draco smiled as outraged screams and threats turned slowly to fear to terror to agony. He listened and he heard Harry’s whimpers and screams in his memory, and he knew Vernon hadn’t suffered nearly enough yet. But he would. Draco felt completely confident in that. Content, he apperated back to Surrey. He wasn’t done yet.

Narcissa sat with Petunia in the kitchen. Dudley was upstairs in bed, unconscious from the strain. Greg was sitting with him, monitoring his heart for fear of a heart attack. Vince and Pansy were sitting with Narcissa, not sure why they were here or who this Muggle woman was. All they knew was she had been cursed and she looked utterly beaten and horrified by whatever the curse was doing to her.

“I must insist you describe what the fit was like.” Narcissa coaxed. “I can not begin to try and reverse what was done if I do not know the symptoms.”

“At least tell us who cursed you.” Pansy spoke up. She knew Narcissa thought it was Draco, but why would he come and torture Muggles? What purpose did it serve?

“No.” Petunia moaned. “I can’t tell you. Help my son and go.”

“He’s unconscious. He can’t tell us what’s wrong.” Narcissa was impatient. “Tell me or he could die.”

Petunia burst into tears, muttering over and over, “What have I done?”

Pansy and Vince shared a long look. “Maybe we should have tea?” The girl offered. They could slip a calming potion into it. Greg always carried around enough shrunken potions they could practically fill a cabinet.

“Yes.” Narcissa relented.

Vincent putted around the kitchen, but had no idea how to make tea in a Muggle home. Pansy didn’t bother trying to help. She knew she’d only make it worse. Fifteen minutes went by and Petunia was only now starting to calm. Greg returned then and the woman looked up at him pleadingly.

“Tell me my son is alright.”

“He is fine. He’s sleeping.” Greg reassured her. “Can you tell me what caused this?”

Petunia shuddered. “Memories. They are memories. They wash over you and you think you’re really there, that it’s really happening, but you can’t move to stop it. You can only watch and sometimes you can even feel what… oh, god.” Petunia buried her face in her hands and began to weep again.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that.” Vincent fretted.

“I have.” Narcissa rose and faced a wall. Carefully she enunciated the spell that would activate the residues absorbed by the house and make memories re-play in the caster’s mind. Nothing. The walls were blank as if the house were newly built.

“But…” Pansy spluttered. It was unheard of. Transferring the impressions from a building or object into a person’s mind, and to go further and make those memories rise up and attack the mind like that…

“With enough will and ingenuity, magic can do anything. Just don’t expect to duplicate the effect.” Narcissa murmured thoughtfully. “It will be impossible to recreate the intensity and need to do it again. That’s why we use everyday spells. They always work and are predictable, but magic is inherently power and the force of your will on reality. Harry has wish-magic all the time now because of the amount of power he can channel and has access to. This is just more of the same.”

“Why would Draco do this?” Vincent shook his head.

“Because they deserve it.”

They all spun to face the kitchen door. Draco stood there. His face was impassive, but his eyes revealed anger. He was not happy to see them. Pansy opened her mouth to say something, but Greg grabbed her arm warningly. For once, she heeded him and held her silence. No one moved. Petunia began to cry harder. Eventually Narcissa broke and moved toward her son.

“Draco. You’ve done what you came to do. Let’s go back.”

“I have only begun, Mother.” Draco answered. He tilted his head just so and Narcissa froze. She knew that stance. He was preparing to attack her. Vince must have recognized it, too. He spoke and tried to split Draco’s attention between them.

“Why did you do it? Who are they?”

“They are…” Draco’s eyes slid to land on Petunia. Even hysterical she felt that gaze and looked up to meet it. Draco smiled his gentle smile. “Monsters.” Petunia flinched and crumpled a little more.

“What did they do?” Pansy whispered, morbidly curious. What in the world could get Draco acting like this? She had heard of the Malfoy’s cold fury. It was described as frozen rain, slowly falling, slowly biting into the skin, tearing it away until bones were all that were left. It fueled ghost stories when she was little, but she was beginning to see the truth and she was growing afraid.

“They abused an innocent child. They made him believe he was unnatural and ugly. They made him slave in the kitchen, slave to keep the house clean, slave to repair things he had no idea how to fix, slave in the garden to make it beautiful for them. They starved him. They beat him. They neglected him and never once showed that child love… They did worse than all that and more.” Draco was practically purring. His eyes were wide and unblinking as they stared predatorily down at the broken woman. “She is not suffering by my hand or by spell. She is suffering at her own hands. She sees clearly what she has done. I’ve only given her truth. And a little of what her victim felt at her hands. The same with her son.”

The room was silent. They Slytherins stared at the woman in fascinated horror. Narcissa watched her son and realized she made a huge mistake to ever believe Draco’s feelings for Harry Potter had lessened. They had grown greater with the absence of the bond and the return of all he was. He was revenging his only love. He would not rest until he was done. Draco wouldn’t be able to even breathe without pain until he felt the ones who had hurt Harry so were aptly punished. Unlike the others, she was very familiar to a Malfoy’s fury. Blacks were famous for their tempers and their insanity, but they had nothing on a Malfoy once descended into true rage.

“What more do you plan to do here, son?” she asked neutrally. She knew she would be removed if she made even the slightest hint that she would interfere. She only hoped the Slytherins would stand true to their House and catch on. She’d hate to see them hurt.

“They are suffering. But I need more. I need them to sink to the level of pure despair that they made that innocent boy sink to. Then… Then they will have to give something back. As a token of repentance to reimburse Harry, even just a little bit.”

Pansy gasped. Greg’s hands clenched into fists and Vince hissed through his teeth. This was about Potter. This was Potter’s family. It finally hit them and they realized the truth of this little house, the horrors that must have been stored there and now were inside Petunia and Dudley’s minds. They now understood Draco’s anger. And they feared. Feared Draco and what he may do.

“And how do you plan to do that?” Narcissa asked.

Draco gazed at Petunia thoughtfully. “Where is Dudley?”

“Upstairs sleeping. He suffered heart strain and was unconscious when we arrived. Petunia was weeping in a corner,” she answered him.

“How many attacks have they had since I’ve been gone?”

“One.” Petunia whispered. “It was only one. You mean it will happen again?”

“Oh yes.” Draco smiled. “It will happen again and again. Randomly. You’ll never know before it starts.” She burst into tears, begging him to relent. Promising that she was sorry and she would give anything for him to remove the spell. Draco was unmoved. He weighed her distress with his eyes and seemed to come to a conclusion. “No. I will not remove it. If this is how you are after one attack, this will be good enough for now. I will be back and then we will talk of your penance to Harry. This is just getting even. Remember that. You still owe him something.”

Petunia was weeping too hard to answer.

“And if Dudley heart gives?” Narcissa asked coldly. “He can not suffer if he is dead.”

“Oh, I’m sure some would believe he would indeed suffer once he is dead.” Draco answered cryptically. “But no… No, no, no, I can’t have him dieing before he gives Harry something. It was heart strain you said? It’s because he’s so… how do I say it… Fat. Yes. Fat. He’s so fat and weak. But that is easily fixed.”

“That’s impossible.” Greg breathed. There were potions and spells to make you lose weight, but it took time and exercise. Draco was hinting at something completely different.

“Nothing is impossible if you want it just badly enough.” Draco smiled the cold gentle smile. “And oh how I want it.”

He turned and stalked up the stairs. He moved slowly, hypnotically. Like a hunting cat stalking its prey, careful not to move too quickly or abruptly and startle it. Pansy shivered and clutched at Vince’s arm. Vince was pale and so was Greg, but they still moved to follow Draco and witness what he was about to do. Narcissa held them back. They stood group together and felt magic rise like the tide and howl above their heads. It was powerful and wild, barely contained or directed since no incantation or strict wand movements were used. Only Draco’s blade-sharp will was there to guide it. It proved strong enough and the spell ended without breaking completely free and killing them all and destroying this Muggle block with them.

“Mum! Mum! Look! Look at me! I feel… Mum! I feel Great!” Dudley came pelting into the room.

The wizards and witches unnoticed by the ecstatic teen stared in pure awe. Dudley no longer looked like his father. He looked, in fact, a bit like Lily. He had soft golden hair and shapely eyebrows on a strong face that possessed a pointed chin and large eyes. His were blue, but they still had the same shape as Harry’s. His build was strong, like a tall swimmer. His hands, Merlin, they were small! The fingers short, the wrists delicate almost. Like Petunia. Dudley definitely took more after his mother than his father.

Petunia was staring at him with joy in her face. “Dudley? My baby?”

“It’s me, Mum!” Dudley embraced her laughing. “Can you believe it? I… Magic still makes me… Well, it’s…” He coughed uncomfortably. “But look what it did to me! I think… I think I don’t hate it so much anymore.”

“Oh, Dudders…” Petunia held him and wept at her son’s innocence.

“Your mother knows better.” Draco tisked from the door. He was smiling playfully. “You won’t be thankful for long, little Dudley. Magic made you better. But it will keep making you better on the inside and out, and unlike the physical remedy, the spiritual one will be quite painful.”

“Please,” Petunia moaned. “Please, don’t. He didn’t know any better. He was taught hate from his father and his mother. He didn’t know he was doing wrong. I’m fixing that now. Allow me to fix it. Don’t show him… Don’t make him see what I have to see.”

“Petunia, dear, he knew he was causing pain. He knew pain is undesirable in himself. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that pain is bad and giving others pain is therefore bad. In any case, he will soon know what he did was wrong. This isn’t a lesson you should spare to teach him.” Draco lectured.

“What are you talking about?” Dudley wanted to know. “And who are they?”

“No one, Dudley.” Draco even pet his head. “No one. You have much to talk about with your mother. She will explain the sickness you have caught. I will be back later to check up on you.”

“I’m sick?” Dudley panicked and looked to his mother.

Draco grinned as Petunia broke down in tears over her pitiful, oblivious son. He collected the others with his eyes and lead them away. No one spoke. Draco hardly acknowledged them. He was feeling too satisfied to really noticed them, happily reviewing his work. He hardly even noticed when they all apperated back to Hogsmeade and began the walk back to school. He never heard that he was humming.

“We… We have a DA meeting to go to.” Pansy said faintly as they reached the castle doors. “Will he… be there?”

“I don’t believe Draco will make it.” Narcissa answered tiredly.

“We’ll make excuses for him.” Greg answered and the three Slytherins went toward the Room of Requirement. Draco and Narcissa went toward the infirmary instead.

“I want to see him alone.” Draco spoke up and Narcissa’s heart almost stopped beating in fright at the ice still in his tone. Silver eyes turned to meet her blue ones. “Go, Mother. Leave me with him.”

“He’s not there. He’s in the dungeons.” She flushed. She had been preoccupied and didn’t even think to tell him.

Draco snarled. “Go and tend the DA.” Magic cackled about him and his hair flared up like wings behind him. Narcissa turned and walked hurriedly away.

Harry lay in their bedroom. The second bed had been replaced and he lay tucked lovingly into the covers. Severus hadn’t wanted to leave his bedside, but Remus had managed to maneuver him from the room. Draco stepped forward and released a long, low sigh. Returning was like coming home, coming back to himself. The rage and vengeance fueling him faded and all he felt was tender care for the young man that lay in the bed.

“Harry.” He whispered the name, caressed it. “Harry, love, I’m back.” The tension in Harry’s sleeping face eased a bit and Draco laughed softly. “Yes, I am here. I will always return to you.” Draco sat in the chair and took up Harry’s hand. “You know, now that I remember wholly who I was, and now that I don’t have your powerful emotions overshadowing my own, I realize that I love you more now than ever. I can appreciate you better. You’re such a little lion.” He laughed again and brushed his free hand through Harry’s hair. “Standing up to me like you did all those years when I must have reminded you terribly of your terrifying cousin. Standing up to everyone. Maybe those fanatics are right and you are a saint. I don’t know how else to explain you. You’re so damn Slytherin, too. To have hid your pain for so long. To have endured so long without telling your secrets. You have to stop that, you know. I won’t allow you to hide your wounds from me.”

Draco’s hand tightened around Harry’s and his wistful mood shifted abruptly to grief. He sat rigid, breathing fast. Draco didn’t try to stem the panic attack. He couldn’t demand Harry to show him his hurts and keep his own hidden in return. So he let it come and he rode it out. When he could breath easily again, he realized he was crying.

“Beloved, you must come back to me. You can’t hide from what happened. For me, you must face it and put it in its place and return to reality. You can’t leave me alone because I can’t live in a world that could hurt you as it did and let you die as well. Merlin, listen to me. Do you hear what you’ve done to the great Draco Malfoy? I’m practically spouting poetry here!”

He sighed and draped his upper body over Harry’s. “Take your time, love. I don’t care as long as you beat them. I’ll wait for a while. I’m sure I’ll let you know when I begin to grow impatient.” He chuckled. “Oh, do hurry back. I can’t wait for you to learn how your family is paying for what they’ve done. I’m well aware you don’t want them to be hurt, but even you can’t get made at what I did to your dreadful aunt and cousin. They are basically punishing themselves. You can’t object to that. And as for your uncle… well… I can’t really guess how you would feel about what I’ve given him to. You’d probably disapprove just on general principle, but I’m going to have to insist on this one. He’s a right evil prick and getting what he deserves. In this relationship, you’re just going to have to humor me sometimes and this is one of those times.

“I do promise I won’t neglect our duties, though.” Draco sighed and sat up a bit. He put his mouth right above his love’s and carefully inhaled when Harry exhaled, breathing out when Harry breathed in. “I love you, Harry Potter. I vowed never to say that to any other human being. But I’m saying it to you. I love you. So you better come back soon, Baby, or I might get very annoyed with you.”

Draco gently kissed his lips. A small part of him worried that Harry wouldn’t survive, but mostly he remembered Harry’s strength and didn’t doubt his return. He kissed him again, lingering a bit. He couldn’t help it. Even with him unconscious, it felt so good to be with Harry. Finally, Draco tore himself away with another sigh. He carelessly braided his hair and flung it over his shoulder.

“I’m no good at that,” he complained. “I’m going to look a mess until you go back to doing it for me.” Draco eyed him. “You better not be smirking.” He smiled with warm affection. “Kick those bastards once for me.” And Draco turned and left the room. He had a DA meeting to crash. He wouldn’t let Harry down.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Harry had been running for hours, was running. He ran through darkness. He couldn’t see anything, but he could feel his legs pumping and his feet slapping the ground. Great big things were snapping at his heels, hungry jaws gaping and ready to tear him to shreds if he slowed or fell. He didn’t know where he was or what was going on, but he knew the monsters were there. They were things of pain. He was frantic to escape, but was completely lost. This endless race was wearing him thin. He was close to the breaking point.

Suddenly a ribbon of light appeared in the dark. A thin beam of sunlight rippled through the darkness, creating a straight line about waist high. Harry almost cried, his relief was so great. Gently, emotions coated him like snow. He could feel love, expectation, a deep anger, and fear, but the love was strongest and directed right at him. Someone was calling him. Someone was waiting for him. Love and acceptance waited for him, but the monsters would pounce if he stopped to take that invitation. He’d have to beat them first.

Lowering his chin and balling up his fists, Harry stopped. He stood still and reached out with his will. He would face the blood thirsty monsters, but on his own terms. He wrapped the light around him in a circle, a small sanctuary. He’d be able to come back within its safety if the monsters became too much. Crying, he was literally shaking with fear. He huddled in his circle of light and love and listened to the hungry howls and the clicks of sharp claws as the monsters circled and waited. Gathering his courage and the knowledge that someone loved him close, Harry bunched his muscles and leapt out of the circle and into the jaws of the monsters.

He fought them. He faced what the monster held and accepted the painful memories they tore at him with. He fought until he was beaten down and teetered on the brink of insanity. Then he’d crawl, shaking and weak, into the circle to regroup and rebuild his strength. When he could stand without wavering, he would step out and face the demons within him once again. He wrestled with the fears and weaknesses that haunted him, and they lost some of their power as he examined them unflinchingly. He wept, screamed, raged at all of it, but it was no longer locked away and avoided.

Over and over he did this. He accepted the love of his new family: Severus, Remus, and Draco. He accepted that he deserved it. He acknowledged that the Dursleys were incapable of loving him no matter what he did. He accepted the guilt of the deaths of Cedric and Sirius. He realized he had to move on and learn so he could save others who might also die, but who were still alive. Finally, he accepted every blow he had invited last summer in his depression. He realized that he didn’t deserve the pain, but he could survive it. He accepted that he had weaknesses just like everyone else and saw how low he was capable of falling. Then the worst came.

Harry thought he was getting a handle on this. He was sitting, panting in the circle, recovering from his last battle. Wounds on his body slowly healed and he found peace after all the pain facing the horrible memories caused him. He ran his hand over the light and shivered as love washed down through him. For you, it told him. Always for you. I am here.

Harry cried tiredly, but he was ready. He was tired of this place. He felt so tired, but he felt strong. He wanted to return to a world made of light. To the world that had Draco and his father and Moony. He wanted to go home. He sighed and stood up. There was one last monster and he was finished.

The monster was huge. Bigger than all the rest. Harry stepped out and faced it bravely; wavering on his feet, but standing strong. And it hit him. It punched him and pounded him with the truth. He saw the poisoned dinner, felt his helplessness. He found a new depth to terror as his uncle stripped him… Harry staggered back into the circle, unable to see anymore. He gasped and shook and huddled in the center. Rocking himself as he wept, he realized what would come. He knew what was coming with a bone deep horror. Severus had told him, but he hadn’t known.

He was about to be raped. Harry gasped, curling up tighter. And he had to let himself relive the raped or he couldn’t live again. He couldn’t return to Draco and his family without destroying that monster lurking in the darkness. He’d be here, trapped in this darkness forever until he faced it.

“I can’t do it,” Harry choked. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I can’t.”

Silence answered him. The ring of light remained steady, protecting him. Harry shut his eyes. He didn’t want to see it. He couldn’t bear to look at what he was giving up.

“No. Don’t make me. I’m sorry, I can’t. I can’t do it,” he begged of the light.

Flashes of Draco. Smiling. Fighting. Standing strong and confident. Smirking, sneering. Long soft hair like silk, falling through his fingers, falling around them like wings. Silver eyes burning with love and lust and joy. Kissing, touching. Harry could feel Draco there, pressed against him. He could taste Draco’s taste, smell him. And Harry loved him. More than anything, Harry loved that bright and beautiful Slytherin. Harry clenched his hands into fists and punched the ground as hard as he could.

“Why! Why can’t you just leave me alone! Where were you? Huh? Where were you when I needed you?” he screamed at the light, dared it to answer or make excuses. “Where are you now? Tell me that, Draco! Where Are You Now!”

There was no answer and Harry felt a well of bitter triumph open in his heart. Draco wasn’t here. In the end, he was alone. The love was worthless really. It never did anything for him.

“No,” he whispered, shaking his head. “That’s not true. It isn’t worthless. And it has done something for me.”

Harry looked up tearfully at the circle of Draco’s love. It was here with him. He wasn’t alone. Draco’s heart was still here. He could feel everything that was Draco; he just chose to focus on the love. He could feel Draco’s frustration. He could feel his fear and worry. He could feel his amusement and pride. It all wavered, ever-changing as Draco lived and waited for him.

Harry wondered what was happening that was making Draco feel that way. Was he training with the DA? Having dinner with Dad and Moony and Narcissa? Was Pansy giving him problems again? Harry bit his lip. The only way he’d find out was if… He shuddered. He couldn’t. He really couldn’t.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, beating himself up for his cowardice, but unable to move. He alternately closed his eyes to the light connecting him to Draco and bathed in it. He tried to sleep, but it was impossible here. Wherever here was. Maybe he was already sleeping. He didn’t feel rested, but he didn’t feel like he was tiring either. He just huddled with his fear and disappointment and regret and longing. He resigned himself to this place for forever, but then… Something changed.

Harry’s head snapped up and his voice cut off. He often talked to himself now. Just to hear a voice, any voice, to mute the loneliness. He snarled and forced himself more aware. He had to focus. The light was brighter. He reached and brushed his fingers across it, and gasped. Pain and adrenaline and determination, triumph and fear. Draco was… he was… fighting. And he had taken injury.

“He’s just training.” Harry tried to convince himself. He shook his head hard. “No. I know he’s not. I know it. This feels different. This is the battle. Voldemort has finally made his move, and Draco is fighting him. The DA is too probably. Even though they know they won’t win. Only I can kill him. It’s in the prophecy.”

The love was still there. Even now, there was love for Harry in Draco. It was pushed to the background, but it was still there. Harry bit his lip so hard it bled. The monster, his rape, was still waiting. Draco was still waiting. Both were waiting for him. He had to be the one to move. He had to take the next step. He couldn’t hide forever. Not unless he was willing to let his light go out. To let Draco die fighting the battle meant for Harry. Could he let all that he loved fall because he couldn’t stand up to what Vernon Dursley, of all people, had done. His uncle was an ugly man. A Muggle who didn’t deserve an hour of Harry’s time, let alone Draco’s life.

“I’ll do it.” Harry stood. He was shaking, but he was on his feet. He flashed his teeth and it wasn’t even close to a smile. “I won’t let this kill me or Draco. Do you hear me, Vernon! I won’t let you kill me!”

Harry leapt out of the circle and into his worst memory, into Hell.

The night was painfully clear. No clouds and a bitingly cold half-moon made the snow practically glow. The shadows cast by the Forbidden Forest were so dark you could fall into them. Footsteps crunched loudly and they would have sunk up to their knees if it weren’t for the snow-shoe spell. Nothing could quite mask the sound they made as they streaked across the ground, however. But that meant that the enemy would be equally hindered.

The sun had set two hours ago and with it came the attack against Hogwarts’ wards. They would buckle soon and Draco had finished securing Goldstein’s team in the school and Higgs’ team on the pitch. Now he was racing to the forest and Hooper’s team to meet the first Death Eater wave. He gracefully dodged traps and hiding Aurors. He literally heard the wards fall as a high pitch alarm tore through the air. Suddenly, the world seemed too big and every shadow more sinister.

… “Excrucio dolor morsus!” …

Crackling spells stung the air and exploded against trees, leaving scorch marks or felling it with snap. Aurors were moving silently among the Death Eaters. And the dark-robed killers fell one after another. But there were hundreds of them and when one fell, two rose snarling in their wake. The noise was horrendous and Draco laughed, remembering he had been concerned about the snow giving them away as they moved.

Draco dove to the side and spat out a curse. The Death Eater fell with a shriek of agony as both legs snapped at the knee. The blonde bared his teeth viciously and set another on fire. His third spell was bounced off a shield and struck the ground, making the snow explode around them.

… “Contego!” …

Someone slammed into him from behind and Draco felt a blade scrape along his ribs. Howling in rage and pain, he flipped them and turned the knife against the Death Eater, plunging it into her chest. The woman arched with a silent scream as she convulsed. Draco sprang up and away, clutching his side as waves of pain wracked through him.

“Must’ve been spelled,” he mumbled. He ignored the pain as best he could and stalked stiffly through the wounds, aiming at any black figure moving. A cutting hex sliced through an enemy’s shielding and Draco watched as blood sprayed the air as the man’s left arm fell from his shoulder. The smell was hot and coppery and dark. Was it his imagination or did the shadows converge on the blood as if feeding?

… “Exuro igneus dolens!” …

“Draco!” Neville’s voice called to him, invoking him desperately. He spun and ran. The Weasley girl was unconscious, her face pale and half her scalp gone revealing a bloody skull. Longbottom looked up at him with sheer panic and horror as he knelt helplessly at his love’s side, his hands bloody and moaning in the back of his throat.

Draco stuck him and the Gryffindor blinked at him stupidly. “Carry her to the Infirmary! You have the weightless blanket, don’t you?”

“Y-y-yes-s-s.” The poor teen stuttered.

… “Repello extundo!” …

“Go!” Draco slapped him again and Longbottom scrambled through his pack. He pulled out the blanket and wrapped Weasley in it before taking off for the school. Draco covered his back, but as soon as he left the forest he turned and went back to the fight.

Draco felt strangely numb and painfully aware. Every sense was razor sharp, his mind racing with painful clarity as he planned and judged each spell and move. But the horror wasn’t touching him. Flesh was merely meat, blood a pretty liquid. His friends weren’t friends. They were allies and comrades. There was no emotional attachment, only cold calculations.

... “Adflicto affligo!” …

Three Death Eaters leapt out at him and they danced. One was snapped up in a trap, swallowed by the tree. He’d be held there until Aurors came to release him. The other two closed in. Draco snarled and fought, but couldn’t dodge fast enough. It was a spell wasn’t holding a shield against and fire engulfed his left leg. The Death Eater who hit him collapsed as their lungs inverted. Pain blinded him as his flesh burned and muscle constricted. He toppled over and, even through the pain, he was aware that the last Death Eater would now kill him.

… “Forca comprehendo!” …

Then the pain began to recede and he stared, panting and sobbing, at Michael Corner. The Ravenclaw knelt and poured potions in his throat and the pain became merely searing. Draco fought his hitching breaths even and his tears to stop. He was suddenly very glad Harry was still in his dreaming coma. It had been nineteen days since the de-aging spell ended and Harry had fallen into a coma. Draco and the DA had trained hard in that time, but they were still being overrun.

“Can you fight? Or should I get you to the Infirmary?” Corner asked, hoarsely. Draco noticed that he had thick bandages wrapped around his neck.

… “Sanitas resarcio!” …

“I can fight.” Draco pulled himself to his feet. He couldn’t feel his leg, except that it hurt. He would just have to trust his body to make it move for him.

… “Eradico manus manus!” …

He limped toward the nearest cluster of shouts and flashing spells. Vince and Finch-Fletchley were fighting back to back. Draco shouted blinding curses at their circling enemies and the battle shifted. Draco stumbled as he stepped on something and went down. The Death Eaters howled and leapt forward.

… “Pessum ire oculus!” …

Auror Taylor stared back at him with her blue eyes missing. He had tripped on her corpse. He reached for her chest and pulled out three potions. He shattered them in his hands, the glass cutting into him. A toxic cloud boiled up and around them. He held his breath and closed his eyes. The Death Eaters screamed. He felt one go down not three inches away from him.

Hands grabbed him, the fingers pressing in a code. They were allies and he worked with them. Vince shouted something. They were standing together away from the pile of bodies, sheltered momentarily from the battle. The Hufflepuff was nowhere to be seen. Draco shook his head, he couldn’t hear his friend. He couldn’t hear anything! Vince was right in his face now, lips moving.

“Alright!” Draco yelled, understanding. The Aurors had called a retreat; they were falling back to the Quidditch Pitch.

The two Slytherins taunted the Death Eaters, walking them into traps and guiding them to the next set of defenses. At the forest edge, they dropped to their stomachs and four Aurors sprang up and shot curses over their heads and felling the ten Death Eaters chasing them. The Aurors fell back, sweeping Draco and Vince with them.

They dropped into the first trench and both submitted to the quick and efficient medical care of the Aurors. Then they were up and fighting again. The Death Eaters fell in the dozens as they tried to cross the pitch. All other ways to the school had been blocked off, but they had dug trenches and were safe as they cast from the sheltering earth.

… “Negotium somnium!” …

Draco’s hearing returned and he wished it hadn’t. The screaming was horrible and annoying. There were those wounded in the trench with him sobbing over wounds. No one could afford to leave the shelter and take them to the school yet. They’d have to wait until they signaled the fireworks to give them cover and they all retreated.

… “Eructo!” …

Suddenly, the Death Eaters fell back and the black crowd shifted. Voldemort stalked through his ranks. He was dressed in blood red robes and his face was as pale as the moon. Hysterical cries sounded through the Auror ranks at his horrific image, but none of them broke and ran for the school. The Monster raised his arms as he walked and Dementors flowed out of the shadows of the forest and, like an evil wave, came crashing against the trenches.

“Expecto Patronum!” they screamed as a chorus and the field was lit up as the silver thoughts of happiness clashed with the evil creatures. There was hissing shrieks as some collapsed under the weight of the Patronus Charm. They cast it again and again.

The Dementors were diminishing, but Death Eaters had used the distraction to slip into their trenches with them. Draco snarled and was again fighting hand-to-hand as a Death Eater literally dropped down on him. The man’s boot scrapped against his leg and he screamed and clawed at the man’s face. He felt something pulpy under his finger give way and the Death Eater shrieked.

… “Inreto ligatio!” …

Draco smiled as hot blood splashed his face. He shoved hard and the Death Eater fell back, blood streaming down his face, one eye missing. He cast a spell and the other exploded. Helpless against the pain, Draco easily bound and left him as he retreated. Fireworks flashed above them and burned the eyes even when they were tightly shut. But he didn’t need to see. He had practiced this many times and raced for the castle.

He heard a scream and stopped. That had been Pansy and Hermione! He turned and ran for the sound. He cracked his eyes open and they watered furiously. But he could make out the outline of a body, the arm being twisted slowly backward and toward the body. A slow bone inverting curse. The Death Eater who cast it was long gone. A second figure was dragging the screaming and writhing figure toward the castle, but was moving funny. He gasped when he realized the second figure was missing their right foot and was screaming as well.

… “Effloresco fragmen!” …

He closed his eyes and raced up to them. He stunned them both and quickly made a sled from their three blankets and dragged them. A spell hit his back and he fell, with a panicked scream as he lost feeling from mid-chest down. The fireworks were dieing and he threw open his eyes. Seven Death Eaters were running at them, wands raised and spitting curses. The girls were hit, with what Draco didn’t know. Then he was convulsing as pain swamped his brain as a spell slipped through his defenses.

Harry’s eyes snapped open. His body shuddered and the walls trembled with him. He was in his bed, in Dudley’s second room, in the dungeons of Hogwarts. Even through the stone he could hear the sounds of his muted screams, bellowed spells. He could taste the magic boiling and lashing through the air, vomit burning his throat and mouth as he was violated. But most importantly he was aware of the naked agony coming through the bond.

“Draco!” Harry yelled half in pain, half enraged. “DRACO!”

He gasped as he felt hands on him, tearing his clothes from his body. Again. But he didn’t stop moving. Not even when he reached the first floor and saw the wounded, crying, and screaming. He couldn’t spare any attention to either horror. Draco needed him and Harry needed him just as badly. The world was spinning around and around and he couldn’t make sense of it. One minute he was in Hogwarts, a battle raging, the next he was in his room at the Dursleys with his uncle touching, raping.

Insanity clawing at him, he made for the only solid ground he could find: Draco.

Voldemort stood on the flayed and destroyed field. Bodies lay like fallen leaves. Some twitched and shuddered, some were sill with death. Draco was held suspended before the Monster between two masked Death Eaters. His legs dangled useless and his wand broken, the pieces left with Pansy and Hermione, both still stunned and wounded. Voldemort’s tongue snaked out. His blood red eyes glowed like sinister embers and his voice was slick and cold like a melting corpse.

“Ssso little lord,” Voldemort smiled and it was the smile of a hyena. “Where isss your Sssavior? Where isss the glory you betrayed me for?” Draco stared at him with pained and defiant bright gray eyes. The Dark Lord threw back his head and laughed. The dieing littering the field shrieked at the sound, like tea pots at a boil. “Ssso defiant ssstill? Ssshall I take your armsss, too, Faithlessssss Dragon?”

The Monster raised his clawed hands and Draco refused to look away. All he felt was guilt and regret. He wanted to protect his love. He wanted to give Harry the time to heal, but had failed. He had fallen. Voldemort would destroy him and then go on to attack his beloved while he lay vulnerable and unconscious. It wasn’t fair! He drew back his head and snarled, tears stinging his eyes.

Voldemort paused, his eyes drifting beyond Draco to stare at Hogwart’s entrance. A silence had come over the battle there and Death Eaters and Aurors alike stood frozen as they stared in rapt wonder. Harry Potter stood naked, burning with bright white flames that left his skin unharmed. His eyes were smoldering, green as the greenest leaf. His hair lashed around his head like angry waves and his mouth hung open like a wound, a humming moan resonating from his lithe chest. A Death Eater let fly a spell, but it burned in the flames, making them flare more brightly for a second. Those green eyes never moved or registered the attack. They bore forward, reached across the grounds, and pinned themselves to the broken blonde.

“And the hero arrivessssss. Tell me, Draco Malfoy.” Voldemort stepped forward and caressed the blonde’s cheek. “From the way he ssstaresss, I sssussspect you matter very much to him. More than any other I have killed in front of him.”

Draco felt hope and panic surge through his chest. Harry? He tried to turn his head to see, not trusting Voldemort, but the Death Eaters wouldn’t allow even that much movement.

“Are you the boy-hero’sss little lover? Are you, Draco, a catamite?” Voldemort’s tongue flicked out and slid along the blonde’s lower lip.

“Do that again,” Draco dared, his eyes burning with hatred and disgust.

Voldemort laughed, but snapped into silence as he became aware of the slight tremors beneath his feet. His eyes returned to Harry and he watched the boy walk robotically forward, the ground gently shaking with every step. He was already a quarter of the way across the field and the power and heat radiating from him made Voldemort’s eyes narrow and a hiss rattle up from his throat. He lashed out and Draco screamed, slamming backward out of the Death Eaters’ grasp and crumbling to the ground with broken ribs. He whined in pain as his vision tunneled in and he blacked out.

Harry froze. His eyes saw nothing other than Draco. His beloved stood in a strange position, his braid battered and singed, but still hanging down and down and down. Moving steadily, Harry got closer and closer to his love, to relief, to sanity, but then pain ripped through his chest and he watched as his Draco fell to the ground in a mangled heap of limbs. Even from so far away he heard the pitiful little tortured whine and it cut him, lashed him deep in the quick of his heart.

The flames began to flicker green as his eyes slowly raised and met burning red. Voldemort’s hand still throbbed with spell residue and Harry began to fill with rage. Emerald green licked down his arms, haloed his head. He lifted into the air, his arms rising out from his sides like wings and his mouth flattened into a snarl.

Voldemort had enough time to panic as Harry shot toward him like a wrathful demon. He gathered all his magic and shoved half down the link he shared with the boy, hoping to slow him, and flung the rest out as an offensive wave. Harry rode it, slid around it, and he was there in the Monster’s face. Voldemort screamed as he reached through the flames to grasp the boy’s clawed hands by the wrist. The fire burned! It burned down to his soul and he howled, his magic lashing out wildly. Earth sprayed up, Death Eaters were flung away, the ground began to shake more violently, and the castle groaned.

“You will not hut Draco! Do you hear me!” Harry shrieked insanely. He arched as green flame exploded from his body, enveloping Voldemort.

The Dark Lord staggered and screamed as his body began to crumble. He thrashed, trying to fling Harry away, but the teen clawed at him, clung to him. The killing fire burned and burned and slowly ate away at him. “I’ll kill him!” the Monster shrieked. “I’ll kill him!”

Harry roared in fury and emerald lightning streaked down and slammed into the Dark Lord. The world exploded.

Chapter Twenty-eight

Severus opened his eyes with a snap. The last thing he remembered was running toward Harry as his son flew forward like a blazing arrow to meet the Dark Lord head on. Remus had been on his left, his hair loose and wild, and his eyes glowing. The werewolf had howled when they watched Draco collapse. Everyone else was standing around, too shocked to move. Everyone had expected a duel, a long drawn out battle. Not that Harry would catch fire and grapple with the Dark Lord before exploding.

He shook his head hard. There was no time for rambling thoughts! He had to focus! He opened his eyes. Didn’t he do that already? He lay where he had fallen. Grass and dirt was pressing into his face. He could hear moans. He could see dark shapes on the dewy… Wait. He could see? He sat up with a gasp. The sun was rising!

He looked around. The Death Eaters were still unconscious, but the Aurors were stirring. His arm… It felt odd. He clumsily pulled up the sleeve and then he was capable of nothing more than sitting there and staring. His arm… Ever since he had turned his back on his duties as a spy he had put his mark literally on ice. It ached always, dull and persistent, as the Dark Lord fumed at his betrayal. But it was always there. Not even the isolated ice spell had numbed the pain.

Merlin, his arm! It was flawless… white skin, smooth and soft, and not even a freckle. The Dark Mark was gone completely. Not even when the Dark Lord had been defeated fifteen years ago when Harry was a baby had it disappeared completely. He tried to lift his arm to see it better. He couldn’t. He tired to wiggle his fingers. Nothing…. Okay. He could deal with that. He would have preferred not to have lost his arm, but he was still glad the Mark was gone.

The Aurors were groaning and beginning to sit up. The Death Eaters still haven’t moved an inch. He suspected that the loss off the Dark Mark would keep them out for a long time. Fortunately for him, he had his on ice and he had a very strong unconscious desire to be aware. Harry! Finally remembering why he so urgently couldn’t lay down, Severus struggled to his feet.

His body felt oddly hung. His limbs felt disconnected from him and every little movement had to be done consciously. Bend that muscle, contract that one. He teetered, but his eyes were already searching the area of the field where Harry and the Dark Lord had come together. He was freezing and cold mist curled and twisted over the dead grass and dark soil. It blanketed the dead, dieing, and unconscious and completely obscured his view of where his son should have fallen. And Draco. Merlin, Draco…

He groaned and took a few steps. He felt like a toddler and snarled with impatience at himself. His feet crunched, but that was normal. It was late December and snow… Snow… Why could he see grass and soil? Where did the snow go? He looked around, bewildered. There it was. To the side of the castle and inside the forest, but every where near him the snow was gone. Not melted, not shoved away, just gone. He shivered, but determined not to think about it now. Later. Later when he had Harry and Draco.

He came up on Hermione and Pansy. His face paled and he hoarsely called for help. He got a noncommittal yell in return and took that as affirmation. He kept moving. His sons. He had to get to his sons. The mist parted and he saw someone moving. He tried to lift his wand, but couldn’t. He could only keep moving forward.

He could see Harry. The man blocked his view of most of him, but Severus could see his head. It lolled to the side, his eyes completely closed and the lids bruised faintly. His hair was limp, as if it were soaking wet. The man turned his face to look over his shoulder and Severus saw it was Remus.

“Severus.” The werewolf lifted Harry into his arms. The teen hung limp, his limbs heavy and still. He didn’t so much as twitch. Remus turned and faced him, “I’m going to take him to the Infirmary.”

“Breathing? Wounds?” Severus couldn’t take his eyes off of his too thin son. He was so small, so fragile…. So very powerful.

“Yes and none that I can see. He smells of pain, though.”

“Remus…” Severus began, but abruptly cut himself off. He knew he was about to faint and he didn’t want to clue his lover in on his weakness. He didn’t want Remus to delay a seco