Chapter Eight: Morning and Other Problems
Harry awoke disoriented at the sunlight streaming into the bedroom window. He didn't recognize the room at first, it being only his second morning in it, and the first to actually wake up there. And how had he gotten there? He didn't remember going to bed. He sat up groggily and put on his glasses. A note was hovering in mid air above the bed.
I will be occupied today. I will expect you tomorrow, 7 AM sharp. Be prepared. Bring the bottled potion for your Family Book. It's in your workroom. We will also begin research on exactly what combination of spells your mother put upon you.
I expect you to at least identify the marks you now bear due to the lineage potion. You are given an additional day on your study proposals of Grindelwald, Flamel and a Gentry. Do not expect such consideration again--it is only convenient to me due to recent circumstances that you are being allowed this. I also want a list of 13 Potions you wish to learn how to make and why.
Harry blinked and read it again. "Git," he muttered. Then he craned his neck and lifted his arm to see the new tattooing better. He rather liked it. Ron was going to have kittens. So was Hermione for that matter. He really didn't even want to imagine Mrs. Weasley's reaction.
Almost as if on cue, a barrage of owls came in the window. Pig and Hermione's new owl, Athena, were among them. Trailing behind and crashing into the bathroom door before falling flat on his back, wings out and looking dead (though, thankfully, visibly panting--so still alive) was the ancient owl the Weasley's owned, Errol.
You didn't have to be quite so rude in your last note. I do understand you are frustrated but it's all for the best.
Harry skimmed over the rest of the letter, barely reading. He should stay safe and he would be told whatever Dumbledore thought was best when it was best. Ever so busy with you know, but can't say more than that, blah blah blah. He must stay put and not do anything rash--including studying, it seemed, because she didn't see any point of him reading any of the list she'd sent and regretted sending it. Had he gotten his owls yet. She had all O's. 14 OWLs--all graded outstanding. She was oh so surprised. She knew she misidentified a rune on her Ancient Runes OWL.
Hey, mate, how's life with the muggles? They treating you alright?
Dumbledore won't say when we can see y' again.
'Mione is planning to maim my brothers. She was hissing worse than Crookshanks after getting hit with a water balloon (don't ask, new thing the twins came up with, self-filling water balloon. Well, some are water balloons; random ones fill up with different potions. Rather scary actually. Mum's ready to skin them both). They got the greasy git last time he was round, it was bloody brilliant! Even better, he didn't get a plain water balloon but a potion filled one. Made his voice all funny for an hour. Hermione said he sounded like Alvin the Chipmunk. I wish you could have seen it! (Who's Alvin the Chipmunk? Hermione just rolled her eyes and said muggle thing, never mind).
Mum's in a right state. Not just about the water balloons. Percy married Penelope Clearwater. We found out about it from the Daily Prophet. And there was another article--Percy delivered some ministry approved speech on how vigilantes would be persecuted to the full extent of the law and sentenced the same as captured Death Eaters. The ministry's putting out a lot of rot. 'If you are attacked by Death Eaters, contact the ministry and report it immediately. Remain calm and go to a secure inner room of your home, take no action of your own.' Bloody hell--are they that stupid?
Might as well go out to the front lawn and throw down your wand and say here I am, curse me now.
What did you write Hermione? Something's bit her in the arse but good lately. She's trying to get a revision schedule for the NEWTs started--thought she was going to hex me to pieces when I reminded her it might be a good idea to actually learn the stuff before we start revising.
Write soon, Ron
Harry untied and unshrunk the note and parcel on Errol's leg, after accio'ing the unconscious ancient owl to where he sat in his bed. The note contained a barrage of motherly rambling from Molly Weasley: admonitions to behave, not to worry everyone was well, some pastries, and how had he done on his OWLs, had he finished his summer homework, beware anything sent by the twins, Bill and Charlie were both going to be spending some time as "visiting professors" at Hogwarts this coming year. Arthur was working ever too much, and she would speak to Dumbledore again about when he would be coming to visit.
The parcel was full to bursting with baked goods. Having raised six sons, Molly was of the opinion every young boy was a starving bottomless pit--and in Harry's case, starving wasn't far off in the summers. He got just enough to stay alive and vaguely healthy and not a scrap more at the Dursleys' since Dudley's diet.
The package from Fred and George he sat aside, to check later. For--well, he wasn't sure what, but he wasn't opening it without warding his rooms, putting a shield up, and at least opening it from a distance with his wand.
His OWLs were in an official envelope from the Ministry. He quickly shooed the Ministry bird out, not liking the bird at all for some reason. He had gotten 10 OWLs, all E's and O's--including a shocking O in Potions--and two Proficients. One was in Astronomy, not surprising considering what happened during that test, and one in Defense, which smacked of Fudge and Umbridge. He knew Defense was far and away his best subject, with Charms a close second.
He set the letter with his OWL results aside; he was proud of the grades. Astronomy couldn't be helped. Defense he simply discounted. The public-post owl he paid and offered water, opening the letter curiously.
I am writing to see how you are doing.
I'm busy with the old crowd as you know, but as of this writing am well.
I'm pressed for time, and so much is not to be put down on paper, so simply know I'm thinking of you and hope to see you soon if possible, or at least an owl?
"Well, that's one potion," Harry murmured, looking at Remus' letter.
The Daily Prophet arrived. Narcissa Malfoy had made the front page. And so had the bloody apprenticeship program, saying that Draco was now in it along with The Boy Who Lived. "Oh, bloody hell," he groaned. Mrs. Weasley was going to have a fit. So was Hermione, finding out about his apprenticeship from the Prophet!
He scrabbled out of bed. "BLOODY HELL!" he shouted, realizing he was still absolutely starkers. Quickly throwing on the first set of clothes he got his hands on, he scribbled a letter addressed to "The Weasley's and Hermione".
Mr. & Mrs. Weasley, Twins, Ron, Gin, Mione.
Yes, I am in the Apprenticeship program, arrived at Hogwarts yesterday morning and this is first second have had to write. I got notice by special delivery between regular post and could not write because of risk of being caught in transit to the school. Please please do not be mad. Bloody damned Prophet. (Er, oops sorry Mrs. Weasley). I swear was going to write you all this morning.
Will write more as soon as possible.
Swamped with research already but will write sometime later today at all costs.
PS thanks ever so much for the pastries delicious as always--had some for breakfast
"PIG!" Harry called, frantically. Pig decided a game of Dodge-Harry was in order, and he spent the next 10 minutes running madly around his room trying to catch the owl, who was even quicker than he was tiny. That was saying a lot, since the annoying ball of feathers was only about the size of a muggle tennis ball. "Take this to Mrs. Weasley IMMEDIATELY!"
Pig hooted and zipped out the window.
"How is he, Poppy?"
"Still under the sleeping charm," Poppy sighed. "Fudge has tried to force his way in here already this morning. Sent him packing to Albus' office. One of the Weasley boys was with him. I feel so sorry for Molly. The eldest two might be a bit of rogues and the twins--well, there simply isn't words. But in my opinion, the so-called respectable one is the true disgrace of the family."
"Rogues," Severus snorted. How a curse-breaker and a dragon-handler equated rogues in Poppy's book really didn't deserve attempting to sort out. While not neat and tidy desk jobs at the Ministry, he was fairly certain 'rogue' wasn't at all apt for their professions either. Though, he did agree with Poppy about the third Weasley son. Percy had always had a driven righteousness that had been nauseating. A drive to further himself, an ambition to prove himself, while admirable traits, were rather disastrous when combined with the know-it-all attitude and inability to reason things out. For him, if a rule or Ministry approved publication said it was so, it was so.
"Well, what would you call that craziness with dragons? And the oldest! That hair and the fang!"
"I'm not arguing traditionalism or muggle-influenced fashion concerning the Weasleys, Poppy, I am concerned about Draco."
"What on earth was that woman thinking doing what she did?"
"She was thinking she could save her son," Severus said, coldly. "The Ministry cannot seize any Malfoy holdings. Lucius was never convicted, no matter what evidence they had there is a signed confession that says it was done under influence of the Imperious cast by Bellatrix LeStrange. Not even Fudge would risk the outcry over that. Bound here, by the Apprentice contract, Draco cannot take the mark--willingly or not--and the doing of that falls completely on Narcissa's head. Desperate people do desperate things."
Poppy harrumphed. "Put him in the catbird seat to come out smelling like a rose, no matter which way the war goes."
Severus' eyes narrowed. "Whatever Lucius and Narcissa may or may not have done or believed--that is a boy still a week shy of sixteen. A CHILD. He's innocent of all but being a spoilt, arrogant, bullying school boy thus far. And with luck it will stay that way! That attitude will do nothing but spur him to replace his father, kissing a Dark Lord's robe hems!" he bit out furiously.
Poppy sighed. "She certainly was a Slytherin," Poppy murmured. "I remember how battered she came back from Hogsmeade weekends after he left school, even when he was still in school, and her only first and second year. Caught Lily Evans and Aisling Morrigan breaking in my stores more than once after Narcissa's dates with Lucius. Time or two, it was so desperate that Lily and Aisling never left Narcissa's side and sent Alice Kendalwood to break in." Poppy chuckled. Stealth had never been Alice's forte, not even after she became an auror. "She wouldn't complain. Nor would her family--"
"Cissa was a Black, Poppy. Her marriage to Lucius was arranged before her first birthday. As far as her parents were concerned, she was Lucius' property to do with what he would. The curses and binding magics put on the betrothal contract insured she COULDN'T do anything, at least not til she'd borne an heir, and even then she could only walk away without a knut, and without the child. She couldn?t consider leaving until Draco was born, and she wouldn't after."
"Beat, rape, and practice Dark Curses on a young girl, from her first year on no less, whenever he could drag her off alone. I doubt he was a whit better in the years since she added Malfoy to her name." Poppy was outraged. "Would that she'd gotten the gumption to kill that bastard years ago. Could throttle her though for the lack of judgment she showed, doing so in front of the child."
Severus blinked at such uncharacteristic vindictiveness in the mediwitch's voice. Poppy, like Minerva, was stern and rather disapproving of any sort of foolishness, but rarely did such venom touch either woman's feelings.
"Can you summon an owl, Poppy? I need parchment and quill--if Fudge is in the school Potter best not be seen. At least until we sort out exactly what was done. The Hellion of Ravenclaw struck from the grave." He quickly explained about the miniscule runic tattoos of the protection spells Lily had placed on her son.
"Oh--oh bloody everlasting HELL!" Poppy gasped out causing Severus' jaw to drop.
"Young man, did you ever know the four of them not to all do the same blasted thing--least when it came to studying and ancient spellworks? Both Narcissa and Alice were likely capable of the protection spells, at least similar enough, what with Narcissa's talent with any sort of rune-spell and Alice's way with curses. Granted, I can't remember Narcissa or Alice being able to cast a glamour to save their lives, but Lily or Aisling would have gladly cast the glamouries. I daresay the five of you could have given the Marauders a run for their money if you hadn't been buried in books all the time. Of course, the school might not be standing if the five of you hadn't stayed in the library till Irma gave you the boot at curfew."
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose and growled out one succinct word, "Fuck," knowing in his bones that it was beyond doubt. If the Glamoris Purgis were to be cast on Narcissa and Alice's sons, runic protection-spell tattoos would be on them as well, similar at the very least, doubtful the same set of spells, but close. Thank Merlin for small mercies that the Ministry couldn't find a way to execute dead women for being suspected sorceresses.
"Mind your language, Severus," Poppy huffed, then ordered. "Quick, get that note writ up, I'll get Hippocrates for you."
Severus gave a mental snort. He'd survived being "adopted" by the quartet of misfits who had called themselves Hellion, Viper, Hex and Ice. (At least when it came to their more questionable activities--having chosen the ridiculous names in direct mockery of the Marauders when those four buffoons had started going about calling one another Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail fifth year.) The four had given the Marauders a run for their money in a way, meting out their twisted brand of pay-back to bullies and anyone they thought deserving of their wrath. The two most often targeted had been Sirius Black and Lucius Malfoy. Unlike the Marauders, no one ever figured out who the four were--save for Poppy and Minerva. He found out a couple years after the first defeat of Voldemort that the two witches had puzzled it together. He was beginning to think Hellion, Hex and Ice's sons would be the death of him long before Voldemort or Dumbledore. One way or another. One was likely to get him killed by protecting the blasted brat. One--well, considering his father--just might try to murder him outright. The third he'd been in fear of being accidentally killed by for years.
POTTER DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOMS! FUDGE IS HERE! WARD YOURSELF IN AND STAY THERE!
Snape sent the note clutched in the talon's of Poppy's crotchety old owl. Hopefully the boy would stay put.
"Severus," Poppy called softly. "He's waking."
Severus went over to sit at Draco's bedside. "Draco, child?"
"It wasn't a dream, was it?" The boy's voice was absolutely hollow and emotionless.
"No, it wasn't."
"I will never forgive her," Draco said coldly, then rolled over, turning his back to Severus.
"She killed my father and sentenced me to rot under the watch of a muggle-loving senile moron."
"Leave me alone." Glaciers were warmer than the deadened tone those words were spoken in.
Severus sighed deeply and reluctantly left, promising to return that evening. He added a few vague threats in a menacing tone to ensure that the boy didn't go attempting to hex Poppy for doing her job, or throw a rampaging fit that destroyed half the hospital wing. "You are a Slytherin and a Malfoy--you'd best have remembered that when I return this evening," was Severus' parting shot. He hoped the years of training in putting on a 'proper' mask would kick in and the boy would not do something stupid. Poppy would not be able to completely handle him on her own if he decided to get violent.
He leaned against the wall in the corridor, once again pinching the bridge of his nose. "Damn you, 'Cissa, we may have lost him all together now." he whispered under his breath. He pulled himself straight and set off toward the dungeons at a determined pace to begin sorting out just what the devil Lily had done.
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