LeadVonE

Dodging Prison & Stealing Witches

Chapter twenty-eight: Divination Dimwits Drugs and Detention

[The Day after Christmas Day 1991 (Boxing Day Morning)]

Curtis Lawless glared at the silent mobile phone on his desk as his number two filled him in on their current, rather low, drug stock levels. The pounding and throbbing of last night's Christmas drunken revelry, which had echoed up through the Manchester nightclub's walls and floors, had slowly given way to the simple pounding and throbbing of a mild hangover, and it was interfering with his ability to be properly annoyed.

"So you're saying," Curtis started in a grumble, continuing to try and will the mobile phone back to life with just the power of his toxin filled mind, "That because we mis…mis… er… got wrong the amount we needed to have — because of Christmas — that we're now going to run out in just a few weeks?"

"Yes, boss," his number two rumbled, standing like a mountain with his hands in front of him, fingering a large gold ring.

"And now we can do nothing but wait for Mister posh-boy Malfoy to call and hope he's got something for us?"

"Yes, Boss."

Curtis groaned. The drug runner who called himself Malfoy had said Curtis wouldn't be able to get a hold of him using this phone — That he'd be the one to call Curtis, but it still pissed him off when he'd tried to call and got the 'this number is unreachable' response.

His number two made a small grunt. "He's not let us down yet."

"No, he hasn't, but I'm not looking forward to when he does. I've no idea who we can get who'll do us as low as he does."

"Prices are coming down all over the place."

"Not as fast as he is." Curtis continued to glare at the inert mobile phone. Malfoy had said a while back that he'd call some time over Christmas or early in the new year. Hopefully the man would keep his word again. He didn't like being so reliant on one person.

A glass of water thumped down on the table in front of him. He took it in his large fist and fumbled a half swallow.

Suddenly, a massive bang from downstairs caused the glass to shatter in his grip.

"POLICE! GET DOWN!"

Curtis slowly put his face in his hands and groaned.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

[January 6th, 1992]

John Potter confidently strode down the Hogwarts Express, shaking hands with boys and smiling at girls as was his duty as the Heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, Leader of the children of the Light, and, if not the actual boy-who-lived, then the chosen of fate and death, at least.

The Winter Festival had gone well. He'd been the centre of attention at the Potter Christmas Party and he'd impressed all and sundry with his 'advanced' wand work and transfiguration skills. His Dad had pulled him aside not long after and given him the same 'How to charm girls and influence people' lessons that he'd received the first time around. This time, however, he'd been far more receptive, understanding exactly why charming girls mattered, beyond just the intellectual understanding of an eleven year old heir to a noble house, that is. Just why his Dad had thought giving him these lessons at age eleven was a good idea, though, was a mystery to him.

But, that didn't matter now. There were quite a few girls he wanted by his side, and one in particular who he needed to, at the very least, negotiate with, if not win back. He patted the bag that hung at his shoulder. And he had just the thing to do it with.

John walked further down the carriage, shook a few more hands, winked at one particularly cute third year girl, getting a shy smile back, opened the door to the next carriage, saw a flash wavy brown hair, widened his eyes when he saw who Hermione was talking to, and ducked into the carriage's first compartment, only to be met by the wide eyes of several second year girls. He gave them an apologetic smile and pressed his ear up against the door.

"—Don't care about that, Heir Malfoy."

"You should, Granger." Malfoy's voice dripped smugness. "You don't always have Greengrass around to protect you."

"You know what happened to the last person who attacked me."

"Yes, Slytherin duelled them, but only because Volf didn't want to go to court for assault."

John tried to mould himself to the door to hear better.

"Do you want to go to court for assault?" Hermione asked.

"Not particularly."

"Well, there you go then."

Draco's voice lowered and John had to shush the girls behind him who had started to giggle. "I bet you think you're pretty hot stuff, Granger — joining the hunt and catching Lovegood, but you are not one of us. You will never be one of us. You are a jumped up mudblood with ideas above her station. Underneath all your training and manners and princess airs, you have nothing. No ancestry, no family magic, no legacy of contribution to the wizarding world. How many spells has the House of Granger discovered? How many artefacts has it invented? How many books has it published? None."

"Not today, perhaps, but one day it will."

John heard a loud laugh.

"Bwahahaha! Oh Granger, you are too much."

The sounds of laughter travelled down the corridor and eventually faded away.

John carefully opened the door, waved at the girls, stepped though, and closed it behind him with an audible snap.

Granger whirled around causing him to raise his hands in surrender.

"Whoa there."

"Oh, it's you," she said as though a cockroach had just scuttled in front of her.

John pushed away the hurt her voice caused and gave her a winning smile. "Malfoy being an arse?"

"Yes. Not that it's any of your business, Heir Potter."

"C'mon, Hermione. What have I ever done to you to get the ice princess treatment?"

"I could not imagine. Maybe you being a presumptuous arse, Heir Potter."

John leaned on the door. "I just want to be friends. You like making friends, don't you?"

"I like making friends with people who don't strut around like the world owes them just for being born."

Ouch. He didn't think he strut around that much, and a certain amount of strutting was required of someone in his position. He smiled and shrugged. "Well, if not friends, why not acquaintances willing to make mutually beneficial trades?"

Hermione's face shifted from icy glare to caution. "What kind of trades?"

John grinned and pulled out a book from his bag. He handed it to Hermione whose eyes widened in shock.

"This is…"

"That," John said, "is a first edition copy of 'Hogwarts a History' — one of only seven in existence."

Hermione's eyes remained fixed on the book and John was sure her pupils had dilated.

He inwardly smirked. Hermione had always had a near pathological book fetish. "Do you like it?"

Hermione looked up. She couldn't have looked more guarded if she were wearing full plate armour. "What's the trade?"

"Just that you accept this as a declaration of intention gift."

"What!" Hermione squeaked.

"A declaration of intention gift. You do know what they are?"

"Of…Of course I know what they are!" Hermione's voice raised in pitch. "But why are you giving me one!"

John smirked, still leaning against the door. "Why wouldn't I? You're cute, and powerful, and the best student in our year."

"I…" she thrust the book back in his arms. "I'd need to talk to my lord."

John frowned catching the book before it fell to the floor. "Hermione, do you need to ask your lord about everything? It's your decision if you accept such a gift, no one else's."

"I need to… to ask his advice." She turned to go.

"Hermione!" John's voice rose. "Why do you defer to this guy so much? Are you afraid of him! Does he hurt you!"

Hermione stiffened and whirled around. "No! He does not hurt me! How could you even suggest such a thing!"

"Then why? What do you even know about him! Have you even seen his face?"

"I…" Hermione froze. Her very being seemed to shift. Tension drained out of her. Anger and embarrassed panic faded away. Slowly and surely, princess Hermione formed again, cool, calm, and collected.

John's stomach dropped.

"I cannot give out my lord's secrets. I'm sorry, Heir Potter."

Damn. So close.

"I will consider your gift and let you know soon." And with that, Hermione turned around again and left the carriage, heading back towards the middle of the train.

John watched her go before heading back to his own compartment, in which waited a girl who definitely hadn't rejected his declaration of intent gift.

Susan smiled somewhat shyly as he entered and played with the citrine and onyx encrusted bracelet around her wrist. "Any luck?"

John shook his head. "She clammed up as soon as I asked."

Susan frowned. "Well, Auntie could only haul her in for veritaserum if Slytherin had actually been convicted of a crime, anyway."

John sat down heavily on the bench opposite the red-haired Bones heiress. "Still, you said she would only do that if Hermione had admitted she knew who Slytherin was."

Susan nodded slowly.

John smiled. "I'm sure I'll have more chances to get her to admit it."

Susan looked down at a small notebook. "What about the polyjuice idea?"

John tapped his knee and looked out of the window. "If we can get a strand of Slytherin's hair, or nail clipping, or something, then yes — pop polyjuice, and instantly find out Slytherin's actual identity, but getting that hair…" he looked back at Susan. "…I don't have a clue."

The two sat in silence for a bit.

Susan was the first to break it. "So, Granger actually refused to say? She didn't just say no?"

"Yeah, she refused to say one way or the other."

"Doesn't that mean that she probably has seen his face?"

John considered this for a moment. "It might," he finally conceded. "Why?"

"I was just thinking that instead of polyjuicing to be Lord Slytherin, we could polyjuice as Hermione and talk to Slytherin while he's around. You never know, he might let something slip."

John chewed his cheek and thought. "Risky, but it might work. Certainly less risky than a love potion."

Susan violently shook her head and half brandished her thirteen inch Hazel and unicorn hair wand. "No love potions, John, that's just wrong."

John grinned and raised his hands. "I know, I know, I'd never do that to Hermione."

"Good."

He lowered his hands and looked out of the window again. Still though, too much was going differently not to dig deeper. Not having Hermione this time round was killing him and she was looking to be doing even better this time around, too. He spotted Susan staring at him in the window's reflection. Mmmmm…. He looked back at Susan again, who blushed under his intense gaze. Maybe…. He took a deep breath. "Say, Susie, how would you like some private duelling lessons?"

Susan's eyes widened. "Private duelling lessons?"

John nodded.

"With you?"

He nodded again.

"Mister rumoured-to-have-taken-out-his-entire-duelling-team?"

"Yes."

Susan broke out into an ear splitting grin. "Sign me up, Heir boy-who-lived."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Daily Prophet Society Pages [6 th  January, 1992]

LORD SLYTHERIN BUYS SCOTTISH ISLAND

Yesterday afternoon, a spokesman for the ministry confirmed that Gairsay Island, the ninety-ninth largest island in the Scottish Orkneys, is now the newest land in Magical Britain, and the largest such land transfer from muggle to magical in over one-hundred years.

The ever masked and mysterious Lord Slytherin has been making moves towards the building of a manor for his newly resurrected house for the last six months and, with this purchase, has sent a clear message to those few who still doubt his seriousness.

In a statement sent to the Prophet, Lord Slytherin said that he, "couldn't be happier with his choice," and that, "establishing the future seat of Slytherin House so close to the Scottish Highlands, and to Hogwarts, was deliberate."

But Hogwarts to the South-West isn't the only well known magical institution close to Slytherin's new land. Azkaban Prison lies to the far North and East off the Shetland Islands, well into the North Sea, and Gairsay Island is now also the closest magical land to the formidable and forbidding fortress.

Floor plans for Slytherin Manor, filed with the ministry during the land transfer process, and marking the future Slytherin Manor as the largest magical manor in the country, include a two story circular ballroom and entertaining space. Whether 200 km between them and hell on earth will be far enough for future guests remains to be seen, but if there's one thing we know about Lord Slytherin, it's to expect the unexpected.

Just two weeks ago, Slytherin appeared for his first ever public social event, the Greengrass Winter Festival, in which he and his betrothed and vassal—Heiress Daphne Greengrass (12) and Miss Hermione Granger (12)— successfully caught Lord James Potter in his stag animagus form and Lady Pandora Lovegood in her flying squirrel animagus form, in a gruelling two hour hunt through the Greengrass Forest (more details on page 14).

Slytherin Manor is scheduled to begin construction in the next few weeks and to be finished in one year—just in time for the 1992 end of year winter festival and associated social highlights—and is slated to be costing 112,000 Galleons (£5.6 million).

BOY WHO LIVED TO FACE SQUIB TWIN IN DUELLING TOURNAMENT

John Potter, the boy who lived and defeater of He Who Must Not Be Named, is apparently taking his heroic past to heart and stepping up as Gryffindor's first year duelling spot — and he's not there just because of his name either, oh no. An informed source told the Prophet that, "John Potter is a duelling prodigy," and that rumours said he'd "defeated several members of his team, even those older than him." Even wilder rumours circulate about our favourite hero, including such unlikely tales as him defeating his entire duelling team, one after the other, all the way up to the seventh years. When asked about the likelihood of such a claim being true, long time duelling expert Mister Samuel Ratherberk (46), smiled and suggested that, "Some people may have been reading too many boy who lived adventure books."

But perhaps what's most interesting about the upcoming Hogwarts Duelling Tournament, is that John Potter will be facing off against his own twin brother, Harry, who recently returned to the wizarding world after growing up with Lady Lilly Potter's muggle relatives. The little known Harry Potter (11) was long considered a squib, but was lucky enough to receive his Hogwarts letter last July and was subsequently sorted into Slytherin House. When asked about such a match up Mister Ratherberk said, "I'm surprised anyone mistaken for a squib could get onto the Slytherin duelling team, considering the usual fierce competition for the slot and the pride the House takes in its team." What does that say about Harry's chances against his more famous brother? This reporter, for one, will be watching with interest.

The Hogwarts Duelling Tournament takes place on Saturday, April 4 th  in the Hogwarts Duelling Arena and is watched by many of the students, faculty, parents, interested members of the public, and scouts from the professional duelling circuit.

Dumbledore lowered and folded the paper and watched his many students file into the great hall for the welcome back feast from where he sat at in the middle of the head table.

So, Slytherin was starting to build his own stronghold only a few hundred kilometres from Hogwarts. That was a situation that would require careful observation. Luckily, he knew a few people who could be counted on for that task. His opinions on Slytherin kept yo-yoing back and forth and he just could not seem to pin down what he thought of the man. Sometimes Slytherin seemed to be just another politician, albeit one who refused to show his face, and other times he seemed to be… something else… something much, much worse — and not knowing which was maddening.

The man tortured those who crossed those he protected, as shown by his treatment of young Volf. He happily used those who were most vulnerable, as shown by his vassaling the Grangers and his buying and enforcing the horribly immoral debt of a muggleborn prostitute. And he was happy to ruthlessly manipulate events for his own benefit, as shown by his (and it was almost certainly his) strangling of the entire British market of a specific medicinal herb, fresh mandrake, just to keep Severus out of commission for whatever unknown machination he was playing. Albus had gone so far as to send an agent of his own out to track down an independent supplier of the herb and smuggle some into the country. Hopefully that would arrive soon.

However, the most troublesome thing Slytherin had done was ban the Hogwarts house elves from spying on students — a masterfully played move, making use of all three top families of the Dark, Gray, and Light, managing, however briefly, to unite them all against him.

Right now, Dumbledore needed information on a certain Harry Potter, and not having the elves available was annoying. The ghosts refused to spy for him, and the paintings were only of limited usefulness. It was ironic that Slytherin had unknowingly deprived him of his best tool to ensure that Harry Potter did not get any closer to the masked Lord in question.

Dumbledore frowned as the final students filed in and he saw the true boy who lived laughing and chatting right in the middle of the Gray faction at the far end of the Slytherin table. He couldn't allow that to continue. It was far too dangerous. He picked up his goblet and swirled the liquid inside. Maybe it was time for him to take a more hands on approach and see what was going on for himself.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Later that night, after the welcome back feast had finished and the students herded back to their common rooms, Daphne Greengrass, the ice princess of the Gray, sat upright against her four poster bed's headboard with her knees to her chest, hugging the massive fluffy snake Harry had given her at the Winter Festival. The rest of the dormitory had long ago turned in, but she was still fully dressed in her expensive school robes.

"Tempus," she whispered, wand held in her off hand.

10:58

She squeezed the toy snake a little tighter.

"Tempus."

10:58

"Tempus."

10:59

After moving Angelystor with the help of the Black Heiress, Harry had gone back to those muggles of his. Daphne hadn't seen him until the train ride back, and while they had talked on the train and during the feast, it had been the polite back and forth of two political agents, each playing carefully choreographed roles, rather than the relaxed peacefulness she liked to enjoy with her future lord and best male friend.

"Tempus."

10:59

"Tempus."

10:59

"Tempus."

11:00

Daphne's eyes lit up. She quietly untangled herself from her fluffy snake, slipped to the edge of the bed, and drew back the curtains.

Hermione's head poked through the gap between her own curtains and the two exchanged an excited nod, although she thought she also detected a hint of anxiety from her friend.

They tiptoed down to a quiet and empty common room and Daphne gave a little squeak when a hand reached out of nowhere and tugged at her robes. A parting opened in the world and Harry quickly motioned her and Hermione under his invisibility cloak, which they both quickly scuttled under.

Harry held a finger to his lips and motioned them to the common room door, through the castle, across the ground, and up to the whomping willow. Harry cast a quick spell at the tree and it's threatening trembling ceased. He then led them both down into a secret passageway.

Now freed from the cloak, Hermione tapped her on the shoulder, caught her eye, and motioned to ask her if she could move aside so that Hermione, now biting her bottom lip, could get in front of her.

Daphne nodded and moved to let her friend walk just behind Harry.

"Um, Harry?" Hermione sounded hesitant — worried even.

"Yes, Hermione?" Harry continued leading them down the dark corridor.

"This morning, on the train…" She trailed off.

"Yes?"

"… Your brother offered me a declaration of intent gift."

Daphne couldn't stop herself from letting out a small gasp.

"Turn it down." Harry's voice was flat and expressionless and as uncompromising as an iron bar.

Daphne saw Hermione's shoulders visibly relax and her voice, when it next spoke, was more cheerful then she'd heard all day. "Yes, Harry."

They walked in silence for a few more moments.

"Just out of curiosity," Harry started, "what was the gift?"

"A first edition copy of Hogwarts a History."

"Mmmm." Daphne could hear the smile in Harry's voice. "Then I will have make sure your gift is suitably better, won't I?"

"My gift?" Hermione squeaked.

"For your birthday."

"Oh, right." Hermione's voice calmed down again, but Daphne was sure she heard a hint of disappointment laced into the forced nonchalance and relief.

Daphne smirked and shook her head — and Hermione had the temerity to tease her about the fluffy snake.

After several more minutes, Harry stopped them. "We're almost there. Hermione?"

"Yes, Harry?"

"Remember this — The Most Ancient and Noble House of Slytherin's divination classroom is in the top floor of the shrieking shack."

Hermione nodded.

Daphne grinned. She already knew the new fidelius secret from when Harry had set it up just a few weeks ago.

A minute later, they arrived at the shrieking shack's top floor and were met by an incredibly bubbly pregnant ghost.

"Harry! You're here! And you've brought another friend."

Harry smiled and held Hermione's hand as though they were at a formal ball, climbing up the rickety stairs. "Angelystor, may I present Miss Hermione Granger, Vassal of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Slytherin and my personal close, close friend."

Hermione smiled and curtseyed, Angelystor clapped happily, and everyone exchanged greetings, happy to be finally getting to where they'd spent so much time and effort working towards.

Angelystor floated over to where Harry had set up some desks and chairs in mock imitation of a classroom. Dust tickled Daphne's nose. By the window, the tiny tree cutting from the Llangernyw yew to which Alexandra Black had bound Angelystor sat in its plant pot.

Daphne took one of the seats and looked at the ghost expectantly. She might not quite have Hermione's thirst for forgotten knowledge — her friend was now practically bouncing in her seat — but she couldn't help feel excited anyway. It wasn't every day you learned secret spells and the Greengrasses didn't give their children access to the Greengrass magic until their thirteenth birthday.

Angelystor gave an exaggerated cough. "I thought I'd start by going over the different types of divination and what I can and can't teach you."

Harry nodded.

"Right then. First there's seership — that's the skill of using the inner eye to see thing far away from you, either in space or in time. That's what most people think of when they think of divination, at least, they did in my time."

"Our time too I think," Daphne said.

Angelystor nodded. "Then there's sensing — that's using magic as a kind of echo location to detect various types of things."

"Like homenum revelio?" Harry asked.

"Exactly like homenum revelio. That's one of the spells I was going to teach you."

Harry smiled. "Already know that one."

Daphne frowned. "I don't."

"My neither," Hermione added.

"Well, we'll get to them soon enough." Angelystor drifted back and forth as though she were pacing, hand under her chin, elbow resting on her other folded arm. "Thirdly, there's warding, at least those wards used to gather information."

"Detection wards?" Hermione asked.

"They're a good example, yes. And finally, there are associated charms and enchantments which improve your senses directly. For example, 'visus caligno', or the true night vision charm."

"True night vision…" Harry muttered, his eyes gleaming in the moon and ghost light. "…brilliant."

Hermione straightened in her chair. "Umm… Professor?"

Angelystor giggled. "Just Angelystor, or Angel if you want."

"Okay, ah… Angel. What are some of the seership spells you can teach us?"

Daphne saw Harry lean forward eagerly in his chair.

"Assuming you can successfully open your inner eye, I was trained in three spells. The first was the 'Eye of Kilrogg—'

Daphne perked up. She remembered reading about that spell before in the library. It summoned an invisible eyeball that could float through walls and wards, and which the caster could see through.

"—The second was 'mirror seership', and the third was 'threat seeing.'"

Harry tapped on his desk. "Is it possible to focus on those three first?"

"We can do that, although it's more normal to focus on learning occlumency first."

"We all know advanced occlumency."

Angelystor made a surprised smile. "Really? That's wonderful. Oh, that will make everything so much easier. Mmmmm…" She took a thinking pose. "let's start with threat seeing — that's the easiest to learn and it gives us a good idea of your ability to open your inner eye."

Daphne and Hermione eagerly nodded and soon they and Harry each had a crystal ball in front of them.

"The wand incantation is 'videt immino,' the wand movement is three jabs diagonally upwards to the right, and a single small left spiral, along with the intention to know the severity of the threat you will face, all passed through your inner eye before being released from the tip of your wand and into the crystal ball at the exact end of the final spiral."

Ten minutes later, Daphne focused again on her crystal ball, finished the final spiral of her wand movement, and released her spell into the sphere. Nothing changed. She frowned. It wasn't the wand movements that were difficult — no, it was the whole 'pass your magic through your inner eye' business. Angelystor said it was a point just beyond where their magic flowed into their bodies from their cores, and that it should feel like trying to force their magic through a pinhole.

Daphne was sure she could feel something when she really focused on that point, but it was hard to get her magic to flow through it.

She glanced over at Harry and Hermione who each wore identical expressions of focused concentration and who both had similarly unremarkable results. That even Harry was having problems said a lot about how obscure what they were trying to do must be.

Daphne turned her attention back to her own crystal ball, closed her eyes and felt her magic flow into her body. It swirled through her. She knew she could mould it and direct it as needed, could even form intent strong enough for certain spells—like stupefy and protego—to materialise straight from her fingers without having to pass through her wand. Was that similar to what she had to do now?

She gently shepherded some of her magic back to the point magic flowed from her core and attempted to pool intent to… what? To solidify? To stay where it was? But this wasn't a spell she was trying to create… it was more like an advanced form of manipulating the very magic itself. What she needed was pressure — like when she cast a wandless spell and could feel the pressure of the spell at the tips of her fingers.

She forced the magic down through her self and up again, down and up, trying to find some point for the magic to push against. Again and again. Wait. There! It was tiny and almost impossible to feel, but it was there — a tiny point of pressure, of resistance, and she thought she recognised it from when she focused hard before.

She gathered the smallest amount of magic that she possible could and tried to find that point in her again. There! Okay. Now, pool intent to know threat severity, and push it through that point.

The tiny amount of magic flowed through the point and slowly swirled around the other side.

Okay, now keep it up.

Slowly, ever so slowly, a respectable amount of channelled magic started swirling around her body. Daphne carefully nudged it towards her wand arm, allowed it to flow up through her arm, into her hand, and started the wand movements — three diagonal jabs to the right and a small left spiral. "Videt immino." The spell easily flowed through her wand, seemingly almost pulled through by an enthusiastic hand, and bolted straight into the crystal ball, which shivered, and slowly started giving off a dim blue light.

Angelystor let out a gasp. "Daphne!"

Daphne let out a long breath and beamed.

Harry and Hermione looked up at her, the former with a smile, the latter with familiar competitive intensity.

"You did it! You actually did it!" The pregnant ghost floated over to her. "That's amazing! I didn't think any of you would get that for months, not even Harry! And it only took you a quarter hour!"

Daphne tried to not look too pleased with herself, but it was a loosing battle. Harry's eyes were sparkling as he stood up and it was doing weird things to her insides. "Good instincts, I guess," she said, trying to wave it off.

Harry had now made his way over to her desk. He picked up the crystal ball and inspected it up close. "Well, there's nothing immediately hunting us down. Blue means no current threat, yes?"

Angelystor nodded. "Yes. And the brightness of the glow indicates how far into the future the threat is. We'd only have to be worried if the ball started glowing red."

Hermione had already doubled back down and was focusing with patronus like intensity over her own ball.

"Any tips you can give, Daphne?" Harry asked.

Daphne's smile grew even wider and that warm feeling from before grew stronger. She couldn't ever remember a time in all the years she'd known him, when she was actually better at something than Harry, and now Harry was asking for her help. She explained what she'd done with her magic to a listening Harry and a suddenly fiercely listening Hermione, who'd been distracted from her ball the moment Daphne started her mini lecture.

Angelystor then put her back to work on, 'opening her inner eye wider' while Harry and Hermione continued to try to open theirs even a bit.

By the end of their session, though, neither Harry nor Hermione had made any progress, and Hermione was in a right huff.

"Not everyone has the ability to open their inner eye, Hermione," Angelystor said, trying to console her friend. "And you've only been trying for a few hours. Maybe you'll get it next time?"

But it was still a grumpy Hermione who climbed into the bed opposite her own in the Slytherin first years girl's dormitory, and it wasn't until next morning that the enthusiastic 'learn all the spells' witch returned.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Albus Dumbledore invisibly crept along the passageways of Hogwarts in search of his quarry. He hated that he'd been reduced to this, and indeed, if anyone on the board of directors learned that he'd taken to following an eleven year old boy around while invisible… well… awkward wouldn't begin to describe it.

He soon found said eleven year old boy standing in a circle of his fellow Slytherins consisting of the Greengrass heiress, the Davis heiress, the muggleborn vassal, and Mister Zabini.

"But you still hang out with Malfoy and his ilk." The Davis heiress looked ticked off.

Harry Potter smiled. "Sure."

Davis growled. "You can't be secretly on our side, Potter. That's not how this works."

"Why not?"

Davis huffed and opened her mouth again.

The Greengrass heiress put a calming hand on Davis' shoulder. "Let it go, Tracey."

"Buuutttt Dappphhhhh," Davis whined.

Potter chuckled. "I'll catch you later. I have some things to sort out." And with that, he waved and left, heading back up the corridor.

Albus followed him and the last words he heard from the children of the Gray were, "I swear, Daph, if we lose him…"

The youngest Potter swung around a corner and marched down another passageway, Albus following closely behind. So, both the Dark and the Gray children were courting Harry, were they? That was troublesome, but at least Harry's unwillingness to publicly pick a side would give him time to manoeuvre.

Harry stopped just outside a seemingly random tapestry and pulled out his wand.

Albus's eyes lit up. If young Harry was in the habit of using his wand in the corridors, issuing him a detention so he could get a full evening with him would be easy.

This thought lasted only as long as it took the boy to jab the brother wand to Tom's and muttered, "homenum revelio."

Dumbledore froze and felt a familiar wave of magic sweep over him, singling him out, even while invisible, rending any form of concealment about as useful as a paper screen in a monsoon.

The boy glanced disinterestedly in his direction, turned, and walked off again, seemingly without a care in the world.

Albus stood there, rooted to the spot. "What the hell had that been?"

— DP & SW: TFoP —

It was the second Monday after the students returned to the castle, and Hermione was tidying up after the first club meeting of the first year muggleborns, in which they'd briefly started occlumency lessons, although not the full on 'Harry Potter Method'.

They didn't have a name for their group yet. Sophie Roper had suggested, "The Newblood Club," as she felt, 'muggleborn,' sounded like you had a mental birth defect. Justin, on the other hand, didn't like the idea of giving the phrase, 'pureblood,' legitimacy by defining themselves in relation to them. He preferred, "The Founder's Club," because, as he said, "we are all the founders of our own houses."

Hermione couldn't help liking that one — 'Hermione Granger, Founder of the House of Granger' — It had quite a nice ring to it.

Kevin Entwhistle had shrugged his large shoulders and said it was, "six of one and half a dozen of the other, you know?" to which Hermione had pointed out that if you took six of one and half a dozen of another, then you would still have two identically numbered sets of different things.

Dean Thomas had then jokingly bopped her on the head, resulting in an impromptu duel that she had easily won, hands down.

Hermione now stood in the empty classroom, shrinking and pocketing the trunk that contained the portrait of Daphne's grandmother. She heard the door creak open and idly turned her head, expecting to see Sophie, or maybe one of the others back again. What she wasn't expecting to see was Draco Malfoy, leaning against the door frame and wearing that same smirk he'd worn on the train.

"Heir Malfoy." A heavy feeling slowly formed in her stomach. Her wand softly slid into her hand from her holster.

Malfoy kicked off from the door. "Hello there, Granger. Fancy meeting you here." The door closed behind him with a soft little click. "You know, amazing thing… I was just minding my own business when suddenly, a muddle of mudbloods from all the houses strolls right past me, and I thought, 'well, that's something you don't see everyday — I wonder if I follow the stink they left behind them, if I'll find the mudblood princess,' and here you are."

Hermione stuck her nose up slightly and sniffed. "Can I help you, or are just here to bark?" She couldn't help but noticing Malfoy's own wand sliding into his hand.

Malfoy's smirk grew larger. "Whose to say I'm not here to bite?"

"Oh, please. We already had this conversation on the train."

"No, Granger," he drawled, "we had half a conversation on the train. We never finished it."

"You walked away."

"I saw no reason in having the second half of our conversation were other's would see."

Hermione was getting an uneasy feeling. "Well then?" She eyed the classroom's only exit, depressingly far away with Malfoy still standing between her and it.

"As I said on the train, I have no wish to be charged with assault, even as a minor — such a thing would be unseemly of someone in my position."

Hermione snorted.

"But that's okay, because after consulting with my lawyer"—and he said the word lawyer the way other people might say, 'mansion,' or 'diamonds,' or 'five-star luxury cruise'—"I have found a solution."

Hermione gripped her wand tighter. She really didn't like this.

Draco cleared his throat. "Just one moment, let me get my occlumency up…" His eyes went in and out of focus. "Ah, there we are. Article 67, clause 4A of the magical crimes and violence act, 1778. The ministry shall maintain and make available a list of spells, the offensive use of which is not considered assault, unless leading to grievous bodily harm as defined in Article 48, clause 1A of the act." Malfoy's smirk turned to a full on grin. "The prank clause."

Hermione's mind blanked out. "Prank?" she blinked. "You, Heir Draco Malfoy, of the Noble House of Malfoy, the leading family of the Dark, and the most self important and pretentious person on the planet, are planning to use prank spells?" The last bit was said in utter disbelief.

"The list was quite an eye opener, I must say — Spent a good chunk of the Winter Break reading it through."

Hermione ground her teeth together. "I'm honoured."

Malfoy smirked and produced a slip of paper from the inside of his robe. "Listen to this one — 'foot dangling jinx' — hoists the target up into the air and dangles them helplessly from one foot. Or this one — 'the terrets jinx' — forces the target to intermittently shout out loud expletives for the duration of the jinx." He looked up at her. "Must be quite embarrassing, that one."

Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"And the best bit about all these is that you can only fight back with prank spells of you own, or you're in big trouble, little vassal. How many prank spells does the prim and proper mudblood princess know, I wonder?"

Hermione scowled again. The answer was none and they both knew it.

"Oh, here's a good one," he continued. "Proper place jinx — forces the target to walk on their hands and knees for the duration of the spell. Hah! And this one is my favourite — Maiden's shame jinx, changes the target's hair colour to match their knickers."

Hermione froze, horrified.

Malfoy looked up, and smirked. "Only works on witches, naturally."

And suddenly, a bolt of yellow shot towards her and she only just raised a frantic shield in time. Another bolt of yellow splashed into her shield and she desperately pushed more magic into it. Bolt after bolt slammed into it and Hermione knew that if she didn't get out of there soon, her shields would fail and in the cramped and crowded space of the classroom, she'd be unable to dodge and would be quickly backed into a helpless corner.

Heart hammering in panic, she ran straight at and past Malfoy, lunging for the door and fiddling with the door knob, all while Malfoy laughed and laughed and poured spell after spell into her rapidly weakening shields. She yanked the door open and fled down the corridor, closely followed by a howling with laughter Malfoy, still raining spells on her all the way to empty Slytherin common room, filled with smirking students, before she finally barged it to the sanctuary of the girls dormitory and slammed the door behind her, where she collapsed onto her bed and angrily pummelled her pillow with her fists, eyes watering with humiliation, Malfoy's laughter still ringing in her burning red ears.

Minutes passed and she slowly stopped beating up the pillow and instead hugged it to her chest.

"Hermione?"

Slowly her tear stained face rose up off the sheets and turned to the familiar voice.

Daphne stood in the dormitory doorway looking at her in shock.

Hermione sniffed and soon found herself in a comforting, but rather hesitant hug with the other girl.

"What happened?" Daphne asked, shifting up behind her on the bed.

Hermione told her.

Daphne looked furious. "That bastard! What do you want to do about it?"

Hermione looked down at the floor. "I… I don't know. Maybe we should ask our lord."

Daphne paused then giggled. "No need to do that. We both know exactly what he would do."

Hermione looked up thought about it for a moment. Then her face hardened and she nodded. "Get help, get stronger, get revenge?"

Daphne nodded and smirked. "Close enough."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

For the next few days, the Slytherin common room became a tense borderland, complete with buffer zones and trading ports, while Malfoy passed out wizarding photos showing a panicky Hermione fleeing from a gleeful Malfoy. Harry, as someone who flittered from the Gray to the Dark and back again, had discreetly summoned and burned the photos as quickly as they appeared, and then given Hermione a thick large tome titled The Pranker's Compendium.

For days afterwards, Daphne wouldn't let Hermione out of her sight, for which Hermione was grateful, and which was just as well, because Daphne had pushed out far ahead of him and Hermione in Divination, much to Hermione's chagrin. Neither he nor Hermione had managed to 'open their inner eye', and Harry was starting to suspect it wasn't worth it, considering they had Daphne who had succeeded, and who was already starting to learn the Eye of Kilrogg spell.

But while Hermione might be annoyed about having to watch her back 24/7, which only stressed her out more, considering she already had homework, healer training, muggleborn teaching, and divination, it was nothing to how Harry was feeling right now, as he moved through the school at a casual saunter, occasionally snapping off a homenum revelio, and noticing that his invisible pursuer, who had started occasionally following him a few days ago, and who was almost certainly Dumbledore, was still there.

Losing the man was difficult and time consuming and really starting to cramp his style. Not knowing what the man hoped to accomplish with this benny hill style rigmarole was really getting to him as well.

"It's not anything, John!"

Harry stopped dead just before he reached the next corner and flattened himself to the stone work.

"Don't give me that, Dean." His brother's voice filtered around the corner, sounding angry. "All our friends say they've seen you talking with her, a lot. What's up?"

Dean sounded exasperated. "Nothing's up. And if anything was up it would be none of your business."

Harry snapped off another homenum revelio and revealed the presence of the headmaster behind him and the two boys, Dean and John, around the corner.

"The Slytherins are my business — and Hermione is my business even more so." The voices started to get fainter and it was clear they were moving away.

"Well, why don't you talk to her yourself then? Then you can hear it from her that there's nothing up."

The voices faded away and Harry carried on walking ahead, deciding not to follow the boys, pointedly ignoring the Headmaster behind him, and giving no hint that he cared for anything about that conversation apart from not becoming a part of it. He shrugged. Maybe he'd go to the library and finish his homework for charms. He was sure that standing still in a library watching an eleven year old write essays was exactly what Dumbledore wanted to do with his time.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Lord Chief Auror Sirius Black leaned back in his office chair and shoved another parchment into the out tray. He reached for his in tray and grabbed the next parchment from the pile. Next to it stood a wizarding photograph of himself holding a happy four-year-old Alexandra in his arms, both waving up at him. In the corner of the room, a massive magical cactus plant was starting to yellow.

The door burst open.

"Hey, Bolt." Sirius greeted his auror partner without looking up.

"Hey Sirius," Shacklebolt rumbled in his deep baritone. "Thought you should take a look at this — might become hot soon." He threw a document at him.

Sirius now looked up, caught the roll, unfurled it, and started reading. "Muggle smugglers?"

Shacklebolt nodded. "The boys down in the DoM tripped the keyword 'magic' three times in the official police interrogation transcripts. Things like 'he would appear like magic from behind trees,' and 'I don't know how he did it, it was like magic.'

Sirius frowned. "Doesn't seem like the kind of thing we would usually follow up on."

Shacklebolt grinned. "It isn't. But check who the perp fingered as his main supplier of smuggled goods."

Sirius's eyes scanned down the document. His eyes widened and he choked. "Malfoy!"

Shacklebolt laughed, a deep low rumble. "Indeed."

Sirius tapped the office desk and frowned. "As much as I wish it were true, that's just not something I see Lucius Malfoy getting involved in."

Shacklebolt continued to chuckle and shook his head. "No, I agree. But it massively raises the chance that there's a wizard at play, and that, along with the muggle authorities involvement, puts this firmly in our hands as a possible endangerment of the international statute of secrecy."

"Any leads?"

Shacklebolt shrugged. "Not at the moment — it's just a waiting game for us. Nothing might come of us it, but I thought I'd give you the up." He stepped back towards the door. "You need to get out of the office more, anyway. Take little Alex out to a quidditch match, or something."

Sirius looked around distractedly. "Ah, yeah, I should really do that, shouldn't I?" He moved a stack of parchments. "You don't know what happened to the file with the department's new shield maintenance contract do you?"

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Dumbledore invisibly jogged down the first floor corridor, quickly turned the next corner, and arrived in the empty castle entrance hall — the operative word being 'empty'. Damn. He'd lost the little snake… again!

— DP & SW: TFoP —

The moon shone in through the shrieking shack window. Daphne Greengrass focused intensely and tried to push more magic through her inner eye than she had ever pushed before.

She raised her wand and pointed it at the floor, just a few feet in front of her. "Profero oculus Kilrogg!"

Suddenly something really weird happened to her world. She looked both up and down, and saw herself, looking at herself, and at a horribly ugly floating green eyeball the size of a bludger, all at the same time.

"Daphne! Well done!" Angelystor clapped and whooped.

Hermione let out a resigned sigh and gave her a wistful smile of congratulations. "Yes, well done. I guess we now know who the seer of the team is."

Daphne smiled back at her. "I promise to lend you my new super powers if you ever need them."

Hermione's wistful smile widened a bit.

Harry was hungrily circling the Eye of Kilrogg and Daphne couldn't help feel a little dizzy from following him in two places at once. "Yes," he muttered, "this is going to be just what we need. The range is extremely limited, but that's not a problem. We can work from the pipe network right next to the third floor. It can already pass through most wards…. Can you move it?"

Daphne looked towards Angelystor.

Angelystor coughed. "It's all will and intent. No fancy wand movements or incantations."

Daphne nodded, sat down in her chair and started learning to direct and control her new floating eyeball.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

While Daphne was settling down to practise with the floating eyeball, Harry stepped outside for a breath of fresh air and to get some business sorted. The winter festival had been productive in many ways, and one of those, was getting some fresh goods from Afghanistan. After all, mansions didn't pay for themselves.

Safe in the knowledge that the girls were protected by the fidelius, he wrapped himself in the invisibility cloak, and soared out across the Hogwarts grounds, all the way to his other fidelius property in Hogsmeade.

As he landed, he couldn't help but chuckle. He now had four fidelius charmed locations and he was already planning a fifth — the Black Library. The sheer overpowered nature of that spell boggled his mind. Luckily there were only three people in Magical Britain who could cast it, him being one of them.

He quickly grabbed his mobile phone, gave his loyal sooty owl some owl treats, and made his way back outside, before shooting of again into the mountains where the reception would be horrible, but the magic would be low.

He punched in the phone number and waited.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

The phone rang.

PC Woodman, currently serving the graveyard duty for ogling the Inspector's wife longer than was polite, stared at the mobile phone in the evidence rack behind his desk in shock and disbelief.

He quickly picked up his own phone and punched a number in.

"Hey, Robert?"

"Charles! Curtis' phone — the one to Malfoy — it's ringing!"

There was a sharp intake of breath. "Don't pick it up! Just leave it for the moment. I'll be there in two."

His connection clicked dead, and all the while the phone continued to ring.

PC Woodman stared at the ringing phone in bewilderment. The arrest of Curtis' and a good chuck on Britain's drug dealing elite had been all over the national news and in all the papers. What kind of hole would someone have to live in to not know that?

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Harry stared at the phone in mild annoyance. Curtis usually picked up pretty sharpish. Hopefully someone hadn't muscled in on his business while he'd been out of it. That would be awkward, but at least he'd have the philosopher's stone project in backup. Despite the great relationship he had with the Boneslicer Clan, he still didn't fancy testing how friendly they'd stay if he stopped paying his debts.

He punched the number into the device and tried again.

Click.

Finally.

"Hey, Malfoy," said the gruff voice Harry easily identified as Curtis Lawless from the other side, "that you?"

"Yes, Mister Lawless, it is me."

"Christ mate, thank god you called. I've had it up to 'ear with this lot. Listen, we need a whole lot of ships from you, understand? You can do it right?"

"Yes, I can do it. I have seventy kilos in my safe house, but I'm going to guess you need, what? Thirty-five?"

"Thirty-five is good — same rates as before."

Harry raised a single, slightly surprised eyebrow. "Sounds good on this end. Same meeting place as usual? 2:00am next Wednesday?"

"Yeah, alright. My boys will see you there."

"Right."

The phone clicked dead. Harry smiled, pocketed the phone, flew back to Hogsmeade, deposited the phone back on his desk, and flew back to the shrieking shack, to be met by a happy and bubbly Daphne who'd just managed to get the floating eyeball to zoom around the room and turn invisible on command.

As he happily waved good night to the girls at the entrance to the Slytherin dormitories, and climbed into his comfortable four poster bed, he couldn't help think that things were going really quite acceptably.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"Granger."

Draco Malfoy had wondered if the mudblood meeting was a regular event and it turned out he'd been right. He had the mudblood princess boxed into the room again, and this time, he'd made sure to have Crabbe and Goyle on the other side of the door, holding it shut against all attempts to leave. Victory last time had tasted sweet. Victory this time, would be a full course banquet.

"Heir Malfoy," Granger said, looking at him nervously, fiddling with her beautifully crafted trunk before shrinking and pocketing it, and causing a slight tinge of jealousy to pass through him. No. He shook his head. Not jealousy — anger — yes, that's right — anger that someone so unworthy was allowed to possess such valuable artefacts.

He smirked. She looked like a trapped animal, the way her eyes flittered to the exit, the way she stood, the way she breathed. How good would she look in a cage? He chuckled and shook his head.

"Might I ask what's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing," he drawled, raising his wand. "just wondering what colour your hair's going to change." And with that, he let loose the first of his spells.

Granger brought up a shield like expected, and it splashed off it. He fired a second spell and again the spell hit the shield and did nothing. But unlike last time, Granger seemed to be making no frantic bolt to the door. Heh. He casually threw a tourettes jinx. All the easier for him.

Then, suddenly, with a flick of her wrist, Granger sent a bright blue spell directly at him.

Shocked, Draco raised a shield of his own and the spell splashed off of it. "Granger!"

"What?" Granger took a step forward and suddenly Draco noticed that her whole stance had changed. Gone was the nervousness, the darting eyes, the bent stance — instead she stood like a jungle cat getting ready to pounce.

"Y-you can't! You'll get into trouble!"

"Oh, Malfoy." Granger tilted her head to the side. "That was last week."

An orange spell splashed off his shield.

"That was a soprano jinx," Granger said, as though she were answering a question in class. "It raises the tone of your voice to almost a squeak."

A fluorescent pink spell was next. Draco cringed.

"That was a rapunzel jinx — causes your hair to grow a foot a minute until it wears off."

Draco felt his shield weaken as a bright orange spell hit it. Damn how powerful was Granger?

"And that one," Granger said with an almost demented grin, "was the oedipus jinx…

Draco gave her a look of horror.

"Oh, I see you know what that one does," she said sweetly. "I'm sure the world will love to know how much you think about your Mummy, Heir Malfoy."

And suddenly Draco didn't have time to do anything but shield and try to cast offensive spells wherever he could, which wasn't often.

A soprano spell clipped him through his shield and he gave a little squeaky yelp while barely managing to side step an unknown rainbow beam of magic. He sweated. This was a mistake. A bad mistake.

Granger smirked and his nerve broke. He shielded one more time and dove for the door, grabbing for the handle and twisting madly, only for it to not move a Merlin damned inch. He rattled the doorknob. "Let me out!" he squeaked.

"No way, Granger!" came a muffled shout from the other side.

A spell shattered his shield behind him.

"It's me, you idiots! Draco!"

"It doesn't sound like you."

He rattled the door again, and turned around to shield again.

"It's a spell!"

Granger was now only a dozen feet away, smiling like a demon from the nether world.

"Sure, it is."

He had just enough time to say, "Granger, how about it we—" before sparkly lights flashed towards him and a half dozen hexes hit him, one after the other, and his world become one whirling ball of weirdness.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Later that night, the Slytherin common room was almost perfectly divided. A third were howling with laughter, a third were quietly sniggering, and the final third were doing their best to look outraged while occasionally hiding a snort into a pillow or a giggle behind a raised book.

The wizarding photos this time showed a Draco Malfoy with gorgeous pink tresses so long they dragged on the floor, wearing his fine robes as normal, but lined with lace and frills, with deer antlers on his head, walking on his hands and knees, vomiting up slugs, with pink polka dotted skin, and occasionally shouting something that the lip readers of the room could identify as, "I love my Mummy!"

"You see," Tracey giggled, sitting with the rest of the Gray students to the right of the large empty Slytherin throne in the middle of the common room, "this is why you should declare yourself for us, Potter. Because we're awesome."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

It was the next afternoon, just after lunch, and Harry had to agree with Tracey pronouncement the previous night…. They were awesome.

Harry casually ducked behind a tapestry secret passageway, ran at full tilt up the corridor, turned the next corner, arrived into a tall hallway, disillusioned and silenced himself, wiped his cloak around him, and flew up into the rafters, sitting himself on the huge wood beam and dangling his cloaked feet over the edge.

Seconds later, Dumbledore barged into the hallway, looking around in obvious frustration.

Harry stayed quiet and watched as the man slid his own wand from its holster.

"Homenum Revelo."

Harry smirked.

After a few more moments, a rather confused looking Dumbledore left, and Harry descended back down to the ground.

He made his way towards the library, hoping to squeeze in some restricted section reading before dinner — but as he arrived, he spotted just who was facing off against each other just outside the library door.

"C'mon, Hermione!" His brother's voice wheedled.

"I said no — I'm not interested."

Wow, Hermione was attracting all the trouble these days, wasn't she? First Draco, now John.

John Potter ran his hand through his hair. "But why? Is that what Slytherin told you?"

"That," Hermione said in a frosty tone, "is none of your business."

Harry surreptitiously drew closer, keeping his wand in hand, just in case.

"I just don't understand how you could allow someone so much power over you. It's not like you."

"Again, none of your business."

John Potter looked away, obviously frustrated. "Shouldn't Slytherin want his vassal to pair up with someone like me? I'm the heir to an Ancient and Noble House, one of the wealthiest houses in Britain, with family magic going back over a thousand years. You couldn't ask for a better suitor."

Harry's lip curled. Oh, that whiny look on his brother's face when he wasn't getting his way.

"Have you considered the idea that maybe my lord simply wishes me to wait until I'm older before accepting such gifts? No one else is giving them out yet."

John scoffed. "Puuurleeze. Slytherin signed contracts with two witches when they were eight. I don't think he much cares about that."

"Well, if you weren't going to accept my reasoning then you shouldn't have asked for it," Hermione snapped, before turning and starting to walk away.

"You won't be able to run away forever, Hermione!" John called from behind her. "This is part of our culture!"

Harry followed the furious Hermione around the castle until he managed to get her alone.

"Harry," Hermione whispered softly when he finally whipped the cloak off himself and dragged her into an empty classroom. "Did you hear all that?"

"Yeah," Harry smiled. "He didn't look too happy did he?"

Hermione huffed and folded her arms. "Can you believe him! I wanted to hex him to hell and back for that last comment. As though the only reason I couldn't possibly want his stupid gift is because I'm a stupid muggleborn who doesn't understand the culture. GrraAAhhhh!" She threw her hands in the air. "It makes me so mad!"

Harry chuckled. "Well, at least he won't be able to force anything. Even if he somehow managed to trap your parents. We made sure of that."

Hermione stopped silently ranting and shivered. "Oh Merlin, you don't think he'd try something like that, do you?"

"I wouldn't put it past him, but probably not." Harry frowned. "I'd advise checking your food and drink for love potions from now on anyway, just in case."

Hermione nodded. "Are you sure I can't just Hex him to hell like I did Malfoy?"

Harry grinned. "As tempting as that is, we still want stay under his radar as much as possible, at least for the moment. And besides, it may not be illegal, but you might still get detention or whatnot. Best not to give Dumbledore any good reason to get you in trouble.

Hermione pouted.

Harry smiled "One day, Hermione, I promise. John's time will come."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

A few minutes previously, John Potter marched away from the Library in a bad mood. Getting back with Hermione was his best plan for sniffing out information on Slytherin. If she wasn't willing to let him near her, as much as that hurt, then he'd have to try other tactics.

He walked up a flight of stairs and down a corridor. Maybe he'd go talk with Susan during History of Magic. She'd have some ideas. It was just annoying they were in different houses so he couldn't have her around all the time.

He was just walking by the hospital wing, lost in thought, when the main door to the wing opened and who should walk out, but junior death eater number one.

John smirked and slowed down as Malfoy turned and spotted him. "Well, hello there."

"Potter," Malfoy spat. "What do you want?"

"Not much." John looked Malfoy over. "What were you doing in there? You don't look ill."

"None of your business."

Did Malfoy just blush?

John grinned. "Heh, bet someone just hexed your annoying arse."

"T-that's…"

"Oh Merlin, they did! HAH! Who was it? I need to thank them."

"They were just lucky!"

"Sure, they were." John smirked. "If they were so lucky, how about you duel me? I could really do with letting out some frustration."

Malfoy gave him a deadpanned look. "I'm not duelling you, Potter. I've heard the rumours of how powerful you are."

John raised an eyebrow. There was the good old Hogwarts rumour mill hard at work again. "And you… believe them?"

Malfoy folded his arms. "Yes, I do."

Wow. That was surprising. He smirked. "So, Slytherin is ready submit before the might of Gryffindor?"

Malfoy smirked back. "Hardly."

"Hardly?"

"Yes." Malfoy turned his back on him and started to walk off. "After all," he glanced back once more before walking off again, "we have our own Potter."

John stared after him with his mouth hanging open. Then he started to laugh — huge belly laughs that erupted from deep within him and echoed away down the large stone hallway. As if his pathetic little Slytherin twin brother could ever win in a duel, against him.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Daphne stood in front of the massive mirror that Harry had hung on the wall of the shrieking shack. Behind her, Harry and Hermione sat at the small divination classroom desks, the former working on paperwork, the latter switching between two different books, the first, 'The healer's Art — Twenty-sixth Edition,' and the second, 'If You Cant Beat Them, Prank Them.'

By Daphne's side, Angelystor gave her an encouraging smile.

Daphne shut her eyes, passed her magic through her inner eye, formed the intent of the spell, made a delicate wand motion towards the mirror, and focused on the three Ds of apparition — destination, determination, and deliberation.

The mirror's surface blurred, and the next moment, was showing her not her own head and body, but Harry's, still bent over his desk.

She grinned.

"Well done, Daphne!" Angelystor clapped.

Daphne let out a deep breath.

"You got it?" Harry had set his quill down and looked up.

Daphne preened. "Yes, I did."

"Excellent. It's all range and control from here on then?"

Angelystor nodded. "Yes, although, because the mirror spell can't pass through wards, even weak ones, we'll have to practise range from outside of the fidelius charm."

Harry frowned. "That's… I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that."

"Oh, Harry." Daphne made doe eyes at him. "I'm sure it will be safe if we do it just outside the shack. Then, if danger comes we can just duck back inside the charm. I can even keep casting the threat seeing spell on my crystal ball, just to make sure nothing dangerous is going to happen."

"Well, I'm not too comfortable about relying on that threat seeing spell like that. Exactly what it sees as a threat might be suspect… buuuttttt…."

Daphne continued to make doe eyes at him.

"Oh, alright. As soon as we get the mirror set up."

Daphne smiled brilliantly at him. "Thanks, Harry!"

"But not tonight. I've got an appointment soon."

Daphne smiled and turned back to the mirror. That was fine with her. She would get this whole divination thing working perfectly and then she'd finally stop being the team member whose only use was as a Daughter of the Ancient and Noble House of Greengrass.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Harry left the Shrieking Shack in high spirits. Daphne's divination studies were coming on amazingly well. At this rate, they'd be ready to start exploring all the bits of the third floor corridor in just weeks. Once they knew exactly what they were up against, they could hatch a plan to crack it wide open and swipe the ultimate prize, right under Dumbledore and Voldie's big-fat and non-existent noses.

He chain apparated all the way to his secret cave safe in the Hebrides, grabbed seven-thousand galleons (£350,000) of Afghan white, popped an ageing potion, transfigured his face to his Malfoy-esque smuggler persona, and then chain apparated to a spot not far away from his trade spot.

The night was perfectly still. Clouds moved across the sky, alternatively bathing the land in moonlight, or cloaking it in darkness. The chill air tried to bite though his warming charms, and made visible his long slow breaths.

Slowly letting his body wash away the accumulated toxins from chain apparating up and down the country, Harry walked down the country lane, with its hedgerows on either side, and into the forest, on the other side of which, was his meeting point with Curtis' men.

"Homenum revelio."

Nothing. Not that he was expecting anything, but it always paid to make sure. The last thing he wanted was a gunshot wound to deal with. He always kept his wand in hand over a long sleeve during these exchanges. If they ever did try anything funny, they'd be quite surprised when they found their bullets stopping in mid air between them.

He trudged on a bit further.

"Tempus."

1:57am

Okay, that should be long enough.

He silenced himself, and apparated some five hundred metres south, right behind a random tree around the clearing in the woods.

"Homenum revelio."

The hairs on the back of his neck stood on edge. There were two people standing in the middle of the clearing, like usual, but there was also one person standing behind him, almost outside the range of his detection spell. Almost, but not quite.

What was he doing there? A scout maybe? A watcher? Someone Curtis assigned to make sure the men he sent were doing their jobs? He was too far away to interfere directly with him, and wouldn't be able to see him through all this underbrush, so that didn't make much sense either.

He hefted the heavy bag from his shoulder. Whatever. He'd deal with it.

Harry stepped out from behind the tree and walked towards the two men, making sure to keep his physical shield cast in front of him.

"Malfoy," Goon A greeted him with a grunt.

"You have the money?"

Goon B nodded. "You have the goods?"

He nodded, and flashed the inside of the rucksack.

Suddenly, magic flowed over him, very familiar magic. His eyes widened slightly. An anti apparition ward.

"Malfoy? You okay?"

He looked the man straight in the eyes, watched memories flash across his consciousness, saw the trap, and moved.

Goon A clutched his head, cried out, and stumbled back.

Goon B shouted.

Harry wandlessly banished both of them backwards with a swing of his rucksack holding arm.

And then, seemingly from nowhere, a huge dog leapt from the underbrush straight at him.

Startled, Harry stepped backwards and went for a disillusionment.

The dog transformed into Lord Black complete with Auror shield.

Fuck.

Harry's disillusionment activated.

Lord Black started a stunner chain.

Harry flicked the first stunner away, dodged the second, and swung his cloak around him on the third, watching with wide eyes as the stunner hit the cloak, travelled along the inside of the water-like cloth, and out the other side, barely missing his shoulder, but giving him just enough time to point his wand at the ground, cast the most powerful smell obliterating tergeo spell he could, and fly up into the air, tracing his path back to the tree and casting lessor, silent tergeo spells as he went.

Shouts and cries went up all over the clearing.

Just as he reached the tree, a second wave of magic flowed over him. A containment ward. His heart pounded. Trapped. Trapped! TRAPPED! He shook himself. NO! Not trapped.

Sweating, fighting down the urge to panic. Harry flew at top speed to a random point in the forest, landed, unshrunk his trunk, climbed inside, flinging his cloak over the trunk as he descended, grabbed his miniature ward stones, climbed back out, set up the stones in a one metre square around him, sat crosslegged on the ground under the cloak and started to meditate.

For twenty minutes, the shouts of men and the casting of dozens of different types of detection spells rang out across the clearing and through the woods. Everything from homenum revelio, to water spells, and chalk, Animagus Revelio, and elemental wind, rain, and fog spells.

Harry sat, his heart beating like mad, as one auror, tall, bald, and black, walked past him, not twenty metres away before continuing on.

Eventually, he took a long breath, pointed his wand at the wardstone standing right between his crossed legs in the middle of the square metre space, summoned all his magical powers, and hissed, "Fidelius Occultum."

The fidelius charm activated.

Harry let out a sigh of relief.

Safe.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

It had taken the auror team three whole hours to finally give up — often with Alex's father sniffing around the fidelius charm, making puzzled, doggy whining noises. Needless to say, Daphne, Hermione, and Angelystor were out of their minds with worry when he Morse coded them his situation on his lightning bolt ring, but the desperate hug he'd gotten when he finally stumbled back into the shrieking shack had left him feeling strangely okay about the situation.

"You mean, the money to build the manor, came from drug smuggling?" Hermione sat crossed legged on her chair, nibbling her lip, and looking worried.

Harry nodded. "Safest way I had. It's not like I personally go around doing the stuff that drug dealers do. I just moved things from point A to point B."

"You were nearly caught, Harry."

Harry cringed. "Well, it hardly makes any difference, Curtis seems to be out of the game now. He was fifty percent of the business, and I never could find other buyers with the time I had."

Daphne had sat herself on one of the desks and was idly swinging her legs back and forth. "So, what's our position then?"

"We've got fourteen thousand galleons (£700,000) in stock. Assuming nothing happens to my other buyers, that'll be liquidated in the next twelve months."

"And how long will that last us?"

Harry wrinkled his nose. "Depends on how much we spend — mostly on how much our house elves end up costing us. But assuming we can't get the philosopher's stone… we'd be in deep trouble by this time next year."

The three pre-teens stood and sat in thoughtful silence for a moment while their pregnant ghost seer hovered nearby.

"What about you, Angel?" Harry asked. "Can you offer any insights for the future?"

Angelystor slowly shook her head. "It doesn't work like that. I'm sorry, Harry."

Harry shrugged. "Oh well." He turned to Daphne and grinned. "So, it's all on you now. No pressure."

Daphne scowled.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

It was all on her.

Daphne sat in defence against the dark arts and stared at Lord Voldemort who was currently demonstrating the correct way to use a tripping jinx to interrupt an enemy incantation.

Hermione sat next to her and she couldn't help notice that her friend was attracting several stares from persons of interest, most notably, Draco Malfoy and John Potter. Both seemed to be trying to bore into Hermione's head with the intensity of their gazes.

Both boys, however, would occasionally switch their gazes to Harry —Malfoy with a look of cold calculation and John Potter with one of scorn and derision.

Harry, sitting in front of her and Hermione as usual, ignored them both and kept his attention on Voldemort, who had just banished away yet another hanging garlic bulb, with a flick of his hand, and a disgusted look on his face.

Daphne couldn't help wondering just how much of quirrell was left, and how much was nothing more than rotting possessed corpse.

She shivered.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

After defence, Harry stepped outside the classroom, nodded to Daphne and Draco in turn, and headed off down the corridor. As soon as he was out of eyesight, he whipped out his wand, as he'd made a constant habit of over the past few weeks.

"Homenum revelio."

An invisible presence faded into his consciousness.

Damn. He casually started making his way towards one of the many maze like sections of the castle, determined to quickly lose his annoying pursuer. Really… didn't Dumbledore have more important things to do?

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Hermione had barely parted ways from Daphne after defence before she turned a corner into a zigzag corridor and the annoying person stepped out from behind the other corner.

"Hello, Granger." John Potter leaned on a stone pillar by his corner with his legs crossed and his arms folded in the universal, 'I'm a dick' position.

She sighed. "What is it this time?"

"I thought I'd give it another go to have you accept my gift."

Hermione folded her own arms. "I thought I told you I'm not interested."

"Are you sure?" John Potter took out the book from his shoulder bag and wiggled it in front of him. "Nice juicy, juicy book."

Hermione narrowed her eyes.

John Potter opened it. "Listen to this! Handwritten annotations by the original author themselves. Hidden secrets purged from later editions." His voice dipped to a mysterious drawl. "Think of the knowledge, Hermione. Wouldn't you like to read it?"

"Yes," Hermione said through clenched teeth, "I would. It's very nice. But I'm still not accepting it. All you're doing is pissing me off…"

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Harry ducked into a secret, parseltongue only secret passageway, ascended a steep spiral staircase, walked along a dusty corridor, descended another spiral staircase, came out the other side, and removed his disillusionment, silencing charms, and cloak. Heh. That one had been easy. Dumbles was getting sloppy. He walked up the passageway whistling as he went, until a familiar and most unwelcome voice caught his attention.

"Think of the knowledge, Hermione. Wouldn't you like to read it?"

Carefully, he crept up the passageway until he reached the corner, leant around it, and saw his brother's back, squaring off against Hermione and waving a book around.

"Potter?" A faint voice called from where he'd just come.

He whirled around. It was Tracey. He put a finger to his lips and motioned her over.

"Yes," Hermione said through clenched teeth, "I would. It's very nice. But I'm still not accepting it. All you're doing is pissing me off…"

Tracey sidled up to him, glanced around the corner, ducked back, and gave him a look of confused suspicion.

"Maybe you just need a little bit more… incentive" John Potter flourished another book so he now held one in each hand. "This is a list of all the books in the Potter Library. You could go through it and choose one for yourself."

Harry narrowed his eyes. He wouldn't mind a look through that himself.

Hermione stuck her nose up in the air. "I'm not accepting any gift from you no matter what it is."

"Oh, come on! John waved the new book around in obvious frustration. What's so bad about me that you, youHermione — Jean — Granger, would refuse a pick-any-book-you-want from one of the best magical libraries in Britain. It's not as if you're actually agreeing to a contract or anything!"

Hidden behind John, Harry smirked. Beside him, Tracey shot him another suspicious look.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Draco couldn't believe he'd forgotten his book in the defence classroom. It was exactly that kind of sloppy mistake that he didn't need. His standing had taken enough of a beating after what Granger had done to him the other week, thank you very much.

He marched up the corridor and was nearing a zigzag corner when a hated voice stopped him dead.

"It's not as if you're actually agreeing to a contract or anything!"

He pressed himself up against the wall, edged forward and tilted his head around the corner.

Granger was right there. Standing with her back fully exposed to him while John light-shines-out-of-my-arse Potter, ranted and raved while waving around some old looking books.

"My answer is still no."

"Not even if I do this?" John Potter dropped one of the books, held his wand up to the other and produced a small flame on it's tip."

Granger freaked out. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!"

John Potter smirked. "Accept the gift."

Granger took a step forward. "STOP IT!"

"Take it, or the book burns." He playfully jabbed the wand closer and closer to the book while grinning smugly.

Draco smirked. Oh, this was just too good to pass up.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"Take it, or the book burns." John Potter playfully jabbed the wand closer and closer to the book while grinning smugly.

Harry stared, wide-eyed, as John tried to blackmail Hermione into accepting the declaration of intent gift.

Tracey was slack jawed. "This is so, so dumb," she whispered.

He nodded.

And just then, Harry spotted something out of the corner of his eye. So focused was he on the show down in front of him that he hadn't noticed another figure, standing behind Hermione, almost completely hidden around the corner on the far side of the corridor.

Draco Malfoy.

His eyes narrowed.

Draco Malfoy preparing to take a pot shot at Hermione's back.

"STOP IT!" Hermione yelled almost in hysterics. "OR I"LL STOP YOU!"

"TRY IT!" John happily yelled.

And all hell broke loose.

Hermione cast a bright blue spell straight towards John.

John shielded and cast one of his own back at her.

Malfoy chose that moment to cast a yellow spell that Harry now recognised as 'Maiden's shame' right at Hermione's back, which Harry managed to shield against by lifting a whole floor-stone right out of the floor behind Hermione and straight into the path of the spell, where it cracked and dropped back to the ground with an almighty smash, much to Malfoy's obvious surprise.

"MISTER POTTER!"

Harry froze.

John Potter froze.

Hermione froze.

Malfoy froze.

They all instantly stopped moving, their wands all pointed which way, the ziz-zag corridor already a war zone of broken stone and scorched masonry.

Tracey was standing to the side, trying to look as innocent as possible.

Harry turned his head, and there, halfway down the corridor he and Tracey had just walked up, stood his long time pursuer, Albus Dumbledore. Damn.

"Detention, Mister Potter!"

He lowered his wand. "For John too?"

John scowled, apparently rather shocked by his twin standing right behind him.

"I only saw you, Mister Harry Potter. You will serve detention with me next week on Wednesday."

Harry gave a low bow, "Of course, Headmaster."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"I still can't believe that man!" A week had passed and Hermione was pacing in the shrieking shack while Daphne watched and Harry levitated the large wall mirror. "You were only protecting me. You were the only one out of us four who wasn't attacking anyone, and he still singled you out! Gah!"

Daphne smirked. It was amazing just how much righteous indignation Hermione could hold onto about anything relating to Harry.

"Don't worry about it, Hermione." Harry walked with the mirror out of the shack, followed by the two girls, and hung it on the wall facing towards the forbidden forest and away from Hogsmeade. "I'll be fine. Focus more on the next task."

Hermione took a deep breath and nodded.

Daphne sat down on a chair she'd carried from the shack, and placed her crystal ball on the ground. She'd spent almost all of last week since Dumbledore had given Harry detention on the Eye of Kilrogg spell, and she was now starting to practise with the mirror seeing spell. But while the Eye of Kilrogg could pass through most wards, the mirror spell could be blocked by even the smallest and weakest magical barriers. The benefit was that while the Eye of Kilrogg had a very short range, the mirror seeing spell could extend as far as the seer's magic let it, rather like apparition.

The problem with this was that she could only practise the spell outside of the fidelius charm — something Harry had only reluctantly agreed to, especially when he wasn't there, like now when he had his detention with Dumbledore.

Harry stepped back from the mirror and turned to her and Hermione. "Right. Now, what are the rules?"

Hermione raised her hand, which made Daphne stifle a giggle.

"Yes, Hermione?"

"Always keep the cloak nearby, duck into the shack at the first sign of danger, and message you with our lightning bolt rings if we get in trouble."

"Right." Harry handed the invisibility cloak to Hermione. "I'll see you back in the common room. He then turned around, hit himself on the head with his wand, and became an outline against the background.

Hermione settled herself down cross-legged on the ground to read.

Daphne turned back to the mirror, raised her wand, and began to practise.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Dumbledore waited in the empty classroom. He'd chosen it specifically for tonight. It was large and gave the feeling of isolation to a student on their own. Also, the dais was raised and allowed the lecturer to look down on the students in the first few rows. It was the classroom he'd once held transfiguration in when he'd been a full time teacher.

There were many questions he hoped he'd get answered tonight.

The door opened and a lone figure walked in.

He waited until his current focus of interest was a good two-thirds of the way down the seating steps before raising his head. "Good evening, Mister Potter."

"Headmaster." The boy's tone was neutral and respectful. His gaze giving neither challenge nor submission.

Dumbledore smiled — a smile he'd spent a lot of time over the years getting just right. He knew it was welcoming and warm, while at the same time firm, with a hint of steel. "I suppose you might be wondering why I decided to oversee your detention personally rather than give it to your head of house?"

The boy finished sitting himself down, and Albus couldn't help notice that the spot he choose was exactly the same one that Riddle had sat in for his seven years of Hogwarts. "I assumed it was because he's a ghost?"

"Not at all, my boy. The Baron is just as much a head of house as Professors McGonagall, Sprout, or Flitwick. No, the reason is that I wished to talk to you personally, and felt that this would be a good opportunity to do so. I had been planning to speak with you soon anyway, but your, ahem, actions"—and here he looked over his moon shaped glasses down at the boy—"caused me to alter my plans somewhat."

Harry Potter tilted his head.

"You'll be working on your transfiguration. I've heard rumours of your abilities, and I'd like to see what you're capable of. I was something of a prodigy myself in my younger years, you know." He floated over a brick to Harry Potter's table. "Now, why don't you show me what you can do?"

Harry Potter shrugged, picked up his wand, and started to shape the brick into many wondrous things, many far more advanced then any first year should possibly be able to do, but none quite as good as conjuring an armchair right in the middle of the Slytherin common room.

Mmmm…

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Daphne smirked. She didn't know the forbidden forest, and, like with apparition, you couldn't use a mirror to see a place you had never seen yourself. But that didn't stop her. Just like a chain apparating wizard could hop from one visible location to another across the land or sea, so she could jump from spot to spot using the mirror, so long as the mirror could see the next spot she wanted to jump to.

She was currently viewing a beautiful little creek, in which water ran over a tiny waterfall. It was just a shame that the mirror couldn't pick up sound, or this would be quite relaxing.

A small beeping noise distracted her.

Hermione looked up from her book and shook her beeping wand. "Time for the threat assessment."

Daphne nodded, focused her magic through her inner eye, and tapped the crystal ball in front of her. It lit up a dim pink.

The two girls stared at it.

Hermione bit her lip. "Maybe we should head back inside?"

Daphne shook her head. "It's still fine. What ever it is isn't going to happen for a while. We've got time."

Hermione nodded uncertainly, but did return to her book.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"And are you making many friends?"

"Oh, yes, Headmaster. Draco, and Daphne, and Hermione, and Theo, and Pansy." Potter thought for a moment. "And Tracey."

Albus frowned. "You might want to be careful, Harry. Young Draco's family in particular are not known for their fondness of people in your situation."

Harry Potter frowned. "But, they all seem so friendly — especially when I showed them some of my better tricks."

Albus mentally winced. While Harry going to Slytherin had been expected, Harry being powerful enough to overcome the natural leeriness his peers would have to a muggle raised, squib-mistaken, half-blood, Potter, twin brother of the boy-who-lived, had not.

"Harry," he took off his glasses and rubbed his face. "It gives me no pleasure in saying this, but there are many who will try to be friendly with you, just to use you. And the moment you are no longer useful, they will abandon you."

Harry's expression darkened. "Like my parents, Sir?"

And there it was. Albus suspected it would be there, but he hoped it wouldn't. Resentment. He sighed. "Harry, your parents did what they did for a very good reason."

Harry Potter leaned forward. "What reason?"

"Alas, I cannot say. Not now — wait," he said, seeing Harry was about to interrupt, "when you are older, no, when you are ready, you will know."

Albus settled back and regarded the boy in front of him, still watching him with those darkened eyes. Had he made a mistake by asking Lily to have Petunia to treat Harry as her own? He figured a well brought up child would be less risky than one who followed Tom's path too closely, but now… he wasn't so sure.

Whatever the case, it was clear the youngest Potter was still holding secrets. He could smell them all over him. So did John, for that matter — and that, was perhaps more worrying than anything else.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Daphne gasped. There, in the mirror, she could clearly see the beautiful and majestic form of a unicorn limping through the forest. The almost glowing white of its hair flowed across its back and sides until it hit a horrible gash in the animal's back leg, from where silvery blood dribbled out and fell on the floor as the purest thing Daphne had ever seen whinnied and tossed its head in pain. Even without sound, it tore at her heart.

"Hermione," she whispered.

Hermione didn't move.

"Hermione," she said a little louder.

"Huh?" Hermione looked up and gasped. "Oh no. Poor thing."

Daphne stood up, heart hammering in her chest. "It's not far. You can help it right?"

Hermione's eyes widened. "But, we can't! Harry said we mustn't leave."

"No, he said ring him if there was trouble."

"And! …Go back inside!"

"Only if it was dangerous," she wheedled.

Hermione pointed wildly at the mirror, eyes panicked. "Have you forgotten what's hunting it!"

Daphne bit her lip. "But… but…"

"Do the threat check spell!"

Daphne cast the spell on the crystal ball, all the while looking back at the mirror. The crystal ball glowed an angry bright red.

"You see!"

Daphne couldn't help it. Tears started to form around her eyes. "But, if we don't do anything, the unicorn is going to DIE!"

Hermione's lip trembled. Her shoulders slumped.

Daphne plunged on. "Look, we'll have the cloak. We can message Harry. It's not far. We can go out, heal it, and get back to the fidelius charm if we run into him. Nothing can see through the cloak — not even him."

Hermione's started pacing frantically.

In the mirror, the unicorn gave a silent cry of pain and collapsed in a lush green clearing, in a slowly expanding pool of silver blood.

Hermione stopped pacing, took a deep breath, and clutched her fists together. She closed her eyes. "How far is it?"

"Five minutes, maybe."

Hermione groaned, her eyes snapping open. "Okay, fine! Get under this thing and let's go. And be sure to message, Harry."

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Albus Dumbledore was getting more and more agitated the more he considered the boy in front of him. It wasn't any one thing, it was all the little things that added together to create a disturbing whole. Like the way he flicked his wand his at the end of a transfiguration and then gave it a little jab downwards. The jab down wasn't necessary, it was a mannerism. One he'd seen before. That and a few other tells had alarm bells ringing in his head.

If only he could get Harry and John performing together in an equal test of magic… that would give him the needed results to know just how much of what was going on was a result of Harry being a Potter twin, and how much of it was that fragment of soul in his forehead.

Of course, there was the duelling tournament.

Harry Potter was currently working on the transfiguration essay that Minerva had assigned earlier that week.

Albus stroked his beard. Maybe…

Suddenly Albus twitched in his seat. Something was happening. Almost impossible to feel for someone not as sensitive to magic as himself, but something was happening. A tiny amount of magic was flowing into and out of young Harry.

Albus stared.

Harry's expression slowly changed — almost beyond his ability to detect, but the change was there. A tiny hint of concern, of worry. And a tiny leak in the boy's mind.

Albus continued to watch and the magic continued to flow into the boy. Then, the magic started flowing out of the boy, in the same minute amounts.

What was going on?

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Daphne and Hermione crept through the undergrowth of the forbidden forest, careful to always stay under the cloak as they made their way to their target.

They rounded the next tree trunk and Daphne's heart broke.

The unicorn lay there on its side, silver blood everywhere, its chest rising and falling in time with its sad little whines.

"Gogogo," Hermione whispered.

They quickly made their way over to the animal, wading their way through the long greenery of the clearing, still hidden under the cloak.

When they arrived, Hermione groaned. "It's so deep — and unicorns are highly magical creatures already. I don't know if I have enough magic to make this work."

"Please, just try."

Hermione pointed her ash and dragon heartstring wand at the animal from under the cloak. "Concrescat sanguinem!"

Slowly, the silvery blood started to dry around the wound, but the longer Hermione held the spell on the animal, the quicker the blood flowed out. Suddenly, the clot gave way, and the wound opened up again. Hermione eyes watered. "It's too much. I can't do it."

The unicorn gave a loud whinny.

Daphne looked around frantically for anything that might help them, and then stopped and saw what they were sitting knee deep in. She shook Hermione's arm. "Hermione. Look around you!"

Hermione tore her tear-filled eyes from the dying unicorn and gasped. Daphne grabbed one of the nearest plants and started to shred it with her wand. They were sitting in a Merlin damned field of huntsman's sorrow the size of one of the Hogwart's greenhouses.

Hermione quickly joined her and moments later they were packing the shredded herb into the wound on the animal's side. Hermione pointed her wand at the wound again. "Sano caro!"

Slowly, painfully slowly, the wound started to knit itself together, the wound closed, and the blood flow slowed, slowed, and stopped.

Hermione let out a deep breath, and flicked a diagnostic charm over the animal.

"All good?" Daphne asked.

Hermione turned to her, tears leaking out the sides of her eyes. "No, Daphne. It wasn't enough. She's still dying. She lost too much blood and I don't know what else to do. We don't have any blood replenishers."

"I…" Daphne felt a lump form in her throat. "There must be something we can do!"

Hermione let out a small sob. "I don't know!"

Daphne frantically looked around again. There had to be something, but there was only the huntsman's sorrow, the unicorn, them, the cloak, and the pools of silvery blood still soaking the ground, and trailing away into the forest.

She looked down where the unicorn blood had already started to soak in the silk of her robes where she had knelt down on the ground.

That… that couldn't work… could it?

"Hermione!"

Hermione looked up at her.

"The unicorn blood! Give it to her!"

Hermione looked confused for a moment before her eyes widened. "Will that work?"

"I don't know, but what else is there to lose?"

Hermione wiped her nose on her sleeve, and nodded.

Daphne transfigured a small trough from surrounding dirt and soil.

"Accio unicorn blood!"

Unicorn blood soared through the air at them, and they managed to catch, at least some of it in the trough, while being very careful not to accidentally drink any themselves.

Daphne put the trough down in front of the unicorn, which looked up at her with pain filled eyes. "C'mon," she said, stroking the animal's nose, "I know you wouldn't normally do this, but this is your only chance. Please. Don't die."

The unicorn looked up at her again, and with Daphne and Hermione's help, managed to raise its head and, lowing it back into the trough, started to drink. And as it drank, the animal started to glow silver white.

Hermione flicked another diagnostic charm over the glowing animal, let out a massive smile, and gave Daphne the thumbs up.

Daphne's heart soared. They'd done it.

And it was at exactly that moment when a darkened figure, face hidden by a long black hooded cloak, descended from the sky not a dozen metres from where they sat, slowly clapping.

Terror gripped Daphne's soul. She didn't wait to see what the corpse possessing Dark Lord was going to do. She shielded, leapt for Hermione, grabbed the cloak from her, covered them both in it, grabbed her friend, and stumbled to where she'd just been, moments before a dozen spells splashed at and around where they'd just been standing, only seconds earlier.

Hermione shrieked.

Obviously alerted by her friend's cry, Quirrellmort threw more spells in their direction.

Daphne shielded, managing to stop one whole spell before the shield shattered and three different spells hit the cloak, flowing around them and out the other side, but not before one hit Hermione, opening up a huge cut in her shoulder, and causing her to cry out again.

Suddenly, the still glowing unicorn was on its feet and charging.

Voldemort shot up into the air to evade and the unicorn pivoted around, stopping right in front of them.

Without needing to think, Daphne hoisted herself up onto its back, grabbing a still whimpering Hermione with the help of one almighty Accio.

The unicorn bolted away, the girls desperately clinging on as hard as they could, curses and spells raining down around it them.

She sent a series of frantic pulses of magic into her lightning bolt ring. 'LV'.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Dumbledore was still trying to work out was what going on when suddenly a small eruption of magic came from the boy. Not the subtle mystery from before, but a simple flare of determination.

Harry Potter stood up quickly. "My apologies, Headmaster, I need to use the bathroom, if I may be excused." He turned to go.

Albus twitched. "No, I think not, Mister Potter. Please sit back down and continue."

Potter ignored him.

Albus sighed and flicked his wrist, causing the large double doors to the classroom to slam shut and bolt themselves.

Harry Potter froze.

Albus got to his feet and walked up the other passageway to the main doors. Reaching them, he turned back to look at the boy, whose facial expression was now so blank that Albus couldn't detect a single emotion on it. It was as though Harry had completely closed himself off from anything and everything in the world.

"Please go back to your seat, Mister Potter."

Harry Potter didn't move. "I need to leave."

Albus frowned, still standing between Harry and the room's only exit. "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, Mister Potter. You. May. Not. Leave."

The blank facial expression lasted all of a few more moments before being replaced by a flash-flood of raw, uncontrolled magic, and one simple overriding emotion. Terror.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Ploughing through the forbidden forest on the back of a glowing unicorn, Daphne risked a glance behind her and gave a whimper of her own. The Dark Lord flew around them just like Harry could, just as agile as any broomstick, managing to keep pace despite the many forest obstacles.

The unicorn flowed through the woods like water.

Daphne couldn't help thinking that riding bareback at this speed should be far more uncomfortable than it actually was. Time seemed to slow down and moments stretched to eternity. She wasn't sure how long the chase lasted, but it felt like forever. In the darkness of the deep woods, every spell flash felt like a supernova in the back of her eyeballs.

Then, after what seemed an age, they danced around another bush, into a clearing and what Daphne saw ahead made her heart stop. Six centaurs, tall and powerful, stood in a semi-circle, their bows drawn and pointing right at them.

Not seeming to care, their pure-light mount continued straight on, dashed past the taut row of bristling death, and screeched to a stop behind the line.

Voldemort zoomed into the clearing, and, without even seeming to hesitate, made a large upwards curve, straight up into the sky, as six arrow heads zipped straight through where his borrowed body had been, only moments earlier.

And then the clearing was silent.

From behind her, Hermione mumbled, "concrescat sanguinem."

The centaurs all turned to them.

"Umm… hi?"

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"Mister Potter, control yourself!" Albus roared through the whirlwind of wild magic pouring off the young sorcerer. Chairs and tables lay smashed all around him. He flicked his wand again, shielding against yet another flying desk.

Harry Potter stood in the middle of an almost completely destroyed classroom. His posture was like a caged animal, eyes white with mindless terror, magic totally out of control, and Albus knew the boy was going into full scale magical meltdown — the pathway to his core had snapped open and his body was desperately trying—and failing—to contain the totality of his magic, every single Merlin being unloaded from his core, all at once.

Albus cursed and tried to shoot a stunner at the boy, which had about as much effect as hitting a steel door with a feather. He transfigured the stone in the floor to form a solid egg around the boy, only for it to be torn through like paper.

The magical build-up was ridiculous.

"Albus!" Minerva's voice shouted from the other side of the bolted door. "What's going on!"

"Minerva!" he shouted. "Clear the area! Get all students away! Now!"

— DP & SW: TFoP —

"Thank you for saving us." Daphne said.

The centaurs all looked between each other before what seemed to be leader stepped forward. "It is not we who saved you, young seer, but the stars."

Daphne's eyes widened. They knew she was practising divination. That was supposed to be, like, super top secret knowledge. "Umm…"

The centaurs all looked to the sky, but didn't say anything more.

Under her, the unicorn let out a little snuffling noise.

Hermione was still tending to her shoulder.

"Jupiter shines brightly tonight."

Daphne frowned. Angelystor hadn't taught her anything about astrology and their astronomy classes were of questionable helpfulness. "Is that good?"

The leader, large and chestnut coloured, looked down at her.

"The last time around, it was Pluto, and the time before that, was Mars."

"The last time?"

"The stars carry messages of their changes, young seer — changes in space — changes in time."

The words crashed into Daphne like a hammer. "Y-y-you know?" she squeaked.

"Around and around you go, will you ever get it right? I hope for our sakes, that you will."

"W-we intend to."

"I'm sure you do." The leader looked around at his fellows again before turning back. He sighed. "Well, I understand that your kind set great store by trades. This thing for that thing. I would trade with you, Lady Slytherin."

Daphne was suddenly on guard. "Trade?"

"For saving your lives, young fillies, we simple ask that you remember that, for us, the forest is our home, and always will be."

"You want me to remember that?"

"Yes."

Daphne thought for a moment. "Very well. I, as Lady Slytherin, will remember that the forest is your home and always will be."

The centaur bowed. "That is all we ask."

Suddenly, from far in the distance, there was an almighty BOOM that shook the ground under them, and caused leaves to fall from trees.

"What was that?" Daphne asked, alarmed.

"That, was your lord."

Daphne and Hermione stilled, wide eyed. Harry!

"I daresay, he is in need of your help, young ones."

And with an adrenaline fuelled jolt, the unicorn surged into motion again, Daphne and Hermione no longer thinking of anything, but getting to their friend and leader.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Dumbledore stood up from where he'd been crouching in a protective bubble of almost pure magic, reinforced by transfigured stonework, and conjured titanium. The room was a mess. Another large beam crashed down to the ground in a heap of flaming wreckage.

He quickly made his way over to the boy, now laying unconscious in a crumpled heap. That reaction had been the most extreme thing he'd ever seen, and he'd seen a lot. Magical meltdowns weren't unknown, but they rarely happened to people who had such apparently large cores.

He pointed his wand at the young boy's head. "Legilimens." His probe hit something as solid as steel and bounced straight off. He stumbled back, shocked. What in Merlin's name?

"Albus!" Minerva appeared by his side, stepping over rubble to do so. "What happened?" She caught sight of Harry. "Oh, my goodness!"

"He needs medical help, Minerva. Can you take him up to the hospital wing?"

Minerva McGonagall nodded, "Certainly."

Albus Dumbledore watched his number two levitate the unconscious boy and leave the room.

Mmmm… now what to do?

— DP & SW: TFoP —

Hermione and Daphne charged up to the school, pausing only for cleaning charms to get rid of as much unicorn blood as possible and turning their robes inside out to hide the rest. They ran past an incensed Filch, was screamed at them about at it being almost curfew, and ran down to the Slytherin common room, only to find Harry wasn't there. They then ran to the one other place they though he might be… the hospital wing.

"Harry!" Hermione and Daphne cried in unison upon entering the wing.

"Miss Granger! Miss Greengrass!" The matron stormed over to them. "Keep your voices down. You, Miss Granger, I expect you to know better."

Hermione wasn't listening though. "What happened to Harry?"

"Some kind of magical overloading." Madam Pomfrey made an unamused cluck sound with her tongue. "Blew up one of the classrooms on the fourth floor."

Daphne took up position on Harry's right side. "Is he going to be okay?"

"Yes, with time and rest. It's very difficult to tell, of course, but he'll probably be up and about by as soon as tomorrow morning, as insane as that may be."

Daphne sagged with relief. She saw Hermione do the same. She could remember the last time something like this had happened—when Harry had been trapped at the Weasley's—but it hadn't been this bad then.

They both took one of his hands in theirs and sat down to wait for as long as they could, before Madam Pomfrey eventually kicked them out.

— DP & SW: TFoP —

In a corner of the hospital wing, disillusioned and silenced, Albus Dumbledore watched the two young ladies eventually leave with mixed feelings. Such shows of loyalty and friendship were admirable, and in any other circumstance, he'd be beside himself with joy. But right now, it could not be happening at a worse time.

He'd spent the last few hours thinking about what had happened and had come to the conclusion that Harry had not only shown himself to be powerful, charismatic, and likeable, but he was also keeping secrets, and had occlumency barriers far stronger than anything he'd ever seen before. Not only that, but all those normal memories and feelings that Albus had been plucking from the boy's mind up to now were obviously fake. An extra layer of shielding against legilimency attacks that only the very, very best occlumens could pull off.

That combined with the boy's apparent instability, as made clear by tonight's events, lead him to one painful conclusion. The lad was dangerous. Far too dangerous for the status quo to be allowed to stand. But what was he to do? Lily and James would never allow him to be pulled from Hogwarts, not without an obvious event that showed something had gone wrong. That would go counter to everything he'd told them.

But he needed Harry to be somewhere safer. Somewhere he could keep an eye on him, where Harry couldn't just run away, where he couldn't build up influence the way Tom had. And where Dumbledore could grab the boy when he was needed to square up against Tom again, after the experiment with the stone had run its course.

He stared at the blank wall of the hospital wing.

And then it came to him.

He let out a long, depressed sigh. Of course, that was were he could maneuver for young Harry to be placed, as horrific as it would be… Azkaban.

— End of Chapter Twenty-eight —