Harry Potter and the Claw of the Raven

Chapter Eight

Harry missed breakfast on the second Tuesday of May. It was an accident, he and Takashi had decided to try and change their morning exercise and had underestimated how long it would take them to run around lake. He didn’t mind missing breakfast, though he was more worried about being late to Charms.

Harry ended up only being five minutes late and was relieved when all Flitwick did was take off five points. Harry thought was actually really nice, considering the fact that half the class had stood up to bowed to Harry when he entered, completely interrupting Flitwick’s lecture.

Harry nodded at his classmates and then sat at the desk next to Terry’s and pulled out his quill and parchment. Looking up he realised that Terry was giving him a weird look.

“What?” Harry whispered.

Terry didn’t say anything, he just slid a copy of the Daily Prophet across the desk to Harry.

Lord Sirius Black to Receive a Trial

Harry hid his excited grin. Baknog had done it! Not that the article mentioned the goblin anywhere. Instead there were quotes from Lord Malfoy, Lady Bones and Minister Fudge. Apparently they were all horrified that Lord Black hadn’t received a trial and were eager to remedy it. Lady Bones and Minister Fudge didn’t seem to think that Lord Black was innocent, but Lord Malfoy’s quote seemed to suggest that he did. Apparently Lord Crouch was the man responsible for Lord Black’s imprisonment, but he had refused to comment.

The trial would be in three days and Harry couldn’t wait!

After Charms was finished, Terry turned to Harry with a sympathetic expression. “It’s awful, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Harry nodded firmly. “I can’t believe they never gave Lord Black a trial.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Terry said with a frown. “I meant that it’s awful that they’re bringing it all up again. It must be really hard for you.”

Harry stared at his friend in confusion. “Why would it be hard for me?”

“He betrayed your parents.” Terry exclaimed in a hushed voice. “It must be awful to have it all brought up again.”

Harry disagreed, but no matter what he said everyone seemed determined that Lord Black was guilty.

Only Draco understood why it was good news, so Harry spent the three days until the trial in his company. The Ravenclaws kept giving him pitying glances – even Takashi.

Draco began teaching Harry the etiquette for interacting with Lord Black. According to him, and the book that Lady Malfoy sent, everything was different because he was Lord Black’s heir. The book Lady Malfoy sent was really helpful, especially since it was written by Arcturus Black II, one of Lord Black’s ancestors, and was particularly relevant to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black.

The day of the trial was even worse and Harry was tempted to skip all his classes just to avoid all the students pitying looks. Even the Professors seemed to feel sorry for him, the only Professor who didn’t treat him differently was Snape.

By the end of classes, Harry was fed up with it all and stalked his way into the abandoned classroom where he was supposed to meet Draco.

Draco looked impressed. “You should get angry more often. No one would doubt you were the Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble Houses of Black and Potter if you always walked like that.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “Now is not the time, Draco.”

Draco just grinned. “See, like that. That’s what I’ve been trying to teach you. Who knew all you needed to act like the Black Heir was to get angry.”

Harry sighed with annoyance. He had to admit that it felt pretty good though. Draco had been trying to teach him how to behave properly, but he hadn’t been able to do it until now.

“Come on, Heir Black.” Draco told him. “Mother arranged for us to spend the evening in Uncle Severus’ office. That way she can keep up updated using the floo.”

“And Professor Snape doesn’t mind?” Harry asked. He and the professor had been getting along relatively well during his meditation sessions, but he didn’t seem like the kind of man who would enjoy having two first years in his office for the evening.

“He said it was alright.” Draco told him. “He is my godfather, remember.”

The professor wasn’t in his office when they arrived, but Draco knew the password and so the boys let themselves in and sat on the couch waiting for news.

“How was Transfiguration?” Harry asked. “Wasn’t today a theory day for your class?”

“Yes.” Draco agreed. “It was alright. I didn’t really get it.”

“What didn’t you get?” Harry asked curiously.

Draco grimaced. “All of it. It didn’t make sense.”

“You were doing transforming an objects state, right?” Harry asked. “We did the practical today, changing ice into water.”

“Couldn’t you just cast a fire spell?” Draco asked.

Harry laughed. “Weasley tried. He got really sick of not getting spell and so tried to whisper the fire spell when McGonagall’s back was turned.”

“What happened?” Draco grinned.

“He overpowered it.” Harry smirked. “Almost set his desk on fire.”

“But if he hadn’t overpowered it, it would have worked.” Draco pointed out.

“For water, yes.” Harry admitted. “But what if you wanted to turn this couch into liquid? A fire spell would just set it on fire.”

“Why would I want to turn the couch into liquid?” Draco asked.

“Okay, bad example.” Harry admitted. “Let’s say you’re duelling over a stone floor. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to be able to make the stone under the other wizard’s feet liquid? You could wait until he had sunk into it and then make it solid again and he wouldn’t be able to move.”

“An apt description, Mr. Potter.” Professor Snape commented from the door.

Harry stood up quickly. “Sorry, Professor, I didn’t see you.”

“Merry meet, Mr. Potter, Draco.” Snape bowed to Harry and then his godson.

“Merry meet, Professor.” Harry nodded in reply.

“Merry meet, Uncle Severus.” Draco greeted the Professor. “How was your day?”

“The best thing that can be said about my day is that nobody died.” Snape scowled. “Potions is not a subject for students easily distracted by Wizengamot trials.”

Harry grimaced remembering the two melted, and one exploded, cauldrons that had resulted from his class alone.

“Did mother mention when she might firecall?” Draco asked his godfather.

“I suggested that she firecall at four thirty.” Snape said, settling himself behind his desk. “Which is five minutes from now.”

Harry really didn’t want to wait another five minutes.

“So, explain this transfiguration thing.” Draco ordered him.

Harry, still feeling a bit grumpy, raised an eyebrow at Draco’s tone as he sat back down.

Draco just smirked. “Sorry, what I meant to say is, ‘please, Heir Black, I would be honoured if you would consider explaining the transfiguration theory’.”

Harry grimaced. “Sorry, I didn’t meant to be a prat.”

“Don’t apologise!” Draco exclaimed. “I’ve been trying to teach you how to act like this for months! I just hope you remember how when this is all over.”

Harry grinned slightly. “It is sort of fun.”

“I know.” Draco grinned in reply. “Come on, explain this stuff.”

“Okay,” Harry searched for an analogy to use. “Imagine that everything is made up of tiny quidditch balls.”

“What kind?” Draco asked curiously.

“Well that depends.” Harry explained. “Solid stuff, like metal, or this couch, is made up of quaffles. But liquid stuff is made up of bludgers.”

“What about snitches?” Draco interrupted.

“That’s what air and stuff is made up of.” Harry answered. “But we won’t be learning about that this year.”

“How do you know about it then?” Draco asked.

“I read a book about it a few months ago.” Harry told him.

“Ravenclaw.” Draco smirked.

“Anyway,” Harry glared at him for the interruption. “The important difference between the balls isn’t their size, it’s how fast they’re going. Solid things have slow moving quaffles, but liquid has fast moving bludgers.”

“So air has really fast moving snitches?” Draco asked.

“Yes.” Harry nodded. “And speed and heat kind of go together. So when you melt ice with fire, what you’re doing is using the heat to turn the quaffles into bludgers.”

“Alright.” Draco nodded. “So when we make ice into water, we’re turning the bludgers into quaffles.”

“Exactly.” Harry agreed. “But heat doesn’t always change the kind of balls, sometimes it just sets them on fire. Like I said, casting a fire spell at the couch wouldn’t make the quaffles into bludgers, it would just set it on fire.”

“So the transfiguration spell does it a different way?” Draco asked.

“Right. The transfiguration spell magically turns the quaffles into bludgers, making it liquid.” Harry explained.

“Did you manage it?” Draco asked.

Harry smirked. “Of course I did.”

“Show me then.” Draco told him.

Harry looked towards Professor Snape for permission.

“Here.” Professor Snape levitated a parchment weight across to him.

Harry looked at the stone weight nervously, he’d only done it with ice.

“Come on.” Draco said excitedly.

Harry placed the weight on the stone floor and pulled out his wand before concentrating on his magic.

“Liquidam.”

“Wow.” Draco was staring at the small puddle of liquid stone. “That’s brilliant.”

“Can reverse the process?” Professor Snape asked.

“No, sir.” Harry answered apologetically. “Sorry.”

Professor Snape came over to where they were standing and with a flick of his wand changed the puddle back into a parchment weight.

“That was a very succinct explanation, Mr. Potter.” Snape told him. “Ten points to Ravenclaw.”

Harry grinned happily. “Thanks, Professor.”

The fire suddenly flared green and Harry jumped to his feet in surprise – there was a head floating in flames.

“Merry meet, mother.” Draco smiled at her, bowing slightly.

Harry quickly pulled up his sleeves and bowed carefully. “Merry meet, Lady Malfoy.”

“Merry meet, Mr. Potter.” Lady Malfoy nodded to him and then to Professor Snape who had also bowed.

“How is the trial going?” Draco asked excitedly. “Is it finished yet?”

“No, Draconus.” Lady Malfoy shook her head gently. “However, the evidence has been presented the Wizengamot are now deliberating.”

“How long will it take, Lady Malfoy?” Harry asked nervously.

“I don’t know.” Lady Malfoy sighed quietly. “However, I suspect that they will be no longer than three hours.”

Harry grimaced, three hours seemed like a long time to wait.

“What do you think they will decide?” Draco asked.

“I would not wish to speculate.” Lady Malfoy said firmly. “I will firecall you when I have more information. Merry part.”

“Merry part.” Harry returned with another bow and watched as Lady Malfoy’s head vanished from the fire.

“What shall we do while we wait?” Draco asked. “How about chess?”

“I don’t know how to play.” Harry admitted.

Draco looked horrified. “I’ll teach you then. May we use your chess set, Uncle Severus?”

“If you must.” Professor Snape answered with a sigh, returning to his desk. “I ask that you do so quietly, however, as I will be grading essays.”

Draco agreed and moved the furniture around so that he and Harry could sit on opposite sides of the chessboard.

It was a complicated game, and Harry was terrible at it, but by their third game he thought he was starting to get the hang of it.

When dinner time came, Professor Snape arranged to have their dinner sent up – after which Draco and Harry played yet another game of chess. Harry was still losing every game, but he was pretty sure that he was getting better.

It was almost eight, when Lady Malfoy’s head appeared in the fire again.

“They have declared him innocent.” She said immediately, not even giving them time to stand up and bow to her. “They’ve taken him to St. Mongos to be treated.”

Harry didn’t think he had ever felt so relieved in his life. He didn’t know how to react.

“That’s brilliant!” Draco exclaimed loudly.

“Thank you, Lady Malfoy.” Harry said, bowing to her. “I…I…just…thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Potter.” Lady Malfoy smiled at him. “Though perhaps you ought to call me Cousin Narcissa.”

“I am honoured, Cousin Narcissa.” Harry bowed again. “Please call me Harry.”

“Thank you, Harry, I will.” Cousin Narcissa agreed.

“How is he?” Professor Snape asked, and Harry realised that the professor did not look nearly at pleased by the news as Draco or Cousin Narcissa.

“Better than expected.” Cousin Narcissa answered. “It quite astonishing actually. He will still need to spend some time recovering of course.”

“Of course.”

7-7-7

By the time Harry returned to his common room he had decided not to tell anyone the good news – they probably wouldn’t think it was good news anyway.

He told Takashi the next morning during their run. His older friend was surprised, but not condemning. Takashi seemed to understand that is was good news for Harry.

The rest of the school wasn’t so understanding. When the Daily Prophet at breakfast the hall burst into conversation.

“Innocent? That can’t be right!”

“But he killed all those people!”

“Those bloody nobles get away with murder – here’s the proof.”

“Poor Potter. What if Black decides to finish the job?”

Harry ate his cereal expressionlessly, trying to ignore all the whispers around him.

“Mr. Potter.” Flitwick came to stand behind him. “Come with me please.”

Harry pushed away the rest of his cereal and stood up, before following his Head of House out of the hall.

“The headmaster has asked to see you.” Flitwick explained to him as he led him towards the corridor with the stone gargoyles.

“Did he say why, Professor?” Harry asked nervously, he really didn’t want another meeting with Dumbledore. The last one had been weird enough.

“I believe that it is connected to the headline in the Daily Prophet.” Flitwick said gently before sending Harry up the winding staircase to Dumbledore’s office.

Once at the top of the stairs, Harry knocked quietly on the door.

“Come in, Harry.” Dumbledore called.

Harry pushed the door open and stopped when he realised that Dumbledore wasn’t alone. Cousin Narcissa was there too, Harry recognised her from the fire, as was a tall blond wizard and a stern looking witch.

Harry shoved up his sleeves quickly and stepped into the room.

Dumbledore stepped forward, in front of the other three, and beamed at Harry. “Welcome, my boy. I don’t believe you know my visitors.”

Harry looked up and saw Cousin Narcissa catch his eye and shake her head slightly. “No, sir.”

“Well then.” Dumbledore gestured him forward. “This is Madam Bones, she is the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

Harry recognised her job description from one of Draco’s lessons and bowed to her. “Merry meet, Lady Bones.”

Lady Bones looked surprised as she nodded to him. “Merry meet, Mr. Potter.”

Dumbledore was also looking surprised, and a little put out. “And this is Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy.”

Harry looked at the headmaster in surprise at the introduction, but then he hadn’t introduced Lady Bones by her title either.

Harry turned to Draco’s parents and bowed first to Lord Malfoy, thankful for all the times Draco had made him practise it, and then to Cousin Narcissa.

“Merry meet, Lord Malfoy, Lady Malfoy.”

“Merry meet, Mr. Potter.” Lord Malfoy nodded to him.

For an instant Harry thought he saw the headmaster grimace, but when he looked again the older wizard was beaming at him.

“Excellent, excellent.” Dumbledore exclaimed. “Now, I imagine you’re wondering why I called you up here, my boy.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Sirius Black has been released from Azkaban.” Dumbledore started before peering over his glasses at Harry.

“Yes, sir.” Harry nodded. “He’s innocent.”

“Yes,” Dumbledore sighed sadly. “If only I’d known. If they had told me about their plan, well, I might have been able to do something earlier.”

Lady Bones frowned at the headmaster. “Were you aware that Lord Black was your godfather, Mr. Potter?”

“Yes, Lady Bones.” Harry answered.

“Lord Black has asked to see you, Mr. Potter.” Lady Bones told him.

“Now, now, Amelia,” Dumbledore put in. “As I was telling you earlier, I really don’t think it is a good idea for young Harry to leave school grounds. There’s no reason why Sirius can’t wait for the holidays to see Harry. That would give Harry sometime to get used to the idea.”

“I would like to him, my lady.” Harry put in quickly.

“I’m afraid, I can’t allow it.” Dumbledore shook his head sadly.

Lord Malfoy stepped forward. “I’m afraid you don’t have a choice, Headmaster Dumbledore. Lord Black has requested to see his heir.”

Harry looked at Draco’s father in awe. Everything about the man was perfect, from his hair, to his robes, to his posture and his tone. He sounded so confident and important. Harry wanted to be like him. He bet nobody told Lord Malfoy what to do, or locked him in a cupboard, or hit him.

“It is a Saturday, Dumbledore.” Lady Bones told the Headmaster. “We will return Mr. Potter before lunch.”

“I’m sure Harry has homework he needs to do.” Dumbledore argued.

“But not much, sir.” Harry put in. “And I can do it this afternoon or tomorrow.”

Dumbledore sighed sadly. “Very well. Though perhaps I should come along. Just to ensure Harry’s safety.”

Lady Bones glared at the headmaster. “Are you suggesting that my Aurors and I am unable to protect him, Dumbledore?”

“No, no, not at all, Amelia.” Dumbledore shook his head. “Certainly not.”

“I should hope not.” Lady Bones snapped.

“Perhaps Mr. Potter should go get ready.” Cousin Narcissa suggested gently.

Harry looked down at his muggle jeans and hoody and winced. “What should I wear, Lady Malfoy.”

“I would suggest some robes. “Cousin Narcissa answered.

Harry nodded, thankful that he had listened to Baknog and bought some robes other than his school uniform.

“Be as quick as you can.” Lady Bones instructed him.

“Yes, my lady.” Harry glanced at Dumbledore and took his resigned expression as permission to leave.

Harry walked quickly out the door and then raced down the stairs and towards the Ravenclaw Tower. He was so excited! He was going to meet his godfather! And his godfather had actually asked to meet him.

There was no one else in the dorms when Harry got there so he opened his trunk and pulled out a dark green robe that he had bought over the summer. The woman in the shop had told him that went with his eyes.

At first the robe was too small for him and Harry couldn’t help but grin at the reminder that he was growing. Fortunately, Bakrog had suggested he ask to have a re-sizing charm place on the robe. It wouldn’t last forever, but for now at least the robe grew until it fit him.

Harry cast a spell Draco had taught him to keep his sleeves rolled up, and his forearms warm, exchanged his sneakers for his school shoes and then, after a failed attempt to squash his hair flat, walked quickly back to Dumbledore’s office.

Cousin Narcissa nodded approvingly when he entered. “Much better.”

Harry bowed to the Malfoys and Lady Bones again before looking at Dumbledore for instruction.

Dumbledore wasn’t smiling anymore, but he nodded to Harry. “Have a good day, my boy.”

“Thank you, sir.” Harry nodded back and then turned his attention to Lady Bones who standing near the fireplace.

“We will be travelling by floo, Mr. Potter.” Cousin Narcissa told him. “Have you ever travelled by floo before?”

“Yes, my lady.” Harry nodded. “But only once and I fell over.”

“That is to be expected.” Lady Bones told him with a small smile. “You will get better with time. The floo address is ‘St. Mongos Specialty Five’ understand?”

Harry nodded. “Yes, my lady.”

“I will go first, and Lord and Lady Malfoy will follow you.” Lady Bones told him before grabbing a handful of floo powder from a box near the fire and throwing it in the fire.

Once Lady Bones was gone, Harry grabbed his own handful and threw it into the fire.

“St. Mongos Specialty Five.” He said, carefully enunciating every syllable.

There was a flash of green and then there was the sucking and spinning motion again. The main difference, between this trip and his first one, was the arms that caught him when the floo spit him out again.

Harry blushed when he saw that it was Lady Bones who caught him and stepped away from her quickly.

“Thank you, my lady.”

“You’re welcome.” Lady Bones studied him for a minute. “I am most impressed by your manners, Mr. Potter.”

Harry ducked his head. “Thank you, my lady. Draco has been teaching me.”

“Draco Malfoy?” Lady Bones clarified. “Susan did mention that the two of you were getting along well.”

The floo flared green as Cousin Narcissa stepped out gracefully.

“I’m glad to see you made it, Harry.” Cousin Narcissa smiled at him. “Now, come over here. I want to do something about your hair.”

Harry flushed as he obeyed. “I keep trying to push it down, but it just pops up again.”

“Yes, I imagine it would.” Cousin Narcissa smiled. “Your father’s hair was very similar.”

Harry looked up quickly. “You knew my dad?”

“Not well.” Cousin Narcissa admitted as she began playing with Harry’s hair. “But we were at Hogwarts at the same time, though I was a few years older than him.”

The floo flared green again and Lord Malfoy stepped out with a sneer. He moved to stand next to Lady Bones and the talked quietly for a few minutes.

When Cousin Narcissa was finally finished with his hair she transfigured something from her pocket into a mirror and handed it to him. Harry looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe his reflection. His hair looked good. It was different from Draco’s, but it still looked orderly.

“Thank you, Cousin Narcissa!” Harry grinned up at her as he returned the mirror. “It looks brilliant.”

“You’re welcome, dear.” Cousin Narcissa told him as she returned the mirror to its original form and then led him over to where Lord Malfoy and Lady Bones were talking.

Lady Bones nodded when she saw Harry. “Much better.”

“Thank you, Lady Bones.” Harry smiled at her.

“Are you ready, Mr. Potter?” Lady Bones asked.

Harry nodded quickly.

“Come along then.” Lady Bones lead Harry through a door and then down a hall. “You must remember that he has been locked up with Dementors for ten years. He isn’t entirely himself.”

“Yes, my lady.” Harry nodded.

“Would you like one of us to go in with you?” Lady Bones asked as they stopped outside a door.

Harry considered it. Now that he was here, he was feeling pretty scared. What if Lord Black was like Uncle Vernon? What if he yelled at him, or hit him?

“Even if we don’t come in with you, we will still be watching.” Lady Bones told him, gesturing to a big window that Harry realised showed another room.

Harry peered through the window and saw a large bed with a skinny man lying in it. “Is that him?”

“Yes.” Cousin Narcissa answered.

Harry studied the man carefully. Lord Black’s hair was long and messy and he was very pale. He was reading from a piece of parchment.

“I think I want to go in on my own.” Harry decided.

“Very well.” Lady Bones nodded. “Are you ready?”

Harry took a deep breath and then nodded.

Lady Bones opened the door and Harry slowly walked into the room.

Lord Black looked up from the parchment with a flinch and then beamed at Harry.

“Are you Harry?” He asked and Harry noticed that his godfather’s voice was hoarse.

“Yes, my lord.” Harry answered, carefully bowing the way Draco had taught him.

Lord Black stared at him blankly for a moment before shaking his head quickly. “You don’t need to bow. Come sit beside me.”

Harry frowned in confusion, before moving to sit on the seat beside his godfather’s bed.

“I can’t believe it’s really you!” Lord Black exclaimed, staring at Harry. “You’re so grown up. Last time I saw you, you were still crawling.”

Harry wasn’t sure what to say.

“They tell me you’re at Hogwarts now.” Lord Black continued. “What house are you in?”

“Ravenclaw, my lord.” Harry answered.

Lord Black’s face dropped slightly. “Not Gryffindor then? And stop all this ‘my lord’ business. Call me Sirius.”

“Yes, sir.” Harry nodded obediently, his heart dropping. What if his godfather didn’t want a Ravenclaw heir? “And no, I’m not in Gryffindor.”

“Well, I suppose Ravenclaws alright.” Sirius admitted. “Your mother could have been a Ravenclaw, you know. Always had her head in a book.”

“Really?” Harry leaned forward in interest. “What was she like?”

“She was fiery.” Sirius answered, his eyes distant. “Very passionate. Never let me and James get away with being idiots.”

Harry smiled. “She sounds great.”

“Yeah.” Sirius seemed to shake himself out of his memories. “She was. So was your Dad. We were all in Gryffindor, us and Remus and the rat.”

Harry flinched at the loathing in godfather’s tone. He wondered who ‘the rat’ was and why Sirius hated him so much.

“We were best friends.” Sirius’ voice broke. “The Marauders. I was your Dad’s best man, you know.”

Harry hadn’t known. He watched his godfather in concern. The wizard seemed quite unstable.

“Have you met Remus, Harry?” Sirius asked suddenly.

“No, sir.” Harry shook his head quickly.

“Call me Sirius.” Sirius reminded him. “I wonder where he is.”

Harry had no idea what he was supposed to say.

“He was a great friend.” Sirius went on. “We thought he was the traitor, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t. It wasn’t him.”

Harry looked towards the door quickly, wondering whether he could leave soon.

“It was that rat!” Sirius spat vehemently. “He betrayed James and Lily! He betrayed us all!”

Harry watched in horror as his godfather burst into tears.

Suddenly the door opened and Lady Bones walked into the room. “Lord Black? I think it’s time for Mr. Potter to leave now.”

Sirius stopped crying and turned towards Harry his expression apologetic. “I’m sorry, Prongslet. I’m not great company at the moment.”

Harry stood up. “It’s okay. It was nice to meet you.”

Sirius beamed at him. “It was great to see you again, kiddo.”

Harry bowed to the wizard before following Lady Bones out of the room.

“Are you okay, Harry?” Cousin Narcissa asked when she saw him. “He’s not very well at the moment.”

Harry nodded quickly. “I’m fine. What’s wrong with him?”

“Dementors.” Lady Bones answered with a frown. “Frankly it’s astonishing that he’s not completely insane.”

“Will he get better?” Harry asked worriedly.

“Certainly.” Lady Bones reassured him. “He has agreed to visit a Mind Healer in Switzerland. He will leave in a few days and will likely stay for a year at minimum.”

Harry ducked his head so they wouldn’t see the disappointed tears that were prickling his eyes. Draco had told him that this would happen, but he’d been hoping that the other boy was wrong. He really didn’t want to have to go back to the Dursleys.

“Are you alright, Harry?” Cousin Narcissa asked softly.

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry nodded, blinking away the tears.

“We have a few hours until you need to be back at Hogwarts.” Cousin Narcissa said. “Is there anything you’d like to do?”

Harry nodded again. “Could we go to a bookshop?”

The three adults all chuckled.

“Certainly.” Lord Malfoy nodded seriously. “Is there any particular bookshop you wish to visit, Mr. Potter?”

“No, my lord.” Harry denied.

“I will leave you to it.” Lady Bones announced. “I really must get back to my office. It was very nice to meet you, Mr. Potter.”

Harry bowed to her. “Thank you, Lady Bones. It was nice to meet you too.”

Lady Bones smiled approvingly at him before bowing to the Malfoys. “Always good to see you, Lucius, Narcissa.”

“And you, Amelia.” Lord Malfoy returned with a nod that Harry noticed was even more graceful than Draco’s and Daphne Greengrass’s.

When Lady Bones was gone, Lord Malfoy led them back to the fireplace they had arrived through.

“The address is Diagon Alley, Mr. Potter.” He said firmly, offering Harry a container filled with floo powder. “Narcissa will go first, and I will follow you.”

Harry took a handful of powder and watched as Cousin Narcissa stepped into the fire and disappeared.

“Now you, Mr. Potter.”

Harry threw his powder on the fire and then stepped into it. “Diagon Alley.”

The travel was just like all the times before, only this time the arms that caught him belonged to Cousin Narcissa.

“Are you alright, dear?” She asked as she brushed soot off his robes.

“Yes thank you.” Harry smiled at her.

“You’re welcome.” Cousin Narcissa smiled as Lord Malfoy stepped out of the floo. “Perhaps we could have some tea before visiting the bookstore.”

“Of course.” Lord Malfoy agreed, offering Cousin Narcissa his arm. “Come along, Mr. Potter.”

Harry allowed Cousin Narcissa to take his hand and walked through the alley with them. After a few minutes, Lord Malfoy led them into a shop named ‘Guilford’s Tea’ and then, once at an empty table, pulled out a chair for his wife.

Harry was very thankful for his lessons with Draco as he sat down after Lord Malfoy. If he hadn’t been receiving lessons for months he wouldn’t have known that he was supposed to wait for the wizard to sit down.

“Draconus tells us that you are at the top of your year, Harry. You must study very hard.” Cousin Narcissa said after Lord Malfoy had ordered for them.

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry smiled shyly. “But I really like reading, so I don’t mind.”

“What is your favourite subject?” Cousin Narcissa asked.

Harry thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. Maybe potions? I like all my classes.”

“What do you like about potions?”

“It just makes sense.” Harry wasn’t entirely sure how to explain it.

“My favourite subject was Arithmancy.” Cousin Narcissa said. “It’s one of the classes you can choose in your third year. What subject did you like, Lucius?”

“History.” Lord Malfoy answered shortly. “Though Binns certainly left a lot to be desired.”

“Was, was he a ghost when you were teaching, my lord?” Harry stuttered nervously.

“Yes, he has been a ghost for more than a century.”

“He’s very boring.” Harry commented. “All he talks about are the Goblin wars. Though sometimes he includes facts that aren’t in the textbook.”

“I’m impressed.” Cousin Narcissa smiled. “I don’t think there was anyone who paid any attention to his lecturers when I was at Hogwarts.”

“I did.” Lord Malfoy told her.

“Yes, well, you were five years older than me, dear.” Cousin Narcissa smirked.

“Which house do you share the class with?” Lord Malfoy asked.

“Gryffindor.” Harry frowned. “They’re very disruptive.”

“I’m sure.” Lord Malfoy sneered.

7-7-7

After morning tea, Lord Malfoy took Harry to a bookshop he hadn’t seen before and let him look around for an hour.

There were so many books Harry wanted to buy, but decided to limit himself to ten. It was hard to decide which books to buy, but Lord Malfoy’s made it easier. Harry was particularly interested in the book on Occlumency – the idea that people might be able to read his mind was horrifying.

Lord Malfoy shrunk the books for Harry and told him to put them in his pocket. “You can have one of the older students enlarge them for you.”

After the bookshop, Harry, who was feeling more and more comfortable around the Malfoys, asked whether they could visit a pet shop before returning to Hogwarts.

The pet shop was incredible and completely chaotic. There were different sections for owls, kneazles, toads, rats and snakes.

“Can I look around for a while?” Harry asked the Malfoys.

“Certainly.” Cousin Narcissa agreed.

“Thanks.” Harry grinned at them. “I won’t take too long.”

Harry’s first stop was the owl section where he chose some owl treats for Hedwig. Then Harry went to the snake tanks. He’d been planning on buying himself a snake over the summer to help him practise Parselmagic, but since he was here there was no reason not to by one now.

:What are you looking at?:

Harry looked around quickly to see if anyone was nearby before turning his attention to the small snake that was coiled up in the tank in front of him. It was the most bizarre looking snake he had ever seen, its yellow scales were spiky looking.

:Did you say that?: He whispered.

The snake’s head rose quickly and he seemed to stare at Harry. :You speak.:

:Yes: Harry looked around again to make sure no one was watching.

Suddenly many voices began shouting.

:A speaker?:

:I never thought I would see the day.:

:He’s mine!:

:Over here, speaker!:

:I thought they were a myth!:

Harry jumped at the sudden noise and looked around again.

:Why are you so nervous?: The spiky snake asked.

:I don’t want anyone to see me talking to you.: Harry whispered. :People don’t like wizards who can speak to snakes.:

:Foolish wizards!: The snake snapped.

:Yeah.: Harry had to agree with that.

:I am Sarko.: The snake told him. :And my nest mate is Sativa.:

:Your nest mate?: Harry scanned the tank with his eyes. :Where is he?:

:She.: Sarko corrected him grumpily. :She is hiding behind the rock.:

:Oh.: Harry looked at the large red rock at the back of the enclosure. :Why?:’

:She does not like strangers.: Sarko answered.

:Merry meet, Sativa.: Harry said anyway.

:Do you have a snake?: Sarko asked.

:No.: Harry shook his head. :Not yet.:

Sarko scoffed. :You are a speaker. All speakers should have a snake.:

:I want one.: Harry told him. :I think I need one to cast Parselmagic. But we’re not allowed snakes at school, so it would have to be a secret.:

:You should take us. We could hide.: Sarko suggested. :No one would see us.:

:Leave the snakelet alone, Sarko.: A voice called from behind the red rock.

:Are you sure you could keep hidden?: Harry asked.

:Certainly.: A snake who looked a lot like Sarko slithered over the rock. :We are magical snakes.:

:Can you turn invisible?: Harry asked curiously.

Both snakes hissed with laughter. :No, snakelet.: Sativa told him. :But we have our ways.:

:Okay.: Harry smiled at them. :I’ll try and buy you then.:

Harry left the snake area cautiously, he didn’t want to see the Malfoys, and made his way to the counter. Thankfully the Malfoys were nowhere to be seen.

The witch behind the counter smiled at Harry. “How can I help you?”

“I would like to buy these owl treats and two snakes please.” Harry answered as politely as he could.

“Snakes?” The witch looked surprised. “Alright. Do you know which ones?”

“Yeah, the yellow spiky ones.” Harry told her.

“Are you sure?” The witch grimaced. “They’re Atheris Hispidas. They’re very venomous and very expensive.”

“How expensive?” Harry asked

“A hundred and eighty galleons for the pair.” The witch looked apologetic.

“Okay.” Harry nodded and pulled his Withdrawal Key out of his pocket.

The witch gave him a funny look. “I imagine you will need a tank?”

Harry grimaced, his dorm mates would definitely notice a tank. “No thanks. I’ve, uh, already got one.”

“Will you need any food for them?” The witch asked.

“Yeah, I guess. What sort of food would you suggest?”

“Mice or lizards would probably be your best bet.” The witch answered. “You could get a mixed pack.”

“Okay. Do I have to come in here to buy more? Or can I use my owl?” Harry asked.

“You can use your owl.” The witch grinned and pulled a piece of parchment out from under the desk handing it to Harry. “This is our order form. If you wait here I’ll grab you your snakes and food.”

Harry looked at the parchment while he waited. Snake food was expensive, he hoped the snakes could hunt for themselves most of the time. Except where would they hunt? What if someone saw them?

“Here you are.” The witch came out with a small sack and a wooden box. “The snakes are in the box and the snake food and owl treats are both in the sack. I’d keep the food in a status box if I were you, otherwise it’ll go off.”

“Thanks.” Harry grinned at her and pulled out his Withdrawal Key. “How much all up?”

“One hundred and ninety Galleons and four sickles.” The witch told him, placing a piece of parchment on the desk in front of her.

“Right.” Harry placed his key on the parchment and then used the knife the witch handed him to produce a drop of blood.

“Excellent.” The witch beamed at him. “Thank you very much. Be careful with those snakes! We are in no way responsible for any bites that you, or any other being, may receive from them.”

“Right.” Harry said again with a grimace. “Thanks.”

Harry picked up the box and the sack and walked through store again until he was hidden behind some shelves. He knelt down and opened the box.

:Merry meet.: He whispered into the box. :You can come out now.:

:Well done, speaker.: Sarko popped his head out.

:I need you to come out of the box so I can hide you.: Harry told the snake.

:Very well.: Sarko slithered out of the box and onto Harry’s bare forearm.

Harry shivered, it felt so weird. :Can you hide in my pockets for now?:

:If you wish.: Sativa slithered out of the box and allowed Harry to guide her to his pocket.

:Fine.: Sarko sounded sulky.

:Thanks.: Harry waited until Sarko had joined his nest mate in his pocket before standing up and picking up the sack of food.

It look Harry less than a minute to find the Malfoy’s talking quietly near the toad tanks.

“Are you ready, Harry?” Cousin Narcissa asked.

“Yes, Cousin Narcissa.” Harry nodded lifting up the sack to show her. “I’ve bought Hedwig some treats.”

“Hedwig is your owl?” Cousin Narcissa asked him as they began walking towards the shops exit.

“Yes, ma’am.” Harry made sure the Malfoy’s were between him and the witch who had sold him the snakes.

“Are you ready to return to Hogwarts, Mr. Potter?” Lord Malfoy asked him.

“Yes, my lord.” Harry walked with the Malfoy’s down the Alley. “Thank you both for all of this. It’s been wonderful.”

“You are welcome.” Cousin Narcissa smiled at him. “Now, regarding this summer.”

Harry really didn’t want to have to think about the fact that he would be returning to the Dursleys in two months.

“You will remember that I agreed to tutor you.” Cousin Narcissa continued. “I will be speaking to your relatives next month to arrange it with them.”

“They’re not very polite, ma’am.” Harry warned her with a grimace. “Maybe I should just sneak out and meet you somewhere.”

“Nonsense.” Cousin Narcissa denied. “I can certainly handle a few impolite muggles, Harry.”

Harry wasn’t worried about them hurting Cousin Narcissa, she was a witch. He just didn’t want anyone to find out how horrible they were.

“Here we are.” Lord Malfoy announced as they entered the floo area. “Would you like us to accompany you, Mr. Potter?”

“Thank you for the offer, my lord.” Harry bowed to him, thankful for all of Draco’s tutoring sessions. “But I will be fine.”

“Very well. Merry part, Mr. Potter.” Lord Malfoy nodded to him.

“Merry part, my lord.” Harry bowed again, first to Lord Malfoy and then to Cousin Narcissa. “Merry part, Cousin Narcissa.”

“Merry part, Harry.” Cousin Narcissa nodded to him with a smile. “Now off you go then. The floo address is ‘Hogwarts: Headmaster’s Office’.”

Harry grabbed a handful of powder and threw it into the fire before stepping into it. “Hogwarts: Headmaster’s Office.”

There were no arms to catch him on the other side and Harry fell face first onto the Headmaster’s rug. He could hear the snakes hissing in protest from his pocket.

“Harry, my boy.” The headmaster pulled him to his feet. “I trust you had a good visit.”

“Yes, thank you, sir.” Harry answered. “Apparently he’s going to go overseas to help him recover.”

“Yes, yes.” Dumbledore nodded. “I’m sure a mind healer will do Sirius plenty of good.”

Harry glanced at his watch, it was almost lunch time. “May I go, sir? I want to freshen up before lunch.”

“Of course, my boy. Off you go.” Dumbledore smiled at him.

Harry left the headmaster’s office and made his way back up to Ravenclaw tower.

“What has hands but cannot clap?” The Ravenclaw knocker asked when Harry reached the top of the stairs.

Harry thought about it for a while. “A clock.”

“Very good.” The knocker told him as the door swung open.

The Common Room was pretty full when Harry entered and he had only made it a few metres before someone noticed him.

“Harry!” Terry called from his place on a couch. “Over here.”

Harry sighed, but walked over to where Terry was sitting with Michael Corner and Rodney Johnson.

“Merry meet.” He greeted them.

“Merry meet.” They returned, as Terry and Michael both bowed.

“Why are you so dressed up?” Terry asked him.

“I went to see Lord Black.” Harry told them sitting on the couch beside Rodney.

“Seriously?”

“Cool!”

“What was he like?” The boys all exclaimed.

Harry couldn’t help but feel frustrated. A week ago they had been convinced that his godfather was a mass murderer and had been sending him pitying looks.

“He’s still recovering.” Harry told them. “He’s going to be going to a Mind Healers overseas for a while.”

“Makes sense.” Rodney commented. “It’s amazing that he’s not completely mad.”

Harry stood up. “I’m going to go get cleaned up before lunch.”

“Okay, see you.” Rodney grinned at him.

“Merry part.” Terry and Michael said.

“Merry part.”

Harry walked quickly to his dorm and sighed in relief when he saw it was empty. He sat on his bed and pulled the curtains around to ensure his privacy before pulling the two snakes out of his pocket.

:Are you alright?: Harry asked worriedly. :I’m really bad at flooing, I always fall over.:

:We’re fine.: Sarko told him. :Is this your school?:

:Yeah.: Harry nodded. :I bought you some food, but I couldn’t buy you a tank. People would notice it.:

Sarko slithered up Harry’s robes until his head was pressed against Harry’s neck. :Thank you, speaker, but we will hunt.:

:Be careful.: Harry tried not to shiver at feel of Sarko’s tongue flicking out and touching his neck. :I’ll get in trouble if anyone sees you. And you probably shouldn’t eat anyone’s pet.:

:We will.: Sativa ensured him. :We are not snakelets.:

Harry looked at his watch and saw that if was lunchtime. :I need to go.:

:Can we come with you?: Sarko asked him.

:Do you want to stay in my pocket again?: Harry asked.

:Yes.: Sarko told him, moving back down Harry’s body.

:Don’t fall over again.: Sativa instructed him.

Harry grinned. :I’ll try not to.:


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