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To Catch A Thief

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Harry dodged the man wearing black and kept running. He weaved between people on the sidewalk. The guy was quick but he was quicker and knew the streets better. He jumped up onto the trash bins, worked his way to the iron stairs of the warehouse. He climbed up the iron stairs glancing down once and saw the man in black looking around for him. He kept climbing. He made it to the roof and ran across the roofs, jumping over some of the gaps. This was the fifth day the man had found him.

He thought about that weird letter and the ones that followed that had his locations on it. Maybe? He grinned. He knew the owls would find him again tomorrow. He hoped it worked. The man was ruining his business.

_____________________________________The Next Morning_____________________

He was sitting under the bridge looking for the owls. He saw them incoming. They dumped a slew of letters and Harry began to change the addresses on each letter. He didn't open them instead he just handed them back to the owls. Once they were gone he went about his business. He did that for the next week. Honestly, were they really that lame? He had taken a few phone books and wrote down the names and addresses of random people from the different areas he worked. The owls arrived again but this time the letters felt different. Harry focused on the letters and watched as each one shined a bit and the funny feeling was gone. He wrote famous peoples names and locations on the letters this time. He hoped the Royal Family liked owls.

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"The Queen?" Minerva and the rest of the Heads of Houses were at a loss. Everything they had tried failed. They had spent days visiting people who were muggles. They spent days searching the areas for Harry Potter.

"Yes. The complete Royal Family. Cornelius wasn't very happy." Dumbledore had spent over an hour calming the man down. "Severus, any luck?"

"No. I thought I saw him two weeks ago. He is fast, agile, and sneaky." Severus actually admired the skills the boy was displaying. He knew he would be laughing at anyone else if they told this story. However, it was him and he was determined not to be outsmarted by a Potter. He wasn't going to admit the boy had also robbed him. He got everything but his wand in a matter of seconds.

"It doesn't help that his relatives kept everything hidden. He has been living on the streets for six years. Frankly, I'm surprised he is still alive. Never mind been caught by the police." Pomona sighed. "Honestly, Albus, what were you thinking?"

"I thought they would love him."

Severus scoffed at that as Minerva huffed. "I warned you."

________________________________________________________________

~What do you mean I might have money?~ Harry looked down at the snake curled up by the fireplace in his small shack in woods. He had found the shack after an old man had told him about it. It was in the wooded area outside of London. He could get to London daily by the bus.

~Wizard have separate money. That funny stuff you picked up from the man in black. It's money. The stuff in bottles is called potions.~

~How do you know?~ Harry had liked how much stuff the pouches could hold and not get heavy. Amber had taught him a lot in the years they had been together. His family left him behind in the woods after a company picnic. They had never returned.

~Mother, she belonged to a wizard. I was almost a full snake when she and her wizard disappeared. Add more wood before we go to sleep.~

~Don't I always?~ Harry threw on a few more pieces of wood. He got up and checked the door and windows. He made sure no light could be seen by the outside world. The smoke from the fireplace was something that Amber explained how to cover up by focusing on making it disappear. He pulled out some of the cold packs he froze in the river each day so that he would be cool while Amber enjoyed the warmth of the fire. He wrapped one around his neck and placed the other one on the bed. Harry sat on his bed, the fan was going. He was making a list of things he would need to collect for the oncoming winter. Even though it was early in July he still needed to plan for winter. ~Do we go someplace to turn it in for real money?~

~Yes but you should check out why they put Potter on those weird letters.~

~Maybe it's my last name?~

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"Severus, I just got a message from Tom at the Leaky Cauldron. He believes Harry might be headed to Gringotts. Harry seemed confused and asked for directions to a bank."

"And?"

"I need you to go and get him. I don't believe anyone else would be able to keep up with him." Dumbledore hoped it was Harry. He had so many leads that went nowhere. He started walking toward the front doors leaving Severus with no other option but to follow.

Severus arched an eyebrow as he walked next to Dumbledore. "What do you expect me to do with him if I manage to corral the hoodlum?"

"Bring him here. We can explain everything. Once he understands I'm sure he will fit in with the Weasley family."

"Albus, I'm only going to say this once so listen for a change. If you put him with the Weasley family you will be making a huge mistake. This boy isn't your Gryffindor Savior. He isn't some hero. This boy is street smart, cunning, and since he has survived so long, sneaky. All the traits that Gryffindors aren't."

"My boy, he is James and Lily's son. I'm sure he will fit in with the Weasleys." Dumbledore already spoke to Molly about having Harry live there. He arranged a small fee to be paid to her from the Potter trust.

"Your error." Severus didn't wait for a response but headed out to Gringotts.

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"So, let me see if I am understanding you correctly. I'm Harry Potter. Albus Dumbledore has been using funds from my account and has made arrangements for me to live with another family while he maintains control over my life?" Harry didn't know who Albus Dumbledore was or why he was making decisions for him.

"Yes, that is accurate."

"How do I change this? I haven't lived with the Dursleys since I was five or so. I have been living on my own since my relatives abandoned me in the woods. I have never met this Albus Dumbledore nor anyone from your world until today." He wasn't about to live with his relatives or anyone who was stealing from him would suggest.

"That does change things. I will need a sworn statement signed with a Blood Quill. Since we have done a complete family history and an Inheritance Test we can find new guardians. I will have our healers do a complete exam. They will fix any issues you have. The tests show no other direct family in the Potter but it does reflect some distant family members. I suggest we complete the emancipated minor forms. If Albus Dumbledore tries to get control returned to him we will be able to stop it since we will be filing for your magical guardianship to be your distant family in America. That will enable you to remain emancipated yet also protected as he has no sway in America."

Harry and Griphook spent the next two hours working on the details. It included a fireside chat with his distant relatives who agreed to the plan. They had actually tried to gain custody of Harry but Dumbledore had blocked them. They invited Harry to spent Yule and any holidays with them. They would send him a permanent port-key and made arrangements to pay for Harry's clothes. Harry didn't want them to pay but after they said either they pay for the clothes or everything. Harry went with clothes. Griphook, after they finished speaking to Harry's relatives, explained to Harry the terms he didn't understand, things like port-keys, robes, floo travel.

Harry headed out of Griphook's office and saw the man in black in the bank lobby. "Griphook, who is that? He has been looking for me."

"Professor Severus Snape, Potion Master at Hogwarts. He works for Dumbledore." Griphook could see the Potion Master was trying to be discrete in his searching.

"Interesting." Harry looked around hoping to see another exit. "Any other way out?"

"Not without him seeing you. The floo network is across the lobby."

"Just my luck. What is your policy on fights?" Harry knew Severus Snape would give as well as he got. Unfortunately, Harry's size was both an advantage and disadvantage going against a man skilled in a fight.

"We prefer to be the ones spilling the blood."

"Well, I best get this over with." Harry hoped the man had more of those interesting expandable pouches. Harry slowly walked toward the bench and sat down next to Severus. "You know, you really need to stop following me. I'm going to become paranoid if you don't."

"Potter." Severus had seen the boy walking toward him.

"Yes, just learned that. Interesting isn't it?"

"What?"

"What the mind accepts as normal." Harry watched the goblins handle the wizards business. He watched everyone ignore the two of them just sitting on the bench.

"Come, you have been requested to join the Headmaster at Hogwarts."

Harry wasn't about to let Dumbledore win any battle, never mind the war. "Nope, not going. Tell him I said hi. I need to go shopping. I need to get some clothes, books, and the like." He could hear Amber hissing her agreement. "I have years of magic to catch up on." He made arrangements with Griphook to have a private tutor meet him at his new home.

"I'm afraid you don't have a choice."

"Oh, but I do. He's not my magical guardian. He has no say over me until I start Hogwarts and only as my Headmaster. He really should have checked on me."

"Potter, I can either drag you there or you can go peacefully. I do not care either way."

"If you do I will have you and him charged with kidnapping. I'm sure my guardians would also encourage me to press charges if they didn't." Harry showed him his new guardianship papers. "As I said, he should have checked on me."

Severus reviewed the paperwork. "Indeed. I look forward to seeing you in September." Severus knew this boy was no Gryffindor. He wanted to laugh. The boy outplayed Dumbledore already. This coming school year was going to be interesting.

"Any potion books you might suggest?"

"Let the clerk at the store I sent you. They will make sure you have everything."

Harry waited until Severus was gone. He smirked. He had another potion pouch and expandable bag. He couldn't wait to see what was in them.

__________________________________________________________

Severus was getting a headache listening to Dumbledore complain about not having Harry Potter in his possession. "You let him get away."

"I'm not being charged with kidnapping. You aren't his magical guardian." Severus began to reach for his potion pouch. He frowned. He stood up and began searching all his pockets. "That brat!"

"What is wrong?" Minerva had been ignoring Dumbledore's rant as she was working on some of Hogwart's paperwork.

"He stole everything but my wand!"

"Oh dear."

Chapter Text

Harry watched the mob of red-heads make their way to platform 9 3/4. He heard the woman mentioning muggles and the platform number. Harry remembered what the goblins said about the Weasley family. They had to be them and it was clear they were hoping to help him find his way. "Oh, I'm so sorry. It's crowded here." Harry gave the woman a smile as he continued on his way. He went through the barrier and tossed the extra ticket into the bin.

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"Albus, Molly is in the floo. Ronald missed the train." Minerva finally found him in the staff room.

"What? How? I know they run late but she promised she would be early." Dumbledore was slightly confused.

"They couldn't get through the barrier. She left the ticket at home. The twins and Percy had theirs on them. She had no time to retrieve them if they were to make the train."

Severus arched a brow. "Did she find Harry?" Dumbledore had risen from his seat. He was unwrapping a lemon drop.

"No. Honestly, the boy most likely was already sitting on the train after robbing everyone blind." Minerva and the rest of the staff had bets on when Dumbledore would be robbed, his office robbed, and Hogwarts in general.

"I have already added new wards to the dungeons." Extra wards to his private quarters, potion lab, and office. He also removed anything he couldn't replace or cherished. "I might suggest warning the students." Severus wondered how long it would take for Dumbledore to realize his mistake.

"Now, now, that wouldn't be fair. We don't know for sure that he removed your possessions. The memories certainly didn't show anything." Dumbledore had demanded to see the memories to see what Harry looked like. Harry looked like his father without the glasses and had Lily's green eyes. The boy was tall, skinny, but well muscled.

"Yes. I seemed to have developed a bad habit of losing my possession that I have placed in my robe pockets." Severus was going to be speaking to the boy. He wanted his potion pouches back. One was from when Journeyman days and the other was the one he received when he became a Master.

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Harry had schmoozed with everyone on the train. Equal opportunity was something he firmly believed in. The last few weeks had been interesting. The tutors the goblins had found for him were great. The goblins even got him a tutor for law and politics. They agreed to send him assignments during the school year. He wanted his Hogwarts education over with as soon as possible. When he exited the train he heard the huge man calling for the first years to join him by the lake. It didn't take a genius to realize they wanted them to use the rickety boats to arrive. He wasn't about to get into one of them. He never learned to swim and he wasn't eager to learn. He headed for the carriages.

"Lookie Forge, a firstie is joining us."

"Yes, I do believe so. Great prank for a firstie."

"Why didn't we think of it?" The twins leaned down and close to Harry's ears. "We want our stuff back."

"No idea what you are referring to." Harry felt one of them reach into his robe pocket. Amber snapped her jaws on him in a warning. "She is very territorial."

Fred yanked his hand away. "What?" He looked down at his reddish hand.

"It was a warning. She could have snapped the bones." Amber stuck her head out. Since she was a green boa constrictor she didn't have any poison but she was still dangerous. Amber hissed a few warning and returned to her new spot inside the robe pocket.

Fred and George exchanged a quick look, nodded at each other. "Little firstie, you have some skills we might need. We believe we can help you out also."

"Name your terms." Harry liked bargains.

"We are Fred and George Weasley, Prank Kings of Hogwarts, aiming to outdo the Marauders, our gods, in the quest for the ultimate prank."

"Harry Potter, aiming to drive Dumbledore up the wall. I do believe we can aid each other." He saw their looks as they recognized the name. He would keep an eye on them and see if they were like their mother or not. He would and could use them either way.

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Harry was standing in a corner when he saw an old lady guide the boat takers into the hall. He waited until she left and slipped into the students. He could hear some girl going on about Hogwarts: A History. Great a rule lover. Another was yapping about how he could have gone to Eton. Harry saw Malfoy. That boy was going to be fun. He forgot a lot of the names but with hair like that, he stuck out. They were finally escorted into the Great Hall. Harry had to admire the trick with the candle as it would really give first years a great impression but he preferred his lights not floating. He saw Severus Snape glaring at him.

He watched the staff carefully after each student was sorted. The staff seemed fair except for the old dude, who was only happy when someone went to Gryffindor. Severus politely clapped for everyone. As did the rest of the staff but if you watched closely you could see a slight curve of Severus' lip when a student went to Slytherin.

"Potter, Harry."

Harry took his time walking toward the old lady holding the hat. He looked at each professor and felt Dumbledore try to influence him. That wasn't going to work. He sat down on the stool. "Well, this is a first."

"I'm sure. How about we strike a deal?"

"A deal, Mr. Potter?"

"Sure, you tell me about Dumbledore and the school and I will make sure you don't turn up missing."

"I see. By missing?"

"How do you feel about being a pair of socks for Dumbledore?" Not realizing to the Headmaster that would be the best gift he would ever receive.

"Threats don't work with me."

"I don't do threats as I'm sure you noticed. Now, we can either do this the nice simple way or the hard way. I was going to play nice until he tried to influence my decision."

"Oh, dear, he did try that. He tried it on me too." The Hat was quiet for a few seconds. "I will make you a deal. I will put you in Slytherin, where you belong, help you with Dumbledore if you promise I get to be involved when you go after the old codger. I can't give you everything I know because of the magic that created me forbids it but I can help you any way I can."

Harry thought it over for a few seconds. "How will you be able to fulfill your end?"

"The house elves." The Hat began to explain Hogwarts, house elves, the secret tunnels, rooms, and even the Founders' Quarters. "You are one, so you will be able to find them."

"You have yourself a deal." Harry mentally shook the hat's hand.

"Better be Slytherin." The Hat announced.

Harry smirked as he got up and walked by the head table. He nodded his head at Severus and found his seat next to Draco.

---------------------------------------------------

"Potter, come with me." Severus wasn't a happy camper. Dumbledore wanted his golden boy in Gryffindor instead he got him. He also wanted his pouches back. He had warded his items before he left the head table.

"Pleasure seeing you again, Profesor Snape." Harry grabbed a brownie as he rose. He already stashed a lot of food in his robe pockets.

Severus waited until they were outside of the Great Hall before stopping. "Where are my missing items, you little thief?"

"No idea what you are referencing." Harry gave him a blank look.

"Ah, my boy, come with me. I would love to chat with you in my office." Dumbledore appeared next to them, having used the staff entrance.

Harry resisted the strong urge to tell the man that he had no desire to chat with him but he needed more information. "Certainly. Are you joining us, Professor Snape?"

"If only to make sure you don't walk away with everything in his office." Severus quietly spoke as he didn't miss the blatant look from Dumbledore that promised him a lot of time visiting with him if he mentioned Harry's pickpocketing.

________________________________________________________________________

"Now, my boy, I was wondering where you have been staying?"

"In a house." Harry looked around the office. He could see lots of shiny objects, books, and a bird. He started to pet the bird.

"I was wondering which house?"

"Why?"

Severus, normally, would have been annoyed at anyone disrespecting Dumbledore in such a manner but he figured he did warn Dumbledore. He also wanted to understand the boy who was now in his house. The best way to do that was to watch and listen.

"Well, I need to know if you were safe. I need to make sure you have been taken care of."

Severus wanted to bang Dumbledore's head into the desk. Really? Did he honestly think the boy was that stupid? He knew about the new guardianship.

"Why?"

"I care about you. Your family meant a great deal to me. I'm sure your relatives have been extremely worried about you when you ran away."

Severus had his hand on his wand. He knew that was the worst thing to say. They knew the boy didn't run away. Severus had been with Dumbledore when they visited the family and saw the joy they took in getting rid of the little freak as they called him.

"Really? Where were you when I was dumped in the woods? Where were you when they beat me? Starved me? Kept me in a cupboard? Where were you on the nights I was cold, hungry? How about even the last year? Never mind the last six." Harry hadn't stopped petting the bird. He wasn't going to mention the stolen money or the deal Dumbledore must have made with Molly Weasley.

"I'm sure it's a slight misunderstanding and when you return they will be happy to see you." At his relatives, they would teach him to listen to adults.

Harry slowly turned, arched an eyebrow. "Are you off your meds? Have you slipped out of that comfortable hug me jacket?"

Severus slammed down his laughter. He would laugh later when he reviewed this moment. He had been wondering those questions for years.

Dumbledore was surprised. "I do believe I have the say on where you will be staying."

"Nope, sorry, you're wrong. Let's move on to the final round. I will skip the question part and just give you the answer. I won't be returning to Surrey, I won't be staying wherever you wish me too. My American relatives are my magical guardians and I will be staying with them." Harry pulled out the guardianship papers. He knew the man saw the emancipation papers as he had tried to get them declared invalid. Gringotts put a stop on that. Griphook did warn that Dumbledore wouldn't give up. "There is a copy for my official file."

Severus was impressed. The boy beat Dumbledore, again. "We have another matter to discuss, your sorting."

"Oh?"

"Yes, your parents would be very distressed to realize you were sorted into Slytherin. While Slytherin House has many fine qualities your family is Gryffindor and they would want you in that house. I'm not sure if the trust will pay for your schooling if you aren't placed in Gryffindor."

Harry started laughing. He really couldn't help it. "My schooling has been fully paid for since the 2nd of Aug, 1980. My trust is for school supplies and things I might need. My clothes come from my guardians. Oh, that is right you wouldn't know that since as my former guardian you never provided anything for me. As for my parents, I wouldn't know about that. I didn't know a thing about them as they were killed when I was a baby. Considering what I read about them, I believe they would be happy that I was alive and not six feet under pushing up daisies."

Those digs were painful as Severus saw Dumbledore flinch a bit. Yes, his newest snake was proving he was sneaky, sly, and had a sharp tongue.

"My dear boy, I can't just allow you to stay anywhere."

"Headmaster, do you monitor all your students? Where they live? What they are doing?"

"No, no, there are way too many students for me to handle that. However, I'm your magical guardian while you are here in Hogwarts. I want to make sure you are being taken care of despite what has happened in the past. I'm afraid because of the last war, feelings about your position will cause problems."

"Headmaster, I know you are the magical guardian of every muggle-born or half-blood student who doesn't have a magical guardian when they enter Hogwarts. I already have one. You have no say in where I go, who I live with, and I am not being resorted. As for problems, if anyone has a big enough issue, being in a different house won't matter."

Severus wasn't sure who taught the boy about the Hogwarts by-laws and Charter but they did a great job.

"I see. Well, if you have any problems, my door is always opened. I need to speak to Severus so an elf will escort you to your dorm."

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Severus spent the next twenty minutes listening to Dumbledore explain how he needed to get Harry to trust him. How Harry needed to go and live with the Weasleys. Dumbledore would prefer the Dursleys but he would settle for the Weasley family. Severus knew it was because Dumbledore didn't want Harry to be influenced by the Melrose family. * Severus glanced at his watch. "Albus, there isn't anything you can do. You have tried and it's been blocked. They are Americans and you have no power. He isn't abused. The health reports from Gringotts showed that. He arrived here well suited and healthy."

"Severus, you must watch him. He is vital."

Severus planned on watching the boy. He was going to be adding tracking charms and anything else he could find to make sure he would know where the boy was and what he was doing. "I plan on it."

"Thank you, Severus."

Dumbledore waited until Severus was gone before glancing at his chessboard. He really wanted to hex the Dursley family. "Fawkes, perhaps I'm worrying too much." Dumbledore didn't get a response. He looked around. "Fawkes?"

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Severus made it to his quarters. He grabbed a book and headed to his desk to start his research. He stopped. There were his three potion pouches. How? When did the brat steal his possessions tonight? He had made sure to add extra wards on his door. He had even changed the password to ancient Romanian. He looked around his living area, seeing a stack of Galleons was now next to where he had left his other money. What?

Chapter Text

Severus woke to Fawkes staring down at him with a letter in his beak. "Fawkes, it's a bit early." Fawkes dropped the letter. He opened the letter.

"Sev, what type of birdie is this? He was kind enough to spend the night with me."

Severus looked at Fawkes. "He stole you, didn't he?" Fawkes did a bit of head bop with a flutter of his feathers. "That brat is going to drive Albus Dumbledore out of any sanity the man had." He wondered how they missed the boy walking out with Fawkes. Severus got dressed and made his way to the boys' dorms. He had a snake to speak too.

"Uncle Severus, I wasn't expecting you so soon." Draco was still in bed which didn't surprise him. Actually, all the snakes were except for one.

"I'm looking for Potter." He knew the boy should be in here.

"He's in the shower." Blaise sat up.

"I don't think he spent the night here." Draco pointed to the made-up bed. "He wasn't here when we went to sleep."

Severus wasn't sure why Draco was ratting out his new dorm mate. "Draco is just being prissy because Potter wasn't in awe of him. Draco, it isn't a good enough reason to be a tale-teller." Theo muttered from under his blankets.

Blaise started laughing. Draco threw a pillow at him. "Potter didn't know how important the Malfoy family is." Blaise starting laughing again. "You should have seen Draco's face when Potter went who."

"Still don't have a clue." Harry put his toiletries away. "However, anyone against Dumbledore is a friend in my book."

The Slytherins were shocked but Severus noticed that Harry didn't seem worried about it. "What did you do?"

"Privacy spell the goblins taught me. Nothing said in this room can be shared with anyone." Harry gave Severus a small smirk. "You know I wasn't going to trust that old fool."

"My office, Potter." Severus held up his hand as Draco, Blaise, and Theo were about to object to the privacy spell. "It works for you also." Severus turned and left the room.

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"Potter, I'm going to lay down some rules, you will follow-"

"Rules? Really? Do I strike you as a rule follower?"

Severus watched the boy sit down with a grace he had noticed only in pure-blood or those who were very confident in who they were. Usually, children didn't have that type of confidence at 11. "None the less you will or you will find out what I consider punishment."

"Wow, you said that with a straight face."

"Potter, you will refrain from stealing. You will obey all of Hogwarts' rules. If you get caught breaking them, you will earn detention with me. If you lose points, it's two detention. I don't care who you are, what you have experienced. You are here in Hogwarts and you will be a model student or you will be expelled."

"Not happening. First, if I do get caught it will be a frame job. Second, I don't steal. I liberate useful items for future endeavors. Third, I'm not even sure if I will remain a Hogwarts student so threats of being expelled don't scare me." Harry slowly rose. "Now, are you done trying to exhort your authority over me so we have a real discussion?" He started to walk around the office. He stopped at Severus' bookcase with a small display on top of it.

Severus leaned back in his chair. He knew whatever choice he made now would affect him for the rest of his life. Something in his gut telling him that Harry Potter wasn't going to be anyone that Dumbledore would be able to control. The boy was Slytherin. "I will make you a deal. You don't get caught, don't liberate from me, and I will teach you what Dumbledore won't teach. You had lessons from the goblins."

"Potions included? You're ranked number 3 in the world, 1 in Europe. Also, I'm sure I am lacking in etiquette."

"I believe those areas can be included."

"Deal." Harry held out his hand.

"Deal. You can read any book that-" Severus thought about his wards. He knew his wards wouldn't keep the boy away from his book. "Isn't under a ward. Do not remove my wards. If you wish to read a book that has been warded, ask."

Harry pulled out three books out of his robe pockets. "May I borrow those?"

Severus knew he shouldn't have been surprised but he was. He looked at the books in question and knew they were from his quarters, not his office. "No breaking into my quarters."

"I didn't break anything." Harry gave him an innocent look.

"We will discuss some rules." Severus pulled out some parchment. He had a feeling a contract was going to be needed in the future and helpful for any future discussions.

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Harry looked at the massive three-headed dog. ~This is what he considers protection?~

~Doggie easy to distract.~

~Yes, now I wonder what the old fool plans on hiding. It's too soon for him to have it in place. He is going to want to tease whoever he plans on trapping.~

~The chain limits the range. The doggie isn't hungry, seems like a puppy.~ Amber slithered around the edges of the room. ~No magic.~

~That is interesting.~ Harry glanced around the room again. ~Has to be some kind of tunnel or maze under the trap door. Not guarded with wards.~

~Smell plant.~

~Interesting. I do believe Amber we have a job.~

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"Fred, I do believe I have a question for you." Harry sat down next to Fred who had a potion book opened.

"I'm George."

"Nice try. Question is what type of dog has three heads?"

"Dog? Oh!" Fred leaned back in his seat. "Not exactly sure but there is a book on magical animals that will provide you with all the information you need. You have to mail order it. Someone hasn't returned it from last year. Mrs. Pince has been most upset about it."

"Interesting. By the way, your younger brother has been trying to befriend me. What's his deal? He started ranting about Slytherin until he saw me." Honestly, the youngest freaked him out.

"Ronnikins is like our dear mother. They hate all things Slytherin. So expect a howler from her when Ronnikins writes home and tells her."

"Howler?"

_____________________________________________________________________

It was Monday, the first day of classes. Harry was sitting between Draco and Blaise discussing the DADA book when the owls swooped in. Harry looked at the red letter that was in front of him. "Howler?"

"Yes. Why would be getting one?" Draco and the rest of the first years were a bit confused.

"Ronald Weasley's mother. I have no idea who the woman is." Harry prodded it with his wand. "What do I do with it?"

"I say throw it away. I don't think you can. If you open it, it will scream at you." Blaise and the rest of the first years started to debate on what to do with it.

Harry glanced up and saw the smug look on Weasley's face. He picked up the letter, walked it over to Weasley. "Sorry, Weasley but having your mommy yell at me won't make me be your friend. You really do need to work on making your own friends. Perhaps your mommy can arrange a play date with babies your age." Harry dropped the howler into the boy's eggs. Harry didn't linger but exited the Great Hall to the laughter of students.

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Severus watched Harry walk with the howler to the Gryffindor table. He wasn't sure what Harry planned on doing but he knew it wouldn't be what Molly Weasley or Albus Dumbledore would expect.

"Sorry, Weasley but having your mommy yell at me won't make me be your friend. You really do need to work on making your own friends. Perhaps your mommy can arrange a play date with babies your age." The letter landed in the eggs.

"Albus, did Molly really send a howler?"

"I believe so." Dumbledore knew she had. He had wanted her to write a letter to Harry in order for Harry to get to know her. He knew she was upset about the train and having to bring her boys to Hogwarts via floo. He had listened to her rant last night about Harry being in Slytherin. He had told her to write a letter, inform Harry about his parents. He didn't think a howler was going to be sent.

"Yes, that will certainly endear him to the Weasley family." Severus heard Minerva comment.

"He handled it very well." Filius liked the boy's style.

Severus knew Ron Weasley was going to find a lot of his items liberated.

_____________________________________________

Harry was staring at the cat sitting on the desk. He had arrived before anyone else. He had seen the cat enter the room, hop on the desk, and settle in. He walked to the desk, he tilted his head. The cat stared at him. Ten minutes later students were getting nervous. "I wonder where Professor McGonagall is?" The Rule Lover looked around the room again as if she was going to appear.

"Who cares." Ron Weasley was loudly talking about a game called Quidditch with two of his cohorts.

"I think we need to tell someone." Rule Lover announced, causing her fellow lions to groan.

Slytherins were quietly talking or reading their books. Draco was sitting next to Harry. "Bet she goes running to Dumbledore."

"That is a sucker's bet." Harry knew the girl was going to get up in a few minutes. Not too soon as she didn't want to get into trouble if the professor arrived while she was gone. "How about how soon? I say ten minutes."

Soon all the bets were placed. Harry had his watch out. "10.6 minutes." Harry announced as the Rule Lover got up.

____________________________________________________________

"Potter, a word." Severus had just left Dumbledore's office. No one could find Professor McGonagall.

"Which word? Do I get to keep it?" Harry had been heading toward the library. He wanted to find out about some of the DADA spells.

Severus pulled Harry into the closest alcove. "Do you happen to know where Professor McGonagall is?"

"Nope. The last time I saw her was at breakfast. She didn't appear during our class. Rule Lover went and reported it."

"Granger did inform Professor Dumbledore." Severus was trying to think about what could have happened to Minerva.

"Severus, what is the pet policy? I have Amber, a birdie, and now a cat. Do I need to get rid of one? I really don't want too. Amber likes having friends."

"Amber? A cat?" Severus knew he was going to regret asking.

"Yes, a sweet tabby. No collar and looked a bit lonely."

"Where is this new addition?" Severus pinched the bridge of his nose.

Harry reached into his robe pocket and pulled out the expandable pouch. "I need to buy supplies for the new kitty." Harry reached in and pulled out the confused cat. He held onto her, running his hand over the fur. "Isn't she pretty? So sweet."

The cat transformed into Professor McGonagall. "In all my years!"

"Hey, what did you do to my cat!" Harry wasn't happy about his missing cat.

"Potter, come with me right now." McGonagall tried to get by Severus who was standing in the front of the exit.

"She stole my cat!"

Severus couldn't believe he was going to say this. "I believe there has been a slight misunderstanding."

"She stole my cat!"

"I'm the cat, Potter."

"Oh." Harry looked at her. "How? Is it painful? The movies make shifting forms painful. Are you Catwoman? Are Bob Kane and Bill Finger wizards too? I have every edition of Batman. I love DC comic books. Stan Lee writes for Marvel so I have his stuff too. He has great superheroes. Are they wizards?" Questions spilling out of the boy's usually calm demeanor.

Severus and McGonagall exchanged a quick look. They discovered an area of interest for the little hoodlum. "Minerva, perhaps allow me to handle this."

"I will agree with the exception being he is to write a three-foot essay on animal transfiguration."

"Cool beans!" Harry was excited about this. "How common it is? How many forms?"

"I believe you will find the answers yourself." Minerva waved her hand and Severus stepped aside. "I will inform Albus."

"Potter, we have some things to talk about."

"I'll say. Do you think Mrs. Norris will let me have one of her kittens?"

Chapter Text

Harry was sitting next to Draco in their second DADA class. The Rule Follower was getting annoying with her hand waving and yelling out the answers to questions. The twins' annoying brother was calling her numerous names. "Does she ever shut up?"

"No." Draco and the rest of the Slytherins were really getting annoyed by the lions. "Severus is going to love her in his class."

Harry looked at the blond. "He will absolutely adore her." The Slytherins smirked. They knew Gryffindor was going to find it very hard to survive Severus' class. Harry was paying attention to Quirrell. The man was a stuttering fool when he wasn't excited about things. However, get the man talking about spells the stuttering disappeared. Something was off about the man, he wondered if it had to do with the dog on the third floor. He was going to have to watch this guy, Dumbledore, and the doggie.

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~Amber, something is off with that Quirrell guy.~

~Who?~

~The stuttering fool. He teaches DADA.~ Harry was sitting on his bed. The birdie, who he learned was named Fawkes, and Mrs. Norris were also on the bed. Amber was hanging from one of the poles of the bed. She liked to hide in the drapes. Mrs. Norris was close to giving birth to her kittens and Argus said he would let Harry have his pick of the litter.

~I will observe him~ Amber slithered down the pole. Fawkes trilled bit. ~Birdie brains agree with me.~

~Great. We still need to check out that trap door.~ Harry was petting Mrs. Norris. Fawkes was cleaning himself.

~Did nothing there yet. Followed old fool to an empty room.~ Amber had been exploring the castle.

~Wonder what he plans to put in there?~

~Will keep an eye on him.~ Amber curled up. ~Found a room with King. The King has been very lonely and gave me a lot of information on the castle.~

~That is interesting. What is the King?~

~King is King of snakes. Powerful snake, powerful magic.~

Harry was going have to look up what Amber meant in that animal book that he ordered. Harry had hidden all the food he was hoarding. All the items he had liberated were in pouches he had hidden. He had other things he was already working on.

________________________________________________

"What do you mean you lost the Mirror of Erised?" Minerva couldn't believe it was almost even the end of the September and the Mirror was gone.

Severus knew who had something to do with this. He had been called to the meeting since Dumbledore wanted him to find out what happened. The boy stole the Mirror of Erised. He was a bit stumped at how the boy did it.

"I put it in one of the old empty classrooms with wards around it. The wards were still in place. So I'm not sure how it disappeared."

"Are you sure that Potter didn't have anything to do with it?" Minerva sighed, deeply. They had spent the morning looking for the Mirror. "He has stolen before."

"Potter was in classes all day. No one reported him being absent from his classes." Severus had checked to make sure. The boy certainly covered his tracks. If Harry did get caught it would be a frame job. He was going to have to ask the boy how he did it.

"They wouldn't have to. He stole me so fast I didn't even have time to transform." Minerva was still impressed by the boy. The boy's essay about animals transformation was well thought out and detailed. While the time in the bag wasn't bad as she fell asleep within a few minutes. She didn't wake up until she was pulled out from the bag.

"Yes, but I had wards up. No one can break my wards without my awareness." Dumbledore boasted. Dumbledore had made sure to put wards up. He wanted the Mirror found after he gave Harry the cloak. He had planned on giving the cloak to the boy for Yule.

Severus wanted to laugh. If Dumbledore thought Harry couldn't pull off stealing the Mirror he really was clueless about the boy. "Since he was in classes it will be harder to prove he did anything." He was wondering when the boy had done this. The Mirror wasn't small and he would have needed time to get it out of the room. Harry would have had to do it before breakfast but after the last rounds of the night.

"I don't believe he did. The magic had to be very advanced. The room was warded, the Mirror is very big, and I know the portrait would have alerted me to someone lugging it through Hogwarts."

Minerva closed her eyes. "So we have two thieves now? Quirrell is also one we need to watch also."

"We also have to prepare for anything that might occur now that Harry is in attendance. There are still those who want to make him pay for what happened ten years ago." Dumbledore knew Voldemort wasn't dead and that he was going to return one day. He had been warning Severus and Minerva about Voldemort returning and knew now wasn't the time bring up the possibility of his return, again. He had too much to focus on without adding their concern to his plans.

"Not that theory again, Albus. Honestly, it's been almost ten years." Minerva resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She really didn't believe Voldemort would be returning.

"Minerva, not now. We need to find the Mirror."

"Albus, I have run the same scans you did. There wasn't anything to track where the Mirror went to. As you said, the wards were intact. There wasn't any foreign magic and you said that the portraits didn't see anything." Severus thought he should inform Dumbledore that Harry was the one who stole the Mirror but since he wasn't sure how it was done he knew Dumbledore wouldn't believe him if he told him that Harry stole the Mirror.

___________________________________________________________________________

~He stays in there.~ Amber indicated to the room that was opposite from where they were currently hiding. They were on the fourth floor, near the DADA classroom.

~Does he leave?~

~At times, but no. Hear two voices.~ Amber was hanging from Harry's shoulders.

~Two?~ Well, that was interesting. Harry was wondering who the second voice belonged too.

~Yes, very different ones. One yells at the other a lot.~

~Have you tried getting closer?~ That was interesting. That would make it easier to spy.

~No, he has wards up, like most of the staff here.~

~So we need to find out more about him.~ Wards he could handle. Hogwarts was certainly proving to be interesting. The mirror was now safely in an unused classroom down in the dungeons protected by his wards.

----------------------------------------------------------------

"Potter, a word." Severus was standing at the entrance to the common room. Severus held up his hand stopping Harry saying his usual reply of which words.

Harry smirked but got up and followed Severus to his office. Once in Severus' office, Harry felt wards go up. "Ah, that kind of conversation."

"Yes. Where is the Mirror?" Severus was sitting in his office chair. He had been listening to Dumbledore complain about losing the Mirror. He knew the man was going to work on something else now.

"I have no idea what you are referencing." Harry's face kept his face straight. Harry actually enjoyed his conversations with Severus. Especially when they made potions or any other lesson Severus had set up so far.

"Is it safe?" Severus wondered where the boy could have put the mirror. They had searched the castle from top to bottom. He looked at Harry, the boy put the Mirror under wards. The goblins were famous for their wards.

"No idea what you are referencing."

"Fine, just make sure it's safe and keep it away from the students. It's a dangerous magical artifact. Dumbledore is looking for it." Severus knew he wasn't going to any information from Harry. The kid was good at controlling his emotions. "Also, Dumbledore is aware of your parchment for Fawkes."

"No idea what you are referencing."

Severus had to admit the boy was good. The past two weeks he knew that Harry had been very busy. "Next issue, the food in your dorm."

"No idea what you are referencing."

"Harry, I am aware of what it means to go hungry. I'm going to just ask that you try to keep the food from being spoiled. I will have the elves put some storage units under your bed. It will protect the food. Also, I arranged for the elves to put in a place for Fawkes and Mrs. Norris to sleep. There is a stand for Fawkes and a cat bed for Mrs. Norris. They also added more fabric to the bed for Amber to sleep in."

"Argus said I could have one of her kittens. I can still have one?" Harry wasn't about to give up his pets.

"Yes, I am aware. I already have made sure it was fine. Officially, it will be your only pet. Fawkes and Mrs. Norris technically belong to someone else. Amber hasn't been discovered so if she ever is I will say she is for me to use in my potion research." Severus actually liked Harry. In the past few weeks, he learned the boy wasn't anything like his father. No, the boy was pure Slytherin. He knew that if Dumbledore tried to get rid of his pets Harry would leave. The boy didn't connect to any human as of yet, Severus was the closest. Severus wasn't naive enough to believe that would keep the boy here. "I want to add to your lessons. I want to add lessons on Tuesday and Thursday."

"Saturday?"

"Will continue." Severus wanted to get Harry, at least, to feel connected to Hogwarts. He knew Harry enjoyed their lessons. Actually, the boy liked to learn which surprised him at first. He had flashed to Lily and her enjoyment of learning. Harry didn't have his father's bully attitude which made a huge difference. Yes, the boy was crafty and a thief but smart.

"Deal. These elves will they get me food for Amber, Fawkes, and Mrs. Norris?"

"Yes." Severus had yet to inform Dumbledore that Fawkes had been liberated but Fawkes didn't seem to mind. Mrs. Norris was a bit confusing as that cat hated everyone but Argus until Harry arrived. "They won't help you liberate things."

"As if."

Severus wanted to smirk. The boy had ethics, weird ones at times but he did have ethics.

Chapter Text

~Where did he go today?~ Harry was sitting on his bed. Mrs. Norris' kittens were playing on the bed under the careful eye of their mother.

~Kept heading to the doggie but kept getting stopped by students or staff. He was in book room for a long time. I got as close as I could get and the voice kept giving the idiot things to look up.~ Amber flicked her tail a few times giving the now four-week-old kittens something to chase. ~He mentioned feast but I didn't hear anything else.~

~That's tonight.~ Harry was about to ask another question when his roommates returned.

"Harry, are you sure you don't want to go to the Halloween Feast?" Draco started to pet Amber who still hanging from the curtains. Her tail flickering back and forth with a kitten trying to attack it.

"Yeah, I'm sure. The idea of everyone all laughing, stuffing their faces, and staring at me while wondering if I will do something like cry because my parents died ten years ago is enough for me to lose any interest in attending." Not to mention I want some time to check out a few rooms that Dumbledore had an interest in. Harry waited until he was sure everyone was at the fest and set off to go exploring. Harry was walking around with Amber over his shoulders. He saw Quirrell with his wand out leading something huge into Hogwarts. ~Amber, what is that?~

~How should I know? I don't know how to read. So it's not like I can look up strange creatures idiot Headmasters permit into Hogwarts.~

~True. Dumbledore should have added wards to prevent things like this.~ Harry started to follow Quirrell, listening to second voice give directions to Quirrell. ~I think it's coming from under the turban.~

~We can't let it loose in here.~

~I'm aware. See if you can get the huge thing to freak out over seeing you. When he does it will break the hold Quirrell has.~

____________________________________________________________

"What happened?" Severus had arrived at the same time as Minerva, Filius, and Dumbledore. They had finally been permitted into the front entranceway of Hogwarts. The Dark Arts alarm had sounded and secured everyone in the Great Hall.

"It appears Professor Quirrell lead a troll into Hogwarts, lost control of it, and the troll killed him as he killed the troll." Kingsley held up Quirrell's wand. "The last spell is the Killing Curse before that is Imperio." He gave the wand as evidence to one of the Aurors. "We weren't sure who the body belonged to until we did a blood analysis. It came back as Professor Quirrell. His head was up in the rafters."

"Oh, dear. A troll. He brought a troll into Hogwarts." Minerva couldn't believe it.

"Was there a sign of anyone else?" Dumbledore thought Voldemort was possessing Quirrell. Voldemort wouldn't lose control over a troll. The man's magic was strong enough to control a troll easily.

"No. I need to finish filing the report. The cleanup crew just arrived but they will be done soon." Kingsley gave a brief nod before going to speak to another Auror.

_________________________________________________________________

Harry was sitting on his bed when Severus arrived in the room. "Potter, I am wondering if perhaps you wouldn't happen to know the location of certain possession that belonged to Professor Quirrell might be?"

"No idea what you are referencing." Harry held up one of the four kittens. It was a brown calico, almost exactly like his mother. "I'm naming him Norris. The black one is going to be Midnight, the tiger one is Sophia, and the grey one is Nanook."

Severus knew the kittens rarely left Harry's room. Fawkes was sleeping with Amber and Mrs. Norris in Mrs. Norris' bed. "There are some books I need to find as they belong to Hogwarts." Harry tilted his head and waited. "I would like to see them returned for everyone to have access to them."

"I'm sure they will turn up." Harry held up Sophia. "She likes you."

"Indeed." Severus turned on his heels and left. He knew the books would be returned. He was impressed that Harry had cleaned out Quirrell's quarters so quickly. They hadn't even told- no, he couldn't have. Severus stopped, turned and walked back toward the dorm. He peeked in and saw Harry playing with kittens. No, he couldn't have. He headed back to his office.

_______________________________________________

"Harry, I just heard an interesting conversation in the library." Draco slid next to Harry. Dinner was being served and Draco had been in the library, researching their latest potion assignment.

Harry looked up and saw Weasley and Granger entering the Great Hall. "Why do I have a feeling it concerns the Moron and Ruler Lover?"

"It does. Weasley was telling Granger how you were going to be spending the Yule holiday at his house. Dumbledore was going to allow his parents to adopt you. According to him, when you return, his parents are going to ask for a resort."

"That is interesting. Thanks, Draco." Harry looked at the Head Table and saw Dumbledore watching his favorite table with a smile on his face. Harry pretended to turn his attention to his plate and saw Dumbledore look over to him. The man wore a smile that told Harry that he thought he had him.

----------------------------------------------

Harry packed the last of his things. Tomorrow he would be taking the train to the platform to meet with his relatives from America. They had arrived last week and Harry was looking forward to getting to know them.

"Potter, the Headmaster wishes to speak to you." Severus entered the dorm room. He knew this wasn't going to go the way the Headmaster wanted it to go.

"Interesting." Harry gave Severus a slight grin.

_______________________________________________________________________

"Lemon drop?" Dumbledore was seated behind his desk.

Severus didn't even answer as he looked at Kingsley Shacklebolt standing in the room. No, this wasn't going to be good.

"No, thanks." Harry looked around the office.

Fawkes was still residing with Harry. Dumbledore still hadn't noticed. It made Severus wonder about the relationship between Dumbledore and Fawkes. "Harry, Auror Shacklebolt is here to escort you to your new home."

"Sorry, I don't need an escort. My relatives are meeting me at the platform tomorrow."

"Harry, I'm your magical guardian. You will go with Auror Shacklebolt to the Dursleys. They are who your parents wanted to raise you."

"Does it hurt?" Harry calmly turned and faced Dumbledore.

"Hurt?"

"Yes, when you lie so blatantly. You are not my magical guardian. I filed the paperwork and as of this morning, nothing changed. The Dursley family has been arrested for child abuse, neglect, and abandonment. The government is also going to be filing fraud charges. The money you gave the Weasley family out of my vault has been returned. If you keep trying to force me to go where I don't want to go, I will file charges of theft, line theft, and kidnapping. My parents didn't want me to go to the Dursleys. So do you really want me to see if Auror Shacklebolt is here on official duty or as a favor for you?" Harry was now standing by the floo and had the floo powder container in his hand. "It won't take long, I'm sure."

Severus wanted to give the boy a standing ovation. He had warned Dumbledore about trying to play Gryffindor games with a Slytherin. He didn't understand why Dumbledore still insisted on treating Harry as if the boy was a naive child. Harry grew up on the London streets. You didn't survive the streets by being naive. You survived by being smart, cunning, and planning.

"Mr. Potter, what exactly do you mean?" Shacklebolt didn't like how this was sounding. He agreed to do a favor for Dumbledore. He believed he would be escorting for protection, the Boy-Who-Lived to his new family, the Weasleys. After getting the Dursleys to sign the papers, formalizing the adoption. He hadn't seen any adoption papers but that wouldn't be surprising. The Ministry would want to keep that hidden for protective measures.

Harry pulled out his guardianship and emancipation papers. "Those are copies. You can keep them if you want. I have plenty." Harry handed Shacklebolt the sealed copies. He had Ironclaw send him a few copies for just in case.

"Harry, I only want the best for you. The Weasley family will be able to provide you with a nice family, siblings your own age, and they can help you continue with your adjustment to the wizarding world."

"So can my relatives. They came all the way from America to spend time with me. They also are letting me keep my cat." Harry wasn't going to mention his other animals. "You knew this back in September. You waited until the last minute to try and get me to stay with the Weasley family when you know Ronald and I do not get along."

Severus thought that was an understatement. Harry loathed the boy after Weasley called him a traitor. Weasley told Harry that his parents would be ashamed of him and how he needed to die like all the other snakes. Needless to say, Weasley found a lot of his quills, books, parchment, even his clothing missing. Harry, however, always made sure to leave the boy's assignments alone. When Weasley tried to claim his potion essay was missing, Granger pulled it out of Weasley's robe pocket and handed it to him. Weasley let Granger know exactly how he felt about her.

"Albus, I'm sorry but I can't do anything. His American relatives have guardianship over Mr. Potter." Shacklebolt had seen the name and he wasn't about to lose his job doing something illegal as a favor for Dumbledore. "Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Potter. Perhaps next time it will be under better circumstances."

"Nice to meet you too, Auror Shacklebolt. Please tell your boss thank you for the cookies. She makes a wonderful chocolate chip cookie."

Severus blinked. How or rather when did Harry meet Madam Bones? He lowered his head to cover his own mirth. The boy didn't know her personally but was friends with her niece, Susan. He remembered Susan bringing cookies tins to those she considered friends. "Albus, I believe we are done for the night. I will escort Mr. Potter back to his dorm.

Chapter Text

Harry looked at Severus. "You promise?" He stopped by Severus' office on his way to the train. He had already put his kittens in Severus' quarters.

"Yes, Potter. I promise to watch the kittens, Fawkes, and Mrs. Norris." Severus still wasn't sure how he ended up with Sophia as his new kitten or how he ended up agreeing to watch Harry's growing zoo. "You promise to return?" He had a fear that Harry might decide not to return because of Dumbledore.

"I wouldn't leave my pets behind. Amber is coming with me." Harry was actually looking forward to his holiday with his new family. He was a bit nervous but they had been writing for a while so he felt a bit better about going with almost strangers.

While it wasn't confirmation Severus knew it was the best he was going to get. "Harry, do not get into trouble."

"Me, trouble? You must have me confused with some else." Harry gave Severus a small smile. He headed toward the door. "How does Dumbledore feel about that guardian he has?"

"Why?"

"No reason." Harry was gone before Severus could ask another question.

Severus knew that wasn't an innocently asked question. He closed his eyes and wondered what he did in a former life to be plagued by Potters. He knew he would hear about whatever was missing later.

______________________________________________________________

"What?" Severus put down his Potions Monthly magazine.

"My guardian is missing. In its place is a massive stone that says don't eat the lemon drops. I have no idea where it went." Dumbledore had spent a good hour trying to figure out what happened.

"I don't think it was Harry this time." Minerva sighed as she poured them tea. "It was still there when the train left and I saw him get on the train."

"I am aware. I left my office after the train left to go into Hogsmeade for some more lemon drops and when I came back it was gone."

Severus wondered how Harry could have done that. "The train isn't due to arrive in London until 7."

"Correct. The ghosts and portraits would have informed us if anyone remained behind." Dumbledore took his cup of tea. "I know Minerva that you feel young Harry stole the Mirror but I don't think so, not with this."

"I'm in agreement. Harry was in attendance at the time when the mirror was stolen but not for this latest theft."

"Severus?"

"Sorry, Albus, but if you ran the scans all I can do is rerun them and check for any potion residue." Severus knew Harry had to have done it. No one else could have.

________________________________________

Meanwhile:

"What do you want, Weasley?" Draco didn't even give Weasley or Granger time to open their mouths.

"Just making sure that Potter knows he is coming home with me."

"What drug are you on? It must really give you delusions of grandeur if you think that is happening." Harry saw the skanky looking rat sticking out of Weasley's pocket. "Though if that is your pet, I am not surprised. It indicates you don't follow the rules. After all, the only official pets allowed at Hogwarts are an owl, cat, or toad. That isn't a toad. So you must think you are above everyone and above the rules."

"Leave Scabbers out of this. You're just jealous."

Harry started laughing. "Jealous of what? Second-hand clothes, hand me down, skanky second-hand pet, and a second-hand wand? No, if anything I actually don't feel anything about you beyond the fact you're an annoyance."

"That isn't very nice. He can't help it if his family is poorer than yours."

"No, he can't but he can help himself regarding his arrogance. I'm not his friend so stop telling people we are. I'm not going to live with you so stop telling people we are. You should just forget my name."

"You are. The Headmaster even told us so." Granger smugly informed the compartment.

Harry let out a light laugh. "We'll see."

"Now get out." Draco had his bookends make sure they left.

"Your parents are picking you up?" Harry watched the duo talking down away from their door.

"Yes. I will have Father summon Aurors if his parents try anything."

"Good." Harry was thankful he kept a copy of his paperwork on him. He knew Dumbledore was going to try something stupid.

______________________________________________________________

"Harry, an incoming family of red-heads." Blaise had been looking for his mother. They had been delayed in getting off of the train by a group of third years yelling about a prank.

"I'll go and tell my Father." Draco left immediately to find his parents.

Harry looked around for his family and saw them making their way to him. He saw Ian Potter * leading the way with his great Aunt Claira Melrose and his fourth cousin Simon. "This is going to be so fun."

"It will be. He has been so annoying." Blaise and most of the school had listened to Weasley go on about how Harry was going to be living with him.

"Harry, my dear, lovely to see you again. Now, do come along." A red-haired woman of about her mid-fifties pulled Harry by the arm.

"I'm not going anywhere with you. I don't even know you." Harry recognized her as the woman who mentioned platform 9 3/4. He never actually met her. He wondered why any mother would think any child would go with a stranger.

"I really don't have time for this dear. We have to get going." Molly went to grab Harry' arm but Harry stepped away.

"Where do you think you are taking my great-nephew?" Ian Potter appeared next to Harry. They had been aware of this type of issue might occur.

"I'm Molly Weasley and I'm taking him back to my home. We are going to adopt him." Molly sent a smile to Harry. "My daughter and my other sons are eager to see you."

"We haven't agreed to that. I know Harry hasn't." Ian glanced at an annoyed Harry. Ironclaw had sent a letter to Ian regarding Harry's status and Dumbledore's attempts to get him adopted by the Weasley family.

"I haven't. I told her son I wasn't going with them on the train. I even showed Dumbledore that he isn't my magical guardian." Harry pulled out his papers. He wished Dumbledore would stop with the stupid games.

Kingsley groaned as he arrived on the platform in answer to a call by Lucius Malfoy. He arrived in time to hear Molly Weasley declare that Harry was to be adopted by her family. "Mrs. Weasley, please come with me."

"Kings? What are you doing here?" Molly Weasley loud voice carried. She looked beyond Shacklebolt and saw Lucius Malfoy standing there watching.

"Mr. Potter, perhaps you should leave with your relatives." Auror Shacklebolt wanted to keep the peace.

"I'm Ian Potter and I want to know what is going on." Ian had read the letters from Harry about his issues Dumbledore had been given Harry but he didn't think the man was an idiot. He was now revamping his belief.

"She tried to kidnap me." Harry helpfully suggested. "Her son has been bragging about them taking me to his house and forcing me to be adopted."

"You are being adopted. Albus has made the arrangements." Molly began to dig into her pockets. "See, I have the letter right here."

Harry pulled out his paperwork. "I have the paperwork showing that Albus Dumbledore isn't my magical guardian and Ian Potter, Media Melrose, and her husband Roland, are my guardians."

"Indeed. I'm Claira Melrose and this is my great-nephew Simon. My daughter and her husband are expecting us for dinner. The paperwork has been on file since before Harry started at Hogwarts." Claira was almost ninety years old with white hair. She was tall, lean, and dressed in the most fashionable of robes.

"No, we are adopting him." Molly almost screamed. "This is beyond ridiculous. Albus and I have agreed that Harry belongs with us. He needs to get away from those dark wizards in Slytherin. He will be adopted, resorted into Gryffindor, and he will start to honor his parents."

"Molly, it's true. Now, please come with me." Shacklebolt tried to escort Molly away but she started to struggle.

"He doesn't belong with Death Eaters and their ilk. We don't know what this family will do to him. It's bad enough he is in Slytherin. His parents would be so ashamed. Associating with Death Eaters. Harry needs to learn what it means to be a respectful wizard, not live some pureblood dark wizards that believe what Death Eaters like Malfoy promote."

"Auror Shacklebolt, please either escort her away or I will summon someone who will arrest her. If she says one more inflammatory word I will press charges." Lucius could see everyone was paying attention to what was happening on the platform. The gossip mill was going to be overflowing.

"You mean bribe someone to have my mother arrested. Harry is a Gryffindor and belongs to us. Not some slimy snakes." Ron's temper selected the wrong moment to roar to life. "He is my best friend. We will get rid of all the dark evil snakes that are in Slytherin."

"Yes, exactly. Harry Potter being in Slytherin is shameful. No one respectable ever came out of Slytherin. The House of You-Know-Who is what it should be named." Molly pulled away from Shacklebolt. "Your parents would be rolling over in their graves at how disrespectful you have been to your elders. Albus Dumbledore only wants the very best for you and you are instead going with people who we don't know a thing about. How do we know they won't corrupt you even worse?"

"What world is she living in? Honestly, I've been on my own for six years. Do you really think I'm going to take your word for anything? Your youngest son is a moron. I see he gets his delusional views from you. I have legal guardians and they aren't you. Now goodbye."

"Molly, I don't want to arrest you. You need to come with me, quietly." Shacklebolt stood between Molly and Harry.

Harry grinned. Who knew Aurors had so many interesting toys. "Fine. I will discuss this with Albus. When we get Harry to our home I will make sure he knows how to respect his elders."

"She needs Thorazine in her drinking water or maybe Haldol. I'm sure a mind healer would suggest something to balance out her mood swings too." Harry looked at his family. "I'm ready when you are."

Chapter Text

Severus groaned. What did Harry do now that he was being called to Dumbledore's office? Severus had spent the morning animal proofing his quarters. His own new kitten, Sophia, seemed to enjoy sleeping on his face. Fawkes spent most of the night with him while Mrs. Norris showed up to check on her kittens but returned to Argus. He ignored the ongoing issue with the missing guardian as he walked up the stairs to the Headmaster's office. He could hear Molly Weasley's voice and knew that Dumbledore must have tried something stupid last night at King's Cross. The door opened before he could knock. It wasn't a good sign.

"Severus, please join us." Dumbledore was behind his desk. "Lemon drop?"

"No, thank you. Kingsley, Molly." Severus took his normal place, leaning against the wall. He really didn't want to be close to Molly's screeching. "What appears to be the problem?"

"That boy!" Molly almost screamed. "He refused to come with me last night."

"He has a family. They were there to pick him. I'm just glad I didn't have to arrest you." Kingsley had been fighting with the two of them. "Unless you want to be arrested for kidnapping you can't force him to go with you nor are you going to be adopting him." Kingsley looked at Severus. He was hoping the man would help shake some sense into the two Gryffindor Idiots.

"You were already aware of the situation, Albus. Let's also not forget Ronald hasn't endeared himself to Harry." Severus thought that was the politest way he could phrase that Harry loathed Ron due to Ron's own stupidity. If he was being honest with himself, Ron was the male version of his mother, he couldn't stand either of them.

"He needs to learn how to behave. Honestly, hanging around with Death Eaters, being mean to my Ronnie, and in Slytherin."

Kingsley and Severus arched a brow at that. Dumbledore realizing where this was heading decided to stop it from erupting. "Now, Molly, Harry doesn't know anything about Death Eaters. He has raised himself. He needs someone to love and care for him. To be a mother figure."

"Albus, he has a family. If you keep interfering with this you will find yourself under arrest. His family made it very clear last night that they won't put up with another attempt by you to keep Harry. I believe they mentioned having him attend school in America. Amelia was not happy when she learned what has been occurring. I received an informal warning for my part in trying to get him to leave here. The Potter family informed Amelia about the issues Harry has been having with you, Molly, and Ronald."

"Albus, we must do something." Molly whined. "Lily and James would be so shocked and disappointed that their son is in Slytherin."

"I need to go. I have to finish filling out my report on my stolen Auror kit." Kingsley wasn't going to be dragged into the same debate he had every time Dumbledore or Molly mentioned Slytherin. He knew he wasn't the only one to point out not all Death Eaters were Slytherins, just like not all criminals were either. They came from every house.

"See! That is why we need to have custody of Harry. He needs to learn not to steal. Can't we use that?" Molly waved her hands around.

"Molly, as I told you last night and again this morning, I don't know it was him. I was on assignment in Knockturn before that." Kingsley was getting very annoyed. If he had known that Dumbledore was willing to do illegal activities he never would have agreed to work with him. "I'm going to warn you, again, leave Mr. Potter alone. His family has a lot of English connections and they do know how to use them."

"Kingsley, there must be something we can do. We need to protect Harry. He needs our guidance." Dumbledore really needed to gain control over the boy. They needed to have a Savior for the people to rally around, for him to mold Harry into his puppet, and for Harry to defeat Tom.

"No. Amelia was already aware of the situation. Honestly, you're lucky you haven't been charged with kidnapping, child endangerment, and child abuse for taking him from his family in the first place." Kingsley inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled. "Albus, Molly, don't do anything to get the Melrose or the remaining Potter family members upset with you. They have a lot of powerful family members in both worlds."

"That is the same advice I gave you, Albus. All you are doing is alienating the boy with this method of forcing him into whatever mold you want. He has made it very clear that he isn't going to live where you want him to be. Stop pushing him and maybe he might learn to trust you. He never will at the rate you are alienating him." Severus knew Harry was never going to follow Dumbledore. Dumbledore was going to be lucky if the boy stuck around after he heard about the prophecy and Dumbledore's goals.

"I need to leave before I hear more." Kingsley headed for the door. He needed time to compose himself before he arrived back at the Ministry.

Once Kingsley left, Dumbledore turned to Severus. "Severus, you know we need him for the prophecy. He is the Savior and his family is Gryffindor. We have to get him to listen to me."

"Albus, put yourself in his place. You abandoned him at abusive relatives who in turn abandoned him in the woods. He has lived on his own for the last six years. No one but himself to rely upon. You suddenly come along and tell him where he is going to live, without even speaking to him. You made the arrangements before we even had him attending Hogwarts. He comes here and instantly judged for being in Slytherin. The boy didn't even know about Hogwarts until two weeks before he arrived. Now, Molly, your son has called him a snake, traitor, told him that he should have died with his parents, told him his parents would be ashamed of him. You sent him a howler. A howler, Molly. Do you honestly expect him to listen to either one of you after that?" Severus waited for the two biggest talkers he had ever heard to speak. Molly looked confused and was waiting for Dumbledore to guide the conversation. "We have enough issue without either of you being arrested. Leave the boy alone. Perhaps, if you listen to what he has been saying he might be willing to listen to you later, Albus. In other words, stop trying to remove him from his family, stop trying to force your views on him, and stop pushing Gryffindor at him."

Severus knew they wouldn't listen and knew Harry wasn't going to listen to them. Dumbledore ruined any chance he had with Harry when he tried to gain control without even speaking to Harry. Molly ruined her chances with the Howler. Harry barely listened to him and only did when Severus was willing to listen to Harry and not judge him. Severus noticed when he treated Harry with a bit of respect, he got a lot of respect returned. Harry had his own agenda and didn't see a need to change his goals. "I have a potion brewing. I will be leaving for my own holiday after it's complete."

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Harry made his way to the train. He had a great time with his family and was looking forward to returning to America for his summer holiday. He never knew so many different people could live in one place. He met so many cousins, great-aunts, and uncles. Some were squibs but no one in the family cared. There were the professor athletes, professors, businessmen, and even a few grifters but no one judged. He had his own room and no one cared that he was a Slytherin and his parents were Gryffindors.

He found his way to the Slytherin area. Draco, Blaise, and Theo were already sitting in a compartment. They shared their tales about the holiday. Amber was feeling lazy due to all the treats she had received from Harry's family. He discovered he wasn't the only one able to speak to snakes but agreed that it would remain a family secret.

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"Potter, a word in my office." Severus stood behind Harry in the Great Hall. It was after dinner.

"Certainly. Did you enjoy your holiday?" Harry picked up some extra apples.

Once back in Severus' office. Severus looked at Harry. "The Gargoyle?"

"No idea what you are referring." Harry wondered over to the bookcase and began to read the titles. Severus had a lot of interesting books.

"Any idea of when it might make a return? The Headmaster has been most distress-" Severus saw the small smirk on Harry's face and knew Harry did it to distress Dumbledore. "How about it makes a return appearance and I will endeavor to move our lessons along."

"While I can't say I am aware of this return appearance what exactly do you mean move our lessons along?"

Ever the snake and bargain maker. "I will establish some DADA lessons."

"We are already doing DADA lessons." Harry pulled down a book. He began to flip through it.

"Yes, we are. I will add some dueling lessons. I will allow you to have access to the upper year books that you have been wanting to read." Severus just wanted the gargoyle returned so he didn't have to keep trying to locate the stupid thing. "I won't even ask about the mirror."

"No idea what you are referencing. However, if this mysterious gargoyle makes a return I will accept the deal."

"Good. You need to collect your kittens, Mrs. Norris, and Fawkes."

"You're keeping Sophia?" Harry gave him a concerned look.

"Yes, I'm keeping the little fleabag." Actually, Severus loved the little thing. She was great company, didn't destroy his quarters, and always slept with him despite his original desires to have her sleep in her own bed. "Let's go and get your pets. It's almost curfew."

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~Come with me.~ Amber slithered into Harry's room.

~Where?~ Harry was almost asleep. It had been a long day and he was tired. He had his first dueling lesson with Severus earlier. He was right about Severus' fighting skill. The man also knew how to use the environment around him. They had dueled for over two hours with Severus providing tips, hints, and even where to hide a second wand or knives for escaping if you got caught by the enemy. Severus set him with an exercise program that included jogging.

~I was playing with puppy. Old man showed up, again. I followed him. He has a course set up.~ Amber slithered up the bedpost. Fawkes gave her a trill as the kittens attacked her tail.

~Did he put anything worth anything at the end?~ Harry was going to be checking out the area. He had found a lot of hidden treasures in Hogwarts.

~No, but kept saying he needed to find the mirror.~

~Tell me about this course.~ The Mirror. That was very interesting. Harry listened as Amber described the course. He knew he didn't know much about magic but the course sounded too easy for people who knew magic. He would check it out and drag Severus down there if he was required.

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Harry and Amber stood in the last room at the end of the course. ~Too easy. It's a trap for whoever wants to steal whatever Dumbledore planned to put in the mirror. At the same time a test to see who will protect it when the would-be thief goes to take it.~

~Test for you. Trap for who?~

~Not sure. Perhaps that new DADA professor? He has been strange. The two voices, too.~

~True. His wards feel different too.~

~I noticed that. I think we should bring Severus down here when we know what the old man wants to protect.~

~Agreed. We best go before they wonder why you aren't in bed.~

Harry was making his way back to the common room when Severus stepped in front of him. "Early morning stroll, Potter?"

"Yes. Lovely morning fresh air does a body good."

"I see. Perhaps you need more fresh air, say Saturday, detention."

"Nope, I'm good. Toodles."

Severus arched a brow as the boy walked away. Most students, at least, jumped a bit when he appears out of the blue like that. Most would afraid of getting on his bad side. He wasn't sure if he wanted the boy to fear him as it might drive him away from Hogwarts but he also didn't want the boy to think he could get away with anything. Yes, he would be assigned a detention.

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Harry opened the note that appeared in front of him. He read it twice before tearing it up.

"What was that about?"

"Severus assigned me detention for this Saturday. I have things I need to do." Harry needed to go to Gringotts. He had some investments he wanted to talk to Ironclaw about. He also wanted to check on his little home in the woods. He didn't want it to fall into disrepair. He had been there last month and needed to go again. He wanted to keep his options open as he didn't believe he would be remaining at Hogwarts for much longer.

"You can't do that. Do you realize how much trouble you will get into?" Draco was horrified that someone would even think of disobeying his godfather. In Draco's mind, Severus was even scarier than his aunt.

"Draco, do I look like I care?"

"Harry, we can't cover for you." Blaise warned. "He will find out."

"Not worried about it. I have some business I need to take care of." Harry glanced up at the head table. He liked Severus but he had to keep his options open. He didn't trust Dumbledore at all.

"Harry, if you don't show up you could be suspended or expelled." Draco was going to speak to his godfather. He didn't want Harry to leave. He actually liked Harry. Harry didn't care about his money or title. Harry liked him for being just himself. He had never met anyone who didn't know the name Malfoy. He had never met anyone who wanted to be his friend because he was just Draco.

"If it happens it happens." Harry snagged a banana. He really didn't care if he was expelled from Hogwarts. "I need to get to the library before the Know-It-All or I will have to endure her attempt at telling me why she is entitled to the books before I am." He had never met anyone who believed a library was their personal bookcase before Granger.

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"Draco?" Severus was a bit surprised to find Draco at his door before breakfast but allowed him entrance. It had to be important if Draco was up this early in the morning. Draco was rarely up before ten unless it was for school or his parents made him. Since it was Friday and only six AM, he knew it had to be important for Draco to be up and dressed for the day.

"Uncle Severus, I need some advice." Draco was hoping he wouldn't have to rat out his friend. It had been three days since Harry told him he wasn't going to attend his detention and nothing had changed Harry's mind. He and Blaise had tried to speak to Harry about attending the detention and doing whatever he needed to get done the next day. Tomorrow was Saturday.

"I'm always here for you, Dragon." Severus sat down in his favorite chair as he indicated for Draco to take a seat on his rather beat up but comfortable deep chocolate couch.

"I have a dilemma. I don't want to tattle on someone but if I don't it could lead to a much bigger problem. No one will be hurt physically, no one is in danger, but it has long-term consequences." Draco really didn't know what to do and didn't want to rat out his friend but he liked Harry.

"What has Potter done?" Severus had a bad feeling about this.

"He hasn't yet. I know he plans on doing something. Something that I know will make you rather upset and it won't be good for him either." Draco had seen his godfather truly angry and he never wanted to see it again.

Severus thought for a few minutes. He looked at his godson as he remembered seeing Harry tear up his note about the detention. "He isn't going to attend his detention." Severus knew it was going to come to this but it had to be done. The boy needed to learn to obey the rules, learn that he wasn't exempt from them. He didn't want Harry to turn into James. "I will handle it." Draco looked doubtful but left. Severus was a bit doubtful about the solution but he hoped it would work.

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"Potter, see me after class." Severus hated teaching first-year Gryffindor and Slytherins on Friday. Harry looked up from his book but didn't respond. Severus arched a brow and waited but Harry returned to his book. The class was due to start in a few minutes. "Verbal answer, Potter."

Harry looked at Severus. "What crawled up your butt and died?" Harry wasn't sure why Severus was angry and taking his anger out on him. He always read his book and he never got angry before.

"Potter, detention tonight 7, do not be later. Also, do not forget about tomorrow's at 11."

Harry's eyes narrowed. He wasn't sure what was going on. He hadn't done anything differently. "I don't know what is going on but you can take your detentions and stuff them." Harry picked up his books and started to walk out of the class. He needed to get away before he exploded. He knew if he let his temper reign nothing would be accomplished.

"If you leave this room you can forget about any deal we had."

Harry turned. "Done." He exited the classroom and headed for the dorm. His temper was close to the surface. He needed to leave Hogwarts. He also felt something but he wasn't sure what it was. It was like someone punched him.

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Severus closed his eyes. That wasn't how it was meant to go. He knew he was in a bad mood. After Draco left, he had to listen to Dumbledore telling him how they needed to get control over Harry for the Dark Lord was going to return. He spent a half hour listening to the man rant about Potter and Lily. How much they sacrificed for the greater good. Dumbledore had continued the discussion until they arrived at the Great Hall for breakfast. Severus was about to leave to find Harry when the students started arriving. He couldn't leave the Slytherin/Gryffindor first-years alone and expect to come back to a classroom in one piece and the students without injuries. Especially with Draco and Weasley in the same room. "Open your books to page 54."

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Severus watched the clock hit 8. He got up and walked from his office to Harry's dorm. He entered the room to find everyone in the common room doing their assignments or chatting. He didn't see Harry. Draco looked at him and shook his head no. He headed up to the dorm. He knew what he was going to find.

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~So what are we going to do now?~ Amber was curled up by the fire in Harry's bedroom.

~Not sure. Ironclaw gave me the house information. We didn't get a chance to speak about what to do. I will speak to him tomorrow about it during our regular meeting.~ Ironclaw gave Harry the location for the Potter Manor. He explained to Harry how to gain entrance via calling a house elf once he was on the property. The property was unplottable and under a Fidelius Charm. After a lengthy discussion with Amber, she wasn't happy but she went with Harry.

~What about the head snake guy?~ Amber had the kittens curled around her. They left Fawkes and Mrs. Norris at Hogwarts. Amber had given Harry a lecture about Fawkes and Mrs. Norris being left behind.

~He canceled our deals when I told him to stuff his detentions.~ Harry knew it wasn't the right thing to do telling Severus to stuff his detentions but he was willing to stay until the man said their deals would be off. Harry left the classroom because he didn't want to get angry but that backfired. Harry figured he could speak to Severus later.

~That wasn't very smart.~

~Maybe, maybe not. I wasn't going to let him take his mood out on me. I didn't want to get angry at him. If he had asked I might have explained and made different arrangements.~ Harry wasn't used to dealing with adults daily or having them in his life all the time. He wasn't sure if he liked the experience. He was something he was still confused about.

~You let family know?~

~Yes. In the morning. Let's just relax and try to forget this day.~ Harry stared at the fire thinking about the day, Severus, and his new family. Life was much easier before he heard about Hogwarts.

_________________________________________________________________________

"What do you mean he's gone? He not at Hogwarts at all?" Dumbledore was furious. They had spent the night looking for the boy. "How did this happen?" Before Severus could answer Dumbledore's floo went off.

Severus sank down in his chair. He was exhausted. He had tried all the different tracking charms he had placed on the boy and got nothing. Fawkes glared at him and Dumbledore. "Headmaster, I want to speak to Severus Snape."

Severus knew that voice. "Harry?"

"Yes, can we talk without him around?" Harry pointed his thumb in Dumbledore's direction.

"My boy, this is a very serious issue and I need to be involved if you wish to return here. I'm afraid you will be serving detention with me when you return here."

"No and no. Good-bye, I'll contact my American relatives and go to school there. I want nothing to do with you. Severus, I'm sorry for egging you on when you were already in a bad-"

"What do you mean no? You have to attend Hogwarts." Dumbledore couldn't let his weapon go. He needed the prophecy to be fulfilled.

Harry opened his mouth to tell the old fool where he could take Hogwarts but Severus held up his hand. "Thank you, Harry. I appreciate the apology. Perhaps, the Headmaster would allow us to speak privately." Severus glared at Dumbledore. He was hoping the man would understand.

"Yes, yes, fine. I'll leave my office and you may speak here."

"Not happening. Fawkes will take you to me." Fawkes trilled his agreement and landed on Severus' shoulder.

Severus didn't want to give Dumbledore time to disagree. "Ready, Fawkes."

Chapter Text

Severus landed and saw Harry was sitting in a deep burgundy leather highback chair. He realized he was at Potter Manor. He remembered Potter bragging about the burgundy leather highback chairs and showing pictures of them. "Harry, are you here by yourself?"

"There are some house elves and Amber. I lived alone for a long time, Severus, in a one-room shack in the woods." The reminder was clear, Harry wasn't used to adults in his life. The only adults he had before in his life abandoned him. Harry had made arrangements with Ironclaw to have the goblins keep an eye on his home. "Nip will bring us tea in once you sit down." Harry indicated a matching highback chair.

Severus glanced around the room. He recognized it as a type of small sitting room that family members would use to relax in. There was a bookcase on one wall, opposite the fireplace, where they were sitting. He could see some tables with chairs around them for games. A long burgundy Chesterfield was opposite the chairs that they would be occupying. "We have a few things to discuss." Severus sat down. "Including you leaving Hogwarts."

"Agreed. Why did you give me a detention for walking around in the morning? I'm always up that early and you never did before." Harry wasn't going to waste any time. He still wasn't sure if he wanted to return to Hogwarts. He also didn't want to leave on bad terms with Severus. He wasn't sure why he wanted to be on good terms.

Severus wasn't surprised when the tea tray appeared on the table between them. "I never saw you or I would have. Harry, you just can't roam around Hogwarts as if you own it." Severus saw a flicker in Harry's eyes. Harry knew something he didn't. He was going to have to work at figuring it out as he knew Harry wasn't going to tell him.

Harry tilted his head and looked at Severus. "There is nothing in the rules that says I can't walk around in the morning. It says all first and second years must be in the common room by nine, it goes up in time as we age. The rules say no one can roam the halls after midnight till the next morning. I am not breaking any rules."

Severus should have known Harry would find a loophole. He had never really had to deal with early risers or self-sufficient kids as most in his house were pure-bloods who had house elves waiting on them hand and foot. "True, however, most students and staff don't roam around until at least seven AM. I do get up early at times for collecting potion ingredients."

Amber slithered over to Fawkes as the kittens pounced on the bird. Harry watched them for a few seconds. "I like it in the morning, it's quiet. What about the classroom? I didn't do anything different than any other day."

"True. I learned something before class and before I could speak to you. I had an irritating meeting." Severus didn't want to go down this path. He knew if Harry discovered that Draco had come to him Harry might not ever forgive Draco.

"Dumbledore. It doesn't explain why you wanted to speak to me." Harry narrowed his eyes. "Someone went to you about me not going to your detention. However, if you had asked me, you would have found the note I put on your desk in your office saying I needed to speak to you."

Severus had found the note after spending the night looking for Harry but before heading to Dumbledore's office. If Dumbledore hadn't bothered him before breakfast, Severus would have found the note before classes started for the day. "I found it. Harry, I figured it out."

"Someone told you, not directly but subtly. So either Blaise or Draco since they were the only two who knew. Blaise wouldn't because he warned me they couldn't cover. Draco, he's your godson." Draco had bragged about Severus being his godfather. Draco bragged a lot actually, especially about his Father. Harry knew the boy used his father to get away with a lot of things.

"He didn't tell me." Severus knew Harry would figure it out. The boy was smart and a Slytherin. He reminded him of himself in a way but without the bitterness. He even used the same process to draw the straight line to who informed him. Most kids would still ponder who told.

"Please, he went to you." Harry held up his hand. He was never going to understand adults.

Severus sighed, this was it. He knew he needed to be honest or Harry would never trust him. "Yes, he came to me but he didn't give me a name. I put it together when I remembered you tearing up the note. He was worried. What did you need to speak to me about?"

"I had thought of what Draco and Blaise said. I wasn't originally going to tell you why I wasn't going to attend your detention and now it doesn't matter. I'm glad we talked. Fawkes can take you back when you are ready." Harry hid his anger at Draco. He would deal with it later. He was disappointed at his first human friend.

"What about Hogwarts? School? Our deal?" Severus wasn't really sure why he wanted a Potter back at Hogwarts. He was finding he didn't view Harry as a true Potter. Harry never acted like James Potter or Lily. James and Lily were Gryffindors, Harry was all Slytherin. Harry also did something most others didn't do, they got around his harsh demeanor and saw him. He knew he was a bit softer with Harry and Draco than other students.

"I will speak to my American guardians. Perhaps I will go to a school there. I don't like Dumbledore and his tricks. You ended our deals."

~You need to go back. Find out what that old fool is doing in the hidden room.~ Amber nudged the kittens away from her as she slithered over to Harry. Amber liked Hogwarts. There were always rats to eat as well as treats. She even got a nice warm curtain to sleep in.

~I am aware.~ Harry caressed Amber's head. He liked Severus and all the lessons he was learning.

Severus was a bit surprised to hear a tint of hurt in Harry's voice. Maybe he was making a bigger impression than he believed. He knew Harry had affected his life, he wasn't aware he had affected Harry's life as much as he did. "I believe we can work this out. Our deals will remain. I will require you to attend any detention I assign. You will do a week's worth of detentions for this."

"No. I'm not even sure if I want to return. I happened to like my life before Dumbledore came storming back into it. If I do return, I'm not doing a single unearned detention. I didn't earn either of the two you assigned."

~You should have talked to Head Snake before leaving.~ Fawkes trilled. ~Bird Brain agrees with me.~

~I was going to. He is the one who ended our deals, not me. I left the room to not get angry at him.~

~True. Tell him.~

~Fine.~ Harry faced Severus. "Amber wants me to tell you why I left your classroom. I left so not to get angry at you. When you canceled our deals that is when I decided to leave." ~Satisfied?~

~Yes.~ Amber and Fawkes spoke.

Severus was a bit surprised by that. He had thought Harry left in anger as he would have. He leaned back in his chair. It wasn't something he wouldn't have done. He would have vented his anger as he still did. "Do you really want to leave Hogwarts?"

"No, but I will." Harry always had backup plans. He really wanted to find the Founders' rooms and do something about Dumbledore. He wasn't sure what he could do about Dumbledore.

Severus knew Harry would. He made a decision. One he believed would be best. One that would satisfy Dumbledore while not interfering with their deal. "If you return, we start a new clean slate. We will discuss any issues that develop. If we get angry, we will say so and wait until we are both calm to continue. No more leaving Hogwarts until you speak to me. I will keep giving you lessons during the week." He knew Dumbledore wouldn't care as long as Harry returned especially if he put his own spin on it. He would make it out that the deal was his idea and that Harry had already spoken to his magical guardians. Dumbledore would just be happy that Harry returned to question him regarding what he told him.

"No getting rid of my pets and you keep Sophia?" Harry had the elves get the kittens some toys and beds. Harry had only his animals for years as his friends.

Severus wanted to laugh. The boy loved his animals. He had to admit he liked his Sophia. "Yes, you can keep them. Do try to limit your liberating Dumbledore's possessions." He didn't believe it would happen but he to at least attempt to try.

"No idea what you are referencing." Harry kept a straight face. He wasn't going to limit anything concerning Dumbledore.

"I'm sure. Get your things and I'm sure Fawkes will transport us to Hogwarts." Severus was a bit surprised at how well this conversation went. He had expected Harry to be his other snakes. The boy didn't whine, didn't complain, didn't scream about telling his parents. He had yet to hear Harry whine about anything. The boy didn't complain about life being unfair, about his past, or even about how he survived on the streets. Harry's attitude was it happened, big deal, next subject. He knew that the boy process a long time ago what his relatives did and while Harry didn't discuss it, Harry didn't trust easily because of his life.

"I can't, not tonight. I have a meeting at Gringotts tomorrow. That was what I was going to speak to you about." Harry wasn't going to tell all of his secrets. He needed his protection and wasn't about to tell anyone he keep his little shack protected.

"I see. We can return tonight. I will escort you to Gringotts in the morning. I will provide the Headmaster with a logical reason he won't be able to dispute." Severus knew Dumbledore was going to have a temper tantrum when he learned Harry was attending a meeting at Gringotts. There was nothing he could do to prevent it except to give Dumbledore a good enough spin to keep the hissy fit to a minimum. He knew Dumbledore was going to keep trying to get Harry alone but he was going to do whatever possible to prevent that. Dumbledore was getting too focused on achieving his own agenda.

~Badly Dressed going to have a fit no matter what. We go with Bird Brain and Head Snake. Head Snake handle Badly Dressed.~

~Fine. If Dumbledore gives us a problem I'm going to be telling you I told you so for the next year.~

Fawkes flew to Severus' and sat on his shoulder. Fawkes trilled as Harry picked up the kittens. Amber slithered up and around Harry's neck. "I'm ready." Harry would call Nip to gather what he needed and bring his pets their beds and toys.

Severus didn't seem surprised. Harry had everything he owned with him all the time. "Ready, Fawkes."

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Fawkes flashed them into Harry's dorm. No one was in the room. Severus was going to enjoy making his snakes wonder how he got into the dorm without them seeing him. It would certainly add to the lore regarding him. They would never think Fawkes would aid him. "I'll go and speak to Dumbledore. Don't be angry at Draco. He was trying to protect you."

Harry put his kittens on the bed. Mrs. Norris hopped onto the bed. Amber slithered into her favorite part of the bed curtains while Fawkes went to his stand. He glanced at Draco's bed. Draco was Harry's first human friend despite him not knowing the name Malfoy.

"Harry, think about it." Severus headed to Dumbledore's office but stopped to warn Draco that Harry knew and wasn't happy.

"He'll get over it, I'm sure. I'm just glad he's back." Draco hoped Harry would get over it.

Chapter Text

Severus needed a headache potion. He knew he should keep a supply near him when he had to visit Dumbledore. "Albus, be happy he returned." Severus wished he waited until the morning to have this discussion but he acknowledged that Dumbledore would have kept pounding on his wards until Severus opened his door and answered his questions.

"We can't let him leave again. We have to get him away from that family and with the Weasley."

"Albus, have you been listening to the words that have been coming out of my mouth." Yes, Dumbledore was going to turn him into an alcoholic. "If you keep doing what you are doing he will go to school in America. Our deal is simple, you leave him alone, get the annoying little trio to stop bothering him. I mean it, Granger, Weasley and his mother need to leave him alone. He isn't James Potter and isn't a Gryffindor. He grew up fending for himself. He certainly isn't going to want Molly Weasley near him." Severus wished he could hit Dumbledore over the head with his own lemon drops. He wondered if he could get Poppy to do a mental health check on Dumbledore.

"You know what he must do."

"Yes, I do. However, there hasn't been a sign of His return. You said you thought it was Quirrell but he is dead. This new guy isn't much better either. He might actually be the walking dead." Severus hadn't even bothered to learn the man's name. He was just as insipid as Quirrell had been. Expert with Trolls, yeah, up to the Troll beheaded the man.

"You can't take him to Gringotts tomorrow." Dumbledore needed to find a way to regain control.

"Yes, that will work oh so well." Severus resisted the urge to give Dumbledore one of his glares. "I will be taking him or he will go himself and never return. It's your choice. I would hope you select me escorting him."

"Severus, he is too independent. We can't have him just running around without guidance."

"I agree, we can't. However, if you keep trying to force yourself, Molly, Granger, and Weasley on him, you are going to give him no option but to leave. You are so set on him filling the mold of his father, you're ignoring who he is." Severus was so thankful the boy wasn't his father. He had dreaded another Potter at Hogwarts. The Marauders were more than enough for Hogwarts and him.

"This deal, he will be taking lessons with you, three days a week, while remaining here?"

"Yes, and no, you are not attending the lessons, Albus. You have seven years to get the boy to like you. Stop forcing yourself on him. You're acting like a spoiled brat who has had his favorite toy taken away. The mess on the train platform should be warning enough. His family will take action."

"Fine, for now. I will permit these lessons and your escorting him to Gringotts."

Severus did everything but roll his eyes at Dumbledore's words. He was going to be taking the boy there anyways. Dumbledore was hiding more than Severus thought. Also, Severus had a feeling that Dumbledore was going to try and influence what he taught Harry and even attempt to find a way to attend the lessons.

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"I need to get new books." Harry eyed the bookstore as they exited the Leaky Cauldron. He would also pick up their mail-order catalog.

"On the way back. I need to pick up my order of books and you need some books for your lessons." Severus was actually surprised by the amount of reading and studying Harry did. Draco and Harry were going back and forth on for the top student of the year. Despite Granger, with Dumbledore's backing, claiming she was the brightest witch of her generation. Well, technically, she was the brightest witch but not the brightest of her generation. They didn't speak until they arrived at Gringotts. "Harry, I'll wait over here." Severus knew Dumbledore would want to find out what was discussed but Severus wasn't like Dumbledore.

"I won't be long."

Harry POV:

Harry headed into Ironclaw's office. There wasn't much to cover, just investments, making sure his properties were protected, and Dumbledore. "How can I make sure he doesn't try and dose me with potions or even some spells." Harry had been reading a lot of Severus' books, especially his potion books. There were a lot of interesting and dangerous potions in some of the books.

"We have a few ways to handle that problem. Since you have house elves, have one handle all of your meals, clean your clothes and room. There are so many elves at Hogwarts that aren't owned by Hogwarts one more won't bother anyone. Now, I'm going to put into your account all changes require a test and purge if necessary. I will also raise the security level on your accounts. You could also add your clean blood. If your blood is tainted it won't grant access."

"Let's do it. Also, can we add Amber? Make it so that Amber has to give the clearance?" Amber peeked her head out and hissed her agreement.

Ironclaw was a bit surprised. "We can set it up so that she can be the extra security measure but not the only one to be able to get in and anyone with her would have to be given truth serum. We don't want someone using spells on her." He knew the snake was very protective of Harry.

"Oh, I like that idea. Can we make it for any major changes? I have to take truth serum, being asked if I'm doing it of my own free will, no potions, no pressure?" Harry wasn't going to take any chances. He didn't want to lose everything because of a potion.

"Excellent." Ironclaw was going to mention some of the ideas they came up with to the King. They could see more house elves if they offered it as a package deal. Ironclaw was very happy after Harry left. Harry mentioned some muggle things like debit cards, ATMs, and credit cards. Harry showed him what the muggles used, how the muggles used the cards and ATM's. Since it was close enough to the Gringotts' card and the way the keys worked, Ironclaw knew the King would use the newest muggle financial technology. It would make it easier for the wizards to blend into the muggle world. Harry and Ironclaw getting a small percent, of course.

Severus and Harry spent over an hour at the bookstore before hitting a few other stores for supplies. They purchased animal supplies. Severus tried to hide he was buying toys and treats for Sophia. "I did see."

"I have no idea what you are referencing." Severus arched his brow at Harry, who was laughing at him. Sophia even had her own spot in his lab.

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Since it was after lunch, Severus was settling down to start reviewing students assignments as he always did on Friday afternoons. He heard a knock on the door. "It's the blond brat." The Guardian of his door announced. "The one who thinks he is important."

"His name is Draco Malfoy and he is my godson." He wondered why he hadn't changed his Guardian. He remembered, all the others were either Gryffindors or dunderheads, in most cases both. "Let him in."

"Your funeral." The door opened.

"That door hates me." Draco strode in like he owned the place.

"I hate everyone." The door slammed shut.

"What do you need Draco?" Severus hadn't really had much free time during the week because no matter how many times Severus kicked Dumbledore out of attending any lessons with Harry the man never got the message. He knew Harry had liberated a few things from the man when Harry handed him a tin of lemon drops saying no one would eat them.

"I've come for some advice. Harry hasn't spoken to me all week. He hasn't even looked at me."

"Did you apologize?" Severus knew Draco worked on the theory if you ignored an issue it would either go away or resolve itself. Draco's last resort was to ask Daddy to fix it. Also, a lot of people allowed Draco to get away with things because of Lucius and the Malfoy name.

"Why? I didn't do anything wrong. He could have been expelled."

"Draco, you betrayed a friend's confidence. While you did do the right thing how else could you have handled it?" Severus agreed with Draco in one sense. He had hoped the boys would have worked it out already.

Draco made a face. "I should have talked to him before coming to you. I just didn't want him to get expelled."

"Draco, Harry doesn't work on the theory that if you ignore it you become friends again when it's minor issues. You are his first human friend."

"Him and his animals." Draco actually enjoyed all of Harry's animal friends. "I'll give it a try."

Severus didn't comment as Draco left. Harry and Draco were learning what true friendship was about.

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Harry was watching Dumbledore enter the maze below Fluffy. He had made friends with the three-headed dog after giving it numerous pieces of steak. Amber was slithering on the rafters following Dumbledore. Harry had already seen the course Dumbledore had set. He also recognized all the subtle hints when Dumbledore interrupted his lessons with Severus. Harry knew the man expected Harry to do this little test with his two pawns. Harry already looked up Nicholas Flamel and connected the Stone to what Dumbledore was hoping he would protect. Dumbledore had put it "safely" hidden in some weird goblet with wards around it. Harry had removed it that night and he knew Dumbledore was doing checking on the Stone. Amber followed Dumbledore down the trap door. Harry stepped out of his hiding spot and started to pet Fluffy. "So, you almost got him. Next time, center head, wait until he is jumping to lunge at him."

The dog wagged its tail and they settled in to wait for Amber's return. It didn't take long for Amber to return. *He is coming back and is furious.*

Harry hid as he heard Dumbledore opening the trap door. Fluffy lunged at him and as Dumbledore jumped out of the way, the center head bit him in the butt. Harry could hear the fabric of Dumbledore's robe rip. "Merlin, let me go you flea-bitten mutt."

Amber started snickering as Harry covered his own laughter. Fluffy released Dumbledore. The man tried to run but his butt was bleeding. Fluffy lunged at him again. Dumbledore sprinted out the door. Harry was going to enjoy that memory.

*He tried to find the cup.*

*Good thing we move it.* Harry picked up Amber. *It's almost time for dinner. I'm sure someone will wonder where we are.*

*Yes, Head Snake and Blondie will wonder. You have to forgive him soon.*

*I'm aware. Everything will be back to normal by the end of the weekend.*

*Good. Blonde Boy will be better friend.*

*I know. We saw him going to talk to Severus. Severus will clue him in and everything will be good.*

*You missed him this week.* Amber's voice was filled with the self-satisfaction of being right.

Chapter Text

Harry glanced at Draco as he entered their dorm room. Amber hung her head down low enough from the curtain for Draco to give her a scratch on the head. Harry kept playing with Nanook while Mrs. Norris was cleaning her other two kittens. Fawkes was sleeping. Sophia had been in during the morning but she was already back in Severus' quarters.

"Hello." Draco kept scratching Amber.

*He better apologize now.* Amber lifted her head a bit higher. *He feels bad.*

Harry arched a brow. He wasn't going to speak to Amber as he didn't want to get into a debate with the snake. Amber had wanted Harry to make up with Darco a lot sooner but also knew Draco was the one in the wrong. Draco should have come to him first before ratting him out to Severus.

"If I were to apologize for going to my godfather before speaking to you what would you do?" Draco had made sure that no one was around. He didn't want Harry to reject his apology in front of others. Not that Malfoy men apologized.

"I don't know. How about we find out?" Harry kept playing with Nanook. Harry actually liked dealing with other Slytherins. He understood them and was able to deal with them.

Draco huffed a bit but straightened up. "I'm sorry. I should have spoken to you first but I was concerned. I know we tried to talk you out of it but I should have spoken to you before going to my godfather." Draco didn't have a lot of true friends. He wanted Harry as one because Harry didn't care about his name, his father, or his money.

"Accepted. Don't do it again." Harry threw his pillow at Draco. Harry's bed was the most comfortable thing he had ever slept in. He had ordered new pillows and bedding via owl. Hogwarts wasn't home but since he discovered he had money he didn't mind spending a little bit here and there for some comfort things. To him, his bed was one thing he loved to spend money on.

"Watch the hair." Draco sat down on the bed. He had shown Harry how to mail order via owl and Harry had excellent taste. "I thought you were going to make me really work for it."

"I could have made this week worse for you. I figured you didn't mean to cause problems but to prevent them, so-" Harry shrugged his shoulders. He understood why Draco did what he did. He couldn't say if he would or wouldn't have done the same thing. "How about we cement our new found forgiveness policy with a prank on the Rule Lover and the Moron?"

Draco smirked. "What do you have in mind?"

Harry pulled out one of Severus' potions books from under his blanket. "Since they seem to want to be a duo why not make them so?" Harry opened the book as Draco picked up Midnight and sat on the bed.

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"Severus, do you have any idea?" Dumbledore was looking at Granger and Weasley. The pair were sitting on a bed and had a magical band wrapped around them. No one had been able to break it so far. They couldn't get the two apart. Granger and Weasley were stuck each other with very little room for them to move. The band was glowing red since the two weren't moving. When they tried to separate them the band turned a deep scarlet red with flashing bits of orange sparking around the band.

Severus ran a few scans. "It's a potion. I will need to make the counter to it. It will take at least a day to make the potion." He knew who made the potion. He had let Harry borrow the book. It was the only book that had the potion mentioned. Draco had asked for some lab time two days ago. The counter only took a few hours to brew. He knew that Harry had done it to get the duo to leave him alone.

Dumbledore was still trying to get Harry to follow him but he had back off a bit on the forcing him to live with the Weasley family. He was still trying to get Granger and Weasley to be friends with Harry. Weasley stopped the name calling and now followed Granger's lead of trying to find a way to assist Harry with his work. Dumbledore thought Granger's assistance was required. Severus hadn't been able to fathom how that worked when Granger was below Draco and Harry in rankings. "Any idea how this happened?"

"No, Albus. It's a prank potion." Severus wasn't going to provide Dumbledore with any reason to pull Harry into his office or give Dumbledore any reason to interact with Draco. They were his snakes and his responsibility. He knew Dumbledore would place the blame fully on Draco and declare he was making an example of him while saying Harry just followed Draco's lead.

"I'll speak to the Twins." Minerva left the Infirmary as Weasley tried to scream about his brothers but all that came out was bubbles.

"That is a different potion. It will take me over 24 hours to make the solution as it needs to rest for ten hours." Severus was impressed. Two pranks that worked well together wasn't something most first years managed. He wasn't surprised, Draco and Harry are very intelligent. He had been tutoring Draco since he was old enough to hold a stirrer. Harry used his instinct. Draco had a natural ability too.

---------------------------------------------

"Potter, Malfoy, my office." Severus entered the common room. He prey was sitting on the black leather couch facing the fireplace. His new assistants were laughing at a story that Theo was telling about the idiotic duo's band. The gossip mill was also at work. Severus watched Draco send a quick glance at Harry as Harry put Mrs. Norris on the couch. Amber was curled up in front of the fireplace on the hearth. Harry put the rest of the kittens with their mother. Draco knew they were in trouble. Once in Severus' office, they took the two chairs in front of his desk. "I was summoned to the Infirmary."

"Really? Are you alright? Did Madam Pomfrey find something strange?" Harry's voice was filled with concern. "Should you be walking around?" Draco decided he wasn't going to open his mouth. He certainly wasn't expecting Harry to be so calm about being caught. He knew his godfather didn't care for pranks.

"Thank you for your concern. However, I was summoned up there regarding two lions who are currently suffering under some potions that I know the two of you created."

"No idea what you are referencing. I would never hurt two lions. Mrs. Norris would never speak to me again if I hurt relatives of hers."

"Harry, you know exactly who I mean. The potions come from a book you borrowed. You two will be making the solutions to the potions." Severus laid the potion book on his desk. "You have 24 hours to make the solutions. Potion lab 2 is opened. Since you weren't technically caught, there will be no detention."

"Nope, we don't have to." Harry grinned.

"Already made them, Uncle Severus." Draco put the potions on Severus' desk. "We figured you might have needed them."

"Exactly. We just knew. It's why we needed to use the lab." Harry picked up the potion book from Severus' desk. "There are some really interesting potions in your books."

"I'm aware. Since the solutions have been created I give you each ten points for forwarding thinking." Severus was actually very impressed that they had the solutions already created. It certainly saved him a lot of time. "Now, since I seem to have some free time why don't you show me what else you have created?"

Harry leaned back in his chair and when Draco went to speak Harry kicked him. "No idea what you are referencing."

"Not as a professor or student discussion. As a potion master to two future apprentices." Severus knew Harry might not speak but Draco would. Draco trusted him. He was Draco's godfather. Harry still hadn't made the leap to fully trusting Severus.

"Terms of this deal." Harry still had the book in his hands. He sat up a bit. This could be interesting.

Severus could see Draco was a bit impressed. If he was honest with himself, he was too. Harry always seemed to be three steps ahead of him and Dumbledore. Normally, Severus was usually three steps ahead. He had to be as he was a spy and it kept him alive. He just wasn't expecting an eleven-year-old to do it. He folded his hands in front of him. "Simple, you don't do anything to hurt anyone. We will have private lessons on Saturday mornings. Yes, Harry, your other lessons will continue. If you two do as well as I believe, in your fifth year I will draw up apprenticeship contracts for each of you."

"Defense?" Harry knew Severus had his Masters in Potions and Defense.

"If it warrants it, I will include it. We can discuss the terms at the time. I will keep track of your progress separately from your grades. Your grades must remain in the top percentage." Severus knew that Harry and Draco would be in the top percentage. They worked hard and in Slytherin, the older years assisted the younger years.

Harry and Draco exchanged a quick look. Harry faced Severus. "I accept."

"I do too." Draco held out his hand.

Severus resisted the urge to smirk as he shook their hands. "I'll heal the two morons tomorrow. Now, how about you show me what else you have brewed."

Chapter Text

Amber was following Dumbledore. The man was down below the dog again as he was making sure no one had been down in his little stage area. Amber decided to have some fun and every time Dumbledore bent over she started hissing at him.

The first time Dumbledore pulled out his wand and waved it around. She remained hidden and waited. When he was done waving his wand she followed him again hissing when he bent over. She waited as he again scanned the area. When he moved into the next room she started hissing again. The man was getting jumpy. So she started hissing at each hesitant step he took.

*Teach him to try and trap my Harry in this scams.* Amber hissed as Dumbledore. The dog barked his agreement. The other two heads added their agreement. *Next time, all three of you bite him.* The dog's tail started wagging.

________________________________________________________________

Harry watched the Book Lover and Moron leaving Dumbledore's office, again. He had seen them leaving Dumbledore's office this morning. They had shown up at the library mentioning Nicholas Flamel and the Gringotts robbery. Draco and Harry had been working on their Charms assignment when the two idiots sat close to them. He was aware of the information from the other hints they duo dropped.

Draco arched a brow as Granger started talking about the Gringotts robbery. Weasley was the one who mentioned seeing Nicholas Flamel and the stone on the back of Dumbledore's card. They kept talking despite Mrs. Pince warning them to lower their voices. They were finally thrown out. "So that is what is hidden on the third floor."

"I believe so." Harry wondered if Dumbledore really thought he was stupid enough to try that course. There was only a month left until the end of the year.

"He really wants you to do that course and you know he is going to try and force you to go with the Weasleys." Draco looked at the law book section. "Perhaps we should mention this to our family?"

"I agree. My relatives need to be at the train station so Dumbledore can't do anything." Harry had Mrs. Norris and Amber, along with other animals, watching the area that Dumbledore had tried to put the stone. The stone that he kept checking on was a good fake. Harry knew who owned the original but he was going to have to find out more information on why Dumbledore wanted him to do this course. Fawkes might have some information about the stone and Dumbledore's plans.

Draco grinned. Draco and Harry were going to be in America for a few weeks at the beginning of the holiday. Harry would spend the last few weeks in England with the Malfoy family. They knew that Dumbledore would throw a fit when he learned that Harry was in England and staying with the Malfoy family.

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*We tell the Head Snake?* Amber slithered closer to Fawkes. *Bird Brains said the Old Goat set it up as a test for you.* The bird gave off a lot of heat.

*I'm not sure. While he has supported us he does work for the Old Goat. There hasn't been anyone else going down there and his pets might try it but only when he tells them.* Harry was sitting next to Mrs. Norris. Her kittens were playing with the dog. Each head had its own kitten climbing all over them.

*True.* Amber nudged Mrs. Norris with her tail. Mrs. Norris started meowing as Fawkes trilled. *They agree with you. Bird Brain said we wait. The Old Goat won't want anyone hurt because he would have to explain it.*

*So we ignore it. The mirror is in a safe spot and when we leave here I will write a letter to the Stone's owner.* Harry had read about the stone. He found the concept interesting but he wasn't interested in living forever.

*It will drive the Old Goat nuts.* Amber raised her head up, giving her own version of a smile.

*Added benefit.* Harry laughed.

________________________________________________________________

"I think you need to explain what exactly happened?" Severus looked around the infirmary. Longbottom, Granger, and Weasley were laying in three beds. He had delivered the cure to the poison that Granger had swallowed. He wondered what Dumbledore had done to allow three first years to even reach his potion making obstacle. He saw the tail of Amber as she slithered under one of the beds.

Poppy was hustling around scanning the three dunderheads. Minerva was standing next to Dumbledore and they were standing at the end of the middle bed which had Longbottom laying on it. "We shall discuss it in my office after Poppy informs us of their status." Dumbledore looked puzzled. He had been staring at the three lions.

Poppy turned at Dumbledore's words. "They will be fine by tomorrow. The slow acting poison is almost out of Ms. Granger's system."

"Thank you, Poppy, for your excellent work as always. Severus, Minerva, let's discuss this in my office." Dumbledore didn't give anyone a chance to decline as he headed for the door.

Severus arched a brow as Minerva huffed. "He isn't getting out this that easily. I want to know how those three ended up down there." Minerva sighed. "Poppy, let me know when they're released."

Severus wanted his own answers and didn't hear Poppy reply. He had a feeling that they would be having a snake listening to their conversation while they discussed this new situation in Dumbledore's office. Severus noticed that Amber was already gone.

_____________________________________________________________________

Severus looked around Dumbledore's office but saw no sign of Amber. Fawkes was sitting on his stand with his head under his wing. Severus finally sat down. Minerva gave him a strange look as Severus usually wasn't so paranoid while in Dumbledore's office.

"Severus?" Minerva ignored Dumbledore. Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, getting tea ready.

"Albus, explain how Ms. Granger ended up drinking my poison?" Severus was sure that Dumbledore had a hand in why those three were down in that area and going after the stone. He wondered why Dumbledore thought Harry would join them. Harry had shown no interest in anything the duo or Dumbledore spoke about around him.

"Where was Harry?" Dumbledore had been wondering why Harry hadn't even gone to the third floor. He knew his pets had talked about Nicholas and the stone around Harry and Draco. He had hoped that Draco might have joined Harry.

"He is in the common room, studying." Severus had hoped it wasn't a test for Harry. He had hoped he had been wrong about Dumbledore's intention but why else bring the stone to Hogwarts. He knew that Harry wouldn't follow the breadcrumbs that Dumbledore must have leaked out to the boy. Dumbledore wasn't giving up on the idea of Harry being a true Gryffindor.

"I see. I'm not sure exactly how the three of them ended up down there. They informed me that they feared you were going to steal the stone. They went down there to protect it. Neville got hurt when he fell through the Devil's Snare. Ronald got hurt when he beat the chessboard. Hermione drank the wrong potion. They didn't get to the stone. I retrieved it." Dumbledore held up the stone. The stone started to change color causing Dumbledore to drop it. When it landed on the desk it was a regular rock.

"Albus?" Minerva picked up the rock. She ran her fingers over it. "Glamour spell."

"I made sure no one was down there. I checked all year." Dumbledore began to think when he checked on it last time. "I checked on it last week. It was fine."

"Did you pick it up?" Severus had a feeling he would need to speak to Harry. The boy was very good.

"I didn't. I checked the wards." Dumbledore sighed. "I have to tell Nicholas that it was stolen. I know they saved some of the elixir. I will also speak to Kingsley and see if he can come and check the area."

"Are you sure Potter didn't have anything to do with this, the mirror, your gargoyle?" Minerva wasn't exactly thrilled when Dumbledore made his crazy plan to bring the stone here. She still hadn't forgiven Dumbledore for what he had tried to do to Harry. This year, she was sure, was giving her more grey hairs than she needed.

"Yes, as I've stated, everything has been warded. I have checked the wards and they were all intact. The real stone had to be have stolen over the last few days." Dumbledore was trying to remain calm but inwardly, he was very worried. The mirror and now the stone had been stolen. The mirror didn't belong to him. The owner didn't even know he had actually removed it from their home and brought it to Hogwarts. They had been living in France for the last decade and Dumbledore used their home at times to get away. He had to find the mirror.

"I can rerun the scans but I don't think I will find anything beyond what you found, Albus." Severus was thinking about Amber. He wondered about Harry. Could the boy be an animal speaker by the way he collected animals? Harry wouldn't know. Dumbledore worked hard at making sure anyone with skills he didn't approve of weren't aware of them. Animals speaking was one of those skills.

"Where is Harry spending his summer holidays?"

Dumbledore's question bought Severus out of his musings. "He mentioned his American relatives meeting him on the platform." Severus hadn't asked Harry. He had heard Draco and Harry making plans to visit each other during their studying in the common room. Severus usually spent Tuesday and Saturday night in the common room to assist students.

"I see." Dumbledore frown quickly disappeared. "I was hoping he might be willing to stay with the Weasleys for the summer."

"Albus, you know he won't." Minerva sighed. "The boys do not get along."

"That is an understatement. Weasley has made it very clear his opinion on my snakes." Severus didn't even want to think what would happen if Harry and the twins decided to plot together. The twins were very inventive and with Harry's penchant for not getting caught he wasn't sure if Hogwarts would survive. Severus watched Dumbledore. The man was planning on something. He hoped he wasn't going to do anything stupid. So far the man was providing that he wasn't as smart as Severus thought he was.

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Harry was standing next to Draco. Molly Weasley was screaming at Lucius and his great Aunt Matilda and her husband, Thurston. "Dumbledore." Harry should have known Dumbledore was going to try something. The last few months had been Dumbledore free. Well, free of him listening to the man and his two pets.

"Yes. Father is going to bury him and Weasley." Draco began to watch the crowd. Many were shocked at the behavior being displayed by Molly Weasley. The older society ladies were watching all of the Weasley family. Draco noticed the twins weren't near their mother. Molly's voice filled the air so everyone could hear her ranting about Death Eaters, Harry, and Dumbledore. Her biggest thing was making sure Harry went home with her.

"He is coming with us. We have signed forms saying we will be adopting him. I don't care about what some flakey Americans say. The boy is a citizen of the United Kingdom and should be staying in here. Not being corrupted by who knows what. They could be dark. No one knows anything about them." Molly had been ranting about his relatives being dark and corrupting Harry. She kept insisting his relatives could be Death Eaters.

"Funny thing about laws. The law states that they have custody of Harry Potter, not Albus Dumbledore and certainly not you. I would like to know where and when you received this paper." Lucius knew it wasn't legal. It would have been all over the news if Molly Weasley had legal guardianship over Harry Potter. There also would have been noticed served to Harry and his relatives.

"As would we. We have custody of our great-nephew since before he started Hogwarts. I do believe our Minister will be receiving a call about this when we get home." Thurston was a short, stout man. His full white hair was combed back and smooth down. He was dressed in a deep green robe. He was a lawyer in America.

"I agree. Harry shouldn't be subject to this every time we come to get him." Matilda was an older version of Molly Weasley, except she had white long hair that was braided down her back and didn't have Molly's attitude. "Perhaps it's time to discuss changing schools."

"I'm beginning to agree." Thurston added.

"Or headmasters." Someone in the crowd yelled out.

Before Molly could respond, the Aurors finally arrived. It was a group of five Aurors. Harry could have sworn he heard Kingsley groan as he saw the group of three arguing. Harry waved at the man as he moved closer. Aurors carried such interesting things.

"What is the problem?" Kingsley knew he was going to regret asking. He did as soon as almost everyone on the platform started yelling about Molly Weasley. He should have stayed home today. He wished he had sent another head Auror.

"She trying to kidnap me, again." Harry informed them once the Aurors got everyone quiet. He could see the Aurors were a bit surprised but the crowds started whispering and the volume grew.

Kingsley closed his eyes briefly as his co-workers moved toward the crowd of people. He knew this was going to blow up for Dumbledore. Molly Weasley was screaming at people as they were informing his co-workers of what had happened. "Molly, give me the papers." Molly thrust the handful of papers at Kingsley. He looked through them. "Molly, this is a blank adoption form."

"I know. I told them we are going to adopt Harry. His parents would have wanted us to have him since he won't return to his relatives in Surrey."

Harry was about to respond but Lucius beat him to it. "Why would he go back to relatives that abandoned him in the woods? You make him sound ungrateful. You are ignoring the fact that he survived on his own for over five years on the streets of London because Albus Dumbledore didn't bother to check on him."

"Don't you go slandering Albus Dumbledore. Albus cares about Harry. He wants the very best for him. As far as that boy being abandoned in the woods or living on the streets, please. He is just telling tales to gain attention. He needs a mother and father to stop his lies. He hangs around with Slytherins so it's not surprising that he would lie and steal."

Harry glared at Molly Weasley. Dumbledore had been telling tales about him. "The same Albus Dumbledore who lost the Mirror of Erised and the Sorcerer's Stone that he had hidden in Hogwarts? The same Albus Dumbledore who set up a trial under a three-headed dog that allowed three first years Gryffindors pass by leaving one poisoned and the other two with broken bones? That Albus Dumbledore?" Harry was about to continue but he heard parents demanding answers from their children. Draco and Harry watched chaos break out. Molly trying to defend Dumbledore while parents were demanding answers from their children. The students confirmed the part about the poisoning and broken bones. Kingsley and the Aurors were finally able to get everyone calmed down.

"Mr. Potter, I have some questions for you." Kingsley faced Harry.

"You can ask all the question you want but the memories will be submitted to the Ministry by my account manager tomorrow. I already arranged for it to be done. I'm sure my aunt and uncle will be able to take me to Gringotts." Harry wasn't taking any chances. He wanted everything certified.

"Yes, we will." Matilda agreed. "They will be certified. I am not going to have you question my nephew without our British solicitor present as soon as we attain one."

"Lord Malfoy, may we request a reference for one here in the United Kingdom that might be of assistance in this situation?" Thurston could see the Aurors had pulled Molly Weasley away and were speaking to her.

"Certainly. I will owl my barrister's information when I get home." Lucius knew Molly was going to report everything directly to Dumbledore.

Soon the adults were making arrangments as Kingsley and his co-workers were taking down information. "You did that on purpose."

Harry grinned at Draco. "Weasleys need to learn to mind their own business." Amber hissed about the goodies that Harry collected.

Chapter Text

Harry and Draco were sitting with the students from Hogwarts. The Wizenagamot had taken numerous memories and summoned students to ask them questions about what happened during the last year at Hogwarts. Harry's relatives had hired Lucius' suggested barrister to represent him. The barrister spoke to numerous other parents. The parents after reading the statements agreed to have Lucius' barrister speak for their children.

"Albus Dumbledore has been overstepping his bounds. He has repeatedly ignored the fact that he isn't Mr. Potter's guardian. As a Headmaster, he has endangered his students by allowing such dangerous artifacts into Hogwarts. He admits he had no idea where they are currently residing in Hogwarts. The protection he set-up to stop some attempted theft was bypassed by three first years. Yes, they did get hurt but they should never have been able to get that far." Richard Lawyer was their Barrister. He had been burying Dumbledore. Dumbledore had tried to defend himself by saying he had warned students to away from the third floor. That backfired when Mr. Lawyer showed the memories of the Welcoming Feast and the warning. No one was impressed with Dumbledore's warning.

"We agree. As such, Albus Dumbledore, there will be no more interference between Mr. Potter and his family. You will be subjected to quarterly inspections by the Board with surprise inspections during the year. If you fail any of the inspections you will be removed from Hogwarts." Fudge handed some parchment to Madam Bones. "We have asked for the advice of the ICW. They have provided us with guidelines on the magical schools follow which Hogwarts has not been following. The Board and Wizengamot are in agreement in their decision. You will bring Hogwarts up to those guidelines by the time school starts in September."

"We have issued a magical restraining order against Mrs. Molly Weasley in reference to Harry Potter and his family." Madam Bones added for the record. "In the order, we also state that there will be no name calling by Mr. Ronald Weasley. We have already issued a warning to Miss Ginevra Weasley. Miss Weasley during our numerous visits shared her thoughts on becoming Lady Potter."

"What?" Harry's relatives weren't happy about this news. All of them looked at their barrister. They were aware of some contracts that were created because numerous people believed that since Harry had no legal guardian they could create one and it would be accepted. They had already a plan of action for voiding the contracts.

"What?" Harry wasn't going to marry any Weasley. The only two he liked were the twins. The twins were an interesting pair. They hid a lot of their own talent. Percy was too straight-laced. Molly and Ron Weasley were annoying. He had only seen the daughter when she was staring at him. She actually gave him the creeps. He felt Draco place a hand on his left arm in reassurance. Harry relaxed a bit.

"We have a marriage contract." Molly wasn't about to let anyone stop her daughter from being Lady Potter. "I will sue!"

Mr. Lawyer rose. "I would like to see it. There is nothing on file. We have checked with Gringotts. We did find numerous illegal ones. All of them will be submitted for magical justification. Gringott will handle the situation. We will ask for each contract that hasn't been withdrawn by the end of the week to be subjected to full punishment by magic and the law. The goblins will be handling the punishment aspect."

Dumbledore was already talking to Molly. Molly was trying to object to what Mr. Lawyer was saying. Madam Bones was writing notes down. "We are in agreement with that. Any contracts not withdrawn will be submitted by Sunday night by Gringotts. The ritual for justification will be on Monday at 1 at the ritual room in Gringotts with the Head of the Department of Mystery, Minister Fudge, and myself present." Madam Bones handed over the paperwork to Fudge. "As you can see, Supervisor Goldsword has over one hundred and fifteen contracts listed."

Harry smirked. He knew Dumbledore had done it again. Harry knew most of the contracts were done by those without any power in the Wizengamot and he expected the news to spread like wildfire. Dumbledore didn't look very happy. Molly Weasley looked ready to kill someone.

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Harry read the letter his barrister had sent. He wanted to laugh. Almost all of the contracts had been withdrawn. There had been a few that weren't withdrawn due to a variety of reasons. They were declared null and void. Mr. Lawyer had sent a copy of the marriage contract that Molly Weasley had spoken about. Lucius had read it and showed Harry and his relatives why their barrister had highlighted certain sections.

"Dumbledore signed this. He granted the Weasley family control over my money and seats after he kicks it?" Harry read the paragraph again. Lucius pointed out another section. Lucius was explaining that since Dumbledore included that he would be responsible for any children until his death, Harry wouldn't even be able to determine who his kids married, what school, even if they could attain Hogwarts. Dumbledore would decide all that. After Dumbledore's death, it was Molly followed by a list of known Order members. Dumbledore had Harry's life and those of his children's wrapped up. He had even included what career Harry was going to have. Dumbledore had him being an Auror. Lucius had explained that James was an Auror.

Harry's variety of relatives were asking a lot of questions regarding the difference between British laws and American laws when it came to some of the contracts. Americans didn't have a lord system so their lawmaking sessions were different. "He really wanted to control everything Harry's family left?" Ian Potter was a bit surprised at what Dumbledore was willing to do.

"Harry would never control his vaults, his seats, or even his life. He has everything tied up." Lucius explained the rest of the sections, the restrictions, including Harry would follow Dumbledore's orders in regards to any actions in Wizengamot. Dumbledore included any public speaking engagements. "Dumbledore included a list of public speaking engagements."

"Public speaking engagements?" Harry was a bit confused. He started flipping through the contact to find the public speaking engagements.

Lucius had to summon Severus because he didn't have some of the answers regarding what Dumbledore meant by the Old Crowd. Lucius had tried to explain what he knew about the Order but he was still unsure of things. Severus knew the Order, how they worked, and how Dumbledore handled the Order and its members. They had to explain the last war to Harry and his family including how the Potters died. Severus explained how he heard the prophecy. Severus than explained Dumbledore's theories about the Dark Lord returning and Harry's roll in the forthcoming war.

"He slipped out of that wrap around jacket." Harry summoned up his feelings on them. His relatives wanted to withdraw Harry from Hogwarts after Severus and Lucius explained everything. Harry was able to talk them out of it. Severus backed up Harry regarding Harry's lack of interest in Dumbledore and Dumbledore's plans. Severus informed them of the conversations he had already had with the Headmaster regarding Harry.

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Harry arrived with his great uncle and aunt at the train station. They made their way to where Lucius and Narcissa were standing with Draco, Blaise, and Theo. Amber was circled around his wrist while the kittens were in a traveling case, sleeping. They made their way to the train after chatting with a variety of people. Harry noticed some Aurors were escorting the Weasley's to the train. Harry had learned a lot about the Order members and knew they were Order members. Severus and Lucius provided what they knew about each Order member. Kingsley, Mad-Eye, and Jones were longtime Order members. Harry walked behind the three Aurors. Time to find out what the Aurors might know. He couldn't hear them speaking but he did collect a few notebooks and other items.

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Harry began looking through the notebooks. Amber was guarding the door as he didn't want anyone seeing him with the notebooks. Mrs. Norris and Fawkes were sleeping. The kittens were assisting Amber if you could call them chasing some string assisting. ~These aren't helping. One speaks about their different routines. One is written by someone crazy. He rambles on about Death Eaters, dark magic, and how you need constant vigilance.~

~Sounds crazy. Someone coming.~ Amber slithered away from the door as Harry put the notebooks under his pillow.

Severus stepped into the dorm room. "I see you returned with your zoo."

"Yes, interesting summer?"

"Yes, a lot of interesting changes. I have drawn up a revised schedule for your lessons." Severus handed Harry the schedule. "I will give you a class one on Monday. This is just between us. You will share the lessons with Draco, too." Severus was actually a bit happier since Dumbledore had to change so many things including giving the heads of houses some assistants. He had someone to aid in his classes. "I have added you and Draco as my lab assistants."

"Lab assistants. I bet that Dumbledore didn't like that."

"Actually, he was very willing to. He believes I will have a positive influence on you and Draco." Severus wasn't sure what Dumbledore was expecting but he had a feeling that Dumbledore would try and influence what he was teaching Harry and Draco.

Harry smirked. "Positive influence." Amber and Fawkes laughed. Harry had a feeling that Dumbledore still hadn't noticed that Fawkes was never in his office.

"I do want to warn you. Mr. and Ms. Weasley have been warned to avoid any interactions with you. However, I wouldn't be surprised if they made life uncomfortable for others while blaming you."

"So same as last year?"

"Basically. Dumbledore hasn't been very happy with the changes, the lack of concern about your role, and certainly his new probation as Headmaster." Severus thought it was an understatment. Minerva, Filius, Pomona, and him had to endure a few lectures about how the dark was taking control and as the head of houses they had to be vigliant regarding their students.

Chapter Text

"This is who they expect us to learn from?" Draco was watching Lockhart as he gave a lecture about pixies.

Harry wondered what the sheep in the school thought was so wonderful about the blond plunderer. The man was as fake as some of the watches he pawned off to tourist. He was even worse than the maps he sold about finding the royal houses. He could see the Gryffindor girls were in full "crush" mode. The rest of the class was wondering when Lockhart would move forward in his lesson. Lockhart stopped talking as he looked around.

"Has anyone seen the cage of pixies?" Lockhart looked under the table and around the room. "I could have sworn I brought them with me." He muttered. "Well, nevermind, I can tell you the story of how I saved a small village from a dangerous werewolf."

Harry smirked. Maybe Lockhart would be fun.

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~Amber?~ Harry was sitting on his bed when Amber slithered into the room. They had been back in school for almost a month. Weasley and Rule-Lover hadn't spoken to him but the certainly watched him. He, in turn, had them watched by the kittens and Amber.

~Something is up. The King keeps saying a girl who almost sounds like her old Master keeps appearing in her area.~ Amber didn't head toward her usual resting spot in the bed curtains. She curled up around Mrs. Norris who was sleeping. ~Keeps asking weird questions. Some about Hogwarts.~

~The King. That is interesting.~ Harry remembered Amber mentioning the King before. He wasn't sure who the King was but figured Amber trusted this King so they must be trustful and must be a snake. ~Something Dumbledore is doing?~

~I think so. It's one of his red-hair menaces.~ Amber had been watching Granger and the two Weasleys. So hadn't Mrs. Norris' kittens. The kittens felt important and Sophia was the boss of her siblings and Nanook led when Sophia wasn't around. Amber thought Sophia matched her master well.

~When does she head down to the King?~ Harry had hoped that Dumbledore had stopped his games but it was becoming clear he was taking a behind the back route. Weasley and Granger hadn't been subtle in telling tales about Harry. Most of the students laughed at the tales about Harry. However, rumors were rumors and could take on lives of their own. Harry believed it was only a matter of time before some people started to believe them.

~When no classes after dinner.~ Amber had followed Weaslette to the washroom and down into the King's Chamber. ~King not happy. The boy voice, she said, doesn't sound like normal. The girl writes in a book. King said the girl is confused.~

Harry knew the book. He had seen the girl writing in it and if anyone asked any questions she would hide the book. He had watched the Rule-Lover. She was interested in the book too while the moron ignored his sister and book. Harry wondered what was so special about the book.

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Harry looked at the book as it wrote back. Didn't a girl from a magical family with twin brothers who were famous for pranking wonder about a book that was blank and wrote back to you when you wrote? Harry closed the book. He didn't like the feel of the book. He wasn't sure why the book felt weird. The book had been surprisingly easy to get from the girl who had been yelling at her twin brothers for a prank. Harry had seen her hid the book in her satchel. Harry felt that something was very wrong with the book as soon as he touched it. It felt funny like dread filled his stomach. All his warning signs were screaming. He headed to Severus' quarters.

"It's the brat." The door announced before Harry could knock. The portrait gave Harry a dirty look.

Harry leaned in close. "I could find some paint. Some nice black paint or perhaps a permanent marker that I could use to draw on you. How do you feel about having girl parts, rabbit ears, and whiskers?"

The portrait on the door didn't speak for several seconds. It was assessing the boy. "The boy is here to visit."

Severus opened the door. "I don't want to know what you said to my door portrait to make him act civilized. Come in." Severus arched a brow at his portrait. The portrait looked back at him. The portrait gave him a blank face.

Harry followed Severus to the main living area. He could see that Severus was grading assignment as the red inkwell was opened on Severus' desk. Harry knew Severus spent a lot of time working outside of regular school hours.

"What brings you to my door?" Severus knew Dumbledore hadn't been missing his guardian or anything else from his office. Dumbledore had also been busy fending off the Board as they were looking into all the accounts of Hogwarts as well as the inventory. The Board was also demanding answers regarding the classes removed slowly over the years. They didn't believe that no one signed up for the classes.

"I got this. It answers back when you write in it." Harry put the book on Severus' desk. It was a basic black book with the initials TMR on the cover. It looked old and worn. Harry didn't trust any magical thing that answered you back.

Severus pulled out his wand and started casting spells on the book. The book was coated with dark magic. He had never seen anything so dark. He wondered why it hadn't set off the dark arts wards in Hogwarts. He realized why, Dumbledore. Dumbledore was still up to his old games. "Where did you get this?" Severus wasn't going to ask how Harry got the book. He figured if he didn't know he wouldn't have to explain it to Dumbledore.

"The female Weasley has been writing in it." Harry knew it was important that he tell Severus the truth. The book was giving him the creeps. "Amber mentioned the girl heading down to see the King."

"The King?" Severus wasn't sure where a King could hide in Hogwarts. Was it a portrait? A Statue? Was it a real title? Was it an honorary one? He wasn't sure what Harry had discovered but unlike most of the dunderheads, Harry had come to a professor.

"I have no idea. Amber hasn't been clear on that. I knew the book was bad. Figured I would bring it to you. It seems to understand what we are speaking about as it started to ask me about my friends." Harry had been speaking to Draco and Blaise before they had left to go to the study group in the library. He hadn't opened the book until he was alone. He was a bit surprised to see the book asking about his friends after he just doodled in the book.

Severus arched a brow. He held up his finger to his lip and went to his potion lab. He found the potion he was looking for. He grabbed a huge marble slab that he used to cut up ingredients that needed to be kept pure. He would replace the slab but didn't want to worry about a dark object corrupting his snakes. He returned to the main living area. He pointed to the book. Harry picked up the book and followed Severus out of Hogwarts and into the Forbidden Forest. They didn't speak on the way. Harry could feel the book wasn't happy not hearing anything. The book didn't like it suddenly being quiet and tried to push some of its magic into Harry. Harry pushed back and the book retreated as if satisfied it wasn't alone any longer. Harry was going to be happy when the book was destroyed. Well, he hoped Severus was going to destroy it.

Severus put the marble slab on the ground. He cleared an area, setting a runic circle. He placed the marble slab inside the runic circle. Severus started to weave wards and protection spells into the area around Harry and him. He nodded at Harry and pointed to the slab. Harry put the book down on the slab. He made sure not to let his feet ruin any of the runes. The book didn't seem concerned when Harry placed it on the slab. Severus had his wand pointed at the book as Harry stepped back.

Severus added a protective wall shield around Harry. He opened up the potion he had made a long time ago for dealing with dark objects. One he knew would dissolve anything which is why he was going to lose his marble slab. He poured the corrosive potion onto the book. The book started sizzling, Severus jumped back as a loud screech rendered the air and a black smoke form blew up sending black dust onto the ground.

"Well, that was interesting. What was it?" Harry watched Severus clean himself off. He was thankful that he was behind the protective shield that Severus had put around him.

"I'm not sure. However, it was very dark." Severus wasn't sure why Dumbledore would have allowed something so dark into Hogwarts. Dumbledore had to know it was in the school since the dark ward would have alerted him to the book's presence. He was thankful for Harry's penchant for liberating items. "Twenty points to Slytherin for quick thinking." Something that dark could have caused many deaths. He was beginning to wonder what Dumbledore was doing and why. Did it have something to do with Dumbledore's belief about the Dark Lord return?

"You are going to find out what that was?" Harry started to mix the black ashes into the dirt. Severus, using magic, removed the burnt out book to a hole he had created with magic. The book had a huge hole in the middle of it, the pages were all burnt, the cover was barely intact and the only thing that kept the mess looking like a book.

"Yes. Keep an eye out for anyone writing in books that talk back. How that child would even write back into a book with her older twin brothers is a wonder." Severus wondered why the girl didn't think anything was strange about the book. If she got the book from Dumbledore she might have believed he charmed it to write back. He hoped Dumbledore didn't give the book to her. Any pure-blood should have learned how dangerous magical items were.

"I agree. I thought at first it was a prank but it felt off." Harry wanted a shower to shake off the dirtiness of the book. They finished burying everything and making the area looked like nothing happened. Severus would speak to Bane and make sure the Centaurs watched the area to see if the plants and trees started to die. He didn't think anything would happen but he felt better safe than sorry.

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"You took it." Weaslette was yelling at her brother. The girl had a voice like her mother.

"I have no idea what you are talking about." Weasley yelled back. His fists were by the side of his body but he looked like he was barely restraining himself. The pair had inherited their mother's temper and anger issues. Everyone in the hall could hear them loud and clear.

Harry and Draco stopped moving down the hall. They didn't want to get a detention for even being near the Weasleys when they were fighting. They also didn't want to get caught up in a Weasley family feud. Weasley and his sister had been very vocal about their displeasure regarding Harry. However, since the book had been destroyed Amber had said that Weaslette stopped visiting the King. Fawkes and Amber agreed that destroying the book was the right thing to do. The girl appeared to be back to her normal self during the night instead of the weird voice coming from her. She hadn't been wandering the hall.

"I'm not going past them." Draco didn't want to get dragged into any Weasley drama. Weasley still voiced his opinion about Slytherin when he wasn't running his mouth about Harry. The routine was getting old. Lucius had explained to Draco over the summer that Draco didn't need to defend him, the family name, or Slytherin.

"Me either." Harry could see they weren't the only ones who felt that way. None of the students were moving toward the arguing Weasleys. Soon spells were flying back and forth between the two of them. They heard the sound to start the next session but no one moved down the hall. Since there were only two years that had classes before this fight started no one was aware of the situation. Weaslette must have come looking for her brother since her class was on the same floor. Most of the first years from her class were caught with the second years were looking around for the professors.

The first years had been in a lecture by Professor Flitwick and the second years had been in a lecture by Professor McGonagall. Harry was wondering where the professors were. Surely they had to hear what was going on. The Weasleys weren't quiet and the hexes had to be ringing some alarms somewhere. Professor McGonagall finally arrived and saw the battling Weasley family members. "Mr. and Miss Weasley, my office right now." She turned and faced the students. "Why aren't you in your classes?"

"We didn't want to get hit by a spell. There isn't another way out of this hall." One of the second year Gryffindor's spoke up. "Weasley was firing of her bat-boogie hex without really looking." Most of the Gryffindors were aware of the girl's skill with the hex. They had seen her cast it on her brothers enough times.

"Get to your classes, I will let your professors know." McGonagall waited until everyone was gone before she headed to her office, not seeing a snake watching her.

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Harry and Amber were watching Dumbledore. The man was hanging around the second-floor girls' washroom. ~Well, that isn't to pervy. A grown man hanging around a girls' washroom. If this wasn't Hogwarts he would be arrested.~ Harry wondered how Dumbledore was able to do so much and not get into trouble. In the muggle world, he would have been arrested for being a pervert.

~The King entrance is in there. You think he gave the book to the red-hair girl?~ Amber had been following Dumbledore for the almost two months. Dumbledore was still trying to locate the Mirror and Stone. Dumbledore had even gone into areas that hadn't been opened in decades. Amber later showed Harry the areas. They were still looking for the founders' chambers.

~Interesting. I am wondering if he is looking because the book is missing?~ Harry knew there was a ghost in the washroom. No one would go into the washroom because the ghost would flood the washroom if they did. He wondered what else Dumbledore might have hidden in the school. He was going to have to have Amber check the man's office. Amber usually found some interesting things that he liberated later. He wondered if Dumbledore ever noticed how many books were missing.

~Girl hasn't been down here. She hasn't really done anything weird since we liberated the book from her. Idiot Headmaster seems worried about it. I heard him asking her about the book. He didn't look happy the book was missing.~ Amber had made some friends with the different snakes Dumbledore didn't seem aware were residing in Hogwarts. Amber wondered who Dumbledore believed was keeping the rodent population down.

~Do you think he gave it to her?~ Harry wouldn't put it past Dumbledore. He knew Dumbledore was very close to the Weasley families. However, he didn't think Dumbledore was stupid enough to endanger a family member.

~No, he asked her about the book her brothers had seen her writing in. The girl has been blaming her brothers for its disappearance. The twin ones were relieved the book had disappeared.~

~Interesting.~ Harry was going to be speaking to the twins.

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It was almost Halloween. Dumbledore had been acting weird, well, weirder than normal. He had been hanging around the washroom area. Harry could feel the wards Dumbledore had added to the area. The two youngest Weasleys were still fighting about the missing book while the Twins and Percy worked on keeping the two of them separated. The twins and Percy looked resigned that this was their new life until the book issue was resolved. Weasley kept denying all knowledge about the book. He even dragged Granger into the arguments.

Harry glanced at Dumbledore. Dumbledore was watching the argument between the siblings. Many had tried to stop it, including their own mother. Harry noticed that the staff was waiting for Dumbledore to do something, as every time they did, he interfered. It seemed Dumbledore hadn't truly learned. He was good at covering up things. Halloween was going to be interesting he had a feeling. It was time to have the Pixies make an appearance. He had a feeling Lockhart would enjoy seeing his missing friends.

Chapter Text

Harry saw Amber in place on the rafters in the Great Hall. The Pixies hadn't been happy to learn they had been caught to be used in a lesson. The Pixies hadn't been very happy with dear old Professor Lockhart since the man tricked them into the cage. They weren't happy to be kept in a small cage the whole time Lockhart had them. Actually, the Pixies were upset about the whole thing and wanted a piece of Lockhart.

"Do I want to know what you are up to?" Severus was standing behind Harry. The boy had been too quiet the last few days. Granted, Harry hadn't been dealing with what he had to deal with last year. However, he knew when Harry was too quiet it was because he was making plans.

"Last I checked about 144 cm but can't be sure. How about you?" Harry looked up and over his shoulder.

"Amusing. Nothing better be missing." Severus quietly warned. He really didn't want to deal with Dumbledore. Dumbledore was still trying to get Harry to follow the plan that Dumbledore laid out. Dumbledore was also still trying to locate the missing items that their owners were demanding back.

"Nope. Nothing is missing as far as I aware of." Harry smiled as he held up an apple. Severus gave him a stern look and walked away. He hated this feast. He always made sure his house didn't get as much sugar as the other houses but they still got a lot of sugar. He was glad he wasn't on patrol tonight. He knew he was going to have to deal with his snakes on minor sugar high compared to the other houses.

"I know you didn't lie but I have a feeling something is going to happen." Draco had enjoyed watching Harry work against Dumbledore and his stooges. He had also watched his friend for the last few days and knew Harry was planning something.

Harry gave Draco a slight smirk. The rest of the group around them were now hyper-alert. The feast started off as normal. Dumbledore rambling before it officially started. "You would think the man would realize not to give this much sugar to kids before bed." Harry made sure his pockets were full of regular food as well as some candy. He knew Amber would want some of the chicken. He glanced at Amber. Amber was slightly left of where Lockhart sat. She was up on the rafter beam. The Pixies were eager to be out of the cage they were in. When the feast was about half done, Amber released the hatch.

"Look, there are my Pixies. I had wondered where they got off to. Did I ever tell you about the time I saved a group of them? I became King of the Pixies." Lockhart was rather loud and his words slurred a bit from the wine he had been drinking during the meal. The Pixies started for the blond idiot.

"Indeed." Severus had his wand out. He wasn't sure why Lockhart was still around. The man was a phony and usually drunk by dinner. Severus watched as the Pixies headed straight for Lockhart. Someone had a horde of angry Pixies after him.

Chaos reigned as Lockhart pulled out his wand when the Pixies went for his hair. "No, get off. Pixies begone." Lockhart started waving his wand around as he repeated the words "pixies begone." Everyone started laughing when the man's wig was pulled off his head. Lockhard panicked, started aiming his wand at the Pixies.

Students started jumping out of the way as Lockhart's spell was hitting anything but the Pixies. The Pixies kept their focus on Lockhart. They pulled the man up to the rafters and hung him on one of the rafters. They made their way back down to the tables grabbing sweets and started throwing them at Lockhart like a reverse pinata. Lockhart was still waving his wand around yelling "pixies begone."

"Students get under the tables." Dumbledore ordered as the staff pulled out their wands and began to freeze the Pixies who were dodging the spells. Amber had slithered off of the rafters and was making her way toward Harry. The Pixies were frozen, crashing onto the tables, floors, even the seats. Harry quickly pocketed the few who landed near him. He would get the rest later. Harry hoped the Pixies would be able to warm up down in the basement.

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"Potter, my office." Severus turned and headed to his office.

Harry lowered his book, looked around the room. Draco shrugged at him. Harry got up and followed Severus out of the common room. Once in Severus' office, Severus pointed to the chair as he sat down at his desk. "The Pixies?"

"The ones from last night? Those were Professor Lockhart's. He has been looking for them since his first class." Harry fidgetted in the chair. He preferred to walk around Severus' office. The man had a lot of interesting things.

Severus watched Harry. He knew Harry liked to walk around his office, actually, the boy didn't like to sit still for long. "The Pixies from last night are missing."

"They are?" Dumbledore had left them on his desk. It was very easy to remove them out of the man's office. The Pixies were now down in one of the lower cellar rooms that had been abandoned for a long time. They were making it their home.

"Yes. They won't be making a reappearance?" Severus was still trying to figure out where the boy hid the mirror and the stone.

"Sir, that would be assuming I know where the Pixies are currently residing." Harry wondered how Lockhart would like nightly visits from the Pixies.

Severus arched a brow. "Harry."

"Severus."

They stared at each other. Severus knew getting information out of Harry was impossible if Harry didn't want you to know. "Make sure they don't reappear."

"Didn't the staff collect the Pixies after they were frozen?" Harry would have to make sure he collected all the Pixie Dust, wings, and anything else on a weekly bases. He knew they were common items used in potions and wanted to share the bounty.

"Don't have them make an appearance." Severus warned. "I have some books for you." Severus had found his own interests had broadened a bit since Harry stepped into his life. Harry asked a lot of questions. He had wondered if Harry and Draco were having a competition to see who could stump him. Harry was the one who was getting closer to stumping him with some of the subjects that Hogwarts didn't currently have.

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*The Idiots have been bothering that plant boy.* Amber was hanging from the bed curtain as the cats were sleeping. Fawkes was on his perch with his head under his wing.

*What about?* Harry was reading the book Severus had given him. It was filled with a lot of interesting potions that were used with Runes and Arithmancy.

*It didn't make any sense. They were talking about someone they kept calling You-Know-Who and how he was going to return.*

Harry closed the book. *I wonder who? Where? Perhaps a replacement for Lockhart?* Harry wondered if they meant Voldemort or has Lucius and Severus called him the Dark Lord. He would have to ask Severus.

*Dumbledore?*

*I think so. I will see if Draco can find out any information from his father. I will also write to my relatives and see if they can find out anything. I don't want Dumbledore to find a reason to keep me here over the Yule holiday.* Harry wasn't about to allow Dumbledore to get his puppets near him. He hoped there wasn't a new plan in the works. His relatives and Lucius would know what Dumbledore might be planning.

*Bird Brains hasn't mentioned anything. Dumbledore has been dealing with the two youngest redheads. They are still fighting about something. The ones who look the same have been trying to keep them apart.*

*She has been nuts about that book. It was dangerous. So I don't regret giving it to Severus.* Harry had actually surprised himself by going to Severus for assistance with the book. He still wasn't sure how he felt about Severus. He was never going to trust Dumbledore and most of the adults at Hogwarts but Severus, so far, had shown himself to be trustworthy.

Fawkes pulled his head out of under his wing and started to thrill. *He knows, Bird Brains. Our Harry isn't an idiot. Bird Brains says that Dumbledore was relying on you saving the girl redhead. Something about promoting you as being a hero.*

*I'll tell Severus.* Harry was going to see if he could pay a visit to Dumbledore's office. The man had a lot of interesting items in his office. It was time to see if there was anything he might find useful.

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Severus, Minerva, and Filius stared at the empty bookcases in Dumbledore's office. All the man's books were missing, as well as several artifacts. Dumbledore was running scans on his office, the wards, and even his bookcase.

"When did this happen?" Minerva looked around the almost bare office. The candy dishes were still there and full. "Your candy is still here."

"Anything missing that we can't see? From your desk? Files?" Severus wasn't sure why Dumbledore was still running scans. He knew they wouldn't find anything. It was like all the other missing items. They had yet to discover even the smallest of magical residue or a hint of how the missing stuff was missing.

"The wards are intact." Filius handed the parchment showing the results. "Nothing showed up in the wards." Filius and Severus had scanned the wards and had the same results.

"We need to figure out who is doing this. Someone is breaking into Hogwarts and removing valuable assets from here." Dumbledore sat down at his desk. "We had the wards updated over the summer. We still haven't found the Mirror of Erised or the Stone."

"Not to mention Ms. Weasley's book. I'm wondering if other students are missing items." Minerva was going to assign a lot of detentions to whoever stole the journal. It had been nothing but headaches since the book disappeared.

"I haven't had any students say they are missing items." Filius knew his students would report if their books or clothes turned up missing. They might not notice anything else missing but they would notice if their books or clothes were.

"I haven't either." Severus knew most of his Slytherins would toss a fit if something they had turned up missing. Many of them so spoiled that idea of someone taking their items would set off a war.

"I will see if someone can come from the DoM and look at the wards, my office, and see if they can provide any answers for us." Dumbledore also had some books that he had hidden that were missing but he wasn't going to inform them.

Chapter Text

Harry and Draco were sitting at the Slytherin table after breakfast. They didn't have a class and were having a study session with the two Ravenclaws who sat opposite them. The Great Hall was mostly empty with the exception of a few students doing what Draco and Harry were doing. It was usually quieter in the Great Hall and neither the moronic duo of the two youngest Weasleys and Granger avoided the Great Hall. Granger preferring the library.

"I know you took it."

Harry looked up and saw Weasley standing behind the two Ravenclaws who looked surprised to have Weasley behind them. "Took what?" He wondered if Weasley needed to have his food spiked with some mood stabilizers.

"My sister's journal and everything else that is missing. The mirror, the books, and everything else missing from Dumbledore's office." Weasley's voice grew loud as he spoke attracting the attention of everyone remaining in the hall.

"Weasley, you do realize what slander is?" Harry didn't see any of the staff in the hall and realized this was why Weasley was doing the confrontation. Usually, there was at least one staff member in the Hall. Weasley was showing himself to be a bully and he must be hoping he could cower Harry. Harry didn't feel Amber which meant Amber was off to get Severus. He hoped Severus or someone arrived soon. He didn't want to be summoned to Dumbledore's office for knocking Weasley out.

"It's not slander if it's the truth." Weasley's voice took on a smug tone. "Dumbledore knows you stole everything."

"So you and he saw me with this book? The missing journal, the mirror? I'm not sure what everything else encompasses but you and Dumbledore saw me with the missing items?" Harry wondered why Dumbledore would be speaking to Weasley about the stuff but remembered Molly. She probably informed her son that Harry did it.

"I think he means all the office furniture and things missing from Dumbledore's office. Father wrote to me asking about it yesterday. He wanted to know if it was a prank by the Weasley twins." Draco wasn't sure what Weasley was planning on doing but he knew it wasn't going to end the way Weasley hoped. "I haven't written him back. I was going to write a letter tonight. I believe I will be including this. I'm sure he will pass the information to your barrister."

"I see. So have you seen this furniture in my dorm? Have you seen it in Slytherin common room? I am not exactly sure where you expect to me place all these items that you claim I have stolen." Harry did like the wording on that. Yes, he did it all but he wasn't going to admit to it. They had to catch him. He had fun removing the stuff slowly over time. It wasn't until he emptied out the bookcases and removed the big stuff that his theft was even noticed.

"No. I'm sure your snake friends would lie if for you." Weasley looked at Draco. "I bet he would even have an elf take it away for you."

"Elf?" Harry was a bit confused about that as he hadn't seen any elves at Hogwarts. He knew they were there but he didn't think elves would assist in robbing the Headmaster. He wouldn't have asked anyway.

"I believe he means a house-elf. However, Weasley, I have no reason to lie. I can tell you if the stuff was in the dorm or common room Professor Snape would have discovered the items and returned them to the Headmaster. Since Professor Snape is also assisting in locating the missing items." Draco knew Severus wasn't thrilled with the added headaches the headmaster had been giving him.

"See, Weasley, slander. You have no evidence of me being a thief."

"Just you wait. My parents are going to get custody of you. You will pay. You will stop being a snake, a thief, and learn how to obey Dumbledore and my parents. No one likes a thief." Weasley glared.

"I have guardians. I certainly do not want anything to do with you, your sister, or your mother." Harry watched Weasley's face turn red. "Accusing people of things without evidence will get you into trouble."

"You stole everything, you lying little piece of shit. You have let the Death Eaters corrupt you. You -"

"Mr. Weasley, detention tonight at 7 with Mr. Filch." Severus stood in the doorway with Dumbledore. Neither man looked happy with what they had heard.

"Headmaster, I was just trying to get my sister's journal back from the thief."

"Ronald, as I informed your mother, there is no evidence that your sister's journal was stolen by Harry. He certainly didn't steal everything out of my office or the other missing items." Dumbledore spoke as he approached the table. "Why don't you return to your study group? I am sure the journal will be found."

Severus knew it wasn't going to be found and he wasn't about to tell Dumbledore about it either. Harry, he noticed, was glaring at Weasley. He had a bad feeling about it.

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Severus was headed to the Headmaster's office. The man had installed some temporary furniture as he couldn't figure out where everything else was. Severus was a bit surprised to find the door opened.

"Come in, Severus." Dumbledore's voice floated to the door.

Severus walked into the office and wished he had brought something to cover his eyes from the bright, ugly, neon yellow, orange, and red furniture. The furniture was as bad as the man's robes. His eyes adjusted and he saw Molly and Ronald Weasley sitting on the ugliest love seat. It was purple with red hearts. He moved to stand by the still empty bookcases. "What seems to be the issue?"

"Issue, I will tell you what the issue is. The issue is Harry Potter. He is actually taking us to court for slander." Molly got off of the love seat and waved the papers around. "Slander! We also got a restraining order issued against Ronny and Ginny." She tossed the papers onto Dumbledore's desk.

"Indeed." Severus walked over and picked the papers up. He scanned through them. "It's only a permanent one against you Molly and only against your children outside Hogwarts. It's just an upgrade from the previously issued one. As for slander, I was there as was Albus, when your son kept accusing Mr. Potter of being a thief."

"When I get my hands on that boy. He is going to learn about not lying and stealing." Molly was muttering under her breath.

Severus glared at Dumbledore when Dumbledore didn't open his mouth. Severus was ready to curse him and Molly. "First, you won't be getting custody of Mr. Potter, he has relatives. Second, do you have any evidence that shows that Mr. Potter has stolen anything? Third, we were present when you son rather loudly proclaimed Mr. Potter a thief in the Great Hall. He declared it was you who stated it as a fact. Despite Albus informing you that it wasn't possible. Fourth, Mr. Potter would leave Hogwarts before residing with you or your family."

"I have told you, Molly, that the wards and other protective spells are far too advanced for Harry. We have turned up nothing in the scans. If it was Harry, his magical signature would have been recorded. As for the journal, Ginny admitted to throwing it into the toilet in the bathroom where Myrtle resides. Anything could have happened to it. Myrtle could have flushed it down the toilet to cause one of the numerous floods she likes to create."

"Albus, this is too far. He needs to be brought to ground. Enough coddling him. He needs to learn he can't do these things and expect to get away with them. Suing us for slander. How ridiculous." Molly humphed. "His parents would be rolling over in their graves if they knew their son was acting like this."

"Tell me, Mr. Weasley, did you or did you not call Mr. Potter a thief? Did you accuse him of stealing all the furniture out of the Headmaster's office? Your sister's journal? The mirror and other items in the Great Hall last week?" Severus watched Weasley look at his mother.

"Yes. It's the truth. Who else would do it? He was living on the streets. Only thieves and prostitutes live on the streets and he isn't a prostitute. My mother even said that it has to be him as no one from Knockturn attends. How Harry needs to learn how to obey adults. He needs to stop lying and stealing and learn to be Harry Potter, a Gryffindor."

Molly looked shocked. "Ronald Bilius Weasley, what do you know about prostitutes?" Before Weasley could answer his mouth was filled with soap and bubbles floated out of his mouth.

"Albus!" Severus was ready to kill the old fart. He knew who planted the ideas into Molly's head. The woman didn't do anything without Dumbledore's permission and parroted back everything the man said or believed. She never noticed who was around when she was speaking and most of the time Severus believed she talked to hear her own voice.

"Molly, Ron, I'm sure Harry didn't steal anything. I can't do anything about the lawsuit except I might be able to talk to his guardians about dropping it. I will explain it's a slight misunderstanding. However, I know the restraining order will remain. Regarding the missing items, I have requested and received assistance from the Department of Mysteries. Their top people have researched it and came back with startling results. I wasn't going to share this information with anyone but I feel it will make you realize it's not Harry." Dumbledore rifled through the top drawer of his desk. He pulled out some paper. "They discovered that the wards were removed using Parseltongue. Since the only speaker is-" Dumbledore looked at Severus and seeing his death glare changed his mind on what word to use. "You-Know-Who. Harry's family doesn't have the Parseltongue gift in its family."

Severus was going to have to speak to Harry about this. Parseltongue was a gift not just limited to the Slytherin line like Dumbledore liked to believe. Severus ignored Molly as she blathered about whatever. He thought about Harry. He controlled his face as he realized Harry was an animal speaker. Harry had to be. Harry kept his skills well hidden and he was going to make sure Harry kept them hidden.

"You believe he is doing it as a way of trying to return?" Molly finally asked a semi-intelligent question.

"Yes. I believe he removed everything else to cover up the theft of my books and the other items." Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling as having something go partially the way he wanted. The Dark Lord was trying to return. "So, I'm sorry Molly, Ron, but you owe Harry an apology. I'll see if that will be enough to get his relatives to drop the suit against you."

Severus wanted to laugh. He knew they wouldn't be dropping the suit. The Potter family was sick of getting howlers from Molly about Harry. They were sick of the confrontations on the train platform. He knew the timing on the restraining order was so that next week the family would have no issue when they retrieved Harry from the platform for the Yule break. "The howlers will need to stop." Fine, he couldn't resist.

"Howlers?" Dumbledore looked at Molly and seeing the guilt on her face wanted to scream. "Molly, you didn't?"

"I only did what I thought was the correct action. They need to reign that brat in." Molly was going to continue but seeing Dumbledore's face stopped. "I will send an apology letter when I return home. Ron will too." Weasley tried to speak but more bubbles came out of his mouth.

"Molly, remove the spell. I believe Ron has learned his lesson. Thank you, Severus, for your insight. I will let you know how it went with the Potter family."

Severus realized Dumbledore was going to revamp his plans based on the new information. He left the office but began to make plans of his own. Dumbledore may want the Dark Lord returned but he certainly didn't and neither did any rational Death Eater.

Chapter Text

"What?" Harry looked at Draco like he was crazy. He had a nice pile of books he planned on using for his latest research project. Harry wanted to find out about his family, family magic, and family laws.

"Come to the Quidditch game. It will be fun. It's the Gryffindors against the Hufflepuffs." Draco had caught the snitch during the last game when it was Slytherin versus Gryffindor. "It might be interesting. They are the two worse teams."

"Draco, I usually go to the library and study. No one is ever around." Harry also explored the other areas of the castle when he needed to take a break. He loved how peaceful the castle was when the students and staff disappeared to watch a Quidditch game.

"Come on, it will be fun." Draco had already explained Quidditch to Harry. "You can't say you don't like something without trying it out."

Harry never listened to Draco about the game. It bored him but he pretended as Draco loved to discuss the game with his friends. "Fine but only because I want to be able to say no next time without hearing how I have never been to a game." Harry didn't see the point in a game where it could last hours. He took one of his books with him.

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Harry saw the shiny gold thing laying in a box. It was so pretty. He had noticed that Madam Hooch was standing by the box in some type of weird outfit. The balls around the shiny thing were straining at the belts that held them in the box. Madam Hooch released the balls one by one. Finally, she released the shiny gold thing. It flew up to the sky, zooming all over the place, back and forth, up and down, in all kinds of patterns. As it went up and into the air and Harry's eyes followed it. He wasn't paying attention to the game. The shiny pretty thing was going to belong to him. It was so pretty, all shiny, so small, and it was so precious.

Harry sat down next to Draco. The Hufflepuff team was ahead by hundred points. The students were all roaring at the flyers, some were yelling chants, some were yelling insults. Harry pulled out a book and started to read. He wasn't sure how or why anyone would want to race around on a stick.

Several hours later:

Harry finished his book. He looked at the scoreboard. The Hufflepuff team was up by almost two hundred points. "It isn't over yet?"

"No, no one has seen the Snitch in over five hours. The game ends when the Snitch is caught." Draco was scanning the sky. "It's going to be dark soon." Draco had been searching for the Snitch. "I haven't seen it since the start of the game and I usually see it."

Harry pulled out another book. "Does that stop the game?" He had no idea what a Snitch was but it didn't appear to want to be at the game like he didn't want to be. He had to admire any Snitch that could do that. He wondered if he should give Draco a muggle dictionary so he could see what snitch meant in the muggle world.

"No, Dumbledore might call it for the night since they are students. However, in professional leagues, the game would continue. One game is reported to have lasted for a month. The team had to switch out members in order to get some sleep." Draco saw that Harry had another book. "I will lend you my copy of Quidditch: The History." Harry wasn't sure if he would read that book but if he got bored enough he might.

Two more hours passed and the torches on the stadium were lit and were flickering due to the wind. Dumbledore finally rose from his seat, sending a firework into the air. When all the fliers stopped he spoke. "after consulting Ms. Hooch, we have declared the Hufflepuff team the winner. Congratulations Hufflepuff."

The Slytherin side of the stands went wild with joy just because Gryffindor didn't win. Money started to change hands. Well, Harry would have to read the Quidditch book now. Draco should have told him about the betting. Harry made his way out of the stands before he got hurt. He knew that many would be going to the Hufflepuff victory party. Many students earned detentions because of those parties. Harry found Amber hanging from her favorite curtain. The kittens were sleeping, as was Fawkes. ~Problems?~ Amber was usually out at this time but since most were at the game there weren't many for Amber to watch over.

~No, the red-hair girl is back to smelling like she is healthy. Not like death and rot.~ Amber had been watching the girl and Dumbledore. ~The old dude is confused. Heard him muttering a lot in his office. The Yeller visited him again. She wanted to find out about your relatives.~

Harry smirked. He wasn't planning on telling his family to do anything. Harry didn't care about the Weasleys legal issues. As far as he was concerned they created their own problems. Suing the Weasleys and issuing the restraining order was their idea after Harry had used Severus' floo to call them. He could honestly say he didn't do anything.

~The flying game is finally over?~ Amber didn't like the noise from all the students during a game. She had followed the red-heads to a game and lasted less than a minute before leaving.

~Yes, Dumbledore ended it. Something about a missing Snitch.~ Harry picked up the kittens so he could sit on his bed. The petted them as they fell back to sleep. He leaned against his headboard as he thought. He wondered what Dumbledore was going to try now. Dumbledore was too focused on him. Harry didn't fully understand why. He got the man was a huge political deal but politicians came and went depending on the mood of the people. He was going to have to get some books on the political aspect of his new world. Harry knew when he came of age, he would be expected to honor his titles. He didn't want to even be seen in public. He wondered if there were ways around that aspect without losing his power. Another thing to research. His research list was growing.

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Severus was watching his Slytherins. It was quite in the Great Hall. The Hufflepuffs had hangovers from last night's win. Gryffindors were still pouting about losing. Ravenclaw had their noses in their books. His Slytherins were watching everyone. Severus turned his gaze at Harry. Harry was a puzzle he had yet to figure out. He understood Harry most of the time, well about seventy-five percent of the time. Harry, however, always managed to throw a surprise or two in during the week.

Harry would ask a lot of questions that were usually out of the norm of the regular students. Harry had a vast array of knowledge he wanted to learn. He had seen Harry's growing list of research. Harry had borrowed very diverse books that Severus had in his bookcase. Harry was certainly like his mother in his love of learning. He was grateful Harry wasn't like Granger in showing off his knowledge or like his father. He made a mental note to ask Harry what he knew about that night. He wanted to make sure Harry knew the truth, not the fictional tales.

Harry didn't follow any pattern Severus could figure out. The boy had manners when he wanted to use them. He had morals that Severus was still trying to grasp. Harry understood that stealing was wrong but Harry drew the line at using his animal friends. Harry didn't believe in bullying anyone while he didn't back down either. He didn't fight with anyone usually turning the situation into a joke. Harry appeared to take things in stride but Severus saw that Harry was affected by more than he let on. Harry had natural charm and poise. Harry had the grace that many wished they could have been born with and spent years trying to attain it. Harry was soundless when he walked. Severus thought he had mastered the skill until he listened to Harry or rather tried to listen to Harry. He had excellent hearing much to the dismay of the students.

Harry didn't care for the spotlight and Severus knew that bothered Dumbledore. Dumbledore wanted a pawn to parade in front of the press and Ministry. Someone that Dumbledore could use as a threat. A pawn to say to the Ministry "if you don't do it my way, I'll get Harry Potter to force the issue". Dumbledore wanted another James Potter but with the magical power to back up Dumbledore's claims. Dumbledore had spent years building up the Harry Potter brand. Dumbledore had spent years building the power behind the Potter name and the titles that were left to Harry after the Dark Lord's defeat. Dumbledore had built himself up as the one who was in charge and he had used the Potter name to wield that power.

Severus knew Harry had to be using his animal speaking skills to get around any protection that Dumbledore had established in Hogwarts. He wasn't sure how Harry had managed to remove his magical signature. Full wizards could barely do it. It took a lot of magic. He wondered if perhaps Harry wasn't using all magic to liberate the items he acquired. They never checked for anything muggle. It wasn't something that wizards would do. They automatically assumed everything was done with magic.

Severus had tested Harry and found him to be in the top percent of the strongest wizards. He wondered if Harry wasn't stronger than Dumbledore or Voldemort. He gasped as he realized that was what Dumbledore wanted. Dumbledore wanted to keep Harry weak and depended on Dumbledore. To keep him isolated from their world, from learning, from understanding what being Harry Potter entailed. Dumbledore wanted someone that listened to only him, someone who blindly obeyed, and had the magical power to back up what Dumbledore wanted.

Dumbledore wanted the magical world to rely on him. Harry was the political future of their world. Harry did not care for his fame but Dumbledore had spent a decade promoting Harry. Dumbledore wasn't going to lose his political power because Harry wouldn't follow his plans. Dumbledore placed a lot of his plans for the future with a Harry he could use. A future that including another battle with the Dark Lord. He still wasn't sure about that aspect but he was still researching.

The new plan was what Severus was trying to figure out since Dumbledore had to have revamped them. No Dark Lord, Harry wasn't obeying Dumbledore and had successfully prevented the Weasleys from getting close to Harry. Severus was wondering what Dumbledore would try now since Harry ruined all of the man's plans simply by being Harry. He needed to figure it out before Dumbledore got his hands on Harry. He would have to discuss the situation with Harry. He might have to take Harry to Gringotts. He wanted to make sure that Harry was fully protected.

Chapter Text

Severus with Harry and Draco headed out of Hogwarts. Severus had informed Dumbledore they were going to look for potion ingredients. Dumbledore had tried to prevent it but Severus referred Dumbledore to Poppy counting on Dumbledore's fear of Poppy wraith of not having everything ready for any type of emergency. Dumbledore decided to agree to allow Harry to leave with Severus as long as Severus kept a close eye on Harry. Severus wanted to laugh. If Harry wanted to leave, no one was going to be able to stop the boy.

"You know he would freak if I didn't return." Harry didn't look over his shoulder as they passed Hagrid's hut. "We have someone watching us." He hadn't seen much of the half-giant but knew the man was friendly with a lot of Gryffindors and was always raving about Dumbledore when Harry was around.

"Yes, Hagrid will report to Dumbledore that we went into the Forbidden Forest and not toward Hogsmeade." Hagrid would never be able to keep a secret and reported everything to Dumbledore. "When we get further in, I will use the port-key to take us to Diagon Alley."

Harry had never been into his vaults. He had discussed everything with Ironclaw concerning his financial and guardianship but never visited his vault. Amber was hiding under Harry's robes. She peeked her head out. *Not yet. We still need to use the port-key.*

Draco stopped. He looked at Harry. "You're a parseltongue."

"A what?" Harry was a bit confused.

Amber looked up at Harry. *A what?*

"Actually, I believe Harry is an animal speaker." Severus watched as both boys and snake turned and face him.

"I'll ask again, a what?" Harry never heard of anything like what Draco and Severus had just told him. Amber didn't really know much about the magical world. She knew her mother was a magical snake who belonged to a wizard.

"It's the ability to speak to the animals. The way you do with Amber and your cats."

"Oh." Harry frowned. "Why can't I understand Fawkes?"

*Because Bird Brains thinks you can't so he just trills. I told him. It's why I call him Bird Brains.*

"OH!" Harry laughed. "Fawkes thinks I can't understand him so he only trills. I am guessing I can if Fawkes starts actually speaking to me."

Severus thought that Harry had been using Fawkes for liberating some items. After all, Fawkes wasn't one of Harry's animals. "So you haven't been using Fawkes?"

"Using him as a babysitter, yes. Otherwise, no. He does sing nice." Harry watched Severus closely and started laughing. "You thought I was using Fawkes."

"Yes, I did." Severus admitted. "He isn't one of your pets and it would have been a loophole." There went another theory of how Harry was doing it. He was back to muggle methods.

"So, it has been you liberating things from Dumbledore's office. Nice." Draco admired that Harry had been able to do it and not get caught.

Harry didn't answer as he started walking. Draco and Severus knew as a Slytherin you never admit to anything unless you were caught. They weren't going to report Harry.

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Ironclaw did the testing to admit Harry to his vaults. Severus was impressed that Harry had been so thorough. He had been expecting to inform Harry to improve the security. After Harry and Amber were tested they headed to the carts. Griphook was there to take them down. Harry and Draco found the carts fun while Amber looked like she was going to be sick.

Harry entered first. "What a mess!"

Severus entered and the vault looked like a hurricane had been whirling inside the vault for a decade. "I believe all this stuff might be from your parents' homes." Severus could see some clothes with mold on them that must have been at the house in Godric's Hollow. "Dumbledore should have all this sorted before it was placed in the vaults." There was parchment, scrolls, books, all over the place. The clothing was draped over some of the furniture. There was even some moldy food in pans.

"Great." Harry looked out and saw Griphook standing by the opened door. "Griphook, is there a way I can pay to have things cleaned, sorted, and if ruined, thrown out?"

"Certainly. I will get the price sheet for you." Griphook looked down his vault list. "You might want to skip the next few and go to your trust and the family main vault." Griphook knew Dumbledore just dumped everything into the vaults so that the house could be turned into a shrine. Everything had been sitting in the house for almost two years before Dumbledore was able to convince the Ministry that the Potter home was a place all magical beings would want to visit.

Severus bent down and picked up a stack of letters. Since all the vaults had preservation charms on them, Severus knew that Dumbledore had left things in the Potter's house until everything was almost ruined. Dumbledore most likely hadn't done a thing until the Ministry declared the site a national treasure and wanted to preserve the house and give guided tours. Severus remembered how hard Dumbledore worked to achieve that goal. "Harry, do you know your parents' house is used by the Ministry as paid tourists site?"

"What?"

"It is. I did the tour when I was young. I think my parents wanted to see if they could learn any information." Draco, at the time, wondered how Harry had survived. Severus and Draco saw anger appear on Harry's face. It was the first time they had ever seen any strong emotion on the boy.

Harry stormed out of the vault. Severus and Draco followed. Griphook was a bit caught off guard but managed to catch up to Harry. Harry went directly to Ironclaw's office. Ironclaw had been aware of an angry wizard heading his way and was ready. Everyone had avoided getting in Harry's way. Goblins and wizards alike were impressed by the power displayed.

"Mr. Potter, what is the issue?"

"Is it true the Ministry has turned my parents' home into a tourists site?" Harry was working on reigning in his anger. He knew it wasn't the goblins' fault.

"Yes." Ironclaw pulled the file. He began reading down the list. "It was declared one on your 3rd birthday. Your relatives and Albus Dumbledore signed an agreement with the Ministry and they have been receiving the funds."

"Is that legal? Is there anything I can do about it? I never saw or benefitted from the funds when I lived with my darling relatives. Dumbledore certainly hasn't spoken to me about this. He must be getting all of the funds." Harry's magic lashed out and three candles exploded before he reigned it back.

Severus and Draco stayed back a bit. They could feel the magic just boiling below the surface of Harry. Severus knew many couldn't or wouldn't recognize the feel of magic. Severus had taught Draco when he was younger to feel magic. It was a teachable skill but it worked better if you had a natural affinity for it as Harry did.

Ironclaw pulled out the contract and began to read it. He smirked on the fourth page. "It says in paragraph seven on page four that you were to be made aware of the situation and any funds were to be used for you. If the funds aren't being used, they were to be put into a trust account for you in the muggle world. The funds that Albus Dumbledore was to receive were to be placed into a trust vault for when you entered Hogwarts."

"I want every penny and knut returned. Also, revoke the contract with the Ministry. If they want to use my parents' home they will have to deal with me and my relatives."

________________________________________________________

Harry and Draco spent the rest of the weekend working with Severus or doing their assignments. Monday passed in a daze of slowness as far as Harry was concerned. Monday afternoon was slander hearing. His relatives informed him they would write all the details when they returned to America. He couldn't wait to find out what happened. Harry woke everyone up in his dorm on Tuesday morning. "Come on, we want to make sure we get great seats for when the paper is delivered." Everyone up and into the shower in record time. As a group, they headed to the Great Hall. They knew only the Ravenclaws and a few Hufflepuffs would be there this early but they wanted to make sure they got the seats that would be opposite Weasley.

Breakfast flowed like normal with the notable exception of Dumbledore who arrived a bit later than normal and spoke to Severus before sitting down. Harry wondered what Dumbledore said to Severus to make Severus look like he wanted to kill Dumbledore. Harry got his answer when Severus locked eyes with him.

The newspapers and mail finally arrived. Harry quickly gave the owl some bacon and opened the paper.

THE POTTER FAMILY WINS SLANDER LAWSUIT AGAINST THE WEASLEY FAMILY

by Rita Skeeter

Yesterday in courtroom 8, Arthur and Molly Weasley tried to defend their son, Ronald Bilius Weasley against the charge of slander. Ronald Weasley was sitting behind them as they addressed the court. It was a very quick case as numerous witnesses of the encounter were able to provide their memories of the events in the Great Hall.

The decision went against the Weasley family by a vote of 43 to 7. Minister Fudge and others conferred on the punishment and it was decided a fine of $5,000 Galleons. A formal apology by Ronald Weasley in the Great Hall of Hogwarts during the evening meal would be sufficient. Ronald Weasley was also assigned 500 hours of community service to be served during the holidays.

Harry lowered his paper a bit as he watched Weasley. The boy's face was almost as red as his hair. Weasley tore up the newspaper and stormed away. Granger and his sister followed. Harry looked at the twins. He hoped they didn't blame him. He actually liked the twins. Fred and George gave him a slight smile.

Chapter Text

Harry wondered how soon Dumbledore would call him into his office regarding his parents' house. He knew Ironclaw had been eager to revoke the contract. He glanced up at the Head Table. Dumbledore was staring at him. He knew he was going to be up in the man's office after breakfast. He wasn't sure if it was about the slander case or the house. He was hoping it was the slander case.

Draco nudged him. "Want me to call my father?"

"No, he can't do anything. It's was all done legally." Harry gave Draco a slight smirk. "I wonder how Weasley will enjoy doing his apology."

Draco smiled. "It will be interesting."

Harry finished his breakfast and was getting up to leave when he saw Dumbledore and Severus heading toward him. He picked up his pace. He wondered what Dumbledore would do. He was out the doors of the Great Hall when he heard his name. He cursed. He wanted to pretend he didn't hear it but he just couldn't do it. He turned and faced Dumbledore and Severus as they continued walking toward him.

"I believe it's time we speak in my office." Dumbledore wasn't smiling, his eyes weren't twinkling.

Harry followed Dumbledore to his office. Severus looked ready to kill someone. Harry knew it wasn't going to be a good meeting. Harry had a feeling Dumbledore wasn't happy about the house. Once in Dumbledore's office, Harry sat down as Severus leaned against the wall. Dumbledore sat down behind his desk. He fingers tapped the desk for several minutes. "Harry, you have gone too far. Closing your parents' house after filing for a slander case wasn't necessary."

"Why is it fine for everyone to go through my parents' home? They are even paying for the right. I have never received one knut or penny in either world that according to the contract. I never benefitted in any way for the funds collected by you and the Ministry. You certainly benefitted." Harry inhaled deeply. "Why were my parents' possessions thrown carelessly into a vault and I never was informed of this information? I would say Mr. Dumbledore that I am the one who should be questioning your motives." Harry realized he had revealed too much regarding his own feelings regarding the issues. Dumbledore had to know that Harry knew about the contract. He normally never lost control like this. He hadn't realized how much it really bothered him.

"Mr. Potter, I did what I believed was best. Regarding the funds, it is not my fault your muggle relatives failed in their duties. My fee for caring for your accounts was already arranged."

Harry glared at the man. He slammed down his boiling anger. He counted to ten before speaking. "You had no right to those funds. You never checked on me. You failed in your duty as my guardian. You haven't been my legal guardian since August 1991. Therefore, you broke the contract. If it was a valid contract, it wouldn't have been broken."

Severus had tried to warn Dumbledore against this confrontation. He had warned him that Harry wasn't someone who was afraid of Dumbledore. Harry had very little respect for Dumbledore after all the different events. Dumbledore pulled out two different scrolls of parchment. "This is a new contract regard the house in Godric's Hollow and the Ministry's fees, including upkeep." Dumbledore pushed one forward. "This is a change of magical guardianship. You will sign it or you will leave Hogwarts." He opened the inkwell and placed a parchment on next to the scrolls.

Harry stood up. "Goodbye." He faced Severus. "Pleasure meeting you." Harry started to walk out of the office.

"Harry, go to your dorm. I will be there in a bit." Severus ordered as he glared at Dumbledore. He wasn't sure what Dumbledore was trying to do. Once Harry was out of Dumbledore's office, Severus whirled on Dumbledore. "Are you being moronic on purpose? Did you really expect him to just agree? Did it ever occur to you to read who filed the slander lawsuit? It was his relatives. He also had the right to cancel that contract. You never mentioned anything to him about the house. Harry certainly can't sign over his guardianship over to you." Severus slammed his fist on Dumbledore's desk. "You are driving that boy out of Hogwarts. What are you possibly hoping to accomplish?" Severus was a bit shocked that it was him who was working on keeping a Potter in Hogwarts.

"Severus, he closed the house in Godric's Hollow. It cost the Ministry over 1,000 Galleons. The Dursleys are being charged with theft, child abuse, and child neglect. They are in danger of losing their home. The Weasleys are going to lose their home in order to pay that fine and their legal fees."

"None of that is Harry's fault." Suddenly, Severus understood. Harry had been funding Dumbledore, the Dursleys, and he was willing to be the Weasleys via Dumbledore. Harry had been paying the expenses of others for over a decade. Severus looked closely at Dumbledore. "Albus, tell me you didn't?"

Dumbledore looked sheepish for a moment. "Cornelius wasn't very happy with the news. I expect he will be sending a massive to the Potters in America. He wants the house back as an attraction. Molly and Arthur will lose their home. The Dursleys are facing criminal charges. I have to do something."

"That is the Potters' business, not yours. Regarding Molly and her son, they were warned. They selected to ignore the warnings. Ronald could have kept his mouth shut. You were warned. Those warnings were ignored. Personally, I believe you got off lightly. The Potters could have filed charges against you for neglect. You should have checked on Harry over the years. I can't believe I'm having to defend a Potter." Severus couldn't believe the man. Dumbledore was proving he was a Gryffindor. Usually, the man was more Slytherin in handling his affairs and keeping things close to his chest. "I will work on getting Harry to remain. You will not interfere any longer is in his affairs unless it has to do with Hogwarts. Albus, I'm serious. He will leave if you keep up."

Dumbledore slumped forward a bit. "Severus, it wasn't to be like this. Harry has no respect for me. He doesn't have any connections with anyone who will aid our side in the way. He isn't like his parents at all. I'm at a loss as to what to do. You know You-Know-Who will return and we need Harry."

"So what is your brilliant plan? Keep alienating Harry so that he does go and live with his relatives in America? Keep alienating him so that you drive him to the Dark Lord because he wants to get you out of power? You are heading in that direction." Severus wanted to send Dumbledore to a mind healer. He wanted to see if Dumbledore was taking lessons from the Dark Lord. He expected the stupid things Dumbledore just tried from the Dark Lord, not Dumbledore.

Dumbledore laid his head in his hands. "I just don't know what to do, Severus. I'm missing the Mirror, the Stone was stolen, my office. Now all this." Dumbledore was truly at a loss. He had people demanding answers to why things were missing. How the disappearances were occurring. No one wanted to listen to his theory about Voldemort possible return.

"Well, taking your concerns and fears out on Harry isn't the answer. If the Dark Lord is really trying to return than you need to focus on that. Stop trying to get Harry to fit into the mold you expect of him. He isn't his father or Black or anyone else in the Order. Let me go and convince Harry to stay. You will leave him alone. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Severus. Do what you can. I will deal with Cornelius and Molly." Dumbledore sat up straight. "Keep up your lessons with him. It will hopefully build a connection with Harry. Your connection with him might be what we need. He can't leave here. If he has to leave the grounds, I want you with him."

Severus resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Harry was never going to follow Dumbledore or Voldemort. Both men had their own brand of crazy. Severus looked at Dumbledore. "Make sure you keep the two youngest Weasleys away from Harry. After Mr. Weasley's apology, he should forget Harry even exists."

"I fear you are correct." Dumbledore sighed deeply. How did his plans go so wrong? He could kill the Dursleys for abandoning Harry in the woods. He wanted to curse Molly for the howlers. Why didn't she listen to him? Why didn't her two youngest? He had counted on the Weasley family being friends with Harry.

"I warned you. I will let you know how it goes with Harry." Severus headed down to the dungeons. He was a bit surprised to find his portrait and Harry laughing together. His portrait hated everyone. His portrait stopped when he saw Severus. Severus wasn't sure what Harry had done to earn his portrait's favor and he wasn't sure he wanted to know.

"You and the boy want to talk in your quarters?"

"Yes, please open up." Severus had the same portrait for almost two decades and if Severus wasn't civil with it, the portrait wouldn't let him into his quarters. He didn't even know the man's name.

Harry stood up. "Thanks, Nys. I'll speak to you later."

"Brat." The portrait actually said it with a bit of warmth in his voice.

Severus arched a brow at Nys. Nys glared at him. Severus entered his quarters and pointed to the couch. Harry went and sat down. "You have him over a barrel. I believe the expression is." Severus sat down in his favorite chair.

"Interesting. I thought I blew it. I got so angry when he mentioned my parents' home." Harry shrugged. "So what is the deal?" Harry needed to work on his control. He hadn't lost control in so many years until he came to Hogwarts.

"He wants us to continue our lessons. I agree we should. I'm also going to add a few more things to your unofficial schedule. I want to work on your speaking abilities. I don't want your abilities to be discovered. I also have some lessons I want to only provide you and Draco." Severus was going to start giving them some Occlumency lessons.

Harry started petting Sofie as she hopped on his lap. He started talking to her. He looked at Severus. "She says you need to get her some better food. She doesn't like what you have been giving her. She likes chicken."

"Yes, the little fiend ate my chicken sandwich." Severus watched as Sofie looked quite proud of herself. "Tell her she needs to stop eating my plants."

Harry laughed but did as he was asked. Sofie looked annoyed but has Harry continued she looked thoughtful and then meowed her acceptance. "She won't any longer."

"Excellent." Severus stood up. He began to think of all the different animals he could have Harry speak to in regards to gathering ingredients. It would certainly prevent him from being bitten. "Tea?"

"Please."

"Dumbledore will believe I had to work on keeping you here. So I will begin your first private lesson in Occlumency."

"Occlumency?"

Severus made the tea and began to explain about Occlumency.

Chapter Text

Everyone was watching Weasley as he entered the Great Hall. Weasley looked miserable. Dumbledore was behind him. The duo headed to the dais where the Headtable was. Dumbledore stood behind his seat after he quietly spoke to Weasley. Weasley didn't look very happy with whatever Dumbledore told him. Dumbledore didn't very happy either.

Dumbledore shot a firework into the air despite no one was speaking they were already watching Weasley. "Mr. Weasley has something to say. Please give him an opportunity to finish speaking and if he wishes not to discuss the situation, please allow him that option. It has been a very stressful time for him and his family. Please respect their wishes if they do not wish to speak about the situation."

Weasley glared at everyone before speaking. He cleared his throat. "I'm here to give an apology to Harry Potter. I'm sorry for saying you were a thief and a liar." No one believed the apology. Weasley stormed back to the Gryffindor table and sat down.

Harry watched as Weasley glared at him. Harry realized the idiot was going to try and get even with him. Harry arched a brow. He wondered what the moron was going to try. He would have to make sure the kittens keep an eye on the moron. He also had a feeling that Dumbledore wasn't going to curb the idiot.

"He's going to try something." Blaise tilted his head a bit as if studying Weasley. "As if he had the brain power to think of anything."

"He might even try and get Granger to assist." Draco was watching Granger. Granger was quietly speaking to Weaslette. "Her and Weaslette are going to assist the idiot."

Harry looked at Granger and Weaslette. "Yes, I do believe they will." Harry discretely looked up at Dumbledore. Dumbledore was staring at him. He wondered what the man was thinking. Dumbledore may have claimed he was going to back off but Harry had a feeling the man was just going to change his plans regarding how to get control of Harry. Harry would never trust Dumbledore.

Harry was going to write to Ironclaw and his relatives. He wanted to establish some backup plans and a few different emergency exits out of Hogwarts. He was going to see if there was any type of port-key in his vaults. If there wasn't, he would pay for one from Gringotts. He would also see if he relatives might have a way of getting out of Hogwarts to America besides a port-key since a port-key wouldn't work inside Hogwarts.

______________________________________________

Amber slithered into the dorm. She slithered up the bed pole of Harry's bed. She looked around. ~You need to come with me. The King wants to meet you.~

Harry closed the book he was read. ~Why? Did something happen?~ He hoped nothing happened. He knew that Dumbledore didn't find the mirror or the stone. He wasn't sure what Amber wanted him to see the King. He still wasn't exactly sure who or what the King was.

~No, nothing happened. I was speaking to him. I mentioned how we have been looking for the Founders' room. The King is in the Slytherin Founders' room. He wants to speak to you about the room.~ Amber was beaming with pride at finding the room. They hadn't been searching hard for the rooms as Dumbledore has been a bit bothersome and didn't want to alert Dumbledore to their exploring Hogwarts.

Harry got off of the bed. A chance to look at one of the Founders' room was appealing. ~I have to meet with Severus in a few hours for lessons. So we can't spend a long time with the King.~

~He knows. I told him you taking lessons with head snake guy. He liked that you are taking extra lessons. He said he was glad you were a snake too. He has been impressed by everything.~

Fawkes woke up as Amber was speaking. Fawkes fluffed his feathers and shook his head. *Where are you going?*

~The King wants to meet Harry.~ Amber was really excited. Her Harry was going to meet the King. As a snake, it was a very important meeting.

Fawkes flew to Harry's shoulder. *I can take you there. Dumbledore has been looking for it. So it's better if I flash you there.* Fawkes had been thrilled to realize he could speak directly to Harry. Fawkes found someone worthy of him and Hogwarts. He had been waiting for a while for someone worthy of him.

~It would be safer.~ Harry waited for Amber to slither up his leg and over his neck. ~Ready, Fawkes.~

Fawkes flashed them directly into the Chamber of Secrets. *Welcome to the Chamber of Secrets. Salazar Slytherin created this as a place to get away from everyone. He and Godric would also come down here to escape the women.* Fawkes had spent time down here when Godric was alive. He used to use the Chamber as a place to live if they had a bad headmaster.

Amber slithered off of Harry. ~King, my Harry is here.~ If Amber could have bounced, Harry thought she would be bouncing in happiness. He had never seen a snake so happy or proud. Since snakes were always so prideful, it was a bit of a surprise to hear Amber speaking of him with pride in her voice.

Harry was looking around. The chamber was all stone. He could see a small bit of water running a small stream behind him. Fawkes flew to the head of one of matching statues on a raised platform. Harry was amazed at the variety of carved snakes on the doors and walls. Even the statues were snakes. They were incredibly detailed. The raised platform was above a huge fireplace that had snakes on each side of it. Harry was really impressed by the whole Chamber.

Suddenly, Harry saw something coming out of one of the statues on the left. It was huge, green, and seemed to go forever. The head lifted up as it was coming out of the statue. On the top of his head was a scarlet plume. The eyes were yellow. Harry realized he was looking at what the books said was a classified XXXXX and only breed by the Ministries of Magic and highly controlled. He was looking at a Basilisk. A very large one. ~Hello, you are amazing.~ Harry couldn't believe the size of it. It had to be close to fifty feet.

~Why thank you. You must be Harry.~ The Basilisk slithered closer and smelled him by darting his tongue out. The tongue lightly touched Harry. ~You don't have to fear my eyes. I have a lid I can use to protect those who I wish no harm to.~ The King moved a bit away. ~Amber has told me so much about you. My name is Storm. You are so different from the last speaker.~

~I've heard of the last one. He is the one who killed my parents. He tried to kill me but ended up killing himself.~ Harry still wasn't sure if he believed the version that Dumbledore told Severus. Lucius and Severus didn't believe it but they also didn't have any other information. Harry wasn't about to ask Dumbledore for any information. Dumbledore believed love saved Harry. Harry had laughed when Severus had explained what Dumbledore believed defeated the Dark Lord.

The King started laughing. ~Of course he killed himself. Speakers can not kill another speak unless they agree to a duel or both are of age. He broke the prime rule of being a speaker.~ The King turned a bit and settled down. ~He was a bit full of himself. He had a huge ego and thought he knew everything. He didn't like to listen. He gave me orders. Orders I didn't like.~

~Harry doesn't do that. We are a partnership.~ Amber slithered closer to the King. ~Harry, there is so much down here. There are tunnels that lead to all kinds of areas under Hogwarts and secret walls that give you access to all the different areas of Hogwarts.~

~Yes, Salazar was very careful to make sure he could escape from anywhere.~ The King turned his head to the left and nosed the wall between two of the engraved snakes. ~Down here if you see these on the wall it means that between the two of them is a secret door to a room. Up in Hogwarts, if you see the snake craved anywhere, it means there is a door.~

Harry smiled. He had seen numerous snakes carved into the walls. Amber and he had wondered why they were there. ~I have seen them. I have wondered if they led to anyplace. Do I need to say anything special?~

~No, if it's in the main part of Hogwarts the password is open. Down here, Salazar had a bit of fun. Down here it's snakes rules, lions drool.~ The King gave a snake equivalent of a laugh. ~Godric had a fit when he learned what Sal was hissing when they were done here.~

Harry and Amber started laughing. ~Did he ever tell Godric he would change it?~

The King laughed a bit. ~Yes, he did. To get even, Godric changed all his passwords to lions rules, snakes make good eating. Rowanna made him change it when she heard Godric using the password. You will need to find their rooms on your own. I will tell you the passwords once you find them.~

The King believed the boy would find them. He fit well with Hogwarts. He was a snake in his attitude, smart like Rowanna, loyal like Helga, and brave like Godric. The boy was brave enough to survive on his own also a Slytherin trait in making it that long. He was loyal to his friend Amber and those he trusted. He was also very smart based on what he heard when he traveled through the walls.

~Deal. How about you show me around?~ Harry was looking forward to finding the other founders' rooms. He was up for the challenge.

~Certainly. There are a lot of books that Salazar wrote and collected. He charmed the Chamber with preservation charm.~ The King turned to the room he originally pointed out to Harry. He hissed the password and they have watched the door just fade away.

Harry followed the King into a huge room that had three walls full of bookcases. The bookcases were all solid wood and stuffed with all different books. In the center was a long brown leather couch as well as matching chairs facing the couch. There were three tables. One was between the two chairs, one was in front of the couch, and the last one was a bit longer and higher. On it was an old tarnished silver tea set. There was also old pewter cups and plates. ~This is amazing.~

Fawkes flew into the room and landed on the perch. *I haven't been down here in ages. I should have come and visited soon. I do apologize Storm. Dumbledore has kept me busy with all these plots.*

~It is fine. I'm happy to have you visiting me again. It does get lonely down here. However, I do go out and see my friends in the Forbidden Forest.~ The King settled in an area of the room by the far left corner of the room. ~Dumbledore is the reason the last speaker was so cold and cruel. He knew what that boy was going through and left him in that nasty place.~

*Like he did to our Harry.*

~Well, I didn't remain.~ Harry turned out the conversation as Fawkes and the King talked about the old days. How much they missed Salazar and Godric. Amber was exploring the room.

Harry started to look at all the books. It took him a few minutes to realize the books were written in parseltongue. Harry pulled out of the more interesting looking books out of the bookcase. He opened it and started to read the first page. He grinned it was a potion book. He flipped through the pages and read a few different potions. He wasn't sure if some of the ingredients were available or not. He also wasn't sure since the names might have changed. He would have to write things down and see if Severus could help with the ingredients.

~Storm, is it okay if we bring Severus down here? He is in charge of Slytherin House, a potion master, and has helped me a lot.~ He knew Severus would love to see the potion books.

*Severus has been helping Harry. He has been trying to prevent Dumbledore from forcing Harry to leave Hogwarts with all of the old fool's plans.* Fawkes was happy that Harry thought about Severus.

~I've heard of Severus for a long time. The other speaker never mentioned him but I think he is a bit younger than the other speaker. The walls here have many ears. Dumbledore has never learned that.~ The King looked at the book Harry was holding. ~The charms worked on the books as well. I'm not sure if it will work outside of the chamber.~

~I won't remove them. I don't want Dumbledore to wonder where I got him if he happened to see them.~ Harry headed to the couch. He cast a quick tempus. ~We have an hour before I need to leave. I have to meet with Severus in 90 minutes but I need to get some things from my dorm.~

~Quill and parchment paper are in the first drawer on the left of the bottom of the potion cabinet. There are other chambers down here but they are just the labs and some rooms for comfort. There is a training room with sparing targets. ~

~I will have to come and explore on a Saturday afternoon or perhaps Sunday. I can spend most of the day down here. You can give me a guided tour.~

~Fawkes will be able to bring you here. I would love the company.~

~I'm looking forward to it.~ Harry held up the book. ~This is very interesting. A lot of notes on the different potions he created. Some of them are still are being used.~

~Head Snake would like to read that.~ Amber was hanging from the top shelf of the bookcase in the middle of the bookcase opposite of the door.

~He would.~ Harry started writing notes on the book. The two snakes and Fawkes shared their past funny stories.

Chapter Text

Severus was watching Harry. The boy's leg was bouncing as he was sitting on the couch speaking to a bat. The bat had been in a birdcage until Harry informed Severus that the bat didn't like the cage and preferred the high beam in his lab and wanted a bat house. Harry and the bat had gone back and forth with Severus finally agreeing to a nest and what the bat wanted in return for the bat supplying some ingredients including pollen. Right now, Harry was discussing with the bat the possibilities of other bats donating some things from dead bats like their spleens.

Severus had already had Harry speak to most of the animals in his lab. All of them agreed to aid him after he provided some better living conditions. He never knew how much of a primadonna some of his snakes could be. He would set things up for them and one would see something another snake had and it would want the same things. He just finally arranged all of the snakes' enclosures the same exact way. He only got the hisses of approval when Harry told them that Severus would make sure they all got everything equally and if they had any complaints, he was sure the King would love to discuss things with them. Severus knew the King was a snake that Amber had mentioned before. Severus watched the bat fly into his lab heading up his new bat house. He still couldn't believe that he bought a bat house. "So, I take it your friend is happy now?" The fruit bat was the only bat he had ever kept. He only kept him because he had found him hurt as a baby.

"His name is Montego."

Harry was up and moving around his quarters. He wondered if they had time to do a duel so that Harry could burn off his excitement. He glanced at the clock on the mantel. No, they didn't. Perhaps they could discuss it. "Harry, what has you so excited?" Severus knew it wasn't the boy's normal energy. Something happened to make him excited. Harry had been almost smiling the whole time.

"I have some great news which I want to share with you but you can't share it with Dumbledore." Harry stopped, turned to look at Severus. "You would love to see it." Harry went to the bookcase and attempted to scan the titles.

Severus was a bit puzzled but he could see Amber was nodding her agreement. Amber was curled up with Sofia, Nanook, and Midnight on the couch. He wondered where the others were. Mrs. Norris had been drinking some cream he had put on the floor when all the cats had arrived but he didn't even see her leave. "I promise not to tell Dumbledore unless it's something dangerous to the residents of Hogwarts."

"It's not." Harry almost bounced to the chair opposite Severus. "We can't go there today because it's almost dinner time but we can go there this weekend."

"Go where?" Severus was a bit confused. He knew Harry hadn't left Hogwarts. Harry's magical energy was vibrating. He wasn't worried about Dumbledore seeing it. Dumbledore's glasses looked at a magical core to see if it was light, dark, or grey.

Harry leaned forward. "To the Chamber of Secrets. Salazar Slytherin's chambers. He has so many books about potions."

Severus wasn't sure he heard Harry correctly but Harry and Amber were bobbing their heads in amazement. Sofia looked annoyed at Amber moving but she went back to sleep. "The Chamber?"

"Yes, Storm said we could bring you down. Fawkes agreed to take all of us."

"Storm?" Severus had never seen Harry so excited. Harry wasn't even this excited when he learned that Minerva was the cat he stole and wanted to discover how it was done. He wondered what was down in the Chamber. Harry mentioned books but he had a feeling there was more. He also wondered if there was any truth to the rumors about a monster being down there. Was Storm the monster?

"He's the King. The one Amber has been mentioning. He said we could bring you down there." Harry was back up and walking around the room. "The books, the potions mentioned in books were amazing. You are going to have to review the ingredients to see if the names have changed since then."

Severus let go of the tension he hadn't realized he had in him. So Storm was the King. The King was a snake which explained while it was in the Chamber. Severus had a feeling there was more to this than the discovery of the Chamber and the books. He could never claim he knew everything about Harry but he had seen Harry reaction to new discoveries and this wasn't it. Harry was a bit too excited. He also realized Harry would never speak of whatever it was until he was ready so he didn't push. "Why don't you go for a run? You need to burn off some energy and you have time before dinner to shower."

Harry didn't even glance at the clock before he was at the door. "See you at dinner." Severus felt himself getting a bit excited about seeing the fabled Chamber of Secrets.

_________________________________________________________________

Harry walked with Draco into the Great Hall. Dinner was due to start. Harry noticed there was a large debate forming at the Gryffindor table. Granger was in lecture mode. He saw three more students from the Hufflepuff table turned to face Granger. "Why is the Rule Lover giving a lecture?" The Slytherins were watching and listening with interest. The Ravenclaws had their books out as well as parchment for writing notes down.

"She was trying to defend Weasley's apology." Draco rolled his eyes. "Many of pure-bloods were saying how it wasn't a formal apology while we were in the library and that it didn't even merit being an apology at all. It started when some of the muggle-born and half-bloods who grew up in the muggle world had some questions about a formal apology. When someone asked Granger how could she defend the lack of apology from Weasley, she went into a lecturing mode and I see she is still at it. She said that in the muggle world no one really apologizes. It led to the current debate." They made it to the table before Draco's had finished speaking.

"How can she defend that sorry attempt at an apology?" Theo and the rest of the Slytherin weren't happy with the sad excuse of an apology but they knew Dumbledore wouldn't do anything since the Weasleys were his supporters and in Gryffindor.

Harry could see the twins and Percy was actually against their brother and Granger. He saw there was a book in Percy's hand and he was pointing out something. "The older Weasleys?" He hadn't really spoken to the twins since the court case. The twins and Percy had made it known it wasn't Harry's fault and that they didn't blame him.

"They are mad at their brother. I heard a group of Gryffindors discussing the issue. It seems that they blame their brother and they are worried about losing their home. Weasley tried to say it wasn't his fault but the twins and Percy said that he should be thankful that Harry's relatives didn't do something like suing the family for the loss of honor." Blaise was staring at Granger. "I hope she isn't using Gilbert's book on How to Interact with Muggles. It's outdated and it was never accurate to being with."

"Yes, my parents discovered that before I was born on one of their dates." Pansy laughed a bit.

Harry ignored Pansy and Blaise. He wanted to find out what Blaise's comment about honor. "They can do that? They can sue about the loss of honor?" Harry still had a lot to learn regarding the pure-blood culture. He had started to read the books but it would take years for him to finish even half of the books on the basics.

"Yes, the Weasley family is a pure-blood family but not part of the Sacred 28. The Potter and Black families are. So, therefore, it's a stain on the honor of the houses." Draco looked at Harry. "I'm a bit surprised that Dumbledore or Arthur Weasley hasn't said anything to Weasley about the apology. They know about the code of honor."

"They might be counting on Harry's ignorance of many of the rules regarding honor and the different aspects of pure-bloods. Most of us grew up learning this stuff and we can't say we know it all. They don't teach it at Hogwarts." One of the older years spoke. "I know Percy had a lot of questions even before the court case was settled. He was researching what might have happened."

"What do you mean what might have happened?" Harry made a mental note to ask Severus about the Sacred 28.

"Well, since your family original had their roots here and you are part of the Sacred 28, they could have demanded that the head of the Weasley house disown or even remove him from the family for the stain of dishonoring the family after the ruling. They also could have demanded financial damage. Yes, they got fined but the Ministry will be receiving those funds. It could have been a lot worse. Percy has been trying to get Granger and his brother to realize that. However, Weasley keeps saying it's all Harry's fault. I thought Percy was going to hit him at one point outside yesterday when Weasley started screaming at his brothers that Harry was ruining their family." The older year looked at Harry. "I have some books that you can borrow that will give you a basic idea of the rules regarding the Sacred 28."

"Thank you. It will help." Harry glanced at Gryffindor table as Dumbledore entered. The debate was louder and had grown in the short time he had been here. Dumbledore was smiling as he walked toward the large group. He wasn't sure what Dumbledore said but everyone went back to their seats with Percy and the twins sending Dumbledore strange look of unease. Harry watched Dumbledore quietly speaking to Weasley and Granger. Granger nodded her agreement but Weasley looked mad before he nodded.

"You know he probably told them to not argue with everyone as all it would do is give Harry ideas." Draco ignored the look that Weasley and Granger were sending their way.

"I do believe you are correct. Weasley looks ready to kill Harry." Theo and the rest of his year mates had listened to Weasley's rants for the last two years. They knew Weasley was a bully and that he blamed everything that happened on Harry.

"He always does." Draco saw that Dumbledore stopped by Severus' chair. He nudged Harry and tilted his head. Harry looked up and groaned as Severus glared at Dumbledore. "Another conversation with the Headmaster."

It was Harry's turn to do the eye roll.

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Severus glared at Dumbledore as he returned to his seat. He turned his glare to Weasley and Granger. Dumbledore wanted to make sure that Harry didn't learn about his family being part of the Sacred 28 and that Harry wasn't aware of any of the pure-blood rules and customs. Severus wondered how Dumbledore was going to stop it. His house was mostly pure-bloods who would gladly inform Harry what he was missing in his education.

He glanced at Harry and Draco. Didn't Dumbledore see who Harry was friends with? Draco and Harry were best mates and he didn't see that change in the near future. Theo and Blaise were also close to the duo. Usually, the four would study together. Blaise' mother specialized in using the law to escape any type of investigation regarding the mysterious demise of her former husbands. Theo's grandfather used the law to keep custody of Theo after his son was put in Azkaban.

His attention went back to Dumbledore. He was beginning to wonder if perhaps it was time to think about another side in the war. Harry wasn't going to join either Dumbledore or the Dark Lord. He also knew a lot of people didn't want to join either man. He would have to be subtle about it but he believed it would be possible. He still wasn't sure if the Dark Lord was actually coming back or when. He glanced at the rest of his snakes. Yes, it was time to do something about getting his snakes ready for whatever either lunatic decided to do. He knew Dumbledore never paid attention to his snakes and the Dark Lord would only care if they were pureblood children of his followers. He would speak to Lucius. Lucius didn't want the return of the nut job. Harry was the key to all of it though. People would rally behind Harry before Dumbledore and Dumbledore had been counting on that.

Severus was also aware of one big factor that Dumbledore always ignored. Dumbledore ignored that not all people believed exactly as he did and just because they didn't think as he did didn't mean they were evil or dark. Dumbledore and the Dark Lord may have different views of their world but both had a few things in common. They liked to believe they were always right, believed they knew the best course of action for their world, and their views were either you were for me or against me. Neither had a middle ground. Dumbledore used the grandfather act to get his way as well as Harry's name. The Dark Lord his wand to enforce his views. Yes, perhaps it's time to add another side.

Chapter Text

True to their word, many Slytherins proved Harry with books regarding honor and the Sacred 28. Draco, Theo, and Blaise explained the things that weren't written down in the books that for those who were part of the Sacred 28 and what was expected of them. A loss of honor was considered something unforgivable. A proper apology was required as well as a show of respect. Weasley had done neither of those things. "I really could have demanded he be disowned?" Harry was still a bit shocked by that.

"Yes, it's not as big of a deal because we are under eighteen. It was still an insult, a slight is what they call it in the books. Now, if you had been an adult, you could have demanded an honor duel and if you killed him, you wouldn't go to Azkaban because it's not a crime for anyone in the Sacred 28. Honor duels, old family laws that are still on the books, and even old customs can be used by the Sacred 28 to accomplish things that not even the Minister could do. " Blaise pulled out a list of the names on the Sacred 28.

"The Sacred 28 had more power than the Wizenagamot. It's why He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named wanted them on his side. He believed if he had them, he could control of the magical world." Draco pointed to some of the names. "Some of the families have been wiped out. You have a lot more power than what Dumbledore wants you to believe. Your relatives can actually sit in the Wizenagamot sessions as your representative. If there are enough of the Sacred 28 against whatever bills are presented, they can even stop them from passing."

"Some of the rules that apply to Wizenagamot, like wearing those ugly robes, don't apply to the Sacred 28." Blaise handed Harry a book on ceremonial robes. "The Sacred 28 are allowed to hold the rituals that have been banned because they actually don't follow under the rules of the Ministry when it comes to doing magic."

"Yes, you can learn all sort of magic that has been banned and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. The Potters and Black Family are on the top tier, just below the four founders." Draco was the one to inform Harry that he knew Harry was Lord Black since his mother was a Black and it appeared on the family tree when Sirius Black was removed from the family by his parents.

Harry looked at the arrangement that Blaise and Draco had drawn out and filled in the names of the family. They put X's through the deceased lines. He thought about what Storm said. It was time to find the other three rooms. "By Weasley not doing a formal apology, I could have basically killed him and gotten away with it if I declared a duel?"

"More than that. You could have declared a Blood Feud with the family. The Weasley lost a lot of honor about two hundred years ago when the head of the family refused to honor a marriage contract and married someone else. There have been a few other issues, like what Weasley did, that has dropped the family's standing." Draco opened a book up. "A Blood Feud would have prevented anyone under eighteen from approaching you without the proper guardian who wasn't a Weasley near them. They would stop at twenty meters away and the guardian would continue forward to speak to you and convey the message."

"There are so many things that could have happened. You could have even demanded punishment." Blaise held out a black-bound book. "This book has a list of all the weird things that being a member of the Sacred 28 entails. It even has some different ways the laws were used on people."

"It is a lot of power and yet, most of them do not care to attend the Wizenagamot sessions." Harry was really confused.

"They don't show up because they never had enough power to stop Dumbledore. Now, they might." Draco leaned back in his chair and smiled. "I think that is why he didn't want to learn about them."

Harry raised an eyebrow. He needed to speak to his relatives and Ironclaw. He wondered if there were any books in Severus' quarters about the Sacred 28. He would also check with Storm. He had a feeling his reading list was going to get very long.

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Harry read all the different books. He asked other Slytherins and Ravenclaws about the different aspects of some of the confusing laws. Some countered what one might have said while some added many layers to the laws that only a true Slytherin would see the loopholes in the wording. Some of the laws even pre-dated the four founders.

Harry made his way to Severus' office. It was their normal night to meet for some extra lessons. He had a few questions he felt the older snake was the only one who he could get some assistance from. Since it was almost time for Severus' office hours to be over, Harry hoped the man was up for a trip to the Chamber and a little exploring the books that were down in the Chamber. Amber had already made sure that Dumbledore was up in his office while Nanook and Midnight went with their mother to watch the three annoying Gryffindors.

Harry was about to knock on the door when he heard Severus' voice. "I am aware of that fact, Albus. You pushing Harry isn't going to make him follow you."

"Severus, you are aware of how important this is. You also know why. We must find a way to get him to listen to me. Lily gave her life for him and we need to get him ready to face your master when he returns."

"Albus, as I have told you repeatedly, pushing him and throwing Order members' children at him are not the solution. Leave him be."

"Severus, you know why this is important. You can't forget that she is dead because you told your Master about the prophecy."

Harry felt something slam into his stomach. He turned around and ran out of the dungeons. He flew past Draco.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Draco and Blaise exchanged a look as Harry continued running from them. Draco was about to follow but Blaise held him back. "I believe we need Snape for this. It must be bad if he was crying, Draco."

"Yes, I have a feeling you are correct."

They headed for Severus' office and saw Dumbledore exiting from it. They did another exchange and wondered what Harry must have heard. "Headmaster." The boys nodded their heads.

"Good evening, boys, lemon drop?" Dumbledore held out his hand. He could never get a Slytherin to take his candies.

"No, thank you." Each one said.

"Professor, can we speak to you, privately?" Draco wasn't about to alert Dumbledore to any problem one of his friends was having.

"Certainly, Draco." Severus looked at the boys and realized it was very important. He could see the concern in Draco's eyes.

"Well, I will be off. Have a pleasant evening." Dumbledore smiled as he left.

Severus waited until each boy was in his office before entering. "What has you so concerned?"

"Harry. He must have heard something as he went running by us with tears in his eyes a few moments ago." Draco said. "He headed out of the dungeons."

"I know what it is about. I will handle it." Severus was going to kill a certain old man. Dumbledore hadn't put up privacy wards like he had assumed when the old fool entered his office and waved his wand. He was willing to bet Dumbledore knew that Harry was going to arrive shortly and was hoping to hear their conversation. He had a way to fix the mess Dumbledore just created. "Inform all the snakes that I will be busy for a few hours. If it is an emergency you know how to get in touch with me."

"Yes, Uncle Severus. Harry will be fine?"

"Yes. Now, go and let me handle this situation before he gets himself into trouble." Severus waited until the boys were gone. "Fawkes." Fawkes flamed into the room, grabbed him, flashed him to the Chamber. Storm was already wrapped around Harry, offering comfort. "Thank you, Fawkes." Severus sat down on one of the old chairs in the room. The house-elves raided the storerooms of Hogwarts to make the Chamber a place for humans to be comfortable in as well as Storm. None of the furniture matched but it was comfortable. "Harry, I believe we need to speak of about a few things."

Harry turned his head and looked at Severus. "Is it true?"

"In a way and not in another way. Let me explain the event leading up to your mother's death. It started well before I even came to Hogwarts." Severus hadn't spoken about Lily since the night of her death. "We were friends before Hogwarts."

"You were?"

"Yes, I am the one who told her she was a witch." Severus swallowed a bit. "Please, bear with me as I find it has been a long time since I spoke of your mother and me." Severus watched Harry moved into a better position to see him. Severus began his tale. He spoke of Hogwarts, the Marauders, Lily, and how he heard the prophecy and who spoke the prophecy. He even explained how it was his fault his mother was dead. He mentioned Sybill but Harry had never met the woman and only seen her a handful of times.

Harry frowned as he thought about the lunatic that lived in the tower. She was nuts and there was no way he was going to believe anything she warned about. He had heard a few of her warnings to the students. They were always about death. Harry listened as Severus continued explaining how he was a spy. Dumbledore put his family into hiding. Things he had already learned. He finally looked up at Severus when the man was quiet for several seconds. "I don't believe you are at fault."

"Yes, I am the one that him about the prophecy. The Dark Lord is the one who picked you over Longbottom because he is a half-blood too." Severus would never be free of the guilt that he caused the death of Lily. "Your mother and Alice Longbottom were due at the end of July."

"No, you told him what Dumbledore wanted you to tell him. Just like I am betting you believed there were privacy wards up tonight. If you can tell me he has done other interviews in a public place without privacy wards than I will believe you are at fault." Harry felt like an idiot. He should have known Dumbledore must have allowed him to hear the conversation. He wondered if Dumbledore put a location sensor near to alert Dumbledore when Harry was close.

Severus felt such rage as he connected the dots. He always felt so much guilt for his involvement he had never really looked at the matter without his own guilt assigning responsibility. He ignored the hissing from Storm.

"Severus, Storm says there is a room behind that door for you to blow things up." Harry pointed to the far door on his right. "It will automatically open when you approach. It seems Sal had a bit of a temper."

Harry followed Severus into the room. It was a huge empty room except for a bunch of wooden poles with large wooden shields hanging on them. Severus started firing spells at the shields. Each time he destroyed one a new one took its place. Harry waited. Storm had her head resting in the doorway watching. As Harry waited, he began to plan to renew his visits to the Headmaster's office to discover what interesting thing me might discover. He was making a list of things to do. Things he wanted to recheck in the Headmaster's office.

"What are you thinking about?" Severus was standing in front of Harry.

"Me, why nothing important. I do have some questions for you regarding the Sacred 28."

Severus was wondering when Harry would begin to ask those types of questions. Questions regarding a lot of the loopholes in the old family laws that the Sacred 28 crafted. "I see. Perhaps, it would be best if we move this to my quarters. We have been down here for a bit longer than I expected."

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Harry sat down between the Weasley twins in the library. Amber had been watching the twins when Harry couldn't for over a week now. Harry needed to find a way to talk to them without their two younger siblings being aware of it. He had also seen them with a very interesting map. He was going to have to find out how to obtain the map since he knew who the Marauders were. "Gentlemen, I have an idea that might settle the debate in your house about the pathetic excuse of an apology your brother did."

"We could use any ideas you-" George looked around the almost empty library. It was the perfect time for them to research potions for their pranks.

"have. He has been listening to-" Fred moved the book he was read aside.

"Granger, who has a lot-" George said.

"of books. No clue-" Fred said.

"on what the code really-" George said.

"means." The twins finished.

"Percy and your father I believe would be the best option for this plan. However, I can't just speak to Percy or write to your father without alerting a certain headmaster." Harry didn't want to deal with Dumbledore in any form. "How well can Percy act?"

The twins smiled. "He can act." They spoke together.

"What would you be willing to provide for the information regarding the knowledge of who the Marauders were?" Harry saw their interest pick up and the bartering began. (Don't worry, I'll tell you about it).

Chapter Text

The twins looked at Harry. "You know who they were?" Fred asked.

"Yes, I do. I know who all four of them were." Harry figured that would confirm he did have the knowledge. He watched the twins have a silent conversation between themselves.

"Harrykins, what do you know about pranks?" Fred didn't release the map.

"The real pranks or the ones who use to test on the students? I'm aware of you creating some very interesting potions." Harry arched a brow. "You also have some very interesting secret projects."

"We do at that." Fred looked around the room. "What do you want for the Marauder knowledge?"

"I want the map but only after I tell you who it is and a donation of say 100 galleons toward your pranks. If I can't convince you to agree to that deal then we can work out something else." Harry wasn't about to attempt to try pure Slytherin tactics on a pair of Gryffindors/Slytherins despite their family being Gryffindor.

Fred and George had another silent conversation. "Let's hear it." George laid his right arm over his brother's shoulder.

"Open the map and I will tell you how Padfoot, Pettigrew, Mooney, and Prongs are." Harry wanted to make sure he knew exactly how the map worked before he took possession of it.

Fred opened the map and laid it on the table. "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."

"The map shows where everyone is." George pointed to where they were standing.

"So this map shows — everyone." Harry could think of a lot of uses this map could provide.

"Everyone. Where they are — what they're doing — every minute — every day." The Twins answered together.

"Interesting. Where did you get it?" Harry was going to be reviewing the map and spells needed to make one.

"Got it from Filch's office of course — First Year." The twins were proud of that. No one would dare to steal from Filch or even go near the man's office.

Harry saw on the top of the map it said: "Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, Purveyors of Aids to Magical mischief-makers are proud to present THE MARAUDER'S MAP"

"This little beauty's taught us more than all the teachers in this school." Fred ran his hand over the map.

The map showed every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds but Harry noticed the Chamber was missing. The truly remarkable thing was the tiny ink dots moving around it, each labeled with a name in minuscule writing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A labeled dot in the top left corner showed that Dumbledore was pacing his study; Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris, was prowling the second floor. Harry’s eyes traveled up and down the familiar corridors, he noticed something else. The map showed passages he had never entered and were missing some he had entered. Some were areas that Amber and Storm had informed him about and were used by the Founders.

"Right into Hogsmeade." Fred traced one of the passages with his finger. "There are seven in all. Now, Filch knows about these four." Fred pointed them out "We’re sure we’re the only ones who know about these. Don’t bother with the one behind the mirror on the fourth floor. We used it until last winter but it’s caved in – completely blocked. And we don’t reckon anyone ever used this one because the Whomping Willow’s planted right over the entrance. But this one here, this one leads right into the cellar of Honeydukes. We’ve used it loads of times. And as you might’ve noticed, the entrance is right outside this room, through that one-eyed old crone’s hump."

"An added bonus is that if the bearer of the map approaches the entrance to a secret passage protected by a password, the password will appear on the map. At times, we have some weird writing appear but we haven't been able to figure out the language." George pointed to a few spots on the map including the second-floor girl's loo. "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs." George patted the heading of the map. "We owe them so much."

"Noblemen, working tirelessly to help a new generation of lawbreakers." Fred touched the names on the map.

"Right, you are, Gred. Now, don’t forget to wipe it after you’ve used it –"

‘– or anyone can read it." Fred warned.

"Just tap it again and say, “Mischief managed!” And it’ll go blank." The twins spoke together. The map went blank.

"So, young Harry, your end of the deal." Fred did an uncanny impersonation of Percy.

Harry wanted the map. "My end of the deal, Moony is Remus Lupin, Padfoot is Sirius Black, Wormtail is Peter Pettigrew, and Prongs was my father, James Potter. Moony is a wolf, Padfoot is a dog, Pettigrew is a rat, and my father was a stag."

Harry watched the Twins have another silent conversation. They nodded their agreement and faced Harry. "The map is yours, you keep the money. We might have an investment deal for you later. We will help you convince Percy to aid us in getting our younger brother to see what might have happened if you be willing to aid us in testing some products. We know how well you can get around the school." George held out the map. Harry wondered if they were aware of his habit of liberating items as he took the map from George. "You have an uncanny ability to just disappear off of the map a lot."

Harry frowned. He didn't use any spells to make himself invisible. He also knew the rooms where he stored the mirror and other items were on the map. "What is it going to cost me for you to keep your silence?"

"Since you want to aid us in keeping our brother from getting himself disowned and not forcing the apology issue, nothing." The twins spoke together. "We will work on getting Percy to help us."

"Good. Percy and your dad are the only ones who will be able to pull it off. Dumbledore would never believe the pair of you. I can't do with anyone else."

"True. We will write home tonight and see if we can find a way to meet this weekend. I know our father would agree to help once we explain why. We just can't let our mother know." Fred knew their mother would never agree to what Harry had planned.

"True, we can't. Our dear mother would never believe her Ronnkins did anything wrong." George was very grateful that Harry didn't push the issue. They knew what could have happened to their brother if Harry had pushed the lack of an acceptable apology.

"Great, let me know." Harry pocketed the map and resisted the urge to see what else the twins might have on them. "I would be very interested in an investment opportunity once you reach that stage."

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Harry was staring at the map. He was watching the Gryffindor dorm which was empty but for one name. He frowned as he remembered the stories. He felt a bit confused. He looked at the books that were written about him. He frowned as he looked at the Black family tree that Draco provided for him. Draco explained to him that Sirius wasn't just removed because of going to Azkaban but for abandoning his family to go and reside with the Potters.

Amber was staring at him. *What is wrong?*

*I'm not sure.* Harry was trying to figure out how an adult could be in Gryffindor dorm and no one noticed it. Unless Wormtail was now Scabbers. If it was Scabbers, it would mean Black didn't kill him but what about the twelve muggles? *I believe we have a rat to catch.*

*Yummy, rat.*

*You can't eat this one. He might just be the way to block Dumbledore if we use it right.* Harry didn't want one of Dumbledore's Order members finding the rat and he had a great idea on how to use the rat. It would make Ron Weasley a bit unhappy but it would boost the Weasley name a bit while giving a bit of a hit to Dumbledore at the same time.

*How are you going to get rat? He will run when he sees me.* Amber noticed the kittens and Mrs. Norris were interested in what was going on.

*He has to see you for him to run. You will need to stay hidden until I get everything in place. Mrs. Norris and her kittens will help guide the rat into the lovely little box we picked up in Dumbledore's office.* Harry showed his furry friends the map as Amber started to slither out of the dorm room and up to Gryffindor. *You will need to chase him toward me.* He warned the kittens. *No killing him. We need him alive.*

Mrs. Norris looked at her babies. *We can do it.*

*Let's go.* Harry kept the map opened as they walked making sure to avoid anyone who might be out and about since breakfast was officially started.

________________________________________________

Mrs. Norris walked into the Gryffindor house. She searched the common room and then the individual dorms for evidence of where the rat stayed and ways he might use to escape. She exited the house and met Harry, her babies, and Amber behind a pillar near the entrance. *He is on the bed, sleeping.*

Harry smiled. *Let me see if I can get him without causing a mess and giving away he was forcibly removed.* Harry kept to the walls of the common room as he worked his way to the correct dorm. He entered the dorm and felt a bit sick. Wormtail was laying on a pillow of Ron Weasley's bed. A grown man sleeping each night in the bed of a child. He wished Mrs. Norris or Amber had killed the rat. He picked up the rat by its tail. It started squealing as Harry put it into the box. Nothing could be heard once the box was closed. Harry left the same way he arrived making sure nothing was out of place. Well, technically, he did manage to find a few interesting items. Harry headed to breakfast while Mrs. Norris and her kittens went off for their morning naps. Amber decided she was going to visit Storm. Harry sat down next to Draco.

"You are later than normal." Draco wondered what Harry had done. He had wondered where his friend disappeared to when he woke up and Harry was gone.

"I had some interesting business I needed to take care of."

"Oh?"

"Let's just say that Dumbledore won't like it."

Draco smiled. "He never likes anything you do."

"I know."

___________________________________________

Harry waited until Severus' office hours were almost over before he headed to speak to Severus. He casually strolled by the bookcase. He sat down and waited for the last of the students to leave while he read. It was Ravenclaws. He wondered if any Gryffindor ever came to see Severus during office hours besides Granger with her endless question repeated in a different format forty thousand times. He was soon engrossed in the book about the magical theory behind learning wandless magic.

"Harry?"

Harry looked up and Severus was alone in his office standing next to him. "I was reading."

"Yes, I noticed. I called you three times." Severus looked at the book. "You can read that one but no more removing books under my wards."

Harry closed the book after looking at what page he was on. "I have a question for you."

"I figured. Let's discuss it in my quarters, I have a feeling it will a complex one."

Harry followed Severus back to his quarters. Severus made them some tea as Harry got down the biscuits and put a few on a plate. Severus was about halfway finished with his tea when Harry put his cup down and pulled out a box. "I have something inside the box that would make a lot of interesting questions for the Headmaster. It would also release someone from Azkaban who is innocent."

Severus had a feeling there was more to this then that. Harry wouldn't be seeking him out if it was that simple as turning over the box. "I see."

"I do not know either person. I am not worried about getting into trouble for catching this person. I am a bit worried about Dumbledore attempting to interfere with my life if this person was revealed."

"There isn't anything he can do. If your parents were to return today, he can't do anything but support them in a custody dispute. If he has someone who might be able to claim custody of you due to whoever is in the box, they would have to pass certain criteria in order to get guardianship switched. It's not as simple as just saying I want custody and filing the paperwork. Yes, Dumbledore would do exactly that but it would still have to go through the legal process."

"What about someone released from say the Janus Thickey Ward?"

"It would be a lot harder. They would have to prove they were stable, could provide a stable home environment, and could provide financially for you."

"Azkaban?"

"Much harder. The mental and physical damage from the Dementors alone would prevent any type of guardianship. They would also have the damage just from being in Azkaban without the Dementor effects. If Dumbledore were to put his name into either type of candidate gaining custody it would only speed up a trial but if he sped it up too much, it could and would have the opposite effect he would desire. While the magical world may lack in certain areas, taking care of children is a higher priority than Dumbledore likes to believe. Dumbledore loves the idea that all family must love each other despite his own flawed relationship with his brother." Severus looked at Harry. "Are you going to provide me with details?"

"Will you be willing to promise you won't do a thing until after I explain?"

Severus arched a brow. "Harry."

"Severus."

Severus:

Harry:

Severus:

Harry:

"Fine. I promise to allow you to fully explain everything."

Harry pulled out the Marauder's Map and began to explain everything, including his plan with the twins, Percy, and Arthur. He also explained that Pettigrew couldn't hear anything while in the magical box. He showed Pettigrew in Severus' quarters. Severus leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed after everything Harry told him. "Oh, Harry, he is going to want Black to take the title and regain control over you. If he is Lord Black, he has much more power."

Harry smiled. "He's not. He was disowned by his family. Draco showed me on the family tree his mother sent for me to look at. He doesn't have any access to anything family-wise. I am Lord Black. His father made me his heir after Sirius was put into Azkazan and Regulus disappeared. The family tree shows Regulus died before I was born. He died in 1979. Narcissa explained that since Sirius did a blood adoption on me against his father's will, his father disowned him as the last straw but kept me as his grandson. He was mad about the whole moving in with the Potters and disowned him but when Regulus died, he felt he had no choice only to disown him after the blood adoption. No one else knows that part, Narcissa said the family story is that Sirius was just disowned when he moved to the Potters' home and when the blood adoption appeared on the family tree, I was accepted as Orion's grandson."

"It makes it easier. Black won't have any power, money, home, job, and a lot of issues. The Ministry won't grant custody especially if your relatives fight it. We know they will and so does Dumbledore. It won't mean he won't attempt to try."

"I want to get the rat to Madam Bones. I don't want to inform Dumbledore. I have a feeling if I did, Pettigrew would disappear until Dumbledore found a way to gain control over me."

"Are you going to mention where he has been residing?"

"No, I was going to tell her I saw him shift from being a human into the rat. I saw Mrs. Norris chasing him, I stunned him and put him into the box. I figure it be easier if I kept it simple."

"Yes, it would. I don't know it won't work well for providing her with all the answers. It won't hurt the Weasley name but it will hurt Dumbledore since Pettigrew has been hiding at Hogwarts." Severus looked at the box. "I will floo call Madam Bones and make arrangements. I will keep the rodent in my lab under wards and see if Madam Bones can meet us during my free time or come here and meet with you. Dumbledore has a meeting morning tomorrow. We might be able to get her here before he returns."

"Let me know." Harry stood up and watched Sofia enter Severus' quarters. *Fun night?*

*Yes.* Sofia hoped up onto Severus' lap. *He buys me salmon now.*

*Nice. I'm sure you informed your siblings.*

*I did. They want it now too.*

Harry laughed. "Salmon, you do realize she told her siblings?"

Severus groaned. "She liked it." He wasn't worried about Harry sharing the information. The boy had already shown he would keep things secret.

Harry laughed. "Goodnight." Harry headed to the door and he exited the room he heard Severus telling his cat not to share that type of information as it was bad for his reputation.

Chapter Text

Harry saw the twins nod their acceptance when they entered the Great Hall in the morning. Percy had agreed with their plan and would meet with Harry later to ask any questions. The twins took their normal seats after they smacked their younger brother on the back of his head. Percy ignored the outrage of his youngest brother and continued talking to his friend. Once the twins were sitting, Harry gave them a slight tilt of his head. He would meet the three Weasleys later in the little alcove where he met the twins yesterday. Harry saw the Rule Lover was in lecture mode. He wasn't sure what she was lecturing about but most of the second year Gryffindors were slowly moving away from her. "She is at it again." Harry didn't turn his head at Draco's words. "I wonder if she realizes that no one sits by her until there are no seats left and they have no choice."

"I heard the ones who lost the most points the day before get stuck in the seats closest to her based on how much they lost." Theo poured himself some pumpkin juice. "Weasley is the only one who willingly sits next to her."

"The rest do use her to get their assignments finished." Blaise had seen many of them stopping by the girl's table in the library to ask questions and get answers. "They ask her questions and she gives them such a lecture that they can do their assignments. One person will ask while the rest take the notes."

"Weasley just hands his assignments to her." Draco passed the fruit bowl down to Blaise. "No grapes again."

Harry watched Dumbledore enter the Great Hall. He knew he wasn't the only one. Anyone who had a hint of Slytherin in them was watching Dumbledore. Dumbledore always walked to the Head Table by walking close to the Gryffindor table. Harry watched the pleasant good mornings until Dumbledore got to where the moron Weasley and Rule Lover was sitting. He lingered for several seconds before moving on. Normally, Dumbledore didn't do that. Harry wondered what that lingering conversation was about. Dumbledore finally sat down and started breakfast.

Harry didn't have any classes until the third session. Severus was going to speak to Madam Bones this morning. Harry wasn't worried about Pettigrew now that Severus explained everything. Harry glanced at the Moron. He wondered why he hadn't noticed his pet was missing. The rat was usually at meals. At the end of the meal as they were leaving the Great Hall, Draco nudged Harry. "Dumbledore was watching you again."

"He also stopped by the Rule Lover and Moron."

"Great, the two of them are going to be bothering us all day." Draco wasn't looking forward to the two lions following them or causing problems in any classes. "Some of the upperclassmen are having a study session on Charms, want to attend?"

"It would be better than having those two following us to the library." Harry didn't want to deal with Dumbledore and his games. He had too many things that needed to get done today and didn't want to have a meeting with Dumbledore.

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Severus and Madam Bones were staring at the stunned form of Peter Pettigrew. "You say Mr. Potter saw him transform and caught him?"

"Yes, Harry was outside playing with Mrs. Norris' kittens. They saw the rat and ran after it. Harry ran after the kittens. He turned the corner, saw Pettigrew transforming from rat to man, scare the kittens, and then transform back to rat. He caught him after the rat was returning to Hogwarts. He doesn't trust Albus so he brought him to me."

"Yes, I'm aware of how little Mr. Potter doesn't trust Albus." Madam Bones had placed magical restraining cuffs on Pettigrew. She had been dealing with the legal issues caused by Dumbledore and Molly Weasley for over a year and she didn't think things would improve. "Has he been at Hogwarts all this time?"

"No, he arrived here for the first time as Percy Weasley's pet and now belongs to Ronald Weasley." Severus wondered why no one wondered why the rat had lived that long. Magical rats had a slightly longer life span than a muggle one but not over ten years. He never paid attention to Gryffindors unless it was to give them detention but certainly Minerva should have wondered. Transfigurations was her area of expertise. "Will Harry be needed to testify?"

"No. It changes a few things but nothing will require his testimony. I'm sure he doesn't remember the night of his parents' death." Madam Bones was not looking forward to explaining to Fudge that they have an innocent man in Azkaban. The only good news about it was that she and Fudge were innocent in anything regarding the last war. Dumbledore, on the other hand, was going to have a lot of explaining to do. She was going to have to pull Sirius Black's file and get started on his release today.

Severus didn't say anything regarding Black and the war. Dumbledore was at a Board of Education meeting so he was able to have Madam Bones use the floo to arrive. "He wasn't even aware his parents were magical."

"Yes, his relatives were not happy with the lack of knowledge their nephew had." Madam Bones had been the one who had to calm them down after the numerous incidents by Molly Weasley and Dumbledore. "I better get him back to the Ministry and get the paperwork started." She didn't want Dumbledore to sweep this under the rug. She also wanted to find out how Sirius Black got sentenced to Azkaban with Pettigrew still being alive.

"Certainly, I do thank you for attending to this matter." Severus walked to the fireplace as Madam Bones used her wand to have the stunned form of Pettigrew follow her. "Floo me if you have any questions."

"Thank you, I will." Madam Bones disappeared back to the Ministry.

Severus wondered how soon Dumbledore would find out about Pettigrew. He believed that Dumbledore had to be aware that Pettigrew was the rat Scabbers. Dumbledore was aware of everyone under the wards. He was also a guest at the Burrow for more than a decade and would have seen Scabbers. He wondered what game Dumbledore was playing with keeping Black in Azkaban beyond his attempt at keeping control of Harry. Was he keeping Black on the backburner for a future plan in the hopes of using Black to connect Harry and Black? It would be something he would do. Dumbledore would also involve Lupin as a way of controlling Black.

______________________________________________________

Harry wasn't surprised to find the three Weasleys already waiting for him in the alcove. Percy was standing between the twins. They had been speaking about some family members when Harry entered. "We don't have much time. I don't want anyone to see us together." He didn't want Dumbledore to become aware of his association with any Weasleys as it might give the man some hope.

"Agree, it wouldn't be good." Percy looked at the twins. "They want me to write to our father regarding this plan of yours. I agree it would be a good idea to teach our brother might have or could have happened. He could have cost us everything if you had pushed for it."

"Yes, I believe it might teach your brother what might have happened if he had disregarded the code of honor with another family or had we been older or someplace else. If we had been out in public, it would have been a bigger deal. Here, Dumbledore can offer a bit of protection." Harry was very aware of how straight-laced Percy was. Percy was very much a rule lover but wasn't like Granger in bullying people. Percy's ideal job was to work in the Ministry.

Percy didn't comment right away as he thought about what Harry just said. "I do agree. We have been trying to get him to understand what could have happened. He doesn't want to listen. When we were younger Dad taught us the old ways but after the war, things changed. Bill and Charlie will tell us about the times when our father would tell us the stories about our history, our rituals, and even our customs."

"This plan won't require much just some acting. Your father just has to agree to act upset. He will need to make a big deal out of your brother's lack of an acceptable apology, I will give him a few minutes before I interfere and ask if we can speak alone." Harry wanted to keep it simple. He didn't want to make a big plan or have a lot of drama. The longer the plan took to act out, the higher the chance of Dumbledore arriving and ruining everything.

"We will need to make sure the Headmaster won't interfere." The Twins spoke together.

"He will start to interfere as soon as our father enters the Great Hall." Percy frowned a bit. "Unless we can arrange for it to happen outside. If we can do it before the Quidditch game on Saturday at noon, Dumbledore won't make it outside in time to stop it."

"True. He would stop us if we did it in the Great Hall and nothing would be accomplished." Harry wouldn't mind going to another Quidditch game. He liked the shiny metal thing and certainly didn't want Dumbledore interfering in his business any more than necessary. "Let's arrange it for Saturday. If your father has a problem with it, let me know. If I don't hear anything from you, I will assume we are on for Saturday." Harry was glad they created the plan. It certainly made it simple.

"Sounds like a plan. We don't want to be seen together." The Twins looked at their brother. "Do you think Bill or Charlie might be needed to get Dad to agree with this?"

"No, in his last letter he was very disappointed about what happened but didn't know how to fix it. He will like this plan. It does what he likes to do. It will teach Ron a lesson as well as instill some history and what it means to honor our culture."

Harry didn't think it was going to take this long. He expected to simply arrange a time and place for the plan to be used. He wasn't expecting to listen to a family dynamics discussion. "I need to go. I have to meet Snape."

"Certainly, thank you for doing this." Percy was grateful.

"No problem." Harry left after he gave the Twins a quick nod.

_____________________________________

Amber and Harry were standing in Dumbledore's office. Fawkes was visiting the King. *He hasn't changed anything.*

*Nope and you would have thought he would have.* Harry walked to the desk. He lifted the few books but didn't see anything interesting and headed to the bookcases. *Anything new?*

*No, he hasn't been doing much. He has been working on the theory of having Severus converting you to his side for now in the hopes in the next year or so, you will be willing to listen to him.* Amber had been spying on Dumbledore as well as the kittens. She had been teaching them how to spy.

Harry looked up at the frozen portraits. He got an idea. *Amber, I have an idea.*

________________________________________

Dumbledore looked around his office. His desk and the basic furniture was still in place but all the portraits, decorations, and rugs, and his candleholders were all missing. He closed his eyes and counted to ten. He opened them again, nope, his stuff was still missing. He had been robbed, again. He walked to his desk and sat down. He automatically looked at his clock to check the time as he opened the top drawer of his desk. The clock was missing as well as everything inside his desk. He slammed the drawer closed as he got up. He headed to the fireplace to place a floo call but his floo powder was missing. He stormed out of his office and headed to Minerva's office. He would summon Severus once he got to her office. Minerva was walking toward her office when he saw her. "Ah, Minerva, I was wondering if I could have a few moments of your time?" He wasn't about to announce his office had been robbed again.

"Certainly, I was just going to have some tea, do join me." Minerva was looking forward to having some time to relax.

Dumbledore followed Minerva into her office. Once inside Minerva's office, Dumbledore headed to her fireplace. "Excuse me, Minerva, I need to call Severus."

Minerva wasn't sure what was going on but had a feeling she wasn't going to get her relaxing tea time before supper. Minerva listened as Dumbledore asked Severus to step through. They were due in the Great Hall for supper in an hour. Minerva poured some tea once they were seated and when they had their tea, she sat back. "What happened?"

"I'm missing everything from my office except for the furniture. The portraits, the books, the rugs, everything." Dumbledore wasn't sure how he was going to explain this. They had updated the wards on his office and Hogwarts. "My office looks like someone just lifted the furniture and stripped everything else out."

"I thought they updated all the wards and protections on your office and Hogwarts." Minerva was a bit surprised. It was during classes. How did no one see the robbery? How did no one see anyone walking out with all the items Dumbledore just listed.

"They did. I had the DoM out just last week to check on the wards and they stated that everything was intact." Severus was impressed. He still hadn't figured out how Harry had been able to remove things from Hogwarts during the night or early mornings but during the day when students and staff were roaming around was impressive. "Even my lemon drops are missing including the candy dishes."

"Just your furniture is there?" Severus wasn't sure how Harry did it. He knew Harry didn't use Fawkes. Harry didn't know magic before he attended Hogwarts.

"Yes, even the candlesticks are missing." Dumbledore began to go down the list of different things that were missing. He let his frustration out in a small way as he listed the last two years of things that were still missing. He went on about his gargoyle which seemed to bother him the most. Severus glanced at Minerva and wondered if he should add some calming potion into Dumbledore's tea. "It's like Knockturn Alley has moved into Hogwarts." Dumbledore's age was showing on his face.

"It's not that bad, Albus. Yes, some things are missing but Hogwarts isn't turning into Knockturn."

"She is correct, Albus. Someone really only seems to be targetting you." Severus didn't think Dumbledore would reveal too much of his plans or ideas but some hints would be good. He was also hoping by directing Dumbledore to the idea that someone was after him and not Hogwarts, Dumbledore might focus on that and start to leave Harry alone.

"It has to be Tom." Severus wanted to scream as he realized his plan just backfired. "He is the only parseltongue. He is the only one who could be sneaking into Hogwarts and doing this. I have to figure out what he is looking for. We will need to speak to some of the other countries warding agencies and see if they have anyone who is a speaker who might be able to aid us. He knows Harry is here but hasn't gone after Harry. I'm a bit concerned about why. Tom has always been vengeful and he would want to get rid of Harry because of the prophecy and vengeance."

"What aspect are you concerned about regarding Harry?" Minerva set her teacup down on the saucer. They had been hearing about the prophecy for over a decade and it was getting old.

"I'm concerned as to why hasn't he gone after Harry. Harry hasn't had any interactions with him, I don't believe. I am wondering if Tom is building up to something. Is he setting up something that will entice Harry to join him? He must feel that since Harry is a Slytherin that Harry isn't a danger to him as of yet." Dumbledore sighed. "I am a bit concerned that Harry will be enticed to join him. He hasn't shown me anything to indicate that he is going to follow the light. He doesn't want to be friends with anyone who is a follower of the light and his friends are followers of Tom's."

"He also hasn't shown any signs he is going to follow the dark, either." Minerva wasn't very happy with this conversation or has she was beginning to think of it, Dumbledore's Pity Party. "Harry's American relatives are great influence over him too."

Dumbledore's sour face let them know what he thought about the Americans. "Severus, after supper, could you run some scans?"

"Certainly but you are aware it won't reveal anything new." Severus wasn't sure why Dumbledore just didn't call the DMLE as most people would have done. "Will you be floo calling the Aurors?"

"After I see what the warders say, I don't want to call the Aurors unless it's necessary." Dumbledore didn't need any more bad press.

"We shall have to deal with this after supper." Minerva stood up. "Unless you wish to deal with it now while Severus and I attend the meal?"

"It might be better if I did attend to the situation while the students were in the Great Hall." Dumbledore stood up and walked to the fireplace. "My floo powder was even stolen."

Severus used the turning of his body to push his chair in to recover from a small smirk on his face at the idea of Harry stealing even the floo powder. He really should rebuke Harry for this latest theft but he had no proof that it was Harry. Harry would never admit it unless he was caught. If he tried to rebuke Harry, Harry wouldn't deny it but he wouldn't admit it either. Severus had spent many hours trying to figure out how Harry did it and still had no idea. "If you need me, let me know."

"Thank you, Severus." Dumbledore placed his call as Minerva and Severus left Minerva's office.

Minerva waited until they were a bit away from her office before she stopped Severus. She put up a privacy charm. "He is going to use the return of Tom in an attempt to obtain custody of Harry."

"Yes, I afraid he will try and it will backfire."

"Yes, it will."

________________________________________________________________________

The Aurors read the results the DoM warder handed him. They had been summoned after the DoM warders had been called to Hogwarts. One of the Aurors was Kingsley with two junior Aurors. "Everyone head back to the Ministry, I will handle this."

No one spoke as they left. Dumbledore looked a bit surprised as his office emptied out. "Kingsley?"

"Albus, you don't want to continue down this path."

"What do you mean? I need to get everything returned." Dumbledore walked across the room and sat down at his desk. He had been standing by the doorway as the warder ran his scan.

"Albus, the scans show it was your magic that removed everything from your office." Kingsley handed the results to Dumbledore. "It has your magical signature all over the wards. It has your signature showing that you froze the portraits and removed them as well as everything else."

"I didn't." Dumbledore was reading the results. He wasn't sure how anyone could have used his magical signature. "I am not even sure it is possible for anyone to copy a person's magical signature."

Kingsley sighed. "It is up to you regarding the filing of the report. If you file it, I will have to arrest you."

"Yes, I'm aware. I will hold onto this report and will search for the missing items myself. Thank you, Kingsley, for your assistance."

"Albus, be careful." Kingsley pulled out a bag of fresh floo powder and placed it on Dumbledore's desk. "Here is a new bag of floo powder for you." Kingsley pulled out a small pouch of floo powder he always carried and walked to the fireplace. "Call me if you need anything."

Dumbledore was still looking at the scan as he waved goodbye to Kingsley. He wondered how Tom was able to do it. It must have been when Tom stole some of the other things from his office. He was going to have to speak to Severus and see if the man had any idea if there was any type of dark magic capable of doing this.

Chapter Text

"Severus, would you join Minerva and me down in the lower cellar." Dumbledore was by the massive front doors to enter Hogwarts.

Severus had been hoping to go and snip a few things from Hagrid's garden that he needed for a potion. Severus hoped Harry didn't leave any evidence behind at whatever he had discovered. "Certainly." It was a bit of a good sign that they weren't heading up to the Headmaster's office or that Dumbledore hadn't asked where Harry was.

"Excellent, my boy. Minerva is meeting us at the entrance." Dumbledore turned and headed to the area behind the main stairwell. Severus followed Dumbledore through the hall leading down to the lower cellar. Minerva was already standing there. "This won't take long."

"Albus, why are we meeting here. You know we don't keep anything down in this area of the castle because of the low ceiling. We can't even stand up in there." Minerva didn't think anyone had been down in the lower cellar in years if not decades.

"We aren't going down into the cellar. We are just waiting for Viktor to return from being down the cellar." Dumbledore hoped this was the solution he needed.

"Viktor?" Minerva was wondering what Dumbledore had done and who Viktor was.

Severus looked around. He wasn't sure who Viktor was but he was just glad Harry's name wasn't attached to this latest endeavor. The hall was empty except for some dust. The door was closed but that wasn't a surprise. All of the doors leading to the storage areas were usually locked. He could hear Minerva and Dumbledore discussing the last report from Aurors and neither had been able to determine how Dumbledore's magical signature was left behind. Severus was trying to figure that out himself. Harry was a true enigma. Just when Severus thought he had the boy figured out, something blew the theory out the window.

The door opened and a man stepped through the door. "'Ello, 'ello, you got yourself a right mess down there, gov." Viktor was only slightly taller than Filius but had red hair and green eyes. He wore dingy coveralls that had a variety of old stains as well as new cobwebs and dust spots.

"Sweet Merlin, what problem?" Dumbledore hoped this might be the answer.

"Gov, you got more than one problem, you do. Major problems down there. I mean it, you got yourself a mess of problems. I found signs of hobgoblins and gremlins, right nasty things they are too as well as tricksters. I saw pixies flying around too. You got a nice mix of troublemakers enjoying the benefits of Hogwarts."

"No! They must be what is happening to everything. Would they be the ones stealing things?" Minerva was hoping it wasn't as serious as it sounded.

"Aye, ma'am, they love doing things to cause problems and the magic here with no wards preventing them from entering would attract them faster than white on rice, it would." Viktor looked up at Dumbledore. "You should have added those wards. You will need to get Gringotts to come out after I finish to add the wards."

"Great, we have a solution to the problems. How do we get rid of them?" Dumbledore smiled as he ran his hands down his beard. He now had proof that is wasn't Harry stealing. He had a solution to why his magical signature on present and could explain things to the Ministry and the Auror department. Everything was swinging back into his favor.

"Gov, that ain't your only problem. You got termites too! You going to need to have a lot of posts and beams replaced too. Your lucky the floors haven't fallen through. Hogwarts keeping them up, I think." Viktor rocked on his feet. "You got yourself a full bag of other critters and bugaboos down there with those magical guys."

"What do we need to do to evict the unwanted guests?" Severus wondered how this new development happened. Harry was involved in those thefts, Harry hadn't denied it but he also hadn't admitted to anything either.

"I've got to put a tent over the place and fumigate the whole place for at least a month after I catch all those hobgoblins, gremlins, tricksters, and pixies. Whoever brought the pixies into here started the whole mess." Viktor looked up. "I will need to check the whole castle, top to bottom."

"A month, at least?" Dumbledore looked surprised. Perhaps things weren't swinging back in his favor. Minerva and Severus turned and looked at Dumbledore. Dumbledore looked a bit sheepish. "I wasn't aware they would cause a problem." Dumbledore had never had an issue before with pixies but no one was stupid enough to let them loose as Lockhart had done either.

"Oh, gov, tell me you didn't bring them in here?"

"No, I just allowed them to enter. The professor who did so has since left." Dumbledore didn't like how this was sounding. A month just to fumigate and it wasn't even January. It meant that nothing would be done for months regarding that aspect unless they removed all the students for a month. He didn't want that to happen as it would create more problems for him.

Viktor started making tutting sounds and shaking his head. "Gov, you made your problem. They think you wanted to play with them and keep doing more and more tricks as you aren't playing with them. This job is just jumped into a major complication. I will have to hire some assistants to help me. It going to take me about five months or longer to catch everything." A magical pad and quill appeared and Viktor started to write figures down. "Fumigating a place of this size isn't easy either. We might need more than a month once I get a chance to look at the damage to everything. I need to hire an engineer as well." Viktor was all business as he began to write things down. His goblin nature appearing. "We will need to add in the cost of repairs once I get more information." He wrote down the projection of what might need to be replaced and the rough cost." When he was finished, he handed the slip of paper to Dumbledore. "Mind you, as stated, it's a very rough estimate and I can submit my final estimate once I have a full gander at everything."

Severus and Minerva looked at the price as Dumbledore's jaw dropped. "This is more than our annual budget."

"Well, gov, you never kept up on things, invited them in, and the terminates have been having a feast on the wood supports." Viktor reached into the pocket of his coverall and pulled out a glass jar. "See, these guys are nice and fat termites." He held up the jar for them to see. "They have been enjoying the high life down there."

"May I?" Severus indicated the termites. Severus had a few potions that he could use the termites for and having some that he could use to breed and create more would help him. "I'm a potion master and I could set up a breeding area for them."

"Certainly, gov. I have no use for them. They are easy to keep but I expecting you are aware of that aspect." Viktor handed the jar to Severus. "I'll save anything you might need too. No sense in tossing them away if you could use it."

"I appreciate it." Severus pocketed the jar of termites.

"I have an appointment coming up. You let me know if or when you want me to start." Viktor started to unzip his coveralls.

"Can you start tomorrow to give us a more accurate estimate?" Minerva removed the paper from Dumbledore's hand and almost passed out at the amount written down. However, she was very aware that Dumbledore hadn't done anything about the critters they had seen over the decades. "This is your fault." She glared at Dumbledore.

"Sure, sure. No problem." Viktor was wearing jeans and a polo type of shirt. "I will be here at six AM." Viktor waved his hand as he started down the hall to head out of Hogwarts.

"I have some plants I need to retrieve from Hagrid's garden." Severus didn't want to listen to Minerva lecturing Dumbledore on his lack of care regarding Hogwarts.

_____________________________________________________________________

"How did it go?" Harry was sitting on a large rock. Midnight was sitting on his lap.

"Perfect, kiddo. I got hired. The usual percentage?" Viktor sat down on a rock near Harry. "You should have gotten me involved soon."

"Yes. Let's just say I needed you to provide a bit of cover for some of my other projects. Did you triple the rate?" Harry didn't want Dumbledore's lack of care to destroy Hogwarts.

"Are you kidding me? I did more than that, you should see the mess down there. Termites and pixies, hobgoblins, and gremlins are all down there having a field day."

"I did warn you about the pixies." Harry had discovered the other uninvited guests while exploring Hogwarts using the map. He felt he was close to finding one of the Founders' Rooms. He didn't want the tricksters and others to interfere with his plans.

"True, you did. I'm going to have to call in Edgar to check out the structural issues."

"Edgar will love the work. You might need to get Clarence and his clan to assist. How long of a job?" Harry wouldn't mind seeing some of his old friends.

"It's going to be several months before we can even tent the place to fumigate. He let the place go to pot." Viktor had been the original one to handle the critter control for Hogwarts.

"I will keep you up to date on if I need to work in some areas."

"You do that because I don't want to get caught in one of your hairbrained schemes." Viktor gave him a hard look.

"Hey, it's not my fault they assumed you were the one who was responsible and they didn't believe me. They kept insisting I was protecting you."

"Yes, I'm aware and that is the only reason why I didn't kill you." Viktor gave a slight laugh. "I better go. I told Millie I would be home for lunch."

Harry got up as Viktor did. They walked to the bridge.

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Severus stood up and saw Harry and Viktor walking to the bridge. They were laughing about something. He felt like kicking himself. He should have known that Harry had something to do with what was happening down cellar. The two were too chummy for it to be the first time meeting each other. He wondered how much the boy was making off of the deal. He headed back to Hogwarts. He was thankful tomorrow was Saturday and he hoped the Quidditch game would give him some peace. Perhaps, one of the teams might score. They still hadn't been able to locate any snitches. Madam Hooch had to buy new ones.

"Meow."

Severus looked down and saw Midnight sitting there. "He knows I was here doesn't he?" He bent down and picked up the kitten. "I don't suppose you can tell me what he is up too?" Midnight started purring. "I thought so. Come on, I have some fresh salmon for you and your siblings." Severus wasn't surprised to find all the kittens and Amber in his quarters. "Come on, fresh salmon."

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Harry and Draco were heading to the Quidditch field. "When do you play?"

"We aren't sure. Since no one has scored and all the games have been called, they are thinking of having a competition at the end of the year. If no one scores in this game, Madam Hooch wants to add a game a month to see if perhaps one team might score and once one does, back to the regular schedule." Slytherin had played the last time and the game had been called when it had gotten so dark that no one could see. Harry didn't care, he wanted more of the pretty gold balls with wings. "Hooch had to order more snitches."

"I looked up what snitches look like. Very pretty birds." Harry was happy the birds always escaped. The birds looked so fragile and he thought the seekers would have killed the birds if they caught them.

"You want to be on the Claws or Puffs?"

"Just put the money on who you wish. I have a book to read for the game." Harry was also looking forward to Mr. Weasley's arrival. Harry followed Draco to the Slytherin section of the stands. He saw the twins and Percy were already in the stands in Gryffindor. When Draco went to go up higher, Harry stopped him. "Down here will be a better show." Draco was about to protest but saw his friend's smirk. He sat down next to Harry.

(A/N Here is it....at long last....the Ron hopefully learns his lesson)

"Here come our teams. Ravenclaw coming onto the field first. Hufflepuff coming out next." Lee Jordan's voice filled the air. "Madam Hooch is heading out to the field to determine which team gets which side." Lee Jordan's table was set up by the Gryffindor stand.

Harry nudged Draco. Draco looked at him. Harry tilted his head toward Hogwarts. Draco turned his head, his eyes did a bit of a bulge. "You kidding?" Harry smirked. "This is going to be a much better show."

Mr. Weasley walked directly to the Gryffindor stands. Once in front of the stands, he pointed his wand at his throat. "RON BILIUS WEASLEY!" Mr. Weasley's voice echoed from the speakers. Lee Jordans' mike picked up Mr. Weasley's voice as he continued. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you think that apology was acceptable in any way I believe we will be revising the lessons I taught you when you were younger after a visit to my workshop." While he had been speaking his youngest son made his way down the stands to stand in front of his father.

Mr. Weasley didn't look like his normal forgetful self. He looked like a concerned dad. "Dad, what are you doing here?" Weasley looked around and everyone was paying attention to what was happening with the Weasley family.

"I am hoping to correct the grave insult you did to Harry Potter and the Potter family with your sadly worded apology delivered with not a bit of remorse but a lot of attitude." Mr. Weasley looked at his other three sons. "Percy, please ask Mr. Potter if he can join us. Fred, George, get Lee to turn that thing off."

"Certainly, Father." Percy headed toward the Slytherin stands.

"Dad, come on, Potter and he is a Slytherin. All Slytherins are evil. He is a thief and everything else I claimed. No one wants to admit it because he is a Potter. Besides, I apologized and that is all that should matter. We shouldn't have to bend over backward just to please some pureblood outdated policy." Granger was standing next to Weasley and Ginny moved to stand next to her father who placed an arm over his daughter's shoulder.

"We told you it wasn't a good apology." Granger rebuked Weasley.

"Hermione now isn't the time. Dad, come on, you know it's not that big of a deal."

"You are very wrong. Do you have any idea what could have happened? Do you, Ronald?" Mr. Weasley looked sternly at his son. "Let me clue you in on a few things while we wait for Mr. Potter to join us. He could have demanded justice and taken everything from us. EVERYTHING! He could have demanded an honor duel with him being able to cast the first spell. I made you very aware of what could happen."

"Yes, I could have." Harry and Draco were standing with Percy. "I could have ruined your name as well, it would have ruined your older brothers budding careers."

"Exactly." Mr. Weasley looked at his son. "There is a reason why I taught you those ways." Mr. Weasley turned and faced Harry. "Mr. Potter-"

"Arthur, I wasn't expecting you to be here today. Before we do go any further, I am happy to inform everyone we have discovered who has been stealing everything. Hogwarts is invested is gremlins, hobgoblins, and tricksters as well as pixies and other things. The situation is being resolved which should erase any doubt regarding the thefts." Dumbledore looked at Ron. "It hasn't been Harry."

"Good news." Mr. Wesley faced Harry. "I regret meeting you under this situation. I sincerely wish to apologize for my youngest son's behavior. I wasn't aware of the full situation regarding this event or previous events."

"I forgave him a while ago. I have no desire to ruin you or your family. We have a clean slate." Harry held out his hand. Mr. Weasley shook his hand.

"I thank you on behalf of myself and my family." Mr. Weasley bowed after he released Harry's hand. "Now, apologize again, correct. You have confirmation now that it hasn't been Mr. Potter."

"See, Ron, the Headmaster told you before it wasn't him and now they have evidence that it wasn't."

Severus had been listening to the conversation as he approached. He should have known. It was the type of plan he would have crafted. It was also very public and everyone would be writing home to their parents about this development as well as Rita announcing it to all. He was sure she was around someplace. Weasley looked furious that he would have to apologize but stepped toward Harry. "I am sincerely sorry I accused you of being a thief. Please accept my apology." Ron bowed.

"Apology accepted." Harry bowed. He didn't want to drag this out.

"Excellent, excellent." Dumbledore clapped his hands together. "Now, perhaps Ron and Harry can be friends as well as Hermione and Ginny."

"Are the lemon drops you like making you high?" Harry wasn't about to be friends with the Moron, Rule Lover, or the Moron's sister.

"You lot go back to your seats. Write to your mother later, Hermione, write to your parents."

"Draco, Harry, return to the Slytherin stands." Severus made his appearance known. "Albus, Arthur."

"Yes, Professor Snape." Draco pulled Harry with him as they left.

"Albus, come with me." Mr. Weasley started to walk away. Severus followed. Dumbledore looked a bit stumped but decided to follow. When they were far enough away, Mr. Weasley stopped walking. "Albus, stop forcing a relationship between my youngest children and Mr. Potter but it stops now. I already warned my wife and I am warning you. Do not push it any further."

"Arthur, it's vital that Harry is connected to a good light family. We have to get him away from the potentially darker side."

"Albus, forcing it won't make it happen. If anything, you are alienating him."

"Exactly. We have been telling you exactly that." Severus huffed. "You two fight it out but stop involving Harry in your plots, Albus." Severus stormed back to Hogwarts. He was tired of dealing with idiots. It was a sad day when a thirteen-year-old ran circles around a group of adults.