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Kjkit - Harry Potter and the Marcello School
Chapter 46 - Return of the Dragon
A/N – well, I'm back. And here's something to sink your teeth into whilst I just go over the final chapters a couple more times. Kit. xxx
Chapter 46: Return of the dragon
Harry stayed mentally still, not daring to move incase he inadvertently announced his presence to the Dark Lord whose eyes he was presently looking through.
It was a strange sensation, as the previous times he had seen a vision through the eyes of Voldemort had been accompanied by intense feelings of hatred and darkness. Their absence was highly noticeable, and though he realized that even the most evil of wizards would have to take time to sleep and to rest, Harry felt lost in the blankness that filled the Dark Wizard's mind as he stared blankly into the shadows, alone in the great hall of his new headquarters.
All he could see in the darkness was the shadowy movement of a pair of long torn curtains blowing raggedly by the breeze coming through the broken windows, creating an eerie sound in the otherwise silent room as the Dark Lord stared absently into space. Harry felt that it would be just his luck that there would be no way of finding out Voldemort's plans before his intrusion was discovered and he was occluded from the Dark Wizard's mind, no doubt with a painful reminder that he shouldn't stray that way again.
He sighed, patiently waiting, and forced himself to stay alert for any change of mood, or a little thought that would indicate the Dark Wizard's plans. It seemed like forever before Voldemort's vision slowly moved to the doors at the other end of the hall, and Harry could sense a degree of annoyance from the Wizard as a number of his Death Eaters walked into the room, disturbing his quiet time.
Harry recognized the faces of Lucius Malfoy and his son, as well as those of Avery and the two Lestranges. All of them peered apprehensively from underneath their dark hoods as they knelt and briefly kissed the earth in front of Voldemort's feet.
"Well, what is it?" Harry felt himself saying.
The Death Eaters stood to attention, and Bellatrix stepped forward. "We have news that the giants aren't willing to side with us for this battle." She said boldly, before stepping back into line, giving no explanation as to the giants' decisions.
Harry felt a sudden influx of emotions from the Dark Wizard's mind, ranging from the usual rage to disappointment. His eyes narrowed dangerously and Harry asked why the giants weren't willing to side with him, after all the discussions and agreements they had made.
The elder Malfoy stepped forward, albeit slightly hesitantly, and Harry noticed Draco drop his eyes to the floor as if he knew what was likely to happen next and wasn't willing to watch it.
"They told us that nothing was worth traveling all that distance to attack Hogwarts on a day that has obviously been set as a trap, my Lord." The elder Malfoy said firmly, though Harry could see his apprehension as a wave of anger soared through Voldemort's body.
Harry silently screamed with pain as Voldemort cast the Cruciatus curse on the silver-haired Death Eater. "HOW DARE THEY QUESTION ME?" he snarled, finally releasing the writhing man from the curse.
Harry sighed with short-lived relief as Voldemort stood up from his seat and started to pace. "They have no right to question me." He repeated angrily under his breath.
"But it makes no sense to us either, my Lord." Bellatrix said tentatively. "Many of our allies would not be available for such a battle, as it falls on the day after a full-moon…"
Harry bit back another scream as another curse was emitted from Voldemort's wand.
"If we could only postpone the attack until the week after…" Bellatrix's husband, Rodolphus said. "It would lead them into a false sense of security, and they would never expect it…"
Voldemort's curse was redirected once more.
"You cannot say it does not make sense." Avery said in a monotone, knowing exactly what was going to result from his words, but he and the others had made a pact to attempt to convince the Dark Wizard to rethink his plans. "We are all willing to follow you, of course. But it seems to me that we will be fighting a hopeless battle without a full force behind us…"
Harry felt the blood in his veins burn with hatred as Voldemort uttered the curse once more, and then found himself standing before the silent figure of Draco Malfoy.
"Do you dare question me also?" Voldemort said in a quiet, but dangerous voice.
The younger Malfoy raised his head, briefly glancing at the figures rolling on the dusty ground to his left before meeting the menacing red eyes that stared at him from the snake-like features of the Dark Wizard.
"It is not my place to, my Lord." He said respectively.
Voldemort continued to stare into the boy's face before he nodded. "You will do well if you keep up that mentality, my boy." He said. "Much better than others in your family."
He raised his wand again and shouted the curse once more, causing Harry to fight against the link between them before the pain overwhelmed him completely.
Back in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts castle, Leo and Lupin stood silently near Harry's bed, watching Madam Pomfrey bustle around with various potions, muttering under her breath about the number of times the foolish boy had needed her attention over the years.
The men turned as the door to the ward opened, and Dumbledore and Snape walked in, followed closely by Harry's Marcello friends, Hermione, Ron and Ginny. "How is he doing?" Conway asked, peering at the unconscious form on the bed.
"Hasn't woken up since Brogan knocked him out." Leo replied.
"That was nearly four hours ago!" Hermione exclaimed.
"Hey, I didn't hit him that hard." Brogan said, raising his arms in defence as the Gryffindor prefect shot a look at him. "That boy just has a real soft head."
Sheridan snorted. "Yeah, that's right." He agreed. "He managed to knock himself out on a badly placed pebble before our visit to Diagon Alley."
"He managed to knock himself out?" Todd asked, raising one eyebrow.
Sheridan shrugged. "Okay, okay. So I was the one who tackled him, but I wasn't the one who chose a rock as a crash-mat." He said. "Besides, he wasn't out for half this long before."
Remus looked across at Snape and Dumbledore. "You think he's going to be okay?" he asked worriedly, but before anyone could reply the youngest Weasley gave a small cry and scooted over to the side of Harry's bed. "He gave a kind of sigh, and turned his head." Ginny explained as Leo and Remus came closer and questioned her.
Remus leant in so that he was level to Harry's face. "Harry, can you hear me?"
"Shh," Leo said, placing a hand on the Marauder's shoulder. "Don't wake him. He's dreaming. Look at his eyes."
Remus nodded, watching the boy's eyelids flicker and his head twitch slightly as he followed things in his mind that no one else could see.
Leo stood upright as Harry started to mumble under his breath, and turned to the headmaster who was discussing with Snape any possible ways of helping Harry occlude his mind should something go wrong. "I think we should clear the room." He said in a low voice. "Though the second time I saw him have one of these visions wasn't that bad, but the first caused him to convulse, and both times he was extremely nauseous when he woke. I don't think he would appreciate the audience."
Dumbledore nodded understandingly, and started herding the Gryffindors out of the door, promising to tell them as soon as Harry awoke whilst Leo had a quick word with his students.
"Brogan, I want you to stay." He said somberly to the burly Marcello student. "If he does convulse like he did on the steps that time, then we might need you to help hold him down. I don't want to risk him hurting himself if possible."
Brogan nodded, and all the students looked to the bed as Harry cried out a little, his head swinging loosely against the pillow as he gave another huffing sigh.
"We'll meet you downstairs, then." Todd said before following the others out of the room, each one sending a last look over their shoulder before exiting through the door.
Brogan followed his Master over to the bed, and stood near its head on the opposite side to where Remus was diligently holding onto Harry's hand and gently brushing his long, dark hair away from his face.
"Why do I have a real bad feeling about this?" he asked no one in particular.
Harry gave out another small cry and his breathing became more erratic. Leo looked up at the potions professor and said. "I think we might need some pain-relief potions soon. Particularly those for a bad migraine."
Snape opened his mouth to verbalize the usual cutting remarks about Harry and his ability for causing trouble, but bit back his tongue. He took one long look at the headmaster before pursing his lips together and spinning away, sending his cloak billowing out behind him as he exited.
Moments after the potions professor had left, Harry let out a loud scream, his back arching painfully against the mattress before he bit his lip and choked back the cries that had briefly escaped him.
The Marcello student nodded, and stepped close to the bed, placing one knee on the mattress as he gripped hold of Harry's upper arms firmly and used his weight to prevent the convulsing boy from thrashing around too much.
Harry continued screaming and pushing against Brogan's hold for several long minutes, whilst Remus paced anxiously by the bed, staring at the boy with regret and worry in his eyes. He was still convulsing when Snape rejoined Dumbledore and Leo at the foot of his bed to discuss the possibilities of using forced Occlumency to drag Harry from his vision.
The men rushed forward when the unconscious boy finally sagged against the bed, breathing heavily with his scar inflamed brightly against his now pale face. Remus reached him first, approaching the bed from the opposite side from where Brogan was perched, to take Harry by the shoulders and call his name softly.
The future Doyen didn't respond; his head was still weaving drunkenly against his pillow, and his breaths coming jagged and rasping.
"I don't think its over." Leo said ominously after a brief hiatus, just as Harry's teeth bit down hard against his bottom lip to prevent a scream, and his back once more tensed against the hold his friend had on him.
This final attack was briefer than the previous one, and finished with Harry's emerald eyes snapping open with a slightly surprised look in them, before he began to cough wetly.
Leo rushed forward, and he and Brogan managed to turn Harry over so that the boy could empty his stomach over the side of the bed without the fear of choking.
Harry weakly gripped the edge of the mattress as his stomach heaved, until a hand containing a steaming white liquid appeared in his blurred field of vision.
"Drink this." he heard the faint voice of the potions professor say. "It'll help settle your stomach."
Harry attempted to reach for the goblet, but as soon as he released his grip from the mattress the world spun and he shut his eyes tight, pressing his forehead with its burning scar firmly against the comparatively cool mattress before he had to empty his stomach again.
"Here, Harry." he felt a steady hand on his back, and the bed tip slightly as someone took a seat next to him. He pulled open his watery eyes and turned his head slightly to see Remus sitting there, the goblet now in his hands. "It really will make you feel better."
He willingly accepted the assistance given by his friend as he took a few sips of the potion. As soon as the nauseous feeling had past, Harry once more fell against the mattress, rubbing his searing forehead tiredly against it. Again, he felt a hand rest lightly on his back, and lifted his head this time to see a small vial of a reddish liquid in front of him. Unable to get his thoughts entirely together, he willingly swallowed the bitter liquid, and was relieved when his headache began to pass moments later.
He pushed himself onto his back, muttering a weak "thanks" as his eyes began to flutter shut. Now it was all over and he was once again safe in the medical ward of Hogwarts, Harry wanted nothing more to sleep the aches and pains of the cruciatus curse that he had just experienced away.
The boy groaned and tried to will the annoying voice away. Instead of disappearing, however, the voice just laughed slightly. "Though the sensation of a banishing charm is quite ticklish, Harry, you are in no fit state to be using wandless magic to its full potential quite yet."
Harry vaguely recognised the sound of Leo's voice, and tried to force his eyes open to look at his fellow Master.
"What happened, Harry?" The man asked. "Is Voldemort coming to the tournament? You can sleep as long as you like as long as you tell us that."
Harry nodded slightly, not wanting to aggravate his still throbbing head back to its previous intensity.
"He coming." he said with a breathless whisper. "Though the giants won't be there, and his Death Eaters weren't happy about it. That's why he was so mad."
Leo nodded. "Good lad." he said, gently mimicking Remus' previous movements and gently brushing the boy's sweaty bangs out of his face. The other men in the room exchanged quick glances, realising that even though Harry had matured greatly since he had disappeared in the summer, it was at times like these when they were reminded of his true age and vulnerability.
"That's all we wanted to know." Leo crooned softly. "Sleep now, we'll talk more when you wake."
Harry nodded, and pushed himself onto his side, burrowing his head into the pillow and ignoring the conversations between the other men in the room as he drifted to sleep.
A couple of days later found Harry and his former headmaster walking leisurely from Dumbledore's office to the great hall, where the evening meal was about to start.
The two of them had decided to take a break from all the tournament preparations, and had spent most of the afternoon talking about Harry's investigations into Phoenix and their powers. Time had been forgotten until they had looked at the clock and realised how late it was. This, however, didn't stop Dumbledore from continuing his enthusiastic questioning though.
"So phoenixes don't really communicate with a set language then?" Dumbledore was asking.
Harry shook his head patiently in response to the headmaster's question. "If Fawkes were to trill a single note, I wouldn't be able to tell you if it were a specific word or anything." Harry explained. "That's probably why wizards have had a great deal of difficulty in translating what they say, and I guess the same goes for Unicorns as well. The way a phoenix communicates is more by projecting what they mean onto the person they are communicating with. They do this with their song and, I imagine, part of their magic. That is why Fawkes can make you feel happy or calm and, to a certain extent, can make you think you are right or wrong. Though, of course, the body language of the bird has a lot to say about that as well."
Dumbledore nodded. "It really is fascinating," he said, his voice drifting off as he thought over their conversations from that afternoon.
"I have one question to ask you, professor." Harry said as they walked. The headmaster indicated that Harry should continue with a encouraging smile. "When Voldemort attacked Privet Drive, he managed to use the power I produced to transport all the Death Eaters to safety. And when I was in his Circle afterwards, he tried to convince me that he could use my magic, and together we would become invincible. How did he do that? Is it possible for anyone to change the purpose of a curse?"
Dumbledore rubbed a hand across his mouth as he formulated an answer in his mind. "I honestly don't know, Harry," he admitted. "Though I feel that it has a lot to do with willing it to happen, much like the basics of the wandless magic you have mastered. I would also hazard a guess that it was something similar to what your mother did when Voldemort attacked your home when you were a baby. With her sacrifice she managed to transform the hatred contained within the Avada Kedavra curse into something full of love in order to protect you. I feel that the two emotions were so contrasting in nature, and the strength of the curse was so powerful, that you were given the ability to change into a creature that symbolises love and the desire to protect."
Harry nodded. "I guess it makes sense, for the Phoenix form had to come from somewhere. But why did she die? Voldemort didn't even seem tired when he transformed the magic at Privet Drive."
"Your mother was a very talented young witch, Harry, but she wasn't very powerful if you compare her to Voldemort. There is a marked difference between being able to perform a spell, and the ability to make that spell strong. I fear that the effort it took to transform the Avada Kedavra curse into something that would protect you was too much for her. But her sacrifice did work its purpose, and you were able to escape death that day."
The Hogwarts' headmaster fell silent and the two of them walked slowly in silence for a while before Dumbledore spoke up again.
"How are the Marcello students settling in?" he asked with a sudden change of subject. "I can see you training hard from my office window everyday, though I must admit, I am pretty naive in how well you are all progressing."
Harry nodded slightly. "The group training is going really well." he said. "They were all enthusiastic about learning new ways of fighting in pairs and small groups. I had Dean and couple of other muggle-borns come down the other day to teach them all how to play football..." at the blank but curious look the headmaster gave him, Harry went on to say. "Its the muggle equivalent of Quidditch, though it only has one ball that you have to kick into the opposing team's goal. It relies a lot on team work, and being aware of who is around you, as well as improving your fitness with all the running around you have to do."
"So you have no real worries about their training then?"
Harry stayed silent for a few moments as they waited at the end of the corridor for the moving staircase to make its way around to them again. "They all suddenly seem to be finding their Dances," he said in a slightly worried tone. "I guess it means that they will be set up against the other Marcello students when they arrive with Voldemort. Naturally, I've had them working hard at their individual practises, and I want each of them to be as good as they can be before the time comes to use their Dances."
He smiled slightly. "I've also had them sparring against each other, as well as myself, Horus and Leo, just to see what it would be like to go against another when Dancing. Obviously, we aren't always performing the correct moves against the Dancer, as the Dance is supposed to fit naturally into the your opposition's moves when you duel. But at least it gives them the idea, and it also hones the skills of their sparring partner should they come across a Dance whilst they are fighting.
Dumbledore nodded. "Their help will be a great aid in this war." he said. "I have heard many praises from the teaching staff about the sudden improvement in many of their students' class room performances. I can only assume that this is because the additional help your Marcello friends have been giving in their DA practises."
Harry shrugged. "We haven't really taught them anything new." He said. "But it does make it so much easier having everyone splitting into smaller groups to practise in, ensuring that someone who can already perform the spells is available for assistance in each group. It just means we can work on a more individual basis."
The young Master smiled slightly. "One person who does amaze me is Neville. At the beginning of last year, he could barely remember how to hold his wand. Now, after the incident at the Ministry, he has thrown himself into learning Defence, and is usually more than capable of helping out his own little group."
Again, Dumbledore nodded, stepping onto the top step of the stone staircase that had finally slotted itself back into place before them. "Like you, Neville Longbottom has an inner strength, a power that not many people ever possess in their lifetime. I believe that either one of you had the strength to be the one of the prophecy, and it was only because Voldemort felt threatened by the similarity between you both being half-bloods that made him go after you that fateful night."
"What do you think would've happened if he had gone after Neville?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore remained thoughtful. "I honestly could not say." he finally said. "Maybe things would've turned out a lot differently, maybe everything would have been exactly the same but with your and Neville's positions swapped."
The headmaster hesitated on the bottom step before walking off down the corridor next to Harry. "How much do you think your phoenix abilities are capable of?" he asked, and at Harry's questioning look further explained. "Earlier you mentioned that you thought that Phoenix Song could hold the power to do almost everything, giving the example of Remus' cure, but also of restoring memory. What did you mean by this?"
Harry sighed. "Its hard to explain." he said. "But what if the Longbottom's haven't lost their minds? What if it is simply a case of them repressing the memories of their experiences because of the pain and anguish they went through. In which case, if we can remove the block that is inhibiting their minds, then it is entirely possible that they could be restored to the way they were before they were tortured by the Lestranges."
"And you think the Phoenix stone that you created for Remus can cure them?"
Harry shook his head. "Not that one, no." he explained. "That one has taken away as much darkness as it can hold. I'd have to make another one, probably around the same size I suppose, for each of them. The only problem with creating two more stones of that size is that it really tires me out when I'm in Phoenix form. Donating tears is nothing for a Phoenix, but their blood is a lot more potent and has a draining effect if the phoenix loses any. After Kat had taken the blood from me for the two small stones in Hermione's and Ron's pendants, and also for Remus' stone, I must've slept twenty-four hours straight."
"And may I ask why you think that the Longbottom's can be saved, when all the medical professionals at St Mungo's believe that nothing more can be done for them?"
Harry shrugged slightly. "I don't know really." he said. "But I guess it doesn't hurt to live in hope. When I saw them with Neville that time we were visiting Ron's father in the hospital, they still showed love towards him, like when his mum gave him that bubble-gum wrapper. It wasn't much, but since I've become more used to how Phoenix work, I've realised that it is that sort of emotion that the magic responds the best to. If there is any hope for saving anyone subjected to Voldemort's reign on terror, then it is those two."
Dumbledore smiled his warm smile again, causing his winkled face to light up to match the proud twinkle in his eye. "Your time away has indeed been most prolific to you." he said, before his customary twinkle diminished into something more serious. "You have matured into a fine young man, Harry," he said. "I just regret the fact that you didn't have to have this burden placed on you at such a young age."
Harry stopped outside the doors of the Great Hall and placed his hand on the elderly headmaster's robes, mentally noting the thinness of the man's frame underneath his substantial blue robes. "I don't." he said, and at the headmaster's questioning look continued. "I don't regret it at all." he explained further. "The prophecy is part of who I am. As is Pyro, and my skills with a sword, and my ability to control the elements. I have spent a long time thinking of different ways of how to do this, and have come to realise that the majority of them will end in the inevitable..." he smiled wryly. "It'll be worth it though." he said. "I'd do anything to make sure that Voldemort doesn't have the chance to hurt anyone I love ever again."
He briefly made eye contact with the headmaster before smiling weakly at the tears in the man's eyes and turning to push open the large double doors, blinking in surprise at the sudden cacophony of excitable and angry noise that hit him as he entered.
The usual dignity of the Great Hall was broken by the circle of Marcello and Hogwarts students surrounding an area just to the left of the entrance, between the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables. The teachers were hurriedly making their way down the main aisle of the hall to stand with Harry and the Headmaster as they looked with shock at the chaos that graced their vision.
"What is going on?" Dumbledore asked, as Remus and Snape joined them, the other professors close behind.
"Malfoy has just appeared in the hall." Snape replied brusquely. "It must have been a portkey."
"Lucius Malfoy?" Harry asked, though he already knew the answer.
Remus shook his head. "No," he said. "Draco."
Harry's head turned to the noisy congregation, and Dumbledore pulled out his wand to shoot sparks into the air in an attempt to calm everyone down. He quickly assessed the situation then transformed into his wolf-animagus form, leaping onto the Ravenclaw table and making his way agilely between the half empty plates of food until he became level with where he felt the epicentre of the circle to be.
He heard the headmaster call for attention again, this time using a Sonorous charm to amplify his voice. Harry gathered his hind legs underneath him and leapt into the throng of people, using the heads and shoulders of the now still crowd as further push-off points before leaping to floor and transforming. He pressed his way through the final circle of students, comprising mostly of those from Marcello and various Gryffindors he noted, and finally came to a stop in front of the dishevelled image of Draco Malfoy.
Harry took one glance to realise that the characteristically proud and meticulous Slytherin had been through a lot. His white-blonde hair was unnaturally dirty and dishevelled, his clothes were torn and the bottom end of the material was covered in mud. Taking in the glistening sheen of the boy's pale face, Harry came to the conclusion that his former foe had run long and hard to get to Hogwarts.
"Harry, get away from him! He's dangerous!"
Harry turned to where Ron was standing in the ring of students, being forcefully held back by Brandon and Conway. Hermione, Ginny and the other Gryffindors were being a little more restrained, though they all had their wands out and pointed to the boy that had disappeared from the school to join with the Dark Lord a fortnight before. A number of the Marcello students also had their weapons drawn, though all were looking significantly calmer than those from Hogwarts.
Harry turned back to where the Slytherin stood, noting the normally proud boy's attempt to stand tall, though he was obviously in pain. "Hear him out." he said to his side, aware that the professors pushing their way through the crows of DA members behind him. He turned to the weary Slytherin. "What brings you back here, Malfoy?"
The banished Hogwarts' student raised his head higher, and spoke with all the dignity of his former self that he could muster
"I spoke with my father," he said, though is voice contained a slight crack, as if he had been shouting loudly and for a long time. His grey eyes flickered to where he knew the sword lay invisible against Harry's back. "He says that he looks forward to duelling with you someday."
Harry glanced to where Horus stood with Sheridan and Todd. They had already discussed the possibility of his Dance being used against someone from the Malfoy family, as well as Avery and the Lestranges, all of whom Harry was pretty certain had some previous experience with a sword.
Harry took a step forward, closing the distance between him and the Slytherin. "I'm sure you didn't come all this way to deliver such a meagre message, Malfoy. Why are you really here?"
Malfoy looked around at the sea of faces around him and took a deep breath. "Last night I was called before the Dark Lord for the final stage of my initiation. He was worried that Hogwarts had been a bad influence on my loyalty and so wanted to test me prior to being marked."
"And…?" Harry asked. He could see something strange flash in the boys' eyes when they looked up at him. Harry stepped forward again as he recognised that it wasn't a rare emotion, just one that was simply foreign to the Slytherin's face.
Malfoy blanked his expression again, but not before Harry had seen the determination and vulnerability darken the greyness of his eyes before he spoke. "I failed." He said simply.
"I don't believe it." Ron shouted, quickly backed by other shouts from the Gryffindor males and a couple of other members of the DA. "You've been sent here to trick Harry!"
"Ron!" Harry glared at his friend and turned back to Malfoy, who stared levelly at him.
"The test was too hard." Malfoy explained quietly, his face emotionless. "And I failed." He smiled, though it resembled more of a grimace. "You were right all along, Potter. There is more to life than pure blood and a family name. They were going to kill me." His eyes dropped. "My own father was going to kill me."
Harry took a final step forward. He was now standing face to face with his archenemy but stayed silent. Around them, the chattering dropped until all that could be heard was a gentle murmur of voices and the slight hiss of whispers. Harry felt the presence of the Hogwarts' professors behind him, but Malfoy seemed unperturbed at the amount of attention he was getting, and continued explaining things as if it were only he and Harry in the room.
"I had no where else to go." Malfoy looked up again at Harry. "This was the only other place I've ever felt safe. This is the only place where people have tried to encourage me to be myself, and not just another Malfoy. I realise that now. And I realise just what type a person my father really was…" he shook his head. "I don't want to be like him."
"What was the test?" Harry asked quietly and winced as a wave of pain crossed the young man's face.
"There was a traitor in his circle." He replied in an equally quiet voice, though it was broken with heartfelt emotion. "She had gone against the Dark Lord's wishes and had tried to escape to see one of her many lovers. They wanted me to teach her a lesson, Cruciatus, for liasing with others outside the Death Eater group. Then I was to kill her." Harry watched as his eyes filled up with tears. "I couldn't kill my own mother."
A gasp went around the student body and Harry sensed Snape take a step forward behind him, but before the potions master had joined them, Harry's attention was once more drawn to the silver-haired Slytherin who had looked up to meet Harry's gaze. "I guess this is very Slytherin of me." he admitted. "But I realise that there is a lot more for me here than there ever would be if I were to join You-Know-Who. A chance to love and care about someone, anyone, is the most obvious I suppose."
Draco dropped slowly to one knee, wincing slightly as his knee contacted the hard, stone ground. He made the effort to keep his head held high and met Harry's confused stare calmly with an element of hope in his expression.
"I ask that you let me back into Hogwarts." he said. "I request the chance to stand beside you in this fight. I was blinded by my father's teachings, but now… I wish for you to give me the chance to prove myself to you. To let me fight alongside you."
Harry stared at the boy kneeling before him. He could see a dark stain of blood seeping through the cloth covering the boy's shoulder, and knew how much effort it had taken for Draco, a Malfoy, to kneel down before a Potter and pledge his allegiance.
"Did you tell Voldemort anything of what I told you in the corridor that day?" He asked softly.
Draco looked him in the eye and shook his head. "Only that you had been to Marcello, and that you had mastered some basic skills such as Animagi and apparation. He went on to assume that you had not been there long enough to learn anything substantial, and I felt it to be beneficial to myself to have some information held back should things turned sour once I received the Dark Mark."
Harry sighed and made a quick decision before dropping to his own knee, one hand resting lightly on Draco's injured shoulder.
Draco cocked his head in confusion as Harry smiled at him softly. "I will look out for you." Harry promised him. "All I said in the corridor that day was true. And I don't go back on my words."
Draco snorted out a breath of air through his nose, and shook his head. "You really don't get the whole honour thing, do you, Potter?" he said, though his voice lacked its usual malicious tone.
Harry's smile grew wider. "At times I think I understand it a lot more than you do." he replied. "Honour is something that is earned. Not something that comes with a name."
As the Slytherin thought about his words, Harry focused some of his energy into the hand that covered Malfoy's wound and gently increased the heat radiating from it. He knew that the warmth from his hand would take away some of the tension away from the boy's shoulders. "Welcome home, Draco." He said quietly.
A/N - I hope you'll forgive me for not listing the masses of reviews I have had since I last updated - I hope that you all know how much I appreciate all your reviews, and that I have made every effort to reply to those who have provided addresses and had queries. Feel free to email me if you have any further questions - remember to put "fanfic" as the heading. Hope you enjoy the ending! Kit. xxx