The Contract

Chapter 70

Harry was on cloud nine this morning, positively delirious over the outcome of the trials. Corvus had been a little worried about him after his 'disownment' of Bellatrix Lestrange from the Black family tree. Harry had been quick to reassure him that he was just fine, refraining from adding it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. He did say that it was good now, that Rodolphus could find someone he loved and be happy. That he wouldn't have to deal with Bellatrix's insanity anymore, that none of them would.

From the things he'd heard…Harry honestly didn't want to be anywhere near someone like that. It made him shudder, it was bad enough having to deal with Vernon and Dudley's moods…when he could predict them a little. He realized he wouldn't with Bellatrix at all. Someone that insane? There was no predicting them. With magic too? No, there was no way he wanted to be near her.

Now he didn't, she was gone, Rodolphus was free to find someone he really cared about. Who would care about him in turn, maybe someone who would want a baby, a grandchild that Corvus wanted so desperately.

Naturally unaware that he would be the one to gift Corvus as such, blood or not.

"Hey, Harry! Wait up!" Vincent hollered as he noticed Harry all but prancing down the stairs. "What's gotten into him? I don't think I've ever seen him that excited." Or displaying that amount of emotion come to that. Harry was really rather reserved, just like the rest of them really.

"It's obvious," Blaise rolled his eyes, "His betrothed has been proven innocent." He added, drolly. Speaking to low for anyone to overhear them, and there were no portraits around this area so they wouldn't be overheard.

"Huh, yeah, I suppose," Vincent conceded, he'd been told it was all just to help the brothers…but it seemed it was more than that now judging by the way Harry was reacting to the news. He'd need to watch more closely, it seemed. Was a marriage really on the cards between Rabastan and Harry? Not that he'd be surprised, all the old families did things this way, plus, he wouldn't find a better match anywhere in the British Isles now, everyone else of good standing was already betrothed…admittedly it didn't mean they'd go on to marry them, but they were still betrothed.

"Come on," Greg muttered, shoving Vincent in the direction Harry was waiting on them. "Get a move on!"

"You're normally up way before this, long night?" Vincent asked innocently.

"Sort of, I was up speaking to my guardian for nearly two hours," Harry admitted, aware of the people all around him. At least he wasn't looking over his shoulders every few minutes just waiting for Ginny to pop out on him.

"Do none of your room mates ask about it?" Draco questioned in surprise, "Goldstein is alright but Michael Conner is a menace."

Harry shrugged, "I use silencing spells, and my guardian taught me the spell to keep my curtains closed so I cannot have my privacy impeded upon." He admitted, originally it had been to prevent anyone accidentally seeing his scars, he still had a few but they weren't as obvious. "He isn't too bad; he knows when to give up."

Daphne grinned showing rows of straight teeth, "How did you manage that?"

"I just gave him that look," Harry said grinning, recalling Corvus doing the same thing to the guards. "I don't have it perfected yet, but I'll get there."

"I hate when my father makes that look," Draco groaned dramatically, knowing what Harry was talking about. Unfortunately, when he tried…it just didn't have the same effect. Telling them that he would be telling his father seemed to work though. Much to his amusement…he wondered how long it would take for them to realize his father actually knew nothing.

Harry laughed, "It's probably the only thing that gets through to you," he teased, "Come on…I want to see everyone's reaction to the newspapers."

"Why we all know the outcome," Draco said smugly, he hadn't even waited ten minutes before he blurted out the news. It was just too good to keep quiet.

"How many actually believe you though?" Harry said dryly, giving Draco a look that conveyed 'yes I know what you've done' despite returning straight to Ravenclaw common room immediately following the feast. There was no logical way anyone could know yet at Hogwarts, and Draco knew better than to mention how he came across the information. So, he would have bragged he knew without telling them how.

Draco pouted; it was barely there but Harry could read his friends very well. Just like he could read Corvus and everyone else around him. It was a gift he'd continued to hone despite it not being required every minute of the day to read people's faces to gauge their emotional state. It had been a survival tool that he'd used at the Dursleys. Now it just came in handy for a very different reason these days.

"Nobody believes he actually knows," Daphne chuckled wryly, "But most of us have parents that suspected the outcome." The house of Greengrass were no longer neutral, of that much everyone can be certain. So much had changed…and the words of the Dark Lord had most definitely had an impact.

"I'm starving," Harry admitted, as they made their way to the Great Hall.

"Should have eaten more yesterday then," Vincent pointed out, "I tried to get you to eat." Often Harry needed reminded to eat, they'd all been told that from the moment Harry stepped foot in Hogwarts.

"I know," Harry said rolling his eyes, only getting away with it because Corvus wasn't there. He'd been too anxious to eat, despite having great faith in the outcome of the trial. After all a few hours into the train journey the verdict of not guilty had come through for Rodolphus and hours later Rabastan. Then his anxiety had turned into actually feeling sick – a hungry sick – not used to going without so he'd decided to forego dinner. He had eaten the fruit he'd packed away for his lunch – something light – while writing to Corvus.

There was no asking if Harry was sitting with them, he did most of the time anyway. Sure, there were a few times he'd sit and eat with the Ravenclaw's but it was a very rare sight indeed. It was too bad his thirst for knowledge had far outweighed his cunning…otherwise he would have ended up in the house of the snakes.

"I wonder what our timetable will be like his year, I hope we don't have potions in the morning…" Vincent said as he sat down, he took forever to wake up properly. Potions wasn't the ideal class for him first thing in the morning. "I never thought I'd say this but I sort of miss Binns…it was the perfect class for first thing in the morning." The new professor certainly didn't let you nap in their class.

"No, you don't," they snorted simultaneously.

"No, not really," Vincent laughed, as he began piling food on his plate.

Harry didn't take a lot of greasy – admittedly it wasn't as greasy as Dumbledore allowed – food. He took two slices of toast and more than a generous helping of fruit salad to eat.

"Here you are, Mr. Potter!" Filius said, handing over his folder, which contained the usual things, more importantly his timetable, and confirmed allowance to go into Hogsmeade having verified the signature, which was absent from the folder itself.

"Thanks Professor Flitwick," Harry said smiling at the diminutive teacher. "Oh, look, we have charms first thing!"

"You're welcome," Filius said, already walking towards the Ravenclaw table and beginning to hand out files to each and every student waiting patiently for information regarding their course work.

"Is it with Slytherins?" Draco asked peering at Harry's timetable, "Our potions was with you guys last year…we might end up with the Gryffindors this year." He admitted with distaste. "I wish the Hufflepuff's were always partnered with the Gryffindors they're so annoying."

"They are disruptive," Harry agreed, "They have been rather subdued though," he admittedly, glancing over at the aforementioned table. There was a section left open, presumably for Ronald Weasley.

"Except for Granger, who is her usual self," Draco snorted derisively, "Lording over everyone…honestly its embarrassing." Shaking his head.

"They're the only ones that will listen to her, until they realize just how annoying she is," Pansy said, watching Hermione be goggle eyes over the first year Gryffindors, while the second years – her year as a matter of fact due to the fact she was kept behind a year after the whole Troll thing – tried their best to ignore her. The third years themselves were just glad she wasn't next to them. A few months had been more than enough for them, and shamefully had been rather glad she had been incapacitated during Halloween. Although, to be fair, they hadn't realized how bad it was…and the shame came later when they realized it wasn't just a simple few day's in the hospital wing and a few potions later good as new.

"It's not easy making friends," Harry said, watching the scene as well, he'd been very lucky. Corvus had introduced him to people who wouldn't overwhelm him. Who had similar intelligence (Draco and Daphne) the rest had come after he started school. "I don't think she knows how to either."

"We wouldn't know, I mean we've all been friends since childhood…" Daphne gestured for all of them, "Except Tracey, who I befriended on the train." She was very outgoing when she wasn't around her parents.

"Our parents made sure we were adequately socialised." Draco agreed, nodding, "Although, it was mostly Vincent and Greg I played with as a child, sometimes Theodore and Blaise." Although, not as often since Blaise had spent a great deal of his childhood in Italy, with his father's remaining family.

Harry nodded, putting the folder he'd received from his Head of House into his bag for later. He didn't want to get them covered in greasy food – or rather butter really – since that's all he had. After the first bite, he began to eat in earnest.

"Have you heard that Flint has been taken on by Master Carrow?" Harry's ears perked up when he heard that name.

"The Runes Master?" Harry asked, startling them all.

"Yeah, he's planning on moving to France to be closer to him, I never thought that would be the career he'd choose." Aiden Pucey confessed. "How did you know about him? I don't think anyone would have thought to mention him?"

Harry just smirked, green eyes gleaming, and didn't answer. Rabastan was still taking a long-distance Rune Mastery from him. He still had been right up until he was freed…he knew Rabastan would be in Africa for a good while recovering so it would likely continue. "How long can it take to complete an Ancient Runes Mastery? Four to six years?"

"That's if you do it part-time," Derrick stated, "Normally It takes about three full time, although it depends on how long it takes you to officially complete it. Runes isn't an easy one to pass, you need to completely create something new to be considered a Master."

"And it's not all that easy to create your own runes," admitted another, "I tried once, just to see, because I was actually considering a career in Ancient Runes but that quickly changed my mind."

"My ears are burning, talking about me?" Flint said, sliding into his seat, giving his fellow Slytherin's a bemused look. Honestly, he'd only received the confirmation this morning and now all the Slytherins knew?

"What do you plan on doing instead then?" Harry asked curiously.

"I've absolutely no clue," the sixth year answered, "Either an Auror or healer…I'll have to wait and see what my grades are like…they're both rather difficult to get into because of the grade requirements. What about you?" he asked, speaking over three students, as he ate and spoke to Harry.

"I want to be a lawyer," Harry told them without pause, and it was true. While he had interests elsewhere, they would always remain hobbies. He wanted to be a lawyer, he wanted to be like Antonio.

"Somehow…that doesn't surprise me," Flint nodded, "You best keep your focus on…"

"I know," Harry grinned, "I've already picked the correct subjects," he and Corvus had sit and discussed what classes he had to take if he wanted to be a lawyer. Then decided on what other subjects he'd like to take. It had been a lot of fun, having Corvus explain everything so he knew what all the subjects were about…and then there was the pamphlets so that he could read for himself. It hadn't been a bad way to spend his Sunday.

"I've told you before, you should go for something in Entomology." His friend said in amusement, "He's always liked bugs," he told Harry clearly grossed out, referring to Aiden Pucey.

"That really isn't a career, it's a hobby!" Aiden protested.

"It can be a career, how about forensic entomology? You'd be helping the Aurors investigate crime scenes…" Harry pointed out.

Aiden blinked, "I hadn't really thought of that," he confessed, a thoughtful look on his face. Surely his parents couldn't complain if it was an actual career? Forensic entomology, he would need to look that up… "I wonder if they have any books available to read in the library on the subject…" glancing at his half-eaten breakfast, trying to make up his mind on whether he wanted to continue his breakfast or go to the library.

While he was doing so, the beat of the owls reached their ears.

The others all glanced up out of sheer habit, excitement almost getting the better of them. However, nothing in their demeanour gave away any sort of happiness. Their masks – which they had been taught since childhood – much too good to break, not for a thing like this.

Especially not when they already knew the outcome,

Harry didn't bother buying a copy for his own, it was such a waste of money. Not when he was always with someone who got a copy. Corvus got one, so he read that copy when he was done, and of course, most of the Slytherins bought copies of their own.

"Huh, didn't' expect Antonio to write out the outcome so quick," Harry said, accepting the missive from Lord Abbott. It was definitely him, the owl was very familiar, one Antonio used for work, he had another for family though. The first time he got something from Antonio he had seen Hannah giving him a curious look, but she'd never asked him anything.

"Does he write it himself or it is just a copy of everything that happened?" Draco asked, familiar with the owl and Lord Abbott. His own father uses him when there was such a need. He wasn't the best for nothing.

"Both, one doesn't give you a point of view or people's reactions," Harry shrugged, and then Harry felt goosebumps crawling all over him, as the entire hall went silent, gravely silent. He felt as every single person in the hall was looking at him.

When he looked up his thoughts were confirmed. His heart sank…had someone found out who he was betrothed to? Not that he really minded but it would make things a little difficult at school for a bit.

Then he noticed that every single Slytherin was hiding their copies of the newspaper.

"Give it to me, Draco," Harry demanded, his voice booking no arguments.

"I think we should head to the dorm…" Draco said, his tone cautious. He'd been warned by his father not to antagonise Harry when he was allowed to visit at Lestrange manor. That was before he got to know Harry himself, and he liked him very much. The fact he didn't just agree with him and never felt threatened by his comments about his father. By the end of the summer he'd been fast friends with him.

"Give it to me," Harry said, hand witching as if he was going to unsheathe his wand from his wand holster.

Draco sighed reluctantly as everyone began whispering, and handed the paper over. It was either that or Harry summoned one of them and found out anyway.

Had someone intercepted the journal and lied to him? He knew it couldn't be true, he knew he was talking to Corvus…he'd know if it was someone else. No, the news had to be about him…but what on earth could it be? Flipping it over, he stared at the title and swallowed thickly paling drastically.

This couldn't be happening, it had to be a nightmare…this…this was the last thing he'd ever wanted. He'd refused to press changes the last time the Daily Prophet blatantly published something that was full of lies.

Recalling that and the title on the newspaper made Harry see red, his entire body began to thrum with magical energy. His fellow third years began to scramble off their bench, watching Harry cautiously. As if he was a ticking bomb ready to explode.

"Oh, relax, accidental magic can't happen in Hogwarts," Hermione called out to the scrambling students. "It says so in Hogwarts a history." Not even the slightest bit concerned as they raised her goblet to her lips.

Which turned out to be a big, big mistake.

Sharp and shrill screams immediately roared to life as Harry's magic exploded from him violently. Each and every single goblet (and jug) in the room and its liquid exploded violently, the liquid gushing noisily over the table causing more screams as they were soaked in Pumpkin juice, orange juice and coffee (thankfully not scaldingly so).

Harry was visibly shaking with rage, his green eyes glowing almost to the point they looked like they were actually glowing magically.

"Severus escort Ms. Granger to the Hospital wing," Headmaster Slytherin stated as he swooped down towards the Slytherin table. Taking control of the situation, and getting Harry out there fast. "Has anyone else been injured?" looking around the room, clasping Harry's shoulders squeezing them tightly, but not enough to hurt, just ground. Wrapping his own magic around Harry's fluxing magic to keep it contained. To stop him revealing just how powerful he was.

"Let's go Granger," Severus sighed, gesturing for the second year to leave the Great Hall. Watching over Harry and Lord Slytherin cautiously, as the teen was led out of the room. He seemed perfectly comfortable having Lord Slytherin help him. He did not like people touching him, as far as he'd observed and he understood why.

"He'd broke my teef! My cheek," Hermione gargled out through a mouthful of blood, "It isn't possible to do accidental magic at Hogwarts!" she felt the need to state despite her obvious pain, wincing at the feel of a portion of the goblet imbedded near her eye.

"To class!" Headmaster Slytherin called to the students the moment he was at the Great Hall doors with the teen. "On you go!" the wizard didn't wait around to see if he'd be listened to.

To absolutely nobody's surprise, the Slytherin's moved first, with Kashaf Tahir and Leoran Vizner bringing up the rear along with Marcus Flint.

"Kayleigh Brown, Kathryn Holley help the first years get to their class," Flint barked at the half-blood students, having to use their full name due to the fact there were three Kayleigh's and two Kathryn's in Slytherin altogether, and he didn't use last names with his fellow Slytherins after getting permission to use them. "Tracey, Afke Deen, help them." Afke had been named after her grandmother who had emigrated to Britain after the betrothal had gone well with her and her grandpa. She was a Charms mistress and had written dozens of books and invented even more spells, in certain circles she was very well respected still. Including by her Charms professor Flitwick. Afke definitely wished to follow in her footsteps.

Tracey sighed, excused herself from Daphne and made her way towards the first years. Between the three of them, they escorted the first years to their class, pointing out classes along the way helping them as other Slytherins had helped them when they were first years.

It prevented any house point loss and a whole lot of bullying that first year Slytherins go through. Especially by Gryffindors, they were the worst for bullying their house students…and they got so confused and hurt by it.

The worry for their honorary house mate was weighing on them too.

A lot of them had no idea what's what had been wrong with Harry. They'd assumed – pretty much like the rest of Hogwarts – that it had been some sort or illness before he started. Harry had never spoken about it, and nobody surprisingly had been inclined to ask.

"Why would anyone want to hurt him?" asked a first year innocently, none of the depraved words written in the Daily Prophet having touched her yet.

"I…don't know," Kathryn admitted.

"Because Muggles are no better than beasts," Kayleigh insisted seriously. "Now go on, go to class." Waiting until they'd entered before the four third year Slytherins headed of at a brisk pace to get to their own classes.

They'd return to escort them to their next class for the first week, teach them a few defensive spells and then just keep watch on them as best they can.

Tom led Harry through to a small room adjacent to the Headmaster's office. It had once been spelled invisible, but he'd dismantled all of Dumbledore's spells. Inside of it was momentarily empty, before he flicked his wand a few times and there was pottery floating in mid-air.

"Go on, have at them," Tom told him, at least this way he had a productive way to let go. The beauty of this room…it also had a secret fireplace, which wasn't connected to Hogwarts system. Which meant there was absolutely no record of any coming and goings.

There were also no portraits inside of here, which meant anything said or done…would remain private.

Tom flew the Floo powder into the fireplace, popped his head inside, spoke for a few seconds before he returned. The sound of breaking china alerted him to the fact Harry was expelling his rage in an appropriate manner.

It didn't take longer than a few minutes for Corvus to emerge through the open connection. Which flickered and died after his entrance. He took one glance at Harry before becoming even more stern faced.

"Millicent keeps her records secure and under the Fidelius Charm, and she cannot reveal any information. Black signed an NDA so it could not have been him. Filius is also under an NDA which prevent him from even discussing anything remotely concerning. Elmer Eddison is also under the same stipulation. He isn't even in Britain at the moment to be in contact with Skeeter." Corvus stated in a clipped manner. "You nor I would hardly fail to put up the necessary measures if we did discuss it…I have no idea how Rita Skeeter got her information." Anger blazing in his eyes, Harry had been so vehemently opposed to the information being released. He had never wanted anyone to see him as weak.

There was nothing weak about Harry for surviving.

The boys were frothing at the mouth, but too weak to do anything let alone enact revenge. They hadn't used magic in twelve years, it would take just as long as their physical recovery. The next few months were going to be extremely frustrating for the boys.

He would promise them their revenge, but he doubted very much that Rita Skeeter will be alive come morning.

Too many people – himself included – were braying for her blood for daring to mention a Lord in the newspapers that way.

"You're thinking Dumbledore has something to do with it," Voldemort deduced, "I do as well." He admitted darkly, but the fact he didn't know for sure did not sit well with him at all.

Then the room went silent, as Harry stopped destroying the china, his shoulders hunched.

Only then the sound of the Headmaster's door being knocked alerted him that he was required elsewhere.

"Excuse me," Voldemort said stalking out, giving Corvus and Harry privacy. He wasn't good at the comfort thing; he'd probably just make things worse. Guaranteed Harry wouldn't open up as much if he was there. While he'd always protect Harry, he was by no means a wizard that would comfort another.

"Grangers being healed up, by apprenticed Healer Chen," he'd never say Kit Chen not in a million years. Honestly, what were her parents thinking calling her that? It was almost as bad as calling him Severus Snape. Admittedly, his names didn't go together to form a place in ones house thankfully. Small mercies. "She's demanding your presence." A bitterly amused look on his face, if only she knew whom she was demanding she'd think again.

Oh, he knew whom it was, but the Dark Lord had not once acknowledged him. He wasn't quite sure why he was still alive…but each day was like treading on egg shells, less so now than a year ago.

Headmaster Slytherin arched a brow, "Demanding, is she?" he asked smoothly.

"Indeed," Severus answered wryly. "Quite insistently, I wouldn't be surprised if she's entirely desiring to inform you that accidental magic isn't possible under Hogwarts wards." His tone dryer than the Sahara Desert.

Naturally, he couldn't have been more wrong, for Hermione Granger…actually wanted to press charges against Harry for assault.

"Very well, I'll be down when I have a moment," Voldemort declared giving a nod, "Do not bother informing her, she can work it out on her own." He was not going to cater to the whims of the girl. Especially if it was just to complain about how Hogwarts wasn't supposed to be possible within Hogwarts wards. He'd really rather not have his time wasted.

He had much more important things to deal with.

Including finding out who the hell had gotten their hands-on sensitive information…to prevent the leak happening again.

He couldn't risk Skeeter knowing additional information.

"Harry?" Corvus stepped forward, quite frankly not sure how to go about approaching the teen for the first time. He'd never seen him quite like this since the first day he met him. He had no idea about his state of mind…was he even with him or somewhere in his dark horrible past with those filthy muggles? He tentatively pressed a hand on his shoulder, to turn him around. "Harry?"

"I'm sorry," Harry whispered, his anger gone leaving him feeling hollow.

"Why are you sorry?" Corvus asked, there was no way Harry was responsible for the revelation…surely? He was not easily duped and he loathed talking about it…he didn't want to insult Harry by asking a very obvious question.

"You said anything to with me would reflect badly on you…I'm sorry," Harry said.

"This does not reflect badly on you let alone the Lestrange name," Corvus stated curtly, which was nearly shouting for him. "This isn't a weakness, Harry, you survived unimaginable circumstances and did so with empathy, compassion and determination. You are a survivor, anyone that tries to make you feel otherwise will pay very dearly for it." Pulling him close, tightening his arms around him.

Harry's spine straightened as if just these few sentences could rejuvenate his entire being. Shut off the doubts he was having, shut off the imagination that was probably running wildly. Assuming the worst despite knowing the contrary would happen.

"Why would Dumbledore release that information when it would come back on him?" Harry asked, craning his neck and looking up, still in Corvus' hold. Not something he wanted to end too soon. It didn't happen all that often. "It wasn't him was it?"

"We do not know," Corvus admitted, which pained him. "I fear you may be right." There was potentially now another person with an angle not known to them making moves in a three-tier chess set. Tom, Dumbledore and this unknown. Someone who must have quite the resources if he found out all the information he'd just read in the Daily Prophet. It did sound like Dumbledore, but like Harry said, he wouldn't shove himself on his own sword like that.

"Either that or Dumbledore himself realizes there's no going back and is willing to take a hit in order to do some damage to someone he desperately wants to control." Voldemort informed them as he re-entered the room.

"It's possible," Corvus admitted grudgingly, "But something doesn't quite sit right with it."

Voldemort nodded just the once, it was nearly as entirely focused on Dumbledore knowing about the abuse just as much as the abuse Harry had suffered. He had to get to Skeeters source before the Aurors did. Which meant acting fast, luckily, they weren't to know Harry had not demanded the information released. Unless, someone from Dumbledore's little group had betrayed him?

"Could Skeeter be her own informant?" Harry asked, his hands clenched at his sides, the desire to get violent almost overwhelming him. He hadn't ever heard of her; he didn't have a clue to whom she was. Her name had been under the title from what he'd seen of the article. He didn't know how she could have gotten her information.

"There's no way a reporter would have gotten their hands on this information. Its private information that only a few are privy to and they are unable to speak of it. Unless there is someone else, we are entirely overlooking." Corvus said, squeezing his shoulder and letting him go. "Nevertheless, we do need to find out." Sharing a look with Tom. "Both Rabastan and Rodolphus are furious enough to desire to sneak out and attempt some vigilante justice themselves."

Harry perked up, "How are they?" his mood shifting entirely, his fondness for them written across his face. He didn't even seem to care about what Corvus had just implied, if anything it just made him look even happier.

"Glad to be home," Corvus said softly, he owed Harry more than he'd ever be able to repay. From unwittingly giving Tom the stone…to giving him back his sons by using the very law which should have condemned them. "They're both looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, you understand that they'll both be very exhausted? Just like you were the first few times you visited them?" making it clear here and now that the boys weren't going to be full of energy and might not wish to speak much. "And there may be turbulent moments while they adjust to life outside of Azkaban and emotions."

Harry nodded, he understood that things would be difficult. However, he was just so excited and happy that they still wanted to see him. Corvus wouldn't lie to him, he'd made it clear that was the one thing he never wanted happening…even made it a clause in the contract too. Admittedly its only for when they were on the island which was not the case anymore. "Yes, I understand," Harry added belatedly, knowing how much Corvus detested people nodding and shaking their heads, finding it lazy.

"We'll be dealing with it tonight," Voldemort returned yet again, eyes gleaming, the use of the time-tuner would enable them all to be seen and interacted with elsewhere. Giving them an airtight alibi should anyone point at them. Which would be unlikely, only Dumbledore and Harry were mentioned…and since Harry wasn't going to be there…well, he wouldn't be 'missing' time or unaccounted for. "As for you, Mr. Potter…perhaps it's best to stay in Slytherin common room passed curfew this evening."

"Okay," Harry agreed without asking for the details, he reckoned he had a good idea what was about to go down tonight.

"You may have the rest of the day off; you can return to your home…or remain at Hogwarts…but you must be seen at dinner and then afterwards with others." Voldemort informed the teen. He would need to inform Corvus of Harry's little bout of anger and find out if anything like that had happened before.

Harry shook his head, entirely reluctant, he was getting the choice of the day off. Yet he wasn't taking it? Wasn't going to visit Rabastan and Rodolphus and see them at home? "I can't…I don't…I don't want them thinking I'm running away scared." Even though he was scared to the very bones of him. Yet he wasn't as scared as he had been earlier. He had his family standing tall behind him.

None of them were his blood, but he loved them nonetheless. Some more than others of course, but that was natural. With anchors such as Corvus, Rabastan, Rodolphus and Voldemort well, it was no surprise that he felt strong enough to take on the world. They would kill for him…it was more than he'd ever had before and he'd grip it tightly and never let go.

"Good, then you're excused from your first class, after that I expect you to attend the rest of your classes." Headmaster Slytherin stated, giving Harry a proud not. So very smug and proud that Harry refused to run away from his problems. In the end it would accomplish nothing.

The next morning when the mail was delivered, there was a gift from Rabastan but the card was only signed with 'R' but Harry knew.

Inside was a beautiful amber pendant that felt hot to touch.

And inside that pendant?

Was a beetle.

If one looked close enough, you'd see indents from glasses on the beetle inside of it.

His first betrothal gift, Harry was overjoyed. He was used to being the one to give the gifts, not receive them. He felt giddy, and giggled a little, oh, he'd never felt so happy. He would need to think of something to gift him with that showed this.

A/N – I sooo wish I could take credit for the idea, I really, really do, because it was an awesome one, so much so that I just had to use it :D *cackles!* so there we go! Another chapter of the contract done…maybe I should add slow burn to the summaries? I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea although truthfully once this bit of the plot is over we'll see another near year time skip :D soooo…will Harry find himself arrested for assaulting Hermione Granger? Will she demand money to keep from going to the Ministry? Will she begin making life uncomfortable for Harry? Will Harry be a suspect and questioned about it by the Aurors?

I added a lot of Hermione due to the fact some people seem to have forgotten (I know it's such a big story!) that i had Hermione held back a year so she's fourteen years old and only in her second year of Hogwarts! Will Ginny make a return? Due to it already been paid? Or will Muriel enforce a strict life for Ginny? That's if she survives because honestly? It could go either way, the flick of coin I don't really have anything in store for her except mentioned in the background…the only Weasley's that are going to be important is the older ones…As for Molly…the very same…it would just be background mentions and a life of misery *smirks* Ron did get an easy end this time around only because he hadn't done anything MUCH!

Oh, would you like to see Skeeter dealt with or just the discussion afterwards? R&R please!