Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, his friends, or his enemies.


68 Coming Together

Friday, Sep. 20

"So..." Harry said when the silence in the room had begun to get to him. "How is it that you arrived so timely to save the day?"

Shayell gave the Elf a bright smile. "I was visiting with a dear friend of mine when Lucius' letter reached me. Once I was made aware of how utterly out of control matters had become here at Hogwarts I immediately packed up my bags to come here.

"How could I possibly stay away? I have never been fond of Albus Dumbledore, the man is too much of a meddler for my taste, but I never in a million years would have thought that he would actually actively attempt to interfere with a Veela bond," Shayell said, shaking her head in wonder.

This was not like the Albus Dumbledore she knew at all. Albus had never been able to keep his beak out of other people's business, but for most parts he never openly interfered with matters like this. Dumbledore usually opted to use much more subtle ways of manipulations, using a person's conscience against them. No, Albus Dumbledore was not above using guilt and misguided honour to get his way.

But to openly threaten a Veela and their bonded? Especially when the Veela in questions was a Malfoy? That didn't sound like Albus Dumbledore at all.

"Your thoughts, gentlemen? What exactly have been going on at Hogwarts for Albus Dumbledore to act so out of character? And I am not thinking of the mood enhancer you boys fed him. From what I've been told, Dumbledore's odd behaviour began long before the deplorable events of this morning," Shayell stated before Silverwind's grandson could start apologising again.

Lucius and Severus shared a look, a volume of matters being passed back and forth, before Severus sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"It is my belief that Albus has become so used to meeting no resistance to his plots and plans that he is incapable of dealing with the fact that his Golden Boy no longer feels beholden to him," Severus began slowly, carefully considering what he wished to say, and how much he wanted to reveal to the visiting royal, not wanting to betray any of the things Harry had told them in confidence.

"And what happened to cause such a rift between Harry Potter and his mentor?" Shayell asked curiously. As queen of the Veela nation she made sure to be well informed of the events taking place in the wizarding world, and it was a well established fact that the Boy Who Lived was completely in Albus Dumbledore's pocket.

Clearly something monumental must have happened for the boy to break his ties to the Headmaster so completely.

Harry snorted when Dumbledore was described as his mentor. When he was younger he probably would have agreed to that description, but having spent a month with Lucius Malfoy, and to some lesser degree with Severus Snape, Harry was slowly beginning to realise what a mentor was, and Albus Dumbledore had never fulfilled that role in his life.

"You do not agree?" Shayell asked, arching an intrigued eyebrow.

"Dumbledore has never been my mentor," Harry said with conviction. "None of the professor here at Hogwarts has done anything to support me outside the classroom. Quite the opposite, actually," Harry mused, recalling the times he had gone to McGonagall for aid, never seeing the way Severus flinched at the accusation.

"As for what happened to cause such a rift between us..." Harry trailed off, staring off into space as he considered what to say, carefully weighing how much he should make known about the issues he had with the master meddler trying to rule his life.

Coming to a decision, Harry settled more comfortable in his seat and turned his full attention on the Veela queen. "It all began the night after the third task of the Triwizard tournament.

"Most think this is some resent rebellion I'm amusing myself with, but in reality it began that night. Or rather, the morning after that night," Harry admitted, noting with wry amusement that he had actually managed to surprise his three Slytherins with that admission.

"Mrs Weasley and her oldest son were allowed to stay with me in the hospital wing while I recovered from the after effects of being forced to participate in the rebirth of the Dark Lord.

"But once morning came, Mrs Weasley returned to her own family, taking Bill with her. I didn't really care since I still had my godfather with me, and I was just about to ask him to stay close to the Dursleys for a while so I could talk to him about stuff.

"But before I could even begin to work out how to ask him, Sirius informed me that he and Remus was going to head out and round up the old crowd, leaving me on my own before I could even get one word of protest out of my mouth," Harry all but snarled, forcing himself to take a moment to breathe deeply, not wanting to lose his temper now. He hadn't even begun to tell his story, for Merlin's sake.

"Anyway, Dumbledore sent me back to my relatives and all but imposed an information blackout, denying me any knowledge of what was going on in the magical world.

"I had thought that things would change once I was reunited with my friends and godfather, but I swiftly learned differently. Dumbledore had ordered his Order to not 'burden' me with such knowledge, so I continued to be in the dark about what the Dark Lord and his minions were up to," Harry said, unable to keep a sneer off his face.

"Then fifth year began, and from day one Umbridge was on my case, calling me a liar to my face, subjecting me to torture just because I had the gall to tell the truth and by doing that put 'dear' Cornelius in a bad spot." Harry snorted as he recalled the simpering manners of the bitch that had made his fifth year hell.

"I guess I could have handled matters better if I had had any support from the other teachers, but McGonagall merely told me to keep my head down and my mouth shut when I approached her for help. She didn't even listen long enough to learn why I was complaining about Umbridge," Harry snarled, once again being forced to take a pause to get his rising temper under control. He always felt ready to explode every time he thought about the things Umbridge had done, and on the things his other professors hadn't done.

"But that is nothing, nothing compared to the pain Dumbledore caused me. First, he avoids me the entire year, wouldn't even as much as look at me, causing me to think that he blamed me for Voldemort's return, why else would he suddenly refuse to acknowledge me?

"Then the mess at the Ministry happened, and it was then, the very night that Sirius died, that Dumbledore finally told me what it was all about. True, he apologised to me, but one tiny 'I'm sorry, my boy' does not heal over a year's worth of hurt.

"I guess that in time I would have forgiven him, but when I told him that the Dursleys had tried to kill me, he did nothing. In fact, I'm not even sure he believed me," Harry huffed, feeling his emotions stir once more.

"The final straw, at least for me, was when I found out that I am Draco's mate. Dumbledore all but told me to whore myself to the Malfoys, all so that Dumbledore could have another spy in the Dark Lord's camp. He didn't care for me at all. He didn't care about my thoughts or feelings. All he cared about was getting the Malfoys to spy for him, so no, I am not Dumbledore's Golden Boy anymore. I will leave the wizarding world all together before I willingly work with that man again."

"He actually told you to whore yourself?" Shayell asked incredulous, not believing her ears.

"He wasn't that crude, but Dumbledore made it very clear to me that I should use any means at my disposal to make sure that Malfoy turned away from the Dark Lord, since it would set Tom back considerably if he was to lose his right hand man," Harry said with a shrug, no longer as bothered by that demand as he was with other things the Headmaster had said and done.

"Lucius, you are to take your son and his mate as far away from this school as possible," Shayell commanded. Giving the blond a dark look she added, "In fact, you can begin by explaining to me why you haven't already removed the boys from that infuriating man's influence.

"For that matter, why didn't you contact me immediately when you realised that a human was attempting to interfere with your son's bond?"

"Because they didn't know what Dumbledore had told me," Harry said, attempting to redirect the queen's ire away from the Malfoys. "Besides, things weren't that bad in the beginning," Harry added with a shrug.

"Nonetheless, this matter should have been brought before me the moment it became clear that Dumbledore would not leave the two of you alone," Shayell stated, not about to allow a slight against her people to slide.

"Your majesty, we did inform you the moment we realised just how far the Headmaster was willing to go to get his own way," Lucius said stiffly, infuriated that Shayell even dared to hint that he wasn't taking his responsibilities toward his son and his mate seriously.

"What I want to know is what you have done to punish these Dursleys who dared to attempt to kill one of my subjects," a soft voice said. The words might be softly spoken, but the fury behind them could be felt by everyone present in the room, causing the Elven guards to shift uneasily.

"The Dursleys?" Shayell echoed nonplussed, but then she recollected the words Harry had spoken so causally and she flew into a fury, rounding on the elder Malfoy, all but roaring, "WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED THAT SOMEONE HAS ATTEMPTED TO KILL THE BOY?"

Gritting his teeth, Lucius replied, "With all due respect, your majesty, but it has only been nineteen bloody days since Draco found out who his mate was." He then completely lost his temper and ended up roaring, "WHEN WAS I SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE TIME TO DEAL WITH WORTHLESS MUGGLES WHEN I HAD OTHER, MORE PRESSING, DETAILS TO ATTEND TO?"

Severus, fearing that the situation would spiral completely out of control, stepped up and placed a calming hand on the older Veela's shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

"My apologies, your majesty, but we simply haven't had the time," Lucius managed to say through gritted teeth, his hands clenching and unclenching into tight fists.

"I apologise as well," Shayell said with some difficulty, still within the grips of her fury. Not to mention that she hated apologising.

"Why don't we sit down again and you can tell us everything that has happened since the moment Draco identified his mate?" the cloaked figure said, projecting a calming aura, which helped immensely to calm the raging tempers.

"I quite agree," Severus swiftly said, steering his Veela towards the table, figuring some refreshments could only help keeping everyone's temper in check.

"Begging your pardon, sir, but who are you?" Draco asked, wrapping himself protectively around his mate, eyeing the cloaked figure with suspicion.

"My apologies, young Veela, how remiss of me. I am Silverwind, the King of the Elven realm, and that young one's grandfather," Silverwind said with a slight chuckle, pushing the hood of his cloak down before removing the cloak altogether.

"G-grandson?" Draco managed to croak before his legs gave out on him and he ended up in a heap on the floor. This was not how he had envisioned the meeting with the Elven king.

"Oh, my, that was unexpected, Silverwind commented with a chuckle, a mischievous glint dancing in his green eyes.

For a moment complete silence rang through the room, then Harry dropped to his knees pulling Draco close, eyeing the Elven king uneasily. Would he take Draco from him? Could he take Draco from him? Feeling his heart clench, Harry pulled the blond teen tighter against his chest. He would not give up what he had found with Draco, he refused.

Sensing the Elf's distress, Lucius sprang forward, placing himself protectively between the boys and the one who threatened their happiness, unaware that he was growling softly deep in his chest.

Severus rolled his eyes and stepped around the older Malfoy so that he could reach the younger one, figuring the situation would lessen somewhat if Draco was aware enough to help support his mate before he too suffered from a nervous meltdown.

Feeling his mate's distress rallied the blond teen like nothing else could and with a possessive growl Draco surged to his feet, wrapped his arms around his Elf and turned them around so that his back was to the others, adding his wings to more fully shelter his mate from those wanting him harm.

Relative or not, if the king wished to separate the two of them, then there would be hell to pay, because Draco had no intention of allowing anyone or anything to separate him from Harry. Not when the two of them had overcome so much already.

Silverwind couldn't help but chuckle when he saw the possessive gesture. Clearly a strong bond had already formed between the two of them, which was only of the good since Silvers tended to need a strong bond to prevent their magic from getting out of hand whenever emotions got high.

"Peace, my children, I have no intentions of separating you. That will only happen if I believe that there is a danger for either of you," Silverwind said, shaking his head when his words earned him twin glares. Ah, youths, they had so much to learn still.

Forcing himself out of his stupor, who would have thought that Harry Potter came from such noble blood? It couldn't be from the Potters or James would have told the entire world of his elven blood. Lily? But everyone thought her to be a Mudblood.

Shaking his head, Lucius summoned one of the house-elves from the Manor and asked, "Would you like some refreshments? It would seem we all have a story to tell and I know for a fact that our tale will take quite a while to disclose."

"I believe you are quite correct," Shayell said, eyeing the king thoughtfully. Not once had Silverwind hinted that the Elf her subject was courting was his grandson. Not sure if she should feel insulted or not, Shayell made her way to the table, requesting her favourite beverage and pastries.

HPDM

Sitting at the table, toying with a mug of hot cocoa, Harry kept shooting glances towards the Elven king. Wow, a grandfather. That was a development Harry hadn't foreseen. The teen was still uncertain whether he thought the relationship a good thing or not.

In his, admittedly, limited experience, relatives were not a good thing to have. Just look at the Dursleys and the way they had treated him for all of his life. Then again, Harry doubted very much that the Elf would treat him like a freak just because he had magic.

But grandson... How was that even possible? Did that mean that Lily had been an Elf too? But shouldn't someone have known if she'd been one? And if they'd known, then why hadn't anyone told him?

Sighing softly, Harry pushed such ponderings to the back of his mind. It was useless wondering why no one had ever told him anything. Most likely Dumbledore had some convoluted, utterly-logical-only-to-him, reason for keeping him in the dark. And considering the way Harry felt about the Headmaster these days, he wasn't about to ask the man for his reasons. Dumbledore simply didn't matter anymore.

Sitting back in his chair, Harry closed his eyes and allowed Lucius' voice to wash over him and soothe him. The adult Malfoy was telling the visiting royalties about everything that had taken place since the morning in the Great Hall when Draco had finally managed to locate just who his mate was.

Funny, but it doesn't feel like only three weeks to me. So much has happened that six months should be a much more accurate time span. Merlin, and to think that all I wanted this year was to find a way to get away from Ron and Hermione and to figure out what I wanted to do with my future.

I should have known that the Fates wouldn't leave me alone. When have I ever had a calm, orderly existence? Harry asked himself with a wry smile, leaning slightly into Draco's side when the blond wrapped a supporting arm around his shoulders. Feeling the other's tenseness, Harry figured Lucius was retelling something unpleasant, but he wasn't interested enough to tune in to the actual words. He had lived through that shit once, he didn't need to hear it again to remember how utterly crap his life was.

Stifling a sigh, Harry opened his eyes and regarded the Elven king with curious eyes. The king was tall, not that that was surprising. According to all the books Harry had read, Elves were a tall, regal looking people. The king fitted that description perfectly, and for a moment Harry pouted, knowing that due to the maltreatment he'd been subjected to as a child he would never achieve his proper height. Damn those Dursleys to the deepest hell.

For a moment Harry lost himself in his memories, his eyes glazing over as he felt extremely sorry for himself.

Sighing deeply, the Elf pushed the memories away and returned his attention on the king. Blushing slightly as he realised that startling green eyes were regarding him curiously.

That was one thing that connected the two of them. The king had the same jewel green eyes that Harry had. A shade of green that Harry had only ever seen in the mirror and in the photos of his mother. Making Silverwind's claim of grandfather/grandson that much more believable.

But other than the eyes, Harry couldn't see much likeness between himself and his... grandfather. The king's hair was the colour of moonbeams, and the shape of his face was totally different to Harry's as well. Although the ears were the same, but then again, how much difference was there to ears anyway?

But other than the eyes, Harry just couldn't see any family resemblance, and that bothered him a little. But it unsettled him more that he didn't know how the Elven king would react to his presence.

It seemed that the king was happy to see him, but what if it was only a ruse? The Dursleys had taken pride in the fact that he didn't look anything like them. Taking it as another proof that he was nothing a normal person would ever want to associate with willingly.

The wizarding world, on the other hand, had welcomed him with open arms. But that was only because he was the Boy Who Lived. None of them cared particularly about the boy who was just Harry.

The wizards had delighted in the fact that he looked so much like his parents. It was as if, to them, James and Lily Potter weren't really gone. They could see them living through their son. Was that why no one had cared overly much about the orphan? Only seeing the parents and never the boy when they looked at him?

Great, I'm thinking myself into a migraine! Harry groused, reaching up to rub at a pounding temple. He had so many questions but no real answers. And he had no one he could ask. At least no one who would give him an honest answer.

Sighing, Harry closed his eyes and slouched down in his seat so that he could rest more comfortably against Draco's shoulder. The blond immediately shifted to accommodate him, tightening the arm resting around his shoulders. Smiling, Harry allowed himself to relax. At least he wasn't alone anymore. No matter what happened with his supposed grandfather, he wouldn't be alone, because the Malfoys wouldn't leave him, that, Harry was abso-posi-you better believe it certain of.

HPDM

Silverwind found his attention divided between the tale the elder Malfoy was telling and observing his grandson.

The black hair was something of a surprise, since no Silver had ever been born with black hair, which, if you considered it, was somewhat strange since over half, if not all Silvers tended to be Dark Elves. All of them certainly had the temperament of a Dark Elf, something the court officials had bemoaned more than once after butting heads with them.

The boy has the Silver eyes, a certain indication that this is my grandson, and, if I'm not mistaken, the future king of the Elven realm. I wonder how his mate will react when he is told? For that matter, I wonder how my grandson will react when he learns of his destiny? Silverwind thought with an internal chuckle. Somehow, I have a feeling that the boy will react much the way my beloved daughter reacted. But who are we to argue with Magic herself?

Allowing his eyes to devour the young Elf sitting opposite to him, Silverwind had no difficulties picking out family traits in the child's features and posture. The slant of the eyes, the shape of the cheekbones, the stubborn jutting of the chin, and the fire banked in startling green eyes, just waiting to erupt along with the famous Silver temper, the signs were all there.

And from what his Seeker had observed, the Elf possessed the Silver stubborn conviction to do what they felt was right no matter what the cost to themselves. The very trait that had lost him Silversky. Silverwind could only hope and pray that he was not destined to lose his grandson the way he had lost his daughter.

Seeing the way the youth relaxed against his Veela mate, Silverwind felt his heart unclench. Maybe it was Magic whispering in his heart, but somehow the Elven king felt certain that the boys would be coming home with him.

Relaxing for the first time since he received the news of his grandson's attack, Silverwind allowed himself to hope that everything was going to end well.

HPDM

The more Shayell learned of the atrocities that Dumbledore had allowed to take place, the more furious she got until her magic was causing the air around her to crackle. How dared he? How dared he? A bond between a Veela and their mate was sacred, and nothing, nothing, was allowed to interfere with it.

Magic herself dictated who was destined to be a Veela's mate, since a mate was created to be the Veela's other half. Neither man nor creature had the right to interfere with Magic's choice.

A Veela, no matter how corny it might sound, was created for love. It was in love they found the strength, and the creativity, to perform their Veela magic. But only in true love.

It had been proven time and again through the Veela people long history that every single time a Veela bond was tampered with disaster always followed. It didn't matter if the ones tampering had good intentions or not, and from a Veela point of view, the tempering was never considered a good thing, misfortune always followed in the wake. Some of the biggest tragedies known to wizarding kind stemmed from a Veela bond that had been prevented from developing naturally.

Surely, someone as old and wise, well, supposedly wise, as Albus Dumbledore knew this? Or was the aged wizard so blinded by his proclaimed Greater Good that he had completely lost sight of what was important?

Or had Dumbledore come to enjoy playing god so much that he no longer could help but interfere with people's lives, whether they needed to be interfered with or not?

Shaking her head, Shayell pushed those thoughts out of her mind. Dumbledore's motives didn't matter because they weren't important. What was important was to ensure that Draco Malfoy was given the option to woe his mate without outside influences. Now, how were they going to ensure that the young Veela got that opportunity?

HPDM

Lucius was glad when he finally reached the end of his long tale. So much had happened, and in such a short time too. Lucius actually found it difficult to wrap his mind around just how many events that had transpired since that fateful morning when he accompanied Draco onto platform 9 ¾. Was it truly only two and a half week ago? Well, adding the time they had waited for Harry to wake up after he'd been hit with the Cruciatus curse it had been longer, but still...

So much had happened. No wonder they had barely had time to catch their breaths before the next calamity hit. The question was, Lucius mused, taking in the fury on the visiting royalties' faces, would things become easier from now on, or more complicated? Salazar knew that they didn't need more complications, but somehow, Lucius just couldn't picture the nearest future as anything but turbulent.

"What plans do you have for dealing with Albus Dumbledore? And what are you going to do to punish those despicable Muggles?" Shayell asked, fire in her eyes.

"Why should you be dealing with this Dumbledore? The logical course is for the four of you to come to the Elven realm. There, after all, is where my grandson belong," Silverwind said serenely, eyeing the four in question with curiosity, wondering why they hadn't already left Hogwarts to seek sanctuary with the Veela nation.

The four shared a look while Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I'd love to go to the Elven realm," Harry replied slowly when it became obvious that the others left the fielding of that thorny question to him.

"But?" Silverwind asked in amusement.

Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "But," he agreed wryly, "there is a prophecy that states that I am the only one who can defeat the Dark Lord.

"Admittedly," Harry said, making a face, "I feel no obligation to help the bastards who have turned their backs on me. There are those I counted as friends and family, people I would have gladly died for..." Harry trailed off as he was momentarily swamped with feelings of hurt and betrayal as he recalled the ones who had cast him aside.

"They don't deserve you, love, none of those bastards deserve your love and devotion," Draco hissed, climbing onto his mate's lap, wrapping himself as tightly around the distraught Elf as he could, even going so far as calling forth his wings so that he could cocoon his mate with his love and shelter him from the world, if only for a little while.

"If you have no ties to those who betrayed, then why do you stay?" Silverwind asked, already knowing that his grandson had given his loyalty to someone, and that someone was why they were staying in the wizarding world.

Harry sighed and tightened his arms around Draco for a moment before shifting him slightly so that he could see his grandfather better, but making sure to keep a secure grip on the blond, not wanting to lose the close contact since it was grounding him and giving him the strength he needed to carry on this conversation.

"Because, no matter how much I'd love to see those bastards suffer under Voldemort's rule, I can't turn my back on the thousands of innocents who have done nothing to earn such a fate.

"Vol- erm, I mean, the Dark Lord has to be stopped," Harry said, sending Lucius and Severus an apologetic look when they hissed at him for using You Know Who's name, momentarily forgetting not to use that word, so used to do it just to spite those he was talking to since Harry found their cringing in fear simply ridiculous.

"And since everyone is convinced that I am the only one who can do it, I can't leave the wizarding world until that matter has been resolved one way or the other," Harry said simply, then an evil grin crossed his face.

"That, however, doesn't mean that I will go along with whatever crackpot plan Dumbledore has hatched for this year. I am going to fight this war, not because I want to, but because I have to, and I will do it on my terms. The rest of the wizarding world can go and hang for all I care.

"True, I don't want them to suffer under the Dark Lord's rule, but I have a feeling that unless something is done, nothing will change once he is gone, and it won't be long before a new Dark Lord or Lady pops up, rallying people to some cause or other, and you know why? Because the people of the wizarding world are sheep," Harry said with conviction.

"You know, sometimes I actually wonder if magic rotten people's brains or something. Most of the wizards and witches I meet seem incapable of thinking for themselves, unable to draw conclusions from facts they have seen with their own two eyes," Harry said with a shake of his head. The students here at Hogwarts were prime example of what Harry meant. They had all seen him, they knew what he was like, and still they believed the Daily Prophet over what they themselves knew.

"As long as the so-called Dark Creatures are mistreated by wizards. As long as corrupt people work at the Ministry of Magic. As long as the laws are ignored by law enforcement, then nothing will change, and unless there is a profound change of the wizarding world, then there will never be peace. There will only be a down period before the next tyrant comes along. And that, more than anything else, is what I want to change," Harry said, looking directly at his grandfather as he spoke, wanting the older Elf to know of his determination.

"And how do you plan to educate the masses?" Shayell asked, struggling to keep her scorn out of her voice, knowing that she had failed when both Malfoys scowled at her.

"I'm not sure yet," Harry said calmly, unruffled by the scorn. "I was planning on somehow starting up a third side in this war. We've been talking some, but we haven't had any time to actually do anything yet," Harry admitted with a shrug. "We wanted to get rid of the Dark Marks first, freeing Lucius and Severus so they could bond, finally. We've also talked about starting up a paper that wouldn't be a gossip rag, which, hopefully, in time, could help educate the masses to become something more than bleating sheep.

"I suppose something needs to be done about the education system as well. The vision the Founders had with Hogwarts was great, but along the way it became corrupted, I guess. Take the idea with the four Houses for example," Harry said, growing enthusiastic. "It sounds good on paper, but with the current hostility between Gryffindor and Slytherin, the entire thing becomes a joke. I mean, everyone in the wizarding world seems to think that anyone sorted into Slytherin is evil.

"Think on it, from that you are eleven years old you are branded with a brand that will never leave you, and that is just plain wrong. There is nothing wrong with cunning and ambition, but the way the wizarding world are today, anyone sorted into Slytherin for those two traits are seen with suspicion and even hatred.

"That is a fourth of the wizarding world who are shunned because of the House they were sorted in. No one speaks as openly about Hufflepuff, but Helga's House isn't exactly well thought of either among the students, and that is another fourth of the wizarding populations that are branded, all because of the House they were sorted into while in school."

Harry shook his head with a soft sigh. "I don't know if anything can be done to correct that, or if it would be better to simply build a new school and just start over, but something needs to be done to lessen the hate."

"At the very least they could hire competent professors," Draco piped up, wanting to prevent the depression he could see build in his mate's eyes. "I mean, honestly, a ghost that is so incompetent that he puts his students to sleep? A Divination professor who spends her time prediction her students' death? A half-giant who can't tell whether an animal is dangerous or not? And don't get me started on the Defence professors. We haven't had a single decent one the time I've been a student here," Draco said with a sneer.

"At least we've dealt with the ghost," Harry said with a laugh.

"Yeah, you did, good on you," Draco stated, looking deeply into dancing green eyes, momentarily forgetting everything as he basked in his mate's good mood.

"The changes you speak of will take time to implement, young one, will you set yourself up as ruler of the wizarding world once you have dealt with this Dark Lord?" Silverwind asked, a little concerned for what this would mean for the Elven realm if that was what his grandson planned to do.

Harry cold only gape at his grandfather, then he broke into a peal of laughter. "Merlin no!" he cried once he could speak again. "I don't want to become the next Minister of Magic or anything like that. I don't want to become the next Albus Dumbledore either for that matter. I just want to live my life in peace and be whatever I want to be.

"Besides, until now I never really believed that I could defeat Tom anyway. I figured I'd give it my best shot and plan for my future if I should be so lucky as to have one," Harry admitted with a wry smile, adding with a smirk as Draco hissed in outrage, "Why do you think I said you got the short end of the stick? Considering that Dumbledore never gave me any training, how was I supposed to defeat a Dark Lord who is so feared that no one dares to speak his name? I never expected to live, and then you come and tell me that I am your mate. You really should have picked someone else, Draco, you really should have picked someone else as your mate," Harry murmured, his good mood dissolving as he recalled the despair he'd been feeling when informed of his new state. The state of being a Veela's mate.

Harry asked himselfH

"Harry James Potter, you get that look out of your eyes this instance!" Draco hissed, glaring daggers at this mate. "I will never regret that Magic picked you as my mate. And I will not allow that tosser calling himself a Dark Lord to kill you off, so there is no need for you to feel regret, do you understand me?" Draco demanded, continuing his hard stare into his mate's clouded green eyes.

"But-"

"Do you understand me?" Draco asked, not interested in hearing any of Harry's excuses as to why the two of them shouldn't bond.

Harry couldn't help but smile reluctantly. "Yes, I hear you, Draco," he murmured softly, reaching up to rub a smooth cheek. "But I still can't help but worry about you, about our bond, now and then. I'm sorry, I don't mean to doubt you, but..." Harry trailed off, unable to voice the churning emotions that threatened to swamp him.

"There is no need to worry, love. You forget. I am a Malfoy, and a Malfoy always gets their way," Draco stated pompously, sticking his nose high into the air, tricking a laugh out of his mate, causing the blond to smirk smugly as he felt his mate start to calm.

Still chuckling softly, Harry wrapped his infuriating mate into a tight hug, whispering softly, "Thank you," before releasing Draco so that he could turn his attention to the others in the room.

"Ohh, aren't they the sweetest thing you've ever seen?" Shayell cooed, causing Harry to blush a deep red and bury his head in Draco's shoulder.

Draco glared darkly at the queen for daring to embarrass his mate like that, preparing to lambast the Veela for her audacity.

"Leave the poor boys alone, Shayell," Silverwind said with a soft chuckle, because the queen was absolutely right, the boys were incredibly sweet together. "What I want to know more about is your plans to free Lucius and his mate. True, I haven't bothered much with the affairs of the mortal realm, but I have a few trusted officers that keeps me abreast of what is happening here, and it was my understanding that those marked was marked for life?" Silverwind said, giving the two men a curious look.

"That was our understanding as well, your majesty," Lucius replied after a swift, silent conference with his mate. "All that changed when Harry was discovered as my son's mate. Harry found a way to access a library most people don't even know exist, and in it he found a book that holds a potion that will be able to help us.

"But even that wouldn't have been enough if it wasn't for the fact that Harry is a Parselmouth and he managed to establish contact with our marks, learning from them a way to remove them completely without endangering either of us.

"If this works out as we hope, then we will offer to remove the marks from those who no longer are loyal to the Dark Lord," Lucius said, sharing another glance with his mate, adding softly, "We figured that the less people Riddle has to draw from, the less powerful he will be the day we face him in battle."

"And you feel that you can trust those you are offering to help?" Silverwind asked, finding their reasoning sound, yet worrying that their actions would end up in betrayal and possibly death.

"There is a possibility that those we help will betray us, but I trust Salissa and Eturo to inform us if we plan to approach one of Riddle's loyal followers," Lucius replied, unconsciously rubbing his mark, eliciting a soft hiss from the snake.

"Eturo and Salissa?" Silverwind asked, eyeing the blond's arm curiously.

"The spirits Tom Riddle enprisoned when he created the Dark marks," Severus explained, reluctantly pulling up his sleeve so that the Elven king could inspect the tattoo.

Silverwind took one look at the mark and recoiled in revulsion. "Abomination!" he spat out, a revolted look on his face. "He dared? He dared to abuse the spirits so? Why wasn't I informed of what that mad man was doing?" Silverwind snarled, turning his head and sending the head of his guard a truly murderous look.

But before he could do more to the poor elf, the snake in Severus' tattoo began to hiss.

"What does it say?" Silverwind asked, his anger momentarily derailed.

"Salissa is a she, and she is saying that Riddle put a geas on them, making it impossible for them to tell anyone of what was happening," Harry said, tilting his head to the side as Salissa continued to hiss.

"She also says that when Riddle was reduced to a wraith that night, they managed to contact the spirit world, letting them know that something was wrong. They couldn't get free, but they did ensure that Riddle no longer could access the spirit plane, making it impossible for him to enslave any more spirits."

"But the Dark Lord has initiated new followers since his return," Severus protested, having been forced to watch as young wizards and witches threw their lives away, mostly due to expectations and/or pressure from their parents and relatives.

"If he did, it was without the aid of the spirit plane," Harry said with a shrug. "Maybe he found some other spell to use to link himself to his new minions. Or maybe he merely gave him his mark to show their loyalties and Riddle plans on imbuing them with spirit snakes as soon as he has found a way to enter the spirit plane again. Salissa doesn't know since there are no fellow spirits in those marks for her to converse with."

"Does that mean that we can't remove them?" Draco asked, thinking of his fellow Slytherins. It wasn't wildly known, but not everyone of his House mates wished to tie themselves to the Dark Lord. Riddle's incapability to rid himself of one Harry Potter had caused many of the younger generation to question just how powerful the Dark Lord was if he couldn't get rid of one lousy boy.

The blond teen took a secret delight in knowing that he had helped sow some of that dissidence among his year mates, being extremely careful as not to allow his true alliance be known. It simply wasn't safe to admit in Slytherin House that you did not wish to follow Salazar Slytherin's heir. Gryffindors might call it cowardice, but to a Slytherin, self-preservation was a very big thing, one of the reasons as to why they did not rush blindly into situations the way the lions did.

"I don't know," Harry admitted, "I guess it all depends on what spells Riddle uses on the new marks."

"I believe that is a discussion for another day," Silverwind cut in, not wanting his grandson to become depressed again. "First we need to focus on freeing your intended's father, then we can worry about helping those who wish for freedom as well."

"I suppose you are right," Harry said, sounding somewhat doubtful, but he didn't feel secure yet to openly going against the king of the Elves.

"Silverwind is absolutely correct," Shayell stated, effectively drawing everyone's attention. "Do you have everything you need? Is there anything I and my people can help you with?"

Severus and Lucius shared a look. "If you could stand guard over Draco and Harry while we are soaking in the necessary potion, it would ease our minds immensely," Lucius admitted, looking his queen steadily in the eyes as he made his request.

"Consider it done," Shayell replied, a grin of delight on her face as she agreed, looking forward to getting to know Draco's mate better.

"Father!" Draco moaned, banging his forehead against Harry's shoulder in embarrassment. "I'm sixteen years old! Not a baby! I can look after myself and my mate just fine, thank you very much."

"I know how old you are, my Dragon. And yes, normally, I would agree that you are fully capable of defending your mate from most threat. But I still worry about you, and I find myself... uneasy. I do not like that I will not be able to help you should something happen while I am in seclusion. It does not help that Severus won't be here with you since he is needs to soak in the potion as well," Lucius reluctantly admitted, not liking to voice his insecurities in front of his queen and in front of total strangers.

Veela or not, Lucius was still first and foremost a Malfoy, and a Malfoy never allowed his feelings to show in public. He certainly did not admit to feelings of insecurity or inadequacy.

Still, his need to know that his heir and his mate was safe while he was locked away in the bathroom overrode his father's training, causing him to beg for help where he otherwise would have sneered and acted haughty. To a Malfoy family always came first, even though his father clearly had forgotten that, but Lucius was a firm believer of the old Malfoy values and he would fight tooth and nail to ensure that Draco and Harry was safe, and if that meant sacrificing his pride on occasion, then the price was worth it as long as his son, and now also his son's mate, was safe.

"Do not worry, Lord Malfoy, I and my people will ensure that nothing happens to your son or my grandson while you are freeing yourselves from the abomination that mares your skin, your magic, and your soul," Silverwind solemnly promised the elder blond, subtly reminding him that he too had an interest in keeping Draco and his mate safe.

Lucius didn't reply verbally but bowed his head to show that he had understood the unspoken words.

Harry watched the two men, huffing in irritation. Honestly, they all acted as if he and Draco needed a bunch of babysitters or something. It wasn't their fault that things tended to go pear shaped around them. But try and convince Lucius and Severus of that. And now it looked as if the two royalties had jumped onto the same bandwagon as the two older Slytherins.

"Don't worry, love, we will prove them wrong," Draco whispered, no more happy with this development than Harry was.

The two teens shared a mischievous grin. They would prove to the others that they weren't troublemakers. They were just two, poor, misunderstood mates, cruelly misused by the magical world.

Shayell and Silverwind shared a look and a smile. Boys were boys and it was good to see that the meddling Dumbledore had done hadn't damaged the developing bond between them.

Lucius and Severus shared a longsuffering look. The boys were plotting again, meaning that there would be no peace and quite for the two of them anytime soon. At least they now had help keeping the consequences under control.

They hoped.


Next Time:

Here be dragons.

Until Then...