A/N: I'M BACK! We'll at least back with this chapter. The next chapter is still in the works so I don't know when the next update will be and I know you are all hoping that I won't take as long as I did with the past few chapters (I'm also hoping for the same thing). But no promises guys. I hope you enjoy this chapter though. By the way, this is still unbeta-ed, but I wanted to get this out as soon as possible as my way of thanking all of you for sticking with me after all this time.

Next I want to thank all of you for your support. I was seriously shocked that so many of you actually took the time to PM me after my mini rant. I truly believe that I have the best group of readers/reviewers out there. The outpouring of love and support was so overwhelming and I even made a couple of friends among you lot. So, thank you all guys, you made my day back then extremely bright. I love you all! (cookies for all)

Chapter 27 Unparalleled Powers

He was lounging comfortably in front of the fire, a nightcap on the side table and the Evening Prophet held in his hands. The day had gone well for him; having just given the Prophet a brand new interview, which would undoubtedly be in tomorrow's paper, about how the Ministry was handling all the lies and chaos Dumbledore and Potter were causing. Shaking the evening paper loose to read about the latest attempts Dumbledore was making to spread his lies, he was just about to have a well deserved, stress-free evening when Ministry alarms connected to his home blared loudly.

"What in Merlin's name?" exclaimed Fudge, springing out of his armchair and looking wildly about the room as if the reason behind the alarms could be found nearby. He half expected his wife Caroline to come barging into the room demanding what all the noise was about when he remembered that it had been years since she left him for the Weird Sister's lead guitarist. A dark frown soon formed on his face at the memory but before he could react further to the alarms, the fire roared magically and the face of one Percy Weasley began to form in the flames.

"Minister," cried Weasley, "There is a disturbance in the Ministry, sir!"

"Then have the Aurors take care of it." snapped Fudge, retrieving his fallen paper, irritated that his evening had been ruined.

"You don't understand, sir, they say that Death Eaters are currently inside the Ministry." said Weasley with a touch of hysteria.

"Preposterous!" exclaimed Fudge over the blaring alarms, aghast that the young man had the nerve to tell him that he did not understand something. "Did Dumbledore set you up for this Weasley? I thought you disagreed with your family's views? I will tell you now that there are no active Death Eaters running around the Ministry."

"No sir!" replied Weasley in a wounded voice. "I am only passing on what Auror Shacklebolt told me to pass on to you. He said that it was the utmost importance that your presence be in the Ministry tonight!"

"Very well," said Fudge, his ego smoothened out and grabbed his cloak that was draped over the arm of his sofa. "Remind me later to have a word with Kingsley. It is not good for my image to have one of my top Aurors spouting out lies about Death Eaters. Move out of the way Weasley and let us see what all the commotion is about."

Weasley's visage soon vanished from the flames and Fudge grabbed a handful of Floo powder from the pot on the mantle after disabling the alarms in his home; and not for the first time he pushed the thought that no one would ever be home to worry about him disappearing in the middle of the night. Once the green flames surrounding him and the dizzying feeling associated with travelling through the Ministry's public Floo system dissipated, Fudge found himself stepping into the dark Ministry Atrium.

"What is going on here?" Fudge voiced out loud, looking around the empty Atrium. There was no evidence at all that there was a commotion going on and Fudge felt both his temper and annoyance rising – someone had pulled a fast one on him! The Ministry was just how it always was after hours – vast, dark and quiet – to his eyes there was nothing wrong at all going on. No longer in the mood for a night of solitude, he decided to just head up to his office and start fire calling people and demand just what in Merlin's name they were trying to play here with him. However before he could go and vent his anger towards his junior undersecretary and a distinguished Auror, he heard a muffled thud before he was suddenly grabbed from the back.

His captor held one scarred hand over his mouth and another holding his hands locked behind his back. Panic surged up all over his body and he struggled with all his might to get away. But the more he fought against his captor's hold, the more his restraints tightened until it came to the point that he could no longer move an inch. The only lining that Fudge could see in this situation was that if this person had wanted to kill him; he would have done so earlier.

"Are we done struggling, Minister?" asked his captor in a gruff tone. Fudge could do nothing but nod.

"Good," replied his captor, his voice sounding familiar. "Now we want you to watch and believe. You are condemning the entire British wizarding community by refusing to believe what we are trying to tell the public and you now have left us with no choice but to do this. Remember Minister, watch and believe!"

Fudge's eyes widened at his captor's words, now realizing exactly who had orchestrated his presence here in the Ministry at so late an hour. Yet despite his anger at being told of what to do, he was curious as to what Dumbledore had set up for him this time to make him believe all of the madness about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named coming back from the dead. He did not wait long for at that exact moment Bellatrix Lestrange emerged from one of the gold grilled elevators, a maniacal glee painted over her post-Azkaban face. To say that Fudge was shocked to find one of the ten Azkaban escapees running gleefully amok his ministry was a severe understatement. But his surprise was further intensified by the appearance of none other than the Potter boy himself, apparently chasing down the mad woman, his wand held steady towards his prey.

From the hidden recess that his captor dragged him in, Fudge watched the expressions that flashed on the boy's face and he couldn't help but shiver in fear at the unrestrained loathing and power that was emanating from the fifteen year old boy. Even from the distance he could see that the way the boy held himself was completely different to how he'd seen the boy carry himself before. This wrath filled boy strutting towards a known Death Eater was not the same boy Dumbledore had wound around his fingers – No! – this was a young man out for revenge and with buckets more power than Dumbledore could ever possess to do it.

Fudge had never been a strong-willed man, and hated to admit that he only ever managed to make it in the political field through the ministrations of those richer and more powerful than him, and as he stood there watching as Potter chase after Lestrange, he couldn't help but wonder if he'd witness this subtle display of power by Potter beforehand, he would have end up trying to eat from the boy's hands just so as not to experience that much raw power directed towards him. A jet of red light then escaped from Potter's wand – or was it perhaps his hands, he couldn't tell – and Lestrange's tortured cries soon filled the vast Atrium. Fudge was not fazed by the Unforgivable that came out of the Potter boy's wand, he had already guess that the boy was out for death the moment he saw him coming out of the elevator. It was however to look of glee that had once been on Lestrange's face, now etched on Potter's face that troubled him so. Fudge watched in horrid fascination as the boy held the spell longer than what was mentally healthy for both parties and realized that Potter was capable of holding the Cruciatus without ever having to worry about magical exhaustion. Fudge however could not say the same for the boy's mental health as Potter seem to appear more gleeful and more menacing the longer he held Lestrange under his spell.

Throughout Potter's impromptu torture session, Fudge never realized that his captor had long vanished and ever since Potter emerged into the scene, he was free to return to his home but the sight before him kept him very much rooted in the dark recess of his hiding place. The magic and power emanating from Potter was greater than anything he'd ever felt before and it made him feel that the boy was capable of ending his miserable existence with just one fierce look. He could now just picture Caroline laughing at his cowering and whimpering form whilst an angry Potter stood before him. Was this how everyone felt when caught in the wash of the Boy-Who-Lived's spell, suddenly seemingly feeling terrified of their own insignificant existence?

Fudge had no idea how much time had elapsed since Potter cast the Cruciatus but just then he noticed a tall figure making his way towards Potter and then a flash of white light engulfed the whole Atrium. Disoriented, Fudge stumbled backwards at the intensity of the light and once he'd regained his sight, he saw that Potter had ceased casting the Cruciatus and was now slumped piteously on the ground with Lestrange standing a little away from him and taunting him, looking as if she had just not been tortured longer than You-Know-Who could ever manage.

The events that followed the sudden flash of light were a blur to Fudge; it was as if a haze had covered his eyes preventing him from fully making out the things that were transpiring before him. No amount of haze however could completely block out the malevolent figure that emerged from the shadows to stand behind a now furious Lestrange. Fudge had to clasp a hand over his mouth at the sight of a reptilian faced He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named standing not a few feet from him, hoping that he would remain unseen by the devil personified. There was no longer any doubt in his mind that You-Know-Who was alive, for he was certain that not even the great Albus Dumbledore could fake the dark magic surrounding the self-proclaimed Dark Lord and he was feeling utterly sick just being around the man. He never noticed when Dumbledore himself arrived in the Atrium but what soon followed was an apocalyptic battle between the figureheads of the Light and the Dark, leaving everything around them in a sea of rock and debris. Words were exchanged between the two powerful wizards as they duelled fiercely but Fudge's attention was brought towards the fallen form of Harry Potter, safely lying away from the destruction. He somehow could not connect in his mind the fearsome form of the boy he'd seen earlier to the meek, shattered boy that was too much out of it to realize that an epic clash was happening in front of him. To Fudge this suddenly weak and timid Potter made no sense when not a few minutes ago the boy appeared and acted as if he held all the power of the world in his hands.

However it was when Dumbledore appeared nonchalant when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named tried to possess Potter that sealed it for him that there was something seriously going on that the Hogwarts Headmaster was trying to keep unwraps. What kind of person could watch calmly as the boy they'd vehemently tried to protect being mentally tortured and possessed? Fortunately for the Potter boy, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named left his mind just as suddenly as he'd entered it, leaving the raven haired boy looking much more lost and shattered that he'd ever been this evening.

Fudge watched silently how Dumbledore handled the situation and he vowed to himself that he found figure out what happened to the sudden power Potter wielded. He, Cornelius Fudge, was going to make sure that that kind of power would never be directed towards him and by that he would have to wield that power himself – he would do everything in his power to never feel insignificant again! The last thought that ran through his mind before making his presence known to the two people in the Atrium was that with that kind of power, he would be known as the greatest Minister and wizard the wizarding world had ever seen. Caroline would soon wish she had not left him for that guitar playing bisexual pig!


However Cornelius Fudge's plans to search for the source of Potter's great power came to a screeching halt when not three days after the Ministry debacle, a vote of no confidence was held in the Wizengamot without his knowledge and before he could even lay the plans he had for his search, he was being kicked out of his office by a gleeful Kingsley Shacklebolt. It was only a day later that he found out via the Daily Prophet that he was replaced by none other than the Head of the Auror Department, Rufus Scrimgeour.

Angry and humiliated, he'd been forced to crawl back into the new Minister's office to seek employment for he knew that without the Ministry's unlimited resources he would never be able to proceed with his search. Thankfully Scrimgeour thought him to still be a reliable source - though of course it was not without many subtle threats that if he should embarrass the Ministry again then he would find himself behind a Ministry holding cell faster than he could say Galleon. And so that was how he, Cornelius Fudge, ex-British Minister for Magic, found himself as the Department Head of the Department of Mystery. He could not have imagined a better place to begin his search. Sometimes he just loved how he seemed so inept to the rest of the wizarding world – the imperative word being sometimes – that they would think that he could do no wrong in a department known for its secrecy and failed experiments.

As soon as he'd descended into his brand new underground office, Fudge called out every Unspeakable who would listen to him and told them of what he'd witness in the Ministry Atrium, extracting an oath from all of them that everything he said would not go beyond Level 10. Within hours of telling his tale, he'd been approved by the veteran Unspeakables as the new Alpha and days later he had a large number of the department working to help him figure out just what kind of power Potter wielded that nigh in the Atrium, for all of them had agreed with him that that kind of power was unheard of. Months into their search, they'd stumbled upon a vague reference in one of the older files in the Auror department of a sudden magical surge that occurred in Germany fifty years ago. It came to no surprise for Fudge that after a more in-depth search in the Old Files that the event the old Auror files were pertaining to was the battle against Grindenwald and that Dumbledore was once again present during the magical surge, and now they'd finally found a witness to the magical surge other than the old Headmaster himself.

Fudge was never more glad than when he read the news that the Weird Sister's lead guitarist was caught having a go at it with a boy!

It had taken much longer than he thought to seek out the only sane survivor of the battle where the Dark Lord Grindenwald was defeated since many of his Unspeakables deemed it too dangerous for their leader to go to an unsecured location all alone. But after countless arguments in which the politician in him countered with ease, his men finally relented and the man known as Alpha to those who worked in the depths of the Ministry Apparated five miles on the outskirts of Hogsmeade to the tiny secluded village of Mainstead.

His destination was pictured clearly in his mind's eye but just as the pressuring sensation of Apparating was about to end, he felt a strong blocking force and upon reappearance found himself flying through the air and then landing bonelessly meters away fro the village square. With the wind having been knocked out of him, Fudge grunted and struggled to get back on his feet. Picking up his fallen lime green bowler hat, he tentatively approached the area where he was certain the edge of the wards were erected.

"Intriguing," he mumbled contemplatively as he raised his had and felt a slight resistance in the air before him. "What have you got to hide, Albus?"

Not knowing whether the Anti-Apparation wards were indeed the handiwork of the Hogwarts' Headmaster or if the villagers just abhor Apparating visitors, Fudge was nonetheless pleased that he'd caught a glimpse of Dumbledore walking up to Scrimgeour's office just before left the Ministry. Whoever was responsible for the ward, he knew he now had even less time to find the old barman and therefore swiftly made his way to where the files said the old barman lived. An acute sense of foreboding fell upon him as he crossed the invisible wards. The hour was neither early nor was it overly late yet the village was eerily silent, much like a ghoul town, if he ever allowed himself to believe at such.

The file that Boar gave him stated that the village of Mainstead was small and sure enough, after only a few minutes of navigating the place, Alpha found himself facing a dirt road that led to a small clearing in the woods that surrounded the edges of the village, the location where the files said the old barman's cottage was. The path was surprisingly less rugged than expected considering it was a dirt road leading to the edge of town but he immediately put that thought at the back of his mind once he caught sight of the tiny cottage that stood solitary in the middle of the clearing. Arriving at what seemed to be the only entrance to the dreary cottage, Fudge knocked.

He could see a candle flickering through the stained windows and hoped that the bar man was at home for he had no desire to return to the ominous village at a later time. A second and third knock to the fragile looking wooden door later brought about a disgruntled muttering from somewhere inside the cottage. Fudge was about to try a fourth when the small window on the door opened and a pair of dull, wrinkled blues eyes came into view.

"Herr Wilhelm Klaus?" inquired Fudge, in an unobtrusive voice.

"Ja," grunted the old man in response. "Wer sind Sie?"

Fudge frowned a bit, no where in the file did it say that the man could not speak English. "I'm sorry Mr. Klaus but I…"

"Who are you?" the old man interrupted with a thick German accent.

Feeling that he'd somehow how lost his edge and control of the situation, Fudge reverted back to a nervous tendency of removing his bowler hat and fumbling with it with his hands. "My name is Cornelius Fudge Mr. Klaus, and I have come on behalf of the Minister Scrimgeour to see that all of his citizens are well informed on what to do in the present situation."

"I am not English," replied the barman in what he could discern as an insulted tone.

Uncertain as how to proceed with the standoffish man, Fudge decided to just get to the point on why he'd come. "Mr. Klaus, it is important that I come in to discuss about certain events during your youth." The old barman's eyes grew wide before his expression returned to its cold demeanour, it seemed that he'd hit a sensitive point.

"I have no idea what you are talking about!" barked the old barman, sliding the small window shut. But before the lock on the window could click, Fudge had pressed his hand on the window and slid it open once more.

"Mr. Klaus, I assure you it would be more difficult for you if you do not let me in." said Fudge forcefully.

The barman narrowed his eyes at him before warily turning about to watch his surroundings. "You come alone?" demanded the old man.

"Yes, sir." replied Fudge, hoping that the situation was now improving. The small window snapped suddenly shut in front of his face, surprising him, but then he heard a multitude of locks and bolts being opened from the inside and soon the fragile door opened a fracture. "You've come to ask questions." stated the elderly man.

"Yes, sir."

"Foolish, meddlesome Englishman!" spat the old barman, to Fudge's shock, as he opened the door wider for his late night visitor.

Fudge entered the cottage and was not at all surprised to find it sparsely furnished. It seemed that the whole cottage comprised of only a single room, divided into a small kitchen with a small table and a living room. One corner of the room was hidden behind a screen and he guessed that that was where the old man slept. His scrutiny of the cottage however was cut short by the sudden cry of the ill-tempered old man.

"Well sit down!" snapped the German, who then proceeded to mutter insistently in his mother tongue as he made for the kitchen on the other side of his cottage.

Slightly vexed by the old man's sour disposition, Fudge chose to sit at the most comfortable looking part of the sofa and waited for the old man and whatever it was he was preparing in the tiny kitchen. However when the old man returned, instead of tea like what he was expecting, the old barman had with him two pints of beer.

"You drink Mr. Fudge?" asked the old man, his cold demeanour somehow lessened after his first sip of the over flowing liquid.

"Er… yes." sputtered the Head of the Department of Ministry, unaccustomed to the German's customs. Fudge took a drink of the offered beverage and found that it was usually strong.

"Güt? Better than your silly Firewhiskey?" asked Mr. Klaus, sitting across him, amused.

"Yes," said Alpha, taking another drink before putting it down on the coffee table. "Mr. Klaus, I have it from classified sources that you were present during the battle that occurred in 1945."

"There were plenty of battles that happened in that year, boy! Be precise, I am an old man!" said Mr. Klaus, his seemingly sour attitude returning.

Fudge took the words in stride; he would not get anything out off the man by aggravating him further. "I was pertaining to duel that occurred on the outskirts of Nurmengard Prison, the duel between Gellert Grindenwald and Albus Dumbledore." If he was expecting the old man to react violently towards him just as he had earlier when he'd said he'd come to ask questions, he was terribly surprised at the reaction he received. Instead of the gruff expression that seemed to be a permanent fixture on the old man's face, the old German barman now had something akin to primitive fear showing in his dull blue eyes.

"Mr. Klaus?" said Alpha, reaching out to the obviously terrified man, but of what, he had no idea. "Mr. Klaus?"

"Bekommen Sie weg von mir!" screamed the old man, as if he'd come into something horrifying. "Get away from me! Get away! I know nothing." The old man then jumped away from his seat and hurried over to the corner that was hidden behind the screen. Fudge was at a lost at what to do, was this the madness that had taken over all of the witnesses or was this perhaps something more? He could hear rustling and mumbling from behind the screen where Mr. Klaus fled to and he carefully made his way around the sofa so as not to further startle the agitated old man. Having made his way carefully through the old man's clutter, Fudge took a peek behind the screen and found a wall papered with numerous sketches, symbols and newspaper clippings.

"What is this?" Fudge mumbled curiously to himself, the unexpected view having taken away his mind off of the mumbling German sitting cross-legged on the threadbare cot. The sketches were childish drawings of various dark creatures that seemed more of a product of the old man's imagination than an accurate description of how the creatures really looked like. In one of the sketches a resplendently dressed elf was standing beside what he could guess as the old man's depiction of a wizard, but instead of a wand, the wizard held a large staff. Pasted on the wall amongst the many sketches in no pattern whatsoever were five symbols that were drawn repeatedly in varying sizes. In comparison to the childish sketches, the symbols looked amazingly real. Of the five symbols repeatedly drawn and stuck on the wall, two symbols struck him as being the ones drawn more times and in much larger sizes. The first symbol was that of a black sphere caught inside of a voluminous red cloak, formed in the shape of a cone, with a large rune engraved staff going vertical through the middle of it all. The second symbol however was the most evil looking of the bunch, with a striking red snake coiled around a dangerous looking black and silver hilted sword that was embedded on a milky white skull.

So lost was he in the realistic images that he failed to notice that the old man had finally stopped mumbling to himself and was now staring at him. "Those are Clandestines." the German whispered softly, glaring at the parchments that papered his wall.

"Clandestines?" asked Fudge in confusion, taking his gaze away from the snake's silver eyes.

"Protectors of Magyck. Very powerful beings. Never mess with them." Mr. Klaus said in a throaty voice.

Fudge's eyes widened. He'd never heard of these so called Clandestines before. Were these beings what he was looking for? "Protectors of magic?" he voice out wilfully but his musing was interrupted by a cutting voice.

"If you value your magic and life, Mr. Fudge, you best be on your way now!"

"What are these symbols? And where can I find these Clandestines, Mr. Klaus?" queried Fudge, plainly ignoring the German's warning. Wilhelm Klaus however was uncooperative and immediately shook his head in the negative at his question.

"It is best you do not know." said the German, reverting back to his shaken state. "You are safe not knowing."

Undeterred, Fudge broke into the old man's personal space and crouched down before the shaking man, "Please, Mr. Klaus, I need you to tell me what you know of these Clandestines."

"Bitte weiß ich nicht! Bitte! Bitte! Ich weiß nicht…" mumbled the German, shaking his head vehemently.

"Mr. Klaus, please…" said Fudge only to be snapped at by a suddenly enraged old man.

"I said I don't know! Get out of my house now!" screamed the German, bolting out of his cot and pushing Fudge away from him. Fudge stumbled backwards at the sudden display of strength from the old man and watched as the old man began tearing down everything that was glued to his wall. The old barman seemed possessed as he tore everything down, his terrified mumblings filling every inch of the small cottage.

Fudge was just about to stop the old man from his fevered actions when the Mr. Klaus paused halfway into tearing down a symbol depicting the moon in it various phase.

"Trackers!" whispered Mr. Klaus, his terrified eyes staring out of the window and into the woods.

"What are you saying Mr. Klaus?" asked Fudge, finding the old man's crazed mind utterly exhausting.

"They've realized you're here!" mumbled the German under his breath, causing Fudge to take the man's words seriously for the first time.

"What are Trackers, Mr. Klaus?" asked Fudge as the old man went from feverishly tearing down the things on his wall to roughly pushing him towards the door.

"Leave now, Mr. Fudge! I beg of you, you must leave now." cried Mr. Klaus, his tone both pleading and scared.

"Not unless you tell me what you know!" demanded Fudge, fighting against his instincts to flee at the terrified way the old man was talking about the so called Trackers.

Mr. Klaus shook his head in a disapproving manner but stopped in his insistent shoving and was now looking beyond the windows anxiously. "You are a stupid Englishman, do you know that Mr. Fudge."

Fudge huffed at the comment but pointedly kept his mouth shut.

"I am telling you Mr. Fudge to leave what you're searching for behind if you value your magic and your life. This not something you can control. This goes beyond your every belief and you be wise to keep yourself ignorant of it. I have suffered greatly over the years because of this knowledge and there not a single day that goes by that I do not wish that I'd ended up completely insane or dead just like the many people in my hometown." said Mr. Klaus, his tone the most lucid it had ever been. "No wizard should ever search for this again; 'tis not something we can handle. You may be a stupid Englishman, but I know you value yourself and so I beg you to leave now. You will never survive once they get your scent – they will stop at nothing to track down anything they perceive as a threat."

"These Trackers, are they Clandestine too?" asked Fudge, wanting to squeeze more information out of the old man before he left.

"No!" cried Mr. Klaus indignantly. "You will never find a Clandestine here. Trackers are his private army that ensure that no one else get to what he wants."

"Who is he?" pressed Fudge but the old man had resumed his shoving and he was soon out of the door.

"Leave Mr. Fudge, they will soon be everywhere!" said Mr. Klaus before snapping his cottage door shut, leaving behind an extremely bemused Cornelius Fudge out in the open.

Not soon after he was unceremoniously kicked out of the old man's cottage, Fudge felt that someone was watching him and his self-preservation finally kicked in. Pulling his wand out before him, Fudge hurriedly walked back outside the Apparation Wards, glancing fearfully beyond his shoulders every now and then. As he was quickly trying to get out of the village, he could clearly hear the shuffling of feet and the rustling of robes coming from behind him. Then when a flash of green light came from where he knew a dilapidated old cottage stood, Fudge knew then that Wilhelm Klaus was no more and that more than anything else turned his hurried walk into an all out run for his life.

However the moment he broke out at a run, he more or less felt his pursuers running after him as well and then he clamped a hand over his shoulder as he felt something hot graze his arm. His hand was immediately coated with sticky red liquid and before he could even think of what spell to use against his unseen pursuers, a jet of red light connected with the ground before him causing him to backtrack and change direction. Pretty soon he found himself trying to dodge more spells than he'd ever seen being thrown around his entire life and all the while he was too scared for his life to actually think of a spell to cast against his pursuers. Not that he could actually aim against an unseen foe. Twice more he had to change direction as his pursuers blasted the ground in front of him and never once did it occur to him that none of the spells ever hit their target, and if it did, it was never too grievous. In fact the worse injury he'd received was the hit on his shoulder which by now had ceased bleeding.

He had no idea where or what these Trackers were but from the sound of the now deceased German, he could hazard a guess that they were assassins working for someone who was searching for the same thing he was looking for – Clandestines! But from what little he'd gotten from the old barman, this person seemed to have been more successful than he was if he had is own personal assassins at his beck and call to eliminate others seeking the same thing. These thoughts continued to run back and forth in his mind as he ran and dodged spells until he finally came to where the Apparition wards came to an end and without ever looking back, Fudge Apparated, never seeing about twenty or so Trackers that watched and allowed him to get away.


After the yet another life changing discussion, this time with Ginny, by the lake, Haeden found no time to digest the facts about Voldemort as Granger and Weasley took it upon themselves to keep him under their radar since according to them he'd been spending too much time by himself again. And with the events of the previous night still fresh on his mind, he had but little choice to pacify the two Gryffindors and continue to play the role of the Gryffindor Golden Boy to avoid suspicions. However now that he finally knew where his two 'friends'' loyalties really lay, it made it all that much harder for him to act all chummy with them and pretend that he'd not just mutilated their faces. So it was with mixed emotions that he excused himself from his two guards to prepare for the first of the week long detention his – did he dare say it, father? – assigned as punishment for him losing his control in the Gryffindor dormitory.

The detention started off awkward despite it being a normal Snape detention; which of course entailed numerous dirty cauldrons and revolting potion ingredients. Perhaps what made the whole situation uncomfortable was the new stage in their relationship he'd allowed the previous night and that this detention, very like his confrontation with the professor the other night, was more of a father punishing his son after being caught doing something dangerous than a professor punishing a student. The tension between the two of them was also less palpable than it had been the night before and it was a refreshing change to his otherwise stress filled days. Also as part of his punishment for endangering himself, the professor had demanded that he hand over the Hand of Bereavement. In the beginning he'd absolutely hated the idea of giving the Hand away, but then after almost a day of mulling over his actions, he thought that it was best if the Hand was out of his reach lest he succumb to his temper and lose control again. Though he'd already learnt his lesson about control and vowed never to let it happen again, it was always good to keep temptation at an arms length, or in this case, inside a Vampyre Magyck warded box hidden within the Professor's heavily warded room.

Halfway through the detention, the two of them had come into a calm rhythm, or as calm it could get when one is scrubbing cauldrons and chopping up innards and Haeden couldn't help but feel a little bit more grounded than he'd ever been in his short life. Very few words were exchanged in the one and a half hour it took him to complete his detention and at the end the professor surprised him by offering him a goblet of warm blood to replenish his energy before going back to the Gryffindor Tower. For the first time in five years, despite the gravity of the incident which resulted in his week long detention, Haeden did not feel an ounce of anger or unfairness stepping out of a detention supervised by Severus Snape and he hoped that that was a good sign.

When he got back to the common room, he was immediately bombarded by both Weasley and Granger about the reasons behind his detention with Snape. Acting the part of Harry Potter, he went on about how the Potions Master had accosted him earlier of stealing some of his potion ingredients and gave him a week long detention.

"Mate, that's not right!" cried Weasley. "You should tell McGonagall, or better yet, you should report him to Dumbledore. Maybe then he'll finally get fired."

"I have to agree with Ron, Harry. Professor Snape is being unfair to you. This week long detention you have to go to has no basis. He doesn't have proof that you really were the one who took his missing potion ingredients." said Granger.

Haeden fought hard to keep the scowl that was threatening to break out off of his face as he listened to their words. "Look guys, Snape's just being his usual git self. He's always had it in for me and I've gotten use to it."

"That's no reason to allow him to treat you this way, Harry." said Granger, in her no nonsense voice. "Not unless you really stole his potion ingredients!"

"What?" Haeden exclaimed indignantly, bringing the whole common room's attention to their argument. "Of course not Gr-Hermione! I've never once stolen an ingredient from Snape, and you know that." He then proceeded to point a finger at her which the witch only pushed aside, much to his disappointment.

"Oh come on Harry, you must have done something to Snape to make him give you a week long detention and you not complaining about it." said Hermione.

"How is it that me not complaining immediately points to me doing something bad?" cried Harry incredulously, staring down at both of his ex-friends. "Couldn't it be that I've matured enough after the events of last June to take Snape's ridicules in stride, like an adult?"

Granger backed down at this and mumbled a quick apology. "I'm sorry Harry, I forgot."

"It's easy to forget when you weren't there!" snapped Harry, feeling genuine anger at the situation.

"We were there mate!" cried Weasley in the witch's defence. "How can you say that we weren't there, Harry? We fought with you."

Haeden looked around the common room, well aware that everyone was watching what looked like the falling out of the Golden Trio. He then closed his eyes to try and even out his ragged breathing, – when did he become so agitated? – trying to come up with a way to turn this squabble around.

"I'm sorry guys." Haeden said slowly, thinking of his next words carefully. "Snape's unjust detention is indeed what you say it is – unjust. But there are so many things going on in my life right now that I try not to make a big deal out of everything. That way it lessens the strain. You know what I'm trying to say, right Hermione?"

"Yes, Harry." nodded Hermione, looking absolutely concerned.

"Look I'll just let Snape's detentions play out, they're not anything he's ever done before. Just a bunch of dirty cauldrons. And after he's had his fun mocking me while I work, this whole thing will be over. We'll maybe not; this is Snape we're talking about. But allowing him this tiny victory over me would turn his sights away from me for awhile and that's something we could all benefit from."

Granger looked thoughtful at his words while Weasley looked as if he was still trying to digest the fact that his best friend was not complaining about the evil bat of the dungeon. After awhile Granger spoke out again. "Alright Harry, we'll see how this week plays out. But promise me that the moment Professor Snape steps over the line that you will go immediately to either Professor McGonagall or the Headmaster. Okay, Harry?"

"Sure thing, Hermione," acquiesced Haeden, pleased that for now he'd pacified both of them.

"Oh Harry!" cried Granger before he found himself being hugged to death by the witch.

"It's okay Hermione," said Haeden, trying not to look at how her neck was in the right position for a quick snack. Clearing his head from his blood lust thought, he turned his eyes towards the youngest Weasley boy and found him looking bemusedly at the girl he liked consoling his best friend.

"Are we okay Ron?" asked Haeden the moment Granger released him from her hold.

"Yeah mate, we're good." said Ron a tad stiffly but nonetheless offered his hand. Having no choice but to come into contact with human flesh again, Haeden pulled the Weasley boy towards him and gave him a manly hug. From out of the corner of his eye he could see Ginny sitting by the window and watching the scene before her with mirth in her eyes. After the scene they'd created, Granger and Weasley dragged him to sit with them by the fire and Haeden resigned himself to spending the evening in the company of the two people he liked being with the least. Fortunately Ginny seemed to have taken pity on him and joined the three of them by the fire. Granger and Weasley looked disappointed that she'd taken the seat beside him, effectively acting as a barrier between him and them, but Haeden didn't care and he was now glad more than ever that he'd found out about her being at least part Clandestine. With her now able to act as a shield against their prying, he might just survive until the holidays.

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