A/N: So I'm back. If you follow me instead of just the story you'll see that I have been posting a new story over in the MCU fandom and I know there have been concerns that I'm forgetting my other works but as you can see that is not the case. My brain was giving me loads of ideas just not for this fic but as soon as I finished the MCU story I managed to write this in 2 days so obviously I did something right.
Thank you to everyone who had read, followed and favourited this story and stuck with it given my less than regular updating schedule.
This chapter is focussed on Gryffindor, Slytherin and a sneak peak for Dumbledore so I hope you like it.
On with the story!
Disclaimer: Not J.K but this plot is mine
Warning: possible language, mentions of slahs
"So how horrible do you think this is going to be?" Hermione wondered as the three of them made their way back to Gryffindor tower rather slowly all things considered. Neville shot her a look while Ron snorted shaking his head.
"Why bother predicting? We all know this is going to be a mess and they're gunna pounce on us as soon as we get in; they're probably waiting for us."
"Oh they're definitely waiting on us." Neville assured with a look of distaste.
"I kind of want to tell them where to shove it." Hermione sighed, "but right now we don't need to create enemies."
"No we don't, as much as I also want to tell them to shove it." Ron agreed reluctantly, "we're already set to have the lowest support here than the rest of the houses."
"Well maybe Hufflepuff." Neville suggested, "if we spin this right and Harry uses his Harry-ness then we might actually swing a decent amount of people to at least neutral."
"It's the muggleborns that are going to be a problem. I hate to say it but the Slytherins have not done us any favours with that, especially Draco, who's father we've just endorsed."
"Yeah well that's going to be up to you to sort unfortunately." Ron stated her, "It's pointless us even trying being both prominent purebloods, and until Harry has finalised his muggleborn/muggle plan we have nothing to offer."
"We should have discussed this with Moony." Hermione groaned, "I don't know what Harry has planned exactly but I know it's to do with proving that there is actually very very few if any actual muggleborns."
"From what I've managed to pick up he's mainly focussing on trying to build a case for purebloods to stop throwing out their squibs as they're creating muggleborns; I don't know anything about if his plans for the actual muggleborns themselves." Neville told them with a shrug.
"He really is awful at communicating sometimes."
"I'd ask him now but we all know he won't answer now that he's with him." Ron said with a smirk.
"That's for sure."
"I'm so happy that he's happy." Hermione commented, sharing the smile with the others.
"I can't believe who's making him happy, however." Neville admitted, "if you would have told me last year where we'd be I'd have laughed at you but if you would have told me who Harry would be with I would have sent you to Mungos."
"Tell me about it." Ron agreed fervently, "even in our lucid moments I could have never predicted this."
"That in itself should explain why it's happened." Hermione reasoned making Ron scoff while Neville grinned.
"Sometimes I wonder how we got so lucky yet unlucky with a best friend that cannot do anything even closely resembling normal." The red head groaned even though he was also grinning.
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
Despite dragging it out they eventually arrived outside Gryffindor Tower where the Fat Lady was sharing a frame with her gossipy friend.
"Caused quite the stir, you three and the one that used to be with you." She teased.
"Well we thought it was getting a bit boring around here." Neville informed her somewhat sarcastically and both ladies tittered.
"They're all waiting for you; it's been quite the evening." She warned, swinging open when they gave the password. The Fat Lady was indeed right; what looked like the entirety of Gryffindor house was crowded in the common room and a wave of noise hit them from what looked like multiple loud discussions. The chatter died away as soon as they were noticed and everyone turned to look at them. There was a range of expressions from the confused to the down right livid and the three of them shared a look before walking further in to stand in front of the first so they could be seen by the whole room.
"So the traitors have returned." Cormac McLaggen was the first to break the silence, his face twisted as he glared at the three of them.
"That's funny, being called a traitor from someone who has repeatedly spat in the face of the Lord of Gryffindor." Hermione countered swiftly, "tell me, McLaggen, do you know what that means or did you hear a big word and decide to use it to make yourself feel smarter."
There was a stunned surprise as everyone seemed unable to understand how passive, polite Hermione Granger hit back in such away. McLaggen sneered at her once he had recovered.
"Potter? Please, he's the biggest traitor of them all; clearly gone dark and shacking up with a the Slytherin, whoever it is."
"Ah I see so that makes him a traitor?" Ron clarified and there was a small mutter of agreement from the crowed though it wasn't a unanimous agreement thankfully.
"I suppose this is exactly like he was psychotic liar last year then." Neville wondered, "you know, when most of you turned on him despite the fact that Harry has never lied to any of you."
"Also like he was obviously the heir of Slytherin and attacking muggleborn students. You know, when you turned on him despite him having a muggleborn best friend and mother." Hermione added deadpanned.
"And of course he most definitely put his own name in the Goblet of Fire for fame and attention." Neville concluded, "despite being the single most famous teenage in our world and having an inheritance that includes the very castle we stand it."
"Ah yes, just like those times; its almost like Harry has consistently proven himself despite people being sheep unable to form their own opinions." Ron wondered sarcastically.
"You also turned on him with the Goblet." A 7th year next to McLaggen pointed out and Ron raised an eyebrow.
"Compulsion charms will do that to a fourth year."
There was a louder murmur throughout the room at that and a few people exchanged looks.
"A likely excuse; you just want to get us to ignore that Potter took up with a Slytherin and has gone dark."
"Shut up, McLaggen." Alicia Spinnett snapped at him, "you don't speak for our house."
"Explain things to us." This time it was Katie Bell who spoke, standing with the rest of the Quidditch team, "you're right. Too many times we're all decided to turn on Harry despite the fact that he's never done anything to any of us except be here. But unless we actually have information we can't make up our minds for ourselves to we have to go on what we hear and what we see."
"And Harry isn't here." Dean added, "none of us have properly seen him since last year, he's off the team and it's like he's vanished from Gryffindor only for this to come out today."
"We'll tell you what we can." Hermione agreed, "more information will have to wait until later."
"Why?" Dean asked and the three of them shared a grimace.
"Things are still dangerous for us right now." Ron admitted, "the reason Harry hasn't been here isn't through a choice of his own."
"So that thing about the love potion…?" Parvati asked sounding horrified.
"Believe it or not that was actually one of the lesser problems we've had." Hermione replied and there was an explosion of noise at that.
"But what could be worse than love potions for line-theft?" Lavender questioned wide eyed.
"Compelled suicide; forged wills; compulsion webs; magical core bindings: take your pick." Neville offered silencing the room. There was a pregnant pause while they digested that and many of the older years especially looked horrified.
"Many of the things that have happened around Harry, around us, have not been of our making or our own actions." Hermione explained, "you notice we don't even look the same? We've been made to act a certain way for so long we're still in the process of getting ourselves back in control and fix the things that have been broken."
"It was Dumbledore." Katie stated, "that's why you haven't done anything before now, you needed Dumbledore out of the school so you could act."
"Exactly; we would have never been able to even get to the Wizengamot with him still here. He can't track us without having the power of the Castle wards and with Harry being the Gryffindor Lord it gives him more safety here now that Dumbledore is out."
"That doesn't explain the shift to the dark, Potter have the Slytherin seat, nor your endorsing Lucius fucking Malfoy as Minister." Seamus pointed out disgusted.
"Tell me, Seamus, if you could think of a single person who could easily counter Dumbledore and would piss the old man off enough to throw him off his game; who would it be?" Neville inquired lightly and the Irishman grimaced.
"You say that but whatever you have going on doesn't take away from the damage someone like Malfoy could do in power, especially for muggleborns." Alicia pointed out, looking at Katie in concern.
"Do you really think we'd even consider him unless we had that covered already?" Hermione wondered looking slightly offended,
"How are we supposed to know? It looks to us as if you got a pureblood name and then threw us to the wolves." A girl Hermione didn't know, muggleborn by her words, called out looking disgruntled.
"Well that's not what's going on at all." Hermione stated firmly, "I can't give full details now as it's Harry's project, but there are things being put into play that should make the prejudices of muggleborns decrease if not outright disappear."
"That would be a laugh." The same girl scoffed, "that's like racism disappearing in the muggle world."
"Believe me or not, there's nothing I can do about that. I know Harry is working on it currently, he's just working on getting proof to shove down the supremacist throats and he's going to take joy in doing so."
"Proof of what?" Katie asked,
"Proof that there is no such thing as muggleborn." Hermione answered, "proof that the pureblood supremacists have been creating their own problems and what can be done to fix it."
The common room erupted into conversation over that claim. Hermione, Ron and Neville didn't try to stop them as it was such a wild claim, which is why they didn't want to say too much right now until Harry had what he needed.
"And when is this proof going to be available?" Katie wondered looking interested.
"We're going to be talking to Harry tomorrow about things like this; we knew it was going to be a concern if Malfoy actually got in." Ron replied, "but we have Malfoy by the balls; we put him in power and we can remove him just as easily."
"Which is why we need some patience and some, if not support then neutrality from you before you decide to toss us to the wolves." Neville added, "we don't need attacks coming from here when we already have enough of them from outside forces."
"Fine, that can be done." Dean agreed, "that still doesn't answer Slytherin seat and the shift to the dark."
"You honestly think no-one from the light knew what Dumbledore was doing?" Neville scoffed, "my grandmother was one of his biggest enablers; and she put both Harry and I in Dumbledore's direct line of fire."
"We won't touch on my mother."
"Also, disregarding personal grievances, the so called 'light' policies are utterly repugnant." Hermione stated.
"How can you say that?"
"Are you mad?"
"Hey!" Alicia yelled over the din, "let her talk!"
"Thank you," Hermione offered her a nod. "Let me ask you all this; who was the best defence teacher we ever had? Not including this one."
"Everyone knows Professor Lupin was the best."
"I miss him."
"He was always so nice and helpful even if it wasn't defence."
"Exactly; now tell me why he had to leave? We found out he was a werewolf, sure, but that didn't suddenly make him a bad teacher so why?"
"Well… the Ministry and the Board didn't want a werewolf teaching?" Parvati offered somewhat unsure.
"Right, the current Ministry and current Board removed a perfectly good teacher from the school all for something he had no control over. There are many other laws restricting werewolves from jobs, marriage, basic medical treatments and now even a law that allows them to be actively hunted." Hermione continued.
"It's horrible, we get it. What's your point?" Seamus asked and Hermione raised an eyebrow at him.
"What orientation is our current government?"
There was a pause as realisation set over the room.
"Light." Alicia answered with a frown.
"You mentioned that you're worried about what Malfoy as Minister would do for muggleborns?" Neville repeated, "what exactly is so great for muggleborns now?"
"Muggleborns don't get anywhere in the Ministry, despite Dumbledore's preaching for equality there isn't a single muggleborn teacher here at Hogwarts, muggleborn's can own their own businesses but they can't get funding or sponsorship for them so they end up burning out before they get anywhere." Ron listed, "all of this is under the light leadership."
There was a wave of unease as a lot of the muggleborns exchanged looks as they realised the words were right, and the purebloods and halfbloods grimaces realising the truth that they hadn't noticed because of their blood.
"And that doesn't touch on the absolute mockery the light has made of our magic and our own holidays." Neville said in disgust.
"Holidays?" A tiny second year boy asked surprised, "witches and wizards have their own holidays?"
Neville motioned to the boy as the purebloods of the room frowned.
"Yeah kid, we do. But the light have deemed many of them dark and evil even if that couldn't be further from the truth." Ron said to him.
"How do you know they're not evil?"
"For the first thing; I can guarantee that most pureblood families still follow them unless they are staunchly light without question." Ron declared and there was a murmur of agreement from a lot of the purebloods in the room, even some halfbloods. "For the second; most other countries celebrate these holidays exclusively and they're still running strong – stronger than we are that's for sure."
"And what is probably the best and worst proof and the thing that really got me to think more on it when I was first discovering it; there are still muggles that practice these holidays." Hermione announced.
"How can that be?"
The last one came from McLaggen's group and Hermione shot them a poisonous look.
"Those who live in the muggle world; who has heard of Pagenism and it's practices."
Every muggleborn and halfblood raised in the muggle world raised their hands looking surprised and the purebloods gasped and burst into conversation.
"My aunt is a Pagen; we always used to do a Samhain ritual on Halloween when we stayed with her." Katie admitted, "you mean that Pagenism originates from the Wizarding world?"
"Back when the muggle and magical worlds weren't separated there was only one primary – I don't want to say religion but it'll have to do. It was only with the rise of Christianity and the denouncement of magic that made Pagenism fade as much as it did within the muggle world. Pagenism has always been a founding part of the magical world and it's only since the fall of Grindelwald and the rise of Dumbledore's power that they've fallen out of favour within the UK." Hermione lectured.
"Because of the decline in our holidays and Dumbledore culling many other of our magical practices we've fallen stagnant. Do you know a hundred years ago there was twice as many subjects, teachers, and staff members here at this school?" Ron reasoned, "this has all been under the so called 'light' orientation."
"We've done a lot of research on this, it isn't something we've done on a whim merely to get back at Dumbledore or whatever you're thinking. We've done this for the betterment of our world." Neville explained, "we've looked at policies, we've looked at the prior voting patterns, we've looked into it all. So while it may seem as if we've done this easily, we really haven't."
"Is there anywhere we can look these things up too?" Alicia asked looking like she was contemplating many things.
"It's not advertised but you can ask for a copy of any law or policy passed in open court; it's a mess but if you owl the Ministry for a copy of all voted policies on magical holidays or werewolves for example they'll send you everything available." Hermione explained, "if you want information on the holidays themselves then you'll need to find a pureblood who has the information in their family libraries as the texts are banned or you could get someone with a muggle connection to get books from the muggle world; they're quite similar when it comes down to explanations."
"You said that Harry would be coming back?" Katie confirmed and the three of them nodded.
"This is always going to be Harry's house, and he is the Lord of Gryffindor."
"Then I think it's about time we give him the benefit of the doubt." Alicia decided, "you've given us enough to think and research on, the least we can do is stay neutral until proven either way."
"Any more questions?" Neville wondered and there were heads shaking all around the room.
"Actually yeah." Lavender piped up, a sly grin on her face as she looked at Ron. "You and Zabini? Only the hottest Slytherin in the school; tell us everything!"
Many burst out laughing at that, Ron included and the final tensions drained from the room. The large crowd dispersed after that, breaking down into their usual friend groups while Hermione, Ron and Neville took a breath of relief. They moved up to the boys dorms where Hermione expanded Neville's bed so they could all sit comfortably and pulled the curtains closed.
"Well that could have been worse." Neville said and Ron snorted.
"I was expecting a lot worse."
"Me too." Hermione agreed, "but then it's not like we have a dumb house its just the usual sheep mentality."
"Also, last year was a shit show all over; they didn't have anything else to work on except the prophet." Neville pointed out, "not saying they should have jumped on the bandwagon but Dumbledore obviously wanted Harry isolated for whatever reason."
"Yeah, there is a lot of things Dumbledore has done that don't make any sense."
"We can add that to the list of things we need to figure out over the next couple of months." Neville said with a sigh, flopping back on his bed and throwing an arm over his eyes. He didn't for one second regret sticking with Harry, by Circe he wouldn't even have his own mind if it wasn't for his godbrother but sometimes the enormity of what they were attempting would sit heavy sometimes. Ignorance was bliss indeed. The sad thing was that he didn't have a choice either way, there was no doubt in his mind that he would have ended up dead in his previous situation anyway, and he wasn't going to lay down and die no matter how much Dumbledore wished it. There was too much to live for, and he was dedicated to doing the best for their world so any children he had would never had to go through anything like he had. Longbottoms were always fighters and he was no different.
"That list is always getting longer." Ron grumbled.
"At least we were able to distract them from the Slytherin seat." Hermione offered and Neville huffed a laugh
"Yeah thankfully because I had no idea how we were going to explain that one."
"Oh yeah that seat belongs to the Dark Lord and Harry is borrowing it for now to fuck with Dumbledore but also because the Dark Lord is lowkey declaring Harry is his and he trusts him completely."
The three of them paused before bursting out laughing slightly hysterically but it made them all feel better.
"Merlin I can't believe it was only this morning we actually went to the Wizengamot." Neville sighed refusing to move from where he was laid.
"Yeah it's been a long day." Hermione agreed, "which is why I'm getting an early night. Tomorrow is going to be another long one."
"You're right; I'd better write those letters tonight so I can catch Hedwig first thing. I wouldn't trust another owl given all things." Ron decided, "it's best to get them out the way."
"Probably for the best." Hermione conceded, "besides, we'll all probably forget tomorrow given all things."
"Come on then, let's leave Neville to sleep as I think he's half way there already." Ron laughed only half joking and Neville waved them off not denying his words.
"I'll leave the bed; you look comfortable." Hermione told him, accepting Ron's hand to help her up. "We'll see you bright and early."
Ron looked at Hermione, who looked like she was thinking heavily about something.
"What is it?"
"Did you ever imagine that when you ran in to save me from that troll this is how it would end up?" She wondered and Ron blinked before chuckling.
"Merlin in any and all thoughts I had about our futures back then none of them came even remotely close."
"Its mad to think that its only been 5 years."
"Do you ever think about the fact that if you hadn't become friends with us you'd probably be far away from all this drama?" Ron asked her quietly and Hermione whipped around to stare at him.
"What do you mean?"
"Me, Neville and Harry were always going to be in this situation – whether we discovered Dumbledore's manipulations or not – my mother got me involved before I even knew there was a situation to be involved in and Dumbledore set Harry and Neville up with the prophecy. You've only gotten involved because you are our friend, if you would have never spoken to us then there's a possibility that you'd have never drawn Dumbledore's attention."
"You can't say that." Hermione denied immediately, "we don't even know what Dumbledore wants, what his endgame is, so we can't say he wouldn't have turned his attention on me even if I wasn't friends with all of you."
"It was different when we thought it was a set up to get rid of the Dark Lord." She insisted, "we could have said firmly that, yes, I got sucked into the schemes because of my vicinity to all of you. But since we discovered the orphanage and the drain on the wards that goes back to before Dippett we can't even speculate what Dumbledore is aiming for."
"I suppose you're right." Ron relented somewhat begrudgingly and she smiled slightly.
"Even if I wasn't, even if you are correct and I'm here by proximity alone, I wouldn't regret it for a second." Hermione declared strongly, "you have been the best friends, siblings, I could have ever asked for or dreamed up. I would walk through a hundred of Dumbledore's twisted trials and disgusting manipulations all over again to stick with you all."
Ron wrapped his arms around the girl that was more of a sister than the one he had by blood and just held on to her for a moment as she squeezed him back.
"I'm glad I was awful to you so we had to save you from a troll." Ron mumbled into her hair and Hermione laughed at that as they came apart.
"You're an idiot Ronald Prewett but I love you for it."
Ron grinned at her.
"I'm going to bed; no doubt I'll be getting an interrogation when I get into the dorms."
"I'm surprised we haven't got one here but hopefully Dean and Seamus are okay for now."
"Wish me luck." Hermione joked, and Ron snickered.
"Give 'em Hel."
The red head watched as Hermione left the dorms before moving over to his trunk to pull out some parchment, a quill and a book to lean on before kicking the trunk shut and climbing into bed behind his curtains. He couldn't help but think on Hermione's words. As much as he hated it, as much as Dumbledore had ruined aspects of his life and irrevocably changed his outlook on life and people, Ron agreed with her. He didn't for one second regret being friends with Harry. It may have been pushed on him and it may have dragged him into situations he'd never have been in if Harry wasn't around, but he had the greatest set of friends anyone could have asked for.
Things were so different now. Eleven year old him would have never imagined being Lord, by Circe sixteen year old him could barely believe it and he was living it. Everything he had been brought up to believe had been twisted in some way and Ron knew deep in his heart that he would never forgive or forget what his parents had done. It wasn't even the actions against him and his friends, it was the fact that they had torn apart what had been a good childhood before he had been forcefully woken up to the lies.
His mother especially had tainted every memory he had ever had with his family and that was something he'll never quite get over. Ron sighed, looking down at his parchment wondering what he was going to say to his brothers. He wanted to trust them, he wanted them to be just like the twins, or better yet completely unknowing of the situation, but he'd never trust a member of his family again without them being vetted.
So much had happened in such a short amount of time and Ron didn't know how to put that into words without giving them anything to work with if they were working for Dumbledore. He huffed and decided to be blunt about it.
I don't know what you've seen or heard about recent happenings back home, but if you care about me even a little don't listen to anything mum has to say. There are things going on that are bigger than you could ever believe.
If you've seen the news I swear I can explain, whether you like that explanation is down to you but I can't do anything about that.
If mum asks you haven't heard from me; she cannot be trusted.
Send my best to Fleur/the dragons
He tapped the parchment to dry them before rolling them up to be sent the next day, there wasn't much more he could do and he wasn't willing to put anything of actual importance in the letters just in case. It wasn't just his own neck he was risking. Ron laid down to try and get some sleep even if his mind continued to turn over. There were so many things that he didn't know or understand despite everything they had uncovered and he wondered if he would ever get a full explanation.
The things his mother and Ginny had done alone baffled him; Molly obviously knew about him taking the Lordship as she had obliviated him once before over it so it couldn't just be about money surely? Ginny was unfortunately a product of circumstance, but at the same time, she had been taught right from wrong as they had all been and decided that her wants were better.
Ron knew they weren't the best examples, all three of them had blood on their hands but all of their actions had been in response to a situation Dumbledore had put them in or in defence of another. Even the auror troupe Harry had taken out a few months ago were to save the wolves. It upset him more than he cared to admit that he couldn't say for sure which direction Bill and Charlie were going to lean towards, and as for Percy? Who knew with him. He had always been incredibly selfish, he was the most Slytherin of them all and Ron didn't use that as a compliment. He would sell them all out to better himself without cause or hesitation, as he showed last year, but now Ron was left questioning if it was everything he had seen on the surface or had Percy discovered something that Molly and Dumbledore couldn't cover up in time?
Was it even worth writing to him to ask? Percy was about the last thing Ron wanted to deal with on top of everything. They had to plan for the effects on the latest Wizengamot session, they had fundamentally changed things to a degree that hadn't been seen in decades and now things were going to have to been taken on a session by session basis. It would effect all of their future plans.
The bonus was they had Malfoy as the Minister now so they had to make sure his campaign was some of their best work because losing the elections would be a blow that would take months, possibly over a year, to recover from. It wasn't like they could immediately murder the elected Minister to keep Malfoy in power, it would be way too obvious, and as Scrimegeor was running against him they didn't have a hope of using the Imperius to get control of him if he did win. Ron sighed to himself and turned over trying to will himself to sleep.
It was no use ruminating over what they needed to do without knowing exactly what that was, knowing their luck they'd have several more things to deal with by the time the meeting came around. At least he wouldn't have to deal with people throwing themselves at him for his title like, Harry, Hermione and Neville, Ron thought of Blaise's rather dramatic kiss in front of the school. If he had any insecurities over their relationship in regards to it being hidden they were well and truly dashed by that alone. He should have known really; Blaise had introduced him to his mother and told him all the time that he couldn't wait until he could show everyone they were together. Still it was nice to be reminded.
The rest of them were going to have a hell of a time and Harry was going to be spending half his time calming down a homicidal Dark Lord on top of everything else. Ron was pleased his best friend had managed get his happiness but he wondered if he could have settled for someone less concerning for the health of everyone around them and then he scoffed. Who else was going to keep up with Harry at the end of the day? Hermione was probably going to be in a full relationship with Rabastan come the end of the week, the younger of the Lestrange brothers was unlikely to be happy with the uptake in attention Hermione was about to receive and then she'd been in a similar situation to Harry.
Neville was the only one completely unattached so they would have to watch him. Ron'd have to remind Harry to have Dobby or Winky watch Neville's food as well as Luna's in case of others attempting love potions on the Longbottom Lord. They didn't have to worry about Luna, Harry's declaration of her being his sister in the entrance hall would keep most people away and the ones daring enough to try would be a visual representation of exactly why they weren't good enough for Luna. Ron groaned to himself sitting up and rubbing his hands over his face trying to shut his brain up with little success.
The eccentric house elf popped in beaming.
"What can Dobby bes doing for Master Harry Potter's Ron?"
"Can you grab me a sleeping potion out of Draco's stores? Let me give you a note to leave in it's place." Ron asked, summoning a scrap of parchment, quickly scrawling a note to Draco and handing it to the elf.
"Right away, sir."
Dobby popped away and was back before Ron had put his quill away.
The elf beamed at him once again before popping back to wherever he was before this and Ron shook his head, he'd never understand house elves but he thought they were great. He downed the potion, grimacing at the taste, and put the phial on his bedside table and laid back down. Hopefully that would settle his brain, Hermione was right, they had another long day coming and they needed their wits about them. Merlin he hoped Blaise and Draco were getting on as well as they did with the Slytherins.
Blaise wondered not for the first time exactly how quickly it would be linked back to him if he used some of his mothers magics to cull a few of the more brainless Slytherins. There was a possibility that he was going to need it. He and Draco didn't have the benefit of a long walk to a tower to plan their attack for the Slytherin House politics they were going to be inundated with, so they'd prepped what they could knowing that they'd never be able to cover all angles anyway.
Draco had sarcastically wondered if it was going to be his father's Minister's position that was going to take up the most time or Harry using the Slytherin seat and unfortunately he was right to be concerned. The moment they stepped foot in to the Slytherin common room it became apparent they had been waited for. Oh it wasn't obvious to an outsider, however, all of the fifth year and above students were in the common room while the younger years were tucked away, and there wasn't a single piece of homework out.
Blaise had made his way to his fellow 6th years with Draco by his side, they sat down and got comfortable pulling out books and waited; they weren't about to make things easy. There was low talking in the room clearly about the paper and a few less than stealthy side eyes were thrown in their direction before Ignatius Hawkthawn finally got up and came over to them.
The male leader of Slytherin House with Selene Gage as his female counterpart, Hawkthawn was the son of an Ancient and Esteemed House, the same level as House Peverell, and if he had been the heir he would have been the clear leader of the Slytherin House without question as soon as he reached 7th year. However being the third born son came with the downside of having his place potentially challenged when the heirs of Houses Malfoy, Nott and Greengrass appeared.
Daphne had ceded her placement as female leader of their year group back in first year to Pansy having no wish to rule Slytherin, rather preferring to watch with Davis has her unquestionably loyal sidekick. With Pansy's removal and the House Parkinson's fall from Grace the position had fallen back on the Ice Queen of Slytherin and she had made her place clear and concise. That probably went a long way in settling Slytherin House over the past couple of months; their year had pissed a lot of their House off due to the constant battles with the Gryffindors.
Draco had easily taken the lead position for their year, and while in his early years he didn't have the knowledge or power to challenge Hawkthawn for the leader position he could have done so from fifth year, and now with Lucius' placement as the Minister that was all the more apparent. On the other hand, their public declaration of their alliance of Harry Potter could go against him if they didn't handle this correctly. Blaise wasn't particularly fussed for himself, he had more power internationally than he had right now in the UK and until he took over House Zabini he's was merely along for the pleasure of watching the games.
Of course, what the rest of Slytherin House was yet to find out was just how high up on the food chain Harry Potter was these days, and honestly that was going to be the piest de resistance. It probably spoke to his inner sadist that he wanted some idiot Slytherins to push Harry, especially a Dark aligned idiot, because there was no doubt in Blaise' mind that the Dark Lord would soon do something to introduce Harry and the rest of his group as Dark allies and Blaise was always up for some entertainment.
He was paying attention to the conversation between Draco and Hawkthawn by not paying attention, he didn't doubt that Draco could handle himself so he focused more on the rest of the common room who were all listening in. Some of them weren't even subtle about it.
"You understand the ramifications of having an open alliance with someone like Potter-Black, of course." Hawkthawn was saying finally getting to the part that most of the people in the room actually cared about. The atmosphere in the common room changed instantly and even those who were putting on a good show of not listening stopped to pay full attention. Draco didn't take his eyes off of Hawkthawn, adjusting his position so he could lean back and fold his legs almost carelessly in a very calculated so of ease.
"I don't believe you understand the just what has changed with Potter-Black coming into the open as he has done." Draco countered easily. "
"But you do? It hasn't escaped anyone's notice that both you and Zabini knew this was coming." Hawkthawn pointed out, "the original de-escalation of dramatics of your year group with the Gryffindors – Potter-Black in particular – could and was brushed off with the removal of heiress Parkinson. Now, however, it is more apparent that you have been working with Potter-Black since September at minimum."
"I won't deny it."
"Your justification? Outside politics aside, Potter-Black is a known enemy of this House for his blatant disregard of Slytherin House and his continued attacks on us."
"Ah but outside politics must be taken into consideration in this case." Draco told him calmly, "as it is very much outside politics that has caused such a shift."
"Oh?" Hawkthawn sounded sceptical and the blond sighed almost pityingly.
"Tell me, what major shift has happened recently that could have effected Potter-Black's behaviour in this school?"
Hawkthawn raised an eyebrow regarding Draco coolly.
"Dumbledore's removal. You believe there is more to their separation that what has been breached within the papers."
"We know there is." Draco confirmed, "we know it is no mere separation but an irrevocable break in allegiance."
"An allegiance that wasn't compelling enough to hold onto." Blaise murmured slyly, smirking in amusement when his words sent a wave of murmurs through the room. Draco shot him a look filled with levity before his eyes went back to Hawkthawn, who looked to be doing some rapid fire thinking.
"Have we ever met with Potter-Black?" He asked slowly and Draco smirked.
"Ah," Hawkthawn shared a look with Gage, who had remained on the far side of the room for the length of the conversation before nodding. "the until we meet him we cannot make an informed decision on how your actions have affected the House."
"No you cannot." Draco agreed, "and as I have much to focus on elsewhere currently I do not believe it will cause any considerable issues."
Which was Draco telling everyone that there would be no play for leadership on his part for now. Pointed looks and low conversations erupted around them as the rest of Slytherin House took in the meaning behind those words and Blaise almost shook his head over the increased level of scrutiny Harry was about to get from the Slytherin House; he bet the green eyed menace decided to be as Harry-ish as possible to fuck with them.
"I see," Hawkthawn have Draco a piercing look before rising to his feet with a nod. "Congratulations on your father's promotion, Heir Malfoy."
"My gratitude, Mr Hawkthawn."
Draco looked at Blaise as the leader of the Slytherin House slipped away but Blaise shook his head slightly, eyes flicking to the left slightly where the Slytherin crest resided proudly on display. The main question had yet to be asked and it was going to be a dark inclined House that would do it, it just depended on which House as to how this conversation was going to go.
Blaise blinked once, the only show of surprise he allowed himself, when it was Astrid Rowle that took Hawkthawn's place in front of Draco. The blond's eyebrow twitched but his face otherwise betrayed nothing as he returned her blank look with one of his own. Rowle was a very misleading figure: she was slight, and fair, and looked more like a doll than anything else, but she was a vicious opponent both with a wand and without. It was an open secret that she was set to take over the heirship of the Rowle House upon her graduation, her older brother Tyrrin was not the most politically minded and preferred to spend his time on the duelling ring rather than in the political one.
The House itself was also loyal to not only the Dark but to the Dark Lord; she knew exactly who the Slytherin House belonged to. Neither blond seemed as if they wanted to start the conversation and this time Blaise knew that Draco would speak first; Astrid had more patience than most of the Slytherin House combined. He wasn't disappointed:
"Ask the question." Draco told her. She remained quiet for a moment longer before gracefully inclining her head.
"Your pretty words about Potter-Black are one thing; whether we believe you or not it doesn't matter because we are unlikely to receive the whole picture. But his claim on the Slytherin Proxy can only mean one thing."
"Only one?" Draco wondered somewhat sarcastically and she raised an unimpressed eyebrow that didn't phase the Malfoy Heir in the slightest.
"It's a taunt." She stated evenly.
"Yes; the real question is who it was aimed at."
"And what is your speculation regarding this theory?" Draco inquired lightly.
"Is it a taunt for the old fool, to wave in his face something he dreads to have happened? To indicated that there is no return to being the Golden Boy, a permanent separation and an open declaration." She postulated, head tilted slightly as she watched Draco for any indication that she may be right.
"Or is it a taunt for the one that seat belongs to? A show of what could be taken and what can be used; a warning of what's to come."
"Conquer or conquest." Draco surmised.
"The first, of course, could be a boon depending on who Potter-Black is. It would be more than a step for us in way it has not been for many years." Astrid mused before a cold look came over her face and her tone went frosty. "The second would be an outright insult fit for someone of the intelligence of Dumbledore's Golden boy and made a bigger enemy."
"Then you wait for word to be spread." Draco pointed out, "You'll know soon enough."
"You will not confirm."
"You will not believe."
"Ah but that in itself is an answer." She stated, a slight smirk curling on to her face and Draco merely raised an eyebrow not giving anything away.
"The negotiation for such an alliance would have been something to see; Potter-Black must have more to offer than first believed."
For the first time since either of them arrived in the common room a real expression came to Draco's face in the form of a rather savage grin as he threw his head back and laughed.
"Oh you have no idea."
"The… alliance is something to see." Blaise agreed sharing an amused glance with Draco.
"There will be further changes than believed then,"
"There already have been," Draco assured, a smirk remaining on his face, "there is more going on than anyone can possibly comprehend."
"But if you wish to try something with Potter-Black please do inform me beforehand so I can prepare myself." Blaise put in slyly and he saw Draco bite back a rather undignified snort, the blond shaking his head instead.
"The we too shall wait." Rowle decided, "and if you're wrong…"
"That's for you to decide on."
"It's a dangerous game you're playing, Heir Malfoy."
"It's only dangerous when you don't know the rules." He dismissed and she nodded once before turning to Blaise with a raised eyebrow.
"What's your stake in this, Zabini?" She asked outright and Blaise barked a laugh.
"I like games, they're entertaining." He told her. "Especially when the win will be exquisite."
"Is mine." He stated coldly, all traces of levity leaving his face. Normally he wouldn't allow himself to show such an obvious 'weakness' but honestly he kind of wished one of the Slytherins went for Ron. Even if he removed himself from the situation, if there was anything left of them when the red head had finished of them there really wouldn't be once Harry was done. Potter-Black took an attack on his people worse than an attack on his own person and Blaise was just twisted enough to want to see someone with that much magical power lose it.
"A very entertaining game." Astrid mused and Blaise bared his teeth in an approximation of a grin.
"No one else will think so if they go that route." He assured her.
"You've made your choice."
"It wasn't difficult."
"I'm sure we will all witness the consequences." She acknowledged standing up, "it will be a fall out to remember either way."
Blaise watched her go, eyes flicking around to take in the reactions of the other students that had parents who followed the Dark Lord and he could tell some of them were still unconvinced. Draco had obviously seen the same thing because a smirk touched his face before he picked his bag up and motioned towards the dorms. Blaise gathered his own things and followed him up, thankful that he and Draco had been assigned a room together for once; the blonde could be a diva to live with and there were only so many times he could walk in while the twins were there without going mad.
"And Travers," Blaise confirmed, "both out of attendance of the balls this Yule for various reasons."
"You think the Act will be released before they make a move?" Draco wondered dropping down on his bed with a groan.
"I really hope not."
"You are a sadistic bastard." Draco laughed and Blaise smirked.
"We have so many options! Do they go straight for Snake, and deal directly with him and then a pissed off Dark Lord? Do they go after Ron and Hermione? Where they then have to deal with both of them, then myself and Rabastan, and then a pissed off Harry? Do they try all three?" Blaise sighed in relish, "someone is going to get hurt."
"If we weren't friends I'd be scared of you." Draco informed him seriously and Blaise snickered.
"Mamma says it's better to be feared than laughed at."
"Blaise your mother is terrifying." The blond deadpanned and Blaise smiled at him with obnoxious sweetness.
"Aw thanks Draco, she'll be so pleased."
"Ugh I despise you." Draco complained, "I'm going to bed; tomorrow is going to be a nightmare."
"Speak for yourself, I can't wait to see the Wizengamot memory."
"Yes, wonderful, and then we follow it by planning the takeover of our country; no pressure."
"You are very negative, Draco." Blaise taunted and the blond threw him a look of disgust.
"We're going to be under inspection from the very moment we leave this room tomorrow until the Dark Lord makes the announcement of the alliance, and even then it doesn't mean the scrutiny will leave us only lessen."
"We're taking over the country, Draco, their opinions are eventually going to mean absolutely nothing to us." Blaise waved off, "besides, this will be your House next year which means we have at a push five to six months left."
"And if I get challenged?"
"By who exactly?" Blaise questioned with a scoff, "there isn't a House than can match up and you'll wipe the floor with anyone else."
Blaise couldn't help but roll his eyes and the blond's concern. Draco got like this every now and then and Blaise often wondered how the Malfoy Heir lived with the dichotomy of being so arrogant people often wanted to curse him repeatedly and being an anxious mess. Blaise got dizzy over it so who knew how Draco felt. He wasn't wrong however, they would be monitored until the Acts were released and the Dark Lord confirmed the alliance.
Unlike Draco, Blaise was looking forward to tomorrow eagerly. He'd plan to continuously remind everyone that Ron belonged to him just to make sure there was no mistake in people's minds and, something Draco seemed to have forgotten, there was bound to be another paper which was going to stir up the cauldron once again. He'd have to write to his mother tomorrow, she was bound to get a kick out of the mess that was currently happening within the UK and she always had valuable insights for him.
Blaise was thankful he had insisted on joining Draco when he had noticed the blond acting out of character back before Yule, this was the most entertainment he'd had in years, and as he had told Rowle the win was set to be more than he could ever achieve on his own. Blaise laid back on his bed with a smirk and closed his eyes, the next couple of months were set to be fantastic.
Never before had he felt such rage burn through his veins. It was life fire and he found it difficult to breathe through such feelings, his magic swirling and destroying things around him beyond his control. He hadn't lost control to such a degree since he had been a young man, but today years of planning had imploded before his eyes and there was nothing he could do about it. What was worse, he, Albus Dumbledore, didn't even know when exactly all his work had been destroyed and that was unacceptable.
The last couple of months had been blow after blow and he'd thought upon his return to Britain he'd be able to start doing some severe damage control. The opening session of the Wizengamot allowed him to witness the aftermath of the Yule season and steer the Ministry in the direction he wanted for the year. The return of Theodore Nott Sr had been a surprise, there must have been something that happened over Yule for him to return, but in the grand scheme of things it was nothing Dumbledore needed to be concerned over.
What followed, however, was the worst possible scenario Dumbledore could have imagined. He was unsuspecting and unprepared, and worst till, he had allowed it to show to the world. His mind had span over the possibilities of how and, more importantly, when the spells and potions had failed; he had been informed that Ginevra had received the Potter Promise ring as a gift for Christmas after all. The four of them, Potter, Weasley, Granger and Longbottom looked as if they belonged in the Wizengamot, that wasn't something that had been recovered in a mere couple of days which meant somewhere along the line Dumbledore had gotten complacent.
But what had made Dumbledore go cold down to his bones was Potter's claiming of the Slytherin Seat followed by the hint that he had joined Tom. How could this have happened? There had been no hint of such a thing occurring, and Tom was outright insane so how had they even had the opportunity to meet? Then as if the key players of his work being ripped away from his hadn't been enough the despicable cretins had succeeded in getting Lucius Malfoy, the embodiment of slippery, in as Interim Minister destroying the months of groundwork Dumbledore had put in to get Scrimgeor into that position. And throughout all of this he hadn't known it was coming.
Even confronting the foolish brats after the session hadn't granted him answers only that they knew he had spelled them. Dumbledore knew he could have handled the confrontation better, he could have handled the whole session better, but he had been playing catch up from the moment they had arrived and it had shaken him more than he liked to admit. He had put in so many years of work into using them as cornerstones of his plan and now it was destroyed in such a way that he wouldn't be able to recover it without utterly reworking everything.
They had created the perfect situation to safeguard themselves and Dumbledore was loathe to admit it but he'd been played. No word had come from the Dark side, but Dumbledore was at least expecting that as he doubted Tom would trust any of his followers with the knowledge he was working with Harry Potter of all people. Dumbledore hadn't been distracted enough not to see that Lucius had been surprised by his nomination. He'd have to push his people within the Dark to look for traces of Potter. Severus may have been his most prominent spy, but he was by far from his only one, and in this case he would have to convince Severus the priority it was to force Potter back to the light.
It didn't escape his memory that Severus had not sworn a vow to him but to protect the brat, so if Potter stayed within the Dark then he would lose Severus forever and the potions master had been invaluable over the years sometimes in ways he was not aware of.
"Have you calmed yourself yet?" A cool voice to his left brought Dumbledore out of his musings. He took a deep breath and fortified his Occlumency shields forcing his magic to settle as he regained himself.
"Today has been… trying." He turned to face the other man, who was regarding him with a touch of amusement that Dumbledore didn't really appreciate.
"You have always put too much stock in your little games, Albus."
"My little games had be all but ruling that country for five decades, Wendt." Dumbledore bit out.
"And I warned you that there was always going to be a chance that it would unravel." Wendt pointed out carelessly.
"We agreed that the plan was necessary." Dumbledore snapped and Wendt waved him off.
"For the initial build up." He brushed off, "it was never meant to be permanent. Your powerbase was for-,"
"I am well aware of what it was for." Dumbledore growled, glaring at the other man, "and the set up was wound up, ready for the fall out."
"So we have to improvise a little now. You've already done enough there for it to be of little consequence."
"Do not underestimate them-,"
"Like you have?" Wendt inquired lightly, "I told you they should have been dealt with but you wanted to play your games, Albus."
"The outcome from the first was better than either of us could have predicted. It was worth it." Dumbledore stated and the other nodded.
"It was, I don't disagree,"
"I still need to maintain my presence there until it is truly impossible." Dumbledore decided, "there has been to much work put in just to scrap it all. There are still things we need there."
"Then you need to stop playing for the whole country and focus on the prize." Wendt told him seriously, "you've laid enough groundwork for them; his sanity is shot you need to have patience."
"Very well." Dumbledore agreed and Wendt flashed him a grin.
"Now you need to get ready to meet with your disciples. Come on, I want to see the beard again, Albus."
"Must you insist on mocking me every time I do this?" Dumbledore sighed, shaking his head even as he waved his wand in a complex pattern over his head.
"The kindly grandfather routine tickles me."
"It is effective." Dumbledore countered, "and easy to underestimate."
"What will you tell your Order?" Wendt questioned and Dumbledore gave him a smirk.
"Why the truth of course. The boy and his little friends have gone dark; they've betrayed us all."
Wendt barely bit back a snort.
"I'm sure they'll lap that up."
"Despite recent events I am good at what I do."
"Oh I know; it just amuses me the truth you weave between your lies, Albus." Wendt shook his head, "I shall keep an ear out when I return to work to see the international ramifications; I do not wish to act in a way that will damage my position given all things."
"Good, I am sure there will be talk, there always is, but we should be able to contain it." Dumbledore acknowledged, "the lack of international relations will see to that."
"Then go, I shall call ours and apprise them of the situation." Wendt told him, "keep me updated."
"I shall." Dumbledore nodded to the other man before aparating away finally fully calm with a plan in mind. It would be too easy to convince the Order that Potter and his friends had gone Dark because they had done it for him. He could play off his reaction as betrayal to them, and those who were in the know of his plans for the brat would have the story edited slightly. Molly was going to be furious no doubt, but that was something that could be managed, he would just promise her something or somebody else for her daughter.
Without his position in Hogwarts finding any information about the brat and his friends would be difficult, especially if they had discovered just how involved Ginevra had been, so Dumbledore would have to find someone else to integrate with them. Right now he had to collect as much information as he could and he had to put the Order to work before those not involved with all his plans started asking questioned they didn't need the answer to. This was a setback but he was Albus Dumbledore and he would not be deterred from his goals.
He had been playing this game for far longer than the brat and his friends, and he would not allow everything he had worked for be destroyed by children who had no idea the true scale of the board. No, this situation was problematic, but not unfixable. He would prevail, he had to.
There we have it, a different perspective of everything that's been going on and a little mysterious look into what Dumbledore is up to. Let me know what you think – I always love hearing from you guys.