Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler


Canon Notes: This story will be now be labeled pre-HBP, taking place in my version of Harry Potter's seventh year, based on all the events of the first five books. As for book 6, most of the content of this story is different. I will be taking the information on Tom Riddle into account, the Horcruxes, some of the spells and small events out of HBP, but the majority of this story will be in an Alternate Reality (AU).

In addition, I did not describe Blaise as black in this story, since it is a small detail; I could go back and describe him as black. However, I earlier envisioned him as a dark Italian, and I have decided not to change my depiction. Furthermore, since this story takes place in Harry’s 7th year, the events described as flashbacks of 6th year obviously didn't happen in canon.

Feedback Notes: Wow, the number of reviews I received overwhelmed me. I almost gave up this story after the HBP came out. However, my faithful readers have persuaded me not to, and so I will continue it as I once envisioned it, and will try not to let HBP influence my story too much.

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Copyright: This plot/story is ©2004 - 2012 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the characters that are in this story, they are the property of J.K. Rowling. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

Questions Asked by Readers: What does Caesius mean? Caesius is Latin for “blue-gray,” especially eyes. Many people in fan fiction have described Draco as having silver eyes with a bit of blue in them, and I liked that combination. My friend Jayson gave me the name so it is his idea. Thanks!

Have a question, or want to provide private feedback? Email me at:

Chapter 2 Recap:

In Chapter 2, Harry joined the band, Spectrum, after using several charms to change his appearance, because he believed that he would never have been allowed to join if they had known his real identity. The band consists of two Slytherins, one Gryffindor, and one Hufflepuff, hence the name Spectrum. As well, Harry spoke with Professor Dumbledore, who made him feel guilty for not revealing his true identity to Draco.

Even though he feels guilty, Harry has convinced himself that by telling his band mates his secret, they would either kick him out, or expect him to lead them to fame and fortune based solely on his reputation. Fearing rejection, Harry has no idea who to turn to, since not even Ron nor Hermione know that he’s in the band. To add to Harry’s quandary, he has not yet met his pen pal, so he has no idea how his new friendship with Draco will affect his relationship with Caesius.

As Harry spends an increasing amount of time with Draco during band practice, it becomes easier to accept that Draco has never been the stuck-up git Harry always imagined.

However, Harry believes that Draco is more comfortable around him because he *isn't* Harry Potter. With memories of his discussion with the headmaster coming to mind, if Draco knew the truth, it would ruin everything.

One day, Harry slips up, accidentally leaving his folder of songs in the music room where he used to practice. Alerted when someone enters the room while he’s not there, Harry confronts Draco, finding the boy with the songbook he left behind. Angry that Draco has read words Harry never intended to share, he almost reveals himself; instead, he effectively creates a diversion, relieved that Draco didn’t pursue the issue.

Only time will tell what will happen, stay tuned!

Chapter 3 - The Concert

It was still several days before Halloween and the scheduled concert, but Harry was a nervous wreck. 'What if I forget the spells, and can't change my appearance? What will I do if I forget the words to the songs? What will happen if the spells wear off during the concert if I do remember them? What if Draco catches the slip, and boots me out of the band?’ Harry groaned. 'Okay. Stop panicking. You’re not going to let anything like that happen. You’ve stood up to a Dark Wizard every year since you were eleven, so surely you can pull off a mere concert!'

Harry needed someone to talk to about his insecurities, so he decided that the best therapy was to write Caesius. Caesius always made him feel better. Only, Harry was beginning to feel a little bit guilty about his new friendship with Draco. He wasn’t sure if Caesius would be jealous of the friendship or not. The truth was, Harry found the “new” Draco to be much more intriguing than he ever thought possible. Draco could be witty and extremely charming, and Harry had recently discovered how good-looking the other boy had become. Draco’s once-pointy face had developed a strong, well-formed chin. His hair was longer now and he wore it pulled back in a silver ribbon. There were times when Harry did a double take looking at Draco. Sometimes it would take several moments to make sure that Lucius wasn’t the one standing next to him during band practice.

Shaking his head, Harry walked over to his trunk and pulled out a piece of parchment, ink, and a quill. It was time that Harry did something for himself for a change, forgetting the consequences for once. He was a Gryffindor, and he was going to act like one, by boldly rushing into the situation and taking what he wanted.

After he finished the letter, Harry leaned out of the window and blew the special whistle that Caesius had given him. Moments later, Arrow flew into Gryffindor tower, and Harry sent him off, carrying the new letter. Putting away his writing tools, he went down to dinner. He was nervous now, but for a different reason, and he hoped that Caesius would finally put him out of his misery. Harry had to find out soon who Caesius was, or he feared that his attention would begin to focus on Draco, who he was certain wanted nothing to do with the “real” Harry.

Draco Malfoy was in the music room, trying to write a new song, but it wasn't turning out quite the way that he had planned. Frustrated, Draco threw down his quill and sighed. It wasn't like him to feel this sort of anxiety. He was now mostly without a family, or any sort of support system, and he had no one he could really turn to in a time of need. Most of his so-called friends had pulled away from him after his father died. He had realized the truth the hard way: that the only reason most of the Slytherins had appeared to be his friends was due to his father’s influence. It had hurt when he realized that the only ones who hadn't totally deserted him were Blaise and Daphne. Of course, one of the main reasons they were still friends was because no one in either of their families was a Death Eater, which meant that they didn't have anyone to influence them to drop his, Draco’s, friendship. Blaise had become his closest friend during the last year and a half. Draco was glad he had convinced Blaise to join him in his dream.

Draco knew he couldn't get a decent job when he got out of school. His family name had deteriorated so much that even the news that Lucius Malfoy had assisted the Ministry by providing them with names of other Death Eaters did not help. Draco had thought of playing professional Quidditch or perhaps becoming an Auror, but he sincerely doubted he would have either option. There would always be those who would doubt his sincerity. Therefore, he had turned to his greatest love: music. Music would help him be someone, but it would all depend on how well the band played at their concerts. Draco had asked Professor Dumbledore to give his permission for the group to play at the Three Broomsticks on Hogsmeade weekends, and possibly one extra weekend if Madame Rosmerta was agreeable to the arrangement. This would all depend, of course, on how the band was received after their first concert. It hadn't taken much to convince her that live music would draw an even bigger crowd, although she was coming to the Halloween concert at the school to hear them before she made her final decision. Dumbledore was a bit harder to convince than Madame Rosmerta was. He made Draco promise to be careful, that the group came back to the castle before dark, and that they would take an escort. Draco didn't really mind the last stipulation, because it was common knowledge now that his father had betrayed the Dark Lord, and he might be a target.

On the opposite side of the school, and many floors above, Harry was doing his homework alone. Ron was off with his girlfriend, Daphne, and Hermione was with Fred in the library. Now that his friends had paired off, it was a typical weekend for Harry. He shrugged as he finished off his Potions essay and headed up to his room to retrieve his father's cloak. He wanted to work on some new song ideas in the music room before band practice. It was just a few days before the Halloween concert, and he needed to practice his song a bit more anyway. Harry found it rather amusing that Draco hadn't noticed the significance of the very personal song Pawn. The song was something that only someone whose life was a great deal like Harry Potter’s could have written. Luckily, it seemed that Draco was too distracted to notice, and so Harry’s cover was still safe.

Just as Harry was about to throw the cloak over his head, he heard the hoot of an owl and saw Arrow fly in the window. Harry smiled. 'Well, hopefully that's a good sign. He sent a response quickly; I just hope I don't have too much longer to wait to meet him.’ Unrolling the parchment, he began to read.


I understand what you mean. There have been many people in my life that I thought I knew, only to find out years later that I didn’t really know them at all. Take you for example. Along with the majority of the Wizarding World, I was brought up believing that your Muggle relatives adored you, and that you had everything you could ever want. That you lived like a King and that was why you broke so many rules at Hogwarts.

After reading your letters, I realize now how untrue that statement is. Your parents, killed when you were a baby. Your godfather, sent to Azkaban for a murder he didn't commit. And you were forced to live with people who thought you were unnatural and a freak. Personally, I don't know how I would have survived that, myself. I think it's amazing how well you turned out, being that you’re the product of that kind of environment.

It is too bad that many people will never know the truth. Maybe when you’re older, you should have someone write a book about your life - you could finally set the record straight, and perhaps get some peace. Just don't let it be one of the Creevey brothers, I don’t think they would do you justice. I find their fan club utterly ridiculous. When will they get a clue that you don't want one?

Anyway, I want to thank you for finally answering my questions. I know that it is hard to trust someone you don't know, and I’m glad to see that you have finally decided to extend that privilege to me. I think I have made you suffer enough, Harry. I want to meet you, on November 7th at midnight in the Astronomy tower. Please say you will come, Harry. I have to tell you in person how I feel.

Yours truly,


P.S. Don't forget to take off the necklace for dueling class tomorrow. I don't think you should have an unfair advantage when you need to be practicing shield charms. By the way, below is a list of charms that are on the necklace. I have seen Ms. Granger trying to get a pass to the restricted section to research them. It might be helpful if she knows what she’s looking for:

Repelus – Repels hexes

Caudex – Blocks curses and jinxes, making them bounce back to their caster

Gustos – A powerful shield charm that encases the user in a shield, protecting them from harm

Defendere – Defends against Dark and unfriendly spells

Harry beamed. Caesius was finally going to tell him who he was! Ecstatic, Harry quickly penned a reply and sent it off. His answering note wasn't very long, but Harry hoped it conveyed the right amount of need and happiness. Putting away his writing materials, he put his cloak on and wandered down the stairs towards the practice room.

As Harry walked down the halls, the Knut that he carried in his pocket began vibrating again. The Knut was a part of a door alarm that went off when the ward around the band room was tripped. The alarm had first gone off while he was writing his reply to Caesius. Pulling back into the shadows, he set the Knut to ‘identify’ and noticed that Draco had entered earlier. Pulling back into a nearby secret passageway, Harry quickly cast his spells to become Anton before walking into the practice room.

Clearing his throat, Harry moved further into the room. Draco started slightly at the sound and looked up from his work.

"Hello, Anton,” Draco whispered quietly.

"Hi, Draco, what's the matter? You look a little down," Harry said.

"Oh, not down. More like, I’m nervous. This concert needs to go well, or we may not get anywhere as a band. Even if we don't go anywhere, I bet you could do it without us, Anton,” Draco said in reply.

Harry chuckled softly. "Draco, I couldn't do much without a band. You’re being too hard on yourself. Of course, I think you’ve always been that way, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised."

Draco sat still and pondered this for a few moments before replying. "You seem to know me very well, Anton."

Harry grinned. "Well, I have become pretty observant since really getting to know you, Draco. You like to project this ‘I’m in charge’ kind of attitude, but most of the time it’s just an act."

Draco sighed. "Yeah, you’re right. I was just thinking that this could be my only shot to do some sort of real work for a living. Of course, I probably don't need to work, but who wants to sit around all the time and not do anything? At least my father had the Board of Governors, and things like that to do."

Harry looked at Draco in confusion. "What about Quidditch?"

Draco shrugged. "Guess they don't want me. I applied to a couple of my favorite teams; they told me that they didn't have any openings."

Harry chuckled. "Maybe they didn't... it's not always a brush off. I heard last week that the Magpies needed a Seeker, though they might have filled it by now."

Draco frowned. "Well, that was one of the teams I applied to, and it doesn't surprise me that they didn't owl me. I would imagine that they needed someone now as opposed to later, but Father has kind of sullied the family name with all his… activities, so that doesn't help either."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, I suppose not. However, I heard that he gave the names of many Death Eaters before he died. That should have helped, right? I mean, he helped the Ministry a lot when he did that. Although, it happened when Fudge was still in office... so, I’m really not surprised that the extent of his help went unrecognized."

Draco chuckled. "Anton, my father wasn't doing that to help anyone but himself. Azkaban is horrible, even if most of the Dementors are gone..."

Harry understood this reasoning - probably more than most. Sirius had mentioned several times about how bad Azkaban was with the Dementors. "Yeah, I would imagine it was worse with all the Dementors there."

Draco nodded. "Father always said it was pretty bad. He really wouldn't talk about it much. I can't say I blame him, though."

A moment later, Harry felt the Knut in his pocket vibrate once more, and Wayne and Blaise walked in. Halting their conversation, Harry and Draco moved to get their instruments, and they fell into their normal positions to begin band practice.

On October 31st, Professor Dumbledore dismissed all classes halfway through the day. The Headmaster and the professors knew that the students were too excited to learn, and it would not do any good to hold them in their classes. Since they had extra time to get ready, the girls began running from dorm to dorm, borrowing items from their friends that would look the best. Everyone was given permission to wear regular clothes instead of their dress robes to the feast and concert tonight, and everybody was very excited by the prospect.

The Hogwarts rumor mill -also known as Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, Parvati Patil, and Lavender Brown - heard that Draco Malfoy was bragging about their new bass player. However, no one knew who the mysterious new band member was.

Some speculated that he was a student who had already graduated, or that he was a friend of one of the other members. Others hypothesized that he might even be an adult, perhaps even one of the professors. Draco squashed that particular rumor, although he reveled in the sheer number of guesses that people were making. They were making his band more popular than he could have guessed.

However, by the time the feast began, Draco was worried. Looking around, Draco was unable spot Anton anywhere, and they needed to set up shortly. Dumbledore had just now said his normal nonsense words, and the feast began. Draco knew that playing with a full stomach was not a good idea, and that it would cause extreme indigestion, so he limited himself to a light dinner.

Once Draco had finished, he looked around and signaled to Blaise and Wayne that it was time to get ready. Glancing around one more time for Anton, Draco wondered if they were even going to get to perform. 'Did Anton freak out and get sick? Is he in the hospital wing? Where is he?’ Draco thought frantically.

"Not worried about me, are you, Draco?" whispered a voice that seemed to be coming out of thin air. Draco turned quickly, startled to find Anton already in the room. "I came in early; I was too nervous to eat."

"Oh, no… of course, I wasn't worried about you. You said you would be here, right?” Draco breathed a sigh of relief, as Harry smirked at him. Harry knew the truth; Draco was afraid that his mysterious band mate wasn't going to show up. 'It's nice to see him show some emotions. For a while there, I was worried he didn't have any,’ Harry thought to himself.

Draco cleared his throat as he looked around at their scattered instruments. "Well, we might as well relax for a few minutes. The feast is about half over. Any last minute things we need to discuss? Are we still going with the same song order?” Draco asked the group.

"As far as I know, unless you’ve changed your mind about Pawn,” Blaise replied as he looked over toward Anton.

Harry sighed, looking over at the dark-haired boy, and shrugged. "I know you guys like it and all, but I just have a bad feeling about playing it in front of the school. But, you want me to sing it, so I guess I will. Though, if you don't see me for a while after the show, my friends have killed me,” Anton said with a slight laugh.

"Anton, I doubt your friends would kill you for singing it. Have a little more faith in them,” Wayne replied with a chuckle.

Harry shrugged and laughed. "Maybe they’ll think that it's about Draco or something, and won't connect me to it. However, I’ve never been that lucky. Not like they even know I can sing or anything..."

Draco's right brow lifted in surprise. "You still haven't told them? You've had almost two months to tell them, Anton. Well, maybe they’ll figure it out, and you won't have to tell them. You probably should have told them before the concert."

Harry shrugged again. "I guess I was going for the surprise angle, really. Surprise, I am a musician, I can sing, and play the bass guitar.” Harry chuckled as he grinned at Draco.

Draco snorted. "Well, hopefully it will be a good surprise to them. You should hear the rumors floating around about you; they are getting more ridiculous every day. The most popular seems to be you’re some graduate student who’s doing us a favor. I think the rumor mill is working overtime since they have no clue who you are."

Harry laughed. "Yeah, my favorite is that I’m Snape. Really, I think I look much better than Snape, and any band that had Snape in it would probably scare off the audience. He still makes students cry on a daily basis."

Harry's comment made the whole group laugh, and Wayne spoke up, snickering. "Yeah, though he has been looking a bit better this term. I think he must be using a tooth whitening charm or something. Maybe that’s why people think you’re Snape. He's been trying to improve his appearance; maybe he has his eye on someone. Even Professor Lupin glanced at him oddly in the hall the other day. Maybe they’re dating or something?"

Harry blinked. "Are Snape and Professor Lupin even gay? I guess it is possible. It would make things interesting around here. It's not as if we have ever seen any of the professors with anyone. I wonder if any of them are even married."

Everyone shrugged. Harry doubted that most of the students at Hogwarts wondered if the professors had their own private lives. The only ones young enough to think about were Professors Lupin and Snape, and even then… Just as Blaise was about to comment on Harry's question however, there was a knock on the door, and Professor Dumbledore stuck his head in, his blue eyes twinkling brightly. "Gentlemen, it's time."

The group grabbed their instruments and placed them on the platform, and a moment later, the instruments appeared onstage in the Great Hall. Several minutes later, the boys heard their band's name announced, and the group calmly walked out the door and up the side-stairs to the platform.

As they walked into the hall, the boys noticed that the hall had been redecorated since they had left from dinner. The long table where the teachers normally sat was now along the far wall, and the empty area made a nice stage. Behind the stage, where the Hogwarts crest usually stood out in the stone, was a brilliantly colored banner with the band’s name on it. The colors on its surface had a blend of all the house colors in varying degrees, and it displayed the motto: Spectrum; Uniting all under one banner.

Above their heads, a string of bright lights hung on a long, thick espresso- colored beam that ran along the hall’s ceiling, illuminating the stage. As the group walked over toward their instruments, Draco went to the front of the stage and cast a Sonorus charm on his throat. He said a few words to the crowd, introduced the members of the band, and then Spectrum began their first number.

By the time they reached Harry’s songs, Harry had forgotten all about his worries and his friends. The crowd loved their music and his songs, the cheering and clapping after each tune was getting louder as the excitement in the Great Hall built to a feverish pitch. Sooner than he expected, the stage lights lowered, and a spotlight appeared on Harry. It was time for his two special songs. Harry sat down on his stool and began to play “One”, the melody flowing over him and the words falling from his lips.

Affirmative may be justified
Take from one give to another
The goal is to be unified
Take my hand, be my brother
The payment silenced the masses
Sanctified by oppression
Unity took a backseat
Sliding further into regression

One, Oh One, the only way is one
One, Oh One, the only way is one
I feel angry... I feel helpless
Want to change the world
I feel violent... I feel alone
Don't try and change my mind, no

Society blinded by color
Why hold down one to raise another
Discrimination now on both sides
Seeds of hate blossom further
The world is heading for mutiny
When all we want, is unity
We may rise and fall, but in the end
We meet our fate together

One, Oh One, the only way is one
One, Oh One, the only way is one

I feel angry... I feel helpless
Want to change the world
I feel violent... I feel alone
Don't try and change my mind... no.

I feel angry... I feel helpless
Want to change the world
I feel violent... I feel alone
Don't try and change my mind no


I feel angry... I feel helpless
Want to change the world yeah
I feel violent... I feel alone
Don't try and change my mind no

I feel angry... I feel helpless
Want to change the world yeah
I feel violent... I feel alone
Don't try and change my mind

After a few moments, the enthusiastic applause died down, and Harry began to pour his heart and soul into his very personal song, Pawn. His rich baritone voice carried throughout the hall as the rest of the band played along with him.

The day’s earlier mystery remained – who was this soulful young man up on the stage? No one in the crowd save Dumbledore recognized Harry, and yet they felt like they knew him intimately. The song gave them all a glimpse into a tortured soul, and the crowd loved it. When the last note of the ballad ended, the Great Hall stayed completely silent. No one moved or talked, and some had their mouths hanging wide open, while several girls had fainted. Harry looked up from playing his guitar and smiled weakly; the audience erupted into loud cheers. The solemn moment had passed, and when the crowd finally found their voices, there was much whispering about this enigmatic singer once again.

It was obvious that Spectrum had finished their set, and as Blaise, Draco and Wayne moved to congratulate each other, Harry looked over at Professor Dumbledore. Instead of finding an expression of anger or distress on his face, Harry saw a look of intense sorrow and comprehension. Harry ducked his head down. He had a feeling that the next time Dumbledore had something important to tell him, Harry wouldn’t have to beg for answers to his questions. In fact, the Headmaster finally appeared to understand that Harry was suffering from the lack of information. Since that was the real point of Harry’s song, he was glad that it had made the right impression on his mentor.

The audience clamored for an encore, so the group played a few more songs, and then the concert was over. When the four young men were finally able to slip back behind the curtain and into the back room, the sighs of relief were palpable. Their first public concert had been a great success, and they were all extremely pleased with themselves.

Draco grinned as the four of them collapsed into the nearest chairs. "Anton, I can't believe you stunned them into silence. Did you see how many girls fainted?"

Harry chuckled nervously. "Yeah, I looked up and thought they hated it... and then bang! I still can't believe that they liked it that much."

Draco smirked. "I can. It's a great song, Anton. It makes them swoon because you get so lost in it. They see the tortured soul, the moody artist who just wants to be understood. It's a good thing, trust me."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, you could say that. Well, should we mingle with our adoring public, or should we disappear and go back to our common rooms? I don't know if I’m in the mood to give autographs or anything. I feel sort of wiped out."

Draco shrugged. "We can go if you want to slip out. Go get some sleep - you deserve it. We’ll see you at the next practice, ‘kay?"

Harry smiled. "Okay, see you guys then. Have a nice weekend, guys."

Wayne smiled shyly at Anton. “See you later, Anton.”

Blaise scoffed at Wayne softly and winked at Anton. “Night Anton.”

Harry smiled as the three of them walked out of the room. Harry sat silently pondering the conversation and something began to bother him. ‘I wonder what’s wrong with Wayne and Blaise lately? They seemed so quiet. Perhaps they don’t know what to think of me and are being cautious?’ Harry thought. ‘I’ll have to make a note to include them more in our future conversations. Sometimes I think Wayne is a bit on the shy side around me, though he is a Hufflepuff, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising.’

After several minutes, Harry walked over to a sconce mounted on the wall, and turned it slightly to the right. The wall melted away to reveal a secret passage and Harry stepped inside. It was great having the Marauder’s Map. He would never have known that there was a secret teacher’s passage to this room unless he had seen it on the map. Several minutes later, he removed his disguise and snuck back into the Great Hall as Harry Potter. Fortunately, almost everyone was wrapped up in the piped music and failed to notice that he hadn't been there all along.

Just as he made it to where his friends were sitting, Hermione stood up. She looked at him oddly. "Oh, there you are, Harry. I know you hate dancing, but you should have come to the concert."

Harry chuckled and shrugged slightly. "I don't hate dancing 'Mione. I just never learned to do it."

Hermione nodded. "You missed a great concert, Harry. I hope we get to hear them again soon. I was surprised; Malfoy has a great voice, and the guy that no one seems to know is really good too. Lavender and Parvati fainted after one of the songs he sang. It was a little embarrassing for them, because they fell into a vat of punch.” Hermione snickered softly.

Harry snorted. "Really? Oh, I’d love to have seen that, at least. Maybe it washed off some of their makeup."

Hermione gasped. "Harry! Really!"

Harry laughed. "Oh, come on, Hermione. I know you think the same thing..."

Hermione scowled. "Perhaps, but I don't say it out loud when they might be able to hear it."

Harry winked. "Oh, well. If they heard me, then I guess I’d have to apologize. However, I doubt they did, since they seem to be surrounding Malfoy and chattering away."

Hermione looked over in Malfoy's direction, and noticed that Harry was right. "I suspect they are trying to find out what happened to the mysterious bassist. Their major theory on the mystery person being Professor Snape was shot down, since he positioned himself near the back of the room.” She broke off and laughed. “He probably scowled at the band for most of the concert. After one of the songs, he suddenly stood up and left the room. I think it was called ‘Pawn’."

Harry blinked. 'Snape left after he heard ‘Pawn’? Oh great… I bet he figured out it was me up there, and by morning, my friends’ll be all over me.’ He groaned. ‘They’ll be upset because I didn't tell them I was in Draco's band.'

Harry shrugged, leaning forward to whisper in Hermione's ear. "Maybe he had a meeting to go to?"

Hermione cocked her head slightly to the left. "Hmm, it is possible... although I didn't see him clutching his arm like he normally does."

Harry was doomed. "Okay, well... it was just a thought."

Hermione nodded. "Well, it's time to go back to our common room. You’re coming, Harry?"

Harry smiled weakly. "Yeah, I’m right behind you."

While Harry and Hermione walked back to the Gryffindor tower, Ron was walking Daphne back to her own common room before joining them. The moment they were inside, Harry headed up the stairs and went to bed. He would worry about Snape in the morning.

As luck would have it, Harry’s first class the next morning was double Potions. As the three Gryffindors made their way towards the dungeons, Harry tried to conceal his nervousness. Fortunately, the class passed by more smoothly than usual, and Snape used most of the time to lecture on the properties of the particular ingredients used in last week’s potion. Harry began to relax; Professor Snape was basically ignoring him. Just as the class was about to end, though, Snape cleared his throat. “Mr. Potter. Please stay behind after class. I would like a few words with you.”

Harry gulped. 'I should have known...’ "Yes, Professor Snape."

The classroom emptied out quickly. Hermione gave Harry a puzzled look as she left, since he had actually been taking notes and paying attention during their class.

Harry sat quietly at his desk and waited for Snape to approach him. He prepared himself for a thorough reprimand, perhaps one that ended with Snape holding his newfound knowledge over Harry’s head and taunting him with it. Harry risked a peek at his professor. What he saw on Snape’s face shocked Harry: Snape didn’t look upset at all!

“Mr. Potter. I know that we have not gotten along in the past, and I suspect that fault lies mostly with me. I’m not one to ask for forgiveness, nor will I offer apologies. Our past troubles have stemmed from many incidents, but keep in mind that many things I did were intended to keep you out of trouble.” Snape paused, lacing his hands together and contemplating his intertwined fingers. He looked at Harry again, and continued. “However, that is not what we are here to discuss today. The Headmaster has asked me to help you out, yet again, as if I didn’t have enough to do already.”

He looked at Harry accusingly, as if Harry had asked Professor Dumbledore to interfere with Snape’s activities.

“As someone who has been at the Dark Lord’s side for longer than you have been alive, I know him better than most. Espionage depends on consistent analysis of people and events, and so I have continued to study the Dark Lord more closely since he resurrected a body and came back into power.” Pausing to catch his breath after the long sentence, Snape tried to hide his disgust about what he was about to say.

“Professor Dumbledore requested that I help you to learn Voldemort’s weaknesses and his strengths. The time is fast approaching when the Dark Lord will no longer hold back his exact strategies. In fact, he has already begun to kill anyone who doesn’t follow his plans to the letter – which, most of the time, has been impossible. His schemes are so outrageously wild that there is no chance at their success. The few that he keeps alive are ripped apart by cutting hexes, mangled almost beyond repair, as warnings to the rest of the Death Eaters. He’s losing support quickly, but the Death Eaters are still afraid for their families…”

"Professor, is... is that what really happened to Malfoy's father?” Harry asked quietly. He already knew part of the answer, but he wanted to see if Draco told him the truth.

Startled by the question, Snape gave a quick nod. "Yes, that was a part of the reason. The Dark Lord was displeased with Lucius when Draco refused to become a Death Eater. Also, Lucius told the Ministry about some of the locations of the Dark Lord's bankrolls and hideouts. With each bargaining chip that Lucius played, Voldemort lost money and places to hide. Lucius tried to bargain his way out of Azkaban; the other Death Eaters executed with him were just additional victories for the Ministry.”

Snape felt slightly uncomfortable with the topic of discussion. He stood and began pacing back and forth behind his desk. “The Dark Lord said he had no use for followers that didn’t follow him. He’s quite imbalanced, and he thought that all of the Death Eaters in Azkaban had betrayed him. I doubt that is true, but the consequence was that it left his son alone.”

Here Snape paused again, eying Harry speculatively. “I’ll be training him as well, and I would like to do it at the same time. I know you two aren't the best of friends..."

Harry smiled. "It's okay, Professor. I think we’ll get along well enough to train properly."

Professor Snape smirked. "Yes, I’ve seen that you already get along quite well, Mr. Potter. That was an interesting song you sang last night."

Harry gulped. "Excuse me? I... I... don't sing, P-professor..."

Snape's eyebrows rose slowly. "I am not stupid, Mr. Potter. However, perhaps I could be persuaded to keep your secret. I won’t tell Mr. Malfoy who you are, in exchange for the answer to a question."

Harry paled slightly, then narrowed his eyes at Professor Snape. "What kind of question?"

To describe Snape’s face was impossible, and the closest that Harry came was to see it as a half-smile, half-sneer. “Not a hard question, Mr. Potter. It’s one that I think you can answer quite easily.”

Harry grumbled softly. "What is it, Professor?"

Snape grinned. "It's a question with several parts, but it all has to do with your newfound talents. In fact, I may even be able to tell you something as well – something that you may not have known.”

Harry found that he could not resist taking the bait that Snape dangled in front of him. "Then please get on with it, sir...” Harry said unconvincingly, as his voice betrayed his feigned nonchalance.

"Firstly, how many of last night’s songs were written by you?" Snape asked.

"About four of them, and if one of the other questions is whether or not I wrote ‘Pawn’, then the answer is yes,” Harry replied.

"My, my, Mr. Potter. I had no idea that you had such talent. Though, it does run in your family, so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised," said the older man, casting a shrewd glance at Harry.

Harry blinked in confusion. "Runs in my family? What are you talking about, Professor? No one told me either of my parents had any musical talents..."

The next sound from Snape’s mouth startled Harry so much that he almost fell off of his chair. Snape chuckled. Aloud – and not quietly, either. ‘Snape never laughs!’ Harry thought apprehensively.

"Well, I suppose neither Lupin nor Black told you. I’m not too astonished. They probably forgot, or they never knew at all. Anyway, your mother played the violin, with about as much passion as you play the guitar. Sometimes I hid in the music room and listened as Lily played. To this day, I don’t know if your father or the rest of them ever knew about it,” Snape mused. He was quiet for a moment, and a tiny smile played on his lips. It was obvious that he was fondly recalling such moments of nostalgia.

Snape’s expression shuttered as he returned his attention to Harry. “However, my downfall was that one day Black saw me coming out of the same room that he saw Lily enter, and apparently he thought that something was going on between us. Your mother was already dating Potter then, you know. That was shortly before Lupin almost killed me." He ended his explanation with this matter-of-fact statement.

Harry was stunned. "S-so, you were nearly killed because of a misunderstanding involving my mum?” Harry asked in disbelief. “I...I'm sorry, Professor."

Snape scoffed. "I never blamed your mother for that. My repayment was when she stopped talking to Black, and then even your father for a while. Dumbledore would never have expelled Sirius. Like your father, Black was one of Dumbledore's golden boys; he wouldn't just expel them. And after that, I was sworn to secrecy until after school was over."

Harry laughed softly, but then he frowned. "I bet he was mad. But why would she stop talking to my father? He saved you, didn't he?"

Snape nodded. "She thought it was a joint plot to get me killed or bitten. Werewolves are quite vicious when they don't take the potion, as you well know. Back then, Wolfsbane was not even available. It was only after we all were out of school that it was created.

Snape leaned forward in his chair. “However, Lupin didn't take it until he came to Hogwarts. I think the main reason Lily was so angry was that Lupin could have died if he had succeeded in biting or killing me. It would have been Black’s fault, of course.”

Harry nodded. "Professor, why did you reveal that Professor Lupin is a werewolf? I know you set the essay before the night at the Shrieking Shack, but only Hermione figured it out. I guess… I think it was kind of vengeful… you know, to retaliate against Professor Lupin because he attacked you all those years ago. But… that can’t be the only reason, right? I mean, did you expose him because he forgot to drink his potion?”

Snape scowled and lifted his chin in a haughty manner. "Not that it is any of your business Potter, but that it wasn’t just me who told the truth about Professor Lupin. However, I do concede that it was partly because of the potion incident. Lupin was careless and put many lives in danger that night. If you recall, his neglectfulness almost ended your life as well."

Harry frowned. "It's not like he tried to do it on purpose, Professor. He was trying to save me from Pettigrew."

Snape sneered. "I know that now, Potter. However, it didn't take long for word to spread about his condition. He returned to school all bloody since he’d gotten into a fight with Black. Normally, during that time of the month, Lupin locked himself away at Grimmauld Place and was no threat to anyone. However, when he went after you, he forgot the most important thing. No matter how normal he is the rest of the month, on that one night, he’s a monster. He would have killed you, or anyone else, without a moment's hesitation. Lupin could have killed our only chance to win this war; it was a risk that we couldn't take."

“When the staff announcements came in this year, and no one else would take the Defense job, I couldn't believe that the Board allowed Professor Dumbledore to call him back. Of course, this time he has an assistant to take over for the three days surrounding the time of his change. The Board decided not to take chances with the safety of its students. Despite the fact that they were upset because our Headmaster didn't see fit to tell them of Lupin's condition the first time around, they agreed that he was the only possible candidate. This was made especially true given that they didn't want to give up one of their Aurors to take the post."

Harry let out a long sigh, then nodded. "It’s just- I hated it because I learned so much from him. The rest of our DADA professors have been a joke, really. Professor Quirrell always acted like he was afraid of everything, then we found out he had Voldemort literally in his head. Then, Professor Lockhart was a ponce who couldn't cast spells correctly to save his life. Did you know that all his books are phony? He used memory charms on all of the people who actually did all those things."

Snape snorted in disgust. "I always knew he wasn't that good at everything. I tried to tell Albus it was a mistake to hire him, but as usual, my words of wisdom were ignored."

Harry smirked as he leaned against a nearby desk. "Well, Crouch did teach me how to resist the Unforgivables. I just hope that Voldemort never found out about that. Anyway, then of course, we had that horrible Umbridge woman, who was so full of herself that she thought that there was no possible reason that we might need to defend ourselves, ever.

‘Theory only, no practical,’ she always said. “How were any of us going to pass our O.W.L.’s with only theory in DADA? So, we got together and taught ourselves. I'd say our group fared better than the rest of the fifth years."

Snape struggled with himself not to lash out at the boy as he replied spitefully. "Yes, I’m quite aware of your so-called ‘secret’ group. It wasn’t a secret, but the other professors turned a blind eye to your activities.”

Harry blinked in shock, then recovered himself. “Well, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me… Professor Dumbledore normally knows everything that is going on; the portraits tell him all there is to know. I learned that a long time ago."

Snape nodded, agreeing with Harry’s statement. He knew quite well that the portraits told Dumbledore anything, which was why you wouldn’t find any of them near his office or private quarters. "When Dumbledore told me about it, I already knew.”

At the startled look he received from Harry, he went on to explain. “I heard Weasley talking about it a bit too loudly when the group started. I didn't know where it was meeting until after Dumbledore said anything though, and he gave me the job of keeping Filch away from that end of the castle."

Harry nodded to himself. Now it made sense why they had never been disturbed until Marietta Edgecombe snitched on them. "Anyway, what was your other question?"

Snape seemed to ponder this for a moment before he responded. "How did you persuade Mr. Malfoy into letting you join the band without alerting him to who you are?"

Harry grinned at the older man. "I just let my Slytherin side show. I told him he had no other option if he wanted to start a band now, instead of waiting until after school was finished."

The affected mask of indifference on Snape's face fell briefly, before it slid back into place. He arched one dark eyebrow at Harry. "Slytherin side?"

"Well… don't spread it around, but the Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin." The younger wizard smiled.

Snape was clearly startled by this revelation. "Hmm, that would have been interesting; there would have been no Golden Trio."

Harry's eyes glittered with mischief. "You really think so, Professor? I bet it just would have had different members."

Snape feigned shock. "Yes, I imagine so. You do seem to inspire such feelings in others, much as your father once did. He always had loyal friends. Well, except the one, of course."

Harry’s face closed for a moment, and when he looked up at Snape again, his eyes held an untouchable sadness. "Yeah, except him. As for my father, I wouldn't know. As I have told you numerous times, I am my own person."

Snape scoffed. "Yes, I suppose you are, Mr. Potter."

The next day, the band got together to discuss the concert and to plan their next gig. Draco had talked to Madame Rosmerta after the concert, and she had graciously decided to allow them to play on Hogsmeade weekends, as long as they kept up their studies.

"So, she loved us, huh?" Harry asked.

Draco nodded. "Of course she did. She loved you especially; she said that you reminded her of someone she used to know growing up.” Draco raised an eyebrow and then grinned. "Anyway, it seems like everyone I’ve talked to loves your song. I noticed you’re alive, so your friends didn’t figure out your secret? Or did they not react as badly as you thought they would when you told them?"

"Well, if they haven't figured it out yet, they soon will - once the lyrics sink in, it won't take them long to figure it out." Harry chuckled softly.

Draco smirked. "Well, it would probably be better to just tell them now and be done with it."

Harry nodded, then murmured softly, "I know. I just like the feeling of no one knowing who I am."

Draco looked down at the floor with the same sort of sad look on his face. "I know how you feel. Most people either fear me because of my name or hate me for my past behavior. Sometimes it’s both."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, I can understand that, too. Having people hate you or like you for things that you can’t control isn't fun."

Draco smiled slightly. ‘Well, isn't that a heck of a thing to bond over,’ he thought.

That night after the band practice, Hermione and Ron cornered Harry in the common room. Harry sighed softly. "If you want to talk to me, it can't be here. Let's go someplace else."

Hermione nodded. "All right. We can go to the Room of Requirement."

The three friends agreed to the change of venue and walked out the door together. As they approached the Room of Requirement, Hermione and Ron hung back, while Harry went forward. Harry paced back and forth in front of the nondescript door three times, all the while thinking of a comfortable place to have a long conversation.

Once they were inside, he had Hermione cast the Imperturbable Charm and a locking spell on the door. Harry walked further into the room and plopped down into a replica of his favorite, overstuffed red Gryffindor chair. He let out a soft sigh of contentment. The chair was the mirror opposite of the couch where that Hermione and Ron sat down on once they entered the room. The fabric was the same, however instead of red it was onyx, with a deep red piping that matched the chair’s color. Harry waited until they all settled in their seats before he looked at his two best friends.

"Well, what’s this about? I have a pretty good idea, but you’ll have to tell me what's wrong first," Harry said.

Hermione looked over at Ron, then back at Harry. "We know you're in Draco's band, Harry. It took me a few days to figure it out, but I’m sure that you are this mysterious Anton guy."

Harry sighed and nodded. "Yeah, I’m Anton. But you can't tell anyone, please, you have to promise me!"

"But Harry-" Hermione sputtered.

"Hermione, I’m finally having fun! I’m finally doing something that I love. I... I... don't know what I would do if the band and playing my music were taken away from me. Malfoy’s actually pretty cool once you get to know him. He's been really nice to me this whole time. I know that doesn’t really make him a good person, but I just can't see what it hurts that I’m in a band. Nobody knows except you two, Dumbledore, and Snape. Oh, and get this, my mom was a great violinist! Professor Snape told me so... I was totally shocked. He finally told me what caused his attack – you know, the one with Professor Lupin. He was listening to my mum play the violin one day, and Sirius caught him sneaking out of the music room. Sirius thought something was going on between them and decided to teach Snape a lesson! I still can't believe that he did that, but I guess he thought he was protecting Mum.” Harry spoke excitedly, barely taking a breath between sentences.

Hermione looked at Ron and sighed softly. "Harry, I understand you’re having fun, but you know Malfoy will try to find out who you are sooner or later. Once he does, you won’t be in the band anyway, although if he’s smart, he wouldn't kick you out. You have a lot of talent that should be expressed, Harry. I just wish it hadn't taken so long for you to tell us that you sang or even played an instrument."

Harry hung his head. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I just wanted something for myself for a change. Something that was all mine... where I could just be myself, and not have to put on some show. Everyone expects me to be some perfect ‘Golden Boy’... but I'm not. If Malfoy finds out, then he finds out. I won't quit, not now, not after everything is going so well for the rest of the band."

Ron stared at Harry for a moment. He blinked at his best mate, and finally spoke up. "Harry, you're right. Since I started dating Daphne, Malfoy's been pretty nice to me. Apparently, they’re best friends, and she told me that if I wanted to go out with her, I’d have to be tolerant of him. He's actually been okay during the little time I have spent around him. Daphne says he’s changed a lot since his dad died. I guess what I’m trying to say is... be careful. Even if he is nice now, he still has the Death Eaters after him, and they’re trying to kill him. Daphne told me he refused the Dark Mark over the summer."

Harry nodded. "I know. He told me... that is, he mentioned it one night at band practice. We talk about current events sometimes, especially when we’re too tired to practice. We started writing a song together last week. It's going to be good, I think. We’re supposed to play at The Three Broomsticks next Hogsmeade weekend."

At that, both Hermione and Ron smiled. "Well, we’ll have to make sure we’re there to cheer Anton on then," Hermione said.

Through unspoken agreement that stemmed from their long friendship, the three stood up; Hermione lowered the charms on the room. Then they all went back to their common room to go to bed.

The days passed too slowly for Harry while he waited to meet his mysterious pen pal. But soon, it was almost time to go to the Tower, and butterflies started to tumble around in Harry’s stomach. It had been a struggle recently between thinking of his band and his pen pal. Though frequent, the letters had dwindled down to about three a week now. However, he’d learned a lot about his pen pal over the last several weeks. What bugged Harry was that he felt like he knew him. All though he didn't come out and say it exactly, Caesius seemed, with each day, more familiar to him. He just couldn't quite put a finger on what was so familiar.

When Thursday night came, Harry was extremely nervous. Tomorrow night was the night he would meet Caesius. Tomorrow night was the night that Harry would finally meet the boy that he had been slowly falling for over the summer. Classes dragged on, and Harry wondered if the hands on the clock were standing still as a trick of magic, or a trick of his eyes.

However, for the first time in years, he actually enjoyed Potions class. Professor Snape paired up Draco and Harry, and to Harry’s surprise, Draco didn’t tease or mock him. In fact, he was almost pleasant to Harry. It was the perfect end to the week. Now, if he could just relax about the Friday night meeting.

Bright and sunny, Friday arrived in style, and Harry sat on the common room’s window bench pondering his unidentified pen pal. Harry had ruled out anyone in his own house. In fact, after the comments about Draco, Harry narrowed the writer of the letters to the house of Slytherin. Of course, quite a few people in that house had hurt him over the years, though he wondered if this wasn't some sort of trick to get information out of him.

‘No… I don't think anyone is that devious… it would have been in the Daily Prophet by now, if someone was trying that... The letters are nice and friendly… though, whoever it is, they seemed to know quite a bit about Draco Malfoy. Could Draco be writing to me? He’s been really nice to me this year...’ Harry shook his head.

‘No, no matter what, I seriously doubt that what Caesius said was true. Sure, Draco hasn’t bothered us half as much last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s… nice now. Of course, he did say that the person behind the “mask” he wears isn't a nice person. It could be possible, couldn't it?’ Harry shrugged. ‘Stranger things have happened in my life…’

That night, Harry retrieved his invisibility cloak from his trunk and struck out to meet Caesius. The last time he felt this nervous was during fifth year when he fought Voldemort. ‘It's just a boy! You can handle this, Harry. Don't get your trolleys in a knot,’ Harry scolded himself as he climbed the steps. Harry thought he should bring his map to the meeting, but then figured that probably wasn’t such a good idea to have it with him. So he checked the map when he was outside of his dorm and again in Gryffindor Tower before he actually left. He noticed that both Mrs. Norris and Filch were in his office down near the dungeons; he was safe for a while.

Normally, Harry was late to everywhere he went the majority of the time, but this time, surprisingly, he was a few minutes early. He looked around furtively, up and down the dark stairwell, and he pulled off his cloak before he opened the door to the Tower and stepped inside. Crossing the floor, he sat down in one of the chairs, pulled his folded cloak it into his lap, and began reflecting on his previous thoughts.

Hidden in the shadows of the room, Caesius watched while Harry entered. Luckily, he was behind Harry, so he was able to sneak up behind him. Caesius slipped his fingers over Harry’s eyes, holding fast as Harry’s body jerked.

“Shhhhh… it's just me, handsome,” Caesius purred in Harry’s ear.

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