Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler



Canon Notes: This story is Pre-HBP, which takes place in my version of Harry Potter's seventh year, based on the events of the first five books.


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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, and are only being borrowed for my enjoyment. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.

Chapter 4 Recap:

In Chapter 4, Harry got scared when he found out that Draco was his pen pal and ran away. Not really typical Gryffindor or even Harry's behaviour. Several weeks go by before the band decides that they need a manager. Oddly enough, Draco suggests Hermione Granger. Once Draco had apologised to her, she agreed to be the band's manager.

After a long drought of no letters, the pair begins writing again in lieu of a more personal relationship. For the moment, things are looking up.


Chapter 5 - It takes more than the written word

Harry and Draco had been writing again for a month before Harry realised that he was slowly falling in love with the new Draco. The problem was, at least in his mind, that even if he did come clean about whom Anton was, Draco might never trust him again. Hermione tried everything she could think of to convince Harry that he hadn't really lied about who he was to Draco, and though he might be initially upset, that he wouldn't stay upset long. Harry knew that no matter how much Draco had changed, he still had a temper, and he didn't want to cross it for a while.

The war outside was getting worse and all trips to Hogsmeade were cancelled. This, of course, left the band without a venue to play. Professor Dumbledore had decided, after much persuasion, to throw a ball for the Yule celebration, and had told the group they could play. Therefore, the excited group tried to learn a few wizarding carols as well as a few Muggle ones in order to play that night.

The letters between Harry and Draco seemed almost desperate at times. They were both hunted men, and Harry had even tried to convince Draco that if Voldemort ever found out that he was talking to Harry, that he would probably kidnap him to lure Harry to him. Draco always scoffed at this in his next letter. Draco figured that as much as he was always sending out letters, that someone had to have informed Voldemort by now. This, of course, meant that since he was still here, he would be okay.

Harry was hard pressed to agree with Draco's assumptions, but it didn't do any good to tell Draco anything that he didn't want to hear. Harry had even tried to talk Draco into a much more private way of communication, but Draco seemed to like the way they were currently conversing and wouldn't hear of it.


Days before the concert, there was a short, slightly heated discussion taking place in the band's practice room. Anton had mentioned that the band would be on stage a good majority of the time, and he didn't think he would be taking a date to the ball. He went on to say that by the time they got finished playing, they would be too tired to devote too much time to keeping a date happy, along with the fact that they wouldn't be around much of the ball due to them being on stage, it just didn't feel practical. After all was said and done, the group, as a whole, decided that they would all go without dates.

Harry was silently relieved that the band had come to this decision. Harry was already worrying that since he would have to change back and forth between his two personalities that he might get one or the other confused. There were only a handful of people that knew about his real personality, and he wasn't sure if he was ready for them to stumble in the wrong direction.

When Draco wrote to Harry to tell him that the band wasn't taking dates, he just sent a letter back telling him that he was planning to go stag anyway. He certainly didn't want to bring another girl; he had a horrible time of it last time when they had a ball. In fact, Harry even told Draco that if he hadn't been forced to take a date the first time, he probably wouldn't have, as his first choice was already taken.


The concert was a day away and Harry was in a panic. He still hadn't quite figured out how to get out of staying around as Anton very long. Obviously, Draco would want to spend time with Harry if he could, and if Harry had to continue to pose as Anton, then Draco would probably get suspicious.

In desperation, Harry wrote the Weasley twins, and told them that he had to be in two places at once, and wanted anything to help him. Luckily, for Harry, the twins just happened to be in Hogsmeade that morning, and were able to send off their new invention right away.


Harry was excited when the morning owls flew into the Great Hall and a package was tied to Hedwig's leg. He quickly pocketed the package in his pack and headed towards his secret passage to read the enclosed letter.

Harry,

You are the first to receive our new invention: Weasley's Persona Gum. This gum works just like a Polyjuice potion, except it lasts much longer than an hour. As long as you chew the gum, you will remain in the form that you have chosen. All you have to do is take a piece of your hair, and place it on top of the gum. Then say the words: Mutare Persona. The gum will then change the chewer into you. After awhile the gum does lose its flavour, so it is best to have several pieces available to the person taking your place.

Your Devoted Servants,

Gred and Forge

Harry grinned; now he just needed to talk Ron into being him for the first half of the concert.


As the end of the day rolled around, Harry felt slightly disturbed that it hadn't taken much convincing to talk Ron into being Harry for part of the ball. It almost made Harry feel used, as if Ron had been planning this all along and was just waiting for Harry to ask. Of course, Harry shook that idea out of his head as nonsense.

"Thanks, Ron, I appreciate your sacrifice. We will probably need to let Hermione in on the secret so she can help cover if anyone asks where you are. Fred and George said the gum was something you could chew for a while and then stop chewing it, reverting to yourself, or vice versa. I think that we should make five pieces or so, just in case. I probably need to see if it can do a few of Anton as well. That way, if you think someone is getting suspicious about where you are, you can run into the passage by the Great Hall, and revert back and then come back in for a bit."

Ron nodded, looking far too excited for Harry's taste.


The day of the concert went quite well for the students of Hogwarts. It was actually quite quiet for winter break, and since most stayed, the majority of the students slept in and got dressed for the ball at a leisurely pace. Harry had to practice several clothes Transfiguration Charms since he couldn't be seen in the same clothes as Anton. It was then that Harry realised that the same problem was going to happen to Ron and Harry began to panic again. Luckily for Harry, Hermione had already thought of that problem and was practicing several spells to turn Ron's new blue robes into a nice green for when he was Harry.

Since the group was performing, it was impractical to wear dress robes, so they stored them in the teachers' lounge next to the Great Hall to change into later. Harry made sure to take note of what Ron's green robe looked like to make a copy for later.

As the day drew closer to the concert, Harry began to get slightly nervous. This was the first time in a long time that Harry had to be seen in two places at once, and he wasn't looking forward to it. Harry was so sure that he would screw up something, but he didn't want to dwell on the negative aspects of the night.

Luckily, Harry would be staying most of the night as Anton, and Ron was walking around talking to people occasionally to pass as Harry. When the first song of the night began to play, Harry just focused on the music and nothing else. It definitely helped to calm his nerves. Draco had written a new song, called Crash and Burn. Once the first few bars began to play, Harry noticed that Draco was looking right at Ron, who was currently disguised as Harry. The meaning behind the song suddenly made sense, Draco wrote it for Harry. It wasn't for the first time that Harry thought that Draco's voice was what an angel might sound like.

When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please to tame your wild, wild heart
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you
It's hard to find relief and people can be so cold
When darkness is upon your door
And you feel like you can't take anymore

Let me be the one you call
If you jump, I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone

When you feel all alone
And a loyal friend is hard to find
You're caught in a one-way street
With the monsters in your head
When hopes and dreams are far away and
You feel like you can't face the day

Let me be the one you call
If you jump, I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone

And there has always been heartache and pain
And when it's over you'll breathe again
You'll breathe again

When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please
To tame your wild, wild heart

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone

After the song was over, the group sang several Christmas related songs, which were a big hit. Later, the group sang a few more of their own songs, mixing them in between the more traditional songs of the season. Overall, the entire concert was going quite well. The audience seemed to enjoy all their new material, as well as the old favourites; it made the band very happy over all. By the time that the concert was ending, Anton noticed that Ron had slipped out with Hermione and returned to his normal self. Anton just hoped that Ron hadn't remarked on anything that he would have to explain later. The group started up another one of Anton's songs, "Help Me".

I wish I could define
All the thoughts that crossed my mind
They seem too big for me to choose
I don't know which ones to lose
When I'm falling down so far
I think I'll never see your light
Bouncing off of me
Shining down here from your eyes

Help me
Figure out the difference
Between right and wrong
Weak and strong
Day and night
Where I belong and
Help me
Make the right decisions
Know which way to turn
Lessons to learn
And just what my purpose is here

It's like I got the signals crossed
With messages I can't decode
Half asleep, never wide awake
And I'm in complete overload
I got so much information here
And nothing I can really grasp
I should know the truth
But I'm too afraid, so I have to ask

Help me
Figure out the difference
Between right and wrong
Weak and strong
Day and night
Where I belong and
Help me
Make the right decisions
Know which way to turn
Lessons to learn
And just what my purpose is here

Wanna know you
More than anything
I need you
In my every dream, you're there for me
Do you love me?
For who I am, no angel
Just an ordinary man

Help me figure out why I'm stuck in the middle
Trying to understand why I can't
Why you're such a riddle
Got my eyes crossed
I'm thinking so hard and I know I'm missing the mark
Can you help me sort out
All this information
I'm just rackin' my brain,
Paying attention
But I'm still lost
And at all costs
I gotta know (gotta know, oh o)

Help me
Figure out the difference
Between right and wrong
Weak and strong
Day and night
Where I belong and
Help me
Make the right decisions
Know which way to turn
Lessons to learn
And just what my purpose is here

Help me figure out why I'm stuck in the middle
Trying to understand why I can't
Why you're such a riddle
Got my eyes crossed
I'm thinking so hard and I know I'm missing the mark
Can you help me sort out
All this information
I'm just rackin' my brain, baby
Paying attention
But I'm still lost
And at all costs
I gotta know

As the song ended, Anton stood thinking for a moment about the concert so far. Overall, Anton and Draco had shared the lead vocal position. Draco had mentioned several times that a good group leader knew when they couldn't sing a song properly, and had to let others have the limelight. Harry took this as a good sign that Draco was indeed changing, because when in the last six years had Draco ever really shared anything? As the concert wound down to the last two songs, Harry started singing the group's latest song; When the Children Cry, the lyrics pouring out of his soul like rain.

Little child, dry your crying eyes
How can I explain the fear you feel inside?
Cause you were born into this evil world
Where man is killing man and no one knows just why
What have we become? Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed you must build again

When the children cry let them know we tried
Cause when the children sing then the new world begins

Little child you must show the way
To a better day for all the young
Cause you were born for the world to see
That we all can live with love and peace
No more Death Eaters and all the wars will end
One united world under Merlin

When the children cry let them know we tried
Cause when the children sing, then the new world begins

Draco grinned as he started his guitar solo; it was moments like this that the young blond enjoyed. The spotlight was on him, illuminating his pale complexion and hair. It really was one of the best parts of the sad song in his opinion. However, as Draco thought about it, the song was more than appropriate for the times that were all around them.

What have we become? Just look what we have done
All that we destroyed you must build again
No more Death Eaters and all the wars will end
One united world under Merlin
When the children cry let them know we tried
When the children fight let them know it ain't right
When the children pray let them know the way
Cause when the children sing then the new world begins

As the applause died down, the group finished up with a couple of traditional carols that were happier than their previous songs, and ended the concert portion of the ball. The group all tiredly walked down the stairs and into the staff lounge where they collapsed with a collective sigh into several of the plush chairs that surrounded the fireplace.

Anton, seeing his chance to get out of his predicament easily, let out a long-suffering sigh, closed his eyes, and leaned his head back against the chair. "I don't know about you guys, but I think I could go to sleep right now and not wake up until the holidays are over."

Blaise groaned, and laughed softly. "Me too, mate. I don't know if I want to even get out of this chair. Why is it that the teachers get such comfy chairs?"

Anton opened his eyes, looked over at the plush green chair, and chuckled. "No telling, really. Perhaps they deserve it after putting up with us in classes all the time."

Draco snorted and huffed softly. "Not like we ever actually see you in classes. I have been fending off questions for a while now about why no one ever sees you around school. There are quite a few guys and girls that would love to catch you outside a concert."

Anton blinked several times and looked over at Draco. "Really? I guess I have been a bit too preoccupied to notice. I am usually walking around trying to think of lyrics for a new song, when I'm not doing homework and stuff."

Draco smirked at Anton. "Well, guess we need to open your eyes a bit then. Do you not notice the sighs and lustful stares while you are performing? Are you daft or are you so into the zone that you don't notice anything but the music?"

Anton frowned slightly, trying to recall the looks on the crowd's faces as he sung. "I guess I must have been in the zone. About the only thing I look at the audience for most of the time is to find out if they liked the song."

Wayne, who was quiet up until this point smiled over at Anton. "Anton, just because you don't notice your adoring fans, don't mean that the rest of us are blind. We are probably popular mainly because of you. I mean you're mysterious, you are only seen at concerts and practice. There is a huge betting pool going around on your identity even. If you do end up telling the world who you really are, I am sure you will make someone a very rich person," he said with a laugh.

Anton looked at Wayne with a stunned expression. "The students are gambling on my identity? Why in the world does it matter so much who I really am?"

Wayne shrugged. "Well, you could be anyone really. People love to place wagers on things around here, especially in Slytherin. Their pool of money, I think, is biggest of any of the houses, or so I have been told by Blaise."

Anton looked over at Blaise. "Just how much money is riding on who I am and who's winning?"

"Well, it's up to a hundred Galleons at the moment. The leaders in the pool have narrowed it down to seventh year Gryffindors, and one even bet on Ravenclaw. However, the one that made the bet for Ravenclaw withdrew his bet because he figured that no one in Ravenclaw would be in a band during a NEWT year," said Blaise as he began to laugh.

Anton frowned at Blaise. "I can't believe that people are wasting their money on a stupid wager. I suspect quite a few of them don't have a lot of money to begin with and are going to end up losing it."

Blaise snorted. "Well, someone has to win sooner or later, unless you never plan on telling anyone who you are, and then you are right, everyone would be wasting their money."

Anton sighed. "I actually never planned on telling anyone. I mean what happens if I don't tell anyone for several years? Who is pocketing all the money?"

Draco smiled. "Well, actually there is a term limit on it. If no one at all finds out who you are by the end of the school year, all the money is returned. Once we get out in the world, I am sure a new one will start up, but at least most of the kids will get their money back. If you can hold out and not screw up for the next six months that is."

Anton laughed softly. "Well, that shouldn't be too hard if someone doesn't sneak up on me when I am changing."

When Anton finished speaking, Draco suddenly had an idea. He could sneak up on Anton, and find out who he was. He just had to time it properly to get into the band room early and surprise him. Though, as Draco thought about it, he had been trying to catch Anton for weeks now and nothing seemed to be working. Draco was sure that Anton had some kind of charm on the room to identify the occupants of the room before entering. It was actually unnerving that Anton was so Slytherin like.

Though, Draco knew that the seventh-years in Slytherin that had any sort of talent were in the band so it didn't make any sense. Of course, intellectually, Draco knew that each person had the potential to be in more than one house at Hogwarts. He just didn't know what to think of someone who was so Slytherin in another house; it just didn't sit well with him. After a few more moments pondering, Draco stood and strode gracefully to the door and opened it. "Well, I suppose we should make an appearance at the dance. I mean it wouldn't do to ignore our fans."

The group nodded and followed Draco out the door, Anton following up the rear, making sure that his "other" self wasn't running around somewhere before he disappeared to change clothes and personas. Just as Anton passed the punch bowl, his arse was grabbed suddenly, which made the cool, calm, and collected Slytherin mask drop. Anton swung around quickly in an impressive swirl that even Snape would be proud of, drew up into a defensive stance, and glared at the offending person with his wand raised in the air.

"Just what do you think you are doing?" Anton hissed. "Don't you know that it is not a good idea to sneak up on people? What if I had hurt you?"

Anton's attacker gulped audibly and stuttered. "I.... I'm so sorry! I didn't think."

Anton's glare lessoned considerably. "I noticed that. The next time you grab someone's arse without permission, you better be prepared to be hexed."

After Anton's groper scurried away, Anton sighed. 'What does it take to get rid of that kid? I mean come on, he invades my privacy as Harry Potter, and now he runs after me grabbing my arse as Anton! Well, perhaps this time I scared him senseless, and he won't ever do anything like that again.'

Looking around for Draco, Anton spotted him across the room making a beeline towards Harry's look alike; he quickly had to rush into action. Anton reached in his pocket, took out the old DA coin, and set it to buzz Ron. A few moments later Ron jumped slightly, and looked around to spot Draco heading his way. Ron suddenly became panicky and asked Hermione to distract Draco with band business. A moment later, Ron slipped out the hallway and into the loo. Quickly spitting out the gum, and reciting the incantation quietly, Ron became himself again. He waited for a few more minutes until he heard the door open, and the stall next to him open and close. Ron stood there nervously, hoping Draco hadn't followed him into the loo, and peered at the floor between the stalls, seeing part of Harry's costume from the show and relaxed.

"Harry?" Ron asked tentatively.

"Ron? Are you okay now?" Harry knew that he couldn't ask Ron if he was back to normal in case anyone was eavesdropping.

"Right as rain, Harry," Ron replied.

Harry quickly fixed his attire to the outfit that Ron had been wearing just a short while ago and stepped out of the stall. "When you are done, come on out, Ron. I will be looking for you in the hall."

"Right Harry..." Ron spoke, a little sad that his fun was over.

Harry walked into the Great Hall and looked around for Draco, who was keeping Hermione company. Harry slid up next to Hermione; he grinned at her. "Thanks for keeping Draco occupied for me, Hermione. I really had to use the loo."

Hermione tilted her head slightly and nodded. "No problem, Harry. I will just leave you two alone now. Have fun..."

Draco nodded. "We can talk later, Granger…I mean Hermione. I do have some new band ideas I would like to go over with you later. Though it won't be tomorrow, since we have band practice; I can possibly make it Sunday afternoon, if that is all right?"

Hermione smiled, so pleased to see the new and improved Harry was rubbing off on Draco. "Sure, just owl me a time and a place and I will be there." Hermione quickly turned around, not waiting for an answer and left the two alone. Harry noticed a moment later that she must have spotted Ron coming in the Great Hall because she hurried over towards him.


Draco smiled, realizing he was relatively alone with Harry. That is, if you didn't count the whole Hogwarts student body that was milling around talking and dancing around the room. Draco swept into an elegant bow and grinned at Harry. "Would you care to dance, Harry?"

Harry blushed slightly; he hadn't done much of this kind of dancing since fourth year, and he was actually afraid he might step on Draco's feet. "I'd love to, but you might want to keep your feet away from mine. The last time I did any dancing of this kind was the last Yule ball, and I wasn't the best at it."

Draco smirked. "Don't worry, Harry. Ballroom dancing is one of the things that Malfoys are taught from birth. If anyone can teach you how to dance, it's me. You just have to let me lead. You can do that, can't you, Harry?"

Harry smiled and nodded. "Sure, I think I can do that. It might take some getting used to."

Draco took Harry's hand and led him to the dance floor, and began teaching Harry how to dance. It took a bit, and a few hurt toes, but eventually, Draco and Harry were dancing across the floor gathering attention from everywhere. It had slowly begun to be common knowledge that Draco didn't fight with any of the Golden Trio anymore, and of course, the school knew that Hermione Granger was the band's manager, so this shouldn't have surprised them. However, it did; even a very embarrassed Colin Creevey, who had earlier grabbed Anton's arse, flushed bright red, and began mumbling about how he just "knew" that Harry liked guys a long time ago, and no one believed him.

Harry and Draco danced for a while longer, not even realizing that they were being watched. After the last song of the dance ended, they quickly got some punch and joined the throng of students going back to their houses.

'All and all, the evening was a complete success,' thought Albus Dumbledore. 'I wonder how long those two will take to get together now. They looked so nice together dancing. I just hope that Harry doesn't ruin it by keeping Draco in the dark about who he really is for too long.'


Before everyone knew, it was Christmas morning. Harry had actually ended up calling the band together the night before to give them the presents he had bought. They all promised not to open them until the next morning, so each of them carried a small bundle of presents back to their dorm. Harry had ended up getting Draco two sets of gifts, one from Harry, and one from Anton. After the rest of the band left, Harry had snuck down to the kitchen and asked Dobby to deliver the present to Draco. Before Harry could depart, however, Dobby informed him that he had a present for Harry from Master Draco. Harry found it funny that Draco had thought of the same thing to do that he had.

Harry had gotten his band mates custom chess sets that changed colour depending on the house that the person was in. Draco, of course, ended up with a nice dragon set; Blaise got a Merlin chess set featuring dragons, knights, castles, and everything. Wayne ended up getting a lovely phoenix set that had red and black phoenixes as chess pieces. Getting everyone chess sets was one of the more obvious gifts in Harry's mind, because it always seemed like someone wanted to play chess. While he was out purchasing things, he thought about getting Ron a new chess set as well that had a lovely set of lions, however, Harry decided against it in the end and bought a plain chess set that had red and gold pieces. It wasn't as fancy, but it wouldn't look like Anton had bought Ron Weasley a chess set.

Draco had actually gone overboard for his Christmas presents to his band mates by buying everyone brand new instruments. Harry's new guitar even had strings that didn't break so Harry didn't have to buy new strings when he played a little too hard at a concert. Harry thought it was a brilliant, though expensive present. It almost made his chess sets feel a bit cheap. However, Harry reasoned that the chess sets were more personalized than new instruments.

Harry had agonized over Draco's gift for a long time before deciding on a beautiful mahogany box that had a very detailed hand-carved wooden dragon on top. Harry had even asked Hermione to help him on some charms so that it would only open for Harry or Draco. The box itself was considered lucky, and was crafted by artisans in the village of Ban Thai in Northern Thailand. He also purchased another hand-carved Chinese dragon from the same source that was quite different than anything Harry had seen. Harry had even found a spell to make the dragon move around and sleep in a limited space. Harry hoped that Draco liked them.

Christmas day went quickly for Harry, who had received more presents than he ever had before. He got some sweets from Ron, Blaise, and Wayne. Hermione got him several books on protection spells, defensive magic, and general household charms. Harry figured that the protection spells book might be the first one to read, due to Harry and Draco's budding relationship.

Harry was actually surprised to receive a gift from his former professor, Remus Lupin. It was a book on Animagus training. It wasn't just any book however; it was the very book that his father and his friends had used during their Hogwarts years. Harry almost cried when he opened it and saw his father's and Sirius' handwriting. It was the best gift that Harry had ever received.

Harry had decided to leave Draco's present for last since Dobby was delivering several presents last night. Harry had told Dobby to place Draco's present under the tree and it seemed to be missing. Disappointed, Harry went down to the Great Hall for breakfast, wondering what was going on. Did Draco decide that he didn't like him anymore? Did he not like his gift and got Dobby to go get the one he sent? Harry suddenly didn't feel very Christmassy.


When Harry got down to the Great Hall, Draco seemed to be nowhere to be found. Just as he sat down, Hedwig swooped down and dropped a letter from her beak into Harry's waiting hands. Sighing softly, Harry opened the letter and noticed it was Draco's handwriting.

 

Dearest Harry,

After you have eaten breakfast, meet me in the Room of Requirement. I have decided to give you your gifts in person, so I asked Dobby to return them to me. I think you will love them.

Draco


Harry quickly ate breakfast and hurried to the Room of Requirement. The inside was decorated with a huge Christmas tree, with dozens of twinkling fairy lights. The room had a warm and cosy fire burning, with several cups of what looked like hot chocolate. Harry smiled. It seemed that Draco was just being romantic, a much better thought than the ones he had coming down stairs to breakfast. Draco was sprawled out on the couch in front of the fire, looking extremely pleased with himself. Harry suddenly wondered just how long Draco had known about this room.

"Hello, Draco," said Harry.

Draco smiled as he stood up and crossed over towards Harry. Taking his hand in his own, he led Harry over to the couch and told him to sit down. Moving over to the tree, Draco brought back a very large thin package. Harry took the present and slowly began to open it. As the frame was revealed, Harry suddenly thought that Draco had gotten him a picture of himself, which seemed a bit conceited. However, Harry was very wrong; the picture was not of Draco at all. It was a portrait of James, Lily, Remus, and Sirius. Lily was cuddling baby Harry in her arms, and all of them were waving happily at Harry. Harry was shocked, and looked to Draco for an explanation.

Draco took Harry's hand in his again, letting his thumb draw small comforting circles on the back as he began to speak. "Mum and Sirius were actually close when they were growing up; when I told her that I was kind of dating you, she told me that she had something that she was sure that you would like. She pulled out a chest and gave me an old photograph; she said that it was taken shortly after you were born. I researched in the library for a way to make it bigger, and oddly enough, that creepy Creevey was the one that was the most help. I asked him if he knew a way to make a picture portrait-sized, and he pointed me to the right book."

Harry chuckled at that; he often thought that Colin was creepy, especially after he had grabbed Anton's arse after the concert for the ball. Harry was still glaring at Colin off and on for that little stunt. In fact, now that Harry thought about it, the whole thing seemed a little odd. Colin, though he was a bit obsessed with Harry, had never seemed overly touchy feely. He snapped tons of photos, sure, and they were mostly of him, but to just wander up to someone he didn't know and grab their arse?

'Hmm, perhaps I should have a little talk with Colin soon,' Harry thought.

Pulling himself out of his thoughts, he pulled Draco into a hug. "Thank you, Draco, I absolutely love it. I don't really have any place to hang it, so I guess I will have to shrink it and put it in my trunk until I can find a place to hang it."

Draco smirked. "No need, Harry, just spell it to hang above your bed. I doubt anyone would care, I mean with all the posters around on the walls, it will look much better than them."

Harry smiled and nodded. "True, Ron has the Canons pictures all over the place. You should see his room; it looks like an orange blew up in there."

Draco laughed. "That does sound like him. My room, I am sure, is much more tasteful. It was professionally decorated several years ago as a birthday present. It's about the only room in the house that I don't have to worry about breaking some expensive family heirloom or something."

Harry looked at Draco, confused. "Why would you worry about breaking something in your room? You aren't by any means clumsy."

Draco blushed. "Well, the house-elves have a bad habit of surprising me. I had one especially clumsy house-elf once, who actually raised me. Mother was always yelling at him because he kept breaking expensive things. Around second year though, father came home and said that he would not be returning. He mumbled something about you and disappeared. It took me several months to realise where he went. I was kind of glad that he had more people to take care of, though he is a bit daft."

Harry laughed. "You are talking about Dobby, and to be honest, it was my fault. Your father kept beating him up right in front of me, kicking him around, and I couldn't stand it. So I tricked your father into giving him clothes."

Draco laughed, and then frowned slightly. "Father was so mad; he actually left me alone for several weeks after that. However, he was very upset that he had to get a new house-elf. They are rather expensive, after all."

"Well, Dobby is happy, and of course, Hermione is happy that at least one house-elf is happy being free," Harry said as he nodded.

Draco snickered. "Yes, she does have some odd ideas sometimes. She still doesn't realize how insulted the house-elves were with her little campaign. That, and the only person that can free a house-elf is their owner, which would be the current Headmaster. Therefore, her whole campaign on freeing them with knitted things wouldn't have helped. I mean they do our laundry, after all; if it were that easy to free a house-elf, Hogwarts wouldn't have any."

Harry's eyebrows furrowed, as he looked confused and thoughtful. "You know, I never thought of it that way. I guess that is why they need to do some sort of class on wizarding traditions and information, so that people that were raised by Muggles don't waste their energy on lost causes."

Draco suddenly looked thoughtful. "That is a very good idea. Perhaps we could bring it up to Dumbledore, you know, for an after-school kind of club or something."

Harry smiled. "That sounds like a great idea."

Draco nodded and sat pondering for a moment before remembering Harry's other present. "Oh, I have one more thing for you. I was actually glad you got me two presents, which I really loved, by the way. I have never seen anything like them before."

Harry blushed and smiled. "Well, I know it was a little play off your name, and I am sure that most people do that, but I saw them and I thought they were unique enough to be different."

Draco grinned and handed Harry the other box. "I know that we are probably a little old for it, it may be a little girlish, but I saw these in a little shop I was passing and I thought you might like it."

Harry opened up the large box and there were several furry objects inside. Slowly sticking his hand inside, he pulled out a large black dog that looked remarkably like Sirius's Animagus form, and a white deer that looked remarkably like Harry's Patronus. Harry blushed, clutched the stuffed animals to his chest, and let out a soft sob. Harry had never had a teddy bear or anything growing up. Whenever he tried to grab one of Dudley's old ones, he would tear it to pieces and dump it in the trash.

Draco was unsure what to make of Harry's reaction to the stuffed animals. Harry looked like he was about to cry; perhaps it was a bad idea. Draco made a gesture towards the animals and tried to make light of the situation. "Well, I ... if you don't like them, Harry, I can take them back."

Harry blinked and turned to stare at Draco with a confused expression on his face. "Draco... I love them." Harry stuttered embarrassedly, "I... I... never had any stuffed animals when I was growing up. I was just the freak that got clothes hangers for presents and old clothes. I tried to grab one or two that Dudley had tossed out, but he always found them, beat me up, and then ripped them apart."

Draco reached over and took Harry's hand in his own, staring down at the young man that had captured his heart. Silently, Draco vowed that some day, those horrible Muggles would pay for the pain and misery that they had caused Harry.


Several days later, Harry arrived at breakfast just in time for the daily delivery of the Daily Prophet to be thrust into his face and waved at him. Harry glared at Ron for just a moment before grabbing the newspaper and beginning to read the headline.

 

FORMER MINISTER AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE MINISTER ARRESTED!
By Cornelia Sioners

Several sources have come forward recently regarding the 1995-96 school year, and the treatment of the children that were attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, that has caused a large stir in the magical community.

Cornelius Fudge assigned Dolores Jane Umbridge, Former Special Assistant to the Minister of Magic, to the job of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher when Headmaster Dumbledore was having trouble finding someone to fill the post due to suspected rumours of a curse on the position. Umbridge gradually took over the school, first becoming Hogwarts High Inquisitor and eventually becoming Headmistress. This probably would strike anyone as odd, especially considering Ms. Umbridge did not have any training in the field, and had no patience for children.

What the Minister was thinking about when hiring her has now become known. The Minster thought that Albus Dumbledore was plotting to take over the Ministry, and in a plot devised by himself and his assistant, they drove the Headmaster out of Hogwarts. They decided that they needed someone in Hogwarts that could be trusted to run the school properly.

During her time as a teacher at Hogwarts, she repeatedly belittled her students and those she felt were especially deserving were forced to write lines with what has now been identified as a Blood Quill. For those of you unfamiliar with what that is, it is a Dark Arts quill which, instead of using ink, uses the blood of whoever uses it and scratches whatever is written into the user's hand, which can lead to permanent scars if repeated enough times.

We at the Daily Prophet are not sure what is more shocking, that a professor at the school had little or no training in the field they were teaching, or the fact that said professor was using the Dark Arts to punish the children in her care.

It also was revealed that Ms. Umbridge sent Dementors to harass Harry Potter the summer before his fifth year, trying to get Mr. Potter expelled from Hogwarts. When this plan didn't work, she subjected him to an entire year of writing of lines with his blood. When this was investigated under Veritaserum, it was determined that Ms. Umbridge was hopeful to be in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's service, and had used her pull at the Ministry to try to make an impression on You-Know-Who.

When investigators brought this information to the former Minster of Magic, he tried to appear shocked, as quoted by Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt:

"He claimed that Ms. Umbridge had plenty of experience in the field she taught. Unfortunately for the former Minister, he couldn't tell us how he knew that she had these abilities. When we told the former Minister that she was only teaching theory in her classes, and insisted that the young children in her classes didn't need practical skills, the former Minister only nodded in agreement. It seems that this was an order by the Minister of Magic himself. He then went on to claim that he was doing it for the children's protection since they shouldn't be involved in the war that is now going on, and having these skills would only encourage them to get involved."

When Auror Shacklebolt informed the Minister that the war with You-Know-Who wasn't even going on at the time, due to the Ministry convincing the public that You-Know-Who hadn't returned, the Minister insisted that he meant the war between himself and Albus Dumbledore and by extension, Harry Potter.

Regardless of the former Minister's wild ramblings, Auror Shacklebolt insisted that Mr. Fudge was not entirely sane, and though they were prosecuting him, he would probably be confined to St. Mungo's for life.

The former Minister will be brought up on charges of hiring an unqualified professor for Hogwarts, allowing her to take over the school and allowing her to endanger the students of said institution. He will also be charged with taking bribes by former Ministry employee and convicted Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, and several other sources to look the other way when crimes were committed.

If the former Minister does prove to be sane enough to stand trial, he and Ms. Umbridge will be facing life in Azkaban.


Harry put the paper down for a few moments and let out a sigh. It really was for the best that those two were out of the way, but Harry still felt a bit guilty for turning over the evidence. Luckily for Harry, he had convinced the paper that he didn't want to get anywhere near that Skeeter woman, and would not give the report to anyone at all if she was in audience.

It was then that the editor of the Daily Prophet told Harry that due to numerous complaints about her behaviour and her reporting style that she had been sacked several days before. It made Harry very happy to realise that he wouldn't have to be dealing with her in the future. The new reporter was much nicer and didn't try to twist his words around and make horrible comments about him while doing it.

Harry decided to play innocent since no one knew it was Harry that had ratted out the Minister, and started the even larger investigation by the new Minister and his office. The editor told the Minister that he could not reveal his sources, but they were definitely true and even showed the Minister a Pensieve memory of hands stained with blood as a young person wrote lines. Luckily, for Harry, he had actually gotten the memory from Fred and George. Their lines were incidentally, "I will not play pranks on my professors," though it was hard to read with all the blood.

Harry nodded to Ron and grinned. "Well, at least they won't be bothering us again, huh?"

Ron nodded and grinned back. "Yep, mate, at least the toad is getting what she deserves. Over half of the DA had lines of some sort carved into their hands because of her."

Harry nodded, looking over at Hermione who looked a bit disturbed. "Ron, did you say over half of the DA got lines from that woman?"

Ron nodded, pulling out his own hand, and using his wand, uncovered some sort of product covering his hand, which seemed to be some sort of wizarding scar makeup. The line clearly read, "I will not be friends with Harry Potter."

Hermione and Harry fumed, and Ron looked embarrassed. "She kept making me write it until my hand was so sore that I could barely write in class. She wanted me to stop being friends with Harry. She said that if everyone deserted you, that you would leave the wizarding world and never come back with your lies. Luckily, I was able to hide the scars with this stuff I found left in the common room after some of the girls had one of those makeover parties. I didn't want Harry to get even more hostile to the woman. I didn't want him to be expelled. Sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to keep it from you. I know how you hate having stuff kept from you for your own good, but I just couldn't tell you. Please don't be mad."

Harry nodded, still clearly upset. "Well, Ron, I was a bit moody that year, and I had a lot to deal with, so I guess I should forgive you and thank you for not letting me get expelled. I probably would have gone off the deep end if I had seen that line written on your hand."

Ron nodded. "Yeah, that's what I figured. Luckily, I was able to get Ginny to show me how to use the stuff. The Glamour she tried on it wore off after awhile, and I needed something more lasting."

Harry nodded. "Well, did you try getting Madam Pomfrey to fix it?"

Ron shook his head. "No, Umbridge told me that it couldn't be healed. Guess we know why now."

Hermione shook her head. "Ron, don't you think that maybe she told you that so that you wouldn't try to get it healed? So perhaps that Harry would see it?"

Ron looked shocked and shook his head no slowly. "I didn't think of that. I guess we should both ask her after the trial. I mean we might be called on as witnesses. It would help to have them, just in case."

Harry and Hermione nodded, all agreeing with Ron.

'The trial will be interesting,' Harry thought. 'I wonder what the public would think when they find out that their hero was hurt by that woman. It will be interesting to say the least. I think it's time to use some of this unwanted fame for something useful for a change.'


Author Notes: Thanks to Jayson, Rob, Laureen, and several of my other fans who have helped me out with ideas for this chapter. Thanks to my wonderful betas, Knightmare, Keikokin, and Draeconin.

Mutare Persona = Change Person

Draco's for Christmas can be purchased from:
http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?PAGE=PROFRAME&PROD_ID=555185
http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?PAGE=PROFRAME&PROD_ID=566172


Music Credits:

1) Crash and Burn - Savage Garden

2) Help Me - Nick Carter

3) When the Children Cry - White Lion - Yes, I know that God was changed to Merlin, and Presidents were changed to Death Eaters. Please forgive me, but I doubt that Harry would use either of those terms when he wrote a song.


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