Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler

Author Notes: I had to be a bit creative on how the Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows are incorporated in this story since we didn’t know about them until book six and seven. I decided that I didn't like the way Harry, Hermione, and Ron found out about the Deathly Hallows, so I changed that. Which means, no sitting around trying to figure out clues that Dumbledore could have been nice enough to tell Harry about before he was killed.

Author Thanks: I would like to express my gratitude to several people that this story just wouldn’t be the way it is without them. First, thanks to my best friend Jayson, who always tries his very best to help me when I get stuck, or need a helping hand.

Secondly to my test reader Greg who seems so insightful when I need help with this story, and who helped me fix a plot hole that I didn’t realize I had. He did a terrific job helping me, and I appreciate his contribution to the chapter.

Credits also go out to Keikokin who is always helpful when I need an idea or a hand at betaing. She actually gave me several ideas that I used in this chapter, as well as helped edit the story.

Recognition also goes out to Draeconin who graciously volunteered to help me with my story. In fact, he has been helping me improve the story on the whole. Draeconin found several plot holes that no one even caught, and pointed out some things that just really didn’t make sense that needed to be changed. This means that if you go back and read things from the beginning, you will see some changes, and an improved story line. I am so happy that he volunteered.

Finally, I would like to thank my two new editors, Dawn and Amazonia who caught some timeline errors as well as made the chapter much better with their great editing. Thanks for your hard work, I really appreciate it.

Canon Notes: I started planning and writing this story before the last two books were published. This means that this story is definitely Alternate Universe (AU). Here are some relevant notes:

  1. Blaise is Italian in my story, not Black, and doesn’t have prejudices against Muggle-borns. I planned this story long before I knew his race or of his prejudices.
  2. Several of the characters that are important in this story have died in the books. I am not going to suddenly kill them off unless I find just cause.
  3. I am planning to incorporate some of both books, but I planned quite a few of the scenes before the books came out. Therefore, this story definitely isn’t following most parts of known canon.
  4. Please note that this story contains spoilers for all books.

Further Notes: The chapter was already fourteen pages long when I decided to stop, and I had to really ponder what Severus’ answer would be. Yes, I am not following book six and seven as far as Tonks is concerned. It just seemed odd to me, and considering Remus was so upset about being married and having a kid, I just had the brainchild that he wasn’t happy because he was gay and he was forced into it. I know, it’s a little far fetched, but that was what I thought.

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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 7 Recap:

In Chapter 7 many things happened, not the least of which was Snape officially becoming a part of the band. We also learn more about Snape’s twenty-four hour glamour that he keeps on himself. Harry muses how much it must tire out Severus to maintain a whole glamour, but really, since Severus wears clothes that cover nearly every part of his body, all the glamour would have to cover would be his head, neck, arms, and hands.

Harry finally gets Draco to apologize without using his vast wealth. We find out some interesting information about Draco and his father. Did Lucius actually want Draco to marry someone only to provide an heir when there are so many ways to have a child for gay couples, or did he have another nefarious purpose? Unless some further evidence surfaces, we may never know.

Harry and Draco have their first real date in the Room of Requirement. However, things don’t quite end well, with Harry finally telling Draco who he is. After several minutes of explanation, Draco leaves to go back to his room.

Chapter 8 – Courtships, Sirens, and Dreams

Harry stood still for several moments as he stared at the door that Draco just closed. After a number of minutes had passed, Harry fell back onto the couch the room had provided and sighed wearily.

‘Well, that wasn’t quite how I pictured that ending,’ Harry thought to himself.

After several minutes, Harry got off the couch and decided to head back to his dorm. He was unsure what to do about the situation. Draco had looked shocked and slightly upset, but he hadn’t told Harry that he never wanted to see him again, so there was still hope.

After so many years of having Draco blow up at him he was unprepared for the calm, thoughtful Draco that had just walked out of the door. He knew that people grew up, but he had, for some reason, pictured a louder response. Not that he was complaining; it probably meant that Draco just needed to think about the situation and come up with a solution. Harry just hoped that Draco wouldn’t decide to stop dating him; he wasn’t quite sure how he would take it.

Harry tossed and turned that night, a fitful sleep at best. Waking up an hour or two later, Harry decided that perhaps some warm milk and biscuits would be a good idea and called for Dobby. After a few minutes - Harry was afraid he would have to trudge all the way to the kitchens to get his snack - Dobby popped into existence on his bed.

"Harry Potter, sir! What can Dobby do for Mr Harry Potter?” Dobby grabbed the covers over Harry’s leg and hugged them close.

Harry sighed, "Dobby, could you perhaps get me a snack? Maybe some warm milk and biscuits? I am having problems sleeping.”

"Of course, Harry Potter, sir! Dobby is happy to be of service to such a great Wizard!” Dobby finally quit hugging Harry’s leg through the blankets and disappeared with a pop.

In the kitchen, while Dobby was preparing Harry’s late night snack, Mipsey, Draco Malfoy’s elf, was in the kitchen as well, preparing her master’s normal late night snack. Mipsey and Dobby had the same mother, so they briefly chatted while the pair of them worked.

"Dobby, Master Draco is sad. I’s made a lovely dinner for him and Mr Potter, and he’s so sad,” Mipsey worriedly said.

Dobby glanced at his sister and nodded, "Mr Harry Potter is sad too, and can’t sleep. I’s not liking him sad. I’s wish that we could do something.” Dobby turned to get the freshly baked biscuits.

Mipsey nodded, more to herself than anything as Dobby currently had his back turned. She watched Dobby for a moment before pulling a vial from under her uniform and hurriedly pouring it into the drinks. Dobby would have no idea what he was delivering. Mipsey settled the snack on her master’s tray and popped out of the room.

Dobby arrived shortly afterward and placed the tray on the bed. "Can Dobby be getting Mister Harry Potter anything else?”

"No thanks, Dobby, this is great. Thank you for the snack. I really appreciate it.”

"No problem, Harry Potter, sir. If you need anything else, you just call Dobby.”

Harry nodded, picking up a biscuit and beginning to eat it. Though he tried to settle down after his snack, he still tossed and turned for several more hours; then, suddenly, it was like a switch had been thrown, and Harry finally fell into a peaceful sleep. Harry, of course, wasn’t quite prepared for the vivid scenes that would suddenly play out in his subconscious.

When Harry awoke, he was puzzled to be in a room that he didn’t recognize. It was a nicely decorated room, with a tasteful colour palette of blues, greens, and silvers, and a sprinkling of black. The bed that he was lying on was covered in a set of silvery sheets and a beautiful coverlet of blues and silvers that felt like silk against his skin.

Harry, at this point, realized he was naked, which should have surprised him. However, he wasn’t sure what to think at the moment. Have I been kidnapped? Harry thought to himself. He wasn’t even sure if he was even still at Hogwarts. The room wasn’t extremely large, though it was a nice size.

Across the room there were two doors -- one was clearly a door to the outside, and the other seemed to lead to another part of the room. Looking around, Harry spotted his wand; it felt like it belonged there. Puzzled, Harry snuck toward the door and pressed his ear to it.

Startled, Harry heard the sounds of a shower and decided to open the door to find out just whose room he was in. Harry actually forgot that he was naked as he slowly twisted the knob and opened the door a crack. Inside the room was rather steamy, but Harry could clearly see a slim, well-formed male figure in the shower.

As the door opened, the figure in the shower started. Carefully turning around to see who would dare intrude in his room, let alone his shower, he was startled to find Harry standing there naked, with a clearly confused look on his face. Grinning, he slowly pushed back the screen, which gave Harry an eyeful of a magnificently wet Draco Malfoy in all his glory.

Harry gasped, scanning Draco’s body up and down several times, noticeably soaking up every line and curve and the length of Draco’s hardening cock.

"Well, well, Harry, I certainly didn’t think I would find you naked in my room. I thought we had decided to let me think things over tonight, not have you in here trying to seduce me,” said Draco.

Harry blinked, lifting his eyes to Draco’s face once again. "What do you mean? I woke up naked in your bed, not the other way around, Draco.” Harry tilted his head slightly, and Draco could tell that he had evidently jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

"I’m sorry, Harry, I have no idea why you’re here. Unless…” Draco trailed off, and then suddenly yelled for Mipsey.

Mipsey appeared moments later startling Harry, who quickly tried to cover his body. The house-elf didn’t even look in his direction only having eyes for her Master. "I’s here, Master Malfoy. What can Mipsey do for you?”

Draco had to carefully choose his words. "Mipsey, did you put anything in our snacks or drinks tonight that shouldn’t have been there?”

Mipsey started looking a little frightened and shook her head frantically. "I’s sorry, Master! Please don’t punish Mipsey!”

Visibly annoyed, Draco calmed himself by taking a few deep breaths. "What was in it, Mipsey? Don’t leave out any details.”

Mipsey, obviously upset, fell to her knees and hugged her master’s leg, begging him not to hurt her as she told her tale. "I’s just wanting Master happy, so I’s put a potion in your milks. Until Master’s happy again, dream won’t end.”

"Mipsey, how could you use a Heart’s Ease Potion on us?” Draco exclaimed. "That potion can be dangerous if used at the wrong times! The dream won’t let us wake up until we have sex, but we have some differences to settle to make things right. How could you do this to us, Mipsey?”

Mipsey started tugging on her ears, sobbing out her apologies before disappearing with a pop, leaving the pair to decide what to do.

Draco sighed, "I am so sorry, Harry; we don’t really have a choice. If she had just used it on me, it wouldn’t have worked. However, because she involved the both of us we… Oh, Merlin, why did she do this? I have never hurt her like my father did! I protected her from him.” Draco sighed, grabbed a towel, and began drying himself off.

Harry stood silently, a dawning realization settling upon him. "I'm sorry, Draco, but you have to help me understand what's going on here, I don't know about these potions. If we are in a dream, how did the house-elf show up and why were you in the shower? If this is all just a dream, when we have sex will it have really happened? I still want to be with you, Draco. I want to have sex with you, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind for our first time. I had hoped we were something special. Your elf shouldn’t have used it without our consent.”

"Mipsey must have known that I was upset and wouldn’t let me be.”

Harry sighed softly, his voice sounding clearly ashamed. "I told you I was sorry, Draco.”

"It’s okay, Harry. There is nothing to worry about,” assured Draco.

"That's easy for you to say. Here I am again, just someone's tool to be manipulated, regardless of how I feel or what I want. You see why I needed to be Anton sometimes?"

Draco looked up into Harry’s jade coloured eyes, nodding. "I'm sorry. This isn't how I wanted us to resolve things either, here we are. Let me at least explain a bit and try to help you understand what's happening. A person or house-elf that puts it in your food or drink has a short window of opportunity to appear to the subjects of the potion; it’s normally used by house-elves to repair marriages, since you can’t leave the dream until all parties are satisfied. It’s not widely used anymore, but my father and mother had it used on them several times.”

Draco continued, his face showing his amusement. "I think the magic brought you to me because you fell asleep before I did. I just got finished with some homework and was taking a shower. I am not sure why you appeared here naked, though I do admire the view,” he said as he winked at Harry, causing him to blush.

Stepping closer, Draco began towelling himself off again as he grinned at Harry. "Perhaps you had a fantasy about me involving the shower as well, which means it would have grabbed us while I was in the shower? Or perhaps you sleep nude? Regardless, I am certainty not complaining about your state of undress.”

Harry blushed again, looking down at the ground, ignoring the dream questions or his current nude status. "I can’t say I’m very happy being forced into this, but it’s not as if I don’t want to. I… just, well… That is to say… Will I…? I mean… That is to say… I…. Bloody hell, this is so embarrassing!” muttered Harry. "I’ve… well… never done this before. There hasn’t really been time for me to do much exploring the past several years, and…”

Draco caught Harry off guard by dropping the towel and pulling him into his arms to give him a gentle hug, which cut off Harry’s stuttering. He sighed softly, breathing in the wonderful smells that were all Draco. Inhaling deeply, Harry rested his head on Draco’s shoulder, and listening to Draco speak.

"It’s not real, Harry, it's just a dream. You may not even remember it when you wake up; it all depends on how much we consumed,” Draco whispered. "You will wake up feeling at peace with me and our situation.”

"So I'll wake up feeling at peace, and I'll technically still be a virgin, but nothing will really be resolved, will it? The issues that got us here won't really be addressed, and things will just come to a head later so we can have a bigger fight later on?"

Draco pulled Harry into him tighter, "Not exactly. We don't forget what happened in the past; the potion just takes the edge off our feelings and forces us to come to a positive agreement about things."

"A positive agreement? What the hell does that mean?" Harry asked.

"It means we have to agree to stay together as a couple. But, Harry, I just needed time to think things through; I wasn't going to break up with you, and I understand how you feel about being used and powerless over your own life. Knowing that you are Anton makes a lot of the lyrics really make sense. I was upset you didn't tell me earlier, but I understand what you were doing and why. I'd not be leaving you, even without the potion."

Harry sighed, "Well, you're right, I guess. It is what it is and we just have to go through with it, so let's get it over with."

Draco started running his fingers through Harry's hair, feeling the boy begin to relax under his touch. "No, Harry, we're not going to just 'get it over with'. Look, we have no way of knowing how much of this we're going to remember tomorrow, and even if it isn't real, you might have some memories and I don't want you to feel like you've had your first time stolen from you. We're going to do this slow and carefully and do everything to make sure it's perfect for you. And if we do happen to remember some of this tomorrow, that will just set the stage for when we are able to do it for real. Perhaps, since it’s your first time, you should be on top? I can prepare myself, or I can teach you to prepare me. Either way is fine with me.”

"All right, Draco, teach me what you know,” Harry replied.



By Cornelia Sioners

The trials of former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and his appointed Senior Undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge, were held in a closed session of the Wizengamot due to security concerns.

Both trials were lengthy and witnesses included a large number of former and current students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This reporter was utterly shocked by the testimonies coming out of Courtroom Number Three. Due to the wide variety of witnesses to the crimes of Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge, there was no doubt in this reporter’s mind that they would both be sentenced to life in Azkaban, if not worse.

The following charges were levelled against the former Minister:

Malfeasance in Office Corruption namely:
1. Taking bribes from former Ministry Employee and now convicted Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy. 2. Granting pardons to convicted Death Eaters who were let out of Azkaban under false pretences, that being under the Imperious Curse.
Criminal Negligence namely:
1. Hiring Dolores Jane Umbridge for the post of Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, whom he later made Hogwarts first High Inquisitor and then acting Headmistress. During her tenure at Hogwarts, ex-Minister Fudge approved Umbridge's takeover of Hogwarts, allowing her to endanger the lives of its students, and sanctioned her carte blanche invasion of the school, despite her having no teaching or child care qualifications.
Actus Reus namely:
1. Condoning Death Eater activity by failing to act in his official capacity as Minister, and thereby allowing criminal activity to take place2. Being a financial supporter to the Death Eater group.
After several hours and many testimonies, ex-Minister Cornelius Fudge was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to the maximum security wing of St Mungos, where he will finish his current treatments for his nervous breakdown, Paranoid Schizophrenia, and Neuroticism. When medically released, he will be confined to Azkaban for the rest of his days. His wand will be snapped and he shall never be allowed to practice magic again.

As for the trial of Dolores Umbridge, it was anything but simple as several witnesses were underage at the time the offences happened. When the Clerk of the Court read the charges the crowd and everyone associated with the trial couldn’t believe what the woman had done to gain power.

Dolores Jane Umbridge was charged with the following:

Attempted murder; and Soliciting a person or persons unknown to murder others under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and Accessory to Attempted Murder for namely:

1. Sending Dementors to Little Whinging on August 2nd, 1995, to kill Harry Potter in order to gain favour with the Death Eaters.

Aiding and Abetting Terrorist Activity:

1. Namely providing financially backing to a terrorist organisation, i.e. the Group calling themselves Death Eaters, and 2. Sedition (convocating together any considerable number of people, physically or verbally, without lawful authority, under the pretence of redressing some public grievance, to the disturbing of the public peace). namely 3. Promoting the murder of Muggle-borns by trying to convince the population that all Muggle-borns have stolen their magic from purebloods, and should be forced to give it back by making restitution for their crimes before they are punished by death. Several Muggle-borns have reported that she had assaulted them and actively targeted them in her classroom, and at the Ministry of Magic.


1. Two counts of fraud: Count One, befuddling the Minister of Magic into thinking she was qualified to teach students. 2. Count Two, falsifying documents to show that she had the training to teach students.

Child Abuse and Assault

1. Using the Dark Arts: namely, one Cursed Blood Quill and several charms and curses, with the intention of punishing the children in her care.

Grievous Bodily Harm, Torture and Use of the Unforgiveables

1. Attempting to use the Cruciatus Curse on Harry Potter.2. Ten counts of casting the Cruciatus Curse on Ex-Minister Cornelius Fudge, no less than ten times. This has been confirmed by St. Mungos healers.

Conspiracy against Rights namely:

1. The right of all Wizards and Witches, whether Pureblood, Half-blood or Muggle-born to practice magic, primarily by promoting hatred of said Muggle-borns.

Use of the Dark Arts

1. As many of our readership know, using the Dark Arts to discipline children is punishable by no less than the death sentence or two life sentences to Azkaban prison, your magic bound and your wand snapped. The fact that Dolores Umbridge was using the Dark Arts to punish the children in her care was understandably upsetting to the families in the courtroom.

During a recess this reporter talked to Mrs Molly Weasley of Ottery St. Catchpole, who told me that she was appalled to learn that four of her children had these almost permanent sentences on the back of their hands. According to testimony, the children were told by Umbridge that the sentences couldn’t be removed. However, it has come to light that they can in fact be healed with a new skin restoration potion that was recently invented by Potions master Severus Snape. Even after hearing of a possible cure for her children, Mrs. Weasley vowed that if the court didn’t do anything to the woman she would find a way to make Umbridge pay herself.

This reporter also spoke to four of Mrs Weasley’s children who had the following marked on their hands: Ron Weasley had "I will not be friends with Harry Potter.” Ginevra Weasley and year mate Colin Creevy had "I will not fawn over Harry Potter.” Fred and George Weasley, owners of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, had "I will stop creating stupid jokes.”

Even Harry Potter had one of these lines on his hand, which read "I must not tell lies.” It was explained to the court that he was made to write these lines when he was telling everyone that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had returned. Much of the audience later expressed remorse; they had thought that Harry Potter was unstable because of ex-reporter Rita Skeeter’s newspaper articles.

After a long list of students who had various lines written into their hands, some more bizarre than others, this reporter actually lost track of the numerous children that Dolores Jane Umbridge had hurt. Witnesses also say that she took particular joy in watching each child wince and scream as their blood wrote the lines assigned.

Dolores Jane Umbridge was found guilty of all charges. She was sentenced to having her magic bound, her wand snapped, and life in Azkaban with no possibility of parole. It was further stated that if the Ministry gained control over the Dementors again, she would be given the Dementor’s Kiss.

The band was just about to start practicing when a looming figure flowed into the room; he was dressed in a pair of skin-tight black jeans, a deep green silk shirt and a robe that was open and floating around him as he walked. Wayne and Blaise, who hadn’t seen Professor Snape’s new look, were absolutely stunned by his entrance. When the two boys realized that this was Professor Snape, Wayne almost fainted, and Blaise looked like he was impersonating a codfish.

Severus walked over to the pair and, using his most intimidating voice, said, "Mr Zabini, Mr Hopkins, please control yourselves. Mr Zabini, do be so kind as to quit making fish impressions at my person.”

Blaise and Wayne began to laugh, and soon the rest of the group followed. After several minutes, Anton looked over at Professor Snape and spoke. "Professor, you might need to change a few of your habits or everyone is going to figure out who you are.”

"What, do I dare ask, would you consider the habits that need to be erased?” Snape said coolly.

"Well, you have the whole intimidating robe and walk thing going on. And of course there’s your speaking voice; you have a tendency to not speak like everyone else, and that could give you away, too. Like, for instance, you should have told Blaise to stop making silly faces at you, not at your person,” replied Anton.

Severus stood quietly for several minutes, making Anton squirm slightly. "I suppose you are right, Mr Stryder. Of course the robe was closed until I arrived in the room. I think the students might have become a bit curious because of my attire. I also suppose that calling everyone in the band ‘Mister’ will not be helpful, either. I will make an effort to be less eloquent, for the benefit of the group. Once I think of a suitable name for myself, I will allow you to call me by it, instead. For now, just call me Snape.”

After the discussion about what to call the Professor was over, the band began practicing the Professor’s songs. After several minutes, Wayne and Anton gradually quit playing, staring at Severus with a blank, enthralled look. It took several more minutes for Severus to realize that Draco and Blaise were the only ones continuing to play.

After Severus realized that most of the band had stopped playing, he turned around to look at the blank expressions. Puzzled, he pulled out his wand and performed a diagnostic spell on each of them before looking at them, even more perplexed than before. Looking over at Draco, he waved towards the stunned group.

"Do you have any idea what is going on? Surely I am not that out of practice?” asked Severus.

"I don’t think so. They haven’t heard you sing before…” Draco trailed off for several moments before realizing what was going on. "I think I know what’s happening. Remember when I was little and I first heard you sing?”

Realization dawned on Severus at that moment. "Yes, I remember. I found out many years later that my voice has an odd effect on anyone that is gay or bisexual. It eventually wears off, but I will have to sing for them for several days, if not more, to get them used to it.”

After making a gesture at Wayne and Anton, they came out of their little trance, and looked over at Severus.

"We might have a little problem. I had forgotten that my voice is particularly mesmerizing to gay or bisexual men. Before we can practice as a whole band, I will have to sing for you to get you used to the sound. It may take a little while for you to adjust,” said Severus apologetically.

Anton blinked. "I have never heard of that particular talent before. Of course, weren’t there women who used to lure sailors to their death with their voices? Wonder if you have one in your bloodline somewhere.”

Severus pondered for several moments. "You know, I never thought to research it. I haven’t really sung for many people before now. It is entirely possible that a Siren resides in my family tree. Luckily, the old tales of Sirens were a bit exaggerated.”

Severus cleared his throat and launched into teaching mode. "In wizarding history, Sirens were normally talented singers who could mesmerize people with their song. Normally it was to stop suitable mates from leaving the area, back in ancient times when suitable breeding partners were hard to find. These days, several popular singers have that ability themselves. It’s easy to get fans when all they want to do is listen and stare at you adoringly. It is a bit disturbing, to say the least. At least it eventually wears off and doesn’t affect those that are happily married, or in a serious long term partnership.”

Anton stared at Severus for a moment and began to laugh softly. Severus didn’t quite see what was so funny and began glaring at him.

After several seconds, Anton smiled. "I have two things to ask. The first one is: at what age did you say that Draco stared at you adoringly? Secondly, you mentioned that the song mesmerized people. Doesn’t it then actually only attract those of the Siren’s chosen gender to breed with? Which means, I assume, that you are gay, Professor?”

"You are correct, surprisingly; have you been reading some books recently?” Severus asked, chuckling softly while continuing to speak. "Are you fishing for information, Mr Str… I mean… Anton?” Anton had the decency to blush faintly. "My, my, you are a nosey little thing, aren’t you? I was, at one time, bisexual, actually, but I do prefer men these days. Not that it is really any of your business. As for the first question, perhaps that would be a question you should ask Draco.”

Anton looked over at Draco, who was blushing bright red, with a grin, "I was twelve, all right? I had just decided that girls were too icky to even consider doing anything with. Of course I kept that opinion to myself. It wasn’t until Severus’s song mesmerized me that I had to come to the realization that I was gay, first. ”

Anton nodded and began to chuckle to himself before turning toward Blaise, raising a questioning eyebrow.

Blaise grumped softly, "Not that it’s any of your business, Stryder, but I have heard him sing several times before now, so I am immune. Furthermore, though I am bisexual, I prefer women. Does that answer your questions, Mr Nosey?”

Anton grinned. "Yes, it does. What about you, Wayne?”

Wayne blushed. "Well, I would take a guess that answer is rather obvious, considering those you witnessed me snogging personally.”

Anton nodded. "You know… it’s interesting to think about what it takes for people to talk about these things. Last time I mentioned my sexuality to one of my friends, I thought they would faint.”

The whole group got a good laugh from that comment and looked towards Severus for a moment.

After several minutes, Severus sighed. "I suppose I should get…" Severus looked momentarily frustrated. "‘I should get Draco and Blaise to play for me for a bit, and allow you two to adjust. Just try your hardest not to jump me. I don’t know how I would explain it to the Headmaster.”

For the last several days, Harry had been having an increasing problem that didn’t want to resolve itself. Though Harry’s Occlumency shields were better than they had been in previous years, Voldemort’s increasing anger and happiness were starting to leak through. He was having massive headaches that didn’t seem to want to go away, even with the strongest of potions. Professor Snape was trying to perfect a stable, stronger potion, but so far his triple extra strength potion wasn’t working. Harry began to have fainting spells, where he would pass out for several minutes. Luckily he hadn’t done that in Potions, but it was only a matter of time.

Finally, Harry’s mind and body could take no more: he passed out long enough for him to witness a frantic Voldemort questioning a man, who he called Gregorovitch, about a wand. After several minutes, Voldemort got impatient with the man and killed him.

When Harry came to he told Madam Pomfrey to get Dumbledore immediately. After telling Dumbledore he was all right, Harry told him about the Elder Wand, which he had been told over the summer that it was a part of the Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore informed Harry that the wand was in good hands, and not to worry about it.

Blaise tried for several weeks to think of a way to get Hermione to date him, but every time he came up with a new idea, he just couldn’t figure out how to approach the subject with her. He was so tired of the empty-headed girls that he had been dating. He wanted someone with substance. He knew that he could stand up to her when she was bossy, so that wasn’t a problem. His mother even approved of her, which was saying a lot, considering their pureblood roots. Finally, he was reading a book on traditions and it made a reference to an old tradition of courting anonymously. After reading up on the subject, he decided to send her the first letter of intent.

The next morning, during breakfast, Hermione received an elegantly wrapped package with a card enclosed. Blaise, who was watching quite nervously from the Slytherin table, had no idea if Hermione even knew about the tradition, or would even accept being courted at all. Of course he expected her to make an informed decision regardless; she was more level-headed than most women her age.

As Hermione opened the package and saw that it contained a book on wizarding traditions, she was momentarily confused. Pulling out the accompanying letter, she took a moment to look at the formal paper and carefully written script before beginning to read the note enclosed.

Dear Miss Hermione Granger,

Please accept this letter of proposal for a formal courtship in accordance with wizarding tradition section 10.5. The tradition states that a suitor can remain anonymous at the beginning of the courtship, so that preconceived notions aren’t held against them – such as all Hufflepuffs are exceedingly loyal, all Ravenclaws are outstanding students, or all Slytherins are Death Eaters. Such stereotypical notions are rarely true, but it doesn’t stop people from believing them, so this tradition allows you to get to know the real person behind the name before meeting them for the first supervised date.

In accordance with tradition, I have enclosed the first of many gifts that I will give you. Since you are a Muggle-born, and a very lovely one at that, and since I know you have a love for knowledge, the first gift is, according to the clerk at Flourish and Blotts, the definitive volume on wizarding traditions. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Your suitor

Hermione looked around the room, quietly observing it. The majority of the students were busy reading their own mail or eating breakfast. Picking up the book on Wizarding Traditions, she leafed through it to the mentioned chapter.

Several moments later, she found the book-marked section, and began reading.

Section 10.5

This courtship allows the suitor to court their intended anonymously. This courtship was made for suitors that were known to the intended in some way. Nobility often used this particular tradition to weed out possible gold diggers and those who were unsuitable for the royal court.

In the first part of this tradition, a letter of intent must be sent. Once accepted, letters are exchanged and gifts follow. The intended is not required to send gifts in return but may do so if they wish.

After a suitable time has passed, the suitor may choose to reveal their identity. This is not actually required, though the suitor must reveal their identity by the first supervised date.

As custom requires, there must be a chaperon that can be trusted to interfere if things get out of hand. A trusted family friend or someone that the intended admires normally is chosen. After this date, letters may continue, as well as gifts. If the gifts and letters are returned to the suitor, this means that the intended no longer wishes to be courted by the suitor, and they must send a formal regret.

This courtship is sometimes used in conjunction with section 10.6, where those who have a prearranged marriage would exchange letters before the wedding.

Draco didn’t really get the chance to speak to Harry privately for several days after the incident in the Room of Requirement and the results of the Heart’s Ease Potion. He had spoken to Anton a couple of times during practice, but that was mainly business. Draco still wasn’t sure what to think about Anton being Harry, and the conflicting personalities.

It was then that he had decided to read over all the letters that Harry had sent, and realized that Harry’s personality was slowly becoming just like Anton’s. It was just as Harry had said. Now, after re-reading everything, Draco realized why he was attracted to Anton when he first met him; he reminded him of Harry. Draco actually began to wonder what would have happened if he had flirted with Anton and tried to get Anton to like him. Would Harry have continued to try and date him as Anton, or would he have come clean before it got much further? Realizing that this line of thought was getting him nowhere, he decided it really didn’t matter.

After school hours, and well into the evening, Remus Lupin and Severus Snape were sitting in two comfortable black leather chairs in front of a softly roaring fire. If Severus were to think upon it, the mood might even be a bit romantic, but that word didn’t come easily to Severus Snape. The two had spent quite a bit of time, recently, talking about life in general, and becoming friends of a sort.

"Sometimes it’s hard to live with everything I know,” confessed Severus.

"I can imagine that it must make it hard to sleep. Thank Merlin for Silencing Charms,” replied Remus.

"True, I don’t think my Slytherins would know what to think if they heard their Head of House screaming at the top of his lungs in the middle of the night.”

"Very true, I don’t know if I would want to hear it myself. I can imagine that I would jump out of bed and want to attack. It really doesn’t help the dating situation, let me tell you.”

"I really wouldn’t know, honestly. I haven’t dated in quite some time. I just don’t feel like being responsible for someone else’s safety, other than the ones I am already responsible for. I also have a hard time finding someone that can put up with my personality,” said Severus.

Remus sat pondering for several moments before turning his head towards the fire as he spoke. "Well, it wouldn’t have to be dating, but if you would like to ease some frustration, I wouldn’t be averse to assisting you with that problem.”

Author’s Notes:

1) actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means: "an act does not make a person guilty unless (their) mind is also guilty. Basically in official capacity failing to act makes you guilty be default – you have a duty of care to your constituents.

2) Well, I hope that everyone can forgive me for taking so long, and leaving you with a cliff-hanger. I would love to have any reviews, suggestions, or other emails sent my way. My Muse could use some pick me ups. *chuckles*
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