Author's Notes: Uh oh, what's a beta-reader? Eeeek! Well, just be fairly warned that this fic got posted without anyone reading it except me, so stupid author errors are to be expected. This is actually my second attempt at writing a HP fanfic; the first promises to take many, many spring breaks of writing to finish, while this should be easier. Key word should. WARNING: I am long-winded. This is not a fic for people with short attention spans! (or delicate constitutions) This fic will substitute in for most of the first chapter of my 'The Strongest Kind'. You'll notice (hopefully not, but I thought that I should point it out in case you did) that the most developed character is Lucius; that's because 'The Strongest Kind' is mostly from his viewpoint, and I already did a lot of history on him, so I stuck it in here. This will not all be from Lucius POV; it will go Lucius, then Severus, then James, then Sirius, and finally Remus. :-) Happy Reading!

PS: For some reason, in my demented ficwriter's imagination, Lucius looks like the second (not first! The first one was strange) version of Cain from Nightwalker: Midnight Detective. All that long blond hair…*drool*.

PSS: And he sounds like Zechs Marquise. Oh yeah, baby!

Old School

Chapter 1 - Pomp and Circumstance

By eggads, Horace!



Honestly, any way you looked at it, Professor Leonidas was an idiot.

I fumed over scrolls upon scrolls of third-year essays, already graded with scores clearly marked in red ink. My task was to examine every assignment for 'careless teacher errors' as he termed it, then murmur the grade to his little black book. It would appear in the tiny space provided, next to the student's name.

I'd been doing it for hours, and the end of my torment was nowhere in sight.

The man was credibly insane. Gint Leonidas' last battle as an active Auror had been fought over twenty years before, and everyone knew he'd signed on the Hogwarts staff to try and snatch after some last bit of recognition for his fading glory. Now, he was a has-been put out to pasture, and stuck with teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts to seven years of students to boot. I felt no sympathy for him. The conceited bastard deserved what he asked for, especially for sentencing a Malfoy to detention.

I was incensed. The first week of school and I'd already been slapped with disciplinary action. I could have taught that class with far more fluency than darling Gint, and he knew it. The man gave me detention for being 'cheeky'-Mother of God, how was I supposed to contain myself? He'd been talking about Occamies. My father happens to have a small breeding population in his greenhouse, and I'd think even an Auror would that they are docile as Puffskeins when fed regularly.

Leonidas insisted that, as I was a prefect, he had to 'crack down' doubly hard on my infractions, to show a good example himself.

Not only was the dear 'professor' a smarmy wanker, I though viciously, head pounding, he was the Head of Gryffindor House. Reason enough to hate him. Loathe him. Abhor his every-

Sudden shouts broke out from the first-years serving detentions with me. I jerked my head up, my eyes, nearly blinded in excruciating effort, slowly clearing, to reveal the fistfight that had suddenly broken out between a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff, of all people.

Deceptively lazy, I raised my wand and sighed, "Sedo affectus." Swish and flick.

Under the calming spell, they quieted. Technically, spells that controlled the emotions of others were highly illegal and bound by strict Ministry decree, but this lot wasn't likely to tattle. The two shot me glares of extreme dislike and whispered together, quarrel apparently forgotten in favor of prefect-bashing. They had reason; even in my own House I was hated. I made no effort to be more pleasant than I wanted to be for the sake of others, and I never suffered fools, gladly or otherwise. But more importantly, I was feared. They knew what I was capable of, and were quite terrified. It was a sensation I enjoyed creating in others.

Pinching the bridge of my nose between two fingers, I closed my eyes and willed the rage away, until I was as empty inside as the heads of my fellow detentionees. Although they certainly deserved my anger, I really was more annoyed at myself than the imbeciles in front of me.

I'd been leaking. Had to be more careful…


It was over two hours after the fight before Leonidas made an appearance. He shooed the younger students out, before turning to me and saying, eyebrows raised, "I trust this is the end of our little problem, Mr. Malfoy?"

I didn't dignify that ludicrous statement with a response. I packed up my things and glided out, quite certain there were actual bags under my eyes and feeling like something scraped out the bottom of an Advanced Potions cauldron. I didn't even have the energy to give him the patented Lucius Malfoy stare.

Out of sight of anyone that needed impressing, I slumped, stumbling tiredly down to the ground floor landing. I drummed up a bit of vigor, though, as I was hailed with a familiar, detested greeting.

"Ho there, what's this?"

I ignored it.

"A student? Ah, yes! And none other than our most beloved, the third Deadly Sin, Arrogance, in all his… splendor." Quiet snickering followed.

"Shut up, Astor," I snapped at the portrait. He was a well done, if modern, painting, depicting a young man, sword loosely clasped in one hand. His eyes, icy blue, glittered as I passed him.

"Detention, was it? I'm not surprised; you are quite the opposite of who I expected to be appointed prefect; what, with your family full of the darkest wizards of all time."

I paused, one foot on the stairs leading down. "Don't go there." The look on my face as I stared at him would have been warning enough for someone less thick and convinced of their own importance.

"Don't go there?" His smile was wide and derisive. "Why, Arrogance, you're proud of it, aren't you? Always pride, with the Malfoys. Always pride." He cackled. Astor was truly insane, and why he wasn't located in some dusty, little-used tower where no impressionable first-years could encounter him remained a mystery.

"Don't think they aren't watching you. Ooooh, yes, precious little Arrogance, scion of the Darkest empire." He crouched down in his frame, chin resting on his sword hilt, hungry eyes fixed on mine. "You're their closest bet to finding He-Who-Must-"

"Ater picturatus."

With a stifled yelp, Astor disappeared under a tide of black.

I muttered, "Bloody brilliant, Horace," under my breath and somehow made it from the stairs to one particular statue, that of Dadimus, the heroic scholar. Or so it proclaimed on his base. I tapped his left shoulder and whispered, "Anculus foris."

Dadimus gave a massive yawn and said grumpily, "I was sleepin', yeh damn prefect." He stretched a little, scratched his arm, then closed his eyes again; he made no move to step aside.

I gave a helpful shove, and, being marble, the 'heroic' scholar didn't shift an inch. I pointed my wand threateningly at him. "Dadimus, I just had-" I checked my watch, specially made to work even in Hogwarts' extreme energy fields. "Good God, five hours of detention with the Bint Leon-ass, I am not-"

Dadimus knew I could do nothing to him without arousing the wrath of Dumbledore, who had appointed him the Entrance's Guardian in the first place. He rolled his eyes at my impatience and I fought the urge to practice 'Petra convulsus' on his stone hide.

"Fine, fine," he muttered, slumping a little to the left. I nearly ruptured several important organs squeezing through the tiny opening, but I made it. Damn Dadimus, anyway-he'd be sorry; even if I couldn't hurt him directly, I had more subtle means.

The next time the Slytherins were looking for a pranking, I would make it my duty as a prefect to direct them away from… inappropriate targets and towards more deserving ones.

It was very dark in Boy's Prefect dormitories at this hour; prefects, being the most dedicated of students, tended to blow out the candles by eleven; tonight, one o'clock had come and gone.

Currently occupying the eight rooms available were myself and Severus, the Slytherin prefects, the Glorious Gryffindor Potter, Wystan Montague of Ravenclaw, and a Hufflepuff I hadn't bothered to learn the name of. Soft, barely-there snores could be heard from the bedrooms I passed. They were all quiet sleepers, which I appreciated.

Unfortunately, it didn't matter jackshit. Just on the other side of the cold granite walls was a common room; I wasn't sure which one. The castle freely switched rooms, floors, and even wings with this room. Sometimes it was cold and damp from the dungeons, like now, sometimes it was drafty, as if in the highest tower. But it was always by a common room. No amount of thickness in the stone could block out the raucous noise that normally didn't stop until well after midnight. Tonight was no different. I grabbed my spelled earplugs and shoved them in just as someone screamed in laughter or agony (I wasn't sure which) on the other side of the wall. If they were being tortured, goody-good Potter or one of the others could rush to the idiot person's aid. I was going to sleep.

Yes, prefects were placed next to the students in order to protect them; but who was going to protect the students from the prefects, especially me? Hence, the earplugs.

I didn't even bother to light a candle, just threw off robes, shirt, and trousers, leaving them to fall where they would as I made for the sanctuary of my four-poster. I crawled into bed; I was sooo tired…tired beyond all reasoning. Almost immediately, even with the earplugs snug, I could hear redoubled noise through the wall. I yelled something I hoped was suitably threatening, and blessed semi-silence returned. It wasn't long before my mind shut off completely and I slept deeply…

Dreaming of my Lord.


Malfoy Manor sprawls across massive grounds, sprinkled liberally with stables, paddocks, quiet lakes and rivers, a true country Englishman's estate. For years, it was all I knew, a soft, fuzzy-edged cocoon of wealth and privilege, private tutors, pets, and long, lazy days. We're fairly close to the coast, and the smell of the ocean overrode all others when it stormed.

My parents are the most mismatched pair of people I have ever had the misfortune to grow close to; my father, the great, prestigious Tirian Irae Malfoy, was a shrewd if indifferent businessman and skilled Dark Practitioner. My earliest memories are of him, tall and slender, with a carefully groomed crop of black hair. And his ever-present creations. He lived in the era before the Ban on Experimental Breeding and Experimental Charms, and never saw why he should halt his studies for a Ministry his ancestors had helped start no more than two hundred years ago. The Ministry, predictably enough, left him alone. I had one of his creatures here at school; Hogwarts allowed owls, and cats, so why not Sarah, who was a little bit of both? I'm not sure the Owl Keepers appreciated this logic; even though Dumbledore did. Especially when their charges crashed into the Great Hall rafters trying to get away from her.

My mother, Meredith, is Tirian's first cousin. She's a cold woman, to be sure, and has no capacity for emotion, but she feels as much affection for me as she's able. I always am more comfortable with her, due to my, as she genteelly referred to it, 'condition'.

My father, on the other hand, loves me to an almost sickening degree; he's a man of grand passions and many varied moods. I grew up finding him tiresome and repulsive for all his feeling; could he not control himself any better than that? He's so easily manipulated, and my mother is the master operator. When I was younger, I would have admired her, had I not been studiously modeling myself after her; that meant no emotions. Now, at least, I have accepted that I have no natural talent for it as she does; but I do still try.

I was a good son; I played with his friend's children, listened when he taught, and disappeared when he wanted me gone. Mother didn't mind my company, except when she was spying on my father and his 'business partners'. Then, she would instruct my current nanny to take me to my room and keep me there, something I particularly hated. No argument was permitted.

I have already said I preferred my emotionless mother to passionate father, but it wasn't a simple choice of one person over another. Unbeknownst to Tirian or Meredith, I was sensitive to the emotions around me; an empath. Being with my father was, quite simply, painful. If I was agitated, everyone around me tended to become agitated, which in turn fed my agitation-it was a never-ending cycle. I'm beginning to realize it's a minor symptom of a much bigger problem; but then, it seemed a huge problem all in itself.

My father slowly realized my affliction, and added a barrier between my mind and the world. Relief, for the first time in years, was sweet and unquestioned. Except that the spell forced us closer than any father and son should ever be, and my emotions soon proved too much for him to handle day in and out. He handed the responsibility to Meredith, whose natural aplomb proved invaluable in controlling me. Until I can learn the spell myself, she is the safeguard of my sanity.

She'd perfected the spell by my second year at Hogwarts, which was considerable relief for me, and absolutely impeccable timing. Soon after, I met my Lord for the first time.

My Uncle Etienne, Tirian's youngest brother, was a black sheep in one of the darkest wizarding families of history. What little memories I had of him could be summed up in three sentences: he was tall, taller than Tirian. He smelled like fall, crisp and bitter. And he hated me.

I remember being amazed, when he came to visit during summer break. He threw no wild parties, nor did he try to solicit money-highly unusual.

There were suddenly more closed doors, and strange nighttime visits from cloaked and hooded figures. My mother grew terser with me when I wanted to listen to the mysterious meetings with her. I was sent to my room more and more often, and Tirian was at the estate less and less, out on 'business runs'. I thought it a pain, and sulked. No one had ever paid much attention to me, and they began to pay even less.

Incidentally, when he and his 'partners' met on the estate, I also gained more 'friends'. It was at this time Crabbe and Goyle came to me, and Redart as well. There were already Griard, Avery, and Rand, spineless worms all, in my little group. Together, we made a collection of seven spoiled first sons, sullen and quite unwilling to put up with each other.

We, as children, were not allowed to attend our father's meetings. And we, as children, could not resist the temptation of the forbidden. We were caught several times on the way to investigate by horrified houselves and human servants, never actually making it to the Death Eater gatherings. Until one winter-bound night, when the snow was thick on the ground and cold lay, a pall on the rugged coastline.

I dreamed it now.


Fire sparks in the huge fireplace, molten and lovely. Mesmerized and sleepy, I sip hot cocoa and relax into the plush leather sofa. Snow has blanketed all sound from the outdoors, and no noise comes from my 'friends'. It's late; our fathers' meetings often run beyond midnight, and it was around that time now. We usually could amuse ourselves until around ten thirty; then we either dropped into reverie in the fire or unconsciousness.

Not for the first time, I want to know why. Why I must suffer these imbeciles so frequently, while my mother plots and my father has his secret conferences, acting like the boy I might have been with his covert disguises, private clubhouse and unbreakable code.

"Let's try again," I say out loud, and six pairs of eyes turn to stare at me.

"Wha?" Crabbe queries, sitting up and rubbing sleep from his eyes.

"Our das, wanker," Rand sneers.

"Why?" That was Goyle.

"Aren't you just the little bit curious?" I ask archly. "They've been doing this nearly every week, and still tell us nothing. There has to be a reason."

Most of them seem to know what I'm getting at, but Crabbe and Goyle looked frightened. Griard speaks up.

"Are you sure you want t'know?"

I look at him, suspicious. "You said you didn't know what they were doing."

"I don'," he says, yawning casually, but I no longer believe him.

"I'm going," I say quietly. My lip curls in the slight smirk that will become my trademark expression. "You can stay here-if you're scared."

For twelve-year-olds, it is a serious charge. Griard's expression hardens. "I'm not scared!"

"So good to know," I intone, and we are off.

It was dark in the hallway, quiet. My heart is beating so hard I'm surprised the others can't hear it; they look just as excited as I try not to feel. The smallest creak, even muffled under lush oriental rugs, was met with "Shhhhh!" from five mouths.

Across the wing, past the guest quarters, down the wide, wide marble stairs. Around the circular conservatory, to the dining hall. I've memorized the route, played it in my young mind over and over, walked exactly this pattern, and now I tell the others to follow it and leave me. I intend to go a different way.

They do as I say; how could they not? I'm left outside the upstairs study where we've been confined. I turn, walking the opposite way; without them at my back, I will not be seen. They will most certainly be caught yet again, but I will slip past notice on my own. I have cold-bloodedly used tham as the distraction.

I walk down the west-wing hallway; it winds past yet more empty, waiting rooms, to the concealed servant stairs. Placing the tip of my wand, a ridiculous 14-inches, on the wooden panel, I mutter "Alohomora!"

It must be the first spell a child learns; how to open locked doors. We are insatiably curious things.

I slip in, and already I can hear talking. Once I get around the 180-degree turn in the stairs, the steps begin to descend. Firelight flickers against the back wall of the dining hall, visible to me through the wide opening that looks down onto the hall.

The voices are coldly angry, near growls. With some surprise, I hear Griard's voice, raised in supplication, wailing that it was all my doing, that he hadn't wanted to. I didn't expect them to go so fast; without me cautioning them, they must have ran like a stampede all the way.

A new voice. "Stop your moaning, child. It does not become a future lord."

That voice…

Hisses over my senses, echoes, even though it should have been barely discernable in the huge room. It conjures visions of the worst my child's brain can produce-death, blood, the feel of scales rubbing against your cheek in darkness. I am suddenly frightened, so frightened, more afraid of a simple voice than I have been of anything in my entire life. Yet…the words are strangely seductive, rich with promise and deep in meaning. All he had to do is whisper, eleven cold words, to send my world into a tailspin from which it will never recover.

There is an aura of dread over the entire room, one perceivable even without my unique abilities. It created a flat, metallic taste in the back of my throat, and I swallow convulsively.

I've been hiding out of sight, just beyond the small opening in the wall that looked down on the long dining table, black with age and care, and its occupants. It takes all my strength to move myself closer, stomach roiling dangerously. I peer over the edge of the solid railing.

My father and uncle sit at the head of the table, eyes on the intruding children. Some of the men are out of their seats, holding their errant sons by arms or collars. The rest are still seated.

Except for one. A cloaked and hooded figure stands before the man-sized fireplace. It stalks back and forth, slowly, deliberately. The movements are like nothing human.

"But, I wonder," the slightly sibilant voice continues. "Where is the young Lord Malfoy?"

I duck instinctively, curling into a ball. Must not be found, must not be seen, not by the owner of the fascinating, magnificent, terrifying voice.

I must have made some noise, for the voice crooned, "There!"

There is a sickening lurch, and the ground disappears from beneath my feet. There is a dizzying change in perspective, from looking down on the figure to crouched before it, a wild whimper held back by sheer will. I'm going to throw up. I won't be able to stop myself.

The figure is staring down at me, and, slowly, brings up an elegant, spidery hand to cup my face, forcing me to look upwards. I have a perfect view up his hood. My eyes widen, and my mouth hangs open, useless.

Thin lips curl over unnaturally sharp teeth, and red eyes glow in cool amusement.

"Hello, Lucius."

God, I hated that dream. I always woke up screaming.


Someone was shaking my shoulder, gently at first, then with increasing force. Mentally, I snapped awake with an almost audible pop, my first instinct fight.

My wand was in my hand under the covers, an Unforgivable on my lips, when I caught sight of my 'attacker' through slitted eyes. I gave a long, shuddering breath, barely noticeable, and a slight, thoroughly Malfoy smile.

I turned onto my stomach, facedown on the bed. I refused to wake so easily. My waker was one of the few I had allowed close to me at Hogwarts; but it was times like these I regretted that I was still human enough to require some measure of affection from my fellow beings. Mon ami was forever taking advantage of the friendship for his own amusement.

He shook me again, and I curled up in defense against the movement. The earplugs were removed from my ears, roughly. I fumbled for a pillow and pressed it to my ears. It was yanked away.

I stated, calmly, voice muffled against the spread, "You are an ass and I hate you. Leave."

There was a snort, and the coverlet was ripped from my mostly bare body, exposing it to view and early morning chill. The undignified shriek I gave sent my private Reveille into rare chuckles, and I reconsidered my decision not to use Unforgivables on his miserable carcass.

It was Severus, of course. He always liked to catch me at my most vulnerable. He hadn't yet realized that I was never vulnerable-and that several times he had come closer to accidental death at my hands than I had at my Lord's.

Resolutely, I opened my eyes, and immediately flung an arm up against the blinding sunlight streaming into the room. The idiot castle had obviously moved the rooms during the night, again. There were now windows, and mine seemed to be facing east; Hogwarts obviously hadn't even had the decency to provide curtains after repositioning us.

Severus stood there, leaning against the thick ebony bedpost, arms folded across his chest. Ruler-straight hair was still damp from an earlier shower, and he looked almost cheerful, as if he'd been up for hours. Sev wasn't really a closet morning person, was he? The horror!

"Awake yet, darling?"

The endearment was nicely sarcastic. Poor Sevvie had lost a bet (he'd never tell me to who) and had had to profess his undying love to me at breakfast one day last year. I'd taken it was it was meant, harmless fun, and replied in kind.

Sev'd never forgiven me for French kissing him in front of the whole school.

The entire sixth year thought we were shagging each other blind, and he'd finally given up on making them see different. I didn't mind so much; I had a reputation that no amount of Potter-ing could clear. Besides, the last person that called me a fagot was as of this moment on extended hospital leave. No one knew when he'd be back.

I glared, still playful, arm even now raised to shield my eyes against the brightness. "Yes, I am, prick. And I happen to know it's Saturday. Go the bloody hell away!"

He leaned down and wagged a finger in my face. "Dear me, such language!"

I attempted to bite the finger, but he moved too quickly; now he was tugging my other pillow away, a capital offense this early in the morning. Now that the adrenaline rush was fading, sleep was acquiring apocalyptic importance in my mind, and Severus was in danger of being hexed to Kent and back. Unsatisfied with the two pillows, he' gone for a third, pinned under my chest. I was going to kill him.

"You have Quidditch practice, and all Hogwarts knows you need it; first match is Hufflepuff."

I snatched the covers from the end of the bed and pulled them over my head. "Bugger off," I moaned when he pulled them back down. He had the audacity to rip them completely off the bed and out of my reach, looming over me like a grinning scarecrow.

"Quidditch, Lucius. Quidditch."

I stared at him, willing him, his perkiness and his repulsive attitude away from me; he smirked, unmoving. Then, reluctantly, growling opinions on his probable ancestry and hygiene habits, I got out of bed, bad-temperedly snatching the dressing robe from the hook on the back of the door.

"And why, may I ask," I said as I padded barefoot down the short hallway to the bathroom. "Are you even up so early?" If he was going to make a habit of waking me, I wanted to know early so I could study up on defensive wards.

I stepped in front of the long mirror first, always vain. I could see his face next to mine. The undo stresses of the night before did not show on my face, for with I was grateful.

Sev had still been smirking, but now he sighed, eyes going misty, dreamy. It was not an attractive expression on his angular face.

"Celeste need help with some Dawnmint gathering,"

"Who?" I didn't know any Celeste.

"Professor Charian," he elaborated. He at least had the grace to look embarrassed.

I gave his image an incredulous look and contemplated the idea of my friend with our Advanced Potions teacher, the Head of Slytherin House. Yes, she was undeniably an attractive woman, but…

"Chew you up and spit you out," was my only comment, and I went to take my shower.


Quidditch practice was uneventful. It was the first practice of the year, and the Slytherin team was once again excellent; we'd lost our head Chaser, but the others were more than willing and able to fill in. I would have stepped in as Captain, but, truthfully, I was too lazy to spend all that time strategizing and planning games. I had much better things to do.

Like the rest, I'd been practicing over the summer. We practiced, not for Hufflepuff's benefit, but Gryffindor's. The Lions were our only real competitors in Quidditch, the other teams merely slight distractions in our goal to win against worthy opponents. I practiced, not only for Gryffindor, but specifically for their Seeker. Potter.

Over the years, I'd watched the rivalry between Severus and James grow and age almost like a marriage-though I'm sure neither would appreciate that analogy. And, while I publicly sided with Sev, I really never could choose whom to support. I admired my housemate for his cruel, acidic wit, Potter for nerve and pure vivacity.

If I admired him for other things as well, I'd never let Sev know that.

And if I just happened to linger a few extra minutes in the changing rooms, until the Gryffindor's Seeker came to practice, just as he did every Saturday…

Well, that was nothing special, was it?

It was only in the interests of winning…

Feeling well-exercised and very wide awake, I leaned against the broom shed, surveying the sparse activity on the Hogwarts Grounds. Usually, Severus and some others would have been out to watch me, but he'd disappeared sometime between my shower and the Quidditch field, and the others could be expected to surface for hours yet; it was the weekend.

Since Severus was nowhere to be seen, and I did not want to noticed mooning about the Quidditch field like a lovesick teenager, I decided on homework. I had status to maintain, and no teachers had fawned over me in nearly a week. I must do something excellent…

Bugger it. I had sunk so low. Impressing teachers? Blargh. I impressed professors without trying. Teachers went out of their way to fawn over me even when I didn't deserve it. Just as they fawned over Potter.


Feeling lonely and generally deprived, I trudged up the sloping lawn to the school.

That's how Sarah found me, buried up to my ears cross-referencing Runes with symbols of ancient Celtic origin. Professor Pevrin had assigned an essay examining how the Celtic people had used Runes to perform magic while thinking they were calling on gods…four feet and a half of it. I'd written three and was still going strong when she swooped gracefully through the still-curtainless open window, landing in the middle of the still-drying parchment.

Sarah was a beautiful combination of ticked white feathers and pearl gray fur. Her paws were not cat-like, but a mixture of that and hands. It made her far more useful that the average owl. Her 'hands', her prehensile tail and her inherent IQ, that of a three-year-old, were Tirian's pride and joy. Mine as well.

I smiled fondly at her, scratching under her chin. "You just get more beautiful every time I see you, lovely. Harassing those awful birds must agree with you."

She made a sound, halfway between a purr and a sigh, and swatted me on the nose. "Merrowp." It meant she'd brought a letter.

She waited patiently while I detached the cream colored envelope from her chest-case; when it was free, she proceeded up to my shoulder, attention turning immediately to the bit of spare ribbon holding my hair back. She had a preoccupation with hair ties, and made short work of this one. Resignedly, I tucked the escaped strands behind my ears and slit open the envelope.

Missives from home were never very interesting, and this was no exception. Father commented on the weather, his Occamies, and Meredith, but steered far clear of my Lord's doings. Those letters came at night, stereotypically enough, and were usually delivered by ravens, bats, or another horribly cliché-plagued means. My father had never seen a Muggle horror movie in his life, or I would have accused him of infringing on copyright laws.

And how would I, the diehard pureblood, happen to know what copyright laws are? Unfortunately for myself, Sev, while not being a Mudblood, was damn close, and had no compunctions about inflicting me with his extensive knowledge of Muggle activities. In fact, he had no compunctions about inflicting anything about himself on me, or other innocent people. I'm one of the few who hasn't withered and died under prolonged exposure to his endearing personality. I happen think it's a defense mechanism, and have said so. He usually agrees with me, and then, for the next three days after, I'm dyed a spectacular shade of peacock blue. Severus is not a passive person when angered.

Sarah's tongue on my ear brought me back from my friend's eccentricities. I muttered, "My ear is not a lollipop, you know," and set the letter aside. Back to working on the essay, which I had hoped to finish before supper.

Instead, I found myself staring out the window, out across the lake. If I followed the train tracks with my eyes, I could see the faint haze on the horizon that was Hogsmeade. My mind drifted again, to butterbeer and juvenile games played around the Shrieking Shack.

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