|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-08 22:08:00
|Entry tags:||coauthor: cruisedirector, hp fic admittance, hp fic draco/harry/severus|
HP fic: Admittance, ch. 16: Accommodations [Draco/Snape/Harry, adult]
Chapter 16, "Accommodations"
Authors: celandineb and cruisedirector
Warnings: minor D/s and dirty talk
Summary: Just as Harry, Draco, and Snape are settling back into life at Hogwarts, Lucius Malfoy does something shocking.
The pounding was loud and insistent and the bed was shaking. At first Harry thought that Draco must be fucking Severus hard enough to slam the headboard into the wall -- Severus would never have been so careless as to have done the same without using a silencing spell -- but then a hand grabbed Harry's shoulder and Severus hissed, "Up! Into the wardrobe, now!"
Harry blinked until his eyes had adjusted to the dawn light, recreated by magic in the dungeon where they slept. Draco was slipping naked from the bed, stumbling toward the large cabinet at the far side of the room, while Snape called toward the door, in a voice that only barely disguised his irritation, "A moment, please!"
He heaved Harry none too gently from the bed and muttered, "Finite incantatem," returning the mattress to a size more appropriate to one adult man than the three who had been sleeping there. Harry was about to use a similar inflation charm on the wardrobe when the knocking began again and Snape shoved him unceremoniously after Draco, pushing him into the cramped space beside several black robes and a Slytherin tie. "Stay down," he ordered, shutting the door.
"Ow!" Draco yelped as Harry landed on his foot, but the sound cut off in mid-cry; Snape must have used Silencio on the two of them. They struggled against one another to peer out through the crack in the wardrobe doors to see what was happening, as Severus flung on a dressing robe, pointed his wand at the bedcovers -- which straightened themselves -- and opened the door to the room.
"Minerva. What brings you to the dungeon so bright and early?"
The sarcasm in Snape's voice was impossible to miss, and McGonagall darted a haughty glare at him as she stepped inside, glancing about with a suspicious expression. "You know perfectly well what day it is," she snapped. "The Board of Governors will be here in little more than an hour. Lucius Malfoy is their special guest today and has specifically asked that his son accompany you to greet the Slytherin visitors. I thought I had better warn you in person." Her voice was pitched slightly louder than Harry thought necessary, and he pressed against the back of the wardrobe, wondering whether the Headmistress had guessed that Draco was in the room.
"Thank you very much. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated, as ever. Was there anything else?"
The Headmistress straightened her hat, quite unnecessarily. "Mister Malfoy will be staying for luncheon, or dinner, depending on the length of the Quidditch match. I expect you and Draco to join us. At his request, it is to be a private meal, not in the Great Hall."
Draco nudged Harry sharply in the ribs. Harry nudged right back. Why on earth would Lucius want to meet with McGonagall and Snape over lunch?
"I trust that you will hope for Slytherin to beat Gryffindor, then." Snape drawled out the words. "Lucius will be in a far better mood if they do. Is anyone else to be at this delightful collation? The school governors, perhaps?"
"None of them, only Mister Malfoy. Mister Potter's presence has also been requested." McGonagall was carefully keeping her back to the side of the room containing the bed, wardrobe, and door leading to the toilet and bath.
"As you wish, Minerva." The teeth Snape showed were less of a smile and more of a grimace than he perhaps intended. "Now, if you would excuse me? Given the significance of this command performance, I imagine I ought to take extra care with my appearance."
"That would be wise. Oh, and if you should happen to see Potter, would you tell him that I would like to have a word with him? He is nowhere to be found. I presume we will see him at breakfast, but there is something I wish to discuss with him before the governors arrive." Her voice carried so loudly that Harry knew she must have come to her own conclusions about where he might have gone at such an hour.
"If I see Potter, I will let him know," Snape said, now sounding decidedly irritated. Draco once again elbowed Harry, who could practically feel the grin he couldn't see in the darkness of the wardrobe.
"Thank you, Severus. I knew I could count on you." Rather than returning his annoyance, McGonagall sounded amused as she made her way back to the door, shoes tapping against the stone floor.
The moment they heard it shut, and Snape say, "Finite incantatem", Draco grabbed Harry. "Let's give Severus something to smile about," he hissed, and leaned forward to kiss Harry, wrapping his arms around him and teasing a nipple. Harry's eyes were shut when the wardrobe swung open, but he could not miss hearing Snape's indrawn breath as he saw the two of them tangled together.
"Stop that! We do not have time!"
"Maybe you don't have time," replied Draco sweetly, "but since Harry and I did not officially hear one word that was said..."
"OUT," Snape barked, tugging on Harry's arm, and the two of them tumbled from the wardrobe, snickering. As Draco stretched, Severus added, "I know that you are concerned about seeing your father..."
Abruptly Draco's smile vanished. "I'm not concerned," he said. "I haven't even sent him an owl in the past several months. I have nothing to say to him."
"Evidently he has something to say to you," Snape pointed out. "Some reason to want you present, in any case, and myself as well."
"Draco." Harry ran his hand over the bare skin of Draco's back, down to the rounded curve of his arse. "It's only for a couple of hours, and Severus will be there, and Minerva. He probably thinks it would look odd if he came here and didn't want to see you. Lucius isn't exactly comfortable with unconventional appearances."
With a sigh, Draco said, "I know. I wonder what McGonagall needs to discuss with you? Maybe she thinks you'll have better luck dealing with whatever my father wants than I will."
Harry snorted. "That's about as likely as Dobby wearing matching socks. But I suppose I'll have to go and find out."
"I would recommend getting dressed first," said Snape in a dry voice. "I doubt that Minerva would enjoy the view as much as we do."
Winking at Draco, Harry put his arms around Snape and rubbed against him, fingers busy undoing the knot of his robe's sash. Draco stepped up to Snape's other side. "I think we can spare a few minutes before that, don't you? I'd like to be relaxed if I have to cope with my father this morning."
"In the shower," Snape said promptly. "If you are going to be 'relaxed' then you are also going to be clean."
"Yes, sir." Draco bounded away toward the bathroom, while Harry tugged Snape's robe off his arms and tossed it aside, kissing his shoulder. The faucet handle squeaked as Draco turned it on to let the water warm up. Harry could feel Severus hardening against his thigh and looked up at him with a smile.
"I think the Headmistress has her suspicions about you," he laughed softly, then paused. "What do you suppose Lucius wants with you and Draco?"
"As you said, I imagine appearances play a role in his desire to see his son," Snape replied, but he was frowning. "As for why he should request my own presence... I could not guess."
Pulling Snape's head down, Harry kissed him. Draco, at least, sometimes talked about how he felt about his father's estrangement and did not try to hide his own frustration. Snape never spoke about the end of what must have been very nearly a lifelong friendship with Lucius. "I'll go see what McGonagall has to say to me. Maybe it's something good."
"You are not going anywhere until we've finished with you," Snape murmured in a low, aroused voice, nudging against Harry and urging him toward the bathroom. Draco was waiting inside, having set the lube beside the soap on the edge of the tub. He was standing beneath the shower, wanking.
"About time you got in here," he said.
Harry grinned. "A little impatient this morning?"
"McGonagall interrupted us." Draco smirked back. "I was just about to wake you to join in when she started banging on the door."
"Don't mention McGonagall and banging in the same sentence, please," said Harry, rolling his eyes as he stepped into the tub. He reached for the soap, but Snape stopped him.
"You won't need that quite yet." He stepped close to Harry. "You should be thoroughly dirty, first."
Harry looked up the few inches it took to meet Snape's eyes and shivered at what he saw there. However many times he shared Snape's thoughts, there was always something new, something that made him feel deliciously wanton.
"You do love this, don't you?" The sensual growl, combined with the way that he was being rubbed against, front and back, by the two people he loved most, had Harry achingly hard, panting and holding on to Snape. The water from the shower was running along the inside of his thighs and calves -- it tickled. In the older man's mind he caught a fantasy of ejaculating on Harry's face and groaned.
"No more than you love doing it to me." He sounded as breathless as he felt, dizzy with lust, when Snape ran a wet hand up his chest and tugged on his nipple. Draco's hands had come around his lower body and were stroking him and Snape both, rubbing their cocks together, while Draco nudged his growing erection into the space between Harry's thighs.
"I think we should take turns fucking him." Harry could feel Draco grinning at Severus over his shoulder. "And whoever comes first has to stroke his prick until Harry comes too."
Snape's fingers tugged the nipple again and Harry groaned over his reply. "I approve; my control is superior to yours, after all. Leviosa!" Immediately Harry's feet left the bottom of the tub and Snape released his nipple to catch his hips as they rose. "You may lubricate him, Malfoy, while I prepare myself." Floating in midair, Harry could only whimper as Snape took his feet, smearing some of the potion they always left in the bathroom along the arches, and rubbed them up and down against his cock.
If he tried to touch himself, Harry knew he'd be in trouble... but he couldn't resist, not with Draco's slick fingers and tongue starting to ease him open and Snape's prick warm and eager against the soles of his feet. As he expected, he had hardly started when Snape's free hand clamped around his wrist.
"Oh, no you don't," the older man warned in a voice like velvet over steel. "We haven't time to punish you now. Later today, I think some imposed restraint is in order." He smirked. "You can think about that as you eat in the Hall."
If the quickened movement of his hand was anything to go by, Draco seemed pleased by that suggestion; Snape rarely played punishment games with one of them without the other, and Draco was an enthusiastic participant. His thumb caressed the back of Harry's scrotum, and a moment later his mouth closed over it. Only when Harry was shaking with the sensation did Draco pull back and say, "I think he's sufficiently lubricated, sir. You should let him down now."
"Whyever would I want to do that?" Snape demanded as if Draco were a slow student, grasping Harry's hips in midair at the same time and lowering and turning him so that he was facing Draco. "No. I am going to put my prick inside him..."
As good as his word, Severus pushed up, tugging Harry down against him, and Harry's well-licked arse stretched to accommodate the hard cock sliding past the ring of muscle. He and Snape both groaned. With his feet off the bottom of the tub, he had no leverage; there was little he could do but to allow this to happen to him, with very great pleasure.
Snape's hand wrapped around Harry's cock as Draco grinned at him, slathering lube onto himself. "You may tease it, if you like," said Snape, and Harry moaned again. "Then I will withdraw..." He did, making Harry whimper in protest. "And you, Draco, will put that eager prick of yours inside him, and we will take turns until Potter has an arseful of come and is begging to be allowed to come himself."
Harry clutched at Draco's shoulders as his arse was filled again. He'd wanted this ever since he and Draco had taken similar turns at Severus, months ago now, but somehow it had never happened. Draco's hand joined Snape's on his cock, resting easily and only moving the slightest fraction as Harry sank down on each of them in turn.
"Oh, fuck, that's good," Draco said, his eyes bright and cheeks flushed. "Love the way you feel around me, Harry, you're so hot..." He pinched Harry's nipple with his free hand, tilting his head to soothe the heated flesh with soft lips and moist tongue. "Never going to be tired of this."
Moaning, Harry tried to wriggle, thrust his hips, anything to provoke friction against his aching cock. Snape's arm around his waist held him too still, much to his chagrin.
"No you don't, Potter." How Snape managed to put such a whipcrack into a sensuous whisper, Harry would never understand. "You know it will be better if you wait as I told you to."
It was Snape's turn to thrust in again, and as Draco slid out with evident reluctance, reaching down to stroke himself, Harry groaned, "Thought you were saving the control games for later..."
Letting out a loud grunt, Severus pushed in savagely. "Perhaps I should," he panted. "Perhaps I should refuse to let you come at all this morning, and when we return later..."
"Oh, fuck, fuck, you can't send me to meet with the Headmistress with a stiffy!" Harry wailed. He felt Severus thrusting four or five times before he withdrew and knew the older man was aroused by his protests. "Please let me come, I'll do anything you want later!"
Draco's cock replaced Snape's inside him as Snape's free hand squeezed his bum. "Remember that you said 'anything' when the time comes," he said silkily. "Draco, we should hurry. Fuck him until you come, and ease the way for me."
Shifting his hands to grab Harry's hips, Draco flashed a wicked smile and slammed into him, angling to brush over his prostate, moving fast and hard and not quite rough enough to actually hurt, just enough so that Harry cried out and flung one arm back around Snape's neck, the other hand holding onto Draco's upper arm as if he could affect what Draco was doing at all.
"Going to spill inside you, make you dirty for Severus, fill you up with spunk till you're overflowing... now," Draco panted, and with a last thrust he shuddered, his eyes closing as his head tipped back, holding onto Harry now as much to keep himself upright as for any other reason. As he pulled away, Harry could feel just the beginning of a warm trickle down his leg, thicker and slower than the water from the shower, before Snape's prick replaced Draco's.
Harry grunted, his arsehole flexing and relaxing to accommodate Snape's greater size, and leaned back against Snape's chest, feeling his breath on his neck. Draco still had his arms wrapped around Harry, reaching now to embrace Snape as well, pulling the three of them together as Snape fucked Harry. The pressure of Draco's belly against his prick made Harry whimper with the need for release. Anything, yes, he would willingly do whatever Snape asked later if he could only come soon.
"Good," Snape groaned, dropping the stern countenance and rubbing his face against Harry's shoulder. "So good to fuck you..." Draco nodded agreement, moving against Harry, and for a moment he thought he wouldn't be able to hold back his own orgasm until after Snape's.
But then Severus went rigid, grunting, and Harry felt the cock inside him jerking and thrusting as he was filled once again. He moaned, looking down at his prick, which was stiff and purple, as if all the blood in his body had rushed there. He felt so full. "Please, please, let me come," he begged, and felt two hands reach for him at once, Severus' from behind and Draco's from the front, one cupping his balls, the other stroking up and down the rigid shaft. "Oh fuck, yes, yes, please!" he wailed, twisting in their arms, grateful for the spell that kept him from collapsing, as heat seemed to rise up through his groin and explode out of him in hot bursts.
He sagged against Snape's chest, head bent forward, trying to catch his breath. As if from a distance he heard Snape say, "Finite incantatem," and his feet touched the cool slippery tile of the floor. The contact sent a thrill through his sensitized nerves, as did Snape's soapy fingers as they moved around his body. "Now we had better wash up, or we'll be late for breakfast."
After a quick rinse and a Scourgify for the tub, Harry found himself hopping on one foot, looking for a missing sock while Snape neatly fastened a long row of buttons on his robes and Draco examined himself in the mirror, wearing an elegant dark green cloak that would certainly make most of the Slytherin girls swoon. It amused Harry that Draco seemed to have a streak of Gilderoy Lockhart in him; though his clothes were more tasteful, he was by far the best-dressed teacher at Hogwarts, and smugly aware of the attention paid to him by students of both sexes.
Today, however, Harry knew that Draco was dressing to impress his father, not the eager young men and women who stayed after class with gratuitous questions about Defense Against the Dark Arts. Finally finding his sock, he tugged it on as Snape smirked at him.
"When the Headmistress demands to know why you are late, I expect you to keep my name out of your excuses."
"'I'm sorry, Professor McGonagall, Professors Snape and Malfoy were taking turns buggering me,'" Harry shot back. "I'll see you both at breakfast." Peering outside the door to be certain that the corridor was clear, he crept out of Snape's chambers and walked rapidly through the dungeon toward the upper levels of the school.
Breakfast was already underway -- he and Severus and Draco had spent too much time in the shower, Harry realized with a small smile -- but McGonagall was waiting for him in her office nonetheless. "Mister Potter, please join me," she said, offering him a seat across from her desk, where two cups of tea and a plate of shortbread were placed. "Something unusual has happened and since it will affect your position most of all, I wanted to speak to you before making an announcement. Lucius Malfoy has made a significant donation to Hogwarts. Most of it is in the form of currency and antiques to be used for improvements to Slytherin House, but he has also purchased an entirely new set of Thunderbolts for the entire student population."
"He what?" Harry dropped his shortbread on the floor, and was only thankful that it had not been the teacup. "A Thunderbolt for every student? That must have cost him..." He tried to work it out as he bent down to scoop up the crumbled bits, brushing them off his fingers onto the plate and grimacing apologetically.
"Several hundred thousand Galleons," McGonagall said, nodding. "And another five hundred thousand to Slytherin. Hogwarts has never received such a sum from a living wizard, although there have been a few bequests of entire estates in the past."
"Has he put any conditions on the gift?" asked Harry, suddenly wary. "The brooms, I mean." He took a firm grip on his teacup and lifted it to his lips, wondering why McGonagall had chosen to share this information with him before anyone else, even Draco and Severus. "A Thunderbolt for every student means that we might finally be able to produce a Quidditch player like Krum... right now, how far students advance in the sport often has to do with what sort of brooms their families can afford." His own early Quidditch career had been entirely dependent upon McGonagall's own belief that he would make an excellent Seeker for Gryffindor if she provided him with a suitable broom.
"In fact, Malfoy has placed a few conditions on the gift. For one, he believes that all first-year students should be given the opportunity to try out for teams." Since Harry himself had played during his first year, he could hardly argue with that request. "And for another, he suggested that Quidditch competition based on the school's Houses fosters resentment and bitterness. Lucius Malfoy believes that Quidditch teams should be formed of players who complement one another, regardless of the students' Houses. In fact, he suggested that perhaps it was time to retire the Sorting Hat and put an end to what he called 'a ridiculous prejudice against Slytherin students based on an enchanted hat's expectations of their character.'"
Harry's jaw had dropped open again. "Are you saying Lucius Malfoy suggested that Slytherin House should no longer be a breeding ground for pureblood ambition and dark magic? How would incoming students be divided, if not by the Hat?"
McGonagall shrugged. "Perhaps by drawing names at random. Some students are sure to have preferences -- some become claustrophobic in the dungeons, others dislike the height of the towers. But as you know, many parents are going to be upset if we propose a change of that kind. Chance would be the fairest solution. It's not only Slytherins who have House pride, as you know."
"That's true," said Harry, thinking of the Weasleys, who had all been Gryffindors for at least three generations. He was still gobsmacked by the entire notion. "I still can't believe that Lucius proposed this. He must have something in mind... some scheme."
"You may ask him yourself. He will be here today for the match and has requested that you join him for luncheon afterward. I will be there, of course, and so will Professors Snape and Malfoy. This is not optional, Mister Potter."
Though it amused Harry to hear her refer in such formal terms to the two men who had so recently taken turns fucking him in the shower, he didn't crack a smile. "Of course I will attend. Was there anything else? I'd like to have a more substantial breakfast if I have time, delicious though your shortbread is."
McGonagall opened her mouth as if she would ask him a question, then abruptly snapped it shut again and dropped her eyes. "I will see you at the match, then," she said vaguely, waving him away. Again Harry wondered whether she had known, or at least suspected, exactly where he had been when she couldn't find him in his own room.
On his way to eat, he tried to fathom what Lucius might be up to now. He wasn't foolish enough to try to donate cursed money or charmed brooms to the school, even if such a thing had occurred to him. He had always thought that Lucius was simply shallow and selfish, not that he had deeply shared Voldemort's conviction that the world should be free of Muggles, but if he was angry enough, if he felt challenged enough...
No. If Lucius represented that sort of a threat, Snape would have known. Which meant that Lucius was likely trying to save face: with his son teaching at Hogwarts, he was making a public show of approval, while at the same time trying to ingratiate himself with the faculty and staff, so that any suggestion he made would be taken more seriously than it would have otherwise.
But why get rid of the Sorting Hat? While it was certainly true that students in the other Houses tended to harbor certain concerns about Slytherin students -- even the ones who hadn't shown a tendency toward arrogance or aggression -- the declared prejudices of Slytherins against the other Houses tended to be far worse. Harry tried to remember if he had ever heard the word "Mudblood" uttered by any student who was not a Slytherin, though there were actually more non-Slytherin purebloods. Maybe Lucius felt that Salazar Slytherin's fundamental beliefs had been so corrupted by the admission to his House of people like Snape -- and Tom Riddle -- that Lucius preferred the eradication of Slytherin House as it currently existed.
Still, the more Harry thought about it, the more he had to agree that getting rid of the Sorting Hat might be a very good idea. He remembered his own terror, sitting under it, that he might be placed in a House known for dark wizardry based on something an enchanted hat saw inside his mind. How did it help the wizarding world to try to group reckless Gryffindors together or to try to isolate the cleverest in Ravenclaw? And what did all the nonsense the Hat sang about house unity mean if students continued to be judged by their House placement? He needed to talk to Draco; if anyone had experience with childhood expectations shaping a wizard's destiny, it was he.
There was no chance to do so at breakfast, however, even if Harry hadn't been so late that Flitwick had taken Harry's usual seat next to Draco. Harry barely had time to dispatch two boiled eggs and some toast before it was time to hurry out to the field for the match. He saw Draco and Snape leave before he did, no doubt to go and speak to the Board of Governors as Lucius had requested, and was thankful that he hadn't been made part of that little party. The name of Harry Potter still made some people either nervous or fawning, and "some people" included several of the governors.
Up in the staff rows, Snape had on the faintly supercilious expression that had always made Harry angry as a student; his way of trying to reconcile bored irritation with the necessity of concealing it. Draco seemed to be acting the properly dutiful new professor, shaking hands all around though they had all met before the term started. Refereeing the game was going to be far more enjoyable. Slytherin and Gryffindor were quite evenly matched this year, and Harry had seen some challenging moves at their practice sessions. As he went to fetch the balls, he thought about how he might set up teams if they were not confined to a single house. Gryffindor's Keeper was very good, but the team's Beaters were too tentative, whereas at Ravenclaw's tryouts there had been more promising Beaters than two places allowed.
It was a close match until the very end, won when Gryffindor's Seeker caught the Snitch directly over the Keeper's head where there could be no challenge from the Slytherins. The Slytherin grumbling was lessened, however, by the rumors that had already begun to spread:
"I heard that Professor Malfoy's father donated new brooms for all the students!"
"And they're going to redecorate the Slytherin common room... new couches and lamps and our own study library!"
Harry rushed to catch up with Draco, who was hanging back, apparently in no particular hurry to keep up with his father and Snape. "Good match," he said neutrally.
"If it's not the end of the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry." Draco shot him a glance. "I assume you heard?"
"McGonagall told me. Do you think he means it?"
Glaring ahead at Lucius, who was walking beside Snape with a faint smile, Draco shook his head slightly. "It would be just like my father to decide that if he can't have things a certain way, then they're not worth having."
"You might be right," said Harry, startled. "You know, Hermione used to talk about how divisive the inter-House rivalries were, back when we were students. And the Sorting Hat mentioned the same thing. What's your opinion of getting rid of the Hat as the method of assigning Houses?"
Draco raised one shoulder and dropped it. "There's something to be said for tradition." His voice was quiet and thoughtful. "A lot of witches and wizards really identify with their Houses, and they'll be very unhappy to have a change. Even Dumbledore never tried to meddle with the Founders' intentions. On the other hand... what would have happened to me if I'd been Sorted into anything but Slytherin? My parents would have been terribly upset. There's expectations of you when you're Sorted into a particular House. Those aren't always realistic, and what if you don't live up to those assumptions? Longbottom always seemed an unlikely Gryffindor, and Granger would've made a perfect Ravenclaw. You've told me that you were nearly put into Slytherin yourself, so I wonder if maybe most people would be fine in any house." He sighed. "Then again, it's a real change from what the Founders set up."
"Hogwarts was founded a thousand years ago," Harry pointed out. "An awful lot has changed in that time... maybe it's time for the school to change too. The Houses aren't going to go away altogether, just be different. And if it works well, your father will get the credit for being a visionary." Ahead of them Snape and Lucius were entering the building. "We'd better catch up, I'm not sure where McGonagall arranged to have this meal."
As it turned out, McGonagall had had a table set up in her office, where the portraits of dozens of Headmasters and Headmistresses gazed down while she poured wine for the five of them. "I have told Mister Potter of your generous gift," she said to Lucius, who gazed warily at Harry as if he expected some challenge. Rather than ask questions yet, Harry merely nodded his head and smiled a bit.
"We are both of the opinion that changing the composition of the Hogwarts teams so that they are no longer tied to the Houses may permit more talented students the opportunity to play and allow Potter to coach better Quidditch players." An immediate muttering began among the portraits on the walls. Loudly, to be heard over their racket, the Headmistress continued, "But we have concerns about how the students and graduates alike may respond to such a change."
"I have already spoken to the school governors," Lucius said smoothly. Harry refrained from asking whether there had been threats involved. "I believe you will find that most of them agree with me that a more comprehensive Quidditch program that will produce truly competitive players should be a priority. You know that I favor tradition, but tradition in Quidditch can lead to bad habits. Having studied the rosters of the teams for the past two decades, it seems to me that many captains retain weaker players from year to year rather than actively seeking stronger recruits, and the children of well-known wizards have been shown favoritism in placement on teams regardless of their skills."
While this would have been a perfect moment to point out that Lucius' own son had likely made his House team largely because of a gift of brooms from his father, Harry held his tongue, not wishing to bring up that long-ago day when he had snatched the Golden Snitch away from Draco, who had been too busy scoffing at Harry to notice it there beside his head. He was sure his own surname had had some influence on McGonagall the day she had introduced him to Oliver Wood as a future Seeker, based on a single catch she had witnessed outside her window.
"That's all true," Harry agreed. "I have no objection to putting Quidditch teams together with the intention of developing stronger players regardless of their years or Houses. And with everyone using the same quality broom, the wealthier students won't have an unfair advantage -- even Muggle-borns who've never seen the sport will have a better chance to get up to speed."
Lucius Malfoy's lips pressed together in a tight line, but he did not challenge this statement. "I've also proposed to the Headmistress that perhaps the time has come to revisit the Sorting of students into Houses by an enchanted hat."
Now the portraits began shouting instead of muttering, though Harry noticed that Dumbledore remained silent, watching, and when he saw Harry's eyes on him, he winked. Ignoring the protests, Lucius continued loudly, "I think we can all see that there are grave problems with the current system. Every Slytherin student is treated with the suspicion that he may have vast dark powers that the ordinary wizard could never understand, while those poor fools sorted into Hufflepuff..."
"...embarrass the Slytherins when they outshine them, like Cedric Diggory." Harry nodded, satisfied.
"In any case," Lucius bared his teeth in a forced smile, "I think we can all agree that the present system has proven unsatisfactory."
"The present system has proven satisfactory for hundreds of years!" shouted Armando Dippet from his place on the wall.
"Headmistress, what do you think?" Rather to Harry's surprise, it was Draco who asked the question. "You've taught at Hogwarts for decades. If you wanted to keep to the old ways for the Sorting, I would expect the governors wouldn't insist on changing it. The Quidditch program could be strengthened regardless."
"There will certainly be objections." McGonagall spoke pensively. "I suspect I will receive Howlers for weeks on end, though that is of course no reason to refrain from making the change, if it is the right thing to do." Her eyes flickered to the portraits. "And I believe that it is, for the reasons that you have noted, and for others as well."
"Professor Snape hasn't given his opinion yet," Harry pointed out.
"Just a moment, Severus. I'm sure the house elves are anxious to serve before the food grows cold," said McGonagall.
She took her place at the head of the table, gesturing to Snape to take the foot. Harry and Draco sat next to one another; Harry wanted to be there just in case Lucius said something to upset Draco, though it seemed less and less likely that that would be the case, today. Lucius leaned his silver-topped cane against the table and seated himself with a flourish.
Once the meal was underway, the elder Malfoy said, "What are your thoughts on my proposal, Severus?"
"Hmm," Snape said thoughtfully, chewing a piece of braised lamb shank for longer than Harry suspected was necessary. He swallowed, dabbed at his mouth with his napkin, and took a sip of water before speaking. "I seem to recall having made just such a suggestion in your presence many years ago, Lucius, at which time you insisted that it would destroy everything that Hogwarts represented. I believe you felt that it would 'serve the interests of the mediocre majority' while neglecting the talents of the extraordinary few who best represented what Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin had wished to cultivate."
"Malfoy was right!" called out one of the portraits. Turning, Harry saw that it was Phineas Nigellus, the relative Sirius had once described as the least popular headmaster in the long history of Hogwarts. Harry was grateful for the diversion; it gave him a chance to hide the smirk that had crossed his face when Snape spoke to Lucius.
Lucius kept his face so still that Harry wondered whether he had taken a calming potion before arriving at the school. "I did believe that, yes," he said in a strangely flat tone. "Just as I repeatedly told Albus Dumbledore that the influx of Mudbl-- Muggle-borns was a blight on the reputation of Hogwarts. But that was before the Dark Lord destroyed nearly a generation of the finest wizards and witches. It is clear that you and Potter, though half-bloods, are assets to our community." Lucius shot a calculating look at Harry. "If the Chosen One were to support a proposal that would allow more young witches and wizards to reach their full educational potential, I can't imagine that it would not receive broad popular support."
So that was Lucius' game - to pretend that the changes slowly occurring despite his best efforts to stop them were his own brilliant plan! Harry was about to tell him where he could stuff it when he caught sight of Draco's face. Draco looked hopeful, gazing directly at his father and smiling at him for the first time since that horrible dinner. Did it really matter whether Lucius Malfoy was hailed as a reformer, so long as the changes took place?
It wasn't as if Harry cared about taking credit himself. Even if he had been the only one ever to have made the suggestion, which was far from true, he had had more than enough experience with the publicity that followed Voldemort's death to want to endure additional fame. Since the changes would be a positive force for Hogwarts students and the wizarding world at large, Harry was willing to let Lucius revel in his power -- especially if it meant that Draco and his father would be reconciled. He doubted that Lucius would ever be happy about the decisions Draco had made, but as long as he accepted them and returned to treating Draco with affection, that was enough.
"I would be happy to stand behind this proposal," he said, "although I think perhaps Professor McGonagall should discuss it with the rest of the staff first. If they're all willing to accept it, then it should be presented as a joint decision by the staff and the governors, don't you think? That ought to reduce the level of outcry, if we show a united front." Harry smiled warmly. It would also mean that none of them would be singled out for either blame or adulation, though he was sure that McGonagall as Headmistress would suffer through the greatest excesses of both. "Noting that you brought the suggestion forward at this time, of course."
"Of course." Lucius sounded a touch sour, but Draco's hand slipped under the table to squeeze Harry's.
"Wisely said, Mister Potter," approved McGonagall.
"He might make a good Headmaster someday. In fifty years, perhaps," said Snape, his eyelid drooping in a bare wink at Harry and Draco. "Albus would have been pleased." The nodding and smiling going on in Dumbledore's portrait lent weight to his words, although a number of the other portraits looked distinctly disgruntled.
The glance that Lucius, too, gave Harry could hardly have been described as anything other than resentful, but he covered it quickly with a smile at his son. "Now that that's out of the way, Draco, tell me how you are enjoying teaching at Hogwarts."
"Quite a bit, actually," replied Draco, cautiously returning the smile. "It's rather pleasant to tell a roomful of students to open their textbooks and hear a chorus of, 'Yes, sir.'"
McGonagall pressed her lips together, but her amusement was plain. "Young Mister Malfoy can hardly walk down the corridor without a throng of young witches following him, talking over one another to ask him complicated questions that might take hours of private lecturing. He's extremely popular with the female students." Draco rolled his eyes, but Lucius nodded approvingly, as if he had expected nothing less.
"He is the ideal candidate to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts," Snape added. "He is passionate about avoiding Dark wizards and he makes counter-jinxes seem attractive." In the end, Severus had decided that he would rather teach Potions; it gave him the opportunity to spot the most talented students from a young age and prevented him from having to tolerate what he deemed the foolish wand-waving and hysterical screaming of students easily frightened by a boggart or a serpent.
"The youngest Crabbe girl is in your N.E.W.T.-level class, isn't she? The only one in that family who inherited her mother's beauty." Lucius shot the comment at Draco with a calculating look. Harry had to swallow a smile; apparently Lucius wasn't completely ready to give up the idea that Draco might fall in love with a nice pureblood girl. He wondered what Lucius would say if he knew what Draco, Harry, and Severus had got up to in Severus' shower that morning.
"I didn't notice," said Draco with a kind of beleaguered distaste. "Slytherin House rumors say she's going out with whichever Creevey is a seventh-year now. Those Muggles must have more sons than the Weasleys..."
And the conversation turned easily to wizarding world gossip, as Lucius sipped his wine and Draco ate his lamb and Harry, Minerva, and Severus silently exchanged very small smiles.
ch. 1 / ch. 2 / ch. 3 / ch. 4 / ch. 5 / ch. 6 / ch. 7 / ch. 8 / ch. 9 / ch. 10 / ch. 11 / ch. 12 / ch. 13 / ch. 14 / ch. 15 / ch. 16 / ch. 17