They quickly left the park by the back way after that and it was a somber ride home. Neither Harry nor Manuel talked, no music played, and they didn't once attempt to lose their shadows. Once they arrived at the house the car was immediately surrounded and the two were hustled into the house and into Manuel's study where the windows were secured while over half the men combed the mansion and grounds for intruders.
"What the hell were you thinking" Trevor thundered in both worry and anger "We've gotten used to you two pulling this training stunt as you call it, but when you had the first hint of danger why the hell did you head towards a secluded area. You both know better. They had you outnumbered eight to two and Harry is only seven. Seven years old and he took out three, disabling the fourth. Sheer luck is what that was. He could have died as could have you Manuel, but at least you've had more practice in such situations. Are you trying to get your son killed!?"
Manuel and Harry let Trevor continue with his rant knowing it would be useless to stop their longtime friend and bodyguard. When Trevor finally ran out of breath and it was announced that the mansion and grounds were secure Manuel stood and faced his head of security.
"You're right Trevor, but I could not let them open fire in the middle of the crowd. I also do know my limitations and I know Harry's just as well. I know Harry is only seven but he has been training since he could walk steadily and understand instructions clearly. I trust my son to guard my back just as I trust you and the men. Though I do agree we were lucky today. But let's forget what happened for now and concern ourselves with the prisoner tomorrow. We have a birthday to finish."
With that life in the Darkov household picked up as normal, attacks always happened and they moved on afterwards, trying to live as normally as a Mafia family can.
By midnight the Darkov household was shutting down and the men were leaving to head to their homes or posts after having stayed for Harry's birthday dinner and presents. Harry himself was just drifting off to sleep and thinking about the gifts he had received. He had gotten the usual weapons, the most outstanding being a katana from his Sensei who had told him that they would start instruction with staffs in a week and progress to the sword from there. Unfortunately the katana was too big for him currently so he would be training with specially crafted swords that fit his size. He had gotten gag gifts, books, games, and anything else he could have wished for. But the best gift of all had been spending the day with Manuel and having his father seem so open and carefree. The only damper, besides the earlier attack, was the thought of having to get up for lessons the next morning. He didn't mind the defense lessons but did he really have to have tutors for school work during the summer, he was already smarter than his classmates and he had skipped from first to third grade.
Manuel meanwhile was sitting in his study and staring at the fire. He has had Harry for six years and in four he would have to let him go away to a magical school in Scotland. His son would be on his own in a foreign world where the game of life would be played differently than what Harry was used to. Who would guard his son there, he couldn't send a bodyguard with the boy, couldn't go himself. Roughly Manuel pushed the thoughts away and took a sip of his vodka; he went through this every year on Harry's birthday, July 31st. He had always known that he would have to send Harry to Hogwarts when he turned eleven and hadn't kept any secrets from his son. He would deal with letting his son go when the time came, he had four more years with his dark angel until then.
~~ ~~ ~*~
The door made no sound as it opened but Harry knew someone was in the room with him. It had been a week since the attack on his birthday but Harry was still slightly on edge. As he had been taught he carefully evened out his breathing so that it still seemed as if he were asleep and gripped the dagger under his pillow. Five feet...four...two...the person was almost on top of him. Smoothly Harry flipped himself over and shot forward, twisting the persons arm behind their back and settling the cool blade against their exposed throat with a growl.
"Eek" came a very feminine sound from his assailant's throat.
Harry would know that sound anywhere "Blaise?"
"Good morning to you too" sarcasm laced seven-year-old Blaise's voice as Harry removed the knife from her throat.
"What are you doing here" Harry was just a little confused, no one had mentioned Blaise coming over.
Blaise shrugged "Quite obviously we have lessons together, though I doubt you plan on going, and I'm to keep you amused. Dad also says I need to study more since I'm skipping grades with you and Manuel seems to thinks you're lonely for some reason."
Harry laughed "in other words you're supposed to watch me and keep me out of trouble. Haven't they learned that we get into more trouble together than apart?"
Blaise smiled cheekily at her longtime friend "how are we getting out of lessons today and what do you have planned to get rid of that evil crone they call a teacher?"
Harry smirked "get out of here and let me get dressed."
In the end skipping lessons was a breeze. They merely short-circuited a few of the cameras positioned around the house like one of the guards had taught them, rode the dumbwaiter down to the kitchen, and snuck out to the stables where they mounted Harry's midnight colored stallion Azrael. The only problem was that they had taken too much time, way too much time. The moment the cameras had blacked out Trevor had sent men out to comb the grounds, he had come to recognize the children's handiwork. Unfortunately for them it was Trevor himself who spotted them.
"Harry Darkov, Blaise Zabini" Trevor yelled "back to the house."
"Looks like he spotted us" Harry commented and Blaise nodded her head in defeat before Harry continued "but he hasn't caught us yet."
Furiously Harry spurred Azrael on and they were flying across the open field towards the woods while a pissed off Trevor was screaming futilely at them to turn around before storming back into the house to organize the chase.
It was after lunch when Blaise and Harry decided to head back and face punishment; both of them were very hungry. They had spent the whole morning moving from place to place within the forest to avoid being caught before finally settling deep in their secret cave to plan pranks for their newest teacher. The return trip was much faster since they didn't have to hide and at various points in the woods a guard on horseback would slip along side them, forming a protective barrier as they were herded back to the house. None of their 'captors' spoke a word as they were leaving the scolding up to Trevor and truthfully most of them found the children's antics amusing, even going so far as to encourage it.
Azrael was taken from Harry and Blaise the moment they arrived at the stable while the two miscreants were whisked straight away into the house and into Trevor's study, forced unceremoniously to sit in what they termed the interrogation chairs. Trevor paced behind the desk trying to reign in his anger before turning to Harry first.
There was a glint in his eyes and his voice was dangerously soft "explain."
Both children gulped and Blaise tried to speak first, attempting to soothe Trevor a bit "Father..."
A sharp slicing motion of Trevor's hand cut his daughter off.
Harry lifted his head, his father had always told him to take things like a man "There is no explanation, we decided to skip morning lessons and so we did."
Trevor resumed his pacing "punishments will be dealt. Why did you skip the lessons? That's the thirteenth time this summer."
This time Blaise was allowed to speak without being interrupted "that teacher is an evil crone, we can't learn anything from her. The only thing she does is yell and tell us we aren't doing good enough."
Trevor sighed in exasperation "you won't have to deal with Mrs. Towart anymore. She resigned this morning after you two disappeared."
Harry dared to groan "all those good pranks planned for nothing."
For a brief instant amusement shown in Trevor's eyes before he grew serious "since you can't be bothered to go to your classes then you obvious can't be bothered to meet with Sensei, you will instead work out of your books until dinner."
"You can't do that" both Harry and Blaise argued "you can't cancel our lessons with Sensei."
"That is your punishment" Trevor firmly replied.
Suddenly Harry changed tack "you're right, we shouldn't train with Sensei, we'd only be learning further skills to protect ourselves with. Besides as we are already late I don't care to face Sensei's wrath, last time..."
Harry trailed off with a shudder. Trevor willingly took the bait, he knew of Sensei's punishments and from Harry's reaction figured the boy wasn't all that fond of facing Sensei's discipline, what he didn't know was that Harry and Blaise would rather face Sensei than do homework no matter what Sensei put them through.
"You're right" Trevor said with a slight look of anticipation on his face "you can't not train with Sensei and he's waiting for you. Off you go."
Harry and Blaise waited until they were out of sight before slapping each other high fives.
Sensei trained them hard that lesson, harder than usual, as a form of discipline punishment. Time after time Harry and Blaise found themselves forced to the mats, but they rolled with the punches and came back up fighting as they were expected to do. At the end of class Harry and Blaise were allowed to engage in a sparring match. Blaise briefly gained the upper hand when she managed to flip Harry to the ground, but the wily boy turned the flip into a leg sweep that threw Blaise to the mats. Quickly Harry came through with a cross-hand blow to the neck, checking it right before contact.
Blaise considered her options before sighing "I yield."
Grinning Harry helped her up and they bowed to their Sensei.
"If you are ever late again" Sensei admonished them "you will not like the consequences. And congratulations on losing yet another teacher."
Sensei prided himself on being the only teacher the kids hadn't tried to get rid of.
Summer passed quickly for Blaise and Harry as Trevor took over their schooling, sometimes they almost wished the crone was back, they had a better chance of escaping her. Sensei was working them hard as well as he guided them through the martial arts. Sensei was pushing them hard to learn the art of the staff so that he could gradually eased them towards preparations for training with blades. Manuel was being consumed by work and more attacks had been made on the Mafia King, leading towards him spending less time with his son as he tried to get to the bottom of the attacks. Harry was glad that Blaise was around, they were fast becoming inseparable and he didn't know what he would have done if she wasn't there to keep him company.
All too soon September first rolled around and Blaise and Harry prepared to skip from the third grade to the fifth. They had spent the last two weeks shopping for clothes; school supplies; and in Harry and Blaise's case, prank items. If they were going to skip grades they had to prove they could hold their own not only academically but among the other students and Harry planned to have fun while doing so. It was going to be one hell of an interesting school year, no Darkov or Zabini ever backed down from a challenge.
Trevor and Manuel escorted their children to school the first day, a wary guard sitting in an idling car a few feet back. Both men restlessly scanned the grounds without appearing to do so before turning their attention back to Blaise and Harry, the four of them looking every inch the part of danger in their form fitting black clothes.
"Be alert" Manuel told Harry as he quickly hugged the lean boy and checked to make sure he was armed "do well and stay safe."
Manuel knew any comments on staying out of trouble would be wasted on his son and did not bother. Trevor stood after having given a similar, yet sterner, talk to Blaise.
"Do you both have your tracking charms? Are your radios tuned to signal four" Trevor asked all business.
At Harry and Blaise's nods Trevor went on "you know not to reveal your weapons unless necessary and someone will be nearby at all times. Have a good day."
Trevor and Manuel drove off after a last warning of no fighting on school grounds, leaving Harry and Blaise to enter the school, the second car only moving after discharging the single passenger entrusted with the lives of the Mafia Prince and his companion.
Calmly Harry and Blaise entered their fifth year classroom, scouting for seats that would allow them easy access to any possible exits without making them targets.
"I believe you have the wrong room" a friendly fifth year addressed them "are you lost?"
Harry studied the smiling girl for a moment "not if this is Miss Walker's class."
The girl looked at them oddly then "aren't you a little young for the fifth year?"
Harry snickered as Blaise got in the last word before the teacher entered and told them to take their seats "aren't you being too nosey?"
Miss Walker quickly took roll and finally came to the last two names, names that had been added to her roll call only the day before, the names of two students she was most looking forward to finding out more about.
"Present ma'am" Harry called out in his strong, silky voice.
A few looks his way showed at least vague recognition of his last name.
"Present ma'am" Blaise said confidently.
It was time to earn their place among the fifth years.
The morning classes went by without incident, leaving Harry and Blaise utterly bored. They spent the morning doing their work and conversing using various forms of sign and body language, planning escapes and hatching plots while pretending to be paying attention to their lessons as well as answer the random questions directed their way. Lunch time came around and Blaise and Harry ate their packed lunches amidst the dubious smells of cafeteria food and noisy chatter.
"We should have never let my father tutor us" Blaise groaned "unless that class picks up quickly we're going to be redoing all our summer work again."
Harry snorted "either that or we'll be skipped to sixth year."
With that they ended their conversation and headed outside with the rest of their year for break, sending silent acknowledgement to their guard to let him know that they knew where he was. He had been revealing himself to them every now and then just so that they knew they were still being watched over and he hadn't been taken down or any such thing.
Blaise grinned at Harry as she saw most of their year mates in a huddle, occasionally looking at them "let the inquisition begin."
They had barely settled themselves on top of the monkey-bars, they'd probably get yelled at later for making themselves easy targets, when their classmates gathered below them with a few even daring to climb up next to them.
"You don't look old enough to be a fifth year" one of the bigger males commented, demanding an answer.
Harry shrugged nonchalantly "we skipped some years."
More questions were fired at Harry and Blaise but they either shrugged them off, especially when it touched on their family or could have led to something pertaining on the Mafia, or gave unsatisfactory answers. Finally their classmates wandered off, giving up on the inquisition, but not before Harry heard a lewd comment directed towards Blaise involving a skirt. Before anything else could be said Harry had leapt smoothly to the ground and was facing the boy.
"What did you say" Harry's voice was a velvet black whip of danger as Blaise joined him.
"Nothing" the boy, Chris Chauvez, sneered before walking away.
Harry narrowed his eyes but let Chris go, remembering Manuel and Trevor's warning from that morning. But Harry wasn't about to let it drop, his young mind was quickly planning how to get Chris Chauvez without breaking the rules set down for him by his father.
The day finally ended with gym class where the fifth years were going to be engaging in a gymnastic-oriented unit, leading Harry and Blaise's quick minds to start figuring out how gymnastics could be incorporated in their training with Sensei. They were flexible enough to pull off most of the gymnastic moves and if they could add flips to the basic tumbles Sensei already had them using it would give them an advantage against opponents who didn't know gymnastics. Besides that it was much more fun than anything else they had done that day, the only problem was that they wouldn't be learning the flips the teacher had demonstrated for them quite yet.
Harry and Blaise saw that Manuel and Trevor were waiting for them when school ended, but they had something to take care of first. Coincidentally Harry and Blaise had timed their exit from the school gates to coincide perfectly with Chris' and without warning Harry pulled back his fist and punched the boy straight in the nose, drawing forth a fountain of blood.
"If I ever hear of you saying anything inappropriate about Blaise ever again you will regret it" Harry hissed into the injured boy's ear.
"Harry James Manuel Potter-Darkov!" Manuel's deceptively cool voice lashed out from directly behind him and Harry turned to face his glowering father "what were you told this morning!"
Harry shrugged nonchalantly even though he froze slightly inside and walked past his father to get into the car "we weren't on school grounds anymore."
The ride home was taken in silence. Manuel didn't know whether to be proud of his son or to scold him. Trevor was keeping his peace as Harry had been standing up for his daughter while Blaise was resisting the urge to hug Harry even as she wished she could have gotten a piece of Chris. Harry was merely silent. He wasn't proud of hitting someone who never had a chance against him, but he just hadn't been able to let the earlier comments go unpunished. Chris had gotten what he deserved and in the end that was all that mattered to Harry, it didn't even matter if he was punished, he would take any punishment he was given because he had earned it standing up for his friend.
Yet for his brave thoughts it was with some trepidation that Harry entered his father's study when they got home. Manuel's face was an impassive mask and Harry was starting to squirm inside. Manuel's study was usually a place where the two could relax and sometimes even discuss business together, well Manuel discussed and Harry learned, but right now it was taking on a foreboding air making Harry want to turn and run the other way. As Trevor did whenever Harry was in trouble Manuel wasted no words, allowing the single question of "why" to slip forth before he fell into silence, waiting for any explanation that might come.
Harry briefly bowed his head before bringing it up sharply so that his burning green eyes met his father's dark ones.
"I will not allow anyone to speak rude of Blaise and I did not break any of the rules you set down for me. I did not reveal my weapons and I did not attack him on school grounds. Chris deserved what he got."
A shadow passed across Manuel's face as he watched his son stand proudly before him, ready to accept the consequences of his actions. It brought back nearly painful memories of himself in similar situations with his father standing where he was now. Manuel knelt before his son, bringing himself on level with the overly mature boy.
"You could have handled things differently today Harry, but I am proud that you would defend Blaise in such a way, especially since you found a way to do so without breaking the rules set down for you. It seems that you are almost too smart for your own good though I cannot fault you for acting as any Darkov would."
Manuel left the room, leaving a gaping Harry standing there. Obviously the boy had expected to get in trouble over what had happened. But what Harry had said was true; he hadn't been on school grounds and had only been warned against fighting on school grounds. Manuel passed a waiting Trevor but did not receive the frown he was expecting. Instead his friend and bodyguard nodded to him and walked into the office Manuel had just vacated.
As he continued down the hall he heard Trevor say "thank you for standing up for my daughter today. I am proud to have you as her friend."
Manuel smiled, Darkov's and Zabini's would always stand by each other in this cruel world.
Harry had barely made it into class the next morning when Miss Walker handed him a folded over note that politely requested his presence in the Headmistress' office. For a brief moment Harry pondered what would happen if he didn't show up, the note had seemed more of a request to him and one that could be refused more than a summons that must be obeyed. In the end his insatiable curiosity and love for causing trouble made him avoid the summons, much to Blaise's amusement. Unfortunately the Headmistress didn't see the amusement and sent another note for Harry; this one could be called nothing less than an order. Smirking Harry passed the note to Blaise and walked out of class for his appointment with the Headmistress.
Before Harry knew it Blaise was at his side. Harry looked at her and arched a dark eyebrow in question.
Blaise smirked "you're not going anywhere without me. I told Miss Walker that the note asked me to come as well, she bought it."
Gliding through the silent halls they soon reached the Headmistress' office and Harry raised a hand to knock once, firmly.
"Come in" a sternly feminine voice called out and Harry entered while Blaise took up sentinel outside the door that closed sharply behind him.
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes not only at the atmosphere of the office that was designed to frighten errant students into submission, but at Blaise for acting as if she was her father.
Harry turned his unnatural blazing green eyes on the Headmistress who sat behind her desk primly but with an air of authority, Harry could tell that she was not used to being disobeyed.
"Sit Mr. Darkov" her sharp voice only compounded Harry's impression of her and brought to the forefront of his demeanor the pride ingrained in every Darkov.
One of the first lessons Harry remembered being taught was to not lower yourself below another's power but to put yourself equal to them, or above them if possible. The Headmistress would gain a feeling of superiority over him if he accepted her inviting order to sit; she had the imposing oak desk to give her power. By remaining standing he would bring them on more equal footing and hopefully fluster her enough to give himself an edge.
Bringing his chin up to tilt his head at a regal angle Harry declined "I am fine standing ma'am."
A tick beat in the Headmistress' forehead telling Harry that his intentions had hit home. She was used to students jumping when she snapped her beefy fingers, but Harry was not a lap dog to do tricks. Briefly flicking his assessing gaze around before returning it firmly to stare down the Headmistress Harry noticed his guard hovering discreetly outside the first story windows. The guard gave him a slight grin and winked, encouraging the proud and mischievous heir to the Darkov name.
The Headmistress decided to try and take control of the situation and stood, leaning forward over her desk trying to intimidate Harry to no avail.
"You do realize that you are facing suspension for fighting on school grounds" the Headmistress smiled slightly maliciously, thinking that she had finally managed to exert her superiority.
Harry smirked back "if you expel me for fighting on school grounds then I can bring a file of complaint against you with the school board, for the fight as you call it was in a place where you hold no jurisdiction. I was not on school grounds when the incident occurred, but Chris was on school grounds when he made sexually harassing comments about my friend, something which does warrant a suspension and possibly expulsion if her parents wish to press the matter. I do hope you will take proper steps and correct this misunderstanding and discipline the proper parties."