Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Deceptive Appearances

An Unexpected Gift

by ShadeDancer 0 reviews

Chapter 2

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Harry, Snape - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2005-10-21 - Updated: 2005-10-22 - 5267 words

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Lucius was the first down to breakfast the next morning as always, knowing that his wife and son would soon follow in order to spend a bit of time with him before he had to head off to the Ministry. And as was routine a smiling house-elf met him at the doorway to the dining room with a steaming mug of coffee. Said cup of coffee almost went crashing to the floor though when Lucius caught sight of the raven-haired, emerald-eyed boy sitting at the table as if he belonged there, enjoying his breakfast as if nothing was wrong. A small smile traced its way across the aristocratic Malfoy features, the boy had surprised them yet again and by judging the grin on his surrogate sons face the child knew it.

"Lucius, what are you doing just standing in the doorway like that" Narcissa's melodious voice spoke out softly from behind him "is something the-"

Lucius had moved aside so that his wife could see inside the dining room.

"-Harry" Narcissa cried out warmly as she swept regally forward to hug Harry "I'm so glad to see you. When did you get here? Does Draco know yet?"

"Obviously not mother" Draco drawled from next to his father "I hadn't expected him to slip away from his watch dogs and follow through with my suggestion to come home quite so quickly."

A mock frown of disappointment crossed Harry's features "well if I'm so obviously not wanted now I can leave and come back later-"

Draco pulled Harry into a brotherly hug that neither would dare give in public as appearances must be kept, not only of them being 'enemies' but the Malfoy's adhered strictly to the rules of pureblooded etiquette when in public.

"You're not going anywhere you git, you're staying right here and having breakfast with us at the very least."

Lucius was the next to come forward and pull Harry to him in a fatherly hug "how long do you think you can stay before someone becomes suspicious of your absence?"

Harry shook his head sadly "not too long after breakfast I'm afraid. As it was so elegantly put the old fool keeps me on a tight leash whenever he can."

Narcissa made a noise of disappointment; it wasn't often that both Harry and Draco were at home. They would have officially adopted Harry a long time ago if the bastard Dumbledore hadn't taken measures to ensure that no one could remove Harry from his relatives without first going through him. And with the Dark Mark having once been on Lucius' arm even though Harry had charmed it invisible by using complex spells in parseltongue so that those not bearing the Dark Mark couldn't see it, no one would believe that he did not support Voldemort and had actually been a spy during the first uprising since he hadn't reported to any of the major known powers in the war. Lucius was his own man and Malfoy pride prevented him from bowing down to an insane megalomaniac without a bloody damn good reason; protecting his family and himself by feigning loyalty in order to spy on Voldemort was the only reason he had taken the mark.

"We will just have to make the best of what time you can spend with us then" Narcissa stated cheerfully, her next words drawing a smile from Harry "and we will have to do our best to free you from Dumbledore's machinations even if it means hiring someone to kidnap you."

A delicious breakfast filled with comfortable conversation ensued, Narcissa occasionally running her fingers through the lengthening strands of Harry's unruly hair commenting that she liked him growing his hair out and was glad he didn't plaster his hair with gel like Draco used to. The comment drew a glare from Draco before the blonde stuck his tongue out childishly. Once breakfast was over with Lucius excused himself to head to work and Narcissa went to prepare herself to head over to the Parkinson's for tea and left Harry and Draco to engage in a fierce round of sparring. In keeping with tradition both boys saluted each other with their blades then clashing them once up and once down before assuming a ready stance with their swords pointing down to the ground and slightly behind them. An unseen signal passed and Draco launched himself forward with a flurry of thrusts which Harry parried, dancing around Draco while looking for an opening. Draco was pure aggression with a sword and while Harry also favored a similar technique he was using this duel to study the moves of his opponent; pure aggression would not always win in the clash of blades, tactics and strategic planning were needed as well.

All too soon Harry and Draco had to call their duel to a draw and saluted each other as they worked on keeping their breathing even. Fencing was both an art and a battle to them and control was a necessary factor that needed to be employed. Glancing at his watch Harry realized that he had just enough time to say goodbye to Narcissa before he had to be back at Hogwarts, they wouldn't miss him over breakfast but if he wasn't seen by lunch someone would come looking. They found Narcissa waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs and after quick but loving hugs Harry and Draco transformed and raced to the apparition point, paws thudding across the soft grasses that coated the land of Malfoy Manor. At the apparition point the black wolf with vivid green eyes and a silver lightening bolt across its muzzle transformed back into a human only to be jumped upon playfully by a grey panther.

"And you tell me to sit and heel" Harry murmured shoving Draco off of him and straightening his robes "I think you're the one that needs the obedience training, or at the very least a leash."

The panther slunk off of Harry and pretended to pout before batting at him with a paw.

"I know, I know" Harry groaned "I need to get out of here. I wish you guys could just adopt me and be done with it, screw the rest of the Wizarding world."

It was with sad eyes that the unusual looking panther watched the boy disappear with the softest touches of magic before sauntering with a lonesome gait back to the house while no more than a mere instant later Harry appeared in a shadowed corner of Hogwart's library. Yes, he had apparated straight into Hogwarts even though it was thought to be impossible, but Harry Potter was a master of the impossible. He also had not apparated as normal witches and wizards did. He had apparated silently upon the waves of magic, allowing his body to flow with the waves and break up to become part of the magic.

When they apparated, other witches and wizards would force their complete bodies from one place to another, running the risk of splinching. This created a vacuum in the air around them both where they disappeared and then reappeared resounding in a loud crack. Harry's form of travel was silent and much more suited to one that employed stealth in their movements. Elemental traveling would also enable him to bypass through Hogwarts' wards as he became part of the Earthly surroundings and was not recognized as a being to be kept out, but the elements took more power and without showing proper respect and having a firm control over what he was doing the elements could backfire and harm him severely. It was so much safer to become a part of the pure magic surrounding him since as a wizard magic was just as much a part of him as his flesh and blood.

Harry sat down at the table in the corner he had appeared in, a place he had claimed as his own where he could freely study without Ron or Hermione or anyone else questioning him. It was also an inconspicuous place to run into some of his Slytherin friends. Then adopting a studious air the young Potter pulled out the potions text Professor Snape had went over the night before and began going through the first potion marked. Hours passed and he had only gotten through two of the potions that due to their placement at the beginning of the book were some of the easier ones. He was currently working on the Bezovis Potion and while he couldn't see anything wrong with the instructions he knew he had read something about it before.

Sighing he slipped his glance over the many books pertaining to potions now cluttering the table, he had summoned them from all over the library but none seemed to be what he needed. Unless-calling himself a million kinds of fool Harry realized that there was one book in this library that would have a lot of the answers in it and save him the trouble of cross-referencing two or three different texts. Within seconds the book Moste Potente Potions was zooming across the library to him. He had discovered, quite by accident, that there was a way around the alarms in the restricted section. The alarms only went off if a book was physically carried through the wards without Madam Pince's authorizing signature, so if the book was summoned there was nothing to set off the alarms. Of course the person summoning the book also had to have enough power to force their will through the minor detection wards.

"Bezovis, Bezovis " Harry murmured as he ran a finger quickly through the list of potions listed "here it is! Bezovis: see Vivari Potion."

Page 1075 yielded the answers he sought. The Bezovis Potions was rendered ineffective unless mixed with five drops of the Vivari Potion after it had cooled and the Vivari Potion was more potent if brewed upon the night of the new moon due to the fact that the potion was supposed to revive the drinker's life-force or magical reserve. Quickly Harry scrawled this notation on the page for the Bezovis Potion in his book and closed it. For the first day having three of the potions corrected wasn't that bad and Harry was ready to do something else. Banishing the books back to their proper places, it wouldn't do for Madam Pince to get suspicious when he was currently the only student in residence, Harry left the library contemplating hunting down Peeves. The mischievous poltergeist was always up for some fun, especially if it involved chaos and mayhem. He ran into Professor Flitwick first.

"Hello Mr. Potter" the small man greeted him cheerfully "you just missed lunch I'm afraid."

"I wasn't all that hungry Professor" he replied, which wasn't quite true, he had asked Dobby to bring him some sandwiches so he didn't have to go to the hall and quit working on his research.

Professor Flitwick took a few more steps down the hall before turning back to Harry.

"Are you busy right now Mr. Potter? I was going to do some work around the classroom and work on some charms. Would you like to help?"

Harry shrugged "sure Professor, I'll help."

Harry figured that he might as well work with Flitwick for a little while, there was always the chance of learning something new even offhandedly, and Flitwick was one of the few teachers he knew wasn't trying to act as his professor and keep an eye on him. The Charms professor was too open for such a thing and Harry couldn't remember seeing him at any Order meetings in the past. In the end it did turn out to be an amusing afternoon and Harry found himself heading to dinner in a good mood. They had spent some time rearranging the room and Flitwick had taught him a few housekeeping spells that would come in handy if he ever got sent back to the Dursley's, not that he planned on staying there if he did.

Flitwick had also turned out to be very knowledgeable in spells useful for pranking. The little man had even winked at Harry before teaching him some of these as if to say that he wouldn't tell if he recognized the spells in use during the school year. They had spent the last hour or so when done their work discussing some more advanced charms and the theory behind them while sipping Butterbeer. Harry was sort of wishing that he had talked more to the man besides during classroom discussions in previous years and had felt slightly pleased when the man had mentioned that he would have made a good Ravenclaw if the Sorting Hat hadn't put him in Gryffindor. Harry didn't bother mentioning that if he had allowed the Hat to put him in Slytherin that he would have been as close to being a Ravenclaw as one could without actually being sorted into the noble house of knowledge. It was ironic how similar Ravenclaws and Slytherins were except that Ravenclaws desired knowledge for knowledge's sake while Slytherins desired knowledge to compliment their cunning nature so that they weren't taken advantage of.

The week was drawing to a close and Harry had finally finished the last of the potions he had to have done for his meeting with Professor Snape that evening. He had been alternating between working on that assignment, completing his homework, and researching various types of magics throughout the week. He had also become a regular visitor to the charms corridor. Professor Flitwick was a wellspring of knowledge when it came to magic and was working with Harry on dueling, the professor having been a dueling champion when he was younger.

It was also hard to imagine, but Flitwick was a prankster at heart and having found a kindred spirit in Harry it became so that pranks could be sprung without warning and no one was safe. Of course the teachers had learned to expect the occasional prank from Filius during the holidays when the man got bored, but things had stepped up now that the charms master had found a prankster protégé; the twins hadn't had enough finesse to satisfy Filius and therefore he had never approached them to give them lessons. Then there were the occasional discussions Harry got into with Professor Snape. Both student and teacher had been able to be surprisingly civil with each other and would talk seriously about many topics, not limiting themselves to magic but expanding to the muggle world and its technologies. Of course no one ever bore witness to this new civility, though it had been noted that Snape didn't belittle Harry as much anymore.

Then of course there were the times when Harry went off by himself to simply meditate or fly. Lucius and Draco had also come twice that week for them to continue with fencing lessons. Unfortunately Harry had yet to make it back to Malfoy Manor to stay another night and it made him slightly melancholy, at least Narcissa had written to him everyday about trifles to cheer him up and keep him connected with the family. He had also been keeping in close contact with the others through the charmed parchments and he was currently trying to get some of them to meet him in a clearing in the Forbidden Forest for a pick-up game of Quidditch. He had first suggested using the Chamber of Secrets, but even the Slytherins were a bit leery of the rumors they had heard of that place and when added to the truth-well, the place would have to be cleaned out first anyhow and there was no way Harry would be able to sneak six or seven people through Hogwarts without a teacher or the headmaster spotting them. The ones he hadn't bothered to write too often were Ron and Hermione, there really wasn't much he had to say to them at all except for vague pleasantries.

Harry was interrupted from his thoughts as he shifted his food around on his plate, occasionally managing to have a bite reach his mouth, when McGonagall came to stand over him.

"I would like a word with you after dinner Mr. Potter" she stated briskly before walking off towards her office.

Not seeing any reason to postpone talking to McGonagall, Harry rose and followed; it would be best to do this now anyhow so he wasn't late for meeting Professor Snape. Naturally McGonagall did not beat around the bush and once she was seated in a position of power behind her office desk and he in a chair in front of her she spoke.

"I have managed to convince Professor Snape to allow you into his NEWT potions class on a probation basis though I believe your maturity this summer is what has contributed to his slight bending of the rules. Had you scored another point or so on your written exam for Potions you would have made it into the class on your own. Don't mess things up and I hope this newfound maturity will continue over into your lessons, you need potions to qualify for Auror training."

Harry nodded, keeping his face straight "yes, ma'am."

He had suspected something like this would happen as the Professor had been hinting during a few of their conversations on potions that if Harry continued to show such a grasp and intuitive knowledge than he should be able to handle the more advanced theories taught after the OWLs. His assigning Harry to correct the instructions for the fouled potions was a test to see how hard Harry would dedicate to working on potions as well as to see how much he could understand; also it was a given that Harry would somehow end up brewing a few potions this summer under Snape's watchful eyes. But McGonagall wasn't finished with this meeting yet, and if possible she had grown even more stern looking and serious than usual.

"In addition the Headmaster has decided that there is more that can be done to help you protect yourself. He has asked me to instruct you in the way of the animagi. Becoming an animagus isn't easy, but Professor Dumbledore thinks you shall be able to successfully perform at this task citing that if you are capable of conjuring a corporeal patronus at thirteen then you will have little trouble assuming an animagus form. Be warned that I will tolerate no foolishness during instruction and you are to tell no one of these lessons. You will not try and give lessons to your friends either, the Headmaster and I are to be the only ones knowing that you are attempting the transformation. You will also agree to register your form with the Ministry of Magic when it is safe for you to do so. I will let you know when we will begin with your lessons. Dismissed."

Harry pretended to stare in shock for a moment before he stood abruptly and then left as McGonagall was determinedly working through the paperwork on her desk to postpone further conversation. It wasn't until Harry was halfway to the dungeons that he realized something. This was going to cut into even more of his precious free time and he was going to have to choose a form to use. That meant suppressing the magic involved with the animagus forms he had already achieved, the falcon and the wolf, and take the whole transformation one step at a time and make it seem as if he was struggling through the lessons so as not to arouse any suspicions in McGonagall or Dumbledore. This was going to be a lot more trouble than it was worth and a nice debate with Snape right now was sounding like a good way to relieve his frustrations since Draco wasn't around to fence with. Flying would work too, but he didn't want to think of the reprimands he would get from his keepers for flying outside at night.

He walked confidently in the dungeon room that served as Snape's office after a perfunctory knock.

"Right on time Mr. Potter" Snape said "It seems your meeting with Minerva did not delay you so that you missed our appointment."

It was blatantly obvious to him that the Master of Potions was fishing to find out what had been said even if he had to know that his acceptance of Harry into the NEWT Potions class had come up. Harry also saw no reason not to divulge that part of the meeting, and it would also help keep Snape from suspecting that anything else had been said.

"Professor McGonagall informed me that I have been allowed into your NEWT level Potions class on a probationary basis and I would like to thank you for giving me the chance sir."

Snape smirked "Yes, I had suspected something of the sort. I had expected her to inform you much earlier today though since she considered my agreement to take you on as a great coup. As it is she will have to tutor a few of my Slytherins in return. I do believe I will take great enjoyment in informing her at the end of this year that I would have accepted you in my NEWT level class regardless of her meddling based upon your work and show of comprehension this summer. It does make me wonder though why you have never shown such a level of skill during lessons in previous years."

Harry gave the professor a wry grin "have you ever tried to work effectively with Ron Weasley as your table partner. I spent more time focusing on keeping him from blowing us up than on my own potion, and you didn't exactly make things easy for me as well. You would criticize the Gryffindors work but you never explained what we were doing wrong or how to correct it."

"Point taken" Snape nodded seriously "and such problems will not be a hindrance in the NEWT level classes for there is no way I am allowing Weasley into my classroom even if he had achieved the correct level of competency and should desire to be present, a thing I highly doubt he would wish. As well I will be showing less animosity, for the students that have received an Outstanding in their Potions OWLs deserve the right to learn what I can teach them unlike the dunderheads I had to teach because it was a required course for up to fifth year."

A companionable three hours were spent then as they reviewed the Potions Harry had corrected and began brewing some potions Madam Pomfrey had requested for the Hospital Wing. Both worked silently and with precision, Snape silently acknowledging to himself that Potter did indeed have a place among those accepted into his sixth year Potions class. And if Potter was telling the truth then there wouldn't be any major problems with the Slytherins that had managed to make the cut; only Potter and Ms. Granger had made the class from Gryffindor, and the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs came in on a different day. He had expected Ms. Granger to be in his class even though he had hoped against it; she had the book knowledge to continue, but her potions skills were barely average and if she hadn't practically memorized the texts assigned for the class she probably would not have done so well during the practical parts of the lesson.

Harry was still restless even if the time brewing potions in the dungeon had settled him a bit. The night was just too inviting to waste by going to sleep or sitting indoors waiting for lethargy to overtake him so he decided to go for a walk. The walking also enabled him to come to the decision to use a bobcat as his animagus form for his lessons with McGonagall. He had never attempted a feline form before and so it would make learning the transformation slightly more difficult for him; it was also a form he would not mind registering when compared to the choices of his wolf or falcon forms. His aimless wandering took him down across the grounds of Hogwarts where he walked along the edge of the lake until he was nearing the far side. The cool waves of the lake lapped slightly against the shore from where the giant squid was stirring things up with a rhythmic invitation. Impulse took over and Harry dove into the inviting depths, wandlessly transfiguring his clothes as he went. He swam for a while before playing with the giant squid a bit. He really didn't understand why people didn't like to swim when the squid was about, it was actually quite fun when the squid launched you high into the air and you went into a freefall toward the water. Though if the squid launched you too hard and too high the landing could hurt if you didn't turn into the dive right, he had learned that the hard way. Harry was just surfacing from one such dive when a playful tug caused him to go under, swallowing water. Harry growled when he saw his attacker.

"Damn mermaids" he mouthed causing bubbles to rising in a heavy stream toward the surface and amusing the mermaid greatly.

Ever since the second task of the tri-wizard tournament the mermaids had become fond of accosting him when he was in the lake. Knowing that he would not be allowed to surface without a fight Harry gave in and warped the magic around him to cause a partial transformation to occur in his body. He grew himself gills to allow for underwater breathing and formed his feet into a tail any merman would envy, but left his body from the waist up human; it was something he would never admit to being able to do as he found it slightly embarrassing for some reason. Reluctantly he swam with the mermaid to the underwater city and stayed for a bit before insisting that it was time for him to return to the world of land-dwellers.

Then before they could detain him further he turned and darted in and out of the plants and rocks within the lake, enticing the mermaids into a game of hide-and-seek that they would never win since he had magic at his disposal. Though he wouldn't admit it to them he liked swimming through their city, what he didn't like was how they decided when that was to be. With a fishy smile Harry shot through the water, heading for the moon shining overhead. He broke through the surface of the water in a huge leap and transformed again, this time into the aerial wonder that was the falcon, and flew towards the windows of his rooms and to his now anticipated rest.

~~ ~~ ~*~

The weeks began to pass by and soon it would be Harry's birthday as well as time to head back to Hogwarts, oh wait, he already was at Hogwarts. Nothing all that important to look forward to this year then. He would just be changing one empty prison for a prison full of people who didn't realize anything but their own petty problems and he would also have to go back to sleeping in the Gryffindor boy's dorm. Perhaps he could make a petition to keep his summer rooms so that he didn't wake up his roommates in the tower with his 'vision induced nightmares'. Not that he had them anymore unless he wanted them to come. Occlumency had actually helped with that. At least he would be allowed to go to Diagon Alley soon; too bad it would have to be under the watchful eyes of the Weasley's and whatever Order members were his babysitters for the day.

Then there was the animagus training in which he had to put up with McGonagall everyday. It was even worse than being in class with her during the regular school year for her attention was focused solely on him and he had to pay attention even though he already knew how to become an animagus and could actually tell her how to shorten the process, but then again she couldn't see the magic around them so it probably wouldn't help. The first few lessons had been filled with boring meditations on his inner self which would have taken months longer except Harry had proven that he already knew how to meditate. Then he had been forced to swallow a disgusting potion that was to reveal his form. Harry manipulated the wild magic in the air so that the projection caused by the potion ignored all other possible forms for him except what he would look like as a bobcat. The image that showed was a dark ash-colored bobcat with light gold mixed in; his scar had shown up as a darker patch of fur above his clear, yet pale green eyes. From there it had been meditation exercises and practice on growing his fingernails and making small patches of fur grow on his hands. McGonagall probably would have made him work at an even slower rate, but Dumbledore wanted him able to fully transform by September 1st and so McGonagall was doing her best to see that it was so.

At least he had managed to sneak away to Malfoy Manor yesterday where his friends and surrogate family had gathered to throw him a birthday party. The food had been marvelous, the presents spectacular (Lucius had given him a purebred stallion, Draco gave him a golden snitch, and Blaise had given him a gold and brown Egyptian Asp for company), but best of all had been the companionship and easy camaraderie with people who understood him and loved him for himself. Then towards the end a cry had gone up for Harry and Draco to give a fencing demonstration, Lucius had not been quiet in his pride of having the boys as his protégés in regards to this noble art. Yet not quite ready to share with their friends the passion they found in fencing together, Harry and Draco had worked their way through a duel-training exercise which pleased everyone none the less.

One minute left to midnight and then he could expect the usual owls from the Weasley's and Hermione. Thirty seconds more and another year of tradition would be fulfilled. Ten, nine, eight...four,! He was sixteen and in the muggle world could now legally drive a moped. He knew Dudley had probably gotten one for his birthday if they could find one big and sturdy enough to hold the whale's weight. The owls came flocking in. He got the usual gifts of food from Mrs. Weasley, pranks from the joke shop from the twins as well as a notice saying that as their investor he was receiving one-third of the profits made, Ron sent him a Chudley Cannons poster, Ginny some sweets, a letter from Remus, and a book and a necklace with a protection rune from Hermione. There was one last letter, but Harry knew of no one else that would send him anything for his birthday that night and he could feel the dark magic surrounding it. Magically it burst open before he could do anything about it and the Dark Mark hovered in front of Harry's eyes.

The cool, serpentine voice of Voldemort lisped forth "Happy Sixteenth Birthday Harry Potter. Your relatives are screaming for you."
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