The Serpent's Gaze, Book Four: Betting On Blood

BY : DictionaryWrites
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 977
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and the characters therein belong to JK Rowling; I'm playing in the sandbox, as it were, whilst claiming no ownership and making no money.

"Just sign here, here and here." Harry grins as he watches Petunia bend over the contract and draw the quill awkwardly over the page. She obviously struggles with it, a scowl twisting her features; Vernon has already signed it, and with the final flourish of Petunia's ugly, pinched little signature, Harry's freedom is official. Sirius Black is now Harry Potter's completely legal guardian, from now 'til Harry's of age.

Dudley is watching from the side of the kitchen, his arms crossed over his chest and his expression sour: Sirius and Harry are dressed casually, in jeans and t-shirts, but Sirius' Azkaban tattoo is obvious on his neck, and more ink is obvious on his bare arms. Sirius is a true affront to the normalcy of Little Whinging with his long, dark hair and his scuffed, ripped jeans, and Harry has never been prouder to stand beside his godfather in his life.

"Done, then," Petunia says, huffing out a little noise, and Harry beams at her.

"So glad," he says, and he rolls up the piece of parchment, handing it over to Sirius. Sirius' expression isn't as plainly joyful as Harry's own is. He's irritated, and he regards all three Dursleys with a mildly hostile displeasure. "Let's go, Sirius."

"Is that the cupboard they kept you in?" Sirius asks, nodding back into the hall. Harry glances to the white-painted cupboard door, and then he meets his godfather's gaze again. "It's tiny."

"Yeah, I know," Harry says. "Let's go." Sirius breathes in, nostrils flaring, and he turns to stare at Petunia, leaning right towards her. Petunia stands her ground, holding her horsey neck straight and looking right into Sirius' face; Harry can see that Vernon's getting angry, and he can't be bothered with his relatives today. "Sirius," Harry says sharply. "They're bad people, they treated me badly, and now they won't. That's it. Let's go."

"Bad people!" Vernon spits out, reddening. "Took you in, out of the goodness of our hearts-" Sirius looks ready to pull out his wand at any moment, and Harry's uncle looks ready to come to blows, so Harry steps in.

"Shut up, Vernon," Harry says loudly, and the man is shocked into silence, his furious face turning a swift, ruddy plum-red. "We're going." He grabs Sirius by the arm, pulling him into the hall and then outside. Sirius keeps clenching and unclenching his fists, twitching irritably, but despite his plain fury Harry feels he's holding in his anger quite well. "Calm down."

"How can I be calm?" Sirius asks. "Those- those people-"

"What do you want to do, Sirius? Kill them? Hurt them? Send them to Azkaban?" Sirius lets out a sharp noise of frustration as he walks with Harry down Magnolia Crescent, and Harry shakes his head. "There's no point. Let's just go home."

"Harry!" comes a voice in front of them, and Harry stops short, offering the old lady an awkward, polite smile.

"Er, hi, Mrs Figg. You alright?"

"Oh, yes, enjoying the sunshine... Leaving for the summer then, are you? Don't suppose I'll see you back here, now that Sirius is out of prison?" Harry blinks at her, opening and closing his mouth. Mrs Figg is beaming at him, and Harry isn't quite sure what to say, or what to do.

"Er, no, Ma'am. We're heading back to London now. And then, obviously, back to school in September," he speaks slowly, narrowing his eyes slightly, and Sirius looks between the two of them, obviously perplexed.

"And what house are you in?" Mrs Figg asks in a bright, polite tone, tilting her head slightly and watching him carefully. "My brothers were both in Ravenclaw." Harry pauses for a few seconds before he replies.

"Slytherin, Mrs Figg," he answers. "And proud of it."

"Strange," she says lightly. "Always thought you'd be a Gryffindor. Ah, well. Have a good summer, Harry!" Mrs Figg totters off, dragging her trolley-bag behind her, and Harry watches her go, utterly thrown by the interaction.

"Who was that?" Sirius asks, and Harry considers the question as they dip under the traffic bridge to Apparate.

"Well," Harry says. "I'm not entirely sure I know."


Grimmauld Place is in chaos when Sirius and Harry arrive. Three house elves squeak in horror and disappear from sight as Sirius and Harry cross the threshold, and when they enter the dining room, it seems like everyone's home: Lucius and Mrs Weasley are in the midst of an argument, him holding a bottle of black poison and her shaking a bottle of Doxycide; over the table, Fred and Ginny are playing a fast-paced game of Exploding Snap against Draco and George, and in the corner of the room Hermione looks ready to slap Ron upside the head with her book.

"Just another day in paradise," Sirius says brightly, surveying the havoc with a smile on his face, and Harry shakes his head, making his way forwards. He takes the bottle of poison out of Lucius' hand, setting it on the table.

"Use the Doxycide," he says, looking right up into Lucius' affronted expression. "The cats and the owls in this house like to play with the Doxies, Lucius. Do you want to clean Hermione's cat off the stairwell?" Lucius blinks at him, and then he scowls, looking at Mrs Weasley.

"You can take care of them, then," he says in a biting tone.

"Happy to!" Mrs Weasley retorts, and she hurries out of the room and up the stairs. Harry winces as he hears Mrs Black's portrait start to scream at her, and he sighs, walking past Lucius and into the kitchen.

Sitting against the counter and silently sipping at a mug of steaming, green tea, Narcissa arches an eyebrow in greeting. "It reminds me of my youth," she says, looking into the middle distance over her drink. "So many people in one house who alll... Clash."

"No offence," Harry says, reaching into a cupboard and pulling out a can of pop, "But I didn't realize it was going to turn into battle of the housewives."

Letting out a dry, tired laugh, Narcissa says, "No, Harry, nor did I." Harry flicks the tab on the drink, stepping back into the dining hall: Lucius is setting various silver crockery on display in a glass cabinet. Beside him, Sirius shakes his head, as if Lucius should be just throwing goblin-made silver out of the windows.

Narcissa and Lucius had settled in Grimmauld Place last year, and by the time Dumbledore had decided the house should act as a headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, they'd carved out enough of the house to have a bedroom for themselves, and another for Draco. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the house is extremely hostile, wrought with Boggarts, disturbingly large Puffeskeins, Doxies, and various other household pets. Even with the Malfoys and their three house elves working on the house, with the added help of Mrs Weasley, they're making slow progress.

Especially given that Lucius refuses to throw even the bloodiest of furniture out, lest they be losing some family heirloom.

"Is Bill here yet?" Harry ask, patting Sirius' shoulder to get his attention, and Sirius shakes his head.

"He's coming in this afternoon," he answers, and Lucius glances back.

"Which one is that?"

"The cursebreaker with the long hair," Harry supplies. Lucius' face is momentarily blank, and then he gives a nod of his head. "Do you want me to do anything?"

"Go help Molly," Lucius advises, and Harry raises an eyebrow, glancing at Sirius.

"Apparently, it's too difficult to keep track of each other if they lose last names, so they're on first name terms for the sake of efficiency," Sirius explains, and Harry sniggers, heading out into the hall.

"Mrs Black, please," Harry says. "Can't you calm down?"

"TRAITORS!" she screeches loudly. "MUDBLOODS, BLOOD TRAITORS, SCUM!"

"Silencio!" Hermione says, sweeping her wand forwards, but it makes no difference - it doesn't even lower the portrait's immense volume, and Harry shakes his head, gesturing for Hermione to follow him up the stairs. "Surely something will work. Has anyone tried Langlock?" Harry stops, thoughtful.

"No, actually," he says, leaning over the bannister with his can in hand. "Try it."

"Langlock!" Hermione casts, and Ms Black lets out a loud, choking sound, coughing. Hermione and Harry share a grin, and they make their way up the stairs and into the room with the armoire Mrs Weasley is currently de-doxying. She sprays them heavily, dropping three of them in a big, black bucket, and Harry grabs at a fourth, dropping it inside too.

"You oughtn't be using magic, you know, Hermione, dear," Molly says worriedly as she passes Hermione the bottle of doxycide and letting her take over.

"We're under the Fidelius Charm, Mrs Weasley," Harry says, putting his arm over his mouth and casting a mumbled Incendio as the doxy nest in the bottom of the armoire. Hermione the doxycide as the nest burns itself up, and Harry sets his can aside, helping her pick up the last of the doxies. "The Trace isn't going to work."

"You know very well that that isn't the point," she says sternly. "It's dangerous."

"We're not doing anything complicated, Mrs Weasley, or doing any new magic," Hermione assures her. "We'll only use the spells we already know the entire summer, I promise."

When Mrs Weasley bends over to Vanish the ashes in the wardrobe, Harry looks at Hermione and mouths, "Liar." Hermione puts her finger over her lips, grabbing at his can of cola and taking a sip. "Oi! I had to herd Draco and Ron around Tesco for an hour to get hold of that!" Hermione laughs, passing it back. "Just because your parents can't stop you..."

"Why would her parents stop her?" Mrs Weasley asks.

"There's a lot of sugar in it," Hermione explains. "It rots your teeth if you drink too much too often." Mrs Weasley gives the can a casual glance.

"Bit like an Acid Pop, then," she says uncaringly, and she picks up her bucket of frozen doxies and carries them down the stairs. Harry and Hermione push the armoire back against the wall, and Harry grabs some polish and a rag to start working on it. The armoire is made of teak but painted in varnished black, and now that it's not full of biting fairies, it's not so bad to look at.

They settle into conversation as they work on the armoire, bringing the varnished wood back to its usual shine.

"How did the Dursleys go?" Hermione asks.

"Perfectly," Harry says. "Though I think my old babysitter might have been a witch. How was this morning?"

"Ron wants us to come to the World Cup," Hermione answers, and Harry groans. Much as Harry loves Quidditch, he'd been put off at the idea of attending the World Cup this summer - there are going to be a ridiculous number of people, and with both Death Eaters and Lockhart's crew of idiots doing their best to wreak havoc across the country, he doesn't want to be in a tent when he can be here. "Given that it's the Weasley lads and Ginny, and then Sirius, Draco and Mr Malfoy, he wants us to come to bridge the gap."

"Bridge the gap?" Harry repeats.

"I know," Hermione says, shaking her head. "Sirius will pretend to be protecting the Malfoys the whole time as he enjoys himself, and the Weasleys can just continue as normal. I think he just wants someone to buddy up with - Ginny and the twins tend to stay together, and you know that Draco will stay with his father the whole time." Harry sighs.

"Suppose we could send Kreacher." Hermione frowns at him.

"Don't be nasty, Harry. It's not Kreacher's fault he's- you know. The way he is."

"I could say the same about Draco, Hermione." Hermione groans, and Harry laughs to himself. "But-"

"Kreacher is to alert the Mudblood and the blood traitor that they are wanted in the dining room," creaks an old voice from the doorway, and Harry turns to look at him. Kreacher stares at the both of them with his huge, watery eyes and his utterly hateful expression.

"What have I told you about using that word, Kreacher? Get out of my sight!" Harry snaps, and Kreacher disappears with a quiet pop. "You still feel sorry for him, Hermione?"

"Uh, yes, Harry," Hermione says, dropping the rag aside and following him down the stairs. "He's still a slave." Harry sighs.

"If I could free him without him going off to die, Hermione, I would." Harry raises his eyebrows as they step into Grimmauld Place's dining room. The table is all set, but none of the food looks like Mrs Weasley's - there are numerous small plates layered over the table, containing everything from pastries to soups to chips. Harry and Hermione stare mutely, taking seats across from each other, and the Weasleys children do much the same when they re-enter the room.

"Bloody hell," Ron says. "Did you do this, Mum?"

"I did, actually." Lucius's hair is neatly tied behind his back, and his sleeves are rolled up to the elbow - Harry doesn't miss the bandage tied over his left arm, hiding the Dark Mark there. "I do hope that won't be an issue, Mr Weasley?"

Sirius drops himself into a seat next to Harry, reaching for a small, square pie. "Eat this," he advises. "It's good." Narcissa and Lucius join them at the table, Draco sitting across from his mother, and when Mrs Weasley joins them Harry can tell she's trying hard not to show her enjoyment.

"Did you learn to cook at one of your restaurants, Lucius?" Harry asks, and the older man nods his head, wiping his mouth delicately.

"My grandmother taught me, for the most part, and then my uncles. Goodness knows Narcissa could do with similar tutelage."

"I can cook perfectly well, thank you, Lucius."

"Have you or have you not, my darling, previously managed to set bacon alight?" Harry laughs, and Narcissa tosses her hair.

"At least I, dearheart, have never injured myself with my own Conjunctivitus Jinx." Harry and Draco settle into conversation with them, asking questions about one thing or another - it doesn't take long for Fred, George and Hermione to join in, but Harry can see the other Weasleys are a little unsure how to react.

"Don't you think it's a little bit weird?" Ron asks in a whisper to Harry as they walk up the stairs together. "They keep acting- you know. Normal."

"What did you think they were going to be like?" Harry asks, pushing open the door to his bedroom and stepping inside, inviting Ron to sit down in his armchair. For the summer, Sirius had moved Harry's furniture over to Grimmauld Place, doing the same with his own bedroom, and Harry is glad to have his own room.

"I dunno," Ron says with a shrug, kicking the door closed. "They're just so- they're horrible people, right? They're just so smarmy. But they just tease and that, like- like-"

"Like they're human beings?" Harry asks, and Ron lets out a frustrated noise, sprawling in Harry's chair. "They're trying quite hard to be nice, honestly. They're even on first name terms with your parents."

"That just makes it worse," Ron says, shaking his head. "And then Malfoy- why does he get his own room?"

"Because Death Eaters stole his home," Harry answers simply, and Ron goes slightly red, shifting in his seat. He looks uncomfortable enough staying here without thinking about the Malfoys - the Weasleys are in Grimmauld Place for the summer while Dumbledore strengthens the wards around the Burrow and makes sure it's safe - so Harry says, "Why don't we play a game of chess?"

"You're crap at chess, Harry," Ron points out.

"I can practise," Harry says, and he grabs his board from the shelf. "You looking forward to the Cup?"

"Yeah, definitely. You sure you're not going to come?"

"Nah," Harry says, shaking his head. "Maybe next time." Harry is just about to move his pawn when there's a loud crash from downstairs, and Harry drops the game, throwing open his bedroom door.

At the top of the staircase, though, he skids to a stop, and he grins. "Hey!" he yells brightly, and runs excitedly down the stairs to greet Grimmauld Place's new visitors.

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