Harry Potter and the Return of the Heirs
By J.C. Vascardi

Disclaimer: All characters and places featured in this story which relate to Harry Potter are the property of J.K. Rowling, various publishers, and Warner Brothers. No money is being made on this story and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. The only things about this story that I own are the storylines, places, and characters which are not featured in the books.

Rating: This chapter, probably PG-13. However, this story will contain slash and it is entirely possible that future chapters may end up being rated R or even NC-17. So, don't say that you weren't warned.

Spoilers: Not many in this chapter, but there is the potential for spoilers from Stone, Chamber, Azkaban, Goblet, and Phoenix.

Author's Note: This story takes place during Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts. I will be trying to follow the Order of the Phoenix canon as much as possible. I may however deviate from the canon occasionally if the story I am trying to tell would be better served by doing so. Now, I would also like to say that I am an American, so while I will try to use some of the British terminology that I'm familiar with to make this story more real, there will likely be instances when the characters may sound a little more American then they would otherwise. For those of you who care about such things, I apologize in advance.

Feedback is very much appreciated. I know some people who don't understand why feedback is so important to authors like myself, but I truly enjoy hearing from my readers because it is really the only profit I make for writing the story. I took the time out of my rather hectic life to write the story, so even if it's only a very short note, I would love to receive as much feedback as I can. I am always open to any suggestions that my readers may have and if I like the suggestion, then I will try to incorporate it into the story. Even if you don't like the story, please feel free to let me know the reasons why so that I can endeavor to improve both my writing and the story. You can contact me by e-mail at JCVascardi@yahoo.com.

Chapter Two

Ryan woke up in a very large bed and, for a moment, like every morning in the two weeks since his grandmother's passing, he couldn't figure out where he was. After a moment of thought, however, he realized that he was back in his old room at Cromwell Hall in Yorkshire, where he had spent the first ten years of his life. Ryan's mother had died giving birth to him and he'd always assumed that his father was dead as well, since he was raised by his grandparents. His grandmother had never actually said that his father was dead and, unlike his mother, whose grave he'd visited several times, he had no actual proof that he was dead, but he just assumed that if his father were alive, he'd be around. Not that being raised by his grandparents had been bad or anything, because both of his grandparents had always been very kind.

Still, Ryan did have many unanswered questions about his father. He wondered, for example, why his surname was Cromwell, which was his mother Alexandra's maiden name, rather than his father's name. Lucinda, however, had never been very forthcoming about information pertaining to family history. Whenever asked about it, she'd immediately change the subject, as if there was some deep, dark family secret that she didn't want to come to light. He'd tried asking his cousin Matt's parents, Charles and Katrina Dashwood Cromwell, but they didn't know anymore about it than he did, or at least that's what they claimed. Matt's mother suffered a stroke and died last year, so now with his grandmother dead, it was just Matt, Charles, Ryan, and the house-elves in the large manor, or at least that's what Ryan thought.

On his way down to the kitchen for breakfast, Ryan stopped dead in his tracks outside the large and ornate double doors that led into Matt's bedroom. Pressing his ear against the door for a moment, Ryan heard the distinct sounds of mattress springs squeaking and a headboard hitting the wall, as well as low moaning sounds. It was quite obvious that Matt had a friend over as he was sure that Matt couldn't be making those noises all by himself. It was then that Ryan decided to do a little digging and see if he could find out who Matt's friend was, since he'd never mentioned anything about being in a serious relationship with anyone.

Not wanting to risk getting caught listening to his cousin having sex with someone, Ryan quickly backed away from the door and headed down the manor's rear stairs, which led directly downstairs to the kitchen. As soon as he arrived, one of the house-elves stepped forward and asked, "How can Barin help you, Master Ryan?"

"I came down for breakfast."

"Of course," Barin said. "Just tell Barin what you'd like."

"Hot tea and some toast will be fine."

"Yes, Master Ryan. Just sit out in the dining room. It will be out soon."

Ryan did as he was told and went out through the swinging door to the small and informal dining room that he remembered was only used by the immediate Cromwell family. Whenever they hosted dinner parties at the manor they used the Grand Ballroom for dinner. Having been married to a Muggle, Ryan's Uncle Charles was rather keen on Muggle inventions and technology, so he had the floor in the ballroom changed so that with the press of a button it would open up and a large mahogany dining table with enough matching chairs to seat about three hundred people would rise out of the floor. After dinner, the table would be lowered so that everyone could dance.

After a few minutes, Barin came out of the kitchen, levitating a large silver tray behind him. After it was levitated up to the table, Ryan could see a plate of toast, a silver tea service, a cup and a saucer, and a few small dishes of various fruit preserves. Barin bowed and then asked, "Does Master Ryan need anything else?"

"Well, I do have a few questions."

"Yes, Master Ryan. Barin will answer."

"First off, where is my uncle?" Ryan asked.

"Master Charles left for work an hour ago," Barin replied.

"Okay," Ryan said with a nod and then asked, "Do you know when my cousin will be down?."

"Master Matthew and his friend eat breakfast in bed," Barin answered. "Oh, Barin wasn't supposed to say that. Eep! Barin is in so much trouble."

"Calm down. It'll be okay," Ryan said in an attempt to calm the now hysterical house-elf.

"No, Barin is in much trouble," the elf repeated. "Master Matthew say house-elves not supposed to talk about that. Barin is in trouble. Bad Barin! Bad!"

"I'm family though," Ryan said. "Aren't you supposed to do as I ask?"

"Um, yes." The elf nodded and Ryan could see that the elf desperately wanted to punish itself, but it didn't because Ryan distinctly remembered his grandmother telling him that she had long time ago forbidden the house-elves to punish themselves. "But not this. No, no, not this. Master Matthew insisted. Threatened Barin and other elves, sir. Said he'd give us clothes if we told!"

"Ah, I see," Ryan said. "Okay, well, I'll just ask my cousin then, Barin, and don't worry, I'll make sure that Matt doesn't give you clothes for revealing what you have. I've always been told that I can be very persuasive. Anyway, Matt and I have always been close, so I'm sure I can convince him not to punish you."

"You is most kind Master Ryan," Barin said as he bowed again before disappearing from the room with a loud pop.

'Hmm, if I can't get the information out of the house-elves,' Ryan thought, 'I guess I'll just need to try the sneakier approach.'

A few more minutes later, Ryan had finished his breakfast and was headed back upstairs to his bedroom.

Draco's Journal - August 22, 1996

Well, another day in paradise has dawned. I'm loving every minute of being in Martinique, but I'm also well aware that each passing minute brings me that much closer to having to return to Malfoy Manor. Thankfully, school will be starting soon and I won't have to deal with Father very much. It's probably too much to ask that he not get back from his business trip until after I've gone off to school.

I do worry about my mother though. Based on how Father treats me when Mother isn't around, I'm not sure I even want to imagine how he treats her when I'm not around. When I'm around he treats her civilly enough, but I just can't help but wonder what happens when I'm not. I mean, when Mother isn't around, Father is always mad at me it seems. Sometimes I think that if he hadn't been expected to provide an heir for the Malfoy fortune, he never would have had children to begin with. Gods know he certainly isn't a model father. In fact, I'm sure he must be the furthest thing from it. At least I certainly hope he is.

Lucius is the only father I've ever known, so I would hope that there actually are fathers out there who are not as cruel as he is. I've never told Mother anything about how he treats me when she isn't around, because I fear for her safety. I know that she'd probably be furious with him and would confront him. I'm afraid that whatever civility he shows her when I'm around would be gone the second she dared to contradict him or fight him on something, even if I was in the room.

I'm so happy that I bought this journal. It had been an impulse purchase last fall when I was at Flourish and Blotts for my schoolbooks. When I got back home, I thought I was probably stupid to buy it, but after I started writing in it, I quickly realized that it was pretty helpful. Being an only child, I don't have a brother or a sister I can turn to. I certainly can't turn to my father about anything even slightly related to emotions, as he'd accuse me of being weak and punish me somehow. I can talk to Mother about some things, but as I said above, I fear for her safety if I told her everything.

As for friends, I suppose the closest thing to friends I have would be my fellow sixth-year Slytherins, Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass. We're rather friendly with one another. Well, rather friendly with Daphne, perhaps. I've slept with Blaise though, so I suppose rather friendly would be an understatement. Blaise and I certainly aren't a couple, but we did use one another to figure out that we were gay and now we continue to have occasional flings to satisfy our raging teenage hormones. So, while I wouldn't go as far as saying that Blaise and Daphne are friends, we at least have an understanding with one another. I just don't think I'm ready to start divulging all of my personal thoughts to them though, so this journal is really helping me to sort things out.

Well, looking at the clock, it's time I stop writing now. I have to go take a shower and get dressed so that I can meet Mother for breakfast.

Harry was in the sitting room of Grimmauld Place, reading a book that Remus had bought him for his birthday. It was entitled '101 Useful Spells to Embarrass Your Friends and Get Revenge on Your Enemies.' Hermione and Ron were sitting on the sofa across from him, wrapped up in each other's arms. The two of them had finally gotten together and Harry couldn't help but be happy for them, yet at the same time, he also felt like a bit of a third wheel now. Harry was so engrossed in reading that he hadn't heard Hermione talking to him until she tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention.

"You know Harry," Hermione said, "it's really good to see you so engrossed in a book for once. Although, I'm sure there are much more interesting things you could be reading than a book of spells meant to embarrass people and get revenge."

"Worried I might use one of them on you?" Harry asked in a playful tone of voice, the grin on his face clearly stating he would never do it.

Hermione just laughed and then said, "Oh, fine, Harry. I suppose reading something is better than nothing at all. If you ever get tired of reading such things though and want to read something with a bit more substance, let me know. I'm sure I can recommend some good books."

"Harry is reading a good book," Ron said, "especially if he intends to use one of those spells on that insufferable git Malfoy."

"Ronald Weasley!" Hermione said in a pretty fair imitation of Molly Weasley.


"You're a prefect!"

"Um, Hermione, I hate to break it to you," Ron said, "but we aren't at Hogwarts and the school year hasn't started yet."

Before Hermione could say anything else however, Remus Lupin walked into the room, followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the Weasley clan.

"What are you all doing here?" Ron asked when he saw Fred, George, Bill, Charlie, Percy, and Ginny entering the room behind their parents.

Percy, despite his horrid behavior the previous year, had at that point been accepted back into the family. After Lord Voldemort had been spotted in person at the Ministry of Magic by Cornelius Fudge and over a dozen Aurors, Percy really had no choice but to admit that he'd been a stupid fool for acting the way he had been for the last two years and had finally come to realize that family was very important. It pained him to know that he had caused the rift by taking the Ministry's side instead of his family's, who were right all along. After it ate him up inside for several days, he forced himself to go crawling back to his family and beg for forgiveness. Luckily for him, his parents welcomed him home with open arms. If he wanted to be truly honest with himself, he didn't know how much his family meant to him until after he lost them.

In Molly and Arthur's minds, while they had both been deeply hurt by Percy's words and actions, he was still their son and they loved him no matter what. So when he apologized and asked for their forgiveness, they gave it freely. Charlie had also forgiven him rather quickly, as the two of them were the second and third eldest, and despite some personality differences and other clashes over the years, they were still pretty close growing up. It took Fred and George a bit longer to forgive him, and Percy had been on the receiving end of more then a few humiliating practical jokes, although he didn't complain because he knew he deserved that and more for the way he'd acted.

Bill, Ron, and Ginny were the real holdouts, as they had been extremely angry about the way Percy had acted, especially after the letter that Percy had written to Ron insulting Harry. Eventually though, after he had apologized to the three of them profusely and also apologized to Harry for saying what he had in that letter, Bill, Ron, and Ginny forgave him. He was family after all, and if there were two things that had been drilled into all of the Weasley children growing up, it was the importance of family and also the importance of forgiveness. Percy had been led astray, but now he honestly seemed to acknowledge that he was wrong and neither Bill, Ron, nor Ginny could find it in themselves to hold a grudge.

"Honestly, I have no idea Ron," Bill said as he sat down next to Harry and flashed him a discreet smile. "All I know is that I got an owl from Professor Dumbledore telling me that my presence was required at Headquarters this morning, although he never said why exactly."

"Same here," said the twins in perfect unison as they sat down on the floor near the fireplace.

"Well, then it seems none of us really know," Percy said finally after Remus, Charlie, Ginny, and his parents had all acknowledged they had gotten the same notice from Dumbledore. "I'm sure Professor Dumbledore must have a reason for calling us all together."

"Right you are, Percy my boy," Dumbledore said as he appeared in the doorway, his eyes seemingly lacking some of their usual twinkle. "If you will all please have a seat, I'll get down to business."

"Albus, if this is Order business, then I really think it best the children leave the room," Molly said as Dumbledore took the only remaining seat in the room: a large armchair in front of the fireplace from which he could easily see everyone.

"This isn't Order business," Dumbledore said. "It is potentially upsetting however, but I fear that we must get this over with. I've called you all here tonight to discuss Sirius Black, or, more specifically, his last will and testament."

Silence filled the room for several minutes before Harry finally found his voice and asked, "Why are we doing this now?"

"Well, Harry, I've been fighting with the Ministry for the last month," Dumbledore answered. "Sirius' estate has been ready for division under the terms of his will since the beginning of the month, but the Ministry has been doing everything they could to block it from happening. Unfortunately, Peter Pettigrew remains at large, so Cornelius is still refusing to believe that Sirius was innocent of the crimes he'd been accused of in life. I think we all know how difficult Minister Fudge can be, correct?"

Dumbledore didn't wait for any response to his question before continuing, "So, at any rate, in the eyes of the Ministry, Sirius is still a convicted felon, regardless of the fact that he fell through the veil while fighting Death Eaters. So, as a convicted felon, the Ministry believed his estate to be property which they could seize for themselves. As Sirius named me the executor of his will, I've been doing everything in my power to convince them that they should just allow his estate to be divided as he wished. In the end, and I am ashamed to admit it, but I had to resort to a more underhanded approach to get Cornelius to agree."

"You blackmailed the Minister of Magic?" Arthur asked, totally incredulous. While it was true that Cornelius Fudge was a total wimp of a man who should never have become Minister, the fact remained that he was still Minister of Magic, and it took quite a bit of nerve for Dumbledore to blackmail him.

"Well, Arthur, blackmail is such a strong word," Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling a bit more than they had been. "I merely pointed out to Cornelius that it wouldn't look good for him or his re-election chances if it had reached the Daily Prophet that he had denied St. Mungo's and Hogwarts very generous bequests, not to mention the bequest that sets aside a large amount of galleons and land for the creation of a home for wizarding orphans."

"That's almost Slytherin of you, Albus," Remus said with an amused grin on his face.

"Well, as I said, I'm ashamed to admit it," Dumbledore said. "Although, it worked in the end, nonetheless."

"So, why did you need to see all of us?" Molly asked after a few moments of silence.

"Well, in addition to what he left to charity," Dumbledore said, "Sirius also left a bequest to everyone in this room. Don't look so shocked, Arthur. Sirius really did like you and you are distant cousins after all, so he thought that it was only right that he include you in his will. He also left a bequest to Tonks, but she is off on an important mission for the Order and couldn't be here tonight."

Pulling out a large scroll of parchment that must have been Sirius' will, Dumbledore read though it and began to summarize the contents.

Upon arriving back upstairs in his bedroom, Ryan walked over to his trunk, opened it, and removed his invisibility cloak from it. The cloak had belonged to his grandmother before she died. She had always used it in her work as an Auror, but over the summers when Ryan wasn't allowed to do magic, she'd always loaned it to him. She'd also given him a small volume on invisibility spells to use while he was in school, as she would then need her cloak back.

'Well, she has no need for it now,' Ryan thought a bit sadly as he wrapped the cloak around himself and walked over to the fireplace of his bedroom. Having lived in Cromwell Hall for ten years, Ryan knew all of its secrets, including the numerous hidden passageways. Reaching a hand under the mantle, Ryan triggered a small button which caused the wall to the left of the fireplace to swing open. Ducking into the hidden passage, Ryan made his way down the cramped space to where he knew the entrance to Matt's bedroom was.

'Better make sure it's all clear,' Ryan thought as he pulled a small silver chain, which caused two small circular holes to open in the wall. The holes actually allowed a person in the passageway to look into the room through the eyes of the portrait hanging above the fireplace. Since Matt's mother had been a Muggle, most of the portraits were all normal Muggle portraits that didn't move. The only rooms in the house that had wizard portraits were Charles' study, the library, and a large gallery on the third floor. Ryan looked through the small holes and saw that the room appeared to be empty. He did however notice that the bathroom door was closed and that light and steam were coming from underneath it.

Pulling the chain to return the portrait to normal, Ryan pushed the button to open the panel into Matt's room and stepped in, quickly closing the panel behind him. Crossing the room, the sound of the shower running was obvious as well as the fact that the house-elves had not been up yet to clean the room, as the bed was turned down on both sides, the sheets were very rumpled, and a breakfast tray with two of everything except food on it laid abandoned at the foot of the bed.

The shower water soon turned off and, after a moment, a tall and slender young man who must have been about the same age as Matt walked out of the bathroom clad only in a white bath towel. His hair was damp and was clinging to his forehead, but it was obviously a light brownish blond color when dry.

Ryan watched the young man getting dressed for a few moments, thoroughly enjoying the sight before his eyes. Ryan couldn't help but think that while he was unaware of the fact that his cousin liked guys, he certainly did have good taste. And that's when it happened. Something which Ryan wished hadn't and he tried to stop it, but failed. Ryan sneezed.

The young man's eyes quickly looked around the room and seeing nobody there he asked, "Who's there?"

Harry's Journal - August 22, 1996

I'm still in a state of shock, as I'm sure many people in this house are. I invited all of the Weasleys to spend the night here tonight, seeing as Grimmauld Place was part of my inheritance from Sirius. I don't know what I had really been expecting, but I honestly didn't realize that Sirius was as well off as he was. I thought that since his mother had blasted him off the Black family tree, he wouldn't inherit all of the family holdings. As it would turn out though, Wizarding law favors the male heir when determining who gets what when the deceased doesn't have a will. Sirius' parents got the notion into their heads that wills were Muggle documents and hence refused to have them drafted. So, without wills to dictate who got what, Sirius inherited the majority of the Black holdings since he was the last remaining male heir at the time of his parents' deaths.

First there were the charitable donations:

1. Five million galleons to St. Mungo's Hospital
2. Five million galleons to Hogwarts for the creation of the James and Lily Potter Memorial Scholarship
3. Five million galleons and twenty acres of land near Ottery St. Catchpole for the establishment of the James and Lily Potter Home for Wizarding Orphans

The scholarship and orphanage really struck a cord with me since Sirius wanted them to be named for my parents. A scholarship fund for Hogwarts is a great idea because it is a boarding school and I'm sure there are students who might not be able to attend simply due to the fact that their families can't afford the tuition. The orphanage is also a good idea because, being for wizarding orphans, the children will at least be around other magical children growing up. Sirius wanted Mrs. Weasley and Lupin to get the orphanage up and running. At least with them in control, no wizarding orphan will be turned away because of their parentage.

Sirius also left bequests of a million galleons each to Hermione, Dumbledore, all of the Weasleys, and Tonks. I was especially happy about the Weasleys getting some money because I know how much Ron has always hated the fact that his family is so poor. Sirius also put Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, and George in control of a trust fund worth ten million galleons, intended for their children so that future generations of the Weasley family would have no problems with money. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were also given control of the trust in Ron and Ginny's names, until such time they reach adulthood.

Sirius left ten million galleons to Lupin, and the rest of the estate, which consisted of fifteen million galleons, Grimmauld Place, and all of the other Black family holdings, was left to me. Until I reach my age of majority, Lupin is also in charge of a three million galleon trust fund meant for my first-born child. Of course, Sirius died before I had really accepted it, so he had no way of knowing that I'm gay and will likely never have a child. Of course, that's assuming that Voldemort doesn't kill me before I'm even old enough to consider having a family.

Thinking back on my limited experiences in the romance department, I realized a while ago that I was gay. I mean, things certainly never worked well with Cho, that's for sure. The kiss we shared had to be the most awkward thing I've ever experienced in my life. At the time I just assumed it was because it was my first kiss and I was nervous. In hindsight, I know for a fact that it wasn't nervousness. It's funny, isn't it; how hindsight always seems to be one hundred percent crystal clear? You don't know what the hell you're doing at the time, but months or even years later you look back on it and suddenly you understand what was going on and you have insights into it which could have totally changed the outcome of those events, if only you'd had them at the time.

Anyway, I've realized that nervousness may have played a small part, but it certainly wasn't the reason that the kiss went as badly as it did. On Cho's part, I think she would much rather have been kissing Cedric, and I've come to realize that I would much rather have been kissing a guy. I think the whole reason I ever started going out with Cho in the first place was because somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I was gay and I was determined not to admit it, so I managed to convince myself that I wanted Cho.

Part of my wanting to be with Cho was probably also due to the guilt I've always felt over Cedric's death. Voldemort's fight was with me and Cedric was just an innocent bystander who ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. People have told me many times that what happened was not my fault, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to believe that. I think some part of me will always believe that I'm to blame for Cedric's death. The only way I think I would ever stop blaming myself is if Cedric told me himself that he didn't blame me and of course that is not going to happen. After all, magic can do a lot of cool things, but one thing it cannot do is bring back the dead.

"I said, 'Who's there?'" the young man asked a second time as he grabbed his wand from the bedside table and held it up, ready to defend himself if necessary.

Ryan sighed and then said, "No need to be alarmed," as he removed the cloak.

"Who are you?"

"I could ask you the same question."

"I asked you first."

"I'm Ryan Cromwell."

"Oh, Ryan," the man said as he lowered his wand. "You're Matt's cousin from the States, right? My condolences on your grandmother."

"Yes, I'm Matt's cousin and thanks," Ryan said. "Are you going to tell me who you are? It would be nice to know who I'm thanking."

"Oh, sorry," the man said. "Name's Wood, Oliver Wood."

"A pleasure to meet you Oliver," Ryan said as he held out his hand and Oliver shook it. "You look rather familiar. You play professional Quidditch, don't you?"

"Yes," Oliver said, instantly lighting up at the mention of Quidditch, "I'm the reserve keeper for Puddlemere United. I only play when the normal keeper gets sick or injured and can't play, but I love it nonetheless."

"I knew I'd seen you somewhere before," Ryan said. "Must have been in a Quidditch magazine. Having been born here, I still followed the British Quidditch circuit despite living in the States. I have subscriptions to a few of the British magazines and must have seen an article about your signing."

"What's your favorite team?"

"It's a tie between the Magpies and Puddlemere actually," Ryan said. "My grandfather was a Puddlemere fan and grandmother was for the Magpies, so they raised me to like both."

Oliver nodded and then asked, "How long were you standing there under that cloak?"

Ryan just grinned and then said, "Long enough to know that my cousin has extremely good taste for having himself such a gorgeous and well-endowed boyfriend."

Oliver blushed several shades of red at the comment and then asked, "How do you know I'm Matt's boyfriend?"

"Oh please, Oliver," Ryan said. "It doesn't take much to figure it out. I mean, we are in Matt's bedroom and you were showering in his bathroom. The bed is turned down on both sides, the sheets are rumpled, and it's obvious that two people ate breakfast in bed this morning. Of course, the clincher is that I heard the two of you on my way down to breakfast this morning."

"You heard us?"

"Yes, I did," Ryan said still grinning. "You might want to think about a silencing charm next time you two go at it."

Blushing a shade of red comparable to a Weasley's hair, Oliver then said, "Okay, can we change the subject now?"

"Sure," Ryan said, "though I must admit you are quite cute when you blush. I haven't known you that long, but I can certainly see why Matt likes you so much. How long have you been together anyway?"

"Since our fourth year at Hogwarts," Oliver said as his cheeks began returning to normal. "So, almost seven years."

"Wow," Ryan said. "Seven years and Matt has never once mentioned having a boyfriend."

"We've been keeping it a secret."


"Well, mostly because of Matt's mom," Oliver said. "While the wizarding world has no problem with same-sex relationships, it isn't the same in the Muggle world and Matt's mom would have been furious if she'd found out Matt was gay, so we didn't tell anyone. We got so used to keeping it a secret that we kept it up after Matt's mom died."

"Surely my Uncle Charles knows at least?" Ryan said. "I can't imagine you two going at it in his house and him not knowing about it."

"No, he doesn't," Oliver said. "I maintain my own flat. Charles leaves early every morning for work, so I come over after he leaves and then Matt and I have breakfast and well, other things that you already know about."

"Yes, I do," Ryan said as Oliver started to blush a bit again and Ryan just chuckled.

Draco's Journal - August 23, 1996

Well, after two weeks of tropical paradise, I'm back at Malfoy Manor and its oppressive gloom. The manor is as immaculate and luxurious as it always has been, but over the last few years, my opinion of the manor has changed. I used to think that I was so lucky to be living in a house like Malfoy Manor and I couldn't wait until the day that I could take over as Lord of the Manor. As I get closer to adulthood though, the thought of raising a family in this place does not appeal to me. Perhaps it's all of the memories of Lucius everywhere or the memories of all the summer afternoons that I spent as a child locked away indoors studying things that a child had no business knowing when all I really wanted to do was go outside and play.

Of course, playing is something that I was never allowed to do. When I was a child, Lucius told me that playing and having fun were a waste of time and there were much better things I could be doing with my time. So, instead of having fun, I spent hour after hour sitting in my father's study listening to him preaching about Muggles, Half-Bloods, and Mudbloods—telling me why I should hate them and why I should join Voldemort in his glorious crusade to cleanse the world of their filth.

He said that all the wizards and witches who had decided to marry outside of all-magic families and marry a Muggle were forcing the entire Wizarding World into weakness and extinction by destroying the purity of magic blood. I know that many of the older pureblood families think that to mix magic blood with non-magic blood will weaken the magic blood, thus making the resulting child a less powerful wizard or witch. Only problem is that few people seem to realize that magic blood is very hard to kill off entirely. I mean, how else could Muggle-born witches and wizards exist? If you go far enough back in the family trees of a Muggle-born you'll find that they were descended from magical people. So, personally, I think magic is not in the blood but in the genes, which can then be dominant or recessive when passed onto the next generation. That theory would also explain the existence of squibs.

Of course, I never shared any of this research with Lucius, as he would be apt to do several things. One would be to tell me that I'm wrong, two would be to present a bunch of fancy words and explanations to try and falsify the research, and third, place me under the Cruciatus Curse as punishment for daring to even question what he had been teaching me. If it wasn't for my mother's love, I don't know how I would ever have survived as long as I have. Without her, I think I would have either been a cold and totally unfeeling jackass like Lucius or I simply would have been dead by now.

Well, at any rate, I can be thankful that Hogwarts starts soon and I can get out of this house. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough for Lucius not to arrive home from his business trip until after I've left for school. That's probably asking for too much, but one can hope, right? Oh well, one of the house-elves just came to tell me that Blaise has arrived. I'm sure he told my mother that he just wanted to welcome me home and ask how the trip was, but knowing him as well as I do, I'm sure he has other reasons for coming as well; reasons which will have us naked in my bed before he leaves. Not that I'm complaining or anything.

The next day, after Matt found out that Ryan knew about his orientation and Oliver, Matt was chatting with Ryan in the drawing room.

"So you're really okay with it?"

"For the millionth time, Matt, yes," Ryan said exasperatedly. "Oliver is a nice guy, and he obviously makes you happy."

"You're really, really okay with it?"

"Matthew William Cromwell, will you just shut up?" Ryan said as he held up his hand to show two of his fingers about an inch apart. "I am this close to breaking the Restriction for the Use of Underage Wizardry and casting a silencing charm on you, so shut up already! I am one hundred percent totally okay with your relationship with Oliver. I don't know why you keep wondering if I'm okay with it. I mean, you know the wizarding world doesn't care about things like that. Anyway, I'd be a hypocrite if I had a problem with you being gay, since I'm gay myself."

"You're gay?"

"Is there an echo in here?" Ryan asked. "Yes, Matt, I'm gay. Single, but definitely gay."

"Well, maybe you'll get lucky and meet someone nice at Hogwarts," Matt said with a smile. "I know I did."

"I'm not going to hold my breath," Ryan said, "but if the possibility presents itself, I certainly won't say no to it. Any idea what the climate at Hogwarts is like, by the way?"

"Well, it's the Scottish highlands, so it's pretty cold."

"Matt, are you sure that you were a Ravenclaw?" Ryan asked. "I wasn't talking about the weather, you dolt. I meant, what is the gay population like at Hogwarts? As in very small or what?"

"Oh, well, things could have changed since I was there," Matt said, "but Oliver and I certainly weren't the only gay students."

"Anyone cute?"

"Well, there were Oliver's housemates, Bill and Charlie Weasley," Matt said. "I think they were both bisexual at least. Bill graduated when Oliver and I were second years and Charlie when we were fourth years."

"That's all good and all," Ryan said, "but is there anyone who would still be at Hogwarts that you know of who might be?"

"Well, there are always rumors," Matt said. "In a school as large as Hogwarts, you can barely go twenty minutes without hearing some rumor about who's dating who. Some people, namely in Slytherin, but also in other houses even run betting pools on who's dating who, who's going to date who, how long it will take certain people to get together, et cetera. During Oliver's and my seventh year, I'd say the most interesting pool I heard about would be the one involving..."

Matt stopped short of what he was going to say when his father walked into the room.

"Hello boys," Charles said with a smile.

"Hi Dad," Matt said at the same time Ryan said, "Hi Uncle."

Charles was wearing a deep blue cloak with black trim, so the fact that he was carrying Ryan's cloak wasn't immediately visible as it was hidden in the folds of his own cloak. Charles handed Ryan his cloak with a smile and said, "We're traveling to Hogwarts today, Ryan."

"Why? I thought school didn't start until September 1st?"

"Yes, it does," Charles answered, "but Headmaster Dumbledore owled me and asked me to bring you to his office today so that you can get sorted into a house. He figured you might feel a little out of place if you ended up being sorted with the first years at the arrival feast."

"Yes, that's probably true," Ryan said as he took his cloak and placed it over his shoulders. "Remind me again what exactly is involved in the sorting?"

"You just sit down and put on the Sorting Hat," Matt said. "It does the rest."

"Okay, so how are we getting to Hogwarts?"

"Well, come September 1st, I'll take you to King's Cross Station in London," Charles said, "and you'll take the Hogwarts Express to school. Today, however, I'm just going to apparate and you're going to Floo over to the village of Hogsmeade. Dumbledore said he'd have one of the school carriages waiting for us to bring us up to the school."

"Okay then," Ryan said as he walked over to the fireplace. "See ya later, Matt." Matt just nodded as Ryan took a handful of Floo powder from the vase on the mantle and then stepped into the fireplace. "Hogsmeade," Ryan said as he threw the powder down and soon disappeared in emerald green flames, shortly followed by a popping noise as Charles disapparated.

To be continued...