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Rating/Codes: Most definitely NC-17 *he he*
Pairing: Harry Potter/Severus Snape, Ron Weasley/Draco Malfoy (more at a later date)
Summary: The death of one Dark Lord brings about the rise of another. AU.
Disclaimer: Not mine, boo hoo, sob. Belongs to JKR, lucky so and so. No profit, just sheer happiness and contentment at having such lovely playthings, even if I do have to give them back. No infringement, etc, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. Oooo, look at the pretty rabbits. Damn, time for my medicine again.
NOTE: I started this as a means to stave off boredom (and rabid plot bunnies) whilst I was off work ill and it seems to have grown from a snippet into an epic!!
A/N: If you like this, fantastic. If you don't, well, o.k. then, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. However, if not, why not??
Beta: The ever wonderful Pat (aka Lillian) for pointing out spelling mistakes and making suggestion for changes where people might have become confused. Any other errors are the work of the evil spell checker. It lulls you into a sense of false security before pouncing.
Warning: slight non-con, hints of Dominance/Submission.
Dedication: To all the lovely ladies (and gentlemen) who urged me to continue this and supplied me with pointers when my muse decided to go walkabouts.
Coils of Gold
How had it come to this?
The man at the window gazed out soulfully at the illusion of freedom. Sighing, he ran the fingers of one hand through too-long hair, using the other hand to push back the curtains before leaning more fully on the sill. Fingers slid over the collar around his neck.
He firmly ignored the rustling of sheets behind him and the soft padding of footsteps.
Everything he had wanted in life he had gotten. Wealth, status, the respect of his peers. The tiny niggle that he was lonely had been firmly banished.
Then, only a short time ago, a lifetime of striving to be better than circumstances had allowed him, of becoming more than a shadow to other, more powerful or charismatic people, had come suddenly to an end and he was reduced to the role of a plaything. He closed his eyes firmly against the thought.
The arms that came around his waist caused him to stiffen, then relax. A burst of self-hate ran through him. He couldn't help the reaction, it was automatic, but that didn't stop the shiver that ran through him when lips fastened themselves to the side of his neck, just above the collar. Hands came to rest on his abdomen, stroking softly.
Bending his neck back, he allowed the other person more access and couldn't help the low moan that escaped.
He didn't resist as he was pulled across the room to the bed.
Warm fingers moved smoothly over his skin, arranging his limbs this way and that. Lips pressed here and there, leaving moist prints behind.
Hands twisting in the silk sheets the man gasped and arched as he was enveloped in a hot, wet, mouth. The caressing hands came to a rest on his hips, thumbs caressing the skin just above the bone, pressing him down firmly. Tongue and teeth came into play, making him shudder. One hand moved down his thigh, teasing the soft skin on the inside before moving upwards towards its goal.
The man groaned at the sudden loss of sensation and the feel of the other man moving away slightly in order to rifle thought the drawer of the bedside table. There was a slight pause, and then he moaned at the feel of a slick finger sliding into him. Moving slowly, it stretched him before retreating, only to return with a friend. The mouth on him never stopped moving. Fingers rubbed firmly on the pleasure spot inside of him, making him scream and lose control completely. There was a satisfied purr as the ravenous mouth made sure not to miss a drop.
The man's eyes were closed tightly, head turned to one side. He could feel the brush of hair and the caress of fingers as the figure on top of him moved slowly up. Lips stopped briefly to suckle at first one nipple then the other before moving up to nip gently at the junction of neck and shoulder.
Hands slid under his hips, raising them, the figure sliding in between his parted legs. The questing fingers withdrew, only to be replaced with something longer and harder. The feel of the other man sliding slowly into him made him bite his lip, drawing blood.
"Hush, don't hurt yourself. Here, let me make it better." A soft tongue lapped at his lips, licking away the blood, then sliding further into his mouth. An arm slid around his hips and the other locked around his shoulders, hand sliding through his hair, holding him steady.
Raising his head a scant millimetre, the other man breathed, "Look at me. Open those beautiful eyes." Eyes slowly opened, a lost look in them. "I know you feel trapped here. Held against your will, but I will never hurt you. I will never let anybody else hurt you. You're mine now. My consort. My lover. My companion."
A light kiss was laid on swollen lips. "The rules are there for your protection. I know they seem harsh but I must insist on you keeping them." Another kiss. "I know you hate this and the restrictions it places on you," one finger touched the collar around the man's neck, "and I promise it will come off. But not yet!" Kiss. "Not until you're more used to the way things are now!" Kiss.
Hips were moving slowly now, causing the man hiss with pleasure and arch up, arms and legs weaving around the other.
"So beautiful. So soft. So tight. So hot. So mine. All mine."
The words were punctuated with deep, wet, kisses, drugging the man, taking over his senses. All he could do was grab hold of the other man's head, holding him down, cutting off the words.
A loud knocking on the door woke Dumbledore up from a deep, exhausted sleep. Muttering to himself, he swore this has better be good or the person on the other side of the door would soon be on the end of a very nasty hex.
Throwing open the door, he was confronted by the sight of a frantic Sirius Black.
Dumbledore was just about able to get to a chair before collapsing in disbelief. Oh gods, could things get any worse? Shaking, he dropped his head into his hands.
Waking was a strange experience. Uncurling from around a pillow, Harry stretched luxuriously before stiffening from the sudden ache that radiated from his lower back. Frowning, he rubbed the offending area, wondering if he'd pulled a muscle.
He opened his eyes languidly, blinking away the sleep. What he saw, however, made him sit bolt upright, ignoring the aches and pains. This wasn't his room! And this definitely wasn't his bed! Deep green and black satin sheets slithered over him, echoing the colour scheme of the room itself, and he clutched them to him when he realised he was naked.
/What the hell.../
The opening door made him jump and move back, pressing against the headboard, covers held in front of him.
The sight of Severus Snape, dressed only in a loosely tied black silk bed robe, hair mussed around his face, made it all come back.
Face paling in memory, Harry clutched at the thin, gold, collar around his neck.
Closing the door behind him, Snape leaned against it, an expression of appreciation crossing his features.
Crossing the room slowly, he sat on the edge of the bed, lips quirking slightly as Harry tried to pull further away, sheets clutched even higher . "Come now, modesty doesn't become you. After all, I've already seen everything you have" he paused, smiling with pure satisfaction, "and very lovely it is too."
Seeing that Harry was bereft of words, Snape gestured "I've brought breakfast. After our…exertions…last night, you could do with it."
Not wanting to look away from the smirking figure leaning across the bottom of the bed, Harry darted a look to the, now obvious, floating tray which had followed Snape into the room.
A gesture caused the tray to settle down on the sheets in front of him.
Harry swallowed around the lump in his throat, he'd probably throw up if he attempted any of it. "I'm not hungry." This assertion was proved false by the gurgling in his stomach at the aromas wafting upwards.
"No?" Snape moved up the bed, lounging on the other side of the tray, "that says differently," he gestured to Harry's belly. "Starving yourself isn't advisable. If you won't eat willingly, we'll have to try a different method," he paused, head tilted to one side. "You know I can do whatever it takes."
Harry was reminded forcefully of the night before, and the complete and utter lack of control he had had. Snape had simply had to lay one hand on him and he had complied completely with every last whim. Shaking slightly, trying to battle the nausea, he reached across and snagged the least revolting thing on the tray. A slice of toast. He nibbled on it slowly, eyes never leaving the other man.
Snape's self-satisfied expression never changed as he sat up slowly and reached for a slice of grapefruit. It dripped down his hand as he lifted it to his mouth. Harry couldn't look away as the piece of fruit was devoured slowly, then the fingers licked one by one. Vivid memories of that mouth on his body and the things those long, slender, fingers could do coming back to him.
Snape waited until Harry had finished the slice of toast, occasionally picking various delicacies from the tray himself, before reaching to over and picking up a small bottle from the bedside table.
"Here, drink this," he said, offering the same.
Harry looked at the bottle suspiciously, "What is it?"
Snorting, Snape sat back, shaking his head in irritation, "It's not poison! Do you think I'd have gone to the trouble of getting you here, just to get rid of you!"
Harry shook his head. He knew it wasn't poison, but he didn't want to drink the potion. Even knowing what he did about Snape, Harry had realised that, if the other man had wanted to kill him, he could have done it years ago! However, he was well aware that Snape was amoral enough to try and slip him something even more sinister.
Mollified slightly, Snape went on, "It's a painkiller," he smiled slightly, "you must be quite sore by now."
Harry felt his entire skin light up with a blush, making Snape satisfied smirk even wider. He'd rather not think about that, that you very much! But needs must…
He reached over and plucked the bottle from Snape's hand, making sure not to touch his skin, before downing it in one. Blissful numbness swirled through his body, the ache disappearing completely.
"The wonderful thing about that potion is it can be taken both internally and topically," Snape began conversationally, before saying in a low voice, "but I don't think you'd be completely willing to lay back down and let me administer it to you. Not yet anyway."
Harry's blush deepened even more at the thought of Snape bent over him, rubbing the potion onto, and into, the aching areas.
"Thank you." Harry said in a small voice. It never hurt to be polite. Sometimes words were more powerful weapons than magic.
Severus waved the thanks away. "It's for both our benefits. I'm not interested in taking anybody not 100% willing and able. I want to hear you screaming with pleasure, not pain."
Harry swallowed, again, he didn't think he could get any redder if he tried. This was getting to be a habit. He wasn't comfortable with his ex Potion Master making such *suggestive* comments to him. Things made more sense when he was being downright nasty.
"Finished?" Harry nodded. "Then I think a bath is in order. Things got very…sticky…last night and I know I could do with one. Standing, Snape moved around the bed, holding out his hand for Harry to take. If anything, that made Harry try to move away even more. Though the headboard and out onto the other side of the wall would be nice!
Giving a much put upon sigh, Snape dropped his hand and moved to a nearby chair. He picked up a green silk bed robe and came back, holding it by the shoulders so that all Harry would have to do would be put his arms in it. "Is this better?"
Seeing Harry darted looks between the robe and himself, he said "I won't look! Promise!" Black eyes rolled and then closed, an expression of indulgence on his face.
Harry judged the distance to the door, however, he knew that he'd never get far. Biting his lip, he looked back at Snape. Then, making his mind up he slid out from the covers, holding them until the last second, before darting across the room and into the robe.
Arms came around him, trapping him against a hard body. Harry felt himself suddenly become pliant, melting like butter. Damn this collar. It allowed Snape to do whatever he wanted and Harry couldn't fight him at all!
Lips caressed the side of his neck, making him shiver. "There's no need to be shy. There's nobody here but you and me. You have a beautiful body, one that should be shown off." The last was said straight into his ear, teeth nipping at the lobe.
Hands tied the belt, turning him around, before sliding over his shoulders. "Don't worry though, I'm very jealous of what's mine and I wouldn't let anybody else see you like this"
Harry wondered if this was meant to be reassuring.
Taking his hand Snape led him into the bathroom.
Being washed was another unusual experience. Something which had never happened to him before. He'd always had to do it himself, even when he was a young boy. Aunt Petunia hadn't liked to touch him any more than necessary.
Now, however, other hands were all over him. Sliding, caressing, rubbing soap into a fine lather before rinsing it off gently.
Snape had led him into the bathroom. It was a large, airy, room, with a sunken bath in the middle of it. It was very decadent, with lots of black marble and gold appliances.
Still in his passive state, Harry had barely murmured as Snape had removed the robe, running his hands possessively over Harry's body, before directing him into the steaming water. He had then seemed quite content to wash the young man gently. Harry didn't think he'd ever seen that expression on Snape's face before. Sort of contemplative, the look you got when you were gazing at a piece of art.
After about ten minutes Snape had muttered to himself and swiftly disrobed, sliding into the water himself, in order to gain more access to Harry's body.
Harry was now sat in front of Snape, back to his chest, nestled between his legs, as Snape ran his hands caressingly over every inch of his body. A wet mouth was kissing his shoulder. Harry leaned his head backwards, mouth open, breathing heavily.
In between the kisses, a mellifluous voice was telling him how beautiful he was, how soft his skin was, how he felt, what his moans were doing to the man behind him. Harry was fighting a losing battle. He could feel himself sinking into that voice. Doing everything it wanted him to.
A combination of fingers caressing his nipples, a hand curling around his straining flesh and an open mouth on his was all it took to take him over the edge. The sudden orgasm was so intense, and left him so lethargic, he barely noticed as he was carried from the bathroom, back into bedroom and laid on the bed.
The hands and mouth on him made him rouse slightly but he couldn't seem to be able to scrape up the energy to open his eyes, or take any active part in what was happening. Moaning, he simply lay there, feeling long fingers gently prepare him before a hard, lean, body moved over and into him.
The long, slow, rocking made him moan and the pressure against his pleasure spot made him arch and hiss slightly. The exquisite torment only ended when the movement inside him speeded up and he felt the sudden hot sensation flooding his insides. This caused his second, more sedentary, orgasm of the morning, his insides tightening, making the man inside him groan in pleasure.
Pulled into a tight embrace, Harry tumbled down in to sleep, dreaming of the previous night and the circumstances that had changed his world.
It has happened so quickly. One minute he was standing there, minding his own business, the next minute he'd been kidnapped.
He hadn't even had the chance to fight. Hands on him, holding him down, had quickly divested him of his wand, before a muttered charm had made him lose control of the muscles in his body. Lying limply, face down on the floor, he had heard the scuffling of feet and then he was being pulled up to dangle in somebody's arms. A pulling sensation in his stomach was the only clue he had that somebody had pulled out a Portkey. The hated sensation rocked through his body, making him feel ill. Any longer and he would have thrown up. /Hmmm, that was a thought, it might distract them long enough for him to get away./
However, before he could get to that stage the whirling around him stopped. They had reached their destination.
The sudden life flowing back into his body made him lash out, causing those around him to curse and throw themselves on him. A sharp command to "Hold him down, damnit," was heard.
Wrestled onto his back Harry found himself looking up at the one person he never thought to see again.
Standing over his prone body, Severus Snape smiled down at him. The sight made him freeze. However, it was what Snape held in his hands that made Harry double his efforts to escape.
Harsh words directed at those holding him caused them to tighten their grip. Kneeling down to straddle him, Snape passed the thin gold collar around his neck. "Shush, don't worry. It's just a precaution that's all. For your safety." The collar was locked tight, words whispered over it ensuring that there was no way it could come loose.
"Bastard." Harry growled, feeling a sudden lethargy roll through him. His limbs refused to work.
A finger was placed against his lips. "None of that now."
"Go," the order was directed to the other people in the room. The hands holding him were released as the people moved away. Harry didn't even look at the door as it was shut behind them, leaving him alone with Snape.
Settling himself more fully on top of Harry, Snape let his finger move slowly over the prone man's lips, eyes narrowed pleasantly. "You have no idea how long I've waited for a chance to have you to myself, do you?" The tone was contemplative, as if he was directing the question to himself. Eyes suddenly sharpened, staring down at Harry. "Too long." He leaned down, hands on either side of Harry's head. Harry could feel the entire length of that body burning into his own. Eyes wide, he could do nothing. It must have been the shock of feeling the brush of lips against his that made his mouth open. He certainly couldn't have wanted Snape to take advantage over his mouth. The moan that came as lips moved against lips and tongue against tongue definitely didn't come from him! Did it?
What couldn't be denied was the look of supreme satisfaction on Snape's face as he lifted his head to look down at Harry.
Smirking, he rose to his feet and away, settling himself down on a nearby couch, allowing Harry to come to his senses. "You should get up, you know. It's cold on the floor."
Shakily, Harry stood and, not looking away from the man across the room, sat down gingerly on a chair. He watched the man in front of him, hands steepled, fingers resting against his lips, like a hawk.
After Voldemort's final demise at the hands of Harry, the wizarding world had become jubilant. Years of terror were over and they were more than willing to heap praise, and other more tangible items, on the heroes whose efforts had made it all happen.
Arthur Weasley had been made Minister for Magic, his entire family benefiting from the promotion. Sirius had been pardoned and had celebrated by marrying his childhood sweetheart, Remus Lupin. Hermione, Ron, Harry and Snape had all been given numerous medals and awards for their roles in winning the war. They had the world at their feet. Nothing was too good for them. Hermione and Ron had become Aurors. Snape, however, had gone back to Hogwarts. He said he had everything he wanted. Harry, wanting peace and quiet, had retired to a small village in Kent. He had more than enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. When things died down he would decide what he wanted to do.
Years had gone by, the peace and prosperity marred here and there only by one or two odd occurrences. People had shook their heads, dismissing the same, nothing could possibly harm them now. The evil that had haunted them was gone.
Then people had started disappearing.
Furtive whispers had started up, passing from person to person like lightening, growing more and more out of proportion with every telling. Old fears were coming to the fore. Rumours abounded of a new Dark Lord rising, like a phoenix, out of the ashes left behind. Suddenly it was like the former peaceful times had been but a dream, and people were waking up to a living nightmare. Suspicions were raised and people started going about their business with guarded looks. Protective magic's were being sold at an alarming rate and the Ministry was beside itself trying to find this seemingly non- existent, but still tangible, enemy.
Harry had kept up with the news, occasionally getting in contact with the Ministry to see what was happening. He really didn't want to become involved but, with every occurrence that happened, the chance that he would be left alone was becoming ever more remote. He'd done his bit and really didn't want to spend the rest of his life fighting off dark wizards. He was torn between the desire to help and the desire to live out his life in peace.
Then, a year ago, the matter struck closer to home. After being alerted by house elves to the fact that Severus Snape had not been seen for a few days, a search was made of his rooms. Nothing had been touched, all his clothes were hanging in place, potion ingredients were lying around ready for use. All in all, it looked just like he'd stepped outside for a few minutes and would return at any time. However, the people sent to investigate had told the tribunal that the rooms had an empty feeling. As though the person living in them was no longer in residence, and never would be again!
Searches had been made, Snape being a hero of the war, after all, but nothing was ever found. He had simply disappeared into thin air.
Harry hadn't actually liked Snape but he did respect him. The disappearance made him sad. It also struck him that if somebody could do away with a powerful wizard like Snape they could strike at anybody! Nobody was safe! That did not make for a pleasant realisation.
Things had died down slightly for a while and then, about six months ago, disaster had stuck again. Ron disappeared whilst out investigating something minor.
Frantic now, Harry had become a permanent fixture at the Ministry. To no avail. Like all the times before, nothing was ever found.
Harry and Hermione bonded closer in their grief. Someone was picking off the heroes, one by one, and they were no closer to the culprit than before. Whoever it was had been very clever, and had picked off the one person most like to be able to help first. Snape, whatever his faults, knew an awful lot and had a keen intelligence. He had been the one person Harry had trusted to be able to figure out any problem. Now, they were left blundering around in the dark.
All this was whirling in Harry's memories. Questions clashing in his mind, the situation he found himself in brought it's own answer. If Snape were still alive then…
Snape smiled. "Mr Weasley is perfectly fine. Quite content, really. You can see him later."
Harry's eyes narrowed, things were becoming clearer. "You never left the Death Eaters! All this time you were playing one side against the other! When Voldemort fell all you did was go into hiding and bide your time, didn't you?"
A pleased smile alighted on Snape's face, "When you want to, you can use that brain for something other than calculating Quidditch averages, can't you? Yes, I did `play one side against the other'. You don't think I would be so stupid as the burn all my bridges, do you? When it became clear that Voldemort was losing, and losing badly, I simply chose the winning side. Quite cleverly managing to allay any suspicions as well!"
"So now you're crawling around after the next Dark Lord!" Harry was livid.
Snape simply tilted his head, blinked slowly and got up. Crossing the room, he moved in front of Harry, putting his hands on the chair's arms. Moving closer until his face was a bare inch from Harry's, he answered, "Voldemort was a means to an end. He was insane but quite good at directing attention away from anything I was doing," he moved closer, causing Harry to shrink back, "And no, I'm not crawling around. You've known me for, how long? Haven't you realised by now that I play second fiddle to no-one!"
Harry's eyes widened with realisation. Snape wasn't just trying to get as much power as he could from the next Dark Lord! Snape *was* the next Dark Lord!
"I see you've realised what's happening," he said, lifting one hand and running his fingers over Harry's face, "I just waited until the dust settled, then walked in and took over. It was quite ludicrously easy!"
Snape moved away towards the fire, leaning against the mantle. He was avidly watching every expression on Harry's face.
The sheer depth and scope of the Snape's plans staggered Harry. He must have been planning this for years! Since before Voldemort fell. Probably since before Harry was born!
"What do I plan on doing now? Or, more precisely, what do I plan on doing with you?"
Harry nodded, struck dumb.
Crossing his arms, Snape took on a contemplative expression, looking down at the floor, as if debating whether to share his plans with Harry. Hungry dark eyes then snapped up, causing the breath in Harry's chest to catch.
"I have no plans for the world at the moment. I'm perfectly content with what I have. Voldemort's weakness was that he wanted too much, too soon. I'm happy to let it come to me in it's own time. As for you, haven't you guessed what you're here for? No! Hmm, then a demonstration is in order I think. Come here!"
The last was a quiet command and Harry had no choice but to move towards him. Coming to a halt directly in front of Snape, Harry was disturbed to note the avaricious expression on his face. The memory of that kiss was also present. He had the disturbing feeling he knew exactly what the demonstration would be!
Moving slowly from his leant position, Snape moved forward until his entire body was pressed against Harry's. He slid one hand around the back of Harry's head, holding it steady, the other arm coming around his waist. "Ever since the first time I saw you, you've never left my mind." The words were whispered. "No, not like that," he said at Harry's disgusted expression, "I may be many things, but a paedophile I'm not. The desire came later."
Foreheads pressed together now, Harry couldn't help but close his eyes. What the hell was happening to him? Shivers were running up and down his spine. He was melting into the other man's embrace. Where was his will power? Why couldn't he fight?
"You were so young and yet so powerful. Full of life. Eager to explore everything around you. Not at all frightened of what was awaiting you." Lips were pressing softly against his now.
"I watched you for years, knowing that, one day, you'd be mine. Every inch of you. Every part of you. Heart, body and soul. It might not be something you want to believe right now but this is for our mutual benefit. Even this," he touched the collar around Harry's neck, "though it has other meanings, is just for your protection. Yes, it does restrict you in what you can do, but only for the present. You are my equal in this, in everything. You are not my slave. You must believe that, no matter what it seems like now! In time, when you are more…comfortable with the situation, the restrictions will be removed. However, for now, there's one more thing that needs to be done!"
Harry was being pressed against the wall now, Snape's hand moving around to caress him through his trousers. The feel of that hand on his distended flesh made him groan loudly, the sign Snape was waiting for in order to latch onto him mouth more fully.
Teeth nipped at his lips, tongue soothed the small hurt then swept inside his mouth, teasing him. Licking, sucking, mouthing.
Long, dextrous, hands moved under his clothing, pushing it away until he was naked, then caressed him possessively.
How they got to the bedroom Harry would never know but the feel of satin sheets underneath him made him jump. Snape shushed him, mouth busy on his throat, hands moving between his legs. Harry gazed sightlessly up as Snape moved away momentarily, only to return a few second later, glass jar of lubricant in his hand.
Naked flesh pressed down on him. Hot, wet, kisses were rained down over his face and neck before a mouth latched onto his own, supple tongue seeking, and gaining, entry.
Hands slid around his hips and wet fingers gently probed him, before moving inside. The feel of one digit rubbing his insides made him gasp and arch upwards, the movement causing him to rub up against Snape. A loud groan against his lips was his reply, and the feel of hot flesh thrusting against his inner thigh.
Two fingers now. Long, slender fingers. Reaching so far up inside him he thought he might feel them caressing his heart soon.
Three fingers had his eyes rolling back in their sockets. He didn't know how long he could go on like this. Something had to give eventually.
The loss of those wonderful fingers made him feel bereft. Clutching at the other man, all he could do was moan piteously, hips arching upwards, seeking some kind of contact.
Hands urged his legs apart and he happily wrapped them around slender hips. The feel of something hot and, oh so big, pressing against his entrance made him buck. The movement caused the object to pop through the band of loosened muscle.
Feeling the sudden pain, Harry stiffened. It wasn't supposed to hurt, was it? Low murmurs against his skin and the feel of the Snape holding himself back give him the strength to relax.
Looking down at him anxiously Snape noticed the acceptance with relief. He pressed himself further into that hot body. Slowly. So slowly. Moving backwards and forwards in increments. It took him a full minute to slid fully inside Harry.
Resting, they held each other tightly, not willing to move and end this too soon.
However, it couldn't last and Snape began moving. He couldn't believe that, at last, he had his Harry where he wanted him. In his bed, in his arms and moving so sensuously against him. Accepting everything he could give and demanding more. Dropping his head to rest against a moist shoulder, he moved even more quickly. Gods, he was so tight! The feeling of satin-like walls, rippling around him, almost making him lose control.
Harry was in heaven. He had never felt like this before. This wonderful feeling of fullness invading him over and over again. It was totally unlike all his other encounters. Whereas before he had been the aggressor, the one giving pleasure, this time he was on the receiving end. All he had to do was accept and his reward would be manifold.
The darkness shattered. Bright lights going off behind his eyelids. His entire body shuddered and arched, every muscle tightening. A hot mouth opened against his neck, mouthing desperately, striving for completion.
Harry shuddered at the hot sensation flooding him. His nerves were already sensitised and the movement inside him was only making it worse, causing another orgasm to catch him unawares. Sensation became too much and darkness overwhelmed him.
Slowly, Snape stopped moving. He never wanted to leave this bed. Raising his head he noted that Harry was dead to the world. A satisfied smirk graced his face. A job well done. Muttering a quick spell to get rid of the excess spillage, he tightened his arms around his lover and closed his eyes.
Harry was standing in a room just off the main hall. The house, no mansion, was huge. And unfamiliar to him. He had no idea of his whereabouts in the British Isles, or indeed if he was still in that Britain. He also had the impression he'd wouldn't find out any time soon.
After waking him earlier with an inspired blowjob, Snape had chivvied him dressed and then downstairs. Harry had been left with a kiss and a surreptitious grope. That had been half an hour ago. He'd tried the door but it was locked. The same with the windows. He had looked thoughtfully at the chairs, debating whether he was strong enough to hoist one over his head and throw it through the glass but a warning buzz from the collar he wore stopped that. Damn thing.
Sighing, he flung himself in one of the chairs, closing his eyes and dropping his head backwards onto the cushion. He'd just have to think of another way to escape.
The sound of the door opening and the timid "Harry?" made his eyes snap open.
"Ron!" Harry leapt up and snatched Ron into his arms. Gods, he'd missed him! All the worry of the last few months caught up with him and he clutched his friend tightly to him. Arms came around him just as tightly and a face was pressed against his neck.
"Well, isn't this sweet!"
Ron stiffened at the tone and dropped his arms, moving swiftly away. Harry glanced at his friend but Ron wouldn't look at him, only gazed at the floor, face pale.
Draco Malfoy stood in the open doorway, arrogantly leaning against the wood. He ran a possessive look over Ron before switching his gaze back to Harry. "Potter." It wasn't much as greetings go but it was downright civil compared to some of the things he'd said.
The covetous gaze that had raked across Ron's body made Harry stiffen with outrage. No! Not Ron as well! He looked assessing at Ron, noting the fine clothing he wore, the overly long hair, the jewels, the sad face and, lastly, the twin to the collar around his own neck. "Oh Ron."
Ron reddened and turned his face away, unable to look at his best friend.
Malfoy smirked and sauntered across the room. Sliding his hands around Ron's waist, he gently turned the downcast face towards him. Blue eyes met grey for a moment before Malfoy bent his head and took possession of Ron's mouth. It was like they were alone in the room. Harry didn't know where to put himself. On the one hand he wanted to pull his friend away from that bastard's clutches and on the other he wanted to turn away and ignore the moist sounds they were making, giving Ron some degree of privacy. Only the realisation that he was in exactly the same position gave him the strength to take the second option. He knew exactly what Ron was feeling. Knew he couldn't control it.
Pulling away and, noting the glazed expression on his lover's features, Malfoy slid behind him, pulling Ron back, before moving his hands to rest possessively on his stomach. He rested his head on Ron's shoulder, smirking with satisfaction across at a pale Harry.
"Mine now, Potter! Not your shadow anymore. He's better than that. He deserves much better."
"Like you!" It wasn't a complement.
"Yessss, exactly like me," the last was delivered in a low hiss, "only I can give him what he really needs. What he deserves. Can't I, love?" White teeth nipped at an earlobe. Ron's eyes were tightly closed, denying everything. A pink tongue snaked out, lapping over flesh before latching onto the pulse point, making Ron moan softly. Silver grey eyes never left Harry as Malfoy sucked softly at the skin. The challenge was loud and clear. Harry dug his nails into his hands in anger.
"Draco, it's not nice to bait people."
All eyes darted to the figure in the doorway. Snape looked only at Malfoy, eyebrow raised. Malfoy had the courtesy to look a little ashamed. He raised his head, stopping his torment, however he didn't move away, only tightened his grasp more.
"Harry, I'm sorry I took so long to come back to you. It was unavoidable, however. You know how things are." He moved into the room, commanding everybody's attention. Pausing briefly to run fingers over Harry's cheek, he sat regally in a chair. "I see young Mr Weasley has found you. It will be nice for you to catch up with each other." "Ron," he directed "why don't you take Harry for a tour of the grounds. It's quite fine outside. The air will do you both good." It wasn't a suggestion.
Ron tugged himself away from Malfoy, darting looks at Snape. Seeing he was serious, Ron moved across and pulled Harry from the room. Harry was more than aware of the two sets of eyes on them and was ecstatic about getting away, even for a short time, from the man who held his fate in his hands.
"I must say, Uncle Sev, you do have good taste. If I wasn't already enamoured with Ron, I would probably have made a play for Potter a long time ago!" Draco was still gazing after the two. He shrugged and turned back to his Uncle, catching the smug look on his face.
"Yes, I do, don't I." His expression turned serious, "I didn't ask you here to discuss our respective spouses, however. What's your report."
"Everything's fine. No one suspects a thing. The Ministry is in tatters. They're trying to hide the fact that Potter has disappeared but we both know news like that has a habit of leaking out. If not by accident, then deliberately," they grinned knowingly at each other, "Before long, everybody will know. And then…" he looked questioningly at his kin.
Steepleing his fingers in front of him and pressing them against his lips, in a favoured expression, Severus contemplated the unasked question. Indeed, what then!
"Nothing," he said, coming to a decision. Seeing the look on his nephew's face, he explained more fully, "Why rock the boat? Let things die down. Why try grabbing things before they are ready? That's was Voldemort's downfall. We wait until the time is right."
"Then we strike. As you say, things are falling apart. Public confidence in the power of the Ministry grows less and less every day. Soon, they won't be able to hold it together. There'll be mass mutiny. Civilisation will fall screaming into the abyss."
"Then we strike." Draco sounded eager.
"But, you said…"
"I said we would strike when the timing was right." Severus enlightened his nephew with a glimpse into his twisted psyche. "When everything seems hopeless, when families turn on each other, when people will sell one another for a loaf of bread, that's when we strike. When all hope is gone."
Draco was excited by the prospect, "Yes, by the time things get that bad, there'll be no opposition at all. The people will be glad, ecstatic even, to have somebody take over, direct them, tell them what to do. Anybody, even us, would be better than that madness. It will be perfect." He paused, a look of pure awe on his face, "Have I told you, you are a truly devious bastard and I am humbled by your presence,"
Severus was delighted by his nephew's grasp of the situation. Only a true Slytherin could have appreciated the scale of his plans and his nephew had proved himself yet again.
Turning to other, lighter, matters. "How is your father? I've not heard from him for a while."
"Fine, mother has him on a short leash, not that he knows it. Ha, he's still under the impression he's head of the house."
Snape smiled at the mention of his half-sister. She could be counted on to do whatever was necessary.
Draco went on, "He's been harping on about heirs again, though. Wants me to settle down with some nice, pure-blooded, girl." He snorted, "As if! I've already made my choice. Ron is better than anything he could find for me."
"Indeed, next to the Snape and Malfoy bloodlines, the Weasley's are about as pure as you can get! However, you do need an heir. Even if it's just the one."
Draco glanced across at his Uncle, "So! There are potions for that, as if you didn't know."
"You've mentioned it to Ron have you. I get the impression that he wouldn't be happy being a broodmare for you."
Draco sighed, glancing down at his hands. He hadn't said anything to his lover, knowing instinctively that Ron was not yet ready for that step. "If he doesn't want to bear them then I will. It's all the same to me." He looked quickly up, "That is, if you don't mind losing your lieutenant for a while."
Severus laughed, his nephew was so obvious sometimes, "No, I don't mind. You can do your job just as well pregnant. Just tell me in advance."
Draco nodded. He loved his Uncle and had a guaranteed position without parallel in the new world order but he didn't want to risk that by getting on the wrong side of him. His Uncle could be quite….vicious…sometimes.
"What say we take a turn around the gardens ourselves," he gestured for Draco to get up, "I daresay both Ron and Harry will have gotten themselves snared in the traps by now, and we really should go rescue them."
They grinned at one another.
It was a much quieter, and very shaken, Harry that was being propelled down the corridors that evening. Indeed, both he and Ron had been snared in the traps. Harry first, trying to find a way to escape, and then Ron, trying to free Harry. The laughter that had greeted them on being found did nothing to quell the anger inside.
After they had been freed, Malfoy fussing over Ron, they had taken back into the house. For punishment. Not that what had happened could strictly be termed punishment but Harry, for one, had certainly screamed at some point.
Later, both Harry and Ron had been seated next to their respective *owners* at dinner. It was a large affair, various people, both male and female, attending, some known to Harry as Death Eaters, other's strangers to him. They all had a companion with them, marked by the thin gold collar that both Harry and Ron wore. Harry also recognised a couple of them. They were people who had disappeared over the years. A few were quiet, pale-faced as they sat at the table, picking at the food in front of them. Other, more resigned to their fate, were happy to join in the dinner conversation which flowed around them. One or two glances had been levelled at Harry as he had sat down but, other than that, nothing had been said. Harry was glad, he didn't think he could cope with questions at this time.
Snape was at the head of the table, Harry to his right. Malfoy at the opposite end, with Ron beside him. Everybody else was in between. Nothing more sinister than the weather or the price of bat's blood or the latest Quidditch scores was discussed. If Harry tried he could almost have imagined it to be just any other dinner party, not a meeting of dark wizards with a desire to take over the world.
Holding a glass of wine in one hand, the other being held tightly by Snape, Harry glanced down the table to see how Ron was holding up. Better than him, it seemed. He was laughing softly at something Malfoy had whispered to him. Eyes clashed and Malfoy ran the back of his hand over Ron's cheek, causing him to blush.
Harry dropped his eyes. It was obscene. That sort of behaviour should be between lovers, those wanting to be together, not forced into it.
Feeling his hand being tugged upwards, Harry turned in time to catch Snape's eyes on him. He swallowed heavily as his fingers were kissed lingeringly.
All eyes turned as Snape stood, pulling Harry up with him. "It's late and, as congenial as the company is, I have the feeling that my consort is overly tired and eager for bed." There was laughter at the double meaning. Harry blushed, dropping his head. He suddenly wished his hair was as long as Ron's.
"There are rooms ready for any who wish to spend the night. You may use them or not as you desire. As for myself, I take my leave of you. Come, my love."
Harry was chivvied out of the room.
Much later, lying underneath a deeply asleep Snape, Harry was overcome with the need to get away. Moving slowly, so as not to awaken the other man, he slid out of the bed. Pausing only to grab his bed robe, he made his escape.
Wandering down dark corridors, he stopped in front of a pair of doors he hadn't seen before. Pushing them open, he ventured inside. The light from a dying fire gleamed on leather and parchment. The Library was huge.
Shutting the door behind him, he moved over the shelves, breathing in the smell, revelling in the familiar aromas. He had always loved books and reading, taking any opportunity to immerse himself in tales of far-away lands and magical and mystical people. It had been a way to escape the boring humdrum of his life. The old stories had gripped him, telling tales of knights in armour and flying carpets and phoenix's and dragons and maidens. And in the tales everything had made sense. The knight had slain the dragon, freeing the maiden. The evil wizard, or vizier, had come to a sticky, and just, end. Black was black, white was white. There was no grey. No shaded areas.
It had taken real life to teach him that, although magic was real and so were heroes, the heroes weren't always brave and strong, the evil wizards weren't always foiled, the maiden sometimes didn't want to be rescued and, occasionally, the dark won.
Picking out a book at random, he curled up in front of the fire, which had begun to burn more readily at his entrance. It must have been charmed to do that.
Running his hands over the leather surface of the volume in his hands, Harry gazed in to the flames, wondering what he'd done wrong.
He didn't react to either the door opening or the figure that knelt down before him. Long fingers turned his face towards the other man's. Snape could read him like the book he held and he didn't hold back any of his misery or confusion.
Lips moved down from his forehead, over his eyes, kissing each softly, before coming to a rest just over his mouth, "Just accept, my love. Don't fight it."
Harry allowed himself to be hoisted to his feet and out of the room, the book forgotten on the floor behind him. Guided only by a firm hand in the middle of his back, he had no idea where he was or where he was going.
It was somewhere on the first floor when he came back to himself with a bang.
They were passing a series of rooms, all alike, running down the corridor, when a loud moan came from behind one of them. It was followed by an another, and another, before trailing off into a series of gasps.
Harry's head snapped to the side. That had been Ron!
Snape moved forward, chin resting on top of Harry's head, arms preventing him from moving. "Ah, I see my nephew has put his desires into action."
From behind the door a low murmuring could be head, over the moans and gasps. It was hypnotic, like the chant snake charmers used to subdue their pets.
"Wh…what…do you mean!" Harry didn't know if he was ready for what was happening behind that door.
"Draco mentioned to me earlier he wanted to introduce his consort to the joys of fisting." This was said in a tone which belied it's shocking content.
"Fis…" Harry trailed off, looking around at Snape to confirm that he had heard him properly. No, no way Ron would put up with that. The mere thought of having somebody's entire hand up… there… made him faint.
"I see you do know what I'm talking about. I am surprised. Maybe you're not as innocent as you make out." Snape had pulled Harry around by this time, sliding his arms around him, patting his backside. "Oh, don't worry. I like you just the way you are. There's no need to be scared," he cocked his head, looking at the door speculatively, "unless…" he trailed off.
"NO! Not. A. Chance. Don't you dare even think it!" Harry was adamant.
Snape smirked down at Harry's outraged face, "Think on it. If the idea…appeals to you, then maybe we can come to some arrangements. If not, it's nobody's loss. There are plenty of other, just as pleasurable, things to do."
"You are a sick, sick, bastard."
"I'm your sick bastard. You've enjoyed, even begged for, my ministrations so far, haven't you?" Snape dared him to dispute the veracity of that statement.
It was another loud moan which broke the staring contest. Harry paled, looked at the door, then, making his decision, he jerked himself free and ran off down the corridor.
Looking back as he rounded he corner, he saw Snape still looking at the doorway, before making a decision and moving after him.
Flinging himself on the bed, Harry burrowed under the covers, wishing it all away. Wishing he was eleven again, and the world was still a wonderful place. Not filled with disturbing desires and concepts.
Snape didn't even attempt to uncurl him from his foetal position, merely arranged himself around him, getting as much skin contact as possible.
"I can assure you that Ron isn't being hurt. Well, not in anyway he doesn't want to be. I know my nephew. He wouldn't have even mentioned the possibility if he didn't think Ron was, at the very least, amenable to the idea." He sighed, curling even more fully around Harry. "If Ron really hadn't wanted it he would have said no and that would have been the end of the matter. He's Draco's consort, not his slave. He has the same rights and privileges as you."
"So, if I asked you to stop touching me, you would." The question was spat out.
There was a moment's silence as Snape digested the question. Stoking his hand down Harry's side, he leaned in, "I would if you actually meant it but you don't! Do you! Deep down, under all that fear and anger, you don't want me to stop!"
Harry hid his head further in the pillow. As much as he wanted to deny the fact, he couldn't, and it was tearing him apart.
Coils of Gold 2
It was the following day before Harry got to see Ron again. He was uncomfortable but didn't want to upset Ron by making him suspect anything. He'd initially decided to keep his mouth shut but, given some of the glances Ron had cast his way, he knew that Ron had already guessed. Probably Malfoy had told him. Bastard. That man had ears like a bat.
Currently, Ron was lying sideways on a couch in the conservatory, knees bent, propped up by cushions. He must be aching like buggery. Harry didn't feel like sitting and just paced up and down. Ron was getting dizzy just looking at him!
"I'm fine, you know. Just a bit…sore."
Harry really didn't want to talk about it. He looked away. Ron, however, was adamant that Harry understand what was going on. Why he had agreed to such a thing?
Ron knew that Draco cared about him. Loved him, even. Draco certainly told him enough times! While things had been…rough…in the beginning, over time, Ron had become more used to the situation. More accepting. He knew that, in the end, everything would work out, but he didn't want his friend to think ill of him.
"He does care about me, its just…Draco he tends to go…overboard… sometimes," Ron was hesitant about how to start, "He gets very exited about things. Most of the time I can talk him out of it, if I really don't want to do something, but sometimes… I know he only wants to please me but when he gets these things in his head, the best thing to do is, at least, try it, if only to save my ears from his constant whining!"
"I still can't believe you actually let him…"
"Yes, well," Ron shifted and winced a little, "He's been told in no uncertain terms that once was enough. It was…interesting…but I'm not prepared to do it again. I must confess, however, that there was a bit of curiosity involved. Well, you read about these things. Never thought it'd actually happen to me, though!"
Ron watched Harry turn bright red. Honestly, you'd think he was still a virgin! Which he definitely wasn't, knowing Snape!
Poor Harry, he didn't have a clue. Well, to be brutally honest, Ron wasn't entirely sure about the situation either, but he had a better idea than Harry! He knew that, deep underneath the posturing and arrogance, Draco was just the same as him. Looking for somebody to love, somebody to care, somebody to share all his secrets with. An equal. A companion as well as a lover. He just didn't agree with the methods that Draco, or the others, used to get what they wanted.
Yes, Draco was quite…sweet…really. When he let his barriers down, in any event. He'd been devastated when he learned that Ron really hadn't completely enjoyed his attentions the night before and was in quite serious pain now. He'd fussed, and apologised, and grovelled and `Mother Henned' all morning, until Ron had grown tired and sent him away. He was surprised that Draco had left him alone long enough to talk to Harry!
Harry was unconvinced. "I still can't believe…" he paused, "What about all through school! The nasty tricks he played, on both of us, certainly weren't the innocent games of somebody seeking the attention of somebody he liked!"
Ron blinked slowly, this had been his impression at the start as well, but as he told Harry, "Maybe at the beginning everything that happened was meant, and in a vindictive way, but we were all children then and you just know how vicious children can be! I've asked him about it, late at night, when he's more like to give me an honest answer and he says it was a gradual thing. He didn't just wake up one morning and say to himself `I'm in love with Weasley!' It happened over time, years. Surely you must have realised that, for the last two years we were at Hogwarts, he seemed less intent on torturing us! He wanted to tell me how he felt but certain actions and reactions were so ingrained in him, and we were so suspicious of him, he couldn't do anything about it."
Harry knew this was true. Malfoy had, certainly, picked on them less during the last two years of school, choosing more and more to ignore them both. He reluctantly accepted this explanation but that didn't excuse…
"What about these then," he said, flicking a nail at the collar on his neck, "if he loves you, why do you wear one of these? Why are you forced into obeying him?"
Ah, the crucial question, and one that Ron didn't know all the answers to. He had ideas and theories but the real intent of the collars eluded him.
"Sit here, Harry," Ron gestured to a chair right beside him, "I'll try to explain what I know."
Harry hesitated and then, at Ron's pleading expression, he sat.
"From what I've been told they're an ancient form of wedding symbol. A bit like the rings we use now," he held a hand up to forestall the question Harry was about to ask, "No, let me finish. Where was I? Oh yes. Wedding symbol. Well, they were used mostly for arranged marriages. You know, keeping the bloodlines pure and all that. If both parties were willing, the collars were nothing more than symbolic. However, if one or both were unwilling, charms were placed on them to ensure that they couldn't escape their duties. Couldn't run away, were forced into having sex with one another, that sort of thing, at least until they were more used to the situation anyway. The tradition gradually died out over time but certain houses, mostly old ones, the ones more interested in purity and not the happiness of their children, kept it up. You've seen the shape of the collar, so you can imagine which houses they were!"
Indeed, that morning had been the first chance Harry had had to get a close look at the metal around his neck. It was shaped like a serpent, the lock being the part where the head bit its tail. The detail was astounding. In other circumstances he would have been enthralled about the workmanship of such a beautiful piece of jewellery. Tiny rubies outlined every scale, its fangs were diamonds, and it's eyes emeralds. Ron's was similar but the eyes of his were made of sapphire.
"Anyway," Ron continued, "as far as I can tell Snape revived the tradition. Apparently, he'd been fascinated with the whole concept and had decided to tinker with them, making them better."
"What did he do?" Harry was very curious, if he knew how the things worked, maybe he could figure a way around them.
Ron shook his head, he knew why Harry was asking, and he also knew the quest was futile. Whatever his faults, Snape never left anything to chance. He answered anyway.
"The collars used to be loaded down with charms and the like, but we both know that charms can be disrupted so Snape decided to play around with his potions. Don't ask!" he said, holding up a hand, "You know how well I did in that subject! He didn't change the overall design but the collars have liquid cores now. Filled with a sort of Imperio solution."
The revelation that he had an Unforgivable around his neck didn't make Harry any happier.
"It's more subtle than the curse though. Not as restrictive. There's no memory loss. You know exactly what you're doing, and if you're given a direct order, which thankfully isn't that often, you're not able to resist. Other than that you have your own mind and will."
"It's a bit like a snitch to the curse's blunger!"
"Exactly, and, unlike the curse, it doesn't have to be constantly renewed. It sustains itself."
"So what can I, or can't I, do?"
"Well, we can't run away, obviously. You can wander about within the grounds of the house but that's it. Any attempt to go further brings paralysis and unconsciousness. You can't hurt others, or yourself, so suicide is out. I must say though, that from what I've seen none of the dark wizards want an unwilling consort. If any of the consorts were that unhappy, and it came to the point that death was the only option, they'd be freed. Obliviated, of course, but freed. But that's only happened once. The rest of us, unhappy as we are about the collars being on in the first place, at least recognise that we're being cared for, given something we were lacking before. And while they don't actually like their mates in the beginning, most have found that they've come to love them."
Harry doubted that highly, but he let Ron keep his dream. The illusion of love and affection was obviously the only thing keeping him sane.
"What other effects are there?" he asked.
"The collar is bonded to the person who places it around your neck. In your case, Snape. In mine, Draco. We have to follow any direct order they give. Others can give us orders but only when strictly necessary. It's considered very bad manners, otherwise."
That didn't make Harry feel any better; the thought of anybody ordering him about made him feel ill. He knew however that if Snape heard about it, well, the other person had better start running. He purposely *didn't* think about Snape giving him orders.
"Otherwise, it's mostly what you've already discovered. If Snape puts his hands on you, you become pliant. Unresisting. Still able to think and feel but unable to strike at him. That's why it had to be Snape who put the collar around your neck in the first place. It's part of the marriage ceremony."
Ron laughed at the dumbfounded expression on Harry's face.
"Yes, marriage. It might come as a surprise but you and Snape are married now. And it's official, your ritual…deflowering…afterwards saw to that!" Ron went slightly red, remembering his own `marriage' ceremony, and what followed immediately afterwards. Happy was not a word for his feelings at that point! He'd been downright livid but Draco had certainly been…persistent. "The tradition of the collars may have faded away but the laws around it were never repealed. The only one who can release you is Snape himself and, given the looks he gives you, I highly doubt that will ever happen."
Seeing that Harry was disturbed by this revelation, Ron made an attempt to move the conversation onto other, lighter, subjects.
"Have you got your robes ready for next week?"
"What!" the question sufficiently distracted Harry, "Why? What's happening next week?"
"You don't know? I thought Snape would have told you before now! There's a party next week. A sort of cross between introducing you and a convention for world domination." Ron was invited Harry to laugh with him. The idea was ludicrous. Harry did laugh, but a bit nervously, he didn't fancy facing all those people.
"Oh, it won't be that bad, really. Just a lot of eating, dancing and dark curses." Seeing Harry's expression, Ron laughed, "Honestly, you don't believe me do you? Nah, there'll be dancing and stuff but that's all."
"Dancing! I can't dance! No, no way. Not a chance." Harry was adamant. "I'm not going!"
Ron pulled out the big guns. "Oh, that's a shame. Oliver will be disappointed."
"Oliver!" Harry mentally slapped himself, `of course, Oliver was one of the first the disappear.'
"Is he…the same as you and me?"
"Can't you guess? Their fights were almost as legendary as mine and Draco's!"
"Marcus Flint!" Harry didn't think he could get more gob smacked, "But…but…I thought he hated Oliver."
"About as much as Draco hated me, it looks like! Anyway, he's coming and one or two others we know. He's been looking forward to seeing you, so they'll probably stay for a couple of days after the party."
Harry was suddenly struck by the fact that both Draco and Ron didn't live in the house. They were guests and would, themselves, leave eventually. Cold coiled in his stomach. He didn't think he could cope if his friend wasn't there.
Seeing Harry's expression, Ron hurried on "I'm not leaving, not for a while yet. You don't have to worry about that. You need me here, need somebody to talk to and both Snape and Draco are willing to accommodate me in this. In fact, I think if I hadn't come up with the idea in the first place Snape would have said something anyway."
Harry hurried over and hugged his friend. Kneeling against the couch, he tried to pull away on hearing the pained sound Ron made as he was jostled but Ron, determined comfort both himself and Harry, only tightened his arms. Harry gave in, pressing his face into Ron's shoulder.
Pulling away slightly, Ron ran his hands soothingly over Harry's shoulders. He smiled softly. Then, eyes sharpening, he glanced over Harry's shoulder. "Don't hover, Draco. Come in."
Harry moved away, back to his chair and watch as Malfoy came into the room. He seemed hesitant, as if unsure of his welcome. A completely un-Malfoylike emotion.
Drifting over to the couch, he sat gingerly down on the side, one hand stroking Ron's hip lightly.
"Are you okay? Do you need more painkillers? I'm so sorry, I didn't know…" He was cut off by Ron's finger pressing against his lips.
"Shush, I'm fine. Don't worry. It's over and done with. Forget it." Draco grasped Ron's hand, kissing the fingers softly then, closing his eyes, he rubbed his cheek against them.
Draco had never, in all this time, even glanced at Harry. He didn't seem to realise that he was in the same room. His whole attention was focused on Ron.
In fact, both of them seemed to have forgotten he was there. Lost in a world of their own.
Harry slipped away, he needed time to mull over what he had seen and heard. Figure out how it applied to him and Snape.
"I love you so much, it hurts." Draco opened his eyes. They were bright, glazed with a slight sheen of tears. "I want to be with you forever. Never leave your side." He leaned down and kissed Ron almost feverishly.
Ron wanted to tell Draco his feelings as well, but he was still confused. He did care about his lover but he didn't know if it was love or not. Maybe it was just a misplaced hate. Maybe it was both. He would have to wait and see. For now, he would accept. Opening his lips, and shifting slightly, he invited Draco into a deeper embrace.
Harry was in a foul mood. Everything Ron had told him, everything he had seen or heard or experienced was circling in his mind like a broken record.
On the one hand Snape had treated him like a prized possession, lavishing every possible thing on him he could want, bar his freedom. He asked for Harry's opinion, and actually listed to him when he answered. Made him feel as if he really mattered. Him, Harry Potter! Not The-Boy-That-Lived! There were light touches and kisses and fingers ran lingeringly through his hair when they were sat close. And the sex…! Well, that was explosive to say the least!
However, on the other hand, Harry had certainly NOT been asked if he wanted to be married to his ex Potions Master. He hadn't been asked if he wanted to be dragged to, wherever the hell he was, and held captive in an, admittedly lovely, house. It was as if the marriage and wooing has been switched around and now that Snape had him under his power, he was attempting to smooth the way.
No, no matter what Snape said or did, Harry was still a prisoner. He still couldn't walk free and, in his book, that wasn't love. It was obsession.
The fact that his husband was the next Dark Lord was not even something he wanted to touch on at the moment!
Sighing he shifted on the window ledge, looking out into the gardens. In the background a song played. It suited his mood.
He sang softly along to it. Words memorised a long time ago.
"Wish I was too dead to cry
My self-affliction fades
Stones to throw at my creator
Masochists to which I cater
You don't need to bother;
I don't need to be
I'll keep slipping farther
But once I hold on,
I won't let go 'til it bleeds
Wish I was too dead to care
If indeed I cared at all
Never had a voice to protest
So you fed me shit to digest
I wish I had a reason;
my flaws are open season
For this, I gave up trying
One good turn deserves my dying
You don't need to bother;
I don't need to be
I'll keep slipping farther
But once I hold on,
I won't let go 'til it bleeds
Wish I'd died instead of lived
A zombie hides my face
with its memories
with cryptic entries
And you don't need to bother;
I don't need to be
I'll keep slipping farther
But once I hold on,
I won't let go 'til it bleeds
You don't need to bother;
I don't need to be
I'll keep slipping farther
But once I hold on:
I'll never live down my deceit"
He had originally heard the song a lot time ago, when the war was at it's worst. When every time he had turned around, there was another atrocity and Voldemort mocked him. It had struck him at the time how appropriate it was. Now, it even closer mirrored his life.
He never heard the door opening or noticed Snape standing there. He listed to the music, watching Harry closely until the end of the song.
Walking across, he sat down on the opposite side of the window ledge, one leg drawn up. Harry shifted his attention to him but said nothing. Everything was in his face.
"Interesting song." He said, breaking the ice.
Harry ignored the implied question, he had better things to ask.
"Why did you pick me? Yes, I know you've given your reasons before but they don't explain everything!"
Snape closed his eyes and leaned his head back, resting it on the wall. "I never hated you. Quite the opposite actually. But, I had a part to play and play it I did."
"Yeh, well it certainly fooled me!" Harry said bitterly.
"As to what attracts me to you, well, it could just be the fact that you are beautiful. Or it might be your intelligence: you can use that brain when you choose to! It might be your kindness, your generosity, your willingness to help others, to think the best of everyone, or it might just be the fact that the light inside you calls to my darkness. I'm sure you're aware of the old adage `Opposites attract'. You balance me. Influence me."
"Ha, that's a laugh. I've not seen any indication of my so-called influence. If I could influence you then I'd get you to stop touching me!"
"Like I've said before, if you really did want me to stop then I would. But you don't. You like it. As much as you twist and turn, you enjoy my hands on you. You enjoy everything we do together."
Harry looked away. He'd completely lost control of the conversation.
"Fine, you just keep on thinking that. What about all the others, you can't seriously believe that every one of them is happy."
"Oh, I believe that in the beginning they were as unhappy with the situation as you are now but, eventually, as they understood what has happening more and more, they're feelings changed. And, it cannot be denied that you make, in fact all Gryffindors, make fine consorts. The perfect match to Slytherin."
Harry looked at him, "I suppose that now isn't the time to tell you that Gryffindor wasn't the Sorting Hat's first choice for me!"
If Harry had wanted Snape to be shocked, he was disappointed. Snape grasped his meaning immediately. His eyebrow raised in surprise and his lips curled in amusement, "Really!" After a moments thought, he went on, "Ah well, I suppose that was Voldemort's influence. When there is conflicting character traits the Hat usually goes with what the person wants. In your case, you wanted to be in Gryffindor more than Slytherin, so it put you there. The fact that you fitted in perfectly just goes to show that you were more than suited to that House."
Harry was silent. It did make sense, of a sort. "You're not going to tell me what your plans are, are you!" It wasn't a question.
"No, I don't think so. Not yet anyway. You have an uncanny ability to put a spanner in the works, even if you don't mean to! Soon. I'll tell you soon."
Snape suddenly got up, holding out his hand for Harry to take. "Come, I have a surprise for you."
Harry was suspicious but he took Snape's hand anyway. It was probably better to comply.
Snape led him into the bedroom. Harry was just about to ask what the surprise was when his eyes fell on the bed. And what was on it.
Eyes wide, he couldn't move "You want to..."
By this time Snape had moved behind him, hands smoothing over this shoulders and down his arms, fingers twining with his, bring both sets of arms around Harry's body. He breathed into Harry's ear. "Nothing that you don't want to do. I promise. If you don't like it, I'll stop. Just try it, you might be surprised," he nipped at the earlobe, Harry's body melted like honey. "You know I can make you feel wonderful."
Harry pulled away slowly, moving over to the bed in a dream. He lightly ran his hands over the items on the bed. Did he really want to? The sudden vision of what Snape was capable of with just his hands and mouth made him shiver with longing. What he might be capable of doing with these simple items, what he could make Harry feel, made him almost faint with desire. Not looking at the man behind him, he nodded his assent. Snape couldn't move fast enough.
In between kisses and caresses, Snape slid the clothing from Harry's body. Turning Harry around, he pressed him close, hands moving over every inch of skin, lips leaving him breathless, finding each and every sensitive spot on his body, and paying homage to them with an almost religious fervour.
Pressing Harry down on the bed, Snape moved back, just out of reach. Harry attempted to coax him back but, with a laugh and a light kiss, he moved away.
Eye's never leaving Harry's, Snape ran his hands up his body, over his shoulders and around the back of his neck, loosening the hair tie he used. Shaking his head slightly he brought the mass forward. It had grown long, almost to the middle of his chest, the ends just brushing his nipples. Black as night and just as inviting. Harry remembered the feel of it brushing over his body. Remembered digging his hands into the silky mass in his ecstasy, urging his lover on.
Bringing his hands around to the front Snape started to slowly undress. The most accomplished courtesan couldn't have done a better job. It was a masterpiece of striptease. Harry clutched at the sheets and whimpered with the sight of each inch of place flesh coming into view, the removal of each piece of clothing. Eventually, naked, Snape rang his hands over his body one more, one hand teasing his nipples, the other slowly stroked down, wrapping eventually around his erection.
He stood for a moment, letting Harry enjoy the sight, before moving forwards and over Harry's prone body. Mouths clashed, limbs entwined, bodies rubbed against one another. Harry was well on the way to climax when Snape pulled away. He whimpered. "Please, don't stop".
But Snape wasn't stopping, just moving onto the next level. He urged Harry on to his knees. Kissing Harry breathless, he picked up the length of green silk on the bed next to them. Then, after reassuring Harry that everything would be alright, he tied it over his eyes. Moving around Harry again, touching him everywhere with petting gestures, he brought both of Harry's arms around to his back, "Only what you want." he said, tying his hands together.
Snape spent more time caressing the body in front of his, relishing it pliancy, kissing every inch of the bowed neck, caressing his inner thighs. Harry desperate for something, anything, to happen, grabbed at Snape's erection with his bound hands, rubbing it desperately. With a gasp Snape pulled himself away. "Ah ha, not yet, my love. Not yet."
He moved away, off the bed. Harry had never felt more vulnerable. He could feel Snape's eyes on his body, making his skin prickle, but the lack of touch made him feel cold. He wanted more. He was almost panting now.
"I'm here" Harry felt the bed move as Snape got back onto it, this time in front of him. Hands moved through his hair, holding his head steady as Snape kissed him once, a slick, wet, kiss, before urging him to bend slightly.
Mouth open, panting for breath, Harry was surprised by the brush of something hard and wet against his mouth. He licked unconsciously. He knew what it was. Years of tasting himself gave him the knowledge. "Please, Sev…" He wanted to taste more.
Snape was glad that his lover was enjoying this, craving it. Harry was staring to accept him. The slip he made by saying his name was telling. He granted Harry's wish and pressed the tip of his erection forward, giving Harry the opportunity to do what he will.
Moaning happily Harry licked lightly at the head, catching every drop. Then, wanting more, he took it into his mouth, sucking lightly. About halfway down he started choke. Snape pulled back, "Don't try for it all. That needs practice. Just take what's comfortable."
Knees wide, completely off balance, the only thing stopping him from falling flat on his face were his lover's hands. Strong and capable, and Harry was surprised to note that he trusted Snape not to make a fool of him in his vulnerability, not to let him fall, not to force him into too much at once but to gently hold him and let him lose himself in the act of giving pleasure to them both.
The soft mouth on him was driving him wild; there was more pleasure to be had in Harry's innocent caresses than in all the ministrations of other, more experienced, lovers. Snape couldn't stop himself from watching his flesh appear and disappear into that incomparable mouth.
"Do you want all of me?" he whispered. Harry nodded fervently, opened his mouth wider, sucked harder and was rewarded by the sudden pulsing of the flesh in his mouth and the hot spurt of liquid that washed over this tongue. Slightly bitter but sometimes bitter was better than sweet. He swallowed and begged for more.
"Oh no, not even I am capable of that again so soon." Harry felt Snape remove himself. He whimpered even more. His own body was hard and needy. "Don't worry. I've not forgotten about you. Just lie down." He helped Harry lie down on the bed, first untying his hands then, pulling each arm up, retying them to the bedposts. Then, running his hands soothingly up and down Harry's arms he said "Only what you want, remember!" Harry nodded, he had been a little apprehensive at being tied to the bed but, at Snape's words, murmured in a velvet chocolate voice, he relaxed.
Snape kissed down his chest, teasing at desperate nipples, nipping and then laving away the small hurt.
Moving downwards he slid one hand around the base of Harry's erection, one arm under his hips, lifting him up.
Harry gave a surprised shout when, expecting Snape's mouth on his cock, Snape bypassed it, licking then sucking on the tight balls underneath. He tightened his grip on Harry's cock, not wanting this to be over too soon.
Moving further down Snape bit lightly at the patch of skin directly behind, then licked, pressing his tongue firmly against him. Harry's back arched and he moaned uncontrollably. More, he need more.
Sensing Harry's need Snape moved even further down, hoisting Harry's hips even further into the air. He licked lightly over the entrance to Harry's body before delicately probing with his tongue. Harry's eyes rolled back in his sockets. Oh gods.
Enjoying the feel of the spasming hole around his tongue, Snape was reluctant to stop his play. However, he knew that Harry wouldn't last long and there was one other thing he wanted to do. He could leave this particular pleasure to another day, when he had more time to give it his full attention
The moan Harry gave at the loss was pitiful. Snape hurriedly moved upwards, kissing him, promising that, no matter what, he wouldn't leave Harry in this state for long.
All Harry could do was buck up, trying to find some sort of friction. Snape hurriedly opened the beside table and took out the lubricant.
Harry wasn't quite sure what was going on but he was desperate for Snape to do something, anything. The brush of the body over him and the feel of something hot and tight enveloping his weeping flesh caused him to shriek. O God, he was inside Snape, inside the dreaded Potions Master! Inside his husband! The feel of those tight walls gripping him, tormented him mercilessly. Snape only had to move a couple of times before the sensation overwhelmed Harry and he came, blacking out in the process.
Afterwards, worn out and, with a feeling of immense warm satisfaction in all his limbs, Harry was silent as Snape untied him and pulled away the blindfold. Pulling the covers over them he wrapped himself around Harry. A warm voice told Harry to sleep and Harry didn't resist the pull of the darkness.
The day before the dance.
Ron and Harry were outside in gardens. It was the only place they could get any peace. People had been Apparating in and out all day. The normally quiet house was suddenly full of people, most of who make Harry nervous. He didn't have his wand back yet, unlike Ron, and didn't like being unarmed in a house full of dark wizards. The fact that the majority of the people he had met had done nothing more threatening then bow to him before moving away just wasn't the point!
Another thing he needed peace and quiet for, was to puzzle through his feelings. The blend of love and hate, anger and rapture, uneasiness and comfort that centred on his husband.
His husband! He still couldn't believe it. He had a husband! Him! After he'd resigned himself to being alone! To never finding anybody who wanted just for himself. And who had it turned out to be? The one person he had thought hated him as much as, if not more, than Voldemort!
When he'd asked about it, Snape had simply looked back at him, eyes unreadable, before saying that he thought too much of Harry to even contemplate giving him a lesser position. He'd seemed quite upset that Harry had even considered such a thing.
Ron knew what Harry was going through. Had been through it himself. He smiled to himself as he remembered the trouble he had got into when he'd first been captured. His attempts to escape, both his imprisonment and his growing feelings. Draco had even had to resort to tying him to the bed at night so that he wouldn't try anything! Yes, it had been a rough first few weeks, but when Draco kept right on treating him like the most precious thing he owned, and had not reverted to the snotty bastard Ron had known before, he had started to realise more and more exactly what was happening and why he was there.
He opened his mouth to share some of this with Harry, when they were both distracted by the sudden "WATCH OUT!" and the sound of air being ripped apart.
Harry just managed to throw himself to one side before being winged by a passing broomstick.
"SORRY!" was shouted just before one of the maniacs pulled off an amazing stunt, coming around in 180 degree, flat spin, and stopping dead. It should have been impossible given the speeds they were moving at. The other rider wasn't so lucky and ploughed into one of the many Azalea bushes dotted around.
It was Oliver Wood. He had a Cheshire grin on his face and seemed very pleased with himself. "You two okay?"
By this time Harry had managed to drag himself up off the ground, "Are you mad! If you'd have actually hit me, I have been eating grass for the next fortnight!"
Oliver just smirked and then laughed outright. "Sorry, we were racing. Just got myself a new broom and `His Lordship' got in a right snit about it. He challenged me and, well, you know how I get about challenges!" Pausing, he looked around, "Speaking of `His Lordship', what the hell happened to him."
There was a general moaning and groaning as a figure detached itself from the bush. He attempted to right his clothing, snarling at the three of them all the time, before stomping across towards them. Both Harry and Ron had to bit their lips not to laugh at the sight of Marcus Flint, all round nasty bastard, with a pink Azalea bloom in his hair. They had to turn away eventually.
"You did that on purpose!"
Oliver just had a slight smirk on his lips. "I warned you. But *no*, you just had to get on an untried broom."
Flint mumbled to himself under his breath, then looked at Ron and Harry. "Weasley, Potter!" He said by way of acknowledgement, then went back to glaring at his mate.
The smirk on Oliver's face got even wider, before becoming seductive. He moved sensuously over towards his annoyed husband. One hip cocked out, he ran one hand over Flint's chest, before moving it up to his face. His other hand curled in the front of Flint's robes, pulling them both together. He leaned in and whispered into Flint's ear. Flint stared sightlessly over Oliver's shoulder, whatever he was hearing taking up his entire attention.
Moving back slightly, Oliver plucked the bloom from his husband's hair and ran the petals down his face before rubbing it against his own smiling lips, eyes never leaving Flint's, who had an expression of pure adoration and lust on his face.
Harry was amazed. He'd never have thought that two such unalike people could become so…
Ron was watching Harry watch the tableau in front of them. He had seen it before. He knew that it was Oliver and not Marcus that was top dog in that relationship. Oliver might be wearing the collar but the leash was firmly in his own hand.
"Marcus, love, why don't you go into house. I'm sure Severus and the others know we've arrived and will want to speak to you. And I have things I want to talk about with Harry and Ron as well."
Flint didn't seem too enthusiastic about it but, after another whisper, that had his whole body shivering, he took his leave.
Smiling softly, Oliver watched his husband cross the lawn. Turning back to Ron and Harry, his smile grew wider, "Well, hello. What's new in your lives then?"
Harry struggled with the diamond buttons on his new, satin, robe. They just wouldn't go in.
Full, sweeping sleeves reached to his knuckles at the front and almost touched the floor at the back. High neck, leaving just enough room for the collar to peek out. Bodice tight and well cut over his shoulders and torso, displaying his lean musculature, then spilling out over his hips and to the floor in lavish folds. It dragged behind him almost like a train. It was gorgeous.
That wasn't the problem. The problem was that it was green. Jade green to be exact, with shimmering threads of pure silver running through it. Slytherin colours. As if he needed reminding!
Muttering to himself as he tried to fasten the last button, he didn't take any notice of Snape moving into the room and coming to a halt behind him.
Dark eyes swept over him with appreciation. Damn, but his husband was beautiful. And those colours really suited him, brought out his eyes. Shame, he had such bad associations with them. Snape would have to make sure that his Consort wore them more often in the future.
Harry was just about to give up on the recaltrant button when arms came around him, "Let me". Long, supple, fingers made short work of the button and then came more fully around him, embracing him.
Harry looked up in order to thank his husband but was struck dumb by the sight in the mirror. He blinked. No, it couldn't be. But it was and the sight was already sending signals down to his rebellious groin.
Snape was dressed in a robe of a similar design to Harry's. High neck, tight bodice, fabric flaring over slender hips to swirl down the floor, but after that the similarity ended. It was made of velvet. Acres of velvet. Soft velvet, just begging to be touched and caressed. Red velvet. More precisely, crimson velvet. With a subtle golden tinge. It made his skin glow and his hair and eyes seem even darker.
With that hair loose around him, Snape was gorgeous.
Harry could do nothing more than nod, the expression on his face saying everything.
Snape smiled, his pleasure at his mate's appreciation more than enough to quell any minor qualms he had about wearing enemy colours.
"Then come. We're more than fashionably late now. It's time to make an appearance."
Harry was, once again, made aware of his discomfort. He really didn't want to be paraded around in front of Snape's allies. He looked away and fussed with his robe.
"Come now," Snape pulled him around, cradling his hands around Harry's face, "it's not that bad. It will be no worse than any of those diabolical events that Dumbledore used to saddle us with at regular intervals!"
Caressing cheekbones with his thumbs, he moved closer, bending until he was no more than a centimetre away from Harry. "I have to attend. I have no choice. Not if I want to keep control. And, unfortunately, as my Consort, you have to attend as well." He kissed Harry gently, "However, if you're that uncomfortable we can make it as brief as possible. No more than an hour. Then we can come back here and…" at this he bent and whispered straight into Harry's ear.
Harry closed his eyes and whimpered. Great, there was no way he was going to be able to face everybody now. Not with this erection! Everyone would be sure to know as soon as they looked at him!
Snape kissed him again, hands leaving his face and smoothing down the front of his body, coming to rest on his hips. "Ready?"
/Best get it over with then!/
Oliver was watching Snape and Harry dance. Snape had managed to cajole his consort onto the dance floor and now they were wrapped around each other. Their eyes never left the others. It was making him hot just to look at and he was sure the sheets were going to catch fire later on that night, not only in Harry's bed, but also in his own.
/Speaking of bed bunnies…here comes mine/
Flint arrived by his side, a fresh glass of wine in his hand, which he presented to Oliver with a slight flourish. "Here you are, my love."
"Thank you, Marcus." He sipped at the wine, eyes returning to the dancing pair.
Flint's gaze followed his. "They make a fine couple."
"Yes they do. It's amazing really. At school they were the last two people you would ever think could be good together!"
"Rather like us then." They grinned at one another.
Oliver was reminded of his capture and the months following it. It was before paranoia had become rampant and he hadn't been as carefully as perhaps he should have been. When he thought back, he knew that it had been ridiculously easy to subdue him.
Taken against his will, held by people he didn't recognise, he had been boiling mad at both the situation and his own stupidity.
It had been the sight of Snape that had brought him around.
However, if he had thought that his old school teacher would help him, then he had been quickly disabused of that notion. Snape had simply smiled at him. A real smile. That had been the most frightening thing about it.
Snape had then reached into a pocket and withdrawn a circlet of gold. Still smiling, he had passed the circlet to somebody else Oliver knew but had only just now recognised. Marcus Flint!
Flint had seemed a little unsure but had quickly placed the circlet, now recognised as a collar, around Oliver's neck. The sudden lassitude in his limbs did nothing to allay Oliver's fears.
Flint had looked at Snape who had gestured to the doorway, then he was pushing Oliver out the door and up a couple of sets of stairs before moving him finally into another room. Oliver had been too mad at the time to notice it was a bedroom.
"What the hell is going on? What am I doing here? What the hell is this?" he had gestured to the collar, trying to get it off, "How dare you even think that…mrph."
The last was cut off by the body shoving him against the wall and the mouth on his. Immediately, he had become compliant, his limbs loosening, but he had been too shocked to do anything but simply lie in Flint's arms.
The mouth on his has ceased to be demanding, instead become coaxing, begging to be let in. Then, as if sensing his utter lack of response, Flint had moved away slightly, looking straight into Oliver's eyes. His expression was faintly pleading, something that Oliver had never seen on the other man's face before. Oliver's expression never changed from blank shock.
Seeing that, Flint had suddenly turned and almost ran from the room, the door banging behind him.
Oliver had blinked, then slid down the wall to rest on the floor. /What the fuck…!"
After that, it had been weeks before Flint even attempted to kiss Oliver again. Months before anything else had happened. Instead, Flint had chosen to woo his mate with soft words and kind gestures. It was like he was a completely different person.
In the end Oliver had been very glad of it, if Marcus had attempted to do things the way Draco and Snape were then, very likely, he would never have fell in love with him.
"Hmm." He said coming back to himself.
Flint took hold of Oliver's spare hand, tangling their fingers together. He brought it up to his mouth, making Oliver smile. Then they sat, content to watch the others.
Title: Coils of Gold (3/?)
Feedback address: darkheart@t...
Rating/Codes: Most definitely NC-17 *he he*
Pairing: HP/SS, RW/DM (more at a later date)
Summary: The death of one Dark Lord brings about the rise of another. AU
Disclaimer: Not mine, boo hoo, sob. Belongs to JKR, lucky so and so. No profit, just sheer happiness and contentment at having such lovely playthings, even if I do have to give them back. No infringement, etc, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. Oooo, look at the pretty rabbits. Damn, time for my medicine again.
NOTE: I started this as a means to stave off boredom (and rabid plot bunnies) whilst I was off work ill and it seems to have grown from a snippet into an epic!!
NOTE2: Thoughts are indicated by / /.
A/N: If you like this, fantastic. If you don't, well, o.k. then, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. However, if not, why not??
Beta: The ever wonderful Pat (aka Lillian) for pointing out spelling mistakes and making suggestion for changes where people might have become confused. Any other errors are the work of the evil spell checker. It lulls you into a sense of false security before pouncing. Also to Nik for pointing out glaring plot errors. Ta chuck.
Warning: Slight non-con, hints of Dominance/Submission. Mpreg. Dedication: To all the lovely ladies (and gentlemen) who urged me to continue this and supplied me with pointers when my muse decided to go walkabouts.
The room was dark, candles dotted here and there, casting a feeble light over the lone occupant.
Dark head bent, eyes weary, mouth drawn in thin lines, furrows etched permanently between eyebrows drawn together in concentration.
A pale hand drew yet another book towards the figure, dislodging scrolls and crystals, potions and charms.
There would be no rest. Not until he was home. Not until he was safe.
The figure didn't flinch at the sound of the opening door. Light from the corridor outside streamed in, making tired eyes blink and water. They were blotted by a convenient sleeve before returning to their incessant work.
"You can't keep on like this. You'll wear yourself out. Then what will happen?" The voice was gentle, asking, but not really expecting any satisfaction.
"Not yet. Not until I'm done." It was a dead voice, thin and wispy. It sounded as if the only thing that kept it going was the knowledge that was just out of reach.
"You haven't eaten, or slept, for over three days! Let it rest! Just for a little while. Get your strength back, then carry on." At the sight of the pale, wasted, hand simply reaching for another scroll, the other person made an angry sound, "At least stop to eat. Look, I've brought food. Just have a little. Please."
The figure stopped, knowing that there would be no peace until the other had had their way. Nodding slightly in answer, a small smile briefly crossed features that barely remembered how, before it disappeared completely again.
There was a glad sigh, then a whispered conversation, before a house elf sidled into the room, heavy tray in hands. Nervously eyeing the other two, it placed the tray on a nearby table and then hurriedly left.
"You still make them nervous I see."
There was a small, bitter, laugh in reply.
After a few moments to make sure that his wishes were being complied with, the other sighed again. "Are you going to work all night again?"
"If I must. I'm close. So close. Just a little longer." A hand gestured at the mess on the table in front of them," It's here. I know it! I'll find it. Find them. Then we can all be together again. Safe."
"I know you miss them. We all do. And we will find them! But making yourself ill in the process will not help!"
Seeing that his words weren't making any impression the other gave up, throwing his hands in the air. "Very well, you can carry on. But just for tonight. Tomorrow you leave this room."
He wasn't leaving until he had, at least, some small sign that his words were being taken in. Seeing the small nod of acknowledgement, he sighed and turned to leave.
"Thanks, Sirius. I don't mean to be a burden to you. I just need to do this."
"You're welcome, Hermione. And you're not a burden. You're just as much family to me as Harry is. As Ron is. I love you all. And we will be together again. I know it!"
They smiled sadly at each other.
Harry was in Sev's private potions lab, helping out. Considering the fact that he had never really liked potions, and had thus never applied himself to the subject, under Sev's personal tuition he was getting quite good. He now had a greater appreciation of the ways in which each ingredient reacted with the others and why.
While his husband had cared for him, lavished affection on him, made sure he had everything he could ask for, Harry had been climbing walls with boredom a mere month or so after first being captured. He had many things he could be doing but nothing had appealed.
He could read to his hearts content, and did so – the library was a lure that reeled him in continually. He could ride his brand new broomstick, a `Lightning Bolt' Mark 1, (and boy, had he been both pleased and flabbergasted when the broom's makers had sought his permission to name their newest, and fastest, broomstick after him!).
He could spend time with Ron, although his friend seemed to be spending more and more time with Malfoy and, as Harry still didn't feel comfortable in Malfoy's company, he left them to it. They had even gone to visit's Malfoy's parents this evening.
The thought of having to sit down to dinner with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, and be polite with it, made him shudder. He was glad Sev's parents were dead. He still didn't think or feel Malfoy was good enough for Ron – but it was Ron's choice however and Harry didn't want to interfere.
He could even spend all day in bed if he wanted!
However, he was used to being around people, going where he wanted, when he wanted and the enforced seclusion of the estate was chafing at him. He had found himself wanting more and more to be in the company of his husband, his Sev.
His Sev! That was another thing that had changed. Over the last couple of months his husband's name had changed from Snape to Severus to Sev. He had the vague impression he should have felt more anxious at how…natural…the progression had been!
However, apart from his not being able to leave the grounds, Sev had not actually enforced any other rules. Had not ordered him to do anything, apart from that first time – and even that had only been to bring him across the room. He simply asked that Harry be there, in his life and in his bed, and in return he would give Harry everything he had ever asked for. Love, companionship, comfort, security, the knowledge that somebody would be there for him always. Someone who would never let him down. Never disappoint him. Never push him to one side and ignore him. Who appreciated him as Harry, not the Man- Who-Lived-Twice!
Harry had also figured out, much to his consternation, that the collar he wore only allowed his husband to ensure that Harry couldn't inadvertently harm himself or Sev in any struggle. All his actions and reactions, all his feelings, his lust and desire for the other man, were his own and always had been!
Oh yes, he was in deep, sure enough. The fact that Sev cared about him, that he was sure of. The fact that he cared about Sev? Well, he did. In a way. He just wasn't sure if it was a real emotion or something like that "Stockholm Syndrome" muggles were always going on about. He might just be sublimating his real feelings and covering them up with faked emotions to try and stay sane.
One thing he did know, Sev was never going to let him go. Never! You only had to spend one night in the man's company to know that. Utter strangers had told him how his husband looked at him when he wasn't aware of it. A blend of utter love and devotion on his eyes. But if it had been purely love and devotion then Harry might have had a chance at guilting his husband into giving him his freedom. There were other, darker, emotions coming to bear. Avarice and lust and a deep-seated jealousy of the rest of the world in their claiming of *his* Harry!
His husband was many things, conflicting things, generous and selfish, kind and cruel, warm and cold, vicious and gentle. He wasn't evil as such but he definitely wasn't good either. If anything, he was amoral, knowing what good and evil were but not choosing to have much, if anything, to do with them. Simply taking what he wanted, when he wanted. Well, you didn't get to be the Dark Lord by being nice, the hold he had over his cohorts testifying to that! He might be more understanding, and saner, than Voldemort, not as likely to kill or maim you on a whim, but you only got to disappoint him once!
Harry shivered in remembrance at the look of pure terror on the face of one such miscreant. What had been more frightening had been the unemotional and detached look his husband had given the poor soul back. It had been one Harry had been subjected to on many occasions whilst he had been at school, but notched up to the tenth power. Harry didn't know what had happened the man, and didn't ask, but he hadn't seen him since.
Harry had to admit to himself that, if he ever had to face his husband in battle he didn't think he would be able to win. He might be stronger, more powerful, but Sev was more crafty, more worldly, more likely to use any and all means to win. The thought of killing or being killed by his lover wasn't something he could bring himself to think about.
Coming back to why he was currently slicing and dicing various ingredients under Sev's stern expression, well the plain fact was that he had grown tired of being bored and had confronted his husband with a threat that if he didn't find Harry something, anything, to do, then Harry was throwing him out of their bed! Sev had blinked at this, and then smirked slightly, before guiding him down in the cellars and into his own potions room. That had been the beginning.
His husband had become Professor Snape again once they set foot in the lab and Harry really couldn't blame him. Harry had a bad track record with potions and letting him loose on potentially dangerous ingredients was not a good thing.
That had been a couple of months ago and, after a while, he began to appreciate the warm sense of peace and contentment that brewing a good potion could give you. Watching his husband glide around the room also did wonders for his libido.
His one bugbear was, why, oh why, did Sev insist on having a potions chamber in the cellar. Some ingredients couldn't bear the light he knew, but those could be got around with a few blacking out spells. There was really no excuse to keep him in the dark all the time! Humph, maybe it was just his husband! It wouldn't surprise him.
Harry finished cutting, slid the various ingredients into their jars and sorted them away, ready for use, before moving back to the worktable and cleaning his equipment. Another thing he had learned – *never* use the same knife on more than one ingredient! It tainted everything. Shame he hadn't known about it while at school but it did explain some of his more…explosive…creations. When he had confronted Sev about this snippet of information, his husband had merely said that the information was there for him to find, and if he had been truly interested in the subject then he would have found it! Harry had grumbled but had had to concede that point.
Turning, Harry treated himself to the vision of his husband, intent on his current concoction. Even dressed in goggles, thick gloves and an apron-like garment made from dragon hide, he was still gorgeous. He shivered, almost jealous of the potion, knowing what it was like to be on the receiving end of all that focused attention.
Sev must have know he was being looked at. "Get over here. The volatile stage has passed. You should be safe enough while I get out these things."
When he was sure that Harry was stirring the potion vigorously enough to his satisfaction Sev moved away and removed the heavy gloves and apron. Blinking, after removing the goggles, he focused his eyes on the lithe form of his husband, stirring first one way then the other. Sighing appreciatively, he turned and put the safety clothing away.
/Hmm, nearly done now/ Harry thought as he stirred, /just a few more minutes, and then…/ his thoughts were disturbed by the arms that crept around him and the feel of the hard body behind. His hand almost faltered before Sev's hand covered his and soft voice told him to "Keep on stirring." just before lips teased his throat with moist kisses.
/Oh gods/ Harry melted in the warm embrace, hand on autopilot. After a brief glance to show that everything was progressing as planned, Sev moved his hand back to Harry's waist, caressing him through his robes. Harry knew that Sev was a Master at Potions, had known for a long time, but now he came to the conclusion that his husband was a Master of seduction as well! He could concentrate on a potentially dangerous potion and drive Harry crazy with lust at the same time. Harry's eyes closed in bliss.
After a few minutes of sucking and kissing at the soft skin of Harry's neck, Sev lifted his head. Harry moaned with loss. Sev smirked at what he saw. Harry's hand had stopped stirring completely, just laying limply on the spoon. /Hmmm, almost done./ He thought with satisfaction, waving his hand to cause the flames underneath the simmering brew to go out, /It just needs to stew now./ He meant more than the potion.
Turning his attention to the needy young man in his arms, he whispered "I've always had a fantasy about taking you over a table in my lab, hard and fast, unable to get any purchase on the surface, giving me total control. Allowing me to do anything I wanted to you."
The breath hitched in his lungs at Sev's honeyed words and Harry didn't think he could get any harder if he tried. Moaning, he twisted around and caught his husband's mouth with his, opening lips to their widest, wrapping his entire body around that of the other man. Giving in completely.
/Well, that was different/ Ron thought to himself as he watched his husband pace up and down the bedroom.
They had just returned from the annual visit to Draco's parents. The large, echoing rooms and non-existant dinner conversation weren't something he would ever get used to. Malfoy Mansion, and it icy occupants, reminded him of the old legend of the Snow Queen and her home in the wastes of the Far North. If he had to spent any more time there he'd probably turn into an icicle himself!
He was far more used to the hustle and bustle of the Weasley household, where every dinner, tea and supper was a fight to get the best seat, the choicest food and to be heard over everybody else. He missed it. The sudden vision of Draco trying to keep his cool and arrogant persona in the midst of a typical Weasley Christmas made him snigger. Oh no, it would never happen.
"What's so funny?" The cool expression, the raised eyebrow and the icy voice was such a good impression of his uncle that Ron just couldn't keep it together any longer. He fell over on the bed, laughing hysterically.
"What? What have I done now? Oh, that just great. Laugh at me, why don't you!"
Ron tried to stem the streaming tears but he couldn't and gave up in the end, simply lying in he middle of the bed, arms around himself, giggling at the look of pure disgust on his husband's face.
Thinking his mate must have gone insane from the mind-numbing boredom of a family dinner Draco shook his head and moved off into the bathroom, tossing clothing to the floor as he went.
Ron's giggles quietened as he drank in the sight of his husband's nearly naked body moving away from him.
/Oh you don't get away that easily, I have something I want to talk to you about. Better now than never/.
A small, sadistic, grin on his face, he rose and padded into the bathroom after his husband.
Leaning against the open doorway, he waited until his husband was immersed in the water and totally occupied by the task of washing himself before he asked the question that had been bugging him all night.
"So, do you want to tell me why I've just spent two hours being, not so subtly, interrogated over when I'm going to supply the next Malfoy heir?"
Draco only just managed to save himself from drowning.
Harry had noticed that Ron had been distracted for the last couple of days. He'd stare off into space, unaware of anything going on around him. Waving hands in front of his eyes and shouting in his ear didn't had any effect and, in the end, Harry had had to resort to poking him in the kidneys, which was a rather ticklish spot on Ron, in order to gain his attention. Ron would then look round, smile vaguely, then his mind would wander off again.
It was all very off-putting and, combined with Malfoy turning up every now and then out of the blue, and dragging Ron off, it was making Harry's task of finding out what was wrong that much more difficult.
/I'll have to get him on his own soon and find out what the hell's happening. But not right now though! Oh yeh, just there…mmmmmm/
Harry was in heaven. Sitting astride Sev, head back in ecstasy. His own hands tightly gripping the bed head and Sev's hands on his hips the only things supporting him. All those hours of gripping hold of a racing broom with only his legs were paying off.
Moans, sighs and demands for "Harder…faster…now, damnit…" were the only thing that could be heard over the sound of wet skin meeting.
He'd been bored earlier, bored and horny. /Sod this, he's not the only one in this relationship. If I want sex now, I'll bloody well have sex *now*!/
Checking his appearing in a nearby mirror, he'd gone hunting. A predatory smile on his face.
Sev hadn't known what had hit him.
He'd been talking to one of his minions when something had flickered in the corner of his eye. Snapping his gaze upwards he was caught by the sight of Harry leaning against one of the open double doors, an unreadable expression on his face. He had waited until he had had Sev's full attention before giving a small playful smile, full of promise.
Everything else faded, the room, the other man talking in the background, nothing existed but his husband. His Harry.
The smile turned into a small smirk then Harry moved slowly away, down the corridor.
The other man must have thought he'd said something because suddenly he was talking to the back of a rapidly disappearing Dark Lord. He trailed off uncertainly. "I'll just wait here then. Shall I?" He never got an answer.
Harry had lead Sev through the hall, up the stairs and down the corridors to their bedroom, all the time never letting his husband get close to him. At every turn or junction he would look over his shoulder to smile, and then move on.
Sev was intrigued to say the least. Not as intrigued as he had been when he reached the bedroom though and Harry had launched himself into his husband's arms, knocking them both back against the door. Hands tight in dark hair, legs locked around Sev's waist, Harry only gave his husband a second to recover before taking possession of his lips in a passionate kiss.
They were both breathless when, a few minutes later, Harry broke the kiss. "Bed. Now," was all he said before they both moved across the room.
Sev had been astounded, and aroused when, his husband had rolled them both over until he was on top. Holding Sev's hands over his head, he had whispered silkily in his ear "Ah ah, my turn this time!"
Clothes had gone flying, buttons pinging, seams ripping, before Harry proceeded to drive his husband crazy with lust.
Which brought them to their current position.
Legs starting to burn, he speeded up his movements, bringing his head back down he opened his eyes to look deeply in Sev's midnight eyes. It was like catching fire. Neither could look away and, as their peak hit, each could swear they saw forever in the other's gaze.
The snuggling afterwards was just as good, in some ways better, than the sex.
/Perhaps I am resigned to my fate. I must be. I'd have never instigated sex a couple of weeks back. Will I get to the point where I don't even care?/ that prompted another thought, /What if I don't get rescued? What if I do? Will I even want to leave. Will they have to force me! Oh, gods, what am I doing?/
Harry pressed his face further into his husband's shoulder, causing Sev to wrap his arms more fully around him. "You're very quiet. Are you alright?"
"Yeh, just tired."
Sev rubbed his chin on the top of Harry's head, "Get some sleep. After that performance I have plans which are going to last all night."
/No more sex, no more intimate talks in the night, no more caring./
He knew Sev loved him. Loved him enough to kidnap him and hold him until he could convince Harry of his affection. Harry had got used to the attention. He didn't know if he could do without now.
Tracking down Ron was harder than he anticipated and it was a couple of days before he managed to corner his friend in one of mansion's many drawing rooms.
He was sat in front of the window, legs drawn up, nervously biting on this thumbnail and staring blindly down at the floor.
"Ron, are you alright?" Harry asked softly as he knelt in front of his friend, one hand reaching out to touch his shoulder.
Ron seemed to come to himself, frowning a little, eye sharpening on seeing his friend, "Hmmmmmm…oh hi, Harry. Yeh, I'm fine just….thinking. That's all."
"Whatcha thinking about?"
Ron's turned his face to look outside, "Oh, nothing. Nothing really. Just this and that." He turned back to see the worried expression on Harry's face, "I'm fine, really! Honest. Beater's honour." He held up his hand, the solemn expression on his face lasting about a second before he started laughing. Harry couldn't help grinning himself. It was infectious.
"You were never a Beater! Better off saying Person-Who-Sits-On-The- Sidelines, Jumping-Up-And-Down's Honour!"
"Oh ha ha, thanks a bunch."
Harry settled himself down more comfortably on the floor and watched Ron study his hands for a little while before sighing under his breath and looking once more out of the window.
"Is it Malfoy?"
"No, Draco's been fine, fantastic even."
"His family then, have they said anything to you! I know you've been to see them recently. Bastards. You're in a bad enough position as it is! I won't have them making it worse."
Ron smiled, "You always try to look out for me don't you?", he looked back down at his hands, "Its just…things have been said… No, not bad things," he hurriedly said on seeing Harry's expression, "don't think that. Just…uncomfortable things. That's all."
Harry caught Ron's hand before it made it's way back to his mouth. Ron couldn't afford to bit his nails any more, they were bleeding already. "What is it? Tell me. Please. I want to help. You can talk to me. You know you can. You always could."
Ron wondered if Harry was really ready to hear this but decided that, since he had asked… He took a deep breath and looked directly at his friend.
"Draco wants children."
Harry was thrown a little. "So. What's that got to do with you? Why doesn't he go and get himself a girlfriend? I'm sure there more than one woman out there who would be willing to overlook his, less than winning, personality."
Ron shook his head, wondering how his friend could be so dense. He knew Harry had been brought up in the Muggle world but still…
"He wants an heir, Harry. An heir to the Malfoy estates."
"Yes, an heir. And most old families tend to want their heirs to be legitimate."
"Legitimate," Harry still didn't fully understand what Ron was getting at, "O.K. then, why can't he go out and marry some woman then. He can have all the heirs he wants then."
Ron closed his eyes and shook his head, despairing of ever getting his friend to understand without spelling it out to him in words of not more than one syllable. "Harry, he's already married. To me. You do remember what this means, don't you?" he touched the collar around his neck.
Harry's eyes were drawn to it, his mind starting to work furiously. /Surely…He can't mean. No, it wasn't possible. Was it?/
He raised startled eyes to Ron's face, seeing the truth of the matter there. "But…you can't…I mean, you're a man. You haven't got the right…equipment."
"Are you sure you're a wizard? Honestly, there are ways around that you know. It's not common but it can be done. If you're willing to put up with a bit of pain and the like."
Harry couldn't get his head around it. Babies. Ron and Babies. Malfoy, Ron and Babies! Oh gods.
Ron was going on, "We've discussed it and…well…I said I'd give him my decision in a couple of days. I've always wanted kids and I do love him but…I don't know if I'm ready yet."
"He's not forcing you, is he. I'll kill him if he is." And damnit, he'd find a way somehow.
"No, he's been really sweet about it. It's his father mostly. You know, he's pressing him continuously. If it were left to Draco it'd probably be years before he even started thinking about it." He laughed in remembrance, "He even offered to bear them himself if I really didn't feel comfortable about it! Can you imagine it!"
Harry's mind boggled at the thought of Draco Malfoy, large as a whale, hormones raging, screaming for strawberry ice cream and pickled gerkins.
"Anyway, I just need to think things over. It's not the most ideal situation in the world but…well, you know." he left it hanging.
"How…I mean, what would happen?"
"Oh, well…there's spells and the like but the best way is a Hermaphrodia Potion. Bit uncomfortable while it's re-arranging your insides but it's the only way of ensuring that your extra…bits and pieces…don't suddenly go `poof'. Charms can be disrupted. Not a good idea. Potion's the best way and you can reverse it afterwards."
Harry realised that the best, only, person around here capable of brewing such a potion was… He looked at Ron questioningly. "Have you spoken with… I mean has he…does he…"
"He knows. Draco went to him first. Just to make sure everything would be alright. He was quite happy about it. Glad to help as far as I can tell. Why…oh you don't think he would want…?"
Harry didn't know what to think. His husband had known about this. And not shared it with him! If he helped Ron now, was that a sign that he might want children of his own in the future. With Harry.
"Relax, Harry. I don't think you have anything to worry about. Not yet, anyway. He'd ask first. Not force you into it. And if you don't want any, then fine. Anyway he has Draco for an heir. He doesn't need another one! Don't worry about it." Ron was holding on Harry, trying to get him to calm down. He was the one who should be worried, not Harry.
But Harry couldn't stop worrying. Suddenly everything was too much. He put his head on Ron's lap, hiding his face. Ron petting his hair, trying to calm him. Questions were circling in his mind. /What if he did ask? What would Harry say? He did want children. Always had. But he'd always pushed it to the side. Like his dreams of finding somebody to love him and only him. Now that one dream had been fulfilled would the other? Did he want it to be? Was he ready?/
Severus pondered on his relationship with his husband.
He knew Harry was not happy regarding certain aspects of his life, namely the collar and his lack of freedom. He briefly toyed with the idea of taking the enchantments off the collar, making it only a symbol of their marriage but quashed it almost immediately. No, not yet. Harry might run, and that was something Severus could not, would not, tolerate. Harry was his! Belonged only to him!
/No. I can't, *won't*, live without him. I've watched and wanted him all these years. Now I've got him, I'm not letting go! He's too good for anybody else. For any of those half-wits. They don't know or appreciate the real Harry, they only see what they want to see./
Everything would be better when he had taken over. When he was in control of the wizarding world. Part of Harry's reluctance to commit himself was the fact of Severus' mantel of `Dark Lord' and everything that came with that name. Having gotten rid of one Dark Lord, his husband wasn't happy having to submit to another.
Severus shook his head. No matter, in time Harry would see that things were better with him in charge. Then he would realise that Severus was only interested in his welfare.
He only needed time and patience in order to tighten his hold on his husband's heart.
Next to sex, basking in afterglow was the absolute best thing in the world.
Sweaty, sticky and utterly satisfied Harry ran a languid hand down Sev's back, making his lover give a small moan of pleasure and arch into the touch. Eyes closed he gave a murmer of disappointment as Sev slipped from his body but was content to lay there . Moist kisses were lavished on his neck and shoulders before moving down to capture a pink nipple, swollen and sensitive from earlier play. Sev nipped at the areole, making Harry gasp softly, before laving the entire nub with his tongue gently, then sealing his mouth over it, suckling.
Harry sighed with pleasure and moved his hand up to run his fingers though silky hair before curving them around the back of Sev's skull in an attempt to keep him there.
He'd purposely pushed all thoughts of babies, both Ron's and any that Sev might want with him, to the back of his mind. He'd deal with that when, if, it ever came up.
"You know, I read somewhere once that everything that you really, really, enjoy, is always really bad for you."
Sev released the morsel of flesh he was nuzzling, kissing it softly. "Hmmm. Really? Afternoon sex must be right at the top of the list then."
"Yeh, we really shouldn't do this anymore. It's probably taking years off our lives."
They grinned at one another.
Sev kissed Harry softly on the lips before saying "If I have to die then I want it to be when I'm inside you, when I'm making love to you."
Harry crinkled his nose, "I know you mean it in a nice way but, frankly, that is a very disturbing image."
Sev was about to reply when he suddenly stiffened, staring off into space for a second before moving off Harry so quickly he almost got whiplash. /Gee, was it something I said?/
Whispering a spell Sev dressed himself before throwing Harry's clothes at him. "Get dressed."
Harry stared at him for a second before the sound of wailing sirens cutting in told him what was happening. They were being invaded.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Get dressed. Now!"
Harry scrambled to get dressed. Sev impatiently waited at the door before grabbing him and hurrying them both down the hallway.
They rounded the corner only to hear the sounds of battle coming closer. Shouted curses and screaming filled the air.
Jerking Harry into a nearby room, Sev almost threw him across the room before slamming the door. Moving across to the fireplace Sev moved an ornament on the mantle. Stone scraped against stone as the whole fireplace moved, revealing darkness behind it.
"Come on," Sev grabbed Harry again, pushing him into the passageway beyond.
Harry moved forward blindly, before coming to a complete stop "Hey, this is a dead-end". He turned to see Sev standing in the light.
"Stay here. This place is shielded and can't be detected from the outside. You should be safe here."
"NO. Stay here. You don't have your wand with you. And I don't trust those bastards not to curse first and think later."
With that, the fireplace was slammed back into place and Harry was left in darkness.
Aurors meet dark wizards throughout the house, each side gain and then losing territory as the battle raged.
Draco held off a squad of Aurors at the top of the main stairs, hiding behind the parapet and firing off curses at random.
Hearing footsteps behind him he turned, ready to defend himself, only to find his Uncle moving into position behind him. Power poured off Severus. Almost negligently he picked off the Aurors in the hallway, making it seem effortless, before dragging his nephew back along the hall towards the main living area.
"Where are the others?"
"All over the house. We're holding them off but it's only a matter of time before re-enforcements come."
Severus could have been carved from stone. No emotion showed as he processed every possible scenario and outcome.
"Get everybody out. We can regroup later."
"Do what I say. This is just a battle. Not the war. We can afford to be generous for the moment. Let then think they've won. We have the upper hand. We know exactly what the other side are capable off. They don't have a clue about us. Now go, I'll cover you." He paused, "Get Harry out as well. He's behind the fireplace in the Blue Room."
Draco rested his hand on his Uncles shoulder for a second before running back down the corridor.
The sound of more Aurors charging up the stairs made Severus straighten, a frighteningly malicious smile playing on his features. No one was getting past him. He moved forward into the battle. The Aurors didn't stand a chance.
It must have been a good ten minutes since he'd been locked in the dark and Harry was starting to panic.
What was going on? Where was Sev? Was he hurt? Was he dead? What if he never came back. This place was shielded, if he didn't come back then no-body would know he was in here. He'd be left here, probably starve to death.
The last thought made his panic full blown and his fingers scrabbled over rough stones, trying to find a way, any way, out. He was in serious danger of hyperventilating when there was a quiet click and a chink of light fell across his face.
Pushing open the fireplace Harry fell onto the floor in front of it, battling to get air in his lungs. He turned onto his back, facing the ceiling, panting.
Loud shouting from outside brought him to his senses. He didn't know if it was Aurors or Sev's allies and he lay there frozen until the sounds moved away.
He had to get out of here. Get somewhere safe. Without his wand he was a sitting duck. But where…
/Ron!! Ron has his wand. I can get to him and we can wait it out together. I hope he's still here./
He moved to the door and pressed his ear against it, listening for the slightest noise. Hearing nothing, he opened the door slight and peeked through the gap. The hallway was deserted. He could hear the sounds of battle off towards the left but there was silence in the directions of the bedrooms. Jerking the door open he hightailed it down the corridor.
Five minutes later an out-of-breath Draco, wand drawn, edged his way into the room. On seeing the door ajar he has immediately thought that somebody had found Harry's hiding place. Hell, there might even be somebody in the room just waiting for his Uncle or somebody else to come back.
The sigh of relief on seeing the empty room became a groan as he spied the open fireplace and the empty space behind it. It could only have been opened from the inside as the ornament was still in place on top of the mantel.
"For Merlin's sake, Potter. Can't you stay put?"
He moved out after his Uncle's Consort. If the Aurors got to Potter first then it wouldn't be pretty.
Both Ron and Harry were barricaded in Ron's room. Screams and shouting, hexes and curses, the sounds of shattering furniture and shattering bones flew though the air outside.
They both knew that it would be very easy for the battle to spill over into the room and, restrained as they were by the collars, they couldn't really defend themselves. They might, probably would, get hurt in the crossfire. All they could do was wait it out and only venture out when it was safe to do so.
They looked at one another. That wasn't Sev or Draco.
The shouting got closer.
"HARRY, WHERE ARE YOU? RON, CAN YOU HEAR ME?"
They both scrambled to remove the barricade, opening the door slightly "WE'RE IN HERE!"
Sirius ducked a flying hex and slammed into the room, locking the door after him.
Turning he swept Harry in a tight embrace. "Are you alright? You're not hurt are you? Oh god, I've missed you. We all thought you were dead."
Harry was almost crying with relief, "I'm fine. We're fine. How did you find us?"
"No time for that," Sirius was rifling though his pockets, "Come here, I need to get you both out. The Aurors can mop up the dregs." He fished out a battered tin.
Ron moved forward, eager to be away from here but Harry suddenly remembered something, "Wait, we can't leave the…/grounds/" the last was lost as Sirius swept them both us and activated the portkey.
The tearing, pulling sensation as they ported out was overwhelming, made worse by the activation of the collar's reaction to leaving the vicinity of it's master. Heads pounding, stomachs heaving, it was probably best that both Ron and Harry lost consciousness on way.
To say that his Uncle was livid was mild in the extreme.
Draco shrank back in his seat. He didn't want to gain his Uncle's attention if he could help it.
The anger alone had been bad enough but the worse than that had been the disappointment which had flickered across his Uncle's features momentarily at the news that both Harry and Ron had been taken, before his expression froze with cold fire.
One of the others was currently taking his life in his own hands, "We still don't know how they found us. The wards…" he trailed off, growing pale at the venomous look directed at him.
"I know. I know exactly. Dumbledore is more cunning than I gave him credit for. More cunning or simply more stubborn." This was said in a hissed, deadly, voice. "No matter, he's made a mistake. A bad mistake. He's taken what's mine. Now he shall reap the whirlwind."
He whipped around, one long finger pointing directly at Draco, "Get yourself to Hogwarts. Contact our associate. I want to know every little thing that goes on. And don't disappoint me again." Draco would have curled up even smaller in his seat but his pride wouldn't let him.
"You," another gesture to the others, "Gather everyone loyal to us. There's no need for subtlety any longer. We strike now. While they're still blundering around."
"But, we're not ready…" it was the suicidal fool again.
"I'm ready. I've been ready for years."
"Even sending out the call now, it'll take a couple of days to gather everyone." Draco spoke in a low voice, "They'll have their defences up and running by then. They'll know we're coming." Sod pride, they would be walking right into a trap,
Severus gave a shark's grin. The others shrank back. "They might know we're coming but they still don't know who we are. Who I am! And I have a couple of very big surprises up my sleeve. We have time. We wait until the others get here. Then we shall see. Now go! All of you!"
The others left quickly, leaving only Severus and Draco in the room.
Draco stood slowly and moved across to a side table. "Drink?" he asked, lifting a decanter.
Severus didn't look at him, choosing to stare out the window, eyes hooded. He nodded.
Draco poured two glasses of Firewhiskey, then presented one to his Uncle, before sitting back down.
"Do you think it wise to show our hand so early?" he said, staring into his drink.
His Uncle stirred slightly before looking back at Draco.
"I would have preferred to hold back for a little longer but no matter, we are as ready as we will ever be. We have a little time before they know whom they're dealing with. If we leave it …" he didn't need to say what would happen.
Draco nodded, he had, belatedly, remembered the properties of the collar his husband wore.
"You think they can break the spells?"
"Dumbledore can. Given time. He's a wily bastard. But it will take a few days."
"You don't think they'll betray us?" Draco was desperately worried about his husband, given the…delicate…state he was in at the moment. He missed Ron, wanted him back where he belonged. With Draco. He was also realistic enough to realise that after Ron has tasted freedom he might want to keep it and that might mean telling Dumbledore and the others who they were.
Severus sighed, long hands rotating his glass. He hoped that Harry loved him enough to keep silent but he wasn't sure. He knew his love would be torn by shifting loyalties and unsure of the best thing to do. He would be vulnerable. Dumbledore and the others would be sure to take advantage of that vulnerability.
"I don't know. They may or they may not. They haven't been with us long enough to ensure their complete loyalty. And they've been under the influence of Dumbledore since the beginning. Trusted him implicitly, even when he put them in danger. Even if they don't tell, they may be tricked into it. We can't take the chance. We move as soon as possible and secure both the Ministry and Hogwarts."
Draco knocked back the remains of his drink, then rose, putting his hand on his Uncle's shoulder. They looked at one another, each aware of the other's feelings, of the desire to have their husbands back with them. Draco nodded then left his Uncle to his brooding.
"Why won't they wake?" Sirius paced worriedly around the bed, then threw himself in a chair and took up Harry's hand with his own once again.
"Put quite simply, they can't. They are being kept under by magical means. A way to stop them from escaping, I suspect. You can't get far if you can't stay awake. Most ingenious really." Dumbledore seemed impressed with the enchantments placed on the two young men in question.
Sirius growled, his angry gaze drawn to the collar his Godson wore. He didn't dare touch it again. Being thrown across the room once was more than enough. His hands were still stinging. "Can't you take them off? I can't stand to see Harry like this."
Dumbledore sighed. Sirius was so impatient sometimes. "I'm sorry but no. Not yet. As you found out so…forcefully…before, we can't touch the collars. Not with our bare hands. They've been enchanted against that by their creator. I suspect only they can touch the collars with impunity. That leaves trying magic in order to break the spells on the collars, and that will take time." He purposely left Sirius in the dark about the other, more intimate, properties of the collars. Sirius was foolhardy at the best of times, and the knowledge that his Godson had been forced into a marriage that couldn't be broken would surely tip him over the edge. No, it was best to wait until both Harry and Ron were awake.
"How long?" Sirius pushed the hair off Harry's face, resting his hand against his Godson's cheek for a moment, relishing the hard truth of his existence. He honestly thought when first Harry had disappeared that he was dead. Now he had him back he wanted him whole and awake and that meant getting rid of that…thing!
"A week. Maybe more."
"A WEEK!!" Sirius' fury escalated again, "Harry… and Ron… have been gone for months! Being forced into Merlin knows what atrocities! Not able to escape by themselves! And now you tell me we have to wait a week before we can get them back!"
"Sirius! Be quiet!" Dumbledore put a small amount of `Command' behind his voice. He wouldn't have this childish display of pique. On seeing Sirius calm somewhat he went on, "It will be a week at least. That can't be helped. The enchantments are too powerful. Too unknown. I don't want to tamper with them too soon and risk harm to Harry and Ron. They are in a delicate enough position as it is! Shouting and getting upset will not help."
"No," Dumbledore rode over the top of Sirius, "we do this my way. Slowly. Any quicker and we risk losing them both."
Sirius shuddered, holding Harry's hand more tightly. He didn't want to risk losing him again but he wished…
Dumbledore put his hand on Sirius' shoulder. "I know, dear boy. You want him awake. Able to tell you he's alright. And he will be. Both of them will be. Soon."
Sirius bowed his head, anger receding at the concern in Dumbledore's voice. He knew that caution was the best way but he had never been the cautious type and the inactivity chafed at him.
Dumbledore squeezed his shoulder comfortingly before moving across the room to Madam Pomfrey who has signalled her desire to speak to him.
"He's right you know," came a quiet voice from the next bed. "We can't risk losing them because of impatience." It was Hermione. Like Sirius, she was holding one of Ron's hands. It didn't look like she would ever let go again. She had been the first to the Infirmary and had, quite simply, refused to leave, even when Madam Pomfrey had threatened her. Eventually, a compromise had been reached and she was allowed to sleep on the bed next to Ron's but she spent every second awake hovering around her two sleeping friends.
She sighed, looking down at Ron's face, "But I know how you feel. I was so worried about them. I couldn't sleep without dreaming about them, wondering what was happening. What horrible things might have happened to them, might still be happening to them! And now we have them back we can't tell them how much we missed them. How glad we are to have them back." Suddenly, it was all too much for her and she broke under strain and worry of the last months.
Sirius was up from his chair, with his arms around her, before the first tear hit the bed. He rocked her comfortingly as she cried tears of pain and joy and release.
"You wanted to see me, Poppy?" Dumbledore could see that she look quite perturbed. And if the unflappable Poppy Pomfrey was perturbed about something then it was bad news indeed.
"Ah yes, Headmaster. Please come with me."
She led them both in a small room on the side of the infirmary. It was normally used for patients who needed more intense care taking.
On closing the door behind them, she turned to face the Headmaster, a look of unhappiness on her face.
"It is as we feared." She didn't need to say anymore, Dumbledore knew exactly what she was talking about.
"Ahh. Both of them?"
"Yes," she paused slightly, "Fortunately, it seems that they haven't been subjected to…harsh…usage. Whoever had them was careful not to hurt them, but there are signs of regular…activity."
Dumbledore was relieved that they hadn't been harmed, which was something to be grateful for, but rape was still rape. "Did you manage to get samples?"
"Yes. Not enough to tell us who it was but enough to indicate that it was only one person who had access to them."
"Access to both of them?" That couldn't be right!
Poppy laughed nervously, "Oh no. A different person for each of them."
Ahh, that made more sense. "Hmmm. Well, considering the collars they both wear it makes sense. A person going to such extreme lengths wouldn't want to share with anybody else."
"Are they really married? I heard about the collars before but I've never seen one."
"Yes. Unfortunately. And that is the one bond I can't break. Only the person who put the collars on them can do that!" he shook his head and sighed, "I'm afraid it can't be helped. We will have to work through this with them in the future," he rose, "I suppose I should get back. I need to get started on breaking the enchantments. The sooner they wake the better." /and the sooner I can find out who is behind all this/ Dumbledore kept this thought to himself.
"Yes, I can only do so much while they're like this. If they sleep too long they'll start to deteriorate. And if you can't wake them then they can't eat or drink and I'll have to use more… invasive… methods."
"Precisely. Was there anything else?" He sat back down at the indecisive expression on Poppy's face.
She had agonised over this but, having already broken patient confidentiality, she decided that the Headmaster needed to know this one more thing.
"It's Mr Weasley. He's been…changed."
"Changed! In what way?"
"Well," Poppy hesitated then mentally girded her loins and ploughed on, "he's developed certain…parts…that he didn't have before. Female parts."
On seeing Dumbledore's confused expression she went on, "I've only ever seen this once before. When I was just starting my Mediwizard training. It's very rare, and can only be done in one way with any degree of safety. It means ingesting a Hermaphrodia Potion."
Dumbledore mulled over this new information in his mind. He knew the method that Poppy was talking about. If, as she said, Ron had been subjected to this change then there were only a few people on the world capable of making such potion. There were Master potion makers and then there were Master potion makers and the only one Dumbledore could bring to mind who had the skill needed to make such a delicate and dangerous potion was one who had disappeared over a year ago.
"Are you absolutely sure it was the potion and not a charm."
"Positive. There are still traces of it in his bloodstream."
"Then you know what this means, don't you?"
She nodded "Severus is still alive."
"Most likely, and most likely in the same position as Harry and Ron were. Unable to escape, forced into doing things he doesn't want to."
"Oh, the poor man," Poppy was one of the few that had genuinely liked the dour, dark, Potions Master, and the thought of him in such a position was distressing to her.
Dumbledore was struck by another thought. If Ron had been changed in the way he was then was he…"Is there anything else you want to tell me, Poppy? About Mr Weasley and his condition?"
She looked up at him and smiled sadly.
"…and Dumbledore still hasn't managed to wake them yet?"
"No, not according to our source. He's getting closer though."
It had been four days since the raid on the Mansion and Severus' forces were almost ready to strike. Only a couple of more days were needed to put in place the final touches.
"The longer they sleep the better it will be. If we can gain access to them before that fool manages to break the enchantments then he'll never have a chance to poison their minds against us! It will also give us a certain element of surprise."
Draco watched his Uncle stride around the room, deep in thought. /By Merlin, I hope we can get to them before they wake. I don't fancy having to fight for my husband all over again. Not that he isn't worth it!/ He smiled at the memory of his impulsive and mischievous, not to mention sensuous and loving, Consort. Gods, how he missed Ron. Missed curling up around him at night. Missed feeling him underneath, on top, and wrapped around his body. Draco even missed all those little annoying habits his husband had, like leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor after using them and screaming abuse at the Wizard Radio they had whenever there was a Quidditch match on. As if they could actually hear him! He also had an annoying habit of never picking up after himself. Ah, well, that's what house elves were for after all!
And he knew his Uncle felt exactly the same way about his husband.
"Don't worry. We'll get them back. And even if they've been turned against us, which I doubt, then we need only be as patient as we were before and they'll come around again."
Severus smiled. Even in the worst case scenario he could come up with, the one where Harry hated him and hated living with him, having been totally taken in by what Dumbledore and his Godfather had told him, he knew that, with time and patience, he could get his lover back. And even if it could never be the same as it was before, he would still have his husband. He would never, could never, give him up.
However, he knew that the longer Harry and Ron were with Dumbledore then the harder it would be for them to accept their fate as Consorts to the ruling Dark Lord and his Second in Command.
The amount of power Dumbledore was putting out was staggering. Energies, both visible and not, swirled and coiled around him and the figure on the bed. Tendrils of magic probed lightly at the collar around the figure's neck, before worming there way gently, oh so gently, into it. It wouldn't do to move too quickly. One false move and the collar's defences would kick in and he would have to start all over again. The sweat was beading on Dumbledore's forehead, the expression of utter concentration on his face was so intense it was frightening and certainly none of the witnesses in the room had ever seen the like before.
"How much longer? It's been an hour already!" Sirius whispered sideways to his mate. He didn't want to disturb Dumbledore but was fretting over the amount of time it was taking.
Remus simply shrugged, "It will take as long as it takes," he said simply, eyes never leaving the bed.
Apart from Madam Pomfrey and Hermione, they were the only other people in the infirmary. Indeed, Madam Pomfrey had tried to escort them out with the rest of the Weasley clan and other assorted well- wishers before the Headmaster had started but all three of them had firmly stated they weren't moving. Harry and Ron would need them. Madam Pomfrey had only acquiesced when Dumbledore had stated he didn't mind them being there but they must be quiet. The stern glance he gave them was enough to remind them that serious and exacting work would be performed and no distractions would be tolerated.
"Why's he doing Ron first?" It wasn't the first time Sirius had brought this up. In fact he'd made quite a nuisance of himself over it. "Why not Harry?"
Remus arched an eyebrow, not replying. He knew his mate was anxious and the constant whispered questions were his way of coping with the stress. He also knew the reasons why Ron was first, couldn't help but know with his background. He had known since the first time he had visited the sleeping pair. Ah, hormones. It was good to have a werewolf's nose sometimes.
Besides he knew that Sirius wouldn't be very happy with his explanation of the situation. If he knew everything it would only make him worry more. No, ignorance was bliss in this case.
A sudden movement over at the bed caught his eye and, looking over, he elbowed Sirius to get his attention.
The swirling energies were concentrated around the collar. They seemed to pulse, tightening then relaxing around the metal, each pulse making the energies more concentrated. Everyone jumped slightly as Ron convulsed against the sheets, his face screwed up in what might be pain, a low moan issuing from his mouth.
Remus quickly put his hand on Sirius' shoulder when he saw his mate about to move forward, "No, you'll get hurt. Let the Headmaster deal with it." Sirius relaxed a little but his muscles were still tense. Remus moved behind him, hands on his shoulders, kneading and soothing.
The moan escalated quickly into a wail. Ron thrashed in the bed, held down only by Dumbledore's hands on his arms. The energies around his neck pulsed again then suddenly disappeared completely into the collar, which began to glow, faintly at first, but then more and more brightly. It finally grew so bright that the others had to shield their eyes, straining to see what was happening between slitted fingers.
There was a piercing shriek accompanied by a sound reminiscent of breaking glass. The light suddenly got brighter before seeming to explode in a supernova around them. The whole room shook, causing the windows to rattle. Beds creaked and shifted. Wheeled trolleys careered around the room, smashing into one another. A pile of trays on a table by the door fell to the floor with an almighty crash. Magic more powerful than he had ever felt sleeted though Sirius' body and he held on to Remus for dear life. This went on for what seemed like forever but was probably no more than a second or two.
Gradually the energies dissipated around them and, finally, they were able to look up and see what was happening.
Dumbledore, grey with exhaustion, was bent over Ron, checking his vital signs. He sighed with relief and then motioned Madam Pomfrey over. She fussed and clucked over them both before waving the Headmaster away somewhat perfunctorily so she could deal with her patient.
Remus was the first to the Headmaster, catching him before he could fall, and both he and Sirius guided him to a nearby bed, laying him down. He was more pale than grey now but the lines on his face were more pronounced and he looked every inch his age.
"Here, give him this." This was the first time Hermione has spoken. She handed a bottle to Remus, "It should bring him around for a little while."
Remus held the bottle of Pepper-Up Potion to the Headmaster's lips and urged him to drink a little. When the steam had cleared the Headmaster looked a lot better and was able to sit up.
"Well, that went well I'm glad to say." He said somewhat jokingly.
"Well, well!! It almost killed you!" Sirius was overreacting again.
"Oh no, my dear boy. It was tiring. Very tiring, but no-where near to killing me. The wards were more complicated than I anticipated, that's all. Whoever created them was very powerful and very clever. I'm impressed. Very impressed. Almost jealous in fact." On seeing the looks directed at him he only smiled slightly and adjusted himself against the pillows.
Hermione had wanted to rush across to the bed as soon as the breaking spell had been completed but had been held back by the somewhat murderous glance that Madam Pomfrey had sent her. She watched as Ron was tucked into the bed like a child, curled around a pillow, the only thing showing was his mop of bright hair. Then she turned to the Headmaster and asked the question they all wanted to know, "Why is he still asleep?"
Dumbledore looked at her seriously, "It took a lot out of both of us to break those spells. He's bound to sleep now. But don't worry, it's a natural sleep and he should awaken fairly soon."
"It took both of you!"
"Why yes, the spells were bound around him, bound to him. I needed to access his own energies in order to break them. You didn't realise this?"
"No. But, to access somebody else's power! That's dark magic, especially when they can't give you permission!"
"Child, there was many things you do know and many things you do not. Yes, it can be dark magic to tap somebody else's power, especially if you want to drain them entirely, but just to borrow a little in order to help them, well, it's not light but it's certainly not dark. Somewhere in the middle. But then life isn't black and white, now is it?"
Hermione was disturbed by this revelation. She knew that the Headmaster had only wanted to help and, in a purely intellectual way, was fascinated with the way he had done it, but in her heart she couldn't help but feel it was somewhat wrong.
"Miss Granger, if Mr Weasley were awake and aware of what was happening do you think he would have objected to me using his own inherent power or would he have freely granted me permission."
"I suppose…if he was awake and knew you were trying to help him then he would probably have let you, but I'm still not comfortable with it."
"And you shouldn't be, child. Tapping into somebody else's power is a test of strength, both mental and physical. It can quickly become addictive and if you're not careful…well, lets just say that there have been more than one dark wizard created that way. They started out with all good intentions and just got lost on the way. Never forget, it's somebody else's life you have your hands. Treat it as you would your own but never presume that you own it. Spells of this nature are not to be undertaken lightly."
Hermione felt somewhat better at this. She smiled and Dumbledore patted her hand, glad he could settle her mind somewhat.
Madam Pomfrey bustled over. Pushing Sirius and Remus, out of the way, she put her hand to the Headmaster's brow. Frowning slightly, she pulled out her wand and mumbled a spell under her breath. Light shimmered over the Headmaster, swirling in patterns only she could read. Whatever they said only made her frown harder.
"Your energy levels are dangerously low, Headmaster. The Pepper-Up Potion will only keep you awake for so long. You need a good long sleep." She motioned to a nearby cabinet whose doors opened to let three bottles fly out. "Take these. All of them!" she said on seeing the somewhat mutinous expression on the Headmaster's face. /Drat That Man! Thought he knew better then her! He was just so…so…male sometimes!/ "Then go to bed and sleep. I'll call in on you later." She tapped her foot impatiently, "Well, go on!" Her expression was forbidding.
"I'll help him, Madam Pomfrey." Hermione hurried to help Dumbledore to his feet and out of the Infirmary.
"I suppose you two want to stay don't you," she directed the question at Sirius and Remus, who prudently stayed silent, "And I suppose all the others will want to come in as well!"
They both nodded at the diminutive woman, eyes wide.
"Humph, as long as they're quite. Any noise, any at all and you're all barred. Is that understood?"
"Good." She bustled off.
Sirius looked at his mate, "That woman is very, very, frightening. We should just send her to the Dark Lord. He'll be begging us to kill him within a week!"
Remus watched the mediwizard for a little longer then shook himself, "Come on, lets tell the others the good news."
"He's managed to break the wards on Ron's collar."
"Damn, has Ron woken yet?"
"No, but it's only a matter of time."
"With the amount of energy needed from both of them, and Ron's condition, we should have a day or so. Harry?"
"As soon as he is able."
"Hmm, that will leave him serious depleted. Dumbledore, sometimes you're too clever for your own good."
"Of course it's good. Dumbledore is the only serious competition I have. With him out of the picture it will be that much easier for us."
"What should we do in the meantime?"
"Everything's in readiness?"
"Then we wait, of course."
It was so warm and cosy he never wanted to wake up. He sighed and turned over, pulling the covers over his head, burrowing further into the pillow. Something was missing though and it was this absence that kept him from fully surrendering to sleep. He could sense people around him but not the presence that he desired. He shivered, feeling the absence even more keenly.
"Harry! Come on Harry, wake up."
/hmm, no, not yet, need him, where is he?/ The figure on the bed stretched out an arm, searching. The feeling of a hand taking his made him purr and he pulled the other appendage under the covers, rubbing it with his cheek before tucking it under his chin.
"That's it Harry, wake up. Come on, you've slept long enough."
Another hand was stroking through his hair, brushing it away from his face, and the sleeping figure became aware that both this hand and the one he clutched hold of weren't the ones he wanted. They were too broad, fingers not long enough or slim enough, skin calloused not smooth.
He frowned and opening his eyes, saw a hazy shape in front on him. Blinking away sleep he squinted until the shape came into focus.
It was Sirius, blue eyes full of concern and joy.
Harry frowned, blinking owlishly from the bright light streaming in through the windows, not understanding where he was for a moment, before memories crowded in. Running from the Aurors, dodging curses and hexes, finding refuge with Ron and then being found by his Godfather. And then the final memory of pain and nausea as he was spirited away.
He launched himself at Sirius, desperately needing the comfort of the other's touch, his mind beset with conflicting emotions of relief at being rescued and anguish at being taken away from his lover, joy at seeing his Godfather again and sadness at the thought of never seeing his husband again.
"Finally, I though you were going to sleep the rest of your life away." Sirius blinked away tears, his own mind only registering the joy on his Godson's face. It mirrored his own.
He never saw Remus shaking his head at the side of them, watching them both.
After a good ten minutes of clinging to each other Harry felt ready to face the rest of the room. He turned his head, which was still tucked under Sirius', to face Remus who smiled at him.
"Glad you're back Harry. Now he can stop nagging me and start nagging you again." He winked. Harry giggled. Sirius scowled and then smiled happily.
"Welcome back, my boy." Dumbledore grinned from his perch at the bottom of the bed.
"Harry! I've missed you." Hermione tugged him out of Sirius' arms and into her own. He went gladly as he had missed her the most after his Godfather. She pulled back, tears streaming down her face, "Don't do that again!" She wagged a finger at him. He grinned at her mock serious expression then pulled her back into an embrace, before looking over her shoulder at the other people on the room.
There must have been dozens, every one welcoming him back. People he knew from school. People he knew from the Ministry. Every last member of the Weasley clan, even down to Percy. The gods only knew how they had managed to drag him away from his desk.
The Weasley's…that meant. He looked at the bed next to his, pushing Hermione away gently as he did. Green eyes met blue.
They grinned at one another before Harry slid, somewhat wobbly out of bed and moved to embrace Ron.
They clung to one another, each secure in the knowledge that they weren't alone in this, that the other knew what they were feeling, however confusing those feelings were.
Harry let Ron sink back into the pillows and frowned. He looked white. Harry, himself was a little shaky but Ron look ill.
"Are you okay Ron. You don't look good." He looked to Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore for answers.
"Ah well, there were complications in Ron's case, Harry. Nothing too serious," he added on seeing the worry on Harry's face, "it's just wasn't as clear cut as in yours."
"Complications? What complications?"
Dumbledore explained what he had done to break the wards on the collars they wore, saying that as Harry's had a more extensive well of internal magic than Ron he could draw more on it without side effects. However, he had had to use quite a lot of Ron's power, "It's left him running on empty, for want of a better phrase. And there were other complications as well." The look Dumbledore sent him, as well as the sudden stony expression on Mr Weasley's face and the weepy look on Mrs Weasley, was enough to give Harry an idea of what was going on.
He looked back at Ron, who shrugged, then smiled sheepishly.
"Oh Ron." He sighed. The uncomprehending faces on the majority of the other people, as well as on the majority of the Weasley family, told him that this was not news that needed to become public knowledge. If Ron wanted them to know he would tell them himself.
Deciding to change subjects he asked the question which was burning foremost in his mind, "How long were we asleep?"
"Just under a week. Longer for you. I managed to break the spells holding Ron under a couple of days ago."
/A week! A week since they had been rescued! What had happened to the others? What about Sev? Draco? Had they been captured? Were they dead? No, they couldn't be dead. Sev was too canny for that. And he wouldn't let anything happen to Draco. Poor Ron, he must be going frantic with not knowing. Just like me./ Harry wanted to know what had happened during the raid but couldn't ask, not with all these people around. Later, when he could get the Headmaster on his own. Better yet, his Godfather. Sirius wouldn't be as suspicious as Dumbledore at his questions. Better change the subject again.
"How did you find us?"
"Ah, well, unfortunately I can't claim responsibility for that. That was entirely due to Miss Granger's unceasing efforts." Dumbledore stood back and let Hermione explain.
"Mione! What did you do?"
She moved across and took both of their hands, the others moving slightly away from them to give them more room.
"After Ron disappeared," she said, squeezing Ron's hand, "I couldn't stand the though of losing you both so I put a tracking spell on you, Harry. Just in case. I couldn't put it on anything you might lose or take off, so clothing was out of the question and as you don't wear jewellery, that wasn't any good either. I eventually had to anchor it to you directly. Just don't ask how. The explanation would take us forever. I just wish I'd thought of it before Ron…" She started crying again and both Ron and Harry took her in their arms, rocking the sobbing young woman.
"Shush, it's alright now. We're both safe. Shush." Ron tried to comfort her, letting Harry ask the questions.
"If I had a tracking spell on me, why did it take so long?" He directed this to Dumbledore.
"Ah, that the question isn't it. I think that a little more privacy is warranted, don't you."
There was much grumbling at being evicted from the Infirmary but eventually everyone bar Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus, Hermione, Madam Pomfrey and one or two other people who were Senior members of the Order and the Ministry were left. Mr and Mrs Weasley also refused to leave. Ginny, George and Fred were adamant that they would be staying as well but one look from their mother sent them scurrying from the room. Ron looked after them with a amused smile, he knew exactly what it felt like to be on the end of one of their mother's infamous gimlet glares.
After the doors closed they all looked expectantly back at the Headmaster. He paused for a second, frowning slightly over how to start what would be an explanation that would, at best, cause consternation and, at worst, feelings of anger and a desire for retribution. He only hoped that Remus could keep a tight hold on his mate.
"The tracking spell worked well enough on it's own. The fact that Miss Granger managed to anchor it directly to you was a stroke of genius on her part. However, the wards you were under, amongst other things, caused the spell to become more diffuse. Almost drowned out by the noise of all the other magic's around you. It like a dripping tap in a room far away. You use your senses to ascertain which direction the noise is coming from and then you go hunting. Eventually you'll find the drip. A tracking spell is something like that. You tune into the specific thaumalogical wavelength and then trace it back to its source."
On seeing everybody nod their understanding of this, although Sirius' eyes were a bit glazed, he continued, "The wards you were under caused a disturbance around you. Instead of having a single noise we could track, the spell was confused by other magic's. We could figure out the general direction but could not fine tune it."
Harry nodded his understanding, "Instead of having a single dripping tap you had many, coming from all directions." He looked at Dumbledore for confirmation.
"Yes, or a single drip in , say, the cellars. Down there sound can be deceiving and a single noise can echo forever. You'd end up hunting in a completely different direction and, in the end, never find the source."
"How did you find us then, if it was so difficult?"
"That was Miss Granger again, she refused to give up. She must have spent hours and hours in the library and them more time experimenting. We had to force her to eat and sleep sometimes. But in the end she did it. And provided valuable research material for future generations." He smiled proudly at the young woman, still prone in Ron's arms. She had stopped crying but was content to stay where she was.
Harry and Ron both hugged her again, making her blush.
"Yes, we are very proud of her. The information she could give us let us track both of you down. We managed to surround the mansion where you were being held and then storm it, rescuing you two in the process. Unfortunately, the ones holding you all got away and the one or two we managed to capture killed themselves before we could question them."
Harry was astounded at the huge sense of relief he felt, but then again, wasn't surprised at all. Severus had managed to get away. He was safe and, in spite of everything that had happened and his yo- yoing emotions, Harry wanted Sev to be safe as well.
Harry had managed not to think about his husband being hurt or killed during the rescue, but he had been tense and worried since he had woken. He could feel Ron quivering with similar emotion at his side.
"That brings us to another question." They all looked at the Headmaster again. His serious expression was foreboding. "Harry, Ron, I presume you understand the significance of the collars you wear?"
Harry and Ron looked at one another, then dropped their eyes and nodded.
Dumbledore sighed while Mr and Mrs Weasley gave each other grim looks.
"What about them! And why haven't they been taken off yet? I thought you'd broken all the spells." It was Sirius. Of all of them, only he seemed not to understand. Even Hermione had a glimmering of what was going on, but she kept her silence, letting the Headmaster deal with it.
The Headmaster signed again, Sirius could be so difficult some times and this was sure to send him over the edge. He glanced at Remus who nodded back, he had the situation in hand.
"I broke most of them. The ones that were keeping Harry and Ron asleep as well as some others restraining their power. However, not even I can break Marriage Bonds.
"MARRIAGE!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT! HARRY'S NOT MARRIED!" Sirius looked to Harry but his Godson's refusal to look at him didn't give him the confirmation he needed. "Harry, please tell me it isn't true." His Godson glanced up at him then away guiltily. Sirius slumped back into Remus' arms.
Dumbledore took over again, directing everyone's attention back to himself, "I'm afraid it is true. Those collars are an ancient form of wedding symbol. There are other rituals as well but I'm sure we don't need to go into that. The one who placed it around Harry's neck, and Ron's as well, put the Marriage Bond in place and they can't be broken. Not by me at least, and not by anything other than death I suspect."
"Then we just kill the bastards then," Sirius snarled. Having his Godson in the hands of dark wizards had been bad enough and knowing now that one of them had put their filthy paws on a member of his family. Talking about putting hands on… "Did he touch you? At all?" Sirius closed his eyes at the look of guilt that passed over his Godson's face. "Goddam, motherfucking, skanky, scum-sucking BASTARD!"
"SIRIUS! Control yourself" Dumbledore thundered. "What's done is done. It's can't be helped. Both Harry and Ron need your support now, not your anger."
Remus had his hands on Sirius's shoulders at the same time, "Sirius calm down. It's all right. We have them back now. Whatever happened is in the past. We can work through it. I need you, we all need you, to be strong. Look at what you're doing to Harry and Ron. Do you think they need to feel any more guilty about it? Look at them!"
Sirius turned to see both Harry and Ron curled up around each other, faces averted, silent tears running down their faces. Mr and Mrs Weasley were trying to comfort them, throwing glares his way. He pulled himself away from Remus and stumbled towards them, gathering them up. "Shhhhh, I'm sorry. I'm not angry at you. Never at you. Shhhh."
It took another good five minutes for the sobbing to stop but even then they didn't let each other go. They were content to just lie in each other's arms.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Sirius mumbled to them both.
Harry patted his chest, "It's okay. We're fine, really. Don't worry." Sometimes it seemed like he was more grown up than his Godfather but he was glad to have somebody who cared so much about him, /What about Sev? He cares for you. Too much sometimes./ the little treacherous voice whispered in his head. /No, don't think about him yet. Later, when it's quiet. When you've had time to take it all in./ He pushed it from his mind.
Harry opened his eyes to see the other's looking at the three of them with varying expressions of pride, sadness, joy and despair. He smiled at them tremulously. Sirius lay back against the pillows, pulling both young men with him, he didn't intend on letting them go for a good long while.
"Well, after all that excitement I thing some tea is in order. Poppy, can I bother you for a table?"
One was provided with alacrity and after enlarging it, Dumbledore waved his wand causing his best tea service to appear. Everyone helped themselves, Mrs. Weasley pouring a cup for Harry, Ron and Sirius as they couldn't reach themselves. She then passed around the biscuits.
"Ahh, lemon, my favourite." Dumbledore nibbled contentedly on the small snack, sipping from his cup between bites.
"There is one question which I must ask you, Harry," Dumbledore paused while dipping a biscuit into his tea.
"What is it?" Harry watched as the biscuit became too tea-logged and fell into the Headmaster's cup.
"Who was it that had you? I've asked Mr Weasley but he seems unable to tell me. It's most perturbing."
Harry speechlessly looked at Ron. Ron could only look back, his expression anguished. He couldn't help, only Harry could decide what to do.
Harry was torn. He could refuse to answer the Headmaster and not betray his husband or he could answer to prior loyalties and damn Severus to Azkaban or worse.
"It's obvious, isn't it. There's a geis on them that won't let them tell us who was holding them. Isn't there Harry?" Thank the gods, Sirius as giving him an out.
In the end he simply shook his head, letting the others think he couldn't tell them.
The searching look the Headmaster gave him was enough to tell him that he didn't quite believe that Harry and Ron were under any such geis but he would keep quiet for now.
"That's a shame. Geis' are harder to spot than mere spells. We'll have to look into it further." Everyone else nodded. Harry and Ron looked at each other again with worried eyes. "However, there may be something you can help us with, Harry."
"Have you seen or do you know the current whereabouts of Severus Snape?"
"They're both awake."
"Then it's time."
Another window. His life seemed to consist of staring out of windows. Only this time he was sitting staring out at the grounds of Hogwarts, not the grounds of the mansion. He sighed and pulled his legs closer to his body.
"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" It wasn't a question.
Harry looked over towards the beds and into the blue eyes of his best friend. "I can't seem to stop." He looked back out of the window, "While I was there I could only think about being free but now…"
"I know exactly how you feel. At times I'm glad we're here. At other times there's nothing I would like more than to be back there, in his arms. Safe." Ron dropped his eyes, gazing at his hands as they rested against his stomach. He wasn't showing yet. It wouldn't be long though.
Harry dropped his legs to the floor and moved across to his friend. It was worse for Ron than it was for him. He had only lost his husband. Ron had lost the father of his baby. Now he would have to be strong for the both of them.
They had unilaterally decided not to refer to either of their husbands by name, only as `he'. While the others thought they were under a geis they could get away with this and it would give them the time to sort out their conflicted emotions.
Ron turned to his side. He was still weak from the breaking spells, the baby sapping what little strength remained. He caught hold of one of Harry's hands "Do you think they'll come for us."
Harry sighed. "I don't know, Ron. S…he is possessive. They both are. But we're well protected behind these walls. I don't think either of them wants to risk an all out war. At least I hope so." He rubbed the heel of his hand over his forehead and eyes, "I'm sorry Ron, I just don't know."
Ron was silent for a moment. "I miss him." He said in a small, lost voice.
Harry clutched hold of Ron's hand in a tighter grip, "I know. So do I."
They looked at one another and Harry gave into the compulsion to lean down. He brushed his mouth lightly against Ron's in a chaste caress. There was no lust in the kiss, only love and friendship. "Go to sleep, Ron. I'll be here when you wake."
Percy Weasley sat hunched over his tiny desk in his, equally, tiny office. Windowless and with less floor space than a broom closet it was debateable if it really could qualify as an `office'. The fact that it was full to busting didn't help. Piles of files lay stacked on the desk and on the floor around him, some wobbling precariously, others leaning against each other for support. Papers and scrolls lay scattered over the rest of the desk completely obscuring the wood. Mesh trays hovered, one above the other, to one side, each tray overflowing with parchments that `absolutely' needed to be done `straight away'. Quills jostled for space in an small wooden holder. Inkpots, some empty, other's overfull and dripping their contents, were dotted around. A stick of `Every Colour™' wax and a small seal sat next to an unlit candle, together with a sharp bodkin and a skein of multicoloured ribbons. A small wastepaper basket sat to one side, full to brimming; it's contents spilling out onto the floor.
It was like living in bedlam. The old adage `a tidy desk is the sign of a sick mind' was completely true in this place. While it looked like a madhouse Percy knew what every file, paper, scroll and parchment held. He knew where everything was and could lay his hands on it instantly. A fact that annoyed his superior immensely. Subtle digs were definitely the best. The pristine desk and immaculate office of his superior told all. The man couldn't find his arse unless he had a map and compass pointing him the way!!
That didn't stop him being a prick and offloading all his work on to Percy, who didn't have a choice but to bite his tongue and get on with it. One day…oh yes. Revenge is sweet and Percy was neither as stupid or pedantic as others would think him. One day.
One day but only if those senile old codgers he worked with would just SHUT THE FUCK UP! What the hell was going on out there! Didn't they know he had a mountain of work to do and he needed PEACE AND QUIET!
Grumbling to himself he hunched up even further, face an inch from the treatise he was reading, trying to block out the sounds of running and shouting from outside his office. A loud scream had him throwing his quill down in a fit of pique. He held his head in his hands, ignoring the ink that was spilling across his work.
A loud bang had him up from his desk. Throwing open the door he stepped out in the corridor. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HEREEEEE… oh! Oh dear!" He trailed off at the sight of a wand. A wand pointing directly at his face. A wand held by a tall figure dressed entirely in black.
Bodies twisting and turning, brushing past one another in what was almost a dance. It was beautiful. More so because Harry didn't normally have the pleasure of simply watching. He was usually in the thick of it. Taking part.
Every move seemed choreographed as the leather ball was passed from one person to another to another.
"Go on. Faster! HE'S ON YOUR TAIL." Harry shouted as the young chaser whizzed past him, so close he could almost have touched her. " NO!!! BUGGER." Giggles from around him reminded him that he wasn't in the comfort of his own home and could swear to his heart's content. He slammed a hand over his mouth in shock, eyes wide. The young Gryffindors around him didn't mind though. He mouthed "sorry," to them, then went back to watching the game. Sirius and Remus rolled their eyes at one another and then went back to their own loud commentary.
So far it had been a good match. Gryffindor versus Slytherin. When Dumbledore had mentioned in passing that there would be a game today Harry had jumped at the chance to get outside. He'd then felt guilty, as Ron was still too weak to leave the hospital wing. Ron had simply laughed at him, telling him to go and enjoy himself, that he would be fine. He made Harry promise to come back as soon as possible and tell him all about the game, play by play. It wasn't too bad; Hermione would be staying with Ron, keeping him company. Harry had the idea that they wanted some time together so he had left with a lighter heart.
Yes, it was a good match and surprisingly there wasn't much fouling and cheating from the Slytherin team. Things had really changed in the last few years. Humph, they wouldn't have had a chance against Harry's team though.
It was a jubilant Harry that left the cheering Gryffindors in order to go back to the hospital wing. It had been close but they had won. He couldn't wait to tell Ron all about it.
He pushed open the doors, his Godfather and Godfather-in-Law close behind him to find Ron surrounded by Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Hermione and the Headmaster. Madam Pomfrey was clucking over him as usual. Harry rushed over.
"Ron, are you okay?"
"Yeh, I'm fine. I'd be a lot better if somebody wasn't trying to force soup down my throat, read my temperature or smother me in bed linen every five minutes, though!" he said with a glare at the fussing matron. She simply sniffed at him and flounced off.
"Mr Weasley is fine, Harry. Poppy can be a little…over-enthusiastic at times. Not to mention overprotective," Dumbledore smiled at Harry, "How was the game? Did you enjoy yourself?"
"It was brilliant. We creamed them. Fantastic. I'll tell you all about it later, Ron."
"I look forward to it." They grinned at one another.
"Well, at least the Slytherins don't try and cheat as much as they used to," Sirius said as he sat himself down, "Honestly Harry, I don't know how you kept your temper with that bloody Malfoy trying to block you all the time. He should have been kicked off the team."
Harry glanced quickly at Ron who had dropped his eyes. He shrugged, "He wasn't that bad, Siri."
"Humph, they're all as bad as one another. Not a decent soul amongst the lot of them!"
Ron opened his mouth but, thankfully, was beaten to it by the Headmaster. "Now Sirius, you know that's not true. There has been many a fine upstanding member of society to come out of Slytherin. A quick wit and a cunning mind do not automatically make somebody a dark wizard. All four houses have their faults, as you well know."
Sirius' mouth twisted but he kept silent. He might not like it but Dumbledore had a point.
Remus was about to speak when he suddenly whipped he head around to stare at the closed doors. "Something's happening," he said.
Before anyone could ask what he meant the doors to the hospital wing banged open. Four or five Aurors strode in, wands drawn. The Headmaster stood and was about to demand an explanation when another two more Aurors entered the room. Between them, supported by their arms, was the pale and trembling figure of Deputy Minister Peaseworthy.
"Reginald, what are you doing here? What's happened?" Arthur Weasley was up from his seat in a flash. Reginald Peaseworthy was as mind bendingly officious and pedestrian as they came, with about as much imagination and fire as a block of stone, but despite this, as Arthur's second, he could usually be depended on to keep the Ministry ticking over while Arthur was at his son's sick bed. Something must be seriously wrong if he was here, and in this state.
"Oh Minister…oh, I'm so glad we found you. It's terrible. Terrible…" the rest of the sentence degenerated into a series of garbled words interspaced with bouts of nose blowing and hanky waving. It was clear the man wasn't coherent enough to explain what had happened.
The Chief Auror was giving the Deputy Minister a jaundiced look, verging on disgusted. He'd had to drag this whimpering coward over half the country and was rapidly coming to the end of his patience with the bouts of incoherent sniffling and wailing.
Turning his back on the lump of quivering flesh he addressed Arthur directly. "I'm sorry, Minister. You won't get much out of him. He's been like this since we found him."
"Found him? Where?"
"Hiding in the bushes about half a mile from the Ministry Buildings." His expression became even more foreboding, "I'm sorry Sir but I have bad news."
"What is it?" Molly Weasley had come to the side of her husband and was clutching his hand tightly. The others waited impatiently; this couldn't be good.
"The Ministry has fallen."
The news flashed like wildfire throughout the school. All students had been restricted to their dormitories. Every door was barred, every window locked. Every defensive shield, some built into the walls when they were erected, was activated. The entire building was locked down.
The remaining Aurors, with the help of Professor McGonagall and the other Professors, were setting up a base in the Great Hall, while in the Headmaster's office the Chief Auror was giving his report to Minister Weasley and Headmaster Dumbledore.
"…by the time anybody knew what was going on it was too late. They'd taken over completely. The building is still standing but everyone in it is either dead or captured. We went in but they were too strong for us. Most of my men were killed, and we only just managed to get out by the skin of our teeth!"
"And you found Deputy Minister Peaseworthy half a mile away, you say," the Headmaster sat behind his desk, steepled fingers to his lips, eyes far away in thought.
"Yes sir, we were retreating when one of my men literally stumbled over him. We couldn't get much out of him apart from the fact that Hogwarts might be attacked next so we came here as quickly as we could."
Mrs. Weasley, Harry, Sirius and Remus sat in the chairs surrounding the Headmaster's desk. Ron had had to be left in the infirmary. He was better off there. The whole wing had been sealed tight. Hopefully, he would be fine. As for the rest of them…
"You did the best you could Auror..?" Minister Weasley arched an eyebrow questioningly.
"Auror Everett. Are you absolutely sure they're coming here?"
"Yes sir. Apart from what the Deputy Minister said, one of the other witnesses mentioned one of them saying something about `taking back what was stolen'. We don't really know what that meant though, sir." Everyone's eyes went to Harry who went white. He stared in to the fire, ignoring the concerned looks.
Auror Everett looked confused but snapped to attention when Minister Weasley said "Thank you, Auror Everett. I suggest you go back to your men. I have a feeling we'll need you soon enough.
Sirius waited until the door shut before lurching out of his chair to kneel beside Harry. "They won't get you again. It'll be fine. Don't worry. We'll fight them and we'll win." He said, catching hold of one of Harry's hands.
"Indeed, this castle has never been breached. You are safer here than anywhere else." The Headmaster was pressing a small glass of Firewhiskey on him.
Harry smiled sadly at the Headmaster. He knew what and who was coming. Knew that Severus would stop at nothing to get him back. If was only himself at stake he would turn himself over in heartbeat but he also knew that his husband was ambitious and would not stop in his attack even if he had Harry by his side. He couldn't do this. He had to say something. Anything. He couldn't remain silent anymore. He had to give them a chance. He opened his mouth to speak only to be silenced as the door thundered open and one of the Aurors skidded inside.
It was like a wave of black, stretched as far as the eye could see. It was inconceivable that such numbers could have moved to within a few hundred feet of the walls of Hogwarts without being detected previously.
The Defenders of Hogwarts stood on the battlements, looking out over the amassed ranks below. It was eerily quite. Not even the wind stirred. It was the quiet before the storm.
Dumbledore, unusually expressionless, stood in the centre of the group, Harry by his side. Sirius had tried to get him to stay behind with Ron in the infirmary but he had insisted on coming. He had to see. His godfather was currently standing by his side, hands clenched and with a stony expression. The others were ranged about the battlements, secure behind the shimmering wall of defences.
Dumbledore tapped his wand against his throat, "Sonorus." There was a slight pause before his voice echoed out, "You cannot enter. This is a school not a target."
There was silence from the massed ranks.
"Go back if you value your lives. There is nothing here for you."
"Oh I think not, Headmaster. There is most definitely something here for me. Something that was taken from me. Something I want returned. Defeating you and taking over the school is just a bonus."
Dumbledore leaned forward, trying to pinpoint the source of the familiar voice, while at his side Harry stiffened, face pale. Sirius gripped his arm.
The mass of black below shifted as two figures moved forward. Swathed completely in black robes with their features obscured by hoods, they were indistinguishable from those around them.
"Show yourself. I do not speak to those who hide themselves."
There was a low chuckle, "Headmaster, headmaster, I would have thought that by now you would have recognised my voice. You must be going senile, old man. Very well, if you want to see my face, then do so." The hood was thrown back, revealing a pale face surrounded by dark hair. A very familiar face.
"Severus…!!" Dumbledore had to catch hold of the battlement in his shock and disbelief. No, it couldn't be true!
Harry was mesmerised by the dark eyes of his husband. He couldn't turn away. They stared at one another for what seemed like forever before Harry's attention was diverted by his godfather's snarl. Sirius had just realised what was going on. Who exactly had held his godson.
Severus returned his attention to the Headmaster. "Give me back those who were stolen and I'll leave you in peace."
"NO!! Never!" Sirius screamed defiance, pushing Harry behind him. "You'll have to go through me to get to him again. To them again."
"Very well, if you insist on being difficult. Everything that happens today is on your head, Black. You remember that."
"Ha, you can't enter here and you know it."
"Can't I. Albus, I trust you know what this is," this was directed back to the just recovering Headmaster, who sucked up a breath and turned even paler as he spied what Severus held in his hand. It was crystal. Perfectly round, it sparkled with a deep emerald fire.
"But I have. You really should keep a closer watch on the wards, Albus."
"What is it?" Sirius was asking.
"One of the guardian wards. There are four, one for each of the Founders. They're kept underneath Hogwarts, as part of its original defences. No one but the Headmaster and the Heads of the Houses are supposed to know they're there."
"How the hell did he get his hands on it then?"
"Part of the duties of the Heads of the Houses is to maintain the wards. As Severus was Head of Slytherin, he maintained Slytherin's ward. He must have taken it with him then he went. Left behind a substitute. Something linked to and controlled by the original ward. I can't believe I didn't notice." Dumbledore was devastated. "With that he can bring down all the shields we have. We'll be completely open to attack."
"Hush, I'm thinking." There was a slight pause, "Severus, think about this. Don't do anything you will regret. There are innocents here. You don't want their blood on your hands. They are not a part of this!"
"Albus, we both know that you are the one who habitually sends out children to do an adult's job. Your charges are safe. *You*, however, are not."
At this Harry came out of his trance. He wrenched his arm from Sirius' grasp and ran to the Headmaster. "Let me go! I can stop this. I can persuade him to leave. Give me enough time and I persuade him to leave Ron here, where he's best looked after. Please."
"NO! Harry you can't…" it was Sirius trying to get his attention again. Remus put a hand on Sirius' shoulder, pulling him back. "This is Harry's decision, Siri."
"Please Headmaster. Let me try." Harry begged. He needed to do something, anything, to avert the coming catastrophe.
"You know I can't, my boy." Dumbledore put hand over Harry's, willing him to understand.
"What is your answer, Albus?" Severus has waited long enough.
Dumbledore pulled in a deep breath and answered. "If you do this I will destroy you. You know I can! Don't make me do it!"
"Nice try, Headmaster. But we both know you're not powerful enough to stop me now. Before you broke the spells on my creations, maybe, but not now. For old times sake, I repeat my offer. Give me back what's mine and I'll leave."
"Very well. Then let it begin."
Severus lifted Slytherin's ward and the battle for Hogwarts began.
In the end it was futile. Previously undefeated defences crumbled under pressure. Indeed how could they hold when the wizard breaking them was the one who had created many of them in the first place.
After Dumbledore, Snape had been the foremost defender of Hogwarts, had created and sustained the vast majority of defensive magics over the school. He was the one person who knew both the building and every inch of it's defences intimately. He had also created loopholes in the spells that only he knew of.
Battle raged throughout the school but, in the end, it was useless. The defenders were relying on magics that had twisted back on them and, in the end, they had to surrender. Surrender or die.
The vast majority of the school had taken refuge in the Great Hall but even that had now been breached and Snape stood triumphant in the middle of the room, his cohorts arranged around him, holding wands on his defeated foes.
Harry was standing in front of a group of first years, borrowed wand in front of him. Husband or not, Severus was not going to touch them.
Casting his eyes disdainfully over his former employer and his remaining forces, especially the snarling and spitting Sirius, he finally came to rest on Harry.
"Come here Harry," he held out his hand imperiously. Seeing his husband's reluctance to leave his charges his eyes softened slightly, "They will not be harmed. I have no interest in damaging children."
Harry was torn between the conflicting urge to run to his lover and the urge to grasp hold of his newfound freedom for as long as possible. He yearned for Severus but Snape he could do without. He had realised during his brief freedom that he really did love his husband and would have stayed with him willingly without the restraining magics of the collar, but only without those magics. If Severus insisted on repairing the broken spells then Harry could see his love turning to hate, maybe not now but somewhere in the future. He and his husband would become enemies. Enemies sharing a bed but enemies just the same and Harry's nightmare about having to fight his lover would become a reality.
He knew it would be futile to struggle against returning to his husband in the end but he didn't have to make it an easy victory.
"Harry?" Severus was still holding out his hand, but his expression was hardening slightly.
That was the moment Sirius made a last ditch attempt to attack his nemesis. He rammed an elbow in the stomach of the dark wizard holding him before leaping forward, ready to rend with teeth and nails if need be.
Whipping up his wand Severus cast the spell before anybody could react, "Pertrificus Totalis." There was a thud as Sirius hit the floor, frozen solid.
Severus snarled, angry beyond comprehension. /How dare he!/ He raised his wand again only to be stopped by the warm hand curling around his.
"Please. Please don't hurt him. I'll do what you want. Anything you want but don't hurt him." Harry was almost crying with fear. He would take no chances with his Godfather's life. If Harry's freedom was the price for Sirius' safety then so be it.
Giving Black a final vicious glare, Severus wrapped his arms around the shaking young man, anger receding slightly. He didn't give a damn about Black, indeed life would be easier without the dammed mutt but Harry loved his Godfather and if Severus gave in to his urge to be rid of the bastard once and for all it would drive a wedge between him and his husband. He and Harry had enough problems.
"Hush, I wasn't going to hurt him," a white lie but necessary, "just stop him from hurting himself." /and getting in my way./
Tipping up Harry's head to face him, he kissed away the tears before taking possession of Harry's mouth with a searing kiss.
Harry couldn't help the moan that escaped him, his hands twisting in Sev's robes.
Lifting his head Severus was satisfied to see the glazed look on his husband's features.
"You belong to me. With me. No one will ever take you away again." On seeing the acceptance in Harry's eyes, he tucked Harry's head under his chin, holding one arm around his waist, before turning his attention back to the rest of the room.
Stunned eyes met his from every corner of the room. Only Severus' cohorts had taken no notice, each turning away slightly in order to give their leader more privacy. He smirked. They all knew that Harry was his, and only his, now.
His eyes landed on the body on the floor, hardening again. He thought for a moment before raising his wand again.
"NO! You said you wouldn't hurt him." Harry was holding his wand arm again, desperation in his voice. /Sev wouldn't lie to him, would he? /
"I'm not going to hurt him, I'm just removing a threat." So saying he released Sirius from the binding spell. Black remained the floor, snarling at the sight of his Godson in his enemies' arms. Severus smirked at him before pointing his wand again, "Animus Canis".
There was a startled yelp as, with a slight popping sound, Sirius disappeared and a large black dog appeared in his place.
Another wave of the wand and a muzzle appeared around the dog's face.
There were numerous smiles on the faces around him at the sight of the whining dog trying to remove the muzzle with its paws.
"Remus, you need to control your mate more. Perhaps obedience lessons are necessary!"
Several pairs of startled eyes snapped to the silver haired werewolf, one pair of blue eyes in particular.
"Perhaps. I prefer him the way he is though." Remus swiftly moved up to the struggling dog. Whispering under his breath he conjured a thick leather collar and leash around the dog's neck, holding the same in a firm hand. "Hush, Siri, you'll hurt yourself." One hand pressed down on the dog's back, causing it to lie flat on the floor.
"You'll need more than that to control him. I'll have something more… permanent.. for you in a few days."
Remus nodded his acceptance, eyes still on the betrayed blue of his mates.
Dumbledore had remained silent throughout all this but now he spoke. "What are you planning to do with us?"
"Nothing. Well, nothing to the majority of the populace. Certain changes will take place but, for the most part, it will be almost the same as it was before. Just with myself in command. The Ministry was weak. Everyone had an opinion on how to run things and, in the end, nothing was ever done. Believe me, once the people have adjusted to the change I think you'll find that they are far happier with the new regime." Severus paused slightly, before continuing, "Of course, a new Headmaster for Hogwarts will have to be chosen. Someone loyal to me. You are just too dangerous to be let loose on so many…impressionable…minds."
"No. Not Azkaban. It has its uses but it's not the place for you."
Dumbledore nodded, he had expected no more. While he was alive there was still a chance and he kept his own council for the time being.
Draco took the opportunity in the lull to come forward. He had been looking for Ron but couldn't see him. Now he was worried. What if he had been caught up in the fighting? What if he had been hurt?
"Harry, where's Ron? He's alright isn't he?"
Harry turned to look in worried silver eyes. The Infirmary, and its residents, had been one of the first places to fall to the invaders, and he knew that Ron, in his vulnerable state, would be better off with his husband. "He's in the Infirmary. No, he's alright, just tired." He said seeing the increased worry on Draco's face.
Draco looked once at his Uncle before running out of the doors and after his husband.
"Come, my love. I need to speak to you and things can be cleared up around here without us." Severus was urging Harry to the door, and directing one of other wizards to begin the clear up. Suddenly, as if remembering something, he came to a halt.
Turning, he looked around the room, searching for something, or someone.
"Ah, there you are, Miss Granger."
One of the dark wizards seized her and brought her, struggling, before Severus.
"Gently, gently. There's no need for force," he looked directly at Hermione, "I must congratulate you on your method of finding us. You discovered a most *unique* solution to a very difficult problem." He looked assessingly at the frightened young woman.
"Sev?" Harry didn't want anything to happen to his friend. She had just worried about him, wanting him to be safe. She didn't deserve to be punished.
"Don't worry Harry. I'm not going to do anything to Miss Granger. In fact, she'll be coming with us. An intelligent woman like her is much too useful to let run loose." Hermione shivered with fear. "And there's someone here who would be more than happy to oversee her confinement."
"Mr. Zabini, I believe this belongs to you." Severus pulled out a familiar looking collar from his robes, handing it to the overjoyed young man. The other wizard held Hermione as Zabini put the collar around Hermione's neck. Then, wrapping arms around her limp body, he quickly pulled her out of room.
Ron shifted nervously under the scrutiny of the black clad guards. The Infirmary had been captured quickly, wards shattering under the sustained attack. None of its residents had been harmed however, simply told to stay put. Now all they could do was wait.
While he was glad his mother and father were with him, the silence and uncertainty were getting to him slowly but surely. His mother was currently holding his hand, torn between glaring ferociously at their captors and looking worriedly at her son. His father was pacing the room slowly. Arthur had wanted to take part in the battle but Dumbledore had persuaded him to stop with his wife and son, saying they would need him more. Arthur had looked mutinous for about five seconds before the worried looks of Molly and Ron had registered and he had acquiesced. Now, however, he was probably regretting his decision and looked likely to tear his hair out at the forced inactivity.
All in all, the sound of running feet coming down the corridor outside was a welcome distraction and Ron could only hope it was good news.
The figure skidded in through the open doors and, without even glancing at the guards, looked frantically around before spying him and racing to his bed. It was Draco.
"Ron! Oh gods, are you all right? I was so worried…" and on and on and on.
Ron laughed under Draco's hands. He seemed to have grown at least a dozen, each one checking his body for signs of illness or injury. "I'm fine. Just tired that's all, " he lightly batted the hovering hands away, "Honestly, give it a rest will you."
Draco took his hand and, clutching it firmly, he leaned forward. "Don't do that again. Never leave me again!" He said before capturing Ron's lips in a deep soul possessing kiss.
The breath caught in his chest and he gave himself over into his husband's caress, only coming back to himself when Draco drew back slightly, his silver eyes shining suspiciously bright. Ron was speechless at the depth of emotion he could see in his husband's eyes.
A cough to his left brought him out of his contemplation and he looked to the side. Reality made itself known again as he stared into the wide blue eyes of his mother. A quick glance to his father gave him the same stunned expression.
"Erm….Mum, Dad. I want you to meet my husband."
Harry wondered where they were going as Sev guided him down a bewildering maze of corridors and stairs. On turning the last corner though he could have hit himself for his ignorance. Even with the Marauder's Map he had, after all, only lived here for seven years, and didn't know all the ways to get the Dungeons.
Guiding Harry into his old rooms, Sev made sure to ward the doors. He didn't want anyone disturbing them and, for what he wanted to do, this was the best place. This was the only place in the whole castle where he felt completely comfortable.
Harry had never been in Sev's private rooms at Hogwarts before and took the opportunity to look around. All personal items had been removed and placed in storage but even though the rooms hadn't been inhabited for over a year they still bore the strong stamp of Sev's personality.
Curling his hand around the back of a chair he turned and looked at his husband.
Sev stood in the middle of the rooms, arms crossed, an unreadable expression on his face. They stared at one another for the longest time. The silence stretched.
Harry opened his mouth to say something, anything, but the words dried up in his throat. He cast a helpless look at his husband. Was this his punishment for leaving?
Harry's distress was the impetus for Sev to cross the room and take his husband in his arms. "Shhh, don't worry. I'm not angry. Not at you. Never at you."
"I didn't…I never told them anything…" he was desperate to ensure that Sev knew that he had never betrayed him. He pressed his face into his beloved's shoulder, hands clutching at soft velvet robes.
"I know you didn't." Sev held his husband closer.
He picked up Harry and carried him to a nearby settee. Laying them both down, he petted the shaking form of his husband, murmuring softly, telling his lover that they were together again, they would never be parted, that he trusted his husband and knew that Harry would not say anything.
It took a while to calm Harry down but afterwards he was content to simply lie in his husband's arms, soaking in the affection.
"What will happen to Sirius?" Harry mumbled into Sev's robe.
There was a sigh above him, "Nothing. Remus will take care of him. Keep him away from us until he's ready to face the truth."
"So you won't keep him as a dog forever?"
Sev snorted with mirth, "No. It's a lovely thought but, even though Remus is a Werewolf, I don't think he's into bestiality."
"Wha…oh…OH!" Harry hid his head again, cheeks blushing.
"I'll give him a few days to calm down then change him back. Remus should have him in hand by then."
"How long has Remus…"
"A few years. He came to me. Figured it out all by himself. He's more intelligent than I gave him credit for." Harry could feel Sev's smile as he pressed his lips to the top of Harry's head.
"A lot of things. Most of which, you'll have to ask him about. The main reason is that Remus hated the Ministry. Hated the stance they took on the innocent victims of werewolves and vampires. Not to mention all the other half-human or non-humans who were persecuted, all because of a misplaced and ignorant belief that they weren't `normal'! Not pure. Ha. There isn't a wizard alive today who can claim to have a completely human ancestry. That's what makes us wizards. Without that, we would be no more powerful than a Muggle."
"You, me, anybody who can point a wand and cast a spell. We all are, to a differing degree." Sev didn't mention that it was an ancient belief that the more powerful the wizard the less purely human he was. And as Harry was very powerful… well, now wasn't the time to bring that subject up.
Eyes of that particular shade of green appeared nowhere in the human genome. There was a good chance that, not that far back, something powerful and probably wholly inhuman has taken a fancy to a member of the Evans clan. It only made Harry more desirable. Yes, it was usually the eyes that told all. His own ebon shade was a constant reminder of his own ancestry. All the old, well established, families had one feature that made them stand out from the rest. Weasley red and Malfoy silver were only the better known ones.
In his eyes and the eyes of most rational people there was no stigma attached to being less, or more than, mere human. Merlin himself was believed to be completely non-human. It has been those idiots at the Ministry that had perpetuated the myth that it wasn't considered acceptable. That had forced those with more…visible…differences underground.
"But what about muggle-borns. Where do they get their magic from?"
"Most muggles have a magical ancestor, either wizard, fey or some other magical creature. The magic is passed down through the generations but will only show up in one or two members. Your Miss Granger is like that. Every member of her blood family will have the potential but only she has the ability. I suspect that there's something very powerful in her ancestry."
"So what Draco called her in our second year wasn't true?"
"Hmmm, no it wasn't. That `term' is a myth perpetuated by those families who are too arrogant to foresee their own destruction. Too much inbreeding and they gradually lose their powers. There are `pure-bloods' and you *are* one of them, but it only means that you have a well-established and very powerful magical background. Unlike Muggle-borns, where no one can ever be quite sure where the magical ability comes from. Lucius always was an idiot and tried to foist his beliefs and arrogance on his son. Draco has since learned his lesson and he knows better now." There was dark tone to Sev's voice.
They lay quietly for a while, twined around one another before…
"Sev, what do you want?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, what do you want? To do? Now that you've won. What was this all for?" Harry waved a hand around, "What do you desire?"
"Ahhh, I see. Hmm…" Sev gathered his husband closer to him, pressing him down into the soft cushions of the settee. "What do I want?" His mind began racing furiously.
"I want….Black's head on a pike."
"Sev! Be serious."
"I am! Alright, alright, I take it back, just don't pout at me anymore." On seeing Harry's lip slid back into it's usual, delectable place, he carried on, "I want….Fudge's head on a pike!"
Harry giggled "Sev, can't you be serious for one minute? Although, I can't blame you for that desire, it's something I've thought about a time or two. Usually when he'd been really pig-headed." He sighed and looked directly at his husband. Smiling slightly, eyes shining, he asked again, "What do you want?"
Sev's breath caught in his throat at the look directed at him. Leaning down until his mouth was a bare millimetre away from Harry's he breathed, "I want you, laid out on my bed and completely open to me. I want to sleep beside you, inside you, around you. I want to wake up curled around you. I want to taste you in the morning, in the evening and at night. I want to make love to you. I want you to make love to me. I want to make you mine forever. I want to be yours. I want to see you ripe with our children. Ah ah…" he pressed a finger to Harry's lips at this revelation, "You asked me what I wanted, and now I'm telling you. Now where was I? Ah yes. I want to be able to rest my head against you and feel the life inside. The life we created together. Not only that, *I* want to be ripe with our children. I want to feel them inside me. I want to hear your heart beating as we rest together, every night of our lives. I want you just the way you are." The finger was taken away and replaced by soft lips.
Harry was overwhelmed. He knew that Sev loved him but this… He had stiffened at the mention of children but, somehow, he know deep inside that his husband would never press him on this point, would wait until the time was right and they were both ready.
He was breathless by the time Sev lifted his head. Obsidian eyes gazed down into his own glazed orbs with satisfaction. He bent his head again, not to the full parted lips, but to Harry's ear. "I have a gift for you." So saying he lifted himself off the settee, and Harry, gracefully.
Harry blinked and then came back to himself. He must look a sight. Sprawled out over the furniture, hair mussed, lips swollen, robes askew. Sev only smiled and held out a hand to help him up.
He was lead through a door in the wall opposite. Beyond was a well- sized bedroom. Like the other rooms, everything that had been personal to Severus had been removed and placed in storage but the rooms were still maintained, there was still wood for the fire, still sheets on the bed. Even empty, it still screamed `Sev' to him.
Harry presumed that the small door adjacent to the one they had used to enter the bedroom, lead to a bathroom, no doubt also still fully functional. Which was good as they'd probably be using it later.
Severus closed the door and used another locking spell. He wanted no distractions. And this was the best, the only, place for what he had in mind.
Catching hold of Harry's hand again, he led them to the bed and seated them both down on the edge. Leaning forward he caught Harry's face in hands. His eyes roamed over every feature, committing them memory so that, in the future, when they were both old and grey he would be able to picture his beautiful husband, just as he was now.
"Sev…?" Harry wasn't sure what that peculiarly intense expression meant. When his husband shushed him and leant forward to kiss him again all conscious thought fled him.
Mouth moved again mouth, tongue against tongue, slowly and sensuously. When Severus moved back he had an oral and tactile memory to go with the picture in his mind. He grinned at the glazed and lustful expression on Harry's face and vowed to put it there as much as possible in the years to come.
He sat back, one hand up as Harry attempted to close the gap into between them, "Don't you want your present?" he asked playfully.
Harry shook his head to clear it and watched as Sev pulled a small box from one of the numerous and almost bottomless pockets adorning his robes. He'd sometimes wondered if they had small pocket universes, or miniature dimensions, within them. They certainly seemed to hold much more than were feasibly possible. Severus was able to put large and awkward items in his pockets and there was never a bump or bulge marring the flowing lines of his robes. Well, apart from the usual bulge he got around his husband.
Holding the box in one slender hand he waved his wand over it, whispering an enlarging charm. The box expanded rapidly. Presenting the now full size box to Harry, he sat back, a smug smile on his face, waiting for his husband to open it and see what lay within.
Harry looked at his husband questioningly then ran his hands over the box. It was black, made from finest ebony, lacquered and gleaming in the light. The platinum hinges and lock only highlighted the intense blackness. Picked out on the lid of the box was a serpent, also in platinum, coiled in a circle and biting its tail.
Harry looked up to see Sev holding a small platinum key out to him, one eyebrow raised in amusement. Knowing he would get no answer from his husband, Harry plucked the key from Sev's fingers and set it against the lock. Sliding it inside, he felt the small shiver of magic as the lock recognised the key as being the correct one. He could only assume that if it hadn't been then he would now been on the end of a very nasty hex. Unlocking the box quickly, he pulled out the key and put it to one side. Breathing deeply, he lifted the lid.
Gold and silver, lots of it, coiled in a circle, highlighted by black opals.
Harry raised startled eyes to his husband. The husband who was anxiously looking back at him. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. Sev wanted him to…he was willing to tie himself to Harry forever. On equal terms. No more binding spells. It was what he had dreamed of while lying in the hospital wing, the only way he could imagine being completely happy. To be given a choice.
Severus was looking more and more anxious as the silence lengthened. Had what he done been right? Should he have just forced Harry to come back to him, taken what he wanted and ignored his husband's needs? No, this was the only way forward. The only way to keep his husband, heart and soul. So why was he taking so long…?
Keeping one hand on the box, Harry leaned forward, one hand on Sev's face. He kissed both eyes closed, then kissed the tip of his nose. Dropping slightly he caught husband's lips, saying with that kiss the things he could not say aloud. Severus could feel the relief flowing through him, he had been accepted.
Pushing Sev back on the bed and moving to sit astride him, Harry pulled his gift out of the box. Searching for the latch he undid it and then looked back at his husband. "What do I do? I know the basics but after that?"
"Place it around my neck, then hold the latch."
Harry nodded then, with shaking hands, he passed the serpent collar around the neck of his husband. He then held the end of the tail to the snake's open mouth.
"Say the binding."
Severus beckoned him down and whispered the words into his ear, lips brushing the lobe. Harry's breath caught and, closing his eyes, he lifted his head in order to do as he was bid. Jade eyes gazed into ebony as he spoke the binding words. He felt the mouth of the serpent close on its tail as he finished and the sudden wash of warmth that spread through his body. There was no going back now. They were together, forever.
"What happens now?"
"Well, if you remember rightly, the binding's not complete yet. There's one more thing to do."
"Which is?" Harry said breathlessly.
"You have to take me." Sev said as he pulled his husband down to him.
"Hmm, I'm sure I can manage that." Harry murmured.
Sweet kisses, soft caresses, limbs twining together. It might have been the importance of the occasion or simply the fact that they had been apart for too long that made Harry a little too hasty as he entered the body of his husband. Severus cried out as Harry breached his body. He stilled at the sound.
"Sev? Are you alright." He asked, looking down into Severus' pained face. Not receiving an answer he started to pull out when arms and legs tightened around him.
"Don't you dare," Severus growled.
"But I hurt you!"
"No, you didn't. I'm just not as used to this as I thought I was," Obsidian eyes opened, iris almost obliterated by dilated pupils. There was a sharp grin, "That's going to be rectified though."
Harry was unsure. Sev had always made sure Harry enjoyed himself, he didn't want his husband to be less than thoroughly satisfied.
"Are you sureeeeeeee…oh gods," Harry trailed off in a moan as his husband moved his hips causing him to slide even more deeply inside.
"Positive. Now get on with it," There was a definite order there.
"Yes, Professor. Sir." Harry grinned, hips moving of their own accord.
"Hmmm, Sir, I could get used to being called that…ooooh, yes. Just like that." Sev's arched his neck back and moaned at a particularly thorough thrust.
"You had seven years of it while I was school but then I always knew you had a kinky streak." Then, although he loved the sound of his husband's voice, Harry made it his mission to reduce Sev to total incoherence. He succeeded.
Afterwards they lay, tired and sweaty, in the Potion Master's bed. Twined around each other like ivy. Harry pulled his husband closer to him, pressing Sev's face into his neck. Everything would be better now. No more worrying, no more hiding. He was back with his husband. He was loved. Things might be awkward for a while in the outside world. Change was always feared. There would be upset and problems but Harry knew he and Sev could deal with anything life threw at them.
He settled down, joining his husband in sleep. There was a whole new day to enjoy tomorrow.
Sage. Rosemary. Thyme. Comfrey. Parsley. Mint. Bloodwort. Dragon's Breath… Gentle hands stroked over soft leaves, releasing a bouquet of scents that permeated the air around. Sharp steel pruned away dead leaves and stalks leaving only healthy, growing, green.
Harry sighed happily. He was tired, dirty from digging, aching slightly from bending over and sweaty from the midday sun but he was content. He sat back and surveyed his work. His garden. *His*.
He had always liked working in the garden when he had lived with the Dursleys. It had been his retreat, the still point in the chaos of his life. The eye of the storm. The singularity in the heart of the black hole. Of course, he had made sure never to give any sign of his enjoyment to his Aunt and Uncle. They would have taken even that small pleasure away from him if they had suspected.
Severus had gifted him with this plot of land on learning that Harry missed his hobby, to do with it as he wished. His only stipulation had been that part of it must at least grow something useful, hence the herb garden he was currently tending. It was only a small part of the whole. Trees and shrubs, flowers and ornamental grasses vied for space. At first glance it appeared to have grown wild but it was only when you looked more closely that you saw the care that went into maintaining it. There wasn't a harsh line or over cultivated edge to any of it. A small stream wove its way through the middle, too shallow for fish but home to frogs and dragonflies, even the occasional duck resting on its way to where ever.
Life was good now. He had a husband, a home, friends, everything he could have hoped for. Even Sirius had eventually come around and was contentedly living with his husband and mate. That wasn't to say that these things had been come by easily. He had had to fight for the life he had. Not everybody had been happy with his choice of partner and he had had many a howler in the beginning. Dumbledore was still under house arrest and, even now, was watched with careful eyes. He had become much happier when Professor McGonagall had moved in with him, sharing in his confinement. Harry visited them when he could and, with time, the old Headmaster seemed to have become accustomed to his retirement.
Time had also softened most people's attitudes and, with the new regime making everybody's life better in the long run, he could ignore those few who wallowed in the past and blamed him for their woes. He smiled and shook his head. He knew better than most that if it has been Voldemort who ruled instead of Severus then those who complained would have found themselves being visited in the dead of night. Never to be seen again. No, Voldemort would not have tolerated any opposition. Severus, though, simply ignored it. People were people, he said, they would complain about anything and everything. You could give them anything they could possibly want on a golden platter and they would still complain. That wasn't to say that Severus was a poor or unworthy ruler, he just wouldn't lower himself to arguing with them. He didn't back down from his detractors; he simply ignored them and got on with ruling in the way that was needed.
Which was, in its way, for the best. The wizarding world had been floundering in a sea of bureaucracy. It had needed somebody strong to take over and do what needed to be done. And that was what it got. Sev had cut like a well-honed blade through all the red tape and had gotten to the problems at the core. He had revolutionised the system. New policies had come into force. There was no longer any need for werewolves or those similarly afflicted to hide themselves. They had the same rights and privileges as everybody else. Those who were less or more than human began to emerge more and more into society as old views and opinions went out the window. There was funding for civic programs. New hospitals sprang up. Libraries and civic buildings were built for the use of all. There was a benefits system for those too poor or simply unable to provide for themselves. No one went without now.
There were still problems, there always were, but Sev dealt with these as and when they cropped up, sometimes asking Harry for his opinion on a particular matter. Even if Harry didn't have a solution he always listened with a sympathetic ear, which was all that Severus needed sometimes.
The first thing Sev had done was to get rid of all the hangers on in the Ministry. Everyone who was too stupid or too stuck in their ways had been ousted and replaced with more liberal and level-minded people. People who could actually do the job they were employed to do, not just milk the system for everything they could get. It was like a breath of fresh-air and the Ministry worked like a well-oiled machine now.
The teaching program at Hogwarts had been revised and its new Headmaster was currently implementing new courses in the Dark Arts and other, previously prohibited, subjects. Severus was of the opinion that knowledge in itself was neither good nor bad. It was what you did with that knowledge that was important. Children should be given the chance to learn these subjects, not just how to ward themselves against them, in order to better protect themselves and their loved ones.
Harry raised his head at the sound of giggling and smiled at the sight before him. Loved ones…Sev had been cunning and had only picked those followers who were truly interested in changing the wizarding world for the good of their loved ones. Those who were only interested in bettering themselves were passed over but were carefully watched.
Draco Malfoy was one of the former. He was blissfully happy with his husband and family. A far cry from the arrogant bastard he had been at one point. Harry watched as he playfully chased his daughter around the grounds, nearly but never quite managing to catch her. She shrieked with happiness every time she managed to elude capture and Ron laughed with her from his seat underneath a nearby tree. Ron had had a long and painful labour but as he had lain in his bed afterwards watching his husband play with their newborn daughter he knew it had been worth it. She was gorgeous. A little minx with Weasley red hair and Malfoy silver eyes. The argument over what to call her had waged long and hard but they had eventually decided on Electra. Electra Weasley-Malfoy.
Harry remembered watching as the newly smitten Draco had held his daughter in his arms for the first time. Gently and with wonder he had taken in her tiny frame, astounded that something so perfect could have been created by him and Ron. He had sat in a chair at the side of Ron's bed and crooned to his daughter, laughing as she reached out with tiny hands towards his face, telling her all about how loved she would be, how both he and Ron would love and care for her all her days. Harry grinned as he remembered the dark look Ron had slated at his husband, with eyebrow arched and lips pursed, at the mention of all the brothers and sisters Electra would have. Harry had an idea that if Draco wanted any more children he would be bearing them himself.
The birth of Electra had caused Ron's family to swarm around him. It hadn't been easy in the beginning though. Both sides were wary of each other. There had been scowls on the Weasleys' faces whenever Draco had picked up his daughter and, likewise, Draco hadn't been happy whenever Electra was fussed over by a member of the Weasley Clan. With time, however, both sides had begun to tolerate each other more and more and now Draco was welcome at the Weasley household. He'd even spent Christmas there last year. Ron had been beside himself with laughter when they'd come back. Draco's face had been a picture and he had kept muttering something to himself about never accepting anything from Fred and George again. Harry could only grin as he imagined what had happened.
Harry watched the happy family as they played and romped around the garden, smiling at the antics of Draco as he rolled about on the grass after failing to capture his daughter again.
Ron and Draco weren't the only ones with a family now. Marcus and Oliver had recently celebrated the birth of their son, Adam. Harry and Severus had been the chosen Godparents at the naming ceremony. After the small ritual exchange of blood it had been in Harry's arms that the bawling baby had calmed down enough to enable Marcus to heal the small nick at the base of his throat. Harry smiled in remembrance at the fuzzy look that Adam had given him as he held him in his arms. A sort of `Hello, who the hell are you?' look.
Hermione had waved her hands in front of her in denial when he had attempted to pass the baby into her care, gesturing instead to her husband. `Mione was many things but a natural mother she was not. Blaise, on the other hand, had had a faraway look in his eyes as he had held Adam. If the look he had slated at his wife was anything to go by one or the other of them would be big-bellied by the end of the year.
His thoughts turned inwards. The others were so happy it had made him think about what it would be like to have a child of his own, somebody who was a perfect mixture of himself and Sev. It was something he had been thinking about more and more as time went on. He knew it wasn't the time yet but soon…
Arms coming around him startled him out of his thoughts and he smiled and settled back against the hard chest of his husband. Moist lips kissed the side of his neck and he closed his eyes and arched his throat with a sigh. There was soft laughter as the lips captured his in a deep kiss.
"Have you done here?" Low and smoky the voice went straight from his ear down to his groin.
"Yes, all done."
"Then come inside, there's something I want to show you."
Harry grinned, "I think I've already seen it but it's definitely worth another look."
There was a shout of laughter as Severus smirked and then swept his husband into his arms and carried him into the house.
That's all folks. There will be sequels, prequels and side stories in the future but this fic is finished.