Chapter 1: Stalking the First Target
Bright green eyes filled with power floated through the shadows of stone corridor after stone corridor. The lithe body of the under fed teen slipped from shadow to shadow, stalking his prey. Harry had put up with the brutal Occlumency lessons for the chance to learn more about the man that routinely terrified students of all years and houses. The only good things that he come from the forceful ending of those lessons had been his discovery of how the Marauders had treated his prey and the priceless knowledge of the inherited life debt.
"Mr. Potter," came the sickly sweet voice of the woman he had decided he loathed, ending his stalking for the night. The sharp steps of his prey stopped abruptly as Harry turned to face the pink clad toad of a woman.
"Yes, professor?" Harry asked politely, masking his true feelings about the vile woman even as he heard his prey return in their direction.
"I told you to keep up!" Snape half snarled as he roughly grabbed Harry's shoulder, briefly surprising him as he was bodily dragged away. "I will not have you whining to another staff member to get you out of your detention no matter how late the hour."
"Yes professor," Harry answered with dutiful sullenness. He was in the perfect position to see the toad's irritation when it flashed across her face as his scarred hand throbbed in sympathy to what she would have demanded. If his prey had not chosen to rescue him from the pink monster his hand would have, once more, been bleeding before morning.
Snape dragged him bodily down to the dungeons and his office only to throw Harry into the student chair in front of his desk as he secured the room and did a scan for monitoring charms. Harry remained calm, almost detached, as he watched his prey move about the room until the man settled into an aggressive stance next to his desk. Green eyes met furious obsidian as they assessed each other.
"Have you no sense?! Are you trying to get yourself expelled? Arrested on some trumped up charge?!" Snape finally demanded after several minute of silence between them.
"Actually, I was following someone," Harry said neutrally. "I got careless... I hadn't planned to make my move this early but I suppose its for the best, especially if this year turns out to be true to form."
"What on earth are you blathering on about?" Snape barked in obvious aggravation.
"Professor, the only things I regret about looking into your pensive are the fact that it ended our lessons together and that you see me as less potentially trustworthy than before. I tripped into the pensive thanks to a rough spot on the floor but I will not deny considering looking at the memories deliberately simply to get enough information to survive this year. That memory, on the other hand, put certain things into an interesting perspective for me," Harry said neutrally. "It also lead me to the knowledge of the life debt you supposedly owed my father."
Snape's building fury abruptly drained away as he became ash white in a mix of rage and dread.
"What do you want?" Snape asked quietly, his helpless fury plain to see.
"Well that depends, after all I don't have all the information I need to make a choice that won't accidentally get you killed now do I? Personally, I want to see you happily wrapped around my cock for years to come but the only way that will happen is if it comes naturally. I read up on life debts. I know what I could demand but forcing you to sleep with me would not be appealing. I want you willing," Harry informed him calmly. He was sitting in the uncomfortable student chair as if it were a throne or at least a regal wing-back armchair.
"So blunt? Always the Gryffindor," Snape gave a half hearted snort of fake amusement, his eyes giving away how unsettled he was.
"Except I'm not. Oh I play the lion pride leader fairly well but it doesn't come naturally to me. You see the hat really wanted me in Slytherin. I had to fight with the blasted piece of cloth to go into the lion's den," Harry answered, his eyes glittering in dark amusement.
"So if I fuck you will you simply declare the life debt void and go away?" Snape demanded bluntly, intentionally crude in his phrasing.
"I already said I wasn't going to use it like that," Harry admonished gently. "You see I am considering simply taking both you and the Dark Lord and making you both understand what it means to be mine. I would give you a chance to walk away and return to your normal lives after the first trial period but if you stayed...."
"And you would choose us because...?" Snape prompted, dreading the answer. He had been exceptionally cruel from a student's perspective and unlike the Slytherins only the Werewolf incident might have given Harry the clue that he wasn't a complete monster and bully. Then too the choice of the Dark Lord as the second person might qualify the imp as actually insane. He was about to be proven wrong on the first supposition and possibly proven right on the second.
"Neither of you has ever lied to me or at least you didn't pander to the illusion of the supposed wizarding Savior," Harry answered with a shrug. "The intent of the trial run is to see if it would work between us three and to allow you both certain information about my life. You see I've figured out a few of Dumbledore's secrets about me and if nothing else the pair of you can give me a relatively honest opinion. Since I'm the one basically kidnapping both of you for this I don't expect either of you to reciprocate. It can just be the summer spent together and nothing else happening if you both prefer. I would rather spend it claiming both of you in bed and against various surfaces but I won't expect anything beyond not killing each other and basic civility. In answer to your question about the pair of you specifically anyone my own age is too juvenile to hold my interest and I am already interested in the pair of you."
"What exactly is the purpose of this meeting?" Snape asked quietly. Hopefully the devious brat didn't realize that he held more than just a life debt over the older wizard. If word of the debt got back to the Dark faction or the ministry it was a good bet he would be declared a traitor and his life would be forfeit.
"Beyond saving my hide from that bitch?" Harry smirked evilly. "To give you fair warning and so that you can give the Dark Lord the memory the next time you see him. If he wants answers about his little treasure trinkets, like his diary, he'll have to go along with my little temporary roommate plan for the three of us. Of course, I'm extremely tempted to just toss the idea of a warning out the window and ravish you immediately. Maybe have you issue long nightly detentions for the next week or two starting directly after supper each night so that I can teach you what I would expect from a permanent bed-mate and partner. Then again the chase is just as fun as the reward. Besides, if I pushed it right now you wouldn't necessarily be fully willing now would you? It might be fun to role play later but facing it as reality? Not my style or to my taste. Willing is much more satisfying."
"What would you have done had tonight not happened?" Snape inquired warily. He was beginning to think the brat was serious. Whether the imp could actually pull this insane stunt off was another matter entirely.
"The next detention you gave me I would have stunned you and kept you hidden until the holiday, when I would have moved you to a secret room here at the school and stayed with you until school resumed. I would have done my damnedest to convince you that I kidnapped you for a good reason and would have either had you help me set up a third side to this stupid war or tried to woo you into my bed. It would have depended on how mad you actually were and I was mostly prepared to do both tonight," Harry answered honestly. "As it stands I will answer whatever questions either of you will have for me once we move in together. Now, what did you want me to do for my detention professor?"
"Stupid boy! Do you have any idea how foolish and dangerous your idea is?! Any idea at all?!" Snape demanded. "Even if you could have gotten the drop on me how do you propose to enforce this co-habitation?"
"House elves and wards," Harry answered. "The detention sir?"
"I should just curse you, take you to the infirmary, and be done with it," Snape muttered. Instead of following through on the half hearted threat he transfigured the desk into a basic cot with a handkerchief being changed into a blanket. "You will be sleeping here tonight. The loo is through that door behind you beyond which is my private quarters should you have need of me during the night. I will put your clear insanity down to lack of sleep this time. If Umbridge asks you have detention for the next three nights with me and I simply deemed it too risky with your obvious lack of rest to have you work tonight."
Snape stalked out through the loo with a muttered goodnight. He did not see the predatory gleam appearing in Harry's eye nor the open smirk of a satisfied predator. Harry hadn't lied but he also hadn't actually expected the man to take him seriously even with mentioning the life debt and openly admitting his plans. If Harry had his way both dark wizards would be his by the start of the next school year.
Dumbledore would rue the day he decided to make Harry's life a living hell but first Harry had a stubborn Potions Master and an ornery Dark Lord to corral.
Chapter 2: Unusual Meetings
Severus Snape pondered over this new development as he paced his quarters in agitation. On the one hand he should probably take this to Dumbledore but the man was gone from the castle and Severus had a hard enough time getting away from the school for Death Eater meetings. On the other hand if he delivered the message to the Dark Lord, as Potter obviously wanted, then he might be crippled for failing to report the life debt considering what such a debt entailed. Then there was the unsettling fact that he honestly didn't think the brat was bluffing. It seemed that one way or another Potter planned to kidnap himself and the Dark Lord for at least the summer, if not longer, and attempt to either seduce them or force an alliance between the three of them
Abruptly, Severus realized that he didn't have a choice. The brat was just brazen enough to publicly leak the fact that he had given the Potions Master a message for the Dark Lord. If Snape didn't deliver it and word got back to the serpentine man Severus would quickly be headed towards hell in a hand basket. Swearing viciously the Professor withdrew a copy of the memory, placing it in a potions vial, and wrote out a note explaining what it was before enclosing both in an envelope and sending it off to Malfoy Manor via house elf. At least having it delivered like this meant that the Dark Lord would have a chance to calm down before he personally got within wand range again. Although, he was likely to feel the other man's displeasure through the Dark Mark if nothing else.
Lunch the next day had Severus biting back a scream and Harry collapsing with a shout as he clutched at his freshly bleeding scar. Thinking quickly the Potions Master rapidly approached the troublesome brat and started bodily dragging him towards the dungeons.
"Severus? Are you taking Mr. Potter to the infirmary?" McGonagall asked.
"Stupid brat got a botched potion on both of us last night when I caught him after hours. I thought it had been dealt with but there must have been a time delay factor. After all why would his scar and my mark trigger otherwise?" Severus practically snarled to his fellow teacher. McGonagall went white as she understood and accepted the cover story before covering their escape. Thankfully, Umbridge had chosen to lunch in her office that day.
"He's right pissed," Harry hissed quietly, still in pain even as the mark dropped from a fiery burning to a dull throb indicating the Dark Lord's displeasure.
"You think?!" Severus snarled angrily. "You didn't give me much choice in delivering the blasted message and any delay could have made it worse!"
When Harry didn't answer back he looked down to find the brat hovering on the edge of consciousness. Swearing quietly he bodily picked up the troublesome teen and made for his quarters. By the time they got there and Severus had activated his personal wards Harry was sitting up on the couch, still in obvious pain, and smirking as if he had just won the lottery.
"What?" Severus demanded suspiciously.
"He wants a meeting bad enough that you get to play go between without punishment or at least without much punishment," Harry answered honestly, fighting not to cackle triumphantly. "Expect a summons within the next hour or so. I don't mind if you knock me out so that I'm not getting into things while you're gone. Honestly, I'll probably be dragged into a vision for the meeting any way and it might be better to already be knocked out. I wonder if I'll be watching through his eyes or Nagini's this time?"
Severus went white at the implications of that and decided, for the sake of his sanity, that the brat could be stuck knocked out on his couch until supper. Harry didn't even try to dodge the stunner as darkness enveloped him.
The first thing that Harry became aware of after the stunner was slithering along the marble floor of Malfoy Manor as he approached the Dark Lord and the kneeling spy that had so upset his wizard. It was these thoughts and recognizing Snape that had Harry concluding that he was watching through Nagini's eyes this time. He only hoped that the serpent didn't try to eat anyone while he was still attached.
"Your message and the memory was of some concern to me, my dear Severus," Voldemort hissed, obviously still angry over the received information.
"Quite honestly, my own magic would not allow me to inform anyone of the life debt until and unless Potter ordered me to or if it would aid in his protection. It was something that Dumbledore did the morning after when he refused to take action against Black for tricking me into the path of a transformed werewolf. A werewolf that shouldn't have even been on the school grounds," Severus told the man somewhat grudgingly. Harry noted that he failed to mention that the werewolf in question had been a fellow student and one of his school yard tormentors.
Deciding that the rising wand was a potential risk to what he wanted out of this whole mess Harry opted to try and control Nagini. The snake gave a hiss of protest but her animal mind didn't stand much of a chance against his human mind. Harry mentally pushed her aside in favor of temporary control and lunging forwards to wrap around the Potions Master, forcing the Dark Lord to pause in his spell casting.
"~Nagini?~" Voldemort asked very carefully in parseltongue.
"~Not... exactly,~" Harry admitted through Nagini. "~This is part of what I wanted to discuss while the three of us lived together without trying to kill each other. Its just that this was my first attempt to do something rather than watching helplessly and feeling every crucio you hand out whenever this happens. I don't know how long I'll be here or how much control I have so I'm sticking to mostly simple things, talking not withstanding. As far as I know my body is still out cold at Hogwarts.~"
"It seems I may have suspected your loyalties needlessly. You will publicly reconcile with Potter. Should Dumbledore require a reason for your actions you have permission to either blame my orders or create a reason of your own. How you accomplish this is up to you. Report every time that Potter appears in either my mind or Nagini's," Voldemort ordered before swapping to parseltongue. "~You will report any further incidents to Severus and refuse to give further information on the matter to anyone else. In exchange I will agree to a truce for the summer only, including the co-habitation, presuming you will take a secrecy oath not to divulge whatever you may learn.~"
"~I will agree to the secrecy oath if you allow me to help. I want Dumbledore very dead,~" Harry hissed back even as he moved Nagini's body back a bit from Severus to curl up between the two wizards.
"~Another thing to be discussed,~" Voldemort agreed, with clear warning in his voice.
"~Don't hurt him? I forced his hand and I really do have things you both need to know. I just can't afford to be sent back to the muggles either,~" Harry admitted. "~I'll take his punishment when we meet up but I need him functional until then.~"
"~You aren't very good at this are you? Any agreement made in Parseltongue is magically binding,~" Voldemort commented wryly. "~There is no need for him to be punished beyond cheek with such important information that has been revealed in this meeting, off setting the apparent cost.~"
"~As long as you don't crucio him. In this state I feel it too and quit sending me those weird corridor dreams! They are driving me nuts!~" Harry admitted somewhat reluctantly.
Harry hated giving up that information but it was something the man honestly needed to know. He had also noticed that the information the Dark Lord deemed valuable enough to not punish Snape was not all indicated as coming from Snape. Well they would be getting told all of this come summer in any case so it wasn't like he was giving up what he considered to be state secrets. He really didn't care what personal information on him Dumbledore considered state secrets and was perfectly willing to share whatever the hell he felt like sharing.
"~I haven't been sending them. I've been trying to figure out how to personally enter that ministry department without notice or, alternatively, sending you after what I need there. I have made no secret of it,~" Voldemort told him honestly.
"~Damn, that means they have to continue and I have to keep reporting them until one of us goes if we aren't going to tip anyone off about our summer plans. We'll figure something out. I can feel the pull of whatever this is draining me and I don't want to wind up in the hospital wing again. Er, do you know how to go back to your own body when this happens? Its just that I've seen through both your eyes and Nagini's when she attacked Mr. Weasley just before Christmas. I've never been able to get back on my own,~ Harry asked sheepishly.
"~If its anything like what I was doing at the time you simply will yourself back to your normal body, like pulling on a tether,~" Voldemort answered with no little amusement at Harry's predicament. Harry tried it, gratefully leaving Nagini and the meeting behind.
"~The hatchling was rough,~" Nagini whined, moving to curl up on top of her wizard's feet and cuddle against his warm legs.
"~I'll take that to mean he is gone,~" Voldemort hissed in amusement. Nagini hissed her displeasure before hiding her head sulkily in the folds of his robes.
"~He aches. They are not taking proper care of him,~" Nagini finally admitted. "~He is ready to take a mate but he knows he will never be as grown as he should be. He feels hungry but seems to be so used to it that he forgets to have a rabbit regularly.~"
"~Something to investigate when he comes to us,~" Voldemort agreed with a frown before returning his attention to his spy and his language to English. "Severus, discover what you can about why the brat would be hurting but not seeking medical attention. It is of little consequence to me if you can't as he can be questioned later. Arrange for it to be feasible that you will be trusted with his safety for the summer. Should questions be asked admit that I ordered it to on the grounds of simply wanting him watched this summer. You have permission to inform Dumbledore that if you couldn't achieve it on your own you were instructed to approach him on my behalf. Tell him it is part of the price of an alliance I have been seeking for some time but assure him that it will extend limited protection to Potter and most students until they reach their majority. Make it sound like I am displeased with this cost but fully willing to adhere to it. The summer housing is... a trial run and better than keeping the brat in my dungeons."
"My lord, are you actually contemplating Potter's request?" Severus asked slowly, disbelief coloring his voice.
"If I am to learn more about this it needs to be done. When you return discretely check him for recent damage and find a way to keep him from skipping meals. His hunger bled through the link when he was temporarily possessing Nagini just now and she is complaining that he isn't remembering to eat. She is also complaining that he is in pain. We need to know what those symptoms are from," Voldemort ordered.
"Yes my lord," Severus acknowledged. Recognizing the dismissal he rose and left. He had a brat to kill lying in his quarters.
Chapter 3: Wake Up Call
Harry felt the hand on his shoulder shaking him roughly and didn't think. Subconsciously registering the hand as slim rather than meaty he attacked rather than cowered away. By the time he was fully awake and aware Snape was on the floor under his knee with his captured arm pushed painfully up his back.
"The wonders of a specialized compulsion charm," Harry smirked as his prey made a sort of strangled sound at being pinned beneath him. "You see Professor I learned to react a certain way when waking up and something the Weasley twins did for a prank got me thinking. After that it wasn't hard to learn a new wake up habit using a compulsion charm for a couple of months."
"Get off!" Severus snarled halfheartedly. Being pinned wasn't the problem it was the being overpowered by someone the man knew was more powerful than him and had expressed a romantic interest in him that was the problem. The previous night's reassessment had briefly included a thought of the brat actually in bed with him and wanting him. Sadly this meant that the thought was still available to resurface now that he was nominally helpless even though he could escape. He was already half hard inside his trousers, against the cold stone floor.
"Don't worry, I promised that I wouldn't force you," Harry told him, grin splitting his face even as it echoed in his voice. "Perhaps its just as well that you haven't said yes yet. Having your delicious body pinned beneath me is a real turn on. I would have loved to just strip you barely enough to sink inside you and ride you before finally letting you up, maybe conjure a toy to keep my seed from leaking out of you. Ah well, fantasies and ideas for another day."
With that Severus was let up very carefully and the pair stepped back, allowing each other space. Harry noticed but didn't comment on Severus' tightened trousers, mentally filing away the new information on his prey. He saw the Potions Master catch him licking his lips while studying the man as he hurried away without a word. Smirking Harry stretched and got ready to head to supper. The only thing that could spoil his mood right then was being forced to attend another detention with Umbridge.
True to form Harry's luck kicked in almost the instant he arrived at supper.
"Mr. Potter, detention for failing to attend my class today," Umbridge announced followed by her horrible giggle.
"Perhaps you might ask why he missed your class before assuming it was done without cause?" McGonagall suggested archly. "I understand the Professor Snape collected you at lunch to correct any damage a botched potion did to the pair of you after discovering the delayed activation?"
"I was out cold on Professor Snape's couch all afternoon," Harry shrugged, glaring at the pink bitch. "Ask Professor Snape, he left me there unconscious and I don't understand potions to that level. I assume he fixed whatever he's going to fix since he threw me out ten minutes ago. For all I know I just had to be left alone out cold for it to go away or he could have needed to do something horribly complex while I was knocked out. He didn't bother explaining and I was the one to ask for the stunner, even if I was being sort of sarcastic, so he can't be blamed for attacking me."
"You asked him to stun you?" McGonagall asked incredulously.
"I was in pain and I think I passed out at least once when he was taking me to the dungeons to get at his potions supplies," Harry shot back. He really didn't see what the big deal was. Their cover story explained everything and anything they might come up with as "symptoms" or side effects. It wasn't like their public personas were friends just yet so allowing someone who supposedly hated him to toss stunners at him simply to stop the pain wasn't that far off of possible.
"Why would you allow... never mind. One of these days I need to sit you down with the staff and get some answers on certain incidents that Dumbledore very firmly told us not to investigate," McGonagall sighed.
"Which ones? I don't mind giving memories for some of the stuff we've done as long as we don't get suspended or expelled and actually have time to do our homework around the detentions," Harry offered with a frown.
"Another day," McGonagall waved away his offer for the moment. "Some of the information involved addresses school security so we need to actually limit who attends. Staff members who have served the school for at least 5 years or more is the bare minimum requirement and the school herself may ban some people from attending. Hogwarts is very much alive and has opinions on these things. Well, off to supper with you."
"Good to know," Harry said with a blink of surprise before slipping over to the Gryffindor table for his meal. Umbridge was left fuming impotently while wondering how to get those memories and use them to destroy the brat.
Minerva caught a flash of her dour fellow head of house in the shadows of the doorway. His eyes were following Harry warily with a spark of unexpected excitement. She just knew this was going to create headaches. At the same time she was glad that Severus was starting to see the exceptional young man most of the staff had been watching since his sorting.
"Hem hem," Umbridge cleared her throat expectantly.
"No, Delores, I will not risk infuriating the school into triggering one of the invasion traps simply to try and let you attend a meeting that will not matter to you when you leave by the end of the year. There is still a curse on the Defense position. A curse which both the board and the ministry refuse to remove. Until such time as you can confirm an extended period as a staff member I can not risk the lives of the students by going against the basic wards of the castle. If you wish to take the matter up with the school board, the Wizengamot, and the castle... be my guest. It might even earn you a bit more cooperation from the rest of us, presuming you quit attacking Potter and actually help us explain to him. He won't comply without understanding," McGonagall explained in a long suffering tone. "Its one of the reasons he and Severus clash so much in addition to Severus' lack of patience for those who don't find his passion as fascinating as he does."
Umbridge and the rest of the school watched speechless as the irritated cat animagus stalked away from the fuming Ministry lackey.
After supper, despite the combined efforts of McGonagall and Snape, Harry still found himself in detention with the pink clad bitch of a witch. At least this time he had a different phrase to carve into the back of his hand, "I will respect my elders". It was the same controlling theme the bitch had been driving at but the actual wording was different enough and the quill had it appearing in a fresh line under the first one. It was easy for him to read both of them any time he went to check his watch.
Harry was more than a little surprised to find himself grabbed by Snape and hauled off back to the man's quarters when he was finally released close to midnight by Umbridge. The near instant barage of spells aimed his way on the other hand had him dodging and wondering if he had pushed just a bit too hard. Between the way he had responded to the rude wake up call and the unplanned meeting with the Dark Lord it was quite possible. As he was pondering this Professor Snape managed to hit him with a body bind. As a result Harry found himself once more trapped on the man's couch.
Grumbling Snape again cast the medical diagnostic spells and, deciding to be thorough, cast medical history spells on the trapped imp of a brat. Turning away to fetch tea for them as the spells worked he barely kept from dropping the tea service he had floating behind him when he returned to the living room. Harry chose to close his eyes at the look of distress on the older wizard's face rather than fume over being trapped in a bodybind. For an unending moment he only sound was the slow drip of blood from Harry's mutilated hand landing on the stone of the floor underneath the couch. Snape quickly placed the tea service on the coffee table and went after the now obvious bloody hand.
"How did this happen?!" Snape demanded in a nearly strangled whisper as he released the body bind, maintaining his hold on the injured limb.
"Detention with Umbridge," Harry said shortly as he sat up and refused to look at the other wizard.
"This is unacceptable! Why did you not tell one of the sane staff members?" Severus asked, obviously pained on Harry's behalf as he began treating the wounds caused by the vile quill.
"I tried. McGonagall didn't let me finish and told me to go away and keep my head down. That's basically all I ever get when I go to a teacher for help unless I get attacked instead," Harry admitted, still refusing to look at the other man. "Its not like anyone ever helps someone like me except sometimes Hermione and Ron, maybe the Weasley twins. It doesn't matter."
"It does," Severus insisted, floating a vial of Murtlap Essence over to them with his wand now that the wound was cleaned. He took the Murtlap Essence and carefully applied it to the open wound of the newest words carved in the back of Harry's hand. They both knew it was likely to scar with how deep it was and the finger shaped bruises on either side of the open wounds.
"She's doing it to every house except for maybe Slytherin. Everyone she targets aren't powerful purebloods. I think she's cursing everyone somehow not to have the parents show up any way but I don't actually know much about that beyond that she's attacked Hedwig and hurt her pretty badly at least once. I've see Fred and George help firsties with hands like mine. We pretty much keep Murtlap Essence around the common room specifically for after one of Umbridge's detentions," Harry said. His eyes were staring at the stone wall over Snape's shoulder as the man worked on his hand.
"I swear to you we didn't know," Severus insisted, self loathing and fury lacing his voice. "The only reason I'm not calling for the rest of the staff and then trying to kill her immediately is that its the middle of the night and your health is more important. That bitch will discover why I'm an Inner Circle Death Eater before this year is out."
"She will not! I will not loose you to the idiots in the Ministry for something like this!" Harry snapped furiously as he finally met the other man's furious gaze. "If I have to move up my plans and capture you now to do it then so be it! I'll just have to figure out a different way to grab the Dark Lord, probably after I've tamed you."
"As if you could tame me!" Severus scoffed. "Do you really think you can stop me if I decide that bitch needs to die?"
"Don't make me waste the damn life debt on this!" Harry hissed angrily. "Don't force me to order you to see to your own safety above all else!"
"You don't understand. The life debt and the unbreakable vow that Dumbledore forced on me to protect you are both screaming for me to eliminate the threat! Unless I can keep you away from her I have to do something or my own magic will punish me for the lack of action!" Severus snapped. A moment latter he realized what he had let slip and moved away like a skittish animal waiting to be hit. Harry watched as he manually collected the spell results and the medical supplies only to sink into the armchair, putting the coffee table defensively between them.
"You've just put your life in my hands. I'm flattered," Harry said, calming down as his anger at being unable to protect the other wizard faded.
"Don't be!" Severus snapped defensively as he hunched in on himself.
"I don't think you quite understand. You're mine now and I protect what's mine," Harry told him bluntly. "I will not take what you do not offer but you are mine and it takes a hell of a lot to force me into giving something or someone up. If anyone threatens you then you come to me. When the time comes for me to change your mark it will be done on your request. As for Umbitch... just make sure the rest of the staff claims any detentions she issues. We can't do anything about the actual lessons right now aside from what I'm already doing with my defense club so that will have to do for now."
"I can feed her to the Acromantula colony in the forest," Severus muttered angrily but didn't push it. Even if he got punished by all three of his nominal masters (Harry, Dumbledore, and Voldemort) killing the witch would be no great loss.
Harry gave him a look of warning but didn't try to tell him not to plot. He was satisfied that the dour man understood that Harry didn't want him in harm's way or at risk from the ministry.
Several minutes of silence passed as they sorted out their cups of tea and Harry studiously ignored the diagnostic results pile in Snape's lap. He knew he wouldn't be able to hide this from either wizard he hoped to snare but he had still been taught that it was a shameful weakness. Harry could only vainly hope that his full health history hadn't been taken and that anything that related to the Dursleys didn't show up on the scans.
"I can tell just by looking that you aren't getting enough rest nor are you eating enough. No more skipping meals if you don't want to go on a special meal plan when we co-habitate this summer," Snape warned softly, trying to regain control of the situation.
"Are you going to fight me on the deal I made with the Dark Lord? Refuse to live with us?" Harry asked calmly, watching the reactions of his prey.
"No, but convincing Dumbledore to allow it may be troublesome," Severus pointed out carefully.
"#4 Private Drive, Surrey is not and has never been my home. Those people are not and have never been my family," Harry informed him flatly. "It is a prison on par with Azkaban and worse than most muggle prisons in this country. Any further information on the matter will wait for this summer and a more secure setting to be discussed."
They both felt the magic binding him to the Dursleys and their home shatter in that moment. At the same time in the sealed Headmaster's office the trinkets linked to the wards meant to monitor them and Harry dissolved into dust.
"And if he requires you to live with the mutt or your relatives?" Severus asked carefully, not yet recognizing what had happened.
"Then we will discover if I can draw blood on his sagging carcass before I kill the Dursleys outright with a kitchen knife. I refuse to go back," Harry practically snarled as he gave the other man a shark-like grin. A grin that faded as he addressed the matter of his godfather. "As for Sirius... he thinks I'm James. He might call me Harry but I've also caught him calling me James and plotting out insane stunts for us to do as if I actually were my father. I dislike the control implications but the fact that Mrs. Weasley has kept my time alone with him at headquarters down to a minimum may actually have protected me. I don't like the look Sirius sometimes gets in his eye like he's not seeing what's in front of him and that he's willing to kill to make what he sees reality."
"This is one of the reasons those released from Azkaban require a year or more at St. Mungoes before they can safely walk the streets with the rest of us. He isn't all there right now and he may never be all there again. If being alone with him bothers you then use the Slytherin cunning you obviously possess somewhere in that thick skull of yours and make sure it doesn't happen," Severus ordered softly. The murderous glint in his eye oddly reassured the young man sitting across from him.
"Can I sleep on your couch tonight? I'll let you hit me with a stunner like earlier," Harry inquired carefully.
"As it is just past midnight and you do not appear to have any other immediately treatable damage beyond that from the blood quill... I see no reason why not. Do I have your permission to use what I have learned of you in the last few days to arrange for your summer housing in the manner I see fit?" Severus' return volley was something Harry had been expecting at some point but not this soon. Snape hadn't yet had a chance yet to go through the diagnostic results but the top page of the current problems one had told him what he needed to know that night. The rest could wait until morning after he copied and sent the pile off to Voldemort via house elf.
"Is this a condition of getting some sleep on your couch?" Harry asked warily. He wasn't keen on his secrets getting spilled but he couldn't argue that the man didn't know how to keep a secret. Besides there was a good chance that even if what he had been told didn't get spilled to the entire Dark Faction this summer the magic he had just broken would become public knowledge very quickly. If he was lucky he could twist it all to his advantage later.
"No, merely a matter I had been meaning to discuss with you based on your own actions," Severus corrected.
Harry considered that and reluctantly nodded his agreement. He didn't like giving up even more control than he had to but if he wanted Severus to trust him he had to extend some trust in return. In the spirit of that trust he left the parchments conjured by the earlier medical spells in the hands of the Potions Master.
"Rest. The bathroom is the first door on the left down the hall, through which is my office," Severus instructed as he summoned a spare pillow and thick blanket before levitating them over to Harry on the couch. The tea was soon finished and cleared away before they turned in. No mention of the paper work or its probable purpose was exchanged as they turned in for the night.
Breakfast the next morning started as usual. Severus took two cups of fine coffee laced with peppermint oil and extract of vanilla but otherwise taken black. Filius Flitwick had hot goblin ale and collected nearly a full serving platter's worth of the various meats. Minerva McGonagall sipped first at hot tea before switching to a milk heavy hot chocolate with cream on top, making her inner cat purr. Pomona Sprout happily ate her veggie omelet with a side of savory potatoes while sipping at a magical tea mix that she had created herself.
Umbridge arrived cheerfully and in the eye searing pink cardigan that everyone had deduced was her favorite. The staff had mournfully discovered that the evil pink clad bitch was a morning person! Something that Severus planned to take full advantage of that day. This was especially fortunate since he had spelled a powerful sleeping potion into Potter before leaving for the day.
"Minerva, Potter wont be attending to anything today. I found that he hasn't been sleeping and caught him just leaving detention last night around midnight. I had to spell a strong Dreamless Sleep potion into the brat to deal with the nightmares," Snape commented casually.
"That boy! Why he can't admit to being weakened in any way I don't know," Minerva tsked disapprovingly.
"Considering I only barely managed to capture him and treat his bleeding hand last night before it went septic I have to agree. Unfortunately we can't know the truth of anything about him with the way that Dumbledore placed himself as the brat's magical guardian. His refusal to allow us to check Potter properly and question him on certain important matters limits what we can do as does his insistence on speaking for the imp without even asking Potter his opinion. Its almost as if he's using Potter as a puppet," Severus observed coolly before he took another sip of his coffee.
"It doesn't help that Dumbledore closely guards who is allowed to talk to him even within the school," Filius Flitwick agreed unhappily. "I wanted to speak to him about his mother, Lily, regarding her incomplete Charms Apprenticeship and Dumbledore forbid mentioning her to Mr. Potter. I've seen him guilt students into staying away from young Harry aside from the Gryffindors and my own cousins working at the bank frequently complain about needing to speak to him. Every time they try to contact him they only ever get Dumbledore! Honestly, they've asked me more than once to try and see if he's at least being treated well but I can't get close enough to him for it! It worries me greatly, especially with how thin he tends to be at the start of each year."
"And why have you not brought this to me before?" Umbridge demanded incredulously.
"All you do is attack the boy, the rest of the students, and the staff," Pomona Sprout said bluntly. She was feeling hung over without having drunk a drop of alcohol within the last 48 hours. "When Dumbledore is here we can't speak of it without risking him doing something to Mr. Potter or firing us and arranging for a magical restraining order. We still wouldn't be speaking of it around you if Severus hadn't brought it up at breakfast. As far as we can tell you really don't care as long as no one does anything that doesn't agree with what you want. You decided that Mr. Potter was an evil little liar and would hear nothing else. If you won't even try to listen then why should we tell you anything?"
That very sharply ended the conversation until Severus rose twenty minutes later to get on with the day, having finished his breakfast.
"Any one of us would likely be a better guardian at the moment rather than Dumbledore, even Lord Malfoy. Whether the Dark Lord has returned or not is irrelevant if we can not know the truth of Potter's situation and health. Should he die both factions and a large portion of the public will be up in arms over his death for one reason or another. The Ministry will be blamed for it no matter the actual cause and the rest of the British Wizarding World could very well take up their wands only to tear apart the Ministry as a whole. The question, Delores, is if you are willing to take that risk. Right now you are the enemy and Fudge is destroying himself by slandering Potter instead of trying for the truth or removing Potter from Dumbledore's control. Incidentally, you can no longer oversee detentions with any student or else your Blood Quill will be using your own blood on a magical contract just before you face the Acromantula Colony in the forest. It is only on Mr. Potter's request that you didn't meet them last night after I finished treating him and put him to bed on my couch," Severus told her casually before stalking away.
The outcry that rose from the rest of the staff behind him was quickly cut off by a privacy charm from Filius as Severus smirked and chased the students finished with breakfast off to their Saturday activities.
Chapter 5 should be up within a day or so as well as the official graduation notice on the Bunny Farm 3!
The revelations at breakfast had been unpleasant for most of the staff. The student body noticed the immediate frosty distance aimed at Umbridge matched to the increase in help they received in escaping from the evil pink bitch. The sudden protectiveness around Harry when he reappeared on Monday was also noticed. This clued the rest of the school in to the fact that something had happened with Harry at the center of it, again.
"So, what happened?" the Weasley twins asked flatly when they finally cornered him at lunch.
"Getting fed sleeping potions all weekend?" Harry asked with a disapproving scowl aimed at the smug Potions Master. He would have to teach the man who was in charge of their budding relationship.
"The staff has gone all protective about you and has started helping more against Umbridge," Twin One, George, shrugged. This situation was slightly unusual but anyone who was remotely close to Harry was very aware of his saving people thing and his trouble magnet status.
"Anyone who is left alone with her for more than ten minutes has to report to their Head of House for a safety check of some kind. All detentions with her are to be served with a Head of House or revoked," Twin Two, Fred, added.
"Snape caught me after my last detention with Umbridge. He saw the blood and has kept me mostly out cold except for meals since treating my hand. He complained that I wasn't getting enough food and rest. He also did some scans of me and sent a copy, with my permission, to the Dark Lord. I can tell that he's furious with whatever showed up in the scans but I haven't asked about it," Harry admitted. "I'm not sure if I want to know what the scans found. I also got a truce agreement for the summer out of all of this."
"So how did your little Snape hunt turn out?" George asked, smirking as he changed the subject. "I'm guessing that you're laying the ground work for hunting his Darkness if you let the bat send him paperwork on you."
"When will you let us kneel to you, oh mighty lord?" Fred joked, hiding the serious question within the silliness.
"I'm nearly ready to make my first strong play. Both have been given fair warning and I might have managed alternate summer housing. Kneeling has to wait until I've secured my prey if you're still interested at that point," Harry told them both firmly, confusing any eavesdroppers.
Before anything else could be discussed the school was witness to an arriving Lord and Lady Malfoy with Umbridge, Fudge, and a Ministry employee at their side.
"Mother? Father?" Draco asked in confusion as he rose from lunch to approach his parents.
"Mr. Potter, come here," Umbridge ordered sternly. Harry gave her an unimpressed look but approached with both Snape and McGonagall quickly joining the group on his heels as concerned Heads of House.
"Mr. Potter an accusation has been placed against Dumbledore as your magical guardian, something which was unfortunately overlooked when he was to be arrested earlier this year. As such, until a formal investigation in regards to your treatment as his ward is completed, you will be placed with Lord and Lady Malfoy as your guardians. Something which should have been done in the first place after the death of your parents with Lady Malfoy and her sisters being your closest magical relatives," Fudge informed him pompously.
"What?!" Draco cried, barely shy of an outright screech.
"Uh, what's a magical guardian?" Harry asked warily. "I only know about my muggle relatives and my godfather. My godfather, who you ordered Kissed without even giving him a trial in third year. Just like you had Crouch Kissed without even talking to him or giving him a trial last year. I don't trust you not to have me Kissed for what happened last year."
"Why haven't I heard about this?" Lucius asked in a dangerous tone of voice. Fudge started spluttering denials until Harry offered up his own answer.
"I'm pretty sure Fudge and Dumbledore covered it up if that's any consolation," Harry shrugged but refused to get too close to the group as a whole. "I don't mind spending time with your family if Draco quits attacking me all the time but I refuse to go near Fudge with the risk that he'll feed me to a Dementor. Especially after they almost got me in third year more than once. With all of that basically happening here at Hogwarts I'm not going anywhere with him if I can help it."
"Severus?" Lucius asked sharply.
"I was hit with a secrecy spell," Snape gave his non-answer which was an answer all its own.
"Well that explains why you didn't harp on it and on nearly getting eaten yourself when you protected me and Hermione in third year," Harry said, nodding in understanding.
"Two different creatures," Snape pointed out huffily.
"It still counts with the entire mess being what it was," Harry argued back. "Besides I was unconscious when you got me back to the school and I would have slept longer if Dumbledore hadn't woken me up just to send me back with Hermione to do it again!"
"He what?!" Snape choked on his outrage.
"I didn't see my dad cast that night. I saw myself summoning Prongs against the entire hoard. I watched you collect us that night after you found us in the forest. It was... disconcerting," Harry admitted uncomfortably. The memories of that day/night complete with the time travel scramble to save Sirius and Buckbeak sometimes still gave him nightmares.
"How you are even remotely sane I will never know!" Severus exclaimed, throwing his hands up in complete exasperation.
"Would this be a bad time to mention the dead 60 something foot basilisk I left in the Chamber in 2nd year?" Harry offered cheekily. Severus suddenly stilled, his eyes both dangerous and predatory.
"Perhaps you would care to show us, Mr. Potter? To avoid the appearance of impropriety?" Lord Malfoy requested, smoothly injecting himself into the conversation.
"Er, as long as you take the blame when you tell your house guest?" Harry suggested uncertainly. "I don't feel like experiencing his rage even from a distance, again."
"How do you know about that?!" Draco blurted out. All of this was confusing him but the secret of their house guest was something he thought he understood.
"Draco!" came the sharp reprimand from both of his parents.
"Who exactly are you referring too, Mr. Potter?" Fudge asked with a frown.
"It doesn't really matter. I contacted him last week and arranged a temporary truce to work out certain things between us," Harry said bluntly, covering for his dense blond prat of a schoolmate. He mentally reminded himself to try and get said person to officially change his name so that they had a bit more freedom of movement on the dates he was plotting.
"There is no bloody way you know where the Chamber is!" Draco accused. Harry glanced around at the entire school listening in on the discussion and huffed before turning and heading for the corridor with a shrug.
"Twins, organize who follows us. 7th years on down, Slytherins first. Anyone who doesn't listen to me or is below 3rd year or can't fly on a broom can't come on pain of being your test subjects free of charge for a month," Harry ordered, tossing it over his shoulder. "Teachers first. I'll trust Draco's parents to keep him from doing something stupid but as a Governor or former Governor Lord Malfoy has a right to look at it with the Teachers and say if its too dangerous for anyone else to go poking around. No excuses!"
"Yes Harry!" came the gleeful chorus from the happily predatory Weasley twins.
"Prefects! Organize your house and keep them in the Great Hall until called for or released. Classes are dismissed for the day due to yet another fantastical feat by Mr. Potter," McGonagall announced ruefully. "I will add to Mr. Potter's punishment an additional week of detention and an open target for Peeves for two weeks."
"The Basilisk is dead," Harry pointed out, pausing in the doorway of the Great Hall.
"This is largely to keep them from rushing in and triggering unknown wards or booby traps," McGonagall shrugged. "Having skewered students trapped in the Chamber is not my idea of fun."
"Fair enough," Harry conceded. "I just said teachers first to keep someone from tripping and landing on the teeth or trying to touch it if the venom is still dangerous."
Harry's pause had allowed Flitwick and Sprout to catch up to the group. This gave him all four Heads of House, the Malfoy family, the Minister, and Umbridge as escort as he headed for Myrtle's bathroom on the second floor.
Again Merry Christmas!
No promises on additional Chapters but I am working on it.
Chapter 6: Harvesting Secrets from the Chamber
This one was a little exhausting to write.
Happy Christmas Eve!
No one said anything when they arrived at Myrtle's bathroom, withholding judgement until they understood what Harry was doing.
"Hi Myrtle," Harry greeted calmly as he entered the bathroom without pausing.
"Hi Harry," Myrtle giggled. "Are you going to brew potions again or look for the yellow eyes? Remember, if you die, you're welcome to share my toilet."
"I killed the yellow eyes in 2nd year but I kept forgetting to show the Professors so I'm doing that now," Harry answered honestly. Everyone watched as he hissed open the sinks before turning to his group of followers. "This leads to the passage that ends in the Chamber of Secrets. The next door, after a cave-in, also requires a Parseltongue password. I never really explored because I was in too much of a hurry to rescue Ginny and keep the school from closing. Even fighting the Basilisk again is better than going back to the Dursleys."
"As if you actually fought such a deadly creature and lived!" Draco scoffed. Harry just ignored him and stepped off into the blackness of the pipe slide, generating a number of alarmed sounds from his little tour group.
"Foolish brat!" Severus snarled before following his example and taking the pipe slide down into the bowels of the earth.
Harry landed at the bottom and quickly got out of the way so that the Potions Master didn't crash into him. Severus, after getting back to his feet cast cleaning charms on the pair of them and cleared some of the bones away from the landing zone. A cushioning charm also assured an easier landing for the rest of the group while a message spell told them it was nominally safe to proceed.
"We were 2nd years and Lockheart attacked us down here," Harry said blandly in the face of Snape's fury as the rest of the group caught up.
"And how exactly did you escape from a fully certified wizard at 12?!" Snape asked scathingly.
"He tried to use Ron's broken wand and it backfired, brought down the ceiling up ahead and took his memory instead of ours," Harry shrugged, taking them directly to the cave in. He let them examine it before starting towards the very small opening he and Ginny had crawled back through only to stop as the four Heads of House repaired the ceiling and cleared away the excess debris.
"What is that?" Severus asked, going pale as he spotted the tattered shed Basilisk skin.
"The shed skin. We tripped over it before Lockheart brought the ceiling down," Harry answered honestly baffled at their concern. No one cared in 2nd year so why should they care now? "Come on, the actual door is up ahead."
"Mr. Potter, may I have the shed skin? Also, if you truly did kill such a beast this size we need to arrange to harvest it, presuming it is still usable after all this time," Snape pointed out very carefully.
"This is impossible," the nearly forgotten nameless Ministry employee muttered in disbelief.
Before Harry could answer the Potions Master Lord Malfoy stepped in.
"Severus, look at him," Lucius said in a clam yet firm voice. "He has no idea of the value. I am certain that if he does indeed have a dead basilisk he would be perfectly happy to trade some of it as ingredients should you be willing to arrange for its harvest on his behalf. Why settle for a shed skin when you can have more than simply skin to play with?"
Severus looked from his friend to the student who had declared his intent to basically court him. He noted the while Harry truly didn't know the value of the skin the young man had noticed his avid interest.
"Professor? Its yours. Let there no longer be strife between us," Harry said formally. While it was clear that he had felt out how to say it formally rather than being taught the correct form what he had done was no less legally binding.
"I... yes, thank you," Severus practically squeaked as he stammered his way through an acceptance. A hasty charm on a pocket and careful movement of the skin into said pocket between the four Heads of House had it safely tucked away before the group started moving forwards again.
"You are far too generous Mr. Potter," Lady Narcissa Malfoy frowned in concern.
"If I want him to consider my courtship I need to end the bad blood between us first," Harry shrugged, shocking everyone yet causing Severus to blush a deep crimson that went down beneath his robes.
"Ah, so that's why ya dinna send him to Poppy this weekend. Ya dinna want him announcing it an' were likely panicking over t'e lad's approaching ya in t'e first place," McGonagall smirked, allowing her brogue free reign. Severus went and even deeper shade of crimson in embarrassment and refused to comment, busily double checking the snake skin in his newly expanded pocket.
"I'll have to register this with my cousins at the bank, especially if he did succeed in killing such a large and old Basilisk," Filius muttered in a mix of awe and concern.
"Keep up," Harry called over his shoulder reminding them that they still had a ways to go. The group hurriedly caught up and Harry absently noted that Draco had become subdued after they found the shed skin.
They quickly came to the vault door that was the proper entrance to the Chamber.
"Professor? I'm hoping there was some sort of preservation enchantment on the chamber since I don't really want to know what rotting Basilisk is like," Harry said pointedly before ordering the door to open without letting anyone respond to his statement. The lack of foul stench told them all that Harry was right to hope for the preservation enchantment. "Huh, what do you know I was right."
Harry bemusedly led them into the Chamber and ignored the sounds of shock and heart attacks as he wandered up to the corpse without concern.
A solid whack from behind him and a whiny "Ow!" told him that the Malfoys were not amused that Draco kept going after him with this proof of his insane luck staring them in the face.
"How exactly did you kill it?!" Flitwick asked in open disbelief at the sight before him. Severus quietly choked out a command for his personal elf to fetch his harvesting kit. A quiet set of pops and surprised squeaks from the elves told Harry he had received it. The thuds of three separate bodies told him several people fainted at the sight of the dead Basilisk, probably the three Ministry people.
"Dumbledore sent Fawkes and the Sorting Hat to help me when I faced of with the stupid diary and the diary called the Basilisk out to eat me. I ran around dodging it until Fawkes managed to peck its eyes out. Ran around a bit more after the hat gave me the sword that is on the wall in the Headmasters office. Finally when it went to actually eat me I stabbed it through the top of the mouth. Got a fang in my arm for my trouble, used the fang to kill the diary, then Fawkes cried on my arm fixing the venom and stopping most of the bleeding," Harry answered idly. "Dumbledore took away the sword when I got back up top with Fawkes flying all of us."
"You mean to tell me that a goblin crafted weapon chose you as its wielder and Dumbledore took it from you?!" Flitwick demanded. Harry turned to face the small professor at the sound of real anger in his voice.
"Its not like it was my first kill or that I even knew how to use it right. I went with the idea that the pointy end went into what was trying to kill me," Harry offered, blinking in surprise at his Professor's clear anger. What the hell did the man expect?! He had been 12 for Merlin's sake!
"Show me the wound you received from the beast," Flitwick ordered, forcing his rage under firm control. Harry shrugged and rolled up his sleeve to show the scar caused by the fang to the smaller part goblin.
That's right about when Draco got a good look at the snake. His piercing scream and attempt to bolt clearly showed why he wasn't a Gryffindor. Harry looked at his school rival and saw the terror in his stormy grey eyes.
"To be fair if I wasn't busy trying to stay alive and talk it out of eating me at the time I probably would have done the same thing," Harry commented calmly as emerald met grey.
"You're insane," Draco hissed at him, before hiding behind his mother again.
Snape approached Harry while he was distracted with Draco only to hit him with the most adorable look of hope and puppy dog eyes the younger wizard had ever seen. In fact the look had him doing a double take which distracted him just long enough for the Potions Master to get close and hold up his harvesting kit with a hopeful "Please?" that almost broke Harry's heart. Harry resisted as much as humanly possible before caving to the unexpected lethality of Severus' dreaded puppy dog eyes.
"Okay," Harry agreed ruefully. Severus made a sound of absolute glee before dashing for the Basilisk corpse.
"He used his puppy dog eyes?" Lucius snickered. Harry nodded ruefully, setting off everyone else in understanding laughter.
"I think Pomona and Poppy are the only ones with any true resistance to that look and they did it through exposure," McGonagall snickered as everyone still awake laughed at Harry's fall to the dreaded puppy dog eyes.
"The eyes are destroyed!" Severus cried in utter dismay.
"It was the only way to bring it down without a damned rooster with only a Phoenix and a sword!" Harry called over his shoulder, refusing to look at the likely pouting Potions Master.
"He doesn't use them often but they are all the more devastating for it," Flitwick snickered. It was an unspoken rite of passage among the staff, exposure to Severus' version of the puppy dog eyes.
"I don't know enough about what's valuable on it and what's not. I'm tempted to just give him the whole thing but your reaction earlier says it might not be the best idea for whatever reason," Harry admitted once their laughter had calmed down.
"Why?" Narcissa asked almost gently. Draco regained just enough of his courage to step out from behind his mother and quit cowering away from the terrifying corpse that his godfather was gleefully attempting to process.
"Partly because I know he would enjoy playing with it and partly because he knows what to use it for. I might keep the skin for a cloak or dueling robes but there is enough skin to make more than one set," Harry told them with a shrug. By his reckoning all of them knew or suspected that Voldemort was in fact back and the only threats to that knowledge were the three ministry idiots still out cold near the entrance. "I still have to figure out what to bribe the Dark Lord with so that he will actually talk to me instead of trying to just kill me the next time we see each other."
"Are you willing to accept our help?" Lucius asked cautiously. The last time he had actively faced off against this young man he had lost.
"I'm willing to take it under advisement," Harry said guardedly.
"Call Dobby, unless he has bonded to another master he is likely still waiting for you to offer him a family bond. Dobby can help process your kill and make anything you please out of the items such as skin, bone, and teeth. Just check with Severus first in case they happen to be unendingly rare potions ingredients that he will weep over loosing to something less than potions related," Lucius advised bluntly.
"Dobby? Winky?" Harry called. Two elves popped in, one in an assortment of mismatched clothes and the other in a dirty set of clothes. Harry was thankful to note that Dobby was not leaping on him immediately and Winky was sober for once.
"Yes Master Harry Potter sir?" Dobby asked, warily eying the Malfoys.
"Dobby, er do you want to bond with me?" Harry asked awkwardly, showing off his lack of pureblood training.
"YES! Dobby woulds love to!" Dobby cried in joy. While he was distracted by his joy Harry turned to Winky.
"Winky, I don't know if I need another house elf right now but if you ask Lord Malfoy he might need one since Dobby didn't get on with them? And if they don't want to bond with you I'll bond to you too," Harry offered. "I just don't have anyone but me right now and you said you wanted a proper family so you might like the Malfoys. One person doesn't usually make a family but they have three. I'm sorry my wand had you given clothes that you didn't want."
"Winky might haves a new family?" Winky asked, painful hope on her face as she looked towards the Malfoys.
"Not if you are unable to care for yourself adequately," Lucius said sternly, eying her dirty clothes with a frown. Winky looked down to see what he was looking at, squeaked and popped away, only to return clean and properly attired in slightly different clothes.
"Is Winky appropriate now?" the she-elf asked hopefully.
"It will do," Lucius said grudgingly. Harry could tell that most of it was a show and smothered a grin as the pair approached each other. "Do you elf Winky wish to bond yourself to my house and family? To care for us as we care for you? To serve us until the bond is broken?"
"Winky does!" Winky affirmed. Winky glowed as the bond settled, flushing her skin with a more healthy green as she connected with the Malfoy family magic.
"Go to the Manor and get appropriately attired then return here as I may yet have tasks for you," Lucius ordered firmly. Winky smiled wide and smartly popped off to her new home.
"Do I just do the same thing?" Harry asked uncertainly.
"How can you not know this?" Draco demanded, utterly confused.
"I live with muggles when I'm not at Hogwarts," Harry shrugged. He really didn't want to talk about it.
"Mugglys that's bes using Master Harry Potter Sir as bads House Elf!" Dobby spat, openly angry on Harry's behalf, attracting everyone's instant attention. "Dobby shoulds be feeding bad mugglys to big forest spiders! Master's Grangey not treated as bads House Elf! Nots hit, nots told nos foods, nots made work until bleed, nots made work when hurting!"
"Dobby!" Harry said sharply, cutting off the still unbound elf. The Chamber rang with a deadly silence as Harry wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole.
"Is this why you wanted to help him so badly that you resorted to trickery to break the bond? Why you ask for pay even though your very life is draining away without a proper bond?" Lucius asked, his voice deadly calm.
"Does it matter?" Harry asked, his face blank, his eyes as hard as granite.
"Yes," Lucius said harshly, his own voice as cold as granite even as everyone else chimed in with the same vehement agreement.
Harry refused to respond to anything further on the matter after that aside from grimly helping Severus and the elves harvest the Basilisk. Eventually the matter was dropped. With so many hands working together, ignoring the still unconscious Ministry idiots of Umbridge, Fudge, and nameless, along with the occasional school elf called in to help they were done eight hours after they started harvesting the beast.
Unknown to the Chamber group Susan Bones had floo called her aunt about what was happening. The staff combined with the Weasley twins, seeing a golden opportunity to get Umbridge out without making Harry another target, told her of the blood quill detentions. The Weasley twins arranged for those scarred to be seen by the Aurors resulting in the entire school discovering what exactly Umbridge had been doing to their classmates.
Upon leaving the Castle both Lord and Lady Malfoy exchanged a look behind Fudge's back. Once they had young Potter as their legal ward the man in front of them was going to be utterly destroyed for putting the children at risk via the Dementors. Lucius had willingly received his own punishment for his own place in the Chamber debacle and was still under punishment for losing the Diary. Hopefully, having Potter safely in their home for the summer would appease the Dark Lord.
Chapter 7: Office Politics
For those who read the rough draft this is not identical and it has added material at the end.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Lucius heard about Umbridge's arrest after the fact the next morning when he was making his way to a meeting with Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE), and Lord Edward Rosier, Head of the Department of Family. In one way taking the Potter Heir that night had been sensible because Edward Rosier was a Death Eater. Yet Lucius could not find it in himself to respect that decision with what he had discovered only the night before about what Heir Potter had been forced to live through for all that he had been told almost nothing concrete. Dumbledore had a great deal to answer for and Lucius planned to make certain he answered under truth serum once the old man was finally arrested.
"I am the Undersecretary to the Minister! You can't do this to me!" Umbridge screeched as she was roughly moved between the holding cell and an interrogation room.
Lucius grimaced at the noise as he smoothly wove through the crowd of Ministry workers to slip in to Madam Bones' office for his meeting. Rosier was waiting with the woman. Both had a chestnut brown hair but Rosier's was shaded more towards auburn with a strong red under color. Amelia had blue eyes and strong cheek bones but they were more rounded than sharp despite her rather angular face. Rosier, on the other hand, had something of a rugged look with a great deal of bulk. No one would call him ugly but he also wasn't handsome either.
"Madam Bones, Lord Rosier," Lucius greeted in a soft voice, weary and not bother to hide it. The other two nodded as he took his seat, recognizing that even if they were discussing business he needed to relax if only for a moment before they got started.
"Lucius?" Edward inquired with a frown, half greeting half concern.
"I came across some disturbing information yesterday. You both, of course, know that Cornelius escorted myself and my wife to meet with Heir Potter yesterday about temporarily granting us his Magical Guardianship until the mess with Dumbledore was cleared up. What you, and most people, don't know is that Heir Potter has never been aware of any guardian beyond his beastly muggle relatives. I also discovered, through my previously released house elf, that he is being used as a house elf by them. A thoroughly mistreated one I might add. I discovered that Dobby forced the breaking of the bond with my family to try and protect Mr. Potter, unaware of his circumstances and still largely unable to interfere unless young Harry bonds with him. Mr. Potter also has no knowledge or training in regards to his heritage and duties as a member of our society. He didn't even know how to bond to a house elf until I showed him yesterday!" Lucius ranted, greatly upset and certain that these two people would be equally as appalled.
"Dare I ask if that is the worst of it?" Edward asked in wary anger.
"It isn't. Fudge has been taking Dementors onto Hogwarts grounds and ordering the Kiss be given to various persons without trial or even interrogation. It would be bad enough if he had been doing such a thing elsewhere but he chose to do it around our children! Heir Potter has apparently been nearly Kissed on multiple occasions at Hogwarts," Lucius told them angry enough to barely refrain from raging or weeping. "To top it off the reason I didn't get back to the Ministry yesterday is because I was helping Severus and Heir Potter render down his kill from his 2nd year, Salazar's Beast in the Chamber of Secrets. A Basilisk that was at least 60 feet long! How he managed to kill it at age 12 terrifies the life out of me!"
"Even if the Dark Lord is back this is not acceptable," Amelia said icily.
The thought of the Dementors actually close to the students sent an icy shaft of terror through her heart, much less with them actively giving someone the Kiss. To stop that from happening again she would happily ally with the Dark Lord to protect the children. Heir Potter actually killing an ancient Basilisk that could wipe out any location it chose to wander was less of a concern only by the fact that several years had already passed since then and there had been rumors of it happening at the time. The fact that they had rendered down the beast just that day was rather heartening. She would have to request a copy of the memory from Lord Malfoy later.
"I agree, as does the Dark Lord. He instructed me to inform you that Potter came to him for a truce, at least for the summer. None of us had any idea about any of this and despite the tactics used over the years can you ever remember actual reports of the Dark Faction harming magical children?" Lucius asked bluntly, slightly bitter over what had been discovered.
"No, if anything nefarious is done to a child by the Dark Faction or the Death Eaters it is generally a quick clean kill. The Light Faction usually arranges for care and placement of discovered or surviving children, blocking the Dark Faction. Yet most of my abuse reports come from the Light Faction or the muggleborns, who are considered de facto Light faction," Amelia admitted grimly. She wasn't blind and even if she had been trying to nail Lucius Malfoy for years her sense of fairness required her to actually look at the actions of all involved instead of assuming or making sweeping generalizations.
"Magical blood spilled is always a tragedy," Lucius said softly. "My problem with the muggleborns is their lack of respect for our culture, the weakness they introduce to bloodlines, as well as the security risk to all of us as a whole. If someone disproves the bloodline weakness I will be ecstatic but the security risk is not so easily solved. Dumbledore has intentionally and maliciously removed the culture classes. The only things taught are spells, potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Runes, Arithmacy, and Divination. They have no classes on music, culture, law, politics.... Nothing on how our world works and functions, nothing on the various treaties or other magical cultures, nothing on doing anything but killing anyone and casting basic spells. Their History course is a joke! Binns is still teaching it!"
"I am very aware of the poor educational quality," Amelia grimaced. "We need to spend extra time and money training our Auror candidates. Even the brightest NEWTs student need another two years of spells and things before I can safely put them in the field."
"I'm going to assume, since I'm here, that you need guardianship of Heir Potter? At least temporarily?" Rosier asked grimly. This was not the pleasant little meeting he had thought it was going to be but instead a shocking one. He would need a stiff drink after this.
"You assume correctly. Whether Sirius Black is guilty or innocent he still spent too much time in Azkaban to be safe around people especially without having received proper treatment after the fact. My wife is Heir Potter's closest magical relative and is eligible over her elder sisters due to Azkaban and disinheritance respectively," Lucius pointed out. "I mentioned the truce to assure Madam Bones that he is not at risk from the Dark Faction or the Dark Lord for this summer and next summer he will come of age in any case. The hints I received yesterday prove he is being mistreated by the muggles and kept ignorant of everything being a part of our world entails. He might as well be muggleborn except I suspect he knows less than a muggleborn and is being kept that way intentionally."
"I'll start the process of investigating his muggle relatives but I need their address," Lord Rosier said decidedly. "In the mean time what you've told me here today has officially put them under suspicion of child abuse and I am removing their guardianship of Heir Potter pending the results of the investigation. Your wife will have the paperwork granting her guardianship by the end of the day. Anyone else can petition for guardianship only after the investigations are completed, as per protocol."
"Thank you," Lucius said, sagging into his seat and showing how concerned he had actually been over the matter.
"The truth, Lucius. How badly does he want Heir Potter in easy reach? Is he in any way a risk to Potter?" Amelia asked bluntly. She was already plotting who to send as his bodyguard if the answer wasn't satisfactory.
"I only know that the truce is magically binding on both of them for the summer holidays and that it was Potter who decided they should co-habitate with Potions Master Snape. The Dark Lord decided this was important enough that I might just gain forgiveness for losing something immensely precious to him while he was... away. It was something he valued more highly than most of us value children but I was never privy to its actual nature," Lucius admitted. "The truce is binding, they can not hurt each other and in succeeding in this I may just owe Potter a life debt. The Dark Lord had been wondering about marking Draco early as part of my punishment and setting him an impossible task. Mr. Potter's offer and magical truce is preventing that. It is my hope that housing Potter for the summer will act as enough of an apology. I also hope that his presence near the Dark Lord will ease the unknown illness or curse he appears to be contracting and keep him from slipping into madness."
"If his open obsession with Potter is a symptom... that could get very ugly," Lord Rosier grimaced.
"I know," Lucius sighed. "His punishment choices and general demeanor have stabilized since the truce with Potter was agreed on. He's slipping less but he has also gained an unnerving and unspoken fascination with Severus to match the one aimed at Potter. Its as if his building connection with the two of them is fixing something that was broken when he was re-embodied."
"Wait, he was without a body?" Amelia demanded, accidentally reminding them that she was not a member of the Death Eaters.
"Yes," Lucius answered shortly, his pureblood mask suddenly up.
"Then he was legally reborn upon gaining a new one. He can't be charged for anything that happened before his re-birth," Amelia groaned. "Get him a legal name change and tell him I'll talk to him, presuming he's actually sane. I want to keep this mess from becoming another terror campaign like the last time."
"That's... surprisingly generous of you," Lord Rosier said carefully.
"No, it really isn't," Amelia said ruefully. "I want my niece to grow up safe and happy. I actually see the damage of a weakening Statute of Secrecy and the Ministry corruption on a regular basis. Besides, I said talk not join. I am willing to play neutral for the moment but this needs to all be as legal as possible. Hell, if it will keep him away from the terror campaign I'll sponsor him in the Wizengamot. He gets a second chance and a clean legal slate, don't let him waste it."
They murmured thank yous and excused themselves, both Inner Circle members were very thoughtful about their very odd meeting.
True to Rosier's word Narcissa was back at Hogwarts, fresh guardianship papers in hand, by supper time.
Chapter 8: Moving House
Dumbledore munched happily on his lemon pie. He was quite pleased that Umbridge had been removed so that he could return to acting as Headmaster despite the Ministry's silly insistence that he needed to be arrested and tried. As if they could hold him! Besides it was all for the Greater Good. They should be happy with him making the hard choices for them!
The looks the staff had given Dumbledore upon his return were of some concern but it wasn't anything that he couldn't handle and he could always fire them. Alas, it would be a tragedy to lose such talented people especially as the fight against the Dark was heating up but needs must. Young Harry also needed to be reeled in a bit from the comments given during the reports by the two youngest Weasleys but that could be handled next weekend or just after this year's finals. He would have to conduct the non-NEWT and non-OWL tests himself but it wasn't a hardship with his administrative copies of Lupin's tests from Harry's third year.
Honestly, the old man was more concerned that Fawkes seemed to be put out with him for some unfathomable reason. It perplexed Dumbledore deeply as he had only been working for the greater good. They must be ready when Tom came out in the open after all and all the Dark families needed to be culled or at least leashed securely.
The sound of doors slamming open had him looking up from his dinner only to watch, stunned as a stream of Aurors led by Narcissa Malfoy and Amelia Bones marched into the Great Hall.
"Severus," Lady Malfoy greeted as she stepped forwards first, taking the led.
"Narcissa, to what do we owe this unexpected visit?" Professor Snape inquired with polite wariness.
"I was hoping to have a word with Draco, yourself, and Mr. Potter about some paperwork I just received. Professor McGonagall is welcome to join us as Mr. Potter's Head of House. Amelia and I simply arrived at the same time on separate business," Narcissa said delicately. "The students might want to finish supper in their common rooms to avoid... accidents."
"May I inquire which staff members need to remain for the conference with the Aurors and if I might join the discussion regarding Mr. Potter?" Filius Flitwick inquired politely.
"We exchanged reasons on our way up to the castle," Madam Bones admitted wryly. "As such I can confidently say that the Heads of House are not required in regards to the presence of my group until shortly before we leave and the students don't need to be present for our discussion. It was just bad luck that we arrived during supper instead of immediately afterwards. As Lady Malfoy is here on legal business connected at least partially to our own presence I offered her our support if things went... badly and to provide a neutral mediator if the need arose."
"I may need an oath to keep the meeting secure but I see no reason why you can not attend Master Flitwick," Narcissa said honestly. The man could help her get a read on how the goblins would take the change in guardianship and between the three Heads of House she could get a general idea of how Harry was getting on in school.
"Very well, all students please return to your common rooms, yes that include you Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Potter, the rest of supper will be served there. I will call for anyone who is needed," Dumbledore instructed firmly.
It was not lost on the staff, Aurors, Lady Malfoy, or most of the higher years that his power play bypassed the legal right for Draco's mother to speak to him. It was suddenly very clear to Madam Bones that Dumbledore was effectively holding all of their children hostage most of the year and dictating what they learned. With the blind way most of the school simply obeyed she suddenly had the leaden understanding why most of her Aurors were compromised either for or against Dumbledore with how the students were so obviously brainwashed into blind obedience to his instructions. A man who truly is uninterested in politics, as the Headmaster claimed he was, would not arrange to hold so many key positions with such a high level of influence especially on the young, the impressionable, and the Heirs to powerful families.
"Dumbledore, Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy need to remain unless I need to charge you with kidnapping the Heirs of Noble and Ancient Houses from their rightful guardians," Bones' voice cracked out before she even knew that she herself had spoken.
The students, now becoming aware that something was actually wrong, paused in their movements. Unconsciously the Weasley twins and the most loyal of the DA started forming up around Harry, hands drifting towards their wands. Those upper years not in the DA took note of this alongside the Aurors and started carefully shifting the younger students towards the walls, out of the potential line of fire.
"They are my students," Dumbledore said, his voice suddenly hard as his hand dropped towards were Harry knew he kept his wand.
"Professor if you start something I will take the risk of telling the Dark Lord we need him here through our mind link to rescue the students from you," Harry drawled. "I'm sure he'll be happy to take my unconditional surrender to him as a fair price for protecting the students."
Severus hissed in shock, recognizing that the brat wasn't bluffing. He had seen the exact same determination aimed at him when Harry had informed him of wanting a relationship. If that stubborn tilt was anything to go by the powerful young man would find some way to get his way. Then again his stubborn stance on claiming Severus himself and the Dark Lord had been even more firm.
"You aren't going to let me get away... are you?" Severus asked in a mix of dread and resignation.
"Nope," Harry said in open amused. "It might take me years to convince the two of you but unless we kill each other or some idiot decides to keep me as a pet under love potions it will happen eventually. That reminds me, I need to ask Gringotts to put more restrictions on my accounts in case someone does try something stupid like that. It probably wont work if someone tries it with me being able to throw off the Imperious but better safe than sorry."
"Something which we will need to discuss privately as I am your magical guardian," Dumbledore said reprovingly as he looked disappointingly over the top of his glasses.
"Actually, you are not," Narcissa informed him with a smirk. "That is the reason I am here today. Harry Potter is my ward by blood right and family magic. You should have cleared cousin Sirius of his false imprisonment if you wanted to keep Mr. Potter in your camp, unaware of who he is and what power he holds in our world. The paperwork has all been filed and the first magics cast. Oh, and the next time you want a puppet weapon? Don't touch my family!"
The roar of her last sentence echoed around the room even as it became enhanced by her furious magic, swirling in fiery patterns of illusion around her form.
"Huh, so that's what Sirius meant about pissing off the woman in the Black family," Harry's mater of fact statement echoed around the nearly silent great hall for all to hear.
There was a sudden series of pops of house elves arriving as the majority of the school suddenly found themselves magically moved against the walls of the hall with the tables and food vanishing.
"Dobby's being getting Potter Family Elves to protect Master Harry Potter Sir!" Dobby announced gleefully.
"Dobby? As far as I know I don't own anything but what is in my one vault and that's going to have to stretch until I find a job after school. How can they be Potter Family Elves if they.. er, aren't mine?" Harry asked very carefully.
"Youse not bes wanting us?" came the squeaked dismay of a female elf.
"Hardly. He is simply confused because his previous guardians have taught him nothing of his responsibilities or of his assets. I will need some time to explain things to him but he has not formally rejected any of you," Narcissa corrected quickly and firmly.
"What?! No! I didn't reject you... er, unless you want to be rejected?" Harry asked uncertainly. the horrified looks and squeaks of dismay told him that no, they didn't want to be rejected. "Alright! Alright then... I don't reject any of you. If you really want you can be my house elves..."
A giant flash of power nearly blinded everyone and when they looked again every elf present had a deeper color of green to their skin, stood taller, and boasted new attire. Each elf, Dobby included, now wore a dark grey uniform with a crimson red line version of the Gryffindor crest outlined in hunter green, circled by a basilisk, over where a human heart would be.
"We's Master Harry's elvesies now!" Dobby crowed triumphantly even as Dumbledore was spluttering in outrage at everything that had just happened.
"Er, just out of curiosity why were all of you asking to be my elves? I mean I can sort of understand Dobby with how hard he tried to keep me alive in second year... even if he didn't go about it right but the rest of you?" Harry asked curiously.
"We's always been Potter elvesies!" a female elf squeaked smugly.
"Are you telling me that you have no knowledge of even the family house elves?" Narcissa asked in a dangerously soft and calm voice. At first Harry wasn't sure how to answer that before deciding that biting the bullet and being extremely blunt might work best.
"Ma'am, I regularly got punished for even saying the word magic much less performing accidental magic growing up at the Dursleys. What do you think?" Harry asked, careful not to give away any more of his personal secrets but still get the point across.
"Narcissa, who was his previous guardian?" Madam Amelia Bones asked calmly in a tone of voice that told her niece that she was utterly furious.
A glance down at the paperwork, just because he had implied it earlier didn't make the paperwork check any less necessary, had Narcissa drawing her wand even as she answered with a hint of a snarl in her voice. "Dumbledore and my ward was declared of age during the damn Tournament. Something which gives him the right to cast magic under any legal circumstances and the right to choose to manage his own affairs, including a place to live. As we don't have actual full emancipation, partly because of the magic surge during magical majority, he is still subject to having a guardian. Amelia dear, I do believe that whatever else we might disagree over we can agree that Mr. Potter's situation needs investigation with the expectation that it has been grossly mishandled."
"Agreed," Amelia practically growled as she drew her own wand. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore you are under arrest for not only the previous charges but also pending charges of at the very least gross negligence. More charges will be added as the investigation uncovers information. Hand yourself over peacefully and no one need get hurt."
"Now see here," Dumbledore blustered. Before he could protest further or make an excuse Harry acted.
"Elves, get the students and staff bar Dumbledore out of here!" Harry shouted. The house elves happily acted, grabbing people at random with the people in the line of fire taking priority. In under a minute the only people left in the Great Hall were Dumbledore and the Aurors.
Chapter 9: Of Bargins and Summer Plans
This would have been up 10-12 hours ago but we lost power....
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The only reason the Aurors and Madam Bones got a decent first shot in was the fact that almost everyone remaining was in shock over the sudden disappearance of the entire school population. That said there was a reason why Dumbledore won against Grindlewald in their duel and it wasn't just because they were former friends who were often mistaken for lovers. The first stunner went wide but it also woke everyone from their stupor with Dumbledore being the slowest as he mostly dealt with paperwork and children or government officials. The Aurors and Hit Wizards with Madam Bones, on the other hand, were highly skilled combatants and used to working together.
Dumbledore's response to the stunner that went wide was to lash out with some sort of fire whip to catch the spell and those that followed quickly afterwards. Using the fire whip as a fluid shield he worked his way around the head table and chairs left behind and set to trip him up on the dais. With the barrage of spells constantly heading for him he didn't have time to banish or vanish them out of the way as he moved. Due to facing a large number of opponents and trying to move around obstacles while controlling a difficult spell it was no wonder that he didn't notice the slick patch of floor. One step and his foot went out from under him, forcing him into a split that hurts all but experienced gymnasts. Dumbledore moaned in pain as his defense dropped, forcing him to cast shields and try to ride out the onslaught as he forced himself back to his feet on the slick floor. Half way to his feet his shields broke and he got a face full of blasting hex. Only the defenses woven into his clothes and hat kept him from being killed, still it knocked him out cold and gave him a nasty concussion. This allowed the team of Aurors and Hit Wizards to clap him in magic suppressing cuffs and officially arrest him.
"Now that Dumbledore is in custody... find the rest of the school, including my niece!" Amelia thundered, setting everyone scrambling. Some took Dumbledore to the Ministry holding cells while everyone else set to searching for the missing school members.
Mean while the rest of the school plus Lady Malfoy had been placed in the grand ballroom of Malfoy Manor, thanks to Dobby, with the Malfoy elves providing refreshments. They kept everyone in the room except for Draco and Narcissa as this was their home. Harry on the other hand was taken to a bathroom, magically striped and placed in a hot bath the size of a small swimming pool. There were squeaks of dismay at the sight of his scar riddled too thin form as they set to washing him. Harry spluttered and fought the magical manhandling as he was forcibly washed then dressed in some of Draco's old robes before being promptly in the next room over.
"What the hell was that?" Harry asked dangerously. He was standing in the sitting room attached to the bathroom/bedroom combo he had just been forcibly washed in and more than a bit grumpy at the surprise wash.
"A cleansing that every new family member goes through as soon as they step foot on the grounds," a Malfoy portrait on one nearby wall smirked evilly. "Welcome to the family. It doesn't matter if you were adopted or just became a ward of the family or if you happen to be a bastard or born of an affair. The magic of the family and house has recognized you as a Malfoy now."
"Okay..." Harry said warily. There was a pop behind him, signaling a welcome distraction from the smirking blond portrait, heralding Dobby's arrival.
"Does Master bes wanting anything? Master's Hoggywarts peoples safely in big ballroom. Elvesies taking good cares of them!" Dobby squeaked happily. He was blissful at being able to serve his Master Harry Potter Sir.
"Can you just take me to the others? Please?" Harry asked carefully. Dobby happily grabbed him and popped him into the ballroom where everyone else was... only to land right in front of Lucius Malfoy and Lord Voldemort facing off with the school staff.
"Your Hoggywarts peoples Master!" Dobby announced proudly before popping away again.
"Sometimes that elf," Harry grumbled as he took in the situation. Taking a deep breath he turned towards Lord Malfoy and Voldemort, giving them a brief bow before apologizing. "I apologize for our sudden arrival. Madam Bones came to arrest Dumbledore and he threatened the students. When the elves offered us a way to escape after bonding to me I took it and ordered them to get us all out of there without specifying where we should be taken. I would have been here to meet you with everyone else but the elves apparently decided I needed an immediate wash and change of clothes. Then a portrait told me that it was a Malfoy family cleansing ritual that I had to under go because I'm some how family now...."
"You are," Lucius observed neutrally. "Narcissa was kind enough to show me the paperwork before heading off to fetch you and Draco from Hogwarts. The family magic usually gives the person a bit of time to settle in first though."
"Did the elves use lavender or peppermint oil?" Severus asked with an evil smirk. He remembered his own ambush when the Malfoy family magic had decided that he qualified as Lucius' new brother.
"I'm not sure. I know that both those smells were used but I thought I was under attack so I fought... do you think they will give me back my wand?" Harry asked in deep embarrassment, slightly sour look aimed at Severus not withstanding.
"Check your robe pocket dear," Narcissa suggested in amusement as she joined the group to stand at her husband's side. Harry checked and found his wand.
"Er, sorry about all of this," Harry said again, waving to indicate the entire school who had been at supper bar Dumbledore.
"You are very lucky that I don't currently want you dead and that our truce is in effect. However, that does not extend any safety to the rest of the school," Voldemort commented mildly, causing Harry to pale.
"What do you want in trade?" Harry asked hastily, taking the fact that he wasn't already cursing people left and right as a good sign and a chance to fix his mistake.
"~Who hurt you so badly that Nagini felt it through the possession and so long after it should have been healed?~" Voldemort demanded in Parseltongue. The sound of the serpent tongue sent the entirety of Hogwarts students scrambling away from the strange group in open alarm.
"The Dursleys and Dudley's gang, a few things came from stuff that happened at Hogwarts like the scar from the Basilisk bite in second year but yeah, mostly from my relatives," Harry answered awkwardly. He really didn't want to be talking about this but it was better to give this tid bit up rather than watch the rest of the school get slaughtered over his idiocy.
"For the next two summers you are at my personal beck and call. I can do anything I please to you bar killing you or utterly breaking you. They now each owe you a life debt," Voldemort flatly informed him, making Harry wince but nod his own agreement to the deal. "Your hero complex may yet get you killed Golden Boy. Your originally requested truce extends until graduation but anyone who actively takes up wands against me and mine loses their protection."
"What if Potter does it?" Draco asked warily. He was beginning to realize that things were not as he had believed.
"Then I get to punish him," Voldemort said evilly.
"Agreed," Harry verbally sealed the deal. Their magic flashed accepting and acknowledging the deal made.
"Before you object, Minerva, Potter is likely the Heir of Gryffindor as I am the Heir of Slytherin and even if he isn't he has been acting as the school's champion, defending the school. You know the rules about the champions as well as I do. As I recall we briefly shared that spot during our own schooling together. Don't make his binding bargain in vain," Voldemort said pointedly.
Minerva McGonagall blanched at this information and reconsidered what she had been about to do. A tight nod was given to their hosts as she collected most of the staff members and set about handling the students. They all had to be informed of the life debt after all and the bargain Harry had struck for their lives.
Harry, on the other hand, was already plotting how to use this new development to claim both Potions Master and Dark Lord for his own. It would be tricky with this latest twist but hardly impossible. Maybe Nagini would help him? Things had gotten interesting again and Harry planed to take full advantage of it. Now if only he could manage to corner Severus and Voldemort for a private dinner this situation would be practically perfect.
How do you guys think our sneaky possessive Harry will react when he faces off with Bellatrix over her obsession with Voldy and her determination to get Sev killed in a horrific manner as a traitor? *evil grin*
Chapter 10: Trix
Bellatrix stalked down the hallway upset because her sister and mewling idiot of a brother-in-law said she couldn't play with itty baby Potter when he got there. What use was Narcissa claiming the brat if they couldn't present him to her Lord?! What use was grabbing him from Hogwarts if her sister was determined to actually act like he was family?! No, her sister needed a painful reminder of what real family was and it didn't include blood traitors or mudbloods!
The sound of people having a sedate party in the main ballroom had her ears perking up as the insane Black sister diverted her course to see what was going on. When she finally got a good look into the ballroom a gleeful cackle left her lips even as her wand rose to start casting at the nearest group of students, a mixed group of 3rd years.
Severus heard the distinctive cackle from his place standing near both Potter and the Dark Lord. His head whipped around to stare in horror as Bellatrix raised her wand to cast, a cruel dark curse on her lips. Without conscious thought he moved between the insane witch and his students, wand already out and casting the strongest shield he could manage.
Bellatrix cackled again even as she watched him block her curse. "Ah, the traitor shows his colors! Now no one can claim you haven't forsaken our lord!"
"You don't want to do this, Bella. Walk away. They will be gone soon enough and the Dark Lord will determine which of us is in the wrong," Severus instructed firmly. His wary dueling stance practically screaming to all watching that he didn't think she would actually do it, actually walk away.
Harry moved to intervene only for the Dark Lord to stop him with an arm across the younger man's chest.
"He needs to do this. Until he dominates her and forces her to admit that he not only is higher ranked but also has superior skill she will keep trying to get him killed. I am sick of this dangerous division between them. At this point it matters less what side Severus is truly on than getting them to stop," Voldemort explained in quiet exasperation. "He is fully within his rights and duties to protect the students and I will be punishing Bellatrix for attempting to cast on them but this confrontation needs to happen."
"I will kill her if he is seriously harmed. I don't care how much you might like her," Harry warned, equally softly.
Voldemort made a sound of understanding before raising his voice to try and limit the damage. "Bella, Severus, I want this conflict between the two of you ended once and for all. Bella the students are here sheltering from Dumbledore's idiocy and Potter has struck a deal for that safe haven. If you break our deal I will hand you over to the Dementors as their next meal. Should any of the students or Hogwarts staff, barring your opponent who is Severus, be harmed while the two of you work out your differences you will incur further punishment. Am I understood?"
"But, my Lord?! He is a traitor!" Bella protested vehemently, glaring at her fellow Inner Circle member.
"I do not trust easily," Voldemort reminded her with a stern rebuke. "Do you honestly think I could be so careless as to not know his true allegiance? Should I become displeased with him for any reason he will be punished accordingly, just as anyone else who calls me Lord is subject to. Further this will remain true until and unless I willingly bind myself to another. Or did you really think that I would bow my head to you?! You aren't strong enough in the right ways to be my match. No matter that you crave it you will not become my wife or consort even if you should manage to end your current marriage. One thing I despise is infidelity."
"I'll keep that in mind," Harry muttered quietly as he eyed both Dark Lord and Potions Master. Bellatrix was only worth noticing as a threat and an insane one at that.
Bellatrix stared at the Dark Lord in disbelief before letting out a shriek of absolute rage and attacking Severus. Severus, trusting his fellow staff members to guard the students and protect them from the duel, shielded and stood firm against the onslaught. It was the shout of triumph from Filius that told him the dueling wards were up and that he was free to move. Harry hissed a curse in Parseltongue as the Potions Master lost a few strands of hair to his dodge when a dark cutting curse tried to take his head off.
"~Patience. If he is rescued from this he will never know peace from her or the others,~" the Dark Lord hissed in his own parsel warning.
"~She is dead if she survives unless he claims her life for his own,~" Harry practically snarled back, uncaring what he was showing the man of himself.
"~You intend to claim him,~" Voldemort observed with interest.
"~Will you take it better bluntly or through your own realization?~" Harry shot back. He knew playing this was going to be tricky. The other wizard had a very dominant public personality.
Harry knew that he wanted to be the dominant in any relationship between the three of them. He also knew that if he screwed up in establishing that dominance with either man not only did he risk not getting the relationship but if he did become involved with them any way he would be taking orders. All three of them were proud men and anything convivial between them would take both work and patience on all of their parts.
The crack of shattering marble redirected their attention to the duel going on less than twenty feet away. By this point both were bleeding but the injuries appeared to be largely superficial.
"He's mine you stupid traitorous half blood!" Bella shrieked even as she cast a shock wave of darkness that Severus barely dodged with a snarl as he canceled it before it could reach the students.
Harry's magic flared in anger, causing Voldemort to move away from him in shock, dropping the arm that had been blocking the way. Harry ignored everyone but the bitch in front of him as he stalked forwards, no masks in place, the stalk of a predator saturating his gait. A single snarled spell related to Accio and aimed at her ankle started dragging her across the floor towards him to land her less than five feet in front of him, flat on her stomach, skirts flipped up to expose her underskirts for all to see.
"What did you just say?!" Harry thundered as he kept her magically pinned at his feet, wand left where she had dropped it when her feet went out from under her. "You are a servant, marked as chattel, and you dare claim the right to force your master to do as you will?! Not bloody likely you stupid bitch! Severus clearly only bears the mark so that he knows when to come for meetings. In every single vision I have had unwillingly seeing through the Dark Lord's eyes he has always had a higher station than you no matter the suspect loyalties to either side. Loyalties that don't matter with his charge being the children and potions. Why is it that even Dumbledore could see that but you can't? He is too damn valuable to be forced to choose until the final fight between the Dark Lord and Dumbledore!"
"~Are you starting your summer early?~" Voldemort asked idly, parseltongue echoing through the room over the breathing of those present.
"~I suppose that I am. Are you going to tell me to stop?~" Harry answered back in the same language absently as he continued to glare at his captive.
"No, I won't tell you to stop," Voldemort said in English for all to hear. He casually strode up to stand next to his former nemesis and glance down thoughtfully at Bellatrix only to continue in parseltongue. "~I will be expecting an explanation on those visions you mentioned.~"
"Understood," Harry said in a clipped tone. A few steps had him standing next to the witch and she glared up at him as he gave her a vicious kick to the head, knocking her out cold.
"Potter," Severus started cautiously, starting to edge towards the powerful young wizard in an attempt to calm him down.
"I wouldn't do that right now Severus. It appears that he broke a block that some idiot placed on his core. He's having a little difficulty controlling the increased magic. So unless you expect to be in his bed and under his authority at some point in the next 6 months I wouldn't risk it," Voldemort said thoughtfully. "The only reason I can stand so close right now is that we are both Parselmouths and our magic has been subtly dancing with each other since that elf brought him here."
"~Severus is not the only one I intend to claim, which is the only reason you can be so close without getting burned,~" Harry corrected absently as he carefully moved back from Bellatrix. The unconscious witch was already starting to display light burns from being too close to Harry in his current state as he moved back.
Voldemort took a minute to process that before his eyes widened in shock. Unnoticed by all a house elf quietly collected the crazy witch and her wand while another repaired the damage from the duel with elven magic.
"~Good. My Tom needs a strong mate,~" Nagini cackled from the nearby chandelier, before dropping down to the floor, triggering shrieks from various female students.
"~Nagini!~" Voldemort hissed in complete exasperation.
"~If I have my way they will be carrying my hatchlings within a season after conquering them as my mates,~" Harry informed the serpent casually.
"~My Tom likes to be pampered. Hot baths, warm beds, many cuddles, and loyalty,~" Nagini informed him judiciously.
"Stop plotting with my familiar!" Voldemort complained in irritable English.
In response Harry just gave both wizards a scorching look before wandering over to one of the food tables as he finally forced his increased magic into submission. The slight glow of powerful magic about him remained, causing everyone else to avoid him for the rest of the night. When it finally came time for bed the rest of the school gave him a clear area of at least a meter around his sleeping bag. The Malfoy family, taking its cue from Harry, bedded down with the rest of the school. A short but quiet argument in parseltongue had Voldemort bedding down next to Severus. By morning both dark wizards would find themselves in the iron grip of the Light's supposed Savior. Waking up cuddled protectively on either side of Harry and wrapped in his arms with Nagini at their joint feet like a vicious serpentine guard dog.
Chapter 11: Worried Serpent Mothers
Okay, I had part of this waiting on me so my loopy brain shouldn't have done too much damage to the chapter.
Oh! I also put up a "Notice Board" Fic for important announcements and random snippet/drabbles as part of the Bunny Farm Series....
Enjoy your new chapter!
"~I don't care what you want female! You will let them sleep!~" Nagini hissed warningly as Harry rose to wakefulness. He had a vague memory of sleepily collecting Severus and Voldemort but that was just a dream, right? The warmth cuddled close to him in each arm told him that no, it had not been a dream.
"Stupid snake!" Ron growled before sending a stinging hex at Harry. Harry wasn't awake enough to moderate his response and immediately shielded, protecting the wizards to either side of him before sending a vicious response back. Ron's cry of pain compounded by the laughter of his twin brothers was a familiar, and effective, wake up call.
"Twins, why did you let Ron wake me? You know I've upped my curse before awake response," Harry asked with a yawn as he finally sat up properly to survey his surroundings still somewhat sleepy.
"He started spouting off about how you've gone dark and we need to get you to Dumbledore so that he can fix it," Fred shrugged, unrepentant as to the prank they had played on Ron.
"Yeah, he was saying something about fixing whatever the snakes did to you and you being his perfect friend again," George agreed in disgust. "I think the old goat was trying to keep you under control or would have tried to with magic, potions, and spells if you weren't so bloody resistant to things like the Imperious curse."
"Not my fault that I'm stubborn," Harry retorted. "Besides the hat said I could go in any house but that it mostly wanted me in Slytherin. I just argued with it like a good manipulated little puppet after spending the train ride with Ron and meeting Draco. Now, tell me why Nagini was calling Ron a girl."
"Er," George said with a nervous chuckle only to be saved by the appearance of food.
The arrival of breakfast ended the discussion but had Harry choosing not to sit near Ron or Hermione as a result. Harry ended up spending the morning talking to the Malfoys with a hovering Severus nearby. It was clear the man wasn't sure if he was protecting Harry or being protected by Harry with his nearness. The Dark Lord had escaped Harry's watch while scolding Nagini for encouraging him after breakfast to get his own work done.
"Can we kneel to you yet?" the Weasley twins chorused as they approached the meeting of Harry, Snape, and Malfoys.
"I don't know how that would even work," Harry reminded the pair sternly as Lucius choked on a quiet gasp.
"We know you might not pick the Light," Twin one said seriously.
"And we're fine with that just so long as we can follow you," Twin two finished just as seriously.
"Fine," Harry sighed and gestured for them to get on with it. Gleefully, they knelt to Harry and swore themselves to his service in front of the entire school.
"Order them not to prank me or cause trouble in the potions classroom," Severus immediately demanded.
"Why? They graduate this year and have NEWTs once we get back to the castle," Harry pointed out with faint amusement.
"If I am to even remotely entertain your proposal I need to be assured of safety in my own lab," Severus answered stiffly as if Harry was pulling teeth.
"You will find that safety is relative but I agree to leave your lab as a safe haven unless you aren't taking care of yourself or abuse the privilege," Harry conceded. "I would much rather keep you close if you are feeling vulnerable but that will come with time."
"~Stubborn hatchling!~" came the hissed curses an hour later as Nagini appeared out of nowhere heading straight for Harry.
"~What is wrong?~" Harry hissed in inquiry. As the only person other than Voldemort who could understand her it fell to him to get answers from the obviously upset serpent.
"~My Tom is not taking care of himself again. Be a good prospective mate and make him come away from his leaf reading den to eat. This is the second time this day he would not eat even when I promised to let him have his special treat and that I would keep the crazy one away from him for an entire week!~" Nagini complained piteously. "~He is worried over the blood eaters and keeping you safe while you obey him when not at the learning nest.~"
"What is it?" Lucius asked tentatively. He still wasn't sure where he stood with this powerful young man but he wasn't going to make the same mistake as he did when he lost Dobby to the twelve year old version of him.
"Apparently, she's upset because he's skipping meals again. I'm being asked to drag him out of what I think she means is his office or study or wherever he does paperwork. Nagini says that he hasn't eaten since yesterday," Harry said with concern. His concern was great enough that he didn't really pay attention to what he said next. "I mean I know the Dursleys do that to me but as far as I know most people can't really do that unless there is something wrong like being sick."
"~Make my Tom come and eat good things to eat. I will hunt for him if I must!~" Nagini instructed, obviously distressed on her adoptive son's behalf. Her pleas distracted him enough that Harry missed the quickly suppressed shock and fury that passed over the features of both the Potions Master and the Malfoy family. The four Slytherins were left to stare after him as Harry went to dig Voldemort out of his hiding spot and make sure he ate something, mothering serpent at his side.
Chapter 12: Meal Deal
The Dark Lord sat in his study, half buried under administrative paperwork. He idly wondered if Nagini was going to come back and try to bribe or threaten him again into eating. The man loved the serpent dearly but there were times when she insisted on things right that very moment. This paperwork and half the raid planning all needed to be updated or revised now that Potter was spending the next two summers as his helper. He refused to even think about the powerful young man possibly pursuing both himself and Severus as romantic partners in that time.
Besides, it wasn't like Nagini could go complaining to anyone that he had skipped breakfast despite the glamour of eating with the others in the converted ballroom. She never had been able to tattle on him before after all...
When the door opened to admit a distinctly unimpressed looking Harry and Nagini, his interfering familiar, he realized that he had miscalculated... badly.
"Why are you skipping meals?" Harry asked flatly. In a lighter, more curious tone he asked. "And what do you want me calling you? I know you hate your birth name but your Dark Lord name is just silly to me."
"Marvolo is fine. Addressing me by the name Tom is something I associate with being tormented and powerless... ordinary. Which is part of why I have a hard time walking away from Dumbledore without trying to kill him at least once," Voldemort admitted. He really didn't want to explain why he was skipping meals and the name thing did need to be sorted out. "I wont presume to expect you to call me Lord but stick with respectful addresses such as sir around most of the Death Eaters unless you want to get cursed."
"Fair enough. Now, the meals?" Harry asked again pointedly. He needed to know if he was going to need to make sure that the Dark Lord ate regularly for the summers when he would be helping as part of the safe haven deal. He also needed to know this for the future as husbands or even simply as friends.
"Mostly its because I have too much work and almost no one has the guts to make me stop in the middle of something. The elves don't remember to feed me because I am not a member of their family, only a guest, and Nagini likes to chase them. I also... don't get hungry as often as I should," Voldemort, Marvolo, admitted uncomfortably.
Marvolo's time at the under funded orphanage hadn't starved him per say but regular filling meals hadn't exactly been a feature either. During especially hard times all the orphans would hunt rats and other street animals for that little extra bit of food, a common enough act for those below the poverty line. As a side effect he didn't always realize he was hungry or would ignore the hunger in favor of getting more work done. Nagini alone had been the only person who could order him away from his work to eat until now and even that didn't always work.
"I already knew that Severus tends to skip meals..." Harry grumbled quietly as he thought. He knew he had his own issues with not eating but that was more due to not being allowed the food that was right in front of him and that he had made than anything else. Harry had taught himself how to recover from his regular summer starvation safely and to eat most meals unless he was under a lot of stress. He would just have to plan on including both of his fellow wizards in that meal time table and insist on them eating together to prevent them from skiving off.
Nagini watched all of this, testing this potential mate for his care of her Tom.
"Get up. From now on you, Severus, and I will eat at least one full meal a day together to keep each of us from accidentally starving ourselves. You can not plot world domination if you are starving to death," Harry said firmly.
Marvolo, realizing that Harry was right, didn't argue. He simply set aside his current work with an irritable sigh. The shove when they were half way down the hall from his office was a surprise. The rapid streaks of spell fire quickly followed by a quiet gasping gurgle and the thump of a falling body though was more of a shock. Turning he stared at the body bleeding out not ten feet away from them in Auror robes. The look of icy granite on Harry's face and slowly lowering upraised hand told him everything he needed to know. Harry had pickup on a threat to him and eliminated it.
"~You must be exhausted if your mate-to-be saw that hunter before you did,~" Nagini hissed in open concern.
"Shacklebolt, one of Dumbledore's Order members," Harry said harshly. He stalked over and kicked the wand away from the quickly cooling corpse. A seventh year Slytherin, slid around the corner with a warning on his lips only stop and stare at the fresh corpse.
"Yes?" Voldemort asked harshly.
"We forgot to tell the Aurors we were all safe," the Slytherin stammered out. "They, some of Dumbledore's Aurors, decided to raid the Manor once the others finished at Hogwarts last night and were ordered to find everyone."
"Oh hell, I can't believe I forgot about that," Harry groaned. "I'm going to have to apologize and give a statement for killing Kingsley even if he was throwing a nasty cutting curse at your back."
The next hours were filled with reporting the school's safety, filling out the paperwork for one dead Auror, filling a complaint against the invading Aurors, and getting the school back to the now safe castle. Unsurprisingly Voldemort opted to retain Harry and Severus for the summer, only allowing them to return to Hogwarts to complete their OWLs and teaching duties respectively. Their nights, starting with supper, were spent with the Dark Lord. Mostly the three relaxed and spent time together to see how the summer might work out.
Chapter 13: Choice
Spring Equinox/Full Moon treat!
Severus was shopping for ingredients. It was just after Harry's 16th birthday and the imp had upped his open shows of affection for both the Potions Master and the Dark Lord. Early on in the summer Nagini had to be taken aside by Harry because she hadn't seen a reason to wait on their marriage after determining that he was a suitable mate for the two. The pair of dark wizards had been relieved about the ending of Nagini's constant attempts to get them to have sex. The increase of Harry's sly looks and various little things that proved he could and would take care of them on the other hand had been a touch unnerving at first. It wasn't until one day when an idiot Outer Circle Death Eater had vanished Severus' shirt and ripped his over robe from him that Harry had sat them both down for a talk. Harry's expression had subtly changed when he saw the whip scars on Severus' back and seeing Marvolo's almost automatic defense of the Potion Master. Something which had sent a frisson of dread rolling through the spy.
"You think that you are so important?! You're just a filthy little half-blood begging for scraps!" Marcus Leighton spat, his voice rising from the conversation with Severus even as his wand rose.
Severus barely had time to swirl out of the way of the cutting curse that shredded his over robe. Seconds later a vanishing charm aimed at his head hit the sleeve of his remaining shirt, taking the shirt but leaving his flesh untouched. Marvolo, looking human among the lower ranks for once, got to Severus' side an instant later. The Dark Lord easily slipped into his familiar position of dueling partner off to Severus' left with a snarl at the attacking idiot. Both men absently registered that Harry had blocked an additional three from joining the fight as two others joined the first idiot in attacking Severus from the side.
The second set of attacks were met with a few Crucio from Marvolo and a snarled, tightly controlled, Sectumsempra from Severus. The forever unhealing cutting curse struck deep in one man's chest while the other two went down under the pair of Cruciartus curses from Marvolo. The three Harry was handling went down primarily to well placed charms and prank spells with only one cutting curse taking off a man's hand. Stunners finished Harry's trio off before he turned to help Severus and Marvolo only to find that his help was unneeded. Marvolo had just badly cursed the primary idiot as Harry joined them and tossed a few of his own curses at the now moaning pile of bloody flesh.
The human form of a mid-thirties Tom Riddle had been a bit of a shock for Severus when he had finally seen it earlier that morning. Harry had just raised an eyebrow and shook his head in a mix of resignation and amusement at the sight. Nagini had been delighted that her Tom now trusted them enough to show off his normal red-eyed human form to the pair. No one was surprised that he planned to play at being an obscure lower ranked Death Eater while they mingled with everyone during the casual gathering set for that day. None of them had expected things to devolve into an impromptu duel.
Not one word was spoken by the three as they left the room in favor of getting Severus dressed again.
"Who marked you?" Harry asked bluntly once they were alone and Severus was decent. The scars on the Potion Master's back were old and there was no fresh welt or line of blood. While the scars weren't recent they still lit an incandescent rage inside Harry that one of his Dark Wizards had been hurt, much less badly enough to scar.
"His father," Marvolo answered challengingly, his body screaming protective aggression. Severus lurked behind him, refusing to look at either of them. The Death Eater that had tried stripping the Potions Master was barely alive and quite possibly permanently crippled from the magic cast by both Harry and Marvolo.
"If neither of you are ready to try sleeping, just sleeping mind, in the same bed together can we at least stay near each other for the next week?" Harry requested carefully. "I didn't like that the idiot thought he had the right to do that to Severus or that I wasn't in range to watch his back."
"Foolish brat! Do you really think that I can't defend myself?!" Severus snarled, clearly still upset over the earlier incident.
"That isn't the point. The point is that even if you could defend yourself I wasn't in reach to help you because I was dealing with the idiot's equally idiotic friends. I want to give you both time to get used to the idea of a real relationship with me, which is why I've been moving slow, but I also won't let anyone threaten you," Harry said sternly. "Yes, I recognize how powerful and independent you both are. I have no problem following orders from both of you in public but I want to be able to take care of you in private or help defend you in times of danger. What Hermione calls my people saving thing is going to be focused on both of you. I will be extremely protective and even a bit possessive. I can't change that but I can try to make it as comfortable for the two of you as possible."
They had ended the day in the same oversized bed after Marvolo had helped Harry argue Severus into the platonic sleeping arrangements. He had seen it as the perfect opportunity to indulge his own protective possessiveness in keeping both younger wizards with him after the earlier attack. It was also the night the two Dark Wizards learned about Harry's scar and the cupboard under the stairs. Needless to say none of them were comfortable being far from each other for many days afterwards.
"Master Snape?" Mr. Jigger asked uncertainly.
The man's voice brought Severus out of his memories of exactly why he was now semi-permanently platonically sharing a bed with two other wizards and a mothering snake. Of course Harry's newest habit of randomly pinning the pair of them down if he wasn't fully awake had turned into a sort of private ritual for the three of them. Neither Dark Wizard was willing to admit that they liked their imp doing that and even using his magic to pin them from time to time. It also gave Nagini a great deal of amusement early in the mornings.
"Yes Alphonse?" Severus asked right back, returning his attention fully to what he had been doing.
"There is a new shipment of fresh coconut husks and a batch of magical Fire Lilies in the back," Mr. Jigger told him respectfully. He knew that the summer was Severus' primary experimentation period during the school year. He went out of his way to order some of the more rare and unusual ingredients during this time for the man. After all if the surly Potions Master didn't want them by late august he could always sell the ingredients to the goblins instead.
"My experimenting is largely on hold this summer," Severus explained calmly before paying for his purchases and leaving with a customary lack of small talk.
"We have to bring Harry back to the light," a familiar voice insisted to someone. The voice reached Severus' ears just as he was leaving the apothecary, instantly causing him to scowl.
"In case you haven't noticed 'Mione without Dumbledore giving us the special potions for him he wont listen to us," Ronald Weasley's irritated voice shot back.
"We only have a year to get him married to Ginny and set up in the special ritual circle for his magical maturation on his 17th birthday. Professor Dumbledore said he has too much magic. Its dangerous for him to have so much and the first warning binding already broke at the Malfoys place. What if more of the binds Dumbledore placed for safety broke?! What if we can't siphon off enough of his magic as he matures?!" Hermione complained.
Severus didn't wait to hear more. He rudely apparated away from where he stood in front of the apothecary back to Malfoy Manor. He huriedly handed off his potion ingredients to a house elf before rushing to find the imp. Upon finding Harry attending one of the rare day time Death Eater meetings Severus didn't hesitate. Snatching up the immediately protesting imp he started frantically casting various diagnostic spells aimed not at the body but the magic of the patient. What he found had him going pale and feeling immediately sick to his stomach.
"Severus?" Marvolo asked cautiously. He had kept anyone else from interfering, recognizing the tightly controlled panic in the other wizard's eyes.
"With the number of binds on him he should be dead," Severus said in a sort of horrified blankness. "He has been operating at barely 5% of his magic and the bind we saw released before the start of summer only jumped him up to 10%. All of that is without counting the drain from his scar, which is taking the other 4% that the blocks aren't stopping."
"Cast a history check! Was he ever at risk from not having enough magic to keep his heart beating?" Marvolo demanded, suddenly anxious.
"Yes," Harry answered softly before Severus could raise his wand to cast again. "My magic couldn't heal me a lot that day and I was unconscious for a good six hours. It was one of the only times the Dursleys took me to any kind of doctor. I was punished for needing to be taken to the hospital once we got back home."
"If you dare to call yourself a freak or monster not only will I tie you to the bed guarded by Nagini but you will be stuck there and fed by us by hand for a week!" he snarled. In that moment he was more Voldemort than Marvolo.
Harry immediately shut his mouth. They knew by now that Harry's need to take care of them was a large part of why he needed to be in charge at least in private. Even if he needed the care Harry had been trained out of asking for it or expecting it with the extra twisted expectation of refusing any offered aid even if the lack of it might kill him. Forcing him to accept their care wouldn't hurt him but without a physical need for the care it would make him worry over not being able to care for or prove himself to either of his Dark Wizards.
"Releasing them slowly is going to be a priority but with everything else he is going to need us as anchors. For the first 48 hours after each release he either has to be completely alone in an empty room or you and I need to try what we've discussed privately. The downside is that allowing the bond to form is going to be irreversible," Severus warned. He had regained most of his normal color now that they were talking about actual solutions.
"If we hold off?" Marvolo asked carefully.
"The first three need to be removed regardless unless we want his maturation to kill him on his birthday as they are ripped out all at once. He needs close to 30% of his magic to simply survive the process," Severus answered immediately. He handed over the break down list of the binds that had been produced when he had checked Harry's magic.
36% - Bound by parents to safely reduce accidental magic
25% - Bound by Dumbles before being given to the Dursleys
15% - Bound by Dumbledore - age 5
5% - Warning bind from Dumbledore placed start of 2nd year
5% - Warning bind from Dumbledore placed 1st year Christmas Eve
5% - released from first bind breaking - previously Warning bind from Dumbledore placed start of 1st year
5% - left free
4% - Horcrux
"Anyone but he or I would have died with so little access to their magic," Marvolo whispered, pale at what he had just read. "You need a certain amount simply to keep your heart beating!"
Harry subtly extended his magic to wrap around the pair in a calm blanket of warn, caring magic. He hadn't known that the binds were basically trying to kill him. The lack of extra magic didn't bother him because he had never known he even had that magic to begin with.
Harry watched his two Dark Wizards carefully as they tossed ideas back and forth, half formed into words and barely ideas. They saw almost nothing around them and the green-eyed imp of a wizard knew that was dangerous.
As a result when the attack from the traitor came Harry's choice to wrap the pair protectively in his magic was done without thought. Forced to his knees as he defended the three of them through shear willpower Harry knew he was burning through his accessible magic dangerously fast. His heart fluttered, once, twice, and paused before fluttering a third time. Ignoring the pain in his chest Harry forced himself back to his feet and forced the shield backwards, turning it into a shock wave before finally passing out. Marvolo and Severus barely caught him as he fell, exchanging shocked looks.
"This is the wizard who wants to claim us," Severus whispered even as the pair fed their magic to Harry in an attempt to keep his heart beating.
"Stupid noble lion," Marvolo agreed, fighting to keep his composure.
"I don't know about you but I will give him his chance," Severus said decidedly. "The next bind we release I will be in the room with him afterwards. I will accept whatever outcome results from it."
"His magic could bind you to him as a slave!" Marvolo protested in shock.
"Or it could marry us or kill me or bind him as my slave," Severus agreed quietly. "Marvolo, what he just did? What he has been trying to show us? Prove to us? All of it is no small mater. He has respected our boundaries and repeatedly acted to protect us. Having at least one of us in that room will increase his chance of survival and recovery rate by ten or more. I know what he wants of us... I also find myself wanting to grant it even before this."
"The magic!" Marvolo protested.
"Will require total submission, a bond to replace the bind no matter how briefly it lasts," Severus agreed. They could both now feel a trickle of magic as they gradually eased off providing their own magic to keep Harry's heart beating. They hadn't been able to move once catching Harry mid-fall for fear of killing the imp through lack of magic to the heart.
Unknown to the pair Harry was fully aware of the conversation via the very magic they were feeding into his heart. When he finally woke in the early hours of the morning he was conflicted. Did he mind risking his own neck to complete his goals? Not particularly. Could he let Severus or Marvolo take the risk of being in the room with him when the next binding was removed? Could he afford not to let them have this choice? Harry wanted the pair as his partners. He couldn't afford to take this important choice away from them without their relationship becoming... less. Despite the risks he would allow them to make their own choice. Unsettled but resigned to the future risk to the two wizards at his side Harry tried to go back to sleep. He held his Dark Wizards close as the dawn broke over the Manor grounds.