Rating: PG13 - NC17
Summary: Ten years have passed and Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny have done nothing but perfect their skills in preparation for their final battle with Voldemort. None of them expected they would run into Snape, let alone did they foresee the price he would demand for his teachings. Well, nobody except maybe Ginny.
Warnings: Blood. Male/Male sexual situations. Language. Rimming. Violence.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based in the world created by J.K.Rowling. They aren't mine and I make no money from them. No toes were intentionally stepped on.
Author's notes: Yet another vampire!bonding!fic that every vampire fanatic must write. What can I say, I love vampire fics. Written prior to Deathly Hallows during NaNoWriMo 2006. Spoilers for all books prior but no intended references to the final book. Thanks so much to asrai99 who has reviewed my story! You are amazing. All mistakes are mine and by all means, let me know if you find any.
Word count: Approximately 5,100 of a total of 54,000
Young Immortals - All Chapters
The wind never seemed to seek, let alone find, tranquility in the vast, fir filled valley that sat perpetually submerged in shadow. It blustered and beat upon the ancient house, once majestic, standing against a backdrop of craggy mountains lined with the silver streams of waterfalls. The years had eaten away at its true brilliance. Rich colors had faded and the fine roofing tiles were lined with cracks or missing all together, leaving gaps and holes in the surface. The house stood abandoned, having waited in the valley for hundreds of years and had finally given up hope.
The structure was grand, ancient in architecture and long forgotten skill. This was a building constructed to last the centuries, to extend beyond the meager lifespan of current cookie-cutter shacks planted in subdivisions, row upon row of identical clones. This house was unique, overflowing with character, class, and nobility, even overgrown with ivy and blackberry brambles. In its isolation it was shrouded in mystery. In the past people had seen things in the shadows and heard screams at night. Baden Manor and L'Ombre Valley, in which it resided, were touched, haunted, and everybody knew it.
But in the last few years all had been quiet. Silent and still like a sepulcher, which invited visitors even less than haunted ground. The valley lay vacant, except for the manor, and the Austrian people seemed perfectly happy to forget that the place had even existed. It was a blank spot on every map.
There was something truly singular about old wizarding manors. Over centuries they could come alive, developing their own souls, molded and nourished by the spirits of those who had lived within. This manor was no different and the current man living within certainly left his own taint.
"Get out, you leech!" the ghost screamed at Severus. It was a daily ritual he could do without. She would berate him, scream at him, tell him to leave, compare his existence to that of the mold that so ruthlessly invaded the plaster: so like the portrait of Mrs. Black at 12 Grimmauld Place. At least Mrs. Black had been locked in one place. It's almost like marriage, he thought uncharitably. He rarely spoke aloud, his cracked voice too unwelcome, and with nobody to talk to but an insane house he felt speaking could only reflect badly on his own level of sanity.
Severus Snape sat stiffly in his hunter green chair. It was made of fine woods, like everything else in the house, but Severus had long ago ceased to be impressed. The fire didn't burn, she wouldn't let it, and the mirrors had turned traitor. The Floo hadn't worked in years. He was alone like he had never felt before. Abandoned.
What had happened to the Order? Was it because of his… condition that they had stopped sending him owls? Or was it all due to this damned house? Did she stop the letters? The visitors? His orders? Was he just to sit here and decompose like fall leaves under the pretense of looking out for the third rise of the Dark Lord?
Or perhaps that little idiot had finally done his job. But surely somebody would have informed him.
Staring blankly into the cold fireplace, filled with layers of gray ash that marked the voyage of time as surely as the rings of an ancient oak, he wondered if anyone remembered him, if they realized he was waiting in this vacant house, slowly wasting in decay.
Normally he wasn't the kind of man to roll over and give up. During his first years of seclusion he'd been vigilant and productive. The cellars had overflowed with draughts and tinctures, poisons and cures. He had refined the Wolfsbane Potion and even created additional recipes to help other Dark Creatures control their visceral impulses—which had been a very lucky thing indeed.
But that was a mark of time long ago and presently he only resided with contrary illusions. That damned house… damned ghost. She had more spite and will than he'd ever imagined.
"If you are going to do nothing, do it elsewhere. Get out!" The translucent woman fluttered around him, through him, trying her best to chill him to the bone, but his stagnant blood already sat cold.
"Get away," he croaked the emotionless words. Lately he'd wished some Auror or hunter or one of his vast enemies would just walk through that door and strike him dead. Drive a stake through his heart or send a fountain of green curse light down upon him. He would raise his white flag and relent, relinquish this futile life.
He would offer no struggle.
A high-pitched giggle echoed through the halls. "He speaks! There is life in him yet. First a laugh and now words! Must be a good year, yes leech?"
He immediately regretted opening his mouth and slumped lower into his chair, staring at the ceiling, watching the mildew spread across the tiles.
A loud clamor, a racket like nothing he'd heard before, coursed through the walls of the manor. He was sitting in his usual chair—not in a sleep that his body didn't need, just a form a status where he let time slip by—when the noise began. With depressing effort, he lifted himself up from his chair and started shuffling towards the drawing room door.
"What is it, woman? What is that racket?" His wheeze sounded full of a desperation he didn’t feel. It was all an act, a reason to suffer.
"Something… something I have not experienced in years!" The ghostly visage of the house appeared before Severus and pulsed with emotion.
"What? Are we under attack?"
"No." He flinched at the smile that spread across her face. "We have a visitor." She fluttered and then dissipated, leaving behind faint wisps of ghost-stuff.
Severus' unmoving heart almost felt like it thumped. Could it be? Had they finally come to tell him it was all over and he could slip away into oblivion?
He looked down at his legs, willing them to move again and began to lurch across the chilly floor, his eyes avoiding the mirror, which snickered as he passed, and he left the room he hadn't emerged from in months.
The ghost hovered around the main door, darting back and forth inches over the rat chewed rug, encrusted with grime and droppings. Though the klaxon slowly faded, the ghost continued her pacing. When the alarm finally drew completely silent, a knock banged on the door, echoing through the empty hall.
With a creak, the door drew open and the ghost came forward, arms wide with welcome. Severus flinched at the brilliant light of day as it streamed into the dark interior.
"Come in! Come in! You are most welcome. Please, do come in."
He stood hidden in the shadows of the entry way's corner and did not come forward to greet the individual standing at the door.
"Is this the residence of Mr. Severus Snape?" The words were spoken by the voice of a god. Athena herself could not have looked so full of splendor or power, dressed in formed leather armors, a crown of laurels on her brow. Folded wings with feathers the color of charcoal rose over the tall woman's head and slightly pointed ears peaked out from under the short, chestnut hair. Her skin glowed.
Severus had never seen such a fine veela before; her feathered wings alone were a genetically recessive trait, utterly unique and fantastic. She must be a princess of her kind.
Severus squashed his desire to rush forward and extol his prowess in potion making and his skills between the bed sheets.
The veela looked down at the ghost with an oddly curious expression akin to a child learning that a butterfly had once been a lowly caterpillar. Her head was tilted to the side and it would have made her look young and innocent if not for the blade strapped to her back resting between her wings.
"What would you want with that filth?" asked the ghost in a curious, yet polite voice.
"We have business," the visitor said in a musical tone.
"I am here," croaked Severus as he took a single step out from the shadows. He smelled the blood flowing through her veins and it stirred his desire. It had been so long since he'd felt any urge for anything, long since giving up his thirst for blood and finding solace in his own decomposition. "What is it you want of me, veela?"
The winged woman looked over at Severus, amusement taking root in her expression. Severus had no taste for it. "Speak and be done with your business," he spat at her.
"My, my. It seems they will accept help for any quarter these days. Vampire. A bloodless vampire at that."
"I wasn't always like this, woman. What is your business?" His throat felt dry. He wasn't sure how many words were left in him.
"I seek a fellow Sentinel. Are you still of that persuasion or have you given up your duty as well as your life?" The words held no judgment, but were stated as if she spoke a fact everybody knew as truth. The sky was blue, the sun rose in the east and Severus Snape's life had no worth.
"They abandoned me," Severus said, and he retreated into a sulk. "I have been waiting, but they have abandoned me."
"Oh… Dear, sweet Severus. Nobody's abandoned you." The veela moved towards Severus with such smooth steps she seemed to glide. "You've fallen to disuse, like this old manor. But the Watch is still ever vigilant. We all look for signs of the Dark Lord. We still fulfill our duty. Have you given up yours?"
The woman stood directly before Severus. The beat, lub dub, lub dub, the metallic tint in the air, the sense of youth and power: her blood tickled his senses. She opened her arms, welcoming, and in one step, two, he was embraced by charcoal wings and strong, warrior arms. He buried his face into the crook of her neck and she tilted her head, offering an expanse of perfect skin to smell and taste and he could do nothing as the siren song of the blood called to him.
Without direction from any conscious part of himself his incisors distended, growing longer and sharper and his saliva flowed, painting his parched throat with wicked promises.
"I can't," he said with a struggle, stopping himself from the bite with priestly fidelity. "I don't want it." His tooth dug into his lip as he spoke, but no blood flowed from the puncture.
"Yes. You do. And you need it. Drink from me and sustain yourself. The cause needs you. The Watch needs you." She placed the palm of her hand on the back of his head, petting the skeletal gray hair and pushed his face into her flawless skin.
With little resolve left, he opened his jaws wide. He bit and drank deeply.
Harry and his troupe of burned-out friends had settled in a small town outside of Eisenstadt. This time they were holed up in a genuine house instead of a barn, and both Hermione and Ginny had laughed in delight at the clawfoot tub with actual running water, even if the hot water was often on the fritz. Lucky for them they were witches.
"So, when we meeting up with Gabriella Bethlen?" Ron asked, munching on a bag of crisps. He was sprawled out on a velvet blue duvet covering a queen size bed that he and Hermione were sharing. Harry sat on the other bed with Ginny, flipping through a local newspaper, reviewing his German.
As they traveled, they had each taken on several languages to learn, becoming the group translator for that language. They couldn't cover everything, but it did help interacting with the locals. Harry took up German, Greek and a smidge of Czech. Hermione, the overachiever that she was, took Japanese and Russian. Ginny studied French, Italian and Spanish, and Ron worked on Chinese--several variants of Chinese--Mandarin, Cantonese and some of those tiny little dialects that only three villages still spoke. None of them were completely fluent, but it worked.
"Tomorrow morning," Ginny informed everyone in the room. "She said there were some odd happenings up in a local valley that she wanted to check out. The place is supposed to be haunted or possessed by some vengeful spirit or something." She shrugged. They had heard it all before.
However, Harry perked up at the news. "Could it be Voldemort?" Harry asked, as excited as a convict receiving his death row pardon. Where he still found the energy to stir such excitement was a mystery.
"No idea," Ginny told him. "It's a bit hard to tell when all we know is that there's a haunting, Harry."
Harry flopped down on the bed, legs dangling over the side.
"I wish this was over," he said quietly.
Ginny lay down on her side next to him and patted his belly. "We all do, Harry. We all do."
"So pleased to meet you," Gabriella Bethlen greeted them. She stood tall and looked to be in her forties with short, stylish blond hair. Her English was impeccable. "I've heard so much about you from Zabini and Weasley." She held out her hand and shook with each of them. "Well, elder Weasley I should say." She smiled and Harry felt the impulse to smile back—which was something he hadn't experienced in a very long time.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Bethlen," Harry said.
"Oh, please do call me Gabriella. It is all my pleasure, Mr. Potter."
"Well, then, call me Harry. Being called Mr. Potter reminds me of my old Potions Professor."
They all had a laugh at that.
"So, how is the Order in England doing?" Hermione asked. Other than an owl every three months informing them of other potential Mentors of the Month and any hints on Voldemort-related activity, their communications with the rest of the world were pretty limited.
"Fairly well. Your father," she gestured to Ron and Ginny, "is an excellent leader for the organization since Kingsley had become Minister. They have fewer recruits now though, since Voldemort has been underground for the past decade." She shrugged.
"So, any news on suspicious activity?" Harry asked, his one track mind rarely departing its set course.
"Specifically Voldemort or Death Eater activity? Well, we can't really say. There has been some new activity up in L'Ombre Valley that has me curious. And the usual boggarts and banshees that every old household must deal with." Her voice was crisp as she told them of their potential work.
"Do you want us to help out with L'Ombre Valley?" Ginny asked. "Could be good experience for us to deal with your haunting."
"Well, first we aren't sure if it is a haunting. The area is strangely closed off and it's hard for magical people to enter—though I doubt you would have any troubles—and the Muggles won't, or can't, go near it. You are welcome to go out there if you wish. I was just out there but didn't see anything but that old house."
"Old house?" Ron asked.
"Yes. Baden Manor. An old wizarding manor left abandoned for at least a hundred and fifty years. I think some of the charms and enchantments on the place have started to fail. I really should go in there and see what I can do to either contain or dismantle them, but really it hasn't been a priority."
"We can look into it for you," Ron said. "Gives us something to do."
"Certainly. Here," she grabbed a sheet of paper and jotted down some numbers, "The Apparition coordinates. Just walk along the stream up the valley and you'll find the manor. Old protections disallow anyone to Apparate any closer and there aren't any roads going up there, so you can't drive."
"Apparition's fine. Thank you." Ron took the paper and stuffed it in his pocket.
"So, what do you know about Earth magic?" Gabriella asked.
The four looked at each other and Hermione chuckled. "Well, why don't you sit down? This could take a while."
Following his supper on pure veela blood, it took only minutes after her departure for his body to convulse in shock, thrashing and burning from the pure pleasure and power of it as it coursed through his veins. It had been so long, too long, that after a trace of it absorbed into his system, he leaned over and hurled onto the entrance floor, spewing red, viscous fluid everywhere.
"Filthy beast!" came the expected admonishment.
"Go away, annoying gnat. Leave me be." He retched again, his body trying furtively to contain the nourishment but slowly losing its desperate hold.
When his system recovered from the rich meal, he labored to his feet and stared at the puddle on the floor. It spread across the stones and seeped into the mortar filling the cracks, leaving a sepia stain. Temptation taunted him to lean over and lap at it, not waste one tiny drop and his traitorous body had him on his knees before he stopped himself.
With internal force he stood once again and walked to the drawing room, his steps noticeably more sturdy and confident. He glanced at the mirror, pausing at the sight: his posture was more upright, his hair fuller and his skin less of a relief map telling of his years at the manor. The mirror was strangely silent.
He walked up to a chest of drawers and tugged the top drawer open. A small box was stuffed in the corner and he removed it. With reverence he lifted the lid and looked upon his wand swaddled in rose colored silk.
It hadn't been touched in years. After that night when he had confronted and became cursed by the vampire, his magic turned traitorous. It took him months to relearn how to work even simple spells and over twelve to regain full control. But after those months had turned into years with no news from the Order or other Sentinels, he had given up magic and need and want and sat in his chair, surfacing from his stupor in rare moments when the weight of boredom pushed him to thoughts of daylight walks.
Now he lifted his wand out of the box and it tingled in his hand, eager like a newly hatched phoenix, and an unwanted smile twitched at Severus' lips.
He missed being a wizard.
His return to the entry rewarded him with a view of the ghost frantic, practically vibrating over the mess he had left, whimpering in despair.
"Can't you clean it up?" Severus asked with a sneer. "Whisk it away like you do the fires and candle flames?" Awed, Severus felt joy as he watched the ghostly creature fraught with anxiety. He actually felt pleasure and experimentally he opened his clenched jaw and let out a full bodied laugh.
"What? What are you laughing at? Do something! Squatter. Useless leech. Clean it up!" she screamed, arms lifted high as she raged.
"I could clean this up," he said, his words steady. "However, what incentive do I have to perform such a magnanimous favor?"
"What is it you want, foul beast? Blackmailing me. Holding me hostage! User! User!" The opaque lady dashed through the room, floating up to the ceiling and back down again, finally touching on the ground before Severus.
They stood there in stoic guard. Neither needing to blink, both mad in their own ways. A clock ticked in the background, the only monument to the passage of time in the old house.
Finally, Severus heard the fireplace flare up in his drawing room, flames crackling with cheery warmth.
With an offhanded flick of his wand, Severus cast "Scourgify, " and the mess disappeared. With a dramatic turn on his heel, though far less dramatic than when he'd been adorned in professor's robes, he returned to the one room he had claimed as his own and pulled his chair close to the fire.
It was warm and welcoming and he dozed off with an ease to his careworn features, wand clutched in his right hand.
With a soft 'pop' the quartet appeared in a small clearing surrounded by looming trees, Within the forest evergreens and deciduous trees cut the sun's touch off from reaching the ground. They each wore their Battle Bags over one shoulder and held their wands at the ready. There was a small river to one side that rushed through the underbrush and high cliff walls rose high on either side of the V-shaped valley.
It wasn't terribly narrow, but the cliffs shadowed the gorge in perpetual twilight. The air hung still in the undergrowth and other than the brook there wasn't any sound except the wind rustling the tops of the trees. It almost seemed like a window into a lost memory, faded pigment with age.
The group turned down the valley and started walking, slowly but steadily. The growth was fairly dense near the river's rocky edge, so they kept to the gloom within the trees. It was rough going, especially for Ginny who seemed to have her thoughts in some far distant tea house sipping oolong.
"Ooof! Ginny, watch where you're going," Ron said, annoyed. It had been the fifth time she had stumbled and fallen into her brother.
"Sorry," she murmured, almost to herself.
"What is with you?" he asked. "Earth to Ginny. Where are you? On the moon?"
"I'm here," she said softly. "I'm just right here."
"Ron, let her be," Hermione said. "I think she's tranced. Just make sure she doesn't break a leg." Ron snorted but walked more slowly, almost cautiously, with his arm stretched towards Ginny in case she had yet another stumble.
They hiked for perhaps a half an hour through the silent forest when the valley walls closed in and a gap could be seen between them.
"Seems like quite a defensible position," Harry said. Maybe Voldemort was here. Some obscure old wizarding house hidden in the mountains with only one way to get in. But it was a box canyon, or so Harry assumed, and that usually wasn't the best stronghold location. There must be another exit other than climbing the sheer cliffs. He wouldn't be surprised if a tunnel had been carved out of the granite.
Harry went first through the gap, climbing up the slope of loose rocks to reach the pass, and caught his breath at the sight. Below him was a bowl, fairly open but dotted with dead trees. Hardly anything remained green as if a blight had flashed through the forest and poisoned the earth, where no antidote or cure could reach it.
Amidst the dead trunks was a manor, huge and menacing, falling to disrepair. Perhaps it wasn't as grand as Malfoy Manor was reputed to be, but it certainly had its own merit. It rose three stories off the ground, with gabled windows and two wings. The roof looked sunken in places and some of the expansive windows were broken. A large wrought iron fence surrounded the main grounds guarded by a gate hanging off its hinges.
A raven cawed in the distance. It was the first bird he noticed since they'd arrived in the valley.
The other three scrambled up the embankment and caught their own breaths at the vision below.
"Wow… this land looks cursed," Ron said. "I heard about these types of things where a family line can be cursed and the holdings take on that curse as well. Never seen it before though, not like this."
"Everything is dead," Hermione said in awe. "It's hardly believable."
Harry looked on and felt an odd anticipation in his gut. This could be it. This could be their final gambit, their last battle.
"So… do we want to go in now? Are we prepared if Voldemort's there?"
Harry, Hermione and Ron circled up and began pulling up plans, ideas they'd meticulously mapped out years ago in the days when the end seemed plausible. With their battle bags slung over their shoulders they had all of their usual equipment. Though the house was big, and Hermione did suggest they wait for back-up, Ron argued that the four of them were the most prepared for the job.
"Wait," Harry said. "Where's Ginny?"
Three heads popped up from the huddle and scanned around for her; a soft tumble of stones caught their attention. They looked over the gap's edge and saw Ginny making her way down towards Baden Manor.
"What the hell? Ginny, get back here!" Ron screeched.
She didn't turn, didn't slow, just continued on down the slope and the others were forced to plan on the move as they caught up to her.
"Harry, I think you and Ginny should take the back and Hermione and I will enter the front."
"Shouldn't I take the front since I'm supposed to be his arch nemesis or something, and don't arch nemeses confront the villains directly? I mean, should I sneak in the rear entrance and Avada him in the back when he's not looking?" Harry puffed as he jogged down the slope.
"Harry, whatever gets the job done," Hermione said. "Remember: chair leg. I don't care if I go in the back or front, but yes… there is something here. Something dark and powerful and even if it isn't Voldemort, I think it might be a challenge." A feral, mad gleam flashed in her eyes and Harry grasped exactly how she was feeling.
Ginny, doggedly leading the four the entire way, rushed down the precarious hillside. Harry had slipped a few times wearing against the seat of his jeans. There was no cover, making stealth pointless, so he hoped their speed would help catch whoever resided in this house unaware.
The group cast various spells to reveal any curses or traps and Hermione even used her new spell that detected imbedded metallic items after they had to deal with land mines in Cambodia. They could never be too cautious.
Even as they carried out their protective spells, Harry acknowledged that they were moving too fast. He knew this wasn't a Jarvey or Kobold they were going up against, this was something…bigger, for lack of a better word. However, the four soon found themselves outside of the open gate with nothing so much as a rusty wire that they could scratch themselves on. No active spells threatened them at all.
"Didn't Gabriella say this place's protections were breaking down?" Hermione asked.
Harry nodded. She had said that, but it was all too recent. The spells couldn't have degraded so quickly. But he wasn't about to let this curiosity stop him. "Shall we?" Harry asked, feeling as anxious as the others.
"I think we will be fine," Ginny said, the first thing out of her lips during their entire scramble down the hill. Come to think of it, Harry hadn't seen her really working any magic to protect herself at all.
"You certain?" Hermione asked, lowering her wand ever so slightly when Ginny nodded. "Fine, let's go in."
"What?!" Ron and Harry both gasped at the sheer recklessness of the women. "Have you been bitten by the Tsura Midge, Hermione? You're just going to walk right in there without knowing what you're walking into?"
She glanced curiously at Ginny. "I trust Ginny and I trust her 'vision.' So I say let's go and see what's inside."
The logical part of his brain screamed at Harry to 'Stop This Right Now.' They couldn't rush into this; they had to assure their safety first. The more cajoling part of his brain, the part that said 'Go For It,' knew that Harry wanted to rush in there with Hermione and Ginny. Soon, it overpowered logic with a sharp, pokey stick.
"Fine, but let's go slowly."
Ginny and Hermione nodded and walked through the gate.
As they walked through they heard a soft creaking sound and the men turned sharply around to see the gate slowly swinging on its hinge, as if pushed by some nonexistent wind. The women continued walking up the cobbled parkway, passing dried up husks of moss and spiny shrubs growing up between the stones. Larger roots from trees predating the area blight displaced cobbles along the walkway.
It looked like nobody had lived here since the latter part of the previous century. Abandoned. Empty. Extinct like the way of life it once symbolized.
By the time Harry began walking again, Ginny and Hermione had already arrived at the massive double doors. Carvings covered the outer edges of the door, some sort of monument to the four elements depicted in a blending of clouds, ivy, watery ripples and flickering flames. A huge brass knocker hung at the center of one door in the shape of a lion's head.
They studied the door and then studied each other. Did they go in? Did they knock, or perhaps wait? Everyone turned to Ginny, who motioned for Harry.
"You knock," she told him.
"You're the hero here; we're just your sidekicks."
"Who you calling a sidekick?" Ron protested, but Hermione quickly shushed him.
"Fine," Harry said, more gruffly than he intended. Sometimes Ginny's seer abilities were too mysterious. He liked things a little more tangible than unexplained direction and veiled smiles. With a shaking hand, he walked forward, reached out and pounded the knocker.
The lion roared and the sound echoed through the valley. It didn't sound angry or even much like a warning. Though it was hard to explain why, Harry thought it sounded welcoming and he smiled as the lion licked at his finger.
Slowly, the door blossomed to life; the flames rising high in the bottom left corner, the clouds flowing across the upper right. The vines spread over another corner and the waves slowly started undulating over the wood. A fine, faintly blue glow shimmered over the surface of the door, spreading across the entire house and the door eased open with a sturdy click.
Not one of them noticed the leaf buds developing on the ancient, dead trees surrounding Baden Manor, or the gentle push of grass up through the hard packed earth as they took their first steps in.
END BIT 2