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 and yivel! You are both amazing with the super beta skills you have. All mistakes are mine and by all means, let me know if you find any.
Word count: Approximately 7,000 of a total of 59,200
Young Immortals - All Chapters
A/N: This is the longest chapter and only one more major chapter left. Hope some of your questions have been answered.
For their own reasons, the three went their separate ways after the disturbing revelation. Mulling over this new situation, Harry unsurprisingly found himself walking the length of the halls of the manor. His manor. Once he'd had nothing, no friends, no real family, only broken toys passed to him from his spoiled cousin, tucked away in the cupboard under the stairs with the spiders and hopelessness. Now, a blood legacy. It still astounded him that something of such grandeur could be his. And to think that he might be facing his nemesis soon. This stalled portion of his life, achingly drawn out into almost meaningless thinness, would be over. He had no stray thoughts that he might not win, he knew he would win. His allies loved him, they didn't follow him in fear for family and life, and each of them was powerful and skilled, Titans of the Wand. The four of them… wait, no, five with Severus, could destroy Voldemort as easily as banishing spilled tea, with a flick of their wands. Zap his fractured soul to oblivion never to return again. It made Harry chuckle in glee.
"What is that maniacal laughter for, Potter?" Harry shifted, turning around from where he'd been lost in thought, starting out at the first splays of pink leaking into the night's void. Severus, dressed in intimidating full-length robes, was staring down his nose at Harry as his long stride brought him closer and closer, like a charger eager for the fray. His face was stern, his eyes black and flat. But Harry felt that the man was amused. Severus was… joking with him. So, the Age of Miracles hadn't ended after all.
"Sorry, sir. I was just devising more ways to sneak out after curfew and peak in at the girls in the prefects' bath." He adopted a contrite look and shuffled his feet. "I won't do it again, sir; I promise."
"Promises are rarely kept by errant school boys. I think you need to be... punished." A wicked gleam entered those pearly black eyes and Harry gulped. Severus stalked up to him, a feral, Cheshire grin that caused Harry's heart to thump and sputter, his face to grow warm and uncomfortable in anticipation. Their bodies met and Severus leaned down and licked at his mouth, tasting and judging and finding him worthy. With parted lips, Harry lifted himself up with his toes to capture the tall man in a kiss, but then Severus pulled back with a smirk.
"Agh. Not fair," Harry sighed, leaning his head on Severus' shoulder.
In a softer, more gentle voice Severus said, "Harry, once you destroy Voldemort, you will be free of this obligation. You will have your life back."
“What do you mean?” Suddenly goosebumps spread over his arms, the tiny hairs lifting and catching the gentle air currents slipping through the manor halls like blood through the tiny capillaries of the heart.
“You have Baden Manor; you are the most powerful wizard that I have ever come across, you are young... and attractive. I will not chain you...”
“What the fuck, Severus?” Harry couldn't believe this. “Stop... just stop. You are being a complete idiot.” He gripped the vampire's biceps, and with intention and will he forced at Severus all the feelings that had been fermenting within him, bubbling and growing and changing. “You feel that? Does that give you the impression that I want to run off and be with someone else? Does that feel like I want anyone else but you?” His words were quiet but charged with truth and honest conviction.
Like a spark was lit behind them, Severus' eyes flashed. “No, but what will you do? What do you expect when this is over?” All of that love and power he had bombarded Severus with had been absorbed by the man and cherished and gently sent back. It was comforting, like a hug, and Harry leaned into that support, clutching onto him so even death couldn't tear him from his grasp.
"I was just thinking about that," Harry said, his words muffled by the heavy wool of Severus' robe as he brushed his fingers through Harry's hair. Harry'd noticed that Severus loved playing with his hair. "I have been waiting for this moment for the majority of my life, but now that it might be upon me… I was never really sure what I was going to do with myself.” But now, he knew he had a better idea.
"Well, I am sure you can find yourself a nice, young witch, settle down, have a family and a crup and a white picket fence." Harry felt the amused smirk in the rumble of the man's chest, the lilt of his words, and through their joining.
He leaned back and looked up into Severus' face. "Oh, come off it, Severus. I'm planning to run around the Caribbean with my pet vampire and shag like rabbits till the sun rises." With cheeky charm, he grinned. There, that earned him the kiss he wanted.
"That's the plan," Kingsley said to the group littering the library.
"Overly simple plan, don't you think?" Ron asked. A pencil was trapped behind one ear as he studied the mostly empty parchment that covered the surface of a full sized desk. The seven of them had jotted down ideas on the parchment in a rainbow of inks, erased particularly bad notions, and settled on a few options that really didn't constitute a plan at all.
"Nothing's wrong with simple, Ron. It should work, though there are a few holes large enough to fly a Ridgeback through. We aren't sure if this veela can sense how far away we are. But if her sensory range is limited, she might not be prepared for us to return," Hermione offered weakly.
With his hands buried deep in his hip pockets, Harry kept circling the table, hoping that by reviewing their written thoughts at a different angle some flash of inspiration might come to him. The base of the plan was to use Severus as bait, leaving him in the manor, alone, waiting for some sign of the veela's arrival so they could return to capture and interrogate her. Severus already had the Veritaserum brewed and Harry had a few tricks in reserve that he'd learned in Japan a few years ago when he'd had an altercation with a kitsune that had already swayed three women to join his bed with his animal magnetism.
One glaring problem, the Killing Curse of problems, was that when she showed, would Severus be able to ward her off? Harry had talked with Josephine and she had promised to help Severus in any way to keep that veela away from him. It was a small relief.
"Harry, can I talk to you and Severus out in the hall?" Hermione asked as he passed her chair for the fifth time. He looked over at her and nodded, barely registering her amused expression.
She stood, gestured to Severus to join them and they all left the library, closed the door, and took a few steps down the hall before she threw up one of her impenetrable silencing barriers. The man in the portrait across from them looked annoyed at this and stuck up his nose in a good impression of a Malfoy.
"Stop worrying, Harry." Severus cocked an eyebrow at her. "And you, too," she said to Severus. "I know you two are sleeping together." Harry blushed and Severus looked casually away. "Now, I don't know what you feel for each other, but it isn't the same old animosity, that's obvious. It hasn't been that since even before you started exchanging bodily fluids," she said with a smirk. "So, from my research on vampires and the blood joining, I remember that it gives you strength against doing things that would hurt your joined partner. So, it would give Severus added obstinacy, not that he needs more, to work against Serephia's charms. As I said before, if you just have the blood exchange, then that will create the joining. If you include sex it creates a stronger bond with an exchange of magic and an empathic link. So we know you have that, am I right?"
Harry looked up at Severus and tugged at the bond, nudged it with his mind or heart or some other new sense that had developed with the joining. Relief, amusement and something else, something warm responded. He smiled and relaxed. "Ah, yeah. We haven't done the whole magic exchange thing yet, but we can sense each other."
"Good," Hermione said matter-of-factly. "Now, if you men care for each other at all, it will make it even stronger. Especially if someone tries to force you to do the other harm. Think of it like this, if you love each other, then exchanging blood with someone else while you're already joined would hurt your partner. So it gives you more strength to fight whatever it is you need to fight. So, quit worrying. Severus will have added strength because of your," she shrugged her shoulders and shook her head searching for a word, "relationship, to assure that relationship isn't undermined." She finished with a grin. "Understand?"
He threw his arms around Hermione and hugged her. "Thank you, Hermione. You always had a knack at teaching the slow and stupid." He pulled back, grinning like a fool. A love-struck fool. Even Severus' severity lessened. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Well, let's go back before they think we’re engaging in some ménage à trois or equally risqué amusement." She dropped her barrier and the three returned, Harry holding onto Severus' arm like he was his Yule dance date.
"So," Kingsley said as the door opened, "we’re planning this set-up's play by play for tomorrow. That good with you three?"
"Yep. Let's get this over with," Harry said full of relief and excitement.
Hiding away in his drawing room, Severus watched the hot flames dance upon the logs. He was alone in the house with only that cantankerous spirit to keep him company, but at least the fire was cheery.
“We'll be on the edge of the forest, just beyond the Apparition point,” Harry said, peppering kisses along his neck. “The minute we know she appears we'll jump on our brooms and fly in.”
He felt completely out of sorts and perhaps that bothered him more than knowing he was being used as a lure for the veela. He wanted a word with that woman, needed to know why it was that he was singled out. Was it because Voldemort wanted to get back at him, especially now that it was obvious he worked with the Order? And how did they find out about the Sentinel program? The many questions were suffocating him and he wanted them all answered. His fists clenched just thinking about it, distracting him from that needle of worry slipping into each of his thoughts.
“What if I drink from her,” Severus mumbled his main worry, cringing at how needy he sounded, at how entirely reliant he'd become on Harry in just a few short weeks. “What if I can’t do anything about it and drink from her?”
“That won’t happen. Just think of me. Just think of this.” And then Harry kissed him, deeply, making Severus feel precious in that kiss, cherished like he'd never felt before.
Waiting was something he'd always excelled at. He had patience; he could lay down the pieces of a plan and wait for years for them to come to fruition. He was a master manipulator, in control of himself at all times. Why was he feeling so helpless?
“Fuck!” he yelled at nobody, his fists clenching, hungry for something to punch. He had to get a grip on his undermining imagination. He went to the kitchen and brewed a strong cup of Earl Grey. As he poured the boiling water over the leaves at the bottom of the porcelain pot, he engaged his senses, his strong vampiric ears and nose. He would be ready for her, even if his calm was only a farce.
He took a tea cup back to his drawing room and sat in his comfortable chair. The fire continued to blaze happily, keeping his dead bones warm. And he waited.
“Remember, you need to give us some time. We will have a perimeter detection spell up to alert us to her presence, but it will take us time to return to the manor. So you have to bring her in and keep her busy until we get there. Distract her enough that she won’t notice our approach.”
That was all sickeningly optimistic and easy for Shacklebolt to say, but Severus certainly wanted to spend as little time in the wicked woman's presence as possible.
“Someone is coming.” The unexpected words startled Severus and he spilled his tea, scalding himself unknowingly. Josephine stood at the threshold of his room, his sanctuary for so many years. He tried to remember the last time she had berated him, but couldn’t place the exact day. He nodded at her once and she sunk into the floor, seeping into the stone and tile, and then the bells cracked the air.
“Above all, don’t worry. We have something here, right?” Harry asked, his palm resting over Severus' heart and he held his breath in wonder. “She can’t take that away from us.” He drew his hand down the side of Severus’ face, caressing him, and finally he turned to leave.
“Josephine,” Severus said to the air, “please, let her in.”
A moment later the claxons stopped and he could hear the happy greeting of the house-spirit. “Welcome! Please come in. The Master of the House is currently out. Can I bring you refreshment?”
Silently, he thanked the House for doing her part, but knew the veela would not be distracted long.
“I am here to speak with Severus.” Like the voice of an agent of God, each syllable, each sound a brilliant tone; they slipped into his ears, his mind, and fanned divine adoration. Words emerging from her dulcet voice could bring grown men to cry, but he had his pride, damn it! Defending himself against her deadly grace, he erected his mental defenses and steadied his shoulders. He had run from her once, he would not do it again. His thoughts with Harry, he strode to the door of the drawing room, each footstep clacking against the floor tiles ticking his passage into the barren lands of uncertainty, and threw it open to the foyer.
“What is it you want of me, Serephia?” he asked.
The woman was as beautiful as ever, although her wings were a darker gray than the soft charcoal they had been before. Like burnt steel. She still wore her hard leather breastplate and sword strapped to her back and he couldn’t remove the thought of an avenging angel from his head. Perhaps God had sent her here to punish him for all his sins, but he didn’t think even the fabled Archangel Michael could make him atone for the entirety of his past deeds.
“Why so hostile, Severus?” she asked. “I’ve only ever offered you what you need with nothing requested in return.” The veela’s folded wings fluttered slightly, and Severus couldn't help but be reminded of a cat ready to pounce, as if quivering with heightened anticipation.
"What do you want of me?" he asked once more, relieved that his voice was firm and steady.
“Why do you question me? Aren’t we comrades in arms?” She took a step towards him.
Severus took a step back, maintaining a barrier of space from her magnetic allure, which even at this distance was nudging at him, tempting him to close the gap. His eyeteeth ached, wanting to lengthen in preparation for that first puncture of unspoiled skin.
The woman cocked her head, a slight crinkle of her brows marring the smooth ice-sheet of her skin. “Why do you run from me, Severus?” she asked, pleasant and smooth.
“You will answer my questions first, woman,” Severus said. “Why do you come to offer me your blood?”
“I told you, because you were fading, killing yourself. Each of us Sentinels must keep sharp. I only returned to assure you were healthy enough to fulfill your obligation. Is that wrong of me?” Her wings lifted and he could see the edges of them beyond her back, miles of fine, gray feathers. An unfamiliar scent rose through the air and if Severus had hackles, they would have risen; instead his fangs lowered in threat.
“Stop it, woman,” he growled past his incisors, flinching as dagger-sharp claws lengthened from the tips of his fingers, pulling at the surrounding flesh and skin. He didn’t understand where this fight-or-flight instinct was coming from, but it felt right and it felt good and he reveled in the power of his bloodlust. “Get away from me.”
“Severus, I have what you want.” She took a step closer, her wings flapping once, twice, stirring the air. With another step he retreated into his drawing room and went to close the door, but he paused as he saw the veela reach up and draw her sword. Did the woman intend to fight him? The sound of the blade unsheathing, a sharp ring of metal on metal, sung its warrior song. The blade glinted in the candle light of the hall casting reflections on the silk-covered walls; she brought it to her palm, running it slowly across the skin. He watched in eager longing as a thin line of red welled up from the cut. She returned the sword with one fluid motion and reached out with her bloody palm. “I have what you need,” she said, taking another step forward.
Trapped, he stood motionless, entranced, watching as the bloodied hand grew closer and closer, the cupped palm collecting that sinful temptation. The wings of the woman, now almost black, expanded to fill the hall. His senses whirled in a light-headed daze; his hand clutched the edge of the door as his mind frantically screamed "Run, you fool!" but he stood petrified by want and desire and her fucking undeniable power and like a frozen rabbit he watched her approach.
They stood mere feet apart when the woman’s calm grace, diva's voice and enticing smell completely removed Severus’ will. All he could think of was the blood, the rich blood right there for the taking. Why wasn’t he drinking from her? Why was he standing here? He took a hesitant step forward and she smiled at him. He took another, eyes on the blood dripping from her palm, splattering on the stone tiles, leaving a pattern of maroon islands on a sea of gray. When she was close enough, she leaned down and kissed the pallid skin of his forehead. Then she went stiff.
The blood. He could smell it, taste its phantom promise on his lips. Why wasn’t he devouring it?
“What have you done?” The harsh whisper pierced his mesmerized daze, drawing his struggle away from the pool of red liquid. “Who is it? Which one has been feeding you?” Dread crept into the words, lacing them with poison that broke the spell chaining Severus. “Who is it?” she screeched. “Who is it? ”
Blinking and shaking his head, he realized he'd almost drunk the veela's blood so eagerly offered, which now smelled fetid and perverse. He scrambled away, eyeteeth and claws retreating in a panic he hadn’t realized he was even capable of feeling. He had almost drunk Serephia's blood. He had almost destroyed his joining with Harry. Sweet Harry, who tasted like heaven and filled his heart with so much—
Merlin be damned!
“Who is it? ” The woman’s voice reached decibels rattling his eardrums and her wings flapped furiously, raining feathers over the entrance hall floor. Then she pulled them in and launched herself at Severus, tackling the stunned man full on and smacking them into the floor.
God. Merlin. The Ancients. Allah. Whoever can hear me, please let me make it in time. Please let me get there. Please… God. Merlin. Please.
Harry's broom screamed through the air with the others attempting, but failing, to keep up, falling behind slowly as Harry put everything he had into the flight. He dodged between the trees and shrubs; with quick dips and rises he darted under the foliage and branches until he burst out of the forest and rocketed straight for the front door.
His heart was racing, his mind was racing, every evil, every thing that could go wrong was going wrong in his imagination as he plummeted for the manor. He could feel Severus, could feel his fear, his struggle, and he could hear a mantra, soft and desperate, being repeated in his bondmate's head, 'think of Harry, Harry, think of Harry.'
Fuck. He had to fly faster.
“Josephine,” he mouthed as he shot straight towards the front doors, closed tight, blocking him from Severus and the foul woman who planned to take him away. “Open the doors. Now, please.” And they opened as if in warm greeting and he zipped right through, rounded the corner and burst into the drawing room.
“Get your fucking hands off him, bitch!” Harry screamed and threw himself from his broom, landing on the winged back of the veela crouching over his Severus.
“It is you!” screeched Serephia. “The Boy Who Lived.” She stood, and with a thrust of her wings threw Harry off, giving Severus a window to escape from under her weight and gain his feet.
Severus stood on one side of the woman and Harry on the other, his wand out and anger burning off of him like the flames of a phoenix. “What're you doing?” he demanded through clenched teeth. “Who the fuck are you? Are you working with Voldemort?”
Serephia stood tall, wings at half span, and drew her sword. Turning her back on the vampire, she faced the wizard and his wand, swinging her sword before her in a great arching X across her chest. “You think to take him from us? He belongs with us! He is ours!” She lunged forward. Quick! Too quick, and she sliced at Harry’s wand arm and cut deep.
He gripped the wound with his hand and stared up at Serephia. “Why do you think he's yours?” he spat after he had muttered a spell to curb the bleeding. “Who are you with?”
Still facing Harry, sword at the ready but ignoring his questions, she said to the man behind her: “I can’t believe this, Severus. You bonded with this man? You chose a boy over me, a veela? I could have offered you pleasures to drown in, fulfillment, answers to all of your desires.”
“Perhaps, Serephia, but you couldn’t offer me what Harry can,” Severus said coldly, his lips twisted in contempt.
She whirled around on him, exposing her winged back completely to Harry.
“And what is that, Severus? Love?” she asked with mockery and distaste. “How can you love him? You’ve hated him your entire life. Look at all the anguish his father has caused you, he has caused you.”
“What do you know of the anguish I have suffered?” Severus asked, and Harry watched as his lover's fangs and claws extended, and a shiver of fear and excitement wracked his body. This was his lover, his vampire, his … he didn’t quite know what, and the power radiating off of him tingled Harry's nerve endings.
"I know, for our Lord told me all! After you disappeared I waited, waited with him. But he then he was gone! He had to leave us, his most faithful, because of that boy! Why are you with him?" The last word was said with such loathing, Harry almost felt disgusted with himself.
Snarling like a rabid wolf, Severus faced the veela down. "I do not remember you, nor any other veela in Voldemort's ranks. Why should I believe a thing you say? You appear to have an over-inflated sense of your own renown, or you lie for some unknown and unimportant reason."
While the two partial humans challenged each other, Harry began to spin his magic and build up his defenses. "Protego," he whispered. Then he lashed out with a procession of hexes and spells. Stupefy! Aienthia! Petrificus Totalus! Welltortus! He cast spells to rip her magic from her, spells to rend her limb from limb and finally he screamed out, "Avada Kedavra” in a desperate effort at overcoming her.
And nothing happened.
The spells either absorbed into or bounced off of those deep gray wings and nothing Harry cast could break through.
He heard the clack of a shoe behind him, a clack of promise and relief, and knew his friends had arrived, ready and waiting for him to direct their actions.
Needless to say they were at a bit of a stalemate.
"I was his most faithful servant, kept hidden and secret for when I was needed most. Bellatrix Black was nothing to him, was nothing," she spat, her words growing more fevered as she spoke. "I was everything to our Lord! I was…" and in a flash, someone raced past Harry and there was a loud 'crash!' as something made of porcelain or glass was smashed over the veela's head.
Everyone stopped to look at Hermione standing with shards of an ancient vase gripped in her hands while the remains of it littered the floor around the fallen body of the winged woman. The heavy silence was suffocating.
"Well," Hermione said desperately. “Magic didn't seem to be affecting her!” Ron burst out laughing.
"At least it wasn't a chair leg," Harry grumbled as he walked over to the woman, and began casting binding spells on her that now worked without her winged shield. "A vase has a little more class."
"My vase!" cried Josephine sadly, appearing out of mist. "It has been in the family for seven generations, brought to the manor by Lord Leopold van Buren after his visit to the Far East. Gone. Broken into a million little pieces." She stooped down and ran her fingers through the fine dust and shards on the floor.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Josephine," Hermione said contritely.
"No problem," said Harry, and with a quick Reparo, the vase was new again.
"Oh, Master! You truly are amazing and good!" Harry found himself surrounded by joyous house-spirit and calmly patted her back, looking over at Severus with a shy grin.
Everyone filed into the room then; Seamus, Kingsley, Ron and then Ginny, staring down at the sprawled-out woman.
"She certainly is hot," Ron said with a sigh. Seamus nodded his agreement.
Ginny giggled and when everyone looked at her, she just shrugged and started dancing around the group, humming softly to herself.
"What's up with Ginny?" Seamus asked, watching after her with worry.
"Oh, she's probably just had some vision of Ron and this veela living happily ever after and bearing seven red-headed children," Hermione said with little flourish. "Or perhaps it was you," she said more thoughtfully. Then she shrugged at Seamus' continuing confusion.
Harry's eyes were locked on their prisoner. She worked for Voldemort? Did she know where he was? He could almost taste the eager bile on the back of his tongue, the desire to have her awake and spilling everything she knew. His fist clenched around his wand and his teeth ground against each other in angry anticipation.
A soft touch brushed his arm and he jumped at its tenderness. He tore away from his hatred to look into the stern face of a middle-aged man with bad teeth and sallow skin and it soothed him. Severus held his shoulder and pulled Harry to him, who offered no resistance. The two men embraced and within those encompassing arms, Harry felt his fury and hatred ease from his bones and relinquish their control.
"Thank you," Harry softly murmured.
"No, thank you," Severus replied and planted a kiss on the top of Harry's brow.
Hermione began shooing the others out of the room. She levitated the bound veela behind her as she exited, drawing the door closed to leave the two men alone.
The room was silent, preternaturally silent like a death watch waiting room at St. Mungo's, and the only one at ease was Ginny, who sat perched on a study desk, swinging her legs, the edge of her skirt lifting and falling with the pendulum motion, and nibbling on a chicken leg.
They had decided to separate those involved in the questioning from those who were not. So they had bound Serephia to a chair, with magical means and sturdy Muggle-issue handcuffs for good measure, and placed her with her back to the masterful mosaic in the northwest corner of the large ballroom. With her were Severus and Kingsley, interrogator and judge, and the others, hidden behind a disillusionment screen, watched from the south.
Kingsley was chosen because of his experience with the Aurors and his knowledge of wizarding law and proper interrogation techniques. Severus was chosen for much the same reasons, especially his expertise concerning Veritaserum as well as the fact that it had become common acceptance that she would be more willing to speak with him than anyone else.
It was early in the morning and they'd argued from dusk till the bright beginnings of dawn. Normally dawn had always held promise but on this morning, to Harry, where he now glowered behind the screen, it only seemed to mock him. He had not been chosen because of his hot temper and increasingly high sense of protection for and possession of Severus. Everyone had outvoted him, told him he would just be in the way and Ginny even suggested with macabre amusement that he might end up killing their captive. Admittedly, Severus had abstained. Behind the curtain, beyond the touch of Severus' reassurance, he waited, his wand was out and his eyes latched onto the veela as Kingsley revived her.
The woman's eyes snapped open, none of that dreary slow coming-to that was typical of magically awakened people, and immediately put all her mettle to struggle against her bindings. Harry watched her as she attempted to unfurl her wings, straining and shivering with the effort, and grinned maliciously when she failed. Through their bond, he knew that Severus was relieved her wings and deadly charm would not be unleashed.
Soon Serephia grew still and an odd transformation took hold; the pull of her lip, the contortion of her eyebrows released, the indignation and fury in her eyes cooled and with a breath, she looked calmly up at the two wizards, one pale, one dark, both capable of intimidating a charging Thestral. Then she smiled at them as if she wasn't tied down and her fate wasn't at their whim. "So, gentlemen…” Harry's heart almost ached at the melody of her words. “What is it you wish of me?"
Ginny snorted around the chicken bone and Hermione smacked her lightly on the arm. Light filtered through the stained glass mosaic of the high windows, painting her annoyed features in festive hues.
"Hey!" Ginny complained.
"Shhh, I want to hear this," Hermione said as she fluttered her hand, shushing Ginny.
Harry ignored them.
"Well, Serephia, is it?" Kingsley asked, and after the veela had nodded, he continued. "We would like to know what you can tell us about Voldemort."
"I won't tell you a thing,” she said, calm and in control as if she was turning down a cube of sugar for her tea. “Nothing can make me speak of him."
Leaning towards her, Severus asked calmly, "Where is the Dark Lord?"
"What is left of him is hidden in Greenland." The woman's posture snapped into rigidity and she clamped her jaw shut. Then, "What have you done to me?" she demanded. The two men looked down at her severely and her tongue let lose again. "Severus, please.” Just the sound of her voice, her plea, caused heat to pool in Harry's groin. He shifted uncomfortably on his feet and next to him he could hear Seamus gasp. “I could do so much for you. Even though you've already joined with another, we could still be joined as well. And then I could give you anything, everything, so much more than that inexperienced human."
“Fucking hell,” Seamus muttered.
"At what strength is the Dark Lord?" Severus asked the next question, just as calmly, ignoring her promises and entreaties.
"He is a shadow of his former glory and it pains me to see him thus," she said sadly, the regal posture of her shoulders slumping noticeably as she looked down at her knees, resigned to her fate of divulging any knowledge that the men could ferret out of her.
"What allies does he have?"
Her gaze rose, cutting at Severus' veneer of stone, but he withstood the dark look with the ease of a man who'd continuously walked with madmen. "He has me. I will always be by his side, supporting him in his most divine of goals." There was a fevered sheen of adoration coating her eyes; madness and devotion.
In a way, it made her ugly.
"This could be Bellatrix right here," Harry murmured to himself, shivering against the lunacy evident in the woman. "How did Voldemort ever earn such blind loyalty?"
"What other allies, apart from yourself?"
"Oh, there are many Death Eaters still at his call, dear Severus.” A smile replaced her previous slip of sanity and her ethereal beauty was donned again. “He wondered about you, you know. He always had a soft spot for you. After his Horcruxes had been destroyed, he wondered where you had gone. He ran to save himself and our precious goal, he had to hide away from those unworthy Muggle lovers who were hunting him, hunting him like a criminal.” A sneer ticked at her lip, but she forced it away with sweetly tainted words. “He called, he called out to us all, but you did not come when he needed you most." She tilted her head and gazed up at her intended through thick lashes. "You still bear his mark, yet you did not come."
"How is the Dark Lord protected?” Severus asked, his deep timber breaking the fine bell-like spell the veela's voice had been weaving.
"He is hidden in a cave under tons of ice, non-Apparition wards surrounding the entire complex, twenty highly trained wizards guard him day and night, as well as other creatures, such as veela, vampires and werewolves." A soft chuckle, light and carefree, caused Harry's arms to erupt in goosebumps. "And Dementors surround each entrance of the cave structure." She grinned up at Severus, her beauty almost staggering and Harry almost wept at what he saw in those eyes.
Had he ever had that devotion for anything? His parents? He never really knew them. Dumbledore? But he had felt betrayed by the man too many times to adore him quite like that. He loved his friends, but such fervent loyalty? He knew he would do anything for them, but he also knew they wouldn't ask of him something he couldn’t offer. This woman would give her life for Voldemort, her very soul.
A subtle movement caught his eye and he looked up through the screen right into Severus' eyes. It was only a flash of a moment, a tiny window into the flow of time, but during that moment Harry knew that this vampire, this man, understood such devotion, and with that knowledge, Harry realized he understood it as well.
Then Severus turned away and continued to question their captive.
"How do we get into the Dark Lord's stronghold?"
"Oh, he very much wants to meet with you, Severus. I can take you there personally." Her head bobbed eagerly, shifting the height of her wings trapped behind her. "You and your little whelp, if you'd like. But no others!" She smiled at Severus in a very satisfied way, like the entire situation was in her complete control, something she had planned from the dawn of time and all of the blocks she'd laid were lying down in the exact pattern she'd expected, building some cursed cathedral for a demon god. It was unnerving. "When would you like to go?"
"Harry," Hermione said behind him. "I don't like this. I don't trust her. You know this is a trap, right?"
Harry turned around to look at his friends, all gathered around him like the entourage of a landed Lord preparing for battle. Seamus looked completely overwhelmed, but Ron and Hermione were ready, completely prepared for this final battle. Ginny sat immodestly cross-legged in her skirt right in the center of her table, staring at the jagged soles of her trainers.
"Ginny, what do you think?"
The young woman shook her head with a worried frown; her skin had gone a pasty off-white. "Harry, the minute she offered her bargain, I could sense nothing.” A small exhale of air fluffed the edges of her hair that framed her thin face. “The normal vibe I get about the outcome of any action just isn't there. It's a black hole. I tell you she can either hide or manipulate fate. On one hand, I completely agree with Hermione. This is obviously a trap and you shouldn't go, especially without us.” Hermione nodded, gesturing at Ginny in a 'see, listen to her' manner. “But then, I know you and Severus can do it, and only you two can. If this gets you closer to him, I think you should take the chance."
Hermione looked incredulously over at Ginny. "You can't be serious?"
She only shrugged, having already had her say.
"Ron, any words of wisdom here?" Harry asked.
"Sorry, mate. I think I'd do it if I was you, but I'm just as worried as Hermione. I hate it that you'd be going in there without us, but then we always knew it had to be you. We're just support characters in this twisted farce of a life." Ron sounded almost depressed and Harry couldn't blame him.
He didn't feel all bright and sunshiny about this either.
From the other side of the screen, the group could hear, "I will return later. Please, stay and remain comfortable." Harry watched Severus across the room and could see him sneer as he brought attention to her bonds.
"Certainly. I will await your decision," she said pleasantly.
Severus and Kingsley left the ballroom through the grand double doors of the main northern entrance but circled around through the halls to enter through a smaller door at the end where the others waited.
Kingsley's usual exuberant grin was missing and he wore only an expression of concern. "I'll leave it to you. Of course I advise against it, but this is your call." He crossed his arms against his chest and leaned up against the door jamb.
"We have to go. I mean, we're being delivered right to Voldemort, how can we lose this opportunity?" Harry said to the gathering, stepping towards the door to be closer to Severus.
"Because you are being delivered right to Voldemort," Seamus said, as if stating the most obvious signifiable event on earth: the sun shone, rain fell, and Harry Potter had a death wish. "This is idiotic!" And the room exploded into argument.
"Yes, it is," Severus said, breaking through the din and effectively killing their debate. "It is suicide, it is idiotic, but it is also an opportunity we cannot miss. We must act and this is the one opening we have received in over ten years. Yes, it is a trap, but in knowing that, we can prepare for it. This conflict must come to an end, and better to end it now then wait another decade."
"Hallelujah," said Ginny with no emotion whatsoever.
"I take it you are not in support of this endeavor," Severus said dryly.
"I don't have a good feeling… well, that's not necessarily correct. I don't have any feeling about this. I guess it just goes to show how dependent I've become on my ability." She shrugged helplessly. "Listen, we all want this over with… I think you should go. You have my complete support and I will do anything you ask me to… but into this event I am blind. I can't offer you any future knowledge or even suggestions."
"You certainly have the training, so it isn't like you’re a lamb being led to the wolves," explained Hermione thoughtfully. "I think you can do it. And it isn't like you're going alone, Harry, you have Severus. And even though I cannot be there to save you if and when you need saving," she chuckled at Harry's incredulous look, "I do trust that Severus will be an adequate substitute." She smiled up at Severus, who blinked at the compliment.
Harry reacted to this support with a huge grin. He could do this. He knew it. Ten years. He'd had ten years of preparation. With Severus by his side, there wasn't anything he couldn't accomplish.
He walked over to the man and leaned against him, resting his head on Severus' shoulder. A quiet calm surrounded them all, like a cloud of hopes and promises, as he took in this last moment of peace before these two fearless men would launch themselves into the deadly unknown.
Seamus cleared his throat, breaking the moment with his unease, and asked: "So, shall we get to planning?"
END BIT 11