Disclaimer: No money is made of this
Warnings: This story will have slash and violence
They were late.
"Get down here, pup!" Severus sneered slightly at the crude words. Standing by the couch he took in the sight of his supposed uncle, whose eyes flashed amber as he reached for Teddy, he was surprised that nothing had been destroyed, yet. Being this close to the full moon meant that both had a rather explosive temper.
"No, don't wanna go!" yelled Teddy, pulling his legs up so they were just out of reach from the hand that tried to grab for him. Why did they even have a book case like that? With enough handholds for a child to climb. And tall and deep enough so Fenrir could not reach him when Teddy was on top of it like he currently was.
He could not find it in himself to care that the clock's hands had moved past the half past five mark. This was interesting to watch and he was not too keen on attending the dinner Harry had agreed to. Even if it was the Flamels. Having lived as long as they had, they had experienced a lot, and knew even more. Under other circumstances he would have been delighted over the opportunity to meet such a famous pair.
Now he dreaded the oncoming encounter.
A rise of the temperature in the room alerted Severus of Harry's arrival, and he stepped away from the couch to where Harry stood in the doorway, his arms crossed and the black hair drying visibly as Severus watched.
Was Harry aware of the heat he leaked when something nagged him? Doubtful, though it was normally not to this degree. Normally, Harry seemed keen on hiding his more outstanding features, such as the scales Severus had seen the morning Fenrir had joined their household. It was intriguing as so much else about his guardian was, but also a possible danger which Harry needed to be aware of. If he could use it to read Harry's mood, then so could others.
A hand brushed against his neck before travelling to his shoulder to give a comforting clench as Harry moved past him. Then again, it was not like anyone else had discovered the significance of it, and it gave him an insight in the man that had taken him in.
He would inform Harry, before he left for Hogwarts, then Harry could decide if it was something he wanted to work on. Unless something happened, Severus saw no reason why he should share the information that gave him such an advantage.
Harry brought his hands together, the sound heard by the duo of werewolves. "That's enough; we're late enough as it is. Fenrir, put your shirt back on, and get down from there, Teddy." The words were said calmly, almost distracted. But he did not need to raise his voice to have the order followed. Fenrir stepped down from the shelf he had stepped onto. Teddy wiggled himself free of the tight space he had climbed into. With a child's trust he rolled over the edge, probably believing that such a fall would not harm him.
Harry caught Teddy before the boy could fall far. Laughing he threw Teddy up in the air, the child's hair changed rapidly in his joy, before catching him and repeating the whole thing.
Leaning against the couch Severus was content with watching them. Were the two adults even aware that they were being manipulated?
"Okay, that's enough. If we are any later, the Flamels might think that we are no-shows." Abruptly, Teddy's laughter died and the suddenly dull, black hair too easily showed what he thought of the dinner they had to attend. While the plan had not worked, Teddy's attempt had been good enough to Severus that he would hand over the sweets they had agreed on.
He would not be the only Slytherin in the house and the fact that he had had to haggle with Teddy over the price of this stunt was rather promising. "Severus, anything you need before we're leaving?"
Blinking, the teen shook his head, black strands of hair falling into his face before he pushed them away with a scowl. If not because his mother had loved his hair so much, he would have cut it short years ago. It was a bother and working with potions meant that it was almost constantly greasy, even with the shampoos Harry brought to help him with his problem.
But with his mother gone, Severus was reluctant to change it too much. Perhaps he should let it grow out a little more, just enough to gather it so he could keep it well out of his face.
A warm hand on his arm brought Severus out of his musings. Finding Harry in front of him, holding a pouting Teddy and with a fully dressed Fenrir by his side, Severus felt like copying their youngest member and ask if they really had to go. But whining was an act of immaturity far below him, so Severus kept his silence.
Harry's smile had a hard edge to it. "Shall we get going?" Nodding, Severus used the close proximity to slip a few of the promised sweets into Teddy's pocket without anyone else noticing it. The small boy could use them when they arrived to the Flamels' residence.
Even as the clock's arms ticked closer to six, Nicolas did not move from the chair Penny had frogmarched him into when she had grown tired of him hovering in the kitchen. He could still hear her hustle around in last minute preparations and wondered if he was the only one who knew that their guests would not show up.
Not that he was really surprised that this was the outcome. The Greys, or at least just the oldest one, seemed to be the sort to hold onto a grudge until the end of the world. And after the trouble he had apparently managed to stir through Albus, Nicolas could not say that he was surprised.
Slouching further in his chair the Alchemist refused to admit he was pouting. Penny was right, living as long as they had; he should at least have learnt to think before he acted. But the lad had looked like a victim of abuse, how was he supposed to know that the situation had already been handled?
Outside the rain was pelting down. The clouds had been hanging low and dark all day and had opened barely fifteen minutes ago. If he had been into Divination, he would have taken the weather as a bad sign.
It was a shame, they would be no-showers. The mere thought about young blood had lived Penny up in ways which he had not seen in years. Nowadays their visitors, while still considerably younger than them, were not in their springtime of youth.
He was halfway out of his chair when he spotted people through the heavy rain. They were walking slowly as if unbothered by the weather. Someone from their world using spells to protect themselves against the rain and wind, or another group of drunk Muggles that had decided to take a stroll.
His answer came when the group turned down the driveway to the house, bypassing the wards supposed to keep unwelcome visitors away.
With a tired sigh Nicolas pushed himself fully out of the chair. Today he felt every bit of his age, even if the elixir was supposed to prevent such a thing. "Penny, we have guests," he called out, knowing that she would hear him in the kitchen.
Nicolas reached the door as the knocking started. "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming." He grumbled, and placed his hand on the door's surface. Those on the other side were wary but not hostile, at least not to a degree where the magic weaved into the door's wood could pick up on it.
Before he could get a better read, Penny came bursting into the entrance and pushed him aside. Wanting to protest over his treatment, Nicolas had already opened his mouth when he caught the scratching look Penny sent him. "Really, Nick, where are your manners?" Penny dried her hands on her apron and opened the door without waiting for a response, not that Nicolas would give one. He had the feeling that he would need all his patience for tonight, and he might as well start early. "Hello, so good that you could come. It is a shame about the weather, normally it is quite lovely."
While Penny chatted, the Flamels moved aside to allow their guests inside. Both of Nicolas' brushy eyebrows shot up when the fourth and tallest member of the group entered. Should he alert Penny of the fact that they appeared to have an infamous criminal inside? Even after all the years they had spent together, he could not foresee what she would do with information. Maybe she would simply tut and offer him something to eat, deeming the man too thin for her liking. For now he would let this play out. Afterwards, when they were alone, he would talk her into going to their house in Denver. Not even Albus was aware of that property.
The old wizard was nearly barrelled down when the child ran past him, eager to explore the moment he was set down by Grey. Mentally, Nicolas ran over his check-list of things that had been put away for today, some of the experiments he was working on could easily be ruined by a curious child. Unless the boy could pick locks, or had a bout of Accidental magic, there should be nothing to worry about.
Harry hid his smile behind the teacup he had raised to drink from. For the past one and a half hour they had been there, those two had been Teddy's most frequently said words. And it was enjoyable to see the way Flamel twisted, knowing that something had been destroyed or dirtied because Teddy had gotten his hands on it. Most of it was something that could easily be fixed with magic and what could not, well from Penny's lack of worry, guessed it was nothing worth losing sleep over.
As if reading his mind, Penny directed an amused smile at Teddy who was holding what had probably been a very old book. Now it was crumbled and some of the pages laid spread around his feet. "It is nothing to worry about, my dear." Harry felt desirably less relaxed when the same smile was directed at him and Fenrir. "Are the two of you married?"
Aware of Fenrir stifling his laughter next to him, Harry dug an elbow into his side before the man could give an answer. The hard muscles his limb connected with left Harry doubting that it had much of an effect. "Actually, we're brothers." From the way the pair's eyes jumped from one and to another, they did not believe his words. "We take after each of our parents." Harry explained, placing the fine cup back on the table. If Penny was going to spring this kind of question, he would rather have it done without anything in his mouth.
"So, who's the oldest?"
"That would be me." Fenrir was quick to answer Flamel's question and Harry closed his eyes briefly. He could not get away with elbowing Fenrir again, not with how closely they were being watched. And it was too awkward an angle to try and kick the other over the shin. What was the chance that Flamel accepted the answer without further questions?
Flamel carted fingers through his beard. "How unusual, normally the older brother would inherit the Lordship." Flamel commented before grimacing. Penny seemed to have found a way to shut up her husband while seated next to him. As tears gathered in the crinkled eyes, Harry decided that he was better off not knowing what she was doing with her hand under the table.
Teddy climbed into his lap and Harry wrapped an arm around him, not liking the way the elderly pair was eyeing his godson. "Uncle Fen is like me. When the moon is full we gwow haiwy and play awound in the gawden all night."
Wedged in between them, Harry was quite aware of Severus and Fenrir tensing. Teddy was the only one unaware of the tension as he grabbed Harry's cup and downed its content in one go. From his grimace afterwards, it hadn't been sweet enough for his taste.
Already, Harry's mind was running through the escape routes available to them. Their world was far from welcoming to werewolves, though Harry had known people who saw the person and not some kind of a beast. At least until Ginny and Andromeda had been murdered and the campaign against werewolves, no matter how civilised they were outside the full moon, had started. Harry refused to go through all that again, running, hiding and not knowing whom he was supposed to rely on. It had been some hellish weeks before Draco had found a way to get them out of that situation.
He could try and Oblivate them, but it was not a spell Harry would ever be comfortable to use, not that he had much experience with it in the first place and that only made it worse. Honestly speaking, he was still amazed that Hermione had used the spell on her parents. One misstep and someone could end up in the long-term ward next to Neville's parents and Lockhart.
Another possibility was taking them by surprise with his flames, though Harry was not fond of that idea. The Flamels death would be investigated and who knew if they had informed anyone of this visit? He could not protect his family while in Azkaban.
Hiding his free hand under the table, Harry allowed heat to pool into it. He was sure that the two beside him were just as prepared to jump to action within a moment's notice.
Head supported in one hand Flamel rested his elbow on the table, his eyes slightly wide. "Is it hereditary, or have the two of you been bitten? How does it work with humans involved, do you consider yourself two different packs despite being one family, and who is the alpha?"
The table jumped, causing Harry and Severus to mimic the action while Flamel winced. This time Penny had made no attempt to hide it when she silenced her husband with her hand. "It seems like I do nothing but apologise for this fool lately," she explained, sending Flamel a look when he opened his mouth to protest. "Despite putting his foot into his mouth, he truly means no harm with it. The last few years Lycanthropy has been an interest of his."
Flamel huffed and crossed his arms and shifted so Penny could not so easily reach him should she decide to try again. "They are a part of our world and are treated like pests. Because of that, every time I come near one of them and let them know that I am aware of what they are; they run off before I can truly start the questioning." Flamel almost sounded like he was pouting.
Harry imaged that the man wore the same kind of expression when he attempted to approach a werewolf only to have them run off when he revealed his knowledge of their Lycanthropy.
"Considering the propaganda the Ministry has had going against them since the majority of Great Britain's population of werewolves joined Grindelwald in the hope of bettering their life conditions, their reaction is hardly surprising. Severus' tone of voice let little doubt of how big an idiot he thought the other to be.
"Perhaps, but if anyone took the time to research the material out there instead of simply accepting the Ministry's word on the matter, I assure you that we would not have a problem of this size. How can someone know who they have been bitten by? I have never understood why the Ministry asks that question when someone comes to register themselves as a newly turned werewolf. Do they really expect that the werewolf will stop right before bitten someone and perhaps say 'by the way, my name is Moonbeam'? It does not happen and the Ministry knows that. So they hand out a couple of mug shots and a list of names and ask them to pick the guilty." Flamel argued, looking quite caught up in the discussion.
Did this mean that a part of Fenrir's reputation was because of the Ministry's incompetence? It was like being caught in a bad circle, the worse things he was known for, the worse mess would Fenrir have to create to keep treading waters. And all because some Ministry workers did a half assed job rather than doing some real investigation to figure out who might have turned the victims.
No, Fenrir was by no means innocent; Harry had seen enough to believe otherwise. Question was if Fenrir was known because of his crimes, or if he had committed crimes because he was so known that there was nothing else he could do. In the end, it did not really matter. As a part of the family, he wouldn't have to worry about that.
"What is it you want with werewolves?" Severus' question cut through Harry's train of thoughts, having the Gryffindor focussing back on the conversation. It was a question he was eager to hear the answer to and from the way Fenrir leaned slightly forward, Harry could tell that he was of the same mind. Teddy was the only one who seemed uninterested, wiggling around until he could play with some of the buttons on Harry's robe.
Flamel's focus was solely on Severus, who returned the gaze without blinking or doing anything to break eye contact. Something was going on between those two but for the sake of it, Harry could not figure out what it might be. "I have known quite a few people who had Lycanthropy, they did not change personality because of what they had been infected with, but rather as a by-product of the way our society treated them when their Lycanthropy became known. A little over two hundred years ago, we were saved by one."
"We?" Penny cut in, apparently having tired of simply listening to the conversation. "From what I recall, you were the reason to why we got in trouble in the first place, insisting that we needed no guide."
Flamel rolled his eyes, his head carefully tilted so Penny did not catch the action. "They were not willing to provide us with one in the first place, kept mumbling about evil spirits haunting the mountains."
"These evil spirits would have been easier to deal with. But no, instead you had to lead us directly to a group of cannibalistic Muggles. If not for Pedro, we would have ended as their dinner."
"But we did not."
"Certainly not because of you," mocked Penny, before she broke the bickering. "Long story short, we got into some trouble in Peru and a nice fellow saved our skin. Since then Nicolas has been studying Lycanthropy and working on lessening the pain the transformation brings. One of our theories is that this pain is one of the main factors behind the werewolves' violent behaviour during the full moon."
"What have you tried to do this far?" Severus questioned his black yes alight with curiosity.
"There are several ways to go around it, and believe me; I have tested more than most have bothered to attempt."
"What about a potion?"
Flamel looked more like he was entertaining the teen rather than taking him serious, and it was all Harry could do not to hit the man in the head. After all, Snape had been the one to improve the Wolfsbane Potion. It made him wonder what Severus would be able to accomplish when he applied his intelligence to a field that touched people he cared about. There were an endless amount of possibilities and Harry was confident that some of them had to be scarier than what he was able to imagine.
"What do you take me for? That was one of the first subjects I looked into!" Flamel snapped but fell silent under the weight of Severus' black stare.
Calmly the youth clasped his hands together. He looked the picture of an obedient student; an image Harry knew would be destroyed in a matter of seconds. "I was thinking something along of using aconite since its potency depends on the moon's phase." He suggested after a pause.
"A daring move, considering how poisonous the Monkshood can be if not handled correctly." Despite his sceptical words, Flamel looked thoughtful and he hadn't outright denied Severus' suggestion. It only proved that Flamel was not a complete lost case. How long had Severus been thinking about this, or was he simply coming up with things on the spot?
Harry quickly lost what little understanding he had had as those two threw ideas at each other with a head spinning speed. Sharing a look with Fenrir, Harry could only shrug as he prevented Teddy from grabbing the cup again. If Severus decided that he wanted to work with Flamel, he supposed that it was no use holding onto his grudge against the man.
"More tea, boys?" offered Penny, looking too satisfied with herself. Meeting her gaze Harry stifled the urge to groan. Whether he liked it or not, it seemed like his family had gotten two more additions, and Harry wasn't sure of how it had happened. Wasn't he supposed to have a say in this?
By the way Penny's smile grew; Harry supposed that the answer was a solid no, at least in this matter. "Yes, please," he accepted, wondering if he could slip something stronger in the liquid to help him deal with the oncoming headache. Well, there had been a time where he had wished for grandparents. It seemed like his wish was granted, albeit a little later than Harry had thought it would be.
It had stopped raining when they left the Flamels' residence with the promise to have another get-together soon. Fenrir had almost had to drag Severus out by the collar, the teen far from willing to leave now that he had found a more than decent conversation partner when it came to potions. It seemed that Severus had all but forgotten that Flamel had almost caused him to be removed. The way to Severus' heart was through potions and the opportunity to make them, something Harry had already been aware of. He had converted the basement to a Potions laboratory for a reason after all.
And with Flamel's guiding, who knew what Severus might learn? Harry had no idea of whom Snape had apprenticed under, but the old man did not seem to have spent his time twiddling his thumbs.
The call had him jerking his head towards the source, and a smile blossomed on his face when Harry spotted Gwyn on the otherwise empty street. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
The witch raised an eyebrow but lowered her voice, to take consideration to the sleeping Teddy cradled by Fenrir. "Should I not be the one asking you that? I live here, what's your excuse?"
"Just visiting some people." He wasn't sure if it was common known that the Flamels lived here. If not, Harry saw no reason to why he should share the knowledge, even if it was Gwyn. She was not the kind to go spreading the knowledge around. Remembering how chatty she had been at the Malfoy ball, Harry reconsidered, but she didn't do it with any ill intentions.
Her eyes fell on Fenrir and her smile did not falter for one moment, despite the way the big werewolf glowered at her. The fact that Teddy is drooling on his shoulder probably stops her from being deterred. "Hello there, Harry's brother, right? I am Gwyn."
"Fenrir." Fenrir offered no other response and completely ignored the hand Gwyn held out for him to shake. She dropped the limb, not the slightest deterred by his lack of reaction. "Are you going home?" She directed the question at Harry, probably deciding that she would be getting no answer from Fenrir.
"Yeah, I think it is way past Teddy's bedtime" It was true, and it did not escape Harry notice that neither Severus nor Fenrir seemed pleased about Gwyn's presence. Seriously, they acted like she was one of those types one did not want to run into an alleyway at late night.
Gwyn kept smiling, completely unaffected by the duo of glares she received. "Actually, I was thinking. How about we meet for lunch in a week? Just the two of us; I finally have a free day and it would be nice to spend it with someone whose company I enjoy."
Her words had Harry giving a grin of his own. "Sure thing, anywhere specific you want to try?" One thing he had learned from Ginny was that it was much easier to let the woman decide where they would dine. Mostly, he was happy if the food was good and there was enough of it. Others, however, seemed to have higher standards.
Gwyn taped her chin with a thoughtful expression. "I'm sure I will be able to think of something. How about we meet at the Leaky Cauldron at twelve o'clock and figure out where to go from there? But don't let me keep you here, I am sure that there is more than just one of you who longs for his bed, and heaven knows that I have a busy day tomorrow, ta ta."
Harry was the only one who returned her wave when Gwyn left, Severus and Fenrir scowled darkly at her as soon as the witch had turned her back to them. When Harry looked directly at both, they had wiped the expressions off their faces, and he simply shook his head. "Would it kill you two to be a little friendly?" He asked, half expecting a yes by the glare Severus gave him before stomping ahead without a word.
Fenrir hoisted Teddy a little higher, not looking at Harry before Gwyn had disappeared around a corner. "She smells strange," was all he said before following after Severus. Both seemed to ignore the fact that they would have to wait for Harry unless they planned to walk the whole way home. Considering whom those two were, it was a great possibility that they would do just that.
Unable to figure out what Fenrir had meant, Harry set off in a half-jog to catch up with his family. Perhaps Severus would brew a Pepper-Up Potion, it seemed like a cold was affecting Fenrir's sense of smell. Gwyn was the most harmless witch he had met so far, when she wasn't working, and she was his friend. It might just be a perfume she used that did not agree with his nose.
"Another attack has happened." Red eyes rose from the map he had been studying. Orion stood leaning against the doorway with his usual smile, but the Pureblood looked tense, ready to jump from any curse that might fly at him.
Voldemort reached up and pinched his nose with a huff of a breath. He was well aware that his temper had been far from good since alpha Grimm had received the news about his son's death.
The fact that even Orion seemed affected told him that he needed a better grip on his emotions. Why would Nagini decided to go off tormenting the house-elves now of all times? His loyal snake was only happy to tell him when she thought he let his temperament take control.
Not that she had room to talk after all those times he had had to use an antidote because some absent minded fool had disturbed a sunny spot she rested in.
"Godric's Hollow. The source informed me that it had already destroyed itself before the Ministry was alerted, so it is not like they will have much to go after. They will probably write it off as a joke as nothing but a few strays were killed this time. The more paranoid, such as Moody, will probably think that you have been testing a new spell, my Lord."
If Alastor Moody was involved, Albus would get the news soon enough. While he held little belief in such things as luck, Voldemort hoped that the old man would not be able to draw the same conclusion as he had. It was too early in the hunt for the Elemental for others to join in; he might lose what little advantage he had managed to gain so far. "Anyone who saw who did it?" He needed more proof of whether Grey really was the water Elemental, but currently, the Lord Grey was his best lead to get to the fire Elemental.
Orion shook his head remorsefully. "Unfortunately not. By the time someone stumbled over the scene, they were already long gone. No witnesses to help us figure out what exactly is going on." Not waiting for permission Orion sauntered in the library, settling into the chair across for Voldemort. He planted both elbows on the table before resting his chin on one hand. Voldemort kept his silence, knowing that the Pureblood would be sharing whatever plagued him soon enough. Normally, it was close to impossible to make Orion silent without using spells. "Sirius has been quiet lately."
"Is he planning another prank?" Voldemort had heard more than plenty tales from Orion about his oldest's adventures. Despite having been sorted into Gryffindor, thus breaking the family tradition of Slytherins and the occasional Ravenclaw, he was still a snake. The boy might deny it, and he made others believe in his conviction, but Voldemort saw the truth. The way he had been raised showed in his actions, even if the boy strived towards the opposite.
"At first I thought so, but it might be something else. He has been like this ever since the engagement ball." He did not ask outright, but Voldemort was aware that he was fishing for information.
"The only thing that comes to mind is that Lord Grey exchanged a few words with him." It was the only time at the evening which he had seen the young Pureblood. Quite unfortunately, he had stood too far away to hear what was said and that had irked Voldemort more than he knew it should. There was something about Harry, other than the whole Elemental matter, which fascinated him. He was like a fresh breath of air, in the most irking way that Voldemort could think of.
Humming, Orion leaned forward to get a better look at the maps Voldemort had been studying. After looking over the few marks he grabbed a quill and placed a cross at Godric's Hollow. "Even Walburga is worried, so Sirius is spending the rest of the summer with his great aunt. She is a proper Pureblood, even if she married that Potter. And since their son is an idiot, he managed to attach some Muggle disease in one of his outings. Nothing serious, but enough to they couldn't attend the betrothal ball. Any further leads on the fire Elemental?"
Voldemort hummed, changing the black cross Orion had made to that of a blue one with a simply flick of his wand. It needed to match the mark for the other mark for where the possible ice Elemental had acted. Two of for each, two reds and two blues. No matter how he looked at them, there was no system in how they had appeared.
First in Diagon Alley and then some backwater woods in Scotland. Both times the fire Elemental had acted because he had been provoked, that he knew for sure thanks to all the times he had gone through Wanda's memories. It would not surprise him if it had been something akin to that with the small group of werewolves.
Those ice attacks seemed to follow no system either, at least none he could spot at the moment. It was clear that they too were going after the fire Elemental. But did they know something he did not, or were they randomly trying to draw the Elemental out?
At the current point, Harry Grey seemed like his best lead. Even if he was not the one behind the ice a nagging feeling told him that the man was connected to this.
One way or another, Harry would lead him to the fire Elemental, until then he would simply have to keep a very close on him.
At least, it should prove to be entertaining.
Teddy crawled forward, belly touching the ground as yellow eyes were focussed on his intended target. Not far from it, he stopped and crouched even lower, ears perched forward.
"You are a fool."
Harry gave a low grunt as he continued watching his godson play. He had started to grow tired of Severus' continued protest, especially since his boy would offer no explanation to his aversion towards Gwyn. At this point he decided to not answer back; it would simply set off another argument between them. And for some reason, Fenrir picked Severus' side when he got involved.
Suddenly, Teddy growled and pounced, the muscles in his small body flexing as he moved through the air. His teeth sunk into the other werewolf's flank, completely uncaring about the fur that got stuck between them.
Fenrir cracked one eye open, not seeming to take notice of Teddy's persistent attack, and looked at them. Even at this distance, Harry could see the awareness in the eyes and it made him wonder exactly how much Fenrir was aware of inside the wolf. It seemed to vary, but at least he had not deemed any of them an enemy. It would be harder to protect the boys if the danger was already inside the wards. Not that Fenrir was a danger to them. He was family, pack, whatever term that fit their patch-up family the best.
The fully grown werewolf stretched and stood, shaking Teddy off as if he was just a raindrop. His godson gave an annoyed yip before he bounced in circles around Fenrir, heading towards them. With Teddy with him, the two looked more like a pair of abnormally big dogs than something that could rip someone's throat open in a matter of seconds. Even Teddy, for all his playfulness and innocence, could become dangerous if he followed the instincts Harry knew lurked somewhere inside him.
Both wizards remained seated on the blanket Harry had spread over the grass so they had a dry spot to sit on. It was charmed warm and Harry had no intention to leave it before the sun rose and it would be time to go inside. With Fenrir there, there was someone else but him to keep their youngest occupied and help him burn off some of the extra energy the full moon seemed to give him.
"Oh no, you don't." Completely ignoring Harry's warning, Fenrir walked onto the middle of the blanket and plopped down with a huff. The two wizards moved aside, neither wanting to be squashed under the big body. Harry yelped and quickly pulled his hand to him as he touched the grass, it was wet and cold, and it only added to his list of reason of why he should stay on the warm and dry blanket.
But Fenrir seemed to have already fallen asleep and he was warm. The heat he emitted seemed so much better than what the blanket was able to produce and Harry started to move closer. If Fenrir was going to hook up the space, he should be prepared to share some of his body heat.
Teddy whined, making Harry freeze at where he had been about to make himself comfortable at the werewolf's side. As soon as he knew, he had his godfather's attention; Teddy held his head down between his front paws while his whole bottom moved in sync with his wigging tail. It was a cute image, and Harry did not know if anyone would be able to deny the child anything when faced with something like this. Forget about Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Teddy could conquer the whole world before he was six and there would be no causalities.
With a groan Harry stood and stretched. "Who's up for a game of tag?" Already as he spoke, Teddy was running, showing that he would not be it.
It was probably not healthy how easily he gave in to his godson's whims, especially since he did not want to create a second Dudley. Harry grinned as he set after Teddy, leaving the two others behind on the blanket, as Severus was set on ignoring him, and Fenrir was either asleep or doing a very good job at faking it. He did not know how long those peaceful times would last, it was better to simply enjoy the moment while they had the chance to do so.
Harry had found himself a relatively quiet corner of the Leaky Cauldron. He cast a Tempus again to check the time. Gwyn was late; it was close to fifteen minutes now since he arrived here. He had expected her to be here already, since his family had decided to put up a fuss about him leaving. And thus he had been late for ten minutes himself.
He had started considering sending his Patronus after her to hear if something had happened, when Gwyn appeared with the last gaggle of people arriving through the Muggle entrance. Gwyn seemed breathless and slightly panicked, her eyes flickering from person to person. Not wanting to get her more worked up than she already was, Harry stood with a wave, catching Gwyn's attention. Immediately she relaxed and returned his smile. She stepped forward, her foot getting caught in a chair that was pushed backwards as Gwyn moved.
Harry ducked his head with a wince when she fell and her shriek of surprise could be heard across the room.
It had Harry stifling a chuckle, because stumbling and fellow seemed to be a pattern when they were together.
"Laugh it up," Gwyn grumbled as Harry came closer, though she looked no worse for wear as she go up and dusted herself off. The chair's occupant had left quickly, not bothering to apologise, and perhaps also fearing Gwyn's wrath if they stayed behind.
"Sorry, but at least you weren't hurt." Harry said as he looked her over, wanting to be sure that she was fine after the fall. Satisfied with finding none, Harry's gaze returned to her face.
Gwyn huffed and crossed her arms. "As if something as small as a fall would harm me." The mirth in her eyes belied her offended tone, and Harry slipped into the spot next to her. They kept their distance to each other, both aware of the temperature difference between them, but close enough so they could still enjoy each other's presence.
"So, where to my fair lady?" Harry asked, and ducked the slap aimed at the back of his head.
"Oh, I know just the place. Do you carry Muggle currency?"
Mayhap he should be worried, or at least have set some limits for what kind of place they could dine. But Gwyn was not dressed to go anywhere expensive. So nodding, Harry patted his pocket. It had proved to be a damn useful habit when he hadn't dared to step inside the Magical world with Teddy. "Of course, if you'll lead the way, I will pay with a smile."
Gwyn swatted the offended arm with a laugh and a roll of her eyes. "As if you can't afford it. Rumours have it, that you have come into money." Before they left the Leaky Cauldron, both cast illusion charms. Neither wanted the attention their magical wardrobe would attract.
"So, what did you mean that you've heard rumours?" Harry asked as they turned away from the more populated part of London's streets. There was a war brewing, and yet people were more interested in gossiping about their neighbours. But gossip meant information, and Gwyn seemed more than happy to bring him up to date as they walked.
"You know how it is; people imitate the Purebloods' style. And both Lady Potter and several of the Blacks have been spotted with new jewellery. Since you don't overprice them, common people buy your products too. And you are not the type to spent money needlessly; those poor coins are probably just collecting dust in a dark vault."
"Are you sure, you aren't a spy sent by the Ministry to keep an eye on me?" Harry asked, half expecting her to say yes. It was either that or she was a reporter, and she certainly didn't give of the same vibes as Skeeter had.
Amused, Gwyn wiggled her fingers at him. "Yes, because the Ministry spends its sources to get lawyers to spy on shop owners. I can totally see that happening." Both laughed at the joke as Gwyn gestured towards what appeared to be their destination.
It was a small cafe well hidden away from the buy streets. Some of the letters were missing from the sign above the door. Or it might just be Russian, but other than a few butchered words Krum had managed to teach him, Harry knew that it was a language with way too many consonants and not enough vowels.
The inside was in a better state than the facade. There were enough people to make him confident that it wasn't a shitty place Gwyn had dragged him into, but not enough to make it feel crowded. Small lamps hung on the walls, lighten the round room up in a cosy way, leaving plenty of shadows to sink into.
Laughing and nudging to each other, Harry followed Gwyn when she took by the bar. Personally, he had no intention of getting drunk, he wasn't even sure he could be it anymore. His body burned away the alcohol the same way it seemed to render painkillers useless. And he had a feeling that fire and alcohol was a very bad mixture.
"You have to try their steak, it's absolutely delicious."
Running over the menu he had found Harry ended nodding to her suggestion. Since Gwyn knew this place, he would trust her not to let him end up with food poisoning.
After giving their orders to the man behind at the bar, Harry twisted around in his chair so he was facing Gwyn. "Any other rumours I should be aware of?"
"Just people wondering where you popped up from." Gwyn tapped a finger against her lips with a mischievous smile. "My personal favourite is the one where you are being sent by a secret organisation to take down the British government."
"My dear, now that you have seen through my mask, I am afraid I have to kill you." Harry managed to keep his expression serious before he added. "Do people seriously believe in stuff like that?" Granted, he knew that the Wizarding word's population seemed to forget all about logic when they got a wand in the hand, but he was starting to worry about them.
Gwyn shook her head as gravely as she could with tears of mirth gathering in her eyes. "Not really, but there is a poll running in the office. And once the truth is discovered, and backed up by some heavy evidence, someone is going to be a very rich bastard."
"Even you?" Harry asked as their food arrived. He was honestly curious; Gwyn did not strike him as the betting type.
With a huff she swallowed the first bite of her own steak. The gusto she attacked the food with convinced Harry that she had been right about the quality of the dish. "Both of my parents were happily married long before I was even a glint in my father's eyes. But if you should decide to prove that you are the reincarnation of, let us say, Salazar Slytherin, I can sure that a part of the winnings would magically find their way to your pockets."
Harry wondered if it was possible for his jaw to hit the floor. With an offended huff he pierced a potato with his fork. "I am a Gryffindor, through and though." Through the Sorting Hat had wanted to place in the house of snake. But the less lines that were drawn in comparison between him and Voldemort, no matter how indirectly it might happen, the better. Harry had had enough of that as a student.
The rest of their meal went with banter and jokes. It allowed Harry to unwind in a way he could truly not recall when he had last been allowed to. It made it easier to push aside the things nagging him, such as Severus' continual ignoring him. Hopefully, it was just a passing phase he had to go through, just like when Fenrir had joined the family. Though, whether the Flamels were actually a part of the family could still be optional. Harry was more than willing to include Penny, and he guessed that the duo was a package deal.
And if Flamel decided to be troublesome, Harry could surely convince Penny that it would do him good to look after Teddy for a few hours. Especially if his rascal of a godson had been fed sugar before he was dropped off.
A jab between the ribs drew Harry's attention back to the current company. Seeing her raised eyebrow, Harry rubbed the back of his neck ruefully. "Sorry, I thought of some jewellery I wanted to make." Mainly those he intended to protect his family with. He was feeling inclined towards bracelets, or perhaps some rings.
Resting her chin on her hand, Gwyn looked at him pointedly, making Harry shift slightly. "By the way Harry, are you homosexual?"
Before Harry could form a coherent protest, Gwyn hurried on. "It's just that you talk about jewellery in a way I know most men would not without fearing for their masculinity. And I haven't seen you give women more than a passing glance, even at the ball where some of those dresses were rather revealing."
Recalling the eyeful he had nearly gotten because of Gwyn's own dress, Harry fought down a blush. If the other dresses had been worse, Harry was happy that he had not noticed them. As it was, he had been a little too occupied with Voldemort to pay attention to that.
And in no way or form did it prove that any truth about Gwyn's statement. No, anyone who knew they were in the same room as the Dark Lord would be taking notice of the nearest exits and not whatever people had chosen to wear. "I've been happily married to a woman," he put empathise on the word, hoping to put the ideas out of Gwyn's head right away. "It hasn't been long since she died, and frankly, I don't think I can find someone like her." Besides, he had. Gwyn looked and sometimes acted so much like Ginny that he sometimes forgot whom he was spending his time with.
It was troublesome, especially because there had been no secrets between him and Ginny. A careless slip of the tongue could easily cost them the life they were here.
Though, looking unconvinced Gwyn did not attempt to argue her case further. She eyed the ring in his necklace before moving on to a new subject. "So, which Quiddith team to you follow?"
So much like Ginny that it almost hurt him physical and yet Harry would keep their friendship because he enjoyed her company.
He should have expected this to happen sooner, especially after the whole kidnapping affair. Still, with the cold shoulder Severus had been giving him lately, Harry had thought that the teen wouldn't get around asking until Christmas.
"Are you sure?"
Just looking at Severus gave Harry the answer he needed, but he wanted to hear it from Severus. How someone could seem so secure and confident in themselves while dressed in night clothes and with sleep mused hair was a wonder, yet Severus seemed to have it down to an art. "I would not be asking, if that was not the case."
"In that case, we better get started." Harry jumped up from his seat. Severus' request should at least occupy him enough to not allow him to think about his latest nightmare. Though he would have done it anyway even without the need for a distraction.
Severus stared at him with a slightly ridiculous look in his eyes. "Now?"
"There is no time like the present. I doubt that either of us are going back to sleep anyway, so we might as well make use of the time." He grabbed Severus' hand and pulled him along out of the house. No sense in waking the rest because they would end up making some noise and outside they could freely practice without worrying too much about destroying something.
With a grumble Severus gave in and followed along, making a grin appear on Harry's face. His body was drumming at the prospect of doing something and he knew that even if Severus changed his mind and went to bed, Harry would not be able to sleep more for tonight.
He had reached the conclusion upon waking abruptly with a scream clogging his throat.
As soon as they were in the backyard, Harry let go of Severus and turned around to face him. Heat was reaching out in every inch of his body to combat the low night temperature. Severus seemed completely unbothered, finding the charms on his outdoor robe sufficient to keep him comfortable.
Relaxing his limbs Harry jumped from one foot to another. "So, why do you want to know how to fight the Muggle way? Most wizards are satisfied with spells to defend themselves."
"Should you not have asked that before agreeing to teach me?"
Harry shrugged. Technically, he had agreed to nothing, and if Severus had a shitty excuse for wanting to learn this, he would let the teen stew until he could come up with something that was good enough.
Perhaps sensing this Severus took a moment to mull over his argument before he answered. "We are not able to always use magic. When Teddy and I were taken, I didn't have a chance to do anything before my wand was taken away. I know that it would not make much of a difference; werewolves are considerably stronger than us. But I refuse to be helpless in such a situation again and learning how to fight as a Muggle will give me something to work with. And logically, witches and wizards should not expect such a response should they attempt an attack."
A perfect answer, logically and with a touch of a personal reason. And it was a typical way for Severus to speak, he might not even be aware of how manipulative he was speaking. Then again, this was Severus, every word he used was probably carefully weighted before chosen for maximum effect.
Still, Severus seemed to believe the words and that was what Harry needed.
Rocking on his feet Harry flexed his fingers. The heat running through his body helped getting his muscles ready faster than any amount of stretching was able to, a big plus of the strange mixture he was made of.
How was it, the instructor Hermione had made him and Ron train under when they had started the Auror training had put it? "Combat is no game and should not be treated as such. Given enough time and training, your body turns into a weapon. And like any other weapon, it must be respected, or you might end up killing someone." Of course, they had been forced to sit through a longer spiel, but Harry figured that Severus would understand without having to listen to the whole thing.
"Someone else told you that." Severus said, and though it was not a question, Harry still felt compelled to explain.
"Yes, one of my friends wrote me and her husband up for a few defence lessons with a Muggle. She said that if we wanted to go head first into danger, she would make sure that we at least had a chance of returning. And there has been plenty of time I have gotten out of a troublesome situation by using some of the tricks I learned there." Oh the looks on the faces of those he had been helping arresting, when they learned that they had been taken out by something as inferior as Muggle fighting.
"Magic is good for long range attack, but if you come close enough, it would be an advantage to have something like this up in the sleeve." Suddenly Harry got the feeling that they were no longer talking about would be kidnappers and Death Eaters. Severus' strife with the Marauders was not to be forgotten. That was a disaster waiting to happen if he had ever seen one.
Suddenly serious Harry stopped moving on the spot. Severus stood still as well. "If I ever find that you have been misusing what I teach you, I'll be very disappointed in you, Severus." Unaware if that would be enough, Harry mentally shrugged. He had a feeling that trying to warn Severus further off would only encourage the teen to go behind his back. Hopefully, Severus was mature enough not to turn this against his school enemies, unless it became necessary.
It encouraged him to figure out how to make something to alert him when a family member was in danger. But before Severus could start misusing the fighting, he needed to learn it first.
Bringing his hands together, Harry barely managed to keep still. From the way Severus moved slightly away from him every time he got a little closer, the teen wanted to keep his distance in case Harry decided to clomp him.
It was a rather appealing idea, but Harry would wait until the youth did not expect it. That way he might actually get through with it.
Harry mulled over the best way to get around this. He was not a certified teacher, though with Hermione and Ron, he had managed to run the D.A. Surely this could be so different, and now he only had one student to worry about, Harry almost felt sorry for Severus.
"First thing we need to work on, is your stamina." Harry decided. "It's useless to teach you any moves if you don't have the endurance to use them when it's necessary. So start running laps around the garden." The back yard was not exactly big, but it sloped, and it should prove a challenge when Severus had completed the first few laps.
"And you are just going to stand here meanwhile?"
Harry was unable to keep his face neutral as he raised his arm, flames already dancing around his fist. "No, I will be providing you motivation. It's quite amazing what the body is able to do when pressed. We're going to find out what your limits are and then we will break them." When Severus did not move, Harry flickered a finger and sent a miniature fireball at his feet. It wasn't close to hitting Severus, but it certainly served its purpose by sending the teen scrambling off.
Limiting the fire so there was one small flame on each of his finger tips; Harry followed Severus with his eyes. He personally was no master of material arts, most of the time it was easier using his flames or simply latch out than actually use any of the moves he had been taught. But Harry would make damn sure that when Severus left for Hogwarts in little under a month, he would be able to defend himself moderately.
Severus' skin was slick with sweat when the teen collapsed, sucking in deep breaths to fill his lungs with air, and not looking like he had any intention of moving anytime soon. Much livelier Harry plopped down next to the teen and rested his chin on bend knees, ignoring the glare that might also be a plea not to put the youngster through such a session again. Admittedly, it was a little harsh start, but Harry was working with a time limit. And Severus had stopped ignoring him. "So, gonna tell me why you have been so sullen lately?"
Pushing himself up in a seated position, Severus' hair fell like a curtain over his face. He was silent for so long that the former Auror feared that he might have gone back to ignoring him. "You have children to take care of, but I am returning to Hogwarts, and Teddy is so young that it will probably not matter to him. You are a Lord and the owner of what seems to become a successful business, and it is not like you are old or ugly." Severus listed of, staring off in between the trees surrounding their home.
"Are you going somewhere with this?" Harry asked when Severus did not seem inclined to continue. He wouldn't bring these things up unless they were related to what bothered Severus.
Pushing some hair behind an ear, Severus glared briefly at him without facing Harry fully. As if he expected Harry to pick up the meaning of what he had just talked about. "I just wanted to make it clear, that should you chose to marry someone, I will respect that. After all, no one should spend their life alone, and if you find Storm attractive I-"
"Have you lost your bloody marbles?" Harry broke in with a laughter. When Severus did not answer, Harry sobered up and cleared his throat, realising that Severus had actually been serious. Well, this was kind of awkward. "Gwyn is, ah, a friend. Besides, she reminds me too much of Ginny. It wouldn't be right, as if I would be trying to replace Ginny with her double. Completely wrong." Ginny couldn't be replaced, not by someone who was so much like his wife, and not by the one who would be born in a couple of years. Not only would there be an age difference, but she would not be his Ginny. She would have other experiences, the connection that had been between them wouldn't be there.
As much as it hurt, this Ginny would never be his Ginny.
"Besides, I have you guys." Harry slung his arm around Severus' shoulder, happy that the teen did not protest when he pulled him close. "Bros before hoes, and all that."
"Sometimes, I wonder where you picked up such despicable language."
Ignoring what sounded like an attempt to learn more about his past, and there was no need for Severus to learn of Dudley and the other Dursleys, Harry stood and offered a hand to Severus. The others should be up soon, frankly he was surprised that Teddy hadn't already come looking for them. His godson had an outstanding ability to track him down, especially when the boy was hungry.
Combing the woods was a bothersome task, and she still could not believe that she had been stuck with such a menial task. Then again, she was the one with most time on her hands, and her abilities were the best to handle the fire Elemental, should he prove to be uncooperative when they finally encountered him.
The cur hadn't been much of a help, even when she had brought it to her brother to extract information. Other than learning than he had a pack, family, whatever it was, the mutt had been too terrified and she had lost her temper and turned the cur into a Popsicle. She was still sure that the werewolf had been more useful like that. After all, sneaking him in and leaving it at the ball might have heightened the chance of their fellow kind to reach out for them. Instead of them having to hunt him down.
The thought of that happening made her giddy enough to jump and kick her heels together. Her brother and her were powerful, they had been told so for their wholes lives. If a third joined their party, one who hadn't been poisoned against brother's ideas, they would be unstoppable.
The others would not have a chance to stand against them, she was sure of that.
Severus mulled over it. Harry would probably not be happy that Teddy had added another insult to his vocabulary. But it had been a correct answer, so he would let it pass, correcting the boy would only confuse him.
"F." He continued, going back to the Daily Prophet. You-Know-Who had been quiet lately, and it unnerved Severus. Before leaving Hogwarts because of his mother's death, there had been a chain of raids happening. But a little more than a month had happened, and there had only been a few, spread attacks, with no real purpose.
It was abnormal and he did not like it.
"Uncle Fen!" Teddy clapped his hands with a squeal, nearly bouncing out of his chair before Severus grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back into a proper position. People were already staring enough as it was, thanks to Teddy's habit to raise his voice at seemingly random times.
Severus glared at the nearest ones, satisfied that a few picked up speed when they passed, before returning to the newspaper. Despite Teddy's antics, they were not a freak show for people to gawk at.
"This looks cosy." The cooing interrupted Severus' reading and he levelled the older witch with the same glare as the crowd had gotten. Bellatrix seemed completely unaffected as she planted herself in the last free chair at their table. This early, there was not many customers at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, so there were plenty of other tables for her to sit at. "So, why are the two of you hanging out here?" She smiled at Teddy, perhaps knowing that Severus was too wary to feel inclined to answer her.
"Sev is teaching me lettews!" Proclaimed Teddy proudly, though Severus was unsure if he had avoided answering the question on purpose.
Bellatrix leaned forward; black, wild curls followed her movements. "Oh, nice evade, kiddo. A little rough, but you're young so I guess that there is hope for you yet."
"Black, you do not teach him anything." If anyone was teaching Teddy how to survive, it would be him, and he did not need assistance for it.
She waved a hand at him, as if expecting Severus to leave simply because she wanted him to do so. "Party-pooper, I bet he's doing something thrilling, like trying to be the first to fly to the moon on a broom, or he is using a bubblehead charm to walk the bottom of the oceans to locate the exact position of Atlantis."
"Actually," Severus broke in before she could come up with more outrageous ideas. Teddy looked excited and would be hard to calm down even after he had gotten Bellatrix to leave, "the one usually manning the shop called in sick, so Harry had to take over for him for today." Fenrir had conveniently remembered that he had something to do elsewhere and had snuck of, leaving Severus stuck with babysitting duties.
Looking disappointed that her fantasies had suffered a quick and ruthless death, Bellatrix turned back to Teddy. Considering how rarely she was around young and impressionable children, Severus could understand her fascination. And he silently vowed not to leave those two together without supervision. Merlin forbid; that they would find inspiration in each other. "So Sev, from what I heard, you teach pretty well. Ever thought about making a career out of it?"
"What? You didn't even think about it." Bellatrix stuck her bottom lip out in a manner she managed to make look sweet. Compared to the pouts Teddy could pull off, Severus felt less inclined to be moved by her expression.
"Should I ever become deranged enough to teach children, it would either be Potions or Defence Against the Dark Arts, should the former not be available. Neither the students nor I would last a week."
Crackling, Bellatrix shock her head. "I think you're too generous. After seeing those who comes to you for help with homework, I say that you would send them running for the hills before the first lesson is over."
Closing his papers, since Bellatrix seemed intend to stay and Severus did have manner, the teen nodded towards Teddy. "We have been at this since the shops opened, and yet he is still here." Of course, it might have something to do with the sweets Severus kept at hand. And as long as Teddy was occupied, he was less likely to start trouble.
"I say that anyone can do it. It is just letters, how hard can it be?"
Even as he felt how bad an idea it would turn out to be, Severus opened his newspaper and continued scanning the articles, reading those few that caught his interest. "You seem to already know how this is done, so by all means, be my guest." Hopefully, she would not destroy the process he and Teddy had made this far.
"How about N?"
Bellatrix glanced over at him, and Severus nodded to show his acceptance of the answer. The mere fact that Teddy included a Potions ingredient proved that the boy at least listened a little when he tried to teach him about Potions. "O."
The papers between his hands crinkled as Severus' hands fisted at the answer. Even Bellatrix seemed surprised, though if it was because Teddy had gone out of his category, or because of the answer itself, was unknown. She was quick to draw her surprise in. "Oh, and do you know what sex is?" She asked and Severus was ready to strangle her on the spot. If Harry got to hear about this, and Severus knew that he would, he would not be happy. Yet, he was curious as well to hear how one so young might view sexual intercourse. It should be interesting, if nothing else.
Teddy nodded gravely, happy that he had both of the teens' full attention. "No one wanted to tell me, so I asked 'Mione, she's weally smawt and knows lots and lots of stuff. She said that's the diffewence between a boy and a giwl. And I'm not allowed to see it befowe I'm done with school, but that'll take ages." Teddy complained.
Bellatrix lost control of herself at Teddy's disappointment, laughing loudly as Severus felt his own lips twist in amusement. Clearly, this Mione had managed to satisfy the child's curiosity while completely avoiding giving an actual answer. Did Harry know that it was a matter he would have to deal with on his own? As long as he did not get drawn into the explanation, he would love there to be there when it happened.
Bellatrix reached out and ruffled Teddy's hair. The boy laughed and pushed her hand away, his hair remaining black and like Harry's own mess. It would seem he was gaining more control over his abilities. He should check up on it when he got back to Hogwarts, or perhaps Mr Flamel had something that could give him an answer. "What brings you to our table?" He asked. If he had been sitting here last summer, she would have walked right past without a look in his direction.
"Uncle Orion is out looking for an anniversary gift for Aunt Walburga, and brought me along because he has no insight in a woman's taste. I ditched him, when he made it clear that he found none of my suggestions acceptable. 'Fifty ways to make your husband a hen-pecked husband' was a good suggestion, even if my aunt doesn't really need it." And Severus could easily imagine that it had been one of her more harmless suggestions.
"Hawwy makes pwetty things." Teddy piped up. Snatching some pieces of the colourful wrapped sweets Severus had placed on the table to keep him from wandering of.
"I know; Cissa loves her own necklace so much that she won't let me have a close look at it."
Recalling the hexes flying in the common room because Bellatrix had decided to test a new spell on her sister's belongings, Severus understood why Narcissa was acting so. "And thus you have decided to bother us."
"More like bestowing you with my brilliant presence." Corrected Bellatrix as she played with some of her curls. In Severus' opinion, she might as well just have said yes."Anyway, you can't just let him answer with meat and Potions related words, the little one gotta learn a few spells if he wants to become something in life.
"Anyone can wave a wand and make something happen. It takes skills and great concentration to brew a proper potion, and I seem to recall that Potions were one of the subjects you were close to falling in." Severus challenged. It was no secret that Bellatrix found it hard to pay attention unless some kind of action was involved. It only added to Severus' bewilderment to why she had joined them.
Bellatrix's grin was completely unrepentant. "Spells are much more fun. Who wants to read dusty old tomes when there are spells that can turn your opponent inside out and make their bowlers strangle them?"
Severus scrunched his nose in slight disgust at the picture she was painting but otherwise he remained unaffected. "A potion would achieve the same result and with less of a risk of the intended victim seeing it coming. And plenty of useful potions were created by our ancestors, they make up for the time spent researching those books." Unfortunately, the Ministry had banned many of those books on the basic of the dangerous knowledge they were supposed to contain. However, as a Potions master he would have plenty of possibility to look closer at them and what was written in them.
And as long as he kept it to his private storage, no one would know if those forbidden potions were remade and tempered with. It would be such a waste not to see if he had the ability to improve the real masters' work, though Severus knew it would be a long time before he reached that level of skills.
"Potions can go boom." Teddy's excited participation of the conversation reminded the two Slytherins of the child's presence. Severus sent Bellatrix a smug look. Despite Teddy having no real concept of the many possibilities of potions making, the boy was supporting Severus' claim.
Bellatrix pursed her lips before shaking her head. "There is so much for you to learn, be grateful that I am here to correct the mistake of your assumption. After today, little Teddy, I promise that you'll see that a good hex will get you further than a potion ever will."
Over Teddy's protests at being called little, Severus glared at Bellatrix. His little brother would learn the ways of a Potions maker, and it would be over Bellatrix's dead body before that changed.
Meeting his glare from across the table, Bellatrix silently grinned, showing off her white teeth. She had no intention of letting the younger Slytherin win the challenge he had just issued.
She had been bored out of her mind when following her uncle and one of his friends for this trip. Now it would seem she managed to find her entertainment.
He watched them from the moment they entered the shop, all thoughts of his boredom blown from his mind. The moment they had walked in over the doorstep, Harry had stopped his hand from going for his wand. Voldemort was watching him, and no doubt he would react if Harry drew his wand on the pair.
Besides, he had promised himself to stay out of the war for the most part. He had a family to care for, and no prophecy that controlled his future. Really, there was no reason for him to kill Voldemort again.
Settling back in the chair he had dragged with him behind the counter, Harry was fully prepared to enjoy the sunny spot he was seated in. A hiss lured in the back of his throat when Voldemort parted from his companion when the other man was suitable distracted by one of the showcases. Harry wasn't worried about the Black; the man had enough money to not need to steal. Besides, the goblins had spelled it so only Jeffrey and him could get into them without consequences. It was a safety measure he had had installed after Fenrir's visit.
Having his source of warmth cut off had Harry snapping his eyes fully open. Voldemort stood close, only the glass counter separated them, angling himself so he blocked the sun, and instantly Harry had felt the lack. "What do you want?"
"Should you not show some manners, otherwise I cannot imagine people buying your products."
"Funny thing is that this stuff sells well." Probably because Jeffrey normally stood behind the counter and contrary to Harry, he enjoyed this. "Besides, I don't see you buying anything, so technically, you aren't a customer." Arguing with Voldemort was dangerous, but definitely more fun than watching people browse the shop before they decided on something or simply left. Harry had never claimed to be wise about his life choices.
Both were keeping their voices low as they spoke, though Harry wasn't sure why they did it. As a Death Eater, Orion Black was most likely aware of the identity of the man he was escorting. Yet he looked completely comfortable as he wandered slowly around. Either he had been dropped on the head as a baby, or it was the famous Black madness playing in. The man had married his own cousin after all.
"Then I will purchase that one."
One long, pale finger pointed at one of the rings displayed in the counter. It was a silver ring with a green gem as its only decoration. Either Voldemort was playing with him, or Harry had incidentally changed something he hadn't meant to. "You do know it's meant for marriage, right?" Harry asked as he caressed the glass and it allowed his hand to slip through and withdraw the desired jewellery.
Voldemort accepted the ring and held it up for closer inspection. "What is marriage, but a way of binding someone to you? Then again, there are several simpler and easier ways to achieve a better result."
Harry truly pitied whoever had managed to catch Voldemort's attention, and perhaps also cheer for the person. As long as they kept Voldemort's focus on them, it meant he wouldn't have time to bother Harry, or anyone else for that matter.
Harry hesitated at the first tremors, weak but still quite noticeable. Earthquakes weren't exactly common in Britain, at least not a natural. One of magical nature was a whole other matter.
The whole shop seemed to lurch, and Harry had no time to check the two others as he grabbed onto the counter and squatted down. Some of the cases he kept behind for when jewellery was purchased started to fall, and Harry brought an arm up to protect his head. The injuries might heal, but they would hurt as hell until they did.
The shakings stopped as abruptly as they had started. Lowering his arm slowly, Harry waited for more shakes, hadn't Hermione said something about after shakes in case of ever experiencing an earthquake? He wasn't sure how they had gotten in on that subject, but since it was Hermione, books had definitely been involved.
Shaking his head as he stood, Harry quickly took stock of the situation. The shakings had knocked over the showcases and the jewellery on the shelves laid spread across the floor. The shop's two other occupants looked no worse for wear, both having raised shields when the first things started to fall. A shame that Voldemort hadn't been hit by any of it in his head; it would have been an easy way to take care of the man.
But neither of those two were what mattered to Harry. Teddy and Severus were out there because he had trusted them to be safe in Diagon Alley, and Harry was confident that the shop hadn't been the only one affected by the shakes. And there was a nagging feeling, one that had saved his life on more than one occasion, which told Harry this wasn't over.
Vaulting over the counter and narrowly missing hitting Voldemort's shield, Harry had no desire to test firsthand what kind of curses Voldemort might have tied to his defence, he sped towards the door. Those two seemed well enough to be able to deal on their own.
Outside seemed so much worse, if only because people were running around like headless chicken, panicking. Quickly Harry stepped back to avoid being trampled down by a group of elderly witches, their purses swinging dangerously close to his head.
Where were his boys? Harry was unable to spot them through the billowing smoke, was there a fire somewhere and why wasn't anyone putting it out? But people were either busy trying to get away, or add to the already existing panic. Hopefully, his boys were sensible enough to find somewhere they were less exposed.
Seeing an opportunity, Harry grabbed a bypassing man, nearly getting his arm dislocated before the man was forced to halt. Harry ducked under the punch aimed for his head and used the other's unbalance to press him up again the wall, wrenching his arm a little more than necessary to get the man to keep still. "What is going on?!" Harry had to yell to be heard through the noise around them.
"The ground just opened, right in front of Gringotts! It's You-Know-Who's who is attacking! Get away while you can, lad!"
Realising that he would be getting nothing more of the man, Harry let go of him and stepped aside, watching him join the people running for the Leaky Cauldron. Considering that Voldemort was inside his shop, Harry doubted that he was behind this, though he wouldn't write it off just yet. It might be some twisted plot of his.
Stupid Dark Lords and the stupid possible plans that caused chaos where they weren't wanted.
Whether it was Voldemort, or someone else, really didn't matter, decided Harry as he worked his way against the stream of people. Teddy and Severus might already have gotten to safety, but Harry would start where it was worst and work his way from there. It might also give him an answer to what this hole was.
They had moved on from Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour when Bellatrix had started getting twisty, and Severus had concluded that she would not be distracted though the same means as Teddy. Letting her burn off some surplus energy, and window shopping was the most harmless way he could think of. And since she had rubbed of on Teddy, he killed two birds with one stone this way.
Severus was walking behind the energetic duo, and it was easy to believe that they may be related with how alike they acted when he noticed the shakings. It was weak and could easily be written off as nothing. The goblins were constantly expanding underground, and it could be the after effect of whatever spell they used for the digging he was feeling. But he was bothered the same way he felt when he watched someone butcher up their potion, and knew it would blow up on their head soon enough.
Severus was moving when the shakings started anew, this time far more intensive, and people, finally, took notice that something was not right. When the first screams sounded, Severus knew that they were unlikely to get help, or at least have people act logical. Panic spread like a wildfire, and Severus found himself pushed this way and that as people started moving towards the Leaky Cauldron, at least he assumed so, and the exact opposite direction of where he needed to go if he should find Teddy, and Bellatrix if she was smart enough to keep close to the child.
If she had not, finding Teddy in this mess of people would most likely prove to be impossible.
Receiving an elbow to his cheekbone, Severus dug forth his wand. Technically, he was not supposed to use it outside of school, it could lead to expulsion and having his wand snapped, even if he was in the middle of Diagon Alley and without a Muggle nearby.
And as Gryffindorish as it made him sound, and Severus knew he would regret thinking like that later, he could not find it in himself to care for the possible consequences at the moment.
"Point me Teddy Grey."
Severus' breath got caught in his throat when the wand simply lay unmoving in the palm of his hand. Had something happened to the boy in the short time they had been separated? Teddy was a small child, it would be easy for him to fall and if he first went down, well those people were not looking and Severus had the bruises to prove it.
Before he could use the spell again, there might be something wrong with it, there had to be, slender fingers wrapped around his arm, nearly making Severus lose his wand and his balance as it yanked. He staggered, but managed to stay on his feet as he bounced against a wall.
Bellatrix was the one who had dragged him off to the side of the street, there were less people there and thus less of a risk of getting run down, and she was holding a panicked, black haired Teddy. Relief welled up inside him as he accepted Teddy from her without a word, in this noise he would not have heard anything she said anyway. Severus saved himself the hassle. And he decided not to think too much of the way her eyes seemed to shine as she observed the chaos spread around them.
Another shake, far more powerful than the previous ones put together, made them hang onto each other and the wall behind them in an attempt to keep standing.
Severus pressed Teddy's face against his shoulder, not wanting him to see how people disappeared right out of the blue. He could do nothing about the sound of their scream, and Severus knew that they would be haunting them both. Bellatrix, on the other hand, would probably find this as exciting as she seemed to do right now.
"Protego!" A blue dome formed around them, and Bellatrix's hastily thrown spell was what saved them from being buried when a part of the roof above them gave in and fell. The roof tiles hit the protective shield and shattered, the force sent pieces flying, and Severus was sure that several were hit by those. However, if they could not use the means to keep themselves protected in a situation like this, any wounds they received was deserved.
She was grinning as she waved a finger at him; probably reprimanding him for not paying attention like a proper Slytherin, and it was all Severus could do not to roll his eyes at her. He supposed he wouldn't hear the end of this for years.
Just as abruptly as it had started, the earthquake seemed to stop without warning. Not knowing if more shaking would come, they kept their positions between the two stands, waiting to see what would happen now.
As it seemed to thin out in people, Severus was able to get a better view of the street, and he rather wished that he had not. A hole, big enough to fit the shop inside it and still have some space left, had opened right in front of the steps to Gringotts. It seemed that those people had not found a way around the wards hindering one in Apparating to and from Diagon Alley. They had simply not been able to move fast enough when the ground had opened beneath their feet.
"You think it's over?" Bellatrix asked, breaking the silence that dominated now that most people had left the site. He could still hear their voices, and if he turned his head, he would surely seem them further down the alley.
It would be wisest to follow their example, without the panic though. They should locate Harry and find out what to do from there. No doubt, that his guardian had felt the shakings, they were rather hard to miss. And knowing Harry, he was working himself into a fit of worry over them.
But even in the magical world, holes did not appear without a reason. If they hung around a little longer, he might be able to find out the source of it.
Severus was unaware that he had been moving until Bellatrix's fingers once again closed around his upper arm and halted him in his tracks. Something was wrong when Bellatrix Black started to act like the voice of reason. "Do you know the cause behind this?" He ran a hand up and down Teddy's back, hoping to soothe the distressed child.
"Uncle would not have let me out of his sight if he had known this would happen." Since Bellatrix had made no attempt to hide the closeness between the Dark Lord and her family, Severus supposed he could place them man low on his list of suspects. And since it had been the only name on his mental list, Severus was at a loss of who was behind this.
Contrary to what Severus had believed, not all had fled. Now that the danger seemed to have passed, people started drifting out of the shops and the hiding places they had sought safety inside of at the first sign of danger. Some of them hurried of to wherever the others had disappeared off to. More slowly neared the hole, probably as curious as Severus felt. Some of them might be driven by a wish to help those who had fallen.
A cold wind swept through skin and bone, and Severus was unsure if it was caused by the ice coating the hole's walls, or the tall, thin figures dressed in ragged, black robes which emerged from it.
They were frozen in place as those nearest to the hole were grabbed by bony looking hands and the newcomers leaned down, from a certain angle it actually looked like they were being kissed.
And in a sense, Severus supposed it was exactly what was happening.
"Dementors," Bellatrix whispered, as if afraid to draw attention to them, but just as unable as Severus to look away from what was happening right in front of them. He pressed Teddy's face against him, refusing to let the boy see what was going on. With how stiffly Teddy held himself, it seemed unlikely he would attempt to sneak a look.
The Kiss was quickly finished, and so different from the book they had used when going over the guards of Azkaban in Defence Against the Dark Arts. The victims struggled when they were grabbed, only to freeze up when they came face to face with the Dememtors. And the way they sunk together afterwards, it was almost like the control over their bodies had been sucked out along with their souls.
"We've to go," Bellatrix whispered, clamping her mouth shut as one of the Dementors swept by dangerously close to their hiding spot.
"Where?" asked Severus. Though no more Dementors were spilling out of the hole, they were all over the street, a good twenty examples. They were catching those who had been too stupid to run while they had the chance. Unfortunately, they seemed to be included in the category. If they stayed, one of the Dementors searching would find them, but running seemed just as likely to end with them getting the soul sucked out.
Choices and Severus was not sure which, if either, was the correct one.
He might have taken too long to decide, or Bellatrix was more impatient than he had taken her for. When the last Dementor had passed, much closer than the previous ones had, the witch shot out of the hiding place between two stands, letting the Protego fall.
She ran, jumped, twisted and dodged to avoid these Dementors that reached out for her, and for a moment, Severus regretted not following after her, because it seemed like she actually had a chance of getting out of this.
But then something happened after her last jump, perhaps Bellatrix twisted her foot upon landing, sending her flailing into one of the very being she had been trying to avoid.
From where he stood, Severus could see that fear had finally registered on her brain, though she was too stubborn to freeze like the previous victims had, and was working her hardest to get free. Even if its hands seemed to be made of nothing but bones and skin, the creature did not relent its grip.
They would be found if they stayed where they were, even before he made the conclusion, Severus was already on the move. But, instead of heading for the small clearway created as the Dementors circled the witch, Severus found his feet carrying him towards where Bellatrix stood, flailing around as if her life depended on it.
Not getting caught was much like avoiding the fireballs Harry threw at him, so Severus supposed that some good had come out of those training sessions. However, if he got caught now, singed hair and clothes would not be the consequences of his mistake.
So Severus kept moving, not towards the opening he had first spotted. It was already gone, and a small part of him wondered whether it had been a trap, though the Dementors were not supposed to be that intelligent. Instead, he headed for Bellatrix, wand held ready as he tried to recall what spell he needed to use when fighting off a Dementor, not to speak of the flock they had found themselves right in.
Happy memories were a part of the process, but Severus could not recall more than that, the Dementors' presence and Teddy's weight in his arm was preventing him from thinking clearly. Why had they not attacked? Though honestly curious, Severus couldn't focus on the thought. He vowed to get back on it should they survive this intact. It was just to his advantage because whatever caused this meant that the Dementor was slow in getting her soul sucked out. Or it was trying to heighten her fear to the maximal.
Whatever the reason was, it gave Severus the time he needed to reach her. He collided with Bellatrix, using the momentum to get her away from the Dementor and showed Teddy into her arms, ignoring the boy's panicked cries. She fumbled a little, clearly still strongly affected by the Dementors.
In spite of having Teddy and Bellatrix in relative safety, seeing as they hadn't been targeted right away, Severus felt no ease. By pushing Bellatrix aside, he had effectively placed himself between them and the Dementor. Severus refused to say that it had been a part of his plan.
He had not had much of a plan in the first place, other than knowing that they couldn't stay where they were. The rest kind of happened on its own.
Fear cold and clammy hand closed around his heart as Severus locked his knees to make sure he did not end kneeling, cold sweat formed on his forehead as he managed to raise his wand.
A happy memory.
Before, he had not had many, most of those were either with his mother or Lily, and right now both of those seemed so far away as the Dementor slowly neared, in no hurry now that its prey had been replaced with another.
But Harry had provided him with plenty of memories, happy ones, and the most prominent being the one where he was taken away from Spinner's End and the man who had tormented him for his whole life. Now he had a family, even though they were insane and it seemed contagious, and he was not about to lose a part of that.
A burst of vapour formed at his wand's tip, and Severus felt like crying when the Dementor only halted a little before continuing its course. Again he tried, only to get the same result, and the Dementor was now so close that they were standing toe to toe. A scabby grey reached out and touched his shoulder lightly. It was nearly enough to make his knees buckle.
Severus managed to lift his hand, not sure when he had allowed it to fall, and adjusted his aim. Thinking of a happy memory seemed impossible when his mother's death and his father's treatment of them both filled his mind.
But he would try one last time.
"Expecto Patronum!" The yell came from somewhere behind him, that much was Severus aware of as a bright, silvery light surrounded him and tore the Dementor away from him. It screeched, making Severus' ears ring painfully though he made no attempt to cover them.
A hand was fisting the back of his robe, perhaps it had been doing so the whole time, he was not sure. Craning his neck, Severus found that the hand belonged to Bellatrix, the witch watching the spell surrounding them while cradling Teddy like Severus had previously done. He found himself following her line of sight. His mind might feel addled after the close encounter with the Dementor, but he was not so far gone that he did not need to know what was going on. Just because the Dementors seemed to have vanished, it was not the same as saying that they were safe.
When his eyes were more adjusted to the light, Severus felt the urge to pinch himself to make sure he was not dreaming. A giant snakelike and translucent being had wrapped itself around them, using all of its fifty feet long body, leaving no opening for anyone to slip in or out. What an odd corporeal Patronus, especially since the snake seemed to have feathers instead of scales. He was quite confident, that no such creature like this existed, but a Patonus was not supposed to be an imaginary thing.
The triangle shaped head turned towards them, and though its eyes were missing, Severus got the feeling that it was actually looking at them. It was enough to make him reach backwards and make Bellatrix let go of his robes, only to take her hand in his. She gave no protest, at least none that Severus heard.
The snake opened its mouth in a silent hiss, allowing Severus a close look at its long, sharp teeth, before it simply disappeared.
"Teddy, Severus!" It was the same voice that had cast the spell, that much was Severus sure of as he was swept into a hug along with Teddy and Bellatrix. The latter only included because she was holding onto Teddy, and Severus had her hand.
Harry seemed to pay it no mind that he was hugging someone who was not a part of their family as he frantically checked them over, tongue slipping out a few times, though Severus was fairly sure he was the only one who took notice of the action.
And now, where the danger seemed to be over, the Aurors showed up in a flurry of red robes and raised wands.
A shame that they were late, Harry's Patronus had forced the Dementors away, and that was the last Severus noticed before he finally allowed his legs to give out under him and closed his eyes as Harry's voice gained a more terrified note.
Yeah, it took some time to write, but damn if it is not a long chapter. I have a final on Friday, and afterwards will be work and summer vacation. But no update on Sunday, because I have to be prepared for my final.
Recommendation: anything by black k kat here on the site. Their stories are brilliant.
Until next time