Lady Black fully bared her fangs at Harry, her long, black hair and chic, expensive attire fluttering in her ire.
Harry attempted to scramble off the bed for his wand, but Severus held him close.
"Show my Cor the proper respect," Severus barked, his powerful Thrall raising the hairs on Harry's body.
Lady Black gasped, her eyes widening. Lowering her head, she curtsied. "I apologize for my rudeness, Master Potter. I'm Lady Vega Black. A pleasure to meet you." Once she finished speaking, her body stiffened, and an inferno of revulsion and hatred returned to her eyes.
Keeping an eye on Lady Black, Severus kissed Harry's lips before he affectionately licked them clean of any residual blood. "It'll take a few more minutes for your blood to replenish completely. Rest while I see to Lady Black."
Severus peered at Lady Black and, with a politeness she didn't deserve, said, "Please meet me in the main sitting area." He then helped Harry lie down, tucking him under the bedclothes.
As Severus left his side, Harry had the urge to pull him back down. He had just discovered Severus was his and hated the idea of Severus leaving him for even a second, especially with such a volatile woman. Not to mention, he should be the one questioning her, not Severus. Until the Auror Department gave him his cards, he still had a job to do.
Feeling stronger, Harry made to get up when Lady Black stormed past again.
"Sanguini's only ever fault during his centuries as Rector was choosing you as his successor," Lady Black hissed, glaring at Severus. "We cannot lay a hand on you unbidden, but you are not invulnerable. You won't always be able to fall back on your Thrall. I can only hope an ill fate finds you soon, my Rector."
She spun in Harry's direction and again curtsied. "Master Potter." Lady Black snarled in disgust before disappearing down the corridor and into the lift.
Severus sighed in exasperation.
His eyes round, Harry dared to ask, "How'd the questioning go?"
"As expected..." Severus faced him and then froze. "Don't move. I need to fetch something."
While Harry waited, he fidgeted with the white sheet partially covering his body.
Severus soon returned, carrying a sketchbook and a box of pencils. He smiled. "Stay just as you are."
Harry enjoyed the feel of the sleek trousers and collared silk shirt—both black, of course—that Severus had resized for him. However, knowing he was wearing a pair of Severus's trunks was wreaking havoc with his libido. At the moment, his briefcase hid more than just Ministry documents.
"Good evening, Rector. Master Potter," Quin greeted as they strolled past, bowing his head in deference.
Harry frowned at the formal title and behaviour, and then it dawned on him just how far-reaching Severus's Thrall actually was: Severus hadn't only commanded Lady Black; he had commanded his entire Domus on Harry's behalf. Harry managed to hold back a moan when his erection worsened.
"Will you be taking a car?" Quin asked, lifting the handset of the telephone.
"Yes, I believe we will. Thank you, Quin."
Quin acknowledged Severus with a nod and spoke into the receiver.
As they exited the building, the headlights of a black limousine shone on them before the car rolled to a stop.
Severus opened the rear passenger door. "After you."
"Thank you," Harry mumbled, flustered by Severus's gallantry and charming smile.
Harry scooted across the leather seats, setting his jacket on his lap and placing his briefcase on the floor. Severus shut the door and slid in next to him.
Reflected in the rear-view mirror, Harry saw the pale-blue eyes of the chauffeur through the lowered partition.
"Destination," the chauffeur requested without a greeting, making Harry infer he was a Muggle.
Harry gave the address of the most recent homicide.
"Not far, but might take a bit. Traffic's a right mess." The chauffeur shifted out of park and eased out from underneath the porte cochère.
Harry heard the click of a button and watched as the partition rose, offering Severus and Harry privacy. For the next few seconds of silence, all Harry could focus on was the heat of Severus's body against his left side.
"You don't have to hide it," Severus murmured into Harry's ear.
"Your arousal." Severus tugged Harry's jacket from his lap. "There's no need. I can smell it." With both hands, he took hold of Harry's face, tilting it up. "I can see it in your eyes… I can hear it in the beat of your—
Harry kissed him, igniting his pent-up lust. It had been exquisite torture lying naked while Severus had drawn him, studying his body in minute detail with his hungry gaze. Only an hour had passed since they'd bedded one another, but Harry already craved him again.
Scrambling into Severus's lap, Harry moaned when he felt Severus's matching erection. Harry deepened the kiss, licking Severus's fangs, loving Severus's restrained sounds of pleasure. He gyrated his pelvis, creating a delicious friction.
For many minutes, they snogged, the building burn between their cocks utter bliss.
"Harry," Severus gasped, squeezing Harry's biceps. "We must stop, or I'll take you here."
Harry shook his head in refusal. He was so close. He needed—Harry bit down on Severus's neck so hard his blunt teeth drew blood. He moaned at the taste, sucking, licking. Yes, this was what he'd needed.
Severus's bared his fangs and let out a throaty groan. He gripped onto Harry's hips, pulling him closer, grinding their cocks together with ardent force.
Harry cried out and then sank his teeth back into Severus's neck as he came. Severus grunted and arched his neck, also finding release.
Both gasping, they took a moment to realize that the limousine had stopped and now idled in park.
Feeling sated and languid, Harry licked Severus's neck clean with long, slow strokes. Then leaning back, he looked at Severus and grinned.
"Better?" Severus asked, running his fingers through the back of Harry's hair.
"Mmmm," Harry responded, nodding.
Severus grew serious. "Harry, are you sure you want me to accompany you? I can tell how much you value your work. I don't want to jeopardize it any more than necessary."
At first, Harry's heart skipped a beat at Severus's understanding words. Then after some more thought, he sobered. "I was only recently assigned the case, so I haven't visited any of the prior murder scenes. I know allowing you in with me won't follow protocol, but something about this case hasn't sat well with me since it landed on my desk. I'd feel better if you came with me."
Warmth filled Severus's eyes, and he smiled. "Good… It'll save me having to sneak in later."
Harry snorted out a laugh.
After casting a Tergeo on their trousers, Severus exited the limousine and offered a hand to Harry, helping him out. They stood on a residential street, which backed Brompton Cemetery. White trim and red doors added much-needed colour to the line of beige brick homes.
Harry led them up the stairs to the door with a brass 117 on it. He applied charms to Severus and himself to prevent them from contaminating the scene, then went to work removing the spells preserving and protecting the residence.
Once inside, Harry found the light switch and turned it on. The fragrance of amaryllis-and-rosemary potpourri permeated the air. The furnishings were dated but well-kept, and framed pictures of the deceased's family littered the floral-wallpapered walls.
Harry and Severus continued deeper into the house, passing through a narrow pantry. Harry flipped the light switch to the kitchen where they stopped.
Taking up a majority of the floor, lines of runes written in blood created an eight-pointed star. The bloodless body that had sat atop it had been taken to Headquarters hours ago.
Severus entered the room further, examining the magical symbols and scenting the air.
"I smell death…sickness…and Muggles."
"The victim was a Mug—"
"Only Muggles," Severus stressed. "There's no scent of any kind of a magical being having ever been here. And…I feel nothing."
"Nothing?" Harry frowned. "Nothing of what?"
"Dark magic. As a Dark creature, I'm able to sense it. The magical runes are made correctly, though they lack finesse. This area should be saturated with Dark magic residue, but I feel nothing."
Harry's eyes widen in realization. "That means… Muggles… Muggles have done this."
"One. One Muggle," Severus stated with surety. "Likely one that somehow found a copy of a Dark Arts grimoire."
"I need to report this to Headquarters straight away. The Lead Detective will be able to inform the proper authorities that we might have a Muggle serial killer on the loose. I'll also want to stop by my office to review the case materials. With this new hypothesis, maybe I can connect some dots."
"I shall come with you," Severus insisted.
Harry felt chills claw over his skin. He should be overjoyed. This was what he had set out to do: bring Rector Snape into the Ministry. But now, the thought of Severus being anywhere near the Ministry terrified him. "No… I don't think…"
Severus grinned at Harry's concern. "Don't worry, Harry. I'm not going to march in as if I were a headstrong Gryffindor." He laced the fingers of his right hand through Harry's left and squeezed. "Trust me."
Their connection thrummed, the word trust silently echoing between them. But it wasn't a question; it was a simple fact. They trusted one another. Their actions, more so than their link, proved it. Severus agreeing to meet with Harry. Severus inviting Harry into his home. Harry letting Severus Claim him, body and soul. But it went back further, years ago to the moment Severus had offered up his memories to Harry: that had been the start of their unspoken trust. It had never been a perfect trust, but it had been a strong one.
Harry squeezed Severus's hand back and then urged him closer. Brushing his lips lightly against Severus's, he softly said, "I do…trust you…now and forever."
Severus inhaled sharply and shut his eyes, stunned and overwhelmed by Harry's words. Having lived most of his life as a double agent, the rarest of gifts, which had always eluded him, had been trust and love. Now, he had one, and with time—something he had a great amount of—he knew he would have both.
Resting his brow against Harry's, he whispered his own promise, "Now and forever."
Still holding hands, they exited the front door.
Outside again, Severus stood to Harry's left watching with interest as Harry reapplied the complicated wards.
Once finished, Harry breathed a sigh of relief and turned around. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted something… It appeared to be the silhouette of someone watching them.
Wand at the ready, Harry raced down the steps, catching a flash of pale skin before the person disappeared around the corner of the house. Lighting his wand, he gave chase, but once he rounded the corner, he found only an empty alleyway and a section of the high brick wall that surrounded the cemetery.
"What is it?" Severus asked from behind, his wand also drawn.
"I'm not sure… Thought I saw something. Probably just a ghost from the nearby cemetery… Do you sense anything out here?"
Severus sniffed the air, a frown appearing on his face. In a single leap, he jumped on top of the cemetery wall, standing tall.
Harry's heart thudded at Severus's show of agility and strength.
Soaring back to Harry's side, Severus's face expressed disgust. "The smell of ectoplasm is overwhelming so near to the cemetery," he grumbled. "A werewolf's nose might have better luck discerning something."
Severus proceeded to retrace their steps to the entrance of the house then followed a scent down the street a few car lengths. "It's faint, but I can smell the Muggle from the house, they left in a vehicle that was parked here. Unfortunately, I can't tell much more. The scent becomes too muddled."
"Severus, your help has been brilliant, invaluable really." Harry took out a small notepad and pen from his briefcase. After jotting down Severus's findings, he said, "Let's head on over to the Ministry before the hour gets too late. But before we do," Harry tapped Severus's chest with his pen, "I need to know what your plan is to not be discovered."
Severus grinned. "I'm glad to have been of service… As to my plan, I'll show you once we're back in the limousine."
Harry cursed his cock as it jumped at Severus's seductive tone.
It amazed Harry how well Severus blended in. If he didn't know it was Severus standing next to him, Harry would assume he was just another nameless cog in the Ministry machine.
Now, Severus wore boring blue robes. His hair and eyes were a nondescript brown, and his signature aquiline nose was Grecian and easily forgettable. Metamorphmagi are rare and can only be born or, rarer still in Severus's case, reborn as an immortal.
"The second-shift Aurors will be on duty now," Harry explained, lurching as the lift came to an abrupt stop, "but most of the Ministry personnel will have left for the day. If you head to the left past the toilets towards the administrative cubicles and come around the other way, you'll less likely be noticed."
Harry stepped off the lift and felt Severus's fingers caress his neck. He turned but found Severus had already disappeared. Harry could only hope Severus wouldn't be discovered.
Walking down the main corridor, Harry heard the murmur of voices coming from the mess room. He peeked inside to see who was in.
Three Aurors dressed in their uniform robes stood next to a percolating coffee maker. Between sips of coffee so strong it could be mistaken for tar, they chinwagged about a recent United-Bats Quidditch match. Aurors Winifred Norwood and Llewellyn Hall were recent additions to the ranks, but Harry internally groaned at the third person: Auror Mamond Musson. Musson had been an annoyance ever since Harry had made the mistake of shagging him once while they were completing Auror training.
"Evening," Harry greeted the bunch.
"Evening," they chorused back.
"You're looking proper smart in your Muggle gear tonight," Musson teased, pouring fresh coffee into a mug. "Finally taking some time off…maybe going on a date?"
"No," Harry answered, wishing Musson wasn't the senior Auror on duty. "I just returned from the field with some news. Is Snodgrass in?"
"Unfortunately, he left about an hour ago," Musson said, sauntering over with a mug in each hand.
"Damn. I'll have to send him an owl, then."
"Anything I can help with?" Musson enquired with clear insinuation.
Harry wasn't sure, but he thought he heard a low growl from outside the room. The next thing he knew, searing pain engulfed parts of his face, neck, and chest. Hissing in a breath and grimacing, he looked down to see scalding coffee dripping down his front.
"Oh, fuck!" Musson exclaimed, setting his surviving mug on a nearby table and stepping over shards of the broken one below. "Harry, I am so sorry. Some coffee spilt onto my hand, and I…"
Harry gritted his teeth at Musson's overly familiar use of his name.
Musson Summoned a towel and then continued to apologize while wiping and dabbing at Harry's face and clothes. "A-Are you alright? I can help you to your office…"
Harry shooed Musson's invasive hands away. Even though his skin screamed in agony, he answered with an, "I'm fine."
"Are you sure?" Musson asked, looking eager.
"Positive," Harry stressed, casting a nonverbal Tergeo. "I'll grab some Burn-healing paste from the Equipment Supply Office on my way to the Owlery. Have a nice evening, everyone. Cheers."
"Cheers," all three Aurors replied weakly as Harry marched out of the room.
Harry hurried to the Equipment Supply Office and helped himself to a small jar of Burn-healing paste. Unscrewing the jar, he got a whiff of the paste's strong, unmistakable odour of oranges, baneberries, and Doxy hair. As he walked at a brisk pace, he slathered a layer onto his burn. The pain of his burn intensified threefold. He clenched his jaw until the numbing effect of the paste kicked in and then sighed in relief.
Next, he used the stairs to go up to Level One. At the Owlery, he sent a letter to Lead Detective Snodgrass, leaving out any mention of Severus, of course.
Hastening back down to the DMLE, he reached the silent, sparsely lit corridor which led to his office. As Harry worked on catching his breath, he looked over his shoulder, making sure no one was behind him. Slowing his step, he pressed his fingers on random spots on his face, neck, and chest. Satisfied the numbness had passed and his burn was gone, he Vanished what paste remained.
When he was only a few steps away from his office door, Harry softly called out Severus's name.
Harry's chest tightened with worry when Severus didn't answer. He called out again. Fuck! What would he do if the Ministry had somehow gotten ahold of Severus? What if Severus was wrongly accused without a trial like Sirius? What would he do without—
Arms slowly wrapped around Harry's chest and pulled him close.
"I loathed his hands being all over you," Severus growled quietly into Harry's left ear, the feel of his tall, hard body doing wicked things to Harry's.
Harry shivered, letting his body relax into Severus's possessive embrace. "Trust me. I did too. Musson's always been a maddeningly handsy sycophant." He turned around within Severus's hold, happy to be staring into familiar dark eyes. "But you shouldn't have been out in the corridor watching, to begin with. You should have been waiting for me here where it was safer." Chuckling, Harry shook his head. "Now, I'm warning you about being out in the corridors."
Keeping Harry captive within the safety of his arms, Severus smirked and then stole a kiss.
Harry allowed the kiss to continue as he walked backwards towards his office door, moaning in appreciation at Severus's skilful tongue.
Gasping, Harry broke their kiss. "As much as I wouldn't mind continuing, you shouldn't be out here, especially looking as you do, and I'll need my arms if I'm to unlock the door."
After he inhaled a deep breath of Harry's unique scent, Severus reluctantly released his hold, allowing Harry to unlock his office door.
Inside Harry's office, light could be seen streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlooked the Atrium. Harry flicked his wand, and the sound of metal rings sliding across a metal rod filled the room as thick red curtains swung closed. With the next few waves of his wand, Harry lit the sconces, the lamp on his desk, and the small fireplace in the corner.
The warm light transformed the space. Besides Harry's desk, a cheerful potted fern shaded a neat pile of Auror robes and a pair of boots. A long, cosy sofa rested against the left wall, and on its far-right cushion, a pillow was laid on top of a folded quilt. In front of the sofa, Harry's old Hogwarts trunk acted as the coffee table. Along the right wall, various books with titles ranging from Amazing Aerial Quidditch Stunts to Zoological Classification of Friendlier Beasts filled dark-stained bookshelves. A long table was positioned against the wall opposite the windows; boxes, large stacks of folders, and piles of parchment covered one half of its surface. On the other half, closest to the fireplace, was a makeshift kitchen. Even a small wizarding fridge could be found underneath the table.
"Welcome to my home," Harry quipped with a grin, locking the door.
"It's nice," Severus mused, taking in the very lived-in feel of the place.
"Thanks. It was given to me after my second promotion. Snodgrass took pity on me after he found me having slept the night in my cubicle one too many times. When I'm not out in the field, I spend most of my time here." He gestured at the sofa. "Make yourself comfortable while I gather all the case notes."
Harry grabbed a few folders and rolls of parchment off his desk and out of his briefcase. With his arms full, he went over to a particular box on the long table. Placing all the documents in his arms on top of the box, he hauled everything over, plopping it all on his trunk.
Sitting down next to Severus, Harry loved how Severus's scent mingled with his own, the way Severus casually placed a hand on his knee. It took all of Harry's willpower and sense of duty to not sink into Severus's arms and offer up his body and blood.
Handing Severus a random folder to look at, Harry explained, "This is all the information about the case the Ministry has gathered: background information on the six victims, crime scene photos, interviews, all the standard stuff."
"What do the victims or murders have in common?" Severus asked, opening the folder and finding a picture of a happy, middle-aged Muggle man.
"They don't have a lot in common," Harry answered, reviewing his personal notes, "different ages, sexes, and socioeconomic backgrounds. What they do have in common is they all are Muggles and have been drained of blood. Each was found in their home on the same eight-sided star we saw, and all the murders have occurred in the Chelsea area." He rummaged through his papers and unfolded a piece of parchment, revealing a topographical map of London. Six red dots spotted the map like drops of blood. Since the map was large and unruly, Harry cast a Levitation Charm on it, so it could be easily viewed by them both.
"As you can see," Harry touched each red spot with his wand, "the locations of their deaths are random and don't form any type of arcane symbol. Of course, that might be because the murderer hasn't killed enough people yet." Harry frowned and chewed his bottom lip in thought.
Waving his hand at the map, Harry transformed it to include major Muggle landmarks. "Since we're dealing with a Muggle," Harry clarified, using his wand to draw a black circle around the cluster of red marks.
"Hospitals," Harry and Severus said, simultaneously.
Harry smiled with growing excitement. "All the murders have occurred within a mile radius of either the Royal Brompton Hospital or the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital."
"Without magic, it would make sense that the killer has medical training," Severus added. "Should we go investigate now or wait until the morning?"
Harry thrived on the thrill of solving cases and the satisfaction of protecting innocents. He cancelled the charm on the map and stood up, grinning. "No time like the present."
Having transformed their clothes into navy scrubs, Harry and Severus investigated the Royal Brompton Hospital first but found nothing.
Since it was close to ten in the evening, traffic flowed at an even pace, and it didn't take long for them to reach the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The chauffeur pulled into the underground car park, but instead of finding the first available spot, he continued on to the lowest level reserved for staff.
Once the limousine was parked, Severus, ever the gentleman, helped Harry out of the car. The moment Severus froze as if he were a predator that had spotted prey, Harry knew they were on the right track. He watched as Severus's nostrils flared, his chest expanding with deep breaths.
"I smell traces of the Muggle suspect," Severus informed Harry. Turning his head from side to side while sniffing the air, he led them deeper into the car park.
Severus brought them to an older model Range Rover SUV. "This is his car." His face pinched in distaste.
Harry understood why. Even he could smell the stench of fresh bleach. It was so strong it burnt the back of his throat. His eyes narrowed with determination. "Let's go find ourselves a Muggle serial killer."
Tracking the killer by his scent, they boarded a lift that took them to the ground floor. They then walked down a wide corridor to the glass-and-metal atrium cut through with walkways high above. They got on and rode another lift, which provided access to the upper floors of the hospital. Unsure of which floor the killer had disembarked on, they had to stop at each one.
"Here," Severus confirmed once the lift doors opened to the fourth floor.
A sign with an arrow pointing to the left listed General Surgery Ward, Women's Health Centre, and Private Inpatient Wing, while an arrow pointing to the right listed Burns Unit, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and Gastroenterology Ward.
Severus strode out of the lift and turned right, Harry a half-step behind.
Moving through long, straight corridors, waiting for automated doors to be scanned open by actual staff, they made their way. Finally, Severus and Harry arrived in the small admittance area of the Burns Unit. They sneaked around the corner past a two-person desk staffed by one nurse busy on the phone.
Beige privacy curtains came into view, many of them closed. The occasional squeak of a rubber-soled shoe broke the murmur of voices.
A doctor in her forties, wearing theatre gear, walked out from behind a curtained private room on the right. Her short, blonde hair caught the artificial light and created a halo on the crown of her head.
Severus looked stunned. He leaned over and whispered into Harry's ear, "It's her. The doctor."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. Perhaps magic was at play; maybe she was under an Imperius Curse.
Harry and Severus approached her. She wore no perfume or makeup and had exhausted, steel-grey eyes. Her ID badge identified her as Dr Mary S Drest.
Seeing Harry and Severus looking at her, she asked, "Are you floating? I don't think we need any more bodies. We're well staffed tonight."
As discreetly as he could, Harry pulled out his wand, stepping forward.
Dr Drest's pupils dilated when she noticed Harry's wand. Bugger, she knew he was a wizard.
"Who are you?" she asked her voice hard. Glancing at a nearby nurse, she barked, "Call security."
"We don't need a scene," Harry said calmly. "Please, Dr Drest, come with us quietly. We'll get everything sorted."
"Stay away from me," she replied, her voice becoming shrill.
"Clean," Severus announced.
Harry's eyes narrowed. While Dr Drest had been focusing on him, Severus had been checking for possible curses.
Her eyes grew large with the same look a desperate animal had when it knew it was about to be caught. Snarling, she tipped over a cart of equipment, sprinting away. She barreled past a nurse, knocking him over. Using her badge, Dr Drest opened a side door to a stairwell accessible only to hospital staff.
Once Harry and Severus knew the fallen nurse was alright, Severus rushed forwards, using a burst of vampiric speed to catch the door before it could close.
Entering the stairwell, Harry disabled any cameras with a flick of his wand. He watched in awe as Severus jumped over the railing to the flight of stairs below. A scream of pain made Harry bound down the steps in two jumps. Rounding the landing, what he saw made his heart sink.
"D-Dr Drest… I-I don't understand…" a young nurse by the name of Anna stammered, her body stiff with fear.
Dr Drest had one hand wrapped around the woman's neck, and in her other hand, she held a syringe filled with a clear liquid which she had stabbed into Anna's thigh. Her thumb lightly rested on the plunger.
"Don't come any closer," Dr Drest warned, "or she dies, like all the rest."
Anna whimpered, her eyes pleading with Harry or Severus to do something.
"Dr Drest, you're a put-together, successful doctor; why did you need to do what you've done?" Harry asked, a sincere expression on his face.
"Why?" Dr Drest hissed. "I've given my life to saving others: barely any time for family, barely any time for friends." Tears pooled in Dr Drest's eyes. "I've not lived my life."
Harry nodded in understanding. "I've done the same... Sometimes I feel like I'm only inhabiting my body until I get a new exciting case. Then I feel alive again…that I have a purpose."
Dr Drest's eyes widened. "Yes, exactly."
"But recently, I realized I'd only been living a half-life," Harry continued gently. "I realized some things are worth risking everything for."
"Yes," Dr Drest nodded, tears now trickling down her cheeks, "that's why I had to do it, you see. I want to start living. I deserve to live."
They all heard the soft thump of a door shutting below and the subsequent sound of footsteps drawing closer.
Severus took advantage of Dr Drest's moment of distraction. Seeming to materialize out of thin air next to her, he yanked the syringe from Anna's leg, dropped it to the floor, and kicked it away. Then he freed Anna from Dr Drest's grasp.
Not looking back, Anna ran down the stairs, screaming at whoever had entered to get out and call the police. As soon as she was out of sight, Harry cast a Muggle-Repelling Charm so they wouldn't be interrupted again.
"No! No! Let me go! He promised…" Dr Drest wept, struggling to escape Severus's vice-like arms wrapped around her chest, pinning her arms to her sides. "He promised," she said with such a depth of hopelessness that, even though Harry knew she was a vile, selfish person, he was affected.
What little bit of strength and defiance Dr Drest had left abandoned her, and her body deflated in Severus's arms.
Keeping a firm hold on her, Severus asked, "Who? Who promised!"
Harry gasped, Severus's Thrall almost bringing him to his knees.
"Mr Sanguini…" Dr Drest answered dreamily. "He promised… He promised…" she kept repeating, a defeated, forlorn look on her face.
Severus's nostrils flared at her answer.
His eyes large, Harry looked at Severus. "Is it…possible?"
Severus gave a slow nod. "Yes… No trace of him was ever found. Rectors can sense their Children, but their Children are unable to sense them. He could still be alive."
Spinning Dr Drest around, Severus stared into her eyes. "Show me," he drawled, holding her chin so she couldn't look away.
This time Severus didn't rely on his powers as a Rector; he solely relied on his gift as a Legilimens. Without mercy, he tore into her mind, searching for what he wanted. His magic stabbed at each of her memories like a needle into the heart of an insect meant for display.
By the time he was done, Dr Drest sobbed uncontrollably.
"I know what her motive was," Severus said. He looked at Dr Drest with both pity and disgust. "She has aggressive, inoperable pancreatic cancer. It's the same illness that Sterling succumbed to. Sanguini promised to Turn her if she did as he said."
Severus pursed his lips before he pulled out a small vial from an inside pocket of his sports jacket. He quickly poured the contents down her throat.
"What did you give her?" Harry asked.
"A cure," Severus replied hollowly. "Unfortunately, I succeeded too late to save Sterling. I've kept it in memory of Sanguini and never thought I'd have reason to use it."
"At least, she'll live to face justice for what she's done."
"At least, there's that," Severus agreed. "Her next meeting with Sanguini was to be tonight."
Since they were both hungry and had about half an hour to spare after squaring everything away with regards to Dr Drest, Severus and Harry stopped for takeaway from a nearby Indian restaurant. With their curry, they drank glasses of chilled champagne, which they had found in the limousine's fridge. Both spoke little, too busy wolfing down their meals.
Once he was done eating, Harry set aside his empty takeaway box and sighed with contentment.
Harry turned to see Severus staring at his lips. Without saying a word, Harry angled his face to the side and pressed his lips to Severus's. Severus opened his mouth, inviting Harry to explore. Harry lost himself in Severus's heat, on the sharp edges of his fangs, and in the low sounds of his pleasure. All too soon, the bells of a nearby church rang the hour.
"Promise you won't do anything too reckless," Severus whispered.
"Only if you promise too."
When neither spoke, they smiled, knowing each would do everything in their power to protect the other, if need be.
Leaving the safety of the limousine behind, they left for Dr Drest and Sanguini's meeting place. Severus glided ahead, not bothering to hide his vampiric nature, whilst Harry followed hidden under a myriad of concealment charms.
Passing through a black cast-iron gate, they entered Providentia Square, a green space not far from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
Walking past empty benches and old trees, Harry could see a tall figure in a heavy black cloak, standing under a lamppost. The man turned, revealing his identity.
Sanguini's bloodless face seemed to glow under the light, making him look like a wraith. When he saw Severus, a flash of surprise crossed Sanguini's face before his face lost all expression, eerily so.
Severus slowed, his eyes narrowing.
From behind, a burst of white from a Full Body-Bind Curse flew towards Severus but, instead of hitting him, it slammed into Harry's invisible body.
Baring his fangs, Severus spun around and returned fire.
But whoever had attacked was clever. With their next shot, a Slicing Curse flew toward the area Harry had fallen.
The smell of Harry's blood filled the air, and Severus roared with fury. With the amount of blood gushing from Harry's wound, Severus knew he didn't have much time. He dropped to his knees and erected a shield. As he worked frantically on Harry, spells continued to pummel their small dome of protection, weakening it with every strike.
Once Severus had cancelled all of Harry's concealment charms and the Full Body-Bind Curse, he quickly discovered the spell had hit Harry's carotid artery. Ripping Harry's shirt out of the way, Severus had just enough time to cast the strongest healing charm he knew before a Stunner shattered his shield and struck his back.
Fighting to stay awake, Harry gritted his teeth in anger when Severus fell unconscious across his chest. But when he saw who their attacker was, he wanted to kill.
"What a surprise to see you here, Harry," Auror Mamond Musson said, a smirk on his face. "And look, you brought a friend." He proceeded to kick Severus's side before shoving him off of Harry.
"I brought my own friend." He gestured at Sanguini standing next to him. "Do you like him?"
Studying Sanguini's unnaturally still form, Harry realized what he really was: a Poppet, nothing more than an empty, life-like marionette. Now it was expressionless and unmoving because Musson wasn't pulling its magical strings. Conjuration of the highest level needed to be used to fashion such a complex, realistic creation. Harry didn't feel too far removed from being one himself, considering he could no longer feel his arms or legs.
"It took the Ministry an entire month to craft him after I agreed to their deal," Musson continued on, not waiting for Harry to answer. "And how could I refuse?
"You would either get thrown out of the DMLE because of your Dark obsession or you would possibly coax the vampire leader into Ministry custody. Regardless of the outcome, I would get promoted. I mean really, Harry; you didn't make it very hard. You should have known better than to keep a diary written by a vampire's bumboy in your office.
"Not to mention, in addition to the benefit of being promoted to Lead Detective, I'll get to help save wizardkind from being overrun by parasites like him."
"Fuck…you," Harry managed to hiss.
Musson's lips curled with revulsion and cruelty.
"I can't believe the higher-ups were right about your disgusting desires. I couldn't until I accidentally spilt coffee on you and checked your neck earlier today, glimpsing the fresh marks for myself. Harry Potter, victim to a corpse's bite, forever a risk due to his attacker's Thrall.
"But I don't think I'll be satisfied with you only being thrown out… You're ruined now, tainted." He sneered. "Best to put you out of your misery." He pointed his wand at Harry. "Goodbye, Harry. Such a shame really, you were a decent shag. Avad—"
Harry saw a flash of pale skin before he heard the snap of bone. Musson screamed in agony, but then he made a guttural moan of pleasure when Lady Black began feasting at his neck.
At first, Musson rutted against her like an animal in heat, but soon, he grew so lifeless Lady Black's strength was the only thing keeping him upright. Finally, she released her hold, and he crumpled to the ground.
Harry could see Musson's chest slowly rising and falling. For a split second, Harry wished that wasn't the case. The good news was that Severus's decrees of taking his potion and not killing were still in effect, so he didn't have to worry about being Lady Black's next meal.
Standing over him, Lady Black curtsied and politely said, "Good evening, Master Potter."
Harry waited for her to help, but all she did was study the Poppet with Sanguini's likeness.
"Tut-tut," she muttered. "As my Rector said earlier this morning, the Ministry has been very naughty." She kicked Musson with her foot, rousing him. "Order the imposter to basement level two of my Rector's Domus."
Slurring his words, Musson did as she had ordered, passing out again soon after.
"Help…" Harry pleaded weakly to her.
Lady Black looked down at him blankly.
"Master Potter, as my Rector commanded, I must protect you from direct harm, but I am under no obligation to do anything more. If my Rector is too weak to save himself or his Cor, he is unworthy of his title."
Harry couldn't help but roll his eyes. The next second, he felt a whoosh of air and found Quin kneeling beside him.
Quin picked up Severus's wrist, sliced it with his thumbnail, and positioned it over Harry's mouth.
"Master Potter, drink."
Harry's eyes closed in bliss when Severus's blood flooded his mouth, but he stopped drinking as soon as he had enough strength to wield his wand.
"Rennervate," Harry rasped.
Immediately, Severus jumped to his feet, searching for danger. His posture relaxed once he recognized Quin and found Harry safe.
"Quin," Severus said with relief. "You heard my call in time."
"Rector, your power is undeniable," Quin replied while grinning at Lady Black. "Good evening, Lady Black. Tonight, you're lovelier than the sweetest of roses and fiercer than the most vicious of beasts."
Not greeting him in return, Lady Black crossed her arms and sniffed.
Quin smiled. "You know you want me." He laughed when Lady Black's cheeks flushed easily due to her recent gluttony.
"Why is she here?" Harry wondered.
Severus sat down next to Harry. "I took your advice," he answered. "I needed to keep a better eye on her. And what better way to achieve that than ordering her to stay close and guard you against attack."
"She was the person I saw near the cemetery."
"Yes, I'm guessing so," Severus confirmed, helping Harry to sit up. "You need to drink more," he encouraged Harry, offering his neck.
Biting into Severus's firm flesh, Harry momentarily forgot his every worry; all he knew was Severus's taste and heat and comfort. Hearing Severus's restrained moan, Harry licked Severus's neck clean and then sighed, his troubled thoughts returning far too quickly.
"What will we do about those in the Ministry who are plotting against us?" Harry asked.
Severus smiled at Harry's use of the words we and us.
"Nothing…for now," Severus drawled. "Soon, immortals will be indistinguishable from ordinary wizards and Muggles; they will live and work beside us unknowingly. Over time, we will see to it that our names are erased from the Being Registry. And those who oppose us will eventually be long gone, and we…we'll have forever…"
Harry tilted back his head and let Snape graze his fangs across his neck before placing a delicate kiss; the gesture filled with promise.
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