HARRY POTTER AND THE PARADOX OF BEING
Unbeta'd, read at your own risk.
9: The Aftermath
The morning after was the worst, Harry decided, even though he'd never had any mornings after and this was in fact his first. He had never slept with anyone other than his Sev and this was a very real betrayal even if it was still with a Severus Snape. No matter at what angle he looked at it; he might have slept with a Severus Snape, but it still didn't make that Severus his Sev. He was a cheater.
"You look pensive."
Harry felt Severus's arms around his waist. His Sev had been very touchy in bed, though quite the anti-touch person out of it. It seemed that this Severus wasn't any different, which made it all that much harder to separate the two of them in his head. It didn't help either that Severus didn't know the moral dilemma that was plaguing his mind. How could he tell Severus that they couldn't have a relationship because he couldn't cheat on his Sev? Especially when he had already told Severus that they had had a relationship and that his future self had said that he loved him?
And what's more, Severus had loved him as Harry.
"Do you regret last night?"
And so the question was asked. It had been hovering at the edges of Harry's mind, but he hadn't actually come out and said the direct words. It was easier not to have to think about that as long as he didn't name it. Instead, he'd been playing with the moral dilemma in his head. No matter how he looked at it, he had cheated on Sev. The problem was that he didn't regret doing it. He felt guilty, but that didn't mean he would have gone back and not done it.
Though, it wasn't as if he could have stopped himself either. He had recognized the lust potion that he'd been given. It had been abnormally strong, strong enough to break his iron will and cause him to seek out the physical release that he needed. It was just lucky for him he had enough steel resolve not to succumb to the temptation that Draco to be.
Sebastian, yes, he was Sebastian… Sebastian Biggerstaff. How could he forget that? He wasn't Harry Potter here, and even though the future Severus had helped him get back and had seemed to love him… this present Severus didn't and that made this Severus not too terribly different from his Sev. Neither of them had the prejudice against him, and if anything both of them had been willing to see the good side to him.
"I don't regret it."
He felt thin lips press against the back of his neck. "Good," Severus murmured, his hands reaching around to stroke Harry's flat stomach, "because even though I took advantage of the situation, I don't feel the least bit guilty."
Severus's hand drifted further and Harry stopped thinking.
Narcissa's beautiful face was striking even when it was fraught with worry. She knew that Lucius had been waiting all night for Draco's owl to come and confirm or not whether the potion and the thrall had worked. The fact that it had not, that Draco had not slept with his Professor wasn't good. That meant Draco hadn't weaved the veela sexual bonding, which would have tied the Professor to his side in a way that would make the powerful wizard amendable to his will. Even though Sebastian Biggerstaff was a strong wizard, a veela exerted a considerable amount of power over his mate though Biggerstaff would have been protected by Draco to the death. It was a small give and take, something that she had accepted when she had been tumbled into the bed by Lucius on their wedding night.
Lucius wielded quite a bit of power over her, but she knew that her beloved would never harm her and in most circumstances because of his overwhelming love for her… would do anything to make her happy and he knew that she hated it when he was too controlling. Possibly, it might have been the same way for Draco with Biggerstaff… like father like son, after all. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
"We must hide this for as long as possible," Narcissa murmured. "You cannot let the snake-face know about this, this is not good for either you or Draco." She turned her husband's face to her until she could meet him dead on, eye to eye. She knew it was hard for Lucius to deny anything she asked for even though he was technically the dominant one in the relationship. "Especially you, Hogwarts will keep Draco say as it is the safest place in Britain because of Dumbledore but I worry about you."
Lucius bent his head down and brushed a kiss against her temple. "Don't worry, I will be careful and you know that I will protect our son for as long as I can. I can only hope that he will not…" His face twisted with pain as he fell to his knees clutching his arm. Everything in him screamed of agony as he uttered what she already knew, "He's calling."
Her eyes were wide and frightened. "Then you must go."
"Maybe… he won't ask."
"Maybe," she whispered and smiled sadly. "You need to go." He nodded and stood up, cradling his arm close to his side. "Lucius?" He turned around and she stared lovingly at his beautiful face. "I love you."
"I love you more." He apparatedaway.
"You bring me nothing," Voldemort whispered, and he only needed to whisper because there was such a mad fury in his expression that he didn't need a vocal representation. Lucius only hoped that the only punishment that he'd receive was Cruciatus, but if he wasn't lucky he'd receive others that were more obscure and no less painful. At least with the painful Unforgivable, there were no physical impairments. "Absolutely nothing. I thought I told you that when I saw you next, I expected you to bring me Biggerstaff's allegiance?"
"My lord," Lucius kept his forehead pressed into the cold ground, "Draco did his best, but he was unable to lure Sebastian Biggerstaff into his bed and seduce him. But I believe that my son is getting closer to him, he said that Sebastian was powerfully tempted but has such a strong will that he was able to send Draco away. Don't you want someone with that kind of power on our side?"
"Of course I do!" Voldemort exclaimed, his eyes blazing a deep crimson. "And you are a fool to think that Sebastian Biggerstaff will let your son anywhere near him again when that potion attempt failed. If Draco had merely used his thrall, then maybe it wouldn't have set Biggerstaff's suspicions off, but they have been. Now I doubt that Biggerstaff will trust Draco anymore and if he will not trust Draco… I don't have much need for him as a servant, do I?"
Lucius felt a cold chill of panic race down his spine. Voldemort had to be out of his mind to be threatening Lucius's family, Lucius tried to rationalize. The Dark Lord knew that there was nothing more important to Lucius than his family and to threaten his family would be the very thing to have his loyal servant to turn his back on him. Lucius might be a dark wizard, but he didn't have to be a dark wizard for a madman who was going to hurt his son, his precious dragon.
"At least at Hogwarts, his purpose has failed," Voldemort murmured, his voice taking on an almost amused edge that hinted at his tenuous grasp on sanity. "I suppose his apprenticeship is in jeopardy with Biggerstaff as well, what a pity. I would have liked to use kinder means to sway him to my side but I suppose since that didn't work… force will have to be used."
"If you wish it," Lucius responded, "it will be done."
"I wish it, but first…" Voldemort raised his wand, "you must be punished…"
He stumbled and then he fell to his knees. Lucius could hear Narcissa's strangled cry when she saw him. He could only imagine what she was seeing. He couldn't see a thing. Everything that he was feeling was making his vision blur in a distortion that was overwhelming pain. While Cruciatus was bad, what Voldemort had done to him this time was physically bad. Cruciatus was a pain spell that could mentally impair but it didn't cause physical damage that was life threatening. The punishment that Voldemort had inflicted this time had.
"WHAT IN MERLIN'S NAME DID THAT SONOFABITCH DO TO YOU?"
His beloved was furious, and he told himself to concentrate, concentrate hard on her so that he wouldn't pass out because it simply wouldn't do for a Malfoy to faint. It was unseemly. Besides the fact that he had never fainted in his life, and he wasn't about to start fainting now. Her blue eyes were swirling and all he wanted to do was drown in them and forget all the pain. He knew that she was casting some healing spell, but he wasn't feeling any alleviation of the pain. He was only feeling worse.
"Lucius… Lucius… do you hear me?"
His eyes rolled back into his head and he tried to find his tongue to find a way to answer her. It was getting harder and harder to stay focus on staying conscious. It was a battle he was sadly losing and he didn't like this. Damn Voldemort.
"Lucius..." Narcissa was shaking him, he knew, trying to jolt him to look at her and Merlin knew he was trying. "What did he do to you?" He struggled to open his eyes. "LUCIUS AUGUSTUS MALFOY, OPEN YOUR BLOODY EYES." He opened them and saw her distress and hated himself for causing her anything that wasn't happiness. "What curses did he use?"
He opened his mouth but the words died in the back of his throat when he felt a strange otherness feeling pass over him as he felt something tug his soul away.
Loud, unbearable knocking was what roused Severus and Harry from the sleep their bodies craved from the long, satisfying sexual activities they had indulged in. Severus was the first one that jerked his body into a sitting position, and he glared at the door with all the anger someone that had just had some amazing sex could muster. "Infernal idiots," Severus muttered. "It's probably a student."
Harry smiled sympathetically and quickly rolled out of the bed, briskly starting to pull his hastily shucked clothes on. "You'd best deal with it, even if it is a Saturday morning," Harry murmured. "I know that you might think your students are blithering fools, but you do care about them." Harry was positive of this, he knew Sev was this way and Severus was only different in loyalties than the Sev he'd known. He just had an odd way of showing it.
Severus growled, but didn't bother denying it. "Stay in here and I'll try to get rid of the dunderhead as soon as I can so you can leave from here. Unfortunately, I've only connected the fireplace in my main room to the Hogwarts floo network. But…"
"I understand," Harry murmured. "I can feel the wards you have on your bedroom, you know. I think it has to be some of the strongest warding magic at Hogwarts besides Albus's, of course. And I'd think that even Albus would have problems getting past yours."
Severus smirked and Harry knew how to read that smirk. It still surprised Harry how many of Sev's outside of the classroom expressions Severus shared. It really reinforced how they were the same person, and yet they weren't. He still had this feeling that even though they physically and a good deal emotionally and spiritually the same person, they weren't wholly the same person. There were some differences, like how this Severus was a willing spy for Albus.
But this Dumbledore was different.
Harry heard the wall sliding open to Severus's sitting room. He hadn't intended to listen in on the conversation, but there was no mistaking the distress in Minerva McGonagall's voice or the subject matter. It involved Lucius Malfoy. He had fond memories of the Malfoy family, though he had tried to remind himself that here this Lucius Malfoy had once attempted to kill him. But it was hard to forget how the Malfoys had welcomed him into their family when he'd been Draco's friend. To hear that Lucius Malfoy, even this Lucius Malfoy was potentially dying was distressful. Lucius Malfoy wasn't supposed to die, was he? Harry certainly hadn't seen his grave when his future self had shown him the possible future. But things had already started changing from what his future self had known. He had changed it by coming earlier.
Every action must be answered.
"Sebastian?" Harry jerked his head toward the doorway where Severus was standing with an ominous expression. "I need your help."
"To brew a potion." He didn't bother trying to hide that he hadn't overheard the conversation. It wasn't as if they'd been shouting, but without the aid of silencing charms it hadn't been hard to hear what they'd been saying. And to pretend ignorance wasn't Harry's style, even if this Lucius Malfoy was potentially, from the one confrontation he'd had, an enemy. "I overheard."
Severus nodded curtly. "It requires two people to brew it properly, and we've got to get started now. Lucius doesn't have much time."
He added a phoenix tear and the potion was done. It had taken 3 hours to brew the potion. It usually took 5, but Severus had rushed through the steps that could be rushed as time was preciously ticking away. Of course, it helped having Sebastian by his side. Sebastian might not have been a Potions Master, but he was certainly gifted. Whoever his previous teacher had been deserved some props for teaching him. Without Sebastian, the preparation wouldn't have gone so fast no matter how hard he'd tried to rush it.
He wanted to finish the potion as fast as possible, but the time that it did take to brew gave him time to take in what Minerva had said. Minerva, Severus knew, did not like Lucius Malfoy. Minerva probably hated him, if it was in her to hate anyone. But even she looked distressed describing briefly the condition that Lucius Malfoy had been in when he'd been brought to Hogwarts by Narcissa.
Why Hogwarts?, was the question that plagued Severus's mind. Everyone knew that St. Mungo's was the wizarding place to go to if you needed to be healed for anything. As it was, Madame Pomfrey had to call some discreet St. Mungo's specialists here to treat him, at least to keep him from out of death's clutches while this ridiculous difficult to brew yet horribly effective restoration potion was made. It was too bad Fawkes had just burned a day ago, or else he might have given Lucius some unrivaled phoenix healing. As it was, Lucius would have to settle for a phoenix tear… the last drop Severus had. The only answer Severus had as to why Narcissa had brought Lucius here was that Lucius wasn't going to be bowing down in front of Voldemort in loyalty anymore.
But Lucius was a devout servant of Voldemort, always had been and Severus had thought, always would be. And yet… Severus really didn't know what kind of condition Lucius was in. If it was serious enough that he was close to dying unless he was given this potion, then it was far closer to death than even Severus had come in moments of Voldemort's severe wrath. Then again, Voldemort was always careful not to damage him too much for the sake of appearances. Did Voldemort really think that Dumbledore didn't know that he was a Death Eater?
Must be so. Voldemort was getting crazier in his old age and his sharpness was declining too. Why Severus had ever wanted to join that madman was beyond him. But at one time, he concluded bitterly, he must have been foolish and young enough to fall for some stupid propaganda.
"Is it done?"
Severus grunted and started pouring the potion into a bottle. "Yes."
"We'd best get it to Poppy then," Sebastian murmured. "Lucius Malfoy is going to need this if his condition is as bad as they say it is."
Severus nodded. Something else was bothering him, something that in a way had something to do with Lucius Malfoy and in a way it didn't. What Severus didn't understand was why Sebastian was helping him to brew the potion to save Lucius Malfoy's life. It wasn't as if Lucius Malfoy had been his only childhood friend, as had been Severus's case. There was no reason for Sebastian to help, and yet here he was all because Severus had asked. "Why?"
"Why?" Sebastian repeated. "Why what?"
"Why are you helping?"
Sebastian smiled. "Because you asked." Severus had known that, but he was still surprised by the casual answer. It simply wasn't very Slytherin to offer help without getting anything in return. In some ways, Sebastian was frighteningly a Gryffindor--- too noble, but then again there was this uncanny instinct that he had that was entirely Slytherin.
"He's a Death Eater, you know."
Sebastian shrugged. "It doesn't mean he can't be reformed."
Strangely, that was the perfect answer. Severus hadn't known what answer he wanted to hear out of Sebastian, but that was it. There couldn't have been a better one. Even though Severus knew that Sebastian knew that he was a Death Eater and a spy at that, before that he had to have done it for reasons other than espionage. And he had been able to reform himself, but there were still quite a number of people that didn't believe it. What was nice was that Sebastian did.
"You certainly were."
-Author's Note: Wow, I'm sorry this took so long. This was supposed to be out in mid-August, but I somehow didn't really start writing this until three days ago. I had a bit of writer's block. Actually, I had a large case of writer's block. I haven't really been writing much of anything and that certainly isn't helping my creative writing class. Also, I'm excruciatingly busy with school so I really don't have much time to write. I promise to write what I can. I'm either going to start working on the next Serpentine chapter or write something new. I'm not really sure which direction I want to go. Props off to whoever wants to direct my writing. Although, my muse is being notoriously difficult right now. But when she's on, she's fast isn't it? This chapter only took 3 days to write after all. I don't think it's that bad, it certainly gets the plot moving forward although I'm not too happy with the way it turned out stylistically.
Questions: (1) So what do you think the HP/SS wake up scene? (2) The Lucius/Voldemort confrontation? (3) Lucius's injuries? (4) Narcissa's reaction? (5) SS/HP helping Lucius? (6) Will Lucius be reformed? Haha…. The big question… do you want him to be? Reformed to a degree…
Thanks to all my wonderful reviewers! If it weren't for you, (also the NC-17 excerpt is available at my livejournal, you can find it at my personal archive), this chapter wouldn't be possible. Keep the feedback coming and I promise I'll keep writing. Toodles!