Duck for cover everyone! The sky is falling on us! It's an UPDAAAAATE! (crash)
Wow, it was about time, too. I was probably as frustrated as you to get it over with. Sorry that it had to come out this late (one hell of a belated Christmas and New Year present!) but you know, life happens. I won't bore you and go over the details.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE AT THE END, PEOPLE! READ IT PLEASE!
Now read and enjoy! (Note: this wasn't betaed)
The World Without Me
Chapter 33: Looking up
Sirius carefully mounted the broom and tucked Harry safely in his arms. Orion motioned for Remus to jump on his back. Normally he wouldn't let just anyone do that but these men cared for Harry as much and probably even more than he did, and that was saying something.
Remus did as asked tiredly and they all moved away from this fateful place without a backward glance; the place where it all –finally- ended.
Orion galloped slowly, keeping up with Sirius who didn't want to push the Firebolt too fast. Soon enough they reached the castle, where everyone was being tended to inside.
They rushed in.
Of course, first thing that happened was Sirius being mobbed by a frantic gang of Gryffindors. Said man almost literally barked at them to get out of his way and while Remus sent him a reproachful look, he did not try to tell his friend to show a little composure and patience.
The Werewolf pushed them aside gently so Sirius could pass but Hagrid did a more thorough job when he almost sent Ritchie Coote, Victoria Frobisher and one of the Creevey brothers reeling on the floor when he limped by and disappeared outside, muttering nervously about "Norbert".
Remus shook his head at the Half-Giant's hurried departure but when he turned around he had to run up the stairs to catch up to Sirius who was already gone from his sight.
The hustle and bustle in the Infirmary nearly came to a stop when Sirius stomped in. Amongst all the MediWizards present, Poppy was the first to reach him and motioned a bed for the haggard man to put Harry on. Seconds later the unconscious young man was being hooked to all kinds of magical devices by the Matron who was barking up orders left and right.
Remus silently walked up to Harry's bed and became queasy when he bypassed a bed where a thin white sheet was completely stretched over the patient, head included. 'Merlin above, please help Harry…' He put a hand on Sirius' shoulder and squeezed lightly. The Animagus was silently glad for his best friend's support but his gaze stayed rooted on his Godson's pale form.
A couple of weary Order members approached them, Albus at the lead. "What happened to him, Remus?" The Headmaster knew better than to ask Sirius; the man looked completely grief-stricken.
The Werewolf barely sent them a glance. "We found Harry in a crater where the Shrieking Shack used to be. He was already like this when we arrived…"
A couple of Ministry Officials pushed the Order members aside frantically.
"What do you mean where the Shrieking Shack used to be?"
"Can you be a little more specific?"
Remus lost patience. He snarled and lifted one of the men right off the floor only to shove him against a wall, practically strangling him. Wands pointed in his direction when Remus' eyes became a solid gold and his voice took on a more animalistic pitch. "I don't freakin' care where He is! You morons could do your job for once and go see for yourselves! I won't tolerate your harassing behaviour when our" he pointed at Sirius and himself "Godson is lying on a hospital bed half dead!" The enraged Werewolf released the man when he whimpered in fright and went back to Sirius, the wands pointed at him retracting slowly but surely one by one.
While the Officials scampered away Poppy walked to the nervous black haired man and sighed. "I did everything I could and ran every check-up I knew of; it's not looking good." The MediWitch had never looked so tired in her life, a hand pushing up a few straying locks of grey hair away from her sweat-matted forehead.
The duo sat on Harry's bed, minding the numerous bandages covering the boy's prone form and tubes coming in and going out of him and to the medical equipment. Albus sighed and even though he really wanted to know what was going on with Harry, he urged every non MediWizard personnel and those who didn't need serious treatment out of the Infirmary, to their dismay.
Ron and the rest of the Weasleys, bar Bill who was still on a stretcher, filed out while sending one last concerned glance towards Harry. The Dursleys hurriedly walked out and went back to the comfort of their assigned quarters, out of the Wizards' way.
The Infirmary regained its peaceful silence, except form the occasional hurt-filled cry and the usual sounds of the MediWizards' footsteps around the room.
"Is Harry going to live, Poppy?" Remus finally asked, his voice no more than a silent whisper.
Sirius still hadn't spoken a word.
"I don't know, Remus. He's covered in bruises that even with my healing spells will take probably months, if not years, to mend. Add this to the fact that he's been exposed to major dark spells and is under the most severe case of magical exhaustion I have ever seen…Also…I don't quite know how to explain this…but something's wrong with him on a deeper level that I can't explain…"
The Witch had to strain to hear Remus' voice as the man became even more pallid than before. "Poppy…"
She shook her head. "You both have to understand; Harry is in a coma and I have no idea if he'll ever wake up from it. I'm sorry, but there's nothing else I can do for him. He'll have to wake up on his own."
The words "if he ever does" were kept silent.
She closed her eyes momentarily in order to shake away the despair she saw in Remus' eyes. "If you want to stay here with him I won't stop you, but please stay quiet. I need to help the other patients. Do you need anything before I go?"
Sirius merely lied down beside Harry and transformed into Padfoot, keeping the boy warm. Taking this as Sirius' answer, Remus only asked for a vial of Pepper-Up so he could at least watch over the boy without falling asleep.
Poppy fetched it for him even though she knew the Werewolf needed to sleep. She then left Sirius and Remus to their own thoughts and went back to the other MediWizards.
Remus awoke to frantic whispers and groaned when his neck and back protested at any small movements. Looking down he saw Padfoot and a still comatose Harry in the bed and he almost let out a whine at the thought that the boy may or may not wake up, ever.
Pepper-Up had not been such a good idea to drink after all; its effects had dwindled sometime during the day and now he was sore all over and a couple of deep scratches he received in his fight against the other Werewolf leader were caked in dry blood. These wounds would be a pain in the ass to clean later.
He limped towards the voices that woke him up into a more opened area of the Infirmary and joined Dumbledore who was looking at the nurses bustling around a new patient. The weary Headmaster nodded as a salute and Remus blinked when he finally spotted Snape lying on the bed unconscious and hurt pretty bad.
"What-" Remus rasped his sore throat, "what happened to him?"
He guided a shaken Dumbledore to a chair.
"Hagrid found him in the forest when he was looking for Norbert. We're pretty certain he duelled Lucius Malfoy because we found the man's body lying not too far from Severus'. Moody also found young Draco's petrified body near his father's; he brought him back to the Ministry for further questioning. I really do not know what kind of punishment he will be sentenced to…Azkaban certainly is out of the question right now."
Remus hummed. "I can't believe how fast the Officials are rebuilding the Ministry and the Monarchy. Has a new minister been named already?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "No. They're all having a debate right now as to who will have the privilege. I think it's despicable how they're fighting between each other over that simple matter after the war we've just been through."
Remus snorted softly. "Hn, they're politicians."
The Headmaster shook his head in hopelessness and got up when one of the MediWitches walked up to them. "How is Severus, Healer Magdala?"
"He's going to be fine; he just needs a couple weeks of rest. He's had several dark curses thrown at him and he must've fallen unconscious after defeating Mister Malfoy Senior…Although luck was also on his side…He probably survived all this time because of the potions he had on him. Some of the bottles stashed in his cloak are empty, so he must have drunk them to keep himself alive until someone found him."
Lupin and Dumbledore sighed in relief. "Albus, you really did hire the best Potions Master in all of Great-Britain…"
The old man's blue eyes twinkled in response, but that light dimmed when he turned in the direction of Harry's bed. "And what about our young hero?"
Remus looked at the ground. "No changes…" he answered dejectedly.
Albus put a comforting hand on the Werewolf's shoulder. "I'll ask Poppy to check him up again. You and Sirius should also get a check-up, just in case. You both looked pretty beat up when you got here this morning. In the mean time I'll try to keep the ministry Officials and the reporters at bay. They'll want to know what happened to Voldemort but I'm afraid no one will really know until Harry wakes up."
'If he ever wakes up…'
Neither man voiced it out loud but it didn't stop them from thinking about this depressing possibility.
The next five months sped by like a blur. Of course, Hogwarts couldn't be reopened for the rest of this school year due to the destruction of most of the grounds and the, let's say it, rather long interruption in the year's curriculum.
The newly elected minister, Amelia Bones, did everything in her power to help restore Diagon Alley, the school and Hogsmeade to their former glory; though the giant hole where the Shrieking Shack used to lay was kept as it is as a Historical reminder, wards preventing anyone from going near it until they could have answers about what had happened there. And she did all that just in time for the next generation of first years to arrive.
For once, even Dumbledore was content with the person elected as minister; Amelia Bones was recognized for her impartiality and fierceness in maintaining the law. She would not accept bribes or turn sides under the pressure and could hold her own in a duel, so it was a far cry from the snivelling incompetent usually elected.
Since the seventh years had been disrupted in their schooling more than anybody else (the younger years had had to learn more powerful spells for the war so as a gift they were allowed to move on to the next grade) they had opted to stay at Hogwarts for a couple of months to finish their work and pass their exams. Hermione couldn't have been happier while it took a while to motivate Ron.
Most things had gone back to normal, though some people were still in mourning.
The Centaurs had gone back to their beloved forest and no one had heard from them since. Norbert, to Hagrid's tearful joy, was transported back to Romania with Charlie as its caretaker. The Dragon had suffered a nasty broken wing so they used a lot of calming draughts, binds and a large magical boat to bring it back home.
A funny fact: the contracts between all Death Eaters and their House Elves had been severed by the ministry, so now Hogwarts had a large number of them at its disposition…And Dobby hadn't lost a minute to create havoc amongst them by asking the amused Headmaster to be paid for his services.
Hestia was also back on her feet and working on getting a tan back. Severus was still recuperating from his ordeal so Bill Weasley had accepted to take a break from his Curse Breaker job to teach Potions, a subject he had passed with an O, so he was more than competent for it. That fact did not stop Snape from threatening the oldest Weasley progeny that if anything was out of place when he came back he would feel it 'till kingdom come. Bill merely took it with good humour but assured the man that any ingredient taken from his precious stash would be replaced without delay.
So now a new school year, peaceful for once, was underway. The first Term had already started and a fifth table had been set for the old seventh years, every House included. Albus, as usual, kept a keen eye on everyone as they ate, though his gaze couldn't help but veer in his Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher direction; Sirius Black.
A very lonely looking Sirius Black.
Everyone couldn't help but sympathize with the man: his best friend and Assistant-teacher Remus Lupin was not there to lend a hand this year, being too busy trying to negotiate a treaty between the Werewolf community and the Ministry, something far from an easy feat. And to make the matter worse, Harry Potter had been placed in a permanent injury ward –to Sirius and Remus' great fury- in St-Mungo's, still unresponsive to any attempt at awakening him. Even the teachers and students who knew him well were appalled at the Healers decision of putting him in a Permanent Injury Ward; the name itself revealed that they had lost hope for the green eyed boy's recovery. But it didn't stop Sirius and Remus from going to see him each and every evening to talk to the comatose boy, the only time when the remaining Marauders saw each other these days. They couldn't stay for long on weekdays, but they made up for it on the weekends.
So this is how, this weekend still, both men saw each other.
Sirius looked behind him when he heard shuffling outside his Godson's room but didn't get up from his chair; he already knew who it was. The other man entered in a huff.
Remus rolled his eyes, put his long coat over the back of Sirius' chair and sat down on Harry's bed, softly pushing a few stray hairs from the young man's face. The cursed lightning bolt scar glared at him and, as if burned, Remus turned his attention back to the Animagus. "I'm sorry. The man they hired to take care of the new Werewolf-Wizard Treaty Program is a complete and utter moron. He managed to insult them three times in today's meeting and I had to undo all of his idiotic moves before he got himself killed."
Sirius snorted softly. "I don't know why YOU're not the one at the head of this program; the negotiations wouldn't take this long."
Remus shook his head sadly. "You know people still have prejudices against Werewolves. They're not about to hire one at the Ministry. But Mrs. Bones is looking into it."
Sirius only grunted in response, his sight landing on his Godson once again. "They keep asking news about him."
Remus sent his friend an inquisitive look.
"The people at school, I mean. It's hard to be constantly reminded of Harry's condition day after day. I was thinking about quitting the job," Sirius finished silently.
Remus' eyes widened and he shook his head. "Don't! Sirius, Harry wouldn't want you to do this! And this job is the only thing keeping you away from having a depression at the moment. We just have to be patient."
"Patient? PATIENT! Goddammit, Remus! Every time I come here the nurses tell me the same damn thing! 'I'm sorry Mr. Black, there have been no changes! We apologize, but his magical reserves are still close to nil!' Sorry, sorry, sorry! That's all they say!"
Remus recoiled at his friend's sudden change of tone. "Calm down Sirius. You'll gain nothing by doing this to yourself. I'm as anxious as you are, you know," the Werewolf replied in a hurt filled voice.
The dark haired man immediately calmed down and slouched back down in his chair, a hand massaging his temples. "Sorry Moony. I guess I've been really stressed lately. I keep receiving mail from everyone that's anyone in the Wizarding World asking me about what happened that day and what happened to Harry. People keep pestering me wherever I go as if they really cared about him! They don't even know him! They just want a scoop! I keep getting pitying looks, as if they were sad for my loss! What fucking loss! My Godson's still alive!" Sirius buried his head in his hand and just tried to breathe in and out after saying out loud what he had been keeping bottled up inside.
He felt Moony rub his back in comfort but neither man spoke again for a long while after that.
After an hour or so, a MediWitch softly knocked on the door and told them that visiting hours were over. It was with a heavy heart that both men got up, slid on their coats and bade farewell to the comatose boy on the bed.
Sirius breathed in deeply when they stepped outside. "I guess I'll be seeing you tomorrow?"
Remus smiled softly, his voice managing to soothe the Animagus' heavy heart. "Of course. I have some work to finish tonight but you know I'll be there. And Sirius?"
The other man looked up.
"Just keep believing that everything will be alright. Harry is a strong person, he won't abandon us. He'll find a way to come back to us."
Sirius smiled sadly, but a flicker of hope shone in his deep blue eyes. "You're right as always. Take care and see you tomorrow."
They parted ways and went back to their previous engagements.
Time sped by. A month became two.
"Sirius, could you wait for a moment?" Albus Dumbledore called out in the hallway. Sirius stopped short and looked up at the old man, one foot already outside his classroom door. A few students walked by and gazed at them curiously but quickly sped away, not daring to ask any questions.
"What is it, Albus? I don't have much time; I want to go see Harry."
The Headmaster motioned for Sirius to walk beside him. "That's exactly why I've come to talk to you. Maybe you should stay at Hogwarts today and get some rest. You can go see Harry tomorrow."
Sirius frantically shook his head. "No! I have to see him! I-"
Albus lifted a hand to stop Sirius from talking. "I know, my dear boy. But you have to understand; you look exhausted from going back and forth to St-Mungo's like this while trying to manage schoolwork. You even snapped at a few students in your classes yesterday. That's not like you at all. Harry won't disappear and he wouldn't want you to be so hard on yourself. And besides, Remus always visits him too for a little while, so you know Harry will have some company."
Sirius sighed tiredly, knowing there was no way he could win against the logical argument. It didn't mean he didn't feel guilty about it, though. "I really want to go but I know you're right. I really am tired from all this coming and going and I admit I've been hell to deal with these past few days. I guess…I'll take this day off and go to bed early."
Albus' eyes twinkled in happiness at the wise decision, even if Sirius sported a rather sad expression on his face.
"That's good." The old man accompanied the Animagus to his quarters and made certain Sirius was going to be alright. "Don't worry my boy, Remus will see to Harry today as he always does. I'm sure he'll understand your absence."
Sirius smiled half-heartedly and closed the portrait behind him, dumped a pile of uncorrected test sheets on his already overflowing work table and just let himself fall on the bed, going to sleep almost instantly.
"Mr. Lupin, wait!"
Remus sighed and rolled his eyes in annoyance. "What is it this time, Jonathan? The meeting is over and I have to go see Harry."
The young looking man, Jonathan, meekly shook his head and motioned in the meeting room's direction. "I apologize but it seems that Brom insulted one of your pack brothers again… I think they're about to kill each other in there."
Remus tsked and stomped his way back, unceremoniously dumping his coat in his stumbling helper's hand.
"That moron! What did he say this time? We were doing such great progress! If my pack mates don't skin him alive I think I will!"
Jonathan gasped when Remus' eyes became solid gold. "You don't really mean that, do you?" He paled when the Werewolf didn't answer.
When he saw lights zooming each and every way and heard snarling behind the closed door, Remus accelerated and literally banged it open. "ALL OF YOU SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! he bellowed, making everyone freeze and sit down.
Milo Brom opened his mouth and closed it several times but no words came out after Remus shot him the look, the "say-one-more-thing-and-you'll-get-what's-coming-to-you" look. The Negotiator also quickly hid his wand under the table as if Remus didn't already see it. But the infuriating man had the gal to sneer in the Werewolves' faces as if he was not guilty of anything.
'Merlin I hate that man' our poor Werewolf thought sullenly, knowing he was stuck with Milo until the end of that damn Negotiation Pact.
The Werewolves under Remus' control looked down and bared their throat in a show of submission but still managed to send dirty looks towards the offending ministry official.
Remus breathed in and out and walked completely in the room, followed closely by his aide Jonathan, and he sat back down in his chair. "Now gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?"
And they all started to accuse each other again within a loud cacophony of insults. Remus slumped in his chair in defeat, a hand coming to his temples, trying to massage the impending headache out of his system. 'I guess Sirius will understand if I don't come for one day. He'll keep Harry company tonight like he always does and I'll see him tomorrow.'
They didn't know it was what THEY were waiting for to finally strike.
The two humans weren't going to come today, they knew it; the visiting hours had already started and no one had shown up. By this time at least one of them was always already here, in the boy's room.
Finally, they could do as their Master ordered and take the boy without anyone knowing, giving them enough time to flee a safe distance between the Wizarding World and theirs.
They could only "kidnap" the boy during visiting hours, when everyone was invited to come in the hospital. The nurses wouldn't show up tonight to urge the two men to come back the next day; there wasn't anyone else in the room but Harry Potter.
The window silently opened and two beings crept in after checking the potentially dangerous wards around it. Luckily for them they deactivated during visiting hours or they would have been burned to a fine crisp.
They looked at all the magical items stuck to the comatose boy and sniffed in disdain before methodically shutting them off one by one and then getting all the needles out of the thin arms. "Such primitive methods," one scoffed lowly.
The other nodded but stayed silent, taking the young man into his arms carefully. "This is too easy. Let's go."
And both, along with a third companion this time, jumped out of the room and into the silent night with none the wiser.
Visiting hours ended.
In every room people were asked to leave.
Every room except one which didn't receive any visitors this time around.
Lights gradually closed in every corridor.
A light breeze from an open window, previously closed, was the only sign that something was wrong. The MediWizards wouldn't discover it until the next morning.
Sirius already felt better. He had woken up all energized and ready for a new day and now he was eating a huge breakfast before classes started. That is, until he received a letter by owl post while others received their newspapers. He spat his juice all over his part of the table with wide eyes and then got up so fast his chair fell down behind him. "WHAT!"
Everyone froze at the half-cry, half-scream and turned to their DADA teacher. Both his hands kept trembling as he finished reading the letter and the teachers started to get worried when his face went from disbelieving, to shocked, to angered and then made place to extreme fear and worry. Taking the letter in a daze he stumbled down the dais and was out the Great Hall before anyone could say a thing.
Then, as usual, everyone started to talk at the same time about their teacher's weird behaviour until a short wail froze them again. Hermione got up, shaking like a leaf. "P-professor Dumbledore!" She couldn't say anymore and started to cry silently. Ron immediately started to comfort her.
Minerva, from her place at the Head Table, frowned worriedly at one of her best student. "Miss Granger? Is there something wrong?"
Hermione merely shook the morning newspaper in her hand in front of them.
The Headmaster quickly unrolled his own paper and his face became ghostly white after reading just a few lines. "Classes are cancelled for today. Minerva, call the Order. I'm afraid that we might have to restrain Sirius from doing something he might regret later."
Said teacher watched the Headmaster walk down the aisle.
"I'm going ahead. Please join me as soon as possible."
"Wait Albus! Where are we going! What's going on!"
Dumbledore threw the Daily Prophet in front of her and promptly walked out. Her eyes widened when she saw this morning's front page. "Oh Merlin, no."
Right there in front of her, in big black bold letters, was the alarming title shouting out to the world: "HARRY POTTER MISSING FROM ST-MUNGO'S, KIDNAPPED DURING THE NIGHT?
She didn't read the rest. Her eyes were rooted on the title. Only Xiomara's gasp and Sprout's muttering finally made her look up in resolution. "Everyone go back to your dormitories. You will listen to your Head of House's instruction. Bill you will replace Professor Snape with the Slytherins. Xiomara, you take my Gryffindors. I will keep in touch with you."
Ron almost stopped McGonagall to ask her if Hermione and he could come but he changed his mind when he saw the Transfiguration teacher's face when she whizzed past him.
"Poor Harry! What will happen to him? Where could he have been taken?" Hermione cried softly for her friend. Seeing the words "enemies", "remaining Death Eaters", "Dark supporters against what Harry Potter helped achieve" and all that nonsense of maybe the young man already being dead in the editorial…
Ron gazed at it in disdain and pointed his wand at it, setting it on fire with a good old Incendio spell. "Don't believe in that rubbish. I'm sure they'll find him. They HAVE to." But even his words wavered, traitors to his brave façade.
"HOW COULD THAT HAVE HAPPENED! WE WANTED HIM TO STAY AT HOGWARTS BUT YOU REFUSED US! WE LEFT HIM IN YOUR CARE! WE TRUSTED YOU! HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE CHECKED ON HIM LAST NIGHT EVEN IF WE WEREN'T THERE!"
It would have been funny if it wasn't so tragic. Everybody would have thought Sirius Black would be the one to scream like that, two centimetres from a trembling MediWizard's face but no, Sirius Black was already on the floor, completely Petrified and Bound by one of Dumbledore's spells, spells he had to hold on to because the Animagus was fighting them even when he couldn't move.
On the other hand, the usually rational Remus was the one shouting, eyes completely golden and fangs bared dangerously, being barely held back by Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody. But then he simply sagged and collapsed on the floor, hiding his tears in his hands. "Harry…Oh God, Harry……"
Seeing that he was going to have a nervous breakdown if they didn't do anything soon, a nurse made him drink a phial of Dreamless Sleep potion without the man really realizing it.
Albus sighed. "I suggest we search Harry's room to find some clues as to who could have taken him away…And if they were enemies or allies."
"Why do you think an ally would kidnap him!" A ministry official blurted out.
The old man glared. "Because there would have probably been blood all over the floor. The instruments keeping Harry stabilized were obviously removed with care. A Death Eater would have been hard pressed to be careful about the boy's state."
An Auror slowly examining the room snorted softly, thinking no one could hear him. "Or they wanted him in the best condition possible to inflict more damage…"
He never saw Sirius break free of Albus' hold, never saw the spell that hit him and certainly didn't hear the small battle that followed to subdue the screaming Godfather of their missing hero.
"Ve vere successful, Milord. The boy has been retrieved." Two people bowed lowly in front of a third, who was currently sitting on a high chair decorated with thick animal fur.
"Good. Did you put him in the Guest Room?"
"As you ordered, Milord. But he is in terrible condition. The Vizards did not do a very good job of maintaining him alive."
The tall figure waved a hand dismissively and got up. A few shadows on each side of the wide room bent down further when the Master of the House glided by, a few whispering their disdain at having a human presence under their roof, especially a wizard...and a powerful one at that.
The Master snarled a silent threat at them, eyes glowing fiercely, and the shadows quickly made themselves sparse.
"Thank you Dmitriev, Sergeev. As alvays I knew I could count on you both. I vill look after the boy for a vhile. I ask you to do one last thing for me; deal vith anyone who plots against the vizard. He is in MY House and I vill not tolerate disobedience. You are dismissed."
"Ve live to serve, Milord." Both replied at the same time and bowed one last time, as custom. But one of the two called out before the Master could walk out; "Aleksandr, you should write a letter to the two men who vere looking after the boy. The dog and the Verevolf. They, at least, deserve to know vhere their charge is."
The taller Vampire Lord nodded subtly without sparing them a glance. "You are right, old friend. I vill heed your advice."
And then he vanished from their sight.
There wasn't any light in the guestroom but that didn't hinder him in the least; his eyes were almost glowing when they locked onto the comatose figure on the bed. He stalked slowly toward Harry Potter until he was right in front of the bed and fleetingly touched the boy's cheek and forehead, just a small caress.
"Even in your state your skin is varmer than mine. But Dmitriev and Sergeev vere right: you vould not have lasted long under their care. I sense something is missing in you. Perhaps it is that something that is preventing you from avakening. Or perhaps is it the vounds they could not treat in fear of damaging your body any more than it already is… No matter. I vill accelerate your recovery and then I vill see if you are truly vorthy of becoming our ally. I do hope I did not make a bad decision vhen I let you go on the battlefield."
He opened a drawer in a nearby nightstand and picked up a sharp looking dagger. Anyone else would have thought that the Vampire was going to kill the boy but he redirected the sharp point to his own wrist and made a quick jerking movement. He hissed softly when his lifeblood started to seep out and placed said appendage above the boy's mouth, slowly massaging the throat to work with his other hand.
"The Council vill be terribly mad at me for doing this but I do not really care at the moment. It vill help coax a response from your body and your vounds vill heal faster. I hope you vill be vorth all the trouble I vill go through vith the others."
He snatched his wrist back when he deemed enough blood had been ingested and licked the not so deep wound to prevent any blood spill. The slash disappeared slowly under his ministration and he got up, sending one last look at the boy before closing the door behind him.
The huge manhunt that ensued was chaotic, to say the least. False leads were pouring in from everywhere. The Aurors were trying to get their hands on the remaining Death Eaters as fast as possible and the population, by trying to help, wasn't helping at all.
St-Mungo's Director was in trouble with both Sirius Black and the Ministry for gross negligence, as well as the nurses who were in charge of checking on their patients at all times.
School went on with Dumbledore leading the Order's search party in his spare time and he had to hire a substitute teacher to replace Sirius, who wanted to devote his entire time to finding his Godson. Remus had also demanded that the treaty with the Werewolves be put on hiatus for the time being, ensuring that no Werewolves would trouble the Wizards all the while.
Time sped by.
Nobody ever heard news of the young man and Voldemort's remaining followers were clear: if they'd been the ones to capture Harry Potter they would have simply killed him. Note: after saying this, Sirius attacked them and they barely made it alive before being put into an Auror guarded Azkaban.
Winter was now well installed. Sirius and Remus both came back to Grimmauld Place with long faces again at another failure. Another day and still no news or clues as to the whereabouts of Harry. Opening the door while Remus watched for Muggles, they both gave their coats to a new House-Elf and went to the kitchen where they could hear voices.
It was an everyday occurrence since Sirius had donated his ancestor's house to the Order. But this time he was assaulted by Molly Weasley who brandished a letter in front of his face. Shacklebolt followed silently, looking at the Weasley Matriarch with a mild glare; apparently she had taken the letter from the Auror's grip without his authorization.
"Sirius! The Aurors found this letter in one of the Ministry's Muggle entrances! It's addressed to you and Remus and it has Harry's name on it!" As soon as she said that the Animagus almost jumped on the woman to get the letter. A couple more Order members came in the doorway and motioned for the two weary men to sit down in the kitchen.
Shacklebolt was still wearing his frown. "Careful, Black. It can very well be a trap."
"I'm desperate, Shacklebolt, but not moron enough to open this without first analyzing the envelope," Sirius grumbled.
Remus did it for him and after many revealing charms nothing wrong was found. The Animagus opened it carefully and started to read. Molly, who was looking over his shoulder, frowned in disappointment. "It's all blurred."
Remus, who was standing beside her and also looking at the piece of parchment, blinked at her. "I can read it perfectly fine."
Moody snorted loudly, making them jump a little. "Apparently, whoever wrote that letter only intended for Black and Lupin to read it. Can you tell us what it says?"
Sirius finished reading but when he tried to tell him where Harry was nothing came out of his mouth. Shacklebolt shook his head. "It's as you thought, Moody. Whoever wrote that is not an amateur. It looks like a part of the Fidelius process was used on the letter. But can you tell us if it mentions your Godson?"
Sirius opened his mouth. "Yes. It says he's still unconscious but that a special treatment is currently used on him to speed up Harry's recovery, at least the magical injuries. I don't have any more details on Harry's condition and while even the area in which he is currently being held is under Fidelius, it is too vague of a description to go look for him if I wanted to." The Animagus looked particularly peeved at this.
"Is it signed?" Percy Weasley asked from his place at the table, beating Moody to the next question.
Remus answered, frowning. "It says that we already encountered the one who is trying to cure Harry, although briefly and in the context it wasn't a pleasurable walk in the park. There are no names in the letter except Harry's, though the one who wrote this left his initials: A.M."
Everyone looked at each other, pondering on those two letters. A few names came out but were dismissed almost as fast. "It could be a false lead," Moody inserted, but Remus shook his head. "There's a trace of Harry's smell on the letter so the person must have been near Harry when they were writing it. But the other one I simply cannot identify. I'm sorry. What do you think, Sirius?"
The Marauder shook his head. "I really don't know to whom those initials belong to. We can always ask Dumbledore to check the letter for further clues, if possible. If not, I fear our only option will be to wait it out."
The room became silent, its occupants deep in thought.
He was in trouble, he concluded knowingly, when he received a summoning letter from the Honourable Council Leader just a few weeks after having taken the boy in. One of his big mouthed lesser servants had no doubt babbled a little too much for their own good. He glared at the yellowed piece of paper.
Two shadows bowed behind him.
"Dmitriev, Sergeev, someone here loves to gossip. Find them vhile I am avay, von't you?"
"Of course." Both smirked and got up. "Are you certain you vant to go alone, Aleksandr? One of us can go vith you."
The Master of the House shook his head slowly. "You vill not be of any use to me there. Just find that blabbermouth and make sure he knows vell enough to keep his mouth shut in the future." The command to keep Harry Potter safe in his absence wasn't voiced but omnipresent in the older man's eyes.
His two friends nodded and blended in the shadows until the Master couldn't feel their presence anymore.
Aleksandr sighed. "As the Muggles say: time to face the music." Using a special device similar to a Portkey he muttered a Russian incantation and disappeared in grey smoke.
Time sped by. A year, to be exact. To keep Sirius and Remus from having a nervous breakdown the Vampire Master had sent more letters to them. Harry's condition was stable, even though he had yet to wake up. His wounds were apparently all gone, or so the letter said, so both Marauders had to keep hoping the author of these letters wasn't making it all up.
Orion, Vega and Mathias had come out of the Forbidden Forest a couple of times to gather some news of Harry but never stayed long when Sirius told them he was still unconscious, wherever he was. Remus had started to work on the treaty again and had completed it a few months ago. The relation between the Ministry and the Werewolves was still tentative but it was better than before.
Sirius had gone back to teaching, as well as Severus, but now the Animagus never really talked much outside of class. Students could find him thinking, in his own world, in the middle of a corridor sometimes; they found it funny the first few times but they knew he was only thinking of his Godson's health and whereabouts.
No one had seen or heard of Nagini, Salazar or Hedwig since Harry's disappearance. Some fancied that they were with Harry, others thought the familiars were hiding in the Forbidden Forest or even in the Chamber of Secrets. Either way life went on.
"Vere is he?"
Sergeev turned around and bowed to his Master's guests; Sokolov, Solovei and Vetrov. All three were Council members and Master of their own respective clans.
It was decided one year ago, after much tedious arguing, that the human could stay under Aleksandr's protection, under his sole responsibility. If something happened, it would be blamed on the Mikhailov Clan's Leader and harsh actions would be taken. To make sure everything was in order, three Council Members would come to Mikhailov Coven once a week to ascertain the situation.
Sergeev liked two out of the three who came this day.
Sokolov was like an old falcon; fierce, wise and protective. The blond haired Solovei, one of the few women on the Council, represented her name as always; her voice was always calming with its sweet Nightingale timbre. Vetrov, though, was still young and always impulsive, coming and going like the wind. His moody personality gave him a bad reputation and he was one of the few who really did not want Harry to survive, as he was a Wizard, a mere mortal.
"He is in the young man's room, as alvays. Please follow me, I vill guide you to him." Sergeev tried to ignore Vetrov's low muttering behind him. As he was about to turn around and say something probably very foolish to the bearded Master, Solovei shushed him herself with a look.
"Ve are not here to slander Aleksandr's name in his own home, Vetrov. Aleksandr can stay in the boy's room all he vants; these times are peaceful and he can afford it."
The tactful reply made Sergeev smile; Vetrov always looked like a scolded childe when she interfered with her dulcet voice.
Suddenly, the floor began to shake. As they were about to grab hold of something to stay upright it ended, just as quick as it began. The shadows began to whisper harshly and Sergeev snarled at the lesser Vampires to keep silent.
Footsteps resounded in the empty hallways and Sergeev quickly noticed Dmitriev running towards them. "Vhat is going on? Vhat vas that rumbling!"
Dmitriev stopped in front of them and turned around just as fast, motioning at them to follow him. Sergeev wasn't worried anymore, though, because Dmitriev almost looked hopeful. "The tremor came from Harry Potter's chambers! The Master thinks he vill vake up soon! Come!"
When they arrived, Aleksandr was standing in the doorway. They could see why: there was a vivid light coming from inside and they all had to shield their sensitive eyes in order to take a peek in the bedroom.
"Vhat is going on! He vill destroy us all! Ve should kill the boy before he vakes up!"
Aleksandr hissed and spared Vetrov a brief warning glance. When the bright light finally started to subside, they were all surprised to see a Phoenix lying on the boy's chest.
"The missing piece…" Aleksandr muttered to himself, making the others glance at him questioningly. "It vas vhy he vouldn't vake up. This Phoenix is the representation of the boy's power and soul. Once his strength came back it vould also come back."
He then turned toward the creature. "Am I right?"
The fiery bird thrilled once in response and slowly burst in flames that swirled around before hitting the Wizard's cheek and down under the boy's night wear, burning something along its path. When it was finally over, the six Vampires entered the bedroom cautiously, the Council members more so than the Mikhailov Coven residents.
Aleksandr's eyes light up in recognition when he glimpsed at the cooling Phoenix tattoo on his protégé's cheek and neck and the magic wand lying where the Phoenix used to. On the young man's forehead, a lightning bolt shaped scar was glowing softly and mending under Aleksandr's watchful stare. He delicately lowered the boy's collar and saw the tattoo continuing downward.
He pulled his hands away so fast they looked blurry for an instant.
Green eyes opened a tad, just like little slits, and his mouth moved slowly before the Wizard sluggishly fell asleep again.
Silence reigned in the room, then: "It looks like I vill have to tell the cooks to prepare something light for the boy to eat."
Aleksandr blinked and looked at Sergeev. "Yes. Yes, something to eat. No blood."
He looked so delighted that the other Vampires did not deign roll their eyes at him.
Vetrov broke the moment when he walked out of the bedroom without a word, no doubt going back to the Council to announce the news of the boy's awakening. Solovei and Sokolov bid the mystified Vampire a good day, promising that they would keep in touch and left more quietly than their third companion.
Dmitriev put a hand on his Lord's shoulder and the older male quickly snapped back to reality. "Yes, yes. There is a lot to do! Things vill finally move faster now that he has voken up. Let's see if I did a good deed by letting him live." He hurried out of the room like a man with a new purpose in life and disappeared in the shadows.
Both his guards shared an amused look. "It looks like the boy vill have a lot vaiting ahead of him. Rare are the times vhen Aleksandr actually holds a genuine interest in someone other than another Vampire… The boy vill either be great, or be killed."
They walked out of the room and the door closed quietly behind them.
When Harry woke up again, it was to the sweet smell of warm soup. His stomach gurgled and he groaned, sitting upright with some difficulty. He heard laughter and stiffened, searching for his wand, but could not find it. It was then that two people came out of the shadows of his room.
But he wasn't in Hogwarts.
His eyes narrowed dangerously. "Who are you? Where am I?"
His magical aura stirred around him and both men lifted their hands in a surrendering gesture. "Ah, our guest is avake. Do not vorry, Harry Potter, if ve had vanted you dead ve vould have killed you already in your sleep."
The other man nodded. "You are in Mikhailov Coven, vhere exactly I vill not tell you. I am Sergeev, but you may call me Sergei, it is easier to pronounce. And here is my friend Dmitriev."
The one called Dmitriev smiled toothily, and Harry immediately noticed the pointed canines. "You may call me Dmitri. Ve vill be taking care of you vhile you recuperate, though I doubt it vill take long since our master made you drink some of his blood."
"What!" Harry gave them a shaken look.
"Oh, don't vorry! You probably know vhat ve are by now but know that ve did not bite you. Master simply gave you drops of his blood so you vould recuperate faster. Part of your soul vas gone vhen ve "found" you, you see. You just had to get your strength back before the Phoenix came back to you."
Harry stroked his cheek absentmindedly. He vaguely remembered hearing a Phoenix's song and getting a warm feeling in his heart, as well as seeing a blurry figure when he first woke up, but that was it. "Your master, was he here when I woke up?"
Sergei nodded. "So you remember. It was Master Aleksandr, but you saw him before."
At Harry's inquisitive look, he continued, "On the battlefield. He vas the one you fought briefly."
Harry blinked in recognition. "Ah, the Vampire who spared me."
Harry jumped and his hand moved on its own accord, releasing a quick cutting curse without thinking. Luckily the newcomer had fast reflexes and the wall now sported an indentation.
"Or vas it you who spared me?" A well shaped eyebrow quirked up when Harry gave Aleksandr a sheepish look.
"Sorry about that. Please don't surprise me again. I don't react well to that."
"Yes, I saw that. I apologize. I forgot how vizards become apprehensive in an environment not their own."
Harry shrugged. "You can't blame me. I woke up Merlin knows where surrounded by strangers. Sorry, but I'm not exactly popular with some crowds. You could have been Death Eaters, for all I know."
The one known as Sergeev, or Sergei, snorted. "The deceased Lord's followers? Impossible. They vere nearly all captured and/or killed a year ago."
Harry couldn't help it, he gaped. "A year? Are you fuckin' kidding me!" He then rasped his throat and his green eyes narrowed. "I think there's a lot you need to tell me."
Aleksandr nodded and sat down in a nearby chair, waving his guards away. They bowed, shared a look with the human on the bed and slid back into darkness. "First I think you'll be delighted to know that your Godfather and his Verevolf friend are alive and vell." He kept on when he saw Harry visibly letting a shaky breath out and relax on the bed. "The vizarding vorld vas still reorganizing vhen I ordered your "kidnapping…"
And Harry listened, his eyes fixed on the Vampire's golden ones.
"…Wow, I didn't think so much had happened since that day. And I was really given the Order of Merlin First Class?" Harry asked curiously after hearing Aleksandr's story. He had finished the soup a while ago and now both Aleksandr's guards were back.
The Master nodded, smirking. "Yes. You must be the first one to have actually received the avard vhile in a coma. Congratulations."
Harry sighed and muttered under his breath while Sergeev and Dmitriev approached their friend to whisper something in his ear. The only human present in the Coven watched as Aleksandr's lips tightened and he got up gracefully. He then turned towards Harry without so much a trace of worry and offered the boy a helping hand, which he took.
The Vampire Master led Harry out of the room but calmed the boy's suspicions by saying he had to meet with the Council in order for them to see he was not a threat. Harry accepted, he had no choice in the matter anyway, but if things got out of hand he at least still had his wand with him. A shame Nagini wasn't, though. Or Salazar.
Hm, now he felt nostalgic. He just realized he greatly missed their presence, as well as Hedwig's. And as soon as this task was finished he was going to write to Sirius and Remus. Merlin, the poor men were probably worried sick about him. He thought back and now his hands were itching to sign those adoption papers. The thought of going back to a safe Hogwarts made him internally giddy and he mentally scolded himself to calm down as the Vampires beside him could sense his shift in behaviour.
Sergei did eye him briefly but no one said a word as they arrived in a large room, more like a study. Harry couldn't help but look around him at all the foreign objects and admire the black marble walls. "Find anything interesting?"
Harry startled and Aleksandr had the gall to find it amusing. "Well, it's a very…impressive room. It's beautiful."
"Vait until you see the rest of the Coven, then. But for now hold my hand and don't let go; ve vill be going to another Coven by a means similar to your Portkeys. I assure you the trip is not as turbulent, though." He quickly added when the green eyed young man watched the item in his hands with distaste and a lot of mistrust. 'Hm, a bad experience vith Portkeys, I see.'
But the human still put his hands tentatively on the Vampire's and the object in question. And they were off.
He was going to have to reign in his temper if he wanted to make a good impression, Harry concluded. Most of the Vampire guards here were looking at him with distrust so Aleksandr had to walk pretty close to him just in case one of them decided to have a drink.
A large set of doors was opened in front of them and they quietly walked in, Harry taking in any means of escape possible and looking at all the Vampires present. "Are all of them Lords?" The green eyed boy murmured softly to his companion.
"You have a good eye. Yes, they are all from different Covens all over the world. I sense you are nervous with this."
Harry and Aleksandr were asked to stand in the middle of the huge gothic-like room.
"Who wouldn't be? After all, I did kill a few back in Diagon Alley last year."
The Mikhailov Lord chuckled so softly Harry almost didn't hear. "They vill not hold it against you. The five Lords that vere killed vanted to follow Voldemort like puppies. True Vampires remain free of any master who vould vant to enslave them. They vere weak and vere going to be eliminated anyvay, by your hands or by ours."
Harry nodded and turned his attention to the now silent Council in front of him. He surmised that the row in front of him was comprised of all the most influential Vampires so he mostly kept his attention there. Behind them was a dark corner where he could sense someone was hiding. Or maybe just sitting? A black almost see-through cloth was hiding the person from being seen.
"So this is him. Harry Potter, Zarubin. The one who set in motion last year's war."
Harry looked in front of him again when one of the Councilmen broke the silence. Aleksandr nodded, his face as serious as theirs.
"He shouldn't be here! We should kill him now before he turns against us!"
Both men standing in the middle eyed Vetrov who had spoken, situated to their right amongst the ordinary council members. Harry recognized him from earlier when he had first woken up; the one with obvious distaste for humans.
Aleksandr tensed beside him when Vetrov's shout stirred others into following his opinion.
The voice gave Harry shivers and he gazed back in front of him, choosing to ignore the other voices around him. "Tell me, Zarubin, what are your intentions now?"
Harry blinked and he mouthed 'Zarubin?' inquisitively to Aleksandr, who motioned towards his forehead. 'Your scar.' He mouthed back. The black haired boy nodded. "Well, I'd like to live in peace for once. And maybe learn more about Vampires. Couldn't we create an Alliance? Lord Mikhailov told me that the Werewolves had finally signed a treaty with our Ministry."
'Wrong thing to say,' Harry thought with a wince when nearly all of the Vampires started to shout at once, their eyes becoming redder by the second. Once again a hand motion from the old Vampire made them stop, but this time even the oldest members looked insulted. Not a good prospect.
"Impossible. We do not trust your ministry enough to propose such a thing."
"Ack, ja! Ve vill not be put down as inferior beings!"
"Il a raison. Nous serions traités comme des chiens et suivis par le Ministère, obligés d'obéir à des règlements impossible à suivre pour assurer notre survie!"
Harry had heard enough when nearly all of them voiced their opinion against the possible idea of a treaty. But he did understand this: they also wanted to live in peace.
"Then do it with me!" He cried out, making one of them stop in mid-sentence. "If you don't trust the Ministry enough, trust me! Lord Mikhailov does!...I think... I hardly ever use my popularity, but I know I hold enough power in the Wizarding World as the defeater of Voldemort to actually make the Wizards trust in my opinion. If anything goes wrong I can be the mediator. Remus created a treaty with the Werewolves, which was thought impossible, and I created a treaty with the Centaurs. But the Centaurs don't answer to the Ministry! They're not my slaves either, they're my friends! We're simply there for each other if a problem arises and we need support. Why couldn't we do the same?"
Silence greeted his statement.
Then Aleksandr laughed and slapped his back, making Harry huff a little. "I knew I liked him! I can vouch for him if you'd like me to." Aleksandr wasn't looking at the Council members anymore, but at the person hidden in the shadows behind the ten oldest Vampires.
Harry heard a raspy voice replying in a language he didn't recognize but Aleksandr must have since he nodded. The Councilmen looked a bit put out of place at what was said since a good number of them fidgeted in their seats. Sokolov, whom Harry also recognized, gazed at him with piercing eyes. "Then how could ve seal this deal and know you vill not turn against us?"
Harry looked around him. "So I would just need a trusted Vampire partner to create a viable treaty for us all?"
The Councilmen nodded. "Then I already have one, if you approve of him." He put a hand on a baffled Aleksandr's shoulder.
Once again the Vampire hiding in the shadows spoke up, making the leading Council member nod. "Lord Mikhailov will do. But how do you intend to seal this deal?"
Harry thought it carefully and an official piece of parchment appeared in his hands. "There. All the conditions mentioned are written and we only have to sign this; I'll send it to the Ministry so it will become official that you have created an Alliance, not with them but with me."
Aleksandr read it over and nodded in satisfaction. "This is safe, no hidden clause." He pricked his index finger on one of his sharp fangs and signed his name in blood.
Harry levitated the parchment towards the shadowed Vampire so he or she could also read it and approve. The parchment came back with an additional signature in blood, which surprised the Mikhailov Lord, as well as all the other Vampires present.
'This person must really be important if it surprises even Vampire Lords…I wonder who it is…' Harry silently wondered while signing his own name on the paper; the signature next to Aleksandr's wasn't written in a readable dialect, at least not one he knew of. He then rolled the parchment and it disappeared after an incantation.
"And then to seal the deal between Lord Mikhailov and I…"
They all looked on curiously at was he was going to do. Harry's eyes lit up when he spotted what he was searching for and he walked to a table set not too far from him. Harry transfigured a quill into a transparent wine glass and brought it to his treaty partner, who took it with a raised eyebrow.
Harry smiled up at him. "I can think of no other means to link us together in a more official Vampire way." He explained while bringing his wand out. Vampires all around him tensed, preparing to attack. But he only murmured "Scindo" while pointing towards his wrist.
Aleksandr gasped when Harry pressed his newly made wound against the wine glass and couldn't help but take a strong whiff of the fresh smell of blood that assaulted his senses.
"You made me drink some of your blood to make me heal faster so I can't think of a better way to show you my trust and gratitude." He took his wrist back and murmured a minor healing charm when the glass was finally filled enough.
"That, and I couldn't help but notice you really wanted to drink my blood on the battlefield," the young man added jokingly.
Aleksandr chuckled with a look of pleasure still etched on his face. "Vell that vas unexpected, but I really appreciate this proof of your faith in me."
The Vampires around them nodded, still surprised at such a show of trust between a human wizard and a vampire.
When the blood finally touched his tongue and flowed down his throat Aleksandr barely refrained from moaning in delight. "Yes, I think ve vill be getting along just fine."
Sirius fidgeted again in his seat, sloshing a little bit of Butterbeer on the wooden table. Remus looked up from his reading, quirked a smile at his friend and looked down again. He appeared calm, as always, but he was a nervous wreck. He was clutching at Harry's letters so tightly that he heard a rip and Sirius sent him a look. The Werewolf sighed and decided it would be better to let go of the parchments before he tore them apart; Sirius would not appreciate it.
He couldn't wait to finally see Harry again. It felt to him as if he hadn't seen Harry in years; the first letter he had sent them had been a blessing and when they had received news from the Ministry that a new contract had been signed between the Potter heir and the Vampires it had further proven the fact that he was indeed alive and the letters Sirius and he had received weren't forged.
Dumbledore had been able to get a look, at their request, at the document in question. It was a true binding magical contract and it had been signed by three people: Harry James Potter himself, Aleksandr Mikhailov of the Mikhailov Coven and an unknown Vampire, possibly an Elder or THE Elder, if the obscure dialect was anything to go by.
At least now they knew that the one who had sent them letters about Harry's condition was the Mikhailov Coven's Lord himself, which fit the initials A.M. to the bill.
The Ministry hadn't been happy that Harry had signed a contract without them, at first. The Daily Oracle had had a blast with this one, claiming that Harry was beginning to replace Lord Voldemort by gathering new Dark Forces. The rumours had quickly been denied and the offending articles corrected after the population started to support Harry in his decisions. Sirius hadn't even had to do anything this time to defend his Godson's honour. Remus smirked at that thought. 'Oh, he'd been so pissed…'
The door opened slowly, the song of bells faintly echoing in the background noise. Nobody really noticed the new arrival at first, until a snowy owl flew swiftly inside right as the door was closing. Rosmerta swatted at the bird and stalked to the stranger with a frown on her face. "I'm sorry sir but animals aren't permitted ins-" She stopped in mid-phrase and stared as the newcomer lowered his hood and looked at her with a raised eyebrow and a playful smirk etched on his lips.
She was about to scream in joy when he motioned at her to stay silent. She slapped a hand on her mouth to stop any incoming sound and nodded quickly, almost jogging to him to take his cloak off of his shoulders. "We'll talk later?" He said with a soft smile. She returned it and shot a quick glance towards the remaining Marauders before going back to work, grinning like no tomorrow.
Eyes widened and followed his movements as he walked towards the back of the pub, but nobody dared to get up to talk to him, respecting his silent wishes. Add he fact that a snake was silently hissing on his shoulders and it deterred the rest.
Green eyes sparkled when he noticed both men hadn't even seen him yet. "My, my, I'm feeling quite left out. You didn't even order me a Butterbeer. Did you really miss me as much as you wrote in your letters?"
He laughed out loud when Remus got up so fast the papers he held in his hands, his letters, he noticed, flew everywhere and scattered on the floor. Sirius was already in front of him, trying to strangle him in a suffocating hug.
The Werewolf swatted at Sirius and shoved him aside so he could also hug the young man.
"Yes, I'm back." He then laughed when he heard Nagini's disgruntled hissing fit. "Sorry I'm a little late. I had to stop in the Forbidden Forest to get Hedwig and Nagini and I fell upon Salazar as well. Then a Centaur found me and you know…I just had to say hello to Orion and the rest of the clan. I couldn't stay too long so I promised them to come back another time."
Remus blinked back a few tears of happiness and took a step back, eyeing him carefully. "You look totally healed. And aren't you a little taller? What are those clothes you're wearing?"
Sirius motioned for them to sit down and asked for another Butterbeer for Harry.
"Well, it's a long story." Harry's cheeks reddened slightly. "But yeah, I am a little taller. And I didn't have enough time to change into normal Wizard clothes. Besides, I rather like these. Aleksandr had them made for me."
Sirius patted the soft black Vampire-styled clothing in admiration. "Isn't that Acromantula silk?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I rather like it. I didn't ask him for such expensive clothes but the order had already been made. So I accepted the gift graciously."
"Wow, you'll have to tell me everything about it."
"Only if you tell me in detail everything that's happened while I was gone," the youngest of the three replied.
"But first!" Remus interrupted, making them both look at him inquisitively, "you'll have to sign this. I think we all waited long enough."
Sirius jumped slightly in his chair when Remus pulled a rolled piece of parchment out of his pocket and the Animagus grinned and nodded excitedly. "Yes, that's priority number one."
Harry looked at them both as if they were crazy before unrolling the parchment. His eyes softened and he smiled a true smile when he read and recognised the first few lines written on the paper. He didn't even read the rest before he conjured a quill and promptly signed his name beside the two other signatures.
The parchment swiftly disappeared and the three sat back in their chairs, feeling the magic at work. "Welcome to the family, little Prongs." Sirius grinned and both he and Remus put a hand on Harry's. "Yes, welcome to the family, Harry."
Harry closed his hands around both of theirs and closed his eyes, letting a few stray tears leak.
"It's good to be home."
Oh. My. GOD. Is this the end! I think it is! ( lol ) I leave to your imagination everything that's happened while Harry was at the Coven and everything that will happen afterwards. If you think that Aleksandr made passes at Harry and it pleases you, well good! If you don't like it, just think that Vampires are sexual creatures and that it was just in his nature to act like that. Everybody will be happy this way. And no way in Hell am I making an Epilogue about "19 years later"…You get my drift?
Now that it's finally over, I will try to correct a few mistakes in the story and post the chapters back up all revamped. I kept all the reviews telling me where to find errors (grammatical and or story-wise) so it'll go faster. Thanks for those, guys! They'll greatly help me. Maybe I'll get a beta to read it over afterwards, I'll see.
Now you have a decision to make. You can either answer in a review or in the poll I set-up in my bio-profile.
I MAY write some sort of INDEPENDENT sequel (only ONE chapter) that can be tied or not to the main story. It would concern Harry and Aleksandr so this would be for slash lovers only. I don't want to hear complaints or see flames from slash haters. You would be in no obligation to read this chapter; I could create it as a new story so you wouldn't have to read it directly from this one. I will follow the poll results. I am doing this because I received quite a few requests for a Harry/Aleksandr story and since I don't want to lose readers from this fic I am willing to separate it so you can still read this one and see Harry without a slash shipping.
This is it, people, make your choice. Remember that flames have never been, and still aren't, tolerated. You don't like the story, you just don't read it! Why take the time to read and flame if you just don't like it? Close the window and change story, that's all.
I want to thank EVERYONE who reviewed the story and encouraged me the whole time! You guys are the greatest in the whole world! (sniffles)
See you (maybe) in the independent sequel!
Your devoted slave and fic-writer,