X - Aftermath

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A/N: I've been gone so long, I'm sorry! But thanks to the recent people who've favorited/alerted this story (those who didn't review, I know who you are!!! T.T) I am finally able to haul my ass to continuing! I won't lie, I had to force myself to go over this chapter repeatedly because it's SO below the standard I've set for myself. (must... be... better!) But saving your reviews, and pondering over them helped me get into the mood, at least. So take time to shake your own hand. O.o erm, or applaud yourself.

This is my second attempt, the first version (called "Awakening") was worse. I had so much more planned, but had to cut it down as it reached 30 pages (ohmagod.) This is quite choppy because there are many characters and things going on that I haven't time to explain. I tried my best not to make Harry as much of a sissy than what Tai already pointed out (haunts me), but as I reviewed the plot, I must warn you that he'll be... debauched. A LOT.

Many people will dislike this chapter, but I must say that this is the START of many things, so please bear with it. Also, before you ask questions like "what happened to so-and-so?", "what about this-and-that?" and "who the hell is he?" please remember that Harry, amongst others, is attempting to recover from a mighty blow, and might not be thinking over everything in detail. It's true that I am the god of my own fic, but even gods love to be loved, and hate to be hated. So please don't hate me, especially for... that. Over there... Err.. You'll see.

Lastly, I've also inserted a few original walk-in characters. Remember, the student population is about 280 students (5 male + 5 female times 7 for level, times 4 for house) so I got room to pick some unimportant people.

Now, shall we start where we left off?

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Harry Potter had almost forgotten that the supplies closet was frigid, charmed as such to preserve the stored ingredients. He hugged his bare torso and clamped his teeth shut, peering outward where father and son where confronting each other. Harry could barely make out his own ruffled black hair by Draco's side.

"Father, as you see, I've caught Potter," came Draco's cocksure voice, but Lucius, standing tall and broad-shouldered, only eyed his son with great distaste.

"Dare you attempt to lie to your own flesh and blood, Draco? You killed Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott."

Draco said nothing, and from Harry's vantage point he noticed that the blonde's nape was fresh with sweat.

"You are just like your despicable Godfather," continued Lucius, seething as he watched his son stiffen, "Or, you didn't know? Severus is the spy. Bella has caught him singlehandedly tonight."

The news seemed to have shocked Draco, but Snape's capture was a bigger blow to Harry, who had immediately recalled the horrible fight he had had with the professor. Snape was caught. What would happen to him? Would he be killed? Could they save him? Harry struggled to keep from making a sound, but it was a great effort. His gut felt empty as he shelved the utter panic that was trying to control him. Don't do anything stupid, he thought to himself, attempting to focus on the ongoing suspense with a heavy sort of dread.

"Yes, Draco," Lucius was confirming, "Traitors do get caught."

Draco seemed to be containing his own demons as he shook his head, "F-father. I've caught Potter and wish to exchange him for my life."

At this, Lucius stilled for a moment, then his eyes drifted towards the Potter passed out on the floor, robes strewn about him. Silver eyes glinted for a moment, before gazing upon his son, "A barter change, is it?"

"Yes."

"I don't believe you," snarled Lucius.

Adrenaline surged within Harry's veins, and he made a grab for his wand before realizing he no longer had it. Shit! He thought, watching the scene unfold, what could I do?

Nevermind. If worst comes to worse, he'd leap out of the storage room, dodge several curses, tackle Lucius to the ground and knock him unconscious.

Yeah right.

"Then are you going to kill me?" Asked Draco, his voice becoming softer, submissive. Harry held his breath as Lucius moved closer towards his son, wrinkling a brow.

"There is no choice in the matter, Draco," whispered Lucius in a somber tone, "We can only follow the Dark Lord or perish. I thought I had taught you that."

Draco shook his head as he stepped back, " On either side of the war, we will perish, father, but we always have a choice... And I will choose my own death."

They stared at each other in silence. But Draco seemed to have struck a nerve, for the veins in Lucius' throat tightened noticeably. "Fool of a boy! I have been working long and hard to ensure us a safe and wealthy life together!"

In one swift movement he had struck Draco with the back of his fist. The boy's head swung to the side, and blood shot out of his lips, but he remained immobile. Lucius was not pacified.

"How dare you try to destroy my work! Do you want a life of hatred and fear? Do you want our family broken and shamed? Do you want to mingle with the sods of the earth, those wretched powerless mudbloods?! Without the Dark Lord's favor, we will be ostracized from society! Do you want to end up in Azkaban?"

It was a silence so tense that Harry was aware of his own quiet breathing, and even his own quick pulse. Harry couldn't see Draco's face, but knew that the blonde dared not look up, even as his malleable, submissive voice carried out a cold fury.

"Will we be any better being Voldemort's slaves, father?"

Instead of placating Lucius, this only infuriated him. The older man suddenly lifted his wand, but instead of taking towards his son, he charged towards the Potter on the floor, and dragged him to his feet.

Harry, still hidden within the supplies closet, watched his double's head loll back and forth as Lucius' large splayed hand pinned him upright against the broad chest.

"Is this his work, Draco?" breathed Lucius raggedly, his wand denting the soft flesh in Potter's throat, "Does this boy's naïve ideals appeal to you? Did he mess with your mind, making you think that childish notions of trust and forgiveness will protect you?"

Draco's voice was tight, "It is my will to get away from the Dark Lord. I'm selling him to you, asking only to spare my life."

"The Dark Lord will kill me if I let you be."

"The Dark Lord will be too happy with Potter's capture to notice," Draco retorted.

Harry was amazed with Draco's quick thinking, and only hoped that he would be just as adept to the end. In the back of his mind he realized that the cold inside the closet was making him feel numb and sleepy, but he battled to keep awake, to be aware of his surroundings, and to make sure his Occlumency shields would not betray him.

Lucius was breathing harshly, and his cheek brushed against Potter's wild, black hair.

"So you sell your lover for yourself, Draco? Is that what this is?"

Draco shook his head, his hands clenched into fists, "He's nothing but a toy to me."

It was then that Harry noticed Lucius' strange behavior. His left hand was inching beneath student robes, and he was pushing the smaller body against his own. Harry even saw a pink tongue flick against the curve of the other Potter's ear.

"I am beginning to understand your lust now, Draco," purred Lucius huskily, burying his nose against the unconscious Potter's neck, "He is an exquisite thing."

The real Harry gaped as he watched. He could see Draco heaving, struggling to control himself.

"That is... not appropriate, father." the younger blonde bit out. Lucius only laughed.

"'Not appropriate?' What farce! I see blind rage in your eyes. Blind rage for a toy, or for a lover, I wonder?" He began roughly groping his captive, hands sliding underneath trousers while he devoured the boy's neck with seductive ferocity. And all the while keeping his sharp, silver eyes on his son.

"My, but he is exquisite..." he teased, "As if he had been born to be a plaything... Surely I can bring this home instead of your head. Imagining myself sinking into his body, I almost can't wait..."

"Go right on ahead then!" Draco suddenly yelled, the sharpness in his voice a definite contrast to his earlier submissiveness. He threw Harry's wand at his father's feet, his fists clutched so tightly that they begun to draw out blood.

"So I shall," Lucius gave one last tongue sweep against Potter's jugular, then pulled him up upon his shoulder. He was so tall, so broad a man that there was barely any indication of effort as he stood, carrying his captive. He called forth Harry's wand to his hand before eyeing Draco once more and turning his back.

"Draco," he said softly, "I should kill you right now, whether or not you barter for life. But I shall spare you... if... if only for the efforts you've given in this raid."

He turned back slightly, and Harry realized that despite the derisive attitude, Lucius' eyes were filled with pain.

"However, make no mistake. The next time I see you, I will kill you. You have shamed the Malfoys for the last time. Now I shall see how you will fare as vermin on the mudblood side."

He began to walk out of the door, quietly and gracefully despite the body strewn across his right shoulder, clutching both his and Harry's wands.

"Thank you, father," Draco whispered, sinking down to his knees. Lucius seemed to have heard, for he stilled in his tracks, and Harry was worried that he would change his mind and kill his son. But then Lucius spoke, and there was only a dead emptiness in his voice.

"Dare you use the Malfoy name again and I shall perish every single proof of your existence that I have in my keeping."

He walked away, closing the door behind him, closing behind any connection to the only son he had. Draco, for his part, didn't say a word, not for a long time. Harry waited for what it seemed like hours before he crawled out of the supplies closet, a shivering entity from head to toe. Squeezing the numbness out of his fingers, Harry clenched his fists and staggered to where Draco knelt.

When Harry finally faced the blonde he was surprised to see tear-stained cheeks, and a worn, defeated expression. By all accounts, Draco had been as silent as the grave, staring at the motionless doors of the classroom. Harry knelt down in concern, placing a frigid hand on the blonde's shoulder.

"He thinks I've sold your life for mine," said the blonde, his voice cracking as he tried to restrain a sob. His hands clawed upon Harry's torso, "But the truth is, Harry, I've sold his life for yours."

Harry took the blonde into his arms. Both boys felt so cold.

---

It was a silent, ominous castle that greeted them. The portraits that once hung on the stone walls were slashed or empty, some even blasted from their centuries-old frames. Suits of armor were toppled over or crushed by heavy magic. A chandelier was half-torn from the ceiling, swinging precariously to and fro as if daring itself to fall. Ruby curtains were strewn about, dusty and tattered, wrapping themselves to what was left in the aftermath. Several students laid broken and still on the cold floor, littering the corridors like leaves in autumn. The school ran red with blood.

Hogwarts was devastated.

Yes, this was the Hogwarts that Harry and Draco found as they emerged from the dungeons, barely scathed. Harry, wrapped in Malfoy's cloak, stood flabbergasted at the end of the bloodied corridor, his eyes trailing the splatter of blood on the walls— splatters that reeked of stench and decay. Draco, who had been at Harry's side, staggered back, breathing raggedly. "Merlin. Let's get out of here."

Harry didn't reply. He didn't move. He was thinking about how this had all happened. How the ghostly green whoosh of Avadra Kedavra must have lit the halls as it swept up and snatched living breath. He wondered— how many were murdered? How did these students fare in their last moments? Were the Death Eaters asking where he had hidden? Did they bare their teeth and say that Harry Potter caused all this, caused their terror and pain and death, before sending their victims to their doom?

"Potter, lets get out of the castle. No one survived."

In one swift motion Harry's knees buckled, and he caught his own messy black hair with his hands, pulling at it savagely. He let out a long wail that thundered down the silent halls and shook the numerous puddles of blood.

"Potter!" Draco yelled, aghast.

"I should've helped—" the Gryffindor gasped out in between his cries, "I should have— this was my fault— I should have fought – should have saved – should have surrendered—"

Malfoy slapped him hard, his eyes wide and terrified at the thought of his only companion going mad.

"Snap out of it, Boy-Who-Lived!" Draco swung another blow to Harry's cheek, but the Gryffindor caught his wrist with a bone-crushing grasp, muttering something inaudible as his gaze swept the corridors. Draco wasn't sure whether Harry was talking to him or to the dead bodies around them, but either way the thought freaked him out. He hit the raven-head on the head, "Don't fucking go wankers on me, Potter!"

And in a flash Harry came upon Draco in a tight embrace, his head buried onto the blonde's chest as he tried his best to muffle apologies. Draco flinched at the initial contact, but as he realized what his companion was doing, he was suddenly torn between wanting to beat the stupid, hysterical nutter to a pulp or take him gently into his arms. And he detested himself for conforming to the latter; accepting Harry into his embrace, left hand raking through the tresses of black hair.

Harry stopped wailing like a wounded animal, and everything seemed suddenly calmer.

In his head, Harry believed the weight of guilt was physically killing him— drawing his heart and innards into a tight fist, milking every ounce of remorse from his being. At the same time, his mortification upon snappinglike a sissy left a bitter taste in his mouth... and beyond feeling these things, he could also feel the blonde's lips on his forehead, a gentle touch caressing the scar that in so many ways, had been the cause of Hogwart's gruesome pillage.

Harry sighed. Draco's lips were warm, and they traveled to his temple, down to his ear, to his cheek, and then came upon his own in a tingling kiss.

But in that moment, Severus Snape's eyes pierced through Harry's heart, and he suddenly pulled away, staring at the blonde with a mixture of embarrassment and confusion.

Draco looked only hurt.

"I just don't understand you, Potter," he said bitterly.

Harry did not know what to say, because he could barely understand it himself. He stared at Draco for a moment, trying to distinguish whether Draco's face was masked with spite or if it was genuine hurt. When he realized he didn't want to know, he instead faced away, flushing.

"I have to find my friends."

Draco gave a disgusted look, "They're dead."

"You— you can't assume everything, Malfoy."

Silver eyes flickered. The name seemed to have stung Draco, but at that point Harry was growing single-minded that he did not notice, "They may be alive. And if they're hurt they're relying on me to help. You won't stop me from looking for them."

Harry made a move to stand, but Draco caught his arm and tugged him back down, "You selfish, self-righteous—"

At that moment they felt something at the end of the corridor. Both boys paused, turning as a fragile whisper drifted from the darkness. Harry squinted, watching as several dead bodies, piled on the floor, stirred.

Draco suddenly pulled at him, "Bones."

Harry gave him a puzzled look till he realized Draco had uttered a name. He glanced back and spotted someone small trying to wriggle out from underneath a pile of corpses. Harry immediately sprinted towards her, giving her a gentle hand. She trembled.

"I... I..." Susan Bones muttered, caving in to him, "they're gone, my friends, they protected..they thought that... oh Merlin.."

She began sobbing and clawing at the Slytherin cloak Harry was wearing to keep warm, spilling blood all over it. Harry tried to avoid grazing the large puncture wound on her arm, not wanting to hurt her.

He cursed when he realized he had no wand to heal her with. Oh, he knew that he could simply pick up a random one, but since it was not his own, it would be dangerous to heal her wounds. Ollivander had said that the wand chose the wizard, which was why each wand had a unique core. A wand not meant for him would only have a greater percentage for screwing up.

And he wasn't about to test said screw ups on Susan's deadly injury. That being the matter, Harry had no choice but to turn to Draco, who was now beside him, making a face at the girl as if he found her repugnant.

"Draco," Harry said, urgently, "close her wound."

"I think—"

"Draco."

The stern look apparently worked, for Draco rolled his eyes and whipped his wand out. He began mimicking Harry's 'Draco' as if having to rebel in some other way, but Harry didn't have the energy to reprimand him. He helped Susan to her feet and steadied her as they began.

Draco gave a flick, and immediately the fabric of her clothes neatly pulled back, and the seams of her puncture began to weave. In a few silent minutes, she was as good as whole.

It was clear that Draco was very skilled in healing, but from the way Susan moved it was obvious that a phantom pain still lingered. She would not let Harry go, and even if her nails were digging into his flesh, he didn't pull her away.

"Draco. I'll make it up to you. Please just take a look at the others to see if any of them are alive," Harry whispered, as Susan began to sob against his chest, "Heal those you can."

Draco looked at him in a way that said, 'And if I don't?'

Harry glared, exasperated. "You have no reason to feel rebellious—"

"Of course I do. I never take orders from a half-blood—"

"—Let's discuss our dysfunctional pedigrees at another time," sniped Harry, who paused, allowing the jibe to sting, "Right now, we are in the middle of a devastated castle in a war-torn country whose assailants are after both our blood. Got that? We can't survive alone, so it's only plausible if we gather as much as we can. You want to live, don't you?"

"Is that your way of twisting your altruistic deeds to suit my personality?"

Harry gave a half-hearted shrug, "Perhaps I have always twisted every selfish decision into an altruistic cause. Now please, I beg you--"

"Don't get your knickers in a tizzy, I'm at it."

---

Hours passed, and though they had found survivors, the collective mood remained downcast. Harry began to feel the spasms of terrible hunger, but he said not a word. He remained kneeling, trying to find a pulse on a little Hufflepuff, but when he had found nothing, he shut her pale blue eyes close.

A shadow drifted upon him and Harry looked up to find glaring silver eyes.

"It's no use, Potter, I don't have Madam Pomphrey's expertise. I was never interested in life magic."

Harry shrugged. "We have no choice, she's been missing ever since her summons as medic to King's Cross."

"Fuck—you think I don't know that?" Draco bit out.

"Now now," said a deep voice from behind them, "no need to get into a cat fight, little pussies."

Harry turned, glaring at no other than Zacharias Smith, the infamous Hufflepuff-turned-Slytherin, who had his hands in his pockets and a twisting smirk upon his features.

In Hogwarts, Zacharias Smith had grown up malicious and rude-- much like the trashier Slytherins he hung out with, so it came as no surprise when in their fourth year he requisitioned a house transfer. The entire process was dubbed 'house-swapping' and was extremely rare. When the rumors got to them, Harry and Ron first thought that this was completely made-up, but then Hermione had pointed it out in Hogwarts, A History. It was a process vouched by Rowena Ravenclaw, who made Hogwarts timeless by allowing rules to bend for different circumstances. (True, many students from Slytherin families attempted to transfer if they fell under another house, or vice versa, but reasons like these were hardly accepted.)

Transferring was a difficult ordeal because aside from having one other student to swap with, the applicants also needed the consent of the Head of House, his peers, and most importantly, the approval of the Sorting Hat (which was loathe to change its mind). Zacharias Smith and Shawn Montgomery were the first students in twenty years to have had a successful transfer.

But what did come as a surprise was to find out Smith had nothing to do with the raid. Harry, Draco and Susan had found him coughing out blood from behind the Witch-King statue, a long deep gash slashed down one eye and covering most of his cheek. Draco and Harry debated heatedly on whether to trust the slimy git, before restoring him and agreeing that they would keep Smith close by to ensure his good behavior.

Apparently, it didn't keep Smith as tight on the leash as they had wanted.

"Why don't you just shut it, Smith," snapped Harry, annoyed, "I'm in no mood for—"

Smith snarled, the scar on his face ugly and unglamorous, "You shut up, Boy-Who-Lived, where the hell were you when your posse needed you?"

For a moment Harry was stunned, and then he shook his head, looking squarely into the Slytherin's eyes, "What happened to you? As a Hufflepuff, you used to be tolerable."

Smith sneered, "None of your bloody business, pint."

"You should shut your fat gap," Draco snarled, stepping forward, "bloody fucktard—"

"—This stupid conversation is going nowhere," thundered Harry, causing the two angry Slytherins to pause, "and we will have others' blood on our hands if we keep wasting time."

They watched wordlessly as Harry stood to his feet, hesitating for a moment as if formulating a plan.

"Fine. Change of tactics— lets delegate everything to save time and lives. Draco, find out how to free the house elves. I heard they're trapped in the Kitchens with a Dark curse, and I have all confidence in your knowledge there. Once we get them free everything would be easier. "

Harry turned and nodded towards Susan, "Go with Smith and search for anyone who may still be alive. Assist them to the Great Hall, where it's spacious and easier to move around. Don't stray too far yet, because there may be some Death Eaters or traitors that got left behind..."

Then he smiled at Terry Boot, the lone, silent Ravenclaw slumped against the wall, who had watched all the dramatic scenes nonchalantly.

"Boot, Please levitate these injured to the Great Hall. Stay there because we'll all meet in the Great Hall in the end."

Harry paused again before picking up the wand he had acquired during their search, "I'll run down to the infirmary and raid whatever medical supplies I can, and bring them over to the Hall. Does anyone have any complaints with this?"

Immediately Smith folded his hands to his chest, "Who made you boss, pompous Gryffindor—"

"—If you have any better ideas," interjected Harry, "Please. Indulge us."

Smith halted for a moment, then stared at him long and hard, at a loss for words. Harry gave a satisfied nod, but before he could turn away Malfoy cocked his head and leaning back against the wall.

"I say we sit here and wait till the Ministry arrives, so we don't have to go through all this—"

"I will not sit here like a lazy fool," replied Harry, turning, "while there is something I can do."

Draco only stared at the back of the Gryffindor's head, "You and your Gryffindor impulses."

"Draco, if there are still Death Eaters around, or if they realize they haven't really gotten me and come back, what then? Will we be able to fight them, the five of us? It's in our best interests to get as many allies as we can."

"You just want to save lives," said Draco, rolling his eyes.

"You just want to live," replied Harry.

---

In their second year, Snape had taught them a very important principle in Potions, cited from Nicolas Flamel. "Changing the slightest property is akin to adding a an ingredient." Snape had brutally interrogated his class about it, and everyone only stopped cowering when Hermione had raised a shaky hand. She pointed out that altering a volatile potion's properties even slightly— say, shrinking its mass, would cause it to react as if another ingredient was added.

This memory was the reason why Harry arrived bent over from carrying bags of bottles, ointments and jars instead of having shrunk them into his pockets. What occupied said pockets were piles of other supplies like towels, mats and bandages. He set the medicines down by the entrance and looked around the Great Hall, which was occupied with a dozen or so rag-tagged and haggard students, surrounding others who lain motionless on the floor.

"I found a group of them." said Susan proudly as she approached his questioning gaze, "They were hiding in Professor Binns' classroom."

"Was Binns there?"

Susan shook her head, "Haven't encountered any ghosts at all. More importantly, there are students we can't heal. The curses on them are just too advanced. We don't know what to do."

"I've got some potions that might help. You're working well."

"Thanks. Where'd you get the outfit?"

Harry was sporting a generic uniform that he had pilfered from the infirmary. He looked down and smiled.

"Infirmary's emergency stocks. I brought some aside from towels and bandages," he took out the shrunken materials in question and gave them to her. Glancing around, he asked, "Why is Draco here instead of Smith?"

"Zach preferred to keep searching, he's with two other boys we've healed. Don't worry. I asked the other two to keep an eye on him."

Susan then glanced at Draco who was busy arguing with a brunette Ravenclaw and said, "Draco was looking for you. He said the house elves were too frightened to help..." then she leaned in to whisper, "Personally, I think the curse on the kitchen is too complicated for him to handle."

That was probably so, Harry thought. House elves lived to serve, protect and nurture their masters, especially during occasions like these. Harry gave a moment to observe Draco a little while longer. The blonde was in a foul mood, snapping at anyone within proximity. Harry didn't have the heart to confront the blonde, there was no use in rubbing it to his face, anyway.

He barely turned his gaze when he caught the eye of a third year and was startled when she smiled and angled her head down like a bow. He gave an uneasy grin, and noticed that others were also acknowledging him with respect. He immediately realized that he was being held up as their leader.

This unnerved him, but tried his best to shelve the feeling aside. How dare he feel small and ill-equipped to be a leader, when in the future he would certainly be a commander of a real army?

Annoyed at himself, he forced his attention to the room at hand, worried. There was a number of students in dire need of strong healing magic, but of all the survivors they had recovered, it seemed only a seventh year Ravenclaw knew how to deal with serious injuries, and she was quickly draining. Draco, helping out with his own brand of magic, was good; despite all his snarling and sniping, he was working hard— but he only knew so much.

And Harry,—Harry was doing as much as he could. He levitated the injured onto comfortable mats, tricky with the nondescript black wand that kept shaking in his hand. He applied ointments and gave potions to those they couldn't heal and who were constantly in pain, as well as dressing and undressing others who needed to get the stench of death off their clothes. He also managed the little dilemmas that came with people's shock, fear, pain and animosity.

But the truth was, a part of him wished to leave the Great Hall and start searching for his friends. None of them were there, and he wondered— had the Death Eaters taken Ron and Hermione and Ginny and Neville to be tortured and personally killed by Voldemort?

He tried not to think of that. It would be useless to ponder over nightmares and ignore what was really happening in front of him.

Though... having his friends at his side would ease the hardship. As of now, his little gang was unable to heal many survivors; it would definitely help to have Hermione, Luna or Ginny— he knew they would not stop to rest until everyone was cured. Harry sighed, irritated with himself. He'd always depended on them this way, so it came as no easy task to realize he was alone.

Making up his mind, Harry strode towards the doors.

"Where are you going?" Asked Susan, who was attempting to revive an unconscious Ravenclaw as he passed.

Harry smiled apologetically, "I'm not doing enough here, Susan. I think I'll be able to do more if I help the search party."

Susan seemed to want to say something more, but Harry was spared from explaining when a group of boys burst into a room, and with them, a deathly-still body whom Harry well recognized.

"Reno!"

They set him down on the floor as gently as they could, and Harry was immediately at his side. The man was unconscious and his breathing shallow, black markings swindling across awfully pale skin.

"What are those black drawings on him?" asked a Hufflepuff beside Harry, "a curse?"

Harry remained silent. If Khalik had similar markings, than this was somewhat normal for an incubus. Perhaps Dormant incubi displayed their markings when wounded or threatened.

It was clear Reno was injured somewhere, but Harry couldn't find anything physically wrong. A simple Ennervate didn't work on him, nor did a Pepper-Up or a quick slap in the face. Maybe incubi needed something else to wake? Should Harry tell the other students that Reno was an incubus? Would they believe him? Even if he did tell them, how were they going to cure him? Harry grit his teeth. If Reno were uninjured then he would have already healed half of whoever was wounded in the room. Harry never forgot the easy way Reno healed him in the tent— Merlin, it seemed so long ago.

"Harry."

Harry turned and realized that Draco was staring down at him, pissed. He cocked his head, motioning the Gryffindor to stand. Harry ascended without a word.

"The others are getting tired," muttered the blonde, which was a way to say he was tired too, Harry reckoned. "The medicines you hauled are already getting scarce, the others are draining their magic and we haven't even found the bulk of the population yet. But we need to rest."

Harry considered this, but the fact that so many were still missing haunted him. Draco apparently saw this, "There's a boy over there who's said to be quite the herbology expert. Having herbs will certainly let us rest from using magic— and save the medicines as well. The boy's a seventh year Ravenclaw named Tristan Boot, Terry's older brother."

"But for that we need herbs from the Greenhouse."

"No, those herbs are not matured yet," said Susan, having heard the last part of the conversation, "If you want the ones Pomphrey and Snape use, you get it in the storage shack next to Hagrid's hut—"

Harry nodded, "Already on my way."

---

Harry was feverishly hoping that on the way to the storage shack, he would be able to find his missing friends. At first, he had thought of combing the whole school in search of them, but realized with a great bout of dismay that it would be selfish. Dare he ignore all these injured people merely because he valued his friends' lives more? It felt awful to know that he wasn't looking for them, but he couldn't leave these students in their misery, either, could he?

Draco had wanted to accompany him towards the storage shack, where most of the herbs were kept dried and arranged in large pots, but Harry point-blank refused. "Keep looking for people, keep healing as much as you can, please," he had said, "I'm the one with an unstable wand. I can do the menial stuff for now."

Draco had looked very irritable, but said nothing. And so it was Harry, alone with a sputtering Lumos spell in his hand, who trudged down the morning-dark grounds in search of the medical herbs.

Looking over the path he could glimpse Hagrid's hut, which lain still, having— having been desolately abandoned after the Half-Giant's death. Harry almost forgot that it was only a week since Hagrid died. He felt a pang of longing as he remembered trudging over this very way, huddled under the Invisibility cloak with Ron and Hermione and anxious to see Hagrid's grinning face. The hut would gleam with a warm light from the fireplace, and there would be white smoke coming from the chimney.

But right now, it was only dark and dead, and just as empty as Harry felt.

A small crunch from the copse near a paddock made Harry stop in his tracks. He turned, glaring bravely into the shadows and wishing that the sun would already rise. Just as he was about to begin moving again, a crouched silhouette with bright red eyes walked into view. Harry paused in his tracks.

What sort of creature was this, moving so silently and effortlessly towards him? For a moment, Harry was petrified, having only realized how stupid it was to wander around alone. But he didn't show his fear to this stooped, shadowy thing. He positioned himself, his wand trained in front of him, before realizing that the form of this creature looked remarkably like the Grim.

"S-Sirius?" Harry whispered, daring himself to believe it, and when the creature stepped into the moonlight, his heart skipped a beat. But it was not Sirius, nor the Grim. It was tawny brown, and much larger than the dog Sirius had been.

"Pardon?" said the creature, flicking its tail above its head. It reminded Harry uncannily of the Sphinx he had met in his fourth year, but instead of having the face of a woman, it had a dark, hooked beak and grizzly features, and gleaming, gleaming eyes. Harry frowned, trying his best to remain calm.

"You are... a griffin...?" Harry whispered, and the animal pawed at the ground casually, and cocked its head, "What kind of stupid question is that? Did I ask you if you were a human?"

Harry blushed, and despite the darkness, he felt that the griffin could see it, "I'm sorry. I never really met one."

The griffin gazed at him sternly, "You are not a sixth year, to have been caring for my children?"

Harry then realized that this great, big Griffin was a mother the cubs they were caring for. He stared at her for a moment, astounded with the lean lion body and the breast of puffed feathers, and the brilliantly sharp eagle head. Its wings were tucked safely against its back, but in Harry's opinion they looked like they would be enormous if spread.

"W-well," Harry stuttered, "I mean, I am.. I have.. I mean, I am a sixth year, it's just that... uh, your children don't talk... to me. So I've never really, uhh, met one."

The griffin swung her tail from side to side, looking thoughtful, "I suppose they are too young to talk." Then she ruffled her feathers, and took a step closer to him, "But come, pray tell us of the news at the castle."

"There was a raid last night. Everyone in the castle is injured, I've come out here for herbs." he paused after the rush, "Can you help me?"

"—Are you only asking her?" said a voice behind Harry, and Harry swirled around so fast that the second griffin, which had leapt from the shrubbery, began to give a strange, throaty sound, almost like a chuckle.

"The— there are two of you?" Asked Harry, immediately abashed for his rudeness, but the second griffin seemed not to have noticed, "I am Morgana. You have been talking to my younger sister, Manaline. Why have you come here?"

"I'm going to take some of the herbs for the injured."

Morgana eyed him slowly, then bent her head in a nod, "Then we must make haste. We shall bring you to the herbs quickly."

"I know where it is, thank you," said Harry, "But how did you know of what happened?"

Morgana bobbed her head again, "The bells rang, and the castle was filled with shouting, blood stench and evil magic. In truth, my sister and I have been brought up to fight, but alone we are no match for men, so I had gone into the Forest to talk to the Centaurs."

Harry was suddenly filled with hope. Centaurs! They would know how to cure the seriously wounded!

Morgana, oblivious to his thoughts, turned away and began walking, "Come, human cub, we shall talk further as you collect your leaves."

Harry followed her, and heard the other griffin trodding along behind him.

"So where are the centaurs?" Asked Harry expectantly.

"They will not come," answered Morgana, savagely shattering his hope, "They do not like meddling in human affairs."

"But fear not," said Manaline, bounding past Harry to walk side by side with Morgana, her tail swishing more animatedly, "We have knowledge of curing ailments and curses— even the worst ones."

They had arrived at the shack. Harry lit the other lamps that sat on upper shelves with his wand, and immediately set to work, first gathering yarrow flowers and hyssop leaves into the sack that he had brought.

"But will you both come back with me and help cure the wounded?" Harry asked the griffin who sat beside him.

"Yes," said the lower drawl of Morgana, "We shall impart our knowledge for something in return."

"Something in return?"

Morgana's tail was thumping on the ground, and Harry had the impression the griffin was doing it unconsciously, "You must promise to wean our children. For some reason you humans have been neglecting them, and it will have serious repercussions as our younglings grow."

"I'm— we're sorry, a lot's been happening lately, there's a war and—"

"Hush," snapped Morgana, "We do not need silly explanations. Your promise, as well as Reno's, will be enough."

"Uhh, I promise. But right now, even Professor Morris is in trouble," remembering the man's current state called back his worry and never-fading guilt, "He's really hurt, and I don't know what's wrong. He won't wake up and we need you to cure him right away."

Morgana and Manaline stilled, and looked at each other for a long moment, regal heads eerie against the dim lights. The younger griffin, Manaline, nudged Harry's leg with her head.

"I'm sorry— incubi are quite different from you and I, and mortal healing will not help. We know nothing that can."

Harry was startled by the fact that they knew what Reno was, and dismayed at the problematic dead end.

"Nothing? Nothing at all?" He pleaded, desperately.

Again, another silence, and Morgana had stopped thumping her tail.

"You must ask his kind," she said quietly, "The other one who hides above the trees."

Harry took a moment to understand completely, and when he did he grit his teeth and closed his eyes.

Khalik.

When he opened them again, his eyes blazed with quiet determination.

"Would you know where I could find him?"

---

Harry left the herbs he had gathered and took with him a jar of salt from Hagrid's hut. His palm was sweaty as he clutched the wand in his hand, and the jar under his armpit was no comfort to him, either. His heartbeat began to thump wildly as he trudged deeper and deeper into the Forbidden Forest.

Yes. It was almost suicide to even think of traveling here, alone with a treacherous wand, unprepared, weary, occupied, desperate... but he shook aside his fear. They needed Reno. He needed Reno at his side, where he had always been. Harry felt he had lost too many people to allow another to fall.

Past the birch mother-tree with only two branches, came Morgana's deep voice in Harry's memory, there would be a clearing. That is his nest. That is where he dwells.

Harry found it. Truth be known, he had doubted he would discover it so easily, but the sky had begun to lighten, giving way to morning. Harry breathed in. The Forest looked less secretive this way, with him being able to see farther than he would have in pure darkness. But the light also meant that the sun was soon to rise, so he had no time to waste pondering over what he was about to do.

Now, human cub, he remembered Morgana saying, this ritual is very important for your safety. He is a creature to be reckoned with, even we dare not go near him.

Harry opened the jar of salt in his arm and sprinkled a circle around himself, muttering the small spell Morgana had taught him before placing the jar on the ground. He took a deep breath and formed a seal with his fingers, his heartbeat so hard he could hear it in his eardrums. But the fear was disappearing from the course of magic in his veins. With a yell to the dark silent trees, he spread his arms— and gave a loud, brave bellow.

"Khalik, I summon you! Come forth and show yourself! You know who I am!"

For a moment, there was no answer. Harry was about to call out again, when he noticed a dark smoke emitting from one of the trees. He peered closer, but made sure that every single part of him was still in his circle of protection.

"Aaahh, the handsome one... comes," hissed a voice quietly, and Harry could feel the familiar stirrings in his loins.

He stood his ground. Lust was the one thing he had to fight against. They both knew it.

"Khalik," he said, bravely, "I need your help."

"Young little thing, how may I be of service?" purred Khalik, and he came into view, a mere inch away from the salt circle. Tall and unbearably handsome, and so intense; Harry almost staggered back, but caught himself.

"Reno's in trouble. We need to know how to heal him. He's hurt somewhere and unconscious."

Khalik gave a dashing smirk, and was eyeing Harry so soulfully that Harry could feel actually feel the heat of it. The incubus reached out, as if touching his cheek, but lingered only as far as the circle would allow. There was an unbearable silence, broken only when Khalik's smirk widened.

"What makes you think I want him to live?" he whispered, and this question sent Harry reeling.

Harry's mind felt suddenly empty. Shit. Shit. Shit. Khalik was right. In his desperation, Harry forgot one important fact: the death of his warden would only make Khalik free, and happier. Why did Harry think there was a good relationship between the two?!

Khalik, however, wasn't going to let this chance go, for as Harry struggled over his thoughts, a dark surge of want bellowed into his body.

"I—Uhn!" Harry gasped, weak-kneed. Khalik was sending him sensations of phantom hands over his entire body, of velvet tongues on his neck, his collarbone, his chest, his stomach, his thighs, his back— and lingering defly on his erection and his entrance. His body reacted with utmost eagerness.

"Can you feel what I want to do to you? Can you feel how much I want you?" Khalik breathed, his eyes glimmering with greed as he began prowling along the edge of the circle, gaze claiming him. Harry could feel warm breath on his skin and he was delirious with anticipation. His body trembled with it.

By all means, Harry wanted to retort with something nasty and clever, but the sensations left him breathless. He tried to pull up some mental shields, but realized that it was folly. Khalik was drawing desires, not thoughts, and these were Harry's desires as well— it was his own lust and the want Khalik was manipulating.

Harry's knees buckled, and he fell down onto them. His body refused to follow his mind, wanting so plainly to get closer to the tall, lithe man before him, the man that prowled with so much masculinity and sexual prowress. Harry began crawling towards the edge of the circle, but stopped himself midway. No.

Stopping himself was the hardest thing he could do. The sensations were getting erratic, the pull in his stomach so delicious. Harry looked up with tears of frustration, watching the body of the incubus; the fine cut, the long and graceful body. The creature's dark trousers had a hefty bulge and Harry was filled with a morbid curiosity for what it held. He was dying to have it invading him, stretching him, filling him; he thought of Khalik playing his body as skillfully as an angel on a harp, pulling him into an abyss of screaming ecstacy.

"A little more, Harry," panted Khalik, riled and oh-so-ready while Harry trembled, keeping his palms planted firmly on the ground.

Khalik crouched down so that Harry was staring into the beautiful, wicked, leering face, hard with intent. The incubus licked his lips, "You are perfect... I will have you and keep you, no matter where you run."

And another surge of pure, carnal lust seized Harry, and he moaned aloud, his hand sliding into the salt.

In a flash the incubus pulled him out, and they zoomed away from the circle. Harry had a moment of feeling the whirring wind before he was slammed upon a tree, though not as roughly as it seemed. And then Khalik was assaulting his neck with possessive licks and kisses. Harry was engulfed with wave after wave of terrifying lust, and barely realized that Malfoy's cloak and the generic school shirt was ripped in half, and that the Hostile's humongous erection was pressing insistently against his trousers.

The incubus was growling an inhuman growl now, his large arms pinning Harry helplessly to the tree.

"Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine..." Khalik muttered, eyes bright yellow and wide as he began ravished Harry's torso with his unbearably skillful mouth. Harry, for all the feelings he was experiencing, was trying to resist, trying to push away from the incubus even as he was moaning in want and need.

He felt like he already was ready to expel his load, yet desperately kicked out to the incubus, who only responded with more passion as he resisted. Harry was trying not to panic, but everything was happening so quickly that he was losing control. Desperately, his mind screamed for Severus, for Reno... for anyone! And when Severus' dark obisidian eyes came into his thoughts Harry fought back his desperate cries.

Then, a loud, clear shout rang through the air.

"Stupefy!"

A purple flash pulsed, and Khalik was thrown off Harry, baring his fangs and growling. There was a hissing noise from where the spell hit him, black smoke wavering from his shoulder. He wasn't stunned at all.

Harry slumped down onto tree trunk, achingly hard and incredibly weary. His eyesight began to darken, and his surroundings were becoming hazy to him. Another warm body was suddenly against him, and he was being pulled to his feet, an arm steadying him on his waist.

"He's mine!" sneered Khalik, his eyes bright yellow as he stared at the wizard.

Harry heard his rescuer casting another spell, and from his hazy view he noticed Khalik retreating, his golden eyes set on him as he disappeared into the shadows.

Harry looked up, eyelids drooping as he stared at his rescuer.

"D..Draco...?"

And then the darkness took him.

---

Post A/N: Go Khalik!!! Haha. Egad. It was HARD to make the aftermath NOT boring and tedious! (still ended up like that for the first part anyway, blaarg.) I was trying to think of the most rational way Harry would react, given that they're all young, teacherless and devastated. Can you spot a leader in Harry? Still immature, but getting there, right? He told me he is terrified of having no guide beside him (as his friends, Reno, Severus and even Dumbledore are out of commission. Oops! Plot slip. .)

Warning: it gets thicker, nastier, kinkier, weirder as we begin to unravel Harry's fate. We will understand why no one had come for reinforcements. Also, Zach might be important (does the house-swapping thing sounds reasonable?) and Alexander is one of the cruxes of the entire story, as are the two incubi. Don't forget the American who was really British, Penelope Wells! She comes into play later. Brace yourselves and keep me fueled with reviews now that I have the time! Hurry! Commit to my flaming libido! Buaahahahahha!!!

Oh and log in. I find it easier to reply to reviews that way. And because you've all been so good, here's a good new personal canon: look for Amanuensis' fanfiction (usually on restrictedsection dot org, but she has a site) she has GREAT EVIL SEXY FICS! Beware of evilness, porn and BDSM. Ahh.. It's awesome... Anyone want to make me a site of my own? sniff Will feed with pictures I made. :)) Anime style for now, though. Baaah.