Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, I just let my imagination play with him a little. :whistles innocently:
The Cost of a Life-Debt
It was finally over. Seventeen year old Harry had defeated the Dark Lord and lived to tell the tale. And tell it he did. Weeks of wizarding press conferences had left Harry feeling more drained and disjointed than after he took his N.E.W.T.s. He found himself looking forward to the peaceful quiet of a life hidden from all society both Muggle and Magical. He had done his duty, he had saved the world, he just wanted to live in peace, he was just about ready to go…and he had just been called into Albus Dumbledore's office. Somehow Harry did not find that to be a good sign.
He was right.
When Harry reached his old headmasters office (Twinkies) he was both shocked and slightly annoyed to see his old potions professor sitting across from Dumbledore. It was true that Harry and Snape had gotten along better in the last couple years; Harry even found that he had built up a deep respect for the overgrown bat, but the initial reaction upon seeing the man still stood. Five plus years of unearned animosity was hard to completely put behind you.
Harry was startled to find that he had attracted the attention of both the men. Harry realized that he had been standing in the doorway for quite some time, lost in his memories. He slightly shook his head to clear it and strode into the room to stand across from Dumbledore, the old man's desk separating them.
"Professor," Harry said respectfully greeting his potions teacher before extending the greeting to Dumbledore. "Headmaster."
"Harry, why don't you have a seat, my boy. There is something that we must discuss." The lack of a twinkle in the headmaster's eyes did not ease Harry's apprehension regarding the upcoming conversation. He looked carefully at the two older men, but their faces gave no hints as to the subject before him.
"Not to be rude, headmaster, but I would rather stand. I have almost finished packing, and I do not wish to stay longer than necessary." Something akin to dismay crossed the headmaster's face, but before Harry could decipher what the expression could denote it disappeared. Fearful at what it could signify, Harry found himself rambling.
"I did it, Headmaster. I killed Voldemort. I fought and helped the ministry imprison his followers. I fulfilled the prophecy. I just finally got my life back. There can't be more. I thought that after all of that I would finally be free to leave it all behind me. There just can't be more…Can there?" the words tumbled out of his mouth uncontrolled. Unable to hold the headmaster's steady gaze, Harry turned to look at Snape. His face was stony, his eyes hard and expressionless. Harry found himself struggling to breathe normally. He ran his fingers back through his hair as he tried to regain control of himself.
The office was silent. When Harry finally turned back to Dumbledore, the old man finally spoke.
"Harry, I have told you before… please call me Albus. I am not your headmaster any longer." Silence. Dumbledore continued. "I really think it would be best if you sat down." He said folding his hands together and setting them on top of his desk.
Harry was losing his temper. All he desired to achieve was leave, go someplace quiet, and get out of the wizarding spotlight. Somehow he got the impression that he was not going to get what he wanted. Harry was getting frightened at the thought of what could be so serious as to require a meeting of him and the two somber professors. Harry did not do afraid very well, he was becoming angry…and he was most certainly not sitting down.
"Answer me this than, Albus, am I here to be informed of yet another life changing decision being imposed on me without my consent?" He hissed, his irritation coming out in his tone, but otherwise keeping himself under control.
"I would not have put it so bluntly, Harry, but it will be a bit of an adjustment." Albus said calmly as he leaned back in his chair.
Harry knew that if he tried to speak he would lose it, and he did not relish throwing a childish tantrum in front of the ever cool and collected Snape. So Harry just glared at the headmaster willing the old man to quit dancing around the subject that Harry would eventually hear anyway.
"My boy." The headmaster ignored Harry's sigh at the title. "Professor Snape has informed me that he has saved your life on a number of occasions…"
Harry nodded his annoyance at the situation had drained away at those words leaving him baffled. "Sir, I expect that you have known that for quite some time. I mean, even when he truly hated the sight of me he always seemed to watch out for me. Thank you for that, by the way, professor." A confused Harry turned to look at Snape, but the professor just calmly stared back. Not finding any answers from the man, Harry turned back to Dumbledore. "Sir, please, no more riddles. I just finally took care of the last one." He continued trying to ease the tension in the room. "Just tell me straight out. Why am I here?"
"Harry, have you heard of a life-debt?" The headmaster questioned, his eyes weary.
"Yes, of course, sir. I learned about it…" He had learned about it his first year. It was the reason Snape had saved him from Quirrel. Snape had paid the life-debt he owed to Harry's father. Somehow it felt wrong to bring it up. Harry had been getting along with the surly man, he had no desire to bring up past grievances, and anything to do with James would irritate Snape. "Please continue sir."
"When he saved your life recently it placed you in his debt. Professor Snape has deemed it time to collect payment on that debt." The headmaster's voice was level.
Harry blinked in surprise at the turn of the subject. "I...I must say it's unexpected, but I have no issue with paying my debts. I do not understand why you are so solemn, in actuality it is good timing. I would rather fulfill my obligations before I leave, otherwise it might be a bit difficult to get in contact with me. What is it that I can do for you professor?" Harry smiled at the man, relief flooding through his system. What ever help Snape required could not be too detrimental. It was not as if Harry had to slay another dark lord, or be under someone's thumb for years on end as they claimed to be protecting his life. No, this Harry could handle.
Harry turned to his professor expecting an answer. When none was forthcoming he furrowed his brow and glanced between the two older men. "Professor?" He asked tentatively. Still no sound was uttered from the man. "Headmaster, what is going on here?"
Albus sighed, "Harry, Severus has asked for the repayment of the life-debt with your servitude."
Harry's eyes narrowed into slits as he dissected the headmaster's statement. "Servitude…doing what exactly? For how long? I don't understand." He was weary of trying to second guess what was going on, and the longer the conversation went on, the less Harry thought he would like the outcome when it was all said and done.
"For the rest of your life, Harry, or until the debt is repaid." Albus did not meet his eyes, and after that statement Harry could not even bring himself to look at Snape.
The room felt as if it was getting hotter, and yet waves of cold seemed to be coursing down his spine. Servitude, for life? Snape was going to make him a slave. Harry Potter the house elf. Was this just some vindictive plot to get back at His father? Harry had thought that with all he and his professor had been through…that they had gotten past that. If they hadn't, there were other was Snape could have made Harry's life miserable. Snape knew more about Harry than even his two best friends did thanks to occlumency. Harry was certain there were loads of reporters who would pay handsomely for just a snippet of what Snape knew about Harry's life. Surely he could get more profit from the destruction of Harry that way, and Harry truly would not even mind. He had plans to leave the whole magical world behind anyway.
That did not seem to be an option any more. Harry was not lying when he said that he paid his debts, although he did have an issue with how he was to pay it.
"Professor? Why? I thought you would be glad to be rid of the insufferable Harry Potter. What's this game you're playing?" Harry said, still too shocked to be angry.
The dark man said nothing. His silence began to infuriate Harry. Before he had been confused with the lack of dialogue on Snape's part, but in light of this revelation... Harry began to see the man's silence as something altogether unappealing. Did Snape already regard Harry as a servant? Was the man too good to talk to a future slave? The professor's silence is what really convinced Harry that this was not some horrible joke, convinced Harry that he was truly losing the freedom that he had been so close to acquiring.
"Would that I had died in battle than to be another man's slave! Obviously ridding the world of its Dark Lord was not enough, what more can I do before my damnable life is my own." Harry said with fire in his voice before turning his back on the two men to hide the betrayal etched in his face.
"Harry, are you refusing payment for your debt." Albus said not unkindly, but there was a slight hardness in his voice.
"No," He whispered not turning around. Harry knew the consequences of such defiance. If Harry outright refused to comply, Snape would have every right to have him thrown into Azkaban; and if that wasn't enough, it was a well known fact that any wizard who broke a life debt would began to lose control of his magic. Harry had heard stories of powerful wizard who refused such terms. Their spells would go awry, and with time would even turn on the wizard. Even wizards who gave up their magic to escape the debt would find that luck forsook them, and they would end life on their knees. A life debt was made to be paid.
That did not stop Harry for wanting to rage at the men before him. The knowledge of the futility of argument did not make it any easier to comply with such demands. Harry closed his eyes; it would not do to blow up. Angering the man who claimed ownership of Harry's life was not the way to secure a good future, but damn it was hard.
Harry did not know how long it was before he was in control enough to speak, but after a time he finally turned to face the two men. "What am I supposed to do now?"
"You claimed to have practically concluded your packing." Snape finally spoke. At Harry's slow nod the man continued. I will give you two hours to complete it and to say your farewells. I will expect you back here at that time, your possessions in hand. Do not be late," he said evenly. "Go."
Harry left the office and ran past the gargoyle as fast as he could manage, collapsing to his knees further into the dark corridor that led to his room. Harry slid from his knees and sat up against the cold stone wall wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his head on his knees. He felt sick, as if everything he had eaten only a few hours ago was about to defy his stomach's attempts to keep it down. He had two hours of freedom before his life was over, and Harry felt too dizzy to even pick himself off the floor.
AN: Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!