Disclaimer: I don't own anything you'll recognize
A/N: I apologize for the wait; I hope you'll enjoy this chapter. Only one left and probably an epilogue. Happy reading.
Chapter Four: Sealing your fate
Harry turned back to staring through the window, not sparing Snape a second glance.
"Who are you?! What are you doing here?!"
Harry remained silent. He felt a wand poke at his back.
"I'll repeat it only once more; who are you and what business do you have here?"
Calmly, Harry raised his hand to his hood and took it down before turning to look at Snape with blank eyes, perversely pleased to see the Potion master's eyes widened in surprise and his wand waver upon seeing him.
The young man didn't answer and turned his back on the man again. They had forced him to come back, that didn't mean he had to make things easy for them. He let his eyes stray around again, ignoring his former teacher. He spotted the Sorting Hat which seemed to be listening intently to what was happening. So did all the portraits hanging in the office he noticed. He heard Snape sent his Patronus out to warn his accomplices.
Harry just didn't care. What would now happen now would depend on what they would put him through.
He was suddenly grabbed and turned around.
"You will answer me when I address you, Potter!"
Harry barely spared him a glance, his eyes looking past the man's shoulder at the Forbidden Forest, remembering all the adventures he had lived there.
Harry finally turned to him.
"What do you want me to tell you, Snape?!" he snarled. "That I'm delighted to be back. That I couldn't wait to come back to those that collared me, rendered me a Squib, taking away my magic; that fed me potions and lies to make me the perfect puppet?"
Snape had taken a step back, surprised by the hatred spilling through the young man's words.
"But of course, you couldn't leave me alone. No, you are so arrogant that you couldn't bear the fact that you didn't controlled me, that the Potter's son was not at your beck and call."
He shook his head.
"I had made a life for me, you know, a life away from the Wizarding World, away from your stupidity and prejudices. I never planned to come back."
Snape finally found his voice back.
"You haven't changed Potter. It's still always about you with no care for the others."
"And WHY should I care about them? Did they care about me when I was at my relatives? Did they ever care to check on me? Did they care when they slandered me? Did they care about me when Voldemort rose and they all stayed in their homes, waiting for me to do their dirty job? NO."
The Potion Master didn't let it be showed but he was a bit unsettled at all the anger that filled his former student. For the first time in years, he wondered if they had made the right choice in chasing after the brat.
Pushing those thoughts away, after all it was now too late.
"You never learnt to listen to your better, Potter."
He went to sit on the window sill, his arms crossed, and his back to the Potion Master.
The door opening broke the tension-filled silence as several people entered.
Malfoy senior and junior were leading the group, followed by Remus and Sirius, then Blaise and three more people Harry didn't recognized, not that he cared.
They spread in the room, blocking all exits.
For a few seconds, silence hung over them before Sirius broke it.
He took a few steps towards his godson, speaking up.
He wasn't able to finish whatever he wanted to say. Harry turned his head, focusing cold emerald eyes on his godfather, filled with anger and disgust.
"Do not come close to me, don't speak to me. I have nothing to say to you and want nothing to do with you."
Sirius took a step back, startled at the rage barely contained in the young man's words.
"You're dead to me, Black."
The man's face had taken an ashen colour and he slumped in his chair.
Lucius eyed the yound wizard with a frown.
"Draco, maybe you should take Black outside."
Malfoy junior nodded silently and hauled the man to his feet before leading him out. Harry had turned back to the window, looking at the Forbidden Forest with longing.
"So the prodigal son returns," drawled Lucius, leaning against the wall behind him. "I must say you lead us on a merry chase."
Harry remained silent, ignoring them completely.
"So, that's how you want to play it? All the better, it will save time if we don't have to deal with your theatrics." He paused a little, thinking the former Gryffindor might rise to the bait. As he didn't, he carried on.
"Well, I'll just tell you then. As we can't let you go around unsupervised, you will be bound to one of us. And as the only one among us left unattached, Severus will have this dubious honour. The power of the Potter name and wealth as well as the aura of the Boy-who-lived will be quite useful to us. And to make sure you will not mess with our projects, we made sure the bond would be one that would suit our needs. I'm sure you heard of it, the Noirserf."
Only the stiffening of the young man's back showed he had heard the man. A smug smirk made its way on Malfoy senior's face, it disappeared as Harry remained silent.
"Well, it seems our guest has reverted to teenager's sulking… It should take three days to set everything up for the ritual. Meanwhile, we should show our guest to his suite. Severus, if you would?"
The Headmaster scowled and nodded sharply.
"Very good. Well, we all have a lot to do. Remus, Blaise and Draco will stay here with their spouses. I'll see you all in three days then."
With that he stalked out of the room, followed by the others spare Snape and Remus.
The werewolf walked to his former student.
"It would be easier if you stopped resisting Harry."
The young man finally reacted by punching him in his face with all his strength, feeling a perverse sort of pleasure upon hearing the cracking of bone.
He looked down on the sprawled form of his old teacher.
"How dare you!" he hissed. "Harry, stop fighting, just let us take away your magic, and your freedom, and your mind, and your fortune and your will. Just be a good little puppet," he spat, mimicking the man. "You know what, sod off. Forget you ever knew me for as far as I'm concerned you never existed."
He turned to Snape.
"Well, let's put your future slave in his gilded cage."
Snape opened the door and motioned to him to follow. They walked in tensed silence until they reached a chimera's sculpture.
Harry snorted at this. Snape placed his hand over the head of the creature and stepped back as it came to life and jumped to the side.
"Those are your rooms, Potter. You have a bedroom, a living room and a bathroom. House Elves will bring you your meals. You won't be able to leave them unless someone comes for you."
Harry ignored him and stepped through the hole the chimera had revealed. As soon as he was inside he heard the sculpture spring back in place.
He was in simple living room, a table two chairs, a fireplace, a few shelves and a cupboard. No portraits hang on the walls, just three tapestries to cover the stone walls. But he recognized the metallic sheen of magical dampeners and was quite sure the whole suite was littered with them.
He didn't bother looking to the other room, feeling more tired than ever. He slumped down, his back to the door, taking his head in his hands, only allowing himself to show weakness now that he was alone.
He would not give them the pleasure of seeing him break.
He didn't know how long he remained sitting on the floor, nearly all night if the aches in his back and neck were any indications. There was only a small window situated high on the wall that did not allowed him to look at the grounds, depriving him of even that small glimpse of freedom. But he supposed they weren't taking any risks of him escaping once more.
A soft pop echoed in the living room as breakfast appeared on the table. With a sigh and a wince he stood up and went to the bathroom to freshen up. He saw they had also placed a stack of clothes at the bed feet but he wouldn't use them. He didn't put it past them to layer them with spells to cripple him even more.
He would do with his own clothes and the self cleaning charms he had asked Vampire mages to weave in his own outfit.
He splashed cold water on his face, enjoying the chilling feel. Looking up, he grimaced upon seeing the dark shadows under his eyes. Stress and sleep did not go well together… But it would be over in a few meagre days…
He ate a little, just enough to sustain himself, but not to allow whatever potions they might have dosed his food with to work at their full power. He ignored the drinks and went to draw water from the tap. Better be safe than sorry as he had always said. Three days of near fasting wouldn't kill him.
The dirty tray popped away an hour later. He went to sit on the bed and decided to meditate, having nothing else to do.
Noon came and passed in silence. His meditation was interrupted by a creaking sound and footsteps. Soundlessly he stood up and made his way to the bedroom doorway.
From the light coming from the window, he guessed it was late in the afternoon. His face grew cold as he saw who had entered.
"Come to gawk?"
The two younger whirled on their feet, clearly startled while Sirius just turned to him.
"Harry, we came to…" started Hermione.
Harry cut her immediately.
"Unless you're going to take that collar off me or free me, I don't want to hear anything from you."
Neville looked down as Sirius looked away, though Hermione was not that easily cowed.
"Harry, it's for the better. Professor Snape will be able to keep you safe and you will not want for anything…"
That apparently had been the wrong thing to say.
A snarl deformed Harry's face.
"For the better. FOR THE BETTER!" he shouted before pausing to control the rage surging through him. "You call collaring me like an animal, taking away my magic, drugging me with potions to keep me weak and easy to manipulate for the better! You think that chasing after me like I was some rabid creature and then caging me, threatening my friends to make me submit is for the better. And let's not forget the best part: you think that forcing me to bond to Snape against my will through the Noirserf ritual is for the better."
He stopped, catching his breath, glaring at his former friend who had turned pale and scared and taken a few steps back.
"It's nice to see you held me in so little regards, Hermione. It seems House-elves are entitled to more rights than me seeing how much energy you spent defending them and how you are all for turning me into a mindless puppet with Snape as the puppet-master."
The young woman seemed deeply shaken.
"Harry, I… There are still Death Eaters."
The young man snorted.
"I killed Voldemort. And you know what? I'd take Death Eaters over all of you any time. They at least did not hide the fact they wanted me dead."
"That's not fair, Harry, we only wanted the best for you," said Sirius, not managing to meet his godson eyes.
"Didn't you get the memo? Life's not fair," grounded the young man. "Now if you want to do me a favour, leave me alone, do not talk to me. I don't want to see any of you again without being forced to."
Hermione had tears falling down his face. She looked like she wanted to argue with him, to change his mind when Neville placed a hand on her arm, stalling her.
"Very well, Harry. Before we leave do you request anything?"
Harry closed his eyes and sighed.
"I would like some parchment, ink and a quill. And if you can convince my jailors, I would like to visit Dumbledore's and my parents' graves before I'm left with barely more will and intelligence then a flobberworm."
The former Gryffindor nodded gravely before steering his companions out of the room.
"I'll try to see it done." He paused before passing through the hole left by the statue. "For what it matters, Harry, I'm sorry."
That said he hurried out, leaving Harry standing, cold emerald eyes watching them. He turned to go sit back on the bed to meditate once again. His decision was made. They made their bed and would lie in it. But for now, he needed to get ready.
By dinner time, his meal was appeared to his room with a stack of parchments, a quill and some ink. A letter was placed against the glass bearing his name.
He opened it and read through it with a small smile. It seems that they had decided to be generous and grant him his request. He would go tomorrow afternoon under heavy guard of course.
He took the parchment, quill and ink and went to the bedroom to start writing. He stayed up half the night, or so he thought. Foregoing his breakfast and just drinking water from the tap, ignoring the grumbling of his stomach, he stayed in a meditative trance until his meal was brought at noon. Eyeing the tray, he stood up from his sitting position and went to drink some more water before going to the bathroom.
As he passed before the mirror, he saw that accursed medallion shine. Taking it in hand, he tried to repress the rage rising in him once more. At first he had wondered what all the symbols meant. Now he knew. It was the rune-crest of every people that participated in the binding of his magic. He fingered one in particular before clenching his feet and going back to his meditation.
Out of all the names engraved in that medallion, Remus' name was still the one that hurt the most.
The afternoon passed slowly as he waited to be let out.
Finally the sound of the chimera statue moving aside was heard and he looked up from his spot on the bed.
Malfoy, Snape, Lupin and Fletcher were looking at him.
"Come on Potter, we all have better things to do than escort you around."
Harry ignored them and slowly untangled his legs. He stood up and made his way to them, picking up all the parchments he had written the past night.
If they wanted to say something, they thought best not to and led him out.
Once they were out of the school, they headed for the edge of the apparition wards, or so Harry assumed. They stopped by a tall oak.
Snape took Harry's arm and pulled him to his chest roughly.
"Don't even try anything, Potter," he said, then with a small all five men apparated away to Godric's Hollow's graveyard.
Snape did not like it. His instincts, the ones that had saved him during all those years of spying, was screaming at him that they were making a mistake. He shook his head. They were doing the right thing. Potter was too much of a wild ward. Despite his claim he had been happy living as a mere Muggle, no true wizard could live eternally without his magic. He shuddered at the idea of not being able to perform magic.
Sooner or later, Potter would have been back and Merlin knows what the Gryffindor would have been up to. Not to mention his contacts with those Vampires! What business could he have had with them if he didn't plan on coming back?
Now it was better they dealt with it now, no matter what his instinct were telling him. Potter would come to see it was for the best even if having the youth bonded to him didn't appeal the man anymore than it did the former Gryffindor. However it was a small evil to bear for the peace of their world he told himself.
The brat had barely eaten the meals he had been served and had only drunk from the tap. That meant the potions they had wanted to feed him would barely be effective, but it was not as if Potter could escape, not when they had the threat of a war against the Vampires to hang over his head.
They had tried sending his friends to placate him, only to have them come back a few minutes later quite distraught. Granger had blown up to her husband's face, locking herself in the library using quite powerful wards that no one bar the house-elves had been able to breach and the creatures could not go against the will of one of the Malfoy's family, in particular when said member was carrying the future Malfoy heir… From what they had gathered, she was researching bonds, magic binding rituals and artefacts as well as many potions.
Longbottom had not been any better from what Blaise had reported. After telling him the brat's requests, he had taken Granger back to Malfoy manor then went to confront his husband.
Zabini had had to go to his parents to have the various hexes shot at him reversed and Longbottom had refused to see his husband since then.
Snape snorted, he had told those two young fools that the truth about Potter would manage to reach their spouses' ears and that their reactions would not be pleasant but they had dismissed his words.
He would relish in reminding them of his warnings…
He had had little reservations regarding the parchments, ink and quill. The visits had been a bit more difficult to decide on. However after discussing it with the others and checking that nothing on and around those tombs, no traps or ambushes in a misguided attempt to free Potter. In the end they had decided it was better to agree. Placating the boy would only make him more pliable.
That's why they were now standing in front of Godric's Hollow's graveyard.
He immediately let go of the boy and stepped aside.
"Follow me Potter," he snapped. "We all have better things to do than babysitting you or escorting you around for pointless visits to people who can no longer help you."
He wanted the young man to rise to the bait, to explode like he used to in rightful anger fits. However he was disappointed when his taunts did not induced any reaction into in his former student.
He spun on his heels and headed for the doors of the graveyard. He tapped five stones with his wand them opened the door to the magical parts of the graveyard. It wouldn't do for Muggles to see floating flowers, pixie lights or moving tombstones…
He and Lupin walked in front, Harry behind them, Lucius and Fletcher bringing up the rear. They walked in silence. The only sounds heard were the birds and the Muggles minding their own business.
Finally they stopped before twin tombs. The two Headstones were simple white marble with the names etched in golden letters at their tops. Epitaphs followed under, carved in the stone. At the very top of each of them, was a simple crystal orb with a white liquid swirling in it.
The first time Harry had come here, he had wondered what it was. Ron had then told him it was memory orbs. Before their death, people could fill such an orb, pulling emotions, feelings, most of them tied to someone or to a situation. Later on, when people would touch them, they would feel the emotions the people had placed in them.
For Harry, it was the feeling of his parents holding him in their arms, their love and joy for him.
Many flowers were covering the two tombs, from people wanting to thank the parents of the boy who lived. Before the two tombs two chalices filled with magical oil were placed in evidence. In the middle, a small flame was burning. Lily's was a warm purple with hints of cream, pink and red. Potter's on the other hand was a bright red with shades of gold, cream and purple.
Those flames were supposed to embody the souls of the deceased and would burn as long as at least one member of the family lived.
Many fairies were flying around the tombs and Snape knew that several of them had chosen to live there as well as a family of kneazle, a testament to the magic imbued in these lines.
Snape stepped aside, noting that the lilies he brought to Lily's grave were starting to wilt. He mentally made a note to come next week with fresh ones.
Potter walked first to his mother's grave and kneeled before the tomb. For a minute, he remained there, his head bowed. Then, he placed his hand in one of his pockets and Snape tensed as did the three others. He relaxed only minutely upon seeing a roll of parchment.
"Hand this over, Potter," he snapped, walking up to him.
The young man looked up to him with such anger, hatred and spite, that he nearly took a step back.
"It was too much to hope that I would be able to honour my parents and mentor without you interfering," he snarled, "There, read those too so we don't have to repeat it again!"
He handed the man three scrolls of parchment.
Snape handed one to Lucius and another to Lupin.
He scanned the parchment, looking for any charms, spell, rune-work in it. He read through it, trying to ignore Potter's words to his dead mother. Lily had enough reason to detest him and would have one more in a day and a half for what he would do to her son. But sometimes sacrifices had to be made.
Surely she would understand.
Finding nothing dangerous for them, he handed the parchment back to Potter as did Lupin and Lucius.
"I see your penmanship or writing skills haven't improved," he sneered, refusing to admit that Potter's words had stirred something in him and taking refuge into his sarcastic piques.
The former Gryffindor ignored him and took back the parchments, only keeping one. He stood up and went to kiss the memory orb, a tear making its way down his face as he received the orb's feelings stored for him. He then went back to the flame and placed the parchment in it, watching it burn intensively. Once nothing remained but ashes, he repeated the same actions at his father's grave.
As Snape looked, fairies which had stopped to watch them came to Potter and sat on his shoulders or in his hair. By the time, the young man was finished, even the kneazle family had come out to take a look at them.
Potter smiled as a young kitten came to him and butted his head against his thigh.
"Yeah you're right, I should go…."
The fairies took off, their laugh echoing in the air. One of them lingered behind, playing with Potter's hair before hovering by his ear. Her bell-like laugh echoed in the air as she zoomed away.
"Finished playing Potter?"
The young man did not answer just followed them. A fact that made Snape uneasy. Potter was not that meek usually. The boy he had known would not have accepted his fate that easily and would have tried all he could to escape it no matter the odds.
The submissive behaviour this new Potter exhibited was worrying.
Snape tried to put those thoughts away. Potter was just learning his place for once and was not being the stubborn fool he had been in his teenage years.
They quietly exited the graveyard. Lupin, in particularly, looked quiet distraught after having read the boy's words. Snape could see the werewolf wanted to talk but didn't dare to.
That man had always been a coward.
Snape grabbed Potter's arm and with barely any warning apparated them to Albus' grave. The new Headmaster was starting to regret allowing the brat this outing. Coming there was doing him no good and as he stared at his old mentor's grave, stirrings of guilt had to be squashed.
Even dead the old man still managed to make him feel like a naughty schoolboy.
"Well, Potter, move!" he snapped.
The young man shot him a hate-filled glance of those green eyes of his but did not spoke up. He briskly went to the portal guarding the Dumbledore plot. To prevent people from desecrating the man's tomb, wards had been erected. The only way to enter was by touching the portals that would then grant or refuse you entry.
If Snape remembered well, Potter had been the one powering and creating this ward with Granger's instruction of course.
They followed the boy inside the wards and watched as he headed to the southern part where Albus had been buried.
They had managed to prevent the Ministry from getting their way and followed the Headmaster's wishes. A simple white marble headstone with silver and gold swirling around was marking the man's resting place. Many epiphanies were engraved in it. A woollen sock filled with lemon drops had been stuck to one side under heavy preservation charms.
Crazy coloured flowers were growing before it: Yellow and purple daisies, neon pink with green dots tulips… Snape's eyes were caught as always by the twinkling sky blue roses that were growing up the headstone. He watched as Potter performed the same actions than those he had done by his parents' graves. As the parchment was reduced to ashes, the former Gryffindor stood up slowly as if the world was weighing on his shoulders.
"Ready to face your fate like a man, Potter?" he asked with a smirk.
Potter did not spare him a look but Snape saw some blood pearling at the young man's lower lip. He probably bit it too hard to stop himself from rising to his baits.
He felt oddly satisfied at having finally gotten through the brat. He at least had no lost his effect on Potter.
"Come on, Harry. There is a lot we need to do before tomorrow," said Lupin in that voice that never failed to irritate Snape. It was the voice one used to speak to a scared child and loath he was to admit it, Potter had left his childhood behind him years ago.
It seems the brat had taken offence to the man's tone as he would have.
He turned to face the werewolf.
"Never call me Harry again, Lupin. I thought I made myself lost that right the moment you placed that collar around my neck."
"Harry, It was bett…"
He was not allowed to finish his sentence as a fist hit him straight in his face once more.
"Never. Call. Me. Harry. Again." Potter whispered, rage making his voice tremble.
"Enough Gryffindor foolish dramatics," said Lucius stepping in before things could escalate.
He took Lupin's arm and pushed him towards the graveyard's exit.
Snape eyed Potter.
"Such base Muggle methods…" he drawled.
Potter snorted and looked at Dumbledore's grave. Snape did not like one bit the feelings that flashed through the green eyes of the young man.
As Potter turned and walked away, he faintly heard his whispered words.
"So be it."
Kilometres away, a orb sitting on a desk started to glow and smoke left it in lazy swirls before solidifying into a piece of parchment.
The one occupying the desk looked up, a vindicative smile making its way on his face. He took the parchment and hurried to the Library.
The Vampire looked up.
Vanya handed the parchment to him.
"Harry sent word."
Understanding dawned on him immediately and he started hissing softly.
Immediately the writing shifted and morphed into angular and loopy scribbles that made little sense to Vanya but did to Zefir.
Zefir when he had been alive had been a bastard son of the Slytherin line. He had inherited the line's gift of Snake language that allowed him to perform Parselmagic. He had been the one to teach it to young Harry and had placed enchantments on his parents' flames in a last resort way of communication.
A cold smile slowly made his way on the Vampire's face.
He looked up at Vanya.
"Call the Elders and Summon the Council. The Islands and Enclaves' shields will have to be raised."
"What does he say?"
Zefir's smile grew wider.
Vanya smiled back an almost feral look entering his eyes.
Zefir looked back to the parchment in his hand, his fangs lengthening.
"Tomorrow evening, Hogwarts."
Far away from England, a phoenix squawked in protest as a small orb exploded loudly and a parchment appeared on the table.
"What's the trouble Fawkes?" asked someone.
The phoenix glared at him as much as a bird could glare and pointed to the desk with his head.
"Oh dear," sighed the man while stepping in the room. He was an old man with a short white beard, white hair cut short, tanned skin and bright twinkling blue eyes. However his clothes were an eyesore: a rainbow coloured Hawaiian shirt with a pair of turquoise shorts with orange suns completed by an extravagant hay hat with big tropical flowers.
He took the parchment and read through it, the twinkle in his eyes disappearing and a face those who had seen him during the war's darkest hours would have recognized.
He put the parchment down and sighed tiredly.
"They will never learn it seems, Fawkes."
He clapped his hand and a house-elf as crazily dressed as him appeared in the room with a soft pop.
"Master Alby called?"
Albus smiled gently at him.
"Yes, Dobby. I need you and the others to ready the islands."
The small being clapped his hand, his large ears flapping the sides of his head excitedly.
"Master Harry Sir is coming!"
He raised his hand and gently pat the phoenix' head who had come to his shoulder. The bird thrilled inquisitively.
"Yes Fawkes, it seems we will make one last visit to Britain, for young Harry's sake."
The phoenix thrilled once more.
"Indeed Fawkes, it's time for a new dawn…"