Pairings: Harry/Tom(Voldemort), Salazar/Godric, Rowena/Helga, Sirius/Remus, Gin/Ted, Herm/Luna, and others
Warnings: This will have graphic slash, not-so-graphic femslash, and not-so-graphic het, Bella torture, angst like WHOA, mentions of suicidal thoughts
Summary: Sequel to Abandon!
In love with the man he's expected to kill and member of the esteemed Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter must fight in a war in which he is divided. Can he lead his world to peace?
Disclaim Her: I have apples and caramel dip. Can we say heaven?
A/N: So, I wanted to get this out yesterday, but my lovely beta forgot to send it to me and then my laptop in my dorm was being an arse - I have to take it to the IT people ASAP - so I did a classical lazy!Bats and played on my GameBoy instead. -shame-
Don't complain. It's a day earlier and it's monsterously long. XD
'Wednesday the 10th of December 2008
'So I found you while I was packing all my things for Christmas break at the Manor. I remember the day Herm gave you to me. Christmas of '97. Wow. It seems so long ago. Since then Herm's twins were born - they're starting Hogwarts in two years - Gin lost and regained her voice, I became a professor then quit then returned - this is my sixth full year teaching - Albus got put in Azkaban and died after going more insane than usual, the house-elves finally allowed Ron to starve after he kicked Giggles, peace reigned over the Wizarding World, I adopted Cynthia - the little horror - and, yes! Tom and I got married this past summer! It was a wonderful wedding, and then we went to Cuba for our honeymoon - I didn't know Tom spoke Spanish!
'Oh, I don't know what else to say! Everyone's doing well. Herm's working part-time in the wizarding library in down-town London and taking care of Gal and Gerda. Luna got a job in the Department of Mysteries after the war ended. Those two better be having their wedding soon - they're so cute together!
'Gin and Ted got married Christmas of '99. It was a sweet little ceremony - very small. Gin's here teaching Transfiguration now while Ted's taken over his father's job as aide to the Minister - even though Mad-Eye still freaks him out.
' 'Bini's also working with Alastor, though they seem to get on better than Alastor and Ted do! As for Seam? He's slowly moving up in the ranks of the Magical Law Enforcement - especially since Madame Bones handed her job over to Sue. As for Seam and 'Bini as a couple? Once a year, it seems, they break up, date someone they work with for a month, then get back together and pledge eternal devotion. I'm waiting for them to just give up and tie the knot.
'Fred and George, if you'll believe it, admitted to 'dating' each other a few years ago and have been much more open about it since - much to Molly's aggravation. Their business is doing smashing - I can't tell you how many detentions there have been that I've handed out because of one of their products in the past few months.
'Molly and Arthur are doing pretty well as well. Arthur's still happy with his place as head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office. Last I knew, Molly was still trying to get him to retire.
'Parvati moved to France with Pan. Last I heard from them, they were planning to get married in January. Parvati's still in British International Law, but Pan's got a job with the French Ministry, so they think they'll just stay over there.
'Poppy and Sevvie moved back here to Hogwarts after the war and returned to their old positions - courtesy of our lovely Headmistress, Minerva. At least Sev's being a bit easier on the students, though. And Poppy's got Sal and Leana helping her out, so she's got a much better temperament. We still have tea together, and Scamp got pregnant again last month - isn't that cat getting too old to get pregnant! - and I can't wait for the litter to be born. Ula managed to talk Poppy into giving her one of the kittens after I told her that she couldn't have Smoky.
'Remy and Sirius came onboard here at Hogwarts too - I agree with Sev, what was Minnie thinking! Sirius teaches Muggle Studies while Remy's teaching Care of Magical Creatures. They finally got married too, about three years ago.
'And don't worry about Hagrid, he asked to just be Keeper of the Grounds and Keys again, so Minnie granted it and dragged Remy back.
'Mandy and Terry finally broke up - that was one crazy match! - and now Mandy's dating Millie - she tells me it's because they both work in the Department of Mysteries and they like coming home and being able to share things. As for Terry? He's dating Lisa right now, but I heard a rumour from Morag that he's really got his eye on Justin Flinch-Fletchley. Too bad for Terry that Justin's dating Hannah Abbot and shows no inclination towards the male sex! Morag himself is dating Padma right now.
'Nev took over Pomona's old job here when she retired last year - Rolanda Hooch took over as Head of Hufflepuff over four years ago, since she had less to do that Pomona at the time. When Tom and I got back from Cuba, I found out that Nev and Dray had gotten drunk - I, wisely, didn't ask for details - and have started dating since then.
'I finally told Tom who 'Bob Jhonen' was after the war was officially declared over. Tom and Abe have only become better friends since then, much to my surprise.
'Rowena is still teaching History of Magic, but with the help from the other three Founders. The students seem to enjoy them, especially when the four start acting like friends instead of teachers. I've actually heard quite a few good things about Salazar.
'Cynthia is having fun traveling around the world. Tom teased her once that she just likes having money to waste, since her father was very strict when it came to money and possessions. Ula, on the other hand, took up a job in the Ministry working with the elves who she loves so. Her girlfriend - Enid Clough, if you'll believe it - is helping her.
'As for myself and Tom? Well, like I said, we got married this summer and honeymooned in Cuba. I'm teaching Defence at Hogwarts and am the Deputy Headmaster, as well as Head of Gryffindor. I don't particularly mind the work, though, since Tom lives here at the school and helps me all the time - I think that's the reason Minnie gave me so much work, actually, because she knew Tom would help me. Outside of the school, Tom works with Alastor - getting those two to make friendly was one of the great challenges of the Peace - and they agree - or disagree, really - on the laws for the Wizarding World. I am proud of Tom, though. He was the one who suggested working with Alastor, rather than taking over the whole Ministry. He said it would be easier to control people if they thought they had some amount of control over themselves - typical Tom - but he's still a fair leader. If people knew that Voldemort was behind fifty percent of the decisions the Ministry makes, they'd probably revolt. However, since he considers everything they ask of the Ministry on unbiased grounds, they really have no reason to complain. I've seen Tom and Alastor argue about things that a Muggleborn requested and Tom was actually the one on the Muggleborn's side! He's changed a lot from when he killed my parents twenty-eight years ago.
'Uh-oh! Here comes Herm! Thanks for giving me some time to talk!
"There's a horror here for you," Tom commented dryly, poking his head into Harry's office at the Manor.
"Mr Harry!" Cynthia slipped past the Dark Lord and met Harry when he was half-way around his desk with a hug. "I haven't seen you in absolute months and I come home to find you working!" the young woman berated her adopted father.
Harry offered his daughter a sheepish smile. "I thought you weren't getting back from Beijing until tomorrow..."
"Which is probably why she came a day early," Tom teased with an evil smirk.
Cynthia gave her other adopted father a calculating look. "And how about you, Mr Tom. How much work have you done since break started?"
"Nothing," Tom claimed.
"Liar! You had a meeting at the Ministry yesterday!"
The Dark Lord gave his husband an amused look. "Are you in primary school, Harry?"
Harry stuck his tongue out in response.
Cynthia rolled her eyes. "You two are absolutely ridiculous. Come on, Mr Harry. You and Mr Tom and I are all going to go sit in the kitchen and trade tales over some hot cocoa," she ordered, taking a hold of Harry's arm and half-dragging him from the office.
"Yes, Cynthia," Harry replied helplessly before grabbing Tom's arm and pulling him along after them.
"To another year of the Peace among Wizard-kind!" Alastor called.
"Hear, hear!" everyone around the large table called and clinked glasses.
House-elves scurried about with trays piled with ham and turkey and potatoes in various forms and vegetables and fruits and rolls and any number of amazing things for Christmas Eve dinner. All forty-two members of the table gladly took the offered food and filled their plates with cheer-filled chatter and good-humoured banter.
Once everyone had been served, Ted clinked his spoon against his glass of wine with a smile. "Gin and I have something to announce," he informed the table once they'd fallen silent.
"Ted!" Gin called, blushing brightly.
"Well, go on then," Ula ordered.
Gin shot the younger witch an annoyed look as Ted cleared his throat. "Gin, my dearest wife and the love of my life-"
"Get on with it, Nott!" Pan called across the table. Her shout was followed by a round of good-natured laughter.
"Oh, sit down, Ted," Gin ordered, standing herself. "What Ted is incapable of saying without embellishing his every word, is that I'm pregnant."
The dinning room filled with congratulations, cheers, and more laughter. They all silenced when Harry stood, green eyes glittering brightly. "To my sister and brother-in-law and their soon-to-be brat, I wish you many years of happiness," he stated solemnly with his wineglass raised.
"Hear, hear!" came the response and glasses were clinked again. Harry sat back down next to his husband, who was trying not to laugh at Harry's choice of words.
Padma stood with her glass raised next and everyone looked over to her with a smile. "To my sister and her lovely fiancée, I wish you both eternal happiness and a beautiful wedding next month."
"Hear, hear!" everyone shouted while Pan and Parvati blushed.
Dean stood next. "To my best mate and his lover, when the hell are you two going to get married!"
Everyone laughed, even 'Bini and Seam. Then Seam stood. "To my best mate, when the hell are you going to hook up with someone!"
Everyone laughed again.
Gerda and Gal traded looks, then Gerda stood. "To Mum and Luna, are you two ever going to get married?"
Everyone laughed again and Harry gave his godchildren a thumbs up, which earned him a cold look from his elder sister.
Then Herm stood, looking determined not to smile. "To my wonderful children, how much longer until you're off to Hogwarts again?"
"Anything but that!" Harry and Tom shouted amongst the laughter that followed Herm's words.
Gal and Gerda turned doe-eyes on their godfather and his husband, which earned them even more laughter.
Anytime the group of friends got together, they were like that. They all laughed and teased. Their friendship was what they wanted their world to become - purebloods, halfbloods, Muggleborns, and Muggles all together as friends.
Petunia stepped up to her nephew while he was talking politics with Tom, Mad-Eye, Tonks, Abe, Arthur, 'Bini, Ted, Dray, Lucius, Parvati, Rabastan, Severus, Rodolphus, and Minerva. Everyone turned to greet the aging Muggle with kind smiles and Petunia smiled in return. "Do you mind if I steal Harry?"
"Off with you," Tom ordered his husband with a grin.
Harry stuck out his tongue, then took his aunt's offered hand and the two stepped away from the various groups and out into the garden. Once away from the constant chatter of their strange family, the two embraced. "Hello, Aunt Petunia," Harry murmured.
"Hello, dear," Petunia replied, kissing Harry's cheek, then motioning towards a bench. As they sat, Petunia inquired, "How was Cuba?"
"Lovely. A bit warm, though." The two traded smiles. "How was Italy?"
"Beautiful, thank you for the tickets."
"You're most welcome."
The two fell into a companionable silence for a long moment and just watched the stars.
It was Harry who broke the silence. "I've been curious about something for a while."
"What?" Petunia smiled over at her nephew.
"Do you ever miss Uncle Vernon? Or Dudley?"
Petunia frowned. That wasn't the sort of question she'd ever have expected from Harry. "Why?"
Harry shrugged. "Guilt, I guess."
Petunia's lips curved up into a bitter smile. "I miss Vernon sometimes when I have to do my taxes or when I see a happy couple out on the town. Sometimes I miss Dudley when I'm making dinner or when I turn on the telly. Honestly, though, I miss you more." Petunia brushed a lock of long black hair out of Harry's face. "When I come home after work or when I leave for work, there's no one to greet me. There's no one to talk with over a meal or to help me set the table. When I have a bad day, I don't even think about Vernon or Dudley. Rather, I wonder if I could find a way to make a cell phone work in Hogwarts so I can give you a ring."
Harry bit his lower lip and hugged his aunt. How was it that Petunia always knew exactly what to say, even when Tom had found no words after years of trying?
After a long moment of silent comforting, Harry pulled away and said, "We should probably head back in for the gift exchange."
"Probably," Petunia agreed.
As there were so many people in their large group, and the number seemed to shift from year to year depending on who was dating whom, they all put their names in a hat during the first week of November. Whoever's name you picked was the one you had to get a gift for. It could be a prank gift or a serious one. Dray had suggested it back in 2000 during their annual get together before the new Hogwarts year started. Every year, it seemed, was sillier than the last.
Everyone gathered around the large Christmas tree in the Manor's old meeting room. Under the tree sat a pile of forty-two presents, some small, some large, and all done up in colourful wrappings that made the space under the tree look like a mixed-up rainbow.
"Who gave the last gift last year?" Tom asked once everyone had taken a seat.
"Mad-Eye!" Tonks announced loudly.
Everyone turned to Mad-Eye as he stood and found the gift from him under the tree. Once he'd grabbed it, it clunked over to Tom and held it out. "To Mr Tom Riddle-Potter."
Tom took the gift wearily. "I'm terrified," he informed the Minister, then opened it. The look of horror on his face made everyone crack up.
Mad-Eye clunked back to his seat. "You needed a new pair of dress robes - I'm sick of black."
"But...pink!" Tom squeaked. Everyone laughed again.
"You'll have to try it on later, love," Harry suggested, gently prying the box from his husband's hands. "Go give your gift now."
Tom blinked a few times, then shot Mad-Eye a dangerous look before standing and retrieving his gift from the pile. He handed the black-wrapped box to Fred. "To Mr Fred Weasley," he informed the concerned-looking young man before returning to his seat.
Fred unwrapped the gift, then gave the containing box a weary look. Slowly, he opened it. When nothing happened, he glanced into the box and got punched in the face.
"Funny, mate," Fred grumbled, rubbing gently at his eye.
George snorted in amusement at his brother. "Oh, go on, Fred. That was lovely, Tom."
"I rather thought so," Tom agreed, looking pleased with himself.
Fred grabbed his gift from the pile and walked it over to his father. "To Mr Arthur Weasley."
Arthur took the box carefully. "Is this going to be the year of prank gifts?" he inquired dryly as he opened the package.
"Nope," Fred replied, walking back over to his seat.
"Wow!" Arthur pulled out an old-fashioned wall phone. "This is wonderful, Fred! Thank you!"
"Sure thing, Dad," Fred replied with a grin.
Molly took the gift from her husband's hands carefully. "Go on, Arthur."
"Of course, yes..." Arthur stood and picked his own gift out of the pile, which he then handed over to Pan. "To Ms Pansy Parkinson."
Pan smiled, then opened up the small box and pulled out a small plastic thing with a piece of paper. "Translator?" She glanced over at Arthur with an amused smile.
"Since you work with Muggles so often, I thought you could use that if you found yourself fishing for a word," Arthur offered. "The instructions for it are on that paper."
"Thank you, Arthur," Pan replied before getting up and grabbing her gift. "To Mr Draco Malfoy," she announced, handing the gift over to an amused-looking Dray.
Dray opened the small box, then burst out laughing. "A cracked mirror!"
"Your ego was getting too big," Pan informed her childhood friend. Everyone laughed.
Dray got up and pulled his gift from the pile, then handed it over to 'Bini. "To Mr Blaise Zabini."
'Bini made a face, then opened the large-ish box. "Oh! Thanks, Dray!"
Dray smiled. "You did say you needed new dress robes."
'Bini pulled out the silvery-green silk dress robe and everyone oohed and aahed over it, then he put it away and got up to get his gift. He handed the small box over to Petunia. "To Ms Petunia Evans."
Petunia smiled and waited until 'Bini had retaken his seat before opening the small box and letting out a surprised gasp. "Oh, Blaise, it's beautiful."
"Show it around, then," Gin called from the other side of the group.
Petunia pulled out the small golden ring and held it up. It was a phoenix with its wings wrapping around the band. Everyone silently agreed that it was beautiful and Harry shot 'Bini a grin. 'Bini looked relieved.
Petunia pulled her smallish box out from under the tree, then handed it over to Morag with a smirk. "To Mr Morag MacDougal."
"Bloody hell," Morag muttered as Petunia returned to her seat, then opened the box. "Petunia!"
Petunia cracked up. "You might need them."
Morag showed off the box of condoms for his curious audience, then blushed when everyone laughed. "I'll get you eventually," Morag warned the Muggle, who just laughed some more.
"Oh, go on," Padma elbowed her boyfriend gently.
Morag stood and, muttering under his breath, pulled out his gift, then handed it over to Severus. "To Mr Severus Snape," he said, then fled back to his seat as Severus scowled.
"Open it," Rabastan ordered his lover with a smirk.
Severus sighed and opened the gift, then allowed a rare smile. "Thank you, Mr MacDougal. It's a box of Egyptian herbs," he informed his curious audience.
"Nice," Rabastan nodded to Morag, who grinned.
Severus stood and picked up a bag, which he then held out to Sirius. "It is my displeasure to offer this to you, Mr Sirius Black."
Sirius pulled out of the bag a large bone, then burst out laughing. "Nice one!"
Severus smirked while everyone else laughed.
Sirius handed the bag and bone over to Remus, then grabbed his gift and walked it over to Luna. "To Ms Luna Lovegood."
Luna smiled airily and unwrapped her gift. She shot Sirius an amused look when she saw it, then pulled out a roll of star charts. "Nice, Mr Black."
"I'm glad you like," Sirius replied among the laughter that followed.
Luna pulled a small box out of the pile, then walked over to Herm. "To Ms Hermione Granger-Potter," Luna started, then got down on one knee and opened the box. "Will you marry me?"
Herm burst into tears and hugged her girlfriend tightly. "Oh, God, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes."
Harry stood and started clapping. Everyone else followed, with a few of the less mature members of the group whistling.
When Herm pulled away from her now fiancée and let Luna place the ring on her finger, everyone else sat down. "Thanks, guys," Herm whispered. Once Luna had retaken her seat, Herm stood and pulled her gift out from under the tree and walked it over to Dean. "To Mr Dean Thomas."
"Sit, Herm," Dean ordered, taking the gift. Herm gave him a watery smile and retook her seat next to Luna. Dean pulled open the gift, then whistled. "Nice, Herm. Thanks." He held up a new drawing pad and an attached case of drawing pencils.
"You're most welcome," Herm replied softly, wiping at her eyes with a tissue that Gal had handed over.
Dean set his new things down, then grabbed his gift. "To Ms Minerva McGonagall," he said, handing the gift over to Minerva.
Minerva gave her once-student a sharp look as he hurried back to his seat, then opened the thin package carefully. "This is lovely, Mr Thomas," she allowed, showing off the amazingly detailed picture of herself morphing into her cat form.
"I'm glad you like it, ma'am," Dean replied with a relieved look.
Minerva set the picture gently to one side, then stood and pulled out a small, oval-shaped case, which she then handed over to Tonks. "To Ms Nymphadora Tonks."
Tonks opened the case carefully, then let out a snort. "Glasses, Minerva?"
"In hopes that you will stop running in to everything," Minerva replied with a faint smile.
Everyone laughed while Tonks grinned. "Thanks, Professor." Then she stood and pulled out her own gift. "To Ms Lisa Turpin," she said, handing over the heavy box.
Lisa cocked an eyebrow at the Third Auror, then ripped off the wrapping. "Nice," she commented holding up the book on fighting styles. "Am I learning how to karate chop vampires now?"
"Why not?" Tonks replied with a grin.
Lisa laughed with the others in the group as she got up and pulled out her own gift. "To Mr Rodolphus Lestrange."
Rodolphus unwrapped his gift, then grinned. "Thank you, Lisa," he said, showing off the book on sword swings and the various swords you use them with.
Rodolphus stood and pulled out his gift then handed it over to Terry. "To Mr Terry Boot."
Terry unwrapped his gift as Rodolphus returned to his seat. "Thanks," he said sarcastically, showing off the book on meditation.
"I thought you could use some help with that violent temper of yours that's always getting you into trouble," Rodolphus replied with a smirk. "It helped Harry."
"Thanks, Rodolphus," Harry offered sarcastically. Everyone laughed.
Terry pulled out his gift, then handed it over to Mandy. "To Ms Mandy Brocklehurst."
Mandy smiled and opened the gift slowly, then grinned. "Thanks, Terry!" she called, holding up the Secret Notebook. It had just hit the shelves two weeks before and was supposed to keep anything written inside of it hidden from all eyes but those belonging to the writer.
"Sure thing," Terry replied with a faint smile.
Mandy stood and pulled out a medium-sized box, which she then handed over to Millie. "To Ms Millicent Bulstrode."
Millie smiled at her girlfriend and opened the gift, then laughed happily. Within was a memory box that contained what seemed like hundreds of rose petals. "Thanks, Mandy," Millie sighed, kissing her girlfriend.
"Of course, love."
Millie smiled and got up to get her gift. "To Ms Ula Thorald."
Ula pulled open the box with all the excitement of a young child, then grinned at what she received. "Cool! A scrap booking kit! Thanks, Millie!"
"Sure thing, kid."
Ula handed her gift over to Lucius with a smirk. "To Mr Lucius Malfoy."
Lucius narrowed his eyes at the gift, then opened it. He groaned when he looked inside, then shook his cane threateningly at Ula. "You little wretch."
"What did she get you, dear?" Narcissa asked.
Lucius held up a blonde hair-dyeing kit. Everyone laughed.
"I thought you might need help with those grey hairs!" Ula called out, laughing with everyone else.
Lucius sniffed, then stood and grabbed his gift. "To Mr Alastor Moody," he said, holding the long, thin gift out to the Minister.
Mad-Eye accepted the gift, then opened it. It was a cane. "An interesting gift, Lucius," he commented.
"There's a concealed knife in the bottom and your wand fits in the top," Lucius explained evenly.
"Thank you," Mad-Eye allowed, then looked around the circle with a sharp eye. "Galvin."
Gal stood with an annoyed look, then pulled out his gift. He held the small box out to his grandmother. "To Ms Molly Weasley."
Molly opened the gift, then pulled Gal into a hug. "Thank you so much, dear!"
Arthur held up the gift for everyone to see. It was a mother's ring. Upon the band were a bundle of twelve gems. Each gem was the birthstone of one of those whom she considered a child. "So, who all is on here, Molly?" Arthur asked as Molly put it on.
Molly smiled at the group around them. "Well, Fred and George, Ginny, Bill, and Charlie, of course. Then Harry, Hermione, Luna, Ted, Cynthia, Gal, and Gerda."
"Thanks, Molly," Harry whispered while the others whom she'd named all smiled at her thankfully.
Tom, however, put on a mock annoyed look. "And what about me?"
"You're too old, you geezer," Ula declared.
Everyone laughed and Harry had to hold Tom back while he pretended to go at the squealing young witch.
Molly stood and pulled out her gift. Everyone fell silent as she handed it over to Ted. "To Mr Theodore Nott."
Ted smiled and unwrapped the gift. It was a green scarf. He put it on, then got up to give his mother-in-law, who had returned to her seat, a hug. "Thanks, Mum."
"Of course," Molly replied, kissing his cheek.
Ted pulled his gift out of the pile, then handed it over to Harry. "To Mr Harry Potter-Riddle. Don't let your husband kill me."
Everyone laughed and Tom gave Ted a dry look while the younger wizard returned quickly to his seat. Harry just smiled and opened the gift. Inside was a fake nose ring, which he put on with a grin. Everyone in the room laughed again while Tom attempted to get Harry to take it off.
Finally getting away from his husband, with the nose ring still in his nose, Harry pulled his own gift from the pile and held it out to George. "To Mr George Weasley."
"You two got us?" Fred groaned. "George, for the love of Merlin, don't open that."
George laughed, then pulled it open. Within was a clown doll that looked exactly like the twins. "Cute! It can be our new mascot!"
"You weren't supposed to like it!" Tom called back as Harry settled in his lap.
"You've failed," George assured the scarlet-eyed man as he took his gift over to Gerda. "To Ms Gerda Granger."
"What did you give her, you fiend!" Herm demanded.
"Nothing too dangerous!" George replied, arms raised in surrender.
Gerda opened her gift and grinned. "Thanks, Uncle George," she said, showing her new book of beginner pranks to the group.
"Absolutely not!" Herm shouted, reaching for the book.
Gerda handed the gift over to Gal, who sat on it with a grin, then picked up her gift. "To Mr Neville Longbottom. Mum picked it out."
Everyone laughed as Herm gave her daughter a sharp look.
Nev opened the gift, then smiled over at mother and daughter. "Thank you, both," he said sincerely as he showed off the new book on Arctic plants. Then he stood and got his own gift, which he handed over to Remus. "To Mr Remus Lupin."
Remus opened the small box and read the card within, then cocked his eyebrow at Nev, who was still standing in front of him. "It's back at the school?"
"It's a Venus Flytrap," Nev explained. "I wasn't sure how Tom would have reacted to it, and it's difficult to wrap living things. I'll bring it over when we get back."
"Thank you," Remus replied with an honest smile. He waited until Nev had returned to his seat before getting his own gift, which he handed over to Rabastan. "To Mr Rabastan Lestrange."
Rabastan opened the long box as Remus sat back down, then let out a whistle. "Beautiful, Remus," he called, holding up the old sword in it's decorated scabbard.
"You're welcome," Remus replied.
Rabastan put the sword away carefully, then grabbed his own gift. "To Ms Narcissa Malfoy."
Narcissa opened the small box and smiled, holding up the small hand mirror. The back was a design of flowers done in gold. "This is beautiful, Rabastan," she murmured.
"I'm glad you like it," Rabastan replied.
Narcissa gave the mirror to Lucius to hold then picked up her gift and gave it to Gin. "To Ms Ginevra Nott. I meant it as a joke, but I suppose you can think of it as an early gift."
Gin gave Narcissa a curious look, then opened the bag. She pulled out a miniature crib with a laugh. "This is lovely, Narcissa. Thank you."
"Think nothing of it, dear," Narcissa replied, kissing both of Gin's cheeks before returning to her seat.
Gin gave the bag and crib over to her husband, then picked up her gift from under the tree. "To Ms Padma Patil."
Padma gladly took the offered gift, then motioned Gin to her seat. Once Gin was seated, Padma opened the gift and laughed. "Thank you, Gin!" she called, showing off the picture book on Muggle transport.
Gin smiled while everyone laughed.
Padma got up and picked up her gift, then handed it over to her sister. "To Ms Parvati Patil."
Parvati opened the gift, then gasped and hugged her sister tightly. "Thank you so very much," she whispered. Pan held up the book of poems about sisters and everyone smiled.
Parvati sent Padma back to her seat and picked out her gift from the dwindling pile. "To Ms Cynthia Potter-Riddle."
Cynthia opened her gift curiously, then grinned. "Thanks, Parvati!" she called, hugging her new travel log book.
"Your father told me your old one had just about run out," Parvati said with a smile.
"Yeah." Cynthia gave a heavy sigh, then stood and grabbed her gift. She handed it over to Poppy. "To Ms Poppy Pomfrey."
Poppy opened the box cautiously, then smiled happily. "Thank you very much, Cynthia," she said, showing off the bottles of Chinese potions with care.
"Sure thing, Mz Poppy."
Poppy smiled at the girl's name for her as she got up to get her gift. "To Mr Aberforth Dumbledore."
Abe opened the small box, then laughed. "Are you trying to tell me something, Poppy?" he asked, holding up the bar of soap.
"Yes. Your bar is filthy, Abe. If you need more soap, I'll certainly lend you some."
Abe laughed with the rest of the circle and grabbed his gift. "To Mr Galvin Granger."
Gal unwrapped his gift under the watchful eye of his mother. Within was a slab of Honeydukes and a slip of paper for one free bottle of butterbeer at the Hog's Head whenever Gal wanted. "Thanks, Abe!"
"Of course, Gal."
Gal looked around at the group. "Uh. Uncle Seamus."
Seam got up and grabbed his gift, then held it out to Sal. "To Ms Sally-Anne Perks."
Sal took the case of clinking bottles with a worried look. She let out a relieved sigh when she opened it and found butterbeer inside instead of something else. "Thanks, Seam."
"I was gonna get you firewhiskey, but 'Bini stopped me," Seam complained.
"Thanks, 'Bini," Sal said, walking over to get her gift. 'Bini winked. "To Ms Enid Clough," Sal said, handing the small case over.
Enid opened her gift and smiled up at Sal. "Thanks," she whispered, showing off the small medical kit she'd received.
"Go on," Ula urged, taking the kit from her girlfriend's hands.
Enid smiled faintly and grabbed the last gift under the tree, which she then presented to Seam. "To Mr Seamus Finnegan."
Seam opened the gift quickly, then laughed. Inside was a case of the best elfin ale. "Thanks, Enid. You're okay."
"Do you remember our first Christmas together?" Harry asked while he and Tom were sitting out in the garden. Only Cynthia remained at the Manor and she had already retired to her room.
Tom glanced over at his husband with a smile. "I do. I got the most precious gift ever that year."
Harry smiled and leaned against Tom's shoulder. "That necklace isn't that important, is it?" he teased, tugging at the necklace he'd given his husband on that Christmas day so long ago.
Tom chuckled and captured Harry's lips with a gentle kiss. "No, you prat, I got you."
Harry blushed. "Old bastard," he stated fondly.
"Little imp," Tom shot back.
Harry let out an amused sound. "It seems like so long ago now."
"I suppose eleven years is a long time..." Tom agreed.
Harry smiled up at scarlet eyes. "I liked last Christmas best."
"Oh?" Tom cocked an eyebrow at the green-eyed wizard.
"Yup. I got this beautiful ring and the promise of a life with the man I love," Harry said, gazing at the ruby and emerald ring on his left hand.
"I thought you already had that promise," Tom teased.
"Did I mention the ring?" Harry shot back.
Tom chuckled. "You did."
The two sat in silence for a long moment, just staring up at the stars that glittered above them.
Finally, Tom moved, shifting Harry from where he'd been leaning against him. "I'm heading in now."
Harry nodded. "I'll be a little longer, I think."
"That's fine." Tom leaned over and kissed his husband one last time before slipping back into the Manor.
Harry got up after a few more minutes and headed up to the bedrooms. On his way to the room he shared with Tom, he poked his head into Cynthia's room, since the door was open. His daughter was sleeping away peacefully, but her blanket had slipped off her bed and onto the floor. With a smile, Harry slipped in and set it back over her.
"Daddy?" Cynthia muttered, half-asleep.
Harry froze for half a moment - Cynthia had never called him anything other than 'Mr Harry', asleep or awake - before leaning over and kissing the young woman's forehead. "Sleep well, Cynthia."
"K..." Cynthia turned back over and curled up in a ball, falling easily back to sleep.
Feeling strangely elated, Harry slipped from Cynthia's room and down the hall to the room he shared with Tom. He slipped inside, closing the door quietly behind himself, then turned around and froze.
Standing in the middle of the room was Tom, completely naked except for a ribbon that was tied around his rather excited-looking cock. He grinned at his gaping husband. "I would tell you that you can't open me until midnight, but I'm horny right now."
Harry let out a laugh. "Tom, you arse. I should totally make you wait."
Tom's eyes widened comically. "You wouldn't."
Harry slinked up to his lover and slid his hands up the elder man's abdomen and chest. "More like I can't," he informed the other before fisting Tom's hair and jamming their lips together in the perfect mesh of tongue and heat and wet. Together their mouths danced the steps they'd become so familiar with over the years while Harry's free hand roamed over tight muscles and warming flesh.
When the two parted for air, Harry stepped back and quickly slipped from his robe and slacks, leaving them in a pile on the floor. Tom rolled his eyes, but didn't bother saying anything. If he'd learned anything in the past eleven years, it was that Harry wasn't going to pick up after himself and if Tom himself cleaned it, it was sure to be on the floor again in the morning.
The two men fell into their bed in a practised sort of flop, Harry landing on top without any struggle - a rare occurrence, what with Tom's preference to be the dominate one more often than not. With a smirk, Harry straddled his husband's chest, taking care to not touch Tom's straining member, and folded his arms over his chest. "I think I will make you wait, actually."
Tom let out a groan. "You little monster," he claimed, fighting a losing battle with the smile that was slowly making it's way across his lips.
Harry unfolded his arms and gently rested his hands against Tom's chest. "You love me," he declared in response, eyes glittering brightly.
"Of course I do, you prat," Tom replied with good humour. "If I didn't, I'd have run off with Bella nine years ago."
Harry's expression softened. "I'm grateful for that every day," he assured his husband, placing an emotion-filled kiss upon Tom's lips. He clearly remembered the love potion that Bellatrix had fed the Dark Lord a few days before the Peace Treaty was to be signed. Tom had become absolutely besotted with the woman and Harry, in a flight of heartache, had fled back to his aunt's home. When Alastor had found out what had happened - Petunia had owled him as soon as she'd dragged it from her distraught young nephew - he'd placed a huge price on the female Lestrange's head. Bellatrix had fled England when they came for her, dragging Tom along with her. They were going past a small village near the northern coast of Scotland when Tom caught sight of a picture of Harry and suddenly Apparated away to find his lover.
Tom ran a hand down Harry's cheek, gently wiping a few tears away. "I shouldn't have said anything," he murmured, mostly to himself.
Harry shook his head, crystal-like tears flying away from him and landing silently on the black silk sheets beneath them. "I love you," he murmured before leaning over and capturing Tom's lips with his once again.
Tom let his lover have control of the kiss, gently running his hands up and down Harry's back. When Harry pulled back, it was with a glint in his eyes that made Tom want to be fucked long and hard by his husband. "What?" he asked instead, wondering briefly why he was having trouble breathing.
Harry glanced up at the clock that hung over their bed, then smirked down at Tom. "It's midnight," he offered just as the large grandfather clock down the hall started to strike the hour in low, carrying notes. With each 'dong', Harry's fingers brushed across Tom's right thigh, getting closer and closer to his member as the clock 'dong'ed closer and closer to twelve.
At the eleventh 'dong', though, Harry's fingers stopped and he lifted up off Tom's stomach. Just as Tom was going to ask what Harry was doing, the clock 'dong'ed again and Tom found out in a rush as Harry sat on his member, somehow managing to get Tom deep into his arse without any harm. Harry watched with an evil smile as Tom fought hard to keep from making a sound in the silence following the twelfth strike of the great clock.
:Imp: Tom finally allowed with a groan.
Harry contained a shiver of pleasure - even after eleven years, hearing Tom speak Parseltongue was like tasting the Forbidden Fruit. :Aren't I just: was his cocky reply before he gently rose up, then jerked back down, furthering Tom's entrance into his arse.
Tom moaned, giving in to his husband's silent demands. He had said Harry could unwrap him, after all.
As Harry started to slowly move on Tom's member, he let his mind drift along the magic that connected them. Without a word, Tom opened himself to his lover and husband and the two found themselves drowning in the feelings of each other. Both felt the other in and around them - penetrating and being penetrated all at once. This was the true gift that Tom had wanted to give the man who had unfrozen his heart eleven and a half years before.
It felt like hours - though it was mere moments - later that the two came as one and Harry collapsed on top of Tom. Tom wanted to bring his arms up to hug his husband tightly, but he didn't think he could move that far.
Harry's laughter echoed only within their minds. I suppose I finally get to do what I wanted to do all those years ago, he commented tiredly.
And what might that be, my imp? Tom responded, letting his eyes fall closed.
Sleep with you inside me.
Tom's mental laughter lulled them both to an easy sleep without nightmares, only dreams of one another.
Harry and Tom woke to find Cynthia standing over them with an evil smirk. "Mr Harry, Mr Tom's got his cock up your arse," she informed them matter-of-factly.
"Jealous?" Tom replied evenly.
Harry just rolled his eyes. He was used to his daughter walking in on them in the morning and commenting on their state of undress. Tom's comebacks were also rote by then. "Oh, stop it, both of you," he muttered into Tom's chest. "Cynthia, do you mind?"
"Not at all, Dad," Cynthia replied before scampering out of the room and closing the door on the pair of staring eyes behind her.
Tom and Harry traded shocked looks. "Did she call me what I think she called me?" Harry whispered to his husband.
"Yes," Tom whispered back, floored. He knew that he'd mentioned to Cynthia that Harry would love it if she'd call him 'dad', but he hadn't expected this.
Harry carefully slipped off of Tom, then, throwing on his house robe quickly, dashed from the room to shower his blushing adopted daughter with hugs and kisses.
Tom followed them after pulling on a pair of soft pants and his own house robe. As a last thought, he also pulled out a pair of soft pants for his husband, knowing Harry would be glad for them once he'd gotten down from his high.
As expected, Harry took the offered pants from Tom as soon as Tom offered them with a bright smile. "Thanks, love," Harry murmured, leaning up to kiss the corner of his husband's mouth. Tom just smiled and ruffled his hair.
Cynthia smiled at her two fathers - she was glad they were always so in love - then cleared her throat. "Before we attack the tree, I was wondering if I might introduce you to someone?" she said, fighting down a blush.
"Finally found someone, I see," Tom teased, his scarlet eyes bright with laughter.
Cynthia huffed. "Old bastard," she declared before leading her two fathers down the grand staircase and past the living room and their offices before stopping before the receiving room door and shooting them both pleading looks. "Please don't scare him off?" she whispered, desperate.
Harry smiled kindly. "Of course not, sweetheart," he replied. Tom surprised Cynthia by nodding seriously next to his husband.
Cynthia bit her lower lip, then pushed the door open nervously. "Yeo?"
A tall, thin man with light copper-coloured skin and midnight eyes stood from the couch and turned to face the door. He looked poised for battle as Cynthia led her two fathers in and Harry briefly wondered what the young man had been told about them. The two factions of men stared at one another over a rift of space, Cynthia's concerned gaze the dividing line.
Yeo broke the silence. "I am Huang Yeo," he stated in accented English as he bowed respectfully before the two infamous wizards before him. He'd heard tales about how brutal these two men could be, especially Lord Voldemort, since childhood. Only since meeting Cynthia had he heard anything good about them. When Yeo looked up at them after his bow, he found Harry smiling while Tom wore a faint smirk.
"Harry Potter-Riddle," Harry replied lightly, then jerked his thumb at his husband. "He's Tom Riddle-Potter."
"Welcome to Slytherin Manor," Tom added.
Cynthia let out a relieved sigh. "Prats," she muttered.
Yeo startled as both of the Dark Wizards broke out into pleasant laughter. "Thank you," he whispered as their laughter died down.
Harry's smile widened. "Yeo, would you care to join us in opening gifts?"
"It would be my pleasure, sir," Yeo replied softly.
"Harry," the green-eyed man corrected, then turned to his daughter and husband. "Shall we? I want to see what Siri got you this year, Tom."
"I'll be putting up wards on this house against that godmutt of yours," Tom muttered darkly as he led the way from the room. Harry following close behind.
Cynthia and Yeo traded relieved looks. "I told you," Cynthia whispered, referring to her comment during one of their talks about how her fathers were quite human.
Yeo took Cynthia's hand gently in one of his own. "So you did," he allowed. "Shall we follow them?"
"We'd best. Don't want Mr Tom coming back in here after us."
After all four humans in the Slytherin Manor had settled in the old meeting room in chairs around the large Christmas tree with tea and a tray of fruit - courtesy of the house-elves - both Harry and Tom looked over to Cynthia expectantly.
Cynthia grinned. Ever since Harry had adopted her, she was given first pick at the pile of gifts under the tree, as she was the youngest. Excited, as always, she slipped off her chair and pulled out three similar-looking gifts. These she handed out to her fathers and Yeo. "Open them!" she ordered, almost bouncing.
Tom and Harry traded amused looks before following Yeo's lead and opening their own gifts.
Yeo let out a pleased sound and pulled out twin Butterfly swords with the ease of a practised swordsman. "These are beautiful, Cynthia," he murmured, gently tracing the butterflies engraved at the base of each blade.
"I must concur," Harry agreed with a soft smile as he studied the Tai Chi sword his daughter had gotten him, fingers gently tracing over the lion head that served as the hand guard and the engraved lion patterns on the scabbard. "This is amazing, Cynthia." Cynthia beamed.
"I see how it is," Tom grumbled, even as he smiled over the fifteen inch tall Chinese vase that Cynthia had gotten him, running his eyes and fingers over the detailed motifs that surrounded it. "You get them weapons, but I just get a gorgeous vase."
Cynthia snorted in amusement even as Harry burst out laughing and Yeo blinked over at the Dark Lord in surprise. "Mr Tom, you're an arse."
Tom winked at the young woman. "This is beautiful, child. Thank you," he allowed in a soft voice as he gently set the vase to one side and out of harm's way.
Harry stood next as Cynthia re-took her seat. "Well, I suppose I'll let my own curiosity rest for a moment and follow Cynthia's idea off handing out the gifts from me," he said helplessly as he gathered up two packages. He handed the smaller one to Cynthia with a wink. "Go on."
"Why do you insist on standing over us every year, Dad?" Cynthia complained with a smile as she opened her gift. Within the box that had been hidden by wrapping paper was an earring in the shape of a coiled serpent. "This is lovely. What's it for?" Cynthia inquired, knowing that her father never got something without a reason. Every gift she'd ever received from him had two uses - one obvious, the other not. The earring was obviously jewelry - that was the first use...
"It'll allow you to understand Parseltongue," Harry offered, his green eyes bright with laughter.
"Oh, Merlin, I love you," Cynthia breathed as she jumped up to hug him, tears in her eyes. She'd wanted, more than anything, to know what her fathers were saying when they hissed to one another. As she pulled away from Harry, she gave Tom a bright, grateful smile, knowing that anything she got from one of her adopted fathers was actually from both of them.
Tom nodded in acknowledgement of the thanks, then took the other gift that Harry had been holding. He took a clue from his husband's careful way of holding the fair-sized box and opened it as carefully as he could. What was inside made him gasp and all he could do was stare. A basilisk egg. An unborn basilisk egg.
Harry was smiling brightly. "Just, don't set it free in the school, right?"
Tom gently set the delicate gift to one side, resting it atop the vase from Cynthia - where it fit perfectly - before tugging Harry into his lap and kissing his thoroughly. I love you, he murmured across their link as they pulled apart, both smiling.
And I you, was Harry's response as he stood. Now give your daughter her gift.
Tom chuckled and stood. He pulled out a small book-shaped item from under the tree and handed it over to Cynthia, who groaned.
"Come on, Mr Tom. Don't I get enough books from Auntie Hermy?" she complained even as she pulled the wrapping paper off as quickly as she could. She let out a squeal when she uncovered a travel book about the Solomon Islands near Australia - her next destination - and jumped up to hug her father excitedly.
Tom laughed and hugged her back. "I take it that your like it then?" he asked teasingly as she pulled away.
Cynthia swatted the man's arm with her new book. "Prat," she declared, then grinned at Harry. "Thanks."
"You're quite welcome," Harry replied, motioning Tom back to his seat. "Why don't you pick out the next round?"
"What about Dad's gift?" Cynthia inquired, looking between her two fathers with a frown.
Both men smiled and responded as one, "He/I already got it."
Cynthia rolled her eyes hopelessly and pulled out three similar-looking gifts. "From Grandmum Molly!" she shouted, handing her fathers theirs before plopping back down into her own seat and ripping the gift open to find her yearly sky blue "Weasley sweater" with a bronze "C" stitched across the front and a large box of home baked treats. She pulled the sweater on over her pajama shirt and proceeded to demolish the contents of her treat box.
Harry and Tom traded amused looks as they, too, pulled out their "Weasley sweaters" - Tom's was black with a silver "T" while Harry's was green with a gold "H" - and slipped them on under their house cloaks before placing their treat boxes to the side. Even with all the money that Molly had found herself receiving - Arthur had been given a startling pay raise after the war ended, and Harry had given the family two hundred Galleons for one Christmas with a bright smile - Molly still liked to give out homemade gifts, rather than store-bought, and none of her children had found any reason to complain.
"Cynthia, don't eat that all," Tom ordered as Harry got up to grab the next round of gifts. Cynthia pulled a face at him, but placed the treat box to one side after offering it to a smiling Yeo, who took a brownie.
Harry handed the gifts around. "From Gin and Ted," he told them, re-taking his seat.
Cynthia quickly ripped through her gift's wrapping and was reading the small slip of paper that came in the box with a single earring when Tom and Harry both broke out into frighteningly similar peals of laughter. Cynthia glanced up with a faint look of annoyance, which turned into laughter when she saw the matching pairs of leather pants that her fathers were holding. "Think Auntie Gin and Uncle Ted are trying to tell you something?" she teased.
"Knowing your sister, she's just causing trouble," Tom said, looking at Harry.
"Most likely," Harry agreed with a smile. Then he turned to Cynthia. "What did they get you, sweetheart?"
Cynthia grinned and held up the uncoiled serpent earring - it matched the one Harry had given her suspiciously well. "It'll let me change my appearance at will, as if I were a Metamorphmagus like you two!"
"That's wonderful, Cynthia," Harry said. Cynthia just gave him a knowing look and he laughed. "Alright, your aunt and I conspired together on that one."
"I knew it!" Cynthia declared, punching the air before setting to work pulling out the earring in her left ear and pulling in the new one. The coiled serpent was already in her right ear.
Tom snorted in amusement before holding out a gift to the girl. "Here. From Herm and Luna."
"It's too light to be a book," Cynthia said suspiciously as Tom handed Harry his and sat back down in his seat.
"Just open it," Tom growled with a mock annoyed look. Cynthia stuck her tongue out at him before opening it.
"Oh, wow..." Harry whispered, having opened his instead of listening to his husband and daughter trade insults. He'd gotten a black cloak with the Gryffindor crest glittering on the back.
Tom made a sound of agreement as he stared at the glittering Slytherin crest on his matching cloak. Both men looked up after a moment to look over at Cynthia. Her cloak had the Ravenclaw crest glittering on the back. "So it's by our House in school," Tom murmured softly.
Cynthia smiled and brushed her fingers over the Ravenclaw crest softly. She'd picked the House because her first friend at the school who was in her year - made on the train ride to the school - had been sorted into Ravenclaw. The Hat had said that she would have been better suited for either Gryffindor or Slytherin but, as she hadn't wanted to choose between her father and his lover like that, she begged for Ravenclaw. She'd never told Harry or Tom that - she was afraid they would laugh at her, though she knew they'd also be pleased. She really did love her fathers.
Cynthia rubbed at her eyes with an irritated look as she got up to grab the next round - silly to be crying over Houses and her fathers, really. She handed out the gifts and declared, "From Gal and Gerdy," before re-taking her seat.
Tom and Harry traded worried looks - Cynthia's brief moment of fighting tears hadn't gone unnoticed - but let it pass while her boyfriend was there. Quickly they dove into their new gifts, laughing at what they found within. "I think the twins might be trying to tell us something, Tom," Harry laughed, setting the pair of black swim trunks with gold lightning bolts to one side.
"Not very subtle, are they?" was Tom's sarcastic reply as he set his own pair of swim trunks - silver with green snakes - to one side and out of sight. "Cynthia?"
Cynthia forced a giggle and held up the flowered bikini. "How'd they get my size?" she asked her fathers.
Harry and Tom traded annoyed looks before replying simultaneously, "Hermione."
Cynthia let out a real snigger. "I should have known," she said, setting the gift to one side.
Harry got up and grabbed the next set of gifts. "Ooh, from Siri and Remy."
"Make Mr Tom open his first!" Cynthia ordered, giggling. Yeo looked confused next to her while Harry smirked and Tom groaned.
"I like Cynthia's idea," Harry decided, holding a bag out to Tom. "Open it, then."
"Bloody fuck," Tom complained, but reached into the bag all the same. A loud squawk made them all jump and sent the bag to the floor. A rubber chicken flopped out onto the floor, it's fake eyes staring up at the horrified Tom while Harry and Cynthia laughed helplessly and Yeo sniggered into one hand. "That mutt is so dead," Tom growled, banishing the prank with an annoyed look.
Harry handed Cynthia a small box with a grin - Sirius was always good for making a gloomy day turn good, even when he wasn't around - and Cynthia opened it excitedly. She pulled out a compass, then laughed. "It says north is south-east," she informed everyone else.
"Why is everything from that man useless?" Tom complained to no one in general as Harry sad down and opened his own gift.
"Not everything," Harry laughed, handing over a slip of paper to his husband. "This," he told the two youngest members of the living room, holding up a small golden ball on a silver stick, "is a prank detector. Shall we test it?"
"Yeah!" Cynthia shouted. Yeo was smiling and nodding next to her.
Harry gripped the stick part of the thing and tapped the ball with his wand. Immediately, it let out a low hoot and a beam of light hit the compass in Cynthia's hand. With a grin, the young woman moved the compass around, letting out a pleased sound as the light followed it.
"I concede," Tom called, setting the slip of paper aside. "Put that away and I'll get Petunia's gift."
Harry and Cynthia both traded winks, then put their new toys away and turned to where Tom was reading the scroll that had been attached to the box that Petunia had sent.
Tom glanced up at the expectant faces, then spoke, "It says, 'Harry, you'll remember how I mentioned wishing you could use a cell phone in Hogwarts? Well, I got Minerva to ask Filius for a little help and, together, we managed to create a charm that will allow that. This box contains three cell phones - one for each you, Tom, and Cynthia - and they're on a worldwide plan, so Cynthia can stay in contact while traveling. Harry, you have my number, please share it with your husband and daughter. I would love to keep in contact with all of you. Much love, Petunia'." Tom glanced over to Harry, who had tears running down his cheeks. "Did you want to open it, love?"
Harry nodded and gently accepted the box, then popped it open. Within were, indeed, three cell phones, as well as the instruction books for each. He handed a booklet and phone to both Tom and Cynthia, then stared down at his own phone tearfully.
"Dad?" Cynthia whispered, concerned. The last time she'd seen her father act like that was when that bitch had given Tom a love potion.
Harry smiled up at his daughter. "I'm fine," he promised.
There was a knock at the doorway of the living room and everyone looked up to find a frowning Draco. "You okay, Harry?"
"Yeah." Harry wiped at his eyes and stood with a faint smile. "What can we do for you, Dray?"
Draco's gaze turned serious and he bowed formally. "My Lords, we have something for you in the receiving room."
"We?" Tom asked as Harry set down his cell phone with a blank look.
"The Juniors, my Lord," Draco replied coolly.
Tom gave Harry a questioning look. "What have they been doing?" he asked. While the Death Eaters had been mostly disbanded, the much closer Juniors had dropped their original name - Death Eaters In-Training - and become a sort of secret, underground organization and fighting force that worked for Harry and Tom and included a wide range of social classes. All members had been Juniors during the war - or Death Eaters who had worked closely with them, like Severus and the Lestrange brothers - and none of them had dropped their allegiance when the Peace Treaty was signed. Basically, the Juniors had become what the Order of the Phoenix had once been, but they remained active during the Peace.
"They've been looking for Lestrange," Harry replied coldly as he stepped across the living room to where Draco stood respectfully.
"I want to come," Cynthia stated, standing sharply with fire in her eyes. She'd sworn that she would get Bellatrix back for the rift she'd caused between Harry and Tom - her two most favourite people in the whole world, though she'd never admit it to their faces.
Tom nodded and the two swept from the room after Harry and Draco. Yeo was left looking at his new Butterfly swords in peace.
Bellatrix knelt, bound tightly with what seemed like hundreds of magical ropes, in the centre of the receiving room. The circle of Juniors that stood around her broke silently to allow their two lords and Cynthia through. One look at Tom's eyes assured Bellatrix that there would be no chance of being saved this time by the former Lord Voldemort - Tom was furious. Only Harry, in fact, had managed to wipe all expression from his face.
Tom nodded to Mad-Eye, who stood coldly with the other Juniors, next to Gin. The Minister pulled out a roll of parchment and spoke, "Bellatrix Black Lestrange, you are hereby charged with attempted murder, murder, use of the Unforgivables, use of a love potion on a respected official, practise of illegal Dark Arts, escaping Azkaban prison, threatening and disrupting the Peace, refusing to come to trial, fleeing from Aurors, killing two of said Aurors, murdering Muggles, murdering children, and plotting against your superiors. If convicted, your punishment will be to have your names, title, and magic stripped and a life sentence in Azkaban. Those who find her not guilty, say nay."
The silence in the room was deafening and Bellatrix lowered her head in defeat.
"Those who find her guilty, say aye."
The room filled with all of their voices and the single, damning word bounced back and forth in the air above and around them. This single word would haunt Bellatrix for the rest of her crazed existence.
"My Lords," Mad-Eye murmured, "she is yours to do with as you wish. Do not kill her, she has to be alive to suffer in Azkaban."
"She?" Cynthia spat venomously. "Don't you mean it, sir? That thing is no woman."
"Hear, hear," Sirius called, shooting a disgusted look at his cousin.
"Pity we can't kill you, thing," Rabastan hissed before spitting at his ex-sister-in-law.
The room filled with jeers as the Juniors turned their fury on the woman who had hurt Harry - their friend, family, and leader. Even the normally reserved Severus, Lucius, and Mad-Eye let out their own jibs. Only Harry and Tom remained silent, standing together near the door. Tom had his arms wrapped around Harry's waist from behind, blazing rubies burning holes into the woman on the floor, while Harry stood calmly, his green eyes impassive. He remembered all too well the pain of losing Tom. He remembered all too well the depression he'd slipped into, death haunting his thoughts, until the other had returned, panicked and half insane, begging Harry to forgive him. It had hurt. It still hurt.
The room fell silent as Harry stepped forward. The Juniors pulled back respectfully and not even Tom intervened as Harry knelt before the helpless witch and pulled out the gag that had kept her silent. "Well?" Harry asked, his quiet voice loud in the strangely echoing room.
Bellatrix looked up at Harry with all the contempt she could muster. "I hope you rot in hell for taking him from me, for hurting me like that," she hissed before spitting in Harry's face.
The room filled with a roar of anger, but Harry rose his hand into the air and it silenced. Calmly, he wiped the spit from his face, then offered Bellatrix a humourless smile. "Taking whom, Bella? Your Dark Lord? Voldemort is dead, you know. I never took anything from you."
"Yes you did! You took him and made him love you and twisted him into something else!" Bellatrix screamed, her eyes filling with desperate tears.
Harry's smile turned kind, in a patronizing way. "How can someone take from you what wasn't yours to begin with?" he inquired before standing and meeting Tom's eyes. "Tom, tell me, did you ever belong to this woman?"
Tom smirked. "I've never belonged to a woman, Harry. I have only ever belonged to myself and to you."
Harry glanced back down at Bellatrix, who had let her tears fall. He knelt before her once again, his smile replaced suddenly by a cold fury that made Bellatrix - as well as everyone else in the room who could see his face - gasp. "You were hurt?" Harry asked, his voice steely. "How hurt? Hurt enough that your every waking moment was spent in tears, crying so hard you couldn't breath? Hurt enough that all you wanted to do was lay down and die? Hurt enough that Crucio would have been a blessing?" Harry backhanded her across the face. "YOU DON'T KNOW HURT!" he screamed in her face.
Bellatrix was sobbing, gasping for breath and leaning away from Harry. She'd once mocked him for being a boy, a child. He wasn't a child anymore, she saw. He was a man and he had the power to destroy her with a mere look. Desperately, Bellatrix begged whatever god may or may not have been watching to save her from this man's fury.
Harry stood abruptly, his emotionless mask back in place. "Juniors, she is yours. Keep in mind Alastor's warning - she needs to be alive to relive this ordeal," he said before turning and walking back to where Tom stood, looking worried.
No one moved until after Tom had led Harry from the room. None of them had know how deeply Harry had truly been hurt by Bellatrix's actions. If nothing else, Harry certainly knew how to hide his pain from others.
Furiously, they crowded around the sobbing woman. Cynthia stepped directly in front of her. "You're a monster. You hurt Dad," her foot flew across Bellatrix's face once, "and you hurt Mr Tom," her foot flew back across, "and you hurt my aunties," her foot flew across again, "and my uncles," again, "and my cousins," again, "and my friends," again, "and me," again.
"But most of all," Gin spat from next to her niece, "you hurt Harry. Kind, caring, wouldn't hurt a fly if he could help it, great big heart Harry. You hurt the one person who was hurt his whole life and never deserved an ounce of it!" Gin, as well as many others, had tears running down their faces. "You hurt the person who would have given his heart, his life, his fucking happiness away to see others smile, even if he knew that smile would last only a moment."
Bellatrix stared up at this woman, feeling broken beyond life. Broken beyond death, even.
Then Herm stepped up. "You tried to tear apart soul mates, Bellatrix. Be glad you failed."
Tom watched silently from the doorway while Harry dueled against imaginary opponents. He'd followed his husband back to the living room, where Harry had picked up his new sword, then walked mechanically to the practise rooms. There, he proceeded to do as he still did - spar with imaginary opponents.
Tom turned when he heard footsteps behind him. Cynthia offered him a lopsided smile, but it faded quickly when Tom couldn't return one of his own. With a sigh, Cynthia took up a position against the other side of the doorframe. "The others are gone, it got boring after it fainted," she reported softly. "I sent Yeo back home - told him we were all kind of tired."
Tom nodded. "Invite him over for New Years-"
"Will he be okay?" Cynthia cut Tom off, looking across the room to where Harry still fought, his face as blank as stone.
Tom sighed and looked back towards his husband. "I don't know," he admitted. "It was good for him to face off with Bellatrix, I think, but..." Tom trailed off, looking all of his eighty-one years.
Cynthia slipped into the room and walked carefully up to her adopted father, not heeding Tom's hissed call for her to come back, but leaving ten or so feet between Harry and herself to be on the safe side. "Dad?"
Harry turned to Cynthia blankly, his sword still raised. It was as if he was looking through her. Suddenly, he lunged.
"Daddy! Stop it!" Cynthia cried, folding to the ground, in hopes that he'd go over her.
Harry froze about three feet away and his sword clattered to the floor.
All was silent in the room for a long, unknowable amount of time. Then Cynthia spoke again, her voice only the faintest of whispers, "Daddy?"
Harry folded in on himself and started sobbing. They were great, big, heavy sobs - the sort that shook his body dangerously and made one fear that he was about to fall to pieces before them.
Cynthia raced forward and hugged her father, tears falling freely down her face at his pain. "Daddy, it's okay. It's all going to be okay," she whispered.
Suddenly, there was another set of arms around both Cynthia and Harry - Tom. The elder wizard's murmured, "She's right, love. It's all going to be just fine. Right, Cynthia?"
"Right, Mr Tom," Cynthia replied, somehow managing to conjure a smile in response to the one that graced Tom's lips at the name she'd given him all those many years ago, when she first learned that the feared Dark Lord was just as human as everyone else.
A soft chuckle slipped out through Harry's sobs. "Harry?" Tom whispered, worried.
The sobs diminished. "I'm tired," Harry murmured.
Without another word, Tom and Cynthia stood together and helped the exhausted Harry to his room. Tom managed to get Harry to take his house robe off, but his husband simply would not take off his new sweater. Not wanting to argue over it, and quite understanding, Tom had left it be and helped him into bed.
"Daddy, did you want me to get you anything?" Cynthia asked from the doorway as Tom sat next to Harry on the bed, gently brushing the other's hair from his sweaty and tear-stained face.
A sad smile touched Harry's lips. "Stay here?" he requested. "Both of you?"
Cynthia slipped under the covers with her father and curled up against him. Harry held her tightly and dozed off while Tom ran his fingers through his husband's hair gently. Shortly after Harry fell asleep, Cynthia followed. Tired himself, Tom pulled off his house robe and - in a display he'd later blame jokingly on Harry - threw it across the room, smirking as it landed in the middle of the clean floor, before slipping under the covers as well.
Harry spoke little over the next week. Mostly, he sat in whatever room he fancied sitting in and watched as his husband and daughter tried to pretend they weren't keeping an eye on him. When his friends or other family came to visit he remained completely silent and they left shortly after. Harry knew everyone was worried, but he didn't want to talk to them. For once, he'd like to work through his thoughts and problems without any help.
Help came, wanted or not, on the morning of New Years Eve, in the form of one Petunia Evans.
Harry was sitting in the kitchen, watching as the house-elves worked cheerfully and stifling his laughter every time he caught one of them pretending they weren't keeping an eye on him when a chair pulled out beside Harry and someone sat in it quietly. It wasn't until the person leaned forward across the table that Harry realized who it was. "Aunt Petunia!" he called, then hugged his aunt tightly.
Petunia sighed and hugged her nephew back. When they pulled apart, both took a moment to study the other. Harry found worry lines and more grey hairs than he would have liked. Petunia found a drawn face and eyes overflowing with sadness that was just being beaten back again and again until it became too much.
"Harry, what's wrong?" Petunia sighed. She knew that, while Harry didn't look too good, Tom was looking much worse. The Dark Lord's hair was threaded with grey while lines folded his face and bags dragged down the skin beneath his eyes so that he looked half-dead. When Petunia had demanded to know whether he'd been sleeping, Tom had admitted that while he'd been laying down each night, it wasn't a restful sleep and he'd often awaken in the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep again.
Harry sighed. "I can't..." He shook his head. "I need to work through this on my own."
Petunia frowned. "Harry, I don't care if you insist on working through this for the rest of your life, but you need to think about how it's affecting the others around you. Cynthia tells me you're not talking to people anymore."
Harry shrugged. "I talk."
Petunia gave him a stern look.
Harry's shoulders drooped and he hung his head. "I don't want to be a bother to people," he muttered into his sweater - he'd hardly taken it off since he'd gotten it. Likewise, his new phone spent most of its time in his pocket or in his hands. More than once, he'd considered calling his aunt.
Petunia rose her eyes up and muttered silently to the ceiling, then stood. "Come on."
"Where are we going?" Harry inquired as he, too, stood from his chair.
Petunia took Harry's hand and led him from the kitchen without another word. Feeling slightly bemused - one of the few emotions he remembered feeling since they'd found Bellatrix - he let her lead him through the silent halls towards Tom's study. Just outside the door, Petunia paused. "You're more of a bother when you're trying not to be one," she assured him with a sharp edge to her voice. "Take a look at your husband for me, Harry."
Harry felt himself beginning to frown, but he did as told and peeked his head into his husband's office quietly. One look at the worn Tom made him gasp. Had he done this?
Tom's head shot around, then he smiled, but it was a tired smile. "Hey there."
"Tom..." Harry whispered, not knowing what to say. Should he apologize?
"Do I really look that bad?" Tom asked teasingly. He pulled out a mirror and smiled into it. "Same old me."
Harry burst into tears and ran over to hug his husband tightly. "I'm sorry..." he whispered, clutching at the other's shirt as Tom pulled him into his lap.
Tom glanced over the mop of un-brushed black hair and gave the woman in the doorway a tired smile, which she returned. As Petunia pulled the door closed, Tom returned his attention to his fragile husband. "Harry, love, I know you want to work through everything on your own, but I'd prefer it if you'd let me help some." He gently ran a hand through his lover's hair. "You don't have to do everything for yourself anymore, remember? You've got me and Cynthia and your sisters. You've got Molly and Petunia and Arthur. Hell, you've got the whole school as well as your Juniors and half the Ministry."
"I know," Harry whispered, sniffling.
"Everyone is worried about you, love."
Harry looked up into tired scarlet eyes, concerned. "Does half the world look as bad as you do?" he asked.
Tom smiled - not his tired one this time, but a full-fledged one - and shook his head. "Some of them, I'm sure." The smile turned bitter. "And I'm not as young as I used to be, you know..."
"You're not dying on me," Harry replied, eyes sharp despite how heavy they felt from his recent bout of crying his heart out.
Tom frowned. "Harry, I will, eventually. You know that."
"I can't live without you!" Harry cried, and then the tears started again, even though he'd though they were all gone.
Tom sighed and tugged Harry against his chest again, feeling like crying himself. How did Harry think he felt, watching as his husband stared off into nothing for hours on end and refused to speak to anyone. It didn't help that this was all Tom's fault-
"It's not," Harry whispered.
"Not what?" Tom inquired.
Blazing emerald met curious rubies and Tom was momentarily thrown by the fury in those eyes. "It's not your fault. It's Bellatrix's fault. Don't you go blaming yourself for something that your couldn't control."
Tom shook his head. "I should have been able to control myself enough-"
"Weren't you just telling me that you're not as young as you used to be?" Harry shot back, feeling defensive. This wasn't Tom's fault!
"I should have been checking my food-"
"Why!" Harry exploded, pulling away so he could stand before a startled Tom. "This is your home and your elves make the food! They're strong-willed, none of us expected that she'd use the Imperius curse on one of them! She could have put poison in my food - should I be blamed for that?"
"Of course not," Tom growled.
"Then why are you blaming yourself for the same thing?" Harry's voice had turned pleading.
"It's not the same thing..."
"Then what is it? You're a Seer now? You can see the future? Are you telling me that we should stop trusting our elves just because one of them got put under Imperio?"
"Then what?" Harry rested his hands on the armrests of Tom's chair and leaned in so they were nose-to-nose. "What is it that you're blaming yourself for? Your inability to predict the future? Or the impossibility of fighting a potion that you'd never run up against before?"
Tom turned away. Damn Harry and his ability to hit the nail on the head.
Harry sighed and rested his head against Tom's shoulder. "It's not your fault. It's Bellatrix's. She cast Imperio on Puddles. She made Puddles spike your evening tea. She got me out of the house so she would be the one you'd see after you drank it. She started it. You fucking ended it." He let out another sigh, feeling like crying again. "She would have taken you far away and kept you for all time, but you loved me too much to let her. So you came back. I don't blame you, Tom. I never have, and I never will."
Tom felt his shoulders sag and it took him a moment to place the foreign emotion that had zoomed in - relief. Harry didn't blame him. Had that been what Tom was so afraid of, that Harry blamed him?
"Me too." Tom stood slowly, feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders, but it hadn't helped free him from the weight of his own body. "Let's take a nap."
"Okay." The two men stood and, leaning against one another, managed to make it down the hall, up the great stairs, and down the upstairs hall to their room. There, they curled up together on the bed and slept for hours and hours...
...and hours and hours...
Harry woke first and stared down at his husband with a faint smile. As he was in the middle of the act of brushing a lock of hair from the peaceful, if worn, face, it struck him. Moving silently, he slipped from the bed and wrote out a quick note letting Tom know where he'd gone. He spelled it to float beside the bed - so Tom couldn't knock it off and he'd see it as soon as he woke - then pressed a soft kiss to his husband's temple before slipping from the room.
Hearing snoring, Harry dropped by Cynthia's room. He smiled when he saw the young woman sleeping, once again, with her covers half off the bed. Quietly, he snuck in and tucked the covers back in around her. He planted a soft kiss to her brow, then turned and left the room.
He slipped down the hallways without sound. He entered the receiving room and threw Floo in the fireplace. "Our study," he whispered, choking on the words after he started spinning through the fireplaces. He popped out onto the rug in his and Tom's rooms at Hogwarts. Dusting himself off, Harry slipped into the bedroom and over to the table on his side of the bed. He and Tom had come to a sort of agreement long before their marriage; anything in their bedside tables was not to be touched by the other without permission. Harry knew that Tom kept his sketchpad in his table - he'd often seen Tom putting it away as he came into the room - and he assumed that Tom also kept a diary in there. Harry himself kept only his journal from Herm, he camera, and his four photo albums - one from Hagrid, one from Petunia, one that Harry had made with all the pictures he'd taken of Tom and the girls with his camera, the last from Ula. The albums and camera were at the Manor, though, so only the journal remained.
Harry grabbed a quill and settled down on the bed with it and a blank page.
'Thursday the 1st of January 2009
'The first day of the new year has begun. It's been a hectic week and I thought it was time I got some things off my chest. I should have done this years ago, but I didn't, so it continues to haunt me. It wasn't until Aunt Petunia showed me, yesterday, that Tom was suffering - same as I - that I remembered that there were others out there who needed my help far more then they needed me to be turned in upon myself. My last missive within your ancient pages helped me think clearly, I hope this does the same.
'I can honestly say that I know what Albus meant when he said that sometimes yours brain feels so full that you think it's going to burst. Albus was right about some things, the fool.
'The Peace Treaty was mostly ready to be signed and made law by my birthday in '99. Tom and Alastor managed to agree that it should wait until August so they could throw me a party. The party was absolutely wonderful - one of the best I can remember, actually. The whole day was made better with the knowledge that the Peace Treaty was to be signed soon.
'The day after my birthday, I got a panicked owl from Herm. I don't remember what it said anymore - it hardly matters - and ran to find her. She, it turned out, was fine. We suspected foul play and rushed back to the Manor.
'I was relived to find that Tom was in his office, unhurt. Maybe there wasn't enough time for anyone to attack? I wasn't sure, but I didn't see the point in worrying Tom, so Herm and I wandered out to the living room to talk of unimportant things.
'It was when Puddles came in in tears that Herm and I realized that something was wrong. When I asked Puddles what it was, he burst into tears and started beating at his head. I was trying to stop him when Tom came in and demanded what was going on. I was about to tell him when he followed up with a question about why I was in his house.
'I looked up, shocked, and found that Bellatrix had her arm curled around his waist and a smug look on her face. "Tom," I said.
' "That's not my name," he shot back nastily. "And I'll ask you again, whelp, what are you doing in my home?"
' "I-I live here," I whispered.
'Tom stepped forward and struck me across the face. "No, you don't. Get out of my house."
'Puddles, distraught as he was, still had enough forethought to grab both myself and Herm and pop us back to Herm's house before either of us could do anything we might regret later. Once we landed, I burst into tears.
'Herm turned to Puddles with a stern look. "Puddles, you have to tell us what happened," she demanded.
'So Puddles shakily told us how Bellatrix had placed him under the Imperius Curse and made him put a strange potion in Tom's tea. Once Tom saw Bellatrix, he seemed to change - acting suddenly like the Voldemort of old.
'I stood then, and told them both that I was going back to Aunt Petunia's house, where I could think in peace. Herm offered to come with me, but I told her to remain with Gal and Gerda. Puddles looked like he wanted to offer to come, but Herm told him on no uncertain terms that he was to remain at Slytherin Manor and warn the other house-elves what was happening. She also wanted him to keep as many people out of the Manor as he could - she didn't know how Tom might react to different things.
'I went home and told Aunt Petunia that I was going to be staying with her for a few days, if that was okay. When she asked why, I just told her that Tom's temper was tight and we'd decided that it was best to give him some space.
'I spent a few days joking with Aunt Petunia and basically doing all I could to be happy - something felt like it was missing. It wasn't until Mad-Eye came to find me with a nasty letter from Tom that I tried to contact him mentally.
'A mistake. Tom's side of our connection was broken, shattered. There was nothing in there but a single-minded need to please and love Bellatrix. Nothing for me - his mind didn't even recognize my presence.
'That realization was what did it in for me. It hurt. It felt like everything had just come crashing down on top of me and I couldn't breath. I understood what had happened - a love potion - but I couldn't figure out why it was affecting me so. Wasn't Tom just another boyfriend, another "perfect" little match. It happens all the time, after all. But this was crushing.
'I found out later that I actually fainted from a lack of air - I truly could not breathe. Aunt Petunia wanted to rush me to the hospital, but Mad-Eye wouldn't let her. He called, instead, on Sal and Poppy. My two friends had to put me on a magical breathing system - it was almost as if my own body had shut down on me. They set me on my bed in Dudley's old room and someone was always keeping an eye one me. I heard also that Gin went to the Manor and tried to hex the living daylights out of Bellatrix, but Tom had placed her in the Hospital Wing for a week because of it.
'It took me two weeks to wake from my coma. It took Aunt Petunia another four days of coaxing for me to finally explain what had happened. I was still short of breath and I felt like simply dying. I didn't move from my bed and, after Poppy removed the IV that was pumping food into me, she had to put it back in again because I wouldn't eat. A part of me knew I needed to eat - that I needed to get back in control of myself - but I couldn't. It truly felt like the world had come crushing down on top of me and it wouldn't let me back up, or like I'd lost a part of myself, really.
'After I told Aunt Petunia that Tom had been given a love potion and had fallen for Bellatrix, my aunt told Mad-Eye and he put a price on Bellatrix's head. In a surge of anger, our world called out for her blood and there was, apparently, a four day blood hunt for her.
'Bellatrix was not to be underestimated, though. She talked Tom into fleeing with her. Somewhere on the north coast of Scotland, Tom saw a picture of me in a lone newspaper and something snapped. He Apparated straight to Aunt Petunia's home and fled up the stairs to my room. Aunt Petunia stopped him with and angry look and shouted, "Now what do you plan to do to him!"
'Tom broke down into tears, much to all our surprise, so Aunt Petunia let him past. He collapsed on the floor next to my bed and rested his head against my stomach. "I'm so sorry, Harry," he whispered.
'And, somehow, I could move my hand again and I rested it in Tom's hair and told him, "I know." And I felt at peace. I could breathe again, the weight was gone. I wanted to live again.
'According to Aunt Petunia - neither Tom nor I was in any mind to remember much - Tom climbed up onto the bed with me and, with a muttered curse, the IV and breathing systems were gone. He drew me into his arms and we both fell asleep.
'It took me four days to get back on my feet and recover from the whole ordeal. Tom didn't leave my side at all. When my friends came calling, he listened to their ranting silently. I always told them to stop when I felt that Tom was close to tears. I couldn't see him hurting like that.
'My Juniors finally caught Bellatrix on Christmas - I almost wonder if they hadn't caught her a few days before and were waiting for Christmas, though.
'I... I don't know. I've wanted to hurt her for so long. I've wanted to rip her eyes out or vanish her lungs. Something. Anything. I just wanted her to hurt like I had. But when I saw her, I froze. I couldn't hurt her like I'd planned, I couldn't. I'm so sick of all the pain and revenge and hurting...
'I mocked her instead. I said things that I almost regret. But, she said she'd been hurt. It bothered me, but I was going to let it slide. Then she started crying and I lost it.
'The next thing I remember after baring my heart to her - that disgusting woman who thought she knew emotional pain - was Cynthia calling "Daddy?" And then I cried.
'I know people are worried about me. I know they're afraid I've slipped back into that old depression. I haven't, though. I've been thinking. And wondering. Why did it hurt so much when I lost him? Why did I just want to die? Why was it so much worse than losing Sirius? Because he means the world to me? Because he is my world?
'I remember a story I read one day a couple years ago when I had no papers to grade. I'd found the book on my desk and just sat down and read it. It was this beautiful tale about a man and a woman who loved one another so deeply, so truly, that nothing could pull them apart. When the man died, the woman followed him into death and begged the god who'd taken him to give him back. They were so strong, living off one another. I wonder if Tom and I could ever be like that.'
Harry's head shot up and he found Tom standing next to the bed, reading over his shoulder with a sad smile. "Tom..."
Tom settled on the bed next to Harry and ran a thumb over one of the lines of wet on Harry's face. "I remember reading a book once that explained this thing called soul mates. It said that, if one of the pair leaves - be it because of death or something else - the one who remains finds him- or herself wanting to die, to give up. If the one who leaves can too, he or she feels the same thing."
Harry looked back down at his journal. "It hurt, Tom." The tears, which had started to dry, came again. "It hurt."
Tom leaned forward and pulled Harry against him, cradling the smaller body against his chest as Harry sobbed. As Harry quieted, Tom pulled away and, meeting Harry's eyes, spoke, "But I'm here now, and I will never leave you again. Never."
Harry rested his head back against Tom's chest and closed his eyes. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you too, you little imp," Tom replied, a touch of humour in his voice.
Harry pulled back and slugged his husband's arm with a laugh. "You bastard!"
Tom smiled. "Let's get home and let your brat know that you're alive, hm?"
"My brat?" Harry shot back. "She's as much yours as mine."
Tom chuckled and stood. "I know." He pulled Harry up after him and drew his husband into a slow kiss. "I wouldn't have it any other way," he added when they parted.
Harry smiled. "You know, Tom. You're really just a big softy," he commented as they walked together out to the fireplace.
Tom let out an amused snort. "And whose fault is that?"
Harry smirked. "Mine, of course," he offered evilly before tossing in a pinch of Floo and dashing through the magical fire to "Slytherin's receiving room!"
"Imp," Tom chuckled to himself, feeling much better, before Flooing back home himself.
Harry saw him and ran laughing from the room with Cynthia. "Catch us if you can!" they shouted over their shoulders.
Tom glanced down at where Smoky was rubbing against his legs. "I'm glad he's back to himself too, Smokes," he assured the cat as he knelt down to pet her. He laughed when Smoky proceeded to lick his hands clean. "Dirty, am I?"
°°I think she's just thanking you,°° Fawkes offered from his perch by the window - it was his job to watch over the receiving room.
Tom shot the bird an amused look. "I know." He kissed Smoky's head, then stood. "Suppose I should probably go after them, hm?"
°°Unless you want the place in shambles,°° Fawkes agreed cheerfully.
"Bloody bird," Tom muttered fondly as he stepped from the room.
Smoky curled up in one of the chairs and meowed a few times at Fawkes before tucking her nose under her tail and falling into a peaceful catnap.
Fawkes gave an annoyed sound, then started to preen his feathers. Dumb cat. What does she mean, make sure no one jumps her? It's not my job to protect her worthless self.
Down the hall, in the living room, the three humans of the Manor laughed happily as Tom tackled Harry and Cynthia to the ground, tickling them mercilessly.
In the kitchen of the Manor, ten house-elves worked together to prepare a pleasant meal for their humans.
Miles away, a group of teachers and students were slipping into a huge hall with a ceiling that showed the outside to eat breakfast together and discuss the classes that would begin again in a little under a week.
Even further away, in London, a man sat with a smile on his face as he read a message that had been delivered in a lick of flame. A woman poked her orange-haired head into the office with a worried look. The man held up the message and said, "He's just fine."
In a titling house just outside a small village, a large family rejoiced over the news that their last member wasn't hiding within himself anymore and made plans to visit.
On a distant island, a woman cowered under the gaze of a hungry shadow, one word echoing throughout her mind, "Aye."
And in all sorts of cities in many continents, children everywhere were cracking open one of seven books again and again about a boy named Harry Potter and his adventures in a world that lived just down the street and through the back door of that quiet little coffee shop that they passed by everyday without a thought. The best kept secrets, after all, are just in front of your eyes.
A/N: So that last bit was kinda a last minute thought, but I thought it worked well.
This is the longest chapter in the whole series - possibly that I've written for the HP fandom - clocking in at just over sixteen thousand words and narrowly missing 28 pages in Word with 1/10 of an inch margins.
Here-in lies the end of Reclaim. This fic was - is - my baby. I love it like a mum and I'm damn proud of it. Thank you all so much for your support. Your reviews kept me going and made bad days brighten almost immediately. I love you all, and I'm glad to know I'm loved in return. -winks-
And don't go thinking this is truly over yet. I'll be doing Outtakes until the end of time - I have almost a full sheet of notebook paper covered in the ideas you all keep giving me!. -laughs-
Now, perhaps I should get cracking on all those other projects/fics of mine? LOL!
Updates and excuses can be found at batsutousai . livejournal . com!