Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything belonging to the Harry Potter universe. Everything but the plot to this fic belongs to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: Hello again! I'm back and it's about time, too. I've been really busy with packing and stuff as I'm moving in a month and I'm SO excited! Anyway, I'm so grateful for all your great reviews, I loved every one of them. That's why ou get a nice, long chapter, full of revelations and... yeah. I don't want to give anything away. Just...
...Read on and enjoy!
Feeling drained, suddenly, Voldemort met his burning gaze sadly. He forced himself to say it, facing the hatred directed at him, knowing that Harry wouldn't ever want him.
'I am your mate, Harry.'
Harry felt like stumbling back, but his feet didn't move an inch. Frozen, he stood, incapable of wrapping his mind around the fact that his mate, the person that smelled so good... whose presence felt so right... whose kisses had tasted so divine... was none other than Voldemort.
He could feel his eyes roaming over the Dark Lord's face, taking in all of it. He himself couldn't seem to utter a word, couldn't move, couldn't -
'Harry.', Voldemort said softly, taking a hesitant step towards him.
Why was he calling him Harry? Why wasn't he trying to kill him? Oh Merlin, why was he coming nearer? Why did he smell so good...?
Harry inhaled involuntarily, closing his eyes for a moment. No! He had to stay focused. He couldn't let Voldemort touch him!
Harry had no idea what would happen if his mate were to lay a finger on him, didn't even want to think about it- he merely knew that he may not be able to control himself.
'Stop. Don't come any nearer.', he whispered, knowing he sounded strained. He didn't care.
Voldemort did as he said, stopping in his advance.
'I'm not going to hurt you, Harry.', he promised and if Harry had lifted his eyes, he would have seen the pleading look in his mate's eyes. But as it was, Harry had his eyes downcast, refusing to meet the Dark Lord's.
He didn't know why he wouldn't look at his... mate. It was foolish, even. Voldemort was his worst enemy. Harry should be watching his every move- he was in danger after all.
But his emotions betrayed him. He didn't feel threatened. He should feel afraid, afraid for his life, but he wasn't. He felt comfortable- safe, even.
And what if he were to look into those dark eyes? What would happen?
Harry looked up involuntarily. But it wasn't dark eyes he met, but red eyes that burned into his emerald ones. He ignored the emotions swirling in their depths, in favour of abruptly looking away again. He shuddered. Red eyes. Red eyes, belonging to the Dark Lord. His enemy, his enemy...
Those eyes brought him back to his senses. Voldemort was standing right in front of him!
A hand touched his shoulder, concern showing in the gesture.
Harry looked up abruptly, seeing dark eyes fixed on him. He wondered, why and how their colour had changed, but it was still Voldemort standing in front of him, touching his shoulder-
He removed himself from his mate's touch- and if he were to be honest, it did feel good-, moving towards the door with great speed.
At the door he turned once more, to see Voldemort still standing at the same spot as before, the hand he had lifted to comfort Harry, slowly sinking to rest at his side again.
Harry didn't look him in the face. 'Don't return. I... don't need a mate.'
He turned, leaving the room, leaving his mate within.
Voldemort was torn. Should he run after Harry, scaring him away, maybe even risk discovery- just to see him again, smell his scent, hear his voice?
Or should he leave, leave and never return- doing just what his mate wanted?
The hurt he felt constricting his chest encouraged him to do so. Leave his mate before he was hurt again. Back down from this challenge...
But he, Lord Voldemort, wasn't one to back down, was he? And he wouldn't leave his mate, would he? It had felt too right, too satisfying to never occur again. Never again...
No, it would definetely happen again, he swore to himself. He would hold Harry again, he would kiss him and Harry would want it, too. Of course he would.
Voldemort would find a way.
Slowly, he exited the Room of Requirement, glancing back at the cosy room, the four-poster bed, everything Harry had made appear with his thoughts, wishes and desires... if only.
As soon as he reached the border of Hogwarts' wards, he apparated away.
Harry ran through the halls, blindly, at top speed. Passing students would see a rush of colour racing past them, would blink, looking after it, blink again and would then decide their eyes had deceived them.
Harry ran with no real destination in mind. He couldn't go to the Room of Requirement because- no, he wouldn't think about that.
He stopped as an unwelcome scent washed over him. As he sniffed the air, a rancid aroma melted onto his tongue. His eyes snapped up, fixing on the figure of his best friend rounding a corner. It was too late to bolt.
'Harry!', the redhead called.
Harry smiled strainedly, his mind occupied with trying to recall the scent of his mate... that darkness mixed with safety, drowning in power...
'I've been looking for you all day! Where have you been?' He sounded accusing, Harry noted dispassionately.
He didn't answer. Ron continued talking, but Harry didn't listen, lost in thoughts and feeling sensations long gone.
Lips caressing his... hands resting on his back, holding him tightly...
'Come on! We'll miss dinner!'
Harry was rudely snapped out of his musings. And he was grateful for it. He shuddered, remembering it had been Voldemort, Voldemort who had held him, who had ... oh Merlin... Voldemort who had kissed him... who had made him feel so good...
'What's wrong? Come on!!' Ron appeared to be extremely impatient. He must be famished, Harry thought and found it funny, in a way.
He let himself be tugged by Ron, down the many flights of stairs, towards the Great Hall.
As soon as he arrived, he noticed Hermione wasn't there. He said as much to Ron, who only shrugged and told him he had no idea where she had run off to. Both suspected she was in the library.
But she arrived soon, with a conspiciously missing book bag.
'Where's your book bag?' Ron asked.
Hermione beamed. 'I left it in the tower.'
Ron grunted and filled his plate with mashed potatoes.
Harry frowned, confused by her odd happiness. Hermione looked radiant. She was trying to hide her wide smile he could tell, but she was failing miserably. He also noticed that she looked better than ever.
She had her hair in bun, but some ringlets had freed themselves, framing her face delicately. Her cheeks were flushed lightly and if he hadn't already found his mate, he would have found her very beautiful.
His gaze fell on the smooth skin of her neck, seeing her quick, exhilarated heartbeat pulse. A silver necklace he had never seen on her rested around her neck. It was a locket, he noticed, letting his eyes travel downwards.
'I didn't know you had a locket, Hermione. Is it an heirloom? It looks so old.' Harry asked, curious.
Hermione blushed. Even her ears turned red.
Suddenly, Harry's nose was assaulted with the smell of her embarrassment but also with her pride, her happiness and what was that scent...? He sniffed inconspiciously. It smelled like...
'I... No. My mother gave it to me for this year...', she started, fighting down her blush. Harry wondered at her strange behaviour. 'With the war and all...'
She gestured towards her neck, a calculating look passing over her face before disappearing. 'Could you take it off for me, Harry?'
'Yeah, sure.' Harry nodded, waiting until Hermione had turned her back towards him and leaned her head forward so he had better access to the clasp of the locket.
Harry's gaze was once again drawn towards the side of her neck, but he shook himself, focusing on his task instead.
The silver clasp was easy to be undone. He took the chain of the locket into his hands, giving a startled yelp as pain ripped through his fingers, making his nerve-endings burn intensely.
Hermione turned her head, looking at him questioningly, but Harry saw something akin to triumph on her face. 'What's wrong?', she asked.
'N- nothing.', Harry stuttered, forcing himself to touch the silver clasp again, having difficulties not to show the pain on his face as he unclasped it.
He glanced at his fingertips. They were singed and hurt a lot. Slowly, he could see and feel the skin peel back. He winced and quickly hid his hands in the pockets of his robe. Shit! He should have remembered about silver... he should have known. What if Hermione found out?
Hermione had laid the locket on the table between them.
He stared at it, silently cursing the pain in his fingers.
The locket had a large 'S' on it, which looked like a snake, but wasn't.
'An 'S'?' Ron asked from beside her, sounding slightly jealous. He hadn't listened to her earlier explanation.
She tossed him an annoyed glare. ''S' for Sophie. Sophie Granger. My mum.'
Harry inhaled. A lie. It was in her scent. Nervousness, anxiety, something forbidden- a lie.
Before she could turn towards him again and request he clasp the locket around her neck again, he stood and excused himself. He needed to think and was in dire need of a potion to heal his fingers.
Harry sat on his bed, curtains drawn shut. He glanced at his hands, once again amazed at his own healing abilities.
After he had exited the Great Hall, he had gone upstairs to the boy's dorm, wondering if he should go to Madam Pomfrey.
Upon glancing at his hands, though, he had discovered that the skin that had peeled back had grown over his exposed flesh again. His fingers had only hurt faintly.
Now, he held a vial with a deeply red liquid in his hand, removed the stopper and drank the contents.
The blood rushed down his throat, leaving a trail of comforting fire where it passed. As soon as the blood reached his stomach, Harry felt energized and noticed the skin on his fingertips stretching and twisting to heal more completely.
A scar remained on the index finger of his right hand. Harry shuddered. He would need to pay more attention.
He swirled the remaining blood in the vial, watching as it flowed over the insides of the glass, leaving faint red traces of liquid dripping and flowing back down.
So red, so delicious. Harry absently wondered how his mate's blood would taste? He imagined it would taste even better. Warm, full of life... with his mate's scent permeating it. With power pulsing and rippling through it. Amazing. His mouth watered.
And maybe, his vampire self supplied, maybe his mate would drink of his blood, too. Would he like it? Did he crave Harry's blood as much Harry craved his? The thought excited him. What if Voldemort wanted him, too?
Suddenly, Harry grew aware of footsteps on the stairs leading to the boy's dorm.
Harry shook himself. He didn't want Voldemort. And he certainly didn't want his blood. He swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth. No, he really didn't want his blood.
Soon after he had heard the footsteps, the door opened.
Harry opened the curtains around his bed, smiling at Ron sheepishly.
'Why did you leave so suddenly?', the redhead asked, frowning.
'I didn't feel well...'- which was part of the truth. His fingers had hurt like hell.
'Are you better?'
'Yes, yes. Much.' Harry smiled.
Ron nodded, seeming to forget about it immediately. 'Did you see Hermione? She's gone again! She promised she would look over my transfiguration essay tonight! I'm dead if I don't get an A this time...'
Hermione was missing again? Where did she go? She shouldn't be so obvious about it...
Harry wondered why he was still trying to protect her from being discovered- he didn't even know what she was up to. Still, he felt, deep down, that he needed to protect her secret from Ron.
So he decided.
'She said something about talking to Parvati about some girl stuff. I think she's in the girl's dormitory.'
He knew that Ron couldn't check. Boys couldn't enter the girl's dormitories.
'Damn! I'll have to look over my essay myself, now. I hope she comes downstairs again.'
They walked down the stairs together. The common room was quite empty for the time. Harry wondered where everyone was.
Ron had spotted Crookshanks curled up on one of the sofas and was prodding the half-kneazle awake. Crookshanks hissed at him.
'Hey, Crookshanks, do you know where Hermione is? Could you get her for me?'
The cat threw him a bored and slightly arrogant look and strechted languidly. Then, with his bottle-brush tail up in the air, he walked off, away from the dormitories to the portrait hole.
Ron cursed. 'Damn cat! Why does it have to be so stubborn?'
Harry was relieved to see that Ron believed Crookshanks was merely being stubborn and that he didn't think Crookshanks was truly leaving to find Hermione.
Ron collapsed into one of the soft armchairs ungracefully, sighing. 'I'm gonna wait for her to come down.', he said, glaring at the stairs to the girl's dormitories.
'Okay.', Harry said, quickly walking over to the portrait hole to let Crookshanks out.
After that he returned to the dorm. Where was Hermione? It had become an everyday ocurrence that she wasn't there and whenever she returned, she looked livelier and happier than she had before. Harry was glad to see her so happy, but still, he wondered what she was doing.
Suddenly, he had an idea. He cursed himself for not thinking of it before, as he got up quickly and went to his trunk. The Marauder's Map was in his hands a moment later.
He took his wand out and tapped the map with it, while stating: 'I solemnly swear I'm up to no good.'
A guilty feeling churned in his stomach as he said those words. He truly was up to no good. In his head, he apologized to Hermione for spying on her, before watching the lines of ink appear on the old parchment.
The first thing that caught his attention was a dot streaking through the halls, currently moving down from the fifth to the fourth floor. The dot was labelled 'Crookshanks' and he suspected the half-kneazle was making its way towards his owner.
He followed the small dot with his eyes, not noticing Ginny Weasley's dot as it travelled from the first to the ground floor.
Soon, he realized Crookshanks was heading towards the hospital wing. He glanced at the room concernedly, immediately spotting Hermione's dot.
His eyes widened as he saw the dot that was closest to her. The two dots were nearly touching and Harry felt surprise, guilt and disbelief at seeing the second person in the hospital wing.
He felt guilty because he had been the cause of the second person's being in the hospital wing. And he felt surprise and disbelief that Hermione was there, with him.
The second dot, the one Hermione was so close to, was none other than Snape.
What was she doing there? Had she gone to the hospital wing every time she had disappeared? Had she visited... him, whenever she had been gone?
Harry didn't know what to think. Snape still wasn't in his right mind, he couldn't teach, his soul still damaged, in a way. Why was Hermione with him?
Crookshanks' dot entered the hospital wing at high speed, halting near the dot of his mistress.
A few seconds later, both her dot and Crookshanks' left the hospital wing, turning to walk up the stairs.
Harry got up in a flash but walked down the stairs and through the common room in a sedate pace. To Ron he said he was going for a walk.
He needed to talk to Hermione. And Hermione couldn't let Ron see her enter through the portrait hole, lest Harry's lie be uncovered.
Harry walked briskly towards the stairs.
He could feel her before he reached her. She was walking slowly, reluctantly, it seemed. The light pattering of claws convinced Harry of the fact that Crookshanks was still by her side.
He hid in the shadows, waiting for her to walk into the corridor he was in. He wasn't disappointed.
Just a second before she reached him, Crookshanks stopped and sniffed the air.
Smart cat, Harry thought, stepping out of the shadow to confront Hermione.
She gave a startled yelp as he emerged, taking an unconscious step back. But when she saw who it was, she visibly relaxed.
'Harry? What are you doing?', she asked confusedly.
Harry didn't know how to tell her he had... well...
'We didn't know where you were and so I checked on the Marauder's Map...', Harry watched her face and grew bolder. 'You were with Snape! All this time you were missing, you were with him!'
He sounded angrier than he was, but what was said was said.
He watched as her face grew furious. 'You spied on me?', she said, her voice dangerously low.
'It wasn't spying,', Harry protested weakly, knowing full well that it had been. 'We... that is, Ron and me, we were concerned. So... I figured...'
The anger seemed to drain froom her face. 'So Ron knows, too? Where is he? Isn't he going to accuse me as well?'
'I checked on you alone. He doesn't know. I think he would be a lot... less understanding.'
She huffed. 'As if you were so understanding. You hate him! You accuse me! You have no idea...'
Harry felt a stab at his heart seeing her so hurt. 'I'm sorry, 'Mione! I didn't mean to spy on you... it's just... we were really worried and... what were you doing with Snape? Tell me, I'll try to understand. I'll really try.' He smiled at her encouragingly.
But she shook her head sadly. 'I don't think you will understand, Harry. With your history...'
'Our history? I have forgotten our history, it doesn't matter to me anymore! What I have done... what I did to him... it's unforgivable. I nearly killed him... oh Merlin, Hermione, I nearly killed someone... and there's still something wrong with him. I can't forgive myself. The least I can do is forgive him. Gods, how blind I was. How blind... I was so horrible. I...' He trailed off, anguish eating him from the inside. What had he done?
'Shh...', she stepped forward laying a hand on Harry's shoulder. 'He'll be all right. He's going to start teaching classes again by next week. He's merely resting.'
'Really?', Harry looked up again, feeling a weight he hadn't noticed before, lift from him. Light-headed, he hugged her, thanking her silently.
'Thanks for being such a great friend. I...' Suddenly, Harry felt the overwhelming urge to tell her. To tell her what he was. She had told him her secret – well, part of it- and he had accepted it. He was sure she would understand and wouldn't reject him for being what he was.
'Hermione... You know, I've been dishonest, too. I've lied to both you and Ron and to everyone else. I... Something happened over the sumemr holidays which...' He couldn't continue, the words stuck in his throat.
'Hey...' Hermione said softly. 'Look at me.'
Harry lifted his eyes reluctantly. Her brown eyes held compassion and understanding. 'I already know.'
He couldn't believe it. 'What? How?'
'I had suspected for a longer time, but today I saw proof of it. I know that you're a vampire.' She smiled simply.
'You... don't you hate me? Aren't you... afraid?' Harry searched her face, but her smile stayed.
'Of course not! Why should I? You're the same Harry. I don't hate Professor Lupin, do I? Harry, even if you are a dark creature, you still are my friend first and foremost.'
Relief swept through Harry and he unclenched his hands.
'Show me your hands.'
His mind racing, he complied, putting his hands in hers. She looked down at his fingertips, touching them lightly with her own. 'Ah yes. I had nearly forgotten... vampires heal quickly...' She quirked a smile at him and continued to examine his hands. She stopped when she arrived on his right index finger. 'I'm so sorry, Harry! Did it hurt a lot?'
Harry wanted to appease her and tell her no, but she glared and he confirmed it.
'Oh Harry, I really didn't want to hurt you, but that was all I could come up with... The locket was silver and I thought...'
'I know. It's okay. I feel no pain.' He smiled reassuringly. 'So... the locket was from your mum, huh?' Harry felt his eyes twinkle amusedly and couldn't resist a grin.
'How did you know I was lying?', she asked, astonished.
Harry indicated his nose. 'Smell. You smelled really nervous and I could practically see 'lie' written all over your face.'
'You know, if I didn't know you, I'd think you were really creepy.' She hugged him again. 'Yes... it was a lie. The locket... was a gift from Severus.' This time she only blushed a little, but Harry could hear her heart speed up.
Harry felt old rage well up in his stomach, but he forced it down in favour of giving her a lingering glance. 'Snape? What exactly is going on?'
Hermione laughed and Harry was glad everything was okay between them. 'I'll tell you when I'm ready, okay?'
Harry found himself nodding. He didn't want to rush her. And hell, if she had befriended Snape, who was he to say she couldn't?
'But don't tell Ron, please. I don't think he'd understand that I... I just like Severus and want to continue visiting him. Can you do that, Harry?'
Harry agreed completely with her. 'As long as you keep my being a vampire for yourself...'
She hesitated. 'Don't you think it'd be better to tell him? He gets so angry when he's left out.'
Harry knew that. 'Why don't you tell him about Snape, then?', he countered.
She blushed and Harry again tried to discern the different layers of her scent and failed.
'Good point.', Hermione said, finally.
They tiptoed into the common room but soon saw that it had been unnecessary. Ron appeared to have given up because the room was deserted.
They sat down on the sofa in front of the fireplace. Crookshanks jumped onto Hermione's lap. She petted the half-kneazle's head and suddenly turned to Harry, a playful glint in her eyes.
'So, Harry... have you found your mate yet?'
The tables had turned and now, it was Harry's turn to blush.
Hehe. Hermione is an inquisitor. She'll torture the truth out of him! Nah, just joking. But...who knows.
Any thoughts on your part? Of course there are, you're no brainless idiots after all. And... if you want to review... do it! I'm glad to hear your opinion!