Chapter: Fate is Known
There was a ringing in his ears, and yet the room was so silent he could have been sitting in a vacuum. It was as if a magic blast had gone off next to his head. His eyes watered, and a bought of nausea made him sway in his seat. He couldn't hear, couldn't feel, couldn't comprehend his surroundings beyond his own disorientation. He swallowed reflexively a few times, casting his gaze to his lap in slight panic and blinking rapidly to clear his vision. Slowly, the sound of his own harsh breathing, whooshing in and out through his parted lips made itself known. He drew his lips back, trying to get more air, though his jaw seemed locked halfway between the gritting of teeth and open gape.
He forced his mouth closed, and swallowed again.
"I'm sorry," He mumbled lowly, drawing his eyes back up to Harry's as the feel of the younger wizard's hands in his own came back to him. "What did you say?"
It dawned on him that Harry looked ever so sorry, with eyes that seemed endless in their grief.
"Lucius," Harry murmured gently. "I'm so sorry."
"No," Lucius shook his head, trying to clear it. "I don't know what you said... What were you saying?"
Suddenly, Severus was crouching and taking both Lucius' and Harry's upper arms and a firm grip. When had Severus been there?
"Harry," Severus murmured, as softly as Harry had said Lucius' name, but with a bit of urgency that seemed to match an intensity in his black eyes. Lucius looked at him in bewilderment.
"Severus?" He cocked his head to the side, trying to suss what would be causing Severus such distress. Severus turned his gaze to the blond wizard, his eyes becoming hard with a truth...
The blood began to rush in Lucius' ears, his skin heating as he matched Severus' gaze. His hands began to tingle, and he suddenly felt like he was drowning. His eyes darted between the two dark haired wizards as they gazed at him in apology and grief.
As if a switch had been flipped, Lucius yanked his hands out of Harry's grasp and pushed the younger man way. A cry wrenched from his mouth as he jumped up and propelled himself away from his mates. He slapped a hand over his mouth as tears burst from his eyes, shaking his head in disbelief.
"No," He cried, stumbling back towards the door, groping for the handle as his back slammed into the frame. He pressed his hand to his mouth with all his strength, cutting his lower lip as the sobs that refused to be muffled broke through. "No!"
Taking his hand from his mouth to point at Severus, he moaned. "You knew. You knew! You've known all along, haven't you?!
And YOU!" He snarled, pointing at Harry. "You've known even longer, haven't you!? You've touched and held me, and all the while he's been there! You held me in your arms, and all the while never even thought to tell me that just maybe you might DIE-"
"There was always a big chance I was going to die-"
"NOT like this, there wasn't! Not in my mind! It was never a certainty!"
"And it is now?!" Harry yelled back, finally reaching the end of his tether as he jumped to his feet.
"Did you see the explosion in there, Harry?" Lucius asked, dropping his voice to a more normal level, though his words were no less intense. "Did you see what happened to the horcrux to make it so flat? Did you!?"
Harry glared before gritting out. "Of course I did-"
"No, Harry. No, you didn't. You spent those few minutes lying under pieces of a door with the other part of my life lying next to you like you were a couple of corpses! People came out of it! Souls, Harry! Souls came out of that tiny little locket, and Regulus Black's soul CRUSHED the locket in his hands like paper! They ripped what part of Tom Riddle's soul was in there out and into the cauldron and then floated off like they were on holiday!"
Harry, I think you need to understand something about soul bonds. And, I'm not talking about horcruxes and whatever spells a Dark Lord thinks will tie their followers to them. Real soul bonds; the kind we were born with. The kind I was born with. Harry, they're so much stronger than you know, and so much frailer than I think you realize. Do you know what happens to bond mates when one mate dies?"
"Let him answer, Severus! Harry?"
"No. I thought not. Harry, when a mate of a pair or a triad dies, the other mates aren't far behind."
"What are you saying?"
Lucius fought to keep himself from shouting.
"I'm saying that if this potion kills you in the process of ripping out Voldemort's soul, I'll die...
And, so will Severus."
Harry and Lucius stared at each other, one in shock and the other in pleading desperation. The silence was deafening.
Severus finally cleared his throat. "That's not exactly true."
Both mates turned to look at their third wizard.
"Of course it is!" "What do you mean?"
Severus sighed, all of the fight going out of him. He suddenly seemed to be somehow less than he was, before. "That's only true for fully mated bonds. We aren't yet fully mated. Without a full bond we may survive if something were to happen to Harry -"
"And, you're just fine with that!?"
"No!" Severus snarled, pinning Lucius with a glare. "Do not pretend to think I wouldn't grieve for Harry! You know better."
"But you would 'go on living' -"
"I would do what I must!"
"Then, I must die - !"
"Harry, I'm the center of the bond. With or without a full bond, I die -"
"I said 'enough', Lucius. Be still." Harry growled. Lucius' eyes cast a wounded look at his youngest mate. Harry held firm.
"Now. Just nod, yes or no. Our bond isn't fully consummated, yes?"
Two nods, one firm, one hesitant.
"If I were to die, neither of you would follow?"
One nod, one shake.
Severus became sheepish. "I wouldn't die. Lucius is right, I'm not the center of the bond..."
"But, Lucius would?"
Severus hesitated, "... There may be a potion..."
"No," Lucius cut in, defeated. "There's been research for centuries on how to save a center mate. It's never worked. You die, I die. Once my heart and soul accepts you as a mate, there's no turning back."
Harry steeled himself, drawing to full height and nodding gravely. "Severus, this potion separates the soul from the object?"
"Yes, Harry." His voice was gentle, his eyes sorrowful. He almost wished he'd just let Lucius tell the tale of mates, but his belief in the fight against Voldemort, and his love for the truth stopped him from withholding the fact that not all mates could die from the loss of one another.
"But, I'm not an object-"
"No, you're a person!" Lucius cut in. "With your own soul! Who's to say that Voldemort's soul would be the one separated from your body, and not your own! What happens if your soul gets separated, and he's able to hold on?!
Harry," Lucius pleaded. "I couldn't bear seeing his soul in your eyes; his expressions on your face. I couldn't bear it."
"Then, if that were to happen, you'd have to destroy my body with him in it -"
"AND THEN you'd continue on! Lucius, think of Draco. Think of Severus."
Lucius crumbled where he stood, tears streaming as he clutched his hair, gasping for breath.
"I will take the potion," Harry murmured over Lucius' quiet weeping. "I will fight Voldemort with everything I have. And IF I die, or he takes my body, you will kill him, and you will take a potion to save you as center mate, and you will live. For Draco. For Severus. For me. You will live on for me. I command you, as a dominant mate, to live."
There were a few beats of silence as Lucius trembled and Severus watched on, his face stone, but his eyes sorrowful as he gazed at his mates.
"...Do you understand, Lucius?"
Lucius started to shake his head.
"Do not refuse me, lover."
Lucius hiccuped once, and then raising his eyes to match his Harry's, he nodded.
"I understand." Lucius whispered, dropping his eyes to the floor.
"Then, we are agreed. Severus, let's brew the next potion for the next horcrux. We should destroy all of Voldemort's objects, first. Lucius -"
"Leave me be," Lucius deadpanned, turning to stare at the far wall away from his mates."
Both dominant mates paused in the doorway. Severus dropped his head for a moment, before taking a breath, shaking his head as he lifted his chin, and moving out of the room. Harry would never mention it, but he could see the tears held back in those onyx eyes as Severus swept past. Lucius wasn't the only one who stood to lose a mate. Severus could very well lose both of his mates. But, Harry knew that his dark beauty would put his duty to justice and the wizarding world above his personal wants. Harry was counting on it.
"As you wish," He murmured to Lucius as he followed Severus out.
He wished that there was something he could do that didn't involve dooming the two people he held most dear to death or despair. Not for the first time, he cursed Voldemort's name.
AN: First, thanks to everyone who stuck with me. And, for the kind words sent through PM and review by my awesome followers. It seems that most of the flame reviewers have taken a hike. Cheers to that!
As always, I don't promise /when/ I'll update, again. But, I do promise that /someday/ there will be an update. My life is busy and crazy, and sometimes heartbreaking. I hope you enjoyed this chapter (in the reading of it, though you're probably heartbroken about it. ;) )
This was a really hard chapter to get through because of life, AND because of poor Lucius. :(
As always, R&R!