DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all other characters and locations belong to J. K. Rowling.
A/n: An astonishing 16 pages and 8266 words makes this the longest chapter I've ever written. It's extremely long and kind of complicated, so please pay attention. Damn it, I'm just glad it's over! I hope you all enjoy it.
Thanks for the amazing ride, CV.
Epilogue - A Present and an Unexpected Gift
Epilogue - A Present and an Unexpected Gift
Huddled within his cloak, Draco Malfoy stared silently at the door engraved in the thick stone of the dungeon wall. He sighed heavily as he drew his knees against his chest and wrapped his arms around them, interlacing his fingers thoughtlessly. The door's presence was oddly calming; its existence as reassuring as the wand held tightly within his hand. If not for that seemingly useless portal, he'd believe himself quite mad. As it was, whenever he mentioned that dark night, his companions stared at him as if he'd gone completely bonkers. Even Pansy, who had reappeared suddenly within the Slytherin dormitory, stared at him in confusion when he demanded to know where she'd been. Mad, they called him, and sometimes he wanted to believe them.
But he knew he wasn't . . . because there was a door in Hogwarts' dungeons that led to Hell. A door that refused to open and resisted every spell in his limited repertoire. He shivered and wrapped his cloak tighter about his frame, closing his eyes and resting his head against the wall he was leaning against.
"Why do you sit alone in the darkness, Draco Malfoy?" A lilting voice purred from the shadows behind him.
Stiffening, Draco slowly turned his head, his eyes widening at the sight of a red-haired woman with sleek white wings standing in the corner farthest from him. He scrambled to his feet with a gasp of fear, his wand rising to point at her chest. "Who are you?" The question wasn't really a question; it was more of a demand. An extremely imperious demand that had the redhead's lips curling in amusement.
Gliding forward in a pool of golden light, she tipped her chin in greeting, eyeing him curiously. "I am the angel Lily," she murmured softly, sweeping around him and pacing toward the door drawn within the dark stone. Her wings rustled as she paused before the portal, one hand lifting to hover above the cold rock. "My face is a faint memory within your mind. My eyes, however, haunt your dreams." Turning, she walked back toward the wizard, halting only when the tip of his wand brushed the fabric of her white gown.
Draco stared into emerald spheres that glowed eerily, comprehension dawning slowly. "You were there," he breathed finally, his arm falling limply back to his side as the angel tipped her head and smiled. "That night in the Great Hall . . . you were there."
Taking a small step backwards, Lily ruffled her wings and bowed her head. "I was indeed there," she murmured, turning back around and prowling aimlessly across the chamber. She once again stopped before the portal, tipping her head to the left as she waited patiently for the young mortal to garner his courage. The seconds flew by, her patience wearing thin at the blond's continued silence. With a huff, she whirled dramatically around, tossing her wings open with a crash of feathers. "And now I'm here, Draco Malfoy. What I'm wondering, though, is why you're here."
Straightening angrily, Draco raised his chin and crossed his arms, glowering at the angel down the length of his nose. "I can go wherever I want," he drawled arrogantly. His eyes narrowed at the redhead's amused chuckle, the point of his wand bouncing as he began to tap one foot in an annoyed fashion.
"I see," Lily said, those two words causing the wizard's boot to stop in mid tap. Peering over her shoulder, she stared at the blond thoughtfully, a single brow arching slowly. "So, you're sitting alone in the cold staring at a wall because it pleases you to do so? Are you certain your presence here has nothing to do with this door scratched into the stone?"
"Of course not," Draco snapped.
"That's good," Lily said cheerfully, "because this door was never meant for more than one crossing." She swung around to face the young wizard, her smile sickly sweet as she folded her hands before her. The light that seemed to hover about her brightened, gilding her in yellow and turning her wings a dull gold.
"What?" Draco shrieked, staring at the angel in horror. Rushing forward, he halted beside the redhead, his gaze sweeping over the engraved portal as his hands fluttered uselessly before him. "You don't know that!" He barked, desperately searching for whatever it was that the angel had seen.
"Of course I do," Lily returned sharply. Whirling around, she aimed a finger at an intricately drawn rune, tracing its curves with the tip of her nail. "I've drawn a gateway or two in my time, boy, and this rune clearly states 'once'."
Anything else the angel may have said fell upon deaf ears because Draco had stopped listening when she unintentionally admitted she knew how to recreate the gateway. Pursing his lips, he focused calculating orbs on the redhead, wondering exactly what it would take to get her to assist him in creating a new door. Politely asking the angel seemed like his best bet, though he doubted she would agree. There was another way, though. A way that Harry would have heartily approved of. Pasting a charming smile upon his lips, he shifted slightly, drawing the woman's attention back to him. "Lily, I believe it was," he purred suavely, "Perhaps you could help me with a little problem I have. You see-"
"It is against the rules." Lily snapped, not liking the gleam in the wizard's pale eyes. She moved liquidly across the room, putting a decent distance between them before swinging gracefully back around. Her hands settled on her hips as she observed the flaring of the mortal's nostrils and the whitening of his knuckles; both obvious signs that he'd been attempting to subtly manipulate her. "Angels are not allowed to assist in the creation of any portals which might aid demons in gaining the mortal plane. Besides, whatever would you want with a demon? They're practically animals. Why, their manners are atrocious and they spend half their time rutting like wild animals. And don't even get me started-"
"Stop it!" Draco yelled, his wand rising once again to point at the angel's chest. "That's not true! None of it's true! Harry would never-" He stopped there, clamping his lips together and glaring at Lily through narrowed orbs. His wand shook within his grasp, the tip weaving dangerously from left to right as he tried to calm himself.
Lily schooled her features into an expression of mild interest, having to fight to keep from smirking smugly. "Harry who?" She inquired innocently, her eyebrows lifting slowly as the wizard stared at her blankly. Flipping a wing forward, she absently ran her fingers over the soft feathers, internally reveling in the fact that she could still successfully manipulate people with little thought or effort; a skill which was much frowned upon by other angels. "I could guess . . . but there are dozens of demons with the name Harry and I haven't the time to recite all their names and titles. So, I'll save us both a lot of tedious conversation and assume you speak of Harry Potter, the former Retriever."
Draco's mouth fell open as he stared incredulously at the angel. "You know Harry?" He hissed, the tip of his wand once again directed at the floor.
"Everyone knows of Harry Potter. He was once one of Hades most prized Retrievers. Once upon a time, he was spoken of almost reverently. His feats known to even the lowest ranking cherub. Now, he is merely a shadow of his former self." Lily murmured, watching the wizard closely. She padded closer to the blond, frowning as she noted his pale complexion and glassy eyes. "But he lives, Draco Malfoy, and some would say that is all that matters."
"I need to see him," Draco breathed before he could stop himself. His eyes met the angel's glowing emerald orbs and his tongue flicked out to dampen his suddenly dry lips, his fingers clenching about the handle of his wand.
Arching her wings, Lily sadly shook her head. "I cannot help you. To do so would mean going against the laws of my Lord, and that is something I will not allow myself to do." Bowing her head, she began to back slowly away from the wizard, pausing when her wings brushed the damp stone of the wall. "I will, however, tell you this . . . Harry's full name is Harry James Potter." With a loud - extremely un-angel like - thud, she vanished. The only sign she had ever been within the chamber was a single white feather that floated slowly to the stone floor.
Draco followed the feather's path with his eyes, blinking as it finally settled upon the floor. Listlessly, he padded forward, stopping when he reached the spot where it lay on the stone. He collapsed to his knees thoughtlessly, reaching forward to pick the feather up but stilling when his fingers brushed the patch of floor the feather rested on. With a soft hiss, he flicked his wrist and whispered Lumos, his eyes widening at the object the soft glow revealed. A smirk slowly curved his lips as he lifted the feather and twirled it between his fingers, his silver orbs locked on the thick tome lying in the shadows. Casting a quick glance over his shoulder, he collected the book and rose, practically skipping from the chamber with the angel's gifts held tightly in his arms.
Harry was sprawled on his stomach before a pool of belching magma, his wings stretched over the dark rock to either side of him. Idly, he flicked a small pebble into the bubbling puddle, watching in bored fascination as the boiling lava consumed the small stone. He yawned widely and tucked his left arm under his chin, searching out another stone with his right hand. There were a dozen things he'd rather be doing at the moment, unfortunately, his privileges had been revoked. All of them. All he had was this: a puddle of lava and a pile of pebbles. By no means was this his punishment for going against Hades orders. Nope, this was merely his only remaining form of entertainment. Eternity was suddenly looking like a very, very long time.
Another yawn escaped him as he palmed a good-sized rock, testing its weight with a lazy heft before pitching it into the center of the pool. He flinched as magma splattered around him, gritting his teeth as a small droplet struck him on the cheek. "Hades' balls," the Retriever snapped, swiping at the spot with his right hand. A grimace of anger twisted his features, the expression changing into one of horrified surprise when Sirius crashed into the rock next to him.
Sucking in a deep breath, the minor demon immediately launched into a fit of coughing, pausing in the midst of his hacking to flip off the seemingly empty darkness above them. "Hi Harry," he finally wheezed, rolling himself carefully into a sitting position and rubbing the back of his head.
With a sharp jerk, Harry yanked his wing from beneath the minor demon, his emerald orbs narrowing dangerously. "Sirius," he replied, lifting his eyes to scan the thin shadows concealing the ceiling of the cavern. Slowly, he returned his chin to his forearm, his gaze drifting back to the churning magma. "Out of morbid curiousity, how'd you find me?"
"Remus, of course. Maylan told us where you were, though." Glancing absently around, Sirius brushed dirt and soot from his arms and backside, failing to notice the murderous look that passed over Harry's face. "If you'd actually stay somewhere reasonably accessible, I would have been able to find you on my own. You're very fortunate you have such caring friends. Friends like me, who go out of their way to make sure you're not dying of boredom in some dark little cave by yourself."
Good friend my ass, the Retriever internally growled. "Excuse me for wanting to be alone." Harry snarled, his orbs flashing jade as he considered the size of the splash the minor demon's impact would cause should he happen to fall into the pit of lava. Accidentally, of course. He would never stoop so low as to amuse himself by offing his own gopher. Sirius could slip . . . he was a notorious klutz. Stranger things had been known to happen.
Sliding closer to the edge of the lava pool, Sirius eyed the frothing puddle warily, his fingers biting into the stone. "Retirement not going well?" He asked, completely unaware of the fact that his companion was eyeing him almost hungrily. "What you need is a hobby. Something to fill your time and keep you from thinking about Dra . . . things." The minor demon finished lamely, shooting a sidelong glance at the other male.
"And what would you suggest, Sirius?" Harry rumbled, raising a hand to absently scratch at the thick collar encircling his throat. He curled his lips at the brush of metal, his scratching quickly turning into tugging as he roughly jerked at the silver band. The collar was a gift from Hades and had the ability to stabilize the iron pumping through his veins. It eliminated the pain the liquid metal caused, yet at the same time, if removed, it sent the raven-haired Retriever into a world of hurt. Like all gifts Hades chose to give, it was more of a burden. A pain in Harry's ass.
"Anything but this, Harry. Sitting alone in a cave throwing pebbles into a pool of magma isn't good for your mental stability." Sirius whined, hefting one of the Retriever's stones and chucking it blithely into the gurgling pool. He watched as the stone was consumed by the fiery magma before reaching for another, yanking his hand back when Harry made a grab for it. "Remember the good old days? Beating up imps and harassing the messenger demons? You should go out and do some of that. I bet you it'd cheer you up real quick."
"Have you looked at me lately?" Harry snarled, springing to his feet and opening his wings with a snap. A rumbling growl vibrated his chest at Sirius' weakly hidden wince, the minor demon's gaze everywhere but the Retriever's splayed wings. "I look like a pigeon! A big, fat, park pigeon!" The raven-haired male bellowed, flapping the mottled gray and black appendages for emphasis.
Sirius stood and backed cautiously away from the enraged Retriever, grimacing at the sight of Harry's wings. The once dark scales were now multihued; a delightfully bright combination of gray, white, and, ebony. "You don't look like a pigeon, Harry," Sirius assured his companion, "You look like a seagull. A big, pissed off, parking lot seagull." A surprised squeal escaped the minor demon when the Retriever lunged forward with his hands outstretched.
"A seagull?" Harry hissed, curling his fingers around Sirius' neck and lifting him off the ground. He gave the minor demon a rough shake, delighting in the gurgle of fear that spilled from the dark-haired male's mouth as he flailed wildly about. "That's supposed to make me feel better about myself?" Giving his head a disgusted wag, Harry tossed Sirius across the cavern, watching in satisfaction as the minor demon collided with the wall before sliding slowly to the ground.
"Do you feel any better now?"
Harry stiffened at the question, his emerald orbs rising to scan the shadowed ceiling of the cave. "Do I feel any better?" He repeated in a snarl, inhaling deeply as his head swiveled in search of the other male. "What is this, Remus? Some twisted form of therapy?" His eyes discerned a slight shift in the darkness above him, his nostrils pinching at the musky smell of sex the Incubus exuded.
Realizing he'd been seen, Remus allowed himself to float gently downward, giving his wings the lightest of flaps to slow his descent. "Did it feel at all therapeutic?" He asked, landing a safe distance from the enraged Retriever. His gaze shot to Sirius when the minor demon rolled over with a low groan, his movements drawing Harry's narrowed orbs. "Because if it did, I highly recommend continuing - not on me," he added sharply when the dark-haired demon's shining emeralds slid toward him.
"You're volunteering Sirius?" Harry purred, hefting his wings aggressively. He took a predatory step toward the Incubus, knowing full well the brown-haired demon would put up a good fight, but stilling when Sirius mumbled something unintelligible. "What?" His eyes never moved from Remus but his brow furrowed at Sirius' garbled observation.
"Glowing green," Sirius repeated dazedly, "Like a pretty little firefly." His glazed eyes were resting firmly on Harry.
Taking a deep breath, Harry lifted a hand and stared at his fingers, his lips just beginning to form a nasty curse when he vanished with a pop.
Heaving a relieved sigh, Remus turned toward Sirius and planted his hands on his hips. "A seagull!" He shrilled, his wings rustling loudly as he stormed in the minor demon's direction. "Are you trying to get us killed? Do you really think he hasn't noticed that he looks like the product of a drunken mating between a dove and a crow? Seriously, Sirius, you really need to learn to engage your brain before your mouth." With a disgusted hiss, the Incubus leapt into the air and disappeared among the shadows, leaving the minor demon stranded in a deserted corridor of Hell.
Draco Malfoy glanced at the small clock resting on the floor beside him and rose fluidly. He rubbed his hands briskly together and surveyed the small chamber he'd commandeered in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. Everything appeared to be in place. Biting his bottom lip nervously, he strolled quickly around the perimeter of the salt circle he had created, his eyes scanning for any imperfections in the thick white line. After assuring himself the line was unbroken, he shot another quick glance at the clock, checking the placement of the minute hand. It was almost time.
He drew a deep breath and spun around, stalking toward the bag he'd left in the corner earlier. Without pausing to second-guess himself, he hauled the thick tome free of the bag and started back toward the circle, the grimoire clutched tightly within his hands. A tight smile crossed his lips as he caressed the book's cover absently, hoping that Lily the angel was looking the other way this particular night.
Somewhere within the Manor a clock began to chime, the deep bongs resonating through the massive castle. It was midnight; the time when the veil between the planes was at its thinnest. "This had better work," Draco muttered, flipping the grimoire open to the page marked with a single white feather. He shuffled in place for a moment, his eyes sweeping over the words he'd read over and over again until they were ingrained within his memory. Finally, after casting one last prayer toward the Heavens, he spoke the simple sentence required to return Harry to the mortal plane.
"Harry James Potter, former Retriever of Hades, I summon you."
The grimoire closed with a dull thud in his hands and the chiming clock above grew silent. Swallowing heavily, Draco waited, his pale orbs locked on the center of the circle. Seconds slipped into minutes, his patience growing more strained with every tick of the clock's hands. Despair was beginning to set in when the torches on the walls guttered. Eyes flicking from the dying flames to the circle, the blond held his breath, his knuckles whitening upon the grimoire.
A shriek of pure fury had him paling, his eyes widening as a flash of bright green blinded him momentarily. He stumbled backwards, the grimoire falling from his hands as his back struck the wall of the chamber. Fighting down the urge to flee, he huddled against the wall, his orbs locked on the shuddering mass resting within the center of the salt circle.
"Who dares disturb me?" Harry hissed, raising his chin and scanning the shadows with orbs that glowed an eerie shade of jade. His nostrils flared and he tipped his head, sinking dagger like nails into the stone between his knees. He grew still as a familiar scent tickled his nose. Opening his mouth, he inhaled again, dragging air over his tongue. Brow furrowing, he straightened into a crouch, flipping his wings back. "Draco."
Gazing at the dark-haired demon in awe, Draco finally remembered to breathe. Even as his lungs expanded, Harry's head swiveled in his direction; those glowing orbs settling on him without err. "Harry," he whispered weakly, taking several short strides forward. Thoughtlessly he collapsed in front of the demon, taking in the Retriever's changed appearance with wide eyes. "I thought you were dead."
Drinking in the sight of the blond, Harry licked his lips and slid his nails free of the stone he crouched upon. "Hades was merciful," he replied curtly, scanning the chamber quickly before returning his attention to the wizard. He crept toward the edge of the circle on his hands and knees, stilling when the tips of his nails brushed the thick line of salt. "Let me out, Draco." The whisper was more a plea than a command.
Draco reached out to break the white line but halted, his fingers curling into his palms as he shifted warily. Staring at the raven-haired demon kneeling before him, he realized he'd never thought any further then the actual Summoning. What exactly did one do with a demon? He shook his head as Harry repeated his demand, pulling his hand back and drawing his knees up against his chest. "I can't."
"Just break the line," Harry urged the blond in a whisper. He frowned when Draco shook his head, his eyes flashing angrily. The uncertainty he saw on the blond's face had him sighing softly and relaxing his posture. Stretching his wings lazily above his head, he flowed backwards until he was once again in the center of the circle and then sat. He studied the wizard silently, breathing in his scent and just enjoying his quiet presence. "I missed you." He was, perhaps, even more amazed by the statement than the blond was.
Blinking in surprise, Draco bit his lip, his eyes darting restlessly about the room. "If I let you out . . . what will you do?" He asked finally, his pale orbs returning to the raven-haired male.
A faint smile curved his lips and Harry tipped his head to the right, considering the question carefully. "You Summoned me," he responded after a moment's hesitation, "Therefore I'm yours to command. So, Draco Malfoy, the question becomes: what do you want me to do?" Sitting perfectly still, he watched the blond, his nose picking up the slightest of changes in the wizard's scent as he thought the question over.
After several minutes of deep thought, Draco's eyes returned to Harry and he rose gracefully. Slowly, he glided toward the circle, his gray orbs full of purpose. Resting the toe of his boot against the salt line, he stared into the demon's emerald orbs and drew a deep breath. "Don't leave me like that again," he murmured, breaking the line of salt with a delicate movement of his boot.
Harry stood and glided fluidly toward the blond, slowing only when he stepped over the white granules spread across the dark stone. He prowled toward Draco like a wolf stalking a lamb, his strides long and unhurried. "I'll have to leave eventually," he murmured, "But I promise to always return when you call me." His wings arched forward, encircling the wizard in a well-practiced maneuver, preventing him from moving backwards. When their chests were inches apart he halted, staring down into Draco's wide eyes with emeralds that shimmered lovingly.
Nodding his head slowly, Draco cautiously placed his hands on Harry's biceps, his fingers tightening as the dark-haired male dipped his chin, bringing their faces within millimeters. "I'll call you as long as I live," he promised fervently. His breathing hitched when Harry's lips brushed first his forehead and then the tip of his nose. For one second the demon's mouth hovered above his, their soft exhalations mixing as they gazed into each other's eyes. And then Harry closed that short distance.
With a growl that vibrated his chest, Harry wrapped his arms around Draco's waist, pinning them together as their lips meshed. His tongue ran delicately along the blond's lower lip before teasing the seam between, begging entrance gently. He trembled violently at Draco's light moan, the scales of his wings hissing together as the wizard encircled his neck and opened his mouth. He took possession of the blond's mouth forcefully, his tongue plunging ruthlessly against Draco's, drawing a strangled gasp from the wizard. They broke apart as they fought for air, their hands stroking idly.
"You might just be the death of me," Harry breathed against the side of Draco's face, hugging the blond closer. He smiled as the wizard chuckled lightly and snuggled against his chest, for once in his life believing in something other than mindless killing. Because this was definitely love . . . with a healthy dose of lust thrown in just for good measure.
On a cold day in September six years after his graduation, Draco Malfoy returned to Hogwarts. It was at the behest of Albus Dumbledore that he returned. He could have refused the order. He had, in fact, even gone so far as to write a letter of refusal. However, when he'd stood with the signed and sealed parchment in his hand before a sleek barn owl, he'd found himself unable to actually send the document. Not because his morals demanded he respond in the negative, but because he knew that he was the only one who could perform the task Dumbledore requested of him. And that task was a momentous one.
He, Draco Malfoy, was going to teach demonology . . . to Hogwarts students . . . at the request of Albus Dumbledore.
Harry had laughed so hard he'd cried when Draco first handed him the correspondence. After several hours of quiet debate, the pair had agreed Draco would accept the position of Professor of Demonology. If for no other reason than the chance to terrify young children who didn't believe in the things that went bump in the night. It was going to be a highly entertaining few decades . . .
Time passed as it was wont to do. Thousands of students came and went, some more enlightened than others. All of them taught in the way of the wand. And the way of the demon.
Students who entered the Demonology classroom in the dungeons exited with shell-shocked expressions upon their faces. Like they had seen something within the chamber that defied everything they'd ever been taught. And as it was only the seventh and sixth years who were eligible for the lessons, the younger students were left to ponder the contents of the dungeon room.
There were those who ignored the rules of the school, who crept down into the dungeons at night and attempted to gain access to the chamber; curious to catch a glimpse of whatever it was that spooked the older students to such a degree that many kept night lights in their dorm rooms. Only a handful had ever found the room's door unlocked. It was that handful that stared at Draco Malfoy with reddened cheeks and horrified eyes, unable to recount what they had witnessed to their friends or housemates. After all, it wasn't every day one caught ones Professor engaged in activities of a decidedly sexual nature with a dark-haired, emerald-eyed demon.
To Harry Potter, the years passed quickly, his time spent between Hell and Hogwarts. Yet as the decades flew by, he became more aware of Draco's mortality. He watched the wizard age, almost terrified to admit to himself that the blond would eventually die. And not quite able to contemplate life without the blond. It was for that reason, on a warm summer night sixty-three years after Harry had first met Draco, the demon slipped from the wizard's bed and into the adjacent chamber.
Closing the door quietly behind him, he prowled the room slowly, raising a hand to run his fingers across the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. A long sigh slid past his lips as he halted in a shadowed corner, his hand falling back to his side as he prepared himself for what was to come. He, Harry James Potter, was about to call in Zeus' favour. Drawing a deep breath, he shot a quick glance in the direction of Draco's bedchamber, and then intoned the name of his least favourite angel. Minutes passed as he waited in the darkness, his patience waning quickly. He was about to curse the God's name when a brilliant golden light filled the room, the flash forcing him to turn his head and close his eyes.
"Harry Potter," Lily stated, ruffling her pale wings as she glided toward the demon. Her eyes swept the room, her lips curving as she became aware of her surroundings. Draco Malfoy, it seemed, was everything she'd known he could be. "You called me," she said, finally turning her attention to the dark-haired Retriever.
Eying the angel with distaste, Harry gave a slight bob of his head, trying to ignore the slow smirk sliding across the redhead's lips. "My favour, I wish to use it now," he muttered, shifting nervously as Lily's grin grew. His wings rasped together, the speckled scales rubbing abrasively against each other.
"Excellent," Lily purred, sliding closer to the demon. She stilled when the Retriever slid a hand around to the small of his back, lifting her hands innocently and retreating a step. "And what would you have of me and my Lord, Potter?"
Expression devoid of any emotion, Harry lifted his chin and made his demand. "I wish you to make Draco Malfoy immortal." He forced himself to remain still as the angel gaped at him in apparent surprise, his teeth clenched around the 'please' that sought to spring to his tongue.
Brows arching in disbelief, Lily stared at the raven-haired demon. "You wish me to immortalize a mortal?" The question escaped her mouth in a scandalized hiss. Her emerald orbs widened as she began to shake her head in denial. "I cannot, Harry. It goes against the Rules of Mortality." Her eyes darted nervously about the chamber; the halo hovering above her fiery locks beginning an audible hum.
"I performed a job for Zeus, Evans, at my expense. I lost my position within Hell! My reputation has been polished beyond defilement! And to top it all off, I look like a pigeon! Now, you will give me exactly what I want," hissed Harry. With a snarl, the Retriever began to stalk back and forth, his hands fisting until his nails bit into his palms.
"You would have me go against the laws of my Lord?" Lily murmured, her narrowed eyes following the raven-haired Retriever's agitated form as he paced back and forth before her. She shifted warily as the demon turned blazing orbs on her, his lips curving back to display delicate fangs in a silent warning. "There are some things I will just not do, Harry Potter, and going against the rules I uphold is one of them."
"You owe me," Harry bit out. He hefted his mottled wings, reminding the angel of what he'd done for the mortal plane and Zeus. His hands balled into fists when Lily began to shake her head, a rumbling growl trickling over his tongue.
Brow furrowing, Lily continued to shake her head. "Choose something else. Something reasonable, and I will see it done." Her orbs widened as the demon sprang toward her, his hands outstretched and his teeth bared. With a soft gasp, she vanished, reappearing on the opposite side of the room. "Such behaviour will get you no where. My Lord and I may be in your debt, but we will not put up with your brutish antics, Potter. Change both your ways and your request and I will see it done. Until then, may Zeus watch over you." Dipping her head, she disappeared in a flash of golden light.
Harry howled in fury. His eyes flashed red and his wings crashed open, scales shimmering dangerously as his magic rose and swirled around him. Lifting his burning eyes to the ceiling, he vowed, "The day Draco Malfoy passes . . . I will tear this plane apart! You and your Lord will rue this day, Lily Evans!" He glared at the roof for several long seconds, his chest heaving and his body vibrating with his anger. Hissing loudly, he swung around and left the shadowed chamber, returning to his place within Draco's bed.
And so there was to be no hope for Draco's continued existence. He would die when the Fates deemed it time . . . and there was absolutely nothing Harry could do about it. The thought was almost enough to bring a tear to the Retriever's eye.
Since demons didn't cry, the dark-haired male chose to enjoy their time together, appreciating every moment he spent in the blond's presence. He returned to Hell only when he had to, remaining until Draco Summoned him back to the mortal plane. But he always came back without fail. And Draco never failed to call him home.
It was a cycle that repeated itself through the decades, the years trickling past in a blur of Summonings. As the time passed, Draco aged. He grew old and frail, his pale golden hair turning snow white. His eyes dimmed and his skin wrinkled, and Harry remained forever young, watching as the only thing he'd ever loved died a slow death.
Eventually, death knocked on Draco Malfoy's door.
Harry had known the blond's time was near. He'd watched the uneven rise of his chest and listened to the irregular beating of his heart. Had felt the wizard slipping farther and farther away from him. He stayed at the blond's bedside as long as he could, one of Draco's cold hands clutched between both of his.
But the tethers that bound him to Hell tightened, reaffirming his need to return to the fiery plane before a Retriever was sent to hunt him down. Yet he was reluctant to leave with Draco drifting ever closer to death. When the risk grew to real and the collar around his neck burned threateningly, he rose gracelessly and leaned over Draco's still form. He brushed a kiss against the blond's cold lips and then buried his face against his neck, inhaling deeply. He dragged the wizard's smell into his lungs like he meant to trap it there. "I love you," he breathed, the words ringing with a finality that scared him. Rising, he stepped away from the bed, his strides slow and measured as he walked into a shadowed corner. He paused in the darkness, glancing over his shoulder one last time before allowing himself to be whisked back to Hell.
Six days later, when he was still within the fiery depths of Hell, he acknowledged the truth. Draco was dead. And he was never going to see him again. That thought was all he needed to wish for death. But demons didn't die - certainly not of broken hearts anyway - they had to be killed.
So, with a light heart and an eager grin, the retired Retriever set out to get himself slain. Unfortunately, there was no one up to the task currently residing in Hell. No matter who he threatened, tortured, or baited, no demon was willing to risk Hades wrath and kill him. Which meant he had to do the deed on his own. After three failed suicide attempts and one major case of third degree burns, he gave up.
He was sprawled on his back in front of the throne room with his glazed orbs focused on the darkened ceiling when Hades and his entourage stumbled across his limp body. He didn't so much as blink when the God nudged him roughly with the toe of his boot. The second, much harder kick, earned nothing more than a soft exhalation.
"Bring me Sirius Black," Hades ordered in disgust as he glared down at the former Retriever. The toe of his boot was tapping impatiently when the minor demon arrived, his pale eyes locked on Harry's inert form. Directing Sirius' attention to Harry with a casual wave of his hand, the God arched a brow and said, "Explain."
"Uh, his mortal died?" Sirius croaked, inching forward and giving Harry a light shove with his bare foot, hoping for a reaction of any sort.
"That's the problem with keeping pets," drawled Hades, smirking as the demons surrounding him teetered. His smirk vanished as he refocused on Harry, staring down at the raven-haired male thoughtfully. "He has done nothing since the mortal's death?"
Sirius shifted nervously, wondering if Hades was aware of Harry's recent activities or if the God was oblivious to the demon's actions. "Ah, no?" The minor demon answered finally, deciding if Hades didn't know what Harry had been up to, he sure as Heaven wasn't going to tell him.
Hades frowned and crossed his arms. "Well, if he's not going to be a productive member of Hell than he can't stay." Even as he made the statement his expression brightened. His furrowed brow smoothed and a malicious smile curved his lips, his icy eyes brightening at some inner thought.
"You're kicking him out?" Sirius demanded, aghast at the very thought of being banished from Hell. He stared at Hades in disbelief, the hair at the nape of his neck rising at the evil expression on the God's face. "But where will he go?" This second question was asked in a bewildered tone and turned Hades glowing orbs in his direction.
"You may return to your duties, Black," Hades said dismissively, his shimmering eyes daring the minor demon to refuse the order. "Harry Potter shall be taken care of." With that, he returned his gaze to Harry, the wicked grin he wore growing as the scheme within his mind began to unfurl.
And so with one last worried look at Harry, Sirius slunk from the corridor, not knowing that that would be the last time he ever saw the raven-haired male.
A gentle tug on his hair drew Harry from slumber. Yawning widely, he snuggled back against the soft bed he lay in, marveling at the way it cradled his body. He tensed suddenly, his wiggling motions halting. Slowly, with great trepidation, he opened his eyes, and then quickly closed them again. Drawing a deep breath, he eased one emerald orb open, taking in his surroundings with mounting dread. Fluffy white clouds, ivory columns streaked with gold and warm beams of sunlight -- and Sweet Hades he was in Heaven. Literally.
He rocketed into a sitting position, nearly leaping off the narrow daybed as a delighted squeal split the air. Slapping his hands over his ears, he gaped in horror at the chubby little cherub hovering in the air before him, its face alight with its joy at his waking. Harry swallowed heavily as he lowered his hands, drawing his wings protectively against his back as the cherub drifted closer.
"Welcome to Heaven, Harry Potter!" The small white winged cherub shrilled, fluttering around the dark-haired male's head happily. He giggled at the horrified look on Harry's face, fluttering forward to pat the demon's cheek consolingly. "I hope you enjoy your stay with us!" With one final pat, he drifted cheerfully from the room, humming softly as he went.
Emerald orbs following the cherub's weaving path, Harry began to shiver uncontrollably. He was in Heaven. Heaven was where the really bad demons went, the ones with morals and ethics who couldn't kill thoughtlessly. But he was a good demon. Heaven, he'd participated in more massacres than he had fingers to count them on. And yet here he was in every demon's worst dream.
"Greetings, Harry Potter."
The sound of that voice had Harry growling softly, his glowing orbs rising to where Lily Evans stood framed between two tall columns. He rolled off the daybed liquidly, his hands fisted as he stalked toward the angel. "Lily Evans," he snarled, thrusting his wings open with a fierce crack, "Just the angel I wanted to see."
Lily smiled and reached back over her shoulder, sliding a rapier like sword from the sheath she wore upon her back. "Do give me the pleasure of slaying you, Potter," she purred, brandishing the weapon before her. Her smile died as Harry's forward stalk halted, his eyes on the blade she held lightly within her grasp. Heaving a disgusted sigh, she lifted the weapon so its length lay unthreateningly across her chest, its tip resting just beneath her left ear. "Your presence here is neither mine nor my Lord's doing. You were sent, rather, with a pretty pink bow tied round your neck and a note from Hades clutched within your hand. You, Harry Potter, were given as a gift to Zeus."
Harry stood frozen, staring at Lily in dawning comprehension. His left hand rose unwillingly to touch his throat, his brow furrowing when he found it bare of both bow and collar. "A gift?" He rasped, his hand falling back to his side.
"A present, if you prefer." Lily said, sliding the small rapier away sadly. She wandered further into the chamber, her feet silent upon the shining almost opaque marble floor. Circling the room lazily, she folded her hands behind her back and furled her wings, her emerald orbs watching the former Retriever carefully. "The removal of the collar was a homecoming present from Zeus. Your body has been stabilized, the Liquid Iron drawn from your bloodstream and internal organs. Zeus is having a weapon crafted for you from the metal. I believe it will be a broadsword," she finished dryly.
"Homecoming?" Harry hissed, arching his wings up over his head. Anything else he would have said was forgotten as he eyed the massive appendages apprehensively, taking in their new appearance with emeralds that shimmered dangerously. His scales were white. Snow white. As white as the breast of a dove. A dismayed whimper slid from between his parted lips. He'd been converted.
Lily rolled her eyes as at the announcement, turning to glare at James from the opposite side of the chamber. "You're late," she barked, striding toward the other angel with her hands on her hips. "I have business to take care of and you're off screwing around like usual."
"I got distracted," James replied simply, turning his attention to Harry. The smile he wore turned into a grimace as he stared at the dark-haired male. Raising a hand, he gestured at the top of his head, his fingers wiggling. "You have a . . ."
"Halo?" Harry whispered in horror.
"No, flowers. Damn cherubs put them everywhere. You have to be careful you don't stay in the same place too long or they'll get you," James said knowledgeably. Frowning, he reached up and quickly patted his own head, a triumphant smile curving his lips when he found the dark locks free of flowers.
Shaking her head, Lily breezed past her counterpart; her wing lightly brushing his as she gracefully exited the room. "You're in charge of Harry, James. Give him the tour and introduce him to everyone. He doesn't leave your side. Not for any reason." The last was said forcefully, a warning to Harry that he wasn't to try anything smart or stupid.
"Yes!" James said in an overly loud voice. "I don't have to go to Harp lessons!"
Halting, Lily whirled around, pinning James with a glare. "Yes, you do. Alyssia is expecting you both. She is to inform me should the pair of you fail to appear." Giving James one final hard eyed stare, the redhead stalked from the room, her parting comment directed at Harry. "Do try and be a good little angel, Potter, it's just much easier on everyone that way."
"Bummer," James mumbled, turning his pale eyes back to the other male. "You're about to receive your first lesson in why being an angel sucks, Harry." Sighing unhappily, he led the retriever-turned angel from the room, his shoulders slumped and his feet dragging.
Glaring at the small golden harp James thrust into his hands, Harry allowed himself to be pushed into a chair near the front of the class. His narrowed orbs stayed locked on the gleaming instrument, his lips curling back as angels began to file into the chamber and take their seats. He was dimly aware of the seat next to his being taken, but he ignored the individual who'd been stupid enough to sit within arms reach of him. Instead, he balled his hands into fists and clenched his jaw, his eyes sparking dangerously as a perky little angel with snow-white wings and long blonde hair merrily clapped her hands together, bringing silence to the group.
"Hello Class!" The blonde called cheerfully, fluttering her wings as she surveyed the assembled angels. "I'd like to welcome you all to Harp Lessons for Beginners and remind everyone that they are responsible for the happiness of their classmates."
Hades' horns, he was going to be sick. Harry swallowed heavily and slid deeper into his chair, his nails carving grooves into the delicate wood of the harp he clutched. "I'm going to kill you," he informed James in a whisper. The teacher's admonishing tut had him baring fangs and snarling savagely, silently taking pleasure in her horrified look. He was about to repeat his performance when something brushed his wing, the light caress causing him to stiffen and tighten his grip on his harp. Shooting James a threatening glare, he arched his wings higher, ignoring the mumbles of displeasure his movements drew from the row seated behind him. "I'm going to strangle you with your halo."
"You should really pay attention," James replied, not appearing the least bit perturbed by Harry's threats. "They make you take this class until you pass. And trust me, it doesn't get any more exciting the six-hundred-twenty-fifth time through."
Opening his mouth to respond, Harry stilled, his teeth coming together with a clack as something touched the inside of his left wing. The wood of the harp creaked warningly in his grasp, his eyes beginning to burn a deadly shade of green. He drew a deep breath and almost choked, his entire body tensing as a familiar smell tickled his senses. Brow furrowing in bewilderment, he parted his lips and inhaled again, drawing the air over his tongue as he frantically attempted to recover that beloved scent. His concentration was broken by a light bump from behind. Between his palms, the harp snapped, sending slivers of golden wood into the air.
Uttering a roar of fury, he rocketed to his feet and whirled around, knocking both James and the angel who'd been dumb enough to sit beside him to the ground. His hands were already reaching for the individual's neck when his mind registered what he was seeing. Unable to stop himself, he slammed into the angel, sending both of them to the floor in a tangle of wings and arms. Face buried in pale hair, he inhaled slowly, his heart clenching as his lungs were filled with that familiar smell. Slowly, he pushed himself to his hands, his eyes locked with the orbs of the angel pinned beneath him.
"Hello, Harry." Draco Malfoy breathed, his fingers tangling in the former demon's raven locks. His eyes shimmered like liquid iron, his lips drawing up at the corners as Harry continued to gap at him in surprise. A soft laugh fell from his lips as Harry opened his mouth and then closed it again, seemingly unable to compose a coherent thought.
Drawing a deep breath and holding it, Harry gently laid a hand against Draco's cheek, his eyes widening as the blond turned his chin to lay a light kiss against his inner wrist. "How?" He managed in a croak, pretending his voice hadn't quivered like that of a mortal after seeing his first demon.
"He died," James spat, his voice slightly muffled by the hand he had clamped over his bleeding nose. "And thus, the Rules of Mortality were no longer applicable."
Blinking in understanding, Harry returned his gaze to Draco's, a grin slowly curving his lips. "You're immortal," he said in amazement.
Nodding, Draco slid his hands up to the nape of Harry's neck, applying enough pressure to force the dark-haired male's face closer to his. When their mouths were millimeters apart, he stopped, his eyes dancing evilly. "Just think of the hell we'll raise," he murmured promisingly before closing the short distance.
It was at that moment that Harry decided he might actually be able to live in Heaven. At least for a little while. Probably. Maybe. Well, as long as he had Draco anyway.
- The End -
A/n: The end. Can you freakin' believe it? I sure as Heaven can't. Anyway, thank you everyone for the wonderful reviews and I hope everybody enjoyed this little voyage through Hell. It may have taken a long time but we're finally done. This was honestly the most difficult story I've ever written. Heck, the epilogue alone was nerve racking. I realize this may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but change is good, for the most part. And, once again, thank you.