Severus kept his wand in his hand as he hurried into Harry's room. He went to the bed and sat down.
"Harry! Wake up!" He shook the young man's shoulder urgently.
Harry jerked awake, sitting up quickly before reeling with dizziness. "Severus?"
He noted the wand in Severus's hand and he looked up into the grim face. "What is it?"
"People are coming. People who believe that you are too strong." Severus gave him a moment to process that before adding, "I hope that you are strong enough to bury the magic deep inside. If they can't sense it, or scan it, they may leave you alone." He had no idea where that thought had come from, only that it had suddenly came into his mind that if Harry was powerful enough to do the things he had done, he could surely do this.
Harry shook his head. "I didn't even know I could do stuff like taking those charms away. I was just upset that they were on you all. I don't know how I did it!" The green eyes were wild with alarm and he clutched at Severus' sleeve.
Severus turned to sit directly in front of him, gripping his shoulders firmly. "Calm yourself." He shook his head when Harry would speak again and gently squeezed the shoulders in his hands. "Sh-sh-sh. Just calm yourself. You can do this."
Working on instinct alone, Severus pulled Harry to him and held his head against his chest. "Listen to my heartbeat and focus on it." He forced himself to a calm he did not feel so he could pass it on to Harry. Harry's arms had gone around his waist, now gripping the back of his shirt tightly.
Harry focused on the heart beat under his ear, closing his eyes. He slowed his breathing, making himself take slow measured inhalations. He knew that Severus was extremely anxious about this, in spite of how he outwardly tried to present a calm façade. He had just recently learned that this was his life mate, his bonded. They had not gone beyond the simple act of just being with one another, sharing brief kisses, learning all over what it meant to have a close connection.
Harry could sense how Severus was forcing himself to show a quiet calm while underneath he was readying himself to fight for Harry. This gave Harry an added incentive to do what Severus had bid. He couldn't let his mate down. He couldn't let these friends down. They had stood beside him all this time, had followed him to Lucretia's chateau, had sworn to keep him from turning dark. He had to do the rest. He had to find the inner strength to do what Severus said… hide the magic from those who were coming. If these people were determined to destroy him, what would stop them from destroying his friends? Maybe they would think they had to die as well, for being witness to it…
He sat up and away from Severus, reluctantly leaving the warmth of the embrace. He looked into the dark eyes of his mate and said quietly, "Go back outside. I'll be ready."
Severus caressed his cheek, smoothing his thumb across it again as he leaned in and claimed a fierce kiss. "Whatever happens… I will be right here beside you…"
"I know." He grabbed Severus's hand as it left his cheek and squeezed. "After this is over… can we go home?"
Severus kissed him again and then stood up. "We will go wherever you want, love." Another hard hug and he was back out the door to stand with the others in wait.
The tension was palpable as the wait grew from minutes into hours. Severus would have been in a high rage at Albus for the long interval, except that it meant more time for Harry to prepare himself. Several times he had to stop himself from going back inside. He could sense the tension in Harry through their bond as he struggled to find a way to do what he needed to do.
When the link of the bond was suddenly gone, he paled and ran to the room. Harry sat on the edge of the bed. He was pale and sweating. At the window, Caruso was taking flight. Severus was astonished to see Fawkes exit right behind him. They had not known that Fawkes had even come. When Severus entered the room, Harry stood up. Green eyes were dulled by stress as he gazed up at Severus. He held out a shaking hand and Severus grasped it firmly.
They walked outside to the sound of multiple apparations. Albus stood in the center front of a group of veiled Unspeakables. They held their wands on him, and most of them moved their wands to train them on Harry as soon as they saw him approaching.
No one spoke for a long time. Overhead, Caruso and Fawkes let out loud trills before soaring away over the hills.
The lead Unspeakable finally stepped forward. By the voice, all the men except Harry and Shaiming knew this was the woman that they had dealt with before.
"Harry Potter. We are here to give final determination of your status."
Harry let go of Severus's hand and stepped forward one step. "Is that your way of saying you're here to execute me?"
The Unspeakable started to step back and then stood firm. "Execution is a term used for prisoners."
"I am a prisoner. I have been since… I'm not sure really… only it seems that I've always been constrained by others. My memories were stolen, but these few friends have told me some of my life's events."
"But you do know that you were the one to destroy Voldemort?"
Harry nodded. "Yes. They explained that to me. I don't fully understand it, but I believe it."
"And you know that you were the one to destroy Lucretia Dupree," she added.
A pained expression crossed Harry's face and he nodded. "She pretended to be my mother. She wanted me to be her weapon."
The head under the veil cocked to the side. "You are a weapon of destruction Harry Potter. Perhaps not by your own choosing, but you are extremely powerful. The spells you have been taught are the darkest of dark."
Harry lowered his gaze and they saw a shiver go through him before he straightened again. "I don't feel dark. I don't think I'm evil like Voldemort or Lucretia."
"But the potential is undeniable. The possibility that you have been twisted into the next Dark Lord is too great for us to allow you to be free."
"Then you plan to imprison me? Or will you kill me?" he asked, a tremor in the quiet voice. Severus took a step towards him and stopped at the advance of the other Unspeakables.
The woman was silent for a moment before answering. "We need to examine you. We must determine the extent of the threat before the final determination can be made."
"Alright." Harry moved up two steps and Severus had to force himself not to follow and stand right beside him.
The woman still had her head cocked, as if observing Harry curiously, wondering at his compliance.
"Where is your wand?" she asked first of all.
"I don't know. The last I heard, it may have been burned in the chateau when you destroyed it. I don't have one now."
"How are you doing magic?"
Harry shrugged with a small frown. "I haven't had to do any here. I haven't needed a wand. Everything is provided."
"Are you saying that you haven't performed any spells at all?" Her voice was incredulous.
"I told you, I haven't had to…I haven't even thought about it. My friends are taking care of me. I go to some of the classes here and they don't seem to do much spellwork."
She turned and faced Shaiming. "Is this true? Your classes don't do spellwork?"
He bowed to her and spoke softly, "Our ways are different from your western ways. We focus on the inner magic of a person, not so much what they do outwardly."
"Have you observed Mr. Potter's 'inner magic'?"
"Harry is still healing from all he has endured. But it is the opinion of our healers and myself that his core has been irreparably changed by his experiences."
Harry and Severus both gave inward starts at that. Would Shaiming support Harry or somehow give him away? Or was he deliberately steering the Unspeakable towards different view of the situation?
"Explain, please," the Unspeakable ordered.
"I do not know Harry from before, but everyone has heard his story. He faced the Dark Lord many times and received many injuries, the last of which was almost fatal. This alone should have been enough to crack his magical core in two. Then he was faced with a madwoman who wanted to mold him into her own weapon of destruction. She brainwashed him, removed most of his memories, trained him in dark magic."
Severus had to step forward then, had to interrupt Shaiming before he caused them to kill Harry where he stood. The other Unspeakables had him surrounded immediately and he found himself silenced and frozen in place.
Shaiming looked at him sadly. "Forgive me my friend, but you must face those facts. Your mate was hurt by that evil woman, altered by her in ways that will impact you both." He turned back to the woman and finished. "They do not want to face that Harry's magic is so weak that he will likely never be more than low level wizard."
The woman beneath the veil drew herself up and argued sharply, "That is impossible. We felt the pull of his magic all the way to England when he removed the tracking spells."
Shaiming raised his eyebrows and held out his hands. "Something did happen here several hours ago. These men," he indicated Severus, Ron, and Draco, "Were incapacitated for a time by some surge through their bodies. They recovered quickly, though." He looked at the Unspeakable curiously. "You say that the tracking charms you placed on them were removed? It was my understanding that they were permanent."
"That is precisely why we are here. Mr. Potter removed them and no one should have been able to do that."
Shaiming smiled benignly. "I'm afraid your assumptions must be mistaken. Our Harry could no more have removed those charms than he could summon a stone to his hand. It is an impossibility."
The Unspeakable turned back to Harry. "We will judge that for ourselves."
Harry raised his arms out straight to his sides, his face openly inviting her examination. Severus felt his gut clench. Foolish boy! What if veritaserum is part if the examination?
The Unspeakable began a slow methodical sweep of her wand, first over Harry's hands, moving to his arms, and then over the rest of his body. She spent long moments over his torso. A carefully cast spell caused a mirror image of Harry to appear, a shadowy form next to him. On the form there were lines of silver and gold, like veins and arteries, running throughout his body. At the center there was a dully glowing red orb, pulsing in time to Harry's heart. His magical core.
Severus had heard of this ability to see within a wizard, but he had thought it was reserved for the healers at St. Mungo's for use with the seriously injured. He could not help but wonder how the Unspeakable was interpreting it. Were the lines too defined? Was the pulsing orb the wrong color, too bright, too large? What did it mean? Harry simply stood there, quiet and still, his head bowed to his chest, arms outstretched in submission.
After what seemed an eternity, the Unspeakable waved away the image. Her veiled face came close to Harry's and they could see that she was peering intently into his eyes.
At last she turned back to face the rest of them. A subtle motion had Severus released from being frozen in place and he strode to Harry, pulling him into an embrace as he scowled at the Unspeakable. Harry leaned into him, a sheen of perspiration glazing his face.
The Unspeakable moved into a circle of the others with her and they conversed behind a silencing field.
Severus made eye-contact with Shaiming, Draco, Ron, and Albus. In his arms, Harry shivered and grew still, as if he was trying not to shake.
When the Unspeakables turned to face them all, Severus tightened his hold on Harry and felt the younger man twist his fingers into the fabric of his shirt.
"Our examination of Harry Potter is inconclusive at this time. His core is drained to a very weakened state, showing signs of fracture, but we are not reassured that it will not return in greater strength and force. Therefore, we will demand that Harry Potter submit to regular examinations until we are assured that he is not a threat. In the event that he regains his strength, the exams will increase in frequency until we are assured that he will not grow beyond what we deem safe.
In the matter of the tracking charms being inactivated, we cannot determine the cause. It is unlikely that they would spontaneously fail, but we cannot detect any magic that would account for them being inactivated by Harry Potter. Therefore, at this time, we will allow him to have the freedom of traveling into and out of Great Britain. His status as a war hero and the destroyer of the Dark Lord Voldemort and Lucretia Dupree will be rewarded appropriately by the Ministry of Magic.
Likewise, you are all free to travel to and from Great Britain, without reservation."
Draco and Ron were heard muttering about their 'generosity' and Severus snarled at the wording of the Unspeakable's declaration.
The Unspeakable cast a long glance back at Harry as he stood wavering beside Severus. In a softer voice, she said, "I do hope that Merlin will grace you with peace. It has not been a pleasure to hold you in such disregard. We are charged with the welfare of our world, and we take that very seriously."
They moved into a tight ring as she held out a sphere portkey. "Goodbye Harry Potter… for now." They blinked away silently.
Severus gripped Harry tighter as he began to fall, bearing him gently to the ground where he held him up against his chest.
Overhead, Caruso gave a loud trill that brought Harry's head up and he weakly held up his hand. The black phoenix landed lightly at Harry's side and placed his head against Harry's hand.
Another loud trill from overhead and they all looked up again to see Fawkes, in all his brilliant plumage, soaring. He circled once and then landed on the other side of Harry, facing Caruso. The two birds eyed each other with cocked heads and there was a softly trilled 'conversation' between them.
In amazement, the men gathered around as the two birds bent their heads over Harry's face. Tears, large and iridescent, gathered on the ends of their beaks and then dropped into Harry's open mouth. Harry swallowed and opened for more, and again a half dozen times, until the two phoenixes's stepped back and took off for the air again.
The men on the ground watched as the birds circled each other, flew in tandem side-by-side and even intertwined their legs and wings in a spectacular dive before flying off over the hills, wing-tips touching.
When their attention came back to Harry, Severus was alarmed that his eyes were rolled back in his head and a series of convulsions had begun to wrack his body. He gathered him up tightly and rocked him gently, hoping that the phoenix familiars had known what they were doing. His eyes met Albus's and he saw the same uncertainty there.
The convulsions grew stronger until Severus was forced to lay Harry down on his side and hold him against the ground to protect him. He felt a surge of magic in the body he held tightly and it flashed over into him like the shock of stunning spell. The surge rolled into him again and again until his own body was numb with it. With his head against Harry's, he could hear the rambled murmurings from Harry's lips and he recognized some of the words as they related to memories Harry had been stripped of. He realized that the combined phoenix tears were working to restore Harry's memories as well as his magical core.
When he glanced up at the other men he noted that they had moved back while still remaining fixed on them. Another surge of magic and he saw that it moved not only across him but outward to the surrounding area as well. The grass and the trees literally shook with it and the men had to stretch out their arms to keep their balance on the shifting earth. Beyond them he heard the calls of the apprentices and a few of them ran into his field of vision to see what was at the center of the disturbance.
Albus called out, "Severus, his magic is getting stronger! The wash is getting more intense! Take his hands and hold them into the ground!"
Severus struggled to get his own body positioned so that he was over Harry and could grasp both his hands in his own. With his fingers laced into Harry's, he grabbed hold of the grass beneath them. On the next shuddering convulsion, Harry's fingers closed in a vise-like grip on both Severus and the earth beneath the grass.
The shuddering of the ground had been nothing compared to the next shockwaves to hit. A fissure appeared in the ground and over at the stream water leaped into the air as if it was stirred with the force of magic roaring all around.
The quiet when all movement ceased was eerie in its completeness. It took Severus several moments to realize that Harry had grown still beneath him and he quickly sat up, turning him over. Green eyes opened and peered up at him intently.
Harry placed a hand up to his cheek. "Severus?"
Severus returned the action. "My Harry…" and then he was silenced as Harry pulled him down into a kiss. He kissed Severus like a drowning man needing air and Severus returned it with equal enthusiasm.
The clearing of several throats broke them apart and while Severus snarled at the interruption, Harry smiled shyly. Hands reached down to help them both stand. Harry looked at Ron and immediately pulled him into a fierce hug. Draco was astounded to be treated the same way, as Harry worked his way around the circle of men. He looked at them all, eyes clear and bright.
"Thank you all… you've stood by me, even when it was so dangerous to do so. I understand now what was at stake. Hermione…Ginny… you left them there so you could be here, so you wouldn't endanger them."
"We would've figured out something, mate," Ron said quickly. "We wanted you to be safe as well, not just our families."
"Ron, I know what the Unspeakables would've done. They had watch on everyone close back home, so they would know it if one of you showed up. They would've used them as leverage if the opportunity looked good."
Albus asked, "How do you know that?"
"I saw it in her mind while she was scanning me."
Severus looked startled. "You would've been caught using legilimency—"
"No. Caruso and Fawkes helped me shield it from them. They took the bulk of my magic while I was still back in our room. I admit, I wasn't sure what they were doing, only that I trusted them both when I asked them what I was going to do. They had both come in through the window and were on either side of me. I don't remember what they did exactly… only that the magic felt drained by the time I walked out here."
"That's one memory loss that seems worthwhile," Draco commented. "What about the rest of your memories? You seem more aware of who we all are."
"I think I remember everything. At least it seems I do." He turned troubled eyes at Severus and the older man couldn't help pulling him into another embrace. He did not think he would ever be able to get enough of Harry in his arms to make up for the time they had been apart.
"Right now you need rest. Let's go back inside where Shaiming and I can do our own examination and determine the state of your core."
He started to lead harry away when Ron and Draco stepped forward, stopping them. Ron looked at Draco briefly before saying apologetically, "We think we'll head back home, if it's alright with you, mate. I miss 'Mione and the babes…"
"A certain redhead may think I've forgotten about her," Draco added. "I need to correct her misunderstanding."
Harry looked at them both and smiled tiredly. "Yeah, you should probably do that. I think you'll be safe enough from the Unspeakables."
He leaned on Severus as they continued back into the house. Albus stayed outside long enough to conjure a portkey for the two of them. Then he, too, went inside.
The three older wizards performed their scans silently over Harry after he laid down on the bed. He was asleep before they were finished, turning onto his side and tucking his folded hands under his cheek. Albus and Shaiming retreated back outside and left Severus sitting on the bed.
Once the others were gone, Severus lay down behind Harry and gently tugged him back into an embrace against his chest. Harry murmured in his sleep and put his own arms over the arms that surrounded him.
Severus was soon asleep with his face pressed into the back of Harry's head, a sigh of relief on his lips.
Albus and Shaiming sat in the gathering dusk in silence, each lost in the thoughts about what they had discovered on the scans and what it would mean for the future of the couple inside.
"It will not be easy for them."
"No. But it has never been easy for either one of them. They will find a way."
"Will they remain safe?"
"I have every confidence that Harry will see to it that they do. And Severus is not likely to let his guard down where Harry's safety is concerned."
After another long silence, Shaiming asked the most important question of all… "What if he loses control of it?"
A/N: That's it for now. I apologize for the long time before the actual completion of this fic. I had several scenarios running through my mind for the ending and this is the one I chose, partly because it seemed best to end it here, and partly because it has dragged out for so long. I do have another brief follow-up that I may post later on. If I had added it here it would have been totally out of place and an obvious add on. By posting it separately, it will be better, I believe.
In addition, I apologize for the last two chapters not being beta'd. Because I had been out of touch with logicalquirk, I was embarrassed to ask for her help for this last part. I take full responsibility for any goofs and HP canon misspellings that are not caught by spellcheck!
As always, all this has been for fun and never for profit. All original characters are the property of the ever amazing JK Rowling and companies.