Price to be Paid
A/N: Last chapter of this one. Sorry for the long wait for this but I hope it'll be worth it for you all. Epilogue is at the end of this chapter, just a small one, and I don't plan on any sequel and I don't think it's necessary.
Warning; Lots of cuddling and teary moments. Sorry if you're a manly man and that offends you.
Chapter 9; Ascension
Harry raised his head as he heard somebody approaching across the garden. He was lounging outside in just shorts soaking up some sunlight and taking it easy while Joshua, Reid, Tyler and Caleb took Phillip and Maxwell out for a bicycle ride that they had been promising for days but Harry had opted out because he'd had trouble sleeping the night before since Maxwell had had a bad dream and spent most of the night kicking and elbowing Harry in his sleep.
So when the topic had come up Harry had chosen to stay with Sarah and relax for a bit and Lip and Max had only complained a little before the chance to use their bikes distracted them completely. Harry knew he'd have to make it up to them later but he'd needed the nap.
Sarah was sunbathing on the lounger next to him and didn't stir from her rest as Pogue appeared wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He'd chosen to stay as well and he rarely ever went far from the manor just in case Kate needed him. Pogue smiled at him and looked around for somewhere to sit but Harry and Sarah had only pulled out the two loungers. Harry sat up and moved to stand to let Pogue relax but Pogue stopped him with a shake of his head before eyeing up the lounger. It wasn't a weak plastic affair and would take the weight of both of them and Harry shifted down to the foot so Pogue could sit down.
Pogue pulled his t-shirt over his head and Harry blushed when Pogue caught him looking at his well-muscled chest, stomach and arms. Pogue smirked and laid back out before shuffling sideways right against one edge of the chair and then raised his left arm up in an offer. Harry grinned at the loving offer and slipped up to lay at Pogue's side. Pogue's left arm came down to stroke his own left side and then settled on his waist and Harry set his head down on Pogue's big chest with a content sigh. He hadn't cuddled with Pogue, Caleb or Tyler since that night up in the mountains when Bellatrix Lestrange had appeared to torture him.
"You really like cuddling with Caleb and I don't you?" Pogue chuckled quietly so as not to wake Sarah. Harry nodded before looking up at Pogue and kissing him on the cheek getting a warm smile of acceptance from him. "We're bigger and stronger than Reid and Tyler I suppose."
"You are." Harry nodded. "Reid misses cuddling with both of you. He won't say it but I know he does."
"He should say." Pogue nodded before reaching up with his right hand to card through Harry's hair. "What about you?"
"I don't like sleeping alone anymore." Harry told Pogue. "I feel scared without someone else there to remind me about all of you."
"Well Caleb has Sarah to cuddle at night." Pogue laughed. "Maybe Tyler's getting lonely."
"Reid knows you're all there for him. He never doubts it." Harry sighed. "So he doesn't need to always hug you and hear it from you."
"But you do?" Pogue asked but stopped Harry from lifting his head to look up at him. Harry relaxed with his head on Pogue's chest and listened to the steady and rather comforting thump of his heart.
"Sometimes." Harry sighed. "I doubt it and then you do something like this."
"Cuddle half naked with you?" Pogue laughed.
"Yeah." Harry nodded. "You don't care that I'm gay and cuddled up like this. You don't care that you haven't known me as long as Reid, Tyler and Caleb. All four of you have a knack for knowing just when I need a hug and a reminder. Just normally Reid beats you to it."
"Well next time he beats me to it I'll remember to hug you both regardless." Pogue laughed.
"Pogue?" Harry asked knowing he couldn't ask with Reid around or he'd embarrass his boyfriend.
"Yeah?" Pogue's smile was obvious in his tone.
"Could you spend the night with Reid?" Harry asked.
"You think he's bored of cuddling with you?" Pogue asked in amusement.
"No." Harry sighed. "But cuddling with me means something else than cuddling with you."
"I'm the protective big brother and you're the boyfriend." Pogue nodded against Harry's head. "You want him to let go and just cuddle up to someone." Harry nodded. "You're not planning on sleeping somewhere else are you?"
"Nah." Harry shook his head. "As long as I can cuddle too."
Pogue laughed and wrapped his arms around Harry, pulling him closer and half onto his chest so his face was buried in his neck. Harry shut his eye and relaxed his body, letting Pogue's warmth flow through him along with his steady breathing and heart rate.
Harry and Reid hadn't turned off the light for longer than a few minutes when the door opened and they both lifted their head. Reid tightened his arms around Harry in response to the sight of Pogue even as Harry grinned happily. He hadn't really thought much about his chat with Pogue that morning. Pogue circled the bed even as Tyler shut the door again and in the dark there was rather a lot of fumbling about to fit four boys on the bed comfortably. Reid was still at Harry's side but Reid hadn't argued when Pogue laid down on his side of the bed and pulled the his little brother up against his side until Reid was mimicking Harry's position from that morning in the sun.
Harry grinned down at them in the darkness before laying on his back. Tyler prodded at him to prompt him and Harry rolled away from him and spooned behind his boyfriend and was only half surprised when Tyler wrapped his arms around his waist from behind and snuggled up to him. "Hey Tyler." Harry muttered and got a chuckle from Reid at the proof of what Tyler was doing.
"Hey Pogue." Reid laughed and cuddled his much bigger brother.
"Poor Caleb." Tyler laughed. "Stuck with a girl."
That made all of them snigger before Tyler sighed out again. "I miss girls." Harry couldn't stop the choked laugh that escaped him and they all laughed at Tyler's put-upon misery.
"There are always plenty of mothers around here trying to set young men up with their daughters." Harry smirked against Reid's neck. "I'm sure some of them would jump at the idea of an unattached hottie like you."
"Hottie?" Tyler frowned.
"He's hot, right babe?" Harry asked Reid.
"Not sure…" Reid shrugged. "Pogue? Is Tyler hot?"
"Yes Tyler." Pogue sniggered. "You're a hottie."
"Oh good." Tyler laughed and ducked his head back into one of the pillow. "But I still need my beauty sleep."
"Weekend tomorrow." Reid warned and both Pogue and Tyler turned a little to look in his direction. Harry sniggered. "That means we get woken up by Lip and Max at the crack of dawn for cartoons."
"He loves it really." Harry laughed and kissed his boyfriend lovingly on the neck before settling down to sleep along with the others.
Eight days later
Things had settled into a calm around the Connor Mansion over the weeks since they'd all arrived. Now that the summer holidays were upon them Max and Lip were a more or less permanent addition to the group because they refused to be far from Josh and Harry. Normally Josh and Harry would be making plans and still would have with Reid, Tyler, Pogue and Caleb and even Sarah but there was something else hanging over them all, especially the three youngest Warlocks who would very soon be reaching their eighteenth birthdays during July and August. The Covenant were a large presence over the time they'd been there and Keegan was frequently holding fancy dinners and events at the mansion as talk spread about the three Warlocks soon to Ascend. It was rare for so many Warlocks to Ascend in such a short amount of time and the four 'lost' Warlocks from Ipswich had already been big on the rumour mill before word got out that Harry had become friends with them.
Then it had hit big that Harry and Reid had started a relationship with each other and were refusing to go along with tradition on the idea. There had been outrage at that until word got out, probably from Geoffrey and Joshua, that Reid's father had almost beaten Reid to death for it. That was something the Covenant wouldn't tolerate and the man's businesses had grinded themselves into the ground without his Covenant contacts.
Then the truth became known about Bellatrix Lestrange, a psychopathic Witch from Europe, attacking them in Ipswich and that Harry and his new friends had gone to the Connor Mansion for safety until Reid, Harry and then Tyler ascended and could truly protect themselves.
People were counting the days until Reid ascended and now that it was the twelve of July they were all getting nervous. Reid had almost wanted to stay in bed all day until just before five-thirteen in the afternoon when he'd ascend but in the end he'd pulled himself out of bed, showered with Harry and then dragged his boyfriend into the room that Pogue and Tyler shared and simply curled up with Pogue. Harry had smiled down at the sight before squeezing onto the bed behind his boyfriend.
There wasn't anything really formal as far as the Covenant were concerned on the day before they ascend but there would be a ball and a dinner scheduled after Reid recovered in his honour that Reid was dreading. Now they were standing on the back porch just before five PM as Sarah fussed over Reid. Joshua stood with an arm around Harry's waist but neither he, nor Sarah, could come any further with them. It wasn't tradition since Harry would have done anything to have Joshua nearby when he Ascended in just over two weeks but it wasn't safe for anyone but a Warlock to be anywhere near them when they Ascended.
"You'll do great." Josh told Reid as Sarah gave him a final kiss on the cheek and went with Marigold back into the house. Josh gave Reid a quick hug. "Don't let Harry fuss too much okay?"
"Hey!" Harry complained.
Reid smiled at Josh who gave Harry a quick hug before chasing off after the others back into the house. Nobody would be getting too distracted until all of this was over but they'd all be sitting together and with Max, Lip and the girls to keep them calm. Ascensions were never subtle.
"This way." Harry announced, he'd been there before with Josh and Geoffrey. He tucked his arm around a nervous and shaking Reid, feeling the unnatural heat coming off of his boyfriend in preparation for his Ascension. He led Reid, Tyler, Pogue and Caleb down through the garden on a gravel path and then took a less used path into the huge woods and into the dark of the canopy. It was a good ten minute walk but they had plenty of time and eventually they came to a large stone building tucked away inside the forest. It had a massive domed roof and as Harry led them inside they realised that was mostly all it was. A large circular stone dome. A second level walkway ringed the room between the walls and the pillars that held up the domed ceiling but left a twenty metre wide arena in the middle on the ground floor.
"This is the place the Connor family have Ascended for generations." Harry told them as they walked into the middle and looked up at the five metre opening in the ceiling that had allowed the inside of the building to weather almost as much as the outside. "Geoffrey was the last to use it during his Ascension and only Keegan was there for it."
"You've got all of us." Caleb told an obviously nervous Reid.
"You'll do fine, Reid." Pogue assured him, wrapping him up in a hug. "You saw me go through it and that was fine."
"You looked like you were being electrocuted." Reid told Pogue with a desperate look. "It was horrible."
"Yeah it hurts." Caleb nodded. "But it'll be over with in only a few minutes."
"And think of it this way, you haven't got a psycho-killer after you when you Ascend." Tyler deadpanned getting a shocked laugh from Harry, Reid and Pogue even as Caleb glared at him but his lips twitched in amusement regardless.
Harry checked his watch, they only had a few minutes left. He tucked himself up against his boyfriend before kissing him firmly, ignoring Pogue's groan of mock-disgust. "You'll do great and I'll be just upstairs watching over you with Tyler, Pogue and Caleb."
"Once it's over you'll come check on me?" Reid asked as Harry pulled back.
"We'll all come check on you." Tyler nodded before hugging his brother. Pogue and then Caleb did the same before Reid nodded resolutely and stepped back into the dead centre of the room. The others backed up before turning to find the stairs up to the second level and then moved across it to look down on Reid.
Reid was shaking a little but he sighed in relief when the four of them came back into view but he was soon biting at his fingernails again as he fidgeted. Harry checked the time again, just a single minute to go. He dropped his hand to his side and stuffed his hands into his pockets only to yank them back out and check the time again.
Caleb huffed and grabbed him. He squeaked a little in surprise as he was tugged back into Caleb's broad chest. Caleb leaned his side against one of the pillars and wrapped his arms around Harry and set his head onto his shoulder. Harry sighed in relief at the support and relaxed a little. He turned to look at Tyler who was standing with his hands clutching the stone banister but as he watched Pogue came up behind him and loosely wrapped his arms around his waist and hugged him back against him. Supporting each other as always.
Harry's head joined the others in looking up when a rumble of thunder shook the building. They only had a few seconds to go and this was exactly what had happened to Pogue, except he'd been standing out in the open behind Caleb's mansion. Lightning flashed and the boom that followed rattled the floor under them. Harry knew that Max and Lip would be panicking now and searching out their older brothers' laps. They hated lightning storms and everyone in this half of the state would be looking out at the sudden storm and all the Covenant would be raising a glass knowing Reid was Ascending.
Lightning struck the edge of the circle and for a moment Harry didn't know what was happening. It seemed to remain there for too long before, perhaps only a half second later, it split into five, bounced down the ceiling and pillars around the centre of the room. Reid braced himself and Harry whimpered before he could stop himself. The lightning leapt from the pillars and hit Reid from every direction. It lingered, lifting Reid two feet off the ground as Reid screamed in pain as his body went rigid.
Harry felt his legs crumble as he watched his boyfriend suffer through so much pain and as much as Caleb acted calm and confident he could feel Caleb's arms shaking and his chest heaving. Reid screamed as the lightning channelled into him for a good few minutes before the lightning vanished and Reid crumbled to the floor like a puppet that had just had its strings cut. Caleb's legs gave out with a shocked gasp and Harry turned to catch his weight and held him as the big brother of the group gathered himself. Pogue jumped to help Harry with Caleb's weight but Caleb held onto Harry, burying his face and cried into Harry's shoulder.
Harry soothed him until Caleb pulled himself together before the four of them rushed down to Reid's side. Without a word between them they all chose the fastest way and with a small boost of magic from them all they boosted themselves over the bannister and down around Reid's unconscious form. Harry cradled his head in his lap in seconds as Pogue checked him over.
"He's fine." Pogue announced before standing and hauling his little brother into his arms. Harry shifted Reid's limbs to make him more comfortable but he was completely unresponsive.
"You okay?" Tyler asked Caleb quietly, as if to stop anyone learning of Caleb's small breakdown but when you looked around Pogue, Tyler and Harry all had tears in their eyes.
"Yeah." Caleb nodded. "Just got to me is all. I mean it's Reid…"
"Yeah." Pogue nodded. Seeing Pogue go through it was one thing but Reid was half his size and had been through so much with his father around. It wasn't surprising that Caleb had lost control of his emotions watching Reid screaming in pain after so long protecting him and looking out for him.
Pogue carried Reid the entire way back to the house with Harry on one side and then Tyler on Harry's other side and Caleb just next to Pogue in case he needed help but he didn't complain at the weight once and really Pogue could bench press Harry, Tyler or Reid on a bad day.
Nothing was really said when they walked into the house and Keegan checked Reid over. Sarah, Josh, Geoffrey, Max and Lip all wanted to see Reid before Pogue carried him up to Harry's room where they undressed him and set him under the covers. Harry took up vigil but he knew from Pogue's Ascension that he wouldn't wake for at least six hours unless somebody woke him and it was best to let his body and mind recover.
Harry wasn't the only one that sat with him. Caleb with Sarah in his lap sat on the window seat while Pogue and Josh amused the twins with a board game on the floor and Harry and Tyler sat on either side of him on the bed to protect him from the world. Marigold brought them up food and told Harry to call her the moment Reid woke up so she could get him something hot to eat before leaving them to settle in for however long it took for Reid to wake up.
The next morning
Over the course of the night they all fell asleep but never all at the same time. Harry left only long enough to make Lip and Max happy by putting them to bed and reading them one of their stories along with Joshua. Sarah went to her and Caleb's bed in the early hours of the morning but Caleb, Pogue, Tyler and Harry weren't going to be moved and Joshua didn't really want to leave Harry and Reid either.
The sun was just coming up when Reid groaned and turned to curl himself up in the duvet over him. Pulling it up into his chest to hug it since Harry had moved off of the bed to let Pogue and Caleb take a nap and it was the two bigger boys on either side of him when Reid reached out for his normal bed mate, found Caleb and unashamedly wriggled into Caleb's side. It was a bit of an achievement for the half asleep boy since Caleb was on top of the duvet but Reid was nothing if not stubborn when it came to cuddling with someone in bed and he happily clamped his arms around Caleb and settled his head on Caleb's shoulder with a sigh.
Caleb had woken quickly but didn't move more than just enough to watch Reid's movements out of the corner of his eye. Harry stood from the window seat where he'd been playing cards with Joshua and moved to the side of the bed where Pogue was napping. He put a hand on Pogue's shoulder and lightly shook him awake and the boy sat up with a start that only made Reid whine in complaint at the rude jostling. Pogue looked around and he smiled at the sight of Caleb and Reid. Harry slipped around the bed onto Caleb's other side and Caleb raised an arm in invitation so Harry settled against Caleb's other side so his face was mere inches from Reid's even as Joshua and Tyler settled on the end of the bed.
"Time to wake up, love." Harry told Reid softly. Reid blinked open his eyes and looked across Caleb's t-shirt and at Harry.
"I thought you were wearing too many clothes." Reid pouted. "And you got bigger."
"As if you didn't realise you were cuddling with your big brother." Harry smiled at him. "But he does make a really good pillow."
"I'm right about the too many clothes bit too, aren't I?" Reid complained.
"He'd make a better pillow half-naked." Harry nodded.
"Oi." Caleb complained and lightly hit them both over the back of the head and then pulled Reid tighter against him. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I feel awesome." Reid muttered before blushing, making Harry laugh.
"Probably a good thing he's not really naked then." Harry teased and Reid hid his face, shifting uncomfortably.
"Nothing I've not felt before with Reid cuddling with me." Caleb told him charitably.
Harry shifted over Caleb and Reid and spooned behind his boyfriend. Reid tried to turn but Harry held him tightly to stop him. "Caleb went to pieces." Harry whispered into his ear, knowing that everyone could hear his words regardless. "Stay with him."
Reid lifted his head to look at his oldest brother with a frown. "You okay?" Reid asked in concern.
Caleb shot him a reassuring look. "You're smaller than Pogue. It…" Caleb shook his head. "It just got to me. Seeing you like that. You're so much smaller."
"Don't rub it in." Reid complained. "But it went okay? I mean I did good?"
"Of course you did good." Pogue laughed as he moved behind Harry. Harry slipped up to sit at the bottom of the bed so that Pogue could reach Reid and watched Pogue lift him into his arms briefly. Tyler hugged his best friend tightly after Pogue had finished with him and even Joshua gave him a quick hug before putting him back on the bed.
"I feel like an invalid." Reid complained as he was passed around. "I can move on my own you know?"
"We know." Harry smiled even as Reid pulled at Caleb's t-shirt which Caleb took off for him and then slipped under the duvet with Reid. "I'll go get us all some hot breakfast." Harry announced. "Then we've got a long day. Party tonight and everything."
Joshua groaned and that drew everyone's attention. "Why does that sound ominous?" Tyler asked at Joshua's reaction.
"Not too bad for Caleb, Pogue, Reid and I. We're spoken for." Harry laughed. "You and Josh on the other hand…" He trailed off with a smirk. "Are screwed." He finished with a laugh.
"Lots of rich mothers wanting to pair their daughters off to us." Joshua complained. "When Harry was here before it wasn't so bad."
"Speak for yourself." Harry complained.
"I was." Joshua grinned. "They all focused on Harry. Since then they've taken note of the fact I don't parade around a girlfriend."
"Yeah and why is that exactly?" Harry asked his best friend. "Something you want to tell me?"
"Funny." Joshua rolled his eyes. "You try being the second son in a Covenant family."
Harry jumped up from the bed and hugged his best friend tightly. "Sorry, Josh…"
"It's fine." Joshua shrugged. "Anyway this time everyone knows about Harry and Reid being in a relationship. Everyone's talking about it and how wrong it is but they've accepted it anyway. But they also know Caleb and Pogue are taken but there's a new prize for tonight's dinner."
"Oh god." Tyler groaned.
"Sucks to be single." Joshua nodded. "And straight."
"Well you could always get caught in a lip-lock with Tyler." Pogue grinned. "That would help out on both counts."
"Fuck off." Both Joshua and Tyler told him at the same time making everyone laugh.
"Breakfast." Harry announced as he moved to the door. He paused at the bed to give Reid a warm kiss before heading out and down to the kitchen staff to order them all breakfast and then he slipped into Marigold and Keegan's master bedroom to tell them that Reid was awake and well and that they'd be having a nice lie in before they got up to meet with them for lunch to talk about the party that evening.
The house was fairly bursting at the seams with guests. Since the 'Ipswich Boys' had come to stay Keegan had spread the word that people were to keep their distance from the Conner mansion so that they weren't crowded and apart from a few people visiting Keegan for business they'd stayed away. Although now that the official invite had gone out for Reid's celebratory party the Covenant had more or less flooded the place as an excuse to be formally introduced to the four of them. Even with the current disapproval at Harry and Reid for breaking tradition and getting together they still wanted to celebrate Reid's Ascension.
Many came bearing gifts for Caleb, Pogue and Reid for their Ascensions and promised to return for Harry's and Tyler's when they came up. There was also massive talk about how powerful Harry was. He'd already been more powerful than most boys about to go through their Ascensions when he'd been a year away and now that his own Ascension was less than a fortnight away it was becoming obvious that he'd be the most powerful Warlock since the Covenant had left Europe.
Harry, Reid, Tyler, Pogue and Caleb had been dragged out to greet everyone as they arrived and Caleb and Harry had dragged Sarah and Joshua out to suffer with them. It went fairly quickly but then they were pulled into the main ballroom by Marigold, by the ears in Harry and Joshua's case when they'd tried to sneak away.
Reid and Harry danced together a few times just to spite the people glaring at them and just to prove their support they ended up dancing with Pogue, Caleb, Tyler and even Joshua though never as intimately as when they were together. The buffet was an on-going affair to keep everyone amused but the main events were the dancing, the classical orchestra that the Covenant had brought in and of course congratulating Reid on his Ascension and through him both Caleb and Pogue and meeting all of the new generation of Ipswich Warlocks.
Harry was dancing with Reid when it happened. His head was down on Reid's shoulder as they slowly moved to the music and he was aware of Caleb and Sarah dancing nearby and Pogue, Joshua and Tyler standing not far away. They got so close purely because of the sheer numbers in the room but how they got through the magic without alerting one of the Ascended was cause for concern. Harry felt the cold spike down his back even as he heard the snigger from behind him. The sound so familiar to him because it haunted his nightmares and it made him tense up.
Reid looked up and gasped, stumbling backwards and pulling Harry with him even as Harry spun around to face the five figures that had managed to walk straight passed all the others on the dance floor between the open patio doors and where they were dancing. All of about a dozen steps.
Harry felt the air rush out of his lungs as fear flooded him. Right in his face was Bellatrix Lestrange with four darkly dressed wizards at her sides. All the sound seemed to fade from the room as they spread out into a horseshoe, attracting the attention of everyone at their end of the room including Caleb and Sarah.
"How nice of you to hold such a lovely affair." One of the men sneered but Harry didn't recognise anyone but Bellatrix, nor could he really even focus past her grinning face even as Caleb, Pogue and Tyler appeared around them and silence rippled through the room as people noticed that something was happening. "Such a good opportunity just waiting for us to take. Such an open door right to you."
"Who are you!?" Caleb demanded, his arm coming up to warn them off even as Keegen, Geoffrey and a dozen other Warlocks started pushing their way through the crowd to reach them in time.
"Who we are is inconsequential." The man sneered. "Only who our Master is. Maybe you've heard of him. Lord Voldemort?"
"We don't want anything to do with him." Pogue glared at them. "And you'd better leave or we'll hand you your arses."
"You think you can face us, scum?" One of the others laughed. "You're nothing but dirty half-breeds."
"Come on, little Potter. You know you really want to come with me." Bellatrix laughed. "I can show you a better time than this child. Our Master would treat you well. Let you play with your victims, those Muggle Lovers of Dumbledore's."
"Get away from him." Reid pushed Harry behind him, raising his hands up to protect Tyler and Harry, the only ones there that weren't Ascended.
"Bella…" The first man warned as the crowd split and they were surrounded by Ascended Warlocks. "Time to go."
"Whether you want to or not then, Potter." Bellatrix laughed and Harry had no warning as something was flying right at him, over Reid's shoulder. He stumbled backwards to try to dodge it but only registered coming up against Tyler before something was tugging him away. A portkey.
Harry landed hard but felt arms trying to hold onto him. He almost struggled against them before he realised what had happened. They still fell over but Harry didn't push Tyler away as they hit the floor. Tyler struggled against him but Harry just shifted them in the pitch darkness and put his head against Tyler's.
"It's me, Ty." Harry whispered and Tyler relaxed. Wherever they were it was completely dark without a breath of wind to tell them where to go. Harry could almost feel the walls all around them.
"What happened?" Tyler whispered back.
"It's called a Portkey." Harry whispered back. "It takes you from one place to another instantaneously but it doesn't feel very nice."
"Where are we then?" Tyler swallowed heavily.
"I don't know." Harry shook his head against Tyler's head. "Probably somewhere in Britain."
"They can do that?" Tyler sounded worried.
"Instant teleportation is something they've got down." Harry grumbled.
"What are they going to do?" Tyler hissed out. "Can we fight them?"
"If we work together maybe." Harry shook his head. "But they know about our powers. They'll take precautions. Make sure we're outnumbered."
"What are they going to do to us though?" Tyler sat up and Harry followed him up to lean against his side so they didn't lose track of one another in the dark.
"They didn't want you." Harry sighed. "They want me. Voldemort always wanted me dead or a weapon for him. That's why he sent Bellatrix to make me crazy." Harry slumped. "To make me easier to control. He wants my power, he doesn't care about my mind."
"And me?" Tyler asked. "I'm here accidentally right?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah."
"So he might just get rid of me?" Tyler asked. "Kill me off?"
"He wants power." Harry whispered as his head fell onto Tyler's shoulder. "He doesn't understand our power so he might try to turn you into a weapon too."
"How?" Tyler asked. "I don't want to fight for them and if we use our power like that…"
"It'll kill us." Harry nodded. "But he'll torture us until we either do what he wants or we can't think for ourselves."
"We have to fight them until we Ascend." Tyler told him. "Or until the others find us."
"How are they going to find us, Ty?" Harry demanded.
"I don't know." Tyler shook his head. "But this is Caleb, Pogue and Reid we're talking about. They'll come for us somehow. And the Covenant will help them."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked. "It would be dangerous. Why would they risk getting killed?"
"Because Caleb, Pogue and Reid love us." Tyler told him, grabbing his hand tightly. "They'd do anything for us."
"Ty…" Harry could feel tears building. He wanted Reid.
Tyler pulled him tightly against him and kissed the side of his head. "They can't break us, Harry. They can torture us but they can't break us."
"I'll ascend in ten days." Harry whispered to Tyler. "I'll make you a hole and you have to take it. No matter what happens to me."
"Harry…" Tyler shook his head. "No. I won't leave you behind."
Harry twisted and grabbed Tyler's head between his hands and put his forehead to Tyler's. "You have to get away. Reid can't…" Harry swallowed. "Reid can't lose both of us. I Ascend first so I can make the distraction and you can take it. It won't work the other way around. We don't get a choice. Reid can't lose both of us."
"Harry…" Tyler was crying. "How do you know we'll even survive ten days?"
"Because Voldemort has a thing for special days." Harry sagged into Tyler again. "He'll want to break me or kill me on my birthday."
"Why would he risk you Ascending?" Tyler asked.
"Quietly." Harry muttered. "They don't understand us. They won't know about our birthdays."
"Then we survive." Tyler nodded. "Until you can get us both out or they come and rescue us."
"Both?" Harry frowned. "No, Ty…"
"I won't lose Reid." Tyler shook his head. "If he loses either of us he'll lose it. He'll break. He'll Use too much. If either of us die we'll lose Reid. I'm not going to leave you behind."
Harry slumped into Tyler before they both tensed as they heard footsteps from far away. They reached them but still echoed as though through the walls. Then they heard the sound that drove Harry into a shaking lump. Bellatrix laughing at him. Tyler held him close, trying to cover his ears as she tormented them for what seemed like hours.
Harry and Tyler had gone without more than a little bit of water for longer than Harry could guess. There had been no light ever for them to even see one another and only rounds of torture and mental abuse to suffer side by side. They never separated them and their torture seemed to be random. The problem was that they never had any warning before either of them was hit by something. They tried to use their own powers if they had warning and were normally successful in forcing the spells away, hence why they'd started casting them on them without any warning. Harry was taking more mental abuse than Tyler because there was little that they could use against Tyler as they only knew he was like Harry and nothing else about him but Tyler took as much physical torture as Harry and by the time light flared around them they were both rather worse for wear.
They couldn't put up any sort of struggle as two masked Death Eaters grabbed them and Harry had no idea what day it was. He hoped that Voldemort had done what he expected and he hoped it was currently his birthday but even though he would have expected to feel weaker coming up to the moment of his Ascension with how his body was suffering in pain he'd be surprised if he'd notice anyway.
His only gamble was that Voldemort would wait until the end of his birthday as he wasn't born until fifty-two minutes before midnight. But it wasn't like he had much choice in the matter. All he knew was that the last few torture sessions had left massive cuts on the both of them. They were bleeding, almost exhausted beyond their ability to remain awake. They were beyond any description of hungry after days without food and only a little water. They were suffering and he doubted they'd last the night in Voldemort's care even if the man didn't kill them both.
They were more or less dragged through long corridors in some sort of underground network. Only the odd flame in a torch lit their way. He could hear the noises of Tyler being dragged along behind him but couldn't suffer the pain of trying to twist his neck when the slash to the side of his neck threatened to rip open again. A piece of Tyler's t-shirt tied around his neck was really the only thing helping the stem the bleeding but at least it wasn't a fatal wound but he felt the dizziness that came from loss of blood. He knew Tyler was suffering it too.
Massive doors were pulled open ahead of them and they were dragged up through a crowd of what looked to Harry's blurry eyesight to be hundreds of Death Eaters. Eventually after a few dozen metres of being dragged across the floor he managed to focus on the figure in a stone throne at the head of the hall. The throne dwarfed Voldemort where he sat casually but he didn't stand until Harry had been dumped on the floor. Harry caught himself on his hands and knees but the motion made him heave up blood. Tyler landed in a heap next to him and coughed painfully before forcing himself up onto his knees. Their sides were touching where they'd fallen but neither really had the strength to move.
"Well well, Potter." Voldemort slowly walked down towards them. "It's your birthday. Have you enjoyed it so far?"
Harry spat out blood and glared up at the man. "Always defiant." Voldemort sneered. "Even when you've no one to fight for. But it's nearly the end of your birthday and I thought I'd give you your entire day free before I either kill you or you join me."
Harry felt Tyler shift beside him and knew Tyler had understood that just as well as Harry had. Voldemort didn't understand the trap he'd just created for himself. Harry wouldn't even have to lift a finger himself to cause destruction in this room. Underground or not the power would reach him somehow. Tyler was the only one that would be safe from him even as close as he was.
"Now, Potter." Voldemort drew his attention again. "You're not a boy anymore so I'll tell you plainly. I want your power on my side. Agree now and you and your friend here can live. You've no reason to fight for Dumbledore anymore. They're just decadent and corrupt. They need to be taken out of power and a new regime is needed. Help me form it and you and your friend can rule with me."
"I don't care about your war." Harry coughed up blood, his broken ribs lancing with pain. "I'm not fighting for either of you."
"It's still just over an hour until the end of your birthday. I said I wouldn't kill you, Potter, but I never said I wouldn't try to convince you to join me. I need your power, not your sanity and I'm sure I can use this one's power just as easily." Voldemort reached down to Harry, using his wand to force his head up. Harry felt it burning at the skin under his chin but just gritted his teeth. "Crucio." Voldemort muttered simply. Harry had expected it and he reached for his power to fend it off. His eyes flooded with fire and darkness but his power slipped away from him.
He tilted over backwards, his muscles screaming as they seized up. This was more powerful than any of the torture that Tyler and Harry had gone through over the last ten days. The scream flooded out of him and he stood no chance in stopping it. His eyes stared up at the dark ceiling above him and he felt Tyler's power flooding over him, trying to fight for him but they already knew it didn't do anything. It felt like hours before the pain let up and he sagged back onto the cold floor. Tyler's hands on him felt like ice against a burn, painful but Harry couldn't find the energy or desire to move away from the contact.
Harry suddenly felt numb, the lasting pain muted. He gazed up at Voldemort and slowly pulled himself back onto his knees. Voldemort was frowning but he wasn't looking at Harry. He was looking straight over his head and towards the doors and the Death Eaters were starting to mutter between themselves.
"Check the wards!" Voldemort roared out suddenly. Tyler passed an arm around Harry who slowly turned to face him.
"It's time." Harry told him softly but he was distracted from taking Tyler's arms away from him when there was a massive explosion behind them. The doors burst from their hinges, shattering as they flew into the hall and into dozens of Death Eaters. Fighting erupted but Harry could only just force his body to turn enough to see as Aurors flooded through the doors.
"Dumbledore!" Voldemort sneered angrily, shoving passed Harry and Tyler.
"Caleb!" Tyler suddenly breathed in relief. Harry's eyes snapped around and took in everything. Aurors and the Order of the Phoenix had rushed into the room and started firing spells but behind them, in the doorway, fending off spells with subtle shields and overwhelming power were Caleb, Pogue, Reid, Geoffrey, Keegan and a score of other Warlocks that Harry remembered seeing around the Mansion.
They were holding off from the fight though as Death Eaters and Aurors mingled along with the Order. Something was thrown at them from a nearby Order member that Harry didn't recognise but Tyler tossed it away with magic. They were trying to take them away.
Harry gasped as heat suddenly flooded him and he pushed Tyler away from him gently as the ground shook. Dirt and gravel fell from above and Harry felt weakness rise up through his muscles. He fell onto one hand but he fought it as much as he could. A rock fell to the ground nearby and then the ceiling burst down on them all. He heard shouts all around him before light exploded behind his eyes. Pain seered through him but it was nothing compared to the recent bouts of Cruciatus Curse. His head flew back as lightning leapt through the hall, covering the walls with electricity before the bolt slammed in towards them, obliterating Wizards and Witches on their way before they slammed into him from all directions.
He screamed at the flood of pure energy. Every nerve came alive, not in pain as such but with pure sensation. The electricity slammed down through the hole in the ceiling that led up to storm clouds and although Harry remained directly linked to the storm above him with lightning more and more slammed down around the room. The only one in the room with him that remained safe and unsigned was Tyler who remained huddled next to him. The Covenant remained in the relative safety of the doorway even though they were more or less safe from the Ascension.
The lightning petered out slowly and Harry felt himself drifting off into unconsciousness. The pull of his Ascension dragging him under. His body wanting to rest and recover, to adapt to the new power and with Pogue and Reid they'd fallen with it and let it take them. But Caleb had fought it because his life had been in danger.
"Harry!" He heard a scream of fear from the distance. Reid's scream. His eyes snapped open and he straightened up to find Voldemort not more than ten feet from them. Fury bleeding from him. A flick of his wand and Tyler was flung up into the air by his neck and held there choking. Harry felt power behind him from the Covenant but he simply unlocked his own power.
Energy simply poured from him like a flood. It seized Voldemort and simply shredded his body, magic and soul into a thousand pieces. Tyler cried out as he was released and Harry just about managed to break his fall by reaching for him with his own arms.
He ended up half under Tyler, both of them exhausted and beaten bloody. He dimly heard running footsteps and people in pain in every direction but he merely held onto Tyler.
Hands touched him gently. The first set so familiar to him. Lips kissed his own before holding his head. He felt the dampness of Reid's tears on him and then more hands trying to pull Tyler away from him and check him over but with his last bit of conscious thought he refused to let anyone take Tyler from him after everything that they'd gone through together.
"We've got you." Caleb's voice whispered but Harry could no longer focus on anyone as he slipped away.
Harry blinked open tired eyes glad that it was seemingly dim in whatever room he was in. He didn't panic like he'd once done in the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts and the first thing he realised was that he was in his own bedroom at the Conner Mansion and that he wasn't alone in the bed. But there was differences that made him realise that something was different. The biggest of them was that the body he was lightly cuddled up to wasn't Reid's. It was Tyler and he wasn't wrapped around him like he would have normally been with Caleb, Pogue, Joshua, Tyler and especially Reid. He tried to move closer before realising just why he wasn't wrapped around him tightly. His limbs hurt, his chest and stomach ached terribly and even his legs were sore. And when he looked at Tyler he realised that bandages wrapped around his stomach just under where his own arm lay and Tyler's right shoulder was also wrapped up tightly. Harry's head was lightly resting on Tyler's left shoulder so clearly that was okay.
Harry shifted painfully to look down at himself before finding himself whimpering as it tugged painfully at his neck. Something was wrapped tightly around his neck, a bandage around the deep cut that he'd received in the last days of his imprisonment. He also had a bandage around his own stomach, for the long gash they'd both received early on in the torture. He had cuts and scrapes over the rest of his body but that was the worst of it.
He sighed as what had happened flowed over him. Ten days of torture and mental abuse in a pitch dark cell with only Tyler for support. He'd spent so much of that time holding onto Tyler as the slightly younger boy did the same to him and clearly they hadn't tried to separate them after getting them treated so Tyler was sharing his own bed with him. A moments thought made him realise that they hadn't really had a choice. He could feel the lingering power over his skin. Clearly in his last moments of consciousness, while he'd been clinging to Tyler he'd unknowingly cast a spell on himself that prevented anyone from moving them more than a few feet from one another. He hadn't meant to but chances were people had gotten small shocks whenever they tried.
He just needed to know that Tyler was safe and wasn't suffering permanent damage. No matter what he knew he was to blame for what had happened to Tyler. There was no other way to say it, Tyler had been kidnapped purely because Harry had ducked back into him and he'd been tortured to try to get Harry to crack. True Voldemort had planned to break Tyler too, to turn Tyler against his enemies and a little bit of him felt glad that had Voldemort managed it then he'd still have Tyler. That made him feel awful though too and he felt tears in his eyes.
He made to lift his head but it simply hurt too much to move that much so he put his head back on Tyler's shoulder, tears rolling down onto Tyler's bare skin. "Reid?" Tyler's sudden whisper made Harry flinch and then whimper in pain at the movement. He hadn't realised that Tyler was awake until he'd spoken but by the sound of his voice he was in a bit of pain and tired too.
Somebody made noise near the bottom of the bed and then people were scrambling around. Harry looked up slowly and found Tyler's bleary eyes looking down at him. His left had started stroking between Harry's bare shoulder blades before a light flipped on behind Harry letting him see Tyler better. The bed dipped on Tyler's other side and Harry dropped his gaze to see a half naked Reid sitting on the edge of the bed with Pogue, Caleb and Joshua in similar states of undress behind him.
"You're finally awake." Reid breathed out in relief.
"What?" Harry croaked out and Joshua moved to the bedside table and grabbed a cup there with a straw and carefully offered it up to Harry's mouth. Harry's left hand twitched as it moved up to Tyler's chest and once Harry had drunk enough Reid reached out and twined his fingers with Harry's.
"You were both in pretty bad shape, Harry." Caleb told him gently as he sat next to Reid and pulled Harry's shaking boyfriend back against his chest to steady him. "But you're both out of danger. The worst is the gashes on your stomachs and that one in your neck but you'll both be weak for a while."
"Tyler woke up two days ago." Pogue announced as he knelt on the floor and stroked a hand through Tyler's hair as the boy rolled his head gently to look at them all, his hand still stroking Harry's back. "But he's still weak and he's starting to weaken for his birthday. He's got about forty-eight hours to go."
Harry sighed out in relief. He'd been worried that Tyler's obvious weakness was a sign of permanent damage. "You came." Harry whispered and his eyes locked on Reid's. "I saw you."
"Yeah." Reid nodded. "Of course we came."
"Left me behind." Joshua complained. "I got to babysit."
Harry offered his best friend a small smile. "What happened?"
"After you and Tyler vanished we all attacked pretty much instantly." Caleb sighed. "Did quite a bit of damage to the ball room and took out all but that bitch, Lestrange."
"We heard her." Tyler breathed gently. "She tortured Harry."
Reid shuddered within Caleb's encircling arms and his hand squeezed Harry's tightly. "She disappeared." Caleb continued. "We figured they'd taken you to Britain. Keegan pulled up the entire Covenant and quite a few met us at the airport ready to go. We flew to Britain but it took time to find you. The Covenant could tell you were both alive still but not where you were until you got closer to your birthday. Something about the build-up process. Anyway we arrived just before all that Wizards appeared and started battering down the doors. We kept out of sight and let them do the work for us. We didn't want Voldemort to think we'd be able to rescue you in case he killed you both as a last effort."
"He was going to torture us until midnight and then let me chose between joining him and dying." Harry shut his eyes and hid his face in Tyler's shoulder.
"He was going to give me the same choice." Tyler told them tiredly. "But I don't think he was going to kill either of us. Just turn us insane so we didn't have a choice."
"We realised that the Wizards had no clue about the Ascension so we hung back." Caleb continued. "We were going to use the distraction of your Ascension to take out the Wizards that were fighting each other but…"
Harry looked up at him and swallowed with a whimper of pain from his throat. "I…"
"Killed almost all of them." Pogue told him honestly. "But it wasn't your fault. Nobody knew just how powerful the blast of your Ascension would be. You weren't controlling that. They were just between you and your power and it wasn't going to stop for them. If it had been Tyler Ascending then people would still have died. Only Tyler and us were safe in that room."
"Then Voldemort tried to hang Tyler up in the air in revenge and you…" Caleb sighed before letting go of Reid and leaning over them both. He gently pulled Harry's head up before kissing him gently on the forehead. There were tears in Caleb's eyes, not falling but a definite dampness. "You protected my little brother." Caleb whispered to him. "Just like we knew you would."
"I saw Dumbledore apparate out." Pogue sighed. "That old man but the Wizarding Worlds civil war is over. There's nobody left to fight it."
"Reid?" Harry asked and lifted his arm from Tyler. Reid saw the request in Harry's eyes and moved to hug him and let a soft kiss fall on his lips.
"We've tried not to move you." Caleb told him as Reid settled behind Harry on the bed and spooned with him, slipping under the blanket that only covered Tyler and Harry's waists and legs. "And when we tried to carry you out separately Geoffrey and I got a major shock."
"I'm sorry." Harry whispered. "I didn't do it on purpose."
"We get it, Harry." Pogue assured them. "You and Tyler went through all that together. It's natural you don't want to be away from him right now."
"The spell's gone." Harry promised them. "But…"
"But?" Caleb asked.
Harry looked down at Tyler. "Can I stay with him?"
Tyler smiled and leaned towards him and put a kiss on his temple before painfully moving onto his left side to hug Harry against him. "Till we get better." Tyler whispered before folding back onto the bed. Pogue's hands came up to guide him back comfortably.
Caleb leaned in to hug Harry and then Tyler gently one last time and Pogue copied him before moving to dress. Joshua sat himself on Tyler's other side and Harry could see the sheer relief in his eyes. "I thought I'd lost you." Joshua muttered. "But I'm glad I didn't."
Joshua leaned down and kissed Harry on the cheek and accepted the loose hug. "Love you, Harry."
"Love you too, Josh." Harry muttered tiredly, his head falling into the crook of Tyler's neck. "How are Max and Lip?"
"They've been crying for weeks." Joshua sighed. "But they sit in here to play games during the day but they've not been allowed to touch you in case they hurt you."
"I'm awake now. They can." Harry whispered.
"I know." Joshua nodded. "It's five in the morning now so we're going to go wake up Mom, Dad, Geoffrey and the Doctors they brought in from the Covenant. We'll get you some breakfast and when the boys wake up they can come see you."
"Going to take a nap." Harry told him weakly as his eyes drifted shut.
"Okay, Harry." Joshua told him with a soft smile. "Reid's going to stay with you and nobody will take you away from Tyler."
"Ty?" Harry asked quietly.
"He's asleep, love." Reid told him gently in his ear and Harry nodded against Tyler's shoulder and let his eyes fully close. He felt somebody pull the blanket up over the three of them properly before the light dimmed again.
A few days later
It had been an entire day before anyone would let either Harry or Tyler up and one of the others was always with him but it was when he woke up for the second time that he saw Kate sitting on the window sill doing her nails with Sarah. He'd stared for some time before Tyler had awoken and made a more abrupt gasp of wonder at seeing her up and about. She was having muscle problems and migraines as a side effect but she'd woken up only a few days after Tyler and Harry had been kidnapped.
On Tyler's birthday they mainly hung around inside the manor since both Harry and Tyler were restricted to remaining seated or in bed. They could use wheelchairs but they didn't have enough strength in their arms after their captivity to propel themselves around for more than a few minutes. Most of the time was spent in one of the smaller lounges that had a big screen on one wall with the entire group laid out on sofas and in armchairs. Reid and Harry curled together in one of the armchairs just like the armchair at the lodge in Ipswich that they'd fought over getting to use, before all of this had kicked off this summer. Tyler on the other hand got passed between Caleb and Pogue, curling up against their sides or with his head in their laps, trading with one of the girls on occasion when they started complaining about losing their boyfriends. Joshua was never far away either and Max and Lip wouldn't move more than a few paces away from Harry, unless they were running to get a game that Harry had agreed to play with them.
With only forty minutes to go until six-thirty-two, Tyler's moment of Ascension, Harry allowed Max and Lip to rolled him in a wheelchair down through the mansion on the trail of the others, his hands near to the break levers in case the two ten-year-olds got carried away but they were being very careful with their surrogate big brother and had been all day.
They left Max and Lip with Joshua, Sarah and Kate as Caleb and Reid pushed Harry and Tyler in their wheelchairs along the paths through the garden and into the same Ascension Chamber that Reid had used almost a month ago. Thinking it safer not to leave Tyler in the wheelchair for this they helped Tyler down to sit on the floor and each gave him a hug and a promise that they wouldn't be far away.
With no way to get the wheelchair up the stairs to the second level Caleb just heaved Harry out of the wheelchair and up into his arms. Harry had just kissed him on the cheek and with just a minute to spare they reached the balcony. They knew that they wouldn't have to wait long so Caleb just held him securely in his arms and Harry had a good idea that Caleb was preparing himself to go to pieces again. Reid settled next to Caleb and Harry with Pogue on his other side, none of them breaking contact with each other as the storm clouds gathered.
Tyler was watching them all this time, his body finally weakening to the point where he laid out on his back and stared up at the black clouds above them all. Harry felt Caleb trying to control his breathing but he felt it hitch and the bigger boy's heartbeat start racing at the first crack of lightning. It struck around the rim of the ceiling's opening and then more struck. Caleb started to shake.
"It's worse from this side." Reid muttered.
"Last time." Pogue muttered to them.
"Until your kids Ascend." Reid pointed out and Harry turned his eyes from Tyler just briefly to see the resignation in Reid's eyes.
"And they'll have their friends with them, just like Tyler does." Caleb announced before Harry could think of something to say, just before the lightning flooded down through the room, slamming down across the floor as if skipping across water before it slammed into Tyler from all directions. Tyler's scream rent the air as his back arched up off of the floor and Harry thought for a moment that he'd do himself more damage. His shirt rode up and the bandages that Harry and Reid still wore became visible. As Harry watched blood crept through the bandage as he partially reopened the wound but Harry knew he'd be alright.
Caleb buckled a little and his arms tightened around Harry, struggling to keep Harry up as his own legs tried to go. Pogue and Reid obviously spotted the danger and in seconds both were holding Caleb, helping him remain stable without any of them tearing their eyes away from the screaming and convulsing Tyler.
The lightning finally let up what felt like an age later and Tyler slumped boneless to the ground. "Go." Harry told them and pushed at Reid with his hands.
"Go Caleb." Pogue muttered and pulled Harry out of Caleb's arms. Caleb paused only for a second before he and Reid leapt from the balcony, Using to slow their descent but land by Tyler in time for him to see them both before he went unconscious. To know that he was going to be alright.
Pogue carried Harry down the stairs and put him back into his wheelchair before grabbing Tyler's and collapsing it. Harry wheeled himself slowly towards where Caleb and Reid were fussing over Tyler but as they arrived Caleb lifted Tyler up into his arms, forgoing the wheelchair completely.
It wasn't long before they were back up at the house and putting Tyler down into Harry's bed where he'd been ever since they'd returned to the mansion. They changed the bandage around his stomach and got Harry settled with him under the eyes of Caleb, Pogue, Reid, Joshua, Kate, Sarah, Max, Lip, Geoffrey, Keegan and Marigold.
As they drew the blankets up over Tyler Harry felt that same urge he'd had ever since they'd been captured and it wasn't long before Reid was helping him strip down for bed and he was soon curling up to Tyler's side with Reid spooning him. Kate and Sarah excused themselves for the evening, knowing Caleb and Pogue would want to stay close and soon they were squeezing themselves onto the bed while Joshua took his little brothers out of the room for a late dinner before bed.
Harry kissed Tyler on the cheek as he and Caleb wrapped an arm each around him. He could feel Reid against his back and Pogue was holding Reid as they all tried to get some rest knowing it would be days before Tyler awoke.
And then they could all be the same again, just like throughout their lives. The four best friends and brothers that had known each other for as long as they'd lived and they'd made Harry a part of their group and Harry had proven willing to sacrifice everything to keep them safe. Harry had a family again and not just them, but the Conners too, and he'd keep all of them as close as he could for as long as he could.
Eight years later
Harry woke quickly at the sound of his bedroom door opening. He glanced over at his sleeping twenty-six year old lover and gently poked him in the ribs to wake him up even as the two little six-year-old boys shuffled across the floor towards them. Lightning flashed through the window and Harry realised what they doing in there. He sighed silently as Reid sat up and rubbed at his eyes, always slower to wake than Harry.
"Come on Cyrus, Lucus." Harry smiled even though they couldn't see him in the dark. The boys jumped up onto the bed and climbed over Harry to reach the middle of the bed and then crawled under the duvet. Cyrus and Lucus were a bit of an oddity but they were legally and biologically their children. Legally they were both Reid and Harry's by adoption but biological Cyrus was Harry's and Lucus was Reid's. Not that it made any difference to them. They knew they were brothers but they also knew that they weren't twins even though they actually shared a birthday and had the same parents. When Reid and Harry had decided they really wanted children they'd looked at their options but carrying on the Covenant line, the oldest son's heritage, the reason that people had always frowned at their relationship, had weighed on them and it had been Harry that had worked it all out.
So they'd found an agency willing to do the work and had picked two surrogate mothers willing to go along with it. There hadn't been any of the feared legal issues after birth and the mothers had happily given up their legal rights as agreed. So now Harry and Reid had the children they'd always wanted. They had lucked out because they were happy with just two children and if they'd gotten a girl, although she'd have been loved just as much, would have meant they probably would have convinced themselves to try again to get a boy to carry on the legacy.
Harry turned onto his side in the bed and Lucus turned into Harry's chest. "The lightning's scary." Lucus muttered into his neck.
"Nuh huh!" Cyrus complained. "Thunder's worse!"
"Hush." Reid told them though his tone was amused. He turned and pulled Cyrus into his chest and together the family hugged. The boys had trouble falling asleep with the flashes and crashes but with their dads there they eventually slipped off. Harry and Reid shared a happy kiss over their heads before settling down to listen to the noises of the large house. A smirk crept across Reid's lips as they heard footsteps outside as another child walked passed their door. That would be James, Tyler's five year old son since the only other room on this corridor was Tyler and Isabelle's, his wife.
When the matter had come up about finding a house the bond between Caleb, Pogue, Tyler and Reid had proven simply too strong for them all to resist so they'd come to the conclusion that they could afford somewhere big and live all in the same house. It made so many things so much easier even if having so many young children in the house made things noisy at times. Then again the children always had somebody to play with.
The house had two wings with dozens of bedrooms but the only children who shared a room were Cyrus and Lucus but that was their choice as 'twins'. James had his own room right next door to Cyrus and Lucus' and Harry, Reid, Tyler and Isabelle stayed in the same wing with them. Not far away though was Caleb and Pogue's families. Caleb and Sarah had decided to try for a baby at the same time as Pogue and Kate. Caleb and Sarah had a boy, Jacob, who was three months older than Cyrus and Lucus and a little girl, Natalie, who was now three. Pogue and Kate's son, Sebastian, was only a month younger than Jacob and two months older than the 'twins' and Kate was expecting in five months.
Tyler's own son hadn't been planned but still all five women had been pregnant at the same time and Caleb, Pogue, Reid and Tyler had just been so pleased to realise their eldest sons, the five of them, would be together in the same grade at school. People sometimes thought they'd rushed things to match them together but they all knew that it had happened comfortably that way.
Harry watched Reid slip off into sleep again, his nose buried in Harry's own biological son's hair and so Harry settled his own head down next to Lucus before smiling as he realised that the next day was Joshua's visit. Joshua technically lived with them at the large house and had a room up next to Harry and Reid's but as he was in medical school they rarely saw him but all the children loved him immensely. Almost as much as they all loved their Uncles whenever they came to visit after school at least three or four times a week. Max and Phillip were both eighteen now and were easily the favourite role models to Jacob, Sebastian, Cyrus, Lucus and James. The boys idolised them and were never more than a few feet from the two whenever they were in the house.
Harry kissed Lucus on the head before letting his own eyes shut to join his slumbering family. He'd lived a hard life, he'd gone through more than most people could ever dream of, he'd lost his family without even knowing them but now he had everything he could ever want in life. He had the love of his life, his two sons, his four best friends and a family larger than he could ever have wished for.
And he'd fight to keep it.