AN: My dear readers, I thank you for your reviews, for following and favoriting. You are the ones who in the end made me return to this story. Hopefully, this chapter is not a disappointment, I am very much out of practice. :)
Harry lay on the lake's sandy shore on a soft blanket and looked ahead where he knew the picture ended. It was difficult to move around now - his stomach was finally showing. Only a month or month and a half of this isolated life was left for him to bear. He couldn't deny that he dearly missed the noisiness and colorful mixture of Hogwarts school life, but mostly just life – the wind in his hair, the sun shining bright at noon, the stars, the moon, the snow and the rain - the motion. He missed his friends.
What were they thinking when he suddenly disappeared? They did not know about the deal with Salazar. They did not know about Salazar, period. He let them believe he was gaining knowledge all by himself, delving into the allowed and restricted books of the Hogwarts library. He did that too, of course, but under guidance.
Before he disappeared, he told Ron and Hermione that he had to take care of some urgent business. They were reluctant to let him go. They were suspicious and worried, but he just laughed their concerns off. He really shouldn't have. They weren't the only ones that would miss him. There were other fellow students, Remus Lupin, Tonks, several other Order members who became his steady friends and support in Dumbledore's absence. Draco Malfoy, his old enemy and tentative new friend.
In the beginning of his sixth year, in a gloomy mood he went down to the Chamber and discovered its another secret - a secret room behind the statue. He was giddy with his discovery. He expected to find powerful artifacts, an ancient library or a hibernating basilisk egg - something that would help him to defeat Voldemort. Something more than a falling apart couch, dusty table, half-burned candle on it and an empty portrait frame. Oh, there was a humble bookshelf too, emptied. Harry just signed then at his own stupidity, of course, Voldemort or some other heir before him would have gotten here earlier. Still, despite his bitter disappointment it was a good place to get away to. So he repaired the couch, filled the bookshelf with his own meager collection of books and trinkets and visited when particularly irritated by his friends and Dumbledore. On the fourth visit he felt someone watching him and met the dark-blue eyes. The rest, as they say, is history.
Harry managed to persuade Draco Malfoy away from the Voldemort's side by rescuing Narcissa. That was one heady adventure, where his and Draco's friendship origin lay. Thus the task set to the young Malfoy by Voldemort was forfeited. And Severus Snape perished shortly afterwards when he refused to obey the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore died in the beginning of Harry's seventh year. Queitly and without fanfare. Only a few knew that he died of the curse. Harry never searched for Horcruxes, he and Salazar thought out a much more elegant plan.
So he lay here now and imagined life outside the canvas. What would his friends be doing now? Auror training program? Fighting for the rights of magical creatures? Getting married? Was Ginny still single?
But he could only fantasize for the moment. Soon he would know.
The echo of his determined footsteps on the shining white-blue floor of the Citadel made Salazar feel clumsy. Of course, he grimaced, he was half-human, his inherited elven grace could extend only so far. He couldn't move as silently.
He stopped and knocked on the nephrite green fragile-looking door. For all he knew, it was nephrite. It felt like it.
The door swung open and he stepped inside. The colors inside these chambers were as watered down and blindingly light as almost everywhere in the citadel. The only bright figure in the room sat on the intricately carved wooden chair, painted pastel green, and sipped tea from china.
"Aunt Meridith, why this urgent call?"
The red-haired woman, stunningly beautiful in her rich gown of tarnished gold, gingerly placed her cup on a glass table.
"Please sit, Salazar."
And so he did, gingerly, but still feeling like a bear in a throne room.
The dark-brown eyes that sometimes seemed black examined his face thoughtfully and silence stretched.
"Yes, please," Salazar agreed gratefully. His mouth had already dried up. His aunt was usually much more open and cheerful. This conversation would be a hard one.
"I had a vision. Your half-brother will be stirring trouble soon."
The wizard gritted his teeth, the relationship between him and his younger brother was not ideal. He tried to emulate their father too closely. But he didn't imagine it awful enough to warrant a vision.
"In a year or two. You'll have to watch him closely."
He nodded absently. "What else have you picked up?"
"He'll try to pretend to be you and ruin your friendships."
"They are as good as ruined right now anyway."
Meridith sighed and took his hands in her arms. Her stare was intense.
"It's serious, Salazar. Deathly serious. Evan envies you greatly. He has already stolen your research on snake-tongue and profited from it."
"I know that, it's not that big of a deal, I have many other researches, this is just one of them."
"And yet your school mascot is a snake… But there is nothing to be done about that now."
The woman stood up and moved to the cabinet on the left side of the room. She came back with a stone cup.
"I knew you wouldn't listen to my warning… The visions are not as clear as memories, but you have to see this one to begin to understand."
"Memory basin," Salazar stared in awe. "True rarity in our world."
"Not in the elven kingdom. Perhaps, we'll trade some of them to your friends later."
"Rowena would be deliriously happy."
"She will be."
The cup now rested on the table. Meridith closed her eyes and breathed over the rim. Translucent oily liquid turned silver-blue.
"Now come closer and watch…"
The vision was indeed blurry and sometimes incomprehensive. But the images and sounds filled the picture. Salazar clenched his fingers on the edge of the table, leaving markings on the smooth glass. He thought and pondered.
"I never liked much these underhanded games, Aunt Meridith."
"But Evan does, so you'll have to play or lose without trying."
"I will try. Just… I wish there was some other way. It doesn't end well no matter what I do. I'll lose my home and place in the world anyway. Death or hermit life, I don't know what is worse."
"There are many more options than that and you know it. Don't be maudlin, it doesn't suit you. Tell me, Salazar, do you love someone?"
The wizard looked up at his aunt, startled.
"Why…. If you mean in the romantic sense then no."
"That's exactly what I mean. Do you want to marry, Salazar?"
"Not particularly, at the moment, but I plan to. Some nice magically compatible witch will do just fine."
The dark eyes of the seer glittered.
"Ah, but the elven blood will be diluted further and you will never love or be loved by her."
"That is inevitable then, isn't it? You know that I long ago understood that I won't have the Intended as the elves do."
Meridith smiled. "But you do."
"I… do? How… when?"
"I saw him recently. In a vision. A very nice, yet troubled, young man. Your children would be pure elven, should you choose to pursue him."
"Male, huh? I can live with that. Why wouldn't I pursue him?"
"You are centuries apart, even with your elven blood you won't live long enough to meet him."
"And I already researched immortality, Aunt Meridith, I won't sacrifice my soul. And I don't believe that you would tease me with this knowledge if it was impossible. So what is it?"
The woman's smile turned larger and sharper.
"There will still be sacrifices, my dear nephew, but there is a way."
Salazar slowly opened his eyes, the bed was cold and Harry gone. He was probably at the lake, his favorite spot lately.
It was only logical to dream of the past. The past and the future were finally coming together. The birth was near.
The founder smiled sadly, whatever happened, he was happy to be the father, he loved both Harry and the baby that he felt kicking under the taut skin of Harry's large belly. He didn't care what gender it was, it would grow beautiful and loved, if only by Harry.
He heard heavy footsteps and the door to their bedroom opened. He imagined that Harry brought with him the fresh and frosty air from the outside. But of course, he didn't. It was only a painting after all. But he brought with him the smell of his skin and apple lotion. And that was enough.
Harry shook his head and sat on the bed silently watching Salazar. He extended his hand and caressed his cheek, moving his feather touch down to the neck and chest. He circled the flat stomach and leaned awkwardly to kiss him in the lips.
"Make love to me?"
Salazar wondered at the sad undertone in Harry's voice, but chose to comply with no questions asked.
He tenderly and slowly undressed the pregnant wizard. The fire in his groin burned low and strong. He almost trembled himself. Harry's eyes were solemn and tender; it was as if he was finally giving himself away to him. Wholly. Heart, body, and soul.
They arranged the pillows and Harry stood on his knees, leaning low on his hands, arse extended to Salazar. The older wizard moved over and peppered his lover's back with light kisses and his arms caressed and supported the stomach. He licked the puckered hole and enjoyed the answering hitch in Harry's breath. He circled and darted his tongue inside licking out the walls as far as he could. The hitch deepened and Harry writhed.
"Sh-sh… I'll be there soon enough, just a little patience, my dear." Salazar breathed lowly over the hole.
Salazar summoned the lubricant straight on his fingers and put them inside coating and stretching. With another bit of wandless magic he bathed his cock in the same substance and holding the younger wizard by the thighs thrust in.
He didn't see Harry's face, he didn't need to. They were one, pleasure beyond the physical, raw and naked. Gentle almost electrical current connected them and they swam in it back and forth till finally the waters rose and drowned them both, leaving gasping desperately for air.
They lay entwined, satiated and lazy. Harry sighed and kissed him thoroughly. He looked at Salazar with bright shining eyes and whispered:
"I love you."
Salazar heart almost stopped beating. Forbidden, he could not respond in kind. He could only hope that his eyes and tongue and hands would be enough of the answer.