~Chapter Sixteen: Yule Cheer~
In the lounge room of the Dark Lord's manor, Lucius, Narcissa, Voldemort, and Severus were seated waiting for Draco and Harry to return. Upon waking, Draco decided to wake everyone at five o'clock since this was their first Yule together. He would be spending the entire holiday with Harry Potter it had to be a memorable occasion. Everyone had been dragged out of bed including the Dark Lord much to the Malfoy's concern. But it appeared as if the Dark Lord found it rather amusing and had permitted the act.
Of course some of the group weren't overjoyed with how early they had been roused. Severus sat blearily to one side eyeing everything as if it had personally offended him. He was also in shock. He may have been Harry's mentor but that didn't mean he received the same privileges. Yet even Narcissa was present which spoke volumes of the Dark Lord's pleasure this morning.
In the future on a day such as this, all Elementals would be gathered together but not all of them had been discovered yet. Having all Elementals in one location would be rather interesting, Severus believed. Four different yet powerful people all in the same room as the one that controlled them would create a rather electric atmosphere. However on this day they would not witness this. Instead they would be very lucky if they witnessed anything at all.
Draco had yet to return with Harry and he'd left over an hour ago.
Everyone in the room was tense bar one furious Dark Lord. When Draco had gone to wake everyone else they had returned within fifteen minutes which he had allowed for dressing and general making themselves presentable. However this time it was taking much longer than expected and it was worrying them. The three adults could tell their Master was beginning to lose what little control he was managing. Eventually he would snap and they would proceed to Harry's room to see what had taken the enthusiastic Malfoy so long to rouse Harry Potter like he did them.
Voldemort, as believed by the others, was ready to charge to his Earth's room and tear down the door with as much force as possible. Numerous thoughts plagued him on what could be occurring behind closed doors. He knew that the Malfoy heir was close and clingy to Harry but unbidden thoughts of attraction was not something that he wanted to contemplate between them. Harry belonged to him and him alone no other would have him. He could not remain idle with these thoughts any longer!
He stood, startling his followers, storming away towards Harry's room. Narcissa, Lucius and Severus exchanged concerned glances before hurrying off behind their Master. If Draco had done something foolhardy they doubted his status would help him at all.
As they moved towards Harry's room, thoughts continuously flashed through Voldemort's mind, the other three followed worried at what they might find upon opening the door.
Draco poking Harry to wake him up…
A grumble as Harry moved in his sleep…
An innocent kiss passed between two curious teens…
Gasps of pleasure from both…
Harry pinned down beneath Draco…
Voldemort's fury spurred him further onward making the others jog to keep pace. Their Lord raged over the mystery that awaited them. Narcissa tightened the grip on the hem oh her dress hoping Draco wasn't doing anything to displease the Dark Lord. She didn't want to see her son being punished not on such a day.
The door flew open. Everyone froze.
A bundle beneath blankets was identified as the sleeping form of Harry Potter. They all blinked as they realized he was the only one in the room. Then they noticed a small round object on the floor beside the bed. It looked suspiciously like…
"About time you got here! Do you know how boring it is down here! I swear the House Elves need to do a better job I can see dust down on the floor!" Draco huffed.
A sneeze followed as Draco inhaled more dust. They all blinked. How had this happened? Lucius and Narcissa were staring horrified at the head of their son. Neither of them knew that the rest of Draco's body was simply beneath the stone and not in another part of the manor like they believed. They were terrified that their only child would eventually die from the lack of having a body.
Severus chuckled beneath his Occlumency shields. The entire scene was hilarious. This made up for Draco rousing him early in the early morning; he would have hated to miss this. The silence descended in the room remained until Draco decided to break it as his patience wore thin.
"Well are you going to get me out or not?"
"Why didn't you call a House Elf?" Lucius questioned.
"I tried!" Draco cried out. "They all shrieked and ran away."
Voldemort recovered from the shock and sudden disappearance of his rage and moved towards Harry curiously. He could assume how it happened (it was obvious Harry was vicious when he wanted to be especially with his new ability) but he didn't know what had caused such a thing to happen. Yesterday when Harry manipulated the Earth he was annoyed that no one would aid him as he got lost in the manor. Could his emotions have triggered another reaction? If so how did he undo it now that he was no longer concentrating on it? Was it a subconscious trick? He wanted to know.
Without even a glance at Draco who was still trying to get attention and help from the adults in the room, Voldemort sat down beside Harry. The child appeared to be deep asleep still beneath his blankets. Had Draco been able to even rouse Harry to begin with?
"Harry, young one, you need to wake up now." Voldemort hissed.
There was no way that he would say that in English at least not before his followers. It would be incriminating enough as it is if Harry repeated it to anyone which he'd better hope he didn't.
The bundle shifted slightly until Harry's head was peering out beneath the folds of the blanket sleepily at them. The entire look was adorable. Harry's hair was even more ruffled than usual and combined with a yawn and sleepy blink of his emerald eyes it made him appear almost childlike or similar to that of a kitten.
"Come now Harry it is time you joined us for Christmas."
"What are you all doing here?"
Hearing the language of the snakes spoken by two Parselmouths sent shivers down the spine of everyone in the room (not that anyone could see Draco's spine). When he wasn't speaking to Nagini, Voldemort almost made the sound sensual like Harry did even more so when they spoke together. It was downright sinful and something they all desired to keep hidden from their master.
"We came to check what was taking Draco so long to wake you." Voldemort replied.
Draco? Harry blinked at them all and then looked around his room. There wasn't any sign of Draco anywhere. What did Voldemort mean by Draco taking so long? He'd never been here had he? Thinking back he had a faint recollection of a blond person standing before him before he disappeared from view and Harry went back to sleep. Could that person have been Draco and if so where was he now?
Severus seemed to sense Harry's confusion and gave him a pointed look before glancing at the floor next to his bed. Slightly confused he leaned over his bed and came face to face with the head of Draco Malfoy. His eyes widened then realization came over him. He had trapped Draco when he hadn't desired to get up. Instead of using magic to get him out of the room like he had intended and leave him alone he had trapped the boy instead.
"Ah… eh, good morning Draco…" he said cautiously, getting a glare in return.
Harry sent Severus a sheepish look. He hadn't meant to do something like that. From the books he'd read this was slightly more advanced than what Voldemort thought he currently should be. He was meant to have no knowledge of how to work his abilities apart from by instinct, according to the Dark Lord. Voldemort was meant to teach him. Harry was blowing their secret. There was nothing for it however. He would need to reverse it.
Knowing the Dark Lord watched eagerly, Harry concentrated before flicking his wrist. The ground beneath Draco shook as it rose back to its original place. Draco huffed and dusted himself off elegantly before ruining that image and launching back into the reason he was there in the first place, Christmas. Everyone gave a suffering sigh. Why did he have to act like a five year old when he was around Harry? At first it had been amusing now it was simply tiring.
"Now that's settled we shall leave so you may get dressed." Lucius said grabbing his ecstatic son and dragging him from the room followed by Narcissa.
They were pleased their son was well but didn't want to remain where the Dark Lord could begin questioning him about what had occurred. It was safer for now just to leave.
Harry yawned and was about to crawl back beneath the covers when he was held back. Severus was holding him by his arm scowling while Voldemort watched from where he was still sitting at the end of the bed. He didn't look too pleased that Severus was touching him at all but what could he do about it? Nothing really, since it wasn't a crime to be dragged out of bed (though Harry would have liked to protest otherwise).
"If I am unable to sleep on this joyous of occasions than neither are you Mr Potter now get up." Severus lectured.
Pouting at his mentor, he received another scowl in return before being literally dragged towards the walk in wardrobe which he had been avoiding entering at all costs. Last time he had entered that monstrosity the night before, he almost lost himself trying to locate a pair of pyjamas. Seriously who thought that clothes actually had an opinion on what he should wear (especially to bed?!) and attacked him to make him choose?
For some reason, they behaved when Severus entered with him. Perhaps they could sense that he had no fashion sense (seriously he had money and yet continued to wear Dudley's rags, need he say more?) and decided to take care of it themselves? He certainly hoped not!
Severus threw some clothes at him which were surprisingly not black. Harry guessed that an entirely black wardrobe was something that Severus liked to be his alone like his billowing robe walk which Harry had tried and failed. He was given a silver dress shirt with black trousers and an emerald green robe.
"Do you have to dress me in Slytherin colours? I am still a Gryffindor!" Harry asked grumpily.
Severus however didn't answer, Voldemort did.
"You will not wear any of those hideous Gryffindor colours whilst in my presence."
Both Harry and Severus rolled their eyes even though Severus agreed with his master on that thought. Now that he noticed, none of his wardrobe contained red or gold. Not one hint of the colour could be found anywhere and that was saying something amongst the numerous clothes they had seemingly stock piled for him. Everything was either in green, blue, silver, grey or black.
Once dressed, Harry and Severus were told to follow Voldemort back to the lounge room where the Malfoy's were waiting for them to return so they could begin the festivities even though no one really celebrated Christmas at the manor. They preferred to take their entertainment elsewhere since their master didn't celebrate the holiday. For some reason however Voldemort had decided they were going to celebrate this year.
Harry knew that it had nothing to do with getting all of his followers together for the day and allowing them to mingle, it was all to do with his Elementals' and showing off their ability. Wasn't it enough that they were forced to endure lunch with every single Death Eater and their children on that day? Nope they had to get up early to open presents which would be from anyone and everyone. Harry guessed it could be worse. Some of the Death Eaters were still in Azkaban.
"Who shall go first then?" Narcissa asked as they returned to the room.
Harry couldn't be bothered to even attempt to ask since Draco was edging his way closer to the pile of presents that sat innocently beneath the tree that had turned up miraculously during the night. He knew that all of his presents would appear at the place that he was staying regardless of whether it was magical or not. What made it even worse was he knew that everyone's presents would be here so if anything remotely embarrassing was amongst the gifts it would be displayed for all to see.
Not for the first time in his life he was cursing Voldemort.
"I believe they should take it in turns." Voldemort's request was an order as usual so they all agreed merrily.
As soon as the words were spoken however Draco lunged at his first present eager to open them. The Malfoy's hardly looked impressed at his reaction unlike Severus and Voldemort who simple looked amused though it was hard to see beneath their masks. Harry however was remembering his first year when he had done the exact same thing with Ron. He'd just been so surprised and yet happy that he had presents that he hadn't cared that he'd acted like a five year old. It made him wonder slightly at Draco's home life before he was an Elemental. Had it been as uptight as they normally were in public?
He was brought from his thoughts as Draco decided to jump forward after unwrapping his present and show Harry. The present was in fact from his parents but instead of jumping on them and thanking them he was bouncing all over Harry who found it odd. It felt like he was comparing the situation to having a little brother who was clingy even though he was pretty adamant that Draco was in fact a month older than himself and taller. That seemingly just proved that the Malfoy's weren't affectionate people in public or at home.
"Harry, don't you think it's just awesome?"
The present was in fact pretty neat. It was a book on any subject titled, "The Keeping Place". All you had to do to use it was write the subject you want on the first page. The ink would then sink in and bring forth any knowledge it had on the subject. The book would then clear itself once closed and be ready to use again the next time it was opened. It was the perfect book for a student and probably one of the few in existence to date since Harry had never heard of it before.
"I like it a lot Draco it will be very useful." Harry said to placate the other boy.
"Great we can both share it then when we need to do homework! Now you get to open one!"
Harry knew most of these presents were probably for him and Draco so he didn't bother attempting to try and get the adults to open a few of their presents first. Sighing he allowed Draco to pull out the largest of the boxes for him. Looking at the card he realized it was from Sirius and Remus. That caused him great concern. They hadn't spoken at all since their time spent at Grimmauld. They weren't very close. So, what had they bought him?
Opening the box revealed nothing more than books on top. Several of them had obviously been chosen by Remus as they were about defence and magical creatures. Harry appreciated the thought really but when was he going to have time to read all of these titles? Draco appeared excited pulling a few of them out. That was when Harry recognized them and choked, hitting Draco on the hand to release the book he'd been holding.
"Harry, what's the matter?" Severus questioned.
However Narcissa was also looking pale at the sight of these books.
"Harry, are these from…" She trailed off.
"Yeah, you might want to take a look at Draco."
She rushed forward, wand out, and began scanning Draco for curses. The other three looked concerned and yet also curious. As one they turned to Harry for an explanation.
"These books could only be from one place since Sirius can't leave the Order's hideout." Harry cringed. "All of these books came from the Black Library."
He might not have been able to say exactly where Grimmauld was but he could tell mention other details in passing. At least then they wouldn't become too angered by the fact he hadn't mentioned it. Yet none of the group appeared all too pleased with this turn of events. The Black Family were considered Dark for a reason and it wasn't their hair. Harry couldn't believe Sirius and Remus had actually touched these books.
"Black has never had trouble with the library before now." Severus muttered.
He couldn't recall an instant where Black had any problem with the house apart from how dirty it was or the memories it held.
"Yeah, that would be my fault. First of all, Sirius never cared about the Black Library. He's never really cared for anything in that house which is why everything looks the way it does. Secondly, well Sirius isn't actually the Lord of House Black. His incarceration meant he couldn't accept the Lordship especially since he's on the run. Then add to the fact that his mother practically gave up on him and that leaves everything to be placed onto me. The Black Family home currently being used by the Order truly belongs to me or it will when I come of age." Harry admitted.
Voldemort chuckled. He couldn't believe that such a worthy place had been found. Though this manor was indeed large, it wasn't magical. The Black Family home would indeed by quite worthy to sustain as a home for his Elementals when his Earth could finally claim it.
"I believe something should be done about the books." Lucius reminded them.
Draco was deemed healthy though his parents would watch him for the next forty-eight hours just to be safe.
"Kreacher…" Harry called.
The slight pop was all anyone needed to know the Black's house elf had answered Harry's call. Of course it was curious that Kreacher had been permitted to leave the house at all. He still had to follow Sirius' demands until Harry turned of age. This was a serious breach of security for the Order that the Dark Lord now knew.
"What's Master be wanting?"
The house elf looked very eager to serve especially realizing he was surrounded by people worthy to be in his master's presence. No longer was he surrounded by Light Loving fools.
"Kreacher, please check these books for curses. I don't want anyone here to become inhibited by them." Harry instructed.
Kreacher snapped his fingers and the atmosphere appeared lighter. Harry dismissed Kreacher and reached to replace the books only to find one last book hidden beneath the rest. The book was titled "Trickster" by the Marauders. The book had been put together by the Marauders and Harry couldn't have been happier to have it. Not because of what lay beneath the cover but because it was another connection to his father. This gift was the only gift Harry appreciated from them.
Severus leaned forward and snatched the book scowling at the authors.
"You had better not use anything within this book whilst you're here." He warned.
Harry smirked. "Does that mean I can use it on certain people at school?"
The slight nod was all he needed for approval. He knew better than to attempt using this on Lucius or Severus. They wouldn't permit something like that knowing who would be behind it. Harry didn't even bother with the note Sirius and Remus had sent with it realizing it wouldn't be pleasant to read all about the Light and why he wasn't spending Yule with them. He threw it away.
The group continued to open presents. The Weasley's had sent him a jumper as per usual that he threw away uninterested as well as several smaller gifts from Ron and Ginny as well as Hermione. He didn't particularly care for their gifts any more knowing they were traitors to him. Fred and George's gift was the only one the held any interest. Numerous gag gifts and pranks were packed into a tiny box. The collection was small but approved by marketing or so the twins explained. They wouldn't do any irreversible damage.
As well as this he collected several other small gifts from other friends such as Neville and Luna. Some Gryffidors had sent him small tokens as well though he couldn't explain to the others why this was. He wouldn't tell them they were a thankyou gift for accepting their refusal to fight in the upcoming war.
Harry didn't pay much attention to what the others surrounding him received as they were obviously not meant for children especially the presents the Dark Lord was receiving out of obligation. All of his gifts were high priced as if all his followers were fighting to be the one to give their master the best gift possible. They wouldn't even be rewarded for it and that made them try harder. Harry guessed that they were all attempting to buy back Voldemort's forgiveness for abandoning him and believing he was actually dead. He almost snickered at the thought. They could be grovelling for a while yet.
Everyone was busy opening presents, everyone except Severus. Harry watched as his mentor sat in his seat a look of acceptance on his face. Numerous presents sat opened around them. Yet Severus still sat with nothing. No one was heading towards him bringing a gift. However Harry knew that Lucius and Severus were old friends and Severus was Draco's godfather. Still he accepted he wasn't to receive anything.
Harry scowled before taking up the present he knew belonged to Severus. He stood and walked away from the Dark Lord to stand beside his mentor. This would be a present he wasn't ever bound to forget. This would be a present none of them would forget.
"Happy Yule, Severus." Harry said handing the gift to him.
Silence surrounded them. Harry watched as his mentor held the present like it would break should he hold it too firmly. The care revealed in his actions showed the others that Severus didn't know what to do with it. Severus didn't simply sit in the corner to distance himself from the holiday. Severus had never really had a Yule holiday spent where he could enjoy it. Harry would be the first to grant him that over his long-time friends.
The gift Harry had given Severus sent them all gapping in disbelief. It was a large storage container filled with Basilisk parts. He didn't even have to guess where he retrieved these from (though he wondered at when he managed to enter the Chamber to get them) and thought it was best not to actually bring it up before the Dark Lord but he loved it nonetheless and knew that this wasn't the entire beast. Since the creature was so rare not many people actually had Basilisk parts to buy and now he had practically an endless supply for life. Severus' eyes were shining.
Harry was delighted to see that Severus appreciated the gift since it had taken him awhile to obtain it. It was impossible to get during the day as he was constantly watched by Lucius, Dumbledore and practically everyone at Hogwarts as Draco dragged him from class to class with a surprisingly bubbly attitude. That left only night to go to the Chamber in the first place. Five nights later and he had enough to fill the container and he wasn't even one eighth of the way through carving the Basilisk up.
Severus motioned for Harry to come to him. Without question Harry moved closer and gasped as his normally snarly professor pulled him into a hug. Everything was silent as Severus hugged Harry who returned it after regaining his wits. Sure it had been a good present but that was it. He hadn't expected to have this type of reaction not that he didn't like it at all. Far from it, he enjoyed having someone who would willingly hug him like this. Sirius and Remus didn't really do anything like this. It was more a pat on the head or a peck on the forehead than anything like this. His other friends only slung arms around his shoulders so he was terribly unused to this. Harry basked in the moment for a while longer before he felt Severus pulling back.
Severus reached into his robes and pulled out a small box before handing it to Harry. "This is my present to you."
Smiling in gratitude, Harry sat at Severus' feet not bothering to realize that they were the centre of attention now that Harry had moved permanently away from the Dark Lord and Draco before the tree to Severus who was further away from the group.
Harry gasped as he opened his gift. The box itself had been small but that hadn't bothered Harry after all he hadn't expected to get anything from Severus at all regardless of their current relationship. Inside was a small circular silver pendant on a thin silver chain. The pendant was covered in engravings that Harry guessed were Runes of some sort. In the centre though was a small emerald the same shade as his eyes. It was beautiful and he loved it.
Knowing what Severus wanted to do he handed it to him so his mentor could place it around his neck. Once the pendant was fastened it fell just above his neckline and would obviously show when he was wearing it. Immediately he turned to his mentor who was watching him with a small smile. Not the first the he had ever seen but it was rare for his Professor to smile in an unknown location.
"What does it do? I can tell that it is not simply an ordinary pendant." Harry enquired.
"It is for protection. The pendant shall protect you from minor hexes and curses such as jelly legs and also doubles as an emergency portkey. Inside the emerald contains my magical signature, when the portkey is activated it shall focus on the magical signature and take you directly to me wherever I am." Severus explained glad to see Harry liked his gift as much as he had liked Harry's. "All you have to do is use its password, which you already know from our discussions and you shall be brought to me."
"If it does all of those things then I'll never take it off." Harry beamed.
It was a touching moment of bonding one that Voldemort didn't like. Standing he glared at Severus who was still watching his Harry and stalked towards them purposefully allowing the Malfoy's a chance to leave before he got violent which they did gratefully. They had enjoyed their Christmas and were more than ready to leave before things got out of hand which with their Lord's temper knew it would.
The instant Voldemort reached the pair he grabbed Harry's shoulder and jerked him up to his feet dragging him across the room and depositing him in an empty chair. Harry had been in shock when he'd felt the hand close on his shoulder. He had never been handled like this before even by the Dursley's so why did Voldemort do it? He came back into focus when he was practically thrown into the chair.
Harry could only watch as Severus was subject to the Cruciatus curse. It wasn't that he was unable to move something told him to remain where he was or he would also be subject to his master wrath as well. Where had his Gryffindor courage gone? He was supposed to save people from suffering in pain and here he was sitting while his mentor and friend was writhing on the floor. Harry knew that it was partly shock that was making him immobile yet that had never stopped him before. It was pathetic and he knew that he should do something. He should help his friend!
"Don't even think about it."
The sudden hiss brought him out of his thoughts. Voldemort while using the Cruciatus was looking directly at him with eyes that penetrated him knowingly.
"This is his punishment and you shall not interfere, little one. I do not wish to harm you like I am him but if you were to move from your place than you shall share his torture."
"What are you punishing him for?" Harry spoke in English not wishing to speak to him privately.
"He got too close to what is mine. Severus should know better than that by now."
Harry knew that it was ridiculous. He didn't belong to anyone and yet he remained where he was seated in submission. This was one of those times he absolutely abhorred having these abilities. He could do nothing for Severus even when he desperately wanted to. The only outcome he could hope for was that Voldemort would stop soon and Severus wouldn't blame him. Harry wouldn't be able to stand it if Severus blamed him for this since he had really come to appreciate his help and guidance.
After a minute Voldemort finally stopped the Cruciatus and allowed Severus to rise to a kneeling position on the floor before him. Harry could see the shivers that Severus was trying to suppress but the only thing that would help him was the Anti-Cruciatus Potion that was at Hogwarts waiting for him. Harry hoped that Voldemort allowed him to leave so he could get it even if that meant leaving Harry alone with him for the remainder of the holidays.
"Do you comprehend now Severus? Harry is mine and you shan't be getting close to him like that. Now you will leave my manor and you won't return unless you are called specifically ordered to do so, do you understand?"
Voldemort practically hissed in English. It wasn't a pleasant sight and Harry could only assume that whatever happened this morning when he thought of Draco and Harry was causing this exact reaction.
"Yes my Lord."
Severus immediately stood and with only a cursory glance at Harry left the room and the manor. However with that one look he had conveyed to Harry a silent message of trust and loyalty. There was nothing in it that said he was furious with him or that he was even angry. The fact was that Severus understood what was happening and accepted it leaving instead of making everything else worse for the both of them. Harry was simply glad that Severus could leave and get the treatment he needed to help with the after effects of the Cruciatus curse. That was what had initially worried Harry so much in the first place.
Harry turned his attention unwillingly back to Voldemort as the door closed behind Severus.
"You and I will spend the rest of the day alone together then seeing as the Malfoy's have left and Severus has been sent away." Voldemort stated not giving Harry any room to argue.
Displeasure instantly fed into Harry. This was the last thing he wanted to do on Christmas which was the main reason he had desired to remain asleep the entire day. Oh well he just hoped that perhaps New Year would be slightly better than this.
Mwahaha! A new chapter. And another shall be out within the next few days. Progress!