Castling the King
Disclaimer: They aren't mine... I just like to play with them like barbie dolls.
A/N: Okay, I haven't actually written any HP fiction in more than a year, but I realized that I have a bunch of fics that I never posted on this site and figured I should finally upload them. This was originally posted on an HP site.
Castle (v.) To enclose or place in, or as in, a castle; Chess. To bring the castle or rook up to the square next the king, and move the king to the other side of the castle. Also said of the king.
The walls are white and bare; the institutionally functional surfaces are charmed with cushioning spells, protected from the madness of the resident who dwells here. Me. There is a pervading scent of disinfectant potion in the air that is almost suffocating in its cloying sterility. I know this scent just as I know these walls.
I do not know how long I have been here or how long I will be forced to remain. I do not know much of anything beyond these four walls. What I do know does not seem significant.
For instance, I know that my name is Harry. I know this because it is what all of the healers insist on calling me. They could be lying to me, I suppose, but the man who talks to me in my head always calls me Harry too, and he's been around longer than they have. He's been around longer than I have…or at least longer than I can remember these days.
They tell me that I had a life before I came here. I believe that. I sometimes have flashes of memories, at least I think they are memories, and in those flashes I am not in this place. Sometimes, I'm at a school in a castle, sometimes in a cupboard. Either way, I always feel as trapped as I do here. I often think that if that was before, maybe I'm not so bad off here. At least they feed me and make sure I make it out to the garden when the weather permits.
Sometimes I dream of freedom, though. I dream of flying. On a broom, a motorcycle, a hippogriff. I love those dreams. I love the feeling of the wind in my face and the freedom of the earth and all its woes far below. I hope for those dreams when I go to sleep at night, even though I know that the black mist will eventually find me. The floating black mist with the red eyes always finds me when I fly in my dreams. The healers say it's the Dark Lord. Voldemort. They say he's dead now. I killed him. Like everything else, I don't remember that.
It is odd how the healers believe that it is okay to tell me about the war and everything that happened in it, but will not tell me a bloody thing about my life or the people in it. There must have been someone who loved me, but I have never seen or heard from them. I have no visitors and the healers won't tell me anything. Maybe none of my loved ones survived the war. Maybe that's why I cracked.
I know I cracked. That's something else that I know for sure even without any of the trappings of the hospital where I'm currently residing. I know because I can feel it. My whole body seems to quiver with energy that I have no idea how to control. It's magic. The healers say that when my mind snapped my magic went haywire without the mental control I always used to contain it. Huh. Of course they used big words and a lot of Latin, but I know what they meant.
It is almost funny watching them, with their ingrained notions of order and sterility, scramble to contain my magic when it goes all wonky. It is chaos and they cannot abide, nor understand, chaos. One time, Glen, the daytime orderly on this floor, was making the bed while I took a shower. I slipped on the wet tile and started to fall on my ass. Before either of us knew what was going on, I had made everything in the room float up to the ceiling, including myself and Glen. And I had no idea how to get us down from there. It ended up taking three hours for the healers to reverse the effects of the accidental magic. In that time I was quite content floating around the wing. It was the closest I've come to really flying since I woke up here. I really want to fly.
Healer Jenkins, the Master Healer for this wing, decided that I would not be allowed to do anything for myself after that. For three weeks, I had some person or other with me at all times. They wanted to do everything for me, like I was a pampered two-year-old. When one of the healers on temporary rotation actually issued orders for the staff to literally wipe my ass for me, I lost it. This time the loss of control was not fun or funny for anyone present. They had to move me to a new room because the old one was irreparable. I think they called in some curse breaker or something, but as far as I know that room is still unoccupied. They don't try to wipe my ass or my nose anymore, though.
Every morning I spend an hour with my counselor. That's a mind healer. If this was a muggle hospital they'd call her a psychiatrist. She's alright, I suppose, but she just doesn't get it. She wants to talk about my childhood, something I don't remember. She brings in pictures of people I don't remember and reads me newspaper stories about my life. I don't remember those either, but I have a feeling that they aren't anything like the reality of what my life was like. It's like trying to learn how to impersonate a person you've never seen or heard before. How does she expect me to remember anything if all she has to offer are such impersonal facts.
According to the books and articles, I destroyed Voldemort the first time when I was just a baby. I was sent to live with muggle relatives because my parents were dead and my godfather was a murderer. I came back to the Wizarding world when I was eleven and started at Hogwarts. I prevented Voldemort from returning for several years, and then was witness to his rebirth in my fourth year. Of course, the public refused to believe that at the time, and only came around when Voldemort himself showed up at the Ministry. After that, I spent every second training and fighting, even though I was only fifteen at the time.
Somehow I doubt that is what happened.
Healer Jennalin Smythe, who insists that I call her Jenna, is a very nice woman. She is, however, quite naïve. I don't remember anything, but even I know that the media is full of shit and that history only tells one side of a story. I don't need pictures and newspaper articles. I need someone who knew me. I've told her that. I've asked who some of the people in the pictures with me are, but she won't answer. She always turns her eyes away from me and looks sad. Every person who knew me then can't be dead, can they?
I was sitting under the grand old oak in the garden when I noticed the man watching me. I'm used to people staring at me. If it isn't healers, it's other patients or visitors. I'm a fucking celebrity, after all. This man was different. He wasn't looking at me like I'm some sort of fallen hero to be feared or pitied. He didn't look at me like a particularly odd case like the healers do.
I just sat there and waited, letting him watch me, watching him in return. He was a short, squat man with a receding hairline, but he wasn't as well. Magic. He was tall and dark and had a hooked nose. I recognized the man beneath the glamour from the many photos Jenna had shown me. Severus Snape. But Severus Snape was dead, that much they had told me. He was a traitor to the cause and had murdered Albus Dumbledore, they said. I shook my head, not quite trusting what my own eyes and magic were telling me. Was I THAT crazy, seeing hallucinations? First voices, now…
I stopped watching him, the unanswerable questions giving me a headache and making my magic pulse in waves that had the staff watching me nervously. Instead, I concentrated on knitting a blanket for the coming winter. I really hate the sterile gray blankets they give us in the hospital, and knitting was one of the few activities they encouraged. Jenna said it was a good way to keep my mind occupied. More like it was a good way to keep my hands occupied, since it didn't take much mental power to count stitches.
That voice. I knew that voice. Even without the wavering glamour to give him away, I knew that voice. I couldn't remember him or his voice, but I KNEW him. The voice in my head.
"Professor Snape," I whispered without actually looking up. Seeing the wrong face on him would just make the headache worse. At least if I avoided looking at him, I could imagine the correct face and body.
I'm sure that if I would have looked at him I would have seen surprise. Then again, perhaps not; he was always very good at hiding his emotions. I startled myself with that knowledge.
He hesitated before he spoke, "How did you know?"
"Your glamour keeps flickering," I said, keeping very careful count of my stitches. "I think it's just me though, 'cause no one else seems to have noticed. It's giving me a headache."
"I apologize," Snape said quietly. I imagine he did not wish to be overheard. "It is a necessity. How are you?"
I shrugged. "I feel fine. My memory could be better. The voice doesn't sound off quite as often. And they are afraid of my magic going wonky again."
"Hmm," Snape murmured. "I have spoken to your healers. They believe that I am a specialist from Australia here on consult. It is imperative that they continue to believe so if you wish to be released."
I looked up then and blinked at him. Was he serious? He could help me? But what about all that stuff the staff and healers kept telling me about him being a traitor?
"Why should I trust you?" I finally asked. "They tell me you killed Dumbledore. And aren't you supposed to be dead?"
Snape smirked and it looked so odd on that face that kept flowing from familiar to foreign that I had to look away. Back to my knitting for now. "They all believe I was killed before the final battle with the Dark Lord. They were almost correct; however I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. You may not remember, but I assisted you in defeating the Dark Lord. I gave you vital information that changed the outcome of that battle."
"I only have your word," I muttered, pulling yarn as I tried to correct a dropped stitch. "And you didn't deny murdering Dumbledore."
"No, I did not," Snape said rather muted. "Because I cannot deny it. I can, however, offer an explanation; though I don't know how much good it will do if you can't remember anything."
"Either I trust you or I don't," I nodded, pulling a ball of green yarn from my bag to begin a new stripe on the blanket. "Fine. Since you are the first person I have met in this place that actually forces some sort of memory out of my head, I'll trust you. To a point. If I go with you, I want a wand. My wand."
"Agreed," Snape said quickly, as though he had anticipated such a request. I imagine that he did. "I have a meeting with your healer now to discuss my findings. If he agrees, we will be leaving tomorrow. They will believe that I am taking you to a private facility in Australia for intensive treatment."
"Where will we be going, really?" I asked, looking up at him again.
"My home," Snape said. With a curt nod, he turned and walked away. In my mind's eye I could picture him with billowing black robes snapping into place behind him.
"Can I fly?" I ask as soon as we stepped away from the front doors of the hospital.
Snape snorted but did not answer.
"No, really," I insisted, not willing to be put off on this subject. "I want a broom. I want to fly."
"I have no brooms," Snape said, his face a frown of distraction as he searched for a quiet alley to apparate discretely.
"Oh," I mumbled, disappointed.
"There are other ways to fly," Snape said, his frown turning upon me for a moment before pulling me into an alley.
"Oh." I was cheered by this thought. "Will you teach me?"
"I would not have mentioned it if I was not willing," Snape drawled. "But first we have other things we must do. Among them is to get you some sort of wardrobe that does not scream that you have recently been released from a sanitarium."
"Okay," I grinned. I wasn't sure how I felt about things like clothes and fashion before, but I had spent a lot of time in the hospital looking through fashion magazines and idly imagining what I would buy if I ever got the chance. Then a thought occurred to me. "How will I pay for the clothes? I'm legally insane, according to Wizarding law, and can't access my vaults."
"As your legal guardian I have access to your vaults," Snape told him. "Or Healer Augustus Braithwaite does. In any case, funds will not be a problem."
He took hold of me and we suddenly appeared in a strange market place. I could tell it was magical because of the various cauldrons at one stall and magical animals at another, but it wasn't anyplace I had been before. Or so I assumed. "Where are we?"
"A gypsy camp in Belgium," Snape said curtly. "I will handle all negotiations and you will not speak unless necessary, do you understand?" I nodded, too happy to be out and about to argue the point. The voice in my head told me to be patient; I would get what I wanted, even if I had to be sneaky to do it. I was almost a Slytherin, after all, it said. I wasn't sure about that, but I went along with it.
We walked along the carts and stands and I looked at the strange and exotic wares on offer, but Snape was impatient to get to our destination and finally took my hand and tugged me along behind him. We reached a blue tent with a red and purple striped awning and Snape ushered me inside. It was much larger inside than out. Magic.
It's strange how hard it was for me to get used to things like that. I knew about magic and had apparently been in the magical world for years, but I was still surprised by the things that magic could do. In this case, the tent held a huge store, with row upon row of clothing and other necessities. I had expected all the clothes to be as exotic as the spices at the stall next door, but was surprised to find that they carried a wide variety of clothing, including many Muggle styles and some British robes.
"Madam Marinske," Snape greeted the withered old woman who was seated behind the counter embroidering a phoenix on the lapel of a fine midnight blue silk robe. When she looked up, she smiled at Snape with recognition.
"Severus!" she greeted him with a toothless grin. "I was not expecting you so soon. You usually only come once a year."
"Yes, well, I have a friend who needs a complete wardrobe and your usual discretion," Snape said. Madam Marinske nodded and went to the front of the store, closing the tent flap and setting out a closed sign. Then she set wards around the tent to prevent any intrusions. Snape, after thanking the woman, dropped his glamour finally and settled down in the seat he conjured. I looked back to the woman and noticed her watching me.
"I, um, need some clothes," I managed to say. The voice in my head laughed.
"Of course," she smiled and continued to wait for me to say something intelligent. I could hear Snape in my mind saying it would be a long wait. The voice was definitely Snape.
"Oh, okay, I have some ideas about what I'd like," I said nervously. I dug in my rucksack and pulled out some of the photos I had collected over the months. "I really like some of these styles. And I think I would look best in darker colors, jewels tones, because of my fair skin tone. Do you have anything like this?" I showed her a picture of a dark haired model in designer denims and a black leather sport coat with an emerald green silk shirt.
"I can make anything you want," Madam grinned at me. "I do like a challenge. Let's see some more of these pictures and we'll decide what you need and what will look best on you."
For an hour, she and I looked through the photos and discussed what would work and what wouldn't over tea. Then she got up and began collecting robes and outfits from the four corners of the store and ushered me into a fitting room to try things on. After settling on a few things, she began tailoring them to fit perfectly. The final stage was to select underclothes, socks and shoes. When it was all over, I had spent several thousand galleons (despite the favorable exchange rate and reduced pricing of the foreign market) and had stuffed my rucksack with packages shrunk to fit. There were even more items that she would be forwarding on after she made or tailored them.
Snape stood up after signing the bank slip and thanked Madam again before replacing his flickering glamour.
From Madam's tent, we headed for the potions stalls. Snape bartered with several merchants to get the ingredients he wanted at the prices he demanded. I watched as he negotiated, silent as requested, and was amazed to see how animated he became when engaged in the bargaining. His eyes lit up and for those brief moments I understood why he came here rather than to some Wizarding settlement. It wasn't just the anonymity of the place, it was the atmosphere.
After a while, my stomach began to rumble and Snape bought gyros, for us to eat while we walked among the colorful stalls. The tender lamb was so much better than anything we got at the hospital and I savored every bite.
"You said we are going to your home," I said as we continued to walk, even after finishing our meals. "Where is that? Is it the Snape family manor, or something?"
Snape snorted in what I was coming to recognize as amusement. "The Snapes had no manor. Nor did they have any manners. My father was a Muggle and a drunk. If my grandparents had ever had anything to leave to him, he would have just pissed it all away. No, we are not going to the house where I grew up. That place is little more than a shack. We are going to my home. The house that Albus Dumbledore left to me when he died."
"You killed him, but he left a house to you in his will?" I was confused. Of course I was often confused.
"I killed him because it was necessary to win the war," Snape said coolly. I could tell this was not a good subject, but he went on. "I killed him because he demanded I do so. There are pensieve memories I could show you, but they won't mean much to you unless you can remember what Dumbledore looked like."
"I know what he looked like," I said. "They showed me pictures in the hospital. That's how I knew who you were. They showed me pictures of other people too, but…"
"What about them?" Snape asked.
"Well, Jenna, my mind healer, told me about some of my friends and showed me pictures of them, but they never came to see me or find out how I was doing. I just…Are they all dead? Is that why they never came?"
Snape looked torn for a moment before his normal mask of neutrality reformed. "No, they are not dead. Most of your friends survived the war. They have chosen not to see you."
"Why?" I asked, unsure if I wanted to hear the answer.
Snape paused again, formulating his response. "I have been in hiding since the end of the war, so I could not say for sure, but I believe that they may have become afraid of you. Before you were taken to the sanitarium there were several incidents where your magic was out of control."
"Did…did I hurt someone?" I asked.
"I do not believe so. If you had, I'm sure I would have heard."
I didn't ask any more. I really didn't want to know anymore than that. It was a lot to take in. My friends had all abandoned me because of something I could not control.
Snape's house was nothing like what I had pictured. Upon learning that it had belonged to Dumbledore, I imagined that it was a quaint old cottage with a few quirks and eccentricities. I imagined it to be warm and cozy and inviting. What I found instead was a giant chess rook.
It was a dark stone tower on a rocky crag, probably a keep, situated to be able to see encroaching invaders from every direction. I could make out the crenellated parapet through the mist that seemed to enshroud the stronghold. At the base, there was a single door. There were no windows, only embrasures near the top where wizards may have once stood to defend the castle. It was old, I could tell, from the weathering of the stone and from the style of the architecture. Later castles would have been much larger and more elaborate.
"This is your house?" I asked in awe.
"This is my home," Snape corrected.
As we approached on foot, I realized just how large the tower was. It had to be at least six stories. And it was massive in circumference as well. What had seemed like a small single door from the base of the hill was actually a huge door, almost ten feet high, and made of huge wooden timbers. Snape waved his wand, dropping the wards momentarily, and we went inside, through walls five feet thick.
The inside of the castle, like the tent at the Gypsy camp, was nothing at all like the outside. The door opened into a huge living room area. There were no walls to separate rooms, only furniture arrangements that grouped chairs and sofas into cozy areas conducive to conversation; one area was set up with a massive dining table, another with a chess table, and in a small nook near the fireplace was a small wet bar. The room was large enough to host a party for close to a hundred people comfortably. Across from the entrance, a stairwell lined the curved wall with stairs going up and stairs going down.
I learned later that the kitchens were in the cellar, but the house elf, Missy, hated when anyone invaded her lower level. Instead, Snape led me up the stairs to the next floor. On that level, there was a library that took up the entire floor. The next level was sectioned off into Snape's study and bedroom suite. The fourth level had two more bedroom suites. The fifth level contained Snape's potions lab. Finally, we reached the top of the tower. There was nothing on the sixth level. It was just a huge empty room.
"What is this level supposed to be?" I asked. In my relatives' house, what I could remember of that time, they had always used the attic for storage, but this wasn't exactly an attic, was it? It was also the only level with any windows. The embrasures I had seen from the outside were actually good sized windows from the inside…more magic…and they circled the room, letting in the last of the day's light as the sky lit up with color. There was a narrow ladder to one side that presumably led up to the roof.
"It will be whatever you make of it," Severus said as he stood beside one of the windows and watched the sun drop over the horizon. "When the time comes, you will decide what you want to do with this level, and I will help you make it yours."
I looked at him, his profile in stark relief against the light of sunset. He gave nothing of his emotions away, but there was a certain set to his shoulders that spoke of tension and a grief that I could not understand. I had no point of reference.
"Why?" I asked. Snape looked at me and raised a single eyebrow. "I mean, this room, helping me, getting me out of the hospital…why would you do any of this for me? Aren't you afraid of me, like everyone else?"
Snape snorted and frowned. "No, I am not afraid of you."
"Because I know what they do not," Snape said. "Your magic can be controlled, even if we never fix the jumble that has become your mind."
"And the rest?" I asked, not quite sure what to make of his answer and therefore happy to move the conversation on to other things. "Why help me?"
"Because Albus left this castle to both of us," Snape replied. "Many years ago I made a vow to the headmaster to protect you no matter what. I was friends with your mother when we were children. When she was targeted by the Dark Lord, I turned to the headmaster to try and save her. I failed, but I made a vow to Albus then to do everything in my power to protect and care for you. That included being a spy for many years. It also meant taking the headmaster's life. Now, it means trying to heal you."
Snape straightened and walked to the stairs. He paused at the top and looked back at me. "You may choose either of the suites on the fourth floor for your own. Settle in and unpack. Dinner will be served in an hour."
I settled into life in the tower quite easily. I was used to being locked away, so living with Snape was actually a relief of sorts. He actually encouraged me to go for walks on the fens or along the cliffs. He made few demands of me but supported most of the things I tried to do. He told me I couldn't learn to fly until we had my magic under control, but the feel of the wind off the sea, with the cliffs dropping off below my feet, was almost as good. Almost.
I spent time each day in the library, relearning the magical theory I had once known. Snape was as good as his word and got my wand from the hospital, but I had no control of my magic and couldn't even perform a simple Lumos spell. It would do no good to practice spells without regaining some sort of control of my magic. So I began searching for ways to do just that.
Snape, in the meantime, spent most of his time in his potions lab, doing research and working on experimental potions. He made a point of spending each evening with me, sitting together in front of the fire and talking about the things I had learned that day and often playing chess. Sometimes I would knit while he read. I found that I was content with my life, even without my magic. It was very peaceful, almost domestic; however, while the voice in my head remained mostly silent, the dreams of flying would not go away.
I know what I was told about Snape. One of the orderlies had been very forthcoming about his experiences while a student at Hogwarts. The man was a bastard, to no one more so than Harry Bloody Potter, but in the tower, he was quiet and respectful. He didn't treat me like a mental patient, even though we both knew that I was, and he didn't berate me for my mistakes, though he wouldn't let me anywhere near his lab. He said I was a menace with potions before I lost my memory and he wasn't taking any chances now.
The day he asked me to call him Severus was the day I found the book on bonds. He told me from the beginning that I would have to find the answer myself, because he wasn't going to shove his ideas down my throat. He wanted me to find the information and to decide for myself if it was something I was willing to do. I didn't really appreciate why until I found the book.
I was in the library that morning searching once again for the key to controlling my power, without much success when I came across Magical Bonds of Ancient Britain by Cord Shacklewrit. I read through the index, as was my habit, before turning to the section entitled "Bonds of Control." When I reached the chapter, I realized that these bonds were referring to controlling the subject rather than the magic and was just about to close the book in defeat when something jumped out at me. "The Copula Obsequium, when necessary, will enable the master to control the magic of the submissive. Historically, this was a means of ensuring a slave's loyalty and obedience; however, contemporary practices of sexual submission have caused a resurgence in the usage of this particular bond."
A master and slave bond, which allowed the master to control the magic of the slave, and was also used for sexual submission. I was reeling. It was the only reference I had found in the weeks I had been at the tower, but it was so…outlandish!
I read further into the chapter and discovered that it was not unheard of for the bond to be used as a means of controlling the submissive's magic. It was also very risky. By giving myself over to Snape, I would be entrusting not only my magic to him, but my very life. He couldn't order me to jump off the cliff, but he would have control over every aspect of my life for as long as the bond remained. I was pleased to note that the bond was not necessarily a permanent one. It could be broken either by the Master or by the removal of the master's mark by an outside source. In other words, Snape would have to mark me in some way as his possession. I would not be able to remove the mark, but anyone else could. If things went bad, I could always run away and have someone remove the mark for me. I would end up exactly where I started, but at least it was a way out if I needed it.
I read and reread the information in the book and then I began a search for other texts that might have information on the bond. I didn't realize just how engrossed I was in the hunt until Snape found me hours later.
"You are late for dinner," Snape said coolly. "I have been waiting for you for almost an hour. And since you missed lunch as well, I assume that there is something the matter."
I looked up from the book I was reading and gave him a grim smile. "I found the bond."
He was silent for a moment, just staring at me with those dark, unfathomable eyes. "I see. In that case, we should discuss the matter, but first we must eat. Come along."
The meal was a largely silent event, which was not unusual since Snape was a largely silent man. What was unusual was the tension that had invaded our normally comfortable companionship. Until I felt its lack, I hadn't even realized how fond I was of our undemanding camaraderie.
After dinner, Snape led the way to the sofa in front of the fire and poured drinks for each of us. He handed me a snifter of brandy and we each stared into the dark amber liquid for long minutes as we warmed the drinks with our hands.
"You knew what the bond would demand," I finally said. "That's why you wanted me to find the information myself, so that I could make up my own mind about it."
He did not deny this, instead he said, "Have you reached a decision?"
I wanted to shout at him. How could he be so cold and callous about the whole thing? Didn't he have some opinion, some feelings? Surely he couldn't want to be saddled with a wizard with a cracked mind and wild magic?
"What do you want?" I asked, as calmly as I could. "I know you have had more time to study all of this, so tell me what you think."
"You must decide what you want on your own," Snape told him. "You must be completely willing, with no reservations, for the bond to work properly. My thoughts and feelings on the bond do not matter in the least where your decision is concerned. All you need to know is that I am willing."
I snorted in disbelief before taking a long sip of my drink. The fire burned down my throat and warmed me from the inside out. As I sat and sipped I went through all of the information I had gathered that day. Could I trust this man so completely? Hadn't I already, though? I had left everything and everyone behind when I walked away from the hospital with him. Everything I knew about this man told me not to trust him, but I had taken one look at him and done just that. This was just one more step in the journey that began under the old oak tree in the hospital garden.
"I am willing, as well, Professor," I finally said. "No reservations. I trust that you will protect me in the same way you have already done."
For the first time in my memory, Snape smiled at me. It was a small smile, his lips barely lifting from their usual frown, but it was a smile nonetheless. It made my stomach flutter.
"In that case, I do believe you should call me Severus."
On the roof of the tower, above the floor that I had yet to make my own, was at one time a sentry post. From there you could see for miles in every direction. The night of the ritual bonding, that is where we went. It was a cloudless night, but the moon was new and so it was pitch black except for the blanket of twinkling stars. For some strange reason those stars made me think of Dumbledore.
We were sky-clad, naked before the heavens as all the ancient rituals seem to require. I was happy that summer seemed to have finally found us and the night air was pleasant against my bare skin. The air seemed alive up on that roof, on that particular night. I don't know if it was the magic in the air or if it was anticipation, or what, but it felt glorious.
The ritual was simple. Severus painted runes all over my body using his own blood. Then he chanted an incantation while he marked me, placing a collar around my neck with the Snape family crest through the small ring in the front. Finally, he fucked me.
I hadn't been sure how I would handle that last part, but it didn't really matter for the ritual. As long as I was willing, I didn't need to enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find that Severus was quite a considerate lover and made sure that I did enjoy the sensations his hands, mouth and prick created in and on my body. When he stroked over my prostate for the first time, I began to understand why men enjoy anal sex. I was seeing more stars with my eyes closed than with them open.
That was it. One simple ritual, just under two hours time, and I was owned body, soul and magic.
It wasn't so bad, being owned; Severus was quite careful of his possessions. I think that came from a childhood where he lacked the finer things in life, where eating pub food was a luxury rarely afforded. If he took care of his inanimate possessions, then he was doubly protective of me.
Neither of us realized just how pervasive the bond would be, how much we would change as the bond took over and transformed our companionship into something new and different. Our nights before the fire changed as I felt compelled to sit at my master's feet, rather than beside him on the sofa. There was no order, it simply became more comfortable for me to kneel than to sit unless directed to do so. I could not eat without his permission, but it became a natural thing for him to feed me from his plate. The first time he noticed what he was doing I think he was startled, but that soon wore off and it felt right to both of us.
Much of our days passed in the same manner as before, though Severus was careful to instruct me on exactly what I was to accomplish each day to appease the bond. He brewed while I studied, but now I was able to use my wand and my magic. The old spells that I had known before came back to me faster than either of us could have anticipated. I was up to NEWT level spells before a month was out, and the power levels were phenomenal, according to Severus. I finally began to understand why everyone was so afraid of what my magic could do. It was amazing to feel that power flowing through me, instead of being stunted and withering.
I had the power, but Severus had the control. Without his consent, I could perform no magic. Without his consent, I was as helpless as ever. But Severus never withheld his consent, nor did he lord his control over me. It was almost frightening how easily we both fell into our roles. I had no memory of what happened before the hospital besides brief flashes and unexplained urges; that didn't mean I had no knowledge of the type of person I was before. I had been told the stories. I would have never been happy taking orders and submitting myself to another person's will. At least I didn't think so.
The nights were amazing. I moved into Severus' room and he fucked me every night. I'm pretty sure I was straight before the bond; I know I only ever dated witches publicly. Severus, though, was a master in the bedroom, literally and figuratively. His naturally dominating presence made our nighttime activities erotic in the extreme. I loved hearing his baritone voice order me to suck him or tell me all of the dirty things he was going to do to me. I loved the feeling of being restrained both by a command and by bonds. While he was careful to never take things too far, he pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could handle and I found that even when I thought I had reached the end, I wanted more.
I wanted the spankings when I had misbehaved. I wanted to be told when to come. I wanted to be used and then cherished when the heat of passion had burned itself up and left only a smoldering ember of contentment. I wanted everything we had together and I couldn't imagine our life together any other way.
My first flying lesson was a disaster. I could understand why we hadn't gotten along as a teacher and student; Severus had no patience for explaining things and I had no ability to concentrate on important details when I just want to reach the desired goal. Two afternoons we spent barking and sniping at each other before Severus refused to ever teach me anything again.
Instead, I spent time reading the theory behind flying and began trying on my own. The trick was to partially transfigure yourself into mist and then use certain wordless spells to compel yourself where you wished to go. It was extremely complicated and was rarely used except by the most powerful wizards or Dark wizards who used Dark magic to simplify the process. As I did not wish to cheat in that way, it took me weeks of study and practice to learn how to control the different spells all at once and propel myself forward (or up, down, left, or right) while still maintaining the transfiguration so as not to plummet to the earth.
The first time I got it right, and I mean really right and not just hovering a few feet above the ground for a few seconds, I felt like the whole world was laid at my feet and I had the freedom I had always dreamed about. There was no red eyed monster trailing me this time. I leapt off the top of the tower and felt the wind whipping at my face. I was the air and the sea and sunshine. I became the birds who fluttered nearby. I was everything and nothing all at once. I was free.
I thought I would feel let down when I returned to the tower, back to earth and the daily cares that awaited me. Severus was standing by the parapets watching me with a rare half smile, and suddenly I was glad to be returning to earth. Freedom was nice for a bit, but what I truly wanted was the warmth of those arms around me, keeping me safe. He took me into his arms the second I touched down, whispering how proud he was of me and kissing me until I felt I was soaring in a completely different way.
Time is relative; it is measured in relation to the people, things and events around us. Therefore, in the tower, much like at the hospital, time meant very little. I was content with life and I think that Severus was as well. He smiled on a regular basis. Or at least he almost-smiled frequently.
We were in hiding, but as time passed, we worried less and less about being discovered. We took trips down to the French Muggle village a few miles away. We sometimes went to the Gypsy market place, though it changed locations regularly. I loved those times we got to go out and see new people and places. Being in the hospital or the tower, I'd never had a chance to see anything of the world. While we were still careful not to be seen by British wizards, our life seemed to be somewhat normal in many ways.
Thinking about it, it had to have been five years that we lived that way, but our utopian life wasn't to last forever.
I wasn't a prisoner, no matter what some people may think, and I often went on errands or took walks alone. Severus allowed me as much freedom as I could want, even if I was technically his slave. That day I went to the Muggle village to buy paint. I had taken up a new hobby and Severus had encouraged me by paying for lessons at the Adult School in town. I was currently working on an abstract piece incorporating the shapes and colors of the crags beside the tower, but had run out of burnt umber. Looking back, it doesn't seem like much of a crisis, but at the time… Severus was busy with an experiment and waved me off when I asked him if he wanted to come along.
The day was gorgeous. It was a bright early spring day, much too warm for Early March, but all the more welcome for its rarity, especially after the long hard winter that had preceded it. I took my time, walking down from the tower to the village, enjoying the sunshine and the early blooms that were just starting to blossom. Once in town, I went about my business cheerfully, greeting familiar faces and stopping in at the confectioner's for a pound of the peanut butter fudge Severus liked so much and denied himself so often. I thought a little treat might lure him out of his lab long enough that we could have a picnic lunch near the cliff.
I never should have been in that store, and later I would come to regret straying from my chosen course that morning, but just then all I cared about was doing something pleasing for my master, my lover, my friend, Severus.
It wasn't until I was on the walk back to the tower that I felt like something was amiss. I walked steadily and glanced over my shoulder, but never saw anything out of place. The deserted road was silent and empty. I told myself that I was being paranoid, but I hurried my steps anyway.
I didn't mean to stop and turn. I knew better. I knew that no one should know me here. I knew that I had to be prepared for anything. Severus had drilled those lessons into my head a thousand times. But I did stop and I did turn just in time to see the flash of light of a spell as it hit me in the chest. After that, everything went black.
I woke up with an aching head and a queasy stomach. Whatever spell was used on me had done more than just knocked me out. I opened my eyes just a slit, unsure of who or what might be there with me, but I found that I was alone in a cozy blue bedroom with windows and lacy curtains to let in more cheery sunlight than I could stand, even without an aching head.
The first thing I did was look for my wand. It was gone, just as I suspected it would be. The second thing I did was check the door; it was locked. As I stumbled back to the bed, I reached for my collar, needing the comfort it provided. It too was gone. Bloody hell!
"We couldn't let you keep that horrid thing on," a feminine voice said from the doorway, causing me to spin around. "You looked like someone's dog. It took us several hours to figure out exactly what it was and how to remove it, but you don't have to worry about being enslaved any more."
While she spoke, she carried a tray of tea things to the desk by the window. I eyed the door, trying to gauge my chances of making it out before she noticed. Not good. Impossible, even.
"Who are you?" I asked, hoping that talking to her would distract her enough to let her guard down. I already new the answer from my long talks with Healer Jenna. This was Hermione Granger, my one time best friend. I assumed that if she was here, that Ron Weasley couldn't be far behind. From what I gathered from Snape, they married shortly after I was committed to the mental ward at St. Mungo's.
"Oh, Harry, do try not to be so obtuse," she scolded gently. She turned to look at me after arranging the tray to her liking. "I know your healers told you all about me. I must say that I'm a bit hurt that you don't trust me. Why didn't you come to us when you left the hospital? You had to know we would help you."
"I had to know?" I asked, completely dumbfounded at her lack of common sense. "Why would I trust you? Why would I search you out after you abandoned me at that place for months?"
She looked stricken, as if I'd slapped her across the face instead of asking a completely valid question as far as I was concerned. "You know why we couldn't come there."
"Again, you make presumptions," I muttered. "I didn't even know my own name when I woke up in that place, what makes you think I would understand your convoluted reasons for abandoning me?" She started to speak, but I cut her off. "Why did you bring me here? Why did you kidnap me? You want me to trust you, but as far as I can tell, you've got me locked up like a prisoner."
"You aren't a prisoner," she said tearfully. "Ron and I just wanted to take care of you. He's gone to get Mum Weasley, by the way. We were both positive that you would want to see her after everything that happened last time. Anyway, when Bill saw you, he acted without thinking and stunned you. He brought you here. We've decided that you should stay here with us. It has to be better than living with that quack who took you from St. Mungo's."
I stared at her in total disbelief. "That 'quack' has helped me more than you could ever imagine. You do know that I had to be willing to wear that collar for it to have been placed around my neck in the first place, don't you?"
She looked a bit uneasy now. "Well, that is what the literature said, but with you being a bit…"
"Crazy?" I supplied helpfully.
"Well, um, yes," she mumbled before taking a deep breath and plowing ahead. "Anyway, you weren't in your right mind, so I'm sure that removing it was for the best. You'll see."
"Did your research also explain that the collar you so blithely removed was the only way I had to control my magic?" I snarled at her, feeling all of my anger and frustration welling up inside of me. "Did your precious books tell you that without my collar, I'm just as dangerous as I was when you and your husband dumped me in a sanitarium because you were afraid of my magic? Or maybe you just couldn't be bothered to help me yourselves. What's changed? What is it that I have that you want? Money? My 'quack healer controls my money. Friendship? I think not, or else you might have tried to see me at least once in the THREE YEARS since you locked me away. So what do you want? Absolution? It won't be forthcoming in this lifetime!"
The witch looked afraid. Good, I thought, she ought to be afraid. It was her fault that my magic was beginning to go all wonky again. It was her fault that I was stuck here, far away from Severus without a wand, without my collar. She was crying in earnest now, but I felt no pity for her. My magic was swirling and tingling through me in ways that I could barely remember it having done before. But, like the voice in my head that I now recognized as my inner Snape, I recognized this power too. It was the power that had defeated the darkest wizard of our age. It was the power that Voldemort had feared, and now this witch feared it as well.
Just then, the door opened again, this time admitting two redheads: Ron and Molly Weasley. They took in the situation and Ron raised his wand in my direction. I almost laughed. No matter what he tried to throw at me, in those moments it would not touch me. I knew it, and the fear in his eyes told me he knew it as well.
"Oh, Harry," Molly cried, her sorrow cutting through me like a knife. This was the woman who had comforted me when Cedric died. This was the woman I had thought of as a mother, until…
In a flash, it all came rushing back to me. Memories ran through my head like a film at fast speed. And suddenly, I knew why they had abandoned me. I knew why they had tried to bring me back here, as well.
"I'm sorry, Molly," I told the older woman. "You know I would never have hurt you if I had been in my right mind."
She nodded and gave me a small smile, "I do know that. There is nothing to forgive as far as I'm concerned."
"Oh there is," I disagreed, "but I don't think I'm the one who needs forgiveness."
Ron looked up sharply, and Hermione let out a sob. "You remember?"
"I do," I confirmed gravely.
"What's this?" Molly asked.
"Will you tell her, or shall I?"
Ron looked miserable, but sucked up his courage. "It was entirely our fault, mum. Harry's magic being out of control, his memory problems, all of it."
"Shut up, Ron!" Hermione hissed, her tears having suddenly dried up.
"No!" Ron shouted. "I've let you tell me what to do for too long! You said we needed to find a way to increase Harry's powers, so I helped you. When that stupid ritual went haywire and he couldn't control his magic, I let you convince me that an unknown mind charm would cure everything, and when that messed up as well, you said sending him to St. Mungo's was the safest option for everyone. But it wasn't right! Harry was our friend! I refuse to do this anymore!"
There was a deafening silence in the room.
"Thank you Ron," I whispered. I looked around at the three people in front of me and suddenly felt tired and deflated. "Where's my wand and collar? I'm going home."
"No!" Hermione screamed. There was madness in her eyes that I recognized intimately. "You can't leave! Have the perfect solution! I found another ritual! You'll never have to beg for your magic from that quack healer again! I can free you!"
"No more rituals!" Ron shouted. "No more bloody miraculous answers! You were wrong, Hermione! You fucked up! Stop compounding our mistakes!"
"Don't you understand Ron?" Hermione asked, desperation coloring her shrill voice. "He's a sexual slave to that man!"
"So?" Ron shrugged. "If that's what he chooses, if that's what makes him happy, then good for him."
"It's SICK!" Hermione shrieked. In a last ditch effort, she raised her wand towards me. Before she could cast anything, before Ron or Molly could react, my magic flared again. This time, I could not hold it back. The wave of pure power shot out of me and slammed into the deranged girl, sending her flying across the room and into the wall. She slumped to the floor, unconscious.
Again, silence fell over us all, until Molly spoke softly to her son. "She's not well, Ron. You'll need to get her help." She left the room without another word.
Ron nodded sadly, and then looked at me. "I know we can never go back to the way things were…before, but I want you to know that I really am sorry. I never should have let her convince me to do any of those things. For what it's worth, I'll forward all of the information about the ritual we used on to you. Maybe it can help you and your healer."
I nodded and accepted the wand and collar from Molly, who had just then returned. "I don't know that I'll ever be able to trust you again, Ron, but I do forgive you. I was just as willing to go along with Hermione's ideas as you were back then."
Ron gave a dark smile at the memory.
"Why didn't you ever come to visit?" I asked, just inside the doorway, my back to them.
"Hermione said the healers forbade visitation," Molly said.
"She was afraid that you might remember just how angry you were with us, even if only subconsciously," Ron explained. "It would have been odd if everyone else went but not us, so she came up with that lie."
Without turning around, I nodded. I was still hurt and still angry, but I understood.
"Please, don't try to find me. I'm going home, and I know you have an idea where that might be, but… If I want to see any of you, I'll write."
I left the room and the quaint little house without waiting for a response. Once outside, I breathed deeply of the fresh air and fading sunshine. I looked down at the collar in one hand and my wand in the other. I didn't think I would need either of them again. I closed my eyes, pictured our castle on the hill, and disappeared.
Severus was waiting for me upon my return. He was on the parapet, looking out over the land, watching for me, pacing and—I could tell even from that distance—swearing. I smiled. He may never declare his undying love for me, but I knew in a hundred little ways that it was true. He loved me. And I loved him.
I knew the minute he spotted me. His entire posture changed from one of worry and frustration, to one of anger. He leapt from the top of the tower and flew to my side, the first time I had seen him fly since that awful night when George lost his ear during the war.
"Don't you ever scare me like that again!" Severus raged. It lost its effect, however, as his arms wrapped tightly around me as though he would never let me go.
"Never," I promised, holding on just as tightly.
We made love that night, to reaffirm our love, to reassure each other that we were both there and not leaving anytime soon, and to declare our feelings in the only way either of us knew how. It wasn't until the next morning that we got around to explanations and questions. I told him everything, how I had been snatched, the conversations and arguments, getting my memory and control back, Hermione's insanity…
"Why did they commit you to begin with, though," Severus finally asked, his arm comfortingly around my shoulder as we snuggled on the sofa in his study. "I heard rumors of minor incidents of uncontrolled magic, but nothing that might have convinced the Healer's Board at St. Mungo's to involuntarily commit the Savior of the Wizarding World."
"After the war was over, Ron told me what they had done," I said, remembering that awful confrontation. "We were at the Burrow and I was livid. I'd already had some problems keeping everything together, but, like you said, those were minor incidents. This time, with Hermione yelling at me and Ron just looking miserably at me the entire time, my anger took over my magic and exploded. The Burrow was completely destroyed. Ginny and Arthur were hurt when the roof collapsed on them. Ron and Hermione were sent flying through the walls of the house and landed about a quarter of a mile away, pretty banged up. But Molly…well, Molly wasn't hurt physically. She'd just lost Fred and Percy and then her home was taken away from her and her family endangered once again. She was devastated.
"I hid out at Grimmauld Place for a few days, until Hermione and Ron came around," I sighed. "I didn't even try to stop them when they raised their wands on me. I was defeated in spirit, if not in body, and didn't care anymore what they did."
"And that spell is the one that caused you to forget everyone and everything?" Severus asked.
I nodded. "It was supposed to give me greater control of my emotions," I laughed humorlessly. "Instead, it reacted poorly with the original ritual and caused me to lose my mind."
"You are free now, though," Severus said quietly, cautiously.
I turned in his arms, and could read his uncertainty in his eyes, though his face remained as passive as ever. I nodded. "I am free of their mistakes. You gave me strength and grounded me so that I could heal, and so that when the time was right, my magic could overcome the obstructions their fumbling attempts to help created. I am free to choose how I want to spend my life, and who I want beside me as I live it."
I handed him the collar. He took it from my hand and looked into my eyes, questioning me without words. I nodded. He solemnly placed the collar around my neck. The magic of the bond had been broken, but the symbolism was the same: I belonged to Severus.
He gave me a delicate kiss, smiled that almost-smile that I had come to adore, and said, "What will you do now?"
I smiled back. "I think I'll finally make the sixth level mine." He arched his brow in silent question. "If I'm serious about my art, I really should have a proper studio, don't you think?"
"I think, brat, that it is time that we went flying together," Severus said as he stood up and pulled me up to join him.
I grinned at my lover, my master, my healer, my world. "I would like that very much."
I was once locked away in a hospital to protect others and to protect their secrets. Then I was locked away in a castle for my own protection. I once thought freedom and safety were opposites that could never be reconciled, but now I know differently. I am free, and that freedom allows me to choose the safety of my castle, my king, and my love.