Rating: M for slash (homoerotic relationship)
Warning: This is a Harry Potter/Voldemort romance set during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. Read at your own risk.
Author's Note: This is the final chapter of this story. Thank you so much for following the story all the way to the end, and thank you for all the reviews and favorites and encouraging words along the way.
I'm going to take a little break now (*looks at the stack of work that has been ignored for a while with a sigh*), but I will be back in a month or so. I am working on a new Harry/Voldemort romance entitled To the Waters and the Wild - the first chapter will be posted next month!
~Chapter 20: Surrendered~
Harry pushed the door to Dumbledore's office open. "What in Merlin's name-?"
He stood for a moment in the doorway and stared at the wild chaos that had once been the headmaster's workspace. Delicate silver instruments lay shattered among shards of glass and torn books. Half of the headmaster's desk was gone, apparently blown up by a curse, and papers and quills were scattered everywhere. The Pensieve was lying on its side, and silver swirls of memories were evaporating from their broken vials. Fawkes had taken refuge on the highest shelf next to the Sorting Hat, and he contributed to the general disorder by throwing old leather-bound books down at the headmaster at intervals. The Sorting Hat was awake, and it appeared to be egging the bird on. Some of the portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses were covering their eyes, while others were cheering.
Dumbledore himself was curled up against the half-splintered desk, surrounded by torn pieces of parchment, remnants of morocco-bound volumes on the Dark Arts, and crushed lemon drops. His face was white, and his half-moon spectacles were nowhere to be seen. The magical ropes Tom had cast on him were shattered, but he was still crouching on the floor. His long white hair was in disarray, and there was an expression on his face that Harry had never seen before. The headmaster looked... frightened?
Grindelwald stood before the headmaster, still dressed in his thin prison rags. His gaunt face was distorted with anger, and his dark blue eyes flashed.
"You lied to me, Albus!" He grabbed the front of the headmaster's robes and forced the old man to look into his face. "Why?"
Dumbledore tried desperately to avoid his glance. "It was necessary, Gellert. It was the right thing to do." His voice sounded curiously weak, almost pleading. "It would have been so easy to love you. Merlin knows it would have been the easiest thing in the world. But sometimes one has to make a choice between what is right and what is easy."
"And some people," said Grindelwald through gritted teeth, "when given a choice between something that is both right and easy on the one hand and something that is wrong and painfully difficult on the other, still manage to choose that which is both difficult and wrong, out of a perverted sense of duty. How did you manage to convince yourself that it was wrong to love your best friend, Albus?"
He kicked the upended Pensieve moodily and glanced around at the shattered vials that had contained Dumbledore's memories. "You seem to have a rather extensive collection of bottled memories, Albus. Are these uncomfortable recollections you no longer wanted to keep inside your head? Rather a relief to remove them and bottle them up sometimes, I suspect? Was I among those memories you chose to put away?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes. "How can I get you to understand?"
"Understand what?" Grindelwald tightened his grip on the headmaster and shook him like a rag doll, his voice rising to a furious roar. "That you let me live for a century with the belief that the one person I could ever love had no feelings for me? We could have been lovers all these years, instead of enemies."
"Don't you understand, Gellert-?" Dumbledore's voice was a whimper. "You were a dangerous man. You chose a dark and perilous path, a path I could not follow. Should I have let you lead me into the darkness as well?"
Grindelwald looked at Dumbledore for a long moment. "Lead you into darkness? Who knows what path I would have taken, had I not been alone, Albus? Perhaps there would have been no Dark Lord Grindelwald, if you had been with me. Who knows what I would have become, had I known that someone loved me?" He touched Dumbledore's face lightly. "And who knows what you would have become, had someone loved you back?"
Dumbledore met his glance for an instant, then turned away, a hectic flush on his cheeks. "It's too late for that, Gellert. We became what we are, you and I. What does it matter now, so many years later?"
"What does it matter?" Grindelwald's voice trembled. "We both paid for your lie with a century of misery. How many more years do you want to waste? Surrender, Albus! For once in your life, surrender to your true feelings. Leave your castle and your books and all your schemes behind and come with me, while we still have a few months or years left to live."
A shaky little laugh escaped Dumbledore. "Are you mad, Gellert? Come with you? Why would I do such a thing?"
Grindelwald leaned closer. "Because you love me in your heart, even now, Albus. And because I know that when you finally dare to look into my eyes, you will surrender."
"I will not surrender," whispered Dumbledore. "I am not afraid of you."
Grindelwald laughed. "Yes, you are, Albus. You are more afraid of me than anything in the whole world." He brushed Dumbledore's cheek. "Look at me, Albus. Look at me if you dare."
And slowly, ever so slowly, Albus Dumbledore turned his face and looked into Grindelwald's eyes. He did not speak for a very long time. Then he lifted his blackened hand and buried it in Grindelwald's hair. His bright blue eyes filled with tears, and suddenly Harry felt as if he recognized the seventeen-year-old boy in the old man's face. Dumbledore's lips moved, and he whispered so softly that it was difficult to hear him: "I surrender..."
When Harry came out of the headmaster's office, the crowd gathered outside had grown even larger.
"What is happening?" Ginny pushed her way through the throng of students. "Are you all right, Harry? What is happening to the headmaster?"
"I'm fine." Harry found Tom in the crowd and squeezed his hand. "And perhaps the headmaster will be, too, in the end. I believe he has just decided to retire from his post and spend some time with an old friend."
"Is it true what they are saying, that the headmaster doesn't have long left to live?" Ginny's brown eyes were full of worry.
"Well, his hand..." began Harry, but Tom interrupted: "His hand would be just fine if he allowed a competent wizard with a proper wand to take a look at it. No offense, Severus."
Snape, who was standing a little apart from the others with his arms around Lily, didn't even turn around. "Oh, who cares?" he muttered into Lily's hair.
Ginny stared at Tom's handsome pale face and dark curls. "Who on earth are you? You almost look like... like Tom Riddle, the boy from the diary, but you can't be... Can you?" She glanced down at Tom's hand, which was caressing Harry's.
Tom shrugged and put an arm around Harry. "It's a very long story."
"And a rather complicated one." Sirius, Remus and James elbowed their way through the crowd. They had long since abandoned their schoolboy disguises, and Harry smiled as he saw the three familiar faces.
"Professor Lupin?" Ginny's eyes widened. "Back at Hogwarts? And... and... Sirius Black?" Her face turned white. "But you are dead. You fell through the Veil at the Ministry."
"As I said, it's a complicated story, Ginny." James beamed at her.
"Ha-Harry?" Ginny gazed at James in utter bewilderment. But..." She looked from James to Harry and back to James.
James laughed. "No, I'm not Harry - I'm his father. We met earlier, remember? We played Quidditch together, and afterwards I asked you out, only you said no... Oh, that's right, you wouldn't have known that it was me, because of the polyjuice potion. Sirius and Lily and I couldn't come into the castle as ourselves, since everyone thought we were still dead, so we had to pretend to be someone else. I told you my name was Jim Prongs, and Lily used the name Calla, and Remus and Sirius were Lionel and Cygnus."
"You are Jim Prongs? And you are Harry's dead father?" Ginny's voice was a whisper.
"It's all right, Ginny." Ron appeared by her side now. He patted his sister's arm gently. "Hermione and I thought it was odd at first, too. But Voldemort turned into Tom Riddle and decided to go back to school and date Harry, you see, so he became Draco Malfoy, and he brought Harry's parents back from the dead, but his Mum disappeared and it turned out that she was trapped in Dumbledore's youth, and..."
"Oh, that didn't come out right. Sorry. I'll try again. See, Voldemort didn't kiss Blaise Zabini, because he was bringing Cedric Diggory back from the dead instead, and now Harry's aunt and uncle are house elves at Malfoy Manor, and Professor Snape will marry Harry's dead mother, and..."
"Perhaps you should let me explain this to Ginny instead, Ron," came Hermione's voice nearby, but Ron went on:
"And Grindelwald was alone in the tower, but Sirius turned into a dog on a broom and killed the phoenix, and the boy who was a hole in Sirius' tapestry told them that the Lady was sleeping, but Dumbledore had imperiused himself, and..."
"Ron?" Ginny buried her head in her hands. "Just stop, okay? I'm getting a headache."
She glanced up and studied James' and Harry's faces for a long moment. "I don't understand any of this, but... But you really do look just like Harry, James, except for your eyes. And the scar; you don't have the scar, of course... But your hair even sticks up in the back in the same way, and you have the same smile." She whispered: "You are Harry, except that you are a little older, and you look at me just as I had hoped that he would look at me one day... But how can you be his father when you only seem to be about ten years older than him?"
"Oh, I haven't aged because I've been dead for the past fifteen years." James smiled, but when he noticed the expression on Ginny's face, he added quickly. "But I'm not a ghost or anything. I'm just me. I'll explain it all later."
"And you are no longer married to Harry's mother? She will really marry Professor Snape?"
James grimaced. "I'm afraid so. It's a terribly odd thing for anyone to want to do, of course, but she seems to like him for some reason."
Ginny regarded James for a long moment. Finally she said: "Perhaps... Perhaps we can play Quidditch some time, James?"
James' face split into a wide grin. "Quidditch? With you? Yes, I would like that. And perhaps we could think of a few tricks to play on Severus some time? Together?"
Ginny smiled up at him. "Yes. Yes, we can do that. You should come to my house and meet my older brothers over the Christmas holiday, James. I think they may have a few ideas for us."
September 1st, 1997:
"I have missed this bed!" Tom flung himself down on the carved four-poster bed in the head boy's quarters. "It's just as soft as I remembered. Here, you've really got to feel it for yourself." He pulled the Hogwarts head boy down on the bed next to him and wrapped his arms tightly around him.
The head boy laughed. "I think we need to be a little more discreet than this, Tom, now that you are a Hogwarts professor."
"Oh, all right." Tom pulled the crimson velvet curtains closed around the bed. "But the door is locked, and no one can see us through the windows, anyway. Well, except for Peeves, perhaps, and he wouldn't dare spy on us. He gasped and darted away like a frightened rabbit when I met him on the stairs earlier."
Harry laughed and buried his face against Tom's neck. "That's not what I meant. I meant that it may not be entirely appropriate for the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor to be in the head boy's bed on the first day of school."
"Oh, nonsense." A searing kiss pressed against Harry's mouth. "I've even cleared it with the new headmaster. He is a remarkably open-minded man, Severus, once you do him little favors like raising the dead. He agreed that our relationship is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are not in any of my classes. And I don't think you need any further education in Defense Against the Dark Arts anyway, my love, since you are already so very capable of leaving Dark wizards utterly defenseless... I even destroyed my own horcruxes just because you asked so nicely. Well, except for the part of my soul that will always dwell in you, of course. I do think that means you owe me a new pet, though, in exchange for Nagini. Perhaps for our anniversary-" Tom's kisses trailed down Harry's throat. "Severus was surprisingly agreeable when I spoke to him; I think his wife must have been a positive influence. Or maybe it's the pending arrival of the baby that has softened him. He even agreed to make your mother's werewolf friend the baby's godfather, he told me. And wait till you hear this: Severus even promised to consider you for the position of flying teacher next year, when Madam Hooch retires."
"Really?" Harry sat up in bed. "Snape would hire me? As a Hogwarts professor?"
Tom laughed. "Why so surprised, love? You have always been good on a broom, and now that you have mastered the art of flying without a broomstick as well, I think you will make a dazzling flying teacher. I do think the new headmaster makes much better hiring decisions than the previous one. The new potions professor is brilliant; she even managed to find a way to prolong old Dumbledore's life for many, many years... Although why your mother would want to do that is still a mystery to me. Your strange soft-heartedness seems to run in the family. I hope your little brother or sister doesn't catch it."
"I'll make sure she does."
Tom grinned. "And Severus finally hired the only Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher capable of lifting the curse that had been placed on that position all those years ago."
Harry kissed him on the lips. "It was your curse, Tom."
"Precisely. Which is why it made so much sense to hire me, finally, quite apart from my brilliant qualifications. Though I can't imagine how many people Severus had to imperius at the Ministry to get them to agree to this... I really think Hogwarts will thrive under its new headmaster and his well-qualified staff. The new Divination professor is a distinct improvement over the old one, although I'm still not sure whether it is correct to refer to her as a new professor. Apparently, she has taught here for over seventy-five years."
Harry smiled and shook his head. "I'm still having a hard time understanding that part, Tom. Apparently, Professor Snape and you and I are the only ones who remember that Sybill Trelawney used to be the Hogwarts divination teacher."
"Mhmmm." Tom's hands found Harry's skin under his clothes. "I mentioned it to McGonagall at her retirement party, and she laughed so hard that champagne squirted out her nose. She remembers Sybill very vividly from a Divination class they both failed back in their sixth year. The idea of Sybill Trelawney teaching Divination struck her as very humorous. Apparently, we have returned to a world where Sybill has been working as some sort of advisor at the Ministry of Magic for years, which explains a great deal about the current state of the economy."
Harry brushed Tom's hand away. "I like taking Divination with Madam Dumbledore. She is a little odd, perhaps, but very kind, and her visions seem very genuine. But the curious thing is that even Dumbledore himself seems to think that his sister has been teaching at Hogwarts for decades. He doesn't seem to recall her death at all."
Tom kissed him deeply. "Perhaps the seventeen year old Albus Dumbledore actually did listen to something you said, after all, Harry. He may not have been able to change who he was, but at least he was able to save his sister."
Tom began to unbutton Harry's shirt.
"Tom, you can't..."
Tom put a finger against Harry's lips. There was laughter in his silver-grey eyes. "Of course I can, love."
"The welcoming feast is about to begin."
"Then we'll be fashionably late."
"But I'm the head boy! I'm supposed to be all responsible now."
"Harry," muttered Tom against his lips, while his hands brushed over Harry's bare skin. "Surrender..."
And Harry did.