Chapter 17

Harry woke up in a strange place… The last thing he remembered, he and Severus were having an argument and the man thrust a gemstone into his hands which transported him here… and he was subsequently knocked out. He blinked and looked around, feeling the thing that he was laying on. It was smooth and scaly. He thought a quick 'Lumos', but… it didn't work.

He frowned and nearly jolted when he felt his 'bed' move. Quickly as he could he scrambled off of it and came face to face with a full grown- "Norberta?" He reached to his neck and felt, realizing that the pendant which would allow his communication with the beast was gone. "Crap… Hey Norberta, it's Harry, remember me?" He asked cautiously, backing away lightly.

The dragon simply huffed and lay her head down. A voice came from behind. "She knows you, else she would have eaten you by now." He said.

Harry spun around coming face to face with Badbane. "Where's my necklace?"

"I've taken it back… You haven't visited Norberta of your own accord, you were forced here, therefore you've shown that you truly don't care enough of your family's safety to-"

"I DO CARE!" Harry shouted angrily. The anger quickly faded to sadness and he lowered his head. "I do care… I don't… I don't know what's wrong with me, or even how to fix it."

Badbane slowly trotted up to the young man and lifted his head. "The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one."

"I'm not insane." Harry growled lowly.

"You aren't?" Badbane asked simply.

"Oh yeh, I'm soooo insane I need a loony bin." Harry retorted sarcastically, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"You are?"

"Don't fuck with me right now, I'm not in the mood." The young man warned.

"I am simply asking for clarification, nothing more."

"You really know how to push peoples' buttons, don't you?" He tried to pull a fierce face, but wound up cracking and falling to his knees. "I can't help it, all I think about… just killing and death and blood and the chase, it's so enthralling." His hands shook as his woes came spilling out. "My mind is just constantly riddled with it, when a student talks out of turn I wonder what they would think if they got a proper beating for it. When another staff member goes and takes one of my slots for something, I imagine how they would like it if I just filled their mouths with scorpions or cricio'd them… I can't… I just can't." He raised his head and looked towards Badbane with pleading eyes. "Fix me."

"There is nothing any human or centaur can do to fix you Mr. Potter." Badbane told the broken young man in front of him. "There is, however, something a dragon can do."

Harry sniffed and jolted up. "Norberta? That's why you wanted me to visit her?" He asked, wiping at his face and looking towards the resting dragon.

"Indeed it is, but without the necklace, telling her the problem might be harder than anticipated." Badbane warned.

Harry looked positively outraged. I ought to teach that blasted centaur a lesson and-

"By the way, you will find that while you are here, you cannot use any magic whatsoever. Only once you step outside of this cave may you use it." The centaur informed him whilst handing him the necklace back then trotting away. "It will disappear the next time you take it off." He called over his shoulder. Norberta quickly positioned herself in front of the cave's mouth and stared at Harry.

(¯`·. Hp/Ss .·´¯)

Alden looked out of a window from his bed. His arm was laying softly across his stomach; any higher and he would risk hurting his wounds again. Both of his hands were bandaged and he could feel either of them thanks to some salve that Poppy had put on them. He sighed as Severus stopped talking. "I told you, I don't remember anything… I was taking a walk in the Forbidden Forest to clear my head, and I got knocked out." He mumbled.

Severus sighed and massaged his forehead. "Why would you choose to walk in such a dangerous area to begin with?" He asked.

"I don't know, it's just where I go!" Alden snapped.

"For the love of… this is just like trying to talk to Potter when he was your age…" Severus growled under his breath.

"Don't call him that!" Alden demanded, sitting up and groaning at the pain in his chest. "He's Harry, he always will be Harry." He said defensively.

Severus wanted to snap at the boy, to yell at him for meddling in others' affairs, but he realized that this was his business, this was the family's business. He sighed and slumped his shoulders. "I've gone so soft." He mumbled before clearing his throat and trying to explain things the best he could. "When I refer to him as, 'Potter', it's normally when I'm remember how he was in school… It's hard for me to associate the child I taught with the man I love. Potter and Harry might as well be two different people to me."

"You still love him?" Alden asked worriedly, his eyebrows going oblique.

"Of course I do, why wouldn't I?" Severus wondered.

Alden quickly lowered his head and swallowed. "Well, when you shoved that port-key into his hand it didn't sound like y-"

"You were awake for that?" Severus asked, slightly horrified.

"Y-yeah… It didn't sound like you felt much of anything for him besides anger then."

Severus sighed once more and rested his hand on the boy's arm. "I was angry with him, yes. I was also worried for you, worried for him, and worried for Teddy. It was very stressful, but he needed to go calm down."

"Where did you send him?" Alden asked.

"I'm not sure… Badbane would know, but he wasn't in when I floo'd to tell him I'd used the port-key."

Alden moved his hand lightly and frowned. "Why can't I feel my hands?" He asked, trying to change the subject.

Poppy tsk'd from a nearby bed that she was making up. "No need to worry about that dear." She said.

"He's going to find out, you can't just keep putting him to sleep, plus he needs his hands to use his wand." Severus informed her.

"Find out what?" Alden asked. He had only woken up the night before when Harry had demanded to know who Minerva had 'let in', so he didn't hear what was mentioned merely moments before.

Severus sighed and flicked his wand at the boy's hands sending a whispered banishing spell towards the wraps. Alden's eyes widened and he swallowed thickly, his body shaking just a bit as he brought his hands up to his face.

He was missing his right ring finger, his left forefinger, and his left pinky. His eyes darted quickly between the spaces where fingers once resided and he took in a shuddering breath, looking up pleadingly and silent towards Severus.

Severus cleared his throat. "We don't know where they went…. Poppy did the best she could to heal the, er, nubs… but without the muscle and flesh there, the bone can't grow with the skele-gro… Miss Granger is researching ways to fix this now."

(¯`·. Hp/Ss .·´¯)

"-so you see my problem…" Harry told Norberta whilst fingering his necklace nervously.

"Young human, I can fix your ailments." Norberta informed him. "It shall come at a price however, one which you will not like."

"Anything, just make it stop!" Harry pleaded. She began to inform him of what was going to happen, however he hastily begged that she just do whatever it was she was going to do.

The dragon nodded her head softly and started breathing very hard causing smoke to waft from her nostrils. She waved her wings lightly to make the smoke gather around Harry. "Breathe it in, dear friend." Harry took in as deep of a breath of the smoke as he could and promptly went into a coughing fit, falling to the ground and nearly choking. "Most of your magic and part of your mind will be erased." Harry's eyes widened and he shook his head no, but she went on, continuing to spew smoke. "As you trained with your wolf friends using magic that too shall be erased. For one moon cycle, you be magically as an infant. After that, your ability will return to its normal state, before you killed your nemesis. You will, however, have to be retaught every charm, hex, curse, and potion, as those will be erased for good until you relearn them. Sleep now, and know that when you awaken, all will be well."

Harry's coughing and wheezing subsided as his eyes rolled back in his head. Norberta nosed the unconscious body and gracefully hooked one of her teeth around his necklace, pulling it off and causing it to disappear. She then picked him up gently in her mouth and carried him out of the cave and towards a sparkling pond in an unplotted bit of wizarding land in the middle of the island they were on.

She hovered over the pond, dropping Harry into its center and ensuring that he floated on his back, then went to the water's edge and stuck her snout in. Slowly but surely, the water started warm up as her forced fire raised its temperature, and as soon as the bubbles surfaced she stopped heating it. She wrapped her tail around his mouth and nose and drug him under the water as it turned from a beautiful glittering light blue to a menacing dark purple. She only held his body underneath for a few seconds, then pulled him from it and rested him on her back.

The purple water changed color once more to a dark red similar to blood. It churned and rolled angrily and the dragon lifted the young man's body once more by the feet using her tail and dunked him into the water three times. Finally, soaking wet and barely breathing, she surrounded Harry once more with her smoke. When it dissipated, she pulled him on to a fairly smooth rock and roared, activating the magic stored within that was a port-key designed by Badbane.

Harry popped in to the Hogwarts infirmary soaked and dripping with red water that was too thin to be mistaken for blood. His body fell from the air on to the floor in a heap, startling Severus and Alden from their one-sided conversation. Poppy quickly rushed over and pulled him on to a bed just as Kingsley walked into the room. "Severus, why hasn't your friend Evette come to our appointment?" He asked, barely glancing towards the wizards lying in the beds.

Severus narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "I don't know, and as you can tell, my son and my husband are lying here in dire need of care. I don't think they need visitors at the moment." He said with a warning tone.

Kingsley gave his own stare and nodded once before leaving the ward to go speak with Minerva again. Severus looked to Poppy who was fussing over Harry. "What the hell happened to him?"

"For Merlin's sake, Severus, every time you're in here I have to remind you to watch your language. You'd think after some 30-odd years you would know better by now… As for your question, I have no idea what happened to him, give me time!" She snapped.

The medi-witch quickly cast a few diagnostic spells on him to find that everything that could be physically wrong with him… wasn't. He wasn't sick, he wasn't exhausted, he surprisingly wasn't half drowned, and he wasn't even slightly bruised. The only thing that appeared to be wrong was that he was unconscious. She went for the old fashioned route and felt his forehead, checked his pulse, and again, everything seemed fine. When she peeled open his left eye to check his pupils with a lumos from her wand, she jumped back at what she saw.

"What is it?" Severus asked, standing up. Alden was clenching what fingers he had left and leaning in towards Harry's bed, having not said a word since his bandages came off.

"His eyes… they're… I don't know! I've never seen anything like it." She replied, her voice quivering.

Severus went over to Harry's still form and lifted an eyelid, jolting in shock. Instead of moving back, however, he leaned forward. "How is this even possible?" He muttered. "It looks like the color is- is boiling?"

Sure enough, Harry's emerald green irises were replaced mostly with the red that he normally sported when 'out of it'. The color, however, appeared to be moving and it was as if Severus were staring into a boiling red potion with green specks and a black orb in the middle. His pupils were responsive to light, as they contracted when Severus cast his own lumos, and went back to normal once the wand was taken away.

As each second passed a tiny smidge more green showed up amidst the swirling angry red, and for a brief moment Severus' mind went towards the Christmas holidays which were starting tomorrow. He watched in slight fascination as the red seemed to literally boil out of the young man's eyes, releasing Harry's lid every few seconds so it wouldn't dry out.

What a Christmas Present… A son who is depressed thanks to losing his fingers, a husband who is out cold for no known reason after returning from something a blasted centaur that he didn't even know had set up, a broken hearted set of Weasleys thanks to Bill, and a Minister of Magic who was surely plotting something, only they had no idea what. Yes, this was turning out to be one hell of a Christmas.

A gentle snow started to fall, the drifting flakes catching Severus' eye. He glanced out of the window and watched in silence as Harry slept and Alden fell into slumber himself. Closing his eyes, the man made a wish for the first time in years. He wished simply that his family, close and extended, would feel better. He wished that Hermione would dig up some sort of cure for Alden's missing fingers. He wished that Luna would show up with Teddy so he could-

"You want to hold him?" Luna's voice rang out behind him.

Severus was startled, but he didn't show it in the least. He faced the girl and a soft smiles graced his lips. "Yes, please." He said, holding his arms out towards the sleeping boy. "You're getting a bit heavy to hold all the time, aren't you?" He said softly, brushing the toddler's hair from his face. He glanced up to the blonde temporary babysitter. "How did you know?"

Luna simply shrugged and smiled, then skipped off with the excuse that she didn't want to leave Dudley alone for another night, as he had floo'd her with the news that little Lily was trying to crawl around their carpet and was being generally adorable and she just HAD to see it. Dudley was a bit of a Dadzilla.

Severus let out a sigh and lay Teddy down with Alden, as he wasn't sure what kind of state Harry would wake up in. As if being summoned by his thoughts, Harry groaned lightly as Severus was tucking Alden's arm around Teddy. The man went over to Harry's bedside, a worried look, "Harry?" He asked softly.

The younger man lolled his head to the side as his eyelids flew open. He looked around and sighed with relief. "The infirmary… Thank Merlin." He looked to Severus and smiled briefly, however that smile was soon replaced with a worried look. "What's wrong?"

"Your left eye." The Slytherin told him. "It's rather… odd." He conjured a mirror for the young man to look in to.

Harry jumped back a bit and put his fingers to the corner of his eye. A small sliver of the iris was red, just the one bit. "Oh, we need to floo Hermione." He said suddenly, looking back towards Severus. He rapped lightly on his own head and smiled a bit. That smile, however, quickly formed into a frown as he remembered all of the senseless killing he had done over the last two years, all of the animals which he needed none of their meat, Preece, everything. The only one he didn't regret to some degree was Muertof. He lay back down and curled up on his side. "I can't use my magic." He said.

Severus was startled by the admission and even more worried by Harry's actions. "Why?" He asked simply, not know what else to say.

"For a month… I'll have the magic level I had as a baby. If I use any magic, no matter how small, I'll never get it all back…" Harry explained.

"What happens after the month?" Severus asked, worried for his husband's sanity.

"My magic returns to the level it was at right before I killed Voldemort… I… I'll have to re-learn every last spell and potion that I knew." Ugh, he felt utterly useless. They were right at a peak in everything, especially danger. He really couldn't afford to lose his magic for a month, especially since he was supposed to be teaching with the magic to begin with.

"Harry… I think that it's best you stop teaching." Severus said lightly, wondering if his husband would snap.

"I think you're right." Harry said sadly. "I can't very well teach when I have no access to my magic and don't know any of the stuff I am supposed to be teaching…" The young man sniffled lightly and squeezed his eyes shut. "I guess I'll tell Minerva and head back to the manor tonight." He said softly.

"You're not… angry?" Severus asked as carefully as he could.

"A little… at myself." Harry admitted. This would be a long road that he had to travel when this month was up. He wondered briefly if the red sliver in his left eye was a permanent thing, or if it would leave as well.