Disclaimer: HP and Co, belong to J.K Rowling not myself.
A/N: Special thanks to my beta drnic for getting this back to me soooo fast. I'd also like to dedicate this chapter to Silver Lining's biggest fan a FB follower of mine as well as a fellow author Matt M (SSDSnape)
A/N: On a side note this is probably the last real chapter of Silver Lining. There will be an epilogue for sure though so keep an eye out for that. All loose ends will be tied up!
Chapter 20: The Great Escape
Harry fiddled nervously with the cuff on his brand new, rather fancy, dress shirt. He felt Severus' calming hand on his shoulder but even the man's presence wasn't enough to completely stop the small tremors that were over taking Harry's still thin limbs.
"It will be fine," Severus said, his voice low and soothing as if he were speaking to a spooked kitten, which in some ways he was.
"Fine?" Harry's voice took on the high-pitched tone of hysteria as he stared up at his adoptive father. "You call going to meet Voldemort fine?" he hissed. "He's gonna kill me, he's gonna kill you, he's gonna...mph," Harry cut off as Blaise very gently clapped a hand over his mouth, stifling his panicking.
"It will be fine. Severus knows what he's doing," Blaise said though the Italian teen was scowling slightly. Severus had informed him that he would not be joining the pair in their meeting with The Dark Lord and he was not pleased about that fact.
Harry made a muffled noise of disagreement though he still couldn't speak because of Blaise's hand.
"Harry," Severus crouched slightly so he was looking straight into Harry's emerald eyes. "Everything will be fine. Yes this is a scary moment, for all of us, but I have the utmost faith that things are going to work out. I will be with you and I won't let anything happen to you. Nor will anything happen to me. While he may be insane, The Dark Lord sees the advantage in making this agreement with you. He will not kill you nor me if it means he jeopardizes his chances of winning this war" Severus explained softly. He had said the same thing repeatedly over the last few days as they prepared for this meeting but it seemed Harry needed to hear it one more time. Finally Blaise's hand fell away and Harry tossed his arms around his Father's neck, seeking comfort one last time before the meeting. Blaise stepped back, allowing the two a private moment before coming forward and hugging Harry tightly.
"I'll see you two when you get back," Blaise said, kissing Harry's brow before moving away and letting the two men finish their preparations.
"I'll have hot chocolate waiting for when you get back," Blaise said, needing to offer something. Even though it was the height of summer, comfort food and drink would be needed and what was more comforting then hot chocolate? Severus shot Blaise a grateful look as he rose to his full height hand still resting on Harry's shoulder.
"Ready?" he asked his son, taking the small squeak Harry made as a yes. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Severus took a moment to compose himself before leading Harry outside past the anti-apparition wards. The only way to get to The Dark Lord was via apperation through the dark mark.
"Turn into Silver," Severus told Harry, his tone soft. "It will make this a lot easier," he added. Apperation was generally uncomfortable but when it was directed through the mark it was excruciating. He couldn't imagine doing it side long with a worried Harry. Silver would be much more cooperative, just like the first time they had gone to see the Dark Lord.
Nodding in understanding Harry quickly donned the guise of the silver Geoffrey's kitten slowly turning cat and waited patiently for Severus to scoop him up. Chirping contently as he was deposited inside Severus' pocket, specially designed for him though he was getting far to large for it.
Shaking his head at the antics of the kitten, Severus took a moment to focus and then, suddenly, with a loud crack, he was gone, leaving just the warm summer evening and a worried Italian teen behind.
Landing with another loud crack, Severus took a moment to school his features before he slowly let Silver free, placing the kitten on the ground.
"Change back," he ordered softly. After a moment's hesitation, Harry soon stood where Silver had, his hair slightly disheveled and his collar askew but besides that, the boy was fine.
Taking a moment to straighten the teen up, Severus made sure they were both composed before he stepped forward, a hand on Harry's arm as he lead him through the ominous front door and inside the foreboding Manor that the Dark Lord inhabited.
"Master is waiting in the meeting room," A squeaky voice sounded to Severus' left causing him to tense slightly and causing Harry to let out a shriek and jump half a foot in the air. Mentally cursing house elves, Severus tried to calm Harry down before he nodded to the elf, indicating that they would be there in a moment. Once again taking a moment to compose himself and make sure Harry was doing alright, he was doing better then what Severus had expected, the pair made their way down the quiet, dark hallway towards the meeting room. It was odd, being here without death eaters, without the normal screams and chaos that filled these hallways. Sometimes blood would be spattered about but today none of that was visible, no jeering Bellatrix Lestrange, no bloodied muggles or muggle borns, and no noise. It was eerie and Severus drew Harry closer to himself as they continued to walk down the hallway.
Finally after what felt like an eternity to Harry, Severus was knocking rather politely on a black, polished wooden door. Harry had a moment of wild hysteria as he pondered the polite knocking, who would have thought one had to knock politely to greet the Dark Lord. It seemed odd to Harry, like one was going to meet the Head Master or a lawyer or something normal like that. Not that Dumbledore was normal but the action was. Shaking his head to clear the thoughts, he returned his attention to the matter at hand just as a serpentine voice called out for them to enter and the large, double doors creaked open. This was more what Harry had expected as they walked into the room. When he had been here before as Silver he hadn't paid much attention to his surroundings, having spent the majority of time in Severus' robes. The room was bleak looking, large and black with what appeared to be old blood on the floors and walls. It was a circular room with no chairs beyond on large, throne like monstrosity placed on a dais in the middle of the floor. That was where Voldemort was seated, his feet bare, peeking out from beneath his black robes.
"As Harry, Severus welcome," the man rose, arms spread wide in greeting. "Have a seat." He gestured in front of him where two thin, wooden chairs popped up along with a table. Harry goggled for a moment before he was steered into his seat by Severus' strong hand.
"My Lord" Severus inclined his head, knowing he didn't need to prostate himself as he normally would, they were here as equals, well as equal as one could be with the dark lord.
Once everyone was settled and Voldemort had called for tea, all of which was serving to confuse and bother Harry even more. The Dark Lord drank tea? Harry had always just assumed he drank, well he wasn't sure what he drank but it wasn't as normal as tea. Sipping his own tea, which had been throughly checked by Severus much to Voldemort's amusement, "I like the killing curse Severus, not poison." Harry settled into the completely surreal experience his mind still not fully processing what was happening.
"Shall we begin? I have extremely simple terms," Voldemort finally said, setting his own thin, china mug down. "All I require is for you, Harry, to leave England. I want to win this war and I know Dumbledore has plans for you, plans to use you against me. I am not, despite what some may say, insane enough to believe that killing you would win me the war. It would rally your friends, this country against me. Instead I want you to walk away, abandoned England and any who remain, and let me win." The man's eyes flashed red as he spoke dreaming of the world he would build. Harry bit his lip, he wanted to leave wanted to be free but could he abandoned everyone to Voldemort?
"What will you do? Kill everyone?" Harry whispered, he was scared but determined which made Severus rather proud as he looked at his son.
"No" Voldemort hissed, Harry half expected a forked tongue to snake between his dry lips.
"I do not intend to kill everyone, just those who stand against me. This who cannot accept the new world I intend to create. I will not lie to you Harry, people will die but not everyone and you will be far away, free, living the life that you deserve to live," the man said a slightly sadistic grin on his face. Harry looked at Severus, contemplating his options as the man he regarded as his Father, his mentor, looked back at him with nothing but love in his eyes. Heaving a small sigh Harry nodded.
"I'll leave. But if anyone else wants to leave, anyone," he pinned Voldemort with a look, reminding the man remarkably of James Potter in that moment, "You let them go." He said sternly. "I don't care what you do to British Wizarding World, they shouldn't have turned me into a saviour, but if people want to leave, start new lives or whatever, you let them." He explained. Voldemort looked at the small teen, contemplating his actions.
"I agree to those terms. You may leave Harry Potter, this once. Do not come back." He added.
Harry nodded, taking a shuddering sigh as he realized he had basically just signed Wizarding Britain over to Voldemort but he couldn't bring himself to care.
"You have to leave me alone, me, Severus, Blaise anyone else who leaves you can't hunt down, nor can your Death Eaters." The teen suddenly spoke. "If they do consider our deal null and void" He added bravely. Voldemort cracked a smile, it was frightening, terrifying to anyone who saw it, the teen was brave, Voldemort would give him that.
"Deal." He hissed, his voice taking on a more snake like quality. "You can't come back though, not to save people who choose not to leave. Friends, lovers, enemies, you cannot return."
Harry contemplated that, he knew Hermione, the Weasleys they wouldn't leave England they would stay, Dumbledore would make sure, they would stay and fight and his friends, former friends, would die. Sighing again, a sigh of one who had seen to much, knew to much, Harry nodded.
"Fine." he breathed, looking at Severus for approval and once again seeing no judgment in the man's eyes. Voldemort clapped his hands gleefully, it would be hard to reign in his more...volatile death eaters but he would manage it. He needed to for Harry Potter had just handed him everything he wanted on a silver platter.
"Good bye Harry Potter. I sincerely hope we do not meet again." The man said as he rose gesturing grandly for Severus and Harry to leave. Gathering their wits Severus and Harry quickly left the grand room, neither of them speaking as they quickly escaped from the dark Manor. Once outside Harry shrank down into Silver once more and Severus gathered him quickly though carefully and apperated them back to Zabini Manor.
Hitting the ground, Severus inhaled deeply letting the soothing tang of sea air fill his lungs as he freed Silver from his pocket.
"We did it." the man breathed, crushing the kitten to his chest. Now they only had to avoid Dumbledore and his plans. An unfamiliar tingling ran up Severus' arm and he quickly rolled up his sleeve watching in awe as his Dark Mark writhed on his arm before disappearing.
"What in Merlin's name?" He breathed reaching down to touch his unblemished skin. Sliver's cold, wet nose touched the skin and his green eyes turned to look up at Severus' awe written all over his kittenish features. Walking inside both man and cat still in shock, neither seemed to notice the anxious Blaise bouncing about settling them in the study, pushing a mug of hot chocolate (with a little extra kick) into Severus' hands while simultaneously taking the kitten and beginning to cuddle it.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Blaise finally coughed, drawing his professor's attention to him.
"What happened?" Blaise asked softly still cuddling the kitten on his lap. Taking a steadying sip of his drink, eyebrows rising when he tasted the familiar liquid lurking beneath the chocolate, Severus launched into his tale.
"So we just stay here" Blaise said, gesturing grandly to the Manor surrounding them. "We're not in England anymore" He added "And Hogwarts is located in Scotland if we choose to return. Though I think since we're going into our final years we may be able to get away with home schooling. I'm sure a number of other students will be withdrawing over the next few months, especially with what I'm sure will be happening" He raised an eyebrow significantly. Severus nodded.
"I agree." Severus murmured, "But Harry and I will not be returning to Hogwarts" He added, "We both have a chance at a clean slate. Dumbledore knows we're staying here." Severus explained. "We have a few weeks before Hogwarts starts up again and in that time I intend to find us a home, somewhere on the Ocean and somewhere Dumbledore cannot find us"
"Ah," Blaise nodded in understanding. "What about me? Dumbledore knows I'm involved with Harry, or he sort of does. You are, after all, hiding out in my Manor."
"Yes I know. I'd invite you to come live with us but I think that would be pushing it. I shall speak to your mother and have her remove you from Hogwarts. I shall continue yours and Harry's education with us flooing here or you flooing to our home. Of course I will extend this courtesy to any Slytherin students who decide not to return to Hogwarts."
"Of course," Blaise grinned softly, he may care deeply for Harry but he wasn't sure he was ready to live with him and Severus. Granted he was doing that right now but in his own home, he wasn't moving in with someone else.
The evening devolved into a quiet, comfortable silence as Blaise and Severus drank their respective drinks and Silver purred contentedly on Blaise's lap. The only movement had occurred when an owl had found its way into the sitting room startling both men. Accepting the parchment, Severus flicked it open, eyes going wide as he saw what was written. Just one line, red ink that stated Show of good faith. Do not Return
It was from the Dark Lord, explaining why he had seen fit to remove Severus' mark. Ignoring Blaise's questioning look he returned to his quiet, contemplative silence the letter clutched firmly in his hands.
"It's really ours?" Harry breathed as he stared at the quaint cottage nestled in the crags above the ocean on the southern Grecian sea.
"Yes" Severus responded with a grin his arm wound comfortably around Harry's shoulders a pleased smile gracing his features. He handed the old fashioned key to his son, it was all symbolic of course, when he bought the property Severus had hired a ward wizard to put protective wards all around the house. Only he, Harry and those that they invited in could even enter the property.
"All of it?" Harry asked glancing around noting with pleasure the small path that lead down to the a little cove, their own private slice of the ocean.
"All of it" Severus confirmed, it had taken a month for him to find, purchase and have the house made ready. Grinning Harry rushed up the path intent on seeing the house and leaving a laughing Severus to follow after him.
Entering the house Harry beamed, it was everything he had imagined it being. It was small, perfect really for him and Severus since it was only the two of the. The kitchen was quaint, done up in bright colours with a big bay window facing down the cliff and out to the ocean. A door stood off to once side and Harry could feel the wards around it.
"Potions lab" Severus explained, even though he had resigned from Hogwarts (not that Albus knew that yet) he still loved potions and was looking forward to having time to work, to create again, especially without a bunch of dunderheaded students underfoot.
"Ah," Harry nodded and was off exploring again. A small living area branched off from the kitchen, like the living room it was painted in warm, bright colours with a small fireplace, large windows and a cat tree in one corner.
"Bedrooms are upstairs, yours is the door on the right, across from the washroom and mine is at the end of the hall," Severus explained. The house was bright, inviting and everything that someone would expect the potions' master to hate. However Severus knew it was what Harry needed and for that he would put up with the warm blues, oranges and yellows that covered his house. His room, of course, was near identical to the one at Hogwarts with Slytherin silver, green and black covering it. Harry's he left up to the young teen to decide knowing a few well-placed spells would have everything sorted in no time.
"Where are you going to teach us?" Harry asked, knowing about the tutoring that Severus would be doing for him, Blaise and a few others.
"Blaise's Manor. We'll floo there four times a week along with the others. This place, this is for us. For you," Severus said softly. "A home."
Harry beamed and found his way into the arms of his Father feeling for the first time in a long while that he was safe and everything was right in the world.
Dumbledore gaped openly as he read the missive a handsome eagle owl had dropped off. Severus had quit? He was resigning and he was taking Harry with him? Oh no, no, no, this would not do. He needed Harry, needed his weapon. In a fit of unusual temper Albus burned the letter glowering darkly into the flames as he contemplated his next move. He had to locate Harry, had to get him back. He never should have removed him from the Dursleys, or barring that he should have let Molly have her way. She would have raised a good little light following hero. Glowering, he popped a lemon drop into his mouth as he settled into his chair. Visibly working to calm himself he finally summoned Minerva, informing her that they needed to find a substitute Potions Professor (at least for the time being). Ignoring her questions he dismissed the woman rather abruptly before he turned his mind back to the problem at hand. Ah yes, Karissa. She would know where Severus and Harry were. He wasn't naive enough to think they remained at Zabini Manor not that he had any power there. The Italian government weren't huge fans of his, nor was Madame Zabini.
Gathering himself, Albus made plans to summon The Order. He needed to talk to everyone, tell them what was happening, his version of course, and make sure they understood how important it was to get Harry back. Of course they all believed that he was away training but he'd come up with something. Perhaps some letters written by Ronald, Ginevra, and Hermione would be able to entice the lad? Humming to himself and feeling a bit better it was a rather startling blow to see more owls flying in, far to many to be from the Minister asking for advice. Looking at the post he noticed that they almost all belonged to the parents of Slytherin students. Opening them, his bushy eyebrows rose high into his hairline as he saw all of them were letters from the parents pulling their students out of Hogwarts. Zabini, Parkinson, Nott, Goyle, Malfoy and Crabbe all had been removed. All of these students, barring Zabini, were followers of Tom. Frowning he wondered if this was some sort of precursor to an attack. Tom wouldn't want to risk the children of his high up followers. Shaking his head Albus realized he had even more to contemplate as he let the letters fall back onto his desk.
Severus stepped through the floo into Zabini Manor. Already waiting for him and Harry were Blaise, Draco and Theo; Pansy had been sent to Beauxbatons by her parents as they thought it was a more well rounded education for their daughter and Crabbe and Goyle would be stopping by for occasional tutoring though not as much as Draco, Theo and Blaise.
"I know term has yet to begin," Severus began once everyone was seated, "But I wanted to give you your book lists as well as list of supplies. Since I am a Potions Master and have a mastery in Defense I am able to teach you those subjects as well as Herbology since it plays a role in potions. As for other NEWT subjects I've spoken to some friends of mine who will be able to teach you Transfiguration, Runes and Arithmancy as well as History if you need it," He explained handing out pieces of parchment.
"Which friends?" Blaise asked as he looked over the list. Harry began to giggle, he was well aware of who the 'friends' were and vividly remembered the conversation that had ensued.
"I use the term 'friends' lightly," Severus groused, "But I believe you are all familiar with former Professor Lupin and the mass murderer Sirius Black?"
Three pairs of eyes widened as they took in the giggling Harry and pained looking Severus.
"Mass murderer?" Theo whispered just as Draco asked "The werewolf?"
"No and Yes" Severus sighed, "Sirius Black was framed, it is a long, annoying tale and I just ask that you take my word on it. If it helps he is Harry's godfather and despite his eccentricities he is wonderful at Transfiguration. As for Lupin yes, he is a werewolf but it is a manageable condition and he is a wonderful professor though it pains me to admit it"
After a few more moments of discussion, Severus left leaving Harry with the three other boys knowing they had plans to go swimming and goof around as boys their age were wont to do. He, on the other hand, had to plan lessons with the dogs and he was not looking forward to it.
Back when he had been planning on tutoring the boys Harry had pointed out he couldn't teach them everything. Panic had seized Severus but his wonderful son had suggested not one but two people who would be more then willing and able to help out. Of course Severus had rallied, shouted, complained and cursed the suggestions but they were the only two people Severus could think of that would both teach the boys and keep his son safe. Shaking his head, he flooed back to his own house having reluctantly given Sirius and Remus access. It was remarkable that one young teen had managed to repair the relationship between the three men. No they would never be best friends but they could tolerate one another especially if it made Harry happy. Severus never thought he could love again, not after Lily. But he loved that boy, he lived to make Harry smile, to make him happy and to make sure he was safe and he knew that Sirius and Remus felt the same way.
Bustling about the kitchen he began making tea.
"Snape," Sirius voice laughed as he stepped through the floo. "You've become domestic." He teased.
"Sirius," Remus admonished, "Just because you could burn water doesn't mean you can tease Severus. He was kind enough to invite us here and now he's playing host. You could learn from him." And with that Remus sat down at the table pulling out books and parchment, ever the professor as he and Severus began talking lesson plans. Sirius watched the scene for a moment before he joined in, occasionally offering his own input.
For once, everything was looking up and Severus couldn't wait to see what the future held for him and Harry.
A/N: So that's it. Minus the epilogue of course. I hope everyone enjoyed Silver Lining as much as I did and who knows maybe one day I'll return to this little family and write more. Please let me know what you guys think of the story and what you might like to see answered in the epilogue. Any questions can be directed to my twitter Bloodred_queen or at my FB (just search BloodyRed Queen)