Disclaimer – Tisn't mine.
Chapter 6 – Freedom and Family
'I'm so very pleased for you, dear boy.' Albus murmured as they walked slowly through the corridors of the school towards the seventh floor. Students rushed to dinner around them, stopping and almost tripping over their own feet at the sight of the Boy-Who-Lived once again gracing the halls of the school. Harry, his face impassive as always, seemed to ignore it all as he patted Dumbledore's arm that remained tucked within his own.
'Thank you, Albus.' He replied quietly.
'You do realize this will be over soon?' Dumbledore questioned, carefully watching the young aristocratic face for any change. He wasn't to be disappointed. A small smile curved Harry's mouth and his eyes brightened. On anyone else the change would have been barely noticeable but Albus had been reading Harry's expressions for years.
'I know. It should never have taken this long, but it is very pleasing to know we are so close.'
'What will you do afterwards?' The headmaster was curious. Harry had trained for this for most of his life and Albus wondered what plans the young man had.
Harry stopped and glanced at him for a moment, before pacing three times in front of the blank wall, thinking hard about a place to hide things. Eventually the door appeared and he glanced back at Albus as he placed his hand on the door handle, a soft smile on his face. 'Hold Draco for the rest of our eternal lives.' He whispered before he disappeared inside.
Harry arrived back at Godrics Hollow with Albus two hours later to find Draco pacing anxiously in front of the fireplace, Remus and Tonks watching him from the sofa on the far side of the room and Snape standing nearby, his wand held loosely in his hand. Draco spun the moment he felt Harry arrive, even though they had made no sound and all but flung himself at the older vampire.
'It's okay. You did brilliantly.' Harry murmured into the silky blonde hair as he held the Slytherin tightly to him. Draco's hands fisted the back of his robes, fingernails tearing small holes in the fabric and he buried his head in Harry's throat. Harry felt Draco's nose softly tracing his jugular and knew the boy was close to losing control. 'Come on.' He whispered, gently pulling away but keeping one arm firmly around Draco's shoulders as he nodded in thanks to the potions master and Dumbledore before guiding Draco from the room and outside.
Once they were outside Harry pulled Draco close again and plundered his mouth till the smaller vampire let out a whine of frustration. He pulled away, a small smirk on his lips. 'If you catch me, I'm yours.' He breathed before darting away across the garden and into the forest. He knew Draco could hear him, and he knew the Slytherin wouldn't leave a challenge like that unanswered so he concentrated on his direction, circling around the far edge of the forest, picking up a small "snack" for Draco on the way before heading to the clearing.
Draco arrived almost silently minutes later and quickly took down the wolf Harry had stunned nearby and drained it. Harry stared in fascination as Draco looked up, a drop of blood on his cheek. The boy was now inhumanly beautiful and Harry couldn't help but let a shudder wrack through him as Draco stood gracefully and all but glided to his side, his eyes alight. He looked like the ultimate predator he was and Harry felt his stomach knot itself as a gentle hand cupped his cheek. He wrapped his arms around Draco's waist and lifted the other till they were nose to nose before tilting his head and licking the drop of blood of the pale cheek. His mouth moved to Draco's and the smaller vampire let out a groan as Harry's hand found its way under his shirt.
'You are wearing entirely too much.' Harry whispered into Draco's ear with a chuckle.
'Then get rid of it.' Draco moaned as Harry nipped the lobe in front of him. And Harry did.
'We should probably go back.' Harry murmured into Draco's hair. The Slytherin shifted from where he was laying sprawled atop the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry had watched the last of the sun slip past the horizon and with it the sparkle from their skin that had lit up the clearing faded.
'It's too nice here. Let's just stay.' Draco mumbled into the skin on Harry's chest. Harry snorted softly. For anyone else it would have been freezing, lying naked in the middle of the forest in the middle of December, but to them it felt no different to any other day of the year.
Harry ran his hands up and down Draco's back until the blonde lifted his head and rested on his chin so he could look Harry in the eye. 'When do you go?' He asked hesitantly.
Harry sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, knowing exactly what the other was asking. 'Tomorrow.' He murmured and felt as Draco tensed in his arms. 'It will be okay, Draco. This is the final battle. And once it is over we can be together forever and I will never leave you again unless you ask me to.'
Harry watched as Draco swallowed. 'I want to come with you.'
Harry shook his head. 'No.'
'No, Draco. It is not safe. Please don't ask me to split my focus between looking for you and doing what I must.' Harry pleaded softly.
'Will Severus be going? What about Dumbledore?' Draco questioned, lifting himself up to stare into Harry's green eyes.
The Boy-Who-Lived shook his head. 'No, they will remain here with you. Only the team will be going.'
Draco seemed to want to question him again but thought better of it and slowly pulled away from Harry and stood, holding out his hand. 'I understand.' He said softly and Harry smiled, taking the proffered hand and pulling himself fluidly to his feet before summoning their banished clothes.
The walk back was made at a mostly normal human pace and in silence but it was a comfortable one and as they finally saw the lights of the house almost an hour later. Just as they reached the door, Draco stopped and Harry turned to face him, his expression curious.
'I know you are fairly indestructible but please promise me you won't take any chances.' Draco pleaded softly and Harry stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the smaller figure.
'I promise.' He murmured and they stood there in that embrace for several minutes before they finally went inside.
It was a sombre group that awaited Harry and Draco in the sitting room the next morning. When Harry first stepped into the room he almost had to back out again at the expressions of fear and sadness that were arrayed on the faces of those around them. Taking a deep breath he allowed a small smile to grace his features.
'I do not know why you all look as if you're going to a funeral.' He scolded and several smiles broke out as Draco moved to stand beside the fireplace and Harry shook each of his teacher's hands.
'If you fail, Potter, don't bother coming back.' Moody declared and Harry reached out to grasp Draco's arm as the vampire shot across the room to attack the ex-Auror.
'Not really appropriate this morning, Alastor.' Harry murmured with a roll of his eyes, giving Draco a look to settle down.
He hugged both Remus and Tonks, whose eyes were filled with tears. 'Stop crying, Dora. I'm coming back and then you'll just feel like a twit.' The metamorphmagus gave him a teary smile and Harry turned to Severus and Albus.
'Galen will meet you at the place you agreed on.' Dumbledore said softly and Harry nodded and glanced between the two men who had brought him to this day.
'Thank you.' Harry whispered.
Both smiled and one after another hugged the teenager tightly to them. They watched as Harry's mouth tightened and he closed his eyes momentarily before turning to Draco.
The two stared at each other for almost a minute in silence before Harry lifted both hands an cupped Draco's face, his thumb stroking the now marble like cheek before he bent his head and kissed the Slytherin gently but thoroughly before pulling away. 'I love you.' He whispered and moments later he was gone.
Galen, Burgess, Cripps and Davis were waiting for Harry when he landed in a small clearing they knew to be about two miles from where Tom Riddle was hiding out.
'Good morning.' Galen said softly and Harry nodded.
'Sorry if I kept you waiting.' He returned politely, nodding to each of the men gathered there.
'Not at all.' Galen went on seamlessly. 'We only arrived a few minutes ago ourselves. Now I trust everyone has complete understanding of the plan of attack.'
'Any ideas on exactly how many Death Eaters will be in there? Davis questioned.
Burgess looked to Galen who nodded. 'From the intelligence we've gathered we expect there to be about fifteen to twenty to be in there. Normally there would be more but we chose this day for a reason. It's a weekday; those with jobs will have left already.'
'Sensible.' Davis murmured and Burgess snorted.
'Ready to go, Harry?' Galen asked and the teenager nodded, his eyes already on the house in the distance.
After a moment he turned back. 'Give me ten minutes, I shouldn't need any more than that.' He said firmly before he suddenly shot off down the hill, nothing more than a blur to the four men still standing on the top.
They could vaguely see him appear momentarily before he suddenly dropped into one of his many animagus forms and he slithered behind a headstone and through a small hole in the wall of the run down house.
Harry's eyesight was almost as good in this form but he wasn't that keen on being so close to the ground. Unfortunately he wasn't as quick either. He listened out, keeping close to the walls as he carefully checked the first floor before moving up the stairs. He went straight to the room at the end that was lit, carefully peeking inside and thanking Merlin he remembered to cast a scent masking smell before he left as he saw the large form of Nagini curled up beside a chair, a pale hand dangling over the edge of it and patting her scales gently.
Harry's serpent like eyes narrowed as he thought about how to get the snake away from the Dark Lord. With an internal smirk he moved further down the hallway and into one of the darkened rooms to wait. 'Hungry, hungry, hungry.' He hissed loudly. 'Where are all the mice? Tasty mice should be here.' He continued to hiss, listening as Riddle told Nagini to go and find where the hissing was coming from and destroy it.
He continued hissing, even as he thought of the smell of Draco's blood before he changed and allowed his mouth to flood with venom. He heard Nagini right outside the room and then waited as she slithered in. It took less than three seconds before Harry had transformed, thrown up a wandless silencing charm and launched himself at the snake.
She was fast but Harry was faster, her soft fangs breaking off as she tried to sink them into the marble like skin on his arm, even as his sunk into her body about two feet behind her neck. Once again a soft wailing sound rang through the room and a moment later Harry dropped the now dead snake to the floor and wiped his bloody mouth on his sleeve. It was time to finish this he thought as he heard the beginnings of an assault drift up from downstairs.
Over three hours had passed since Harry had left and everyone who had been in the sitting room at the time still remained. Severus classes had been cancelled and Albus had just told Minerva that something important was happening that could not be missed and left her in charge. He wasn't moving from the room till he saw Harry return with his own eyes.
Several pots of tea had been drunk and whispered conversations had taken place but Draco had remained silent and still by the window. So still it was eerie. There were a number of glances towards him and Severus had tried to talk to him several times to no avail. It was just as the potions master got out of his seat for another try that Draco suddenly gasped and staggered forward to grasp the windowsill.
'Draco?' Severus questioned anxiously as he grasped the boy's shoulders. 'Draco, what is it?' He almost wanted to shake the boy but restrained himself as the rest of the room crowded around him.
Eventually Draco looked up, a look of joy on his face. 'He did it.' He whispered. The image of what was the Dark Lord only moments before that Harry had sent him still vivid in his mind. 'He did it, and he's okay.' He went on as laughter bubbled out of him.
'How do you know?' This question came from Moody.
Draco tried to calm his excitement. 'He showed me.'
The group stared between each other, knowing that Draco told the truth as Dumbledore had mentioned the way the two could now communicate.
'He did it.' Severus breathed.
'He did it.' Tonks added and suddenly Draco was yanked from his position leaning against the window and hugged tightly as cheering broke out around the room. The group was laughing and crying and clapping, grateful to know that Harry had been successful but more so that he was okay. Bottles of Butterbear and glasses of Firewhiskey were passed around as all the work this group had done since that fateful All Hallows Eve was finally realised.
'It would have been nice to have waited for us before you started celebrating.' Harry's voice rang out over the din and then more cheers rang out as everyone rushed to congratulate the young man and the group of three wizards who had accompanied him.
'Harry!' Draco cried and launched himself into the vampire's arms as Dumbledore poured the others each a glass of Firewhiskey.
'Where's Galen?' He asked the teenager.
Harry grinned. 'Telling Fudge the news. He should be here soon.' He added, still in Draco's embrace.
'Hope he has a good enough memory of that conversation for a pensieve.' Severus murmured dryly and Harry laughed, releasing Draco and allowing Albus and Severus to each hug him tightly.
'So what happened? Was it as anticlimactic as you thought it would be?' Albus questioned.
Those around them grew quiet with the question and Harry moved back, wrapping an arm around Draco's waist and launched into a tale that would be repeated for years to come.
Harry dropped the silencing charm, casting a final glance at the dead snake on the floor and darting out the door and into the room containing the Dark Lord before Tom Riddle even realized he was there.
'Potter.' Riddle hissed sibilantly.
'Goodbye Tom.' Harry said simply.
Riddle was fast, immediately sending a stream of curses in Harry's direction. But Harry was much faster, dodging them with the ease of movement that came naturally to vampires. A single hex caught his elbow as he stepped closer to the fuming Dark Lord but Harry barely felt it as he reached out and plunged his hand into Riddle's chest and grasped the monster's heart causing Riddle to stop instantly.
'It won't matter.' Riddle gasped as pain tore through him.
Harry's face curved into a decidedly wicked smirk. 'That's where you're wrong, Tom. They're all gone.' He whispered in Parseltongue. He watched as Riddle's eyes widened, comprehension dawning in the dulling red eyes before he yanked hard and tore the heart from the other's chest, letting the body drop to the floor.
Harry's nostrils were instantly assaulted by the scent of fresh blood and he let out a keening sound that was barely heard over the shouting still going on downstairs. He quickly realised that this might not have been the best method of killing the bastard.
He fought with himself as the stared unblinking at the organ in his hand, venom flooding his mouth.
'You do not need it, Childe. You are strong enough to resist.' The soft voice from the corner had Harry's head shooting up as the heart tumbled from his blood covered hand.
The image of a tall dark haired man in the corner smiled. 'I am your Sire, or at least the memory of him.'
Harry's eyebrows shot skywards, the heart in his hand suddenly forgotten. 'You…' He trailed off, unable to say exactly what he wanted to.
The hazy image took several steps closer to him. 'Yes, Childe. I am sorry if we have made your life more difficult but Turning you. But it had to be done. We knew you wouldn't survive if we didn't.'
'You didn't.' Harry said with a frown. 'You made it better actually. Thank you.'
The image gifted him with an indulgent smile.
'But how did you know? I don't understand.'
'We needed you. We've known for centuries that you would be coming.'
Harry's frown deepened. 'Now I really do not understand.'
'You are at the centre of more than one prophecy, Childe. It was written over a millennium ago that we would need to hide ourselves away. That we would need one to find us again. You are that one. That is why we ambushed you all those centuries ago.'
Harry shook his head. 'But why, why would you do that?'
The man's smile softened. 'Because we need you to wake us, Childe. We need you to restore the Regalis to the Wizarding world.'
'We are not extinct, Childe, merely sleeping. You will know. When it is time, you will know.' The image said kindly before it faded away.
Harry stared at the vacant spot in silence for several minutes before shaking himself out of his stupor just as Galen and the others burst through the doorway.
Burgess and Galen both took only look at the blood covering Harry and as Galen banished it all Burgess set the corpse of the Dark Lord alight as Davis and Cripps pushed past them to Harry's side.
'Harry?' Davis asked softly, his tone much more concerned than Harry had ever heard it. The Boy-Who-Lived looked up and met his eyes, his face breaking out into a smile as it dawned on him that it was all over. He knew that one day he would seek out the other Regalis and wake them as he was apparently fated to do but until then his life was finally his own. He shoved an image of the body of the Dark Lord towards his mate before he turned to see the others all looking at him, unable to hide the looks of both pride and relief on their faces.
'Let's go home.' He said softly and Burgess grabbed him around the shoulders and tugged him towards the door.
'Best idea you've had all day, Potter.' Cripps added with a laugh and together the wizard's left the room just as the flames that had reduced the Dark Lord's body to nothing but ash just flickered out.
'Well, that was certainly different.' Snape muttered.
Draco poked Harry's side and the taller man glanced down at him. 'You've had madmen and now vampires targeting you…anyone else I should know about?' He asked dryly and those around them chuckled.
Harry bent his head and kissed the shell of Draco's ear. 'No, no more, I promise.' He whispered.
'Except for Fudge.' Kingsley offered. 'You know he will want to speak with you.'
'Probably more than speak with you.' Tonks added, her arm around Remus' waist and her head resting on his shoulder.
Harry looked up and shook his head. 'That wasn't the agreement.' He said firmly.
'He will try and get around it.' Burgess tried to get a handle on how Harry would take the Minister of Magic continually summoning him for press conferences and parties.
Harry's smirk deepened and he glanced at Dumbledore. 'Good luck.' He murmured and Albus let out a laugh.
'Harry?' Draco's voice was curious but Harry just shook his head.
'It won't matter.' Harry said firmly.
'No it won't.' Galen called from the doorway as he crossed the room.
Dumbledore reached out and shook the wizard's hand in congratulations. 'You must be very pleased.' He said softly.
'Incredibly.' Galen agreed glancing at Harry.
The Boy-Who-Lived raised an eyebrow. 'I gather he tried.' He questioned.
'And I gather you shot him down.' Harry finished and Galen nodded again.
'Shot who down?' Remus asked curiously.
'Fudge.' Harry, Galen and Albus all chorused.
'What in Merlin's name are you talking about?' Draco snapped, clearly reaching the end of his control. There were far more people in the room than Draco was used to since his change and their heightened excitement had sent their hearts pumping overtime. The stress of waiting for Harry to return had also clearly taken its toll and this obscure verbal dancing was the last straw.
Harry wrapped his arms around the young vampire held him tightly, gently rubbing his back as he cast a wandless spell around them to block the scent of all the humans in the room. 'I insisted an Unbreakable Vow, before I started as an Unspeakable, with Fudge.' He murmured softly, but all in the room could hear him clearly.
'You got the Minister of Magic to make an Unbreakable Vow, when you were thirteen.' Severus spluttered.
Harry laughed. 'Yes, you can get a man to do anything when he is desperate enough.'
'What was it? The vow I mean?' Tonks asked as her hair turned a putrid lime green that was the image of Fudge's bowler hat.
Harry glanced at Dumbledore who answered for him as he kissed Draco softly and tried to calm the tension that still ran through the blonde.
'The gist was that Harry would work with Galen and his team to ensure the destruction of Tom Riddle and in return Fudge and the Ministry would leave him alone. Permanently.' Albus explained. 'It was certainly a highlight I have to say. The look on Cornelius' face when Harry gave him the conditions he insisted upon in order to cooperate was priceless.'
'I agree.' Galen added with a laugh of his own. 'I've never seen anyone manage to get anything out of the man so quickly.'
Harry just shrugged, kissing a now much calmer Draco on the temple again. 'He needed me, not the other way around. I still would have done it. All of it.' He insisted, smiling at Galen and his three colleagues. 'But I knew what would happen afterwards, and I knew I didn't want it.'
'But Harry, you've worked so hard for this. You should be recognized.' Kingsley insisted, several people agreeing until Harry held up a hand to silence them.
'Can I say something please?' He asked softly, releasing Draco and waiting until he received nods from the dozen people in the room. 'I'm not the only one who worked hard for this. All of you have. All of you put your lives on hold to raise me, to train me, to support me. Whatever I did, I did because you believed in me, all of you.' He added looking to Burgess and the others as thoughts of their different missions flicked through his head. 'I would never have been able to accomplish what I have without you all. You have been there for me whenever I have needed you.' This time he looked to Albus, Severus and the others who had shared his life since he was nothing but a toddler. 'I didn't destroy Riddle because I had to, because it was written that I would. I didn't even destroy him for killing mum and dad. I destroyed him so that you could all be free. So that I could give you something in return for all you have done for me.'
There was a stunned silence that lasted for almost a full minute before Tonks burst into tears and Severus reached out and grasped Harry roughly before hugging him tightly again. He only remained that way for another minute before Albus separated them and hugged the teenager himself.
Eventually everyone stepped back after receiving a fierce hug of their own and Harry stepped back, picking up the glass of firewhiskey that Severus had handed him over half an hour ago and raised it, waiting as everyone else grasped their own glasses.
'To freedom and family.' Harry said softly. 'May we always have both and in plentiful supply.'
'Freedom and family.' Echoed loudly through the room.
Thank you all for your patience and for reading.