AN: Chapter 31. A whole year. It has now been a whole year since I started writing this story and I can't believe how fast it has gone, and we are far from done yet, so here is a chapter dedicated to every single one of you who has left he a review, supported me along the way or just simply read my story. Thank you and here is to the next year. *raises a toast*
Please do come and chat with me on facebook. If you would like to be friends with me there, there is a link on my bio.
Warnings: Swearing, slash and Adult themes. For full warnings see story description.
As always, thanks to my wonderful beta AchillesTheGeek.
"I can't believe he wouldn't speak to me," Draco said sulkily, as he barged through the door to his and Harry's rooms, following their meeting with Remus.
Hermione and Ron were still there studying, and had looked up out of curiosity at sound of Harry and Draco's return. Harry shook his head slightly when Hermione opened her mouth to ask something. Not that he minded her asking; he could just tell that Draco was in no mood to go over all that had happened and he didn't want to stress his boyfriend any further. He would explain to her later when her curiosity finally got too much for her.
Draco had tried to speak with his father but the man had refused, and then Remus had denied Draco's request to enter the room where Lucius was being kept. Harry appreciated that, even if the blond hadn't. Tonks had tried to explain that it was for Draco and the baby's safety but that had just resulted in a tirade of insults which had only stopped when Harry had tried to pull his boyfriend into his arms.
Apparently the blond had not been in any kind of mood to be comforted because at that point he had stormed from the room. With a hurried apology to Remus and Tonks, Harry had chased after him. It was a little concerning that they were still none the wiser about Snape's location but at least they knew what was happening with Draco's father, even if the man seemed to be, in Harry's opinion, sulking.
In his anger, Draco had walked very fast and Harry had only caught up with him just outside the Slytherin common room; a good job too otherwise he might have been left to head all the way across the castle to the Gryffindor common room in order to have gotten in. Even then, Draco was still shaking, whether from anger or just adrenalin was not clear; but he hadn't slowed at all, and despite his longer legs Harry had had to all but run to keep up with him.
After his outburst, the second the door had closed behind them, he stormed across the room, oblivious to the surprised looks on Ron and Hermione's faces.
"I'm his son," Draco said when he had got about half way across the room, suddenly turning to glare at Harry. "He can't just ignore me, he must know where Professor Snape is," he insisted, looking at Harry as though waiting for him to fix everything.
"Remus said he would try and find out what is going on with Snape," Harry reminded him, taking care to keep his voice gentle. His boyfriend could get rather vicious when in a strop, after all. "And maybe you could try writing to your Mother; perhaps she can get your Father to talk to her and tell her what is happening."
"Good idea; I will do that now," Draco said decisively; he was still angry with his Father but the mental image of Narcissa Malfoy yelling at her ex-husband for treating his own son so poorly was enough to buoy Draco's spirits somewhat.
Ron privately thought that Lucius Malfoy refusing to speak to him might be reason to celebrate, but then the man wasn't his Father and he could at least acknowledge that Draco would likely see things differently; so he chose to keep this thought to himself.
"Erm... Malfoy," he said, sounding a little hesitant.
"What?!" the Draco demanded, turning to glare at the red-head, who he honestly hadn't even noticed was still in the room; he didn't appreciate being held up in starting his letter, certainly not to chit chat with idiotic Gryffindors. Not to mention he hadn't meant to rant and rave in front of an audience, and was now wishing he had shown a little more restraint; but his emotions seemed to keep getting away from him as of late.
"You got a letter," Ron informed him, looking to be somewhere between stunned and pissed off about having been yelled at, particularly given he was just trying to be helpful and had held back his own attitude.
Draco glared for a moment longer before walking over and snatching the piece of parchment from Ron's held out hand. Draco was a little annoyed that the letter had been delivered to Weasley at all, who could easily have read it, but grateful to have it handed over so swiftly with the seal not having been tampered with, from what he could tell.
He seemed to be considering saying something, but his mouth became a pinched line as he instead chose to turn on the spot, storm across the room into the main bedroom and slam the door behind him.
"Well at least he is sticking to the 'if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all' rule," Harry said, giving his best friend an apologetic smile, as he took a seat at the table with Ron and Hermione.
"Either that or he actually tried to say thank you and realised he didn't know how," Ron grumbled a little bitterly, rather wishing he had ignored Hermione's annoyed glare that had stopped him from taking a peek inside when the letter first arrived.
"Shouldn't you check on him?" Hermione asked with a worried glance at the door Draco had gone through moments earlier.
"Right now he needs some space," Harry said with certainty. It was strange; he wasn't sure if it was just because he spent so much time with his boyfriend that he could now read Draco's emotions like a book, but he knew that the blond needed to be left alone for a bit. "Trust me," he added, when Hermione looked sceptical.
Ron shrugged his shoulders, happy to let Harry worry about his own relationship, and Hermione nodded her head slowly, still not looking too sure. Harry smiled; it was strangely comforting that Draco was as much of a mystery to his two best friends as ever. Not everything had changed and he liked being the one who knew his boyfriend best; he could almost feel his Erote side beaming with pride at the strength of their bond.
"Well then let's focus on this transfiguration essay," Hermione suggested. "Ron's done reading this one so it is your turn," she said moving the large book to in front of Harry, who looked at Ron in slight alarm.
"You heard her, mate, it's your turn," he said, looking far too amused for Harry's liking. For Hermione's too, apparently.
"You can wipe that expression off your face, Ron," she told him. "You get to start writing about what you have learned now."
"On second thought, I think I should check on Draco," Harry said, going to get up. But Hermione gave him a warning look and he sat back down with a sigh. He knew she was right really; he was going to have to do the work at some point anyway, at least if he did it now he would have her help. And so he settled down to start reading, the room silent but for the sound of Hermione and Ron's quills against parchment.
Impertinent little brat, Lucius thought to himself as he lounged on his inhumanly small bed; he would, of course, never have 'lounged' on anything under normal circumstances, but there was no-one around to witness such plebeian behaviour and these were most definitely not normal circumstances. He was being held against his will by a werewolf, Remus Lupin, and his own niece, of all people; all carefully orchestrated by Dumbledore, of course.
His mood was atrocious. He was infuriated with his new so-called home, which was even less suitable than the accommodation he had been provided with in Severus' quarters. And then there was Severus himself, who he was angry at for both having dared to love him, and then for leaving in such a manner. None of this was helped by his ex-wife's meddling.
And then Draco had demanded to speak with him. It was too much, and he refused; he had no patience left for listening to the whining of his son. Let Narcissa and Severus deal with the boy, he told himself. Or Potter, he thought bitterly. After all, the Potter boy was now bonded with Draco; it was Potter's child that was growing within Draco, as distasteful as he found that concept, surely Potter should be the one to deal with whatever worries or complaints Draco had now.
He was quickly finding that he missed being in Severus' quarters. For a moment he had thought maybe he missed the man himself, but that was preposterous of course; he had come to the conclusion that he was mourning the loss of Severus' rather remarkable collection of spirits. Severus had also told the house elves to fetch him whatever he wanted to eat, but now he was just brought pitiful meals three times a day, and the house elves ignored any orders he gave them.
Without even a book to read, he was quickly growing bored with his change in circumstances, and starting to wonder if perhaps he should have spoken with Draco simply for something to do. Besides, the elves might be more likely to follow his son's orders than his, though the very idea tasted bitter in his mouth.
He couldn't help but wonder how it had come to this. He was Lucius Malfoy, for Merlin's sake; he was the very pinnacle of pure blood society and yet he was being treated abysmally. Someone would pay for this, he would see to it; no matter how long it took.
Draco all but threw himself face first onto their bed, glad that Harry had had enough sense not to follow him. Grabbing a pillow and pulling it over his head, Draco let out a scream of frustration. Over the years he had learned that his father could be a cold and infuriating man, but never before had Draco found himself ignored quite so completely.
Rolling over onto his back was slightly complicated by the wings, which he grumbled about as he tried to get comfortable. Draco was still certain he would never get used to having to have them out all the time; though at least he was better at only hitting people with them when he actually intended to now. He sighed as he looked up the ceiling for a moment; holding the letter that Weasley had given him in both hands, he read his name on the front of it, which was written in his mother's familiar, elegant scrawl.
"At least one of my parents still wants to talk to me," he said grumpily to himself, as he pulled it open.
It was so lovely to see both you and Harry the other day, and thank you again for permitting me to stay. However I am writing to you now regarding your father.
I paid a visit to Professor Snape and your father before I took my leave back home; it seems they had some degree of disagreement which resulted in some very intense remarks from your father. I shall not be divulging the details so I ask you to be discreet enough not to ask. However, Professor Snape then took his leave, with seemingly no intention of returning in the near future. I am not sure what has been done in terms of your father's care, but given his contemptible behaviour that I witnessed, I ask that, for the moment, you cease all contact with him, until he can prove himself suitable to be a father to you.
I understand that you may find this request frustrating or hard to comply with, but as your mother I beseech you to follow my guidance in this matter. I am sure that you also have concerns for the well being of Professor Snape, and I can only offer you my assurances that I am doing all I can to ensure his return.
With much love,
He read the letter over again, taking in everything it conveyed. It certainly explained a lot; it wasn't much of a surprise to Draco that his father had managed to say something to Professor Snape that was bad enough to make him leave, though he did feel disappointed. He had honestly believed that the two men might be able to find happiness together and he had grown to like the idea of Professor Snape as his step-father.
Obviously it was something pretty serious for Professor Snape to have cancelled classes, and Draco suspected that the man was no longer even residing within the school. But there was nothing he could do to help the potions master, and so he would simply have to leave that matter in his mother's capable hands.
As for her request, it was surprising to say the very least. She wanted him not to have contact with his father? Draco could only assume that whatever it was that his father had said to Professor Snape, his mother had also been deeply upset by it. It's not like he wants me to talk to him either, Draco thought with a frown.
He dropped the letter down on the bed next to him and stared up at the ceiling again, letting his mind tick over. He would respond to his mother and at least let her know about the alternative imprisonment that Dumbledore had organised; he would agree to her request not to speak with his father as well, seeing as he was unlikely to have wanted to do so for a while anyway, given today's rejection.
It might not have been quite so terrible if Lupin and Tonks had not been there watching as his father completely ignored him; they had both gave him looks of sympathy, but he could feel the undertones of 'what did you expect from Lucius Malfoy?' and that hurt. To be honest, he kind of agreed with the sentiment; he had certainly had enough of the drama his father seemed to somehow always end up involved in.
Shuffling off the bed, with far less elegance than he would have liked, Draco went over to the desk in the corner and sat down. Pulling out parchment, a quill and some ink, he settled down to write.
Thank you for your recent letter...'
Severus stood stiffly in front of the fireplace in the front room of his house in Spinners End. He had no love for the house really, apart from the benefit of being surrounded by his large book collection, but it was still preferable to being at Hogwarts for the time being. He was certain that by now there would be talk; it was not common practice for him to cancel any classes, let alone several days' worth.
He had his arms crossed over his chest, keeping his black robes wrapped tightly around him, despite the warmth that the fire was giving off. Severus would have been far happier to be left alone to lose himself in one of his many fine books, but Narcissa was insistent, and persistent for that matter. After her fourth owl he had finally conceded to let her into his home.
Right on time the flames turned emerald green and the perpetually beautiful Narcissa Malfoy stepped through the floo connection and stood before him.
"Now, Severus," she said with a stern tone he would have considered more appropriate for her to use when speaking with Draco rather than him. "Are you ready to stop behaving like a child and discuss this like the mature adult you proclaim yourself to be?"
Severus resisted the urge to gape at the woman, settling instead for simply narrowing his eyes in disapproval of both her tone and words.
"Very well, the difficult way it is," Narcissa said, sounding none-too-surprised, if a little disappointed.
Severus turned to watch her as she stepping passed him and heading towards the room she knew to be the dining room; she paused as she reached the doorway, giving the potions master a warning glance and with a resigned sigh, he followed after her. "We shall start by getting you fed. Henny," she called out firmly.
There was a small familiar pop and a petite, though rather elderly, house elf with squinty eyes appeared in front of them. "Hows can Henny be serving you, Mistress?" the elf asked, with a slow, elegant bow.
"I suspect Professor Snape here has not been eating as he should the last few days," Narcissa said primly, with a knowing glance at Severus, who still was keeping his arms crossed over his chest defensively. "See to it that we are provided with a selection of dishes from a light soup to something a little more substantial."
While it was true that he had not eaten as he usually would, he had had little appetite and would have eaten had he felt so inclined; to be forced into consuming food on the whim of Narcissa Malfoy was not something that he was entirely pleased about.
"Now seriously," she said with a tone of exasperation, as she sat herself on one of the chairs around the far side of the modest dining table, "do stop pouting. And sit," she all but ordered him.
Severus' lips thinned until they were little more than a line, and his eyes narrowed again. Every instinct was telling him to rebel against her instructions but having already been accused of childish behaviour in the last five minutes, he was sure that any protest he put up now, would simply be taken as proof of his continuing need for assistance. So he pulled out a chair across from Narcissa and sat down.
They only had to wait a few moments before a range of dishes started to appear on the table; just as Narcissa had instructed there was soup and sandwiches, right though to what looked like a couple of plates of full roast dinner. He had no trouble admitting, to himself at least, that the food looked and smelt delicious and that perhaps he should eat something. It would at least mean putting off whatever discussion Narcissa had in mind, and so he pulled one of the plates of roast towards him.
"Now we are getting somewhere," she said happily, though Severus still looked mutinous as he cut a roast potato in half and started to eat.
Narcissa watched on as Severus ate his way through the plate of food with what she suspected was deliberate slowness, though while he was at least eating, she was not going to complain too much. She helped herself to a couple of sandwiches and a bowl of what seemed to be a rather marvelous pumpkin soup, wanting to have something to occupy herself with rather than simply sitting and watching her friend eat.
She honestly understood Severus' reluctance to talk about Lucius but she was not about to sit back and watch her ex-husband chase Severus from his home and job. The potion master's feelings were not new and she had often suspected that, without the influence of Abraxas Malfoy, Lucius might have returned his feelings.
Of course, that was not to be; her family and Lucius' had arranged their marriage, and they had both accepted their roles with the grace and humility that they had been raised to. They had made it work; but they had never truly been in love with each other, even if they had managed to find a love of sorts for a while.
And so Lucius' blunt and heartless words had been hard to hear, even without them being directed at her. The pain on Severus' face had been heart-breaking to witness and for the first time she had believed that the potions master might have been better off living the rest of his life with his love unrequited.
"You seem pensive, Narcissa," Severus stated. She looked up from the soup she had been staring into with surprise, not having meant to get lost in her thoughts.
She placed her spoon down and sat upright in her chair, her hands delicately placed in her lap before she spoke. "I was thinking of Lucius," she answered honestly, watching for her friend's reaction.
His face became pinched; he pushed his half eaten meal away and took a steadying breath before he spoke. "I appreciate the intent behind your visit here, Narcissa," he said, his voice cold and a little harsh. "However, if you wish to remain here a moment longer I will ask you to refrain from speaking of that man in my presence."
"I assure you, Severus," Narcissa said curtly, thinking of all the times she had wanted to simply forget all the hateful things that had rolled off her husband's tongue, "I am perfectly aware how hurtful Lucius can be when..."
"Indeed," he interrupted with a frown. There was no doubt in his mind that the woman would be able to regale him with numerous woeful tales of spiteful things that had come from the mouth of Lucius Malfoy, but that made him no more inclined to be forgiving, nor understanding.
The thing was, though, that he did understand. He could plainly see his own foolishness now that events had fallen out much as he had anticipated in those first few days when Lucius had been held prisoner. He had warned himself and been so determined to not surrender his mind in favour of serving his lustful urges; and yet he had failed and now paid the price.
"You blame yourself?" Narcissa asked, her blue eyes fixed on him intently. She was sure that he did but was curious to see just how much he would admit to at this point. She had always understood him, certainly far better than Lucius ever had or could; they were rather alike in many ways; calculating and collected, but prone to patches of sentimentality that they found difficult to admit to.
"No," Severus stated. It wasn't entirely true, but he wasn't ready to admit otherwise, at least not out loud; but he could see by her soft smile that she didn't believe him and yet was unsurprised by his response. "Maybe," he amended. "I did not make him speak such things to me, though he is not under any obligation to treat me in a particular manner. I simply should not have let him affect me so."
"Ah, do not fear, my friend," Narcissa said, with a wry smile on her face, "I do not believe that anyone will think to accuse Severus Snape of caring too much."
"Fortunately not," he agreed. And yet that was the problem, he still cared despite his most ardent attempts not to. He had tried to forget the way Lucius had felt against him, or above him, but failed, and he seemed still incapable of escaping the lustful images of the tall blond that had haunted his adult life, and far too many of his teenage years.
"I have no doubt that you will not believe me when I say that I am certain Lucius spoke out of fear," she said calmly. She chuckled lightly at the disbelieving scowl on Severus' face. "He is even less adept at coping with emotional reactions than you or me. To push you away and remove the source of his emotions was a... logical move."
"And even if we suppose your hypothesis to be correct?" Severus asked, still not convinced that Narcissa was not expecting emotion from someone who simply did not have the capacity. "Do you propose I return to him?" he questioned, his tone obviously mocking. "Perhaps you would have me forgive his words, or help him embrace this... affection you suggest he feels towards me?"
"Severus..." she said, her tone warning.
"A woman's sentimentality, I'm sure," he stated with a sneer, not caring if Narcissa objected to his words.
"I propose no such thing. I just wish you to see that you were not the only one who let your heart rule over your head," she said snappishly, tiring of the petulant attitude of her friend.
"I care not for what motivations your former husband might have," Severus told her angrily, getting to his feet suddenly enough to scrap his chair against the floor loudly. Narcissa remained seated, her face carefully blank and as elegant as ever. "Lucius is nothing to me."
"And yet you flee from him," she pointed out, and Severus couldn't help his flinch at her words. "He has simply insulted you and you run, surrender so much that is yours. Your home, your job, your potions."
Severus seemed to think on it, hating the truth in her words. He had never proclaimed himself to be brave, and have never sought to be thought of as such, but he had fled like a coward in the face of naught but words. "Then you suggest...?"
"That you return. Lucius has been moved into alternative accommodation," she informed him. "Return to Hogwarts, Severus; that is where you belong."
He watched her closely, before taking his seat again. He felt a little ashamed of his outburst, but took care not to show it. "All this so that I can watch over Draco?" he asked, suspecting her motivations lay with her son's safety as they so often did. That was where her only true sentimentality was to be found, in her love of her only child.
"A consideration that I would appreciate," she admitted, nodding her head at him slightly.
"I shall consider it, Narcissa. For now, that is the best I can offer you in good conscience."
It was a few days later when Harry received a letter from the Headmaster inviting him to a meeting in his office that evening. He was somewhat reluctant to leave Draco given that there was still no sign of Snape's return and that things were still so up in the air regarding his relationship with his father. His boyfriend had assured him, however, that there was no need for such worries and that he would simply use the few hours of peace to study.
And so it was that Harry made his way the familiar and mostly empty castle corridors towards the Headmaster's office. It had been the best part of a month since they had last met; between the release of the article about Draco and him being Erotes, and whatever was going on between Lucius and Snape, their meetings seemed to have been put on a back-burner. Though that simply could have been Dumbledore waiting for them to meet 'at the right time', or some other such nonsense.
Either way, Harry was not exactly looking forward to the next few hours as he climbed the staircase behind the gargoyle and stepped through the large door.
"Ah, good evening, Harry," Dumbledore greeted warmly, from where he was sat behind his desk. He seemed genuinely pleased to see the teen standing before him in his large office; though Harry supposed given the eventual purpose of these meetings was to defeat Voldemort, it made sense that he would be enthusiastic about their continuation.
"Sir," Harry said a little stiffly. He still had very little desire to cooperate with these meetings, certainly while the Headmaster was keeping him so much in the dark about their purpose. He did, however, wish to see to Voldemort gone from all their lives, so, as long as the Headmaster's demands were what he would consider reasonable, he would continue to allow Dumbledore to lead them down this path.
"Have a seat, my boy," he said, his voice kindly and enthusiastic in a way that Harry found rather exhausting to even listen to. But he complied nonetheless, moving across the office and dropping himself into the rather kitsch armchair that was there.
Dumbledore seemed to be finishing off some kind of paperwork and so Harry took a moment to glance around. Fawkes was absent from his perch and he vaguely wondered where the phoenix was. Otherwise the office was more or less as Harry had always known it to be and he was not surprised to see that the pensieve had already been moved into place and that there were several vials containing memories next to it. He would admit to a mild curiosity as to what they would show, but given the choice, in that moment, he would have still taken the option to return to Draco.
"A few of my own memories to start with today, I think," the Headmaster informed Harry, as he got to his feet and indicating for the Gryffindor teenager to do the same. "I attempted to gather memories from others who knew Tom Riddle in his younger years, but you might not be surprised to hear that most were reluctant to acknowledge that they knew him, let alone discuss or share memories of him."
Harry frowned, mildly annoyed that it seemed he was going to spend another evening studying the history of Voldemort and he could only hope that they would reach the point of this little venture soon.
"We will not be spending much time on these, I simply wish you to show you the studious, polite young man that Tom became whilst within this school," Dumbledore informed Harry, having seen the expression on his face. "Do not fear, my boy, I have a particularly curious memory of when Tom went to meet Morfin Gaunt that I wish to show you after."
"His uncle?" Harry questioned, remembering the memories of the Gaunt family that Dumbledore had shown him previously. That admittedly piqued his interest somewhat and at least explained why he had had to watch the previous memory; he could only hope that there was some purpose to all of this.
"Very good, Harry," the Headmaster praised, glad that his student was paying attention, they still had a fair bit to get through before they were done and so he was glad to not have to be explaining every little detail.
Harry watched on as Dumbledore added the few memories that were apparently of Voldemort in his school years into the pensieve. "After you, my boy," the old Headmaster said with a wave of his hand. Harry was familiar with the process by now, and, bracing himself for another long evening immersed in scenes of the past, he lowered his face to the bowl and fell through into the first of what was likely to be many memories.
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