This is actually my first Harry Potter fic. The plot was inspired by an X-files
fic intitled The Rape.

Disclaimers: I don't own any of this. Leave me be!

Warnings: Eventually NC-17 for rape, non-con, sexual abuse, however
you wanna say it. Oh, and slash.

Summary: In which Snape is a better actor than even he guessed, and
Harry makes a bargain with the devil.


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A Perfect Circle
Chapter One: Blackmail Lullabye
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metaphor for a missing moment
pull me into your perfect circle
one womb one shape one resolve
liberate this will to release us all
gotta cut away clear away snip away and sever this
umbilical residue that's keeping me from killing you
and from pulling you down with me here
i can almost hear you scream
give me one more medicated peaceful moment
because i don't want to feel this overwhelming hostility
gotta cut away clear away snip away and sever this
umbilical residue that's keeping me from killing you

-orestes
-a perfect circle



The corridors were dark with the full flush of evening, and Harry crept through
them with the confidence of an oversized invisibility cloak. Somewhere in the
echoing halls a clock began to strike midnight, and Harry's light steps
quickened to a run, his hand going to the note in his pocket. He stroked the
crumpled paper, feeling his breath begin to burn with desperation as he hit
the first set of stairs. He'd never make it on time.

He was gasping now; his invisible passage excited a murmuring from the
paintings as he flew past, heedless of the noise he made. He jerked his hand
from his pocket, abandoning the note in favor of the added leverage he
needed to bound up the stairs two and three at a time.

The clock chimed eight.

The clock chimed nine.

The clock chimed ten.

He staggered to a halt, sweat dripping down his brow and dampening the collar of his
jumper–Weasley green. The door to the tower was closed, as he'd expected, though he
knew that it wouldn't be locked. The two gargoyles stared at him blankly, and didn't
react when he lowered the cloak and stepped past them and through the door.

The clock chimed twelve.

The door squealed itself shut.

"I'm not late," he gasped, searching the dark room for any sign of activity: his night vision
had never been particularly good, and as this room had no windows it was literally darker
than pitch. It was also silent; his harsh breaths were the only sound, and when he shuffled
his feet nervously, the rasping shush-shush seemed magnified out of proportion. "I'm
*not*." He said again, insistent.

There was a rustling in the deeper shadows; strange how after several moments of terror he
could distinguish between shades of black. The sound came again, like the sloughing noise
of swarming locusts or crushed-velvet robes.

"Professor?" Harry asked nervously, wishing he'd been allowed to bring his wand; a quick
lumos spell would have been a huge relief. He didn't like this dark. It felt like it was pressing
down on him. "Professor, I'm here, why--"

"That's enough, Potter."

The man stepped out of the shadows, and finally Harry could make out the darker shape
against the cluttered and shaded walls. He swallowed; his breathing had slowed and
evened, but it quickened now as a nervous sweat sprang up on the back of his neck.

"Is he . . ." Harry couldn't even finish the thought.

"I keep my word. He yet lives. Lumos."

Light flared, momentarily blinding Harry; he brought his hands up to his eyes, dropping
the invisibility cloak in an effort to save his vision. He squinted into the ghostly wizard
light, glaring up at Snape. The man looked rather put out, as though Harry's successful
arrival had lessened his enjoyment of the night's activities.

A low moan startled him, and he whirled, only to see a body on the floor. He rushed to
Dumbledore's side, cradling the fragile head in his hands.

"You said you wouldn't hurt him, damnit!" Harry panted, running frantic fingers through the
wispy white hair. "I came, you said . . . I came."

"This was merely a demonstration, Potter," Snape sneered, moving to hold a small orb
in the light. It gleamed softly, causing Harry to glance up at his teacher; he paused, staring
at the globe. It was beautiful, though the interior was marred by a series of flecks and
black bubbles. Harry's eyes narrowed, and he met Snape's black glare.

"What did you mean, demonstration?" He asked, voice low and wary. Snape smiled, his
lips twisting in a painful-looking grimace.

"I told you I wouldn't *kill* him if you came," Snape said, his voice holding something like
a laugh. "I never mentioned hurting anyone."

"What is that thing?"

"Oh, good, ten points to Griffyndor," Snape said mockingly. "It's a Onan Orb. And don't
bother taking this information to Granger, even she won't be able to help you with a
solution this time. I invented the Orb."

"What does it do?" Harry asked carefully, hands still idly stroking Dumbledore's hair; the
old wizard groaned again, and seemed to be waking.

"It kills. Quite simply, it fills the blood until the heart bursts." Snape actually smiled then,
and Harry shuddered, his mind filling with a brief image of Dumbledore's funeral, in full
technicolor. "And no thought of stealing it, either. This Orb is merely a trigger. The spell
is already in the headmaster's blood. Without my daily intervention, he will die whether
you have the Orb or not."

Harry shuddered again, feeling his heart thump once, heavily; then it settled into his chest
like ice. Dumbledore had quieted, but lines of strain were carved around his eyes, and
the veins of his forehead throbbed visibly, as though his blood *had* been full and swollen
with some spell. Harry firmed his resolve; he would not fail the Headmaster. Not with all
that he owed him.

He looked up, meeting Snape's knowing gaze. He swallowed.

"What do you want?"

Snape smiled again.

"That is not a matter to be discussed here." The potions master turned his back as though
aware that Harry was no longer a threat. "Come down to my office tomorrow night, same time."

Harry glared at his back, wishing with everything in him that he had his wand, wishing that
having his wand would make a bit of difference. He sighed.

"Yessir," he mumbled, moving to attend to Dumbledore.

"Oh, and Potter?"

Snape's words made him pause; he looked up from his task, feeling a trickle of dread
begin at the base of his spine.

"If you are late again, it won't go so easy for your precious headmaster."

And with that, the professor had gone.

Harry sighed, relieved, and set about tending to Dumbledore's comfort.

Tomorrow night . . .

What could Snape possibly want this badly?

"Harry?"

Dumbledore stirred, and Harry nearly fell backwards when the headmaster spoke.

"Sir! Do you remember what happened?" he asked anxiously, helping the
old wizard sit up. Dumbledore frowned, fumbling about with one shaking
hand until he found his half-moon glasses and perched them upon his nose.
Then he smiled.

"I haven't the faintest, my dear boy," he said joivially. "What brings you
up here in the dead of night?" he continued, heaving himself to his feet with
a groan. Harry stood with him, keeping an arm ready should he fall.

Dumbledore's eyes met his, and he was struck rather suddenly with an
extremely Slytherin thought: He doesn't remember. Quick! Make
something up!

"I . . .I," he fumbled, putting a hand to his forehead to help himself think.
"I . . ." His fingers brushed across his scar. "My scar hurt!" He blurted,
turning just as Dumbledore sat wearily behind his desk. "And I thought
I should come tell you, so I did; only the door was open and the gargoyles
let me in and you weren't moving . . . I was just about to go and get help . . ."
he trailed off miserably, unable to meet the headmaster's gaze. Harry hated
having to lie to the man.

"Did a vision accompany this pain, Harry?" Dumbledore looked quite grave
and serious, very paternalistic. Harry swallowed and shook his head.

"No," Harry said aloud. "Just the pain."

"Well, that would seem to indicate that one of Voldemort's followers is
very close," Dumbledore mused quietly, gleaming eyes still fixed on the
Boy Who Lived.

"Should I go for help?" Harry asked tentatively, taking one step toward the
door.

"No," Dumbledore answered with a slightly wistful smile. "I would have liked
to visit Poppy, but there's no sense in waking her now. Everything is fine, my
boy," the headmaster continued. "You should get to bed."

"Yessir," Harry whispered, staring at Dumbledore for just a moment as though
he'd never see the old wizard again; then he stepped swiftly into the corridor,
nearly running until he was back on a lower level.

He stopped after several minutes, breath heaving; he leaned against a wall, letting his
head fall back to thump into stone. He was crying.

He'd never realized just how frail Dumbledore was before.

The old wizard couldn't take care of Harry. He couldn't even take care of himself.

Harry let the knowledge of his own isolation and vulnerability fill him until he
slid down the wall to his knees. His tears had stopped. This was too big for
crying.

Snape wanted to see him tomorrow night, and he still had no idea *why* Snape
was doing this.

Dumbledore was more than just a bit batty, he was defenseless against the potions
master.

Sirius was still on the run.

No way was he bringing Ron or Mione in on this.

Harry was comepletely alone.

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To be continued in The Bargain Chapter Two: Fallen Angel