The vast universal suffering feel as thine:
Thou must bear the sorrow that thou claimst to heal;
The day-bringer must walk in darkest night.
He who would save the world must share its pain.
If he knows not grief, how shall he find grief's cure?
Chapter 1: Into the Fold
After the fall of Voldemort Harry had thought he would have found peace, or at least the time to seek peace out. That wasn't the case though, they had taken him a few nights after the war had ended and he had woken up here chained. The worst part was he did not know who was tormenting him, they came in cloaks, in whispers and they never acknowledged him. He was chained the ceiling, stripped bare, and he woke in their grasp as they slid a knife down his shoulder blades.
He wasn't the only captive, across from Harry there was another man facing him also chained and stripped bare. This man had long blond hair that hid his face, he was golden tanned and his body was lined with swirling scars that Harry thought almost looked like tattoos. That wasn't what caught his attention at first; it was the man's wings, three sets on each side, a total of six, beautiful wings. The wings were pure white, like freshly fallen snow and reminded Harry of Hedwig.
Harry had tried to talk to the man but he was still unconscious and Harry had learned not to speak while their captors were in the room. Instead Harry turned his attention to his surrounding trying to see what he could use, he was used to being kidnapped and knew he had to look for a way to escape on his own. It was unlikely that another house elf like Dobby would pop in to save him this time. He stomped down the hurt from that thought.
This was not the time or the place to think about loses they had sustained during the war and it wouldn't help him now. A few hours later Harry watched with morbid fascination as the captors hooked the other winged man up to what looked like muggle blood bags. The two bags filled with blood, the color of it was strange it was the deep black red Harry recognized but every so often Harry saw it glow gold.
When the two bags were full they unhooked the winged man and came towards him. It made him nervous and Harry tried to struggle. That was a mistake he was out like a light afterwards and he woke up with the two blood bags hooked into his arms. Somehow Harry didn't think that was sanitary giving him blood from the other man. That's when Harry noticed that the winged man was up, he had the most unreal violet eyes Harry had ever seen and unfortunately spoke a language Harry didn't recognize.
The winged man was beautiful, a very masculine face but somehow it seemed unworldly to Harry. They managed to introduce themselves somehow, the winged man was Raziel and Harry's own name was a struggle for Raziel. Even though Harry could not understand him Raziel spoke to him often, from his tone Harry knew he was asking him questions frequently and Harry wished he knew what he was saying.
There was no way to really tell time where they were held; it was underground plain-cemented room with only flickering candles for light. So Harry told time by when they came to cut into his back when they took blood from Raziel and when they put Raziel's blood into him. By his count it had been a little over a month, food was the bare minimum of some bread and water. It was taking its toil on Harry who had already been painfully thin before their starvation.
Every time they put Raziel's blood into him Harry had to fight to keep what little food he had in, it made him feel sickly and weak. It also made him sleep and it was hard to concentrate on trying to escape when his mind couldn't seem to think. Then one day, two months in on his count, Raziel's constant stream of words started to make sense. It was like he was listening to someone underwater through an old radio though…unclear and not very consistent.
Eventually one day, as if someone had taken plugs from his ears, Harry understood. "What is it like to love?" Raziel asked. Harry had tried talking to him in English before but Raziel hadn't understood him at all. But Harry thought he could try again, "I don't know, I haven't ever been in love," Harry said. Raziel looked at him with wide eyes and Harry began to notice that Raziel's skin had lost some of its golden sheen.
"But you know of love? You understand it? Tell me of love, I wish to know," Raziel asked.
Harry struggled to clear his mind enough to answer (concentrating was hard), "I guess love is something hard to define, what type of love are you talking about?" Harry said.
"There are types of love?" Raziel asked.
Talking about love, after months of not being able to talk to each other should not have mattered but somehow it did. "Well there is platonic love, like the love a parent has for their child or one has for a friend. Then there is romantic love, the one feels with someone special like a husband has for a wife." Harry mused.
For a long time all they talked about was love, what it was, what it felt like, what it caused, and Harry discovered some new things about how he viewed love himself. "Love is the willingness to give yourself to another knowing they could hurt you deeply but trusting them not to," Harry said as he described how he viewed romantic love.
Raziel was obsessed with love, he wanted to know everything about it, even inane little phrases about love caught his attention, 'love conquers all', 'alls fair in love and war'. Stupid things Harry hadn't ever taken the time to concentrate on or really think about. Here he was having a philosophical discussion about love and it was as surreal as it was liberating. Eventually Raziel asked Harry about himself, where he came from, about his life and Harry told him.
He left his life before Hogwarts vague, but Harry told him about his adventures in the magic school. About learning he was a wizard, that he was famous, about his first year there. He told him about facing Voldemort that first time, how scared he had been, and how he had taken martial arts lessons starting that summer. Raziel was a good listener, asking questions at the right time and keeping his attention focused on Harry.
Harry found himself opening up more than he ever had, talking about down playing his ability and keeping his true thoughts to himself. About how alone he felt, but how he had never reached out to anyone. Harry told him about talking to snakes, about how they looked at him that second year, and how he had not meant to pretend to be duller or weaker than he was. It was a habit he had taken from his years with the Dursleys and he hadn't broken it even now.
He told Raziel how it felt to be bitten by a basilisk and the feel of the phoenix tears fighting the venom…even now. His whole life at Hogwarts was soon laid out, third year, getting his black belt, fourth year, beginning wing chun, fifth year, beginning to learn weapons, sixth year, then the war. How it felt handling the hallows, how it felt to die, and how confused he was about where he had gone after he had died.
How it felt to kill someone, his guilt over it while he felt guiltier about taking so long. When he couldn't talk anymore Raziel began to tell him about himself. He was an angel from a heaven dimension sworn to fight evil in all its forms, he was also the keeper of knowledge and he wasn't sure how he had gotten captured either. The marks on his body were angelic runes, some for protection, some for healing, some for strength, and some for courage.
Raziel told him about demons, about dimensions, about how this earth was a nexus for all of those things. He told him about hellmouths, vampires, and demons, as he knew them. He was very old, he did not know his beginnings nor did he know what became of humans after they died. He told Harry death, for a human with a soul, was a personal thing and that for each it is different. He told Harry some about why he was so fascinated with love, and why he had so many questions about humans.
Love, was something Raziel was forbidden from ever feeling. It would cause him to 'fall'. "What would happen, if you 'fell'?" Harry asked.
"It would depend on the fall, my wings would turn black, and I would become mortal." Raziel said slowly.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" Harry asked.
"It would depend on your view of it, I am an immortal being meant to do good. If I were to fall I could no longer do my sworn duty and I would eventually die. Unlike humans, angels do not have a soul we do not live on after death…should I fall and die there would be nothing left of me." Raziel said matter-of-factly.
Harry wasn't sure what to make of that, "Is it weird, not having a soul?" Harry asked instead.
Raziel laughed at him, "I would not know, as I have nothing to compare the feeling to," He answered.
"What does it mean," Harry wondered out loud, "to have a soul."
"In the grand scheme of things everything and nothing. Just because I do not have a soul does not mean I do not feel, I do, deeply. I still have emotions, and was born for good. For some, like a human who has lost their soul to vampirism, the absence of a soul makes them cruel. It makes them prone to do evil, not that they cannot do good as well but it is unlikely." Raziel answered.
"Why does the absence of their soul make them cruel?" Harry asked. He had thought that vaguely vampires were like werewolves suffering from an affliction they had not control over.
"Human beings are born with souls, they need their souls to guide them. When a vampire is made the soul leaves the body and demon energy takes its place…guiding them to do evil. They are still themselves, they have their memories, they still feel, but they succumb to committing terrible acts for the pleasure it brings," Raziel said.
Days wore on, Harry began to feel sicker, with every dose given from Raziel's blood and Raziel began to look as badly as he felt. "Why are your chains glowing?" Harry asked.
Raziel smiled weakly at him, "You can finally see," he rasped, "It is the magic holding me here…no mortal chains could bind me to the earth…it leaches my power and uses it to bind me here."
Then one day something horrible happened, worse than any day before their capture and any day of it. They came in, three of them, and tore off a pair of Raziel's wings. Harry screamed at them to stop, he screamed with Raziel as they did it, and screamed at them as they left with two of his wings. Harry screamed until his voice gave out and struggled futilely to get out of his chains to get to Raziel.
Raziel was left slumped, blood leaking from the stumps they had left behind breathing weakly. Harry didn't know what to do, he could not offer him physical comfort he was chained and could not break free. He didn't know what he could say to comfort him either. Raziel, as it seemed to be his habit, answered his silent question weakly, "Would you sing to me?" he whimpered.
Harry didn't know any songs, his mind was blank, he didn't think he was that good of a singer but Raziel needed him. He sang a song he made up on the spot, nonsense really, but in low comforting tones. With soft, gentle words to reassure him. Raziel smiled at him the entire time through his pain and it made Harry wonder at him.
Raziel was a big man, six foot something was Harry's guess, with broad shoulders and toned muscles. He was an Adonis, attractive, the ideal appearance of a manly man. Yet he was so much more than any man Harry had ever met, kind, patient, sweet, with a very good heart. "May I be half the man you are someday," Harry whispered some time later.
"You are more than that my friend, more than that," Raziel answered.
It was Harry's turn later they came in with a vat of white powered ooze that Harry noticed with horror had feathers in it. It was Raziel's wings, butchered, powered, creamed, and deformed into something hideous. They pulled his chains up so he could not move his arms and his feet dangled not touching the ground. Then they cut his back open again, more deeply then ever before, and pressed shoved their concoction into the wounds.
Then horrors continued when Harry could no longer feel the blood running down his back but instead two raw wounds sealed shut with the stuff. They went to Raziel, bled him into the remains of the concoction and then forced him to eat the rest. When his stomach protested and rebelled they just put more into him spelling his stomach from expelling anything more. Then they left him slumped on the ground delirious from sickness and filled with horror.
Raziel sang to him them; sweet songs that were so beautiful Harry cried it was like listening to a phoenix given the voice to word its song. He sang until Harry gave into the darkness. Raziel woke him soon after, "Harry you must wake up!" He said.
"What," Harry said struggling to sit up, sickness weighing him down, "What is it?"
When Harry sat up and could focus past the illness he felt he saw with dawning fear that Raziel was writing in his own blood on the ground. All around the angel's feet there was a swirling circle of beautiful designs Harry recognized as angelic runes and script. "There isn't much time I can feel them summoning a demon not far from here…I fear what they will do to you with a demon in their possession." Raziel said.
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked franticly trying to clear his cloudy thoughts. It was a struggle.
"They are changing you Harry, already I see the evidence of it," Raziel said not taking his eyes off his work. "Every day you gain more and more angelic features, they have designs for you Harry, and I think they mean to use the demon to add to your traits." Raziel said.
"What? I don't understand, why are they doing this?" Harry asked as he struggled to think.
"Of that I cannot phantom their motives, but I don't plan to let them have their way!" Raziel said as he pushed against his drawing, Harry saw his blood begin to glow. The blood flowed from the design, up Harry's body and shattered his chains. Harry smiled before weakly dragging his body to Raziel intent to help his friend. Raziel smiled at him and gathered him up in his arms when he made it across the room.
"I'll rest a bit then work on your chains," Harry said smiling at him.
Raziel smiled back sadly, "I'm afraid that is not possible my friend," he said before he kissed Harry. It was like no other kiss Harry had ever experienced, not only from a man, but so full of something intangible. It was the best kiss he had ever been given.
"What are you saying Raziel?" Harry said when Raziel pulled back.
Raziel smiled at him before he began to draw an angelic rune on Harry's chest over his heart. "It means that I have fallen my friend," Raziel said as he finished his drawing and then he plucked some feathers from his remaining wings giving it to Harry.
"What?" Harry said clucking the snow white feathers to his chest. Absentmindedly Harry noted how very soft they felt.
Before his eyes Raziel's wings began to gray and then soon they were pitch black. The wings drooped, Raziel's skin became a sickly gray and his eyes lost their glow, and through it all Raziel was smiling. "I have fallen in love with you Harry, I would save you from this, and to do so I have to die." He said simply.
"No! We can figure this out! Please no Raziel!" Harry said as he weakly clutched at Raziel.
Raziel touched his forehead to Harry's, staring deeply into his eyes, "I am dying Harry, my wounds are far past what my new mortal body can take, I will die this night but I would see you far from here when I go. I shall take these creatures with me, so you shall not have to fear their shadow later," he said a bit of strength coming into his eyes.
"No, please Raziel, we can do this together, I can save you too!" Harry said desperately.
"Oh, my Morningstar, I love you and I pray that you won't forget me. But I must do this. I want to leave this world knowing you are safe. Love is truly a wondrous thing Harry, I am glad to have known it, please seek it out once I have gone…love is worth this pain," Raziel kissed Harry one last time and then place a hand over his heart. "This rune means love, my Morningstar, I have never written it before for fear of falling…it is beautiful and almost worthy of you." Raziel said.
A portal opened up under Harry's feet and he began to cry, "Raziel!" he cried.
"Think of someplace safe Harry," Raziel said as the portal enveloped Harry.
Harry hit the ground hard; collapsing against the sand he heard the rustling sound of waves hitting the shore and smelled salty air. He lay in a crumpled heap, breathing harshly and shivering from the cold. The light of the moon and the stars bathed the world in a soft light. Harry stared at his surroundings from the ground dizzily trying to figure out where he was, and a familiar grave marker enlightened him. He was at Bill and Fleur's sea cottage.
Faintly as if it was whispered inside his ear Raziel's voice came to him, "I give you knowledge, all that I have, all that I can give," it whispered across his mind. Then the rune on his chest grew hot and there was a sudden pressure on his mind. A thick warm wetness began to stream from his nose, a nosebleed, and then he seized. Contorting the pain of sudden knowledge not earned but given crashed down on him. He screamed.
~Three years Later Outside Oxnard~
Harry drove listening to music and thoughts getting lost in the past. Bill had found him that night three years ago, nursed him back to health enough that he could be moved. It was a long recovery, what he had thought had only been six months tops in captivity had in fact been a year and by the time he had escaped his nineteenth birthday had already passed. Getting back to being somewhat healthy had been harder than he had thought…it had taken him a year to get some of the weight back and to walk for more than a mile without becoming exhausted.
After he had managed to get released from St. Mungos he had to battle with Gringotts to get his money from them…a battle they had lost surprisingly fast. It had been in part to the fact that his body had been going through some changes, marks of his captors' experiments evident, and his eyes when angered took on the quality of a Basilisk. His glare could literally petrify the goblins and it hadn't taken them long to see that giving him his money would be better than trying to stop him.
He learned from that experience and had moved his money to some muggle banks along with keeping some on himself heavily protected. It was never a good idea to keep his money in just one place it was a lesson well learned. After he had gotten that settled he had holed himself away from the world and for two years he tried to process Raziel's last gift.
As was his habit Harry's hand unerringly went to his chest just over his heart, there hidden under his chest was a mark that looked almost like a very fancy tattoo the color of rust. It was the rune Raziel had written in his own blood and the mark of what had happened that night years ago. The mark felt as if it were a scar to the touch but appeared as a tattoo to the eye, in truth it was a conduit. It gave Harry the knowledge that had been Raziel…it had been that same knowledge that had spurned him from his isolation.
Harry had left his hermit home and had decided to go out into the world to see what it held. He had toured a bit of Europe before he had turned his attention to America, and so here he was driving aimlessly. Harry wanted to see what he knew to be out there, things he had never known existed before he had met Raziel. It was as if he had been blind and been given sight at last.
He touched his face, in more ways than one he had been given sight; whatever they had done to him had given him better vision freeing him from his glasses. It was not a loss Harry had mourned though it had been strange to be without them at first. He was jarred from his thoughts when he saw a boy around his age sitting on the side of the road next to a smoking car. Without even thinking about it Harry pulled over to see if he could help, faintly he heard Hermione's voice in his mind commenting on his 'saving people thing'.
Harry smiled as he got out and approached the guy. "Alright there mate, you look like you're in a spot of trouble there," Harry said.
The boy looked up at him with a startled expression getting up and brushing off his pants as he went. "Yeah, the engine dropped out and left me stranded," he said annoyance coloring his tone as he glared at the car.
Harry fought down the urge to laugh, holding out his hand he shook the boy's hand introducing himself, "I'm Harry by the way, Harry Potter," he said introducing himself.
The boy smiled, "Alexander Harris, just call me Xander," he said.
"Just Harry for me mate," Harry said in turn. "So do you want to ride with me into town, I can call you a tow," Harry offered gesturing to his own car.
Xander nodded eagerly, "Yeah thanks man, you're a life saver." He said.
"No worries," Harry said as he got in Xander right behind. Harry called in a tow and they waited for the tow truck before heading into town after it.
"So what brought you over here? Your accent's English right?" Xander said brightly.
"I'm just wondering, I believe the Aussie's call it a walkabout and you Americans call it a…roadtrip?" Harry said.
"Me too!" Xander said eagerly, "I wanted to drive around and see a bit of the world before going back to my home town."
"Yeah, where you from Yankee?" Harry asked jokingly.
"Little place called Sunnydale, few hours that way," Xander said waving his hand vaguely behind them.
"So you're just starting your journey then?" Harry asked as they pulled into the town off the freeway.
"Yeah, it's not starting out too well. Might have to put my vacation on hold while I earn enough to get that heap fixed," Xander said morosely.
Harry wasn't sure what brought him to offering it but before he realized what he was saying he was offering, "Well, I am pretty much doing what you are just wandering around no real goal in mind, if you want you can ride with me," Harry said.
"Really?!" Xander said excitedly bouncing on his seat.
"Yeah really, I could use the company it gets a bit lonely on the road," Harry said as they pulled into the autoshop behind the tow truck. "Let's see what the damage is on your car first, if it's too much I'll pay the tow to take it back to your home and then you can ride with me." Harry said absentmindedly.
"Wow, I don't know what to say man! Thanks doesn't seem enough," Xander said genuinely.
"Pay it forward mate, I'd like to think if I was stranded somewhere some kind soul would pick me up," Harry said smiling.