Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling. I own nothing. No money is being made from the creation of this work and no copyright infringement is intended.
"There will be no going back from this. Once we are bonded, not even death will break it."
Bill Weasley stared up into somber gray eyes and nodded. Lifting a hand, he brushed Salazar's cheek with his knuckles. It was a profoundly intimate gesture and Bill was always filled with wonder that Salazar not only allowed it, but relished it.
"We've tried everything,” he murmured. “There is no sending me forward when I was always meant to come back."
Salazar covered Bill's hand with his own. Long, pale fingers caressed strong tan ones.
“I will ask you one last time,” Salazar said, his voice a low purr that skated across Bill’s senses like liquid sin. “This is what you want? I will not surrender you once I have claimed you as mine.”
“You have already claimed me,” Bill replied. “Salazar, I was the first of seven children. For a brief time I can't even remember, I was my parents' entire world. After me there was Charlie, then Percy and the others. Before I was old enough to hold my first wand, I had become just a number. There’s the eldest Weasley child. Maybe I was number one for a while, but before long, people grow tired with the old and fixate on the new."
Tilting his head, Bill pressed his scarred cheek to Salazar’s unmarred one.
"After the battle, when I was marked, I stopped being one of seven and became something infinitely worse. I became one of many. A monster. Not entirely a wizard, but not fully a creature either. Doors were slammed in my face and darker windows opened to me. When people glanced my way, all they saw was the mangled remains of what had once been something beautiful." He was very quiet for a long moment. "Save one."
Salazar's arms came around Bill's waist and he pulled the younger man close.
Bill shook himself free of old memories and focused on the here and now.
“I have no desire to return to that world. Why would I want to live in a time where you're hated and I'm feared? You see me, Salazar. You don't see a monster. So yes, I'm certain."
At his words, the embracing couple felt the vibrant magic of the young castle quiver around them, a warm caress both tender and eager. Sinking his fingers into long red strands, Salazar tugged Bill's head back and smiled down into darkening eyes.
"I do believe magic agrees."
"Of course it does," Bill murmured. "Magic understands the simple truth."
"And what would that be?"
"That I love you and I don't give a bloody hell what the world thinks."
Salazar's only response was to drag Bill’s lips to his, claiming them with heated passion. Bill’s eyes closed as their tongues tangled in a battle for dominance that was older than time itself. When they parted, Bill was panting, his breeches uncomfortably tight.
"And I," Salazar growled in a voice thick with arousal, "have finally found the one magic has made for me."
Bill's smile was both tender and teasing. "Why Salazar, that sounded suspiciously like a profession of love."
Salazar scowled. “I refuse to transform into a besotted fool due to a Gryffindor's uncanny ability to cause the space time continuum to malfunction."
"Careful," Bill murmured, leaning forward to lay wicked waste to Salazar's neck with lips and tongue. "Such vehement protests may cause me to doubt your disdain for red and gold."
Growling, Salazar tilted his head, his fingers running through Bill's unbound hair. He loathed what red and gold represented, but he could also admit, if only to himself, the disgustingly sappy truth; his redhead was certainly golden to him.
Running a finger down Bill’s spine and smirking at the shudder the action evoked, Salazar cupped his hands at the small of his lover’s back. He could feel Bill mimicking the position. When he spoke, the conviction in his voice was absolute.
"I, Salazar Slytherin, accept thee, William Weasley as my bonded, my mate, my lover, my friend. I vow upon my life to honor and defend, cherish and love thee, the other half of my soul. Should I raise my wand against thee of my own free will, may Magic strike me where I stand. So I speak, so I intend and so I vow.“
As his hands pulsed with power, Salazar linked his fingers and slid his palms up Bill's back, placing them directly behind his heart.
"Doth thee, William Weasley, accept my heart, my magic, and my life?"
" I, William Weasley, accept thee, Salazar Slytherin as my bonded, my mate, my lover, my friend. I vow upon my life to guard and protect the sacred gifts thou hath bestowed upon me, to honor and obey, cherish and love thee, the other half of my soul. Should I raise my wand against thee of my own free will, may Magic strike me where I stand. So I speak, so I intend and so I vow.“
As the palms of Bill's pulsing hands came to rest behind Salazar’s heart, a glowing web of magic formed around them, accompanied by the softly crooned song of a phoenix. A thin cord of light encircled the pair before surging through Bill’s hands and directly into Salazar’s body.
Salazar jerked, the motion mimicked by Bill seconds later as a lance of agony pierced his heart, reshaping his very soul to honor the vows he had spoken. As the web around them thickened and dissolved, Bill gasped as the burning pain in his chest was suddenly replaced with a fierce, unbound passion.
Salazar sucked in a hissing breath and Bill was certain there had been words on that hiss. They weren’t words he could understand… and yet, they were. Even as he listened, the softly hissed syllables shaped themselves into something he could comprehend.
“Mine… mine… mine…”
Bill had only a moment to relish the possessive hunger in the single, repeated word before Salazar’s mouth crashed against his in a kiss that curled his toes. At the frenzied, near violent contact, their minds were flung wide to one another. Thoughts were shared as magic entwined.
As the light filling the Chamber faded from a sickly green to a soft gold, the two lovers sank to their knees, arms holding and mouths mating, bodies straining toward that ultimate connection. Hands clutched, tongues twined, pleasure spiked and hearts mended. Words failed as love took over.
Far away, in a future of prophecies and pain, Lord Voldemort stared down a length of ebony at the bloody form of a young man. His messy raven hair was soaked with blood and his emerald eyes were filled with suffering.
"My day has finally come," the monster that had once been Tom Riddle gloated, caressing his wand almost tenderly. "Harry Potter, lying at my feet, too weak and beaten to fight back."
Voldemort gazed down with glee at the young man who had dared to defy him.
"There is nothing left for you to do but die, Potter." He seemed almost disappointed. "Alas. Who am I to defy fate?"
Harry watched wearily as Voldemort raised his wand. Part of him wanted to close his eyes, but he would not give the creature before him the satisfaction of seeing him give up. The beauty of the world he had so loved as an innocent eleven-year-old had long since faded, leaving in its wake a roiling nest of blood politics and double standards. Part of Harry wondered if saving them was the answer, when all they would do was destroy themselves in the end.
But he was Harry Potter. Hermione had often told him that he had a "saving people thing" and he could finally admit she was right. He had vowed to save them all and he had tried. Would they remember his sacrifice? Unlikely. They would vilify him for being unable to do what Albus Dumbledore himself had not been able to do. But that was all right. Harry had done his part, and he was going home now.
As the words of the killing curse formed on the snakelike mouth, Harry smiled. He saw Voldemort's eyes widen, but he would never realize just how shaken Tom Riddle had been at the sight of his young nemesis smiling in the face of death.
At that precise moment, golden light flooded the chamber accompanied by a roar of sound that was wind and fire and laughter and tears and life and death and song and love all at once. A crushing wave of warm air washed over Harry, pinning him in place as the world shifted around him. He thought he heard a high-pitched scream of mortal terror and he could only conclude that whatever was happening, it had done what Harry could not.
Harry didn't know how long he lay there, but soon the roar was replaced with a high-pitched whine. It took him a few terrifying moments to realize it was the sound of silence and not the absence of the world. Pressing his palms to the hard floor beneath him, he reaffirmed that he was still quite alive and by the lack of Avada Kedavras being flung left and right, apparently quite alone.
Opening his eyes, Harry gaped.
Gone was the damp gray stone, replaced with smooth white marble. No longer was the room suffused in a sickly green glow and swimming with the rotting tendrils of tainted magic. The enormous pillars were still there, though atop every one was set the marble head of a roaring lion, each with a flowing crimson mane. Emerald serpents wound about the pillars, the heads coming to rest snugly within the ripples of said manes.
The skeleton of the dead basilisk was nowhere in sight and the gargantuan, crudely carved statue of Salazar Slytherin had been replaced with one that caused Harry's breath to catch in astonishment. Where the dark likeness had once stood, there now rested a platform of white marble inlaid with silver runes. Upon this platform, gazing out over their domain, were the granite forms of two men.
The taller held himself with a regal air. Inky black waves of hair flowed to his shoulders, complimenting his sculpted features and the hard set of his mouth. His gray eyes seemed to bore into Harry with such intensity it almost made him cower. The man's right arm was lifted in a mock salute, a silver serpent winding about it, a familiar locket clutched in hard, pale fingers.
Slowly focusing his attention on the second form, Harry was once again stricken with shock.
The second man was slightly shorter than his companion, though tall in his own right. Flaming-red hair framed a handsome face, half of which was badly scarred, lending him a dangerous air. A fang earring dangled from one ear. In his free hand, the man held a sword, a familiar ruby glinting in the hilt.
Both men were clad in robes of midnight blue, their expressions fierce. Harry's eyes fell to their clasped hands, noting the silver serpent encircling them, like the bonding ribbons of old. As his eyes dropped to the plaque at their feet, Harry knew even before he saw them whose names would be engraved there.
Salazar E. Slytherin
William A. Weasley
Bonded on October 31, 915
Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus
Harry felt his world tilt alarmingly. He had wondered. They had all wondered. They had fretted and searched and raged and finally given up hope. Bill Weasley had been presumed dead and his family had never been quite the same. Harry had never been quite the same. But now he knew. Bill had vanished, not because he had been kidnapped by Death Eaters, but because he had been stolen by time.
As Harry's eyes focused on the third line of the plaque, he felt something within his heart shatter even as it healed. He'd known that what he and Bill had could never last. They were too alike, both too damaged by war and hurt by their world to ever be able to offer more than carnal comfort. They understood each other's pain too well, and both were too proud to admit they needed something the other couldn't give.
At the sound of the frantic voice, Harry jerked and sat bolt upright. The moment he did, his vision grayed and threatened to fail altogether. With a groan, he collapsed back onto the floor. Squinting up in the direction the voice had come from, he spotted Hermione and Ron hurrying toward him, their eyes taking in his battered and bleeding form. Ron held a raggedly familiar bit of parchment in one hand. As they sank to their knees beside him, he took in their faces. Ron looked deeply concerned while Hermione rang her hands, seeming almost panicked at finding him like this.
"It's over," he said, his voice hoarse and ragged; he'd lost count of the number of Cruciatuses Voldemort had held him under. "He's gone."
His two best friends exchanged a look. Hermione reached out, gently brushing a lock of hair from his forehead with trembling fingers. "Who, Harry?" she questioned softly. “Has someone been down here?”
"What happened to you, mate? You look like you've just been through a battle," Ron added.
Harry blinked, then stared. Ron and Hermione looked as fresh as if they’d just left classes for the day. Their robes showed no signs of being in a battle. Their expressions gave nothing of said battle’s aftermath away.
"Voldemort. Who d'you think I mean? How did you find me, anyway?"
Ron frowned and tapped the scrap of parchment in his hand with a long, freckled finger. "The map, mate. How else d’you reckon we found you?”
"But the Chamber's not on the map.”
Ron looked at Harry as though he’d suddenly sprouted an extra two heads and had just announced his official courtship with Fluffy. “Have Fred and George been testing their products on you again?”
"Ronald," Hermione said sharply. "It's obvious something happened. Can't you see Harry's hurt?"
As Ron opened his mouth to retort, a smooth, cultured voice from the shadows stopped him.
"That will be all, Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley. We will take it from here."
Harry turned his head and gasped as Salazar Slytherin stepped into the soft golden light of the Chamber. Ron and Hermione got hurriedly to their feet.
"Yes, professor," Ron said. Then, "Harry's hurt."
"I assure you, Mr. Weasley, I am not blind," the man drawled, causing Ron to blush.
"Right. Hermione and I… we’ll just be off, then."
Salazar waved a dismissive hand and, still shooting worried glances over their shoulders, Ron and Hermione hurried toward the entrance. When they were gone, Harry caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to look, he was filled with even more confusion as he saw Bill approaching him from the shadows of another pillar.
"Bloody. Fucking. Hell.” Harry turned his face toward the vaulted ceiling. "I’ve lost it. Someone please just kill me now. I'd rather be dead than sharing a ward with Lockhart for the rest of my life."
Bill’s lips twitched.
"I do not think that will be necessary," Salazar said as he watched his bonded crouch down beside Harry and pull out his wand.
"Why not? Isn't that where the Ministry sends mental people,? Wait. Don’t tell me. St. Mungo's is something else that only I remember."
The young man’s tone was harsh and angry.
"Harry, you're not mental," Bill said softly, running the tip of his wand along a jagged wound on Harry’s forearm. “At least, no more than usual.”
"No?” Harry asked, ignoring Bill’s attempt at levity. “Mind telling me why my two best friends don't remember the most terrifying dark lord to grace the Wizarding world since Grindelwald?"
Bill's fingers trailed over the smooth skin over the area he had just healed. When he reached Harry's hand, he took it gently in his. He squeezed, and Harry was suddenly suffused with warmth.
"Harry, how can your friends remember someone who never existed?"
Harry’s head whipped toward Bill’s with the quickness of a serpent. "What?"
Bill didn't look at Harry, but gazed pensively at the statue of himself and Salazar.
"I think you should tell us exactly what happened, Harry. Because in all honesty, you shouldn't remember."
"I… what? You believe me?"
"Of course I believe you.” Bill glanced at Harry, catching his gaze for a brief moment of intensity. “I lived your timeline too. For a while," he added softly.
"I… well… it always ends here, for some reason. At Hogwarts. I think it's where he felt most powerful. Which doesn't really make much sense when you think about it."
"How so?" Bill asked, his thumb idly stroking the palm of Harry's hand. With each gentle caress, Harry felt the pain of the long and grueling battle beginning to fade.
"Well, Dumbledore was here, wasn't he? And Dumbledore didn't let Tom get away with shite. Plus, Dumbledore was the—“
"Only wizard Voldemort ever feared," Bill finished.
"Yeah, so it doesn't really make sense that he'd keep luring us back here for his epic showdowns."
Bill snorted with laughter, but quickly sobered. "I don't know, Harry," he said thoughtfully. "Riddle may have feared Dumbledore, but he was powerful here. You're sitting in the evidence of that now. Dumbledore or no Dumbledore, this is where he got his start. It was home to him and home holds power."
"I guess." Harry shrugged. "Anyway, he attacked the Weasleys. He killed Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and Fleur." Harry felt Bill tense beside him and heard his sharp intake of breath. "He sent us—me, Ron and Hermione, that is—a message saying he'd captured them and Luna. Hermione thought it was a trap, but we didn't really have any choice but to go. The Aurors are useless, and I wasn't going to take the chance that he'd kill them if I didn't arrive within the set time limit."
"How long was that?"
"An hour. It was long enough." Harry's face darkened. "At least, it would have been if they'd been alive."
Bill squeezed his hand. "What happened then?"
"Hermione alerted the D.A. and we apparated to Hogsmead. Madam Rosmerta had a few brooms behind the bar. We flew the rest of the way here." Harry closed his eyes, seeing the scene playing out as it had earlier that night. "When we arrived, Voldemort was standing on the front steps with Luna and Ginny. When we landed, he just sort of smiled and waved his hand toward Ginny…” Harry felt the familiar pressure building behind his eyes and ruthlessly forced it back.
"What happened?" Bill whispered.
Harry could feel the man's hand trembling in his. Salazar suddenly moved forward, walking around Harry's sprawled form and sinking down behind Bill. His arms came around the younger man, his hands rubbing along the planes of Bill’s chest in a manner that struck Harry as both soothing and possessive.
Swallowing hard, Harry continued.
"Like I said, they were already dead. Voldemort had already killed them. Ginny was being held upright by Nagini, Voldemort's snake. She… the snake, I mean… was… she was inside Ginny, making her move around and stuff. When Voldemort pointed at her, Nagini just… burst out through Ginny's neck."
Bill made a wounded sound somewhere between a moan and a sob. Releasing Harry's hand, he shifted in Salazar's arms, burying his face against the other man's neck. He inhaled deeply, letting his bonded’s clean, masculine scent ground him, reminding him that everything had changed. His family, his descendants were all alive and well. But at one point, Ginny had been his baby sister and Fleur had been the woman to whom he had been prepared to give his name. He would always be a part of that life and that war.
Seeing Bill's distress, Harry hurried on.
"It wasn't until later that we learned the others were dead too," he said softly. "Fleur was the victim of a Killing Curse. Molly… well, she didn’t suffer.”
How could Harry tell Bill that Mrs. Weasley had been hit with a Sectemsempra so powerful it had nearly severed her head from her shoulders?
“Luna survived somehow. Hermione thinks she was taken at the last minute. Her father wasn't so lucky, though.
"After Nagini appeared, everything just sort of erupted. People started screaming and firing spells, Death Eaters were shooting killing curses all over the place and students were falling left and right. The D.A. managed to contact what was left of the Order. They didn't arrive until I was already in the castle. Ron, Hermione and I got separated somewhere on the seventh floor when a wall exploded." He paused. "The explosion killed Percy."
Bill winced. Salazar's arms tightened in response.
"I wanted to kill that stupid snake of his. I know it wasn't really her fault, but she shouldn't have desecrated Ginny's body like that. I caught sight of her on the second floor and followed her into Myrtle's bathroom. She opened the entrance”—he made a vague motion, encompassing the entire Chamber—“and I followed her down. I got her with a cutting curse when I hit the bottom." He closed his eyes, turning his face back toward the ceiling. "I don't know why I came in here, but it was where Voldemort found me. We fought, and he won. He was about to kill me when something happened." He paused, remembering.
"What did you experience?" Salazar asked.
"I don't know. This golden light filled the chamber and there was a roaring sound, but it wasn’t like the sound any creature could make. I could hear nothing and everything at once. There were people laughing, crying, screaming, singing, and yet, it all blended together and simply sounded like the roaring of Fiendfire. I couldn’t move. There was some sort of force holding me in place. Whatever it was, it killed Voldemort."
Bill leant forward, surveying Harry with awe. "You survived the shift?"
"The shift in time. When Salazar and I bonded, it changed the events of the future as we knew them. Salazar never created a basilisk, the chamber was saved from becoming something truly evil and the Slytherin descendants that we knew were never born. All the sounds you heard? They were the sounds of two timelines colliding."
"That means," Harry said slowly, "that Tom Riddle…”
"Was never born," Bill finished. "Don't you see, Harry? Ron and Hermione can't remember a time that never existed for them. Somehow, most of what we knew has remained intact. The Minister of Magic is still a self-important idiot, pure-blood supremacy still arose”—he cast Salazar a look—"though admittedly not as it did in our timeline, and Quidditch is still all the rage."
"You, Harry, are what you've always wanted to be. You're just Harry. Just Harry James Potter, son of James and Lily Potter, older brother to Aylen and Angelis Potter.
"I have a family?" Bill wasn't certain if Harry looked hopeful or just plain bemused. Considering all that had happened to the boy within the past twenty-four hours (give or take a timeline), he was leaning toward the latter.
Harry stared at the two men beside him. If now was now, and Bill had gone back in time, then…
"How? How are you both here? Now. In this decade. Alive." He paused. "Young."
Bill smiled softly. "We were bound here, Harry. In this chamber. Our binding is the power you felt."
"It was you two who killed Voldemort?"
"I suppose you can say erasing him from existence is a form of killing him, yes," Bill answered dryly. "The point is we pledged our very souls to one another in a place where the power of my bonded as well as that of the school is the strongest. This chamber rests on a veritable powerhouse of magic. It's the point on the grounds where all the ley lines meet. It's part of the reason our union shook the very foundation of time instead of simply creating an alternate reality alongside the future you were already living. It was a danger we didn't foresee until it was too late."
"But that still doesn't explain how you're both alive," Harry said flatly.
"My magic, young Potter, is bound to that of Hogwarts," Salazar said. "My bonded’s magic, in turn, is bound to mine. Therefore, we are both bound to the school. As long as Hogwarts thrives, so too shall we remain."
Harry nodded slowly as the exhaustion he’d been fighting began catching up with him. "And why… so young?"
"An unforeseen side effect of being nearly obliterated by the power of over a hundred ley lines."
"It was a gift from Magic,” Bill said, rolling his eyes. “Sleep, Harry. It's all over now."
Harry smiled as relief swept through him, sweeter than anything he had ever felt. The last thought that crossed his mind before the darkness swept in to embrace him was that Dumbledore had only been half right. Love was the power the dark lord knew not, but instead of loving Bill, all Harry had needed to do was let him go.
Hand in hand, Bill and Salazar rose to their feet and gazed down at the boy who had given his all, lost so much, only to end up in a world where none of it mattered.
"You could have loved him once," Salazar said softly.
"I couldn't have loved the boy he was," Bill replied quietly. "We were both too damaged for that. But, perhaps, had time allowed, I may have learned to love the young man he could have become."
"You could love this young man."
Turning to face his bonded, Bill stepped forward into the circle of Salazar's arms. Lifting a hand, he traced the other man's scowling mouth with gentle fingers.
"Harry will always need what I can't give him. He may heal, but no one can ever mend completely from the type of hurt he's suffered." Leaning closer, Bill brushed his lips lightly across Salazar's. "I made a bond in this chamber exactly one-thousand-eighty-six years ago. Our love shaped an entirely new world, Salazar. At the risk of sounding hopelessly sappy, why would I abandon the arms of forever when they're the only ones I'll ever need?"
As it had happened all those years ago, the other man did not answer in words. Yanking his bonded into a searing kiss of passion and possession, Salazar Slytherin found himself silently thanking Magic yet again for granting him the only gift that could save him from the serpent in his soul. It humbled him by making certain the one thing he had always despised would become the only thing he could never live without.