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The Rise of Apollo

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Chapter 3

Beta Read by optimisticrealist72

Artemis surveyed his old hunting ground with pleasure. The castle loomed in the distance, the lake shimmered with moonlight, and the forest was alive with the sounds of prey. The werewolf breathed a deep lungful of the summer night air and expelled it in one powerful howl.

He knew this was where Severus needed to be in the morning and Artemis had been more than happy to comply, leaving Greyback and his pack behind. Harry was still safe, even Greyback could not deny the snakeman’s wishes for one night, and the werewolf had let him leave without even a backward glance.

Artemis gambled down the slope, happy to spend the night hunting alone. For too long his nights had been filled with pain, with terror. He halted, claws scrabbling on stones. He shook his dark head, refusing to let those things haunt him. It was a sacrifice. One that needed to be made.

Opening his eyes, he darted forward again, thinking back to happier times in these grounds.

He knew not where his mate was and it was too painful to think about now. He’d even shut off the human aspect of himself, refusing to communicate. Severus hadn’t even tried to think of a way to explain what needed to be done to his mate.

And Harry hated them both.

He snarled, lurching forward to grab a tree trunk in his powerful jaws, uprooting it with a tug. In fury, he snapped at it with his teeth until splinters of wood rained around him. Artemis growled as they fell around him before falling silent. He looked down at his paws, shuffling them in the grass.

Are you there? he questioned silently.

You haven’t spoken to me civilly in three months. Now you wish to speak. Severus’s voice was quick to respond.

We have been apart from mate for three moon cycles, as you told him. When will we return to him?

I’m not entirely sure Harry wants us to return to him.

Artemis could feel the sorrow, the suffering they both felt. Severus felt the pain of the loss as much as the werewolf.

It does not matter if mate does not wish to resume our bond, we promised to protect him, and we need to do that, Artemis was firm.

My leaving was attempting to do that. I had to find information. We needed to know what Voldemort was planning. Harry needs the sword of Gryffindor to destroy the Horcruxes and it was Dumbledore who held it last. He would have placed it somewhere either Harry or I could find it. I need to check Hogwarts.

You are here for more reasons than that. Do not lie; I am a part of you. Artemis rose, jogging to the edge of the forest to stare up at Hogwarts.

I need to explain to Minerva; she will have to defend the castle. The Dark Lord will believe me to be here, he will send others to my aid.

Artemis ran his tongue over his fangs in thought. The old woman. Harry respected her. She wasn’t seen as pack, but a friend. It was right that Severus had returned to warn her.

We will join Harry after tomorrow. Severus was firm.

Silence stretched between them.

I’m sorry, Artemis.

Why did you not explain to him?

Artemis left his post watching the castle to curl under a tree. He just wanted the night to be over, to see Harry again even if it were through Severus’s eyes.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I did what I thought was right.

The werewolf laid his huge head on his paws and considered this. No one could understand the internal battle fought with himself, his morals. No one except Artemis. He had shut Severus out in anger, unwilling to help the human with the burden of possibly losing a mate, with the guilt of killing someone he cared about.

You are forgiven.

They both felt the change begin to creep up on them. Claws retracted back into fur and his spine elongated.

We will help Harry, Severus answered despite their combined agony.

***

The russet-haired werewolf waited for him at the boundaries of the wards. When Apollo approached, he grew frantic, straining against the wards to see his cub. Apollo leapt through, immediately pounced on by the large wolf. They tussled in the grass for a few moments before Lupin’s tongue swiped across his head.

It is good to see you again, cub. Lupin sat back, his chest heaving as he caught his breath.

Apollo cocked his head as he looked at the werewolf. Something was different, he couldn’t quite place it.

I have a full mind, he attempted to explain. Each full moon gone I have been suppressed by potions, limited in my true form. Now Remus has accepted me and I have reached my full strength.

You speak better than Artemis could.

Lupin’s lips drew back in a snarl, yellowed teeth glinting in the moonlight. Your mate was unworthy. I always knew. He had no loyalty. The werewolf stood, slamming his forepaw down for emphasis.

Was that why you couldn’t stay bonded to Tonks? Was she unworthy? Apollo stood, attempting his own snarl.

The werewolf attempted to stare him down, amber eyes demanding submission, just as Artemis always had. Apollo looked away.

Remus has already explained. The werewolf turned his head, settling down on his stomach. For our kind, our mate and pack are sacred. I will protect the human and our cub with my life, but I wish to find a true mate.

Apollo lay down, shifting closer in a strange wriggle. How many are in your pack?

Ten.

Ten? I thought you would have loads on your side. Surely some werewolves are good?

Lupin huffed, kneading the ground with his claws. My kind is strong but little in number. Many of us have joined with the snakeman out of fear. We hear whispers of Artemis and Greyback recruiting those who hide underground, of threatening their packs and mates.

Artemis is doing that? Apollo felt his heart go cold.

Their pack is far greater, calling themselves snatchers. Lupin’s ears twitched. We will go now. He stood, shaking himself briefly and darted off.

Apollo struggled to keep up with the werewolf, his larger strides easily outpacing him. Occasionally Lupin stopped, swinging his brown head back to check where he was, before bounding away again.

We draw close. Lupin slowed, Apollo collapsing beside him. I forget you are small, Lupin buried his nose into his chest fur. But you are strong.

Lupin… Remus… I’m not sure what I’m meant to be doing here. Apollo’s mental voice sounded high pitched.

You will speak to them, explain what it is you are doing, then we will decide how best to aid you.

Lupin lifted back his head and howled, the sound rolling from his throat and down into the trees. Answering howls echoed back to them. Lupin trotted down into a clearing, Apollo close to his flanks as others approached.

The werewolves were large, as was normal for their kind, their colours mostly browns and greys, tumbling over themselves and Lupin. He allowed it for a while, catching his pack members’ jaws in his teeth, swatting some of them over the nose with his bushy tail. As Harry watched he was struck once again by just how different Artemis was in comparison to these ‘normal’ werewolves. His pelt was dark as a starless sky, his size colossal.

My pack! Lupin addressed, his tone demanding, confident. We have rallied behind the name Apollo to free our kind from the snakeman. Tonight I have brought him to speak with you.

Amber eyes all fixed on him and he suddenly felt small and shy. Lupin’s hind leg shoved him forward.

Who are you really?

What do you want with us?

Are you here to enslave us like the snakeman?

Apollo stood, the werewolves circling him. I’m Harry Potter.

Rumbles and growls answered him.

How can we trust this human?

What if Lupin has been tricked?

Enough! Lupin stood, striding forward, teeth bared. The dark patch on his fur gives away his scar, and you know I would not be deceived by my own cub. Lupin crouched lower to the floor, his shoulders tensing in preparation.

I know you feel abandoned by the wizarding world, that you think we’ve turned our backs on you. That your condition makes you subhuman… Apollo began.

We see no shame in being creatures of the moon. We wish only to be recognized as such. We cannot exist in your world without jobs. Without the right to choose a mate. We are not to be collared and killed…

I understand. Apollo stood, his head rising. I’m here because I need your help. I fell in love with a werewolf, we bonded and Greyback found out about it, and now his pack of snatchers is trying to kill me.

You require protection? A dark grey werewolf asked, coming close to Lupin. There was a scar parting the fur over his left foreleg, a previous wound. The werewolf was of equal stature to Lupin and, judging by Lupin’s look, he was respected.

I need information about what the snatchers are up to, Greyback’s movements, and anything regarding items that belonged to the Hogwarts founders.

The information was met with silence.

What do you wish to give us in return for this?

He is required to give nothing, Lupin snarled, leaping on the back of the werewolf who dared ask. The werewolf yelped, slinking away from his alpha’s claws.

Once Voldemort is defeated, I promise I will do all I can to abolish the anti-werewolf laws and to grant you better rights within the community. I would do this without your help. But I cannot win this war on my own.

You will have my help, Harry Potter, the grey werewolf with the scar answered solemnly. There were growls of assent rippling around the group.

Where is your mate now? Will he not join us? An eager wolf bounced forward.

Apollo’s mate betrayed him to the snakeman, you know him as Artemis. Lupin snarled, silencing the young member with a stare.

A few whines could be heard.

The beast Artemis…

Who runs in shadows and drags you to the snakeman by your scruff…

Apollo backed away, his rump bumping into Lupin’s side. The werewolf licked him between his ears. It is true, cub, we have seen our kind left to die because they refused, their pelts soaked with blood… they die with the name Artemis on their tongues.

No, he couldn’t… he wouldn’t…

A howl made them all turn their heads.

Snatchers!

Lupin grabbed Apollo by the scruff of his neck, throwing him forward. Already his pack was leaping forward, attempting to slow down the opposing pack.

You have to leave, now!

I can’t leave you to fight them, not your pack, Lupin! Apollo attempted to dart between his legs.

You cannot fight here, you cannot fight as anything other than Harry, and even I would struggle not to bite you should you turn back. You need to run, let my pack do as they have promised.

Lupin lunged forward, scaring Apollo away with a snap of his teeth before running to help his pack.

***

It was midday before Severus felt able to move. Thankfully the morning had been warm, keeping his naked body at a steady temperature. After the rest, Severus felt able to pull up his exhausted, abused body into a sitting position. A chattering in the trees alerted him to a squirrel, looking down at him with beady eyes.

“You’re lucky I’m human,” he rasped.

The squirrel shook its tail before scampering off. This had been the first transformation he had undergone alone in months. Harry had always been there since they mated, helping him into the bed. Since then he had the comradery of Greyback’s pack. His eyes stung as he remembered the first time Harry had helped him before the bond had been consummated.

He leant back against the tree, ignoring the way the bark dug into his skin. He closed his eyes, savouring the memory of Harry looking unsure, how, by not leaping on Severus, he had, in turn, began to truly feel for Harry.

Severus removed the wand he had strapped to his forearm, turning it on himself to dress. With a deep breath, he got to his feet, shaking his limbs to rid them of the tremors, and began walking to the castle. As he walked he thought about how to explain himself to Minerva. He was hoping she would listen before striking him.

The steps to the castle had never seemed so long.

“I had wondered when you would return, Severus.”

He lifted his gaze, the tiredness bleeding from his body as he stared at the tip of Minerva’s wand.

“Minerva,” Severus bowed his head, keeping his eyes trained on hers. “Will you allow me the chance to explain?”

“I should kill you where you stand, traitor,” her tone was venomous, something he had never heard before.

“I deserve to die. I have known that for years. But before I meet my death, let me explain.”

Her wand didn’t waver, her eyes narrow behind her glasses.

“I find it hard to believe that you could have killed Albus, he was a great wizard.” The arm dropped slowly.

Severus knew Minerva didn’t have it in her to kill him, Gryffindors always found it hard to murder.

“Come with me to my chambers, there is something there you should see, it explains what happened far better than I ever could.”

Instantly the wand pointed at his chest again. “Do you believe me to be a fool, Severus? You would strike my back, the Slytherin that you are.”

He raised his hands, attempting to placate her. “Minerva, I am weak from the full moon, I am no threat to you in this form. I am at your mercy.” They regarded each other for a few moments. “There are things I need to do, things Albus ordered me to do, to help Harry.”

“You dare bring up Harry?” Her shoulders seemed to bristle, like her animagus. “You have no idea what you’ve done to that boy, Severus. I knew I should have stepped in, forbidden you from bonding, reported it even. You destroyed him, Severus! You put him on a path leading to the Dark Lord himself.”

“I love him, Minerva.” He was still uncomfortable saying it out loud, but the words had their desired effect.

“You will go ahead to your chambers and show me whatever it is you need to explain your actions.” Her wand flicked forward, indicating he should lead.

Painfully he shuffled down the corridors, the silence of the castle condemning him with every step. It was as if Hogwarts mourned for Albus, shunning Severus in the process. Minerva walked slowly behind him, her wand firm in his back.

Destroyed him. The words were imprinted in his mind, burnt onto his very soul. He had known it would take a while for Harry to trust him once again, even if the boy had forgiven him initially… but destroyed. He saw once again the image of Harry in the night sky, the curse that ripped into his chest.

This wasn’t the time. Severus gathered up all the feelings of hurt, betrayal, and sorrow and forced them into the recesses of his mind. He had promised Harry he would help him, even if they were apart. This was his redemption, everything else would be thought about later. Severus found himself standing straighter, his emotionless mask painted back on his face.

Inside his rooms, Severus pointed to the Pensieve, where the memory still shimmered.

Someone had looked at it.

Letting Minerva watch the memory, he moved to his desk, running his finger through the ash that was once his letter to Harry.

“He read it.” Severus felt himself frown in confusion. The application for official bonding was also missing. “He knows the truth yet refused to believe it.”

A hand rested on his shoulder.

“I don’t believe Harry would let anger warp the truth, Severus,” Minerva whispered, pulling him into a hug. “I’m sorry.”

Severus allowed her the comfort. “I didn’t have a choice,” he muttered.

“I understand, Severus, and I believe Harry would have done the same.”

“Our bond, our previous feelings for each other are inconsequential. The Dark Lord has sent me to take over as Headmaster.”

Minerva released him and sat on his couch. “Is You-Know-Who really so deluded? What makes him think that I would just let you walk in here and take over as Headmaster? Does he think I would just accept this and work under you, the Death Eater that killed Albus Dumbledore?”

“You haven’t really been given a choice, Minerva.”

“Oh there’s always a choice, Severus, I’ll have you know I was a formidable duellist back in my day.”

“The Dark Lord expects me to run the school. He is sending the Carrows to help. They are to be deputies.” He held up a hand at her disgusted expression. “I did as Albus asked and now I intend to follow through on my own plan. I agreed to meet Harry after three months, allowing us both time to gather information.”

“And? What did you find?”

“Nothing. Just rumours about Hufflepuff’s cup and a diadem. I must get the sword of Gryffindor. Albus believed that it was integral to destroying Horcruxes. I hope that Harry was able to meet with Lupin’s pack to ensure his safety.”

“How would they help?”

“Months ago Greyback discovered the truth about Artemis, threatening to kill Harry if I did not help him raise a new pack. For the past three months I have assisted with this to ensure his loyalty.”

“And so You-Know-Who wouldn’t find out you were a werewolf.”

“Precisely. He let me go this month because he could not disobey a direct order.”

“I see, what are your plans now, Severus? It will not be long before You-Know-Who discovers that you are not at Hogwarts and that you are with Harry.”

“I have a plan to ensure the safety of Hogwarts. But first I need to find that damn sword.”

“The sword of Gryffindor was taken by Scrimgeour.” Minerva sniffed indignantly. “The Ministry acted like Albus was some sort of common criminal, Severus, wondering why he’d left items in his will.”

“Do you know where it is now?”

“I believe Albus left it to Harry in his will.”

Severus exhaled in relief. “Then at least one of us has it.”

***

Harry burst back into the burrow, the dawn just behind him.

“What happened?” Tonks exclaimed, rising from the window seat where she had been keeping watch.

“Greyback attacked, Remus… Lupin… whichever sent me ahead for safety.” Harry bent at the waist, his breathing erratic from all the running.

“Here, take this.” Tonks pushed a warm drink into his hands. She waited for his trembling to subside then returned to the window.

Harry sat where he stood, taking deep breaths and drinking from the mug. “You still wait for him?”

Tonks didn’t move, her brown eyes moving back and forth over the landscape. “I knew he didn’t truly want it, but I loved him. Loving a werewolf is no easy thing, Harry.”

I know, Harry seethed silently.

“It’s like a part of them is closed off from everyone, even those that love them. I’ve never seen Remus look so…”

“Complete,” Harry finished for her.

“Exactly. I thought that maybe I could bring that to him. But the werewolf didn’t see me as worthy…that wouldn’t have been a problem. Remus was always fighting against it…”

“When Remus allowed the parts of himself to fully merge, it suddenly wasn’t enough?”

“Something like that.” Her hand fell on her stomach. “He’ll be a loyal father and a great provider… I just wish it could have been more. It’s silly, really…” Tonks placed her hand on the glass, her palm leaving a misty imprint. “You hear stories at school, read things in books about the legendary matings of werewolves. How they’re completely devoted to finding their one ideal mate… and when they find it, they never them go. It’s so silly, right?”

“I don’t think so, Tonks. I think we all want a love like that.” Harry stood and went to stand beside her, peering out into the night.

“Did Dumbledore still tell you about the werewolf pack that lived in the forbidden forest at the welcoming feast?”

“I was terrified the first time I went in there… probably didn’t help that I saw Voldemort drinking unicorn blood, but still.”

Tonks’ mouth twitched in a small smile despite the use of Voldemort’s name. “When I became an Auror, I learned that there is a pack that lives in the forest. Legend has it that two werewolves mated during the full moon and the pack is a result of that. Beautiful, intelligent wolves.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Not many people do. Those are the only known ‘offspring’ of werewolves. I know Remus was terrified about our child being a ‘cub’ of some description, but it isn’t hereditary...”

“Remus told me, that night he came to get me from Privet drive.”

Tonks went still, her eyes widening. “Here he comes.”

In the morning light they could make out Remus, limping toward the house. His arms and legs bled, claw marks raised against his skin. Tonks moved quickly around him and out into the garden to welcome her former mate.

Harry watched them, feeling like he was intruding.

***

“The Dark Lord and the Carrows will need to know that I am stationed at Hogwarts,” Severus explained as he finished placing the last memory into the Pensieve.

“What if you’re summoned, Severus?”

“When that happens our time will be up. I will return to assist you in getting rid of the Carrows and protecting Hogwarts if need be. It is my belief he will not summon me while I am here, not for a few months. He trusts me, he expects me to hold the school, his attention will not be here. It will be…”

“Chasing Harry.”

“Exactly.”

“And Greyback? The promise you made him?”

“I will return to Greyback at the next full moon, I have a proposition that will ensure his silence. He is loyal to no one but his werewolves. I will keep you appraised of all this.”

The witch remained silent, taking her glasses off and twirling them in her hands. “I never was very good at deception, Severus.”

“You are a smart witch, Minerva, you can do this.” He left her where she sat and entered his bedroom, ignoring the bed for now. He retrieved any vials of Polyjuice potion he could find. “There are more in the secret stores in my classroom.”

“I know how to brew a potion, Severus.” Her tongue was sharp as ever.

Severus severed a chunk of hair with his wand before wrapping it into a torn cloth from this robe.

He looked around, mentally ticking off anything he had to do.

“Severus, I think I have enough to act like you.”

“Are you sure the students will be safe?”

“They’ll believe the greasy Headmaster is hiding away in his office. I suppose occasionally you’ll have to sit at the table, but I doubt they’ll notice we are never together. Severus…” she began hesitantly, rising from the sofa. “I know you must be eager to reunite with Harry, but he isn’t going to run off just yet. Today is the day Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour are getting married. He isn’t going anywhere, stay here and rest.”

“I’ve been gone so long, Minerva, I need to… we need to see him.” Severus couldn’t think of a way to put it into words, the indescribable desire that he had to see Harry and now, just as he promised.

“You can wait a few hours. Take comfort in the luxury presented to you now. After today who knows when you will be able to sleep safe, have a bath… a decent meal…” Her eyes misted. “I wish there was more I could do for you, for Harry. This is cruel, sending a boy out to save the world with nothing.”

“He’s a man now, Minerva, it was his birthday yesterday.”

“He was a man long before that.” She reached up and rested her palm against his face. “I wish you well in this endeavour, Severus. Keep yourself and my students safe.”

She left Severus standing alone in his rooms. He wanted to flee, find Harry now… but how would he explain everything? He moved slowly into the bedroom, the unmade bed catching his attention. He sat upon it, laying his head on Harry’s pillow. The scent was faint, barely detectable, but Severus could smell it.

Without meaning to his eyes began drifting shut, his limbs giving way to their exhaustion. Harry was safe. He was at the Burrow, protected by the Order. His tension melted away, his breathing calm.

He would sleep for a few hours, gather a few things, and leave. Harry would understand, he wouldn’t deny him this brief, momentary comfort.

Just as he was on the brink of sleep his arm burst into flame, sending him straight back into alertness. The Dark Mark burnt with fury, eagerly summoning him. There was no time to pack, no time to put things in motion. This was a summon that meant ‘come now!’

***

Harry pulled at his hair and groaned.

“The colour suits you.” Hermione grinned at him, elbowing him in the side.

“Just because you fancy redheads.” Harry scowled, unhappy about being under polyjuice potion.

“You know it’s for security. Everyone knows how close you are to the Weasleys; if there’s going to be an attack on your life…”

“Then this is the first place they’d look for me, I know.”

Ron’s Aunt Muriel glared at them, their whispering clearly aggravating her.

“I declare you bonded for life.” The wizard marrying them waved his wand over Fleur and Bill, covering their hands in a shower of stars. Golden balloons that had been circling them throughout their bonding burst suddenly, giving birth to a flock of tiny golden birds that flew around the marquee.

Hermione turned to him, eyes full of unshed tears. Her expression sobered at Harry’s face.

“Oh, Harry, sorry, I didn’t think…” Everyone was wrapped up in the celebration; they didn’t notice Harry’s forlorn face.

“When we bonded, it wasn’t anything like this.” Harry gestured half-heartedly with a hand. “No, it was in secret… done by someone who was playing me.” Harry lifted his hand, staring intently at his palm. “Hermione, why didn’t their magic join together?”

“When most wizards and witches bond it is in this way,” Remus’s voice suddenly interrupted. “Some can choose to have their magic bound together, allowing them to draw on each other’s.”

“So why don’t people do that? If it would make them stronger?” Harry asked.

“Because over time your magic gets used to another person’s. Think about us, Harry, how long have you known Ron and me? You know what type of magic we are prone to using, what our magical signatures are like. Usually, that is intimate enough for most people.”

“Tying your magic to another person’s is the ultimate bond, the ultimate sign of trust. Yes, it can make you stronger, but it can also weaken you. If someone draws on too much of your magic it can weaken you, causing damage.” Remus placed a hand on his shoulder.

“We’d better move, I think Molly is trying to move the tables,” Hermione muttered guilty, pulling Remus and Harry by their hands.

Harry looked over toward the witch who was watching them suspiciously.

The chairs vanished, the walls of the marquee disappearing so the setting light could enter, and music started playing. Even though he had lived in the wizarding world for years now, he was still taken aback by the wedding cake, the two phoenixes that crested the top, fluttering their wings as they waited.

“Wearing my pouch, I see?” Hagrid touched his finger to the moleskin pouch around Harry’s neck.

“Well, it’s so useful. Thank you again, Hagrid.” Harry fingered the lumpy cloth. Ever since Artemis hadn’t returned he had thought it wise to fill it with his most precious items and keep it on him at all times.

“Want to dance, Barney Weasley?” Ginny slid up to him, curtsying.

“Why, Ginny, my dear cousin, it would be an honour!” Harry bowed playfully and swept her around in a circle.

They were among the first couples to dance, but neither of them minded.

“So, your special someone didn’t show up, then?” Ginny rested her head against his shoulder as they revolved in a circle.

“No, I guess I’m not as special as I originally thought,” Harry sighed, resting his cheek on her head. It was selfish and immature. Severus probably had a very good reason for being late. He knew Severus wanted to return; that should have been enough.

“You’ll always be special to me, Harry,” Ginny looked up at him, her eyes sparkling with the glowing lights overhead.

“I know, thanks, Ginny.” Impulsively he pressed his lips against hers in a chaste kiss.

“A word if I may, Harry?” Hermione stood beside them, her eyes blazing.

“Sure, Hermione, better get some cake before my brothers eat it all anyway.” Ginny smiled up at him and floated away.

“What do you think you are doing?” Hermione hissed, pulling him into an angry dance.

“I was dancing with Ginny, Hermione…”

“I know exactly what you were doing, Harry Potter! ‘Not as special as I originally thought!’ You have no idea what Artemis is doing!”

“I never thought I’d see you sticking up for the person who murdered Dumbledore!” Harry attempted to push her away.

“You know very well what happened there, and what is Artemis doing now? Sticking his neck on the line for you.”

“Well do you know what I learnt about the great ‘Artemis’ last night? He’s dragging all the reaming werewolves, the ones that don’t want to be involved and giving them to Greyback’s pack. If they refuse, he kills them!” Harry succeeded in shaking her arm from his body.

“You can’t make assumptions based on rumours, Harry! I’m sorry that he wasn’t here for your birthday or the assigned day but I’d thought you’d at least hear him out before throwing him to the wolves, excuse the pun. You’re pathetic!” Hermione’s face was flushed as she stormed away from him.

Harry resisted the urge to fling a curse at her back, knowing that deep down she was right. He was pathetic.

***

They were summoned to the Ministry. It took Severus a few minutes to school his thoughts, caught by surprise at seeing the Death Eaters reflected in the shiny tiles of the Ministry floor. He had to put his disbelief away and use this to his advantage. Greyback slid up toward him, catching his elbow before they could join the rest of the group.

“I allowed you to be absent for one night, but we had a deal, Severus.”

“How do you expect me to uphold our deal when I am following orders from our Lord?” Severus tugged his arm away.

“Your loyalty should be to the pack we have built,” Greyback hissed, teeth escaping his lips. “Or do I need to bring information to the Snakeman?”

“You have nothing, my bonding has been broken. I no longer have a mate.” Severus ignored the squeeze in his heart.

“The wizards have torn away one of our most important bonds and still you wish to aid them?”

Severus couldn’t find any words, the feral part of him seeing the logic in the werewolf’s words. A small voice echoed in his head. Why was he helping the wizards? Even after all of this, he would still be infected, still been seen as an outcast. Why didn’t he take Harry and run?

“I will be there for the next gathering,” Severus’s voice was harsh, adjusting his mask to hide any conflicting feelings from showing on his face.

He joined the group of gathered Death Eaters, waiting in anticipation. There was a loud crack before the Dark Lord appeared with Scrimgeour. There were a few gasps of admiration from the show of apparition inside the heavily warded Ministry, but Severus ignored it, his eyes fixed on the glint of metal he saw.

Gryffindor’s sword.

Harry didn’t have it after all.

Severus barely paid attention to the speech Voldemort gave them, his brain quickly attempting to find a solution to this problem.

“Tell me where Harry Potter is!” The Dark Lord screamed at the Minister. Severus felt his admiration for the man grow. He had known of the animosity between the Minster and his mate. He had not forgotten the tense scene between them in Albus’s office, about Harry becoming a mascot.

The man raised his head, looking deep into the angry ruby eyes. He knew where Harry was, all of them could see it. His cheeks were sunken, his mouth at an odd angle from where his jaw was broken. He could not stand on his feeble broken legs and Severus could hear his pained, laboured breathing. It would be moments before this shell of a man revealed Harry’s hiding place.

“You will never find out through me,” Scrimgeour spat before collapsing on the floor in painful laughter.

Severus closed his eyes in respect to the man, seeing the green flash from beneath his eyelids. A truly noble man. A metallic clang rattled across the stone floor. Severus opened his eyes just in time to see the sword skid to a halt at Bellatrix’s feet.

She held it aloft as a trophy, grinning under the approving nod she received from their Lord.

“The Ministry is now under my control,” Voldemort spoke quietly to the room, his words crackling with menace. Ruby eyes shifted to Greyback and the others wearing a red band. “You are to find Harry Potter and bring him to me. The rest of you have your assigned jobs.” Eyes settled on Severus for a few moments.

***

Severus apparated back on the grounds of Hogwarts. His feet were heavy as he walked back to the castle. Voldemort had control of the Ministry, there were werewolves and wizards after Harry, the sword was gone… He sighed, longing for something stronger than fire whisky.

“Severus!” Minerva burst from the doors, her trembling arms grasping hold of his shoulders.

“Scrimgeour is dead. He has control of the ministry.” Severus sighed, resisting the urge to place his head on her shoulder. He just wanted a few moments of peace, a brief reprieve from all of this.

“I know, the Order was alerted. Kingsley warned the Weasleys before the attack.”

“Attack? Are they alright?” Severus felt alertness crash into him.

“Harry’s gone, Severus. He disappeared with Hermione and Ron before the Death Eaters got there. I knew that he was going to go off like this, but without telling any of us where he went!” The wrinkles around her mouth deepened with grief.

“Surely he told someone, Lupin, the Order, somebody?” His fingers dug into the woman’s arms, his voice increasing in tempo.

Harry couldn’t wait any longer.

“No, Severus. No one knows where they’ve gone.”

TBC