Harry was no stranger to pain, but the spasms wracking his body were more intense than anything he'd ever felt. The pain came in waves, the lull between them shorter and shorter…
Lying in his bed, Harry's teeth ground together to bite back a scream as he clutched at his swollen belly. Feeling something move and kick inside him was normal enough by now, but it had never before been accompanied with this much pain, coming from deep in his lower abdomen, terrible, and every time it came Harry feared that something inside him was tearing apart.
It was rare for the Dursleys to leave him alone in their house and, now that the babies were coming, Harry couldn't recall why he'd been so happy about it this morning. Time passed for Harry in a haze as he lay there for maybe minutes, maybe hours.
He'd never felt so alone, so helpless.
What if he had to deliver the babies by himself?
Harry was terrified.
The latest wave of agony began to recede and Harry burst into tears, afraid for the little ones trapped inside of him, afraid for himself.
In the midst of his hysterics, Harry didn't hear the front door fly open downstairs to crash against the wall nor the heavy steps that bounded up the stairs, but when the door to his room swung open and Remus dashed in, Harry sobbed even harder where he lay, though now with relief. He wouldn’t go through this alone. Harry grasped Remus’s hand like it was a lifeline, tried to explain what was happening, tried to voice the fear still roiling inside him, but all of it just came out as tears and senseless babble.
“Easy, Harry, I’ve got you now. Everything will be alright,” Remus said soothingly as he tucked himself behind Harry to half-cradle the teen, his words belying the panic running through the werewolf.
Remus hadn't noticed, at first, when the thimble in his pocket grew hot, charmed to alert him when Harry went into labor. Harry's last dose of his potion was taken only three days ago, there should have been more time. He barely remembered to send a message via Patronus to the healer in Greyback's pack before setting off for Privet Drive as fast as magic would take him.
Merlin, if anything happened to his pups…..
“Shhh, I know, Harry, I know it hurts. I've got someone coming who can help, alright? Everything will be fine.”
Despite the older man's reassurances, Harry just cried all the harder and it was several long, nerve-wracking minutes before a woman dashed into the room. Her sudden appearance startled Harry enough that his crying subsided into a rather pathetic bout of sniffling.
The woman was older than Remus, judging by her heavily greying dark hair, though how much older Harry couldn’t be sure because she moved with the speed and grace of a stalking predator. Her harsh scowl deepened the long slash marks marring one side of her face. She looked formidable - and frankly scary enough to distract Harry from the beginnings of another contraction until it grew too painful to ignore, and then he was sobbing again for Remus, wanting so badly for it all to stop.
The woman - whoever she was - grimaced in sympathy.
“Can we move him?” Remus asked, wiping at the snot and tears running down Harry’s face with one of Harry’s discarded shirts. The boy was an utter mess - on his own, though, this time. It was an oddly transfixing sight. “It’s not safe to do magic here. The Trace on him-”
“It’s too late for that. Those pups are coming now.”
“To wait any longer will put the pups at risk. And the Trace is the least of your concerns, I should think,” the woman - Ester - said with a pointed look.
She hurriedly drew her wand and started casting spells, half of which Harry didn’t even notice (not that he’d have known what they were). Once done, she motioned for Remus to move away with an annoyed “shoo!”, which Remus didn't heed, his protective instincts too keyed up to leave Harry's side (Harry's death grip on his hand didn't help either). “Merlin save me from the stubbornness of men,” she swore under her breath in a terse growl. “He’s going into labor, Remus. He can’t very well have the pups if he’s half-sat up and blocking their way!”
Reluctantly, Remus slid out from behind Harry, having to mutter vapid reassurances to Harry that he wasn’t leaving and everything would be fine before Harry would let him move. The teen still clutched his hand, forcing Remus to crouch beside the bed as far out of the way as possible.
But everything wouldn’t be alright, Ester knew, not unless the poor kid started having those pups. Using potions to shorten a pregnancy was stupid, adding risk where it wasn’t needed. To choose it for a male pregnancy (and the poor boy’s first one at that!), well it was no wonder the boy was in distress. The potion in his system was still advancing the pregnancy. There had been no gradual lead-up to the labor as in a normal birth, only the sudden onset of increasingly powerful contractions as the teen’s magically-created womb began to force the babies out. Ester’s spells indicated that Harry’s rectal passage (currently doubling as a birth canal) had begun to tear, the accelerated birth already forcing the first pup to move out of the womb faster than Harry’s body could transfigure itself to accommodate. Without intervention, the kid could tear himself apart and hemorrhage to death, the pups damaged or killed in the process.
“Help me get him on his feet.”
“But you said we couldn’t-”
“We’re getting him into position, not leaving the house. Those pups are being forced out too quickly and they need help. It’ll be faster if he’s upright so that gravity can do some of the work.”
Already Ester was grabbing hold of Harry’s arm and dragging him off the bed, getting him to stand. Only Remus’s help kept Harry from falling to the floor when his knees threatened to buckle during another contraction. Harry protested feebly, as being moved about only seemed to make the pain even worse. Both adults ignored him (not that they could really understand him through the crying).
“Stand behind him,” Ester commanded, helping Remus get a better grip by looping his arms under Harry’s. “Good. Now you’ll likely need to keep him upright. Can you manage?” She waited for Remus’s nod before she banished Harry’s trousers and pants. “Now keep him in a semi-squat. Not quite that low. Right there, yes!” She needed room to work after all. Kneeling she pointed her wand at Harry’s baby bump and began chanting spells: ones for minimizing the pain, widening the ‘birth canal’, a healing charm to knit closed some of the torn flesh. Already there was too much blood on the bedclothes, slicking down the boy’s thighs.
“There,” Ester nodded when she was finished. She looked up at Harry. “Alright, luv, you need to start pushing.
Harry shook his head frantically, terrified.
“Luv, those babies need to come out now. There’s no more waiting. I need you to be strong for them, alright? They’ll only get hurt if you don’t.” Ester gently rubbed his legs in an attempt to help calm him. “Come on, luv…”
Tears blurred Harry’s vision so bad that the woman kneeling in front of him was a smear of color even with his glasses on. The pain was so much worse now and he shook with it. He could tell something was wrong. Nothing should hurt this bad.
Then within Harry came that strange fluttering that he had come to know as a ‘kick’.
In that moment, Harry felt his resolve harden.
His babies were in danger. Those precious little lives he had only just begun wrapping his mind around were depending on Harry to get them out, to save them.
He did the only thing he could do.
And he screamed.
Remus grunted as he was forced to suddenly take most of Harry’s weight when the teen’s knees buckled. The boy was heavy, but Remus could handle it, he would handle it, the wellbeing of his pups depended on it. He could tell Harry was in agony. Sweat soaked through the oversized shirt Harry was still wearing, slicked Harry’s hair down into a limp mess, beaded on his skin. Remus bent his head to Harry’s nape, nuzzled and licked at it, feeling the stirrings of arousal within him. The taste of Harry’s pain was divine. Pain and sacrifice - it marked the beginning of every new life and it marked a new beginning for Remus as well. Harry’s suffering was so much more than necessary, it was beautiful.
The sharp tang of blood thickened in the air as Harry screamed and twisted in Remus's arms.
A cry rent the air, loud and plaintive.
Ester's blood-slicked hands cradled a baby. Remus’s baby. Its skin and hair were covered in gore, but to Remus it couldn't have been more beautiful. It was hurriedly swaddled and set in one of the empty cradles Ester conjured just before Harry began to push in earnest again.
It took several minutes of pushing before the next baby emerged and was swaddled, the next following soon after, and the last coming after a torturous ten minutes, during which Harry had cried and begged nearly nonstop.
Once the last was swaddled and cradled, Ester spared a moment to cast a few cleaning charms on Harry, helping Remus to maneuver him to lay on the bed - a relatively easy feat considering how weak and disoriented the teen was.
Just as Ester began to turn back to the wailing pups, Remus pulled out two vials from his blood-covered robes and she hesitated, looking between Harry and Remus.
“Remus…. Remus, are you sure-”
“Yes,” he bit out tersely. He had already had this conversation with Ester and though he could appreciate her misgivings about his plans (The pups, she had plead with him, think of the pups), but Remus would not be moved. What he did was for good of the pups. His life would be harder now, more complicated than ever before, but he would not give the alternative a thought.
He wouldn't give Harry the chance to destroy someone else Remus cared about.
Harry mumbled something, reached out to the cradles that Ester had returned to, casting cleaning charms and hovering formula bottles into their needy mouths. Remus ignored Harry's pleas for the pups.
What was the point when, after today, Harry would never see them again?
Remus uncapped a deep blue potion, brought it to Harry's chapped lips and, bless him, the teen downed it without a fight (which was ideal because this potion was rather important, being the one that would heal the damage from the birthing itself). The other potion, which Harry obediently swallowed soon after was more of a… cosmetic design. Remus wasn't really a cruel man by nature; it was one thing to exact payment where it was due and another to be cruel for cruelty's sake. In truth, Remus considered Harry's debt paid with the successful birth of the pups. And, if Ester's running stream of cooing was any indication, they were all healthy and strong. Harry had done well for Remus and so Remus would give him a gift: a potion that would reduce as much of the damage from the pregnancy as possible, allowing Harry to continue on with a normal teenage body (more or less).
He pulled out his wand while Harry pawed at him, drowsy from exertion and the potions in his system.
“I'm sorry, Harry.” And, surprisingly, he was. “Stupify.”
Harry blinked drowsily at the ceiling, vaguely aware by the fiery orange light coming in through the window that the day was almost over. His body was strangely achy and clammy, as though he had recently been sick, only he had no memory of being sick.
In fact, Harry was having trouble remembering where the day had gone. He couldn't have slept it all away, could he? It would explain the time gap in his memory, but it did nothing to explain how…. wrong Harry felt.
His stomach gave a hungry growl and he absently rubbed at it.
Harry looked down his body to where his hand lay on his belly. On his flat belly, flat in a way it hadn't been in over a month. Uncomprehendingly, Harry ran his hand back and forth over the area, even pressed down, but no there was most definitely nothing there.
The babies were gone.
As if stuck by lightning, Harry jolted up from where he lay and dashed to the bathroom, slapping the harsh vanity light on as he tugged his shirt up and out of the way and started at himself in the mirror. Pale white scars arced in razor-thin steaks across his newly flat belly, proof that Harry wasn't crazy and hallucinated the whole pregnancy, but if he had been pregnant, then that meant….
Scars like lightning flashes scattered across his belly. No baby bump. The babies were gone.
In a daze, Harry retreated to his room. Hedwig sat outside on the window sill, waiting, a scroll of parchment attached to her leg. He opened the window to let her in - a perfectly normal thing to do, after all.
No bump. No babies. Nothing but scars.
Taking the scroll from Hedwig, Harry sat gingerly upon the bed - gingerly, because most of the dull ache was in his backside. The vague pain gave him the sense that something had happened, something that was missing from his recent memory. But even without the memory, Harry knew.
Scars, pale and healed instead of an angry, fresh pink. No bump. No kicking under his hand. No babies.
The babies were gone.
Feeling sick, Harry read the note, vaguely registering that it was from Dumbledore, that Dumbledore would be collecting him at nightfall and that he should have his things collected by then. He looked out the window. The fiery orange sky was now deepening to a reddish-purple, twilight descending upon Little Whinging.
The parchment crumpled in his fist.
Dumbledore was coming.
The babies were gone.
Where was Remus?
A door slamming downstairs jarred Harry from his blank staring out the window.
The Dursleys were back. Nightfall. Dumbledore.
Harry’s thoughts felt disconnected, nebulous. He should be doing something, shouldn’t he?
He slipped his hand under his shirt, stroked at his belly, smooth and lean as though it hadn’t been bulging fit to burst only just this morning, now flat as ever with thin raised scars arching from his sides, his lower abdomen, all of them towards his navel, which was an “innie” once more.
The babies were gone. Where was Remus? What had happened to make Harry un-pregnant?
Dumbledore was coming.
Needing to move - to do something - Harry threw open his trunk and set about tossing his things back into it - books, clothes, anything that was his, clean or not, trash or not, he didn’t care.
His babies were gone.
Panic edged just beneath his skin, making it crawl, making his stomach churn despite not having eaten in hours (he was sure he hadn’t, too much time was missing). Hedwig made a low screech from where she watched him at the window sill, flaring her wings a bit in her unease. Or for Harry’s unease.
Dumbledore was coming.
Harry fumbled around the floor, picking up a few owl treats that had escaped the frantic scramble for his possessions. “Here, Hedwig.” He fed them to her one by one. “I need you to fly on ahead to Hogwarts, alright? Dumbledore,” why Harry choked slightly at the Headmaster’s name, he didn’t know, “Dumbledore is coming to fetch me tonight. I’ll meet you at school in next week. Go on, Hedwig, go on,” he prompted, his voice shaking, why was it shaking? - only scars left, no babies, nothing else left - while Hedwig stared at him in what looked like concern.
Could animals be concerned about their owners?
Flat belly covered in scars. Remus missing. Babies missing. Where was Remus?
Harry startled when - Ding dong! - the sound of number four’s doorbell pealed through the house.
Dumbledore was here.
“Go on, Hedwig. Go!” Harry commanded in a sterner tone. Why was he sending her away? She was all he had - his babies were gone, where were his babies? - and now Hedwig was leaving too, flapping away into the darkening sky.
Dumbledore was here.
With Hedwig’s cage wedged under his arm, Harry dragged his trunk out into the hall and down the stairs, his heart pounding in his chest when he heard Dudley answer the door and almost immediately started to wail for Vernon.
Weighed down as he was by his trunk, Harry couldn’t get to the door before Vernon came stomping down the hall from the kitchen, so he stood huddled halfway down the stairs, frozen. The esteemed Headmaster of Hogwarts stepped into No.4 Privet Drive as if it was perfectly normal for him (garish robes and all) to visit Harry’s muggle relatives. The door swung shut behind him, hiding what was sure to be a scene from the neighbors’ view.
“Good evening,” Dumbledore greeted Vernon with a pleasant smile.
Whimpering, Dudley scrambled behind his father, trying (and failing)to hide.
Perched on the stairs, Harry could see Vernon’s neck and ears turn an ugly puce, a sure sign that he was only moments away from a shouting match. “What do you want?” Vernon snarled. “Who are you and why are you in my house?”
If Dumbledore found the ugliness of Vernon’s demeanor off-putting, he gave no sign. “I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts.” At this, Vernon went from puce to pale alarmingly fast. “I am, of course, here to collect Harry. And to speak with Petunia and yourself, if I may be allowed to intrude upon your hospitality for a short time? I assure you it won’t take long.” Though phrased as a request, Harry could see a touch of steel in Dumbledore’s blue eyes and Harry knew at once that Dumbledore was not asking for a moment of Vernon’s time, he was demanding it.
Luckily Vernon seemed to catch on to that as well. “Yes, well, I suppose we could spare a moment for you. But only for a moment,” he harrumphed, making a show of grudging acquiescence when, in reality, he had no power here at all, for all that this was his house. “In here,” he waved a hand towards the open doorway leading into the sitting room, though he himself staggered backwards towards the kitchen with Dudley, both moving in an awkward shuffle until they reached the safety of the kitchen door, which they slammed behind them, Petunia’s shrill voice soon joining Vernon’s muffled, angry growls as the Dursleys argued amongst themselves about what to do.
“Good evening Harry.”
Harry turned back to face Dumbledore, who awaited him at the bottom of the stairs. “Hello,” he hesitantly returned. “What’s going on?”
“I simply wish to have an overdue conversation with your relatives before I remove you from their care for the remainder of the summer holiday. I trust that you are packed and ready, yes?” Dumbledore glanced over Harry’s belongings before nodding, satisfied. “I don’t intend to take up too much time here. We have an errand of sorts to run before I drop you off.” He smiled genially and wandered into the family room, leaving Harry to reel where he lurked on the stairs.
Errand? Leaving? Drop him off where? There were still a little over a week before September 1st and if he wasn’t staying here, then where was he staying?
Maybe he was to join Remus somewhere? -
“Sir!” Harry rushed down the steps and into the room after Dumbledore. “Sir, about Remus-”
“Oh, that reminds me!” Dumbledore turned away from perusing the photographs lining the mantel piece above the fireplace (none bearing Harry’s face, of course). “Remus has volunteered to reach out to the werewolf pack up North. He wanted me to reassure you that he is safe but - to ensure his standing with the pack - no one outside of the Order is to contact him. He thought it important that you should be told and I gave Remus my word that I would deliver his sympathies and regards.” Dumbledore paused, sorrow drawing his features, making him look his age, if for a moment. “I know you are still hurting from losing Sirius and that Remus has reconnected with you in the wake of your shared loss, but no matter how badly you may feel the need to reach out to Remus, I must advise against contacting him whilst he is away on Order business. The werewolves are currently leaning towards siding with Voldemort. If they were to gain knowledge that one of their own is in confidence with Harry Potter, I fear they may not hesitate to use Remus against us. Against you. Now… I think it best that your relatives rejoin us, hmm? We have a busy night ahead of us after all!”
Dumbledore waved his wand and moments later, the Dursleys were flying into the room, clutching tight to the kitchen chairs they were seated in, as if the chairs had scooped them up without warning and propelled them into the sitting room to sit opposite the room from Harry and Dumbledore, the room much more crowded for the extra furniture.
The strange sight would normally have been quite enthralling for Harry to witness, except his thoughts were spiraling in the face of the discouraging news. Remus was gone. Harry could not contact him, had essentially been forbidden to do so.
Remus was gone. The babies were gone.
Remus…Had Remus taken the babies? Their babies?
Harry zoned out as Dumbledore scolded the Dursleys, though he came back to himself enough to call Kreacher and confirm Sirius’s Last Will had taken effect, making Harry heir to all he had had left. It occurred to him that nothing seemed to have been left to Remus, which was odd considering how close the two had seemed to be. Had Remus known? Was that why he’d left? Had Sirius’s Will just been one more blow in a series of slights? Or was it something Harry had done? Harry had done his best to be good for Remus, to do as the man wished even when it caused him pain. He had tried his best to make up for what he had done to Remus, but maybe…maybe it hadn’t been enough. And their pups - why had Remus taken them? With no warning or courtesy, Harry had been pregnant one moment and left empty and confused the next, abandoned.
For that was what had happened, was it not? Harry had been abandoned by Remus. After weeks of submission, of carrying the man’s seed within him, Harry had been left with nothing to show for it.
Flat belly. Pale arcs of scars. His babies gone.
Dumbledore shrank Harry’s belongings and gathered them up.
“Can I talk to Uncle Vernon before we leave?” Harry blurted hastily, realizing that his window of opportunity was closing fast now. Vernon might know what happened in the time Harry had lost, might even know where Remus went - where the babies were. Hope blossomed within Harry.
After a nod from Dumbledore, he motioned for Vernon to follow him into the hall, which Vernon did, though grumbling loudly in protest. “What now, boy? Is it not enough that that… freak gave me a dressing down in my own home, now you feel the need to badger me as well-?”
“No! No, nothing like that, it's just… do you know where Remus went?”
“Who the hell is Remus?”
That….wasn't what he'd expected. “Remus. The wiz- ” Harry broke off at Vernon's glare for using a 'bad' word. “The man who kept coming to see me the past few weeks. That's his name.”
“How the devil would I know who you run off to see? I can't be expected to follow your every move, now can I?”
“But…. He came to the house. You let him in…” Harry said haltingly.
“Boy, I think I would remember if I let in any of your kind.”
No, surely Remus wouldn't have…
Horrified, it dawned on Harry that Vernon truly had no idea who Remus was. “But… but the babies….”
“What the devil are you on about? No-” Vernon raised a hand to cut off more of Harry's weak protests. “No, I am not putting up with any more nonsense from your lot, not tonight. Out with you.” When Harry made no move, he swatted at him, Harry dodging away before the blow could land. “Out. NOW! The both of you,” he roared into the den.
Taking the hint, Dumbledore swept into the hall and ushered Harry, unresisting and subdued beneath the weight of his reeling thoughts, out the door and down Privet Drive. It wasn’t until Dumbledore apparated them away (some muggle town far off whose name Harry couldn’t be arsed to remember) that the blankness smothering Harry’s mind began to be overtaken by panic.
There was no denying that something foul was going on. Vernon had been Obliviated, Harry was sure. No longer could he write it all off as a mistake. If only he could just talk to Remus, for even a moment-
“Sir?” Harry followed Dumbledore’s long strides down battered cobblestone streets past dilapidated house after dilapidated house. “Sir I need to talk to Remus.”
“I’m sorry, Harry, but that just isn’t possible. He’s already gone and, until I receive word that he’s reached the pack, I’m afraid even I don’t know where he is.”
“And even then, Harry,” Dumbledore continued, his stride slowing as they finally approached one of the houses. “It is quite important that Remus avoid contact with the outside world. The pack will already be suspicious of him and that alone will make it difficult for Remus to sway them away from Voldemort’s promises.”
“But it is an emergency -”
Finally Dumbledore turned to Harry, his lined face drawn with concern. Ice-blue eyes speared Harry with an intensely close look. “Why is it so important that you reach him, Harry?”
The question brought Harry’s pleading up short. He considered for a moment, telling Dumbledore the truth, explaining how a miracle - four miracles - had happened this summer and that those miracles had been snatched away from him with no explanation.
But then fear seized him.
“I can’t…tell you,” Harry said, and he knew it was a lousy excuse because Dumbledore looked at him with disappointment.
“You need to contact Remus.”
“But you can’t tell me why.”
Dumbledore stared at him.
Without just cause, Dumbledore wouldn't take him seriously, wouldn’t allow Harry to contact Remus - and if anyone could get to Remus, it was Dumbledore. He would have to tell, Harry realized. Fear churned in his stomach, nausea rose so high he nearly retched from it. What if Dumbledore would blame Remus, drive the werewolf even farther away? Harry would never see the babies, never know what had happened, what he had done to have those four precious little lives just taken from him.
He would have to tell.
Shaking with nerves, Harry lifted his shirt. Even in the poor light from the street lamps, the telltale stretch marks of Harry's pregnancy were visible and Harry knew Dumbledore could see them.
Dumbledore’s confused frown quickly flashed to surprise. He reached out to lightly touch the marks, clearly not trusting what his eyes were telling him. “This- Remus did this?”
Harry nodded, swallowing roughly, hoping that now the Headmaster would understand.
Silence stretched out between them.
“Babies.” Harry swallowed roughly. The loss felt more real now that finally his pain was being given voice. “Four.”
“Four…” Dumbledore jerked slightly, as if stricken, his hand falling limp at his side. “You carried four infants to term? How, Harry? When-?”
“This summer. I…I mean, we…that is, Remus and I, um…we got….intimate,” (a gross over-simplification, but nothing could make him say ‘sex’ in front of Dumbledore) “and I kinda got pregnant.” Harry looked away. He felt his face grow hot with embarrassment and, flustered for talking about this with Dumbledore - with anyone, really - he dropped the hem of his shirt, shielding his belly from view.
“Harry, even wizards need more than a handful of weeks to carry a child. For you to have born four children in such a short time, that is simply beyond what any wizard can do.”
“We had help. Potions. Remus gave me potions. Said they would make the- the pregnancy shorter. And they did. I was huge in weeks.” Harry wrapped his arms around himself. It wasn’t a cold night, though he shivered nonetheless. He felt empty. Having the pups inside him had been awkward at times, damn uncomfortable even, but…but they had made him less alone. Like he had a family. It was different from his forced one with the Dursleys or even the adopted one he had with the Weasleys or his friendship with Ron and Hermione, because the babies were his. They belonged to Harry and Harry to them, and he had felt complete in a way he had never before experienced. When he had wrapped his arms around the growing bulge of his stomach, felt the kicks under his skin - Harry had been full of love.
Now, that love was gone and all he had left were scars.
He squeezed his middle even tighter. The empty feeling didn’t change.
Harry chanced a look up at Dumbledore and shrank at the steel in those ice-blue eyes, from the cold anger emanating from his rigid stance. He had seen Dumbledore angry before, but never at Harry.
Still making mistakes, Harry thought bitterly to himself. Couldn’t do anything right, could he?
“Know this, Harry. What you have been through - what you are going through - is not by chance. This was deliberate and I will do everything in my power to find Remus and make this right. I need you to trust me, Harry, to trust that I will deal with this appropriately. And in the meantime, I think…I think we should go inside, Harry.” And just like that, all of the intensity bled out of Dumbledore’s stance, melting into a forced calm as he turned the corner of the sidewalk and approached crumbling house, carefully moving around the front door, which was splintered and a touch burnt.
Left alone on the sidewalk, Harry could only stare after him.
Dumbledore would fix this. He was the defeater of Grindelwald. Even Voldemort was afraid of him. Dumbledore would find Remus, make it right.
Hope surged within Harry.
He would be reunited with his precious loves once more, he was sure of it! Dumbledore would make it right.
Feeling much more at ease, Harry followed after the Headmaster through the wreck of a door, stepping around where it had been cracked apart as though bashed inward. Inside the house looked no better than the outside, as the same rough treatment reached down the hall and into the sitting room. Pictures were smashed, ghastly smears of something marked the walls in some places, most of the furniture was all but destroyed. It looked like a fight had happened.
Then Dumbledore ferreted out a portly wizard from his transfigured disguise as a chair and the ruse was brought to light.
After some advanced spell-casting, the house was righted and the portly wizard - Slughorn - spent several minutes arguing about a teaching position with Dumbledore, who all but ignored Harry (had some of the older man’s anger been aimed at him?). Slughorn, on the other hand, couldn’t stop glancing at him, outright staring at times. It made Harry uncomfortable, especially when Dumbledore excused himself to use the loo, leaving Harry alone with this strange man who stared too long, who proclaimed to know why Dumbledore had brought Harry with him, to tease Slughorn into changing his mind.
Harry couldn’t make sense of such a claim. If he didn’t have the wiles to keep Remus from running off with their pups, then how could Harry persuade a complete stranger of anything? Jaw clenched against the howl of injustice burning to come out, Harry crossed his arms protectively over his scarred middle. Everything would be fine, he told himself. Dumbledore will fix this.
Desperate for a distraction, Harry found himself wandering over to a display of wizarding photos on a nearby table. They were obviously Slughorn’s, being so out of place in the muggle house. One in particular caught his eye.
“She was one of my favorite students,” Slughorn ambled close behind Harry. Too close.
Not that Harry was in the mind to say anything about it, transfixed as he was by the sight of a young Lily Evans grinning and waving at him from group photograph. Harry had so many pictures of his father, but ones featuring Lily were much rarer and it somewhat soothed the howling, broken place within Harry to find something new of her. “You taught her?”
“Yes, yes, quite the precocious charms student, Lily was. Always a joy to have in one of my little club meetings, too, yes. And look here -”
He placed a pudgy hand on Harry’s back, urging him a little closer to the table as he pointed out another photo. He began to tell a story about some prank James Potter had pulled on a Slug Club meeting that Lily had been attending, and as Slughorn prattled on, the portly man eased closer and closer, the bulk of his gut pressing against Harry’s side, trapping Harry in place between him and the table.
Harry stared at the photographs, tried to listen to Slughorn’s tale because it was a new story about his parents and he should have been enthralled by it, but most of his attention was on the press of squishy flesh along his side, on the hand on his back that gradually slid down to the small of his back, Slughorn’s thumb stroking the thin cotton of his shirt. The touch reminded Harry of one visitor Vernon let into the house that only wanted to sit with Harry while they watched telly together. Only it hadn’t really been watching telly, it had also been teasing touches and heavy breathing until finally the man had finally eased Harry into his lap, pulling out his cock and coaxing Harry to suckle on it until he came.
Slughorn’s lazy petting, his breech of Harry’s personal space - it reminded Harry of how good it felt to just relax and give in, submit.
If Harry had learned anything this summer, it was that to letting someone take their pleasure from him could feel good, could give him pleasure. Harry had always found himself coming at least once for whoever took control away from him because once Harry’s control was gone, he was free to feel good.
And really, was it too much to ask that someone else take Harry’s control, to make choices for him so that he could stop feeling so much guilt and pain and pressure to do the right thing? Operating under his own power only seemed to make things worse for Harry - no, not only for Harry, Remus was a prime example that the horrible consequences of his actions extended beyond himself. Harry was tired of the pain, of the burden on his shoulders that only became heavier and heavier with each passing year. He was tired of having to always always always make a choice and having them go increasingly wrong.
Well if the choices weren’t even his….then what was there to feel bad about?
Experimentally, Harry leaned back a little into the hand now fingering his belt, sagged into the warm softness of Slughorn’s gut pressing all along his side. He was rewarded with a pause in whatever story Slughorn was churning out. The man took a shaky breath, a telltale sound that Harry had come to recognize as a sign that he was doing something right.
And then Harry realized something.
He might be the one being fondled, held down, fucked within an inch of his life, but all of that violence and desire, all of that power, it all got focused on Harry.
And he liked it.
The fingers tracing the line of his belt were just starting to delve under it when footsteps came from down the hall. Slughorn eased away to a more proprietary distance, taking his wandering hand with him.
Harry found himself disappointed by the interruption, not that Slughorn could have done much of anything with Dumbledore around.
“Well, Horace, I know a lost cause when I see one. Harry and I will see ourselves out.”
Harry hesitated a moment, glancing at the portly man. Slughorn’s face was flushed, his eyes were bright and filled with a lustful eagerness as he looked Harry up and down. Harry had done that to him, had made Slughorn lose himself to his desires. A tiny smile tugged at Harry’s lips. Without another word - none he dared to speak aloud, deliberate teasing still beyond him - he took Dumbledore’s unspoken hint and followed the Headmaster out of the house.
Both were nearly at the sidewalk again when Slughorn trotted out of the house, bleating his acceptance of Dumbledore’s offer. Harry’s smile twisted into a smirk- Slughorn had been right after all.
After the Headmaster’s acknowledgement, he and Harry set off down the road again, both silent for a time, lost to their thoughts.
“I want to thank you Harry for your assistance tonight.”
Startled, Harry glanced at the older man. “But I didn’t do anything.” Not quite a lie, as Slughorn had done all of the overt touching.
“You do yourself a disservice, Harry. Horace, though intelligent, has always been stubborn. All of my persuading alone could not have moved him to return to Hogwarts. In the end, it was you who moved him.” Dumbledore turned down a narrow alley and they came to a stop in the shadows. “Horace is what you might call a ‘collector’. It is habit for him to take extraordinary young people under his wing in order to cast his influence into the world, usually for personal gain. There is a high chance that he will try to collect you as well and it may be to our advantage that he succeed.” He peered at Harry over his glasses, ice-blue eyes searching. “Can I count on you, Harry? Can you rise above the injustice done to you, set it aside for the greater good?”
Wary, Harry rubbed at his side, pressing hard enough to feel the scars through his shirt. Everyone wanted something from him. Remus had wanted his body, his submission, four babies to take away from him. And every year, the sacrifices Dumbledore asked of him grew, each cutting deeper than the last. What would Dumbledore’s expectations take from him this time?
“You’ll find Remus? You’ll find the babies?”
“You have my word, Harry.”
For their sake, Harry would have to believe him.
Harry nodded, glanced around. “Erm…so what now? Am I going back to the Durs-” The rest of his question hung unfinished in the air, for when he turned his attention back to Dumbledore, he found the tip of a wand pointed at his face.
“I am, truly sorry, Harry.”
Harry blinked. A short distance away stood the Burrow. Confused, he squinted around him. There was nothing and no one else around that he could see, not that he could see much at all in the dead of night.
It was the strangest thing, Harry had been standing in an alley with Dumbledore and then he was here, alone with no idea of how he’d gotten to the Burrow. A thought niggled in the back of his mind that there was something missing, but all at once, Harry became aware that he was utterly exhausted, but that too was odd because he couldn’t remember doing anything that would leave him feeling like a wrung-out sponge.
Shaking his head, Harry made his way to the familiar door, knocked until light and movement stirred beyond it. Everything would make sense in the morning after a good, long sleep.