Chapter 1: A Fractured Inheritance
The child was wailing again, it wailed and howled from within the dwelling the white owl had stationed herself outside of the small house in the hideous unassuming neighborhood. The owl watched helplessly as the cruel rake of a woman dragged the filthy, second hand crib outside into the backyard and went back inside leaving the child to sob miserably into the cold, heartless sky. The owl left her perch when she saw the harpy return to her house, flying down to the freezing child. She could smell the hunger on the young infant, it looked to her with miserable hope, and yet resignation, used to rejection.
Young and small though she was, she puffed her downy feathers out as far as she could, desperately trying to warm the child. Hooting and nuzzling him gently, trying to get him to open his slim, far to dry mouth. She looked into the human eyes and she somehow knew that he was hers. Her owlet, as much as she possibly could with those awful creatures in the house. They wanted her owlet dead, as evidenced by leaving him outside to grieve in his hunger and fear all alone in the night. She would prevent that fate no matter what she had to do.
With this determination in hand she gently coaxed his mouth open finally, hoping he wouldn’t reject the nourishment and allowed her own hard earned meant to travel down the gullet of her owlet. The baby coughed at the taste, but instinct and an aching, empty stomach kept him from spitting it out. It was nothing compared to what he needed, but it was enough that he wouldn’t starve for tonight. Not daring to leave him to hunt for more she stayed with him, giving him warmth throughout the cold dark night. The owlet stopped crying after a long time, finally, still hungry, but at least warm, feeling the first bit of love he had been given in what seemed like forever.
The owl dared not sleep for fear of her newfound owlet passing as she did, so hungry and weak he was. She saw the dawn growing in the east, the oppressive dark slowly letting its grip be eased, allowing that it would not be taking the life of the boy that night. It was only then she felt safe enough to leave the child to hunt, never straying beyond the garden, feasting on the mice and lizards within it. Keeping none of it for herself, she knew she only had a short amount of time to feed her owlet before that hideous creature took him back inside the dwelling, she spat up as much into the boy as she could in the little time she had, knowing that no matter how much she gave the boy could not be full with how little she could produce and how much was needed. Still she tried, making many trips, the boy slurping down as much as he was given.
The woman came back out and screeched the owl away, looking down scornfully at the boy, sneering as if to say even as a snack for the owls you fail. Dragging the crib back inside before her neighbors saw what she had done, pushing him into the cupboard under the stairs where he would grow up and shutting the door before starting her day. The owl watched every single movement, her heart breaking with every muffled cry coming from behind the door.
It would be a long many years before she could teach her owlet to fly away from here. If she managed to help him survive.
Thus begins the life of Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived.
Chapter 2: If I've Had a Friend, on this Earth, You've Been a Friend to Me
Harry resisted his overwhelming urge to weep as the harsh, powerful chemicals in the soap bucket his aunt gave him burned the ever present cuts on his skin viciously. Crying would only make it worse for him, only make his aunt angrier, he dared a look out of the corner of his eye at the table above him. A very brief glance was all he dared, and he didn’t know why he looked at all, as the sight only hurt. Above him his cousin was celebrating his birthday, complete with cake, presents, hugs and kisses...everything Harry had ever dreamed of, and even now knew he would never, ever get.
Tasked with cleaning everything Dudley threw to the floor at the penalty of receiving another harsh kick to his ribs he moved as fast as he could. Harry shook as he scrubbed, so afraid of not noticing any of the tiny specs his aunt seemed so adept at finding, accusing him of laziness and calling for her husband to teach him a lesson on cutting corners on his tasks. He couldn’t see any specs but he knew they were there, looking until his eyes burned horribly, causing him to release a tear.
Harry felt it fall from his eye and then felt his throat close and his heart stop in his chest.
“Oi! What on Earth do you think you’re crying for you little brat?!” Came the wretched, tearing voice of his uncle. “If you think crying will get you out of the chores you owe us for putting up with you then you are beyond wrong!” Vernon turned in his chair so as to glare at him and point his large finger at Harry in accusation.
“We took you in, gave you the food on your plate, the clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and this is how you repay us?!” Came the harsh shriek of his aunt, accompanied by cruel giggling from his cousin. Harry closed his eyes tight and braced himself as he felt her shoe connect with his small ribs, ripping the breath from his lungs and sending him to his side.
Harry felt more kicks and heard more shouting, he kept his eyes closed tight, he opened them only once, to find the world growing splotchy and dark around him. He didn’t need decent sight or hold over it to see the large shape he knew was his uncle’s hand slammed down and connect to his temple.
All he understood was pain and confusion. What had he done? Why was this happening, and why to him? Harry felt the cold after the pain, he tried looking around, not sure if he couldn’t see because of the dark or because his eyes were swollen shut but able to determine he was very much alone.
Harry finally let go of the tears he held as gently and quietly as he could, not wanting to hurt his chest more and not wanting to alert anyone to his presence and earn more punishment and pain. He didn’t understand why they hated him so much, what he did to deserve this. What his cousin did to earn to opposite. Harry had tried behaving exactly like Dudley, even going so far as to say the exact words he was saying. He was beaten even worse than usual that day.
He thought of all the love and warmth that was given to his cousin, thought of how he wanted it so, so badly he could almost feel it himself. Harry saw a bit of light out of the corner of his very swollen eye, the moon coming from behind the clouds, the tears slowing now with relief, where there was moonlight warmth was not too far away and indeed there it was.
Glowing in the moonlight came the only living thing who had ever loved him, gliding soundlessly over rooftops to the space under the flowerbeds his aunt much have tossed him. The neighbors couldn’t see it and so his aunt was free to leave him there as long as she wished and Harry knew better than to make noise.
Feeling the puff of air hit him after the owl landed in front of him gave Harry the strength to tilt his head just a bit, trying to fight the sharp, burning pain in his chest. He felt the owl lay something rather large in front of him, no longer coughing it up into his mouth unless severely necessary, Harry felt a shiver of joy as he bit down hard, his mouth filling with the taste of rabbit, his favorite. As he ate more and more of the animal down he felt his strength return just a little bit, feeling the tightness in his chest leave somewhat but still creak and moan, but now he could move with no more pain than he had already gotten used to, now able to eat more voraciously, using his hands and teeth to tear at the skin to get to the organs, saving what was left of the meat for last. Biting the bones until they splintered open revealing the delicious marrow he sucked down fast, he felt his companion press against him side and preen him, giving him her own warmth as he feasted.
The owl watched her owlet as he eviscerated his meal, tonight his stomach would not groan and cause him pain she thought proudly, giving him as much of her warmth as she possibly could. She saw the bones in his chest set some on their own as his strength grew, sensing the flicker of power he had correct what damage it could, only wishing she could bring him even more. However hunting for two in an area like this was already so hard, the population only had so much to give since the humans destroyed what was here to make their own homes, creating a home was one thing, understandable at least, but to rip the Earth apart to serve your own needs, taking more than they deserved or could use… The owl would never understand the humans, and their capacity for cruelty.
Looking to her owlet to see he had finished eating and was now exhausted, she cuddled as close to him as she could, continuing to preen him with her beak, though she would never truly be able to get him clean it still felt like the right thing to do. Her owlet looked up with his large, sad eyes, and wrapped himself around her, trying to keep her warm, with no feather or even a pelt of his own he had no warmth to give, and yet still, tried to give what little he had. She felt waves of gratitude and sorrow flow through the bond she had built with him over the long long years, and felt her heart fragment… Humans could be hideously cruel she thought, watching what they had done to the world, and to her owlet, but they could also be kind…her owlet gave back though he had nothing to spare and though she felt the agony the humans put him through slowly chip away at the kindness he had, she knew that he still had compassion in his heart.
She wished she only speak to him in a way he could understand just once to tell him,
“ I am so sorry, my love, for everything that has happened to you and for everything that is going to happen to you, I am so sorry I cannot change them, and I am so sorry for what they will turn you into...I am so so sorry…”
Harry almost had a bit of peace, they had left him alone with his orders and he was nearly done, hoping he would have time to spare. Time to sneak into the spare bedroom and perhaps read one of the books his cousin threw in there in disinterest. After the Dursleys had been required to send him to school, Harry took to books like a fish to water once the school had tested his eyes. Much better at reading and with much more desire than his large oafish cousin, and not to mention that he enjoyed it, he had been forbidden from reading the books, as they weren’t his and belonged to his cousin regardless of whether or not he wanted them.
Whenever they left him alone he rushed to finish the tasks he’d been given and sneak upstairs into the bedroom and read as much as he could in the short time he had, before pretending to be cleaning the upstairs bathroom when they returned. Harry did not want to call attention to the room, and so when the Dursleys were home he pretended as though he could not even see it, once even going so far as to leave his glasses off, considering how angry the fact that he had needed them had made his aunt and uncle. That had earned him a belting for trying to pretend he couldn’t see the mess of the house and shirk his duties.
He finally yanked the very last weed out of the unsettlingly pristine garden, finally ensured every spec of dirt was in the bed, all the flowers still spaced the same perfect distance away from each other. Harry hated this garden, despite it being the only place where he got to eat and sleep with his owl, it looked like a drawing in a creepy childrens’ cartoon. Every. Last. Speck. Was meant to be in line, or there would be hell to pay. Once he saw that everything was in order he rushed inside to check the time and wash the filth on his hands, nearly making it inside before he sensed something that made him deeply uncomfortable. Nothing like the soul chilling terror of his aunt or uncle, but unnerving nonetheless. He turned and noticed a man he had never seen around here staring at the plants Harry had just been tending to, he looked up at Harry and came a false smile before he spoke.
“What a good boy you are taking such care with your Mother’s garden.” He said by way of introduction, not waiting for Harry to respond and inform him that it belonged to his aunt, barely taking note that the man was American. “And what beautiful soil, it looks so rich and healthy. May I ask what kind?”
Harry didn’t want to talk to this man, who was so rudely cutting in on his precious, limited reading time…
“It’s a mixture of hardwoods and pork manure, with some newspaper pulp to prevent root rot…” He said simply before turning to go into the house, desperate not to have any more of his time stolen, and afraid of the man before him. Closing the door tightly behind him, but not daring to lock it lest his family get mad at him for it he quickly washed his hands while staring at the clock, giving a sigh of relief. He still had an hour before his family said they were going to return, and they always returned fifteen minutes later. A whole hour, all to himself, he could almost sing with joy.
Harry raced upstairs after changing into his regular clothes instead of the gardening clothes he had to wear so as not to track dirty everywhere. Entering the room filled with dust and broken toys, and the wonderful books, as if the moment couldn’t get any better he saw the owl standing on the sill, he opened the window and pressed his face into her crop. She clicked at him fondly before holding out her leg to reveal a small, yet fat garden vole, which he took gracefully and swallowed it all at once.
This pleased her, and so he sat down beneath the sill and picked up a book he had been reading, slowly but surely whenever it was safe to do so. It was a book of fairytales, and though it was meant for small children, Harry couldn’t help but feel warm and at peace when he read the stories, the owl preening his hair above him as he did. He felt so safe, as though he was in another world, so warm and so happy in that moment.
The sound of a car door closing sent ice through his veins and in his panic he shot up to close the window, only to find it was his neighbors car. Shaking with relief he knelt back down on the floor, careful not to be seen lest the neighbors mention seeing his face in the window he tried to calm himself. He had gotten too caught up in the story, had that really been his aunt and uncle, Harry would have been in great danger. He set the book of fairytales aside, it wasn’t safe to read it if he got that absorbed in it, and so picked up another book after reassuring what the book would have him believe was his fairy godmother.
He sat back down with his new book and paged through it, his heart still pounding in his chest. It was one of the books Dudley’s overly religious Aunt Marge had sent over one Christmas, a collection of medieval saints, he thumbed through, noting here and there a few saints who’s stories intrigued him until he found one that actually interested him.
Saint Hedwig of Silesia(now Poland). Harry read about her life in the brief page or so she had been given in the book. She had spent her life, despite being born of nobility giving everything she had to the poor and sick. Harry knew many nobles of the time were selfish and cruel, keeping everything greedily to themselves, and scorning those who had nothing, even worse so for those that were unfortunate enough to fall ill. He was so moved by her story, she had built hospitals, fed the hungry, and settled disputes of power before violence and blood settled them.
Gently nipping at his ear to get his attention, Harry noted that he had to leave the room and prepare to pretend he had spent the last hour miserably cleaning. He stroked the owl in gratitude before stopping suddenly, looking at her thoughtfully as he pet her and thought of everything she meant to him...he couldn’t remember a time without her there, and couldn’t imagine his life without her. Harry knew that without her he would have long ago succumbed to death.
“Hedwig…” He said, leaning forward to give her a kiss between her eyes. “I will never be able to thank you enough for everything Hedwig, I love you.”
Harry turned and shut the window before leaving the room to start pretending he had only just finished the bathroom for when the Dursleys walked in. His mood souring instantaneously as he thought of his cousin walking into the kitchen to make a mess and his uncle furious he hadn’t yet started dinner, despite that whenever Harry did he was slapped for making something that the man didn’t want. And his aunt to putter around with her hawkish eyes, looking for even the most minuscule of mistakes in his cleaning to berate him for. Worst of all was how he hated that as soon as they put him from their minds...the would dote and love, and adore their son, his cousin. Though he had Hedwig, and he knew he should just be grateful for that, he envied Dudley, for all the love, all the food, and all the joy that he had never had to lift a finger for, let alone actually try to earn.
As the door opened and Harry left the bathroom with the cleaning bucket to see the faces of his family, the sight of perfect love and joy for each other as they hadn’t yet seen him, he felt another piece of his hard calcify and grow venomous.
Chapter 3: Oh Don't You See That Lonesome Dove?
For plot reasons I have decided not to include Abigail in this story, and so will start around episode two, but will jump around to various episodes all out of order within season one.
“I should have stuck with fixing boat motors in Louisiana.” Will said, sitting down and pressing his palms aggressively into his eyes in an attempt to ease his headache for just a moment.
“A boat engine is a machine. A predictable problem, easy to solve and if you fail there’s a paddle.” Hannibal replied from across the room, pulling something out of his wardrobe to make into a drink for Will. When Will had first seen that wardrobe Hannibal had noticed Wills interest and had explained that it was a vintage victorian drawing room cabinet, leading him to think of Hannibal as even more of a pretentious prick than he previously thought. Something only proven when, to his shock, Hannibal charmed away the animal dander covering his person with a snap of his fingers.
At first shocking Will with how brazen the man had been with his magic, having had no way of knowing Will was a wizard as well, and then with the realization that Hannibal had also cast a cleansing charm on his clothes before he could sit down. Will was shocked into being somewhat unoffended.
“Isn’t magic in front of a No-Maj illegal?” Was the cleverest thing he could think of to say at the time, much to his chagrin and Hannibal’s amusement.
Now here they were, Will trying to massage his screaming headache away while Hannibal brewed something or other across the room. Hannibal had learned early that Will was a natural Legillimens but had been given no training or education on the matter, this coupled with his profound empathy created the most fascinating psychological cocktail he had ever seen.
“You’re supposed to be my paddle.” Will replied, his headache only sharpening.
“I am your paddle.” Hannibal replied. “Drink this, it should help with your headache.”
“Thank you.” Will drank the potion and breathed through his nose, grimacing at the taste but already feeling the relief leeching the pain from his skull. He sighed as he laid his head back feeling the tension he didn’t realize he had fade away. “Is this made of the mushrooms from the corpses in the FBI evidence freezer?”
“Of course, I took the liberty of taking a few of each variety. It would be a shame to let them go to waste, mushrooms gifted from the dead have many magical, as well as medicinal purposes, and it is of course rare enough to find them at all, let alone so well cared for.” He replied, as though it were the most natural and logical thing in the world. “Don’t worry, I left no prints, and glitched the cameras before I apparated in.”
Will couldn’t help but laugh, he may have been angry in different circumstances, but his head had ceased hurting for the first time in several weeks. Hannibal smiled at him too, Will felt a tingling coming from him, pleasure at his laugh, warmth at his company, something more perhaps, something sweeter, and something secret. He didn’t quite know what to do about it yet, knowing Hannibal knew of what he was, there was no question of what he wanted, and wanted Will to know. He just didn’t know what to do about it just yet. Some part of him still unsure and skittish, despite the evidence right there in front of him.
“We still have to find out where he got the soil from. It isn’t from anywhere around Maryland or the surrounding states, and the newspaper pulp was too damaged to even find out where it came from. Beverly says the ink is what made the soil so adaptive for fungi instead of regular plants and it isn’t even made in the states.” Will felt his headache start to return, drinking more of the tea.
“I take it Uncle Jack will be sending you there to find the supplier and possibly a beginners hunting ground. Maybe even a partner?”
“We have a winner. Ding. Ding. Ding. ” Will wondered if that was too bitchy even for him. It wasn’t Hannibal’s fault that Jack overworked him, in fact Hannibal had even told Jack several times on his behalf that Will needed a break. An apology was on the tip of his tongue when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder, startling him. Opening his eyes a twitching a bit only to see Hannibal’s perfectly manicured fingernails resting on his shoulder, Will felt even guiltier now for snapping at him. “I’m sorry, Dr. Lecter, that was rude of me…”
“All understandable, Will, and I promise you, the walls of this room have seen so much worse.” He replied graciously with a chuckle. “You are under an enormous amount of stress, you have not only the weight of lives lost on you but lives at risk. Your mental and emotional states both suffer, as well as your social state.”
Will couldn’t help but laugh, “To be fair my social state was dead before it hit the ground.” Hannibal smiled in response.
“Flippancy doesn’t suit you, William. I’ve seen you in many physical altercations, fights, showdowns, and displays of bravado. Yet I’ve never seen you in all this time receive a friendly touch. The way you flinched was very telling, far more than can be expected of surprise.”
Will didn’t quite know what to say, Hannibal’s hand was still on his shoulder, and he didn’t like the way it filled him with more tension. He knew this man, trusted him, knew he would never raise a hand against him. And yet, despite the fact that the fingers were welcome on him, warm in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time, he still expected a fight somehow.”
“Tell me your thoughts, Will, are you expecting pain, a fight, aggression?” He asked, ever so patiently, so sign of judgment, or condemnation. Will bit his lip, looking away as he nodded, trying to make himself feel less exposed under the eye of a man he admired so. “You’ve come to associate touch with violence, cruelty, and the competition for survival. I think perhaps if you learned how to accept comfort from touch it would help you, perhaps if you went to get a massage? It could rewire your brain into accepting friendly touch, relax your body and mind, as well as be mildly social without making a commitment to new friends when you don’t have the time or patience?”
Will did laugh at that, “I don’t particularly enjoy the idea of a stranger rubbing me down and making small talk. Besides, I don’t need a massage, I feel just fi-!” His words were cut off by a moan he hadn’t had the time to hold back as Hannibal pressed his thumb into a knot on his shoulder, hearing it pop and feeling his muscles relax Will didn’t even have time to feign protest before Hannibal was gently pushing his head forward and grinding his fingers into his painfully tight neck.
“Yes, clearly…” Came the smug but caring voice of his doctor.
Will relaxed and all but purred under Hannibal’s ministrations, relieving pain and stress, unable and unwilling to protest for the sake of his foolish pride, allowing himself to relax and enjoy the touch of a friendly hand for once. There would be time for anxiety riddled regret later.
Hannibal had known from the first moment he had caught Will’s scent that this was his long awaited mate. His father had long ago, when he was a child told him that one day he would come across a scent so beautiful and pure that he would do anything to appease his need for it. As he had grown he had dismissed it as the tales of a father trying to get his eldest child to at last sleep and give him some peace. Having seen too much in the world at such a young age it had disillusioned him, depriving him of the hope for the perfect fit he had been promised...and yet…
There he was, and underneath the smell of a raging alcoholic with a thousand dogs and poor taste in aftershave, it was there. A pull, a desire, a vicious need , he had to stop himself from shifting and destroying Jack in a ruthless display of power to his precious mate. Hannibal knew that Will felt something too, nothing as powerful as he lacked creature status for now , but one day, one day he will feel that same drag in his heart and soul. For now Hannibal had to work, had to earn his mate, he felt the pain Will had been put through as clearly as though it were his own distant wounds. The sting of bitterness long ago scarred over and forgotten, but part of his love all the same. Desperate to prove himself an effective mate he had started small so as not to scare the skittish man, so distant from social graces and friendship, he would have to work to even be considered a friend to start with, and so that was what he did, Hannibal started with a meal. A small breakfast, with his own kill from the previous night cooked in, he preened under the praise of his mate as well as the obvious enjoyment and nourishment provided. Slowly he earned Will’s trust, and bit by bit he pushed his mate farther into the only direction nature had given for either of them.
Which brought them to now, Hannibal felt his blood sing and his magic glow as Will leaned forward in submission to pleasure that Hannibal not only provided but was given permission- and encouragement to continue. He pressed his fingers firmly with his strong hands into the stubborn knots and tight muscles of his love...only wishing he could go father, but not willing to push over any boundaries. The knowledge that one day he would have permission to do this as he pleased one day, and receive it in return, able to display his love for his mate proudly. No longer skulking around his property in his shifted skin, silently watching Will from a distance, letting himself be caught just once or twice, proudly puffing his chest as his mate stood in admiration of his other skin.
Feeling daring, Hannibal pushed some of his own regard into the fledgling bond that had begun to form, and was swiftly deepening with the touch between them. Will opened his eyes, not seeing what was in front of him, only feeling the powerful emotions from Hannibal, as well as from himself. Hope bloomed in Hannibal’s chest, hoping Will would finally give him permission, take the first move that he knew would have to be taken first, not willing to take that choice from his considerably more frightened mate.
Will turned his eyes to Hannibal, for once meeting another’s gaze without pain, or coercion...longing in them clear as the sun on a hot day, holding his breath as Will slowly leaned his head forward, his eyes open, knowing and accepting, finally pressing his lips to Hannibals. Not willing to give him any time to second guess he returned the kiss with still some restrained passion, and as much enthusiasm as he dared show. Pouring as much yearning, admiration, and want into the bond and the kiss Hannibal ran his fingers through the unkempt curls and held him close, deepening the kiss as Will slowly flicked his tongue out, only to have Hannibal’s own meet it.
Will then grew infinitely more daring, and gently pulling Hannibal down over him, giving the other time and opportunity to put down a boundary, as though it would ever happen! Hannibal gave a groan and pressed himself down to his mate, resisting the urge to give the final mark, the final bite that would give Will a second skin of his own, nearly sinking his teeth in by mistake when, startling both of them Will’s cell loudly and shrilly cried from his bag on the floor. Both of them gave groans of displeasure as Will turned his head to answer the phone while Hannibal tilted his own to Will’d throat and gave teasing licks and kisses, distracting him from the call.
“What is it, Jack? I’m off the clock.”
“For me you’re always on the clock. Beverly found where the soil came from, he didn’t ship it over at all, he brought it over himself, from somewhere in southeast England, Interpol found more bodies there with the same soil, and with much less finesse. That’s where you’re going, so pack your things and get ready, you leave in three days.” Jack said, before hanging up, not even giving Will the chance to refuse or protest. Will dropped his phone to the floor, resisting the urge to throw it and said nothing, the moment between him and Hannibal ruined.
“He didn’t even say how long I would be gone...what am I supposed to do about my dogs? My students?” He said in frustration, not daring to ask about their new development, he felt all his emotions begin to rise, between Jack’s casual lack of concern and the overstimulation of Hannibal’s kiss he felt his heart race for a new, much less pleasant reason.
“Breathe Will,” Hannibal said, stroking Will’s cheek, “Alana can watch your dogs, she owes me a favor, you already have a substitute, and I will not let Jack whisk you off to England on your own. I am still your paddle, and I won’t let him whisk you away in the hurricane of his personality. Everything will be alright, I will ensure it, I promise.” Hannibal watched Will’s face cloud over with so many emotions, relief, sadness, anxiety, panic, fear, too many others to name. Laying down his weight he continued giving soothing words as he gave as many grounding touches to his mate. One day Jack would regret treating his Will in such a way.
Within three days, they were both on a plane, together, hands clasped under the dim lights, Jack already asleep, in the arms of prince Ambien. No idea what was waiting for them across the roiling Atlantic, what they would find, in each other, in the crime scenes they found, both the ones the FBI and Interpol would give, and the one they would find on their own…
While Will and Hannibal flew over from the states, Harry shook in a puddle of his own blood and urine. He’d been caught catching a glimpse of the tv...some bodies had been found in the woods, with plants growing on them. They’d been there for at least a few months, but Harry saw under the flowers, beautiful though they were, the soil, so different to the rest of the forest floor around it, and so familiar to what he had been up to his knees in just an hour or two previously. He didn’t know how he knew, but he stood, frozen in terror as the man from so long ago shot in front of his mind, not realizing that he had stopped his cleaning to watch television, and inciting the wrath of his aunt and uncle. Even worse, in his shock he hadn’t been able to process the sound when they had first shouted at him.
He couldn’t remember when he’d been given a beating quite this bad, he was kicking himself as his aunt dragged him by his hair to the cupboard under the stairs and locked him in. Harry had no idea how long he’d been down there, and no idea how long he would be down here. It’s all my fault, he thought, If I could’ve just kept my head down and kept dusting I wouldn’t have been caught… He would’ve cried had there been any fluid left in his body to give. It’s all my fault… He thought again, the images of the rotted corpses floating behind his swollen eyes. Harry knew he had given the man the information on the soil, and that’s why he did it. Maybe his aunt and uncle were right to hurt him, maybe they knew something he didn’t. Maybe he just brought it out in people. First them, then his cousin, and now that man. Harry felt anger and rage build inside him… it killed him inside that he deserved this.
It’s. All. My. Fault.
Chapter 4: A Chase to End All Time
Since it's been a while since I last posted I made this chapter extra long, more like two chapters at once lol
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Will was woken up on the other side of the world to Hannibal gently shaking him. He didn’t open his eyes, opting instead to close them tighter against the lights, rubbing his aching jaw that had been clenched tight while he slept. The seats were at least comfortable for a plane, much better than the usual coach the FBI gave him, another pro to Hannibal was that he had insisted on upgrading Will to first class, something he had never experienced but was very grateful for, as he was not looking forward to travelling ten hours in coach nonstop, and Hannibal had made the trip more pleasant.
There were lots of things Hannibal had been able to make pleasant, namely social events. From large confrontations with Jack, as he’d had a few leading up to their departure, so just walking around crowded areas. With Hannibal being such a social butterfly Will had been worried he would have been stressed with all the people Hannibal naturally had near him sometimes, but he was wrong. In crowds Hannibal gave him something to focus on instead of impressions from everyone bombarding him and crushing him, and one on one Hannibal seemed to always know when to take the lead without making him feel like he needed a keeper. Will was still hesitant about them being “them”, but, as odd as it sounded and as short as their time together had so far been, it felt more right than anything Will had ever felt in his life. For the first time in a long time he had someone, a living creature that wasn’t a dog that he was afraid of losing. It was moving way too fast for his liking, becoming so attached so fast, the last thing he wanted in the world was to scare Hannibal away.
Hannibal on the other hand seemed to be encouraging Will to become as attached as he could. Will didn’t want to focus on how much he was okay with that, it wasn’t like he was fostering codependency, he was...for lack of a better term, doting. He got Will a glass of good whiskey, a warm towel, he hadn’t had to make awkward requests to the overly talkative flight attendants once, it had been nice. He hadn’t pushed for uncomfortable public hand holding, or even a peck on the cheek upon meeting, he respected Will’s space, and his need for privacy, not even badgering him to speak on their drive to the hotel.
“You didn’t have to book me a room at this place. The plane ride over here was already too much” Will said, knowing the futility of his protests.
“I know I didn’t, I simply wanted to. The place that the FBI had listed as the location to put you up at was notorious for cockroaches and pests of all kinds.”
“Well the FBI has a budget. How did you even manage to get a reservation at this place on this short of notice? This seems like the kind of place that requires you to plan your stay years in advance.”
“This hotel does, however I was able to make a compromise.”
This brought a sharp glance to Hannibal.“What kind of compromise? You didn’t take a hit job to get this room did you?” Will asked, only half joking, and causing Hannibal to laugh.
“Nothing so dramatic, no. After I brought up my concerns to the people in charge of our travel offered to put us up in a different, but no less disgusting hotel. And so I asked them to pick out a hotel that they thought would suit my tastes and I would front the difference.”
It was Wills turn to laugh. “Have you ever heard of malicious compliance, Hannibal? They probably just picked the most expensive hotel they could find and then strong armed the owner into making space for us.”
Hannibal smiled back, “Indeed I have, but I assure you, cost is no issue, and we have gotten some lovely rooms waiting for us, already booked, and taken care of. Relax and try not to worry about the price, it’s already paid for, it would be a waste not to enjoy it.”
Will smiled and tried not to feel like a sugar baby. He hated expensive fancy places, nothing made him feel more like white trash than being surrounded by luxury and rich people, they could smell the blue collar he grew up with. He wasn’t ashamed to be working class, he just hated the feeling of being surrounded by the softness that he knew had been built on the backs of people like his father, who walked six miles to break his back every single day on the docks for next to nothing, moved with work, never knew a steady income, never in his life known stability, never even knowing of WIll’s magic, having none of his own. Chasing labor like a bloodhound to survive, and pushing himself into an early grave to get Will an education so he didn’t have to live like his father. Will still felt guilty, his father had been so so sick, and still worked so so hard for Will, who even after dozens of scholarships and his father’s help, didn’t have enough, still had to restrict his meals to three times a week to make by.
He remembered the feeling when he graduated university, walking with the rest of his peers instead of receiving the certificate in the mail like he wanted. Looking out in the crowd for his father, his father had wanted to see him walk, and after all he’d done how could Will say no? They’d had their differences, their issues, the drinking, the neglect, lashing out on both their parts, but not seeing him out there had hurt, and filled him with bitter resentment, thinking that his father had taken a job over this or had started drinking early that day, without so much as calling Will. He had been so angry, sad, hurt, but had in some small way, expected it.
And that, that bit of resignation, that...not even doubt, that surety that his father wouldn’t come to see him, that is what hurt him after all these years. After the ceremony Will had stomped back to his apartment, too angry to drive, and called his father seven times in a row, getting his answering machine every time. After that Will called the place his father was working at the time, who informed him that he had quit, after being given an ultimatum to either work that day or never come back. That was when Will’s bitterness melted into worry, with still some reservations. He called the bar his father liked in that town, run by an old friend who let him drink for free, who greeted Will like a proud uncle, who had heard Will’s father last night proudly tell every single patron in the bar that his son, first in their family to set foot on a college campus for something other than a labor job, let alone graduate.
Who had gone home early so he could be fresh to see his son tomorrow.
That is when the worry turned into outright terror, he had called everyone who his father had any contact with, none of them had heard from him, all knew Will was graduating him and thus didn’t bother getting in touch with him, all knowing that his son would be his only focus. Will had sprinted back to the campus, to his car, the parade of graduates and their parents had dimmed down, thank goodness, he started his car and drove as fast as he could, to where his father lived, two towns over, breaking a dozen laws as he did. He scanned the roads for a wreck, Will’s father had been somewhat of a reckless driver...nothing. He screamed down the highway into the downtown, shitty neighborhood his father lived, drifting into the sidewalk rather than parallel parking, nearly tipping the car as he did, he ran out of the car, not realizing he still had on the graduating gown on. He grabbed his spare key to unlock the front door, it opened only to stop on the chain, meaning his father was still inside, WIll had called out for him, and only heard the whine of an alarm clock, his father never, never slept through his alarm, no matter what had happened. No matter the time he went to bed, how much he had to drink, how bone tired he had ever been, that alarm clock always woke him up without fail.
Will panicked, and kicked the door off its hinges, the wood splintered and fell inward, the chain remained intact, a testament to how his father had always changed the locks in every place they had ever lived to make sure they were done right. Running in, ignoring the shouts behind him from the landlord who lived across the street he ran to the one bedroom...and there was his father. Not in his bed, on the floor, surrounded by broken glass and blood, the alarm still blaring from the floor beside the mattress. Will had felt hands on him, had heard ragged sobs, someone shaking him, trying to get him out of his spot frozen on the floor. He had turned his head, to the answering machine the only thing closest to a luxury in the house, needed in case someone called his father for a job, with its glowing light informing him of a message. Will knew what was on the machine, and still he took the one or two steps over and pressed down, to hear his own voice, his words were bitter and angry, full of hurt and venom. He turned, looking at the blood on the floor, knowing his father had never heard the words, but that they had nonetheless serenaded his corpse while Will could only think of himself, after everything the man had done for him.
The landlord, an older man by the name of Darius, who Will still sent money to every week and would until the day he died, had dragged him out of the house, away from his father’s body, keeping him from further contaminating the crime scene. Not that it would have mattered, cops never came to this part of town. He dragged WIll into his own house, held him tight, telling him that his father didn’t want to be remembered that way, that it didn’t matter what he’d said, that his father died knowing WIll loved him, and we all said things we didn’t mean. None of it had helped that day.
It took three days of calling for the police to be bothered to come to the neighborhood, and then all they did was call a coroner to pronounce him dead and take the bloating body. Darius had held Will back from the police, keeping him calm, and ensuring he didn’t attack the bored officer who had clearly pulled the short end of the stick to come here tell them it was probably a robbery gone wrong without bothering to check up on anything but assuring them he would. Both knowing he would not.
Will had cleaned up the crime scene, his the help of Darius, who had insisted he do this without his help, shouldn’t have to clean up what was left of his father, but Will refused. He noticed that the answering machine had been erased, Darius hadn’t wanted him to ruminate over the last words he spoke to his father. In the days and weeks that followed that man had cared for him like his own son, had held him through the grief, helped him with his next move, collecting the few things his father owned, what he would do next with his life, even letting him stay on his couch after Will’s own landlord kicked him out for not being able to make rent, as grieving never paid well. He supported Will in his choice to join the NOPD, both knowing that he would be looking for whoever killed his father, both knowing that he was wasting his degree in forensic science.
The only one who dared patrolling the bad neighborhoods of the city Will was left to sort his personal carnage unbothered, letting go those in the neighborhood who were good, just trying to get by, while still taking in those who deserved it. A rapist, who put their orgasm over someone else’s life belonged in prison, Will didn’t know where the mayor bought his weed but Will got his from a single mother with four kids and just as many jobs trying to make ends meet. It had taken a long time for him to win back the trust of the “bad” community when he joined the police force, but soon, most of them realised he wasn’t going to hunt them or treat them differently like the animals that were the rest of the NOPD. Will wasn’t a snitch, he wouldn’t let those who poisoned the world around them stick around to poison them further, but he wouldn’t bring people in who were desperate and didn’t know where else but crime to turn to.
Will rose from the ranks from beat cop, to homicide detective, he brought justice to many, worked the cases in the neighborhoods no cop would touch, responded to those neighborhoods knowing he could be shot just by entering in his uniform. He earned his rank there. And when he had access the case file, which contained only two pieces of paper, the incident report, and the coroner’s, he was furious. He’d gone to Darius’s house that night, filled with shame and guilt and rage, the man’s calming presence had helped him through that as well. Will sore to never take his kindness for granted like he had taken his own father’s, and he never did. He’d helped Will calm down, and told him that he was lucky to be in the position he was in, he was by far not the only one who’d had lost someone to something like this only to have the cops do nothing about it because of who they were, where they lived, the color of their skin. Will was lucky to be in a position where he could change it, he couldn’t fix it, not by any means, by he had the tools at his disposal to find who did this.
He searched and with no effort found hundreds if not thousands of cold cases, just like his father’s. Two pieces of paper, incident and coroner’s reports, and no further notes, labelled cold cases before the ink had even dried on the signatures below. Will didn’t bring this to the attention of his superiors, knowing that it wasn’t that they didn’t know, they simply didn’t care. And so he made his name that way, solved dozens of those cold cases just by doing the bare minimum, and some...some were not so easy, some had a pattern, like his father’s had. Those went into a special file, ones he kept away from his fellow cops, not that they would ever dream of screwing around with him like they did to each other, horseplay, sexism, racism. The inappropriate jokes about the people in the jail cells. The fact that his differentness made them uncomfortable didn’t sit well with them either, had Will not made a good name for himself he would have been brutally hazed he was sure.
The patterns Will found showed a serial killer, targeting middle aged blue collar men, all in the same way, broken bedroom window, in bad neighborhoods, killed beside their beds, nothing stolen, nothing left. Probably something left, but no one had bother to dust for prints or anything else. Thirty-two deaths over the course of the last three years. His father had been the seventeenth, the thirty-second had been tagged yesterday. Will ran to the crime scene to find it still somewhat fresh, as fresh as it could be after however many days it took the coroner or the police to respond. Will combed that crime scene like a favorite grandchild on picture day, he found prints, several to the family, several to some prostitutes in the system, and one unknown. With none of the other crime scenes intact enough to cross reference he had no idea if this was his killer or if the set of prints just happened to belong to someone not in the system. Will had cursed every single other cop on that had ever served on the force.
Will had waited patiently for his killer to strike again, working overtime nearly every night, desperate not to miss when the call came in, reviewing every single call he missed when his captain has forced him to go home and sleep. Will waited for three months, before the killer struck again, it felt like his birthday to see the crime scene fresh, hours old, he combed through everything, alone again, while the mother comforted her daughter. He found the same set of prints, and thanks to there being statements from family this time he knew the last job the man had worked. He’d been working under the table as an electrician for some asshat who didn’t want to pay a union worker their wage and so hired someone to pay in cash and then fuck off. Apparently he had worked for him several times like that, all off the books and had quit after having asked for the job to be regular and on the books since he spent most of the week there anyways.
The man in question ran the hiring section of a decently sized labor company in NOLA, that had several different names for its various businesses to give the impression that they were still “local”. And that this was very common for them to do, so they could cut corners on taxes, hours, wages, and union dues. Every time one of their regular under the table workers asked to be brought on full time as an employee since they did everything an hourly employee did without the paycheck they would either be fired, given the ultimatum to stay as is or quit, or simply never been called back.
Will closed his eyes, and let the pendulum swing.
That man had never had trouble with the law, not on any official basis anyways, his father was the head of the company and as such had given his son a leg up in the company, while not being his direct underling, telling him he had to work his way up, as though he were no different than the filthy grunts they had doing the building. But so be it, he would show his father he deserved to inherit the company and how wrong he was to stick him here behind the hiring desk, like he was no better than the idiots he hired. Quickly learning that it was cheaper the pay someone one hundred dollars a day in cash to do the job he’d have to pay someone eighty dollars an hour after taxes, benefits, and dues it became his main source of employing people. He had only the absolute bare minimum of people on the schedule officially, and the men he paid in cash worked harder and smarter anyways. Until they had the nerve to ask for him to sign them on as an official employee, after he’d given them the chance no one else would, the opportunity to work there and they wanted even more? No one ever gave him anything on a silver platter why should they get it just because they asked. Like they deserved it just because he let them work there for a little while, like anyone actually cared about them. They deserved to know that. No one cared if they died, no one would look into it.
The first time he did it was spontaneous, the man had threatened to sue him and so at night he snuck into his house, attempting to kill him in his sleep, but the man woke up, and so was stabbed beside his bed. The man had run, burned his clothes, thrown out the knife and sweated for three days. Over nothing. He was right all along, no one important would care about these men, no one would save them, no one would stop him.
There were always more grunts.
Will had opened his eyes and thrown up all over the evidence room. He could have found any number of stupid crimes to rbing the man in for, get his prints to and then suddenly have him linked to the murders. But Will knew that with nothing to tie him to the other thirty-one and the heft the man’s father carried around in his wallet the man would never face true justice even in prison. Will could stop him, apparate in the man’s room, and take him, torutre him in all sorts of ways. He knew potions that would turn the man’s skin inside out, spells that would turn his spine to dust, curses that would cause suffering not even the depth of hell had ever seen. But this man did not deserve that. Kevin Matthew Ray deserved to die, but he also deserved justice, Will wasn’t the only one who was left behind in the fallout of the man’s selfishness, and it wasn’t him alone who deserved to taste the man’s blood between his teeth for what he had done. Watching him rot in prison would have to be enough, for all of them.
He had followed the man for three months to his next kill, in a neighborhood that Will was known for patrolling, watched him break in, called for backup, and followed. The fight was unsatisfying, Will had come in with his gun, pointed at Kevin Ray, but, with a bitter taste on his tongue, couldn’t shoot him, the man deserved to live in fear and pain in prison, not the quick easy death of a bullet. Looking at the man lying on the floor in a pool of his own cooling blood, for just a second thought of his own father. His hesitation gave Kevin the confidence to lunge forward with his knife, Will didn’t pull the trigger and had grappled with him for a good while before getting stabbed in the shoulder. Not even a good, clean stab, it was jagged, unprofessional despite how long Kevin had been doing this. Will’s backup had shown up and taken Kevin in, Will presented everything he had, and Kevin was in prison to this day, not even his father could save him by sending him to a low security prison for rich white people that was more like a summer camp than real prison. No, Will made sure that he went to real prison.
When asked why he couldn’t pull the trigger Will couldn’t exactly tell them that he wanted to brutally torture the man instead of just shooting him, and so he deicied to play the role given to him. Poor Will, the odd but brave and determined cop, who wanted to help, who patrolled the worst neighborhoods couldn’t pull the trigger. He had handed in his resignation, having no reason left to stay at the NOPD after having been assigned desk duty since he couldn’t shoot anyone. He stayed with Darius for a while after he had packed up all his things and headed up the East coast. From there he’d been welcomed at Quantico as a teacher, after failing to become a field agent, his degree finally becoming some use, his skills he had learned as a homicide detective helping him further. Through it all he had no bitterness left in him about that chapter of his life, he still felt twinges of shame for his last words to his father, but no guilt any longer, the resentment that had always been there had been fertilized by the experiences, and Will could never truly be comfortable in the face of wealth and luxury.
Will was brought back to the present by Hannibal shaking his shoulder. “We’re here, Will.”
He nods and grabs his duffel bag from the back of the car before joining Hannibal on the walk in.
“Where did you go?” Hannibal asked, ever curious, and noting the differences in scents that reflected the different emotional states Will had travelled through.
“Nowhere important.” He said, lying, Hannibal could tell but, nonetheless decided not to push him just yet. They reached the check in desk and informed the polite young lady there of their reservation, receiving a room key, a list of services offered at the hotel, including spa and gym hours, and was wished a wonderful stay.
“There’s only one room?” Will said, confused.
“Yes, I’m afraid we could only convince one of our reserved guests to reschedule at the behest of the FBI, and the man who called said one room would be adequate.” The woman said, red faced and apologetic.
“Are there at least two beds?” Will asked, clearly not willing to make a scene.
The woman remained silent before answering that no there wasn’t. In a hotel as prestigious as this a cot was practically unheard of. Will nodded politely to the lady behind the desk and even smiled, trying to assure her that he was not upset with her before heading up to the room. Hannibal did the same, thanking her for everything before following Will to the elevator at a somewhat slower pace to hide his delight at the situation, unexpected though it was.
“I’m sorry, Will, I realise that this has made you uncomfortable, I should have ensured that two rooms were booked. If you wish, I can sleep elsewhere.” Hannibal knew that Will would never even begin to dream of doing that to Hannibal, he could be rude sometimes but he would never have Hannibal walk the filthy streets of London to try and find other accommodations on such short notice. Will of course refused but still was visibly uncomfortable, the desire to assure his mate twitched within him but he knew that Will just needed some space right now, and he would get it. Once they reached the room they saw that the bed was large enough that they could both sleep on it without touching the other, not that it truly mattered overmuch, Will wasn’t opposed to spending the night with him, he was uncomfortable around luxury, and was introverted, he needed to not be smothered, he needed his space.
Will dropped his duffel bag on the floor and looked around, seemingly unsure of what he should be doing in the place, Hannibal decided to offer him some privacy, “I shall take the first shower, if that’s alright with you, or I can wait until you have had one?” Will assured him that he was more than fine waiting and seemed somewhat relieved, as predicted. He took his time in the shower, knowing there was no chance of losing hot water, he wanted to give all the time and privacy he could. He was delighted to spend time in close proximity to his mate, but he knew that if he pushed too hard it would come at a price, Will needed time to recharge, time to breath. Hannibal wasn’t surprised Will had retreated into his mind on the ride to the hotel, he had been lost in the landscape of his mind, and much like his own there lay rooms in his memory palace where it was dangerous to tread. In time he’d know everything about Will who would know everything about him in turn, Hannibal was built of patience, he would wait forever for his beloved.
When his skin began to become over hydrated he stepped out of the shower, deciding to dress himself both so as not to make Will feel as though Hannibal expected something he did not, and so as not to offend his prudish American sensibilities. In time he planned to try and push that a bit, not only for his own comfort but for Will’s own. Hannibal stepped out into the room to find it empty, his mates belongings where he left them, and a note saying he’d gone for a walk, and needed some air. Hannibal trusted Will, he knew the man could handle himself in any situation, but his Instinct told him something different, he had only ignored his Instinct once, and he had lived to regret it, so many years as the very last of his kind, all because he had second guessed himself.
He would not do that again, he put on his shoes and walked out of the lobby, the scent of his destined one easy to distinguish from the swine that inhabited the rest of the city. Following the smell to a nearby park, he shifted into his second skin the very moment he was out of sight of the city lights. No longer having the need to feign calm he charged to the scent of his Will, now tinged with the sharp scent of danger, trampling plants and undergrowth beneath him, using every evolutionary advantage this form gave him to rush to his mate.
All he’d wanted was some fucking air, and to dissociate in private for a little while. Now here he was, four muggers, armed with knives, who refused to believe him when he told them his wallet wasn’t on him on every side. He really had left it in his hotel but, since the muggers had seen the hotel he’d come from, none of them believed that he had nothing of value on him. Will was in no mood, and when they’d decided to take out some anger and then do him the courtesy of emptying his pockets for him...Will had snapped. He didn’t know how he knew, but these men didn’t deserve what little patience he’d had left in his soul and though he could have cursed them away, he was too engulfed in every bit of stress, upset, and petty inconvenience of those weeks. He’d just wanted to take a fucking walk so he could get some air, recover from the stress of the crowds and forced travelling, and put himself back together to the point where he could love another human being again. Hannibal didn’t deserve the wrath these men had unleashed, maybe this was a good thing.
Will fought like a feral animal, he’d grown up working, he was deep country strong. He’d been slinging pallets of wood, metal, brick, cement, and hay ever since he was old enough to not be toppled over by what he carried. He kicked, clawed, bit, picked up and threw the men surrounding him. Will saw the skinniest one to the side and threw his right fist, easily the size of the man’s own face and crushed it against the side of his skull, sending him to Kingdom Come as he would later find out. With another he’d picked up by the legs in a bear hug and thrown him to the ground just as fast, but not fast enough to avoid being stabbed by the other two. With one dead and the other out of commision at least Will was glad he held up his own before he bled out onto the park floor, finding it actually quite hilarious that after everything he’d gone through working with the police, the FBI, sex traffickers, serial killers, the worst Jack Crawford had to offer, it was some city born muggers that gave him his end, stabbing him over and over as soon as he was down. He kept fighting, he would not make it easy for them, but he knew he was done for, blood loss, the organs they kept hitting, he knew that even with magic he would be unable to save himself.
Will looked to his left, seeing movement in the forest, knowing without seeing, it was the stag he’d seen so many times at a distance. A large, feathered, powerful monstrosity, he had felt honored that his property had become the territory of such a creature, though Will had never been able to find out exactly what it was, but it had killed a mountain lion once that had nearly picked off one of his dogs and was welcome on his property ever since. Will was certain it wasn’t real, something his mind brought up for some odd reason in his last moments, he would have rather seen Hannibal rushing to his side, he felt tears despite himself, he’d been so distant, so short, so cold. It was far too soon in their relationship to begin to discuss the future, or love, but Will felt and had wanted both with Hannibal, and now that knowledge would die with him.
He watched in awe as the stag lowered it crown and sent one of the muggers flying into the air with blood and viscera raining below him and to the other a brutal kick from powerful front legs as the stag reared up and brought them down hard. For the last Will nearly gasped at the beauty through his punctured lung as the great animal opened his mouth to reveal teeth sharper and more fearsome than anything he had ever known that quickly dispatched its prey. He was so glad to see something so beautiful, so stunning and powerful before the light faded, as the world began to turn dark the stag changed, morphed into Hannibal, Will wanted to tell him everything but didn’t have the strength left and even if he did, he was certain it was all in his head anyway, a show of courtesy thanks to his dying brain cells. Before the world went black he saw Hannibal bring his lips back to reveal teeth similar to the stag, followed by a sharp, burning pain in his shoulder.
With the burn Will’s pain eased, but was replaced with a bone deep ache, his entire body ached, and felt odd...not wrong per se, however it felt like something else. He felt a push in his mind, desperation, gratitude, a small amount of remorse, but nowhere near the relief and joy felt by someone who was so close but far away. Will wanted to follow them, they were warm, and they smelled like they would be his favorite thing in the world. He opened his eyes to a bright, clear world, his eyes no longer needing his glasses, lifting his head he felt a heavy weight on it, he opened his mouth to ask what happened only to have a goaning roar come out instead. Blinking and trying to stand only to fall he looked down to find four legs instead of two, feathers and fur covering a thick, black body.
Breathe, my Will, you are alright, I am here.
A voice inside his skull whispered through his fear, soothing him somehow right away, though not taking his disorientation, his unease, and the feeling of vulnerability.
Your name is Will Graham. It is 3:27 in the morning, you are in London, England. You are alive, you are safe.
Will turned his head, the voice gave no indication of where it was coming from or who it belonged to, he simply understood to look. He saw the nightmare stag, its head down so as to appear non-threatening, still covered in blood from his assailants. He understood now, he knew the stag.
You are a now a Ravenstag. As am I. Before you I was the last of my kind, you feel it too in your mind and heart. I can see you always have.
Calm fell over Will, as did gratitude, warmth, adoration, and love. He had no idea which emotions, which swirls of both belonged to who. Each sides thoughts and fears, joys and sorrows spread across a bond stronger than death, and brighter than life.
And I am now your mate. Will felt himself answer, knowing Hannibal would hear.
Joy and warmth spread over the bond as Hannibal knelt down on his forelegs and pressed his muzzle into Will’s, the conversation was not over, a long discussion was due. But for now WIll was happy to be alive, with Hannibal knowing how he felt and rather than be scared off by the intensity of his feeling despite the short amount of time shared between them return those feelings just as intensely. They laid there a moment or two before Will felt the need to stand, Hannibal helped him up, gently nudging him as a mother would her fawn, as he stood he could nearly laugh at how ridiculous he felt, smaller than Hannibal but still easily twice the size of the largest common deer he’d ever seen stumble around like a newborn.
Soon he could walk fine, then canter, then he took off at a run, wondering how fast he could go, feeling Hannibal by his side, running with him, “watching” him over the bond, both happier than they had ever been in their lives. Reaching the end of the park too soon Will even gave several joyous jumps, nearly prancing around Hannibal, to the delight of both, they felt young, powerful, timeless and so, so happy. They cantered and danced around each other, running in circles, Will pressed his body into the large feathered barrel of the stag beside him and pushed as much heart wrenching happiness as he could into it, which was more than returned.
As much as they both would like to simply forget the world and trample off, they both had to face reality, as they walked back, side by side together they easily found the bodies of Will’s would be killers. At the sight of them he felt suddenly ravenous, the toll of transformation finally taking hold of him, he almost felt guilt or shame, but was held off by his new mate.
It’s only cannibalism if we’re the same species, my love.
Fitting that they meant who sought to be his end would become fuel for his beginning, and still high off the love, joy, and support coming from his mate and the new body he’d been given...Will knelt down, opening his mouth filled with razor sharp teeth of his own and stripped away the flesh from its bones. The most delicious taste in the world filled his mouth, and one delicate bite became a vicious feast for the both of them, leaving tattered clothes and splinters of bone behind as the only evidence the men had existed in the first place. The blood licked clean from one another, Will was disappointed to return to his other skin, already knowing how, just as a snake is born knowing how to strike.
Neither man spoke as they shifted back, Will silently casting a charm to repair his shredded clothes before walking back to the hotel, and into the room. Both men stripped, unashamed of themselves or each other as they fell into an exhausted sleep, holding each other close for what little time they could before Jack inevitably came calling. Neither man dreamed, their unconscious minds twined around the other, basking in the peace that had evaded the both of them their entire lives.
“You’re him. The Copycat, The Ripper, and so much more, aren’t you?”
“And good morning to you as well.”
Will let out a puff of air as a laugh while Hannibal chuckled.
“You are not bothered by that. By any of it.”
“Surprisingly no, I’m not. Maybe if it were someone else. But…”
“I can feel you, my dearest. I understand. You did what you felt was right, you felt guilty that you never hunted the killers for the so called right reasons, you are good at it. You save people, but you don’t feel the self righteous pulse of joy as your colleagues, you do it because doing bad things to bad people feels good.” Hannibal explained camly, with no judgment in his voice, only warmth, support, and acceptance.
Will could almost cry, tucking his head under Hannibal’s chin, relaxing into him as he had never relaxed in his life.
“I don’t want to work for Jack.”
“It would be rude to quit in the middle of an investigation. Perhaps when this is all over you can tell him it’s over.”
“Yeah...that sounds wonderful. I almost feel like I should feel guilty, but I just feel better.” Will smiled as Hannibal held him closer, squeezing him tight for a moment before they both got up to get dressed for their day, much as they wanted to laze about together.
“You have nothing to feel guilty about, Will, you are moving forward in your life.” Hannibal still noted the way his Will seemed to avoid the various luxuries of the room. “You deserve nice things Will...always.” Walking forward to embrace Will from behind, stroking a hand over the curls he longed comb through and groom. Will said nothing, and he didn’t need to, though their bond was not entirely telepathic, neither could inadvertently reveal information to the other that they didn’t want revealed, it came through clear as day. Hannibal got to see where his mate had gone yesterday, as though it were his own memories, he held Will tighter as he saw the life, resentment, and mistrust of wealth. “Your father has long been avenged, and just as with being a profiler, you cannot save everybody. As long as I breathe, Will, you shall want for nothing, you are my mate, I will give you everything, everything. I understand your trepidation, I have known pain, hardship, hunger and poverty. As long as I breathe, Will...”
Will turned around and embraced Hannibal tight, almost laughing, that this was his issue, and not the murder and eating of humans. He breathed in deeply, feeling the refined hands stroke up and down his back, his own pulling Hannibal down for a kiss, understanding and love pulsing through every heartbeat shared between them.
Until Jack came bursting through the hotel room door.
They all sat in awkward silence around a small table in the breakfast area. Naturally Jack was the first to speak up.
“I don’t want to even begin to think why you had your tongue in your psychiatrists throat-”
“Not my psychiatrist.”
“I don’t even want to think as to why you thought it was a good idea to have your tongue in your patients throat.”
“Will is not my patient.”
“I SAID I DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW.”
While Jack wasn’t yelling at them his tone conveyed that he very much wished he was. Hannibal would almost be upset if he weren’t so amused, he could feel Will telling his to “wipe the shit eating grin off his face”, which only prompted him to wear it wider.
“Aside from all the ethical, and legal concerns the sheer unprofessionalism of you two using this investigation as an excuse to hole up in a hotel room the Bureau can’t afford, turn off your cell phones and hook up is something I have yet to think of a bad enough thing to say for.”
“Those concerns do not exist, Agent Crawford, I assure you, While I was the one to evaluate WIll initially our relationship beyond that was not one of a patient and doctor but rather one of friendship, and yes, now lovers. I paid for the hotel room, we forgot to charge our cellular phones, and did not turn them off to avoid you, and Will and I did not partake in sexual relations last night.”
Will had a full body blush and was choking back open blatant laughter and Jack looked like he was about to burst every last blood vessel in his head. Instead he took a deep breath.
“I do not have the time or patience to deal with this right now, we need to head over to the garden and you need to tell me what you see, Will. Is it a fledgling garden or something else?”
“I can tell by the pictures its much older and not as meticulously maintained, which I told you at the beginning of all this.” Will sniped.
“Don’t get smart with me, Will, you’re on thin fucking ice as it is.” Jack catted back.
“Agent. Crawford.” Hannibal’s voice, quiet though it was boomed over theirs, quieting them both as well as several other patrons in the direct vicinity, everyone felt the danger behind his teeth. “I am afraid that I cannot allow you to behave so abominably to Will as you are right now. You have treated him quite poorly in the past and it is only at his insistence that I am as patient with you as I have been. I will have to ask you to adjust your tone, words, and behavior in the future.”
They sat in silence for a moment, Jack looking shocked and Will looking enamored, ignoring Jack as he gave them the location and told them to be there as he got up and left. Will and Hannibal both decided that Jack could wait until after they had their breakfast. After all, they would only be rehashing what Will had told him back in the states, at that very table and several times on the plane before the stewardess insisted Will turn of his phone. He took Hannibal’s hand and smiled.
“I almost quit right there. He wasn’t any different than usual. I don’t know why I put up with it for so long.”
“You have various insecurities and low self esteem, you have a habit of viewing yourself as disposable, or that as long as you are taking the brunt of Jack’s abuse then it saves someone else. You justify these thoughts because you have such high empathy and you can feel the pain around you when Jack lashes out, Jack is a decent man, he does good work, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is a bully. And you didn’t push back against him because you thought you were saving others from the brunt of his wrath. You would not tolerate Jack treating someone you cared about in the way he treats you, I care about you, and so I will not tolerate him treating you the way he is treating you.”
Will held his hand tighter, unable to say anything and so simply pressed a kiss to Hannibal’s knuckles. No longer uncomfortable with being affectionate in public, Hannibal noted, he knew that Will was starting to see himself for what he was, elevated already into knowing that the thoughts in judgments of those around him were paltry and nothing worth his attention. He was honored that Will saw him as worth his attention, and that now he had even more of it. They both got up to start the drive to the crime scene, only a forty minute drive away but with London traffic it was nearly a four hour trip. Hannibal called the hotel, and asked them to hold their room for the night, and for the following night.
“I think it would be wise to find a hotel near here for the night after we are done here, then drive back tomorrow. Perhaps we can take Jack’s advice after all and take a day to simply vacation?” Hannibal suggested. Will smiled and agreed before broaching the subject.”
“You changed me.” He said simply.
“Yes. Do you resent me for it?”
“Somehow, no, not even a little bit. I feel better, I feel happier. I have you, and I wanted you since we met, and I don’t have to fear any of my thoughts or feelings with you. I can feel yours, and I know nothing I ever could come up with would scare you or make you hate me or be afraid of me. And that goes both ways. I feel like the cornerstone of every negative feeling in my life is gone.”
At a brief loss for words Hannibal simply reached across the vehicle and stroked WIll’s cheek, who in turn leaned his head back into Hannibal’s palm.
“You called us Ravenstag. As soon as I could I found as many books on as many magical creatures as I could. My father didn’t have magic, you know I never knew my mother.”
“The Ravenstag are an ancient line of wizard-creatures, not unlike animagi, but generally, unless turned with the bite of a Mate, they are born, not made. There are other ways to change, such as being, for lack of a better term, adopted by a herd or alpha pair of Ravenstag. For a very long time, I was the very last. My father told me when I was a boy to expect the day I would scent my Mate and be able to have a herd of my own, after my family passed I believed that he was simply telling me tales so that I could be put to sleep as a child. Until I scented you I thought the Ravenstag would die with me.”
“Now I have you Will,” He smiled at his companion before continuing. “We will age until we are in the best physical condition that we would naturally grow into before declining, and then we will stop. We are not immortal, we can still get hurt and die, but not without great difficulty, we can absorb the Killing Curse, in ancient times when we were well known it was often thought that we would ferry souls to the Land of the Dead.”
“Are you sure that wasn’t a comment on your eating habits, dear?” Will asked with a smirk.
“Puns are my territory, dear William.” Hannibal replied with a playful smirk.
Their banter was interrupted as they arrived at the crime scene, which was ancient compared to the one they could in the states, overgrown with foliage, a spattering of mushrooms, but mostly common garden flowers. Definitely a budding killers experiment. Will said as much to everyone there, which they all knew, Jack insisted that they needed to look for any other gardens. How they planned to do that was beyond Will and also he didn’t care, he had a new connection with Hannibal to explore. Done with his job he and Hannibal went back to the car, Will closed his eyes for a moment while Hannibal booked them a room, which Will learned upon arrival was actually a very small house that the owner used as a vacation rental in the summer. They went inside and Will decided to lay down for a bit, the lack of sleep not only from last night but from most of his life weighing on him heavily.
“I will return in a few hours, I’m afraid the pantry is not as well stocked as I prefer.”
Will smiled and yawned, before wishing him well. Already half asleep.
Walking into the small patch of woods, more common in this suburban area than in London he stretched for a moment before trotting off into the direction of one of the more populated areas, observing from a distance to find suitable prey. Normally he would be more discerning, but since he would only be here another day, all he had to do was keep it simple and undecorated, a different calling card for the victims. He sensed a presence from above, a snowy owl, pure white, even at this time of year, and so far from its normal hunting grounds, curious, it had no fear of him, instead it floated down to briefly land on the tines of his antlers only to fly again and land on a low branch ahead of him and looking back.
Delighted and intrigued Hannibal followed, farther than he would have gone really. The owl led him to a delicately forested backyard of a painfully dull and characterless neighborhood, there he saw one house however, that was different from the rest. It reeked of fear, blood, too delicate for a human to scent, the garden, obviously once meticulously maintained was now somewhat overgrown, and uncared for. He could hear two parents wish a young boy well as he was about to embark on some sort of summer camp adventure.
Hannibal folded his legs under himself and waited for darkness to fall. The scent of a child’s pain and fear did not wane with the departure of the young boy, but he would come home to find those that hurt him long dead. No parents that would harm a child in such a way deserved to live, they did not deserve to be displayed in the manner of his usual kills, and as such would not raise suspicion.
As soon as it was dark enough for him to blend in with his surroundings efficiently he walked out of the woods and leaped over the fence into the yard of the targets house, under the eaves he shifted back into a man, silently opening the backdoor, walking in only to have the scent of pain, rage, pain, sorrow and blood nearly suffocate him. Following it to a cupboard under the stairs, locked tight, with a chain, and a bolt, both newly purchased, Hannibal breathed the spell to release the locks, opening the door to a boy. Or what was left of one. His magic, just as his life was fading, all that was keeping him barely breathing, reaching in his pocket, always with him, some of his antler velvet, putting into the boys mouth, spelling some water in and forcing his throat to swallow.
The velvet would not heal his wounds, but it would keep him alive long enough for Hannibal to do what he needed to do. He stalked up the stairs, every bit the cruel monster the human world thought he was, noting pictures, possessions, to give notice that another boy lived there aside from the overfed spoiled spawn that had been sent off to summer camp. He found the couple sleeping in their beds, killing them both swiftly, and with nowhere near as much agony and humiliation as they deserved, taking the man’s heart and liver, the woman’s heart and womb. Preserving both and sending them to the fridge of his current abode with Will, he returned to the boy.
Levitating him gently he summoned his medical bag from one of his bottomless pockets, and got to work. He suffered from malnutrition, sepsis, high fever, and filth that Hannibal could only describe as the horror show his father had told him regarding the middle ages. Casting a cleansing charm over the boy to rid as much of the filth he could at the moment, easily spotting several bones broken he cast a spell of painless sleep over the child, and set them, repairing them as best as he could. Healing punctured lungs, cuts, bruised internal organs, he didn’t know what else, all he knew was that he was safe to transport, just barely.
Will turned his head towards the sound of someone apparating into his temporary abode. He saw Hannibal…and a kid.
“Help me Will, you brew potions, he needs Skele-Gro, Sanguincendo, and Essence of Vivere!”
Will ran to the kitchenette and pulled three of the muggle pots down, transfiguring ingredients from the kitchen into ingredients for the potions while Hannibal worked to save the child’s life, getting a brief glimpse into what he was like in his days as a surgeon. The Sanguincendo was ready first, followed by the Essence of Vivere, the Skele-Gro how would take five hours to be complete.
“Hannibal?” Will asked, the question obvious.
“He will live, Will, I found him in deplorable conditions...I could not leave him.”
“I understand, I can feel it. I’m assuming whoever mistreated him is now in our fridge?”
“Yes.” Hannibal said while he nodded. A question of his own on the tip of his tongue.
Will sat down on the bed beside the child, who was now, thankfully, breathing steadily. Letting a breath out before speaking. “We can’t put him into foster care, Hannibal, we just can’t.”
Will looked up at him, not able to feel Hannibal’s desire for the child over the bond, he wanted Will to have this choice be his own, but that he wanted this child was evident. And if he was being honest with himself, he wanted this too. Stroking a hand over the child’s hair, revealing a scar, that could not have been put there by those wretched people.
“A horcrux, Hannibal?” Will asked with a laugh. “Never thought we’d be adopting so soon, I do have to say that.” He was wrapped in the tightest hug he’d ever been given, the doctors strong arms around him tight. Will kissed him chastely. “You go fake papers and memories at some orphanage, I’ll look online for somewhere we can raise him right.”
Hannibal nearly wept with joy giving one last kiss to his beloved before he went to do just that, opening the door, looking up to see the owl, somehow having found them. Pride swelled in him, of course his fawn already had his own Familiar looking after him, bowing in thanks to the owl, he shifted, moving as fast as he could to an orphanage they’d passed on their way into the area. In a small town such as this all he had to do was peer into the minds of a few before finding the boy’s name. It was an easy task, altering memories, falsifying documents, as far as anyone here was concerned, Harry Potter, son of James and Lily Potter(deceased)had been dropped off at St. Margarets Group Home when he was a baby by his aunt and uncle. Adopted the day before by Hannibal Lecter, and William Graham.
SPOILERS For size reference, this is what I was picturing for Will and Hannibal in their forms antlers and all.
Chapter 5: Birds Fly Over the Rainbow, Why then, Oh Why Can't I?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Hannibal returned to the house to find Harry still sleeping on the bed, Will sitting on the floor with his back to the bed, smiling at his return, tired, laptop open. He stood up and welcomed Hannibal into a warm embrace.
“Did you take care of everything?”
“He’s ours, as far as anybody knows he never lived there.”
He felt Will let a breath out into his neck, and plant a gentle kiss there. Feeling his smile and sensing his excitement he couldn’t help but wonder what his Will has discovered.
“You obviously have money, Hannibal, it feels tacky to ask, but how rich are you?”
“Are we, my love, what is mine is yours, it isn’t tacky at all, we are mates, you have every right to know our living situation.” Hannibal held Will tight for a moment before releasing him, “You shall want for nothing Will, food, luxury, love, homes. I was born into a line of nobility, I actually hold the title of Count in Lithuania, where I was raised. As we live extremely long lives my father and mother both procured a great deal of wealth before having a family. When I lost them, as a young boy, I thought I had nothing. I grew up in an orphanage until my Uncle Robertus discovered I was still alive and took me in when I was sixteen, until he passed.” He paused to give Will a brief kiss to his temple. “I have known hunger, and hardship, I have the means to ensure that neither you, nor I, nor our brand new son ever experience it.”
Will smiled and laughed nervously, but embraced Hannibal tightly.
“We have a son! ” Will had never sounded so happy.
“Yes, my love,” Hannibal returned the joy. “He has been hurt, he will wake in a few days when his wounds have finished healing.”
Will had been nervous at first, showing Hannibal the place he wanted for all of them. He wanted something for both of them, something grand and classy for Hannibal, yet rural, near a river or lake for him. Lots of space for their new son, Harry, and all their dogs. Somewhere far away from Jack and the FBI...and that had led him to Ireland. Old world charm, combined with some excellent woodland areas where Harry and the dogs could run, jump, play and heal, he had gotten lost staring at the grounds of the vast land, imagining his son growing there. Maybe more, Will hadn’t ever seen himself with children, not willing to put himself in the position of parent when he thought he would live and die alone, but now, he had Hannibal, and his heart tingled with want of more children, someday, after Harry was comfortable and older.
“It looks so wonderful, my Will.” Hannibal said, peering over his shoulder, startling him slightly. Before Will could even berate himself for choosing such an expensive place, Hannibal was already saying. “I purchased it on my phone while you were daydreaming of our future, Fort Dromore is ours.” Will just laughed, embarrassed but giddy. “I have arranged for things from both our homes delivered, including your dogs, my dear Will. I believed we should buy Harry’s things when he woke, aside from some clothing for him to wear when he wakes.”
“This is so wonderful, Hannibal…” Will trailed off, happy but curious. “You said that by adopting we could turn him to a Raven stag like us?”
“Somewhat yes, Will, but it is not as simple as us adopting him, family is more than blood, and more than papers calling us his guardians. He must adopt us as well, see us as his family in return.”
Will nodded, knowing it would be hard to win the boys trust, and even harder to earn his love, but willing to take the challenge. All that was left was to tell Jack he was quitting, not wanting to see the man and hardly owing him any courtesy, Will gave him the phone call, Hannibal holding his hand.
“What did you find, Will?” Jack answered, less of a question, more of a demand, still unable to see himself being wrong.
“I told you what I found at the crime scene Jack, that isn’t what I’m calling about.” Will had wondered if he would regret this, and now he was certain he wouldn’t.
“Then what are you calling for?”
“I quit, Jack.”
“Excuse me?” Jack asked incredulously before continuing. “Are you telling me you want to go back to your classroom and let people die because you’re a little stressed? Can you have their deaths on your hands for that?” And now Will was furious, and so was Hannibal.
“I am not going back to my classroom Jack. I quit. All of it. Those people wouldn’t die if you or anyone you hired could do their jobs and catch their killers without me. People die every single day, Jack, and those deaths are in the hands of those that killed them, not me. Goodbye Jack, see you never.” Will abruptly hung up and snapped his phone in half.
Hannibal checked back into their large London hotel room, giving orders to the desk clerk to not let in Jack Crawford under any circumstances nor deliver anything he sent to the room and instead to dispose of it. As he walked into the room Will was waiting there for him with Harry on the bed, the Skele-Gro had been administered and was taking good effect, he would wake soon and Hannibal would rather that he woke in his new home rather than have the stress of temporary surroundings in addition to new people. Especially with the new that his only living relatives with the exception of his cousin were now dead. Will clearly had the same thoughts.
“We’re running out of time, Hannibal, we need to pack up our shit, his shit, and get it all thrown into our home, we can’t just apparate him there and have a bunch of stuff in trash bags tell him guess what here’s your new life. We need to get beds, furniture, we can’t even get the bed until he wakes up because we don’t know what kind of bed he wants, we need to get the dogs taken care of, we need to get their passports and their shots for travelling. I need to go and board up my house so squatters don’t fuck everything up, we need to stock the new place with food-”
“Will! Calm down, I have already arranged for all of those things to be handled. Our things our packed, Harry has no things, and what things I have purchased for him are already at our new home. I have had everything taken care of an unpacked, he has his whole room filled with clothing, games, books, puzzles. Your dogs are waiting for us there, my home is rented out, and your home is boarded up, and there is food at our new home, I have handled everything.”
Will took a deep breath, looking over to Harry, nervous, afraid. It made Hannibal wonder how Will would react when nesting when pregnant with new children someday, and as tired as the thought made him, it also brought contentment. Hannibal hoped one day to see his mate swollen with young, but it would have to wait until Harry was older, and more comfortable.
“Will?” Hannibal asked, getting his attention, “Everything will be alright, Harry will wake within the next day or two, and we are apparating this evening to our new home, where we will have all of your dogs, I will make us a celebratory dinner, which we will eat in Harry’s room. We will be watching over him until he wakes, I promise you he will not wake alone.”
He nodded and breathed deeply, pushing his head into Hannibal’s shoulder. “Alright… alright I’m ready. Let’s take him home, give him a sponge bath, put him in some comfortable pajamas, I’ll brew up some Reprehendo to check for allergies. We’ll cook up some bone broth to build up his strength, then I want to check out the rest of the land, since the place is in Kerry I think we should get some cattle, at least.”
“Kerry is famous for its dairy, and our son’s going to need plenty of dairy, his bones are going to need the vitamin D, and he’s a growing boy, he needs food, cattle will help with that. We should get some chickens, maybe some pigs, I think there’s already some ducks that live on the lake.”
“Will! Calm yourself, we do not need to buy an entire farm to provide for our son. There are dozens of local farms to buy our groceries from, there is plenty of game to hunt, and fish in the lake, Harry will be well fed and provided for, everything is fine, we are fine, Harry is fine, the dogs are, the house is fine. You are nesting, and once we get established in our new home you’ll be able to calm down, understand?”
He in fact did not calm down, and instead he tried to pick up their child in his arms while also carrying all their bags to try and apparate to the house. Hannibal took the bags off his hands, he worried that if he tried to remove Harry from his mate that Will would shift and try to gore him. He hoped that once Harry woke and showed them he was alright that Will would calm down.
And if not Hannibal would have to crush up some sertraline to Will’s coffee and tell him that he had made decaf.
( Age Nine )
Harry woke, slowly. Slowly coming into consciousness, the first thing he noticed was that there was no pain. Had he died? It wouldn’t be surprising, he was warm, and on something soft, so soft... he was wearing clothes that seemed to fit him, and they were comfortable, not too hot, not freezing. That had never happened before, had he died? Was he in the hospital? He opened his eyes, and couldn’t see, he tried feeling around for his glasses but there was something holding his hand.
He heard something shift on both sides of him, it was dark, but he could see that he was in a bed, in a room he’d never seen. There were two unfamiliar figures on either side of him, one of which was holding his hand, both had woken at the sound of his movements. Fear struck through him for a moment as the two figures woke.
“Easy, it’s alright, Harry, you’re safe, I promise,” Said the one holding his hand.
“Everything is alright now,” Said the other.
“How do you know my name? Where am I?” Where’s Hedwig? Harry thought in a panic, breathing heavily, shaking.
“As we said Harry, everything is alright now.” Said the one not holding his hand, who had stood up slowly, seeming to want to show that he meant no harm. He walked to the window, opening it, and in flew the bright white owl that had kept him alive for so long. Relief flooded him as she landed on his knee, cooing and preening him. Harry nearly wept with joy as he wrapped her into a gentle hug. “She found me when I was...taking a stroll in the woods near your area.” The man continued, he sounded very important, he had a distinct and high class way of speaking, even though he didn’t sound English, in fact neither of them did.
“Here, drink, you need your strength.” Said the one who had been holding his hand. “Some warm chicken broth, it’ll hydrate you and give you some nutrition.” Said the man. Harry drank gratefully, it was such a wonderfully tasting drink, better than anything he had ever had, as he drank the man closest to him continued speaking. “My name is Will Graham, and this is Hannibal Lecter, my husband. Hedwig led Hannibal to you, he...found out what your aunt and uncle had done to you. So, he took you to me, and we patched you up, and decided to take you in. We wanted to make sure it was okay with you, but we couldn’t leave you with them, not for another second.” The man turned to a table beside him, and handed him something, new glasses, Harry put them on and could finally see clearly. Hedwig’s beautiful black spots on her white coat, the man beside him, Will, had stubble his uncle wouldn’t have approved of, but had earnest eyes, that seemed to reach out to him and assure him. The other man wore a suit and class in a way that made the Dursleys look nothing short of common, sophistication came off him in waves, as did concern, and care. Harry drank more of the broth, letting the steam fog his glasses...it was a lot to take in. “So...you found me, and..adopted me?” He asked, carefully, the Dursleys had not like questions, and he did not want to make a worse first impression than he had.
“Yes, we did, Harry.” Came the response from both of them. Harry nodded, staying quiet, not knowing what to say. The man by the window, Hannibal came closer and sat on the side of the bed close to him. There is more, Harry,” He began. “Your aunt and uncle are dead.” He said simply, no inflection in his voice, no instructions in his tone for how Harry should react and so he did not. “When I found what they had done to you...I went to their room and killed them in their sleep.”
“Hannibal, gently…” Will cut in. Though Harry was not upset, far from it, he could almost cry in relief, he didn’t know whether to laugh or anything else. He knew he should have been upset, but he couldn’t bring himself to be. Will spoke again. “You have no obligations to any feelings, positive or negative to them, Harry,” He froze, how had the man known what he was thinking, he was supposed to make a good impression. They would throw him away now, no one would want him anyways, they had saved him and he had shown them what a monster he was already… “Harry! You’re alright, don’t panic, we will not hurt you, and you are not in trouble. We promise, there is nothing you could do that would make us not want you.”
“Will is right, Harry. We took you from the Dursleys, and brought you here to recuperate. I punished them for what they have done,” Hannibal told him. “I know this is all quite a lot to take in, and after how you have been treated it will take a very long time for us to earn your trust. But all we want in the world is to make a home here, with you, if you will let us.”
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing, he did not believe that they would care for him, just like that. Things like that just didn’t happen, especially not to Harry, willing to ride this out until they understood that he brought out the worst in people and got rid of his Harry forced his breath steady and nodded. Both men gave a sigh of relief before smiling.
“Why don’t you finish your broth, and go back to sleep? This is your room, and you are welcome to explore it, and tomorrow when it is light out, we can explore the rest of the house, and the ground, if you like?” Harry nodded again and drank his soup down quickly before Hannibal took the empty cup, both placing a warm hand that bespoke nothing but affection to him that he couldn’t bring himself to believe on each shoulder before wishing him good night.
Harry laid down in his bed, Hedwig roosted on her own perch beside his bed, watching over him, making him feel safe and loved. As he watched her, waiting for the footsteps to retreat into a room down the hall before he let go his tears. He was so lucky, so happy and so grateful, Hedwig had risked everything to save him from that place by guiding them to where he was dying and Harry had nearly destroyed it with his foolish emotional outbursts. How is that for gratitude? Harry thought bitterly, looking up at the only creature that had ever given him love he could trust he made a silent vow that no matter what, he would be perfect. Not a toe out of line for Will and Hannibal. They took him in, gave him a room and clothes and food, and he would never ask for more. He would cook and clean and pull his weight and make damned sure that they would not regret this. He would never show them the dark, ugliness, the strangeness he had.
Harry went to sleep, vowing that Hedwig had not risked herself to keep him alive all these years, and that all she sacrificed would not go to waste.
Harry woke up to the sun shining through his windows, still open, Hedwig was gone, probably hunting. He put on his glasses and cursed himself, he should have been up by now cooking breakfast for his new caregivers. He looked around his new room, larger than the Dursleys living room, trying to find where he had clothes, it wouldn’t do to walk around in his pajamas all day. He finally found a closet, it had pants and shirts, all plain and simple but in various colors. He decided on a light green button up with short sleeves, and some black shorts, easy to move in, easy to clean things. He tried combing his hair but, it was as stubborn as it had been when he was at the Dursleys, he sighed and found some shoes that looked comfortable, who in the world would need so many shoes?
As he walked out of his room he found himself facing what looked like a miniature sitting room at the top of a large prestigious staircase. No indication as to where the kitchen was, aside from the smell of some sort of food. Harry cursed himself again, he was already failing! He looked around and found two sets of stairs, both leading down but in different directions, he chose to follow his nose down the set of stairs closest to him, down another hallway and to an open door that showed Hannibal over a pot of the stove, and Will, at the table, reading a newspaper, and drinking some coffee. It looked like all the commercials of perfect couples Harry had seen when he sneaked a peek at the television while cleaning.
“Good Morning, Harry!” Will said, cheerfully, in that accent he couldn’t place, putting down the newspaper that just looked a bit... off. “How did you sleep?”
“Really well, thank you so much, I’m sorry I slept so long and didn’t make breakfast.” Harry said sheepishly, surprised when Will laughed.
“You might have to wrestle Hannibal for that, cooking is one of his favorite things to do.” He said good naturedly, though Will could see something else in his eyes for just a moment.
“He is correct, Harry, cooking is something I enjoy quite a bit, and I am very good at it. Though an extra pair of hands that don’t have motor oil on them is always wonderful.” Hannibal said, both seemingly in very good moods, to which Harry was grateful. “Sit down, Harry, your breakfast is nearly done, and I’m sure you have plenty of questions for us.” Harry nodded sitting down beside Will who had put his newspaper down.
“Here you are, Harry,” Hannibal said as he set down a bowl of oatmeal in front of him, “I’m sorry its not something more special for your first breakfast with us, but you need to gradually work your way up to solid foods once more after going so long with poor nutrition.”
“No! Thank you, this is wonderful, it smells better than anything I’ve ever had.” Hannibal beamed with pride and gave him a gentle pat on the head. Harry ate a few bites before nervously speaking. “You said, I could ask some questions?” Just opening his mouth made him sweat. Both men looked at him, calmly despite his fear and told him to ask as many questions as he wanted.
“You never told me how you knew my name…”
“Ah, my apologies, dear Harry. Everyone in our world knows your name.”
“Your world?” Harry asked, to which Hannibal gave him a mischievous grin before raising his hand and giving it a flourish. His jaw dropped as Will’s newspaper flew over all their heads and folded itself into and origami swan right before his eyes. He sat in stunned silence until Will spoke.
“Harry, have you ever done something, something that you couldn’t explain, maybe when you were angry or scared?” Will asked. He thought of the worst of the beatings he usually got from his aunt and uncle and nodded.
“I did too, and so did Hannibal, just like us, your birth parents, and billions of others.” Will explained. “You’re a wizard, Harry. You are well known in our world because of your birth parents service in the war. That scar on your head is the one that marks the very last wizard to fall in it, the man who started it. He cast a curse on you that was meant to end your life, but instead of killing you it rebounded on him.”
“And when that happened, the war ended…” Hannibal cut in, pressing a gentle finger to his head. “When he failed to kill you, he accidentally implanted a small shard of what was left of his soul in you, making you a horcrux. A vessel for a fractured piece of soul one creates in an attempt to achieve immortality. It isn’t large enough to influence you or those around you in any way, and one day if you like, we can remove it, or leave it. It will always be your choice.”
Harry took a deep breath, No wonder they hated me, I was a monster that got dropped on their doorstep , he thought.
“How, how are there wizards when other people aren’t wizards?” He asked, Hannibal answering him.
“There are subtle differences in our genetics and biology that give us our differences. For example, both male and female wizards can become pregnant and give birth, there are capable at shapeshifting, there are others who are capable of hearing the thoughts of others, those who can shift into an animal form, as well as creature-wizards.” That got Harry’s attention.
“Creature wizards?” He asked, curious, and getting a smile in return.
“Eat your breakfast, Harry, and we can tell you much more.” Will said, eating his own. Harry forgot himself for a moment and ate quickly, very excited to learn more, he’d never been able to ask so many questions before, and have them answered! It was wonderful, and there was so much more to learn, so much to see and talk about. He wolfed down his oatmeal, the best he’d ever had, and helped Hannibal and Will clean up before heading out to the back garden.
“Are you ready, Harry?” Hannibal asked, both having a sharp glint in their eyes. He nodded yes, and watched in awe as they somehow changed. Right before his eyes. Where only a moment before the two men who had saved him and took him in stood two massive black stags. Harry stood frozen to the spot in awe before the one on his right, Hannibal walked forward and pressed his nose to Harry’s stomach. He felt a push in his mind and a shift in his insides.
There we are, Harry. Came Hannibal’s voice, now inside his head.
You can hear both of us now, yeah? Came Will’s voice.
“What happened? How?” Was all Harry could say for himself.
We’ve imprinted on you. Hannibal’s voice again We can project our thoughts to you, and you can do the same to us. We will be able to sense your emotional state, and track you wherever you are. No matter where you go, we will always be able to sense you.
We will always be there for you, Harry. No matter what. Harry heard them both finish. He looked up to see Hedwig, who flew gracefully down and landed on Will’s proud rack of antlers, stunned into silence from both his mind and voice, he walked forward with his hand outstretched to give a touch to Hannibal’s muzzle. It was covered in feathers, he looked up to see Will walking towards him as well, giving his unruly hair an affectionate lick, making Harry laugh before he heard his voice, so unlike Hannibal’s and yet just as kind.
I believe we promised you a tour of the grounds, would you like a ride as well? He asked, Harry nodded profusely, though unsure of how that would happen as he barely come up to the midriff of the massive stag before him. Grab onto my antler, and Hannibal will give you a boost. Harry obeyed, grabbing tight and pulling himself up, feeling Hannibal nudge his legs to help him up, he held on tight with his arms, not wanting to pull any feathers with his hands. Gripping Will’s barrel hard with his legs as step after step was taken, so carefully until Harry got the courage to look up and out. Will and Hannibal took gentle steps explaining to him where everything was on their land, there was a small pond in front of the massive castle that was now somehow his home...a huge lake filled with fish, and other birds Hedwig could be friends with. All surrounded by a massive forest, that Hannibal and Will explained was protected by wards, he could explore it to his heart’s content, no predator dared venture into the territory of what they were. Ravenstag , Hannibal explained it all to him as they strolled.
They came out onto a grassy hill, the sky bright and cloudless, he looked around. Harry had gone to sleep in pain, unsure if he would even wake up at all, only to wake up to all this. His breath came quick, he took off his glasses as tears fell fast and hard, hiding his face in Will’s neck, feeling Hannibal behind him laying his neck across Harry’s back.
“Th-thank y-you, so mu-much.” He shuddered out between his sobs.
You are a son to us now, Harry. Hannibal said.
We love you, and we will do everything for your safety and happiness , came Will’s voice as well.
It was all so perfect and wonderful, everything he had never dared to dream of. Harry decided, to make the most of it, to be as happy as he could, before he made a mistake like he always did and made Hannibal and Will see sense and know what he was. Until the other shoe fell he would suck every bit of happiness he could out of this situation.
Here is the home I found for them, it is a very real place in Ireland, something I thought would be perfect for them all.
Chapter 6: For One so Small, You Seem so Strong
Harry sat in a chair, as patient and still as any nine year old boy could be while getting a medical examination, he sat as still as he could while Hannibal checked his bones, pressed and prodded his internal organs to ensure they were healed nicely. He even stayed still while Hannibal shone light into both his eyes, made him read out a list of letters, and stick a metal thing with a light in his ears to check them as well. Hannibal had expected him to balk when the subject of vaccinations came up but Harry surprised him and took them like a good boy, earning a dessert of his choosing that night. A crepe Suzette, he asked Hannibal sheepishly, with a blush around his ears that reminded him so much of Will.
Hannibal and Will had both decided to have special activities with Harry that was something sacred between the two of them, instead of something done as a family. Harry and Hannibal spent hours in the kitchen together, Harry’s favorite game was when Hannibal shuffled all his meticulously organized recipe cards and let Harry pick at random, between a dessert, an appetizer, or dessert. Then based on what Harry picked out he would help Hannibal decide on what they should cook the rest of the meal with to match the mystery card. Will and Harry would travel outdoors and fish, Harry had never known there were so many different kinds of fish, and so many different ways to catch them, he never tired of watching Will in his stag form snag fish out of the water like a bear to eat as a snack while Harry contented himself with berries. Hannibal thought their son was adjusting perfectly into their little family, though both he and Will did notice that this was something of a honeymoon period for all of them, something soon would trigger Harry and he would lash out in fear and pain. Hannibal swore to himself, no matter how hard Harry pushed them away trying to take back control and reject them before they could reject him, no matter how he lashed out in pain and fear, he and Will would always be there for him.
“Why a crepe Suzette, Harry?” Hannibal asked gently, with a smile as Harry helped him make the batter and prepare the sauce. Harry shrugged and cowered a bit, as he always did when asked question, though growing slowly more used to it as he learned that he and Will weren’t going to hurt him.
“I don’t know...I saw a picture of it, and Suzette is such a pretty name so…” He said, seemingly afraid of saying the wrong thing and being met with cruelty. He and Will always ensured they responded with kindness when Harry answered shyly, trying to build his confidence.
“Suzette is a beautiful name, my mother once had a pet Komodo Dragon by the name of Suzette.” He said with a smile, before adding mischievously, “She always wondered how Suzette got to be so fat when I was a child, thinking it was the stress of having a child running around for it. I do not believe she ever figured out every time I sunk into the kitchen for a snack I also stole some food for Suzette.” Hannibal beamed when Harry laughed, cautiously at first, and then a bit more as he saw that he wouldn’t be punished for doing so. Hannibal swelled with pride as Harry sat wide eyed when Hannibal set the crepes to flambe in front of him and waited until the flames died down before tucking in, obviously enjoying it, and so glad that he had chosen this dessert as his reward. Hannibal longed to give the boy his favorite dessert every day but he had no desire to ruin his son’s health, and no desire to render the dish bland.
Later that day while out with Will by the river, Harry grew distracted. He’d yet to have a whole day to himself, and keeping up constant perfection was exhausting him, he had to maintain this, he didn’t have a choice, he couldn’t afford a mistake, he had a damn good life now and would do everything in his power to make sure he didn’t screw it up for as long as possible. Harry knew one day he would mess things up and ruin everything for them and Will and Hannibal wouldn’t want him anymore, and he was terrified of that. Doing his best to be perfect was still tiring, and he desperately needed time to breathe, but not as much as he needed to be perfect for the two men who had saved his life and then made it perfect, and he had no right or excuse to be anything less than perfect for them.
“Harry?” Will’s voice cut through the fog in his mind, snapping him to attention, you almost screwed it up! His mind screamed at him. “You’ve been looking at the woods for a while, did you want to explore them?” Will asked. Harry nodded and said yes, anything Will or Hannibal wanted to do Harry would do, no questions asked, even though they seemed to like when he asked questions Harry knew that adults didn’t actually like being bothered with them. “Alright, you can explore buddy, all you have to do is ask.” He was told kindly, “Just stay inside the wards, and away from the ravene, and be back by seven thirty to clean up for dinner, does that sound good?” Harry nodded, grateful to have some time to himself, he needed to breathe, he would worry himself sick that he had screwed things up later, as soon as he was given permission he ran into the woods, fast as he could delighted to have some time to himself.
He explored the woods, climbed trees, found a hole in the ground that he learned belonged to a porcupine when it stuck him in the calf. Harry it didn’t tear his clothes, he pulled them out roughly, not noticing how the spines tore some of his skin with them as he did, the pain not even coming close to the levels that truly made him squirm and ache. Aside from the dried blood itching every now and again he hardly noticed it and quickly forgot about it. Harry found new things to explore, spiderwebs, birds nests, mouse burrows. Now that he was being fed well Hedwig had stopped bringing him dead rodents and lizards to snack on, though he did miss them. It wasn’t that Hannibal and Will’s food didn’t taste worlds better, it truly did, but there was something about the warmth the food Hedwig had raised him on brought him that demanded he occasionally satisfy it.
Harry perched himself on the tangled roots of a tree, just above the den, within arms reach of the entrance and waited. He didn’t make noise, and he didn’t move, he watched patiently until one mouse inside felt safe enough to sniff around the entrance, not letting himself tense of or prepare, he waited until it felt safe enough to scurry out entirely. As soon as he had a clear shot, Harry grabbed the mouse by its tail quicker than a snake strike, and smacked its head against the trunk of the tree, killing it instantly, before it even had the chance to fear or try to understand what was happening. He devoured it, as fast as if he was still starving, remembering the touching kindness Hedwig had bestowed upon him with every meal she had given to him, nearly bringing tears to his eyes.
Well done, hatchling
Came a sharp, whispering voice to his left. Harry looked up in shock as a massive snake, black and green with red eyes emerged from the foliage. Fear filled him on instinct, the snake was bigger and very nearly wider than his entire body, he couldn’t move. He was trapped in its gaze.
I’ve been waiting in these woods for many years waiting for you, and now you’re finally here…
Harry’s fear turned to terror, he didn’t know why this snake knew him, or knew how and why he would be wandering around this day. His breath came quick, and he didn’t know what to do.
“Harry, move! ” A voice, Will’s, snapped Harry’s gaze from the snake. The world slowed down, he saw Hannibal, as a stag, leap over a felled tree a bit farther away, and Will in his human form, dive into him, shoving him out of the way as the huge, horrible snake struck. Hitting Will, instead of its intended target.
Harry felt his world end as he watched Will fall, movement made him turn his head to Hannibal, trampling the snake under his hooves. All he could think about was that he had just cost Will his life, these men had given him everything, and this was how he repaided them. The world turned dark, and he heard his own crashing brutal scream, feeling his whole body pop and crack as devastation overwhelmed him. Soon he couldn’t distinguish between his own screams from the ringing in his ears as darkness took over was little he could see. The last thing he saw was Will shift into a stag as Hannibal rushed over to them both.
The first thing Will comprehended after he was struck was the taste, he remembered when he was a kid and got tagged by a cottonmouth, he’d heard about people tasting the venom when they got bit, but didn’t believe it until then. He pushed himself to shift then and there, knowing as a stag he would survive the venom with no issue, he watched Hannibal stomp the snake, and looked over to Harry. Will had to make sure Harry knew he would be alright, the venom still coursing through him made it so hard to move but he had to be there, he had to be there... he couldn’t let Harry think that Will was gone.
When he had felt the fear of their son Will had dropped everything and ran as fast as he could, Harry had stayed relatively close, and when he saw Harry, hypnotized by the snake, and he smelled blood, the blood of his child . He had been so afraid, and now he was afraid all the more, he could feel his son being crushed under the weight of seeing him felled by the snake and longed to reassure him. Before he could reach him he felt a snap ...like when a headache finally broke and eased. Something changed in their bond, made it grow, and change, and deepen. Finally able to stand he limped over to Harry, Hannibal at his side as he looked down where his son had been not even a second before.
In his place, passed out from fear and panic...was tiny fawn. So small and vulnerable, impossibly small even for a baby. Hannibal and Will bedded down on either side of him, filled with joy that their son had shifted, had adopted them back...and crushed that his transformation had been pushed by panic, fear and loss. The bond between the three of them was numb, Harry’s mind having been put through too much pain to give or receive thoughts and emotions just yet. They would be here for him.
His feathers were a bright glowing white, it almost hurt to look at him directly, with black feathers sprinkled on his back. He and Hannibal licked him clean, Harry had leftover blood on him, as well as some dirt from when he had fallen. Their fawn was clean and scented by the both of them, breathing well, his large ears twitching with his long skinny legs. Will and Hannibal bathed in the adoration coming from the both of them towards their son over the bond, his tiny little nose and hooves were so dainty and shiny, they nearly looked painted on. Will felt his heart jump in excitement as Harry’s eyelids started twitching, opening and closing to reveal the same dark red eyes both his fathers shared.
For a long while Harry felt nothing, just a floating sensation, completely numb. It had happened a few times before when the Dursleys had beaten him too hard, maybe that’s what had happened, maybe he had never left. He hoped that the last few weeks hadn’t just been a dream, if he woke up back at his aunt and uncles he didn’t know what he would do. Maybe he’d try to find Hannibal and Will if they really existed, maybe he wouldn’t have the energy to face the world again without them. Maybe the world would be kind, and leave him here forever just like this, he felt love and warmth being pushed into his being, there was no pain, no sorrow. Maybe he was dying, he could go and see Will, and tell him how sorry he was for what he had done.
Harry felt something brushing him. Two somethings, as a matter of fact, they tickled him at first but soon the sensation was gone. He slowly became aware of his body, he felt two other bodies around him, keeping him warm and safe, he felt...small, and that he was somehow folded in on himself. Confused, he lifted his head up, blinking a few times before looking at his surroundings, Hannibal and Will were on either side of him, so much larger than he remembered. They were so warm, so kind, and they loved him so much , how Harry ever thought they would turn on him was unimaginable. Still confused he opened his mouth, trying to ask what on earth had happened, only to have a loud, squeaky, shriek come from his mouth, startling him into jumping up and away, an attempt at standing on his own led him to stumble onto the ground, looking down he noticed he seemed to have far too many legs. Laughter from both the stags entered his mind as well as comfort and assurance that he was safe. You have quite the set of lungs on you, little buck. Came Will’s voice in his mind, ever affectionate. Harry was still confused as to what had happened, his memory foggy still from his episode, Hannibal explained calmly, and with pride in his mate and his fawn.
A series of images gently shared between the three of them brought Harry closer to reality, the memories slowly became clearer, the snake, the words it had spoken, the surprise from his parents that he had understood what the snake had said. Will and Hannibal had run to save him, taking pain on themselves so he wouldn’t have to, had they not been Ravenstag it would have been their lives they’d given, Harry thought with a shudder. His whole body, thin and frail trembled at the thought of either of them leaving him, more comfort and assurance washed over him.
Another wonderful talent you have, my brave little fawn. Came Hannibal’s voice, Those who possess a Parseltongue are truly rare, and truly wonderful. I am only sorry you had to discover this in such a frightening way.
No, I’ve known. Harry suddenly found himself wanting to say, and somehow found himself able to know his thoughts were conveyed if not said. When my aunt made me tend her garden I would tell the snakes to hide so she didn’t hurt them when she went out to check my work.
Pride swelled in Hannibal and Will, though for different reasons, Hannibal was proud of his ability to cultivate his talents by himself to early in life, and Will was so proud of the compassion the boy had despite his own pain.
She said she knew I would be in these woods, and she had been waiting for me for a long time…
Don’t worry, little buck, we will comb over this entire forest, better yet, the snake herself is till alive…
Rest assured, my love, now that we have a translator, we will find out how she knew of us, provided Harry is willing of course.
I am, Harry nodded his little head, his big ears moving faster than his head, flapping a bit as they did. I want to know why she did this… A bit of fear at the snake, still somehow breathing, and seeming to heal right before their eyes, despite Hannibal nearly pummeling her into a paste.
It’s okay if you don’t want to, you would never be in trouble for that, it’s okay if you’re afraid. Will assured him. Harry nodded, he knew that they would keep the snake from harming him.
We will take her back to the house, and seal her in a tank, but first... Hannibal paused with a bit of amusement and turned toward Harry. First little fawn you must be able to walk with us until you get better control of your shifting.
Harry hadn’t even considered turning back into a human, he looked down at his hooves and back up at his parents in fear, a different kind this time, as they both laughed in good nature and fun. Both standing up to teach him how to take his first steps in his brand new form, this time his first steps would be viewed by those who loved him, and would show the pride such a feat deserved.
And this time no matter what happened he would always have them there to catch him when he fell.
Hannibal was the only one who bothered turning back to his human self for the trip home, riding on Will’s back as he carried the massive snake, keeping it under powerful enchantment that required his full attention, he wasn’t willing to take any chances, not with his own. Harry walked cautiously, still concentrating on every step, trying to not stumble, he wished they were closer to a field he could gallop in, and try jumping and test his limits. He felt Will assure him that that time would come very soon and before he knew it they were back at the house. Hannibal went inside to trap the snake in something it couldn’t escape while Harry waited outside with Will who had bedded down, Harry bedding down in the curve of his stomach without even thinking. Before he could worry he had made a mistake he felt a tongue combing down through his feathers, learning to walk had been hard work that had dirtied him a bit, and it felt too good for him to be embarrassed. He felt loved and cared for, and Will’s stomach was warm, he snuggled closer and stuck his cold little nose into Will’s side, and felt the older stag ruffle his feathers out, spreading warmth to his little fawn.
Hannibal returned at that moment, the snake shrunken down to fit in a sealed aquarium, he sat it down in front of them before shifting back to his stag form and cuddling up with his little herd. They sat in peace and warmth together until the snake stirred, catching Harry’s attention.
Well done little hatchling, you’ve found a way to trick the maneaters into taking you as one of their own... Came the harsh voice of the snake.
I haven’t tricked anybody, why did you hurt my family?! Harry hissed back angrily and still a bit fearful, seeing the snake move in front of him, very much alive.
I smell their prey on them hatchling, until you took on this new form you would have been on the menu, you should be thanking me. I took quite the beating for you, one that would have killed me were it not for the grace of our master… Harry stepped back from his indignation and his fear to tell Hannibal and Will what the snake had said. And to ask several questions in turn.
I serve no master, they are my family, they never would have hurt me, no matter what. Harry said confidently, only to hear back what could only be seen as a laugh from the snake.
No master, my dear little hatchling? I can sense the old wounds that scatter your body, who do you think sacrificed his own soul to cheat death, and giving us new life to do so as well through his gift? The one who gifted you that scar hidden behind those feathers on your crown…
Harry felt his parents stiffen, they had told him about Voldemort and the horcruxes, of course, they would never keep something like that from him. He felt himself shake in fear before asking the snake, You came to bring him back, by destroying me to get to the shard? His parents pride at his bravery swelled around him, giving him the life jacket he needed to face the answer to the question.
Of course not, with no body his fragments are just as good as gone with no host to hold them. Your shard holds the last of who our master was before his mission drove him to madness.
If he was mad why do you still obey him? Even now that he’s gone?
I owe him a great debt, and I love him dearly, no matter what monster he became in the past, or what monster he may become upon his return. I want him back, I want to spare him the suffering of madness, which is why I sought you out first. With you as the primary shard I can bring him back to who he was before, I will do everything for your safety, even if it brings your sorrow, as it did when I killed the maneater.
You didn’t kill him, he stopped you striking at me, you were going to kill me! Another laugh from the snake.
My hatchling if I desired your death it would be so, I saved you from the maneater lunging at you. I know I hit my target. The maneater tasted my venom, if you say he is not dead he is only not dead yet.
They. Are. Not. Maneaters. Harry was growing irritated at the snake, he understood her dilemma, but she was just being...rude… They, we, are Ravenstag, your venom does very little to us, they thought you were to harm me, and protected me. It is on their mercy that you live now, even though it is in a fish tank.
Very well, hatchling, then give them my apologies, and my congratulations on surviving me. If they are willing to stand against me in a fight for you life then they have my blessing to care for you. She said, seeming to think herself magnanimous.
I’ll pass it along. Harry hissed back only somewhat bitterly. What will you do with me?
I will watch over you and ensure your safety for my master until the time comes for him to be reborn, after that, you are on your own. I cannot serve two masters.
Alright then...since it seems we will be dealing with each other for a while… do you have a name?
Yes, little hatchling, long ago when I had legs to stand on, I was called Nagini…
Harry nodded, and passed the conversation in its entirety to Hannibal and Will, who looked over to the cage. Unsure if this, Nagini was telling the truth or not, she had nothing to lose and her venom wouldn’t work, as a Ravenstag Harry’s bones would be too strong for her to break if she were to constrict him. They had no reason to keep her in a tank. Harry gave her a list of animals she was forbidden from hunting, Will’s dogs, any animal that they brought home to eat themselves. Will and Hannibal did not trust the snake, but they trusted their son, and in a display of that trust they released Nagini, and allowed her to assume her full size again.
Well Hannibal, seems he got my habit of picking up strays. Will said with a laugh while Hannibal concealed a groan, already constructing a large habitat that would suit the snake’s biological needs. In a few moments of silent magic it was finished, and they both caught Harry thinking idly about what other kinds of snakes there were, and how interesting they happened to be. Will laughed again and this time Hannibal failed to conceal his groan.