Castle Atrexia sat on a cliff overlooking a vast expanse of swamp. There was a smell coming off of the swamp, a stench so foul and complex that Harry couldn't identify the individual parts, though if he had to hazard a guess he'd say it was six parts rotting corpse and three parts sewer. It was horrid and he hated it. The rain only seemed to make the smell worse. It certainly did nothing for his mood. Harry hated the rain. It reminded him of far too many bad things - of people dying, the smell of blood, and the inevitable certainty that he will die. Bad things always happened in the rain.
The castle was old and crumbling. If Hermione were here, she would invariably tell him exactly how old the castle was and who had lived there and what it was used for now. All of that had likely been in the mission details, which he had, as usual, not read. He'd made an effort. He'd started to read it, got through the who and what and where, and then Ginny had come by and he'd spent the next hour hiding in a closet, waiting for her to go away, and then the next three hours after that trying to get Draco to stop making closet jokes.
Draco preceded him into the castle. If the smell bothered him, he didn't let on, though Harry thought his sneer might be curled extra tight for the occasion. With Draco, it was hard to tell sometimes exactly what aspect of the world had garnered his disdain at any given moment. His robes billowed about him in a way Harry had never quite been able to manage. It reminded him far too much of Snape, which made Harry's stomach twist in uncomfortable ways.
The castle had once been well-appointed but it had gone mostly to rot since then. Harry was displeased to find that the stench from the swamp was even stronger inside, as if the smell had permeated the very stone and clung there, festering over the ages. The remnants of tapestries hung limply on the walls. Whatever scenes had been portrayed had faded into senseless drips of color, predominately in shades of grey and brown and red. It was a very Gryffindor color scheme, which made him wonder if a wizard had once lived here.
Draco paused at the edge of the inner courtyard. A curtain of rain marked the end of the hallway. Harry found it a bit strange that someone had put a courtyard in the middle of their house, but he supposed castles came with eccentricities. Hogwarts was the only other real comparison he had, and that had enough eccentricities for a hundred castles. A large stone chair sat on a raised dais in the middle of the cobblestone courtyard. He wanted a closer look but at the same time he was loathe to go back out in the rain.
"Top or bottom, Potter?"
Harry started and turned a magnificent shade of red. "P-pardon?" The closet conversation from earlier sprang back into his head. He was fairly certain Draco knew he was gay - most of the wizarding world had found out about it by now, thanks to an unfortunate incident involving Ron, an excess of Firebrandy, and a very buxom young reporter from the Daily Prophet. Still, they'd never really talked about it, aside from the semi-frequent teasing on Draco's end, and it caught him more than a little off guard for Draco to ask him about it now.
Draco gave him the look, the one that said that he was being particularly dense. "Do you want to explore the top floors," Draco pointed up, "or the bottom?"
Oh. Well, that made much more sense than Draco inquiring after Harry's sex life. They may have moved past wanting to kill each other, but they certainly weren't up to sharing a few pints at the pub. Not that Harry wouldn't mind getting a lot closer to Draco but he tried very hard not to think about that while he was working.
Harry swallowed and tried to will his blush away. As usual, it didn't listen. "Doesn't matter." He cursed the words as soon as he'd said them. He hated basements and this place had layers of them.
"I'm on top then," Draco said, and turned with a swish of his robes.
Thankfully, Draco's back was already to him, so Draco missed the multitude of colors Harry's face turned as he choked on air. Draco had to be messing with him. He had to be, but the bastard had said it with such an even tone, not even a hint of a smile on his face. Harry waited until Draco was well out of earshot before he released a low groan. Not only was he stuck in a castle that smelled of sewage, but now he wasn't going to be able to get the thought of Draco on top of him out of his head.
He'd lied when he said he didn't think about Draco. It was all he could do at work not to think about Draco and how much of a weak-kneed, eye-fluttering, pulse-racing, stomach-clenching crush he had on Draco. He wanted to get a lot closer to Draco, skin close and maybe then some. He wanted Draco on him, in him, overpowering him. That was why he avoided Ginny, because she knew and she liked to tease him about it and she didn't always check to see who was around first.
The last thing he needed right now was Ginny outing his crush to Draco.
Oddly, the stench helped. It was hard to focus on how much he wanted Draco to bone him when he was surrounded by that ever-present stench. It was worse in the cellar, and got worse the further down he went. The swamp must run under the castle. That was the only reason he could think why it would smell this bad.
The cellar opened off into a number of storage rooms, all empty save for an excess of cobwebs and a dead rat here and there. A line of barrels ran along part of the wall, corks missing from all of them. A large metal door at the far end of the cellar led down into a small room with the molded remains of a table and chair. That room led into a long hallway of cells.
It was eerily silent down here. He wished they hadn't split up, though he'd never, ever utter that wish aloud. The tip of his wand glowed unnecessarily bright, chasing out even the dimmest of shadows. He checked each cell as he passed, his heart in his throat as he opened the doors one by one, expecting the ghost or boggart or whatever they were hunting to jump out at him any moment.
The cells were blissfully empty, though that didn't abate his nerves any. At the end of the hallway was another thick metal door. This one opened onto a long stone staircase that seemed to have been carved out of the rock. There was a thin sheen of moisture clinging to the rock. He took the steps carefully, moving slowly around and around down into the depths of the castle.
A large open doorway stood at the base of the stairs, opening into a large stone room littered with stone coffins, each with a lifelike carving of the man inside the coffin replicated on the lid. Harry shuddered as he stepped into the room and sent four large balls of light to the corners of the room with a muttered spell. He hated catacombs. He really, really hated catacombs. A chill ran up his spine. It was cold down here, so cold his breath puffed in front of his face.
That was never a good sign. In horror movies, that always signaled the part where a ghost would pop out. They were never nice ghosts either, like the ones in Hogwarts. He debated calling for Draco but Draco would only make fun of him - more than he usually did - if Harry called him without finding the ghost first. He took two hesitant steps into the room and turned in a slow circle. Nothing moved. No shadows fought against the light. All the coffins were perfectly sealed. He waited a moment, ears straining to catch any sound. All he heard was his own breathing, far too loud in the eerie quiet.
He moved further into the room. Stony, dead faces stared up at him from the carved. He really, really hated that style of coffin. It made him keenly aware that he was surrounded by corpses. He felt like the statues were going to rise up and try and kill him. Weirder things had happened. His fingers tightened around his wand, his knuckles turning white as he waited for something to strike out at him. Nothing did.
Once he reached the center of the room, he turned a slow circle again. Everything was still exactly where it should be. He let the light from his wand drift up above him. Drawing a deep breath, Harry calmed himself as best he could and whipped his wand in a circle around him. "Resigno Spiritus!"
Nothing happened. He waited a moment, straining his senses but there was no response to the spell.
There wasn't anything invisible either. Harry frowned. He could tell something was off. He could feel it. His skin prickled with nerves. There was something wrong here, he knew it.
"Specialis Revelio Totalum!"
He turned again, expecting the same lack of result. Instead he turned all the way around to find a door where the stairwell once was. The door was different from the others he'd encountered so far. The top level had had wooden doors, mostly rotted away by now but still baring the faint of something grand. The lowers levels had all had the same type of solid metal door, built thick and sturdy to keep things locked away but lacking entirely in decoration. This was a combination of the two.
The door was metal, golden in color and shining brightly, like something out of a dream. It was obviously enchanted, which made him revise his earlier theory that wizards had lived here to a certainty. There was a white inlay tracing the edges of the door, swirling in at the center to form an ornate circle around a copper inlay of a woman's face. The woman's mouth was open, as if singing, and her curly, copper tresses flowed out to the sides.
There was no visible handle on the door or any obvious means how to open it. Harry moved closer, curiosity overriding caution. His fingers brushed over the woman's brow and he marveled at the feel of the inlay, barely more than a light indentation in the metal.
The ground shuddered and Harry took a quick step back. He prepared to Apparate but then the door swung open. There was another stairwell, this time leading down. It was thankfully dry, and more elegantly carved than the previous. A line of sconces burst to life on each wall, illuminating the way down.
There were few things he could think of that would warrant a magical door buried deep below the castle. A wizard's workshop was one such possibility. The family treasury was another. Who knew what wonders were hidden down there. Harry took a step forward, then hesitated with his foot on the first stair. He really should go get Draco. But, if he did, he'd have to figure out a way to make this stairway go away so he could get the other to reappear. There was no telling if he'd be able to get the door to reappear.
There was a possibility that it was nothing. There could be nothing down there. That possibility seemed more and more likely by the minute. The family would have taken any valuables with them when they abandoned the castle. He should check before bothering Draco, just in case.
He took another step into the stairwell. Draco would be fine without him. He wouldn't mind. It wasn't like it was some huge archeological find. There was probably nothing, really. It'd likely be a waste of time and Draco hated it when people wasted his time.
He took another step down the stairwell, then another. His hesitation drained the further he went, distracting him enough that he didn't bother to look back as the door sealed shut behind him and melted away into unmarked stone.
The stairs curled down and around, leading him deep underground. He was starting to worry that the stairs never ended when he reached the bottom. The swamp smell was overpowering. He plugged his nose and took a step out into a well lit cave. Water lapped against the thin shoreline at the base of the stairs. The water seemed cleaner than the swamp, though not by much. Harry thought he saw a small opening at the far end of the cave, but it was too dark and too distant to really tell.
Harry jumped and turned towards the water, his wand extended. A blue-tinted woman swam towards him. She was pretty in an ethereal way that reminded him of Fleur, and even though Harry was quite certain that he batted for the other team, he couldn't help the thin sliver of want that welled up in him. Her curly red hair streamed out behind her as she swamp, undulating with her strokes like a mass of snakes. Her eyes were the most striking of all, a deep green like the swamp. They seemed to pierce through him, capturing his attention. His wand lowered slowly.
Water ran off of her in rivulets as she stood. She was naked, bare-chested and amply endowed. He wanted to turn away but her eyes held him. The realization that something was wrong, wrong with him and wrong with her, came to him like a stray thought, an absent contemplation, distant from his thoughts. He should call for Draco or Apparate away but his mouth wouldn't move.
Her hand was cold against his skin as she pressed down on his wrist, lowering his arm. "You won't need that anymore."
His wand slipped from suddenly lax fingers. It bounced when it hit the ground and splashed as it fell into the pool. It dipped below the surface and was gone.
"Good." Her fingers traced his chin. This close he could smell the stench of the swamp coming off of her, so strong it made his eyes water. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He couldn't blink. He couldn't look away. "That's a good boy." She smiled, lips opening wide to reveal two rows of tiny, sharp teeth crammed tightly into her mouth. Harry felt afraid. Her fingers brushed over his forehead. "Sleep now," she whispered to him, and he did.
Draco grimaced and stomped through the lower levels of the castle for a third time. Harry remained hidden. Not only had he failed to locate any kind of supernatural creature haunting the castle, but he'd also lost Harry. He came to a halt in the catacomb and tapped his foot impatiently as he scanned the room. It remained dank, moldy, and entirely devoid of Harry.
If Harry had fucked off to go get coffee or something from the local village, Draco was going to murder him. Well, maybe not. Murder meant prison and Draco desperately wanted to avoid joining his father in prison. That, and murder would deny him the opportunity to ogle Harry's fine ass on a daily basis. It was a vice of his, the ogling, but he was allowed a few. Harry remained clueless which is quite how Draco liked thing for the moment. Maybe someday he'd get up the urge to actually bend Harry over his disgustingly messy desk and fuck his brains out but that day was not today. Mostly because he needed to find Harry first.
"Fuck this," he muttered and lifted his wand. "Loco Harry Potter!"
A bright blue ball of light appeared at the tip of his wand and dashed around the room, twirling momentarily in the center of the room, before speeding towards the stairs. Once the light hit the stairwell, it fizzled, bursting like a tiny firework and disappearing in a shower of sparks. Draco's frown deepened. That was not supposed to happen.
He cast the spell again. Same result.
Draco stomped over to the stairwell. He stepped into the stairwell, then back into the catacombs. There wasn't anything odd about it. He did a quick check for enchantments. Nothing. He stepped into the stairwell and cast the locator spell again. The light fizzled before it even left his wand.
"Fuck." Draco repeated the curse a few times for good measure.
He'd been over every inch of the castle and Harry definitely was not in it. If Harry was here, the spell would have found him. If he wasn't, the spell wouldn't have worked at all. Instead, it was half working which meant something weird had happened to Harry.
This was supposed to be a simple exorcism case and yet, somehow, miraculously, Harry had managed to get himself in trouble again. It was like he was made of magnets that attracted near-death experiences. Draco stomped his way back up to the castle gate, calling out Harry's name a few more times for good measure. He'd have to go back to the Ministry and round up more Aurors to start searching. Worse, he'd have to do paperwork, file a missing person's report and an on-the-job incident report. Even worse, all that paperwork meant the press was going to find out.
He could picture the headline now. 'Former Death Eater loses Harry Potter. Death Eater's revenge?'
There would be inquiries. There would be suspicion. They'd take him off active duty. They'd question everyone he ever knew and wonder if he still hated Harry, hated him enough to kill him, hide the body, and inform the Ministry of his disappearance.
His life was about to become a horrible mess and it was all Harry's fault.
God, he hated Mondays.
An imperious meow interrupted Severus's reading. He closed his book and looked down at the fluffy gray cat seated before him. She looked up at him and meowed again before turning and trotting out of the room. Seconds later, his wards buzzed, indicating an unexpected visitor. He rose slowly, setting the book carefully on the end table next to a half-empty glass of scotch. The doorbell rang. His house elf, Dara, greeted the guest, ushering him in as Severus stepped out into the hall. His cat, Merlin, sat in the middle of the hall, staring at the blonde man who'd just walked in.
Draco looked positively wrecked. His usually neat hair was coming loose from its ponytail in several spots. His clothes were wrinkled. A frown marred unusually haggard features.
Severus raised an eyebrow and dismissed Dara with a wave. "You look quite the mess."
Draco's blue eyes locked on Severus. He looked desperate, almost as desperate as when Voldemort had tasked him with killing his Headmaster. Severus allowed his expression to shift into something almost like concern. "What's wrong?"
Draco didn't move from the entranceway. "He's missing. Harry Potter's gone missing."
Panic twisted in Severus's gut. He very carefully kept it off his face. "Have you alerted the authorities?"
Draco took a sudden step forward. It was as if that simple movement had broken the paralysis that had kept him in place, and he didn't stop moving. He brushed past Severus into the study. "I did." Bitterness mixed with concern in Draco's voice. "A week ago, when he disappeared. They haven't found him yet. I haven't found him yet."
The words felt like a punch to the gut. Severus steadied himself with a hand on the doorframe. Merlin twined through Severus's legs on her way into the room. Draco's back was to him, giving him a chance to compose himself. At one time, not that long ago, Harry had been very important to him. Those feelings had never quite gone away, no matter how hard he tried.
Draco stared into the fire for a several minutes before throwing himself down into the oversized green wingback chair set near the fire. That had been Harry's chair, once. Severus had thought it was awful, still did, but Harry had been in love with the thing, dragging it out of gods knows where in the recesses of Severus's attic and claiming it for his own. Severus kept meaning to banish the thing back to the attic but he couldn't quite bring himself to get rid of it, not quite yet.
Merlin launched herself onto the arm of the chair with a short trill. She paused, as if surprised to find Draco there instead of Harry. His cat had been exorbitantly fond of Harry. She gave Draco a moment's contemplation before stepping onto his lap. Draco glanced down at the cat as if he'd never seen one before. His hand hung in the air. Merlin nudged it with her forehead. Draco took the hint and settled his hand on her head, scratching lightly. His troubled expression eased a fraction.
A thousand questions buzzed through Severus's mind. What happened? Was Harry dead? Who did they think was responsible? He didn't quite trust himself to ask any of those, not without his voice betraying the depth of his emotion. "Why am I just hearing about this now?" If Harry was gone, really, truly gone, then the papers would have reported on it. It would have been all anyone was talking about, and he hadn't heard a peep.
"I don't know." Draco's head rested against the chair as he stared up at the ceiling. He sounded tired. "The Ministry's keeping quiet about it. Gods knows why. It's almost like they're trying to spare me, but I know better than that."
Severus slowly sank into his chair. He folded his hands in his lap, lest they start shaking. "And that's why you're here? Because of Harry?"
Draco looked up at him and Severus could tell. In that instant he knew what Harry meant to Draco. It was the same as what Harry meant to him. That realization should have sparked a pang of jealousy but it didn't. He'd given up his claim on Harry long ago and he was strangely okay with Draco having him. At least then he would know that Harry had someone sensible looking after him.
"I need your help. I need to find him."
The answer was obvious. There was no way Severus wasn't going to look, not now that he knew. Still, he felt the need to state the obvious. "The Ministry won't like it." There were many who still didn't trust him, even after the testimony Dumbledore left behind exonerated Severus of his crimes. Severus didn't blame them but it made dealings with Ministry affairs more than a little tricky.
"Fuck the Ministry." Draco shot to his feet, earning a righteous hiss from Merlin as she was ejected. His hands curled into fists, and for the first time since Draco had walked in the door, he saw life in Draco's eyes. "I know what you are to him. I know that you care for him, so don't pretend that the Ministry has any say in this. We need to find him."
Severus stared at Draco for a long moment before nodding. "Alright." He glanced towards the clock. It was late. They had a few hours to daylight. "You'll stay the night and we'll start in the morning." He took a long pull of his scotch to fortify himself. "Now, tell me everything you can remember."
Harry hated being cold. He also hated being wet, and those two factors combined to make him absolutely miserable. His clothes clung to his skin. They, along with the rest of him, had been soaked when he'd woken up in the cell, and they'd never quite dried since. At least the smell wasn't bothering him as much anymore. There were far too many things to hate about the cave he was trapped in to single out just one annoyance.
A loud rattling noise echoed through the cave and Harry quickly shoved himself back against the wall as far as he could go. The shadow appeared first, trailing ahead of Teleri before the creature trundled into view. It was a large, hulking monster, so tall that it had to duck when walking through the caves, which gave it a sort of primordial air. The knuckles of its long arms brushed the ground. Thick, matted black hair covered it from head to tail, the latter sweeping out behind it like a long train. It grinned when it looked at him. Sharp teeth gleamed in the low light and Harry was fairly certain it chuckled.
Addfwyn trundled behind, almost overburdened by the tray he carried. Water sloshed over the top of the crude cup, spilling onto the tray and trickling onto Addfwyn's head. Of the two, Harry preferred Addfwyn, but where Addfwyn went, Teleri usually wasn't far behind. In contrast, Addfwyn was everything Teleri was not. He was small, like a house elf but rounder, almost bulbous in size. He was clumsy, talkative, and kind.
Teleri chuckled again as they reached the cage. He circled it, walking from corner to corner and back again. Harry trembled and tried to make himself as small as possible in the center of the stone wall that formed the back of his cage. He'd learned the hard way to avoid both Teleri's reach and his temper. He had bruises along both his arms and down his back to show for it, along with a nasty gash on his cheek.
Addfwyn offered him a hesitant smile when Teleri's back was turned. He lowered the tray to the ground gently and slid it under the hole in the cage bars. "Soup's on." His voice reminded Harry of Peter Pettigrew, somewhat nasally and hesitant about every word.
Teleri's huge paws curdled around the bars of the cage to Harry's right. Harry shifted to his left and ignored the food in favor of keeping an eye on Teleri, even though his stomach growled in hunger. He wasn't sure how much time had passed while he was here, but the pain in his stomach made it quite clear that he'd missed more than a few meals.
"Last meal," Teleri grunted. His breath hit Harry and he shuddered. It smelled worse than the swamp. He made a half-hearted swat at Harry, more to scare him than any real attempt to reach him. Harry was suitably scared, regardless of intention. "Eat up, then maybe I'll get to eat you later."
He leered at Harry and pressed his face against the bars. His long, forked tongue flicked out to trail over his sharp teeth with exaggerated slowness. Addfwyn frowned and looked about to say something but a glance at Teleri kept him quiet. He looked at Harry once more with a sad expression and trundled back the way he'd came.
"Later, dinner." Teleri pulled slowly away but his glowing green eyes stayed fixed on Harry as he backed towards the tunnel. He laughed as he finally turned away, the sound of it echoing through the cave.
Harry waited until the sound had faded completely before finally peeling himself away from the wall. He stayed low to the ground - his bruises ached when he tried to stand straight - and pulled the tray towards the wall. The cup of water was half empty. He downed a quarter of it in one gulp and then turned towards the porridge they'd brought him. Porridge was perhaps too polite a word for the slop. It was greasy, foul smelling, and foul tasting. He had no idea what was in it, but it was all they gave him and he was too hungry to be discerning.
He drank the porridge directly from the bowl, using his fingers to scrape out every last trace of food, then licking his fingers clean. There was something off about the taste, something different. Maybe it was just the dirt on his hands. Maybe they'd added something new. He was pretty sure Addfwyn made it, so he might have added something to make it taste better. Whatever it was, it didn't help.
He took two small sips of his water to wash the taste out of his mouth and then set the cup aside. He had a while until they'd be back and he liked to savor the water as much as he could. It helped, a little bit, to keep the thirst at bay.
The world shifted as he leaned back against the cave wall. Harry frowned. That wasn't right. He didn't feel right. He tried to push himself up but he stumbled, his limbs feeling far too heavy. The cup of water fell over, spilling its contents into the ground. As he slumped forward on to the stone he caught sight of the familiar shadow approaching once more.
His vision blurred. He was vaguely aware of the cage door opening. He was lifted, slung over something large and furry. His back may have hit the ceiling a few times. Then he was back on stone again. He could smell fresh air, or at least as fresh as air got in a swamp. A cool breeze blew over him. Water surrounded him, covering him. It pressed into his head and made him want to sleep. The water went away and he coughed feebly, gasping for air.
He was slung none too gently on a stone slab. The water had helped clear his head some but he could feel the haze settling back over him. There were tiny pin-pricks of light above him. Stars, shining through a hole in the cave. There was a fire somewhere nearby. He heard chanting. A pretty face appeared, smiling with wicked, pointy teeth.
The light from the stars reached into him and he gasped. It felt like he was being stabbed, great big claws digging into his chest but the pain wasn't quite right. His flesh felt whole. There was no blood, only pain, great ripping pain tearing inside of him. He screamed. Once he started he couldn't seem to stop. It felt like he was being torn apart from the inside, being twisted around and remade.
The pain faded slowly, leaving in its place a deep ache and a chill that he felt in his bones. The light of the fires went out, sinking the cave into gloom. Then the stars went out, one by one, disappearing from the edges of his vision until there were none left. Darkness swallowed him.
He remembered nothing after that. When he woke again, he was in a dark place. His head pounded. There was cold stone beneath his cheek and his clothes were soaking wet. He hurt, so much that he could barely move.
Something shuffled in the darkness.
Harry started. He jerked backwards with a small cry, rolling away from the sound. Movement brought more pain.
"Shh," Addfwyn whispered. Harry could hear his small feet padding against the stone as he approached. "You must be quiet, Harry Potter."
Harry lifted himself slowly off the ground. "How do you know my name?" He was certain he'd never mentioned it and they'd never asked.
Metal jingled. There was a loud clank. He heard the cage door open but he couldn't see it. It was too dark. They'd taken away the torch that usually lit the room. Maybe they thought he wasn't worth it anymore since Teleri was just going to eat him.
A touch against his arm startled him. He jumped, pulling away quickly. Pain shot across his back and he hissed in pain.
"It's just me, Mister Potter." The touch came again and he resisted the urge to pull away. Addfwyn tugged at his wrist. His grip was surprisingly strong for his size. "I've heard of you. I've heard of the lightning scar and the war with the Dark Lord. You must come away now. Come away before they eat you."
He shifted to his knees. His first attempt to stand failed, bringing his knees down hard against the stone as he fell. He tried again, stumbling a few times before finally managing it.
"Why?" He kept his voice to a whisper, afraid that Teleri was hiding in the darkness, waiting to strike him. "Why are you helping me now?"
Addfwyn guided him with sharp tugs on his wrist. The more he walked, the easier it got. It hurt but he was able to ignore the pain somewhat in favor of putting one foot in front of the other. The fear of being eaten helped, motivating him to keep moving no matter what.
"She has what she wants now. You were left unguarded, but not for long. Teleri will find you gone soon, and he will come looking."
They moved through darkness for what felt like an eternity. He could smell a change, a subtle shift in the air that grew more pronounced the further they went. Fresh air hit his face and for the first time since his imprisonment, Harry felt hope.
Addfwyn stopped and released Harry's hand. His hands came to Harry's waist, turning him slightly to the left. He pushed lightly, sending Harry stumbling forward.
"Go. That way. Run as fast as you can and do not stop. Whatever you do, do not stop running."
Draco frowned as the old woman prattled on about her cat that had gone missing in the swamp two years ago. "Yes. That's dreadful, really, but I'm interested in the man in this picture here. Have you seen him?"
She barely glanced at the photograph in his hand. It was one of those silly muggle ones, one of the ones that stayed still. Draco didn't like it or the muggle-style suite Snape had talked him into. The picture was of Harry a few years ago, shortly after the war. He'd still had a few bruises when the picture had been taken, but most of the grief and horror that seemed to cling to him in those days had been muted by then. Harry'd gotten better since then, but Draco didn't like carrying around a reminder of what Harry had been through, especially not one so lifeless and still.
"Nope, sorry, dear, but about my cat..."
He walked away and headed to the next house on the row. He hated muggles. Absolutely hated them, especially the old daft ones that just wouldn't listen. He took a deep, calming breath as he stood in front of the next cottage. In the background, he could hear the smooth, even tones of Severus's voice as he questioned the couple on the other side of the street. This was the third tiny village they'd been to and so far no one had seen any sign of Harry. Castle Atrexia rose up in the distance, on the other side of the swamp. Thankfully, this village was upwind of the smell.
He lifted his hand to knock but a shout in the distance stopped him. He stepped away, turning to look down the road towards the swamp. If he recalled correctly, a few of the local men worked in the swamp, trapping animals for their furs. The shout came again and he was able to pinpoint its origination. There was a man running up the road towards them, a large bundle in his arms. His voice was muffled by distance. As he got closer, his shouts resolved into words.
"Get the doctor! Quick! Help!"
Draco's stomach clenched. There was something familiar about the shape of that bundle that sent a flutter of emotions swirling inside of him. Hope lodged in his throat, nearly choking him. He waited, frozen, as the man ran towards the village. Draco ignored his shouting, the sound of it fading away as he focused on the man he carried. It was definitely a person. Right shape, right color, with a tousle of brown hair on his head.
He ran. There was a chance that the person in the stranger's arms wasn't Harry. He knew he shouldn't get his hopes up but he couldn't help it. He ran as fast as his legs would carry him, closing the distance between him and the villager.
They intersected by the last house on the row. The man overshot Draco but Draco stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"Let me see." The words were unnecessary. He already could see who the man carried. He'd known even before the man had gotten close. Harry. It was Harry.
"Give him here." They both turned to look at Snape. The villager paled and handed Harry over without protest.
There were bruises all over Harry. He was still wearing the same clothes as the day he'd disappeared, though they were wet and covered in dirt and torn in several places. Snape lifted him like he weighed nothing. Judging by Snape's expression, he hadn't expected to Harry to be that light either. Harry didn't stir as he was transferred between the two men.
"What happened?" Draco demanded. "Where did you find him?"
The villager paled further and shifted slightly away, lifting his hands up between them. "I didn't do that. I found him. In the woods. I found him like that, unconscious on the ground."
Snape was already moving away, towards the bend in the road that they'd Apparated in from.
"Where did you find him?" Draco's eyes followed Snape and he itched to run after.
"Right at the edge of the swamp." The man pointed but Draco wasn't looking. He nodded once and then ran after Snape.
As soon as they were out of sight of the village, they Apparated away.
Severus hovered. He wasn't really sure what to do with himself. Any time he walked away from Harry's room, he inevitably found himself drawn back within moments. He didn't go in Harry's room. He wanted to but at the same time he felt out of place. He wasn't used to feeling out of place in his own home, especially with Harry there, but Draco was inside Harry's room, sitting at Harry's bedside with one of Harry's pale, still hands clasped in his.
He didn't know much about Draco and Harry's relationship, but there obviously was one, at least as far as Draco was concerned. He really couldn't complain, not when he'd broken up with Harry for this exact purpose - so that Harry could find someone his own age to be with and have a normal life. He'd always thought it would have been Ginny that captured Harry's attention, but apparently Harry had a penchant for Slytherines. That was both reassuring and disquieting, since there were few Slytherines Severus would actually trust Harry with.
Merlin provided what Severus could not. The cat was a solid purring mass beside Harry's pillow and had been since the moment they'd put Harry to bed. Merlin had always been overly affectionate with Harry, a quality Severus had always envied even though he knew it was silly to be envious of a cat.
The Ministry would be here soon. The fact that they hadn't arrived already spoke volumes. They were plotting, no doubt, planning exactly how to get Harry away from him as swiftly as possible. There would be questions, demands for answers that he couldn't give them. There were too many things still unknown for his liking. Where had Harry been? What had happened to him?
Severus had healed what he could of Harry's injuries, cataloging each one with the intention of seeing it returned to whoever had taken Harry. There was something wrong with Harry. Something off. His spells hadn't worked like they were supposed to. Some had fizzled on contact. Others started to work and failed part way through. It had turned what should have been a simple series of incantations into a longer, grueling session of wizardwork.
Severus pushed off from the wall he'd been leaning against and turned towards the doorway. He lingered a step inside the room as Harry stirred. He groaned, twisting in the sheets with movements reminiscent of the end of the war and the constant nightmares that had plagued Harry for years afterwards. Harry's eyes opened. He shot upright, disturbing Merlin as he bit back a scream. Harry's head whipped around, scanning the room with unfocused eyes. He scrambled backwards, pressing his back against the headboard. He was trembling, his entire body shaking from head to toe.
Severus frowned. Harry wasn't looking at him. He wasn't looking at anything, but staring blankly at the wall. His hands groped at the sheets, fingers testing the fabric and feeling for the edge of the bed. Merlin gave a short trill, startling Harry into stillness. She pushed her way under one of Harry's hands. Her loud purr was the only sound in the room. Harry's fingers curled in her fur after a moment. Severus's frown deepened.
"Harry?" There was a tremor in Draco's voice. No doubt he'd drawn the same conclusion as Severus.
Harry turned towards Draco but his gaze missed, settling on the dresser instead. Merlin crawled onto Harry's lap and spread across him like a furry seatbelt. Harry's hand settled on her back, petting absently.
"Draco? Why is Severus's cat here?"
Draco frowned and opened his mouth. Severus stopped him with a shake of his head. He slipped his wand from his sleeve and pointed it at Harry's face. Harry didn't even blink. "Finite Incantatem." Nothing happened. "Revelio." Still nothing. "Sententia." A list of Harry's remaining injuries scrolled through the air in glowing letters. Nothing mentioned his eyes or his current blindness. He lowered his wand.
"Severus?" Fear filled Harry's voice. "Severus, what's going on? Will you turn the lights on, please? I can't see anything in the dark."
The panic in Harry's voice drew him forward. He sat on the edge of the bed, opposite Draco, and took one of Harry's hands in his. Harry frowned slightly as the bed dipped but he didn't pull away. "The lights are on, Harry."
Realization crept across Harry's face. Severus watched him try to fight it off but it was a losing battle. "No." Harry shook his head slowly. "No. It's just dark. Make the darkness go away, Severus. Please."
His pleasure over the fact that Harry asked for him instead of Draco was dampened by the tears welling in Harry's eyes. He desperately wanted to make Harry better but he had no idea what was wrong in the first place. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I don't know how to fix it." According to the spells there wasn't anything wrong. A curse would show up, as would magical blindness. This was something else.
Merlin's purring increased in volume but it wasn't enough to soothe Harry, not this time. Harry's head drooped. His shoulders started to shake with repressed sobs.
Draco leaned forward to brush his hand through Harry's hair. "We'll find a way to fix this, Harry. Just give us some time. We'll find something."
Harry squeezed Severus's hand tightly and leaned into Draco's touch. Draco shifted to sit on the bed with them. He pulled Harry into a loose embrace, Harry's head resting on his shoulder. Harry's hand squeezed tighter. Sharp, ragged sobs broke from Harry's lips. Severus wished he could move closer, that he could hold Harry and comfort him like he used to, but he didn't want to intrude. He watched Harry's body tremble in Draco's grasp.
After a few minutes, Harry's sobbing stilled. He sniffled a few times and pulled away slowly, leaning back away from Draco as he wiped his eyes. "I want to try."
Severus pressed his wand into Harry's hand.
Harry lifted the wand and swished carefully, his movements precise and perfect. "Lumos."
Nothing happened. That worried him. Blindness could be reasoned away. There was a hope of a cure there but this.... There were few recorded cases of a wizard being unable to perform spells. None of them ended well.
Harry tried the spell again and again, switching to larger spells as every effort failed to produce a result. Nothing happened, not even the faintest spark. Draco caught Harry's wrist in the middle of a sloppy hex. He gently pried the wand from Harry's fingers and handed it back to Severus.
A loud chime rang through the building, startling all three of them. Harry squeaked a little and shifted towards Draco. Severus swallowed a curse and stood. Of course the Ministry would show up now.
"Stay with him." It was a pointless order. Envy twisted like a knife in his gut as he stalked from the room.
Three Ministry officials stepped one by one from his fireplace. He recognized two of them - Aurelius, the head of the Auror Division, and Elias, the secretary to the Minister. Aurelius and the third - likely an Auror judging by his robes - scowled at him. Severus gave them the glare he usually reserved for Hufflepuffs.
He spoke before they could. "Mister Potter is currently indisposed. You may return tomorrow."
Aurelius grimaced and took a step forward. "I'm afraid I must insist on ascertaining Auror Potter's safety. We appreciate your assistance thus far, but it will no longer be necessary. We will be moving Auror Potter to a secure location at once."
Severus's lips curled into a scowl. He wanted to argue but the words didn't quite make it past his lips. He shouldn't. As much as he wanted Potter here, he'd be safer elsewhere, somewhere no one would think to look for him. Draco could look after him. That was where Harry belongs now.
"This way," he said instead of the million protests forming in his head. He ignored their stares and stalked down the hall, purposefully making more noise than usual, though still less than the three bumbling officials hastily trailing after him.
Draco had managed to pull Harry back into a semblance of composure by the time they make it to the room, though he still sat close, within easy reach. Draco's hands were folded in his lap and Severus could tell that it was taking all of Draco's willpower to keep his hands off of Harry. He could tell because they wanted the same thing.
Harry turned towards the doorway as they filed into the room. Severus had given Harry one of the larger guestrooms, but it still felt cramped with the officials looming around Harry's bed. Harry's gaze vaguely tracked them through the room, likely helped by their heavy footsteps. They didn't seem to notice the problem with Harry's gaze.
"Harry, my boy," Aurelius said as he stepped up to the foot of the bed. "How are you feeling?"
Harry's mouth hung open for a second. His hand twitched towards Draco, stopping at the edge of the bed and lightly brushing Draco's knee. "I don't think I can answer that right now, sir."
Aurelius frowned. "I understand. We'll get you out of here and then we can talk in private."
"No." Harry's pained expression made both Draco and Severus shift towards him. "Please. I don't want to go."
Severus froze. That wasn't what he had expected Harry to say. From the look on Aurelius's face, that wasn't what Aurelius had expected either. Harry groped for Draco's hand and squeezed it tightly.
"I need to stay here. Assuming Severus will allow it. Please."
He'd seen that kind of hesitant fear on Harry's face before. He hadn't liked it then and he didn't like it now. "Of course you can stay." He moved to stand on the opposite side of the bed from Draco. They faced the Ministry officials like a pair of guards, weapons all but at the ready.
"But Harry-" Aurelius began.
"I'm blind." Aurelius's mouth shut with a snap. Silence fell over the room. Harry's knuckles were white around Draco's hand. It must have hurt but none of the pain showed on Draco's face. The Ministry officials gaped at Harry. "I can't do magic." Harry's face had hardened with resolve but Severus could still see the fear lingering there. "If the public finds out, I'm dead. Everyone who ever had a grudge against me would come crawling out of the woodwork to find me. I wouldn't stand a chance. If that's going to happen, then I want to be somewhere safe, and that place is here. You'll forgive my presumption, but given the circumstances, it would probably best if you would allow Severus to cast Fidelius on the group of us."
Aurelius blanched. The other Auror frowned and started to speak but Elias beat him to it. "It would be most prudent, sir. Few would think to look for Auror Potter here." If Severus were in the habit of sending Christmas presents, Elias would have moved to the top of his list. He might very well make an exception anyways, just this once.
"Please." Severus glanced over as Harry spoke. Judging by the pained look on Draco's face, that particular pleading tone of Harry's did the same thing to Draco as it did to Severus.
Aurelius's resolve wavered and finally died as he stared at Harry's unfocused eyes. "Of course, Auror Potter. But, for the record, we will need to know how you received your injuries. I assure you, the ministry will use all available resources to search for a cure."
Harry took a shaky breath and launched into his story.
Harry had never been particularly afraid of the dark as a child. All that time spent locked in a cupboard made him more or less immune to it, though he hadn't liked it much as a child, even if he wasn't afraid of it. He was afraid of the dark now. Or, more aptly, he was afraid of everything hidden in the darkness and what it meant. The b-word. The word that Draco and Severus refused to say near him, the word that everyone tiptoed around and he tried not to think about because thinking about it led down a dark road that he'd rather avoid. He'd never had a problem saying Voldemort's name, but then when he'd first heard the name Voldemort hadn't really existed for him, not really. It wasn't until much later that the name had any tangible meaning, after he'd come face to face with Voldemort for the first time and Voldemort had tried to kill him again.
Names had power and words had power, and maybe avoiding that particular word right now made him a coward. He was okay with that. He had good reason to be a coward.
He'd been afraid when he faced down Voldemort, but this was infinitely worse. With Voldemort, there had been the hope that something magical would happen. There'd been the knowledge that by dying, he would save everyone.
He was the one that needed saving this time. When they came for him, and Harry knew it was a matter of when and not if, he would be defenseless. Likely, he wouldn't even know what was going on until death hit him. He wouldn't see it coming, literally.
Draco and Severus would keep him safe, but he didn't like what that safety entailed. He was trapped here. It was a much better cage than the one he'd been in before and one he stayed in willingly, but it was a cage nonetheless. There was no future for him anymore. No more rising in the Ministry ranks. No more helping people and seeing bad wizards brought to justice. There was only this house and his reliance on others for help.
Severus had charmed the clothes Draco had fetched from his apartment. There was a tag on each one that read out what color and cut each shirt was, what type of pants he had in hand, whether his socks matched. Draco had put a singing charm on Harry's toothbrush so he could find it in the bathroom. For the first time in his adult life he was glad for his complete lack of facial hair, since it saved him the humiliation of cutting himself daily shaving.
At least he didn't need his glasses anymore. He wasn't even sure where they were. Lost in the same swamp as his wand, most likely.
As far as small blessings went, he was grateful for all the time he'd spent in Severus's house. Most of Hermione's graduate years, after the war and before he had any clue what to do with himself. Being here now, like this, added an extra layer of bittersweet to everything. One more layer of things that were gone and unlikely to return, but at least he knew his way around the house. The manor was unchanged in the years he and Severus had been apart, but that was unsurprising. Severus didn't like change. That'd been a point of contention in their relationship, but now it saved him from walking into unexpected tables.
He walked with his hand along the wall. He felt a bit like a child, but that feeling encompassed everything he did now, not just walking. Sometimes he imagined he was smearing paint all along Severus's perfectly decorated walls, trailing long streaks of blue or red behind him and Severus wasn't yelling at him because he felt sorry for him. They were both being overly solicitous of him and it bordered on creepy.
Voices echoed down the hall as he approached the kitchen. They were low, muffled by distance and the turn of the hall. Draco was angry. Severus was too but he hid it better, burying it beneath a measure of reason and calm. As he got closer he caught a bit about the Ministry, about reporters, Hermione's name, Hogwarts, specialists. The voices cut off as Harry's hand ran out of wall.
Silence fell over the kitchen. Harry groped for the doorframe and turned. Neither of them stepped forward to help him, for which he was grateful, though he could feel their eagerness to. He momentarily pictured what it would be like to be around more people, all silently pitying him, and repressed a shudder. He extended his left arm slightly out in front of him as he stepped forward. His hand lingered on the doorframe for as long as possible and then distance forced him free.
He hated walking into empty space. He felt like the nothingness was going to swallow him up, like he'd never find the other side and keep walking forever. It terrified him.
His hand bumped into the edge of the large island counter in the center of the kitchen. He fumbled upwards for the edge of the counter and then followed it around to his right. Draco stood then, a quick swish of robes and the scrape of a chair, followed by another scrape of wood on tile as Draco pulled out a chair for Harry.
It was a little strange that he could tell the difference between Draco and Severus by the way their robes swished.
He groped for the chair and climbed up into it. He'd always hated Severus's kitchen chairs. They were too tall for him. His feet dangled a good foot off the floor. He gripped the countertop with one hand as he settled into the chair and Draco pushed it forward for him.
"What would Harry Potter like this morning?" Dara's cheerful, high-pitched voice came from somewhere off to his left.
"Just some eggs, please. Maybe a bit of bacon to go with."
There was a loud whoosh as the stove started, followed by the clatter of pans and the soft crack of eggs breaking. He'd never really paid attention to what breakfast sounded like before. He didn't have much choice now.
"Good morning," he said, addressing the middle distance between where Draco sat and where he was reasonably sure Severus was standing on the opposite side of the island.
"Good morning." Severus's voice had evened out, no trace left of the argument Harry had walked in on. "I trust you slept well?"
"No." He didn't see the point in lying. They'd heard him scream, and he was fairly certain Draco had been sitting by his bed for a little while after that, though he hadn't said anything. "But I rarely do."
He could feel the heat of Draco's hand next to his own on the countertop. There was only a miniscule distance between them and Harry wished he could close the gap. He wasn't sure how Severus would take that, or Draco for that matter. He wasn't sure how he wanted either of them to take it.
There was a faint clatter as a plate was set in front of him. He wondered if it was one of the ones he liked, the ones with the blue scenery painted on the bottom. He'd always been fond of the one with a man shoveling hay into a hippogriff's pen. Draco pressed a fork into his hand. Harry fumbled with his left for the edge of the plate and stabbed at his food. He hit something and raised it to his mouth.
"We made another appointment." Severus said as Harry swallowed. It was always 'we', though that 'we' never included Harry. He was only slightly bothered by that. Years of living with Severus had built up a tolerance for people making decisions for him. "A man named Charles Yaley will be visiting on Tuesday. He is supposedly and expert optometrist."
"For a muggle." Draco muttered.
Harry nearly choked on his eggs. He understood why they'd been arguing so much. Draco had a very low opinion of muggle doctors. They must be running out of options if they were turning to muggles.
"I see." He continued eating his eggs, lost as to what else to say. He wouldn't say no, not if there was a slim chance the man could help. Likely he wouldn't but he felt better knowing they were trying.
"Also," Severus continued in that smooth tone that meant he didn't like what he was about to say, "Hermione has requested a visit."
Harry dropped his fork. He wasn't ready for that. He wasn't ready for more people to see him. He wasn't ready for their pity.
Draco's hand closed over his. "It's okay, Harry. Just breathe."
Draco hated the specialists. He sat next to Harry on the couch while the muggle prattled on about ocular damage and tissue repair. Useless. It was all useless. Magic would have fixed any physical damage. He wasn't sure why they were even listening. The muggle mentioned surgery and Harry tensed beside him.
That was it. Draco stood smoothly and pulled his wand from his sleeve. "Obliviate." The man's words cut off as his expression went blank.
Severus sighed, but said nothing as he gathered the man's tools back into his bag with a wave of his wand. He turned the muggle by the elbow, pressed the bag into his hand, and led him out through the floo.
Draco turned to look at Harry. This closeness of theirs had been almost constant since Harry had been found. Draco knew why he did it, just like he knew why Severus always scowled at him when he did, but he wasn't entirely sure why Harry never pulled away. He supposed the contact was reassuring. With his sight gone, touch was his primary method of locating objects. But there was more to it than that. Harry leaned into him. Harry pressed against him. Harry sought out closeness.
Who was Draco to deny him that?
He lifted his hand to run fingers through Harry's hair. He hadn't had many opportunities to touch Harry since he'd woken. There were always people around. Severus would be back any minute. It wasn't that Severus disapproved - If he did, he would have said something - but his presence made Draco uncomfortable, at least when he wanted to touch Harry. He felt like he was stealing and it felt wrong to do so right under Severus's nose.
Harry leaned into Draco's touch, pressing his cheek into Draco's palm. He couldn't help himself. He shifted on the couch, turning a little and closing the distance between them. His lips closed over Harry's. Harry went still for a brief moment but he didn't pull away. After a second's hesitation, he kissed back, lips parting slightly, his mouth wet and inviting.
It wasn't much as far as kisses went. It was mostly tentative. Light, even as their tongues brushed. It was nothing like the way he fantasized about kissing Harry. It was better.
Flame burst in the floo. They pulled apart reluctantly. Snape stepped into the room, took one look at them, and stomped out with a scowl on his face. Harry reached for Snape, his mouth open but no words emerged. His face fell but he didn't pull away from Draco.
Their second kiss was bittersweet.
Severus rolled over as a knock on his door woke him. "Yes?" He mumbled, his voice groggy and deep.
The door opened. In the faint light from the window, he could make out Harry's thin frame in the doorway. "Can I come in?"
There was hesitation in Harry's voice. He got like that when he thought Severus was mad at him, turning all wounded and vulnerable. Harry was far too fragile sometimes. Unfortunately it was one of his more charming qualities.
Severus sighed and sat up. "Yes, you may." He debated turning on the light but he still had hopes of going back to sleep soon and Harry wouldn't need it.
Harry shut the door behind him and shuffled forward. His outstretched hand closed on one of the carved posts at the foot of the bed. Harry stayed there, leaning slightly against the bed frame, close but out of Severus's reach. It surprised him a little that Harry still remembered how to navigate Severus's bedroom. He supposed they'd spent enough time together here that it was inevitable that Harry would remember.
"Are you mad at me?"
Severus sat up a little straighter. "Pardon?"
"Are you mad?" Harry repeated.
Severus hesitated. "Why would I be mad?" He tried for an even tone and mostly succeeded.
"Because I kissed Draco."
Severus lifted an eyebrow, though the expression was lost on Harry. He hadn't expected such bluntness though really he should be used to it by now. Apparently he hadn't been as careful as he thought if Harry had picked up on his displeasure. "I don't see how that's any of my concern." And it wasn't, much as he wanted it to be. Harry had the right to move on. He could do far worse than Draco.
Harry took a step forward, his hand falling to the sheets for guidance. "What if I want it to be your concern?"
His fingers curled in the sheets and for one brief selfish moment he was glad Harry couldn't see him. He forced his hands flat. "You have Draco. Isn't that enough?"
A pained look crossed Harry's face as he shook his head. Hope fluttered in Severus's chest and he squashed it down, though it was hard, especially when Harry looked so very close to breaking.
"It's not," Harry whispered. "I don't want it to be." He stopped at the head of the bed, his hands toying with the top of the covers. That used to be Harry's side of the bed. "I want you and I want him. I don't know what I want. Does that make me a horrible person?"
He shook his head then felt dumb for doing so. "No." His voice came out strained. "No, it doesn't."
Harry's hands fisted in the covers. "Can I stay?"
Harry pulled back the covers and slid beneath the sheets. It felt right, having Harry in his bed. It'd always seemed too big without Harry in it. Even with Harry in it, it was expansive. There was so much empty space. As Harry slid towards him, curling against him like he'd never left, Severus pictured what it'd be like to have a third person in bed. There was more than enough space behind Harry for someone else.
Severus lay back down. Harry shifted beside him, molding himself to fit against Severus. He imagined a third person spooned against Harry's back.
At some point during the night, Merlin joined them, her weight making the covers dip between Severus and Harry's chests. Harry made a faint noise in his sleep and nuzzled against Severus's chest. For the first time in weeks, Harry slept through the night without any nightmares.
"I want to sleep with you."
Severus's voice cut off midsentence. His book snapped shut somewhere above Harry's head. Draco choked, coughing a few times before he managed to squeak out "What?"
Harry shifted, lifting his head from Severus's lap and slowly twisting upright. "I want to sleep with you."
"Which you?" Draco asked. There was a light thud as Severus set the book he'd been reading to Harry aside.
"Both of you."
It was slightly unfair that Severus had forewarning but he hadn't really had a chance to talk to Draco about it, though that was more due to a lack of good segways than a lack of time. But the evening was drawing to a close, which in hindsight made it the perfect time to bring up sex.
"And you agreed?" Draco asked, aiming the question at Severus.
Severus brushed a hand through Harry's hair, no doubt fixing some of the mess caused by laying in the other man's lap. "We had discussed it, yes. I would be amenable to the arrangement if it suits you."
Silence drew out between them. Harry bit his lip. He wanted to say more, to explain himself, but he knew better than to press the issue with Draco. Either he would go for it or he wouldn't and there was little Harry could say to change his mind. He just hoped that he hadn't ruined things completely. He wanted both of them, as irrational and selfish as that sounded, and he was worried that by going for it, by giving in to what he really wanted, he was going to lose them both.
Severus squeezed Harry's hand.
Harry let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Are you sure?" It was stupid to ask, especially when Draco had already said yes, but he couldn't help himself. "I don't... I mean... if there's a chance... that is..."
"What Harry's trying to say is that he doesn't want either of us involved if it isn't something we want as well."
He shot an appreciative smile in Severus's general direction.
Draco stood, his chair creaking faintly as it was relieved of the weight. "I want Harry. I don't mind sharing."
"I'm of similar mindset," Severus agreed.
Harry felt a grin stretch across his face. "Great. Brilliant." They said yes. He'd hoped, but he hadn't really thought... They'd said yes.
Gods, what did he do now?
Draco took Harry's free hand. It was weird how he could tell their touches apart. Before, he never would have, it would have just been hands and skin. All the same, with recognition driven by the faces that the hands were attached to. But he didn't have that so instead he noticed the subtleties. Severus's hands were larger, rougher. His hand more calluses, more scars. Draco's hands were softer, warmer. It made Harry wonder if the rest of him was that warm too.
"Perhaps the bedroom would be the best place to continue this discussion?" There was something new in Draco's voice, something different. It made his voice at once quieter and deeper.
Harry swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat and nodded. "Okay."
They helped him up off the couch and guided him down the hall, one on each side, neither letting go. He counted the stairs on the way up, as he always did, then counted the steps down the hall. They passed Harry's room and Draco's. They turned to the left. Severus's room. He remembered how big Severus's bed was. It'd be perfect.
They filed through the door and after that Harry lost track of who was where. There were hands on him, sliding beneath his clothing and lifting the fabric away. The hands were followed by lips, tentative at first, growing bolder. Harry gasped as a kiss was placed against the sensitive spot on his neck, right were his neck and shoulder met. He wasn't sure who kissed him, probably Severus unless Draco had gotten a lucky guess.
He tried to help but it was hard enough dressing himself, let alone undressing someone else. He managed most of the buttons on Draco's shirt and the zipper on Severus's pants. It was strange not really knowing who was where. He had a good guess, but that was all it was. For all he knew someone could be standing in the corner watching them and he'd be none the wiser. Considering the company, he was fairly certain the sheer mass of hexes leveled at any intruder would be warning enough.
They moved to the bed. Hands shifted and he lost track of who was where. He felt the bed dip and shift around him, rocking gently like an uneasy sea. There was a solid chest in front of him, lightly muscled. His hands wandered, exploring territory that quickly became familiar to him while his lips were occupied in a deep kiss. Severus. Only Severus kissed him like that, slow and certain, like he could draw out all the secrets of the world with his tongue.
His hand wandered down Severus's chest as he was pulled back, body arching slightly until it connected with another solid mass behind him. His head was turned. Lips covered his and he discovered what Draco tasted like. He was mint and citrus, the taste lingering from the oranges Draco had been eating after dinner. He kissed hard, his mouth plundering, tongue quick and eager. His hand curled around Severus's erection and he smiled against Draco's mouth as Severus gasped.
A drawer opened and shut. Severus leaned forward, his lips finding Harry's collarbone and biting there, likely leaving tiny red marks against Harry's skin. He'd always loved that. A large hand steadied his hips while another slipped behind him. He felt the hand brush against his ass, had a brief moment of realization before the hand slid further back. A finger teased his entrance, spreading wetness as it circled round and round.
Harry moaned into Draco's lips. He pulled Draco's tongue into his mouth and sucked on it, moving his head in lurid imitation of what he could do to other, larger parts of Draco's body. The slick finger pressed in. Harry reached up, groping blindly for Draco's head and twining his fingers in Draco's hair. He could feel the hardness of Draco's erection against his back. The finger sunk in, all the way down to the knuckle and pulled out again with agonizing slowness. Severus was going to drive him mad if he kept that up.
He needed more. Harry pulled his head back, breaking the kiss with Draco. "I need..." Severus crooked his finger and the rest of what Harry was going to say cut off with a gasp. He moaned loudly and turned, trying his hardest not to knee anyone or land on other body parts. He was mostly successful. "Draco?" A hand clasped around his wrist, guiding his hand forward until it connected with flesh. He ran his hand down Draco's side until he found hips, then moved inwards towards what he wanted.
His hand closed around Draco's erection and he used that as a guide to bring his mouth down. His lips closed over the head as Severus pushed a second finger inside of him. It'd been too long. Far too long since he'd done this. Well, not this exactly. He'd never had two men - two gorgeous, brilliant, amazing men - at once but now that he had, he never wanted to go back. He sucked Draco into his mouth, more than a little pleased at the strangled noise that came from Draco as he did.
It felt amazing. It was like he got everything good about sex all at once. Draco's cock was hard and thick in his mouth, and at the same time, Severus's fingers were inside of him, stretching him open. It was almost too much. He moaned around Draco's flesh, bobbing in time with the steady thrust and pull of Severus's hand. Judging by the groan Draco let out, it was as maddening to him as it was to Harry. A hand curled in his hair and he felt Draco shift. His head was pushed down as Draco leaned forward and then there was another finger pushing into Harry, moving out of sync with Severus's.
Harry nearly came from the thought alone. Instead, he redoubled his efforts on Draco's cock, using his hand to stroke the base while his lips concentrated on the head. He ran his tongue around the head then over the slit, around and down again as he sucked as hard as he could. Judging by the way Draco's hand tightened in his hair, he was doing a good job of driving Draco as wild as Harry felt.
The hands pulled away far too soon. He whimpered a protest around Draco's cock but his disappointment was short lived as he felt Severus press against him. Severus's hands gripped his hips and then Severus was pushing forward, shoving in slow and steady, filling him better than hands ever would.
Harry moaned and sucked Draco down as deep as he could, pressing forward and swallowing once to relax his throat. Draco's cock brushed against the back of his mouth at the same time as Severus settled all the way inside of him. He revised his earlier opinion. This was the best feeling on earth, filled at both ends by men he cared about.
Then Severus moved and it was all Harry could do to keep up. He whimpered and moaned, his begging muffled around Draco's cock. His lips and hand moved frantically, bobbing and stroking as fast as he could. He wanted it. He wanted everything, so bad it hurt. He needed Severus and Draco. He needed them to come inside of him and he wanted that now.
Draco's fingers tightened in Harry's hair, pulling him up and off.
"No," Harry moaned. "No, please."
"Shh." Draco pressed against his front. Hands lifted him, shifting him upright as Severus sat back. Gravity helped Severus push deep inside of him as he settled on Severus's lap and he groaned, his head rolling back against Severus's shoulder.
"Please," Harry begged. He needed Draco again. He needed them both. Just one wasn't enough, but it was going to be soon. He could feel his release building. He was close and he wanted them both in him when he came.
"It's okay." Severus's hands shifted, moving down from Harry's hips to lift his legs, pulling them up and apart.
"It's okay," Draco repeated. He pressed closer, his chest brushing against Harry's as he settled between Harry's spread legs.
Fingers brushed against his entrance, right where Severus was joined with him. He'd stilled mostly, his hips moving in shallow thrusts and it wasn't enough. He didn't want them to stop, never wanted them to stop. The room went quiet for a moment, all sound dropping away save for the faint creak of the bed and Harry's labored breathing. The fingers pressed against him, circling where he and Severus were joined, and then pushing in.
Harry gasped. "What?"
"Shh." They said in union. Severus pressed a kiss against his neck.
Harry groaned as two of Draco's fingers slid in beside Severus's cock. He could hear movement. The bed shifted. There was the faint sound of flesh on flesh. Then the fingers were pulling, stretching him wider. Harry shifted, though he wasn't sure if he was trying to get away or push closer. Then Draco was tight against him, his slick cock sliding in where his fingers hand been, brushing against Severus on his way in. It was too much. Harry gasped for breath, his chest heaving as sensation overwhelmed him.
Then they moved and Harry lost it. He screamed, his head falling forward onto Draco's shoulder as they both shifted inside of him. Severus pulled out, not all the way, but enough, and then he was pushing back in and Draco was pulling out and it was all Harry could do to sit there and take it. His fingers dug into Draco's shoulders. His entire body trembled. He would have collapsed, would have lost his mind then and there, but Draco and Severus's hands were on him, holding him up, holding him together. They moved so perfectly inside of him, like it'd been scripted but he knew, absolutely knew they hadn't planned this but it didn't matter because it was perfect.
He had them. They were both in him around him all at once and it was perfect. Too perfect, and it was all Harry could do to hold it together. Then they shifted, pressing closer, pressing tight against him and they bit, one on each side of his neck.
He screamed as he came apart and kept screaming. There were so many hands. They held him, supported him, comforted him as he fell apart. They were waiting for him when he came back, sticky from the mess on him and in him, wet from the tears he hadn't realized he'd been shedding. He hissed as they pulled free, leaving an aching void behind.
He was ruined for regular sex now. Absolutely ruined. Only Severus and Draco would do from now on.
He could live with that.
Draco shared a long look with Severus as Harry shuddered between them. Each brush of a hand, each kiss, each caress sent Harry gasping in pleasure from the afterglow. He'd been worried how all three of them would work out but he wasn't anymore. Harry was amazing, so eager and open. Draco didn't know how he'd gone through life for so long without this.
Severus was smiling. Draco couldn't recall ever seeing Severus look so at peace. He had a feeling there was a similar smile on his own face, maybe mixed with a bit of incredulity and shock. For a brief moment he debated trying for round two in a few minutes but the way Harry was boneless and limp against them suggested that sleep was in order.
"Accio Wand." Severus beat him to the cleaning spell. With a flick of his wrist he had them cleaned off.
Draco debated hunting up his underwear, but that would involve moving away from the pile of warm that was Harry Potter. They shifted slowly, moving as a unit until they were under the covers, Severus on his back, Harry curled against him, and Draco pressed against Harry's back. It was more comfortable than it should be, but it felt right.
He belonged here, more than he ever thought he would. He'd known he'd wanted Harry, but he hadn't realized that part of the hurt of stealing Harry away from Snape was from the thought of leaving Severus behind. It was better this way. It was better with them all together. He wasn't sure exactly how it would work out, exactly how they'd share things and how the lines would be drawn but for now that didn't matter.
For now, he had Harry and that was all he wanted.
Severus was slow to fall asleep. Harry was a solid weight against his chest, back where he should be, where he never should have left from but that was Severus's fault not Harry's. Draco's soft, even breathing sounded from beyond Harry's shoulders. A hand he wasn't used to pressed lightly against Severus's side. Draco was curled around Harry like a protective blanket. That was what Harry needed, much as Harry would never admit it. Protection. That was what Severus had given him. He'd protected Harry for years. Far too many years, by some counts.
It was reassuring to know that Harry had someone else to watch over him, someone else to comfort him. When Severus got too old to protect Harry, Draco would be there to fill in the gap. He didn't want to leave Harry. He never wanted to leave Harry, but it was inevitable. His was never meant to be a long life. But he was glad that fate had deemed to bring Harry back to him. He was glad he got a second chance.
He wasn't going to squander it this time.
Harry was fond of Severus's garden. He'd been surprised the first time he'd seen it. It spread across the back of the small estate, cobblestone paths twisting through pockets of green. There was a small fountain set near the back of the garden. The water was enchanted to move through a complex series of forms, never quite the same as anything that had come before. Harry had been fascinated by it. He'd spent hours out in the garden, watching the water move.
He couldn't see the water anymore, but he could hear it. There was a pattern to the splashes. The water trickled over the fountain, the rush of water playing in a faint melody. Harry had the impression that the fountain had changed for him, playing to his hearing instead of his sight. He lay stretched out on the wooden bench set in front of the fountain, eyes closed and sun beating down on his face. Merlin was curled on his chest, sound asleep. Her tail brushed against his arm.
He felt relaxed, possibly even happy, though he wasn't quite ready to commit to that yet. Happier, at least. His body ached in all the right places, the memory of Draco and Severus etched into his muscles. He was happy with them and there was a chance, a small chance, that he could grow to become happy with his new life. He was still a long way off from that but he was beginning to accept the possibility that he could be, one day.
Merlin tensed, claws digging into his chest as she sat upright. She growled lightly, a sound usually reserved for whenever Ron visited.
Harry's heart shot into his throat, cutting off his breath as he jerked upright. Merlin landed in his lap, just as tense as Harry felt. His hands clenched around the wooden slats of the bench, as if by holding on, he could keep the wave of emotion threatening to overwhelm him from carrying him away.
"Mister Potter." Tiny feet sounded on the cobblestone, coming closer. He'd hoped to forget that voice but he knew he never, ever would.
"Addfwyn." He straightened, putting his bare feet on the cobblestones. He felt a bit better with solid ground beneath him. "Are you alone?" He strained his ears for the scrape of Teleri's claws on the stone and the sound of his heavy breathing.
"I am, Mister Potter." The tiny feet stopped by the far side of the fountain. Its music had died completely, leaving the garden unnaturally quiet. Harry couldn't remember the fountain ever stopping. "I came to warn you."
"You must hide, Mister Potter. They are coming for you." He could hear a faint shuffling. It reminded him of the way Dobby would wring his hands when worried. "They were quite displeased that you have escaped and they have found you. They are coming to finish what they started."
A piercing howl came from the forest. Merlin shrieked and bolted over the back of the bench. Wood creaked and Harry heard leaves swaying. He lurched to his feet and froze, panic filling his mind. For a moment he forgot where he was. He didn't know where the house was. All he wanted to do was run but he couldn't be sure whether he was running to or from safety.
A second roar sounded, giving Harry all the reference he needed. He turned and fled, running away from the approaching monster. He tripped on the cobblestone, catching himself on a small statue and knocking it over in the process. He trampled through Severus's carefully plotted herbs but he couldn't feel too bad, not when he knew what was coming for him from the forest.
"Severus!" He had to be nearing the door. "Draco!" He prayed that they heard him.
A spell hit him, slapping against his back in a familiar burst of magic. Pain erupted down his spine. He screamed and crumpled onto the cobblestones. The pain didn't stop, even when he was down. He recognized this agony. He'd felt it before. Crucio. Over his own screaming, he heard loud snarling getting closer.
Draco set his book aside as a loud bang sounded from the garden. The cat howled and scrambled down the hall, towards Severus's study. He stood slowly. Something had startled the cat but it could have been anything. He strained his ears, listening carefully in case Harry needed help. Harry shouted - Severus's name first, then Draco's - and Draco was moving, his wand falling into his hand. The screaming didn't stop. He ran, robes billowing behind him as he burst out into the hall.
His stomach dropped as he reached the French doors that led to the garden. Harry was crumpled on the ground a few feet away, spasming and screaming, and there was a large black monster barreling towards them.
Draco yanked open the door and stepped outside. "Stupefy." The monster stumbled, nearly tripping into the fountain, then shrugged the spell off.
"Severus!" He used an amplification spell to make his voice carry through the mansion.
He waved his wand at Harry. "Finite Incantatem." The screaming cut off. The monster was still approaching. Draco frowned. He'd never seen a beast like that. Its jaw hung open wide as it snarled, spraying large droplets of drool across the garden. Draco pointed his wand. "Confringo."
A gout of flame shot from Draco's wand. It hit the monster square in the chest, causing it to rear backwards with a howl. Smoke rose from the creature but it didn't combust like it should. Small pockets of flame appeared on its coat, not nearly enough to stop it. Still, it kept the thing distracted long enough for him to levitate Harry into the house.
"I want the boy."
Draco frowned and shifted his gaze past the snarling monster. There was a woman standing at the edge of the property, walking towards him. She was rather pretty, at least from what he could tell at a distance, but with an odd air to her. He didn't like her. He shifted his wand to point at her. She was empty handed but Draco hardly saw that as a reason to view her as any less of a threat.
"You can't have him."
The monster finished putting out the spots of fire. It looked angrier than ever but it was holding itself back, no doubt by the woman's command.
A smile spread across her face. She stared straight at him, her green eyes sparkling. "Well then, I'll just have to take you too." She started chanting, but her voice sounded distant. Draco felt his wand lowering. Her eyes were so pretty. They reminded him of Harry's. He took a step forward, towards her.
A sparkling shield appeared in front of Draco, cutting off his view of the woman. He stopped, shaking himself as he felt her control over him dissipate. Foul darkness splashed against the shield, washing over it like swamp water. It smelled as foul as the Castle he and Harry had investigated. Footsteps sounded behind him but he didn't need to turn to know who it was. He took a step back, closer to Severus and lifted his wand once more. The doors shut and another protection charm was whispered. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a brief flash as the spell washed over the entire house.
"He'll be safe in there," Severus said as he stepped in line with Draco.
"Don't look at her. She's got some kind of hypnosis tied to her eyes."
Snape's response was cut off as the monster snarled and launched itself towards them. They raised their wands at the same time. Draco followed Severus's Blasting Curse with a Body-Bind Curse. The creature tripped, snarled, and righted itself.
"It has some kind of immunity." Draco shot another Blasting Curse, this time at the woman. The monster stepped in the way.
"So I see."
The calm in Severus's voice was infectious. Draco felt himself relax slightly, settling into his usual confidence. "Plan?"
Severus's lips curled just a fraction. "Look around you."
Draco's eyes did a quick scan of the garden. He smirked as well. "Near or far?"
"Far." The amount of venom in Severus's tone could have killed a bear. Draco felt much the same.
They raised their wands again. The monster chuckled and stepped closer. It pressed against the shield Severus had thrown up and passed through it with minimal resistance. A few more steps and it'd be able to reach them.
The statues situated across the garden shivered as one and turned towards the monster. Draco had never noticed until now just how many there were. They blended into the foliage, obscured from view. Each and every one of them had something pointed in hand and they leveled all their stonework weapons at the monster. Two cherubs circled the monster's head, pelting it with tiny stone arrows. The monster flailed, trying to swat them away but that only left his legs open to attack from a hoard of garden gnomes. A large stone serpent reared up behind the creature.
At the same time, the trees at the edge of the forest started to creak and sway. The woman turned, her eyes going wide as four trees launched themselves towards her. She raised both arms and started chanting. The trees burst into flames but kept moving forward.
A loud clanking echoed through the house, rattling the French doors. They opened and eight suits of full plate stepped out, marching past the two wizards to form a circle of steel around the monster. It howled and disappeared from view behind the wall of metal. The snake hissed and lunged into the fray.
Draco and Severus shared a quick glance, nodding once to each other before pointing their wands. The woman was distracted by the trees swooping around her.
"Confringo." Two streams of fire burst from their wands, twining together a few feet away, hitting the woman in the back as one conjoined stream. She screamed once and exploded, sending a cloud of dark smoke rolling out over the lawn. A second burst came from the circle of statues. The armor stilled and slowly pulled away. There was only a charred spot on the ground where the monster had stood.
Severus cast a series of quick searching charms, followed by numerous protection spells and wards. The woman and her monster were both gone, leaving behind two burn marks and the nauseating smell of swamp. Draco fixed both with a wave of his wand and then set the statues to repairing what they could of the garden.
He turned and followed Severus into the house just as Harry started to wake up.
Severus resisted the urge to survey the damage wrought on his garden. From the sound of things, Draco had cleanup underway and there were more important things to see to. He knelt on the floor at Harry's side, casting a quick series of diagnostic charms to make sure Harry was okay. Aside from a few scrapes and bruises, handled easily enough with a muttered Episkey, he seemed alright.
Harry groaned and sat up slowly, clutching a hand to his head. He'd need a potion to clear away the after effects of whatever had hit him and another to calm his nerves, likely. There was a faint tremble to Harry's hands, though Severus couldn't tell if it was from fear or nerves.
"How do you feel?"
"Cruciated." Harry pushed the hair from his forehead and looked up. His eyes widened.
Severus frowned. He raised his wand to run another diagnostic, to figure out what was wrong, but something in Harry's gaze stopped him. It was focused. Harry was looking straight at him, his eyes wide with surprise. Harry's gaze shifted, looking over Severus's shoulder to where Draco was standing.
A blinding smile split Harry's face. "I can see." He launched himself forward, nearly knocking Severus over as he wrapped his arms around Severus's neck. Harry was laughing and crying and trembling all at once.
Draco knelt next to them, a silly grin on his face. Harry pulled away from Severus and launched himself at Draco. Severus couldn't help but smile at the picture they made.
"What did you do?" Harry asked. "How did you fix it?"
Draco and Severus shared a glance over Harry's shoulder.
"I don't know." Severus stood slowly. He was too old to be on the floor for so long.
"There was the monster," Draco explained. Harry's laughter cut off suddenly and he pulled away to stare out at the ruined garden. "He's dead," Draco added quickly. While they couldn't be sure that was exactly the case, it seemed a reasonable enough assumption. "That woman too."
"She's the one who cast the ritual?" Severus asked. "The night you escaped."
Harry nodded. He swallowed and plucked at the carpet. "The monster was her servant. From the caves." Harry shuddered again. "She must have taken my magic. That's how she got in. I mean, through your wards. They would have recognized me, or my magic, I mean."
Severus wondered how prominently that black beast featured in the many nightmares Harry had had since his kidnapping. He kept that thought to himself and extended his hands down to Draco and Harry. "Come on. Up off the floor. Harry needs rest and we need to clean up."
They took his hands and it felt right.
Harry knew he hadn't had as many boxes as Draco did. He was certain of it. When they'd cleaned out his apartment, it had seemed like a lot, at least to him. He was used to being contained in a cupboard and given the chance to expand and a whole apartment to himself, he'd somehow managed to accumulate quite a lot of things. Draco had more. A lot more. Admittedly, Draco had a whole mansion to call his own, and he thankfully wasn't taking all of it. His mother still lived there and his father would someday return.
There were extra rooms in Severus's manor. Two new bedrooms had sprouted off the master one though they were hardly used for anything beyond storage. The master bedroom was bigger now too, filling out to accommodate its increased occupancy. The bed was larger too, though it had been fairly massive to begin with. Harry wasn't sure whether he missed the old one or not. It had fit them all decently, but it had forced closer quarters. Likely he was still going to get smooshed in the middle but he really didn't mind that, not in the slightest.
"Is that all of it?" Harry asked as yet another load of boxes floated through the floo.
"Almost." Draco called from the other side.
Harry shot an exasperated look at Severus but Severus only smiled and directed the boxes up the stairs. He sighed loudly.
Another set of boxes floated through, followed a few minutes later by Draco. He leaned down to call a farewell through the floo. The green fire sputtered and died, shrinking down to normal reddish orange flames.
Harry arched an eyebrow. "You do know you have far too much stuff."
Draco smirked back. "Or I have just enough and you have too little."
"Bickering won't get Draco unpacked any faster, boys," Severus drawled from the doorway.
"I wasn't aware we were in any sort of rush." Harry grinned. He still couldn't quite believe that he was living here. Again. Only it was more formal this time and he wasn't the only one sharing the space. Maybe with Draco for balance, they could keep things from ending as badly as they had last time.
A faint smile tainted Severus's lips. He turned and followed the boxes upstairs. "I was under the impression that you wanted to try out that new bed, Harry."
Harry and Draco looked at each other. Similar grins stretched across their faces.
"Race you," Harry said and took off running.
Draco caught him on the first step, pulling him off balance and throwing Harry over his shoulder. Harry laughed and accepted it gracefully. He didn't mind being caught, as long as it was by Draco or Severus.
Spells used: (Mostly standard, some not)
Resigno Spiritus - Locate Spirit
Propalo - Make visible (anti-invisibility)
Specialis Revelio Totalum - Area-effect version of Scarpin's Revelaspell
Loco X - Find X
Finite Incantatem - Negate spell effect
Revelio - Reveal
Sententia - Diagnose Injuries
Lumos - Light
Fidelius - Secret Keeping spell
Obliviate - Memory Charm
Accio - Summoning spell
Crucio - Cruciatus Curse
Stupefy - Stunning spell
Confringo - Blasting curse
Protego Horribilis - Protection vs Dark Magic
Piertotum Locomotor - Animate statues and armor for protection
Mobiliarbus - Lifts trees
Episkey - Heal minor injuries