Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Forsaken :: 14 :: Union

14 • Union

“Hmm, speaking of which, I suppose I should apologize to Severus.”

“Sorry?”

“The theft. Ron and I caused a distraction so Hermione could slip into his office and liberate some boomslang skin.” Brand let his head fall back against the sofa. “As I said, I’ve been in the Slytherin common room. We made polyjuice potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, though it was mainly Hermione who managed it. After we secured hairs from the right people, we waltzed right on in, so to speak, though lumbered might be a more accurate assessment.”

He lifted his head to glance at Draco and continued, “You may or may not recall a conversation you had with Crabbe and Goyle about the Heir of Slytherin on Christmas day second year. We thought you might know who it was, that’s all. The point is, he’s always suspected Harry of being the thief. I thought perhaps he might like to know the truth.”

He paused, then said, “Of course, he also suspects that Harry stole gillyweed from him as well, but that was Dobby, and I didn’t know anything about it until Dobby came to shake me out of bed the day of the second task to give it to me and make sure I actually arrived.”

The corner of Remus’s mouth was twitching, but it was Draco’s thoughtful look that had Brand say, “Hm?”

“And what about Granger?”

“Sorry? What about her?”

“Have you considered whether or not she would switch sides?”

“Either you’ve mellowed, Draco, or you’re being extraordinarily nice to me today.”

Draco snorted. “She isn’t all that bad, Brand. Weasley, on the other hand. . . . In any case, she is quite intelligent, and could be very valuable. She’s also muggle-born, which means it’s very likely that she won’t hold wizarding prejudices against gays. Assuming that is the case, if she knew what Dumbledore did to Harry, I think she would feel betrayed as well.”

Brand combed his hair back and considered. “I’m not sure how father would react to that.”

“You can always ask. The worst he can do is say no.”

“Yes, I know. But we’re currently planning a fake attack because of her. I realize she won’t be harmed, but. . . .” He sighed and rolled his eyes. “And we’d be right back where we were with the twins—ascertaining whether or not she’s prejudiced.”

“Well, she isn’t a member of the Order—yet,” said Remus. “For some odd reason, Albus tends to wait until people are at least eighteen and out of school, not that it makes any sense in her case. At any rate, no matter how valuable she could be, she was another tie to bind Harry in some ways, so he may not care about her at this point.”

“All right, but that doesn’t explain how we’d get at her.”

Remus shrugged. “I’m sure we could think of something. Though, if she found out what Albus wanted me to do, that would be another step in the right direction. Except, I don’t see how that could be accomplished offhand. You’re right—it doesn’t answer the question about her feelings.”

“I can’t very well imagine father sending out love notes to all Order members,” Brand said dryly.

“You could do something a bit odd, Brand.”

“Such as?” he asked Draco.

“Visit her. Show her memories, like you did with Remus. If she reacts badly—for us, I mean—obliviate her. Of course, use that little trick of yours first, so even if the charm was broken, she couldn’t reveal anything. I’m not saying you should come right out and say who you once were.”

“She might attempt to find employment within the ministry, Brand,” Remus offered. “Depending on who you have hiding in there, you might be able to take the place of one of our own people for an interview. Place coercions on her, show her the memories, and go from there. Either way, you can make sure she gets the job she wants, right?”

“I suppose so. Mind you, the potential list of people who know who the hell I was seems to keep growing.” Brand buried his face in his hands.

“Don’t you consider her family?” Draco asked leadingly.

Brand peeked out from between his fingers and sighed. “Yes, but it isn’t as though I felt that way about you or Severus. Are you sure you’re feeling okay, Draco?”

“Don’t be absurd. I almost never do anything without an ulterior motive,” Draco said loftily.

“Right. Sure. I don’t want to think about this right now. I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”

*

Shortly after breakfast the next day, Voldemort summoned Brand to his private study. Once Brand was seated, his father said, “Well, my son, the girl has arrived. Once she has settled into the provided suite, we can proceed with the plans for gaining you an heir. Do you have any wish to meet her?”

Brand tilted his head back slightly, then said, “No. I’d really rather not, father. I’m having enough trouble with the idea of being a father myself at my age.”

Voldemort smirked and nodded. “If you feel comfortable with it, Severus can handle the actual details, then. Because we do not want to have to modify the memories of too many people, her condition will be concealed. I do suggest that you ought to see her at least once—another guise will suffice—to place coercions to prevent her from mentioning it. Once she has fulfilled her role, I or you can wipe out the pertinent memories. As it is, she has no idea who she is playing brood mare for.”

“I suppose. I could go in to introduce Severus to her. As you say, I could be someone else. After that, though. . . .”

“Understood. I have not yet heard any word from Lucius on Draco’s heir. Have you?”

Brand shook his head. “Aside from him writing to Draco that day and saying Narcissa was in an agreeable mood, no.” Then he sighed and gave his father a speculative look.

“What is it?”

“Sometimes I wonder. Ever since I told Draco who I was, he keeps coming up with such odd suggestions, things for me to consider.”

“How do you mean?”

Brand shrugged. “He suggested the twins. Now he’s suggesting Hermione. He even brought up family, possibly because of Remus. It’s like . . . he wants me to be happy. Not just because of being with him, but. . . . I don’t know. It confuses me.”

Voldemort gave him an odd look, then said, “I think it is safe to say you were right about one thing. Your childhood. . . . Brand, I believe you are missing the obvious in this instance.”

“Huh?”

“Draco loves you. He just might not have said it in those exact words.”

Brand blinked several times and gave his father an incredulous look.

“As far as that goes, if you wish to consider bringing your friend Hermione in, I will not object. I have faith you can figure out a reasonable plan for doing so which will not put us at risk. And as I’ve said before, if you are happy, so am I.”

“Even though she’s a muggle-born?”

“You’re the one who won’t let me sink into further hypocrisy, Brand,” countered Voldemort. “Would I be any better if I were to deny you this? Of course, you’re also the one proposing we create our own country and kidnap all muggle-born children to be raised in an entirely magical setting. If I can even consider that as an option, it would be hypocritical of me to say that she should be denied considering who she is.”

Brand shook his head for several long moments. “I really am a bad influence on you.”

Voldemort chuckled. “I think I’ve been an influence on you as well, son.”

Brand wrinkled his nose and shrugged a shoulder. “You really think he does?”

“I consider it to be quite obvious from what you’ve told me. Perhaps you should think about that.”

“Where is she being housed?” Brand asked.

“The tower, top three floors. The sooner you get your visit over with, the sooner you can put her out of your mind.”

“As you wish, father.” Brand rose and circled the desk long enough to kiss Voldemort’s cheek, then left in a somewhat distracted state. A half hour passed as he wandered around aimlessly, considering what his father had said about Draco.

He was brought out of his thoughts abruptly on hearing, “Are you quite all right, my lord?”

Brand focused on who was standing before him, slightly off to the side. “What? Oh, sorry, Severus. I’m fine, I think.” He scratched the back of his head, then said, “Listen, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. Come up to my rooms?”

“If you like, my lord.”

Brand gave an absent nod and wheeled around, striding quickly toward his rooms. As they approached the third floor he paused long enough to adjust the wards and continued on to his suite and in, then sank down onto the couch. Several moments passed before it occurred to him to wave Severus to a seat.

“I don’t know how much father has mentioned to you, so I’ll just assume he’s said nothing. In order for me to have an heir, father has located a suitable girl. She’s arrived. Aside from placing coercions on her, I don’t particularly want to have anything to do with her. However, I was hoping you could consent to handle the . . . details. Someone has to, er. . . . And monitor her health. Would that be all right with you?”

Severus tilted his head to the side. “I do not object, my lord. I can understand the need for discretion.”

Brand waved his hand in vague irritation. “Stop that in here, please. I will take you to her, to introduce you, but I won’t go as myself. She has no idea who she’s here for.”

“All right.”

“Obviously, I have no idea how something like this is accomplished. But, there’s something else, though.” Brand glanced around, then waved his hand at both the connecting door and the one by which they had entered. Looking back at Severus he sighed and said, “This may sound silly, but, father seems to think that Draco actually loves me.”

“Of course.”

“Eh?”

Severus gave him a patient look. “It is quite obvious to anyone who bothers to look past the surface.”

Brand groaned and dropped his head back.

“You are gifted with a rather skewed sense of perception, Brand,” Severus said with some amusement. “It’s like having selective hearing, except for you, it’s more like selective sight.”

“You’re making fun of me again.”

“Why, yes, I believe I am.”

“Fine. Then I guess I am blind.”

“Brand, I get the sense you are not sure how to tell how you actually feel about it.”

“This has got to be one of the more embarrassing conversations I’ve ever had in my life,” he remarked. “But I suppose you’re right. Desire is one thing.”

Severus shrugged. “It isn’t as though I’ve had much experience myself in that arena. However, let me ask you a question. Do you love our lord?”

“Well, yes.”

“So do you feel similarly toward Draco, but with desire?”

Brand lifted his head and frowned thoughtfully. “I . . . suppose so.” Then he shook his head. “That reminds me.” He gave Severus a slightly sheepish smile. “There are a few things you might be interested to know. Maybe.”

“Oh?

“Mm. Some things from the past. Silly, perhaps, but whatever. Just to set the record straight, it was not Harry Potter who stole either boomslang or gillyweed from your stores, Severus. In the first instance, it was Hermione, though I did help provide a distraction at the time. In the second instance, it was Dobby. And, I never did apologize to you for intruding on your privacy during my fifth year. I am sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”

“Indeed. Yes, I can. I would like to believe we are long since past that time. However, though I believe I know what the gillyweed was for. . . .”

Brand grinned. “Hermione made polyjuice potion. While we didn’t really think Draco was the one who’d opened the Chamber, we did think he might know who it was. So . . . we decided to find out. Ron and I went in as Crabbe and Goyle, to the Slytherin common room. As it turned out, Draco didn’t know. But then, he wouldn’t have.”

“Granger made polyjuice in her second year?”

“Yup. Shocking, huh?”

“To say the least. I shudder to think what else you three may have done that I was not informed of.”

Brand snickered. “Maybe someday we can sit down and I’ll—“ A knock interrupted him, coming from the connecting door. “Right.” He gestured at the doors, unlocking them, then called out, “It’s open!”

The door opened a moment later and Draco sauntered in, obviously curious, but said nothing other than a hello to Severus as he took a seat next to Brand.

“You might be interested to know, Draco, that father says she’s here.”

“That was quicker than I expected. So. . . ?”

“Severus has graciously consented to assist with that. With any luck, the initial proceedings won’t take too long. Anyway, I’ll be taking Severus up a bit later today.”

“I assume you’ll be preven—”

“Yes. And her condition will be concealed. We don’t need anyone asking awkward questions.”

Draco nodded and smiled. “Then hopefully we’ll hear good news from father soon about my own situation, so to speak.”

“Also. . . .”

Draco looked at him sharply.

Brand made a show of inspecting his nails until he was nudged sharply in the side. “Hm? Oh, right. I thought about your suggestion, and mentioned it to father. He doesn’t object, so long as I don’t put us at risk.”

“Oh, really,” Draco drawled. “So, will you be checking to see if she’s interested in a job at the ministry?”

Severus arched a brow in blatant curiosity.

“I think so. I’m not sure where else Hermione would look for work to be honest.”

Severus shifted impatiently.

“Aside from suggesting we try to recruit the Weasley twins, Draco suggested Hermione as well,” he explained briefly.

“Not the younger Weasley?”

Brand shook his head. “It’s doubtful he would be able to adjust. Besides, I don’t even know that Hermione could.”

“Well, I won’t presume to question that decision.”

“It’d be as easy to ask Remus, actually, about that.”

“Brand, would you like me to check with our people in the ministry to see if she’s approached them?” Draco asked.

Brand gave him a grateful smile. “Would you?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t have offered otherwise.”

Severus shot Brand a knowing look.

“Thank you. Well, much as I dislike the idea of even meeting her . . .” He sighed. “I suppose now is as good a time as any. Care to go for a little stroll, Severus?”

*

Draco found Brand stretched out on the couch that evening and dropped to the floor beside. “Is something wrong?”

“Not exactly.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Draco, I have an important question for you.” Brand rolled over onto his side so he could see the blond more easily. “I’ve been thinking, and I believe that this is the right time to ask.”

“All right. But . . . you’re being coy again.”

Brand smiled slightly. “Maybe I’m being so on purpose?”

“Would you get to the point!?” Draco reached out and poked him in playful frustration.

“Do you think it’s time to make that mark permanent?”

“W-what?”

Brand grinned. “Did I stutter?”

Draco gave him an affronted look. “You are in a good mood, aren’t you. Does that mean. . . ?”

“I don’t know. Does it? You aren’t exactly being forthcoming yourself. At least, not directly. So, do you?”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “Yes, I do.”

“Are you busy right now?”

Draco snorted. “Yes, actually. I was planning to wash my hair. But if it’s really important to you. . . .”

Brand levered himself up to a sitting position and stretched out his hand to the side of Draco’s neck. “I asked because I finally realized how you feel, and how I feel. I guess neither one of us is very good at saying certain things. Hold still, please.”

As before, he barely touched the skin, concentrating on altering the image already present. He did not change its appearance so much as its composition, retracing the outline so that it appeared to sink slightly into Draco’s skin and take on a distinctly metallic cast rather than the previous grey.

“All right, that’s it. Are you . . . interested in celebrating?”

Draco faced him again and arched a brow. “Well, I was going to wash my hair, as I said. Maybe you could help me with that?”

“I think I could be persuaded.” Brand stood up and extended his hand again, this time to pull Draco to his feet, and lead him through the bedroom and into the bathroom. There, they undressed each other slowly, pausing frequently to kiss the rapidly appearing portions of exposed skin.

Draco was very happy to end up sitting between Brand’s legs and have his hair washed for him, and indeed, every part of his body. He was even kind enough to return the favor. Once they were nicely relaxed, they adjourned to the bedroom and stretched out on the bed for something a little more intensive.

Of course, Brand had never actually had sex. Draco had, and he was more than happy to show his mate everything he needed to know.