Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 12 :: Unexpected

12 • Unexpected

Tom was both happy and sad when Harry decided he had finally been “taught” enough for one evening. He ached with an unholy desire to drag Harry to his suite and push him down onto his bed. Clothes would have been incidental to his plans. However, he had meant what he said, and had every intention of sticking to it. He rather thought that Harry had no true idea of what he was doing to him. Perhaps he was being excessively vain when he thought he would have no trouble making the experience a pleasurable one for Harry, but it was far too soon for such intimacy. Harry wasn’t a toy, or a peon, or anything else that could be treated so casually.

He smiled softly when he heard the unmistakable sound of a yawn and glanced down. Harry’s head was resting on his chest as though it were a pillow and there was a faint smile on his lips. Once again, Harry had surprised him, and he was not at all unhappy at having suffered that reaction. He mentally added bold to Harry’s attribute list. Very bold, deciding to be that blunt. Very brave, deciding to go with a presumable gut instinct and confront him.

Harry had made it exceptionally clear that he had become attached. He had looked desperate when he uttered that plea, not that it had been Tom’s intention to go anywhere. Was he still wearing so much of a mask around Harry? Or was Harry just very bad at interpreting tone or expression? He supposed it didn’t matter all that much, especially if they both tried, at least, to stop making assumptions so often about what the other was thinking, or meant by something.

Harry shifted against him, bringing one hand up to clutch at Tom’s shirt, and yawned a second time. It seemed his Harry was going to fall asleep. “Harry?” he said softly.

“Mm.”

“Wake up a little. Let’s get you to bed.” He watched as Harry’s brow puckered, and arched a brow. Was that irritation? He tried again. “Harry?” He sighed when he received no answer. Tom briefly considered simply taking Harry to his own bed, but decided it would be better to place the young man in the same bed he had used previously, even if it would have been nice to curl up against him in sleep. When Harry gave a soft snore Tom rolled his eyes and began shifting, carefully moving the limp body in his arms as he rose to a sitting position.

Harry didn’t even twitch, never mind wake up, so Tom struggled to his feet and began the trek to Harry’s room.

*

Harry stretched, feeling really very good, though he wasn’t quite sure why. Until, that is, his memory of the evening before returned to him, at which point he felt that now familiar heat flush his cheeks. He rolled over and buried his face in his pillow, not that it helped, as the pillow was fairly warm already. Harry flopped over and sighed. He’d blushed more in the past twenty four hours than he could remember doing his whole life.

“I definitely got my forfeit, though.” With a wicked grin he slipped out of bed and padded into the bathroom, intent on nothing more than getting in a shower and hunting down breakfast afterward. The mirror stopped him, though, and he gazed with wide eyes at his reflection.

“I feel different,” he whispered, “so why don’t I look different?” He touched his lips with hesitant fingers, then shook his head. “I’m just being an ass,” he told himself, then stripped off his clothing so he could take a shower.

A short time later he walked into the kitchen and stopped dead. Tom was already seated, gazing silently out the window at what looked to be a beautiful day. Harry stepped up behind him, raising one of his hands with a mind to touch him, then started violently as a hand whipped back to hold his wrist.

“Good morning, Harry,” Tom said, pulling his wrist forward and around, then dropping a kiss on the back of Harry’s hand. “I could see your reflection in the window, in case you were wondering.”

Harry exhaled heavily. “You shouldn’t scare me like that.”

“You don’t like it when I make your heart race, Harry?” Tom twisted in his seat and smiled over his shoulder. “Hungry?”

“Yes,” he whispered, not sure which question he was answering. Tom released his wrist so he placed it on the other man’s shoulder and leaned in to brush lips, then straightened and pulled out a chair for himself.

“Harry?”

The look on Tom’s face made him wary and uncertain. He felt for a moment like everything was about to come crashing down and leave him sitting there gasping in pain. “Yes?”

“You do realize you snore, right?”

Harry blinked and shot him a look of blatant incredulity. After a moment he shook his head and snorted. “I think you just like seeing me blush.”

“That I do. In fact—”

But whatever it was he had been about to say was cut off by the arrival of Dobby with two heaping plates. “Master is to be eating!” the elf said brightly, deftly sliding one of them under Harry’s nose. “Dobby is being back later to see if master is wanting more.” After putting the other plate in from of Tom, Dobby bounced off.

Harry buried his face in his hands and bit his lip, wondering how on earth he had ever managed to gain the little elf as his friend, and what he had done to deserve such a cheerful little shadow as his ally.

“Harry?” Tom sounded worried.

He looked up and summoned a smile. “I’m fine. I just wonder about him sometimes.”

Tom arched a brow and smirked. “No, you wonder about yourself, more accurately,” he said, then lifted his fork. “No fear. We can sort each other out. How are you feeling this morning?”

“Strange,” Harry replied honestly. “A little disconnected. But good.”

Tom eyed him for a moment. “No regrets?”

“None,” Harry said firmly, then eyed him back. “You?”

“None whatsoever.”

“How does a person change identity?” he asked, then forked up some eggs.

“Illegally.” Harry gave him a slightly exasperated look for his brevity, which prompted Tom to say, “The powers that be don’t like it when people recreate themselves, and they definitely don’t like that it requires certain rituals.”

“Which are?”

“It might spoil your breakfast,” Tom pointed out.

Harry shrugged. “I have a cast iron stomach, as they say.”

“All right. The first step involves finding the right target specimen, then digging up their remains from wherever they’re buried.”

Harry coughed and massaged his forehead with his free hand.

“When I say the right target specimen, I mean someone with the surname you’re after. Gender doesn’t really matter, nor does the target’s given name, though it helps if they match up properly. It’s just more difficult if they don’t.”

“I sincerely doubt we’re going to find a dead Ash Riley.”

“No, but we can find a Riley. After that it’s a matter of rituals to switch the family association. Blood is best, but barring that, other . . . materials . . . will suffice. When you come right down to it, it’s fairly disgusting.”

“Does it matter if the specimen”—Harry grimaced—“is a muggle?”

Tom shook his head. “It isn’t like you’re adopting anything other than the name.”

“And then you politely put things back where they came from?”

“That about covers it.”

“And what happens if someone questions you with veritaserum?”

“That’s the beauty of it, Harry. You may know you were born with a different name, but magically speaking, your new name is the truth, so that’s what you’d end up saying if asked.”

Harry was more or less glad at that point that he had stopped tasting his food. The idea of actually digging up bodies was more of an off-putting concept than he had been prepared for. He gave Tom a lopsided smile and said, “I suppose I see why it’s illegal, but neither of us is very good at sticking to the rules.”

Tom chuckled and took another bite.

“I don’t . . . want your hair colour to change.”

Tom glanced at him, then quickly looked back over his shoulder. Harry, confused, looked as well, and saw Snape just stepping into the room. He swept over to a spot by Tom and said, “Albus changed his plans. He’s sending people after Potter this afternoon.”

“Today?”

“Did I stutter, Potter?”

“Then we certainly have time to finish breakfast,” Tom said evenly. “Will you be joining us, Severus?”

“No,” he said flatly, then, “I ate hours ago.”

“Do you have any idea why he changed the plans?” Tom asked.

“He seems to have become uneasy over the fact that Potter hasn’t stepped foot outside the house since he returned to it.”

“You mean my watcher was actually good for something for once?” Harry asked incredulously.

Snape sneered at him and said, “It seems so.”

Harry dropped his gaze, angry, though not at Snape. “Thank you, professor,” he said a few seconds later, lifting his chin.

For that he received another sneer and the question, “For what, Potter?”

Harry tilted his head, his brows raising fractionally. “For standing by your side of the agreement, sir.”

“Harry?” Tom interjected, capturing his attention away from Snape. “Do you mind if I—” He stopped, frowned, then sent, :—if I tell him about your plans to speak to the sorting hat?:

:I’m not sure why you’d want to, but I guess I don’t mind.:

Tom nodded and said, “I assume he won’t be sending you as part of the group, Severus.”

Snape snorted.

“Even if you aren’t hungry, you can sit down, Severus. I’m getting a crick in my neck.”

“Perhaps if you were taller?”

Harry snickered and quickly forked up more of his eggs. The remainder of the meal was largely silent, the inclusion of Snape having put a damper on free speech. Harry didn’t think it was very polite to talk behind his back, either, mind to mind. Dobby eventually bounced over and gathered up the plates with a questioning look.

“I’m fine, Dobby. Thank you. I need to go pack up my things.”

“Master is leaving early?”

“Afraid I have to,” Harry replied. “I’ll need your help with that, actually.”

“Master has only to ask,” Dobby said, then bounced off with the dishes.

“I’m going to pack. I’ll see you in a little while,” Harry said as he rose.

“Don’t forget those books,” Tom said.

Harry gave each of them a nod, then headed for the sitting room, taking long enough to scoop up his gifts before making his way to the bedroom he used. Dobby was already waiting, and had already packed up his few belongings.

“How is master needing Dobby to help?”

Harry dropped onto the bed and handed Dobby the books. “Professor Dumbledore is sending people to pick me up today, not next week. We can’t wait until it’s dark for me to sneak back in, so I would like you to jump me into my room once we’re close enough. Is that all right?”

“Dobby is being happy to help master. But Dobby is being sad.”

“Why is that?”

“Dobby knows that he cannot see master until master returns to Hogwarts.”

Harry smiled. “It’s only two weeks, Dobby, and you can visit Tom if you want. I know he likes you. You’re right, though. I don’t think it would be so easy for you to sneak into headquarters to see me. I’ll probably be sharing a room with Ron again, also. I think if you were seen, everyone would start thinking something was drastically wrong. The only other time you did, that they know of, was back in second year.”

Dobby nodded. “Dobby will come if master calls.”

“I guess we should get back to the others. Snape said this afternoon, but I get the feeling we’ll be going much sooner than that.”

*

“Since when is Potter the elf’s master?”

“Since Dobby requested it. The little fellow was quite insistent, as I recall. His level of devotion goes above and beyond the normal bond.”

“How nice for you,” Severus said snidely. “You get two for the price of one.”

Tom shrugged. “I don’t mind. Dobby has something most house-elves lack, a distinct personality and a definite backbone, not to mention intelligence and initiative. Being bonded to Harry will simply encourage those qualities. He is . . . unique.”

“You’re going soft,” Severus accused.

“Am I? Would you like some fun from old times? A little Cruciatus, perhaps? Or shall we go find a hapless muggle to torture and kill for no particular reason?”

“I don’t believe you would.”

“True. But if you vex me enough, I might get creative with you, Severus.”

“And here I thought we were becoming friends,” Severus said with no little sarcasm.

Tom slung an elbow onto the table and used his hand to support his head. “Aren’t we?” he said seriously. “If not, tell me now, Severus, so I don’t burden you with anything approaching normality. We’ll all simply get through this, and then you’ll be free to do as you please with the rest of your life.” For some reason, Tom thought Severus looked a little shocked by that. He was not surprised when the subject was abruptly changed.

“How do you expect to get Potter back into the house without anyone noticing?”

“Dobby. As I said, he’s a unique little fellow. All I need to do is get Harry close enough, and a portkey will take care of that.”

“Then you won’t be needing my assistance,” Severus stated.

“For that, no. But there is something I’d like to talk to you about once I get back, if you can spare the time.”

“I can.”

“I shouldn’t be gone for”—he smiled as Harry and Dobby walked back into the kitchen—“very long. I’ll find you when I return.” Tom stood up and said to Harry, “Let us go find something suitable for a portkey.”

Harry nodded and knelt for a moment to whisper something to the elf, then rose and exited back into the hall. Tom followed, pausing only long enough to take Harry’s hand in his own, then continued on to his study. Once inside he closed the door with a backward push of his foot, then stepped forward and turned. Harry looked angry and forlorn at the same time.

Tom kept his smile hidden, instead reaching out to brush the side of Harry’s face with his fingers. “I’ll be close enough for us to talk, Harry.”

“I know. It’s still not the same, though.”

And it wouldn’t be. He also felt the stirrings of sadness, though he was more adept at setting those feelings aside, knowing he could do nothing to change anything. “We don’t have to go just this moment,” he offered.

Harry’s gaze met his, his face now oddly blank. “I feel silly.”

“Why?”

“I feel like a kid with a new toy that someone is trying to take away,” Harry replied, a faint hint of colour staining his cheeks.

Tom grinned. “I find your honesty admirable, though I’m not so sure how to take being compared to a toy.”

“Remind me otherwise,” Harry said boldly, his expression still blank.

“Is my Harry flirting with me?” he murmured.

“Your Harry wants to be kissed.”

“Far be it from me to say no,” he replied, pulling Harry closer and tilting his head before leaning in. He had barely touched his lips to Harry’s when he felt those beneath his part in invitation, and he gladly accepted, probing forward gently with his tongue. He smiled into the kiss when he felt Harry’s hands at his back and hip.

For having so little practice, Harry had picked things up remarkably fast. Tom felt a pleasant sensation wend its way down his spine and encircle his body, and stifled the urge to grind his hips against the younger man’s, inwardly cursing the day he had decided to become a nice guy. Then Harry did it for him, coaxing a soft groan from his throat as he felt himself being pushed backward.

He hit the desk seconds later, hard enough to knock over the lamp. Harry didn’t pause or even appear to have noticed the crash as it hit the floor. Tom smiled into the kiss a second time, briefly, amused and delighted that Harry could be so aggressive. He was setting himself up for a lifetime with someone who would not be easily subdued, and for the first time in his life, that was a good realization.

Still, Harry wasn’t quite there yet. Tom raised a hand to thread his fingers into Harry’s hair, then pulled, sliding his mouth away and down so that he could bite Harry’s neck, and bite harder when he heard Harry’s ragged breathing and felt the clutching of his fingers. Eventually, reluctantly, Tom lifted his head and relaxed his hold.

Harry opened his eyes and blinked rapidly several times, then furrowed his brow and sighed. “I suppose. . . .”

“That I should make a portkey,” Tom finished, then gave him a quick kiss. “Let me go,” he said as his arms dropped. “The longer we delay, no matter how enjoyable that delay is, the more of a chance that something will go wrong.”

“Yes, but I don’t have to like it,” Harry said somewhat sulkily, releasing him.

Tom understood, or thought he did. He wasn’t exactly keen on Harry being anywhere near Dumbledore. “If it makes you feel any better, I would love to say the hell with all of this and simply grab you and run, but it doesn’t work that way. We have to be patient, annoying as that is.” He rummaged through one of his drawers until he located another disc, then set it for a spot near Privet Drive. “Does Dobby have your things?” he asked as he rounded the desk so he could stand next to Harry again.

“Yeah. He’s probably already taken them back.”

Tom wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist, then held out the disc and said, “Then let us go.”

They arrived in Little Whinging, in the center of a clump of high bushes that provided decent cover from the surrounding area. Tom slipped the disc into his pocket. “Once I’m done talking to Severus I’ll head to London, all right? I won’t be far away. And, Harry, consequences be damned. If something scares you badly enough to want to run, call Dobby to get you out of there.”

“Scares me?”

“That could mean any number of things, like Dumbledore deciding that veritaserum would be fun to use to see why you’ve been antisocial.”

Harry cracked a slight smile. “Yeah. All right. Not scared, threatened.”

Tom chuckled. “Threatened.”

Harry closed his eyes for a second, opening them at the sound of a slight pop. “I’m ready, Dobby,” he said, clasping the elf’s hand.

Tom waited after they disappeared, giving it several minutes before sending, :Harry?:

:I’m fine. Dobby just left, and I made sure that he knew he might be called on in an emergency.:

:I’ll go talk to Severus, then, and head out directly after. I’ll try to reach you from there, and if I cannot, let me know when you arrive, okay?:

:I will, I promise. Talk to you soon.:

Tom apparated into his audience chamber and headed for the kitchen to stop the first elf he saw. “Where did Severus go?”

“He is being in your study, master.”

Tom nodded and turned, then paused to look over his shoulder and say, “Thanks,” before continuing on. He found Severus reading in one of the armchairs, and noticed that the lamp was back on his desk, repaired. “Severus, thank you for waiting,” he said as he slipped into the chair behind his desk.

After lowering the book Severus said, “What was it you wished to discuss?”

“At some point it is very likely that Harry is going to request to speak with the sorting hat. And while the purpose is merely to talk, there could be possible repercussions to that action.”

“Such as?”

“Severus, the hat wanted to place him in Slytherin.” Tom was silent for a time, letting that revelation sink in before speaking again. “As I said, Harry simply wants to see if the hat knows anything of interest, but there is the barest possibility that it might attempt to re-sort him at that time.”

“You’re telling me that Potter rejected a placement?”

“Yes.”

Severus closed his book and rose to place it back on the shelf. Without turning he said, “So I may end up with Potter in my house. How delightful. Do you have any concept of how much trouble that would cause?”

“Of course I do, which is why I’m warning you ahead of time. And if it does happen, I am willing to sneak into the castle to personally erect protections on the room he ends up in.”

“Yes, praise Slytherin for advocating separate rooms for upperclassmen. That won’t stop him from being attacked in the common room should the students choose to fly in the face of tradition.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for those Slytherin students so inclined to corrupt Harry, not attack him?” Tom countered.

Severus turned to face him with a magnificent scowl disfiguring his face. “What makes you think Albus would even allow the boy to be moved, even if the hat did re-sort?”

Tom slowly shook his head. “Severus, if Albus is what I suspect him to be, that should be obvious. But I won’t have a chance of knowing if Harry doesn’t speak to the hat. If he is, in fact, engineering a situation where Harry and Voldemort kill each other, then why would he object? He might be so foolish as to believe that Harry could play spy in the serpent’s den, or that he could be down there converting the heathens. He might believe that Harry isn’t nearly tough enough at this point and could do with more of being roughed up to harden his heart against the ultimate enemy. It is also possible that he could become angry at the risk to Harry’s life and choose to place Harry in separate quarters, apart from the rest of the house, or even ignore the hat’s decision.”

Severus snorted and tossed his hair back. “I fail to see why Albus would allow the boy to speak with the hat in the first place.”

“Because he knows that Harry rejected the placement. This would be an opportunity in his mind to reinforce his control. Allowing Harry access—naturally, Harry is still torn up over this, even after all this time—would presumably settle things once and for all. Harry finally lays a demon to rest and ends up secure in the knowledge that he is indeed a Gryffindor, and all is right with the world.” Tom rolled his eyes slightly, then arched a brow.

“And if not,” Severus said thoughtfully, “then the boy would look to Albus as his only guide.”

“Yes.”

“What is it that you wish me to do, then?”

“Don’t destroy Dumbledore’s office if you’re called up and told that Harry has been re-sorted. I’m not sure how much good a pep talk would do with the students, though, but if the worst were passed a message from Voldemort. . . .”

“I presume your other request still stands.”

“Of course.”

“Very well. Was that all?”

“Yes, you may go if you wish.” He watched as Severus nodded and swept out, then rose and headed for his suite to pack.