Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 30 :: Discomposed

30 • Discomposed

Harry slept well into the morning, eventually waking and padding out to the library in search of Tom. He found him hunched over one of the jigsaw puzzles Harry had made for him, busily hunting through the loose pieces in search of what he was looking for, so Harry folded himself down onto the floor next to him.

Tom glanced over and smiled, then said, “Morning. Though, it’ll be lunch soon enough.”

Harry yawned, casting an appraising look at the puzzle. “Remus went back to his room, I guess?”

“Yes. Dobby took him back not all that long after you went to sleep.”

“He’s probably tired. It’s really unfortunate that the full moon falls on Christmas Eve this year,” Harry remarked with a grimace, then eyed Tom carefully. “So, did you threaten him?”

“Harry, I am saddened and appalled that you think I might do something like that,” Tom said with one hand pressed against his chest.

“Uh huh. So, did you?” He might still be half asleep, but that didn’t mean he possessed lesser brain function than Crabbe or Goyle.

Tom lifted a hand and held his thumb and forefinger a short distance apart. “Just a teensy bit. Then I bullied him into trying to help with gift ideas for you.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably and glanced away. “Um, I kind of came up a total blank . . . for you.”

Tom hunted out another piece to try before he said anything. “Harry, if all I gave you for Christmas was a kiss, how would you react?”

“Favorably,” he admitted. “But I could do that for you any day.”

“That is true. However, this will be the first Christmas I’ve ever spent with someone. That alone makes it special. And given that it’s you, it’s priceless. So if you can’t think of anything, don’t obsess over it. You’ll have time enough to feel guilty next year if you still have the same problem.” Tom shot him a teasing look.

Harry chuckled and nodded. “Fair enough. It’s weird, though. I mean, it isn’t like it was ever a big deal before I came to Hogwarts. More like a cause for envy, watching Dudley get everything his heart desired while I was stuck with cleaning up after everyone else. Now that I can give gifts, and have people I care enough about to do so for, I’m at a bit of a loss at times.”

“Did you have any trouble with the others?”

Harry shifted again and aimed a somewhat sheepish look at his bonded. “Well, for Ron I traded on my name for once. I sent a letter to the Chudley Cannons and they sent back an autographed uniform. I figured, I won’t be able to do something like that for much longer, so I may as well get some use out of it while I can. Hermione is going to have a fit when she finds out.”

Tom laughed and reached over to ruffle his hair playfully.

“Hermione was easy. I got her a gift certificate to Flourish & Blotts, but specified that she wasn’t allowed to use it for next year’s school texts. Moony is a problem, though. I can think of a lot of things I could get him, but I’m worried that he’d get upset.”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“Well, like his clothes. I know it’s hard for him, and I’d love to get him a new cloak or something nice like that, but I’m afraid he might see it as criticism or charity.”

Tom shook his head. “That almost sounds like Ron getting upset over you trying to be generous. Remus will have a fit of his own once he finds out how much money you left him. Either way, he does think of you as family, Harry, so I think you should get him whatever you think he might like. I don’t think he would actually protest, but if he does, just ignore it.”

“Did he even say how long he was staying for?”

“No, you’ll need to ask him.”

So it was that Remus was next seen at lunch, though he did look rather more weary than usual. Harry took a seat to one side of him and nodded a greeting, then set about filling his plate. Ron shuffled in not long after and sat down without a word.

After giving Ron a smile Harry turned to Remus and said quietly, “Do you feel up for a walk after we eat?”

“A short one, perhaps,” was the reply.

As soon as they were done Harry and Remus left the castle to stroll across the grounds rather aimlessly. Once they were a decent distance away Harry said quietly, “I really am glad you’re here.”

“I’m happy to be here, too, Harry.”

“How long will you be staying?” he asked as he pulled his cloak around him more tightly and squinted against the reflection of the sun off the coating of snow on the ground.

“I’m not sure. I know that with the knowledge of my being a werewolf being common, there are those here who aren’t comfortable with my presence. I’ve already noticed several of the children shy away from me as it is.”

Harry frowned and stopped, then turned to face Remus. “You could stay . . . elsewhere . . . if you wanted. I mean, I know you’ll have to get back to your usual pursuits sooner or later, but. . . .”

Remus raised his brows briefly. “Are you sure about that?”

“Of course I am, and I know he likes you. He’s said so several times. And frankly, it might be a nice opportunity for both of you. I feel kind of sad at times that. . . . Well, er, it can be hard to make new friends, you know?”

“You do realize that the full moon is Christmas Eve, Harry.”

Harry nodded, then shook his head. “That doesn’t matter to me. It’s only a problem if you think it is. If you don’t want to stay, just say so, but don’t think you can’t just because of something like that. I know we can figure something out, and this way you wouldn’t be alone afterward. I could be with you.”

Remus cast a faint smile at him. “That would be nice, I admit. It can be horrible to feel so wretched, and be alone at the time.”

“I would take care of you,” Harry said immediately, reaching out to place his hand on Remus’s arm. “I’d be happy to. And I’d get to spend more time with you.”

Remus chuckled. “If we did this, I would have to appear to leave today, then come back sometime this evening.”

“That’s fine. Listen, why don’t we go back to my room and talk about this there. I can’t imagine that anyone would raise a fuss over you visiting, especially since almost every Slytherin student has gone home this year.”

Ten minutes later they were safely in Harry’s room. He had already decided that if anyone should comment he would shrug it off, or claim ignorance of whatever rule he might have broken. As soon as they were seated he said, “Tom has a rental in Hogsmeade. I don’t see why you couldn’t go there this evening. No one should even notice. I can have Dobby jump you into the Chamber at that point with no fuss. And by then I could make sure you had a place to sleep, and a place to transform safely.”

“Don’t you think you should mention this to Tom first? He might not appreciate having a guest over the holiday.”

Harry snorted softly and looked away. “I’m sure he’ll behave himself, but all right.” A second later he sent, :Tom? Do you mind if Remus spends the holiday with us in the Chamber? He doesn’t feel comfortable staying at the castle openly because of how people react to him being a werewolf.:

After a slight pause Tom responded. :If it would make you happy, I won’t object.:

:I thought it would also be a nice way for you two to talk, you know? Spend some time together.:

:I know what you’re up to, Harry, and that’s fine. I will, however, need to place some strong privacy charms on our bedroom.:

Harry laughed and sent, :Of course! Besides, you’ve said more than once how much it arouses you when I don’t hold back and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. I thought maybe he could come back this evening, to Hogsmeade, and have Dobby pick him up from that house you’ve been renting. And while we’re waiting we can set up a room for him, and a place to transform?:

:I’ll send Dobby up shortly, then.:

Harry turned back to Remus and grinned. “No problem.”

Remus, after giving a slight nod of acknowledgement, pinned him with an intent look and said, “Harry, I’ve been wondering. Are you and Tom . . . intimate?”

Harry flushed immediately. “Moony! What kind of a question is that?” As an afterthought he occluded his mind, not wanting Tom to be privy to the conversation.

“A valid one considering that you two are soul bonded. And since you have proclaimed me to be your de facto uncle, I think I can get away with asking. I’m curious to know just how far along things have gone.”

Harry ruffled his hair and looked around for a moment. “I’m not sure that’s fair.”

“Do you love him?”

Harry hesitated, then nodded. “He. . . . I haven’t actually said that to him, though. We had a conversation about love once, and I told him at the time that I didn’t know what it meant. I think he was right, though, when he said it’s different for everyone.” He blinked and looked away as Dobby popped in.

“Master Tom is asking me to deliver this, master,” Dobby said, then held out a small envelope.

“Thank you, Dobby. Did he mention our plans for later this evening?” Dobby shook his head so Harry briefly explained what he wanted, and when the elf had gone peeked into the envelope to see a piece of paper and a key. As he handed it over to Remus he said, “The address and such.”

Remus tucked it into his robes without investigating and said, “Different for everyone?”

“Well, yes. I haven’t exactly had the best examples. I know with a bond like ours it would be easy to just . . . drift, but I didn’t want that. I spent a lot of time thinking about what he said, especially his comments on love for family or friends. He hasn’t exactly had much real experience there himself.” Harry shrugged a shoulder. “I think we’ve both learned.”

“And intimacy?”

Harry rolled his eyes and shot Remus a dark look. “All right, yes, we are. And it’s bloody wonderful, too.”

Remus laughed softly and shook his head. “I’m happy to hear that, Harry. After all, some say that if you can’t even speak of it, you’ve no business doing it.”

“Yes, well. . . .” Harry thought for a moment, then aimed an innocent look at Remus. “Would you like a moment by moment detailing of our first time?”

“Ah, no, that won’t be necessary,” Remus said hastily.

“Well, all right, if you say so.”

“I think it’s time for me to return to my room and pack up my things,” Remus said, “and then go. What time would you like me to be at the house?”

*

Given that there were several chambers within the complex that they had not yet found a use for it was no great trouble to set one of them up as a spare bedroom of sorts. Obviously, whatever else Salazar had been up to when he had created the place, he had likely had it in mind for use as a second home given the layout to be found down some of the tunnels.

Another spare, possibly used as a storeroom in the past, was designated as the temporary transformation room and the door reinforced drastically. After a brief discussion Harry and Tom agreed that they would not ask Severus to brew up wolfsbane, not knowing how the man would react to such a request, or the knowledge that Remus had been added to those in the know. While they would not actively hide that news, they both thought that it should probably come out casually.

Remus arrived later that evening and pronounced the guest room to be imminently suitable after only a brief look, then stowed his small bag next to the bed and joined them in the library. He appeared to be quite grateful to sink into one of the chairs and relax.

“Is there anything special we ought to have on hand for you, Moony?” Harry asked.

Remus shook his head. “I just need to rest frequently. Sometimes I feel a bit dizzy or ill, but I’m used to that.”

“Simply call upon Dobby if you are alone and in need,” said Tom. “Harry has already been thoughtful enough to ask him to listen for you. We have also set aside a room for when you must transform so that you need not leave the Chamber complex in order to do so.”

“That’s quite kind of you. I’m sure you can show me a little later on.” Then he looked at Harry and said, “How is it that you can manage to be down here so often and no one seems to notice?”

Harry shrugged. “I don’t socialize much, except for the DA meetings. Ron, of course, and Blaise, but Blaise has no idea about this, and won’t. I mean, I spent a long time thinking about what I would do once everything was over, but I wasn’t given a real choice in the matter.”

“What do you mean?”

Harry glanced at Tom briefly, then said, “We had already discussed whether or not I would disappear in the aftermath. I wasn’t too keen on that because I thought it would be like snubbing the people I care about. But, after talking to the sorting hat, it became pretty clear that I’d have to. If Dumbledore expects that I’ll die when Voldemort does. . . .” He made an odd gesture with one hand. “If I didn’t, that either says the prophecy he heard from my mother was a complete sham, or that someone pulled a fast one on him. I think he’d start to investigate, you know? Anyway, knowing that, I realized I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t ‘defeat’ Voldemort and spend my seventh year seeing how people would end up treating me. Harry Potter must die, and I just can’t stand being trapped in this image much longer, not knowing what I do.”

“So you thought about who you could tell as a compromise.”

“Yes, exactly,” Harry said. “At any rate, since I keep to myself mostly, most people don’t have a clue what I’m up to. Hermione knows that Ron is spending time with me, but I sincerely doubt she knows where, and if Dumbledore suspects, he’s not said anything about me sneaking Ron into my room.” Harry paused, aimed a slight smirk at Tom, then said, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

Tom laughed and shook his head. “Don’t start that again.”

Harry saw the puzzlement that wrinkled Remus’s brow and explained, “I have an odd tendency to spout quotations when least expected. If nothing else, it keeps Tom amused.”

*

Tom awoke Christmas morning feeling quite satiated. Harry had been very persistent the evening before, more or less pushing him onto the bed and doing his best to ravage every inch of skin he could reach. It had been no surprise to Tom that he had shortly found himself being pressed against the mattress as Harry attempted to kiss him into insensibility while slowly preparing him. Harry had, without a doubt, learned quite well how to take control of certain situations, and Tom was certainly obliging.

He stretched, feeling Harry’s warm body pressed against his, and dropped a kiss on his bonded’s shoulder. Harry responded immediately, pushing back teasingly, then rolled over and aimed a sleepy smile at him. “Morning.”

“Good morning, Harry. Now that we’re awake, perhaps we can see about breakfast and presents?” He was mildly surprised to see Harry’s expression alter to one of worry and said, “What is it? Are you concerned about Remus?”

Harry shook his head quickly. “No, I—it’s nothing,” he said, then smiled and rolled off the bed. Within moments he had disappeared into the bathroom.

Tom felt a great deal like frowning, but did not, and instead sat up and pushed his hair back. Much as he might like the idea of peeking into Harry’s thoughts, he resisted, knowing that if Harry caught him at it, there would be hell to pay. Twenty minutes later they were both ready for the morning, though Harry was still acting a bit oddly in his opinion, and that conviction was strengthened when Harry clasped his hands behind his back and toed the carpet, not quite looking at him. Still, he waited.

“Tom, I know you said that it was enough just that we’re spending our first Christmas together, but. . . .” Harry glanced up at him briefly, then looked away. “I still feel bad that—”

“Harry, it’s all right.”

Harry shook his head and said, “Please let me finish. I tried so hard to think of something for you, and in the end, finally, I did. I think so, at least. I hope you think so, too.”

Tom crossed the room to take a seat on the bed and continued to wait as Harry turned to face him.

“It’s just—well, I don’t know.” Harry kicked at the floor, then exhaled and stepped over to sit down next to him at an angle. “The best gift I can give to you is to truthfully say . . . I love you.”

Tom watched as a slight flush stained Harry’s cheeks, then reached over to place his fingers under Harry’s chin and tip his head up. “Ah, Harry, you remind me, without meaning to, that I myself am remiss. Yes, I have admitted it in not so many words, but I have never said it, either. I do love you, Harry, and yes, I do think this is a wonderful gift. I could not have asked for anything more special.”

After a slight hesitation Harry grinned and pushed off from the bed, coming to straddle Tom not a second later and capture his mouth in a deep kiss. Five minutes later, and quite out of breath, Tom had rolled Harry onto his back and pinned his hands above his head. “I am more than willing to indulge you, but I think perhaps we should go check on Remus. If he is feeling up to it, we could all have breakfast together.”

Harry pouted for a moment, then nodded. “You’re right, though he may not be in the mood for any festivities. Still, I don’t want him to be alone, and if I were an animagus, I would have been with him last night so he had company.”

“I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to learn how to do that, Harry,” he said, then released his prey after a quick kiss.

Remus was found to be sleeping soundly, so Tom and Harry crept back out of the room and called for Dobby, who informed them that he had tucked Remus in several hours back and would bring him to the library once he had awoken. He then told them rather imperiously that they would be eating breakfast in a few minutes and to please go get comfortable, then popped out without waiting for a response.

*

As it was, they had decided to wait on the opening of presents until both Ron and Remus could be with them. Ron had long since arrived, thanks to Dobby, and was currently engaged in a game of chess with Tom, much to Harry’s amusement, while he read one of the many muggle fiction books that Tom had brought in from his own collection.

He was just turning the page when Remus was popped into a chair and fussed over by Dobby, who insisted on tucking a blanket around him just so and pestering him to find out if there was anything in particular that he needed. Remus waved him off with repeated reassurances, though he did allow that some tea to help settle his stomach would be nice.

“I’m so glad to see you awake,” said Harry, setting down his book. He glanced over at Tom and Ron, then leaned across the table between him and Remus to whisper, “I told him, this morning.”

Remus furrowed his brow, leading Harry to believe he was being a bit too cryptic, so he whispered, “Remember when we were talking before, in my room? I told him, how I feel.”

Remus’s face relaxed into a smile as he nodded. “Judging by your demeanor, I’m going to assume things went well, then.”

“Definitely, though I was pretty nervous at the time,” he replied, then in a louder voice said, “Do you feel up to opening presents?”

Remus was subsequently visibly surprised when the first gift he opened, from Harry, was revealed to be a pendant much like the one Harry already wore, though it was fashioned from platinum rather than silver, as was the chain.

Harry, taking in the look on Remus’s face, was moved to explain. “Since it’s linked up with a Protean Charm to one that I have, you’ll know when I’m thinking of you,” he said, then pulled out his own pendant, revealing that it was actually two, one in front of the other.

“Yes, but. . . .” Remus indicated the front face; on it was an etching of four creatures.

“Oh, that.” Harry ruffled his hair and gave Remus a lopsided smile. “I know it seems strange, Moony, but you were all friends once. It seems to me that even if Peter did, er, make mistakes, that he shouldn’t be remembered just for that, right? So I included him. I hope you don’t mind.”

Remus looked down for a moment, then put on the chain. “No, you’re right, I suppose. We did have many good times together. Thank you, Harry.”

The surprise gift for Harry was a long, narrow box from Tom, which immediately made him suspicious. On opening it he nodded, cast an arch look at his bonded, and pulled out a wand made of some dark wood he could not put a name to. Almost instantly he felt a dizzying rush of power sweep his body and gasped.

“Would I be wrong in thinking that it’s suitable?” said Tom mildly.

Harry blinked slowly, trying to get his bearings, then aimed his new wand at the box he was still holding and levitated it, laughing when it hit the ceiling with enough force to flatten it. “I think that answers your question. This is amazing. And I was right in thinking you avoided my questions for this exact reason.”

“As you say,” responded Tom, “though it is clear you’ll need to become accustomed to it.”

*

By the time the students were to return to Hogwarts the four of them had tested the latest prank that Harry’s group wanted to spring on the other students. After some trial and error it had been decided that the best way to handle the issue of explosive dry ice was to simply toss the pieces in just before they fled the entrance hall.

Tom had taken a day off from the holiday to play Voldemort, having set up a number of interviews with those brought in by recruitment. He was hard pressed in some cases not to show the amount of distaste he was feeling on his face; several of the candidates were an odd mixture of indiscriminately sadistic and stupid.

He had also taken the time to quietly stop by Malfoy Manor and note the names of those students who had decided to attend the festivities there, though he had not revealed his presence to anyone. It was clear to him, however, that some of the people were there under duress. He suspected that the younger Malfoy had taken to drawing students in by degrees, then using his knowledge of their less than honorable activities as a way to coerce them into following his lead. To be sure, a very Slytherin thing to do.

Unfortunately, they were running out of book shops for the Death Eaters to hit that made sense and several raids had actually been interrupted by Ministry forces, resulting in several Death Eaters being sent to Azkaban. Harry and Tom weren’t put off by that knowledge given that those people had altered Dark Marks, but it would seem as though Voldemort was backsliding into obsession if they continued to send people out on similar missions.

Simply for a change of pace they agreed to send a contingent off on a raid of Azkaban itself, and, as expected, those Death Eaters were also captured and incarcerated. It was no coincidence that those sent were among those with the highest inclination toward sadism.

Fairly early on the morning after the students had returned, Harry, Ron, and Blaise crept quietly into the entrance hall and set up large cauldrons in each corner, filling each with water from their wands. Then, they very carefully scattered their mixture of iodine crystals and ammonium hydroxide (the resulting sludge having been over the holiday mixed, drained, and dried) everywhere except along the margins of the room.

Once the floor was covered in a fine layer they each chose a cauldron, being careful to stick to the edges of the hall, set the water to near boiling, then dropped in blocks of dry ice, converging on the last as a group to set it up, then ducking down the Slytherin staircase. Harry and Blaise saw Ron to the secret passage, then disillusioned themselves long enough to get back to their rooms. Ron, he expected, opted to use the invisibility spell Tom had taught them to return to his dorm, it being a safer spell for such a long journey.

When they did head off to breakfast a short while later they were amused to see a number of students milling about in confusion. Some were mincing carefully across the floor, or trying to, jumping at nearly every step, while others were running straight for the Great Hall, most likely considering it to be a place of safety. The sound of the snap powder reacting to the pressure combined with the students’ reactions was enough to force Harry to duck his head and cover his mouth in haste. The fog, of course, made it impossible to see what was on the floor or where it was safe to step, and none of their fellow students had cottoned on to the safety zones along the perimeter, nor had any of them had much success in getting the fog to dissipate, either.

Blaise turned to Harry and said with an admirably straight face, “I don’t suppose it’s occurred to any of them that they aren’t being hurt. So why on earth are they acting like people are shooting hexes at them?”

A nearby student overheard the comment and straightened, took a deep breath, then marched bravely toward the Great Hall, faltering only slightly along the way as most every step produced a bang, his progress oddly resembling a toy soldier in his stiltedness.

Harry, still struggling to keep his amusement largely contained, replied, “Well, shall we follow his example, then? Let it not be said that we are either cowardly or stupid.”

Blaise grinned and started forward, Harry following, pausing only momentarily as Ron trotted down the main staircase with a look of surprise on his face. His low-voiced comment of, “Look at the herd stampede,” sent Harry off into paroxysms of silent laughter.

It became even worse in a way once they actually entered the Great Hall. Many of the female students were chattering away at each other at top speed, looking for all the world as though they had just suffered through a great trial and were lucky to be alive, and Harry noticed a definite gleam in Snape’s eyes as he took his customary seat. He tilted his head toward Blaise and whispered, “You realize, of course, if we’re found out that Filch will have a field day with our punishment.”

“I think it would be worth it,” Blaise replied, then reached out to grab toast from the rack. “Besides, did you see Malfoy?”

Harry bit his lip and looked away quickly, but seeing Snape arching a brow at him had him looking down at the table just as fast. Malfoy had been halfway to the Great Hall when his nerve had apparently broken and his subsequent progress had been made with unseemly haste.

“He almost looked like he was goose-stepping,” Blaise added with a smirk, causing Harry to choke slightly and reach for something to drink. “Come to think of it, though,” he continued thoughtfully, “Professor Snape seems oddly amused by all this.”

Harry cleared his throat softly and said, “Perhaps it’s just that he possesses a sense of humor like anyone else?”

Blaise snorted softly. “Some people just don’t. I have never seem him—” He glanced across the table at the first years, then shook his head.

A while later, as Harry was leaving Potions, he heard a very soft, “Ten points to Slytherin.”