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Return to Prince Manor by Snapegirl
Chapter 59 : Jarillion Triumphant
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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The next day, Nesmay met with Harry and Draco, in the library, and she told Harry about the potion and asked him if he had any ideas about how to get the ingredients she needed, especially the hair from Jarillion, without the Winter fae getting suspicious. Harry thought for a moment, then said, "Well, we had to get something similar when Ron, Hermione, and I wanted to make Polyjuice Potion and get into the Slytherin common room. Hermione got the hairs we needed from Crabbe, Goyle, and what she thought was Millicent Bulstrode, but instead it turned out to be her cat and Hermione spent weeks in the Hospital Wing before the cat characteristics wore off."

Draco frowned at his brother. "Harry, when the hell did you Polyjuice yourselves and sneak into the Slytherin common room?"

"During second year, when all that stuff with the Chamber of Secrets and the Heir of Slytherin was going on. Ron and I thought you were the Heir, or that you knew who was, but since we couldn't stand each other back then, I could hardly ask you. So we decided to find out with the Polyjuice potion."

 

"Right. Now I remember! Hermione told me about brewing that in the haunted bathroom just before she took me trick-or-treating on Halloween. I guess it slipped my mind. That's a master level potion. How did you get all the ingredients? Some of them, like boomslang skin are very rare and Dad kept them locked up in his office."

Harry coughed and looked uncomfortable. "Ah . . .Ron and I distracted him while 'Mione snuck into his office and . . . err . . . stole them. We threw a Filibuster firework into your cauldron, don't you remember?"

"Yes, now that you mention it. If I had known that was you, Harry, I'd have gotten you back good." Draco said, pretending to frown in disapproval. "And you're lucky Dad never found out about that."

"I know. But that's how I think we need to play this, Nesmay. You convince Jarillion to let us have a potion lesson first, and then Draco and I will distract him while you get the ingredients and maybe, if you're quick enough, you could snatch a hair off the back of his shirt or something."

"We'll figure out a safe place for you to brew it later," Draco whispered.

"Too bad we don't have a haunted bathroom," lamented Harry.

"And after that? How should I get him to drink it?"

"Uh . . . maybe you could have tea with him and try and slip it in there?" Harry suggested.

Nesmay sighed. "I suppose. But first, let's just worry about getting what I need."

That morning, Nesmay sought out Jarillion at breakfast, choosing to eat with the prince instead of in her room as she usually did. He raised an eyebrow when she appeared in her apprentice robes and gave him a small smile as she seated herself next to him. "Good morning, my lord. I hope you had pleasant dreams."

Jarillion eyed her a bit suspiciously. "Having a change of heart, little Summer queen?"

Nesmay bit her lip and looked at her plate, for she was unsure if she could dissemble well enough to hide her disgust. "In a manner of speaking. I . . . I wish to make a request of you, my lord."

"Oh? And what is that?" Jarillion asked, helping himself to a plate of creamed haddock.

"I wish to have another potions lesson, Master. That subject fascinates me and I want to learn more of your art."

Jarillion chuckled. "Well, well. It seems you favor poison. Such a typical woman's weapon. But I think it quite appropriate. My own mother is an accomplished poisoner. Very well. We shall have another lesson this morning, and in the afternoon we'll have some fun with Freezing Hexes."

"You are too kind, my lord," she purred, then quickly ate a piece of ham, its sweet glaze made her smile, so she looked convincingly grateful.

Jarillion gave her a smile in return, of triumph and satisfaction. At last, he thought, she was finally submitting to him. Soon he would have the makings of the next Dark Queen of Winter.

RPMRPMRPMRPM

Nesmay counted to ten and gave her cauldron one more stir before waiting a minute and slipping away to the far cabinet to procure the ingredients she needed for her potion. Behind her, she heard a loud explosion as Harry and Draco added too much devil's tongue to their solutions. She winced as the noise reverberated in her sensitive ears and hurried over to the cabinet at the back of Jarillion's lab, using sleight-of-hand, learned when she was a small child and had snitched sweet sticky buns from the table when the palace cooks weren't looking at court.

Jarillion was furious and swearing a blue streak, though neither of the boys could understand what he shouted at them. Nesmay did, however, and his choice of invective made her blush. Harry and Draco were standing there, looking as though they were shocked. Harry looked at Draco out of the corner of his eye, silently congratulating each other on a prank well done.

"You wretched imbeciles!" raged the Winter prince. "Must you ruin every attempt at making a decent poison? I cannot abide your stupidity any longer! You are hopeless cretins, like all your pathetic mortal race!" There was more in this vein, but spoken in the scathing cadence of the fae language.

Draco smirked quietly at his brother, forgetting that he was not in Snape's potions class, where the worst the strict professor had ever done was assign a week-long detention and take points.

Until the merciless Unseelie reminded both of them in no uncertain terms by removing his dragonhide belt and whipping them.

Nesmay watched in dismay as Jarillion used magic to force both boys to bend over their cauldrons and froze them there while he lashed their legs and buttocks over and over. She put a hand over her mouth to keep from yelling at Jarillion to stop, knowing she could not afford to be seen as favoring her cousins over the dark prince, not if she wanted Jarillion to trust her enough to take a spiked drink from her hand. She had known there might be consequences as a result of the distraction, but she had not expected Jarillion to fly off the handle this much.

She cringed inwardly as both boys began yelling, half-pleading with the enraged master sorcerer to stop. Merciful Great Mother, I'm so sorry! She sucked in a breath and blinked back the sudden tears.

Draco gasped as another line of fire etched itself across his thighs. He had been beaten worse by Lucius, but it had been a long time since then, and he had forgotten how badly a whipping stung. He wagered that Harry had as well, from the way he was whimpering and yelling. It was about then that Draco thought they should have done something else to distract Jarillion, since it was obvious that he had less patience than Snape did when it came to dealing with exploding cauldrons.

"Oww! Master, please, we're sorry!" he made himself say, though normally he hated to beg, and would have rather been beaten unconscious. But he knew he couldn't afford to let his pride take over and so he forced himself to play the coward.

"It was a mistake, sir!" Harry whined, gritting his teeth. He was certain Vernon had hit harder than Jarillion, but even so, the whipping hurt terribly.

"A mistake you won't repeat, now will you?" Jarillion spat, panting.

"No, Master! Never!" they chorused.

Meanwhile, Nesmay crept up to him on cat's feet and gently tweaked a single hair from off of his tunic. Then she tucked it into her pocket and stepped back a few feet. "My lord, I wish you to see if my brew is correct."

Jarillion spun on her, the belt still dangling from his hand. His face was a mask of anger. "By rights, I should punish you as well, but I have no desire to mar that lovely skin of yours, Nesmayallindra. Yet." He gave her a lascivious smile, then refastened his belt and released Draco and Harry. "Out of my sight, before I give you another taste, you pathetic bastards!"

The boys walked as quickly as they could from the room, grimacing.

Jarillion turned to Nesmay. "Now then, my dearest, let us see if you've inherited your Aunt Maeve's talent." He moved over to inspect her work, and Nesmay clenched her hands inside her sleeves and prayed the potion would work, so she could give the cruel prince a taste of his own medicine.

Later on that morning, she sought out Draco and Harry and gave them some healing salve, which she always carried on her person. "I'm sorry I couldn't stop him," she said dejectedly. "I wanted to slam him over the head with the brass scales, but . . ."

"It's okay. We've had worse," Harry reassured her.

"And it was really our fault, we should have just played idiots again instead of getting creative," Draco sighed, flinching. "But thanks for the salve."

"You're welcome. Do you . . . umm . . . need help . . .?"

"No!" Harry said quickly, going red. "We can help each other, Nesmay."

"Oh. Of course," she said, blushing as well. "I just thought . . . never mind. I have everything I need, now I just need to find a place to brew it without him seeing."

"I know a place," Draco said then.

"Where?"

"The cell he put us in when we first came here. He won't be checking that any time soon."

"Draco, that's brilliant!" Harry praised.

Draco looked embarrassed. "Well, I had to think of something to keep my mind off how much my damn backside hurt. And since I still feel like a prisoner by another name . . ."

Nesmay bent and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks so much! I'll try and be quick. Get some rest, okay?"

"All right. Luck, Princess."

Nesmay smiled. "Feel better." Then she slipped away and was gone.

Harry got to his feet and picked up the jar of salve. "I'll put it on you first, Dragon. I think he hit you more than me there at the end."

"Whatever, Harry." Draco said, carefully removing his pants.

RPMRPMRPM

Nesmay managed to slip down to the dungeons and place all of her apparatus and ingredients in the cell that the boys had formerly occupied. The dungeons weren't guarded any longer, since there were no prisoners in them, and so she did not have to avoid any guards. She cast a Glamour over the interior of the cell, so on the off chance anyone happened to be passing by, unlikely but one never knew, they would see nothing save bare walls and a straw-strewn floor. Then she hurried back to the main level of the keep for some more lessons in dark sorcery with her hated teacher.

After the lesson was over, Nesmay felt ill, not physically ill, but spiritually. Each time she used the dark magic she could feel the slick taint spreading deeper within her, it oozed like black oil over her and she could feel it poisoning her slowly. Slowly she was coming to enjoy the sessions, and a part of her reveled in the harm she caused the magical creatures Jarillion summoned, and she was revolted and terrified by her response to it. She could tell that the boys were growing ill as well, though like her they had learned to hide it.

She quickly returned to her suite, changed her clothes and soaked in a hot bath. Soon, if we aren't careful, we shall become his dark acolytes in truth and not just in name. I must get this right the first time and make certain he drinks it. We have to escape.

Then she put on clean clothes, a simple tunic and trews and using Glamour, scampered down the passageways to the dungeons, the ancient potions book tucked under her arm.

First she read the instructions in the book over again carefully, recalling how Severus had always stressed the proper reading of the recipe before attempting to brew. Then she began to measure out all of her ingredients and set the cauldron simmering. She had used a tiny portion of her fae magic to shrink a cauldron earlier that morning, and now she enlarged it and set it atop the conjured fire.

Carefully and precisely, she began to add each ingredient. As she did so, she recalled Severus' instructions, and his insistence on exact proportions and measurements. Recalling the several days she had brewed with him brought a sheen of tears to her eyes. She had thought him a strict and hard teacher back then, and had resented his sternness, but that was before she knew what a terrible and harsh teacher really was. Jarillion made Snape look like a pussycat in comparison with his discipline, and Nesmay found that she would give up her all of her gold just for the chance to hear Severus praise her once again or give her a reassuring hug.

You can do better than that, Nesmay, she silently encouraged herself. Show yourself Severus' true student and brew this potion perfectly.

She took two deep breaths and concentrated all of her considerable focus and magic upon the task at hand. As she brewed, she could almost imagine Severus hovering over her shoulder, whispering corrections in her ear. It helped steady her and calm her nerves, and never had she been so grateful for his exacting methods as she was then. The skills he taught her might save her life and the lives of his sons and she was determined to do this right. She would get no second chance.

It took two hours for the potion to brew and fifteen minutes to steep, then she carefully decanted it into a small bottle. The vial was then tucked safely in her deep pockets robe. She would ponder upon the best way to slip the potion into Jarillion's drink. Then she hid the evidence of her brewing under another Glamour spell and locked the cell door.

Sun, Moon, and Stars, let this be the solution to our problems and let us gain our freedom from this cold despot once and for all.

RPMRPMRPM

But it was the next evening before Nesmay got the chance to slip the potion into Jarillion's drink. That day, all the apprentices performed well in their studies, putting the Winter prince into an almost cheerful frame of mind. That night, as a reward, he invited them all to dine with them.

The boys were suspicious of the prince's sudden showering them with approval, and Draco said he was going to take a Poison Neutralizing Draft before he ate anything, just in case. Harry also agreed to take it, and suggested Nesmay should also, they were all gathered in the boys' room, wearing their apprentice robes.

Oddly enough, the girl was rather nonchalant about her intended's intentions. "If he wanted to poison you, he'd have done it when you blew up the cauldrons. He considers you assets now, and an Unseelie doesn't harm them . . . unless they prove to be liabilities. So I doubt you'll have to worry about a deadly cocktail." Then she grinned like a child handed an entire basket of sweets. "But . . . this gives me the perfect opportunity to slip my potion into his drink."

"Be careful, Nesmay," Harry warned. "If he even suspects . . ."

"He won't. You'll see," she said mysteriously.

"Don't get all cocky," Draco cautioned. "Look what happened to us when we did. We ended up getting our arses whipped royally."

"I'm not. I'm just . . . excited that I finally have a chance."

"Let's just hope this potion works," Harry said fervently, crossing his fingers. He didn't know how long he could last against the lure of the dark, which whispered sweet seduction into his ears every chance it got. Now using the dark spells felt almost . . .normal and that terrified him beyond belief. If he went dark Severus would never forgive him. Nor would he ever forgive himself.

He squeezed Nesmay's hand. "Go get 'em, tigress! You show them what a half-blood can do."

"Yeah, once he's under the influence of that potion, we can kick his arse for a change," Draco said, and in his voice was an eager vicious note. He was longing to deal out some retribution to the Winter prince badly.

Nesmay abruptly embraced them both, whispering, "I never could have done it without you. If you weren't here with me . . . I think . . . I would have become like my father by now. Or worse."

"Well, princess, that's what family's for," drawled Draco.

"We all got into this together and we'll all come out of it together," stated Harry firmly, hugging the slender girl to him. "Now let's go to dinner. Hopefully it'll be the last supper Jarillion will ever eat."

"Amen to that!" Draco murmured, then they all headed down to the dining hall of the keep, wands tucked in their robes, hoping that tonight would be their last night in the keep of doom.

Nesmay bit her lip hard. If she had brewed the potion correctly, then it would take effect a few minutes after being swallowed. If the potion recipe was not mistaken, and it really did work on High Court fae. If Jarillion drank the entire glass of wine with the potion mixed in and it didn't get diluted. There were a lot of ifs in their plan, but the Seelie princess didn't see any other way to proceed. She would simply have to trust to fate and hope it all worked out.

She wondered if her mother would be proud of her. Mother, if you're up there somewhere watching, wish me courage and the luck of thieves, because I'm going to need it.

Jarillion was already seated in his customary place in the throne-like ivory chair with the plump indigo velvet cushions when the three entered the dining hall. Both Draco and Harry were grateful for their velvet lined robes as the temperature in the hall was quite cold . . . for mortals. Nesmay shivered, though she felt the cold less than they. Jarillion was eyeing her like a ripe piece of melon, and that made her very apprehensive.

The Unseelie lord waited until his apprentices had come up to the table before saying, "Be seated. Food shall be served shortly."

Draco pulled out the chair on Jarillion's left for Nesmay and seated her, recalling the manners drilled into him from babyhood by Narcissa. Then he sat on her other side.

Harry hesitated, then took the seat on Jarillion's right. He would have preferred to sit next to Draco, but thought that maybe he could provide yet another distraction so Nesmay could do what she had to, though not one with such painful consequences as the previous one. He still was not totally healed from the beating, despite Nesmay's salve. Jarillion had a strong arm. Though not as strong as Vernon's, Harry thought, suppressing a wince. Still, if this paid off, it would be worth it.

There were goblets of water beside each plate setting, which was of simple ivory porcelain rimmed in gold with the prince's crest in the center—a frost drake hovering in front of two crossed lightning bolts. The utensils were also gold plated and fit for royalty. They made Harry uncomfortable, like he was invited to a banquet where he didn't belong. Draco and Nesmay, on the other hand, looked quite at home, probably due to their upbringing.

Unseen servants came and brought them glasses of frost wine and some small appetizers, like rolls and crab tarts. As soon as the wine had been set at her place, Nesmay immediately sipped from her glass. She caught Harry's eye and gave a miniscule nod.

Harry picked up on it immediately and said, "Master Jarillion? I have a question about today's lesson."

"Oh? What part of it escaped you, youngling?" Jarillion said, turning to look at Harry with an indulgent frown.

While Harry talked, Nesmay emptied the contents of the vial into her wine glass and swirled it about. Then she switched glasses, quickly imbibing more frost wine, so her glass would look less full than Jarillion's, who had only taken a single swallow of his.

Under the table, Draco gave her a victory clasp with his right hand.

So far, so good.

Harry allowed his end of the conversation to trail off so Jarillion would turn back to his wine. He went and took a drink of his own, feeling the fae liquid burn pleasantly all the way to his stomach.

Then Draco proposed a toast, saluting their wonderful master Jarillion and how lucky they were to have him as a mentor, along with other flattering remarks. He lifted his glass in salute.

Nesmay didn't know how he managed to say such lies with a straight face, and she took another sip of her frost wine to cover her amazement.

They all drank.

To their dismay, Jarillion didn't finish his drink.

Draco nearly choked upon a crab puff when he noticed. Nesmay helpfully swatted him on the back and handed him the goblet of water.

"Do be more careful, apprentice," scolded Jarillion lazily. "Try not to inhale your food, though I am aware it is probably worlds better than that of your mortal realm."

"Yes, Master," Draco said softly, though he longed to tell the other where he could shove his pretentions.

Harry and Nesmay nibbled upon the rolls with sweet cream butter and waited for the next course.

The soup came in, a spicy tomato bisque with lentils and sausage. All of them ate quickly, and drank more water.

Nesmay kept an eye on Jarillion, noting in profound delight that the prince drained both his water and wine glass.

Then she waited with indrawn breath for the potion to take effect.

Five minutes went by. Jarillion wasn't displaying any effects of losing his coherence and becoming dull-witted, as should have been the case with a mind-altering Draft of Command.

He tapped his glass for a refill and the unseen air sprites filled up his glass again.

Then the main course arrived, some kind of roast in gravy with winter vegetables and roasted chicken with potatoes.

But none of the children could eat more than a few bites, suspecting that something had gone horribly wrong with the potion.

It had been ten minutes and Jarillion was still alert as ever.

Bright Lady save me, but I've failed! Nesmay wailed inwardly. Why isn't it affecting him? Where did I go wrong? Was the recipe a dud? She swallowed hard and fought to keep from scratching at her collar, or bursting into tears. She slowly chewed and swallowed a tender piece of meat. It tasted like charcoal upon her tongue.

Harry kept his eyes down on his plate, though all of his nerves were attuned to the prince seated next to him. He had seen Jarillion swallow the wine, and wondered why the potion hadn't taken effect yet. Was it due to Jarillion's natural magic resistance? Or the fact that the potion had been diluted in wine. He recalled Severus telling him once that potions mixed with other substances often lost some of their potency, one reason why he never mixed them or added sweetener to them. Damn and double damn! He pushed some potatoes around on his plate and ate one.

Draco quietly ate a few more bites of chicken while silently counting the minutes since Jarillion had imbibed. Fifteen minutes now. Why was it taking so long? Then he recalled Snape's instructions about mixing potions as well and prayed the potion would still work. It has to work! It just has to!

Jarillion ate calmly, enjoying his food and occasionally quizzing one or the other of them on some terms and spell procedures.

Nesmay eyed him while she chewed a bite of meat. Were his eyes getting heavy? Was he starting to pause between words?

Just then there came a tremor through the castle.

All the dishes and glasses rattled as the castle shook.

"What the hell?" cried Draco as his water goblet spilled into his lap.

"Is it an earthquake?" cried Harry.

Jarillion shot to his feet as the castle shuddered violently once more. There was something terribly wrong. "No. I believe . . . we're under attack!" he snarled.

The three apprentices exchanged glances. The only people they knew who would dare storm the castle were Severus and Sarai. At last, the rescue party was here.

The Winter prince scowled and shouted, "Bloodheart! Get your mercenaries up here! Array them in the entrance with crossbows, to give whoever dares attack us a warm welcome. How the bloody blazes did they get past the wards and the time shift?"

He slammed a hand down upon a wall and they saw the stone shimmer with blue, violet and green light. A moment later he removed his hand and swore furiously.

The three apprentices looked at each other, wanting to cheer. Even if the potion didn't work, at least Jarillion had other things to worry about. Though Nesmay was still hoping the effects of the draught were delayed only and it would still affect the Unseelie lord enough for her to make him remove the collar.

RPMRPMRPM

Baba Yaga's hut travelled at a swift pace through the Waste. It glided and hovered more than a true flight, but it could move very fast, and was a much better way to cross the dangerous frozen tundra than walking. Both Severus and Sarai were grateful for the old witch's intervention, as it enabled them to find their missing charges that much sooner. Even so, the Waste was so vast that it took the hut two days to reach the place where Jarillion's fortress was.

Or had been.

Upon their arrival at the place where the fortress had been, Baba Yaga scowled and muttered something very uncomplimentary in Russian. Then she looked at her two guests and said, "He has taken his fortress out of time."

"Out of time?" Severus repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Here in Faerie time can run differently than in the mortal realm, especially if a fae lord knows how to manipulate it. Since Jarillion was tutored by both myself and my sister Maeve, he would have learned the spells to take an object, person, or place out of time—meaning he has moved his fortress into a pocket of space where time runs according to his whim. If I had to guess, he has made time run slower than usual in order to gain something h wishes from one of your children . . . or perhaps all of them," Baba Yaga said ominously.

"You mean, he has caused time to slow down so that minutes are like hours and hours days?" clarified the Potions Master.

"Yes. It's a classic fae trick, to extend time."

"How do you know that's what he's done?"

"Because I can feel it. Time maneuvering leaves a very obvious trail in the magical ether, for one who knows how to look for it."

"But then, that would mean . . . he could have had Harry, Draco, and Nesmay in his grasp for much longer than a week or so," Severus cried. "Baba Yaga, is there a way to cancel the spell and bring the fortress back?"

She chuckled wickedly. "Of course there is. It would require a practitioner of much stronger ability who knows how to manipulate the timestream. Fortunately, you have me. But know this, after I have called the fortress back, you two must be ready to enter it, for then he will know and be prepared for an attack."

"We'll be ready, Gloriana," Sarai assured her, tightening her hand around the pommel of her sword.

The ancient sorceress drew a long gnarled staff and began to trace several symbols in the air, chanting some words in the fae language over and over.

There came a fierce crackle of magic in the air and Baba Yaga thrust her will against the spell Jarillion had cast. For a moment, she met resistance, but then her magic prevailed.

The air split apart and suddenly a large stone fortress appeared before them, towering high into the heavens, floating easily upon the clouds, lightning and magical energy crackling in purple, blue, and red streamers all over it.

Sarai peered up at it, noting that there seemed to be no guards upon the ramparts or at the gates. Perhaps Jarillion was not as formidable as he had led others to believe. Or he truly was that arrogant. Such overconfidence had been the death of many another enemy before him, she mused, before recalling her pledge to bring the perfidious Unseelie back alive for the Queens' Justice.

Baba Yaga cackled. "Ah, nephew! Such a green fool, to think you were safe from my revenge!" She pointed her staff at the locked portcullis and a shaft of pure magical energy shot out and shattered the barred gate to pieces. Then she turned to her two visitors. "I have done all that I may, wizard and warrior. Now it's your turn to find your children and fulfill the bargain. May the Bright One guide your hands." She brought the hut very close to the edge of the ground surrounding the base of the fortress, and opened the door. "Go, quickly!"

Severus, Sarai, and Cafall shot out of the hut and landed on the grassy plot of land, then sprinted towards the fallen gate and the gaping hole left in Baba Yaga's wake. Severus ran forward, his Staff of the Magi pointed outward, ever alert for any magical traps, but there were none. Sarai was a few steps behind, also scanning the area for an ambush.

But all was still, save for the smoke arising from the shattered gates and crumbled stone. It appeared they had taken the Winter prince by surprise.

Faces grim, the two raced into the keep, silent as wraiths from night's dark tomb.

RPMRPMRPM

As soon as Jarillion realized his fortress had been yanked out of the pocket he had created where time was subject to his whim, he knew he was dealing with one very powerful practitioner of magic. Most likely one of his old enemies, possibly a relative. Doubtless one who might be able to harm him before being destroyed. That being so, he took steps to safeguard himself, and called upon the ancient guardian of his fortress, a creature he had made an alliance with long ago, when he first claimed the keep for his own.

"Skrymer!" he bellowed. "Awake! We have intruders!"

At the far end of the dining hall there came a tremendous groan, as if the very stones had been yanked up by the roots. Then came a sound like a dozen trees falling and what Harry had thought was a statue of a giant came to life. It was over twelve feet tall, and had skin the color of a blue glacier and a forked white beard and wild flowing hair that looked like icicles. It had a face that was all sharp angles with a nose like a hatchet blade and eyes the color of a midwinter storm. It's massive body was covered with a thick furry pelt, and across its back was a gigantic silvery axe. A belt across its middle held some odd looking tails, which Harry suddenly recognized as scalps and shriveled ears . . . the pointed ears of the fae. It had blue cloth trousers on. The giant's feet were encased in boots and when it turned to look at Jarillion, the sound of its steps was like muted thunder.

"My lord, you called? Where are the intruders?"

Its voice was the deep echo of the ice when it moved across the ocean, deep and resonant and surprisingly intelligent.

"They are coming, Skrymer. Be prepared to fight them to the death." Jarillion ordered, summoning his sword and buckling it on.

By then it had been almost twenty minutes since he had swallowed the drugged frost wine, and Nesmay was half-afraid that it would never work. Perhaps the wine had ruined the entire draft? She wanted to scream.

The Winter prince turned then to his apprentices. "It's time to put into practice what you've learned, children." He purred, his eyes cold and malevolent.

Harry felt an icy chill run down his backbone. He clenched his fist over his wand. "Master?" he said softly.

"Come here, little Snape," Jarillion commanded, his tone hard as iron.

Harry reluctantly rose to his feet and came towards the other.

Draco followed, instantly on alert and suspicious. He thought perhaps Jarillion wished to treat them like shields or something. He considered trying to Stun the bastard, but before he could draw his wand, he felt an odd sensation flow over him.

His limbs were like jelly, they refused to obey him and his head was spinning round and round like a top and felt filled with cotton batting. What's happening to me? I feel so . . odd.

Draco Malfoy, you will now obey my every command. What I say, you shall do, no matter what. Understand?

The voice in his head was hard and sharp, it pierced him and caused him to cry out in pain. He felt as if his head were about to split open, and he could do nothing except nod in acceptance.

Harry too was undergoing the same fight, as Jarillion attempted to take over his mind as well, forcing him to obey his every whim. But Harry seemed to have a natural resistance for such mind magics, he had inherited his indomitable will from his father, had Jarillion only known. He tried to push Jarillion's hate-filled sword-sharp voice away, though resisting made him feel as if his head were being split in two by a large ice pick.

Resistance is futile, boy. Surrender to me and the pain shall stop. Surrender, and fight my enemies, who are yours also. They're coming for you, boy. To kill you!

Harry shook his head, tears filling his eyes. No! Get out of my head, dammit! You lie!

Jarillion's laughter echoed in his head, stabbing him with a thousand frozen needles. You are strong, boy, but I am the master! And . . . you . . .shall . . . obey . . . ME!

Harry screamed in agony as Jarillion's spell seared into his mind, forcing him to obey the commands Jarillion set him. He crumpled to his knees, gasping as red-hot compulsion flooded his brain and his will was no longer his own.

"Jarillion! My lord, what are you doing to them?" Nesmay cried.

"Making them into my perfect soldiers," answered the prince. "Now they will fight and die for me, no matter what."

Nesmay's eyes widened in horror. What the prince had done was among the most forbidden things, and she longed to be free of the collar so she could tear him to shreds with her wild magic. But even as she struggled against the collar, she knew it was futile. She was trapped and would stay that way unless by some miracle the potion worked or whoever had come knocking on Jarillion's front door killed him.

She glared at him. "Can you not fight your own battles, my lord?" she asked silkily. "Are you not the most powerful sorcerer of Winter?"

"Even so, my sweet. But that is what apprentices are for . . . to defend their masters when needed." Jarillion gloated.

Before Nesmay could reply, she heard the clash of steel beyond the dining hall, shouts of redcaps bellowing war cries and the familiar howl of a hunting misthound. "Cafall!" she yelled.

Where the misthound was, Severus and Sarai couldn't be far behind, she thought excitedly.

A cruel smile spread across Jarillion's lips. "So . . . the half-breed and her lover have sought me out at last. What a family reunion!" He snickered mockingly. "Shall we give them a proper welcome, boys?"

"Yes, Master Jarillion," came the response, cold and utterly without any feeling at all.

Jarillion felt a thrill of triumph spread through him.

The sounds of battle were growing louder, and then the door to the hall was slammed open by a violent gust of wind.

Severus Snape stood framed in the entryway, his black cloak swirling in tatters about him, his robes torn and bloody, his hair flying back in the wind that he had conjured. His eyes were burning with a terrible hatred as they caught sight of the Winter prince. "Jarillion, what have you done with my children?" he rasped. The staff in his hand crackled with ambient magical energy.

"Why, dear cousin, they are here," Jarillion said, and he bowed mockingly. "See? Safe and sound." He gestured to where Harry and Draco were standing, still as stone statues. "Well, except for the fact that they belong to me now." His eyes hardened.

"Severus!" Nesmay called.

"Nesmay," he said, but his eyes never left Jarillion. At least the girl seemed all right. "What have you done to my sons?"

"Boys, give your father a warm welcome, won't you?" ordered Jarillion. Then he shouted a command in the fae tongue. "Savath teljor!"

Both Draco and Harry lifted their wands and began casting, summoning fire imps to roast the enemy before them, who had come to kill them all.

Hope you all liked this chapter. I was going to have the full battle in here, but decided it needed its own chapter so it could be focused on better. What do you think will happen now? Will Jarillion succumb to the potion finally? Or will the boys attack Severus and hurt him? How will Snape react?

Oh and don't roast me for the cliffy, you knew there would be one . . .didn't you?
 
 
 


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