The Death Eater was almost certain Harry Potter and Sirius Black's hearts skipped at least three beats. Tangling in the tension and uncertainty of the room, the Death Eater could sense hope, but it was unlike hope one might have expected, because these men have learned hope is more a symbol of fighting that others can recognize and cling to, than a true emotion. It was a bitter sort of hope, lingering in the air like the sweet-scent from a hidden sleep potion steaming up from a cup of tea. He waited in silence.
"What's your name?" Potter asked suddenly, throwing the Death Eater aback, who hadn't been anticipating that question.
"Geoffrey," he said softly, cautious.
"Well Geoffrey, now it's your god damn turn to 'prove it'!" Potter's magic, seeping from him, was deep and calm; Geoffrey was reminded of the boys own magic when he hasn't decide if he is furious or not. Potter's voice is demanding and intimidating - Geoffrey has opened a door that can lead either to his safety, because of the importance of his information, or death, because he would be the one person in Harry Potter's grasp who had aided in the imprisonment of Devlin Potter.
"Tell me how." Either way, he didn't want to die here and now, tied up and defenseless. Geoffrey was walking on the edge of a velvet-covered knife.
"Give me evidence," Potter whispers fiercely. "Prove to me that St. Mungo's best staff are inept at identifying a dead body." There was anger in Potter's eyes, pushing aside the hope. His magic had one difference from the boys - it did not lash out, instead it began to boil and unfurl slowly, billowing out around him like steam.
"I have betrayed him already," Geoffrey whispered, leaning as close to Harry Potter as his restraints would allow. "I have no evidence to provide that would satisfy you. If I showed you my memories you would accuse me of creating them. If I make an oath of truth you will say that I have nothing to lose and therefore, why should I not risk death? As you can see, I have no way to assure you completely, Mr. Potter. At the same time...you have no way to completely prove I am lying." Geoffrey was a man who had grown up knowing about distrust from the moment he had become a werwolf, surrounded by old-blood wizarding society. It had made it necessary for him to be especially good at the art of manipulation and persuasion. Right now Potter's weakness was the idea that he might have given up on a child who had never really died - had never stopped needing him. Doubt had entered his mind and it was to Geoffrey's benefit to keep him from burying his doubt.
"Nevertheless, you will do both." Finality settled forebodingly in Potter's voice. Geoffrey mastered the urge to swallow - Potter was not taking the bait as eagerly as Geoffrey had hoped. "How did you know Devlin?"
"I am his Guard." Potter's head tipped slightly and he dragged in a breath of air. Black's eyes go wide. Neither of them suspected his position. It had its advantages, Geoffrey was aware.
"And what, exactly, do you guard him against? It can't be those disease infected Death Eaters – you're one as well!" Black spat, his eyes wild for a moment. Geoffrey could see the hauntedness in them that he recognized as exposure to Dementors. He held back his temper and found the will to smile.
"I was ordered to protect him from outside dangers, from identification by spies, from angry Death Eaters who had no rank to harm him, and from himself. I have never received an order that would put him in mortal harm. Another Death Eater, myself included, has never been allowed to harm him." He worded himself carefully; he knew neither truths nor lies must escape him in this room. The ground was fragile beneath his feet and he must make it to more stable earth. Alive.
"Mortal danger, how informing!" Black sneered. Potter was quiet next to him. "There's a lot you can do to a person without placing them in mortal danger!"
"You said from himself?" Potter's voice was soft and uncertain. Geoffrey found uncertainty sat unwell in Potter's eyes; like a great illness that you feared would infect the world. He wondered if he would feel the same, should uncertainty present itself in Voldemort, but decided it was a worthless question; Voldemort was either incapable or to calculated to show the emotion.
"So far as the child informed me, he was not bitten by one of the Dark Lord's werewolves." Potter's jaw clenched, but he nodded. There were not many werewolf children in the world. It was rare that a grown werewolf desire to bite a child. This excluded, of course, the werewolves Voldemort kept merely because of their extremism. They were usually stupid and more than half insane. He kept them to kill. Geoffrey avoided them when possible and the boy won't step foot near them, even if his caretaker must.
"No, Devlin was bitten when he was very young." So honest. So brutally honest - even to his enemies face. The boy had never been willing to tell him how he was bitten. Truth be told, Geoffrey knew it had been before his capture from the healed wounds, not from the boy. Potter could have remained silent, or lied, but he told the truth. And now Geoffrey hated him. Hated him more then he ever did as a Death Eater. Harry Potter, the Boy-who-lived, the Savior of the Wizarding World, and Head Auror, had not protected his child from a werewolf. He wanted to lunged forward and pin him to the wall. But he won't. Survival reigns higher than even the beast within.
Silence fell between them. Potter fiddled with the hem of his Auror robes and Black with a ring on his finger. Geoffey sighed.
Potter was too human. Voldemort was too inhuman. The boy was too unchildlike. Geoffrey would like to know who or what chose the destiny of the powerful. But he never will, so he sighed again.
"When...when did you become his Guard?"
"When the Dark Lord moved to the camp I was stationed at, he supposedly also brought a boy with him, that we weren't to harm, but none of us had yet to see him. A week in, he took me aside and told me that on the full moons he would be introducing a boy to transform with us-"
"You're a werwolf?" Black asked.
"Yes... so I met the boy once, directly before the full moon. He didn't speak at all to me. He was gone when we all woke up. The Dark Lord didn't want us speaking to him, I think. I saw him next a week before the following full moon. He snuck into a meeting, where he wasn't meant to be, and the Dark Lord ordered me to take him away, back to his tent. It was then, I suppose, that my official assignment began."
"And now?" Potter's gaze was half unfocused and Geoffrey wondered if the question had partly been for himself.
"Now what, Mr. Potter?" Geoffrey asked, his voice calm like he were talking to the boy.
"Now what is he like?" He finally asked, slumping against the desk.
Geoffrey frowned, more fearful of this question than any other Potter had asked. What did Potter expect a boy to be like who had spent four years with the Dark Lord? He couldn't possibly expect to have that little innocent boy back, could he? But Potter was too human and even though Geoffrey could see reason in his eyes, he could also see an unwillingness to yield for that reason. His brain knew he wouldn't get that boy back, but his heart wasn't ready to let the boy go. Geoffrey swallowed. He was the last one who would survive through telling Potter's heart to catch up with his brian.
"Right now?" He drew in a breath. "Right now he is probably pacing in his room, wondering where I have been."
"That's not what-" but Potter never finished, because there was the distinct sound of the front door opening. Sirius and Potter had their wands out before a moment could flicker past, and in the next moment Geoffrey was being hauled towards a closet, pushed inside, and told to "stay quiet" before his world became...nothing. Potter had obviously not trusted him - Geoffrey had heard the slight fizzle of a silencing charm, and there did not appear to be any muggle means of lighting inside the closet (not that Geoffrey could have reached it, either way). He sat for a long time in the darkness, with only musty old cloaks and his thoughts to keep him company. Thoughts about the boy.
What was the boy worth?
He had seen plainly how much Potter cared for the boy, but he also knew Potter hadn't protected him. Potter had given up on him and Geoffrey couldn't imagine how anyone who knew Devlin could ever simply give up. To Geoffrey it didn't matter that they had been sent a body that had probably passed all sorts of identity spells. They wouldn't have believed it if Voldemort had sent them Harry Potter's body - how could they believe it about the child?
Suddenly there were a pair of piercing blue eyes looking down at him, the owner silhouetted by the onslaught of light.
"You're the Death Eater, hm?" Her voice was clipped and impatient. She used magic to pull him out of the closet and magic to make him stand upright. It felt a bit like the boy's - possessive, steady, and quick. She smelled like Potter. "Did you hear me, or have they already given you too much truth serum?"
He looked up into her intense regard, feeling as if she were summing him up: his worth, his honesty, his age, his health - everything.
"I'm the Death Eater, yes," he said softly, but with an edge of strength to his words. She won't be pacified by submission. "It is Geoffrey, actually."
Her eyes flickered over his face one more time. She turned away from him to regard Potter.
"A werewolf, Harry? What do you want with one of his werewolves?"
Geoffrey arched a brow, impressed. In front of him but behind the woman, Potter was pursing his lips, obviously deciding between admitting to some feeble excuse, or telling her the much more reasonable truth.
"I didn't know he was a werewolf, Alex," he said haltingly, with a biting regard towards Geoffrey; as if Geoffrey had given her some clue he hadn't given him? Geoffrey wanted to laugh at the regard, because he had given Potter many clues and this woman none at all.
"Then why hide him? Why come here? Why break the rules for him?"
She was close to him now. One or the other could have leaned forward and started a kiss, but Geoffrey thought that was farthest from their minds. Nevertheless, there was more concern than anger in the woman's eyes and her rapid heart rate told Geoffrey she suspected something was happening around her that was out of her control.
She was more logical than Potter. She wouldn't expect to get her little boy back.
"He found a photo of a boy in my robes and thought it most interesting," Geoffrey said casually, as if the question had originally been addressed to him and it was a mere mistake that she had been turned towards Potter as he answered. Potter's muscles twitched as if he were holding himself back from attacking Geoffrey, but Geoffrey let the idea slide past - he had to focus on the present.
She turned very slowly towards him, her eyes narrowed, her lips drawn tight, her nostrils flared. She doubted him, clearly.
"A boy?" She asked, her voice almost sweet. Her face didn't match.
"Yes," he said simply. "It's in his pocket now," he added, motioning with his head toward Potter. She turned back around to face him, demanding he give it over. It took several demands, but finally he slid it into her hands.
Geoffrey thought the boys eyes must have been closed at the moment, because the woman's face went ashen. His theory was proven right when Harry leaned forward and whispered, "they open, just wait." And then she took a breath quite suddenly.
"How old is he here?" She said promptly, without looking up from the photograph or turning around. Geoffrey breathed in. The boy would forgive him for treating Potter however he had too, but the boy would never forgive him for upsetting his mother.
"I think he was six."
"You think? Wasn't it in your pocket?" Geoffrey tried to avoid that question.
"When he was six he decided that he should learn how to fly with his magic like the Dark Lord and took it upon himself to climb trees and then jump from them. It was the last time I recall such a distinct bruise."
"That is a handprint!"
"Yes, indeed. The Dark Lord thought it quite foolish that he had broken his wand arm falling from the tree."
"Did Voldemort simply leave the broken arm as well?"
"It was healed, then?"
She pursed her lips - Geoffrey could see the corner of them, even though she hadn't looked up yet.
"And now...is he still alive?"
"How would you know?"
"I am tied to him, magically. I feel if he is in danger."
"I am his Guard. The Dark Lord decided it was my fault he had broken his arm falling from the tree. Now I always know when the boy believes himself to be in danger, or when he is hurt, or upset."
"That is Dark Magic."
"It is only on me, not the boy."
"Why go through all the trouble?"
"Presumably to torture me," Geoffrey said, with an edge of humor to his voice that finally made the woman turn around.
"Voldemort likes his torture to be swift and painful - that is neither." It was a question disguised as a statement.
"He punished me swiftly and painfully as well, I assure you," he said, scowling a little as he said it to her - admitted it to her. Geoffrey still remembered the gleam that had been in Voldemort's eyes. I assigned you to the boy specifically to keep him unharmed, Geoffrey. Now I find you have disregarded your assignment and in your neglect, my belonging has been harmed. He should not have been left - you should have known he was doing something foolish and stopped it.
"And what are you to him?"
"He's Devlin's 'guard'," Harry answered and it seemed to Geoffrey he was trying to prove he had learned something about the situation. Harry didn't pipe up to supply anymore information about his responsibilities and after a moment Geoffrey opened his mouth and repeated exactly what he had told Harry. After he was done, she frowned for a moment and then turned towards Harry.
"Let me see whatever memories you've extracted," she suddenly demanded, having spotted the basin atop the desk. Harry frowned.
"Alex, we didn't extract any memories from him. He told me his cost for betraying Voldemort was to know Devlin was mine and I wasn't playing some trick on him."
It looked like she wanted to know more, but she held her tongue, obviously eager to have some answers away from Geoffrey's prying ears. She turned back to the Death Eater, studying him.
"Was my husbands proof satisfactory?" She asked and Geoffrey wasn't sure if it was the tilt of her head, the slight purse to her lips, or the minuscule arch of her brow that made him certain she was setting a trap for him. He had no choice but to walk right into it, either.
"Yes." He kept his answer as short as possible - giving her as little reaction as he could and hoping as a consequence to extract more of one from her. To get another clue about this trap.
"Good. Now it is your turn to prove to me that your Devlin is my Devlin as well." Her fingers twitched and immediately her wand was in her hand, held at Geoffrey's head. "Don't think too carefully about what you want to show me, Geoffrey. I'll be able to see any alterations you make."
She had given him all the clue he needed and now he felt doubt fill him with dread. He had been counting on her to be level headed - to understand she wouldn't be getting that innocent little boy back. Now he wasn't very certain of his earlier idea. Your Devlin is my Devlin as well. But the boy Geoffrey knew wasn't her boy in anything except blood. He wasn't like the boy in Potter's memories.
"But he's not," he found himself whispering, despite the wand at his throat that should have made him very aware of his position in the room. "He's not like your Devlin at all."
For a moment a shadow of hesitation flittered across her blue eyes and then it was gone, replaced by an additional layer of determination. The wand dug into Geoffrey's neck.
"You're in no position to argue about theoretical things," she said firmly, but the whole-hearted hatred had disappeared from the edge of her voice and there was a bit of understanding there instead.
"He was a strange little boy," Geoffrey found himself retelling, his voice monotone. He felt strangely empty and it was no longer fear that made his limbs feel heavy and his mind sluggish, but pity, because she was about to see things she couldn't possibly be ready for, just as Geoffrey hadn't been ready to see the innocent child that had been the boy's beginning. "He told me his name was Devlin, but that he was looking for a new one - and when one of the other werewolves accidentally called him "Dubhán" he clung to the name."
His eyes were locked with her own, but then he closed them as he pulled the memories to the surface of his mind. He motioned with his hand each time he was ready for her to pull one and transfer it to the Pensieve. In the end, he had chosen three.
They swirl innocently enough in the stone basin, but Geoffrey felt sick, just looking at the Pensieve. Potter, Black, and the boys mother peered over the rim of the basin, hesitating.
"I know I am in no position to demand promises, but I plead with you: please do not tell him that I have shown you these things. He would be so upset."
Alexandra was the only one who turned around to regard him. She frowned for a moment, but then she nodded firmly.
"We won't," she said to him, before she turned back around and delved into the bowl along with the other two.
Pensieves allow memories to be brought out of an individual and temporally rewritten into a format viewable to many, but Pensieves were also designed with Realistic-Recollection magic, which meant they mimicked the remembered environment to give a neutral point of view. Harry blinked into the dim lighting and waited for his eyes to adjust.
Voldemort. Harry felt his muscles tense at the mere sight of him, but then he stilled, catching sight of the small boy, hiding himself behind the monster's legs. It was such an odd sight, that he found himself blinking a couple times. He heard Alexandra draw in a breath. Sirius seemed speechless.
'So tiny' the notion seemed to hang in the air, implanted by Geoffrey's mind. It was clearly Devlin and he looked so small and shy. Voldemort's hand snaked behind himself to clasp the boy's shoulder and drag him forward, away from whatever protection the child had thought he had found behind the monster's legs.
"Stand up straight," Harry heard him hiss, in English. It seemed it should have been a whisper, but Geoffrey's werewolf ears had probably found it easy enough to hear. "What have I said about fear?"
Devlin's green eyes swerved to the monster's red ones and his back straightened.
"Fear is for lesser beings than you and I," the child said, his voice crisp and confident. The fear snuck away from his eyes and he withdrew his hands from his pockets. Harry felt his heart break a bit at the words.
Voldemort straightened himself.
"This boy will be transforming with you. I expect him unharmed in the morning. There will be no excuses as I have supplied every single one of you with Wolfsbane." Harry turned. He hadn't been paying attention to the surroundings - only to his son. He finds himself face to face with the memory of ten or so men, each of them looking a bit haggard and withdrawn. Werewolves.
There was a nod from each of them.
"Come, child," Voldemort said softly, with a firm edge that sent shiver up Harry's spine. The child followed him to the memory-Geoffrey. "This is Geoffrey. Remain with him."
"Yes, sir," he said. Voldemort nodded and then he swept from the room, his green robes swallowing him in their swell.
The memory Geoffrey peered at the boy for a long moment.
"Perhaps," he said slowly, "I should introduce you to everyone."
"That won't be necessary," Devlin said, his voice clipped and dismissive.
"Have you...transformed before?" Geoffrey said and something was clearly making him a bit uncomfortable about the boy. He shuffled his feet, while Devlin stayed perfectly still, extruding confidence.
"Yes," he said, annoyance creeping into his voice. "He didn't say you had to comfort me," he added, scathing. "And I find it rather annoying that you think you have to know my life story just because we're all going to be screaming in pain in a moment."
Geoffrey nodded like he had to Voldemort. As if he had just been given an order. Devlin settled himself onto the ground, hugging his knees, looking at everyone. Somehow, even in a childish position, he seemed to extrude the opposite.
In charge. It was like he knew his place in this room, and it wasn't that of a child or a newcomer - it was at the top, in charge. They were all afraid of him. Harry swallowed. He had always known his son was more clever than brave and he had purposefully avoided exposing Devlin to these sorts of mind games.
The memory sped up until everyone began to transform. Harry watched Geoffrey watch Devlin, trying to keep his eyes on the boy through the whole process. Geoffrey was screaming in agony, but Devlin was quiet, his whole body tense with his fingers digging into the bare dirt floor. His green eyes were opened and they remained on Geoffrey.
'Alpha' the word hung in the air, ingrained there by Geoffrey and Harry felt himself frowning, disturbed.
He had never seen his son as wolf before - it was something Remus and he shared and Harry had always thought it safer to have the boy understand it was an absolute separation. With the potion there was the human mind to contend with and Harry was always a bit afraid that the child might have tried to leave his room to seek out his parents and that the potion might have malfunctioned. He had always felt safe with Remus there to watch the child.
His son was playful as a werewolf for a moment that all-consuming fear and sadness lost a bit of it's grip on him. He felt a shadow of a smile pull at his lips as Devlin raced around the room, pouncing on the adult werewolves, his tail high in the air, his tongue hanging out in a pant. He 'yipped' and Harry very nearly laughed at the sound.
He watched as Geoffrey finally managed to subdue the little wolf, tugging him back towards a corner of the tent by the nape of his neck. He curled around Devlin, keeping him still, until Devlin finally fell asleep, and so did Geoffrey. The memory faded slowly then gave way to another one.
This time they were in a crowded, well lit room. There was a table in the center and around it sat twenty or so Death Eaters. Harry knew a few of them, but many he did not. Geoffrey was seated at the far end of the table and he was fidgeting under the table - Harry rather thought that Geoffrey's status had risen greatly with Devlin's appearance.
Suddenly all the murmuring stopped abruptly, because the tent door has opened and in it's frame was a small boy. The room was perfectly hushed and Harry could see the fear enter his son's eyes.
"Geoffrey, get rid of the child," Voldemort said.
"Where shall I bring him, My Lord?" Geoffrey asked, after he had approached the boy.
"To my tent. The boy knows the password." Geoffrey nodded and then they were tugged out of the tent and into the cool night air along with Devlin.
"What were you thinking?" The werewolf asked, eying the small child. Devlin tugged away from his grasp and growled.
"Don't touch me!" He said loudly, his little hands as fists at his sides. "I didn't say you could!"
"I don't listen to you," Geoffrey said smoothly, grabbing the boy again, eying the closed tent door, and hurrying them away. Harry felt superficial relief overwhelm him. "You are not My Lord."
They had stopped in front of another tent. Devlin looked set to argue, but Geoffrey tugged on him again and said "password please," firmly. When they were inside, entering into a small sitting room, Devlin rounded on the man.
"You're stupid," he said defiantly. "You don't know a thing."
"Is that so?" Geoffrey said, sounding a bit bored.
"You don't even know what a 'Lord' is!"
Geoffrey frowned for a moment, inspecting the boy with curiosity.
"What?" He asked, confused and taken aback. The boy crossed his arms. Harry waited with baited breath and Alexandra had a knowing smirk tugging at her lips, as if she already knew what Devlin was about to say. He stood on his tip toes, his head tilted back so that he had a good a look at Geoffrey.
"He's not the Lord at all. You're just a stupid Wizard who can't look past his nose, so you don't know! But I know! My mama taught me!"
Geoffrey arched one of his eyebrows regarding the child with what looked like humor and sadness all mixed together. He bent down, that boredom gone from his features along with his annoyance.
"That isn't my name anymore. I'm Dubhán now."
"Dubhán, that isn't the kind of 'Lord' the Dark Lord is."
"No...he's not trying to pretend to be God, either." Geoffrey said slowly, as if trying to recall something. "That's a Muggle thing, not a Magical thing."
"My mama believes in God!" Devlin defended.
"Well, she's a mudblood, isn't she?" Geoffrey reasoned, the word leaving his mouth smoothly. Devlin scrunched up his face. "Her parent's are muggles," he explained, "so of course she believes in their God."
Silence. Devlin's glare was potent. Harry would know - it was not something Voldemort taught his boy how to do.
"Voldemort is saying he is powerful - like a ruler."
"It wouldn't a good idea to let him know you felt he was pretending to be a muggle god," Geoffrey said after a moment, coming very close to the child. "He would be angry," he said slowly, as if imploring the child to understand.
"No, I don't think so," Devlin said after a while. "Lots of people do whatever God tells them to do and lots of people do what my grandfather tells them to do, too."
Harry felt himself swallow. Voldemort knew? Alexandra reached for him, intertwining their fingers.
The door had opened behind Geoffrey to admit Voldemort, who was sharing a regard with Devlin.
"Indeed, coming from a dimwitted child it is most like a compliment," Voldemort said scathingly. Devlin frowned, but held his tongue. "Indeed, he would find it unnecessary to be angry about such a comment, considering he had plenty reason to be angry at the child unlocking his door and going where he does not belong!" There was a hiss of anger and venom at the end, Voldemort's facade falling away.
Devlin worried his lip, but only from the inside of his mouth. Harry knew this move - this expression that meant he was thinking of every reason that had made it right in his head. Harry waited with baited breath, worrying eating at his stomach, his mind echoing with one word...punishment.
"I made a mistake," he said after a moment, pulling himself up straight and looking at Voldemort, eye to eye. "I won't do it again."
"Geoffrey, you are dismissed," Voldemort bit out, not looking away from the child. The memory swirled around them as Geoffrey left the tent, righting itself as a new memory.
Devlin was older here and for a moment Harry felt his heart simply stop beating in his worry. They were in a tent again. Devlin was on his knee's, bleeding from his shoulder. There was man in front of him and off to the side, stood Geoffrey.
Devlin got to his feet.
"What are you doing?" He shouted at the unknown man, who was putting away his wand. "Take that out right now. I didn't say we were done! I can do this!"
"You are bleeding, Dubhán."
"I'll make you bleed too, if you don't let me try again. I am perfectly fine."
The man pulled out his wand again and aimed it at the boy, but not before sharing a look with Geoffrey in the corner.
"Diffindo," the unknown said, and Harry waited for the little boy to side step, to fall to security of the ground, to do anything, but instead, at the last moment, he withdrew a wand and uttered the shield charm.
He summoned a shield and it held against the curse, but just barely.
"And you thought I didn't have it in me," he said, jeering, to the unknown man. He stepped forward, smiling. "Now you can put your wand away," he added, motioning to the man.
"Right you are. I guess you'll be off to tell The Dark Lord of your success?" The man asked, nonchalantly - as if this were a regular comment. Harry felt anger boil in his stomach at the casualness. Devlin was still bleeding!
"Why? What is so impressive about a silly little shield charm?"
For a moment the man looked set to argue, which he should have, Harry snarled, because it was absolutely amazing from a boy who couldn't be more than six! But then he paused and glance at Geoffrey, who shook his head ever so slightly.
"I suppose you're right. Especially since it took you a whole two days to master the charm."
"Oh shut it," Devlin said, with the air of a child who has said much worse. "You're a horrible teacher, that's the problem."
He might have been being rude, but Harry caught the smirk and so did the unknown man.
The memory faded and suddenly Harry was standing next to Sirius' desk once more, Alex pale beside him, Sirius' eyes vacant and disturbed, and his own mind reeling.
"I warned you," the Death Eater said behind him. "Devlin was a little boy full of fear - he died the moment he was stood before Voldemort."
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