Chapter 7 : A Brillant Plan
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They were standing close to each other, one hand intwined in another, talking. They looked worried and at peace at the same time. He felt his head throb with all the contradictions that this world seemed to be full of, leaving room for doubt and belief and opinions that he wasn’t used to being able to form so freely.
“Hey,” the man said, spotting him first. There was a look of happiness in his eyes, even as worry and fear crowded in as well.
“You left,” he said, letting the annoyance seep into his voice. He tried to ignore the swell of feeling that had crept into his stomach and forced his mind to choose those words. Surprise and hope came to join the fear, worry, and happiness in the man’s eyes. The lady smiled slightly.
“We’re sorry,” the man said, coming towards him.
“It don’t care that you left,” he said, defensively, “but you left me with them! They’re annoying.”
There was a tiny humored smiled on the ladies face, but the man seemed not sure what to think of his comment. It was clear to him that the man felt too much at once, already. He wasn’t entirely sure how one could even feel fearful, worried, happy, surprised, and hopeful all at once!
“I’m sure they weren’t all that bad,” the lady said kindly. She moved towards him, but it was to move past him. At least she wasn’t as coddling as the man. He scowled at her back, regardless. Perhaps she had known what torture it would be - made worse by the fact that he had almost thought he was alone!
The lady left into the kitchen, presumably to tell the two men they were back. Now he was alone with the man and all his confusing emotions. They made the man more vulnerable, in ways - he could sense that at least. He had to think about his reactions, whereas the lady was quick and determined.
“They wouldn’t let me go outside,” he said softly, complaining. He looked up through his fringed at the man. “I hate staying inside.”
The man’s brow crumpled in thought.
“You have to understand Dubhàn, how afraid I am of losing you.”
It was not the response he had anticipated and planned for and he felt his body take a step back, even as his head swayed a bit and his own brow crumpled, in weariness. Afraid of losing him? Afraid? Him, inciting fear?
Fear is for lesser beings than you and I.
But inciting fear wasn’t for lesser beings - Grandfather liked when he made others afraid. He wasn’t sure what to make of the man’s confession - whether to feel a swell of triumph or a swell of fear himself. The man took a step forward and bent onto a knee in front of him. They were eye to eye now - now he could see all the emotions up close in those brilliant green eyes.
“I love you so much, Dubhàn,” he said softly. Dubhàn felt trapped - not physically, but in his thoughts. Love him? And there it was, plainly visible in those green eyes. He felt trapped in those green eyes - so full of emotions and power. Power like his Grandfather - demanding attention, requiring caution. Even though Potter wasn’t as powerful as Grandfather, he was close and the fact that someone who was close in power to Voldemort could show these emotions and not be weaker for them, baffled him. It tipped his world on it’s axis. Love him...
He didn’t understand it. He could mimic every expression he had ever come across, but he felt sure he couldn’t make his eyes or face like Potter’s were now - full of love. It wasn’t like kindness or anger that you could appear to have felt without feeling it - it seemed to him you had to genuinely feel this to show it. And if that was true how was he ever to compete in this world? If Potter expected him to reciprocate this emotion, how was he ever to stay safe? Perhaps they would find out that he was more like their enemy without even having to find out what he had done - they’d see it in his inability to mirror this look back at them.
He shook himself.
“How would you feel if you were locked up inside forever?” He said stubbornly, trying to shake that expression off of Potter’s face with his own one full of determination and hatred. Maybe he could make Potter not love him, and then he would send him back to Voldemort without a fight. Potter’s face fell.
“I want you to go outside,” he said, determination in his own voice too, that love still sparkling incessantly in his eyes - taunting Dubhàn with his inability to copy the emotion. If he could, he felt Potter would have believed anything he said. “But I want you to be safe more.”
Potter’s hand had crept onto his shoulder and he took this moment to push it off with his hand and stomp his foot. It was childish, but he felt reduced to such behavior - unable to play Potter’s game at Potter’s level. Love.
“I’m not yours to keep!” He said softly, but with an edge of deadliness to his voice. A velvet covered knife. He spun away from Potter and out into the hallway. The werewolf was standing there, by the stairs - as if he’d been headed upstairs but been frozen along his way. He tried to brush past him, but the man caught his upper shoulder and the wolf inside of him refused to allow him to fight this man. It was only respectful, he knew. It was what any decent werewolf would do - listen to their elder. Especially a pup like him. For one fleeting moment he wished he hadn’t ever let that sharpness into his mind, but then in the next second he knew better.
“I never wanted to hurt you,” the werewolf said kindly, with awkwardness lingering in his tone. Dubhàn shrugged in the grasp - but not out of it - and frowned.
“You didn’t,” he said, after a moment, the anger with Potter still hanging on his tongue. “Being a werewolf saved me. I would have gone insane if I hadn’t been.” He was certain the werewolf didn’t really understand, but he didn’t want to give more information than that. Let him be confused. If it was entirely up to him, he’d have stomped away, after all. His gut churned with his wolf’s feelings on his thoughts. Guilt. The werewolf felt guilt for Dubhàn’s thoughts - an emotion Dubhàn did not often feel himself.
“I didn’t want to hurt you, but I am glad it kept you alive,” he said softly again, the awkwardness still there. “I wish that you could see how much everyone here cares for you.”
“They care about that little boy - not me,” he said bitingly and the werewolf’s eyebrows rose up in surprise.
“They care about their son - you are part of them.”
“Do they care about part of him, because I’m that, too!” His voice was a whisper full of anger and concealed fear.
“Part Voldemort?” The werewolf asked and Dubhàn nodded sharply. “So is Alexandra.” Dubhàn shook his head just as sharply.
“It’s not the same. She pretends she isn’t. I’m part him and I don’t pretend it isn’t true. They should all hate me for it, but they don’t, because they think they will make me want to pretend it isn’t true, too.”
“You give your mother too much credit and the rest of us too little,” he began slowly, peering at him softly. “But none of that matters to me, Devlin. When I look at you I don’t think of Voldemort, or the little boy, or Harry, or Alex - I think of you. I think of you as being mine and it makes my heart ache at the same time it makes my heart speed up with joy. You have no idea how happy I was when Alex wrote me and said you were alive. I had thought I had lost you forever.”
He was tame, Dubhàn could tell, but his brown eyes took on an amber hue and the significance wasn’t lost on him. His wolf had thought Dubhàn had been lost forever too.
The boy was afraid.
Geoffrey couldn’t stop shaking with fear that was only half his own. Across the table the Hermione girl stared at him intently, nursing a cup of tea. She’d taken over for Sirius Black. Now, it seemed, they thought he only needed one babysitter.
What threat could he be, when he could hardly breathe?
Geoffrey imagined Voldemort was sitting somewhere thinking of him and having a good laugh at the idea that Geoffrey had once even imagined he could escape punishment from Voldemort.
He had known two months after Voldemort had cast the dark spell upon him, that it had worked. The boy had run across one of the more extremist werewolves and Geoffrey had felt a twinge of fear that was not his own, as well as pain and desperation that was all his. He had felt the desperate need fix whatever had upset the boy. It was as if he had been ill and the boy had been the only draught that would save his life. The feeling hadn’t lasted very long and it had seemed to subside the tiniest bit with his action - as soon as he had begun running for the boy from across the camp, it had been bearable.
The full extent of Voldemort’s magic had eluded him, until now. Now, when he couldn’t do anything. There was no dulling the feelings - no making it bearable.
No breathing without pain.
No uninterrupted thought.
The boy was upset.
He let out a groan, only to clench his teeth against the next wave of pain-guilt-desperation-fear-torture-worry.
“Do you want another pain draught?” The girl asked, still sipping at her tea. Part of him wanted to hurt her for the mere fact that she could breathe while he could not, but he mastered the urge.
“No,” he said, because he knew it wouldn’t help for but a moment. “What is happening to him?” He tried to ignore the desperate edge to his voice. She put her tea down slowly, her brow furrowing in thought and her hands shifting with unspoken words.
“Is it really that bad? Harry told me just last night that he seems better than Alexandra thought he would.” Last night Geoffrey had gotten a couple blissful hours of sleep...the boy had been calm...
He laughed dryly at the humor she couldn’t see in her own words.
“When you think he is being better than you thought he would, you should be afraid.” He dug his fingernails into the wood of the tabletop, trying to complete one sentence without groaning or swaying in pain. “He’s clever.”
“Yes, Alexandra told me as much,” she said, sipping at her tea again, as if he weren’t as interesting now. Perhaps, more so, she hoped to illicit more from him than he from her. He fell into silence without much trouble, holding his head up with his hands. He might have gone to lay down, but that would have required communicating with the girl again and asking permission and then she would only follow him and watch him.
“We’re home!” It was Sirius Black’s voice, oddly cheerful. He parted his hands just long enough to see who ‘we’ was, and shuttered them again as the two men took a seat at the table. It was while they were making idle chat about the weather that he smelled it - the boy. On the werewolf.
He parted his hands and lunged forward, more than a little out of his mind with the pain-guilt-desperation-fear-torture-worry constantly thrumming in his chest. The smell of the boy - the slightest possibility that he could do something set him off. For a moment he could think and breathe. For a moment the pain-guilt-desperation-fear-torture-worry dulled and became bearable.
“You saw him,” he said, desperately. His hand was curled around the werewolf’s shirt, pulling him towards him, or he towards the werewolf - he couldn’t be sure any longer. “You saw Dubhàn.”
“Yes.” He wanted to hurt the man for the one word. Wasn’t it obvious that he wanted -needed- more than one bloody word?
“What is wrong?” He asked (begged) as he heightened himself so at least he was physically higher than the tame werewolf.
“He thinks they’ll hate him,” Remus said softly, looking right into Geoffrey’s eyes. “He’s sure they already would, if they would simply stop seeing him as the boy he used to be.”
The pain-guilt-desperation-fear-torture-worry returned as he fell back into his seat with a groan.
“Maybe they would,” he said, caustically. “Maybe this was all a mistake.”
It exploded in his head and it took him a long moment in which he didn’t breathe, to realize that the pain was physical. The tame werewolf had punched him.
There were pictures of the little girl all around the house - as a baby, as a toddler, as a little girl spinning unsteadily in princess dresses, and as herself as she looked today. There were pictures of the man and of the lady too - but never by themselves - always with a child. The child in the pictures wasn’t always the little girl, either. There were ones, like this one, of a green-eyed boy.
He pulled it off the side table to peer more closely at its occupants. The man was throwing the boy into the air. They were laughing - together.
This wasn’t the picture that haunted him the most, though. He couldn’t begin to remember what it was to be a carefree boy like the boy in the picture, and so it was easy to disregard the boy in the frame as he laughed and clung to the man, breathless.
No, it was the picture that had been settled upstairs in the hallway that haunted him. He hadn’t seen it, until just earlier. It lay hidden beneath the man’s coat, except that he had taken the coat with him when he had left and the picture had been exposed when he had stormed upstairs after speaking to the werewolf.
He had frozen when he had seen it - seen the boy staring out from the photograph. The boy who wasn’t laughing. The boy who wasn’t smiling. The boy who had his focused green eyes and his thoughtful frown. Him. With flecks of amber swimming in dark green pools and with lips that fidgeted in thought. Him.
“Devlin?” The man asked softly, from the doorway to the room. Light was still spilling through the curtains and he thought he could stand the room, as long as there was light and the door was open. “What are you doing?”
He meant the pictures, of course. There were at least a dozen frames spread out across the little bed, with him in the corner, looking at them all. He didn’t bother to look up.
“Why did you have a picture of me under your coat?”
“To remember you,” the man said, his voice wavering with awkwardness.
“I’m not smiling,” he said, pointing to the picture that now lay on the bed.
“You were mad at me,” the man said and even though he still hasn’t looked up, he can hear the man shuffling his feet.
“I don’t remember,” he said, still fingering the least haunting of the pictures - the tiny little boy being thrown into the air, laughing. The boy was small in the picture - too small to run properly, probably.
The man shifted again, and then broke past the doorway and into the room. His hands were shoved into his pockets, his shoulders pushed up, and he fished a hand out of a pocket to move a picture aside. He sat down on the bed with him and he mastered the urge to demand he move. He hadn’t invited the man, after all.
“It’s understandable not to remember,” the man said softly, brushing a finger along the photo of a boy kissing a babies head - a baby who had to be the little girl, with those brilliant blue eyes.
“I’m not that boy anymore, you know.” He pushed the picture of the boy laughing in the air towards the man. “I’ll never be him - ever - and you should send me back, because I’m not yours anymore.”
The man took the photograph in his hands, a ghost of a smile touching his lips as he peered at it, but his words ruin the smile and now instead there is a tight frown and those killing curse eyes, so full of life, come to regard him painfully.
“You’ll always be my son,” he said softly, as if all the air had been stolen from his lungs. “Always. I’ll always love you. I’ll always want you here - with me.”
“I’m not yours to keep,” he said firmly. “You should give me back.”
“You have been given back! You’ve been given back to us. It was from here that you were taken!” There was disbelief and frustration and worry and fear and so much else in those eyes and in his voice. It all made his head hurt and his heart pound. He surged to his feet on the bed, towering over the man.
“I know! I know! I know!” He said powerfully - loudly. The man had frozen and there must have been something in his wild gaze that made the man pause, because then he was looking at him, his face turning ashen. “I remember that,” he finished, unable to keep it to himself.
I remember you didn’t save me. I remember how nothing was alright.
Those killing curse eyes closed for the briefest moment and his whole frame slumped with defeat.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. Words no powerful wizard was ever supposed to say to someone like him - someone so less powerful. “I’m so sorry I didn’t save you.”
There were tears on those cheeks, fear in that voice, and love in those eyes and it all made him feel so trapped and uncertain. He wanted the world to be frozen so that he could think, but it kept going and he kept falling more and more behind, unable to keep up with all the new rules and emotions and words and feelings.
He had never seen someone cry like this and he felt a small sense of relief wash over him when the man brought his hands up to cover his face. There was something powerful about this...display. He felt as insecure and weary as he might have, had he been standing near Voldemort as he struck his wand through the air and made someone scream. It wasn’t like watching the person screaming, either. No, there was a power here in this crying, even as there was clearly a weakness. He couldn’t quite understand it all, how this man could make power and weakness mingle together until they became something so foreign and disturbingly bewitching.
He wanted to say something to make the man stop so that he could stop feeling this morbid enchantment in his chest like an ever-tightening strangle hold. He wanted to say something, but as he had no idea what would normally be said - if this display was even normal enough to have a standard response at all. He stood there on the bed, towering over the wizard, and the only sound that his brain could direct his mouth to make was a heavy breath of air, cut short as he realized it was coming. The sound people made who couldn’t think what to say. Voldemort hated that sound.
If you can’t speak coherently, child, then do not speak to me at all. There is nothing more bothersome than a boy who simply stands there, making sounds that mean nothing.
Those hands came away and those green eyes swung to his face, searching. He’d practically invited the gaze, with that sound.
“The time has come and gone - why cry?” It was something Voldemort said, well the first part, at least. He said other, nastier things, to illustrate his feeling that mistakes were mistakes and there was no taking them back and therefore no forgiveness. If you could fix it, you did that before you told him, at least that was what Dubhàn always thought he felt.
Think before you do anything. Time is more forgiving for wasted time than wasted effort.
The man laughed a bit - a dark laugh, even though he thought it was meant to be light. It reminded him of Grandfather, who even when Dubhàn managed to coax laughter out of him in private, it always sounded so rough and sarcastic.
“You’re right, you know. I have you here - I shouldn’t be wallowing in the past.” That had not been what Dubhàn had meant, of course. He hadn’t meant to extend any encouragement to the man, real or imagined or otherwise. He didn’t say anything to the words, intent to keep the man from another display of crying. “How about some lunch?”
He didn’t respond to that either, merely jumped off the bed, over the frames, and onto the floor.
“Is the annoying man gone?” He asked, arching his brow. The man nodded and he lead the way into the hallway. He didn’t look back and he didn’t slow - if he kept going he wouldn’t have to be too near to the man and he might still keep him from crying again.
Lunch was simple, at least in his opinion. He moved the well cooked chicken around on his plate, all but ignoring the mix of vegetables and pasta beside it.
“Hi, Zee-Zee,” the little girl said softly, as the dog wandered into the kitchen. The dog wagged his tail as if in acknowledgement and then went over to his bowl to eat his own lunch. He watched the dog, finding it far easier than watching the people around him, even if it was probably more boring.
It was while he was watching the dog that he noticed something indescribably brilliant. After the dog had eaten it wandered over to the locked and warded back door but instead of the man or the lady getting up to let him through, the little Snitch shape on his collar glowed for a moment and the seemingly solid door shimmered with a hidden flap that the dog pushed past, out into the backyard.
Grandfather was right. There was always something someone forgot.
He averted his eyes, fearing they might have caught him looking, but they carried on their conversation with Emma about her school. He took a bite, trying to look weary but interested.
“Do you want to play with us?” The girl asked after lunch. Her eyes shined a brilliant blue at him and made him pause with remembered affection. Most of him wanted to scowl at her and the childish pack of cards she was holding. He didn’t want to do anything with them, he wanted to say, watching as she would shy away. He wanted to make them hate him, because then he’d know...
It was but hours away. Hours up in the room, lonely and surrounded by the darkness and the memory.
“If you’d like,” he said slowly. After all, what harm could it do to let her smile once, because of him? She’d never know what he had done for her...it was only fitting he got to see her smile once.
She did - a brilliant little-toothed smile that left his own lips twitching twitching upward, uncaring that his reciprocation had made the man and lady smile too.
Don’t hurt Emma! I promise I won’t run away again.
Dinner was loud and filled with the annoying man. The werewolf came as they were sitting down, surprising him.
“Hello,” the werewolf said, his kind tame eyes flickering to each of them. He took a seat next to Dubhàn, but Dubhàn tried not to read too much into it, since it was the only seat left. Perhaps that illustrated that the man and the werewolf were the only ones brave enough to be near him.
“How have you been, Remus?” The lady asked softly, her gaze a bit more intense than Dubhàn would have expected. He followed her gaze, only to find a small bruise on the werewolf’s cheekbone - as if he’d almost missed a punch. It was while he was regarding the man more carefully that he noticed the scent.
Had they been in a fight? Had Geoffrey been hurt? Had Geoffrey been stupid enough to try and overpower his captors?
The man was a traitor, and he shouldn’t care what happened to him - but he did. The pup in him did. The boy in him did. The child who had sought him out in the middle of the night, did. The boy who had seen him stand between him and the Dark Lord, risking his own head for Dubhàn’s comfort (because they had both known the Dark Lord would not kill him), cared very much.
Debts stretch beyond loyalty, one Death Eater had told him once. Grandfather hadn’t liked the man much, but Grandfather didn’t like most people, so he’d learned not to judge people purely on his Grandfather’s opinion (which changed far too often for him to keep up with in the first place).
“You’ve seen Geoffrey,” he said, trying to sound casual. He shoved a piece of steak into his mouth, watching for the werewolf’s reaction. Tonight he must eat - he couldn’t be sure how long he would be running.
“Yes,” he said, his tone clipped and hard at the edges.
“He punched you,” he added, motioning toward the tiny bruise.
Remus turned to smile disarmingly at Emma, whose eyes had widened at the words.
“I don’t think this is something we should discuss at the table,” he said, his voice nice and bright and false. Dubhàn growled.
“Oh really?” He made his voice just as bright and false. “Alright. Maybe you’d like to hear about me, then,” he said, eying them all. “That’s all you’ve been asking about, right? I could tell you something interesting, like what the cutting curse looks like used in a duel....or-”
“Emma, sweetie, come with me for a moment. Devlin and Remus need a bit of privacy.”
“Why Mama?” Her blue eyes were wide and innocent, but Dubhàn looked away, not to be swayed from his strategy.
“It’s a boy thing I think, darling,” she said and plucked the little girl out of her chair and left to the living room.
“You’ve seen Geoffrey,” Dubhàn said again, smiling smugly. “And he punched you.”
“Not before Remus punched him!” The annoying man said, punching the air and saying a quiet ‘go Mooney!’ Had the man no decorum? Dubhàn blinked, uncertain of him.
“Sirius!” Remus hissed, clearly having at least an ounce of decorum himself. “Yes, I’ve seen Geoffrey,” Remus continued, looking at him.
“Why did you punch him?” He asked, hard and cold and...preparing to defend the traitor...
“He said something that upset me. It was not an appropriate response and I have already apologized.”
Apologized? He could feel his face showing his confusion before he could control the muscles movements. Once more he was surprised and started and overwhelmed by the difference here as opposed to home. He might not have been able to control his face, but he bit back his words before they too, betrayed him.
“And you - what did you do?” It was directed at the annoying man. Suddenly faced with Dubhàn’s regard, he sobered up.
“I peeled him off Remus afterwards, that’s all. We wouldn’t hurt him intentionally, little man. Harry told us he’s important to you.”
Harry told us he’s important to you.
Important to you.
They wouldn’t hurt him because of his opinion? He felt a thrill of power rush through him at the words - at the control. He’d felt this control before, of course. The Death Eater’s listened to him about small things at the camp and they all feared upsetting him, but they would never keep someone safe because of him.
“That’s right. I don’t want you to hurt him at all,” he said, firmly. When he had been much younger he had mimicked this tone from his Grandfather, thinking it was this tone that made people do things against their will, only to realize years later it was the Imperius curse instead. Still, the tone had stuck with him and it usually did make people more inclined to consider. “You won’t right? Tell the truth!”
There was a deepening frown across the man’s face now and a new kind of fear in his eyes at the last of his words. Which was strange, because they usually incited the opposite in Grandfather’s eyes, who had laughed the first time he’d made the demand and ruffled his hair and...told the truth.
“We won’t,” the man said, but there was uncertainty in his eyes that didn’t sit well with Dubhàn, who needed this to be final. To last even after he had escaped. So he opened his mouth, intent and determined to seal the deal.
“Do you promise, Daddy?” After all, it wasn’t that he didn’t remember who he was or who they were, or even who they had once been to him, rather that he knew what he had been to them was no longer. He knew it and he wanted to leave before they knew it too. Before they knew he wasn’t their boy anymore.
Those green eyes, so full of life and yet the same color as the curse that takes life, widen. The fear was chased away by happiness that somehow seemed foreign in the green pools. His hands were on the table now, his body leaning against them as he leaned forward.
“What did you say?” He asked, breathless and genuine without an ounce of confusion. If he knew he hadn’t misheard why would he want to hear it again? Dubhàn felt the edges of his mouth tipping into a frown.
“I asked if you would promise.”
His head was bobbing up and down eagerly before the words even escaped his mouth.
“Yes, of course. I promise. I never intended to harm him.”
Dubhàn rather doubted that was true, but he didn’t much care either. He nodded and then he turned back to his food as if the conversation hadn’t come up at all. He had a lot of planning to do.
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