Chapter 8 : Frozen Freedom
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“Geez, why do you have to be there, staring at us?” Sirius asked, growling a bit. Somehow the Death Eater simply unsettled him, no matter what he was doing. The Death Eater had a caustic sort of attitude, even when he was attempting to be polite, and Remus thought it reminded Sirius a bit of his family.
“I am only permitted in two downstairs rooms,” the Death Eater said. “Would you rather I have stared at you when you came into the kitchen?”
“You could have been upstairs,” Sirius said, taking a step forward and lowering his voice in mock suggestion.
“Very true. Next time, I’ll surprise you at the top of the stairs - would that suit you better?”
Sirius growled and the Death Eater smirked while Remus - he just sighed. He felt like he was back at Hogwarts, between Severus and Sirius. At least there was only the two of them.
“You guys alright? Hermione and I haven’t seen each other’s faces in days.” Remus nodded quickly so the boy could get going. When he had gone through the floo, the Death Eater’s amber eyes turned to him and narrowed. Remus ignored him and walked past, into the kitchen. Sirius joined him. It was here, about an hour later, that the werewolf found them as well.
“How was the boy?”
“Why do you call him that?” He returned evenly.
“Because you would not appreciate what I would call him, otherwise.”
Remus frowned and Sirius grunted - whether in annoyance or agreement Remus couldn’t be sure.
“He’s fine. He was eating well. He was worried about you.”
The werewolf’s eyes narrowed to tiny slits.
“It is impolite to lie for someone else,” he said, his voice level and certain.
“I wasn’t lying. He is fine and he did ask after you.”
“What did he say, exactly?”
“Well, he got out of us that we had exchanged punches,” Remus began, honestly trying to recall Devlin’s exact words. “Then I told him it hadn’t been the right thing for me-” the Death Eater snorted and shook his head “Yes, that’s about how he looked when I said I apologized. After that Sirius said we knew you were important to him and Sirius reassured him that we weren’t going to hurt you-”
“How pitiful you must seem to him.”
Remus ignored the words.
“and he said “yes, that’s right. I don’t want you to hurt him at all.”
“Well then Harry reassured him. He seemed to relax a lot after that. I think it’s really been worrying him, that somehow you’re in trouble. He even called Harry ‘Daddy’ afterwards.”
The Death Eater leaned forward more, his forearms resting on his thighs, his wrists wrapped together and his shoulders hunched forward. He laughed and the noise startled Remus and disturbed Sirius, who yelled ‘shut up!’
“In what context did the little wolf call Potter Daddy? Was there a promise attached?”
He laughed again.
“I sure hope Potter has everything covered, because the boy doesn’t think so.”
“What do you mean?” Sirius asked, irked enough to have pulled his wand.
“I mean that he’s putting all his pixies in a row,” the Death Eater said, that same grin on his face. He looked between Remus and Sirius and his face suddenly sobered. “Potter has got everything covered, right? The boy can’t escape? Voldemort won’t simply welcome him back with open arms.” the Death Eater was on his feet now, agitated. “Without me, he’ll punish the boy...”
“Are you saying you think Devlin is trying to escape?”
“Haven’t you been listening to a word I said?” The Death Eater shouted, beginning to pace. He wrung his hands.
It had clearly once been a vibrant green, but it was faded and dirty now. The buckle was partially stuck, as if it didn’t come off very often and the dog looked quizzically at it in his hand, as if he weren’t used to seeing it off his neck.
Dubhàn examined the simple muggle collar on his lap while the dog used his hind leg to scratch his neck with vigor. It was dark outside now, the moon still hardly worth mentioning, and the stars hidden behind a veil of clouds. The room whispered with haunting memories that Dubhàn tried to ignore in favor of the near-freedom held between his fingers.
The annoying man and the werewolf had left at last. The lady and the man had gone to their room. The little girl had stopped telling her toys bedtime stories. He had even managed to find the original clothing he escaped in, tucked in a laundry basket upstairs. He shrugged his cloak so that it fell more firmly around his shoulders, still humming with charms that would protect him from the cold and wet. He wished he had his dragon hide boots, but he hadn’t exactly known he would be leaving the camp.
He had already made his plans and even taken the time to draw the whole thing out with those waxy writing utensils found in the desk. The page was tucked in his cloak, by his heart - but he wouldn’t need to look at it, he was certain.
So he stood.
“Good dog,” he felt compelled to say, as he reached his hands up to his neck and buckled the collar around himself. The dog looked at him oddly and he did his best not to acknowledge the question in the regard. He went to pick up his wand from the bedside table, when he caught sight of the picture of the boy kissing the little girl. On impulse, he undid the frame and tucked the picture inside of his cloak. When he made it past the wards he’d cast a disillusionment charm on the photo so that it would look like plain paper. Now he picked his wand up and began to tuck it between his teeth. Again, the dog gave him an odd look.
“Do you have pockets? No, I didn’t think so.”
He took another look around the room at the pictures of the boy he could never be, at the toys he couldn’t imagine using, at the books that couldn’t hold his attention, at the waxy writing sticks that didn’t give him the detail he was used too, and at the bedspread with it’s childish pattern that Grandfather would have scowled at.
Zee whined softly.
“Don’t do that. You’re a good dog. I’d take you if I could,” he assured. “But here, you can have this,” and he pulled out a ham bone that he had nicked from the trash after dinner. The dog took it and Dubhàn was certain he had him fooled, except that as soon as he looked away, the dog dropped the bone and whimpered again.
“Don’t make me silence you,” he said. “I have to do this.”
He bent down, to scratch the dogs muzzle. The dog licked him gently and, knowing he couldn’t escape, he cast a silencing charm on the dog. He tucked his wand between his teeth and he crept over to the door as the dog whined noiselessly and ducked out into the hallway. In the hallway he transformed into a pup and crept forward and down the stairs soundlessly.
The kitchen was empty, just as he suspected. He moved toward the door. The collar vibrated on his neck ever so slightly and he very nearly jumped in surprise, but he pushed forward. There was an outline of a door now and he pushed his nose into the surface, excitement building when it gave way under to the movement.
He inhaled through his nose and shook his body so that the cool air snuck between every piece of fur and tingled the skin beneath. He made his way off the landing and down the stairs easily enough and then he was faced with a large backyard. There was fencing, but it was just for show and even as a boy he could simply crawl under it. It would be the wards that kept him in and it was those that were on his mind as he made his way forward, toward the back and to the left a bit. There was a clear meadow beyond that point, flanked on either side by dashes of trees that would make quick cover, if he needed it. The meadow would let him run quickly and get as far as possible.
He slunk, still in wolf form, toward the edge of the yard. When he felt the pre-warning fizzle of the wards, he shrugged the collar off while it would still fit over his head and then transformed.
He reached up to pull the wand out from between his teeth and pointed it at the wards. He could never disengage them entirely, he knew - such was far beyond his ability - but he had invented a spell a couple years ago that numbed the wards in an area and then he could cut through them, without the alarm going off. Grandfather would have been impressed, he was sure, if he had ever told him.
He started the charm.
There was only one problem.
The sound of a door opening.
Yes, that problem. The dog and the man were racing towards him, the door slamming shut behind their frantic forms. The dog barked soundlessly as it’s long legs bounded toward him. The man was wearing the same lounge pants as he had the first night Dubhàn had seen him at the table and a black t-shirt. If Dubhàn had two moments to think he would have thought the man looked very Muggle-ish, but he only had one moment and he used it to spin around and ready his wand for a fight.
The man looked startled for a moment, to see a wand in his hand. The dog stopped farther away and Dubhàn had the suspicion that the man had cast a spell on the animal.
“Thought you’d been holding a defenseless child, hmm?” He asked, snarling and jabbing his wand through the air to illustrate his feelings on the subject. He hated when people underestimated him.
“I didn’t think you had a wand,” the man said slowly and Dubhàn noted his own wand, pointed neutrally at the ground. “Frankly, Dubhàn I don’t consider you the type of boy to be defenseless in any situation, even without a wand.”
It was the first time the man had spoken to him as if he weren’t the little boy and Dubhàn felt the tiniest bit of his hatred fracture and chip away at the acknowledgement that the words symbolized.
“Come inside,” the man continued in earnest, his brow low and knitted together, his non wand hand gesturing gently, his voice full of kindness and his eyes flooded with love. Dubhàn felt his chest constrict as that feeling of knowing and not knowing flooded him again. “You don’t want to do this, Devlin.”
“I’m not Devlin,” he said stubbornly, clinging to the one thing he knew how to dispute. “I want to do this.”
The man raked a hand through his hair and his shoulders tensed. His eyes were wet now with tears that wouldn’t fall.
“It doesn’t matter what I call you - you’re my son and I don’t want to lose you again!”
“I’m not Devlin,” he said again, because he wasn’t the boy Potter didn’t want to lose - he was someone else. He would never be that boy again. He didn’t know what to think of that boy. He hardly remembered him. He looked at him in the pictures in the room and could hardly recognize him at all.
Potter shook his head in dismay, readying to say something, when suddenly he looked up. There was realization in his eyes, cold and hard and full of worry.
“You’ll always be Devlin,” he said, an edge of firmness seeping into his voice. “Always. You’ll always be my Devlin.”
There was love there again, in those killing curse green eyes.
“You wouldn’t say that, if you knew,” he said softly, shaking. He was suddenly thankful that he hadn’t refused his potion tonight like he had the first night, because he’s certain the abyss would have swallowed him now if he hadn’t.
“I’ll always say it,” the man said firmly, taking a step forward. “You’ll always be my Devlin.”
Another step. Another shimmer of love in those eyes. Another moment that he felt trapped.
“No matter what,” the man said said again, a whisper. Those green eyes captivated him, those words an impossible balm to his wounds that just couldn’t be true. And by the time he had summoned the doubt to break his trance, the man has lunged forward and enclosed him in his arms. His wand was ripped from his grasp physically; a phenomenon that had never happened to him before and made him feel all the more powerless andchildish.
“Shh, shhh,” the man whispered, as he screamed and kicked and clawed at him like a tantruming child. Within moments they were back inside the house and even through his wildness he noticed the man charm the dog door shut. Failure. He had failed. “It’s alright, calm down Devlin,” he said softly, the man brushing his cheek against the top of his head. The dog was hiding under the table, it’s body tense and uncertain.
Dubhàn fought and clawed and kicked and screamed. There were noises now of rushed feet scrambling down the stairs. The lady was at the door, shouting over his wildness, asking what had happened and he wanted to shout I failed! I failed! except she wasn’t really talking to him, so he kept screaming and clawing at the man. They were on the floor, he realized sharply.
“It’s alright, Alex,” the man shouted, over him. “Go take Emma.” And it was with a sharp twinge that he realized the little girl was there, watching him. He fell still suddenly, peering at her little form. Her hair was brought back into a sleep-disheveled braid and she was wearing a blue sleeping gown. Her blue eyes, so full of fear and wariness, reminded him of another pair of blue eyes.
The lady gathered the little girl in her arms and took her away through the floo. Suddenly there were no brilliant blue eyes to regard him with fear and no disheveled red hair to remind him. He could move now. He could breathe again. Except the man was holding him still, whispering words in a comforting tone.
“Oh Merlin, Devlin. Are you really that afraid of me? Did he really make me out to be such a monster? I love you. I don’t want to lose you. What were you going to do after you escaped? You can’t disapperate and I bet you have no bloody idea where he is anyways.” The arms drew around him again and the man breathed into his hair. “Don’t do that again. You scared me. I thought I had lost you again.”
“You wouldn’t care, if you knew,” he said again, pushing himself away from the man. Part of him wanted to melt into the embrace, but the other part of him knew better. Soon Grandfather would come for him and it wouldn’t do to think this was how things should be, because Grandfather would call this weakness and foolishness and he’d punish him, if he knew.
“You wouldn’t say that, if you understood,” the man returned, more even toned than Dubhàn had expected. This was not the tone adults used to speak to little boys.
“I don’t belong to you,” he said, scrambling backwards so that there were at least sixteen inches between them. He would have put more space between them, except that his back collided with the back door.
Confusion flittered across the man’s face for a moment, but it was swept away by the sound of footsteps. Dubhàn froze, knowing the lady hadn’t come back yet. Fear crept into his belly.
“It’s alright,” the man reassured and Dubhàn felt his gaze snap to those green eyes, honestly taken aback that the man had known he was afraid.
Beyond the green eyes were two amber eyes, staring at him with something akin to relief and fear.
“Geoffrey,” he breathed, lost for a moment as a sharp sense of knowing and familiarity swept over him.
“Hello, pup,” Geoffrey whispered. There were dark bags beneath his eyes and his whole face had a sort of greyish hue like unappealing food. “They thought you were such a boy,” he said softly. “And you let them.”
There was surprise in his voice, even as disapproval seeped in next to it. Dubhàn frowned, trying to work his way through the words meanings.
“You told them.”
“You tried to protect me,” he said softly and this time it was more surprise and wonder than disapproval. The air felt thick and confining and Dubhàn wasn’t sure if he tried to stand that his legs would obey him. He stayed on the ground and so did the man.
The other werewolf was lingering by the kitchen door, watching with his wand out. Their eyes connected for a moment and Dubhàn felt a thrill of recognition from his wolf sweep up his spine.
He didn’t answer Geoffrey, because the only words he could honestly say would be traitorous ones.
“You always were such a stubborn boy,” Geoffrey said his voice rasp and full of something Dubhàn could not pinpoint.
“I don’t belong to them,” Dubhàn said, his voice oddly small, his eyes darting to and away from Geoffrey’s own gaze. Potter was still sitting there, between Dubhàn and the rest of the kitchen, but Geoffrey crossed the space and stepped across Potter’s legs, to reach him.
His hands were warm and reassuring as they lifted him to his feet. Potter’s wand had twitched in his grasp and Dubhàn eyed it nervously, afraid that he would hurt Geoffrey, who was pulling him closer. It wasn’t a hug - even if Dubhàn might have allowed it normally, Geoffrey knew he wouldn’t allow it in front of Potter.
Their faces were mere inches apart. Geoffrey leaned forward, so that his lips were by Dubhàn’s left ear.
“This is where you belong,” he said softly. Before Dubhàn could protest, he opened his mouth again. “Perhaps you belong to him,” he said his voice a bare wash of air - a secret just between them - “but this is where you belong.”
Dubhàn frowned, rolling the concept around in his mind. Was it possible to belong to a person and a place, all at once? The idea was thrilling in an unexpected way, like a rush of freedom, but it was also scary. He shut his eyes and took a breath and wished he hadn’t heard the words at all. It was dangerous, just having them in his head. Voldemort always knew things he shouldn’t be able to know - things Dubhàn hadn’t told him. Dubhàn was almost certain he even knew his deepest darkest secrets. It was only a sliver of remaining hope that kept him protecting them at all.
“If you’ve got something to say to him, say it loud enough for me to hear,” Potter said suddenly, his voice nervous and his shoulders tense. Geoffrey ignored him, pulling back to look Dubhàn in the eye.
“I had to protect you, Dubhàn. I had to let him have you. I knew...if the Dark Lord knew of my capture, he wouldn’t trust me with you anymore. You had to be protected and I knew the protection couldn’t come from me.”
Potter fell oddly still beside them and the wand in his hand went a little limp.
“Perhaps they will let me see you again, Dubhàn,” Geoffrey whispered. He started to turn around.
“They think I am the boy still,” Dubhàn cried out as Geoffrey’s hand slipped away from his shoulder. Leaving him. He wanted the hand back on his shoulder - wanted to feel something familiar grounding him to reality even if he shouldn’t want a traitor near him at all.
Geoffrey turned around slowly, his brow furrowing and his lips flattening. He spared the man a look and shook his head, as if in reprimand.
“Why does that concern you?” He asked and Dubhàn huffed in frustration. Geoffrey stepped forward again and, turning to the man asked: “Is Dubhàn allowed to speak quietly, at least?”
The man nodded stiffly after a moment of thought. Geoffrey crouched, so that Dubhàn could lean forward and whisper in his ear.
“They will hate me, Geoffrey. They will kill me. Don’t you see? They think I am that little boy. They think I am like them. They think I am light but I am dark and the blond man...he told me what Potter does to dark wizards...”
Geoffrey growled, so loud and fierce that the annoying man who must have been waiting in the hallway came into the kitchen with his wand held high.
“You are such a foolish pup,” he said bitingly, but Dubhàn knew the bite wasn’t for him.
Dubhàn reached forward, pulling Geoffrey close to him again. He felt weariness creep into his eyes and tried to convince himself it wasn’t fear.
Fear is for lesser beings than you and I.
He whispered his next words so quietly that he might have only said them in his mind, except that his jaw was moving.
“He doesn’t want me to be that boy, Geoffrey. If he thought...”
There was sadness and sympathy in the werewolf’s eyes - emotions that they usually reserved for when it was only them.
“You’re afraid,” the werwolf said, just as quietly to him.
“What did I say about whispering?” The man said, although there wasn’t very much firmness to the reprimand this time.
“No I’m not!” He shouted, offended and embarrassed. “Fear is for lesser beings than I!” He said firmly, folding his arms across his chest and looking away.
Unfortunately that put his gaze right on Potter. The killing curse eyes looked as if they had finally surrendered to the curse they resembled. There was a hard blankness to them that disturbed Dubhàn, who had only seen them full of life and determination. If this was what the eyes would look like, if the man knew...well he didn’t want him to know - ever.
“Can’t you see, pup?” Geoffrey was saying softly, but audible enough that the man could hear too. Dubhàn looked back at him cautiously. “Can’t you see how safe you are here? Look at him,” the werewolf continued, pointing to Potter. Potter’s eyes widened in his surprise. The life was back in his eyes and Dubhàn felt as if he could breathe once more. “Can’t you see that damn love in his eyes? It traps you, child. Makes you forgive unforgivable things. Makes you hold someone close while they bite and kick and hurt you! You could confess anything to him and it wouldn’t change.”
Hurt and dread and tormenting anticipation sprung to life in those green eyes and they died a little bit again in the presence of such things. Once more Dubhàn felt his breath cling to the inside of his lungs, unable to move. Somehow it felt like the whole world might stop, if those eyes ceased to be alive.
He moved his gaze away from Potter and to Geoffrey. He hadn’t anything to say - or at least nothing he felt he could say. If Voldemort learned this secret Dubhàn wouldn’t be the one to have said anything positive. His presence and his lack of fight would be enough of a condemnation.
“Do you think I hate you?” Potter asked suddenly, licking his lips and looking at him with something akin to terror and dread and hurt. Except Dubhàn had seen all of those things in mens eyes before and they weren’t like Potter’s eyes now - somehow each was different than what Dubhàn had thought they were supposed to be. It wasn’t like the terror that filled a screaming mans face. It wasn’t like the dread that came when Voldemort aimed his wand. It wasn’t like the hurt that filled their eyes while they begged. It was different and Dubhàn couldn’t understand it because he had never seen it before. The foreignness disturbed him as much as the sight of it in Potter’s eyes.
Most of him hated the man already.
It will be alright, Devlin. Nothing was ever alright.
The left over bits and pieces of him wanted the man to understand and it was those long-ago broken shards that kept his eyes glued to the mans, willing him to understand that he couldn’t answer the question. Voldemort would know and his mere presence was damnation enough.
He could almost hear the soft purr of Voldemort’s words by his ear as he circled him. You believe yourself intelligent enough to fool me? I can see it all in your head. You wanted to be there.
His silence was flaying the man’s nerves and all those emotions in his eyes looked more and more raw by the second.
“I could never hate you,” the man said finally, as if Dubhàn had given him an answer. He didn’t like it when people put words in his mouth.
“You don’t know me enough to hate me,” he said cryptically, even though he had told himself he wouldn’t answer. Anger swelled inside of his chest and propelled the words past his tongue and out through his tightening jaw. “I’m just a ghost to you - a ghost of something you couldn’t hate. You could hate me, I promise.”
There was terror in Geoffrey’s eyes. The werewolf had doubts about his claims - he wanted the man to like Dubhàn - wanted the man to protect him. Dubhàn was screwing up his plans, but Dubhàn didn’t care, because the anger and feelings were swelling disproportionately inside of him and overtaking his logic.
The man shook his head, like he had the other day with the picture frames.
“I could never hate you.”
“I don’t believe you,” he said firmly, his eyes narrowed and his voice a loud whisper.
“Why?” It was such a simple word and it left so much room for abuse. Dubhàn could answer it however he wanted. He took a step forward, his eyes gleaming at the opening.
“Because I can hate you. I don’t see why you can’t hate me.” He waited for the hurt to explode in those eyes, because it was there already large and painful, but it didn’t grow. The man rose to his feet unsteadily. He was taller than Dubhàn now.
“It’s different,” he said softly, but with a firmness Dubhàn hadn’t expected to be there. “You’re the child, not the parent. When you love a child, you can never completely hate them again.”
Love. He snarled at the word and it’s presence in the man’s eyes.
“But you can hate me!” He shouted, because he’d heard it clearly enough from the man. Hate was hate whether it was ‘complete’ or partial.
“Not for anything about Voldemort,” the man said sharply and there was a gleam of knowing in his eyes that made Dubhàn take a step backwards.
“I’m not yours,” he said softly, feeling his defenses crumbling around him.
“No, you’re not,” the man said, just as softly. He took a step closer. “You don’t belong to anyone but yourself.”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!
“You’re a fool if you think that,” he said instead and he raced past the man and Geoffrey. He pushed past the annoying man, who might have grabbed him, except that the man had said ‘Let him be’. Now he was in the hallway, his breath coming raggedly as he leaned against the wall.
“He’s not used to this,” the man was saying in the kitchen. Dubhàn squeezed his eyes closed and tried to calm his blaring headache. “Obviously he’s having a problem adjusting - that’s normal, right?”
Huh, hhhuh, huuh.
The dog was there, pushing it’s head against his lank palm, begging for his attention. He found himself petting it’s head absent-mindedly. He opened his eyes and Zee licked his finger tips, slurping them into his mouth like a pup. It was then that he realized he was not alone in the hallway. Across the way was a man, his deep black eyes observing him silently. He was dressed in black robes, buttoned all the way to his chin. He smelled of herbs and spices and minced potion ingredients and he was holding a wand, twirling it through his lanky fingers in a manner that reminded Dubhàn of his grandfather.
There was knowledge and power in those endless black eyes and Dubhàn felt himself still - as if he were stood before a Death Eater.
“He’s calling you a fool,” the man said in a whisper. Somehow even his whisper was fierce.
“I’m not a fool,” he said stubbornly. “Does the man know you’re here?”
“Would you tell him, if he didn’t?” He asked, smiling cynically. Dubhàn felt his heart quicken.
“Are you here to rescue me?”
The scowl on the man’s face deepened.
“No,” he said. “You’ve already been rescued. Neither am I here to kidnap you.”
“Then the man probably already knows you are here,” he said softly.
“Quite probable,” the black-eyed man said. “Just as he is probably right that you are like him: a fool who simply survived Voldemort by mere luck.”
“He didn’t say that,” Dubhàn seethed, his voice a deadly whisper. The man smirked in bemusement, the way adults look when they are merely humoring a child’s misbeliefs.
“You’re right. He insinuated that you are a complete fool and you managed to survive the Dark Lord simply by luck. Otherwise, you would easily be able to adapt to a new set of standards, just like someone who had survived because of skill instead of luck...”
“I’m no fool!” He said, his voice rising just slightly, his fists clenching. Zee nudged him with his wet nose, but Dubhàn hardly noticed.
“Your...display...certainly leads me to believe the opposite.”
“Who are you to know anything about what a fool looks like?”
The dark-eyed man swept forward, his hooked nose nearly touching his own nose, his lank greasy hair that smelled of potion vapor fumes brushing by his cheek.
“I am Severus Snape, Mr. Devlin Potter and I know more than you about what a fool looks like.”
Dubhàn felt a thrill pass through him. Severus Snape - renowned Potion Master! But this man was equally a traitor. Grandfather had told him some about this man - books had told him the rest.
“And a traitor?” He asked, his voice falsely sweet. He dare not flinch or draw in too much air. He wouldn’t have the man thinking him scared. “I could act like they want, but why bother?”
It was then that Potter heard them in the hallway and came out, flicking his wand and turning on the lights. Now Dubhàn could see the man properly, and the man could see him. Something in the man’s face flinched and he drew back hurriedly. Dubhàn wondered what was so spooky about his face.
“Severus, I see you met Dubhàn.”
“Excuse me, but I thought you had named him Devlin,” the Potion Master said, with a sneer on his face that clearly said he knew what Potter had named him.
“Yes well, he goes by both right now, I suppose.” Potter said, obviously a tad uncomfortable. “You were taking over with Geoffrey, right? He’s ready to go.”
The obsidian eyes flickered to Potter’s green and seemed lost in the green gaze for a split second before coming back to Dubhàn.
“I shall see you the day after tomorrow, Devlin Potter,” he said with distaste. “Potter tells me you need a potion brewed.”
“I don’t need any such thing,” Dubhàn said. “And it is Dubhàn.”
“Your father may choose to give into your every whim, but I simply don’t care.” He scowled deeply. “I also don’t care if you want me to brew this potion,” he added caustically.
“Well that will be a problem won’t it, since you’ll need me to tell you how to brew it in the first place,” he said, just as caustically.
Severus Snape laughed and it was such an odd sound. He swooped forward again and tapped Dubhàn’s head with one long lanky finger. His palms smelled of oils, metals, and aged wood, with a dash of cleaning solution. Dubhàn’s nose wrinkled without his permission.
“I can see these things, just like him,” he smirked at the fear in Dubhàn’s eyes and then rose up to his full height, adjusting his robes. Geoffrey eyed him as he was led into the living room and Dubhàn knew he was waiting for a good-bye, but Dubhàn couldn’t give it to him - couldn’t make himself say the words. Snape strode to the floo, putting his hand on Geoffrey’s forearm and propelling them both through the flames.
Now it was the man and him, alone in the hallway.
Potter stared at him for a moment in the bright magical lighting that lined the hallway. He was still dressed in his night clothes and Dubhàn was still in his wizarding robes, a stark contrast that even he seemed to pick up on.
“What are you looking at?” Dubhàn asked, still feeling childish.
“How handsome you’ve become,” Potter said. “How much you have grown and how much you have stayed the same, despite all the differences.”
“I’ve already told you I’m not that boy anymore,” he sneered.
“Children never stay the same. Once you were barely the size of my arm,” he said, fondness glowing in his eyes as he held his forearm against his body. “But then you changed. Everyone changes, but they’re still the same.”
Dubhàn turned away from the man, intent to avoid the love in those killing curse eyes.
“You mum will be home soon,” he said softly, leaning against the opposite wall. His body was lean and strong and Dubhàn was especially aware of his physical power, now that Dubhàn had felt those arms around him,stopping him. It made Dubhàn especially aware of his own size. He wasn’t often conscious of being a child, but times like this made him aware of the weakness.
He flexed his hands, determined to show Potter what he was made of, if the man ever tried to stop him like that again. He’d been distracted and caught off guard, and that wouldn’t happen again.
“Do you want some hot cocoa?”
“No.” Potter shrugged easily, as if he had no trouble letting the anger and hatred in Dubhàn’s voice roll off his shoulders. Dubhàn frowned - if it was one thing he had come to count on with the man in the extremely short time he had known him, it was that the man always had an emotional reaction.
“Do you want your wand back?”
Devlin’s eyes snapped up to meet Harry’s green gaze and once more Harry was faced with the boy that wasn’t the same. Alexandra had been trying to tell him Devlin wasn’t that little boy anymore and Harry hadn’t been able to listen, but now he knew. Now he could see what was standing right before him.
Alexandra could take someones words (the tone, the pacing, the flow), their minute facial expressions (an ached brow, a crumbled frown, thin lips, crinkled nose), and the whole situation and come away with a well-founded theory about what they were feeling and thinking. She was usually right, too. Harry, on the other hand, made all his judgements on actions.
He’d been ignoring all of Devlin’s actions, but tonight it had been impossible not to see him for what he was: a different boy. Devlin had grown and changed and experienced things. It hadn’t been that the boy had tried to escape, because they had prepared for that (or so they thought). Rather it had been that, when the boy had heard him he hadn’t tensed with fear or tried to run further - his first course of action had been to fight. He had spun his body around and sneered - his lips tight and and his nose flared - and he had assumed a dueling position that was far from childish. Harry had felt the magic, deep and tense and active. He had felt the sheerstrength of the boy as he had held him, thrashing, in his arms. He’d have the bruises to prove it, tomorrow.
The boys words, shouted so loudly they might have just been incoherent screams, still rang in his ears. Don’t touch me!
They weren’t words that his Devlin had known how to scream with such desperation.
Later that night, Alexandra will lay with him in bed and Harry will confess his epiphany. He could imagine what Alexandra would say, in her soothing voice, ‘no, you saw it all along Harry - you finally accepted it’ and she would kiss him lightly on the space between his shoulders and neck.
“I asked if you wanted your wand back,” he reminded gently. Those intense eyes were still regarding him, guarded and endless.
“I heard you. You’re taunting me.”
“I’d never taunt you,” he said softly, a little hurt despite his resolution to be unaffected by Devlin’s attitude.
“You would give me my wand back?”
“Why?” Harry felt a rush of joy at the word, reminded the tiniest bit of his little boy, following him around the house, asking it endlessly.
“Because I don’t want you to worry,” he said, trying not to sound too loving.
“I could hurt you with it,” he said, casually.
“I know, but I don’t think you will.”
“I was going to, back there!” He said loudly, offended.
Harry took a step forward, leaning down to the boys level.
“You’re not a prisoner here,” he said. “You don’t belong to me - I’m just keeping you safe.” He rose to his feet, seeing the discomfort in the boys eyes. “Besides, I saw your stance and I bet you’re trained. I bet you candefend yourself with it and I won’t deny you that.”
“I’ll try to escape again.”
“No you won’t. Now I know how clever you are - and you know I know.”
“Well then, are you going to give it to me?” He held his hand out, although he couldn’t be sure if his wand had even made it inside again.
“At the end of the week. That’ll give me a few days to check it for spells.”
Dubhàn pulled his lips back in a sneer.
“I don’t believe you.”
It was then that the floo flared to life and Alexandra and Emma came tumbling through. The little girl wobbled on her feet, obviously just awoken. The lady looked more frazzled than Dubhàn remembered. The little girl clung to the lady’s robes as her blue eyes caught sight of him - afraid.
She was standing there in her blue night gown, her blue eyes shimmering with worry, her red hair disheveled in it’s braid. He spun on his heel and stormed up the stairs before he could think anymore about her. Zee followed in his wake.
In the room, Dubhàn locked the door with the most blatant locking charm he could. Now the dog wanted the bone that he had tried to bribe it with earlier.
“Stupid mutt,” he said before he transformed. As a pup he was just as eager for the bone and it was about an hour later that Zee had had enough. He snarled in warning at the little puppy, who growled right back, before becoming a boy. Zee immediately whined, as if in apology and when Dubhàn laid down, the dog came toward him, laying against his side. Obviously this boy was no danger to his bone. Dubhàn ran his hand through the dogs coat, trying to calm himself as he drifted off to sleep. Sleep finally did take him, except that Dubhàn had forgotten that human minds dream so vividly and of such terrible things. He tossed and turned amidst the nightmare playing out in his mind.
The sound of Apparition; a sound that shouldn't be heard in the middle of the compound. All eyes turn to the sound and he can hear their hearts, beating erratically with fear. They wait for the wards to crumble. For Aurors to appear. Geoffrey holds him against his body, closer than he has dared before so openly. But the wards do not shatter and instead of Auror’s it is only a couple Death Eater’s. There is a collective sigh of relief that he does not feel. Geoffrey lets go of his shoulder, but his regard is stuck on the two men, and what they have brought.
His eyes are transfixed. Blue summer dress. Red hair falling into a pale freckled face. Brilliant blue eyes red and puffy from crying. He can't move. He remembers Geoffrey picking him up and carrying him away. He remembers trying to fight his way back. He remembers her screams, her pleas, and her fear.
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