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Chapter 10 : Shifting Thoughts
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Devlin had left looking like a child in the jeans and t-shirt and came back looking like a young man in grey slacks and a white button down shirt. There was a vest thrown casually over the shirt, left unbuttoned. Harry was pretty sure it wasn't the sort of thing Alexandra would order for Devlin and the look she gave him, confirmed Harry's theory.
Snape eyed the boy from the sofa were he had reluctantly seated himself after Alexandra had basically bullied him into a cup of tea. He was always more pleasant with Alexandra than Harry.
Devlin eyed the Professor, but Harry noted that their eyes never met. Devlin had taken the Potion Master's words to heart, last night. Geoffrey was seated across the room in a chair, tense around Harry as he always was. As he should be.
"You look dashing," Hermione said, breaking the awkward silence. As if it weren't perfectly clear to the child that they had been talking about him behind a silencing charm.
For a moment the boy didn't answer and his face remained the expressionless mask that Harry had become to know so well. Then he shifted his gaze away from Geoffrey and nodded.
"Thank you," he said. There was a soft smile playing at the corners of his lips, softening his eyes. It made him look boyish and striking and Harry could imagine, with a small shutter, all the girls that would follow him around at Hogwarts. He had that 'bad boy' air even now and it nearly made him laugh that the 'Golden Boy' would have the 'Bad Boy' who mothers and fathers alike would fear. Geoffrey was looking at him oddly.
"Where did the vest come from?" Alexandra finally asked.
"I transfigured it. It felt odd, not wearing something."
Harry blinked, trying to image what the boy must wear - what would Voldemort dress a child in? The image of his son, standing defensive on the bed in the safe house flashed before his eyes. He had been wearing a button down shirt then, too. Green, at that. And charcoal grey pants. With a dragonhide cloak - they'd gotten plenty of looks for it during their outing. Harry could never trust Emma with anything so expensive and it was odd to think of his son being trustable with such things either - he still pictured the mud covered boy who used to troupe all through the house and then proclaim it brilliant that he had left tracks 'like a wild animal!'.
"Little one?" Geoffrey asked, his words catching in his throat. Harry thought Devlin would glare - the Death Eater had obviously used a nickname Devlin wouldn't possibly allow in public, but instead the boy frowned softly.
"Hoping I've forgotten already what I am?" He said, a chill to the edge of his voice, but humor coated it all and made it less sharp. It was everyone else's turn to frown with confusion.
"No," Geoffrey said.
"Well then, call me by my name or finish that whole - but don't leave it like that."
The Death Eater glanced at him and Harry didn't need Legimency to know that Geoffrey was worried.
"Of course." Harry cringed at the soft words - like Geoffrey had accepted an order. Harry noted, however, how Geoffrey avoided 'finishing' the nickname. "I must be going. I am supposed to meet with someone soon."
Immediately Devlin's eyes narrowed and focused and he took a step forward.
"Who?" There was intensity to his regard that was disarming in a strange way. One simply had to look at the boy - his posture, his eyes, his expression - to know that he was dangerous. It was not a look that Harry found suited him, but then again a little over a week ago, Harry had still been picturing him as a six year old boy.
"Albus Dumbledore." Devlin's magic swirled in the air, breathing into life abruptly. It was sharp and deep and Harry felt his breath catch in his lungs.
"Don't," Devlin said sharply, with the razor sharp edge of desperate caution. He shook his head slowly, as if in disbelief and warning all at once. His magic was in the air. It brushed by Harry, calming him. "It is inexcusable. Don't."
The words fell too sharp, too cruelly, too knowing from his mouth for them to be Devlin's originally. Harry knew who the words belonged to - a monster who would have finished the them with the torture curse. Yet, beyond the sharpness to the words, was a calmness that extended through the boys magic and seeped into Harry's mind.
Geoffrey knew what was happening before Harry himself did. The Death Eater (who was rapidly earning an 'ex' before the title) reared to his feet. There was anger and betrayal in his blue eyes.
"Don't you dare!" He said sharply and he actually came forward and pushed Devlin. Harry felt an inexplicable need to protect Devlin. That's when he knew. The anger in his mind was not his own. The deep hurt and fear belonged to someone else. The desire was not his own.
I can make animals do things, without training them.
"Don't think for one minute that I will let you do that to me!" Geoffrey growled, rounding on the boy again, stepping forward until Devlin took a begrudging step back - intimidated. "We've always been equals, but now you will treat me like one, and I will do the same to you. I do not take orders from you nor will I any longer take orders having to do with you."
The magic spun around and back to Devlin, angry. Harry blinked, horrified. His son had tried to control the Death Eater. Imperio. He swallowed past his suddenly dry throat.
"Where did you learn that?" He asked, unable to quell the question. His boy turned to him slowly, eying him through baleful green eyes.
"Like that, or with a wand?" There was a threatening edge to the tone of his voice and Harry knew if he asked for clarification he would get the truth. Devlin was daring him to want to know.
"Both," he said, resolute. Devlin cocked his head and arched a brow. Snape was looking pale and transfixed. Harry almost rushed forward and grabbed Devlin to haul him out of Snape's hearing, but the answer came too quickly from Devlin.
"I don't know. It took me until I was seven with a wand." The answer was matter-of-fact, but Harry could see the boy waiting for his reaction.
"What else can you do?" He asked, hearing his own shaky voice.
Devlin laughed and it frightened Harry that it sounded so genuine.
"More than I'll ever tell you," he said. He spun toward Geoffrey, eying him critically. "I thought you cared about me."
"You can't, if you'll talk to him about me."
"I will no longer take any orders having to do with you," Geoffrey said, reiterating his previous point. "We are equals now - both indebted endlessly to each other."
"He's not indebted to anyone," Harry said abruptly. Debts could be dangerous.
"Are you so sure, Mr. Potter? Regardless, I did not make an oath with him about the debts nor did he with me. This is simply a moral discussion."
It tore Harry to pieces that he didn't understand. What had Geoffrey done for Devlin? What had he hidden for Devlin? What had Devlin done for him?
Devlin regarded Geoffrey with a new sort of intensity.
"I will no longer take orders concerning you," he said after a while. He held out his hand. "As I am a minor, we shall shake hands merely as a symbol of understanding."
Again, Harry knew they were not his own words. He had shaken hands 'symbolically' before. Harry wished he knew when and for what reason.
Geoffrey nodded and took his hand.
No matter what Geoffrey claimed, Dubhán's chest remained tight the entire afternoon. Emma was off somewhere else, the man was in his study, talking with someone who had fire-called him, and Dubhán was in the kitchen, alone with the lady. He suddenly missed the ease that Emma brought - making the man and the lady act less knowing in front of the girl. She was a kind of shield, he realized and with this realization he felt a twist in his gut. Yearning. Where was the little girl? Wasn't she supposed to be here, safe? No place was safer - not because he trusted Potter's wards or either of their ability to protect Emma, but because he knew the house would not be attacked. Grandfather would rescue him, but everyone else would be safe if it happened here.
"I'll hate you if you hurt them."
"Don't be ridiculous, child. Potter-"
"I'll hate you forever if you hurt Emma." There had been an intensity in his own eyes that he could feel and there had been a spark of something in his eyes as a reaction to his words."I'll run away, if you hurt him in front of her." Dubhán remembered the spark clearly, because it was the first time he thought he ever worried Voldemort.
The lady was sipping at some tea, regarding him with her intense blue eyes that still managed to make him think of Grandfather. Could they see things, like Snape and Grandfather? He looked down at the wooden table, just in case.
"Do you know what Occlumency is?" She asked suddenly, her words purposefully casual, as she brought the tea to her lips. Dubhán shook his head, still regarding the table. "It is a barrier, between one mind and another."
He frowned at the table, drawing non-sense patterns onto the surface with a finger. A barrier in the mind?
"It is the counter to Legilimency," she continued, putting her tea down carefully. He could feel her eyes boring into him. "Legilimency is the art of invading a mind and seeing it's memories. It is what Voldemort uses. It requires eye contact."
He felt his heart pound, both with dread (don't think, don't think, don't think!) and almost unmanageable curiosity. There was a way to stop it? He looked up, unable to stop himself. There was a regard filled with knowing to meet his unknowing face and he flushed with unfounded anger at the expression.
"You're stupid if you think it's that easy," he said, his hand shaking upon the table just enough that he felt compelled to pull it onto his lap. His lips were suddenly dry. The muscles across his chest spasmed with a rush of adrenaline. How would she know? When had she been forced to prove her worth to him? When had she felt the ghost of something else in her mind so often that it hurt when it wasn't there?
"I want you to have lessons," the lady said again, picking up her tea and regarding him over the rim. He kept his eyes on the table, feeling like a deer in her regard when he should feel like the wolf.
He heard the man's footsteps treading down the hallway and turned around in his chair to regard the man as he came to the door.
"Hey," the man said, looking drawn and exhausted suddenly. Where had all that life gone that had been there while they were in Diagon Alley?
The lady was behind him, her eyes piercing him and Dubhán felt that if he spent one more moment in her presence she would know. His skin crawled with the mere idea. He swung his body off the chair to face the man.
"We used to go flying together," he said abruptly, his head pounding from the gaze glued to the back of his head combined with the rapidly widening one in front of him. There was a flash of life in the man's eyes - like a Revival Spell cast on a barely-alive man.
"Yeah, we did."
"You said I wouldn't escape because now I know you know how clever I am - so can we go flying in the yard?" Somehow the little bit of remaining 'Devlin' knew that the man couldn't refuse flying with him - that it would be the most disarming proposal. Dubhán used this knowledge to escape the lady. He tried to ignore that a tiny bit of himself that didn't hate the idea of flying with the man.
Those green eyes flickered to the lady's blue behind him and for a moment Dubhán felt as if he might lose the man's willingness, to the lady behind him. Then the smile crept back to life upon the man's face. It made his emerald eyes alight like fire.
"Run and get your cloak. I'll get the brooms," the man said, grinning. Dubhán didn't need to be told twice, he rushed out of the lady's vision. When he came back down, it was, once more, only her in the kitchen. He shifted awkwardly at the door.
"He's out back already," she said softly, looking up from a piece of parchment. There was a knowing smile upon her lips. "He's ecstatic. Try not to let him know you just wanted to avoid our conversation, hmm?"
He felt his face shifting into a sneer and his eyes narrowing at the lady's acknowledgement of his actions. She was letting him know that he hadn't fooled her.
"I'm more clever than that," he said as he strode past her. She flicked her wand and the back door opened for him.
"I'm over here!" The man called out, in the middle of the yard. Dubhán walked forward. He wouldn't run - this was merely a way to avoid the lady and although he wouldn't tell the man that, he wasn't going to rush at him as if he really was eager to spend this time with him. Somehow his purposeful strides didn't manage to wipe even a fragment of that grin off the man's face.
"Have you ever been on a broom alone before?" The man asked, when he had at last reached him.
"Yes. I know how to fly a broom."
"When did you last fly?" Harry asked. Geoffrey had laughed when Sirius had talked about Devlin riding a broom and he wanted to make sure the child would be safe up there. Somehow he knew the boy would baulk at the idea of Harry riding with him.
"I can't say."
"You can't remember?"
"No. I remember. I remember almost everything. I can't say. It's different."
"Why can't you say the last time you rode on a broom?" Harry asked, scratching the back of his head where a headache was building with his confusion.
"Because, it wasn't for fun. I've never ridden for fun."
Harry frowned, but then it hit him. Brooms were an excellent way to escape Auror's or Order members. Not for the first time, Harry wondered if he'd ever been close to Devlin over the years. Had he raided his camp? Was a captured Auror ever there?
"Oh. Well, let me see you try then. I'll keep my wand on you, just in case."
Devlin gave him a one-sided shrug. His wore a half-smirk half-frown across his lips - one side dimpled in, the other hanging limp.
"Alright," he said, holding out his hand for a broom. Harry gave him his old broom. He had always planned for it to be Devlin's first broom. The boy called it up into his hand effortlessly and mounted just as gracefully. Soon enough he was soaring through the air, hovering, illustrating a left and a right turn, and coming down once more, right where he had begun. "Satisfied?" He asked, eyeing the wand that Harry still had pointed at the broom.
It was a perfectly mechanical illustration of his ability, but Harry nodded, because it did tell him the boy would be safe.
"Yes. Now we can both go up." The boy nodded. Harry let him mount first and go to hover in the air. He was ten or so feet off the ground and Harry came up to match his height. He didn't want to scare the boy by encouraging him to go higher than he was comfortable.
"We can take it as slow as you want," Harry said, over the wind. Devlin's gaze snapped to his own and the boy laughed into the wind. It made Harry smile to hear the sound.
"Slow? That'd be boring!" He said and before Harry could so much as frown, the boy's body was leaning flat against the broom, racing forward at a speed that would rival his father at eleven. Harry was frozen, watching with amazement. Where had the technical flying gone?
The boy pulled up and led the broom into a loop. Harry grinned and felt his laughter get lost in the wind as he zoomed after his son. He reached into his pocket and released the Snitch.
It was only a couple minutes later that the boy took notice of the shiny object.
"Do you want me to catch it, or conjure balls and beat them into your side? I admit, one does sound more fun than the other..." There was a devilish grin there that Harry recognized as all Devlin.
"I haven't any bats. So we'll just have to race to see who catches the snitch first." The boy didn't even stay to acknowledge the game - he sped off toward the Snitch.
Like any father who had had their son taken from them and just returned would, he let Devlin win. It was only after they dismounted that he got the first inkling that it might not have been such a good idea.
Devlin marched up to him and shoved the Snitch into his hand.
"You cheated," he said, anger blossoming in his eyes.
"What do you mean? You won."
"Yes, exactly! You let me. I'm not a baby. I know when someone lets me win!" He stomped off toward the the house, his hair disheveled, his nose a bit pink, looking more like a stubborn disgruntled child than Harry had seen him since his return. Harry grinned as he walked behind his son into the house.
She was still at the table, when they came back inside - waiting for him.
"Did you have fun?" She asked, looking up from a stack of parchments she was writing on. Harry breathed deeply, nodding. Devlin remained silent, glaring.
"Want something to drink from the fridge?" The man asked him, moving past his still form to the cupboard. The Potter's kitchen was an odd mixture of what Devlin could only assume was 'muggle' and clearly magical. Devlin had never been in a muggle kitchen and he hadn't been in that many magical ones either, but something told him no wizard used a silver box to toast their bread and he knew wizards did not use the word 'fridge' for a cold-spelled cupboard. The Potter kitchen had a large cupboard, in fact, spelled to be cold. It was beyond him why it had to be so big, since most wizards just used wizarding-space to make a small cupboard fit all their needs.
Devlin's gaze lingered on the lady's face but not on her eyes. He shook his head, like he did each time they offered to get him something. He would get it himself.
"Did you have fun?" She asked again, trying to catch his gaze, but he made sure to avoid direct contact. What would she see if she was able? His skin crawled with the memories that swept through his mind at the mere possibility. He hardly noticed that she had risen from her chair and was crouching down at his level, looking him in the eye. His eyes widened with sudden fear as he connected, unavoidably, with her gaze.
Don't think! Don't think! Don't think!
He felt a cold sting of panic envelope him and his magic fluttered quickly around him - rescuing him. The sharpness that had lingered at the edges of his mind had long since become a part of his whole, and at his sense of panic, the sharpness took over, overwhelming his thoughts. He felt empty for a moment as the sharpness took the control away from him. Don't think, don't think, don't think, it whispered, like it always did. The words made him think of the ocean, or maybe it was the sharpness that pulled up the image, he had never tried to examine it properly. Images of waves lapping at the sand filled his thoughts and quickly swept away any other thought that he managed to bring to the surface.
The lady blinked. Their gazes disconnected. The sharpness slunk back with his magic. He didn't feel so empty anymore.
"I don't understand," she said to herself, still regarding him.
"What don't you understand?" Potter said, still cheerful, having just turned around from the 'fridge'. He looked oblivious, but one glance at his wife's face and he seemed instantly attuned.
"You said...you didn't believe me that there was a way to protect your mind," she said, looking flustered. Her inability to articulate her thoughts made him freeze and he felt the beginning creep of uncertainty crawl up his spine. She wasn't supposed to falter. Ever.
"There isn't," he said, and his voice was louder than it should have been. "You're stupid if you think there is."
She didn't react except to frown. She opened her mouth to say something, but then thought better and shook her head once, slowly.
"I need to make a call," she said, walking out of the room. The man arched an eyebrow at her quick retreat.
"Erm...want some lunch?" He asked, trying to sound casual. Devlin frowned for a moment, ready to deny the help, but then his gaze flittered over to the papers the lady had left on the table.
"Yes, please," he said softly and the man fell for it - turning around cheerful to look in the fridge again. He walked over to the parchments. He wasn't sure what he expected to find - probably something having to do with him, but instead he was met with a script he hadn't a clue how to read. Goblin. He knew that much.
"Yeah, don't ask me what that's about," the man said and he jumped, sure the man would be upset that he had been reading the document (or trying to, more precisely).
"It's Goblin script," he said automatically.
"Yeah, that I knew," Harry said, taking a sip of a butterbeer, looking over his shoulder. "Can you read it?"
"Only one word," he said. Harry had his eyebrows raised in an impressed manner. "Ward. She uses that word a lot, here."
"Yeah, probably. It's probably a redesign for some big place."
"You're afraid of him," Geoffrey said finally, after spending an afternoon dodging questions about the boy. Dumbledore's brow drew together infinitesimally and his blue eyes widened with with what Geoffrey was sure was fiend surprise. He drew his hands from his lap to settle, steepled, upon his desk.
"I apologize if my questions have led you to that conclusion." His blue eyes twinkled and his lips quirked into a small knowing smile, but Geoffrey didn't think he knew much at all about the boy. Perhaps that, in itself, frightened him. Dumbledore, like Voldemort, was used to knowing things. They were accustomed to having the knowledge always at the edges of their minds, either from gained knowledge and experience, or directly from their obviously renowned brilliance. Unlike Voldemort, however, Dumbledore doubted himself, leaving himself open for fear. "Do you think I should be afraid of the boy?"
He disguised the serious question as an innocently pacifying comment with a light chuckle, but Geoffrey saw it for what it was. He observed the whole of the old man, from the speed of his blinking to the sound of his heartbeat. As a 'feral' werewolf he was used to reading body language - both visible and invisible.
Geoffrey merely smiled at the man.
"May I have a lemon drop?" He asked, motioning to the bowl he had hours ago refused. Dumbledore arched one of his brows, as if to mark that he understood Geoffrey was avoiding the question (and thus that Geoffrey knew of it's hidden importance), even as he lifted the bowl and held it out for him. "Thank you."
They fell into silence for a moment, with Dumbledore regarding him and Geoffrey doing the same. Geoffrey didn't dare try to invade Dumbledore's mind (such would be inappropriate considering his status around the 'light'), but he made sure Dumbledore didn't gain entrance into his memories either.
Dubhán took the path of least resistance and escaped into a book. It seemed better than slinking away to the room. Better than the memories to be confronted up there. Even if it meant he had to tolerate the man deciding to keep him company in the living room. The man had taken up residence across from him on an opposite chair. His eyes were scanning a stack of papers piled in his lap. They looked about the same thickness as the pile he had seen him with before, and Dubhán suspected it was the same pile. He looked back down at his book, more relaxed than he thought he could be, in the company of Harry Potter.
The man jumped up at the sound of a bell. Dubhán extracted himself from the book in a much more dignified manner. It was a mirror behind the sofa making the sound. The surface had become slightly opaque. Potter looked over at him nervously.
"You can stay if you want, but can you slouch down so they can't see you?" He was too curious to argue, besides he was well practiced at not being seen. He laid down on the sofa, well hidden by it's back. The book was propped up against his chest, but he wasn't reading anymore.
"Harry?" It was a man's voice.
"Yes, I'm here."
"Right. I see you now. The Minister wanted me to call you," the voice said. Dubhán felt his blood chill.
"Oh, what for?" Potter asked, his voice casual, as if the Minister often called him at home.
"He wanted to invite you and your son to tea, tomorrow," the man said. He sounded purposefully professional. Like he was a friend of the man's and didn't particularly want deliver this message.
"Oh." Potter paused. "I'm afraid Devlin and I have an appointment tomorrow already. I really can't rearrange, but tell the Minister I'll call him when things settle down here, if I don't bump into him at work before then."
"Harry..." The voice was closer now, but also softer, as if the person had leaned forward. "It really isn't...tea, you know...they want to speak to the boy..."
"Sam," Harry said, in the same whisper, as if he too were leaning close. "I know exactly what I said, and I meant it. We have other plans tomorrow. I'll call the Minister when it settles down, if I don't bump into him at work."
There was a sigh.
"They want answers, Harry. They think this might be an opportunity..."
"Let them want to know, Sam. I won't let them have him over 'for tea'."
"Harry," there was an urgency to the voice now as it grew more hushed. "You have to know they'll start questioning your right to be on the case - they have already. The leader of a case having to do with his own son...there are whispers. More is at stake here, Harry. If they-"
"Sam?" There was a dangerous edge to Harry's voice and if Grandfather had used that tone (which he did, quite often), Dubhán would have been fingering his wand and had a shield charm on the tip of his tongue. The other man must have made some motion that he had heard Harry. "You tell them that if they dare try and set up an interview above my head or if an Auror steps foot on my property without my permission or invitation - I'll leave. I'll walk away. I won't help them and I damn well won't lift my wand to protect them!"
For a long moment there was silence.
"I'll pass that along, Harry." There was a fear, a tremor, a sense of doom and defeat, in Sam's voice. Dubhán frowned. All Potter had done was threaten him verbally and his voice was quaking? He hadn't even said he'd hurt them, just that he wouldn't help them or protect them. Why, he'd practically threatened to ignore them. What was so terrible about that? Couldn't they take care of themselves, whoever they were?
There was a whooshing sound, not unlike the floo, and then the man said tiredly, "You can sit up, if you like, Devlin."
"They want me to tell them all about Grandfather, don't they?" He asked, still lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. Potter came around the sofa to sit on the chair again. He looked dejected, leaning forward and supporting his head in his hands.
"They're desperate," he said softly. "They think Voldemort told you things that he wouldn't tell anyone else."
"Why do they think that?" He asked, curious. He was careful to side-step the almost-question about information he might have.
"They think that because you're my son, Voldemort felt comfortable sharing this with you..."
"That's illogical," he said softly, because it was, even if the fact that he knew things was true.
"Voldemort would know, the Ministry theorizes, that I wouldn't ever allow your mind to be picked apart or let them make you tell."
Dubhán felt himself fall very still for a moment as Potter's (or rather the Ministry's, but possibly Potter's disguised as the Ministry's) 'illogical' idea twisted and became logical.
The best place to hide something you don't want to be found is somewhere no one will look.
Had Voldemort done that to him? Purposefully? Had he hoped one day that Potter would find him again and realize this? Had he meant for him to hurt Potter, this way? Suddenly the weight of the book on his chest felt suffocating and it took great effort to ignore the crushing feeling and feign a sense of disinterest.
"Or perhaps he didn't hide anything in me, because he would be too afraid you wouldn't have to make me tell."
"I hope you're right, Devlin," the man said, and when Devlin looked over, it was to find the man's emerald eyes on him, looking at him as Devlin had once looked at the picture of the little girl in the room - like he wanted to remember every detail.
Emma arrived shortly before dinner, accompanied through the floo by an older red-headed women who the lady called 'Molly'. Dubhán eyed them both over his book, his eyes resting on the little girl for a moment. Long enough to see her weary glance at him. Long enough to see the uncertainty written all over her face.
He rose to his feet, somehow more disquieted by her fear than he knew he ought to be. He folded a corner of his page down, to mark his spot. It was a habit that drove grandfather crazy, but Dubhán liked the mark of progress and sometimes he would flip through a book and pause on each dog-eared page, to remember what had recaptured his attention when he had been reading.
"If you'll excuse me," he said automatically, tucking his book under his arm and turning toward the door. He was in the hallway when he felt the touch on his arm. The book tumbled to the floor and he nearly spun around snarling, except that the grip was too delicate to be any of the adults.
"I made a picture for you," she said, her little voice soft and cautious, her little hand falling away from his arm, her little blue eyes gazing at the floor as her other little hand came up to offer him a piece of parchment. He took the paper slowly, feeling uncertainty spreading rapidly through his body. A picture?
He turned it in his hands to see the crudely drawn image. It was clearly of a human-type thing. It had green eyes and a wand in it's hand. There was a brown cloak obscuring it's body and it was standing amongst three other human-like things, two taller, one shorter. A picture of him and the man, lady, and girl. A family. It looked as though she had originally drawn him frowning, but then tried to reapply a smile. Even in a child's drawing he didn't look right smiling.
"It's you and mum and dad and me. And Zee!" She pointed around his elbow at a blob with four legs and what he assumed was a tail, although it might have been a fifth leg.
There was a sun shining in the corner and green grass beneath their feet.
"I made you happy in it," she said softly, that fear creeping back in her face. "Because I wish you were."
He shut his eyes, still facing away from her.
"Are you happy?" He asked randomly. He could picture her frown as she made a soft 'huh?' sound in the back of her throat.
"Yes. I'm almost always happy," she said after a moment, innocently, childishly, without grasping the true motive behind his question.
"Good," he said, folding the paper and tucking it in his pocket. "I want you to be happy."
She was frowning again, he was certain, but he couldn't manage to turn around. He leaned down and picked his book up off the floor.
"Thanks, Emma," he said, and continued up the stairs, fleeing from her and the swarm of something in his chest. He closed the door to the room behind him, suddenly breathing shallowly and too quickly.
His nightmare drummed in his chest and pulsed in his brain. Emotions consumed him as he once more pictured Emma in place of that little girl, years ago. Afraid. He never wanted her to be afraid like that girl. He never wanted her to be alone and hurt. He never wanted anyone to make her scream.
He curled his firsts at his sides, clenching his teeth and shutting his eyes until he saw bursts of lights.
The picture had fallen to his feet and when he opened his eyes it was the first thing he saw.
I wish you were happy.
I want you to be happy.
But how would he know, if she wasn't? Would Voldemort really tell him? He was older now, then he had been when he had made him promise not to scare her. Older and wiser and more logical. Voldemort would never order the girl not to be harmed, because that would be revealing that Dubhán had power over his actions, small as that might demonstrate. What if he attacked her school - what if she was trapped in a crowed, killed without anyone knowing she was there?
The room felt small, suddenly. His chest felt like it was filling with ice. His muscles roiled against his body, twitching.
He looked at the picture.
I made a picture for you, she had said.
I'll keep you safe, Emma.
He would make her something that would keep her safe. He would make her something that would let her tell him if she wasn't. He would make sure that Grandfather kept that promise.
He'd need his wand, which meant he'd need to be 'good' for Potter for two more days. He wasn't entirely convinced the man would give it to him willingly, but his chances certainly wouldn't decrease by good behavior. Perhaps if he could convince the man that he felt something for them...
He knew he was risking a lot, playing this game, having these thoughts, making these plans, making these memories, but he'd risk anything for her.
"I'll do anything for her", he had once said to Grandfather, early on.
"You don't know what that means", his grandfather had said, sneering in a demeaning way. Like he wasn't good enough. Like the blonde man had looked at him when he had been crying.
"I know what I said", he had ground out, feeling that anger fill him that hadn't been there before the pain. "And I meant what I said."
He put his book away and opened the door, forcing his breath to come evenly as he came back down the stairs.
"Where'd you go?" The little girl asked, peering up the stairs from the living room. She'd been waiting for him.
"To hang your picture up," he said, smiling charmingly at her. He knew how to be charming. The Dark Lord had been charming as a child.
Her eyes lit up like brilliant sapphires. Her cherry red lips turned upward into a smile that showed off her tiny little teeth. The freckles across her nose crinkled with the expression.
"You liked it?" She asked.
"Yes." He said. "Can you make me another?"
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