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Devlin Potter: Riddle and Rescue by GingeredTea
Chapter 11 : The Day After Tomorrow
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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"The Ministry Ball is next week," Harry said randomly over dinner, eying Alexandra. She pursed her lips, as if she already had an opinion formed and Harry's wide emerald eyes weren't going to change it. She didn't say anything and Harry, seeming to submit to the fact that his bait hadn't worked properly, sighed and tried again. "I want us to go."

"You go every year," Alexandra said, nonchalantly, but even Emma had caught onto the structure of her sentence.

"Don't I get to go again, mama? I was good last year. I want to get a new pretty dress."

Alexandra's eyes flickered to the child, Harry's brow arched, Emma continued to look hopeful, and Dubhán frowned at them all.

"We'll talk about it later," it was a response to the little girl, but the words were for the man. They finished dinner. The man did not dare to bring the topic up again.

In fact, it was Emma who brought it up again. While the lady washed the dishes (without magic, which he couldn't understand) and the man dried them (without magic), Emma leaned across the table and grinned at him. She'd been less weary of him ever since he had complimented her picture, which he found strange and a bit foolish, but she was only a child. A normal child. Not like him.

"At the Ball everyone gets dressed up," she said, her eyes sparkling. "And they play music and everyone dances."

She dumped out of her chair and spun around in her simple yellow dress. Dubhán smiled at her happiness, so easily achieved when he could hardly ever feel it no matter how he tried. In a moment of thoughtlessness he too climbed off his chair and offered his hand to her. She grinned and giggled and took it willingly, her little hand laying inside of his own, smooth and unharmed and innocent.

He stepped into position across from her and began to lead her slowly through a dance.

"Like this," he said, demonstrating for her. She bit her lip as she tried with him the second time. By the fifth time he was able to twirl her and she spun away and then back to him again. She jumped up into the air and laughed. It was only when he heard a deeper bout of laughter that he realized the lady and the man werewatching him.

"You know how to dance?" Alexandra asked, frowning.

He tipped his head to one side, considering whether he should answer.

"Bella taught me," he said, choosing to cut off the fact that it was probably the only worthwhile thing she ever had or that it was the only time he ever tolerated her.

Harry nudged her gently and when she turned to look at him, he grinned widely. Somehow the expression reminded him of Emma and he flickered his gaze to the girl, looking for other similarities.

"Oh, come on, Alex. We can't hide here forever. Devlin will getbored."

Of course. He would be the reason they wouldn't attend. An opportunity at escape.

An opportunity to be good. To get his wand back. To protect Emma.

"I'll think about it, Harry," she said finally, seeming to cave slightly in his regard. "But right now it's time for bed."

He straggled behind Emma.

"Are you really going to give me my wand back?" He asked the man, who seemed to take up responsibility for him, since Emma was currently leading Alexandra up the stairs by a finger, pleading about some storybook or another.

"You'll know in two days," he said, smiling crookedly and pushing his spectacles up his nose. Dubhán frowned, but he didn't argue.

The man walked him into the room, standing awkwardly by the door.

"Professor Snape is coming tomorrow," he said, as if he thought he might have forgotten. Renowned Potion Master. Traitor. Mind Reader. How could Dubhán forget?

Dubhán pulled out a set of green pajama's from his dresser, determined not to snap at the man to leave his room as he stepped further into it. It wasn't his room it was the room and even so, he was determined to get that wand back. Dubhán understood all about pretending to feel things he didn't - otherwise he would have never survived Voldemort. He was well versed in acting one way and feeling another.

"I remember," he said, a bit tensely. The man sat down on the bed. Dubhán took his shoes and socks off on the floor.

"I want you to be healthy," the man said softly, looking at his intertwined fingers resting on his lap. "I don't ever want to see you like...that again."

Dubhán looked away, tucking his shoes next to his bed - ready for him in the morning.

"You were hurting. I don't want you to hurt, Devlin." Bright emerald eyes lifted to find his darker regard and there was a desperation in the older gaze that startled Dubhán. "Please...tell him how to brew the potion, Devlin."

Dubhán looked away. He wanted to tell the man no, to sneer and snarl out 'if you don't want me to hurt, send me back', but he didn't, because now he had something to do before he left. He had to make sure Emma was safe.

"Alright," he said, as he peeled the socks off his feet and tossed them neatly in the laundry basket that was shaped like a Quidditch goal post. The laundry disappeared, vanishing to the laundry room, no doubt.

There was a brightness of a different kind when he turned to glance at the man again.

"Thanks for being nice to Emma," he said, smiling fondly. Dubhán looked away, because the last thing he wanted was a reminder of how much the man loved the little girl. Of how heartbroken the girl would be, when he died. She would be safe, though - and that was all that mattered.

"She doesn't have anything to do with this," he said, feeling a bit offight creeping into his voice, even as he tried to conquer it. "There's no reason to treat her badly."

There was a long moment of silence.

"I know I failed you, Devlin," the man said miserably, his green eyes cast like hooks into his darker ones, his hands shaking on his lap, his voice quivering. If Dubhán gave him another moment, he'd probably start crying. Making someone cry probably didn't fall under the 'good' category, but since Dubhán wasn't used to this sort of thing, he couldn't be entirely certain about this sort of crying. It was far too easy to upset this man and Dubhán felt a headache coming on at the prospect of tip-toeing around his emotions for another two days.

Dubhán didn't know what to say to a truth that made someone cry. He wasn't about to sway the man (he knew he couldn't, anyway) and so he just didn't say anything.

"I don't like changing in front of people," he said finally, holding up the pajamas. The man looked up, nodded, and retreated into the hallway. Dubhán changed and wondered if the man had already seen all the scars across his body while he was unconscious that first day. Somehow he didn't think the man was the type to invade a person like that. He tried to avoid his reflection in the mirror, from the bite mark on his shoulder to the scar on the bottom of his foot from his first day in that dark cell.

When he was all dressed he opened his door again. He expected the man to be there, waiting for him. Instead he was gone. He felt anger bloom in his belly that he hadn't expected and it drove him across the hallway to the door. He knocked loudly but the door swung open under his knuckles. The man was in the room, changing himself. His black lounge pants were already on and he was in the process of pulling a white shirt over his head.

Scars.

Dubhán felt his body still and his breath hitch in his throat. There were scars on the man, all up and down his back. Torture marks. He turned to walk away, but the man had already spotted him. He pulled the shirt down quickly.

"Devlin!" He said, firm but softly, and rushed to his side. "Did you need something?"

"I didn't tell you to leave!" He said, the shock and anger and uncertainty rushing through him, melting together and creating something new that he wasn't sure how to express. "You left and I didn't say you could!"

The man frowned as if he were trying to puzzle something out. For a moment Dubhán thought perhaps the man couldn't imagine what Dubhán was talking about, but then his eyes flickered to Dubhán's door down the hall and realization flashed across the brilliant green of his eyes.

"But I didn't leave, Devlin," he said softly, expression softening with his knowledge. "I was right here." He pointed into the room. "You can always find me, Devlin. I always want to see you. If you don't see me and you want me, come get me."

Dubhán searched his gaze, not understanding entirely and not finding anything but truth in the regard.

"What did you want to say?" The man asked softly, prompting him. Dubhán wasn't sure anymore.

"Where are all your scars from?" He asked. It hadn't been what he had wanted to say before and it certainly wasn't what he meant to say now, but the question slipped past his tongue, regardless. It was not as though he particularly needed the answer - he had seen scars like those before.

Potter's eyes didn't widen, which proved to Dubhán that the man had known he had seen. Instead the Killing Curse regard drifted away from his own to stare down the hallway.

"Lots of different places, I suppose," he said eventually, trying to avoid the topic. Dubhán, on the other hand, was suddenly transfixed by this seemingly unimportant similarity that they shared.

"From him?" He pressed, feeling a very odd feeling overtake him. That sharpness injected itself a bit into his thoughts, nosing around. He felt his eyes take on a more amber hue.

Potter looked for a moment like he wouldn't answer, then he shoved his hands deeper into his pockets and a bit of resolution flashed across his tipped green gaze.

"Yes. There are plenty from Voldemort - in one way or another."

Dubhán felt himself shift a bit and the oddness in his mind bloomed in his chest as well, prompting his heart to beat faster and his muscles to twitch with a rush of adrenaline. He wasn't sure why he felt compelled to pick at this topic with the man, except that he felt so odd about his scars and had never seen someoneelse's torture marks look so much like his own. They were a show of his once-weakness, of his once worthlessness, of his once childishness. The sharpness urged him on, pushing the words he might have clung to indefinitely out into the world for Potter to hear.

"I have scars too," he said. When the words had finished he became sharply aware of how hushed the house was. The green eyes snapped to his. He waited for the disgust to plume in the green gaze, but instead there was love. It was just as confusing to Dubhán as the first time he had seen it in the man's eyes. Perhaps once upon a time he had understood the emotion.

"I'd do anything to make it never happen, Devlin," the man said quietly, his eyes downcast and his shoulders shaking slightly. He was going to start crying again.

Yeah, me too.

"But it did," he said, dismissively. It had happened. There was no 'anything' that would erase it from his past. He was different because of it and because of that, he couldn't regret that it had happened too much.

You have to stop hating yourself. There's no going back, Geoffrey had once said to him, when he had been too little to understand. Sometimes he still felt he was too little to understand most of what Geoffrey said to him in times like that. Still, Geoffrey had explained it to him patiently. If he hated what had happened then he would hate every moment from then until he died. If he hated who he had become, then he would spend the rest of his life hating and fearingand being angry. Then he would be the same as Grandfather andthat, Dubhán wouldn't do. He was supposed to be better.

He still remembered the curious look Voldemort had given him when he had asked tentatively why the man hadn't killed him. It was a foolish question, he knew - even then. The Healer who had worked to hard to make sure he survived under Voldemort's orders (and for the price of his own life, Dubhán could now guess) had blanched when the words had spilled past his tongue. He had still been sickly, too weak to rise out of bed himself. Voldemort had tipped his head and stepped closer, his crimson eyes narrowed in annoyance that he would question him.

'You are an experiment," he had said, his voice neither kind nor cruel. He hadn't cast a silencing charm, leaving the Healer to hear, but Dubhán had been too little to expect the charm and so he didn't notice it missing until years later. The Healer had never commented about the conversation. 'I have often wondered what I would have been like, if I hadn't begun my life around filthy Muggles. Your blood may be tainted by Potter's and his Mudblood mother, but the rest of you is Pureblooded and you are a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, just like I. We even look alike.' Dubhán hadn't understood and Voldemort hadn't pressed for a response. They had never spoken of it again.

Dubhán turned away from Potter.

"I won't hate myself for what I am," he said. Potter looked at him strangely for a moment.

"Good," he said finally. "He made you have something to do with all of this and you shouldn't hate yourself for any choices he took away from you, Devlin."

It was Dubhán's turn to snap his gaze to the emerald eyes. It didn't escape him how the man had turned his own phrase about the little girl around. Voldemort hadn't made him do anything. Not even scream.

Emma's door opened and saved Dubhán from saying something stupid when he was so intent on being good and getting his wand back.

"Hello," the lady said kindly, to them both. "Emma is asleep," she added. She looked between them. "Is everything alright?"

"Yes," Harry said, surprising Dubhán. Wasn't he going to tell the lady what he had told him? "I was just letting Devlin know that he can wake us up if he needs too."

"Of course," the lady said, nodding at him. Dubhán looked away.

Potter was keeping his secret?

Dubhán nodded and turned to leave. They turned to enter into their room. He paused with his hand on the doorframe to the room.

"If I promise not to run away, can Emma go dancing?"

He hated to be the reason she might cry. He wanted to be the reason she smiled, because soon enough, he wouldn't get to see her smile at all. Soon enough he would be gone and she would forget him again.

The man paused, but it was the lady who seemed more startled by the words. She tipped her head for a moment, staring at him across the hall. Then she straightened herself and nodded.

"You'll have to be fitted for a four piece robe...of course," she said, a bit of humor in her voice. So she had talked to the seamstress.

"Of course," he replied, nodding.

"And if it is you who wants Emma to go, I expect you to be there for every wonderful moment of her choosing which color dress she will wear this year. And Harry, you too. You missed that most wonderful parenting moment last year." But Harry wasn't a gracious winner and his face-splitting grin was unrelenting. He nodded goofishly.

Dubhán frowned at the way it seemed to change his whole being. Gone was the jaded soldier. Gone was the protective father. Gone was the man who could barely look at him without that failureflashing across his eyes.

"Of course, baby. I'll take her, if you want. You can take Dubhán, how does that sound?" She eyed him as if he had finally gone crazy, pushing her lips into a tight line and arching her brow.

"You drive me crazy sometimes," she said and then she spun around to head into their room. The man turned and winked at him.

"Don't worry, she's just upset she didn't get to me and my brilliant mood," he said, flashing a smile. Then suddenly the smile dimmed and a more serious mood swung across the man's face. "You'll come find me if there is something you want, right?"

Dubhán nodded, because that is what a normal boy would do, he thought. Normal was good. Good was a wand, back in his hand.

OoOoOoO

Not afraid. Not afraid. Not afraid.

His grandfather had always said that if you tell a fool something enough, they'll believe it. Not for the first time in his life, Dubhán hopes he has a bit of a fool in him. Zee was beside him in the bed, looking at his upright form appraisingly. Dubhán looked away, sure the dog could smell his fear.

Don't think, he told himself, curling his hands into fists around the blanket. He wouldn't be afraid of having some stupid nightmare.He wouldn't! Wouldn't! Wouldn't!

Zee crawled over to him to lick his white knuckles and Dubhán felt a shuddering breath open up his lungs.

Don't think. Don't feel.

He let the breath out slowly, calming himself.

Don't think. Don't feel. Just do what has to be done.

He climbed out of the bed, certain enough he wasn't going to sleep.

Tomorrow was the 'day after tomorrow' and the fact that when he awoke Severus Snape would be downstairs wasn't helping his thoughts at all. He climbed onto the chair at the desk, searching for a piece of parchment, but there was nothing but small scraps of the material.

Surely they had to have proper parchment somewhere. He cast the bed one more longing glance before slipping out into the hallway. He wasn't sure that tomorrow he would have the foolhardy courage to betray his grandfather to Snape like he did now, with Emma's words still so fresh in his mind. Grandfather hadn't told Geoffrey how to brew the potion. He had only told him. Only he could save himself. Only he could choose to save himself. Would Grandfather have preferred he let himself die?

He climbed down the stairs. The lights were on down the hall. This time it was the lady at the table, seated next to a young lady with hair more red than his mothers.

"Hello," the young lady said, alerting Alexandra of his appearance. The young lady was dressed in working robes, wearing Dragonhide boots. She hadn't been getting ready for sleep, that much was apparent.

"Oh, hi Devlin. Are you alright?" She looked up from her papers, her blue eyes focusing all their intensity on him. He nodded.

"I wanted some parchment," he said softly, stepping into the room. He was aware of how childish he must look, feet socked in bright orange material, green and grey striped pajamas clinging to his small frame. In that moment he regretted not demanding he pick out his own colors as the seamstress had offered. Did most children enjoy dressing so brightly?

Alexandra frowned for a moment, but then she lifted her wand and lazily summoned a few pieces. They shuffled out from under the doorframe of the room she had gone into to make a fire-call. They came into her hand and she offered them to him.

"Do you..." He touched his lip in hesitation, a habit that had refused to leave him and drove Voldemort crazy, "have a spare quill too?"

She arched a brow.

"Do you treat them nicely or ruin them like your sister?"

The young lady next to her giggled. He frowned but shook his head.

"I won't ruin it," he said after a moment, when she seemed to want to hear the words. She placed the papers down on the table and lifted her wand again. An eagle feather quill raced out from under the same door, then the door opened a crack and some ink followed after it, both landing on top of the parchment.

"You can write here," she said, after a moment. Her blue eyes were soft and kind, but there was an edge of acknowledgement in them. She certainly didn't underestimate him. She thought he was up to something.

"Alright," he said, seeming to surprise her with his willingness. It wasn't as if he particularly liked being in that room, anyway. He settled himself across from them and leaned over the table to reach the parchment, ink and quill.

He caught her watching him as he wrote "A Draught for the Suspension of Cruciatus Curse Induced Seizures" across the top of the parchment and then underlined the title. The young lady was openly staring.

He moved the quill down and wrote Ingredients under which he wrote, in smaller, finer letters amounts given for a batch of twelve 4oz vials. The only ingredient that gave him pause was 'Bacopamonnieri', because for a moment he couldn't remember if it was spelled with one or two N's.

When he was done he moved further down the page and began to describe the manner in which the ingredients should be prepared, under the proper title of Ingredient Preparation. Further down was Brewing Directions where he tried to break down the complexity of the potion into manageable steps. When he was done he had filled two parchments, choosing to only write on one side. It had always annoyed him when he had to flip a page to finish a potion.

He went to the sink and wiped the eagle feather quill off and topped the ink again. The lady hadn't looked up for a while, her eyes roaming over the Goblin script before her, translating it into English on another page. He waited until he was pretty sure she had reached the end of a paragraph.

"Excuse me?" Her eyes shot up, almost as if she had forgotten he was there. She waited, her eyes itching to return to the manuscript. "Would you mind drying these papers for me?"

Her brow quirked, but she lifted her wand to preform the charm.

"Thank you," he said, climbing off the chair, grabbing the papers, and beginning to head out the door.

"Are you having trouble sleeping, Devlin?" She asked softly, before he had made it around the corner. He froze.

"No," he lied, keeping his back to her.

There was a moment of silence, in which he knew her eyes didn't leave him, but then he shrugged it off and continued out of the room. Zee was sniffing at the top of the stairs, obviously having realized that he had left longer than it took to use the loo.

"Get back in bed," he said softly, as he climbed the stairs. The dogs head popped up and his tail wagged. "Well - go on." The dogdanced off down the hall. Dubhán wasn't sure how describe the way the dog sometimes moved, it's back end going in the opposite direction of it's front - like it thought it was a snake or something. It pushed the door open and flopped onto the bed, huffing as it waited for him.

He tucked the parchment into a drawer of the desk and pulled one of the books he had purchased with Potter off the top of the desk to bring back to the bed. Significant Potions Throughout History.

Dubhán wasn't sure if only an hour had gone by, or many more, but eventually the door shifted open to reveal the lady. The focus was gone from her eyes, replaced by tiredness.

"I just wanted to see how you were doing," she said softly, stepping into the room. Her fingertips had black smudges and she smoothed them out against her nightgown absentmindedly.

"I'm fine," he said, flicking his eyes back to his book as a mark of his dissatisfaction with the question and her company.

"That's what your father always says," she said softly, leaning her back against the doorframe. There was a soft smile on her face, a mixture of fondness and sadness. "Over the years I have learned its true translation." He arched a brow, but didn't look up. She would tell him anyway. It was important to her and whatever point she was trying to make. But she didn't and eventually he looked up out of curiosity.

"I'm alright," he said, trying to urge her out of the room.

"No you're not," she said, that same mixture of fondness and sadness lacing her voice. "But we'll change that together."

And she was gone, leaving his mind churning with her words.

OoOoOoOoO

Dubhán awoke to the sound of knocking. He sat up quickly in bed, his heart pounding, his hand darting out to grasp his wand-

He felt dizzy as he realized it wasn't there and stumbled out of bed, as handicapped by the lack of the wand as he imaged someone might feel who had lost a hand. The knocking continued, stronger and louder, and his heart beat quicker as well.

He stood at the door for a long moment. The man and the lady would have said something, by now. Who was on the other side?

He swallowed harshly as the all the possibilities swam in his mind. His breath caught in his lungs as the possible identities mixed with the consequences of their appearance. Was the lady alright? Was the man dead? Was Emma screaming?

The knocking continued. He reached out a cold hand to wrap around the cold knob and yank it open.

"Hi!" He felt his chest constrict as the fear swept away suddenly - like putting weight on a foot that had fallen asleep.

It was Emma, still in her nightie, a teddy bear tucked under an arm.

"Mum and Dad are talking to the mean man downstairs," she said in a whisper, nodding with wide eyes.

"The Professor?" He checked - because it was what he suspected, but suspicions weren't always right and he supposed it could have as easily been Voldemort.

"Yes," she said, shifting from foot to foot uneasily.

"He's here to talk to me," he said, leaving the door to turn and gather some clothing. Emma invited herself in, sneaking onto his bed and settling herself down beside Zee. Dubhán blinked when he turned around to find her there.

"I don't like to change in front of people," he said, blinking again. He certainly didn't feel like he could rage at her to leave or physically remove her and quite frankly he wasn't sure how to deal with someone who he couldn't deal with that way.

"Oh, me neither," she said. "I'll hide under your blankets, promise!" And she did just that, messing his blankets up as she flung them over herself. He blinked.

"Are you almost done?" She asked. Zee had been covered as well and was turning in circles under the covers.

"No..." he said, slowly, with a large amount of uncertainty swelling in his chest. He closed his door and, keeping an eye on the blanket, did the only thing he could think of - he changed.

"How about now?" She asked.

"Yeah, alright," he said and she flung the blankets off of herself (and onto the floor) with a big huff. Zee was panting. She looked a bit flushed. He tugged his socks (a bright green this time) on and then his shoes.

"You look handsome," she said, smiling. She brought her teddy bear around to the front of herself. "Do you have to look handsome for your meeting with the scary man?"

"His name is Severus Snape," he corrected, baffled by her childish nature. "I want to make a good impression."

He grabbed the letter he had written last night and re-opened the door.

"Are you leaving?" He asked, as she merely sat there, watching him. At his urging, she stood and went into the hallway. He expected her to go to her own room, but instead she lingered right behind him and when they reached the stairs, she paused and her hands twisted at her bear.

"I'll wait here," she said at last, sitting on the top step, body leaning against the banister. Dubhán blinked again.

"You're really scared?" He asked, the softness of his voice surprising him. He sat down next to her for a moment.

"Enough," she said, looking away. "Uncle Sirius says he used to be a bad man," she said "one of them."

He frowned as he saw the un-child behind all the childish props. Somehow her nature had allowed her to stay more innocent than him - or perhaps this was what he had been like, when he-

He shook himself. Don't think. Don't think. Don't think.

"I'd never let anyone hurt you," he said and unlike Potter, he meant it. He'd do anything for her.

She looked at him for a long moment, her brilliant blue eyes haunting him. There was a sharpness at the edges of them, a knowingand not for the first time Dubhán wondered if what separated him from other child was only his ability to articulate what he was experiencing.

"That's what Daddy says," she said softly, hugging the bear close.

"I mean it more," he said, a bit of hurt and anger coming to his tone. She tilted her head and leaned back a tiny bit - weary. He swallowed, more hurt than he thought he should be, at the expression of distrust. He rose to his feet and descended the stairs silently.

There was a silencing charm up at the door and he stood there for a moment, simply watching them talk to each other. The lady was sitting casually in her chair, but Potter and Snape were both leaning forward, tense. He stuck his hand into the invisible field, alerting them all to his presence. It was Potter who turned first, indicating to Dubhán that he had been his charm that was disrupted.

"Hey Devlin," he said softly, banishing the charm with a lazy wand movement. "I didn't know you were up yet."

"Emma woke me up," he said tensely. "She was scared." It was jab and he watched closely to make sure Potter had felt it. He seemed only slightly fazed.

"Emma knows perfectly well she can interrupt us anytime," Alexandra said, with a bit of volume, as if she knew the little girl would be able to hear.

"Seeing as the child is indeed awake, perhaps we could accelerate this whole process. I do have other potions brewing..." It was the dark-eyed man. His lips twitched into a sneer as he put the tea down.

"I didn't intend to keep you waiting," Dubhán said sharply, his own sneer twitching onto his face. He felt the man's eyes on him again, sharp and intent and intruding and snapped his own gaze away to look at his hooked nose. He stepped forward, just as pleased to see the man come and go as the man himself seemed to be at the idea. Emma was scared. He put the folded parchment on the table-top in front of the dark-eyed man's tea, with a bit of firmpurpose behind the movement.

Snape's eyebrow twitched minutely as his long slender fingers stretched out to unfold the parchment. Then that gaze was swinging to him again, as fast as a well-aimed whip charm through the air, to arrive back at his dark green gaze intruding.

"You memorized the recipe?" Snape questioned, unfounded harshness in his voice - or perhaps it was the cover for something far more incriminating like admiration.

"No," he said smoothly, allowing a knowing smirk to caress his lips. His eyes alighted and he curved his brow just slightly. "One doesn't need to memorize a recipe if one knows how to brew the potion."

There was a moment of silence as Snape's eyes rescanned the paper - looking for any flaws, Dubhán felt.

"Will that suffice?" Dubhán questioned at last, his voice sleek and subtly sarcastic, knowing it would more than suffice.

"This is indeed suffice as brewing instructions" Snape bit out, rising to his feet, rolling the parchment up, and tucking it inside of his cloak. "Whether or not the instructions will brew the correct potion are another thing entirely."

But Dubhán knew it would, so he just smirked as the man left through the kitchen doorway.

"Good day, Emma," he said as he saw her sitting at the top of the stairs. Dubhán was starting to wonder why Harry was the only one he called 'Potter'. The hallway was painted green as he went through the floo in the living room.

"Thanks, Devlin," the man said, looking relieved. Dubhán bared his teeth at him for a moment, before stepping forward to call Emma down. "Wait just a sec, alright?"

It was a whisper and it made Dubhán freeze. The man had sounded nervous. Uncertain. But not in the same fear-based uncertainty that Dubhán had become so familiar with.

"What?" He said, trying to sound nice, even though his conversation with Emma was burning in his mind. I mean it more. He swallowed down the anger as best he could, picturing his wand. He took a breath and turned around.

The man was sitting at the table still, his body leaning forward slightly, one hand on the table, laid gently over a wand.

Dubhán stilled, because it wasn't the man's wand, it was his. His ten inch sapele and phoenix feather wand, sitting on the table. In Harry Potter's hand.

"It's not the end of the week," he said quietly, wetting his lips, not quite believing that it was there, whole and together and that Potter hadn't just snapped it in half. The lady's lips were pursed and she stood up, murmuring a soft 'excuse me' as she passed him to go into the hallway. It was plain to him that she didn't agree with him being handed his wand.

"I know, but you're going to go to Hogwart's with me and I want you to have it with you."

He wetted his lips again.

"Don't you think that is rather foolish?" He asked, always one to have trouble not pointing out the obvious to others.

Potter smirked at him and Dubhán blinked, because in the end they didn't have that different of a smirk.

"Perhaps I am a fool then," he said, shrugging. "But really, do you want to call me a fool if I'm handing your wand to you?"

Dubhán thought about it for a moment. In the end, he was the boy to ask Voldemort why he hadn't killed him just as he was the boy to nod here.

"Yes. I'll always call you what you are," he said and Potter blinked and neither of them missed the covered jab behind the words. "Why are we going to Hogwarts?"

He tried to ignore the bloom of curiosity growing in his belly. Grandfather often spoke about Hogwarts with a gleam of pleasure in his eyes. 'My first home,' he would whisper at the beginning of a story, 'was Hogwarts'. Sometimes, Dubhán could even tempt him into sitting in Dubhán's comfy chair and telling him a story while he drifted off to sleep. Dubhán would never attend Hogwarts, because it was a 'light' school and besides that, Dubhán knew most of the theoretical work they'd cover in first and second year already. So perhaps this would be interesting and when Grandfather rescued him, he could tell a Hogwart's story. He'd leave Potter out of it, of course.

"Albus owled me to remind me I had volunteered to take part in the Defense Against the Dark Art's class today. I do it every year for the Fourth Years."

Dubhán wasn't sure what a fool like Potter could teach, but considering the class was probably full of fools itself, Potter probably had something valuable to say to them - at least in their opinions. Still, he felt himself grow uneasy at the Headmaster's name. Albus Dumbledore. The only man his Grandfather had ever feared, or at least that was what the Death Eater's whispered. Dubhán thought maybe he was a teeny tiny bit scared of Potter, too.

"It'll be fun, I promise. We'll floo through the Headmaster's office and after the classes I'll take you to fly on the pitch, alright?" Potter's eyes were alight but nervous and Dubhán knew there was something the man wasn't telling him. His insides twisted.

"Why do they need you?" He asked, shuffling his feet. Itching to reach out to his wand. Potter looked away for a moment and Dubhán felt his insides twist again.

"Every year I come in to do a segment on the Unforgivable curses for the Forth Years."

Why was Potter all nervous about saying that? There must be more. Floo through the Headmaster's office...

"Will I stay with you there?" He asked, narrowing his eyes, looking urgently for dishonesty from Potter.

"Well yeah..." Potter seemed a bit baffled.

"You won't leave me with the Headmaster alone?" His tone of voice made Potter frown.

"No, I wouldn't." And Potter's tone of voice and mannerism made Dubhán frown. Perhaps Potter wasn't Dumbledore's pawn like Grandfather had always believed. "Dumbledore is a good man Devlin, but he believes himself responsible for a great many lives and sometimes...he considers us too equally."

Dubhán was not a stupid child. He was cunning and clever and brilliant. But perhaps at nine he couldn't have known so keenly what Potter meant if he hadn't been raised with the fact constantly in his face.

"You mean he see's Grandfather in me." Looking like Voldemort was favorable in his world - it had made him live because Voldemort had seen him as himself. Dubhán did not need to be especially brilliant to reverse this theory. Dumbledore would see him as Voldemort, a boy he probably regretted not killing as a child.

"Yeah," Potter said, frowning and eying him carefully. "I'm telling you this because I know what it's like to feel left in the dark - to have yourself be a 'discussion topic' but never in your presence. Dumbledore wishes I would ask you things that I won't."

"I won't betray him," Dubhán said, and he meant what he said. He wasn't ready to toss Grandfather aside as he meant nothing to him.

"I know," Potter said. "I'm okay with that." He furrowed his brow. "Can we talk more about this when we get home? If we don't leave soon we'll be late. Let's go grab our cloaks. If you run into Emma, tell her you're going to work with me. She'll cling to my leg and won't let go if she knows we'll be within fifteen feet of Hagrid."

Dubhán nodded.

UPCOMING:

Potter settled the rat on the top of Remus' desk, which has magically cleaned itself. The contents were still busy sorting themselves into neat piles on a counter behind the Professor's main desk. The rat squeaked, fidgeting atop the desk. Dubhán watched the animal, wondering how far Potter would take this. He didn't seem the type to be able to stomach torture, let alone cast an Unforgivable. Was it his imagination or did the rat have a missing toe? He almost sniggered at the imperfection in Potter's transfiguration - although the rest seemed flawless.


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