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Chapter 14 : Unforgotten
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For a moment his skin crawled and his neck ached with ghost-fingers gripping at his neck, dragging him through a camp. His stomach gave a twinge and his already raw nerves began to burn. A memory screeched inside of his skull making his mind pulse painfully.
"You alright, Devlin?" It was Potter's voice that stopped the reel of memories swirling inside of his head. Potter's voice that brought him back into the reality that wasn't much better.
He felt sick just thinking of it.
"Devlin?" This time the voice propelled him to his feet. His world spun as his throat burned and his gut churned. Potter was looking at him, concern in his eyes. Concern for him.
The newspaper picture swam before his eyes. Potter's mouth opened and his feet fidgeted and Dubhán raced away to avoid the truth that was coming suffocatingly close to him. His first instinct was to race up the stairs, into the room and shut the door - applying copious amounts of locking charms behind him. But he faltered on the first step. The idea of that room where it had happened...
Suddenly he knew he wouldn't make it there anyway - he turned on his heel and rushed into the near bathroom, shutting the door behind him.
He stared at the solid white wood for a moment, trying to will the inevitable sickness away, but found it was just as he suspected - inevitable. He lunged for the toilet, his mind morbidly stuck on the newspaper photograph and the rest of his body heaving in protest to the accompanying image and thoughts.
"Devlin?" It was his voice, soft and worried and so full of love that it made Dubhán's body heave even more.
He's stopped looking for you.
He's forgotten you.
But he obviously hadn't. Everywhere one turned in this house, were reminders. All the pictures, the room, even some of Emma's more babyish toys still had 'Devlin Potter' inscribed on them. Yesterday he had dared to get close to the front door again and found, settled beside Emma's tiny pink boots, a pair of well-worn sneakers that he could still remember.
"Devlin, are you alright? Please let me in." The knob rattled, locked with the simple muggle lock that adorned all the doors in the house. He'd only figured out what they were for the day before yesterday.
He heaved again. The knob rattled some more.
He's forgotten you.
Like always the remembered words made anger well up in his stomach, but this time he felt a distinct difference in it's direction. He lifted his wand.
The knob rattled one more time before Potter (perhaps he should start calling him Harry) realized it was open.
He was next to him in a second. Dubhán chanced a glance, only for his body to feel sick again at all those emotions in the green orbs.
Dubhán had been sick before, with Grandfather. He half expected when Potter stood up for him to open the potion cabinet and withdraw a potion and force it down his throat to make this all stop. Instead, he grabbed a towel and wetted it under the tap, bringing it back to lay against the back of his neck.
"It's alright, Devlin," he said, his voice soft and soothing. He stood again and brought back another towel and wiped at his face. "Can you tell me what's wrong?"
"Don't touch me, I didn't say you could," he said automatically, but his voice was broken and soft and for once the words came out as he always felt when he said them - apprehensive.
"Alright," he said, just as softly, his hands drifting away and making Dubhán regret the automatic response for a moment.
He grabbed for the toilet again, sick. Potter hovered near him and if what he had said before was automatic and typical, the next thing he said was decidedly not typical.
"Don't leave me," he gasped out between whole-body heaves, in what felt like his bodies attempt to turn him inside out. His hand reached out, clasping onto Potter's shirt front.
For a moment Potter's face was entirely blank, then surprise flittered by - not like an unpleasant surprise, but like Dubhán imagined his face was like when he discovered how to use a wand.
"Never ever," he said, as if he actually understood what Dubhán had been thinking.
Dubhán nodded, feeling his insides righting themselves. Dubhán wondered if this was what it felt like to calm down, an order he had never been able to follow with his Grandfather in the room with him while he was sick.
"Can you tell me what happened? If it was the class-"
"No," he gasped out. He was appalled by the idea that Potter thought watching curses would make him sick like this.
"Please tell me, Devlin. You're mum is going to think I made a huge mistake bringing you with me...please...tell me."
He wiped at his mouth with one of the towel's Potter had left. His head was pounding in that particular way that made him knowhe'd be shaking in a moment. Potter's eyes were bright and shimmering with everything Dubhán couldn't understand.
"I saw it," he said quickly and more roughly than he had intended, all his focus on staying there. Potter's face was open and encouraging. "I saw the picture of me dead - in the newspaper."
Potter's wide open face crumbled into closed-off darkness, except for his eyes - still alight with everything Dubhán was almost-certain he would never understand or feel himself.
"I didn't want you to know," Potter whispered hollowly as Dubhán felt that first convulsion crawl up his spine. He tried his best to ignore it in favor of regarding Potter - burning into his mind all those emotions that he couldn't understand but were for him. All his. Potter's hands were clenching into his thighs, crumpling his white Auror robes. Dubhán dug his fingers into the soft bathmat, trying to cling to the reality he could feel slipping away from him with every shiver running up his spine.
"Don't let me fall," he ground out suddenly - the same words he would have said to Geoffrey, the exact opposite to the silence he would have kept with Grandfather. Potter's eyes snapped up, alight with something more now and even though Dubhán hadn't said he could, he reached out with his hands and drew him close.
The shout melted into the all-consuming fire that was rapidly spreading across his skin - seeping in deeper and deeper until it was in his blood, bones, and marrow. His skin was suddenly frigid, his marrow suddenly burning. He arched his back, every muscle in his body tensing and firing. There was no escaping the pain - it was there no matter how he moved.
Suddenly there was something grabbing him, making his skin alight with a wicked fire under the pressure. It was around his eyes, near his nose - he couldn't breath! He gasped for air through his throat - daggers stabbing for having dared to open his mouth.Don't scream, don't scream, don't scream!
Cool liquid pooled in his throat and he swallowed instinctively, all the while thrashing away from the contact.
Come here, the sharpness, that had long ago become a part of him, whispered. Cool mist was sinking into his mind, putting out the fire. He was in the meadow again, covered in droplets of cold mist. He shook the mist, and the fire it had quelled, off of himself. Beneath his paws was the grass and around him was the thick fog that always accompanied this place. Somehow he knew he was supposed to be a boy, but somehow he also knew he was the wolf.
It's our turn now, someone whispered and he couldn't be sure if it was the sharpness or himself - because here they were the same. In here, he was never completely the wolf or the boy, but an odd mixture of them both.
Sirius grabbed for his wand, his coffee spilling onto his lap as he rushed to his feet. Remus, over by the stove pantry, did the same.
They rushed toward the sound, only to find the Death Eater on the floor with his hands clutching at his head - looking as if someone were torturing him. Sirius paused in confusion, but Remus rushed forward. Whatever he might have felt about the Death Eater, Remus like Lily had never been able to watch anyone suffer. He grabbed for the man, hauling him onto the sofa and trying to pry his hands away from his head.
"What is wrong?" He shouted at the man, but he simply continued to scream, body shaking, breathing only when his lungs had emptied enough to force his body to draw in more air. "WHAT IS WRONG?"
"Finite Incantatem!" Sirius shouted, leaping forward. But it had no effect.
Then suddenly, the Death Eater stopped screaming and lay perfectly still. A few tense minutes later, he opened his eyes. They were blood-shot and amber.
"What the fuck was that all about?" Sirius shouted, his wand still aimed, his stance tense and annoyed - because damn-it this Death Eater was annoying and he had kept Devlin hostage (Sirius didn't care if it was really Voldemort...) and he didn't know why Harry wanted him kept alive (well he did but...).
The Death Eater sat bolt upright, his gaze still unfocused. He tried to stand.
"Dubhán," he whispered, looking around franticly. "Dubhán!"
Remus pushed at the Death Eater's chest, making him lay back down.
"Dubhán is with Harry," Remus said, using the name the Death Eater was most likely to recognize.
"He..." The Death Eater shook himself, rubbing at his skin. "Crucio."
He ran a hand through his hair, wincing at the scratch marks he must have dug into his scalp.
Remus frowned, but Sirius understood. Harry had described to him in detail the first day he had been reintroduced to Devlin.
An hour later the fireplace lit green and Harry's head poked through, finding them all sitting silently on one sofa. He frowned for a moment.
"It occurred to me that Geoffrey-"
"Totally fucking scared us half to death - yeah. How's Devlin?" Sirius blurted out, anxious to cut to the important part. Harry frowned.
"I think he's alright. He's...asleep...unconscious - I don't know. Is that normal?" He was speaking to the Death Eater now and Sirius reluctantly stood aside so they could see each other.
"Yes," the werewolf ground out, his voice still hoarse from all the screaming. "He tells me his wolf wakes him up," he added, shuddering. Potter nodded and without another word, he was gone.
Sirius paced and Remus sat silently and the Death Eater looked around the room still half-dazed.
"Are you hurting?" Remus asked softly after an hour or so.
"No," he said, still looking dazed.
"What did he say?"
Like always, noises were the first thing to penetrate the hazy thoughts. Physical sensation were still muted and unimportant - the fire was gone - and so it was with a passing sort of curiosity that he noted he was warm and something soft was wrapped around him. Smell was what always followed the noises. Parchment, vanilla, rocking chairs and kisses. He turned his cheek against the something soft and was rewarded with a thump, thump, thump sound that seemed perfectly ordinary and perfectly right. After all, hadn't that been why he'd moved his head? He twitched his lips in half-consideration, but there was no true effort behind the fleeting thought.
"Normal." The sounds shuffled themselves together in his mind half-heartedly ('n-or-mal') making him aware that there had been meaning hidden in the sounds made by someone. He shifted again, mind still foggy, but the grass gone.
"Devlin?" It was the same tone that had made the normal sound -word- and he shifted again. That name always meant wakefulness was to be fought. He waited for the laughter that was enough to make his belly ache, for the wind by his cheeks as he rode on the broom, for the quiet songs that made his eyes feel heavy - but none of that came. "Do you think he's waking up?"
He shifted his cheek again so that he could hear that thump, thump, thump under his ear.
"I don't know," said another voice. The voice that should have been singing. Why did it sound worried? It wasn't supposed to be worried in his dreams.
You're not dreaming.
His eyes shot open. His body jerked into self-awareness and he scrambled away.
She'd been holding him - like a child. The smell of vanilla, parchment, kisses and rocking chairs still filled his nostrils. The thump, thump, thump of her heart still reverberated in his head.
"Hello," she said, smiling at him. He bared his teeth, still somewhere between the wolf and the boy - not sure which one.
"Hello," he said, hearing his own voice. It was deep and gravely, trying to force itself into his voice. Hearing it, he knew his eyes must be amber.
"Are you still feeling sick? I have a potion for it." Her eyes were deep and intent upon him, searching his features for something that he couldn't identify.
"No," he said flatly, tipping his head. He tried to shake himself into what he was supposed to be - the boy - but it was always hardest after all the convulsing. It was the boy that had the determination, but it was him that had the strength enough to pull them out of the darkness and back into reality.
"You scared me," she said - everything from her body to her voice speaking of a moment of weakness shining through her put-together exterior. He tipped his head again, analyzing every whispering clue that her movements gave away as to how he should react.
"I didn't mean to," he said, hoping to appease her. She frowned and he frowned, wondering if he had reacted the right way. She choked on a sound, or made a choking sound or - he wasn't sure but it made him doubt even more that he had acted properly. He was well adapted at dealing with the red-eyed man, but he wasn't sure what to do with her. He could remember her from when he was smaller and the way the boy had treated her then, but knew that neither of them were the same, now.
"If we had known, Devlin," she said suddenly. There was a wetness running down her cheeks and making her eyes glaze over. She began to ramble half-coherently and since he had seen men do this before in front of the red-eyed man, he simply let her. "Harry-" she choked again "he never gave up. Ever. Not after Maria came back to her father. But...it was so painful to hope about something that had so much clear evidence against it. The Ministry tested that body and then any other wizard or witch your father could get, often through steep favors, tested it too. The most renowned medi-wizards and witches and curse breakers - they all tested it. And they all said "this is Devlin Potter."
She covered her face, pushing away the wetness. Tears.
He reached out, stirred by the boys instincts that he had grown detached from, rather than his own wolfish ones that they had grown dependent upon, and touched her knee. She looked up at him suddenly.
"I know what Tom is like. I couldn't imagine him having any mercy for a child. I-"
"Mercy?" He asked, tipping his head - trying to interrupt her ramble that was giving him a headache.
"He let you live," she said, looking at his hand that was touching her.
"He meant to kill me," he said, because he was almost certain that was the opposite of mercy. The man shifted by the door and he glanced at him, leaning uncomfortably against the doorframe. "It wasn't mercy that made him stop."
"What did?" The man asked, his green eyes on him but not meeting his gaze.
But even he knew this was a secret that they kept closer to their hearts than even the blue eyes that often filled their nightmares.
"I don't talk about it," he said forcefully as if expecting a fight, except he didn't get one - the man merely stuck his hands into his pockets, slouched, and nodded at the floor. There was a shared twinge of wishing that filled their gut.
"Maybe someday you'll want too," the man said and the look he was giving the floor-
I wanted you more than anything even before I knew you.
I loved you before I could see you.
I loved you from the moment your mum told me there was the possibility you existed.
The words surfaced in his mind, whispered and distorted and traveling through the flimsy barrier that didn't really separate him from the boy anymore. A shiver ran up his spine.
Dead. He thought I was dead.
The thoughts were whirling fiercely inside of his head, making everything pound.
"I want to lay down," he said suddenly, knowing nothing was going to stop unless the boy calmed down.
Harry had never heard his voice quite so small and it reminded him of when he had been little and sick with a fever. He acted on instinct to help the boy to his feet. He looked dizzy and dazed, but must have inherited Harry's reflexes, because he managed to stay on his feet even reeling away from Harry's touch.
"Don't touch me, I didn't say you could." When the boy had awoken his eyes had been amber. It had made Harry think of his training as an Auror when they had shown two different pictures of wolves - a real and a werewolf - and brought the classes attention the eyes.Werewolves will have a deeper amber and the pattern - it will be human-like. The amber had clung to his eyes, but now - with such a forceful comment, a bit of green reentered.
His wolf wakes him up.
It had been a comment he hadn't thought much about when Geoffrey had said it except for that it implied Devlin would wake up. The relief had clouded his thoughts, otherwise he would have asked what exactly he meant.
Remus' eyes sometimes took on an amber hue - Harry had seen it when the werewolf had seen Devlin's body- the fake Devlin.
Feral werewolves could turn their eyes at will - a skill passed down over this mean Geoffrey could do the same and had taught Devlin?
Then there was the fact that Devlin had touched Alexandra, yet just snapped at him.
But Harry could accept that. It was Harry's fault this had happened to his son and the boy was smart enough to understand that, obviously.
"Alright," Harry said softly, pulling his hands back to reassure Devlin that he wouldn't touch him.
Those Amber-green eyes searched his out.
"I don't like people touching me," he said softly, as if excusing himself. "Especially not after all the shaking."
"I understand," Harry said, still trying to reassure. Especially after his son had been willing to share any insight with him.
"No you don't," he said, softly again. He pushed past him and turned to climb the stairs. Harry followed. He wouldn't touch him, but if he fell he was absolutely catching him!
He didn't fall.
Harry was left standing rather uselessly outside of his door while the boy crept into the bed and under the covers. He didn't seem to mind that his door was open, in fact, or that Harry was there, watching him while his eyes were closed.
"I don't like it closed anyway," he said after a while, turning to look at him. His eyes were more green, at least from this distance - perhaps it was merely Harry's wishful thinking.
"Why not?" His voice was a whisper. He felt flushed with excitement that Devlin was actually speaking with him and cold with dread because he suspected the boys answer.
"The room reminds me, especially if the door is closed." He was sitting up in the bed, his eyes definitely more green.
"Reminds you of what?" The words were almost too painful to drag up his throat, but he mades himself, because he had to know even if it would make him a thousand times more broken. Did Devlin remember his kidnapping?
His green eyes feel like cold stones upon him - not with unpleasantness but striking in their intensity. He opened his mouth and Harry prepared himself to die inside, but then the little lips closed again and he sighed, shaking his head.
"Does it really matter, sir?"
It was the first time the boy had called him anything (beside the time he had tried to trick him). It didn't matter in that moment that he would have preferred it was dad or Harry or even Potter. It didn't matter that he hated 'sir' because coming from his son he loved anything.
"Anything that you think about will always matter to me," he said, licking his dry lips and trying to pull together every ounce of focus he had. He couldn't mess this up.
It will be very important to do and say things the right way, around the child.
The mind healer had made it all very clear to Alexandra and he when they had privately consulted her, or as clear as she could make it since she had also made it clear Devlin's situation was "more than unusual".
He frowned slightly, narrowing his eyes.
"Don't lie to me. I don't need you to do that. Not everything I think about is important to you. You could just have said this is and then you wouldn't be a liar now."
Harry shook his head adamantly.
"I wasn't lying, Devlin." He stuck his hands into his pockets only to pull them out abruptly. "I've missed so many of your thoughts...now I want to know anything you will share. I want to know you."
"Right now I'm thinking about how ridiculous you sound," Devlin said, a drawl to his tone. Harry stepped in a bit. His eyes were green now.
He gave the boy his best sheepish grin.
"I get that a lot, actually," he reassured. He wanted to make Devlin laugh, but that didn't seem an easy feat.
"You didn't just think I was dead," the boy said suddenly - throwing Harry's thoughts of making the boy laugh as far from him as possible. "You knew - or I mean, it seemed like you did."
"Yes," Harry said, his throat dry and sandpaper-like again.
"He told me you forgot about me," Devlin said, his hands curled up into fists around his comforter, his eyes looking down.
"Never." It hadn't needed to be said, because Devlin clearly wasn't done, but Harry couldn't stop himself. The idea that his child had thought he had simply forgotten about him was enough to terrify him.
"But then I was dead." The words were monotone and defeated. "So you had to stop looking, because there was nothing to look for."
"I couldn't," he said, his voice rasp. "I kept looking. I drove everyone around me mad. I never gave up, Devlin. I-" He was crying and he hated it, because his son - raised with Death Eaters must see it as sign that he was worthless. He reached for his wand suddenly. "Accio Devlin's Folder!"
There was the sound of his office door opening. The whoosh as the papers came flying up the stairs and around the corner. They were floating in the air above his waiting hand, now. He took the box and strode into the bedroom, putting it on the bed in front of Devlin.
"I never forgot about you, Devlin," he said more firmly.
Inside was almost four years of papers - that much was clear to Dubhán. There were pictures of boys in one folder that weren't him 'Muggle Missing Children meeting Devlin's description' with several dates beneath each photo indicating 'check-ups'. There were muggle police reports and he scanned these eagerly, looking for something particular but knowing he wouldn't find it because cops were just Muggles with big sticks that they didn't know were weaker than a wand.
There was a folder listed as "Magical Adoptions" and what seemed like every magical boys adoption that had occurred in the last four years.
There was yet another folder called "Muggle Orphanages" in which there were more pictures of boys that were not him.
There were even more files "Possible Escapes?" "Muggle adoptions meeting Devlin's description" and "Possible Police Tampering cases."
He ignored the first two in favor of the last.
Inside were bundles of a bright white paper with letters that were so perfect they had to have been made with a stamp of some kind.
"Those were all dead ends," Harry said softly, coming to sit next to him on the bed. On the top of each bundle was a scribbled note about how old he would have been at the time. "But since I'm Head Auror I made the office of Improper Use of Magic send me every questionable case. After a while they stopped sending me full reports and just wrote one or two lines."
Dubhán nodded. Potter stood up.
"You can keep them all," he said after an awkward moment of simply standing there by his bed. "You should rest now. Alex won't have it if I keep you up."
But of course Dubhán didn't rest. As soon as Potter left he began to work his way through the papers. Each folder, each hand-scribbled note, each fold and tear of the paper - it was all proof that Potter hadn't forgotten him.
'Devlin would have been seven and two months.'
It was another report from the 'Improper Use of Magic Office' if the stamp at the top was anything to go by. It still had lines in it, as if someone had folded it into a triangular shape. He smoothed it out and lifted it up, just like he had the other twelve he had already read.
Auror Potter - as per your ongoing request.
Two police officers were sent out on a dispatch for a distressed child but did not find the child at the premise or recall going there at all. Yet the records of the dispatch and the check-in remain from right before they entered the building. The owner of the Bakery Ellie Breech does not remember making the call nor does her assistant Emily Harper. I haven't got much else about the case, Mr. Potter, except that it did occur within your 'interest zone' so I am passing it along. See below for the address the non-magical records indicate.
His hands shook on the paper.
'I was looking for my Daddy, but I can't find him.'
He felt like he had been punched in the gut. All the air was suddenly gone from his lungs and when he went to gasp for some more, it wouldn't enter past his tight throat.
That had been him.
This was the one and only incident Potter could have had and Dubhán had spent years convincing himself Potter would never knew at all. The fact that he hadn't only noticed, but saved the proof, turned Dubhán's world upside down.
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