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Chapter 33 : Unexpected
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The words left his mouth dry, and he stared at Harry with his heart pitter-pattering weakly in his chest. The everything of the world seemed to press upon him, and the nothingness at the edges of his mind seemed to laugh with mockery.
"I would look at her and I would say "Alexandra, Maria didn't escape because she wasn't ours, she lived because our son saved her. And I would tell her how brave you had been. I would tell her how you had used every scrap of knowledge and ability you had to save a child. She will probably cry and she will probably wonder why it had to be you - why these things have happened to you, and why we couldn't stop it, and why she didn't know, and why you didn't tell her - and more. But then she will marvel at your strength and be grateful that you had it, because it is surely why you survived."
"Will you tell her about the Imperius Curse?" He licked his dry lips, asking the simplest question to keep the bad thing from leaving his mouth: he knew he hadn't survived because of strength so much as because of cowardliness. He was afraid to die. He did not ever want to die. He would do anything, if it kept him alive.
"Yes. I would tell her everything you told me."
Except coming from Harry it sounded so different than in his own head. In his head there were other things - the ways in which he had used his cleverness to deceive the guards, the mean things he had said to make her run away from him, the way he had hidden while they hurt her, the way-
"You should tell her," he said, nodding.
"Because she can see things in my eyes like Snape and Dumbledore and Grandfather, and I only told you the words. I don't want you to see Maria like that." It sounded more reasonable and less suspicious if his worry was for her and not himself, he thought.
Harry's brow drew together softly.
"Is there something else you want to tell me about it, Devlin?"
His eyes rushed to the wood of the table out of habit, but then he lifted them, because he was mostly sure Harry wouldn't do that - couldn't see into his head.
"I wish I knew how many times you needed me to tell you that I don't care what he made you do, because I would say it that many times to you - right now."
Something hard was caught in his chest, like a weight about to break his ribs right where they connected. His heart was calm and dazed behind the weight, but his mind was a disheveled mess. Maybe that was why the words slipped past both him and the sharpness, or maybe he had carefully created it all in order to make sure they slip past, like he did to make his magic feel a want as a need.
The fact was: he said them.
"I killed that boy."
Harry stayed very still and Dubhán knew that he was proving Dubhán hadn't startled him.
"Which boy?" The words were calm and whispy and there was a smile being forced onto his face that Dubhán knew could not be real.
"That boy that you buried. I killed him. I've been thinking about it and I'm certain it was me."
Dubhán had never seen Harry ill, but he thought this was what the man would look like if he had caught some fever no healer could cure. Was this what Harry looked like, after fighting with the Dark Lord? Had he looked like this when he had found the Auror with the brown hair and brown eyes that had once been alive and well enough to recognize Dubhán as Devlin?
"And-" he brought a shaking hand up to rub at his eyes. "-how did that happen, Devlin?"
"Do you hate me now?" The words were childish but his tone was calculating and serious. Harry shook his head and Dubhán felt a breath enter into his chest. Harry rose from his chair and Dubhán knew what he was going to do, but somehow he let it happen - let Harry pull him out of the chair and into a hug.
"I will never judge you for what he made you do. But - how did it happen, Devlin?"
He smelled like the oak of a racing broom, grass, floo powder, and fizzy punch.
"You said even Remus knew and I've been thinking since I saw the paper: Remus should have known it wasn't me. He can do things I don't know how I'll ever do. He can pull apart magic like it is a spider web and he can use the threads to trap you with your own magic." His voice was muffled in Harry's chest, awed and perplexed at just the recollection of Voldemort's greatness and power. Things Voldemort had thought he could do, too. "But he can't make someone a werewolf who isn't, and a werewolf has a pack. I'm not Geoffrey's and every werewolf knew that when they met him too. Knew he was just playing at it. And that's how I know it was him and know it was me who killed him. I don't think Voldemort thought I would remember."
"How did it happen, Devlin?"
"I only remember the walls - they were stone. And the door - it was heavy and I have this idea that I tried to pull it open while I was still me. And him - the boy. He's in the corner of the stone room, pushing and pushing like he thinks he can go further than he is and he's sobbing and he's talking - but I don't understand what he's saying - and he's terrified. I don't remember doing it; well actually I think the sharpness does, but he won't show me."
Harry breathed into his hair.
"Please tell me you know he made you do it," Harry said, his breath hot and shaky in his hair. Somehow Dubhán knew that he hadn't really meant to say the words - to demand the information from him and it was only him shaking on the inside that made him say them at all.
"Yes," he answered, regardless. "Yes, I know. He didn't - he'd just met me. I wasn't all tangled up in his head yet."
Harry's hands dug almost painfully into his back, but he didn't speak again.
"You can't have actually killed him, Devlin," Harry said softly, soothingly, by his ear. Dubhán shifted with defense - because he knew what he had done. "He had to have turned. He had to be alive. Tom killed him."
Dubhán something break in him, or release, or shatter - he wasn't sure - and a sense of overwhelming something burst awake in his chest unexpectedly.
"I know," he said, and his own voice was shaking, "but I bit him. I let it happen. And if I had just stopped myself - if I had been strong enough to make the sharpness stop - then he would be alive."
Harry's fingers were dancing in his hair, his lips pursed against his scalp as he kissed him. Dubhán felt so empty and yet so full that it left him with a feeling of being waterlogged.
"You know that isn't true, Devlin," Harry whispered. He didn't sound especially happy that Dubhán would know. "You know he wouldn't have let the boy go. A muggleborn boy who had been where he kept you. A boy who looked like you, gone missing. You know he knew I would have put two and two together. Whether you marked him or not - he was marked for death the moment Voldemort chose him as your double."
Dubhán felt something hot trailing down his face and the taste of salt overwhelmed his taste as a drop fell against his lips and rolled into his mouth. Tears. He was crying.
He shoved himself away and wiped angrily at the tears.
They cried, not him. Tears were not for him. He was not supposed to be like them; like the people who Voldemort didn't find interesting and lifted his wand to whisper the brilliant green killing curse. He wasn't one of them. He didn't scream and he didn't cry and he didn't beg, because he did not want to die.
The record had either been throughly expunged, or else Potter had seen to the interrogation being off the record entirely. It took him days to track down who had interviewed the boy. The secretary hadn't seen any interrogators come in with them, the Auror's on their side had speculated that Potter or the Minister had sent the interrogator to wait for them ahead. Of course, he was accustomed to these difficulties and found that, with proper work and a bit of time, most things could be uncovered. He had smuggled out the records and noted which Auror's had been signed out at the time of the interrogation, suspecting that Potter had used an off-duty Auror to help muddy the tracks. He had been right.
Vincent Clearwater. Muggleborn. Sturdy and loyal without a child or a wife. The man's parents were dead. He had only a cat - old and greying, which he could see form the window where it was lounging.
Potter had picked well from the stock of off-duty Auror's. Nothing to torture or threaten to kill. He'd have to go right to the man himself, which was a bigger step than he had desired. It would be clear why they had gone after the man and the brat's value to the Dark Lord would become obvious. He didn't care about what that meant for the boy in terms of the Ministry, but he did care what the boy said to them and also how much more difficult this attention would mean grabbing the boy would be. If the Ministry thought the boy could be turned into an asset for information they would endeavor to keep him within their grasp, which would make his job of retrieving the boy almost impossible.
He shifted in the shadows as he withdrew his wand. He never really needed to think of these string of consequences, because these choices were not his own to make - Voldemort had been clear about what he was supposed to do and adamant that the brat would keep the important things to himself. Draco thought of his own son, the same age as the brat, and found himself doubtful. Then again, he mused, as he stepped out of the shadows and onto the lane, he had never met a boy more queer than that child; a child so unchildlike.
He hadn't always been that way, of course, but it had lingered at the boys edges like a creeping mold.
The muggle streetlights sent shadows around him, but he strode purposefully to the door. For a Muggleborn he was pretty handy with his locking charms, but he undid it slowly and invisibly, and soon enough he was inside. The cat meowed softly by the window, but didn't think anything particularly strange about his presence, apparently. The man would have done better to own a dog.
The stairs creaked and were carpeted - a thing Muggles seemed to like - in a cheap ugly brown.
It was easy enough to find his room. He had expected the man to be asleep, but instead he was already awake, his wand held out, his face hard and alert.
"I already called," Vincent said. "Didn't you think it odd how scarce my security was?"
He snarled as he felt anti-apparition spells being woven around the house.
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