Lord of the Black Blade

Title: Lord of the Black Blade
Author: Bindingdiva
Fandom/Genre: Harry Potter/NCIS
Relationship(s): Harry/Draco; Severus Snape; Tony DiNozzo
Content Rating: MA
Warnings: Death, destruction and mayhem. Dumble!Bashing; Weasley!Bashing; Grey!Harry
Summary: Draco is alone, sick, and almost a squib after losing his family magic in the months following the fall of Voldemort, through no fault of his own. He’s also deeply in love with Harry Potter, who he hasn’t seen for 13 years. When his lost love walks into Draco’s office and offers him a new home, he has no idea just how far the journey will be, and who he will meet on the way.
Word Count: 45,444
A/N: This was my Challenge fic for the Rough Trade Challenge in April 2016. I can’t quite remember the challenge wording, but the theme was Changing History, I think. And in this story, Harry. Changes. Everything!

Banner by Bindingdiva

Banner by Bindingdiva

 

It was fucking November already.

November…Damp, grey, and too near to winter to be anything to be happy about. Draco’s window looked out on the non-Wizarding side of Diagon Alley, and as his office was on the ground floor, the shimmer that accompanied a charm on the glass was deemed too obvious to Muggle passers-by. So the grubby panes never showed anything but the dull, dreary reality of life in a back street in Central London.

Not that his bosses would have considered spending the money to enchant his environs anyway. He cast a jaded eye around the shabby side office. The furniture had seen much better days and was old but definitely not antique. The rug was worn thin in places, and the decoration had been contemporary over fifty years ago.

He shifted in his chair and tried not to notice how threadbare the cuff of his dress shirt was looking. Draco yanked down the sleeve of his Muggle suit jacket to cover the offending article and then fumbled to find his handkerchief as a wet, painful cough razored its way from his lungs to his throat. At least the office was warm – for the client’s comfort of course and not Draco’s. Just the thought of returning to his frigid little flat on Knockturn later that afternoon made him shiver.

‘Oh Sev’, he thought sadly. ‘What I wouldn’t give for a vial of your Pulmonorium Potion.’ He dashed crossly at the tears which had been more and more difficult to fight back over the last few weeks. He missed his godfather more with every passing year, and whoever said that time was the great healer was a total idiot. Time had just made the reality of his life more painful.

Working hard to submerge the depression that was his constant companion, he looked back at the file on his desk and tried to work up some enthusiasm for the petty squabbles of Mrs Althea Wimbat and her errant neighbour Mr Archibald.

Allegedly, the latter had hexed the former’s elderly Kneazel with the Canis Malum Hex, and the furry feline menace was now barking and taking chunks out of the customers at Mrs Wimbat’s Haircharming Salon. If his head wasn’t aching quite so much, Draco would have been banging it on the desk just to relieve the tedium.

The creak of the floorboard outside his office door alerted him to the imminent arrival of a visitor, and as the only people he saw on a regular basis were his bosses, he quickly dipped his quill in the ink pot and proceeded to affect the demeanour of intense industry he had perfected over the last decade.

The door opened and closed again, but he knew better than to look up from his work without being invited to. That was one of the fifteen or so rules that the partners of ‘Mylkbred, Pattypants and Schleur: Advocates in Law to the Wizarding Populace’ ruthlessly enforced in his contract, with dire threats of ‘Instant dismissal for any and all lapses and infractions’.

The silence was like a living thing in the room, taunting him; daring him to step out of the strait jacket of his life and into the certainty of penury. Matilda Mylkbred particularly liked to play this game with him, enjoying the ever increasing tension until Draco thought he would scream…

But he never did. He needed this job too much. It was this or the streets and Draco knew what that eventuality meant.

“Draco?”

Malfoy’s heart actually stopped beating for a few seconds. He’d never thought to hear that voice again and he dared not to look up to check, fearing that his sadistic employer was simply playing a trick on him.

The person in front of him moved quietly to the side of his desk. A subtle, but achingly familiar scent engulfed him, and he fisted his hands against the desktop as they trembled with repressed longing.

“Too good to talk to me, Malfoy?” The voice was snarky on the surface, but underneath there was an air of concern – fear even.

“Please, Dray.”

This time the anxiety was obvious.

That was more than Draco could take. Job or no job, he had to answer that plea. If it was a ruse then he’d fall for it and face the consequences; if it was a hallucination then he’d enjoy it for as long as it lasted…But if, oh Merlin, if it was really him…

He carefully placed the quill on its rest, and ran a shaking hand through his short hair, before looking up to meet the greenest eyes the Wizarding World had ever produced.

“Har…” he began, but then a flash of apprehension stayed his tongue.

Maybe he hadn’t meant to come to Draco’s tiny box of an office. Maybe he was simply a client who had strayed down the wrong corridor. “Lord Potter-Black, how may I help you? Do you need directions to one of the partner’s suites?”

He was proud of the tenor of his query. Solicitous without being obsequious. Just what his employers would expect of a near squib clerk in a back room.

He watched as a myriad of emotions tumbled over Harry’s expression, while his gaze wandered over Draco’s face. His expression was concerned and perturbed, but held none of the pity that Draco hated more than the sneering disdain that was often thrown at him, both here at work and in the street.

“No, I’m here to see you, Draco. And you know you never have to use all that Lord crap with me. I’m just plain Harry to you…always.”

Malfoy was about to refute that ridiculous statement when his door was flung open by a very irate Mme Mylkbred.

“Malfoy! Why in Circe’s name did you not redirect Lord Potter-Black to the second floor immediately on his arrival. He has been languishing in your…”

Her nostrils widened and her lip curled in a derisive sneer as she cast her eyes around the run-down room.

“…office for nearly three minutes! I’m sure a man of Lord Potter-Black’s standing has better things to do than be in the presence of one such as you.”

The walls rushed in to meet Draco. If he couldn’t make proper excuses for Harry’s continued presence in his office, then both his job and his chances at surviving the winter would disappear in the face of his employer’s ire.

He didn’t have time to even draw breath however, before the room began to crackle with the release of Magic that always accompanied Harry’s temper. Although there was something strange about the timbre of it; something unfamiliar and slightly off-kilter, and Draco found himself holding his breath as he surreptitiously reached into his holster, to finger a wand that barely worked for him anymore.

“My business is with Advocate Malfoy, Mme Mylkbred. In fact, from now on, Advocate Malfoy will be working on a new project alongside me, and he will be representing my interests exclusively. I’m afraid it will mean monopolising his time, so he will need to be ensconced in my offices. But as I’m sure you are aware, my contract retaining your services does guarantee me ‘Any and all counsel, advocacy, legal representation, and personnel that may be required for both the business and personal legal needs of Lord Harry James Potter-Black’, does it not?”

Harry’s focus strayed to Draco for a second or two, and Draco found himself able to read the intent of that gaze just as easily as he could fifteen years ago.

‘Go with this, Dray’, he could almost hear him say. ‘Trust me, sweetheart’.

And he did, Merlin damn him, he trusted him implicitly, as if those miserable long years apart had never happened. He gave a slight nod, and although it cost him dear, infused it with a little frisson of the old Malfoy arrogance, which saw a slight lifting of the corner of Harry’s mouth as reward.

Matilda however was not happy – oh, the dried-up old bint was not happy at all, as evidenced by the white, tight line of her lips and the gimlet stare of her ice-blue eyes.

“But my dear Lord Potter-Black, I’m sure you would agree that one of the founding partners would be a much better fit for whatever project you have in mind. Malfoy is not by any measure a trained Advocate. His experience is sadly lacking in the kind of large project you no doubt have in mind, I’m afraid. His efficiency and professionalism is not of a sufficient standard that our company would propose his services for a man of your political and financial eminence. I couldn’t possibly let Malfoy represent our company in any capacity.”

As usual, she said his name like a curse, and the part of Draco that had been beaten down all these years wanted to curl up and cry at the veracity of some of her statements (more because of their lack of willingness to train him than any lack of his own abilities), and the very real possibility that Harry might just listen to her.

“You forget, Madame. Draco and I are old friends. I know him to be an exceedingly intelligent and capable man. It would seem if there is any reason for the deficiency in his experience it is more to do with dearth of opportunity that your partnership has offered him. Well then that is all to the good.” Harry’s eyes were bright with temper and agitation. “Rather than pay you to represent me, I’ll simply take on Malfoy for all my Advocacy. Any gaps in his knowledge will be easily filled by some judicious study.”

Draco’s eyes were wide with amazement. He had forgotten what it was like when someone actually believed in you. The flashes of anger in Harry’s eyes seemed to become challenging as he turned his gaze on Malfoy.

“What do you say, Draco? You’re not afraid of hard work, I know that. Given the opportunity to take on some new experiences and knowledge, would you consider working for me exclusively?”

Swallowing hard at being put on the spot, Draco took hold of the tiny spark of bravery that was being fanned to a flame by Harry’s belief in him, and made his decision.

“I am happy to discuss the terms of your offer, Lord Potter-Black. I’m sure between us we can hammer out any difficulties.”

At his acceptance, Matilda’s eyes flashed with fury, and her well-known antagonistic personality reared its ugly head. “Well, if you are set on this ridiculous course of action there is nothing I can do to dissuade you and I am not of a mind to try. I have no doubt we will be seeing you back here all too soon, Lord Potter-Black, and I assure you that the terms of our contract with you will not be as advantageous as they are now. And as for you Mr Malfoy, there will be no return from this. Your contract terms were very clear. I will expect your recompense for your lack of notice and your uniform by close of business tomorrow.”

“Oh Madame, I have every faith in Mr Malfoy’s ability to be exactly what I need, both now and in the future. Please make sure that any outstanding work your Chamber s are undertaking for me, is wound up and on my desk by the end of the week. As a new employee, any charges relating to Draco leaving your employment can be added to the final reckoning of my account. Please be aware, however, that I will be checking the terms of his void contract very carefully. Now if you would excuse us, Draco and I will be leaving momentarily. We have a lot to talk about.”

Harry waved a negligent hand at the incensed witch and turned his back on her, making his point very clear; that there would be no further conversation on the matter and she should leave the room immediately.

Draco was surprised when she did exactly that, although several rather ugly paintings fell off the wall as she slammed the door with more force than a thin, elderly woman should have been able to muster.

“Right, come on, get your cloak and let’s get out of this shithole. We’re going to my London house. You’ve never been there, so it’ll have to be Side-Along I’m afraid.”

Harry held out a hand and Draco was impelled to take it, all the while wondering if Harry was just being nice, or really didn’t know that his new employee didn’t have enough Magic for an Impervious charm, let alone solo Apparition.

Making himself deaf to the voice in his head that was screaming that this was all the biggest mistake he was ever going to make, and that he’d be whoring himself on Knockturn within the week, Draco pulled his inadequate winter cloak from the coat stand behind the door and draped it around his shoulders.

As Potter stepped confidently into his personal space, Draco felt his heart speed up and his breathing labour a little, causing the ever-present cough to rear its ugly head. He smothered it with his hand, and used force of will to prevent an all-out coughing fit.

He saw a slightly worried and quizzical frown flicker over Harry’s brow, before it was quickly wiped away by a beautifully familiar smile, which made Potter’s gaze brighten, and the new little crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes crinkle fetchingly. With a nonchalant flick of his fingers that made Malfoy’s stomach tighten with jealousy and longing, Harry cast Calorem Magnum over both of them. As the high-powered warming charm flowed across his body, Draco luxuriated in the feeling of not being chilled for the first time in years, feeling muscles that had locked with tension begin to relax.

Harry’s hand was burning and heavy as he gently tucked Draco’s arm into his own, and curled sure fingers around the thin forearm. The sweetness of the touch after so many years was almost Malfoy’s undoing, but he held on to his dignity by a thread and forced himself to ask the question burning on his lips.

“So tell me, Potter. Just exactly what are we going to be working on?”

“Oh I have plans, Dray, great plans.” Harry gave him a mischievous wink. “You and me…We’re going to change the Wizarding World…”

And the only response Draco’s mind could give was…

‘Oh…Fuck!’

*****

Harry’s London house was a large Victorian detached mansion, in the obviously well-to-do Muggle area of St Johns Wood. Its white painted plaster façade was in keeping with the other houses in the terrace and there was nothing about it to advertise that the most powerful and fêted Wizard since Merlin lived there.

Apparition had drained what little energy Draco had in reserve and he found himself leaning heavily on Harry, in order to prevent him making a fool of himself by landing on his arse on the front step.

Breakfast had been a long time ago and as usual there hadn’t been much of it. Draco hoped there’d be at least a hot cup of tea in his near future.

“Hey, makes a change for me not to be the one losing his balance, huh,” Harry teased gently.

Draco managed to raise a smile but the snarky comebacks had long since been beaten back by circumstance. Mylkbred, Pattypants & Schleur did not encourage a smart mouth, especially from impoverished clerks with the stain of Voldemort hanging over them.

His internal musings were shocked back into the present when Harry called into the house.

“Hi, honey. I’m home.”

The sinking feeling in Draco’s stomach was more about realisation than hunger. Of course, Potter had got married to the Weaselette straight after the war. In the overwhelming shock of having the man in his office, Malfoy had forgotten that little nugget of information and had based all his, now seemingly stupid, assumptions on memories of his Harry.

He weakly pulled his arm from where it was clutched against Harry’s side, causing the other man to turn concerned green eyes towards him.

“Everything OK, Dray. You still feeling wobbly?”

Before he could answer that no, he wasn’t feeling OK, and it had nothing to do with their mode of travel, he was shocked into silence by the appearance of a tall, broad and devastatingly handsome man, whose obvious charisma preceded him down the stairs like a physical entity. He was dressed semi-formally in a cobalt blue and black brocade waistcoat, with smiling soft green eyes framed by oval glasses.

Draco’s heart sank and his stomach gave another lurch. Was this Harry’s lover?

“You called, Boss.” The man’s baritone voice rang with an American accent that was ripe with affectionate humour.

“Oh, you finally decided then,” he commented cryptically, as he noticed Draco.

It was all too much for Malfoy. He began to shake with reaction, and his lungs decided now was a good time to join the party, launching him into a paroxysm of coughing that was deeply painful. To his deep chagrin, a gob of bloody sputum landed on the floor at his feet.

“Oh, that is not good,” the tall man said urgently. “Believe me I know. You have a serious problem there; bronchitis, or maybe even pneumonia or worse. Help me get him into the sitting room, Har.”

Without pause, Harry swept Draco up into strong arms and strode into a large, warm room, with a big fire crackling in an ornate fireplace. Draco was gently laid on a plush couch that felt like heaven to his aching limbs.

“Shit, Dray. Why didn’t you say you were ill? And what were you doing at the office when you are so poorly?”

“He won’t be able to answer you, Boss. Not with things the way they are. In my bathroom I have a stasis store. There are two bottles of Snape’s Patented Pulmonorium Potion. With any luck he’ll only need one. They are my last two and as we can’t get any more I’d like to keep one for emergencies, so don’t you dare Accio them.”

There was a glint of calculation in Harry’s eye which Draco almost missed, but it was there, and he wondered what that was all about as Potter dashed out of the room.

“Don’t worry. That potion will fix you up, and then you can tell your story. ‘Cause I’m guessing this isn’t a new problem, huh?”

Draco was too shaky to rouse any comeback about it being his godfather’s potion and of course it would work. All he could do was hold the pillow the other man had thoughtfully provided against his chest, as the endless coughing fit continued.

“I’m Anthony, by the way, but everyone calls me Tony. I knew the Boss for a long time before he employed me as the Butler here at Empyrean House. And since then I’ve been everything you could think of for Master Potter-Black.”

The man gave a smirk and Draco couldn’t help but read his initial fears into it. He was glad the tears that were trickling down his cheeks could be attributed to his lungs and not the dashing of all his ridiculous dreams. But by the other man’s reaction it seemed he was no longer adept at wearing the masks he had refined during the hard years at his father’s knee. A long finger tucked under his chin and pulled his gaze up to meet Anthony’s.

“Never that. He’s only ever had a place in his heart for one person, but that’s his story to tell.”

“And I will tell it soon, Draco.” Harry’s voice was soft and comforting as he strode back into the room, a pale blue vial clutched in his fist. “But not till after you take this potion and we get some food into you. And definitely not until you tell me how you managed to get yourself in this state.”

*****

Tea, and soup with warm buttered bread was a panacea for all ills as far as Harry was concerned, and alongside Severus’ superb potion making skills it seemed that it had gone some way to making Draco more comfortable, although nowhere near the gorgeous snarky blond he had kept locked in his memory for the last fifteen years.

The man was thin and haggard, soot-dark bruises smudged under his eyes. The cough had obviously been a problem for a good while and although he hadn’t mentioned it, Harry was well aware that Draco’s Magic was weak to say the least.

Tony had insisted that Draco sleep for a while, and the potion had left him unable to resist. Harry had placed himself on the end of the couch, his hand often straying to touch the unmoving foot that was nearest to him.

Two hours had passed and night was drawing in. Tony had drawn the drapes and lit the Mageglobes that filled the room with soft Magical illumination. The fire was tended and both Harry and Tony were enjoying a glass of Bourbon – a vice Tony had introduced to Harry a long time ago.

“You are not to blame for this, Harry. You couldn’t have known he was ill.” As ever, Tony’s warm affection shone through, as well as his superb people-reading skills.

But Harry wasn’t sure that he wasn’t to blame. He’d spent so long getting everything in place, and indulged his own selfish desires in the meantime. Draco had been in his thoughts every single day, but he could never have imagined what he would find today.

Before Harry could verbalise his guilt, Draco began to rouse. Tony summoned a House Elf who refreshed the tea and brought a plate of ginger snaps, in case the potion had unsettled Draco’s stomach.

Harry watched worriedly, as Malfoy accepted the tea but refused the biscuits. It was obvious he hadn’t been eating well and Harry wanted to know why that was, alongside wondering why his notoriously vain and fashion conscious friend was wearing a shirt with frayed cuffs and an off-the-peg Muggle suit.

After a few minutes Draco seemed to be fully awake, and Harry was glad to notice that his breathing was much easier.

“Will you tell me what happened?” Harry asked gently.

He thought at first that the man on the couch wasn’t going to answer. He noticed Tony getting up to leave the room, obviously concerned that his presence might make Draco reticent. But the movement made Draco look up at Tony and he shook his head.

“You can stay. It’s ugly but if you’ve known Harry for a while then you won’t be shocked by the details.”

Tony flicked a knowing glance at Harry, who smiled sadly. He sank back down into the armchair and nodded encouragingly.

“When the final battle was over everyone was exhausted. I’ve never seen so much devastation as in the Great Hall that evening. There were so many dead on both sides – the youngest were only third or fourth years. Of course like the cockroach he was my father had survived and had fled the scene moments after you despatched his Lord.”

Draco looked down into his teacup and then smiled softly as Harry cast a wordless, non-verbal heating charm on the contents.

“Maman and I were in the corridor outside the Hall when the Aurors arrived…”

“Your family were French? Tony interrupted.

“Well yes, originally. Maman and Papa were father’s affectation. He thought it added class to our family, although our name had been anglicized centuries before. We were originally the house of Malfoi – which translates as Bad Faith ironically enough.”

Tony snorted and received a real Malfoy glare for his cheek. Harry was overjoyed to see a little bit of the boy he knew in the beaten down man in front of him.

Tony held up his hands. “Hey, I can’t talk. My family name is DiNozzo, which is a bastardisation of the nickname. Di Grande Naso – Big Nose. Whether that’s because they were busy bodies or just had massive conk’s we’ll never know.”

Draco gave the first full smile since Harry had entered his office hours earlier. Harry sent a silent blessing to Tony for being so good at setting people at ease.

“So the Aurors were on their way,” he prompted.

Draco’s face fell. “Mother was terrified. She had never agreed with Father’s involvement with the Death Eaters and Voldemort, but by the time she realised the danger we were in, it was too late – we couldn’t get away. Still, despite the fact that between us we’d brought the information about the final two Horcrux to Harry, she was convinced that we were both going to Azkaban.”

Harry was mortified. He had been almost comatose for nearly a month after the final battle. “By the time I came around in the Infirmary you were long gone – to France?”

“Yeah, Maman had a Portkey to a family chateau in the Loire Valley. It was unplottable and under Fidelius. She was the secret keeper and even Father didn’t know where it was.” Draco looked longingly at the bourbon bottle.

Tony gave him a mock sad face. “Sorry, sport. No can do. Not on top of that potion.”

Malfoy gave a small sigh and continued. “It was there that we heard the news about Sev.” Draco’s grey eyes became liquid with tears, which he made no attempt to wipe away. “He was more of a father to me than my own, and without his help, Dumbledore and the Order would never have known about the Horcrux at all. Harry would have faced that monster and even if he’d managed to kill the snake-faced bastard, he would have just come back again and again. And yet Severus was the one who died, and my double-crossing, self-serving wanker of a father survived the whole thing with nothing but a scratch and a few months in Azkaban.”

He turned to Harry and shook his head. “I know he was a right arse to you at school, but Severus Snape was so good to me. I know I would have been worn down by Lucius eventually if I hadn’t’ve had his support. I couldn’t even go to the funeral.”

“I did my best to get him the recognition he deserved. I’m just sorry it took so long. I’ll tell you why later, I promise, but I just want to hear the rest of your story. I’m guessing that no one has listened to you for a long time.”

Tony called for more tea and unobtrusively refreshed Draco’s cup while he continued.

“We stayed in the chateau for nearly a year and then I began to notice that I was finding it more and more difficult to do the simplest Magic. At first it was intermittent and I’d go for weeks without any problems. But then it became an everyday event. Mother seemed to be fine so it wasn’t anything at the house that was causing it. We put out some feelers through family friends who were loyal to Maman and eventually it became obvious that it was something to do with Lucius.”

“The Dark Mark.” Harry rubbed his hand across his face in frustration. He should have known.

“As you know all the surviving Death Eaters were affected by the disintegration of their family Magic as the Mark deteriorated. That resonated along family lines, causing problems with the family Magic we all shared. The clever ones signed their Lordship over to their unmarked heirs – Zabini, Crabbe, Parkinson, Nott; all of them took over the family names. But not my father.” Draco clenched his fist, the anger at his father’s vindictiveness still hot after over a decade.

“He died holding your family Magic?”

“Oh not just died, he killed himself.”

Tony sucked in a deep breath. “And your familial Magic exacted a price for that.”

Harry was horrified at the knowledge that he had been standing by while his…Draco had been suffering. The guilt was suffocating. “Draco…”

“Rather than just weakening me, the Magic began to leave me completely. I came back to Britain, hoping to find a way to appease the Malfoi Magics. I planned to hire curse breakers from Gringotts to work on the problem. But when I got here I found that Lucius’ vicious little scheme had not only taken my Magic from me, but had tied up the Malfoy money in iron clad trusts for the next 250 years. I was completely penniless. I couldn’t even enter Malfoy Manor and raise funds selling antiques and artefacts. He had made it unplottable and buried the location with the trust in our high security vault in Gringotts.”

“And your mother? Did she have no money, no way to help?” Harry was almost afraid to ask.

“She died three months after I came back. She never told me she’d been forced to take the mark. She was hiding her illness under glamour charms and using the House Elves to do Magic in her stead. And with her gone, the few French members of the family who were left turned their backs on me too.” He ran a shaking hand through his short hair.

Harry couldn’t help himself. He slid across onto the couch and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “We don’t have to finish this now…”

“No. There isn’t much more to tell. I had very little money left and I used what I did have to find my flat in Knockturn. They don’t ask too many questions there. I started to look for work, thinking that my Slytherin friends might be able to help me. Of course, being almost a squib made me useless to them and they were not very forthcoming with support.” He grimaced and rubbed the top of his arm, where Harry knew he had a small tattoo of the Slytherin crest. “House loyalty only works when your fellow Slyth’s get something out of it.”

“You’ve been at Mylkbred, Pattypants & Schleur for eleven years now.” Harry stated. He knew because he’d had his investigators looking for Draco as soon as he could, although it wasn’t as soon as he would have liked due to his own circumstances.

“Nearly twelve. Blaise finally came through for me, although I think it was more to stop me bothering him that through any feeling of concern. Of course the partners made sure I was kept aware of my lowly status; rules that were almost impossible to keep, wages that bordered on derisory and a distinct lack of job prospects. They insisted I couldn’t even wear Wizarding robes and bought Muggle suits, which were paid for out of my wages. At first I was so angry. I almost walked out nearly every day. But then I’d walk to my flat in the evening and see the whores out in the street…” He looked at Harry with such desolation in his eyes that Harry wanted to cry.

“And you knew that could be you.” Tony murmured, then Accioed a small glass and poured a single finger of bourbon into it. “Here, this won’t hurt. The most it will do is make you sleep and that wouldn’t be a bad thing. You look ready to sleep for a week.”

Draco lifted the liquor with trembling hands and took a gentile sip. His eyes closed in pleasure and Harry thought it must have been a very long time for him to savour such a rough and ready drink as if it were the finest Elven Wine.

“I’ve turned down the bed in the Blue bedroom, Boss,” Tony murmured as he gathered the tea things onto the tray and left the room. “See you in the morning.”

Harry turned and gazed at his friend. “It’s all over now, Dray. Tomorrow I’ll tell you my story and then we can make plans to change everything. We’re going to sort this out, I promise you.”

The other man smiled sadly, reached out and patted his hand. “You can’t solve everything, Harry. You can’t get my Magic back, and there is no way around the trusts that Lucius put in place, believe me I’ve looked for any loopholes and there are none. I have nothing…I am nothing anymore. I don’t even have a name. When you came into my office today and were so brilliantly obnoxious to Matilda, it was the first time I’d heard the name Malfoy used in relation to me since I returned to Britain.”

Harry hadn’t thought he could be more shocked, but he’d been wrong. While Draco hadn’t just been his family name, it had been an intrinsic part of who he projected to the world. Every memory Harry had treasured of his friend had been full of that spiky, Malfoy arrogance and assertiveness; the overriding confidence that came from the knowledge and surety of a thousand years of family history and Magic.

“What name have you been using?”

“Severin,” Draco smiled sadly. “In his memory.”

“He would have been proud to call you his son.” Harry said confidently, even surer now that his plans for the future were the right ones. “Come on, let’s get you to bed.”

He stood and offered his hand to Draco, who accepted it with a slight hesitation. There was a flicker of hope in his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and Harry thought that just the act of telling his story might have helped him a little. He only hoped that his own story would be enough to gain forgiveness for the time it had taken to bring Draco home.

He slid an arm around Mal…no Severin’s shoulders, and was once again shocked at how thin and frail he was. At least his breathing sounded clearer, but Harry was determined to get him healthy again.

For a moment, Draco seemed about to say something, but the silence stretched between them as they made their way upstairs. They stopped for a moment outside the Master suite.

“This is my room and you are just across the corridor. If you need anything during the night, even just to talk, then just call one of the House Elves…”

“I don’t have enough Magic, Harry. They won’t hear me.” Draco’s gaze flicked longingly at the doorway to the Master bedroom, before he shook his head almost imperceptibly.

Although he hadn’t used them for a long time, Harry’s Gryffindor tendencies leapt to the fore as he blurted out, “Would you like to sleep with me…just to sleep? It would make me feel better, and I’m more likely to get some sleep myself if I’m not getting up every five minutes to check you’re OK.”

Draco didn’t have to answer, the relief in his eyes was plain to see as Harry led him unresisting into the room.

*****

“What the fuck does that mean, ‘I died, Draco’.”

Draco would argue with his very last breath that he did not screech like a harpy, but the sheer horror of Harry’s throwaway comment about the hours before Voldemort’s death left him reeling.

The day had started with disappointment, when he woke alone in Harry’s bed. He barely remembered sliding between the crisp white sheets the night before, but recalled his hope for getting a little more intimately reacquainted with Harry as soon as he woke.

In the end though he realised that sleeping for 18 hours had done him more good than a little cuddling. After a marvellous brunch served by Tony, and as many cups of tea as he could drink, Harry had begun to fill him in on the last fourteen years. Some of it he already knew…The Horcrux hunt that had lasted a year; the help Draco and his mother had given when the Snatchers had caught Harry and Granger. He had been ambivalent that Harry had been the last one to see Sev alive – relieved that his godfather had seen a friendly face as he died, but saddened that it couldn’t have been him. He had an idea there was more to that part of the story, but he was willing to wait for Harry to finish his tale.

The next part had him teetering between outright rage and sick fascination, as Dumbledore’s machinations came to light and the horrific realisation that Harry too had been a Horcrux; had walked calmly to his death in order to save them all.

“You fucking stupid…Gryffindor bastard.” He spat out, which had Tony snorting and agreeing with him.

“I’ve heard it all before from him,” Harry said with resignation, hooking his thumb at Tony. “But actually it was probably the best thing that could have happened.”

Draco wanted nothing more than to argue that point, but when Harry held up a hand, he subsided.

“I ended up in what looked like Kings Cross – with the Hogwarts Express on the rails and an ugly grey homunculus mewling on the floor at my feet. At first I thought that was it – the next place, you know? I was ready to see my mom and dad, Sirius…maybe even Dumbledore. But instead there was a pop, and two House Elves appeared.”

“House Elves? Kings Cross? Merlin, Potter. How do you get in these weird situations?”

Harry shrugged, and sighed, “I have no idea. Anyway, I recognised one of them as Dobby, Lucius’s Elf who had died to save me during the hunt. The other was female. Dobby just grinned at me and didn’t say anything, which in itself was strange. The female walked up to me and clicked her fingers and there in her hand was a long dagger, with the strangest twisted Blade. Then she said, “The Fourth Hallow. When thy battle is over, thou willst know its purpose.

“The next thing I knew, I was on the forest floor with your Mother crouching over me, pronouncing me dead.”

Draco shook his head, totally mystified by the tale so far, but kept his counsel as it was obvious Harry had more to tell.

“Well you know what happened next. After the battle I was almost comatose with Magical exhaustion. Ron took me to the infirmary and I really knew nothing apart from the odd minute or two for the next month. When I woke properly I was at the Burrow, sleeping next to Ginny. And right then, it seemed like the most obvious and natural thing in the world.”

Draco could feel another screech building, and he beat it back as he ground out, “But you’re Gay, Harry. 150% queer. How could it feel at all natural?”

The idea that Harry had been lying to him; that the one pure memory that had been keeping him sane for the last 15 years was a lie, made Draco feel sick to his stomach.

Harry must have realised what was going through his mind as he quickly reassured him. “Oh believe me, I am. They’d been dosing me while I was asleep – drafts to keep me almost comatose; loyalty and love potions; casting complex behavioural hexes and memory charms. It took me till three months after the battle to fight through it all and by that time you were long gone to France – which I didn’t find out till much later – and I was bonded to Ginny who was nearly three months pregnant.”

His face was a picture of devastation, and Draco could only imagine what it must have been like to gradually come out of the fog of enchantment, to find you had been betrayed so completely by the people you thought were family. Raped and ensorcelled into bonding with someone he didn’t want. Draco reached out a hand and entangled their fingers, realising anything more would not be welcome right then.

Harry gave him a grateful smile and accepted the small glass of brandy that Tony pressed into his free hand. After taking a small sip, he continued.

“I was devastated when I found out who we had lost during the final battle, but I couldn’t show it. It took nearly six months before my head was completely clear, and even though they continued to dose me, I was no longer affected. I wouldn’t find out why till much later. What I did find out was that they were all in on it – Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Molly of course. George was a shadow of his former self and just went along with everyone else. I didn’t find out about Arthur. He was so devastated by Fred’s loss that he dwindled into dementia, and Molly had him committed to the Janus Thickey Ward at Mungos. I like to think he wouldn’t have agreed to it, but I’ll never be really certain.”

Draco nodded his head in agreement. He’d met Mr Weasley on several occasions, and the man didn’t seem the type for subterfuge, but stranger things had happened.

“It was then that I suddenly received the knowledge about the Blade and its significance from Drizzle.”

“Hold on, wait, you have three children, don’t you? If you were no longer affected by the potions and hexes…” Draco needed to know. Why Harry had allowed the farce of his marriage to continue. Why he’d left Draco to languish for twelve years, without even a sign that he even knew he was back in Britain.

Harry looked down, his expression abjectly guilty. “I was being selfish. James was born before I found out you’d returned to Britain. It took a while to get any information about you and by then you’d got the job with Mylkbred, Pattypants & Schleur. They were a well-respected partnership and I thought you’d be safe and happy there until the time was right. I vow to you that I didn’t know what your father had done…Draco please believe me…”

Draco had to agree that from the outside it would have looked as if his life was going well. No one knew about his father’s actions, as the Goblins had all the trusts, etc. locked down tightly. He had deliberately kept his circumstances private from everyone apart from Blaise, as the shame of it was too much for him to bear. He let the little kernel of resentment go.

“I don’t blame you, Harry. There was no way you could have known.” He smiled sincerely at Harry

There was a silence that seemed to last a lifetime, before Harry raised his head again and nodded, but his eyes were suspiciously bright. He took a large gulp of Brandy before continuing.

“So I decided if Ginny wanted to be a mother, she could give me the three kids I’d always wanted. I used some quite nasty compulsion spells that bordered on Dark to get her to persuade her mother to let us move out and into Grimmauld Place. I didn’t want to live there; had no intention of raising my kids there either, but it was the perfect place to stash Ginny during her pregnancies. We had a baby every year for three years – James Sirius first, then Sebastian Severus and finally Lilly Aurora. They all had second names for the special people in my life.”

Harry looked over at Draco shyly. “Aurora means light.”

Realisation made Draco tremble. “My middle name…Lucien…”

Harry just nodded.

Draco felt a rush of pride. There was a little girl named for him – Harry’s girl. He let the pleasure of that knowledge settle before he could think of anything else. But he still had questions.

“What about the others in the family. How did you get away with disappearing the way you did? The Marriage was posted in the Prophet, but after that, nothing. It was only because I happened to catch sight of a parchment in Matilda’s office once that I even knew you had children. Surely Molly didn’t just let it happen?”

Harry’s smile was dark and filled with grim pleasure. “As far as Molly and the rest of them are concerned, neither of us ever existed. I found a ritual in the Black library, that allowed me to excise all knowledge of me and Ginny from their memories. And if someone mentions us, it acts like a sort of repelling spell. They immediately remember something else they should be doing and leave the conversation. It’s not permanent. I’ve Pensieved my memories of everything and when the next few days are over and done with, and all the pieces of the plan are in place, then they will get everything they deserve. Ginny is still stashed at Grimmauld, with no one for company but Old Lady Black’s portrait screeching morning, noon and night and Kreacher, who I ordered to call her Ginger Minger every time he addresses her.”

Draco’s vindictive heart liked that Ginny was still suffering. The plan sounded intriguing and he really wanted to hear about it, but there was still the matter of the last decade. “Why now? Why did you come for me now?”

He was a little embarrassed by how plaintive his question sounded and by the ‘And not before’, that was left hanging in the air, but that they all heard nonetheless.

“I wasn’t going to let my kids be raised by Elves or nannies. I never got to know my parents and I was treated badly by my Muggle caretakers. I quickly realised that I would need to be at home to raise them and that I would have to put the plan on the back burner until they were all at school. We’ve all lived in France for the last thirteen years until Lily joined her brothers at Beauxbatons this September, when Tony and I found this place and moved back to England.”

“Why not Hogwarts?”

Harry’s lip curled in a sneer. “That’s one of the things that will become obvious as the plan unfolds.”

It was obvious he wasn’t going to get anything else about that from Harry right then, so Draco dragged up his long forgotten Slytherin traits and put that away for a later date.

The soft dinging of the Floo chime broke the moment, and Tony left the room only to return a minute later.

“It’s Nev Shortarse. I think it might be important – he looks a little red faced and anxious.”

“Neville Longbottom always looks red faced and anxious, Tony, especially when you tease him and call him that ridiculous nick name. Sorry, I really do need to take this call.” Harry gave Draco a wink and shrugged his shoulder resignedly, before stepping away briskly into another room.

“Just where do you fit into all this,” Draco asked Tony, his curiosity diverted as his primary source of information left the room.”

“Oh I’ve known Harry for a long time. Since before he went to Hogwarts. I’ve been…a balance of sorts I suppose, especially in recent years. Now you’re here I doubt he’ll need me much longer. Listen carefully to what he tells you now, because believe me all the rest has just been background.”

For the first time, Tony’s face fell into a deadly serious expression. “The next part is the real crux of the matter. Be sure – please Draco – be very sure you can stay with him through all this, because he’s going to need you; to guide him, to temper him and to hold him when it all feels too much. If you can’t support him fully then you need to tell him. Don’t play games with this, it’s too dangerous, no matter how much you love him – and I know you do. You can be someone for him that I could never be, and without the influence of a true life partner, things in the future could go seriously FUBAR.”

Draco wasn’t sure what FUBAR was, but by Tony’s tone of voice it was obviously very bad. Before he could ask Harry was back in the room, his face flushed with what looked like triumph.

“He’s done it, finally. I was almost giving up on him making a decision.”

Tony nodded and smiled at his employer and friend, but Draco was confused and he wasn’t willing to be out of the loop for much longer.

“Look, I know this is all old hat to you, but damn it, Potter, you’ve been talking in riddles and half facts for a couple of hours now. I think it’s time you let me in on ‘The Plan’ – that is if you want me to consider being part of it.”

Draco did his best to keep his expression confident and challenging, but the old masks were difficult to find after so long, and he wasn’t sure he managed it.

Harry looked slightly shamefaced. “Yeah, you’re right, it’s time. The news that Neville gave me was the proverbial final ingredient in the potion. So first things first – we need to get you read-in to everything, Dray. Stand up, both of you.”

Tony shook his head. “You know I don’t get involved with this bit, Boss. I’ll be in my room watching a movie if you need me. Don’t go getting into any trouble.” He was up and out of the room in an almost run that had Draco feeling a little nervous about what was to come, but he gathered his nerve and decided to put his trust in Harry. He’d never failed him in the past, not knowingly.

With a negligent flick of his fingers Harry moved the furniture from the centre of the room, giving a clear area of about ten feet square. He held out a hand to Draco – who took it without demur, and pulled him into a space just to the right of Harry.

Moments later, Draco even with his negligible Magic, could feel a gathering of power coming from Potter. It was thrumming beneath their feet and began to fill his body with the kind of cold heat you got when you had spent too long outside on a sub-zero day with no warming charms… a feeling Draco knew only too well.

The building Magic seemed to grow stronger and stronger for hours, but it could have only been a few minutes before Harry clicked his fingers.

Instantaneously Harry was garbed from head to toe in sumptuous black velvet. In his left hand was a dagger, the black metal surface seeming to swallow all the light in the room. Over the same forearm was a shimmering cascade of fabric that seemed to appear and disappear as it fluttered in a non-existent breeze.

Draco was beginning to have an inkling about what these items could be, and his suspicions were fulfilled as a tarnished ring with a black stone materialized on Harry’s right forefinger, and a long wand of elder, that slapped into the same palm.

He had to swallow hard to get enough spit to speak. “The Deathly Hallows…They…they’re real…?”

Harry nodded. “The wand, ring and cloak are the ones everyone knows about from The Tale of the Three Brothers in Beedle the Bard. But the Black Blade was kept a secret by Death itself.”

He was so overwhelmed by the knowledge that the Hallows were real, that the pop of House Elf apparition made Draco almost jump out of his skin. The Elves that arrived were the strangest he’d ever seen, although one of them looked very familiar. “D…Dobby?”

“At your service my Lord Malfoy.”

Now Draco remembered the Elf had always been odd, but the fact that he was speaking perfectly well wasn’t the strangest thing. Both Elves were dressed in well-fitting clothes; Dobby in an approximation of an undertaker’s garb, complete with black frock coat and white frilled jabot; the female Elf in a sumptuous black moiré cloak and a silk velvet day dress, with a black wig, geisha style, perched on her large round head.

“This is Dobby as you know – now known as Dobby De’Ath – and his mate Drizzle De’Ath.” Harry introduced.

“But you said Dobby died…you buried him at…”

“Shell Cottage, yes I did. But when I got to Kings Cross after Tom Riddle killed me, these two were waiting for me.” He looked down at the two Elves with such warm affection that Draco had to smile. Only Potter could form close bonds with creatures whose race was maligned and disregarded by most of ‘polite’ pure-blood society. Moments later the implication of what Harry had said finally sank in.

“Are they…” He looked down at Dobby. “Are you dead?”

“I was…and still am I suppose, although…” Dobby looked at Harry for an explanation.

“He is now the personal Elf of the Master of Death…Me. As such he isn’t either dead or alive. He simply is.”

Draco’s frown had got deeper and deeper as the explanation went on. “He just is? What kind of explanation is that?” he snapped, feeling out of his depth at the flood of revelations.

Harry sighed. “It took me a while to get my head around it too, Dray. Let me explain what this is all about and perhaps it will make more sense.”

He really wasn’t sure it would, but Draco nodded his assent, hoping he would be able to catch up to his rapidly spinning world soon.

“So the purpose of the Hallows is well known, most of the story in Beedle is true. The Blade however has always been Death’s own secret. Only when the Hallows were collected by one person – who would then be the Master of Death – would that secret be told.”

The Blade seemed to get more sinister as Harry rolled it in his palm. Its twisted Blade pulled the eye, never managing to begin or end, and billowing mist was seemingly trapped in the whorls.

“I think a demonstration would be the easiest way to explain.” Harry looked around the room, and then pointed out a rather sad, wizened up house plant, that had obviously died many weeks before. Why it had not been removed by the House Elves or by Tony, Draco couldn’t imagine.

Harry lifted the Blade, wielding it like a wand and seemed about to cast when the female Elf, Drizzle, tugged on Harry’s trouser leg.

“Master Lord. Hast thou forgotten – Thy consort must be protected.” Her voice was soft and deep, not at all like the Elves Draco had known all his life. He was trying hard not to read too much into the use of the word ‘Consort’, knowing it could just be allied to her strangely arcane speech pattern, but deep down he hoped it wasn’t.

Her Lord however looked abashed by her softly spoken rebuke. “Ah, yes Drizzle. You’re correct, thank you.”

Like a nervous groom on his wedding day, Harry frantically rifled through the pockets of his coat, finally finding what he was looking for in his breast pocket. With a shy smile he held it out to Draco.

“This is the Dragon Ring…Yeah, I know, but it’s just a coincidence.” He commented as Draco took it from him with a look of surprise.

The metal of the ring was as flat black as the Blade, but was chased with silver dragons, that undulated around the entire circumference. He rolled it between his fingers, marvelling at the intricacy of the craftsmanship.

“Where we are going…It’s Deaths realm. As Master of Death it holds no dangers for me, and Dobby and Drizzle are from there. This will protect you and prevent you from being trapped there.”

Draco felt the blood leave his face, as a frisson of fear trickled ice cold down his spine. He relaxed a little as he felt Harry’s arm move around his waist and he couldn’t help leaning in to the remembered warmth and comfort.

“I promise, Dray, please trust me. If you wear this, there is nothing to worry about.”

And there was no further thought necessary. As Draco slipped the ring onto his right ring finger, he knew he would always trust Harry, for good or ill. He’d always known it was his destiny to follow the man wherever he led – even into Death’s realm it seemed.

Grinning happily, Potter pulled Draco to stand in front of him, with Harry’s strong arm encircling his waist. Then once again he wielded the Blade, only this time there was no interruption. With a crackle of Magic and a surge of power, a rent appeared at the tip of the Blade, slicing into the air in front of them and opening a tear, which showed an inky blackness beyond. Soon the opening was as tall as Draco and wide enough to step through.

Draco found himself holding his breath. Surely Harry didn’t mean them to step into this Cimmerian shade and plunge into the Netherworld.

“Now just remember that plant, Draco. Don’t forget to breathe,” Harry murmured in his ear.

In the darkness in front of them, an image began to shimmer into being. It took a few moments to form, but Draco could soon see it was the very room they were standing in…only not. The plant in question, rather than being dried up and completely dead, was now merely sickly looking, its leaves curling and turning brown as they watched. Time seemed to be moving in fast motion, the light in the room cycling in and out, through night and day, until the moment where the plant was on the verge of death. Harry stabbed the Blade into the gap it had made, and the movement stopped.

With a little nudge, Harry prompted Draco to step forward, which he did, albeit a little reluctantly. It was with some relief that he realised the few steps it took to enter the…new dimension, he supposed…and stand in front of the plant, made no difference to his physical being. He was the same temperature, the air smelled just the same, he could breathe freely, and Harry’s firm body at his back offered a constant guarantee of safety and comfort.

“Now watch,” Harry prompted. With another of his seemingly effortless feats of wandless, non-verbal Magic, he cast Aguamenti, soaking the soil the plant was rooted in for nearly a minute. Then he Transfigured an open-ended glass bulb from one of the leaves and pressed it into the soil, before filling it with water. The plant seemed to have already appreciated the life-giving attention, as the leaves seemed less curled than they had only seconds before.

Moments later they were back outside the strange rend in space, and Harry was closing it with a complex flourish of the Black Blade. The original room came back into focus and Draco had to close his eyes for a moment against a wave of disorientation.

“It’s OK. Each time you do it, it will get easier,” Harry promised quietly. “Now look!”

Draco opened his eyes and followed Harry’s pointed finger. Where the plant had originally been, dried up and long dead, it was now lush and green, with star shaped white flowers in full bloom all over it and a glass bulb pressed into the soil. He shook his head, trying to understand what he had seen.

Harry seemed to understand his confusion. Handing the Hallows to the silent Elves, he quickly put the room to rights and pulled Draco down on the couch next to him.

“I can go to any point in the past where death has occurred and change it; either hasten, slow down or prevent it all together. There are some rules…”

He glanced ruefully over at Dobby and Drizzle who were glaring at him with narrowed eyes.

“…which we can talk about, and I can’t affect the future. But Draco, we can change things, without affecting the timeline. The Blade allows me to prevent a death for example and place that person back in our time, without it having an adverse effect and without anyone, outside us knowing it has happened. Even the person we save can be aware if we wish it.”

The implication hit Draco hard, and he began to shake with reaction causing Harry to slide closer to him and pull him into a firm hug.

“S…Sev…” Draco said brokenly. “We can save Severus?”

“Yeah!” Harry agreed, grinning brightly. “That is part of the plan, definitely. But first…”

Draco sucked in a shocked breath as Harry grasped his hand and placed a gentle kiss on the palm.

“…First we’re going to pay your father a little visit.”

“My father? Lucius…?” Draco was completely bewildered, still stuck between the knowledge that they could save his godfather and the tingling of that kiss on his palm. “…but he’s…what…why…?”

“We’re going to get your Magic back…that and your money and title, Lord Malfoy.” Harry’s eyes were bright with excitement. “And that’s just the start of what we’re going to do…”

*****

“So when are you going to tell him?”

Harry nearly jumped out of his skin. Living in France, where he didn’t have to watch his back 24 hours a day, coupled with residing in his own house behind Goblin War Wards, had meant his situational awareness had been dialled right back.

Tony on the other hand, was always in stealth mode. The man was a fucking Ninja. Given the right opportunity he could have crept up behind Voldie, tapped him on the shoulder, and scared the creepy bastard straight to hell. Harry was sorry he’d never thought of that.

“Tell him what?” He tried to be offhanded. This was a conversation he didn’t really want to have.

“You know what. The fact that you’ve put a ring on it, without asking the requisite question, maybe?”

Harry scrubbed at the back of his neck, and shrugged.

“Harry…”

With a sigh and one last, lingering look at the chaise, where Draco was sleeping peacefully, Harry turned and strode out of the sitting room and towards the kitchen. He busied himself preparing tea, not looking over at Tony. He could feel his friend’s eyes boring into him, using NCIS interrogation techniques on his back, as he sat at the big wooden farmhouse table in the centre of the bright airy room that was Tony’s domain.

Finally, after the kettle had boiled – the Muggle way – and the pot and biscuits were properly set on the tray with the maximum amount of fussing, he reluctantly joined his best friend and butler at the table and prepared to meet his nemesis.

There was never any chance of keeping a secret from DiNozzo. He was just that good.

“When, Harry?” Tony’s voice was even, without a hint of censure, but the concern was evident.

Harry huffed in frustration. “When we’ve got his Magic, and title, and Merlin bedamned money sorted out, OK? I was too tired after the demonstration to be able use the Blade to deal with Lucius immediately, and from the way Draco stumbled to the chaise, he needed the rest too. He’s had so much to deal with in the last few hours, T…”

Tony rested his elbows on the table, and his chin on his hands, in a pose that would have Drizzle sending Stinging Hexes at him if she’d seen it. “I understand all that, Har. But you’ve got to see that starting your relationship again with a lie…”

“It’s not a lie! The ring does exactly what I said it does.” The teaspoon he’d been stirring listlessly in his tea clattered down on his saucer with some violence.

“And it’s also a betrothal ring for the Potter-Black-De’Ath family. You asked him to trust you, Harry. Telling him half-truths is not the way to continue that trust. The longer you leave it…”

Potter knew all that. Trouble was, his guilt was eating away at him. He’d left the love of his life to rot – living a half-life with hardly any Magic, terrible health and living conditions he wouldn’t wish on the Dursley’s. While all the time he was enjoying his fatherhood in luxury in France. Why Draco didn’t hate him was anybody’s guess, and the possibility that Draco might realise how badly Harry had messed up scared the fuck out of him. And he didn’t cope well with being afraid.

Well fuck Tony for bringing his insecurities raging to the fore. He felt the rush of Dark Magic, as his fear fed his temper to an inferno.

“You don’t get to lecture me, DiNozzo. Just because you were shit scared…Just because you left it too late to tell the almighty fucking Gibbs that you loved him. Just because you sat back and did nothing as you watched him sail into the sunset with your ex-boss, when he’d strung you along with Rule Fucking Twelve for ten years, doesn’t mean I’m going to make the same stupid mistakes…”

Tony’s face went parchment white as he stood suddenly, his chair falling backwards and clattering on the flagstone floor. He executed a perfect bow, befitting his nominal position and Harry’s station, before he murmured, “I’ll be in my room if you require anything, My Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath. If you will excuse me.”

He was out of the room before Harry could even form an apology, so he just stared at the kitchen door as it closed with a soft click that might as well have been a thunderclap.

“You’d better fix that – and soon,” a quiet voice came from the vicinity of his knee. He looked down, to see Dobby, as formally dressed as ever, giving him the most disdainful glare. “Or my lady Drizzle will be very, very, VERY angry.”

Harry slumped down with his head cradled in his hands.

“I know, I know. I lost my fucking temper. I’m a horrible person and a crappy friend.”

Dobby patted him on the knee and then righted Tony’s chair before hopping up on it.

“You are neither of those things, Master Lord. You are just afraid of losing your Dragon. But you should be also afraid of losing your Tony too. I came as soon as I felt your power begin to rise. You know what would happen if it went unchecked. Mr Tony has been your balance for a long time now, and Mr Draco is not yet prepared to take up that role in your life.”

Potter gave a miserable nod, scrubbing at remorseful tears before they could roll down his cheeks. “I know, Dobby. I just feel so fucking guilty that I was so happy while Draco was so miserable. I did to him what the adults in my life did to me when I was at the Dursley’s; I made assumptions based on very little evidence and my own selfish needs.”

“Be that as it may, Master Lord Harry, but Mr Tony doesn’t deserve to be your whipping boy. You have much terrible power, and if you are to stay away from walking the edge of the Darkness, you must accept advice.”

Dobby slipped off the chair and with a click of his fingers there was a steaming pot of tea, and a plate with fresh cream chocolate eclairs sitting in the middle of the table.

Harry was about to refuse his favourite cakes, feeling he didn’t deserve them, when a rather adorable, sleep mussed Draco walked through the kitchen door.

“Heard a bang,” he said huskily. “Woke me up.”

“Yeah that was my fault,” Harry said sheepishly. “I forgot the rules.”

Draco’s eyes lit with interest. “Yes, you said there were rules.”

Harry knew he’d walked right into this conversation, and despite his fight with Tony, he still wasn’t ready to tell Draco everything – especially about the ring. But there were some things he did need to know before they bearded the vicious snake that was Lucius Malfoy in his den, and secured Draco his just desserts and revenge. He began to pour the other man a cup of tea as he thought about the rules that really mattered.

“Rule number one – and the most important rule – is that I can’t change anything in my own life.”

Draco frowned. “But if you change things for me, that will change your life.”

Harry shook his head. “No, that didn’t come out right. I can’t change any death that has affected my life.” He dumped three sugar lumps in Draco’s tea and pushed it across the table. “So I can’t save my parents or Sirius for example.”

“But why?”

“I’m not sure I understand it completely. Drizzle is the one who knows the why’s and wherefores, but I’m afraid she can be a little difficult to follow at times. The way I see it…if I for example saved my parents, then maybe later in my life, I wouldn’t have been in a position to find the ring, or to win the Elder Wand. Which in turn would mean I wouldn’t become the Master of Death, so no Black Blade, so I couldn’t save them…” He winced. The whole thing made his head ache.

“OK, so it’s like that Muggle story where treading on a butterfly in the past would make the world different, only this time it just affects you.” Draco asked casually, as he genteelly picked out the largest éclair from the plate.

Harry could feel the shock as it moved across his expression. “When did you read Muggle writers?”

Draco pushed the plate away from him a little sharply. “Maybe when I had no money for books, so I had to join the Muggle library.”

There was a moment of charged silence before they both said, ‘I’m sorry’, in unison. They laughed aloud at the coincidence and once Draco had picked up his fork and cut into his pastry, Harry felt he could carry on.

“Regardless of the reason, it is the only major rule. So if someone living…or dying… will directly affect the progression of my life, then it’s a no-go.”

He paused a moment and waited until Draco nodded his understanding. It had been a difficult one for Harry to come to terms with, but Drizzle had given him an object lesson he had never forgotten, and he accepted the necessity of the rule.

“The other most important rule is that we can’t go forward – because obviously the death hasn’t happened yet, so I wouldn’t know where to go.”

“So as much as you might want to make sure Molly Weasley has the worst experience of death ever…”

“I can’t make it happen…yet.” Harry’s smile became feral. “However, when she eventually does shuffle of this mortal coil…”

“Then all bets are off,” Draco finished with a satisfied nod.

“Weeelll,” Harry demurred. “As great as it would be to see her get her just desserts, I actually I try hard not to use the Blade solely to exact revenge. I genuinely do want to make the Wizarding World a better place.

“Immediately after the war people were full of idealism and there were many excellent ideas put forward – about creature rights; education; protection of our way of life and culture. However, things have once again become stale – and many of the Wizengamot are mere puppets, helped along by a few people pulling strings in the background. It’s beginning to feel like déjà vu, only there isn’t a Dark Lord to take advantage of the mess we’re in…not that I’m aware of anyway.”

Harry could see Draco’s interest was piqued, but he didn’t want to get too deeply into ‘The Plan’ quite yet, both for logistical and personal reasons.

“Suffice to say in order to make that change we need to use all our Slytherin cunning and Gryffindor courage, which I sure you are horrified to hear me say, I believe we both have in spades.”

Draco cupped his ear and mimed listening to something.

“And there it is…the sound of my dearly maligned and much unlamented father gnashing his teeth, while rolling bodily in his white marble mausoleum.”

Harry snorted and then Draco giggled, and moments later they were both laughing uncontrollably. As the tears rolled unchecked down their cheeks, the release of tension was such a relief for Harry that he felt the muscles in his back relax for the first time in the last few days.

When they eventually subsided, they both tucked into their cream tea, chatting about anything but the changes they were about to make. It was obvious that Draco was both excited and afraid of what was going to happen, and Harry was happy to let him pull them into less serious conversation.

As they talked about their lives up to the last ten years, Harry couldn’t help hoping for many more tea times in the future, and his thoughts quickly moved to fantasies of Draco and his kids all sharing meals around the table. He knew he was probably getting ahead of himself, but it was what he’d wanted for so long, it was difficult not to live in hope.

Soon they were stuffed, and Harry knew he had to talk to Tony before too much more time went by. He knew better than to chase him after a disagreement; usually Tony would come to him and offer to cook Italian for dinner, or invite him to Muggle London to see a film. This time though, he had thrown the lowest of low blows at his friend and it was on Harry to make amends as soon as possible.

“Why don’t you have a shower, and get changed. I had my Valet Elf put out some of my clothes for you, appropriate to the job. If you let me know when you’re ready, I’ll have Dobby come up and resize them for you.”

He reached out and squeezed Draco’s hand, wanting to lessen the pain that having next to no Magic obviously caused his friend. He was gratified when his touch was welcomed, and echoed with the pressure of Draco’s own.

Dobby appeared with a pop as his name was mentioned. “While Master Dragon is wearing the Dragon Ring, I am able to hear him if he needs me, Master Lord.” The Elf grinned at Draco, his big eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Thank you, Dobby.” Draco’s expression was a mixture of surprise and gratitude. “Are you…?” he looked at Harry and then hopefully at the door.

“Not this time,” Harry said regretfully, hoping that Draco would understand. “I have a few things I have to do, and I don’t want to make you wait any longer than I have to before we get you your birthright back.”

There was a little flash of disappointment in Draco’s silver-grey eyes, but he smiled as he stood. Harry’s hand was still grasped tightly, and he was dragged into a hug. The feel of Draco’s body against him was both a joy and a sorrow, as he breathed in the familiar scent of his love, while hating that there were more than a few bones easily felt even beneath his clothes. The sadness was quickly replaced by warmth as Draco turned his head and placed a gentle kiss under his jawline.

“I’ll hold you to that ‘later’, Lord Potter-Black.”

“Soon, Lord Malfoy,” he promised huskily.

*****

The ceiling of his suite of rooms was painted a beautiful Cornish cream. There were no cracks, no stains, no unusual features of any sort at all, and right at that moment, Tony wished there were. Anything to distract him from the whirl of thoughts and emotions that were careering around his brain.

When he’d first got back to his room, all he wanted was to be back at NCIS, where there was always someone available to spar with. He was angry and he wanted to beat something – preferably a black haired, green eyed something called Potter!

Now though, just an hour later, he had to admit that Harry was right. Some of his concerns about Draco and the ring, had come from a realisation that he’d fucked up big time with Gibbs. He’d allowed himself to live in a fantasy world, where the other man was as interested in him as he was in the Marine; where they were exclusive; where rule #12 was just an excuse Jethro used to keep other people at bay.

Instead he’d got the reality, where Gibbs was just using him as a fuck-buddy until he retired; when he kicked Tony to the kerb and literally sailed off to the Caribbean with Jenny ‘bitch-face’ Shepard, and then six months after that made her Mrs LJ Gibbs #5.

And then Harry had come along and saved him from following his dad down a path of alcoholism and the Dark Magic. Not many people knew that Senior had been an unmarked Death Eater, who throughout the second war was trying to drum up support for Voldemort in the US. It was part of the reason Tony had suppressed his Magic for so long; why he had retreated to the Muggle world as soon as he was of age, as far away from Magic as he could possibly get.

Harry had been in his life since the kid was nine years old. DiNozzo was in his first few months at NIS and in the middle of chasing a Marine halfway around the world. He got a GSW in the thigh for his pains, and ended up in the ER of a small NHS hospital in Surrey. They got him on IV antibiotics before he could argue, so he’d agreed to stay overnight.

He could still remember the scrawny little urchin completely drowned by his hospital gown, who had the brightest green eyes he’d ever seen, as he crawled under the cubicle curtain and hopped up onto the chair next to Tony’s bed.

“Why don’t you make it better?” the kid whispered.

“I’m a cop…a policeman. I got shot by a gun, shortstop. You have to give it time to heal up, and they are worried about it getting infected, so they are giving me some medicine.”

It didn’t matter what people said later, he knew he was good with kids – hell he was one himself. It was just that when you worked with Gibbs, who had this Jedi-mentor thing going on, it was easier just to leave it all to him.

“But you could use your powers.”

There was a childlike certainty in the little boy’s eyes that made Tony think this wasn’t just about him being superman because he was a cop. So he carefully, and unobtrusively as possible, shored up his Occlumency shields. He wasn’t sure if an adult could be Polyjuiced as a kid, but he wasn’t going to take any chances, especially when the nearest thing he had to his Redwood and Coyote whisker wand was an IV stand. They’d even taken his Sig from him and locked it up – damn British gun regulation.

“I had a broken leg. But I mended it in Uncle Vernon’s car. He didn’t want to bring me, but Aunt Petunia…” The child seemed to think he was saying too much and slapped a trembling hand over his mouth.

“Do your Aunt and Uncle know you can mend a broken leg?” Tony asked carefully.

The green eyes became impossibly wider as he shook his head. He began to whisper and Tony had to dip his head to hear him.

“Only freaks can do things like that. I thought it might be M. A. G. I. C. but I know it can’t be really. But then I saw you, and you have the same colour light as me. So I thought you must be able to mend yourself.”

‘He’s seeing my aura’, Tony thought in amazement. That a tiny Magical child with mage sight, was being treated in a Muggle hospital, began to make all DiNozzo’s investigator senses tingle.

“Do you use your powers often?”

A solemn head nod was all the answer he needed. There was something seriously hinkey about this situation and, living in the Muggle world or not, Tony was not about to turn his back on this little Wizard.

“What’s your name, kid?”

The child didn’t answer, obviously worried about giving out too much personal information. Tony knew he’d have to make the first move.

“My name’s Tony DiNozzo. I live in America usually, but I’m here in Surrey chasing a bad guy.”

“I’m Harry.” He bit his lip for a moment, and then said. “What did the man do that was bad? Did he steal the food from his family’s table, or taint his cousin with his freakish ways?”

The bells were becoming sirens and Tony was determined to find out as much as possible so that he could make sure the kid was safe and well before he left the UK.

“No, he just stole some money from the Navy.”

DiNozzo reached to the table over his bed and grabbed the plastic wrapped cookies that had come with his seriously awful meal. He tore the packaging and offered the two cheap biscuits to Harry. The awestruck way the kid looked at them told Tony more than any words could. It took a moment or two for Harry to decide it was alright to take the offered treat, but Tony was patient and waited him out until he got up the confidence.

“Can I eat them?”

Tony wanted to cry. This was so fucking wrong. He just nodded and forced a smile as Harry nibbled on the edge of the oatmeal cookie, savouring every crumb.

“The bad man – did you catch him?” The kid went wide-eyed when Tony said yes. “What will happen to him. Will he get hit with the frying pan and put in his cupboard with no food for a few days?”

There was a beat of time where Tony’s anger must have shown on his face, as Harry pressed himself back into the chair and went very still. Tony made himself relax, gave no fast moves, just centred himself with a couple of slow breath’s and closed his eyes for a moment.

When he opened them again the kid was gone, with only one complete and one quarter eaten cookie left on the seat of the chair. He wanted to yell out his frustration, but didn’t want to scare Harry any more if he was just hiding on the other side of the curtain.

Tony opened his eyes and looked at the Cornish cream ceiling. There was a slight noise by the door and he turned his head to see the same deep green eyes that had haunted his dreams for the next ten years.

“Where were you?” Harry asked, hesitantly. “Only I’ve been here a few minutes and you didn’t even notice.”

Tony didn’t say anything, just reached into the drawer of his bedside table and pulled out the one serving pack of biscuits he always felt compelled to keep there. Harry’s eyes filled with tears, and it only took a moment before Tony was sliding across to the right side of the bed and patting the place he had just vacated. Harry joined him on the bed, and despite being full with tea and eclairs, he opened the cookies and began to nibble the edges.

“It was the first biscuit I’d ever tasted.”

Tony nodded. They’d talked about their first meeting many times since.

“I’m sorry, T. You were right. I’m just feeling so fucking guilty – not that that is any excuse. You didn’t deserve me dragging up that bastard and throwing him in your face.”

“You’re not wrong though, I did fuck up. Not because I didn’t tell him how I felt – Fuck he would have just laughed in my face. No, it was because I made it all about him; how he felt; making sure he was OK; sticking to his rules. I need to find someone who’ll make me the centre of their world.” Tony sighed and rubbed at burning eyes. “I have to let him go, Har. It’s just so difficult.”

Harry reached over and grabbed Tony’s shoulder, pulling him in to his side and hugging him hard. “You’ll see. We’re going to find you someone who will see just how awesome you are, OK?”

They lay there for a few minutes before Harry said quietly. “Do you forgive me?”

There was no question that he did, so Tony just lifted his head and grinned. The look of relief on Harry’s face told him that the other man had punished himself far more than Tony ever would have. But while Harry was in his debt, there was one thing he wanted to know…

“You’ve always said you found me by accident after the war. I’ve never pushed you about it, but that’s not true is it?”

Harry looked away from Tony and began tracing the pattern on the counterpane with a fingertip. “Right from that night at the hospital, I’d thought about you nearly every day. For a while I even thought you might come and save me.” He blushed and looked a little embarrassed.

“I did try, Harry. For the week I was in the UK and then for months once I got back to the States.”

“I know you did. But Vernon and Petunia were too good at covering their tracks, particularly with the authorities. It was part of the reason I didn’t know my family name. I would be too easy to track – especially in the Wizarding World.”

For a moment a dark anger passed over Harry’s expression but it quickly passed. “Once I became lucid again after my enforced ‘coma’, I was in Busybodies Newsagent’s on the Alley and happened to see a report in the Long Island Oracle, about the arrest of one Anthony DiNozzo Snr on suspicion of bankrolling Voldemort’s recruitment in the US. It was too much of a coincidence. I knew that the report couldn’t be about you – he was too old, and I was sure my hero would have never been involved with the Dark Lord. But I was able to use it as a starting point. I used my influence to get hold of the arrest warrant, and it was only a few steps to follow you from school, through Peoria to Baltimore, and then Washington and NCIS.”

Tony couldn’t help his wide grin. “You followed the evidence, Lord Investigative Agent. You make me proud. But why have you always been loath to tell me?”

“Because I was always scared you’d be angry with me…You worked so hard to leave your father and the Wizarding World behind, and then along comes the bloody Chosen One and drags you right back in. Not just that, but you had a good job, and people around you. I came and steamrollered you into working for me and my kids, in a place where you didn’t even speak the language at first. You’re a brilliant Major-domo Tony, but you were an exemplary cop. I needed you and I really didn’t let you say no.”

“I’m glad you didn’t. Without this job offer, I would have drunk myself to death, or eaten my gun a long time ago. You saved my life, Harry.”

“Well Draco always said I have a ‘saving people thing’.” Then Harry grinned, and Tony knew they were back on track as friends, with no more secrets between them.

“So when are you going to tell him?”

A flying pillow was Tony’s answer.

*****

The sitting room was again the starting point for their adventure, and Draco was almost vibrating with anxiety.

“What if it doesn’t work.”

“It’ll work, Dragon. This won’t be the first time I’ve done this, remember.”

The reassurance was gratefully received and Draco watched as Harry cleared the room. Finally, the space was ready and Draco felt the subtle building of power. It was less than a minute before Harry stood in front of him, garbed in fine black velvet, the Hallows in his hands.

“Right first things first.”

Draco gasped in horror as Harry used the tip of the Blade to cut the Invisibility Cloak in half from top to bottom. Somehow the two pieces were identical to the original, although Harry hadn’t cast a duplication spell. With a bow, Potter held out one of the cloaks to him.

“What the fuck, Potter. You just destroyed one of the most mythical Magical artefacts known to Wizardkind.”

Harry simply grinned and Draco began to consider whether he could get away with punching the Master of Death in the gob.

“Stop worrying, Dray. Watch…”

With a flourish Harry flicked the two halves of the cloak into the air with a variant of the Levicorpus spell, so that they hung side by side. Then with a swish of the Elder Wand and a hiss of Parseltongue the two pieces zipped together as if they had never been apart. Although Draco knew there were Magical means to mend rips and tears, they were rarely totally successful and the mended garment often had a weakness along the join. This was not so for the cloak. There was no sign that it had ever been anything other than whole. Draco just shrugged his shoulders and decided not to fight the fact that Harry was the Master Of Doing Anything Out Of The Ordinary, as well as the Master of Death And Lord of the Black Blade.

Soon there were two cloaks again and Draco was marvelling as the silky material slid through his fingers like water.

“Right. We’re going to lead him a merry dance before he dies and we don’t want to give him a chance to change his mind about anything, otherwise we’ll just have to go back and do it all again.” Harry began.

“I don’t want to have to spend any more time near him than I have to thank you,” Draco snapped.

“So therefore, we don’t want him to see us, so we’ll wear the cloaks the whole time. Follow my lead and then enjoy yourself.”

There was a moment when Draco felt eleven years old again, plotting some madcap adventure with Nott and Zabini. That the next 30 minutes or so would erase the last few painful years and change the rest of his life was just too nerve-wracking. So he decided to treat it like a prank and enjoy it.

The tear the Blade made in the air was just as awe inspiring as it was the first time. Harry had taken a memory of Lucius’ study from Draco’s mind so they could break through at the right place. Unfortunately, it was from a time when Voldemort was in residence, as that was the last time Draco had been in the manor. Harry had told him to close his eyes if it was too distressing, but Draco was not a coward.

They watched as time speeded forward, the movement of people and Elves through the room almost a blur as Harry pushed his Magic into the time pocket. More through luck than anything else, there was a self-updating calendar on the huge ebony desk. Harry speeded up and slowed down at regular interval, only once or twice catching sight of a black robe, and the flash of a white face that might have been Voldemort. But it was there and gone too quickly to be disturbing and finally, the calendar showed they were close to the date of Lucius’ death.

They waited for a moment until the room was quiet and dark, before stepping through. Although the cloak made them completely invisible to outside eyes, they were still able to see each other. Drizzle had explained that it was because the cloak wasn’t actually split, it was just in two different times…at the same time. Draco thought Drizzle was either a genius or completely off her rocker.

Whichever it was, the whole time thing just gave him a migraine, so he decided he would just go with it and not question her ever again.

Harry pointed the Blade at the calendar and hissed out a long phrase. The dates flicked over all in a rush before the sun rose and set on the day Draco’s Magical life had ended over thirteen years earlier. His heart jumped into his throat as the door to the study opened and there in the doorway was his father.

The man was thinner than he’d ever been, his hair still pale, but littered with lank silver strands. Draco recognised that look – the look of a man who had been stooped over a cauldron for hours.

‘Soon, Sev’, he thought and then dragged his mind back to the job at hand.

Lucius clutched a vial in his hand that contained a trace of an acid yellow potion. Draco found himself wondering just what means his father had chosen to end his life. He knew it wouldn’t be painful; the man was a coward when it came to his own pain, after all. His father rounded the desk and opened a drawer, pulling out a sheaf of papers and a framed picture.

With a start, Draco realised the photo was of him and his mother. They were both smiling and waving at the camera and Lucius sneered back at the tiny figures.

“Now my dearest family. This is what is going to happen. I have ingested the Requiem in Bonum Potion…”

Draco had to bite his hand to stop from snorting. That his father thought it apposite that he should take a potion called ‘Eternal Rest for the Good’ to kill himself was nothing more than a joke. He looked across at Harry, who had a totally gobsmacked expression on his face. Potter twirled a finger at his temple and Draco had to bite harder to stop from out and out laughing.

“…which will take me from this life in five to seven minutes’ time. Meanwhile I’m going to sign away your inheritance, my dear son. The loss of your title, your money and your Magic will be a less than adequate punishment for your betrayal of the Malfoy name, but I will die knowing that I struck a blow for those of pure and noble birth. Maybe in 250 years time, the ancient name of Malfoi will once again mean something in the Wizarding World.”

Draco was pleased to see that his father’s hand was shaking as he reached across the desk and began to separate the documents into three piles. He then took a beautiful white peacock feather quill, that Draco had always secretly coveted, and dipped it into the inkwell.

For a moment he thought Harry wasn’t going to act, and a small voice in the back of his head shouted at him that he had been tricked and betrayed. But before panic could set in, Harry slashed the Elder Wand horizontally across his body.

The sound his father made was music to Draco’s ears, as the papers wafted up in the air as if on a breeze, and floated all over the study. He caught movement to his left and found Harry there, pointing over to the door and then to him. Because he had no Magic, Draco wasn’t sure what Harry meant him to do, but then a second gust of air began to move the papers towards the study entrance and Draco understood. Trust Harry to find a way for him to be involved

He stepped quietly to the doorway and turned the big gold knob. The doors in the manor were all spelled to open and close silently, as Lucius detested even the faint click of the door latch, saying it disturbed his work. There had been many times in his teenage years when Draco had longed to slam a door really loudly, but had never had the opportunity.

He pushed the door open on its quiet hinges and Harry ushered the paperwork through the door, mixing it together in a little tornado of parchment.

Accio will! Accio financial trusts! Accio, ACCIO! Fucking ACCCCCCIIIIIOOOOO everything!”

Maybe it was the potion, or maybe the older man was really losing it, but the idea of a Wizard of his ability not realizing that Accioing ‘everything’ was not a good idea, was just too funny for words. Harry and Draco hung on to one another, biting on their fists, as first the inkwell, then the chair hit Lucius, quickly followed by the Chinese credenza and his heavy leather chair with the gold snake’s head’s on the arms.

“Finite!” he screamed just as a priceless Elven crystal vase flew up and hit him on the back of the head. He pitched forward with the force of it, and despite enjoying every minute, Draco winced at the sound of his father’s nose breaking as he hit the ground face first.

His Finite had stopped the flying objects but Harry used the distraction to blow every scrap of the parchment out of the room and along the corridor. Moments later, Lucius was climbing unsteadily to his feet, blood pouring from his, now less than patrician nose, and following the trail of documents, while lurching and listing slightly to one side.

Draco thought he must be starting to feel the effect of the potion. The whole point of Requiem in Bonum, was that it kept the person awake and aware until the very last minute of life. It was originally intended for use by those who had led good lives. The idea was that they would be surrounded by their family and friends, and were kept lucid in order to die seeing the faces of their loved ones around them. It also allowed them to speak their carefully scripted ‘Last Words’, for inscription in the Family Grimoire.

It really was a very narccistic potion and suited his father completely. Lucius would be awake until the very last second of his life. He had no doubt intended to use that time to gloat, albeit alone.

But the glorious Harry Potter-Black-De’Ath, Master of Death, Lord of the Black Blade was going to teach him differently.

Draco couldn’t wait.

The papers wafted their way to the top of the Grand Staircase. Lucius had often made his entrance down these very stairs; at the annual Malfoy Ball and parties; and more sinisterly, at Death Eater Revels, as he lorded it over everyone except Voldemort. Just before Malfoy senior reached the head of the stairs, Harry began to hiss in Parseltongue. Draco wasn’t sure what he was saying, he wasn’t using the wand so it could have been a nursery rhyme for all he knew. The effect on Lucius however was profound. He swung around, eyes wide with terror.

“Luccciussss. Issss thisss how you ssserve your Lord. Do you wisssshhh to sssever all tiesss to your name and the pureblood causssse.”

Oh this was priceless. Harry’s face was bright with malicious amusement as he continued to berate Lucius in a very fine approximation of the Dark Lord’s voice, while the Malfoy Lord’s eyes flitted around the hallway in terror, looking for Voldemort’s shade.

Draco really wanted to get in on the joke. Darting back along the corridor he turned into a small sitting room and found a heavy silk throw. He walked back along the marble floored corridor, dragging the cloth behind him. It slithered and scraped on the slick surface, just as Nagini’s scales had done all those horrific years ago. As was Draco’s intention this caused his father to tremble visibly.

Lucius was almost grey with fear. He was shaking so hard that the cane containing his wand fell from his hand and clattered down the stairs. The sound was so echoed so loudly in the cavernous great hall that it made Malfoy take a huge step back…

And straight down the stairs…

He bounced horrifically from side to side, his head thumping against the huge marble pilasters that made up the banisters. The whole journey from top to bottom – two hundred and eight stairs, Draco remembered, as he had counted them one wet winter evening when he was seven years old – took less than a minute; but oh what a glorious minute it was.

Harry dragged off his cloak and Draco quickly followed suit, as they took a leisurely walk down the staircase. At the base of the stairway, Lucius lay bloody and broken, one of his legs turned to an obscene angle, his wrists obviously broken badly and blood streaming from his nose and ears, matting his hair in great red clots.

When Harry reached him, he squatted at his head and Draco watched with great delight as Lucius’ eyes widened in horror and pain, his gaze fixed on Harry’s glowing green eyes.

“Oh, my dear, dear Lucius, aren’t you happy that the last thing you’re going to see before you die, is not only Lord Harry Potter-Black-De’Ath, the Boy-Who-Lived, The Chosen One, Saviour of the Wizarding World, Slayer of Voldemort, Master of Death, and Lord of the Black Blade…”

He gave a feral smile as he gestured over toward Draco.

“…but also your son, Lord Draco Lucian Severin, Earl of Denmar, Beloved Consort of the Infinite House of De’Ath, and heir to all the riches, property and chattels of the Ancient and Noble House of Malfoi.”

Draco shivered as his fathers pained expression turned to despair as he realised that everything Harry had said was true. The older man opened his mouth, but his jaw was too damaged and all he managed was an agonised groan.

Harry straightened and loomed over Lucius and he was every inch the Master of Death; power leaking from every gorgeous inch of him. Draco’s heart pounded in his chest, and his cock was diamond hard in his pants as he watched the greatest and most powerful Wizard of all time come to his defence. Potter wielded the Elder Wand above his head, and pointed the Black Blade at Draco’s father, opening a black rend in the centre of his broken body.

“Farewell, Lucius Abraxas Malfoy. And sleep the Eternal Rest…for the Damned.”

And with one final tortured scream, Lucius Malfoy was sucked into the afterlife, and was no more.

Draco’s legs were suddenly unable to hold him up, but before he could hit the ground, Harry had him wrapped in his arms.

“You said I was your Consort,” Draco whispered; that little bit of information only now hitting him.

“Yeah, I did…and you are, if you want to be. Is that alright?” Harry asked, sounding more like an insecure boy than the god he’d been minutes earlier.

He reached up and gently stroked Harry’s cheek. “It’s all I’ve wanted for the last fifteen years.”

Draco watched silently as an overjoyed Harry opened the doorway to their own time. As they stepped through into the warmth and comfort of Empyrean House, Draco turned to place his mouth against Harry’s ear.

“Is it later now, My Master Lord?” he murmured.

He felt Harry shiver against him. “Yes, my Consort, I do believe it is.”

*****

Harry supported Draco as they stumbled along the hallway to the stairs, stealing frantic kisses as they climbed. They passed a grinning Tony who gave a double thumbs up, but Harry was too involved with the taste of Draco’s mouth to even notice. Tony looked down at Dobby, who had also been waiting anxiously at the entrance to the sitting room until his Master returned.

“It’s begun then,” Tony murmured.

“Indeed it has.” The little Elf replied, before jabbing a pointy finger sharply into DiNozzo’s side. “Take that frowny expression from your face. This is a good thing.”

“Is it, Dobby De’Ath…is it really a good thing. There is so much that could go wrong…”

“We have it all in hand. My beautiful spouse has no concerns about the after-effects of Master Lord Harry’s actions, so therefore neither do I.”

Tony snorted at the reprimand and relegated his concerns to the back of his mind. “Do you want tea, or is your beautiful spouse expecting you home?”

“There is no passage of time in Death’s Realm, Anthony, and you bloody well know that. I can stay as long as I want. I am a free Elf.” Dobby said belligerently, hands on his hips and his little chest pushed out with pride.

Tony pushed down a grin and raised one eyebrow. “So…say if Madame Drizzle was at the kitchen door, with her arms folded and tapping her foot… you wouldn’t have to go home immediately?”

Dobby flicked an anxious look over his shoulder and Tony laughed out loud at the look of abject relief on the House Elf’s face when the doorway was empty.

He glared at DiNozzo venomously. “I said I was free, Master’s Butler Anthony DiNozzo, not stupid!”

Within moments the two friends were gathering the tea things on the table, and in the kitchen peace was restored.

*****

The occupants of the bedroom however were in a completely different mood.

“Fuck me…fuck me right now, Potter.” Draco’s voice was shaking as he tried to strip the robes from his body with trembling hands.

Harry was feeling the need to rut just as urgently as his lover; his cock was rock hard and his balls were heavy. But his Magic was giving him warnings he had only ignored at his detriment in the past.

“Slow down, Dray. We have all the time in the world. Let’s get these robes off you, before you combust.”

“Can’t wait…need…need…Aggh…”

Suddenly Draco was falling and Harry only just managed a wandless levitation charm in time to stop his head impacting the heavy wood of the bedframe. He gently placed the convulsing man on top of the comforter and quickly began to disrobe him. He knew he could banish the clothes with Magic, but once again some premonitory instinct prevented him.

After a few minutes, Draco was completely naked on the rich, sapphire blue velvet bedding. If he hadn’t been so concerned, Harry would have enjoyed the contrast of skin on fabric, and the sight of the love of his heart naked on his bed. However, there was something happening to Draco’s body that had nothing to do with sexual need.

Harry was about to call downstairs for help, when it finally became obvious what was happening. He knelt down at the side of the bed to watch over his friend as the huge influx of Family Magic denied him in the first timeline, finally converged on his core.

The pale short hair that had bothered Harry when he first saw it a couple of days earlier began to grow quickly, adding almost twelve inches as the minutes wore on until it became a sheet of rippling white silk. Draco’s complexion went from sickly pale, to the ivory-cream Harry remembered from their school days. His face filled out, morphing to a chiselled and fine profile, rather than emaciated. With his mage-sight Harry could see the Magic as it rippled over Draco’s skin; a myriad of dancing colours that sparkled with silver and gold veins as it began to syphon into his core.

Draco’s muscles began to expand, flexing and jumping as the energy of a millennium of Malfoi Magic began to remake him into the Wizard…the Magus…he should have been, had his father not denied him his birthright.

His shoulders broadened, although not as much as Harry’s, while his narrow waist and hips took on a healthier shape and size. He was hairless on his upper body, but an almost translucent trail of hair, starting just under his navel, darkened to white gold as it arrowed down to his groin, thickening into silvery silk curls around the base of his shaft.

As Harry watched enthralled, Draco’s cock began to change too, retaining its original thickness but lengthening considerably despite its flaccid state, as it rested against round, tight balls.

At the sight, Harry’s heart began to thump wildly, and the erection that worry had deflated once again began to fill. As the flow of Magic began to moderate, Draco’s breathing slowed a little and the movement of his body became less spastic as the muscles completed their transformation.

“Draco…?” Harry breathed quietly, loath to break the tense atmosphere that the influx of Magic had wrought.

At the sound of his voice Draco’s eyelids sprang open and Harry saw the dull grey of Draco’s iris’s had turned to swirling silver. At first it looked as if Draco’s eyes were fixed on the canopy of the bed…unseeing. Before the oblivious regard could disturb Harry, Draco turned his head and the argentite gaze was raking Harry’s face.

Draco began to laugh almost hysterically. “Oh…Shit, Harry. I didn’t know it would feel like this. So much power… so many generations of Magic…”

He held out a shaking hand that Harry couldn’t stop himself from grabbing. The meeting of their Magics jolted them both like an electric shock, and as their hands pulled apart, a thick rope of pulsing red Magic joined their palms.

There was a yank on Harry’s arm that was not physical and he found himself lying, suddenly naked, on top of Draco. The other man lifted their still conjoined hands and stared wide eyed, first at their hands and then at Harry.

“What…is that a bond?”

Harry could only give a shocked nod. He knew this was his fault – or at least, the fault of his Magic. His mantra during the years of separation from Draco was that when they were finally together again he would ask Draco to bond with him. It was his dearest wish. However, the realisation that he had left his love in such dire straits while he was building his family, had caused Harry to question whether he deserved such a bond, despite the fact that Draco had accepted the Consort ring so readily.

His Magic, it seemed, had no such qualms and had reached out to greedily grasp the Malfoi Magicks, and then had bound them to his own.

He swallowed around a dry throat. “I can break it, Draco. I didn’t mean this to happen yet. I understand that even though you agreed to be my Consort, that you might not want this…”

“Do you not want this,” Draco asked quietly, the words cutting through Harry’s worried babble. His gaze followed Draco’s, which was fixed firmly on a little tendril of Magic that had left the bonding band that was now encircling their wrists, and further twisted itself through the Consort ring on his finger.

Harry gasped at the sight. They would have to break the bond soon, or risk that it became too firmly entrenched in their personal Magicks for them to be easily separated. He flexed his fingers, already feeling the first echoes of their conjoined Magic rebounding from the bond to his core, and he had to admit to himself that it might already be too late.

“Harry?” This time Draco’s voice was laced with hurt and insecurity, and Harry realised he hadn’t answered the first question.

“Oh, Dray, of course I want it. It was all I thought about for the whole time we were apart. But I wasn’t sure you would want it, especially after I left yo…”

Harry moaned as Draco’s free hand encircled the back of his neck and dragged him forward. A hot urgent mouth covered his in a hard and passionate kiss, their tongues reaching for one another and fighting for dominance as they began to explore each other’s textures and tastes. Draco’s questing free hand met Harry’s, and their fingers intertwined as the kiss became deeper and more demanding.

It was many minutes later, when the need to breathe pulled them apart for the third or fourth time, that Harry realised the ribbon of bonding Magic had tied their other hand too, and only had to unite their cores to be complete.

He took a deep breath and centred himself, knowing that what he was about to do was irrevocable, and if he was being honest with himself, inevitable given his feelings for the beautiful man lying beneath him.

“Draco Lucien Severin, Lord Malfoi, Earl of Denmar, Beloved Consort of the Infinite House of De’Ath,” he began, purposefully using the French pronunciation of Draco’s family name to honour the Magic that had brought them to this point.

“Do you consent to bond with me, to honour me as my Consort, as my spouse, my companion, and to be infinitely joined as my partner in life and Magic, until Lady Magic deems her reign complete and allows Death his final triumph?”

Harry watched as Draco’s eyes widened in shock at the inference complicit in the final statement, before he gathered himself and gave a smile that was filled with love and acceptance.

“Hadrian James, Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath, Master of Death, Lord of the Black Blade; I consent to bond with you, to honour you as my Master and Lord, to serve you as companion and Beloved Consort of the Infinite House of De’Ath, and to be infinitely joined as your partner in life and Magic, until Lady Magic deems her reign complete and allows Death his final triumph.”

It was Harry’s turn to stare in surprise, as Draco changed the vow from the more modern bond of equals that Harry had given, to the more Ancient and binding, for Draco at least, of Master and Consort. Part of him was concerned at the change, which gave Harry some freedoms in the bond that Draco would not enjoy, but his Magic was overjoyed at Draco’s capitulation and he could feel that exaltation singing through his core.

There was no time to discuss the changes as the bonding Magics between them turned from red to deepest Royal Purple, and Harry knew it was far too late when the completed vow settled on them both. Harry could feel the exhilaration having an effect both Magically and physically, but there was one more thing to be promised before they could give in to their baser needs.

Harry couldn’t help the slight trembling of his voice as he intoned the next bonding vow.

“Draco Lucien Severin, Lord Malfoi, Earl of Denmar, Bonded Consort of the Infinite House of De’Ath, do you consent to undertake the blood adoption of my heirs, James Sirius Potter and Sebastian Severus Black as children of your heart and body? Do you likewise consent to blood adopt and name Lily Aurora as child of your heart and body, and designate her heir to the House of Malfoi, and the title of Countess Denmar?”

Harry thought Draco’s smile could have lit the whole of Wizarding Britain, it beamed so brightly. Despite them not having spoken about the children, Harry had hoped that Draco did not have it in him to blame the kids for the accident of their birth to Ginevra. Besides that, a blood adoption would possibly have them losing the more overt characteristics of the Weasley family, like Lily’s titian hair for example, and taking on those of the Malfoi’s. It would not only make them a true family, but would protect the children from any future interference from the Weasley’s.

More importantly it would also guarantee the continuance of the Magical House of Malfoi and the Earldom of Denmar for another generation, despite Draco’s bonding to another Wizard. Considering the changes Harry was hoping to make in the Wizarding World, that could only be a good thing. Harry didn’t have to wait for long for Draco’s enthusiastic pledge.

“Hadrian James, Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath, Master of Death, Lord of the Black Blade, I consent to the blood adoption of your progeny James, Sebastian and Lily, as children of my heart and body. I pledge to love, honour and protect them as my own and to designate the naming of heirs as my Master and Lord doth proscribe.”

Harry couldn’t help the rush of possessive pride at Draco’s capitulation to him as his Lord. The other man had literally handed over his birthright to Harry to do with as he wished. Of course Potter had no intention of doing so, but the trust that Draco obviously had shown him made Harry feel ridiculously powerful and potent. His pulse pounded in his cock as the final surge of bonding Magic made resisting the pull to fuck almost impossible.

Nevertheless, he held his libido at bay for a few moments longer as he firmly spoke the final words that would bind them together for eternity. “I make this vow solemnly, with the knowledge that to break it is to forfeit my Magic. So have I spoken, so mote it be.”

Draco’s voice reflected his own certainty as he too spoke the affirmation. His final ‘So Mote it be’, was almost swallowed by Harry’s mouth as he claimed a kiss that was full of possession and triumph, made doubly so by Draco’s loose-limbed compliance beneath him.

Harry didn’t have the patience or the will for slow and gentle. His Magic was urging him to take his Consort and he was almost incapable of fighting it. He broke the clinch and gazed down into Draco’s eyes, which were blurred with lust and pleasure.

“Take me, My Lord,” he urged, illustrating his willingness for exactly that by wrapping his hands around the thick wooden rail at the headboard, closing his eyes, and pressing his head into the pillows, stretching the long pale column of his throat to Harry’s view.

There was nothing more that needed to be said. His request was plain, and Harry hurried to fulfil it. With one strong move, he ran his hands along Draco’s sides and down under the cheeks of his ass, pulling him down until his body was stretched taut beneath Harry. He wrapped a large hand around Draco’s thigh and hooked it over his forearm, and then ran his free index finger along his cleft until he found the tight opening.

“How long, Dray?” he asked hoarsely.

“You…” Draco swallowed convulsively and shivered bodily as Harry’s smile turned feral and his Magic crackled from the delving finger, lifting all the tiny hairs over his body.

“I was your last? Fifteen years, Draco?”

Draco nodded, then wet his lips with a quick swipe of his tongue, and Harry’s body convulsed at the sight.

Only his wish to be inside his lover and bondmate when he came, prevented him from shooting come all over him. Harry’s Magic thought marking Draco was a really good idea, but he clamped down on that possessive urge and in Parseltongue intoned, “Lubrico tractum mundi.”

He felt Draco quiver at the hissed charm to cleanse, prepare and lubricate his hole. Too turned on for subtlety, Harry pressed two fingers into the relaxed entrance, hooking them to find his prostate with an ease that belied the years since they had last done this. Harry was hoping against hope that his lover didn’t need any more preparation as he wasn’t sure he had the patience. The moan Draco gave was sin incarnate and answered his question more than adequately.

Praelino,” he murmured and used the oily substance he’d conjured on his palm to slick up his diamond hard cock. Taking what was left of his seriously stretched will power, he pushed Draco’s knee high up onto his belly, took his cock in hand and rubbed the swollen head against Draco’s exposed hole. It was almost too much stimulation, but he looked up, wanting to make sure Draco was still ready to go on.

Draco was a study in anticipation; his eyes closed, his mouth opened in an O of pleasure, his abs tight and his skin flushed pink and shining with a light sweat. Harry didn’t need to ask if he was ready, it was all laid out there for him to see.

He pushed in slowly, inexorably, every inch a fight against coming too soon. Draco’s cock jerked, shooting jets of pre-come that dribbled temptingly down the hard shaft. Harry’s mouth watered for a taste, but the tight heat of Draco’s ass was just too all-encompassing and the need to rut, to fuck hard and long, overtook any other thought in his head.

Draco’s hands were white as they clasped the head rail. His head was rolling from side to side as he begged, “Harry…fuck me, please. Hard, I need you…hard…fuck…please…fuck me fuck me fuckmefuckmefuckme…”

Harry was not going to refuse. He pistoned into his lover hard and fast, finally letting go of any fears about their future together, forgetting the past, and side-lining ‘The Plan’ that had filled his waking and sleeping hours for the last fourteen years. Finally, they were here, where he had longed to be.

“Yes, my lover, my Draco, my consort,” he grunted as he fucked into Draco’s hole, raking his prostate with every thrust. The other man was shaking hard, his body dewed with sweat as he pressed back into Harry, taking everything his Lord and Master had to give him. Harry could feel his own orgasm building, curling just out of reach in the pit of his stomach. He knew what he needed to take him there; knew he needed to feel the spasms of Draco coming on his cock to push him over the edge.

“You gonna come for me, Dray?” he asked roughly as Draco’s moans grew louder and needier. “Can you come, my Consort, without even a finger on your cock?”

Draco cried out loudly as he answered his Lords request immediately, come pumping from him in long strands that reached over his belly and onto his chest. The tightening of his ass around Harry’s prick was everything Harry remembered; strong, rhythmic pulses that milked his own orgasm out of him.

He came with a cry of triumph as he emptied inside the man he had loved since he was fourteen years old, his orgasm a culmination of years of wanting and waiting, and it lasted so long it was as if he hadn’t come in all that time.

He slumped down, heedless of Draco’s slight ‘oof’ as he landed on his belly. But the slide of Draco’s arms and legs around his body told him he was forgiven for his slight thoughtlessness.

“I love you,” he whispered into the long pale hair, between kisses to Draco’s temple.

“I love you too.”

*****

Draco wasn’t sure just how long they slept. The room was lit by a single MageGlobe in the corner, and the thick drapes were closed across four, floor to ceiling windows that made up one wall of the room. His stomach said it was late, but just how late he couldn’t be positive. If he could have found the energy to speak he would have called a House Elf.

As if he’d heard, there was a faint pop and Dobby appeared at the side of the bed, his large pale green eyes shining with what could only be called affection. He really was a very strange Elf.

“What does Consort Lord require for sustenance?” he asked quietly.

“Tea please, Dobby. Some finger sandwiches and cake; not fruit cake, something with cream and lots of sugar, please.” Draco replied, realising just how hungry he was. “Oh and some fruit. Do we have any fresh peaches?”

“I am the Elf of the Master of Death,” Dobby said proudly. “We always have everything.”

Draco had the idea that if Dobby had eyebrows, he would have raised one of them at Draco’s ridiculous notion. “Of course, Dobby.” He agreed affably.

“Do you require anything else?”

“No thank you…except…How did you know I needed you, I didn’t call.”

“I am the Elf of the Master of Death…” Dobby began.

Draco felt Harry stifle a laugh as he pressed his lips to Draco’s neck, and he had to pull his own stomach in to prevent the giggle that was forming in his chest from erupting.

“…and you know everything that the Consort needs?” he managed.

Dobby’s expression was very smug. “I do, Consort Lord. And this Elf also knows when the Master Lord wants me to go and get the tea things, so he can stop pretending he is sleeping and kiss his Dragon undisturbed.”

And with that he popped away.

“How did he…?”

“He’s the Elf of the Master of Death…”

Draco intoned in a passible facsimile of Dobby’s strange baritone, only for his giggles to be stopped by the kiss that Harry had obviously been thinking about, loudly enough for Dobby to hear.

An hour later they were comfortably ensconced in the sitting area of the Master suite, showered, post coital, showered again, post coital (in the shower this time to save time as Draco was very hungry), fed, and warmly wrapped in velvet dressing gowns in front of the crackling fire place.

“So can I hear about ‘The Plan’ now we are bonded?”

Draco was surprised at the expression of worried shock Harry sported         in answer to his quite innocent question.

“I never intended to wait for us to be bonded, Dray. I was only waiting to make sure you got your Magic back.” He looked down at their joined hands sheepishly. “Tony said I should tell you about the Consort ring, but I was…”

“Scared?” Draco asked, only half-jokingly.

“Concerned,” Harry replied seriously. “I didn’t want you to feel you had to do anything in return for getting your due Magical and financial legacy. If you had decided you wanted to leave tomorrow I would have let you go…”

There was a sheen of brightness in Harry’s eyes as he looked up, and Draco knew he was sincere.

“…but it would have broken my heart. Despite the way I left you to suffer, please believe that you have been in my mind every moment since I left our bed in the Room of Requirement that morning nearly fifteen years ago.”

“It’s OK, Harry, really. We need to move on. So many things have been changed already and I don’t need you to wear a hair shirt. We are here together and bonded…forever it seems – and don’t think we’re not going to talk about that soon. There is nothing more I could ask for right now.”

Harry kissed him tenderly, running his hands gently through Draco’s hair, which almost made him purr with pleasure.

“So ‘The Plan’?” Draco asked after Harry had kissed him breathless for several minutes.

Harry leaned forward and Draco could see the excitement lighting his eyes.

“There are several strands, and we have to go backwards to go forwards…”

Draco couldn’t help the look of incredulity that crossed his face, as he put a long finger under Harry’s chin and tilted his head upwards. “Are you channelling Dumbledore or something…let me look and see if your eyes are twinkling.”

The dark look that flittered over Harry’s expression told him without words that Dumbledore was a sore subject, but it was quickly gone as Harry picked up Draco’s hand and intertwined their fingers.

“Let me give you an overview and then an example,” he stated. “My overarching aim is to change things in our world. There have been so many bad decisions made; so many pieces of legislation passed by the Wizengamot that make life difficult, if not completely untenable, for many ordinary people and particularly those with all or some creature blood. I didn’t kill Voldemort just to find that the Wizarding World has become just as bad as it would have done under the Dark Dork – except that slightly fewer Muggles have died.” Harry frowned. “Now I could do that by taking over, becoming the new…Lord of the Wizarding World…But I’d rather not go down that route.”

The fact that Harry hadn’t said ‘Dark Lord of the Wizarding World’, wasn’t missed by Draco, but he heard the implication loud and clear. Given the power Harry now had at his command, it was not an impossibility by any stretch of the imagination. Draco nodded to let his bondmate know he had heard what he hadn’t said as well as what he had, and he noted the slight relaxation of Harry’s shoulders.

“So the most expedient way is political. As Lord Potter-Black, I hold thirty votes in the Wizengamot, out of a possible 300. I know that Neville is now willing to throw his family’s twenty votes into our bloc, and the Malfoi and Denmar votes, should you choose to join them with mine, would take us up to a total of seventy-five. Now that’s obviously not enough to hold a majority, and definitely not enough to get the incumbent Minister out of office.”

“Well as your Consort my votes are yours, and I’ll happily vote with you, obviously. So who else can we convince to join us?”

Harry grinned. “That’s the next part of the plan and why I said we needed to go back. Did you know that Severus Snape should have been the next Lord Prince?”

Draco nodded. “Yes. For some reason that Sev never found out, his uncle inherited instead of his father.”

“Because of a duel between two ancestors over one hundred years before his father was born.” Harry turned and looked into the fire. “The wrong person won, and the Lordship went down a different part of the family line.”

There was a moment of quiet. Harry seemed to be waiting for something and Draco went over what had been said, quickly realising that the answer was simple. “We’re going back to change the outcome of the duel.”

“Yesss!” Harry laughed. “Exactly.”

“And then when we save Sev, he will be able to claim the Prince Lordship…”

“…And hopefully cede his votes to our voting bloc.” Harry finished.

“That still wouldn’t be enough to get the current minister out of office. And anyway, why would we want to?” Keeping up with politics had been just too painful for Draco during the period of his ‘banishment’ from Society. It had reminded him too keenly of his father’s machinations. But now it was part of his Lord and bondmates cause, it made sense for him to understand the situation completely.

There was a slight pause before Harry answered. “Because he’s under Albus Dumbledore’s thumb and with him many other members of the Wizengamot who would usually be liberal.”

That statement made Draco’s mouth fall open. There was so much wrong with it that he didn’t know where to start. The definite possibility that the power Harry had at his disposal had affected him somehow, made Draco feel sick with fear. If that was the case, was any of the past few hours real – would it mean Harry’s feelings for Draco were not real?

“Dray…Draco! It’s true. Dumbledore is the power behind the Minister.”

“Dumbledore is dead, Harry,” Draco snapped, his fear making him react angrily. “I was there, remember! I watched as Sev AK’d him over the parapet of the Astronomy Tower; it was why I spent three months on the run; why Sev had to stay in the Shack instead of being safe when he sent me back in to Hogwarts with the intel about the Horcrux; and why he fucking died at the hands of that mad bastard and his fucking snake!” Draco found himself standing by the window with tears pouring down his cheeks, without any idea how he got there. He tried to pull away as a gentle arm encircled him, but he wanted the comfort too much to try too hard.

“Listen, Draco. Dumbledore didn’t die – at least, his mind and soul didn’t. It’s a really long story, which you will hear soon I promise, but he got hold of an artefact from the Black archive that allowed him to exchange his essential being with another person.”

Shocked and appalled that the leader of the Light would use such Dark, bordering on Black Magic, Draco turned in the circle of Harry’s arms and was able to read the veracity of Harry’s statement in his eyes. He felt ashamed that he had needed convincing, when only hours ago he had vowed to give everything he was to his Master and Lord. But it seemed Harry was also able to read him.

“Stop, Draco. I would have had the same reaction if you’d told me Sirius didn’t die. It’s OK.”

Draco nodded, accepting the forgiveness in the spirit in which it was given. “So who?”

“Aberforth. It had to be a family member and as both of them were gay, and their sister died young, they were the last of the Dumbledore line.”

There was a sick feeling churning in Draco’s stomach as the implication became clear. “So the person…the consciousness that was begging Severus not to kill him as he pointed his wand at him, was Aberforth?”

Harry blew out a breath and nodded. “While Dumblefuck’s mind and soul was back in Aberforth’s body at the Hog’s Head Inn.”

“It hurt Sev so badly to have to do it. I know people think he’s a bastard…” he smiled wanly at Harry’s snort of agreement. “…But he wasn’t a cold-blooded killer. He was good at hiding behind masks – he had to be in order to be the amazing spy he was – but underneath it all, he was a good man. He loved me, I know he did.”

“He did, Draco. He showed me.” Harry drew him gently over to the couch and pulled him down to nestle against Harry’s side.

“When I found him in the Shrieking Shack, he was very near death, but he was so fucking strong. He pulled me down and gave me his memories; some he meant to give me, others that leaked through. I was left knowing how much he loved you, how glad he was to have got you out of there before you could be marked, and to have found a way to get the information back to me. He knew how I felt about you, and that I would do my best to keep you safe.”

Draco was surprised Severus had guessed about them, but he knew he really shouldn’t be.

“It was so hard to leave Sev at the Shack. He made the note that Dumbledore had left about the Horcrux into a portkey and said ‘This will take you back to Hogwarts. Find Potter, give him this and tell him where I am’. I must have only missed meeting Voldemort and Nagini by a few moments.”

Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s hair. “He knew it was hard for you, but he couldn’t do what he needed to while he was worried about keeping you safe. I think he knew he wasn’t going to see the finale of the whole thing, and I was glad I was able to be there to hold him at the end. He held on, despite the terrible pain, in order to tell me that I was a Horcrux too and that I would have to die to kill that final part. But also what slipped through was the memory of Dumbledore asking Snape to kill him instead of you – he said the curse on his arm was slowly killing him, and he made Sev believe that he really didn’t want you to be responsible for his death. He told him that even if he begged for his life, he shouldn’t let that stop him from doing his duty ‘For the Greater Good’.”

Draco hissed in disdain at the phrase. “Manipulative old fucker.”

Harry shook his head wryly. “What you both didn’t know was that I was there; he’d petrified me under my invisibility cloak. I think Albus hoped to turn me against both of you – he probably knew about us too. It worked to some extent – I fucking hated Severus, until finally I started to question what I’d seen. When I looked back at my memory after viewing Snape’s, it struck me that there was something a little too real about the way Dumbledore was begging for his life – after all, who was he trying to fool – not Sev, and as far as he was concerned you wouldn’t care. So it was only for me.”

“I wondered how Sev could kill him when he was begging so hard for him not too.” As he remembered that horrible day, Draco recalled something that shocked him and then made him want to scream.

“But…but fuck…it was Aberforth that gave us the message…who sent us to the Shack…That BASTARD!” He grabbed Harry by the biceps and shook him as his anger grew. “He knew all along that Voldemort was on the way – probably even found a way to slip some DE the intel that we’d be there. He thought we would both be in the Shack…”

“And he could kill two birds with one snake, yeah. He didn’t count on Sev saving you, and you bringing the information about the last two Horcrux back to me at school. I really think he wanted the war to carry on. I have a good idea that he’d hatched the plan with the Weasley’s to try to blood adopt me, and then use the artefact to exchange bodies with me – thus gaining my Magical, financial and political power. He’d have been able to finish the war in my body and then taken over the Wizarding World completely as The-Boy-who-Lived! He didn’t know I would be sent back as the Master of Death, so having me die was not to his advantage. Hiding the information about me being a Horcrux was the ideal way to have Voldemort return, in the unlikely event (at least to Albus’ viewpoint) that I did manage to off him.”

“So why didn’t he just use the artefact to swap bodies after the war was over?”

Harry looked a little abashed. “You’re quicker than I was to ask that question. It wasn’t until Tony asked me that same question when he came to work for me, that I even thought about it.”

He tried hard not to look smug, but Draco was pretty sure he didn’t achieve it. “And…Did you…find the reason?”

“Yes…well not me, but Drizzle.” Harry blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. Draco couldn’t help thinking that no one would believe the Master of Death could look so adorably embarrassed.

“She told me that once used, the artefact needed to be recharged by a Black Magic ritual. It would have taken Dumbles at least a year to gather what was needed, and by that time I had come to my senses, James was born and we had moved to France.” Harry gave a feral grin. “And when Aberforth came to visit the Weasley’s they had no idea who this boy was the old man kept talking about, and kept finding other things to do than chat to him about it. So instead he had to find a way to grab power from behind, if you see what I mean. Hence the very bad decisions of the Wizengamot, due to his undue influence on the weak-minded bastards.”

Draco was sure that although he didn’t know the subtleties of ‘The Plan’ he had a pretty good idea of where they were heading. “So now we stop him.”

To his surprise, Harry shook his head. “No. Now we save Sev, and then we stop him!”

*****

Dexter Typhon Snape riffled eagerly through the papers in the deep drawers of his father’s desk, completely unaware of the presence of two men hiding beneath twin invisibility cloaks in the corner of the room.

Perhaps if he’d realised that the Master of Death and his Consort were watching him he might have made radically different decisions, but the expression of greed and avarice on his face said otherwise.

It took a few minutes but finally Dexter’s hand fell upon a large roll of parchment, fastened with a huge black seal and black ribbons, which in turn were hung with the silver ravens of the Prince crest.

“So, Father mine…what do you have in store for us all now you’re in the family mausoleum. And how can I change your last wishes, if as is likely I don’t agree with them,” Dexter muttered, as he slid a long silver athame beneath the seal, parting it from the document with the faint crack of breaking wax.

The parchment unrolled like a cut spring and Magically spread itself out, nearly covering the top of the large oak desk. There was a chuckle from the Elder Snape brother, as he began to read his father’s last will under his breath.

Sound mind…hah, that’s a joke. You were barmier than a rabid Nundu…” he mumbled as he speed read through the opening paragraphs.

“…Beloved wife?! You loved her so much, you poisoned her after she’d given you an heir and a spare…” His eyes flickered up to the painted figure of a very thin, sour faced woman, who was sleeping in a heavy black frame across the room. She wouldn’t wake until the new Lord took up his title and the old man’s portrait became ‘live’. Dexter was looking forward to taunting the old bastard with all the changes he was going to make; some of them completely contrary to the dead Lord’s wishes, simply because it would infuriate the miserable old fucker.

Retire my loyal House Elves???! Fuck that! I’ll burn the filthy little vermin alive on a pyre and toast marshmallows, while we celebrate your demise,” he cackled. He was too engrossed to notice a high pitched squeak from the doorway and a little pop of Elf Apparition.

He shivered a little and looked over his shoulder, as if he knew the owners of those two sets of eyes had moved from their station in the corner and were now reading along with him. If he’d realised he had a very famous wand pointed lazily at him, he may have been more afraid, instead of which he was completely unaware and merely annoyed at the perceived deficiencies of his family home.

“Bloody drafts in this place. I’ll close it up…or better still, set light to the place…use the fucking Elves as kindling…” he grumbled darkly, as his questing finger reached the centre of the document, searching for the words that would seal his fate…or that of his brother.

“Aha! Here it is…

‘I, Julian Escutcheon Snape, do bequeath a stipend of 29 million Galleon’s a year; the lands and titles of Lord Prince of Avalon, the Duchy of Deshault, and the defunct Baronetcy of Montmorency; and for his solitary benefit, the entirety of the Snape family potion business – factories, ingredient farms and the four hundred branches of Escutcheons Exemplary Elixirs worldwide – to my…’

Dexter gave a gasp of outrage as he choked out the next phrase.

‘…youngest heir, Sinister Cynocephalus Snape, as I am assured that as a good, righteous and stalwart Wizard, he will uphold the pride and nobility of our Ancient house. He will continue to be as good an owner for the business as he has been manager over the past ten years. I have every faith that he will continue to make it a financial success and a business of which I would be proud’.

The elder Snape son yanked on his hair so hard that he was left with a handful of lank grey strands in his hand, as he curled his fingers and crashed the resultant fist on the desk.

“The miserable bastard. I’m the eldest, the heir apparent. I deserve better than…better than…” He ran his finger down the parchment, getting almost to the bottom before he found an entry that pertained to him. What he found made him scream aloud with incandescent rage and his Warped Wormwood and Grampus Tooth wand snapped into his hand from the holster on his forearm. Too enraged to take aim, his broad spectrum Blasting Hex took out three priceless Demeter Vases that had stood on the mantel for generations. He was totally unable to feel sorry for their loss.

‘To my eldest son, Dexter Typhon Snape, I reluctantly bequeath an annual endowment of 4000 Galleons; Sole ownership of the Snape Dower House at Spinners End, Nr Manchester; and title to the Execrable Erumpent Excrement Works in Entwistlethwaite, North Yorkshire. Hopefully he will stir his lazy arse enough to make this business profitable, and this endeavour will teach him the worth of even the lowliest piece of crap, as he has oft times insisted on treating those around him as such’.

It was obvious to the two grinning watchers that their mission via the Black Blade could be unnecessary, as Dexter’s face became bright red with temper. He looked ready to stroke out, and sooner rather than later, if the throbbing of the large vein at his temple was any indication.

Fate, however, was not willing to be cheated, as a tall, imposing, and rather familiar looking figure burst through the doorway.

“What the ever-loving fuck are you doing, Dexter. Piggle told me you were in here, but I must say I didn’t believe him. I shall have to apologise to the little chap for doubting him. This room was supposed to be sealed until Oldman Pattypants arrived to open the wi…”

Black gimlet eyes raked the desk top and widened as he realised the reprimand was superfluous. “You read the will – without everyone here?”

“Oh yes, my dear brother Sinister. Because I was really going to wait to find out that our dearest Papa had passed me over for you, and left me the fucking Shit Works and a measly four thousand stinking Galleons a year!!”

Dexter’s screech made his brother wince and rub his ear at the Harpy-like intensity of the older man’s voice. Sinister quickly seemed to regain his decorum, however and grasped his own chin while tapping a potion stained finger on his cheek.

“The Erumpent Works has the potential to make millions of Galleon’s, brother. There’s a report available in father’s files that I commissioned from the Goblins, which looked into the possibility of converting the effluent into pellets that can then be sold to Muggle farmers as fertilizer. I even talked to the DMLE about the ethics of selling the waste of a Magical creature to Mundanes – they were willing to go ahead with a trial scheme, maybe starting with the Squib farms that supply Hogwarts. I think…”

The colour of Dexter’s face was now puce as he pointed his wand towards his shocked brother with a shaking hand.

“I won’t be selling anything to filthy Muggles, you fucking idiot. How our father could leave the family’s fortunes in the hands of a lily-livered milksop like you I have no idea.”

He used his free hand to stab a dirty fingernail at a point at the bottom of the opened will. “The stupid old fuckwit thought he was clever, cutting me out of my birth right. But he wasn’t clever enough to tell Pattypants to take out the standard provisos from the basic will template.”

Keeping one bloodshot eye on his younger brother, and his wand aimed at his heart, Dexter slowly span the will around and motioned Sinister to look at it.

Cautiously, with one eye on his incensed brother, the man walked to the desk.

“Read it, Snivelling Sin – see the hole your father left me to bury you in!” he sneered, the depth of his hatred for his brother writ large across his face.

It was then that Sinister seemed to realised just how much danger he was in. The two men watching from the shadows could see the bravery of their potions master reflected in his great grandfather’s poise in the face of a dangerous man. With immense dignity, he slipped a monocle that hung from a ribbon around his neck, into the socket of his eye and squinted down at the words on the parchment.

‘In the event that the heir to lands or titles should predecease his siblings, the aforementioned assets shall be considered Legata in Morte and will pass posthumously to the senior in line’. Sinister read, his cultured voice never once reflecting the peril the words left him in.

And will pass posthumously to the senior in line,” Dexter parroted in a cruel parody of Sinister’s rich tones. “That, in case you hadn’t realised is me. And as I am without doubt, the better dueller, which father never acknowledged once…” he whined petulantly, “…then I think you should ready yourself for joining dear Papa sooner rather than later.”

Sinister took three steps back from the desk and held out a calming hand. “Dex, the Family Magic will not take kindly to fratricide. Are you willing to risk…?”

Dexter’s sneer was dark as he rounded the desk and waved his free hand at their mother’s portrait.

“He was not above Uxoricide, and I didn’t see the Family Magic punishing him for that!”

With a shake of his head, Sinister took an abbreviated step forward, only to be met by Dexter’s wand to his chest.

“Mother died of Magical drain after childbirth. Father said she was told not to have another child, but she was determined that you would not grow up alone. He begged her not to…”

“YOU LIAR!! HE POISONED MY MUMMY! Now DRAW YOUR WAND and prepare to meet your beloved father in Hades.”

*****

There was a deep sorrow reflected in Sinister’s eyes that was so poignant the watchers witnessing the melodrama unfold were sure that he had carried the guilt for his mother’s death all his life. Harry recognised in Sinister the echoes of deep seated self-reproach that Severus Snape had carried regarding Lily’s death, and wondered at how fate had damned that line of Snape men to such penitent self-condemnation. He vowed to make sure that Severus survived to reach his full potential and that Dumbledore would pay for his part in Severus’ misery.

His determination must have transmitted to Draco, as the other man reached across and squeezed his shoulder. His unspoken agreement was clear. It was time to change the past, in order to change the future.

Harry waited until Sinister’s wand was in his hand, and then cast a wandless, wordless and invisible Protego over the three of them. And not a moment too soon, as Dexter began to fire increasingly more vicious and potentially devastating hexes and curses at his brother, his inability to land a hit making him more and more angry.

Meanwhile, Sinister was bobbing and weaving more than he was duelling, only using minor spells and hexes, obviously loath to land a killing blow on a brother he cared for, if not loved, despite the obvious hatred that Dexter was throwing his way.

It was evident that he was not going to finish the duel. He kept trying to deter Dexter from carrying on, but the other man was too intent on gaining what he thought here his just desserts. Harry could see that they were at stalemate. Sinister’s unwillingness to fatally harm his brother would have meant that the original duel would have lasted only a few seconds, with Dexter being the victor. Harry couldn’t help thinking that his great grandson would have not been impressed by his reticence to strike.

There was so much noise from exploding furniture and screams of fury from the duel that Draco was able to speak to Harry without being heard by the brothers.

“If he was casting something more than second year spells then we could make sure one of them hit. But even if we could, Sinister would think he’d done it and carry that with him for the rest of his life. I’m not sure he’s the type that could cope.”

Harry nodded in agreement. But the duel needed to end, and leaving Dexter alive would just leave him free to try another time, by more underhand methods perhaps. As Harry watched Dexter’s eyes bulging and spittle spraying from his mouth, he remembered his earlier thoughts about Dexter’s blood pressure and the solution became clear.

With a quick glance over at Draco, he flicked the Elder Wand into his palm and pointed it at Dexter’s chest, hissing “Cesssare Verberansssss.”

Instantly Dexter stopped casting and clutched at his chest, his wand clattering to the floor and rolling under the desk. His eyes bulged out for a moment and then, with one last gasping breath, he fell first to his knees and toppled forwards to land prone on the Oriental rug.

The silence in the room was only marred by the sound of the droppers chiming on the antique chandelier as it swung violently from the last volley of spells, and Sinister’s shocked gasping breaths.

Harry and Draco watched for a moment, mainly to be sure that they had changed the original outcome of the duel. The strange silence was finally broken by the arrival of several House Elves, who popped in and stood mesmerised by the scene.

Their sudden arrival seemed to shake Sinister back into his role as Lord. He wiped a shaking hand over his face and turned to the Elves.

“Piggle, please ask my wife to Floo MediWizard Hobbs and the Aurors and request they come through immediately; Poggle, help me get Master Dexter to his rooms; Puggle secure this room – don’t make any changes until Magical Law Enforcement are happy about the circumstances of my brother’s death…”

The return of the gentle firmness they had first heard in Sinister’s voice, told Harry that while he wouldn’t rejoice at his brother’s death, he also wouldn’t blame himself for it.

With a nod of satisfaction, Harry grabbed Draco’s hand and drew the Black Blade, wielding it assuredly to make the portal back to their own time.

As they stepped back into the sitting room of Empyrean House he gave a relieved sigh. This mission into Death’s realm had been unusually emotionally draining, and he knew he would need a little break before they went through to save Severus from Nagini’s bite. Harry hoped his Consort wouldn’t feel too unhappy with him at the delay.

*****

Draco could see the concern in Harry’s face, along with the tiredness. He knew Harry wouldn’t be ready to use the Blade again before the next day, but that he would also push himself if he thought Draco was going to be disappointed.

“Come, My Lord. Why don’t we go and share a bath and relax for the rest of the day? I’m sure Tony will be happy to make us some of that Italian flatbread and flavoured oil. We can snack before we nap.” Draco began to walk towards the doorway leading to the stairs, but turned when Harry didn’t follow.

“It’s OK. If I can just get a short nap and a cup of tea, then we can go…”

“Harry, you know if he could hear you right now, Sev would be calling you an ‘Impetuous Gryffindor Dunderhead’ in that really snotty way of his. I don’t understand everything about what being Lord of the Blade means you can do, but I do know that things won’t change in the past just because we take time for you to get recharged here in the future.”

Draco lifted a fine pale eyebrow as Harry looked ready to argue. They had a minor silent standoff for a few seconds before Harry relaxed a little and then smiled sexily.

“Have I ever told you that Tony has Magic in his hands that has nothing to do with him being a Wizard?”

Draco raised a quizzical eyebrow, and then laughed as Harry caught him around the waist and reeled him in for a long, heated kiss. He shook his head in answer to the question, as he revelled in the wet heat of Harry’s mouth. He moved to pepper sucking bites down the column of Draco’s neck which turned his Consort’s legs to jelly.

“Ahh… Harry…ugh right there…” he moaned.

“So…did I also forget to tell you that I can cast a perfect Geminio charm on a Wizard?” Harry continued as if he didn’t have a moaning turned-on Draco leaning against him.

This time, as Harry suckled hard on the skin just below his jaw, Draco could feel blood rising to the surface. The sensation set up a direct line of erotic heat from his neck to his cock, the blood surging to fill his erection faster than he could ever remember.

“And wh…what would be the point of th…at…” Draco managed to get out between moans of pleasure.

“Well, the point is, that after our bath, with two Tony’s we can both have a massage at the same time.” Harry’s hands were like heated brands as he pushed them under Draco’s shirt. “And then when we are nice and relaxed, I can cancel the charm, we can retreat to our bed, and then we can find out just how flexible your relaxed muscles are…”

With his two remaining functioning brain cells, Draco thought that was the best idea he’d ever heard.

*****

“Look… at… me…”

The excruciating pain of Nagini’s venom was mitigated somewhat by the gentle concern and deep sadness in the, oh so familiar, green eyes. He knew Harry would believe that Severus was seeing a reflection of Lily as he gazed at him so raptly, but that really wasn’t the case.

Rather, for all those long difficult years he had looked at Potter with a kind of painful longing, wishing he could have been the boy’s father; sure that if he had’ve been then he could have saved Lily from Voldemort that day, and given Harry a happy, healthy childhood free of the machinations of twinkling eyed bastards, and megalomaniacal half-dead soulless creatures.

To be his father.

Instead, Snape felt he’d failed all the special people in his life. Lily and, yes even James Potter, had ultimately been victims of his ego and pride. Harry had been left with vicious Muggles who were depraved enough to enact the headmasters wishes, trying make the sweet babe he had been, into a needy, weak child who could be led to the slaughter. At least there Harry had proven them all wrong, but it had been no thanks to his vindictive Potions Professor.

Finally, Severus had allowed himself to be once again be played by Dumbledore, and Draco was going to be a victim of Snape’s failure to accurately read the moves in Albus’ endgame.

And as far as Voldemort was concerned… All he could do with his very last breath, was to send Harry off to die to save everyone else. He prayed to Lady Magic, that when they met in the afterlife, his boys; the sons of his heart, would forgive him his weakness and mistakes.

As the world was fading to black – the pain receding as his heartbeat began to slow – he felt the faint coolness of tears as they fell on his cheek, and let hope for absolution take him into the next life.

*****

Draco’s face was pressing heavily against Harry’s shoulder as they watched the final minutes of the scene unfold. Young Harry – so fucking idealistic and naïve – was crying over Snape’s slumped form. All his older counterpart could do was wait for him to leave and every second was an agony.

He breathed a sigh of relief as Hermione pulled Potter away from their dead teacher, her expression showing that she had no understanding of what Harry was facing. If it wasn’t written down, then Hermione couldn’t parse it. Try as he might over the years, he had not been able to forgive her the blind faith she’d had in the Weasley’s, and that she’d left him still in a coma to enrol in a University in the USA.

The creaking of the old wooden door pulled him back to the Shack and he focussed again to see Harry’s back as he left the body of his old teacher behind to go to face his own death.

He turned and pressed a quick kiss to Draco’s temple. “Come on, we don’t have much time. That fucking venom is corrosive. If we leave it too long to revive him, we’ll end up having to come back all over again.”

His pale faced lover shook his head sharply. “No…Hurry, please. I can’t watch that again.”

Harry nodded his acceptance. It had been hard enough the first time. At least now he knew he had a chance to change things.

“OK. He’s probably not going to believe it’s us. You know how paranoid being a double agent left him. So we’re going to have to be ready to tell him something only we would know.”

“The name of the Crup he gave me when I was three.” Draco had already thought about this it seemed. “He had an official name to please my Father, but Sev and I called him something completely different in secret.” Draco crouched beside his beloved godfather, ready to take whatever action was needed to save him.

Knowing that Severus was already probably halfway along the path to the afterlife, Harry quickly drew the Black Blade, recognising he’d need the most powerful of the four Hallows to act as a focus in order to drag Severus’ soul back into his body, without causing it irreparable damage.

Redi ad nos, quaeso animam perdidit Severus; arduum iter percurrere ab inferno, et ad vitam revocare scintilla viventium. Death’s thrall was heavier than Harry had ever felt before. The Blade lurched in his hands, as the pull of the afterlife exerted its influence. The interior of the Shack faded away as the lure to follow Sev’s soul rather than retrieve it became overpowering. Master of Death he might be, but Potter knew that Death itself was always hoping he would make a mistake and retake that hellish journey into the Netherworld, this time with all four Hallows on his person. Once he did that all bets were off, and to return to life Harry would find himself in a fight he was almost positive he wouldn’t win.  “Harry…Come Back…” Draco’s voice was distant, but urgent. “Don’t leave me…Please, My Lord…Your Consort needs you…” Harry couldn’t even fathom going anywhere without Draco, so with a great force of will, in his persona as The Master of Death, he poured more power through the twists of the unknown metal of the Black Blade, and intoned the ritual spell again, adding a final stanza that he hoped even Death could not combat. Redi ad nos, quaeso animam perdidit Severus; arduum iter percurrere ab inferno, et ad vitam revocare scintilla viventium. Audite me et custodiatis quia ego Dominus mortis, et nullus in terra viventium et mortuorum, qui meo dominabitur.” Even before the final syllable was out of Harry’s mouth, Severus jerked forward with a great gasp and blood began to gush from the gash at his throat; the red arterial flow flecked with the ugly black-green venom that Nagini had pumped deep into the wound.  As they had discussed, Draco pressed a shaking hand over the trauma site, while Harry snapped the Elder Wand into his palm and began to intone Parseltongue cleansing, antivenin, and healing spells. It seemed to take an age, but the puddle of blood on the floor around them was not appreciably bigger by the time Harry had stopped the flow.  “Do you…for…forgive me?” Severus croaked painfully as his agony filled gaze raked across them both.  “Shhh, Sev. It’s OK. We’re going to get you somewhere safe, and then we’ll explain.” Tears were flooding down Draco’s cheeks, and Harry knew it was imperative they get back to their own time and the comfort and safety of the house, before they dealt with anything else.  Tony was under orders to have everything ready in Sev’s room that they could possibly need, and as he had no idea if anyone else had stumbled across Snape’s body after he had left the Shack in the first time line, Harry was concerned to get out of there as soon as they could. “Failed you both…both dead…” he moaned, seemingly agonised by his perceptions of the scene in front of him. “No, no, Severus, stay calm. Come on, Dray, let’s get back to the house.” They both took an arm over their shoulder, and lifted the limp man between them. He was so weak he was unable to stand and it took all Harry’s dexterity to wield the Blade while taking his share of the dead weight. He’d never been so happy to see the sitting room of his house shining through the dark rend in time and space. ***** There was just one lighted globe in the kitchen as Draco wandered in, barefoot and freshly showered. An exhausted looking Tony was leaning against the counter, quietly nursing a large china cup and Draco’s keen potioneers nose could smell the heady fragrance of Jasmine coming from the flat Japanese teapot on the farmhouse table, along with something not so familiar. “Can I join you?” Tony looked up in surprise. Draco thought he must have been very deep inside his own head not to have heard him come into the room. Tony’s stealth abilities were second to none and in the few days Draco had been living in the house, he hadn’t managed to put the jump on him once. “Of course, the pot is self-filling and heating. It’s my own blend of Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl, and Chrysanthemum, but I can get you something different if you’d like?” Draco shook his head and accepted the teacup Tony had Accioed. He sat a little heavily on a chair and poured the steaming brew. It was pale yellowish green and smelled wonderful. They sipped the tea in silence for a few moments before Tony sat down and leaned his elbows on the table. “They both asleep?” “Yeah. Harry was wiped as usual. He helped me get Sev into his bed and then I heard him stumbling into our room. I imagine he was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Sev was almost unconscious by the time we got him back, but I gave him some Dreamless before I cleaned him up and got rid of his clothes. He’d lost a lot of blood and was understandably confused. It’s not every day you die and have your soul ripped back from the afterlife.” Tony snorted. “Not unless your name is Potter.” They both chuckled. It wasn’t really funny but breaking the tension felt good. Draco had had to close his eyes in the shower so as not to see the rivers of blood that had washed off him and down the drain. But Sev was safe, his wound closed and dry, and the last of the venom flushed from his body. Draco felt he could finally relax, if only for a short while. There was time for explanations when Sev was feeling stronger and more rested. Draco rolled his teacup against his cheek and turned to look at Tony. The other man was a little pale and he looked as exhausted as Draco felt.  Tony was an enigma to Malfoi. He really didn’t know him at all, and yet he had been a part of Harry’s life from before Draco had even met Potter at Hogwarts. He was ridiculously handsome, funny, deceptively clever and seemed to have a talent for being whatever and whoever you needed whenever you needed him. “Why are you here, Tony.” Draco found himself asking. “Here in London, or here with Harry?” The other man didn’t seem to be upset by the question. “Both I suppose. It occurred to me that you probably know a lot more about me than I do about you. I know you weren’t always a butler, but not much more than that.” There was a short silence before Tony gave a sigh and poured Draco another cup of tea.  “I lived in the US, to all intents and purposes as a Muggle. I was an Agent with a team in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Washington DC – Sort of like the MLE for men aboard military ships.  “I met Harry briefly when he was about nine I think, while I was on assignment here. Then I lost him, although I did try my hardest to find him again. I was still an Agent when Harry contacted me after the Weasley debacle. I was ready for a change of pace, and Harry needed me. So I went to live with him and the kids in France, re-joined the Wizarding World for the first time since I was sixteen, and have been Nanny, Butler, Valet, Security, Major-domo, and anything else he’s needed me to be ever since.”  There was a deep sadness evident in the rendition of his life history, and for someone as chatty as Tony usually was, it was exceedingly brief and to the point. Draco knew he shouldn’t push, but there was something tugging at him where Tony was concerned. “You don’t just give up a long career and move half-way across the world for someone you met as a kid, even if they’re as amazing as my bondmate. So what’s the story, Tony?” Tony rubbed at his face and then gave Draco a resigned look. “You’re not going to leave this, are you?”  He snorted when Draco simply quirked one eyebrow.  “No, I thought not.” He poured another potion of the fragrant brew into his cup and looked into the golden liquid as if it held divinative properties.  “I left home at sixteen when I found out my Father was an unmarked Death Eater.”  Draco couldn’t help the little jump of surprise that spilled a splash of his tea onto the table. Tony gave a negligent wave of his hand and the liquid disappeared, showing Malfoi that there was a lot more power there than Tony ever let on. “He was eventually caught and brought to the UK, tried and Kissed. But by that time I’d been disinherited as a so-called ‘blood traitor’.”  Draco flinched at the term he’d thrown around in his early Slytherin days, before he’d grown up enough to know just how terrible his father’s beliefs had been. But Tony didn’t seem to notice, so caught up was he in his storytelling. “I lived in the Muggle world, shied away from anything that even looked like Magic. I told myself I was happy. I loved my job, and I’d convinced myself I loved my boss. We slept together infrequently from the time I joined NCIS, but not often and only when he wanted to, as at the time it was against every rule in the book – including the fifty or so rules Jethro made-up for himself and his team. Even when the rules about fraternisation ceased, Jethro wasn’t willing to go for a relationship. His Rule #12 said never date a co-worker.” He seemed to realise from Draco’s blank expression that he didn’t really know fraternisation was, and just waved a hand negligently, as if to say none of it mattered. “Nevertheless, I didn’t date anyone else, made my whole life revolve around him. I thought he was everything I wanted; I’d always had a thing for older men with dominating personalities…Daddy issues I suppose. So I was willing to wait for him.”  He gave a humourless chuckle.  “Well about the same time as Harry was ridding the world of that Scum Voldie, for no reason I could pinpoint I felt the bottom fall out of my world. I was lost, depressed, unhappy with my life. I decided I needed more from Gibbs, so I made the mistake of telling him so.” Tony stopped suddenly and the devastation on his face made Draco feel awful for bringing it all up. He was about to say so, when he saw Tony pull it all back in.  Draco knew a lot about masks and he had a good idea that Tony had been brought up in the same kind of Pure-blood family as he had. There was no doubt in his mind, that if Tony had gone to Hogwarts he would have been a Slytherin. But something told him that this was not a mask he was hiding behind. Somewhere along the line Tony had begun to work at leaving that devastation behind. Draco could only respect him for that. “I take it that didn’t go so well.” He commented with a wry look. “Ha ha, it’s funny you should say that, Dray. He laughed at me, told me to buck the fuck up and informed me that I was just a willing hole and fuck-buddies didn’t have that kind of relationship. That if I wanted some pansy-ass to cry on, I should try the local gay club. He then informed me that he’d been waiting to have a relationship with the NCIS Director, who was female and that as soon as he was ready to retire, she was going to leave too. Three months later they had left on the sailboat I’d been helping him build for seven years.” Draco knew he looked gobsmacked at the way Tony had been treated. “The fucking bastard.” “Yup – That’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs-the-second-B’s-for-Bastard. If Harry hadn’t’ve come along a few weeks later, I would have either drunk myself to death or…”  Tony stood from the table and opened a cupboard, pulling down a dusty bottle of very old Scotch. He sloshed a good slug into his cup and then waved it at Draco, who nodded.  The whiskey was very smooth and strangely complemented the tea. They sat quietly and drank companionably until their cups were empty. “And since you’ve been here or in France, has there been anyone?”  “I wasn’t ready.” Tony screwed the cap back on the Scotch and began to clear the table. Draco could see the conversation was all but closed, but the idea that this gorgeous, funny man was so alone, made him uncharacteristically upset. He knew he was usually a selfish man, but he had an idea that Tony was going to be an important figure in their lives for a long time to come, and it somehow mattered that he was alright. “And are you ready now?” he said, knowing he was probably pushing a little hard. Tony sighed deeply, but seemed to be giving the question some thought. “Yeah…actually, you know I think I am.” He slapped Draco gently on the shoulder and walked out of the kitchen. Draco checked in on his godfather a few minutes later. The other man was sleeping deeply, and although he was very pale, his breathing was even and his pulse regular. Draco sat on the edge of the bed, letting his thoughts meander a little. Alongside an overwhelming feeling of joy that he had the other man back in his life, he couldn’t help reflecting how all four of them under the roof of Empyrean House, had suffered so much and lost out on love because of the machinations of others.  Now he and Harry had finally found each other again, he could only hope that fate would put the right person in the path of Tony and Severus.  They both deserved some happiness…and soon.   Ritual Translation – Return to us, oh lost soul of Severus; traverse the arduous path from the netherworld, and reclaim the spark of life to join the living. Hear me and obey, for I am the Master over Death, and there is none in the world of the living or the dead, who will have dominion over my will. 

*****

It had been three days; three long, exhausting and bewildering days, but Severus was finally beginning to find his feet again. No longer sick, stiff and sore from the lingering aftereffects of Nagini’s bite, he could finally assimilate the amazing events that had brought him to this new, and totally unexpected point in his life.

Waking in a strange bed, in a strange house with Potter and Draco hovering over him like twin mother-hens was unnerving enough, but there was something in the air – some elusive Magic that was teasing at the edges of his consciousness, leaving him feeling off-balance and edgy.

Finally, he was able to sit on the chaise in his bedroom, bundled in blankets, to listen with rising incredulity to the tale that Harry had to tell. What he heard was such madness that when the story telling was over, he felt he had to clarify the salient points, just for his own sense of sanity.

“So, you, Potter, are the Master of Death, and the Lord of a fourth, as yet unknown Hallow called The Black Blade.”

“Yes.”

“And I was dead.”

“Yes.”

“But you came from the future, ending up in the Shrieking Shack and proceeded to pull me back from the jaws of Death.”

“Yes.”

“Before that event, you once again travelled through time, and changed the outcome of a duel between my Great-great grandfather and Great-great Uncle, so that I would be able to claim the Prince title, along with the other titles of my family line.”

“Yes.”

He looked into Harry’s eyes and saw reflected back the sincerity and openness that Severus had always believed would be the young man’s downfall. Now it seemed it was something to be grateful for, and made believing the preposterous story that much easier.

Turning his attention to Draco, he was amazed to see just how much the once petulant and arrogant boy had become his own man. Draco’s story had been no less unbelievable than his own, including the fact that his Godson and Harry were bonded…Severus would never have seen that one coming. Still he had to check that what he had heard, was actually what had been meant.

“You spent 14 years as a squib.”

“Yes.”

“Because, as usual, your father took the most cowardly course, and killed himself rather than facing up to what he had done.”

“Yes.”

“Harry went back and changed the circumstances of Lucius’s death, in order that you could claim your family Magic and title and financial legacy.”

“Yes.”

“And you and Harry have become Bondmates due to a binding instigated by Magic herself.”

“Yes.”

“And those changes have created a new background ambience to the tangible Magic around you.”

“Yes.”

Draco’s forehead wrinkled in bewilderment as he realised the glib answer wasn’t actually correct.

“Erm…Well actually, no to that one, Sev. The Magic around me doesn’t feel any different.” Draco looked over at Harry who also shook his head.

Severus jumped up from the couch and let go of the frustration that had been growing due to the pressure of the mystery aura.

“Then what in Merlin’s name is it? It’s there in the back of my head, almost like being called by the Dark Lord used to feel, although much more benign. I feel like I should know what it is, but before I can hold it down to get a handle on it, it slips away.

Harry stood and placed calming hands on Severus’ shoulders. “Maybe it’s just an overflow of Magic from the ritual I used to call your soul back. It was pretty intense there for a while.”

Snape frowned and used all his skills to try to pinpoint the source of the disturbance. Centring himself as if to shore up his Occlumency shields, he was able to investigate his surroundings. It took him a while, but he finally realised that whatever it was, it was outside of his own Magic. However, the call was real and relentless.

“It’s not Dark Magic – in fact it’s really exceptionally Light. The fact that you both can’t feel it makes it obvious that it therefore is specific to me…”

“And also to me…”

Severus turned towards the new voice, to see an outrageously beautiful man leaning in the doorway. Sev had taken two unconscious steps toward him before he realised he was being pulled by a gentle, but resolute outside coercion. He slammed up his shields and clenched his fists at his sides, fighting the beguiling allure of the foreign Magic as he rooted his feet to the floor, actually physically curling his bare toes into the rug to stop himself from moving.

“And you are?” he growled darkly, not sure why his usually suspicious nature wanted to unconditionally accept the handsome man’s presence.

The other man blushed and Sev felt a curl of arousal at how appealing it made him look.

“I’m Tony…Anthony DiNozzo.”

Hands stuffed in the pockets of his dress trousers, the man rolled back and forth on the balls of his feet. Severus couldn’t decide whether he was preparing to fight or run.

Harry had stepped over to stand with the new man, and it seemed they were on very good terms. Snape couldn’t help the buzz of irritation when Tony’s dark green gaze was no longer focussed on him.

“Tony, do you know what’s going on?” Potter asked, his expression full of interest and concern.

DiNozzo’s glance flicked over to Severus again, and there was a mix of dread and hope in his expression.

“I have a pretty good idea.”

Severus felt a surge of power as his Magic tried to reach out, and it was all he could do to rein it back in.

“And what is this hypothesis, Anthony DiNozzo?” he asked in his best imperious professor tones. Snape watched as Tony shivered at the sound, and it was all he could do not to smile in triumph, that he should affect the other man so.

Rather than answer Sev’s question, DiNozzo countered with one of his own. “What date did you die in the first timeline?”

“21st February 2002,” Draco answered immediately, and Severus could see from his expression that the date had been indelibly seared on his godson’s memory.

Anthony rubbed a hand over his face and blew out a long breath. He stared over at Harry, who was still looking a little baffled. “That was the date my life fell apart. The date I went to Gibbs…”

“The date your Soulmate died,” Draco completed, his expression shining with total amazement.

Tony bit his bottom lip and it plumped up fetchingly. Despite the weakness he still felt Severus was not unaffected, and he had to fight the urge to walk over and rub his thumb across the darkened flesh.

“Yeah, I think so,” Tony sighed, and looked down, seeming to find his feet really interesting for some reason.

Severus didn’t want to believe that the ridiculous conversation was true. No entity, regardless how omnipotent, would give a gorgeous man like this as life mate to an ex-Death Eater.

“You are mistaken,” he stated firmly, clamping down on the tiny tendrils of hope that had begun to worm into what Sev knew was his irredeemably Black soul.

There was no mistaking Tony’s instantaneous reaction to Sev’s rejection of the idea. Severus watched as the young man constructed a near flawless mask, which bore no relation to the open softness of only moments before. The man standing in front of him now was a player, who nothing and no one could touch. He was hard, cynical, and broadcasting ‘Don’t fuck with me’ vibes loudly on all frequencies.

“Yeah, of course, you’re right. It’s obviously a coincidence, nothing more. I’m just Tony DiNozzo, butler to Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath; disinherited child of an Unmarked Death Eater; ex-cop. There is no way I could be the soulmate of a hero of the second Voldemort war. It’s laughable, believe me, I know.”

Tony drew himself up to his full height, and Severus almost whimpered at the play of muscles under the well-fitting and obviously expensive Muggle suit.

“I have duties awaiting me. By your leave. My Lords…”

Everything was screaming at Severus not to let the man leave, his very soul reaching out as Tony turned to leave. The slamming of the bedroom door brought Severus back into his body, and to the awareness of sharing that room with a very angry and Magically powerful Harry Potter.

Harry pointed a strident finger at Tony. “You! You are not going to run!”

Then he turned and gave Sev a glare that would have frightened even the hardiest of Death Eaters.

“And you are not going to deny yourself a Soulbond because of some misguided belief about not being good enough.”

He held out a hand to Draco, who took it immediately, his own expression set. The two men strode to the doorway, and Harry placed a hand in the centre of Tony’s back, pushing him bodily into the middle of the room.

“You are going to talk this out; and before anyone rejects anybody else, you are going to give one another a chance. Magic has gifted you with a second chance to know your Soulmate. Who the fuck do the two of you think you are, letting your insecurities and fears prevent you from accepting this amazing gift in the way in which it is offered. You both deserve this; you are two of the best men I know. Severus is stubborn enough to fight through your issues, Tony…And Severus…Tony is Light enough to ameliorate the effects of your years under Voldemort’s thumb.”

Harry pulled Draco into the curve of his arm and pressed a firm kiss to his full mouth, eliciting a little whimpered moan from the blond. Severus was disturbed to realise that he didn’t find it unarousing.

“Draco and I are going to begin the final part of ‘The Plan’. Being as you are unable to come along with us, I expect you to have at least made a start on pulling your heads out of your arses by the time we get back.”

He wandlessly opened the bedroom door before he turned and pointed aggressively at both of them.

“You will NOT let me down.”

The door slammed and locked behind him.

*****

“Do you think they’ll be alright?”

“Well, Sev is stubborn, but Tony is well able to deal with that. Tony has been hurt badly and doesn’t trust easily, but Sev has a way of making you trust him, even when you hate his guts.”

Draco snorted in agreement.

“So I think they’ll be just fine. What they don’t need is the two of us hanging around while they are sorting out their issues, wide and varied as they are.”

Harry had led them back down to the sitting room of the house and was quietly and efficiently moving the furniture to the walls with his usual show of effortless wandless Magic. Draco thought that if they were going to do this time-travelling regularly, they should probably set up some kind of transit room. But now was not the time for that conversation. Harry was obviously annoyed and Draco wanted to keep the focus of that irritation as far from him as possible. He loved the man, but fuck, his anger issues had issues.

“So where are we going?”

The grin that spread across Harry’s face was pure evil. “We’re going to fuck up Dumbledore’s plans.”

Draco felt a little apprehensive. After all, Dumbledore’s machinations had encompassed many decades. “Shouldn’t we sit down and plan out what we are going to do? I’d hate us to miss something that would mean things went wrong.”

Harry reeled him in and kissed him hard, owning Draco completely. It made the blond want to drop to his knees and wait for his Master Lord to do what he would with him. But it seemed Harry was too excited at the chance to make the final changes to notice just how turned on Draco was.

“That’s the amazing thing. Despite Dumbledore’s tangled web, we only have to cut one tiny thread and the whole thing comes unravelled.”

“OK. So what is that thread?”

“Not what, Dray…who!”

Harry drew the Black Blade and made the now familiar passes across the air. As the space in front of them split in two, Harry reached back and grasped Draco’s hand firmly. He nodded at the scene unfolding within the tear, conjured the twin invisibility cloaks and then pulled Draco to stand beside him.

“Meet Rindwald Scribbler, Clerk to the Legacy Office at the Ministry of Magic, and final protagonist in the fall of Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.”

Draco was a little surprised that someone so unassuming and lowly would have such a major part in bringing down possibly the Darkest Wizard of the last Century – and he was including Grindelwald and Voldemort in his mental list.

Harry must have noticed his surprise, as rather than step through immediately, he kept them both on the sitting room side of the hole, looking in at the scene beyond, and began to explain.

“The artefact that Dumbledore used to swop his consciousness with Aberforth was originally part of the Black Family Legacy. I’m pretty sure that was why he didn’t speak up for Sirius. He must have known the artefact existed but he couldn’t get it entailed to him until Sirius was dead. Although I was there and saw it was Bellatrix who stunned Siri through the veil, I still can’t quite believe that Albus didn’t have something to do with it.”

Draco nodded in agreement. “That whole fake vision from Voldemort was a little too pat if you ask me.”

A sad expression crossed Harry’s face before he turned to look through the hole in time again.

“As far as Drizzle and I can work out, Dumbledore bribed our friend here to sign the artefact over to him. I was the heir and everything not mentioned in the will as a bequest should have come to me, but the Black treasures are so immense that unless you were looking for that one piece, it would be impossible to track everything.”

*****

Scribbler was a particularly sour faced individual, who, although he was in no way physically similar, somehow reminded Harry of Vernon Dursley. A similarity that as they stepped through into his office, became more obvious.

“Boy…BOY! Bring the Black Bequest’s and artefacts in here, NOW! If you don’t get your scrawny carcass in here quick smart, Doherty, I’ll be making sure you never sit comfortably on a broom again.”

A lanky young man, no more than seventeen years old came tearing into the room, carrying a huge pyramid of flat and rolled parchment, that only a well-placed sticking charm was preventing from spilling onto the floor, while behind him floated a long train of boxes, bags and chests. His hair was overlong and fine, and was almost crackling with the static that Harry knew came from not having expended his excess Magic recently. He was heading for a large bang if he wasn’t careful, and not of the fun bedroom-type variety. Left to its own devices, excess Magic could easily cause explosions that could level a building. This kid obviously had missed that lesson at Hogwarts.

“Yes, Mr Scribbler, sir?”

Doherty’s accent was thick Belfast, and it became obvious that the boy was an immigrant.

The Wizarding Communities of Northern Ireland were small and rural, the larger conurbations having been totally destroyed by the Troubles. Education was undertaken by older witches and Wizards in the community, and was often focussed on the needs of their family farms. This meant they were ill-prepared for anything else.

The only chance a young witch or Wizard had to escape was to leave and travel. Most left for the US as their Muggle counterparts had for many decades, but some just Portkeyed across the Irish Sea and landed up in England or Scotland. Those who had arrived during the Voldemort years had not survived long, often finding themselves on the end of a Death Eaters wand, or as whores on the Darker streets of the British Wizarding mainland cities.

This poor kid, although he wasn’t yet selling his body on the streets, was obviously at the bottom of the pile, and Harry found himself feeling a lot of empathy for him, having been in the same kind of situation at Privet Drive.

*****

Scribbler stood and shuffled around what was a frankly ostentatious desk for a lowly clerk. His gait reminded Draco of Filtch and it made him shudder. He’d had more than one run-in with the odious squib along the corridors of Hogwarts and had a couple of scars to prove it.

As he drew level with the boy, Rindwald’s hand shot out and whacked him on the back of the head so hard that the kid had to stumble forward just to stay standing, juggling his load of paperwork as he did so. Draco winced at the crack the slap made.

Harry on the other hand was positively shaking with suppressed anger. Draco looked over at him and saw the unmistakeable aura of Darkness in his Magic, which had been obvious from the minute they had met again. This was what Tony had meant; it would be so easy for Harry to flip; to use his power in awesome and terrible ways.

Moving slowly, he placed a gentle hand on Harry’s arm and squeezed, bringing the other man’s attention back to him. Harry’s eyes were flashing with rage, and the sharp tingle of his Magic sparked across Draco’s fingertips as they brushed the inside of his wrist.

“Let’s get this over and done with; the sooner this fucker is travelling to the other side the better.” Harry gritted out.

Draco flicked his invisibility cloak over his shoulders in preparation, but then, with the very point of the Blade poking through the hole he had made, Harry did a complex movement with the dagger that Draco hadn’t seen before.

Frigidus in tempore.”

The spell stopped everything completely. A single scroll that was toppling from the top of the pile froze in place; the kid’s fly-away hair was captured in a halo around his head and the sneer on Scribbler’s face made him look like a gargoyle.

“What was that?”

“It means Freeze Time. So now we have all the time we need.”

Harry stepped through into the office, pulling a surprised Draco along behind him, his hand grasping just a little too tightly. Although Harry’s voice sounded normal, it was obvious by the trembling of his muscles that he was controlling his temper with a great force of will.

“There are a lot of papers to sort through,” he explained. “We need to make sure that he hasn’t already signed the artefact over to Dumbledore and sent it on. If he has then we’ll need to go back a little further.”

Draco nodded his understanding, and began to gather handfuls of parchment from the boy’s hands and spread them across the huge desk.

“So what exactly are we looking for?”

“Most of this seems to be financial, and pertains to Sirius’ will.” Harry said as he rolled and unrolled the seemingly endless paperwork.

“I think Dumbledore would have tried to slip the artefact in with a small bequest, something insignificant so as not to rouse any suspicions if someone happened to see it on Scribbler’s desk.”

Draco nodded, and moved two huge ledgers to one side. They were the reports of the Black holdings and were purely Gringotts accounting. As he reached out for the next pile of documents, his hand fell on a single sheet form that was slipped under the blotter on the desk.

Intern Assessment Form: Donal Doherty

Age: 17 years 5 months

Address: Halfway Hotel, Knockturn Alley, London.

Draco frowned as he saw the address. It was just a couple of hundred yards from where his own flat had been. But in this time-frame it was an even more dangerous place. He continued to read, feeling more and more upset as he did so.

Supervisors report: This intern is lazy, has no intelligence that I can discern, and has been belligerent and offensive on many occasions. I do not recommend that the Ministry continue his employment after the end of his six month trial.

He heard an honest to goodness growl in his ear, and realised that Harry had been reading over his shoulder.

“That fucker.”

A devious thought came to Draco, and he grinned at Harry. “I think we can make sure Donal gets a better report than that, don’t you?”

An ink siphoning and handwriting charm later, they had given Doherty a glowing report from his supervisor. One which virtually guaranteed the boy a permanent job at the Ministry.

“With poor dear Rindwald’s demise, there will be an opening in the Legacy Office, and it seems to me that Donal here will be the perfect candidate.”

Harry scribbled a messy signature on the bottom of the form and placed it in the out tray.

Draco still wasn’t satisfied though. Remembering what had happened to him, he wanted to make sure that the kid was safe and had some money, just in case something went wrong.

“Now if I’m right, old Scribbler probably knows to the last Knut what he has in the bank…”

He rifled through the drawers of the desk and was gratified to see that his people reading skills had not been lost, when he located a ledger detailing exactly what Scribbler owned, even down to the pots and pans in the kitchen of his family cottage in a small Wizard Village in Kent. That would be a much cleaner and healthier place for Donal, especially with the war hotting up in London.

Draco pulled a clean piece of parchment to him and dated it nearly three months earlier. He then proceeded to use all his legal know-how to write a cast-iron, water-tight will, leaving every penny of Rindwald’s money and property to, ‘My dear intern, Donal, who has been like a son to me’.

He took the parchment over to Scribbler and whispered a not too gentle spell to cut his finger, using the blood to sign the document.

“There, now no one will be able to take anything away from Doherty.”

He rolled and sealed the parchment, placing it in the desk drawer, which he made sure was tightly locked, so Donal couldn’t be accused of knowing it was there.

“Got it!” Harry’s triumphant shout rang out, and Draco turned to see his bonded brandishing a small age-darkened piece of thick parchment.

“‘One silver charger, Black Coat of Arms; One painted vase, Elven made – scene of mermaids frolicking; One black onyx focus crystal, set in silver-gilt mount, engraved with the legend, ‘Mutatio Animae’. Bequest from Sirius Orion Black to be assigned to Albus Wulfric Brian Dumbledore’. That’s it. The crystal.”

Draco nodded. “Mutatio AnimaeChange Souls. That certainly sounds right.”

Harry checked the number on the top of the parchment, and then Accioed the corresponding velvet bag from the frozen train floating behind Donal. The large gem column wasn’t completely black; there was a strange pattern deep inside it that reminded Draco of frost on a windowpane.

It was the work of moments for Harry to press the Elder Wand to the crystal and allow the release of his power to turn it a uniform, dull black, nullifying its soul swapping power.

He blew out a long breath. “That’s it, Dumblefuck. Now you’re the one that dies falling off the tower.”

Finally, Draco got it. Without this artefact, then Dumbledore wouldn’t live to affect the Wizarding World after the war was over – but because they weren’t using the Black Blade to affect his actual death, there would still be work to do to put right the changes the old man had already made…Or something…

Draco rubbed at his head. Time travel gave him a migraine.

Together they worked to gather up all the papers and restacked them on Donal’s arms. Making sure the little bequest to Dumbledore was on the top, they both donned their cloaks and stepped back into the corner of the room.

“We don’t really need to stay, as I’m not going to change his actual death, but I’d feel better if I was sure…”

“Yeah, me too,” Draco agreed. He also wanted to watch to make sure Donal didn’t suffer too much at the hands of the odious Scribbler.

With a stab of the Blade, time unfroze and, as the bequest from the top of the pile floated to the desk with a little help from Harry, they watched as Scribbler alternated between signing parchment and verbally abusing poor Donal. The only saving grace was knowing that this would be the last time the kid would have to put up with it, and Draco couldn’t help giving a tiny fist pump when the old bastard scrawled his signature on the dark parchment.

Finally, as he was making some disparaging remark about Donal’s father having sex with cows, his black cold heart stopped beating. Scribbler keeled over at his desk…and simply ceased to be.

The look on Doherty’s face was first shock and then such joy, that it made Draco smile back, even though the teen couldn’t see him. For the first time in a long while, Draco felt as if he’d achieved something worthwhile.

*****

Harry was struggling to keep everything together. Rindwald was the most craven kind of bully. The worst of it was that he used the exact same stock phrases that Vernon had all those years ago, and it made Potter’s mind go to very Dark and cold places. He didn’t even have the grounding force of Draco’s body against his, as they had drifted a way apart as they watched events unfold.

He was ready to be out of there, and as Donal finally realised he should get some help and hot-footed it out of the office, the opportunity to leave finally arrived.

But somehow, as he turned to the rend in time, things didn’t happen the way they should, and the world around them began to change.

“Harry? What’s going on?”

Draco’s hand fell on his shoulder as the air became thick around them, smelling dry and dusty, while the light diminished until they were in almost complete blackness.

It was all too fucking familiar, and Harry couldn’t believe what was happening; what shouldn’t be happening at all.

Reaching out with the Blade, he started to cast, desperate to get them both out of there. Before he had even begun to make a hole there was a loud banging and a small, strangely shaped door opened in front of them.

“And don’t you think you’re getting fed, you FILTHY FREAK. You’ll be lucky to see the outside of here before MONDAY. Eating from the RUBBISH BIN. Why I ought to…”

There was the all too familiar sound of flesh hitting flesh, and the horrifying crack of a bone breaking.

“What the fuck, Harry …where are we,” Draco whispered, obviously aware that they could be heard, even if they could not be seen.

Harry’s hands shook desperately, as he tried to ignore everything happening around him and concentrate on making the opening back through to Empyrean House.

But he was too late. With a scream of pain, a small body, seemingly wrapped in rags was thrown at their feet, before the little door slammed shut and there was the sound of a key turning.

“Harry…Talk to me. Where is this?” Draco’s whisper was urgent and strangely loud in the wake of all that noise.

Panicking, Harry almost fainted in relief as the warmth of the sitting room in their own time shone through the gap he had finally conjured. But he’d vowed not to lie to Draco, and that his bonded probably wouldn’t leave it alone, so he gave him an honest answer.

“This is 4 Privet Drive.” He ground out, his throat tight with the remembered pain of this day.

“Shit!”

Draco knew about Little Whinging, but not everything; not anywhere near.

“So who dies?” There was a frisson of excitement in Draco’s voice. “Oh, please tell me it’s that fucking Muggle bastard.”

“No…”

Harry murmured as he stepped out of the Hell that was the cupboard under the stairs, and back into the relative sanity of his new life.

“…it wasn’t Vernon…it was me…This was the day I died.”

*****

The world seemed to stop around Draco, as the elder Harry stepped back through the hole in time, while the younger lay completely unmoving on the floor, looking more like a bundle of bloody rags than a human being.

“Fuck it, Harry. I know you said it was bad…but I never thought…”

There was a rattle of breath from the little body on the floor and it was obvious to Malfoi that the child’s last moments were very close. He knew he should follow Harry back immediately, but the thought that this little boy was lying alone on the filthy floor gasping his last, was just too much to cope with.

‘Harry obviously survived this somehow; it won’t make any difference if he is revived by me or by those abusive sons of bitches, the Dursley’s’, he thought as he fingered the new wand that Harry had presented him with. ‘Just a quick Rennervate, and some pain relief spells’.

His mind made up, he lifted the hood of his cloak, and crouched down beside the dying child.

Ren…”

Several things happened at once.

The world around him became still and silent; his wand was plucked from his fingers and a high powered stinging hex hit him square on the arse. His loud yell of pain and indignation seemed to be swallowed up by the silence that enveloped the room.

He looked behind him, sure he was going to see Harry. He began to gather all the arguments for what he was planning to do, but was shocked dumb by the small, but still very imposing figure of Drizzle. Her large forehead was wrinkled in a most displeased way, her arms were crossed in front of her narrow chest, Draco’s wand held firmly in her tiny wizened hand, and her bare foot was tapping angrily on the dusty wooden floor.

“Hast thou not been advised of the rules, Master Lord’s Consort? This event is a part of My Master Lord Harry’s timeline. Thou art not permitted to affect it in ANY way.”

Draco was surprised at how intimidating the tiny being could be. He had seen very little of her at the house, only the odd glimpse as she spoke softly to Harry, or was grabbing Dobby by his unfeasibly large and droopy ears. The strange thing was, the male Elf would look at her with such adoration even though their relationship seemed to be less than equal.

Draco gave a little shudder. The relationship mores of House Elves were not something he wanted to ponder too deeply.

“Yes, Drizzle, I do know,” he agreed, his tone conciliatorily. “But Harry obviously survived this. What is the difference between me using a simple Rennervate to revive him and a few healing spells, rather than whatever primitive care those bastard Muggles would deign to give him?”

The look she shot at him made him feel like a bug under glass. Her bulbous violet eyes seemed to tear right through to his soul. Whatever she saw there made her nod, and she handed back the wand.

“Stubborn Wizards, thou art all alike. It seems I must teach thee the same lesson Master Lord Harry needed to be taught. Thou wilt come with me, and we wilt observe what havoc thy simple spells would wreak.”

Drizzle reached out and touched Draco’s brow with a strangely cool fingertip. Then it was as if they were rushing down a long tunnel, not unlike Apparition, but without the squeezing sensation.

In front of them there was what could only be described as a diorama, and Draco was able to watch as a conjured facsimile of himself cast Rennervate at the child Harry from the past who would one day be Draco’s lover. It took two blasts of Magic before the poor little thing began to mewl pitifully in pain. Once again the wand was brandished, and this time Draco recognised a diagnostic spell and then several healing charms to fix bruising, inflate a collapsed lung due to broken and cracked ribs, and straighten and mend a leg broken in three places, one of which was protruding through the skin of Little Harry’s thigh.

Draco couldn’t help but feel relief that the tiny boy was not in agony anymore. He couldn’t be more than five or six, surely, and was already being subjected to outrageous abuse. Draco could feel his temper rising and although he knew it was in the past, and his bonded had survived, he felt outraged that it had happened at all.

A noise prompted fake-Draco to flip up his hood, obscuring him from the sight of the hugely obese Muggle who filled the small doorway to the cupboard.

The child looked up, his features wearing a blank expression that broke Draco’s heart. No kid should look at their caregiver like that.

“Get out here, freak, and let your Aunt see you’re not hurt. She’s too kind for her own good.”

“I just don’t want any bother. That old bastard said we could do what we liked as long as there was no lasting damage. If his leg’s broken, I don’t want him cluttering up the place and not able to do his chores.”

The voice was harpy-shrill, and Draco guessed it belonged to Petunia Dursley.

Kid-Harry just looked resigned as a beefy fist grabbed him around the arm and yanked him roughly out of the cupboard and out of sight.

Draco sighed as the cupboard door slammed shut and they were plunged into darkness once again. Before he could cast Lumos, there was that same feeling of movement. With a slight wrench, they were deposited in a small curtained cubicle. The atmosphere was sharp with disinfectant and unfamiliar clinical odours. As a woman in a uniform came into the cubicle, Draco realised where they were.

“This is a Muggle hospital. Why are we here? Harry was healed. Did that bastard hurt him again?”

Drizzle didn’t answer Draco’s strident requests. Instead she just pointed at the bed that took up most of the curtain defined area.

To his shock and surprise, Draco recognised the figure lying on the bed, attached to a bag full of fluid by a long tube that snaked from it into his arm, and his leg was bandaged at the thigh and resting on a thick pillow. His handsome face was relaxed in sleep, although he was a little paler than Draco knew him.

“Tony?”

“This was to be the day they met. Harry an abused nine-year-old and Tony a newly injured officer of the law,” Drizzle explained, and Draco could feel his stomach dropping as his quick mind began to understand.

The medical person scribbled on a board that hung at the bottom of the bed and then left, pulling the curtain behind her.

“In the original timeline, without thy interference, my Lord Harry was to all intents and purposed, deceased. When the Muggles became aware they pulled him from the cupboard and made him breath again – only just in time. The female became distraught, not due to the injuries her spouse had inflicted on the child, but because there might be consequences that would affect her own family, of which she did not count My Master Lord. So they brought him to this place of healing.”

“If I’d healed him…”

“Then this would have occurred. No hospital needed for Master Lord Harry, and he and Tony would never meet.”

Draco was beginning to get a very bad feeling. “So if they never met…Tony said he had been…”

“Thou moves ahead too quickly, Consort. A lesson must be learned in full, dost thou not agree.”

Actually Draco didst not agree. He just wanted to go back to the house and spend some quality time with Harry, trying to wipe away the memory of the sad blankness he had seen on the child’s face.

But he realised that by not sticking to the rules he had subjected himself to this ‘lesson’, and he’d need to see it through to the end. It was obvious Drizzle wouldn’t stand for anything else.

“Master Lord taught Anthony a valuable lesson when they met here. Because he had mended his own broken leg on the way to the hospital, he was able to remind Anthony that not only was he a Wizard, (although the man had repressed his heritage), but also that he had the power to heal himself; a gift only the more powerful in Magic can access. He asked him questions about his healing abilities, which while they were not pertinent here, had a lasting effect on Anthony DiNozzo in due course.”

Looking down at Drizzle, Draco nodded his understanding. He held out his hand, knowing somehow that they would be travelling through this alternate time at least once more.

This time the sensation was more violent, and Draco surmised that they had travelled further forward than the few minutes of the last jump.

The scene in front of him was strange in the extreme. Once again, Tony was in a hospital bed, but this time the bed was enclosed in a large glass box, lit by blue light. Tony looked awful, his skin parchment pale, and his lips and nose almost navy blue with anoxia. Strange scabs were all around his mouth, and it was obvious he was at death’s door waiting to be admitted to the Netherworld. Apart from a few medical personnel, there was no one around – no friends, no family.

“What ails him is an old disease, made new by science.” Drizzle spat the word as if it were a curse.

Looking at Tony, Draco could understand the sentiment.

“So he doesn’t remember that he can heal himself?”

“Master Lord didst not meet him to remind him of this, and by this point he hath divorced himself so completely from his Magic that he didst not recall it was possible.”

Suddenly there was a screeching of alarms, and several medical staff appeared in that nightmarish glass box as suddenly as if they had Apparated. It was obvious they were trying everything they could, but the beeps that had measured the arrhythmic pulse of Tony’s heart slowed and then became one, long, mournful tone.

The shaking heads of the medical staff told Draco all he needed to know. Tony had died alone, never knowing the powerful, beautiful, infuriatingly brave and compassionate being that was Harry James Potter-Black-De’Ath.

Drizzle gave Draco another of those Soul-searching glances, and seemed pleased to see the horror that Draco knew was reflected there.

“Ripples in a pond…” he murmured.

“The flap of a butterfly’s wing,” she agreed. “But there would be one more consequence of the change thou wrought with thy interference.”

His gorge rose. No one could accuse Draco of being slow, and what would have been the final outcome of his meddling was becoming obvious to him, as Tony’s voice whispered in Draco’s subconscious.

Oh I’ve known Harry for a long time. Since before he went to Hogwarts. I’ve been…a balance of sorts I suppose, especially in recent years’.

He didn’t quote Tony aloud, but looking at Drizzle it was obvious she had heard his thoughts.

“So without Tony as balance…?” Draco had to ask, even though he dreaded hearing the answer.

“Things would have been much changed,” Drizzle finished.

And as the machines were turned off one by one around Tony’s cooling body, she grasped his hand in hers and pulled him into the time stream…

And into a horror-show.

Harry stood in the centre of Diagon Alley, the Elder Wand in one hand and the Black Blade in the other. The roadway was a charnel house of body parts and blood. Worse than that was the look on Harry’s face. He was manic with blood lust, his eyes wide and staring, a rictus grin on his face, his robes splattered with all manner of fluids, while a small group of Aurors in their signature red robes moved carefully towards him.

The front line was staffed by Neville Longbottom and Ronald Weasley both of whom were trying to convince Harry to put down his wand. Draco could have almost laughed at the likelihood, if the whole picture wasn’t so terrible.

“Come on, mate. You don’t want to do this…” Ron tried again.

“Oh but mate, I do!” Harry yelled giddily.

There was a nod from one of the Aurors at the edge of the group and seven stunners were aimed at Harry. Draco found himself crying out as Harry was overwhelmed by the red light, but Potter didn’t even flinch. With a nonchalant flick of the Blade, he banished Neville, screaming, into a black tear that appeared behind him, while he threw out a chain of virulent green AK’s at the line of men and women in front of him.

The Aurors dropped like flies, their lives snuffed out in a millisecond. But there was no remorse from Harry; not even a sign that he regretted the loss of life. In fact, his grin grew even broader as he began to declaim.

“You wanted me to live, starved and abused, in the Muggle world until you needed me – and I did. You wanted me to prove myself year after year – and I did. You asked me to give up everything for you; my parents, my godfather, any chance at real friends – and I did. Finally, you wanted me to take out a Dark Lord – guess what, I did that too…Died doing that! So, naïvely, I thought that would be the end of your incessant demands.”

He waved a finger at a group of bystanders, men, women and children of all ages, who seemed frozen in place by some unknown spell. Draco watched in horror as Harry cut off their air supply and they all began to turn blue, before dying with their eyes bulging.

“But noooo. Then it turned out I was expected to give my virginity, my freedom, my money, my life, to these greedy bitches and their family.”

Draco followed Harry’s wild gesture into the air and saw what he’d missed before – A pregnant Ginny Weasley, a struggling Hermione Granger, and a probably dead Molly Weasley if the damage to her body was anything to go by – all hanging in the air above Harry’s head, like so many grotesque carnival balloons.

Some brave, or perhaps idiotic soul, decided to commit suicide and threw an Avada Kedavra at Harry, who watched with an eerie detachment as the Unforgiveable hit him squarely in the chest. The crowd screamed as Harry simply laughed, a frighteningly manic laugh, that was reminiscent of Bellatrix at the height of her madness.

“Don’t you see…you can’t kill me. I’m dead already,” Harry said in a strangely conversational tone. “And now you’re all going to join me…”

Draco turned towards Drizzle, tears flowing down his cheeks. “Take me back, please. I get it, I really do. He will never be this, while I can prevent it. I swear it on my Magic. And I will never interfere in his timeline again. As I Swear It, So Mote It Be.” There was a snap as Magic accepted his vow, and Draco felt an almost overwhelming sense of relief that he could avert this eventuality in their own timeline.

Drizzle’s touch was cool and calming, drawing out the pain that Draco felt at seeing his brilliant, beautiful mate reduced to a violent psychopath, and replacing it with hope. Moments later they were back in the silent darkness of the cupboard under the stairs, with the warm light of the sitting room at Empyrean House showing through the hole in time that Harry had made.

They had come back at the very moment Harry had gone through, and Draco almost threw himself at the opening, desperate to get back to his bondmate. He stepped through into the warmth and straight into Harry’s arms, burying his face in the crook of his bonded’s neck, breathing him in as if he would never get enough of the scent.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Harry apologised, as he ran his fingers through Draco’s hair. “That bastard Scribbler reminded me so much of Uncle Vernon that I got a little lost in my head, and made an unplanned detour.”

Draco just wanted a little time for the two of them to reconnect; time to reassure that Harry didn’t know what he’d nearly done, and to remind himself that the things he had seen wouldn’t happen because Drizzle had stopped him making a major mistake.

“Can we go and lie down for a while?” he murmured.

Harry put a gentle finger under his chin and gazed deeply into Draco’s eyes, as if he could see all the secrets of the world hidden there.

“Yeah. It won’t hurt Tony and Sev to have a little longer to work things out.”

Taking a relieved Draco by the hand he led him to the staircase.

“It’s nearly over, Dray,” Harry promised.

Draco couldn’t help but be glad about that. He wasn’t sure he wanted to spend any more time in the past, not when one small pebble in the pond could cause a tsunami.

*****

“What do you want, Anthony?”

Tony thought he could come just from the sound of Sev’s voice alone, and oh Circe, the way he said his name. They’d been kissing for what seemed like hours, he could feel how bruised and swollen his lips were as he flicked his tongue across them.

Severus groaned at the movement. “You’re going to be the death of me, Anthony. You are sex incarnate.”

There was nothing Tony could do but go with it, as Severus pressed him back onto the bed and sprawled over him. For a man who’d been dead only days ago, Tony had to admit that the older man had bounced back well.

Their ‘conversation’ had lasted as long as it had taken for one of them – and Tony really had no idea who – had touched the other. That first physical contact had catapulted them from the stilted exchange of new acquaintances, to an almost silent communion of two bodies lost in one another.

As he thought about Severus’ question, Tony already knew what he wanted; what he was desperate for. But the little lost voice in the back of his mind was telling him not to count on anything and anybody. Although they were Soulmates, and should be ideal for one another, Tony had been hurt too many times to think it couldn’t go wrong for him.

“I was made for you,” Severus said, answering every fear with those five words. His smooth potion-stained fingers were working Magic on Tony’s nipples, his shirt hanging open, although tethered by his still knotted tie at the collar. Tony liked the feel of the tight silk around his throat; could almost believe it was something more…permanent.

Severus’ sleeping robes were rucked up around his waist, and there was only the thin linen of his undershorts and the wool of Tony’s suit pants between them. Tony could feel the heat and thickness of Sev’s huge cock as it rubbed over his own, making exquisite friction that wasn’t quite enough to get him any further than hard and leaking.

“What.Do.You.Want.Anthony?” Severus repeated, each word punctuated by a nip of his teeth on the tender skin around Tony’s neck.

It was a complete surprise to Tony when he heard his own voice answering, “Wanna be yours. My lover, my Soulmate.”

‘IDIOT’, he berated himself. Didn’t he know was ridiculous to ask for that when it was the thing that terrified him the most. What if his own Soulmate rejected him, after that there was nowhere else to go. His muscles tightened, as fear overtook his arousal. He was getting ready to run; it was the only sensible thing to do. Every time he’d got close to someone it hadn’t worked and he’d been left alone. He wasn’t sure he could face that pain again, especially not after Gibbs.

Severus tightened his hold on Tony’s shoulders. “The only reason your past affaire du coeur have failed, was because you are mine…you were meant for me. No other man or woman is capable of giving you what I can; Magically, physically, emotionally.”

Once again, Sev seemed to have some kind of mindreading powers, and Tony fleetingly wondered if he was using Legilimens.

“I’m scared,” he murmured, not really understanding why this man could unhinge him so much that he would admit that so openly.

“As am I,” Severus said tenderly. His dark eyes were filled with a compassion that those who knew him would have been amazed to see.

“You don’t understand.”

Tony covered his face with a trembling hand as he tried to explain the mistake Sev was making.

“I’m a fuck-up. A submissive who pretends otherwise, and who, when he actually is lucky enough to be with a dominant, finds it almost impossible to trust enough to let go; the pretty-boy joker who no one takes seriously. I won’t be an easy ride as a lover – I’ll fight you when I get scared.”

Tony looked away from the intense gaze of the man he was already half in love with – who if you believed the lore, had owned his heart from the moment he was conceived, or even before.

“I’m a hard man.” Severus replied, his warm weight on Tony’s body a welcome anchor in a sea of emotion as he gently pulled Tony’s hands from his eyes.

“I’m a dominant personality who is wary of exercising the power over others that I crave, as it reminds me of those who wielded power over me with little regard for my wishes. I am reticent and dour in the extreme. I have stared into the Darkness and barely survived.”

Tony wanted to cry. It was all too much and not enough. He needed Severus to take control. He reached up and pulled Sev’s heavy dark hair away from his face. The features were not classically handsome, but there was something about the other man’s face that drew Tony in, and made him want to spend hours worshipping him.

He knew Sev was holding back – waiting; that this was going to be his call. He swallowed hard and gathered all his bravery.

“Fuck me, please, Sev. Own me…”

*****

Severus didn’t need to be asked twice. His cock was aching to be buried in Tony, to join his mate to him irrevocably. He Accioed his wand and circled Tony’s hole with the very tip, whilst intoning the preparation spell, Lubrico tractum mundi.

He felt Tony shiver beneath him as the spell cleaned, stretched and lubricated him. The only downside of that particular charm was the lubrication tended to be cold, but Sev was planning on warming Tony up very quickly.

He muttered another charm under his breath, and Tony’s tie came undone and his shirt shimmied over his shoulders, partially trapping Tony’s arms at his sides.

“Oh, yeah. I fucking love Magic,” Tony said breathlessly, his muscles trembling in anticipation.

“Indeed.” Sev agreed, revelling in the submission of the man beneath him.

Tossing his wand to the side of the bed, Severus trailed an almost too delicate finger along Tony’s well-defined pectorals, across his firm stomach and, circumventing his cock, under his balls to press more firmly in just the right place on his perineum, causing his lover to moan delightfully, much to Sev’s pleasure.

“I’m going to find all your noises, my Anthony. I’m going to map each and every one, until I can play your body for my sole listening pleasure.”

With that promise, Severus pressed two, long fine fingers inside Tony, locating his prostate internally and using his thumb to press firmly externally.

Tony screamed with pleasure as Snape manipulated all his pleasure zones.

“Oh, Merlin…Sev please.”

It wasn’t in Severus’ nature to rush; pleasant sex, with his consent, had been such a rare occurrence in the last few years of the war, that when he chose a partner, even if it was just for one night, he liked to savour the experience. But as he had no intention of ever letting Tony go, there would be nights without end to play and tease.

Here and now though, he needed to feel that blissful heat and pressure around his cock. He needed to own this gorgeous man, his lover…his Soulmate, given to him by fate and Magic. He pressed three fingers in hard and fast and was gratified by the sound of approval Tony made.

Using Lubricus, he made sure his cock was glistening with oil before placing the fat head at Tony’s entrance.

“Look at me, Tony. I’m going to own you…”

Tony’s dark green gaze shot to his as he pressed in, feeling Tony’s body relax easily around him, allowing him entrance without any problem, despite his large size.

Severus couldn’t remember anything being so good. The heat, the pressure around his cock, the sound of Tony’s moans as he took every inch of Sev’s cock without pause. It was perfect.

And it wasn’t going to last…

Tony’s cock was trapped between their bellies, the pre-come and sweat lubricating the slip-slide of the hard flesh against their stomach muscles as Sev began to fuck into Tony without remorse.

Tony threw his hands above his head, tearing his shirt along the seams, as he grabbed a hold of the headboard, Sev’s hard thrusts pushing him bodily up the mattress.

Severus longed for the day when he would have Tony bound and helpless beneath him, begging to come. But the sight of him so open and pliant, taking everything Sev had to give him, was enough for this time.

It was inevitable that they would come together. The Magic of their Soulbond would accept nothing else for their first coupling. Eventually there would be words to say; promises to make, but this time was all about the physical; the base and animalistic. They were striving towards climax – making an offering of their orgasm to the fates.

“Come for me, Anthony.” Severus demanded.

With a scream of completion, Tony spurted between them, his whole body shaking with the force of it. The tight grasp of his internal muscles along the entire length of Severus’ cock, pulled his orgasm from him with a roar of triumph.

“Yours,” Tony sobbed joyously.

“Mine,” Sev agreed with the greatest of satisfaction.

*****

“So I’d say their little talk went well, wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, sounds like they have a lot in common.”

Harry and Draco left their listening station at the door to Severus’ bedroom, their enjoyment of the ‘conversation’ they’d heard, obvious by the large bulges in their trousers.

As they entered the Master Suite, Harry threw an unlocking charm at Sev’s bedroom door. It seemed Tony had finally found his stubborn, older, military man, in the body of an irascible, war-damaged warrior of a potions master.

It hadn’t been a part of ‘The Plan’, but Harry couldn’t be happier about that little unforeseen outcome.

*****

Early the next morning saw a rather shagged out Harry and Draco at the breakfast table. They’d given up trying to sleep after the third or fourth round of lovemaking, to refuel with a lush fresh fruit cocktail that Dobby had provided. The ingredients were so exotic that Harry was hard pressed to name all the different kinds in his bowl. The noises of appreciation that were coming from Draco made him give up trying, and he groaned at the way his cock twitched at every little moan from his bondmates mouth.

He was about to drag the blond across the table and taste the sweetness there, when a fully dressed and rather smug looking Severus entered the room and made straight for the kettle.

“Sev let me…I should do that,” Tony’s voice was husky and soft, and Harry noted how loose and replete his friend looked.

‘Good work, Severus,’ he thought with a smirk, which was reflected by Draco at his godfather’s back.

“You are not my butler, Anthony, and nor will you ever be. Now sit down and I will prepare your coffee.”

Draco’s eyebrow quirked and Harry could almost hear his lover’s commentary on how mellow Severus sounded.

Tony responded immediately to Severus, sitting at the table and turning a brilliantly happy smile on them both.

“We’re going to Diagon this morning. Sev needs to claim his Lordship ring and organise things at the bank. I thought I’d go with him…that is if you don’t need me for anything.”

Harry didn’t even have time to answer before Severus was joining them at the table.

“I want you to accompany me, Anthony. I’m sure Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath and Lord Malfoy can manage for a few hours. After all they do have several House Elves available to undertake any household tasks that may arise.”

There was a slight edge to the comment that made Harry a little irritated.

“Tony hasn’t ever, and will never be treated as a servant in my household, Snape. If he wants to go out with you then he can. His life has always been his own, and I have no intention of changing that – do you?”

To his surprise, Severus looked a little sheepish, and rather than arguing, simply gave a deep nod of apology.

“So can I go, Dad? Can I…Can I?” Tony quipped, bouncing a little in his seat, and changing the somewhat tense atmosphere immediately.

Harry gave Tony a mock glare. “As long as you behave, do as you are told and get back here at a decent hour…I don’t see why not.”

He then turned his gaze on Severus and this time his expression was not so false.

“And you will look after him, make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble.”

Severus held his hands up in surrender. “I do not need to be held at wandpoint in order to treat him as you would, sir…” he snarked.

With that, Draco began to giggle and before long they were all snorting and laughing, completely dispelling the tension of the moment.

As the last morsels of breakfast were eaten and the House Elves began to clear the table, Harry turned to them all with a rather mischievous expression.

“I want us all to spend the evening together. I have a little…entertainment planned, that I think you will all want to be part of.”

He could see they were all curious, but he wasn’t willing to say any more. He thought it would be good to keep it a surprise. For himself, he could hardly wait, but the idea of a few more hours in bed with Draco, while the other two men went to Gringotts was just as appealing, so he was willing to deal.

*****

Draco could feel arousal flushing his chest, as Harry trailed a fingertip sparking with Magic across his chest and around his nipples. The path of power was converted into a pale silver line that sank into Draco’s skin, leaving behind an indelible imprint.

He’d wanted Harry to mark him the night before – had begged him over and over, to bite him, scratch him, anything. He’d wanted to feel that sense of finally belonging to Harry – although they had traded off positions several times, he still preferred to be under his lover; covered by him.

But Harry had asked him to wait; had promised him that he would give him the mark he wanted – and that he could mark Harry in return. Draco had already placed his sigil on his bondmates skin – a deep green Dragon’s eye, lidded with iridescent scales, was blinking lazily at him from its place over Harry’s nipple. He was there forever now – Harry’s Dragon, watching over his lover’s heart.

“What…what will you draw?” He asked breathlessly, his arms trembling as he desperately grasped the headrail of the bed. Harry was buried deep inside him, and he wasn’t sure how his lover was managing to stay so still. The intimate connection between Harry’s cock and Draco’s ass, and the powerful Magic from Harry’s finger on his skin, was making a circuit that seemed to be filling him with heat from both inside and out.

Harry flicked his fingers at the canopy above their heads and it shimmered and solidified into a mirror.

“You kinky…b…bastard,” Draco groaned, as the vision of the place they were joined…Harry’s thick cock stretching him open…was reflected back at him. The sight was so erotic he had to fight not to come.

Harry leisurely rolled his hips, causing Draco’s eyes to roll back into his head in pleasure, as Harry traced the lines he had been placing on his lover’s skin.

“This is the Cloak of Invisibility,” Harry said, moving his fingers slowly around a silver triangle, the point of which began at Draco’s navel and widened across his chest, enclosing his nipples at the widest point. “The circle represents the Resurrection Stone,” he traced the shape as it filled the triangle.

“And the Elder Wand?” Draco murmured.

Harry dragged his finger down the centre of the Magical tattoo, setting Draco’s nerves sparking. As he reached the point of the triangle again, his finger didn’t stop and a cry of sheer pleasure was dragged from Draco’s throat, as Harry continued a line from his belly button along his treasure trail.

When it reached the base of his erection, Draco felt Harry trace a spiral up to the head and then back down again, making his cock pulse with the alluring power Harry was infusing into the line.

“And that, my beautiful, Dragon, is the Black Blade.”

Harry began to stroke into him, raking over his prostate with every surge of his heavy cock. Draco reached out to grab at his shoulders. Harry willingly leaned down, and gathered Draco into his arms, lifting him with negligent ease to sit on his lap, forcing his cock deeper inside.

Draco’s mind was empty of thought, the only sound he could hear was his own moans and Harry’s almost sub-vocal words of love and adoration. They rocked together in total harmony, Harry’s powerful thighs flexing under Draco’s arse as he ploughed into him over and over again.

“And when I finally let you come, my Dragon…” he murmured hoarsely.

Harry looked up, and gestured with his hand. Draco felt several invisible hands take hold of him, stretching his arms out to the sides as Harry dragged his fingers across the tattooed lines. Flinging his head back and looking up at the mirror, Draco saw Harry reflected there as he fucked into him hard one last time, and the design flared with brilliant silver light.

“…then it will shiiiine…” Harry cried out and Draco felt him pulse his heat deep inside.

The rush of Magic that lit up the sign of the Deathly Hallows, raced through the lines and spiralled up his cock and into his slit, drawing a line of heat into the very core of him, and then raced back out again this time making Draco scream as he came hard, the pearlescent lines of come melding with the mark of his Love…his Harry…his Master Lord.

*****

“Lord Harry James Potter-Black-De’Ath, Master of Death, Lord of the Black Blade. I bring you greetings from the House of Prince.”

Snape placed the hand wearing his Lordship rings over his heart, and gave a deep bow to Harry that reflected his status as belonging to the most Ancient Magical House in the world – after all there was no House older than that of Death.

“Lord Draco Lucian Severin Malfoi, Earl Denmar, Consort De’Ath. I bring you greetings from the House of Prince.”

Once again Snape repeated the ritual bow to Draco, who smiled back ecstatically at his godfather.

Harry almost rolled his eyes at the overly formal address, but then chided himself for not realising that this was as much for Severus as it was for him. The man had finally received his rightful place as a Peer in the Magical World, and it was only proper that it should be recognised.

“Well met, Lord Severus Tobias Snape-Prince of Avalon, Duke of Deshault,” he replied, before noting with surprise a third ring on Sev’s finger. “And I see, Baron of the no longer defunct House of Montmorency. You are most welcome as friend and equal in this my home and all other holdings of my line.”

Severus was wearing an expression Harry had never seen on his face before – one of true contentment and pride. It made Harry feel a real sense of accomplishment that he had given justice to both these men – these special men in his life.

But it seemed that Severus had not finished.

“May I introduce my betrothed, Lord Anthony Marcus DiNozzo-Paddington, Viscount Belvoir.”

Harry couldn’t help the way his mouth fell open, as Tony looked anxiously over at his fiancé and received a smile, and a reassuring nod, before he also bowed to Harry and Draco, the hand over his heart once again showing the rings of his inheritance, alongside a band of what looked like pure blue Frost Fae diamond; there was no doubt in Harry’s mind that it was the Prince betrothal ring.

Harry repeated his welcome to Tony, although it seemed somewhat redundant. Suddenly he was overwhelmed by a huge hug from his dearest friend, who was happily shedding a few tears into Harry’s neck.

“I didn’t know…my mom…oh Harry, my mom.”

*****

It had taken over thirty minutes to get Tony calm enough to tell the story of their visit to the Bank. Dobby and Drizzle had brought a cream tea to the sitting room, while Severus had simply sat Tony down on the couch, tucked his lovers hand in his own and held him until the trembling subsided. Seeing that Tony was still a little overwhelmed, Severus decided to start.

“The Goblins reacted really strangely when we arrived at the bank. It seemed to take the Prince account manager a moment or two to accept what I was there for. When we finally got into her office, she made me take the inheritance test twice before she would accept it.”

Sev looked to Harry for any explanation. The younger man frowned for a moment and then looked to Drizzle, who seemed to be the font of all knowledge when it came to the effects of time-line change, or so it appeared to Severus.

“Thou shouldst not forget that Goblins are not human, Master Lord. The effects of time change are more keenly felt by those of creature blood. The Elves ensconced at Prince Manor wilt also recognise that there has been a change – but they will not question thee, for thy claim is righteous.”

Severus supposed it made sense. Witches and Wizards, himself included could be terribly blind about the Magical abilities of the other races. He nodded his thanks to the little being for the information and continued.

“Well, once she had accepted my petition for my legacy, my claiming of the Lordship rings went smoothly. Although the Baronetcy had been defunct when my Great-grandfather’s will was written, my Grandfather had made an appeal to the Muggle Queen Victoria and it had been reinstated, hence the extra title. I now own several Houses, including Prince Manor; have title or part title to most of the major potion ingredient farms in Europe, and have full ownership of 5000 branches of Escutcheons Exemplary Elixirs worldwide.”

He had to take a deep breath to stave off the impending panic that had been bubbling away in his gut since he had seen the Gringotts legers. For a man who had spent most of his life at war, and living on a professor’s salary, it all felt a little ridiculous. How he was supposed to begin making inroads into the workings of an estate so huge he wasn’t sure.

“Oh, Sev. That’s fucking brilliant,” Draco’s eyes were shining with genuine joy and affection. “If you need any help with the legal stuff…”

The relief was palpable. That was exactly what he needed, and neither he nor Tony had the necessary expertise. His hand was squeezed gently, and he realised with an upwelling of joy, that his Soulmate was right there, and would be for the rest of his life. He didn’t have to do any of it alone.

“Thank you, Draco. That would be wonderful.”

He fought against the emotion that prickled his eyes, and as Tony seemed to recognise he was overwhelmed, he took up his part of the story.

“Sev had already asked me if I would wear the Prince betrothal ring this morning, and I’d said yes…”

A faint blush smudged across Tony’s gorgeous face, as it lit up with a smile, and Severus found it difficult to believe that the beautiful young man was his. He was gratified to see that the joy was reflected in Potters face too. He hadn’t fancied fighting the obviously close attachment the two men had if Harry had opposed their bonding.

“…So after she’d had it retrieved from the Prince vault, we actually got up to leave. Then Cracknuts, the account manager, queried why I had not requested to see my account manager.”

Tony grinned over at Harry.

“I told her that the only vaults I had access to were yours and she actually snorted at me. ‘Your matriarch’s will has not yet been read, that is why. Once that has been accomplished, and you have claimed your inheritance, then the Paddington vaults will be available to you.’ She said it all snotty, like I should have known and had just been lazy about it, and I almost fainted. My father always told me my mom had been part of an impoverished pureblood family, and he’d married her despite her having no proper bride price to offer, as if he did her a fucking favour. Now I find that was just a front on her part to keep him away from her family money, and that she actually left me vaults – plural!”

Severus couldn’t help the sneer at the mention of Anthony DiNozzo Snr. He remembered him very well, although he hadn’t told Tony everything he knew about his father. It seemed the younger man wanted to forget his sire, and Severus wasn’t at all surprised. He felt the same way.

“Turns out, she was the only child of Lord Orpheus Paddington, Viscount Belvoir, and although my father had tried many times to find out about her family holdings, her will could only be opened and read by me. Hence I am now not only the owner of two titles, seven vaults, and Merlin knows how much land, but also – and this got Sev all hot and bothered – a Magical snake farm in India. Which he informed me will supply some of the rarest and esoteric of potion ingredients which are necessary for Escutcheons. I mean… he kissed me…right there in the middle of the bank. I thought he was going to rip my clothes off and do me right there.”

Tony grinned cheekily at Sev, and the man found he couldn’t fault the rendition of his reaction. Then Tony held out his hand, turning it this way and that, showing off the rings to Harry and Draco, and Severus couldn’t help the jolt of arousal at the sight of the Prince betrothal ring encircling his ring finger. He wanted nothing more than to see Tony naked of everything but that precious blue diamond and writhing under him in ecstasy. His cock agreed wholeheartedly that it was an objective to be rigorously pursued.

His mind was dragged, very unhappily, out of his pants by a sudden yell of excitement from Harry.

“But…Fuck…You know what this means…We don’t have to rely on squeezing out any Wizengamot votes from those right-wing, pureblood fuckers. Between us all we’ll have…” he stared over at Draco, who was biting his lip in concentration.

“Dobby, find me the…”

His godson turned a questioning gaze on Severus.

“When did your Baronetcy become defunct originally?”

“1740, according to the family tree that was generated by my inheritance test – it was reinstated by Queen Victoria in 1899.”

“OK, so Dobby I need Cholmondeley’s Wizarding Bloodlines Volume XCVI. K to M.”

Dobby clicked his fingers and a huge tome landed on the coffee table in front of them, narrowly missing toppling the dainty cake stand, and rattling the bone china cups in their saucers.

It took several minutes and quite a bit of discussion, for Draco to work out the votes available for their respective families but eventually they came to a tally.

“So with Longbottom’s votes we already hold 158 votes out of a possible 300, which gives us more than 50% of the votes available. There are several members who don’t attend, mostly because they are too busy in Azkaban, so we can swing any vote we want, on the issues we want.” Draco summarised.

“Yes,” Harry hissed triumphantly, giving a strange little fist pump in the air.

“And exactly which votes do you want us to affect, Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath?”

Severus was very curious as to what the final goal of the young Master of Death was, not that he had any real concerns. It was obvious that the Potter Lord’s Magic was Grey in nature, which was unsurprising given the mantle he had been given by Death. But the way he had affected the lives of the others in the room told Severus that Harry was not looking to take over the Wizarding World…Well maybe only in a political sense.

Harry leaned forward excitedly.

“There are so very many laws the Wizengamot has passed over the last fifteen years, all of which were manipulated into place by the Old Bastard. Now we’ve put elements in place that will have taken him out of the picture in this time line – but because we couldn’t affect his death directly, those laws are still in place.”

Severus frowned, not really understanding what Harry meant, but his questions were halted by Draco’s shaking head.

“Don’t ask, Sev. Really. Not unless you want a migraine. I think there is only one being in this room who would get it apart from Harry, and I think even he bluffs his way through some of the time.”

Drizzle looked particularly smug at that, and Severus decided he didn’t want to know enough to get into a debate with an ancient dead House Elf, so he let it go and turned his attention back to Harry, who continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted.

“So now we have to try to dismantle the laws from the inside. We can begin to change the way those with creature blood are treated; have greater input into the education our children receive and where; make stronger and more advantageous treaties with the Muggle world, as our counterparts in other parts of the world have done. We can then use those to increase opportunities for import and export of goods and services; modernise the infrastructure of our towns and villages; and encourage the reclamation of some of the Magical land and properties that have either been appropriated by Muggles or have fallen in to disrepair. We can give the Elders in our communities the opportunity to teach Ritual Magic to our youth, and reawaken an interest in the more spiritual aspects of Magic; reconvene the long lost Covens and Conclaves so that we can relearn how to cast Magic together instead of in isolation. If Dumbledore had allowed Wizardom to think as a community, then Voldemort could never have gained the support he needed. He would have lost before he’d even Marked one follower.”

Severus was overwhelmed. This astute, resourceful and passionate man was not the Harry Potter he thought he knew – not the Harry who had entered Hogwarts a beaten and ragged child, and then spent his school years being manipulated and pursued by Dark and Evil forces on both sides of the coin. Instead this was a real leader; politically, emotionally, and economically intelligent. A leader who Severus would be glad…proud to put his resources behind; a man who could bring the Wizarding World back to the height of its powers.

Tony’s hand clenched in Sev’s, his enthusiasm for this new cause seeming just as great as Harry’s. Despite Britain not being the land of his birth, it was obvious he was just as invested as the rest of them in putting right the wrongs that had been perpetrated by Dumbledore in the name of the ‘Greater Good’ – for which read ‘Dumbledore’s Own Benefit’.

Severus was proud to have this man as his Soulmate; a man who would stand with his friends…his family, and fight for what they believed in. He pulled Tony to him and kissed him hard, pouring all his love, passion and pride into the connection between them. When they finally pulled apart, Tony was starry eyed and plump lipped, and Harry and Draco had twin expressions of happiness.

“Then where do we start?” Severus felt a new sense of purpose infusing him.

The smile Harry gave them all was feral.

“First I have something to show you…Something I have wanted to put right for Draco and Sev since I was frozen on top of the Astronomy Tower nearly 16 years ago…”

And with that he gestured for them all to stand and began to clear the room.

*****

The room was organised almost exactly as before, except the biggest couch was still sitting in the middle of the room. Draco was confused. He’d thought they were going to go into the timeline, but apparently that wasn’t the case.

“Harry? What’s going on?”

“Severus and Tony can’t join us in the timestream. You’re protected by the Dragon Ring and I’m…well you know why I can go in there. Drizzle and Dobby live there. But this is something we all need to see – I’m not going to change anything, we’re just going to watch.”

Harry summoned the Hallows, getting a gasp of shock from Sev when they appeared. Draco looked over to see his Godfather was gazing raptly at each artefact, a scientist’s zeal for knowledge written all over his face. Draco was sure he didn’t have a hope in Hades of getting anywhere near them.

Instead of the normal top to bottom slice, Harry began to trace a large rectangle in front of the wall facing the couch.

Tony, who up until then had been quietly snuggled against his mate, jumped up and sprinted to the door.

“If we’re watching a movie, then we’ll need popcorn.”

“I believe we are looking back in time, not watching some inane entertainment,” Severus snarked. But Tony was already gone.

“All he had to do was ask the Elves,” Draco commented, but Harry shook his head, grinning as he walked back to the couch and pulled Draco to sit snuggled beside him.

“He always says it tastes funny when it’s made with Magic. It’s OK. I bought him a popping machine a couple of birthdays ago. It only takes a few minutes.”

Sure enough, by the time they were all settled with a large bowl of sweet, buttery corn between each couple, only ten minutes had gone by.

“So,” Severus drawled. “Are you going to tell us what we are to see?”

Draco shivered at the Dark expression that flittered across Harry’s face. He slid his hand into his lover’s lap and found Harry’s hands fisted there. Gently he prized the clawed fingers open and intertwined their grasp. Harry’s shoulders slowly untensed, and he smiled gently at Draco, before landing a chaste peck on his lips.

“OK. So we are going about sixteen years into the past…”

Harry made a slightly different movement with the Blade than Draco had seen before, and they were suddenly watching a scene that had haunted Draco’s nightmares for years.

The top of the Astronomy Tower.

There he was, just a young teen, standing in front of Dumbledore with the Elder Wand in his hand.

“We’re looking through my eyes,” Harry told them. “And they can’t see or hear us. It will unfold exactly as you both remember, except for one or two very subtle differences. Dumbledore had used Petrificus Totalus on me, and slung my invisibility cloak over my body.

Draco felt rather than saw as Severus tensed up beside him. “Anthony…what you are about to see…Dumbledore had a very short time left to live. He had put on a cursed ring…the very ring our Lord Potter wears now…and it was killing him.”

Malfoi sent a mental thank you to the American, as Tony rested his head on Sev’s shoulder and the tension flowed out of Severus like water.

“I know…It’s fine. Harry’s told me all about this.”

Severus gave a sigh. “Dumbledore told me Draco had been ordered by the Dark Lord to kill him, and he said that he didn’t want a young man to have that on his conscience. He ordered me not to be swayed; that even if he begged me, I should not fail in my duty to him and to Harry. As I had made a vow to keep Harry safe, I had no choice but to agree.”

Draco frowned. “The funny thing was…I have no recollection of meeting with Voldemort or being given an order, or even of how I got up to the Astronomy Tower. I don’t remember casting the Expelliarmus that placed the wand in my hand…”

“Because it was all a set up.”

Harry sat forward a little, his eyes never leaving the ‘screen’.

“He used a charm on you, Draco and implanted false memories, knowing you’d go to Sev for help. He wanted you and Sev to be fugitives – and for me to be there so I would hate you, so I wouldn’t want you near me. Dumbledore didn’t want me to die however, and the likelihood was that I would’ve if I’d met Voldemort, as untrained as I was. That would have thwarted his plans to replace my soul with his own, and give him access to my power and wealth. He planned to do so using the black crystal he is holding in his left hand…see?”

Severus was now also sitting forward, his shrewd eyes taking in every detail of the scene.

“A transference crystal. Who was he going to swop consciousness with? I’m such a fool…how did I not see it…”

“You were too busy saving me.” Draco clenched his fist in anger, and only managed to calm down when Harry rubbed a gentle thumb across his knuckles.

“That particular crystal would only transfer two souls of the same blood. He was going to exchange bodies with his brother, Aberforth, which was why he told you not to stop from killing him, even if he begged. He thought he was going to be long gone from his body by the time you cast Avada. However, Draco and I took a little trip to a time before he got his hands on it, and…adapted the crystal…”

Tony chuckled. “So the old bastard thinks he’s going to be able to use it, but it isn’t going to work the way he thinks?”

“Not even that,” Harry said darkly. “Truth is…it isn’t going to work at all.”

They all watched as the scene unfolded. First Draco struggling to come to terms with what Dumbledore was telling him, that he had been ordered to kill the old man. Then Severus arrived, black Death Eater robes flapping in the wind at the top of the tower.

Back in the sitting room Draco felt his godfather shiver, as the Snape on the ‘screen’ drew Draco behind him and raised his wand.

With hindsight it was obvious what no one had seen at the time; Dumbledore mumbling under his breath, and rubbing the length of crystal in his hand with a gnarled thumb. After a few seconds, the old man frowned, obviously surprised when nothing had happened. He tried again, and this time he was less circumspect about it, but still the crystal didn’t obey the murmured incantation. A panicked expression bloomed on Albus’ face.

“No…Severus…you do not understand. I made a mistake. You don’t have to do this. I can be cured, I’m sure of it…”

Back in Empyrean House, Severus shook his head. “That is where things have become different. He was much more incoherent the first time. Obviously Aberforth would be completely disorientated by the force of the transference. The old man knows exactly what’s going on.”

Draco chuckled darkly. “This time, he’s realised what a major mistake he’s made.”

The final moments moved as if they were on fast forward, with the sickly green light of the AK flashing across the tower, and Dumbledore’s body flying backwards and toppling over the rampart.

Harry rose quickly and made a stabbing motion at the hole in time, incanting, ‘Frigidus in tempore’, and causing everything to freeze. Draco shuddered, recognising the effect from Drizzle’s object lesson about the timeline.

“Join me all of you,” Harry ordered and they all walked with him to stand in front of the hole he had made. With a murmured incantation, their view changed, and Dumbledore’s frightened face filled the scene. Another word or two and Draco gasped as the old man blinked and looked back at them with eyes cloudy with terror.

“Harry, my boy…Severus…Draco? What is…”

“Save your breath, old man.”

Harry sneered as he took another step forward, putting him almost nose to nose with the headmaster.

“I just wanted you to know something, before you fall to a painful death.”

He gestured to the four of them, and gave a feral smile, completely lacking in humour.

“You failed, Albus. We won the war. I killed Voldemort, and brought together the Hallows and became the Master of Death. Then I saved Snape and Malfoi from the fate you had planned for them. Many years have passed, Headmaster. Draco and I are bonded, and Severus and my best friend, Tony are betrothed.

“Everything you wanted to achieve? The four of us are going to Tear. Right. Down. And when we have done that, I will make sure the Wizarding World remembers you for what you are…An amoral, evil, Dark Wizard who used people like pawns to gain his own ends. Goodbye Dumbledore. You’re going to rot in Hell – I can assure you of that.”

With a nod in his direction, Drizzle and Dobby walked sedately into the scene, each Elf taking one of Dumbledore’s hands. The old man screamed as the two Elves stepped away from his physical body, with the hazy figure of what Draco surmised could only be Dumbledore’s soul stretched between them. Drizzle clicked her fingers and they all simply…disappeared.

Finally, Harry gave one last movement of the Blade, and the scene unfroze. Once again their point of view changed, as they followed the trajectory of the body over the top of the tower and into the night. Dumbledore’s expression was now slack and unseeing, as the stones of Hogwarts flashed past his body.

Draco felt no shame in squeezing his eyes closed as the body neared the bottom. The strange whump as it hit the ground was sickening enough, without having to see the evidence that Dumbledore’s physical body had died spread across the stones of Hogwarts.

“Revenge…” Severus whispered, his tone filled with dark satisfaction.

Tony and Draco exchanged a worried glance across the room. They both knew the consequences of that kind of vengeance on Harry and his Magic.

But they had no need for concern. Harry turned and pressed a firm hand to Severus’ shoulder, pulling the other man’s gaze from the mangled remains of their nemesis.

“No, not revenge, my friend…Justice.”

*****

3 months later…

“So Tony and I will pick up the kids off the carriage at Dover Cliffs, while Draco and Sev can wait back at the house. I’m sure there won’t be any problems. Our visit to Beauxbatons last month went well, and they are already excited about moving to Prince Manor.” …”

“I’m glad you decided to move in with us. I didn’t want to be separated from them. I’ve been looking after them since they were born.”

“Well, it really wasn’t a hard decision. We’ve all enjoyed living at Empyrean together.”

“James was sold immediately on the Manor Quidditch Pitch, and both Lily and Sebastian are desperate to spend time in the lab with the man who found the cure for Lycanthropy…”

“Which was only possible because of the Magical Taipan Venom that was available on Anthony’s farm in India.”

The four highest Lords of the Wizarding World were moving confidently down the corridor of the Ministry of Magic. While their clothes and bearing marked them out as fabulously wealthy, the sheer magnitude of Magical power they exuded was enough to prove to anyone they met that they were not to be trifled with. People skittered out of their way as they strode towards the Meeting Chamber of the Wizengamot.

“Lord Potter-Black-De’Ath…Sir…hold on a moment…please…”

Harry, Draco, Severus and Tony all turned to the sound of the worried, panting voice. Harry grinned at Draco when he realised that the tall thin man with flyaway hair racing towards them, was none other than Donal Doherty. He was wearing the somewhat gaudy ceremonial robes of the Clerk to the Chambers – an important role within the organisation of the Wizengamot.

“Looks like he worked his way up,” Harry murmured happily, glad they had been able to affect his fortunes so well.

“Good man,” Draco agreed.

“My Lord, I know you were hoping to take up your seats and address the Chamber in a few moments, but there will be a slight delay.”

“Oh yes?” Severus queried, in his best and most silky tones. “And why would that be the case?”

The young man had never been taught by Potions Master Snape, so had no frame of reference, but Donal shivered visibly nonetheless.

“My Sev’s still got it,” Tony whispered sotto-voce, and Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing out loud.

Donal’s ears flushed a deep red as he continued.

“I’m afraid the Chief Warlock, Aberforth Dumbledore has resigned. He said he didn’t even know how we’d conned him into the job, and that he missed his goats.”

This time it was Tony who was holding back, but he did a far worse job of it than Harry had, as he stuffed his fist into his mouth, snorting loudly. He was so uncontrolled, he had to be taken to one side of the corridor and pressed against a wall by his Soulmate. Mouth to mouth seemed to be the only thing that was working, but where Tony was concerned, Severus was a Master.

For a moment Donal watched them with thinly disguised envy, but then seemed to remember his task and turned back to Harry.

“The Wizengamot is taking a vote, My Lord, as to who should take up the role, it may take a few…”

The door to the Chamber banged open, and the incumbent Minister of Magic – a tall, thin, sour faced man by the name of Paracelsus Robins, came striding out.

“I don’t know how you’ve managed it, Potter,” he spat viciously. “But I have been ordered by the Chamber to offer you the position of Chief Warlock.”

Harry flicked a glance at the other three men…his family…and received two broad grins, and a snarky smile in return. Oh, they hadn’t even considered the possibility, but this would make the job so much easier.

“Then who am I to refuse.” Harry gave the man a graceful, but insincere bow, before following it with a hard and unrelenting glare. “And I have a title, Robins…be sure to use it in the future, otherwise you may find yourself facing me across a duelling stage.”

Robins paled, as he swallowed back his temper. With a low bow, properly befitting of Harry’s status, he preceded Harry through the open door.

“My Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot. I present Lord Harry James Potter-Black-De’Ath, your newly appointed Chief Warlock.”

Harry swept through the doorway and his Lordship robes were immediately Magically enhanced by a broad gold sash, bearing the insignia of the Chief Warlock. At the same time, a thick Ebony Staff of Office, topped with a huge moonstone, appeared in his right hand.

He ascended the four shallow steps that lead to the dais, and took his seat on the ceremonial throne. He waited as his three companions entered the circular room, favouring the full Chamber with a magnanimous smile before speaking.

“Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot. I thank you for your faith in my ability to take on this important role in our government. I will endeavour to hold true to the tenets of our society, and to always keep in the forefront of my mind the role of this Chamber as Champion of our Lady Magic.”

He placed his hand on the seal of the Chamber and a pale blue light washed over him. All around the room there were gasps, as his Magic was revealed to be almost limitless in power. Harry couldn’t help but feel gratified that the Magic inherent in the Chamber, which had been laid down over thousands of years, had accepted him so readily.

“Now before we begin the matters at hand, I nominate the proxy for the Potter-Black-De’Ath votes, to my bondmate, Lord Draco Malfoi-Denmar-De’Ath.” He nodded over to Draco, who was already seated behind the seal of the Malfoi family.

There were murmurs from the gathered Nobility, but nothing that seemed in any way negative. There was a little flurry of movement in the gallery that told Harry their bonding would be in the newspapers that evening, but they’d been prepared for that to happen.

“I would also like to introduce to the Chamber for the first time, Lord Severus Deshault-Montmorency-Prince, and his Bondmate Lord Anthony Paddington-Belvoir-Prince.”

Both men took their respective seats, which again lit with their family seals. As he watched, Harry couldn’t help thinking despite how disparate their experiences had been, and the strange turns they had taken on their journeys to this point, all three men perfectly embodied everything a modern Wizard should be; powerful, intelligent and brave. Although he had to admit to more than a little bias where Draco, Tony and Severus were concerned.

“Very well. As my first duty as Chief Warlock I wish to bring before this Chamber a very grave issue; one which has affected both myself and my children. I wish to call for the immediate arrest of the following citizens: Ginevra Molly Weasley, Ronald Bilius Weasley, Molly Mathilda Weasley and Hermione Jean Granger-Weasley.”

“Seal the Chamber!”

The cry went up from the head of the DLME, Seamus Finnegan, and it was obvious from his glare that the man was not happy at Harry’s request.

The booming sound of the locks falling on the Chamber was almost overwhelmed by the swell of sound from the gallery, which showed no signs of abating, until Harry banged his staff several times on the ground to get their attention.

“My Lord Chief Warlock, before the proposed arrests can be made, I must ask for your evidence as to their wrongdoing as per Statute 11 subsection 5 of the Wizengamot codes of practice.”

Harry had also expected the law would be followed to the letter, especially as Seamus and Ron were still very good friends. He glanced over at Draco, whose smile communicated unending support and love. Taking a deep breath, he began to make his case.

“It will no doubt be a shock to you all that I should call for the arrest of these four people, for they are Witches and Wizards who have not only been feted as shining examples of the Light, but who have, since my entrance into the Wizarding World as an eleven-year-old orphan, been considered my family.

“Believe me, I wish it were not necessary, but I am of the opinion that Justice must be seen to be done if we are to maintain order in our society, despite the reputation of those accused. So I consider it my duty to bring this grave issue to the attention of this august body.

“The story I have to tell is a long and painful one that began immediately after my victory over Voldemort…”

End

 

 

 

 

 

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