A Pawn of Two Masters

For easier downloading, this story and most of my others are available on AO3, under the same name, tkbenjamin

Severus Snape/Sirius Black

30,800 words

NC17

Voldemort is gone. Severus notices something strange and decides to investigate. From then on his life changes and it’s all for the better.

CHAPTER ONE

The first time Severus Snape saw Albus Dumbledore cast a spell on a piece of parchment and hand it to a nondescript brown postal owl, he barely paid it an attention. The Dark Lord had been destroyed a few days earlier and their world was in disarray. He had come to the old man’s office to discuss the upcoming Death eater trails and his part in them. So he blinked at the owl and thought nothing of it.

The second time he had walked in on Dumbledore, call me Albus, and saw the wand movements of a spell being cast on a piece of parchment before that parchment was handed to the another nondescript brown postal owl, that looked very much like the other postal owl, maybe even was the very same one, Severus paid a touch more attention. After all, the very same thing had happened on the very same day just a measly seven day before, and Severus didn’t believe in coincidence. He was again in the headmaster’s office to discuss the next set of Death Eaters and trials. As he sat back in his rooms later he couldn’t shake a niggling at the back of his mind.

He pulled out the tiny bronze penseive his mother had left him with the Prince family crest and set it on the table before him. He touched his wand to his temple and extracted a single memory. He released it into the bowl and before he could second guess himself he dove in after it.

He had walked around the memory of Dumbledore time and time again and each time he came to the same conclusion. The wand movements Albus was completing looked very much like a Compulsion Charm. A Compulsion Charm set on a parchment which was then sent to someone else.

Severus left the Pensieve as fast as he could. He couldn’t fly into a rage inside one of the few items left to him from his Prince line. His mother had not had much to leave him, but what she had, he treasured.

As soon as he was back on his feet he carefully withdrew his memory and took it back into his mind. Gently he placed his Penseive safely back in its box and with now shaking hands he locked the lid before placing a glamour over the box and a Notice Me Not Charm on it. Then he set it back on the bookshelf. Having been appointed as the new Potions Professor at Hogwarts had few perks as they say, but generously proportioned and furnished rooms were much appreciated. If only he could say the same about his employer.

Severus strode to a muggle liquor cabinet and flung it open. Inside he kept a supply of muggle alcohol and cheap muggle glassware. He filled a glass with brandy and threw it back in one huge swallow. He repeats this action three more times before he flung the glass at the wall and sank to his knees as glass rained to the floor.

He knew his previous master had been a sadistic, evil lunatic, but Merlin, had he just exchanged one for another? Surely no Wizard steeped in the light had a use for compulsion Charmed letters? Severus curled around himself and fell into a fitful sleep, tears still slipping out from under his lids hours later, even as he slept.

The annoying sound of his Wake Me Alarm roused Severus. A flick of his wrist and a little wandless magic gave his aching head blessed silence. He struggled to his feet and staggered to his ensuite. Spending a night on the floor even at his age was not a good idea. He downed a Hangover Cure and a mild Pain Go before brushing his teeth and setting the right temperature for his shower. He peeled himself out of his wrinkled robes and stepped under the heavenly water. As he scrubbed every inch of himself clean he went over the plans he had made in his sleep. Yes, he might have gone from one lunatic to another, but there was nothing to say he couldn’t throw a spanner in the works, as the muggle saying went.

The third time Severus entered Dumbledore’s office as per his appointment, he was a few minutes early and Albus bade him sit in the little sitting area and wait. Severus did so. As he sat however he threw a wandless tracking charm at the plain, nondescript brown owl’s leg and felt it settle on the leather binding thong all postal owls wore to attach packages to. Wherever this owl went, Severus was going to follow and get a few answers.

*****

Severus watched disillusioned from across the street as a thin beak nosed woman tended her perfect roses in the front yard, all the while he could hear a baby wailing in the house. Beside her on a picnic rug rolled a fat, happy baby, which she often fussed at. This baby was around twenty four months or less and obviously spoilt rotten already. Severus bit his lip and racked his brain, the woman seemed familiar, but he couldn’t place her. He’d been watching her for a quarter hour. The owl had landed here, his Charm said so, but who was she? And why was Albus Dumbledore, arguably the most powerful wizard alive, be sending Compulsion Charmed missives to a muggle. He narrowed his eyes and cast a quick Listening Charm on himself as a tiny woman stopped in front of the rose bush currently receiving so much attention.

“Good afternoon Petunia. Lovely day,” Severus heard and stopped breathing.

“Afternoon Arabella. Yes it is,” Petunia replied with a sniff.

“Harry crying again?” Arabella queried.

“Colic I’m afraid. I’m trying to keep Dudley here from catching it. Harry’s a sickly boy I’m afraid, but after the state of his parents it’s not really a surprise. After all his father and Lily were drunks…” Severus stopped listening. Now he knew who she was. She was Petunia Evans, Lily’s bigoted older sister. The woman had hated magic and magic users as a child and now she was raising Lily’s son? The babe every magical in England and perhaps Europe had to thank for ending their days of darkness? Merlin, what in all the seven hells was wrong with Dumbledore? Had he left Harry here knowing what the child would face? Severus fisted his metaphysical hands in his control and held on tightly. He couldn’t fly off the broomstick. He had to think clearly.

He waited until till Petunia was alone with her baby again and walked over to her perfect little house. Trusting in his Disillusioned state he cast a diagnostic charm in her and read the results while biting his lip. Yes she was being Compelled. Compelled to look after Harry and practically ignore him at the same time. Severus growled under his breath and made for the house and wailing babe.

The noise seemed to come from under the stairs. Severus stood in front of the door and grit his teeth. He pulled the door open and stared. A baby lay on a filthy mattress in the dark and dank. He was naked and his hands and feet showed blue tinges. A threadbare rug was pooled near his head and Severus thanked Merlin baby Harry hadn’t suffocated himself with it.

Severus gave a small smile as Harry stopped crying and wiggled his tiny naked body around until he was crawling towards him. Obviously trying to make for the open doorway, Severus thought. He was shocked when the baby stopped right in front of him and flopped himself over to sit on his bottom, arms raised over his head. Severus chuckled when he realised Harry’s eyes were on his own. “You’re your parents’ son, Potter. Powerful and smart if you can see through my Disillusionment. Now the question is, what am I going to do with you?” Severus whispered as he bent down to lift Harry into his arms. His breath stuttered as Harry buried himself into Severus’s neck.

Severus didn’t even blink at himself as he conjured a soft, warm babies blanket. He cast a few mild cleaning charms over the baby in his arms before wrapping him in the blanket carefully. He closed the door under the stairs again, included the baby in the Disillusionment and after removing his magical signature from the house, walked away, baby Harry held safely in his arms.

Five blocks away he Apparated. The only thought in his brain, I have to find somewhere safe for Lily’s child. When he and his precious burden set again on Terra Firma, Severus looked around him confused. He stood beyond magically sealed gates, with a Coat of Arms baring a snake on them. A pop sounded in front of him, a house elf stood between him and the gates.

“Master Wizard will please drop Disillusionment if yous want to enter Black Manor,” it ordered and Severus was so shocked at where he was, he obeyed.

The Elf nodded once. “You will follow Breeksy. I is Black Manor Head Elf. My Lord Arcturus says he will see Potions Master Snape and babe in study.”

Not quite knowing what to do, Severus followed after the tiny elf. Down a gravel pathway, where Elder trees lined both sides, their branches making an impenetrable canopy high overhead. As they reached a slight bend in the path, Breeksy stopped and waited for Severus to catch up. He held a small hand up and Severus reluctantly took it. A snap of Breeksy’s fingers later and Severus tightened his hold on Harry as they Popped gently inside a marble lined hall.

“Point to Point Apparition, Master Potions Master Snape. Only we’d elves and the Lord can activates it. Follow please.” And Severus followed. Down the hall and to a dark wooden door. Breeksy knocked once then threw open the door and practically pushed Severus inside.

“Breeksy will send Dewie with tea Lord Master. You will drink it.” And with that tiny order the door shut firmly and Severus could only gape at his host.

Lord Arcturus Black was formidable. Ramrod straight and wearing silver embroidered robes, there was no mistaking his power or authority. Severus swallowed hard, lost for words and feeling rather self conscious.

“Your reason for darkening my doorstep Snape,” Lord Black barked out.

Severus sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Truthfully I do not know Sir. When I apparated with baby Harry I did not intend to come here. I only wanted somewhere safe for him. That is what I was begging from Magic. We were set down outside your gates.”

Lord Black’s eyebrows had very nearly reached the beginning of his bald pate. They had risen higher and higher with each word. He slowly walked from in front of the fireplace to his desk before he settled himself into the leather armchair. He indicated Severus use the chair in front of the desk and Severus gladly set his tired frame into it. It had been a long day.

A Pop and tiny clatter announced the house elf with tea. The laden tray was soon settled on the desk. A wave of the elf’s hand and tea started to pour itself into delicate China cups and biscuits sorted themselves onto matching saucers. “Please ask for milk and sugar as you please Master Potions Master,” the little elf told Severus. He nodded once and quietly thanked her.

“Yes, thank you Dewie. Can you please find, make ready and bring the Black Family Cradle. It seems we have need of it,” Lord Black ordered gently. Dewie smiled and bobbed her head, then Popped away. “While she’s gone Snape, start from the beginning, and I mean the very beginning. Before Hogwarts even. Actually, start with your childhood.” Black demanded.

Severus bristled. “I hardly think-” he began before Black talked right over him.

“That’s right boy, you hardly think and when you do you come up with the wrong answers. You’re a brilliant Potionier, but you have no real understanding of humanity. So, as I said, start at the beginning.

Severus swallowed his pride and looked at the small bundle sleeping peacefully in his arms. Maybe Black had a point, he thought. So he started talking. He spoke about everything, from his mother and father to how he had found Harry just hours before. The tea tray had refreshed itself three times and Harry had been set into the ornate Black Cradle with Warming, Soothing and Swinging Charms set on it to ensure the babes comfort. By the time Severus had finished, the sun was setting and his voice was hoarse.

Black leaned back in his chair and set his elbows on the arms, effectively steepling his fingers in front of his face. “Well my boy, since I can’t help my nephew Sirius, I will help you.”

“What’s wrong with Black? Why does he need help?” Severus asked.

Lord Black blinked and passed over an old copy of the Prophet. Severus spluttered as he read it. “Black didn’t betray the Potters. Pettigrew was the one who told the Dark Lord of their whereabouts. I was there as the rat prostrated himself in front of the dark lunatic. Even in Death Eater robes I could recognised him. I even told Dumbledore, before the attack and after Black was arrested. He told me he’d see to it.” Severus stopped talking and stared at his empty teacup. “Dumbledore knew. Knew it all. The spy, everything and allowed Lily to die, allowed them both to die. Let Black go to Azkaban and Harry to Petunia. He knew everything and let it all happen, no, perhaps in some respects made it happen. What is wrong with that man? He’s supposed to stop evil not perpetrate it!” Severus was almost ranting by the end.

“Calm yourself boy. A properly Charmed and warded statement to the DMLE will see Sirius home. Then we can deal with Dumbledore and make sure that little boy has an exemplary life. Chin up, chin up Severus, we are Slytherins are we not. Now let’s get your statement down and a copy of your memories. Then dinner and bed for all of us. I expect Sirius home tomorrow and my nephew brings nothing but chaos in his wake. We’ll need all our wits and energy to keep up with him.”

Severus grimaced but did as he was told, followed Lord Black into a dining room and ate dinner, Harry’s cradle never more than an arm’s length away as it followed him from room to room. He watched as another elf Popped in and gently fed Harry, then saw to his other needs, before dressing him in a tiny baby suit with the Black, Potter and to his surprise the Prince family Crests embroidered on it. He sighed and decided to decipher all of that later, much much later. Lord Black was right, tomorrow was going to be a hell of a day. Maybe Dewie could find him a bed to sleep in soon?

CHAPTER TWO

Severus stopped in the doorway of the study. He had Harry in his arms and wasn’t sure he wanted the child in a room with three frankly terrifying looking Goblins.

“Come on in Severus,” Lord Black said quietly, motioning to the last empty armchair.

Severus stalked in and took a rigid position where he’d been indicated. He was not comfortable, not with any of this and couldn’t, no wouldn’t, fake how uncomfortable he was. A tiny tapping on his chest had him looking down. Harry was looking at him. Head cocked slightly to the side and a wide, baby toothed grin on his face.

“The child your soul has claimed, seems quite relaxed about these proceedings, young Master Prince. We suggest you follow his lead in this. I am Swiftsand. This is my husband Ironsword and my clan brother Rightseer. Lord Black has asked for our aid. Rightseer will verify the truth of your statement. Once done my husband will present it to your Wizengamot. Things should proceed quickly after that. The Black Heir could be home before the end of the day,” Swiftsand said, her voice brooking no doubt.

Severus wasn’t so sure. He’d stood before the Wizengamot. Nothing ran swiftly when a group of privileged old men got together to decide on anything. He told her so too. The gravelly laughs that followed his statement left him blinking disconcertingly.

“It is amazing how many Wizards show alacrity in their decisions if one holds access to their funds,” Ironsword boomed.

“I wouldn’t know, Sir. My own funds are quite meager,” Severus grumbled.

“What do you mean, Severus?” Lord Black asked.

Severus held on to his building temper only by remembering he had a child in his lap. He bounced Harry a few times while he considered his answer.

“Severus, your Grandfather was not an immensely wealthy man, but neither was he impoverished. In fact, even though he has passed on, Prince Keep is in reasonable repair and the Prince vaults are solvent,” Arcturus said.

“Ah, but I am not a Prince. I am a Snape and can have no claim to what was my Grandfather’s.” Snape said bitterly.

The three Goblins and one Wizard looked to each other. Swiftsand finally asked. “Who has told you this?”

Harry had started to fidget, so Severus set him on the floor, and thought back to not so many years ago, to Hogwarts and the conversations. “Dumbledore told me the Prince family magics would not recognise me because I wasn’t a full Prince. A condition of my half blood status, he said.”

“The young Wizard speaks truth,” Rightseer announced.

“As I said,” Severus sniffed, eyes never leaving Harry as he toddled around happily.

“You misunderstand me young Wizard. I did not mean you are correct, only that you believe this as truth,” Rightseer corrected.

Confused Severus wrenched his gaze from the baby and set it on the Goblin.

“Yes, you were told this. No, it is not correct. There is a simple sharing of blood to call for the family magic. Once the family magic recognises you, then you will have access to the Prince Estate, both lands and vaults.” Rightseer told him.

Severus gaped. “He lied to me? Why? What did he have to gain? WHY?” Severus demanded.

“We’ll find out Severus, I’ll ensure it. Now let’s get things started. We have a long way to go,” Lord Black stated.

Two hours later Severus was exhausted. His mind felt like it had been rifled through with a muggle steel garden rake, he’d used one often enough as a child that the comparison felt accurate. He had told them everything, answered every question, never demurred nor averted. As Rightseer looked into his eyes, he’d been trapped to lay bare his soul as surely as if he had ingested Veritaserum. By the end however there were scrolls upon scrolls. The story of Severus Snape as spoken by himself and transcribed in painful detail by Goblin magic.

The scrolls had each been sealed as true by Rightseer’s magic. His magical signature had been tested, pounded and shaken. Severus’s mind and soul tumbled until truth had spilled out visible for all to see. Three scrolls lay on Lord Black’s desk, the rest were efficiently bundled together and placed in a beautiful silver scrolled goblin made stasis chest.

Rightseer handed him the chest. “Your story is yours to tell Severus Snape-Prince. Choose well who you tell it to. You will sleep for the rest of the day,” Rightseer said, as if that conclusion was obvious.

“Yes Rightseer, the young Snape-Prince needs rest, however that must wait. Our little youngling here has a guest,” Ironsword said. His voice deep and troubled. They had all turned to him as he started speaking. Severus bristled when he saw Swiftsand was holding Harry in her lap and Ironsword was watching the baby carefully. He practically strode over to swoop in and pull the child away, only Rightseer’s hand stayed his charge.

Rightseer has his head cocked to the side. His gaze faraway and unfocused. “How did I not see this before. The leach hides well, but I see it now. It shall not escape my sight again. I must apologise, my Lords and Lady for my undersight.”

“What is it?” Arcturus demanded.

“Is Harry safe?” Severus asked, his heart in his throat. Lilly, I’ve failed you again, he cried mentally.

“Explain, now!” Arcturus ordered.

Rightseer bowed his head and addressed the room, gaze still on Harry. A Harry happily playing with one of Swiftsand’s many blonde coloured braids. “This young human babe is not alone. Inside of him he carries another. It resides beside his soul and holds it firmly. The child’s soul is whole and happy and developing as it should. However his visitor is wrong and fragmented. It leeches on the babe for survival. Even now it burrows its tendrils into Harry’s own soul, trying to anchor and corrupt.”

“Remove it! Remove it now!” Severus screamed.

“Remove it I shall. The child of your soul shall be free of this evil. However there are preparations which must be made. The process will be long and far more dangerous otherwise. The child is young. He does not have the strength for this battle. We need more. More goblins and more family to live and anchor him in this battle for his soul,” Rightseer told them.

“Agreed,” announced Ironsword. “First we will continue with our plan for the safe retrieval of the Black Heir. Then we shall bring my own War Coven and we shall wage war against the Leach. Are there any who can stand for the child?” he asked.

“I will,” Severus said immediately.

“As will I” Arcturus announced.

“The child is the child of The Potion Master’s soul. Their link is plain to see. But you my Lord, have no such connection with the child as of yet. If there is no blood relation, perhaps a Godparent?” Ironsword continued.

Snape sucked in a deep breath. “Am I not enough?” Again, am I not enough?

“The ritual requires two to stand as parents. Either of blood or soul. We shall see. For now you must rest. We shall take our leave. Our day is not over yet,” Swiftsand said and stood from her chair. She handed Harry to Severus who clutched him close. Without a further word she clapped her hands and Ironsword and Rightseer stood behind her. She sent the Wizards a truly frightening grin and with a sharp nod all three Goblins had disappeared.

Harry cheered and clapped as if it was the greatest trick ever. Severus turned to his host. “Did they have your permission to aparate from your home?”

“Goblins don’t need our permission Severus. Our Wards and magic can not hold them nor keep them out. That’s why we should really try not to war with them. In a true war, they’d wipe us out,” Arcturus told him.

“Why do they not teach that in schools?” Severus demanded.

“Ah well. That would be because Wizards like to believe themselves superior to other magical races and anyone who doesn’t agree with us is quickly branded an outcast. Now it’s been a long day already. Off to bed with you boys. I’ll have Dewie see to yours and Harry’s meals. Goodnight boys,” he dismissed.

“Good night Sir,” Severus said and turned.

“Nigh,” Harry squealed and waved at the older man, giggling when Arcturus waved back and called a quiet. “Goodnight, Harry.”

CHAPTER THREE

Severus woke to the feeling of being watched. He didn’t feel any threat. As a spy he knew the throat tightening feel of threat. No but he did feel like he was the center of attention. He squinted one eye open and almost screamed. Harry was levitated over his chest, happily grinning down at him.

Severus scooted himself up on the bed until he was sitting against the headboard. He held out his arms. “Come here Harry. We have to watch your accidental magic I think. I’m really unsure of where we are going, but what about you come right here for now?” Severus coaxed calmly.

Harry giggled and floated straight into Severus arms. Severus carded his fingers through Harry’s dark hair, pushing it off the baby’s face. His gaze caught on a scar on Harry’s forehead. A lightning bolt marred that perfect baby skin and Severus frowned at it. The mark of the Killing Curse? He growled then spluttered as a small fist tapped against his lips.

“Shhhh,” Harry said seriously.

Severus barked a sharp laugh and kept laughing. He impulsively tipped Harry onto the bed beside him and started to tickle him. He might have no idea what he was doing, nor where he was going, who to trust, basically anything about his future, but if he could help make this little boy safe and happy, well then maybe he was doing something right.

Harry giggled and squealed, the carefree sounds lifting Severus’s leaden heart. He laughed along with the boy and doubled his efforts. Fingers swiftly moving along ribs and ticklish feet causing even more squeals. He heard a sharp bang then found himself in a familiar position. Upside down and hanging over Harry’s head. His own hair trailing over his face.

A derisive twist curled his lip, he remembered the LeviCorpus spell well from his youth. “I see you’re out of Azkaban Black and up to your old tricks. Oh joy,” Severus said sarcastically. Face turned to the now open doorway, his fingers not once stopping their gentle tickling. The sound of happy and innocent giggling an incongruous background noise in the suddenly tense room.

Arcturus huffed a sigh and pushed himself into the room. He gently removed Sirius’s wand from his frozen fingers when he saw Sirius’s gaze was fixed upon the laughing boy. He carefully lowered Severus to the bed. Placing Harry between the two men.

Sirius walked to the bed as a man in a trance. He looked pulled and awed. “He’s laughing. You’re making him laugh,” he whispered transfixed.

“Ah, well, yes?” Severus mentally cursed himself for sounding unsure. “He likes being tickled,” he added defensively.

“He always did,” Sirius said. His own fingers edging to the boy. A quick look at his own filthy fingers stopped him. “I used to tickle him when James and Lily couldn’t get him to settle down. They would say he’d only laugh like that for me.”

“Ah, umm…” Severus trialled off, uncomfortable now more than annoyed.

“I’m sorry to interrupt like this Severus. We just managed to bring Sirius home now. Ironsword demanded an immediate Wizengamot session to reveal and debate your statement. Eventually it was confirmed that my heir had been imprisoned without trial or due process. He was in Azkaban for almost six months. Heads will roll for this. The implications are quite wide spread. They’ve had to set up a committee to review all of the imprisonments since the beginning of the war. Bastards even tried to deny Sirius his wand back. Kept us waiting there half the night. Some toad of a woman kicked up a fuss about it.

“Anyway we’d just managed to get home and I was escorting Sirius to his room when we passed your door and heard squealing. I’m afraid he got the better of me…” Arcturus finished with a sigh. His eyes moving back to a still Sirius.

Severus followed his gaze. Sirius Black, Gryffindor, Arch enemy of his youth, Hit Wizard and Auror stood by the side of his bed, eyes transfixed by the sight of a giggling boy. Severus watched through narrowed eyes as Sirius’s hands inched up as if to touch Harry but then curled in on themselves. It was so obvious the man wanted to touch the boy but held himself back. As well he should, Severus thought caustically, he was rather filthy. Then guilt reared its ugly head and Severus remembered why Black was filthy in the first place.

He sighed and made up his mind quickly. “Black, you need to bathe before you can pick up Harry. Get in there and be quick about it,” he said sharply, jerking his head to the bathroom attached to his bedroom. He tsked when Black looked like he wanted to protest. Then Arcturus was ushering him past Severus and into the bathroom, not giving his grandson a second to say anything. As soon as the door closed he heard Arcturus voice call for Dewie and a muffled request made. Then Dewie popped in beside him and held her arms out for Harry.

“Young Master Harry Potter needs to be changed. Dewie does this. Master Snape should get ready to change into day clothes. Dewie does not think yous will get more rest this morning. Breeksy gets breakfast ready in Morning Room. Dewie will bring little Master Harry Potter to you there,” Dewie told him and shuffled away to get Harry set for the day.

Severus blinked and looked at the clothes he had arrived in. They looked rumpled and he really did not want to wear them again. He looked around when Arcturus emerged from a steamy bathroom.

“Sirius is bathing. Thank You Severus. I know that wasn’t easy for you, considering your history together. I am thankful to you. My grandson is in great need for many things currently.” He looked Severus over, then nodded to the Armoire in the corner. “I’ve had Dewie retrieve clean clothing for Sirius, you’ll find the Armoire is filled with robes and clothing for you. Should you wish to come back here Severus, this shall be your room and always ready for you. Now if you need the bathroom, there is one just down the hall. I’ll see to Sirius and we’ll meet you in the Morning Room.” Severus inclined his head in thanks and watched as Lord Arcturus Black, head of this Ancient and Noble House, Lord Blackfen, Duke of Somerset, was making him welcome, giving him a home even.

Severus b!inked back sudden tears, walked briskly to the Armoire and pulled it open. Inside it was full of clothes, from under things to formal robes.

He gathered some clothes including a black cotton shirt and black trousers. On instinct he left the robes where they were. Severus felt himself on the precipice. He could jump off and trust in Lord and Lady Magic and perhaps the people in this house, or he could step back from the edge and return to the way things had been for his entire life. Suddenly he felt exhausted. He slumped down on the bed his arms tight around his gift of clothes and fought for breath.

So this is what a crisis of conscience feels like. He thought. Jump and hope to fly or remain in the status quo. His life up to now fast forwarded through his brain. His childhood, full of his father’s voice and criticisms, the practical poverty. His mother and the love she had lavished on him, to her detriment, how she had tried to protect him from his father’s wrath. His childhood had not been a happy one. But it had definitely been better than the childhood Harry had been headed for. He remembered Lily and her sunshine bright friendship. The only lights in his young life had been the only feminine influences in his life. His mother’s love and Lily’s innocent love. He had lost his mother to illness and lost Lily to his own idiocy and pettiness. He couldn’t keep on the current path. He had to change. He was only in his twenties, and before him were two distinct pathways. A fork in the road, so to speak. One way led to nothing different than his past. He other led to who knew where.

Voldemort was gone, did he really want to tie himself the Dumbledore? Was Dumbledore any different to Voldemort? Or were they cut from the very same cloth? Severus nodded decisively once and stood from the bed. He could hear murmurs from the bathroom. Arcturus and Sirius seemed to be talking quietly. He carefully left the room and found the bathroom. Yes, he thought, it was time to jump and trust somehow he wouldn’t splat on landing, he chuckled a little manically to himself at that thought.

A few minutes later he walked into the Morning Room. Dewie was there with Harry who was now dressed in a pair of short pants with a deep red button down. His sleeves rolled carefully to his elbows. He sat in a high chair at the table. He was carefully feeding himself toast soldiers after Dewie had first dipped them in soft boiled egg. As Severus watched, Harry bit his bottom lip in concentration then plucked the next soldier from Dewie’s offered fingers. He held it carefully by the clean end and bit the eggy part. It took him three bites to eat his soldier. Then the process was repeated.

Severus berated himself a fool. He was watching a tiny boy eat his breakfast, mesmerised. He shook his head and made for the table. It was a good thing he had decided that jumping was the better part of Valor in his case. Otherwise feeling his heart melt with love for this little boy, Lily’s gift to the world, would have given him an apoplectic fit, after all the child was as much James Potter’s as Lily’s.

He walked to his seat beside Harry. The child had stopped eating. He placed his toast soldier on his plate and made grabby hands at Severus over his head. “For someone little over two years of age, you are already changing the world around you,” Severus said then bent and swiftly dropped a kiss on Harry’s forehead.

A choking sound behind him had Severus spinning around. Lord Black and his grandson stood in the doorway. Severus noticed Black looked better. Clean and tidy. Hair pulled away from his face and tied back with leather. Beard shaved off showing almost alabaster skin. He also wore black shirt and trousers, that suited him well but the ravages of prison showed. He still carried dark circles and he was far too thin. His eyes still a little crazed. It would take time to leave Azkaban behind.

Severus took a step back and Harry saw the two men in the room. “Paddy!” he screamed and immediately tried to get out of his chair. Severus stepped in before the squirming boy ended up on the floor. Then Sirius was there too and pulling Harry into his arms. Kissing his face and laughing, all the while with tears streaming down his face.

“I’m here pup I’m here. I’m sorry to have left you alone. But I’m here now. Always here now,” Sirius whispered.

Severus was so shocked that he almost growled and pushed Black away. He was suddenly very territorial about Harry. He quickly caught himself before he could react. Black and the boy had history after all.

Harry pushed himself off Sirius’s chest and looked up at him. Then he patted at the man’s chest. “Paddy,” he sighed.

“Yes pup, it’s Paddy. Now, no turning yourself into a little black puppy, you hear. I don’t think your Paddy has enough strength at the moment to change you back,” Black told him.

Harry just giggled and patted Black’s chest again. “Paddy, Paddy, Daddy,” he said finally. Then he turned to Severus who was still standing there and reached an arm out until he was patting his chest. “Da,” he declared. As if that was that and they’re better get used to it.

Severus turned shocked and wide eyed to Sirius only to see the man mirroring him. Neither of them spoke. They could barely breathe for the spluttering that wanted out.

Arcturus Black chuckled and strolled to his seat at the table.

“Well gentlemen I think you’ve been told. Now let’s sit and have our rather early breakfast.”

Dewie returned Harry to his seat efficiently then hustled the other men into their own. Breakfast was served seconds later.

Sirius seemed to recover himself first. He speared a sausage on his plate and took a healthy bite. Severus averted his eyes from the spectacle. He had no prurient interest in watching that. He eyed his plate and took a forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs. Casting a gaze at Harry showed the little boy was thoroughly dedicated to eating his toast soldiers and egg. Breakfast was on the way apparently.

Lord Black put down his tea cup and cleared his throat. “Why were you up so early this morning Severus. It was barely six o’clock when we barged into your room.”

Severus cleared his throat and patted his lips with a napkin. “Unfortunately while I was sleeping soundly, a certain little boy decided of would be a good idea to float over my head. I awoke with the feeling I was being watched. When I opened my eyes and found him there I had to stop myself from screaming. I didn’t want to frighten him into falling and getting hurt.”

“Accidental magic? Already? He’s barely two years old?” Arcturus asked.

“Ha!” Sirius exclaimed. “Levitation at this age? I’m not that surprised. He was summoning his own toys at three months. And he’s always been an early riser. Use to drive Lily insane. He would be up to mischief before her and James were even stirring awake. She walked into the nursery once to see all of his toys spinning in a circle over his crib, like some demented muggle mobile she’d described it as I believe.

“I remembered them speaking about it with Dumbledore. He wanted them to place a block on Harry’s magic. They put him off for a while, then I seem to remember, James coming back from a visit with the old man and saying that he wanted Dumbledore to do the binding on Harry. This was just before they went into hiding and he and Lily rowed about the whole thing. Harry was so upset that his magic practically exploded in the room. Broke a few vases. A piece even hit James in the back of the head. I was there that day. I thought Harry had just proved James point for him.

“Instead James just looked like he had woken up. They went into hiding just after that. No binding had been put on the kid. Dumbledore did the Secret Keeper Charm for them and put Godric’s Cottage under the Fidelius. Did the same thing for the Longbottoms too. We thought they were under the same threat at the time. Little Neville was almost as much of a handful as Harry here. Kept Alice hopping with his little bursts. Good thing Alice is a hell of a Hitwitch. By the way, how are they? And why the hell am I spilling everything with Snivellus here? What the hell is he doing here anyway?” Sirius finally demanded, like it had all finally dawned on him.

Arcturus carefully put his cutlery down. “Severus came here for help. Why don’t you tell him what has happened, my boy,” Arcturus encouraged.

Severus lowered his head, letting his hair cover his face. “You know Lord Black, Dumbledore calls me, my boy, all the time. I don’t find it condescending when you say it however.” He raised his head and looked directly at Sirius Black across the table from him. He bit his lip and decided that it was now or never. He should probably start as he meant to go on. That would mean he couldn’t hold anything back. If they knew the complete truth however, would they toss him on his ear? Would they turn Harry away? More likely they’d toss him out and keep Harry. That would be acceptable, just as long as Harry was safe. He could do this. He had to do this. “Just over two years ago, I was in a pub. Dumbledore was there with a young woman, I could just see them. Curious I made my way over to them, but sat in the booth behind them. I think I was hoping to get some dirt on him. I was young and more than foolish at the time.Suddenly she stiffened and started speaking rather strangely. ‘The one with the power to vanquish the dark lord approaches. Born to those that have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…’ I’m sure there was more to it, but I had to leave.

“I reported this to the Dark Lord. As soon as the words had left my lips I knew I’d made a terrible mistake. Some part of me knew this was the excuse he needed to go after Lily and, J-James. I went to Dumbledore as soon as I could get away. He, as my muggle father would say, grilled me like a cheap steak. By the time he was done I had practically sworn fealty to him. In fact I even offered, he refused saying any other oathes would be discernible by Voldemort and he needed me close as a spy for him. He had me so turned around and feeling grateful that I’m positive I would have signed over my first born had he wished it. Discussions with him often leave me feeling in this manner

“The night of the attack, Voldemort took great pleasure in torturing me as he made me beg for Lily’s life. He told me he would save one of them. So, he made me choose. At first I wouldn’t choose. How could I? If I chose any one of them I was signing the death warrant for the others. He told me not to bother asking for the child. The baby was as good as dead. He told me not to ask for the pure blood, that traitor had to die. So he told me to beg for Lily. So, I begged for Lily. He’d used cutting hexes on me as he told me who not to beg for. Then as I begged for Lily’s life he used whipping spells. He flayed the skin from my back with each request for her life. By the time he was done, I needed four blood replenishers, just to keep from bleeding out. I got to Dumbledore before sunset. The attack was arranged for just before midnight. I told him what had happened, that the Potter’s had been betrayed. I even told him who had betrayed them. He told me that he would take care of it. I trusted him. I believed him. He sent me away. I went home to nurse my wounds.

“Just after midnight I was sent word by one of the death eaters that it was done, the Potter’s were dead, but so was the Dark Lord. Truth be told I had felt a sting in the dark mark but paid it no mind. I had too many aches and pains to really be able to differentiate between them. The Fidelius was gone. I apparated to the Cottage. I already knew what I’d find. There was no way Lily or James would go down without a fight. They would do anything to protect their son. I did not want to face what I had created. It was, is, all my fault. I walked into that house, knowing and feeling every one of my mistakes.

“I could hear Harry screaming in his crib. When I got there he was practically shining with power. His shield pushed me away from him. I had seen James on the stair. Then I found Lily by the crib. Dead. The house was almost destroyed. Harry never once stopped screaming, not that one could blame him. He seemed unharmed but for a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Then I heard you Black and left.

“That was six months ago, give or take. Between then and now I have testified in numerous Death Eater Trials. Showed myself as Dumbledore’s man repeatedly and generally believed the old bastard. Then a few weeks ago I walked in on him using a Charm on some parchment. I didn’t think anything of it. Exactly seven days later I walked in on him doing it again, only this time the Charm looked familiar. I reviewed it in my Penseive. It was a Compulsion Charm. Why would he need to use a Compulsion Charm on a letter which he would then send off with an owl? So, the next time, I was ready. I threw a wandless tracking spell at the owl as I entered the Headmaster’s office and let it settle on the owl’s leather tether. After my weekly meeting with Albus, I tracked down the owl.

“Its destination had been a perfect little house in Little Whinging in Surrey. I determined the house belonged to Petunia Dursley nee Evans, Lily’s older sister.”

“What the hell!” Sirius exploded.

Severus held up his hand and continued. “I could hear crying from inside the house, while Petunia was outside, in the garden, with her own son. While she was otherwise occupied I entered the premises and in the course of things went to a cupboard under the stairs. The crying was coming from inside. I opened it and found Harry on a filthy mattress. He was cold, probably why he was crying so much. Cold and dirty and from the looks of things underfed. I took him from there and apparated without deliberation nor destination in mind. Only trusting in Lord and Lady Magic to take us somewhere safe for Harry. We appeared outside your Grandfather’s Wards. The rest has all been your Grandfather’s doing.” Severus took up his own teacup and drank the contents. He glared at the cup. His tea should have been stone cold by now, he had talked so long. Instead it was still at the perfect drinking temperature.

“Don’t glare at my Grandfather’s crockery Snape, its charmed to always maintain perfect temperature. He only activates the Charm when I am home. He knows how long it can take to finish a meal with me.” He sighed, then continued “My Grandfather only told me last night that someone had given the Goblins an Indisputable Statement of Events, the Statement was Charmed to only reveal the truth. They had called for an emergency sitting of the Wizengamot and after displaying the Statement demanded my release. The Wizengamot and by extension the Chief Warlock hadn’t been allowed any choice. I was released, got my wand back and came back here. To find you of all people tickling my Godson,” Sirius finished, then to Severus’s shock, Black actually pouted for a few seconds.

“Daddy looks silly like that,” came a child’s voice. They turned to Harry who was pointing at Sirius and trying to squelch his face into the same look. Then Harry turned to Severus. “Da, you think Daddy look silly?” He asked again trying to copy Sirius’s pout.

Severus chuckled at the child’s antics. “Well I don’t think I should answer that.” He spluttered as a balled up napkin hit him in the chest. He looked up to see Sirius Black, Arch enemy, etc., etc., sticking out his tongue at him. “Oh very mature,” he snarled, trying desperately not to grin foolishly back, instead he looked back down at his half eaten breakfast.

He heard Sirius chuckle then abruptly stop as it turned into a choking sound. Severus abruptly looked up from his plate. The other man was turning red in the face. Severus made to stand up and round the table, he could see Arcturus doing the same, in the blink of an eye Breeksy the head elf was there and thwacking Sirius soundly on the back. He kept going until Sirius had stopped making the wretched hacking sounds and motioned for the elf to stop.

“Sorry, sorry,” he rasped out, taking a drink from his water goblet. “I’d just realised who I was joking around with. Snape and I have never been able to stand each other. It feels like it was hate at first sight. Almost like we’d been hit by a spell,” he sighed, then shook his head vigorously. “Grandfather I think I might need a mind healer.” He turned back to Severus. “Snape, thank you for saving my Godson. Lily told me how much Petunia hated our world. I can only imagine what his life would have been like with her. I can’t imagine he would have been safe or happy with her. I’m not quite sure what’s going on, nor what Dumbledore is up to, but again, thank you for saving my Godson, for being there for him when I could not be.”

Severus inclined his head, accepting the thanks quietly. He picked up another forkful of eggs then flung it as he jumped when the doors slammed open and half a horde of goblins marched in. “Godson? Did someone say Godson?” Ironsword roared out.

Severus looked down at his half finished meal and gave it up as a lost cause. It looked like breakfast was not too be today. He glanced at Harry, at least the child had finished all of his soldiers.

CHAPTER FOUR

An hour later fifteen goblins, Lord Black, Sirius Black and Severus Snape were all in Lord Black’s study as Harry toddled around them on the floor. Severus noticed the boy would occasionally rub at the scar on his forehead. Looking up, Sirius Black caught his gaze and lifted an eyebrow. Not having any answers Severus just lifted a shoulder and turned his attention back to where Ironsword and Lord Black were conversing quietly.

Something was niggling at the back of his mind, annoying him until he finally gave up and turned his attention to it fully. Then he almost smacked himself. “Black, did you say the Longbottom’s were also in danger and went into hiding?”

Sirius Black nodded. Then his eyes widened. “Grandfather what of the Longbottom’s?”

Lord Black creased his forehead in thought. “As far as I know they are quite safe. They are living at Longbottom Manor I believe. Why are you worried?”

“According to what I was told, their son could have been the one prophesied about. There are other Death eaters about. They may not be safe yet.” Sirius said.

Lord Black narrowed his eyes slowly then nodded once. “Breeksy,” he called and the elf appeared in a second with a silent pop.

“Yes, my Lord Black?”

“Breeksy, the Longbottom’s may still be in danger. Please send a few fighters there to watch and help if need be. Liaise with the Longbottom elves. Make sure they all know the family is to be brought here immediately if there is trouble, Lord Black has ordered it so.”

Breeksy nodded “As youse wish my Lord.” He popped out immediately.

“While we have the elves on the job, so to speak, what else can you think of?” Lord Black asked.

This time it was Severus who spoke. “The parchments Dumbledore sent. Is there any chance we can find them, maybe find what he was intending?”

Arcturus nodded again. “Perhaps, perhaps. Breeksy report to me as soon as possible,” he called out. Then he returned his attention to Ironsword.

Severus sat back in his chair and waited. He noticed Sirius Black doing the same. Severus watched the man from under his lashes. Sirius Black had always been a handsome man. Dark hair, grey eyes. No one could deny the man was, as girls said, drool worthy. Severus had always thought so, even as he and the marauders had bullied him throughout their Hogwarts days. Six months in Azkaban had left their mark, dark circles under his eyes, a haunted look, he was jumpy and his eyes never sat still, always casting around him. His usually pale and radiant skin was sallow and sunken. He had lost weight too. Yes Azkaban had left quite a mark on Sirius Black.

Breeksy popped back in faster than Severus would have thought possible. “Yes my Lord Black,” Breeksy said formally.

“Breeksy we need to find some parchments. They were sent by Albus Dumbledore to a muggle woman, named Petunia Dursley. We believed they were charmed. What do you recommend?” Lord Black asked seriously.

Breeksy nodded sagely. “I believe my son Fynder my Lord. And perhaps my younger son too, Rumgey. Between them there is very little they can not find.”

Lord Black smiled and nodded. “Are they old enough to be in service yet Breeksy? I would not wish them to be endangered by leaving yours and their other father’s protection before they are of age.”

“Warwing and I don’t believe our offspring can be coerced into a bond as full blooded house elves can be. Their Goblin blood would prevent an unwilling bond. May hap even a willing one,” Breeksy said. “They should be quite safe,” he said confidently.

“Very well, Breeksy. Make it so. Potions Master Snape will write the address down for you.” Lord Black told him, motioning toward Severus.

Breeksy turned to Severus, a piece of parchment and inked quill materialised in Severus’s lap. Severus quickly wrote the address where he had found Harry and the parchment sailed over to land safely in Breeksy’s waiting outstretched palm. Then the house elf was gone again.

Ironsword cleared his throat and called their attention. “There is much that needs doing. You, young Black. You said the child was your Godson? Is this correct?”

Sirius nodded. “Yes, James and Lily named me Harry’s Godfather at his birth. That should have been made public knowledge at the reading of their wills. Just as any other deceased Witch or Wizard.”

Every face in the room looked troubled. It was Lord Black who answered the unasked what’s going on? Sirius was projecting. “The Potter Will was never found nor executed. To the best of my knowledge it was never presented at Gringotts nor at the Wizengamot to be read. It was believed that they died without a Will.”

Sirius took to his feet and started pacing the room. He muttered to himself as he went. Harry stopped playing with a multicolored cube he was making color patterns change on and looked at the man as he strode back and forth.

“Da,” Harry called.

Severus couldn’t help but look over, not believing Harry understood what he was saying yet. “Yes Harry,” he choked out from his suddenly closed throat.

“I think Daddy needs a bit of help ess-esx-explaining,” Harry said, eventually getting the final word out.

Sirius had stopped pacing at Harry’s first word. He looked at the boy on the floor before walking over to him and swinging him up into his arms. “Hmm, you might be right there kid. Your Daddy has a habit of letting his temper get the better of him. That’s how he ended up in wizard prison with no trial for six months and you ended up at Petunia’s. If it wasn’t for Snape there being a suspicious git, I’d probably still be there sitting there and slowly going further insane or maybe even dying, and Merlin knows what kind of life you would have had,” Sirius told him and by extension the room at large.

“Da’s great. I like him. You like him too. I can see it. Only there’s a cloud over the chain that ties you to Da. It looks like its trying to break it. The chain looks sorta weak. Like the cloud has been there a long time,” Harry said, looking between Severus and Sirius, his voice far away.

Gasps could be heard around the room. A grisled old goblin, Severus was almost sure was female walked forward. She stopped in front of Sirius, but focused on Harry. “The boy has the Soul Sight. He can see a man’s soul. The good or evil it hides. He sees the Twinning of Souls too. He sees when two souls are meant to be one. Yes this child is special. We must remove this leach from him before it causes his talents to dry and wither. I am Trucorze. You know my sons, Ragnorak and Ironsword. The Chieftain and Second of the Horde,” she said pointing a gnarled finger at two goblins.

Only then did Severus realize he was in the presence of goblin royalty essentially. And apparent!y he was in the presence of goblin royalty and their mother. A quick glance at Sirius showed the other man thinking along the same lines. They shared a fleeting grin before looking hastily away from each other.

Ragnorak laughed loudly, while Ironsword just looked like he was chewing on a lemon. Sirius strolled over to stand beside Severus “I guess even goblins don’t like being shown up by their mother,” he whispered. Severus bit his lip to stop any reaction. He did however elbow the other man. Then looked down at the tugging on his shirtsleeve. Harry lifted both arms and Sirius carefully transferred the boy into Severus arms.

“Da, I’m thirsty,” he whispered shyly. As Severus opened his mouth to answer, Sirius quietly called out ,”Dewie.”

The she elf popped in beside them. “Dewie, Master Harry would like a drink,” he said to her. With a smile she popped out again and returned with three trays floating around her. She floated the one with tankards over to the goblins, the tea service she sent to float beside Lord Black, the third and smallest set beside Harry. It carried warm milk in something that looked to Severus like a cross between a cup and a bottle. Harry reached for it eagerly. He made a down motion with his arms and Severus let him down to toddle around the room as he drank his warm milk.

“Severus come drink your tea, so we can all discuss the best course of action,” Lord Black called. Severus went to the desk and took up his cup. Sirius was already leaning there and siping at his own tea. He raised his eyebrows and Swiftsand snorted at him.

“Potions Master Snape-Prince. Harry has claimed you as the father of his soul. Will you live for him?” She asked him almost formally.

“Shouldn’t you ask if I would die for him?” He asked back.

Trucorze answered scathingly. “It is easy to die for someone. It is fast, quick. His parents have already died for him, but as a parent I know they would have lived for him had they the choice. So the question my son’s mate asks you is more pertinent. Answer her,” the old goblin demanded.

Severus swallowed hard and already knew his answer in his heart and soul. Lily’s child deserves everything he had to give. He nodded, “Yes, I will live for him. He will have everything of me he needs and wants,” he said solemnly.

Swiftsand turned to Sirius next. “Sirius Black, godfather chosen by love. Bound to Harry by the love his mother and father felt for you and you for them. This is the child of your soul, will you live for him?” She asked, pointing at Harry as he sat and watched them wide eyed.

Sirius had not taken his gaze off his godson. His answer came quickly, quietly and certainly. “Yes I will live for him.”

Something flew around Severus and through him. He swayed and shivered. The same thing happened to Sirius, judging from his similar reaction. Harry gasped and dropped his empty cup-bottle. Then he swayed and started to fall. Severus and Sirius both reached out to try and catch him but they too far away. But Harry stopped moving, suspended off the floor and Severus could swear he felt Harry’s weight in his arms. He pulled his arms to himself, seeing Sirius making a pushing motion from the corner of his eye. Harry’s body moved toward him until he floated right into Severus’s arms.

“The boy sleeps,” Swiftsand and said. “We will keep him asleep while we work. It would be too terrifying otherwise. We shall start just as soon as my healer has tended to the wounds created by Azkaban. Then we must tend to the spells cast on you. As the parents magic has bound to his soul, you must also be healed before we start.”

“How do we start?” Sirius asked, gaze still on Harry sleeping in Severus’s arms.

“Next, have his nanny elf place him in bed and watch him,” Ironsword said.

Sirius called for Dewie and gave her the orders. She popped away with Harry a second later.

“Now?”Severus demanded, his arms feeling empty suddenly.

“Now, young wizard, we repair to the Black family Wardstone. What we must do, must be done there. My name is Rocshale,” another goblin said. He looked little older than Swiftsand, so the young crack seemed excessive to Severus.

“Rocshale is my brother and our family Healer and Curse breaker,” Swiftsand said. She smirked at Severus, almost like she could hear his thoughts about the young wizard bit.

“Please do not worry about my brother’s apparent lack of age. He might only be fifteen hundred years old, but he is very experienced,” she said facetiously.

Severus choked. “Fifteen hundred years of age? The last Wizard-Goblin war had only been around a thousand years ago.”

“Yes little wizard, we all had fun in the last little argument had between Wizard and Goblin,” Rocshake said smugly.

“Little argument?” Severus questioned. “Thousands if Wizards lost their lives. It lasted for years,” Severus said agast.

“It was an effective training exercise for our young ones,” Ragnorak shrugged. “Now it is time for us to attend to matters. Lord Black, please lead us to the Black Family Wardstone.”

Arcturus Black stood slowly from his armchair and solemnly lead their procession from the room. Sirius waited for the goblins to precede him, and not knowing the protocol here, Severus waited with him. As they walked down the corridor Severus heard little pops behind him.

“It’s the House elves. They know something momentous is about to happen. They will try to ensure the Family Black does not die out this day,” Sirius told him.

“Is that a possibility?” Severus whispered.

Sirius shrugged. “It’s entirely possible. We are only three wizards against a handful of goblins. War hardened goblins apparently. We wouldn’t stand much of a chance by ourselves, would we? That and we’re heading to the Wardstone. That shall not be a pleasant experience for me. I haven’t been in contact with the Stone for many years. It will require a price from me.”

Severus placed a hand on Sirius’s arm. “Will you be …”

“I don’t have much choice do I? I need to heal. The Wardstone can do that far more effectively than a dozen mind healers. It will also burn away anything else that’s on me that shouldn’t be. Between us we have a child to raise Sev. I refuse to not put everything I have into doing that,” Sirius replied, but he didn’t shake off Severus’s hand. Instead he had crooked his arm so that Severus hand settled on the inside of his elbow, then covered it with his other hand, squeezing tightly.

Severus understood at that moment just how terrified the great Sirius Black was. And just how much he loved his godson.

He cleared his throat to cover that it had suddenly gone bone dry. “I’ve, ahh, I’ve never interacted with a Wardstone. What’s going to happen?” He questioned.

“Ahh, well, I would have thought you’d have been introduced to the Prince Family Stone as a child?” Sirius said softly.

Severus just shook his head. “It seems there is much I am missing.”

Sirius nodded. “Our Wardstone is in the basement. Most Stones are under the house. Set into the foundations. Only The oldest of families, Noble and Ancient families have Wardstone now. They are considered Dark Arts by some idiots and fell out of favour centuries ago. Actually they are Blood Magic and true Dark Arts practitioners can never interact with them. The Wardstone needs some of my blood. It will read it and determine what’s to be done. Wardstone can’t be Dark, cannot be corrupted. It will also have collected knowledge that it will pass on to me. Anything it thinks I need to know. They are essentially sentient. They chose or chose not to interact with us. My first education came from the Black Family Wardstone. I was introduced to it at the age of five. Then when my parents decided to follow His Dark Madness, we no longer came to visit. So I haven’t interacted with it since my Hogwarts days, so this might be painful, but it won’t leave any scars and pain fades quickly. It inherently won’t hurt me permanently.”

They had followed Lord Black until he stopped at a dead end in the basement. He had them all take a step back then called Sirius forward. The two Blacks stood side by side and in identical motions drew their wands and slashed their palms. They smeared their blood on the stone wall and stood back to where everyone else was standing.

Severus quickly grabbed Sirius’s hand, ready to heal it. But when he looked the palm was already healed, not a scar nor drop of blood in sight. He looked up at Sirius and scowled as the other man winked at him. “Insufferable Gryffindors,” he muttered under his breath. He looked back to the bloodied wall as Sirius nudged him and watched it shimmer and vanish.

They followed Lord Black into a dark room. It had a dirt floor and stone walls. It should have been dank and musty, instead it was warm and enveloping. The whole room was suffused in a deep green light and after a few steps Severus understood why. In the middle of the room. Buried in the dirt was a giant Emerald. It was uncut, all rough and sharp edges. A meter of it stood above ground but it was obvious the majority of it was buried deep.

Lord Black walked up to it and ran his palm over an edge, he was smiling as if greeting an old and trusted friend. A trail of blood was left wherever his hand had been. He smiled and nodded occasionally, he even chuckled a time or two. Then he stepped back and Sirius swallowed hard and stepped forward.

He walked to the stone like a man headed to the gallows. But his back remained straight, his shoulders back and his feet didn’t once falter. Severus was impressed. And really the man did cut an imposing figure.

Sirius walked to one end of the stone and placed a palm on it. Then he walked, slowed and deliberately to the other end. Leaving a blood trail in his wake. As he almost reached the end he stopped still. He went rigid and his face was frozen in a grimace. His back arched and he was enveloped in a green glow that lifted him off the floor. Severus started forward, not knowing what to do but needing to move. Ragnorak grabbed him and held him still.

“You must not interfere young Wizard,” he said into Severus’s ear. “What must be done, must be done.” Then he let him go and Severus watched as Sirius was gently set back on his feet. The green light flickered over him in a gentle caress and was soon gone.

Sirius took in a few gasping breaths as he dropped to his knees. He was shaking and crying. His Grandfather went to him and wrapped him in his arms. They knelt in the dirt floor for a few minutes, together, swaying back and forth and whispering softly. Then they helped each other up and Sirius clapped his hands. “Okay, now it’s Severus’s turn,” he said grinning.

“Eager isn’t he?” Trucorze asked the room at large. “But first Lord Black, I must ask for permission to commune with your Wardstone. My word as Matriarch of the Horde that I have no ill intent.”

Arcturus inclined his head. “Should you speak false My Lady Matriarch, the Wardstone is well able to protect itself. It is the Black Wardstone after all,” he finished as if it explained everything.

She must have understood because she cackled and rubbed her hands together wickedly as she approached the giant emerald. “Yes, as vicious and bloodthirsty as any Black when crossed. A Wardstone and their Witches and Wizards do have quite a symbiotic relationship.” Then she extended one gnarled finger to an edge of the emerald and allowed the Wardstone it’s price of blood. She stood there, emotions and expressions flirting over her face before nodding once and stepping back. She bowed deeply to the stone then turned to face the others. “I have my answer. I know who clouded the Heart Chain from young Black to his intended. Now we must be off to the Keep of Prince.

CHAPTER FIVE

Severus blinked and scowled at everyone around him. “Yes, well. I’m afraid we’re out of luck there. I don’t know where the Prince family Seat is. Nor how to get in, even if we could get there. I’m sorry. I don’t know how to help,” he finally admitted. It galled him to admit any of that to his current companions. He was rather sure one did not show weakness in front of a Goblin. He wasn’t impressed at showing weakness in front if Sirius Black either. The other man had pounced on any weaknesses Severus had shown while they where at school, but, just maybe, things were changing there.

He crossed his arms over his chest and scowled at his feet. Not meeting anyone’s eye. He swallowed back a yelp when fingers gently tipped his chin up so he had to meet the eyes of whoever was in front of him. Sirius Black stood toe to toe with him. One hand gently holding his chin. Then shockingly he leaned in and softly brushed his lips over Severus’s own.

“Will you accept our help in this Severus?” He asked softly.

Still a little dazed from that ghost of a kiss, Severus just nodded dumbly.

Trucorze cackled, bringing Severus back to himself. He made to step away from Sirius, but he found the man had an arm at his back.

“My son will take us to Prince Keep. Quickly now gather around. Place your fingers on his shoulders, just touch him,” she ordered and Ragnorak came forward. They circled him and each of them lay a finger on his shoulders. A second later he snapped his fingers and a grey pewter staff was in his hand. An uncut diamond at its top. The Goblin closed his eyes, lifted the staff off the ground and brought it back down again.

Severus had been apparating for years now. He understood the feeling of being yanked around then being twisted into and upon oneself, then being released again. He understood the feeling of floo travel. The spin and sudden stop, not to mention the pull from behind your navel associated with Port Keys. But traveling by Goblin Staff was nothing like either apparition nor floo nor Port Key. One second they were in basement of Black Manor, where they were surrounded by a comforting emerald glow. Then Severus knew they were somewhere else.

This room they were in reminded Severus of a tomb. The air here was cold and dank. The dirt underfoot felt moist. There was barely any light here. Just a sickly very light blue. No this room felt nothing like the room the Wardstone was kept in at Black Manor.

He pulled his wand out and cast a strong lumos. He wasn’t the only one as two more wands added their own lumos.

Severus turned and looked around him. “Dark and dank, wonderful,” he sighed.

“Well, your Grandfather died years ago, Severus. With no one to maintain the Wardstone, this is what happens I’m afraid. A Wardstone needs constant connection from the Lord of the family and interaction with the family members where possible, its how it maintains familial lands, healthy, happy and engaged house elves. Even strong family magicks,” Arcturus told him, looking around them sadly. “You should also know that since the Stone has been neglected for so long, as soon as it tastes your blood it’s going to be ravenous and demanding. It will judge you and test you. It will rampage through your mind, go through every memory, every experience. There will be nothing you can hide from it. And when it finds something it does not like, it will remove it. An angry Wardstone has been known to kill before. A family is bound to the Stone and the Stone is bound to the family. A symbiotic relationship. It’s first loyalty is to the family and so it thinks ours should be too. Its judgement is one of the reasons marked Death Eaters stopped interacting with their family Stones. The Stones found the link with You Know Who rather distasteful and acted accordingly.”

Severus nodded glumly. His fingers rubbing at his own Dark Mark, bile rising to his throat just thinking about that now faded rotten tattoo. He finally spotted what would be the Prince Wardstone a little ways behind their group. He took a reluctant step towards it. “If a Stone can judge us, this might be a very short meeting. If I die, Sirius look after Harry. Keep him safe from Dumbledore. And someone cremate me. Right then.” He took another step. He was suddenly spin around and Sirius was in his face, then Sirius’s mouth was on his. Demanding entry. The other man’s tongue swept right into Severus’s mouth and claimed him thoroughly. Then he was stepping back. And Severus was dizzy.

“It doesn’t have permission to kill you. You don’t have permission to die,” Sirius said, his voice steely.

“I’ll make sure it knows that,” Severus whispered and walked up the Stone embedded in the earth on shaking legs.

The Stone up close looked smaller than the one at Black Manor. Looking at it in the feeble light Severus figured it was a giant Aquamarine. He looked for a sharp edge. Having found one he sucked in a deep breath, raised his palm to the Stone and ran it over the sharpness. He bit his lip as the pain lanced through his hand and took one forced step after another forced step until he had reached the other side of the Stone.

Then true agony ran through him. Not just the pain of the cut but pure unadulterated agony. It was as if a bear was inside of him, trying to tear him to pieces from the inside out. He distantly heard screaming. A keening wail that rose and rose until the voice broke into uncontrollable sobbing. He felt pain in his knees but it was distant to the blood curdling torture and torment flowing through him.

A presence barged its way into his mind. His ever present occlumency shields bypassed and as irrelevant to it as an ant on the ground. It rifled through each and every memory. His thoughts, his experiences laid out and reviewed. He felt judged and weighed. Emotions, needs and wants exposed and dissected. It raced through him faster than he could comprehend. His twenty something years of life as nothing in the grand scheme of things.

It took him apart, leaving nothing in him untouched. Then he noticed as it put him back together. No different than he had been. He was still Severus, only more. It left things inside him. Knowledge. History. A true sense of who he was. Of what he could have been, should have been. He had memories he’d never had before. Experiences that weren’t his own. And in the recesses of his mind, Severus began to understand the symbiosis they had spoken of. As much as the Stone took, it also gave. As it ran roughshod over his memories it also left in him the memories and experiences of each of his ancestors. He saw his mother as a teenager and her wonder at potions. He learned her lessons with her as she communed with this very Stone. He felt the pain of the Stone as his mother explained she’d have to leave because she loved a Muggle.

He saw and felt his own Grandfather’s fury as she walked away. Felt the old man’s pain when he understood she’d never be back. That he’d cut himself out of her life. Felt his heartbreak as she again refused his help. Her pride, an inheritance from every Prince before her, ran as deeply in her son. Would he have accepted help in her place? Her life with Snape had been miserable, yet her stubbornness legendary. Severus understood in that moment that here he differed from her and many of his ancestors. He had accepted help, from one he’d have considered an enemy before all this happened. He’d taken that help gladly because he needed that help for Harry.

He felt as the Stone acknowledged that. Saw the differences between him and his predecessors. Then he felt as it found something else in him and then another and more. The Stone went from ravenous to furious in the space of a breath, then it was as if white hot fire was coursing through his veins. Into his organs and melding with his skin. It found what it wanted and burned hotter. So hot Severus thought he was about to be burned alive by it. Then it was over and all Severus knew was blackness.

*****

Severus heard voices all around him. He heard the voices he recognised as Trucorze and Swiftsand. The other Goblins were speaking at once too. He could make out Lord Black alternately calling for reason and demanding to be let past. Above the din was to roar of fury he recognized as Sirius Black. His voice making his feelings known as he obviously struggled with someone or something. “Severus, Severus! Let me through damn you! Let me get to him! You can’t hold me here! Let me get to him! Severus! Severus!”

Hearing the way Sirius called to him made Severus’s heart jump. A cable he had not noticed before knotted itself around his heart and tie itself off. Bound deeply within him. Never to be ignored again and Severus felt it as the other end of the cable was fairly attached to Sirius Black’s heart. Harry had mentioned a chain. Maybe a heart chain. A soulmate bond?

Severus groaned and moved. He reached a hand out and whispered , “Sirius.” Then he was being pulled into firm arms and his hair was being pushed off his face. “What is happening?”

Sirius snorted. “We are being besieged by a half dozen House Elves. They’re Bonded to the House of Prince. They haven’t had a Master for a few years now and are rather feral. They’re claiming you as Master. They keep calling you Lord Prince, I’m trying not to giggle about that. But I’d really like it if you would open your eyes for me, look at me and tell me how you feel,” Sirius finished with a whisper.

Severus burrowed himself deeper into the comfort the other man’s arms offered, then fought his eyes open. He ignored everyone else around and sought out Sirius’s eyes. “Hello there,” he said with a shy smile. “I finally feel right.”

“Hello to you too,” Sirius smiled back. “And I understand what you mean. I started feeling better after the Black Wardstone was done with me. I felt like a blanket had been lifted off my heart and a chain linking me with you uncovered. I felt our chain tighten a little while ago. You?”

Severus nodded and sighed then decided he should at least be sitting up for this. “Help me up. If I’m going to be having this conversation in the dirt, I want to at least be seated upright. And when did I end up on the ground anyway?” He finished muttering.

“About two seconds after you gave the Stone your blood. You fell to your knees screaming. I tried to get to you but Ragnorak and Ironsword held me back. You looked like you were in agony,” he told Severus as he helped the other man until he sat up and rested his back against Sirius front.

A tsk and suddenly they were seated in a large divan lounge. Severus looked at the thing and narrowed his eyes.

“The Lord Prince should not stay in dirt if not wish to,” a mostly naked House Elf in little but rags said. It bowed to Severus when it had his attention. “I am Orange, Sir, we are pleased to welcome you to the Prince Keep. We be pleased and happy to serve the next Lord Prince.”

“Thank you Orange. The Wardstone has informed me of you all. Please accept my thanks for all you have done. You may take your sisters and begin opening the house again. If you’ll touch the Wardstone you shall receive a measure of strength and renewal as you need,” Severus told her.

The all watched as the little elves bowed, then one by one they all went to the Wardstone and touched a finger to it. Instantly their rags became bright crisp monogrammed pillowcases and they popped out again. “Well,” Severus said, then sighed and sniffed. “I really don’t know where to begin.” He burrowed further into Sirius’s arms and then realized he was doing so and stopped. He began to pull away but the ams just tightened around him.

“No, stay. This feels right,” Sirius whispered in his ear and Severus relaxed in his embrace with a contented little sigh.

“Hmm, where to begin. You were correct Lord Black. The Prince Wardstone was not kind to me. It was rather starved. It was furious. It took a taste of my blood, and swept through me like a torrential fire. It brooked no resistance and gave no quarter. There is no part of me that has not been investigated and interrogated. The Stone took me apart. It felt like every cell of my body was ripped asunder and remade.

“I have never felt pain like it, not even under the Dark Lords wand. The Cruciatus was but an annoyance in comparison. It basically remade me from the ground up. It swam through my mind, my memories, my emotions were all laid bare. I could hide nothing from it, nor did I want to. It took all of my past from me and sifted through it. Reading my wants and needs. All of my intentions and attentions. It left no part of me unknown to itself.

“And as it did so, it left knowledge in me. Knowledge of my ancestry. My obligations. Of who I am. Who I have the potential to be. It demands and gifts in equal measure. How are we not taught this? How could I have been left so ignorant of my duties?

“But that was not all. As the fires raged through my blood, certain things were removed from me,” Severus said and lifted the sleeve from his arm. He pushed first one sleeve then the other, all the way to his elbows. He revealed pale, smooth skin. Pale, smooth, unmarked skin. The fingers of one hand caressed where, until today, a tattoo has stood. One of a skull and snake. “It removed his mark from me. It took the Morsmordre from my skin and blood. It burned his mark from me forever. I thought it would kill me when it found his taint, instead it took it away from me. It removed other things from me too. A, I can only describe it as a blanket, yes a blanket. It removed a blanket from around my heart. Stopped the thing from smothering me any further. I had not known my heart was slowly being suffocated until the presence was no longer there.” Severus stopped and stared into space absentmindedly rubbing his cheek against Sirius’s chest. His throat felt dry and he had the fleeting thought of a bitter almond cordial he hadn’t tasted since his mother’s passing. A pop caught his attention and the little House Elf, Orange was beside him. In her hands she held a tray with glasses. A pale white drink on each one.

“Bitter almond cordial, Lord Prince,” she said primly.

Severus inclined his head and took a glass before she served the others. He lifted an eyebrow as she returned to his side. She gave him a smirk and tapped her nose. “We always knows what you wants now Sir,” with that cryptic little comment she popped out again.

He narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. Then started when a guffaw erupted. He looked up to see Lord Black laughing at him. “Oh my sweet, innocent boy. When you were accepted as Lord by Your Wardstone you were bonded to all your House Elves, correct?”

Severus nodded slowly.

“Well once that bond is accepted, the Lord tends to lose all privacy from the Head Elf. Orange as your Head Elf will know what you want as you do. It really does make life easier. I’m sure you’ll get used to it soon enough. Now did you say the Wardstone burned away…” he trailed off.

Severus took another sip from his cold drink and continued. “Yes it burned away any trace of spell or curse on me. Dispelled any allegiances it did not approve of. And left me to all intents and purposes a new man. One not bound to darkness or bitterness. It uncovered my heart chain and showed me my Soulmate. It showed me my true purpose and the role the Prince Family should occupy. I believe I have a lot of work to do.”

“Indeed,” Sirius said grinning.

Severus elbowed him gently and blushed at the look Sirius was giving him.

Trucorze cleared her throat and got their attention. “My Lord Prince, may I approach your Stone as I did the Black Wardstone?”

“You may Lady Matriarch,” he said.

She approached the Stone which had now risen a least a meter out of the ground and glowed a soft, clean aqua. Yes, Severus thought, he had been right. It was a giant Aquamarine. She extended one finger to the Stone and allowed it to be cut, letting the Stone taste of her. A minute later she stepped away again, face thoughtful.

“Your verdict Mother of the Horde?” Ragnorak asked formally.

“Dumbledore, the magical signature of the one blanketing the heart chains is Albus Dumbledore’s,” she announced.

*****

They were back in Lord Black’s study at Black Manor. Severus somehow still leaning on Sirius, and the other man didn’t seem to want to let go. They had left Prince Keep shortly after Trucorze had made her announcement. Severus still didn’t know whether to be stunned or furious. He wavered between the two states on any given breath. He still trembled occasionally even hours later. Sirius hadn’t even let him Apparate himself from Prince Keep to Black Manor. As soon as they had told the Prince Elves they planned to leave and given them their instructions, they had been shown to the Prince Apparition Room and Sirius had side along Apparated him away.

He finally focused as a glass was held in front of him. He reached out a hand and took the goblet. It held an amber liquid. He wasn’t a huge fan of fire whiskey, finding the result of drinking the liquor rather undignified, but at the moment alcohol seemed like a good idea. He took a hasty swallow and braced himself for the smoke to erupt out of his ears. Instead the liquor went smoothly don’t his throat and landed in a warming pool at the pit of his stomach. He looked at the glass thoughtfully, turning it this way and that. Sirius eventually pulled Severus’s hand to himself to sniff the contents.

“Cognac,” he said decisively. “Grandfather does like his luxuries. It’s a Muggle drink. Made from grapes, in a similar manner to wine.”

Severus huffed. “I do know what Cognac is you prat. I just didn’t expect to find a Muggle drink in Black Manor. Now hand it back,” he said, waving a hand imperiously.

Sirius chuckled, then winked at Severus before stealing a swallow from the glass he held. Severus narrowed his eyes as he was handed his glass back. Then blushed when Sirius twisted the glass around until the side Sirius had just drunk from was facing Severus. Severus looked from the slight lip marks he could see to Sirius, then back again. He gulped when Sirius tapped the base of the glass and raised an eyebrow at Severus, as if daring him. Severus smirked, lifted an eyebrow back and without taking his gaze from Sirius, lifted the glass to his lips slowly. He watched the red color rise in the other man’s cheeks when he let his tongue run over the rim of his glass, then slowly took a drink, letting the liquid warm in his mouth for a few seconds before allowing it to trickle down his throat.

Sirius’s tongue darted out of his mouth and ran over his own lips, all the while his gaze was locked to Severus’s lips and slowly swallowing throat. He carefully cleared his throat and adjusted his hips and legs, pulling Severus closer into his arms.

“May we interrupt?” The amused question had them quickly looking away from each other and to the others in the study. Lord Black was seated behind his desk again. He was flanked by Trucorze and Swiftsand as they sat one on each corner of his desk. Severus found it incongruous to see the Goblin women seated that way. Ragnorak and Ironsword propped up the wall beside the fireplace, with Rightseer and the other Goblins that had not been introduced lounging on the fire hearth.

“You have our undivided attention, Grandfather,” Sirius drawled.

Severus elbowed him sharply. “Do not be annoying, Black.”

Sirius chuckled and to Severus’s surprise, kissed his temple gently. “As you wish. Dear heart,” he whispered.

Severus swallowed hard and let his temple rest against Sirius’s cheek as the other man turned his head to face the others in the room.

“Very well, someone needs to make some explanations, please,” Sirius said.

It was Trucorze who started speaking. “When I was given permit to commune with your Wardstones, they let me know the spells and curses that had been cast on you. Not the everyday nor regular little spells and curses, no, the ones that stayed in your blood and effected your very future. The Stones were especially angry with the Heart Chain Shroud. This curse hides the existence of a Heart Chain, hides a fate gifted Soul Mate from you. This curse was found on both of you. Along with an Instant Hate Hex. While these spells aren’t exactly illegal or unforgivable, it is abominable to cast them so. Yet you have both been victims of such. The Stones recorded the magical signature of the caster. I recognize the signature as that of Albus Dumbledore. These spells were placed on you years ago. I suspect from the day you set foot on Hogwarts grounds. What do you remember of the first time you saw each other?” She asked.

Severus closed his eyes and let his mind wander back over his memories until he found the one he was looking for. They were in line and waiting to be sorted. Lily was somewhere near the front of the line while he was at the back. A boy with unruly hair had been trying to make fun of him already, another boy had stood next to him, looking from the unruly haired one to Severus. As if trying to understand something. Severus understood that feeling well. This boy, with his long dark hair and self assurance had Severus intrigued. He kept risking glances at him. And every time he was caught, it was by unruly hair and then the teasing would start again. Even though the other boy kept throwing looks Severus’s way as often as Severus. He could feel a pull. A pull that grew stronger by the second.

Then he felt eyes on him, from somewhere and they made him shiver. A quick glance to the other boy showed him shaking himself, almost like a dog. Then Severus gasped and unbridled hate swarmed through him and any pull he’d felt was drowned in the emotion. When he next looked at the other boy, rage was mirrored back at him.

Sirius was nodding as Severus told their audience of his memory, adding a few words here and there as required. “James could have cheerfully strangled you on first sight. The first time he saw you, you were talking with Lily on the train and she was giggling. He said he was going to marry her. That he had to get you out of the way first. I told him you weren’t interested in her, you weren’t meant for her, but he didn’t believe me. Said since we didn’t know anything about you, he couldn’t be sure of your intentions. I pointed out we’d only just met and he couldn’t be sure of my intentions either, but he just waved it off. You had Lily’s attention and that was all that mattered. Then he proceeded to be a royal prat and I just kept staring at you trying to understand what was going on with me. Then I remember the line as we were waiting for the Sorting Hat and suddenly all I felt towards you was pure rage and anger and the knowledge I couldn’t tell anyone how I’d felt about you just seconds before.”

They turned to look directly at that Horde Matriarch. “Was that when Dumbledore cursed us?” Sirius asked quietly.

“Most likely, young Wizard,” she replied solemnly.

“But why? We were just children. Why would he do that?” Severus asked her.

“That young Wizard, I can not yet answer. We will find the truth soon. Dumbledore has hidden himself from us for many a year, very soon, that will come to an end. Most of Wizard Kind do not know the true extent of a Goblin and we allow this. They trust us with their gold and never question its safety. Tomorrow young Albus Dumbledore shall face the Mother of the Horde and there is nothing he shall be able to hide from me. What he has done to the two of you is an offence against Magic, and it is my duty to find out why,” the old Goblin said, her voice ringing in steely certainty.

“If the old goat hadn’t kept me away from you all these years and then sent me to prison without a trial, I’d feel sorry for him. As it is I hope he struggles a little so that little old goblin can hand him his very old and wrinkled arse,” Sirius whispered in Severus’s ear. Severus could only nod his agreement and try to hide the tremble that ran down his spine as that soft breath ghosted over his ear and down his neck.

He took another quick swallow of the Cognac and cleared his throat.

“Yes, very well, yes, however I must now ask about Harry. You said that he carries a Leach. That Leach must be removed and with great speed. How shall we do this and when? Can we do it now? Please. What do we do? Do we take him to the Potter Wardstone and let it do it, clean him, so to speak as ours have done?”

Trucorze shook her head. “Not quite young Lord. The boy is far too young to be introduced to his family Stone. A Stone cannot gentle itself at a first meeting. Most families introduced their children at around eight years of age. By then children have some discipline and the Stone can accept the brains defined pathways. The process of introduction is not as stressful at this point.” Then she looked at Rightseer. That Goblin got carefully to his feet. He snapped his fingers and a Staff was suddenly in his grip. “You two shall stand as his parents and anchor him to this life and body. As our Matriarch has said, he is too young for be introduced to his family stone. It shall be almost as hungry as the Prince stone was. The experience could very well kill the child. No, as I said, you both shall stand as parents. The spell needed to cleanse the child is rather simple for Goblins. All it needs is a well established and powerful Congregation of Goblins, what Wizards call a Coven. Between us we shall call forth the Leach and destroy it or set it free. That determination shall be made at the correct time. The child has been rested. Have his nanny elf bring him to the Ritual Room, my Lord Black. And have another of your elves lead us there to make our preparations.”

CHAPTER SIX

Severus was sweating. He could feel it trickle down his face and inch its way between his shoulder blades and down his spine. He stood at Harry’s head, his fingers carding through the boys unruly hair. It was so like his birth father’s Severus was sure he should scoff, but this little boy was not his father and Severus couldn’t think of him as James. James had been a nemesis of his school days, this baby was not a nemesis, no, he depended on Severus and Severus would be damned before he let him down.

So he stood by Harry’s head, where the Goblin, Rightseer had placed him. At Harry’s feet stood Sirius. Each had been told to keep hands in Harry at all times. They were there to keep Harry grounded, whatever that meant. Rightseer had been adamant about the placement, about the constant touching and holding of still sleeping child. Most of it made no sense to Severus, but as the whole day had been a learning experience for him, why would this be any different? He just wanted Harry safe and healthy and the day over with. In only a matter of days his life had been upended and the craziness did not appear to be slowing down.

He made eye contact with Sirius. The other man has a hand around Harry’s ankle. He made every appearance of calm until one looked closely at his face. His lips were held tight enough that white showed around the rim. His eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. To anyone else it would be un-noticeable but Severus had spent years watching the adolescent that had become this man. So he knew the minute changes in facial expression. And this current configuration meant that Sirius was just as worried and confused as he was.

Severus was just about to start demanding they get on with it when the Goblins suddenly stepped into a circle around the ritual altar Harry was laid on, closing Sirius and himself into the circle with Harry. They snapped their fingers as one and Staves appeared in the hands of any Goblin that didn’t already have one. Then without pause they stamped foot and Staff on the ground and began to chant in Gobbledygook. The chanting was hard and fast, increasing in speed and intensity with every breath. The stamping and Staff striking against stone floor continued in a rhythm with the chanting. To Severus it seemed the chanting repeated itself after a few lines in an ever speeding spiral. Around and around it went, never pausing and never ceasing. Increased speed and tempo, getting louder and louder, more and more demanding as they went on and on. Then he noticed Harry was moving under his hand. Not just moving but levitating. He was lifting off the altar and shifting as if trying to escape. That was when he heard one voice falter, then start a different chant. This one slower in speed. He was sure the voice was Trucorze’s. It was soon joined by another two female voices. They chanted slower. Their voices higher. The sense of demand deeper, harder more compelling. They chanted with a combined will of iron and command. The two chants spiralled around each other. Most voices deep and low, chanting hard and fast. Three voices higher and clear, chanting slow and steady. To Severus it brought to mind the Muggle adage of being stuck between a rock or a hard place. There was no escape.

Harry’s struggles increased. Severus quickly placed both hands on Harry’s shoulders and pushed him back down to the altar, only to have Harry try to levitate off again. He looked at Sirius and saw worry mirrored in the other man’s eyes. They nodded to each other and leant their full chests over Harry’s body, using their weight to hold the boy down and keep him safe. Severus quickly checked he wasn’t covering Harry’s face, and when he was satisfied he wasn’t about to suffocate him, let more of his weight rest on Harry’s torso.

Then a wind suddenly whipped up and things started to fly around them. Looking about carefully, Severus noticed a cup, a book, a tiara, a locket, a snake, and a ring. They weren’t actually there, only a shade of them was, but the cloud of darkness that surrounded each object was there and very real. They all formed around Harry’s head, reminding Severus of a macabre kind of black demonic halo. Severus felt Swiftsand push at his leg carefully so he moved to Harry’s side to give the Goblins at Harry’s head more room.

The chanting changed again. It became rough and staccato, reminding Severus of war drums. That made a certain amount of bloodthirsty sense to him. Because now the Goblins were making war on the darkness floating there. He flinched when Ragnorak and Ironsword drew out daggers from their belts and methodically, quickly and quietly stabbed the dark cloud repeatedly. They watched each object dissipate leaving only the dark halo. A part of it still somehow attached to Harry. To his scar to be exact. It seemed to tease the two Goblins, darting this way and that, evading them when they made to grab it. It didn’t count on Trucorze of course. The ancient female was quicker than a snake as her hand darted out and grabbed the dark shadow holding it still as Ragnarok withdrew another dagger from somewhere on his person and quickly stabbed it. The other two daggers quickly joining the new one. It let out an ear splitting wail as it writhed on the daggers that had speared it. They pulled it away from Harry’s sleeping head, to pin it to the altar. They held it there doggedly and Severus could see sweat rolling down their faces, the struggle showing easily.

Trucorze broke from the ritual circle and came to lay one hand on Sirius and another on Severus. “You must take your child away from the altar,” she told them. Severus nodded and carefully pushed the still sleeping boy into Sirius’s waiting arms, then quickly scurried around to the other side of the altar, one hand went automatically to card through Harry’s hair. “Is he all right?” He asked almost out of breath and not knowing why.

Sirius cuddled the boy close to himself for a second before trying to hand him over to Severus. Severus almost took him before catching himself. “No you keep him. I don’t want him disturbed, just in case,” Severus whispered and settled himself just on the other side of Harry. He suddenly had a thought. “Matriarch Trucorze, would it cause an issue if I were to cast a Shield over Harry? I know that, thing, had a hold on him, I wouldn’t want to tempt it with Harry again, however I wouldn’t want to be the cause of any problems,” he said carefully. Last thing he wanted was that dark monstrosity to get loose and come after Harry but neither did he want to cause a distraction at best, and a complete cluster failure at worst.

Trucorze looked at him, or perhaps more accurately, at his soul and nodded. “Lord and Lady Magic have already judged you Severus Prince, or you would not be here now. The protection of your charge is in your hands. Do as you feel you must.”

Without even trying to digest her words Severus drew his wand in a moment and before he had even taken a new breath he had a Duelling level Shield cast over both Harry and Sirius. Encasing them both in an crystalline dome of light blue. If anything tried to get through, it would find it almost impossible to do so. He saw Sirius give him look and lift an eyebrow at the level of protection, after all he could have just cast the Shield on Harry alone instead of the both of them. Severus blushed and scowled as he looked away from the knowing smirk plastered on Sirius Black’s all too pretty face.

They turned their attention back to the Goblins fight with darkness. The dark wraith was still impaled by the daggers and was slowly leaking a dark tar like substance. It fell from the body and dropped away, dissipating before it hit the ground. Leaving nothing behind but a pile of dust that eventually before their eyes shrank in on itself and vanished.

Severus watched it happen. Mesmerised and horrified, he even had to swallow back the nausea threatening him. A glance at Sirius saw the man tight lipped, eyes wide and Harry pulled further into his chest as he tried to curl himself further around the boy.

Sirius looked at Severus, eyes meeting. “That is truly disgusting. And a part of it was in our boy.”

Severus nodded, not knowing what else to say. He turned back to Trucorze. “What is that? What were the images of things floating around Harry before that black shade was pulled out of each of them and him?”

Trucorze had returned to the circle after Severus had cast the shield. At the question she spoke softly to Swiftsand, then stepped away from the other Goblins and led Sirius, still carrying a sleeping Harry, Severus and Arcturus Black to a corner by the door. She leant heavily on her staff looking aged. He quietly conjured two settees for them, then blushed and looked at Lord Black, wondering if he had insulted the man with his actions.

“Thank you my boy, it’s been quite a long and tiring few days,” Lord Black said instead and gratefully folded himself into the seat, Trucorze seating herself beside him. Sirius carefully set himself and Harry onto the other settee and Severus eventually sat next to them. The three men turned and waited until the Gobliness was ready to speak.

She sighed and started. “I’m afraid we were wrong gentlemen,” she began. “We thought that the young boy held a Soul Leach. But what he held was much, much worse. When we first started to call it out of him we realised the truth of it, and took the steps required.”

“If it wasn’t a Soul Leach, then what was it?” Sirius demanded.

“Something much, much darker. Do you know what a Horcrux is?” she asked.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Arcturus was the only one to react. He growled and banged his fist into the arm of the settee he sat on. They turned to him is shock.

“Grandfather?” Sirius asked before looking down at the still sleeping Harry in his arms. He elbowed Severus. “Cast a Silencing Charm on Harry, just in case, I don’t want him to hear any of this.” Severus quickly used the wand still in his hand to cast the simple charm.

Looking abashed at his outburst Arcturus Black took a deep breath and began. “Let me apologize for my behaviour. I wouldn’t want to wake the child. I know he needs his rest. I was simply unaware something so evil could have attached itself to the poor boy.”

“I doubt anything will wake the boy in the next day or so. The ritual performed on him this day would have taxed him. Not to mention that he is not in perfect health for one his age. I dare say he is undersized for his years. Most likely as a result of being underfed,” Trucorze told them. “His nanny shall have to ensure he receives many small meals a day and he should be seen by a Healer as soon as possible.”

“Yes little Harry and I shall both be seen by the Black family Healer as soon as we can contact him. We both have need of his services, perhaps even you Severus?” Sirius asked.

Severus gave them an affronted look. “I have no need of a Healer, thank you very much,” Severus snarked. Then narrowed his eyes as Sirius just looked at him steadily. He finally sighed and relented. “Perhaps after today’s events and revelations, I might, be persuaded, to see a Healer,” Severus amended. His breath caught in his throat at the brilliant smile he received from Sirius. What would I do to be the recipient of more of those smiles? Severus wandered.

“Perhaps, Matriarch, you can explain the events we have been witness to?” Arcturus queried.

“Of course,” she said. “When we first saw the child we determined he had a contamination. The diagnoses lead us to believe he carried a Leach. A Leach is a spell gone wrong, a curse gone awry. Sometimes even a magical creature that has not known it has died. Something happens and it attaches to a living being. It has no knowledge, no life force and and very little influence. It must be removed because as a Leach it does drain life energy from the host body and eventually warp the soul and being they inhabit. The ritual to remove it, a simple one and requires little effort.

“A Horcrux however is something completely different. A Leach may draw on a hosts life force but it will take years for the effect to be felt. A Horcrux will bleed the strength from a host. It will exert an influence him. Change the course of his very life. A Horcrux can eventually destroy the one it has influence over. That is why it is very rare for a sentient being to host one so completely. Usually an inanimate object is a vessel.

“To create a Horcrux out of a living sentient being is an act of madness or desperation, definitely must come from an act of violence. An act of murder. When we began the ritual to remove the Leach, we realized the truth and took steps. The shades of the items we saw were the other receptacles of the Horcrux attached to your son. The ritual we performed called the pieces of the Horcrux to us. Once they were brought together we made them reintegrate into one being and eventually to become corporeal enough to stab it with the ritual athemes. Those daggers were made of Goblin wrought silver and steel, imbued with Basilisk venom. Nothing should be able to stand against them, especially two athemes. However this creature required three athemes to kill it and destroy it.

“We don’t conclusively know who the creator of the Horcrux was, yet we can conclude it was a very powerful witch or wizard. Most Horcruxes in history have been created by wizards however so we can safely assume a wizard created the one we saw here. There are very few wizards that powerful as I have said, or that knowledgeable of the Dark Arts needed to create a Horcrux such as this one.”

Severus didn’t want to hear anymore, but knew he had to. The idea itself was making his skin crawl. He wanted to ask questions, knew he should but couldn’t seem to formulate words nor create the actions required for speech. Thankfully Sirius seemed far more together.

“You’ve told us what it is Madam, after a fashion, but not the means of its creation, or its creator,” Sirius said solemnly.

“Yes young wizard, I am as you say, beating around the bush. This makes me far from comfortable to speak of. A Horcrux is a rendered soul. A rendered human soul. Its creation requires Dark Arts, Dark Spells and Rituals culminating in the murder of an innocent. The more powerful the individual murdered or the more gruesome or painful the murder, then the stronger the Horcrux created.”

“Whose? Are they alive? Can we find them?” Arcturus asked.

“We can only assume the body of the creator is dead, no body can live once the soul has been rendered and ripped so many times. As to who, I believe that only one wizard has been defeated recently who practiced so much In the Dark Arts and vanished at confronting that child in your arms,” she told them.

As one they all looked at the sleeping Harry. Then slowly nodded.

“So,” Severus croaked then cleared his throat. “So, V-Voldemort did not die that night in Godric’s Hollow. If his soul lives on in this plain, then he was not dead. He has a shade of life and could eventually return. However, the ritual you just performed destroyed his soul entirely. Thus making his Royal Darkness well and truly dead?”

“Well and truly,” the Matriarch agreed smugly.

Severus released a huge sigh and let himself sink into the settee, going boneless.

“Well, that clears up one thing. We still have to find out why Dumbledore clouded our Heart Chain though,” Sirius told them.

“Mhmm,” Severus agreed. “Indeed, but that can wait until tomorrow. I believe I need my bed before tackling that old man.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

Severus sat and contemplated. He swirled the Cognac in his glass and stared at it. It held no answers, more’s the pity. He stood and paced the small seating area in the bedroom he had used from his first night in Black Manor. Every other night he had had Harry sleeping in a cot in a corner of the room. Tonight however, Sirius had handed Harry to Dewie, the ever present Nanny elf. She had been joined by Lilac, the Prince Nanny elf and they had negotiated duties between them. Sirius and Severus had been summarily dismissed and sent off to bed.

Now he found himself alone and pacing or alone and sitting. He took a swallow of his drink and enjoyed the heat. He’d found the bottle on his coffee table along with two brandy bowls. So he’d poured himself about two fingers worth and tried to relax and enjoy it. Only he felt restless. He was unbuttoning his robes, trying to make himself more comfortable, when his bedroom door opened. Sirius stood there, leaning against the jamb.

Severus frowned at him. “What are you doing here, Black? What do you want?” Severus growled, trying to sound annoyed as he usually would when addressing the other man.

It failed desperately. He blushed like a teenager as Sirius quirked an eyebrow at him. He stepped into the room and carefully closed the door behind him. “I think we need to have a discussion, don’t you?”

Severus sighed and went back to the armchair he’d vacated. He indicated the other chair and poured out another Cognac. He watched as Sirius slowly walked to the other chair and sat down. He leant over and took the other glass. Each move slow and unhurried, his gaze never leaving Severus’s face. Then he smirked and sat back in the armchair, casually spreading his legs, just enough.

Severus cleared his throat harshly and valiantly tried to keep his gaze from straying. He lost the battle in half a second when his eye level dropped to quickly glance at Sirius’s crotch. He violently wrenched his gaze back to the other man’s face, finding Sirius now smiling at him openly.

“We have quite a bit to discuss, Severus. We are meant for eachother. If it hadn’t been for Dumbledore’s interference, we would probably be married by now. Raising our own family. Building a life together,” Sirius said.

“It does not mean-” Severus began then cut himself off. “I do not know…” he sighed and shrugged. He lifted his glass to his lips and took a healthy swallow. “I’m afraid I feel completely lost, Sirius. These past days have destroyed everything I thought I knew. Changed my very perspective, opened my eyes to things unimaginable to me previously. I think, actually no, I can not think coherently anymore. You?” Severus finished, waving a hand in the other man’s general direction.

“Hmm,” Sirius began. “Why don’t we start from the beginning. I can admit that I wanted to get to know you from second one all those years ago. Wanted to be in your presence almost desperately. Then in a second my regard changed to a dark loathing. I did not understand why at the time, nor did I even question it. It was all consuming and all compelling. Is that how it was for you?” Sirius took a swallow of his own drink, waiting as Severus thought back.

“You must understand my circumstances at the time,” he began. “My mother was a witch, but my father was a muggle. She wasn’t really allowed to tell me about the wizarding world. I think in the beginning they had a good marriage. I have to believe they loved each other. Otherwise why would she have given up everything to marry him. Actually the memories given me by the Prince Wardstone reaffirm just how much she loved him. Over the years however things changed. I know she did not perform magic as we would now. Everything at home was done the muggle way. She hardly even carried her wand that I remember.

“I only really remember my parents fighting, sometimes even physically. Well those weren’t fights as such, my father was a violent man, especially when he had been drinking. So those were the earliest of my memories. An unhealthy and unsettled home life, and that was what I knew, until the day I met a red haired girl, in a field near home. She was so magical one could see her shining with it. Her name was Lily Evens and she was my first and only friend.

“I knew about Hogwarts and explained it to her. I told her the few things mother had told me. Then we were on the train and headed to school. That was where I had seen you. You were with Potter. His interest in Lily was obvious from the beginning, but she was my only friend, the sister of my heart and I was terrified I’d lose her to him. I know that makes no sense, but emotions rarely do I’m afraid.

“As much as I disliked Potter, I was intrigued by you. I can freely admit I even felt drawn to you, and I could not understand why but I could barely keep my eyes off you. I wanted to speak with you. I wanted, no, I hungered for your attention. Then as we waited for sorting it all went away, replaced by irrational hatred that I could not question. It was all consuming and practically debilitating,” Severus finished quietly, then carefully drained the rest of his drink.

“Hmm,” Sirius said thoughtfully. He leant forward and set his now empty glass on the coffee table. “So Severus Snape, answer me this. Do you believe that Dumbledore cursed us? Shrouded our Heart Chain. Changed the course of our lives. Set us on a different path to the one we were fated to walk? Because I do. I believe what Trucorze has told us. I know that one second I wanted to get to know you, at all cost, and the next, I wouldn’t have spat on you if you were on fire, let alone trouble to cast an Aguamenti on you. Actually all I really wanted to do was make your very existence an absolute misery. Now that I can think about it, it all feels wrong to me,” Sirius finished.

Severus rubbed his free hand over his face, eventually balancing his glass of Cognac on the arm of his chair, and ran both hands over his face and hair, ending up with scrubbing both hands through his hair vigorously, leaving his usual fall of silky, heavy hair in complete disarray. “Do I believe the rather intimidating Goblin Matriarch? Yes, yes I do. Do I understand Dumbledore? No, not in the least. Can I even begin to comprehend how his actions have influenced my life, our lives? I am getting an inkling of what might have been, and if I let myself think on it, I might find myself having murderous thoughts about an old goat.” Severus rubbed vaguely at an eyebrow, gaze moving over Sirius. “I could…my life…I don’t…” he was floundering. Not knowing what to do he flailed his hands about as his throat closed over and breathing became difficult.

Suddenly there were warm hands on either side of his face, thumbs running lightly over his cheekbones, and carefully tilting his face up to look into dark grey and stormy eyes, in a face so very close to his own.

“We can fix this Sev. We have the time. We have the ability and I think we want to. Do you want to fix this, fix us? Because I really want to. I want to have what we should have always had. Have us and between us raise Harry and maybe raise more than only Harry, maybe give him some brothers and sisters? What do you think?”

Severus sucked in shaking breaths. Did he want the same? A future? A future with Sirius? Sirius and Harry? Sirius, Harry and maybe more children? He didn’t have to think about it very hard or for very long. He inhaled one final steadying breath and screwed up his courage. “I’d like that future very much.”

Sirius smiled blindingly and stood back. He took both of Severus’s hands in his own and pulled him to his feet, chuckling happily the whole time. “Brilliant Sev, that’s brilliant. Now come on, it’s been an extremely long day for both of us. Let’s get to bed.”

Severus stuttered to a halt, his eyes going to his large bed and swallowed hard.

Sirius chuckled harder. “The soul is definitely willing Dearest, but like I said it’s been an extremely long day and unfortunately the body is not currently able. Perhaps tomorrow. Tonight I’d just really like to be in bed with you. Six months in Azkaban are definitely going to lead to nightmares. I’d really rather not sleep alone.”

“Should we discuss the revelations about the Dark Lord, the Horcruxes and Harry?” Severus asked grudgingly.

“Nope. Not a chance. I can not even begin to twist my brain around all of that. So nope,” Sirius said adamantly, a shiver making its way through his body.

Severus nodded his understanding and led the way to the bed, pulling Sirius over with him. With slow and careful fingers they helped each other to undress and climb under the covers wearing only their underwear. They soon moved to the middle of the bed and without meaning to they tangled themselves in each other. A blissfully peaceful sleep quickly followed.

CHAPTER NINE

Severus woke slowly to the familiar feeling of being watched. He cracked an eye open and saw Harry grinning at him from his spot levitating over him. He grinned back at him and Harry giggled and abruptly dropped onto Severus’s chest, knocking the air out of him and making him oof loudly and jackknife. Sitting up abruptly brought Sirius awake with a startled yell, arms coming up to defend himself.

“Calm down, Sirius. It’s only Harry. Gifting us with his good morning wake up call,” Severus groaned, trying to get his breath back.

Sirius was blinking himself awake furiously. His eyes finally focussing on Harry he smiled and plucked the boy off Severus and dropping him between them in the bed. “What’s his wake up call?” he asked before blowing a raspberry into Harry’s belly, causing raucous giggles to erupt from the boy.

Finally breathing properly again Severus smiled down at Harry and joined in by tickling him. “Yesterday I woke up to find him levitating over me. He did the same this morning, except when I smiled at him, he took it for permission to drop down on me. I wasn’t prepared.”

Sirius looked at him, then back at the giggling boy. He helped Severus tickle him, pushing Harry into gales of laughter, as his arms and legs flailed all over the place. Then he grabbed Harry’s feet, bringing them both to his mouth. “No dropping on Da, okay? We don’t want Da to be hurt,” he said, before blowing raspberries on his feet.

“Yes, I’m sure he’ll pay attention to that,” Severus remarked, and went on tickling Harry regardless.

Two sharp pops had the three turning heads to find two exasperated house elves standing at the end of the bed.

“Lilac, Dewie, did someone get away from you?” Severus asked.

“We’re afraid so, Master Severus,” Dewie said, eyes cast down and wringing her hands.

Sirius chuckled. “Don’t worry about it ladies. This one’s a little scamp, always has been.”

“Thank you Master Sirius. We’ll take the little Master back to the nursery,” Lilac said. She and Dewie both made a come here gesture and Harry squealed as he was levitated straight into their arms. “Come to Dewie and Lilac, little elfling. Yes you are as much as handful as any little elfling. So precious. So precocious. It has been many years since Dewie and Lilac has had a precious human elfling to care for. We are pleased and honoured by the trusts placed in us to care for such a treasure,” she practically cooed as she cuddled a grinning Harry to her, while Dewie ran her fingers through those dark locks, making him push into her hand like a kitten.

Severus smiled and stifled a yawn.

“Dewie, what time is it?” Sirius asked, pulling at a strand of Severus’s hair.

“The sun has not risen yet, Master,” she replied before they popped away, taking a still smiling Harry with them.

Severus sighed and flopped back on the bed. He rubbed both hands over his face and hair vigorously, seriously thinking about going back to sleep. Sudden movement had him dropping both hands and looking up. Sirius had him straddled, one leg on either side of of him. The man sported a huge grin and his eyes were flashing wickedly.

He took both of Severus’s wrists into his hands and slowly brought them to rest over Severus’s head on his pillow. Then he carefully slid his body down and over Severus’s own until he had their legs tangled together and they were chest to chest. “Well, we’ve got some hours left, what shall we do to pass the time?” he asked softly.

“Well, we could go back to sleep,” Severus ventured.

“Maybe,” Sirius chuckled, moving slowly until he could nuzzle at Severus’s neck.

“Maybe not,” Severus sighed then groaned when he felt Sirius run his teeth gently over his skin. He stretched his body under the other man, deciding in that second to let Sirius do whatever he wanted. He moved his head, giving Sirius more access to his neck and wrapped his legs around the other man’s waist. The move brought his already hard cock to rub against an answering hardness from Sirius and both men groaned.

Sirius lifted up and summoned his wand. He muttered something and Severus found them both sans underwear, with warming slickness at his asshole. “A lubrication charm already?” Severus queried. “A little sure of yourself?”

“A man can live in hope, can’t he? Besides I cast the charm on both of us, just in case,” Sirius grinned, before lowering himself again and taking Severus’s lips prisoner.

Severus found his mouth plundered and loved it. He wrapped his tongue around Sirius’s and felt his own breath stutter in pleasure. Sirius stroked his tongue around Severus’s, then moved on to play around his teeth. His hands had released Severus’s wrists, now they ran over the man’s skin, running along his ribs, scratching lightly at Severus’s thighs as they rested either side of him, he tweaked at pebbled nipples. All the while his mouth had Severus’s lips occupied or was lavishing nips and kisses wherever it could reach. The single minded attention quickly had Severus shaking and whimpering in pleasure. Hands clutching at Sirius and his hips were thrusting shallowly against the other man’s, relishing the feeling of two hard cocks rubbing together.

Severus heard moaning getting louder and realised it was himself. He had a fleeting thought that maybe he should be ashamed of his behavior. But the thought was so fleeting it could have been a snitch, there and gone before it was fully glimpsed. How in Merlin’s name am I supposed to think with you doing that? Severus thought.

“You’re not supposed to think right now, Severus. If you can still think I’m definitely doing something wrong,” Sirius said into his skin, then pulled a nipple into his mouth and sucked.

Severus gasped and arched off the bed. “How-how?” He managed around his grasping for breath.

“You mumble what you’re thinking, what you like and don’t like, what you want me to do. You’re bossy in bed. It’s incredible. So hot,” Sirius told him in between hot breaths, sucks and wet licks.

The combination had Severus burning, not just from embarrassment at letting his mouth run, but at what Sirius was doing to him. Then Sirius bit lightly into his nipple and Severus groaned and felt his legs splay open, just opening himself up in invitation. Sirius took it. He ran his finger from the tip of Severus’s rigid cock, down past his balls and to his perineum. He pressed there for a few seconds as Severus moaned beneath him, then moved his finger again all the way to Severus’s waiting hole. He circled there briefly before pushing in. Severus bucked and groaned, his hands going to bury themselves in Sirius’s hair. He didn’t pull, he used the grip to ground himself.

“You’re not going to fly away Severus. I won’t let you. You’re mine now. Like you always should have been. Not letting you go. Not ever. Not ever. Not now. All mine. All mine…” Sirius whispered into the air between them, then he reached over again and kissed Severus’s waiting lips. His fingers never left the tight little hole they had found. He dipped one finger in and out pressing in further and further.

Severus found himself thrusting onto that finger, the pleasure spiraling out from there and into the rest of him. He felt another push into him and figured Sirius was now using two fingers. He threw his head back and moaned, he couldn’t stop himself. It felt too good. Sirius was doing this to him, making him feel like this. So good. So treasured. The focus of the man over him. He ground down on those fingers and moaned louder when he felt more pressure pushing into him. He panted and his hands found Sirius’s shoulders. He tightened his hold on them throwing his head from side to side on his pillow. He was panting. He was so hot. He was flying. He was dying. No he was living. He was free and he was owned and then he was being taken as Sirius adjusted himself and slowly, slowly so so slowly pressed his thick, hard cock into him.

Sirius was taking him in a glorious agony, inch by inch. Moving further into him with each inhale of breath Severus took. Then Severus felt him as he was fully inside. Hips locked together, bodies flush and Severus had never felt this full this wanted. He opened eyes he hadn’t realised he had closed and found silver grey eyes above his own. Sirius was over him, around him, enclosing him, enfolding him as he had both of Severus’s legs over his elbows, and when had that happened?. But given everything, Severus had never felt so safe. He reach up and touched his lips to Sirius’s own. He wrapped his arms around the other man’s neck and drew him down.

Then Sirius started to move, to thrust and Severus stopped breathing. Stopped knowing how to function. He just held on. His tongue though had other ideas. It started to match Sirius’s thrusts into his body. As Sirius fucked him, Severus’s tongue fucked back. The movements drawing almost identical groans from both men. Until Sirius wrenched himself away and reared up enough to release one of Severus’s legs, only to grab at the head board. With a growl he changed his pace, slow languid thrusts sped up and grew in power until the two bodies were slapping together, breaths and groans mingling so one couldn’t tell which was whose.

Severus had kept his free leg high on Sirius’s waist, now he wrapped it over Sirius’s back and pulled him in tight, making his lover swear and double his efforts. Severus was losing his mind to the pleasures running wildly through him. His skin registered heated touch. His eyes only saw the man over him. His nose recognised the scent of this man and the scent of their congress. His ears heard the sounds they made, their panting and heavy breathing, the slap of their bodies. His mind and body registered just how close he was to falling off the edge. Nothing could stop him. Sirius was telling him to fall over, calling him over and Severus was going, following.

Then his ears registered something else. A squeal of laughter coming closer, not in the room, but closer nonetheless. Both men had heard it and stopped. Sirius lodged deep inside him, making Severus feel amazingly and incredibly perfect. Then the squealing ran right past their door and two female house elf voices were calling for the little elfling to come back.

A bark of laughter burst out of Sirius, making him jerk inside Severus and the laugh threatening to escape Severus’s throat turned into an uncontrollable moan as the sudden movement pushed him right over the edge and he came all over himself.

As he tightened and jerked around Sirius, the other man stiffened and groaned, coming deep inside Severus’s heat. Together they jerked and gasped, their final release having taken them both off guard, before Sirius collapsed beside Severus. They were both grinning foolishly, and chuckling.

“Trust that little scamp,” Sirius whispered pulling Severus into his arms. “Two nanny elves and he still gets away from them,” Sirius said, then yawned.

Severus burrowed his face into Sirius’s chest, he cast a wandless cleaning charm and in seconds both men were fast asleep again.

CHAPTER TEN

When next he awoke Severus could swear it was with the smell of croissants and hot chocolate. Nose practically quivering from the scents he cracked an eye open, mouth already salivating.

“I was wondering if you would wake up from the scent alone,” Sirius drawled.

Severus, now awake quirked a sardonic eyebrow and opened his mouth imperiously. Instead of having the bite of croissant he was requesting popped in, he felt a finger run lightly over his bottom lip.

“Merlin, Severus, do you have any idea what I want to do to that mouth?” Sirius groaned.

Severus let his tongue lick the tip of Sirius’s finger, then wrapped his lips around it and sucked the digit greedily. Pulling it in as far as it would go, wrapping his agile tongue around it and moving it in and out of his mouth few times.

“Lord Sev, we don’t have time for this right now. The Goblins are expected. But Gods I-I-” Sirius stuttered before Severus took pity on him and released his finger, rolling off the bed a second later. He strolled, naked to the other side of the bed and took a cup of hot chocolate from the tray on the bedside table. He moved it around his mouth for a few seconds, letting its heat increase the temperature. He moved as soon as Sirius swung his legs over the side of the bed. Before his Gryffindor knew it, Severus was on his knees and pushing Sirius’s knees wide apart. Then he swallowed Sirius’s hard cock into his hot hot mouth and sucked hard. He bobbed his head a few times, while pressing the flat of his tongue against the vein on the bottom of Sirius’s cock and kept sucking, alternating the pressure from hard to soft as he willed. Then he hummed and his fingers found the button behind Sirius’s balls. As Severus pressed on Sirius’s perineum and increased his suction a touch all the while humming, Sirius howled and pressed further into that hot cavern of a mouth and came so hard he shook all over.

Severus released him and watched as his lover fell back on the bed, breathing as hard as the Hogwarts Express. He ran a finger over the spent cock and smiled as it twitched. Sirius groaned and spread his legs wider in invitation. Severus smiled wickedly. “Like you said we really don’t have time,” he said. “We still need to shower and change, I’m afraid.” He bit his lip when he saw Sirius’s gaze drop to his hard cock.

“But you haven’t and I want…” Sirius pouted at him.

Severus took a step away and turned towards his bathroom. “Well, if you really must,” he threw over his shoulder before stepping into the room. “You can jack me off while you finger me in the shower,” he suggested as if it were a trial. He laughed as the sound of a floundering male trying to get off the bed in quicktime met his ears.

*****

It was an hour later that both men entered Lord Black’s study, hair still damp and holding hands. Grins plastered on both faces.

Four Goblins stood there with Lord Black, all conversing quietly. They turned to see the two men enter. Ragnorak burst into a loud, wicked guffaw. Quickly rushing over to clap both men on the back soundly, causing Severus to stumble and Sirius to pull him closer to keep him from falling. “It is good to see you have come to terms, so to speak. At least definitely come eh?” He winked at both men raunchily and made to clap them again. Sirius quickly stepped in front of Severus and took the brunt of it. Severus had no qualms whatsoever ever about hiding behind Sirius in this, none at all.

“And he wonders why I keep such a close eye on him,” Trucorze muttered loudly, shaking her head. “If I let him run the Horde by himself, we would descend into juvenile parties, orgies and the such. Then nothing would get done.”

“Perhaps so oh mother mine, but at least we wouldn’t have so many grumpy Goblins, is all I say,” Ragnarok snarked back as if this was an age old argument.

“None the less, my eldest, we are not here to discuss your ideas. We are here to discuss what has happened and what needs to happen. Now sit and do not make your mother look foolish. I had hoped we would leave this entire situation with the ability to call the Black and Prince families as friends,” she chastised. But the warmth in her voice let it be known how much she loved and valued her son.

Ragnorak walked over to her and took one gnarled and aged hand in his and kissed the knuckles softly. “As always mother, as you wish it,” he said softly and sat in a chair. The old Matriarch cackled and gently patted his cheek.

She then turned sharply and eyed Ironsword. “What have you been up to?”

The Goblin stood straighter and gave the Matriarch a quick bow. Then he turned to the rest of them. “When we left here yesterday we received a message from the Ministry of Magic. We were requested to give evidence of other witches and wizards imprisoned incorrectly. So naturally I went, and took my very long iron sword with me. They did not need my evidence, they needed me to get evidence for them from members of the Wizengamot. I must admit I was not gentle. The Unspeakables had called for a full sitting, and whether the members wanted to be there or not, they were there. I do believe the Muggle saying is ‘By hook or by thief?’,” he finished looking around.

Severus cleared his throat “By hook or by crook,” he explained then gestured for Ironsword to keep going when the goblin inclined his head in thanks.

“Yes, by hook or by crook. Almost every member of the Wizengamot was there. Many still in their sleep wear. When it became obvious that no one was willing to speak, Croaker asked if I could do anything. So I did. Goblins use Staves as you may have noticed. I do not. My staff is my sword,” he said pulling his long sword into his hands. “A staff has an inherent gentleness, as it is wood. A sword has none of that. It is iron and hard. A sword is a tool for killing and cutting through. And that was what I did. I allowed my power to cut through their minds and cut out the memories they held, the thoughts they had in regard to the questions posed to them. The Unspeakables needed information. I gave it to them, happily. Many were left bleeding when I was finished.

“However we were not done yet. The information I gathered led us to many in the Ministry itself. As of today there is a long list of Ministry employees who are to be tried by the Wizengamot. Starting with Bartemius Crouch in just a few hours time. Albus Dumbledore was also on their list. Unfortunately he has not been seen since some time yesterday. It is believed he is in his office at Hogwarts. However no one can get in there to see him.”

Arcturus Black rubbed his hands together. “Did all the members of the Wizengamot survive your particular brand of interrogations, my friend?” he asked with a smirk.

Ironsword’s smile was all sharp wicked teeth. “Oh Arctur. They all survived. However the ones that knew and allowed your grandson to be imprisoned without trial or question, and even suspected he might be innocent, well, they bled quite a bit. Their interrogations were quite painful and they will never ever allow that to happen again, not without the loss of their magic and mayhap even their very lives. The vengeance of a goblin can be patient and all, encompassing.”

Arcturus nodded. “Thankyou,” he said quietly.

Severus elbowed Sirius. “Why…?” he whispered.

“I have no idea…” Sirius whispered back, eyes narrowed as he looked between Irondword and his grandfather.

Trucorze nodded and clapped her hands. A Staff appeared in her hand. “Well then, if Dumbledore won’t come to us, then we shall go to Dumbledore. Hogwarts will not keep me out. We shall confront him now and have our questions answered.”

“Ah, wait,” Sirius spoke up. He nervously bit his lip before continuing. “Why, why are you doing all this? You’ve helped so much already, and I am truly grateful. Without you I would still be alone and in hell, but why are you helping us?”

Ragnorak laughed. “I was wondering when someone would ask that question. It is simple young wizard. The Black accounts and vaults are huge and many. Trucorze is the Black account manager. And if my mother, our matriarch, wants to wage a tiny war against the ones that hurt her favorite, best, biggest and most lucrative client then we shall do so. In fact I’m sure the Horde has made war for less. We would do so now, but your kind has not yet recovered from our last encounter. So, now, just as before, we touch a finger to her and let her take us where she wills. Up, up, we don’t have all day,” he stood up, flailing his hands to make them all stand also.

Severus stifled a grin, watching a warrior goblin flail his hands around was rather incongruous and a bit hilarious. Either way they stood and went to stand around Trurcorze where she stood, holding her Staff. Her face a picture of concentration and grim calm. With eyes closed she lifted her Staff and Severus closed his eyes too, just waiting for the strange sensation of no longer being in one place but suddenly in another. No feel of travelling, just instant not there and there.

A gasp and curse in Scottish brogue caught his attention and he opened his eyes again. They had stayed in position except they now all stood outside of Dumbledore’s office, facing a furious Minerva McGonagall, who stood before them armed with her wand.

“What are ye doing here? What do you want? How did you get here?” She demanded in quick succession. Eyes wary and hard as their gaze flew over everyone present. They stopped briefly on the Blacks and narrowed further on Severus. “What is the meaning of this?”

Trucorze stepped from the middle of them and stood in front of the furious professor. “We are here for answers Minerva McGonagall. We know no one has been able to enter the Headmaster’s office since yesterday. We know he is still there. We shall enter and demand our answers. Dumbledore has much to tell us, much to explain.” She looked around her, face taking on a look of slight worry. “Why does Hogwarts feel so odd? What has happened?”

McGonagall sucked in a breath and sheathed her wand. “We do not know. All of a sudden yesterday, Hogwarts started feeling off, lost even, if you will. Albus was nowhere to be found but all Point Me spells lead us here. We have all tried to enter the office, even the house elves, but to no avail. He might have locked himself in. He might be hurt. The house elves say their connection with him is confused. Not even the portraits can help. If you can help it would be appreciated.”

Trucorze nodded her head and walked to the wall beside the door. She placed her hand on the stone and closed her eyes.

“Do we need to find the Wardstone?” Severus asked.

“Yes and no, young wizard. Hogwarts does have a Wardstone, after a fashion. The Hogwarts Wardstone has integrated itself into the very stones it supported. The Stone is now a part of the building itself. I must speak with it. For that, it must taste me. Read my worth.” Then she held out her hand, palm up and Swiftsand deftly ran the blade of her dagger over it.

Severus heard the gasp from McGonagall, but before the professor could say anything, Trucoze had run her bloody palm over the wall. Then she rested her hand there and closed her eyes. “Hogwarts, we request entrance.” She said, her voice gravel and shale. Stone speaking to stone. Nothing happened for a few seconds, then the door to the Headmaster’s office opened.

McGonagall was through first. They carefully trooped in behind her. Severus did not know what to expect, but it wasn’t at they saw. Seated behind his desk was Albus Dumbledore. His face was blank. His hands fidgeted restlessly. His eyes stared forward. But most noticeably, he did not acknowledge their appearance. He was there, yet he was not.

McGonagall went to approach him, but Swiftsand held her back. Instead Ironsword and Trucorze went forward and rounded the desk. One on either side. Still Dumbledore did not move, barely even blinked. “What has happened?” Severus asked. He looked at his older colleague, worried about her. She had her hands to her mouth.

Then she blinked and seemed to collect herself. “We need Pomfrey,” she declared and strode to the fireplace, placing a call to the Mediwitch as soon as the green floo powder had hit the flames. By the time Pomfrey walked through the flames, Trucorze had her fingers on Dumbledore’s temples.

The two witches made to interfere but Ragnorak stepped between them. “My mother shall not harm your wizard. We need answers from him. And something has happened. This is the fastest way to find out what it is.”

“Is it like Legilimency? Will it hurt him?” Pomfrey demanded.

“If it was Ironsword conducting it, then yes, it would be very painful and Dumbledore would be bleeding already. My husband is not gentle. Our Matriarch however shall not harm him. She will punish him if she deems it proper to do so however. But I do not think that shall be necessary. Please let us all be seated. This could take a while.” Swiftsand ushered them into chairs. Her face brooking no argument. So they sat and waited.

*****

Severus did not know what time it was. House elves had brought them food and drink at regular intervals. They were all still there. No one had left the office. Trucorze finally lifted her fingers from Dumbledore. She ran her palm over the old man’s eyes. “Sleep,” she whispered and sleep he did, pillowing his head on his folded arms. She trudged her way over to where the rest of them were seated in the sitting area and threw herself into a waiting armchair. Ragnorak handed her a goblet of something and a sandwich and she wolfed it down. Severus worried about the inside of her mouth at the speed she ate, goblins were not known for having straight and safe teeth after all. But if she did bite herself she gave no indications of it.

“Well!” Pomfrey demanded impatiently, wringing her hands together.

Trucorze waved a hand. “His mind is gone. Destroyed. His sanity, on a knife edge for so long has fled. The Dumbledore we thought we knew was a façade and now even that has left. I need a Penseive. There is too much to tell and I am too tired to tell it,” she said.

“My Penseive is in my quarters,” Severus offered.

“Thank you for the offer my friend, but a wizard made Penseive will not hold a goblin’s thought nor memory,” Ragnorak told him. Instead he pulled out his necklace and extricated a charm. As he threw it in the air it expanded to form a rather large, intricate silver bowl. The sides covered with goblin scrollwork. As it fell back to earth it span and then slowed its dissent until it floated between them all. Trucorze touched her finger to her temple and flipped a golden filament into the bowl, where it swirled and grew until it almost overflowed the rim. It rumbled and boiled for a few seconds, then calmed and presented a flat surface to them. “We may enter now,” Swiftsand said softly and extended her hand. They all followed suit and in a blink they again were in Dumbledore’s office.

A younger Dumbledore sat behind the desk, another young man sat before him. The young man looked familiar somehow.

“No Tom, I will not offer you the position of Professor for Defence Against the Dark Arts. I really don’t think you are suitable, especially with the company you keep now or the ideals you espouse. Our previous Head Master denied you the position as do I. Do not come back. There shall never be a place for you here at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore told him callously. The young man grinned woodenly and that was when Severus recognised him.

“The Dark Lord,” he whispered.

“That’s Voldemort?” Sirius growled.

Severus nodded. “Yes the grin. It is the one he uses before he curses someone.”

And Severus was right for in a flash, the young man had a wand in his hand and Dumbledore was Stupefied. Lord Voldemort stood and started to pace, flicking his wand angrily, back and forth. “I won’t have a place at Hogwarts? How dare you old man, just how dare you? What makes you think I need your permission. I do not. If I want to leave a part of me here, I will. Intact you will be the one to look after it for me.” He walked over to a small bag by the desk and withdrew something from it. He placed it on the desk in front of Dumbledore. “Do you know what that is old man? It is me. A part of me at least. There are more like it but this one you will care for.” Now he layered spell after spell on the Headmaster, then curse and hex. So many that the old man looked like he was bowing under the weight of them. They couldn’t really hear what he was saying but the wand movements were quite visable.

Severus walked forward and looked at the desk. The item there looked like a tiara. That was when it hit him, he had thought it looked familiar, and it did. “This is one of the shades that were pulled to Harry at his healing.”

Sirius and Arcturus were there in a flash. Arcturus cocked his head and breathed through his teeth. “Do you recognise this Minerva?”

They looked to her and saw comprehension dawn on her face. “Ravenclaw’s, lost Diadem,” she breathed. “What has he done to it, why does he have it?”

Arcturus answered her. “He turned it and a number of other items into Horcruxes. Do you know what they are?” He had to make a quick grab for her as she swayed on her feet.

Pomfrey was not so lucky and sat heavily sat on the floor, face pale and hands shaking. “Why would he do such a thing?”

Swiftsand shrugged and helped the Mediwitch up again. Keeping her upright until she had her balance back.

They watched as Voldemort placed the Diadem into a drawer and closed it again. He patted Dumbledore on the head, waved his wand around then focussed back on the Head Master. He obliviated him before releasing him. “Good luck keeping a DADA professor for more than a year, and don’t forget to listen to my voice and look after me,” he said and walked out.

And then they were out, out of the Pensieve and back in the Headmaster’s currant office. Severus stumbled to the desk and opened a certain drawer. He expected to find the Diadem. He gasped at what he saw. Sirius was behind him in a flash.

“Dust,” Sirius said “only dust.”

“Of coarse young wizard, when we destroyed the Horcruxes yesterday, we destroyed not only the soul pieces, but the vessels. We could only save your son because you anchored him to life. Now just think, Voldemort left his soul piece here with Dumbledore for all these years. I have found evidence of its influence on him in his mind. It has corrupted the wizard completely. It fed on his own beliefs and augmented them. Allowing him to give reign to his basest thoughts and desires. When we destroyed it we destroyed the influence, but because they have been linked for so long, in breaking the connection we broke him too. He has been under its control for too long I believe.”

“So all his acts, the bad things he has done. His spells on us, leaving Harry with Petunia, that was all the Horcrux?” Severus asked, almost willing it.

Trucorze hummed. “The boy, perhaps was the influence of the soul piece. The soul piece wanted the child dead, or worse. If Dumbledore knew what Petunia was like then yes, yet I think it only acted to enhance what was already there to begin with. As for the curses against you, well like I said the Horcrux only enhanced what it found. Dumbledore can see Heart Chains. Can see them and is determined to break them. He has a hatred for them like no other. It all started because his own lack of a Heart Chain caused him pain and that warped him so he decided to destroy them in others. There are others he has done this to over the years. I shall have Rightseer remedy that in due course, if at all possible. Now however we have a choice to make. What shall we do with Albus Dumbledore? What shall we tell people when they ask about it?” she finished, hands steepled and gaze moving over them all.

“Someone needs to take the time to explain to me what is going on, but for right now I believe we should take the Headmaster to St. Mungo,” McGonagall said. “He needs more medical attention then we have access to here.” She finished looking to Pomfrey for confirmation.

The Mediwitch nodded sadly and agreed. The two women stood and went to Dumbledore. A few seconds later the three of them were gone through the floo, leaving three wizards and four goblins in the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“Well,” Sirius began. “That was interesting and more than a little sad,” he sighed.

“Rather,” Severus agreed. “Yes it was Dumbledore, but no it was not, but yet again, yes it was. I think I need a drink.”

Arcturus snorted. “You need a drink? I’ve got some Armagnac back at the Manor. You can make inroads into it tonight.”

“Offer accepted,” Sirius said, grinning. “Well there’s nothing more for us here, is there? Because if this is it for today, I want to take Severus home.” He waited for Trucorze to nod before grabbing Severus close and tried to Side Along apparate them out of there. He groaned when they simply span in place. “I forgot about that,” he said rubbing the back of his neck, chagrined.

Severus chuckled and kissed him. “At least you made me laugh. Come on, let’s walk to the gates and get out of here.”

CHAPTER ELEVEN (the end)

Severus looked at Sirius, not quite knowing how to react. Harry toddled around them, getting into mischief and being generally adorable. That wasn’t the problem. Not that what was in front of them was really a problem. It was just unexpected.

He and Sirius had returned from Hogwarts a few hours before. They had spent the time with Harry. Playing with him and showering attention on him. That had all stopped when Breeksy the Black Head elf had come to them, wringing his hands. “What’s the matter Breeksy?” Sirius asked, looking up from where he and Harry had been stacking building blocks into tall towers, before a giggling Harry would knock them down again, and Severus would use magic to sort the blocks into separate colored piles, letting the toys float around before setting them down again.

“There is a House Elf asking for audience, my Lord? Usually I would go to His Lordship, but he’s not being back yet,” Breeksy said, agitated.

“Do you think this elf is a danger to Harry or any of us?” Sirius asked.

“I not thinks so, Sir,” Breeksy answered.

“Then is it looking for a Bond?” Sirius asked again.

“No Sir, he’s a Bonded House Elf.”

Now they were really confused. Severus shrugged at Sirius, who nodded. “If you think he’s safe, show him in.”

Breeksy popped out to return a second later with another male House Elf. The new Elf soon made sense to Sirius. He was up on his feet and shaking the other Elf’s hands in an instant. “Ollik, Ollik, its grand to see you.”

Ollik smiled a wiped a tear from his eye. “I is happy to see you too, Master Sirius. We the Potter House Elves had heard yous were found innocent and set free. We’d very happy about that. Was hoping to ask yous help in finding little Master. We look everywhere for little Master Harry, buts not able to finds him. Wizard Dumbky, not tell us. Tell us to stop looking. Little Master not safe if we finds him. But little Master needs his Manny Elf,” Ollik said earnestly.

Two quick pops sounded and two ticked off Nanny Elves were standing in front of Ollik. “Little Master Harry not need another nanny. Has two already. Not need more,” Lilac said haughtily, while Dewie wagged her finger at him and stomped her foot in emphasis.

Severus sighed and scooped Harry off the floor. “It looks like you’re a popular young man,” he said and pressed a quick kiss to the boy’s cheek. Harry squealed and caught all their attention.

Harry gasped and held out his arms. “Oll, Oll, Oll,” he said

Ollik was there in an instant, quickly tickling any part of Harry he could reach, sending Harry into peels of laughter and wriggling.

“Well, that settles that, Ladies,” Sirius said. “The three of you all have to work out hours and duties with Harry. I won’t stop Ollie’s access to the last of the Potter line. We’ll also have to arrange for Harry to have interaction with the rest of the Potter Elves. Ollik can even carry a drop of Harry’s blood to the Potter Wardstone, putting the Stone at ease and creating the connection needed. I really should have thought about the Potter Elves. You must have been frantic about Harry. If I remember correctly you all lost contact with James, Lily and Harry, the minute they went under the Fidelius.”

“Yes Master Sirius. The Fidelius severed all connection between us. We understood because it was for safety. Then when the young Master and Mistress were killed, we did not know. We’d had to be told about it. Had already lost old Lord and Lady Potter. House Elves and Stone feel lost. Went to Dumbky but he not help us. We thought we eventually die from heart and bond break. I feel little Master only today. I comes looking for him,” Ollik told them.

“So you did not feel Harry before today?” Arcturus Black had just walked into the room as Ollik have been talking. Ragnorak and Trucorze following him.

Ollik shook his head. “No Sir,” he said bowing.

“The Horcrux must have blanketed the Master and Elf Bond. Especially since Harry was the last of the line. And considering the need Harry had for his Manny Elf while living with his Aunt and Uncle,” Arcturus mused.

Ollik look frantic. “What do you mean? Horcrux? Need? What has happened to my little Sprite?” He left Harry to Severus and stomped to Lord Black and demanded. He held up his hands for silence when Lord Black would have spoken. “No don’t talk. I takes a drop of the little Master’s blood to Potter Wardstone. Stone will explain all. With permission of course,” the little Elf looked frantic and worried all around him.

It was Severus who eventually moved, he spoke softly. “Harry, I’m going to take a little blood from your arm and give it to Ollik. I won’t hurt you alright my sweet?”

Harry nibbled on his bottom lip for a second, before sticking out his right arm. Severus chuckled and went to sit in an armchair. Sirius walked over to them. He summoned a block on the way and transfigured it into a small glass vial. He knelt in front of Severus who now sat Harry on his lap and held the vial steady. Severus smiled and calmly touched the tip of his wand to Harry’s arm. In a second red welled there. Severus guided it into the vial calmly, all the while Harry giggled saying, “That tickles Da, tickles.”

“Shhh, don’t tell my secrets, scamp,” Severus mock whispered causing Harry to roll his lips between his teeth and cover his mouth with his free hand. Severus couldn’t help but drop a noisy kiss into the boy’s head. He smiled at Sirius as the other man corked the vial of blood and stood. He quickly kissed Harry’s cheek then before Severus could blink, Sirius kissed his lips. Sucking the bottom one into his mouth for a few seconds before lightly pulling it then letting it go and stepping away with a sigh.

He stepped to Ollik and handed over Harry’s blood. “Take that to your Wardstone. Do what you need to, then come back and figure out how to share your duties between you, Dewie and Lilac. Severus and I won’t take Harry away from them or you. If you will also contact the Potter account manager at the bank and have them contact us. We would like to see to Harry’s future. And let the Head Elf Boxer know to open the Potter houses, we’ve not decided where we’ll live yet but we’ll want Harry to know his estates at the very least.”

Ollik nodded, took the vial, bowed deeply and popped away. Sirius sighed and turned back to the armchair Severus still occupied with Harry. “Well pup, if our lives weren’t complicated before, they sure as Merlin are now.” Harry shrugged and reached up with both arms. Sirius chuckled and picked him up, swinging him around in the process.

Harry wrapped his tiny arms around Sirius’s neck and gave him a sloppy kiss. Then he patted the strong chest he leant on. “Don’t worry Daddy. It will be okay. Love you.”

“Love you too pup. Don’t worry about me. I’m just being silly,” Sirius responded. “Now give your Da a kiss before Dewie and Lilac take you to change for dinner.”

Harry obediently stretched his arms out to Severus who took him back and peppered tiny kisses over his little nose. “Be good for your nannies, scamp.”

“Yes Da, love you,” Harry said, then looked around. Gaze landing in his nannies as they stepped forward. Lilac took him from Severus and the three left the room, chatting softly.

Sirius threw himself into the armchair Severus had vacated, then reached out and pulled Severus into the armchair with him. Severus struggled for a second before Sirius wrapped his arms around him, keeping him still. “So Grandfather, what took so long?” Sirius asked.

Arcturus and the Goblins found seats and got comfortable. Glasses of amber liquid soon appeared, floating in front of each of them. Arcturus took the first one out of thin air and inhaled the scent. “Thank you Breeksy,” he said to the air in general. “Severus, this is the Armagnac I was telling you about.”

Severus took a sip and smiled. “Quite delightful, Sir, quite delightful.”

“Grandfather,” Sirius urged gently.

“Quite so, my boy, quite so. We waited until Minerva and Poppy had returned from St. Mungo’s. Dumbledore has been admitted to the Spell Damage Ward. He has been diagnosed with long-term exposure. They are unsure if he’ll ever recover. I am unsure whether to feel sorry for him or not, truthfully,” the older man said.

“Surely Sir, if it was all the Horcrux’s influence, then Dumbledore was yet another wronged party,” Severus said.

“Ah but unfortunately the Horcrux couldn’t have taken a foothold if there had not already been a weakness. The Horcrux only exacerbated everything. Dumbledore was already prejudiced against those with a Heart Chain. The Horcrux augmented that hatred and allowed him to feel he had free reign. Trucorze saw everything when she entered his mind.

“Years ago Dumbledore met a young man and fell in love. The young man returned his feelings, unfortunately this young man had a Heart Chain and Dumbledore could see it. He could also see he did not have one. He knew one day he would lose his beloved. The relationship progressed but in due course Dumbledore’s insecurity and jealousy soured everything. The younger Dumbledore decided he needed to discredit his lover. He did so by using a combination of potions and spells. This led to the creation of Grindelwald. The First Blood War and Dumbledore eventually ‘besting’ Grindelwald and becoming the Light Wizard so and so, such and such that the Wizarding World knows.

“So you see, Albus Dumbledore didn’t really have far to fall. He was already on the path. The Horcrux just found a kindred spirit, so to speak. It appears that the two had a an very symbiotic relationship. Feeding on each other for all these years.

“Harry’s placement with his aunt and uncle of coarse was entirely the Horcrux’s bidding. Tom Riddle, his real name, wanted Harry dead and the Dursley’s would have eventually succeeded. One way or another. When our Elves return with the letters Dumbledore sent we will find the Compulsion Charms on them which compelled Petunia to allow the boy to live in her house yet ignore him otherwise. She and the rest of the household were to ensure Harry was constantly miserable.” Arcturus took a sip from his glass and sighed. “All in all, it has been a rather sad day. It is not one I wish to repeat any time in the near or far future.

“Now I suggest we ready ourselves for dinner. Cook dislikes being kept waiting, we’ll discuss Tom Riddle’s rather sad life after dinner, once Harry has been set a-bed,” then he carefully levered himself out of his chair. Trucorze and Ragnarok stood with him. The three bowed slightly to each other and the Goblins vanished. Arcturus nodded once to Sirius and Severus then slowly left the room, looking everyday of his years.

Severus groaned and buried himself in Sirius’s arms. “Your Grandfather is right. This is really quite sad. This morning I was ready to hand the old man his arse. Then we find him brain addled. Now we find out he was nothing more than a Dark Lord himself in many ways. I don’t know how to feel about this,” Severus sighed, then pushed himself out of the armchair. He held out both hands and pulled Sirius to his feet. “Come on, Mutt. Time to change for dinner,” he said.

*****

“Daddy, where’s Unca Remy?” Harry asked as he nibbled on sime steamed carrot.

Sirius scrunched his face thinking. “No idea Pup. Why?”

Harry shrugged and rubbed around his heart. Then he sighed. “The Chain between you and Da, is gold. But you have another chain. A silver one. That means you have a brother. Lilac explained the colors to me. I think Unca Remy is your chain brother. I think he needs you.”

Sirius nodded. “I’ll find him pup. I promise. Now why do you keep rubbing your heart?”

“I have the same chains as you daddy. Gold and silver. Sometimes I feel like I can touch them not just see them, but I can’t.” Harry shrugged and kept eating.

They finished their meal silently. No one wanted to rehash the days events, especially not with Harry sitting right there, his little ears missing very little. It had been a long day indeed.

*****

Severus knew Sirius was trying to drive him insane. Upon returning to their bedroom Sirius had banished their clothes in short order. Then Severus had found himself laid out on the bed like an offering. Yet soon he was the one being worshipped. That had led to Severus’s current predicament. He lay sprawled on the bed. Hands alternating from pulling at his own hair to fisting in the sheets. His breath came in pants, sweat sheeted his skin and his thoughts were long gone.

Sirius lay between his legs, head occasionally resting on his thigh. Otherwise his mouth would slowly drive Severus to the brink of insanity before pulling him away from the edge. He had three fingers deep in Severus, playing merry havoc in his prostate, while his mouth teased over his hard shaft. Then he would suck the hard cock into his mouth until it lodged snuggly in his throat. The muscles there would squeeze around it a little, then Sirius would pull back to the tip and just suck gently. All the while those fingers would either dance inside of him or slide in and out of him, also driving him insane.

Finally Severus couldn’t take anymore. He stretched his arm out and found Sirius’s hair and pulled. He pulled his lover up the bed until he could claim a bruising kiss. “In me now!” He demanded. Sirius shifted and soon Severus felt a blunt pressure against his arse hole, then it was sliding inside of him and Severus keened in pleasure, his hips lifting off the bed in hopes of making Sirius slide in faster. Sirius didn’t speak. Severus hoped he was being quiet, the snort he heard told him he was rambling yet again. Then Sirius was moving in and out of him, while a large hand was stroking his cock and Severus was seconds from coming.

When he did climax, his orgasm flooding through him, he blacked out. He felt Sirius follow him and let himself go.

When he woke again minutes later, he was laying against Sirius’s chest. He sighed and rubbed a cheek against the scattered hair.

“Knut for them? “ Sirius enquired.

“Ahh, Sirius, I can’t help thinking about myself and Dumbledore, I’m glad your Grandfather told us about Riddle’s life as a child,” Severus said quietly. “I thought I was the pawn of two Masters, I’ve come to see just how very wrong I was. Dumbledore and I, the two of us were the pawns of one master. Both manipulated by one megalomaniacle madman bent on making the world pay for his beliefs and perceptions. I’m not saying Tom Riddle was treated nor raised as he should have been. I won’t give him any sympathy. Everything he has done just shows how much of a mad man he was. And Dumbledore really set himself up to be a recipient of Tom’s plan of revenge. I just wish someone had intervened before he had gone mad, maybe even before his birth. Who knows. At least it’s stopped now, before it could get any worse. This blood war was more than enough.” Severus sighed and burrowed deeper into Sirius’s arms. Turning his head to drop a kiss on the expanse of naked chest under his cheek.

*****

Ollik trudged through a forest in Germany. The Wardstone had given him one purpose. Find and destroy. He had taken the little master Sprite’s blood to the Potter Wardstone. All the Potter elves had met him in the basement. He had presented the vial to Owlto, the Head Elf who had taken it to the Wardstone and dropped the blood on it. A minute later they had all presented themselves to the stone and touched it. The truth of Harry’s life had flooded them. Ollik was so very thankful his little Sprite was finally being cared for properly.

The Stone had shown them something else to. The Horcruxes. The one in the Sprite. The ones called from the other objects. They had all been destroyed. All but the one he tracked now. The one that remained in what remained of the original body. Most creatures did not truly understand a Wardstone. Except for House Elves. They were as bound to a family Wardstone as they were to their family. So when the Potter’s Rose Quartz Wardstone had given Ollik a mission, he did not question, he just went. The Stone had sent out visions of its quarry through the crystalline structure of the dirt until it was sent a response. A location. His current location.

When Ollik saw the darkness, it was trying to enter a white owlet. The poor animal was trying to fight it, but it was tiring. It was only a babe after all. Ollik carefully pulled out a goblin made silver glove and dagger. He concentrated and Popped. As he rematerialized beside the darkness he struck and snatched the darkness away from the owlet. He held it up in his gloved hand and held it against the bark of a tree. “You killed my Masters. You put my little Sprite in danger. Yous won’t do it again. All your other soul bits are gone. Time for you to go now,” Ollik said calmly, before stabbing the darkness through with the Goblin made dagger. It writhed and squealed, trying to escape, but few things escaped from a Nanny or Manny out to protect their charge.

Eventually the darkness broke apart to fall to dust, before being consumed by the forest floor. With a snort of satisfaction Ollik Popped home. He returned a second later and picked up the owlet. She was terrified and exhausted. Ollik knew she would need a lot of care but he knew a certain little boy who would adore this white bird. So he took it back to Potter Hall to care for.

*****

“Severus, Harry will be fine for a few days. It’s our honeymoon after all. And it’s not like he’s far away. He’s only one floor up.” Sirius finally sighed and gave up. He got out of bed and pulled on a robe, handing another one to Severus. “Come on, we’ll go check on him and say goodnight. Again.” He waited until Severus had tied his robe before pulling him into his arms and taking a slow luxurious kiss before stepping away again.

Severus was left breathless. He seriously considered pulling Sirius back into their bed and having his way with his new husband. Unfortunately by the time he’d gathered his brain cells together, Sirius was leading him up the flight of stairs that separated the Master’s Rooms from the nursery rooms which was where Harry generally held court while at Prince Keep.

They stopped outside the nursery door. Severus touched the dark wood, letting the wards know he was outside, then he had Sirius crack the doors open. He didn’t want to wake Harry if the boy was already asleep.

The nursery contained three rooms. The doorway led first to a small sitting room, through it lay the bedroom and beyond a small bathroom. The bed could be seen from the hallway. Severus and Sirius could both see Harry fast asleep, his constant companion, a white owlet perched on his headboard, eyes wide and looking around. Severus thought she always looked on guard, like Harry’s own tiny guardian.

He heard murmuring from the sitting area and cast a Clear Hearing Charm to be able to make it out. He vaguely thought he should be more solisitis of others privacy, but when it came to his son’s safety, others feelings were irrelevant.

“The little elfling does love his owlet Ollik. Where did you find her?” They heard Lilac ask.

“Well Lilac, when I took my little Sprite’s blood to the Potter Stone it read everything that had happened to him until then. It saw the wicked soul bits the Masters think we don’t know about, and their destruction. But the Stones are old. Older than other living beings and understoods that even though all the pieces cut off the original soul cans bes called, the last piece of soul is still in what is left of body. Can not be calls out. So our Stone look for it and sents me after it as soon as it was found. I found the monster tryings to enter the poor little owlet.

“The small bird was puttings up quite a fight. So I went to help. I killed the last piece by stabbings it with a goblin dagger that was dipped in king of snake venom. It is Potter heirloom it is. Very old it is. The monster didn’t stands a chance. But poor bird was alone and I couldn’t find it’s nest. It would dies without help. So I brought it home, maybe someone would help I thought. The little thing took to my Sprite.” Ollik told her.

Severus felt himself grow colder with each word. He was stuck to the spot. His heart beating wildly. Harry still had not been safe. Even when they had thought he was. Voldemort has still been alive and a threat to him. He saw Sirius move past him and push through the doorway. He pulled Severus through with him.

“Explain Ollik. Is Harry in danger?” He demanded.

“Master Sirius, Master Severus,” the two Elves chorused.

Then Ollik continued. “The little Sprite is in no dangers sir. Ollik make sure of that. Did as Stone said. Dark monster gone now. Not comes back. Ollik made sure. Monster killed Sprite’s parents. Master James was special boy. Ollik loves him very much. Master James loved Ollik very much too. Little Sprite safe now. Ollik promise Sir. Ollik will keep Sprite safe.”

Sirius nodded. “Thank you Ollik. We’re very careful with Harry as you can understand. We’ll just check on him then let you alone,” Sirius told them. He gently pulled Severus to Harry’s bed.

Severus looked down at the sleeping boy and breathed again. Harry was safe and home with them. He had plenty of protection and plenty of love. They would make sure Harry was always safe, he vowed. He tugged on Sirius’s hand and they quietly left.

Back in bed Severus was gently teasing his husband with soft touches and fleeting licks. Sirius lay back and gasped or groaned. His body hot and wanting. Severus stroked a finger over Sirius’s hole and whispered the lubrication charm and watched as it took affect and Sirius’s eyes widened slightly and smiled in expectation. He pulled one knee to his chest and waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Severus lifted one eyebrow, positioned himself and gently pressed in. Sirius arched under him and groaned wantonly. “Gods yes,” he groaned, and wrapped his leg high on Severus’s waist, drawing him closer. Severus bit his lip and started to pull out before pressing back in, starting a slow and easy rhythm. He leaned his arms either side of Sirius’s head and allowed himself to enjoy making love to his new husband.

“You feel perfect inside me, love,” Sirius whispered. “I love you Sev. Love you.”

“Love you too, Siri. Always will,” Severus whispered keeping his pace achingly slow and steady, carefully pushing Sirius to distraction. Severus watched the heat rise over the man’s chest. Saw his chest rise and fall, faster and faster as his pleasure inexorably built and built. When his moans started to become almost frantic Severus took his cock in hand and quickly stroked him to orgasm. Following him to his own as soon as he felt Sirius clench around him.

Severus lay snoozing on Sirius’s strong chest, he loved the feel of those hands stroking up and down his back.

“I want to give Harry brothers and sisters,” Sirius said quietly. “I don’t want him growing up alone. We should probably start making them soon.”

Severus almost choked. “I think I must have fucked you too hard, Black. I must have broken you,” Severus croaked. Then yelped when his hair was pulled.

“Smartarse,” Sirius said, a smirk in his voice.

“Well you do know we’re both Wizards. No matter how well I fuck you, I can’t get you pregnant. Nor you me,” Severus replied.

Sirius chuckled and rolled them over to lay on top of Severus. Then he pointed to an emerald globe standing on a pillar by the wall. “You see that? It’s not a crystal ball, you jackass. That’s the Black Ritual Orb. It helps us make Ritual babies. It was a gift from the Wardstone generations ago. Like with anything else to do with Wardstones, it takes blood. Every night we would make love, then present it with a drop of blood. A drop of blood from us both everyday for nine months. It does whatever it does and in nine months time we’re presented with a bouncing baby. What do you say?”

Severus looked from his husband to the green orb and thought about children with long black hair and silver grey eyes running around and laughing, chasing a green eyed boy or him chasing them. Mind quickly made up he started pushing Sirius off him.

“What are you doing?” Sirius asked.

Severus looked back at him as if he were dense. “You said we needed blood, I’m looking for my wand or a small dagger of coarse. Now get up and help me look. Or better yet, where’s your wand?”

Sirius pulled him in for a happy kiss. “Right then, no time like the present I suppose,” and picked up Severus’s wand from the floor where it had rolled during their lovemaking.

THE END…

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