Over the years, Tom had grown very fond of his office.
It was spacious with a gorgeous view, but that wasn’t what he liked most about it. Neither was it the fireplace that allowed him to floo in directly; nor was it the big seating area though it had allowed Harry to take more than one nap in his office. It wasn’t even the big bookshelves though he was very fond of them. His private bathroom was nice, but Tom could rough it as good as anyone. It certainly wasn’t the status in Ministry hierarchy the office symbolized; despite claims to the contrary, Tom always secretly thought that he himself was enough of a status all on his own.
What he liked most about the office, therefore, was that it was entirely his.
Growing up, he hadn’t had anything to call his own. In the Muggle world he had been pushed from orphanage to orphanage, always sharing his spaces and the things he had owned. At Hogwarts, the common rooms and sleeping areas had been shared too. Because Tom didn’t care much for downtime, he had not required his living spaces as an adult to be anything special; he only moved out of his rundown little flat in Knockturn Alley when he and Harry got serious. And even then, he had shared that space with Severus, just as he now shared his living spaces with Harry and Severus both.
At his office, however no one interrupted or entered unless he or she was invited in. No one moved around in it freely. Harry had something of a pass, but even he never entered Tom’s office unless invited, accepting without needing to be told, that for Tom his office was something of a sacred space.
Tom’s special feelings for his office meant that he stopped in his tracks when he opened the door to it after doing his Monday rounds through his department to find Harry face down on his sofa. He was wearing his patrol uniform and for a horrible moment, Tom thought that he was injured but then Harry stretched out one of his hands towards him and turned on his side, clearly fine.
Tom let the door fall closed behind him, came closer quickly and took the offered hand, sat down in the space Harry had made for him and stroked through his hair.
“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked. Harry sighed deeply and peered at Tom. “I’m getting a promotion,” he said very accusingly.
Tom managed to keep his face straight, but it was a hard effort.
“Yeah, yeah,” Harry said, clearly seeing through him after all, “but I don’t want to work in administration. You know that. Gawain knows it too, but either me or Swolsky have to quit and I’m apparently the better candidate.”
“I’m really sorry you’re competent,” Tom said. Harry kicked him lightly in the side.
“I hate reports,” Harry said, “I’m not good at small talk. I don’t like networking. It’s just not my thing, Tom.”
“Then don’t take it,” Tom said, slightly more serious now. Harry sounded unhappy; Tom didn’t deal well with that.
Harry sighed. “I knew I couldn’t stay on active duty forever once I became Head Auror, but I always thought I had more years and would then just walk away doing something else. Now it feels like unfinished business.”
“A year is pretty usual to be promoted after,” Tom said quietly.
“Yeah, but I am so much younger than the others,” Harry said. Tom nodded, stroked down Harry’s side. He would miss the sight of him in his patrol uniform; Harry didn’t wear it often enough these days.
“I know I can push for some real change in administration, but I know enough about it from what you do, and I don’t think I’d be good at it,” Harry said.
“Hm,” Tom said, “you wouldn’t have to do it the way I do it. You wouldn’t start at the level I’m at. And your refusal to manipulate and influence could likely open quite a few doors. People would feel you’re authentic and straight-forward and respond well to it.”
“As long as they can oversee that I’m a werewolf,” Harry said, “legislation would have to be changed anyway. I can’t work in administration right now and I doubt your little trick would work again.”
“That’s undoubtedly true,” Tom agreed. Harry snorted.
“For someone who claims to be above any and all respect for authority, this uniform really does turn you on,” Harry said after a moment of silence.
Tom groaned; he didn’t want Harry to feel as if he wasn’t being taken seriously, but Merlin, he was so freaking hard that it hurt.
Harry grinned, turned around fully on his back. The fabric stretched over his chest; he had built up muscle quickly again.
“Touch me,” he said quietly, and Tom did, ran his hands all over him, climbed up on his lap. Harry reached out one of his hands, his terribly clever hands and stroked the outline of Tom’s cock, before taking out his wand and quickly undoing Tom’s buttons.
He whimpered when his cock was freed. Harry licked his hand and then started stroking him and Tom rocked on top of him. Harry was so hot, so unbearably hot. He touched his pecs through the uniform and then he was already coming, almost shooting up to Harry’s chin.
Harry smirked an awful lot afterwards.
“Shut up,” Tom muttered. Harry made a motion to seal up his mouth but kept grinning.
“Darling,” he said quietly. Tom sighed; he wanted to take him home and have Harry fuck him, but it was only 2 pm and he had hours of work ahead of him.
“Want to get a coffee later to discuss this for real?” Tom asked quietly.
“Not sure,” Harry said, “I don’t think I can take off this uniform today. So you would have to meet me in public, have a coffee in public and concentrate in public to-“
“Fuck,” Tom said while getting up; he was almost dizzy, and Harry sat up a second after him, got up to steady him. They kissed; Tom leaned forward and hid his head against Harry’s neck.
“You’re good?” Harry asked quietly.
“I have no idea why I’m so into your uniform,” Tom admitted. Harry chuckled and drew him in even closer.
“I certainly don’t mind,” he said into Tom’s ear.
That night, Tom came home to Harry reading on the couch, still in uniform, with reading glasses on.
He came so hard from being fucked that he wasn’t quite sure if he was still alive for a moment.
“Hermione,” Tom said politely. It had been years since he had talked to her exclusively and he caught himself stroking down his robe, sitting up straighter. He wasn’t quite sure why; some funny alliance with Harry, he supposed. Harry didn’t talk about it, but Tom knew that his friendship with Ron and Hermione hadn’t rekindled, despite assurances all around. No plans had been made; Harry was tightlipped about it. It had become something they didn’t talk about, just as they hadn’t talked about Sirius or Remus.
“Thanks,” Hermione said when Tom indicated for her to sit. She was smartly dressed, holding a black folder. She was also clearly nervous, and Tom could count two and two and come out with four; he knew why she was here.
He just wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
Hermione Granger’s career at the Ministry had been something of a mystery; she’d been the greatest promise of the legal department, had risen quickly through the ranks only to quit her job one day out of the blue, screaming in the lobby that she couldn’t do it anymore. It had gotten quiet around her for a few years before she had a child; she occasionally took research jobs and had made a name with regards to protective shield charms, but she had never lived up to the promise with which she had entered the Ministry.
“I heard that you would start interviewing for a new personal secretary next week,” Hermione said; like any Gryffindor she lacked any kind of tact and Tom sighed internally. Always falling into what they wanted straight away; it was a habit he had tried to cure Harry from for years and he knew it to be futile by now.
Tom nodded, motioned for her to go on.
“I would like to apply,” she finished all in a rush and Tom leaned back in his chair, steepled his fingers.
“This is a position far under your original pay grade,” he said, “it doesn’t require your skills.”
“I’m aware,” she said. The brashness of her introduction was gone; she looked slightly miserably, and Tom let her sit in silence for a moment. She had hurt Harry; she deserved this much.
“Why do you want to apply, then?” he asked. Hermione fidgeted with her folder for a second.
“I think it’s a good stepping stone,” she said, “I’m sure it’s very interesting to work for you, and I-“
“No,” Tom said quietly, “don’t. The former holder of this position lied to me and almost got my husband killed. I have no requirements for my applicants despite absolute honesty. And absolute integrity.”
Hermione looked at him for a moment; Tom realized all of a sudden that it had been years since they looked each other in the eyes. Normally, she prevented looking at him, gazed to the left or right.
“I’ve burned too many bridges in the legal department,” she said, “nor do I want to return there. I burned myself out and when I realized I couldn’t stomach my work load any longer, I kept going. I didn’t think I was a person prone to failure. It took me months to get used to the idea that I couldn’t do it all. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. Harry kept being promoted and Ron did really well with refereeing Quidditch. Only I floundered around.”
“So you had a baby,” Tom said after a moment when she fell silent again.
“I did,” she said after a moment, “I love my daughter. I might not be the most patient Mum, but she certainly put things into perspective for me.”
“Harry cried secretly for a month after he found out through the announcement,” Tom said conversationally. Back then he hadn’t known how to help, had hovered uselessly in front of the bathroom door. He had learnt kindness and giving love slowly.
“I was really mad at him,” she said, “not for – being gay. For having figured it all out. He loved his job. He did well in it. He went for what he wanted in his private life. He was unashamedly himself. And I hated him for – that courage.”
And he didn’t need you anymore at a time when your overall control over life was slipping anyway, Tom added in his head but didn’t say. He could admit that he was impressed with her honesty.
“And what does any of that have to do with being my secretary?” he asked, watched Hermione take a deep breath.
“I want Harry back in my life,” she said, “which means you have to become a part of my life. We proposed to get drinks a few times, but Harry always ended up cancelling because something came up. If I work for you, he will have to stop running away.”
“I admit that it’s the first time I am hearing of going out for drinks,” Tom said after a moment. It was true; he also wanted more information.
“That’s funny,” Hermione answered, “because according to Harry you’re always the one who has to cancel last minute.”
Tom sighed. “I must confess it’s not terribly appealing to hire someone because she wants to blackmail my partner into being her friend again,” he said mildly, watched Hermione blush.
“That’s – understandable,” she said, “but he’s also running away from us. Believe me, I understand why. But I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t want to forgive us. I think it’s because he’s gotten really scared of getting hurt again. But that’s no way to live life.”
“Harry -,” Tom said, then stopped himself. Hermione watched him warily. “I am not open to discuss my partner behind his back,” Tom said after a moment and Hermione sighed.
“I also wanted to apologize to you,” she said, “you’re in many ways just as horrible as I thought you were when I met you at work. But you’re – good with him.”
“This certainly is one of the more interesting interviews I had,” Tom said. Hermione shrugged.
“You wanted honesty,” she said, “and I am not so sure about my personal integrity. I would never go to the press with any info on you or Harry. That’s probably all I can say for myself.”
“Just say it,” Tom said, “tell me why you want to work for me.”
“I don’t want to be your secretary,” Hermione said, “frankly I don’t think you need one. I want to be – your office and department manager. I want to be actively involved in giving my ideas to your research. I want to head the political communication process you’ll have to start when magic is really dying. It would be a fascinating job and worthwhile and I would be good at it. I’m good at managing, good at compiling information. I’m Muggle-born which will give you credibility. I don’t mind managing your appointments or keeping up the filing systems. I would mind having to bring in tea. I wouldn’t wear the heels your former secretary was wearing.”
Tom sat in silence for a moment, running it through his head. It was risky; it was an opportunity.
It would show Harry like nothing else that Tom wanted him to have a life outside of their relationship, that Tom didn’t begrudge him time with friends and family. He wasn’t as scared any more of Harry finding someone better and running off; his own less than stellar track record when Harry had gotten bitten had driven home how complicated love could be.
“I won’t be taking any tea from my secretary in the future,” Tom said, “lots of stuff you can put in a tea. I work very long hours. I can be very demanding. As long as you’re clothed, I couldn’t care less about your shoes.”
“Thanks,” Hermione said, “you won’t regret it. I will-“
“You will take agency over your well-being and not overwork yourself,” Tom interrupted, “you will look my in the eyes and trust that I don’t read your every thought. And Harry is off-limits. If he wants to stop and chat with you, he will. But you won’t use this position to force him into reviving your friendship. If he continues putting blame on me for cancelling, you will not say that you know better even if you do. Also, we will evaluate in a month and if we’re not both really satisfied with this little arrangement, we will part ways again.”
“Good for me,” she said, “also, I wouldn’t poison your tea. Just saying.”
Tom allowed himself to smile.
“Am I making a mistake not talking to Harry about this directly?” Tom asked Severus over the floo later that night. They had already been interrupted by two blown up caldrons in Ravenclaw and Severus was in a foul mood.
“I don’t know,” he said testily, “if you’re so worried about it, stop running away from the confrontation and just come clean about it.”
“You’re in an awful mood,” Tom remarked, and Severus huffed, leaning away from the floo.
“I’m seriously engaged in a number of matters far more important than your little crisis of conscience,” he answered acidly, “talk to him or don’t. It’s not like he’s not going to notice anyway.”
“Severus,” Tom said quietly, but Severus shook his head.
“I’ve got to go,” he said and disconnected the call before Tom could say anything else.
Harry was working late, Tom thought and then stopped himself, realizing all of a sudden what the problem was. He’d been thinking so much about Harry; he had surely been neglecting Severus. They both had neglected each other, but Tom suddenly vividly remembered Severus asking him to come to lunch in Hogsmeade or spent the night at Hogwarts after Harry’s last stint at St. Mungo’s and Tom - hadn’t taken up the offer in so long that he had to think for a while when he had last spent time with just Severus.
Mind made up, he grabbed his wand, accio’ed his cloak quickly.
Severus was not amused to see him an hour later.
“You know how much I dislike unannounced infringements on my time,” he said but Tom ignored the mood and drew him in, kissed him slowly and sensually. Severus held on to his anger for a moment longer but then he melted against Tom, gave up and grabbed on to Tom with both hands.
“I’m sorry for neglecting you,” Tom said against his throat, sucked and kissed the tender skin just underneath Severus’s ear.
“I’m not some damsel in distress,” Severus remarked, and Tom laughed quietly, kissing him again.
“That you’re surely not,” he agreed and walked Severus backwards, walked him towards the bedroom. It was cool in Severus’s chambers and Tom relighted the fire in the living room with just a thought, got a whimpering groan for his effort.
“You know what it does to me when you do that,” Severus said accusingly, and Tom laughed, pressed him down on the bed a moment later. A swish of his hand had them both naked and Severus always blushed adorably when he found himself unexpectantly unclothed in front of Tom.
As predicted, Severus threw an arm over his face, blush spreading down his chest in embarrassment. “All that time I spent looking at you and you’re still ashamed of me,” Tom said quietly, ignored Severus’s straining erection in favor of leaning down and kissing him again, knocking Severus’s arm away.
“I’m not ashamed,” Severus countered, and Tom let him be. They all had their particular quirks and hurts and this one of Severus’s had never hurt him; not like Tom’s anger had hurt Harry and Severus both or how Harry’s silence during arguments had hurt Tom and Severus. In their myriad of issues, this one really wasn’t of any interest.
Instead, he busied himself with kissing Severus again, with laying down next to him. They scooted up higher on the bed and Tom settled in between Severus’s legs after a while, pressed kisses against his hipbones and navel before sucking him in deep, slurping on Severus’s cock like the whore he sometimes felt he was. Severus put a hand on Tom’s head, not directing him but petting his hair and Tom preened under the attention. Harry always got a little impatient, a little needy after some time; if they wanted to take it very slow, it had to be the two of them, not the three of them.
Three hours later, they lay side by side, panting and sweaty. Tom reached over after a moment and tugged Severus close, held him on his chest. Severus came willingly enough but there was a tension back in his body that hours of fucking should have taken care of.
“Tell me,” Tom said after a moment. Severus sighed; one arm came up to wrap around Tom’s chest and Tom tightened his own hold on Severus in response.
“It’s just been an incredibly hard twelve months,” Severus said. “You and I – I missed you and I.”
“I did too,” Tom said. He hesitated. “But Harry-“
“Came first,” Severus interrupted, “I agree. It’s not – I know what he is to you. I don’t mind it. But I’m not sure I felt as if I was anything to you, too.”
“You are,” Tom said, “when I thought I lost you – Severus, you must know that I-“
“Don’t embarrass either one of us,” Severus said while Tom struggled for words, “Harry’s not here, so we don’t have to try to show emotion. Let’s just agree to take more time for us, too.”
“I agree,” Tom said. He played with Severus’s hair for a moment; it was sound, it was how they had always done things, it was –
“I want to show emotion with you,” Tom heard himself say. Severus tightened his arm, kissed Tom’s nipple in response, but didn’t speak and Tom found himself licking over suddenly dry lips.
“I want to,” Tom repeated, “I want – to open up more fully, to – to let you know when I’m hurting or when I’m – not feeling well. I kept thinking these past months that it can be over so quickly and I don’t want to die knowing I regret not – telling you how very much you – you-“
“Don’t strain yourself, Tommy,” Severus said, “I don’t need declarations or flowers or cards in the mail. I know what I mean to you. I know what you mean to me. If you want to show it a little more I certainly don’t mind. Tonight was – very nice.”
Tom snorted, kept holding him, waiting in silence.
“And if you need me to show a little more how I feel about you,” Severus said after a while, “then you know that I – find it hard. I find it somewhat easier, but still hard enough with Harry too. But I can try to make an effort.”
“Thank you,” Tom said quietly and kept petting him for quite some time after that.
Harry was home already when Tom came in, tinkering in the kitchen. He was still in his patrol uniform and Tom knew it has for his benefit. His cock gave a twitch, no matter how fucked out he had felt a moment ago and Tom leaned against the doorframe, watching Harry. He had acquired a rather lovely tan, the only one of the three of them to be able to do so and Tom had an intense need to spread him out and devour him.
Harry glanced up at him, small smile. “Had fun tonight?” he asked lightly, and Tom crossed over to him, took him into his arms and kissed him.
“I’ve been a little negligent towards Severus, I’m afraid,” he said, “so no matter how lovely you look, I might not be able to – do it again.”
Harry snorted and kissed back. “I could,” he said, mostly to annoy Tom and Tom rolled his eyes at him, before taking over the pan because Harry’s dinner was on a good way to being well and truly burned.
“How was it?” Harry asked, still standing close.
“Good,” Tom answered, “very much needed. We talked a little. I’m working up to – saying the – saying that I-“
“Don’t hurt yourself,” Harry said, but his eyes were warm and gentle and very much shining with the word Tom just couldn’t say easily.
“I hired Hermione,” he said, because it still weighed on his heart.
“I already know,” Harry said nonchalant and Tom raised an eyebrow at him when nothing else followed. “Ron called,” Harry said after a moment, and Tom turned down the flame, came closer.
“Does it bother you?” he asked, and Harry shook his head. His nope wouldn’t have fooled anyone, but Tom let him be, opted for feeding him and chitchatting instead. There were things that only became better with time and he knew that this was one of them.
For the first few days of Hermione working for him, Harry barely came by, was tightlipped and biting with Tom. He met Severus twice without Tom, snuggled up to Severus during the weekend they all spent together at London, eyes accusatory on Tom. Severus smirked at Tom in turn, clearly thinking their squabble funny and Tom hid behind his newspapers, annoyed and hurt.
It wasn’t until Sunday that they talked about it, all three of them.
“I just don’t see why it has to be her,” Harry said, kicking stones on their afternoon walk. Severus had gently extracted himself from Harry’s hand and wrapped an arm loosely around Tom’s shoulders and Tom had silently relented and come closer, had kissed back when Severus had leaned in.
“She’s very qualified,” Tom said for the thirtieth time.
“That’s not really the issue, is it,” Severus said, “just say it, Harry. Spare us the back and forth.”
Harry glared at him, kicked another stone.
“She hurt me,” he said, “I’m – she hurt me and now I have to see her every time I go see Tom.”
“It’s a very bad habit to let hurt fester and grow,” Severus said easily, “I would know. Tom would know. You’re not a bitter or vengeful person. What’s keeping you from forgiving her?”
Harry didn’t say anything for a long, long time while they walked in silence, before turning around suddenly, stepping up to them.
“I thought she was going to be there forever,” he said, not looking at either one of them, “she and Ron. I thought they were – my family. I thought we needed each other but they – they didn’t need me.”
Severus reached out for him, gently stroked a stray lock of hair behind Harry’s ear.
“You were not even thirty,” he said, “try again. Don’t be scared by what happened in the past.”
“It’s more than just her and Ron,” Harry said, hands coming up on autopilot to play with Tom’s wedding ring, a nervous habit Harry had had for as long as Tom had had his ring. He let him do it, glad for the simple fact of Harry touching him at all.
“Because they come with the Weasleys and the Weasleys come with Sirius and Remus?” Severus asked after a moment, and Harry nodded, not looking up.
“You can only be fine with not having them in your life,” Severus said gently, “or try to have them in your life the way they are. What you’re doing is the worst, Harry. I know you wish to be included again but you’re denying it all the time. Is that a way to live?”
Harry shrugged. Tom reached out and tugged him closer around the waist and Harry went, hugging both of them.
“I’ll think about it,” Harry said reluctantly and rolled his eyes when Severus gently cuffed him to keep walking.
Professionally, they worked very well together. Tom could find no fault in the way Hermione did her duties; she gave valuable inputs, was always foreseeing Tom’s next move and was able to keep up with him.
But Harry was uneasy, and it made Tom uneasy, kept him from pursuing a deeper relationship with her. Despite feeling that they could make a great team if he could allow them to become one, he kept his own distance from Hermione, kept her from getting to know him better.
It all changed on the day Harry was back at St. Mungo’s.
He was sitting with Hermione in his office to discuss the day’s task, when Robards’ patronus burst through the door.
“You need to come to St. Mungo’s,” it said, sounding pained and urgent and then it vanished into thin air and with it vanished all the other air in the room and when Tom tried taking in a breath, he found that he couldn’t.
It was Hermione’s hand on his arm that got him up and moving, that moved him towards the floo. It was warded against her magic and it took him four tries to unlock it; his hand was shaking so badly that he almost dropped his wand.
He couldn’t even think about Harry being hurt again; he needed Severus; he needed to see Harry; he needed to calm down; he needed –
“Tom,” Hermione said while she moved them out of the floo, moved them towards reception. Tom felt as if he couldn’t move, but somehow, he was walking forward; felt her still clutch his hand. “Tom, it’s going to be alright,” she said, and Tom wanted to wail with it; he knew now how easily it could go wrong and he-
Harry was in spell damage. He had to rush back out of the lift to take a sharp turn to the bathrooms, hit his knees hard going down to vomit. He retched; when he was done, he wiped his mouth with shaking hands, went to the sink to wash them and gurgle.
Hermione pushed open the door a second later.
“I went up,” she said hurriedly, “Tom, listen. He’s not badly hurt.”
Tom stared at her blankly until she came closer, carefully took his hand again.
“He’s not hurt badly,” she repeated, “but – Tom, it’s beast division. They’re talking about some code of conduct therapy and Harry’s – in handcuffs and-“
Tom didn’t let go off her when he raced outside to turn once more to the lifts.
Harry was on a hospital bed; he wasn’t comfortable, body braced forward to account for the tight binding of his hands behind his back. He had a large bruise on his face, a swollen eye and trickle of blood coming down from his hairline, gasping in breath after breath in a strained whimper. Apart from that, Tom could see nothing wrong with him.
Robards was in the room with him, facing off with two men standing on the other side of the room. To Tom’s surprise, Ron was present too, standing next to Robards and clearly fuming.
He didn’t bother with greetings, spared the two men one quick glance. They both had Ministry ID on them and a quick look confirmed what he already knew; Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
Harry’s skin was hot to his touch; he didn’t open his rapidly swelling eye, but his hitching breathing calmed a little when Tom put a hand on his neck and didn’t take it away; some of the tension left Harry’s body. Tom rubbed a thumb against Harry’s neck, came closer to push Harry to lay down and Harry went without protest, clearly willing to give in and show some weakness now that he had Tom with him.
“Apparently our friends from the beast division have problems with Mr. Potter doing the job he is paid to do,” Robards said, voice hard. “Apparently a werewolf without code of conduct therapy can’t work in the Ministry even though our regulations do not forbid it. And apparently, Mr. Potter is not allowed to speak for himself but has to be spoken for by a guardian, which, surprise –“
“I see,” Tom interrupted. The wizards on the opposite wall shared a look. “Capture unit, I suppose?” Tom asked coldly.
“Yes, Mr. Riddle,” one of them said. “Name is Hoginns. My partner is Slouth.”
“How wonderful,” Tom said. Robards shot him a look but didn’t say anything. Hermione huffed a laugh she covered up by coughing and Tom – felt floored with the knowledge that it was all of them against the capture unit; that people had Harry’s back.
“Got contacted by the hospital,” Hoginns said, “standard procedure. Apparently, that one slipped through our nets last time. Happy to reconcile that mistake now.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Robards said again, angrily. “He’s not –“
“Gawain,” Tom said quietly, “why don’t you let Mr. Hoginns explain why he’s insisting on keeping my husband hostage?”
Mr. Hoginns clearly needed to think on that for a moment.
“We have orders to capture,” he then said, “so we captured. It’s the law. They’re beasts.”
Under his hand, Harry shivered.
“Get me your fucking boss,” Tom hissed, rapidly losing his cool. Robards gave him an unimpressed look.
“It’s Umbridge,” he said, “and she’s in a meeting she can’t interrupt for a mindless half-breed. That’s a direct quote because of course I asked her to be here.”
“What will get him out of these handcuffs?” Tom said; he really hated Umbridge.
“Code of conduct therapy,” Hoginns said, clearly happy with being able to answer.
Tom and Robards stared at each other. Harry breathed in through a stuffed nose, wheezing slightly.
“You’re being serious right now?” Robards asked very low after a moment.
“We don’t really schedule,” Hoginns said. “We just take them. And conduct them. It’s the best way so they can’t have any funny business.”
Harry jerked with the words; Tom settled his other hand on his shoulder, stepped closer so that Harry could feel him close.
He’d never met Vernon Dursley, but he knew enough to know why Harry started shivering.
“Okay, that’s it,” Ron said darkly and dangerously, “I said it before Mr. Riddle arrived, but Mr. Potter is not in any state to be taken anywhere right now. He’s still having trouble breathing and I don’t know why because I haven’t been able to fully examine him before you guys showed up. The patient’s health always comes first, and Harry’s health is at risk here.”
“Who contacted them?” Hermione asked him; Ron’s jaw worked for a moment. “On-call nurse,” he said quietly, “Peggy. She’s – if I had known it was Harry who was coming in, she would not have been the one to make the assessment.”
He didn’t add why, but Tom could guess well enough.
“What’s the legal standing here?” he asked Gawain, but it was Slouth who answered first.
“You have to confirm to be fully responsible if they treat him before therapy,” he said, “need to take on his wand. Stay in the room, just as we will.”
Harry’s face scrunched up in pain for a second, before smoothing back out. Tom only now realized that he was in his patrol uniform and the pang it gave him made his eyes prickle.
“Can we have a moment of privacy?” he asked but Hoginns shook his head. Gawain grated his teeth so hard that everyone in the room could hear it. Tom raised an eyebrow at Hermione.
“He’s right on the account of Harry having almost no legal rights once – captured,” she said, making the word sound as dirty as it felt to Tom, “they cannot obstruct urgent medical care though and Harry’s right to privacy during medical exams trumps the capture unit’s rights in my opinion.”
Tom didn’t bother asking them to leave; instead he unleashed a part of him he hadn’t felt the need for in quite some time. He didn’t need a wand to make the room grow colder or for his eyes to flicker unnaturally red or for the power he could make them feel crack over their skin; he didn’t need a wand to make it feel foreign and scary and very dark.
Hoginns and Slouth grew noticeably paler; Robards shifted nervously; Ron swallowed audibly. Hermione’s eyes remained calm but, in their depth, Tom read approval and all of a sudden, he knew he wanted her to be more than a work acquaintance. It was Harry though who said Tom in a chiding way and Tom reigned his anger back in.
“But we’ll be waiting outside,” Mr. Hoginns said just before the door clicked shut.
“Okay,” Hermione said immediately, before anyone else said anything else. “They can’t touch Harry at the Ministry while he works in a job he can legally do; they can’t capture him at home because I am guessing that the wards are impeccable. How did you get him discharged last time?”
“Charlie,” Tom said, “support unit, not beast division.”
“Smart,” Hermione said, “will not work again. But he was here again so how-“
“I didn’t put forward the info when he came here after the abduction,” Ron said slowly, “which will likely get me fired if it gets out. Is this a good moment to tell you that I would really like to become a stakeholder at the joke shop?”
“Sure,” Hermione answered, “it would be a lot easier with Rose.”
“I had no idea-“ Tom said and couldn’t go on, because he sounded emotional; emotional for the support and the friendship that, even though he knew how close they had been once, felt entirely unexpected.
Ron grinned until Harry wheezed; then he became serious and stepped forward.
“Let me have a look at him,” he said to Tom but Tom – couldn’t let go.
His hands tightened; his breathing picked up; Harry opened his one good eye to look at him.
“I’m-“ Tom tried saying and a warm hand clasped his arm a second later.
“Trust us with him, hm?” Robards said quietly and Tom nodded, managed to step back to let Ron in.
“Don’t leave,” Harry said to him and Tom nodded; nothing would get him out of the room.
Ron was quick and efficient, quickly curing the spell attacking Harry’s breathing system.
“If I were you,” Hermione said when Ron was applying salve to Harry’s eye, “and if I – theoretically – could apparate through St. Mungo’s wards, I’d grab him and go and make due after. I would not let him fall into their hands.”
“Let’s say someone could apparate through the wards,” Tom said, “now that they have certain proof that he’s a werewolf, would they not be on his tails forever?”
“Sure,” Hermione said, “until they had to desist due to legal changes. Just saying, but the rift with beasts and beings and our theories as to why it’s worsening magic shortage ties in very nicely here.”
“That could be months,” Tom said, “years. How is he going to spend those months and years?”
“Code of conduct therapy means binding his magic,” Hermione said, “no matter what it means for him, isn’t everything worth it to prevent that?” Robards was suspiciously quiet but Tom ignored it for the moment.
“Let’s say someone was very confident in reversing it,” Tom said and let it hang in the air.
“It’s a punishment used by my department,” Robards said, “very rarely, in very extreme cases. Tom, you don’t want him to have endure it for even a minute. Believe me. I know what it does.”
Harry’s hand found Tom’s robe and tugged at it, out of sight and very lightly. Tom turned to look at him and they shared a thought, just a word, before Tom looked back up.
“He’s fine?” Tom asked Ron, who nodded. “Should rest the rest of the day,” Ron said, “take it easy for the rest of the week. Full moon’s coming up anyway, isn’t it?”
Tom nodded, leaned down to help Harry sit up. He stroked the handcuffs with his wand; it only took a moment to unlock them and Tom stepped back after a moment.
“I want to make one last try,” he said, “let me step out to them for a moment.”
Gawain and Ron nodded; he carefully didn’t look at Hermione.
Slouth and Hoginns were seated outside, staring at the door. They started to get up when Tom came out, but Tom didn’t give anyone a chance this time; he plunged their part of the corridor in silence and safety from prying eyes before they even thought to take out their wands; made them immobile. Obliviating was as easy for him as breathing and he was done with them in less than a few seconds, let them go, before he searched for Peggy; better to cover all his tracks.
When he came back, Harry was sitting up and drinking some water; the others stood waiting, looking at Tom expectantly.
“I’ll rescheduled for Harry and me,” Tom said, “we can go home now. Thank you all for – helping.”
“How?” Hermione asked but Robards laughed, moved towards the door.
“Believable deniability Miss Granger,” he said, “means knowing nothing. I’ll be taking my leave.” He nodded at Tom, before looking back at Harry.
“Potter,” he said, soft and affectionate, “take the promotion, please. I’ve had enough of you in hospitals.” Harry smiled, tired and shrugged and Robards left.
“What did you do?” Hermione repeated. Tom helped Harry stand on unsteady feet; didn’t answer, wasn’t sure if he should or if he shouldn’t and –
“Obliviated them,” Harry said, “my idea.” There was a certain challenging tone in his voice and Ron laughed.
“Lucky you that Tom’s the sort of person who can do that in under a minute,” he said, and Hermione sighed.
“I’m going back,” she said, “see if I can do a bit more cleanup. And paying the legal department a visit to know what else we can do.”
The realization that they were on Harry’s side – on his side – hit Tom like a ton of bricks.
“Come by tonight,” he heard himself say, “I’ll cook dinner. We owe you – a lot for letting us get away.”
“He’s our bloody best friend,” Ron said with warmth in his voice, “seven okay?”
Tom nodded and wrapped an arm around Harry, because he was someone who could apparate out of St. Mungo’s and saw no reason why he shouldn’t even now and with a thought, they were gone.
In their kitchen, Harry fully melted against him. Tenderness came easier to Tom these days and so he held him and whispered to him and told him it was alright and stroked his hair with the softest touch he could manage.
Harry wiped roughly at his face when they stepped apart.
“It’s – funny business,” he said, sounding miserable and small, “I – I think it triggered me and I-“
“It’s alright,” Tom told him, “Harry, it’s just fine.”
“What do I do now?” Harry asked and then the tears came for real and Tom stepped forward again and hugged him close and when the floo rushed to life half an hour later, he knew who it was and kept his position.
Severus wrapped his long arms around both of them.
He gave Harry to Severus after a few more minutes, went to inspect their storage room. Then he brewed tea and they put Harry on the couch and made him have some and then Severus took Harry upstairs to get him out of his uniform and Tom started preparing dinner on autopilot until Severus came back down and wordlessly took his wand from Tom to hug him close too.
It was like rush of water; Tom opened his mouth fully intending to talk and out came a sob and then he couldn’t stop.
He didn’t even know why was crying; maybe over Harry’s grief over his childhood, maybe over Harry’s tears or the humiliation he knew Harry had felt laying tied down on a hospital bed. Maybe he cried for the heart-stopping fear he felt when he heard that Harry had been injured again. Maybe he cried over the kindness and loyalty of Gawain and Ron and Hermione and his continuing disability to trust anyone but his partners. Maybe he cried for no particular reason at all; just for the last months and the way their lives had changed or maybe he cried for the fact that he didn’t feel ashamed any more to cry in front of Severus at all.
“Merlin,” Severus said, whispered to him, “listen, he’s fine; you’re fine. We’ll find a way around beast division. If he must give up work, he’ll find something different to do. Tom, please.”
“I thought he was hurt again,” Tom managed to sob out and then Severus stopped talking and just hugged him closer and when they kissed both of their faces were wet.
“That’s – part of life,” Severus said, “he’ll get hurt again -it’s his job. We can’t be – so scared, Tommy, we can’t-“
This time it was Harry who wrapped his arms around them both, whispering hush and with both of them with him, Tom could finally calm down.
“I’ll quit,” Harry said to them, very quietly, “I’ll quit. It’s – I think it’s enough now. I don’t want to scare you. I don’t want to get injured again.”
“You don’t have to,” Tom said, “I was just – it just surprised me and-“
“No,” Harry said, quiet and sure, “no. It’s enough. I’ll discuss it with Gawain. I’m – I’m really done, too.”
That night, they got drunk. Tom hadn’t planned it, but Harry, Hermione and Ron went from dinner to telling stories to bearing their hearts over the hurtful last years of their friendship, and at one point, Tom got up and got out the Whiskey and it was downhill from there. Severus was long back at Hogwarts and Tom regretted it immensely when he woke up the next morning and had no hangover potion in the house, because they were not in the habit of drinking often.
After that, Ron and Hermione and Harry were friends again, easily; all it had taken was a full airing out of what they had thought of each other and then they had decided to forgive and forget. Tom hadn’t believed it could work, but he saw it working in the coming weeks and then months, and finally, years and with time, he wasn’t surprised any more when he came home and found Ronald Weasley on his couch playing chess against Severus or when Rose wanted to help him in the kitchen. He, maybe, stayed surprised over his friendship with Hermione; he had never had a true friend if he discounted Severus and Harry, thought himself incapable of having someone’s friendship but here he was, best friend of a woman years younger than him but in many ways just as capable and smart as Tom himself. He loved her; fiercely; loved her annoying husband and their child and would have died protecting them and it didn’t scare him like it would have scared him years ago.
He stopped looking for hidden meanings; for plots against him. His paranoia, always complicating his life, seemed to just die away and it left him – somewhat softer, quicker to laugh and forgive and to ask Severus or Harry to comfort him if he wasn’t feeling well. It changed Severus too; not having to look out and flatten Tom’s outbursts, made Severus more relaxed and he formed a somewhat hilarious friendship with Ron that existed through threats and wordplays and chess games and had Harry regularly double down with laughter, while Hermione and him, watched their antics and rolled their eyes and discussed theories that Ron and Harry found boring. These nights usually ended with Severus integrating himself into Hermione’s and Tom’s discussion while Ron and Harry did the washing up at whichever house they were and took Rose to bed or went outside to fly a bit and Tom would wrap an arm around Severus’s shoulder or put his head in Severus’s lap while the talked and marvel at the fact that he had four – four! – people who saw him regularly and loved him still.
After that first dinner, Harry moaned against Tom’s chest when he woke up, whispering fuck because they had had drunk much too much. Tom petted his head before he rolled out of bed – ignored the rolling of his stomach – and somehow made his way downstairs to find them something fatty, greasy to eat.
Harry staggered after him ten minutes later and slumped over at the kitchen table, head in hand. “I have to take that awful potion for the first time today,” he moaned, “I was supposed to be at Hogwarts half an hour ago.”
He looked up at Tom with wide eyes drowning in pitifulness and Tom groaned and put on something decent and apparated to the nearest apothecary and got them two hangover potions before feeding Harry the one sausage he could get him to take in before Harry made his way to Hogwarts.
He came back with a note from Severus (just one line and no greeting; how can you be so reckless with his health?) that put Tom in a foul mood for the rest of the day. He did his absolutions quickly before going into work; Hermione was not at her desk and it took Tom sitting down and getting a first look at his reports before he remembered her.
Umbridge; Umbridge knew.
He was out of his chair so quickly he almost fell, grabbed a memo for Harry, scribbled a warning and sent it to the auror department. His heart was racing; he was not up to his usual game when he forgot her so easily. He made his way over to the lifts; the one that opened first spilled out a suffering looking Hermione, who grabbed Tom’s arm and marched him back towards his office.
“It’s urgent,” she said when he protested, and he followed her; his heart was beating harder than usual.
In the anteroom, Hermione warded the door.
“Umbridge,” she said, “Gawain remembered her earlier this morning and called me. We took care of her.”
Tom stared at her, unable to say a word, unable to hold a thought.
“How?” he finally asked, and she looked at him, looked him up and down.
“We love him too, you know,” she said quietly, “obliviate, just like you. She’s a toad anyway.”
“Thank you,” Tom said, “for doing that. You should have called me. I could have done it and you wouldn’t have – to indicate yourselves.”
Hermione shrugged and went to sit at her desk and Tom went into his office numbly. Taken care of, Harry wrote him in a memo half an hour later and Tom let it fall limply into his hearth, watched it burn to a crisp.
He and Severus weren’t alone any longer in protecting Harry and he wasn’t sure what he felt; relief, protectiveness, territoriality, happiness or a terrible mix of it all.
On his third day of wolfsbane, Harry entered Severus’s office at Hogwarts before work to get his daily dose of potion. It stood already on Severus’s desk, smoking and smelling awful and all at once, Harry couldn’t breathe. He was – so scared that it wouldn’t work and while his breathing picked up, he felt desperately close to just giving up and getting a poison, just to not have to be so anxious for another four days.
Then Severus came up behind him and pressed his fingers hard against the bend of Harry’s elbow, and Harry, shocked out of it, gasped in a breath.
It was something Severus had taught him, in that long, desperate winter when his friends and Sirius and Remus had turned from him, after Harry found the courage to love Tom, to love Severus. He had sat up with Harry for hours, long after Tom had gone to bed and taught him to breathe, to inhale and exhale, to press his trigger to get himself out of panic attacks and it had served Harry back then. These days, he barely ever used it; he could suppose he was lucky that it still worked but it didn’t feel like it while he turned around to have Severus hug him.
“My boy,” Severus said very quietly, “my poor boy.” Harry whimpered against him and Severus took more of his weight, kissed his brow.
“Lay down, Harry,” he said, “I’ll feed you the potion. I hope it will help with the nausea and dizziness.”
“You don’t have to,” Harry mumbled, and Severus kissed him, gently.
“But I will,” he said and pushed Harry over, pushed him over towards a chair he transfigured into a couch. Harry kept his eyes closed while Severus laid him down, kept his eyes closed while Severus fed him the potion. He didn’t make a sound until he was done, but once Severus got back up, he gagged and turned his face to press it into cushions and started to cry.
Severus didn’t say a word, but he came back, dragged his chair closer and slipped a hand in Harry’s hair, gently scratching over his scalp, not saying a word, until Harry calmed back down, roughly wiped at his face.
“Your office really hasn’t changed,” he said after a moment and Severus quietly laughed.
“I rearranged all the potions behind your back,” he said, “but I guess if I ask you what the difference is between transmutilia and transconcotia I will not get an answer, so maybe I can’t expect you to notice.”
“I can safely say that I heard of neither of those in my life,” Harry said. Severus laughed again and leaned forward to kiss him.
“What are you so scared about?” he asked quietly, hand still in Harry’s hair, gently massaging behind his ears.
“Don’t know,” Harry mumbled. The nausea still rolled in his stomach and he had to breathe deeply for a moment.
“Think about it,” Severus said, tightening his grip.
“That it won’t work out,” Harry said all in a rush, “that I’ll stay like this forever, that you – can’t do it with me because it’s too hard, that I’ll be all alone, that-“
“Have I ever given you reason to doubt my steadfastness towards you?” Severus asked.
Harry shook his head, miserably. “No,” he said, “but I am always so unlucky. I never get what I want. I’m just so scared that – I’ll be unlucky again and I’ll lose you and I’ll-“
Severus pressed his trigger point again, then leaned forward and touched Harry’s face with his nose, gently stroking it along Harry’s cheekbones.
“I have you,” he said, voice smooth as silk and Harry shivered, body turning towards him. “Tom has you,” Severus continued, still in that voice, raising goosebumps all over Harry’s arms. “Nothing will ever get us to stop having you. I would love to be able to kiss it all better, all these hurts you’re still carrying around. But I can’t. All I can is promise. Do you think I promise lightly?”
“No,” Harry whispered, barely getting the word out. He was hard, straining, but he barely noticed; he was focused on Severus’s words to the exclusiveness of all else.
“My good boy,” Severus said and leaned forward to take Harry’s lips in a searing kiss, swallowed down Harry’s groan and whimper.
He was very late for work that day.
“So,” Harry said, four days later. Severus had reassured him multiple times that all had went well with the potions, but Harry couldn’t help his anxiety; he was terribly afraid that he would go down to the dungeon and still lose his mind; that again, for him, it wouldn’t work out.
“So,” Tom said opposite him, calmly drinking from his glass. They were still at Tom’s office, because there had been no pull to make Harry tired and he could work right up until this day, the day of the full moon; but still, Harry couldn’t trust it.
“I’m usually right with what I say,” Tom said, “and I am saying you’ll be fine. Can’t you try to believe it?”
“I am,” Harry said, not looking at him. Tom would likely hear the lie too, and there was no need to hide himself and here Harry was, hiding his face.
“Darling,” Tom said. They were waiting for Hermione to finish something and then they would go and have dinner and only then Tom would take Harry home, because they still had an hour to spare before the moon rose and Harry fiddled with his robe and couldn’t trust.
“Do you think Severus makes a mistake with his potions?” Tom asked, and Harry shook his head; Severus’s skill was certainly not Harry’s issue. It was that he, Harry, usually didn’t get what he wanted; no family, no mom or dad, only either husbands and lovers or his friends.
“You’ll be fine,” Tom repeated just when Hermione rapped on the door.
“Stop freaking out,” she said to Harry before they went outside, and Harry nodded, woodenly, and then Tom wrapped an arm around him for everyone to see and Harry told himself to get a grip.
Ron laughed when they arrived at the little restaurant Tom had chosen. “Mate, you look like we’re going to eat you,” he said, and Harry gave him a watery smile.
He spaced out during the meal, barely ate. Tom was sitting opposite him and pressed their legs together and stood on Harry’s foot to get his attention back, but Harry kept drifting, unable to partake in their conversation until Tom wiped his mouth and signaled for the waiter.
“I’ll order the two of you another wine,” Tom said to Hermione, “and pick up the tab, but then I’m afraid we must be going because my husband is about to keel over.”
“Comes from not eating his food,” Ron said and put a spoonful of Harry’s lasagna in his mouth.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said. It came out uneven and a bit high and Tom’s brows immediately drew down. Ron laughed next to Harry and clapped him on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine, mate,” he said, “and I will make fun of you forever.”
“I’m just – unsure,” Harry mumbled, and Ron got serious. “You didn’t feel the pull, did you?” he asked. Harry mutely shook his head.
“Then you’ll be fine, Harry,” Hermione said, “let me guess, you didn’t read a single book about werewolves, did you? I’ll send you a list.”
“Tom has a list,” Harry said just as Tom finished off paying for their meal and stood up.
“Thanks for the invite,” Hermione said, and Tom nodded at her while he clasped Harry’s hand. “And give us a word, will you?”
“Of course,” Tom said and brushed a kiss against Harry’s hand before taking him outside to find a spot to apparate.
Severus was already in their living room and Harry made a beeline for him, practically fell in his lap. Severus snorted and hugged him close and Harry poured out a jumbled mess of words all over him and Severus very gently petted his hair.
“On your knees, Harry,” he said when Harry was finished, and Harry slipped down. He wasn’t into this sort of thing, usually, but today he thought it might help if he was allowed to give up – a little control and neither Severus nor Tom had ever given him more than he could handle.
“Good boy,” Severus said; out of his eye, Harry saw Tom settle down in the armchair opposite them and he shivered, knowing that he pleased Severus, that Tom was watching over them.
“Want to get me hard?” Severus asked, and Harry nodded; eagerly. His fingers slipped a few times trying to open Severus’s buttons and Severus chuckled, touched his fingers to Harry’s chin. “Wandless magic,” he demanded, and Harry concentrated, hard; it didn’t work, and Tom saved him, opened Severus trousers for Harry without a word or movement.
Severus’s eyes flickered over to Tom for a second before settling on Harry again, smiling at him.
“Get me hard, Harry,” he commanded, and Harry obliged, happily. After a while Severus’s hand on his head moved from petting to directing and then he was forcing his cock in deeper and deeper until Harry gasped and gurgled and cried while he had his throat fucked.
Severus’s orgasm was rather intense.
He drew Harry forward after he was done, tugged him close and bracketed him with his legs, gently petted Harry’s hair. Harry’s knees hurt but he didn’t move; for once, in over a week, he felt something approaching calm.
Tom’s hand on him startled him; he hadn’t heard him move. Tom kneeled down next to him, wrapped an arm around him. Severus was looking down at them both, impossibly soft and Harry’s eyes were drawn to the clock and he went rigid immediately; there was no time left – he was going to change in a minute – he wasn’t in his cage – he –
“God, I love you,” Tom said next to him, “you idiot. Relax and just change and thank us tomorrow.”
And Harry, still clutched by both of them waited the few seconds it took to feel the pull, and then he did change without any problems whatsoever, and they kept holding him despite what he was and when he woke in between them in bed the next morning, they kissed away his tears of gratitude and love and happiness and went on with their business as usual.
Because it had just become life - maybe more unpredictable, a little less comfortable, a little harder, but also so much softer, and filled with deeper love, but in the end it was mostly, entirely, theirs.