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For I Know

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Harry woke up with a gasp, side throbbing in pulses of pain. He had no idea where he was, but something kept him from freaking out, as if some kind of buffer was between him and the rest of the world. He moaned without meaning too; he was unbearably hot.

 

A hand settled on his brow, gently rubbing along his eyebrows. Harry couldn’t open his eyes for more than a few seconds; everything was unbearably slow and confusing and –

 

“Hush, Harry,” Severus said, “you’ll be fine. I’m here.”

 

Harry slept.

 

--

 

The next time he woke, the pain was worse. His mouth was dry. He tried to roll his head to the side and pain lanced through him; he whimpered.

 

“Hush,” Severus said. Lips pressed down against his temple, but they weren’t Severus’s.

 

“Tom,” Harry breathed out and a hand settled on his aching tummy, slowly rubbing in circles.

 

Harry slept again.

 

--

 

The time he woke after that, Harry was able to open his eyes. The lights were too bright for him, but they were quickly dimmed, and Severus quietly told him to try open them again. When Harry did, his gaze was automatically drawn down towards the injury, but he couldn’t see it; it was under some sort of privacy charm that Harry had never seen before.

 

“Tom?” he asked, and Severus shook his head, lips thin.

 

“Back at work,” he said, “you’ve been in for six days.”

 

“What happened?” Harry asked. There was a low thrum of anxiety inside him, as if he had forgotten something big.

 

“You were attacked,” Severus said and scooted closer, gently reaching out to stroke Harry’s hair away from his face.

 

“I can’t remember,” Harry said; the anxiety grew, and Severus came even closer, a human shield between Harry and the rest of the world. It settled some of Harry’s nerves.

 

“I’ll tell you in a little while,” he promised, and Harry slept.

 

--

 

Tom looked unhappy when Harry woke up the next time. A healer came in and ran some tests on Harry, not taking away the privacy charm.

 

“Did I lose my legs?” Harry joked; he could tell that it fell flat, but Tom gave him the ghost of a smile in response.

 

There was a pull somewhere deep inside Harry; a pull that promised something frightening and horrifying.

 

“I don’t feel good,” Harry said once the healer had left.

 

Tom came closer and sat at the edge of Harry’s bed and took his hand, playing with his fingers for a moment. Harry’s fingers looked naked without his ring, but the ring was with Tom, because Harry’s fingers were too swollen to wear it.

 

“How so?” he asked quietly and it scared Harry; Tom was not usually this complacent when Harry got hurt.

 

“Like there’s something – some thing inside me,” Harry said, and Tom breathed in deeply, blinking his eyes. Harry’s anxiety sky-rocketed; Tom didn’t cry.

 

“You’ve been bitten,” he said in usual blunt way, “by two werewolves on the day of the full moon.”

 

Harry tried to say something but there were no words.

 

“We have to wait until the next one to know for sure,” Tom said and then held Harry’s head up when he retched.

 

--

 

The wound was ugly and horrifying, stretched all the way from Harry’s second lowest rib to the very edge of his pelvis. The flesh had still not knit back together; the huge chunks they had ripped out of him were taking a long time to heal.

 

Parts of his guts had been regrown by the healers; his bladder had been ripped open. His kidney on the side of the injury had been torn and had regrown as well. Worst were the internal injuries he had suffered around his dick and that Harry could not feel any pressure or temperature on the skin directly surrounding the bites.

 

Severus’s fingertips were very gentle when he followed the shapes of them.

 

“I can’t feel my dick,” Harry said, and Severus looked up at him, face full of sorrow.

 

“They’re not sure you’re going to regain feeling there,” he said, and Harry closed his eyes, tears leaking out.

 

“Please make it stop,” Harry begged, and Severus kissed him, kissed his closed eyelids, kissed the tears running down his cheeks, gently kissing them away.

 

“I got you,” he promised, and Harry cried.

 

--

 

The first time Harry was allowed to try and take a shower, protection charms in full work around the injury to not aggravate it, he looked in the hospital mirror. Besides the wound there were other bruises on his body but for the first time he saw the clear finger prints on his hips, the mark of blunt human teeth on his neck.

 

They made him remember.

 

Tom had gone out to get a coffee; Severus was teaching at Hogwarts. Harry sat down at the edge of the tub and wept until the nurse came in and asked if he needed assistance. Then he got himself together, had his shower – he didn’t want his colleagues to see him in the state he was in; before he went to sit on his bed to wait for Tom.

 

Tom take one look at him before he floated the coffee away and rushed to Harry’s side.

 

“Don’t,” Harry said, “I called Robards. I remember. You can’t – touch me. I will lose it. Please don’t.”

 

Tom opened his mouth, but Harry shook his head desperately. “Later, please,” he begged, and Tom nodded, went over to where his coffee was still floating in the air and gave it to Harry.

 

“Severus will kill you if he knows you gave me caffeine with all those potions,” he said, and Tom smiled. He wasn’t exactly hovering, was definitely doing Harry the favor of not comforting him but Harry knew he wouldn’t leave the room even if ordered.

 

The rest was anticlimactic; Robards came and brought Pritchett and Farrarbone with him. They took Harry’s statement; Tom raised a simply eyebrow at Robards when he was asked to leave. Robards visibly blanched and Tom remained in his corner, watching them silently.

 

“Harry,” Robards said at the end, “we have nothing but respect for you, but you know the regulations regarding werewolves in the force.”

 

Harry swallowed; Tom watched.

 

“We don’t know yet if I was turned,” Harry said with some difficulty. Deep inside he knew he knew.

 

“Come see me once you know,” Robards said, “paid leave until then. I hope you’re feeling better soon.” Harry nodded at them when they left.

 

The door closed. Harry couldn’t look at Tom for another moment and Tom got up and got closer until he could lift Harry’s chin with a finger.

 

“They won’t walk away,” he said, eyes a dark storm of hate and revenge. Harry dropped his head on Tom’s shoulder and kept breathing; just breathing.

 

--

 

He was alone. It was the middle of the night and they didn’t usually sleep with him whenever he stayed at St. Mungo’s; but Harry had never been hurt like this and it was the middle of the night and he was turning into a monster and they had taken turns watching over him while he slept, shushing Harry whenever he said they needed rest or work. Not tonight though; tonight, Harry was alone.

 

He tried to sit it out; tried not to cry for help. He fought against himself for such a long time but when he looked at the watch again only 20 minutes had passed.

 

He cried; he hyperventilated. Nobody came. He didn’t know where his wand was; probably with Tom. He tried calling out, but his voice was too weak. He cried more; his face was so wet. They weren’t there.

 

The door opened 10 minutes later; Tom came in first. “Harry?” he said and then immediately cast lumos and within a second, he was on the bed beside Harry, hugging him. “It’s okay,” he said. Severus was doing something, but Harry couldn’t lift his head from where he sat gasping against Tom’s chest.

 

“Nightmare,” Tom said to Severus, “he’s fine.” Severus answered something Harry couldn’t hear; Tom kept stroking through his hair.

 

“He’s not supposed to sit up like this,” Severus said; the hand he had on Harry’s shoulder turned insistent. “Lay down, Harry.”

 

“No,” Harry said and gripped Tom’s shirt, balled up the expensive fabric.

 

“Yes,” Tom answered and leaned them down, hunching over to not let go of Harry. The wound pulsed; everything directly around it Harry could still not feel.

 

Severus was looking at it, picking up something to clean parts of it. Harry had by now grown extremely squeamish of it, couldn’t look at it at all without having a panic attack. Tom, he had noticed, also prevented directly dealing with his wound though Harry doubted that he would ever admit feeling sick at the sight of it.

 

“Tom,” he said again; he wasn’t sure why. Tom’s hands gentled him. Harry turned his head a little to breathe him in more deeply. The bed dipped by his uninjured side and Severus’s hand touched Harry’s neck after a moment, resting over his pulse point.

 

“I’m sorry,” Harry said.

 

“Don’t be,” Severus said. “I don’t mind taking care of you,” Tom said at the same time. Harry shivered and pressed closer until he was drowsy and shifted off to sleep.

 

--

 

Three days before the full moon, the last bite of Harry’s injury closed. He also got an infection and a forty-degree fever.

 

It was Severus with him, once again. Tom had barely stopped by that week. Apparently the brain room was melting. Harry had no idea what the brain room was, but Tom appeared flustered by it and anything with the ability to fluster Tom was potentially very bad.

 

Harry had spent much of his fourth week at St. Mungo’s by himself. He had had some physical therapy and mostly continued to wait for the bites to fully close up. He had contemplated asking Hermione or Ron stop by, but Ron worked at St. Mungo’s and hadn’t come to see Harry and the ball of sadness in Harry’s chest whenever he thought about it had prevented him from owling either one of them.

 

They hadn’t really talked since he had gotten together with Tom and shortly after with Severus and Harry missed them, but he was also angry; it was complicated.

 

All that kept him company was one of Tom’s shirts and an array of funny little missives out of the brain room. St. Mungo’s staff frowned at his owl coming directly into his room, but sometimes it paid to be married to one of the administration’s most mysterious and feared man.

 

“You don’t have to stay,” Harry told Severus when the nurses rolled out the anti-inflammation potions. Severus had studied their labels with a rather grim look on his face and he jerked around sharply when Harry spoke.

 

“I’m not leaving you with a fever and completely defenseless three days before the full moon,” he hissed and went back to studying his label.

 

“I’ll be fine,” Harry tried, “you’ve been here all the time. Go home and get some sleep.”

 

“I don’t sleep,” Severus answered absent-mindedly.

 

“Then get some work done,” Harry said and yawned. He was cold and shivery, and the blanket gave him not enough heat.

 

“Cut it out, Harry,” Severus said and came over towards him, resting his hand on Harry’s forehead. “You must know that I care for that fever of yours as little as I care for any first-year potion’s essay,” he said quietly, and Harry breathed him in.

 

“Why is Ron not stopping by?” he asked in that same quiet voice and Severus rubbed his nose against Harry’s cheek.

 

“A million reasons,” he said, “that all start with he’s a treacherous excuse of a friend and end with you are better off not dwelling on why people stop liking you because of your choice of partners, because you must recognize that you must either reform your choice of partners or your choice of friends and both makes you maudlin.”

 

“I’m maudlin,” Harry agreed, “Tom’s not here.”

 

“Tom is fighting brains,” Severus said, “and very soon me if you continue being sad about it. Rest would do you some good.”

 

“You’ve been so nice to me,” Harry said, “no telling me I am an imp with two braincells in the last four weeks. It feels weird.”

 

“We’re trying very hard for normalcy, Harry,” Severus said, “but you also managed to be chewed up like a dog toy. I never want to see you again in the state you’ve been in.”

 

“Am I going to ever go back to work?” Harry asked which was an euphemism but Harry couldn’t ask about the wolf.

 

“I make a point of not lying to you,” Severus said which was an euphemism for not wanting to answer.

 

“I’ll be fine if you want to go,” Harry said sleepily again.


“I’m right where I should be,” Severus answered and smoothed back his hair.

 

--

 

Harry burned.

 

They had tied him down inside a fortified and warded room. The shift was likely to reopen his injury but there was nothing to stop him from shifting, no potion or spell or magic in the world. It was still three hours until the moon would rise, but Harry knew; they all knew. The healers were to wait outside; St. Mungo’s security had been sent in and withdrawn again when Tom had heard that they were supposed to stun Harry if he managed to escape the shackles or the binding spells or the weird shimmering glow that Tom had drawn around him. He had explained what he had been doing but Harry had only listened to the sound of his voice not his actual words and then only started listening to his actual words when he had ordered security away. Harry knew that tone of voice and he was worried, but he was also too far gone already to tell Tom that he would be very mad about any kind of murder.

 

The wound was already bleeding as if it knew what was to come. Harry could barely hold still; his muscles flexed and itched and twitched and Tom kept saying “stop twitching” and “Harry, I’m begging you” and Harry couldn’t stop. Something kept Severus at Hogwarts, but Harry couldn’t listen to Tom telling him what.

 

When the moon rose, Harry howled.

 

It was unlike anything he had ever felt. It was indescribable. It felt like breaking open, felt like being ripped apart while his consciousness hovered elsewhere. He felt himself losing all control until all he wanted was to sink his teeth into Tom’s hands holding him down. Then he forgot all sense of Harry or Tom; all he wanted was to rip apart the hands holding him down, was to escape, was to –

 

Then he lost all sense of thinking and enraged, he howled.

 

When he came back to himself, his head was on Tom’s shoulder, his upper body resting on Tom’s chest. They were in some kind of bath that wasn’t filled with water but some sticky steam. It felt very weird, but also weightless and comforting. Everything felt dull but beyond the dullness Harry could sense an immeasurable amount of pain and exhaustion. Tom’s hand was on his forehead, keeping him steady. Tom’s other hand was holding him around the ribcage, keeping him close. Severus was sitting outside the tub, gently scooping and stirring the steam.

 

“I don’t want it,” Harry mumbled. Tom didn’t answer, but Harry felt his voice in his head anyway, telling him that he was safe and loved and that it would be fine.

 

“I want to go home,” Harry whispered. “Soon, Harry,” Severus said quietly. Tom hugged him a little closer.

 

“Please keep wanting me,” Harry said. He hadn’t meant to, but he had worried. Severus had always strongly disliked Remus. Tom had never voiced any particular problem with werewolves, but he also thought them to be ruled by their emotions.

 

Severus laughed. Tom sighed. “You infuriate me,” he said, “we promised until death.”

 

“But Severus didn’t,” Harry said. They had discussed it back then, but Tom and Severus ruled it out, didn’t want the complications of openly living in a relationship with three people. “I’d prefer to remain untethered anyway,” Severus had said, and Harry knew that it was true, that Severus preferred to see them occasionally over seeing them all the time. Out of Tom’s childhood an addiction had grown to take care of the very few people he trusted himself to love and out of Harry’s childhood an addiction to being taken care of had grown. Out of Severus’s childhood, however, an ultimate will had grown to not ever depend on anyone but himself and that will could not easily be pressed down into domestic life. It had never been an issue but a perfect fit but now Harry worried.

 

“You’re not scared?” Harry asked, just to be sure.

 

“Until death, Harry,” Tom said, “and now sleep.”

 

And Harry slept.

 

Chapter Text

It took two days to fully sink in (and Merlin, how he would laugh about that thought later, when it had really sunken in). Harry felt numb and apathetic, felt weirdly out of sorts. He knew that he had to call Robards, but all the did was sleep or stare off into space. Tom and Severus didn’t pressure him to talk, kept him company silently for much of these first days after Harry’s first turn. He was in bad shape physically; the shift had not completely reopened the wound, but it had done much damage and Harry was running a constant low-grade fever, had a constant infection. He had had no idea how much the shift would hurt and how out of it he would be for days afterwards; for the first time, he understood that there was more to him having to resign than pure prejudice. He couldn’t even imagine going to work the way he felt.

 

Severus was more handsy in those first few days than Tom which was unusual too, but Harry didn’t tell him off, enjoyed the long, slow strokes down his leg or arm or back.

 

“When can I go home?” Harry asked him on the third day. Severus was grading papers next to Harry’s bed and from the way he was shaking his head, Harry could guess that the next class for the fourth year Ravenclaws wouldn’t go that well.

 

“Once you are fever-free for at least a week,” Severus said. They had had that talk before and Harry knew that it was grinding on both Tom’s and Severus’s nerves, but he could not let it go. He needed a breath; he needed to be by himself.

 

“You’re a potions master and Tom’s a genius,” Harry whined. Severus looked at him briefly and sighed, went back to his papers.

 

“And both of us are no healers,” he said, “cut it out, Harry. I’d much rather have you home as well, but we are not risking it. Neither one of us can stay with you a full day. If something happens to you under our care, I can tell you that Tom would not react prettily. Do you really want that?”

 

“No,” Harry said but it wasn’t really true. He knew what it meant when Tom “reacted not prettily”; he had seen the temper. He had seen the violence, the hatred. He knew that Tom struggled to understand basic decency, didn’t know how to care for anyone but Harry and Severus, but for them his care was absolute, and Harry refused to consider what it meant for Tom’s character that he couldn’t care less about people not his lovers. He didn’t want to. They had had their arguments; a few times Harry had had to intervene. But Tom had seen all of Harry, the good, the bad and the very worst and it hadn’t put him off and Harry would return that feeling for as long as he could.

 

“Harry,” Severus sighed and leaned forward, putting his essays away, “I’ll bargain; fever-free for five days and I’ll sign you out. But you have to give me that.”

 

“Fine,” Harry grumbled, and Severus watched him for a moment before going back to his work. Harry, still exhausted and weak, couldn’t stay awake for much longer.

 

“Don’t wake him,” he heard next. He was warm and comfy; one of Tom’s heating charms.

 

“I haven’t seen him in almost two days,” Tom said. He didn’t sound good; that voice was usually reserved for people like Malfoy or Lestrange or Avery.

 

Severus’s voice steeled in response. “I want him out of here,” he hissed, “and it won’t happen if we don’t give him time to rest. Work less, then.”

 

“Oh Severus,” Tom said dangerously, and Harry shivered and rolled around to look at them. The tone had scared him, and he looked up at them, still hazy from sleep.

 

“What’s going on?” he said and reached out a hand for Severus. Tom’s eyes were intense, and Harry shivered; Tom saw it and something raw and open broke on his face, but with a blink it was gone again.

 

“I’ll see you later, Harry,” he said and left with a twirl of his robes before Harry could answer.

 

--

 

Then Ron came to visit.

 

Ron was still tall and strong and ginger, looked almost the same even though Harry hadn’t really seen him for two years. Harry was alone when he came, and Ron drew up a chair, settled himself in it as if he belonged.

 

They small talked for a little while. Then Ron leant forward. “If they are kicking you out because of it,” he said, “you can always stay with Hermione and me.”

 

“They won’t kick me out because of it,” Harry said, fed up. He knew that Ron remembered their potions teacher Professor Snape who teased and bullied them but that’s not how Severus was with him now and Harry could admit that he had grown to like the snark. He knew that Ron remembered Tom as the man who pushed for legislation that allowed muggle-born kids to be taken away from their birth parents, the man who pushed against any kind of interaction between Muggles and wizards, the man who had countless cases brought against him for violence in front of the Wizengamot but neither he nor Hermione had tried honestly to get to know the real Tom or Severus beyond the façade and it irked Harry horribly.

 

Ron and Hermione were once the only people Harry loved, the only people who could understand what it meant to Harry to have a family. That they hated the family he had chosen opened up a horrible bottomless pit of sadness inside Harry. He had tried to explain why he liked the age difference, why it needed to be both of them, all the good things they gave him, and he gave them, but it had been useless, and Harry hadn’t even wanted to try in the past two years.

 

“Oh, Harry,” Ron said, “don’t be idiotic. This is a huge change. It likely has big repercussions for you, for your health both physical and mental and for your job. Of course, it also impacts your relationships.”

 

Harry set his jar, shook his head without looking at Ron. He was miserable, and he had the feeling that Ron enjoyed seeming him miserable. It didn’t make him angry only made him even sadder.

 

“Shut up, Ron,” he said quietly, and Ron sighed.  

 

“Sirius and Remus would like to visit,” he said in his usual blunt way, “can they?”

 

Harry knew Tom’s answer to that question. He certainly knew Severus’s answer to that question. He wasn’t so sure about his own.

 

“Let me think about it,” he said, and Ron shook his head, got up.

 

“They raised you,” he said, accusingly. “I really don’t get you at all anymore.”

 

“Neither do I,” Harry said after he had left. His heartbeat was fiercely fast, his hands sweaty and he hadn’t calmed down when Tom came in with some Korean fried chicken he had undoubtedly transfigured to sneak in to Harry.

 

“Thought I stopped over for lunch,” he said and smiled his half-smile at Harry. “You deserve a little treat, I guess.”

 

“For getting overwhelmed by two werewolves and bitten and turned despite being Head Auror?” Harry asked and couldn’t keep the bitterness out of his voice. Tom hesitated, clutching the takeaway box in his hand before settling it down on the little table in the room. He sat on the edge of Harry’s bed, studying Harry who could in turn not look back at him. Harry felt for some reason very suddenly and very horribly shy and Tom rested his hand on his knee after a moment, gently squeezing.

 

“You’re not invincible, Harry,” he said quietly, “you’ve done your community a tremendous favor. One they were not ever going to pay back even if you had retired at a hundred and not been leaving the force early. I know it’s – bitter. And you can be angry and upset about it. But you can’t fault yourself for being overpowered. It was bound to happen at one point.”

 

“It’s a bad day when you’re the voice of reason,” Harry joked weakly. That was true, but Tom didn’t take the bait.

 

“Why is it a bad day?” he asked instead, quickly cutting to the chase. They were both too smart for their own good, Severus and Tom, and truly, sometimes Harry didn’t understand what they could want him around for. It was certainly not for his communication skills.

 

“Ron,” he said with some reluctance. “He visited.”

 

Tom didn’t say anything for a moment before offering a quiet “I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be,” Harry said, “want some chicken?”

 

“Harry,” Tom said so very softly, and Harry melted; he always melted when Tom said his name like that. He would have married him for that alone.

 

“Please don’t make me talk about it,” Harry said, choking up. He was sorry for Tom going out of his way to bring him food, but there was no way that he could take a bite.

 

Tom didn’t say anything, just sat down next to Harry, shoulders touching, until Harry let his head fall against him and breathed in.

 

--

 

Harry realized how much Severus and Tom had been shielding him during the second week after his first shift. The Hufflepuffs suffered from some poisoned candy and Severus had to stay at school for almost a week brewing antidotes after antidotes. Tom didn’t exactly specify what it was that kept him at the Department, but Harry knew he wouldn’t have understood anyway.

 

The change was striking; before nurses and healers had both somewhat fanned over him. As one of the most prominent victims of the 1980’s Halloween massacre, Harry had always been somewhat in the spotlight but his marriage to Tom had accelerated the fame he had collected as Auror during his years with the force. St. Mungo’s staff had been quick to give him special privileges, more chats and consolation than others and it rapidly stopped after it had become clear that Harry had been turned.

 

People whispered now, pointed at him. Some snickered. The prophet heavily indicated that Harry’s hubris was self-made even though he hadn’t officially quit the force yet. Robards’s letters had become a lot more chilled. When handling his injury, nurses seemed intent on touching Harry as little as possible, using their wands even though it hurt more. Nobody brought him some unexpected tea any longer. He had a mandated meeting with a healer to discuss his new life and it ended with two pamphlets and a thinly veiled excuse of not having more time for Harry that day. There was no rescheduling.

 

They were strangers; it was what kept Harry going in the loneliness of his second week. People who knew him would react differently. Then he had to officially resign and almost no-one wrote to him after the real reason for his resignation was published and something deep and horrible ripped open in Harry. It felt like being back in the cupboard. He reverted to the shy little kid he had been for years, the kid he had still been in his private life long after he’d become an adult in his career. He remembered Tom being thrown and confused by what he called “Harry’s split personality disorder” when they had started to get to know each other personally, but Harry couldn’t force himself to keep looking at his healers or nurses, blushed and stammered. He wanted to go home, but Tom and Severus were not there to be told what he wanted, and he didn’t dare mention it to St. Mungo’s staff.

 

Lycanthropy remained mysterious. For years, some of the misconception provided at least a modicum of protection for werewolves. The anti-werewolf legislation passed by previous governments had been toned down in recent years, but Harry had no illusions about securing a new job.

 

Then, of course, there were the physical changes.

 

Harry’s sense of smell improved. His hearing heightened. He felt as if there was some low churning thrill running through him, something that he needed to keep in check if he didn’t want to get into trouble. He felt stronger; then again, some smells set him off. Fear set him off. He craved some food he had never particularly liked. It was all horrible and scary and he curled himself underneath the blanket, trying not to cry.

 

--

 

“Where are you hiding?” Severus asked softly – some hours later. Maybe minutes. Harry hadn’t looked at the time.

 

“Hey,” he said and tried to wipe the tears away he had been crying.

 

Severus didn’t take his blanket away, just sat down next to Harry and put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Bad day?” he asked, and Harry shrugged.

 

“How are the Hufflepuffs?” he asked and tried to breathe through his stuffed nose.

 

“Better,” Severus said, “Harry, what’s going on?”

 

“Nothing,” Harry whispered and grabbed the blanket harder.

 

“Can I see you?” Severus asked, and Harry felt a few fresh tears slip down his face.

 

“I’d rather you wouldn’t,” he said, and Severus hummed. He didn’t take away his hand.

 

“Want to go to the cafeteria with me and have some food?” he asked after a while when Harry made no move to speak.

 

“No,” Harry said. He couldn’t imagine facing anything that lay outside of his room.

 

Severus sighed. He squeezed Harry’s shoulder and stood up.

 

“I’m getting a quick bite,” he said, “I left Hogwarts before dinner. You’re coming out of that blanket when I get back.


“Yes Dad,” Harry said darkly, but only after Severus had left.

 

It was only Harry’s kind of luck that he got a roommate ten minutes after Severus had left.

 

It had been Tom, of course. St. Mungo’s had double rooms, nothing else. Tom had somehow made sure that Harry had been by himself but now Harry was a werewolf, and nothing was like it used to be.

 

It was guy in his early twenties. Harry wasn’t sure why he came in, but family followed; a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, an uncle. A girlfriend and two other friends and they all talked loudly. Harry’s wand was still with Tom due to St. Mungo’s strict no-wands policy for patients. None of the visitors bothered to raise privacy shield and Harry hid behind his blanket as good as he could, but he couldn’t hide for long before the uncle raised his eyes and wished him a good day.

 

“What are you in for, lad?” he asked and looked kindly enough and Harry came out of his cocoon a little because he didn’t want to be rude and then they saw his scar and the mother gasped and the father said, “my son won’t be in with a – monster” and then all hell broke loose.

 

The family started berating Harry, told him to get lost. The uncle called in a nurse and told her in no uncertain terms what he thought of the mingling of respectable people and beasts. The sister looked Harry up and down and sniffed derisively, as if she had smelled something bad. The father loudly claimed this or that; family connections, money while the mother clutched her son’s hand and said that Harry wasn’t allowed to hurt her baby.

 

Harry wasn’t even sure what he felt. Nobody had ever attacked him like this, personally, without knowing him at all. He could have dealt with them in a duel, but this wasn’t a duel; it was pure hatred and prejudice and it ate a hole straight through Harry’s heart. He felt in a daze; only nodded when the nurse asked him to wait outside. He went; the injury hurt. The sister screamed when she caught a glimpse of it; Harry knew it looked ugly but the obvious disgust of anyone present made him feel lower than low. He went outside, hugged his arms around his body, shivering. He was only in his gown, no sweatpants to not put pressure on the bites and he was extremely aware of almost being naked. He shivered again; it was cold, and his slippers were still inside, and the people were still screaming and then the nurse came back out and told Harry to wait in their ward’s waiting room and Harry went. Others waiting there stared at him and got up when he sat down. A woman said that she couldn’t believe how some people let themselves go; a man with a kid pressed the boy against his body and loudly asked if children’s lives needed to be risked to make people like Harry feel comfortable. Harry felt off-kilter; six weeks ago, he would have dealt with them like the battle hardened Auror he was, but right now he was a boy who was unloved by his family and always all alone and he fought desperately against new tears; he didn’t want them to get the satisfaction to see him cry.

 

“Harry,” Severus said. Harry’s gaze snapped up and then he was already up and walking, walking straight into Severus’s outstretched arm. Severus pressed him against him, turning them away and around. He walked Harry a few steps down the corridor, before stopping him. He took off the outer robes he was in and put them on Harry, carefully drawing him in closer.

 

“Tell me,” he said, and Harry told him of the family and Severus stroked back his hair from his forehead and took him with him.

 

He pushed the door open with rather a lot of force.

 

“Tutterworth,” he said. It was his professor’s voice, the voice that could make a student’s blood freeze in his veins. “A word?”

 

Tutterworth turned several shades redder. His father and uncle had no trouble answering and Severus pushed Harry back out of the room after a moment. “Stay there,” he said, voice tense and low before closing the door in Harry’s face.

 

When he opened it again five minutes later, his lips were in a thin line. A curtain had been drawn around Harry’s bed, fortified with a privacy shield and Severus urged Harry to lay back down. Harry’s wound hurt. Severus tried talking to him, but Harry turned around and away from him and closed his eyes. He had no words for both the reactions of the people around him, and his own reaction, his own silence in the face of their accusation. Severus sighed but he let him be.

 

Harry must have had fallen asleep because when he woke back up, everything was dark. Severus was sitting in a low armchair he had without doubt transfigured out of something else, eyes open and on Harry, but head leaned back. Harry hesitated only a moment before climbing down from his bed and settling himself in half on top and half to the side of Severus and Severus sighed and drew him closer. The privacy curtain was closed and secure and Harry listened to Severus’s heartbeat and fell asleep again.

 

He woke up till on top of Severus, but the soft robe thrown over him had to be Tom’s. A sudden intense yearning for Tom’s uncompromising character had Harry struggle up and awake, but once he looked around he only found Severus’s eyes; there was no Tom anywhere.

 

“He left thirty minutes ago,” Severus said, and Harry nodded, and hid himself back against Severus’s chest. He didn’t want Severus to think that Harry wasn’t grateful for him being there, but Harry yearned for Tom. Since the bite he had seen thrice as much of Severus than Tom and it hurt; he needed both of them but if he was entirely honest with himself, he needed Tom a little more.

 

It was a Sunday; Severus spent time with Harry until late afternoon before saying his goodbyes.

 

“I can’t come in tomorrow,” he said, “if something is going on, call Tom immediately. No dabbling. Send him an owl or firecall. I don’t want him to be the one to find you in that waiting room. We would likely visit him in Azkaban if that happened.”

 

“Yeah,” Harry said and didn’t kiss Severus back, feeling listless. His fever was back up. He spent an unhappy night, that was fraught with nightmares and restless sleep. He saw Aunt Petunia’s face in his dream and awoke shivery and feverish, threw up a few times.

 

He didn’t write to Tom.

 

--

 

“What about Italy?” Tom asked the day after that, when he breezed into Harry’s hospital room. His roommate had been switched to another room and Harry was alone again and thankful for it. Harry had been trying to read a book, but mostly he had stared at the door, willing either Severus or Tom to appear.

 

“Italy?” Harry asked. He sounded raspy and weak and Tom stopped dead from where he was hanging his robes, turned around, eyes narrowing in on Harry. It took him three swift steps to reach Harry, feeling his forehead and then his face dropped, good cheer evaporating.

 

“How high?” he asked; he sounded controlled, but Harry knew what it cost him.

 

“Don’t know,” Harry croaked.

 

“Harry,” Tom said and then breathed in, in and out, in and out. Harry carefully circled his wrist with two fingers, but Tom shook him off and walked over to the coat hanger, got his robes back on.

 

“I need to talk to Severus,” he said, sounding mechanic and brittle.

 

“Don’t go,” Harry croaked out, but Tom was already gone.

 

They came back together, two hours later. Harry knew without having to look for the signs that they had fucked; it was obvious in the relaxed set of Tom’s shoulders, in the little smile at the corner of Severus’s mouth. They had yet to talk about Harry’s dick and he felt chilly, even sicker than he had before.

 

Severus’s smile dropped away when he had gotten a good look at Harry, after a few diagnostic spells.

 

“What have they been giving you?” Severus asked, but Harry couldn’t remember. A nurse had been in early in the morning, but Harry couldn’t remember what he had done, and Severus’s lips thinned hearing it.

 

“And no one was here since then?” Tom asked, already ready to march out. But Severus kept him back with a quiet Tom and Tom came back after a moment.

 

“I want to go home,” Harry said. “Please. Tom, please.”

 

“Harry,” Severus warned but Harry knew how to press a button or two; Tom was crossing over to him, and then lifting him up until Harry was sitting up on his bed and Tom stood in the v of his legs, arms wrapped around him.

 

Tom turned his face into Harry’s hair, breathed him in. “You smell different,” he said, and Harry jerked in his hold. Severus came closer and sighed and put a hand on Harry’s neck, on top of Tom’s.

 

“Not bad,” Tom whispered, “just different. I can’t take you home, you know that. You worry me so much, Harry. Can’t you just get better and spare me the pain?”

 

Severus cuffed Harry’s neck very gently.

 

“I’ll stay with you,” he said, “I took emergency leave. I’ll pamper you a bit and we have you out before the next full moon.”


“It’s not even twelve days away,” Harry said. He felt sick just thinking of it.

 

“We’ll protect you,” Tom said against his temple and kept holding him.

 

--

 

A week later, it turned out that Harry couldn’t just leave; instead he had to turn himself in at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, due to current legislation, a very passionless nurse told him. “For code of conduct therapy,” she added. A nerve in Tom’s jaw ticked. Severus was completely motionless. Harry, already sweaty from having to walk from his room to the nurses’ office, felt sick.

 

“Code of conduct therapy?” he asked. The nurse nodded. “So you don’t become a public menace once the wolf hormones overtake your human ones. We handed in Mr. Potter’s new status yesterday and they contacted us this morning. It only takes a day to complete.”

 

“And that’s mandatory?” Tom asked, side-stepping Harry, but pressing their shoulders together. His voice was polite enough, but the nurse appeared to have good common sense and took a step back.

 

“Yes, it’s regulation,” she said, “you also must be able to provide a secure place for him to shift. We offer special shifting rooms at a discounted rate for –“

 

“I’ve seen those rooms,” Tom said. His voice was of a very unnatural stillness and the nurse nervously looked down the hallway before looking back at Tom. “And that – therapy. What will it do what to him exactly?”

 

“Well, they will bind his magic and he has to be taught the code and sign it,” the nurse said, “look, it’s all written in the legislation under the current beast law. You can easily look it up. I must be going.”

 

“Bind his magic,” Tom mused, as if he hadn’t heard her last remarks at all, “this means breaking his wand, doesn’t it? And preventing the use of his magic by binding it to the magic of someone else. A husband per chance?”

“It’s a ministry official,” the nurse said and gave up the effort to be nice, “we couldn’t allow a family member to do it. Wait another three or four shifts to see what becomes of him and I promise you, you’ll be happy that you couldn’t bind him to yourself.”

 

“Don’t insult my husband,” Tom whispered. His eyes gleamed; the nurse shifted on her feet.

 

“This is hard to accept,” she said angrily, “but he is not to walk free harming little children, Mr. Riddle. He’s going to turn into a dangerous animal; he’s going to –“

 

“Stupefy,” Tom hissed. He didn’t draw a wand; his fists were balled. The nurse fell with a clack against the wall before sinking down; Tom heaved in a breath.

 

“We really can’t attack nurses, Tom,” Severus said from behind them.

 

“Shut up,” Tom hissed. He fought for control; Harry could feel his power and the magic around them, felt it crackling over his skin while Tom reigned it back in. In moments like these, he understood why so many people feared his husband. But he didn’t, and he stepped closer after a moment, entwined his fingers with Tom’s.

 

“I’ll get her up on her feet,” Severus said, “you go back to Harry’s room. He’s due to be released tomorrow. You can have until then to put the fear of Tom Riddle in every member of the Magical Creatures Department. Now be a good boy and take Harry.”

 

“They won’t take him from me,” Tom vowed. Harry tugged at his hand; Severus gave him a little push and it was enough to get Tom moving.

 

“Should feel lucky I only used stupefy,” Tom muttered.

 

--

 

The next morning, Tom signed Harry’s discharge papers. Then they sat down in a tiny office of Harry’s ward and waited for a Ministry official to arrive. Judging by Tom’s mood, Harry wasn’t too worried; he knew that if it was really bad, Tom wouldn’t be this relaxed. It was a front of course, but Harry had made a point of studying Tom and thought his observation skills rather good. He knew that Tom wasn’t seriously worried about someone taking away Harry’s magic; he would never allow it to happen and Harry knew that he had the power to prevent it.

 

It was three short days until the full moon and the thought of spending another shift at St. Mungo’s was killing Harry. The bites had closed but the healers had been pessimistic about them remaining closed, but Harry couldn’t do it anymore; sometime in the last ten days it had become unbearable. Severus had stopped arguing against Harry going home, even though Harry ran another slight fever. All the pampering in the world; and god, Severus had truly tried; hadn’t been enough to finally get back control over Harry’s body.

 

 When the door opened, Charlie Weasley walked in and Harry breathed out a sigh of relief. Charlie had been one of few people who had never bothered with Harry marrying Tom. They had stayed in touch even if their contact wasn’t that close.

 

“Sorry, Harry,” Charlie said, “but you look like shit. Sure that you want to leave St. Mungo’s and not getting signed in?”

 

“He’ll do better somewhere where he isn’t constantly supervised and talked about,” Tom said. He sounded very professional and Charlie nodded.

 

“Didn’t know you switched to Ministry work,” Harry said. He sounded hoarse; he sounded hoarse all the time now and no one could explain to him why.

 

“Yeah,” Charlie said and laughed, “still recovering from a pretty bad burn. This is a fixed-term contract. Must admit I can’t wait to get back in the field.”

 

Harry nodded. He didn’t want to talk about the field; there was no going back for him ever and he swallowed, finding it hard to breathe all of a sudden.

 

“Has anyone from one of the werewolf units talked to you yet?” Charlie asked. He didn’t sound kind, but Harry knew he was, and he swallowed again against the lump in his throat.

 

“No,” Harry said, “I talked to some advisor of St. Mungo’s. It wasn’t very fruitful.”

 

“You’ve grown up with Remus,” Charlie said, and Harry didn’t correct him. He had lived with Remus after he’d turned 13; he grew up in a cupboard, but he very much preferred not to mention that.

 

“You know how hard it’s going to be. There’s no point in pretending otherwise. I would prevent talking to any of the units. Even Werewolf Support Services. They are under obligation to share the names of any wolves they support with the Registry. And sometimes, capture units too.”

 

Harry nodded. He had abstractly always known that these units existed. There were one or two cases when he had to work with them. But the thought of them; it made him sick. He swallowed again, and Tom’s hand settled on his knee.

 

Charlie’s eyes tracked the movement, before smiling at Harry.

 

“Here’s what Mr. Weasley is going to do,” Tom said softly. “He will ask you whether or not you have been bitten and turned. You will refuse to answer. He will file an order to follow up. And I’ll take it from there. They can’t force you to cooperate unless you are willing. You’re not willing.”

 

“I know,” Harry said. He was an Auror; he had read up after the first shock had worn off. He knew his rights, but he also knew how little they meant if you were a werewolf.

 

After what Tom had said had been done, Charlie shook Harry’s hand, nodded at Tom and turned to leave. “Sorry about Ron, by the way,” he said to Harry when he was almost out of the door, “he’s being very difficult.”

 

“No worries,” Harry said. He tried to be sneaky about it, but he had to lean against Tom’s arm for support now; this morning he had already felt the first pull of the moon and he had suddenly, horribly realized that this up and down, the flow and ebb of the pull would continue and since then his health had been deteriorating all morning.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Weasley,” Tom calmly said and then took Harry around the waist to reel him in against his taller body once Charlie had left. He pressed his lips against Harry’s hot forehead for a moment.

 

“Let’s get you home,” he said. His voice was still calm, but underneath it frosty and Harry shivered.

 

--

 

On the morning of the full moon, Harry woke up. Then he turned around in bed to burrow against Severus’s back, who was in bed next to him. Then he cried for almost an hour.

 

He had been crying a lot since the attack; out of pain, out of anger, out of helplessness. The worst had been during his initial first month at St. Mungo’s when he had awoken in the middle of the night and Tom and Severus had been up at the cafeteria to get a coffee.

 

This time, it wasn’t sobs that shook his full body. It was a constant and unstoppable flow of tears that Harry couldn’t control even after Severus had turned around to allow Harry to rest on his chest; even after Tom had come up and snuggled up to Harry’s other side, effectively cushioning him in between their two bodies. Harry just shook and shook and gasped, until Severus asked Tom to get a calming potion for him.

 

Harry knew that Severus was working on new potions for him and the calming potion was one of them, especially designed to take into account Harry’s altered DNA. It took effect pretty quickly and Tom wiped Harry’s wet face before taking him to share a shower. Showering with a bite wound this big wasn’t easy even with the assistance of magic and Harry hadn’t cooperated much, let Tom apply the protective charms, allowed Tom to wash his hair. Tom had even gone so far as to dress him, had dressed him in a warm jumper and loose sweatpants.

 

They had breakfast mostly in silence. Then Severus asked Harry to take a walk and Harry had followed meekly. He felt disconnected; it was a feeling he had felt almost constantly in the last month. He knew that it worried Severus and Tom but it wasn’t like he could switch it off just because of that.

 

Severus apparated them to some place in Scotland he claimed had nice views. It was November by now and Harry shivered against the cold.

 

“You’re a wizard, Harry,” Severus reminded him gently but then cast the warming charm for Harry himself, linking their fingers once they were truly alone.

 

They walked mostly in silence, not for long. Harry’s body couldn’t deal with much exercise yet; but the walk calmed some of his nerves. Tom had cooked them a meal and they ate after they came back. How well he cooked was one of Tom’s best kept secrets and one Harry had been happy to discover but today nothing tasted right and Harry played more with his food than eating it.

 

“I’m going to lay down again,” Harry said after lunch. Tom followed him up to their bedroom after a moment. “You don’t have to,” Harry said, low and aching but Tom ignored him, took off his shirt and settled Harry against his chest. “I don’t want you all alone today,” he said quietly, and they spent the next hours cuddling and making out a little.

 

It was a Saturday and Harry didn’t want to imagine what it would be like on a Wednesday when he had to do all of it by himself.

 

It was Severus who showed Harry his cage. They had built and fortified it themselves and Harry spent some time admiring the spell work. If he ignored what it was for, he could easily admit that it was a nice piece of work.

 

Still, when he sat down in it, an hour before the moon rose, all he could do was cry again. They couldn’t touch him like this but being tied up had done a lot of damage to his body the last time; Tom and Severus both hoped that Harry would be able to deal with the shift better if he could walk around.

 

It was just as horrible as the first time. Maybe it was worse because Harry would have to do it forever and he howled and cried and shrieked with that thought until the moon took his sense away.

 

He was lying face down on the floor of his cage when he came back. He was underneath a blanket but figured out pretty easily that they already had him on potions and under more than one charm to keep him warm and steady. Again, he could tell that his body was not thanking him its activities of the past couple of hours, but again a barrier was between him and the most immediate pain.

 

A hand settled on his head. Harry turned a bit to look at Tom, only now realizing that the floor wasn’t hard bot soft and comfortable. Tom didn’t say a word, just kept petting his hair. When Severus came down and folded away the bloody binds over Harry’s wound, Harry turned his head away and concentrated on nothing but Tom’s hand on him.

 

 

Chapter Text

On Monday, both Severus and Tom hovered. Harry spent all of Sunday drunk on various potions and asleep most of the day, only waking to Tom spooning food into him and Severus taking his blood and feeding him another potion. Two days after the full moon, he still felt too big for his body, slightly unraveled. Severus was the first to leave, pressed a kiss against the top of Harry’s head. “Be good,” he said. Tom climbed back in bed with him and kissed him, already in his expensive suit and his expensive trousers and with his hair styled in that obnoxious way that Harry usually found presumptuous but also secretly very hot.

 

“I’m just a floo call away,” Tom said after thoroughly kissing Harry and Harry nodded, curled himself a little closer. Tom stroked through his hair for a long moment, studied him, but Harry kept his eyes closed, didn’t want to talk. It was pretty early, and he was cozy and sleepy, almost pain-free due to whatever potion Severus had designed for him.

 

“Promise to call me if something is up,” Tom said quietly, and Harry nodded and stayed still for ten minutes after Tom had left. Then he stretched, and groaned when that hurt his wound, before getting up.

 

His dick had been a bit more sensitive in the last few days; the feeling there wasn’t fully back but there was something and Harry touched himself thoughtfully under the shower. No real arousal, but the memory of his skin ripping open to transform himself into a monster was still too clear. He tried to think of Tom stretching him open, of Tom riding him, but it was to no avail and Harry gave up quickly, toweled himself dry and went downstairs to call on Remus.

 

He had made the decision to try and speak with just Remus down in the cellar while Severus had coached him to sit up. Tom had been holding him and they had arranged Harry until Tom could pick him up and carry him upstairs. Harry’s body had been so lose in Tom’s arms from the shift and the potions that his head had snapped back like that of a doll; Severus had carefully propped him back up and had settled his head against Tom’s shoulder and Harry knew, knew that he needed to go and talk to Remus; he needed to know if it would be like this always or if it would get better and what the hell he should do if it didn’t.

 

He had no answers, but he couldn’t go on without them. Still, his hands sweated when he sat down at his kitchen table. He hadn’t talked to Remus, really talked in almost two years and their last meeting had been nothing but accusations and hurt words and rage on both sides. It hadn’t been Remus against Harry; it had been Harry against Sirius, but Remus always took Sirius’s side, no matter how much it hurt Harry. Harry didn’t want to change not talking to Sirius; didn’t want that at all. He was done with Sirius. Too much had happened and the idea of looking his godfather in the eye and bearing his heart was unbearable for Harry; if anything, he needed to see only Remus, not both of them.

 

He took the pen in his hand, hesitated again. Severus wouldn’t see an issue with Harry contacting Remus and Sirius, but Tom would. Tom was a whole lot more judgmental than Severus could ever be, but Harry had told him more, had explained what had happened between them, the things he had seen between Remus and Sirius. Tom had been quick to judge in Harry’s favor where Severus was more cautious, but Harry knew that trying to integrate Tom and Severus in the same meeting would be impossible; Sirius would insult them at any given moment, Remus would be uncomfortable, and Tom would be the biggest ass in the world. When they had still somewhat tried, Sirius had once asked Tom why Harry had to develop the biggest Daddy kink in the universe to put up with Tom and that had been the end of it.

 

He ended up writing an owl message to Remus, not up for calling. Remus answered almost straight away, said that he was willing to come over any time and Harry asked to see him as soon as possible.

 

He regretted it the second he opened his front door. Remus was smiling at him, hungrily looking him up and down but Harry’s gaze was immediately drawn to Remus’s face, to the black eye. His fingers started to shake; and then his whole body and then he said “no” and Remus said “Harry please” and Harry walked backwards away from him, not looking at him any longer, and Remus followed him, closing the door behind him.

 

Sirius had never touched him, but he hadn’t needed to; Harry had heard the sounds, the sound of a fist hitting a face, the sound of Remus’s broken voice begging for it to stop. “Please, I’ll never do it again,” he used to say, and Harry had gripped his knees as hard as he could, had rolled himself into the tightest spot he could find. To this day he dreamt more often of Remus’s voice and those dark, long hours until sunrise than he ever dreamt of the Dursleys.

 

“I offered so many times to take you away from him,” Harry said. He still couldn’t look at Remus, because then he would see the eye and he couldn’t. “He could never hurt you again. You know that Tom could keep you safe.”

 

“It’s not like that Harry,” Remus said, “he’s a difficult man. I could never – Harry, it would kill him to be all alone. I know you can’t understand it, but can’t you accept it? I accepted you and Tom. Hell, I even accepted you and Severus, even though I understand none of it at all.”

 

Harry swallowed. The old grief rose again, the one that felt like a tornado that twisted his inside to shreds.

 

“Please just leave,” he said, sounding smaller than he had hoped.


“Please don’t make me,” Remus begged, “I wanted to talk to you since I read the news. I know it’s horrible; just let me help.”

 

“Go away,” Harry said and when Remus reached out towards him, he apparated without even thinking about it.

 

He came out in front of the Ministry, vastly underdressed for the cold weather. He noted with relief that his wand was on him; he hadn’t been sure about that. Harry was about to step inside with a vague plan of finding Tom when a hand clapped down on his shoulder. He startled.

 

“Potter,” Robards sighed behind him, “do not tell me you were stupid enough to stroll front entrance into a place where werewolf capture units can’t wait to see you.”

 

“Oh,” Harry said and scratched his head and tried not to feel unbearably stupid. It wasn’t easy.

 

Robards scrutinized him for a moment, before dipping his head in a clear come on gesture. “I think you need some hot tea inside you,” he said and steered Harry towards the nearest pub. It was frequented extensively by Ministry staff after hours, but it was early morning and the pub was only occupied by a bored bartender and two old ladies drinking pints.

 

“Thanks, Gawain,” Harry said after they had been served. “I didn’t think.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” Robards said, “how are you holding up?”

 

Harry shrugged, unsure how deeply he wanted to get into the topic with his former boss.

 

“Not so good, to be honest,” he admitted after a moment.

 

“You don’t look so good either,” Robards said after a moment, “and I don’t want to insult your sense of fashion, but don’t you think a coat would be good in this weather?”

 

“Apparated in something of a hurry,” Harry admitted and tried to smile, but it was watery, and he quickly stopped the effort.

 

Robards didn’t say anything for a moment, steered his tea instead.

 

“The regulation is bullshit,” he said after a moment, “I could easily integrate you into the force. We could find a way that works. Maybe your husband can use his conceivable influence to get it revoked.”

 

“I doubt it,” Harry admitted. Even Tom wasn’t capable of fighting prejudices that were centuries old.

 

“I’m sorry about the radio silence,” Robards said, “I don’t have a problem with werewolves I personally know. I have a problem with Greyback, but who on the force doesn’t?”

 

“He hasn’t tried to recruit me yet,” Harry said. He doubted that he was even on Greyback’s list for the secret little society he wanted to build; Harry was too much of a public figure for it.

 

“Your case is cold, by the way,” Robards said, “absolutely fucking cold. You would think two werewolf aggressors would leave some more evidence. Let me – there.”

 

Robards drew a complicated net of spells around them; they were all defensive, meant to counteract anyone listening in. He was something of a specialist in them; Harry had only learnt half of what Robards could do. His skills were much more in dueling.

 

“I can’t legally discuss this with you,” Robards said, “but maybe you have some insight. A crime scene like that – you tell me if I trigger you; a crime scene like that should have left evidence. Traces of magic. Traces of their own blood; we could tell how you fought back. Traces of hair, traces of something; but all we could find were traces of you.”

 

“I didn’t know,” Harry said, feeling slightly queasy.

 

“It’s an active case,” Robards said, “with high media attention. We kept the circle as small as possible.”

 

“I kept thinking that it wasn’t premeditated,” Harry said, “I thought it was stupid chance; me stumbling onto something during a routine inspection that I shouldn’t have stumbled upon.”

 

“I have reason to believe that you were set up,” Robards said. He looked very sincere and very serious and he leaned forward to get a better look at Harry, “we have had a call from that location before, a month before you answered it. Back then, you didn’t go, but only last minute, because you sent someone else. They couldn’t find anything unusual. Someone wanted you there, you specifically, someone with some insight knowledge of how the days looked for the force. The first call also came in during a quiet night. I have reason to think that someone in the Department is either selling information or is directly involved. I just can’t understand why.”

 

“Career issues,” Harry said. It was like falling back into an old rhythm he had yet to forget and for a moment it didn’t feel like discussing his own case at all.

 

“But you were already promoted almost a year ago,” Robards said, “without anyone else being seconded after you. It was clear you would get the job or that Kingsley would remain a while longer. Nobody else had the experience or the approval of the Heads.”

 

“Still a coveted job,” Harry said, “one you can easily use to make a mark for yourself. Once you’re Department Head you’re going into another direction. Head Auror still leads all the investigative work, is part of the action. And usually doesn’t stay on the position very long. We know they pay-off: work in the most dangerous job of the Ministry for a year or two and get some very well paid, bureaucratic paper-pushing thing afterwards. Most people want that opt-out, because of their families or because they get tired of investigative work. I didn’t. Maybe someone got impatient.”

 

“It’s not implausible, but still, no suspects,” Robards said, “unless you didn’t majorly piss off someone higher up?”


“Not that I can think of,” Harry said. They were silent for a moment.

 

“Your husband does a lot of sensitive work right now,” Robards said.

 

“Gawain,” Harry sighed, “I told you before I don’t know –“

 

“Listen me out,” Robards said, “I know nothing for sure. But I’ve heard rumors. Rumors that say he’s working on something that will kill magic in any muggle-born child. It’s been – rather offensive to some people.”

 

“That’s ridiculous,” Harry said, “that can’t be true. It’s a lie that he has an issue with muggle-borns. Hell, he’s more muggle-born than some real muggle-borns.”

 

“Not saying it’s true,” Robards said, “just saying that the rumors have been there. People go to war over these issues; they have in the past. People have died for purity of the blood.”

 

“You really don’t have to remind me,” Harry said. His parents had been killed in the Halloween massacre; Harry had only made it out alive because his mom’s body had protected him from the curses.

 

“Maybe your husband needs a reminder,” Robards said and Harry felt stifled all of a sudden. He knew that Tom had been there; he knew in what capacity. But he also knew that it hadn’t been planned and that Tom had not fired a killing curse, had tried to stop it before it became madness.

 

Still, they never talked about it.

 

“What are you saying, Gawain?” Harry asked. Robards rubbed the bridge of his nose; always a sign that he had something unpleasant to tell you.

 

“A werewolf isn’t considered pure,” he said bluntly, “and there are endless ways to use you’re your new status. By Riddle and by people opposing him. What I’m saying is this: whoever has done it, has done it too well to not be considered a pro. And whoever has done it to you, must have considered the impact on Riddle. He’s too prolific, too good. There’s no one who could take him in a duel; why challenge the most dangerous man of our world for nothing?”

 

Harry ran those words through his head again; it had helped him to memorize things before, find hidden meanings he would otherwise not catch.

 

“Tom doesn’t use me for political gain,” Harry said. He tried to make his voice strong and steady but couldn’t quite manage it. There was rage inside him and some horrible anger and a lot of anxiety and the slightly panicked feeling of Robards being not correct but also not widely out of mark with the things he didn’t say.

 

A loud bang was heard and one of the spells fizzled and cracked. Tom was standing a foot away from them, looking murderous and Robards calmly cancelled the spells and leaned back, disinterested look perfected on his face. He had always been cool in hot situations and Harry had admired him for it.

 

“Why,” Tom said very quietly; it was his most dangerous voice, “are you out without a coat when you’re supposed to be in bed?”

 

“Wanted to come see you and forgot that I can’t simply enter the Ministry,” Harry said, “Gawain caught me before I could try.”

 

Robards smiled very blandly and Tom’s focus shifted. He looked the Head of the Auror Department up and down; officially they held the same high position in the Ministry, were on the same reporting rank, but Harry knew that Tom had been in a position of his own for many years.

 

“What a lucky coincidence,” Tom said, “but I’m afraid I must take you with me now. Say goodbye, Harry.”

 

Harry blushed; it was punishment but openly disobeying Tom when he was in these moods would only make it worse. Robards had seen it before; it usually came out after Harry had been injured. Tom would apologize in a few hours or days and promise to be better about it and Harry would niggle him and get a nice present or a particular nice shag out of it.

 

“Don’t be so accommodating towards his possessive streak,” Severus had said just once at the beginning of their relationship and Harry should have probably taken it more to heart.

 

“Goodbye,” Harry said placidly. Robards nodded and Tom’s hand was on his elbow immediately, apparating them the second they had stepped into the storeroom to do so.

 

Back at their home, Remus was still waiting, sitting with his head in his hands. He looked up hopefully and Harry saw the eye again and wanted to barf and Tom visibly fought down his anger.

 

“I didn’t know we expected guests,” he said in his blandest voice and took his hand from Harry’s elbow, stroked down his back instead.

 

“Harry,” Remus said. He was shaking and there was a wild look in his face and he got up to walk over to them, but Harry only saw his eye and shook his head no and backed up, backed away from Remus.

 

Tom stepped in between them. “Stop,” he said to Remus, voice cold, before turning around and gripping Harry’s arms.

 

“No apparating again,” he said very low. Harry didn’t point out that Remus would hear them; he hadn’t told Tom yet about the improved hearing of a wolf.

 

“I can get rid of him for you,” Tom continued, “but I think you asked him here. It’s the eye, isn’t it?”

 

Harry nodded, feeling nauseous all of a sudden. Tom shook him just a little, breaking him out of his thoughts effectively.

 

“Get a grip,” he said softly, “go upstairs and take a moment. He’ll be here when you come back but the black eye will be gone. Then you can talk. I would love for you to talk with him.”

 

Harry nodded again, not up for words. Tom stepped closer quickly and gave him a very businesslike kiss and Harry turned around and walked up the stairs and sat staring at nothing on their bed for ten minutes before he went back down.

 

As promised, Remus’s eye was healed. He and Tom were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea, not talking with each other.

 

“Sorry,” Harry said to Remus and sat down and watched Tom pour him some tea as well before standing up.

 

“He won’t come?” he asked Remus and Remus nodded and Tom put a hand on Harry’s head, trying to pat down Harry’s curls.

 

“I must be going,” he said, “if you want to visit, use the floo; it’ll admit you.”

 

“Yeah,” Harry said and didn’t move until the floo had taken Tom away. Then he took a sip of his tea to stall for more time.

 

“How bad are the shifts?” Remus asked after a moment.

 

Harry huffed, started fiddling with his shirt sleeves. “Don’t exactly have a frame of reference,” he said.

 

“How badly do they hurt on a scale from one to ten?” Remus said, and Harry said a petulant “a hundred” and Remus blinked and then rubbed the bridge of his nose. He was likely to have a headache and it hurt Harry.

 

“Are you fighting the shift?” Remus asked.

 

“How could I not?” Harry said, more hotly now.

 

“It would be better if you found a way,” Remus said quietly, “but I don’t know why I asked. I couldn’t find one for years. And I couldn’t stop for real until wolfsbane.”

 

“Is it normal to feel this fucking bad after it?” Harry asked, and Remus laughed, a sad, dry thing of a laugh.

 

“Harry,” he said, and his voice was the tender voice of Harry’s bedtime stories at 13 when Remus had tried to give him back some of the childhood Harry had been robbed of. Harry’s eyes burned; once again he wanted to ask him why he hadn’t been there earlier, why he hadn’t taken in Harry as a baby or a toddler. He wanted to know why it couldn’t have been just the two of them without Sirius’s unpredictable moods and manic episodes, but he didn’t, swallowed down the words like he had done hundreds of times.

 

Sirius had become unstable after witnessing the massacre. Harry knew that it must have been traumatizing and he tried not to stigmatize as an Auror but with Sirius it was personal and Harry just couldn’t detach himself the way he should.

 

“Harry, if there’s one thing I never wanted for you, it’s that,” Remus said, “but I want to be honest with you. Do you think I can be honest with you?”

 

“Yeah,” Harry said and tried to steel himself and Remus leaned closer but didn’t touch him.


“It will never stop hurting,” he said, “it will always be the worst. Sometimes the aftermath will be easier, but most times it won’t. I can tell you pushed yourself past your endurance today and I know I did. It usually takes anything from two to four days to feel alright afterwards. But it will never be alright; it will always be a total violation of your mind and your body.”

Harry closed his eyes and wished that Tom was still there.

 

“But wolfsbane makes it so much better,” Remus said, “so much so. And I am sure Severus is looking into a more permanent solution now that it’s you he could save with it. You must just make it through the first twelve months.”

 

“How?” Harry asked, and his voice broke on the word but when Remus tried to take him into his arms, he shoved him away.

 

“You’re not alone in it,” Remus said, “you have a family. You have your friends. You have –“

 

“Don’t give me platitudes,” Harry said harshly, and Remus leaned back as if slapped.

 

“I don’t know what to say, Harry,” he said, and Harry breathed in and out, in and out.

 

“I was hoping one gets used to it,” he said, and Remus face twitched, and it was answer enough.

 

“I need to lay down,” Harry said. The wound had started to pulse in pain in time with his heartbeat and he felt clammy and hot. Fever, he realized; Tom would kill him.

 

“Do you want me to call anyone?” Remus asked, but Harry shook his head, already up and on his way upstairs. He barely made it; Remus caught him just before he fell back down and then dragged him over, got him out of his trousers and his shirt. Harry hadn’t wanted him to see the injury, but he couldn’t care, felt so sick, he thought he would die with it.

 

“Bedtime story?” Harry asked, and Remus hummed.

 

“In a minute,” he said, “I want to clean this. You must have supplies, don’t you?”

 

“Bathroom,” Harry mumbled, and Remus came back a moment later, quietly settled down next to Harry. The first touch to the wound stung like fire and Harry whimpered and Remus hushed him and started telling him one of Harry’s old stories.

 

“I just want you safe,” Harry said just before falling asleep, but he didn’t hear Remus’s answer.

 

--

 

He woke from Tom saying his name, again and again.

 

“You scared me,” Tom said accusingly when Harry managed to blink his eyes open and then took off, leaving Harry alone and confused.

 

“He’s awake,” Tom’s voice shouted from outside the hallway and Harry heard steps coming up a moment later.

 

Severus looked very grave and very unhappy when he entered.

 

“What did you do to yourself?” he asked, and Harry started rambling, told him a confused story of Robards and Remus and muggle-borns and Severus listened to him and then went and gave Harry a calming draught and hugged him while Harry tried to fight off the potion but couldn’t and fell back asleep.

 

“Don’t want to sleep,” he whined just before he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer and Severus sighed and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like pain-in-the-ass.

 

When Harry woke after that it was Tuesday, the sun was up high, and a snitch was insistently flying against his face.

 

Snitch messages were some of Tom’s favorite little plays, and Harry sighed, grabbed the snitch quickly and said “Hogwarts” to it.

 

“Harry,” the snitch said in Tom’s voice, “I have food for you downstairs under a heating charm. There are some potions there too that I want you to drink. Do not leave the house today. If you do, I will forget myself.”

 

He was silent for a moment and Harry studied the snitch, the tiny wings that beat against his fingers.

 

“I want to know what Robards said to you,” Tom continued, “I’ll be home at six today and we have an hour to talk and then I’ll need to go to a charity event. I expect you to be able to talk at that time.”

 

He was silent again, clearly struggling to say something and it was so unlike Tom that it sharpened Harry’s attention quickly.

 

“I know he talked to you about the magic of muggle-borns,” Tom said, very low now, “and I am indeed working on…something. I have doubts you will fully support it, but I believe it to be necessary. But not necessary enough to place you in danger.”

 

Harry blinked. From the very start, Tom had always made sure that Harry knew that Tom’s career was important to him; that he believed to do something for what he sometimes called “the greater good” and that he expected neither Harry nor Severus to interfere in it.

 

“We’ll discuss it later,” Tom was saying now, and the snitch stopped fluttering his wings and after a moment of thinking, Harry went down and floo-called Severus.

 

“I have eight minutes before I have to leave for class,” Severus said warningly, and Harry smiled at him in his teacher’s robes.

 

“Tom sent me a weird snitch,” Harry said, and Severus sighed and come closer to kneel in front of the floo, too.

 

“You asked him yesterday if he wanted to collaborate with Greyback and feed you to the wolves,” Severus said, “you were babbling. But Tom looked as if you had slapped him in the face.”

 

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Harry said; he couldn’t even remember.

 

“Didn’t you?” Severus said very quietly, and Harry shook his head no.

 

“I think Tom didn’t yet entertain the thought that you were targeted instead of him,” Severus said, “or maybe because of him. He’s used to not being targeted at all because people fear him. The thought has – shaken him.”

 

“He’s always involved in some kind of manipulation,” Harry said, “and getting manipulated in turn. Of course he gets targeted, but-“

 

“Not like this, Harry,” Severus interrupted, “not with violence. Nobody can take him in a duel and people know it. He’s doing his fair share of political manipulation; of course, he does. But it’s limited to the political arena. If you were attacked because of something he did, it would be new, and you know how he is with new things.”

 

“But-“ Harry started to say, but Severus shook his head, got back up.

 

“I have to go,” he said, “you get some rest. I would very much prefer to not see you in a fever again.”

 

Harry nodded and kept sitting in front of the cold floo for quite a while longer.

 

--

 

Tom wasn’t home at six; he rushed through the floo shortly before seven in a bad temper.

 

Harry was nibbling on the food Tom had left for him; he had taken pieces of it all day, but his appetite had been low.

 

Tom’s face darkened even more when he saw that.

 

“Wasn’t hungry,” Harry said, “I’m sorry for the wasted effort.”

 

Tom visibly softened, and stepped closer, brushing his lips against Harry’s cheek.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, and Harry gripped his wrist to get him to sit for a moment.

 

“I need to be going,” Tom said, but he sat down and drew Harry closer, kissing him deeply and long.

 

“Bad day?” Harry asked, and Tom sighed and urged Harry over until Harry sat down on his lap and they could make out a bit more.

 

“You’ve got no idea,” Tom said, “but we need to discuss it another time. I’ll be home late. Are you good to be by yourself?”

 

“Of course,” Harry said, slightly mystified and Tom kissed him again, as if he couldn’t help himself.

 

“Remus said to keep a close eye on you up until four days after the shift,” he said quietly, and Harry shook his head.

 

“I’m good,” he said again, and Tom studied him for a moment before sighing.

 

“If there was something I could do to help you,” he said, “I would do it. Anything.”

 

“Anything?” Harry asked and pressed himself closer. His dick gave a tiny twitch and he rubbed himself against Tom’s lap, watched Tom’s pupils dilate.

 

“You didn’t tell me about that development,” Tom said, slightly accusingly and touched Harry, followed the curve of his dick through Harry’s sweats. Harry moaned; it felt weird but in a good way and his dick hardened a bit more.

 

“Baby,” Tom said, voice thick and Harry whimpered; Tom leaned up to kiss him deeply. The floo was ringing to signal an incoming call and Tom stood up, carrying Harry towards their living room. The noise tapered off and the door shut, and Harry moaned; Tom’s silent, wandless magic always got him running. Tom sat him down on their couch, stripped him quickly and studied him, eyes hungry and intense before kneeling in front of Harry and leaning forward to flick his tongue against the sensitive underside of Harry’s cock and Harry moaned again; the feeling was somewhat muted and different, yet more intense than it had been before. Maybe it had been too long, and Tom took him fully into his mouth, gently rolling his balls with his hands. Harry was fully hard now and he clenched his hands in Tom’s hair, needed to hold on. Tom let him and took him deeper, tongue and throat working a rhythm that had Harry going within seconds. He was so hard, spine tingling, toes curling, and Tom grabbed him at the legs and pulled him down until his fingers had access to Harry’s hole. He circled Harry with his index finger before slicking his hand and pressing in. Harry cried out; he was so tight, tighter than he had ever been since getting together with Tom.  Tom rubbed at his walls for a moment, added a second finger before seeking out Harry’s spot, pleasuring it and Harry whispered his name in warning, but Tom sucked him in even harder, fingers pressing up and then Harry was coming and –

 

It felt good, so good, for all of five seconds and then the tightening of his muscles reached his belly and the wound was a big blob of agony; in between there was still pleasure and Harry keened, overwhelmed and panicked, ridding an edge that he knew Severus loved but Harry himself didn’t appreciate at all. He couldn’t deal with pain during sex or being hurt or hurting someone he loved on purpose and Tom seemed to understand what was happening, because he took his hand and mouth away, not milking Harry like he usually did, instead pressing down on Harry uninjured hipbone to hold him still, watching the wound with worried eyes.

 

“Shh,” he said when Harry gasped for breath and leaned forward, and Tom engulfed him quickly, put a hand on his neck to reel Harry in, holding him close against his body.

 

“I should have thought of that,” Tom said, and he sounded very angry at himself and it was rare enough to rouse Harry a little, but only just; a second later he sagged back against Tom. He felt wrung out and beyond exhausted and he closed his eyes in desperation, could already taste the tears. He didn’t want to cry, not again; he’d cried so much and had still not run out. He didn’t want Tom to have to deal with Harry’s tears again; he wanted them to fuck; he wanted –

 

“Let go,” Tom said, “I know you’re hurting. Just cry yourself out. I’ve got you.”

 

“Fuck,” Harry said and shook in Tom’s arms; the floo was ringing again and again, but Tom made no move at all, just held Harry. Harry pressed his face against his hair and gasped and shook for ten minutes before calming back down, but Tom kept holding him, kept stroking his nape.

 

“I need to go, Harry,” he said. Over his shoulder Harry could see the time and knew that the ringing was Malfoy, trying desperately to get a hold of Tom.

 

“Yeah,” Harry said; he felt listless and sad and Tom kissed him behind the ear, a soft, dry press of lips meant to calm and reassure.

 

“Do you want Severus?” he asked quietly, and Harry shrugged; Severus wasn’t particularly keen to be disturbed during a weekday while at Hogwarts.

 

“I’ll be fine,” Harry said and tried to make it sound more convincing than he felt. Tom sighed and leaned back, cupping Harry’s face. They looked at each other for a long moment; Harry knew that looking at Tom was never without consequences for Tom saw all kinds of things, but it had never stopped Harry from looking before.

 

“Can you show me what Robards told you?” Tom asked quietly, and Harry replayed the memory before his inner eye, watched Tom watching him.

 

“Hm,” he said and got up to get a flask, before kneeling in front of Harry. “Think about it again,” he said and tapped his wand against Harry’s temple and Harry did, watched the memory being extracted. “Thank you,” Tom said and got up before grabbing Harry’s ankles and positioning him fully on the sofa. He took up the old throw-away and put it over Harry, gently scratching his scalp for a moment, before leaving their living room.

 

He came back five minutes later in black tie and Harry watched him approach; Tom was hot like this and Harry could appreciate the way he looked. 

 

“I can call Remus for you,” Tom said and rested his hand on top of Harry’s head. He must have seen Harry’s yearning. What usually lay muted, had gotten almost unbearable after Remus’s bedtime story and Harry had been thinking of him more and more in the past day.

 

“It’s okay,” Harry said, and Tom leaned down to kiss him.

 

“Efferton’s residence, if you need me,” he said, “don’t hesitate to call. Even if it feels trivial to you. I’ll be home before one. Don’t sleep on the couch.”

 

“I won’t,” Harry said, and Tom kissed him goodbye once more.

 

Harry only woke up from Tom carrying him upstairs hours later.

 

--

 

He woke up alone once again and rolled over in bed, studied Tom’s made up side. Tom was a neat freak and Harry struggled out of the covers, checking the time. It was past eleven and Harry sighed; he slept more and more and still felt so tired all the time.

 

He tapped down towards their kitchen. Food under a heating charm; the paper ready on Harry’s place at the table. A sheet of paper with Tom’s handwriting on it; Harry picked it up.

 

“Home late today,” Tom had written, “I’ll make it up by having lunch with you at one. Floo through. Don’t be late.”

 

Harry smiled and poured himself a glass of water, picking up the Prophet. The cover stories were all about politics and Harry skimmed them before reading more in-depth of a witch that had bought a tea service that had started to be offended when not offered a place at her table.

 

It was 11:30 by the time Harry took a shower and got dressed. He felt good today, better than on the days before. He thought briefly of having a walk before lunch but decided against it; instead he walked upstairs and pushed open the door to the study.

 

It was mostly Tom’s study, but Harry used it occasionally. He could look out over the Thames, and he did so today. The weather was stormy and cold, and Harry took out an empty note pad and a pen and sat thinking.

 

It had been after 8 pm on a quiet evening. Not many emergency calls, not any open case that Harry was working on. He was on the late shift; as Head Auror, he did so quite often, mostly to present a good example.

 

Then, in short order three emergency spells from three different locations in the country. Harry sent out teams of two. His active staff was limited to six that night which was usual for a non-risk weekday. Harry could easily draw in more force from the roaster, but when a fourth emergency spell came in, he put his second in command in charge and went himself.

 

Why, he thought and tapped the pen against his lips.

 

It had sounded like nothing more than a noise disturbance. The call had come out of Eccleston, in Lancashire. A witch had reported noise out in a field behind her house and loud flashes of what she thought to be spell fire. Probably young drunkards she had reported; she hadn’t mentioned her name, but Harry hadn’t been bothered by it. People often forgot, and she had sounded old and he was confident that he would find her quickly in a village so small.

 

He had apparated. It wasn’t against regulation to go alone to follow up on a minor disturbance. He had been bored. When he had come out in Eccleston. The house the call had came from appeared to be unoccupied. All had been quiet.

 

Harry had immediately known that something was wrong. He had taken out his wand, standing still, trying to hear something. Behind him a small rustle of leaves; he had been in motion to shut a stunning spell when he had been viciously tackled from the side.

 

The following minutes had been nothing but pain. He hadn’t been able to fight them off; his wand was quickly kicked out of his hand. They didn’t mind him seeing them, had done nothing to keep their faces a secret. Harry had never seen them before. The emergency tracking spell in his uniform had activated once the bloodless became too severe; still, because Harry had sent out the immediate response teams just before leaving himself, it took seven minutes from then before two Aurors answered the call. Protocol said a minimum of four should locate in a circle around the injured Auror, but it hadn’t been possible and the two that came were barely out of the academy and too inexperienced to manage to secure the werewolves.

 

That was part of the truth, but they had also been terrified, almost motionless when they had seen the extent of Harry’s injuries, had realized that they dealt with wolves just hours before the rise of the full moon.

 

Harry’s memory cut off after they had apparated him to St. Mungo’s.

 

He needed more information about the other calls. He needed to check up on the call four weeks previous from the same location, on another full moon night. He needed to find out who had placed it and who lived in that house. The last part; that was something he could do.

 

He checked the time; another 38 minutes before he was set to see Tom.

 

He slipped on his wedding ring; he knew that Tom had put in tracking spells in there too, but it might be a good idea to be traceable, just in case. He pocketed his wand, took his invisibility cloak and put it on before apparating a fair mile from the original place of the call, a single house on a street called Tincklers Lane.

 

It was peaceful even though the weather was just as bad as it had been in London. Cultivated fields; some trees; a church in the city center. It wasn’t a particular big place, nor particular small. Harry stood still for a long time before he started to walk over to the old farm house.

 

It was indeed unoccupied; stood further away from the other scattered houses. Some of the windows on the backside were shattered and Harry entered it quietly. No visible vandalization; to traces of magic; no –

 

There was a crack of apparation outside.

 

Harry whirled around quickly, fighting stance, wand in hand. He was still underneath his cloak and his improved sense of hearing picked up on quick steps coming towards him and he readied himself when –

 

Tom’s cologne; his new sense of smell told Harry without a doubt that it was Tom.

 

Tom entered the house quickly, wand in hand. He looked terrifying; everybody else would be running for the hills but Harry was strangely aroused.

 

Tom looked around; the tip of his wand lit up. He advanced further and Harry said “Tom”, ducking in anticipation of a curse when Tom whirled around. But Tom didn’t fire a shot and Harry took off the cloak.

 

“Goddamnit,” Tom said when he saw him and kicked against a wall.

 

“Sorry,” Harry said, “I wanted to check out whether-“

 

“You almost died here,” Tom roared, “what did you think I would do when I saw where you were? What did you think I would think?”

 

“That I can’t just watch my own case going cold?” Harry asked, and Tom heaved in a breath, angry and vicious.

 

“Harry,” he said and then turned away from Harry, kicking the wall again.

 

“Tom?” Harry asked, unsure now and Tom stood still, still turned away from Harry.

 

“We need to talk,” he said. He sounded weird; choked up and raw and Harry had not ever seen Tom so – aggrieved at something. Tom didn’t care much for showing emotion unless it was lust and, in Harry’s case, love, but he didn’t show it very visibly; it was always there but Tom had never said the words.

 

“Okay,” Harry said. Every sense told him that Tom knew something Harry didn’t, but he kept still, waited until Tom had himself under control and walked over towards Harry. Harry waited a moment and then kissed him, soft and careful.

 

Tom kissed him back and then gripped him around the waist and apparated them.

 

They came out in front of their house; Tom linked their fingers and took Harry inside and straight to their floo from where they went to Tom’s office.

 

Tom pressed Harry down on the leather couch in one corner of his office before telling his secretary to not be disturbed for the next hour. Then he sat in one of the chairs opposite Harry, steepled his fingers and looked broodingly in the fire of his chimney.

 

Harry crossed his legs and waited.

 

“I went to the place on the night you were attacked,” Tom said, “it was crawling with Aurors. The ground was full of your blood. Robards was livid.”

 

“I had no idea,” Harry said, and Tom sighed, leaned back and closed his eyes.

 

“I couldn’t stay waiting at St. Mungo’s,” he said, “the waiting while they treated you made me crazy. I had been able to see you briefly before you were rolled into the theatre; I thought I would black out. You talked to me, but I don’t think you remember.”

 

Harry shook his head.

 

“I left Severus with you,” Tom said, “I wanted to – kill someone. The wolf who did it. I wanted to rip him apart like he had ripped apart you.”

 

They sat in silence for a minute.

 

“They had no idea yet of what had happened,” Tom said, “Robards had taken over command. It was chaos. They thought they had werewolves on the run, attacking people. They mobilized two forces to search in two directions. They put Aurors in charge to protect the Muggles. Robards and I talked briefly; I heard that you had went alone, that it was a routine call, that they couldn’t find a trace of magic, couldn’t place the caller. I walked around the house; I watched the moon rise. We all waited to hear them howl; but it was eerily silent all around.”

 

“Unnaturally silent?” Harry asked. It was a Muggle question, but he had asked it many times before; it led to interesting results amidst Wizards and Witches.

 

Tom’s lips twitched; he had without doubt caught the intent behind the question.

 

“Yes Harry,” he said placidly, “like there was – magic involved.”

 

“But you couldn’t place it?” Harry asked. Tom was silent, looking into the fire.

 

“It was powerful,” he said, “beyond the abilities of someone ordinary. It was very dark. And very carefully hidden. I felt as if – the attack on you was used to mask some other intent. But no; I couldn’t place it.”

 

“That doesn’t sound good,” Harry said. Tom huffed.

 

“I collected your blood; all of it that was in the ground. There were some drops spattered a bit further away; I collected those. It was a line; it must have been the way they took to flee. We followed the trail, but the drops stopped abruptly.”

 

“Apparation,” Harry said, “or they noticed and cleaned themselves.”

 

“No trace of magic,” Tom said very quietly, “as if they had disappeared into thin air. Non-magically.”

 

“Could they have used a car?” Harry asked.

 

Tom blinked. Harry knew he had surprised him; they had grown up equally Muggle, but Tom had left the non-magical world behind him much more completely than Harry ever could.

 

“They went straight through the fields,” Tom said, “for quite some time. We would have to check again.”

 

“I guess you don’t want me to go alone?” Harry asked, and Tom smiled, very soft.

 

“Please don’t,” he said, “I promise I’ll make time for it.”

 

“I promise,” Harry said, “if you do too. I am the Auror between the two of us, after all.”

 

“Yes,” Tom said, clearly humoring Harry, but Harry would take it.

 

“Do you think there’s a connection to you?” Harry asked.

 

Tom looked at him for a long moment.

 

“There’s no reason for me to think so,” Tom said, “nobody has approached me. Nobody has indicated something. I have not received any blackmail. But I am – a polarizing figure in our society. I am aware of that. So far, I’ve felt protected by my power. But maybe I was too confident about my own dissuasive effect.”

 

Harry studied him.

 

“I haven’t fed you,” Tom said, “and I’m afraid I must be going to see the Minister in ten minutes. Let me order something quickly from the cafeteria and you can take it home.”

 

“Don’t be angry,” Harry said, “but I haven’t had my breakfast. I can eat it at home.”

 

Tom sighed and then got up and walked over to Harry, sitting next to him. He pulled Harry into his body and kissed him, slow and sure.

 

“I’m worried about you,” Tom said, “I’ll make sure to be home early tomorrow. I want to talk with you a bit more.”

 

“I shouldn’t wait up tonight then?” Harry asked, and Tom shook his head.

 

“No,” he said, “but go and see Severus. I don’t like the idea of you being all alone tonight.”

 

“Let’s see,” Harry said and kissed Tom some more.

 

--

 

It was the weekend. Harry had spent much of his week thinking and lazing around and owl-ordering a number of books on lycanthropy and annoying Severus at Hogwarts. Tom dealt with some crisis he couldn’t talk about and had barely been home despite his promises and when Harry had seen him, he had been in a bad mood because of it. They had all looked forward to the weekend and now it was Saturday night and Harry had watched Severus and Tom dance around each other for hours.

 

“You two can fuck,” Harry said, “I don’t mind. But I want to watch.”

 

Tom groaned. Severus sighed.

 

“I did hear that your dick was back in the picture, too,” Severus said and eyed Harry very suggestively.

 

“No,” Tom said immediately, “injury needs to be fully healed. It’s not pretty.”

 

“I want to watch,” Harry said petulantly. Severus smirked at him and leaned around Tom, gently rubbing his hands over Tom’s nipples.

 

“We could put on a show for him,” Severus said to Tom, “he thinks you’re very pretty when you spear yourself on my cock.”

 

“I do,” Harry said, voice gone hoarse, “especially when you’re hard, Tom. Your dick looks so pretty bouncing up and down and-“

 

“Okay, fine,” Tom said trying to sound bored but the bulge in his trousers betrayed him and Harry sank down on his knees before him.

 

Severus ended up fucking Tom while Harry deepthroated him; it took a lot for Harry to not come when Tom did, voice wailing and high-pitched when he spent himself down Harry’s throat.

 

--

 

“It’s wide enough for a car, even if it’s a dirt road,” Tom said. Harry yawned against his shoulder and Tom sighed and looked down at him.

 

“I knew you were too tired for this,” he said, “let us go home. We’ll come back after the full moon.”

 

“There’s not much cover,” Harry said and tried to rouse himself. But he was rapidly losing, and he knew it; the moon was dragging and gripping at him and he felt run-over with fatigue and the inevitable shift in two days.

 

“The Aurors answering the call should have seen or heard a car if it picked the attackers up from the dirt road,” Harry said, “but it doesn’t fully add up. The point from which you couldn’t find any more blood is still quite far off to where a car could have been.”

 

“Yes,” Tom said, “and you’re leaning your full body weight on me. I want to take you home. I’m sorry for having so little time for you. I’ll try to change it as soon as I can.”

 

“Tom,” Harry said and put his own hand in Tom’s coat pocket, feeling cold and clammy. Christmas was approaching, and Harry hadn’t done a lick of shopping and he hated, hated, hated it all.

 

Back home, Tom made him take a nap on the couch. Harry woke up from it by a hissed conversation in the kitchen; it was Severus and Tom.

 

“You need to stay with him,” Tom said, “I can’t do it. Severus, you have no idea what’s going on at my end. I can’t supervise him during the full moon.”

 

“I told you at the beginning of the month,” Severus said, “it falls on the day where I must harvest the beetlone root. You must do it; you know I need that root.”

“You can find someone else for sure,” Tom countered.


“If you think that then there’s no point in explaining to you how complicated it is,” Severus hissed.

 

“He can’t be by himself,” Tom said, “and I can’t do it. We can’t ask Lupin. It’s on you.”

 

“You keep pushing the unpleasant parts on me,” Severus said, low and dangerous, “whenever you don’t want to deal with him, you send him to me. I have office hours; he interrupts them almost every day now. Be at home more, if you’re so worried.”

 

“Severus,” Tom hissed, “I can’t. Then he must do it alone.”

 

“You’re a heartless bitch,” Severus said, “we agreed we would to it together and all you do is being unaccountable. I can see how disgusted you are by the wound and-“

 

Harry had to bite down on his knuckles at that; he had thought the same in the last two weeks and hearing it confirmed ripped a hole right through his heart.

 

“Stop,” Tom said, “I admitted to not dealing well. I hate to see him like this. I hate to witness what he’s becoming. It took not even a month for him at home to become timid, and scared and angry and-“

 

“Have some goddamn compassion,” Severus said, and Tom laughed, high-pitched.

 

“Like you do?” he sneered, “shut away at your castle? Who deals with the nightmares and the goddamn endless tears and the-“

 

Harry got up. Their voices stopped immediately but Harry didn’t wait; ten steps and he was at their front door and when Tom stepped into the corridor, Harry had already apparated.

 

--

 

He knew he couldn’t stay outside without a cage.

 

The full moon would rise in 24 hours; Harry needed a place to transform before that time was up.

 

The Shrieking Shack was out; they would check for him there. He had put anti-tracing spells on him the second he had come out at – goddamn Ecclestone. Harry cringed at his subconsciousness and then placed his wedding ring inside a tree bark, marking the tree with a simply coloring spell.

 

Then he had started walking, gripping his wand as tight as he could.

 

He couldn’t go into Remus’s cage; he had no idea but doubted that two werewolves got along well during a shift. The unoccupied house crossed his mind but staying in the place where he had been attacked wasn’t smart.

 

As a kid he had once read a book of isles of Scotland; it was a gift to Dudley that his cousin had never even bothered to unpack. Harry had smuggled it into the cupboard and read it countless times. There were unoccupied ones; Harry apparated again. It took him the better part of three hours to find one on which nobody had set foot on in years and that was where he sat down. He listlessly thought about transfiguring something to eat but he wasn’t hungry. His heating charm was holding up well and the weather appeared to be stable; all he could do was wait, pondering the question if the wolf inside of him would be afraid of water or would try to swim to another shore for prey.

 

He kept refreshing his disillusion spells. He knew that Tom would be able to find him if Harry didn’t change them often enough; he was pretty sure that Tom’s tracking spells would fail once Harry transformed. He wasn’t Harry as a wolf; he has just madness and anger and rage.

 

It was true; he had changed. He had been needy. He had been clingy.

 

He had thought he had been allowed to lean on them.

 

No crying, he told himself, not any more. You must be as hard as this rock. You’re alone again.

 

Strangely, it comforted him; to think of himself as being all alone. Who knew if they even tried to find him? Maybe they thought him gone to be a good riddance.

 

Still, when Harry burned a few hours later, he howled for them until he was lost to the moon.

Chapter Text

 

Tom was crying; that was the only thing Harry remembered out of the first four days at St. Mungo’s. He had no recollection of how they had found him and transported him from the island; he had no recollection of treatment or the shift itself. He slept restlessly, twitching and turning from side to side and there were hands and arms; Severus’s arms, Tom’s arms, holding him still, hands that were gripping his shoulders or hips and pushing him back to take pressure off the bites.

 

Severus was stoic and calm, mask perfected on his face. He talked to Harry, an endless stream of soothing voice that Harry’s muddled brain couldn’t translate into words.

 

Tom was crying. No big, heaving sobs, but a silent river of tears that Tom rubbed away with his fingertips. He didn’t cry when Severus was there, but every time they were alone he did, and Harry tried to touch his face, bewildered and scared. But his arms were so heavy, and they fell back with a thud and Tom would pick one hand up and kiss his fingertips carefully and tenderly and Harry would watch him for as long as he could before falling asleep.

 

On the fifth day, Harry was able to sit up and hold a conversation.

 

“You can go tomorrow,” Harry said, “I’m already much better.”

 

“Nice try, Harry,” Severus said. Tom had yet to talk to Harry since Harry was fully conscious again; he was leaning against the window in Harry’s room, looking out.

 

“I want you to,” Harry said, “I would really appreciate some time for myself to think.”

 

Over at the window, Tom closed his eyes. Severus’s face was a dark growl and Harry stared him down, for once occluding as much as he could.

 

“Okay,” Severus said after a long silence, “if that’s what you want.”

 

Harry nodded. Tom left the room without a glance back and Harry’s heart hardened up even more into the resolve he had felt on the island.

 

--

 

On the sixth day, Harry signed himself out. Then he walked into Remus when he exited the hospital.

 

“They send you, didn’t they,” Harry said as accusingly as he could. Remus had gently taken a hold of his elbow and walked Harry straight back into St. Mungo’s; they had taken the elevator to the cafeteria and Remus had gotten Harry a hot chocolate and Harry didn’t want to like things like this so much, but he did; he craved being shown kindness. He knew it was unhealthy, but he couldn’t stop.

 

“Tom did,” Remus said, “and apparently his reasons for worrying were not made up. He told me what happened. Why don’t you tell me your version of events?”

 

Harry shrugged and huffed and moped and then he told Remus.

 

“It just hurts so much,” he said in the end. His voice was breathy, and he was close to tears again and he hated Remus, hated Tom for sending him. He had wanted to go to Hogwarts and steal some poison from Severus’s stores and end himself today and instead he was shredding paper napkins and bearing his heart. “To know that it was just a play, that they don’t like me as much as they used to. I don’t know how to – it’s already so bad and now this, and I-“

 

“Stop, Harry,” Remus said and then took Harry’s hands over the table. “I am going to say some things you won’t like to hear. Can I?”

 

“Can’t stop you, can I,” Harry muttered mutinously and stared at their linked fingers.

 

“Tom loves you,” Remus said quietly, “and Severus, from what I understand does too, even if I didn’t think him capable. All three of you have pretended to be fine with what has been happening and on a fundamental level they both are. They don’t hate you because you have turned. But it’s time now to be honest with other; tell each other how hard it has been. Of course, the crying is hard for Tom, but if you ask him it will have little to do with that he thinks you weak for it. It’s just really unbearable to see someone you love in so much pain, Harry.”

 

Harry didn’t look at him, couldn’t. There was a pit inside his stomach and it was full of sadness and desperate yearning.

 

“He’s a careerist,” Remus said, “he’s always been. He rose like no other through Ministry ranks. There’s little reason for him not to have been made Minister years ago. And now you’re at home and half his attention will be on you and he’s itching to go and see you, but he can’t just leave that other side of who he is behind within a few weeks. So, he likely feels all torn-up and nervous and wants to help but doesn’t want to give you charity.”

 

“Whatever,” Harry muttered, and Remus squeezed his hands.

 

“Just try to see what’s behind what they said,” he said, “and then discuss it. They can’t be responsible for your physical and mental health. They can assist you with it, but in the end, how you feel cannot be an excuse to treat them shitty. And that’s a balance you guys have to re-define.”

 

Harry scowled. Remus was always full of good advice and yet, he stayed with Sirius.  

 

“I want to go home,” Harry said after a long period of silence and Remus nodded and took him.

 

--

 

Back home, Harry migrated to the couch and Remus puttered around in the kitchen. The floo flared to live early, just after four and Tom’s hurried steps came to a rapid end when he spied Remus. They whispered in the hallway for a moment and then Tom looked over the back of the sofa and gave Harry a cautious smile.

 

“I couldn’t stay there,” Harry said, and Tom shrugged and leaned down to press a kiss against Harry’s forehead. Harry knew he had a fever, but Tom didn’t say a word, just went upstairs to dress more casually. Remus said his goodbyes shortly after and Harry listened to the cluttering of pans and pots in the kitchen until he couldn’t stand it anymore and relocated to their dining table, watching Tom work.

 

“Remus said we should be brutally honest,” he said after some time when Tom didn’t speak.

 

“Is there something brutally honest you want to tell me?” Tom asked after some time and Harry looked out of their window, strangely wistful and pensive.

 

“I signed myself out today,” he said, “and then I wanted to go to Hogwarts and kill myself with some of Severus’s poison. Mostly because you – enraged me when you left without talking to me yesterday.”

 

Tom sat down rather abruptly.

 

“Merlin,” he hissed under his breath and then rubbed hastily over his eyes.

 

“Which poison did you want to use?” he asked after some time and Harry turned incredulous eyes at him; but Tom’s held no hidden meaning, just some curiosity.

 

“Butternill,” Harry reluctantly said, “wanted to take it and then a sleeping agent while Severus was at lunch.”

 

“Butternill poison is a horrible choice for what you wanted to do,” Tom said softly, “it would be healed within a minute if Severus had found you and he would have because lunch would have been an hour tops and it doesn’t work that quickly.”

 

Harry didn’t answer, just looked down. Tom got up and then sat down in the chair closest to Harry, turned it around so he was sitting in front of Harry, their knees touching.

 

“Would you have left us a letter?” Tom asked, still in that soft voice and Harry swallowed.

 

He would have decided against any letter, any kind of explanations. They were not the people for it. He had wanted to think back to all the good times they had had instead, all those memories when he had felt loved and cherished even if they had never said it. He would have thought them clearly, extracted them easily enough, would have watched the milky white in the flask he had put them in for a moment, before setting them away for Severus to find. A message of love; this he wanted to leave them, nothing else.

 

“No,” Harry said but he was choking up and the “no” came out all wonky and wrong.

 

“Okay,” Tom said and then reached out a cautious hand and traced his fingertips down Harry’s neck. “Harry,” he said quietly. He leaned closer and after a moment he leaned down a little and kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth while his hand came up and grasped Harry’s nape, reeling him into an embrace. Harry went with it, stiff and hostile and Tom ghosted his nose over Harry’s hairline before pressing another kiss against the top of Harry’s ear.

 

“I would have probably killed myself after you,” he said, “I doubt I could have lived with the guilt. Severus would have blamed me. He was very angry with me during the full moon.”

 

“Don’t be silly,” Harry hissed. His throat was all dry and itchy and Tom came even closer, breathed in and pushed his nose back into Harry’s hair.

 

“Listen to me,” Tom said quietly, “Harry. Can I be brutally honest, and you’ll promise to hear me out?”

 

Harry twitched; he hadn’t expected Tom to go along with it and his heart plummeted, plummeted all the way down where Harry could never pick it back up. He would never be able to pick it back up depending on what Tom was going to say to him and –

 

“Hey,” Tom said, “Harry. Hey.”

 

“Say it,” Harry said, and Tom sat still, jaw working.

 

“I wasn’t there to protect you,” he said after a long moment, “I could do nothing for you at the hospital. I can do nothing for you at home. I can’t make the shift easier. I can’t cure lycanthropy. I can’t – you’re in so much pain and I can’t do anything about it. I feel so helpless.”

 

Harry breathed in, unsure what to say and Tom kissed his jaw, kissed the top of his ear.

 

“I get so frustrated,” Tom continued, “I was so angry in the last weeks. You have all rights to be in tears and – and whiny. Merlin, I don’t even want to say it now, because it sounds so stupid. I needed to blow off some steam. Harry, I’m so scared during your shifts. Not because of you being a werewolf but because – it’s so hard to see you in that pain.”

 

“If you want me to leave,” Harry said. He sounded fine, sounded okay even if he felt close to breaking down, “I can understand. You can say it, you can-“

 

“Shut up,” Tom said harshly. He pushed himself a bit away from Harry and raked his hand through his hair while looking at Harry. He stood up after a second and went down their hallway and Harry’s took in a shaky breath, felt clammy and cold. Okay, he thought, okay. So that was it but, fuck, it hurt so badly.

 

Tom came back. He held something in his hand and before Harry realized what it was, he was kneeling in front of Harry, offering Harry’s wedding band.

 

Harry trembled, unsure and scared and Tom just kept looking at him for a long while, face serious.  

 

“Harry,” he said, “will you marry me?”

 

Harry huffed out a laugh and then had to grip Tom’s hands. He was sitting down but still felt as if he could faint dead away.

 

“What?” Harry squeaked out and Tom smiled, an unsure smile that sat a bit wrong on his face.

 

“We promised through good and bad times,” he said, “and we’ve had plenty of good. Now they’re not so good and I thought that maybe – you would appreciate a show of how I feel about you. A promise that I still want to try. I don’t think it’s easy to get it right from the start and I’m asking for a bit more patience from your side if you can give me that.”

 

“Merlin,” Harry said, and Tom grinned briefly before turning serious again.

 

“I can’t promise that I won’t complain,” Tom said, “or be unfair or unjust or something else from time to time. But fundamentally, nothing has changed for me. You’re still all I want. So. Will you?”

 

“Yes,” Harry whispered, and Tom breathed out in a swoosh and leaned up to kiss Harry, kissed him deeply.

 

“We’re not seriously going to have another wedding though, right?” Harry asked, and Tom laughed and fumbled with the ring and put it on Harry’s finger after a moment. “Whatever you want,” he said, and Harry slipped down from his chair and straight into Tom’s lap and pressed himself close and closer.

 

--

 

Tom took the next week off. Malfoy almost had a nervous breakdown when he heard it, but Tom simply closed the floo call in his face, straightened back up and proceeded to cook breakfast.

 

“You don’t have to,” Harry said, “I can swear an unbreakable that I won’t end myself if that reassures you enough.”

 

“The only thing reassuring me enough,” Tom answered, “is seeing you. Drink up.”

 

“Tom,” Harry sighed, and Tom smiled at him, a soft tick-up of his lips.

 

“Drink up,” he repeated quietly, and Harry did.

 

After breakfast, Harry rose to clear away the dishes. Tom sighed, but let him do it, watching Harry place them in the sink. Tom himself used magic for all household chores but Harry somehow liked doing them by hand.  

 

“I haven’t done a lick of Christmas shopping,” Tom said, “and if there’s anything I do not want to do today, it’s going out.”

 

Harry snorted. Tom usually made pretty nice gifts, but he truly hated buying them.

 

“We could just not have any this year,” Harry proposed, “the bills I stacked up at St. Mungo’s are not exactly pretty.”

 

“We’re doing just fine financially,” Tom said, voice a bit harder.

 

“We will have to talk about this at one point, you know,” Harry said mildly, “me not having any income. And I know I haven’t even started searching for something new but from Remus’s experience I am guessing it’s not going to go very well.”

 

“That article in the Auror’s constitution could always get removed,” Tom said. Harry didn’t turn around, but he had to briefly smile to himself.

 

“Thanks,” he said, “but to be honest I’m – maybe having a tiny bit of a problem to cope well right now. I doubt that would come in handy while fighting crime.”

 

Tom was very silent for a long moment.

 

“You should have told me,” he said quietly.

 

“I’m a Gryffindor and I used to be Head Auror,” Harry said. He couldn’t quite keep the agitation out of his voice even if he tried, “it’s fucking embarrassing, that’s what it is.”

 

“Harry,” Tom said very quietly and then stood up and took the towel out of Harry’s hands to wrap him into his arms. Harry held himself stiffly for a second and then gave up and sacked against Tom.

 

“I looked up therapy options for you,” Tom said, “There are one or two you could try.”

 

Harry groaned, and Tom tightened his arms around him, gently kissing his hair.

 

“Severus thinks it’s a good idea,” Tom said suggestively.

 

“I’d prefer doing it without therapy or meds,” Harry said, “let’s go to Diagon Alley. I’ll allow you to hold my hand the whole time, so you can feel big and protective.”

 

Tom laughed and kissed Harry. “Think about it, Harry,” he said and went to get dressed.

 

--

 

Two days before Christmas, Diagon Alley was a cluster of people smashing into each other and handling big bundles of presents. Even if he had joked about it, Harry was suddenly quite grateful for Tom’s firm grip on him.

 

Harry hadn’t tested his new senses much yet and he was quickly overwhelmed with the noise and the smells. He started to sweat and inevitably they walked into someone Tom knew within the first ten minutes.

 

“Stevard,” Tom said and nudged Harry to go along, raising an eyebrow to check if Harry was okay with it. Harry couldn’t very well cling to him like a toddler and so he nodded and went.

 

Twenty minutes later, he had to take a sharp turn towards Knockturn Alley, where it was darker and quieter. Severus and Tom came here often enough but as Auror, Harry had never liked to go into the dark alleys outside of duty. He usually saw too many people he had at one point but behind bars.

 

He looked at some shop windows listlessly. He hadn’t really thought about what to get Tom and Severus, if he should get something for Remus. Up until two years ago he had sent presents to Hermione and Ron, but they had never sent something back and he gave it up last year, tried to ignore the pang he felt when he thought of the big Weasley Christmas party he had loved to attend.

 

Back then, at school in forth year, about to live at Sirius’s place, Harry had thought for a brief moment that he had found his family, the unconditional love he had always longed for. Christmas 1994 had been happy for him, a true celebration. It had all started to fall apart during the summer holidays when Harry had seen just how damaged Sirius was, just how destructive he could be. He had realized that every adult around him knew what his godfather did to Remus and still, nobody intervened. When Harry had brought Tom with him many years later, all that love turned out to be conditional after all, conditional to whom Harry wanted to share his life with.

 

There was no way to repair that kind of hurt, even if Harry wished there was.

 

He broke out of his pensive mood and turned away from the shop window he had been staring into, was about to turn back towards Diagon, when his neck prickled.

 

He looked around and quickly caught sight of a solitary figure watching him from one of the tinier alleys.

 

Every muscle in Harry tensed.

 

The man was tall and burly. The shape of his head was unusual, the nails of his fingers long and sharp.

 

“Fuck,” Harry whispered and looked back towards Diagon.

 

Then he squared his shoulders and looked back at Greyback; inclined his head to the side. Even from this far away he could see Greyback smirk before he went into the direction Harry had indicated.

 

Harry circled around slowly until he couldn’t see him anymore; then he picked up his pace, gripping his wand in his coat. If this went wrong, Tom would kill him, but he needed to know.

 

Greyback was leaning nonchalantly against a door of a desolate, crumbling little house. He had led them even further away from any streetlights and December light in London was murky and grey, made it hard to see.

 

Harry stopped out of his range. Greyback smirked and Harry tried to fight down the bristling he felt when looking at him.

 

In many ways, Greyback was a symbol for a nightmare that many Wizards and Witches shared but for Harry that nightmare had become a lot more personal in recent months.

 

“Little Harry Potter,” Greyback purred, “back from the dead. Not turned off by meeting with the scum of the scum. You’re not squeamish then?”

 

“What do you want?” Harry asked, ignored the innuendo. Greyback leered and looked Harry up and down. His nostrils flared; he could without a doubt smell Harry’s wound and Harry saw the hungry look in his eyes.

 

“Information,” Greyback said once he had himself back under control, “two rogue werewolves running wild in my corner of the globe, attacking a Head Auror. Not good publicity for my leadership.”

 

“I don’t cooperate with you,” Harry said, “and I am guessing you have a much better idea who they were than I do. So why don’t you tell me something about it?”

 

“Harry, Harry Potter,” Greyback singsung, “your father was best friends with an animal just like me and still looked at me as if I was the dirt of this earth. You’re just like him.”

 

“I don’t need to talk to you at all, Greyback,” Harry said and made to turn. He didn’t really want to have his back to Greyback but he also didn’t want to stay.

 

“Someone’s angry at your husband, little Potter,” Greyback said to Harry’s retreating back.

 

Harry’s neck prickled in warning and he turned around just in time to see Greyback move; still, Harry was much too slow and Greyback had gripped his arms and put them on Harry’s back before Harry could shout a spell. He chuckled and leaned forward, fetid breath on Harry’s neck and licked a long stripe from Harry’s neck to his ear.

 

“You smell delicious,” Greyback whispered, “freshly turned animal. That’s my favorite. And so angry at me. I like them defiant.”

 

Harry held perfectly still.

 

“Don’t you see the cracks, little Harry Potter?” Greyback whispered and pressed his erection against Harry’s ass, “is your husband not usually so much more in control? And yet, he fizzles and chisels like a kettle about to go off. What has him so worried, little Potter?”

“Let go off me,” Harry said. He made sure that his voice sounded like a command, not a plea and Greyback chuckled again and then did just that, pushed at Harry, so he fell down. Harry fell with an oomph; the pain from the impact on his injured side knocked the breath out of him and by the time he had scrambled back up, Greyback was gone.

 

Harry couldn’t pretend that the meeting hadn’t riled him up. His hands shook; his breathing was too fast and labored. His wound throbbed in pain and his legs trembled when he made a sharp turn to get back to Diagon.

 

He needed Tom.

 

Tom was at Flourish and Botts, deep into some obscure looking book. He hummed when Harry come up to him, but didn’t really look at Harry, attention still on the text.

 

“Tom,” Harry said pointedly after some time had passed and Tom looked up at him, did a double-take and clapped the book shut before carelessly adding it to the pile of books he had selected.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked, and Harry slid closer, didn’t want anyone overhearing them.

 

“I run into someone at Knockturn,” he said, and Tom studied his eyes for a moment, before making the pile of books flatter over to the registry.

 

“Did you finish your shopping?” he asked, and Harry sighed.

 

“Haven’t started,” he said darkly. Tom put a hand at the small of his back and pushed him over to pay for his books. The girl manning the cashier smiled at Tom, then saw Harry and lost all countenance, hands shaking like crazy while she ringed up Tom’s books. Harry wanted to leave, but Tom gripped his wrist and forced him to stay, eyes cold and angry at the girl.

 

“There’s no point in getting agitated over stuff like this,” Harry said outside, “the prejudices are-“

 

“Just don’t,” Tom said and shrank the books before looking at Harry.

 

“Go home, lunch or continue shopping?” he asked just when another acquaintance made his way over to Tom.

 

“In one hour at the Leaky Cauldron,” Harry said to Tom and made to go, but Tom grabbed his hand again, leaned away from the man chatting him up excitedly.

 

“Are you good to be alone?” he asked, and Harry rolled his eyes and nodded.

 

He made a sharp turn towards Severus’s favorite potions shop, knew that the owner would know what Severus wanted or needed. He had to wait for almost twenty minutes, while all employees were trying to avoid having to serve Harry. By the time he left the shop several galleons lighter, he felt a bit dizzy from walking and standing up for so long. His injured side was throbbing, and he almost threw up when he made his way back to Knockturn again, wanting to go into Borgin and Burkes to find something for Tom.

 

Borgin was as slimy as ever, clearly interested in Harry’s turn. The interest was somewhat soothing to Harry and then he felt weirded out by the fact that he handled Borgin better than other shop owners at Diagon today.

 

At the Leaky, Tom wasn’t there yet when Harry arrived. Harry chose a spot in the corner, had to press into a pile of people to reach his table. His injury was jostled again and again, and Harry bit his lips raw trying not scream and shove at people. By the time he sat down, his head swam, his vision was blurry, and he was soaked in sweat.

 

He tried to take off his coat but couldn’t. His fingers wouldn’t cooperate. He tried to signal to the waiters for some water, but they ignored him. He carefully touched his fingers to the wound and almost passed out when white-hot pain travelled through him at the touch.

 

Tom came in a moment later, nodded at Harry. He wasn’t alone and didn’t make a move to come to Harry’s table, stood at the bar instead, still talking.

 

All at once it was simply too much.

 

Harry felt himself go from general unhappiness and misery to agony within a second. His breathing doubled up; his limbs started to shake. Panic attack, Harry thought and tried to concentrate on anything, something to snap out of it before it got really bad. But there was nothing; he still didn’t even have anything to drink and he was going to –

 

Tom’s hand was on his neck, warm and protective.

 

“I’m afraid we must be going, Bradleyford,” Tom said and rubbed his thumb behind Harry’s ear, coming even closer. Harry was still tethering on the edge but felt a little closer to safety now. He wanted to press his face against Tom’s robes and hide there, but Tom put a glass of water in front of him, handed him some chocolate. Harry took the glass and took some sips, feeling a little better. He unpacked the chocolate with shaky fingers while Tom got Harry’s bundles and put them away, then gave Harry a hand up. They had barely stepped out to apparate when Tom already took them home.

 

--

 

Tom put Harry straight to bed, no discussions. But when Harry held out a hand and said a pitiful please, he was quickly undressing, sliding in next to him and stroked Harry’s arms and back.

 

At first it was peaceful and quieting and then Harry got more and more horny, more and more frustrated by it. He missed sex so much he could wail with it and he pressed his half-hard dick against the mattress, not wanting Tom to realize what was happening. There would be no release and Harry didn’t want to be touched without it.

 

Tom slowly kissed up Harry’s neck and then rubbed his own hard dick against Harry’s ass.

 

“This sucks so much,” Harry whined. He would get hard occasionally, but his erections weren’t really reliable and there remained the issue of not being able to orgasm without pain.

 

“Darling,” Tom said quietly, and Harry sacked against him, helpless against this kind of affection, “can you do something for me?”

 

“Yeah,” Harry said and moaned when Tom gently tweaked his nipples.

 

“I made a little something for you,” Tom whispered and let his hands drift down low and lower, “something that will make you feel a little better.”

 

He skipped Harry’s cock, and tugged at Harry’s balls instead, gently rolling them around.

 

“If you say it’s your cock,” Harry warned, and Tom chuckled, kissing Harry’s neck again.

 

“It’s a mood stabilizer,” he said, voice still light, and turned Harry’s head around to deeply kiss him, leaving Harry breathless and so aroused it left a sharp tug deep in his gut.

 

“I said I didn’t want those,” Harry said, “I said I would do it without meds.”

 

“Darling,” Tom whispered again and ghosted his fingers over Harry’s hole, holding him close with his other hand, “please. For me.”

 

Harry moaned, trembling when Tom pressed one finger into him, searching for Harry’s spot and massaging it carefully. He spread his legs a bit further and Tom moaned in answer and something tingled deep inside Harry with each push of his fingers.

 

“I really shouldn’t have an orgasm right now,” Harry said, “but I need you to fuck me. I need you to. Tom, I need-“

 

“I will,” Tom whispered, nuzzling against Harry’s hairline at his neck, “but promise me. You’ll take my potion.”

 

“God,” Harry said. Tom pushed more and more slick inside him, stretched him wider and wider, pace unhurried. His other hand ran lower, left Harry’s belly and teased his cock instead and Harry whined, let his head fall against Tom’s shoulder.

 

“Promise,” Tom said and took his fingers away, slicked his own cock. He rubbed his large cockhead over Harry’s hole, spreading the slick before lightly slapping his cock against Harry’s hole.

 

“Okay,” Harry said, “anything. Just fuck me. I need to feel you, please.”

 

“I will,” Tom said, “Severus and I have put a lot of thought into helping you have an orgasm. We’ll get you there, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Harry said and tried to take Tom inside himself without Tom’s assistance and Tom laughed quietly and kissed Harry’s neck again, rolled them until he could fully spoon Harry from behind. Harry immediately lifted his leg, ignored the pinch in his wound and Tom held his leg for him.

 

“Thank you,” Tom said very politely and pushed in, so very slowly. Harry groaned; he was still so tight. Tom’s cock forced him open; spread him out. Tom was hot and large inside Harry, throbbing and pulsing against Harry’s prostrate and Harry whimpered when Tom bottomed out. He didn’t give Harry much time to adjust before drawing back out slowly, all the way, until it was only his cockhead inside Harry.

 

The stimulation around Harry’s rim was already intense, but Tom rubbed him additionally with a finger. Harry whimpered again, and Tom chuckled lowly and slowly pushed back in. Harry could feel his walls extending, felt every inch of Tom slowly dragging along in his channel. He squeezed around Tom and reveled in the low groan he drew from him. Tom lightly bumped his prostrate again and then withdrew the same way, proceeded to enter Harry slowly and carefully for almost twenty minutes until they were both sweaty and desperate.

 

“I need to come,” Harry said, “you feel so fucking good, you-“

 

“Shh,” Tom said, “I’ll take care of you. I have to use your wand, mine’s in my coat. I can’t leave that spell on for long, okay?”

 

“I’m so close,” Harry said, and Tom used Harry’s wand on the bedside table next to them and whispered nolite obdurare eum and Harry keened when the wound hardened up, became inflexible for a moment. It was a weird, uncomfortable feeling and he could feel his erection going down over it but then Tom pushed at him and fucked him for real, drew his cock out and slammed it back in, still in an unhurried but rough pace. Harry groaned, and Tom tweaked his nipples and Harry pumped himself and clenched and somehow managed to stay hard and Tom whimpered and pushed in deep one more time before spilling inside Harry. The pulses of him coming inside, against Harry’s prostrate sent Harry over the edge as well and he came in long streaks, Tom’s hand still holding up his leg to balance him out.  

 

Harry’s orgasm was brilliant, burnt through him. No pain this time and he grinded himself against Tom for a long moment. When they had both stilled, Tom slipped out of Harry and leaned down to lap up some of his own cum that was dripping out of Harry’s hole before going for Harry’s wand again.  

 

“Tom Riddle without a wand on him, I’ve never seen anything stranger,” Harry said, and Tom smiled an unguarded smile at him and made Harry sit up against the headrest of their bed before taking off the spell. Then he breathed in deeply, studying the injury.

 

“You don’t have to,” Harry said quietly, and Tom breathed in deeply again, sat his hand at the very edge of Harry’s hip.

 

“It’s not the injury itself,” Tom said, “though I admit I wouldn’t be a good healer at all. It’s – I almost lost you, darling.”

 

“I know,” Harry whispered, and Tom looked up at him, eyes swimming in tears.

 

“I wasn’t there to protect you,” he said and then he leaned forward and hid his face against Harry’s crotch and belly, started to cry. Harry petted his hair, leaned over him, and pressed his own face against Tom’s hair until Tom calmed. His heart was beating too fast; he had never seen Tom so vulnerable and he didn’t know what to do beyond holding him.

 

“How was the spell during sex?” Tom asked after the tears had stopped. “Fine,” Harry answered, “bit uncomfortable at first, but no pain after.”

 

Tom sat back on his hunches, wiped his face. “Shit,” he whispered, and Harry reached out for him and Tom came willingly, hid his face against Harry’s neck.

 

“I think I need some more cuddles,” he said, and Harry held him until they both fell asleep.

 

--

 

Harry woke up to Severus sitting down next to them. Tom was still sprawled on top of him and blinked slowly, before turning his head away and going back to sleep.

 

“Long day?” Severus asked, and Harry nodded.

 

“Went to Diagon, got accosted by Greyback and almost passed out at the Leaky,” he said.

 

“What?!” Tom hollered and scrambled up, awake within a second. “Greyback? When? Where? How did he-“

 

“Breathing,” Severus said musingly, “is a very underrated quality.”

 

Tom glared at him but did take in a deeper breath.

 

“Tell us,” Severus said, and Harry did, tried to be as detailed as possible.

 

Severus and Tom shared a long, dark look.

 

“I get that both of you were really worried about me,” Harry said, “but if you know something, I think I should know it to.”

 

Tom swallowed. “You should,” he said, “I know you should. It’s just – I’m a bit afraid to tell you.”

 

“Oh,” Harry said, and Severus came closer, stroked through Harry’s hair.

 

“Give us a few days to try to sort it out a bit more,” he told Harry quietly. “And we’ll speak over Christmas. Okay?”

 

Harry nodded, not sure what he felt.

 

--

 

Tom gave Harry some really nice silk shirts for Christmas and a trip to Rome in October.

 

Severus gave Harry the latest book in the magical crime series Harry liked to read – and a copy of some series called Full Moons and Passionate Nights and then smirked a lot when Harry had a laughing fit.

 

They had a slow morning, then an even slower afternoon. None of them had happy holiday traditions they liked to remember, and they hadn’t really bothered to make any of their own. Severus was usually at Hogwarts anyway and Harry and Tom would eat food, catch up on whatever they hadn’t been doing enough of and would then fuck for the next few hours.

 

Harry has already on page 161 of Full Moons and Passionate Nights and wondered privately if he could truly get a knot during sex when Severus sat down next to him and took the book out of his hand.

 

They kissed, long and intense and Harry moaned into it, reached up to tangle his fingers in Severus’s hair. Severus smirked against his mouth and rolled them over, laid Harry out on the couch. Tom briefly came by and told them to call him once it got interesting. Severus kissed down Harry’s neck, gently biting down on the hollow of his throat and licking his pulse points.

 

“Sev,” Harry said quietly, and Severus smacked him playfully across the side in retaliation for the nickname. Then he took off Harry’s shirt, sucked and teased his nipples before kissing Harry’s belly button.

 

He skirted the injury with his tongue, not touching the scars or the reddened edged of it. It felt better than Harry had expected, and he bowed into it, quietly moaning. Severus dipped lower and took off Harry’s pants with some wandless magic that had Harry keening. Severus shushed him and sucked in his balls, licking them before pulling them softly with his fingers. He had awfully talented fingers and Harry whimpered when one hand made its way down in between Harry’s cheeks.

 

Severus took Harry in his mouth then, took the time to firm Harry’s erection. The wet suction of it and the long time he hadn’t had Severus do this to him made Harry stay hard and he whimpered when Severus pushed a finger in, a second, gently stretching him out.

 

Harry needed it; he needed it so badly. They had always been so into sex and Harry missed it more and more the more time passed. He knew that Tom and Severus fucked on the sly, and he wasn’t mad about it on the days when he was cranky or tired or in pain, but right now, he would kill anyone interrupting them.

 

“Want to fuck me?” Severus asked, but Harry shook his head. He didn’t think he would be up to thrusting and he wanted to feel Severus inside him. His hole felt gapingly open; he felt so empty.

 

“Good,” Severus said and pushed himself down, long legs hanging off from the couch. He was still mostly dressed but Harry knew better than to undress him early; Severus didn’t care much for his own nudity.

 

Severus lifted up Harry’s legs, arranged them over his shoulders before licking into him, a long, searing stripe of heat. Harry moaned loudly and saw Tom briefly look into the living room before he vanished again. Severus ate him out, long and intense, turned Harry on his belly after some time.

 

“Injury’s good?” he asked roughly, and Harry nodded, would have nodded even if it wasn’t true. Severus took off his shirt and pants, rubbed his dick briefly in between Harry’s cheeks, rubbed himself against Harry’s hole before laying back down and eating Harry out some more. He fingered him again and Harry cried out with it, hips trying to drag Severus in deeper. Severus laughed quietly and let go of him, slicked his dick. He leaned up and his chest hair tickled Harry’s back just before they were kissing deeply.

 

“I’m so horny,” Harry heard himself say and Severus laughed. “I think I can help you with that,” he said and lined up, pushed slowly in.

 

It was almost immediately too much.

 

Harry groaned. Severus thrust into him shallowly and Harry whined.

 

“Fuck,” he said, and Severus stilled, before pushing back in very slowly.

 

“Not good?” he asked, and Harry could hear the disappointment. He didn’t want to disappoint them any more than he had in the last few months and his eyes prickled with tears. Severus was big, bigger than Tom and Harry, but so far Harry hadn’t had any problems with taking his dick, even if Severus pounded him. The slow drag inside Harry’s ass shouldn’t hurt so much, but it did.

 

“I’m good,” Harry said nonetheless. He didn’t really know why; it was something he did all the time. He could never admit that he was hurting, that he couldn’t take something. He was always very scared people wouldn’t take him seriously.

 

Severus continued fucking him.

 

Harry wasn’t hard anymore, not at all. His injury started to throb in time with Severus’s increasingly hard thrusts. Harry bit down on his arm; Severus was in so deep, so very deep. Harry felt as if he was split in two. There was still pleasure in the pain, but it was so muted that Harry whimpered, high-pitched. Severus slowed down a little, asked him again if he was good. Harry nodded, and Severus thrust again, and Harry whimpered so loudly that he wanted to die with it.

 

“What’s wrong?” Severus asked, more demanding now. Tom came back, and Harry hid his face immediately, knew that they would be mad if they saw the tears.

 

Severus pulled out. “No,” Harry said; he still wanted to, so badly, even if he felt raw and hurting. It was all a confusing mix of horniness, wanting to please and pain and Harry bit his arm again.

 

“Another position maybe,” Tom suggested mildly from somewhere to Harry’s right. They kissed; Harry didn’t see but hear them.

 

“Or maybe I just fuck you,” Severus said very quietly; before he was turned Harry wouldn’t have heard, but now he did.

 

The pit that opened in his stomach was the same from before the full moon, when he had overheard them talking in the kitchen.

 

“Harry?” Tom asked but Harry couldn’t, not anymore. He got up, not looking back at them, went to the downstairs bedroom and locked the door. All horniness he had felt was gone now and he sat down naked on the rim of the bathtub, put his head in his hands.

 

“Did I hurt you?” Severus asked from the hallway. He pressed down the handle of the door and then sighed when the door didn’t budge. “Harry, come on,” he said, and Harry looked down at his limp cock. He was a grower and his cock looked tiny and shriveled up and Harry didn’t want it, any of it. He wanted how it was before when they hadn’t had to think about loving Harry, just loved him, when it was easy.

 

“Alohomora,” Severus said. Harry didn’t move at all when he came in and leaned down in front of Harry.

 

“Did I tear something?” Severus asked, and Harry looked up. Severus looked concerned enough but also slightly impatient, was still semi-hard.

 

“Go fuck Tom,” Harry said and then pushed him, shoved Severus away.

 

Severus allowed himself to be pushed and then his arms were around Harry and then all fight went out of Harry and Severus’s hand was on his nape pressing Harry against him and then Harry was crying.

 

He didn’t want to. He was crying all the time and he was so tired and yet, here he was.

 

“I’m sorry,” Severus said, “I just said it because you made me so horny. I missed having sex with you so much. Harry, this is so hard to navigate for all of us. I don’t understand why the sex wasn’t good for you. Can’t you tell me why?”

 

Harry breathed in and out, in and out, fought the tears back down. He knew that he was so sensitive right now and he knew that it grinded on both Tom’s and Severus’s nerves, no matter how much they understood.

 

“I don’t know why,” Harry said, “I know nothing anymore. It’s all so muddled up and I’m so – sad and I-“

 

“Breathe, Harry,” Tom said from the doorway. He looked worried when Harry looked at him over Severus’s shoulders.

 

“Let’s go upstairs,” Severus said quietly, “build it back up. Tell me quicker if it’s too much, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Harry said, and Tom kissed his forehead, wrapped his arms around Severus and Harry both.

 

--

 

Two hours later, Harry still couldn’t stay hard long enough to have a real orgasm, but he felt good. Tom was inside him and Severus was languidly kissing him after he had already come inside Harry. Harry was a sweaty, desperate mess of pleasure and Tom took his time, fucked him so very slow and sensual.

 

“Fuck,” Harry said. He wanted to come but it wasn’t an overpowering need and Severus stroked his half-hard dick lazily, slowly fisting Harry.

 

“Should I suck you off?” he asked, and Harry nodded, fisted his hands in Severus’s hair. Tom arranged them, and Harry was riding him while Severus sucked him. Harry grew harder and harder, but not enough, just couldn’t come, couldn’t find the release he needed. His treacherous body; Harry wanted to cry with it and still Tom’s hips were slowing rolling up into him and Severus was not so slowly deepthroating Harry and Harry tethered, right there, feeling so close, so, so, so close –

 

“I can’t,” he said, “it’s too much and I still can’t and I-“

 

“You’re good,” Tom said quietly, hips still rolling up, “give yourself time. You don’t have to come. Don’t you feel good anyway?”

 

“I do,” Harry said, “but it’s not – I just want-“

 

Severus swallowed around him and Harry gasped, let his head fall against Tom’s shoulder. He was sweaty from head to toe, felt almost wrung-out. The pleasure was there, still somewhat muted, but in a weird way more intense than he had ever felt but there was no release; Harry felt over-sensitive, almost hysterical.

 

Severus let go off Harry’s dick with a pop, stretched up to get his wand. He incanted the same spell Tom had used to freeze up Harry’s injury and Harry cried out, pain mixing with pleasure.

 

“I can’t,” he said, and Severus stroked through his hair, gently fisting Harry’s dick again.

 

“Concentrate,” he said, “you can feel it. You can almost taste it. Center your attention on your pleasure. Ready?”

 

Harry wanted to half curse him, but then Severus said “voluptas” and Harry whitened out, passed out with the intensity of his orgasm. He wasn’t sure about the noises he made, but Tom followed him into orgasm almost immediately, so they must have been quite good.

 

--

 

He came back awake on Severus’s chest. Severus was breathing slowly and was gently scratching Harry’s scalp and Harry didn’t move, just kept pretending to sleep. He felt cozy and comforted and protected and he didn’t want it to stop quite so soon.

 

The door clicked open.

 

“Food’s almost ready,” Tom whispered, “he’s still sleeping?”

 

“Drowsing,” Severus answered just as quietly, “not fully with us yet. Maybe the spell was too much.”

 

“He gets horribly frustrated if he doesn’t come,” Tom said, and Severus snorted.

 

“As if you don’t,” he said, but he sounded very fond, and Tom huffed. Harry could imagine him perfectly, leaning against the doorframe with his arms and legs crossed.

 

“He’s so pretty all fucked out,” Tom said, and Severus laughed, chest rumbling. They were quite for a moment.

 

Then, “I don’t want to tell him,” Tom said.

 

“You have to,” Severus said gently.

 

“I know,” Tom said, “I’m going to. But it’s so – unfair.”

 

“You don’t usually care much about fairness,” Severus said. The movement of his hand had stopped; instead he was holding Harry’s nape.

 

“I’ve been reevaluating,” Tom said reluctantly, “a lot. I’m not – you know what I think about it.”

 

Harry stretched a little against Severus, not fully comfortable with overhearing whatever it was they were talking about.

 

“Hey,” Severus said quietly to him and Harry blinked, looked up at Severus and then Tom.

 

“Food’s ready,” Tom said and smiled at him and Harry smiled back reflexively and had to yawn halfway through and something softened in Tom’s face.

 

It worried Harry a little.

 

--

 

“Brutal honesty, right?” Tom said after dinner. They were outside in their backyard, Harry bundled up in a coat and two warming charms. Tom and Severus had their traditional Christmas cigars and Harry was forbidden to have his traditional Christmas Whisky.

 

“Okay?” Harry asked, and Tom took a long drag of his cigar, looked up at the night sky.

 

“I want to create a spell to use on Muggle-borns,” Tom said, “to eradicate all magic inside them. For a number of reasons, but most of all because I believe them to be a direct threat. Not to our way of life but to magic itself.”

 

“Er?” Harry said.

 

Severus snorted. He had probably heard that sound a little too often in potion class.

 

“I can’t go into very much detail,” Tom said, “but it has to do with time and space and the very way magic is working. It’s not a threat at this very moment but it will become one. My position requires me to think ahead.”

 

“Okay?” Harry said. Severus rolled his eyes at him and took a puff of his cigar.

 

“People are very upset about him killing off magic,” Severus deadpanned, and Tom sighed.

 

“I thought I had my Department under control,” Tom said, “I haven’t found the leak yet. But there’s been one. Robards confirmed something to you I’ve already suspected before you were bitten.”

 

“You think it’s connected,” Harry said. He felt a chill running down his spine and Severus held out a hand, drew Harry in when he stepped closer.

 

Tom, on the other hand, stood straighter.

 

“Yes,” he said, “I didn’t get any threats. Not overt ones. If I had, I would have never – I would have told you, Harry. No matter what it would have done to my work. But I haven’t taken the leak seriously. I thought nobody would dare to challenge me like this. I have – miscalculated. When I heard the first rumors I brushed them off. And when I heard people muttering that I would get what I would deserve for this, I simply – laughed.”

 

“You couldn’t have known,” Harry said, “you didn’t partially transform yourself before the full moon was even up to go and hunt me like cattle. This isn’t on you. I know you would never willfully put me in danger.” He did know; maybe he knew even better than Tom that Tom could never hurt him.

 

“I haven’t figured it out yet,” Tom said, “but a coalition has formed against my plans. I suspect there are some people involved who know both you and me and who have the backing of someone powerful. But I know little more. I still don’t understand why they attacked you the way they did. It must serve some kind of goal beyond taking my attention away from work or they are truly very – radical.” Severus snorted again.

 

“What have you done so far?” Harry asked, and Tom sighed, rubbed a hand over his forehead. He looked – lost, Harry thought, and he carefully pushed away from Severus, walked over to Tom.

 

“Hey,” he said quietly, “I don’t – we don’t have to talk about it right now.”

 

“This happened because of me,” Tom said. He sounded choked and Harry reached out a careful hand to touch his cheek.

 

“I never wanted this,” Tom said, “I never-“

 

“Hey,” Harry said, “I know. Of course, I know.”

 

“Harry,” Tom whispered and drew him in, simply placing his cigar in the air where it gently stayed floating before wrapping Harry in his arms, hiding his face against his hair.

 

Harry held on for a long time.

 

--

 

Severus left very early on the 26th. Tom burrowed back in the blankets, but Harry, once awake, could never go back to sleep so he tapped out of their bedroom and into the study.

 

Accio coffee,” he said and sat looking out at the window until the door creaked open and his coffee pot floated over.

 

The whole thing just didn’t make any sense.

 

People were mad at Tom. They usually were for one thing or another. The Department of Mysteries and the Unspeakables created rumors on good and bad days. Nobody ever knew what was true; the missing control of Harry’s former Department over Tom and whatever he was up to had worried generations of Ministers. The rivalry and secrecy between the Department of Mysteries and all other government structures were as old as the Department itself.

 

Killing off magic in Muggle-borns; it wasn’t necessarily a popular move but even after the Halloween Massacre and all the conciliation process, Wizarding society remained distrustful and racist towards Muggles and depending on the individual witch and wizards also towards Muggle-borns.

 

That Tom was neither a lover of Muggles or Muggle-borns was open knowledge. He had been too popular during the build-up of the Halloween Massacre, too outspoken. He had openly declared that he dreamed of a Muggle influence-free Wizarding society.

 

After the Massacre, Tom had reformed some of these opinions. Harry wasn’t too sure what had happened because both Tom and Severus remained very tight-lipped about it; but if he had to guess, he guessed that Severus had rapidly turned away from any populist movements, stopped engaging with politics completely. Harry had no illusions that neither he nor Severus had any real control over Tom, but he was also sure that Tom would do a lot to prevent them from being angry or unhappy with him. If Severus changed attitude hadn’t been enough, the political pressure heaved on Tom afterwards had probably done the trick. Tom was widely criticized for not counterattacking the aggressors, for not dueling people like Bellatrix Lestrange or Abraxas Malfoy who went on killing people in the dozens.

 

Tom hadn’t started to love Muggles after the Massacre, but he certainly stopped propagating his hate of them after it. Harry didn’t have any reason at all to believe that Tom was researching how to eradicate magic without a real and precise reason; he was sure that Tom wouldn’t do it out of prejudice.

 

But still, the attack on Harry made no sense. What did any opposing group gain from Harry being a werewolf? Sure, he wasn’t working at the Ministry any longer; but it might have been smarter to influence him there, use his rank against Tom than forcing Harry out. The new Head Auror was a witch named Swoltsky who had no prior affiliations Harry was aware of. She was a competent Auror and a natural leader, and she wasn’t easily influenced but unless she was with the group from the very start, it didn’t seem very likely that she could be of much use for them. A Head Auror couldn’t take on the Department of Mysteries; not even the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement could.

 

There was a chance that the attack had gone wrong. Harry thought it possible. At first, they had attacked him with their human teeth and fingers; they had only partially transformed when they had descended deeper into the madness of ripping Harry apart. He was a werewolf too now and he could imagine the pull of the moon while trying to reign yourself in from turning someone and he – could imagine that they lost their cool even if he shuddered with it. Nobody could really tell him how they had transformed before the full moon was fully up, but Remus had agreed that bloodlust could probably get a wolf to do it.

 

But if the attack had gone wrong, Harry had still no answers; there were too many options. Maybe they had realized that Harry was an in-road to Tom’s consciousness; maybe they had wanted to abduct him to lever over Tom; maybe they had wanted to put him under imperius or something stronger because Harry could usually shake off the curse.

 

And then there was Greyback and his weird allegations that made no sense at all to Harry at the moment. Was Greyback involved in all of this? Tom had claimed to not have any idea what Greyback was talking about.

 

“Hey,” Tom said from the doorway. His hair was tousled and standing up in all directions and Harry smiled at him, took a sip of his coffee.

 

“Thinking?” Tom asked and settled down on the armchair, watched Harry sit at the big wooden table.

 

“It makes absolutely no sense,” Harry said, “what good would it do to turn me and then not follow it up with something? Maybe those things are simply not connected.”

 

“A received a memo two days before you were attacked, saying that I would bleed,” Tom said, “another one before that, saying that I should watch out for the moon. I brushed them off; we receive stuff like that in the dozens a day.”

 

“If they are so common, then maybe you’re over-rationalizing them now, after the attack,” Harry said, “we have no proof that those memos are really connected to me.”

 

“Somebody wanted you at this place,” Tom said, “who could want you there? Unless there’s something you haven’t told me, it seems unlikely that someone wanted to get rid of you. Inner-Department rivalry does not usually leave someone at death’s door. And you had no troubles in the months leading up to the attack.”

 

“Yes,” Harry said, “I think I’ll visit Remus and Sirius today.”

 

Tom blinked. “To talk about it with them? I would prefer you didn’t.”

 

“No,” Harry laughed. He wasn’t that stupid. “To see them. It’s Christmas.”

 

Sirius had also been one of the most vocal people on the other side of the Massacre. And he could never keep a secret. If there was something brewing, he might not be involved due to being crazy, but he was still a close part of the Weasley group; an important and very rich member of society. Harry wouldn’t ask overt questions, but he was interested in seeing them nonetheless.

 

“I’m not a fan of this idea,” Tom said, “you told me that holidays were usually the worst.”

 

“I’m not ready to give up on Remus,” Harry said, “so I’ll go. I’ll be back for dinner, latest. Okay?”

 

“No,” Tom said, “but I know I can’t keep you. Wear your ring, please.”

 

Harry snorted. He never took that ring off in public anyway.

 

--

 

Grimmauld looked just as rundown as always. Harry pressed the door bell, then stepped away from the door. He studied the outside of Grimmauld until the door opened.

 

Remus’s eyes were very red. He had clearly been crying. There were no visible injuries, but he held himself weirdly and Harry wanted to turn back around and leave. What had he been thinking? He couldn’t do this, he couldn’t –

 

“Who is it?” Sirius bellowed. He came down the hallway, drunk. Remus trembled, and Harry steeled himself, stepped inside and around Remus, drew himself up. He wasn’t very tall, but he also wasn’t particularly unimpressive.

 

“Harry?” Sirius said, clearly confused.

 

“Hey,” Harry said, “I wanted to come see you. Is it a bad time?”

 

Sirius blinked, then swiped a hand over his face.

 

“Give me a moment,” he said roughly and staggered up the stairs.

 

“Come, Harry,” Remus said quietly and pressed a cautious hand against him to lead him into the drawing room.

 

Harry didn’t say a word, couldn’t say a word. Sirius was without doubt taking a sobering potion and Harry drank a sip of the tea Remus handed him.

 

“How are you?” Remus asked quietly after some time and Harry shrugged. He felt incredibly tired all of a sudden. They sat in silence until Sirius came down; dressed in some slacks and a shirt compared to the bathrobe he was in earlier. Sobering potions took care of the alcohol but not the hangover and Sirius looked like death warmed over.

 

“Sorry,” Sirius said, “didn’t know you would come over. Didn’t think your husband would allow you to meet your family.”

 

“Tom’s my family,” Harry said, almost on auto-pilot. He felt like the sullen teenager he had been at 17 when he had moved out the day he had been legally able to do so.

 

“Oh, shut up, Harry,” Severus hissed, “he’s a manic son of a bitch, that’s what he is. He let your Mom and Dad die and you marry him? You’re just-“

 

“Please,” Remus said. He sounded horrible and Harry looked at him, saw the tears in his eyes.

 

“What do you want?” Sirius asked after a moment of silence.

 

Harry shrugged. He had hoped to have a calm talk with them, to carefully lead Sirius to say something about whatever it was that was happening in the Ministry, but all he could see were Remus’s shaking hands. All he wanted was to hit Sirius in the face for – all of it, everything that his godfather had done, everything that he had made Harry hope for only to snatch it away.

 

“It’s Christmas,” Harry said. He was choking up to his own horror and had to look away, looked down at his hands. After a moment, Sirius stood up quite sudden, yanked at his hair.

 

“I hate this,” he said, “I hate what you and I have become. Harry, I just don’t understand. I try to not be angry about it, but I always am. I’m so mad at you for marrying that suck-ass. I am so mad at you for playing house with a psychopath, I’m so mad-“

 

“You want to know what I’m mad about?” Harry screamed. His chair tumbled over behind him from Harry standing up with too much force, but Harry couldn’t care. It was all so hypocritical, it was all so-

 

Sad. It was so sad.

 

The thought took away all steam and Harry straightened the chair, plopped back down on it.

 

“What are you mad about?” Sirius asked, and Harry leaned forward, held his head in his hands.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, and Sirius sighed, and Remus sat as still as a deer frozen in fear.

 

“I’ll be going,” Harry said. He felt wary and old and he couldn’t look at either of them. It was unrepairable; it was beyond trying to do it any good. He would not get Sirius to change but he would also never get Remus out of Sirius’s hold and that was way worse. Neither of them loved him enough or trusted him enough to give up their horrible relationship and it broke Harry in two.

 

“Kid,” Sirius said just when Harry opened the front door. He was standing in the doorframe of the drawing room, looking old and tired.

 

“Don’t call me that,” Harry said.

 

“Be careful, Harry,” Sirius said, “there’s – I’m pretty worried about what Riddle is doing. So are others. You should – stay out of it.”

 

“What do you mean?” Harry asked. There it was; the clue he had been waiting for, but it was hard to muster the energy to get on the case.

 

“Just what I said,” Sirius said, and Harry looked back at him.

 

“Why did I get bitten, Sirius?” he asked bluntly. Sirius jerked as if he had been hit. Bingo, Harry thought, but it wasn’t a happy thought at all.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sirius said, and Harry stepped out, apparated straight from the doorstep, statute of secrecy be damned.

 

--

 

In front of his own house, Harry sat down on the front-door step. Predictably, the door opened five minutes later, and a quilt settled over Harry. It opened again another ten minutes later; a plate of cake floated in front of Harry. Five minutes after that a coffee and Harry finished both before sending the plate and cup back.

 

Tom opened the door twenty minutes later.

 

“It’s getting dark and cold,” he said, and Harry sighed, and Tom sat down behind Harry, drawing him in.

 

“I wish I had no family at all,” Harry said, “better than having – him.”

 

Tom hummed and kissed Harry’s ear.

 

“He knows something,” Harry said, “but I can’t – I can’t do it. I went there to ask about it, and I just – can’t. I don’t know why but I just-“

“You don’t have to,” Tom said, “not at all. You don’t have to see him at all if it hurts you so bad.”

 

“I want Remus away from him,” Harry choked out. The tears would come, could not be stopped now, and Tom wrapped him closer, knees bumping Harry’s knees.

 

“Why won’t he leave?” Harry cried, and Tom held him.

 

“I don’t know,” Tom said, “I don’t know. Harry, please don’t cry.”

 

“I don’t want him there,” Harry gasped, and Tom shushed him and held him until Harry could breathe again.

 

--

 

Tom had returned to work on the 27th. He hadn’t talked again about the mystery surrounding Harry’s attack and Harry hadn’t asked. He still reeled from visiting Sirius and Remus, was sure that Remus’s situation had gotten worse than he thought. He didn’t feel up to solving the mystery and read his crime novels and the werewolf book Severus had gotten him. Apart from that, he mostly moped around, went for a few longer walks. The injury was getting better and better and Harry felt a bit more active, a bit more like the Harry he had been before the bites, but he was also in a weird funk, in a weird in-between space in which he had to decide what to do with his life. He diddle-daddled around till the full moon, which fell on a Monday night.

 

It was only Tom with him that day. They had a late dinner and then Tom used some heavy cream on Harry’s injuries, studied them intently.

 

“They’re not going to open again,” Harry said reassuringly, and Tom huffed.

 

“I had no idea that the high mortality rate of new wolves was due to complications with their bite wounds,” he said and traced the shape of the bites with his fingers. “You do realize that you’re extremely lucky and an extremely rare case with injuries as bad as yours?”

 

“Knew you would get me through,” Harry answered, and Tom kissed him, slow and sure.

 

“I’ll try forever,” he promised and raised Harry’s hand to kiss the ring on his finger.

 

The madness was the same; the horrible pull was the same; the pain was the same. Harry groaned and cried and begged and burned until he lost all sense of himself.

 

He wasn’t in the cage when he came back to himself, was instead on Tom’s couch at Tom’s office at the Ministry.

 

Tom was sitting on the plush carpet next to him, arms crossed over his raised knees. He was loosely holding his wand, intently staring at the door.

 

Outside, people were screaming at each other.

 

“Tom?” Harry rasped out. Tom turned around towards him, eyes intense and terrifying and Harry shivered. Tom blinked and the scary person he had been vanished into Harry’s Tom, Harry’s Tom who leaned closer and put a hand on Harry’s forehead and kissed Harry’s cheek.

 

“What’s going on?” Harry asked.

 

“Nothing,” Tom said softly and soothingly, “just some people protesting. Sleep, Harry.”

 

Harry didn’t want to, knew that something was up, but sleep dragged him down anyway.

Chapter Text

When he woke again, Harry was still in Tom’s office. His head was in Tom’s lap and Tom was fondling his hair while lowly talking to Malfoy who was sitting opposite them.

 

There were a lot of things Harry preferred over having Lucius Malfoy watch him sleep.

 

“The protesters are still outside,” Malfoy was saying, “I think it would be good to talk to them directly, my Lord. Placate them. The amount of misinformation has reached a dangerous level if we want to continue with our work unobserved.”

 

Tom tapped a finger against Harry’s forehead and Harry scrunched his face up. They looked at each other for a moment and then Tom’s hand settled over Harry’s eyes, gently rubbing his temple.

 

“To talk to them,” he said, “Is to admit that we have some explaining to do. Do you think we have some explaining to do, Lucius?” He used his office voice and Harry turned his head a little to hide himself against Tom’s belly; he didn’t like the office voice. Tom lifted Harry’s head a tiny bit to cross his legs, effectively hiding Harry more against himself.

 

“My Lord,” Malfoy began, low and anxious, “I do not think that we can continue with our work while-“

 

“This will blow over,” Tom interrupted, tone of voice final. He pressed an arm behind Harry’s back and carefully lifted him up against his chest, cradling him like a child. Harry opened his eyes again, indignant to be handled like this in front of Malfoy but he didn’t complain when he looked at Tom; Tom very rarely looked the way he looked right now.

 

“I want to take you to Hogwarts,” he said quietly, “are you up for the walk?”

“Not sure,” Harry said, and Tom’s face grew even darker for a moment.

 

“Leave us, Malfoy,” he ordered, didn’t look away from Harry until Malfoy had left.

 

“The house is not perfectly safe at the moment,” Tom said, “and I doubt my office is a long-term solution.”

 

“The house is not perfectly safe?” Harry asked, confused. Everything was growing hazy again and Harry got more and more tired by the second.

 

Tom’s lips pinched.

 

“No,” he said, voice clipped, “it’s not. But you don’t need to worry about it. I’ll handle it.”

 

“I don’t understand,” Harry said.

 

“Harry-“ Tom started when the floo flared to life. Tom was instantly alert, wand in his hand within a heartbeat, but it was Severus who stepped out.

 

He ran a critical gaze over both of them, before coming over and sitting down on the floor in front of Harry.

 

“How are you feeling?” he asked lowly and Harry lolled his head over to look at him.

 

“Like crap,” he said, “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

 

“Nothing bad,” Severus said soothingly, “just a letter that got beyond our wards. We’re not sure how, so we’re a little worried. It’s nothing that needs to worry you.”

 

“But you’re worried,” Harry said feebly, “and Tom’s worried and I-“

 

“You don’t have to be worried,” Tom said, “we’re taking care of it.”

 

“But-“ Harry started to say but Tom hissed at him, angry and frustrated.

 

“We are taking care of it,” he said, pronouncing each syllable very carefully.

 

“Okay,” Harry said, angry and helpless. He struggled up and out of Tom’s arms, sat up. He was dizzy almost immediately and had to lean forward a little, sat still for a long moment. Severus’s hand was on his knee and Tom got up and came back with a glass of water, but Harry pushed it away; there was nothing he wanted to put in his stomach right now.

 

“Hogwarts?” Tom asked Severus and Severus got up from the floor to stand in front of Harry, put a hand on Harry’s forehead.

 

“He’s running a fever again, Tom,” he said quietly, and Tom sighed, rubbed a hand over his eyes.

 

“I’m not taking him home,” he said, voice increasingly agitated, “then we’ll have to stay here. I know you think it’s a minor occurrence, but nothing has been minor for the past months and I’m not-“

 

“Hey,” Severus said very softly and got up, wrapped Tom in his arms. Tom shuddered and then went boneless against Severus, hid his face against Severus’s neck.

 

“I haven’t slept,” he said, “Severus, nobody can break through my wards. I couldn’t find a breakage point either. I got a letter telling me to run while Harry was not to be moved and I couldn’t reach you and nobody can break through my wards.”

 

“Unless they have the floo access,” Severus said calmly, and Tom heaved in a big breath, pushing away.

 

“It’s getting really hard for me to stay a decent person,” he said, and Severus looked at him worried and sad.

 

“I prefer you decent,” Harry said in the stillness and Tom sighed and looked at him before stepping over and feeling Harry’s forehead for himself.


“Fuck,” he said, and Harry smiled; it was always nice to reduce Tom to Muggle swearwords.

 

“You can protect me anywhere, Tom,” he said drowsily and let his head fall against Tom’s hip, “and I would really like my bed. Can’t we just go home?”

 

“We can block the floo,” Severus said quietly, “you can put him under a Fidelius if you want. I’m sorry I wasn’t there earlier. But I am now, and I think between the two of us we can make sure that he’ll be fine.”

 

“No,” Tom said as if the word was wrung from him and turned around, went over to the big windows behind his desk to look outside, “it’s Hogwarts or here.”

 

“I want to sleep,” Harry whined, and Tom whirled around, face dark or scary.

 

“It’s Hogwarts or here,” he said, voice dangerously low, “I’m not taking any more changes. Somebody wants to take you from me. From me! I won’t allow it to happen.”

 

“Tom,” Severus said very soothingly, “nobody will take him from you. You’re Tom Riddle. Unless you think Dumbledore wants Harry for any reason, there’s no reason to be afraid that someone could overpower you. Just relax, please. Let us not get worked-up.”

 

“Dumbledore,” Tom repeated. There was a dangerous, manic gleam in his eyes; something that Harry had never seen before. From the way Severus swallowed and stood taller, he very much had.

 

“Dumbledore could help with this,” Tom repeated. He had a faraway look on his face and Harry tried to stand up but couldn’t quite make it.

 

“The Minister has no personal business with us,” Severus said quietly, “Tom, don’t get an idea. Please. What would he know about this?”

 

“I’ll have to lock you in for a short while,” Tom said, not listening.

 

“No, you don’t,” Severus said immediately, “Harry might have an emergency. Tom, I can’t break through your wards, I can’t-“

 

“Send me a memo,” Tom said absentmindedly, cancelled the floo, and then he was out of the doors, closing them with a flick of his wand.

 

“Severus?” Harry asked when all Severus did was stare at the doors in response.

 

Severus turned to look at him, a long, considering glance.

 

“I don’t feel well,” Harry said feebly. He knew that something was going on, could tell that Severus was scared, but it was so hard to concentrate.

 

“I think it would be best if you and I could go to Hogwarts,” Severus said quietly, “I’ll try to see if I can get the floo to work. Just lay back down, Harry.”

 

Harry didn’t want to, but he also couldn’t stay awake any longer.

 

--

 

Severus’s furious face followed Tom all the way up to the Minister’s office; he pressed it down, occluded it out of his mind.

 

He needed to focus. Focus had been hard to gain in the last months, but Tom needed to. He needed to make sense of it all; it couldn’t go on like this. He knew that he tended towards the hysterical, the paranoia but someone – something wanted to take Harry from him and Tom knew without a doubt that he couldn’t survive it.

 

All that kept Tom sane was Harry.

 

Severus had kept the worst parts of Tom in check before Tom had met Harry, but with Harry it was different; Tom wanted to be different for Harry. Harry was a good person, and he abhorred needless violence and he had a soft spot for the weak. He loved Tom and Tom knew that he would probably not ever stop, but Tom couldn’t bring the hurt over Harry by letting himself fully go. If he had to choose between greatness and Harry, between doing unspeakable things in the name of producing the best, most wondrous, most delightful magic, then he chose Harry even if the choice prickled on his skin like the scales of the snakes he sometimes allowed to slide all over him.

 

It wasn’t a natural choice for Tom; for much of their shared live he hadn’t had to choose at all. Now that he needed to, he still grappled with it, wasn’t sure that Tom Riddle could exist without creating more magic, being more powerful than anyone else.

 

Then he looked at Harry, Harry in pain, Harry so tired he nodded off during dinner, Harry overwhelmed with smelling and hearing more, Harry tearing himself apart before and during and after the shift and then it wasn’t a hard choice at all. Tom would comply if there were any more tries to contact him and then he would not ever stop trying to find them to make sure they could never hurt Harry again. But he would not play a game with Harry’s life and anyone not knowing that would have it coming sooner or later.


He knew that Dumbledore was in and he breezed past the man’s secretary, not halting his advance. A quick knock and he was pressing down the handle of the door and then Dumbledore was twinkling at him, seated behind his big desk and writing something.

 

“Tom,” he said and there was not much surprise in his voice whatsoever, “working late again?”

 

“No,” Tom said. There was no reason to beat around the bush; when Severus had indicated that Dumbledore might be involved, Tom had already known it to be nonsense. True, Dumbledore had hated him at first, had obstructed much of his career but ever since Harry had been in the picture that attitude had surely changed.

 

“He does you good,” Dumbledore had said a year ago during one of the charity dinner’s, eyes following Harry laughing with Robards across the room and Tom had agreed, ignored the soft flutter his heart gave when he acknowledged just how good Harry had been for him.

 

Harry was everything. Maybe it wasn’t healthy for a normal man but for Tom Riddle it was the healthiest it could get.

 

“I have Harry in my office,” Tom said, “Albus, I received a letter. It got beyond my wards. My nerves are not very good right now.”

 

Dumbledore’s eyes widened and then he indicated for Tom to sit and Tom did, suddenly tired and overwhelmed. He hadn’t slept for three days and he tolerated Severus’s potion for wakefulness a whole lot less good than Severus did.

 

“Tell me,” Dumbledore said, and Tom did, to an extent. He didn’t trust people; Dumbledore had very often proved to be a political opponent. They had battled more than once over a piece of legislation. But still; Dumbledore gave good counsel and he let Tom do whatever he wanted. Whenever people criticized him for it, he smiled and said: “Tom knows how far he can go.”

 

“A spell to take magic from Muggleborns,” Dumbledore repeated, and Tom nodded, looked down at his clasped hands. “I am sure you’re not surprised when I tell you that this doesn’t sound like something I would support.”

 

“Albus,” Tom said, “you can look at the research. But to make it short: I have reason to believe that the amount of magic in the UK is – dwindling. It’s happening in other places too, most notably in places that have a similar fraught relationship to beings and beasts. Places without that tight regulation see less of it. Magic is disappearing with each new person that becomes magical. There appears to be no limit to using magic, but an overall limit of how many people can become magical. With each new Muggleborn that enters our world a little bit of that overall magic gets lost. That’s why the old families see more and more squibs.”

 

“This theory has been around for centuries,” Dumbledure said, “of magic not replenishing itself but getting used up until one day we’ll barely remember it ever existed. Back then, many people believed it was due to how many spells we used.”

 

“Yes,” Tom said, “I’ve seen it. The research of my predecessors. But I think the problem lays not with the act of magic but the very essence of it. Not the spells are the problem but the number of people.”

 

“If that’s right,” Dumbledore said, “then it’s – horrendous.”

 

“I know,” Tom said, “and not something I can advertise. We would likely see a renewal of hatred against Muggles and Muggleborns. I do not want to repeat the Halloween Massacre.”

 

“But you were fine with people believing that,” Dumbledore said quietly, “you don’t mind them thinking bad of you, not when you believe to be in pursuit of a higher goal. Until Harry got attacked.”

 

“Yes,” Tom said, voice suddenly hoarse. He would have seen it through; but not by forsaking Harry. The whole Wizarding world could burn for all he cared.

 

“What other options are there?” Dumbledore asked, and Tom sighed, rubbed over his eyes. He was so weary.

 

“We do not limit the access of Muggleborns to our world,” Tom said, “and we’ll see more and more squibs within the pureblood families. Less magical children in unions between purebloods and halfbloods or muggles. We do limit the access of Muggleborns until in a few generations we are back to an almost exclusive pure-blood status, but we’ll also see a much higher degradation of our biology. Fallouts from intermarriage of families is not something we can counteract. At the moment. I am researching in both directions; killing off magic in Muggle-borns and finding a solution to our degradation problem. The first one is a lot easier; that’s why we’ve come further along and people picked up on it. But I haven’t stopped researching the second one, either.”

 

“What about tackling the dwindling of magic itself?” Dumbledore asked thoughtfully. Tom shrugged. “We can’t figure out why it’s happening,” he repeated, “we realized we had a problem a year ago with more precise evidence six months ago. Since then my Department has researched in all possible directions, with varying success. Spells against magic of Muggle-borns: relatively easy to achieve. Finding a solution to intermarriage problems: not so easy. Understanding why magic starts dwindling now: we are still at infancy levels on that.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Dumbledore asked. “I didn’t want to burden you with the lack of total plausibility when you claim you never knew what I was up to,” Tom said, and Dumbledore sighed and leaned forward, fixed Tom with one of his unforgiving stares.

 

“It’s my job to protect my Ministers, Tom,” he said and waited until Tom nodded.

 

“That being said,” Dumbledore said, “this is an immense decision to make. One that requires careful thinking. If you say that it appears to be linked to beasts and beings-“

 

“Not conclusively,” Tom said quietly, “no clear causal link. Merely an observation.”

 

“Then maybe,” Dumbledore continued as if he hadn’t heard, “it’s time to rethink our relationship to them. Something Harry might benefit from as well.”

 

Tom groaned. It was yet another reason to turn Harry he hadn’t thought of and Dumbledore’s eyes softened when he looked at him.

 

“You are tired,” Dumbledore said, “let Robards give you a full protective detail and go home. I am sure Harry would prefer to rest somewhere more comfortable.”

 

“Who could want to do this to him, Albus?” Tom asked, “I kept the circle of knowers as tight as possible. I must have a leak, but I am preventing actively against it. I know that nobody of my staff went against my magic. I can’t understand how-“

 

Dumbledore lifted a hand and Tom took in a deep breath, looking down. He hadn’t lost his cool in front of the Minister in so long he didn’t even remember the last incident.

 

“These incidents might not be connected,” Dumbledore said quietly. “I will look into it. If you are not feeling safe at home, you might be able to stay with a friend for the time being?”

 

“Yes,” Tom said. He had bothered Dumbledore long enough to not get into the fact that he and Harry had a rather limited amount of people to call friends.

 

He was already at the door, when Dumbledore spoke again.

 

“How long Tom?” he asked, and Tom sighed. “Not easy to predict,” he said, “but we only noticed because it is accelerating. Right now, I would say until the end of a life of a magic child born in 30 years. But that answer might change.”

 

“So we must prepare,” Dumbledore said and Tom nodded and left.

 

--

 

Back at his office, Severus and Harry were no longer on the couch. For one horrible moment, Tom’s heart plummeted far, far down and then he heard retching from the toilet, followed by Severus’s deep soothing voice.

 

He didn’t acknowledge the panic, just went and wrenched the door open. Harry was visibly shaking and drenched in sweat, already heaving again and Severus sat half to the side, half behind him, supporting Harry and whispering to him, a glass of water and his wand next to him.

 

The look he gave Tom was nothing short of murderous.

 

“What’s wrong?” Tom asked. He stepped closer and Harry whimpered and pressed himself away and Tom halted, stopping his advance, not daring to move a muscle.

 

“He’s not fully with us,” Severus said, voice icy-cold. “Had a nightmare. Can’t snap out of it. I probably already know and do intent to kill you for it but - is it possible you forgot his aftercare potions?”

 

Tom closed his eyes. The lack of sleep, the worry, Harry scared of him; it all caught up with him quickly now.

 

“Yes,” he said. He had forgotten them; there was no excuse. He was pathetic for thinking that he could care for Harry; that they could go through this together. All three of them were fucked up and they usually worked because they could all ignore whatever they needed at times but now Harry needed so much, and Tom wanted to give it to him, wanted so badly to give it to him, and still, failed at it all the time.

 

“Tom,” Severus said. His voice was softer, but Tom shook his head, not opening his eyes. Harry groaned and retched again, and Severus whispered to him. Tom was sure he was stroking through his hair, but he didn’t open his eyes to confirm it.

 

“Tommy,” Severus said again. He reserved that word for very dire circumstances and Tom jerked with it; he yearned for these little signs of love and affection. They all did and yet, they were so hard to give when you felt as if you put out all of your heart in the open whenever you said them.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Tom heard himself say, realized in horror that his voice was choking up. Severus hummed and then he got up and a moment later his hands were on Tom’s face, carefully lifting it. “Look at me,” he said, but Tom shook his head; couldn’t.

 

“He should still have them,” Severus said quietly, “quite urgently. Can we go back home?”

 

“No,” Tom said, the insistence coming from somewhere deep inside him. “Hogwarts, please. Severus, I’m – having a really bad feeling about being home right now.”

 

“Alright,” Severus said. He sounded unhappy and there was a clang from the toilet und Tom opened his eyes in time to see Harry sink half against it. They spent the next five minutes getting him back on the couch, wrapped underneath heating charms and Tom’s robe and a throwaway he kept for emergencies and with Tom fighting desperately against his need to fold down and cry.

 

“Can I go and get the potions from home?” Severus asked but Tom shook his head. “I’ll get them from the St. Mungo’s potionary,” he said, and Severus sighed and stroked Tom’s neck.

 

“They don’t keep them there,” he said very gently, “not the way I design them. I have something he can take at Hogwarts, but I’ll need to redo the others. How will we get him there? I’d say floo rather than apparate.”

 

“Floo to Rosmerta’s and levitate him from there?” Tom asked, and Severus nodded, tight and unhappy. Tom carefully picked Harry up, struggled with his weight for a moment; a featherlight was not working on living beings and the few spells they knew to make someone lighter had negative effects on magical cores. Neither one of them wanted to take over the autonomy of Harry’s body though Severus quietly and rightly pointed out that an Imperius was likely to help Harry relax because they could order him to relax, but Tom didn’t answer, and Severus let it drop.

 

Harry came out of the floo crying; full on sobs that shook his full body. He didn’t react to either Severus nor Tom and Tom hated Hogwarts, hated it for being inaccessible the way it was. They could floo out but not in; apparating was out of the question. Tom quickly entertained ordering a magical carpet, but they couldn’t stay inside with Harry, were quickly drawing much too much attention, even under a muffliato. Outside Tom carefully spelled Harry immobile before levitating him but it was no use; Harry was crying too much, choked on his own tears and spit and breath when on his back, fighting the spell as hard as he could when levitated upright.

 

“I’m begging you,” Severus said to Tom while keeping Harry up. The temperatures were icy, and the wind was howling, and Tom stepped closer to the two of them, didn’t know what to do. Harry was struggling for air now with each in-drawn breath and Tom took his face in his hands, watched Harry for a moment before pointing his wand at him, chest so tight he too felt close to breaking apart.

 

Imperio,” he said. Severus breathed out harshly.

 

“Relax Harry,” Tom said very, very quietly. Harry took in three more shuddering breaths on the verge of tears before quieting down, obeying Tom without struggle. He could fight off an Imperius and that he didn’t even try was the worst; it was the worst thing Tom had ever done.

 

“Good,” he said quietly, made sure to flood the curse between them with as much praise as he could muster at the moment. Harry smiled, docile and trusting and Tom wiped angrily at his cheeks; it was the ice wind forcing the tears out of him, nothing else.

 

Severus reached out silently and linked their fingers, gently rubbing Tom’s hand.

 

“I want to levitate you,” Tom said, “please don’t fight it Harry.”

 

“Kay,” Harry mumbled, voice shot to hell, happy smile on his face that mocked Tom.

 

The rest of the journey passed in silence. Harry was still smiling very docile.

 

“Don’t cancel it yet,” Severus warned once they were safely inside his rooms. Officially, neither Harry nor he could be at Hogwarts the way they were all the time; Minerva was turning more than one blind eye at them.

 

Severus left for his office, came back with three potions. “Make him take them,” he said, and Tom quietly ordered Harry, Harry’s mind a steady presence against his own. Harry took them without protest, swallowed them down, before smiling again at Tom.

 

“I need to cancel it,” Tom said. He couldn’t – this was –

 

“Hush, okay,” Severus said, “you’re good. He’s good. It’s alright, Tom.”

 

Finite incantatem,” Tom said, almost spat out the words. Harry blinked at him, almost immediately swayed to the side. Severus grabbed him and led him over towards his bedroom.

 

Tom didn’t follow them, turned towards the bathroom and breathed in and out and in and out for a long time.

 

--

 

“I’m not mad at you,” Harry said. It was already the sixth day after the shift but only the second one on which Harry had been able to stay awake for longer than two hours. Tom had been reading for work at Severus’s dinner table when Harry had come up to him and draped himself over Tom’s shoulders.

 

“I know,” Tom said. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was how Tom felt about himself.

 

Behind him, Harry nuzzled against Tom’s neck, sighing.

 

“You can’t be comfortable,” Tom said after two minutes of Harry not moving a muscle.

 

“Miss you cuddling me,” Harry said very neutrally. Tom reached up a hand to take a hold of Harry’s arm that was hanging over his shoulder, gently squeezing. He hadn’t been able to touch Harry; touching Harry had always been a form of absolution for Tom and he didn’t deserve Harry’s touch right now, no matter what Harry himself thought about it.

 

“I have to go back to the house today with Robards,” Tom started, and Harry pressed himself closer.

 

“I’m coming with you,” he said, and Tom closed his eyes. Harry had been saying a variation of that ever since Tom had announced that he would tour the house with Robards and a team of Aurors and Tom had said a variation of only over my dead body and all Severus had said was he has not suddenly lost the ability to adult because of what happened.

 

“Harry-“ Tom started but Harry squeezed himself even closer.

 

“Listen to me,” he said, voice steely, “I have given you time to deal with your huge guilt complex. I’ve given you time to wallow in feeling bad. I’m the Auror. I was Head Auror. That’s the Auror who is the head of operations in the field. I am coming with you.”

 

Tom didn’t say anything. Harry pressed a kiss against his hair and went to get dressed.

 

--

 

Harry was in his element while they searched the house. There was no other word for it and it gave Tom a horrible pang. “Maybe time to push for a different legislation,” Robards said next to him when he caught Tom staring and Tom sighed.

 

“Prejudice is the same as always,” he said and watched Harry joke around with two Aurors he apparently knew well.

 

“I’d take him back the second I am legally able to do so,” Robards said and joined his force.

 

The search was all in all terribly disappointed. Once again, they couldn’t detect any magical signature. The floo appeared to be working fine. Robards proposed getting the records from the floo network office and one of his Auror popped off with Tom’s authorization to do so. Any other searches; and there were a lot, including one with a Niffler that Tom ignored as best as he could – he was not a fan of animals except for snakes – proved fruitless, too.

 

“I don’t like to say it,” Robards said to Tom and Harry at the end of the day, “but I think it must have come from someone who knows you.”

 

“No,” Harry said, sounding very sure. “I think we are drawing premature conclusions. Everybody we know would have left a magical signature. Tom has looked into blocking them after I got bitten and hasn’t found a way yet. It’s not easy to do. And I am not convinced that letter came from the floo at all. Tom found it on the kitchen table and he thinks he heard the floo flare up but something else might have made a sound. It could have been an owl which would explain the missing magical signature.”

 

“It could be the wolves who attacked you,” Tom said. Harry narrowed his eyes at him briefly and it took Tom a second to get it. “Sorry,” he amended, “men. Though in my opinion they are not much more than –“

 

“Okay,” Harry interrupted quietly, not looking at Tom and Tom had to turn away, angry and frustrated. He had had no idea he could feel this much frustration at anything.

 

“The wards are fine, though,” Robards said, “no breakage point. Owl is possible, but even the owl would have had to come from someone you guys know. I’d say: someone send that letter via floo.”

 

“It was on the table,” Harry said, “you can’t send it via floo and it puts itself on the table without leaving a magical trace; the letter would have been in front of the floo. If someone stepped through to put it on the table, we should find a signature. An owl could have dropped it on the table and flown back off, leaving no trace we can find now. Owl is simply more likely.”

 

“Yes,” Robards said, “unless Tom is right.”

 

“If Tom’s right,” Harry said, “the attackers would have needed to come through a friend’s house. We barely allow any floos to be directly connected and it’s simply not very likely.”

 

“Have you checked with them to see if there was a break-in?” Robards asked and Harry shook his head.

 

“I can do it,” he said, “I will do it. I just don’t think it likely.”

 

“The owl would still have needed to slip behind the wards,” Robards said, “if you have limited access to owling – what does it mean?”

 

“Only private correspondence can come in with people we have established correspondence with,” Tom said, “somebody who was never written to us gets redirected to my office where all post goes through screening.”

 

“Same thing, then,” Robards said, “without knowing you it would be-“

 

“But that’s a much wider circle,” Harry said, “there are likely people on it we haven’t talked to in years.”

 

“Can we get a record somehow?” Robards and Tom nodded; he had never made an inventory, but he should be able to create something to do so relatively easy.

 

“Alright,” Robards said, “I’ll wait for that record and the floo office. Floo office will likely take a few days. We’ll reconvene once we have assessed the data?”

 

“How safe is the house?” Tom asked and Robards sighed, rubbed his neck and exchanged a wary glance with Harry that Tom didn’t miss but didn’t comment on.

 

“The wards are fine,” Robards repeated, “with leads back to my assumption that whoever send that letter knows you and has somehow access to the house. I think you’d be fine if you cancel all access, wards, floo and postal. But that’s only – a guess. If you want to be on the safe side, stay away.”

 

“Thank you,” Harry said firmly and then grabbed Robards’ elbow and led him away, quietly whispering to him. Tom watched them for a moment before he sat down at the kitchen table. He hadn’t been sleeping well despite Severus’s potions and he was tired and felt in dire need of a holiday and for the constant low-thrum of anxiety over Harry to stop.

 

Harry came back a moment later, outlining plans and other avenues of inquest they could still follow. Tom listened for a long moment, and then reached out and tugged Harry close, tugged at him until he was on Tom’s lap. He put his own head on Harry’s shoulder and closed his eyes, not really listening but comforted by Harry’s voice.

 

He was done playing nice, but he wouldn’t tell him.

 

“This was nice,” Harry told Tom very wistfully when they took the train back to Hogsmeade that night. It was a bit of a whim; apparating would have been a lot quicker but they could only enter the castle after curfew anyway and there was something about the ride that felt soothing to both of them.

 

“I’m not sure I agree,” Tom said drily, and Harry huffed and leaned his head against the window.

 

“All you have to do is tell me that you have an interest in having subsection 25b of the Aurors’ Code of Conduct revoked,” Tom said after some time and Harry smiled, a little sad, a little fond.

 

“You know that no Auror ever reads that thing, right?” he asked, and Tom laughed, a bit more relaxed than he had been since the last full moon.

 

“I think you have an idea what that particular subsection stipulates,” he said, and Harry turned to him, eyes warm and calculating at the same time.

 

“Even you can’t turn around that subsection so easily,” he said, and Tom shrugged, didn’t tell him that he was sure of Robards and Dumbledore’s support.

 

“Maybe,” Harry amended after some time, “I would like you to try.”

 

“I will,” Tom promised, and Harry crossed over to him, sat down next to him instead of facing him. He put his head on Tom’s shoulder and Tom wrapped an arm around him and they sat in silence for a long time.

 

--

 

“Tom,” Severus said quietly that night. Harry had already fallen asleep on the couch, one arm hanging down. Tom had sat down carefully on the armrest and had been studying Harry when Severus had come in after dinner and Severus had sighed and kissed Tom for a long moment, ghosted his lips over Tom’s temple up to his hair.

 

“Minerva talked to me today,” Severus said into Tom’s hair. He wouldn’t have needed to go on; Tom had expected something like this days ago. They had already been at Hogwarts for ten days and Tom knew it couldn’t go on like this. He had spent so much time on that goddamn walk; not to mention that he had to wait until after curfew to enter the castle.

 

“I’m going to book us a room at The Golden Feather,” Tom said. It was one of London’s top wizarding hotels and cost a fortune a night, but its security was superb, and Tom preferred never to think about money anyway.

 

“What will we do during the next full moon, Tom?” Severus asked, and Tom looked back down at Harry, shook his head. He had no answer and it was not something he liked to think about.

 

“Listen to me,” Severus said, “you’re not – in good shape. You need to stop taking my potions and sleep. You need to talk to me or Harry or some professional. I’m more worried about you than him right now and that’s saying something given the state his body is still in.”

 

Tom nodded, not up to discussing it. He had rebuilt walls he had thought to be torn down for good since the attack, since accepting that the attack was somehow tied to himself. There were days now then he wished that he had never been in that lift where he met Harry, where he wished that he had never started to care about either of them.

 

He didn’t know how to do it and it hurt so unbearably much.

 

Severus took his head in his hands, kissed him slow and carefully. Tom kissed back for a moment, before going up and away. He wasn’t up for sex. He brushed his teeth quickly, did his nighttime routine and then he climbed into bed, rolled in the middle. That was usually Harry’s spot, but he needed it tonight. Harry came in a few minutes later, tousled and not really awake and Tom rolled himself on his chest, let Harry hold him. Harry went back to sleep straight away but Tom just couldn’t, no matter the fact that he was so tired he felt sick with it. He got up eventually and searched for Severus.

 

“Do you have something I can take?” he asked, and Severus nodded, got him a potion and brought him back to bed, laid down next to him a short while later. Tom’s head was back on Harry’s shoulder and Severus spooned him from behind and Tom blinked and yawned and finally, finally fell asleep.

 

--

 

Harry was very annoyed at not going home though he hid it well. He stood straight next to Tom while he checked them in, gave the room a cursory glance; not impressed with the view, not impressed with the suite Tom had gotten them and then settled down in one of the armchairs staring moodily out of the window.

 

Tom didn’t talk to him, went to take a shower instead. He bowed his head under the warm water and closed his eyes and didn’t cry because it had been beaten out of him somewhere in the orphanage.

 

“Muggles,” Harry said from outside the shower stall. Tom started and hit his head and cursed lowly before telling the water to stop. A towel wrapped around him immediately and a soft warm wind dried his hair and Tom promised to himself to finally install the bathroom household spells once they were back at their place; this was very nice.

 

“Muggles, Harry?” he asked. Harry looked excited but also a bit apprehensive.

 

“Muggles,” he repeated, “leave no magical trace. There are Muggle werewolves. A Muggle could have opened our front door and walked right in and put a letter on our table, leaving no trace whatsoever.”

 

Tom frowned at him, not immediately catching on.

 

“Imperius,” Harry said quietly, “works very well on Muggles.”

 

Tom blinked. It explained – a lot. It certainly explained the letter and to a somewhat lesser extent the attack, but it still didn’t explain who did it and why.

 

“You might be on to something,” Tom said and went to get dressed.

 

“I’m going to the Mini-,” Harry started, then checked himself. Tom stopped and looked back at him, watched him rub his neck in embarrassment.

 

“I’ll tell him to come here,” Tom said quietly. He wasn’t keen on inviting Robards to the Hotel restaurant for dinner, given what it cost, but it was probably for the best.

 

--

 

“It could have been Muggles,” Robards said after some back and forth between Harry and him, “but if someone put a Muggle under Imperius, we should have known.”

 

“The spells are not failproof,” Tom said. Everyone knew it; it was quite easy to manipulate them.

 

“There’s CCTV in front of our house,” Harry said, “the area is popular. The house itself is under protection obviously; Muggles see an old pub that’s been closed for ages. But CCTV should catch someone going in and then vanishing in thin air.”

 

“I’ll check for it,” Robards promised. “The house is well explained with your Muggle theory. The attack on the other hand…”

 

“They didn’t use magic,” Harry said, ticking his arguments off on his fingers, “there was no magical trace of them. Greyback didn’t know who they were. Our databases didn’t know who they were.”

 

“Yes,” Robards said, “but Greyback is a liar, our databases are ridiculous, and they overpowered a fully-grown wizard.”

 

“I lost my wand at the very start,” Harry said. He looked unruffled, but Tom knew him better and silently leaned back in his seat to take another drink of his wine and also to slowly press his knee against Harry’s. Harry’s lips twitched but he didn’t otherwise react.

 

“Okay,” Robards said, “I’ll check with the misuse office. And our own department. If we’re lucky we’ve had an incident with Muggles. But I doubt it.”

 

“The Wizengamot session tomorrow,” Tom told him just before he left, “be there.”

 

Robards eyes run briefly over to Harry who was busy grabbing his wallet. He raised an eyebrow and Tom nodded.

 

“I’ll be there,” he promised and left.

 

--

 

“Shh,” Harry said when Tom struggled awake. Harry’s body was a heavy weight on top of him, his hard dick rubbing slowly over Tom’s hole.

 

“Harry?” Tom asked, confused and sleepy. He was so tired, but Harry’s cock felt so good and Harry’s hands on his shoulder blades felt warm and protective.

 

“Can I?” Harry asked, and Tom groaned, opened his legs wider. He was so wet and open; relaxed from sleep but he guessed that Harry had slowly, carefully, methodically opened him up and the thought made Tom whimper with arousal.

 

Harry pushed in slowly, sat back on his hunches. His hips rolled carefully and slowly, and Tom whimpered and moaned, more and more high-pitched. He’d once been embarrassed by the sounds he made, how feminine he sounded, but Harry and Severus both loved it and Tom let himself go, let himself feel. Harry was big and hard in him, rubbing at all the right places; Tom was so unbearably aroused, so relaxed and open, his hole greedily swallowing Harry’s cock.

 

His own cock had swelled, was hard and leaking between Tom’s belly and the mattress. He didn’t sneak down a hand, knew he was able to come like this, just from Harry inside him, taking care of him, fucking him slowly until Tom could feel his orgasm building at the base of his spine. His balls drew up and Harry groaned and leaned forward, fucking Tom a bit harder now. He quietly whispered the words to harden up his injury and Tom cried out, spilling suddenly. His orgasm was hard and left him keening and shaking, crying out when Harry kept fucking him, spilling again. They hadn’t had sex for a long time and Tom fell back and opened his legs wider, whimpered when Harry finished noisily inside him.

 

Harry leaned down, let himself rest on Tom until his softening cock slipped out. He pressed a kiss to Tom’s neck, then ear and Tom drifted off to sleep again, warm and comfortable while Harry cleaned them up.

 

--

 

There were different ways for getting regulations changes, a new legislation passed. Tom was a master at all of them. He had chosen a Tuesday on purpose; the proposal would come from Robards towards the end of the session, when lunch was already calling. The word werewolf was not to be uttered. Because it was a simply sub-section, it could be put on the agenda last minute; those present could vote and a simple majority would be enough. By the time they realized what they had done, a trickier road would lay ahead; to add a subsection was a lot harder than to detract one. Urgent business would keep away the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Once Robards proposed the amendment, Dumbledore would openly support it, saying it was past time. Of the fifty members of the Wizengamot, Tom thought it likely that not more than 30 would be present and of those, nobody was likely to know what exactly the subsection detailed. They would vote and by the end of the day, Harry would be back as Head Auror, sharing the post with Swolstky until he was fully fit for duty again. A short, simply announcement on the Ministry pages of the Prophet that were only edited by Ministry workers, not journalists; it was possible that it would get lost between all the job listings and regulation changes, would only draw attention once Harry was back to leading his first press conference.

 

Tom steepled his fingers and waited, leaned back to listen to the proceedings of the court. Court sessions first, parliament sessions after; it usually meant laws and regulations coming up short but today Tom wasn’t bothered by it.

 

Four hours later, the subsection was removed. 28 members of the Wizengamot voted yes, after Dumbledore had played his part, downplaying the importance and supporting the notion; no reporters were present. It had been an entirely uninteresting day for them with no TOPS on the agenda catching their attention. Tom smiled and waited to take a copy of the minutes, nodded once briefly at Robards, who grinned like Cheshire cat.

 

If the Prophet caught wind of it, it would blow up. Robards knew it, Albus knew it, Tom knew it, but they also knew that they had bought themselves months to push for greater understanding, greater acceptance. Harry would have to play an active role in mitigating prejudices, but he had been a public figure from the Halloween Massacre onwards; a baby stopping a killing curse Abraxas Malfoy had thrown at him – Tom had been there to seen it and sometimes he still didn’t entirely understand what he had witnessed that day.

 

He slammed the printed copy of the notes down in front of Harry. “Last page,” he said and went to take a shower, wasn’t surprised when Harry crowded against him still in sweats and shirt a moment later.

 

“You’re unbelievable,” he said and kissed Tom and Tom kissed back, still slightly raw from the night before. He moaned, and Harry fisted his cock, brought him off quick and dirty in the shower. “I love you,” he said against Tom’s throat and Tom closed his eyes against the burn, kissed Harry deeply.

 

--

 

“I’m cleaned to do part-time after the next full moon,” Harry announced a week later. They were still at the hotel; the floo and postal supervisions hadn’t brought any new clues. They had had a bit more luck on Harry’s Muggle theory front; there had been a case of a confused Muggle being found with traces of Imperius a day after the letter had reached their home. The CCTV tapes were still being watched; Tom was sure that it took so long because the Aurors were completely overwhelmed with the Muggle technology; the Department favored heavily on the pure- and half-blood side.

 

“Good,” Severus said, “but don’t overdo it. If you need less than part-time, I’m sure something can be arranged.”

 

Harry quirked his lips at him, mouthing “yes, Professor,” and Severus reached out for him, tugged him down to sit on his lap. “Naughty,” he said quietly, and Tom saw Harry shiver in response. He crossed his legs and went back to his paper.

 

He wasn’t comfortable having sex with Severus right now and he didn’t know why; he was tired of soul-searching, didn’t want to think about the reasons for him being unable to tolerate Severus’s touch right now.

 

Harry moaned a few minutes later, breathy and high. Tom looked up at them, saw Severus’s hand down Harry’s trousers. Severus was looking at Tom steadily, studying him.

 

“He’s avoiding me,” he said quietly to Harry while not breaking eye contact, “any idea why, Harry?”

 

“Ashamed of how he lost his cool after that letter,” Harry breathed out, leaning back to give Severus better access. He turned a little and gave Tom a lazy smile, full of promise. Something tightened in Tom’s chest seeing them like that.

 

“Is that so?” Severus asked quietly, “but Tom Riddle doesn’t get ashamed. Tom Riddle doesn’t –“

 

Tom got up, went to stand behind them. He grabbed Severus’s neck roughly, turned his chin up to look at him. Severus looked up and smirked at him, cocky and challenging and Tom growled at him, leaned down to kiss him harshly. The angle was off, and he went back around the couch, sat down next to Severus. Tom felt – unsure of himself, of his welcome, remembered the way Severus had been looking at him when he had locked them in. They hadn’t seen eye to eye on a lot of issues surrounding Harry’s care and it had brought them a lot of tension. Legally, it was Tom who decided what to do; behind the scenes, Severus was criticizing him for it constantly. For the first time ever, Tom had been jealous of Harry’s attention to Severus.

 

It wasn’t good. Still, Tom tried to hold on to the kiss, tried to turn it from punishing to something softer, more sensual. When Severus kissed down his neck, he shuddered; arousal, he told himself firmly, but had to admit five minutes later, that it wasn’t. Harry in Severus’s arms on the floor in Tom’s office; Harry sleeping with Severus’s hand clutched in his at the hospital when Tom just couldn’t get the time off; Harry asking for Severus first whenever he woke up in those first few days; Tom saying those horrible things and the fight they had had after Harry had disappeared to spend his shift alone – it was all a jumbled mess of memories he couldn’t switch off.

 

He wrenched himself back, away from them, breathing heavily. They misinterpreted; thought he wanted to take it to the bed and got up, too. Tom didn’t know what to say but he wasn’t hard, and they would notice. He knew a spell or two to make his dick hard, but he didn’t want to use them with them.

 

“Tom?” Severus asked when he didn’t move to join them on the bed and Tom turned around towards them, Harry’s golden skin and beloved face, Severus’s hairy legs and toned stomach. Move, he thought but couldn’t; he swallowed. Harry’s face started to frown, and Tom’s heart was beating so fast, running almost out of his ribcage.

 

“I have business,” he heard himself say, “sorry, I didn’t tell you earlier. Go ahead, though. Don’t wait up.”

 

“Tom, what-“ Harry started to say but Tom accio’ed his coat before Harry got the words fully out, strove out of the door without looking back. He made haste to get to the staircase, when the door to their suite flung open.

 

“Don’t,” Harry said; he sounded scared. “Don’t, Tom,” he said, and Tom stopped, couldn’t run away from Harry when he sounded like that, but couldn’t turn around either. A warm hand cupped his neck a moment later and then Harry stepped around him, didn’t let go off him as if he was afraid that Tom would disappear.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked, voice all soft and concerned and Tom swallowed, tried to swallow down the words and the anxiety and the jealousy and the anger.

 

“I really do have work,” he said but Harry pressed himself closer, pressed a little kiss against the corner of Tom’s mouth. “No, you don’t,” he said quietly, and Tom dropped his head down on his shoulder to not have to see him any longer.

 

“Did the two of you fight?” Harry asked, his other arm coming up to wrap around Tom’s waist. Tom said no against Harry’s neck and Harry stroked his thumb up and down Tom’s nape.

 

“Just tell me,” he said quietly, but Tom couldn’t; if he was honest about what was bothering him, he would have to address how inadequate he had been in taking care of Harry and that felt impossible; he was so scared of Harry not really forgiving him for saying those words, not being there, not knowing how to comfort.

 

“Later,” he said, “I do need to get going, Harry.” He detached himself carefully, smiled briefly at Harry even though the smile felt wrong on his face and turned around, didn’t look back at Harry, too afraid of what he would see on Harry’s face.

 

--

 

Tom apparated to Greyback’s – he liked to call it lair, but it was a very rundown stone-house at the very northern edge of Scotland – without making a sound.

 

It was one of the things, only he and Dumbledore could do; it was useful at times, to impress or frighten people or to keep Greyback from knowing he was coming. He wanted to know if Greyback was going to flee from him when he smelled him.

 

Greyback didn’t; he opened the door and smiled but one look in his eyes told Tom that it was fake bravado.

 

“What business, Fenrir,” Tom said softly, not bothering to raise his voice, “did you have with my husband?”

 

Fenrir still smiled, but he licked his lips; he was nervous.

 

“No business, my Lord,” Greyback said, “I just – wanted to get a little information on who the wolves were. Not any of mine, I’m happy to say. But, you know, bad publicity for our kind.”

 

Tom studied his fingernails, let the silence stretch and stretch until it become thick and uncomfortable. Greyback’s smile snapped back in place when Tom looked up, but Tom had seen the worry.

 

“What has me so worried, Fenrir?” he asked paraphrasing Greyback’s own words, “that I huff and puff?”

 

Greyback fiddled. Tom let him. The night grew darker.

 

“I thought the rumors, my Lord,” Greyback said very quietly. Tom smiled. He was a smart man; Lucius would have tried to deny saying those things if he was in Greyback’s position and it would have enraged Tom.

 

“Be a bit more precise, Fenrir,” Tom said, “what rumors would those be?” Greyback shuddered at his tone of voice and Tom shifted, just a little. Greyback shuddered again.

 

“About Azkaban, my Lord,” he said. Tom opened his mouth, then closed it again. He had fully expected Greyback to say about the Muggle-borns.

 

“What are you talking about?” Tom asked quietly, as quietly as he could.

 

“Well, the rumors, my Lord,” Greyback said. He sounded a bit confused and Tom motioned him to go on. “About Bellatrix and Abraxas,” Greyback said, hesitating now.

 

“What about them?” Tom said. He had cut ties with his old crowd after the Halloween massacre, had only remained in regular contact with a select few; most of these he had stopped seeing after he had gotten together with Harry.

 

“That they have escaped, my Lord,” Greyback whispered.

 

Tom didn’t say anything for a very long time.

 

--

 

“I’ve just been to Azkaban,” Tom said when he opened the suite’s door. He’d been gone for 45 minutes; as predicted, Severus and Harry were still up, not having sex but deep in a serious-looking discussion.

 

“What?” Harry asked. Severus raised a single eyebrow.

 

“Malfoy and Black have escaped,” Tom said.

 

--

 

“I don’t understand this,” Robards said for the fifth time. Albus quietly whisked his wand over the wands of the cell. Out of sight, Harry slipped his hand in the pocket of Tom’s robe.

 

“They must have been gone for months,” Albus said.

 

--

 

“I asked for emergency leave until the day after the next full moon,” Severus said, “Minerva said it had to be the last time, but she gave it to me.”

 

“Where can we bring him?” Tom asked.

 

“I’m right here,” Harry said, slightly annoyed.

 

“I’m sorry for not trusting your instincts,” Severus said. Tom breathed out heavily and then came closer and wrapped his fists in Severus’s shirt, kissing him.

 

“I’m – so sorry for so much,” he said and couldn’t go on and Severus covered Tom’s hands and gently squeezed them.

 

“We’ll be fine, Tom,” he promised, and Tom nodded, didn’t dare to say a word.

 

--

 

“Thank you for doing this, Albus,” Tom said again after Albus had put them under Fidelius for them to use his winter cottage and it’s very secure and sturdy cellar for the full moon.

 

Harry nodded his thanks; they had a few hours left and Harry hadn’t slept at all in the last days, was barely able to keep standing up.

 

They took turns rocking him in the coming hours, up until the shift started for real and it became too unsafe. Harry howled. Severus whispered to him. Tom checked and re-checked he wards.

 

“Hate this,” Harry said the next morning when Tom wiped down his sweaty chest. Tom didn’t answer, just kept wiping, thinking, once more, that he couldn’t do any of it, any of it at all.

Chapter Text

Harry was tired.

 

It was his second week back at the job. It was – great to be back even though the Prophet was running a smear campaign against him and Tom, publishing more and more ludicrous articles about what they planned to do to Muggle-borns and Wizarding Society and magic. But the department stood behind Harry so far; he had made sure to address rumors while Tom had given the Quibbler and the Prophet scathing interviews. It wasn’t great; there were protesters in front of the Ministry pretty much every day but for now, it worked.

 

There were a number of Aurors who were uneasy with Harry being back on the job. It was a more delicate situation and Harry made sure to give them some extra attention without being too obvious about it.

 

Malfoy’s and Black’s escapes were, for the time being, a state secret. Harry led a secret task force that did nothing else than trying to find a trace, any trace of them. Their escape would likely cause panic and Dumbledore had decided to give it two weeks and to reconvene after that. The deadline was next week and so far, Harry had absolutely nothing.

 

At least they were back home. Tom hadn’t really explained why he was fine with going back, but Harry was happy with it, even though he had to spend a whole afternoon with Tom building wards and signing in his magical signature, getting tutted at whenever he had to break off the string of Latin required.

 

“Sorry I’m not up to your level,” Harry had hissed at one point and Tom had stared at him, and then reached out and tugged at his hair. “Try harder,” he had said, “it’s important.” Harry had sighed at him and Tom had sent up a book about magical theory and warding that Harry had banned unopened into a corner of his office. Tom was just as bad as Severus in understanding that not everyone was equally smart or good at magic and not everyone wanted to be.

 

There was a sharp knock on his door. Tom entered his office – it was not really much more than a cubicle with solid walls – a second later, running his eyes over Harry. He always did that now, assessed Harry, and Harry rolled his eyes at him, annoyed by it. Sure, his bites hurt more than they did a week ago, but Harry was also more active, even though he was mostly taking it slow; there was no reason to be worried, and yet, Tom always was.

 

“I’m out for the rest of the day,” Tom said and entered the office, closed the door behind himself. He came around Harry’s desk and stroked through Harry’s hair before settling down at the edge of Harry’s desk. Formal robes, gloves, polished shoes – “Going somewhere special?” Harry asked. Tom didn’t smile in response, just kept looking at Harry, strangely formal and serious. “A meeting with Dumbledore,” he said, “I’ll be home very late. Don’t wait up.”

 

“Severus will be over,” Harry said. He had told Tom yesterday already, felt irritation built inside himself. “The minister hardly cares about my private life,” Tom said acidly, “I will have to postpone that talk you want to have.”

 

“Don’t do that,” Harry said quietly, “it’s obvious that you have a problem with Severus. Just deal with it, Tom. Stop running away.”

 

Tom didn’t say anything. A muscle in his jaw ticked. Harry’s heart felt heavy and sad.

 

“I’ll be seeing you,” Tom said and got up, stiff and strange. He didn’t lean down to kiss Harry, and Harry watched him go and sighed.

 

--

 

Severus cancelled on Harry when he heard that Tom wouldn’t be there.

 

“I have so many essays to correct, Harry,” he said, “let us meet during the weekend. Or will you mope all night?”

 

Harry rolled his eyes and cancelled the floo call. Then he moped.

 

It made him unhappy, unbearably so. He remembered his freak-out when Tom had so very cautiously introduced Severus to him, the bitter tears Harry had cried that night at Grimmauld, feeling cheated and betrayed. The slow way he had come to love Severus, how they had left behind their roles as teacher and student, how scared he had been when he had undressed for Severus for the very first time. Harry had fought with both Tom and Severus, had had serious fights with both of them individually, but in all their years together Tom and Severus had never had a fight that Harry had gotten to know about. He was scared; it couldn’t be for nothing. He couldn’t imagine being with just one of them, couldn’t imagine a life that he lived with both of them, but that Tom and Severus did not live with each other.

 

He tried to wait up for Tom but gave up around two. The bed felt big and lonely and he wrapped himself around Tom’s pillow in a show of defiance, hoping that Tom would wake him up when he came home. Harry had the next day off, only had to go to his weekly healer’s appointment to track his health progress now that he was back at the Ministry. Tom had said he would join him for it. Still, Harry lay awake for a long time.

 

--

 

“Time to wake up,” Tom said against Harry’s temple the next morning. Harry mumbled and stretched, not fully awake, but warm and comfy in Tom’s arms. He stretched a little and Tom nuzzled his neck, sucked and licked it lightly.

 

“When were you home?” Harry asked and arched up in Tom’s hands and mouth when Tom moved further down, teased one of Harry’s nipples into a hard, little pebble. “Late,” Tom answered and pushed the blankets away, was down at Harry’s hipbones now.

 

“Do we have time for this?” Harry gasped out when Tom licked a long, searing stripe up his cock. “I might kill you if we don’t.”

 

Tom laughed, and Harry whimpered. He loved this Tom; his relaxed and cuddly Tom and he had barely seen that Tom in months.

 

“Maybe I’ll leave you waiting for it,” Tom mused while his mouth travelled lower, sucked at Harry’s balls, “keep you waiting for it until tonight to really take my time with you.”

 

Harry fisted his hands in Tom’s hair and pushed up against his mouth. Tom grinned and run his hands over Harry’s abdomen, keeping him still, but didn’t touch his scars.

 

“Not my cup of tea,” Harry said, “I’m rather impatient.”

 

“Are you?” Tom asked him lowly, in a tone of voice that raised goosebumps all over Harry’s arms and legs.

 

“God, please get on with it,” Harry begged, and Tom laughed again, took him fully in his mouth. He sucked Harry for a long time and Harry pushed up and up, whimpering with it.

 

“More?” Tom asked him quietly and Harry spread his legs in response, hot and heavy and so fucking aroused that he could die with it. Tom stopped teasing him in turn, stretched him carefully but efficiently. He pushed in slowly and Harry moaned with it, grabbed Tom’s ass when Tom started fucking him. He wrapped his legs around Tom as best as he could, and Tom kissed him, cradling him as close as they could get, slowing their fuck to long, languid strokes up into Harry’s body.

 

It was intense, it was hot, it was intimate, and Harry turned his head to hide his face against Tom’s hair. They hadn’t fucked like this since Harry had gotten bitten and it was almost too much, almost too good.

 

And then Harry’s erection wilted, just like that. Again, there was no reason for it; it was stiff and hard one moment and the next, Harry’s cock was limp and shriveled up. Harry tightened his ass around Tom; he didn’t want this. He wanted it to be easy and about them being together, not about his own cock, but once Tom noticed; and there, already the first stutter of his hips; he would try to make it good for Harry and Harry didn’t want that, just wanted it to be good as effortlessly as it used to be.

 

“Please come in me,” Harry said, and Tom grabbed his neck, tugged him even closer. Harry whimpered again, and Tom’s hips picked up speed and then he was coming with a little grunt; he had been unusually quiet. They stayed close together; Tom didn’t draw out.

 

“Should I-“ he started to say, but Harry shook his head, said “no” immediately. Tom’s thumb stroked over his neck, up behind his ear and Harry turned his head to hide even more against Tom.

 

“Should have teased you after all,” Tom said, “until you were so freaking hot for me that you-“

 

Harry shook his head and Tom stopped talking. He was tenser now and Harry pushed against him after a moment, until Tom let him go.

 

“That’s much more Severus’s thing,” Harry said. Tom’s face closed off immediately and then he was up and walking over to their bathroom.

 

The rage that overtook Harry was entirely unwelcome, but he couldn’t stop it.

 

“Tom,” he bellowed, “is that how it’s going to be from now on? I can’t even mention him? I can’t even say one word about him without you-“

 

“Shut up,” Tom said, deadly quiet. “It’s between Severus and me. Don’t get in between, Harry.”

“But I am,” Harry said, feeling desperate and so unbelievably scared, “I’m all in between. Just talk to him, please. Why can’t you just talk to him?”

 

“I already did,” Tom said. He looked up and Harry felt his stomach drop so low, so, so, so low. He shook his head no, but Tom came closer, looking nothing like the Tom of 20 minutes ago. “We talked, Harry. I did deal with it last night, like you said. And we ended our relationship.”

 

Harry stared at him, unable to say a single thing, hold a single thought.

 

“But,” he said; he didn’t sound like himself at all, “the talk. We wanted to have a –“

 

“It’s just a talk to tell you,” Tom said quietly, “not a talk to discuss anything between the two of us.”

 

“No,” Harry said. He could barely get the word out and Tom’s face softened, his shoulders slumped.

 

“I didn’t want to tell you like that,” he said, “I’m sorry for not keeping my cool. This is not how I – how we wanted to break the news, Harry.”

 

“Please, Tom,” Harry heard himself say, “please, no.”

 

“Harry,” Tom said very softly, “it doesn’t change how I feel about you. How Severus feels about you. It doesn’t change how-“

“No,” Harry said again. He backed up, backed out of the bathroom, walked down the stairs. Tom followed him immediately but didn’t keep him from grabbing the floo powder, didn’t keep him from making the call.

 

“Severus?” Harry called, and Severus came into view after a moment, then stopped when he got a better look at Harry’s face, even distorted as it was by the flames.

 

“Please no,” Harry said again, uselessly, but there was no other thing he could say.

 

“Baby,” Severus said quietly, “I know it’s hard to hear but it’ll be fine. You don’t have to worry.”

 

Harry disconnected the floo immediately, struggled up. He felt – he wasn’t sure. There wasn’t enough air; there wasn’t anything. He felt numb and panicked at the same time, and when he looked up at Tom, Tom watched him with obvious worry.

 

“How can you do this to me?” Harry heard himself say; his mouth just said things and Harry couldn’t get it under control.

 

“I’m sorry,” Tom said, sounding hoarse.

 

Harry wrapped his arms around himself and then hunched over, moved to sit back down in front of the floo.

 

“Don’t Harry,” Tom said, “let us get you up to-“

 

“Leave me alone,” Harry said.

 

“Harry-“ Tom countered but Harry couldn’t.

 

“LEAVE ME ALONE,” he roared, and the windows shook with it, the flames of the fire licking over Harry’s bare skin. Tom looked at him a moment longer and then he turned around and went back upstairs.

 

--

 

At the healer’s practice, Harry sat still and quiet in a corner of the waiting room. Tom stood at the window, but he wasn’t looking outside; he was looking at Harry. Harry didn’t return his gaze; he had followed Tom almost mechanically, had allowed Tom to wash him and put clothes on him. He felt as if he couldn’t speak, as if he was underwater and the feeling didn’t disintegrate when he stood in front of the Healer, not able to utter a single word.

 

Tom’s hand pressed warm and insistent against Harry’s lower back.

 

“Harry had to hear some hard personal news this morning,” Tom said. He kept his tone perfectly civil, but Harry knew that he was raging mad at Harry’s silence. “I think he is still – in shock.”

 

“I’m sorry to hear,” the Healer said, “his health is improving, but the trauma associated with the injury can overwhelm him at any moment. If this is out of character for him, it would be best to get him comfortable and secure. I can look at his injury another time.”

 

“Harry?” Tom asked. Harry couldn’t look at him, just stared at his shoes. The silence stretched. Harry tried to open his mouth to make words come out of it, but it felt as if his jaw was sewn shut.

 

“A calming draught might not be amiss,” the healer said and came back with one a minute later. Tom handed it to Harry and Harry did want to take it, he truly did, but he just couldn’t; he couldn’t do anything. Tom held it against his lips; it was useless, and Harry turned his head away when he realized that he truly couldn’t open his mouth.

 

The healer did a more intensive check-up on him after that but couldn’t find anything amiss.

 

“If this persists throughout the day until evening, go to St. Mungo’s,” she said while Tom bundled Harry back up. Tom nodded, face tight. He wasn’t angry any longer; he was concerned now, and his eyes kept searching Harry’s face. All Harry could do in return was to stare blankly back at him.

 

Outside, Tom apparated them. They came out at Hogsmeade. Tom pushed Harry a little and Harry started walking up to the castle on autopilot. It was the middle of the day; the weather was still cold and harsh this far north. They couldn’t really visit during the day, but Tom calmly announced them at the gate. He kept a hand on Harry’s arm and gently drew him closer during the last steps, before they entered the castle on a side entrance; there, they went into one of the official visiting rooms. Tom lighted the fire without taking out his wand, before ordering a tea for Harry from the kitchens, before standing behind Harry and gently stroking his hair away from his face, massaging Harry’s temples and head.

 

Severus only came to see them after the class period had ended. He swept his gaze over Harry, then looked at Tom.


“What’s wrong?” he asked, didn’t come closer. Harry wanted to cry.

 

“I told him in a less than optimal way,” Tom said. He sounded formal and it pierced straight through Harry. “And he’s been almost completely unresponsive since. Not speaking, not able to hold things in his hands. I hoped seeing you would make it better.”

 

Severus looked at Tom. Harry could tell that he wanted to ask more but then he didn’t, came closer instead. He drew up a chair for himself to face Harry; Tom stepped away after a second when Severus took Harry’s face in his hands.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked very softly, and Harry felt the tears starting to flow, couldn’t stop them. Just silent tears; he still couldn’t make a sound. Severus tried wiping them away at first but then stopped; there were too many, as if Harry was made of a well of sadness.

 

“I know you’re sad,” Severus said, “you have every right to be sad. But you can still be with the both of us. We’re not making you chose if you don’t want to. Tom and I don’t hate each other. We can be civil with each other. We can see each other. It’s not as bad as you think, darling.”

 

Harry shook his head, still not able to say a word.

 

Severus briefly glanced at Tom and Tom came around Harry, stood behind Severus. His face was tight and unhappy.

 

“Healer told me to get him comfortable and safe,” Tom said after a moment, “I thought it would help him see you.”

 

“I think that went amazingly wrong,” Severus said. He sounded just as formal as Tom and Harry closed his eyes, tears still leaking out. He wanted to close his ears off, too.

 

It was all his fault.

 

The thought penetrated, went deep. If he hadn’t gotten attacked, the strain on their relationship wouldn’t have been there. They would still love each other. Tom and Severus wouldn’t have had to fight as much as they did.

 

It was Harry’s fault.

 

“Harry, do you want to lay down?” Severus asked. Harry didn’t look at them anymore, couldn’t. It was his fault, his fault, his fault. He had destroyed his family. He had – no one. He had destroyed it all; first his birth family because his parents had died trying to save him, then his chosen family during and after Hogwarts when he had started to go out with Tom and now his relationship by getting bitten.

 

He couldn’t listen after that. They talked to him, but Harry heard nothing, couldn’t react. There was an awful, heavy buzzing in his head that didn’t go away. At one point, Tom took his hand and tugged at Harry. They went back down the walk; apparated; came out at their house. Tom put Harry in bed, got a potion and a spoon and fed it to Harry, endlessly patient when Harry couldn’t get it down at first. Harry swallowed and choked and then finally, finally darkness.

 

--

 

He woke the next morning to his alarm. Tom wasn’t to be seen and Harry felt even worse immediately. He had work today; he got up still on autopilot, went to take a shower. When he came out of the stall, Tom waited for him in slacks and a lose shirt, clearly not dressed for work.

 

“I called in sick for you and me,” he said but Harry ignored him, went to brush his teeth before going back inside their bedroom to get dressed. His uniforms were a little loose, but they still fit him well enough. He had to go to work; he would shatter apart if he didn’t, if he didn’t pretend that his life was somehow still fine, still working.

 

“Harry?” Tom asked very quietly, but Harry didn’t react, went downstairs and then took the floo without looking back.

 

“I thought you were sick,” Swoltsky said when she saw him. Harry steeled himself: “I was yesterday,” he said. His voice sounded normal and even; it felt like a miracle, but Harry wasn’t going to question it. “But feel fine today.”

 

“Overprotective husband, then?” Swoltsky said and Harry smiled, nodded.

 

“What do we have today?” he asked and listened to Swoltsky’s status report as good as he could.

 

--

 

Severus was at their place when Harry came home. They were in the kitchen, not talking when Harry came out of the floo.

 

“Sit with us for a moment,” Severus said quietly. Harry shook his head and crossed his arms and stood still.

 

Tom and Severus shared one little glance with each other before Severus leaned forward.

 

“Can you try telling us how you’re feeling?” he asked, and Harry shrugged.

 

“No,” he said. His voice sounded hoarse; he had been fine at work and he scowled down at his shoes.

 

“But we would like to know, Harry,” Severus said, “we would like to discuss this. All three of us.”

 

“I feel bad,” Harry spat out and then refused to say anything else.

 

“Why?” Tom said after a moment. Harry rolled his eyes and huffed but didn’t look at Tom, kept looking down.

 

“Is there something you want to know?” Severus asked. “Something that’s unclear to you? Do you have some concerns you want to talk about?”

 

“You’ve already made your decision without me,” Harry hissed. He was livid; couldn’t contain it any longer, “you didn’t need my input when making it. Then you don’t need it now, either.”

 

“We do,” Tom said, “it’s my fault that you’re thinking that we didn’t want your input in the first place. We do, Harry. We wanted to sit down and discuss this, all three of us. I shouldn’t have told you the way I did, and I’m sorry.”

 

“Get back together, then,” Harry said, “that’s my input.” He still sounded angry, but there was pleading in it too, and he wanted to kick himself for not having himself under control.

 

“We need space right now,” Severus said, “we cannot – pretend to be happy with each other at the moment. We’ve had too many differences in the last few months. I know you could tell. We think this is better than trying to make it work when it’s not working right now.”

 

“Get back together,” Harry heard himself say. The anger had dropped all away; he was openly pleading now.

 

“Harry,” Severus said, clearly at a loss. Tom stood up and came closer and Harry immediately looked down, didn’t want Tom inside his head.

 

“We can’t,” Tom said, “not right now. Don’t do this to us. This is already very hard for us. I am still, and forever, extremely fond of Severus, but right now I want to kill him 95% of the time. We care about you and we want you to feel well, but you have to give us the same courtesy.”

 

“Get back together,” Harry whispered, “please, Tom. Please. Just please. Just-“

 

“Harry, stop,” Tom said and reached out and Harry stumbled back inside the floo, smashed their powder dose on his way. There was still enough of it for Harry to call out “Grimmauld Place” and then he was whisked away.

 

--

 

“Are you sure there’s nothing else I can do for you?” Sirius asked that night. Harry had fallen out of the floo and Sirius had found him in the parlor, had listened to his rambling, had taken him up into Harry’s old room and put him to bed and sat next to him while Harry word-vomited, while Harry let it all out, about Tom and Severus, about Sirius and Remus. After a while, Sirius had stretched out next to Harry and tugged him close, hugged him against his chest until Remus came home and found them like that. They had switched places and Remus had listened to Harry until he had run out of words.

 

“No,” Harry croaked, “thanks.”

 

“Anything, Harry,” Sirius said quietly and leaned forward to press a dry kiss against Harry’s forehead. Harry didn’t correct him, didn’t remind him that for years Sirius had been very far from giving him anything.

 

He barely slept that night, kept waking up. His throat closed off; he felt a fever coming on. He only found rest in the early morning hours, but still got up to get ready for work. He felt like death warmed over; Remus told him thrice to stay home but Harry shook his head, downed a headache potion and went.

 

Tom waited for him in front of the floos.

 

Harry tried to shoulder past him, but Tom gripped his arm, tugged at him until Harry came with him. He didn’t want a scene in front of half of the Ministry flooing in to work.

 

“You’re sick,” Tom said. Harry shrugged but evaded Tom’s hand that aimed for his forehead.

 

“Harry, I’m begging you,” Tom said. His tone of voice was very low, and he clasped Harry’s elbow, turned them even further away from Ministry workers arriving. “We’re not doing this to hurt you. It has nothing to do with you at all. People just fall out of love.”

 

This is my fault, Harry thought hysterically, but couldn’t say it. He tugged free of Tom’s hands and strove over to the lifts, took one before Tom had caught up with him.

 

At his office, he perused the morning reports, caught up with Robards. They had a few more avenues to check with regards to Black and Malfoy; Rodolphus Lestrange, former fiancé of Black had not been seen in months either and they wanted to interrogate his family today before meeting Dumbledore and Tom the next day.

 

Harry downed another cure-all and got to work.

 

--

 

The next morning, he couldn’t get up.


He was burning up, feeling sick to death. He tried telling his body to move, but it didn’t, and Harry started to panic. Remus checked in on him an hour later and talked to him, but Harry couldn’t even turn his head. He thought frantically that he needed Tom, but he couldn’t tell Remus and Remus went away and came back with a healer half an hour later.

 

Tom arrived two minutes after that; Harry felt so relieved, he could have fainted with it.  

 

Harry had trouble following their discussion; there was again a horrible buzzing in his head. Tom reached out and turned him over, spread him out on his back. The healer did spell after spell, drew some blood and shone a lumos into Harry’s eyes. Tom kept a hand on Harry’s head.

 

When the healer left with Remus, Tom leaned down to Harry’s eye-level, raising an eyebrow. Harry thought yes frantically and a moment later, he could feel Tom’s voice in his head, asking him what was wrong.

 

Don’t know, Harry thought, can’t move. I can’t move. Tom Ican’tmove Tom I -

 

Tom leaned forward, gently kissed Harry. “You’ll be just fine,” Tom said quietly and slowly, “Severus thinks it’s a reaction to the stress you’re under. Don’t freak out, Harry. I can hear what you’re saying even when you’re not saying it, okay?”

 

Help me, Harry thought, and Tom’s face darkened.

 

“I’m not leaving you like this,” he promised, “don’t be afraid. Try to relax and see if your body does move once you stop freaking out. Your system is just overloaded. You’ve been run-down. Breathe through it.”

 

That’s horrible advice, Harry thought but he felt a bit calmer and Tom smiled at him. Harry knew him well; the moment Tom led some of his guard down, smiled at him, he could see the strain. His heart rate accelerated almost immediately again, and Tom frowned at him, then picked Harry up and carried him bridal-style to the chair at the window, settling himself and cradling Harry close.

 

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” he said and then accio’ed an old book of Harry’s, let it hover in the air before them while reading it aloud to Harry. After fifteen minutes, Harry could curl a hand into Tom’s jumper, but Tom didn’t stop, just kept reading. Remus came in and listened to them for a moment, before leaving and Tom kept reading through that as well, kept reading until Harry got control back over his other hand, his arms, his legs and his head, until Harry was able to struggle up and cling to Tom for dear life.

 

“There you go,” Tom said, “fuck, Harry. What do I do with you?”

 

“It’s my fault,” Harry gasped out and Tom’s arms clenched around him, pressed him so close that Harry could barely breathe.

 

“Listen to me,” Tom said and then didn’t say a word until Harry whimpered.

 

“It’s not your fault,” he said, “it’s – me, mostly. I just can’t – talk to Severus right now. I’ve been so inadequate in taking care of you. I’ve been so horribly unable to talk to you or Severus about how I feel, and it’s taken its toll. It’s not your fault. I promise it’s not.”

 

“I need you to talk to him,” Harry gasped out, “I need-“

 

“Okay,” Tom said quickly, “I will. Harry, I promise. Just relax, please.”

 

“Did I miss the meeting?” Harry asked. He had started to shiver, then to tremble and now he was tremoring in Tom’s arms. Tom accio’ed the blanket from the bed and wrapped Harry underneath it, leaned down to kiss his nose.

 

“It’s in three hours,” Tom said, “but don’t think about that now. Just focus on calming down.”

 

His fingers were gently stroking over Harry’s face and Harry closed his eyes, tried to allow himself to be soothed.

 

He was jittery and sick with nerves, felt scared and clammy. Tom didn’t say anything, just kept stroking Harry. The door opened carefully; Remus and Sirius came in, floating a tray with breakfast foods and tea behind them.

 

“How are you, Harry?” Sirius asked. Harry turned his head away from them, suddenly horribly conscious of the state he was in. Tom drew the blanket up higher over his face, before smoothing down a very careful hand over Harry’s injured side.

 

“He can move again,” Tom answered when Harry didn’t say a word, “beyond that, pretty bad. I think we’re seeing St. Mungo’s today.”

 

“We can take you, Harry,” Sirius said quietly. Harry clenched his hand a lot harder into Tom’s jumper, suddenly nervous beyond thought that they would take him away, would-

 

“No,” Tom said, “calm down. Don’t get worked up again. I don’t care at all. If you want to go with Sirius, you go with him. If you want to go with me, I go with you. If you want all of us to go, we all go. As long as you go, I’m fine with it. It’s your decision.”

 

Something blossomed in Harry’s chest, something equally terrified and hopeful. He swallowed, chanced a look at Sirius and Remus.

 

“You would all come with me?” he asked.

 

Sirius shared a look with Remus, then looked at Tom briefly. “Yes,” he said, “Circe. Harry. I’m so sorry for the last five years.”

 

Harry breathed out all in a swoosh. He started shivering again but Tom didn’t say anything this time.

 

“And – and before that,” Sirius said. He barely got the words out, but then he straightened up. “I started therapy after you showed up at Christmas,” he said, in a very timid voice.

 

“Oh,” Harry said and then he scrambled up and out of Tom’s lap. Sirius met him halfway and then they were hugging, and Harry was fighting back his tears, and Sirius was probably too, and when Tom made Harry sit back down five minutes later, Harry felt three stones lighter.

 

--

 

The meeting went as well as predicted.

 

Harry was still slightly woozy from the meds they had given him at St. Mungo’s. It had been only him and Tom, and in the waiting area, Harry had put a head on Tom’s shoulder, had breathed out deeply when Tom wrapped an arm around him. He had heard a camera going off shortly after and Tom had barely disturbed Harry at all when he had lazily grabbed his wand. The camera had simply disintegrated, and Harry could guess that Tom had raised on challenging eyebrow and their photographer had scrambled; at least, he didn’t hear anything else of him.

 

“No clues,” Dumbledore repeated. Tom was standing behind him, once again looking outside the windows. Harry had a theory or two why Tom liked to look outside in tense situations, but Tom had never agreed or disagreed to them, so Harry was still mostly guessing.

 

Swoltsky shifted next to Harry, clearly nervous. Robards, the only one sitting down apart from Dumbledore sighed deeply.

 

“Nothing,” he repeated, “Potter and Swoltsky questioned about 50 former acquaintances. They looked up the Lestranges; they are not in the country. They tried to follow the traces we could still detect at Azkaban, but they’ve been gone for too long and their magical signature vanished still at Azkaban. The dementors have still no clue how the two of them escaped. We still don’t understand why the dementors didn’t notice them gone. Potter contacted every continental Ministry, but they have no records of Black or Malfoy entering their countries in the last year. Lucius testified under veritaserum that he doesn’t know where his father or sister-in-law are. He claims to have checked all Malfoy property abroad and there’s been no trace. To put it simply: we have no idea where they are.”

 

“And the attack on Head Auror Potter? The threats Mr. Riddle has received?” Dumbledore asked, running his eyes down Harry’s body.

 

“Can’t link it to them,” Robards said, “given the content of the threats and Greyback’s allusions, we still think it’s highly likely that it’s coming from them. But we’re lacking motive. Not to be blunt, but taking on Mr. Riddle seems like a phenomenally bad idea, especially if you’ve been in Azkaban for – how old are you again, Harry?”

 

“33,” Tom answered absently from his window before Harry could open his mouth.

 

“For 32 years then,” Robards said, “all former allies of them are claiming not to have heard from them or visited in just as long. Apart from possibly the Lestranges, they appear to be operating alone. I doubt that they’ve been following Harry’s career either, but he is a more than capable Auror. It’s just very unclear why they would take those risks. What are they hoping to gain?”

 

“Maybe there’s no clear goal,” Swoltsky said, “based on the threats Mr. Riddle received, they might think he’s been responsible for them being put in Azkaban. Maybe it’s just – petty revenge.”

 

“Yes,” Dumbledore said, “maybe.” He turned to look at Tom, briefly locking eyes.

 

“Greyback?” Tom asked quietly.

 

“Gone in hiding,” Robards said, “probably northern Scotland. We have no reason to assume that he’s in cohorts with them, but rather trying to not have to deal with my department looking to closely at his business. We have decided against locating him at the moment. His pack has gone with him; to be secure I would need to send out half of my department to make this mission a success.”

 

“What are your proposed steps forward?” Dumbledore asked.

 

“Going out publicly with it,” Robards said, “that will very much raise the changes of getting new clues. Also, we must think that they are dangerous. We cannot know if they have wands, but in the absence of knowing I would be more comfortable with thinking that they are armed. Additionally, the task force right now is big – too big without clear new evidence. I would propose putting Head Auror Potter on it full-time with Head Auror Swoltsky assisting only if necessary. A team of three Aurors assisting Mr. Potter should be enough at the time.”

 

“Do you agree with that, Mr. Potter?” Dumbledore asked.

 

Harry straightened up a little. “Yes, Sir,” he said, “the assessment is sound. We can’t link them to any crimes since they have escaped, nor can we find any lead to follow at the moment. We need the public for more clues. We could also think about putting an announcement in the Prophet for Greyback to contact us. I doubt he knows much more than he’s let on already, but I have a few follow-up questions.”

 

“And you’re fine with leading an investigation with potential personal ties?” Dumbledore asked.

 

“Yes, Sir,” Harry answered. At the window, Tom shifted.

 

“Tom?” Dumbledore asked.

 

“It’s Harry’s professional decision,” Tom said, “but I would keep in mind: if they are playing a game they are vastly ahead of us. Harry leading an investigation could be another stepping stone for them.”

 

“Noted,” Harry said. Tom smiled at him briefly and Harry relaxed a little, knew he had Tom’s support.

 

“Press conference to be held when?” Dumbledore asked. He was all business now and Robards stood up.

 

“Tomorrow morning at nine,” he said, “I want to have every major news department there. The more publicity, the sooner we might get clues.”

 

“One last thing,” Tom said after they had all shaken hands, “something that has fallen a bit under the table. The night Harry got attacked; Gawain and I agreed that the whole setup looked as if someone was preparing for a dark ritual.”

 

“Yes,” Robards said, “but we also thought that we had interrupted them. You collected all blood, didn’t you?”

 

“I did,” Tom agreed, “but I can’t shake the feeling that we are missing something. There are rituals that do not require more than the mere spilling of blood.”

 

Harry knew he had something specific in mind, something he didn’t want to share with the group.

 

“I’ll look into it,” he promised.

 

--

 

Outside of Dumbledore’s office, Tom said his goodbyes quickly before striding away. They had agreed before coming in that Tom would pick up Harry in an hour and Harry went down to the Auror department with Swoltsky, further discussing the case.

 

“You know,” Swoltsky said just before leaving for her own cubicle, “we haven’t had an official interview with your husband yet. We probably should.”

 

It gave Harry a moment’s pause. “Yes,” he said, “I think you’re right. Tomorrow at noon?”

 

“I’m officially off the case,” she said and winked at him before leaving.

 

--

 

“An official interview with me?” Tom repeated the next day. Harry had gone home with him the night before, but they hadn’t talked about Severus; Harry had conked out pretty immediately and Tom had only woken him up to coax him from the couch to bed.

 

“Yeah,” Harry said and ignored the fluffy eggs Tom put in front of him in favor of the cereal he had poured before Tom had come down to make breakfast.

 

“Stop eating that junk,” Tom said; Harry glared at him.

 

“What do you want to know?” Tom asked.

 

“A number of things,” Harry said, “that I will tell you during our official interview. At noon. At your office. My department would be deep in your debts if you would provide its Head Auror lunch.”

 

“Only if he eats his eggs,” Tom said. He was still watching Harry as if he tried to make up his mind.

 

“When will you be home tonight?” Tom asked after a moment.

 

“Can’t say for sure,” Harry said, “I’ll do the presser now, then come visit you and then will probably have to throw out reporters for the rest of the day. So late?”

 

“You’re still on part-time,” Tom said, “don’t overdo it. Yesterday was – scary, Harry.”

 

“I won’t,” Harry promised. He was running late and got up, eggs only half-eaten. “See you later,” Harry said and left in a hurry.

 

--

 

“Fuck,” Harry said. Laying down on Tom’s couch felt heavenly and Harry groaned, turned on his uninjured side. He was dizzy again and slightly nauseous and Tom’s hand felt very cool on his forehead.

 

“That bad?” Tom asked. Harry groaned again. “The headlines will be brutal,” he warned, and Tom snorted, clearly not surprised.

 

“Sorry for running so late,” he said, and Tom huffed. “You don’t really think that I expected you to be on time?” Tom asked and sat down at Harry’s head. Harry pushed himself to lay down in Tom’s lap, groaned again when Tom started massaging his aching temples.

 

“You worry me, Harry,” Tom said quietly. Harry hummed in agreement, already so tired that he knew he would fall asleep within the next two minutes if he didn’t get up. But his muscles were so heavy; Tom’s couch was so comfy, and Tom’s hands were so –

 

“Wake up, Harry,” Tom said into his ear. Harry blinked, disoriented and still tired. Tom was in his coat, wand in his hand, waiting for Harry to struggle awake.

 

Outside, it was dark.

 

“Fuck,” Harry said, “what time is it?”

 

“Eight,” Tom said.

 

“Tom,” Harry said, upset. He tried to struggle out of a blanket Tom had put on him, uncoordinated with the angry haze that settled on him.

 

“You didn’t look well,” Tom said, “I think you’re overdoing it. You were supposed to be done by lunch; it’s not like I kept you from your job.”

 

“You don’t get to decide that,” Harry said, “it’s my job and my health. You can’t just let me sleep in because you think I need it - which I don’t.”

 

“Yes, you do,” Tom said, “you’re not yet well, Harry. You’ve been doing a lot more than part-time. And we haven’t talked about – our personal lives, either. Healthy people don’t wake up in the morning unable to move.”

 

“Shut up,” Harry said. It had been the only thing keeping him together in the last few days, focusing on work, not trying to focus on his private life. Harry buried personal problems under work; it was his way to cope.

 

“I’m not shutting up,” Tom said, sounding a lot less concerned and a whole lot more annoyed, “I’m allowed to weigh in on your health. You work or you sleep. That’s not normal and you know it! It’s a constant cycle of being too tired to do anything and then pushing yourself too hard and then breaking down in hysterics. Harry!”

 

But Harry didn’t wait, didn’t want to hear it. He was burning with anger, let it wash over the parts of him that wanted to agree with Tom. He was out of the door and Tom didn’t come after him, without doubt not willing to have his department gossip over their boss’s relationship. Harry made his way down to the Auror department quickly. As expected it was chaos and he helped out with sighting new clues, placating concerned wizards and witches and throwing out the occasional reporter until late at night.

 

When he floo’d home, the house was dark and empty, and Harry went to sleep on the couch.

 

--

 

2 pm is fine, Tom’s secretary had written to answer Harry’s memo asking for an official interview with her boss. Harry tried not to be irked by the reply; Tom always replied to him directly even if it was official business.

 

At 2, Harry was told to wait. He blew out air through his nose, trying hard not to turn around and march out and send Primpelken instead. It took 10 minutes before Lucius Malfoy left Tom’s office, superior sneer fully directed at Harry.

 

“Are your stars sinking, Potter?” he asked silkily, and Harry ignored him, shouldered past him inside Tom’s office.

 

It was Mr. Riddle looking back at him, not Tom. He coolly indicated a place for Harry to sit, before leaning back and crossing his fingers in front of him, waiting for Harry to start.

 

“Where were you last night?” Harry asked.

 

Tom raised on elegant, mocking, infuriating eyebrow.

 

“Is that the official business you’re here for?” he asked in his office voice. Harry’s jaw was so clenched, he felt close to breaking off his teeth.

 

“Nevermind,” he said, “Abraxas Malfoy and Bellatrix Black. How would you describe your relationship with them?”

 

“Non-existent,” Tom said, “given that they’ve been at Azkaban for over 30 years.”

 

“And before that?” Harry asked. It helped to settle into Head Auror Harry; it allowed him to meet Tom’s stare head-on.

 

“Fraught with tension,” Tom said after a moment, “Abraxas had been impressed with me when I met him through Lucius. He thought me – easily pursued to join his political efforts to ban Muggle-borns entry to our world. He had high hopes that I would rise easily through the ranks at the Ministry along with his son to form an alliance that would grant him greater influence. Bellatrix was mostly – looking to fuck me, if I may be blunt.”

 

“What?” Harry said. Tom smiled at him, all teeth and anger.

 

“Yes, Mr. Potter,” he said, “she wanted me to marry her. She was quite obsessed with the idea. She had been put down to marry Lestrange since she’d been a young child, but she kept refusing that obligation until she was put away. She dosed me with Amortentia at least ten times.”

 

“How did you end up not marrying her?” Harry asked.


“I’ve become quite immune to it,” Tom said and smiled again. It looked scary and Harry looked down at his papers, feeling unsettled.

 

“You didn’t want to honor her interest?” he made himself ask; he needed a full picture.

 

“She was a brilliant witch,” Tom said, “and very smart. Two characteristics that I enjoy in a partner. Yet, she was a woman and I find myself firmly uninterested in them. Also, I did not want to become a part of Abraxas’s wider family. And I was already in another relationship that kept me quite fulfilled.”

 

“How did she react when you refused her advances?” Harry asked, ignoring the quip about Tom’s preferences. He knew he wasn’t particularly smart or brilliant with magic and Tom’s words stung. He also didn’t want to talk about Severus; his throat closed up just thinking about it.

 

Too emotionally invested, he thought and wanted to cry with it.

 

“She wasn’t deterred by it,” Tom said, “a no means nothing in Bellatrix’s world.”

 

“What happened before the Halloween massacre?” Harry asked. Tom smiled again, openly mocking now.

 

“You mean from when I started Hogwarts?” he asked innocently, “or the years in between? Do you want me to detail the six years between me finishing school and the massacre taking place? I’ve met them hundreds of times; I saw Abraxas daily. Are you interested in all those events?”

 

“I’m interested in everything you might find relevant with regards to clarifying if they wanted revenge,” Harry said, making his voice as emotionless as possible. Tom was thinking him stupid and the interview a waste of time and it – hurt much more than Harry could afford to think about right now. “I have a newspaper clipping here,” he said, “the day after they were sentenced. Abraxas was walked out screaming that Riddle would pay for this. Bellatrix was stated that they put away the wrong person, that they should have put away you. What made them say that?”

 

Tom was silent for a moment, watching Harry.

 

“Can I be prosecuted for anything I am saying during this interview with regards to the Halloween massacre?” he asked, and Harry’s heart stopped beating.

 

“No,” he said. It had been over 30 years; any claims would likely be ruled to the outlawed by now.

 

“Good,” Tom said, “I told them we needed violence to move forward. I let them think that I would personally get involved in fighting people that day; that it was a stepping-stone to taking over full control of the Ministry, of society. I told them that the time for talking was over; that we needed to escalate the situation before our enemies could prepare themselves.  I told them to specifically target the leaders of the Order of the Phoenix – Sirius Black, your parents, the Longbottoms.”

 

Harry realized dimly that his quill had stopped recording Tom’s words; he couldn’t make himself redo the spell.

 

“What?” he heard himself say. He wasn’t Head Auror any longer; he was just Harry and his life was crumbling before his eyes.

 

“I thought it was a perfect way to get rid of them,” Tom said, “I never planned on participating. They were – pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t find a way to distance myself from them that would have still allowed me to continue the work I was pursuing at that time; work that was very important for me. I knew they would be overwhelmed, locked away. I had never told them to use deadly force.”

 

“Tom?” Harry heard himself say. He sounded – young and shrill and scared and for a second, the calm mask on Tom’s face broke but then it was back in place.

 

“Not what you hoped to hear, I imagine,” he said and then looked away from Harry, looked down at his shoes. “Afterwards, I pretended they worked alone. I blackmailed the others of our group; if they wanted to keep out of Azkaban, they needed to play along. It’s – it wasn’t-“

 

“You killed my parents,” Harry said, horrified. A hundred times Sirius had said a variation of it to him and not once had Harry believed him.

 

Tom jerked as if slapped, looked up startled.

 

“I didn’t,” he said, “it’s not my fault it got out of hand. I couldn’t-“

 

“When they tortured the Longbottoms to insanity you didn’t step in,” Harry said. He had gotten up; his wand was in his hand and Tom was eyeing it, “when they injured more than a hundred people, eighteen of them fatally you didn’t step in. When Zabini and Crabbe and Goyle and MacAvon and Farrarbone and all the others cordoned off the area and attacked Aurors and shot curses blindly, you didn’t tell them to stop. When they pursued people, you didn’t step in. When they cornered my parents, all reports said you were with them. You saw my parents get killed and you would have watched me get killed and you didn’t – you didn’t-“

 

“It got out of hand,” Tom hissed, up on his feet now too, “it was pure fucking chaos. The Aurors themselves killed two innocent protesters in the madness! I’m just one person; I couldn’t have waved my wand and it would have been over. They were in some kind of – blood frenzy. They would have killed Severus and me if I had stepped in! You can’t remember but it was-“

 

“Severus,” Harry said. His stomach was doing somersaults or something similar, twisting itself up.

 

“What did Severus – what did he do?” Harry asked. The anger and the rage were gone, just like that; all that was left for Harry was panic, horrible panic that it was both of them.

 

“Harry,” Tom said. He sounded very urgent, reached out a hand.

 

“DON’T TOUCH ME,” Harry screamed. He was hyperventilating.

 

“Harry, listen,” Tom begged, “I didn’t – it wasn’t-“

 

“Severus,” Harry choked out, “did he know about it? Tell me.”

 

Tom hesitated, just a split second.

 

No,” Harry whispered, and turned around and run.

 

--

 

“Easy,” Severus murmured and wiped over Harry’s sweaty forehead. Harry heaved again, threw up noisily. All that was left was bile, but it hadn’t stopped the heaving. He hadn’t wanted to come, but he couldn’t lose both of them; he needed to talk to Severus.

 

“Drink my potion, please,” Severus said again, but Harry didn’t want the stomach soother; he wanted to throw up until there was nothing left of him.

 

“Harry, please,” Severus coaxed, “drink it and let us talk. I watched the memory. I want to ask a few things.”

 

Harry whimpered again. Severus’s hand was warm on his aching tummy, stroking slowly.

 

“I think you will benefit from what I have to say,” Severus said, “soother, please.”

 

Harry grabbed it and downed it. His stomach settled immediately, leaving behind the most hollow, aching feeling Harry had ever experienced.

 

Severus made him sit down on his couch, covered him with a blanket, before taking his armchair, facing Harry.

 

“I know you’re upset,” Severus said, “but can you listen to me? Are you with me? It’s important.”

 

“Yes,” Harry made himself say. It wasn’t really true and from the way Severus sighed, he knew it.

 

“Tom didn’t kill your parents,” he said.

 

That got Harry’s attention.

 

“What do you mean?” he asked, forbidding himself to hope.

 

“He did rile our group up, yes,” Severus said, “that’s on him. But he never anticipated how bad it would get. He didn’t factor in that others would follow Abraxas’s and Bellatrix’s lead. He was just 23 at the time, Harry. He couldn’t imagine that they would really attack – young parents, innocent protesters. When it happened, he was a hundred percent overwhelmed. That’s not an excuse for what he did, but maybe it’s a bit of an – explanation.”

 

“I – I-“ Harry said. He wasn’t sure what to think at all; it was all so – much and he –

 

“Darling, quiet,” Severus said softly. He stood up, sat down on his couch table, took Harry’s hands in hand.

 

“He would have intervened,” Severus said quietly, “but it was a test on both sides. Abraxas was suspecting that Tom wanted to end their liaison. When Tom entered Hogwarts, he was – impressionable, Harry. He hated what had been done to him at the foster homes, at the orphanage. He thought mistreating kids was something only Muggles did. He was so very enamored with Wizarding society at first. But then he found out that Abraxas used to torture Lucius for discipline. Tom didn’t want to believe that something like that could happen in Wizarding society. When he had to face up to the fact that wizards or witches were not automatically better people it – was really hard for him to bear. After that, he couldn’t go back to looking up at Abraxas. They had done – some experiments together. Abraxas had a lot of dirt on him. Tom couldn’t just walk away; he needed a strategy and that’s the one he came up with.”

 

“But he didn’t intervene,” Harry said, “he didn’t – he-“

 

“He would have intervened,” Severus repeated, “but Bellatrix had a wand on my neck. She didn’t kill anyone that day, because she was using me to get Tom to comply. He didn’t intervene because he needed to decide between the lives of strangers and mine. You know him well enough to know whom he chose. Abraxas did do all those things he went to Azkaban for. Bellatrix, we set up together in the aftermath.”

 

The door clicked open. Severus wheeled around, but Tom had him disarmed before he could fire a shot.

 

Tom looked – horrible.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I couldn’t keep waiting. I had to talk to you. I need to talk to Harry; I’m so sorry for telling you the way I told you, I’m so-“

 

“Obliviate me,” Harry said – begged. He was shaking like a leaf, struggled up from the couch, walked straight over to Tom and grabbed his wand hand, pressed Tom’s wand against his temple.

 

“What?” Tom asked, completely toneless. Severus said Harry’s name, but Harry didn’t react at all.

 

“I love you so much,” Harry said. He felt no shame any longer for anything, only blind, overwhelming panic. “But I can’t be with you after what you told me today. Just obliviate me, please. I want to keep – loving you, please. You’re my family, please just-“

 

“Shut up,” Tom begged. “Shut up, please, shut up. I’m so sorry – I’m so sorry. Let me explain more – let me-“

 

“My dad,” Harry gasped out, “my mom.

 

“Harry, please,” Severus said. He had stepped closer, wrapped an arm around Harry’s tummy, gently tugging. Harry struggled against him, ripped himself free, turned towards the door. Severus and Tom were standing there, looking at him, side by side. They looked – devastated but all Harry could remember was the cupboard he’d grown up in, how happy he had been when Tom asked him to marry him.

 

A lie from start to finish; that was all his life was.

 

“Don’t follow me,” Harry said, “just – do this one thing for me. Don’t follow.”

 

Then he left.

 

--

 

Harry walked.

 

He had left Hogwarts, had made a turn to get to the lake and then he had continued on, had continued deep into the Forbidden Forest. He just walked; hopefully north, but he didn’t really care; as long as he left them behind, he was fine.

 

He had clenched his ring for much of the way, had only been able to let go of it half an hour ago when he remembered the picture he’d seen once; it had been unavailable to the public, but as Auror Harry had once spent an afternoon going through the old files of his parents’ case.  

 

The picture had been taken after the Aurors had managed to secure the area; his mom and dad, lying dead side by side. Harry, a little older than a year, had been sitting in between them, fisting his little hands in his mom’s hair, a crying, blubbering mess with a bleeding scar. His parents had both looked – horrible, panic and fear in their eyes, bodies twisted and broken.

 

That night, he’d come home to Tom; they had been dating for two months. Harry’s mood had felt a little too heavy to bring it into his new relationship, but he had wanted desperately to not be alone and Tom had soothed him without once asking what the matter was. Harry had known after that night that he wanted it to work between them, desperately.

 

Now, all he wanted was to cry; but he didn’t; kept walking instead.

 

--

 

Tom had begged Harry to spend the full moon down in Tom’s cellar. It wasn’t Harry’s cellar, not right now. He wasn’t sure – how to forgive something so monumentally big that it was almost impossible to even think about it.

 

He had been at work; if he wasn’t at work, he was waiting to go to work.  He had taken endless walks through London, watching spring give back some color to the city, feeling numb. He had slept at the Leaky; he couldn’t go to Sirius and Remus, didn’t want to face them, tell them what had happened. He had pretended to pursue further avenues regarding Malfoy and Black, but he hadn’t, not really. He hadn’t finished the interview with Tom; there had been other, essential questions that he thought he needed to ask before he could try to find them, especially regarding the dark ritual Tom had hinted at. He’d done the meaningless things instead, trying to track them without a clear idea where to search, shifting through the clues from the public. He hadn’t found anything tangible yet.

 

His heart was constantly, insistently breaking.

 

Tom had visited, every day. He had written letters every day that Harry collected unopened on the desk in his miserable room at the Leaky. Tom had talked and begged and threatened and Harry hadn’t given him a single word. Severus approached the matter differently, had not pressured Harry, had not tried to get in touch; Harry wasn’t sure what was worse.

 

The bites hurt as badly as they had hurt in the first, the second month after the attack.

 

“Hey,” Tom said when he opened the door in the afternoon of the full moon. He looked rough. Harry nodded once and went downstairs, sat down inside his cage. Tom brought him food and drinks, watched him quietly, left when Harry turned his body and face away from him.

 

Tom was there while Harry shifted, and Harry almost bit his tongue right through, but he managed it; he didn’t make a single sound throughout it all until the madness swept him away.

Chapter Text

Severus had had a massive, pounding headache since the last full moon, a headache so horrible that it made teaching almost unbearable.

 

Harry was still not answering any of Tom’s inquiries; Severus knew because Tom had asked him to meet him at Rosmerta’s yesterday. He had been sitting in a little cubicle, far away from the other patrons under more than one privacy charm and Severus had quickly understood why; Tom was very much at the end of his rope.

 

“I can’t reach him,” he had said as if the words were wrung from him. Severus had forbidden himself to reach out and clasp his hands but when they had gone outside to say goodbye, they hugged, and it had been a frenzy from then; Tom crashing their lips together, Severus biting him, their hands inside their trousers, a rough fuck against the wall that Severus was sure Tom still felt.

 

They hadn’t looked each other in the eye after it and Severus wasn’t sure if he was disappointed in losing his cool or if he didn’t even care enough to bother; he knew they weren’t done, knew that his attraction to Tom Riddle was as sure as the rising sun, knew that he would not ever say no to a hug or a kiss or a fuck with Tom.

 

It was only a problem if he felt as if it was one and Severus had long ago decided that with regards to Tom, normal standards didn’t apply.

 

With regards to Harry on the other hand everything was an unmitigated disaster and Severus stared at his fifth year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws willing them to work faster. Last period of the day; he would have about fifteen minutes to floo Tom to find out if Harry had resurfaced as scheduled at work today. Then dinner and then he could go once again to London to discuss the next steps if Harry hadn’t been in.

 

Merlin, he really hoped that Harry had been in; the slow, draining panic of losing Harry for good was surely picking up steam with every hour that passed without Harry being seen by either Tom or Severus, Sirius or Remus, Robards or the department.

 

“He was in,” Tom said the second the call connected. Severus breathed out more than one breath. “Looked like death warmed over. He took a room at the Leaky. He doesn’t want to talk to us.”

 

“Good,” Severus said, “I’m glad to know he’s going to work. Did you ask him if we could meet?”

 

“He wants time,” Tom answered.

 

“Not a clear no?” Severus asked, and Tom hesitated, swallowed.

 

“I think you should take over,” he said quietly, not looking at Severus. “Harry’s clearly – struggling more with my involvement.”

 

Severus kept silent for a moment, waited until Tom looked back up.

 

He could placate him, say something along the lines “only because he cares more about you,” but he didn’t, even if it was the truth; Harry did care more about Tom, but Tom deserved every hour of asking himself how he could have told Harry the way he had done.

 

“I’ll try tomorrow,” Severus said and disconnected their call.

 

--

 

Harry looked rough when he finally agreed to meet with Severus. It was already a week after the full moon, but Severus didn’t even need to touch his forehead to know he run a fever. Tom’s owls had already told him that Harry was not doing well at work, was clearly overworked and stressed out.

 

He stared at me for fifteen minutes in the cafeteria, Tom had written yesterday, and he looked ready to keel over. Please try to get him home tomorrow; I’m begging you, Severus.

 

“Want to get some food?” Severus asked. Harry shrugged next to him and Severus didn’t even need to use his legilimency to know that it must have been days since Harry had had eaten.

 

He small-talked while they went to an Italian place, ordered. Severus didn’t censor Harry when he asked for a red wine even though he doubted that alcohol would help Harry in any way right now. Severus kept small-talking all throughout dinner, watched Harry try to force down his food in infuriatingly small, slow bites. Harry gave up when he had cleared about a third of his plate and Severus told himself to remain calm; Harry had always had food issues born out of his childhood and it wasn’t Severus’s place to comment on his eating habits, not right now.

 

They ordered another wine.

 

“You know that there are some heavier topics I’d like to talk about,” Severus said quietly. Harry had become a bit more animated in the last twenty minutes but at Severus’s words he deflated abruptly, body hunching down and over, making himself smaller. He looked – miserable wasn’t even an adequate word for it and for all his famed vocabulary, Severus wasn’t sure how Harry looked.

 

“Listen,” Severus said, kept his voice light and soothing, “I know that you feel completely adrift right now, floundering in your emotions, not able to feel them without breaking apart under the pressure. You’re bottling them up – that’s understandable. But if you want to find a way back to us, you must talk about them.”

 

“I can’t,” Harry said. There was so much pain in his voice; Severus’s felt his heart clench. Three hours ago, he had still believed that Tom was exaggerating but here Harry was, closer to breaking down than Severus had ever seen anyone. This was as bad as his mother had been the day his father had finally beaten her to death.

 

“What’s the worst part,” Severus asked, “with regards to everything you had to hear in the past couple weeks?”

 

Harry didn’t look up at him any longer; Severus knew he wouldn’t again for tonight.

 

“Tom had six years to tell me,” he said. His voice was barely above a whisper. “You had five. How could you not tell me?”

 

“It was our shared desideratum to get you to love us,” Severus said quietly, “it was a secret too big to tell when we started dating. And then it became more and more unfathomable to share it with you. We didn’t want to hurt you. We didn’t want to face what we’d done. There are no excuses, and no explanation that could truly satisfy you, because I don’t have any besides being scared that you couldn’t love us back after hearing. And us being sure you would never find out.”

 

“How could you make me bear this,” Harry said. He was completely toneless; Severus heart started beating faster. “How could you make me love you so much that I think I can’t exist without you only to tell me now? That’s – emotional blackmail. You’re manipulating me. You’re-“

 

“We’re not,” Severus said, “there’s no overarching plan, Harry, there’s no goal, there’s no-“

 

“You don’t understand,” Harry interrupted. There were two spots of color high on his cheeks. “I can’t understand how you could ever bring me into this situation. How could you make me fall in love with you when knew you had a secret that would destroy me if I ever found out?”

 

Because we’re unbearably selfish, Severus thought but didn’t say aloud, even if it was the only true answer.

 

“I don’t know,” he said instead, “we didn’t think it through. I don’t think either one of us did understand how you would feel about it and-“

 

“Obliviate me,” Harry said. Severus’s heart plummeted somewhere close to his shoes. “I said it before. I’ll say it again. I can’t – I need to forget. Please, just do it. You have my express permission to-“

 

“Harry,” Severus said and then reached out and clasped one of his hands. His mind was whirling; he had trouble finding even one word suitable to the situation at all.

 

“Why did he tell me now?” Harry said on a sob and Severus’s heart clenched so hard he thought he had a heart attack. “Why did he tell me like that – as if – as if he didn’t care for me at all, why wouldn’t he-“

 

“Harry,” Severus interrupted. Something in his voice got Harry to look up and Severus stared at him, lips pursed. “I think I just figured it out,” he said.

 

“What?” Harry asked, openly confused and Severus got up, tugged at Harry until he got up too.

 

“What Malfoy is doing to you,” he said, carelessly pressed some bills in the hands of the waiter that came rushing forward and took Harry outside.

 

--

 

“I’m on a Muggle phone,” Tom said, “Severus, tell me why I’m on a Muggle phone?”

 

“Because I don’t think you should be seeing Harry right now,” Severus repeated casually, stroking through Harry’s hair. They were pressed against each other in a tiny telephone cubicle and Harry had gotten as close as he could to the speaker while keeping his distance from Severus, and then very suddenly had given in and hugged Severus, sagging against him, pressing his face against Severus’s neck.

 

“Why?” Tom said. There was a dangerous undertone in his voice and Severus sighed.

 

“Harry asked me why you told him all of a sudden,” he said, “do you have an answer?”

 

“I told you that I kept thinking about it and couldn’t understand myself,” Tom said. He sounded upset and Harry made a tiny sound against Severus’s throat.

 

“Think back 35 years,” Severus said, “I was – I think 17, just out of Hogwarts. I had moved into the flat you had in that horrible corner of Knockturn. Abraxas invited us out late because he wanted to celebrate my NEWTs but really, we wanted to complain about Avery. We got pretty drunk. Remember?”

 

“Barely,” Tom said very drily. But Severus could tell he had his attention.

 

“Abraxas said he wanted to destroy Avery and then we had a philosophical discussion on how to destroy people,” Severus continued. Harry snorted against his throat and Severus pressed him closer. “Abraxas said take away their dignity. You said – the surest way to destroy someone is to take away whom he loves.”

 

Tom hummed, not saying anything.

 

“We discussed what it meant to take someone away,” Severus continued, “Abraxas was very crude. Kill them before their eyes, torture them to death, rape them. I agreed. You laughed and said that that was much too easy.”

 

“I don’t know why I like you,” Harry muttered, and Severus laughed.

 

“You said: there’s nothing more painful than seeing the person you love start to hate you,” Severus said, then remained silent.

 

Tom breathed in and out. “Fuck,” he said. Severus kissed Harry’s hair and shifted them a little, took more of Harry’s weight. Harry was clinging now, and Severus would die before he made him let go.

 

“But how would it work?” Tom said. “That’s highly complex magic, very susceptible and fluctuating. I must have been targeted too for it to work. We cannot –“

 

“I’m taking Harry to my lab,” Severus said, “and do a full test run, see if I can find any traces of invasive magic. But I think Beatrix and Abraxas are able to create a ritual like that. I also think that it’s focused on you and Harry, only to a lesser extent on me, if at all.”

 

“I don’t know, Severus,” Tom said, “it could be possible, but it seems quite implausible. Are you sure we –“

 

Harry took the receiver from Severus. “Tom,” he said, sounding hoarse and Tom stopped talking immediately.

 

“What’s wrong? You sound off,” he said, and Severus had to swallow; Tom sounded intimate, more intimate than was tolerable for this public telephone booth they were in.

 

“I felt so angry at you,” Harry said, “so – unbelievable out of control. I’m not like that. I don’t recognize myself.”

 

“I know,” Tom soothed, “and I’m not saying to not follow Severus’s lead. I’m just saying to be careful because it doesn’t sound – very likely, just because something like that is very hard to do. But I’ll follow up. I’m going to go and do some inquiries and then we’re-“

 

“Tom,” Harry interrupted. He sounded worried and was chewing his lips and Severus clasped him even closer. “There’s been – in the last few days, there’s been this buzzing in my head. When I couldn’t move, I heard it. It went away again but after my last shift it’s been there all the time and it sounds almost like – like whispers.”

 

Severus’s heart beat faster. Tom breathed in harshly.

 

“Describe it in more detail,” Tom said, and Harry wetted his lips, shifted.

 

“He’s having trouble talking about it,” Severus said loudly enough for Tom to hear. Tom cursed, quick and vicious and Harry struggled again and again and again and then –

 

“It makes me feel as if I would be better off dead,” Harry said, as if the words were forced out of him.

 

--

 

“Thumb in here,” Severus said and indicated the indicator solution to Harry’s right. They had been at it for three hours and Harry was getting increasingly tired; Severus had made him a coffee, but it didn’t help much with Harry’s sad dejected little face.

 

“That’s the last one,” Severus promised. He had run a full test on Harry, had tested him from head to toes. He already looked at a few interesting results, but the ones that would tell him most – blood, stool, magic – would need to run for a few hours.

 

Harry had only made minimal communication throughout the testing, thoughts clearly somewhere else. Severus needed to still bring him back to London, couldn’t allow him an overnight stay even though he ached with it; but Minerva had been clear and only allowed Harry entry to Severus’s lab on the grounds that he wouldn’t spend the night.

 

“Good,” Severus said, “take it back out. I think it’s best if I bring you back straight away, isn’t it? So you can get at least some sleep before work tomorrow.”

 

Harry shrugged, not looking at Severus.

 

“I’d advise to take it slow,” Severus said. This wasn’t him; he didn’t fill in words just to not have to deal with the silence but here he was, chattering. It was disgusting.

 

“Until we know if my hunch is correct,” Severus said and then stopped, feeling helpless. He wasn’t helpless usually; after his childhood he had made a point of being in control.

 

“Okay,” Harry said and got up slowly. He went to the sink to wash his hands, movements slow and as if they pained him. “But I’ll go back alone.”

 

“Harry-“ Severus started but Harry said no immediately. “I go back alone,” he said, slowly, slightly emphasizing alone and Severus looked at him and nodded, feeling even more helpless. Harry got dressed fully, clearly with some effort.

 

“Get a room at that hotel you stayed at with Tom,” Severus said on impulse, “the Leaky can’t be good for a full night’s sleep.”

 

Harry shook his head, nodded at Severus and then left, leaving Severus standing and looking at the closed door for a long moment.

 

“Fuck,” he said with emphasis and got himself a whiskey, watched the extraction process of his samples with a scowl. He wouldn’t go to bed before he hadn’t sorted it out, could have at least a preliminary look at Harry’s data.

 

Four hours later, he threw on his coat, clutching the results and made his way to London in the middle of the night.

 

--

 

Tom wasn’t asleep when Severus rushed in. He was sitting at his kitchen table in the dark and he was – crying. Severus stopped short, looked at Tom’s wet, pinched face.

 

“Go ahead,” Tom said after a moment, clearly struggling with speaking, “make fun of me. You always told me my pride would be my downfall and now-“

 

“Don’t,” Severus said. “Tom. Just don’t.”

 

Tom turned slightly away from him, rubbing roughly at his face and Severus stepped forward, heart beating so loudly he was sure Tom could hear it.

 

He was in unchartered territory; Tom had never needed nor wanted Severus’s comfort like this, but Severus couldn’t just stand by. He knew that Tom hadn’t broken up with him because he didn’t love Severus any more, but he’d wallowed in his own pride, told himself to forget Tom and to move on, but he couldn’t just let him sit at his table like that, liked him a whole awful lot too much to just leave.

 

He stepped closer. Tom reacted a bit too late and Severus reached out, pressed his hand against Tom’s head, cradled Tom’s head against his belly, slowly stroking his hair, rubbing behind his ears. “Hush,” he said, and Tom only held himself stiffly for a second, before he crashed against Severus, clearly in need of the comfort he was offered.

 

Time ticked away slowly, while Severus petted Tom, soothed him with his hands.

 

“Can you forgive me?” Tom asked. His voice was very hushed, and Severus smiled out of sight, so fond of Tom that it hurt somewhere deep.

 

“Always,” he said quietly. Tom turned his head and looked up at him and Severus took him upstairs.

 

“Let me take care of you,” he said and spread Tom out, sucked at his nipples until they were hard and straining up. He rimmed him slowly, methodically, waited until Tom started to sweat before turning him around and putting him on his knees, urged him to lay forward and down with his ass open and ready for Severus. He pushed in slow; so slow and Tom whimpered, high-pitched and needy. Severus build the pace carefully, slow and languid at the start until he was pounding into him, Tom’s hands fisted in the bedsheets. He was begging Severus, but Severus ignored him, kept at it until Tom came untouched, kept at it even after that until Tom sobbed out his name, overstimulated and desperate. He came in long, pulsing strokes, moaned his pleasure into Tom’s nape, before slipping out of Tom, groaning when they both stretched out.

 

Tom put his head on Severus’s shoulder, slightly tentative and Severus dragged him closer, knew that Tom wouldn’t be this timid in the morning.

 

“My hunch is correct,” Severus said. He was tired now and it was past three and he had to teach in the morning and once again Severus congratulated himself on inventing his anti-sleep potion. He could likely make millions with it, but he had never marketed it on Harry’s advice who had begged him to “let criminals sleep at least once in a while.”

 

Tom moved, laid down sideward, one hand supporting his head to look down at Severus. He raised an eyebrow and Severus reached out, tugged him back down to kiss him for a long moment. “You look better,” he said quietly, and Tom snorted.

 

“Had a pretty okay orgasm ten minutes ago,” he said, and Severus laughed. “Pretty okay, hm?” he asked and nipped at Tom’s lip in retaliation.

 

“Your hunch?” Tom asked.

 

“There’s invasive magic all inside him,” Severus said, “with pretty disastrous results. I don’t want to sugarcoat but it will be awful to hear.”

 

Tom’s smile dropped away. He sat up on his side of the bed, roughly rubbing over his face.

 

“He’s having a sepsis,” Severus said, “must have had it for months actually. I’m relatively sure it was there from the very start of it all, making him sick and weak, step by step tearing down his defenses which is making me think that it’s part of the ritual. His own magic is keeping him stable, feeding his immune system to be able to fight the infection. The invasive magic appears to be entwined very closely with some biochemical reactions of his body; it appears to be more highly concentrated whenever he’s feeling stressed or sad for example. It’s very adaptable, very fluid. The only thing I can say for sure is that it’s almost designed like an allergy reaction, towards feeling – safe, secure, loved, happy, but potentially also against specific people, potentially against you. But I need to do more studies to know for sure. I’ll need some blood from you.”

 

“Oh my god,” Tom said very faintly.

 

“The invasive magic is actively fighting to make him unhappy and stressed out,” Severus said, “while slowly poisoning his blood. His body is fighting back; I think he was pretty balanced until we broke up. Since then, the invasive magic is winning. It hasn’t overpowered him yet and I think – we must hope that we can stop it. Is any of that ringing a bell for you with regards to dark magic? I have an idea or two and I think we must –“

 

“He’s in the middle of having a sepsis?” Tom asked, shrill and panicky and Severus struggled up quickly, wrapped his arms around Tom. It had been some years since he had seen him having a panic attack, but he still knew what he had to do, held him as close as possible. Harry needed more space whenever he was freaking out, but Tom felt securer when he was wrapped all up and Severus talked lowly to him, whispering in his ear and nuzzling his hair until he calmed down.

 

“Severus,” Tom said half an hour later when Severus was dressed and ready to go. He sounded formal and Severus looked up at him with a questioning eyebrow.

 

“Are we – are we good?” Tom asked very quietly. Severus stepped closer, allowed Tom to straighten his collar. “Yes,” he said just as quietly. Tom kissed him.

 

“I’ll floo you once I have more insights,” Severus said, “keep staying away from Harry.”

 

“Do you think I can call him on a Muggle phone?” Tom asked, “or do you think my voice alone can trigger it?”

 

“I doubt it,” Severus said, “how could it work? But he’s also reacting against feelings. If you talk to him, it must be positive.”

 

“What forced me to tell him about the Halloween massacre?” Tom said. He was clearly thinking, and Severus didn’t answer, knew it was a rhetorical question. “There’s nothing in your data to suggest why I did it. I never wanted to tell him. Why did I tell him?”

 

“I don’t know,” Severus said, “but we need to find out fast.”

 

Tom nodded, face grim and determined.

 

--

 

The first thing Severus did when he came to visit Harry at the Leaky was to shoot cleaning spells all over Harry’s room. The room was disgusting, and Harry had obviously not bothered to clean it at all. Severus heaved an internal sigh of agitation when he took in Harry’s rumpled appearance, then crossed over to him and made a single incision line on his arm to take his blood. Then he hugged him, slipped his hands underneath Harry’s robe. He held him for so long that Harry started to fidget but Severus didn’t let him go and eventually Harry stilled, became almost drowsy with Severus’s touch.

 

Severus pressed a very soft kiss against his temple before letting him go.

 

“Let us lay down for a little while,” Severus suggested, “you look tired.”

 

“No,” Harry said and sat down on the bed, holding himself stiffly. He crossed his arms, then his legs and Severus kept watching him, feeling unsure of how to best proceed.

 

For his theory to work, Harry needed to be feeling better when he left, but he didn’t have much of an idea of how he could help him along with it.

 

“Harry,” he said and then stopped. Harry looked at him briefly, then back down and on impulse Severus kneeled down in front of him, gently gripped his calves.

 

Harry’s gaze settled on him, lost and unsure and Severus ached with it.

 

“How can I help you?” he asked quietly and then kept quite even when he started to get impatient with it. He watched Harry struggle with himself, watched him open his mouth numerous times before Harry closed his eyes, clearly defeated.

 

“I know that it’s hard for us to talk about things,” Severus said, “but we must try. It’s absolutely essential for us to try.”

 

“The buzzing gets worse,” Harry said, not opening his eyes again.

 

“I suspected that,” Severus replied, “try to push through it. Please, Harry. Talk to me.”

 

“Is that a part of the curse?” Harry asked. He swallowed compulsively, and Severus carefully squeezed his legs. “Not being able to talk?”

 

“I fear so,” Severus said, “but I need you to. The curse likely feeds on you feeling alone and lonely. Push through it.”

 

“I don’t know how you can help me,” Harry said all in a rush, “I’ve done nothing but think about it, but I don’t know. I don’t know how to trust you again. My whole life feels like a lie from start to finish. My aunt lied to me about my parents. Then everyone lied to me about Sirius being my godfather because he was unstable and when I could finally go and live with him, everyone kept what he did to Remus a big, fat lie. And now – now I find out that you – that you-“

 

“What we did wasn’t right,” Severus said when Harry couldn’t go on, “we thought we made that decision for the right reasons. We thought we made it out of love, out of protectiveness. But we were selfish. We didn’t want to face up to what we did.”

 

Harry hiccupped. He had started shaking and Severus gently started petting his legs, remained at Harry’s feet. He could tell that it was just the right amount of contact and he didn’t make a move to get closer to Harry.

 

“What do I do, Severus?” Harry asked. “What do I do?”

 

“What do you want to do?” Severus asked him quietly. Harry heaved in a breath; Severus was sure that he wasn’t fully with him.

 

“To go home,“ he whispered, “to forget it. To wake up tomorrow and it was just – a bad dream. All of it. The bite, the break-up, the – other thing.”

 

“You’ve gone through so much, Harry,” Severus said very quietly, “you’re resilient. You’re strong. This won’t break you. But you need to break out of a cycle of wishing for things to be different. You must think about what you can realistically do to move forward.”

 

“I don’t want to,” Harry said, “to go forward. I want to go back.”

 

Severus didn’t say anything, just kept petting him. Harry’s breathing slowed back down. They sat in silence for a long while.

 

“I want to see the memory,” Harry said. “Tom’s. Of that day. That would help.”

 

“Darling,” Severus said, “please don’t. It’s truly awful. You – you’ll see your parents die.”

 

“I need to,” Harry said, “I need to see it.”

 

Severus felt carved out, hollow inside with Harry’s words. He swallowed.

 

“I can’t promise that Tom will give it,” he said quietly, “but I’ll talk to him. Though I have my reservations. But I trust you to know what’s best for you.”

 

Harry nodded, looking off in the distance.

 

“Tom said he didn’t want to tell me all of what’s going on,” he said. Severus nodded, carefully reached up to stretch out one of Harry’s arms to take his blood once more.

 

“We’re afraid that the curse will fight you more viciously,” he said, “do you still trust us to have your back?”

 

Harry thought on it a little; Severus hoped he tried to find an honest answer inside himself.

 

“I want to,” he said, “more than anything.”

 

“So will you?” Severus asked quietly. Harry looked at him for a long time. Then he nodded.

 

Severus smiled at him and made a tiny incision on Harry’s arm.

 

--

 

“The blood work is definite,” Severus said, “invasive magic mostly overtaking his system when I came in, reduced when I left, after he had pushed himself to talk. That gives us a measure of control.”

 

“And makes no sense at the same time,” Tom said, “because it means their whole curse could fail as long as he’s happy.”

 

“Doubt it,” Severus said, “I’ve worked more on isolating the specific strains the invasive magic is showing, what it attacks. It feeds on stress hormones, actively attacks him neurologically whenever he’s relaxed and happy. But it’s not just a biological reaction. It’s a fully-fledged curse that I think compels him to lash out.”

 

“Severus,” Tom said. He sounded more controlled than Severus had heard in years. “I will do unspeakable things to Bellatrix and Abraxas once I find them. And you must let me.”

 

Severus snorted.

 

“The specialist for this kind of curse injury at St. Mungo’s is Weasley,” Severus said, “which I think is a problem. But I also think we need to have a professional look Harry over. The sepsis can quickly turn deadly once it’s no longer part of the make-up of the curse itself.”

 

 “I agree,” Tom said, “but I insist on going and talking to Weasley before he sees Harry. And you will have to go in with him if I can’t see him.”

 

“I’m starting to be unsure about a specific reaction towards you,” Severus admitted, “I can’t see any signs for it from the bloodwork I have. Have you made progress in trying to find out what they modelled the curse after?”

 

Tom was silent, took a drink of the coffee he had brewed them when Severus had come in.

 

“Yes,” Tom said. “I have an idea.”

 

He snorted and rubbed over his eyes.

 

“It’s more than an idea,” he said, “I know what it is. It’s – Harry cannot know.”

 

“Why?” Severus said. His mouth was dry.

 

“To set it up, it requires more than one blood sacrifice,” Tom said quietly, “I think they must have murdered at least five people until it was ready to go. It also requires the blood of a relative. I went to his aunt’s house yesterday. She opened the door for me but she – she wasn’t necessarily alive.”

 

Severus closed his eyes.

 

“How could that have been kept under the radar of the Ministry?” he asked.

 

Tom rubbed over his eyes again. “I don’t think they’re only taking revenge on me, Severus,” Tom said, “I think they’re taking over the Ministry. And they’ve come quiet far.”

 

Severus whispered “fuck” underneath his breath.

 

Tom slowly stirred his coffee.

 

“I’m thinking I am getting doused with an adapted version of veritaserum,” Tom said quietly. “I’ve become complacent, Severus. I took more care to pay attention today. My secretary and Lucius are dosing me. That potion you once designed; the one that was much more specified to force you to tell people secrets you wanted to keep from them. Did you ever discuss it with Lucius?”

 

“I did,” Severus said quietly, “but that potion had tons of trouble. A lot of side-effects. I nevr got it running smoothly.”

 

“Like inexplicable rage?” Tom asked quietly, “like sleeplessness, lack of concentration, lack of vigilance?”

 

“Tom,” Severus said quietly, deeply worried now.

 

“I stopped taking tea from my secretary three days ago,” Tom said, “and with Lucius. Don’t worry, they didn’t realize. I dipped just a little in her mind. Even less in Lucius’s. I’ve had the aforementioned side-effects. Lucius is a competent brewer. He must have adapted and replicated your potion. I remember it having a foul smell. It doesn’t anymore.”

 

“Are you sure?” Severus asked. It was useless; Tom was rarely not sure, but Severus wanted to keep hoping.

 

“I am,” Tom said, “I think they’ve been slowly building it up. When I – when I broke up with you, I was already so close to telling you – things. But I could still control myself. I was worried back then but I was more worried about everything else and I didn’t – think.”

 

“Oh my,” Severus said as drily as he could, praying that Tom heard humor and fondness, nothing else.

 

“And I managed not to tell you my secrets,” Tom continued, not reacting to Severus, “but with Harry I felt similar and I didn’t manage to tone it down. We see the result right now. They are playing us. And we can’t be sure who’s involved.”

 

“What do you propose?” Severus asked quietly.

 

“Normalcy,” Tom said, “for now. I will go and find Greyback. He knows something. After that, we will discuss. Then I’ll think, we’ll scare Lucius. He will make a mistake.”

 

“What do we tell the Minister? Robards?” Severus asked. Tom smiled; it was a smile Severus hadn’t seen in so long, he felt immediately nervous.

 

“Nothing,” Tom said, “they don’t need to know at this point. I will pursue the threat, will let them know once it’s time. No one can know besides us. The only thing I am worried about right now is Harry. The Leaky isn’t safe. Once Lucius thinks we know something, I fear Harry is in danger. He is a very valuable bargaining chip to hold. He must leave.”

 

“You could probably make a deal with him,” Severus said. “He wants to see the memory of the massacre.”

 

Tom looked up sharply, studying Severus. Severus felt the invasion, let it happen; it had been instinctual, and Tom colored immediately.

 

“Severus, I am so sorry-“ he started but Severus shook his head, leaned forward.

 

“I wouldn’t trust you to be Tom Riddle, if you didn’t read my mind right now,” he said quietly and linked their fingers. Tom snorted, squeezed his hand.

 

“This is a phenomenally bad idea,” Tom said, “but if that is what it takes to get him out of the Leaky, I’ll do it.”

 

--

 

There were two paths open before them, entwined but not necessarily running in the same direction.

 

There was the need to keep Harry safe.

 

There was the need to keep their society safe.

 

“We can’t trust anyone at this point,” Tom had said, and he had meant it, had waited until Severus had given him his hand to swear an unbreakable like he knew the real Severus would propose to do.

 

It was only then that he breathed a tiny sigh of relief. Nobody knew him like Severus, not even Harry; not ever Harry.

 

Back when Tom had shared his biggest secret, Severus had thrown up when he had told him but that was fine; Severus could know. Harry couldn’t; Harry could not ever know that Tom had sold parts of his soul. Harry didn’t know about the horcruxes, didn’t know that the love Tom felt for him had stopped Tom after two. After two he had met Harry and suddenly it was imperative over everything else that the rest of his soul remained intact because it needed to be there for Harry to love something in return.

 

On the beginning of every horcrux there was a murder. That was how it was, and Tom had not even cared to find another way back when he had created the first one. He hadn’t cared about the basilisk killing students; he was consumed by a horrible, terrible rage that consumed him. Looking back, Tom sometimes thought that the rage was doing the same thing the horcruxes did, eating away at Tom’s soul.

 

He created the second when he was already fucking Severus. Sex and love had not ever played a role in Tom’s life until Severus offered himself up. To this day, Tom didn’t understand what Severus could have seen in him at first. But Severus was there, inserting himself in Tom’s life and he found his thoughts more and more straying to Severus. It felt so good to fuck, to be fucked; after orgasming, Tom felt calm for a while. Tom never felt calm; and it instantly became addictive, something Tom needed. When he was calm, he didn’t think and when he didn’t think, he felt better. He didn’t want to be the way he was, didn’t want to be a despicable human; but without Severus he would have continued on. He had been on a precipice back then. To go forward into unspeakable things and become something not human; or to stay human and do less unspeakable things and he had floundered between the two of them. Did humans deserve not to be punished for what they all did to him? Abraxas had said yes, all Muggles, all humans deserved to suffer for Tom’s pain, but once he had started to sleep with Severus that clear line became crossed more and more. Severus’s intellect was a challenge for his own. His grasp of magic was a challenge to Tom’s grasp of magic. Back then, Tom had wanted to annihilate challenges but with Severus it felt good and right to work together.

 

Next to Severus, it was work that saved Tom. The Department of Mysteries held enough curiosities to satisfy Tom’s mind. He rose through the ranks quickly; he could try all the magic he loved to try. People feared and fawned over him. Tom had always known how to charm them, how to manipulate them.

 

And then, it had crumbled. Tom was ambitious. He always wanted more, no matter what or how. He had been about to announce his run for Minister no matter how much Severus begged him not to. Severus kept telling him that all his bad sides would break through; that the power would corrupt him. Tom had sneered. They had fought more and more. Being good had started to feel pointless when –

 

“Tom,” Robards had said when entering the lift, a young Auror following him. Tom’s attention had been on a memo and he hadn’t looked up; he didn’t care much for Robards.

 

“Have you met Harry Potter, Tom?” Robards had said, “I promise you, he’ll become our youngest Head Auror yet.”

 

“Gawain, please,” Harry had said, and Tom had looked up, intended to say something like “delighted but now let me read in peace.”

 

He hadn’t said it. He had looked at Harry and something slotted into place that he hadn’t known was missing.

 

 They had fallen for each other so quickly. Harry had been so scared back then.

 

“All good things are always getting taken from me,” he had said, and Tom had kissed him, slow and reassuring during a Ministry dinner. They had been dating for a short six months and Harry had just come back from his Uncle’s funeral. Tom didn’t know back then what they had done to him, but it was clear that Harry was upset and sad that night and for the first time in his life, Tom had wanted to comfort, had wanted someone to lean on him when things got hard. He knew he loved Harry already, even if he couldn’t say it.

 

“You think I can’t make it stay good?” he had asked, and Harry had looked at him, his beautiful green eyes sad and unsure.

 

“I’m scared of becoming too dependent and you realizing that I’m really not all that great,” Harry had said, and Tom had taken his hand, tangled their fingers.

 

“I promise you,” he had said, “that will not ever happen.”

 

It was the only promise he had always kept, would always keep.

 

--

 

Harry looked at Tom just briefly, just once. Tom hadn’t bothered to smile; he had set up the pensieve in their kitchen, had put the memory in already. Harry hadn’t hesitated, had leaned forward but his knuckles were very white when he had gripped the bowl.

 

Tom sat down at the table. Then he waited.

 

Harry was crying when he came out, almost hyperventilating. He looked around wildly, shaking, hurled himself at Tom the second he saw him.

 

Tom held him closer than he had ever held anyone, anything.

 

“Did it help?” he asked hours later when he brought Harry back to the Golden Feather, after Harry had agreed to stay there for the next days.

 

“Yes,” Harry said, “I think so. But I need – more time. Can you maybe – can we talk over the phone?”

 

“Of course,” Tom said quietly, waited until Harry had closed his door.

 

He fortified it with every defensive spell he knew.

 

--

 

“Hey Harry,” Tom said. Harry shifted in the cell booth Tom had asked him to go to. He had thrown up this morning; he just couldn’t sleep at all in the moment and he felt worse and worse for it.

 

“We have some more results,” Tom said, “they are pretty horrible to be honest.”

 

Harry leaned his head against the cool glass of the booth. Hearing Tom’s voice soothed him, even if he didn’t want it to. He was so tired.

 

“Are you with me?” Tom asked quietly, and Harry said yeah quickly, didn’t want Tom to know how bad he was feeling.

 

“You’re feeling bad, aren’t you?” Tom said. His voice sounded honey-soft and it brought tears to Harry’s eyes; he wanted Tom to be there and hold him and he for the first time in weeks, he allowed the thought.

 

“You’re all alone and so lonely, my darling,” Tom continued. Harry whimpered and pressed himself closer to the receiver, not fully understanding why he was reacting like that, but his body was tingling all over; his cock was slowly filling, and his nipples were hardening.

 

“I’ll take care of you soon,” Tom promised, “I’ll spend a lifetime making up for what I did to you. Don’t give up on me. Please.”

 

“I’m so disappointed,” Harry admitted. It had been at the bottom of it; he wasn’t angry any longer, just so disappointed.

 

“Me too,” Tom said, “I’m so disappointed in myself.”

 

“Tom,” Harry said. He wanted to come home; more than anything, he wanted to come home again.

 

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Tom said, quietly and softly and Harry keened, fully hard now. Tom shushed him.

 

“I want to come home,” Harry said. His eyes were hot and achy, and he pressed a shaking hand over them, rubbed hard. “But I don’t know how to forgive you. How can I – forgive something like that?”

 

“I’ll think about it,” Tom promised, “are you hard for me, Harry?”

 

Harry hesitated, not sure if he truly wanted to share this with Tom. “Yes,” he admitted reluctantly, and Tom hummed.

 

“Thanks for telling me,” he said, “next time I’ll pick somewhere more private for us to talk.”

 

“I don’t want to – jerk off,” Harry said, “I’m still – I’m furious at you.”

 

Tom hummed. “I know,” he said, “but you grew up in a cupboard. You need hugs, my darling. Go and let Severus give you some today. He needs to see you anyway.”

 

“What’s wrong with me exactly?” Harry said, tried to ignore how much his cock was pulsing.

 

“Harry,” Tom said and hesitated. Harry pressed his crotch against the lower end of the telephone machine, hoped that nobody was watching. He was so hard it hurt.

 

“I know I am asking an awful lot,” Tom said, “but we’d like not to tell you right now. We’re not sure how your body would react if you knew. Can you – trust us with that?”

 

Harry hesitated, torn. All those moments when he had trusted Tom blindly in the past; he had always come out on top, safe and healthy.

 

Tom didn’t say anything else to convince him, waited him out.

 

It was the silence that got Harry to say okay and mean it.

 

--

 

“Hey darling,” Tom said. Harry keened in the receiver; it was the worst and the best to hear Tom using pet names for him. “I’ll call you darling all the time,” Tom said, low and promising, “from now on, I’ll be sure to call you darling every single day.”

 

“Why?” Harry asked. He held the receiver as close as he could, shielding it with his hand, eager to have all of Tom’s words just to himself.

 

“Because I want you to know what a darling you are,” Tom said quietly and then cleared his throat.

 

“Was there any one who alluded towards how the two of us have been in the last weeks?” Tom asked. “I need you to think it through. Any questions or remarks about our relationship? Anything unusual?”

 

Harry chewed his lips. “Can’t think of anything,” he said, “Lucius asked me if my stars were sinking but I don’t-“

 

“When?” Tom interrupted. He sounded – scary and Harry swallowed, immediately anxious.

 

“Tom?” he asked; he wasn’t sure what Tom heard in his voice, but he became instantly soothing.

 

“Just tell me, Harry,” he said, and Harry did.

 

“Good,” Tom said, “anything else you can think of, my darling?”

 

“Stop,” Harry pleaded. He was tingly all over; the wound pulsed.

 

“I won’t,” Tom said quietly, “not ever. I thought of how you could forgive me. I want to apologize for not only telling you the way I did but for being that person in the first place. I want to apologize for not taking the time to grow as a person when I was younger, for not leaving behind my childhood earlier. I want you to know that I regret not talking to you about my political ties when we first started dating and you were not yet so emotionally invested. I wanted you very much to like me and that made me scared of being honest with you. It was wrong, and I apologize for it.”

 

“Fuck,” Harry said. He was shaking, had to grip the machine hard to stay upright.

 

“Breathe,” Tom said and stayed on the line until Harry had himself back under control.

 

--

 

“Are the two of you back together?” Harry asked. Severus had said something that had made him wonder and he had wondered and wondered, until he couldn’t take it anymore and had gone to call Tom.

 

“Would you like that?” Tom asked very neutrally, and Harry fidgeted.

 

He was unsure and that was more surprising than he would have thought.

 

“I wanted it so much just two weeks ago,” he said after thinking a bit on it, “but right now it’s all – it’s all just too much.”

 

Tom sighed. Harry knew that he was rubbing over his eyes and he pressed closer to the receiver, suddenly anxious.

 

“Tom?” he asked, and Tom must have heard something in his voice because he shushed him immediately.

 

“I want you to be well,” Tom said, “more than anything. More than I want Severus. A word from you and we stop – what we’ve been doing.”

 

“You’ve been fucking,” Harry said. The realization that it was just that, not a renewal of their relationship ripped a hole straight through Harry’s gut; the buzzing picked, droningly, threateningly, overwhelm-


“Harry!” Tom said forcefully, and Harry shook himself, tried to focus.

 

“Yes,” Tom said, “we did. But it’s – more than that. It cannot be just fucking. But we both agree that you are our number one priority and if you don’t like it or-“

 

“I don’t want a fucking ranking between us,” Harry said, all in a rush, “I want you to admit that you made a mistake, that you’re trying to fix it, that you still – like me the same and him too and I-“

 

“I don’t like you, you colossal idiot,” Tom hissed, “I love you. I love – I love Severus. I love the two of you so –“ His voice broke off and Harry could picture him, standing all alone in a cellphone booth somewhere in London, realizing what he had just said, what he had never said before and it was –

 

It was everything.

 

“Apparate, you arse,” Harry hissed and Tom gulped in air on a sob and a second later he stood next to Harry inside the booth and Harry didn’t even bother trying to figure out how he had managed to not land on top of him because they were already kissing and Harry was already saying “I love you, I love you, I love you” and Tom was fisting his hands in Harry’s hair and –

 

“Mates,” a guy shouted from the outside, “this is a family street. Cut it out a little, will ya?”

 

Tom looked up, dazed and confused. “Did that Muggle just tell me what to do?” he asked, and Harry couldn’t help it; he threw his head back and laughed, carefree, fully for the first time in weeks.

 

“Yes, he did darling,” he said, “and you can’t do anything about it.”

 

Tom looked back at Harry, eyebrows creased. He reached out a hand and touched Harry’s smile and then he leaned in and kissed him again, slow and careful.

 

“I love you,” he said roughly against Harry’s lips and Harry sobbed in a breath, pressed himself forward and against Tom’s chest.

 

They stood clutching each other for a long time.

 

“I’m still not ready,” Harry said, “to come back home. But I’m not doubting anymore that I’ll be ready. Is that good enough for you right now?”

 

“Anything is good enough for me right now,” Tom said, “and you can’t come home anyways. We have some fugitives to catch and they must think us close to killing each other.”

 

“You’re such a romantic,” Harry said and kept holding Tom.

 

--

 

“Hello, my darling,” Tom said, and Harry breathed out in a whoosh. It was still exhilarating; he didn’t want Tom to ever stop.

 

“Any news?” Tom asked.

 

“I doubt that Robards knows anything,” Harry said, “I studied the memory you send me of your meeting with Greyback. I talked to the French authorities and related the location of the castle they might be at. They will stake it out. Not much else.”

 

“Good,” Tom said, “that’s good. Severus and I have put in place the little – surprise we have for Lucius.”

 

“Do I want to know?” Harry asked wryly. Tom snorted.

 

“No,” he said, “but you should have seen Lucius’s face when he heard that you still stayed at the Golden Father. He is – very obvious, not that I know what to look out for.”

 

“Pleased to hell, I guess?” Harry asked. It irked him; he didn’t want anyone to interfere in their relationship.

 

“Very much so,” Tom said quietly, “I think the house misses you though.”


“The house?” Harry asked, pitching his voice low. Tom breathed in harshly.

 

“Me, Harry,” he answered, “it’s me who misses you so very much.”

 

“I need a bit more time,” Harry said. It was the truth, but he had also spent the last few days sleeping in one of Tom’s shirts, used Tom’s robes he had taken from their flat as his blanket.

 

“I know,” Tom said, “and don’t rush yourself. I’ll be waiting for you.”

 

“Can I – the next full moon-“ Harry said and Tom laughed, throaty and intimate.

 

“If you spend it anywhere but in our cellar, I’ll be really mad, Harry,” he said lightly and Harry breathed out in a rush.

 

“We’ll implement our plan for Lucius on the morning of the full moon,” Tom said, “I will make sure that he thinks I’ll be distracted. Severus will stay with you. I’ll shadow Lucius as we discussed. And then we’ll – reconvene.”

 

“You take my cloak, right?” Harry asked. The plan was sound; Tom could handle himself. But Harry was still nervous. “You’ll be careful?”

 

“I will take the cloak,” Tom said, “I’ll be careful. You won’t worry. Right?”

 

“Right,” Harry said. He fidgeted with the line of the phone. He was anxious.

 

“It will be fine, Harry,” Tom said in the tone of voice he had said his wedding vows in and Harry said yeah and trusted him.

 

Still, when he howled down in their basement three days later, he couldn’t help but be horribly worried.

Chapter Text

Tom wasn’t back the day after the full moon or the day after that. On the third day, Harry had to go back to work and he did after Severus ordered him.

 

He felt as if he was underwater. The worry had become a constant, gnawing pit in his stomach. Severus kept saying that Tom would be alright because he was Tom, but Harry couldn’t be sure; Harry’s job had made him see too many people thinking of themselves of invincible.

 

“But they were not Tom,” Severus had said, and Harry had nodded, woodenly. Severus had made him give a promise to call and Harry had nodded and floo’ed into work and here he was, on the third day, entirely Tom-less at his desk.

 

He couldn’t concentrate.

 

Tom wasn’t back on the fourth day either and after Harry had joked around in their break-room to pretend that everything was fine, he had gone into his cubicle, secured the door, thrown up a silencing charm and then he had put his head on the table and cried.

 

It didn’t matter anymore if Tom had been responsible for the death of his parents. Nothing mattered anymore; all Harry wanted was for Tom to walk through the door and say something rude; his rudeness was always comforting to Harry.

 

He had gotten close to thinking the thoughts that started with please, I’ll do anything if only…

 

Severus still said that Tom would be fine, but he sounded less sure.

 

On the fifth day, after Harry had done his routine in the break-room, Tom breezed into his office shortly past ten. He run a critical eye over Harry and opened his mouth to speak but Harry trained his wand on him, hand steady.

 

He was too much of an Auror to be this stupid.

 

Still, he couldn’t get a single word, sitting there with his wand, mouth working.

 

Tom looked at him, then raised his hands slowly to show that his own were empty.

 

“Your aunt used to call your cousin Dudders,” Tom said, “you got your appendix taken out when you were eight and still have the scar. You only threw up on me once after getting drunk and that was after Hermione gave birth to the baby and they didn’t tell you. You-“

 

“Stop,” Harry said hoarsely. It was all true, but Harry wasn’t stupid enough to let Tom do the talking; he needed to do it.

 

“What happened after our first date?” he asked, and Tom sighed, clearly uneasy with the memory.

 

“I wrote you five different notes that I threw in the bin and my stupid owl picked them up and delivered them anyway,” he said, “you also promised to never mention it again. Ever.

 

“Where were you?” Harry said, desperately and Tom crossed over, hugged Harry closed after he struggled out of his chair.

 

“Took longer than expected,” Tom said very quietly, “you’re okay. Lean on me a little. I’ll tell you in a moment.”

 

Harry closed his eyes and did.

 

--

 

That evening, Tom spent two hours securing the house. Severus quietly read in the meantime and Harry couldn’t help but hover, following Tom from one room to the next. Tom didn’t comment on it, but he kissed Harry whenever Harry came close.

 

“Let’s talk,” Tom said after he was done and told them how he had followed Lucius, found Abraxas and Bellatrix in a castle in France – not the one Harry had under surveillance but one another half an hour walk away from it.

 

“Avery is in on it, the Lestranges of course,” Tom said, “and unfortunately, because they are rich and own an awful lot of beasts, the Notts. They are clearly still in a stage where they are reaching out to find more accomplices. And they are doing so widely, adapting strategies, forging their identities. They have contacted Black and he told me that he believed them at first but got sidetracked by therapy; we were lucky in this regard. They have reached out to other unlikely allies like the Diggory’s and the Smith’s.”

 

“Planning to overtake the Ministry with power?” Severus asked, and Tom nodded.

 

“Yes,” he said, “but only after getting rid of me, Dumbledore and Bones. They have an in to Bones’s office, but I can’t be sure who it is. Dumbledore is as slippery as ever and therefore so far their biggest issue. They have some vague plans to convince me that Dumbledore is responsible for Harry’s planned death, so I’ll take him out.”

 

“They have plans for my death?” Harry asked, and Tom looked at him for a moment, before raising an eyebrow at Severus, who nodded in return.

 

“That curse, Harry,” Tom said quietly, “can kill you. Once they cancel it you’ll – be having major health complications. There not at that stage yet, but there’s little we can do if they decide to move their schedule.”

 

“There’s no cure?” Harry asked, and Severus cleared his throat.

 

“For the curse, yes,” he said, “though it’s very complicated to brew, has a number of – issues and I won’t be having it before the next full moon. But the health problems Tom mentioned can’t be cured. You will be having them, but we’re also preparing for them.”

 

“You know what it is?” Harry asked, slightly bewildered.

 

“Sepsis,” Tom said quietly, “it’s been – you’ve been having it for some time. The interplay of the curse and your own magic keeps you stable at the moment. But it won’t do so once the curse is lifted. We need to prepare for it and we started to do so and I’m very confident you’ll be fine if we can dictate the timing of lifting the curse.”

 

“You’re proposing to take them on,” Severus said quietly, and Tom nodded, face grim and set.

 

“I propose to tell Dumbledore and Robards,” he said, “and then I’ll propose a – scheme. We need to know who has been working with them to make sure to take them out completely. Otherwise we might have to deal with new cells trying to grab power away from elected government. We can find out through painstakingly observing them for the next months. Or we set them a trap, take control of the timeline from them and finally have you healthy and happy in two months.”

 

Tom looked over at Harry with his last sentence and Harry straightened up in response, suddenly nervous.

 

“I don’t like this,” Severus said, and Tom got up, went down on his knees in front of Harry, carefully taking his hands.

 

“I’d like to use you as bait,” Tom said quietly to Harry, “I want you to stumble upon them. They are likely to call on all of their major allies to discuss what to do. Are you up for it?”

 

“Tom-“ Severus started but Tom jerked his head at him and Severus shut up. Harry turned his hands to link their fingers, studied their different skin tones.

 

“You’ll be close-by?” he asked quietly, and Tom huffed, clearly amused.

 

“No harm will come to you,” he vowed softly, and Harry nodded, mind made up. He knew that he could trust Tom on this; his safety was absolute in Tom’s hands.

 

“What do you propose?” he asked.

 

--

 

Before Harry could fulfill his role as bait, he had two appointments; one with Ron at St. Mungo’s with Tom and another one with Remus he hadn’t told Tom about.

 

He dreaded them equally.

 

Tom was dressed immaculately while they waited on the cheap plastic seats of St. Mungo’s for Ron. Harry hadn’t bothered and was in sweatpants and a hoodie, sinking into it as deeply as he could. He didn’t want to meet Ron but all whining and needling and, in the end, begging hadn’t helped him.

 

“Harry, please,” Tom had said this morning when he picked him up at the hotel. Harry had puttered away, unshowered and undressed and Tom had stepped over the chaos of clothes and books and teacups that Harry had created, had ignored the mess even though he was fastidious to the point of being anal about it.

 

He had gently reeled Harry in and hugged him, body warm and comforting. Harry had resisted for a moment and then sagged against him; he had barely slept the night before, mind endlessly replaying the falling outs he had had with Ron, all those painful memories.

 

“He’s the expert, Harry,” Tom had said, “be a darling and get ready. I called ahead. He promised to be civil.”

 

He had held Harry a little longer, not rushing him. They ended up being late due to Harry’s diddle-daddling, and Ron had gone off to do some healing and they were told to wait until he could attend them. No precise time was given, and Harry felt guilty for hijacking Tom’s day like this, but Tom didn’t comment on any of it, simply took out a file and started reading. It was blank to Harry and Harry didn’t bother to ask what it was, knew that that was pointless if it was redacted for his eyes.

 

At one point, Tom reached over and took Harry’s hand, gently rubbing his fingers. Harry scooted closer and Tom put the file away, crossed his legs instead. Harry didn’t resist it any longer and folded over and down, put his head in Tom’s lap and Tom wrapped his arm around him, gently cradling Harry’s head. Harry’s bites twanged with the position; he felt slightly nauseous. The faint scent of Tom’s eau de cologne wasn’t enough to calm him fully and he shivered, just a little.

 

Tom didn’t say anything, rubbed behind Harry’s ears and up into his hair, his hands careful and soft.

 

“Sorry for keeping you waiting,” Ron said some time later; Harry hadn’t kept a measure of the time. He was embarrassed to be found like this and struggled out of Tom’s lap, not looking at either of them, feeling more than shy all of a sudden. He knew his face was red; he knew he couldn’t talk, not right now, couldn’t even shoot a pleading look towards Tom to save him.

 

“No worries at all,” Tom said, “we’re sorry for missing the appointment. I’m afraid it was entirely my fault; I was kept at the Ministry.”

 

“No problem,” Ron said, “shall we take this to my office?”

 

“Please,” Tom agreed and tugged Harry up when Ron turned to lead the way.

 

They settled down in silence.

 

“I’ve studied the documents Professor Snape send over,” Ron started to say, then visibly checked himself, “sorry, you, er, want some tea?”

 

“Not for me,” Tom said, “Harry?”

 

Harry tried to answer, knew that Tom tried to break him out of his silence with a relatively easy question. It happened from time to time, only in his private, never his professional life; Harry knew that Tom had some theories why it was sometimes impossible for Harry to talk, why he got so shy he could have died with it. They all led back to Harry’s childhood and were probably correct but that didn’t change the fact that Harry didn’t want to go to therapy and was helpless whenever it happened.

 

He tried to answer, couldn’t, shot Tom a pleading look.

 

“I’m sorry,” Tom said, “I’m afraid Harry-“

 

“Can’t talk, eh?” Ron said, “no worries. Happened a few times at Hogwarts, especially during first year. Most often in potions, by the way.”

 

“Severus hasn’t mentioned that,” Tom said. It was an acknowledgement that Ron knew about all three of them and more than Tom had given any of Harry’s friends in years and Harry wanted to thank him, but still couldn’t.

 

“Okay, let’s get started,” Ron said, “I studied the documents, as I said. It looks pretty grim. Do you want me to sugarcoat?”

 

“No,” Tom said in a very sure voice; Harry himself wasn’t so sure.

 

“He’s stable again, as you surmised,” Ron said, “but the episode last month has decisively put the curse on the winning side. Without counterattacking it, it will kill Harry in a few months.”

 

Tom nodded. Harry swallowed audibly and was embarrassed again all over.

 

“I agree with the ideas Professor Snape has for a cure,” Ron continued, “I also agree with the reasons for not making that precise one. We could try a middle ground where we attack the curse until it dissolves. But it is designed to fight back, probably increasing the severity of the attacks on Harry’s systems. If we used the traditional cure, I foresee one to two months at our fine institution here, not too much lasting damage. If we take the other path, I could not guarantee Harry’s survival.”

 

“Can you go a bit more in-depth about lasting damage?” Tom asked.

 

“Sepsis is one of the most dangerous conditions for Muggles,” Ron said, “usually severely harming their immune systems, leading to amputations, loss of function in the limbs, loss of weight, neurological impairments, sleeplessness, increased anxiety and long-lasting psychological damage on top of that. We’re faring better, usually. I don’t think we’ll have to amputate, but I would overall expect him to be in less good health afterwards, have a potential mix of all those things. He will feel like dying; that usually does funny things to people. And the wound will likely act up for a long time, because it will never have enough time to fully heal.”

 

“I see,” Tom said. He reached out a hand for Harry, gently clasped Harry’s hand and Harry managed to look at him, only just. Tom’s jaw was clenched, his eyes cool, face neutral, but Harry could tell that it wasn’t easy for him to hear what Ron was saying.

 

Harry himself was once again strangely unaffected, as if they were talking about someone else. Since the attack, his own health had been strangely apart from him, as if there was Harry and then the injury, as if the two of them had nothing to do with each other.

 

“It’s a shitty situation,” Ron said, “option three would be to get his attacker to lift the curse. Health wise his healing trajectory would be same to giving him the cure without the dire repercussions of having to make the cure. Given that his survival is not guaranteed, I can only advocate against the option of attacking the curse.”

 

“Even if that means we’ll have to design the cure?” Tom asked. Ron sighed, fidgeted for a moment.

 

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. His voice was slightly husky, and Harry didn’t dare to look up, “let’s just say I wouldn’t ask about why he was cured all of a sudden. The rest is up to you. We’re prepared either way.”

 

Tom nodded, looked over at Harry.

 

“Do you have any more questions?” Tom asked. His voice was soft; he had never had used that voice before with others around and Harry swallowed, throat thick, not able to say a word.

 

“If you do, you must try now, Harry,” Tom said. His voice was still soft, no expectations on Harry at all, but Harry still couldn’t.

 

“I would do an in-depth examination, then,” Ron said, “to take care of the blind spots in Professor Snape’s reports. Also, to really know what I’m up against. You can wait here, and I’ll take Harry with me.”

 

Tom briefly looked at Harry before nodding, and Harry followed Ron meekly, let himself be turned and prodded and squeezed. Ron remained professional, not trying to chit-chat, announced what he was doing just before doing it. He was efficient and quick, quill taking the notes he dictated. He told Harry to get dressed while surveying his notes. “Hermione would like to see you,” he said offhand, not looking at Harry. 

 

It was all too much, all of a sudden, being here in this examination room with Ron and Harry got up and made for the door.

 

Out of Ron’s room, he tried to breathe in and out, tried to relax. Nothing really helped, and he was about to turn to walk outside, when the door opened behind him.

 

“I’m sorry, Harry,” Ron said. He had never sounded so timid before; Harry didn’t dare turn around. “I talked to Sirius and Remus. Ridd – your husband came over before we had this talk. I’m still – mad. About a lot of things. But I’m also sorry. Hermione, too.”

 

Harry hang there, unsure of what to do. He had waited so long for something like this; he wasn’t sure he still wanted it and his airways were still closing up and he was so – scared and –

 

“Another time, I think, Ronald,” Tom said. He must have left Ron’s office to wait outside for them; Harry hadn’t even seen him. “it’s a bit much right now. I’m sure he’ll visit once he’s feeling better.”

 

“Alright,” Ron said easily, “take care, Harry.”

 

Tom’s hand on the small of his back guided Harry out. At the apparation points, he tugged Harry close and Harry folded in against him, hid his face, held on.

 

--

 

Remus smiled at Harry when he came over that night. Harry smiled back; he had spent the rest of the afternoon in bed with Tom quietly working next to him at the desk and the normalcy of it had succeeded in calming him back down.

 

“So,” Remus said after he had served tea and food and fiddled around with the pots and pans, “what’s so secretive that I had to get Sirius out of the house?”

 

“It has nothing to do with him directly,” Harry said, “I just wanted to be able to talk freely.”

 

Remus sighed. “He’s doing really good, Harry,” he said quietly, “I know it’s hard to believe; I couldn’t believe it myself at first. But he’s seriously doing fine and I’m really fine and we are-“

 

“I believe you,” Harry hurried to say, “it has nothing to do with that, I promise. It’s more abstract. Well, direct in my case. Tom has – I need to forgive Tom something really big and I don’t know – how.”

 

Remus studied him, a worried look in his eyes.

 

“It’s not – it’s not the thing Sirius used to do to me, is it Harry?” he asked in a husky voice and Harry hurried to shake his head.

 

“God, no,” he said, “Tom would never do – that. I would prefer not to tell you what it’s precisely. But it’s not about me per se. It happened long before I got to know him. It’s just that it still – has consequences to this day and it was an awful thing to do and the way he told me – really hurt.”

 

“Merlin, I don’t know, Harry,” Remus said, “if it’s not about whether you want to forgive him but how you can forgive him, then all you can do is forgive him, right?”

 

Harry looked down, feeling chastened and abashed.

 

“Harry,” Remus said carefully, “let’s back up a little. How did you think I could help you?”

 

“You had to forgive Sirius,” Harry said. Remus sighed, fiddled with his tea.

 

“Not really,” he said quietly, “I forgave him from the very start. It wasn’t him. The Halloween massacre changed him. He didn’t want to do it, Harry. It was out of his hands.”

 

Harry clamped down on the words he wanted to say about it; it wasn’t supposed to be about them. Harry would never see eye-to-eye with Remus on what Sirius had done to him and it was pointless to even try.

 

“Then I’m sorry for asking,” he said, couldn’t quite keep the bitter tone out of his voice, “I thought it was – something to forgive. Something big. Don’t worry about it. I’ll just go and – forgive him then.”

 

“I don’t understand why you’re upset,” Remus said in his sternest voice. Harry straightened up; Remus barely got angry with him and it was always the worst once he did. “You’ve come here to ask me a question and get angry when I refuse to answer it based on the bare minimum you told me. You just have to accept that Sirius and I have a different relationship than most other people, Harry. I still wouldn’t change it for the world, no matter how often you ask. He’s been so much better; he deserves – praise for it, not your underhanded haggling to find out what’s going on. Just ask me outright not this – this Slytherin way of pretending that there’s something related to Riddle you wanted to ask instead of-“

 

Harry got up; the buzzing had intensified with Remus’s voice and was threatening to overwhelm him, drown him. He was shaking; he was sweating. Remus was still talking but Harry hurried to leave, gripped the wall for support, ignored Remus calling his name. Outside, for a second, they struggled; Harry, in desperation to get away, to stop the buzzing solidifying in awful, hurtful words, pushed at Remus and then socked him in the eye, watched his own fist connecting with Remus’s face as if it was happening in a dream. The second Remus let go of him, reeling from the hit, he apparated, not thinking.

 

He came out in front of their house, opened the door on autopilot. He had no idea if Tom was in; he wasn’t even sure if it would help to see Tom, but he went inside, stood still in the hallway. The whispers had quieted down to buzzing again and just as he was about to call for Tom, he heard a long, drawn-out moan from upstairs, followed by a grunt and the slap of skin on skin.

 

In all that mess, they were fucking without him.

 

Later, he could admit that it was irrational, that it was impulsive, that it was the curse making him overreact this much. In the moment, he couldn’t; everything else he had known of heartbreak paled in comparison. He was barely holding on and they were fucking, and Harry’s mind told him that they would just be fine without him, could continue fucking in peace if they didn’t have to worry about him any longer.

 

He knew which castle they were in in the south of France; Tom had already told him, had wanted to apparate Harry over illegally on the weekend. Harry couldn’t make the jump from London to France in one go, but he made it easily to the coast, over the ocean, down the coast in France until he was roughly in the same area, even if he felt sick with the amount of apparating he had done. He would go and meet them and try to kill Abraxas and then he would allow the curse to kill himself and be done with it.

 

He found the castle after searching for a few hours and in the middle of the night, he made a fist and knocked hard on the door.

 

--

 

The cell they put him in was down in the cellar. It was drafty and icky and cold, and Harry pushed himself into one of its corners and tried to hug some warmth into himself. The torture they had subjected him to to find out what business he had with them had been drawn out and long and he had trouble feeling his feet or hands, had trouble concentrating on anything for longer than a few seconds.

 

He was shaking. Now, after a couple of hours, it seemed like a spectacularly bad idea. He had managed to get in a shot at Abraxas before they took away his wand, but it hadn’t been the killing blow he intended. He had counted on them wanting him dead, but they were much more interested in having him alive.

 

“Little Harry Potter,” Black had sing sung, her crazy eyes fixed on Harry’s face, “such a valuable bargaining chip. What will your husband say to you for playing so naughtily?”

 

He had spat in her face, but they had dragged it out of him anyway, the hard truth that Tom wouldn’t care because he loved him no longer. Abraxas had gotten a very calculating look on his face while Bellatrix had stripped Harry to check if it was because of his endowment but she had only made it down to his boxers by the time Abraxas had stopped the torture and put Harry in his cell.

 

He shivered again. There came no sound from upstairs and Harry rolled into an even tighter ball and tried to rest.

 

--

 

The days that followed were all the same. He spent them staring at the staircase willing them to appear. Each day, food and water would pop up for him and after holding out for a while, he started to drink and eat.

 

--

 

He howled; tried to dig himself out; screamed for Tom, screamed so much for Tom. Bellatrix came down and crucio’ed him, giggling in response to his screams until Abraxas’s booming voice ordered her away.

 

Harry curled into a ball and cried.

 

--

 

He was going crazy.

 

He split his knuckles on the bars. He ripped at his own hair. It had been over two weeks, and nobody came down for him. He couldn’t do it any more, the not knowing, the silence. He felt trapped; he felt closed in; he felt very much at the end of his rope.

 

--

 

Close to the full moon, he started to daydream. He wasn’t angry any longer, just lost and close to death and so desperate. He wanted to get to say goodbye. They didn’t deserve what he did to them; they were likely turning France and the UK upside down to find him. Harry had a hazy memory of naming Abraxas his secret keeper; they were looking for him and couldn’t find him.

 

He remembered their early years, back when everything was bright and easy. Severus’s soft smile on a Sunday morning during the holidays, Tom’s wake-up kisses early in the morning when they needed to get ready for work. All those little gestures and signs of love; Harry’s coffee on the bedside table each morning, his side of the bed heated up in winter, the old broom Severus didn’t throw away because he caught his first Snitch with it even though Severus had tripped over it so many times.

 

Harry wanted a do-over so badly that it hurt in every particle of his body, from toes to teeth.

 

--

 

Five days before the full moon, Tom came down the stairs.

 

Harry felt his throat closing up; fata morgana, he thought and then almost fainted dead away.

 

Tom smirked at him when he stood in front of the bars. It was a smirk Harry had seen before, though never directed at him and for a second, he wanted to fold down and cry; over the betrayal, over the heartbreak, over Tom choosing the wrong side.

 

Then a part of his brain that was still an Auror, despite everything that had happened, realized that he had never seen Tom wear these clothes.

 

Sure, they were a good imitation, but Harry had a habit of burrowing Tom’s clothes until Tom bought new ones once Harry’s bulkier frame had stretched them out. He was all muscle where Tom was all leanness and Tom had given up, didn’t even scold Harry anymore when he put on a shirt or some of his slacks and found them loose. Harry couldn’t really explain why he loved wearing Tom’s stuff so much; it was always too tight and uncomfortable and not Harry’s style, but it had been like this for years now and he hadn’t had any will to stop.

 

These clothes were not any that Tom had owned when Harry had last seen him.

 

The wedding ring was on his finger, the engraving inside invisible. Every outward detail was right, not a hair out of place. And still, something deep inside Harry knew that it wasn’t his Tom; he would bet money on it being Lucius.

 

He had almost cracked under being ignored and locked up, but here it was – his one and only chance to correct the biggest miscalculation of his life. He knew that it had been the curse that had made him apparate, but still; he should have fought it down, tried harder, not allow it to control him so easily.

 

He wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he fucked up this opportunity, too.

 

“Harry, Harry, Harry,” not-Tom said, “whatever will I do with you?”

 

The cadence of his speech was good; but it wasn’t a hundred percent Tom. The cold look in his eyes was good; but that wasn’t a look for Harry. Harry drew himself up, cautious and teary-eyed. Not-Tom needed to believe that Harry believed him, or it was all over.

 

Best not to say anything too soon and so all Harry did was to whisper a teary Tom. He stayed in his corner.

 

Not-Tom’s eyebrows knitted up.

 

“No kiss for your husband?” he asked lightly. Harry pressed himself harder against the wall of his cell; that had sounded just like Tom and he was wavering again, re-assessing Tom’s dress, the way he held himself. Tom’s eyes were alert, looking at him. Harry swallowed and looked back down, fought down the urge to ask him a question.

 

“Go ahead,” not-Tom said, “ask me something only I would know.”

 

Harry tried to occlude, but focus was hard to gain. He didn’t look up, mind a blank.

 

“Harry,” Tom gently chimed.

 

“What did we do for our last anniversary?” Harry whispered. His voice was too quiet, and not-Tom asked him to repeat himself. Harry did, pressed himself closer to the wall, even though he could barely do so.

 

“I took you to New York,” not-Tom said softly, “we took a Muggle airplane because you always wanted to take one. It was barely tolerable.”

 

Harry swallowed again. That was true, and Tom wouldn’t have told anyone, had already lost his cool when Severus had laughed himself sick about the thought of them on a plane. Tom had been embarrassed and in a bad mood; he would have never told someone from the old pure-blood families.

 

“No,” Harry croaked out, not in response to the answer, but in response to what the answer meant.

 

“I know this is a shock,” maybe-Tom said quietly, “I know you’ll need some time to mull it over. You won’t need to worry; you’re safe. But I can’t let you out until you’re on our side, Harry.”

 

“What – what does your side want?” Harry asked. He needed him to talk a bit more, to see if he slipped up.

 

“A new government,” Tom said, “no longer to hide. More freedom for our beasts and beings. A strict restriction on Muggle-borns. We are facing a serious issue of our magic running out in a few years. We need to prepare for it and Dumbledore is not doing his part.”

 

Harry looked at him. The buzzing threatened to throw him down; he tasted vomit in the back of his throat.

 

“I want to go home,” he heard himself say, shivery and weak.

 

“We can’t just now,” Tom said quietly, “be a good boy and rest a little. We will talk more tomorrow.”

 

“Don’t leave me here,” Harry said, but Tom tutted at him and turned around. Up on the stairs, he looked back at Harry.

 

“A lot of things will change, Harry,” he said, “for society, for the country. But also for us. I can’t tolerate you being insubordinate to me. Take some time to think. We’ll talk soon.”

 

--

 

He had to keep believing that it was not-Tom because if it was Tom, there would be nothing left. Then Harry’s whole life would have been – a fault, a story you could tell your kids as a cautioning tale. If this was his Tom, the Tom he had thought to know now for over six years, the Tom who knew Harry better than Harry knew himself, then it had all been a horrible, terrible –

 

Harry cut that train of thought. He could compartmentalize and that was what he was doing now. He had to. He had to somehow make it out and find his Tom, the real Tom, the Tom who –

 

No, Harry told himself. He shivered; it was cold in the cell. His injury was holding up. God, he wished that Severus was down there with him. Severus could tell with one probe into his mind if that Tom was their Tom and –

 

“Fuck,” Harry said. He couldn’t stop himself from thinking about it. He tried to recall everything, everything not-Tom had done but it didn’t work; his mind felt like a blank slate. What did not-Tom say that the real Tom would never say? What did –

 

He stopped, thought he heard people coming down the stairs, but there was nothing, just silence. Tom hadn’t been down again; it wasn’t like him to let Harry rot down here, but if he was really Harry’s Tom then he had not ever known him at all anyway.

 

It was two days until the full moon and Harry felt keyed-up. He couldn’t stomach the food, couldn’t sit still and he prowled his cage, unsettled and nervous.

 

Shortly after his dinner had disappeared again, he finally heard steps coming down towards him. It was Tom; he was wearing an old crème shirt Harry recognized and his stomach plummeted down, so far down that he had to retch against his will.

 

“Don’t, Harry,” Tom said quietly. He conjured up a stool and sat down, crossed his legs and studied Harry for a long, long time.

 

“You probably wonder how it all started,” Tom said softly, “I wasn’t part of their group until recently. But when I found out that you had come here, I had to negotiate. We had other plans, but frankly Harry, you kind of fucked them up.”

 

It wasn’t like Tom to talk in crude words, but he did so occasionally, usually when he wanted to make an important point. Harry folded down in the corner of his cell that was furthest away from him and turned around, leaned his head against the stone-wall.

 

“I talked to Abraxas,” Tom continued, “he made a few excellent points. We do not agree on all accounts, but he has my support. After your shift, he will cancel the curse. I will take you back home on the promise that you will support us. Abraxas and I differ on some finer points, like coercion versus violence, short versus long-term goals but we will solve these problems. You will support me in whatever course I take.”

 

“What does Severus say?” Harry asked. He couldn’t stay passive; had to keep operating on the premise that this was not his Tom, that he could unsettle him enough to make him fuck up.

 

Tom sighed.

 

“We don’t see eye to eye on this,” Tom said, “frankly, he’s furious with me. He made a promise on your health to not take action right now, but it’s – a problem, Harry.”

 

“I want to leave,” Harry said. Tom sighed again and got up from his chair, coming closer towards the bars.

 

“And I wish you could,” Tom said, “but Abraxas won’t trust me unless you are down here. I can’t break you out. We will have to live like this a while longer, darling.”

 

“Don’t call me that,” Harry hissed. He was still not sure; it was impossible to tell if he was talking to Lucius or Tom.

 

“Okay, Harry,” Tom said quietly, placating him. They stood in silence for some time.

 

“I know you think it isn’t me,” Tom said. “But you must face the facts. If you have other questions for me, just ask them. The sooner you let go of the idea that it’s someone on Polyjuice, the sooner I can get you out.”

 

“You’re not you,” Harry said, almost to himself.

 

“Harry,” Tom said, “why do you think they’re leaving you alone? Surely not because of the goodness of their hearts. They have some pretty horrible plans for you and the full moon. Cooperate before that with me or I can’t protect you.”

 

“What do you want from me?” Harry hissed, unnerved with the hidden threat.

 

“I want you to make an unbreakable with me,” Tom said, “in front of Abraxas. You swear that you will support our cause.”

 

“It’s much too unprecise,” Harry said, “I can’t believe you would ask me to do that. The possibilities for coercion are endless. You – the real Tom would never do this to me.”

 

“The real Tom,” Tom said quietly, “the real Tom did some truly horrible things in his past. The Halloween massacre was not even half of it, Harry. I admit that I – mellowed. But our magic is disappearing. And I am very eager to stop that. I want you at my side for it. I very much do not want you at Abraxas’s mercy. You have to trust that I won’t abuse the vow, but it is the only way to get you out of here.”

 

“You could take them,” Harry countered, “you always said you could – you –“

 

“I have talked to them,” Tom interrupted, “their plans sound better to me than any we have in place. Harry. We can’t stop the disappearing of our magic without a massive disruption of our society. They can provide that better. It is a trade-off; not one I’m entirely comfortable with. But still. I am on their side.”

 

“Even though they did this to me?” Harry asked, angrily indicating his injury.

 

Tom tracked the movement of his hand, eyes resting on Harry’s side for a long time.

 

“I’m furious about that,” he said quietly, “but it’s been done. We can’t turn back time.”

 

Harry shook his head at him, not able to look at him any longer.

 

“Please make your mind up, Harry,” Tom said, “they – you won’t like what they plan for the full moon if you don’t comply by then.”

 

“What happens if I don’t comply at all?” Harry asked.

 

Tom vanished the chair, slowly making his way up the stairs. Harry was sure he wouldn’t answer, but just before he left Harry’s field of vision, Tom turned back around.

 

“Imperius,” he said, “or you stay down here. Or they’ll kill you. They haven’t decided yet.”

 

He turned around, took another step, before stopping again.

 

“I don’t want you dead,” he said very quietly, “not at all. Please, Harry.”

 

Then he left.

 

--

 

He wasn’t Tom; couldn’t be Tom. They tried to trick him; Harry had to keep believing that or he would go insane.

 

The next day, he resisted the Unbreakable on those grounds. Tom swallowed, and swallowed, and said: “Don’t be stupid.”

 

Harry turned away from him and Tom left. There was a bit too much flair in his walk, the way he turned around; for a second, Harry thought he could see Lucius shine through clearly, but after Tom had left, he wasn’t so sure any longer.

 

He waited. The hours ticked by. Then, late at night, when Harry’s body was already fighting the shift, but he was still very sane, Abraxas came down with a two heavily shackled men.

 

Harry recognized them instantly.

 

As he had thought, they were Muggle werewolves, both clearly confused, dazed and scared. They were less big than Harry remembered; just like him they were fighting the shift.

 

“Mr. Potter,” Abraxas said cordially. Harry drew up; he would face this last battle head on; in a way the real Tom could be proud of once he inevitably found what would be left of Harry.

 

“I thought a little reunion might not be amiss,” Abraxas continued, “unless you have changed your mind?”

 

“You killed my parents,” Harry said calmly, “I would never work with you.”

 

“I’ll give you a little more time to think it over,” Abraxas said smoothly, calming opening the door to Harry’s cell before levitating his attackers inside.

 

“Their shackles will disappear in an hour,” Abraxas said. He didn’t need to add that they would start to shift at roughly that time; Harry knew well enough.

 

“You can call me any time before that,” Abraxas said and turned. The door closed behind him with a click; Harry watched the men.

 

They both struggled to talk; had clearly been hexed unable to do so.

 

Harry opened his mouth, closed it again. He didn’t know what to say and so he turned, leaned his burning head against the cool wall of the cell.

 

He could already taste the moon, feel it in his blood and he had no idea what to do.

Chapter Text

A booming crash rocked the castle shortly before Harry was to turn. He fell flat on his face, but kept his eyes on his attackers, saw their shackles disintegrating. Harry had no illusions; he was still not even able to remember what he was like as a werewolf, but they had hunted together before, had hunted him and they would overpower and kill him this time for real.

 

Above, there was screaming. The men hunched, fighting the shift the same way Harry did. He screamed for Tom on pure impulse; if the attack came from his husband, he needed Tom to find him now or there would be nothing left of him.

 

Loud shouts from above. A crash, the sound of spellfire. His attackers kneeled, ready to pounce into action. Harry lifted his hands to placate them, groaned when another tear of the shift ripped through him. And then, like a fucking knight in shining armor, no matter the cliché, a harried looking Tom was running down the stairs, skidded to a halt in front of Harry’s cell, almost ran past it in his haste.

 

He appraised the situation with a look; shot a spell in between Harry’s attackers and Harry. A shivering wall erected between them; Harry had never seen that spell before, but Harry knew it was no help; werewolves were old powerful magic coming from the earth and no wizard’s magic could keep them contained for long, unless it was rooted in ritual.

 

“We’re turning,” he said, desperately, because this Tom, this Tom was wearing clothes head to toe that Harry knew, this Tom’s face was all worry and love and underlying panic, not threatening or calculating.

 

“I know,” Tom said, “I know. But don’t worry; I’ll just need you out of this cage. I’m taking you home. There’s still time.”

 

“The moon’s already up in London,” Harry argued back and whimpered when the shift pressed him down on his knees.

 

Harry,” Tom said and then fumbled with the lock, turned it to spell it open.

 

“Alohomora,” he said, “apertum. Munito. Patefio. Fuck. Retego. Harry, are you alright?”

 

Harry couldn’t shake his head, couldn’t say a word. He needed to ask this Tom questions, needed to ascertain that it was really his Tom, but all Harry could do was fight the shift; he couldn’t turn with Tom trying to get him out, with his attackers already hunching themselves against Tom’s spell barrier. Tom got the lock open before Harry could say a word, and he scrambled, scrambled in the corner furthest away. He was scared now, scared he would hurt this Tom, scared that it still wasn’t his Tom and he needed to watch this Tom to make sense of any of it and he-

 

“Fuck,” Tom said, “fuck. Baby. It’s okay. I’ve seen – I know what they did. But this is me. I’m getting you out and then I’m getting you home. Okay, Harry?”

 

“I want Severus,” Harry heard himself say. Tom nodded. “Of course,” he said, voice pitched low and soothing, “he’s upstairs. You can see him after you’ve changed. Harry, please let me get you out, right now.”

 

“Tom?” Harry asked. He didn’t really know why, knew they were running out of time, knew that no spell could contain Harry once he was shifted, unless Tom closed that door again, but he needed – something, he needed –

 

“It’s me,” Tom said, hands up, face more earnest than Harry had ever seen, “it’s me. It was Lucius pretending to be me. I’ll show you after the full moon; I’ll show you the full memory. Hush, Harry. Let me get you, darling, please?”

 

“Tom?” Harry asked again. He didn’t know why; his heart was beating so fast, fingers already turning into claws -

 

“I met you in a lift at the Ministry,” Tom said very quietly, very fast, “and I fell in love immediately. You’re the only person I ever told about the orphanage. I’m the first person you ever told about the cupboard. Your patronus is a stag. I still can’t do one but when I think of you I’m almost there. You tell me that you love me whenever you fuck me and come inside me. You –“

 

“I know you’re you,” Harry said, “I just don’t know that that – wasn’t you.”

 

Tom’s chin trembled, just for a second before he had himself back under control.

 

“He’s upstairs,” he said, “you can see it all after you’ve shifted. Harry. We need to move, darling, please.”

 

“Is it over?” Harry asked, and Tom appeared to make up his mind, lifted his wand. His spell barrier transformed into solid iron bars, effectively separating Harry from his attackers and Tom added a sound and sight barrier, hid them from Harry’s eyes. It would need to be maintained, but as long as Tom was close by it looked pretty solid; this kind of construction magic was hard, and Harry knew he couldn’t have done it himself.

 

When he was done with it, Tom didn’t come closer, left Harry’s cell instead, spelled the door shut again. Harry had a moment of panic so blinding he was sure he would die with it, but Tom settled down on the other side of the cage, closer than he should be.

 

“It’s over,” he said, “you’ll shift, I’ll take you to St. Mungo’s and in a few weeks, you’ll come home with me. I love you. I’m so happy I got to you in time.”

 

“Don’t do anything to them, they’re just Muggles” Harry pleaded; he had trouble getting the words out through his descending fangs.

 

“I won’t,” Tom promised, “it’s okay. I’m here. It’s over.”

 

Harry howled in response.

 

--

 

Tom watched Harry struggle against sleep. There had been signs that Harry was finally waking up for a little over a day now and Tom hadn’t left his side, knew that Harry needed to see him once he woke up.

 

Harry’s body was battered; he had ridden the edge for almost a week before Ron had brought the curse, the sepsis under control. Now they were treating symptoms, trying to keep Harry’s inflammation levels at a low; it wasn’t easy, and Severus spent a lot of time brewing and improving on formulas.

 

Tom spent all his time; strictly all his time; with Harry.

 

He had told Albus so when they were getting ready to take the portkey and Albus had looked him over. “If you would have wanted to come in,” Albus had said, “I might need to fire you after all.”

 

“You put too much of Grindelwald into me, Albus,” Tom had said. Normally, he wouldn’t have dared, being one of the few who knew more about their history than others; but his nerves were stretched thin and the thought of Harry, his Harry at the mercy of Bellatrix and Abraxas had made him uncaring for anything but Harry.

 

Albus smiled, a brief upturn of the lips.

 

“By now,” he had admitted, “yes. Ten years ago, not so much.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Tom had said. He was; he wasn’t the person he had once been, and he didn’t like to think back to that person.

 

“Don’t be so harsh on yourself,” Albus had said, “you’ve changed. That’s something to be proud of.”

 

Tom still read the news, the press clippings, the analysis his staff wrote and send over. But he caught himself drifting off more than once, just staring at Harry, Harry’s beloved face, hollow and sunken with dark circles and bruises all over him. He spent a godawful amount of time kissing Harry’s fingers, carefully kissing all the scratches, the swollen knuckles, the split nails. He spent a lot of time just sitting and looking at Harry, feeling so thankful that he got to do it again that he had to swallow down tears.

 

Nothing that had happened mattered any more to Tom. It didn’t matter that Harry had run off; it didn’t matter that Harry hadn’t yet forgiven him. He was alive; Tom got another chance to do right by him and if Harry didn’t want that it still didn’t matter, because Harry would at least continue to exist, to breath and laugh and love again, eventually.

 

Tom would never ask again for more.

 

Harry made a tiny whimpering sound, brows drawing together, scrunching up as if he was in pain or in the middle of a nightmare. Tom put his reading away and leaned closer; he hadn’t been paying attention anyway.

 

“It’s okay,” he said quietly. So far, Harry had reacted positively to Tom’s voice and he wouldn’t stop talking to him if hearing him calmed Harry down.

 

“You’re almost there,” he promised, “I’ll be seeing you today or tomorrow. Don’t rush yourself.”

 

Harry’s mouth fell open. His lips were dry and cracked and Tom reached for the lip balm Severus had made him, carefully applied some of it on Harry before putting it back away. He gently run his fingers over Harry’s forehead, up into his hair, the way he knew Harry liked it.

 

“My darling,” he said quietly. Harry’s eyelids flattered but stayed close and Tom didn’t move, kept looking at him, not bothered by the political war he knew raged outside, only interested in every breath Harry took in.

 

--

 

“Hey,” Severus said quietly, pressed a kiss against Tom’s hair, kept his lips there for a moment.

 

“Hey,” Tom answered just as quietly, turned away from Harry to look up at Severus. He looked tired; they both did.

 

“How was he today?” Severus asked, not taking his hands from Tom’s shoulders, and Tom leaned against him a little.

 

“Still trying to wake up,” Tom said, “not much else. Ronald said that he was doing okay, doing as expected. He run another fever, but it subsided a few hours ago.”

 

“Good,” Severus said, “and you?”

 

“I left him for ten minutes and took a real shower with water,” Tom said, “and did quite an amount of work.”

 

“Sure, sure,” Severus said, clearly not believing a word of it.

 

“I’m sorry,” Tom said, “but I have to be here. At the very least for his safety. I know they are all in custody, but they are also all still alive.”

 

“I can’t believe that you listened to Dumbledore,” Severus said, “your wand was already glowing green.”

 

“I could admit that it would be better to cancel the curse after his shift, not in the middle of it,” Tom said, and Severus huffed. They both knew that Tom had been beyond rational arguments when he decided against killing Abraxas.

 

“He’s safe here,” Severus said gently, “you can go home and sleep.”

 

“Once he’s awake,” Tom said, “not before. I need to be here when he’s waking up.”

 

“Yes,” Severus said, “I agree.” He gently squeezed Tom’s shoulders, rubbed his neck for a moment while they both watched Harry sleep.

 

“He’s still looking so bad,” Severus said. Tom looked at Harry, observed the rise and fall of his chest.

 

“He’ll pull through,” Tom said; Ronald had confirmed it this morning, “he’ll gain back the weight and the bruises will fade.”

 

“Did you probe his mind?” Severus asked bluntly, and Tom shook his head.

 

“Not since the cell,” he admitted. It was how he had known what had made Harry go to France; Severus had barely kept him from killing Lupin; how he had known what Harry had had to go through.

 

They came out on top in the end, because of Harry, but Tom would have much preferred doing it another way, would have preferred to never have to see the signs of torture all over Harry’s body.

 

Harry whimpered; they both looked down at him immediately. His brows were scrunching up again; his lids slip open, just for a second.

 

 Tom leaned forward immediately, reached out to stroke Harry’s forehead; Severus stepped up to the other side of Harry’s bed.

 

“We’re here, darling,” Tom said, “you’re just fine. Don’t hurry yourself.”

 

Harry’s eyes opened again, briefly, unfocused.

 

Tom gently steadied his head, turned so that he was in Harry’s line of vision; Severus leaned closer. Harry moaned underneath them, a sound filled with pain.

 

“Hush, Harry,” Tom said, “you’re okay. Don’t struggle. Just go back to sleep if you’re not ready.”

 

Harry opened his eyes again, this time looking at Tom. His lips curved up for just a second before his face went slack again, before he settled into deeper slumber.

 

“Well, it’s something,” Severus said next to Tom and Tom nodded; it was something.

 

It was everything.

 

--

 

“It’s okay,” Tom said to him while Harry strained, strained against whatever it was that was holding him down. Harry couldn’t really open his eyes, but the light that filtered through the eye slits he managed to get open felt as if it was directly stabbing his brain. He cried out; he was sinking; he wasn’t sure where he was, he was-

 

Tom slipped his fingers into Harry’s hair, gently gripping. It was the grip he had used on Harry so many times during sex and the fight went out of Harry’s body, just like that. All that it left was a pounding inside himself, a horrible, horrible pain that spread from the bites all over.

 

Harry breathed in on a sob. He keened without wanting to, but he could hold nothing in any more, could find no control, was beyond caring if someone thought him weak for it. They had seen him so low and once Harry would have been embarrassed about it but after everything, all he could be was to be thankful that they were still with him.

 

Tom’s lips pressed against his temple, grounding him, soothing him. Harry managed to turn his head a little and Tom moved his lips to Harry’s forehead, just resting there. Harry sobbed again, and Tom whispered against him, a simple, soft sound to let Harry know that he wasn’t alone.

 

“Tom,” Harry tried to say and couldn’t. Tom didn’t move, one hand in Harry’s hair, lips on his forehead. His other hand came up and started to slowly stroke over Harry’s chest.

 

Harry breathed out. He was wheezy but not crying anymore. Tom started to hum for him and Harry drifted, endlessly tired.

 

--

 

“Easy,” Tom said some days later when Harry was fully coherent for the first time and tried to struggle up.

 

Tom looked – old. There were new lines on his face and his skin looked haggard and sallow and Harry reached out for him before even fully registering where he was.

 

Tom sat down on his bed and wrapped Harry into his arms, hid his face against Harry’s hair.

 

“Did you get them?” Harry asked. His voice was weak and sounded as if he was ten and Harry scowled against Tom’s chest.

 

“Yes,” Tom said simply, “my darling. Harry, I was so worried for you. Just rest. You’re not at a hundred percent yet. Severus and I got you and Ron is treating you and they will all get the kiss and you don’t need to worry about anything else than getting better, okay?”

 

“Hm,” Harry said. He couldn’t really follow Tom and Tom leaned his head back a little, looked at his face and then kissed his eyelids.

 

“I’ve developed a new outlook to all of this,” he said, “from now on, I’m just going to be happy for every day I can have with you“ but Harry didn’t hear him, was already asleep again.

 

--

 

He woke in the night, dizzy and disoriented. A hand smoothed back his hair.

 

“We really have to cut that,” Severus said, and Harry lolled his head around until he could see him.

 

Harry shivered. There’s was some hustle and bustle out in the hallway, lights going on and off. Somewhere, someone screamed, and Harry tried to burrow back in the blankets. They weren’t soft and comfortable, and it was all around horrible, and he wanted to be at home with Tom and –

 

“Easy,” Severus said. He drew the privacy curtain around Harry’s bed, whispered “exmusicorum”. The sounds from the hallway stopped.

 

“Let’s see,” Severus said quietly and stroked down Harry’s back. He twirled his wand in a fanning motion and Harry’s shirt that he had soaked through with sweat once more softly dried. “Calidor,” Severus said, and Harry’s skin prickled with warmth; it almost felt as if the warmth was rushing through his veins as well.

 

“Blanket,” Harry mumbled, and Severus huffed very fondly.

 

“I think I have something better for you than a blanket,” Severus said and went outside of the privacy screen, came back a moment later with one of Tom’s coats. It smelled like Tom and Harry sighed contentedly when Severus floated it down on him.

 

“Hug,” Harry begged, and Severus said a very quiet “of course, darling”. Another flick of his wand and he slipped off his shoes before they walked neatly underneath the bed. Severus took off his own coat and put it over his chair before climbing up on Harry’s uninjured side, carefully arranging them until Harry was safely resting on his shoulder.

 

“Story?” Harry asked and tried not to sound too hopeful.

 

“A long, long time ago,” Severus said and carded his hand through Harry’s hair, “in a galaxy far, far away…”

 

Harry snorted. Then he slept.

 

--

 

“Hey Harry,” Severus said. His voice was very soft, and Harry struggled for a long moment against the sleepiness before he could open his eyes.

 

Severus was sitting on his bed, one knee drawn up to look at Harry. He smiled when he saw Harry looking at him, leaned forward to touch a hand to Harry’s forehead.

 

“Still feeling blue, hm?” he said and rested his fingers on Harry’s neck.

 

“Wanna go home,” Harry slurred. The noise of the hallway had kept him up at night again; he wanted his own bed. It didn’t help that Severus or Tom stayed with him during all nights now; all Harry wanted was to be at home.

 

“Soon,” Severus said soothingly. He took out a small vial and swirled the liquid inside. The vial had a stopper in it and Severus drew some of the potion in. “Tongue out, Harry,” he said, and Harry obliged, grimacing when the bitter taste of the drops penetrated.

 

“What is it?” he mumbled, and Severus pocketed the vial and got out another.

 

“Mood stabilization,” he said, “this one is nutrimental. The one you’re going to take after his anti-inflammation.”

 

“Hospital?” Harry asked, not up to forming full sentences.

 

“Mine are better,” Severus said. Harry could tell that something else was up, but he couldn’t form the words and Severus gave him the other potions, before carding a hand through Harry’s hair.

 

“I need a few strands,” he said softly, “you don’t mind, do you?”

 

“No,” Harry mumbled, and Severus clipped them off easily before kissing Harry, soft dry presses of his lips all over Harry’s face.

 

--

 

Tom fed him, spoon after spoon of homemade potato soup. It was almost June, but Harry was cold all the time and he appreciated Tom’s effort with the food, even if he didn’t appreciate his inability to feed himself.

 

“It’s no matter, Harry,” Tom had said when Harry had at first been too embarrassed to allow Tom to feed him. “It’s such a small thing. Just allow me to do it. I don’t want a nurse to do it. I don’t want a spell to do it. It’s my right; let me do it.”

 

“More?” Tom was asking now, but Harry shook his head, too tired. The tiredness drove him crazy; Ron kept saying that it was best for him if he slept a lot, but Harry couldn’t agree, wanted out of bed so badly he shook with it.

 

Tom put the food away, quick and efficient. Harry watched him drowsily, waited for him to finish.

 

“Can you read me the Prophet again today?” he asked when Tom settled back down.

 

Tom nodded and leaned forward, took up the Prophet.

 

“You have this grand selection of articles to choose from,” he said, “one: is Abraxas Malfoy really Albus Dumbledore? Two: France Ministry seeks compensation for destruction of castle and three – my personal favorite: Is Tom Riddle’s homosexuality responsible for all this mess?”

 

“You’re kidding,” Harry said.

 

Tom laughed. “Nope,” he said, “I already read it. My depravation turns everyone around me into monsters. Literally, in your case.”

“Thank you,” Harry said as dry as he could, and Tom grinned, settled down next to Harry.

 

“Tom Marvolo Riddle,” he began, “last heir of Salazar Slytherin has always been a little eccentric but recently questions arouse whether…”

 

Harry was asleep within five minutes, but it was fine; he knew that Tom would keep reading.

 

--

 

“I think the biggest issue is the shift,” Ron said. He was standing in front of Harry with crossed arms and reading a printout of Harry’s most recent stats. “I doubt the bites will remain closed. Plus, he’s pretty fucking weak overall right now. He will not feel the shift for three days, he’ll feel it for much longer. All progress he made will be eradicated.”

 

“And yet,” Tom said, in a voice that Harry knew promised nothing good, “the shift is not something we can just switch off.”

 

“Has anyone ever tried just apparating away from the moon a whole night?” Ron asked, “the shift is triggered by the moon. If he doesn’t see the moon then-“

 

“Doesn’t work,” Severus interrupted, “he doesn’t need to see the moon for the turn. And it’s been tried. Result was an unbearably hurtful shift the next time around, plus not changing back after one night, but only after a few days. I would expect the ramifications of not turning to grow exponentially.”

 

“Fuck,” Ron said, “I knew the shift would be a problem, but I also counted on him bouncing back quicker. When we discussed the plans, we never considered that he would get tortured. He’s in a much worse state than I was prepared for and we cannot hurry it along. He needs more time before the shift.”

 

“Or?” Tom asked. Harry shifted between them, half awake, half asleep, half listening, fully not caring. Tom slip his hands into Harry’s hair, gently scratching his scalp and he settled.

 

“He won’t die,” Ron said, “but long-lasting effects of the curse and the sepsis and the torture will be profound. His neurological damage isn’t bad right now, but it will get worse. I fear he’ll lose function in his left arm completely. His immune system is at the breaking point and it will take years to build it back up if it has to deal with another infection due to the shift. The fevers won’t go away and they’re taxing. And frankly, he’s just – completely run-down emotionally. He needs to be out of here, return to normalcy. You guys need to talk about what happened, about the curse. He’s fleeing into sleep. His physical state is worrying enough but I am more and more concerned about his emotional state too. I think he’s developing early onset symptoms for depression.”

 

“Yes,” Severus said, “he does. We see it, we recognize it, but he can’t start therapy as long as he’s only awake for one hour at a time.”

 

“I know,” Ron said, “I know. Let’s back up again and talk about preventing the shift. Let’s just throw ideas out there. Time-turning?”

 

“Unforeseen consequences,” Tom said, “but could work unless we would see the same effects apparating away from the moon is having.”

 

“Apparating him on the moon,” Ron said, “can he be prompted to shift on the moon itself?”

 

Severus snorted. “No idea,” he said, “but contrary to Muggles we haven’t made in up on the moon. Figuring out how to do that in under seven days; I doubt we could to it.”

“The problem isn’t really the shift, is it,” Tom said quietly, “the shift itself takes less than a second once it overpowers him. The problems are the hours beforehand when he fights it, strains against it. The most damage to his injuries happens then, not during the shift, never when he turns back. Turning back is easy; one moment he’s a wolf, the next he’s human, sleeping peacefully.”

 

“So we drug him,” Ron said, “up to the gills.”

 

“His werewolf physiology burns through all common potions,” Severus said, “I can work on designing something stronger, but we must expect side-effects. I won’t have time to test.”

 

“He fights it because it scares him,” Tom said, clearly not listening to them, “he fights it because he’s dreading going insane. Being a wolf isn’t scary to him, losing his sense of self is. It’s completely instinctual; he can’t stop himself fighting it even though he rationally knows it’s doing even more harm.”

 

“And?” Ron said.

 

Tom looked down at Harry and Harry opened one eye to peek at him. Tom smiled, soft and fond.

 

“If he’s not scared,” he said, “he won’t fight it.”

 

“Can you design a potion to make him feel unafraid?” Ron said, sounding doubtful.

 

“There are several on the market already,” Severus said, “none of these will work for him. I can look into it, but-“

 

“I’ll take care of it,” Tom interrupted. “Harry, darling, open your eyes for a moment.”

 

Harry did, not without grumbling.

 

“Do you trust me to get you through the full moon?” Tom said quietly. He had leaned down; both Severus and Ron were staring at them.

 

“How?” Harry mumbled and yawned, wrinkled his nose. Tom got that look on his face that Harry loved; that extreme look of fondness that he used to hide away.

 

He never did that anymore and it was an answer enough.

 

“Yes,” Harry said before Tom could answer, “much too tired to listen to it anyway. I trust you. Sorry for apparating directly into their hands. That was really stupid. Even for me.”

“Not sure, I agree,” Ron said, “you did once steal from Severus.”

 

“More than once,” Severus said, “but I wasn’t allowed to kill him without evidence.”

“And he did fight that basilisk,” Ron said, “when he was twelve.

 

“Don’t remind me,” Severus said, “I still have nightmares about that.”

 

“Harry,” Tom said quietly, ignoring them, “are you sure?”

 

Harry knew that he was asking for more than just blanket consent.

 

“I know we need to talk,” he said, “about so much. But I apparated because of the curse. You must trust me on that.”

 

“I do,” Tom said, “go to sleep.”

 

“Yes,” Ron said, “mate, you look pathetic, trying to stay awake. Just stop fighting it.”

 

Harry smiled. Ron hadn’t called him mate in years.

 

--

 

The day of the full moon, Tom took Harry home.

 

It was just for the day, but Harry was still happy about it. He could neither walk for long, nor stand up much but he could do it well enough to trail their house, touch the trinkets of their life, realize that after everything, he was a person able to forgive.

 

Tom watched him quietly settle down on the couch. There was a hungry look in his eyes, though he tried to hide it.

 

“I can’t wait for normalcy to start again,” Harry told him, and Tom came closer, settled down next to Harry. He reached out a tentative hand, gently touching the side of Harry’s face.

 

“This is normalcy now, Harry,” he said quietly, “the way you’re now is just – normal. Just enough.”

 

“Yes, yes,” Harry said, “but I want to be back home. Go to work. Have you make me coffee in the morning. Not fall asleep every 30 minutes.”

 

“Be back home here?” Tom asked very quietly. There was a special tone in his voice and Harry leaned his head back, studied him.

 

“I had such a shitty childhood,” Harry said, “such a shitty, shitty childhood. It’s been hard for me to accept that you – had a part in me having that childhood.”

 

Tom swallowed. He didn’t break eye contact, but he also didn’t say anything.

 

“But worse – way worse – was the way you told me,” Harry said, “I know it’s been the curse and the potion they fed you. But it has still broken my heart. And my trust has been – shaken. In you and me and Severus as a whole. It has shaken me that we couldn’t make it through, the three of us.”

 

“We did in the end,” Tom interjected quietly. Harry smiled at him, reached out a careful hand. Tom linked their fingers.

 

“There’s been good stuff in there, too,” Harry said, “you telling me you love me. That means so much to me.”

 

“Before you were bitten,” Tom said. He stopped, swallowed, broke their eye contact and Harry’s hear swelled. “Before that,” Tom continued in such a hoarse voice that Harry leaned closer, “I would have never thought that we were so – fragile. But we’re still here. I’m still – so in love with you. But I can accept if you’re feelings have changed. I can accept if you want – to end things. I can accept if you-“

 

“I don’t want that,” Harry interrupted, not able to take it anymore, “Tom, not at all. But I can’t take no more secrets. If it’s my life, I need to know. Okay?”

 

Tom’s jaw worked for a long moment. Then he looked up and Harry, knowing the look, braised himself.


“I made two horcruxes,” Tom said, “I splintered my soul. When I met you I thought myself healed, foolishly. I thought I was somehow whole again. But the last nine months, I felt – I felt as if my soul just kept on splintering all the time.”

 

Harry closed his eyes, tried to breathe through it.

 

“I don’t deserve you or Severus,” Tom said in his silence, “I’m beyond deserving you. I don’t deserve your love or your comfort. I fooled myself – I –“

 

“I forgive you,” Harry said, loudly, clearly. He found eye contact and held it and repeated it. “I forgive you,” he said, more softly now. He had almost died, almost really died, not the way he used to sometimes almost die back on the job. Death had become tragically real; what it would have done to those he loved had become tragically real. He didn’t want to continue trifling around, wanted to go forward, but with them and he found forgiveness easy to come under these circumstances.

 

Tom’s face had never been so raw, so open, so naked in front of him and Harry held on to his fingers, dizzy now.

 

“For Halloween,” Harry said, “for hurting so much to do that to yourself. For being too scared to tell me. It doesn’t speak of me as a person, but I forgave you pretty much straight away, but I needed to hold on to my hurt – to know that you were serious about making amends. I could only not forgive if – if you had done it out of wishing to hurt or punish me. But you didn’t tell me about our role in the massacre out of love, however twisted that is but I – I don’t care. I love you too much not to forgive you. I almost died. I almost lost you and Severus and if all it takes to have both you back is my forgiveness, then you have it.”

 

“I don’t deserve it,” Tom repeated but his whole body was straining, straining towards Harry, and Harry realized with absolute clarity that nobody had ever forgiven Tom anything; all those expectations on him due to his power and lineage and intellect, all that loneliness and horror of his childhood he had hidden away. Harry knew a thing or two about feeling worthless yet trying to proof your worth and he hadn’t seen it before; how sure Tom was not to deserve forgiveness over his past, how scared he had been to ask for it.

 

“I forgive you anyway,” Harry said quietly. Tom breathed in, a huge shock of breath and then his eyes grew moist and Harry drew him down and forward. He had a moment to feel a profound shock about the Horcrux revelation, but he just held on to Tom’s shaking shoulders. He could guess that it had been a long time ago, imagined the younger Tom he knew mostly from pictures, such a serious face. He had shared the same desperation, the same burning need to prove he belonged; he could imagine Tom’s terror when he had created them and realized that making them did not make him invincible in the way that matter; when he had had to realize that other people could still hurt him.

 

It was a crime; a horrible crime that deserved punishment by their justice system and yet. Tom was Harry’s family; coming from a life where he knew what it meant to have none, he would rather die than betray him.

 

“I want to take it back,” Tom said against him. His voice was higher, like that of a child and Harry gripped him, brought him even closer. Based on what he knew of Tom’s life, he guessed early twenties when he had made them, and Harry’s heart ached with it.

 

“I want my soul back,” Tom said, “I want – I want them back alive. I’m so sorry for doing that to them. I fucked up. I fucked up so badly. I don’t understand why I did it. I wanted to become – I was so scared of dying but it wasn’t the truth; I thought if I splintered my soul I finally had an excuse for feeling nothing and I – I didn’t know you could grow to love someone – I thought I was doomed to be so lonely. I was so lonely. I was so lonely. I thought I-“

 

Harry hugged him, allowed him to ramble. They sat like this until the fire burned down.

 

--

 

Tom hovered while Harry brushed his teeth after dinner. They had another hour before Harry would start to shift and Harry turned to him, appraised him.

 

Tom had apologized for bothering Harry with his secrets on this night of all nights for about 40 times now and he looked as if he wanted to have another go at it.  

 

“Don’t,” Harry said preemptively, and Tom jerked, nodded after a second. He opened his mouth; closed it.

 

They settled down in the cellar, in Harry’s cage, Harry on Tom’s chest.

 

“This feels like saying goodbye, even though Ron said I wouldn’t die,” Harry observed. Tom groaned.

 

“Please don’t make jokes about your mortality,” Tom said, “it makes me very nervous.”

 

Harry laughed, leaned up for a kiss. He was tired and broke it off quickly enough. Tom rearranged them a little; Harry was horrible comfortable.

 

“I’m going to fall asleep,” he mumbled, and Tom laughed, softly.

 

“Just as well,” he said quietly, “I will put you under a dormio anyway.”

 

“You’ll peek, won’t you?” Harry mumbled, and Tom stroked through his hair.

 

“I’ll take your consciousness where you feel safest,” he said, “and since you refuse to tell me where that’ll be, yes I’ll peek. But only there.”

 

“I’m not refusing,” Harry said, “I just have no idea where I’ll feel safest. I really hope you’ll be correct that I have – that safe space.”

“You do,” Tom said, “all consciousnesses have it.”

 

“You know yours?” Harry asked. He was almost asleep, but this caught his interest and he fought back to wakefulness.

 

Tom snuggled him closer. “Yes,” he said very quietly, “it’s incredibly – cheesy. Our wedding day. Don’t make fun of me.”

 

“And before that?” Harry breathed out.

 

“Nowhere,” Tom answered after a long time, just as Harry fell asleep.

 

--

 

Down in their cellar, Tom took out his wand. He tipped it carefully at Harry’s temple, caressing Harry with it for a moment.

 

“Dormio,” Tom said, watched Harry settle into a deep, unbreakable slumber. Then he stood up, stretched and breathed in.

 

Imperio,” Tom said. Harry twitched. “Stand up, darling,” Tom told him quietly. He hadn’t told Severus about this part, knew that Severus would kill him if he knew that Tom violated Harry’s mind like this without permission, but it felt less invasive to him than use simply body modification spells.

 

Harry did, still fast asleep and Tom made him come closer, waited for him to stand before Tom. He ran his hands up and down Harry’s shoulders before leaning forward and breathing in Harry’s hair, calming himself with Harry’s scent.

 

He was confident that he was skilled enough to do it, and yet. Nobody had ever kept a werewolf from fighting his shift by taking over his consciousness and in the end, all Tom could do was to hope that he was right.

 

By God, he hoped.

 

It had shaken him once again; how transformative love could be. Telling Harry about the horcruxes, that horrible secret he had wanted to take to his grave, he had realized how far removed he was from the Tom willing to create them and all that had changed had been love. Severus’s steadfastness until they found that missing link and Harry’s unwavering love and forgiveness; a person like Tom had no rights to it, but he was greedy, wanted and needed it as long as they were willing to give it to him.

 

“I love you,” he said quietly, waited, inevitably, for the first twitch of Harry’s body that signaled the start of him fighting the shift. As predicted, even under Tom’s dormio it came, and Tom made them sit down on the couch he had levitated downstairs, drew Harry down in his lap. Once he had him comfy, he ended the Imperius, breathed in one last time. As promised, he could hear Severus coming in upstairs, ready to spring into action if it became too dangerous for Tom.

 

Legilimens,” he said and very, very carefully dived in.

 

--

 

Harry had a number of safe spaces. They spent some time re-discovering Diagon Alley for the first time; they spent some time safely hiding away in their cupboard while Dudley was looking for a fight; they spent some time laughing at various Hogwarts outings; they spent some time flying a broom; they spent some time getting their first ever real birthday present from Hermione and Ron and their first ever cake from Hagrid; they spent some time eating food, real food, not scrapes at Gryffindor table; they spent some time making it into Auror academy; they spent some time solving cases; they spent a lot of time re-living their early courtship, the feeling of home-coming when they had sex, buying their home, getting married, sleeping safely tucked in between Tom and Severus, having a cold and being taken care of, arms that wrapped around their middle just because they asked Tom or Severus to do so. They spent a lot of time on walks through London, wondering how they could have gotten so lucky.

 

The whole time, the shift was in the background; beaten down by Tom. Harry barely noticed, and Tom ignored the triple strain of legilimency, occlumency and fighting the shift put on himself until it was time, until he could feel the old, powerful magic of the shift overpowering him. He broke their connection, still held on to the dormio when arms already wrapped around him and tugged him out of Harry’s cage. Severus closed the locks when Harry came out of the dormio, moaning and groaning, but they had timed it well; he shifted almost immediately, charging at them, before he realized he was hemmed in by his cage and prowled away.

 

“Well-done,” Severus said and handed Tom a potion, took it back when Tom had no strength to lift it up to his lips. He held it carefully for him and Tom drank, felt some of the magical fatigue reducing with each sip.

 

“Bed, I think,” Severus said quietly and helped him stand. They only made it to the sofa; Tom crashed as if he had been hit by a jinx.

 

“He’s fine?” he managed to ask, even though it came out garbled.

 

“Yes,” Severus soothed, “wounds held up perfectly. He was calm. This was something for the history books, I hope you realize.”

 

“Hm,” Tom said, fully not caring about it; he was asleep within seconds.

Chapter Text

Mid-June brought along a number of events. The trial against Abraxas’s group started; Tom went back to work; Severus groaned under final exams; Hermione came to visit Harry and brought Rose along and Ron sat down to clear the air with Harry.

 

“I’m thinking another five to seven days here,” Ron said. They had had some vindaloo chicken from a little shop downstairs, and Harry was still picking his food while Ron had finished long ago.

 

“I guess you’re happy to go home?” Ron asked, and Harry snorted.

 

“You have no freaking idea,” Harry said, “nothing against you personally, but I’d prefer not to see your face first thing each morning.”

 

Ron laughed, not as heartily as Harry had expected.

 

“I’d wish to see you though,” he said quietly, “Harry – I’d like to talk about what happened. If you’re up for it?”

 

Harry fidgeted for a second with his blanket – another one of Tom’s robes. He slept in them exclusively now, even though he felt silly doing it.

 

“I don’t know,” Harry said honestly, “I like this easy comradery. I liked seeing Hermione and Rose. I – had some really heard months, Ron. I know you don’t want to hang out after I’m discharged and that’s fine but can’t we pretend a little longer that-“

 

“Harry,” Ron said gently, “that’s not at all what I wanted to say. I do want to keep seeing you. But I owe you a huge fucking apology. I don’t want – easy comradery. I want us to be friends again, real friends.”

 

“Oh,” Harry said. He sounded very small and he was unhappy about it.

 

“When you told me that you were dating Tom,” Ron said, “I didn’t react prettily. I was taken aback because Ginny and your break-up wasn’t that long ago and she kept alluding to the two getting back together. I had had no idea you were gay. He was older; my Dad thought he was a prick. When you brought him with you, it changed the whole atmosphere, because we just expected him to fit in and we should have handled that differently. Both sides made mistakes. I completely overreacted to hearing that you were also seeing Severus. It’s still not a lifestyle that could ever work for me, but I’m more open-minded now.”

 

Ron took a deep breath, held up a hand when Harry tried to speak.

 

“What I need to apologize for,” Ron said, “not just in my case, but I guess I can’t make that apology for others is my huge homophobia. I said horrible things to you that I realize now were based on homophobic thoughts I didn’t even realize I had. And I’m so fucking sorry for them.”

 

“Ron,” Harry whispered, and Ron hesitated a moment before leaning closer.

 

“I was an asshole,” Ron said, “I made it easy for myself. I should have known that you wouldn’t react prettily to our support becoming conditional on you leaving Tom. Harry, I knew that you had a horrible childhood, but I could never really understand what that meant. I still can’t, not personally, but I’m a father now; I studied things like childhood development. I understand better how bad this was for you.”

 

“I should have reached out,” Harry hastened to say, “but I just couldn’t. It’s so hard for me to stand up for myself, if it’s not professionally. I knew I shouldn’t have send Tom to talk to you, I knew he wouldn’t do a good job, because he was so angry and-“

“It wasn’t your fault,” Ron said, “I don’t want you to think so. Yes, we both overreacted. Yes, we both didn’t try hard enough. But contrary to me you were not actively discriminating against me. I was angry at you because you’re into men. Not over you breaking up with Ginny. Not over you dating two people. Not over you stopping to hang out with us so much. Not about us both founding families. I was angry because it was a guy you were doing this with. There’s no excuse for that. When you told me that your soul died a little bit with every day you spent with Ginny because you weren’t being yourself, there was only one reaction I should have shown and that would have to be one of support. Certainly not socking you in the fucking face.”

 

“You throw a hell of a punch,” Harry agreed. Ron groaned, and Harry laughed, and Ron moved up suddenly and engulfed him into a hug, pressing him tightly.

 

“I’m so fucking sorry,” Ron said, and Harry gripped him back, almost choking on his words.

 

“I’d like you back as a friend, too,” he managed to press out.

 

“Good,” Ron said, “I like that. I already apologized to Tom. I’ve got no idea why I didn’t like him before; I’ve never seen someone shoot down other people with just one pointed remark like that. Maybe Snape, but even he’s not quite on that level.”

 

Harry snorted again; it was watery. “They’re pretty brutal,” he agreed. Ron let go of him, studied him with a critical eye.

 

“You’ll tell me if you change your mind after thinking it through, yes?” he said quietly, and Harry laughed, shook his head.

 

“I really won’t,” he said, “I missed you an awful lot.”

 

--

 

That evening, Tom came in early. He was clearly in a rage but refused to talk about it, breathing in Harry’s hair for a long time until he was calmer.

 

“Do I need to be worried?” Harry asked, and Tom laughed, stroked through Harry’s hair.

 

“No,” he said, “I’ve taken quite a lot of steps to make sure that you’re protected.”

 

“Not what I meant?” Harry said. He barely restrained the urge to roll his eyes and Tom smiled at him, eyes crinkling up.

 

“It’s alright,” he said quietly, “you don’t need to be worried. I just had a pretty exhausting day. They want you to come in as a witness. Based on your health, I’m reluctant but I think there’s no way around it.”

 

“I don’t mind,” Harry said, “I can do it.”

 

Tom sighed. “You’re still weak,” he said, “I know you can do it, but I hoped it would be done with by the time you’re discharged. I wanted them to have gotten the kiss by now but apparently our justice system has suddenly grown a conscience.”

 

“How bothersome,” Harry teased, and Tom grinned, kissed him again.

 

“It’s getting very complicated because the trial has also turned into a discussion of what to do with the dwindling of our magic,” he said, “something Albus and I wanted desperately to avoid. But the press has caught wind of it and now it’s impossible to push back down. Their sentences will likely reflect the policy direction we will be taking. The trial will possibly take months. I’m very seriously thinking of emigrating but Robards has said he’ll hunt me down personally if I don’t sit it out with him and he’s rather – skilled, if he wants to be.”

 

Harry laughed, and leaned closer, cuddled against Tom.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I know I should take it more serious, but I’m in a good mood for once, and also, frankly pretty knackered. You can rant while I take a nap on your chest, okay?”

 

Tom snorted, leaned them back down, got Harry more comfortable.

 

“Okay,” he said, “let me tell you about the audaciousness of Susan Bones today. Can you imagine that she-“


Harry smiled, drifting off.

 

--

 

Despite it being June, Tom insisted on a heavier coat for Harry when they made their way over to the Ministry. Harry was set to be discharged in three days and Ron and Tom had agreed on having Harry’s hearing before that, both anticipating that Harry’s health would take a blow going from sleeping and resting all day to having to stand as witness.

 

Harry was happy for the coat once they made it down to the interrogation rooms; they were notoriously chilly. As Auror, Harry had spent much time in front of the Wizengamot and knew the proceedings by heart, but he still shivered when he came in and saw the Malfoys, Lestranges and Bellatrix Black staring at him from where they sat shackled to the side. The trial of their accomplices was set to take part after their trial; Harry wondered a little about the exclusion of Avery, but Tom had already told him that the court had ruled Avery to be a bystander.

 

Given his hand in Harry’s torture, he wasn’t sure he agreed.

 

Tom’s hand was on his shoulder, a warm, comforting weight. Harry leaned into him a little while the court assessed his wand, did a personality check to make sure he was himself and not someone on Polyjuice. Lucius’s eyes tracked Tom’s hand, eyes furious and burning and Harry shivered, turned away to not have to look at them.

 

Tom’s eyes were very unhappy when he leaned down.

 

“Should I ask to have them removed?” he asked quietly. Harry straightened up, steeled himself.

 

“No,” he said, “I’m fine. It’s fine. Just – stay close?”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Tom promised but his eyes remained worried and he stuck close after Harry had taken his seat behind the witness stand.

 

Bones breezed into the room shortly after, closely followed by Dumbledore and Robards. Dumbledore twinkled at Harry and inclined his head while Robards made his way over.

 

“You’re good with them being in here?” he asked with a pointed look towards Harry’s hand that was fisted in Tom’s trousers.

 

“Yeah,” Harry said. He made himself let go off Tom, only to grab the fabric at his knee again when Bellatrix giggled.

 

“Harry, don’t be a martyr,” Robards said, dropping his voice. “We’ve got a pretty good idea what they did to you,” he continued, “you don’t need to be brave. Just let us remove them.”

 

“He said he was fine with it, Gawain,” Tom said quietly. He had leaned back and slung one arm over Harry’s chair, hand touching Harry’s shoulder.

 

“I know,” Robards said, “but I also know him. And his tendency to play down how he’s feeling.”

 

Tom quietly laughed. “That does sound like him,” he cordially agreed, and Harry huffed at them, not fully listening. He was watching Bones and Dumbledore quietly discuss something before she held up her wand and sounded a gong to start the proceedings.

 

“Mr. Potter,” she said, “if you’re ready, please proceed to the stand.”

 

Harry nodded, got up. Tom’s fingertips stroked along his spine and then he was off, stood up straight at the stand.

 

“Mr. Potter,” Bones said and smiled briefly at him. They had enjoyed their previous court sessions, usually bantering quite a bit. “We’ve already heard much of what has happened from the other witnesses of the case as well as the accused. We mostly want you to fill in blind spots. One thing that has remained unclear is why you decided to check up on them, completely alone and against protocol. Please clarify.”

 

“I had intel that they were in the south of France,” Harry said. He had discussed this with Tom and they both agreed that a white lie was best in this case. Harry was unlikely to have to testify on Polyjuice and Robards wouldn’t contradict him. “The case was moving slowly. I was agitated by the pace; the French authorities didn’t cooperate as well as I hoped. I wanted to meet up with them the next day, check in on them unannounced in hopes of finding them not fulfilling the duties they had pledged to and be able to force them a little on this on these grounds. I decided on the whim to try and talk to some other castle owners while I was there and apparated to the south. We were pretty sure that they were at the Orvault castle. It was incredibly bad luck that I found them at the Mielleux castle instead.”

 

“Did you make an attempt to escape after finding them?” Bones asked.

 

Harry shook his head. “They vastly outnumbered me,” he said, “I knew I had no chance. I thought it was smarter to try and hold out. I had hopes that they wouldn’t kill me but try to use me somehow. They confirmed this at one point. I was called a very valuable bargaining chip by Ms. Black.”

 

“After you had entered the castle, what happened?” Bones asked. Harry fought down the urge to fidget. Behind him, Tom leaned forward, hands clasped together.

 

“They asked me to surrender my wand, which I did,” Harry said, “at first neither of us could believe that we had stumbled on each other by mistake. They wanted to know how I had found them, thinking they had a betrayer in their midst.”

 

“How would you describe the atmosphere?” Bones asked, “and who was present?”

 

“Explosive,” Harry said, “especially from Ms. Black. Present were her, Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Avery, Mr. Nott, who excused himself very early. As well as Mr. Goyle, both Lestrange brothers and a French man I didn’t recognize and who never introduced himself. They were arguing back and forth. I denied them as much cooperation as I could, afraid that I would say something that would trigger a reaction I couldn’t foresee. My plan was to hold out until I could be sure that my absence would be noted. They mentioned a number of potential betrayers, discussing them in front of me. I have compiled that list and handed it to court last week.”

 

“I’ve surmised it,” Bones said, “thank you for getting it done during your convalescence. Can you describe what happened next?”

 

“Mr. Malfoy wanted to put my down in the cell where Mr. Riddle eventually found me in,” Harry said, “but the others were – bored, for a lack of a better word. They wanted something to entertain themselves. Ms. Black especially thought she could get some more information out of me. Rodolphos agreed.”

 

Harry stopped, suddenly short of breath. The press and any other spectators had been excluded for the session; apart from him, only the Gamot and the accused were present, and while he didn’t have any trouble letting them know what had happened, it was suddenly hard to talk about it.

 

“If you want to take a moment,” Bones started to say but Harry shook his head.

 

“No, I’m sorry,” he said, “I can go on. They used a variety of torture spells to get me to talk. She tried to attack me with Legilimancy and while I’m certainly not skilled at Occlumency, I’ve learned through my job to expel her. She tried to put me under Imperius, but I’ve been able to shake it off for a long time now. She – undressed me to humiliate me. Mr. Malfoy stopped her before she got me naked, though.”

 

“Can you describe the torture spells?” Bones asked. She looked angry though her tone was as professional as always.

 

“Crucio, mostly,” Harry said, “some others. Timore. Something I don’t have a name for, but that made me feel as if she tried to put my magical core on fire. A differentiation of weather spells to make me very hot and very cold. Quite a lot of blisters and boils. The Lestranges broke my hands and legs quite a few times and healed them again. Then Mr. Avery joined in.”

 

“Kindly go into a bit more detail,” Bones said with a face that clearly said that she didn’t want him to.

 

“Mr. Avery mostly choked me,” Harry said, “with a variety of spells. Some drowning, some rope work, some obstruction of airways. Hitting me the whole time as well. He was very fond of having me on my knees until Mr. Malfoy interfered and put me down in the cell. By that point I was in pretty bad shape. I think they put the fidelius on me at that time, but I cannot really actively remember.”

 

“Then what happened?” Bones asked.

 

“I stayed there,” Harry said, “Ms. Black came down at one point to crucio me quite some more, but Mr. Malfoy made her stop. I only had contact again when my husband came down, but I had suspicions from the start that it was not him but someone on Polyjuice. I suspected the younger Mr. Malfoy, because he would have access to my husband and he has years of experience working with him. He did a good job, but there were a few things that set me off.”

 

“What did Mr. Malfoy try to do?” Bones asked.

 

“He wanted me to make an unbreakable vow to swear on me assisting them,” Harry said, “he didn’t clarify beyond that. I think that they might have tried to use me to infiltrate the Ministry, do some high-level assassinations. I refused the vow. We all know that without my explicit consent there wasn’t much else they could do. They wanted to pressure me on the day on the full moon by putting my former attackers into my cell. Before I could make up my mind, the Ministry found me for which I’m forever thankful.”

 

“They were Muggle werewolves?” Bones asked.

 

Harry hesitated for a second; thinking back something had been weird about them, but they certainly were no Wizards. “I think so,” he said, “I recognized them easily. Mr. Malfoy – the older, put them in shackles, telling me that their bonds would disintegrate once we started to shift. We couldn’t talk because he had spelled them mute. They didn’t attack; when they were freed my husband was pretty much already down and erected a barrier between us. I stayed down for the shift and was transferred to the hospital, but I don’t have any memories of that.”

 

“You were aware of a curse being placed on you?” Bones asked.

 

Harry nodded. “Yes,” he said, “though I wasn’t too sure what it did exactly. I knew my health would suffer once it was lifted, but for my mental health I refused knowing more about it.”

 

“Potty, Potty, Potty, you little fool,” Bellatrix sang from her spot. Before anyone else could react, Tom was up and made a slashing movement with his wand. Her voice cut off and she choked, glaring at him.

 

“Tom,” Bones said, long-suffering.

 

“She won’t threaten him,” Tom said; he sounded dangerous. “She won’t talk to him; she won’t-“

 

“Yes,” Bones interrupted, “but let the Aurors handle it, Tom.”

 

Tom’s jaw was clenched, but he nodded curtly, turning around and passing Harry to re-take his seat. Their eyes locked and Tom smiled briefly at him though it was strained.

 

“Does the Gamot have questions?” Bones asked next. Harry prayed they didn’t, and Gawain smiled reassuringly at him.

 

“Would you say that Mr. Malfoy – the older, I mean – had a mitigating effect on the others present with regards to your torture?” Barnaby from Magical Law Enforcement asked.

 

“He was less keen to spend the time by torturing me, yes,” Harry said.

 

“Did he allude to the Halloween massacre?” Barnaby asked.

 

Harry shook his head. “We barely talked,” he said, “he seemed deeply in thought.”

 

“Any more questions?” Bones asked.

 

“No question,” Gawain said, “just a note of congratulating Mr. Potter for his service. He should not have checked up on the castle by himself, but he handled himself remarkably after capture.”

 

“Good,” Bones said, “session adjourned. We’re taking a thirty-minute break before meeting again.”

 

Tom was at Harry’s side in an instant, putting his hand on Harry’s neck.

 

“Are you good?” he asked urgently, and Harry turned toward him.

 

“Yes,” he said quietly, “just fine. You?”

 

Tom laughed, a harsh sound. “Not at all,” he said, “let’s go.”

 

“You don’t have to take me back,” Harry said, “you only have 30 minutes anyway.”

 

“I’m taking you,” Tom said, in a voice that very much said that he wouldn’t discuss it. Harry gave in and took Tom’s hand, silently thankful for the support. Tom reeled him in, deflecting all attempts at small-talk and took him back to St. Mungo’s.

 

--

 

Harry was discharged on the same day that Hogwarts let out. Tom and Severus picked him up together. They were taking a cab; Harry fainted dead away when he was apparated or had to take a floo and so far, Ron had no idea why. On the drive, Harry leaned his head against Severus’s shoulder. Tom was sitting in front, always vigilant.

 

Severus leaned down a little to press a kiss against his forehead.

 

“Happy to go home, hm?” he asked softly, and Harry nodded. He could barely voice how happy he was, and he jiggled in impatience while Tom paid the cab and Severus unwarded their door.

 

“God,” he said five minutes later when he fell flat on their bed, “you’ve got no idea how much I missed his bed.”

 

Tom came closer and took off Harry’s shoes, one after the other.

 

“Want to rest a little?” Severus asked, and Harry craned his neck to look at him, had heard something in his voice. Severus was watching him with mild interest, but there was a dark, hungry look inside his eyes and Harry understood; he shared the sentiment.

 

“I want you to fuck me,” he said, “both of you. Preferably at once but I guess you’ll bitch because I’ve suddenly become the most fragile thing in this whole universe.”

 

“I guess we could be tempted,” Severus said and leaned forward, claimed Harry’s mouth in a kiss. He was pretty good at it and had Harry moaning within three minutes. When they came up for air, Tom wasn’t in the room and Harry whined, displeased. He needed both of them; it had been so unbearably long. He needed the intimacy, the connection, the release and Severus shushed him.

 

“He’s getting a cream I made for you,” Severus said, “patented it this morning. I’ve been working on that thing since you got bitten. We’re pretty sure it will help immensely with your scars and I would love to fuck you without having to use that horrible spell.”

 

“I want you both,” Harry whined, and Severus chuckled, soft and fond.

 

“I know,” he said quietly and leaned their heads together, rubbing Harry’s forehead with his own, “I feel it too. So does Tom. He’ll be back up here in a minute.”

 

He truly was, put the little pot on their nightstand, before leaning down and kissing Harry as well. There was hesitation in it, some insecurity that Tom would deny until his dying breath, but Harry was reminded of their courting at the start when they had to figure out how to do it if it was three of them.

 

Back then, Severus had taken the lead and he did so now too, reeled Tom in with a hot hand on his neck and kissing him just as breathless as Harry. They were close to each other and Harry used their distraction to wiggle down and grasp both of their cocks through their trousers.

 

“Fuck,” Tom said, while Severus groaned and bucked up in Harry’s hand. “That feels so good, Harry,” Severus said, and Harry whimpered, tugged at their waistbands. With a movement of Tom’s hands all of their clothes disappeared, and Severus laughed.

 

“Impatient, are we?” he teased, and Tom groaned and bucked against Harry, hid his face against Severus’s throat.

 

“Yes,” he said, “I fear I lost those. I’ll buy you new – merlin, Harry.

 

Harry had crawled further down, and had taken him in his mouth, hot and eager himself. He wasn’t hard yet but felt as if he could get there and he truly didn’t care right this moment, wanted them to enjoy themselves more than he wanted enjoyment for himself.

 

Tom moaned in his pretty, wantonly way and Severus took the chance to kiss him again, hot and deep. Harry alternated between jerking and sucking them off until they were both rock-hard and leaking.

 

“Come up here, darling,” Severus said and tugged at his hair until Harry made it up, snug in between them. Severus kissed him again while Tom trailed lower, sucked at his nipples before going down further. He fondled Harry’s balls and then deepthroated him in one smooth go. Harry jerked and moaned and Severus grinned, hungry and feral. “So pretty,” he said quietly and stretched above Harry to get to the little pot of salve. He took some gob out, and smoothly and gently spread it over Harry’s bites and Harry shook, overwhelmed with the feeling of it. It was cool and tingly and shot arousal right into his balls, down his spine. He only had time to grab at Tom’s hair in warning and then he was com-

 

Tom grabbed his balls and twisted them up, effectively stopping Harry’s orgasm and Harry whined, sweaty and desperate. Severus laughed quietly and kissed him, soft, soothing little kisses. “Guess what they say about erogenous zones of werewolves is true then,” he said lightly and pushed himself down, level with Harry’s injury. He followed the scars with his tongue, the salve tingling away while Tom got back to sucking Harry off while still clamping his balls in one hand and Harry twitched and moaned and begged, begged them for more.

 

“Easy,” Tom soothed just when it got seriously too much. They both eased off and kissed, before Severus turned to Harry, contemplative.

 

“Both of us inside you, hm?” he asked and stroked over Harry’s belly. Harry had lost muscle again, but he was nowhere as skinny as Severus was, not even as slim as Tom, still more muscly than either of them.  

 

“I’m not sure we should,” Tom cautioned, and Harry reached out for them, tugged them both up, kissed them one after the other.

 

“I need it,” he heard himself babble, “I missed you so much. I missed this so much. I want it, please, I want it so bad.”

 

“Hush,” Severus said and scooched back down, hiked Harry’s legs over his shoulders. He stretched him open and then took a first lick inside him and Harry wailed. This was always intense for him, the intimacy and softness of the touch undoing him. Tom played with his nipples while kissing him, peppered kisses all over Harry’s face while Harry whimpered and keened and shook underneath Severus’s tongue and fingers stretching him wider and wider.

 

“You or me first?” he asked Tom and Tom hesitated.

 

“I’m really not sure we should,” he said again, and Harry yanked at his hair in response.

 

“Tom, I’m begging you,” he said, and Tom moaned while Severus laughed softly.

 

“Just a little,” he said quietly to Tom, “up you go, Harry. Ride Tom for a moment, will you?”

 

The stretch of Tom inside him was incredibly; felt so good. Harry’s dick was hard now and bounced off Tom’s toned belly, while he grinded and exerted himself. Severus lined up behind them, kissing Harry’s neck and shoulders, before adding a finger.

 

Tom and Harry moaned simultaneously.

 

“We haven’t done this in months,” Severus said quietly. Tom laughed. “Because the logistics are really hard,” he said, “and we always remember that the effort is not worth the outcome and the-“

 

“Fuck me,” Harry interrupted, “please, please fuck me, just fuck me and stop talking, you idiots.”

“I love when he gets like this,” Severus said to Tom and Tom groaned, bucking up.

 

“Me too, but he’s also clenching in retaliation, so please do get on with it,” he said, and Severus laughed, added another finger, stretching and stretching.

 

“Turn him over,” he said quietly, “it’s easier if he does reverse. And I like to watch his face.”

 

“But I do too,” Tom said while Harry already clambered up and turned over, whimpering when Tom was back inside him.

 

Severus pushed at his chest, waited until he was settled on Tom before hiking his legs over Severus’s arms. Severus smiled at him, slicking up his own dick, before rubbing it over Tom’s, over Harry’s hole.

 

“That looks so goddamn hot,” he said quietly and then pressed forward, pressed inside.

 

Harry took in a shocked groan of breath, tensing up. Tom grabbed his hair and turned his head, kissed him deeply and Severus took Harry’s dick in hand, started to jerk him while pushing in.

 

It felt like too much, like not enough, both perfect and bad.

 

“Fuuuuuck,” Harry said, and both Severus and Tom laughed.

 

“Liking and hating it again at the same time?” Tom teased, and Harry whimpered, arching his back.

 

“You know I’m the only who really enjoys this,” Severus said and stroked in, slowly pulled back out, “the two of you should just give up.” He twisted his hand on Harry’s dick in time with this thrusts and Harry keened, orgasm building low in his spine.

 

“I’m going to come,” he said, and Tom laughed, kissed him again.

 

“You say that every time,” Tom said, “and yet-“

 

“Oh, don’t worry, he’s going to,” Severus said, “put some more of my cream on his injury and you’ll see.”

 

“Stop talking,” Harry said and then Tom did what Severus had told him to do and from there it was two more thrusts of Severus, the length and girth of Tom solid inside him and then he was coming, harder than he had in months.

 

“Fuck,” Harry chanted, “oh god, keep going, fuck, fuck – fuck-“

 

Severus pulled out easily enough and Tom grabbed Harry’s legs, started fucking him roughly. Harry cried out with each thrust while Severus sat back and watched them hungrily.

 

“Would really love to have you fuck me like this too, Tom,” he said, and Tom groaned and slid out of Harry, helped him slide down. Severus took his place easily, not on reverse but facing Tom and Tom fucked him, good and deep and Harry reached out a hand to trace Severus’s rim, Tom’s balls, and Severus cried out and grinded himself down and then they were both coming, hard and long.

 

Harry climbed back up, cuddled against Tom’s side. They traded lazy kisses and then Severus climbed down, checked Harry’s wound “this looks better than it ever has before, congratulate me for being a genius”, before he too settled down on Harry’s other side, spooning him.

 

“You’re going to be out like a light,” he told Harry and Harry giggled; it was true.

 

--

 

He woke late; the sun was setting. The house was filled with the smell of pie and a roast and Harry smiled, knew that Tom would go into overdrive; he always liked to do some nesting whenever he was feeling stressed out or worried about one of them.

 

Harry stretched. The bites were indeed looking good and Harry prodded over to the shower, let the water run hot. Severus joined him after a minute, quietly getting the shampoo and lathering Harry’s hair up before massaging his scalp.

 

“Fuck, that feels good,” Harry said. Severus chuckled, carefully rinsed out Harry’s hair.

 

Downstairs, Tom was reading the paper. The windows and patio door were open; it was nice and breezy, an uncommonly warm summer day for London. Harry stretched; he could admit that he felt almost drunk on love, on the good sex they had had, on the weather and on the care and attention they both gave him. Tom kissed the inside of his wrist when Harry dropped a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I missed this so much,” Harry said, and Tom looked up at him, smiled that crinkled little smile he only ever gave to Harry, very rarely to Severus.

 

“I did too,” he said quietly, and Harry couldn’t help but climb into his lap and kiss him until dinner was ready, already hard again. He fidgeted through dinner, still semi-stiff by the time Severus drank the last of his wine and took him back to their living room, laying him out on the carpet. It was languid, almost slow and Harry’s head was in Tom’s lap, while Severus stroked carefully into him. Harry moaned through it but didn’t come until Tom fucked him too, until they switched again and Harry himself was deep inside Tom, Severus’s cock in turn deep inside him. He bit down on Tom’s shoulder when he came; fell asleep to Severus carding his hand through Harry’s hair.  

 

--

 

Because this was Harry’s life, his first night at home didn’t go as he had hoped.

 

They went to bed fairly early; Harry fell asleep easily, wrapped around Severus while Tom still read next to them. Severus opted for sleep for once and Harry was soothed by the slow rise and fall of his chest.

 

He woke up hours later, drenched in sweat and terrified.

 

“TOM,” he said before his brain was fully awake; a soundless lumos lightened the room within seconds.

 

“What’s wrong?” Tom said while Severus groaned next to them, throwing an arm over his eyes. Whenever he slept, he wasn’t a big fan of waking back up.

 

“Harry,” Tom said and reached out a hand to touch his forehead while Harry kept trying to gulp in air, “hush, darling. What’s wrong?”

 

“Nightmare,” Harry said, “I think. I’m – scared.”

 

He stumbled over the word, barely able to get it out. Tom’s face softened. Severus rolled over to peek at them, put a hand on Harry’s knee. Tom pushed himself closer, drew Harry back down on his chest.

 

“Shh,” he said, “you’re okay. Just breathe.”

 

He stroked over Harry’s forehead; Severus looked up again, eyebrow raised, and Tom dipped his head down once.

 

Severus got up.

 

“Don’t leave,” Harry choked out. Severus leaned back down to kiss him, rested his lips for a second on Harry’s forehead.

 

“Getting you a water and something for the fever, Harry,” he said quietly. Harry gulped; Tom’s arms tightened around him.

 

“It’s okay,” he soothed, “we’re at home. It’s all safe and sound. You just woke up in a fright. But we’re here and we’re taking care of you. You’re not alone. You’re not in your cupboard. Just keep breathing.”

 

They sat in silence until Severus came back and settled down in front of Harry. He made him drink some water first, before putting two drops of something on Harry’s tongue and handing him a small blue botte afterwards.

 

“I don’t want a sleeping agent,” Harry said petulantly. He could tell that Tom was bristling, but Severus simply stroked through his hair and chuckled at him.

 

“Round three is out of the question for Tom and me,” he said, “but if you want, lay awake and listen to us snore. Or lay awake and count sheep. Or lay awake and –“

 

“Whatever,” Harry said and took the potion, knew that Severus would annoy him into taking it otherwise.

 

--

 

He woke up groggy and still tired, felt sad and listless for some godawful reason he didn’t understand.

 

He’d been so happy to be home and Harry sulked all over breakfast, sulked all over doing the dishes. Both Severus and Tom let him be, purposefully ignoring Harry’s bad mood and he sulked upstairs to Tom’s study to look over the river and be sad.

 

Tom came up after an hour with a snack, settled quietly on the couch with the paper. He was doing a puzzle and Harry stared at him for a while before getting up from Tom’s desk and settling next to him on the couch. It wasn’t long before his head wound up on Tom’s lap, until Tom gently massaged over his temples and forehead and without wanting to, Harry fell asleep.

 

He woke underneath the old throwaway; the sun was already setting again. Tom had left him a glass of water and an apple and Harry had both before going down, still munching on the fruit.

 

They were on the couch, making out like teenagers. Harry knew from the possessive hand Tom had in Severus’s hair, from the easy acceptance of Severus to Tom leading their kiss where this was headed, and he continued straight to the kitchen, peeked into the pot that was simmering away on the fire.

 

Tom came in a second later, looking ruffled and flushed.

 

“I didn’t hear you,” he said, “feeling better?”

 

Harry smiled, finished the rest of the apple and let the stem float over to their garbage bin.

 

“Yeah,” he said and watched Tom come closer, press his lips against Harry’s temple.

 

“Your fever’s down,” Tom said quietly and nosed along Harry’s hairline.

 

“I’ll go for a walk,” Harry said, and Tom caught him around the waist, kissed him.

 

“You don’t want to join us?” he asked and rubbed his pelvis against Harry’s hip. He was hard: Harry leaned against him.

 

“You know it’s not my thing,” he said, “and I think – after Avery maybe even a little less.”

 

“Merlin,” Tom said, snapped out of his playful mood, “Harry, I’m so sorry – I didn’t even cross my mind that you-“

 

“And that’s no worry,” Harry interrupted immediately, “I’m fine. I’m not struggling with it. I just don’t want to see him in pain. It’s not – you know it does nothing for me.”

 

“And you’re sure you’re good if we go ahead?” Tom said, looking at him. Harry knew that he would know if he lied.

 

“I’m fine as long as I don’t see or hear it,” he said, “it’s – I don’t want to police what you like and there’s nothing shameful about it, but I would prefer not stumbling upon it. In the next months at least. And don’t tell him. I don’t want him to – feel ashamed for needing it or asking less for it.”

 

Tom studied him, quiet and thoughtful, before pressing forward again, kissing Harry so gently that he felt himself go weak-kneed.

 

“You’ll tell me if any of that changes,” he said, and Harry nodded, went to grab his coat shortly after.

 

The air outside felt warm and good; he got an ice-cream cone and it was truly no bother at all.

 

--

 

The days progressed, made lazy by summer and holidays and Harry’s recovery. Summer had always been special to them, one of the few times of the year during which Severus was with them. Severus usually went away for some parts of his holidays, pursuing his own research and re-stocking Hogwarts’ potion stores. Harry had made the mistake of joining him on one of these trips three years ago and had spent two miserable weeks roughing it, camping out in the wilds and searching through dirt for hours to dig up some roots. Severus had been in a great mood, whistling with his work, not bothered at all by the hard physical labor, the weird hours, and the easy food they ate.

 

Harry had come home grumpy and Tom had laughed until he took pity on him and whisked them away to Florence for the weekend; it had made up for Harry’s ruined holidays.

 

“I can stay this summer,” Severus had said but Harry had declined, knew that Severus was itching to go like he always did. He would be back for Harry’s birthday; they all knew that it was a sensitive topic for him and it had taken them two years of trial and error until they had a routine down that didn’t trigger Harry. With Severus gone, it was just him and Tom and they fell into an easy sort of routine for the first week of Severus away.

 

Then it got harder.

 

Harry had known abstractedly that he hadn’t done any real recovering the first time he had come home from hospital. His body had been kept running by the curse, hadn’t had to deal with truly healing. Now that it did, Harry was awake for hours at night, anxiety and thoughts running through his mind. He had trouble keeping any food down and a lot of it had become unappealing; he craved meat almost exclusively, almost threw up whenever Tom tried to serve him something healthier. He was snappy; he was a lot more emotional than before. The potions he still took for his recovery came along with side-effects like headaches and muscle aches and Ron had no real idea how to mitigate them without Harry taking even more potions. His sex drive was running wild; he was desperately horny and then not at all and after trying a few times and not getting hard, he had pushed up walls between Tom and himself again, turned away when Tom tried to initiate sex.

 

He felt shitty; he felt run-down. He was set to go back to work at the first of August; it was almost mid-July now and he had no idea how to do it.

 

“So you delay it,” Tom said after Harry had rambled it all out one night. Tom had listened, but Harry could tell that he had been eager to go to sleep; the trial was drawing to a close and Tom refused to say anything on it, but Harry had gathered from the Prophet that it looked as if they would receive different sentences and it made Tom nervous.

 

“But I’m also bored to hell,” Harry protested, “it would help me get my minds of things. All I do is mull it over at the time and I just want-“

 

“You should deal with those thoughts,” Tom interrupted, “not run away from them. We’ve talked so often about the mind healer, Harry. Can’t you just make one appointment and see how it goes from there?”

 

“No,” Harry said, “I don’t want to. I don’t see the need. I told you that.”

“Darling,” Tom said and reached up to gently cuff Harry’s neck. Harry didn’t answer, didn’t allow himself to be drawn down.

 

“I will need to get up at five,” Tom said, “come down here and try to fall asleep on my shoulder, will you?”

 

“I’m not tired at all,” Harry said, “I’ll stay up a bit longer and re-“

 

“Harry, don’t,” Tom said, “at least try to fall asleep with me. I know you stay up much too long if you don’t try.”

 

“The wound’s been itchy,” Harry said, “it drives me mad. I can’t sleep like that.”

 

“I can put some salve on i-“ Tom said, but Harry got up, once again irrationally angry and unable to keep his cool.

 

“It doesn’t help,” he said, more bitter than he wanted, “nothing helps. I’ll go for a walk; I’ll be tired after that. You go to sleep.”

 

Tom didn’t answer, just watched Harry put on a hoodie. He didn’t hold him back when Harry left.

 

--

 

He was miserable; he couldn’t keep any food down, gagged from all types of smell. Tom steadily burned through all of Harry’s favorite dishes and he had to push his plates away, race for the bathroom and dry heave. He was constantly so tired that he felt as if his brain was oozing out of his ears and still, he was unable to sleep. Tom kept insisting on potions and Harry took them to little or no effect at all. Ron was at a loss; so were other specialists Tom contacted. Harry refused to tell Severus how bad he was, and Severus traveled on, oblivious to all the fights Harry started, how Tom withdrew more and more from him, putting in longer and longer hours at work.

 

Harry could see what he was doing to them; but he was unable to stop.

 

The day he snapped for good, Tom had made him eggs and a muffin and arranged some fruit but it all looked unappealing to Harry when he finally made it down after noon. He opened their storeroom. A part of Harry was still weirdly turned off by the lack of a fridge, but Tom had placed their cooling, freshening, and long-lasting charms and Harry knew them to be impeccable –

 

There was steak and before Harry knew what he did, he was biting into it, ripping out chunks of raw meat with his teeth. Blood and fat run down his chin while Harry gorged himself, not able to stop, barely able to think; he felt his teeth sharpening, the nails on his hands getting longer and panic rose inside him, but it was muted, overpowered by needing to eat. He chewed; a rumbly sound in his chest that was scaring him, but he was still tearing into the meat, gulfing it down, whimpering with it –

 

It fell out of his hands and Harry backed up, backed away. He fell and crawled, eyes still on the steak lying torn up on their floor. He whimpered; his stomach rolled; a second later he was heaving but it didn’t come up, stayed inside him. He heard the floo in the kitchen; Tom softly calling for Harry. He had made a habit of coming in around lunchtime to check up on Harry and Harry panicked; it was the worst timing, the very worst.

 

Animal, animal, animal, his mind screamed, and Harry felt himself go rigid and panicked. The door of the storeroom was just in front of him; he heard Tom leave the kitchen and he ripped open the door, panicky. He knew panic attacks, had had them before, so numerous he could not even count them, but this was different, this was more intense, this was beyond what he experienced before. He stared at his hands; the nails looked normal, but were they? His mind run in circles, run around meat and animals and the monster inside him. The cupboard, his mind screamed, the cupboard, the cupboard –

 

It was under the stairs like the one he had grown up in. Tom had spelled it shut when they had moved in and it had taken Harry months of secret curse-breaking to get it open. Tom meant well but sometimes Harry needed the cupboard; in a twisted way it was, at times, the only safe place. He raced out of the kitchen, down the hallway, slid to his knees in front of it. Above him, Tom’s steps returned to the staircase, hurried now. Harry tried to wriggle open the lock; it usually jammed up. A hand landed on his shoulder; Harry struggled, pushed at the hand, scared now. There was something inside him, like a horrible itch and he yanked at his hair, jerked the door harder. He felt packed into a cage; hungry; the steak hadn’t been enough and -

 

“Harry,” Tom said and grabbed him around the waist, tugged him in against his own body. “Harry, darling,” he said, not letting go off Harry when Harry struggled against him.

 

“Let me go,” Harry said; his voice was all choked up and breathy and high; not like his voice was supposed to be. He tipped over into real panic straight away and from there it was like rolling down a much too familiar slope.

 

“Let me go,” Harry said, “please, let me go, let me go, Uncle Vernon, let me g-“

 

“Fuck,” Harry heard, “Harry!”

 

The hands that were holding him were letting go and Harry continued to try to open the door to his cupboard. The door was still locked; Harry breathed in on a sob, desperately jiggling the lock. Inside, he would be safe; nobody ever followed him inside. He was yanking at the door, whimpering and then it unlocked with a click and Harry was safely inside, fell down and crawled on his knees into a far corner, hugging his knees.

 

He sat like this, shaking and crying until he fell asleep.

 

Harry woke up disoriented and dizzy. It took him a long moment to remember where he was.

 

The door was propped open, just a slit of light and fresh air coming in. It was candle light; it would have to be late, and Harry hesitated, unsure of what he would find outside.

 

He slid closer to the door, very carefully opening it a bit further. He couldn’t see anything, hesitated, horribly afraid of what he would find. He could smell food; his stomach gurgled.

 

“To – Tom?” Harry called very hesitatingly. His voice came out scratchy and rough, sounded disused and thready.

 

No sound in the house; Harry pressed himself back into the corner of his cupboard, deadly afraid again.

 

“Tom?” he whispered, not able to make his voice louder. He reached for his wand; it wasn’t on him and gathering all his bravery, Harry lunged forward and grabbed the door, pulled it shut as if it could protect him from magic.

 

He heard steps; held on to the doorknob as hard as he could, terrified.

 

“Harry?” Tom called softly.

 

Harry’s heart banged painfully. “Is – is it safe?” he whispered against the door.

 

“Yes, Harry,” Tom said after a moment, voice very level, “please come out.”

 

Harry very carefully pushed open the door. Tom was crouching low, looking earnestly at Harry when they saw each other, not reaching for him.

 

“Hey,” Tom said quietly. Harry gulped in some air and Tom ran his eyes over him, looked for a long time at Harry’s bare forearms. Harry followed his gaze after a moment; his arms were badly scratched and bloody.

 

He had no memory of how it had happened.

 

“Can you come out yet?” Tom asked quietly, and Harry shook his head. Tom studied him for another moment.

 

“Do you want me to leave or stay?” he asked, and Harry silently indicated for Tom to sit.

 

Tom settled down, stretching out his legs. Harry curled back into a corner; they could just about see each other.

 

“You’re good,” Tom said softly, and Harry closed his eyes; breathed.

 

--

 

 

It was three days to the full moon; the day after what Tom would refer to as “Harry’s big meat freak-out” in coming years.

 

He had come down to the kitchen long after Tom had left. There were three covered dishes waiting for him, with a note; not a snitch message. Tom hadn’t left him one of those in months and Harry suddenly missed them terribly.

 

“Hope one of these suits you and you’re feeling better,” Tom had written, and Harry looked at them, at the eggs and hashbrowns, the oatmeal and the sausages. He took a sniff; almost threw up, but instead of getting angry, he got so sad at all the wasted effort, at the cautious and formal tone of Tom’s note.

 

 Tom had pulled him through it all and hiding in a cupboard after eating raw meat like an animal was no way to pay him back.

 

He stumbled over to the floo, still heaving. He still fainted whenever he took one or tried to apparate but Tom was at the other end, and he would catch him.

 

As predicted, he did, saying “Harry” in such an agitated voice that Harry fought as hard as he could to stay conscious.

 

“Talk to me,” Tom said, propping Harry up, “what’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

 

“I couldn’t eat breakfast,” Harry said. Spots were dancing before his eyes and he was having trouble getting the words out, but god, he needed to talk. “All three of them. You’re putting in so much effort and I’m such a – bitch, and I’m so sorry and I – I don’t know what’s wrong with me and-“

 

“Nothing’s wrong,” Tom said quietly, “nothing is wrong. Harry. Your body is adjusting. I read up on it. Is usually should have happened months ago already but I hypothesize it was delayed due to the curse. Your body is learning to be a werewolf. You’ll be fine in a few weeks.”

 

“Weeks,” Harry said, “weeks, I can’t do weeks, I can’t-“

 

“There are ways to mitigate your symptoms,” Tom said, “if you’re willing to try.”

 

Harry heaved in a breath, unsure. He knew he had to face this; knew that he had to accept who he now was, but he was – so scared. He wanted to be just Harry, the Harry he had been, and he was terrified. He had never dealt well with change at all, had always liked things to stay how they were when they were good and he –

 

“Harry,” Tom said very softly, interrupting Harry’s train of thought. He stroked some of Harry’s hair out of his face, eyes bright and intense on Harry. He looked worried and patient and loving, and Harry fisted his hands in his suit jacket and pressed against him and started bawling.

 

“I know,” Tom said, wrapping him close, “I know, Harry, I know. You’ll be fine.”

 

“I’m so tired,” Harry wailed, “I’m so hungry, I’m so – sad, I’m-“

 

“You’re okay,” Tom said, “I think we can figure out how to help you, you just need to let me. Just let me, please.”

 

“Okay,” Harry said, sounding pitiful even to his own ears. Tom’s face softened even more, and he made Harry sit up, hugged him close.

 

“I have a meeting in two minutes I can’t cancel,” he said very quietly. Harry heaved in a breath against his neck, turned his head to press his nose against Tom’s neck.

 

“I can’t take the floo again,” he said, which was true, but also didn’t matter; Harry would die if Tom told him to leave now. Tom pressed a kiss against his temple.

 

“You can use my antechamber,” he said, “but it will take a while.”

 

“Please don’t make me leave,” Harry said. He couldn’t look at Tom; for Harry, it was a lot to ask. His heart was beating faster in response; he gulped in a nervous breath.

 

“Beneath my desk,” Tom said quietly, “but it’s cramped –“

 

“Yes,” Harry said immediately, needing it. Small spaces were difficult for him, but sometimes, like right now, like yesterday, he needed them.

 

Tom gently helped him up, accio’ed the throwaway. Harry settled in and Tom sat down on his chair, tried to give Harry room, but Harry gripped his legs and forced him closer, put his head against Tom’s inner thigh. It was cramped; it was perfect, and Tom gently settled the blanket over him, scratched through Harry’s hair.

 

The people he was meeting with came in a moment later; it was more than one. Harry didn’t move, didn’t listen, drifted at Tom’s feet. He wasn’t into power play at all in the bedroom, but this, he could admit, was nice and perfect, and exactly what he needed.

 

He dozed, soothed by the scent of Tom close by, Tom’s hand, occasionally, so very softly, scratching through his hair.

 

--

 

At home, Tom put Harry to bed. He came up with food ten minutes later; Harry almost bolted, but Tom had clearly foreseen it and some unseen restraints made it impossible for Harry to get up.

 

“Stop hiding,” Tom said quietly, very intensely. “So what, you like raw meat now. You don’t think I care, Harry, as long as you’re getting some food into you.”

 

“No,” Harry begged weakly, but Tom didn’t loosen the restraints, mouth sat in a harsh line. He sat down next to Harry, cut up Harry’s meat with a hard slash of his wand before taking a piece and putting it into Harry’s mouth.

 

Harry keened; Harry whimpered, but he chewed, too starved to stop. Again, he had a feeling of his claws coming through, fangs descending and when he checked, blood was running down his knuckles. Tom was watching him with scientific interest and fed him another piece, clearly unafraid.

 

“You’re not scared?” Harry asked. He was crying, only realized it when he licked his lips and tasted salt.

 

“Darling,” Tom said, “no werewolf can take Tom Riddle. And neither can you. Trust me.”

 

Harry moaned and opened his mouth this time, didn’t force Tom to press the meat against Harry’s lips until he couldn’t take the craving anymore and opened them. He chewed, cried, opened his mouth for more and Tom fed and fed him, fed him until Harry was, for the first time in weeks, not hungry any more.

 

“Good,” Tom said quietly and didn’t untie Harry, just laid down next to him and hugged him close.

 

--

 

“The wound looks good enough for him to have a normal shift,” Ron had said when he had checked up on Harry on the morning of the full moon. Tom had nodded politely; it was clear that he disagreed, but Ron hadn’t commented and neither had Harry.

 

“You’ll be spending some time outside with Severus after the shift,” Tom said quietly to Harry that evening, already down in their cellar, “we both think that that is – more natural, right now. Is that alright with you?”

 

Harry nodded, curled closer. Tom was carding through his hair, soft and tender.

 

“I can use legilimancy on you again?” he asked, and Harry nodded; he hadn’t been up to talk in the last days. Tom had fed and bathed him and cuddled him and then fucked him when Harry had trudged after him, unsure and lost. Harry was embarrassed with how much he needed his clues from him right now and Tom had kissed him and said, “anything for you to feel better” in a low whispering promise and for once Harry had stopped questioning his every move and simply did what his gut wanted him to do.

 

When he burned, Tom kissed him, gently diving deep. With the last shred of sanity Harry curled his hands in Tom’s hair, holding on, before baring it all, soul and mind, trusting Tom to take care of him.

Chapter Text

“I know it sucks,” Harry repeated, “and I’m sorry for it, but he basically kicked me out and-“

 

“Stop apologizing,” Severus said softly. Merlin, Tom hadn’t exaggerated in his letter.

 

Harry huffed and looked away from him, shoulders drawn up. He looked every bit the sullen teenager Severus had known some twenty years ago, and he smiled at the memory. He was fond of the memories he had of Harry back at Hogwarts; it was something that belonged to Harry and him, no matter that their relationship back then had mostly consisted of antipathy.

 

“I can’t help it,” Harry said hotly. This too Severus remembered, the sudden eruption of temper. Harry had always flared up easily, said things he regretted. He could keep a cool head in dangerous situations but faced with the inanest daily interactions had often overwhelmed him.

 

Granted, back at Hogwarts, Severus had only suspected not known that it was due to Harry’s home life. That he hadn’t interfered even though he had seen some warning signs still bothered him to this day.

 

“It doesn’t matter, Harry,” he said quietly, “I’m glad you’re joining me for a while. I missed you.”

 

Harry swallowed audibly before turning around and pressing himself against Severus, hiding his face. Severus lifted up a hand easily and reeled him in, kept a hand on his neck.

 

“I’m sure you’re going to revise that opinion,” Harry said bitterly, “I know he has nothing good to say about me right now in that letter. And it’s true. I’ve been so in such a horrible mood and I’m so sorry for it and I-“

 

“Stop,” Severus said softly, easily, “he has not brought you here because he’s fed up with you. He made a lot of international floo calls in the last weeks, did a lot of studying. Being outside will help you adjust easier, Harry.”

 

“Because animals belong in the wild, don’t they,” Harry said. He was going for a light tone but ended up sounding honest and Severus pressed a kiss against his hair.

 

“Yes,” he said lightly and pushed Harry away. “Take those two bags over there,” he said, “I want to get in 10 miles before nighttime.”

 

Harry groaned. Severus kissed him and then grabbed the other bags, easily slung them over his shoulders. Tom’s letter was a thick weight in his breast pocket; Harry would know over Severus’s dead body what Tom had written.

 

They started in silence. When Harry had last been with him during the summer holidays, he had been full of complaints and playfulness, in turn running in front of Severus or trailing far behind. This time he stuck close and walked in silence, but Severus didn’t force him out. Between Tom and him, he was a far more patient man.

 

He knew that Harry would come to him once he was ready because he knew Harry. For Tom all humans were something of a mystery. Maybe knowing Harry best out of everyone made him even more of an enigma to Tom than others.

 

He had dwelt a lot on them as individuals, as individual couples and as a triad in the last weeks and the pensive mood followed him until he lost himself in the hike. Severus had always been a bookish boy, considered himself an intellectual but someone with a firm grasp in reality and he lived for his summers, the hard physical labor of them. He was not someone to do exercise just for the fun of it, but he enjoyed it like this, as part of his daily routine and he kept fit by walking and hiking at Hogwarts too.

 

Harry’s injury had changed them all, had changed the structure and foundations of their triad. It wasn’t bad change per se, though Severus could have certainly done without the constant worry, without having to see Harry in so much pain. But he understood that to Harry any change was not good. He wasn’t a person comfortable outside of routines in his private life and became even less open to transitions when he was feeling stressed.

 

The thought made Severus stop and look for Harry. He had fallen behind, looked red and unhappy and overworked and Severus’s heart ached while he waited for Harry to catch up with him.

 

“Let’s pitch a tent close-by,” Severus said once Harry was closer. “This is far enough for today, don’t you think?”

 

Harry just gave him a look full of contempt before dropping himself and his bags to the ground, groaning deeply once he was down. Severus let him be, sourced out a camping site himself, pitched up their tent and got a fire going. It was all easy with magic; when it was just him, he sometimes did it by hand but with Harry or especially Tom around, he didn’t indulge.

 

They ate mostly in silence before settling down in their sleeping bags. Severus usually slept some more during those summer months, but he wouldn’t now; Tom had been very intense about not leaving Harry out of his sight. Severus knew how paranoid Tom could be, but he could admit that he was worried too; the trial was drawing to a close and it seemed increasingly unlikely that they would all get the kiss.

 

Next to him Harry fidgeted for much of the night. Severus drew him up on his shoulder after a while, holding him close, but Harry still slept fitfully, whimpering and crying out in his sleep. He looked bad in the morning; Severus, remembering what Tom had written about their boy’s sleeping habits, was worried.

 

He kept the worry to himself; all it would do was drive Harry away. Harry needed silence and support now. It was something Severus could do for him, something Tom couldn’t; Tom could not watch Harry suffer without trying to make it better.

 

They hiked for hours the next day. Severus had a specific base in mind from which he would be able to collect a number of ingredients, but it was still far out, would take them another day tomorrow to reach it. Harry fell behind, and Severus paced himself, didn’t want Harry to lose sight of him. He had first objected to Harry coming with him when Tom had proposed it, had been worried about Harry’s health but Tom had leaned forward and hissed a recap of his last weeks with Harry that had quickly changed Severus’s mind. Tom and Harry needed a break from each other. While they had never talked about primary and secondary relationships in their relationship, Severus knew that Tom and Harry needed each other more than he needed either of them or they needed him, and he was fine with it. He was by nature more independent, loved solitude. He could handle Harry in situations when Tom couldn’t, precisely because Severus was less worried to speak his mind, less worried to cross boundaries. If Harry went off on him, he could shake it off, while Tom couldn’t sleep for as long as Harry was cross, wouldn’t eat.

 

--

 

That night, Harry didn’t fall asleep. Severus listened to his labored, hitching breathing for half an hour before reaching out and tugging him close, kissing his nape.

 

“What’s wrong with me?” Harry said, and Severus slung an arm over his belly, nuzzled against him.

 

“What do you mean?” he asked quietly, and Harry heaved in a breath, whimpered.

 

“I hear everything,” he said, all in a rush, “I smell everything. This place is so much worse than London. A fucking fox just killed something a mile from here and I can hear it and it’s wrong and I-“

 

“What did he kill?” Severus interrupted. He trailed his hand lower, rested it on Harry’s tummy, closer to the bites.

 

“I –“ Harry said. He concentrated for a second and Severus smiled to himself.

 

“Rabbit,” Harry said.

 

“What was the rabbit doing outside at night?” Severus asked, and Harry breathed in deeply. Once he focused on Severus, he was sure to smell his arousal but for now he still didn’t know how his new senses were working, was focused on something a mile away to the exclusion of everything else.

 

“The fox started digging up its cage-thingy,” Harry said. Severus smirked. “It smelled like fear just before the fox killed it. He’s still eating it and there’s an owl watching and – Merlin, this is creepy.”

 

“I don’t agree,” Severus said and pressed his erection against Harry’s arse.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Harry said, and Severus laughed.

 

“You know I’m a sucker for competence,” he said lightly, “can’t I find it terribly attractive that you smell and hear things a mile away?”

 

“This is so weird,” Harry said but then he turned around and kissed Severus, deep and searing and just a tad desperate.

 

“Sex is impossible with him,” Tom had written; half an hour later with a sleeping Harry on his chest, Severus was inclined to disagree and if he was smirking about it just a tiny bit, Tom would never need to know.

 

--

 

On the third day, Harry cried for all of their hike. Severus slowed until he was just in front of him and offered him his hand, not looking back at Harry. Harry grasped it and they continued on, hand in hand, Harry crying and gasping and Severus keeping a steady pace, continuing to walk ahead.

 

When Harry quieted down, he kept walking. He didn’t let go off Severus’s hand.

 

--

 

On the fourth day he asked Harry to smell out some punesdroom for him and Harry socked him in the head.

 

After getting him to smell the bark of the tree, Severus admitted once again to himself that he had completely failed at being Harry’s teacher because Harry could not remember a thing about punesdroom, least of all its smell.

 

--

 

On the fifth day, Severus led Harry to one of the smaller lakes he had found. They fucked right next to it. Harry complained that it was very off-putting to be able to smell animals fucking nearby too and Severus laughed so hard they had to stop for 15 minutes to get his erection back.

 

--

 

On the sixth day, Harry complained until Severus grabbed him around the waist and apparated them to the nearest telephone booth he could think off. Once Harry had his consciousness back, he phoned Tom. Severus waited outside while Harry talked to him. Once Harry was done, he refused to say a single word for the rest of the night, but he did cuddle closer than he had before when they laid down to sleep.

 

--

 

On the seventh day, they dug up asperasdol roots. It took them the better part of the day. Harry kept a running commentary of what he smelled and heard while they worked, and Severus admitted that he was getting a bit jealous about Harry’s connection to the forest.

 

That was also the first night in which Harry slept peacefully. Severus spent the night watching him, gently stroking his hair out of his face. He felt very small in a very big world and it was strangely peaceful.

 

--

 

On the eight day, they took a break both feeling their physical labor from the day before. They hiked up until they had a clear view of the valley and then got drunk on the beers Severus had shrunk in his pocket.

 

They made love while the sun set.

 

--

 

The ninth day, they spent sleeping before getting up and collecting a number of plants only collectable at night.

 

Harry’s night vision came in handy when Severus fell into the hole they had dug for the asperasdol woods. After Harry stopped laughing and got him out, Severus threatened to dismember him. They ended up playing some version of hide and seek that Harry won by pressing Severus down and taking him without either one of them taking off their pants.

 

--

 

The tenth day brought the end of Tom’s patience who send Severus a howler asking where the daily updates were. Severus admitted that he hadn’t send even one. They agreed on being impressed that Tom had managed to wait ten days before he lost his cool.

 

That night they talked for hours about Tom, his childhood, the horcruxes. When Harry fell asleep, Severus remained sitting at the fire, staring into it, brooding on the ways that had led them to each other, had led them all to where they were.

 

He had talked like this with Tom about Harry more times than he could count, but it was the first time he had done it vice versa with Harry about Tom. It felt a little bittersweet to him; while Harry was certainly a grown-up in all the ways that counted, he had remained more youthful than Tom or Severus and sitting down with him like this felt a bit like saying goodbye to another part of who Harry had been before the attack.

 

 

--

 

The eleventh day was spent with Severus going over the basics on potion making with Harry. He had expressed an interest and even though Severus doubted that it would sustain for much longer than a day, he honored it and they spent much of the day working and talking with each other.

 

That night, they climbed up until they could get a clear view of the sky. Harry put his head on Severus’s shoulder and they didn’t talk, just watched.

 

--

 

On the twelfth day, Harry run a slight fever and Severus left him at camp, worked by himself. There was a gnawing uncertainty inside him and he hurried back much earlier than he liked, felt silly when he found Harry sleeping peacefully. Still, he didn’t go back out, settled down next to Harry instead. He folded away his shirt to look at the injury; it looked fine, and yet, Severus didn’t sleep that night, kept looking at Harry for hours.

 

--

 

It was Harry’s birthday on the thirteenth day. Tom came in during lunch with a cake and in his summer linen trousers that always did wonders for Severus’s libido. They settled down around the campfire, skirting all topics that related to Harry’s injury or recovery or the trial. It was a warm, sunny day but deep inside the forest it was shady and cool. Tom proposed apparating to a nearby village for dinner, but Harry declined, stretching out in a patch of sunlight and dowsing off to sleep.

 

Severus took the chance to gently tip back Tom’s head against his belly, standing behind him. They studied each other for a moment.

 

“Update me,” Severus said quietly, and Tom gave him a short run-down of the developments in London. “Abraxas might not get the kiss,” he concluded, “we’ll hear their sentences next week Tuesday.”

 

“Are you bothered if he doesn’t get it?” Severus asked quietly. Harry still looked asleep, but Severus had his doubts.

 

“Yes,” Tom said, “when they left Azkaban, they had one goal in mind. Revenge on me. Taking over the Ministry came later. They haven’t gotten revenge. You’re alive. Harry is alive. They know I’m not bothered by him being turned. If he goes back to Azkaban, he might manage to flee again. A group of dementors let them go when they promised them chaos and destruction and the ability to feed on Muggles. They will be susceptible to being seduced again.”

 

“I don’t believe that’s how they fled,” Severus said quietly, “others have done so before and the Dementors never took the bait. There must have been something different this time.”

 

Tom looked at him, clearly in thought. Next to them Harry stretched languidly and lazily opened his eyes.

 

“Stop talking shop on my birthday,” he said with a dark intent in his eyes, before rolling up and kissing Tom deeply.

 

Severus would later agree that it was funny to see leaves stuck in Tom’s hair but only long after Tom had left, complaining bitterly about the dirt on his clothes.

 

--

 

On the fourteenth day, Severus was pleasantly sore from their birthday activities. They went back to work. Harry’s birthday had been on a Saturday which gave them one more day to spent together before Harry was set to resume his job on Monday.

 

Harry was pensive for much of the day. Then he reminded Severus why he was the Ministry’s youngest Head Auror in years by asking if Abraxas knew about the horcruxes in the early morning hours of the fifteenth day.

 

--

 

“Remember how Tom said that it felt like the set-up of a dark ritual,” Harry said after they had apparated to Eccleston, “and sure, there was the ritual that got me into all that mess, but there was something else. They were feeling the horcruxes. They must feel invasive and dangerous and foreign even to Tom for him not to recognize them. And that’s how this place still feels to me.”

 

“I guarantee you that Tom never told a living soul apart from me and you,” Severus repeated. He trailed Harry, wand out, watched Harry take a deep breath before pushing open the door. Harry’s theory made an awful lot of sense except where it made no sense at all because Abraxas could not possibly know about the horcruxes.

 

“We’re alone,” Harry said quietly, “for all that I can tell. The men who attacked me – I can’t smell them, but that doesn’t mean much, so keep alert.”

 

“Why doesn’t it mean much?” Severus asked but Harry shook his head, went inside the house. He quickly searched the rooms, Severus behind him before coming back to the front hall and turning around.

 

“Okay,” Harry said, “if you needed to hide a horcrux, what would you do?”

 

“I would go ask my husband about it who should easily be able to check if it’s still where I left it,” Severus said. He was beyond irritated by Harry, who once again shook his head.

 

“Sev, please,” he said, eyes wide and honest, “the trial restarts in under two hours. I need to find it. We don’t have time to ask Tom to go to Gringotts to check up on them. We don’t have time to keep Tom from committing mass homicide either  which he will do once we tell him what we think will happen today.”

 

“Fine,” Severus snapped back. He turned in a circle and concentrated, started to chant. Revealing hidden objects; that was something he always quite enjoyed.

 

Harry went off to another room, did his own charms. They worked in parallels, until, at last, Severus unearthed the horcrux in a pot down in the cellar. It was protected by an intricate set of spells, but between them they managed to get rid of them after some time.

 

As Harry had predicted, it was only one. Severus could admit that the mere existence in this house and it being only one seemed to solidify Harry’s theory into its terrifying reality, but he could continue hoping against hope that Harry was wrong.

 

“How can I destroy it?” Harry asked.

 

“Basilisk fang, fiendfyre, potentially the killing curse,” Severus rattled down. Harry pushed him back and then cast the killing curse without hesitance; Severus decided he was better off not knowing when and how Harry had learnt to cast it.

 

The curse bounced off the horcrux, ricocheting through the room. Severus, ready for it, grabbed Harry around the waist and apparated them just outside, held Harry up while Harry fought to stay conscious.

 

“Fuck,” Harry said once he could stand by himself and they had returned to find the horcrux still intact.

 

“Do you have a basilisk fang?” Harry asked. Severus nodded, unnerved.

 

“I need you to go to Hogwarts and destroy it,” Harry said, “and then come back to London. Find us at the trial. But you absolutely have to destroy it as soon as possible.”

 

“You do realize we’re destroying a part of Tom’s soul, yes?” Severus asked quietly. Harry’s face was a picture of misery and Severus softened the question by stepping closer and touching Harry’s wrist.

 

“I know,” Harry said, “but we don’t know if we can get it – back inside him or whatever. You say we can’t know if they can’t pinpoint that it’s Tom’s horcrux and if they can find out, Tom will get the kiss and I – I can’t let it happen. I’ll stop being an Auror after this but I can’t – he can’t get the ki-“

 

“I’m not telling you to allow him to get the kiss,” Severus said quickly. The mere thought made his own skin crawl; it was almost impossible for him to reconcile their Tom now with the Tom creating the horcruxes, even though he had been around for it all.

 

The transformative power of love, he thought and squeezed Harry’s wrist.

 

“I could hide it,” Severus proposed quietly but Harry shook his head, desperate.

 

“Destroy it,” he said, “it’s about protecting Tom. If they find out that it’s his because we need to use Veritaserum at least it’s gone and nobody else can use it to do something like this again.”

 

“We don’t know what he did with the other one,” Severus cautioned, “even if he did divide it in parts, he might still have some and we –“

 

“I have to go,” Harry said, “the trial is starting. Severus please. Destroy it and come to London.”

 

They kissed; Harry apparated. Severus took one second to breathe in deeply to calm his climbing anxiety and then did the same.

 

--

 

After Severus had destroyed a part of Tom’s soul, he took a moment to close his eyes and breathe in.

 

Then he run down towards Hogsmeade, apparated as quickly as he could.

 

The courtroom was pure chaos.

 

He found Tom and Harry, standing together with Dumbledore and Bones. Harry was bleeding from a deep cut in his forearm; he was sweaty and gestured wildly until Tom grabbed his injured arm and started a healing chant.

 

Tom’s wand was shaking just very slightly. Bones and Harry didn’t notice, but Dumbledore had, and he took Bones away after a moment, allowing Severus to slide up to them and quickly touch Harry’s hip in reassurance.

 

“What happened?” he asked but they didn’t have time to discuss anything before Bones was back, asking another question, quickly followed by others of the Gamot and Robards.

 

Abraxas laid tied and immobile in the middle of court, Robards standing guard close-by. Severus couldn’t see the others but a cluster of Aurors in one of the backrooms gave him an idea where they went.

 

There were two charred marks on the floor not far away from Abraxas and Severus shivered; Harry had been right on it all.

 

Tom appeared next to him, closer than he normally did in public.

 

“Harry has to answer a number of questions,” he said. His voice wasn’t quite right, and Severus pressed their shoulders together, just for a second, counting on the overall chaos to keep them safe. “But I’ve got a hundred questions, too. My office, please.”

 

He tried saying it like an order, but it came out like a plea and Severus said of course and then they didn’t talk until they were inside Tom’s office and Severus could run his hands all over him.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked urgently. There was still a part of him that was horribly afraid that destroying the horcrux had hurt Tom, but Tom was fine, pressed forward against Severus and hugged him as close as he could.

 

“What the fuck?” he said, voice openly unsteady now, “what the fuck Severus?”

 

“It’s alright,” Severus hurried to say, “you’re feeling alright, yes? No – I don’t know, no headaches? No pain?”

 

“Why wouldn’t I feel alright?” Tom asked, sounding bewildered, “Harry jumped in front of me before those – things even got close. I don’t understand what’s happening – I’m –“

 

“Okay,” Severus said, “let me explain but you’ll have to fill in gaps. Harry’s the only one who fully understands what’s going on, I’m afraid.”

 

Tom nodded for him to go on and Severus did. “He woke up very early this morning and asked if Abraxas knew about the horcruxes,” Severus said, “I said that I doubted it, but he insisted that it all made sense if Abraxas knew. He asked me if a horcrux could be divided into smaller parts and I thought it possible and he got very nervous and kept saying that Abraxas could use licentia absolvisti in this case. He didn’t go much into detail what that was.”

 

“Something you can ask the court to offer,” Tom said, voice increasingly unsteady, “if you get sentenced to the kiss you can make one last appeal to a member of the Gamot. If that member pledges to your innocence your sentence can be turned into unlimited time in Azkaban, but you are free to appeal that too. It’s regularly used but not often successful.”

 

“Well,” Severus said quietly, “I guess not everyone has something in his possession that would make his power over someone of the Gamot almost limitless. They knew they couldn’t get you with Imperius. It’s kind of smart, to be honest.”

 

“True,” Tom said faintly, “I would have had to agree or take the kiss myself. Merlin. The possibilities – they would have -”

 

“Harry guessed that Lucius got them out of your vault by impersonating you somehow,” Severus continued, “or forging documents or – I don’t know, he had a number of ideas that could have worked. I wasn’t so sure, but he insisted that Abraxas was already using them, had kept one as guarantee against you and had broken up the other one to buy himself free of Azkaban and create Harry’s – attackers.”

 

“Oh god,” Tom said, very faintly.

 

“He said he had a case in point because after he turned you hadn’t taken care to make sure that they were taking in in France,” Severus said quietly, “and that nobody really remembered them. Harry said that he couldn’t smell them. They were mute, they vanished into thin air after he was attacked because Abraxas can call them at will, can create them at will, can-“


“They were what his Aunt Petunia was,” Tom said, gaze faraway, “and I didn’t realize. I was so focused on Harry down there, I didn’t even look at them after I could finally transport him. They completely slipped my mind – I-“

 

“Did he let them loose in the courtroom?” Severus asked, and Tom nodded, swallowed audibly.

 

“Harry waltzed in in his robes,” he said quietly, “said he had new evidence to present to the court. He claimed that Abraxas had created horcruxes to escape Azkaban, attack him, bring me under his control. The atmosphere got heated quickly. And then Abraxas got up and threw something at him and before I knew what was happening those – men were there, half wolved out and attacking him and I – I shot the killing curse at one of them before I realized what I was doing and he pretty much – exploded in smoke. The other one got a shot in at Harry before Robards did the same to him. They just – disintegrated.”

 

“They made that cut on Harry’s arm?” Severus asked, feeling slightly worried. They couldn’t give him lycanthropy again, but still, he was still unsure what they even were and –

 

“I think he was fine,” Tom said quietly, “I checked up more than once.”

 

“Fuck,” Severus said, “how could they have known? Did you ever tell Abraxas?”

 

“No,” Tom said. He looked small and miserable and looked down at the floor, not looking up to meet Severus’s gaze. “I never told anyone but you. I didn’t hint at it with anyone. Harry’s the only other person I told. How could they have known about it and about our trip with that plane to the US and how could they forge their way inside Gringotts and how-“

 

Harry’s stag patronus appeared between them, easily passing Tom’s wards. “Hey,” it said; Harry sounded a bit breathless, “we’re going over to Eccleston. Abraxas claims that there’s another horcrux there and that it’s Tom’s. I know that it sounds ridiculous but Swoltsky, Gawain and I agree that we better check up on it. I want both of you to stay absolutely put. I’ll be back soon, I hope. Love you.”

 

Tom said down rather abruptly. Severus hesitated for a moment and then came close to the sofa. He didn’t sit down himself, just reached out and held Tom’s head against him, gently stroking down his hair.

 

--

 

When Harry strolled into Tom’s office two hours later, he was a picture of cheekiness.

 

He took one look at them, clearly amused at the downtrodden atmosphere, closed the door, threw up another silencing charm, opened his arms and proclaimed: “I solved it.”

 

Severus gave him a very slow, dry clap.

 

Harry sat down in one of the armchairs, studying them for a moment.

 

“How are you?” he asked, slightly less exuberant. “Please just get on with it,” Severus said when Tom didn’t say a word, barely looked at Harry.

 

“We didn’t find a second horcrux,” Harry said, “but we did find a fully functioning secret house after Lucius stepped up and gave us total cooperation in exchange for not getting the kiss.”

 

“Great,” Severus said. Tom still didn’t say a word, kept looking down.

 

“Wait a minute with judgement there,” Harry said, “He showed us how they did it. Abraxas and Bellatrix started planning their revenge early on, pretty much immediately after being thrown into Azkaban. They built alliances; eventually they swore an unbreakable bond with each other and the Lestrange brothers. Lucius refused to have a part in that, struggled himself for a long time between loyalty to them or to you, but when we got married, he decided to go with his father. I think it’s a case of not realizing he’s hot for you, but I didn’t say.”

 

Tom still didn’t react. Harry looked at him for a moment, before leaning forward, all seriousness now.

 

“Lucius built a second system of infiltrators inside your office,” Harry said quietly, “he analyzed and understood the spells you used to catch anyone betraying you. He didn’t directly counter them but softened their impact. Whoever worked for him and he himself did have a number of side-effects from your spells, but Lucius’s own designs kept them from reporting to you outright. The anti-spy spells of the Ministry haven’t been updated in 50 years and one of their chief designers was Lestrange senior. That was very stupid in retrospect. If anyone wants to make some extra money soon – the Ministry will be looking for a new spell-designer starting tomorrow.”

 

“Sounds like a job for Granger,” Severus said when everyone else was silent for a moment.

 

“It took them years,” Harry said, “it wasn’t a quick effort. Still, they couldn’t get a hold on you, something to really have power over you. They needed more info. We found Rita Skeeter down in their hidden cellar, out of her mind. They recruited her for a special skill she has and a natural tendency to snoop, threw her under an Imperius when she was starting to get worried. She’s a beetle Animagus; they forced her to remain in her animagi form for so long that our wards couldn’t detect her anymore because she was barely human any longer. Then they sifted through her memories. Eventually they knew – a truly shocking amount of information about us.”

 

“I’m going to be sick,” Tom said very quietly. Harry got up and kneeled down in front of him.

 

“The rest is easy to tell,” he said, “Abraxas stored one horcrux as guarantee against you. They were not particularly concerned with safety; they knew we had no clue. They thought you had gone soft. The other one he broke up into seven identical pairs. He used one to escape, promising the Dementors more if they were going to be on his side. He used three on living humans, turning them into – those things. He used one in the dark ritual they put on me. The other two have been secured. He told us we could verify that they were parts of Tom’s soul; but it’s impossible. Dumbledore tried and said the horcrux was too damaged. Everyone agrees that it’s Abraxas’s own horcrux, because frankly, at this point he just sounds crazy. I wisely played my part. He’s getting the kiss as we speak. I haven’t known them before but after their whole plan was stripped bare and we confronted them with it, all of them – they didn’t appear to be human anymore. Dumbledore says it’s corruption by the horcrux and Azkaban, potentially by an Unbreakable based on hate. The others will get the kiss tomorrow. Tom, please look at me.”

 

Tom shook his head, looking down at his hands. Harry very carefully reached out and gently touched them. “Skeeter is being treated,” he said quietly, “but she’s unlikely to fully recover. Lucius’s case will have to have another go in court, but I don’t think he’s a future threat. He’s – I think he’s really badly off, to be honest. I don’t think he ever wanted to be a part of it.”

 

“Why didn’t they just threaten Tom with the horcrux straight away?” Severus asked.

 

“They needed the publicity of the court,” Harry said, “licentia absolvisti would have protected Abraxas. Without him being officially absolved by Tom, they were afraid coming forward would just mean that he would hunt them down and kill them. Besides, they truly, fully hate Tom and wanted him to suffer before blackmailing him.”

 

Tom still looked down. Harry scooted closer. “What’s wrong?” he said so very gently that Severus’s heart clenched with it.

 

“It’s my fault,” Tom said. He was barely audible, and Harry squeezed his fingers very carefully.

 

“No,” he said, sounding very sure.

 

“It’s my depravity that brought all of this on,” Tom said, “it’s the horcruxes and the Massacre. It’s been over thirty years, but bad history is never forgotten. I deserve a place right next to Lucius.”

 

“No,” Harry repeated firmly. He reached out a hand and stroked over Tom’s neck before clasping it, bringing their heads together. “You’re not the same person,” he whispered, “I know that you changed. That’s what’s important.”

 

“I took two lives,” Tom said; he sounded unsteady and Severus came closer carefully, stood next to them and touched Tom too. “I’m responsible for eighteen lives lost during the Massacre. I’m responsible for Sirius. I am responsible for – for your childhood, for-“

 

“You’re not that person anymore,” Harry said, “and I don’t love you any less for what I got to know about you these last months.”

 

“It’s not so easy, Harry,” Tom said, but he looked up, eyes greedy and desperate on Harry’s face.

 

“I know,” Harry said. They sat in silence for a very long time.

 

--

 

For a week, Tom was sure that he had to hand himself in.

 

He didn’t tell Harry, who was doing better than he had since getting bitten.

 

He didn’t tell Severus, who was keeping a close eye on them both.

 

But he made an appointment with Dumbledore.

 

He knew that Dumbledore knew and when he sat in front of him, Tom Marvolo Riddle, arguably Britain’s most powerful wizard couldn’t lift his head to look at Albus.

 

“I know why you’re here,” Albus said. He twirled his wand gently in his fingers. Time ticked by.

 

“I loved a depraved man,” Albus said, “and therefore got to know a depraved man. Until today, he doesn’t regret. You were conceived under a love potion. You didn’t love others, didn’t love yourself. You could rip your soul to shreds because you felt no love. It should have been impossible, but you learnt to love others. Maybe you haven’t really learnt to love yourself yet, but then again, who really can say that of himself?”

 

“I want to turn myself in,” Tom said. His voice was quiet but didn’t waver; this last stretch of the way he wanted to walk in dignity and he was lucky to find that his voice didn’t betray him.

 

“You turned your life around, Tom,” Albus said. He leaned forward and after a moment of struggle, Tom could return his gaze.

 

“You have others who depend on you,” Albus said, “Azkaban won’t keep a man of your caliber. Don’t you think you’re safer in the arms of the men who love you than slowly wilting away on that rock until you are back to what you were when you were twenty?”

 

“I doubt that I deserve absolution just because I’m too powerful for Azkaban,” Tom said. Albus smiled, very gently.

 

“We have a different notion of right and wrong than Muggles,” Albus said, “some of the things we do – they would abhor them. Our sense of justice is a little different. I personally believe that you are well served with turning into a good man learning to live with his past. Isn’t that a much bigger challenge than having the responsibility of your actions taken away from you and turned into a sentence that doesn’t require your active participation at all?”

 

“Albus,” Tom said, feeling entirely helpless.

 

“We have some 150 years to rescue magic, Tom,” Albus said. His gaze was intense, and Tom breathed in with difficulty. “I won’t be able to do it without you. If you feel too damaged to continue your life, I can throw you into Azkaban. I can ask for the kiss to be given to you. But I think a lifetime of trying to do good is just as much of a justified sentence for you as Azkaban or the kiss.”

 

“You’re not scared I’ll turn again?” Tom asked. He was; he was so scared.

 

“You can’t unlearn to love, Tom,” Albus said, “If you were to lose Harry tomorrow, his memory would be enough to keep you from harming others. Maybe not from harming yourself but that’s not the same. Even in sorrow, there’s love.”

 

“I don’t deserve anyone’s forgiveness,” Tom tried, but again, Albus just smiled.

 

“It’s another thing that you’ll have to live with,” he said, “that I and others are willing to give it despite it all. Another lesson of love.”

 

“I killed two people,” Tom said, “in cold blood. I’m a murderer. I am responsible for the Massacre, I am –“

 

“And you’ve seen their faces in your sleep every day in the last week,” Albus said gently. “I know who they were. There’s no memory left of them because you picked them out of a homeless shelter. Their own families have long forgotten their names. They were unloved, desperate. Does that make what you did right? Of course not. But you haven’t forgotten them. You’re no longer a depraved man.”

 

“I don’t know how I can live with myself,” Tom said. There was no use in trying to stop the tears and he allowed them, didn’t hide himself. “Even Abraxas and Bellatrix happened because of me; Harry’s a wolf because of me; I am-“

 

“They happened to themselves,” Albus said quietly, “and I stand with my opinion. I see no better judgment against you than having to live with yourself, with all that you did, fully aware that you wouldn’t make the same choices again. I trust you, Tom. I trust that you won’t ever repeat your mistakes.”

 

Tom couldn’t answer, still fighting with his tears. Albus let him, watched him quiet down.

 

“I’m scared it’s temporary,” Tom whispered, “I’m scared that one day I wake up and I – I-“

 

“I have trust in you,” Albus repeated quietly.

 

--

 

Coming back from Albus, Tom found Harry and Severus in their kitchen, cooking dinner.

 

That night, he told them everything what he had told Albus, bared his heart and soul. He had never done it before, not like this, not with the intention of falling and allowing them to catch him.

 

They did.

 

--

 

Tom woke up to Harry kissing him firmly. He turned into the kiss, lazy and cozy, kissing back. He was hard and with a turn of his hips he could rub his erection against Harry, but Harry kept a hand on his hip.

 

“Thanks for sending me to Severus,” Harry said, “it was the right thing to do.”

 

Tom moaned in answer when Harry reached down to fondle his balls.

 

“Agreed,” Severus said from the doorway. Tom stretched out a greedy hand for him. Severus was there within a heartbeat, pressing his long body against Tom’s.

 

“I think he deserves a little solace,” Harry said in a tone of voice that sent shivers all over Tom’s body. He keened in response, nipples and balls drawing up and tight. He was already so hard when Harry flipped him over and started licking and sucking his hole, when Severus fed him his cock. He couldn’t get a grip on his moans and begs, bit down hard on his lips to stop himself, felt hot and embarrassed.

 

“Don’t,” Severus said immediately, “don’t, Tommy. Let it out. We want to hear you.”

 

“Fuck,” Tom said and then Severus was already pushing his cock in Tom’s mouth again.

 

“Ready?” Harry asked and lined up within a second when Tom nodded. He was big and heavy and hard inside Tom and he keened, cried out when Severus reached over him to help Harry open Tom’s legs further.

 

They took turns fucking him, fucked him slow and soft and hard and deep. Tom felt as if he was being split open, as if he was having a religious experience whenever they fucked and whispered to him, praised him, told him they loved him. He was raw, in and out, completely open. It was the scariest thing he had ever done in his life and he clung to them, begged them to keep going; he didn’t want them to stop, couldn’t come until Severus took him in hand while Harry pressed gently into him, until Severus twisted his hand and coached Tom through it.

 

“My sweetie,” Severus said at the very end of it, just before Tom dropped off to sleep. He whimpered and pressed closer, Harry at his back, soothing him with slow strokes until he fell into slumber.

 

When he woke up, the sun was still up. He heard music drifting up from downstairs; his body was pleasantly sore. He stretched out and then walked downstairs.

 

Severus was in the kitchen, half reading a book, half watching Harry outside in their tiny backyard. He was picking apples from their tiny tree, singing along to his music and kicking pebbles. It was such a Harry thing; outside, carefree, diddle-daddling, moving around and Tom realized with a start that he hadn’t seen it since Harry got bitten.

 

When he looked back at Severus, Severus was studying him, a small smile on his lips.

 

“Our boy is alright,” he said, and Tom crossed over to him, kissed him.

 

“Thank fucking god,” Tom said, and Severus laughed, drew him down for another kiss.  

 

--

 

“Last time losing your mind,” Severus said when Harry prepared for his very last shift before he could finally take wolfsbane. Harry groaned and threw the apple he’d been eating at Severus.

 

“Careful,” Severus said, “or you won’t have access to the high-quality bane only I can make for you.”

 

“You wouldn’t,” Harry said, not the least bit disturbed. He was right of course, but Severus didn’t say so.

 

“Will you do legilimancy one last time for me?” Harry asked Tom, “it’s vastly more bearable when you do.”

 

“Of course,” Tom said.

 

Harry smiled at him sweetly; Tom’s heart clenched.

 

He was still feeling fragile; but here in their living room, hours before a full moon with Harry fully trusting Tom to have his back, it was somehow, magically bearable.

Chapter Text

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.