Madness and Mayhem - Part II
Chapter 31 - EM-E - Madness and Mayhem - Part II
"There is a deep abrasion here, but nothing to be concerned about," Madam Pomfrey said as she cast scans and diagnostic charms over the now scabbing skin injury on Harry's forehead. "No signs of dark magic, or curse residue." She eyed Harry where he sat on the exam table in the Infirmary. "You may not even retain much of your legendary scar, young man." Now she took a gentle hold of his chin. "This won't hurt a bit."
"Of course it won't," Lucius said sarcastically from the center of the semicircular gathering of concerned adult wizards, all waiting to see if Harry was truly free of his evil little passenger. Madam Pomfrey directed a narrow-eyed glare Lucius' way, but the point had been scored nonetheless, and Harry would have smiled if he wasn't feeling so stunned and shocked at what had just occurred.
I killed my own horcrux. And now I don't have my wild magic any more.
He blinked away the river of confused emotions that wanted to run through his eyes.
"Where do you suppose Wormtail went?" Harry's question was muffled because he was being held very tightly by his guardian, who had gathered him close as soon as he'd jumped down from the table.
"Not far," Remus said in a tone that was close to a growl. The wan Marauder's tension was still quite high, in spite of his extreme relief for Harry.
"Do you suppose he's in the ROR?" Harry asked, trying but failing to pull slightly away from Severus so that he wasn't speaking into his almost-adoptive father's shoulder. That actually induced a small laugh from Harry. His thoughts were racing through all of the possible scenarios that could come about as a result of his disconnection from Voldemort. At least I can wonder things in my head again, he realized with profound relief.
"I wouldn't put it past him," Remus replied, managing a small smile as well and shaking his head. "It's exactly the sort of sneaky thing Peter would do." He was absently stroking the hair on his chin as he half contemplated Harry and considered the possibilities further. "He likely has been in the Room of Requirement since the first time Dolores showed up here with Fudge."
"I agree," Severus and Lucius said simultaneously. They gave each other annoyed looks.
Harry yawned widely, inducing a loud pop in his jaw.
"Bed," Severus said. He turned Harry toward Madam Pomfrey's office door. "Gentlemen, Poppy, we will see you in the morning, Merlin willing." To Harry he said, "We'll take the floo."
"We're nearly finished with this quest," Lucius commented distractedly as he strolled slowly along with Remus. His fingers smoothed over the wiry blond hair that framed his mouth. "I'd very much like to shave."
Remus snorted his amusement but refrained from admitting he was thinking he'd keep his goatee for a while. "Draco left with his mother, then?" he asked, his mind wandering to the upcoming task of corralling and sending the students off to safety the following morning.
"Yes," Lucius said. "Narcissa had wanted me to accompany them to the manor, but I'll sleep in my quarters here. I'm not confident that we will have a period of quiet, although I am hopeful to at least get a solid six hours of rest."
Remus bid Lucius goodnight as he veered off to take the third floor corridor to his quarters.
"Are you going to punish me if I try to get my wand back from Wormtail?" Harry asked.
Severus frowned with renewed tension. They'd been sitting in silence, side by side on the sofa for the past ten minutes, and Severus was feeling the inevitable physical drain of exertion from the day's events. He'd made the obviously erroneous assumption that Harry would go straight back to bed. "If you are foolish enough to put your life in danger again," he replied with a touch of exasperation added into his stern tone, "you will experience a whole new type of mayhem, young man."
Severus draped his arm around Harry and pulled him closer into his side. Harry was taking him seriously, so he softened his delivery. "You don't suppose you could allow yourself a good night's sleep before you continue to fret on this matter?"
"Could you sleep on it, if he had your wand?" Harry asked ironically.
"Absolutely not." Severus said as if the question was utterly ridiculous.
"I would have expected you to collapse into heavy slumber, Young Harry," Severus said with a tired sigh. "Need I remind you that you are still dosed with sleeping aids?"
"I know," Harry agreed. "Weird, huh?" He relaxed his head back against Severus' shoulder. "I've been enjoying the freedom to think things out again," he confided. "I was just remembering when I first discovered my wild magic. I didn't know what it was, but it felt like a warm buzz under my skin. I felt it again, when Madam Pomfrey was healing my forehead earlier-" he was cut off when Severus grasped his chin and turned his head to check the healing progress at this point.
"It is pink. I can see vestiges of the scar."
"Continue," Severus requested, "I apologize for the interruption."
Harry's smile was audible. "Back to my backstory then: I originally figured out how to use it by accident, when I was really ticked off, and just started wishing for things I felt very strongly about."
"And this was what, and at what point?"
"It was on the fist timeline, and I wanted those bloody High Inquisitor Decrees to be gone from the message board in Gryffindor's common room. Seems rather minor now…"
"So, you can probably see why I'm thinking my wand would be the best test subject while I try to figure out if I still have a way to use that part of my magic."
"Do you not fear that this will resume the battle of wills with Wormtail?" Severus asked, and at this point it was a true testament to the depth of his caring for Harry that he didn't indulge the harsh tone that wanted to voice itself.
"I'm thinking that now that I have no link to him, he won't be able find me anymore. He has to know exactly where I am, to take it back," Harry explained. "On the last timeline, when I was in the cart with Griphook and he'd flung my wand and the coin down into the abyss below the vaults, I couldn't see where they'd gone, and that's when I found out I could summon them even still. But earlier, when I brought Wormtail's hand back and showed it to Bellatrix, she had to tell him through our link exactly where it was for him to summon it back." Harry kept his eyes on the fire with his jaw clenched, and waited.
Severus pondered what he'd heard for a few minutes and finally sighed with reluctant acquiescence. He couldn't fault Harry's logic. "If you will do us both the favor of letting it go for the night, so that we can both sleep, I will give it some thought."
"Alright. Thanks, Severus."
"You are welcome, Young Harry."
Remus was not surprised to hear a knock on his door. "Dora," he greeted the now off-duty auror with a tentative smile. This was the second time she'd stopped by after her evening shift in the past couple of days, and he realized he'd been hoping to see her tonight, even after letting the earlier opportunity to extend an invitation slip away. He'd been too distracted by Harry's tantrum. "Please, come in."
"Are you alright?" she asked after studying him for a long moment before crossing over the threshold.
"I will be," Remus told her, gesturing her in with a sweep of his arm. "I'll be much more at ease when we've got Peter captured."
"Uhm hmm. And are you going to admit that you know far more than the rest of us about what is left be done, to dismantle Lord Voldemort's lingering influence?" Dora asked as she plopped down on the transfigured loveseat Remus had just converted from his large armchair. She looked up at him with a tilted head and raised eyebrow, scooting over very slightly when he took a seat beside her.
"I will admit as much, yes," Remus said, smiling more readily now. It was easy to be himself around the younger witch, in spite of his best efforts to avoid growing comfortable with her company. He stretched his legs out and put his arm up along the top of the sofa's back cushions. Not quite a move, but another small step. "We will have our hands full with the task of taking Wormtail down. He is in possession of a cursed item that enhances his magical capabilities to quite an extreme-"
"Yes, got that part. That tacky little pest can apparate within Hogwarts, he's somehow able to pull Harry to him, and I believe it was him who broke the prisoners out of Azkaban and into Hogwarts," Dora summarized. "What's that all about?"
"I commend your powers of observation," Remus said evasively, not surprised in the least that the MLE had picked up on these details.
"The facts are screaming in our faces, Remus," Dora laughed. But she grew serious when she added, "I saw Harry lose it earlier. And I also witnessed that second round of confrontation between him and Pettigrew. His scar burst out of his forehead… did I also witness him releasing himself from his ties to Voldemort?"
"Yes," Remus said gruffly. "Harry has suffered extensively in his short life. I want to see him happy."
"Then let's finish this," Dora whispered firmly. "Harry's not the only one who has suffered extensively. I'd like to see you happy as well."
Remus turned to study her, nerves battling desire, but an emotional longing for intimacy finally overcame his reserve, and without really considering the enormity of the step he was taking, he reached for Dora and pulled her close.
Her arms were already circling his neck when she asked, "The Map?"
"I did have the foresight to add privacy charms to my quarters."
Severus was up and sipping his second cup of coffee near the fire on Monday morning, in deep contemplation of how to best resolve Harry's dilemma. He had not changed his mind about the danger of Harry engaging with Wormtail in any regard, now that the boy could not shield himself, and was wandless. Harry was a sitting duck at this time, and Severus didn't want to have to rely on the threat of corporal punishment to dissuade Harry from experimenting. He completely empathized with any tendency that Harry may have to feel like a victim of his circumstances, and spanking the boy when he was in that mindset would only make things worse.
Harry's bedroom door opened and he came out with his pillow and collapsed dramatically upon the sofa with it in his lap. His expression was sullen and he wasn't persuaded to lighten up when Severus smirked at him. Instead, he flung his pillow to the end of the sofa and tipped dramatically over to burry his head in it. That brought a soft chuckle out of Severus but Harry missed it because he was too caught up in his own black cloud of doom.
"Speak," Severus commanded in a mock tone of impatience.
It took several long moments, but Harry finally turned onto his side so that he was facing Severus, but his eyes were glaring off at nothing in particular. "He shouldn't get away with taking it from me."
"Yeah. The day I got it was the day that Hagrid took me to Diagon Alley after telling me I was a wizard. Hagrid was my first real friend, even before Ron, and he gave me the first birthday cake that I could remember having. And he gave me Hedwig. She was the first birthday present I could remember getting." Harry looked at Severus now. "He told me about my parents, and showed me my vault at Gringott's. I pretended my wand was a birthday present from them, and I've always seen it that way, ever since."
"I see," Severus said, feeling deep sympathy for the sentiment. He waited several long moments before responding in a calm, quiet tone. "Harry, Albus told me that your wand was made of a phoenix feather from the same phoenix that gave one for Voldemort's wand."
Harry sat up, his expression changing from sullen to deep alarm. "Yeah. Olivander called our two wands brothers." He put his hands over his face. "This is so twisted! I've been feeling bad that I lost something that my parents gave me, but it's had nothing to do with them at all, all of this time!" He dropped his hands and met Severus' concerned eyes. "That wand might not even work well for me, now that he's not influencing my magic. What am I going to do then?"
"You're going to get a new wand. Today."
Testing. Testing, Harry thought fiercely, watching his coin to see if the message would appear. Nothing. He could still hear the shower running while Severus was in the bathroom. He tried again. Is this thing on? "Apparently not," he grumbled out loud when the coin remained blank.
There was a tap on the door, and since he had no wand to open it magically, Harry sighed grumpily and went to open it by hand. "Hey, Remus," he said, managing a small smile for the Marauder. "Is everyone off to the train?"
Remus smiled warmly at Harry, but he had a concerned edge to his tone when he said, "They are all off, yes. How are you faring this morning, Harry?" He followed Harry back to the sofa and took a seat beside him.
Now Harry smirked. "I'm alright," he said. "I'm sorry I was such a ponce to you last night."
"When you were entertaining Wormtail in your conscious mind?" Remus asked. "No apology is necessary, Harry."
Harry really looked at Remus now. "We're going to Gringott's after Olivander's," he started with a measured degree of curiosity. Remus nodded, still smiling. "You're alright with Severus adopting me?"
Harry was pleased with the answer, but he still had more to ask. "On the last timeline, we somehow got to talking about our expectations of our futures. Yours was pretty bleak, at that point, but it got better, and by this point, I was thinking you'd had a change of heart."
Remus was touched that Harry was so invested in his happiness. Enough so, that a lump formed in his throat. He had to take a moment to reply, but he was genuine when he said, "Things have started to look up, and I am seeing that change of heart settling in."
"Tonks really likes you," Harry said softly, nervously. "I'm not trying to pry! It's just that I know she's liked you for ages already, and she's not giving up." He was watching a slow blush rise up Remus' cheeks at the same time as he remembered how he'd seen for himself that Tonks was smitten with Remus. "That's all I'm saying." He ducked his head down to avoid watching Remus struggle any longer and was shocked when a strong hand clamped onto the back of his neck and dragged him over for a hard hug. He hugged Remus back, all at once remembering that they still had yet to force the truth out about Sirius. "And at this point on the last timeline, the Prophet had already done a story about Sirius' innocence. We can't let that go."
"I've no intention of letting it go, Harry," Remus said gruffly. He released Harry and smirked at him.