Harry strode over to stand before Tom. "I know what you are," he said.
Tom's eyebrow arched and he sat up. In a calm voice he said, "I never hid it from you. Listen to me, Harry-"
"No, you listen to me," said Harry, punctuating his order with a jab of his finger. "I can destroy you any second now that I know what you are. Don't think that I won't do it, either. The only reason I haven't killed myself is because you - he - Voldemort dies first."
Tom jumped to his feet. "I want him dead, the same as you. He would not let me live to challenge him. He would keep me in an artefact, to be used just as he now uses you. I've lived too long through you to die by his hand, Harry. I have a way - a way for both of us to live. We need to escape this place-"
Harry shook his head. "No, I want this over. I want it ended."
"I'm not him!" Tom objected with an angry slash of his hand. "You've shown me what it's like to live, really live! You've shown me what it's like to love and be loved. Now that I've tasted it - through you - I cannot bear the thought of dying without knowing what it is like to be loved. Can you imagine how painful that must be? To die without ever having been loved?"
Harry's heart thumped as memories of his time at the Dursleys flooded through him. "I'm sorry." He took a step towards Tom and showed his regret plainly on his face. "I really am. But I have to do this."
Tom shook his head. "You still trust Severus? After he lied to you yet again?"
"He's helped me this far. And I trust him more than I trust you. He cares about me. He loves me. You said so yourself."
A slow, crooked smile spread across Tom's face. "That's right, you haven't figured it out, have you?"
"Figured what out?" Harry didn't like the crookedness of the smile and tensed, ready for the lies that were sure to slip from Tom's mouth.
"Exactly why he wishes to aid you. Why he betrayed me."
Harry snottily asked, "He was tired of being a slave to someone less intelligent?"
Tom laughed and, for a moment, it sounded genuine. "No. No...." He shook his head and once had he composed himself, he said, "He knew about your mother's pregnancy and that I would kill your father on my way to you, just as he knew your father to be the type of man who would die defending his son." He shifted forward, standing within an arm's length of Harry. "He asked me to spare her - your mother - and I thought he merely fancied her. I thought he only wanted her because James possessed her. But no, I see now that he loved her. It-"
Tom continued as if Harry hadn't interrupted. "It must be your eyes," he mused as he lifted a hand to stroke the side of Harry's face. "You do have very exquisite eyes, Harry."
Harry knocked Tom's hand away from his face with a fist. "Don't touch me."
Tom withdrew his arm and sat down on the recliner.
"Snape hated my mother. He called her a 'Mudblood'. He-"
"He begged me to let her live. Why do you think I gave her the chance to step aside and spare her own life? Do you think I gave anyone else that option? Why would I care about the life of a Mudblood witch when I cut down the last of a Pureblood lineage without a second thought? Severus is the only reason you are alive today." With a wave of his hand, he created a chair behind Harry. "Sit down, you look as though you are about to collapse any moment."
Harry dropped down into the chair. Half of his mind screamed that Tom was lying - that he was trying to manipulate him. And yet, Snape had mentioned, long ago, that Harry's mum had given him Muggle books. He had spoken of a female friend with whom he had discussed Dracula. She had come to his defence when the Marauders had flipped him upside down. But he had called her a Mudblood.
Tom spoke, jarring him from the warring thoughts within his mind. "Would you like to see the memory?"
Was it a trap? Why couldn't he read Tom's mind, see Tom's memories, yet his could be read? Harry gripped the armrests of the chair and shook his head. "No. I... If you know this, then why are you working with him now?"
Tom's brow furrowed for a moment before it smoothed. "I'm not aligned with Severus. My other part trusts him implicitly. I do not. I've pieced together the truth from the two different sides he possesses - the one displayed to me in the past and the one he cautiously shows to you now."
Tom stood up and walked away from Harry, his fingers drifting to lace together behind his back. "After her death, he did not seem to mind, and his affections appeared to shift to another. But I see now how his love for her compelled him to commit acts he would otherwise be adverse to. I was wrong to dismiss such a powerful force."
Harry couldn't believe it. Snape in love with his mum. It was horrible to think about; a pit opened deeper and deeper within his stomach. Snape always watched his face when they had sex; the dark eyes fixed on his. Was he looking for Lily?
No, it couldn't be. But what about their book conversations? There was Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights who kept the daughter of the object of his affection as a slave to gain revenge on the woman who spurned him to marry his greatest enemy. The child had her father's features and mother's eyes. The discussion about Frollo from Hunchback, the creepy Archdeacon so obsessed with a gypsy girl, he'd rather see her dead than with another. But if Snape did compare himself to Heathcliff or Frollo, he wouldn't have been so stupid as to tell Harry.
"You're wrong. He did tell me that he used to be friends with my mum, but he brought Wuthering Heights in, read it in front of me, and told me the plot. He wouldn't have done that if he thought I'd ever suspect him of seeing himself as a parallel to Heathcliff."
Tom shook his head. "You don't understand him at all, do you? Of course he would give you clues to the truth and a chance to discover it on your own. A man like him enjoys a challenge. If you are easy to manipulate and control - which you are, in a way - he'll tire of you quickly. As much as he pretends otherwise, he loves it when you fight him. He's given you enough clues to give you the chance to escape him because the chase thrills him. I won't be surprised if he allows you to escape this prison just so he has the chance to capture and enslave you all on his own." Tom turned back to look at Harry, one eyebrow raised. "Besides, even if he was just toying with you, do you really think a Potions Master like him can't drug you into being exactly what he wants without you being any the wiser? That love potion he gave you has clouded your mind."
"It wasn't a love potion," protested Harry. "Just something to make-"
"It easier for him to rape you."
"He didn't want that!"
Rolling his eyes, Tom said, "Are you really so stupid? Severus and Avery have been friends since Hogwarts, and Avery is quite known for his fondness of rape. They set it up so that Severus would have an excuse to have sex with you while still maintaining your trust and affection."
"Snape and Avery hate each other-"
"A conflict which arose after your rape in the throne room. Avery probably demanded access to you as a reward for his aid and Severus most likely refused it. He may have eventually granted it though. There is that odd memory of you tied to a bed. Even if Avery wasn't involved, Severus still must've raped you and taken the memory. That was the real reason he didn't want you re-gaining your memories and stopped that process from progressing. The memories he didn't want you to see had started to return. He knew you'd refuse sex with him if you knew how much he wanted it. Why do you think he pretended to hate it for so long? You know he wanted it - wanted you. He's never needed a potion, has he?"
It was so fucked. Harry just sat there, his stomach in knots, his heart in his throat. It was a lie. He refused to believe it.
"You must be cautious," said Tom. "Your mother died because of him; because he was unwilling to let her go. Yes, it is true that he tried to save her, but he wanted me to kill your father and you so she would return to him. I wonder how many he would kill to keep you in his grasp."
"He doesn't care about Ginny." Harry shook his head. It was all too much. He'd wanted Snape to care for him, to love him, but not like this. "He gave me her picture."
Tom scoffed. "To pacify you in the short term. To keep you agreeable to him. She may already be dead."
"NO!" Harry slammed his fist down on the armchair. "I'm not a girl. I can't give him what my mum could. Maybe he helps me because of her, but that doesn't mean that he loves me like he loved her. If he even did. I- He- He always says I'm like James. He couldn't stand James!"
"And yet he appears to enjoy spending time with you," Tom pointed out. "He loves you. Perhaps he doesn't think of you like James as much as he has led you to believe. Or perhaps his obsession with your mother has carried over to you. Maybe those green eyes alone are enough to make him throw his old life away. Why do you think he hasn't told you about me?"
Harry sucked in a breath. Although he'd suspected Snape knew, it was still shocking to hear it from Tom. "He knows?"
"Of course he knows," said Tom, shaking his head in disbelief. "Don't be naive. How do you think I ended up trapped here, able to read your mind but barely able to share my thoughts with you? He doesn't intend to let you die and yet he does not know how to remove me. I know. I'm older than he and I have ways to end our mutual problem."
"He has a plan. He'll-"
Tom threw up his hands in exasperation. "Did you not listen to his words? In the first ceremony, he will take steps to ensure that you aren't killed! These ceremonies will not remove me. Our lives are intertwined until I am removed, we live and die as one."
It was all a lie. Shaking his head, Harry said, "I don't believe you."
"Why hasn’t he told you about me?"
"He wants-," stammered Harry. "He wants to protect me." Why hadn't Snape told him? Why all the lies? It seemed impossible that Snape didn't know about the Horcrux. He knew so much about most things, and Tom wouldn't have purposely walled himself up.
"Yes, even from yourself. Why hasn’t he allowed you close to anything that could be used as a weapon? Why is he so concerned with protecting you from yourself? Don’t you remember the reason why he wouldn’t let you bathe alone? Don't you remember how he said that he had to watch you to make sure you wouldn't kill yourself? Yes, my other self knows about the Horcrux as well. That’s why Severus's life is in danger. He must know that Severus has figured out what you are by now. He will kill him to prevent him from finding and destroying the other Horcruxes."
Tom took a breath. "We can save Severus. Despite all his faults, he's devoted to you - there's no reason for him to die. Take control of yourself and I will free you of me. Together, we will protect and save him."
Snape's promise to keep him alive, once a source of comfort, now turned his stomach. When Snape had given him the fake death potion, he had thought Snape wished to test his resolve, but now he wasn't so sure. Why did Snape have him beg to be saved? Why promise to keep him alive, if Snape knew about the Horcrux? His head was spinning. "If you know how to separate us, then why hasn't he - your other soul - taken you out of me?"
Tom shook his head. "We share a soul, not a mind. There are differences between the two." When Harry frowned, Tom sighed and elaborated. "He does not know what I know and, likewise, I don't know what he thinks or feels now - not while Occlumency is employed against us. We only understand each other up to the point of our separation. Once I awakened - once I became more than just a tiny bit of him which gave you unique abilities - I immediately desired freedom and explored the bounds of our bonds. He remains on the outside while I know how we," he motioned between them, "are and are not connected. I know the spells necessary to separate myself from you. I just need you to take back your magic, collect the necessary ingredients for the potions we need, and then we shall both be free of each other. I know his weaknesses; I know how to kill him." Tom closed the distance between them, kneeling down beside Harry's chair and placing his hand on Harry's arm. "Let me help you destroy him."
Harry yanked his arm away from Tom's grasp. "I need to think, it's all too much."
Tom stood, his eyes narrowing. "We have very little time. The more control my other soul gains, the more confident he will become and then he will kill the both of us to prevent either of us from ever usurping his rule. He needs you now, but eventually he won't worry for his Horcruxes, and he'll either kill us both or remove me - and kill you in the process."
Harry stood and walked towards the exit of the room. "I need to talk to Snape."
"So he can take away your memory?" Tom grabbed Harry's arm and yanked him back. "Don't be a fool. Yes, he loves you but you cannot trust him!"
Harry tore his arm away from Tom's grasp. "How many times must I tell you? Don't. Touch. Me." He forced himself to calm and then said, "I won't tell him that you've spoken to me. I'm not stupid."
"And neither is he! He will figure out that I have found a way to breach his defences. If he even suspects for a second that I have spoken to you he will take away this memory - seal it in with the other memories." Tom began to pace around the room like a tiger locked in a small cage. "He has already stolen so many important memories from the both of us. If I had known how adept he would become at memory modification and removal, I never would have taught him the basics."
"I won't let him. I can dodge any spell and I would remember the betrayal even if I didn't remember him removing the memory."
Tom paused and tilted his head at Harry. His eyes swept slowly over Harry's body before he said, "Come with me, I will show you what he has taken." He swept his arm around the room and the floor and walls began to change, shifting and shaking. Harry ducked to the floor before it suddenly became a wall and he tumbled to the floor. When he stood, he found himself outside in the hallway.
Harry whirled around to find Tom standing calmly behind him. "I thought you couldn't leave the room."
"I can't interact with anything beyond it." Tom stuck his hand in the wall and it passed through, the same as a ghost. "Follow me."
He strode past Harry, leading him down the corridor. They turned twice and ended up in a room transected by a vast wall. Runes, identical to those on the door he'd broken through earlier in his dreams, flowed across the wall which appeared to be about the size of one of the longest walls in the Great Hall.
"Your memories lie hidden behind it. I, of course, cannot touch it. A few times I've seen spots along the surface crumble slightly, only to be quickly repaired before I can step through the holes." Tom walked along the wall.
Harry traced the outline of a shape, the warmth of the rune seeping into his hand. Unlike the door, the wall had patches in places as if it had been damaged and rebuilt a few times.
"It grows with each passing week," said Tom. He stood at the end of the room, watching Harry from the shadows.
Harry turned back to the wall. "I know he's taken memories. But he hasn't taken any recently, has he?"
"Hasn't he? We share a mind so if you don't know, I won't know. However...." Tom gazed up at the expanse of the wall. "I don't remember the wall being this large a few days ago." He shook his head and walked away. "We must focus on escape. In-"
Harry pressed his hand against the wall and whispered "Fragmentus." The runes lit up, but the wall remained immobile.
Tom snorted. "Don't be a fool. Do you think it's so easily broken? He's probably set up defences. And, of course, should you ever be able to remove them on your own, do you really think he'd let you keep the memories he doesn't want you to have while you're under his control?"
If Harry knew what Snape hid from him then he'd know how much he could trust the Potions Master. What was it that Snape didn't want him to see? What had been hidden away? It couldn't just be the capture and subsequent healing. This wall was too big - his feeling of déjà vu had been too strong. Snape had Obliviated him too many times. There was something behind here that he needed to see.
He placed both hands against the wall.
"Don't!" Tom appeared by his side. "You show your emotions on your face! If you remember, you'll be unable to interact with him in the same manner as before. He'll not stand this sudden change of behaviour. He'll want to know its source and he'll discover I've talked to you."
Harry barely heard him. A single Dark Magic spell might do the trick, just the same as when he'd opened the wall to visit Tom. If he tried hard enough, he could destroy the wall.
And then what? He would have no control over what memories escaped. What if torture came first? What if he had the same reaction as last time with the searing pain and the sickness? Voldemort might get suspicious if he should hurt so close to the final ceremony.
Harry withdrew his hands. He would deal with it later, after they had escaped. Turning back to Tom, he asked, "If this ceremony won't kill us, then why don't you wait until after the ceremony? I'll come here, ask you for the information necessary to separate us and then cast the spell."
Tom glanced at the wall as if checking for cracks. "He won't let you go, but he knows you'll want to leave after you're free. He may do something drastic - like a memory wipe - in order to make you pliant and agreeable to remaining under his control."
"No, he would never do that," Harry shook his head. "He loves me, you said so yourself."
Tom arched an eyebrow at Harry. "He loves differently than you. He's dangerous when he's in love. He reported that prophecy in part because he knew I would kill James and you. When he told me about it, he asked me to spare her but said nothing about your father. He wanted the two of you dead in order to get to your mother because of how much he loved her."
"He said that he didn't know the prophecy referred to me."
"He lies! You know that." Tom took a step back and sucked in a deep breath. "Here is what you must do: Go through the first ceremony and accept the potion. Swear you will take it. Then, after he leaves, take back your magic and escape. Meet up with your friends. Ronald has the device to locate you and once you are free of here, you can call your House-elf to you to ask his aid in finding your friends. The task before you is too great for you to attempt to accomplish it entirely on your own.
"You must go for the Diadem yourself. It is far too important to leave its retrieval entirely up to your trust in Severus. Return here, claiming that you still remain a loyal slave and have escaped your would-be rescuers. But . . . Do not undergo the second ceremony! Kill Nagini and my other self. You are powerful enough and strong enough to do so on your own. Severus will aid you and ensure that you are not killed in the act or afterwards. Your friends and I will protect you from Severus. Having lost you to slavery for months, they will be unwilling to lose you again. I will not stand for his control over you and I know how to defeat him if he proves problematic.
"I know you have no reason to trust me, Harry. Not after all that I have done to you in the past. If there is anything I can do to assure you of my intentions, I would do it if only I knew what could possibly convince you."
It was a good plan; one that contained a lot of the same elements as his own. He trusted that Tom wanted freedom, but beyond that, he didn't trust him at all. Still, Tom did seem eager to have his other soul destroyed. "I will follow your plan if you answer some questions."
Tom nodded, apparently unable to read the deceit in Harry's mind.
"What Horcruxes did you make?"
"The Cup," answered Tom without hesitation, "The Locket, the Ring, the Diary, the Diadem, you - by accident - and apparently the snake. That happened after I parted from him, but I have no doubt Severus is correct in his assessment."
"Where did you hide the Diadem?"
Tom pursed his lips, stared at Harry through half-lidded eyes, then said, "In the Room of Requirement."
Harry scoffed and Tom waved his hand as if shooing away an irritating insect.
"I know, I know, not my finest hour. In my defence, the Room was not so well-known when I hid it there. I don't know if my other self has moved it, although I imagine he has, especially if he has seen how cluttered it has become. The Chamber of Secrets is very likely a place where I would hide the Diadem should I move it, but I cannot confirm that as its location."
"What sort of defences would you set up?" continued Harry, still suspicious of Tom, even though the answers were freely given and sounded oddly truthful.
Tom sighed. "I'm not exactly him, you do understand? Wards - the Triggering wards. I would be shocked if there weren't any of those. Perhaps a monstrous creature or two but unlikely - they are difficult to smuggle into a castle full of people unless their size has been reduced considerably. He probably made sure that no one but the two of you would be able to retrieve it; aiding you due to the shared blood and Parseltongue. Severus thinks he can work around these conditions, but he over estimates his chances and my cleverness. He thinks it would be suicidal for me to allow you to enter, especially knowing that you hunt the Horcruxes, but if I were able to narrow down the number of individuals able to approach my sacred object to one other person besides me, then I would do so." He gazed at Harry, a smirk curling the corner of his mouth. "I'd only have to worry about you."
"And?" asked Harry, his mouth dry. "How would you defend against me?"
"Mmmm." Tom's eyes glittered, as though he enjoyed envisioning his defences. "Poisonous creatures to attack anyone who set foot in the tunnels - something able to feed off the rats and insects which wander inside. I'd not permit you your wand or a broom; I would find a way to force you to discard them. Passwords can be overcome relatively easily, but I doubt you've been trained and they would delay you."
He paused and said, "Ideally, it would be best for me to navigate the Chamber. If you give me control, I will-"
"No," said Harry, shaking his head. "I'm not giving you control of me."
"Harry, this is-"
"I'm going now," declared Harry, closing his eyes and trying to return to sleep. The longer he waited with Tom, the more Tom would try to convince him to relinquish control. He couldn't let that happen. He couldn't let himself be talked into allowing two Voldemorts to walk the Earth; especially when one had his body. "I'll talk to you later."
He woke alone in Snape's bed, the room dark.
"Snape?" Harry propped himself up, squinting into the shadows to try and spot the Potions Master. It was unlike Snape to leave him alone. Was he still dreaming? How would he know either way?
Harry slid towards the edge of the bed, only to have his left arm held in check by a chain connecting his cuff to some part of the bed. What was he, some sort of concubine? What if he needed to use the loo?
Harry sighed and rearranged himself comfortably under the covers. Despite what he had seen, he couldn't trust Tom. There was a possibility that Snape had found a way to remove Tom and would do so in the final ceremony, but Harry couldn't trust in that either. There were too many lies between them for him to rely on Snape. What needed to be done was too important to leave up to chance. He would escape. He would tell the others about how to find and destroy the last Horcruxes. He would kill Voldemort. But then, he would go through the second ceremony - without taking the potion.
It was the only way he could be absolutely sure Voldemort would be destroyed. Maybe that was the true meaning behind 'neither can live while the other survives'.
Oh well, he would think about it later, once he woke for the day. No sense in staying awake unless Snape was with him.
Hands shook him awake.
"It's time," said Snape.
"Wha-?" Harry sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"The flower has bloomed; it is time for the ceremony." Snape yanked the covers off of Harry and flicked his wand towards the thick curtains covering the windows. Light spilled into the room, splashing across Harry's face. It was the first time sunlight had hit his eyes in months and he blinked like a newborn babe.
"Breakfast first," said Snape as he practically threw clothing at Harry's head. Harry barely saw it. His wrist had been unchained, so he slid off the bed and crossed the room to the windows, drawn by the light. A thin film, like frost, covered the glass, preventing him from viewing the surrounding landscape. Still, it was warm and bright and he pressed his fingertips against the glass.
"Come and eat your breakfast. I'll be taking you outside when we visit the lab."
Harry reluctantly left the warm light and followed Snape to the kitchen, snatching up his clothing and pulling it on.
"Who will be guarding me while you're gone?"
"Enitan Gazini. He's been in the Dark Lord's service for a long time, but only recently returned from Africa. He's an expert in potions and I've asked him to watch the cauldrons whilst I collect ingredients. He is unlikely to bother you in any aspect. I'll be surprised if he leaves the lab for any considerable length of time."
"If he's a Potion's Master, won't he be able to tell that you were lying about what the Potion does?"
"I wrote to him for advice and incorporated his suggestions into a well-crafted placebo. He'll be trying to duplicate the feat that I have apparently accomplished, but I've put up enough obstacles and false leads that it will take him a while to deduce each ingredient of the placebo, much less the purpose of the ceremony as a whole."
"Volde-" He should stop saying that name. He couldn't say it at all once he'd escaped. "The Dark Lord hasn't been checking your work all along? He puts a lot of trust in you."
"Of course he's been examining my work, but he's not a Potions Master. He is too paranoid to allow any but his most trusted servants near your, and we two are the only Potions Master he trusts enough to allow within your vicinity. This wizard is here to examine my work and confirm or discredit me."
"What will you do if he figures out what's really going on?"
"In the event that my plans crumble and I am killed or unable to aid you in the Dark Lord's destruction, I'll give you a poison to imbibe. You said you would rather die than be Lucius's slave and I do not blame you. I have my own poison always ready to use if necessary."
Harry imagined the two of them drying together, their bodies falling side by side as they refused to be pawns any longer. It had seemed an act of fear to take the potion alone, but no act of Snape's could possibly be cowardice, much less one so dramatic. Freedom or death. No one would take them alive.
In the kitchen, they prepared their meal in silence, Snape speaking the few instructions with gestures rather than words. Brushing against each other, they moved around the kitchen: chopping, sautéing, piling foods on plates. Harry put a kettle on and scooped tea into the teapot. The milk and sugar containers sat filled on the tray along with the strainer and dishes for two. By the time Harry had set the table, the kettle whistled. Harry prepared the tea while Snape piled food upon their plates.
"To answer your earlier question as to how I developed this potion," said Snape after he had eaten his smaller fill. "Like languages, spells have roots. The cleaning charms are mostly interrelated and, when developing new potions or spells, it is far more beneficial to build off what has come before than to try to create a whole new system."
Snape kept speaking, telling Harry every little detail about the ingredients used in the potion and how he came to devise the manner of how to kill Harry without actually killing him. Harry couldn't care less about it, especially because he didn't know enough about potions to figure out what anything Snape was saying meant, so he sat and nodded, making little noises to show he was listening, even though he only half heard what Snape was saying. It didn't matter in the end - he wasn't going to take the second potion.
Pride shone through Snape's words, obvious even with Harry only half-paying attention. His lips curled up at the edges as he told Harry how one of the herbs he needed only bloomed once a year and had to be collected immediately after flowering. It flowered on the winter solstice in Asia and Snape hadn't bothered to collect it earlier in the year as he didn't wish to leave Hogwarts and he'd had no need for it then.
"Can you guess what I did?" There wasn't any scorn or derision in his voice and Harry knew he didn't expect to be answered. Harry shook his head 'no', but that didn't appear to be necessary, since Snape launched straight into how he had solved the problem. Playing with his teaspoon, his mind on his conversation with Tom, Harry only pretended to listen.
The tea in the pot had grown cold by the time Snape finished speaking.
"We've dawdled long enough," said Snape as if it'd been Harry who'd been talking. He sent the dishes to the sink. "You should use the loo now; I don't have one in my lab."
After Harry had completed his morning routine, Snape led him back upstairs, collaring and leashing him inside the kitchen by the door.
Harry grinned at him. "Are you taking me outside now or just indulging a kink?"
Snape smirked. "Why can't it be both?"
"Pervert." Harry started towards the door, eager to see what lay beyond it.
"Wait." Snape tugged the leash, stopping Harry in his tracks. "If your allies should attempt to rescue you, return to your cell. We are too close to defeating him to allow anyone to interfere with our plans. It is highly unlikely that they'll figured out how to break through the wards, but we must be cautious."
Harry nodded. If he should escape now, Snape would be blamed and probably killed. He could not let that happen. "Don't worry, I haven't come this far to let things fall apart now."
Snape motioned to Harry to precede him. "Go. Turn to the right once you are outside and walk along the path to the lab."
Harry opened the door. Air. Fresh air. It smelled of nature. Earth, water, flowers, trees. He had forgotten what air smelled like. He hadn't seen a tree in months. For a moment, he could do nothing but stand there, his senses overrun. There was the feel of the breeze against his skin. The sound of birds twittering and the wind playing with the branches in the nearby forest. Nothing compared to the sight. They were standing in a field with grasses stretching out to melt into the green of the evergreen forests. Above the thick forests, smoky wisps of white clouds dotted a bright blue sky. Pale purple mountaintops rose off in the distance. It was amazing.
"Go." Snape grabbed his upper arm and thrust him forward. Harry forced his legs to move, letting Snape push him along a path under an overhang which stretched out from a wall. Constructed of wood, it didn't match the darker colour of the building from which they had just emerged. It appeared rather hastily and shoddily built, with the rafters open and exposed. As Harry's eyes drifted over the rafters, a pair of big eyes stared back at him.
"No." Snape paused in his march. "She's out delivering post. That's her nest. Accio owlet!" A small puff of grey flew out of the nest and landed in Snape's palm with an indignant squawk.
"Oi!" protested Harry. He scooped up the chick and held it securely in two hands. "You all right?"
Massive amber eyes blinked slowly at Harry. The chick seemed to be mostly composed of eyes. Eyes and feathers with a tiny beak. "You never told me Strix had a chick."
"I found him wandering across the road a few days ago. There were other things on my mind. Besides, he appears to be even dafter than his mother. Come, we'll take him to the lab." Snape plucked the chick from Harry's hands and tucked him under an arm as he pulled Harry onwards.
The owlet complained about the rough treatment with screeches.
"Oi! You've got to support his feet!" Harry rescued it from Snape's arm and protectively held it to his chest.
Ignoring him, Snape dragged him into the lab and led him down a short set of stairs.
"What's his name?" asked Harry, finding it difficult to keep his step with Snape's quick pace.
"I haven't bothered to give him one."
"Mephistopheles," said Harry. He wasn't sure why the name of the demon from Faustus popped into his head, but somehow, it seemed to fit.
From Snape's lack of criticism, it appeared he also agreed with the naming.
A patch had been cleared in the centre of the floor of the lab, the cauldrons all crammed towards one side. With a wave of his hand, Snape removed the leash and collar and instructed, "Put the owl down, undress, and go sit in one of the circles."
Harry couldn't see anything on the floor, his eyesight wasn't good enough and the lab was rather dim. Setting Mephistopheles down on a work bench, Harry stripped off his clothing. "I thought it was dangerous to be naked in a lab."
"When brewing," said Snape absently as he constructed a protective cage for Mephistopheles. He strode over towards a cauldron that was giving off thick clouds of white. "Some spells require nudity."
"A sex spell? Do you need my semen or something?"
Snape scoffed as he added something to the cauldron that made the potion glow bright blue, casting shadows all over the walls. "There is more to nudity than sex. Can you not think of another reason why a spell would require us both to place our wands to the side, remove our clothing, and bare our bodies?"
"Trust," answered Harry as he strode over towards the clear space where he guessed designs had been drawn on the floor.
He wasn't disappointed. The drawing was huge, about the size of his bed. The outline was in the shape of a fat hourglass and covered in runes and various figures which looked to be letters of some unknown language. In the very centre of the design rested a circle as big as Harry's hand. Flanked by two smaller circles, a line ran through the trio, connecting to teardrop shapes which turned into larger circles. There was one at each end of the hourglass, and Harry took the one which allowed him to watch Snape.
Snape finally undressed as well, carefully folding his clothing over a stand he had Summoned. When he had stripped down to trousers, he walked to the other end of the room and bent over a work table. Harry's eyesight was poor and the low lighting and the fumes made it difficult to see what was going on, but then Snape approached the design with a bowl in one hand and the cauldron of blue liquid in his other. The rest of his clothing vanished as he stepped onto the drawing and sat cross-legged in the circle opposite Harry.
"The words are, 'δίδωμι σοι τήν ψυχήν ἐμοῦ'.
"Th'i-tho-me see tin psi-h'in em-'oo?" repeated Harry.
"Again," said Snape. "δίδωμι σοι τήν ψυχήν ἐμοῦ."
The words were almost like a song and easy to remember. Harry confidently stated, "Th'i-tho-me see tin psi-h'in em-'oo."
Snape nodded. Setting the bowl down in front of him, he gripped the cauldron with both hands and poured the shimmering liquid into the centre circle. The potion flowed through the drawings as if the marks had been carved into the stone rather than simply painted on the surface. Although the centre circle filled with blue, the design turned red like freshly spilled blood. Magic flowed up from the stones, casting a silver hue across the room. Warmth flowed into Harry's body, relaxing him. Whatever magic it was, it felt good. Friendly. Like a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold winter's day.
"Concentrate on Occluding against him," said Snape.
Harry nodded and tried to focus on blocking both Voldemorts from his mind, but he had no idea how to keep his own personal Horcrux from accessing what was happening.
Snape continued, "Remain entirely within your circle and don't do a thing unless I tell you to."
The cauldron drifted off to the side and Snape picked up the bowl. Chanting in a soft language, his words almost a song, Snape dipped his fingers in the red substance of the bowl and reached forward to smear it down Harry's forehead.
Dipping his finger in the bowl before each application, Snape drew lines down the sides of Harry's neck, traced an 'x' over Harry's heart, sketched a square on Harry's abdomen and placed dots in Harry's palms and upon the soles of his feet. He did the same on his own body, sending the bowl away once he had finished. Snape dipped his red-covered fingers in the potion and began to sing a new song.
Magic poured through Harry, the runes and words dancing on the stone as the marks on his body pulsed with life. Wind, from nowhere, flowed around them, tousling Harry's hair. The smaller circles on either side of the bright blue circle turned silver and rose up out of the ground, transforming into bowls. Snape's chanting grew louder, but a roaring sound filled Harry's ears and he had to lean forward to make out the unknown words.
"NOW, POTTER!" roared Snape, his eyes on the bowls. "SAY δίδωμι σοι τήν ψυχήν ἐμοῦ!"
"TH'I-THO-ME SEE TIN PSI-H'IN EM-'OO!" yelled Harry over the howling of the wind that was now throwing Snape's hair wildly about his face.
The cups began to dance high above them, spinning around in circles.
"TH'I-THO-ME SEE TIN PSI-H'IN EM-'OO!"
"YOUR HAND!" Snape shot out his own.
Snape wasn't far away, but with the maelstrom and magic surrounding them, it was as if he were trying to push though a heavy ward. Harry finally managed to grab Snape's wrist and Snape yanked him forward. Harry glanced down at the floor to make sure he remained in his circle, but now he and Snape remained enclosed in a single one.
Snape clutched Harry's hands, his right grasping Harry's right and his left grasping Harry's left. The wind roared and magic crackled, so sharp and electric, even Snape's long hair stood on end when it wasn't being whipped about by the tempest.
Harry somehow knew what to say. He closed his eyes, thrust all his magic into the defence necessary to guard his mind and then screamed, "TH'I-THO-ME SEE TIN PSI-H'IN EM-'OO!"
Magic poured through Harry, rushing towards Snape who chanted in a low voice Harry could barely hear above the magic and wind. The feel of the magic being pulled through him was so strong, it was almost as if Snape were stealing his magic. But that couldn't be true.
Then, as suddenly as the giant surge had begun, it was over. Harry could hear their ragged breaths, the pounding of their hearts. Even the sound of boiling cauldrons had returned and there was no maelstrom or magic.
Snape's hands, wet within his own, started sliding away and Harry grabbed them tighter.
"Harry," said Snape.
Harry snapped his eyes open, startled to hear his name and hear it spoken in such a soft tone. Snape sat there, breathing harshly, his hair sticking out every which way. He looked so ridiculous, Harry couldn't help but smile.
"Let me go," said Snape, lightly shaking his hands.
"Right," said Harry, releasing Snape's. He sucked in a breath, trying to calm his pounding heart.
Snape reached up and plucked one of the bowls from the air above them. He drank down its contents and set the bowl back down on the floor. It vanished.
"Take it." Snape motioned with his eyebrows towards the other bowl.
Harry gently pulled it towards him. This was it. This was the potion Snape wanted him to drink. But he couldn't drink it. He needed to die.
Summoning a vial with a wide, fat lip, Snape ordered, "Pour it in here. Careful, don't spill a drop."
Harry poured the shimmering white potions into the vial. It glowed like pearls lit up from the inside. When he finished, Snape passed him a black cork. Harry shoved it in place, watching the liquid swirl around in the vial.
Placing his hands upon Harry's shoulders, Snape chanted softly. The markings on the floor vanished. Snape retrieved the vial from Harry's lax hands.
Harry wasn't sure what had just happened, but he knew that, whatever had been done, there was no way he'd ever let Snape, Tom, or anyone else get in the way of what he needed to do.
I recently named one of the baby monkeys on our project Mephistopheles. He's adorably cute.
The translation including romanization was obtained from allexperts.com
As always, please review!
Chapter 1 . . . Chapter 59 Chapter 60