Author's Note: Before I begin with the actual story, I just wanted to take the time to apologize for how long it took to get chapter twenty out. There's been a lot of stuff going on for me in my life and a lot of it has been rather hard. :\ I started my HP stories when things started going belly up, and it's been difficult coming back to them because of that. However, I do think that things have calmed down enough for me to feel comfortable enough to write for this fandom, so… Cross your fingers, yeah? I also wanted to say thank you so incredibly much to those who haven't lost faith in getting an update—telling me that they knew that I would one day come back—as well as those of you who have sent me PMs and left reviews, hoping that everything is all right with me. It really meant a lot, getting so many messages well-wishers. Thank you, thank you, thank you for caring. Finally, many kisses to a certain little sister who never gave up in reminding me to update~ *kiss kiss noms!*
Also, short-ish chapter—I know, I know—but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things (and, if that happens, regular updates should start coming soon). So, once again… cross your fingers for me?
The threads of the half-visible web shimmered eerily in the light that came down from the nearly full moon. The strands twined around one another, structure horribly complex—endlessly twisted with each other, knotted and layered and beautifully chaotic despite it all.
Harry frowned thoughtfully at one particular thread, reaching out with slim fingers to grasp it carefully, shifting it and tangling it with countless others before moving his attention to yet another wisp of spider silk.
In the bed behind him, the teen's "uncle" took another muted, pain-filled breath.
The Dark Lord was an unforgiving leader, and he had not been pleased—not at all—at hearing that "Tom" had been Harry's tutor. He had known just who to blame for that particular fact, as well as why the diary was no longer in a safe place once the knowledge that Dumbledore had taken the journal from Harry had been ripped from the blonde's mind, and… well, Voldemort couldn't punish the elderly man for that audacious act, but Lucius was readily available and accessible enough for the role of whipping boy.
Harry had lost count as to how many hissed "Crucio!"s he had heard.
And Lucius had not been able to stop screaming when Rosier had finally stepped around Harry after their little chat had finished, slipping away into Voldemort's throne room to play the role that he had happily caught for himself. A role that he played very well, for it hadn't been long after that Lucius began to quietly beg for mercy, voice hoarse and desperate—so much pain, the blonde aristocrat must have been in, to humble himself, his pride, so drastically.
The punishment session had ended then, finally—but not because of Lucius' begging.
"You will stop. Now," Harry had said. The command was stated simply, the teen's voice barely more than a low murmur. But the air within the room had begun to bend and wave with heat, and the magic within the enclosed space spiked dangerously each time that the Malfoy patriarch gasped for breath.
Evan Rosier's lips curled slowly into a pleased, contented smile and those bright, vibrant eyes of his glittered in delight at the gauntlet that Harry, in turn, had tossed at Voldemort's feet. "But the Dark Lord isn't done playing yet, Potter. You should learn to wait your turn."
Harry said nothing in return: instead, he continued to stare at the Dark Lord and his torturer, verdant gaze implacable and unyielding from the stand that he had just taken. No more, no more, no more; touch him once again and I shall have my pound of flesh.
Voldemort's eyes sparked in turn, but the Dark child disregarded that new surge of fury considering the fact that he finally got what he wanted in the first place: the Dark Lord turned his tender mercies away from Lucius, gesturing at Rosier for the violet-eyed man to follow after. »This is not finished, child,« the crimson-eyed wizard hissed in dire warning, gaze catching Harry's one final time before slipping through one of the many doors within his throne room.
»It is enough. And that's all that matters to me,« the raven-haired boy murmured to the mostly empty room, his words and Lucius' harsh pants for breath the only sounds that were to be heard. Harry shook his head just moments after he spoke, jarring himself from the train of thoughts that he was starting to meander down, and the teen instead flicked his wand towards his uncle. Casting the spell silently, Harry lifted Lucius and turned on his heel to head back to the room that he had awoken in earlier.
A healing potion that one of the house elves had brought had soothed the blonde lord's pain (though couldn't take it all away), had calmed his breathing as much as it was possible and, eventually, coaxed him into a light sleep. Hours later and Lucius was still resting while Harry watched over his "uncle."
As the verdant-eyed teen reached out and delicately wrapped one of the silky strands around his finger, contemplating the web as a whole while considering where he wanted to thread this new strand, a rich-as-chocolate chuckle slipped through the shadows within the room, claw-tipped fingers teasingly brushing over the elegant arch of the teen's cheekbone.
"I thought that you couldn't come here unless I summoned you through the ritual," Harry commented lightly, unfazed, and carefully attached the spider silk's end to the web's ebon-wood frame.
"If you wanted a favor from me and were willing to pay the price, then yes, you would have to use the ritual to bring me to this particular plane," the voice answered easily enough, hellfire-bright eyes glinting with amusement just behind Harry's shoulder. "But the rules change when it is I who wishes to come and visit with you, Young Master."
"Hn," came the answer from the still-distracted teen. "The text never mentioned that."
The demon chuckled once again, delicately pointed canines gleaming in the moonlight that drifted in from the open bedroom windows. "Of course it didn't. What fun would there be if it had?"
Harry snorted at that particular reply, not giving any other response despite the danger inherit in ignoring the demon in the room while he went about with his web-crafting. Knowing that this level of comfort with a creature that most others would otherwise be frantically trying to contain was all Harry and that the teen could continue to pretty much ignore him until he was finished with his latest project, the creature finally stepped completely into the bedroom.
Heeled boots quietly click-clacked over the marble of the flooring, every step echoing eerily in the darker than norm room. Idly settling down behind the teenage wizard, the demon draped its arms over the boy's shoulders, wrapping possessively over Harry's collarbone, and leaned in so that a too-warm chest pressed snugly against the green-eyed boy's skinny back. Surprisingly quiet considering how often the demon enjoyed baiting others, blood-tinted mahogany eyes watched as Harry continued to weave the various strands of the web into a more complex pattern.
The boy's fingers were deft, pale as moonstone as the time slowly eased further and further into the witching hours. However, even as the night progressed, Harry's movements never faltered, never stuttered, never once hesitated as the web grew, layer by layer.
"How unusual," the demon eventually commented as the clock within the bedroom tolled three a.m. and Harry idly nicked his finger and painted his blood over seven particular strands within the construct. "And here I had believed that your kind only used Arithmancy and Runes for this sort of thing."
"Only using Arithmancy and Runes? How boring," Harry murmured back absently, eyes amused as he glanced at his companion from the corner of his bright green gaze. The dryness of the response earned a quick flicker of a pleased smile and an equally brief nip to the edge of Harry's jawline—hard enough to leave behind a bruise, but not hard enough to draw blood.
"Little spider, spinning away at his web," the demon scolded with a light laugh, and the arms tightened possessively around Harry's slight frame for a moment before retreating—just the briefest shift away, never far—when the wizard's magic spiked in response. "Be careful not to become tangled in the very same strands that you wove, Young Master."
"I always am, Malphas," Harry whispered quietly in answer as he looked over his creation with surprisingly blank eyes. No matter how naturally bright their color might have been, there was nothing—nobody home—within that verdant gaze as the teenage wizard assessed his night's work.
Another muted chuckle was the demon's response, and Harry felt the creature settle closer for a moment before retreating completely as the figure on the bed stirred and finally woke to full consciousness for the first time in hours.
Glancing up as Lucius' lashes lifted so that the man could stare dazedly up at the ceiling and as a soft, heartfelt groan of pain leaving the blonde's pale lips, Harry easily shrunk the wooden frame and the web within, tucking it away out of sight before the elder wizard realized that he wasn't alone within the room. When his uncle did eventually turn his head to the side to access where in the Dark Lord's home he currently was placed, Lucius was surprised into a quick blink at catching sight of Harry.
"Hello, uncle. Welcome back to the land of the living," the teen greeted the Malfoy lord dryly, standing from his seated position on the floor; Harry lightly dusted off his clothing, moving easily despite the hours of staying in a cramped position, and settled himself instead in an armchair not too far from Lucius' bed. Harry only returned his attention to the elder wizard when he was finally comfortable, head lifting and gaze pining Lucius to the sheets as the teen gave the other a crocodile's smile. "Now, I think that it's past time that you and I have a little talk."