Embracing His True Self

Chapter 114

"My Lord," Severus inclined his head respectfully, as he came through to their isle with the use of a Portkey. Unable to stop himself looking around with interest, he'd seen nothing like it before. The heat was very uncomfortable though, he was wearing black. A twitch of his finger, and cooling charms unfurled around his clothes and body, enabling him to remain comfort without the heat of the sun affecting him.

"My Lords!" Barty said, looking a tad bit too manic.

"How many coffees have you had this morning?" Harry said, staring at Barty in amusement.

"Not many," Barty said, shrugging his shoulder. "Maybe five or six."

"Okay, why?" Harry asked perplexed.

"I've been looking into what sort of qualifications I'd need to teach at Hogwarts." Barty confessed, rather abashed. Why shouldn't he be? Confessing this in front of a wizard he saw as a father, and one he liked as a close friend and companion, and then there was Severus.

"Is that a…" Severus trailed off, eyes going wide in reverence, "Impossible…" he murmured, making his way over the grassy area treading very carefully to ensure he didn't step on anything that might be important. Although, he was displeased that the sand was already beginning to accumulate in his shoes.

"Told you," Harry said smugly, "Although, I do wonder what he's seeing," giving a squint, he was good at potions, but knew how to create far more than he could say what ingredient was what – especially when it came to the rare selection – by rare he meant impossible to find.

"An extremely endangered herb," Severus murmured, clearly paying attention and hearing what they were discussing despite his distracted state. Which was a practiced place to be, he was responsible for a lot of students and any single action could cause an explosion. He needed to have eyes at the back of his head to watch them all. "Before today I would have said they were extinct."

"That's the word I was trying to think about!" Harry blurted out, shaking his head in annoyance with himself.

Severus just gave the boy he considered his son an amused look.

"Is it useful?" Voldemort questioned, he hadn't…continued to hone his abilities when it came to potions. He didn't need to after all he had the best of the best working for him. That's not to say he wasn't good at his work, because he was, he just wasn't as good as Severus apparently, since that plant or herb meant nothing to him.

"How long will you be in further education to get a job at Hogwarts?" Harry asked, watching as Severus approached the group with a select cutting – a very carefully selected cutting – luckily, he knew plants and herbs as well as potion ingredients. "Three or four years?"

"You don't technically have to be a Master in the subject," Severus refuted, "Only four of us professors during your years at Hogwarts held Masters."

"Sprout, McGonagall, Flitwick and you…I guess?" Harry easily deduced.

Severus nodded.

"Hmm, I always thought the Ancient Runes professor had a Mastery, and a few of the other professors of classes I didn't take." Harry confided, scratching his neck absently. He'd wrongly assumed they all had strong qualifications to work as a professor. All the teachers in the Muggle world needed them. Then again, he cared about Severus, but Professor Snape? He could go without. He was a Potions master but a shitty professor.

"There was a time where each professor would have had to acquire the highest degree possible before being allowed in a classroom at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, it all went down hill when Dumbledore was hired." Severus said with a rueful shake of the head.

"Indeed, even the flying instructor had to have experience in child care, take extra classes to combat everything up to and including being an expert spell worker for tardus ruinam," Voldemort confessed thoughtfully, "If I recall correctly, the last decent professor for the flying instructor class was a retired professional player, until Dumbledore brought in someone far less costly."

"Lucius says Abraxas loathed Dumbledore for that slight in particular. He had very much liked him and was convinced he'd have been a 'star player' if he'd remained." Severus chuffed; Lucius had gone on about it often enough. The Malfoy's do love to complain, it couldn't be denied.

"What do you want to teach anyway?" Harry asked Barty, rummaging around in the bag the picnic food was still in and bringing it out. Opening the lid, he offered the others to take some, it was a round plastic tub of a lot of different nuts. The nuts were all different named and mixed in with different tastes, like salt and honey roast.

"History actually, even though I do love everything to do wish science." Barty confessed, stiff as if he was just waiting on condemnation or judgement. Neither were given to the wizard, after all, they knew Barty best of all, with only Hermione missing in the group.

"Can't say I'm surprised, so are you heading for a Mastery or going to apply for the job?" Harry asked, considering the likes of who Dumbledore had let into Hogwarts it wasn't going to be difficult.

"Wait, that's it?" Barty blurted out, plucking a few of the nuts out before Harry closed it and shoved it inside his bag again, before raking around for something else. He brought it out with a note of triumphant.

"What are you expecting?" Harry said, opening the box, and snacking on the crisps, after last night he found himself utterly starving. Offering the others something to eat, its what happens when you don't have a real dinner, supper or breakfast. They had been rather busy. Then after that it took ages to get the sand out of…well everywhere. "Everyone knows you love history, defence and science, you're a Ravenclaw." he added teasingly. Barty had been ribbed too many times that it had begun to get to him, either that or it was still an after affect of Azkaban.

"Hermione said the same thing," Barty said wryly.

"So, what are you doing then? Going for the Mastery then teaching?" Harry queried, genuinely curious, barely noticing Tom and Severus moving off to investigate more of the area. Sitting down, not having any desire to stand if they were going to be here for a while longer. Not that he minded, because he truly didn't.

"I'm contemplating the idea of both," Barty said, brow furrowing, "Just not sure if I could do it." He wasn't young anymore, and he didn't remember things the way he used to either.

"It is a lot to take on," Harry agreed, a thoughtful look on his face, "Hermione would never let you fail, she'll be with you the entire way, writing out schedules for you so every second of your time is accounted for including how much you'll sleep." Smothering a snigger at the thought, and he knew it was true, Hermione had done the same to them or attempted to at any rate. However, Ronald Weasley was never one to be woken easily.

A besotted smile appeared on his face, "This is true," she had his back, one hundred percent of the way. Nobody since his mother had loved him so ferociously. He hadn't appreciated it while he had it, had her. He'd been too desperate to seek his father's approval, then his mother got sick, and he got mad. No, he wasn't going to think about it, he couldn't.

"Why did you both come here anyway?" Harry cocked his head to the side; they weren't stupid they likely had a good idea where he and Tom had gone. Everyone high up will have known, and the only reason they weren't there is because they could take care of themselves and no enemy could possibly find them.

"Oh, there's an exotic bird in your bedroom, and we're attending the celebratory luncheon. You haven't forgotten, have you?" Barty pointed out.

"What luncheon?" Harry asked, his left side of his mouth raised, confused. Sirius and Remus must have sent a gift again. He felt closer to them now than he ever had, why? Why was this the case when they were so far away from him? Perhaps it was the chance they needed in order to heal.

"Daphne's celebratory luncheon, she passed her apprentice, she's Healer Greengrass now." Barty commented, "She specialised in blood curses with the curse on her own family nobody could blame the fascination."

"I had no idea there was a celebration," Harry said, shrugging, "Guess I wasn't invited." And he wasn't hurt, he didn't get on with all the Slytherin's and he didn't really interact with Daphne in any capacity. He knew her sister a little better, but not by much. He had his group he liked, Marcus, Terrance and the others all mostly older than himself.

"No surprise, they're close to the Malfoy's," Barty conceded. "But the Malfoy's should be the ones that want to offend you the least by not inviting you."

"She invited me and my plus one," Voldemort refuted, as Severus proceeded to put a dozen jars into his cloak pocket. "I said we would attempt to make it, it's entirely up to you whether we go or not." He cared not for the Greengrass family, they claimed 'neutrality' but were secretly believers, and that made them cowards to me. They might have some use to him as Healers, if required, but not always.

Harry snorted, "You'd rather spend the afternoon with Muggles!" what could Harry say, he knew his bonded well.

Voldemort's lips twitched, "Not entirely accurate, they're tolerable." Amusement thrumming through the bond, revealing the true extent of his amusement. "I'd prefer spending time with Dumbledore over Muggles." Looking as if something rather smelly was stuck under his nose. That and the Greengrass family were well known, he could always use new contacts, so it was worthwhile attending for sure.

"May I stay here to investigate the isle more?" Severus asked the Dark Lord; the desire was written all over his dark eyes gleaming with sheer delight and happiness. The desire to investigate everywhere here was a rather exciting endeavour and it isn't a feeling Severus experienced a whole lot in his life.

"I don't know, I mean with this weather, you might come back looking peeling and red raw," Harry teased, "Are there more plants?"

"It's highly likely, it will take days maybe a week to scour the isle in it's entirety," Tom replied, "And there is the fact you'd need a map to return to the area." Pointing out the obvious, it was easy to make a real time map, as he worked without a doubt.

"You had intended on doing that anyway," Harry pointed out, it had been something Tom muttered just half an hour ago.

"Bring Rabastan with you, and everything you'll need for the next few days, including a tent and perhaps plenty of shade." Voldemort ordered him, as if Severus hadn't requested permission.

"Turn it into a holiday, I mean when was the last time you had one?" Harry pointed out.

Severus stared at both of them, a little dazed, he knew what Holidays were, Lily had gone on plenty holidays. "I've never actually been on one." Not even a weekend away. He'd worked so hard day and night to pass his Mastery, then before long he was working exclusively for the Dark Lord then serving two masters. Then he had Dumbledore pulling the strings like he was naught like a puppet on a string, a marionette instead of wizard. Well, no longer, he was free, and he still hadn't really realized this.

Perhaps the holiday would do him a world of good. Holidays seem to do that, although, none were quite as long as Sirius and Remus' holiday. Although, he had all but forced them to go, they'd needed it. He wondered if it would have the same affect with Severus. Harry shared a commiserating smile with Severus, understanding what it was like all too well. He'd never ever gone on holiday with the Dursley's. Hell, he was eleven before he even went on a trip with the Dursleys, to the damn zoo of all things. He could feel Tom's understanding as well, despite the fact his face basically screamed uninterested.

"Same," Harry said, "At least it gets you out of attending the luncheon."

"What makes you believe I'm even invited?" Severus asked staring blankly.

Harry chuckled, "Seriously? You care about your 'snakes' and they damn well know it; they'd invite you even if they know you wouldn't turn up. If only so that you know they're thinking about you." Slytherins for you though, they always liked actions and acts rather than verbally saying anything.

Severus smirked, "Indeed," rather foolish of him thinking Harry wouldn't know how Slytherin worked completely, despite never actually being in that house. He had far more Slytherin tendencies than all his Slytherins combined. "I'll leave the gift I got for her in the Dark Lord's office, would you be willing to take it with you and give my apologies?"

"Sure," Harry replied, and if Tom had no intentions of going, he'd just pop by and give the gift and explain. Daphne wasn't one of the worst girls he'd spoken to really, much better than Pansy, Merlin her voice was just awful.

"Excuse me." With that he left, he wasn't going to wait for social etiquette to be observed.

"Was that what you were contemplating so hard about? What you said you'd tell me in your letter?" Harry asked Barty as they began walking instead to the exit to use the Portkey than just Apparate.

"Oh, yeah, I mentioned it didn't I? I added that hastily after mine and Hermione's conversation," Barty said, glancing down when he felt something rather hard underfoot. A shell, he realized, seeing it poking through the sand. He had no desire to pick it up, although he did contemplate taking it back to Hermione but nixed it, she was busy enough as it was.

"How is she?" Harry asked, they may have made up, become friends again, but being an adult and real life can cause distances unintentionally. They'd never be the friends they had been before, but this new friendship might see them better than the friends they'd been at some point.

"Driving me mental," Barty said, but it was clear he didn't fully mean it. "Didn't think that was possible without a curse." He added ruefully.

Voldemort rolled his eyes in utter disinterest, although he was slightly curious as to the child they could have. A Muggle-born and a pureblood father from quite a few lines…Black included. Could it bring out the Metamorphamagus abilities? Then again, considering the potion Barty had taken for this second life, it was conceivable the potion might enable it. There would regretfully, no way of truly telling. Considering their intelligence, the child should be smarter than the usual ilk. Presuming they'd have a child, considering all he'd heard he assumed it was something they wanted in future.

Harry opened his mouth but before he could get a word out, Barty stated "Don't, just don't." having a pretty good idea what his Lord would have to say.

"What?" Harry protested, but he had a big shit eating grin on his face.

"We are here," Voldemort cut off whatever was going to go down with those two. They were like a pair of siblings constantly trying to one up one another. It's likely the only reason Barty was still alive to begin with, he hadn't exactly been stable but he'd seen their relationship for what it was.

It took a few seconds and they were home, in Slytherin estate.

Not that either of them remained there long.

Barty went to pick up Hermione for the Luncheon and Harry picked up the two gifts, one for him and Severus' which was where he said it would be.

"If you're too busy I'll just drop off the gifts," Harry suggested, knowing Tom really did have a lot on his plate, as he knew he did. It was a surprise he had cleared off his schedule for as long as he did.

Tom chuckled, "You're not getting out of it that easily," amused by how transparent his partner was. "You normally enjoy meeting up with the others, why is it a problem today?" was yesterday not enough time? They could go elsewhere with the use of a time-turner, somewhere touristy, give him a slice of the life he'd never had? They'd plan for other holidays; he could give Harry what he wanted and accomplish what they desired too.

"You can't think of why? Sitting drinking tea and tiny cut up cucumber sandwiches?" giving Tom a look of utter disbelief.

"What gave you the impression it would be like that?" Voldemort asked, arching a brow more disbelieving than perplexed. Had Barty been giving Harry false information on what would happen during the celebratory lunch?

"Well, isn't it?" Harry's brow wrinkled in thought, they specifically used the word luncheon, he could remember all the times Petunia had done it. He really would prefer to be elsewhere, but if this was a good way to get to talk to the others for a bit, he'd take it.

"Not at all, its merely called a celebratory luncheon because it starts in the afternoon." Voldemort explained, "Parties when not for children, are always in the evening."

"So, the luncheon?" Harry questioned, guggling both gifts never quite taking his gaze away from Tom.

"Is party, it will go on well into the evening for those closest to Healer Greengrass." Voldemort declared.

Harry perked up hearing that, "Nice," he murmured, a bit more chirper at the prospect.

Voldemort stood up, and took one of the gifts, it was time for them to depart.

The duo made short work of going through the Floo, and came out at the other end. Harry couldn't help but admire the structure, the pillars, the gleaming marble floor, the tapestries depicting all manners of battles, and most of all the depictions were young witches, nine times out of ten never old. The blood curse, which clearly Daphne intended to investigate. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

"There have been a dozen healers in the Greengrass family," Voldemort explained as Harry investigated the tapestries with great attention. "All of them determined to be the one to change the families curse and live past their doomed expiration date." It was why they didn't have a cousin branch, it had long since been snuffed out, who would want a child they'd doom to die young? No, they'd refused to have children and the last of the cousin Greengrass line had died without a husband or child.

"Nasty thing to do," Harry said quietly, "Would have been kinder to kill whoever they were pissed at." As always it was the innocent that paid the dues of the guilty.

"The point wasn't to be kinder," Voldemort said, a hint of admiration shining through, "It's not very often that curses can fool modern magical abilities. However, this one seems to have endured for over ten generations and counting."

"Ten?" surprised too dear that.

"Oh yes, even neutral healers cannot remove the curse," Voldemort answered, "They'd tried everything to save the lives of their loved ones to no success."

"Other languages?" Harry questioned.

"Undoubtedly." Voldemort replied.

"Even snake speakers? It may well be something in Parselscript." Harry suggested, "They're stronger than any other magic."

Voldemort opened his mouth, but whatever he was going to say was lost when someone spoke.

"My Lords, I've been asked to get word to you immediately…" the wizard in question skidded in front of them before kneeling quickly.

Harry didn't recognise him; he didn't think he'd interacted with him at all. Then again, a lot of them were foot soldiers – Tom's name not his – that were not important enough to memorise their names since that sort of recognition was earned.

"Speak," Voldemort stated sharply at Gibbon who was still on the floor.

"Luna is in labour My Lords." He didn't dare add you must come at once that Rodolphus had ordered him to say through the Floo.

A/N – I've did it again, I know, I mean I have no clue who is left for me to make this 'final battle' happen. The entire order is finished, I've read all my notes but I can't seem to find any recent ones! All my documents are useless too! Where on earth did I go wrong in this story? OMG gah! I had all these ideas finally for this story, and I can't seem to cobble anything together, I must be missing a document, or paper or something I'm sure I must have written it down and nothing in the A/N is helping me either which is highly unusual *shrug* what can you do? Nothing beats giving it a re-read and coming back with better ideas eh! 😉 I even have a plot point for Ron going around the chess circuit! Which I clearly can't have had happened…not in this one anyway I must have used it for a different story…I think. So, yeah, it's all messed up and I still cannot think of a single person to use for the Order attack.

If you feel like the chapter was dragging it likely was a little bit, but we're on the last arc as you all now know so a lot is just continuation until it hits THE END :) I need to re-read the story over the course of the next few days and find all the bloody stuff I had written, I swear I had it written down somewhere clearly its not in my documents. I usually do it because I've got a habit of forgetting things I think I had the entire ending plotted out to the last…the last of the 'order' written out on what could be the 'final battle' so to speak. Oh I really hope I did write it down because I loved the idea of it I can remember that much! 😊 ugh if I can't remember then I'll just need to figure out a new one. It will be fun re-reading an old story 😊 R&R please