Sebastian's eyes narrowed at him the moment he stepped from the tent and Harry huffed in annoyance. They both disappeared a second later to find a place to talk. There was a forest a few miles away secluded enough it suited their purposes and they both settled; Harry sitting perched in a strong oak tree and Sebastian balanced precariously on the tree across from him. The branch the crow was on swayed under his weight for a moment before stiffening with a bit of demonic energy.
A displeased rasp.
"Well, are you going to lecture me or just stare at me?"
A slight shift of the head followed by the sound of rustling feathers.
"Ugh, of course. Look, I told you I would claim him. He's mine," Harry hissed. "Starting the process a little early isn't going to change anything!"
"It changes everything." The older demon's voice was soft but still full of potent biting steel. "The contract has yet to be reworked between me and the young master but now you have sealed it! I can not change any terms on a contract between two demons and now that he is turning, his essence is no longer that of a human. You have trapped me as a servant for eternity."
The half demon flinched at the simmering rage that twisted through the near whispered words. He hadn't meant to do that!
"Not only that, but as he is now your childe but not mine -as he is my master- our mating is no longer considered equal. As we are inseparable bar death, you have poisoned our very beings with a perverted bond."
Harry gaped, his mouth working soundlessly, words escaping him in his shock. With a herculean effort, he forced sound past his clogged throat, "I-I didn't think-"
"No, you didn't," Sebastian roared shadows devouring all light in the area until they were both encased in a dome of endless void. "You acted like a petulant hatchling because you did not have your way! Because your opinion was not the only one! Our time is now spoiled due to your thoughtless imbecilic irreverent action!"
Harry's shoulders hunched up to his ears, a red flush taking over his face. He… hadn't had someone berate him like this since Snape in the other dimension. Unfortunately, Sebastian was much more effective. His gut was clenching in uncomfortable spasms, his heat sputtering with the weighty lead that settled upon it. His mind was running in circles trying to think of a solution… but his mate was right, he didn't know anything about this. He knew only what Sebastian had taught him and what he'd learned from experience over millennia. Nothing he'd ever done had covered demons contracted to demons.
"I-" The apology caught in his throat. What use was an apology to a demon? Nothing. "I'll find- something… I didn't mean- want- I just-"
He shut his mouth so forcefully his teeth clicked painfully.
Sebastian hadn't moved from his spot, still perched on his branch watching him like a marble statue.
Just as he'd been doing for such a long time, the halfling fled feeling his mate's stare burning into his back.
He ruined everything. Again and again and again. No matter what he did.
His demonic nature corrupted any mortal possessions he tried to keep his humanity curdled his demonic interactions. He couldn't have anything. He was a freak of nature. An abomination.
A frustrated scream echoed around him, bleating back at him in harrowing echoes that rang painfully in his ears. His claws cut through stone like butter, leaving hissing slag in their wake and he screamed again.
He should have nothing. He deserves nothing. It hurt so much less; the suffocating pain of loneliness over the raging agony of loss. You cannot miss what you never had.
Harry was a fool for ever thinking he could possibly keep something, could ever possibly thrive under the illusion of happiness. There was no such thing for an atrocity to the very threads of the universe. Perhaps this was his punishment? For existing? Or bending the Laws? Whatever it was… it was effective.
He probably couldn't even die either which made it so much worse. Especially because as much as he wanted to let go, to start over with no bonds, no matter how much it would destroy him… He couldn't. He'd cling to his rotten ties until all of them were beyond salvation, until all of them were suffering just as much as he. A vicious cycle he would be unable to break.
Another scream and he turned his unsatisfied claws unto himself. The walls were too easy, not gratifying, not enough. Perhaps if he hurt outside it would not hurt so much inside. It had always worked that way before, especially then. So he reached for every bit of skin he could, carving his inner torment for the world to see.
My Beloved One, what hast thou done to thyself?
Harry snarled, his tail lashing out, wings spread threateningly. "Go away," he howled. "Go away!"
Incoherent rage filled his chest (it took away the pain, so easy, so easy), and he lunged, falling through the intangible Being. The sharp cold washed through him like an electric shock and he shrieked as his wounds flared torturously, dropping to his knees.
"I am not!"
And yet, thou argue as one.
The halfling gnashed his teeth and bared his fangs. "I am not a child!"
Then, perhaps, do not act infantile.
Harry took a few deep breaths so he wouldn't lash out again. Within a few seconds his face had smoothed and wings had been pulled tight to his body. His tail still flicked angrily behind him but otherwise he no longer looked angry, even if the fire still raged in his chest.
"Don't patronize me, you utter bastard."
I would not have to if thou wouldst think before acting. To turn thy claws upon thyself is an act I forbid thou from commiting hence. Mine Beloved is precious and should be treated as such.
Harry's lip twitched in disbelief and he couldn't hold back a derisive scoff. "Precious? More like defective."
Death's form spiked, It's presence weighing heavily upon his chest and stealing the air from his lungs.
"Okay," he wheezed. "Okay, I get it! Don't talk bad about myself."
The next breath the halfling sucked in was much warmer and his shoulders sagged in relief. Pissing off a cosmic entity wasn't exactly smart, not that he'd been smart recently. It did do wonders for cooling a hot temper, though. Because he did have a temper, no matter how much he'd wish otherwise. Over the years it has become much easier to control… most likely because he'd basically repressed all emotions but recently it had come back with a vengeance. And just like always it lead Harry into more trouble than he knew what to do with. Impulsive actions were not his friends… but neither was he a master planner. Which was extremely unfortunate considering all of the ties he needed to fix and cut loose.
Hast thou sanity returned to thee?
"As much as it ever will be anyway," Harry muttered, gazing down at his still shredded skin. What in the world was he supposed to do about this? This situation would not fix itself the way his skin was ever so slowly knitting together. Time was not on his side.
Harry turned his attention to Death, his fingers twitching under the agonizing itch of healing.
What troubles thee?
A fang pierced his lip as the halfling gnawed his flesh in thought. He'd been lacking knowledge and that was what caused the whole mess. But… who had more knowledge than a cosmic Being? Could he ask for help? Should he? Would the creature demand anything in return? Could Harry even suck up his pride enough to reach out?
How stupid. Of course he could. He'd been alone for so long that… he thought about everything in those terms. Sure he'd pick some brains for some new knowledge every now and then but overall he was used to doing everything himself. It had been that way since before he'd known about his heritage. Perhaps… he should be thinking more of the 'us' now.
"What do you know about demonic contracts with other demons."
It shifted, It's presence diminishing as it shrunk to settle itself around his shoulders. The contact sent unpleasant tingles into his still open wounds but it was easily ignored.
There exist many Worlds, many nuances. I cannot know everything.
The chimera's heart dropped. What else could he have expected?
To find a World's Secret one must search the Secret Keeper.
"Bloody helpful," he muttered disdainfully. Then grunted in pain when It's claws dug into his chest leaving chilled welts.
Think, Beloved One. Who wouldst know more than The Ruler?
The ruler? Wait. No. It couldn't be that easy? Well… relatively anyway considering he was already going there.
If not Him, then who else?
Honestly, it was an obvious answer in hindsight. He was stupid for not thinking of that damned King before but his thoughts had just been so muddy; weighed down by his own panic and pride. He'd gotten so lost in himself that- Well, Sebastian was right. At the time, only his opinion mattered and while Harry wasn't the youngest demon around he most certainly wasn't the oldest or the most knowledgeable.
He had to fix this but… what else had his mate said? Their very beings were poisoned?
"Death, would you be able to tell if something had changed with me? Like my soul or my body?"
Of course. Thou art dear to me Beloved One. I See all of thee.
He waited a moment but the being said nothing more. He was going to have to push for this wasn't he?
"Then, has anything changed?"
Change is Constant. Flux over Stasis. Without Change nothing continues.
Oh, now It was just being a giant frozen dick.
With quite a bit of tooth grinding, Harry was able to get out, "Please. I. Need. Your... Help."
Anything for My Beloved Ones.
"I- I made a- mistake. I trapped my mate into an unequal bond. He said it would… would- poison our very Selves. Can you see what he spoke of? Can you... help me- prevent any degradation?"
And, oh, how that felt like glass shards flowing up through his throat. He hadn't outright asked for help like this since Hogwarts and his view of that time had become very tainted. But he needed for his loved ones to be safe. No matter his own state of self, they were most important. Death thought otherwise which would most certainly be used to his advantage right now. To ascertain his own health, he would be more accurately able to fix whatever mess he'd caused and possibly circumvent any undue harm before it happened.
Thy Self is safe currently. The poison tis there but tis a drop that shant grow swiftly. Thy meeting with The Fallen will occur far sooner than misfortune couldst arrive.
Immediately, the halfling felt his shoulders relax, his claws receded from the flesh of his palms (when did that happen?), and his head and heart stopped pounding their tormenting rhythm. This could be mended as long as his plans with Lucifer held up. It would certainly be interesting to try to pick the Fallen King's brain but definitely dangerous. He had… Acirema to help him though, didn't he?
Though he hadn't known her long, he did have a slight warmth of fondness for her already and she'd offered to assist him with whatever he needed in Hell. As a spymistress for the King she was also bound to know some interesting knowledge as well. Then there was the training she'd offered… yes, Harry wouldn't mind too much asking for her help. Maybe he could be more subtle about it than with Death. The asshole just wanted to drag it from him, he just knew it.
"…. Thank you."
He sat for a few minutes longer, Death clutching at him possessively as he contemplated his options. First and foremost he needed to speak to his mate to, hopefully, clear up some of the tension between them. He'd probably also have to explain his side of things as well to maybe… possibly get the crow to understand his reasoning.
It was not going to be an easy discussion. He was going to have to dig through his past and shine light on the dark recollections. But… for his loved ones… anything...
With a sigh, Harry swirled his tongue against the roof of his mouth tasting the very oily essence of the True Name he was going to Call. It tingled in his mouth, burning not unlike carbonation, until he let it out into the world, a Summon for it Owner to heed if they wanted.
The hoarse croak of a crow soon followed, echoing up and down the empty tunnels, and Harry knew his mate had heard. Now it just remained to be seen if he'd actually come himself or send his tiny feathered minions. Obviously, he knew which he'd prefer but Sebastian had been quite cross. So, the halfling sat and waited, Death still hovering; refusing to leave. It wasn't ideal for them to meet but it was bound to happen eventually and Death obviously wanted to speak to his mate or It wouldn't be there still.
Harry stood slowly, ignoring the creaking of his flesh splitting in some areas leaking acidic fresh blood that dripped to the stone with tiny sizzles, and turned to the entrance of the cave system he'd sequestered himself in. The demon stood there, face blank, glowing eyes assessing the state of the walls and Harry himself, skipping over Death like the entity didn't exist. It felt cold and empty, empirical, nothing at all like he was used to. Harry knew he deserved it.
"I wanted to talk… I know I made a mistake but I'd like to try to fix it."
Harry grit his fangs to prevent himself from lashing out, though his tail swished irritably behind him lashing against the ground with fizzles of acid. "Yessss, a missstake!I… let my pride overwhelm my logic. I thought I knew best. A childish response- human you could say."
Sebastian stood motionless, silent, and it was slightly unnerving that Harry couldn't read him like he used to be able to.
"I would like to explain… my side of the story. I do not think you will quite understand some of the reasoning behind my actions but perhaps hearing it will…" He paused, letting the silence drag uncomfortably before continuing. "I don't know. I am half human whether you understand what exactly that entails or not, you chose me and I agreed. It cannot excuse all of my actions but-"
"Then speak, Hadrian. You are correct that I cannot understand what stupidity led to this but we gain nothing without communication."
"I think… I need to start from the very beginning…
I grew up completely human. Although, I was always considered less than one in my childhood. Raised as a slave by my own blood relations, I learned to not ask questions. Beaten constantly, I learned to not ask for help. Those are two main rules that followed me as I grew. When I turned eleven human years of age, I learned that I was a part of a hidden society. I was not a freak, I was instead… special.
I thought I could escape, be happy… Hogwarts became my home before it turned into my prison. I made friends, I learned knowledge most could never dream of and, though, the rules seemed to no longer matter, they still followed like dogs biting at my heels. Thinking back on that time is… hard, considering the sordid memories that taint them… memories that I still haven't fully faced to this day. But… hindsight is 20/20- er… well, looking back it is easier to see mistakes than when in the heart of it.
When I still considered the castle of Hogwarts my home, there was a War going on, one that put me as the figurehead due to some bloody prophecy that probably never actually existed in the first place considering how it came about… and how direct it was… and-"
Harry stopped and sucked in a harsh breath as his tail wrapped around his leg, the tip resting lightly in the bend of the hock. Death loomed, almost comfortingly, over his shoulders but still remained silent and unseen by red eyes. He was trying to summarize without going on a bitter rant.
Sebastian was still staring at him but his stance had slightly relaxed and, despite his still inscrutable face, his body language was more open. That was a good sign, a very good sign. It was enough for the halfling to let out his breath and continue softly, "I was teenager shouldering the weight of thousands of lives, bearing the responsibility when I should not have had to. But they made me feel like I belonged… or that if I could not belong there, then I could not belong anywhere. There were a lot of mistakes I could have avoided in the past but the rules...the rules I thought I had left at my blood relations were still there, silently choking me. Don't ask questions, don't ask for help. Though I have mostly worked past them, I still suffer from them to this day.
I was never very good at controlling my emotions. Instead I repressed them until they boiled over like a kettle and I practically exploded. It's been a common theme in my life, my temper. It was what caused my transformation in the first place…"
"Harry what's that you're reading?"
Hermione's inquisitive features popped over the side of the Gryffindor common room couch. He tried to tuck it away but her greedy hands pulled the journal from his grip.
The raven haired wizard stood quickly and tried to get his mother's journal back. If she read that… "Mione, that was my mother's give it back!"
She paused looking guilty, book held above her head. "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry. You know I didn't mean- Here." She handed it back and the wizard took it gratefully. "So, is there anything interesting that your mother wrote."
Harry sighed. Nothing could keep her curiosity at bay. "It just talks about her family life mostly. She met Snape when she was young, before Hogwarts actually. I mean, I knew that from his memories but the information coming from my own mother just makes it so much more…more…"
"Yea, that thanks," he chuckled.
"Anytime Harry! It's what I'm here for, right?" There was bitterness in her voice that he had never heard before. Looking at his friend sharply, he asked if she was okay. A small smile crossed her features before it melted away into something sad.
"You know, I thought I loved Ron, Harry, but lately he's just been so overbearing. Yesterday I was talking to Neville on the properties of the new plant that he discovered on the battleground in front of Hogwarts. When Ron came Neville was polite and friendly but… Ron, he lashed out and left poor Neville with a black eye. Said I wasn't allowed to hang out with other guys. I was his girl and no one else's. It's only gotten worse and I don't know what caused it! If he knew I was here at Hogwarts today and not at the burrow in his room I'm afraid he would beat me Harry, I really am."
Harry was gobsmacked. He knew nothing of this. "Why didn't you say something earlier Mione?"
"I would have but I never got the chance to. Today was the only day I could sneak out of the house-"
There was a great woosh from the fireplace and Ron (everyone that was helping to rebuild the castle had been allowed into the floo system) stormed into the common room. He swung his head around like a giant bull looking for something to skewer and his eyes landed on the now cowering Hermione.
"There you are!"
The two other builders in the room paused. Harry took a step in front of his friend blocking her from view. Hermione had always been closer to him and he had no qualms going up against Ron to protect her. That looked to be exactly what he would have to do as the gangly redhead charged forward in a rage. Harry knew he wasn't as heavily muscled as his friend but he could still hold his own with speed. The ravenette pulled Hermione and himself out of the line of fire just in time and Ron went crashing into a table. It didn't keep him down for long, though.
The green eyed wizard pulled his wand but wasn't able to complete a spell before the taller male plowed him into the floor. His head crashed onto the stone floor with a loud smack and his hand reacted by loosening his fingers allowing his wand to slip from his grasp. Harry barely had any time to recover before a freckled hand sent his head snapping the other way. A few more punches and his face felt like it was going to collapse inwards. Dimly, Harry could make out screaming and someone tugging on Ron. Apparently they succeeded in their task because he couldn't feel any more weight crushing him.
With great effort he opened his eyes to see the only three other people in the room (Hermione, Seamus, and Padma) restraining the rampaging man. Ron was able to get one hand free and he sent Hermione flying with a backhand to the face.
That was the last straw. Something inside of Harry snapped, a burning that ate away at his chest and spread throughout his body. At that moment and he felt his bones shift painfully and his flesh knit itself back together. The black haired boy didn't know how he looked at the moment but from everyone's faces it was terrifying. That didn't matter, though. His instincts were calling for Ron's blood and he wasn't going to deny himself the pleasure. He surged across the room and tore the redhead limb from limb. Blood flew and his inner beast sang.
A few minutes later as he was licking his claws clean he registered the sound of sobs and sniffles coming from the corner and he glanced over to see Hermione curled in a tight ball. Seamus and Padma were nowhere to be found, and had probably fled when he attacked Weasley. He gave a low questioning whine and her head shot up in fright.
"Hermione?" His voice was somewhat distorted and it was sort of hard to talk with all the sharp teeth in his mouth but he wasn't going to let that deter him. He took a step forward and she curled in on herself even more. This time his voice was more of a whimper, "Mione?"
"Harry?" The question was so low he would have missed it if it wasn't for his newfound sense of hearing. He nodded.
She slowly and shakily stood. Then she hobbled over and hesitantly touched his face. A small purring started in his chest and she giggled lightly. There was a momentary pause before she threw herself in his arms.
"What happened to you, Harry?"
"This… This came from my mother I think. In her journals she wrote that she was from another dimension where demons existed."
A small gasp escaped her but she didn't try to pull away. Instead she only deepened her grip whispering 'Oh, Harry!'. They stayed that way for a full two minutes before the portrait was thrown open and people streamed in. Harry looked up in alarm when he felt the hostile energies gathering aimed at him. He quickly pushed Hermione away before about twenty full force stunners knocked him out.
The next time he awoke they put the brand on his hand.
"That was the beginning of the end…"
AN: Hey look! A familiar deleted scene, slightly modified and thrown back into the story! (For those of you who have read this before the modifications, how many will recognize the scene? XD I'm quite fond of it, that's why I threw it back in there!) And also a slightly longer than normal chapter yay!
Harry is definitely struggling between just blurting out his horrible history and throw mounds of salt in there with it, and trying to succinctly summarize the important parts that deal with why he is the way he is today. Poor emotional bean. Don't emotions just suck and ruin everything? :D
Anyway! Tell me what ya'll think? I live for your reviews!