2. Chapter Two
Harry dropped the coins on the counter with a clatter. "Keep the change." He secured his hood more firmly around his head before picking up the small cup of soup.
The server behind the counter expressed his deep thanks of gratitude. Harry gave a half grimace, half grin as he watched the soup chef scrap the coins off the counter with trembling fingers.
Harry was used to poverty. He lived in constant poverty. Jumping from era to era didn't necessarily mean he could drag along his vault of gold with him. Each time he woke up, he needed to start over, as there was nothing in his possession, save for the Invisibility Cloak, Resurrection Stone, and the Elder Wand.
The windows of the soup kitchen were foggy and cracked and the silver instruments were beginning to tarnish. It was a surprise this man got business, but then again, the East End of London lived in poverty and crime. A soup kitchen like this must be luxurious to some of the inhabitants of London. Harry was just lucky he had a job this time around, even if it didn't pay a comfortable amount. He'd arrived in this timeline three months ago. He'd gone hungry the first week and could barely find scraps for the second week.
"Y-you forgot your roll, young sir."
Turning back around, Harry gathered the palm-sized bread, noticing it was stale but still edible. He nodded his thanks to the chef and turned to the streets of the East End. Many men, women, and children were huddled against the alleyways, taking shelter in crates and small make-shift tents. A few fires were lit in barrels, housing countless of people who hoped to ward off the early spring chill.
Harry walked silently down the street, sipping at his chicken broth. He was well aware of the eyes following him from the depths of the shadows, though he wasn't too concerned. He knew the demon had been following him the past two days, never revealing himself and never slipping. Harry didn't know what the creature wanted, though, he expected it had something to do with his delectable soul and the taunting he had given the demon that night in his dressing room.
Either that, or Sebastian was performing surveillance on behalf of his master. They were probably still suspicious of him despite his rather obvious reassurances that he had nothing to do with the killings.
No matter what the demon's purpose was, Harry felt more prepared to meet this new threat. He'd gone to the Wizarding public library the night of their first encounter. The first thing he looked up was the contract between humans and demons.
He'd been right. There was a contract between Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian. There was no other way a demon would address a human as 'young master' and serve as a human butler.
It was called a Faustian Contract, a simple bargain made between human and demon. The human would simply request what he desired from the demon, and in return, the demon had the right to consume the human's soul after the specified deeds were completed. The Faustian Contract was sealed by a mark. Somewhere, both Ciel and Sebastian bore the seal of their contract. The mark would also serve the purpose of a locator in which the demon would always be able to locate his human wherever he may be.
When Harry had read the details of the Contract, he wondered what Ciel had bargained for in exchange for his soul. What had been so important to a mere child? Harry imagined it could be anything from protection to power. Ciel was trying to take over where his parents had left off; he was trying to be a capable replacement. It would certainly explain the demon's influence and the Contract.
After reading about the Faustian Contract, Harry had then looked up protection and wards against demons. There hadn't been anything that would successfully ward off demons, but there had been a rune that would deflect any sort of physical contact with a demon. While Harry could use magic to defend himself against demons, he would be powerless against a demon if it came to physical combat. Because of that, Harry had transfigured a piece of metal into the Celtic rune and had placed it on a chain around his neck.
In all actuality, he didn't intend to interact with Ciel or Sebastian again. But because Sebastian had made another move, Harry would know his enemies and act accordingly.
Brooding, Harry acted oblivious to his permanent shadow as he swept down the dark cobblestone streets. As he balanced on the edge of the sidewalk, Harry passed an especially dark alleyway and heard a light sniffle. He paused, slowly turning around to stare at the small figure curled up against the side of a building.
She couldn't have been older than twenty-five, only a handful of years older than Harry's physical body. Her brown hair and wide brown eyes reminded him vividly of Hermione.
Harry's gut wrenched painfully and he turned his back on her freezing figure, grinding his teeth together. After all these bloody years… he still thought of them. He was simply pathetic.
Seeing this woman, an almost mirror-image of Hermione, reminded him of what he had discovered today. While he had been at the Wizarding library, Harry had stumbled across something extremely unnerving.
"May I ask if there is a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard available?" Harry inquired the clerk at the desk.
The witch gave him a quizzical look. "I'm sorry; I don't think there is a book of that title published."
Harry stared. For the first time since his timeline jumping, he began to grow panicky. "It's a children's book, full of tales… including the Tale of the Three Brothers. Surely you must have heard of it. You must be a Muggle-born, then. Please, just check. It was written by Beedle the Bard in the 15th century, around 1490."
Her eyes grew half-lidded in irritation. "I'm a pure-blood witch, thank you very much. I have heard of no such story." She leered at him, leaning across the desk. "Are you sure you're not a Muggle-born, child?"
She had refused to help him further. And as Harry had walked out of the library, he could have sworn he had heard Death's ominous chuckle follow at his heels.
The eras he had lived in before had been met with dead ends regarding his research. He had begun not caring. But this was 1889, one of the first eras Harry was active enough to pursue the publication of Beedle the Bard's book. The other eras he had lived in had been before the 15th century, before the publication of the Tale of the Three Brothers. During those eras, he had tried looking for his ancestors, but never found any.
He had shrugged it off, thinking they must have had different surnames by that time and too buried for him to track down. It never occurred to him that there was an ulterior meaning behind his empty-handed results.
Despite all the dead ends, Harry still had one plan to get himself out of this eternal life. If he found an ancestor who had possession of an Invisibility Cloak, or anyone who had possession of a Hallow before him, then he could brainstorm a way out of this.
But today proved that Death may have played around with more than just timelines. What if Death had erased the Hallows' past? What if there were no three brothers? Or what if Harry was forced to wake up in alternative universes that had no Hallows? And if that were the case, then Harry was struck with the cold realization that he could never escape this. He had tried to come to terms with this long ago, and he'd thought he had, but he had never imagined Death could be so powerful that he could erase the Hallows and their past.
Pushing away what little anxiety he had, Harry turned back around, slowly approaching the freezing young woman. The cold spring air was effectively turning her toes blue from the lack of stockings and shoes. Her thin arms were wrapped around her drawn-up legs and her frail body was trembling madly.
Crouching down in front of her, Harry slid the soup and roll toward her. She roused from her reverie and stared at the food offerings before looking up at him. The first warning Harry acknowledged was the total awareness of this woman's eyes. Homeless women did not have the look of a sharp predator. The second warning Harry received was the slight twitching of her lips.
"What? No warming charm, sweetie?"
She attacked then, giving a cry of wild hunger. Her wand came springing forward between her fingers, somehow hiding up her thin sleeve. The malicious smile on her face indicated that she would target him viciously and she would not miss. She was a mixture of a determined Hermione and a sinful Bellatrix Lestrange.
Harry watched, a cool calm to her passionate rage. He had lived too long as a war wizard to wear his adrenaline on his face and let it control him. Of course, that didn't mean he didn't enjoy a good duel. It was so much more fun to duel when he wasn't an awkward schoolboy wizard. Spells and curses came to him naturally and quickly, especially when he had possession of the Elder Wand. Nonverbal and powerful was his usual style.
He already had his wand out before she had lunged. Her talon-like fingernails just barely caressed his cheek before Harry blasted her against the wall. A sickening crack snapped through the dark and quiet alleyway as she slid down to the ground, lifeless. Harry stood up calmly, staring blankly at the woman at his feet.
"If you didn't want the food, you could have simply said so," he murmured softly, brushing off the dust that settled on the front of his cloak.
Bowing his head, Harry's shoulders stiffened when he felt the presence of others. Of course the girl was just the appetizer.
He pivoted slowly on his foot, eyeing the three cloaked wizards approaching him from the mouth of the alleyway. They wore black masks that seemed to blend in with their deep, hooded cloaks. Harry drank in the sight greedily. This was exactly what he had been expecting. It was exactly what he wanted. Somehow, his magic shows had drawn the attention of his Dark Lord and the man was sending out his followers to scope him out.
Harry just needed to prove that he was a solo threat. The Dark Lord would either approach Harry himself or he would try to lure him into his own circle of followers. And in order for that to happen, there needed to be at least one wizard left alive. He couldn't kill all of them.
"Nothing but a mere child…" one of the cloaked figures murmured in displeasure.
Something ignited inside of Harry, pushing past decades of jadedness and quiet isolation. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed battles. "Child?" Harry repeated dubiously.
He aimed his wand at the trio of wizards before giving it a sharp flick. The jet of magic soared directly above one man's shoulder, barely skimming it. He watched, amused, as the three wizards lowered in defensive stances, looking over their shoulders at the lost curse.
"You missed!" One man laughed heartily, pointing his wand at a cornered Harry.
"Did I?" Harry wondered. He matched the man's tone easily and even offered a jolly chuckle at the end.
He crouched down low, eagerly watching the scene unfold. The wizards clearly sensed something was amiss and turned to look over their shoulders. The street lamp that was anchored on the sidewalk was cut cleanly in half from Harry's curse. With a groan, it began descending down on top of them.
The trio of wizards scattered just in time and Harry Disapparated, appearing on the top of the building. He looped his wand in a tight circle, pitching it in a high arc above his head before he cast the string of magic down toward his victim.
The glowing whip-like curse curled around the unsuspecting wizard's throat in possessive glee. Harry sniffed in amusement, pulling his arm back and yanking the curse and the man off the ground. The wizard gave a muffled cry as he was lifted off the sidewalk by his neck. As he ascended upward by Harry's curse, his neck dislocated, killing him in a matter of seconds. The two wizards left standing quickly severed Harry's rope-curse just seconds too late.
Jaded green eyes, now alight with something akin to dark enjoyment, watched as the dead wizard was detached from his curse before dropping heavily to the ground. The two remaining wizards craned their necks back to look up at Harry. The 'younger' wizard balanced his heels on the edge of the building's roof and peered down at them.
"Is that really all you have?" Harry inquired, bored. Was this going to be another quick era? Had these followers really avoided detection from the Aurors?
Granted, the Ministry was created in 1629, and it wasn't quite as established now, in 1889, as it was in the late1990's, but so far, these threatening wizards were lacking. Then again, Harry knew the dangers involved in underestimating one's enemy. These men saw him as a mere teenager, a child, and hadn't prepared themselves as accordingly as they should have.
Harry needed to do the same and prepare for the worse.
A jet of red warmed Harry's ear as it whizzed past. He blinked, sidestepping another curse as it flew in his direction. His adrenaline spiked as one of the men below disappeared and Apparated on the roof behind him. A grin tugged at his lips as he pivoted on the ledge, blocking another hex coming from the ground. He just barely transferred his shield to his right where the second wizard was approaching, attacking with wild vigor. This simply wouldn't do. It was better, but he was still bored.
With feline grace, Harry leaped backwards and off the roof. His hood tugged down and his hair was a destructive whirlwind as he let gravity take its course. Flicking his wand smartly, he sent a hex above him just as the wizard peeked over the edge. The cloaked figure gave a shout as his mask took the hit, but he was able to block it enough to remain unharmed. Harry flung his arms out in exhilaration, giving a true laugh as he fell.
Just before the wizard on the ground could inflict any damage to his falling body, Harry pressed his toes into the side of the building and pushed. Wrapping his magic around himself, Harry's body became weightless and he began flying. It took him many years to teach himself the art of flying. He had always remembered how Voldemort and a few of his Death Eaters were able to fly. If those brainless idiots could pick up the ability, Harry thought he could do it just as simply.
Only, it hadn't been that easy. There was a major difference between Apparating and flying. Harry had sustained a few broken bones and a few ruptured organs before he got the knack for it. When he perfected his ability, Harry thought the sensation easily triumphed riding on a broomstick.
His figure was a mere blur as he shot past the Muggles in the alleyways. They made noises of surprise and fright as their fires flickered and extinguished. Not seconds later, two other strong currents of wind flew past them, upsetting them further. Harry glanced back, surprised and envious that at least one of his pursuers was able to fly. The other was Apparating from rooftop to rooftop in hopes of keeping Harry and his comrade in his sight.
Harry chuckled, soaring past the Muggle homes and buildings. He reduced his speed when they reached an area where trees were growing thicker and buildings were becoming sparse. As expected, the masked wizard matched Harry's speed and began firing curses one after the other. One of the hexes burned hotly across his shoulder and Harry's stomach lurched in nausea as the pain seared. He looped around his attacker, grabbing the wizard's arm, tipping them both unevenly.
"Who are you?" Harry murmured underneath his breath. "Who are you working for?"
"I can ask the same!" the man spat.
They entwined around each other, hardly paying attention to their surroundings as they flew. The cloaked figure tried to ward off Harry's reaching grasp and was able to curl his hand around the thin wrist to stop him. Harry smiled widely, having expected that move. With his free hand, he pressed the tip of his wand underneath the man's mask and flicked upward. The black material came off easily, revealing a pale man with even paler features.
It looked remarkably like Lucius Malfoy, but there were subtle differences that firmly debunked Harry's wild surprise. The eyes were dark blue and the hair wasn't as blond.
Before he could retain anything further, Harry happened to glance up and finally take note of his surroundings. His eyes widened comically when he spotted the large tree standing directly in his path. Both he and the Malfoy-look-alike gave a shout and parted, unable to avoid getting nicked by the branches.
It was a simple brush with the branches, but at the speed Harry was going, it caused a major crash landing. The world spun as he toppled rapidly from the air, spinning and summersaulting before finally hitting the ground. The air was knocked out of him and it took a good minute to get oxygen back in his lungs.
When he was able to breathe, he was overcome with searing pain. Harry gave a chuckle and a cry as he looked down, staring at the dagger imbedded in his stomach. They weren't incompetent after all. The Malfoy-look-alike must have gotten him right before they parted. Perhaps it was Harry who had underestimated them.
Then again, this wasn't a normal dagger. Harry frowned deeply, staring at the object in his stomach. It wasn't a dagger, no; this was a lot smaller and thinner. Was this… was this a cutlery knife?
"He is human after all," a voice jeered from above him. "That is certainly unusual for our circumstance."
Harry hissed beneath his breath, jerking his chin up to stare at the tree. He grimaced when he saw him, the demon. Sebastian was currently crouching on a branch with knives poised and glimmering between his fingers. He was peering down at Harry with narrowed and amused eyes. Though, the demon's humor fell prey to curious concern as Harry choked on blood.
"For our circumstance?" Harry repeated with a whisper, spitting out blood-stained saliva. "What the bloody hell are you on about? Are you trying to kill me? With silverware?" What a way to go… He thought dying of Dragon Pox had been humiliating, but dying of silverware was twice that.
"It was merely an experiment," came the hushed reply.
Before Harry could reprimand the demon further, a branch snapped in the distance. His wand was in his hand in an instant and he got to his knees. The knife in his stomach was cumbersome, numbing, but he'd felt worse before. If Sebastian truly wanted to kill him, the knife would have been imbedded somewhere far more vital. However, that did beg the questions as to why the demon had thrown it in the first place.
Casting a nonverbal Silenco on his person, he began crawling to the trunk of the tree. The woods would provide good coverage for him and unfortunately for his enemies as well. Leaning his shoulder against the trunk, Harry raised his wand and aimed it in the direction where the noise originated. The trunk would provide some protection should the wizard come at him suddenly.
His eyes narrowed as the knife proved difficult to breathe around. The blood from the stab wound was incredibly hot as it streamed down his cold skin. His left hand toyed with the handle, trying to dislodge it.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Sebastian murmured quietly. Though, it didn't come from the trees, it was whispered directly in Harry's ear from behind. "It is such an unclean environment you're kneeling in. Not only would you have to worry about blood loss, but infection." He hardly sounded concerned, only matter-of-factly.
Harry snapped his gaze behind him, spying the demon all but curling around his backside. "Go away, demon. I can handle myself just fine."
Red eyes widened only a fraction before they squinted in pleasure. "You can, can't you?" His gaze traced obsessively across Harry's face. "It's such a refreshing change." The demon leaned closer, his lips nearly tracing his ear. "But I don't like competing for your attention like this."
Nonchalantly ignoring the demon at his back, but keeping his senses open just in case anymore silverware were to fly, Harry kept his steady attention on the woods around him. He was vaguely aware of Sebastian disappearing behind him, prancing off someplace in the woods. Harry just hoped he had left for good. Demons, even a collared one like Sebastian, always unsettled him. They were quick, powerful, and dangerously cunning when they wanted to be.
The shift in atmosphere was his only warning before the green curse came at him from his unprotected side. Harry whirled around, barely having time to levitate the stone as a shield for the Killing Curse. The curse shattered the stone, sending small pebbles scattering in every which direction. Harry rolled on the ground before springing to his feet. He pulled the bloody knife out of his stomach with an impatient tug and flung it at the Malfoy-look-alike.
The blond dodged the knife but was unable to protect himself against the cutting hex that followed quickly after. It caught him across the shoulder, ripping open his cloak and slicing his skin. The man only grunted, having enough sense to raise a shield before him as Harry cast another curse.
Harry frowned as he heard the startled yell in the distance. That would be his second assailant, the one who had Apparated after Harry and the Malfoy-look-alike. The man sounded positively terrified and a high-pitched scream soon followed before it was abruptly silenced. Only a man truly horrified would ever make a sound like that.
Three out of the four wizards sent to collect him were dead. And Harry hadn't even had a proper duel yet. He needed to allow one wizard to leave alive in order for their Dark Lord to know about Harry's ability. The Dark Lord's ego would get in the way and he'd eventually crawl out of whatever hole he was hiding in to fight Harry for himself.
The blond wizard tensed, looking startlingly behind his shoulder in the distance. He then turned back to Harry. "This is not over."
Harry smiled humorlessly, his adrenaline once again buried beneath decades of isolation and boredom. He watched as the blond Disapparated, unaware that he was being manipulated by Harry just to lure his Lord out of hiding. Harry just hoped next time he'd bring enough wizards capable enough to engage in a duel. The chase tonight was fun, yes, but it could only last for so long. Even his Elder Wand seemed to whimper at the lack of strenuous exercise.
He frowned deeply, his gaze jumping to the edge of the clearing where Sebastian was adjusting his crimson-stained gloves. The man was smiling pleasantly, not a damn coat tail out of place. "Now that you're wholly focused on me—"
"Don't you have other duties to attend to?" Harry inquired bitingly. "Perhaps… reading your master a bedtime story?" Sebastian only kept his face pleasant to Harry's taunting, yet even the younger wizard could see the slit pupils still present in the demon's eyes.
Bored with the demon for the moment, Harry looked down at his stomach. When he had pulled the knife out, he had torn something a bit more sensitive than simply skin. With his wand still pointed in the direction of the demon, Harry moved aside his cloak, taking in the damage. He'd been tortured to death before. This wound paled in comparison to what he'd received those days in hell, but it was still severe enough to warrant bed rest for recovery. A simple healing charm would only stich it up partially.
Disgusted at this setback, Harry looked up at the demon, blinking when the clearing was empty. Quickly, he got on his toes in attempt to pivot around, but a hand curled around his elbow and snapped his entire arm around. The shoulder was cleanly dislocated and the pain made it impossible for Harry to keep hold on his wand. Just as the Elder Wand dropped to the ground, another hand curled entirely around the nape of Harry's neck.
Pain like no other took Harry's breath away. His whole body turned limp and he was only held up by Sebastian's hold on his arm and the painful pressure on the back of his neck. The demon was doing something to the back of his neck as he pushed his palm into his skin. It sent painful tremors down his spine and the heat was unbearable. Something wet dripped down Harry's neck and snuck underneath his cloak. He was sure it was blood, it had to be.
His head was bowed forward and he was forced to look at the ground. As soon as Sebastian released him, he would certainly collapse disgracefully on the matted grass beneath him. The only thing he kept wondering was why his rune wasn't working.
Finally, the pain ceased and Harry was dropped to the ground. He welcomed solid earth but hated how easily he was taken advantage of. With his left hand, Harry hesitantly touched the back of his neck, feeling nothing but smooth skin.
"Perhaps now you will listen. Pity it had to come down to physical harm," Sebastian murmured pleasantly from above him. "For being such a delicate and elfin creature, you have a remarkable amount of pride and arrogance."
Harry trembled in anger, slowly turning around on his back to look at the demon. Sebastian was standing over him, one foot planted dominantly on each side of Harry's body. His hands were no longer covered in white gloves, but exposed and currently holding Harry's wand. The butler's nails were black and Harry could see the mark of the Faustian Contract he shared with Ciel on his left hand. It was a simple star inscribed inside a circle. And upon the demon's right palm, another mark was etched, but Harry couldn't discern what it looked like.
"Give me my wand," Harry whispered coldly, trembling in fury.
Something seemed to excite Sebastian, for he opened his mouth in a predatory smile, his sharp teeth prominent. "Look at you, wanting to appear threatening." He then crouched over Harry, grabbing his throat and pushing him flat on his back. "Don't worry, Harrison, I won't tell anyone you were beaten by a demon."
"Get off me," Harry insisted, using his knee and propelling it upward.
Unfortunately, Sebastian sensed the attack and repositioned himself, kneeling pointedly on the stab wound on Harry's stomach. His fingers then tightened their hold on the wizard's throat, constricting harshly. "None of that," he scolded. "I simply wish to have a conversation with you. I truly hope we won't have to go through this each time we converse."
Harry, now grey and rigid in pain, could barely breathe with the weight and pressure on his wound. "I can't imagine what you need to ask me." His eyes flashed stubbornly up at the smirking demon. "You already know I'm a wizard. There is nothing more you need to know."
"Yes, I gathered that from your fascinating show tonight. And also the fact that you're using yourself as bait for a larger group of wizards. Though, I have to confess, I have never met a wizard before and hand't known they were so plentiful." Sebastian lifted a bit of pressure off Harry's wound and leaned closer. "You're a capable wizard whose scent says you're human, and your vulnerabilities say you're human. Yet, I still find myself doubtful."
Trying to remain conscious and able, Harry chuckled lowly. "What exactly are you trying to ask?"
Sebastian frowned. "You can't be human. You can't be mortal."
Harry stared into those crimson eyes, feeling a slight thrill underneath the pain. "Why don't you throw another cutlery knife and see for yourself? This time, aim for the chest." He wondered at the demon's strong refusal to see him as human. Did he think wizards were meant to be immortal?
The demon was now straddling Harry's chest and stomach. Long hands cradled Harry's head as he leaned in close, their noses touching. Sebastian was all but glowing as he stared down at his prey. "You're hiding something. I know it. Humans are curious beings, but you are very unusual." His sharp nails lightly traced Harry's forehead in a mocking caress. "I'm trying to figure you out, luckily I was able to discern quite a bit. You and I are much alike; bored, eager to play, careless to our enemies…"
"You and I are nothing alike," Harry growled. "I would never succumb myself so submissively to another human being and become a mere servant. You are simply pathetic."
Sebastian seemed to freeze and his earlier eagerness had dimmed dramatically. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh?" Harry prodded, sensing he had hit a nerve with the demon. "You're immortal; you are desperate for anything to pass the time. But really, subjecting yourself as a servant? Trying to manipulate a child? And here I thought demons were superior creatures, it's nice to know some of them like to be dominated." With that, Harry threw his elbow in Sebastian's face, hitting the demon square in the cheekbone. He rotated his body to the side, grabbing his wand.
Before his fingers could curl around the precious wood, or before he could wandlessly summon it, a hand came out and knocked his head to the side, completely knocking him unconscious.
"…malnourished. He needs to eat properly."
A hand prodded his mouth and spread apart his jaw. Harry, so thick with sleep, couldn't fight the alien invasion. He dimly recognized a finger lifting his lips and prodding his teeth. "For not being a noble, he does have healthy and polished teeth." The fingers left his mouth and then began prodding along his jaw and throat. "Luckily his shoulder was only dislocated, it should be an easy fix now that the burn to his bicep was treated."
Clearly a doctor. Personally, Harry had enough of doctors in his previous lives, especially the one prior to this. Lying in bed from the Dragon Pox had been a nightmare. It made him claustrophobic and their treatments didn't help any. It wasn't long before Harry had been secluded in isolation for a week before he passed away.
"And the wound to his stomach?" a voice inquired airily.
Harry's eyes flickered open for only a brief second before they proved too heavy to keep open. However small the glimpse was, he was able to discern enough of his surroundings. He was currently lying in a plush bed with ornate decorations around the room. Obviously the bloody demon had brought him to his master's home. Harry's employer for his magic shows could never afford a home doctor or lavish bed coverings. No, this was Sebastian's doing. And the boy's.
"All stitched up. He should stay in bed for a week before he does anything strenuous."
When Harry got possession of his wand, he would be able to heal the wound at least partially enough to be able to get out of this manor. He wasn't going to stay bedridden in the enemy's liar, even if those enemies happened to be a Muggle child and a collared demon.
And then those prodding hands touched his aching shoulder and Harry's eyelids didn't feel so heavy anymore. His breathing hitched and his left hand flew across the bed to catch the doctor's wrist in a light, restraining hold. "Don't touch that," Harry hissed darkly.
He glared closely at the doctor, whose grey eyes were magnified behind thick spectacles. The doctor seemed to blanch at Harry's consciousness, clearly surprised to see him up so soon and coherent enough to form a valid threat.
Above the doctor's head, Ciel Phantomhive leaned against his cane and stared wide-eyed at Harry. His gaze then narrowed and he glanced over at the other side of Harry's bed. "Sebastian," the child ordered crisply. He didn't need to say anything else, the order was clear enough.
"My pleasure," Sebastian replied sweetly.
Before Harry's sluggish mind could register, the demon held possession of his left hand, restraining him away from the doctor and more firmly against the bed. The doctor cleared his throat in unease, offering Harry an apologetic smile. "My apologies, young sir, I had thought the anesthetics would last a bit longer." One hand settled on Harry's right wrist, manipulating the arm diligently while his other hand touched Harry's shoulder. "This will only hurt for a—"
He adjusted the shoulder without prior warning and the there was an audible clunk as the shoulder went back in place. Harry's eyes widened and nausea flared in his stomach. He turned toward Sebastian and heaved. Before he surrendered back into unconsciousness, Harry thought it was unfair he didn't have anything in his stomach. He would have loved making a mess out of the demon's polished shoes.
From Sorrow's Hold
The pants were too big, as was the shirt and vest. But Harry made it work anyway as he rolled the white sleeves to his elbows and made a half-arsed knot in the ribbon-like tie around his neck. He assumed these were the butler's clothes that were laid out for him. He didn't make much of a fuss about it, simply because his cloak was in tatters and the rest of his clothes were nowhere in sight.
When he had regained consciousness not too long ago, his arm had been in a sling and the covers had been intentionally weighed down by several blankets. It was a clear indication they had wanted him to stay bedridden, but Harry simply couldn't do it. He had thrown the sling across the room and had searched for clothes presentable enough to wear in public.
The only bright side to this situation was that he had been able to sleep for more than a handful of hours. The extra slumber had done wonders to his mood. He was calmer this morning, far more level-headed. He would have to thank Ciel Phantomhive for his hospitality and then depart.
Looking back on his interaction with the demon last night, Harry knew his confusion and his pride had gotten in the way of practicality. If Harry had just let the demon say what he needed, then the injuries and the intense vulnerability could have been avoided all together. Harry just wasn't accustomed to being manhandled so easily. He couldn't expect less from a demon, but he had expected his rune to ward off any physical contact.
He adjusted his shirt once more before exiting the room. From what little he'd seen so far, the manor really was beautiful. Over the years, Harry had grown partial toward architecture, especially age-old architecture. In his original time, the houses and buildings were never made with such care and quality. In the future, it was all about quick and cheap construction. His childhood house on Privet Drive was proof enough of that.
Harry carefully made his way down the set of wide staircases. His face was void, as he refused to reveal the true extent of the pain coursing through his body. He also made certain to move normally and not give away how much his body was killing him.
Emerald green eyes narrowed in on the butler standing passively at the foot of the stairs. The demon hardly looked surprised to see Harry up and about. Instead, his practiced and polite smile was the only discernible thing on his face. Harry's anger was quick to surge, but he pushed it away and calmly continued his trek down the steps.
"I am," he replied indifferently. "Please, take me to your master." If the demon wanted to play the role of a servant, then Harry was glad to treat him as such.
With one complete pivot of his foot, Sebastian's tall frame blocked Harry from continuing off the last step of the staircase. He was all human as he looked sorrowfully up at Harry. "I have a… presentiment that you do not hold me in high regard," he stated formally.
Harry stared coolly. "Whatever would give you the impression that I would hold you in any sort of regard?" he asked innocently. Harry tried to step around the demon, but Sebastian moved fluidly with him. Standing on the last stair put Harry on equal level as Sebastian. Because they were eye to eye, Harry easily saw when the human persona fell prey to the sinister demon. The pupils weren't slit just yet, but there was something malevolent watching Harry.
"You couldn't possibly be angry about our confrontation last night…" The corner of Sebastian's lip inched upward. "I think of it as fair compensation for underestimating me." He reached over and patted Harry's head. "These human children…" he tsked mockingly, patting Harry similar to how Harry had patted the demon that night in his dressing room. "They always need reminders not to get too arrogant."
His control was slipping and he knew that was exactly what Sebastian was aiming for. He flicked the man's hand away from his head, barely keeping his voice neutral. "I am no child."
Sebastian gave a sound similar to an interested purr. "Your body can't be older than fifteen? Sixteen?" Seventeen, you bloody demon. "But yes, your eyes are past your years." The demon considered Harry. "Much like my young master. A soul becomes further appealing the more the human must struggle and find his way back from the depths of hell. Your struggles, sacrifices, and choices make the overall package of your soul so much more enticing." He leaned closer. "I tasted your blood last night. I have tasted the boy's as well. Both of you are relatively close in age, and yet, your beautifully damaged soul is so much more delectable."
"I'm flattered, really, but I'm at a loss of where you're going with this," Harry murmured tightly. Though he would never admit it out loud, he did find himself interested in how demon's gauged the delectability of a human's soul. It wasn't the amount of purity or damning. It was about the struggles and hurdles they overcame.
"Before we encountered you, I believed I had already claimed the most delectable soul alive on Britain's soil. My young master has gone through a tremendous amount for one so young." Sebastian intentionally breathed across Harry's cheek as he leaned in close. "That begs the question… what sort of hell have you been living?"
Harry cupped the end of the banister and leaned subtly away from the demon. He assessed the butler suspiciously. "The night of my show, in the dressing room, you said you were unable to consume my soul. Is that because of your Contract with Ciel?"
After he registered his own words, something seemed to explode in Harry's chest, something akin to a sudden burst of insight. What if Harry made a Contract with a demon? What if he made a deal that would get his soul consumed? This… this could work. He had never thought about using demons before. He'd done rituals before, but never something like this.
"No, I simply cannot devour it."
There was something concealed in those words, but Harry was far too distracted with this new angle to press the subject. "Is the reason you can't devour it because you need a Contract to consume a soul in the human world?" Harry kept his voice casual. "If I made a Faustian Contract with you, would you be able to eat my soul then?"
Sebastian took a step back in surprise. No matter how well Harry had feigned his nonchalance, Sebastian was able to see right through it. "Why would you want a Faustian Contract?" the demon inquired silkily, dangerously. "You already have power and you do not need protection. And you don't strike me as the type of human who will request riches and prominence."
Harry gave a light shrug, mindful of his sore shoulder. "I think that would be a matter between myself and the demon. If you can't do it, than I can summon another—"
The chain around his neck was suddenly grabbed and yanked by Sebastian. Harry was forced to get on his tiptoes as his neck was manipulated by the demon. Sebastian seemed to grow taller and the bright manor suddenly seemed to be cast in deep and unnatural shadows. A vindictive smile stretched the demon's lips, his teeth now sharp and his pupils now slit. He fisted Harry's chain close to the human's throat, making sure it was difficult for Harry to breathe.
This was the most demon Harry had ever seen from the butler, but it still wasn't his true form. Though, he swore he saw a shadow of black wings behind Sebastian's towering figure.
"Forgive me," Sebastian started, his tone lukewarm. "I should have said it was impossible to eat your soul."
Harry frowned, allowing himself to be manhandled. He wouldn't get all panicky and fight back, simply because that would encourage Sebastian to cause further damage. And right now, Harry wasn't in the best condition to engage in a physical fight with a demon. Still, he was extremely suspicious of the demon's actions. Sebastian seemed like a demon who was capable enough of keeping his mask and persona firmly in check. What could have possibly angered the butler to lose control like this?
"You mean… is it like a block?" Harry inquired, suddenly realizing that Death may have made it impossible even for demons to consume his soul. Harry was cursed. It would make sense that things, even demons, wouldn't kill him.
He watched as Sebastian seemed bewildered at Harry's question, but then he used it as further explanation. "Yes, like a block." He released Harry's chain and his appearance turned back to the handsome and harmless butler. "You will not— you don't need to summon another demon. I'm afraid there is an unnatural block on your soul. The others will not bargain with you if they cannot consume your soul. I wouldn't suggest trying." He smiled pleasantly, patting down Harry's ruffled appearance.
"What are you hiding?" Harry inquired suspiciously. He didn't know if he should believe Sebastian that there was a block on his soul. But what reason was there that Sebastian would lie about something like that? It was entirely curious and Harry would need to sit down and replay this conversation.
"I could ask you the same thing, Harrison," Sebastian replied, his fingers lingering across the rune on Harry's chain. His fake pleasantries seemed to turn into true humor as he fiddled with Harry's Celtic rune. "To demons, this amuses us. Humans look incredibly foolish when they dabble in things that they have no knowledge, no business in." Sebastian smirked at Harry's pinched expression. "I assume it's much like wizards. It probably amuses and bothers you when regular humans try to dabble in magic."
"Good logic," Harry praised, smirking despite himself.
Sebastian stroked the metal rune in contemplation. "If you truly want to construct a real seal to ward off physical assaults from demons, I will be more than happy to assist you." Thick eyelashes looked up, unveiling deep crimson eyes that traced Harry's face predatorily. "We wouldn't want any other demons getting too close to you, now would we?"
"And how can I trust you not to create something that is entirely in your favor?" Harry declined, slapping the demon's hands away and stepping off the staircase. "As much as I enjoy our conversation, I have to speak to the earl before I leave." He tilted his head to the side, watching distrustfully as Sebastian smiled agreeably, giving a short bow.
"Right this way."
The mocking bow and the guiding hand were so similar to the stance back in his dressing room. Harry was tempted to pat the demon on the head again but thought better of it. Instead, he turned his heel and began walking in the general direction of the dining hall. There was a constant nagging in the back of his head, indicating that he was forgetting something or that he wasn't seeing something that was right in front of him.
He kept his posture stiff, aware of the butler's ever-observant attention on him. The sooner he got out of this manor, the sooner he could lose the sensation of hair rising on his neck.
Harry stopped suddenly as he remembered the events from last night. Clearly. His eyes became lidded as he focused on the slight humming of the Elder Wand coming from Sebastian. With calm but quick reflexes, he wandlessly summoned his wand from Sebastian's pocket and aimed it directly between the demon's eyes.
"What the hell did you put on my neck?"
A narcissistic smile crossed the demon's lips. "Oh, is that all? I just simply marked you." He then continued forward, ignoring the wand pointed at his back. "Please, we don't want to keep the young master waiting. He is eager to see you." With measured and graceful steps, the demon continued down the hall, clearly not finding Harry a threat.
Meanwhile, Harry was breathing deeply, trying to keep his earlier calm from shattering. He watched the demon, knowing that the butler was trying to appear indifferent to Harry at his back, but failing. Despite his lazy composure, Sebastian was most likely keeping his full attention on Harry, as he expected a sudden and obvious attack from behind.
Harry refused to give him that. Instead, he took a leaf out of Fred and George Weasley's book and cast a subtle, nonverbal charm in the demon's direction.
A sly smile tugged his lips at the sight.
Timeline for Harry:
2030: Original time—Harry kills himself at the age of fifty.
So far, he traveled to eight timelines (Hallows weren't created until 13th century, however, Harry has traveled earlier than that era):
1640: Start of Harry's string of suicides. Suicide 1 (or could be considered the second)—a year after 'waking'
1705: Suicide 2—an hour after 'waking'
1910: Suicide 3—Twenty minutes after 'waking'
700: Isolation years: Spent forty-five years as a recluse. After becoming bored, he struggles with the Dark Lord in this era and gets tortured to death five years later
1440: Slaughters the Dark Lord & company within a few weeks, gets killed by a Dark wizard twenty years later
1101: Kills Dark Lord & company after a ten-year war, dies of starvation/malnutrition months later
1380: Kills Dark Lord & company within five months, dies nineteen years later by Dragon Pox