The Vow And Its Consequences

Chapter 44


The kids did end up sleeping in, but the breakfast came at nine, just as they'd ordered. Soon after the smell of breakfast permeated the air, Harry was awake and quick to sit in his nightwear and wait for his portion. Lucius had to wake Draco, and after that they had a large leisurely breakfast, while Minerva and Remus made plans with the kids. They decided on going swimming in the inside pool, with the slides and such, and leaving the investigating of the aquarium until their fathers could join them.

Surprisingly Harry seemed fine – actually excited – despite the fact Severus wasn't going to be there. He was a little clingy at breakfast, but still quite excited about getting to have fun in the pool. Draco's own excitement probably buoyed him.

The second they finished breakfast, "I'm going to put my dragon swim trunks on!" Draco declared gleefully, of course, Draco had more than one pair. The first green pair he got were too plain for him, he'd decided he wanted dragons, then Kelpie ones then a pair of hippogriff ones.

"Yours are lying on your bed, little one," Severus murmured softly, brushing his hair back, when Harry scooted gleefully off his seat and made a beeline for his room.

"You're going to find it difficult when he goes to Hogwarts," Minerva commented, watching the interaction closely lips twitching in amusement. "Are you sure you don't want to return at a later date?"

"Merlin, no," Severus retorted, he'd loathed teaching students. "I still have five years before I need to worry about that." worry about Harry being off at Hogwarts. The worry would just be a general one, such as how he was doing emotionally, and of course, how he was doing academically. There was no Dumbledore to fear getting to him, and hopefully no Voldemort if they succeeded.

"Those years will fly in," Lucius admitted, a faraway look on his face, "Sometimes it feels like just a few months ago I had Draco in my arms for the first time." And what an experience that was, he'd suddenly been absolutely terrified for him, saw the world in a different light. Realized he didn't want the life he had to be his sons, but he was stuck, there had been nothing he could do but serve in hope of keeping his family safe. Then just like that, when his son was barely over a year old…the Dark Lord was defeated but not gone. The branding on his arm had kept him well informed of that. And well chained to Draco's inevitable fate.

This, this had been a miracle, something he'd never imagined happening.

He could free his son from the shackles of his father and grandfather.

He would not be doomed to serve a madman until he was either killed for 'disappointing him' or died fighting Aurors during a raid or whatever mission the Dark Lord would send him on. Being a father really does change you, in ways he hadn't anticipated at all. From the very first second that vulnerable little life is placed in your arms. Depending on you to keep them safe.

Today was the end of that reign of terror for good, to ensure he would not, could NOT return.

He would not fail.

"Do not let them out of your sights," Severus warned Remus and Minerva, especially not in a damn foreign country where they couldn't understand the language. They'd be lost in more ways than one, and he did not want to spend the entire mission worrying about his son.

"Oh, don't you worry about that, I'm putting a charm on them that will prevent them going more than thirty feet from me." Minerva stated firmly, children were sneaky as hell and very easily distracted. She was not going to let that happen on her watch. They'd have plenty room to play in the pool without spoiling their fun, but she absolutely refused to let them wander off.

That enabled Lucius and Severus to relax fully, giving nods of consent.

"Just you focus on what you need to and be careful," Minerva warned them. If anything happened to either of them…she did not think Harry would recover.

Sirius just watched the scene with a blank face, it hurt that his godson was so cautious with him still. Sure, he wasn't as bad as he used to be with him, but nowhere near as comfortable as he was around Lucius and Severus. Two of the people he had hated since he was an eleven-year-old kid. Hell, if he died tonight, Harry would barely miss him, and that hurt so much.

Not even shifting had accomplished what he had hoped.

"Has he gained more control over his shifting?" Sirius asked, the very one thing they had in common, they both had the ability to shift into an animagus. Cat's and dogs, he wondered if that was a sign of what his life was going to be like for them.

For the first time in his life, Sirius was having to work extremely hard for something he wanted in his life. He didn't just get it handed to him, he couldn't just breeze through it. Even his Auror badge was given to him during turbulent times that saw Aurors being given badges even if they failed certain courses. Too desperate for numbers to fight the looming and ever threatening darkness.

That's not to say he hadn't been a decent Auror.

"He's never been uncontrolled," Severus pointed out, every time he was told to turn back into his usual self, he did it without hesitance or sass. He had full control, ever since he copied Minerva, the magic his son had at his disposal should be absolutely terrifying. Minerva had done research and found that nobody younger than fifteen had succeeded in transforming themselves into an animagus. Sixteen when the Marauders were concerned.

"Ready to go?" Lucius asked his son, who had his towel in hand, already set to get into the pool.

Draco nodded eagerly, his blonde hair in slight disarray. It would be wet soon, no point to trying to fix it.

"When will you be back?" Harry asked, almost causing Severus to jump, having not heard his son come out of the room.

"Hopefully before lunch, but definitely before dinner," Severus promised, and he would do all it took to keep his promise. He wanted Harry to know he could always count on him to keep them. Plus, children had long memories, he should know, the more promises he broke…the less likely he'd ever be to believe them.

"Okay," Harry murmured, leaning against his dad for a side hug.

"You stay close to Minerva and Remus, do not go out of their sight, if you want something ask," Severus informed Harry seriously, he could hear that Lucius was giving his own son the same set of instructions just different words.

"I will, I promise," Harry agreed solemnly, with too much seriousness for a five-year-old child, of five and half as many children would insist as if it made a bit of difference.

"Good," Severus nodded very pleased, he knew Harry would make a conscious effort to keep his promise.

With that they split up, Minerva and Remus took Draco and Harry down to the pool. Severus, Lucius and Sirius didn't even bother leaving the room to get to their destination. Instead elected to Apparate from within the room, it would help keep them on the downlow. Taking with them the map of the Dark Lord's location.

They apparated straight outside the forest they were about to enter.

It chilled them to the bone, and looked as foreboding as it felt.

"Well…this will be interesting," Sirius said, gazing cagily at the sight before him. "I don't think we'll need to worry about anyone else being in there." Which was true enough, the damn place exuded menace, like it was warning people away from the danger within it.

"I just wish I knew what we might meet in there," Lucius said grudgingly, "Unfortunately, all I got was that the place was swarming in vermin, snakes, rats and other small critters like that. They said nothing of which kinds of snakes it was or if there were anything bigger inside."

"So not only do we have to watch our front, back but feet too…wonderful," Sirius shuddered, snakes, it had to be snakes. He detested those damn slippery sneaky things, he was going to hate this entire outing.

"The outcome will be worth it," Severus stated wryly, remembering them exactly why they'd come here. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing up. The area around them was chilly despite the beautiful day it was, he wondered what sort of magic had been used on his place. Not even the forbidden forest could elicit this kind of response from him and he knew what was in there.

"Then let's go," Lucius stated sharply, stiffening his spine, he was many things but he wasn't a coward. Tapping his wand putting his own location into the map, giving them a guideline to where the Dark Lord was currently situated. Sirius and Severus stepped in line beside him, all of them had their wands drawn, as they begun to step into the unknown.

For Harry. For Draco. For a better, peaceful world.

For the next few hours they trudged through fallen rocks, trees, even discarded house items, bedding, broken down wardrobes, bikes, things people had brought here and abandoned. During that time, they had to deal with over a dozen snakes, all of them poisonous to the extreme. They did not want to risk getting bitten by anything. The farther they went in, the dot representing Voldemort moved a little too, his pace much slower than theirs.

"If he's a spirit…why is he going so slow?" Sirius asked, panting as he jumped over yet another rock, he'd hurt his ankle, almost twisted it getting it caught in-between rocks earlier, he didn't want to make the same mistake again. "What? It's a perfectly reasonable question!" he grumbled seeing their looks.

"It is, that's the point," Severus said, sounding more teasing than mocking.

"We don't know enough about spirits to say for sure though," Lucius conceded, "He might not be able to move, he might have lost his powers…we just don't know." which was really irritating. Ghosts they knew everything about, but spirits that had been blown out of their own body? No, it's why they couldn't predict how they'd find Voldemort.

"If that's the case why hasn't be just possessed someone? Got a lift to the UK and got someone to help him?" Sirius asked, grunting as he jumped down of the edge.

Somehow Lucius and Severus managed to accomplish it with grace that Sirius would never be capable of.

"Look around you? See anyone he could possess? IT would require magic that he doesn't have, Black." Lucius sneered, sometimes he had the thought process of a child. That is to say he didn't think before he spoke at all.

"It's a bad idea to underestimate him," Sirius argued, "We really should have a plan of action…especially if this goes bad."

"How about we run and leave you to it?" Lucius sneered, it was as if Black was just hoping something would happen just for fun. Which wouldn't surprise him at all, Sirius Black had a few screws loose, just like the rest of the Black family. Considering Sirius' parents were cousins…it was no surprise they were not fully functional.

"Very funny," Sirius said bitterly, rolling his eyes when Lucius doubled over, way to be dramatic much to prove a point, and they called him a drama king.

"Lucius!" Severus called out, his tone filled with genuine worry, barely noticing the half dead snake at his feet.

"Watch out!" Sirius shouted, jumping to avoid the snake that was NOT moving even the slightest bit threateningly towards him. "What's wrong with him?"

"The Dark Lord," Severus muttered, his eyes roaming around, dead snakes, dozens of them, realization began to dawn on him. "He's been taking the lifeforce of animals, possessing them to survive." Was it just recently due to the lack of Horcruxes or had he been doing it this entire time? You'd think the animals would have the sense to avoid this place if that were the case, they had better instincts than humans.

Sirius belated looked around and noticed the same thing Severus had almost right away. Swallowing thickly, they should have listened to him, he was an Auror, he knew things others didn't think about. He'd read the information that the others suspected, they had too, it should have dawned on them.

"Lucius fight it!" Severus snapped, "Think of your son!"

Lucius just groaned spread out on all fours, fighting the possession with all he had in him.

"Do you want him getting to Narcissa and Draco? Fight it!" Severus ordered, knowing how to rile up his best friend, knew how to make him fight tooth and nail.

Sirius just watched on in horrified fascination, he could have sworn he saw a face appear on the back of Lucius head for a few seconds. Ghostly, but nonetheless there what the ever-loving fuck?

"Kill…me," Lucius ground out, face spasming in agony, as he fought as best as he could. Falling to the ground completely, unable to keep holding his weight on his hands and knees. Writhing in agony, as he fought the Dark Lord for control, refusing to let him take control even for a second. Everything burnt, everything hurt, and Merlin help him, the pain…not even the Cruciatus Curse hurt this badly. He just wanted it to end.

"Serpensortia!" Sirius cast the spell, calling forth a snake, grimacing as it shout out of his wand, "We need to get Voldemort into it!" his voice surprisingly calm, his Auror training coming in handy for once in his life. Mind whiling, he didn't know any spells that would accomplish that.

"Spiritus relego!" Severus cast, "Relego spiritus!" trying both ways, neither worked, Lucius continued to scream and writhe on the floor, face screwed up in sheer agony.

"Asportare!" Severus enchanted, "Come on Lucius! Don't tell me you're weaker than Voldemort! He has only a portion of his soul left!"

"Aufero!"

"Aveho!" Severus' spell casting became more desperate.

"Kill me!" Lucius spat out, spit running down his chin, eyes flashing red in-between sentences. "Do it now!" sheer desperation coming from him was immense.

Killing him would kill the spirt form Voldemort held once and for all.

"Agero!" Severus was trying every spell he had to banish spirits, but it seemed Voldemort was still either too strong or he was using the wrong magic.

"Exc…" Lucius got out, before his eyes flashed red and a snarl ripped forth.

Sirius clutched his wand tightly, lips pursed so hard they were pale. The urge to kill Lucius and just end this once and for all was strong, after all they had his permission. Yet Narcissa's possible devastation stayed his hand, she'd never forgive him. In fact, he knew she'd find a way to kill him for it.

"ipi…" Lucius rasped out a second later.

Severus stiffened, what was Lucius trying to tell him?

"o,"

Severus' eyes widened, "Excipio!" he chanted, flicking his wand in an upward motion, before bringing it down in the direction of the snake. "NOW!" holding the spirit in the snake, refusing to let the Dark Lord succeed in getting away.

"Avada Kedavra!" Sirius cast, flinching as he did so, his wand pointed at the snake he had summoned.

Lucius watched the scene through half lidded eyes, before they rolled back and his body laxed as he went unconscious.

"Lucius!" Severus knelt beside his friend, shaking his shoulder, trying to get him to wake up.

"Is it done?" Sirius asked, walking forward staring at the dead snake, had they really just destroyed the last shard of Voldemort's?

"Burn it," Severus spat, glaring at the snake as if it was the cause of all their problems, a quick diagnosis had him looking at the results instead. His friends life was more important than the dead body of the snake Black had just killed.

Sirius did as suggested, it didn't even take three minutes for the snake to be reduced to naught but ashes. Shivering in cold, he glanced back up, "How is he?" surprised by how worried he actually was, and not for his own neck, he hadn't done anything so Narcissa couldn't blame him.

"His magical core is utterly depleted," Severus said, "He's exhausted, we need to get him back to the hotel immediately." Thankfully he took his potions with him everywhere, including the very things he needed to recuperate.

"Alright, you go ahead, I'll find Remus and Minerva and tell them what I know…" Sirius said, "Should I get a healer…or what?" a big hotel they were in had to at least have a Medi-witch or Medi-wizard or a healer at least to see to them in the event they received minor injuries.

"No, I'm able to help," Severus retorted, Lucius would kill him if he let a stranger anywhere near him when he was vulnerable. He couldn't help Harry, understandably, his state had been much more severe than this. Lucius had fought off Voldemort's possession for half an hour, although it didn't feel like that at all, felt like five minutes if that. It was funny the perception of time when things were at its worst or having a good time. "Just don't let it show on your face, Draco can read you a mile away." he might young but Draco wasn't stupid, and his smarts were sharpening still with Harry pointing out signs of body language to him.

It was a good job he and Lucius held such ironclad control.

"Then go, I'll tell them," Sirius urged, Lucius looked extremely pale and clammy, well, what he could see over the dirt that was all over him, he winced seeing the bits of rocks embedded in his face, blood oozing from his wounds. "I'll keep them away from the rooms as long as possible," no doubt Lucius wouldn't want his son to see him in such a state.

Quite frankly, Sirius wouldn't blame him, he looked like death warmed over.

Severus gave a nod of thanks to Sirius before he apparated with Lucius, cloaking the wizard in his own magic so that not even a single strand of magic was needed on Lucius' part. Any more magic usage could prove very dangerous to the wizard. Lucius wouldn't be able to live without his magic, he'd rather die, this Severus knew and understood.

Sirius stared at the spot, banishing the trickles of dried blood out of sheer habit. It had been drummed into him as a kid, wipe up after yourself do not leave even a drop behind. Blood had magical properties, and well, the last thing the Black's wanted was cursed or one of their kids used unknowingly in a ritual of any kind.

Then he stared at the pile of ashes, realization belatedly and finally dawning.

They'd done it.

The Dark Lord Voldemort had been defeated.

Elation, jubilation and sweet relief enveloped him.

Staring up at the sky, which seemed so much darker than it had been before, "We did it, guys, he's finally gone for good," he murmured, a tear running down his face, at the remembrance of what it had cost to have this freedom. "I'll make sure Harry's looked after, I promise, I'll do anything, I'll prove you made the right choice making me godfather." He vowed to Lily and James, who he knew would be watching over their son.

After a few moment of silent reflection, he apparated, turning up at the Apparation spot, next to the cloak room. Emerging from the small room, he begun his search of the hotel, looking for the inside pool, where his godson and best friend were currently having fun unaware of what had transpired.

It took him ten minutes of searching, since he couldn't speak or understand Albanian. The pool was filled with happy shrieking children, speaking a lot of different languages by the sound of it. All of them enjoying their holidays. His grey eyes roamed around looking for any sign of Minerva and Remus or even Draco and Harry, but it was difficult to do in this crowd. Why they were using the inside pool he had no idea, it was silly really, they could be out in the sun…enjoying their holidays.

"Sirius!" came the loud call, from the opposite direction than he was going, apparently they'd found him before he found them. It was Remus' voice, not Minerva's, turning around, he zoned in on the area he'd heard him, and looked around until he found the waving hand, gastrulating in Remus' own direction.

Minerva and Remus frowned, clearly perturbed by the fact he was alone.

"What happened?" Minerva's tone was curt and demanding, clearly not in the mood to play around. She wasn't looking at Sirius at all, but in Draco and Harry's direction. Making sure they were safe, there and more importantly a good distance from this conversation…if what she suspected was true.

Sirius glanced over himself, a small smile appearing on his face, watching this, you wouldn't think his godson had been through the trauma he had. "They're alive, back here," he informed them, "It's done." He said nothing else, merely sat down and watched his godson.

He would keep his promise, his vow, that he had made to Lily and James this day.

"How badly are they hurt?" Remus asked, knowing if they weren't they'd be here without a doubt.

Sirius shook his head, "They're alive, Severus is tending to him," was all he said, they couldn't talk about Voldemort possessing Lucius here of all places! Far too public for such a thing, even if most of the people here didn't actually speak English, or give the appearance of so anyway.

Remus frowned while Minerva asked, "What's the worst?" of the damages.

"Magical exhaustion I think," Sirius said, "I didn't see the diagnosis paperwork," which was true enough, only Severus had. Refusing to say more, if they wanted answers then they'd damn well go up stairs and talk to them in private.

"Well, we haven't had lunch, I suggest we have it up stairs this afternoon," Minerva stated curtly, "Lucius is the only one that can understand and speak Albanian." At least they had people in the hotel that could understand English, at least answering the phones anyway, since Lucius had ordered breakfast for the morning speaking English.

"Very well," Sirius sighed, "At least let them continue to enjoy their afternoon, and give Severus enough time to clean Lucius up."

Minerva agreed, and the time they spent there was sat in stifling silence. Minerva and Remus worried about Lucius and how bad it truly was and what really happened. Sirius fed off their silent agitation, not even feeling elation that they'd done it. They only spent twenty minutes in silence before the children were bounding over.

"Can we get ice cream?" Draco demanded, before softening his tone, "Please?" well aware Harry didn't like demanding voices, and thus making an effort not to scare away his friend. A friend who really liked him, even if he was a little shy at times.

"We can certainly get you some for desert," Minerva agreed, nodding in approval, by the time he came to Hogwarts he would definitely be a little politer.

"Can we go for lunch now?" Harry asked, his tone quiet, shifting slightly behind Draco as if seeking protection from the slightly taller boy. "I'm hungry, and dad always says to ask…" in fact he didn't like making his dad upset, so he always made sure to say, so that he didn't make his dad sad. "Where is dad?" belatedly noticing Sirius and knowing Sirius had gone with his dad and Lucius.

"Where's my dad?" Draco demanded, a hint of worry in his eyes so like his fathers.

"They're cleaning up," Sirius told them immediately, "In the hotel bathroom," which wasn't beyond the realm of possibility given the fact he was absolutely filthy himself. "I just came here to let you know we were back." Hopefully by the time they all got up there…Lucius would be cleaned and outwardly healed.

The two five-year-olds accepted his word, "Lunch?" Harry asked yet again, his stomach grumbling hungrily, he didn't like going hungry anymore.

"Shall we gentlemen?" Minerva stated, standing up, "Grab your towels," she added to the boys who scrambled to do as she asked.

With that the five of them begun the trip out the pool, to the reception where Minerva spoke to him about lunch being sent up to the room. Including ice cream on the menu, after all it was a holiday and the children deserved to be indulged…not that their fathers needed a reason to do so.

"Mom!" Draco called out in delight when he spotted her the second the entered their rooms.

"Narcissa," Remus and Sirius echoed just as surprised to see her.

"Hello, boys, having fun?" Narcissa asked them, giving them a beatific smile, one she only ever bestowed upon them or Lucius.

Draco quickly begun to tell her everything he'd done that morning, including how outrageously rude a boy had been to his mum after he dropped his ice cream. How they'd gone to the deep end, and how they'd swam under with a bubblehead charm on! How he and Harry raced and spoke underwater like it was a secret language. Harry added a few titbits of his own afternoon when Draco would stop to take a breath. Draco would have blabbed some more if not for the knock on the door cutting off his rendition of his tale.

"That must be lunch, excuse me," Minerva said, having disappeared into the bedroom to check on Severus and Lucius.

Sirius and Remus were nowhere to be found.

"Has father had to return home for the Ministry?" Draco asked solemnly, staring up at his mum in enquiry. It wouldn't be the first time their fun had been cut short because his dad had important work to do at the Ministry of magic.

"No, your father is just a little tired, he's sleeping at the minute, but tomorrow we're going to go out and explore, all of us, how does that sound?" Narcissa asked her son. She wasn't going to outright lie to him, no matter how easier it would have been. Instead she was giving him the simplified version, Lucius was going to be just fine, anything else would be unacceptable.

"Oh, okay," Draco agreed, "Are you staying?"

"I am," Narcissa agreed, "I think it's time for lunch, don't you agree?" hearing their stomachs grumbling hungrily, little wonder considering the adventure they'd had in the pool today. Her husband had his own adventure…which had bore fruit. They would never have to worry about their son again, he was free, and she was beyond elated.

Everyone except for Lucius had lunch, the children unaware of anything untoward happening. Just enjoying their holiday as it should be. When the children went to bed that evening, they'd finally have that conversation about what happened and celebrate with a few drinks of their own and finally, finally have the news sink in that Voldemort cannot and will not ever return to ruin their lives.

They were free.

To think all this started with a vow…and its possible consequences.


A/N – Okay, so maybe a few more chapters, but only to tie up quite a few loose ends I have before the tale is done…I have a list of the loose ends I've remembered…but is there anything YOU want to see answered before this story draws to a close with the children heading off to Hogwarts? R&R please