Chapter Twenty-Six: Bonds and Complications
Aisling looked over the group as she stalled for time to think of somewhere to begin. Some way...
It had been so long since she had been around a group of people this large. Though there were less than a dozen of them, the barrage of their auras was blinding and distracting. Her "gift" had only gotten stronger over the years. That she hadn't gone insane was a bit miraculous. Aura Seers invariably went mad, at least the most powerful ones.
"Mum said in her diary that you saw something in her aura and freaked." Harry said shortly.
Her attention turned to Lily's son. He put up a good mask but the riot of his aura told another story. Pain, rage, distrust, exhaustion. So much....
"MORRIGAN!" Severus bellowed.
Aisling closed her eyes against the draw of the powerful auras of the assembled group. She could still feel the auras but the distraction of the hypnotizing color of them was gone.
"Yes. That was the first time I had seen anything like that in someone's aura. I'd always been able to see colors now and again," Aisling said carefully.
Severus leveled a glare on a scowling Draco and a slightly sneering Harry. Neither boy seemed to be inclined to patience for Aisling's explanations. Severus wasn't either but knew Aisling well enough that she was not going to be hurried at all. Neville was frowning. Tonks looked decidedly skeptical. What bothered Severus the most was the stonily blank face of Zabini. Morrigan was his aunt, his gift mother. Lovely. Just what he needed; another one ready to go off the proverbial deep end. As if the disturbingly calm powder kegs that were Harry and Draco were not enough, now Zabini could be added to that list by the look of him.
Severus turned his glare on Remus, who wasn't paying attention to Morrigan but watching Severus with a disturbing intensity. The damned werewolf with his propensity for fussing was going to drive him mad long before Dumbledore and Voldemort managed to get him killed one way or another with their schemes.
The potions were doing their job; he received similar 'reminders' of where his loyalties should lie every time he was summoned for information on the goings on of Hogwarts. Voldemort wanted it very clear who owned Severus, and very clear what lay in wait for those who were out of his favor. That he had not been killed outright at a summons yet was only a mark of his usefulness as a potions maker, and what little harmless bits of information he passed on that Voldemort saw as more than what they were. The Dark Lord found pulling the wool over Albus Dumbledore by having a spy in his ranks something of a coup. It was Severus' greatest terror that he was not the only spy; he was fairly sure he wasn't. Then there were the children of Death Eaters within the school; not all of them were in Slytherin, contrary to popular belief.
"Well, what did you see?" Harry demanded shortly.
"Potter!" Severus barked.
"Death." Aisling said flatly. "Hers, others around her. Different ways, different times. Just Death ... and the Slytherin crest, and a Rowan branch I didn't recognize at the time..."
Harry studied the strange woman a moment, then nodded. If whatever Aisling had seen was anywhere near what he saw in his visions through the link with Voldemort, that would be enough to freak out an eleven-year-old. "Could it have been changed, or do we get the 'everything is set in stone' crap?"
"Nothing is set in stone until it happens." Aisling shook her head.
"Why the runes?" Harry demanded.
"That was the first time I saw something. Not the last. Eventually there were things in Cissa and Alice and Severus' auras, too. Remus' and Malfoy's and Black's and Potter's. A few others as well. Voldemort was making his rise then, to full power by the time we finished school..."
"And so why the runes?" Draco echoed Harry's demand.
"Mostly protection. I only know the spells I used on Blaise and the binding spell."
"Binding Spell, Morrigan?" Severus demanded.
"Lily, Alice, Cissa and I performed the spell ourselves when we were fourth years. We made it a hereditary spell along the line of the firstborns. The Bond we made was an Alliance Bond."
"Later, Harry," Seamus murmured.
"The spells we cast back then would have prevented Cissa's child from taking the Dark Mark. Lucius already had the Mark by then. I had seen enough to know Voldemort would be a threat to our children. The Binding was Fealty and Allegiance primarily; it would keep Cissa's first born, at least, from getting the Dark Mark unless my first born, Lily's and Alice's all took the mark at the same time."
Draco scowled. "And our own free will--"
"Draco!" Severus barked.
"He's got a point." Harry scowled. "Things could be balanced differently. That could have backfired badly."
"It was worth the risk," Aisling insisted.
"Not from where I'm sitting," Neville frowned.
"The world is going to end: Draco, Harry and Neville all agreeing on something," Millie muttered from the corner.
"Miss Bulstrode," Severus turned to glare at her, clenching his teeth as his back protested. What had been on Avery's whip that his potions were wearing off so quickly?
"Professor, wouldn't a bond like that apply to any other type of binding to an extent...?" Pansy frowned worriedly.
"Merlin!" Snape hissed. "Viper? How strong did you make the Alliance Bond between the four of you? You three..."
"Technically, Potter and Zabini have already given their approval; they stood as witnesses," Draco said worriedly. "Longbottom, give your blessing now, just to be safe."
"I formally give my approval on your marriage, Malfoy," Neville said grudgingly. "For the sake of Pansy's little sisters not losing her somehow too because our mothers made this buggered up pact."
"Marriage?" Aisling asked confused, not daring to open her eyes and be caught by the auras again.
"You missed a few things in arranging our lives. Like the Malfoy Arranged Marriage Tradition and the spells involved in that," Harry sneered. "And the fact Draco and Pansy got married a couple weeks ago."
"We could have bloody killed Pansy and not even have realized that we'd done it!" Blaise snarled at his Aunt.
"Circe," Aisling breathed.
"Actually this deserves more of a Fucking HELL!" Harry growled.
"Harry! Watch your language!" Remus glared at Harry then turned to Aisling "WHAT THE HELLS WERE YOU FOUR THINKING!"
"We were fourteen, Werewolf, we did the best we could with what we knew! With that first spell and the rest. It could have been used to Draco's advantage and stopped the marriage before it had taken place." Aisling bristled as she defended herself and her friends.
"IF WE HAD FUCKING KNOWN! AS USUAL EVERYONE FUCKS OVER MY LIFE AND DOESN'T BOTHER TO INFORM ME UNTIL LATER!" Harry bellowed, having had enough of everything.
"POTTER, CALM DOWN!"
"BUGGER OFF, SNAPE!"
"OH SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU!" Neville bellowed at Harry and Severus, which shocked them both to silence. "YOU! THE REST? YOU DID MORE?" He snarled at Aisling.
"I'm with Longbottom. Shut up. I want to know what else they did before we accidentally kill each other and everyone around us," Draco snapped.
"The combination of you, Harry, Blaise and Neville--that's entirely possible." Millie snorted at Draco.
"The Apprenticeship bonds would be safe enough. The four of you are all apprenticed," Seamus pointed out. "You got Pansy approved. So that's okay."
"Albus insisted on the full archaic traditions--the four of them are bound to Hogwarts for the next fifteen years, as are the rest of the apprentices."
"Oh Circe, I didn't realize," Aisling said shakily. "I don't know what would have happened..."
"Lovely," Harry snorted as the clock struck midnight. "Happy bloody birthday, Neville. I have a present for you upstairs. Remind me later."
"Happy birthday, Harry," Neville shot back dryly. "Gran is supposed to be sending your present sometime tomorrow--well, this afternoon. Got to say as birthday surprises go, could have lived without this one."
"Makes two of us, Neville." Harry sighed.
"Can someone put up a silencing spell? All your shouting woke Seph and Paysh." Pen Parkinson appeared in the archway of the stairs that led up to the Apprentices rooms, two-year-old Patience clutched awkwardly on her hip, five-year-old Persephone peeking out from behind her.
"Albus!" Minerva tried yet again, then gasped in dismay as the clock sounded midnight.
"I can't believe you would do something like this!" Flora Sprout added her own displeasure.
Albus Dumbledore shook his head at the women, who had been at it an hour now. "Hogwarts will give Harry added protection from Voldemort..."
Minerva glared. "Just being at Hogwarts is certainly--"
"A bond with Hogwarts could possibly control the link he has with Voldemort, stopping the visions and Voldemort's being able to influence or access Harry's thoughts through the visions," Albus said firmly.
The women simply glared and left.
Albus sat watching the flames. It was for the best. They would see. Harry refused to listen, refused to be sheltered. Albus was simply protecting him. Hogwarts was only able to bind itself to someone a century after the passing of the last person it had claimed. It had been well over 140 years now since the last bonded Heir had died. Even if, Merlin forbid, Harry was unable to defeat Voldemort, it would buy a century of time before an Heir could be bound to the School again. With luck, the bond to Hogwarts would hopefully give Harry added strength to draw on to defeat Voldemort. This was a war; sacrifices had to be made. Harry would have to understand that. Everyone had to do their part. It would all be for the best. Indeed it would.
Harry gasped at the strange surge of energy pressing at the back of his head.
"Harry? Mate?" Seamus demanded, concerned.
"Harry?" Neville asked worriedly.
"Bloody hell, not another vision," Tonks murmured horrified.
Harry winced as the energy pressing into his mind went from uncomfortable to painful. He struggled with what he remembered from Occlumency lessons to block the energy. It was to no avail as a blinding storm of swirling colors overloaded his mind.
"HARRY!" was shouted by several of the Apprentices.
In Pen's arms, little Patience began to wail. Persephone began to cry too, as she clung to Pen's waist.
Hogwarts had her boy. The castle's magic pressed forward into his mind, tying his magic to the castle. There were other ties, though ... ties that could hurt her boy. Hogwarts reached out to claim the other three as well.
Neville screamed in pain, falling off the chair he was seated on.
Blaise gasped, clutching his head, and would have fallen as well if not for Luna, who grabbed him as he began to topple forward.
Pansy gripped Draco's arm in anticipation, and a moment later he too was clutching his head in vocal pain.
The castle became upset as she realized that her boy didn't understand what was happening, that this wasn't his choice, and it was too late to stop now. Her boys--two of them were Hers by rights--were fighting her, as were the other two. Hurting themselves by fighting. NO! Hogwarts didn't want to hurt her boys. Once started, however, the bond couldn't be stopped.
"What was that!" Luna shouted as the entire castle began to shake.
"Earthquake?" Tonks offered uncertainly, in a very shaky voice.
"Pansy? What's wrong with them?" Pen Parkinson called out to her sister, frightened. Her own eyes bright with tears of fear and confusion. "What's happening?"
"Morrigan! Open your damn eyes and see if you can tell what's wrong with them!" Severus snarled.
Reluctantly Aisling opened her eyes. "The castle--Hogwarts found two Heirs to claim at once," she gasped.
"Dumbledore knew this would happen." Remus spat with a certainty that sat like lead in his stomach.
"The question isn't that he knew, it's what he intended to accomplish by it," Severus said coldly. Icy fury blazed in his dark eyes. "Merlin curse that interfering old man, what the HELL GAME IS HE PLAYING NOW!"
"Don't shout! You're scaring the babies worse!" Millie snapped at her Head of House, hurrying over to the little girls. "Tonks, bloody keep Neville from bashing his brains out on the floor!"
Tonks was already moving to the boy on the floor though, quickly trying to stop the agonized boy from knocking his head against the stone.
"PANSY!!!" the two middle Parkinson sisters screamed, Pen struggling against Millie who instinctively held the little girls back.
Hogwarts sensed the fear and worry of those holding her boys. One was already bound to the boy she deemed her Silver child. She would claim her boys' mates as well, then, to give them comfort. It was the least Hogwarts could do in apology for claiming her boys against their will. Why hadn't they known? Why hadn't they understood?
"STAND BACK, DON'T TOUCH THEM!" Severus shouted as it became obvious that whatever was affecting the four boys had spread to the four trying to stop them from doing serious injury to themselves. "YOU LITTLE IDIOTS, LET THE CASTLE DO WHAT IT WILL BEFORE IT KILLS YOU!"
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