Obligatory Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling (although I don't think she quite saw them in this way) without permission and without malice.  While I wish I could make money off of it, none is being earned and this piece is strictly for entertainment purposes; suing me would be pointless as I have no assets except my mind and I dare you to try and get it.  The original story line this one follows (with permission) is "Pledges" by Amireal and I have tried to maintain the storyline continuity and to establish some fixed-action patterns (a fancy psych term for habits) for our ironic, errant professor and his irrepressible, but sometimes overenthusiastic husband. I tried to write the story as a stand alone piece , but if you are confused (or even if you're not), I would suggest you read the most excellent "Pledges" before this one as the story is set wholly in Amireal's World, many, many years in the future.

Author's Notes:This story is set wholly in Amireal's World, many, many years in the future and concerns the continuation of the relationship of our ironic, errant professor and his irrepressible, but sometimes overenthusiastic husband. Amireal has written a lovely love story and you really should read it.

Yes, I know the Prologue is really weird and really depressing, but necessary--don't worry--it's the only piece like it in the whole story.

My thanks to my betas--Haldolpoim and Rainyshiny.

Bring Me To Life : A Continuation

A Harry Potter Fan Fiction

Part Four

By I Got Tired of Waiting


Section One:
Save Me from the Nothing I've Become

How can you see into my eyes like open doors.
Leading you down into my core
Where I've become so numb.
Without a soul, my spirit's sleeping somewhere cold
Until you find it there and lead it back home.

Wake me up.  Wake me up inside.
I can't wake up.  Wake me up inside.
Save me.  Call my name and save me from the dark.
Wake me up.  Bid my blood to run.
I can't wake up.  Before I come undone.
Save me.  Save me from the nothing I've become.

Now that I know what I'm without you can't just leave me.
Breathe into me and make me real.  Bring me to life.

Wake me up.  Wake me up inside.
I can't wake up.  Wake me up inside.
Save me.  Call my name and save me from the dark.
Wake me up.  Bid my blood to run.
I can't wake up.  Before I come undone.
Save me.  Save me from the nothing I've become.

Bring me to life.
I've been living a lie, There's nothing inside.
Bring me to life.

Frozen inside without your touch, without your love, darling.
Only you are the life among the dead.

All of this sight I can't believe I couldn't see
Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me

I've been sleeping a 1000 years it seems.
I've got to open my eyes to everything.

Without a thought.  Without a voice.  Without a soul.
Don't let me die here, There must be something wrong.
Bring me to life.

Wake me up.  Wake me up inside.
I can't wake up.  Wake me up inside.
Save me.  Call my name and save me from the dark.
Wake me up.  Bid my blood to run.
I can't wake up.  Before I come undone.
Save me.  Save me from the nothing I've become.

Bring me to life.
I've been living a lie, There's nothing inside.
Bring me to life--

"Bring Me To Life"
By Evanescence

They returned to the castle.  Walking up the steps had never been so hard, each step taking him further away from Severus.   Severus!

Ron and Hermione, still on either side of him, helped him into the main entry.  They straightened and stopped when they saw what was before them.  Harry looked up.

Stretching from the front door and back far into the distance to the stairway up to their quarters and beyond were the students.  Lined up on both sides of the Hall, single file, in formal uniform, they formed an honor guard to see Harry home.

They were almost all crying silently, the tears flowing unchecked down fresh faces, faces much too young to be bearing the sorrow cast on them.

All visibly showing grief, except for the Slytherins, who were the first House represented.  Their aggrieved, dry eyes in sober faces paid tribute to his now silent grief, their straight, proud stance a fitting testimony to the Headmaster and former Head of House they had lost.    Almost as one, they turned their heads to gaze at him and in the finest Slytherin tradition they bowed to him as he passed them.

He stopped and hesitated, about to say something, when he heard Severus' voice in his head telling him not to tarnish this--ritual.   So he nodded and stayed silent, his eyes filling with unshed tears.  When he reached the end of the house, he turned and faced their Heads of House, Sinistra and Colin.  Remembering the ritual, he held their sad eyes with his and deeply bowed to each one.  Turning with precision to look back at the long lines of Slytherins, their eyes shining with unshed tears, he let one tear fall unchecked, and looking at each one, he bowed once, turned on his heel, and never looked back.

He would not disgrace their now free falling tears by seeing them.

The Ravenclaws he passed were quickly followed by the Hufflepuffs.  As he had done with the Slytherins, he looked each one in the eye as he passed, so many of them he knew by name.  Both groups were crying silently as well, their gaze following his slow progress up the hall and beyond.  Noting his sorrow and infirmity, they began to think he would not be with them much longer either.

At the stairs, he encountered his own beloved Gryffindors.   Looking both right and left as he slowly made his way up, step by step, he looked each and every one of them in the eye, knowing them all by name as Head of their House, telling them with each nod, each heartfelt glance, the occasional touch, especially to the little ones and his Prefects, how much he cherished them.  They each touched hands to head and heart and bowed heads as he acknowledged them and it was all he could do not to break down in front of them.  He sensed their grief and was comforted by it.

With the last of the students past, he had only the Head Boy and Head Girl, guarding the entrance to his quarters, to pass.

He stopped before them and with a rare show of emotion, he swept both of them into an embrace, catching their tears in his robes.  They were--his, his special students, the only two he still taught and their support meant as much to him as any of his friends.

Both were progeny of The Trio's union-- Altus and Althea--twins in the finest Weasley tradition--his and Severus' Godchildren.  They were an amalgam of their families--Altus with his red hair (and temper to match) and piercing gray eyes that saw straight in one's soul; Althea with her waist-length fine white hair so much like Draco's, the blazing blue eyes, and a keen intellect.  And power--they had it in abundance--wild, raw power, each almost the equal of Harry.  Together, they were unstoppable.  They kept him young in his efforts to teach them the essential control they would need to fulfill their destiny.

They were the chosen heirs, their training at his and Severus' hands since they were infants.  Altus, the Slytherin and Althea, the Gryffindor; they would take over Hogwarts after Colin and Dana.  Not exactly a dynasty, rather a long-term plan for succession finally bearing fruit.

The three of them wept remembering all their days and evenings in these rooms with him and Severus--the rigorous times of training--the exhaustive lessons--their learning to look behind the crusty exteriors to see the soft steel cores--the celebrations--the joy.  Gently releasing them, he looked at them, his blurred eyes telling them silently how much he cared.  They stood straight and tall, both leaning over to kiss his cheek, and with choked emotion they returned to either side of the door--they would keep it safe.

Turning, he stepped into their quarters.  Memories overwhelmed him and he would have fallen had not Remus and Ron caught him.  He'd forgotten they were there.  Hermione closed the door firmly behind them after a quick word and a hug with her thrice-great-grandchildren, and motioned over to Seth standing nearby.

"He can't stay here, you know.  Just look at him, he needs to be somewhere else, somewhere without all the memories."

"Where can we take him, Mum?  Is there ANY place in all of Hogwarts that won't bring back memories?"

"No, I guess you're right.  But damn it, he can't stay here!"  She pointed and Seth saw Harry on his knees on the floor, his body shaking with his weeping.  Remus and Ron stood by helpless not sure what to do, while Arabella was on the floor in front of him, her arms around his shoulders, her lips near his ear as she murmured softly to him.

"Let's get him to the infirmary, at least there I have potions to knock him out and then we can decide where to put him."  Seth said hoarsely.


Colin, his brown eyes impatient, waited for them in the infirmary's private room, his slender wife sitting off to the side, watching him with some amusement as he paced.  He still felt uneasy with all of this and although not sure what he was to have expected, he knew the sudden silence of the castle within him and Dana was one of the things he had least expected.  They'd been told it was noisy, intrusive, down-right nosy, and it had been quite distracting until this morning after the funeral, but silent?  No, he was confused.  And confusion pissed him off.  His was an ordered world and the unexpected did not sit well with him.  He planned, not reacted--it was the Slytherin in him.

He paced around the area, his long legs making short work of the distance, waiting for them to arrive.  It was only logical that they should come here; Harry, bless his soul, would not do well in their rooms, nor would he in any place in the castle for that matter.  He knew HE would not do well in his rooms if this had happened to Dana--there would be too many memories to make it an easy place to be.  He turned quickly away from THAT thought--life without Dana was not to be even considered.  He looked over at her, reassuring himself she was still there.  She smiled at him, blue eyes to brown, in understanding.

Colin did not know that these 'logical' conclusions were not reached by logic but by his latent ability to read people's thoughts and intentions--that much of the castle had been passed on to them at the very least.  Had he been told, he would not have lent any credence to it, preferring to believe instead that they had been reached by his own reasoning.

Colin felt VERY unprepared for all this.  That was another thing that would piss him off--he hated to be unprepared.  There was supposed to have been a transfer of knowledge with the transfer of the Wards.  They'd not received all of it with the unexpected silence.   Severus was supposed to have filled in the gaps; Harry was in no position to do so.  So, Colin paced, his concern growing with each step.  And, waited.  And, paced.

Dana looked on with her habitual serenity.  She was rarely bothered by the unknown--she'd found so much of it over the years and in the last few days; she was not inclined to worry about things she had no control over.  She faced what she faced when she faced it.  She reacted, not planned--it was the Gryffindor in her.

They were perfect foils to each other.

He whirled around at the sound of people coming out of the fireplace, his long robes following him in a swirl Dana secretly admired.   Finally, he thought, they got him here.  He was not disappointed as Seth and Remus came stumbling out of the hearth, a stupefied Harry between them.

Gods he looks awful, Colin thought, so OLD.  He never looked this old, this used-up before, and then berated himself the same way Dana would have, had he been foolish enough to say it out loud, for being such an unfeeling git.

They walked him slowly to the bed.  He stumbled and Seth caught him, lowered him gently onto the edge of the mattress.

Sitting there, numb, Harry started murmuring broken phrases.  "So cold.  So very cold.  Can't we have a fire in here?  Severus, why is it so damn cold in here?  What did you do to piss it off?  Did the castle move us back in the dungeons or maybe on the roof?"

Ron and Hermione chuckled at the memory of the incident right after he'd been made Headmaster, when Severus' things had been moved to the roof by the annoyed castle; the others, having no knowledge of it, stared at him like he was a madman.

Seth swiftly grabbed the sleeping potion off the shelf near the bed.  After removing the cork, he gently gave it to Harry, who downed it unseeing, purely by habit.

In taking the bottle back from Harry, Seth's hand grazed his and the--feel--of Harry's hand triggered his healing senses.  With a sharp exclamation, he dropped the bottle on the floor and gently laying Harry down on the bed, he began to check him over, his senses fully extended.

With each pass of his hands, his face got grimmer.  He muttered a few testing spells and with the results revealed, he hung his head.  Taking Harry's hand briefly and then patting it before placing it back down on the bed, he steeled himself to face the questioning faces behind him.

Alarmed, the others in the room stared tensely at him until he finished.  He turned concerned eyes to them and he dropped his shoulders with a heavy sigh.

In an instant they all knew what was wrong--Harry had the fever.

Upset, but never resigned, the seven friends settled down to watch--and wait.


Harry was standing in a grassy meadow.   No, more like a Muggle golf course, he thought, awed by the wide expanse of smooth green, its gentle hills unbroken to the horizon.  Against the deep blue of the cloudless sky, Harry saw, in the distance, a figure rapidly moving towards him.

Excitement coursed through his veins at the sight of the black billowing robes, the loose measured steps, the purposeful flow of a familiar body gracefully making its way to him.  Only to him.  Closer and closer he drew, the robe's swelling and Severus' black hair, fluid with each step, sent shivers of desire through Harry, his eyes fixed on him, unable to move.

Black hair?  He looked closely and saw that Severus was--young--as young as when they were first joined.   Looking down at his own hands, he saw the blue-veined hands of his old age and in that moment sadly realised this was only a dream.

"Well, not entirely a dream," Severus said standing before him.  "Welcome to the outskirts of the Hinterlands."

"You're real?"  Harry asked, stunned.

"Well, no not really real--yet.  Consider this a type of "Limbo" I think the Muggle theists call it."

Harry reached out a hand to touch Severus' face, mystified as to why he had made no move before this to make contact with him.  His hand passed right through his face and out the other side.  He quickly pulled back his hand, staring at it--he felt oddly disjointed, surreal even, but definitely frustrated, angry even.

Looking longingly at Harry, Severus said, "And, that's why I didn't even try."  Choking with emotion, his eyes brimming, he continued, "Albus warned me this would happen.  Stupid git forgot to mention how much it would hurt."

"Albus is here?" he asked.

"Fortunately or unfortunately depending on whether he's being useful, or a right pain in the arse.  Nothing changes here, just--what we are, not--who we are," he added cryptically.

"Where is here?"

"I'll forgive you your lapse of listening to me.  I really should know better by now.  Albus is still an ass and you're still inattentive.  We are in the Hinterlands, surely someone taught you about that."

"Well, it's been mentioned, but it IS only a legend.  I mean no one ever comes back to sell their story to Witches Weekly."   Surreal, this was definitely surreal.

"Probably not a bad thing, adds spice to life wondering whether you are going to go to the Hinterlands or the Underworld, which by the way, really is a myth."

"So I'm dead?"

"Hmm.  I am, but you're not quite there yet.  This is not the true hinterlands, pay attention!  Limbo?  Ring any bells?"

"Yeah, yeah, I remember, but as a mere mortal, I tend to forget these things."

Severus threw his hands up into the air and with a joyful shout to the heavens cried, "Finally!  Finally, he remembers his proper place in the universe.  Only took you a hundred years or so."

With a derisive snort, Harry said "Uh huh, and who was it who told me one night to 'Stop--Stop, I'm only a man!'?

"If memory serves, you were doing something one could not expect even the gods to tolerate for long," he said with hunger.

Raising an eyebrow, Harry said, "So you hated it?"

"Oh stop it!  Even with eternal life, I am not sure I would survive you doing that again."  Severus exclaimed, admitting defeat.

"Speaking of everlasting life, why are we here?" Harry asked, puzzled.

"Do you remember transferring the Wards to Colin and Dana?"

"Do I ever, I didn't think there for a while we were going make it."

"Well, we didn't.  Not completely, that is.   That's the problem."




Intermission Six:
The Castle Always Did Like You Better

Harry felt an odd sense of dejavu standing in the center of Severus' office, formerly Dumbledore's.  This place was the apex of the Wards.  All the furniture had been cleared out of the room, a large circle inlaid into the floor revealed under the dark, soft Persian rugs Severus favored.

When Albus had been alive, they had drawn a circle on the floor to fix the Wards, but in subsequent years, as the Wards had grown and the power poured into them had increased and become more volatile, Harry had cast an enchanted ring to protect them better when they had worked.  The setting of the Draconus Ward with the Earth Stone had permanently fixed the ring into the floor and it became the portal from which they worked and accessed the magic of the castle.  Unlike older days, the Wards responded to only them and after one almost disastrous try with spell-sharing Aurors, they had always worked together, alone.

Until today, that is.  The frisson of power could be strongly felt in the circle.  Colin, Dana, Severus, and Harry stood in the center.  Months of research and planning had gone into this day, this one casting; the transfer of the Wards from Severus and Harry to Colin--and his wife.

It had been a bitter pill to swallow, but Colin had finally been convinced that he, alone, was not strong enough to take the Wards.  They would have to do it the same way Harry and Severus had, one as the Headmaster, Keeper of the Wards--one for the castle, Keeper of the Stone.  The Wards had been inadvertently set-up this way and would need to be continued in this manner.  Colin was loath to let Dana anywhere near this kind of power, not because he did not want to share, but because he loved her dearly and wanted her to come to no harm.

In one giant leap of faith, Severus and Harry were counting on Colin and Dana's binding to make the transfer succeed.

Harry had a vision of another time, when Minerva McGonagall, long dead, three spell-sharing Aurors, Filius Flitwick, also long gone, and Severus had stood on the outer edge of the chalk circle with Harry in the middle as the focus, while bit by bit, they had rebuilt Hogwarts' Wards from the ground up.  The day the Wards fell from treachery within, the day Dumbledore died with a dagger piercing his heart, the day Severus and Harry finally defeated the Dark Lord.

Harry shook himself to the present and with a small grin at the look on Severus' face, knew he was thinking of the same thing.  "Shall we get started?  This is going to take a while," Harry had said softly.

"Might as well," Severus said sourly, "A delay won't make it any easier.  Colin--Dana, you know what to do."

"Yes, Severus, we do."  Dana nodded in the quiet way she had.

Colin said, "Though, I do admit to feeling some trepidation--the wandless magic still feels--uncomfortable."  At Severus' raised eyebrow he continued, "I know, I know--it's necessary, how else would we be able to do the transfer when BOTH my hands are required.  Yet--how do we know this will work?"

"We don't, and if it doesn't, we pour as much power as we have into it and MAKE it happen.  We built these Wards; we can take them down if we have to and rebuild them, one by one."  He said this with a measure of confidence, but knew there were Aurors all over Hogsmeade and Hogwarts just in case they failed.  A thorough check of the orrery had augured that this was the best day to do the transfer and the Muggles were auspiciously absent as well.

"Let us begin," Harry intoned, beginning the ritual.

Forming a perfect square in the middle of the circle, Severus, Harry, Colin, and Dana joined hands.  The four in the square began to chant in unison in an ancient tongue:

"First to bridge the Gap, the Plinth," a large stone square morphed up from the floor in the center of the circle stopping when was several inches high the four points of the square pointing at each of them like a compass.  Colin swayed; Harry tightened his grip and they continued.

"Rising from the depths, the Pillar," a strong, round stone column, its top wider than its shaft and hollowed in its center rose from out of the stone Plinth until it was just below waist-height.  With a loud click, felt rather than heard , its wide articulated base bonded with the Plinth.  Severus felt rather than saw Dana lean and tightened his hold on Dana's hand.

"Closed with Sight, the Portal," a large globe of solid Mage Glass materialised out of thin air and floated above the column before descending, merging with the concave top of the column.  Colin staggered, but never left his place.

"The Plinth, the Pillar, and the Portal--Sealed with the Signs of Power."  From the top of the column wrapping around the globe, the symbols of the Four Houses of Hogwarts—the Badger, the Lion, the Eagle, and the Snake emerged and insinuated themselves into the base of the globe, surrounding it and anchoring it into place.  The snake of Slytherin was the last to set and it rose, hissing at them, before entwining itself over all the symbols of the other houses like a protective arm around a lover.

This was the key: ALL Headmasters of Hogwarts after Gryffindor had been Slytherin for this reason--the Earth Stone of Hogwarts, the source of all its power, had been laid by Slytherin.  Only those of his house could control it.  Severus and Harry had determined a long time ago that Slytherin's blood ran strongly through Harry's veins as well as Gryffindor's, which was what had confounded the Sorting Hat all those years ago.  Dana's blood was similarly mixed.

They waited, each concentrating on the spell while the globe began to glow, brighter and brighter until it steadied into a brilliant radiance.  For the first time since they'd started, they separated hands.

Severus stepped up to the globe, placed his feet on the point of the Plinth, and put his hands on the Globe, saying, "From Me comes the Headmaster, The Keeper of the Wards, The Giver."  The globe flashed a brilliant green.

Harry stepped up to the globe, placed his feet on the point of the Plinth, and put his hands on the Globe, fingers brushing Severus', saying, "From Me comes the Power, The Keeper of the Stone, The Giver."  The globe flashed a pulsing red.

Colin stepped up to the globe, placed his feet on the point of the Plinth, and put his hands on the Globe, fingers brushing Harry's, saying, "From Me comes the Headmaster, The Future Keeper of the Wards, The Receiver"  The globe flashed a sparkling silver.

Dana stepped up to the globe, placed her feet on the point of the Plinth, and put her hands on the Globe, fingers brushing Severus' and Colin's, saying, "From Me comes the Power, The Future Keeper of the Stone, The Receiver."  The globe flashed a shimmering gold.

Together they continued, "Four, the sign of stability, the houses of this house."

Severus chanted, "Mine, I give unto Thee."  Colin moved his right hand to the center of the globe.  Severus covered it with his.  The castle shivered.

Harry chanted, "Mine, I give unto Thee."  Dana covered Severus' hand with her right hand.  Harry quickly covered hers with his. The castle shuddered.

In unison, they chanted, "We are ONE"

Their joined hands sunk into the crystal.  Down, down, down, they, Plinth, and Column went to the very core, Portalled through the castle to the very heart of Hogwarts, the Earth Stone.

The castle roared!

Severus and Harry, their faces starting to sweat began to weave the spell to transfer the control of the Stone and the Wards to Dana and Colin.  A raw surge of Power flowed through the Givers to the Receivers.

Not enough Power.

Harry, sensing Severus faltering, concentrated and added more of his own considerable power to the joining.  Colin and Dana, at this point, were only the receivers and could do nothing to help them--they could only stand by helplessly and watch the two of them in their titanic struggle with the castle.

The stone, now where the globe had been, was hot to the touch.  Instead of reflecting and transferring the power to Colin and Dana, it was acting like a sponge draining it out of Harry and Severus; something was wrong.

The castle bucked and rumbled around them, clearly not willing to participate.

Severus thought to Harry, [[*This isn't working; we need to pour more power into it. Damn it, I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this, now they're well and truly caught.*]]  Harry nodded his agreement, concentrating too hard to answer.

The Four right hands were touching, overlapping each other on the stone.  Severus shifted towards Harry and then stepped back slightly, hands never leaving the others and let Harry step in front of him.  Severus moved his left hand, hanging loose at his side and wrapped it around Harry's waist until he had melded Harry's body with his own; Harry shuddered at the contact.

[[*Steady--*]] Severus thought to him, then removing his right hand from the crossed hands in the center, he wrapped it around Harry's waist pulling him even closer.  Harry leaned back into him, Severus accepting his weight with a groan.  Harry's right hand was still firmly on the others in the center.  Thus, they became one--the Givers.

The Three right hands were now touching, overlapping each other on the stone.  Colin shifted towards Dana and then stepped back slightly, hands never leaving the others and let Dana step in front of him.  Colin moved his left hand, also hanging loose at his side and wrapped it around Dana's waist until he had melded her body with his own; Dana moaned at the contact.

[[*Quiet now, love--*]] he thought to her, her eyes flying open wide at his words ringing in her head.  Colin felt as surprised as she did.  Colin then removed his right hand from the crossed hands in the center, wrapping it around Dana's waist pulling her even closer.  She leaned back into him, Colin gratefully accepting her soft weight with a sigh.  Dana's right hand was still firmly in contact with Harry's in the center of the Earth Stone.  Thus, they became one--the Receivers.

When all was secure, Harry and Dana, as one, lifted their left hands from their sides and placed them simultaneously--palm down, fingers splayed, on the stone in front of them, rings exposed and in full contact with the stone.  They waited.

Severus and Colin, again as one, removed their left hands from the waists of their bond-mates and held them out over the respective left hands waiting to receive them.  This was the tricky part, the part they'd hoped never to have to do.  Watching Colin closely, Severus nodded once, and then as one they lowered their hands on top of the waiting hands of their lovers and mated the pairs of rings there, scissoring their fingers strongly, pressing the hands into the stone.

A searing jolt of power ran from Severus to Harry, who cried out as it combined with his power, draining him to augment it as it shot across the contact at their joined hands in the center to run on into Dana and then into Colin.  They stood there, transfixed while the magic of their bonds flowed through them, never losing contact with the Stone as the magic they drew on wrestled with magic of the castle, compelling it to release the bond it had with Harry and Severus and transfer it to Dana and Colin.

The castle shuddered; small pieces of stone falling on them. It gave one final wrench, and finally acceding to the sheer strength of the augmented magic, it relinquished the Stone's Power to Dana through Colin.  The Wards woven into the Stone followed, overpowered by the combined strength of their magic.

The castle was not happy with losing Harry and the aftershocks of its displeasure rippled in every decreasing intensity, until with one final shiver, it sighed and acquiesced, resigned; it would obey

Colin was now the new Headmaster, Keeper of the Wards.

Dana was now the Keeper of the Stone.

Severus was just Severus and Harry, well, Harry was really tired and feeling a bit bereft of the loss of the constant white noise that had been an intimate part of him for so many decades.  He could still feel some dim echoes of it and guessed it would just have to be good enough.

Using the last of their reserves, Colin with Dana, ordered the Stone to take them home.  They rose up the same manner they had fallen and with a click, the circle, the plinth, the column, three very tired wizards and one witch returned to their rightful place in the Headmaster's office--Colin's office.  Their hands came out of the globe, now inert Mage Glass, Dana's still under Harry's.

They broke contact.  Severus stumbled and fell to one knee.  Harry felt pretty shaky himself.  Colin was prostrate on the floor, his breathing heavy, but steady, Dana bent over him on her knees, her breathing ragged, the chittering of the castle unsettling in her head.

They'll be all right after some sleep, Harry thought.

" Are you all right? " he asked Severus, kneeling beside him, running his hand through his hair, touching his cheek.

"I'm fine.  Just give me a few minutes to recover--thrice-damned-castle--it always did like you better than me."



Section Two:
Call My Name and Save Me From the Dark

"So, it didn't work?"  Harry asked, the memory clear in his head.

"Obviously not, or we would not be here in this predicament."

"How could we have known?" Harry asked, mystified.

"Well, I didn't, until I was sitting down talking with Albus, here.  When I told him what had happened, he spilled his tea all over his pristine beard when he jumped up yelling 'You can't do that!  Surely YOU remember that!'  At which time I reminded him, none too gently, that he had left that juicy little tidbit and quite a few others out of the "Headmaster's Primer" he--forgot--to give us."

Harry laughed, "Severus, you are an evil man."

He bowed, "Please, save all applause for after the show--we're not through, yet."

"So what do we do now?"

"Once you bear the Wards, you can never leave the castle for any appreciable time.  The castle will let you live as long as it stands.  Albus told me that all the Headmasters before us either died of unnatural causes, circumstance, like Albus, or by their own hand."

"Our situation was even worse.  When we set the Draconus Wards into the Earth Stone, we inadvertently bonded the Stone with our Marriage Bond.  The two were inseparable.  You were right when you said it was almost like the bloody thing was married to us--it was."

"When we used the rings the other day with Colin and Dana, we managed to sever part of that bond, but not all.  When it became--aware--we were leaving, the castle, through the Stone made us ill trying to keep us.  It started with me because I was the weaker of the two of us."   Harry knew how much that admission cost him.

"You know our Marriage Bond will never let us part?" Severus continued.

Harry nodded, "Would you have wanted it to?"

"Never.  Not even before we were joined did I ever want to part with you."

Harry was humbled by his simple words.  It was as if another door was opened in their relationship.

"The spell fought the castle from separating us and is still fighting it.  We were never meant to go separately.  Once I was gone, the spell was compelled to make you follow me.  The castle is unhappy with that and the two are fighting for supremacy.

"That still doesn't tell me what we need to do."

"Do you ever pay attention?"  Severus said exasperated.   With a snort, he continued, "If I can't go back, you will have to come here.  When you die, they both win--Spell and Stone.  You are here, with me--the Spell is happy.  If your body is back there--the castle is happy.  It's a win-win situation for both."

"Except to those we leave behind," Harry softly said, "It's awful being left behind."

Severus considered him a moment, aching he could not touch him; offer him some measure of comfort.  Trying to tell him this with his eyes, he said just as softly, "Yes, there is that.  It has not been exactly as pleasant as it could have been here, you know."

Severus narrowed his eyes as he tracked a sudden new line of thought.  "I am thinking," he said slowly, "If we don't get the Wards transferred fully to Colin, if we don't break the dependence the Stone and the Wards have on our bond, the castle might tear itself apart and the whole region would be vulnerable to invasion.  Our entire world," he continued, awed and afraid of his thoughts, "We still don't know how critical the Hogwart's Stone is to the rest of the Network.  It may ALL collapse."

"That's a sobering thought," Harry said, "What are the odds of it really happening?"

"Considerably better than our odds of ever fully understanding it."  Severus said with a small smile, his equilibrium returning.   "Or, Albus, for that matter."

Warming to the subject Harry asked, "So what the great and wondrous Albus say we need to do now?"

"Setting aside for one moment what Albus says we need to do, there is one thing I think we need to do, if we can."  At Harry's raised eyebrow, he continued, "We need to warn Colin and his wife."

"So, WE get to write the "Headmaster's Primer"?"  At Severus' ironic nod, he asked, "So, oh great and mighty one, just how in the hell do we do that?"

"I thought you'd never ask--"


Harry, lying on the bed in the infirmary felt strangely lucid for someone who was dying.   Severus, this had better work, he thought fiercely.

Looking over to the side, making as little movement as possible--Remus and Arabella, embraced in a large chair--Ron and Hermione curled together, asleep on one bed--Seth asleep in the corner--Colin with his young wife curled up in the other bed.   Why it's a regular party, he thought.

Weak, he dragged himself out of the bed, millimeter by millimeter.  When he finally got his feet over the side of the bed, touching the floor, he made a huge effort and managed to stand.  Swaying, he caught the footboard of the bed to steady himself.  With a deep breath and shuddering from the intense cold in the room, he started to move across the room step by shuffled step.

When he finally could see his friends clearly, he held out his shaking wand hand.  Drawing from deep within himself, he pulled out his powers ready to cast his spell.  As he was about to cast it, Ron and Hermione's eyes opened as one and they gazed at him.  With pleading eyes, he whispered, "Got to get back to Severus," and as understanding and love dawned in their eyes, he let the spell loose "Sopophorus Septus."

In Seth's hands, the spell had only relaxed Harry.  In Harry's hands, even weakened as he was, the spell put all of them into a deep sleep.

Watching them to make sure they were out, Harry turned to leave them room, when it occurred to him he didn't have the strength or the energy to walk all the way to his quarters.  Certainly not undetected.  He thought a minute with ever increasing difficulty as the fever played tricks on him.   In the end, he thought he might just make it back by Floo.

He shuffled off to the nearby fireplace and after the third try managed to grab a handful of the silver powder out of the dragon's horn hung by the fireplace.  Throwing the powder into the fireplace and saying "Harry's Rooms" took about all the energy he had and when the grates flashing by slowed, he spewed out of his fireplace onto the floor, face down, and lay there unmoving.   Damn, that hurt!

Little by little, he pulled himself up and crawling on the floor, which was tilting up at him at an odd angle, he made his way over to the desk Severus used for School business.  It was closer.  He'd never been in it, but he was sure Severus had some pen, parchment, and ink in there.

Upon reaching the desk, he pulled himself up until he was kneeling in front of it, the cold stone floor biting into his shins and feet where they made contact.  Rifling through the papers there with weaker and weaker hands, he finally located a piece of empty parchment Severus had cut off the bottom of one of the surely exhausting letters he always wrote.

Harry smiled fondly at the memory--unrolling those LONG rolls of parchment Severus would send him every day with news of the school, the progress of his students, gossip about the staff, and written between every line the everlasting love he bore him.  He'd read them while lying in bed exhausted from setting the Wards in yet another town, the missive bringing him home, to Severus, making him forget for one small moment where he was and that he was alone.

Alone.  ALONE!  Damn it Potter, get it together.  Just one more, small thing and then you can go home!   The sudden anger he felt at himself gave him enough energy to unstopper the ink, grab the quill and begin to write.

Almost finished with the short note, he was distracted by the rumblings of the castle.   He's started, he thought panicked, writing faster as the castle continued to shake and groan around him.   Finished and unwilling to meet Severus on the floor, he struggled to stand, knocking the inkwell over in his effort.  His last thought before the fever overtook him was that Hermione would appreciate the irony.


"I am so tired.  Why am I so tired?  And cold, oh so cold."  Harry said listlessly.

"The spell is warring with the castle, drawing off your life energy to bring you here.  You're probably having some spectacular convulsions right now—the castle always did like you better."

"I can't touch you, am I condemned to never silence you the only way I know how?  When can I go?  When can I come here?'  he asked petulantly.

"You can't be done writing the letter, we must wait until then."

"Why?  What does it matter?  I am so tired; I just want to come home."

Severus reached out a hand to touch him, thought better of it, and withdrew his hand.  Putting all the emotion he had wanted to convey with his touch into his eyes he said gently, "Harry, just a few minutes more, love, and I promise I will bring you home.  You KNOW it is not fair to make Colin go through this with no warning."

"Yes, yes I know.  I'll try to be patient."  Severus gave a short laugh at this, knowing Harry would never succeed.

Severus gave a sudden start, his eyes unfocusing on something over Harry's shoulder.  He looked concerned and said, "You know they're looking for you even now?  The spell you cast was too weak to hold them off for very long.  You had better hope they don't find you before we are finished--if they touch you, this won't work."

"No," Harry panted, feeling very tired, very--thin.  "I can't feel them.  I can't feel you.  Make me feel, Severus.   Make me--real.  Please," the last said as a prayer.

Severus stepped behind him, his front to Harry's back.  "You're right, we cannot wait any longer; I hope you've had enough time.  Stand up and hold out your arms."

Harry complied and watched incuriously as Severus extended his hands over Harry's.  "If Albus got this wrong, I'm going to kill him." Snape muttered.

"A little late for that, don't you think?"

"Erm--Yes--I suppose it is at that."  Severus chuckled.

He carefully placed his right hand on Harry's right hand.  "I know you can't feel this, but I can--you'll just have to trust me on this."

Harry lifted his head up, looking back at Severus.  "I always have, why should I stop now," he said, his voice serious.

Severus hesitated a moment, his usual sharp retort dying on his lips as the import of Harry's words settled into his head.  He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Harry's cheek, even knowing he could not feel it, "I don't know how to respond to that, let me give it some thought--how about for eternity?" he asked humbly.

"I think I could--live--with that," Harry quipped.  Severus smiled.

"Are you ready?" he asked, all business again.  At Harry's nod, he breathed in his ear, "Now we go home," his left hand settling firmly on Harry's, rings mating.  Harry knew his hand was there--he could see it, but could not feel it.

The surge of power once again flowed through them.  The first thing Harry felt was the heat of the ring on his finger, burning, melting, melding into the ring on Severus' hand.

"I can feel your hand!" he cried with joy.

"Concentrate, Harry.  Don't lose me."  Severus growled

Arms now outstretched like a benediction, Harry felt currents of raw power stirring his robes, his hair, pushing him back, back, back into Severus, the firm body supporting him.  Stunned by his own power, and that of his husband, Harry was transfixed.

Inch by inch, muscle by muscle he became aware of the much loved body behind him, the arms touching him, the soft breath in his ear.  With each passing moment, he felt weaker and weaker as his earthly power left him-- bringing him to life--with Severus.  As his body began to sag, Severus caught him around the waist with their mingled right hands, left hands never separating.  Severus grunted with the combined effort of holding Harry and continuing the flow of the magic.

"One--last--push," he croaked, voice and body strained.  Harry increased his concentration, feeling one life leaving him, feeling the other beginning.

[[*Need more--*]]
[[*Oh god--yes--that's it--*]]
[[*Almost--oh yes--*]]
[[*--Yes--oh yes--THERE--*]]

With a bright flash of light, Harry felt the last of his power drain out of him, the new supplanting the old.  He felt so alive, so strong, so--

"Oh gods, we did it," Harry cried joyously, turning to take Severus into an ardent embrace.  Severus could not get enough of him; Harry never wanted to let him go.  Their lips and hearts met and time stood still.

The spell was gone, spent, but they didn't need it anymore.  They could and would stand on their own.

After an eternity, arms still wrapped around each other, they leaned back enough to see each other--dark burning eyes to blazing green.  "Don't EVER do that to me again," Severus muttered, his lips lowering to find the sensitive spot under Harry's ear.  "It's been torture here without you."

Harry pulled his head away to look at him, incredulous.  "Torture?  Who sat helpless watching you fade away to nothing?  Who left first?"  His eyes filled.  "Who--buried--you?  Who greeted the faces of those you left behind?"  The tears leaked over his lids, falling unchecked down his face.  "You took all of you with you and half of me as well--you left me--alone."

Overcome at last by the whole ordeal, Harry buried his face in Severus' shoulder and purged his sorrow, his fists desperately grasping Severus' robes at his back, shoulders shaking with the force of his emotion.  Severus tightened his hold on Harry's familiar waist, his hand buried in his hair, stroking the nape of his neck.  He willingly accepted Harry's remonstrations and tears, pouring all the love in his soul into him.  Falling to their knees in the warm grass of the Hinterlands, they spent their torment.

Nestling his face even deeper into his neck and shoulder, Harry released all his anguish and distress of the last few days.  Cleansed, he sighed and relaxed into the loving embrace, the tears turning into ones of elation, his hands flat on Severus' back trying to draw out of him all the strength he'd lost.  Severus, his own cheeks wet, ran his hands gently up and down his back.

"It's good to be home," he said softly, lips trailing across Harry's cheek, drying his tears with each soft kiss.

"Home. Home," Harry murmured, hands trailing fire down his spine.  "You've been my only home.  Don't ever go away again--please?"

"I promise."  A searing kiss sealed it.


Harry stood swaying, fevered, alone in the middle of the room, unaware of his surroundings, his face full of ecstasy.  His gaunt body leaned back at an impossible angle, his hands extended part-way away from his body, palms down facing the floor, fingers fully extended.

The castle walls rocked.  Bits of stone and plaster fell from the ceiling as it writhed with the effort to hold him there.

He swayed there an indeterminate time, the heat rising continuously in his body until with a strong flash of light, he arched back in one final convulsion, his face a study of complete triumph.

The castle rumbled and groaned, the very foundations shaking as it ungraciously gave up its struggle.  Harry's lifeless shell crumpled to the floor--a flutter of parchment lying by his hand.

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