Chapter 1 : The Informant
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*A/N* This story is being edited to change one fact. Devlin Potter is now six when we start the story and 9 (almost 10) when he is ‘rescued’. Please be patient with me as I go through the existing chapters and change this. :)
So, here we go:
The end is like the beginning – uncertain.
Devlin Potter felt remarkably empty as the cool air hit his face.
At that moment, he didn’t care that he was being dragged across the ground by the arm that he had moments ago been unable to move, or that there were more of those masked men here. It felt good to see. It felt good to breathe in air that didn’t smell of blood and sweat and fear.
The man dragging him no longer wore his mask, his blond hair glittering under the starry night. He dragged him into a large tent filled with more masked men, all standing quietly by the edges, looking at one man seated in the center.
“Here is the boy, my Lord,” the blond man said, his fingers still digging into the back of Devlin’s neck, forcing him to look at the ground. Devlin was half aware that he would have collapsed if the man let go.
“This is Potter’s boy?” Devlin squeezed his eyes closed against the nausea. The blond man hadn’t liked it when he had thrown up on his shoes and if the blond man was afraid of this man (‘you want to cry now - you just wait until you meet the Dark Lord’)...Devlin swallowed again, fighting the bile back down. It seared at his raw throat.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Well, let go of him, Draco,” the man said, a kind of curiosity at the edges of his voice that sent a shiver up Devlin’s spine.
The blond man threw him down and Devlin crashed to his knees onto the stone floor with an unpleasant sound. Even on his knees with his eyes closed, he felt his world sway. The cold floor sent a chill up his entire body and the last-minute healing prickled unpleasantly on his skin, hiding the bruises that he still felt deep in his bones.
He flexed the muscles in his neck slightly, feeling the bruise from the man’s grasp but also feeling his freedom from the constraint. It felt as if it had been forever since he had been able to move his body anyway he pleased. He twisted his neck a bit, still keeping the floor in view.
Instinct told him to keep his head bowed, but something else urged him to look up and see the danger. His father would want to see the danger...so Devlin raised his eyes to those he felt boring most into him. They were red, darker than a flame, colder then the blood that had moments ago been dripping down the side of his face.
"Do you know where you are?" The red-eyed man's voice was clipped and slightly uninterested; he twirled his wand gracefully across his fingertips, inviting the concern of when, and to whom, it might strike. Devlin realized that he had been right to defy instinct; this man was disgusted by weakness. Devlin's internal instincts, driven by the amber eyes that lurk behind his green, shift to accommodate this realization.
"The center of your plots?" His father had often spoken about this man's plots and how he always found himself at the center of them.
"One could say that," he said, the tip of his lip twitching into a feature that followed all the right movements of a 'smile' but resembled no smile Devlin had ever seen. He continued to twirl the wand, the movement now more absent than purposeful. "Do you know my name?'
Devlin did not know much about this man; his father did not like Devlin listening to 'grown up' conversations and it was always a grown up conversation when this man was brought up. Still, Devlin could not suppress a feeling of triumph, because his father had always made it a point that Devlin knew this man's real name. Maybe it was the answer he wanted but did not expect Devlin to know. He stood up.
When the blond man had looked at him for the first time properly he had called Devlin ‘worthless’. Devlin had been on the floor screaming, at the time. He hadn’t known the word, but he knew what ‘worth’ and ‘less’ meant, and he had sensed that when the man had put them both together he had meant something about Devlin wasn’t ‘good enough’.
So he had to do better with this man. He would do everything right and maybe this man would see that Devlin was worth something.
"Tom Riddle," he said confidently, his whole body shaking with the anticipation that they would be impressed with his knowledge.
The red eyes flickered, the twirling wand stopped, and his mouth became straight and pale. Now Devlin was looking into the tip of Voldemort's wand like a Muggle would a gun's barrel.
His eyes snapped open and his body hurled itself upright in the bed without his conscious decision. He clutched the down blanket in his hands, knuckles white. His brow was hot and feverish and his eyes, normally a deep green, were the color of a wheat field in summer sun. He did not scream. He never screamed for Lord Voldemort. Screaming was always how it ended and this particular boy was terrified of the ending.
Harry Potter was no longer so Golden. He was a man who had loved and lost, won brilliantly and failed miserably, felt an inch away from death and a mile above Heaven. Yet there was one thing that had never changed: Harry Potter hated Death Eaters. Sometimes he thought he hated them more than he hated Voldemort, because each had a choice and all the hundreds of them chose to be on the side of evil.
It was with this hate in his blood that he spun around to face one of them. Harry thought he hated them the most in battle - when their curses and taunts created a strange, pounding anger in his chest that made him want to lash out at them, controlled only by the knowledge that around him his team felt the same.
“If you’re going to fight me, curse me to my face,” he shouted, stalking towards the masked man. For a moment he thought he saw a flash of surprise and regret cross the man’s eyes, but he shook the idea from his head. If there was regret it was simply because he was afraid of losing to Harry. If there was surprise then it was only because he hadn’t known he’d been up against Harry Potter.
Harry would make him regret it - he always did.
The Death Eater flew high into the air, landing hard some distance away. Harry raced after the fallen man. He might have left him there, his head bleeding, his eyes closed with unconsciousness, except that another Death Eater would simply rescue him and Harry wouldn't let thathappen.
He kicked the Death Eater onto his stomach and bound his hands behind his back with specialized cuffs that would stop anyone but an Auror from moving him. He looked for one more moment at the fallen man, his face now in the dirt, and scowled.
He hated them. He wanted to do to them as they had done to others, but he knew he couldn't. Harry Potter wasn't supposed to want to touch such spells with a ten foot pole, even if it was to torture Death Eaters.
The thought always proved to him, over and over again, how far he had traveled from innocence.
It was more beneficial to the cause to be Golden Potter than to follow through on his desires. People trusted him, people believed him - and it made things easier. Harry Potter wasn't so Golden anymore, but he was still as much a Hero as ever.
Suddenly, another Death Eater landed next to his captive, but this one had been levitated much more gently. Ron came up beside him, his captive already bound.
"We're almost done here. We're rounding the stranglers up - they're not really strong."
"It is always the weak ones left over," Harry said, turning around to eye his team as they captured, bound, and lined the remaining conscious Death Eaters up.
In a moment they would begin to walk down the queue of Death Eaters and remove their mask. Harry paused, knowing fully he should be the one to do that job, but also knowing it was his least favorite responsibility. He did not like walking down the line and pulling the skull-like mask from each of their faces, to reveal the human behind it - the human who could not be human at all to have done such heartless acts.
"I'll do it," Ron offered, and before Harry could argue otherwise, Ron had walked off towards the team and the Death Eaters.
There were still these two men, too badly injured to wake up with a spell. Behind him, his team was searching each Death Eater's person after removing their mask. He could hear them, disapperating the prisoners one at time. Harry crouched down before these two men and did the same, but left their masks on. He pried their wands from their hands and then moved on to search the pockets of their robes.
In one mans robe he found a small folded piece of paper, blank on both sides. He would have simply thrown it aside, except that Hermione had drilled into his head over the years to always test such things with a revealing spell. So he did.
Colored ink rose up onto the surface of the paper, swirling around until a picture formed. A picture of a boy, lying still on his back, his eyes closed, his mouth limp. There was a bruise on the cheek facing the camera.
Harry hardly ever froze anymore in shock - he was always too afraid to stop. Right now, he felt like he might have stopped breathing, or perhaps his heart had finally decided it had had enough.
He wanted to close his eyes. To hide from the photo of the boy he had once known, loved, and lost. Devlin. His son.
Harry lunged for the man as emotions, so all-consuming that he didn't think he could ever identify them, exploded inside of himself and sent his magic on edge, humming all around him. He was crouched over the man now, his wand pointed at his skull. The Healers wouldn't want him woken, but Harry didn't care at the moment. He cast the spell, sure he had his son’s murderer in his grasp.
His eyes were like stained glass of blue and gold, each equally light, each just as striking.
"My wand is against you neck," Harry said, deadly, when the Death Eater dared to try and move away. Those blue and gold eyes, still unfocused and dazed, found his green.
"I'm not fighting," the Death Eater said, but Harry ignored him. Harry wasn't the Hero right now and he wasn't about to play by the rules. Of this, he was certain, the Wizarding World would understand. And if they didn’t - well fuck them.
Far behind him Harry could hear Ron’s faint shout of “Harry! Stop!” and his running footsteps, but Harry didn’t care. He had his son’s murderer...finally.
"I don't care," he said, his voice soft, as if they were simply having a conversation. It was only when Harry felt this all-consuming rage that he was ever able to speak like this. An oddness bloomed in his chest and his magic always flared. "All I care about is the photo from your robe."
Ron was nearer now, and Harry struck his wand through the air, erecting a barrier that Ron couldn’t pass. He wasn’t about to be interrupted.
The Death Eater's eyes were still dazed, but for a brief moment, he seemed to gain enough self-awareness to look confused. Harry grabbed him by his robe neck, dragging him upward. With his wand hand, Harry unfolded the paper, intending to show the little boy, so clearly dead in the photo, to the man.
Green, like the color of forest foliage in the early evening, met his eyes. Harry froze. The boy's eyes had opened. For one flickering moment, Harry felt something he hadn't in a long time: hope.
The oddness in his chest crept away as it always did when he felt at all happy, and as it did, so did the humming magic. Ron stumbled, having been trying to ram through the now gone shields. Before he could reach them, however, Harry grabbed onto the Death Eater and disappeared.
He reappeared in front of Sirus' house.
He knew he couldn't go to the Ministry, not when he didn't intend to follow the rules and he knew he couldn't go home - not with Emma and Alexandra there. He dragged the Death Eater up the front walkway. If there was one thing Harry had gotten good at during the war, it was traveling with Death Eaters.
"Harry?" Sirius called down from the upper floor. His wards would have told him it was Harry, plus one, to have come through. Harry waited for Sirius to reach him, who paused mid-step on the last stair. "Harry?"
"May I?" Harry asked, gruffly.
Harry unclenched his wand hand and sent the photo over to Sirius with a simple spell. Sirius caught the object and his own eyes turned into ice.
"Lets use the office," he said, leading the way. Harry secured the Death Eater to a chair, his cuffs still in place, and then he began to pace. The Death Eater was looking around, infuriatingly calm. Harry’s all consuming rage was gone and now reason was seeping into his thoughts, making him pause.
"Tell me about that photo," Harry commanded, his hands on either side of the chair, his body leaning forward, too close for the Death Eater to be comfortable. But uncomfortable or not, he didn't breath a word.
"I can be cruel too, you know," he growled, pointing his wand at the Death Eater. He pulled the mask off, roughly, to reveal the human. He had dark hair that fell into his blue and gold eyes. His face was angular and handsome. Harry had never seen him before.
"Anyone can be cruel, Mr. Potter," the Death Eater said, his voice oddly raspy.
"I can use any curse I'd like - no one will come and save you."
The Death Eater blinked calmly.
"He will try, but I am sure you have brought me somewhere outside of his grasp."
"He never rescues Death Eaters like you - if you were important at all, we'd know you already."
The Death Eater actually chuckled.
"You think too little of me, Mr. Potter," he said simply, leaning back in the chair to give the appearance of comfort. "Obviously I am important to you and if I am important to you, don't you think I am equally important to him?"
"Tell me about the photo," Harry demanded, jabbing the man with his wand and whispering a shock hex. The Death Eater leapt in his chair at the hex, all appearances of comfort gone.
Harry growled with impatience and anger, but grabbed the photo from Sirius to show the Death Eater. The boy’s eyes were closed and Harry felt that hopelessness consume him again - perhaps he had simply dreamed the green eyes.
“Ah, that photo,” he paused, as if considering, as his eyes scoured the little photograph. Then, abruptly, he looked away, beyond the piece of paper. “Tell me about your photo first,” he said instead, his eyes motioning to the picture Alexandra had ordered for Sirius’ birthday years ago, settled atop Sirius’ desk. Harry had almost forgotten about the photo. Emma was still a baby in the photo, being held by Alexandra. Harry and Sirius’ were leaning together at the shoulders, Harry’s other arm around Alexandra’s waist. In front of Harry and Sirius was a grinning little boy with dark hair and forest green eyes. Devlin.
Harry pushed the photo down onto the desk so that the Death Eater could no longer see the picture. No Death Eater deserved to see Harry likethat. This Death Eater didn’t deserve to see his Devlin again. He turned back to the man, more furious than before. He was just about to threaten him again, when he spoke.
“He looked happy there - I’d never seen him look happy like that.”
Harry’s blood turned to ice.
“Happy? Why would he be happy? You tortured him and killed him! When would he have been happy?” Harry rasped out, barely able to speak through his suddenly constricted throat. “Why did you have his photo?”
“I can’t remember,” the man said, attempting and failing to shrug. Harry wanted to punch him.
“Then think harder,” Harry said, getting close again, “or I’ll make you remember with a couple drops of truth serum!”
There was silence between them while Harry remained mere inches from the Death Eater’s face.
“It was a long time ago. I do not recall when it was taken or why it was taken.”
Harry saw red. Recall when it was taken? There was only a week and a half in which it could have been taken! His son was killed.
“I took it from another Death Eater,” the Death Eater said after a moment of staring into space. “He wasn’t supposed to have it at all.”
“I cannot say. Such would be a discussion of direct orders that were revealed under confidence...” Which meant Voldemort, or some other Death Eater had made him take an oath. An oath about his son. He felt the ice prickle beneath his skin like a thousand little needles.
“Then tell me something you can!” Harry demanded. For a long moment the Death Eater simply stared at him.
“He wasn’t dead, when it was taken,” the Death Eater finally said. “Isn’t that what you wanted me to tell you?”
Harry had almost believed he had dreamed it the first time, but when he looked again, those forest green eyes were staring up, wide open...blinking. Harry brushed his thumb over the little boy’s face. His son...perhaps days or hours or minutes before his death.
“So this was before you killed him...”
For a long moment the Death Eater simply stared at him, the intensity of his regard disturbing and oddly familiar to Harry. Then, slowly, the Death Eater let out a long sigh.
“Prove to me that he is yours,” he said slowly, cautiously. Harry almost punched him. Prove Devlin was his? But something in the man’s eyes kept his hand on the side of the chair, instead. “And I will tell you about what happened to him.”
“Prove it?” Sirius rasped out, aghast.
“Yes,” the Death Eater said, as if he were protecting a secret that he wasn’t about to entrust to just anyone. As if Harry’s proof was his cost for betraying Voldemort. Harry stared hard at him, knowing he shouldn’t prove anything to this man - he was the one in control, but also feeling desperate enough to do anything it would take. “His eyes, Mr. Potter,” the Death Eater said after a while, as if he were trying to tell something to Harry.
“How do you want me to prove it?” He asked carefully, his voice dead, his hand trembling around the photo.
“With a memory,” he said softly. “Sometime when you felt love for the boy, deeply.”
“There are far more accurate ways than that,” Harry cut back. He didn’t want this man, who had possibly murdered his son, to see his baby boyagain.
“The Dark Lord is strong enough to manipulate magic,” the Death Eater rasped nervously, “but there is one thing he cannot grasp well enough to manipulate at all.” His eyes roamed around the room and he swallowed hard. “He doesn’t understand love. Prove to me that the boy is yours and prove to me that you are who you appear to be.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at the Death Eater - he seemed smarter than most Death Eaters. He was worried that Harry wasn’t actually Harry? He also seemed to know Voldemort more than most...meaning he spent a lot of time around the man. It was the only reason that he would feel Voldemort would take the time to trick him.
Harry nodded curtly and flicked his gaze up at Sirius.
“I have a Pensieve in the library,” he said and went to fetch the devise. Harry and the Death Eater stared silently at each other until he returned.
He could have picked any memory with his son in it, because Harry was certain he had loved the boy deeply every minute he had been around him, but he chose a memory in which Devlin looked most like the boy in the photo - just so there wouldn’t be any confusion. He shivered as he pulled it out of his mind, like he was losing part of himself.
It spread across the still surface of the Pensieve slowly, seeping downward. Harry turned to the Death Eater and yanked him upward, shoving him hard into the memory, then he went as well.
The Death Eater wasn’t bound in the Pensieve - he flexed his hands as the liquid memory built around them, half muted colors and eerily sharp sounds. They were in the hallway at Godric’s hallow, the memory Harry standing before them. He was hanging up his coat after work.
“Daddy?” It was Devlin’s voice, coming from the kitchen. Both Harry’s smile. The Death Eater’s eyes widened as if in recognition.
“In the hallway, Devlin,” the memory Harry called out, and all of a sudden there was the drumming of quick little feet.
Harry watched the Death Eater as his brow furrowed, watching the boy. Trying to tell if he was the real Devlin, it seemed. Meanwhile the little boy has thrown himself at his father, his hands covered with flour and what looked suspiciously like frosting on the tip of his nose.
“Daddy - I need to tell you something!”
“Alright...but have you been baking?”
“It’s a secret, Daddy,” the little boy cheered, pulling himself up on Harry’s chest until his little lips were by his ear. “I learned a new trick,” he whispered, as if it were the most wonderful secret in the world. The Pensieve made the boys words loud enough for them both to hear.
Harry’s green gaze went to the kitchen doorway, where Alexandra was waiting, obviously eager to see Harry’s reaction to their son’s ‘trick’ as well.
Harry kissed Devlin’s nose, taking away the frosting and pretending not to have heard about a trick.
“Oh, that is good frosting. Did you make it? Is that cake I smell?”
“Yes, with Mummy,” the boy said, waving his hand dismissively. “But that’s not important,” he added, nodding soberly. “My trick is better.”
“I donno, Devlin...you know how I love cake.” Harry tickled the boy a bit, but he didn’t giggle, instead he bit the inside of his cheek, determined to remain sober-faced until Harry gave his ‘trick’ the attention it deserved.
“Maybe my trick is about cake,” he said, his little face scrunching up in his impersonation of annoyance. The Death Eater smiled here and the real Harry almost hauled him out of the memory by his throat, but he made himself calm down.
“Oh, you didn’t tell me that!” Harry cheered, bouncing the boy a bit.
“That’s because I told you it was better,” he said and his eyes rolled just how Sirius’ did whenever one of his jokes had been ignored.
“I was just teasing you Devlin,” Harry said finally, ruffling the boys hair and kissing his cheek. “I really do want to see your trick. I bet it’s way better than the cake.”
“Your teasing takes up too much time,” Devlin said with a pout, but then he was wiggling to be put down and bouncing on the balls of his feet. “You ready?”
“You swear? Uncle Sirius said he was ready but then he fell down. You’re not gonna fall down, are you?”
Devlin motioned for Harry to get closer to him, so Harry crouched down in the hallway and watched as Devlin cupped his hands together and then blew into them. Magic.
Even in his memory, Harry could remember the exact way Devlin’s magic had felt. It had been sharper and cleaner than all his accidental magic and more beautiful than anything Harry had ever felt.
When the child opened his hands, there was a lily settled in his palms, shimmering. Even now, watching the memory, Harry swallows hard and tries to hold back his tears.
“I made you a special lily flower since you always look sad at regular ones,” he said sweetly, coming up to him so that the flower was right below Harry’s chin.
“Oh, Devlin,” he had said, breathless. The Death Eater was looking intently at the little boy, frowning. Harry kept his regard on the Death Eater, knowing if he looked at his son now, he would cry. The memory was full of love, so deeply that it saturated the Pensieve environment.
“Mummy said it was Grandma’s birthday today, so I told her we had to have a party. Will you come see all of my lilies, Daddy?”
Harry allowed the child to pull him towards the kitchen. There were shimmering lilies everywhere - in Emma’s hair, one dancing before her as she giggled, on the table, floating above the table, and on the cake. Sirius and Remus were settled at the table too.
Without a word, Harry lifted the boy and simply held him close, breathing into his hair and hiding his tears of joy and pride and love.
The Pensieve swirled into emptiness and released them. Harry glared at the Death Eater.
“Is that enough proof?” Harry sneered.
“He was so happy,” the Death Eater said, breathless and oddly taken aback. “He looked like such a child...”
“He was a child. Just a little boy, who didn’t know anything about death or torture!” This was Sirius, his blue eyes ablaze. Sometimes Harry thought that Sirius and he were the worst off, never completely able to move beyond Devlin’s death.
“I proved it - now you tell me what you know,” Harry said, his voice hard and unyielding.
The Death Eater licked his lips and swallowed. He pulled himself up straighter in his chair, an awkward gesture since his hands were still bound behind him.
“I wasn’t there...when they tortured him,” he began softly. “But...I heard...that he wouldn’t scream. Even under Crucio, he refused to scream.” He fidgeted. Harry collapsed against the desk. Sirius hid his face behind a hand. “When he passed out...the Dark Lord thought he was dead, but he wasn’t and he said ‘heal the boy, I want to make him scream.’ It took months for the boy to heal-”
Harry felt his heart quicken as his head realized an impossibility with the man’s words.
“and it was while he was healing that I met him first. He was a strange boy - he said he was six, but he might have been seven or eight. He introduced himself as Devlin, but then said that wasn’t his real name and he was looking for a new one. He always knew what you wanted to hear, but he didn’t always say it. He would watch you and you felt like he was memorizing you - and he was. He could copy things - behaviors, spells, words, accents...anything. If he saw it, he could do it. He...he impressed the Dark Lord.”
“You’re lying,” Harry broke in, before he let himself believe the man’s words. “Devlin was killed within two weeks of his arrival...we buried the body he sent back.”
The Death Eater looked up at him and there was a sadness in his eyes that Harry did not expect to see looking back at him from such a person.
“Yes, you buried a body,” the Death Eater said, “but not your sons.”
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