Weeks of Kindness (corvus_coronis) wrote in thematic_hp,
Weeks of Kindness

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Late entry for Round 1 - "When You Are ready" (PG 13+)

Title: When You Are Ready
Author: corvus_coronis
Characters: Harry Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Severus Snape
Rating: PG 13+
Word Count: 3,400 + words
Genre: Gen, Drama, Post-War
Summary: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it ... as Wormtail finds when he comes to Harry asking for perks.
Warnings: Mention of Best (non-graphic, Animagus), Mental torture (magical), Scat (animal, non-erotic), Eta: Implied character death. I'll also remind viewers that this is a Gen fic, not a slash or any other kind ship. If you're after hot mansex, there are plenty of good ship fics around ;p
Disclaimer: The characters & settings in this picture belong to J.K.Rowling, not me. I'm making no money out of this, neither is any Copyright infringement intended.
Challenges: This is a late entry for Round 1 of the thematic_hp Fanfiction Challenge - Forced Marriage or Bonding, Prompt #3:“As time goes by, an unfulfilled life debt becomes a slave bond. The constraints of the life debt force Peter Pettigrew to become Harry Potter's slave; to lose his magic and obey everything Harry says. However, even though Harry hates Peter, he has never been comfortable with slavery.”
Notes: Thanks to sscrewdriver, accio_kilt and lordhellebore for the Beta, Brit-Pick & general useful suggestions.

When You Are Ready

Harry knew Pettigrew was at his office door before he’d even heard the knock; such had become the slave bond that had formed between him and the other wizard. He didn’t enjoy it, even though he knew it was that bond alone that kept Wormtail in his power. However deeply he loathed the verminous little man, being his absolute master felt like being permanently tied to an Inferius, and thus he hated it.

Turning back to a battered old textbook on his desk, Harry returned his quill to one of the few patches of blank parchment left in its pages; a tiny patch of margin that forced him to write in a much smaller hand than he was normally comfortable with, but he didn’t mind.

‘Pettigrew’s arrived,’ he wrote, ‘So I’ll have to put you away for a little while.’

The ink instantly faded when he finished writing, and different words in a different hand appeared in their place.

‘Do so. Inform me immediately when he has made his requests.’

“I will, sir,” Harry said quietly, slipping a faded green ribbon bookmark between the parchment leaves, whilst refraining from affectionately stroking the cover… since the Professor had always been uncomfortable with such familiarities. Securing the book inside a drawer with a Locking Charm, he returned to his chair. Facing the door, he said; “I order you to enter.”

Wormtail slunk into the room, bowing his scabby, balding head in an ingratiating way that made Harry’s fists twitch beneath the desk.

“Your Orders, sir?” he asked, in that squeaking voice that Harry had grown to hate so much.

“You know why I called you here,” Harry said, “so stop acting like I’ve forgotten that little discussion we had last Thursday. You wanted to re-negotiate the conditions of your servitude, so I’ll need to know exactly what it is that you want from me. Be aware though that not everything may be granted to you, since a lot depends on what this kind of bond will allow me to give you, as well as…”

“Oh, I know, I know that very well,” Wormtail replied slimily, watching Harry from the corner of his eye; “I too am aware that the bond imposes certain… obligations upon the Master as well as the Servant. That’s why I was wondering…”

“Quiet!” Harry snapped, to which Wormtail cringed.

“Before you interrupted me,” Harry continued, “I was explaining that I’ll need to know exactly what all your wishes are, because there are certain things the bond won’t allow me to grant… and I’ll also need to take what I think you deserve into account.”

“Deserve?” Wormtail blathered, “Deserve?! Harry Pot … sir, have I not served you with total obedience for nearly thirty three years?! Surely by now I have done more than enough to earn myself a few basic comforts? A tiny bit of freedom… maybe even a little bit of my magic back again? It would not be too much to ask…”

“Does thirty three years of housework, with good food and a comfortable bed provided, make up for the lives of my mother and father?” Harry retorted. “Or those of the Muggles you killed, or Cedric Diggory’s life, or the years of hell my Godfather endured in Azkaban … for a crime you, not he, committed?”

When Wormtail gave no reply, he continued, “And I don’t think it will make up for what I’d had to go through with the Dursleys either, nor what happened after you resurrected Voldemort… what’s the matter, Wormtail – still don’t like to hear that name?”

“It still… I mean I don’t feel comfortable hearing it said, that’s all,” the little wizard squeaked, rubbing at a reddened patch of scar tissue on his forearm where the Dark Mark had once been.

“Fine,” said Harry, “but it doesn’t make me uncomfortable, so you will just have to keep putting up with it. Now, as I was saying, I don’t think what you have done so far comes anywhere close to paying off your life debt…”

“But I saved your life!” Wormtail insisted, “I warned you when the Dark Lord was going to ambush you, you were able to get away… surely that was worth something!”

“You dropped me one little warning note,” Harry said, “and then you ran away and hid, when you could have stayed and fought with us. You had a chance to clear your debt and earn your freedom. Maybe Ginny, Percy and Professor Snape could have survived if they’d had a little more help than I’d been able to give them back then. Either way,” Harry continued, “you chose to take the easy way out. You’ve made your own bed, so you’ve got to lie in it.”

“So what are you going to do to me now?” Wormtail asked.

“You asked for more freedom, more comforts, and some of your magic back,” Harry answered, “and whether or not you actually deserve any of this, since I’m getting very weary of your complaints, I may be inclined to grant you a few concessions.”

“I … I never!” Wormtail exclaimed, “Sir, how can you accuse me of such a thing, I have barely ever whispered a single word out of line to you!”

“Only because I ordered you not to in the first place,” Harry replied; “But my order does not prevent you from having your own thoughts, because I won’t stoop low enough to do something like that. However, I’ve learnt my Legilimency well enough to know what’s been on your mind every time I’ve had to put up with your company.”

Noticing the sudden blush on Wormtail’s flabby features, he added; “No, and I haven’t been looking into those kind of thoughts either. As I said, I’ve got some sense of decency. Now, I’ve got things to do and I don’t want to waste any more of my time. You will now tell me anything else that you want… completely and truthfully… and then after you’ve finished, you’ll go and help the House-elves clean the boys' toilets.”

Wormtail’s blush deepened, knowing that ever since his unfulfilled life debt to Harry had degenerated into a slave bond, any order of Harry’s that he disobeyed could magically rebound, killing him as slowly and surely as if he’d broken the Unbreakable Vow itself. So, in a quavering voice, he began to inform his master about his most secret desires, thinking that he’d little other choice...

* * *

When the interview was over, and Wormtail dismissed, Harry tapped a drawer of his office desk, just below the one where the Professor lived. He took out a bottle of Old Ogden’s, and poured himself a generous shot before downing it. He wanted to converse with the Professor again, but first he needed to let his head clear a little; some of Wormtail’s fantasies took a little bit of getting over, now he’d heard them all. He hadn’t expected to be obeyed that totally.

It took most of half an hour before Harry felt he was ready. Silently casting a Counter Charm, he pulled the drawer open, and lifted the book from its bed of green and silver silk; the remnants of an old Slytherin House flag that he’d salvaged from Professor Snape’s office when Hogwarts had survived its last attack.

Opening the pages, he removed the bookmark and summoned a quill. He then began to write:

‘I expect you would’ve overheard what he said, Professor. I don’t think I’ll be able to give him everything he’s going to need to shut him up.’

‘I can see no reason why you should even try to do so,’ the book promptly replied. ‘Let him find a way to satisfy his depravities in the sewers, if he must.’

‘So you do think it’ll be a good idea to give him back that ability, then?’ Harry asked.

‘It will be wise to impose appropriately stringent conditions upon him,’ the book wrote back, ‘and I expect that you will have already outlined a number of tasks for him as well?’

‘Yes,’ Harry wrote, ‘I have. Can you advise me on what conditions I should use?’

‘Most certainly,’ replied the book.

Harry paused for a moment, and then added, ‘Sir, you have to know I’m still very sorry for those times I’d made myself hate you as much as I’d done ...’

‘Would you be so kind as to keep to the point of what we are doing!’ The book retorted, before Harry’s writing had even finished, ‘though I must also admit that I can fully appreciate the great degree of irritation you have been experiencing from his presence. Although…’ the book began to run out of writing space, so the letters momentarily faded.

‘… I can detect in you some compassion towards Pettigrew, though’ it continued afresh; ‘do not allow this to unduly influence your judgement. It will serve nobody well, Pettigrew included, to become excessively lenient with him.’

‘Yes sir,’ Harry replied, ‘what is your advice for me, please?’

* * *

Harry put the textbook back in the drawer, warding it in addition to using the Locking Charm. He had conversed for nearly an hour with the Professor. Between them they’d covered every risk and loophole they could think of, and the Professor was now in need of some rest. He knew that with the elves’ help Wormtail should be finished with the toilets by now; so he’d sent an elf with a note ordering him to shower, change into clean robes, and return to his office.

Harry looked down at the drawer he had just locked, and touched the handle. It had been two years after the war had finished when he discovered the book’s secret. Voldemort, suspecting Professor Snape’s loyalties, had forced him to make it into a Horcrux, placing a fragment of Snape’s newly torn soul inside it for him to control and use. Knowing Voldemort, he’d likely planned to do away with the rest of Snape the moment his usefulness had expired.

With many of the school ground Wards diminished after Dumbledore’s death, Wormtail – ordered under the threat of death to retrieve an object of value to Snape, had found it easy to slip into the castle, find the Room of Requirement, and seize an old Advanced Potions textbook he’d discovered. By the time it had found it’s way into Harry’s hands, Snape had been physically dead… along with Ginny and Percy, for many months.

Finding Snape’s soul still alive in the book had been a bittersweet moment; it took Harry a week before he could even open it without breaking down. As far as he knew, the rat still believed that the book had been destroyed along with Riddle Manor, and that was how he preferred things to stay. Professor Snape’s life was now a strictly kept secret between Harry, Madam Pomfrey, and the Headmistress ...

His reverie was interrupted by a jarringly loud rap on his office door; Wormtail was back.

“Enter,” he said.

He crept into the room, greeting Harry with an obsequious grin that flashed his still filthy teeth. Harry reminded himself to order him to brush them more often.

“Your orders, sir?” Wormtail twittered.

“You know why I called you,” Harry replied, irritated; “to inform you about my decisions regarding your servitude to me.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Firstly,” Harry said, “I will grant you back just one of your abilities…” taking a deep breath, and aiming his wand at the other wizard, he said; “Peter Pettigrew, I command that you regain your Animagus power!”

A flash of blue light issued from the end of Harry’s wand, enveloping Wormtail. He shivered for a moment at the sensation of magic returning his body, and could not suppress a dirty-toothed grin from spreading across his face. Harry’s heart sank a little at the sight of the rat-man’s glee; he tried not to think about Sirius… or his parents…

“Don’t start getting too cocky on me, you miserable little rat!” he snapped, and felt a lot better when he saw the excitement leave Wormtail’s face; “Since I have yet to grant some of your other wishes,” he continued, “I will be putting conditions on all of them, including the power I’ve just returned to you.”

“Yes… yes, of course, sir.” Wormtail replied, suitably chastened… for the moment.

“You will still remain under a total obligation to obey me,” Harry said, “and if I order you to change into either of your forms, then you will do so immediately.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Secondly,” Harry said, “You asked for comforts. I’d thought that the quarters, food and furnishings I’d provided you with would have been enough for you. No matter, I’ll make some new arrangements for you. I’ve spoken with Dobby, and he has arranged to fix up a shoebox in the kitchens so that it’ll be comfortable for you to use in your Animagus form,” he said, “and the elves will also provide you with three balanced meals a day from the leftovers. However,” he added, “you are also ordered to obey the elves as well as me whenever you are within the kitchen, especially in matters of hygiene… and to assume human form to help them out during feasts.”

“My room…” Wormtail whispered, “surely not…”

“You wanted more comfort,” Harry said without sympathy, “So that is how you will get it. Dobby will arrange a place for your possessions, but if he can’t fit them all in to whatever he finds, I have asked him to throw away the excess at his discretion. No, I will not be providing Wizard Space for you, and neither shall Dobby. The furnishings will stay behind in the room, by the way. It is currently being cleaned, and if the elves find any rat droppings, I’ll halve your rations, one meal for every dropping found...”

Wormtail was aghast. “You want to starve me!” he hissed.

“A lighter diet might do you good,” Harry retorted, eying Wormtail’s rotund figure with disdain. “And in case you start getting any clever ideas, I forbid you to eat or drink while in Animagus form!”

“How can you be sure every dropping those elves find is mine?”

“Then you should have cleaned up more often!” Harry said, “and I hope you’re not implying that you’ve been using your bedroom as a rat toilet!”

Wormtail knitted his moth-eaten brows and pouted, but his face went pale, and he said nothing. Harry, feeling faintly nauseous, decided not to take any chances.

“I also forbid you to relieve yourself while in Animagus form,” he added.

“You really know how to break a man,” Wormtail whined. At those words, Harry felt something snap inside him. Before he could think, he’d fired a leg-locking jinx at the other wizard, and was preparing to throw a second spell at him...

“Proffessor Potter, sir! Please don’t hurt me! I didn’t mean to say whatever it was that offended you, please let me go!”

Harry had calmed down enough to be able to speak, but first he flung a hex on the patch of carpet on which Wormtail lay, transfiguring it into a bed of live cockroaches.That’s for Sirius, Harry thought.

“How… DARE YOU… complain about being BROKEN…” he flicked his wand again, and some of the cockroaches changed into fresh stag droppings, thinking that’s for my father… “after what you’ve done!”

“Have mercy on me!” Wormtail squealed.

Harry’s face hardened as he casually transfigured a few more cockroaches into whip snakes, before adding some fanged geraniums, weasel droppings… and a Bat Bogey hex for good measure.And that takes care of Professor Snape, my mother, Percy and Ginny, he thought bitterly, and I’ll take care of the Muggles and Percy later.

He let Wormtail struggle in the mess until the begging and wheedling subsided, and then vanished the lot. Not once among the pleas had the other wizard uttered a word of remorse, he noted in disgust.

“I will owl Professor Cox tomorrow morning,” Harry said, “He should find the new lodgings a lot more convenient than that room in the Hog’s Head he’s been staying in.”

“Yes… sir...”

“Third,” Harry said, getting his breath back, “You asked for freedom. Therefore, for three nights every full moon, you will be relieved of your normal duties, unless I say otherwise. You will have the freedom to go about the castle or grounds as you wish, so long as…” he began to count off his fingers; “you don’t go beyond the perimeter of the grounds. You make no attempt to harm or harass any beast or being; you will keep out of the staff members' offices unless I tell you to, or their quarters, or the classrooms, or the student dormitories and ablutions areas…”

He counted off another finger, “… and you’ll report back to the kitchen and the elves before moonset. You must also spend at least three hours of your free time each night in the Forbidden Forest, and you’ll inform me or Hagrid at once if you see anything that shouldn’t be there, like a werewolf that doesn’t smell of Wolfsbane, or anything else that you find there that’s wrong.”

Wormtail nodded glumly, and sniffled. He wiped his eyes on his sleeve, only to streak his face with leftover animal dung from Harry’s hex.

“Finally,” Harry said, “there is the matter of those… other requests you made. During your nights off you may if you wish, visit the Castle drains in your Animagus form. I believe there is a thriving rat colony there. Of course, the same rules against harm and harassment will apply there as well as elsewhere. If I hear from any of the elves that you’ve been conducting yourself as anything less than a gentleman in the sewers,” he added ominously - thinking of a few ingeniously uncomfortable punishments the Professor had suggested - “there’ll be trouble.”

* * *

‘Your ideas seem to be working,’ Harry wrote. ‘He looked quite chastened, but things have since been a lot better.’

‘Is this because you now have him more usefully occupied,’ Professor Snape asked, ‘or is it because you have relaxed some of the conditions of his servitude?’

‘Both,’ replied Harry.

‘As much as you may personally dislike slavery,’ Snape replied, ‘it has now become the only means by which Pettigrew can repay his life debt. He took the easy way during both wars, Professor Potter, and that way has only led him further into bondage. Do not be tempted yourself to do the same.’

‘What do you mean?’ Harry wrote.

‘It is your responsibility to him, to ensure that he clears that debt,’ Snape wrote, ‘otherwise, his soul will never be freed. I for one thing will not be partial to seeing him staying on around here as a ghost. He has already infested this castle long enough with his pestilent presence.’

‘True,’ Harry replied, and then added, ‘what about you, Professor?’

‘Though I find it restful here,’ Snape wrote, ‘it is not good for my peace of mind to intend going on forever as an artefact created by murder and Dark Magic.’

Harry felt as if the late summer air had suddenly grown cold. He didn’t want to imagine life without Professor Snape around, but then he’d also never really considered before whether Snape was happy in his current form of existence.

‘What do you want me to do with you?’ he asked, his hands beginning to feel numb as he wrote the question.

‘Take me with you when you are ready,’ Snape replied, ‘ensure that I am disguised, and then arrange to have me burnt on your pyre. By that time, I should have lived enough and done my service.’

‘I’m not planning on a pyre when I die,’ Harry wrote.

‘It is still possible,’ Snape wrote back, ‘you can recall what happened to Professor Dumbledore at his funeral?’

‘You mean…’ Harry wrote.

‘I mean that it possible that this may happen with you as well, Potter, when your time comes... but you will need to do more work on achieving such a state of grace.’ Snape’s writing faded out, and then he added. ‘If you do somehow manage to find the way to whatever realm Dumbledore is flying in nowadays, I hope you would not mind if I accompanied you.’

‘Not at all,’ Harry wrote, ‘when we are ready.’

‘When we are ready,’ Snape replied, ‘but first, we must both ensure that we free the rat.’

‘I suppose so’ Harry wrote, ‘much as I hate the filthy little bugger, you know what’s best’.



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