Warning: YAOI/slash, angst, light non-con, mention of rape (but not explicit)

Bound To You

Part 1

By Aeowen


Harry Potter frowned. There had to be a way out of this. A dozen witches and wizards who fought along side Albus Dumbledore against Voldemort and his dark forces were assembled for a meeting to discuss strategy. The group met at least once a week, and usually spent several hours in the secret office above Dumbledore's, manoeuvring resources and bringing each other up to speed with new happenings.

At the moment, Harry was upset over the results of the previous week's strategy sessions. Apparently, Professor Severus Snape and Sirius Black had devised a way to take care of the Death Eaters. The idea stemmed from the problem that Harry would have to fight Voldemort himself, but there were at least 30 Death Eaters, and they were likely to cause a problem. Harry was becoming very skilled in duelling, thanks to private lessons with Snape, Lupin, and Dumbledore himself, but he would never be able to hold of that many dark wizards and fight the Dark Lord at the same time. Of course, any other wizards there on his side would help Harry as much as they could, but it wasn't a guarantee. Harry could very well have to do almost entirely alone, so they had devised a way to take care of Voldemort's lackeys.

It was simple, really. Each of the Death Eaters was branded with the Dark Mark which magically bound them to Voldemort. A specific curse applied to the mark on one Death Eater's arm, would send a shock wave through all them, likely killing them in the process. Those who weren't killed would live with an enumerable amount of pain for the rest of their lives.

It was a good plan. And it would probably work. Harry wasn't worried about that. The problem was that one of their colleagues still carried the Dark Mark himself. Severus Snape. Death Eater turned spy for Dumbledore. The fact that he was the one presenting the idea only made Harry feel worse. They couldn't sacrifice Severus now.

The two men had, over the year after Harry's graduation, developed a good working relationship. Severus Snape still shot snide remarks in Harry's direction, but Harry enjoyed retorting with something equally snide and cutting, making their squabbling more of a game and a form of stress relief than actual bickering.

"Isn't there some way around this? There has to be!" Both Black and Snape shook their heads resignedly. Harry hit the desk in frustration and muttered something about needing to de-stress. He summoned his broom and headed for the Quidditch field, preparing to fly off his anxieties.


That night, Harry dreamt that he was staring at the Dark Mark in the sky. He spoke to it in parseltongue, and it changed shape, falling from the sky. When it hit the ground, Harry touched it with his finger and it sagged under his weight, as if it had substance. When he lifted his hand, his finger print was gleaming in gold over the mark.

Harry jolted awake. He immediately wrote down what he could remember about his dream and then walked into his sitting room, stoking the fire and sitting down to think. His dreams involving Voldemort usually had meaning. He had changed the Dark Mark. Was it possible that this was another "gift" inadvertently given to him by the Dark Lord? Did he, too, have control over the Dark Mark?

Harry went to Dumbledore's office as soon as the sun rose, knowing the headmaster would be up. Harry and Dumbledore sipped tea as he told the older man about his dream and his interpretation. "Could this be used to help us, Albus? Or help Severus? He might be resigned to sacrificing himself, but I won't accept it. There must be some way around it."

"Indeed. I do not relish the idea of just letting him die, either. I will speak with him and others about your dream and its repercussions." Harry left his office feeling a bit better, but by no means were his fears allayed.

Several days later, Harry entered the headmaster's office again after having received a note asking him to see him. "Albus? You asked to see me?"

"Yes, please, sit down. I have spoken with Severus. He seemed surprised by the idea that you could possibly affect the Dark Mark, even on his skin. After much, er, prying, he explained a bit of how the mark was given to him. He seems to think, and I agree, that it is possible to continue with the plan that he and Sirius devised without sacrificing him. Harry, if you have some level of control over the Dark Mark, then it might be possible to sever Severus' bond with Voldemort, and therefore the Death Eaters as well."


"Well, these types of bonds are based on very old magic and cannot be broken easily. Severus and I discussed trying that years ago, but he would probably not survive the attempt. No, it should be possible to transfer the bond so that Severus would be bound to you, instead of Voldemort." Harry stared at him. Severus Snape bound to him? There was no way he would agree to such a thing!

As if reading his mind, Dumbledore said, "I must admit that Severus was less than thrilled with the prospect of being bound to you for the rest of his life, but even he acknowledges that at least he will have one. And neither of us worry about you abusing such a bond. The question is whether you feel comfortable with such a…development in the relationship between you. Experience suggests that before the bond is stable, you will both feel quite a bit of what the other is feeling, and for the rest of your life, you will feel a bit of Severus' life-energy running through you. Voldemort used powerful magic, Harry, and the two of you will have to re-enact the ritual, hopefully with less pain on Severus' side, in order to transfer the bond. Now, before you make a decision, Severus has a report of his bonding and marking. He wrote it several years ago intending to leave it behind as evidence should anything ever happen to him. In the next hour, I have several visitors and meetings. Perhaps you would like to read it in the comfort of my sitting room?" Harry nodded and took the parcel from Dumbledore's hands.

He sat in a comfortable window seat and opened the brown wrapping paper and began to read: "I joined Voldemort's ranks on Halloween night. Like the other inductees, I wore a black cloak and my face was hidden. I originally assumed that the ceremony would transpire in the view of the other Death Eaters, but each inductee was taken, alone, to another area. I was guided to a clearing in the woods with a large black stone altar in the middle. Voldemort was there, and I knelt at his feet, humbly asking to be allowed to serve him. He told me to rise, and.…"

When Harry was finished reading, he found that he had tears in his eyes. Young Severus Snape had had no idea what he was getting into. Whatever promises of power and knowledge Severus had been given, he hadn't expected to serve his new master under such circumstances.

Harry thought for a while and jotted down some notes, devising a way to reform the ritual so that it was neither painful for Severus nor involved rape. When he heard Dumbledore's guests leave, he presented his ideas to his mentor. When they were finished, Harry asked, "Do you really think he'll do this, Albus?"

"The fact that he gave you his memoir of that horrible night shows that he trusts you. I believe that he will. Are *you* comfortable with this, Harry? He is your former professor and your relationship has not always been…easy."

"Yes. I mean, I'm not comfortable with certain aspects of the original ceremony, but I think I've covered those areas. But if you're asking about the sexual aspect of it, it won't be a problem for me." ~He's definitely sexy. What? Where'd that come from?~

"Very well, I will speak with Severus and then the two of you will have to discuss this." Harry nodded and left, previous fears now replaced by new ones. There were so many different elements of this. What if something went wrong? He could seriously hurt Snape if he wasn't careful.


On returning to his rooms, an owl was waiting with a note from Snape asking Harry to join him in his office the following afternoon. When Harry knocked on the Professor's door, he couldn't help but feel like he was still a student, knocking on his least-favorite teacher's door for a detention. The feeling did not dissipate when he saw the Professor Snape was sitting stiffly behind his desk, hands folded in front of him, his black eyes just about burning through Harry's robes. ~Hmm, Snape being able to see through my robes…What the?! Helloo?! What's going on up there?~ Harry mentally chided himself and decided that a good session of flying would put his head back on properly. Instead he stepped inside the potion master's office.

"Professor Snape. You wanted to speak with me?"

"Yes, Potter. Sit down."

Harry timidly sat on a chair in front of the desk, folding his hands in his lap, and attempting to avoid the stare of the man in front of him. Finally, Harry gathered the courage to speak. "Um, Profe-Severus, could we possibly talk somewhere else? I mean, somewhere more comfortable?" Snape looked slightly surprised at Harry using his given name, but stood up and motioned Harry to follow him.

The potions master led him to his personal rooms. They sat in chairs in front of a fire in the sitting room. Snape fixed his dark eyes on his former student, almost seemingly challenging him to finish something they hadn't yet begun.

"Since you and I will be working together on…intimate terms, I thought that we should discuss what will occur. I want to know what you have planned, given that you will be holding my life in your hands, Mr. Potter."

Harry replied, "For starters, since we're going to be working on *intimate* terms, *Severus,* call me Harry, please. And yes, we should discuss it, though you already know that you can't know certain things about the ritual until it occurs."

Snape snorted. "Then let's begin, shall we? I trust you've read and studied my memoir of when I became a Death Eater? And what conclusions did you draw from that?"

"About the same that you and Albus did. The bond can't be broken, at least not without killing you, which would sort of defeat the purpose of it, but it can be transferred. The transfer can only occur with the consent of the person to whom the individual in question is bound. This is due to the fact that the master leaves a personal mark that cannot be falsified or removed, in this case, the Dark Mark. The only reason that this will work is because Voldemort gave me the ability to affect the mark just as he can, though he might not yet be aware of it. I also believe that Voldemort will know the instant we try to transfer your bond. He might even fight us, so it won't be easy. Not to mention he'll be thoroughly pissed when we do succeed and he can't touch you from afar."

Snape scowled. "I'm glad to see you find this amusing."

"I don't. Look, I'm nervous about this too, ok? I don't want to hurt you, and frankly, I'm not crazy about some of the elements of the ritual that I have to redo because a sociopath decided to put them in a few decades ago, but frankly, if it does work, then we could really win this *and* you will at least have a chance of surviving."

Snape stared silently at him for a while and then spoke. "Have you thought about the setup for this? We should also decide on a good time to perform the ritual."

"Mid-summer, a time associated with life, not death."

"I agree. Mid-summer is in two weeks. Will that be enough time for you to educate yourself, Mr. Potter?"

Harry chose to ignore the biting tone in Snape's voice. "Yes. I already know a lot…but if you have any suggestions for other resources, I would appreciate your input. And as for the setup, well, um, no altars involved, for starters. Inside, where we'd both be more comfortable. We can use my rooms. That way I can setup everything ahead of time."

"Sounds logical, not to mention warmer." Harry gave Severus a surprised look at the small joke and then smiled slightly.

"Now Mr. Po-Harry, do you know which potions we will need? I will make them."

"Yeah, I do. I've got a list, not many, though. Um, I'd like to help, if you don't mind. I mean, you can make them if you're more comfortable doing it that way, but I can collect ingredients and stuff." Snape nodded.

For a minute, neither spoke, both lost in their thoughts and memories. Abruptly, Snape got up and walked to a large bookshelf. He pulled a few volumes off the shelf and presented them wordlessly to Harry. Harry stood up and took them, cradling them in his arms.

"I expect you to return those to me in good condition, Harry. They would be difficult to replace."

Harry nodded. "Of course, Severus." He turned toward the door, and pausing, said, "I'll see you at dinner." With that, Harry opened the door and was about to leave when Snape spoke. "Thank you," he said curtly. Harry turned back, smiled, and left.


Three days later, Harry was in the dungeons preparing a potion for the ritual. This particular potion had to sit for a while before becoming usable. He and Severus had discussed it, and formed the full plan, although, by nature, some of the elements would be known only to Harry until they actually transpired. Severus had completely hidden himself behind his cold sneer and, Harry, knowing this was nervousness and embarrassment, said nothing and continued his preparations. Snape was also currently in the dungeon potions lab, but hadn't spoken to him, and Harry didn't push him. He was far too busy concentrating on everything he had to prepare. He had memorized the list: two potions, 3 charms, and an incantation in parseltongue. He hadn't decided what to do about the last part, the one element of the ritual that he still didn't like. He had to mark Severus. Harry hated that. ~Branding people like cattle. Disgusting.~

Harry had yet to come up with what his mark would be. He had to decide soon as mid-summer was fast approaching. He had asked Dumbledore for input, but the old man had only been his own frustrating self, saying that Harry had to devise that part himself since it would be a physical manifestation of his bond with Severus.

When he was finished, Harry cleaned up the materials and poured the potion into a container. "Um, Severus, is there a place where this can sit out of harm's way?" The other man nodded and led him to a small storage room filled with shelves and jars of potions. The potions master cleared a space on a higher shelf and placed the jar there. Harry couldn't help but look at the other containers. One concoction looked suspiciously like it contained blood, but Harry opted to leave Snape be and didn't say anything.

Harry was about to leave when he decided to try to talk to Snape. The silence was getting on his nerves. "Severus, look, I know that this is a big step and a lot could go wrong, but if you want to talk or anything, well, you know where to find me." Snape stared at Harry with his dark eyes as if he had just suggested that they have a lovely afternoon by picking wildflowers together. After a moment, Snape merely nodded and returned to his work. Harry left quickly, heading for a small alcove near the transfiguration corridor that he liked to visit when he wanted to think.

When Harry reached the alcove, he removed his outer robes and sat on the window sill, letting the afternoon sun warm his skin. He attempted to sort out his thoughts and emotions. So Snape was good looking and his body was reacting to the fact. So what? We was a young man, hormones were a fact of life. But his former professor? A man that had made some things very difficult for him and his friends? ~Maybe I'm just forming an emotional attachment because of what's going to happen between us. Becoming more intimate is an understatement.~

Harry turned his thoughts elsewhere and tried not to think about the sexual elements of the ritual. Instead, he thought about the mark he had to devise. Voldemort used the same mark for each follower, thus de-individualizing them. Therefore, Harry wanted to use something that was particular to only him and Severus.

It was obvious that Snape was uncomfortable with the situation. ~And I can't blame him, either. Being bound to your former student is bad enough, but with the son of your former rival…But it's more than that, isn't it?~ Harry thought back to Snape's recounting of his initiation into Voldemort's ranks. ~Severus trusted him. He thought Voldemort would lead him and others into new heights of power and knowledge, of brotherhood and belonging. Instead, he found a cruel master intent on his own ambitions. Is he afraid that I would abuse him like Voldemort did?~

An hour later, Harry had decided on his mark. He was satisfied with it, though he still wished he could forgo it altogether. He headed back to his rooms. They were a disaster and they needed to be neat and clean for the bonding.


Mid-summer's day. Harry took another look around his rooms. Everything was neat and he had placed most smaller items in his room into the closet, giving it an almost Spartan look. Everything he would need was laid out. Harry knelt in the center of his sitting room, tucking his feet beneath him. Resting his hands on his thighs, he closed his eyes and meditated, finding his center and calming his nerves. He allowed his mind to warder beyond the walls of the room, and then reeled himself back in again, resting his mind so that he could build up his mental, physical, and magical reserves.

Snape took a deep breath and gave the door to Harry's rooms the password. It opened and he stepped in. Harry had told him not to knock so that he would not disturb the younger man's meditations.

Stepping into the front room, Snape stopped short when he saw Harry. He was kneeling on the floor, wearing a simple black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans. His eyes were closed and he was completely still.

The former Death Eater stared. Harry had grown up so much, faster than the other children. He had ceased to be a child sometime in his third and fourth years at Hogwarts, the weight of the knowledge of his parent's and Cedric's deaths leaving him less than care-free. Harry had finally reached a normal height and body weight, although his frame was still small.

Not wanting to disturb him, Severus staid still. Suddenly, Harry spoke. "You can sit, Severus. I won't be long." The potions master sat in a chair and calmed his thoughts. This was going to be very difficult and dangerous. Harry would have to wrench the bond from Voldemort and weave it into himself. He would have preferred it if Harry had more time to practice and learn, but the Light was out of time. He had instructed Harry that if anything went wrong, he should drop the bond completely, thus saving himself. They couldn't afford to lose Harry.

Finally, Harry opened his eyes and looked at his former professor. "Are you ready, Severus?" He nodded. Harry detected the fear in him. He stood up and approached Snape, resting his hand on his shoulder. "I won't hurt you, Severus. I won't do what he did." He let his hand graze Snape's jaw line before dropping to his side.

Harry warded the door to his rooms and they silently went into his bedroom. The room was lit only by a few candles placed around the bed. Snape stood in the room, silently waiting for his former student to tell him what to do. Harry handed him a vial containing a mild relaxant, instructing him to drink it slowly.

Sheepishly, Harry said, "I'll turn around while you undress. When you're ready, lie on the bed on your back." When his back was turned, Snape undressed, folding each item of clothing carefully and placing them on a chair. Rubbing his left forearm where the Dark Mark still lay, he climbed onto the bed and lay down, folding his hands on his stomach. "I'm ready."

Harry turned around and tried not to stare or let his eyes wander. He pulled out his wand and, aiming it at Snape, said a cleaning spell. Snape closed his eyes and tried not to move as he felt magic crackling along and inside his body.

Harry felt Snape's eyes on him as shed his own clothes and placed them on top of Snape's. He put his wand on the bedside table and sat on the edge of the bed. He took a deep breath and placed his hand on top of Severus' on his stomach. "This will work, Severus. I know it will. I swear I won't hurt you." Snape's face remained passive and distrustful. This was the part that Snape didn't know of ahead of time; the part that Voldemort had surprised him with. The part that had begun his rape.

The younger man swallowed and leaned down. He brushed his lips against Severus'. When he received no response, he brushed them again and this time Severus' head tilted up slightly. Harry took the chance and pressed his lips against the other man's. The soft gentle kiss lasted for several seconds. Harry pulled back and readjusted himself on the bed next to Severus. He briefly saw obsidian orbs holding him before closing his eyes and moving in for another kiss. This time, Harry angled his head a bit and after brushing his lips against Severus', ran his tongue gently over the older man's lips, asking for entrance. Snape sighed softly and opened his mouth, allowing Harry to snake his tongue into the wet heat of his mouth.

Harry took his time as he explored Severus' mouth. He kept his left hand on the center of Severus' chest and fought his urge to run his hands over his front. Harry moaned into the mouth of his former professor when he felt Severus' arms wrap around him and pull him closer. Harry's left leg slithered up and rested on the other man's thighs. Their kiss intensified and Harry began to rub Severus' arm and neck. Suddenly, his leg brush against Snape's arousal and they both moaned.

Feeling that Snape should know his effect on him, Harry pressed his body up against him and rubbed his own erection against Severus' hip. "Oh gods. Harry." Snape moaned right before he began to lick the soft shell of Harry's ear. In turn, Harry reached down and grasped Severus' hard cock and played with the tip.

Harry decided that Severus was ready for more and he climbed onto him and positioned himself so that their cocks were rubbing together. They continued like this for a while, erections rubbing against each other, kissing, and caressing. Finally, Harry cupped Severus' face.

"Are you ready?"

"Yes, Harry, as long as you are. You could still back out, you know."

"And why would I want to do that?"

"You could be hurt. You don't *need* me hanging onto you for the rest of your life."

"Maybe I *want* to have you with me for the rest of my life, Severus, but that is something to discuss later. Right now, I want to save your life."

Snape stared up at Harry incredulously as Harry's words sank in.

Harry rolled over so that they were on their sides facing each other. He stroked his ex-professor's cheek and kissed him softly. When he spoke, his words were clear and his voice soft. "Severus, the rest of this is in my control. I will make it as painless as possible for you, but you have to trust me. A lot of this is going to resemble your previous experience, so if you start to panic, try to calm yourself down internally. You'll notice some major differences though, like I want you to gain pleasure from this, too. When I'm reciting the incantation in parseltongue, stay silent, other than that, go nuts." Harry grinned at him, making Snape smile slightly, and then leaned in and kissed him again. "The last thing is this. After the incantation and the mark, we need to climax together, so ample communication between us will be necessary." Snape raised his eyebrows in surprise. Together?

His mind flashed back to his initiation into Voldemort's ranks. The entire thing had been rough and quick, leaving him unsatisfied and frightened. The Dark Lord must have been on an aphrodisiac to complete the ritual multiple times, and here was Harry, a former student and son of his former rival, ready to devote all of his energies to saving Severus' life and making it pleasurable at the same time.

His thoughts were interrupted when he felt a knee insert itself between his legs. Harry saw the confusion and fear in his face and kissed him again, reminding him that he would be neither harmed nor left unfulfilled. Harry licked and nipped at Severus' neck while his right hand slowly rubbed and caressed its way down to the curve of his ass.

Snape inhaled sharply when Harry's finger slipped between his cheeks and then moaned as the digit slowly moved downward. No one had touched him there in a very long time. Again, Harry saved him from a depressing line of thought when his finger brushed over his opening. Severus hissed, "Harry…please." Harry smiled inwardly at this. He didn't want to force Snape to do anything, but he had to last until everything was done.

Harry summoned his wand to himself with wandless magic. His spell lubricated Severus and his hand. He quickly smothered his painful erection with the gel and then worked on Snape. He slipped a single finger into him and then another. He was about to use three fingers when Snape stopped him. "I'm ready, Harry. if we don't do this soon, it won't work since neither of us will last." A brief flicker of a smile flitted across his usually sour face. Harry grinned and kissed him again, this time letting Severus explore his mouth.

When they broke apart, Snape started to roll over onto his stomach but Harry stopped him. "No, Severus, we face each other. No secrets." The potions master furrowed his brow and then rolled onto his back, pulling Harry down on top of him. Harry knelt between his legs and brought Severus' ankles up. He positioned himself between his legs and locked eyes with Severus, looking for permission. Snape nodded and braced himself.

He was surprised, therefore, when Harry slowly entered him, slipping past the ring of muscle and causing almost no pain. Harry slowly slid in all the way and rested while they both got used to the feeling. Harry gently caressed Snape's stomach and thighs. When he was sure that Severus was comfortable, he started to move out and then slowly thrust back in again.

He did this a few more times and then pulled out almost entirely before slamming in completely. Severus moaned and arched upward. He was about to speak when Harry began to chant. The strange language sounded course and hard on Harry's tongue. Harry stayed perfectly still while he recited the incantation in parseltongue.

In his mind, Harry had found the magical bond between Severus and Voldemort. It took the image of a silver thread with what appeared to be scales decorating it. As he spoke, he mentally severed the bond and brought it in towards himself. In the back of his mind, he was aware that a cold entity was screaming at him, pulling the thread back into it previous position. Harry pulled harder and then put up a mental shield, protecting him and Severus while he bound them together.

Mentally, Harry gathered his magical energies and carefully joined the thread to his own soul. When they connected, Harry gasped. He could feel Severus flowing through him. He suddenly had access to all of his energies and he realized just how strong of a wizard Snape actually was. Once the bindings were complete, Harry sent out a wave of his own energy, changing the bond to match himself. The thread changed to gold and red waves of warmth flowed over it.

Severus' eyes grew wide. He could *feel* Harry inside of him. He could feel the warmth. Suddenly, for the first time in decades, Severus felt comfortable. He felt warm and safe. His eyes fluttered closed and he sighed.

Above him, Harry smiled. He finished chanting and stroked Snape's stomach again. Snape opened his eyes when he felt Harry pick up his left arm. He visibly tensed when he realized that the marking was about to occur. Harry smiled reassuringly and turned his arm palm side up. He stroked the skin near the Dark Mark, letting Snape know where his own mark would be placed.

Harry said a spell in Latin and leaned down. Closing his eyes, Harry placed a soft kiss on Severus' arm. Severus jerked as a jolt of pain ripped through him and he felt the Dark Mark leaving him. In its stead, another wave of warmth began in his arm and swept through his body. When he looked up at his arm, Severus saw a glowing red and gold kiss mark. It glittered strongly for a moment and then faded into a soft gold shimmer.

Harry let Severus get a hold of his feelings before moving slightly, reminding them both that he was still buried inside of him. Snape gasped and arched upward. Harry began to move again, pulling out and then thrusting back in. He reached between them, grasped Severus' cock, and began to pump it in time with his thrusts. In very little time, they were both moaning. Severus reached up and caressed Harry's chest. He rubbed his nipples, eliciting a whimper from the man above him.

"Oh. Severus…I can't hold on much longer," Harry gasped out and picked up the pace. He alternated between pumping Severus' cock and playing with the tip of it. Severus laced his fingers with Harry's and together they pumped his cock.

Snape panted. "I'm there, Harry. Say when." Harry nodded and forcefully thrust in two more times and then froze. "Now!" he shouted. They came simultaneously, Severus pumping his seed onto their stomachs and Harry shooting his deep into Severus' body.

Before collapsing, Harry gently pulled out of Severus. Despite the warm liquid between them, Severus wrapped his arms around Harry who buried his face in his shoulder.

For a few minutes, they caught their breaths and gently stroked each other. Harry rolled off of Severus and grabbed his wand. He did a cleaning spell on both of them. He then handed Snape another vial, this one containing a potion that would heal any internal injuries and allow the new mark to also heal faster.

Snape looked exhausted but started to get up. Harry grabbed his arm. "You can stay with me. Please?" Severus thought he detected a note of insecurity in the suddenly young voice that had been speaking an ancient language only minutes before. Then he remembered the feeling of comfort and safety inside of Harry. He lay down on the bed again and looked at Harry expectantly. Harry smiled and pulled the blanket over them.

Harry spooned up against Severus' back, resting his arm over the other man's stomach. After so much effort, Harry fell asleep quickly. Severus turned around, careful not to wake the raven-haired boy whose arms still clung to him. The boy, no man, he corrected himself, looked tired but peaceful. Severus faced Harry and brought him into a closer embrace, wrapping his arms protectively around his body.

For long while after that, Severus Snape stared at the new mark on his arm. He rubbed it tentatively and found that it wasn't tender, though the skin still felt warm. There was no sign of the Dark Mark and the lip-shaped mark was fading. In the morning there would be nothing but a whisper of soft lips.

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