Harry knew that more than half the school did not support his new adventure. Secretly he didn't either. They all thought he was taking away from Diggory's and Hufflepuff's well-deserved fame and glory. And it wasn't like he hadn't had fun in recent years, was it? He was the Thief-of-the-Philosopher's-Stone, Basilisk-Slayer and Liberator-of-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban. But that wasn't enough for Harry Potter, the-boy-who-liked-to-collect-hyphenated-names. No, now he had to compete in the Triwizard Tournament as well. The school was sick and tired of his attention seeking and his father was sick and tired of his attitude. Hermione was the only real friend he had left, the only one who talked to him and sympathized.
In front of their dungeon classroom one day, Malfoy stepped out of the crowd of Slytherins.
'Hey Potter! Like my new badge?' he flashed a badge on his chest that for one moment looked like a SPEW badge. But of course it wasn't.
POTTER STINKS! It flashed SUPPORT THE REAL CHAMPION! And then 'CEDRIC DIGGORY FOR HOGWARTS!
'And they call me attention seeking' Harry murmured, unimpressed. Of course, all the Slytherins were wearing the badges and flashing them with ugly grins. But he had never expected any support from them anyway, so he shrugged it off. But as his eyes travelled to the Gryffindors he couldn't suppress the hiss that slipped out.
'Ah, yes Potter.' Malfoy grinned 'Even your favourite Gryffindorks think you're a cheat.'
Undeniable evidence in the form of Seamus Finnigan and Lavender Brown stared him in the face. He could deal with that. What he couldn't deal with, was that Ron was one of them. He stared at the redhead and saw him tense as Hermione grabbed his wrist 'Don't Harry'
'Yes, Granger, hold your darling back, before he hurts the Weasel.' Draco grinned and looked back at his Slytherin friends for approval, before he turned around again. He stepped forward to Harry and said 'No wonder you feel comfortable around the Mudblood, Potter. Your own mother…'
No one got to hear what Malfoy had to say about Lily, though. Harry had punched him in the face. He heard Hermione scream 'Harry!' and grab his arms just as Crabbe and Goyle stepped up. Harry freed himself of Hermione and brandished his wand, while Malfoy nursed his bleeding nose. He sent a furnunculus at Goyle but Crabbe had already sent a curse at Hermione. She had staggered back from Harry and had been unable to protect herself. She gave a load shriek and her hands flew to her mouth. Harry turned to her and saw Ron and the other Gryffindors start getting involved as the other Slytherins stepped forward.
'What is going on?' Snape had come around the corner and now surveyed the mess before him. Malfoy holding his bleeding nose, surrounded by most of the Slytherins. The rest of them standing by Crabbe, who was sprouting large postules 'Crabbe, Malfoy go to the hospital wing. Goyle, accompany them.'
The boys followed orders and Snape turned to the Gryffindors. Harry was kneeling by Hermione, trying to pry off her hands off her face 'Goyle cursed her!'
Snape stepped forward and looked down, but Hermione refused to let him see the damage.
'Show him, Hermione.' Harry said softly and pushed her hands down, large ever growing teeth came in sight. Snape stared at her and Harry looked at him imploringly. Snape gave him a glance, before he announced
'I see no difference.'
The words that erupted from Harry, Ron and the other Gryffindors would have cost them a whole lot of points, if they hadn't been drowned by Hermione's heart felt loud sob and thundering steps, fleeing from the scene.
'Quiet!' Snape threatened and pointed at his classroom 'This has cost us enough time already. Potter, Weasley, you have detention with me this afternoon.'
Harry glared at his father as hard as he could and stomped inside. Ron was seething as well but their mutual hatred for Snape at the moment was not enough to get them back together. Harry took one look at the ugly badge on Ron's chest and turned his back on his ex-best friend. It was no great loss, as Ron was grinding his teeth at Harry's back as well.
As soon as dinner was finished, Harry stomped up to his father's office and knocked hard, trying to make a dent in the door. His knuckles throbbed but the wood stayed unblemished. After being invited in, he threw the door shut, feeling a savage satisfaction, when his father jumped a bit. Severus looked up startled and then narrowed his eyes.
'I will give you one chance to explain your atrocious behaviour, Harry.'
'How could you?' Harry had only needed one prompt and all his anger flew out of him like a canon blast 'You were absolutely horrible to Hermione! She has been the only one, who has stood by me, she is the only person, who talks civilly to me. She hasn't abandoned me, like Ron. And she hasn't turned her back on me, because she's afraid of what other people would say if they're seen with me.' Neville was one of those and even though Harry understood that, it still hurt 'And the very first chance you get to actually do something nice for her, you turn around and act like a cruel, vindictive, heartless…'
'I advise you not to finish that statement.' Snape said coolly and before Harry could continue his rant, he said 'Harry, I thought you understood the way I have to act outside of these doors.'
'I do!' Harry shouted angrily 'With me. That's alright, I can take it. But not with Hermione, she doesn't deserve that after all she's done for me.'
'I am grateful to Miss Granger.' Snape admitted shortly 'And I am sure, after the first shock she will understand what I had to do in front of my Slytherins. She is used to harsh treatment from me and I am merely her teacher. I dare say, not even a teacher she likes too much.'
'That's not true!' Harry said 'She was really hurt by what you said. She does like you.'
Harry bit his lip, hoping Snape would misunderstand that statement. When his father narrowed his eyes, he added 'You are her friend's father, she wants you to like her. Don't you get that?'
Snape regarded him for a moment, seemingly lost in thought and then nodded 'Miss Granger is not a silly girl. I know she understands that my treatment during school hours does not reflect back on the way I regard her. She is your friend and a fateful one at that. I appreciate that and as I said, I am grateful. Tell her, if she needs to hear.'
Harry still felt like anger was bubbling in his chest 'It's still not fair. Your Slytherins went to the hospital wing. She was hurt!'
'And she went there as well. I did not stop her.'
'You did not help her either!'
'Of course not, silly boy.' Snape said exhausted and rubbed his face 'I wanted to keep this from you but I see it is not wise. The Dark Lord is moving and his movements are closing in on the school. Your participation in the tournament is not incidental. I need to save face in front of my Slytherins, I need to be prepared for the possibility of his return. And consequentially my return to his ranks.'
Harry set his jaw in stubbornness 'I don't want you to go.'
'I know.' Severus said softly 'But I will, when the time comes.'
'Just the same way that you won't listen about Professor Sinistra. You know, I don't care about her. What I care about is you.' Harrys voice lost its hard edge as he pleaded 'Please don't go back to him, Dad, please.'
'Harry, we have had this conversation before.' Severus said, standing up and coming closer to him 'But I do not wish to quarrel with my child. The time has not come yet and it may never. I don't want to argue about what ifs. We are here now. We need to be prepared for the possibility. Your friends need to know that as well. And we need to prepare you.'
Harry sank down to the visitor's chair 'How?'
'Occlumency, you remember?' Snape said, leaning back against the table, facing Harry 'Do you want to try?'
Harry shrugged 'This time is as good as any I suppose.'
Severus reached out and lightly pushed the fringe out of Harry's forehead, revealing the lighting bolt scar 'How did the weighing of the wands go this afternoon?'
Harry shrugged moodily, that had not added to his mood 'Okay, I guess. I think we wanted to practice that occlu-thingy'
'Occlumency, yes. But you are still too… upset.' Snape's finger hovered near Harry's throat, where his pulse was still beating madly 'Let's talk about that a little and get you to calm down.'
Harry snorted derisively 'Not likely! That Skeeter woman is horrible.'
'You met her?' Snape sounded alarmed 'What did she want with you?'
'She has this stupid thing about me being some tragic hero or something. She won't even listen! And that horrible quill of hers keeps writing cheesy, corny mush that would give you cavities if you had to swallow it.'
Snape's lips quirked a bit 'I hope you gave her a bit of that tongue.'
At that, Harry grinned a little and wriggled his fingers 'I gave her my opinion on her talons.'
Snape laughed out loud at that, which made Harry smile and relax.
'I was glad Ollivander didn't talk about my wand the way he did for the others…' Harry said
'Well, when I got it he had told me that it shared the same core as Volde- I mean You-Know-Who's wand.'
'The Dark Lord's wand…' Snape said reverently and looked into the distance as if deeply contemplating something. Harry frowned. It was the look his father got, when he concentrated hard on a potions problem.
'Dad.' Severus didn't react, so Harry shook his arm a little 'Dad!'
'Oh, what?' Snape shook his head in confusion and said 'It does not bother you, does it?'
Harry shook his head 'I like my wand. It can't help sharing cores with his.'
'No, of course not.' Snape gave a smile that kind of made Harry shiver. His father was planning something, he just knew it! He had had the same look last year before he 'assisted' Professor Lockart in the Duelling Club. 'I have been pestering the headmaster to tell me about the first task.'
Harry knew his father was trying to distract him from the wands but he let it slide 'We're not supposed to know.'
'Do you really think Madam Maxime or Karkaroff will care about that? They are determined to win against Dumbledore. Especially now.' Two champions for Hogwarts, Harry thought, of course they'd want to beat Dumbledore by all means 'They will not play fair, keep that in mind.'
'But Cedric does.' Harry said, frowning 'He will be the only one left out.'
'He is not my son' Snape sneered 'He'll survive.'
Harry felt like this was not a good way to go, but he knew that Snape was a Slytherin and he was trying to get Harry any advantage possible.
'Do you have any idea what it could be?' Harry asked
'I think it has something to do with a large magical creature.' Snape said, stroking his chin while thinking about it. The movement reminded Harry unpleasantly of Karkaroff with his stupid goatee 'There is an enclosure built up in the forest…'
'Hagrid might know, then.' Harry guessed and Snape smiled
'Indeed. Hagrid might know.' Snape's smile turned nasty 'I do believe I had some business to conduct with my dear colleague'
Harry smiled sympathetically, he liked Hagrid but Snape was only going to probe him for information and not hurt him, so he was alright with that. He had done as much himself, so he couldn't really fault Snape, could he? Especially if it give him a heads up for the first task.
'Occlumency.' Snape announced and pushed himself off the desk to return to his place behind it. 'It is mind magic, that locks it from intrusion. Intrusion into the mind of another is called Legilimency, it is far more common than Occlumency, although both are rare talents. With work anyone can achieve a certain amount of talent in both art, true masters will be able to delve deeper into the subject and even endeavour to make change in the subject's mind and memories.'
Harry shivered at that and Snape gave a grim nod.
'Your connection with the Dark Lord is not understood, no one knows what happened that night in Godric's Hollow. It obviously didn't kill the Dark Lord and neither did it kill you. But it did mark you.' Harry raised his hand to his scar 'Yes, but also with your mother's protection, which is invisible but all the more potent. There is a good possibility that the Dark Lord might not need eye contact as much as other Legilimens do with you.'
'You mean he could mess with my head even when I'm here or at home?' Harry asked alarmed, Snape set his jaw in agitation but gave another nod.
'It is possible. You have already had a glimpse into his mind, Harry. We, that is the headmaster and I, believe that it was involuntarily done. There might be more glimpses like that. We want to shield you.'
'But if I can see it, I can tell you and then we'd know where he is and what he's doing…'
'Stop it!' Severus snapped 'You are not going to do that!'
'Why not?' Harry cried 'You do! Or you will if he comes back. You don't listen to me, when I say I don't want you to…'
'You are my son and I am your parent, not the other way around!' Severus said angrily 'You are a child not a soldier and most certainly not a spy'
'That is unfair! I'm not a child any more…'
'You are not an adult either.' Snape interrupted coldly 'You don't even understand the connection. The longer it exists the higher the possibility that he might gain awareness of it. And I cannot stress how much we need to avoid that!'
'And if you go back to spy and he finds out' Harry's voice trembled 'I can't lose you!'
'You won't. And this is not a reason to put yourself at risk either. You will learn Occlumency and block him. The Dark Lord has in the past tortured victims with Legilimency and I assure you if that happened to you and I could have prevented it…' Severus gulped, he couldn't even imagine the agony he would be facing if that happened. That Harry had to face god knows what in the competition was bad enough. But that he could come into the Dark Lord's control, that he could be tortured, that he could go insane and forget himself… Snape closed his eyes and willed himself not to think about it. The Longbottoms. Oh God!
'Dad?' the timid voice broke him out of his nightmare, he looked at the green-eyed child. Fourteen. He was fourteen years old and contemplating spying on one of the most dangerous wizards of all time. One who was after his blood and would not hesitate to obliterate him. His hand trembled as he leaned forward, above the desk and lightly brushed the fringe from Harry's eyes.
'Promise me, Harry. You will not spy on him.'
'Can you promise me the same?' Harry asked shrilly, jumping up and looking frightened but determined all the same 'If you promise me that you will not spy on him, I won't either.'
'Harry…' Snape took a deep breath 'I will not lie to you, so I cannot promise that.'
'How can you ask me to not do it if you will?' Harry asked
'Do as I say, not as I do. Or plan to.' Harry looked scandalized but Snape didn't let him speak 'I am your father, am I not? I know what is best for you and accepting my position in your life means accepting the decisions I make for you. Even if you don't like them or do not agree with them.'
'It's so unfair of you to do it yourself and forbid me!'
'If my father was alive I would take his word into consideration, Harry. He is not. You are my son, I do need to take your feelings into consideration, but you cannot order me to stop doing it. I have to look at the bigger picture and your safety is paramount in it. I have already spied on him once and I do know how much risk there is. But this is a question in the future. Now I am not asking you to do this, I am demanding it. Will you obey me?' There was a challenge in Snape's eyes and Harry thought about declining, about walking out or pressing the issue. He really didn't want his father to go back to Voldemort. But at the same time he knew it was stupid to put his own life on the line for it. He bit his lip. This Occlumency stuff was not permanent, if he needed to, he would just 'turn it off'. He huffed and then nodded with a sullen expression, Snape took a deep breath.
'Close your eyes now, Harry. Relax.' Harry tried, but his shoulders remained stiff and unwilling, his back rigid 'Now, listen to my voice. Imagine a white plain. There is nothing, only wide white space. Try to emerge yourself in the image and think of nothing else.'
Harry tried for about 20 seconds before he said 'This is stupid.'
'Close your eyes.' Severus said patiently and Harry grudgingly did so 'We will try something else. Imagine the Black Lake. Imagine swimming in it, going underneath the water. What do you see?'
'I can't see very far but there are fish and plants.'
'Yes, now imagine you go deeper, you leave the fish behind. Can you feel the cold water surrounding you?'
'Keep this in your mind, do not think about anything else. When I tell you to, open your eyes again.'
Harry nodded again and then stayed immersed in his fantasy world for a few minutes until Snape said 'Now!'
Harry opened his eyes in time for his father to say 'Legilimens!'
The reality of his father calmly pointing a wand at him swam before his eyes and he found himself back in the water. He felt the pressure of someone else in his mind, strangely familiar and still alien to him. He shuddered and lost control of his picture. When he opened his eyes, his father regarded him thoughtfully.
'Again, it should be easier for you this time.' Harry nodded that he was ready 'Legilimens!'
This time he fought over control of his mind and felt his father shove harder and harder against the picture of the Lake. Harry gasped when he finally broke through and the first memory assaulted his mind.
It was a recent memory of Harry being comforted by his father this summer after the horrible vision of Nagini eating the Muggle. Harry shivered and Snape left his mind. He took a deep breath.
'Today I will always give you a few minutes to think of the Lake before attacking you. This time will get shorter and shorter until you do not need the Lake any longer but are able to hold me off on your own. Then my attacks will gain strength every time.' Snape explained 'Ready?'
Harry took a deep breath and then nodded, listening to the incantation he was soon going to get sick of 'Legilimens!'
It was the next day that he received answer from his godfathers reassuring him that they believed him about the Goblet. They seemed very worried and determined to see him next Hogsmeade weekend, the first task was two days from then. Harry sighed, he was becoming more and more anxious about the upcoming task and the negativity around him didn't do much to help. To make matters worse he'd be sharing a detention with Ron today. Ron was still wearing Malfoy's badge and Harry quite frankly wanted to rip it off him and give him a new one that read 'Worse Ex-best friend'. Harry just sighed and walked into the Potions Lab, where Ron was already pickling rat brains with a sour expression.
'Mr. Potter, you are late' Snape snarled irritated, his father did put much stock in good manners and punctuality.
'Sorry, professor.' He mumbled and Ron snorted in disgust
'Do you have anything to contribute, Mr. Weasley?' Snape said in a dangerously low voice and when Ron had shook his head he added 'Take off that ridiculous pin, it's not part of the school uniform and I don't much like to see it for the next hour.'
Ron followed orders in bad grace, ripping it off his cloak and putting it on his table so hard the clink went through the whole room.
'Put it away.' Snape said, frowning and Ron pushed it into his pocket, glaring at Harry as if it was his fault. Harry glared back and viciously cut into the next rat brain 'Mr. Potter, do I need to remind you how to prepare this ingredient?'
Harry shook his head mutely and tried to concentrate on the task.
'Very well, gentlemen. I will leave you to it and come back to check your progress in an hour. Try to be productive.' With that he left the room to enter his office but didn't close the door behind him. He wasn't gone for five complete minutes, when Ron huffed loudly and took out the pin again.
'He told you to put it away.' Harry hissed, ignoring the fact that he wasn't talking to the other boy
'He said he didn't want to look at it for the next hour, he isn't.'
'Yes and to put it away.'
'Well, he won't know, will he?' Ron said, putting it on his desk, facing Harry, ready to be snatched away any minute
'He will if I tell him!'
'So you're going to go running to daddy now?'
Harry stared at Ron as if he had sprouted another head. His father's voice drifted to him from the other room 'I should be hearing nothing but your knives on rat brain!'
Harry glanced at the open door, then whispered furiously 'Fine, be the world's biggest git. No wonder you'd take Malfoy's stupid pin, you're just like him!'
'Me?' Ron hissed back 'You're the one who is an attention seeking, spoilt brat!'
'What?' Harry couldn't believe his ears, he wanted to tell Ron exactly where to shove his opinion, when his father arrived at the door.
'If I hear one more hiss and it is not from Ophion I will start deducting points.' He said, looking between them, his gaze settled on Harry 'I expect better!'
Harry shut up after that, ignoring Ron completely. He didn't deserve any better anyway. Harry let the rat brains suffer his anger, as he sliced them and added them to the jars with the thick fluid that preserved them. Ron's brains didn't have a happier outlook, as he almost ripped them to shreds - Harry savagely thought Ron should nick some brains as he was obviously lacking in that department.
After an hour his father entered the lab again, the stains on his finger indicating that he had been grading up until now.
'Let's have it then' he inspected Harry's work, pursed his lips but nodded. Then he turned to Ron and frowned 'What is this supposed to represent?'
'Pickled rat brains, sir.'
'Mushed rat brains would be the more accurate description.' Snape sneered 'Mr. Potter, continue on for five minutes to pickle the brains, you were late. Mr. Weasley, you will come back tomorrow morning to pickle for another hour as this is most unsatisfactory.'
Snape waved his wand and Harry felt a dark satisfaction as Ron's work for the last hour vanished into nothingness. Ron stared up at Snape with an ugly expression but didn't say anything other than 'Yes, sir!'
Even though that exclamation itself sounded like a curse. Snape returned to his office, telling Harry to join him after he had finished. Ron packed his bag angrily and swung it over his shoulder 'What a git!'
'Hey!' Harry countered loudly 'That's my dad!'
'Exactly!' Ron spat back just as loud and turned to the door, Harry couldn't control his impulse as he took one of the rat brains and threw it at Ron's head. It connected with a disgusting splash and dripped down on Ron's shoulder as the other boy whirled around to face Harry.
'There, you obviously need one!'
Ron took a deep breath but never said anything as Snape came back. They had forgotten the open door and Snape had heard every shouted word.
'What is going on here?'
'Harry threw a rat brain at me!'
Snape turned to Harry, who opened his mouth to repeat what Ron had said, but then decided to only say 'He provoked me.'
'I am sure.' Snape said coldly 'Mr. Weasley, leave before I am tempted to take points.'
'For your lack of obedience. Leave!'
Ron shut up and stomped out, throwing the door closed. Snape crooked his fingers to make Harry follow him and re-entered his office.
'What was that?' he demanded the moment the door was closed behind them
'He said ugly things about you!' Harry said immediately now that Ron was out of the line of fire.
'Of course he did.' Snape waved his hand as if that hardly mattered 'Why couldn't you give him a verbal answer instead of wasting perfectly good potions ingredients?'
'I don't know!' Harry said frustrated and gritted his teeth. He was just so angry, he was so sick of everyone looking at him like he was a particularly nasty species of slug, he was so tired of being alone with this. Just that he wasn't really, he realized. Hermione and Severus. He looked up at his father, who was frowning at him, clearly worried. 'Dad, can you please find out what's in the first task for me?'
Snape raised his eyebrows 'I told you I would.'
'Yeah I know.' Harry said miserably, his eyes downcast, looking thoroughly miserable 'I just…'
He trailed away and Snape stood come 'Come on, let's brew something.'
Harry looked up as Snape pulled 'Moste Potente Potions' from its shelf and dropped it in front of him. Harry kept looking up at his father.
'Choose something.' Snape urged and Harry looked down at the worn book, that he and his father had rifled through so often. He stroked the cover reverently and felt his throat closing in. A bit of normalcy, brewing with his dad. He opened the book at any page and pointed at the potion. 'Polyjuice Potion, sure?'
Harry heard the amusement in his father's voice and knew that the past grievance was long forgotten, he gave him a shy smile and turned the page. 'Ah, that's better, Oculus Potion. But you won't be able to take it yet.'
'Why though?' Harry asked, he would rather like to lose his glasses.
'Because you are still growing and thus your eyesight is changing as well. When you are out of your teenage years, you can take it and be free of them.'
'Why does the headmaster still wear glasses or any other adult wizard?' Harry asked curiously as he followed his father back into the lab.
'The potion is expensive, that is why most people don't use it. The headmaster does not wear glasses for his sight.' Harry looked puzzled at that 'They have magical properties.'
'Oh. Do you know what they do?'
Snape shrugged 'A few things. He can look through stone and wood as far as I know… They detect warmth, so he can see if any living being is close.'
Harry thought back to his first year, when he was sitting in front of the mirror of Erised under his cloak and nodded thoughtfully, that made sense…
'It is not as powerful as Moody's eye.' Snape sneered at the mention of the auror. He didn't like the man much. 'Crystallize water, Harry.'
Harry nodded as he watched his father prepare the ingredients that needed to be put in first 'What will you do with this batch then?'
'I will keep it and after you and Mr. Weasley have made up, you will send it to Arthur Weasley as a present.'
'What?' Harry asked, stilling his movements and looking startled
'You and Ronald Weasley will be best friends again soon, I am sure. And if you give this potion to his father after he has bad-mouthed your father…' Snape raised an eyebrow at him and Harry chuckled
'Very Slytherin! You want me to make him feel bad and… what exactly?'
'Force gratitude.' Snape said easily 'He will think twice about abandoning you again. And too, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley have been very kind to you.'
Harry nodded, he remembered the sweet letter they had written him to encourage his adoption. Yeah, Mr. Weasley did deserve that potion and Ron deserved to feel guilty, so he was decided. As Harry took over brewing the potion, Snape put up another cauldron.
'What are you making?'
'Fertilizer, Dittani and Beast Bites.'
'Beast Bites?' Harry asked confused 'What…?'
'Treats for wild magical creatures. Can you guess what all this is for?'
Harry grinned 'To soften Hagrid up?'
Snape gave him a sly grin 'Something like that.'
Harry laughed, his father took his mission very seriously.
They worked alongside each other for a while before his father spoke again. He seemed hesitant to bring it up 'You do realize why Mr. Weasley was particularly… incensed today?'
Harry looked up and shook his head 'No, why?'
Snape glanced at him and sighed 'The article that came out today.'
Harry gritted his teeth 'Oh the article… That article! I wish I could slice her up and pickle her.'
Snape gave him a sympathetic smile 'It was of course tripe…'
'I wish other people would realize it! Half of what she said didn't even make sense. First of all, I'm fourteen, how hard is that to remember?' Harry spat 'And she didn't even mention Cedric and hardly said anything about the other champions. Wasn't that supposed to be about the Triwizard Tournament and not piece about me? And what is all this crap about rebelling and all of that rot she wrote. I hope you realize I never said any of it!'
Harry glared at his father and Snape nodded 'Of course not.'
'I didn't even say much in that closet other than 'err' and she just went mad with that.'
'Mad is a pretty good description of Rita Skeeter.' Snape murmured 'No one in their right mind would believe anything she wrote.'
'But they do!' Harry said frustrated, clinking his stirring rod against the cauldron 'Idiots, all of them!'
'I quite agree' Snape sighed, letting Harry vent his anger and frustration with the world 'I hope they will see more clearly after the first task.'
Harry nodded, looking dejected and hopeless. He stirred his potion 'What did you mean that was the reason Ron behaved like more of a git than usual.'
Snape hesitated again 'You remember what she wrote about you and competing in the tournament.' Harry frowned and nodded 'Especially that you had never needed anyone before and you didn't think the other champions stood a chance.'
'Yeah' Harry bit out, he had been distracted by the way she had misspelled Fleur's and Victor's names, that weren't really that hard to get right.
'He might have thought you had forgotten the adventures you two had gone through together… That you didn't need him.' Snape said softly 'Before you became my son the Weasleys were your surrogate family, but now not even that holds true. He might be afraid of losing you.'
'Well, he's making a good job of it, doesn't look like he's afraid of it to me!' Harry shouted and then took a deep breath 'If he thinks that then and then acts like this to me, he is a total moron!'
'Emotions aren't very logical and they are hard to understand and analyse' his father explained patiently 'He feels threatened and left behind and he lashed out against you. It seems logical to him.'
'I am sorry, Harry.'
'What are you sorry for?' Harry asked grumpily
'Well, first for agitating you again after you had just calmed down.' Snape explained 'And for taunting you in class with the article. It can't have helped, but you know…'
'I know.' Harry interrupted and shrugged 'It's okay, Dad, really. I had already forgotten about that. I leave it behind the moment I step out of the room.'
Snape nodded and sighed 'Ah, there was something I needed to tell you. As you are competing in the Tournament your potions project is not necessary just as you are not going to be taking part in the other end of year exams.'
Harry sighed in relief
'But I still wish you would work on it.'
Harry frowned 'Why? Don't I need to concentrate on the Tournament.'
'Indeed you must, but it might be a good way for you to forget your worries, Harry and…' Snape trailed away, cutting his ingredients with more care than usual.
'Well… it would force you to spend time with me.'
Harry blinked and then smiled 'I would spend time with you anyway dad.'
'I am sure you would wish to.' Snape said seriously 'But there is no better cover than you being my apprentice and working on the project because I am too much of a git to just let you off the hook.'
Harry's smile turned bitter. He hated having to make up excuses so he could spend time with his own father. He hated that he had to listen to other people badmouth him and agree. He hated all this secrecy. But there was no other way. 'Yeah, of course.'
When Harry returned to the Common Room that night he found Hermione there, bent over a book as usual 'Hey Hermione.'
She looked up and smiled widely 'Hey, Harry.'
Harry blinked and then said 'Something's different about you. I hadn't realized but…'
Hermione grinned wider and then it struck Harry 'Your teeth! They look… err…'
Hermione actually chuckled 'Well, when Goyle hit me with that curse Madam Pomfrey shrank the back and told me to stop her, when they returned to normal size. I let her carry on bit, it was too good a chance to pass up.'
'Ah… why didn't you ever do it yourself?'
'My parents forbade me to do any magic on myself, especially anything medical. You know, they're dentists, they don't think a fourteen year old should be playing around medicating and healing herself… But it was Madam Pomfrey, so they'll be okay with it.' She shrugged and smiled cheekily. Harry laughed
'Well, it looks really good.' Harry said heartily and plopped onto the sofa next to her 'I brewed Oculus Potion today.'
'But you're too young to drink it.' Hermione said immediately
'I know, it's for Ron's dad. My dad said that I should give it to him after Ron and I made up to make him feel bad.'
'Ah!' Hermione said 'That's pretty Slytherin.'
Harry smiled softly 'That's my dad.'
'He's really smart.' Hermione sighed 'I think you and Ron will be friends again, too.'
'Do you think I should forgive him?' Harry asked frowning 'when he finally asks for it.'
Hermione shrugged and then made a face 'Wearing that pin is pretty foul of him. But he'll regret it and come around, I'm sure.'
'Well, then there's two of you. I am not so certain.' Harry grumbled 'You and my dad do think alike.'
Hermione beamed at him and Harry felt a churning in his stomach, he shouldn't encourage her like that. But on the other hand, he knew that Hermione did not have any hope anyway, so was it really encouraging? He was getting headache 'I'm going to bed. So glad that it's Friday!'
Hermione nodded 'I'll finish this essay and then I'll go to bed too.'
'Good night' Harry yawned
'Good night' was the whispered response
'Ah, Professor Snape!' Hagrid beamed at the professor and straightened up from his garden. Snape leaned on his low fence.
'I see you are working on the garden again, the pumpkins this year were magnificent as usual.'
Hagrid beamed at the praise
'What are you going to plant next?'
'Ah, don't know yet, Pr'fessor.'
Snape nodded and looked into the Dark Forest for a while 'I am worried about Harry, Hagrid. You are his oldest and closest friend. He came to you first about advice for the adoption.'
Hagrid puffed out his chest 'The Tourn'ment's dangerous.' Hagrid nodded to underline his statement.
'If he just knew what he was facing… If he could prepare. It would alleviate his nervousness.' Snape sighed theatrically 'I feel so hopeless, Hagrid. How can I help him face the unknown? Ever since I became his father I have been questioning myself… Am I enough? Will I ever fill the void left by his parents?' Hagrid was close to tears now 'Now I am put to the test and feel wholly inadequate… If only James and Lily could be here, I would do anything to bring him back a real parent…'
'Don' say that pr'fessor! You are enough, Harry woul'nta want to hear anythin' else!' Hagrid cried 'And if it helps…'
Hagrid sighed, looked around and then leaned closer 'Tell 'im it's Norbert and his siblin's'
'He'll understand! Can' say no more.'
Snape blinked but then nodded 'Thank you so much, Hagrid.'
Snape really hoped this hint was enough for Harry. If not, he still had the potions he had brewed for Hagrid, maybe that would get him more than just a hint.
The next possible opportunity Snape pulled Harry away from his peers into a dark nook.
'Do you know who Norbert is?'
Harry immediately put together the name with his knowledge that his father wanted to pump Hagrid for information about the first task. He gasped 'Dragons!'
Snape's eyes went wide with shock and he gripped Harry's shoulders 'No!'
Harry's eyes looked wide with fear and he was practically frozen in shock. Snape felt a tremble go through his arms and pulled Harry against his chest to hug him close. Dragons! For Merlin's sake, what were they thinking? To have children face creatures like that! They would end up as roasted Dragon dinner! Harry was shivering in his arms. Reassurance, he needed reassurance.
'Don't worry, Harry. We'll prepare you, there are things we can do. We'll have you take the Ice Potion, you remember from First Year?'
'Your riddle.' Harry murmured against his cloak and nodded.
'There are salves I can brew to protect your skin from scratches…'
'But how will I defeat it?'
'They can't want you to defeat it. I will investigate further. There must be dragon tamers… We will find a way, I promise.'
Harry leaned against his father and sighed in relief. He wasn't alone, he had someone on his side, who would protect him and do anything to help him.
'You are not allowed to help.' Harry said, looking up 'The rules.'
'Damn the rules!' Snape whispered furiously, cupping Harry's cheek 'You were not supposed to enter at all…'
The voice froze them both in place. Snape let go of Harry and stepped out of the nook 'Aurora!'
He heard Harry grumble behind him. Auror looked surprised to see Harry emerging behind him and refusing to meet her eyes or acknowledge her presence.
'Professor.', that one word carried so much resentment, that Aurora staggered mentally. Harry had never been defiant or even cheeky in her class. He was always polite and friendly.
'You are dismissed, Mr. Potter. Go to your next class.' Snape interrupted her musings and Harry dashed off, without looking at them once.
'What where you doing there together?'
'I was admonishing him.' Snape lied smoothly 'I had seen him lurking near the forest last night from the windows while on night patrol.'
'Oh, he was probably trying to find out more about the first task.'
'Anything you know, I don't?' Severus asked lightly, falling into step beside her
'Oh, well I can see a lot from my tower and there were suspicious… bursts of flame.' She smiled at him 'I turned my telescope down and what should I see but…' she lowered he voice 'dragons!'
Snape did his best to look surprised 'Really? But that's…'
'Irresponsible.' Aurora nodded 'To have dangerous animals like that so close to a school. To have children face them!'
Snape nodded, agreeing fiercely 'Did you see anything else?'
'There was something curious… golden eggs.'
'They glinted in the moonlight. That's why I looked closer. They were lying with the other dragon eggs.'
Snape frowned 'Could you see how many?'
'I counted four.'
Snape looked up to her 'One for each champion. They have to steal them!'
Hey guys! I am so sorry it took so long! This chapter was especially hard to write, I'm not sure why... The beginning worked well but after their confrontation it was just a pain to write... Hope I'll get back on that horse soon... Still, longest chapter yet!
If you like my style and want more Severitus, I have another story going on, called 'All I Want For Christmas', it's a challenge response for potionsandsnitchesDOTcom.
And don't forget to listen in on the first chapter of 'love is a charm' on youtube, in my 'lovely' voice. Search for "Audiobook ~ Love is a charm ~ Intro & Prologue" I will post more chapters if I get a few reviews or any sign that anybody gives a crap ;)
Thanks so much for your lovely reviews and patience with me:
BlueWater5, DarkRavie, Anaquine, joshsmom1983, Silverstargirl, Estel Ashlee Snape, HiddenViolet, delenda est c
PadfootIsMyHomeDawg: Thanks so much for the praise and continued support! You don't know how much it mens to me to read comments from you guys and see that you like my work. It's really gratifying to see the same people come back for more, it's one of the gretest compliment!
The Lonely God With a Box: wow, thank you so much for your three long reviews, they were such a treat to read!
1. Oh, I was always a Snape/Aurora shipper :D Especially becuse she is such an underdeveloped character that you can basically do anything with her as a ff author. I haven't really planned on letting Harry know that sev was in love with his mom, as of yet its only been a device for character development for snape. But i might let that bomb blow some day ;) Occlumency will take care of the visions, but let's not forget that Harry is a very unexperienced and young occlumense, he might slip at some moment...
2. Sev calling hermione harrys girlfriend was just a little pun on hermiones crush on him ;) he is totally unaware of that. the hugging and apparating thing might come up again, I'm planning a prank with it but don't know if it'll make the series or if I'll just put it into the 'love is a dream' oneshot collection. snape realized that hermione was the only child who had no parent present to reassure her, he thought it might be diffucult for her to watch them fawn over their children while she was alone and probably scared as well. snapes views and reasons to join the death eater will come up in this series as well. i will have a lot of arguments between harry and snape, as harry is getting more comfortable with their relationship and is put under a lot of stress. but remember, snape grew up in the muggle world (still lives there, albeit isolated and only 3 months a year), his pureblooded family side abandoned his mother and he was in love with lily. that should give you a few pointers as to how he thinks about muggles and the muggle world.
3. Maybe my trnslation of aromas isn't right, but you must've heard of them. as Harry said, they're often used in baking. rum aroma for example, if you have children in the house and you don't want them ingesting alcohol. but there's also vanilla, orange and much more. as you know I stay close to canon, snape was not involved in the torture of the longbottoms, which does not mean he feels no guilt over it. there was a little more about her crush in this chapter. well, a crush being crushed (yeah, bad pun, but I coulnd't resist). Your question over ron is answered in this chapter, I made him a bit worse than in canon with actually wearing the pin, but as snape says, he has more issues with harry than in canon
I also wrote a book and would be delighted if you went and took a look at it, you can find it on Amazon:
The birds and the bees - Halal Edition