Hello there. Just a little interlude to tie up one loose end before I start up the next big section. So here is a little chapter before the third challenge of the tournament. I don't particularly like it, but here it is. Thanks to all of my wonderful reviewers and the heartening comments. Just so you know this next month is going to be hectic for me so there may be some lapse in between chapters but I will try my best.
Thank you for your letter. Though I must say I am surprised to have heard from you, especially on this topic. I am sorry if I am a bit . . . reluctant to bring up stories from the past. The incidents in which you are speaking are not my proudest moments and they are not Sirius's either. I want to stress that out of context the situation may look . . . bad. Even horrific. But I wanted to let you know that there was never any true evil intent behind any of our actions. I do not want you to think of Sirius in a bad light because of the follies of his youth.
The incident that you asked about. It is true that a prank by Sirius went too far. Sirius had hoped to scare Snape using my werewolf to do so. He had dropped hints, hoping that Snape would be nosey and attempt to enter the passage under the Whomping Willow. Snape followed us down on the night of a full moon. My wolf tried to attack him. Your father ended up saving him by pulling him from the passage and holding me off while he ran away.
It was a stupid prank and Sirius was admonished harshly for it by the Headmaster. I can understand why Snape would still be angry at such a thing, to be tricked by Sirius and then saved by your father whom he hated. It is true that there was a lot of animosity between them. They played some school boy pranks and he would retaliate in kind.
I understand that you may have developed a . . . friendship of sorts with Snape. I would ask you to take everything he says with a grain of salt. Sirius was merely a boy who enjoyed a prank or two. That one happened to get too far out of hand. Please do not look at him in a different light because of it. He loves you very much.
Please stay safe in the games.
I am sorry for the long wait for this letter. I wanted to get all of the facts before I wrote something that I would regret.
I will not stop going to Professor Snape for help and lessons. He has been nothing but kind, for certain definitions of the term, to me. He has helped me with my grades and with my health as well. I was the one who approached him and I do not regret it. There is nothing that you can say that will sway my mind. I am fully aware of his past and while it is not ideal, he has most certainly made up for it. He did a lot for the war and you should respect him for what he did.
I will not sit here and listen to you speak of him as if he is worth nothing. Least in part because I know what you have done to make him act the way he does around you. Especially since you have caused much of that animosity and his attitude is justified because of what you did to him. He nearly died because of you. For what? A laugh? Because you assumed he was evil because he was a Slytherin and you thought he might have an interest in Dark Magic? You were nothing but a biased bully who thought he was superior because of his house.
Before you claim that I am being brainwashed or have missed your side of the story. I would remind you that some of this stuff you admitted to yourself. I also asked Remus because I didn't want to believe that you would act that way. But facts are facts. No matter the excuse and reasons that you may use, what you did to Snape was indefensible. You cannot claim the moral high ground after that.
As for Ron? No, I will not go back to being friends with him. I have no problem with the rest of the Weasley family but he I do. He is childish, mean spirited and jealous. I will not be friends with him just because he is 'light' or his family is 'good'. I will chose my acquaintances based on whether they are kind to me and if they treat others fairly. By those metrics Ron fails dramatically. Baseless labels such as 'light' and 'dark' cause the rifts that start wars like the one you experienced. I will not hate someone just because they are labeled dark, nor love someone just because they are 'light'. Actions are what matters.
Sirius . . . you are still my godfather and I still care for you. I understand that you are probably having a hard time since you were let out of Azkaban. You are angry and alone. I can see why you lash out and want to protect me from dangers you think are there. A great many things have changed while you were in Azkaban. I don't want to ruin our relationship because of prejudices that are best left in the past. Please let this lie. Don't force me to choose between two people. Please get better and please let me be.
Harry felt horrible after he sent off his letter to Sirius. Not because of what he said. It needed to be said. Though perhaps the language he used came out more flowery and formal than he normally would. He chalked that up to spending too much time listening to Snape. He just knew that it would hurt Sirius. As Snape had mentioned before, he was all alone in the world right now after spending so many years alone with his worst memories.
"You can't leave a weed to grow just on the off chance that it may flower." That's what Snape had said. He hadn't been specifically talking about Sirius at the time, having never brought up the conversation again. Instead it was when they were discussion poisonous relationships, it seemed fitting. Harry did not want to go back to being complacent in his life. He couldn't expect for Sirius to give up on his hatred for Snape if no one ever said anything to the contrary. If that meant that he had to be harsh with Sirius, then so be it. It didn't stop that agonizing pain in his chest, like someone had reached through his skin to stop his heart from beating by holding it still. So Harry wandered outside, despite the grey clouds that would probably open up in the afternoon.
"Hurts." A weak thready hiss rang out. Harry turned toward the sound. Off near the entrance of the maze was the distinctive flash of silver that indicated Labyrinth's presence. He turned to greet the little creature but faltered his step. The silver snake was sitting in a puddle of blood. He could hear the wheezy hiss that seemed to rattle his entire body.
"Labyrinth!" He exclaimed, kneeling down with his hands hovering over the snake but not yet touching. The silver krait may have been his friend but he wasn't fool enough to touch poison snake that was in pain.
"Speaker to . . . Snakes. . . I hurt." Labyrinth whined, lazily flipping his tail.
"What happened?" Harry questioned.
"The beasts of the maze. Got trapped . . . by wild magic. . ."
"I know someone who can heal you!" Harry said. "May I bring you to them?"
"Please." With the whispered word Harry gently picked up the snake, tucking him under his robes so that no one would see him carrying it. He took a few steps towards Hagrid's hut but he stopped. Hagrid may be the care of magical creatures professor but he was not sure that the man had any real talent at healing injured animals. He was more suited for controlling or feeding them. So after only a moment's hesitation Harry turned towards the dungeons, hoping that Snape was not busy with something else.
"Professor!" Harry shouted when the office door permitted him entrance.
"I am not deaf Potter. Try and act civilized when inside." Snape purred, exiting his personal stores, jars bobbing behind him. He didn't even glance at the Gryffindor as he directed the jars onto a table.
"I need your help!" Harry stepped up to his desk, revealing the snake to Snape's surprised gaze. "This is Labyrinth. He got hurt in the maze. Please can you help him?"
"In the maze you say?"
"Yes, sometimes he leaves the maze and I have been talking to him. He really likes ham." He said with a shrug.
"Very well, lay him flat and instruct him not to move or bite." Snape snapped, raising his wand up. Harry whispered the instructions to the snake. Labyrinth nodded his head slowly, stretching his body out as instructed. Snape was stone faced as he whipped his wand through the air with the precision that spoke to years of practice.
"Potter get me these potions." Harry scrambled to the store room plucking bottles off the shelves as Snape shouted them from his position over the snake. He returned with the bottles, lining them up in the order he was instructed. "Tell him to open his mouth."
Harry watched in interest as Snape tapped each of the potions bottle. With a whispered word a portion of the potion would float out of the bottle, floating in a little bubble. Then directing it like a conductor the potion would follow the tip of his wand in a thin steam out of the bubble and into the open mouth the injured snake. He sighed in relief as the lacerations that where crisscrossing over the snake started to knit themselves together. With a damp towel he washed off the blood, patting him dry as Snape put away his supplies.
"If you feel it is safe I would wrap him around your neck. He lost a lot of blood and will need warmth. He will probably sleep for a long while. It will not be safe to bring him back outside just yet." Harry nodded, picking up the snake and draping him around his neck. Labyrinth purred happily, curling close to Harry's neck. Harry wandered over to the seat in front of the fire, gently petting the snake. Snape returned to his desk, pulling out his notebook taking time to study the jars he had originally pulled out. They sat in silence for a while, just enjoying the calm that permeated.
"Are you ready for the final challenge?" Snape asked. Harry heaved a sigh and slumped deeper into his seat.
"Not hardly. Though I don't really need to be. Since the challenge is to get to the trophy first I don't really need to. I'll just finds a nice dead end and stay there until someone else gets it." Harry groaned. He toed off his shoes, letting the fire warm his toes.
"For the best." Snape hummed, letting his eyes rove over the boy. Whatever he was looking for he must have found because he turned back to his papers.
"I wrote Sirius."
"I didn't want to. I wrote to Remus beforehand. He confirmed what you said about how he acted in school. I couldn't really just ignore that, you know."
"And I feel really bad about it. But also kind of felt good. Though I think that made me feel worse."
"What would you like me to say?" Snape set his quill onto the table.
"I . . . I'm not sure." Harry mumbled, stroking along the soft scales. "I know I probably did the right thing, if it was not the kind thing. I just wish there was something . . . well something that would make me feel better about it."
"There isn't." Snape said bluntly. He steepled his fingers together, resting his chin on them as he pierced Harry with his gaze. "The unfortunate thing about doing things that are right but not nice is that there is nothing to say that will make you feel better. In fact, seeking out platitudes will only make you feel worse."
"So what should I do?"
"Remind yourself that you did what you thought was right. Wait until the guilt fades." He instructed simply, never breaking his gaze.
"That is life." That was accompanied by a slightly bitter laugh. "Potter if you came here for simple comforts and happy lies you best find someone else who will listen to you. I am quite incapable of being that person."
"Oh I know." Harry chuckled. "I just figured that if there was anyone who would know, well it would be you wouldn't it." With a heavy sigh he hoisted himself up from the chair. "Thank you Professor Snape. For helping out Labyrinth."
"Keep that snake close with you Mr. Potter. The last thing you need is to have a poisonous snake that is roaming free throughout the school." Snape turned back to the notebook with a little smirk, letting Harry slip out of the door and head back to his dorms.
Labyrinth decided that he liked being an 'indoor snake'. After riding around on Harry's shoulders he decided that is where he wanted to stay. When Harry had asked if he wanted to return to his home all he received was an unhappy hiss and a declaration that he will remain with Harry where he will be fed tasty meat and be warm.
Harry spelled a deep pocket into his robes. Hermione helped him with a warming spell. So whenever Harry was out of the dorms the little snake would curl up in his pocket and rest. At dinner time he would poke his head out, begging for scraps of meat. Harry was indulgent for a while until he read up on proper snake care. Labyrinth threw an almighty fit when he was informed that he wouldn't be getting fed every day at every meal.
"You will get fat." Harry tried to reason with him.
"I would like to get fat." The snake demanded. In the end the Gryffindor had to give him an all or nothing ultimatum. The snake eventually settled, deciding that the comfort of always having a warm pocket to sleep and food he did not need to hunt for was far more important.
Harry enjoyed having the snake as a pet. Perhaps it was because he could communicate with the snake that it seemed better. Labyrinth was no great thinker. In long talks you could tell that he was far more animal. Simple concepts seemed to elude him, such as how teachers taught or how people interact. Harry had long given up on trying to explain the benefits of clothes and how friends work. When Labyrinth was attempting to explain things to Harry he had to try and translate. Things like the nuance of smells and nesting and hunting grounds. However, despite the occasional mistranslations Labyrinth was fun. He had a colorful way of describing people, often bordering on things people would call insults.
Professor Snape was called 'the man who smells of plants with beak of hawk'. Hermione was dubbed 'the chatty sphinx'. Dumbledore was "the brightly colored weeping willow". He would whisper his descriptions in Harry's ear. Leaving a running commentary of the people and things he saw as he rode alongside Harry.
At night he would curl up on Harry's chest. He would tell stories that he had heard in his nest from his mother. Stories that she had heard from her nest mother. Legends that no humans, save the rare few, had ever heard before. Harry would sleep deeply and quietly to the lulling sound of Labyrinths hiss.