Disclaimer: J.K.R. owns Harry Potter and co., not me (I wouldn't mind owning Sev though). This story is slightly (basically bits of the plot ideas; just technical stuff) inspired by Minnionette's A Gutter Rat's Tale and Dauphin's Let History Repeat Itself. Niamh O'Feir, Jardin, Mika Davids, Darcorn's, and anything you don't recognize belong to me.
Not Myself by Saerry Snape
Chapter 128 – Birthdays and Discussions
"Happy birthday, Harry!"
"Now I know I doan deserve this," said Harry as Niamh (who had come from her aunt's the day before) hugged him about the neck.
"Sure you do!" cried Niamh. "Did you ever have a birthday party before you met us?"
Harry smiled at her and replied, "Jus' one."
"What's that?" asked Ron.
Mrs. Weasley smiled, looking up from where she was cutting the cake, to say, "I believe he's talking about his first birthday with Lily and James."
Harry nodded and almost said something about the birthday. But he had not told his friends what had happened when he was in his coma, so they did not know that he had been in limbo and had met his mother as well as Professor Figg's twin sister. Twin Death Eater spy sister, nonetheless.
He had wanted to tell his father but as Madam Pomfrey had prevented everyone from seeing the injured professor, he had been unable to do so.
"Serpent to Harry, serpent to Harry."
Harry blinked and looked down at Hedwig, who was curled about his wrist. He could hear Ginny snickering softly in the background.
"The Fox laughs at me!"
Harry just chuckled and said, "Well, whot ye said was funny, Hed."
"Here," said Mrs. Weasley, shoving a plate with a large slice of cake on it into Harry's hands. "Eat."
"Aye, ma'am," chirped Harry, giving her a sharp salute as he collapsed into a chair. Niamh flopped down beside him and nipped a small piece off of his cake. "Oi!"
Niamh laughed and cut off a corner of her own cake, nudging it towards the edge of her plate. Harry shook his head as she grinned at him and he reached over to jab the piece on the end of his fork.
"You both are fruitcakes," commented Fred.
Harry and Niamh both looked at each other, grinned, then looked at Fred, and said in childish tones, "But there's no fruit in these cakes…"
George snorted at the same time Ginny coughed into her glass. Mrs. Weasley slapped her daughter on the back before handing Bill, who was currently visiting the Burrow, a piece of the cake.
* * * *
In Hogwarts, a very tired Severus Snape slouched down in the chair he occupied in the Headmaster's office. As he did so, he winced and held back the urge to grab his aching leg. Even months afterward, the torture Voldemort (and various other Death Eater's) had put him through still troubled his body.
He was lucky that he had not gone insane.
"Hurting again, Severus?" said Dumbledore, frowning at his Potion's Master.
Severus grimaced and replied, "Only a lingering ache, Albus. What is it that you wanted?"
He shouldn't be sitting in this office. He should be with his son, celebrating the boy's sixteenth birthday. But no. Poppy had forbidden him to leave the castle grounds and Dumbledore had concreted that by casting a charm that did not allow him to leave the grounds. He had tried four different times to get off the grounds afterwards and each time had found himself transported back to the entrance hall.
It greatly irked him. Much more than anything else the old Headmaster had done.
"I wished to speak to you about Harry."
"What about him?" growled Severus, remembering the last time someone had wanted to talk about Harry. He'd been ordered to kill the boy – his son.
"He…told me something recently that greatly disturbs me."
"Oh? What did he do? Raise one of Hagrid's beasts under his bed? Smuggle a dragon egg in? Perhaps a wolf cub? Do tell, Albus. What has my son done?"
Dumbledore gave him a grave look for his joking and chided, "This is a serious matter, Severus."
"Ah, a serious matter. Pray tell then."
"He has committed murder."
Severus sat bolt upright in his chair and let out a sharp hiss as pain shot through him. When Dumbledore moved to stand, he snarled, "Don't even, old man. Now…what is this talk of murder?"
"A man. I believe the one that raised him."
"A man named…Argil?"
"Yes. How did you know?"
"There was an – incident. Just before Harry's fourth year. We – he, Niamh, and I – went to Diagon Alley. They snuck out into London and had a run-in with one of Harry's old friends; that boy Tyls."
"What happened?" asked Dumbledore.
"Something happened to the boy, Tyls. I don't know what. But I found Harry later that night, coming out of a burning building. He was saying something but I never caught it." Severus frowned at the old wizard and added, "That was where it happened, wasn't it? This murder."
"I fear it might be so. I requested to know and he placed the memory in my Pensieve for a time. Miss O'Feir and I both viewed it. The boy Tyls died on that night. After that, Harry killed the man – this Argil."
"I see," murmured Severus. "So Tyls…"
"A zombie. Brought back to life by Voldemort, if I do not miss my guess."
Severus glared daggers at Dumbledore.
"Who else would wish to throw Harry off by bringing back someone who had died in his very presence? I wondered long and hard why he and Niamh were both off after that incident. Now I know."
"Did you recognize the boy?"
"Tyls? The name only. I had never seen him before. But I did wonder where he had come from and where he had obtained the Gift."
"It seems we have discovered where," said Dumbledore gravely, glaring at his Potions Master for not revealing that information. "As to the matter of Harry…"
"Albus," growled Severus, "Harry is not some cold-blooded killer. If he indeed killed this man, he had good reason." As he said this, he trembled to know that his son had been forced to kill at such a young age. No one so young should ever have to do such a thing. And now he'd had to do so twice. For if he knew his son, Harry would have taken care of the matter of this zombie himself. Which would explain why he couldn't find Ardwynhén, the true name of the sword Harry had drawn from the Sorting Hat three years previous.
"That still does not excuse…"
"Albus! There are rules of the streets that you do not know. You do not survive upon them by being 'nice'."
"That is no excuse for murder."
Severus scowled darkly and growled, "Do you still have this memory?"
"No. Harry took it back."
"I see. I shall have to speak to him about this…"
"Innocent until proven guilty, Albus," grunted Severus as he heaved himself painfully to his feet. He smiled slightly at the old man over his shoulder as he added, "Isn't that what you told Mad-Eye when he wanted to throw me to the Dementors without trial?"
Dumbledore nodded gravely and Severus felt a surge of triumph.
"I will write Harry. Ask him about this."
"Perhaps a conversation over the Floo would be better," said Dumbledore.
"I am in no condition to crouch in front of a fire, Albus. Letter writing I can do. Good day."
"Good day," whispered Dumbledore to the dark wizard's retreating back.
Do not worry, said Fawkes, hopping to his bond's shoulder and rubbing his sleek head against Dumbledore's cheek. All will turn out right.
The old wizard smiled and reached up a withered hand to stroke the phoenix's scarlet-and-gold plumage.
"I hope you are right, old friend."
I shall be, never fear, assured Fawkes, dark eyes flashing.
* * * *
"Come on, Harry! Rip it!"
"Ye shut up," snapped Harry, glaring mildly at Fred. "Ye fools wrapped this li' a bloody…t'ing tha's really wrapped up."
George snorted and said, "That's a good one, Harry!"
"Shaddup," snarled the dark-haired boy, jerking the paper savagely. He finally sighed and hurled it at Fred, who yelped in surprise. "'Ere. 'Is yer wrappin'. Ye open i'."
"But its your present…"
Harry turned one of his father's glares on the twin and Fred gave a sharp salute.
"Aye, captain, sir! Open I shall!" He then paused and said, "George, come help me."
Ron began to laugh as Harry reached out and snagged a package that had Ginny's writing scrawled across it. He ripped it open to find a large book with an ornate snake painted on the cover. The snake appeared real enough to speak to.
"Wha' is i'?" he asked, staring at the book.
Ginny smiled and replied, "A book written by Slytherin himself. I found it in the attic of Flourish and Blotts. The clerk thought it was a book on charms. I guess it only shows itself to Slytherin's."
Harry grinned and set the book aside, saying, "T'anks, Gin. I' shou' be interestin'."
"It is." When Harry looked at her, the redhead shrugged and said, "I read a few pages near the middle. There's a whole section on ancient dueling techniques and even one that explains about Parseltongue. That was particularly interesting."
Harry just smiled at the girl who shared his ability to speak to snakes then reached out for the next gift, which was from Ron. It turned out to be a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. Several boxes of them, in fact.
Hermione's gift was another book – this one on modern dueling techniques. Mika's was a Snitch that the boy claimed was a gift from the English Seeker. How he'd gotten it was not explained but Harry couldn't help but smile as the Snitch zoomed about his head. Niamh had given him a new wand holster as she had noticed that his own was becoming a bit ragged about the edges and one of its straps was about to come loose. Fred and George's gift had turned out to be a box of their various products, which they had disguised as a box of Chocolate Frog's to keep their mother from confiscating them.
The other Weasley's – with the exception of Percy – had teamed up to buy him another pair of combat boots. His last three gifts were from his father, Hagrid, and a joint gift from Remus and Sirius. Hagrid had sent a dagger that featured a snake as the hilt, his father had sent what appeared to be a Pensieve, and the last two Marauder's had given him his mother's wand, which had somehow survived the fire at Godric's Hollow. Harry's eyes prickled as he remembered the only time he had spent with his mother and slipped the wand up his sleeve, tucking it through the loose straps of his wand holster.
As always, it was a good birthday. Minus the fact that his father was not there.
* * * *
Two weeks later, Niamh's birthday came around along with the sending out of the OWL results. Her birthday was celebrated with the same vigor as Harry's and had just about the same amount of presents.
The two eldest Weasley's had pitched in to buy the girl a leather coat, while the twins had given her a collection of candies that were not recognizable. She carefully set them aside as though they might explode and turned to the next set of gifts.
Ginny's gift was a shirt that had the Slytherin crest on the front and the words 'The Lady Hex' in large green writing on the back (she had one for Harry as well that read 'The Lord Hex'). Ron had come up with a book on Quidditch whilst Hermione had found one on dueling tactics. Mika had sent a wand holster that he claimed his father had used at one point in time, which had delighted the girl so much that Harry was forced to tie her to her chair.
Her aunt had given her her birthday gift before she'd come to the Burrow (which was the Nine Inch Nails CD "Broken") and Harry had polished off her collected by giving her "The Frail". Hagrid had sent a box of his rock cakes, at which everyone who had been subjected to them winced – Niamh was later seen using them as paperweights.
Four days after Niamh's birthday, the OWLS arrived. Hermione was the only one that was ecstatic. Ron was sullen about it and Niamh had brought up a question to Harry.
"Harry," she'd said as the school owl accepted a piece of bacon from Mrs. Weasley and left.
"Whot?" asked Harry.
"What are you going to do about your OWLS?"
Hermione suddenly shrieked, "Oh my God! HARRY! Your OWLS! What are you going to do? Your going to fail and then we'll be a year above you and…and…"
"Breathe, Mione, breathe," said Harry sharply. When the bushy-haired girl calmed down, he continued, "Ah talked wi' the Headmaster abou' i' before we lef'. 'E's goin' ter le' me take tha' OWLS over Chris'mas hols."
"What about all the work you missed?" asked Ginny.
Harry grinned and replied, "Summer work. Ah already goh half o' i' done. Simple really."
"Only you would say that," said Ron with a laugh. He then paled as his mother handed him a sheet of paper before proceeding to hand similar one's to Hermione and Niamh.
Hermione let out a sudden squeal and hugged the nearest person about the neck – who just happened to be Ron. The ginger-haired boy blushed to the roots of his hair and so did Hermione after she noticed who she was hugging. She threw herself backwards, stammering incoherently until Niamh jerked her down into her seat.
"How many?" asked the dark-haired girl.
"How many OWLS did you get?"
Hermione smiled and replied, "16. O's in everything."
Niamh blinked then cried, "That's our Mione!" She then turned to Ron and asked, "What about you?"
"8," replied Ron. Mrs. Weasley frowned slightly then patted her youngest son's shoulder and turned back to fixing lunch.
"Whot abou' ye, Ni?" asked Harry.
"10," chirped Niamh. "I bet you'll get as many as Mione, Harry!"
The dark-haired boy laughed and said, "Nah. Ah'm nah tha' smar'."
"Don't sell yourself short, dear," said Mrs. Weasley. "If I remember correctly, Severus and Lily both got 14 OWLS. Lily messed up on Potions and Severus on Charms. Neither of them were ever good in those areas yet the other was." She smiled, as though to herself, as she continued, "I also found that amusing."
Harry smiled at her comment. He found it amusing too.
"Anyone for Quidditch?" asked Ginny suddenly.
Harry's eyes brightened and Niamh grinned as she crowed, "Let's go!"
An instant later the table had cleared, leaving Mrs. Weasley to yell after them, "Lunch in is an hour! Don't make me get you all!"
"Yes, ma'am," chorused three voices along with two that said, "Yes, Mum!"
Mrs. Weasley chuckled softly and turned back towards the stove, which was currently cooking on its own. She stood there for a moment, her wand poising over a pot as her mind wandered elsewhere. When she came back, she flicked her wand at the pot, which floated off the stove and onto a hand towel sitting on the counter.
As she continued to cook, she hoped that Harry and his friends would have at least one normal school year.
But she seriously doubted it.