DISCLAIMER: Do you recognize Rowling's name? How about mine? That should answer it for you.
A/N: Another chapter already! Thanks for the reviews.
WARNING: Deathly Hallows SPOILERS included below…
O X O X O X O X O X O
AN UNWANTED REVELATION
Grimmauld Place was truly on its last leg. It rankled him a bit that Draco's estimation of months rather than Dora's estimation of years seemed to be closer to the truth. Harry carefully walked up the stairwell, avoiding the various pieces of debris and other obstacles as he continued on his way up towards the second floor and the remains of the library left behind after their escape from the building.
It was hard to walk within the remains of the house… Sirius' house. It was almost like yet another tangible anchor into Harry's past, his godfather and his parents… and now Moony, was lost. It was a heavy price that Tom Riddle demanded, the hidden remnants of his soul demanded payment. Dumbledore… this house. So much.
Trying to pull his way from his darkening thoughts, Harry carefully reached the top landing, the wooden steps cracking as his weight was finally away, the precarious support left for something a little more stable.
Harry wasted no time to enter the shattered remains of the library. Shelves lined the floor like nothing g more than broken timbers of wood. Most had been empty, either stolen away by the Order's resident thief or more likely appropriated by Harry and his companions at the end of the summer.
Either way, this was Draco's idea. There had to be more information about the Founders… something that they had missed. Harry had disagreed, but Hermione and Ron both had sided with him… well, with Jay Flemming, and now Harry was wasting another Hogsmeade weekend searching for a clue, anything, that might lead to find the last of Tom's hidden treasures.
While searching the room, tossing useless books into a pile of trash in the corner, Harry fought to keep his thoughts on the task at hand rather than of the various other troubles that seemed to plague his life. It was no use, however, as he was stuck looking at the spines and inner pages of various books, his mind involuntarily drawn to Hermione. She'd love this. Well… everything but the tossing of books away as being useless. She would never consider a book, no matter its contents, as useless. She'd lve the search, though. She had, in fact, wanted to accompany him. He'd said no.
Since sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, things had definitely gotten worse. Harry had known it was the wring choice the moment it started, but the void inside had just become too much, too hard to control. He'd welcomed the idea of losing himself in her embrace… even if it had screwed everything else.
And thinking of Hermione immediately led to Tonks. What was he going to do? It was in times like this that he felt the true void of losing every parental figure in his life the most. This was the type of thing a parent or a godfather or an unofficial uncle, even an honorary grandfather, might have been able to provide sage words of wisdom. Something. But Harry was alone in his failures. Andromeda Tonks had him blockaded into a corner.
He was so lost in his thoughts that Harry only noticed that he was no longer alone in the house at the last moment. Taking a deep breath, he leapt to the left while pulling his wand from the sleeve of his shirt. His first instinct was to use one of the heavier hexes in his armory of spells, the idea of a friend or ally approaching unannounced was foolish, but he chose for a simple binding spell instead.
The spell had barely bounced harmlessly from a shield before Harry felt magical ropes snaking along his legs, limiting his movement. He still had failed to get a good look at his opponent, choosing his own safety over that of his attacker, and allowed the heavy quiet of his magic fell his body as he let loose with a heavier barrage of spells. He grunted in shock as he felt his own Bludgeoning Hex strike his side, reflected from the powerful shield. It should not have been enough, but he had barely had a chance to look up at the figure facing off against him before the world seemed to go black.
His last thought was of the two women he loved… and that he had failed them both.
O X O X O X O X O X O
Blinking rapidly as he felt himself forced awake, Harry shook his head to clear the heavy fog that seemed to fill his head, especially after being forced unconscious. Feeling slightly better, though he felt one killer of a headache coming on, Harry opened his eyes to peer at the wizard standing above him. Harry felt his blood run cold to see Severus Snape standing over him, his dark eyes boring glittering in triumph, and that damned smirk on his face.
"So. Mister Potter. I see your skills at magic are as magnificent as always."
Harry struggled to move, but found that he was now completely bound in the magical ropes that had tripped him sometime earlier. Seeing that it was useless to keep at it, he le out a heavy breath and looked back at his former professor.
"What the Hell do you want?"
Snape merely arched a single eyebrow. "To think that all of our hopes reside in someone as pathetic as you, Mister Potter. It almost makes me wish to turn you over to the Dark Lord, to take my chances on his side, than to continue on with the machinations of a truly great man… a man that sacrificed everything for you."
"What a marvelous comeback. Your wit is as astute as your class work ever was." Severus Snape paused. "I need for you to curb your natural tendency to act before thinking and to hear me out. There is…"
Harry wanted to kill. "Why should I… Aaaarrrggghhhh!"
"Quiet!" Snape struck Harry with a harsh Stinging Hex. Seeing Harry grit his teeth, Severus nodded. "As I was saying, there are things you need to know. Things that Dumbledore wanted for you to have."
"He could have given them to me himself if you hadn't killed him." Harry spat back, not caring if he was punished again for speaking.
The former professor only shrugged. "For someone with so little of the actual knowledge of what is actually going on, you have a remarkable knack for speaking as if you have all of the information."
"What could you possibly tell me?"
Snape rolled his eyes. "Even after I sent Draco to you, armed with knowledge that you needed in regards to the horcruxes. Then the planting of the mobile phone for you to find. Everything I have done, all from the shadows, and you still act so much like your father…"
"Leave my father out of this."
"If, that I but could." The older man sighed. "Voldemort knows of your quest. He sent Petigrew to Hogwarts to retrieve the last one. As far as I have been able to discover, he failed." At Harry's look, Snape continued. "In fact, the little vermin has failed to return."
Harry tried to relax. "He killed Remus."
"Truly?" Snape answered, his voice neutral. "I had not thought him enough to best the werewolf."
"What do you want?"
Black eyes studied him, digging deep into Harry's soul. Harry raised his mental shields, just in case, but it seemed for nothing. After a moment, the hated professor seemed to nod to himself before his left hand reached into a small bag at his waist. There was nothing to do but wait as the sickly coloured man slowly pulled his hand from the pouch. Harry knew his eyes were wide as he watched the Slytherin pull Gryffindor's Sword out, the jeweled hilt and perfect blade burned into his memory.
Unable to stop it from happening, Harry felt his breath quicken as he realized the precarious position he was in, bound at the feet of one of the men he hated most in this world, his enemy now armed with both a sword and a wand.
Rolling his eyes, Snape leaned the sword against the wall by the library's door. Turning back, he tilted his head to the side, as if studying an interesting riddle. Harry started to sweat, fearful of able to say anything, before the man put his wand in a holster along his left forearm.
"Headmaster Dumbledore wanted you to have that. The sword." He knelt down, his face inches from Harry's. "That sword might be your best hope. Hope to destroy the various pieces of Voldemort's soul, as well as the man himself. So you understand?"
"I will do my part. My promises to those past, both recently and those from long ago, I shall not break. I may not like you. In fact, as I am sure it is mutual, I loathe you. You are just like your father: a miserable excuse for a wizard, too arrogant and full of his own self-importance to take all that is going on seriously."
Harry bristled as he listened to the man rant. "You couldn't take after your mother…"
"Is there anything new in this speech?"
The former Slytherin Head of House stopped, his gaze narrowing as he looked at the offspring of the only love of his life and his childhood rival. "Don't mock me, Potter."
"Not much left for me to do." Harry retorted. "Are you going to release me any time soon?"
"Too much for you…"
Deciding that enough was enough, Harry took a moment to gather his magic, allowing it to spread throughout his body. That had been Snape's mistake… giving him enough time to get over the initial takedown and regroup. With that accomplished, it was only a minor trick to let the power loose and break the bonds that held him. Too say that the former professor was surprised as the ropes fell away was an understatement.
Harry took no immediate action, choosing only to wandlessly call his wand back into his hand. He took some small amount of satisfaction at the surprise that momentarily flickered across Snape's face, the man's entire posture screaming that he hadn't been prepared for that one.
Slowly sitting up, Harry pulled his knees up and rested his arms across the top. "So… let's run this one down. You hate me. I hate you. We work together to bring down Riddle."
The man gave Harry a look of pure loathing. "Essentially. Yes."
"Well… that's fun." The sarcasm was thick. "How about you and I just part ways. You stay out of my way and I'll say nothing about your crimes as a Death Eater."
"You are just as arrogant as your father."
Harry held off from rolling his eyes. "Yeah. Arrogant prat. Got it." Shifting to get comfortable, Harry sighed aloud. "While we're both here and before I tell you to get out of my house…"
Harry ignored him. "We thought that we had found the last horcrux. Turns out we were wrong. You wouldn't have any idea of one from Gryffindor or Ravenclaw."
The man shook his head. "All I know is that its hidden at Hogwarts. It will be up to you to figure out what it might be."
Standing, Harry rubbed at his arm, still sore from the jump he'd attempted in their confrontation. "I'd like to say its been fun…"
"Don't, Potter." Snape interrupted with a sneer. "I ask only that you keep your promise to Draco."
He nodded. "I will… but he needs to rein it in."
Without another word, the bane of Harry's time at school swirled, his cloak billowing out behind him. Harry let him go, not wanting to stay in the vile potion master's presence any longer than necessary. Brushing the dust from his pants, he sighed again as his gaze traveled over the library. This had been a bust. Rolling his eyes, he looked out the stained glass of the window across the room and saw that there was still plenty of light. Steeling himself, Harry moved over to the next broken shelf and started going through the books scattered around the area.
O X O X O X O X O X O
Nymphadora Tonks grimaced as she slowly moved from the doorway towards the chair just inside the dining room. It had taken a lot of therapy, but her muscles were slowly coming back under her complete control. In fact, the Healers that her parents had forced upon her were fairly certain that it was only a matter of time before her metamorphmagus abilities would return at any time. In any other reality, those words would have been a reason for celebration. Now, however, it was nothing more than another nail that her mother would use in keeping her under control.
"Nymmy." Speak of the devil, herself. "I'm so glad to see you out of your rooms. Your father will be quite pleased to see you."
Andromeda Tonks strode into the room like a queen of old, her eyes missing nothing… not even the momentary flash of annoyance in her daughter's features. "We can have dinner as a family. Won't that be wonderful?"
Tonks watched as her mother moved around to the far side of the ornate dining parlor and sat down, taking a moment to reach out towards the crystal goblet that appeared moments after she settled comfortably into the seat. There was nothing to do but wait as the elder Tonks took a moment to sip from the goblet.
She waited as long as she could, hoping to out last her mother, but in the end the result was the same. Tonks broke first.
"Why don't you call me Mum anymore?"
She ignored the barb. "Mother. I need to get out of here. I'm going stark raving mad in this house. I mean, I love you and Daddy, but I'm nearly twenty-four years old. I was an Auror. I'm a member of Headmaster Dumbledore's Order of the Phoenix. I've been out of the house for five years. I need my own space again."
Andromeda had kept quiet through the impassioned plea. She waited a moment after Tonks had finished, waiting to see if there was more. Once she realized that her daughter was done, she carefully set the goblet down and dabbed at her lips with the napkin.
"Will you finally explain to me what you were doing with Harry Potter?"
The metamorphmagus sighed as she sank her face down towards her hands, her elbows on the table. "Please, Mother. We've been over this time and time again. I love him. He loves me. Why can you just not accept it and let us live our lives?"
"You're sure of that?"
For the first time in weeks, Tonks felt a glimmer of hope. She and her mother (father, too, if it really came down to it) had been arguing for weeks… ever since her mother had forced her from the school and away from Harry without a word to anyone.
It was then her parents' plan to make her think that Harry had forgotten about her, leaving her to whatever fate that Andromeda had planned. With all of the doubts that filled her, especially considering Hermione, she had let her mother fool her for a few days, sinking into a deep bout of depression. In fact, she might even have stayed in it… losing herself into whatever plans her parents had prepared for her. No. She'd failed that test, but it had been Harry himself that had rescued her from it.
Like a tower in the night, a light shining its way into the darkness, she'd gotten a letter from, of all people, Arthur Weasley using ministry parchment. She had cried as she'd learned that her love was trying to fight what her mother had done, employing several people to search out the laws and rules for those classified as Dark Creatures.
Tonks had clung to that short correspondence like the greatest of love letters, carefully keeping it in a book in her room that hid all of the various memories and mementos from her life. It had been the last of such, something that had initially put a damper on her feelings… at least, it had until she overheard her father talking over the FLOO with someone from her Daddy's law firm.
It seems that they had resorted to legal means to keep them apart. It was then that Tonks had started referring to her Mum as Mother.
"Am I sure of what? Sure that I love him? Absolutely."
Tonks ignored the flash of ire that seemed to fill the older woman's eyes. "Do you think he is willing to pay for the responsibility?"
She choked. "P-pay?"
Andromeda simply smiled… a look that reminded Tonks of her mother's sister, Bellatrix. "Yes. Pay. It is not that old of a tradition for a young man to pay for a wife, especially one with the political clout that the bloodline of Black can provide."
Tonks swallowed nervously.
"Why, your father and I had at one time consider a betrothal for you. Your classification as a Dark Creature aside, that ability of yours could fetch quite the bride price."
"Mother. No." Tonks whispered.
"Oh, yes, my dear." Andromeda leaned back in the chair. "Are you really wanting your father and I to open negotiations with young Mister Potter regarding a betrothal between the two of you?"
She hated that her mother was so good at this. Politics.
Her mother continued. "While you were an Auror, there seemed little that we could do, your life was your own. But now, especially with all that is happening in the world. I think that it is time that you took responsibility and your place within the family. Ensuring the continued strength of the Black line."
"B-b-but… but you were cast out. You aren't a Black anymore."
Andromeda smiled viciously. "True. But I bet that young Mister Potter, his love for you being as devout as you claim, would be willing to add that little bit in along with any price that we might name."
Tonks wiped her face, not at all surprised to find her face wet from tears. "You can't do this, Mum… you can't just play with people like this. I-I'm your daughter…"
"So I'm Mum again, Nymmy?" Her mother replied, her voice soft. At seeing that she apparently had her daughter's full attention, the woman continued. "I may have been disowned from my family, but never doubt that I am a Black.
"And if that means that I will use whatever resources I must, you included, to make sure that this family survives and continues to be a force within Magical Britain, then so be it."
Tonks wiped her face with the napkin lying in front of her. "I love him, Mum…"
Andromeda smiled. "Then we both will get what we want."
At Tonks nod, her mother smiled. "And you will have learned an important lesson, isn't that right, my dear?"
O X O X O X O X O X O
A/N: I always found it strange that with three sisters, Andromeda came out so different.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Things are moving along. If things can keep going as I hope, I will have this story finished fairly soon… I might even beat the one-year mark since I started. How's that for dreaming big?
Catch you next time.