A/N: This fic is a sequel to The First Prophecy. If you have not read it, you might want to, as it will be the basis for the events in this fic. Rating is high due to events later on in the story.
As always, all characters and the universe of Harry Potter belong to the incomparable JK Rowling. I am just borrowing them for my own totally not for profit romp in her playhouse!
Welcome back to the readers of The First Prophecy.
Primoris Oraculum Duo (First Prophecy Two)
The Trio stood outside the barrier at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters with the Grangers. Hermione hugged her parents before Ron shook hands with her dad. Harry stepped towards Ellen.
"Thank you for letting me come back to your home, Mrs. Granger. It's been great."
She drew Harry into a hug and said, "Harry, you boys are always welcome. I only hope that we've given you a little bit of what you missed in your own home."
Harry pulled back and looked at her, In her eyes, he could see that she had understood more of what had happened to him than they had explained in words. He flushed with embarrassment and she gently held him by the upper arms. Quietly, so only he heard her, she explained.
"I've done a fair amount of volunteer work for a women's shelter. I've seen and heard enough to recognize the look of abused women and children. I know that it's something you want to hide, to feel ashamed of. But, Harry, it was never your fault. You did not do anything to deserve the abuse you received. Thinking that gives him the power he wanted to have in the first place; the control he craved. Your uncle, if that's who hurt you?" she looked at him in question, continuing at Harry's reluctant nod. "Your uncle is a man out of control. He hurts others to make himself feel better. No child should ever have to deal with that."
Harry let himself look into her eyes and saw her sincerity and warmth. He leaned in and allowed her to hug him again, relishing the feel of her mothering arms around his shoulders. It was another moment that he wanted to sear into his memory; to burn away the others that were painful; to have more of this feeling of what a real mother must be like.
When he finally drew back, she gave him a slightly tearful smile, aware that that was what he had been doing. Martin held out a hand for Harry to shake, and when Harry took it, he too pulled Harry into a hug, this one a masculine sort of bear hug, the kind a man can give a boy that is friendly and warm but not overly emotional. He gave Harry a clap on the shoulder and said to them all, "The train is about to leave. You'd better go on through."
To Hermione he said, giving her another embrace, "Take care of yourself, honey. We'll miss you bunches."
The Trio turned then and walked through the barrier.
Once on the train, Hermione headed for the Prefect's car and Harry realized that he had missed her getting that letter. He and Ron finally found a car for themselves and sat down with sigh.
Ron commented, "It's nice not to have to wrestle any trunks or pets. Wish we could do this every time."
Harry gave him a grin in agreement. They settled back into their seats and after awhile, Harry spoke, "Ron, can I ask you something?"
"Sure, mate. You can ask anything."
"Well, about what's happened this summer … how Severus and I are getting along again … are you okay with it?" He looked at his best friend, feeling a little anxious.
"I think you remember now that Snape has never been a favorite person of ours … I mean, he's always been a git to us Gryffindors. But I saw things between the two of you this summer that make me think that he can be okay when it comes down to it. At least he's okay with you."
Harry nodded. "That's what I need to talk to you about. Now that school is back in session, it has to look like things are the same as always. We can't tell others about what's happened, alright?"
Ron narrowed his eyes. "You mean he's gonna be his usual awful self to you again?" At Harry's nod, he frowned. "That stinks, Harry."
"But it won't be real. You need to know that so you don't go off trying to help me or something and making things bad for yourself." He watched his friend try to accept that.
"Well, as long as he's not a total arse, I guess I'll try to keep my mouth shut. At least for now."
Harry grinned and then added, "You can't tell about the wandless magic, either."
Ron looked curious. "Did you try it again, then?"
"Yeah. When we went flying yesterday, we passed a ball back and forth without either of us using wands or hands. It was pretty easy, but a ball is also pretty light."
"Snape's not too light … when you had that nightmare the other night, you made him fall, didn't you?"
Harry looked away, "Yeah. I think that one was instinctive. I was still asleep and I just shoved him back with my mind. He broke some ribs, too. He didn't tell me until he brought me to the Quidditch pitch."
"Ouch. I could tell something happened, though. He was acting all casual and I saw that he couldn't have ended up bumping into that table from the direction he came into the room. So, I guess he had Pomfrey take care of it while you were gone yesterday?"
"No. I took care of it." Harry looked at Ron intently, trying to see how he was feeling about the things Harry was able to do.
Ron ticked things off on his fingers. "Let's see; you can speak to Snape and Dobby without saying a word; you can do wandless magic now; you can heal Snape when he's hurt." He gave Harry a quirky grin to show he was taking things in stride. "On a lighter note, You Know Who didn't try to kill you this summer. All in all, not a bad summer, huh?"
Harry had been grinning too, until Ron said the last bit. He slouched in the seat and sighed. "Not a bad summer if you don't count my uncle trying to kill me. I'd say he did a fair job taking over for Voldemort while he had me. Plus that Muggle git that slashed my throat."
"Sorry, mate. I didn't mean it was all roses. That bugger uncle deserves whatever the Muggle courts do to him." He sat silently for a moment and then asked, "What is happening with all that anyway?"
Harry really didn't want to set Ron off, so he was relieved when Hermione came into the car and threw herself into the seat next to Ron.
She sighed heavily. "Well, the Slytherins are already on top form. I had to put a bunch of first-years back with some older students in other houses. Slytherin is trying them out to see who's good material for their house. Seems they were hexing them to see which ones could take it without crying the longest. Gits, all of them. The poor kids were scared witless." She finally stopped ranting and looked at the two of them. "So, what are you two talking about?"
Ron was watching Harry, noting his reluctance to say anything. "Harry was just about to tell me what was happening with the Dursleys."
Hermione set her gaze on Harry then and asked, "I expect he is in jail, at the very least? How long did he get?"
Harry shrugged. He didn't really want to talk about Vernon Dursley, but these were his best friends after all. "I don't really know. All I know is the judge gave Severus custody of me."
Ron's mouth dropped open. "You mean he's in charge of you now?"
Harry nodded. Hermione asked, "Is it a permanent placement?"
Harry frowned. "I guess. He didn't say. Just that he has it. What's the difference?"
Hermione said, "Permanent means that he has custody until you come of age. If it's temporary, it's easier to challenge and get it changed."
Harry shrugged again. "I can't imagine that anyone would want to challenge it."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other. Ron said quickly, "My parents might. You'd get to be a real brother to me and everything."
Hermione added, "My parents have got pretty fond of you, too. Although, they probably feel it would be better if you are in a magical family."
Harry sat up, suddenly afraid that they might actually do something to change his current situation. "I'm fine now. Really. I'm happy that Severus has custody. I really like your parents and all, but this is alright."
They noticed his anxiety and Hermione put a hand on his arm. "Okay, Harry. We're just letting you know there are still options. We know you've grown to like the professor."
"Even though I'll never get used to you calling him by his name like that," Ron added dryly.
Harry relaxed. "I can't call him Severus unless we're alone. We discussed it. As long as he's in the Inner Circle, he has an image to keep up." He looked at Hermione. "I already told Ron to expect him to treat me as he always has in class. That has to stay the same."
Hermione nodded. "Yes, I can see how that's necessary. Won't that be awfully hard on you, though?"
"I'll know it's not true. I trust him. No matter what."
The door to the car slid open just then and Draco stepped in, followed by Crabbe and Goyle. He looked around at them all and then let his eyes settle on Harry. He stared at the scar around his neck. "Rough summer, Potter?"
Harry acted indifferent. "I guess you could say that. Yours?"
"More of the same; dinner parties, cultural events, things you don't know much about." He smirked at them as Hermione bristled, ready to respond.
Harry stood up. Draco was still quite a bit taller that Harry and Harry had to look up at him, but he stood toe to toe with him anyway. "Our ideas of good cultural events and nice dinner parties are probably very different. I'm sure we both prefer our own kind."
Draco gave them all a superior look down his nose and said, "I'm sure of that." Then as if considering whether he should say anything, he added, "By the way; keep on your toes this year. I believe it will be very interesting."
"When is it ever not interesting, Malfoy?" Hermione asked.
Ron stepped forward, towering slightly over Draco. "Do you know something we should? Are you threatening Harry?" He had his chin raised belligerently as he faced Draco.
Draco grinned, but held his ground. "No threats, Weasel. I wouldn't do that in front a fellow Prefect." He flashed the badge pinned to his own robes, then looked at their clothes. "You better get your school robes on, though. I might be inclined to start taking points on the train for being out of uniform."
"There's plenty of time for that. You would do better to keep an eye on your own House," Hermione said. "Some of your sixth- and seventh-years are already plotting chaos and being bullies."
Draco smiled around at them, giving Harry a particularly pointed look again before turning and walking out of the compartment. Crabbe and Goyle looked at each other and then at the Trio. They obviously thought that Draco had left many things unsaid and were left adrift without having heard any real threats from him. Looking at each other again, they turned and followed Draco as he disappeared down the train corridor.
Ron looked at Harry and Hermione. "Am I the only one who thinks that was weird? He acted like he was actually giving us a warning, and not threatening."
Harry remained silent, remembering back when Draco had talked to him after Slytherin had won the Quidditch game. It was weird, but then again, not unexpected. He sensed that Draco wanted to talk to him. Harry decided he could wait. He doubted that anything Draco had to say was that important, anyway.
The door opened again and Ginny came in with Luna, followed by Neville. The witch with the snack cart was passing by. Harry stepped out to buy an armload of treats that he tossed around to everyone.
"So, Snape gave you some money to spend, I see," Ron said offhandedly.
Neville made a choking noise and Ginny rapped him on the back. She looked at Harry, who remained silent, and then at Ron. "Well, are you going to explain that remark?"
Ron shrugged, glancing at Harry. Harry was looking determinedly at the card from the chocolate frog he had just opened, and didn't appear like he wanted to give an answer. But he didn't look like he wanted Ron to remain silent either, so he said, "Harry just told me that Snape has custody of him now."
Neville looked horrified. "But what about your family? Why does Snape have custody?"
Harry stubbornly bit his tongue. Hermione finally sighed and said, "It's a long story. But Harry's family treated him badly this summer and now he doesn't have to go back to them. That's the important thing. Professor Snape has been good enough to become his guardian."
Harry looked around from beneath lowered lashes, peering at his friends to see how this news was received. Luna was dreamily nodding, like it was entirely acceptable. Neville was swallowing loudly, electing to say nothing. Ginny was just watching Harry.
"Are you alright with it, Harry?" she asked.
"Yeah. I'm fine with it, Gin." He looked her in the eye so that she would believe it. He wanted more than anything for his friends to see the Severus he saw now. He knew the man so well now; he owed him his life several times over. No one else had been inside his mind like Snape had. Well, if you didn't count Voldemort. But that git only tried to hurt and instill fear and terror. Snape had cared for him in ways no one else ever had. Harry didn't want to explain that to anyone, though. To do so would somehow make it less real, or valid.
No one asked Harry any more questions. For them, it was a bizarre thing, Snape being Harry's guardian. They felt like there had to be something better than this for him, but to say it might make him feel like they thought he had gone from one bad situation into a worse one. Harry needed to feel secure, and right now, this did it for him. In their hearts, his friends had their doubts.
The welcoming feast was as massive and filling as usual. The level of noise in the Great Hall rivaled that of the thunder heard above the charmed ceiling. The Gryffindor table was as loud as the rest and Harry was wishing for quiet within moments of sitting down. He had grown used to being more solitary and the chaos of the Hall grated his nerves raw. He rubbed his forehead absently, pushing the food around on his plate.
Hermione leaned in towards him. "Harry, you're not eating much. Are you okay?"
Harry nodded. She gave him an appraising look and then turned back to talk to Ginny and Lavender.
'You're not eating. Is anything bothering you?'
Harry snapped his head up, eyes searching the head table until he found the questioning black eyes staring at him. 'I'm just not hungry.'
The eyes narrowed and Snape's mouth was a grim straight line. 'Harry, our times of conversation may be short to non-existent. I would appreciate it if I did not have to drag every response from you.'
Harry looked back at his plate. 'I'm just … I'm tired already. And it's so noisy in here. I want to leave and go to bed, but I can't yet. There. Is that enough of a response?' He felt irritated and short-tempered.
The black eyes grew imperceptibly softer. 'I know you're tired. Would you like for me to ask Professor Dumbledore to excuse you from the rest of the Feast?'
Harry shook his head, knowing Snape was watching. 'It would just draw more attention, and I don't need any more of that. Plus, I'm worried about doing magic. We never did any practice with my wand yesterday.'
'I recall that someone was begging for more flying time until we ran out of time. Merlin only knows what possessed me to be so undisciplined.' Snape was smirking down at his plate when Harry snuck a look.
He gave a small smile, agreeing that it was surprising that Snape had been so willing to forego wand practice to let Harry have a few more moments on the broom. Then he said, 'My friends are all worried about you being my guardian. I think they believe you'll treat me as bad, if not worse, than the Dursleys.'
'How did you respond to that?'
'I said I trusted you. I told Ron and Hermione not to expect you to treat me any differently in class. So feel free to be your worst.'
'You are tired, if you can speak to me like that.'
'No one can hear us. I thought you were okay with me joking around … I'm sorry …'
Harry put his fork down and looked like he would get up.
'Harry, I'm joking as well. It's alright.' Harry looked back up at Snape to see the black eyes staring back in concern. 'I suppose I'm not very practiced at humor.'
Harry settled himself back on the bench. The noise in the hall increased until Dumbledore held up a hand for silence. Harry sighed with relief in the quiet. He remained silent while the announcements were made and Snape used the opportunity to watch him.
He was worried about how Harry would adjust to being back in school. It hadn't been long since he had been injured, and only one day since he had actually used his magic to fly and try some wandless exercises. He spoke to Harry again when it looked like things were reaching an end.
'Harry, you know that you can talk to me any time. I may not be able to answer right away if I am in the middle of lecture or brewing is at a critical stage, but I will be here for you.'
'I know. Severus?'
'I think Draco wants to talk to me again. He came into our compartment on the train and he was kind of weird … not his usual conceited, better-than-everyone self. You might want to check on him, see what that's about. I don't think I can handle it right now.'
'I'll see that he gets the message.'
Dumbledore finished up his announcements, none of which Harry heard. He took a couple of apples from the table as everyone stood to head up to their rooms. Lagging behind, he waited until the crowd thinned before following the Gryffindors up to their Tower.
Once he was through the portrait hole, he watched as Hermione directed the first-years up to their beds. He gave a wave to his dorm mates and then trudged tiredly up the stairs. After undressing, he climbed onto his bed and drew the curtains. The silence was soothing and he thought a silencing charm might be nice to keep it that way. Getting back out of bed, he knelt down by his trunk. After a few moments he opened the lid. On top of his belongings, his wand lay where it had been all summer. He bit his lip as he looked at it. Finally, he reached out and snatched it up before he could change his mind. Hearing footfalls outside the dorm door, he jumped back onto his bed and drew the curtains closed again.
The wand wood felt smooth and warm to his fingers and he felt a trembling start in his hand as he held it. Hesitating only a moment, he held it up and thought Lumos!
The tip glowed brightly and Harry blinked in surprise. He hadn't said the spell, only thought it, as he remembered the words to use. Elation at being able to do the spell at all filled him.
'Harry?' Snape's voice was concerned.
'I'm alright, I just did a Lumos! With my wand!'
'Well done. Was it difficult?'
'No, actually. I didn't even have to say it … I just thought it and it happened!'
'I think you've been worried about classes and doing magic. Now that you've done this, do you feel better about tomorrow?'
Harry thought about that and decided that Severus knew him better than he knew himself right now. 'Yeah. I think I'll be okay.'
'Good night, Harry.'