Chapter Nineteen Hogwarts
Harry stood looking in the mirror at his unruly hair when the tap came at the door.
"Come in," he said.
Mariah poked her head in and smiled at him. "We cannot leave the guest of honor behind," she said and stepped in.
He smiled back. "I was just combing my hair, " he replied.
She looked at it and laughed. He laughed along with her. "It's always been this way," he said, noticing that she carried a guitar.
"Remus was afraid that you would be left behind this time and I have been sent to fetch you," she studied his face in the mirror and he looked back. "Severus says that we must still be careful because there are the Death Eaters that are still around, whatever that means."
"What are you going to do Mariah?" he turned and dropped on the bed. "Have you decided?" He was referring to the fact that Snape and Dumbledore did not think it was safe for her to return to the own home and since she had discovered that she was a witch, she had a choice.
"Oh, yes," she said dropping down into a chair. She laid the guitar in her lap and strummed it with three fingers. "Severus and I are going to marry. He and I will go with Yuri and the Kumpania for the rest of the summer. When it is time for school, he will teach I will live in Hogsmeade." She looked up and her eyes twinkled. "Your new Defense Against the Darks Arts teacher and his companion will live there and keep me company."
Harry watched her amused by her coyness, "Oh and who would that be?"
"Why Remus Lupin," she answered. "He has taken the position and asked Reggie to join him. Remus says that he will need looking after for awhile until he gets used to living out in the world. They all seem to think that we need to be near you."
"Really!" Harry said smiling again.
"Well Remus and Reggie have quite a lot of money I guess. Remus inherited some of Sirius' estate along with you. Severus is your guardian and….," she grinned, and said "you have to do what he says for another year."
"I don't!" Harry said teasingly.
After a moment, she looked up at him with a serious face. "We have lost our families Harry. All of us. What better than to start a new one. Will you join our family?"
He looked down at her and nodded.
They joined the others at the front door. Hermione and Ron ushered him through first and he stepped from the hallway of the Black Mansion into the darkness of a wagon. The door to it was open and many faces were waiting there.
He was greeted by his friends from school including Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas and others. When he looked he saw a large bonfire burning, people playing instruments and children racing around in the twilight and the flying sparks of fire.
Yuri was standing waiting for him, his hat cocked over his eyebrow. He introduced his companions and led Harry into the circle around the fire. Mariah took a seat outside the ring and began playing, joining in with the other musicians. Hermione took a seat beside her.
"You are a man now Harry. It is your birthday!" Yuri proclaimed. "We will teach you to dance like a man!"
Harry took is customary place at the Gryffindor table and started filling his plate. It was the first morning of classes. Hermione and Ron were already eating. Hedwig landed in front of him with her foot extended. He wondered who could be sending him mail since he'd met with almost everyone he knew during the course of the summer, including Dumbledore. There had been one exception and it had not surprised him that Snape had avoided him. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say to the man.
He withdrew the parchment and gave Hedwig a piece of bacon while he read the short letter.
Could you see me in my quarters before class begins.
Professor Severus Snape.
Harry glanced up at the head table and noticed that Snape was not at his customary spot. He had not been there the night before for the Sorting Ceremony and he had wondered what was going on with the man. He had not seen him the entire time he had stayed with Mariah and Yuri. Hermione and Ron had also joined him and together they had traveled with the kampania around the country until it was time to board the Hogwarts Express.
"Who's it from Harry?" Hermione asked noticing his expression.
"Snape," Harry mumbled "wants me to meet him before your first class." He was frowning. Harry had received the results of his OWLS late in the summer and he had not been admitted into Snape's Special Potion's class.
"Best hurry then," she nodded. "His special class is first this morning." She held a schedule in front of her.
He left his plate half empty and gathered his books and satchel and made his way to the dungeons. He'd never been to Snape's quarters but thought they might be near the Slytherin Common rooms.
When he walked down the empty corridor he found the door already open. He pushed the door back and cautiously looked in. Snape was sitting at a desk, a window behind him. Even though he was in the dungeon, the window illuminated the room. Harry stared at the furnishings. It was a beautiful room, with heavy leather furniture, tapestry edged in gold braid and a sense of the regal in the choices of artwork that sat on highly polished tables.
"Come in Potter," the man said, his head bent over his writing.
Potter stepped in slowly and joined him at the writing desk. Snape didn't look up but stood and laid his quill across the white parchment.
Harry was looking at the sheet of paper when Snape spoke to him. He looked up into the brown eyes of his Potion's Master. He was once again amazed at the transformation he saw there, as had most of the school.
"Yes, Professor," Harry said, "I received your note." In fact he held it in his hand.
Snape nodded, reached down and picked up the parchment. He handed it to Harry turning it so that he could read it immediately. Harry glanced over it quickly. It was an admission form to allow him to take Snape's Special Potion's class. He reread it and looked up.
"I've taken the liberty to rearrange your schedule and inform your other teachers that you will start my class this morning," Snape said. He stood stiffly behind his desk and continued, "It is my understanding that you wish to study to become an Auror. Your marks from last term in my class did not reflect the marks you made in your O.W.L.S, therefore I think that we should try and improve your skills before you attempt you N.E.W.T.S."
Harry found himself staring with his mouth open. The man was actually talking in a normal, respectful voice. "Thank…thank you Professor," he stuttered.
"You are still interested?" Snape asked, his eyebrow arching.
"Yes, yes, I am Professor," Harry nodded.
Snape turned to the window slowly and spoke again in a muted voice, " I have allowed my mind to become prey to the darkness Harry," he said. "It almost overtook me. However, dark and bad and terrible things seemed, there was a moment where it turned around." Snape turned back to him and said evenly, "I don't think you will trust this, but I believe that you are one of the bravest people I have ever met, besides your mother."
Harry's breath caught in his chest.
He cleared his throat and continued, "I'm proud to say that we are cousins." He leaned against his desk, his fingers splayed against it's clean polished surface and he looked Harry in the eyes. "This does not resolve you of the responsibility to work diligently in my class; nor will you receive special favor."
Harry caught the laughter in the eyes and he didn't know what to do.
"Harry, we are all still in danger. Malfoy now has a clear path to step into Voldemort's shoes. I do not think that he will pass over you. As a matter of fact, I would like to help you train for your apprenticeship as an Auror. I think I am qualified to do it and so does Dumbledore. But it is understandable if you choose someone else as your mentor."
Harry was shaking his head, stupefied by what he was hearing. "No, no, that would be excellent Professor."
Snape nodded solemnly. "Very well, we will consider a study schedule outside of your normal studies."
"Thank you, thank you very much Professor," Harry gurgled.
Snape turned away and Harry felt dismissed. He was walking out the door when Snape spoke again. "Harry?"
"Yes, Professor?" Harry stopped and looked back.
Snape was watching him. "Mariah would like to invite you to our wedding on the weekend in Hogsmeade." He stood with his hands behind his back waiting, almost like a young man who'd asked a girl for a date. Harry could see it in his posture that he was worried he would be rejected. He blushed and finished, "I would like you to join us."
Dressed in his best robes, Harry waited at the gates. Hagrid had pulled up a special carriage pulled by four white horses. Harry grinned up at him and he grinned back. Hermione and Ron joined him in their best clothes. They were headed to an encampment of the Roma. It was late in the Autumn and the trees were turning in the valley to Hogsmeade.
They waited at the carriage and saw him coming towards them. Snape was dressed in Roma clothing; a white shirt, and embroidered vest over it, tucked into the loose trousers in high black boots. Harry noticed that he wore the hat that he had worn the night he had met Mariah in her house and had rescued him. They all stared at him. He looked so different than what he normally looked like that they all stood smiling uncontrollably at him.
He walked up with Dumbledore at his side.
"What?" he asked, looking at himself with worry.
"Professor," Harry finally said. "I would like you to use this today." He reached around and picked up his Firebolt and handed it to him. "I understand you can't have a gypsy wedding without a broom."