Harriet looked at her great-grandfather, giving him a slight formal curtsey, extending her hand. "Hello, Lord Prince. It is an honor to make your acquaintance," she greeted him formally.
"Lady Potter-Black, I am pleased to finally meet the newest addition to the Prince line," he stated, taking her hand. "I must admit that I was more than a bit surprised to find that I had a great granddaughter of such notoriety."
Harry looked away uncomfortably, face flushed in embarrassment. She loathed the attention she received for being the so called, 'Savior of the Wizarding World,' and given the choice would have preferred the anonymity of being just Harry. It was also painful to hear her formal titles making her wish that her parents and Sirius were still alive. 'I may not remember my Mum and Dad,' she mused, 'but I still have the empty void inside of me from their loss; and Sirius…sweet Merlin…he's gone and it's my entire fault.'
Septimus, really," her great grandmother interrupted, correctly interpreting her discomfort. "There is no need to stand on formalities. This is a family reunion and I for one am exceedingly happy," she admonished her husband. "Now come here, Child, and let me give you a proper hug." Eunice Prince stepped forward, wrapping her arms around Harriet, engulfing her in a hug which could rival one of Mrs. Weasley's. "Now don't let your great-grandfather bully you around. Underneath he is really a decent loving man. If he wasn't I would not have married him." Eunice' lips twitched up into a soft smile as she looked towards her husband.
"I do believe we should retire to the house to become further acquainted," her great grandfather remarked trying to hide his discomfort at his wife's open display of affection. "I would like to hear Severus' account of how he discovered that he was in fact a twin. This should prove a most interesting tale."
"Septimus, I am sure you can wait to hear how all this came about. Severus and Harriet have just arrived and I am certain they would like to freshen up before dinner," Eunice scolded gently. "Juniper has prepared rooms for you both. It has been some time since your last visit, Severus, and this is a special occasion. Your grandfather and I would like to get acquainted with our great granddaughter, and I'm sure she would like the opportunity to get to know us."
"Thank you, grandmother, but I would prefer to stay in the carriage house as usual. Harriet is still recovering from her injuries and she really needs to rest. Her injuries are not yet completely healed. I also have my potions lab set up there."
"Severus, it would behoove you not to argue with your grandmother. I learned a long time ago that once Eunice makes up her mind she can be a very formidable witch. Your potions lab can be moved and Harriet can recuperate just as easily in the manor," Septimus admonished. "I know you like your privacy so she has arranged a suite of apartments for you both."
"Besides, there is even a room set up for you to brew your potions in the basement. A set of stairs leads directly from your sitting room down to the lab," Eunice enthused. I have taken great care to set it up to your liking and Albus also helped me to add some extra wards. You simply have to move your potions supplies and ingredients. I thought you would prefer to do so yourself."
"Very well; I am sure the room will be more than adequate, Grandmother." Snape acquiesced, not wanting to argue with his grandparents. "I will see to moving my equipment after dinner. May I have the assistance of Scooter? I was training her to assist me with the lab on my last visit to ensure that everything would be maintained properly."
"You may summon her whenever you are ready to begin. I will inform the Head Elf Pierre that she is to be assigned to your private use," Septimus Prince stated. "Now I believe…" He was interrupted by a shrill whistle from one of the winged horses coming from the direction of the paddock, along with the panicked shriek of the house elf assigned to care for the horses.
"Heeelllppp…Calista's baby is being attacked!"
"Instinct kicking in Harriet took off at a run towards the paddock. Her saving people mode had automatically jumped into drive. Adrenalin pumping at the sound of trouble, she ignored the pain in her leg and abdomen as she charged towards the wailing elf without thinking of the possible consequences. She had to stop whatever was happening in the paddock.
"Harriet, get back here!" Severus yelled, running after her, amazed at how quickly she was moving despite her recent injuries. He could sense his grandparents following in his wake. "Let the adults take care of things you foolish child!" He seethed angrily, finally catching up with her.
He was about to grab onto her when she ducked, rounding the corner of the paddock and skidded to a halt, taking in the scene in front of them. A young foal was standing in front of a gray and brown snake which had been camouflaged by some old straw from the stable. The foal was attempting to sniff the new creature while the mare was being held back by the elf, who was trying desperately to get between the snake and the foal. The mare's ears were back, teeth bared, pawing the ground and threatening to rear up. The elf was doing his best but the enraged mare was simply too strong. He had all he could do to hold onto her without being kicked. The elf was trying to raise his hand to throw a curse at the snake without injuring the foal while holding onto the winged mare's halter at the same time.
"Stop!" Harry commanded. "The snake feels threatened by the Granian foal's curiosity." Pulling out her wand she cast a Protego in front of the foal to prevent the snake from harming the colt and addressed the snake. "It issss all rright. The baby was just curioussss. He hasss never ssseen a sssnake before. Hisss mother wasss jussst trying to protect him."
"You are the young ssspeaker I have heard about. The one who ssstandsss againssst the Dark ssspeaker."
"Yesss, I am ssshhee. My name is Harriet but my friendsss call me Harry. Do you have a name?"
"No, we sssnakesss do not have sssuch thingsss. I usssed to be the familiar to an old wizard but he died before the passed two moonsss. He sssimply called me sssnake. He had no family and treated me badly. I wasss able to essscape when they cleaned out hisss nessst area. It wasss there that I heard him ssspeak of you to hisss friendsss."
"Harriet," Snape interrupted. "That snake you are so busily talking to is poisonous!" He was brandishing his wand should the snake decide to strike. Harry held up her had to keep him from commenting further as the snake spoke once more.
"The dark man issss right young ssspeaker. I am an adder."
"Did you ssstrike the foal?"
"No, I merely wissshed to ssscare him away from my nessst."
"It is all right, Uncle Severus, she didn't harm the foal. She has been nesting in this pile of old straw and wanted to frighten the baby away. She told me she was the familiar to some old wizard who died two months ago."
"That could be old Chester Voxbone," Septimus commented to his grandson. "It was rumored that he was a sympathizer of Lord Voldemort. He hated Muggles with a passion and went out of his way to cause trouble for some of them. Otherwise, he usually kept to himself. He lived about ten miles from here in a rundown old house. The family lost their fortunes a long time ago."
"Isn't that the disgusting old man who wanted to marry Eileen?" Eunice questioned.
"The same." Her husband nodded. "I ran him off. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was already in negotiations with both the Dolohov and Goyle families and that she would have no good life with him. The filthy swine ran into me one day in town and laughed in my face because she ran off with Severus' father. He said I should go and hunt her down and kill the Muggle she ran off with. Voxbone had the nerve to still ask if he could have her even though she was damaged goods from having been with a Muggle."
Harry was listening quietly while her great grandparents discussed her grandmother, surreptitiously glancing over at Snape. His face was in its usual blank mask, dark eyes fixed on a place above her head, but Harry suspected he was listening intently as they spoke about their late daughter as if her son wasn't standing beside them. Shifting her weight, she noted that the snake had slithered over to her, coiling itself beside her feet. Clearing her throat, she interrupted the uncomfortable conversation between the Lord and Lady Prince, catching everyone's attention as she turned back to the snake.
"Sssnake, thisss issss not a sssafe placcce for you to nessst."
"You are right. I mussst mov3 to sssomew2here new. I am not usssed to living without a human though. My former human wasss cruel but he kept me warm and fed. He would take my venom for hisss own ussses, often poisssoning thossse he did not like."
"Would you like to ssstay with my Uncle Ssseverusss and myssself? I have a familiar but he doesss not. He would sssee that you are warm and fed. He issss a potionsss massster and would be able to ussse your venom to make hisss healing potionsss."
"I would like to do ssso. I will keep you both sssafe from the Dark ssspeaker and hisss great sssnake."
"Would you like a name or do you wisssh to be called sssnake?"
"A name pleassse. Sssnake remindsss me too much of the old wizard."
"Harriet, as much as I am fascinated by your talking with that adder we need to be getting settled into our rooms," Snape commented, his old sneer in place.
"Uncle Severus, please don't be angry but you just gained yourself a familiar. She needs a home and may have more information about Voldemort. She heard things when she was with that old wizard. She said that he would use her venom to poison his enemies. I told her you could use it to make healing potions. She agreed and said that she would help to protect us from the Dark Lord and Nagini. She would like a name too. Her former master just called her snake." Harry looked up at Snape, green eyes hopeful as he looked from her to the serpent who was watching him intently.
"I do have some very good uses for her venom which can be quite costly. Furthermore, if she does know anything more it could benefit our side in the war." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Very well I will accept her as my familiar but you must explain to her that she is not to harm any of the familiars either here or in the castle not should she strike out at any of the people unless they are threatening to harm us. I will see to her needs. As for a name I think we should call her Sienna, since her camouflage markings are the colors of the earth."
"Thank you, Severus." Harry beamed, turning back to the snake. They had another brief conversation where she told the serpent what her uncle had just explained to her. Harriet also found out that she was a magical adder, making Sienna's venom even more valuable as a potions ingredient because of its strong potency. She discovered that the snake could understand human speech and was pleased with her new name. Sienna had listened to Harry explain her conversation with Severus in Parseltongue because she liked the sound of Harry's voice when she used the snake language. Shaking her head in amusement, she allowed the snake to climb up onto her wrist. Standing back up from where she had been crouched on the ground Harriet looked at the adults who had been watching her intently. "What? "She questioned. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No Child, it is just that except for Severus we have never heard anyone speak in Parseltongue. It is rather fascinating," her great grandmother remarked.
"Wait a minute, you said except for Severus!" she exclaimed, turning to look up at her uncle. "You can speak to snakes? Does Voldemort know about this?"
"In answer to your question, yes Harriet, I too am a parselmouth." He replied, the corners of his lips quirking up in amusement. "However, neither the Dark Lord nor the Headmaster knows of this. Under the circumstances I believed it was prudent to keep it a secret."
"That means you understood everything Sienna and I were talking about all this time."
"Indeed, it was rather amusing to watch and I agree with Sienna that you do give the language a rather nice lilt. Unlike the Dark Lord you make it sound almost musical."
"I agree." Her great grandfather stated, amused. "It is a talent which occasionally appears in the Prince line. Until Severus discovered his ability at about the age of seven it had skipped three generations of our family."
"So I may not have acquired the ability from Voldemort like the Headmaster said?" Her green eyes looked from one adult to the other imploring them to confirm that she was a natural parselmouth.
"That is uncertain, Harry. However, I believe that it may just be that when the killing curse rebounded it may have triggered your own latent ability from the Prince line." Severus tapped his cheek thoughtfully. "I know for a fact that Lily did not have the ability even though it has turned out that we were twins."
"Yes, Severus, but you and Lily were fraternal twins. Therefore you would only have the characteristics of ordinary siblings," Eunice commented.
"You are correct, Harriet. However, I happen to know that at one time many Pureblood families had the ability, including the Peverels." Her great grandfather responded.
"What has that got to do with me?" She frowned, puzzled. "Who are the Peverels?"
"The Peverels line later changed their name to Potter for safety reasons during one of the Goblin wars," he said knowingly. "But that is a conversation for another time. We should be getting up to the manor so you can get settled in as Severus has already stated. It is time we prepared for dinner." He didn't wait for a response. Taking his wife by the arm headed out from the paddock.
"Harry, I expect you to keep my being a Parselmouth a secret and that includes your friends."
"Yes Sir," she responded, following him out of the paddock towards the house. She was walking a few steps behind him when she stopped. Her knees felt like rubber, weakened from the discomfort of having run to the paddock. A sharp pain was piercing her injured side where her liver had barely healed from the laceration. In all the excitement she had forgotten how uncomfortable she actually was. Now the pain had returned with a vengeance and she had all she could do to keep standing. Sienna, still wrapped around her wrist, flicked her tongue in concern. She could feel the youngling's distress through her tightening muscles and bent posture.
"Ssseverusss," she hissed loudly. "Harriet needsss help!" Having understood the human's recent conversation she knew he could understand her.
Snape turned back abruptly at her summons. He reached Harry in three quick strides, catching his niece just as her knees buckled beneath her. Easing her onto the ground he bent over to ascertain what had happened.
"Harry, what is wrong? And do not try and tell me you are fine because I can see that you are not!" He admonished sternly.
"My…my side…it…hurts…and my knee…it just…gave out." She panted, clutching her side, wincing in pain. "I'm…sorry…Uncle Sev. I don't mean …to be…a…burden." Tears were welling up in her eyes and she lowered her head unable to look at him.
"You are not a burden," he said, lifting her chin to look at him, knowing that her reaction was a result of her ingrained insecurities as a result of her treatment by the Dursleys. "Although, you are a reckless Gryffindor; always running off when you want to help someone without thinking of the possible consequences!" he reprimanded, gently lifting her into his arms. Carrying her in his arms he hurried towards his grandparents where they were waiting in front of the manor. "Harriet exacerbated her injuries when she ran off to help the elf. I need to get her up to our quarters so that I may be able to judge the damage," he explained upon reaching them.
"Of course, Severus," Eunice responded as her husband flicked his wand swinging the double doors inward to allow them entry. "Follow me, Severus, and I will show you where your rooms are." She motioned him to follow to her left.
Harry looked around curiously despite her discomfort, her eyes wide with awe. They were in a formal entrance hall. The stairs leading to the second story were curved and rose up on either side of the foyer. They appeared to be made of what she assumed was white marble along with the flooring tiles. An ornate bronze balustrade with a sculpted lighthouse formed the newel posts at the base of the double staircase. A huge crystal chandelier was suspended from the ceiling in the center. At the top of the second story landing a large stained glass window depicted the Prince family crest. Portraits of the Prince family ancestors lined the hallway on either side of the window. Her great grandmother led them down to the end of the hall and opened another set of doors which led into a large sitting room. A Wedgewood blue and white striped sofa faced a marble fireplace in the center, flanked by two matching wing chairs, with a coffee table in front. The carpet was a soft gray as were the draperies. The walls were painted in a silver blue. On one wall was a large bookcase filled with books. The other wall contained a picture window with a window seat. The pillows on the window seat were in the same stripe pattern as the sofa and the seat cushion matched the chairs. Two roll top desks, each with a small reading lamp, stood on the same wall as the entry. Two other doors lead from the room on either side of the fireplace and Eunice directed them into the one nearest the window seat.
"I hope the rooms are acceptable, Severus. I tried to make them as neutral as possible," Eunice said, leading them into a large bedroom. The walls were a soft cream color and the carpet was a plush navy blue. A large queen sized sleigh bed was on the wall facing the door. The bedding was done in light blue with silver trim. An oak night stand stood beside it. On the far wall were two other doors which Harry assumed led to a bathroom and a closet. Another fireplace was on the outer wall flanked by floor to ceiling windows. The draperies were the same navy as the carpet. "Your rooms are on the opposite side of the sitting room through the other door. You can also access them through the connecting bathroom." She indicated one of the doors on the far wall. "I did your colors in a more masculine theme of brown and beige," Eunice explained.
"I am sure they will be fine grandmother," Severus answered, setting Harry down on the bed.
"This has got to be the most comfortable bed I have ever been on." Harry grinned, letting out a groan as she sunk into the soft mattress and snuggled her head on the down pillows.
"I'm glad you like it Harriet." Eunice smiled, brushing the hair from her forehead.
"I am going to run a scan now, Harry. I need to see if there is any new damage done to the healing going on in your internal organs and your legs."
"I'm fine, Uncle, really." Harry insisted while he ran his wand over her body paying careful attention to her abdomen.
"You are not fine, Potter. Your liver and kidneys are not completely healed and your broken leg is still very weak."
"Severus is there any new damage?" Eunice inquired.
"She has pulled a muscle in her left leg and the tendons are inflamed. Her liver is somewhat enlarged but there is no internal bleeding. This along with the healing going on in her kidneys is what caused the abdominal pain. She needs to rest. I am going to give her something so she sleeps for awhile and ease her discomfort."
"Should she retire for the evening? I can have her dinner sent up."
"I believe she should be able to come down. Is dinner still at seven?"
"It is. Your grandfather likes to stand on tradition."
"Then if you will excuse us Harriet needs to rest and I am going to freshen up."
"Of course, I am sure you are both tired after your journey. We will be dining on the back patio tonight since the weather is warm enough. You needn't wear dress robes either. I convinced Septimus that semi formal would be more appropriate this evening to give Harriet a chance to relax. I have no desire for her to feel intimidated by her new family. I will see you both at dinner." She smiled warmly and left the room.
"Harriet," Severus frowned, "You have got to think before you act. You are entirely too impulsive. You could have really caused some serious harm to your injuries by running off like you did."
"Hermione calls it my 'saving people thing,' she replied with a half smile.
"Just the same you need to think of the possible consequences before rushing into anything." Severus shook his head. "Your Gryffindor tendencies are not a bad thing but use some of the Slytherin cunning at the same time. I know you are more than capable of doing so. Had you listened to the Sorting Hat and been in my house you would not have found yourself in danger so often."
"Humph," she snorted, "I would have been fodder for the junior Death Eaters instead."
"No, I would not have permitted such a thing to go on. In Slytherin we do not discuss or act on whatever allegiances are adhered to outside of the school. In fact you may have been a good influence on some of the Death Eater's children and kept them from making the mistake of following in their parents footsteps."
"You can't know that for certain."
"No, but it is a strong likely hood that you may have made a difference," he remarked while reaching into his robes and pulling out three vials full of potions. "Now take these. They will ease your discomfort and help with the healing process. It will also be good idea for you to take a nap before dinner."
"I am knackered from the walk and all the excitement," Harry agreed taking the vials. "Let's see…Ah this one is a sleeping draught, and this one is a pain reliever." She held up two of the vials. "So, this one must be some kind of healing potion." Harry grinned, indicating the vial with the purple fluid.
"Take the potions, Harry. I am aware that you are not as incompetent in potions as I originally believed. It will be interesting to see your OWL scores."
"Do I still need an outstanding to get into your advanced potions class?"
"Yes, but should you achieve a good score I will consider tutoring you over the summer and you can retake the OWL in August."
"I didn't know you could take them a second time."
"You may with the permission of the Headmaster and the instructor. However, I will need to see some improvement before I consent to it."
"You may just be surprised. Most of my potions were sabotaged by Draco and his cronies. Not to mention that you always seemed to have it in for me," she commented, cheeks flushing in embarrassment, unable to look at her uncle.
"That will no longer be the case. I will consider tutoring you when I see how well you did on your OWL and I no longer have to pretend to be loyal to the Dark Lord. However, should you get into advanced potions you will be expected to perform up to my standards. Is that clear?"
"Yes Sir!" She nodded, before taking each of the potions. She settled down further into the bed and closed her eyes with a sigh of relief. She was asleep within a few minutes. She was unaware of Severus pulling the duvet around her shoulders and stroking the hair from her forehead before he left for his own room to gather fresh clothes and take a relaxing shower. He would wake her in plenty of time to freshen up before dinner.
Authors Note: I am sorry for the long wait. My computer crashed twice and I lost part of the story. I also started a new job and have been very busy. I hope you review and to all those who have been reading my other stories I am glad to see you are enjoying them. I am unable to respond to most reviews but I do read them and they keep me going. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I will start the next chapter as soon as possible. Dinner should be an interesting affair in the Prince household.