Harry slowly opened her eyes, confused for a moment as to where she was. Looking around the room she remembered that they were at Prince Manor. She stretched slowly, getting the kinks out of her sore muscles and felt something on the bottom of the bed. Sitting up she spied her uncle's new familiar, Sienna, lying by her feet. The adder looked up and bobbed her head then slithered off the bed towards the door to the adjoining bathroom, which was ajar. A few minutes later she heard the snake speaking with her uncle.
"Masssterr Ssseverruss, Harry hasss awoken."
"Thank you, Sssienna. I will sssee to herr needsss. Are you hungry?"
"Yesss, Masssterr. I have not eaten in a while."
"Then come, I have a niccce mousssee for you. I ssshhhalll placcce you in your tank and you can eat." He allowed the serpent to crawl up his arm placing her into the tank on the small table near the fireplace for warmth. His grandmother had secured the tank so he would have a place to keep the snake safely. Snape then pulled out a freshly killed field mouse the elves had given him. Dropping it into the tank he placed a screen on top and headed towards the connecting bath into Harriet's room. He knocked on the partially opened door prior to entering. "Harriet, it is almost time for dinner. My grandmother has informed me that we will be dining on the patio as it is such a nice evening. Therefore you need not worry about wearing formal robes this evening."
"I thought great grandfather preferred formal clothes at dinner?"
"As a general rule he does. However, Eunice has convinced him that after our long journey and the fact that you are still recovering from some serious injuries, along with meeting relatives you never knew existed, that you would probably be more comfortable in a more relaxing atmosphere." Severus smirked. "Grandmother can have quite the temper when she doesn't get her way about such things."
"But the only clothes I have are what I wore here!" Harry exclaimed anxiously.
". I neglected to mention that Molly did some shopping along with Minerva and Miss Granger prior to our leaving since most of your belongings were either rags or destroyed during the attack on Privet Drive," he stated, pulling open the door to the wardrobe. "The elves have unpacked your belongings"
"Oh… At least my clothes won't be Aunt Petunia's worn out hand me downs or Dudley's old jeans and tee shirts. I will have to owl a thank you note to them tonight for the new clothes." Severus nodded in approval. "Do I have time for a shower?"
"If you make it quick; dinner will be ready in thirty minutes."
"I'll be ready in twenty!" Harry exclaimed climbing from the bed.
"Knock on my door when you are ready and I will escort you down," Severus informed her. Retreating back into his room he closed his connecting door. A minute later he heard the shower come on.
Harry bathed quickly, relishing the hot water and how refreshed it made her feel after the day's events. Once she was finished she hurriedly towel dried her hair before using a drying charm ignoring her unruly black hair. Exiting the bathroom wrapped in a long fluffy blue towel she examined the clothing hanging in the wardrobe. She finally settled on a soft green silk summer dress to offset her eyes and a pair of white sandals. There was also a white robe trimmed with green to match. Checking herself in the dressing table mirror she noticed that there were a variety of hair clips. Her friends had thought of everything! Leaving a few loose curls to frame her face she pulled her hair back, securing it with a white clip decorated with green and white rhinestones. She had just finished when there was a knock on her outer door. She opened it surprised to find her uncle.
"I know I told you to knock on my door but it is getting late. I didn't want to come through the bath as I was not sure if you were decent," he said examining her attire with approval.
"I'm all set. I have the feeling that the connecting bath could cause problems though."
"The doors both lock from each side so we should be able to manage without too much difficulty. We can set up a charm so that when one of us is in there the other door will automatically lock and unlock when we exit. That way we won't walk in on one another."
"Oh…Right that should be fine."
"I see you weren't paying attention to the doors when you showered since I didn't hear the lock click."
"Stop reading my mind!" She pouted.
"Harriet," he smirked, "I have told you on numerous occasions that no one can read minds. I simply noticed your look of consternation and the flush on you cheeks. Therefore I was aware that you hadn't paid any mind to checking the locking mechanism for the bathroom doors." he calmly explained, leading her down the grand staircase.
Harry didn't reply. She was looking around nervously as he steered her through the hall and through what appeared to be a formal dining room. He led her through a set of French doors which opened onto a stone terrace the length of the mansion with a view of the back gardens. There were a multitude of flowering plants and shrubs giving off a heady scent bordering the terrace. A brick path wound its way through the lush green lawn leading down towards the cliff and ending in a fieldstone wall. Off to her right Harry could see a number of paddocks, the horses grazing contentedly. Over on her left there was a sculptured hedge about ten feet high forming a maze. She shuddered inwardly, reminded of the third task of the Triwizard tournament and knew she wouldn't be going in there anytime soon. Her great grandparents were seated at a round table in comfortable patio chairs. They rose to greet them upon their arrival. Harry had all she could do to keep from laughing when she noticed a house elf standing by a large barbeque grilling some steaks and chicken. He was clad in a pair of shorts and tee shirt over which he wore an apron bearing a large letter P. This was offset by a chef's hat perched on his head, his long ears sticking out from the sides.
"Please sit down." Eunice Snape directed them cordially, indicating the empty chairs.
"Coffee will have the meat done in a few minutes and Delfina will be bringing out the side dishes shortly."
A female house elf popped in just as she finished speaking. The elf had bushy brown hair and big hazel eyes and Harry couldn't help but think of Hermione. She had all she could do to keep from giggling at the thought. She was wearing a miniature serving maid's costume with the family insignia emblazoned on the top of her apron. She was levitating two trays laden with vegetables and fresh salads.
"Mistress Prince I has brought the side dishes that yous requested," she said, placing the food on the table and giving a curtsey. "Is there be anything else yous be needing?"
"No, Delfina that will be all until dessert." Eunice Prince dismissed the elf and she popped out.
"Severus, how are things at Hogwarts these days. Is the old coot still expecting you to keep spying now that you are Harriet's guardian?" Septimus Prince inquired.
"It would be foolish to even consider it. Once the Dark Lord sees the story in today's Prophet he will try to summon me to bring Harriet to him. Albus and I both agreed that rather than try to convince the Dark Lord that I want to bring Harriet to our cause I would stop spying. Harriet has lost enough in her life without having to worry about my attending Death Eater meetings.
"Uncle Severus, won't he try and hurt you through your mark?"
"It is likely. However, once Albus and I agreed that my spying days were over he put a binding charm on my arm to diminish any discomfort I may feel. He was unable to block it completely." Snape informed them, unconsciously rubbing his left arm.
"He's hurting you now, isn't he?" Eunice inquired.
"It is nothing to concern yourself with, grandmother. I have felt far worse."
"Filthy bastard, no one hurts our family and gets away with it!" Septimus swore, more than a hint of anger in his voice.
"Septimus, watch your language!" Eunice scolded.
"I apologize, I am not used to having a child in the house.
"I am not a child. I'm a teenager. I'm almost sixteen!" Harry bristled. She hated being referred to as a child. "I've faced old snake face five times. He's nothing more than an overzealous magical bully! He doesn't even use his real name."
"He doesn't?" Eunice asked perplexed.
"No, it's Tom Marvolo Riddle. He was in Hogwarts the same time as Professor McGonagall."
"What! I was two years ahead of a boy by that name. He won all kinds of awards and most of the professors adored him. We were in the Slug Club together. Why was I not aware of this?" Septimus frowned. "If I recall he turned in Hagrid for loosing that monster in the school that killed some girl."
"That would be Moaning Myrtle. She was in Ravenclaw. Hagrid did not let loose any monster. It was Tom. He opened the Chamber of Secrets and Myrtle was killed by the Basilisk that was down there. She haunts the bathroom where she died. It's where the entrance to the chamber is hidden. Only a Parselmouth can open it."
"Good Lord, Harriet, I heard you killed a basilisk but I thought it was just sensationalist gossip."
"No, great grandfather, it wasn't. I was twelve years old and Ginny Weasley was down there. Tom was draining her life force in order to resurrect himself. Her brother Ron and I went down to try and save her."
"Foolish girl, why didn't you get a teacher to help you!"
"We did, except he was a fraud."
"They brought the defense teacher at the time, Gilderoy Lockhart." Severus sneered. "He was nothing more than a blathering idiot before he lost his memory."
"Didn't you go to Hogwarts with him, Severus?" Eunice asked.
"Unfortunately. About the only thing he was capable of was charms work."
"Yeah, Memory Charms." Harry snorted. "All that stuff in his books was done by other wizards. Then he would take the credit after obliterating their memory. He tried to do it to me and Ron too, but the spell backfired because he used Ron's wand and it was broken." Harry explained.
"How did you kill the beast?" Septimus inquired. He was aghast that a twelve year old had taken it upon herself to try and save her classmate's sister.
"Albus told me she used Gryffindor's sword. Fawkes delivered it to her in the Sorting Hat," Severus clarified.
"Where was the Headmaster when all this was going on?" Eunice demanded, horrified at the tale.
"Lucius had gotten the Board of Governors to remove him by threatening to curse their families. He was behind the whole thing. He put a cursed journal into Miss Weasley's bucket when she was purchasing her school books for the start of the year."
"Yeah, but when they found out that it was Arthur Weasley's daughter that was taken into the chamber they reinstated Professor Dumbledore immediately." Harry grinned.
"Just the same, Harriet, you were lucky you weren't killed!" Eunice remonstrated.
"I almost was. When I drove the sword into the basilisk's mouth into his brain I caught my arm on one of its fangs. I only survived because Fawkes came to my rescue as I was driving the fang into the diary to destroy it."
"You used a fang to destroy the journal?" Septimus asked. "How was that possible?"
"I have no idea. I only know that Tom said something about Ginny holding the book in her arms and I took it and drove the fang into it. All this horrible black tarry stuff poured out and Tom vanished. Then Ginny woke up."
"Excuse me, Master Prince, but the meat is ready." The elf who had been cooking at the grill interrupted.
"Excellent, just place the platter on the table and you may go."
"Yes, Sir." The elf waved his hand placing the platter on the table before he disappeared with a pop.
"Harriet, I wasn't certain what you would like so I had Coffee grill a variety of foods."
"Thank you great grandmother, that was very considerate of you; but just so you know I'm not picky. It comes from living with the Dursley's." Harriet answered, her eyes going wide when she realized what she had said.
"Whatever do you mean?" Septimus queried.
"Never mind, it was really nothing. I was just thinking out loud, Sir." Harriet said, avoiding his eyes. She was aware that her great grandfather was not fond of Muggles.
"Grandfather, the Dursley's would withhold food from Harriet for long periods," Snape enlightened him, dark eyes meeting the elder Snape's. "I have her on nutrient potions to help restore her nutritional defiencies."
"What kind of people would withhold food from a child?" Eunice gasped. "That is absolutely disgraceful! It is one thing to send a disobedient child to bed without dessert but quite another not to feed them altogether."
"How frequently did this happen?" Septimus demanded angrily.
"More often than not several times a week. From what I can gather they barely gave her enough to survive. Cold soups, stale bread and occasionally some cheese with only water to drink which was slipped through a cat flap on the bedroom door containing multiple locks after she started at Hogwarts," Severus stated. "Prior to that her room was a broom cupboard."
"Please, Uncle Severus, I don't want to talk about this!" Harriet looked from her uncle towards her great grandparents, eyes wide with apprehension. "It is over and done with and not anyone's business."
"Harriet, as your great grandfather it is my business. You are the heir apparent to the Prince fortune unless Severus should marry and produce an heir. To know that one of our family was treated in such a manner is absolutely outrageous!"
"It is no more outrageous than disowning your own daughter simply because you did not like the fact that she married a Muggle!" Harry glared at Septimus. "Where were you when Uncle Severus was growing up? I saw what he father was like when I looked in his pensieve. Where were you when your daughter needed your help?!" Harry stood from the table, body shaking angrily, her magic lashing out and causing the plates on the table to rattle. "Where were you when that same daughter had to give up her own daughter in order to protect her? You turned a blind eye to her plight and that of your grandson because of your stupid Pureblood prejudices and allowed them all to suffer!" Harry had tears running down her cheeks, green eyes glowing with anger and humiliation. Knocking over her chair, she did the only thing she knew how. She vaulted off the terrace and ran. Her new family would no longer want her after this outburst. Feelings of anguish and frustration overwhelming her. She reached the cliff wall and collapsed to her knees, she would be all alone now with no one who cared….
The three adults looked from one to another, faces shocked, not sure what to say at first when Severus finally spoke.
"I'll go after her grandfather. This is my fault. I should never have brought up some of what the Dursley's did to her."
"No, Severus, I will go. The child only spoke the truth. I should have been there for you and Eileen, not to mention your lost sister," Septimus said. "I am ashamed of what I did. That
is one of the reasons I made sure we had an excuse to have you stay in the manor. I wanted to make amends without losing face. I am just an old bigot and had I listened to Eunice in the first place…." His voice trailed off as he looked towards his wife. Severus had never seen his grandfather look so chagrined.
"Septimus, I'll go. I think what Harriet needs most right now is a woman's touch. Why don't you and Severus talk about what happened to Harry while I'm gone and when I get back with our troubled great grandchild we will sit down and eat calmly. You and Severus can discuss his own childhood privately later on." Eunice rose and put warming and cooling charms on the various foods before walking towards the stairs leading into the gardens.
"Your grandmother is right, Severus. What happened to Harriet that she become so upset and angry other than what she said about you and your parents?"
"Harry's uncle was a beast of a man. If he had been a wizard he would have made an excellent Death Eater."
"He was that vile?"
"Yes, grandfather, he was. He would make her do impossible chores that an adult couldn't finish. She was treated worse than a house elf and as I said before she was practically starved."
"Did he ever get violent?
"He would beat her with his belt buckle when she couldn't finish the chores and would allow his son and his friends to bully her, and that is putting it mildly."
"What about that supposed aunt of hers? Did she never step in to stop the abuse?"
"No. In fact she condoned most of it. She was insanely jealous of Lily and after Petunia grew up she believed magic was abnormal. The whole family would call Harriet a freak."
"Did the uncle ever touch her with sexual intention?"
"I believe this is what occurred on the night the Dursley's were killed. It seems he was going to try and prostitute her out but first he had his son try and sodomize her. Fortunately Harriet's magic flared accidently and she was able to escape. The wards fell and that is when the Death Eaters showed up. I arrived in disguise shortly thereafter with the Order."
"You mean to tell me that Albus Dumbledore allowed this treatment to happen to an innocent child?" Septimus questioned incredulously.
"He believed that Petunia would raise Harriet as her own. He knew they weren't the nicest of Muggles but had no idea things were that bad. If it is any consolation he is feeling extremely guilty."
"Did he never check on the child?"
"Unfortunately no. He wanted her kept from the w\Wizarding world as long a possible to protect her from those Death Eaters who escaped Azkaban and from having the fame corrupt her."
"He always was too naïve about these things. If he had checked up on her we may have been able to establish your relationship sooner with a blood charm. Just because he believed that Lily's sister was Harriet's only relative did not mean there weren't some magical ones he was unaware of. A blood charm would have revealed her Prince heritage!" Septimus scowled.
"Possibly, but that is all a moot point now. The important thing now is that Harriet understands she is still a member of this family. She is quite insecure due to the treatment at the hands of her supposed relatives. She also needs to be taken to task for her behavior without making her feel unwelcome or afraid of punishment."
"I concur and since you are her legal guardian I will leave any punishment up to you. However I will have a talk with her about what has happened and try to make her understand what I was feeling when your mother left."
"She is a bright and inquisitive child. I think you will find she is also quite forgiving. Just don't let her know that I said that." Severus smirked at his grandfather.
"Absolutely not! We Prince's know how to keep a secret." Septimus declared, lips quirking up at the corners. "As for you and I we will talk about my poor judgment in regards to your parents tonight over a glass of fire whisky once Harriet has gone to bed."
"Now I see that your grandmother and our runaway great grandchild are walking back towards us but I can't help but wonder what they talked about. She always was good at comforting your mother when she was a girl."
"We will just have to wait and see if they wish to tell us," Severus replied. "But somehow I don't believe they will."
"I suppose you're right, Severus, as I do think they have started to bond with each other, which is only fitting. Eunice and I missed Eileen terribly but I know as a mother Eunice felt the loss that much more and my anger at what I perceived as Eileen's betrayal didn't help matters any. Your grandmother refused to speak with me for the better part of two months, let alone share my bed, until I agreed to allow her to try and contact your mother, but it was all for naught. Eileen had disappeared into the Muggle world and it was close to three years before we had any news of her," Septimus professed, watching the two walk back. His wife had her arm around Harriet's shoulders hugging her close. "However, as I stated earlier we will speak of the details surrounding your parents relationship tonight," Septimus asserted with finality. He was not going to speak of it any further with his grandson until he had some time to think. Septimus hoped his wife would tell him about what she and Harriet had talked about later on. He was more than curious to know more about his great granddaughter and all she had been through; both at Hogwarts and at the hands of those thrice cursed Muggles. Deep inside he knew her trials were just beginning as well as those of his grandson. Lord Voldemort would use anything he could against them.
Eunice had left the table and headed in the direction that Harriet had taken. She knew her husband and grandson needed time to discuss what had happened and her great granddaughter was in need of more than just reassurance. She was going to do everything in her power to placate the child and not allow the men in her life to repeat their past mistakes. Right now she was more than a little worried. Harriet had run off towards the wall separating the estate from the cliffs below. It had been a long time since the wards to prevent anyone falling or jumping had been reinforced properly. While Septimus made sure the estate was secure he didn't always bother with the cliffs once Eileen had gone to Hogwarts and was old enough to know better than to try and climb onto the wall. It was a lesson she had learned the hard way. Eunice shuddered remembering when Eileen had been ten and her husband had found her walking on top of the wall pretending she was flying. If the wards hadn't been in place she could have fallen to her death. It was one of the only times Septimus had ever spanked Eileen.
Scanning the area her eyes followed the length of the wall and almost missed spotting Harriet. She was sitting in the corner where the wall turned from the seaward side towards the wooded area that led back towards the old smugglers path down to the sea. Breathing a sigh of relief she approached quietly so that Harry wouldn't become alarmed and bolt once again. As she drew closer she realized that the young girl had folded in on herself, legs drawn up to her chest with her head resting on her knees. Her shoulders were shaking and Eunice realized she was crying. Her shadow fell across Harriet and she looked up with frightened tear filled eyes.
"Harry," Eunice began, using the less formal name that her great granddaughter preferred, "everything is going to be all right. I understand that what happened with your supposed relatives was awful and you would prefer not to talk about it but you'll feel better if you do. It won't stop us from caring nor will we think any less of you." Eunice slowly sat down beside Harry on the grass, circling one arm around the shoulders of the distressed child.
"How can you say that? You don't even really know me, let alone what they did," Harry sobbed. "All people ever want to see is the so called savior. Not a scarred weakling. If anyone ever found out about how I was treated they would turn their backs and give up."
"Your right, I don't really know you but I would like to. Not because people believe you have to save our world from an evil psychopath. I want to know my great granddaughter, the child my lost granddaughter whom I never got to know and the niece of my grandson. A beautiful young witch on the cusp of womanhood. Someone that I am already proud of for her courage and compassion who is not afraid to speak her mind when she is defending her family and friends. A young woman who has taken every awful thing life has thrown at her and still has the tenacity to fight back and stand up for what she believes in without giving up." Eunice softly kissed her on the top of her head."
"Do you really mean what you just said?" Harry asked hopefully. "You aren't going to disown me like great-grandfather did with Uncle Severus' mother?" Harry knew she was babbling but couldn't help it. Her fear of rejection surfacing its ugly head.
"Of course not child. Whatever would give you such an idea?"
"Well…I said some awful things at the table and almost couldn't control my magic. Great grandfather must be furious."
"I believe he is a bit upset but he is not the ogre you think. However, an apology would be in order. Besides, if he so much as raises a ruckus over such a personal issue as those Muggles he will not only find himself sleeping alone like he did when he disowned Eileen, I will personally hex off his balls!"
"Great grandmother!" Harry gasped, shocked at the older woman's comment, despite the blush creeping up her cheeks.
"Come Harriet, let's go home," Eunice grinned, standing and offering her hand. "I am too old to be sitting so long on the ground."
"Yes, Mam," she responded dutifully. Getting up she fell into step beside the older witch who pulled her into a one armed hug as they headed back towards the manor. When the two of them reached the veranda her great grandfather and uncle rose from their chairs as decorum indicated. Harry looked from one to the other and spoke, "Lord Prince, I humbly apologize for my outrageous behavior this evening. I lost control of both my temper and my magic. My behavior was totally out of line," Harry stated, formally addressing the older man first.
"I accept your apology my lady. You need to think before you speak and learn to maintain better control of your magic. It is obvious that you have inherited the Prince temper," Septimus responded, trying not to let his lips quirk up into a smile.
Harry then turned towards her uncle, whose face was totally unreadable, mask firmly in place. "Professor Snape, I am sorry for what I said and for embarrassing you this evening. I shouldn't have become so upset while you were trying to explain some of the treatment I received at the hands of the Dursley's."
Severus' black eyes met emerald, scrutinizing her carefully for any sign of falseness in her apology. He did not miss that she had reverted back to calling him Professor, nor that she shifted uncomfortably. He knew their relationship would be difficult at times but he did not want her to fear him. He cleared his throat and nodded in satisfaction.
"Harriet, I accept your apology. However, I want you to realize that such behavior can't go without consequences." Severus deliberately did not use the word punishment and Harry nodded before he continued. "You will write one hundred lines of, ' I will not be disrespectful to my elders and endeavor to maintain my temper in their presence at all times.' This will be given to me by lunch time tomorrow and afterwards you will be assisting me in brewing some potions. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Sir," she replied, relieved that this was no worse a punishment than he usually assigned in school. In fact she thought it was rather light considering some of his previous chastisements
"Now that everything is out of the way, let us enjoy this delicious meal that the elves worked so hard to prepare for us," Lady Prince smiled. "I for one am starving."
They all seated themselves at her comment and passed around the food. Harry had some grilled shrimp and a piece of chicken with lemon sauce, corn on the cob, green salad, and carrots. Her uncle and great grandfather opted for barbecued steaks with potato salad and a three bean salad, while her great grandmother had almost the same as Harry but with macaroni salad instead of the corn. The adults had wine with their meal and Harry opted for lemonade. The dinner conversation was light with most of the discussions concerning Harry's subjects at Hogwarts and her friends. No mentioned her adventures wishing to avoid giving her any further discomfort. They would talk about them further when she was more settled. When the elves finally brought out the dessert Harry had tears in her eyes. It was a large chocolate cake with whipped cream icing and written on top was, 'Welcome Home Prince (ss) Harriet.' Once the meal was over the men retired to Septimus study for their private talk. Lady Prince went to see about setting up the daily schedule for the elves and Harry went up to her room to complete the lines Severus had assigned before changing and falling into bed. For once her sleep was not plagued by nightmares but that was not to last.
AUTHOR NOTE: I am sorry this has taken almost two years to complete and I hope you are all still out there. It has been some trying times since we survived Hurricane Sandy, then I had computer problems, family issues and a massive writer's block. I am back now and the story is back on track. There will be more family interactions coming and some of the other characters will be putting in appearances, in addition to someone you will not expect to see. And don't worry Voldemort will be very much active later on in the story. Let me know what you all think about the Prince relatives. In the meantime enjoy!