Disclaimer: The characters still don't belong to me, just messing around with the plot line.
A/N: BAM! Bet no one saw this coming! But in all honesty, I suck! I'm so sorry. I haven't answered reviews in like a year either. I'll try to pick back up now, but I apologize if I didn't answer you personally. My inbox is too overwhelming to go back now. I still hate this chapter, but I can't go over it anymore, so I'm just going to move on. Thanks again for EVERYONE'S support and encouragement. I do read each and every review. Sorry if you have to go back and reread the whole story because I took so long.
Huge thanks to Jess and Stacy for not beta-ing this chapter, but beta-ing in the past! All the mistakes on this one are all mine.
Brief recap… Sirius was demanding answers from Snape so Harry blurted out everything about the abuse. The conversation didn't go that well, Remus and Sirius left and Snape is going to look for Harry.
Ch. 46 – Commit to Memory
Ron was really aggravated.
Sirius had just come through about fifteen minutes ago looking as though he was going to strangle someone. Either that or someone had died. He'd stormed upstairs without a word to anyone, including Ron's mum, who'd tried to question what was going on.
The occupants of Grimmauld place had been very curious and worried about where Sirius and Remus had disappeared to the last few days and now Ron was frustrated that they'd seemed to have come from Snape's and no one was telling him what was going on.
He'd just been booted from the kitchen by his own mum after he'd heard Remus say something about Harry and being sick. Harry was his best friend and if something was wrong, which it obviously was, he deserved to know.
"Ron, I'm sure they'd tell us if something serious happened," Hermione tried to reason with him, but by the way she obsessively twisted a lock of her hair, she was worried too.
He shook his head. "Did you see Sirius?" he hissed. "He wouldn't look like that if Harry just had a cold or something. And I heard Remus say something about being sick!"
He and Hermione had been sitting on the steps when Remus suddenly came up from the Kitchen. Ron couldn't remember their old professor ever looking as tired as he did right now, even after a full moon.
"Remus," he said, jumping up. "What's going on? Is something wrong with Harry?"
The man just patted his shoulder lightly. "Everything is fine," he said unconvincingly, as he pushed by.
Ron huffed before giving Hermione an "I told you so" look.
"Until someone tells us what is going on, there is not much we can do Ronald," Hermione responded quietly.
Ron ignored his friend and raced down to the kitchen to find his mum scrubbing furiously at the stove top as if it had just insulted her cooking.
"Mum, did something happen to Harry?" he ventured nervously.
She startled before answering in a falsely cheerful voice, "Everything is fine dear, don't you worry."
"But Sirius and Remus were at Snape's, weren't they?" he asked.
"It's Professor Snape, Ronald, and it's just a bit of a cold."
"He's my best mate," Ron started to exclaim before Hermione spoke up from the doorway.
"Mrs. Weasley, we're just concerned about Harry."
"Oh, don't you two worry," she answered in that same cheery voice again. "Now run on upstairs," she added more seriously.
Ron knew when to quit arguing with his mum. They weren't going to get anywhere this way.
It'd been a couple hours and still, they'd received no explanation. His mum continued her furious cleaning spree and no one had seen Remus and Sirius since they disappeared to the attic. The twins had tried spying with their Extendable Ears, but with no luck. Ron was pacing his room while Hermione pretended to read, although she hadn't turned a page in quite some time.
"I know how to get answers," he spoke up.
"How?" Hermione questioned, clearly surprised that he had come up with a solution before her.
Telling Sirius everything had not made Harry feel better. In fact with every minute that ticked by he just felt more defeated.
"When do I get to worry about normal kid stuff, like getting yelled at for having grass stains on my jeans?" He was lying on his back under one of the weeping willow trees in the front yard when Snape loomed over him. He felt a little guilty about making the man walk all the way out here to find him, but he figured Snape could have just sent Marla if he wasn't up to the task yet.
"That can be arranged," Snape answered before clumps of grass started to rain down on Harry's face.
"Hey!" he sputtered indignantly when some landed on his mouth, but he couldn't stop the small smile from spreading across his face when he saw Snape's smirk. The moment didn't last long though.
"Sorry… about everything, in there," he added seriously.
"You need to stop apologizing for things that are not your fault."
"You used to think everything was my fault," Harry said, trying to joke again.
A deep frown passed across Snape's features and Harry instantly regretted his attempt. He quickly pushed himself up onto his elbows.
"I truly regret my actions in the past," Snape said firmly.
"You've more than made up for it," Harry said, hoping he could imply everything that had happened this past summer with that one sentence.
"No," Snape said, shaking his head lightly, "But I will not stop trying."
Harry tried to speak up again, but was cut off.
"Do not argue with me."
The statement was firm, but Harry could see amusement in Snape's eyes and this time he couldn't stop the small laugh that erupted from his mouth. It was nice to joke around with Snape, but again the humor didn't last long and the knot in his stomach started twisting again.
"I feel awful," he admitted soberly, knowing Snape would understand that he was referring to Sirius. He wanted to sick up just thinking about everything.
"Get up," Snape ordered.
Harry glanced up at the sharp tone. He wasn't sure what he was expecting Snape to say, but perhaps a little sympathy would have been nice.
"Of course you would just say I told you so," Harry muttered, half seriously and half trying to joke again.
"Get up," Snape insisted, holding his hand out to help.
It was hard not to be a little disappointed when the man was being so nice just a few minutes ago, but Harry knew Snape and Sirius would never get along. It made sense that Snape wouldn't care if Harry and Sirius fought.
He took the offered hand and pulled himself to his feet in one fluid motion, but rather than have his hand released, Snape yanked him forward and Harry found himself engulfed in the man's arms. Harry hugged back immediately and wanted to cry. He was shocked over the small gesture.
Sometimes Snape knew exactly what to say to make him feel better, and then there were times like this when he knew exactly what to do. Snape cupped the back of his head so it was buried against the man's robes and Harry tried his best to just listen to the slow even breathing of his professor. He wanted to commit everything about this moment to memory.
They stood like that for what seemed like an eternity and yet it was over far too early.
"I just hate that he's upset with me," Harry finally mumbled, afraid that Snape would pull away once he broke the silence, but needing to get it out.
"No one is upset with you, Harry," Snape said firmly, but his grip didn't lessen and Harry was extremely grateful.
After another moment of silence Snape spoke up again. "He'll apologize this evening."
Harry snorted at the statement. "Because he wants to or because you'll make him?" He had no doubt Snape could make him if that's what Snape really wanted.
"Trust me, Harry, your godfather feels awful about arguing with you," Snape explained evenly.
Whether Harry truly believed those words or not, he did believe that Snape wouldn't let go and that made all the difference.
He took a deep breath and probably tightened his grip without wanting to, before he opened his eyes and finally let go, taking an awkward step back. He tried to give Snape a smile, but he knew it came out weak. He could the wetness in his eyes and had to blink far too much. Gratefully, Snape didn't make any snide remarks.
"You want to talk about everything," Harry said more soberly, unsure of whether he would agree yet or not.
"No, I want you to come inside and eat," Snape answered simply.
"Oh," he snorted. Earlier when Snape tried to get him to leave the room he didn't have any type of appetite, but now his stomach was growling. He took a moment to brush himself off better before finally looking to Snape.
"Alright, lunch sounds good."
Snape just stared at him with one eyebrow raised in amusement before turning towards the house and Harry fell into step next to him. He couldn't help but laugh as the professor raised his free hand and ruffled up his hair causing grass to rain down. Being so at ease with Snape felt so good and Harry wished he could savor the moment forever. He realized he'd been doing that a lot lately, wanting to lock moments away. It'd been essential to have an arsenal of happy memories when trying to survive the Dursleys. Of course before he had come to Hogwarts they weren't so much as memories but rather fantasies of a different life, with a real family.
"Marla would not approve of you coming to the dinner table with grass in your hair," Snape said as explanation and dropped his hand to Harry's shoulder for the rest of the trip across the yard.
He'd hate when all this ended, but he'd cherish every moment until then and pretend he had a real father for just a little while.
The teen had finished up his soup and sandwich and was sipping his tea when Severus finally decided to break the comfortable silence.
"There is an Order meeting this evening that I must attend. Perhaps you would like to spend some time with your friends at Headquarters."
"Are you going to talk about…what happened?" Harry asked, glancing pointedly at the cane Severus had resting against his chair.
"It will be on the agenda, among other things," he responded before sipping his own tea.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" Harry asked boldly.
In the past Severus would have immediately snapped that it was none of Harry's business. This time he took a lot longer to answer.
"You need not concern yourself with that," he finally supplied.
"But I am concerned!" Harry responded heatedly, before snapping his mouth closed.
"Trust that I can handle myself, Harry," Severus responded evenly.
"You almost died," Harry breathed out. He set his cup down and wrapped his arms around himself.
It unnerved Severus to blatantly see how affected Harry was by what might have happened to him. He wasn't used to the concern and certainly wasn't sure how to handle it. The one thing he was sure of was that he didn't like seeing Harry upset and he would do what he could to alleviate it.
"I'm sure you already realize it concerned the change in your trial date. However, I am still too valuable." That would have to do. Harry did not need to worry about any other details.
When Harry didn't respond Severus moved on. "Your godfather will want to speak with you this evening before the meeting."
Harry's eyes were filled with trepidation when they snapped up to meet Severus'.
"No doubt he will be wishing to apologize," Severus added, "and I will accompany you."
"Alright," Harry answered, letting out the breath he seemed to be holding.
Silence filled the room again. Severus didn't want to push Harry too much, but he did want to speak about some of the things the boy had said earlier. Surprisingly, he didn't have to make the first move.
"I'm sorry about earlier… making a scene," Harry said again.
"You certainly have nothing to apologize for. As I already said, it is your godfather who owes you an apology."
"But I shouldn't have said all that," Harry added.
"Because it was not the truth or because you did not want us all to know?"
Harry bit his lip and looked down. Severus already knew the answer to that question, but the boy's embarrassment just confirmed things.
"As I've explained before, my father was a rotten drunk. He took his animosity towards the world out on my mother and I because he could pretend there was something wrong with us, something he could pinpoint. There was nothing we could have done to make up for it in his eyes."
By the look in Harry's eyes, he was both shocked and riveted to the abrupt explanation.
"Your uncle chose to be a fearful, afraid of magic and what he could not control. He let that fear turn him into an awful man. Your desire for him to change is not something to be ashamed of, Harry. I never stopped wanting my father to change."
Harry swallowed thickly and averted his eyes.
Severus did not want to push the subject too much. "Collect your Occlumency books. We'll work in the study, should you have any questions as you read."
Harry gave a nod and Severus could see the relief wash across his face with the closure of their previous conversation.
Severus had to admit it was a relief to himself as well. Even after twenty years it was hard to discuss.
An hour later found Harry curled up on the couch reading yet another chapter on clearing your mind while Snape sat in his usual arm chair touching up lesson plans. Harry couldn't get over the normalcy of the whole situation and how comfortable he felt. It didn't even matter that he was reading an annoying Occlumency book.
Suddenly the floo flared green and Harry gaped as his two best friends tumbled out.
They both looked sheepish, but Ron had quickly squared his shoulders in determination.
"Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger," Snape drawled.
"What are you doing here? Did something happen?" Harry quickly chimed in, becoming worried that Sirius had run off to Little Whinging.
Ron looked hesitant for a minute with Snape staring at him, but then plowed on.
"That's what we'd like to know. What happened to your voice?" His eyes kept darting to Snape and back to Harry.
"Er, it's a long story," Harry answered glancing towards Snape to see how mad he was about having Hermione and Ron just showing up.
"Mr. Weasley, am I correct in assuming your mother is unaware of your little excursion?" Snape asked evenly.
At the mention of his mother Ron's shoulders drooped ever so slightly and Hermione stepped up next to him.
"That's correct, Sir," Hermione spoke succinctly, "But we were concerned about Harry being sick and no one would give us any information."
Ron had seemed to rally behind Hermione, clenching his jaw in anticipation of having to defend their actions.
Before Harry could interject at all to try and help his friends in their argument, Snape was already speaking.
"Very well. Inform her of your whereabouts and then you may both stay for dinner," he said.
Ron's mouth dropped open and it was even obvious that Hermione was a bit startled by Snape's response.
She opened her own mouth to speak before closing it again as if she wasn't sure if she heard him correctly.
Harry couldn't stop himself from grinning at the idea that Snape didn't mind if his friends were here, but he did stifle a laugh when the man arched at his two friends.
"Mr. Weasley, you will need to utilize the floo to make a fire call to your mother," Snape explained sarcastically.
"Right," Ron answered quickly before spinning around to look for some floo powder.
"Thank you, Sir," Hermione responded as well.
Snape gave a quick nod before returning his focus to the books he had in his lap.
Hermione took that as a cue that she could move and quickly rushed over to the couch while Ron spoke quietly to his mum in the background.
"Harry, what happened?" she asked in a hushed voice, her brown eyes filled with concern.
"It's a long story, but I'm fine, really," he attempted to reassure her. "Is everything alright at Grimmauld Place?"
"But Remus and Sirius were here. Something must have happened," she pressed, ignoring his question.
"And they looked miserable," Ron chimed in as he returned from the floo.
"As I have no doubt there is much to discuss, you might be more comfortable upstairs," Snape interjected before Harry could reply.
Harry wasn't sure how to interpret the man's words. Snape was an extremely private person, but he factored into this story a lot. He knew the man wouldn't want everyone to know how vulnerable he had been over the last few days.
"I imagine they will hound you until you tell them everything," Snape explained further at Harry's hesitation. "I'll call you down for dinner in a few hours."
Harry smiled, realizing Snape trusted him. He nodded and caught a glimpse of a small smirk before Snape bowed his head back to the work he had in front of him.
He rose to his feet, leaving the throw blanket on the couch and his book on the coffee table, before showing his friends upstairs.
By the time Snape called them for dinner, he had gone through the whole crazy story of the last few days.
Even with a cane Harry was amazed at how poised Snape was when he stepped through the grate of Grimmauld Place, especially after he had just landed in an undignified heap.
Dinner had been really great and Harry was happy his friends had finally gotten to see a small bit of how Snape had changed. The man had still been very reserved around Ron and Hermione, but he did talk about their potions homework a little and Harry thought it must have been obvious that he and the professor were more comfortable around each other at the very least.
Now Harry found himself very uncomfortable. Sirius greeted him right away rocking on his toes as though he wanted to give him a hug, but was afraid to come too close. Mrs. Weasley had no such issues and immediately invaded his space, gripping his shoulders as she inspected him.
"Harry, dear! How are you feeling?" She asked with that motherly concern Harry had come to know from her.
"I'm fine, really," Harry answered quickly.
"Oh my! You sound terrible," she scolded, shooting a glare at the adults in the room. Harry thought his voice had improved tremendously and was glad Mrs. Weasley hadn't heard him a couple days ago. "Let me fix you up a cup of my special tea," she said, squeezing his shoulders briefly before bustling off.
Silence descended on the group again and Harry found most eyes on him, but he was unsure of how to proceed.
"Harry can we speak to you, in private," Sirius finally spoke up.
He knew Sirius was referring to Remus standing next to him and found himself nodding, but before he could move to follow them Snape had stopped him with a hand to his shoulder.
When he turned to look, Snape didn't say anything, but Harry already knew what he was asking. A warmth blossomed in his chest just knowing that Snape really was there.
"It's alright," he said quietly, but Snape didn't relinquish his grip right away.
It was a relief to know that Snape would be there if he needed him, but Harry felt like he needed to try this conversation on his own. He didn't want any extra tension in the room that he knew would come from Snape and Sirius just being in the same vicinity. He also didn't want to cause a scene right now.
"Really," he said in a tone he hoped was more convincing. It must have worked because Snape gave an almost unnoticeable nod of his head and let go of Harry's shoulder.
Sirius was waiting in the open doorway with an unreadable expression on his face. Harry attempted to give him a small smile as he made his way towards him.
"Arthur, there is something I wished to discuss with you," Harry heard Snape say as he exited the kitchen.
Once in the drawing room upstairs, Harry barely had a moment to worry about how this discussion would go when Sirius wrapped him in a huge hug. And it only took another moment for him to give in and relax into the wonderful feeling of knowing his godfather still cared about him.
"Harry, I'm sorry about earlier. I was an arse," his godfather said into his hair.
It didn't seem as though Sirius was going to relinquish his grip any time soon so Harry answered, "No, it's alright."
Sirius only squeezed harder then. "No, it's not alright," he said thickly, before he pulled away abruptly and held Harry by the shoulders. "Your parents would be so proud of you. WE are so proud of you."
Harry could see his godfather's eyes sparkling with what looked like unshed tears and it made his throat sticky and his own eyes water.
He tried to speak but wasn't sure what to say and found he could only take in a breath of air instead.
"I had no right to push you like that. And I was only so angry because…" Sirius closed his eyes as if in pain and took a deep breath. "Because no one should ever hurt you like that and I should have been there to stop it," he continued as he opened his eyes.
Harry was overwhelmed by the raw emotion his godfather was displaying and he tried not to fidget too much as he stood awkwardly in Sirius' grip. "It's not a big deal," he attempted to say, reverting to the easy route of denial.
Fury flashed across Sirius' face, but Harry's attention was drawn to Remus as he spoke up.
"Harry, please don't do that." His old professor had a despondency about him that Harry hated knowing he was the cause of. "We're not here to make you tell us anymore, but we know it was horrible," Remus went on. "We just want you to know we're here for you and we're not angry with you. We're angry at the people who were supposed to take care of you."
"I know," Harry answered quietly. "Just promise me you won't do anything to the Dursleys," he added quickly, turning to look at Sirius.
Sirius stared him straight in the eye for so long that Harry had to look away for fear his godfather was trying to do Legilimency, even though he knew that couldn't be the case.
"Please," he added, not wanting to beg, but needing to make sure Sirius wouldn't get himself killed over this.
"I promise I won't do anything foolish," his godfather finally said.
It wasn't quite the answer Harry was looking for, but he knew he wouldn't get anything better.
He was suddenly pulled into another hug by his godfather and he let his eyes fall closed.
"You're an amazing kid, you know that?" Sirius said.
Harry didn't really agree, but didn't know how to answer so he just hugged Sirius back.
Okaaaayyy I don't have any good excuses. I'm terrible. -Mara