Emerald and Onyx
Chapter one: Just a dream?
"Everything packed?" Albus asked cheerfully as Severus entered his office.
Severus glared at the headmaster, but Albus just chuckled.
"How can you laugh? How can you do this to me? How can you do this to the boy? I'm still convinced that it is a big mistake to send Harry back to his relatives, even if it's just for two weeks." Severus growled.
Now Albus got serious again. "We have it all settled with the Dursleys. They will leave him in peace."
"You still don't understand, do you? For Harry it's horror enough just to stay with them. Even one day back there will bring all bad memories back. I'm sure we still don't know everything about what really happened within those four walls."
Albus cast Severus a sad look, "What shall I do? We don't have any evidence that Harry's uncle did harm the boy. We just know about Vernon Dursley's sister. Or do you know more?"
Severus shook his head. "No. Maybe he didn't harm the boy physically – which I highly doubt – what about emotional harm?"
"They will not harm the boy. That is the deal." Albus repeated.
Severus hissed unbelievingly "And you really believe they will keep their word, after all that has happened? They neglected the boy for years. Do you really think the Dursleys will suddenly welcome Harry with open arms?"
"I think we should give them a second chance," Albus said.
"What said Minerva to your plan?" Severus asked.
Albus sighed and stroke through his beard. "She thinks like you. She would rather take the boy in herself as to send him back."
Now Severus looked triumphant, but as soon as Albus continued his face fell again.
"Still. The blood wards are very powerful and in my opinion we should try everything before we give it up. It's Lily's protection."
"You put all your eggs in one basket. Let's hope it won't smash," Severus grumbled.
He knew it was fruitless to discuss this any longer. There was something the headmaster will never understand: Some people are not good and are unwilling to change themselves. Someone may think after Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore should be aware of such people, but obviously Albus still don't what to accept the existence of bad people.
"Mrs. Figg is looking forward to your visit. She has already prepared a nice room for you," Albus informed Severus.
Severus grimaced at the idea to spend two whole weeks at Arabella Figg's home. Her house always smelled of cabbage. But he did it for Harry. So the boy didn't have go through hell alone.
Harry was sitting in 'his' room, which he got out of the pure generosity of his relatives. It was Dudley's second bedroom, which was more a storeroom for broken toys. But these toys were packed away because Dudley couldn't stand the idea that Harry might lay a finger on one of his discarded things.
So the room looked very empty. But at least Harry had a bed and the covers were without holes. He even got a table and a folding chair. So this was real luxury from the view point of the Dursleys.
Harry sighed and looked out of the window. He was waiting for Snape. The professor promised to come to dinner and make sure everything was okay. Harry missed the magical world already although he had been here just three hours.
Harry helped to set the table as the door bell rang. Vernon's and Petunia's face grew darker, while Dudley's face got a little white. Harry wanted to answer the door, but Vernon's hand came down on his shoulder and he growled. "You continue setting the table. I will open the door!"
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," Harry answered automatically.
Professor Snape wore simple black trousers and a black shirt. Nothing gave away that he was a wizard. Harry wondered where the professor hid the wand. But despite the missing cloak Snape still looked very impressive and powerful to Harry.
As Snape entered the kitchen and looked around, Dudley quickly sat in the nearest chair.
"Mr. Potter," Snape greeted, and Harry answered "Hello, Professor!"
Harry was irritated. His professor had on his 'inaccessible' mask. Harry knew it was all show but he wished the professor would take him into a hug to prove to the Dursleys that he felt Harry was more than just an annoying freak.
Without a word, everybody took their seats. Vernon was the first to help himself with food, ignoring any pretense of courtesy to serve his guest first. Severus sneered at Vernon in disgust. But what could he expect? He knew he wasn't welcome.
Harry was the last one, taking only a few vegetables and a small piece of meat. It was far too little for a boy his age. Harry would like to eat more as he was very hungry but he knew he wasn't allowed to.
"Mr. Potter is that all you plan to eat?" Professor Snape suddenly spoke up and Harry jerked at the unexpected loud voice.
"I'm not very hungry, Sir. I ate a little on the train ride," Harry answered politely, well aware of his relatives' glares. He longed to tell the professor the truth, but he was too frightened of what would happen to him once Snape left.
But he couldn't fool the professor. Severus drew his eyebrows together, and then he glared at Dudley's and Vernon's plate and then back to Harry's. Without another word he took Dudley's and Harry's plates and exchanged them. "You don't want to insult your aunt's cooking ability, do you?"
Harry gulped and cast a sidelong glance at his aunt. Petunia just looked at her own plate, her lips pressed together in a very thin line. Dudley looked at his new plate with a horrified expression, but one glare from Snape checked any protest he might have made.
"No, Sir!" Harry finally answered.
Nothing else was spoken till the dinner was over.
Harry took his plate to the sink and was ready to start the washing up as Professor Snape said, "Mr. Potter, I'm sure your cousin can take over, we have a lot to discuss. Where's your room?"
A dead silence followed these words. Harry froze, aware of the explosion that he was sure would follow. But it was Dudley who spoke up first.
"M… m… me?" he stuttered.
Petunia stood up and hugged her son protectively. "Of course not, Duddykins," she contradicted.
"Why not? I'm sure your son has watched Mr. Potter often enough, to know what to do," Severus said again and glared daggers at Petunia and Dudley. "Or shall I find something else for the boy to do?"
Dudley quailed back, but by now Vernon Dursley was on his feet. "How dare you?" he demanded, red faced. "First you invite yourself without asking us and then you dare to tell us who should do the washing up?"
It was hard to tell who looked more murderous, Vernon or Snape. After a short duel of glares, Snape bent forward and hissed in a low voice: "I'm warning you, Dursley. One more word, and the dishes will be your last problem."
Once more Vernon and Snape tried to kill each other through looks, but finally Vernon gave in and said, "Dudley, go and do the washing!"
"But, Dad!" Dudley protested.
Harry didn't get more of the quarrel between Vernon and Dudley, as Professor Snape took his shoulder and maneuvered him out of the kitchen and to the stairs.
"Your room is upstairs?" Severus asked.
Harry just nodded, and the two started to climb the stairs.
"Do we have to do this?" Harry whispered out of the corner of his mouth.
"What?" Severus asked, puzzled.
Harry stopped and searched Professor Snape's eyes. "Can't you call me Harry again?"
Severus also looked Harry up and down. He noticed the irritated look in the green pools. Uncertain what to say he signaled the boy to go on.
Harry sighed and hung his head. Slowly he went up the rest of the stairs and into his new room. As soon as the door was closed, Severus explained: "Nobody should know about our relationship."
Harry just nodded in understanding, and then he looked away.
"Well. I guess that this is all we could expect," Severus sneered at the nearly empty room. Harry shrugged at these words but didn't answer.
"Tomorrow I expect you to bring your books to Mrs Figg's house. It's better to start on your homework early so you can enjoy the rest of your summer break."
Harry snorted. "Enjoy?" he asked unbelievingly.
Severus cast Harry a sympathetic look. "I know it's not what we expected. I can assure you living with Arabella Figg isn't fun either. But at least it's just for two weeks."
Harry dropped his shoulders and sank down on his bed. The bedsprings protested loudly. After a short hesitation Severus sat down next to the boy. Harry looked at his outstretched legs and wiggled his toes.
Nobody said anything for a while, but finally Harry broke the silence. "It all feels like a dream. A long and nice dream, and now I woke up again and this back-breaking feeling is back and their looks… they can't just look at me as they do look at everybody else, and even if they don't look at me, I still feel their contempt, their… hate. I feel unworthy again and it took me less than two minutes."
Severus didn't know how to respond. He hadn't wanted to make his opposition to Albus' plan known to Harry, but it was getting harder and harder to keep silent. Harry's words didn't help either. He could imagine how horrible it had to be for the boy, but he couldn't change anything. He didn't know why this blood protection should be that important for Albus.
Suddenly he felt two small hands wrapping themselves around him. "Harry!"
"Please don't go. If you go the dream will end completely. Then all will vanish, Hogwarts, my friends and… and you."
"That will not happen!" Severus replied.
"It will. I know it!" Harry said without releasing the professor.
A little aimlessly Severus stroked Harry's hair, but then he asked: "Harry. You still have the pendant I gave you, don't you?"
The pendant? Harry looked up. He nearly forgot about the emerald at his chest. Now he felt for it and then closed his hand around it.
Severus nodded. "With that we are connected. Whenever you need comfort or bravery you just need to hold the stone."
"But won't you think I'm in mortal danger?" Harry asked, confused.
"No. It feels different to me," Severus explained.
Harry sighed again. "Can't you just sleep here?" he asked sheepishly.
"I don't think the Dursleys put a strong emphasis on hospitableness."
"They don't have to know. We are wizards, aren't we?" Harry asked hopefully.
Severus gave Harry a weary smile before he brought the boy back to earth. "Even wizards have to follow the law. We are not allowed to take advantage by using magic in front of Muggles without an emergency."
Crestfallen, Harry hung his head, again studying his toes.
"Tomorrow. Nine o'clock. At Mrs. Figg's house. I expect you to be punctual." With these words, Severus stood up.
Appalled, Harry looked up again. He didn't want Professor Snape to leave him, but he had no idea what would hold the professor back.
"Behave yourself!" the professor said before he left the boy's room.
"Good morning, child. Come in, my dear." Mrs. Figg greeted Harry warmly.
Harry answered politely, but as he stepped into the house he wrinkled his nose at the smell.
"Hi Mr. Tibbles!" Harry greeted the cat and stroked his velvet fur. Of all Mrs. Figg's cats, Mr. Tibbles was the most likable one. He often looked as if he understood every word.
Harry looked up to meet Professor Snape's eyes. "Good morning, Sir!"
"I assume you have your books with you?"
"Yeeees," Harry answered, nearly rolling his eyes. In his opinion this question was absolutely needless, as was this professor-behavior. They weren't in Hogwarts and no Dursley was in sight. So why to keep up this masquerading?
"Mind your tone, young man! Even outside of Hogwarts I'm still your professor and therefore to be treated with respect."
"Yes, Sir!" Harry sighed and his shoulders drooped. Of course Snape was his professor. How could he have imaged that it would be more?
Severus could read the boy like a book. He knew Harry didn't want this formality, but Severus was careful. He didn't want anybody to know how close he was to the boy and that included Mrs. Figg and also an all too curious cat named Mr. Tibbles, who watched everything with uncanny intelligence.
"You can put your schoolbooks down over there and then follow me into the living room," Severus instructed.
Harry did as he was told, still smarting from the fact that Snape was back in his inapproachable mode. Harry didn't know why he felt so disappointed. He was used to Snape's act, but somehow Harry had hoped Snape open up more this summer.
As he stepped into the living room Harry wondered why there was a fire in the fireplace. It was summer and warm enough.
"Come here!" Snape said and hold out a pot with powder inside. Harry looked at the pot and then back at Snape.
"What is it?" he asked puzzled.
Harry now looked into the pot, still not understanding what his professor wanted him to do.
"What does it do?"
Severus raised his eyebrows. "You don't know Floo powder?"
Harry hung his head, feeling like a fool.
"Well, it doesn't matter. We can go together," Severus said in an attempt to cheer the boy up again.
"Go? Where are we going?" Harry's head shot up immediately.
"Diagon Alley. I need to do some errands and I thought you might want to accompany me."
"Yes, Sir. Of course!" the boy said eagerly. It would be great to see all the wizards and feel the magic, Harry thought, but then his eyes grew larger as Professor Snape threw some Floo powder into the fire. The flames turned from orange to green and then the Professor stepped directly into the flames, beckoning Harry over.
Harry stared at Snape. "Isn't that… hot?" he asked unconsciously taking a step back.
"No, not a bit. Travelling through the floo is a common way for wizards. All you have to do is hold onto me, close your mouth and to prevent any nausea close your eyes."
"No!" Harry said, panicking and taking more steps backward.
Frowning, Severus asked "What's wrong?"
"I will wake up," Harry whispered, not daring to speak up loud.
Worried Severus stepped out of the fireplace, the flames turned orange again. When Severus tried to approach the boy, Harry took more steps back. "I'm sorry," Harry said desperately.
"Shhhh!" Severus said "I'm not angry at you."
Uncertain, Harry looked up. But Severus turned to the sofa and shooed an angry and hissing Mr. Tibbles out of the room. Then he turned at Harry again, "Let's sit down first, okay?"
Harry gulped. Nervously he looked from Snape to the fireplace and then back to Snape. Then after some hesitation he sat down next to the professor.
"Did something happen last night after I left?" he asked and Harry immediately noticed the change in Severus' voice.
Harry shook his head.
"So you just went to bed and woke up this morning?" Severus asked.
This time Harry nodded.
"Then why do you think, you would be dreaming?"
With sad eyes Harry looked up "I don't know."
"I thought a trip to Diagon Alley would be a good idea, but we can stay here instead, if you wish."
"No. I do want to go to Diagon Alley!"
"Well, then… do you trust me?" Severus asked.
"I do, but… the fire… it's so strange… I just panicked," Harry stumbled.
"Do you trust me?" Severus repeated himself.
"Good. The fire will not burn you. Traveling by floo is one of the easiest ways wizards travel. You can compare the floo network with a railway network. The fireplaces are like stations."
Harry tried to assimilate this new information. He was happy that Snape had finally opened up a bit.
"But how can I travel with floo powder?" Harry asked.
"As I said before we will go together, so you don't have to do anything but hold onto me."
"Yes, but how does it work?" Harry was really curious now.
Severus nearly smiled. Patiently he explained "You take some of the powder and throw it into the flames, and then you step inside the fireplace and say where you want to go loudly and clearly. If you mumble it may happen that you get out at the wrong fireplace. When you reach your destination you just step out of the fireplace. That's all."
"And I can go wherever I wish?"
"Not exactly; not all fireplaces are connected with the floo network."
"Like a railway network," Harry repeated and Severus nodded.
"Okay. Can we give it a try?" Severus asked.
"Well… I… erm… Do we… It would be nice if…" Harry sighed. He didn't know how to put his wish into words. He liked Professor Snape much more when he opened up and it would be really nice if Snape could stay that way.
Harry looked down and frowned. Severus studied the boy. He didn't know how he knew, but he knew exactly what Harry wanted to ask him. Luckily Severus had already a plan in mind. He had wanted to explain that part in the Leaky Cauldron but he could also tell Harry now.
"I have a nephew twice removed. He is younger than you are now. I haven't seen him for a long while. I lost contact with my cousin after she went to America. But now that she's ill, maybe my nephew will want to visit me."
Befuddled, Harry looked at his professor. Why was he telling him this?
"What's the name of your nephew?"
"Daniel. But he prefers the nickname Dan."
"I can imagine," Harry said, but he wondered again why Snape mentioned this. Was Dan coming over? "Is you cousin very ill?"
Severus corners of the mouth twitched slightly upwards. "I don't know. Tell me."
Confused Harry starred at his professor. How was he supposed to know?
"I don't understand," Harry admitted.
In a shocked manner Severus crossed his arms, "You are an ungrateful son not to know how your mother is feeling. You should know!"
Harry's mouth hung open for a moment. Slowly his brain was catching up and then it hit him. "You want me to be Dan?"
"That way I'm your uncle. It's our camouflage whenever we go to public places of wizards, okay?" Severus asked and Harry smiled happily. Once again Severus had a hard time not to smile along.
At the toilet of the Leaky Cauldron Harry looked at the mirror and the reflection of Daniel's face. His face was framed by red brown locks and his eyes were blue as the sky. His nose and cheeks are covered with some freckles. But what Harry liked best was that Dan had no scar on his forehead.
Fascinated and awestruck, he touched at his forehead to feel the even skin. The refection of Dan started to grin widely. He really looked younger.
"Are you ready?" Severus asked a little impatiently.
"Yes, Sir!" Harry said, but then he corrected himself, "Yes, uncle!"
"Good. Then let us speak about the rules. As soon as we enter Diagon Alley you will take my hand and not let go under any circumstances. If you need to use the loo, just tell me. If you want to go into one of the shops, just tell me. We can go wherever you wish but you will never leave my sight. Am I clear?"
Harry gulped. Obviously this was very important, but Harry didn't like the idea of holding hands all the time.
"But won't it look strange, when I hold your hand? I mean I'm eleven, nearly twelve."
"No, Dan. You are seven, nearly eight. I told you, you are younger than Harry," Severus reminded with an amused twinkle in his eyes.
Harry had forgotten this little piece of information. He couldn't believe he had agreed to it! He was going to be seven again? But… "You forgot to shrink me!" Harry said.
At this the twinkle of amusement vanished again. "You are small enough to me."
Harry hung his head. What did that mean? Was he too small for an eleven year old?
"It's not your fault. And in time you will grow as you should," Severus assured.
Still Severus' comment hurt. Sulking, Harry followed Severus out of the toilet and into the room which gave way to Diagon Alley. It was very crowded today and Harry's small hand automatically shoved itself into Severus' hand.
Harry was afraid to lose his professor in this crowd and so he was all too happy to be able to cling to Severus without looking strange.
Severus took a better hold at Dan's hand and then went forward with the boy's small hand securely in his grasp.