I'm just on fire or something :) So here's the latest for LHG. Nothing really about the deal with Sirius, but rather a couple of episodes on some Harry/Snape bonding, which I think is in order :)
I hope you're all still out there; I'm alive, promise!
Already started chapter 19, so fingers crossed my darlings.
Please enjoy, please review, and please have a very Merry Christmas (or just end-of-year if you don't celebrate Christmas)!
Sun was seeping between the lush branches of the apple tree, shifting slightly every time the breeze caught hold of the thick leaves. Harry sat on one particularly lush and sturdy branch, swinging his legs back and forth as he stared pensively towards the large lake. He had, for several days, considered asking Snape if he might perhaps possibly let him go down there for a swim. The water looked so dark and calm, and the trees along its shores were deep green, their branches dipping into the water, creating the smallest of ripples when birds flapped amongst their nests.
It was Saturday, and Snape had allowed himself to be convinced that going outside would be good for Harry. He hadn't even, to the boy's infinite surprise, insisted to find someone to look after him. He'd simply given him a, to Harry, disproportionally stern talking to and extracted a promise that Harry would adhere to the curfew of four 'clock, sharp. Not owning a watch had not appeared to be a problem to Harry until he was outside, at which point he simply could not find it in him to walk back to the quarters and ask for one. He just hoped that Snape would not realise this and reprimand him for it. He would tell me off for something like that, he sighed to himself. Having been outside for a while, he decided to stay safe, and so slid off the branch, clung onto it with his hands and, when he'd steadied himself, dropped onto the soft grass. The patch just under the branch was slightly uneven, causing Harry to twist his ankle and topple over. Swearing loudly, he clutched his ankle, still lying on the ground, pinching his eyes shut. Ow, ow, ow. If Snape found out he would most definitely scold him for his carelessness. Why would you scold someone who hurt themselves anyway? Harry thought, affronted, despite the fact that the scenario was only an imagined one, and he did not, in fact, have any justified idea of how Snape would react.
After having been wallowing in self-pity for a good five minutes, Harry decided his ankle was all right enough for him to make his way back to the dungeons. The thought of the dark, dingy corridors made him cringe and shiver, despite the warm sunlight in which he was currently lying. Pushing himself up from the ground, he tried his foot. Standing is all right. Taking a few tentative steps, he found that flexing his foot hurt the most. Consequently, he walked with half a limp, in order to avoid flexing as far as possible. He hoped he didn't look too ridiculous, and that it would dissipate before he ran into his guardian.
Making his way into the castle, he felt the hairs on his arms rise as soon as he was out of the sunlight. Should've brought a jumper, he thought limp-skipping along the corridors and down the stairs towards the dungeons. They really should heat the castle up. And get clocks, he added to himself, as he still did not know what the time was. In a matter of minutes he reached the door to Snape's quarters and pulled the door open. Severus was sitting at his desk, his head bowed over some paperwork, a quill scratching furiously away. Glancing at the clock, Harry breathed a quiet sigh of relief. 3.21. Plenty of time.
"So you managed to arrive on time even without a watch," his guardian commented, still not looking up, as per usual. Harry closed the door behind him.
"Yes," he answered, trying to walk with a straight back and normal pace.
"What have you done?" Severus suddenly enquired sharply, stopping his writing and looking at his charge with a furrowed brow. Harry winced.
"Don't lie to me, young man," Snape immediately admonished, placing the quill on his desk, rising, and striding over to the boy. "Sit down," he ordered, pointing at the couch. Sighing, Harry turned and walked over to the couch, not even bothering to pretend he was all right anymore. As soon as he had sat down, Snape was at his side, crouching down and lifting Harry's foot; the boy winced. "What on Earth have you done?" Harry shrugged.
"I just jumped out of the tree," he replied. "It's all right, it's just a bit sore." Snape shook his head and with a lazy flick of his fingers, a small vial came soaring through the air, landing neatly in his outstretched hand. Uncorking the flask, he handed it to the boy.
"Drink this," he ordered. Harry wrinkled his nose slightly at the thick brownish liquid; he pinched his nose with one hand and brought the flask to his mouth with the other. In a quick sip he downed the whole thing, coughing and spitting afterwards.
"Why are children always so reluctant to get well?" Snape asked the air in general, taking the flask back as he stood. "Now lie back, and put that foot on a cushion. It should be all right in half an hour or so."
"Can't I go to my room?" Harry asked hopefully.
"No. I want to keep an eye on you." With that said, Snape turned back towards his desk and resumed his writing. Harry sighed deeply, letting his head fall back onto the backrest. It was going to be a long half hour.
"Normally I wouldn't ask, but it really would be… quite helpful," Severus said delicately as he faced the Deputy Headmistress. McGonagall peered at him over the top of her glasses, her lips pursed, as was her custom.
"And normally I would say yes, but today I'm afraid I have prior commitments. I'm really only here to fetch some papers, and then I will be on my way home again." Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why don't you just bring him along?" He gave the older woman a most disdained look.
"Bring him along? Minerva, he is an eight-year-old boy that appears to be incapable of keeping out of trouble for more than five minutes at a time. I am absolutely not bringing him to my home." McGonagall could not resist rolling her eyes at this comment.
"For heaven's sake Severus, you are aiming to adopt the boy; of course you will need to bring him home at some point. Or are you planning on living in the castle permanently?" The reasoning look she was giving him drove him to the brink of anger, but he managed to control himself.
"I am not wont to bring a child into that house before I have… proofed it, Minerva, as I am sure you will understand."
"If all you need to do is pick up some potions ingredients then I am certain that Harry could wait in the hall, no?" Shaking his head, Severus turned to leave. "Oh and Severus?" Stopping, he turned his head in her direction. "Do have an enjoyable summer." He nodded curtly, and swept out of her office.
He had hoped that McGonagall would have been able to keep an eye on Harry for a couple of hours, allowing him to go home and go through his stocks carefully, with no disturbance or nuisance hindering his work. However, with the Headmaster gone Merlin knew where he was faced with a dilemma. Either, he could find an elf to look after Harry, or he could bring him along. Neither option seemed safe and sound to him, thank you very much. Shaking his head to himself, he turned down towards the dungeons and was soon back in the quarters.
The boy in question was sitting on the couch, paging through an illustrated book on the basic theories of magic. Much to Severus' chagrin, Dumbledore had provided a number of children's books on magic that Harry could read. In Snape's opinion, if one was not capable of reading a proper book, one was best off not reading at all. Pictures only made one lazy, and took away from the true skill and enjoyment of reading a good book. Nevertheless he had accepted the books on behalf of the boy, and was reluctant to admit that they seemed to have been helpful in Harry's lessons.
He looked up when Snape entered, and put the book aside.
"Where's McGonagall?" he asked, trying very hard to hide his excitement.
"That's Professor McGonagall to you," Snape chided rather than answering the question.
"Yes sir. So?" Snape did not reply for a moment, but walked over to his desk and shuffled some papers around, more for something to do than actual necessity.
"Professor McGonagall is busy. You will come with me." Harry punched the air and grinned at Severus. "Wipe that look off your face."
"All right," he said, still beaming. "This'll be wicked!" Snape narrowed his eyes and swept over to the couch, standing in front of the boy with his arms crossed across his chest. Harry leaned back, chewing his lip, looking up at his guardian with wide eyes.
"Some rules for this trip." The boy did his best not to huff. Severus raised an eyebrow in response, but did not comment. "When we arrive at the house you will wait in the hall and not go into any other rooms. You will not touch anything. You will not even think about touching anything. Am I making myself absolutely clear?" Harry thought he was overreacting a bit; they were only going to his house, but he nodded nevertheless.
"Yes sir." Snape gazed down at him for a moment longer before turning away.
"Go fetch a jacket; we're leaving now."
"A jacket? But it's warm outs—"
"Just do as you're told," Severus interrupted, heading for his own bedroom. Harry sighed and slid of the couch, padding through the hall and into his room. He picked up his thin denim jacket and then headed back for the living room. Snape was standing by the fireplace already, and raised an eyebrow at the boy's jacket.
"What?" Harry questioned in defence.
"Mind your tone," was his guardian's only response before he threw the powder into the fireplace and, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder, stepped into the flames.
After being pulled, whirled, spun (Harry wasn't sure) from Hogwarts to Severus' childhood home, the two stepped into a dark parlour, in which every surface was covered in dust. Severus kept his hand on Harry's shoulder until he had steadied himself.
"Now do not move an inch," he warned, jabbing his finger towards Harry's face.
"How long will you be?"
"Fifteen minutes or so. I need to check what I have; we will likely have to go on to Diagon Alley and buy what I haven't got." The boy's eyes once again widened with excitement, and so the older wizard took hold of his arms and looked him straight in the eyes. "Do not move. Do not touch anything. Understood?" Harry, looking slightly forlorn, nodded.
"Yes I know." Snape nodded curtly before striding out of the room and soon ascending a creaking staircase. Harry sighed to himself, looking around in the room. There were two neat sofas surrounding the fireplace; behind the one on the left was a large bookcase filled with old, leather-bound tomes. There was clearly a window on the left wall, as thick drapes were hanging across, creating the dark, dingy atmosphere. Straight ahead was a large portrait of an old woman, under which stood a small coffee table with an empty vase and a frame lying down. To the right was the arch through which Snape had exited and another bookcase, which had what looked like curtains attached to it. The room was rather empty, but would probably have been really nice if it were lit up and dusted off and used. That was probably the key: it didn't look as though Snape had been in his house for a long time. Does he come here for Christmas? Harry wondered. It must have been at least that long since someone had set foot in the house. It seemed odd to Harry that one would not return home when one had the opportunity. Living in an old, cold castle with a few hundred teenagers couldn't be great for anyone.
He was absent-mindedly tracing patterns in the dust on the dark, wooden floor, trying not to get dizzy by the thick air. He glanced up at the thick drapes, blowing a strand of hair out of his eyes. Perhaps the window could be opened… But he wasn't supposed to move or touch anything. But Snape had only been gone for about five minutes; he was absolutely sure that he could not possibly handle another ten minutes in the room. He had two choices, as he saw it: either try to open the window, or leave the room and hope that the air was better somewhere else. Or he could go and find Snape he supposed, but somehow that seemed like the least reasonable option.
Harry took a tentative step forwards. The floorboards did not, unexpectedly, creak. He held his breath for a moment, but Snape did not seem to know that he had moved; the house remained silent. That was another thing that bothered him. It was so quiet. Nothing could be heard from outside, and he couldn't even hear a clock in a neighbouring room. He took another step. Still no reaction. Breathing out a gust of air, he walked over to the drapes. They were dark and heavy, pooling on the floor, as though they were made for a window five times as large as the one they were currently covering. Harry shook his head, wondering why his guardian was such an alternative character, and grabbed hold of the drapes. Heavy they were indeed, and it took all the power Harry possessed in his little arms to pull them aside. Sunlight streamed into the room, blinding the boy. As soon as the light filled the room, he heard an inhuman scream from behind him, and he immediately covered his ears. It seemed to make no difference; it was as though the scream was inside his head. He turned around. Several of the books in the bookcase by the door were shaking furiously; some of them fell to the floor and opened up. Grotesque paintings on their pages had their mouths agape, emitting the dreadful sound. Harry had no idea how to stop the noise, and so he simply stood by the window, holding his ears and clenching his eyes shut, hoping it would stop soon. And miraculously, it did. Slowly, he opened his eyes and let go of his ears. By the bookcase stood a very irate Professor Snape.