Disclaimer: We have no claim on Harry Potter nor any characters or locations thereof. We gain only amusement from writing this.
Warning: Destined mates, creature fic, angst from the puppies. After the last book only EWE and Sirius and Remus very much alive. Discussion on Snape's creature blood, shape-shifting. Remus and Sirius angst, Hermione friendship and mention/implication of Romione though there's no kissing or other stuff. Possible OOC but not too sure since a free and miserable Sirius probably acts differently than a confined and miserable Sirius. Dumbledore alive and kicking.
AN: Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback on the first chapter, it means so much to us. Here's the next installment.
Twinkling blue eyes moved between the two men sitting on the other side of the large desk. "Well I guess we can all agree that this was a bit of a surprise can we not?" Albus couldn't help but think that Severus and Harry were quite well matched for each other.
Harry looked at Dumbledore and wondered what he was doing there. What could the Headmaster really do about what had happened anyway? He was acutely aware of the fact that Snape was seated next to him, making him want to reach out and touch.
Snape could feel his creature stirring restlessly within him, reaching towards Harry but he was in enough control and in his human mind enough to keep another empathic link from forming. He gave Albus a narrow eyed glare, "Is there some purpose to us being called here by you Albus or will this be a waste of time as most conversations in this office have been?"
"There, there Severus, there is no need to get testy." Dumbledore seemed completely unaffected by Snape's sharp tone. "I called you here since something rather remarkable happened yesterday. It is a gift when two mates recognize each other, something to be celebrated. I thought that maybe you would have some questions or that you would like to talk, this is a good private place for such conversations."
Fawkes was eyeing Snape curiously from his perch.
A dark brow rose slowly, "Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't privacy mean that only those directly affected should be witness to the conversation?" An amused trill came from Fawkes that made Snape's inner phoenix lift its head in recognition of brethren and the black eyes flashed blue briefly. Then before anyone could say anything more the fire phoenix flew off his perch, hovered in the air and burst into eye-searing bright flame.
When the fire died down, in the bird's place stood a slender, acrobatically toned young man with laughing molten orange eyes and flaming red hair that stuck up like ruffled feathers all over his head. He wore only a feathered loin cloth that covered the essentials and had a grin on his face. "Lightning kin, so quick with a sharp retort and a quick temper."
Snape's own eyes flashed blue again, "Fire kin, so impulsive and reckless."
A warm laugh came from the redhead, "Who here would give away the secret? Certainly not my old friend," he angled his head at Albus, "nor your mate. You certainly wouldn't, after all you've kept it secret for thirty eight years now."
Harry was gaping, he knew he was but there wasn't anything he could do about it. It was not every day a bird turned into a beautiful, half naked man in front of your eyes. His only comfort was that Dumbledore looked just as shocked as he did.
"Well, well Fawkes, it seems there's even more to you then I knew. You are full of surprises old friend." Albus tilted his head and regarded the man. He had always known Fawkes was special but not just how special as it turned out.
"Are...Are you like him?" Harry dared to ask Snape as his eyes darted between Fawkes and the potions master.
Severus shook his head, stifling his usual sharp retort. "No, Fawkes is full blooded phoenix."
Fawkes hopped up to sit on the corner of Albus' desk. "Severus is a quarter so no feathers for him, though he certainly did get the beak," Fawkes gestured at his own rather prominent proboscis, "His is only crooked because it's been broken more than a few times." He looked back at Albus, "Of course there's more to me than you know. I'm a good five centuries older than you young man."
Albus beamed and Harry had to smile at the old wizard being called a young man. He turned his attention back to Snape; he couldn't fight the urge to want to know more about the other, the urge to simply be close to him. "But you are a Phoenix? Have you always known?" Harry wanted to ask more, he wanted to talk about the two of them and what would happen next but Severus Snape wasn't exactly inviting to heart to heart conversations.
Snape struggled between his secretive, prideful nature and his phoenix nature to share all with his mate, a muscle ticking in his jaw as he considered how to answer. "No. I did not always know."
Fawkes gave a trill of annoyance, "Don't mind him Harry. Years of being a spy have left their, not exactly communicative mark upon him. The gigantic, towering pride he comes by naturally however from both his human and phoenix side." He shrugged at the flashing blue glare he received from Severus, "He's your destined mate fledgling, if your pride will not let you answer his questions then I will do so. There's already one destined pair in this castle hurting each other and I'm not keen on Lady Hogwarts weeping over a second, makes my feathers itch."
"He doesn't have to tell me anything he doesn't want to." Harry said softly. If he was to learn anything he wanted to hear it from Snape, he wanted Snape to tell him of his own free will. The urge to run was there again and Harry wanted to give in to it.
Albus sighed and looked at the two stubborn young men. Oh to be so young and full of emotions. He couldn't say he really missed it, the emotional turmoil that came with love. Then again who wouldn't miss love? It was the greatest gift you could receive. Albus hoped these two wouldn't squander their chance at it. Severus and Harry were the closest thing Albus would have to children of his own and he didn't want either of them hurting.
Fawkes sighed and lifted his eyes to the heavens, "Fledglings." When he looked back at them his gaze was sober and piercing. "I won't interfere then but I will ask you both this and answer only to yourselves." He looked at Severus, "Are old grievances truly worth clutching to you when you could have love and shining future before you should you simply reach for it?" His gaze went to Harry now, "And do you do yourself any good running away on an assumption before knowing the entire story? Obviously you won't be falling in love with each other or into bed with each other immediately, you've too much history to overcome first but isn't it worth the effort?" Now the mischievous gleam returned to the glowing orange eyes. "Now, to promote further understanding I do believe you do need true privacy so," his hands came together in a sharp clap and had Harry and Snape disappearing from the room.
Harry staggered to keep his balance as he and Snape ended up in a small room together. Harry could only assume they were still at Hogwarts but he didn't recognize the chambers they were in. He looked over at Snape who looked much more composed than Harry felt, to Harry's slight annoyance. "Do you know where we are?"
The older man dusted off a sleeve. "We're in the west tower, at the top of it." He studied the youth and felt his phoenix struggle within him once more. He found a simple ladder back chair and sat in it, restraining a sigh. He was not a complete fool as Fawkes seemed to believe he was, he knew well that the chance to have his mate was priceless. The problem was he didn't like having others push and prod him in any direction. After the understanding gained from last night's foray into Harry's mind, he was willing to attempt to learn and perhaps grow to care for the younger man but he would much rather do it on his own bloody terms.
"Oh." Harry said simply and looked around the dusty room, it didn't look as if anyone had been in it for years. Harry trailed a finger over a dusty shelf and then wiped the dirty finger on his trousers. "I didn't think there were any corners of this castle I hadn't explored yet...Shows what I know." He gave Snape a smile that was a mix between shy and sheepish. He didn't know how to act, didn't know how Snape wanted him to act. Harry knew he cared for the other, he had cared for some time now, since he learnt the truth but it was so difficult. Harry was awkward during normal circumstances and this, this was not normal.
"The castle adds and removes rooms at her whim. It's impossible to explore every corner as it's always changing." A dark brow lifted at the shy smile and oddly enough it made him relax. Uncomfortable though Harry was, there was no tinge of pity in the room. "I would imagine you wish to know about my creature blood, more than what the feather duster in Albus' office gave away that is."
"If you don't mind then I would really like to know yes." Harry rubbed the mark on his hand as he sent the other man another small smile, he couldn't help it. The feather duster comment was really fitting for the hairstyle the human Fawkes was sporting. Harry looked around the room again and when he didn't see any usable furniture he sat down on the floor with a soft sigh, pulling his knees towards himself until he could settle in a crosslegged position.
"Would you prefer a lecture or are there specific questions you have?" Without really thinking about it, his phoenix driving the action, Snape pulled his wand and had a floor cushion appearing beneath Harry.
He looked at the soft cushion underneath him and mumbled a thank you under his breath. "Start with the lecture Sir. I'm sure I will interrupt with questions as soon as I think of them." Harry looked at Snape from under his fringe, a small look of mischief playing in his eyes. Harry knew how much Snape hated to be interrupted during his lectures.
A sarcastic brow rose, "Of course you will. As Fawkes said, I am a quarter phoenix. All phoenixes have the ability to take human form enabling the crossbreeding, most offspring result from meaningless flings as it is highly rare for a full blooded phoenix to matebond with another species. It is...difficult for a phoenix to remain in a human form for longer than a few hours making a phoenix/human matebond uncomfortable to say the least."
"Yeah, I can see the problem with that." Harry said and thought about Fawkes both in bird and human form. It didn't matter how much you loved someone, a relationship didn't have a chance of surviving if you couldn't spend time together, talk and touch and just be together. "So does the phoenix blood come from your mother's side? How usual is it to find your mate like this? How does it feel to have the phoenix flowing inside you?" Harry looked up at Snape and tapped his bottom lip with his finger in thought as he waited for the older man to reply.
Snape twitched a bit, "Which would you like me to answer first?" He tugged his sleeves down. "Yes, the creature blood comes from my mother. As for the commonality of discovering one's mate, there is always a Recognition and identification mark the only thing that changes is when the Recognition occurs. If there is an age gap then it occurs when the younger mate has reached their maturity, if there is no age gap then it happens during puberty. It is always activated by a touch." He lifted a long fingered hand and smoothed his oily hair back from his face as he pondered whether to answer Potter's last question and if so, how. His phoenix made a soft trill within his mind, reminding him of the dangers of his pride and that it wanted to be known by its mate, making the decision for his human mind as well. "It is awkward. Until the Recognition I had been restraining my creature nature as it was too dangerous to allow my phoenix free reign near the Dark Lord or the other Death Eaters. Though I know of it and the abilities that come with my phoenix, I am...unused to it being awake."
"Wasn't it difficult, keeping such a part of you repressed? I do understand that it was necessary but to me it sounds like agony. Oh and speaking of abilities, what kind of abilities do you have?" Harry was aware that he was peppering the poor man with questions but there was so much he wanted to know.
There were times, such as now, when Severus was certain Potter was somehow related to a hummingbird with the way the youth's mind jumped around. Before it did nothing but irritate him but the phoenix part of him found it oddly endearing and softened the human's impatience with it, Merlin save him. "As I possess only a quarter of phoenix blood I obviously do not have all the abilities of a pure phoenix but some of the gifts I've retained. Telepathy, a touch of post-cognition, empathy, a higher tolerance for extreme temperatures, my oratory success could come partly from my creature blood as well though I am uncertain of that."
Harry listened carefully and suddenly he wondered what Snape's singing voice was like, he quickly pushed those thoughts away and got back to the issue at hand. "So you really were in my head yesterday then?" Harry had sort of hoped that part was only for him, that maybe Snape had seen his own memories but from what the older man was saying that didn't seem very likely. "I didn't mean for you to see that."
Snape's gaze remained steady and calm, though there was some small part of him that burned and crackled in anger at Petunia Dursley nee Evans for the abuse she'd not only condoned but participated in heaping upon her nephew. "No I don't imagine you ever intended anyone to know." He offered no platitudes, asked no questions, sought no answers for why he'd never sought help in escaping the Dursleys. He knew why, both from the emotions that had been attached to the memories and from his own personal experiences as a child, so there was no need to ask.
Harry licked his lips nervously. "It doesn't have to be an issue right? It's over and done with and I'm still me, this doesn't change anything." Harry really didn't want to dredge up his past, not now when it was finally time to move forward, when he had a future to move forward to. "I'm of age now in both wizarding and muggle world and I'll never have to come close to any of them ever again." Harry fidgeted on the cushion, picking at his nails.
"You are far too forgiving but no one has the right to seek vengeance on them but you unless you request them to. As you say, you are of age and fully capable and legally able to make your own decisions, it would be insulting to assume you could not seek to make them pay if you wished it." Severus had no doubt that Harry could indeed make his aunt, uncle, and cousin pay if he desired to but he could plainly see that the desire was not there and he would not push for it to appear.
"Thank you." Harry bowed his head to Snape as relief flooded him. He squirmed again and raised his eyes to Snape's face. "I know I am not your favorite person in the world so thank you for taking the time to explain this to me as well. We don't have to do anything you don't want to regarding this but I want you to know that I...I don't mind...Don't mind becoming...Closer." And now he was babbling again, oh yes Snape would really find him articulate and intelligent now. Harry mentally groaned.
Snape's inner phoenix released a happy trill and he could swear there were wings flapping in the recesses of his mind. Despite the years of animosity his human mind was intrigued and interested as well. After seeing Harry without the veil of assumption and prejudice he'd always shoved the young man behind, he could admit that the green eyed youth was worth more than his own, less than virtuous self. "I am not a kind or patient man Po-" he shook his head, "Harry. In the same vein I am not an idiot. If you are not adverse to us getting to know each other better, then I am willing to...try."
Harry shot him a brilliant smile. "I look forward to get to know you for who you are Severus, you are not the only one who had lived with assumptions about others. I am not perfect...I am as far from it as you can get but I do want this chance." A small part of the same comfort Harry had felt the night before seemed to course through him and Harry relished in the feeling. "Let's take this slow, get to know one and other and just see where it leads."
"Harry Potter's not perfect, who'd ever have guessed," Snape hadn't been able to help himself, not with Harry leaving that chance at sarcasm so wide open. "I agree about taking this slowly and within class and such other situations I will still treat you as a student and I expect you to treat me with the respect due a professor during those times. Outside of those times however we shall treat each other as two men forming a friendship, to start."
"When have I ever treated you with anything but the respect you deserve?" Harry's smile grew impish, it felt good firing back and he knew Snape could take it. "But I like that, I look forward to being your friend Severus. Look forward to learning more about you." Harry rubbed the mark on his hand again, it seemed as if the warmth and sense of comfort radiated from said mark. It was a very nice feeling but it was still something new. He wondered if Snape's mark made him feel the same.
Snape nodded and got to his feet as his wand made a chime. "Classes will start in an hour and I would imagine you'd like to get some breakfast and debrief your friends. One thing Harry," he met the younger man's eyes steadily, "Do not tell anyone that it is commonplace for phoenixes to assume a human form, not even Miss Granger or Mr. Weasley. It is a secret held closely to phoenix kind and their mates or, rarely, a wizard they choose to become the familiar of. All else, you are free to tell them."
Harry nodded. "I promise I won't tell, it's not my secret to tell anyway." Harry got up from the cushion on the floor and stretched to get the blood flowing again. Harry did know how to keep secrets and despite popular belief he didn't tell Ron and Hermoine everything, no matter how much he trusted them. "I'm going to go find my friends and maybe some lunch, you should eat too, you are way too skinny Severus." Harry grinned and opened the door to the room they were in as he fished out the Marauder's map from his pocket to find his way back to the Great Hall. "I'll see you in class professor Snape."
Snape made a soft scoffing laugh as the youth scampered away. "Brat." It was spoken without heat or anger as he made his way back to the potions classroom to set up the next lesson, ignoring the phoenix's sad trill of farewell. His human side was uncommonly eager to see where this would go and looking forward to match less venomous wits with Harry.
Remus was waking Teddy from his nap, smoothing the normal brown hair away from his forehead. Teddy had to be awake and aware to use the metamorphosing abilities he'd inherited from his mother. He needed to get Teddy dressed and fed and then Minerva had promised to look after him as Remus worked his hours in the library. This wasn't an ideal situation, Hogwarts was a wonderful place but it wasn't a place for a toddler and a single father. Remus needed the work though, offers for employment weren't exactly raining down on a werewolf. Andromeda had offered to have Teddy with her during the weeks but Remus couldn't be away from his son that much. Since Sirius was so angry Teddy was the only family he had now.
He picked up the sleepy boy, placing several smacking kisses on his cheeks and neck, making the child giggle and wake up. "You ready to get dressed and have some food?" Teddy nodded and Remus rummaged through his drawers for some clean clothes. He dressed his son quickly and soon they were on their way to lunch.
Sirius was already in the Great Hall when he felt the odd feel of fur ruffling over his skin that always accompanied Remus entering the room. He'd once spoken to a werewolf's bonded mate and she'd told him that even though he was human and unbound, so long as he wanted to be bound to his mate he would feel when his werewolf was in the room, that it would feel like lying against his mate when his werewolf was transformed. Before, he'd always welcomed and thrilled to the ruffling feel but knowing that Remus didn't want him, and didn't want him so strongly that he'd chosen to marry another and have a cub with her, it made it hurt now. He still wanted Remus, still wanted to be his bonded mate and he knew he'd never stop even though it was obviously unrequited and he was coming to hate it. Was coming to hate that he was still such a lovesick puppy even after such obvious proof he wasn't wanted.
He was glad he'd basically said screw it to always eating at the Head table and had chosen to join Harry, Hermione, and Ron at the Gryffindor table. The questions Ron and Hermione were firing off at Harry and his godson's answers kept him from turning around to look at Remus, from giving in to his lovesick stupidity. He leaned closer, "So Snape's not part vampire?"
"No, no vampire in him, still don't know about fangs though." Harry answered and looked closer at his godfather, the way he suddenly tensed and how shadows crept into his eyes. Something was bothering Sirius and Harry wished he knew what it was so that he could help, or at least try to.
Remus sent a longing gaze towards the Gryffindor table but sat down at the head table and tried to make sure that Teddy got some food in him and not just on him. His soul still called out for Sirius Black and Remus knew that it always would but the two of them would end in disaster. Remus knew that. It was for the best that Sirius never knew they were mates, that way Sirius could find someone he could be happy with. He ignored the fierce stab of jealousy that came with that thought and continued to feed Teddy.
Hermione looked between Sirius and Remus and shook her head. For once she didn't know how she could help, not if they were intent on avoiding even looking at each other. Plus she was feeling a little...over protective of Sirius considering that he was the one who'd been shoved aside by his mate. She propped her chin on her hand and reached absently over to ruffle Sirius' hair like the canine he was at heart as she pondered aloud, "So he's part phoenix. What kind I wonder?"
Sirius looked over at her at the absent affection, recognizing with a sheepish smile that she'd noticed he was feeling a little upset.
"Lightning." Harry said before he could even stop to think about it. "Er...That's what Dumbledore said anyway and his eyes flash electric blue, like the color of this." He waved his marked hand in front of her. His mind was still on his godfather and he hoped that Sirius would tell him what was wrong in time.
Hermione's brows rose. "Hmm, I can't say I'm surprised. The lore on lightening phoenixes-," she poked Ron hard in the arm, "why are you laughing?"
"I'm sorry Mione, I couldn't help it when you take out your lecturing voice like that." Ron grinned and tried to look apologetic but failed miserably.
"Lecturing voice? You are such a prat Ronald." She whacked him round the head with her napkin. "Perhaps I'll keep my 'lecturing voice' to myself when you next need help with homework hm?"
Sirius' lips twitched as the first stirrings of humor he'd felt since Remus had married Dora stirred as he watched the fierce woman berate the redhead.
Harry grinned openly as Ron covered his head with his hands and apologized profusely, singing Hermione's praises loud and clear. "But I love your lecturing voice Mione...In fact sometimes in bed I think about it just before I-" The rest of that sentence was muffled as Hermione shoved a roll into Ron's mouth, effectively shutting him up.
Sirius couldn't help it, he finally laughed a true, bright and clear laugh at the bright red blush Hermione was now sporting even as she hissed at Ron about the importance of privacy. He reached out and gave Hermione a hard hug that had her 'eep'ing. "Thank you. I needed that laugh."
Ron chewed his roll while sporting a bright blush and Harry smiled into his goblet, it was great hearing Sirius' barking laugh again, he didn't know how much he had missed it until now.
Remus stiffened too at hearing the familiar laugh. He missed everything about Sirius Black but his laugh was probably among the things he missed most. He made sure Teddy had finished and then he hurried out of the Great Hall, staying would hurt too much.
Hermione pat Sirius on the arm, watching Remus flee. "You're welcome?" She was released by the last living Black and she noticed the almost inaudible whimper he made as Remus exited the hall before he stiffened his spine and looked over at her with a teasing grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. "So Miss Granger, do continue with what you know about lightning phoenixes."
She flicked him on the nose but started talking, knowing he was asking for a distraction. "Well lightening phoenix lore mentions that they've a rather quick and devastating temper just like the lightening they're named after and they-"
Sirius forced himself to eat as he listened to her brief lecture until it was time to return to classes. As he walked back to the DADA classroom for the next group of students he was to teach, he brooded on Remus' rush from the hall. His mate really didn't want him, he didn't even want to hear him laugh. He rubbed his hand over his heart as it clenched in sharp agony. Suddenly his anger just wasn't strong enough to drown out the pain anymore and a weight settled on his heart that he doubted he'd ever be rid of. He walked into the classroom and summoned up a smile for his students, putting on a mask and pulling out his acting skills. Just because he was miserable was no reason to spread it around. So he'd smile, and laugh, and fake it even around Remus so that he didn't upset anyone.
To be continued…
AN: Thank you for reading, we would absolutely love to hear what you think so far. See you next chapter.