Consequences of the Truth
A/N: So I thought I'd explain something. I had a reviewer concerned that Harry's reactions might be unrealistic. Unfortunately, dear readers who might want to see him heal quickly, that isn't the case in these situations. Harry is currently in a stage of Post Traumatic Syndrome (rape trauma syndrome to be specific) which is centered around coping with events by avoiding dealing with them. One of the hallmarks is the ability to talk clinically about what happened just as a therapist wants him to do. Another part of it is latching onto his "saviors" with a ferocity that borders on codependence. None of these are healthy for him. What those around him see as "improvement" is more accurately simple avoidance. This will cause more problems. If you are interested, please do a search on the RTS that I'm basing Harry's psychological health off of. There is no one way that a victim expresses this. It is a collection of symptoms which "may" present. Keep in mind that Harry is very good at suppressing things he doesn't want others to know.
This chapter shows vast "improvement" but Constance isn't fooled by it at all. The next chapter will see a more significant intervention on her part (which is why it may take a few days for that chapter to be done, it is more clinical in nature, so I have to look up a few things before I do them). Of course, this is all complicated by Harry being a magical child.
And the idea that victims in these situations always avoid sexual situations is false. Victims of rape may often avoid sexual situations, but they are also likely to seek out sexual situations to make them feel like sex is safe instead of violent. This goes with many of the variables. Neither reaction is healthy and both are highly maladaptive. Men, however, are often more likely to lash out violently and with anger than women (as Harry does once thus far).
12-3: Minor edits, added that other page I wanted to add to this one.
12-5: UGH replaced the wrong instances of Sirius with Padfoot while in front of Draco.
"Seriously, Harry, you have to leave your room for this!" Ron pleaded, standing before the threshold, eyeing Padfoot who looked at him with amusement.
"I'm not interested in seeing the people get here from the other schools," he said frowning.
"Harry, you've been cooped up in here for two months. The Prophet has even quit writing about it, and no one has seen anything in that time," Hermione reasoned.
Draco sat beside him with an amused look. "I agree with them, Harry, you need to go out. And what better than the Halloween party? You can dress up in costume, and everything, come on."
Harry looked to see Snape standing a little further away with an amused half smirk. "Harry, they're right. Two months without being around anyone but those in this room is a long time. Try it out, go masked, and have a little fun. Padfoot will go with you and you know he's the best guard mutt in the world."
A growl issued from the large black form in the doorway. Snape snorted and turned to get his things together before the evening festivities. The schools would arrive in the next hour, then the festivities would happen after the introductions. Then, after a week, they would present those that would participate in the Tri-Wizard tournament at another feast.
The last two months had been difficult. The trial had led to two weeks straight of nightmares that left him shaking and nearly incapable of getting out of bed. It didn't take long for Snape to figure it out, despite the silencing spells. Sirius was quick to comfort his godson, but some nights, it took both of them and a vial of dreamless sleep to get him back to sleep. No one mentioned going back to regular classes, and even the hint of going outside the castle set him off in a panic attack. Constance visited on a weekly basis, and it was helping with everything except the social phobia he had developed. He tolerated his friends; Draco's friends were included there as well except for Theo Nott who seemed to have taken a dislike to Harry after a week or so of visiting. Draco said not to let it bother him, but Harry couldn't help it. He didn't know what he'd done to set himself at odds with Theo.
Time heals wounds, but some take a lot longer than others. He was at the stage he didn't mind being touched by Ron, Blaise, Snape, Sirius, and of course, Draco. The others, though, he still shied away from, but not as violently as before. He'd managed to put away the fear of Snape treating him in the ways of his uncle (especially after a particularly violent outburst by Harry one morning after a series of nightmares the night before). He learned quickly that Snape was considerate of the cause of his problems, and despite a few cutting remarks over the last month that Snape regretted the instant he said them, they had gotten along quite well.
Surprisingly, his studies had vastly improved. Of course, the main reason for that was that Harry chose to absorb himself in study rather than process things on his own like he was supposed to after his therapist left. He was avoiding the things he didn't want to think of, and Constance could tell. She tried, but Harry was more stubborn than anyone she'd had the pleasure to work with. Perhaps her problems were that unlike violent and rude patients, Harry was kind and obedient, but overly so. When she heard of the violent outburst that nearly fried all of Snape's hair along with Sirus's fur, she was ecstatic, telling them that he had to release the emotional turmoil at some point, as he'd been far too pliant and agreeable so far.
Snape and Sirius had to agree, the boy wasn't dealing with things, and Constance knew better than both of them that there was little to no healing happening at the moment for the boy. Sirius and Severus spoke at length about Harry, and agreed on many things, and even when they disagreed, it never degenerated into a fight like it had before Sirius had been to Azkaban. And that was perhaps where things started getting strange between the snake and the mutt. Sirius was contemplating that strangeness when Harry got up and agreed with his friends to go to the party if he was costumed and masked.
To Harry, the thought of being disguised and unknown made him a different person. He could forget he was the boy-who-lived, he could forget that he was a victim, and he could forget the dirtiness and filthiness he still felt when anyone came near him. He imagined his friends that he allowed to touch him were covered by shields that ensured that his dirt wouldn't transfer to them. He knew it was a strange thought, but he felt like his magic was going to protect those he wanted to protect. His eyes would often light with a smile for them, but only because it was expected. He was getting used to fake smiles these days. He hid the fact that he took scalding showers that left his skin bright red. He hid the fact he'd scrub himself nearly bleeding while he was there, healing any damage before he left the bathroom. He hid the fact he cut himself with a small silver knife with a retractable blade that he kept in his sock. He learned through reading Snape's books how to quickly heal minor injuries, and that kept them from finding out what he was doing.
So now he was doing what his friends expected him to do as he healed. However, he would have never agreed without the mask. He couldn't face the world that knew him for what he was. The savior of the wizarding world who let a muggle have his way with him. How disgusted most the world must be with him, he thought. Why wouldn't they be? How could he defeat the great dark lord if he couldn't protect himself from the disgusting things he had been forced to do for his uncle's amusement. No, he was no savior, and he was waiting for the day the Prophet outed him as nothing more than a useless fraud, because that was exactly what he was. Even as a wizard, he was a freak. The story of his life. He turned to his chattering friends, the fake smile plastered to his face convincingly.
The three friends were so excited that they started talking at once. Sirius flattened his ears and rolled his eyes, putting paws over them. He did not miss his godson's mental hiatus and he was deeply worried for the boy.
Snape came in to see what the commotion was about. "What is going on?"
Draco gave him a sideways grin. "He agreed to go; we're trying to figure out what to dress him as."
Snape nodded. "Well, what are you all dressing as?"
Hermione smiled. "I'm going as a bunny, Ron as a cat, and Draco?" she said looking at the blonde.
He shrugged. "I figured Harry wouldn't go, so I was staying here. What do you think I should go as, Harry?"
Harry turned and looked at him and smiled. "An angel fits you, with your hair and eyes."
Draco blinked and shrugged. "Whatever, I can transfigure some wings. I'm not wearing a dress though, white robes."
Harry smiled, thinking to himself that he was looking forward to it more and more. Then he smiled. "I could go as…um…maybe a demon, with wings and a half mask over the top of my face, that way I don't have to take it off to eat."
Harry thought it was appropriate. Demons were filthy creatures after all, full of sin and ill intent. What more fitting a character for him to play…he thought. And Draco was indeed an angel, so pure and light, now that he knew him. It also highlighted how far apart he was from Draco. No matter what he did, they would be separated as far apart as heaven and hell. No one would touch him, and he wouldn't soil Draco like that. And he desperately wanted to push him away, but Harry thought if he did, he might really give up and give in to the little knife in his sock that wanted to delve deeply into his wrist and release all the pain at once.
Draco nodded. "Okay, let's do this; I'll wear a mask too, just so you aren't the only one."
After a few minutes of transfiguration, Ron was sporting orange striped cat ears and tail. He had a pair of black pants and a tight black shirt covered in tiger stripes. His face had been transfigured to resemble a tiger. Hermione, likewise, had transfigured herself with a bunny tail and ears, wearing a white skirt that had a hole for the tail (which was black), and a plain white shirt. She had a cute bunny nose and large rabbit eyes and large black floppy bunny ears.
Harry couldn't take his eyes off Draco, though. He'd been given a pair of wings that he could move a little with some effort that stood as tall as he did and he could open them a little, but they were mostly for show. His hair was longer, dropping below his chin and framing his pale face. A white mask covered the upper part of his face with gold etching, and his eyes shown even brighter for it. He wore a sleeveless robe and a golden ring sat above his head.
"Draco, that's amazing!" Hermione said, looking him over.
"Now Harry!" Draco said, turning his wand on the shorter boy.
After a few minutes, Harry's clothes had been transfigured into a pair of red leather pants that he complained about (but the others swore they were perfect), and a black fitted shirt with a matching leather vest. A pair of demon wings sprouted from his back, which like Draco's, he could flutter a little bit. His skin was a ruddy reddish brown, and his hair had been left alone. The mask was black, and made his green eyes stand out against the colors. A pair of small horns sprouted from his head. He felt them because they felt weird.
"Well?" he asked.
"No one will know you at all like that!" Hermione said with a grin, looking her friend over, and noticing the not so subtle way Draco's gaze lingered on his ass as she turned him to face her.
"Now Harry, if you get overwhelmed, come back here, okay? Padfoot will stay close, but we don't want him tripping everyone," Snape said, reaching down to Harry's surprise and scratching the black dog's head absent-mindedly. Harry didn't think he even knew he did it. His heart fluttered to think that perhaps they had let the old rivalry die.
They headed out to the great hall where they all watched in interest as the schools were introduced, and Ron had a heart attack the Viktor Krum was one of them. They had the feast and then the tables moved away and they had a welcoming Halloween ball. The students from the three schools mixed and mingled with each other. Harry couldn't believe it. He was relaxed when no one knew him. He didn't even mind people brushing against him, and random students talking to him. Music played and people paired off to dance with each other. He felt a hand grab his and was drug to the floor.
Draco grinned at him as he moved him around the floor. Harry felt himself blush. It was strange to dance with another boy, but he liked it better than dancing with a girl. He was pants at leading during a dance, and more than happy to let Draco lead his actions. After a while, another song started and he felt someone behind him. He turned to find himself facing none other than Viktor Krum. He blinked.
"You have dance with me?" he asked in his thick accent and Harry nodded, once again led away. Draco looked up when he realized he was gone and smiled. While he would have preferred to keep Harry to himself, Pansy had already swept him up in another dance. And to see Harry interacting with others was a good thing, he reminded himself.
"So, you from this school?" Viktor asked, smiling at him.
Harry nodded, unable to get over the fact he was dancing with Krum. He glanced over to see Ron standing with a gaping jaw. "I am."
"Can I have your name?" he asked, leaning closer and pulling Harry into him.
"Um, I'm in disguise, you'll have to figure it out yourself," he said with a smirk, his eyes roving the older boy.
Viktor grinned wider. "Oh, much fun."
He stayed with him another dance and then went for a drink, only to be assaulted by Ron with questions. Viktor danced with several other boys and girls throughout the night, but he kept glancing at Harry. Harry danced with a couple girls, but ended up failing miserably at leading the dance, so he opted to stay with the boys. Blaise and Crabbe, surprisingly, danced with him, though he was a little put off when he ended up getting his ass squeezed by Blaise before he let him go. That was a little more forward than he'd like. But part of him didn't mind; after all, only a few people knew who he was. It wasn't like he could infect any of them with his impurities if they didn't realize who he was.
Finally he was sitting at a table with Hermione and Ron watching Draco take the floor with Viktor this time. He was a little amused because he didn't think Draco had danced with many girls the entire time.
Ron was gaping again. "I think he's danced with more guys and girls tonight than I thought possible. I guess he plays for both teams, huh?"
Harry nodded. "So it would seem, he seems quite enamored with anyone he finds attractive."
"You seem to be okay so far, Harry?" she asked with a smile.
"Yeah, when people can't see me it…it's different." He wasn't going to tell them that the anonymity hid the dirt that he felt coating him beneath the surface of his skin.
Soon enough, the Goblet of Fire was presented, the rules outlined, and Harry was extremely glad that this was something he wouldn't have to participate in. For once, he would not be placed center stage. Someone else would get all the fame and he liked that just fine. Who was he to deserve any of what he got? It made him a freak even among his own kind anyway.
Despite handling the party, Harry had no desire to leave his safe room for the following week and couldn't be persuaded to even go to the ceremony to announce who would compete. He explained he'd had quite enough interaction for the rest of the year and he would not be coming out without a mask on anytime soon. His friends were frustrated, but they conceded, knowing that pushing him would lead to even more trouble. Draco opted to stay with him and the others went. They were in the middle of working on a potions essay when the door banged open, getting both the boys' attention and the wary dog.
"Harry…your name came out of the Goblet."
Harry blinked. "But that's impossible. I didn't put it in the goblet…I couldn't, I'm too young. Besides, I've been here all week. Must be some mistake," he said, waving his quill at his guardian.
"Harry, you don't understand, it doesn't matter. It's a magical contract. The others are Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacroix, and Viktor Krum. Your name came out last. Minister Fudge is livid, convinced you somehow managed it," he explained.
Harry frowned. "But I didn't! You know I didn't!"
Snape nodded. "I know, Padfoot hasn't left your side, and I've got wards on the room that record those that come and go, and you haven't left. The Headmaster is with Fudge, Crouch and the other school masters right now trying to figure it out. But you have to compete since your name came out it looks like. The Goblet of Fire is a magically binding contract…there is no way to refuse."
Harry paled. "But…but…I can't even go into the hallway without…oh Merlin," he said, passing out cold at the thought, dropping backward onto the bed.
Draco looked at Snape and back to unconscious Harry. "Severus, he can't do that! Someone else had to put his name in the bloody thing!"
There was a knock at the door. Snape sighed and answered it, admitting Fudge, Crouch, and Dumbledore.
"How did he do it?" asked the Minister.
Snape shook his head. "He didn't! I told you already. He's been here for the entire week, the last time he left these rooms was when he was at the ceremony and Halloween party, and only then in mask so people didn't know him. For Merlin's sake, I just told him and he passed out!"
Fudge glowered at him then moved to enter the room where Draco was trying to rouse him. A black dog growled at him menacingly. "Move, mutt," the Minister said with a frown. The growling grew in volume.
"Pad, move, please," Snape said softly as the dog moved in to sit beside Harry. "But don't go into his room, please, let him…"
Snape growled under his breath as both Fudge and Crouch went into the room despite his protests. He cast a worried glance at Draco. He knew this would be bad. Harry only allowed his friends, and not even all of them, to enter his room. It was his safe haven. He knew he was completely safe there.
Harry blinked blearily from the bed where he'd fallen. "Dray? I had the worst nightmare…"
"Sorry, Harry, but the Minister wants to talk to you, no nightmare," Draco said softly, helping him to sit up.
Harry stared at the minister and his heart rate sped up, then his head snapped around to see another man in his room.
"Get out!" he practically screamed. "No…no one comes in here, not even Severus, leave, leave, no…"
"Harry, please, they just…" Draco said softly as Harry grabbed desperately at him, fisting his robes desperately, eyes flittering between the two men.
"No, out of my room, you promised…" he yelled.
Snape growled. "I told you not to go in his room, now get out or I'll let Pad have at you, Minister or now. Sit at the table and wait for Harry to come out or leave."
Fudge and Crouch stalked out of the room, leaving a hyperventilating Harry and watched as Draco attempted to sooth him out of it. The dog put his head into his lap and whimpered at him. After a few minutes Harry could look up.
"Take my name off, I don't want anything to do with the stupid tournament!" he called to the men sitting in the next room.
"Harry, come out here and talk with us, it is undignified to yell across the room like this," Fudge said tightly.
Draco nodded to him and together they moved out, Sirius on their heels. Sirius put himself under the table close to the interlopers, and Draco and Harry sat together next to Snape. Dumbledore took the remaining chair and waited.
Fudge stared at the scared boy. What was he so scared of? Unknowing of the extent of the situation, he assumed the worst. The boy was guilty. He vaguely remembered something about signing off on his guardianship papers for Lucius, and something in the Prophet about his uncle being jailed, but honestly, he couldn't keep up with everything that happened that didn't pertain to him. So to him, the fear he was seeing was obvious, he glanced to Crouch with a knowing smirk.
"You're frightened. Are you afraid to reveal who you had put your name into the Goblet?" Crouch asked crassly. "If you didn't do it yourself, someone put it in for you. Tell us who, and the punishment will be lesser for you."
Harry stared at him. "Are you kidding? I don't talk to anyone but my friends and none of them would do something like that!" Harry tried desperately to hold the shaking that overcame him at the threat of punishment, his mind slipping into the punishments he was used to receiving.
"The boy is obviously hiding something," Crouch said to Fudge. "Give him the serum, and we'll see how much he's hiding."
Harry gaped, and looked over to Snape who actually looked angry. As angry as Snape ever could look behind his mask. "You're kidding? You want to use veritaserum on the boy?" Snape asked.
"Either that, or he'll be hauled away and questioned at the Ministry, which is it?" Crouch demanded, looking at Fudge as though daring him to disagree. Fudge nodded.
"Fine!" Harry said. Anything to keep him from leaving his rooms. Anything. "Just do it and get it over with," he said, looking to Snape who nodded, retrieving the small vial.
He moved over and dropped three drops on his tongue and they waited. Harry felt his head start to feel odd and his eyes took on a glazed quality.
"Fine, let's see. What's your name?" Snape asked.
"Harry James Potter," Harry answered somewhat stiffly.
"Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?" Fudge asked.
Harry shook his head. "I did not."
"And did you have someone else put your name in the Goblet of Fire?"
"I did not."
Crouch growled. "Did you want your name to come out of the Goblet?"
"No. I have no interest in the Triwizard."
Snape was about to hand him the antidote when Crouch held up his hand. "Wait. Why aren't you interested in the Triwizard?"
Harry swallowed. "It would mean being around the other students. I don't want to leave my room. I'm safe here."
"You leave all the time for classes, why is this different?" he asked, and Harry tried to school his tongue but with the serum it told the absolute truth whether he wanted or not.
"I do my classwork here. I don't leave."
"Why in the world would you do that? And why are you allowed to do that?" Fudge asked, turning to look between Snape and Dumbledore.
"I think that's infringing on Mr. Potter's personal life a little much," Dumbledore said.
"I can't deal with people right now, I have panic attacks from too many people or someone touching me," Harry provided, looking annoyed at his inability to keep his mouth from speaking.
Draco caught the smirk curl at the corner of Crouch's lips for a second. What was that about? "Why?"
Snape was already up and uncorking the antidote for the serum, but Fudge glared at him. "Not yet. This may have some bearing on the situation."
"How? This is damaging to all the work that we've done with Harry, so stop and let me give him the antidote, you have your answers," Snape said, and there was a low growling from under the table.
"I have to agree with Professor Snape. Harry's difficulties have no bearing, you've heard what you needed, he had nothing to do with his name going into the cup," Dumbledore said.
"But it may have something to do with the guilty party," Fudge reasoned. "Answer, why, Mr. Potter?"
Harry's mouth worked to try to figure a way to tell but not tell at the same time but he couldn't. "The abuse I suffered at my uncle's hands and the two public encounters with photographs he released cause panic attacks now."
Draco couldn't be sure, but the old git Crouch looked extremely pleased. "Really? And why would that make you have panic attacks? Doesn't make sense. Many children are abused. And I'm sure there are plentiful photographs about the wizarding world's boy-who-lived."
Harry stared at horror and when he tried to speak his voice cracked. Snape snarled. "Enough, I'm Harry's guardian and I think you need to go, now," he said, pulling Harry to his feet and giving him the antidote to the serum. He pushed him gently in the direction of his rooms and he could feel the boy already shaking. "Draco, go with him. Leave the door open."
Draco followed him and sat down beside him on the bed as he breathed heavily into the blonde's robes. He was fighting the urge to cry and scream and release his magic at the two people in the other room. Sirius jumped up beside him.
"Leave, now. And figure out how to get him out of this tournament, he's not capable right now of such a thing," Snape said, ushering all three men from the room. Dumbledore looked at him with a sympathetic glance as the door slammed.
"Bloody ministry," he muttered and headed to his fireplace, tossing the floo powder into it and calling out for Malfoy Manor and stepping through.
He stepped out and saw Lucius sitting and reading, he looked up. "Severus, what brings you here?"
"The Ministry is at it again. Harry's name came out of the Goblet."
Lucius stood and blinked. "He's one of the three competitors?"
Snape shook his head. "No, he's a fourth."
"That's impossible, there are only three schools, that means…"
"That means someone no only put his name in, they forged a fourth school to make sure his name was chosen. He of course didn't have anything to do with it, he couldn't, and was just put under the truth serum to tell Fudge and Crouch just that," he said softly. "But Crouch, something's going on. He seems to have it in for him, and kept trying to prod him into revealing things…hurtful and damaging things that have nothing to do with the Goblet," Snape said, a snarl curling his lips as he thought of it.
Lucius was quiet. "This leads more to my theory that Crouch is the one the muggle bastard was working with. I'm beginning to think he has some sort of twisted idea that Harry has to do with his son's death…"
Severus sighed. "There's no way around it. It's a binding magical contract. Harry will compete or he'll lose his magic."
Lucius nodded. "I'll come through. Do you think he'll allow me?"
Severus nodded. "I think so. Draco is seemingly the only thing that is holding him together right now."
"I'm still impressed with the fact my son could manage to comfort another individual," he said, standing and heading to the fireplace.
A moment later, they both stood in Snape's rooms and saw that Draco and Harry were still entwined, sitting on the bed. Draco looked up and nodded to his father and nudged Harry. He looked up and saw that the elder Malfoy had arrived and nodded to him. Lucius stepped to the doorway to talk to him, but like Severus, didn't step into the room. Harry appreciated the fact that the two men respected his boundary. So far, his godfather was the only person with free reign to come and go as he pleased. He was shaking slightly still and couldn't even think straight, let alone come to any conclusions. The barriers he'd carefully erected in his mind were shaking, and that scared him.
"Severus told me what's happening. I'll see if I can't find out what's happening from my end, Harry, but…there's no way to break the magical contract. You'll have to compete…or risk losing your magic as a result of not abiding by it. All you have to do is survive. And I know it won't be easy, that's why they want older students only," he said softly.
"Then…I think…Severus and Draco need to make a lot of calming draughts…" he said softly, looking with wide green eyes to him.
"I do too, Harry," Lucius said with a smile. "Draco, can we talk a minute?" he said to his son. Draco nodded and patted Harry's leg as he got up and walked out.
They moved into the sitting area where Harry was out of view and Lucius silenced the area around them. Draco looked at him curiously. His father had let his mask slip and there was a slightly bemused expression on his face that even his son rarely saw.
"Father?" he asked.
"Son, I just wanted to inquire about this…thing…you have with Harry," he said softly, crossing his arms over his chest.
Draco shook his head. "Thing? I don't understand, Father," he said with a frown.
"Well, I'm particularly interested in finding if my only son has any plans for future heirs or if I need to start looking to a surrogate witch or a specialist in potions for male bearers," he said without an expression on his face now.
Draco felt a mad blush climb up his pale face as he slowly came to realize what his father was asking him. "Wh-what…Father!" he exclaimed.
"Son, you know it is acceptable to have a male partner, but you will be required to provide an heir for the family one way or another, I just thought it would be wise to know if that was your preference now so I can prepare your mother for it. I suppose you could do worse than the supposed savior of the wizarding world," he muttered.
"Father I haven't even thought of that! I'm just Harry's friend, and I'm helping him get through this and…" but Draco couldn't deny the red flush of his face. "Harry is not ready for anything close to a relationship right now. He can't even stand to have someone save his close friends touch him without flipping out!"
Lucius rolled his eyes. "This may be…difficult if indeed the dark lord returns, but I suppose we'll worry on that later. I would prefer a pureblood, but at least the Potter line is an old one, with links to Gryffindor himself so I suppose…"
"Father I'm not marrying him bloody tomorrow!" Draco exclaimed, wondering where this was coming from. He knew that for the last year they'd been discussing the possible marriage contracts, the curse of the pureblood families. Started at thirteen, they began searching for a match that was both suitable in power and influence, and also bolstered reputation. But really!
Lucius shook his head. "Can't be too prepared, son, now I'll leave you to your time."
The silence was canceled and Lucius flooed back to his manor. His father thought he liked Harry for Merlin's sake! How could he come up with something that ridiculous? He was a nice looking bloke, and it was true that Draco had come to realize after snogging with Pansy that he had no interest in the female gender, but still. Who said he wanted to do anything like snogging Potter? Even though he thought it might be nice, he had such nice lips… Severus came around to find Draco red-faced and gaping.
"You'll catch flies, Draco. What was that about?" he asked, arching a black brow at him.
Draco shook his head. "I…I'm going to bed."
He went to bid Harry good night and ruffled the dog on the head. Harry frowned at the expression on his face, and the blush that colored his cheeks, but he didn't ask. It wasn't like he was his keeper or anything. He figured he would tell him if there was something wrong. After he was gone, said dog shifted into the tall, dark haired man. Harry immediately found himself pulled into a tight hug, face buried in the ruffled white shirt and the cool leather of the long vest against his cheek.
"Sirius, what am I going to do? I can't do this!" he said, looking up at his godfather desperately.
"You can, pup, you can," Sirius said with a smile. "I know you can. And we'll all be here for you, okay? Why don't you sleep now. You look exhausted. Take a potion, or you'll never rest," he said and handed him a sleeping draught, not a dreamless sleep, just a draught.
Harry was exhausted so he did just that. After he was asleep, Sirius exited and went to talk to Severus. He sighed and dropped into the sofa, spreading his human arms out and sprawling.
The potion master looked up from his book with arched brows. "Must you sprawl every time you come out in your human form, mutt?"
Sirius smirked. "Yes, you try running around like a dog twenty three hours a day and see if you don't like to stretch your limbs out once in a while."
"I don't like this, Lucius thinks that Crouch is up to something," Severus said, putting the book in his lap.
Sirius nodded. "I agree. Never liked the bastard. I mean, fucker sent me to Azkaban after all and still won't do anything to clear my name. Now, the question is, what are we going to do about Harry and this tournament? He's going to have to go through the trials, and it won't be easy. And he's going to have to stay awful close to the other competitors. I can't stay with him all the time, however, because outside Hogwarts, my disguise won't allow me to go where magical pets can't go."
Snape nodded. "He's not getting better either," he said closing his eyes slowly.
"I know," Sirius answered. "He's not getting through it, and I can tell his magic is doing something to him to keep him from dealing with it. What did the healer say? He was avoidant about it. And until he processed through it, he's never going to really get better. And now we have this. This can't be good on the healing process. What do the muggles call what it is, post traumatic stress disorder, syndrome, whatever? I've been looking at some psychology books."
"Never thought you'd read for anything you didn't get a grade for, Black," Severus snorted.
Sirius glared at him. "I'll do a lot for Harry. Something tells me you would too."
Snape sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Bloody hell, where did this all get messed up?"
"What do you mean?" the animagus asked.
"I mean, I'm sitting here, fretting over the child of my schoolyard rival like he were my own," he said, rolling his eyes. "And not only that, I let you of all people live here too. You're almost as bad as Potter was."
Sirius snorted. "James had a way of pissing people off. He was just jealous of you, you know, you and Lily. He matured but never lost his fear of losing her to you," he said flopping his head back on the couch and staring at the ceiling. "I told him he was a prat for holding a grudge like that, but after you and him got into it and you called her a mudblood, well, not much could be done."
He heard the man sigh deeply and resigned. "I know you didn't mean it, Severus, when you called her that. James had a way of making the worst come out in people sometimes. I'm really quite glad Harry got Lily's heart. Given time, she would have forgiven you."
"I begged him, you know," Snape said, leaning back. "The dark lord. When I found out he was going after them. I begged him to spare her life for me."
Sirius picked his head up and stared at the man, who was looking away with a wistful expression. "My life was so messed up before Lily; she was the only thing to keep me sane, the only thing to look forward to every time I ran into her. She had her magic hating family, I had my abusive father," he said sighing. "I was so young and I just wanted anyone to accept me. Turned out that's just what the dark lord wanted. Maybe…maybe if I hadn't called her that, maybe she would have stayed my friend, and I wouldn't have taken the mark. And maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have found out about the prophecy and they'd still be alive."
Sirius found himself feeling sorry for the man before him. "We all did some stupid things. Like me trying to get you bit or mauled by Remus. That was just fucking stupid. Merlin that could have gone no worse…bad enough to deal with your best friend being a werewolf, but then to have that cocky stupidity that comes with youth. I saw it you know, so many times in Azkaban. Believe it or not, that was one of the worst memories that came up for me. Regret colors things in there. And thirteen years of it turns a lot of thoughts on their head."
Severus found himself nodding at Sirius. Truly surprised to hear him say those things. Had his stint in Azkaban changed him that much?
"Did you love her?" Sirius asked softly. "I mean, like really love her? Would you have married her if it weren't for James? And if you weren't so painfully awkward at that age?"
Snape shook his head. "As much as I'd like to say yes, no, I'd never have married Lily. She was my best friend, my sister in all but blood, but I never loved her like that."
"Really? I always assumed, and so did James, that you were after her romantically."
"It is important to have a romance with the proper sex. Unfortunately, my preference is not female," Snape said, leaning back with a sigh.
Sirius blinked and stared at him. "Really now? How come we never knew that?"
Severus snorted. "Honestly, do you think I would have given Potter more ammunition?"
"I think he might have left you alone if he knew you weren't competition for Lily's heart. You'd known her longer than him, so he was blinded by jealously. He couldn't really harp on you for having a preference for men when two of his best friends were snogging in the locker room after Quidditch, now could he?" Sirius said with a half grin.
Now it was Snape's turn to gape. "What? You and Remus? Surely not that slimy rat…"
"Oh heavens no, not Peter, ugh, don't think that, Severus, really. Yes, Remus and I had a relationship for a while," Sirius said softly. "We both ran both sides of that fence. Ha, sometimes at the same time… though he'd deny to his dying day. Whoever took our fancy, unlike James who only had eyes for Lily once he set them on her. No, Remus and I spent time together and with others. We were close, if you couldn't tell by the fact I'm a giant black dog to his wolf."
"I guess we all made some bad choices and mistakes. And then I let it influence me on Harry, which I will never forgive myself for," he said, glancing at his book.
Sirius shrugged. "I think Harry has already forgiven you, I mean, the boy's practically ready to snog Draco and if you gave him the chance he's start calling you dad. So he's come a long way from his Slytherin hating, Snape despising days, wouldn't you say? Doing much better than any of us did at leaving prejudices behind."
"I think that is certain. The boy has Lily's heart. I just wish…we'd gotten to him before…" he was breaking, right in front of Sirius, Snape felt his carefully crafted masks and world crumbling. "He deserved to be raised by you or Remus, or anyone who would love him. He had no childhood, shoved into a cupboard…the memories in that boy's head, Sirius, you can't imagine…"
Without realizing it, Sirius moved closer to the man he once would have agreed wholeheartedly with his son was a "greasy haired git". But now, as he saw the man, he realized that not only Severus had grown up, so had he. Thirteen years in Azkaban does that to a person, changes their perceptions. Sirius was lucky to have gotten out with his sanity in tact. Well somewhat intact, because James would tell him that he was completely mental for what he was about to do.
"And if I'd…" Severus started, and looked up to see Sirius was kneeling beside his chair now.
"What could you have done? Unless you were going to legilimens a child without permission, something that amounts to mind rape, how could you have known? Harry hid it well, even from me," he said and put a hand on the man's shoulder. "Harry told me about the hat, you know, wanting to put him in Slytherin but he wanted to stay with his new friends, and Draco hadn't made a good impression on him. So no wonder he's good at hiding things and lying about his own pain. Boy's got a mess of Gryffindor bravery and self-sacrifice and a Slythern cunning and sneak."
Snape nodded, reaching up and putting his own hand on the one now on his shoulder. "I suppose making up for the past is the best place to start, right?" he said, looking over at the man who kneeled beside him. He was indeed looking at a man, not the boy who tormented him. The man before him had eyes that had seen a lot since those days, and they had lost as much as Severus himself had lost.
"That's the idea, Sev, that's the idea," Sirius said, and before he could rethink, overthink, or anything he slammed his mouth onto his school rival's, sending both of Snape's eyebrows directly into his hairline with shock.
He didn't know what to do but he reached out and grabbed Sirius's head, hands carding through wavy black locks and when Sirius moved back he stared at him. He blinked dumbly until a half smirk graced the animagus's lips.
"Wh…what was that?" he said softly.
"Making up for the past?" he said and lean forward to capture the man's lips again, this time, earning his way into his mouth easily as his own hands grabbed black hair, which he found was soft and smelled of lavender.