This chapter was beta-read by wonderful Lady Rebell-K Malfoy
December 29th – part III
"So, how was it?" Andy turned on his bed to face Harry. He had been reading a book, lying on his stomach. He put his finger inside and closed the tome over it, waving it gently. It was 'Foreign Curses & Hexes Fitting in English Hand'. "I've borrowed your book, I hope you don't mind."
Harry made a dismissive gesture with his hand. He would be a Malfoy-level prat if he minded. Andy's family had been sharing everything with him for the last 7 or 8 days. Wow, so long? Harry never realised he had already spent a whole week here, in Snape's realm.
"Earth to Harry?"
"Sorry," Harry pushed up his glasses – those were, thankfully, once again back in their normal, familiarly comforting shape. "Spaced out again."
"You do that often?"
"I do today. Or lately. I feel like I'm turning crazy." Harry supposed he shouldn't have said that. Why had he told that to Andy anyway? He had been acting weird, and feeling even weirder. Maybe he would save Snape the effort and would get kicked out of the house all by his own doing. Who would keep a lunatic around small children?
"Maybe you just have a lot on your mind," Andy kindly suggested. "It's only half past two. We can go skiing for an hour and half, if you want."
Andy was acting awfully nice. As he always had. His genes had to be one hundred percent Chris'. Apart from his looks, that was.
Harry realised Andy was watching patiently for him to make up his mind. "I would like that," Harry admitted. Sliding through the country on the skis was the best substitute for flying currently available. "Last time it really helped."
Andy nodded and started changing into his outside garments. Harry followed his example. He was wondering why he was feeling like a prat. It hit him when he was putting away his shopping bags – new jeans, socks, underpants, t-shirts and his favourite, a warm black sweatshirt with hood. The whole shopping trip was just a mean to get them all away from the house!
"How was your visit with Eva?" He voiced the question he probably should have asked Andy the minute they greeted each other.
To his surprise, Andy frowned, looking unhappy, disheartened.
"She didn't come?" As usually, Harry blurted aloud the first thought that crossed his mind. He really needed to control his mouth better. He hoped the question wasn't too untactful.
Before Andy opened his mouth to answer, a knock sounded, and Snape appeared in the half open door. "Andrei," he said in the way of greeting, smiling slightly at his eldest son. Well, it was more an upturn of the corners of his thin lips than a smile, but anyway.
"Dad," Andy smiled back weakly.
"Do you want to go skiing?" Snape continued. "We have good 90 minutes till dark falls."
Harry paused. He was just putting on his borrowed winter trousers, but now he stopped. It wouldn't do any good to go anywhere with Snape. He had enough for the day. Well, for the century, really.
"We wanted to go skiing with Harry," Andy informed his father. Even someone as daft as Ron would notice, however, that Andy would prefer to go skiing with his parent. Apparently, he had had a rough morning. Maybe his girlfriend split up with him?
"Go on," Harry said quickly, "I'll be skiing around the garden."
"But- " Andy answered, torn.
"My wife is taking the babies on a trip, Potter. I'm sure you are welcome to join them."
"We're not babies!" Indignant voices informed him from the hallway. Then Chris' voice sounded from afar, calling the small boys to dress.
Harry was pretty sure that Snape was mocking him. He answered with dignity, "I'll gladly go with them." He let 'instead of you' unvoiced, but hoped Snape heard it anyway.
"You sure?" Andy checked.
"Absolutely," Harry confirmed resolutely, and swiftly put his warm Weasley jumper over his head. With his hat and gloves in his hands he headed towards the door. Winter jackets were left in the changing room.
"Sir," he nodded to Snape coldly.
Andy followed just behind. "I'll wait outside, Dad. I'll take out your ski."
Together they headed downstairs, but not before Harry checked with Chris, who was in the babies' room, that he was welcome to join them.
"Of course, Harry," she smiled at him bravely. Harry thought that she appeared strained. It also seemed that the little twins were not cooperating with her, moaning about their thick winter clothes. Poor Chris.
"Hurry up, guys," Harry called at the babies, "I'm gonna wait for you in the garden." To his relief the small twins took it as a challenge.
"I'm gonna be the first!" Mark yelled and sped up his dressing up considerably. His twin followed his example. Chris' smile was a bit more real this time. It warmed Harry's heart more than it probably should. He felt less like a burden when he made her life just a little bit easier.
Harry followed Andy downstairs, and asked carefully, "So, er, you and Eva?"
"We're good," Andy assured him. "It's just her father. Totally unpleasant."
"You knew he might bring her personally," Harry pointed out, not understanding the problem. Apart from the general 'having a controlling jerk for a future father-in-law' problem. "That was why you were dressing so formally."
Andy took his ski shoes from the shoe shelf, and grimaced. "Yes, but I haven't anticipated him sitting here through the whole visit. And he was even a bigger wanker than usual, if that's even possible." He muttered darkly.
"Ouch." Harry sympathised, putting on his borrowed pair of shoes. "Why had he demanded your parent's presence, if he was doing the chaperoning himself?"
"Who knows," Andy frowned in disgust. "The first half he was snooping about Dad, and the other consulting Mum about wards."
"Could he find out who Snape really was?" Harry worried. "What would you do?"
"If no one has managed to see through the background Mum and Dad fabricated 18 years ago, I don't think anyone can now. She said they were really thorough," Andy assured him.
Harry nodded. Snape was a perfectionist, there was no denying. Especially if it was his prized wife in danger, he had surely moved havens and the Earth to keep her safe.
Actually, now that he thought about it, Harry would love to learn more. It could be rather useful to find out how to create a new identity and let the current one disappear. Now was not time to ask though, so Harry stored it deep in his mind for later.
"Well, at least you could impress him with your interest in warding, right?" Harry tried to bring the bright side, sounding lame even to himself.
"He prefers to pretend I'm invisible, apart from glaring daggers at my holding Eva's hand," Andy complained bitterly. "Oh, and let's not forget he insulted Mum for marrying Dad, and in such a round-about way that she couldn't tell him off and throw him out."
"He didn't!" Harry exclaimed. He absolutely agreed that Chris had married bellow herself when she picked Snape, but thinking that was one thing, and saying that aloud, insulting your host deliberately was something else. "What did you do?"
"Nothing," Andy grimaced in self-disgust. "I was furious, but Eva was there, and she was feeling awful about it, you just could see. If I fought him, she would pay for it later."
He pulled the front door open roughly, and took a deep breath of the cold air. "I don't think I and Eva have any chance, unless we run away. How long can I listen to him badmouthing Dad?"
"Then run," Harry prompted him. "Run until he agrees to let you decide about your lives." He put on his gloves and grinned at the taller teen, trying to ease the mood. "That way you can name your firstborn 'Harry'."
"Especially if it's a girl," Andy deadpanned.
Harry laughed. Then he turned serious again. He thought Andy needed to hear something that he probably already knew, deep down at least.
"Just don't forget this - it's you and Eva, and your relationship that is important. Everything else is just bothersome circumstances."
Andy looked at him surprised. "That's an interesting way to look at it. Somewhat… I don't know… conceited?"
They opened the shed and started pulling out skis. Harry still had some troubles recognising the pairs. Snape had the longest one, the babies the smallest, obviously. Andy sorted out the rest.
"Why is that conceited? It's not as if Chris and Snape disapproved of you. And Adam," Harry remembered Eva's brother, "you said he's alright too."
"I guess," Andy shrugged. To Harry, he still looked completely dispirited.
"Look," Harry insisted, "I know you're used to be approved of. The good son, the kindest of the brothers, the good student, the peace-maker. But now you're letting the expectations to tie you down."
Andy's surprise grew, the expression in his face was nearly comical. If by Harry's words or his vehemence, Merlin knew.
"You and Eva are an item. If you let her father destroy that, you may never forgive yourself." Harry could hear the door opening, and he urgently added, "It's so rare to find the right partner. It can be once-in-a-lifetime occasion!"
Of course it had to be Snape coming out of the house. He looked disapproving of Harry, which he always did, so Harry wasn't sure if he had heard his speech. It was so simple to Harry. He had been disliked since he could remember. Whilst he tried to get accepted by people around him, he knew he could live without their approval, if he had to. If there was a good enough cause.
Andy looked pensive, which Harry supposed, was the best he could hope for. "See you, then," he nodded at him.
"Professor," he nodded more formally to Snape, and started carefully shuffling along the house.
"Come in, Harry," McGonagall led him into the guest room. They sat at the small table with armchairs whose Harry had never used when he inhabited the room.
McGonagall waved her wand, and the tea, complete with a plate of cookies, that Chris had prepared downstairs, appeared on the table. Nifty.
"Is that some special summoning charm?" Harry asked with interest.
"Yes, and we can get to that later," McGonagall poured them tea. "Severus informed me I had been remiss in informing you about finances and other common matters. I apologise for my assumption that - " She paused, "I apologise."
"Don't apologise, please," Harry said, feeling uncomfortable, "The Dursleys didn't do lots of things that they should have. It's not your fault."
"Only good about the dead," she said primly. "They should have taught you about the basic economy, budgets and such, perhaps. However, I am not sure they knew about your standing and wealth in our world."
Harry kept his tongue. He was pretty sure that had they known, they would rob him of his inheritance before he would say 'quidditch'. But of course, McGonagall was right. They were gone. Whilst Harry was still living. So he won in the end, he guessed.
"No, actually, I thought you were informed by Albus." She continued. "He always took such an interest in you. Never mind. We'll correct it momentarily. You are already aware of your Gringots accounts, and-"
"There's more of them?"
"Aparently you're not." His teacher sighed. "When you return to the castle, I will have a meeting arranged for you with your family solicitor. His name is Thomas Greendell. He has been my solicitor for many years, and I recommended him to your mother."
Harry perked up at the mention of his Mum.
"For now, I am rather certain you have enough gold in your family vault to live on for the rest of your life. Also, you have a partially destroyed property in Godric Hallow- "
Harry quickly nodded, not wanting her to expand on that.
"Also, Sirius had made you his heir, leaving you his house- " she paused as if she hesitated how to continue.
"Completely destroyed. Snape told me." Harry nodded. "Sirius never liked it, anyway."
The elder professor seemed relieved. "He also let you another vault, Black family vault. Unless you are very extravagant in your lifestyle, you won't ever want for money."
"Okay," Harry was glad he could tell Snape off the next time the git belittled him about his spending habits. "That's good to know. Can I exchange some of it into muggle pounds, or give some of the money to someone?"
He was thinking of Hermione, mostly. And making secret accounts, or stashes of cash. Or creating a safehouse or two. Or maybe buying that funny magic tent they used at the Quidditch Cup.
"I suppose so, at least when you are adult. Mr. Greendell will have more detailed information. Also," she hesitated.
"I suppose he will suggest making a will." She watched him carefully, as if she expected him to have a fit.
"I want to make a will," Harry decided impulsively. "I'll give it to you before you leave, if it's possible."
McGonagall was taken aback. "That could be arranged, I suppose, however- " She stopped, obviously lost for words.
"I may do some more elaborate will later," Harry explained, "For now, I will simply give everything to Hermione. Who knows who would size it, if I…" He let the thought deliberately unfinished. McGonagall wasn't stupid. Malfoy's mother was Sirius' cousin, after all. Harry couldn't bear the thought of them inheriting.
"We'll hope that would be a mote point for a long time, Mr. Potter," McGonagall's face was as grave as he ever seen it.
After a sip of her tea, she added as an afterthought, "There's also the possibility you will inherit after your muggle family," She seemed to be somewhat awkward every time she had to mention them. Harry wondered why. Perhaps she thought it was a painful reminder for him?
Harry chortled a bitter laugh. "Not a chance. They hated me. I bet they would sooner burn their house down then leave it to me. Oh, sorry, only good. I know."
"I didn't like them, and I said to Albus as much. Now I see clearly I failed you when I didn't do more." Her regret was genuine, Harry could see as much.
"That's okay," he assured her. "Dumbledore never listens. He moves people as chess pieces," he repeated one of the first things Chris had said to him.
She didn't seem to be convinced.
"We never really know about anyone," Harry insisted, not wanting her to feel bad. "About their private lives. We're just Professors and students. I'd never given a thought about you like about a person, if you were married or had children. And Snape. Who would have guessed."
"I see your point," Minerva conceded. "If you need something in future, though, please inform me. It is mostly for easing my conscience," she added when she saw he was about to refuse automatically.
He nodded. "Okay."
"What about the Ministry, though?" Harry realised. "You said I can see the lawyer when I'm back at school. But how can I return there? Snape said the Minister would want to take me as his ward. Perhaps I'll have to go into hiding."
"What did Albus tell you about your situation? If you don't mind satisfying my curiosity?" McGonagall took her teacup in her hand again. Harry suspected she did that when she felt awkward.
"Nothing." He answered simply, not bothering to hide his bitterness. "He simply picked me up at London and transported me here."
Her lips formed a thin angry line.
He shrugged. "I guess nobody knows a thing."
McGonagall conceded with a nod. The line got even thinner. Harry hoped she would make Dumbledore pay.
Harry pondered the situation. "I need to get my hands at enough cash in case someone restricts me later," he thought aloud. "And make that will."
The elder woman observed him, and surprisingly, she didn't comment, and just waited silently.
"How is it done?" Harry asked her. "Do we need a solicitor or some witnesses to verify I'm doing it freely?"
Her lips curved slightly. "No, we have charmed parchments for that, it cannot be tampered with or signed by a different person than they claim to be. I'm sure Chris will have some."
"That's great. Would you take them to England?" He suddenly realised that Chris at his first dinner here talked about McGonagall departing on the 30th. "Are you leaving tomorrow?"
She nodded. "I was supposed to leave after breakfast, when everyone – but you – goes to visit Chris' friends. However, seeing that you would be here alone all day, I decided to postpone my leave until afternoon. At least we would make the arrangements we've talked about. I'll ask Chris for the official charmed parchment."
"Thanks," Harry tried to appear grateful, even though it really didn't mean much to him. He wouldn't mind being by himself all day. What he minded was that McGonagall was one of the people Snape respected. Her leave would make Harry more vulnerable to the git.
He sighed inwardly. He would make it anyway. He always had.
"I've never asked you about my parents. But you taught them. I would like to hear about them. What were they like, apart from being a prankster and a beauty." Harry begged.
McGonagall smiled at him gently. "I liked your mother very much. She wasn't only pretty, but also clever and witty. Very popular. She had a big heart, and loved animals, especially cats."
Harry's lips curved into small wistful smile.
"She was Muggleborn, as you of course know, but she eased into our world easily. It helped that she didn't question everything, or compare it unfavourably to Muggle world."
Harry grinned. He guessed she was comparing her to Hermione.
"Of course, nowadays girls are more opinionated and less shy to stand by their opinion," the witch added, "In both worlds."
"Once she missed a Hogsmeade visit, because she lent her nicest dress to her friend Marlene." McGonagall remembered. "She holed herself up in a library, instead, studying for her OWLs. Severus made her company. They were still friends back then."
"Friends?" Certainly not!
"They were friends since their first year. They split when the Dark Lord's drivel started more and more to influence our world and Hogwarts students with it," McGonagall informed him sadly. "Everything polarised in a few years. Banter and sometimes-not-so-gentle rivalry changed into hatred."
"And my father- and Snape?"
"Enemies since the day one," she told him.
"She was a Rawenclaw, and one year younger. Lily and James never really knew her. Nor Severus, by the way. I doubt you know many younger students who are not in your year out of Gryffindor."
She had a point.
"But why were they friends? With Snape? What could they have in common?" Harry complained. He didn't want his Mum to have anything in common with the foul bat.
"You would have to ask Severus," McGonagall smiled, and glanced at the clock. "Now I believe is time for dinner."