Harry & Hermione
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enahma - Coming off the Ropes
Chapter 2 - Prejudices and expectations
Warning: this is th BETAED chapter!
Many thanks for kateydidnt, who did this enormous work!
Thanks for the reviews. I've never expected such a huge amount of reviews for one, pathetic chapter. And this will be another pathetic one. Sorry. I need some time to speed up the story, and I try to be less and less boring as the time goes by.
And a WARNING: I've just now realised that this will be VERY AU in less than two months. Well, I hope you won't abandon it after the fifth book...
Chapter 2 - Prejudices and expectations
The trip to the sea-side was marvellous. They were six in all: Harry, Anne, Sirius, Severus, Fletcher and - surprisingly - McGonagall who came to bring news about Lupin and to invite Snape for the next week's staff meeting. Fletcher's presence was already familiar: a part of the manor was used by certain people, the "order" as they called themselves, and Fletcher was one of them. He was a kind of 'protector' too: he created security walls around the house and fixed other defensive systems that he never spoke about, however, Harry had asked him several times. He just smiled at him, and stated: it's a secret. As if he had spoken with a little child, Harry thought embarrassed.
In the beginning Fletcher tried to be invisible and not to disturb the manor's life, but Harry often stopped him with his questions and Fletcher loved to explain. He was an excellent lecturer, his explanations were clear and easy to understand. He first had held prejudices towards Harry - he was Snape's son to him! - but the boy's kindness and curiosity softened his resistance and after a week he had agreed to talk to Snape as well.
Prejudices... After the first few days Harry had realised that the greatest battle he would have to fight would be against the prejudices. Everybody was reluctant to speak to him first, then they were taken aback by Harry's behaviour, then they were suspicious of him... Always the same sequence...
"I'm not my father, for God's sake!" he said to Fletcher when they had talked the second time. "And even he has changed, can't you see?"
And there were the Weasleys too, and Sirius... Well, he finally managed to break through some walls of the good, old prejudices, but it was not easy and sometimes he felt it too exhausting and meaningless. He had his own demons to fight, his own nightmares and memories, and he hated that he had to earn everybody's confidence again.
But after two weeks the manor's atmosphere had begun to lose its tension: Fletcher was invited to the common meals, there were more and more conversations not only between Harry and Black or Fletcher, but between Snape and the other two. There was more laughter too, and Anne had begun to accept the other adults, especially Black.
And now, they were going on a trip together. They were walking and talking in pairs: Black transformed into his usual animagus form and he was running up and down with Anne alongside the water, Snape and Fletcher were discussing the manor's defence system during the school year and McGonagall joined the nervous Harry to ask him about his previous studies.
So he had to lie again.
"I attended a muggle school, madam," he answered the first question politely.
"Does that mean that you've never learned anything about magical society?" she seemed surprised.
"No, of course not. My father always hoped that he could have custody of me, so he taught me and gave me books to read and study for years. However, I believe that I can't be in the sixth year since I haven't done my OWLs yet."
"Oh, I remember! You are 16, aren't you?"
His age was a lie too. He hated it. But at least he looked like 16, or more. It was a comforting thought: he wasn't handsome, but at least he didn't look like a child anymore.
"I think you will be in the fifth year and if you need we can organise tutoring for you too..."
"No, thanks," Harry smiled. "I don't think I need to be tutored any further..."
"Your father does his best to tutor you, doesn't he?" McGonagall's eyes twinkled in amusement. "He was a brilliant student once..."
"I know," Harry muttered annoyed and he hoped that Quietus wouldn't be the next to be mentioned as the best student ever.
His hope was in vain.
"And his brother was the best student of the century, I must say," McGonagall smiled at the annoyed Harry. "So I don't think you will have problems in your studies. The Snapes always were amongst the best students, as you surely know, many of them were in Ravenclaw and even your father could have been there. I hope you will be put there when you are sorted."
Harry snorted in frustration. He - in Ravenclaw!
McGonagall, to his utmost amazement, didn't hold any prejudices against his father and him, at least Harry thought at first. But now he could see that even the stern professor had her own expectations towards him. Well, they weren't prejudices but the expectations weren't any better. Harry was VERY grateful that McGonagall didn't know about his true parentage: two Ravenclaw parents, one of them the aforementioned celebrity of the century... Harry shuddered. His results weren't too bad, but then again, he wasn't a genius. Not at all. In his case the saying 'like father like son' wasn't true . He wasn't a brilliant student and - despite the fact that the wizarding world would never believe it - he wasn't powerful either. Unlike his father.
He survived Voldemort's first attack because of his mother's sacrifice, he survived Quirrell's attack because of the same, he survived the young Tom Riddle's attack because of Fawkes' help, he survived Voldemort's resurrection because of his wand's core and finally he survived the captivity because of Severus' help and a life debt. He was lucky and protected by others. If he had been more clever or powerful perhaps everything would have happened in another way...
"I don't think I will be as excellent a student as my father or his brother were," he summarised his thoughts. "I've never exceeded in anything in my life. I'm afraid I won't be able to fulfil your expectations."
McGonagall turned her glance to him and Harry was taken aback when he saw sadness in her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Mr Snape," she sighed. "I think your situation is hard enough without my expectations. But, you know, it will be hard for us, teachers, to treat you otherwise. You look like your uncle, your name is the same..."
"Sometimes I wish I'd never made this decision," his throat felt thin and dry and his voice was hoarse. Harry knew that Dumbledore told McGonagall his 'story' and despite the fact that he referred to his invented situation, the sentence fit perfectly even his real situation, and even though he hadn't had any other choice he sometimes regretted it. Like now.
McGonagall put a hand on Harry's arm. He tried not to wince.
"It won't be easy, I know. But you have to know you have a wonderful mentor and supporter and I'm sure with his help you can do it."
Harry was surprised. Did McGonagall praise Snape?
"Do you mean Se... my father?" he asked and when she nodded he added, "You are the first person who thinks so highly of him..."
McGonagall's eyes were now pointed at the sea.
"Many assume to know him by his appearance and manners."
'Like I did,' Harry thought guiltily.
"And many judge him by one wrong decision he made when he was young."
'The Ministry, the Aurors... and he himself..." Harry agreed to himself.
"But, you know, those were hard times. There was war and many wizards were deceived by You-Know-Who. Many young man. And mostly the Slytherins who were always considered dark and evil. However, they are only too ambitious." McGonagall stopped and when Harry did the same she turned to him and looked at him seriously. "You know, I'm very grateful that your father is the head of the Slytherin House. He is a good man. Once he made a wrong decision. He regretted it and he was ready to accept his punishment. Nobody compelled him to do it. He did it by himself. And that is the thing many people never do: bear the consequences of their decisions. Many times people don't even confess to themselves that they are wrong in order to avoid guilt. Your father, on the contrary, was ready to accept the proper punishment and has carried the burden of guilt for almost two decades. He is a brave and trustworthy man but because of his guilt he turned out to be bitter and lonely," her gaze now became even more serious as she went on, "but now that his role is over and you live with him, he, perhaps, has one more chance to live the normal life he deserves."
Harry felt numb and shocked. He was never treated this way... like an adult, by his teachers, and he had never seen this side of the stern Transfiguration professor either. Well, he had never suspected that she liked the head of the Slytherin house.
"When he told me his story I told him almost the same that you said just now to me. But he didn't agree with me. I think he will never forgive himself," he said when he found his voice. "He says that everybody hates him and he deserves it. When I try to convince him that he is not right, he always protests..."
It was true. Harry felt clearly that Snape was uncomfortable with his present situation. He was almost happy and he felt guilty over his happiness. 'I don't deserve to be happy,' he used to say Harry. 'But you can't throw me away fortunately," was Harry's answer, 'and I will compel you to be happy.'
McGonagall smiled sadly.
"I suspect he won't be over it. Ever."
"I think he consider his work a deserved punishment too..."
"Well... he is a brilliant Potions Master, one of the best. But he doesn't like teaching - and to tell you the truth he is not a good teacher. He has no patience for the children and he doesn't like to repeat himself..."
"But why is he teaching then? The punishment...?"
"No," McGonagall smiled slightly. "Because the Headmaster asked him to teach, and he needs him as the head of Slytherin. However, I think it was a mistake to send him back to spy after all those years of teaching. His work at Hogwarts endangered his role amongst the Death Eaters. I think that was the main reason that You-Know-Who uncovered him, for which I'm very grateful, as I said, but he could have died like Harry..."
Harry didn't know how to react so he just stood in silence.
"I suppose he has told you about him, hasn't he?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably.
"Er... he generally refuses to talk about him..."
McGonagall, to Harry's chagrin, seemed ready to talk.
"He was in my house, you know," she smiled as she remembered. Harry blushed and pointed his gaze to the ground. "He looked like his father but he wasn't like him otherwise. He was much more serious, sensitive and talented. Like his mother..."
"Talented?" Harry blinked incredulously.
"Yes," McGonagall answered and smiled. "He could have been one of the best students, but he was always involved in too many things simultaneously..."
Harry didn't dare to lift his head. He was positive that even his ears were bright red in embarrassment.
"But it wasn't his fault," the professor continued not noticing Harry's blush, "He fought the first battle in the upcoming war..."
"Minerva, Quiet?" it was Snape. Harry couldn't help but sigh in relief. "Sorry for interrupting your conversation, but we are going home."
"Sure, Severus," McGonagall smiled at him. "It's getting late."
"Quiet, Quiet, look what I found!" a very excited Anne showed her tiny and extremely dirty palms to Harry. She had a handful of sea-shells. "Aren't they beautiful?"
"They are," Harry answered red-faced as he noticed the two adults looking at him smiling.
"This one I bring to you!" the girl wasn't aware of Harry's discomfort and gave him the greatest shell. "Do you like it?"
Harry mumbled something in return.
"Good," Anne nodded and poured her palms' content into her pockets then grabbed Harry's hand. "Uncle Severus said that we have to go home now."
McGonagall shot a curious glance at Snape who blushed slightly and turned to leave. Harry smirked in satisfaction. But his good mood didn't last long. The four adults walked together and left Harry and Anne behind. First the girl was chattering happily, but after a while her steps became slower and tottering and the distance between the two groups began to grow.
Harry felt something akin a panic emerging in his chest. He hated to be left behind. He tried to increase their speed but Anne was too tired to walk faster.
"Pick me up?" she stopped after a while. "I'm so tired..."
Harry got frightened. And he felt sick.
No, it was not about the girl, but about himself. He touched Anne if it was necessary and sometimes embraced her shoulders too, but he was always cautious not to let her touch him, or at least not longer than a few seconds.
He couldn't handle physical. He couldn't handle being touched, not to mention being hugged, except for Severus. He was now studying how to cope with little touches, how not to wince or jump, how not to cry in protest.
Another reminder of the summer's hell.
He had realised it on the first day when Anne had tried to hug him, he had almost gone black. Some days later Sirius had touched his shoulder from behind to invite him to dinner and he had jumped and cried in fear and turned the coffee-table over. Sirius had been appalled by his little stunt show, but he had never touched him again. And later Fletcher...
Harry felt dizzy and nauseous.
"I can't..." he whispered weakly.
"Please," she begged him and his mouth curved down. Harry felt nervous. He didn't want the girl to cry. He pretended not to notice her bad mood and went on holding her hand. Anne finally didn't cry, but after some minutes she seemed to fall asleep walking. They stopped again. He glanced at the adults desperately and he knew that he had to solve this problem alone. It would be simply too strange if he cried for help just because he didn't want to lift the girl up...
He sighed and picked her up. She smiled and wrapped her dirty arms around Harry's neck and closed her eyes in satisfaction.
Harry, however, wasn't pleased. He struggled not to notice the arms around his neck, the body pressing against his scars and bruises and the general unpleasant and nauseous feeling of being touched. He felt quite unwell. Not to mention the fact that he hadn't regained his former strength after the long captivity, and he had never been a strong boy before. But he did his best nevertheless.
He wanted to cry. To vomit. To throw the girl down. But he didn't do it. He was tottering, but he went on.
It was Snape who noticed him being left behind. When he glanced around and saw Harry he became frightened and guilt shone in his eyes. He knew intimately Harry's new phobia of being touched and was aware of his general physical condition too not to mention the memories of being left behind... Without a word he turned on his heel and ran to the tottering boy. The other adults glanced after him questioningly.
By the time he reached Harry, the boy was on the very edge. Snape took the sleeping girl from him.
"Are you alright?" Worry swirled in his eyes.
Harry inhaled and he felt better instantly.
"Yeah," he answered. "Thanks."
"It was my fault," Snape shook his head.
Harry just waved with his hand dismissively.
"What was that for?" Black asked as they reached the others.
"Quiet had a broken leg this spring. I don't want him to overstrain himself," Snape answered in a neutral tone.
Harry was amazed that Snape reacted so quickly and naturally. Well, those years of spying... So Harry nodded at Black confirming the explanation and they went on.
Harry sighed. He wasn't ready for the future.
He said the same that night when Snape shook him out of his nightmare.
"I don't want to go to school. I'm not ready," he gulped and he added whispering, "I don't know if I will ever be ready ..."
"You will," Snape sat on the bed next to him.
"But surely not by September..."
Severus didn't answer. He thought the same, but he didn't know whether it was wise to tell Harry or not. But this time Harry didn't stop at this point.
"I'm serious, Severus. I can't cope with it. Please, figure out something..."
"But... I don't know what would be wise..." Snape muttered hesitantly.
"I want to stay with you," Harry said, but he avoided looking at him.
"But it's against school rules. You have to be sorted and stay in your house's quarters."
"I can't do it, Severus, don't you understand? Not even in Gryffindor. What will they say if they notice my scars? What will they say if they notice my phobias? What will they say if I wake them up every night with my nightmares? And what will I do then in the dark? Shriek in panic? Cry? Sob?" Harry shook his head. "I can't do it. And I don't want to try it either. I will stay with you or you can send me to St. Mungo's directly." Harry sat up trembling. "I hate my damned weakness!" he yelled desperately. "I'd like to live like everyone else does but I always have something to remind me that I'm not normal," he added and tears flew down his cheeks.
Snape pulled him to his chest and caressed his back kindly.
"We will find a solution, I promise," he said calmly. "I will speak to Albus, okay?"
Harry just nodded, but didn't say a word. He was struggling against a sob.
"I hate that I'm so blasted weak..." he muttered with clenched teeth.
"You're not weak, Harry..."
"Don't call me that name!" Harry cried angrily. "We have to get used to my new name and YES! I'm damned weak..." he lost his internal battle as sobs shook his body.
"The things we went through would be enough to drive anyone else mad for the rest of their life. You survived it, you cope with things brilliantly, really..."
"I hate myself," Harry grabbed the blanket and clenched his fist so that his fingers turned white. "I hate that I can't sleep through a night, that I can't handle a simple touch, that I can't stop wincing if I hear a loud voice, that I can't eat normally, that I have no strength, that I look like a freak with the cuts and scars all over my body, that I can't pull off a simple T-shirt if I don't want them to be seen... And hate the prejudices I have to fight every time I meet someone and I lost my friends and I don't want to live anymore!"
He curled into a ball and pressed his head against Snape's chest. He didn't answer, just rubbed his back softly. It took almost a half an hour for Harry to calm down.
"Sorry," he mumbled finally, "But I'm so scared..."
"We'll find a solution, believe me..."
Snape released him cautiously, stood up and opened the windows. The warm, August air entered the room. He stopped for a moment to inhale deeply and he heard Harry's bare footsteps nearing.
"Put on your slippers, you will get cold."
"Yes, father," Harry said in mocking obedience. He sat on the window's sill. Without slippers. He looked into Snape's eyes. "I know that I sounded like a stupid, little child, but I was serious, Severus. I can't cope with it. Not yet."
"The day after tomorrow we will leave to Hogwarts to get prepared for the school year. I will talk to Dumbledore I promise."
Harry pulled his legs up to his chest.
"TWO SNAPES! Good Lord!" Peeves' voice filled the whole Great Hall. "HELP! The greasy git decided to bring his carbon copy with himself!" He smirked evilly. "It's not enough for the poor students that the heir of Slytherin, the great Harry Potter has died, they have to face TWO Snapes!" The ghost pretended to faint.
Harry would have laughed his head off over Peeves' show if it hadn't been HIM the poltergeist was babbling about. He was NOT a carbon copy of Severus!
Snape stopped as he saw the giggling ghost and folded his arms smiling in a threatening manner.
"Quiet," he winked at Harry. "Do you want to see something interesting?"
Harry nodded expectantly. Since Lupin's simple spell with the chewing gum he had never seen anybody able to drive the poltergeist away.
Snape pulled his new wand out from his belt and waved towards him.
"Gelasmus," he said clearly.
Suddenly, Peeves' laughter became harder and seemingly uncontrollable.
"Hehehehehe, Snape hehehe..." he said suffocating of laughter. "stop it hehehehe..."
But Snape was just standing and staring at him intensely.
"Hehehe please... hehehe."
Harry could see the ghost fight to regain self-control, but he couldn't.
"This will last at least four hours... You DID know the consequences," Snape said and waved to Harry. "Let's go."
"And him?" Harry looked at the laughing ghost. "What did you cast on him?"
"It's a simple but very powerful spell against him. It increases his laughter into fits for hours... Its duration depends on his previous level of amusement. If you cast this spell on a sad person it does nothing. It only affects people who are happy or laughing."
"I want to learn it," Harry smiled from ear to ear.
Snape's face turned serious.
"You have to be careful with that spell, Quiet. It can kill a living person. Peeves, of course, won't die. But you just can't throw it on anybody..."
"It's a pity you can't kill Voldemort with that spell."
They smiled slightly.
"Well, you would have to wait for years to find him happy or laughing," Snape nodded finally and they went on their way to the dungeons.
It seemed to be the ghosts' day: first they met Sir Nicholas who greeted them bobbing his head (he didn't ask anything, perhaps because of the house rivalry), and in the dungeons the Bloody Baron was waiting for them.
"Welcome back, Severus," he bowed his head.
"Good to see you, Saevus," Snape returned the greeting. "Let me introduce my son, Quietus," he put his hand at Harry's shoulder.
"Pleased to meet you, sir," Harry mumbled shyly.
"Saevus Malingus Noblestone," the Bloody Baron said and turned to Snape. "I'm happy to see that the Snape family line doesn't end with you. I was really worried about it. I never suspected you had a son. He is like your brother, Severus."
"Indeed, Saevus," the Potions Master bowed politely. "I had to keep his mere existence a secret if I didn't want to endanger him."
"Let the Dark Lord reach him," the professor explained.
"I've heard the news about you spying on the Dark Lord for Dumbledore, Severus," the ghost's face darkened. "I wasn't too pleased."
"It's my life and my responsibility to make the right decision," Snape smiled at the menacing figure. "The question now is about your loyalties."
"I'm loyal to the Slytherin House, you know."
"Slytherin House or Slytherin's Heir?"
"You want me to make a decision?"
"You've already done so, I believe."
Harry was amazed at Severus' calmness and polite manner. The ghost was menacing and seemed extremely evil and powerful. He wouldn't have dared to speak to him like Snape did.
"My bloodline is more important to me than Slytherin's, you know. But I'm still not pleased."
"It was Slytherin's Heir who killed my brother."
"I changed sides then."
There was long pause.
"I see," the ghost finally answered. "Well, I have to go now. We'll meet later, Severus. Quietus," he nodded to them and left.
"What was that?" Harry glanced at Snape.
"That speech about bloodlines and heirs."
"Oh, that!" Snape smiled widely. "Saevus is one of my ancestors from my mother's side. My mother was a Noblestone."
"Hell of an ancestor..." Harry muttered under his breath. "He was a dark wizard, wasn't he?"
"He is your ancestor as well, Quiet. And to answer your question: yes, of course," Snape's smile didn't disappear.
"That is the reason why his robes are bloody, isn't it?" that was the question Harry wanted to ask since he had begun his studies in Hogwarts.
"No," Snape shook his head. "He was a dark wizard, and a Slytherin at that, as was almost every Noblestone. But he died defending his family against the actual Dark Lord of his time."
Harry's eyes widened in realisation.
"So THAT is the reason he forgave you..."
"He liked Tom Riddle when he was a student here," the professor added, his eyes glittering with thoughts. "But the only thing Saevus will never accept is his offspring's extermination."
"What does his name mean?" Harry asked finally.
"Alright, alright," Harry shrugged and followed Snape to his door behind the Slytherin dormitories.
They stopped in front of it.
"Give me your hand, Quiet," Snape turned to Harry who reached out curiously. Snape carefully held his index finger and pressed it to the door where there was a little, white dot and muttered a few words. "Now you can enter whenever you want, you just have to press this dot with your index finger. Try it!"
Harry pushed the dot and the door swung open.
"Well," Snape sighed heavily. "I think we have to make some arrangements for you."
It took several hours to make the arrangements, it was dinner time when they finally finished their work.
"We will eat in the Great Hall with the staff members."
Snape's announcement scared Harry.
"You mean... with the other teachers?" he asked timidly.
"What a hell of a day..."
"Ha... Quiet you have to get used to being amongst people. But I think this evening there won't be too many teachers..."
"Let's go then."
"Don't forget: you don't know them."
"I know," Harry snapped angrily. "I'm not stupid."
"Quiet!" Snape seemed angry now. First time in weeks. Harry lowered his head.
"Sorry, Severus," he mumbled. "But I'm pretty nervous."
"Me too," he smiled lightly and put his hand to Harry's shoulder. "But don't forget: I'm with you. Okay?"
Snape was wrong. All the members of the staff were already in the Great Hall (naturally except for Professor Binns who didn't need to eat and Trelawney whose Inner Eye surely forgot to alert him about the interesting news). All the members: that meant that the new defence teacher too.
It was a woman, Harry could see from behind: she wore long hair in a ponytail. She was the first who heard them entering the hall and turned around first.
It was Mrs Figg.
THAT Mrs Figg.
He did his best to pull himself together. He pretended to be too shy and he followed Snape two steps behind.
By the time they reached Snape's usual chair everybody had noticed them.
"Welcome, Severus!" Dumbledore rose from his chair. "Nice to see you, and Quietus, you look well!"
Harry forced a smile not understanding the Headmaster's remark about his appearance. He didn't look well, he was still thin and pale and full of problems...
"May I introduce your son, Severus?" Dumbledore turned to Snape who nodded in consent.
"Of course, Headmaster," he said politely.
At this point every gaze was pointed towards them. Harry winced and stepped forward bumping into Snape.
"So...sorry," he mumbled. He wanted to flee or to hide at least, he hated those gazes full of curiosity and surprise as if they were attacking him. Snape placed a hand on his shoulder and grasped it reassuringly. Harry could hear somebody gasp in surprise.
"Dear colleagues, as you heard Severus has given me the opportunity to introduce his son to you, so I will: he is Quietus Snape, he is 16 and he lived in the muggle world until this summer. Regarding the past events, Severus decided to take custody and introduce him into the wizarding world since Quietus is a wizard, a very strong and talented one," he smiled at Harry who turned red. "Minerva has already spoken to him and since he hasn't taken his OWLs, which are essential in our world, he will be in the fifth year. And," he now glanced at his colleagues, "I ask you to help him to find his place in our community. He is not eleven, so the changes will have a greater effect on him than on the little children in their first year."
Many of the teachers nodded and the expressions turned from curious to sympathetic, which was an immense relief for Harry. Dumbledore seemingly finished his introduction and ushered Harry and Snape towards the table. Harry gave a seat between the Potions Master and Professor Flitwick who abruptly turned to him.
"I'm happy to meet you, Mr Snape," he cast a wide smile at Harry. He froze. Flitwick was the Head of the Ravenclaw House, so this opening sentence could lead the conversation easily to Quietus Snape, his father, and his unimaginable talents on the study field... And he wasn't wrong again. "I hope, with this name, Mr Snape," he now winked, "you'll be a member of my house just like your uncle was."
Here it comes.
"You know, he..." professor Flitwick opened his mouth and a long story began.
Harry politely tried to take a part in the conversation, nodding and saying 'uhm...', 'really...', and 'unbelievable...' and to eat something in the same time under Snape's attentive gaze. He wasn't hungry and the Charms professor's speech about his father destroyed what little appetite he still had. So he was barely eating again, and he wasn't surprised when he heard Snape whispering into his ear.
Harry cast a nervous glance at him and grinned.
"...and your father too," professor Flitwick meanwhile finished a sentence, of which the first half was totally unknown to Harry. "Don't you think?"
"Yes, indeed, sir," he answered politely however he had no idea what the professor was asking about.
"I was sure."
Harry reached for his pumpkin juice, his stomach churned in unease. What was he getting into again? And this time he would be alone: neither Ron nor Hermione were with him.
"Quiet? I think it's time to go. This has been a long day," he could hear Snape excusing them and leading him away from the table and the teachers. When they reached the corridor he stopped.
"Are you alright?"
"Let's go then."
When they were finally seated comfortably on the chairs positioned in front of the fireplace Snape went on.
"You have to eat something. You ate hardly anything for dinner, didn't you?"
Harry didn't answer, he crossed his arms in front of his chest and his face darkened.
"What did Flitwick say?" Snape asked after a while.
"The usual speech about your brother's and your exceeding talent, and he shared with me his expectations of me being a member of his house. The Ravenclaw House! My God!" Harry yelled angrily. Then he lowered his head. "It was much easier being James Potter's son."
"What's the problem, Ha... Quiet?" Snape seemed stunned. "He didn't offend you, did he?"
"Then somebody else hurt you?"
"NOBODY hurt me!" Harry stood up facing the bedroom. "I am going to bed."
"Quiet. Stop," Snape's voice sounded annoyed. "What the hell is with you?"
"Nothing," Harry answered and left the room.
He was already in the bed curling into a ball, covering his head with the blanket when he felt somebody sitting on his bed.
"Leave me alone," he muttered.
Snape was helpless. This was the first time since their captivity that Harry had refused his help. And in reality he couldn't figure out what Harry's problem was. He just stared at the curled up teen pondering what to do. He was sure he couldn't leave him alone. He sighed and dragged the blanket from the boy.
"Leave me alone," he cried frustrated and grabbed it.
Snape hugged him.
"I'm not a baby to be pampered," Harry protested in frustration and jumped out of his embrace. "I'm a 15-year-old boy, for God's sake!"
Harry stood on the other side of the bed, his arms crossed again, and he glared at Snape.
"I know, Harry. I'm just trying to help you." His voice was now guarded and calm.
They were looking at each other. Harry saw Snape's exasperation and a kind of... helplessness on his face, like the one he wore when Harry was tortured... The memories came again. Harry sank down to his knees and leaned his head on the bed. In the next moment Snape was kneeling alongside him.
"Are you alright?"
He didn't dare to touch the boy.
Harry said nothing just turned to him and wrapped his arms around his chest.
"Sorry," he mumbled.
Snape made him sit on the bed.
"Care to tell me what your problem is?" he sat next to him.
"My 'old life' was simpler. People just treated me as a hero, but nothing more. But now... I'm your son and... many hold prejudices against me... and the others hold expectations. Flitwick and the professors expect me to be as brilliant as you were with your... my father. Dumbledore expects me to be as powerful as he, I mean Quietus was." Harry lifted his gaze and their eyes locked. "But I'm not so clever and certainly not so powerful. I'm just... a simple boy. Nothing unique."
Snape smiled slightly.
"You are not a simple boy, Quietus."
"However you are just as insolent as you were. I AM speaking. Don't interrupt me!"
Snape crossed his arms and cast a serious glance at him. He tilted his head forward and his oily hair curtained his face. He was now so alike the infamous Potions professor Harry had known from classes that he had to grin madly.
"Perhaps you aren't as clever as people expect you. Perhaps you aren't as powerful as Dumbledore hopes. But you are NOT a simple boy."
"It was you who helped me back to life again," Snape's smile widened as he saw Harry's surprised look. "And I don't think anyone else could have done this."
Harry's eyes twinkled and in the next moment he jumped at Snape and threw him down to the bed and pinned his opponent's shoulders to it firmly.
"Words, professor," he smirked at the grinning man evilly. "You were PRETTY alive during the past years, if I remember correctly."
"Living and existing are different things..."
"Oh... You sound so serious... I think one who can give detentions and deduct points is perfectly alive."
"What do you want?"
"Of living. And not of existing."
"Your point is?"
"Don't torment students. Don't deduct points. Don't scowl. Don't sneer. Smile. Be kind. Help."
"WHAT?" a tremendous shriek shattered the room. "ME? SMILE? BE KIND? HELP? And my reputation?"
Harry shrugged in return.
"I don't mind."
"But I do. Kill me now instead!"
They burst into laughter. When they calmed down Harry smiled at Snape.
Next: perhaps only Saturday again? I hope I can upload in Wednesday as I used to, but I'm afraid I won't. Well, check it. Perhaps. I promise I'll try it. Okay? I had a rough week and I will have another rough one in row. *shudders*
And good luck for the exams! ;-)