Harry & Hermione
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enahma - Coming off the Ropes
Chapter 13 - Falling
Betaed by Barbara
Thank you for your patience. I have a hard time in writing this chapter. It's my favourite, however, I don't know, why. I like it.
Thank you for your reviews. You told me you will read my story whatever was written in the 5th book for I'm really grateful.
Thank you for your advises, ideas, counsels. You help me a lot.
About the questions: I hope all will be answered in the end.
And, yes. There will be a sequel, most definitely. That will be the last part of my story.
Chapter 13 - Falling
The 31st of July 1975
If you read these lines it means that you are my son (or my daughter) and I'm dead. It's really strange to write down all this, but I'm sure you can understand my fluster. It's like leaving behind a good-bye letter after a suicide, and I never wanted to commit suicide, so I've never written a good- bye letter either. All in all it means I have no practice in it. So, please forgive me my embarrassment and the perhaps sometimes disturbing entries, I'm writing this to leave something behind if my suspicions come true.
So, my dear offspring (oh, my God, I nearly can't believe I wrote down that word!) I hope this diary would help you to know and to understand the things about you and me, if you ever read this.
Generally, I consider myself a sober and serious man ('boy' perhaps would be better considering my age) and this diary is certainly the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. But since my thoroughly belittled professor, Ms. Trelawney made her prediction to me I can't help thinking about it again and again, and having some suspicions about its (and her) sincerity I've finally decided to take this move, to write a diary.
Perhaps it's silly and I'm doing this only for myself, but I have an unsure feeling that it's the best decision I could make now.
So I begin this diary with her prediction to let you understand what I'm babbling about.
It happened on my Divination exam in the end of my 4th year. I was sitting in front of her staring into a glass sphere and I was forcing myself to see something in it, when she suddenly fell un(sub?)conscious and went into a trance. Her voice became slow, deep and totally unrecognisable, and she seemed not to be herself. I've never seen her like that before.
She said (I'm quoting her words as precisely as I can):
'Through death, you will give life; by your love, your beloved will defeat your enemy. But the Dark Lord will be back when his time will come and your offspring has to face death to eliminate him and to remain.'
I'm not entirely sure what she (or her prophecy) is suggesting to me, but I have the evil foreboding that it means nothing good. There is too much death in it and I really don't like that Voldemort's defeat is on my beloved's (and my offspring's - so on your) shoulders. I'd eliminate him personally, it would be really good, but these words don't seem to give me a chance for it.
I suspect that they talk about my death and I'm not so keen on this idea. I'm 15 and a half year-old in this moment and I hope that this prophecy is about my old age, when I will have a wife and children. But I don't believe my wishes. It seems that I will die young, and I will leave a widow and at least one child behind, and it scares me near to death. I don't want to die.
In case of my suspicions turn out right, I leave behind this diary too, with a letter to Severus (I hope he will survive my death) to give it to you to make me known and understood by you, my late offspring. However, I hope I can know you personally and all this diary stuff will be unnecessary.
I'm afraid that this prophecy isn't too pleasurable for you either, Trelawney's last word - and I'm regrettably sure I remember perfectly it - was 'remain' instead of the soothing and calming 'live', which indicates to me your inevitable doom too, though I hope I'm wrong about it. I don't want anybody to die except from the Dark Lord himself, and I fervently hope, the old bat was wrong and her prophecy was a perfect failure.
I hope. 'And hope maketh not ashamed' as is written in the muggle Bible somewhere.
I'm not ashamed for I don't want to die. But I try to accept it when its time will come.
Severus would say that I'm a fool if he read this, and perhaps he is right.
I'm a fool; I was always a fool, in my whole life, an oddball in my family, in my house, and in my year. I'm now a would-be-fifth year Ravenclaw from Hogwarts. I have no real friends in the school, except for Lily, but she is a partner rather than a friend, I think. I have an older brother, a snarky and untidy fellow, a would-be-last year Slytherin, Severus. We have two parents, who don't really love us, they only want us to join their Dark Lord and follow their stupid and evil ways.
I hope your situation is better. You have more friends and your family (your mother, so my wife - oh, how strange to write that down!) is treating you better than my parents treat me. I'm sure that Severus adores you, as he is strangely but strongly obsessed with me. I can understand him; I love him too. He is a wonderful, but silly person, you can always count on him, he will be always there for you, even if he seems a little unfriendly sometimes.
I enchanted this book so that only my offspring and I could read it. It seems a simple, empty book, which shows its secret to you only when you open to read it. It's a useful charm I've learned from Lily. You should know her, she is a natural in Charms! So, nobody else can read it. Just the two of us.
I don't know what more to write. You will know the other details of my life from the next entries, so I finish here for now.
Your father (this is entirely ridiculous!): Quietus.
Harry lowered the diary. He read the first entries for the third time, but he still felt that it scared him to death, just like it had scared Quietus.
Trelawney's prophecy was too horrendous. Not to mention Quietus's explanation of it. And Quietus had explained the first half, which had referred to him, correctly. He had suspected that he would die young and he had been right. He had suspected he would leave a child behind him, and he had been right. It meant that he could be right when he assumed that his offspring would die too.
When Severus, for the first time had told him about the prophecy, in the dungeons of Nightmare Manor, Harry had come to the conclusion that its 'face death' part had meant their capture and escape there. Now he had the horrible feeling that he had been wrong. This 'facing death' thing was still ahead of him.
Harry sighed and closed the diary. He decided that was enough for now, and he would re-read these entries sometimes later, and he would research the meaning of prophecies and divinations in the library as soon as he could find time. And he would find time: this was about his life and death; he had to be as sure as possible about it.
He even decided not to mention it to Severus since he would be freaked out by this revelation, and perhaps it's totally wrong, so why to bother him with stupid suppositions like these.
He put the book back in his bag, next to his schoolbooks, and took out his potions homework essay to check it again. It was as long as Severus had required about the magical and non-magical use of Chamomile in healing potions, boring stuff, but it helped to stop thinking about his nearing doom.
Chamomile. Healing potions. Potions. Severus. Nightmare Manor. Voldemort.
An agent in his surroundings. An agent amongst his friends.
Quietus was possibly right.
God! He would die. Perhaps before his 19th birthday. Before his father.
Concentrate on the essay! He thought to himself. There was no need to linger about blurry prophecies, which are made only by that pitiful bat of a Divination Professor!
But her prophecy was true. This prophecy was true. Even Dumbledore considered it as one.
Harry's hand shook.
It should be terrible for his father, his 15 year-old father, to come to this conclusion. Harry now could perfectly sympathise with him. Harry felt the same, or more so. He was 15 and a half years old like him, but Harry knew precisely who he was about to face.
Red eyes. Evil grin. Bony hands waving orders, thin white lips muttering satisfaction with his servants' pain-making work.
Severus, whining and whimpering under his curses. He, himself screaming in fear.
Harry didn't want to face him again. He didn't want to carry the burden. He was a just a boy. Nothing else. Why did the adults expect him to fulfil this extremely disgusting duty?
Harry covered his face into his hands and inhaled deeply.
No, he decided. Stupid questions wouldn't solve anything. He had to act. He had to study, to make himself ready for that day, to be able to face his enemy, his parents' murderer and wipe him from the earth once and for all.
Even if it was his doom, he had no other choice, but to meet it and fulfil it.
He clenched his teeth determinedly and forced his attention back to his essay. He must learn as much as he could. He couldn't know what and how would be useful in his decision.
"Quietus. Though I thought your marks couldn't be any better, your results in this month amaze me. You will take your OWLs with flying colours, I'm sure."
Harry was stunned as he turned his gaze to Severus. They were sitting in the Slytherin stand amongst the spectators waiting for the Gryffindor- Ravenclaw Quidditch match to begin. Harry was transfixed as he looked at the flying figure of Madam Hooch, it was Severus's voice that pulled him out of his daze.
"Huh?" he asked half-heartedly. It was the first Quidditch match he decided to see, he didn't even come to see Quidditch training either. The whole thing was still painful. He loved Quidditch. Flying was like breathing. He could feel free and light as air. He loved the challenge of the matches. The excitement, the slight fear. Now he came just because his classmates had asked him to come, especially Seamus, the new seeker.
He loved everything about the game and now he missed all of this badly. He missed the everyday practices too. He hated this lifestyle: sitting and reading without any sport, not because of his weight, but because of the lack of movement. In reality he did not even have weight problems, on the contrary, he was losing weight again. Fortunately, Severus didn't notice it, at least not yet and so he didn't question him about the relapse.
"I've said that I'm proud of you. Your marks are amazing," Severus smiled at him. "But why did you decide to sit next to me? Why didn't you go and sit with your friends?"
"Thanks," Harry smiled in return. "And for my sitting next to you: I find it safer. Anything could happen in a Quidditch match and I still don't know who is about to. hand me over to. you know who I'm talking about."
Severus looked at him.
"This is the first time you call him You-Know-Who."
"I didn't call him You-Know-Who, I only used a subordinate clause, as you know it perfectly," Harry said crossing his arms over his chest.
Severus raised an eyebrow.
Harry shook his head.
"Dad. You are mimicking professor Snape!"
Severus smirked and leaning forward he whispered into Harry's ears.
"I tell you a secret. I'm professor Snape."
"I don't believe you," Harry said. "You're much better than him."
"Really? Then detention to you for being impertinent to a professor," he leaned back. "Tomorrow."
"You can't be serious."
"I'm totally serious."
"With Filch? Hagrid? McGonagall?"
"No," Severus said seriously. "The potions tutoring is over for you two. Now, even Neville will be able to meet the exams' requirements so I don't find necessary to spend any more of my free time brewing stupid potions. Instead, you will help me brewing potions for Madam Pomfrey. Alright?"
Harry nodded. And something suddenly came to his mind.
Harry opened his mouth to ask his question, but in the next moment he couldn't hear his voice either. The players filed out of the locker room walking towards Madam Hooch, who was refereeing. She stood in the middle of the field waiting for the two teams, her broom in her hand.
Harry couldn't hear her words, but he knew them by heart. She asked the players for a fair game and ordered them to mount their brooms. They did it.
Then Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle and the game began.
Once again, Jordan was doing the commentary for the match with McGonagall's usual corrections.
Harry just waved to Severus and trying to out bellow the crowd he shouted 'Later!' to him. Severus nodded and they turned their attention to the pitch.
The first person Harry saw was Cho and he felt his heart stopping. He hadn't thought of her for months, he didn't even notice her in this year. Suddenly, he felt embarrassed and guilty. It was just too easy for him to forget her - after all he did to her with Cedric's death. Harry shut his eyes and trembled slightly. He couldn't hear Jordan's commentary either. The whole world turned numb for him, and he regretted coming to see the match. He didn't want to be there. And he didn't want to be anywhere. This life was too much to bear. Harry'd like to lean on Severus for a little help and reinforcement, but the mere thought of it made him blush - he, leaning at Severus in the middle of the Slytherin crowd! What would it do to Severus's reputation? Not to mention Harry's, or better to say Quietus's reputation.
He forced his eyes open to see the match, avoiding, as much as it was possible, looking at Cho. Whenever his eyes caught her a new wave of guilt attacked him. 'Kill the spare!' and he felt he was unable to move. He loathed himself for his weakness. He opened his eyes and forced himself to watch the match again and again.
The Gryffindor team was as good as the last year. The Chasers were playing in total harmony, the two beaters, the Weasley twins were fast and precise, Seamus was searching for the snitch - however, he wasn't closely followed by Cho unlike Harry.
And Ron - Ron was flying in Harry's old Firebolt. Harry could feel his palms sweating. His feelings towards Ron had begun to change. He wasn't so sure he still wanted him as his friend. Was it Percy's fault? Or Ron's own? Harry couldn't answer his own questions. He just felt bitterness as he stared at his once-time friend.
Suddenly, their eyes met and locked. For a short moment, Harry thought that Ron would wave or smile at him, their looks were so intense. But then, Ron's expression changed into a sneer and Harry sensed the pure hatred behind it. Just beautiful. Ron, sitting on HIS broomstick and sneering at him. Life was beautiful, wasn't it?
Harry cast a glance at the Gryffindors who were standing and jumping in excitement. The match was very intense and balanced, Harry could see that the Seekers would determine the final result. The Slytherin house around him was shouting and bellowing as they supported aloud the Ravenclaw team. The only exceptions were Ares and Severus.
Harry still couldn't hear normally. He was only watching the match in a self-made silence as the Gryffindor chasers were passing the Quaffle between themselves, avoiding with graceful flying the Bludgers and the other team members.
A Bludger attacked Angelina, but she dodged it and George came and sent it towards a Ravenclaw chaser, who, in that moment, managed to grab the Quaffle and turned around quickly. The Bludger remained a little behind. George came again and beat it with full force.
Then it happened.
Ron's eyes were at the nearing Ravenclaw Chaser, his gaze fixed on the Quaffle in her hand. He was so deep in his concentration that he didn't notice the Bludger rushing towards him at full speed.
George shrieked something unintelligible, Fred covered his eyes with his hands.
Angelina shrieked, Seamus stared unblinking in horror.
Every noise stopped and the time seemed to stop or to slow down - the feeling made Harry remember the moment Peter Pettigrew cast the Killing Curse on him.
But now, Harry was already on his feet, his hand moving towards his belt where his wand was tucked.
The next moment the Bludger hit Ron's temple. He was almost abruptly covered with blood, fresh, bright red blood. A painful expression appeared in his friend's eyes, then the orbs lost their brightness and shut tiredly.
It was as if it happened in a dream or as if Harry saw a slow-motion film. Ron's hands released the broom, he lost his balance and he began to tumble down, the broom slipped from beneath him.
And all of a sudden, everything turned back in its normal state and motion.
Harry pulled out his wand and pointing at the falling figure, he bellowed from the top of his lungs:
It was always the first spell that came to his mind. Luckily. Ron's body now weaved in the air unmoving, just the dropping blood showed that there existed a phenomenon called gravity.
"You can release him, Quiet. The Headmaster is already taking care of him," Harry suddenly heard Severus's voice and felt his hand on his shoulder.
It took a long moment to understand what Severus said. He lowered his wand, slowly, but just when he saw Ron's body arriving onto the ground without falling, he could fully release his magical control over him. He collapsed to the seat in mild shock.
As Severus wrapped his arm around his shoulder, he could feel himself trembling wildly.
"Are you okay?" he heard the concerned voice again. He just nodded in response; he didn't trust his vocal chords yet.
They sat for a while unmoving, Severus holding Harry in silence. When he finally was able to stretch himself and open his eyes, the first thing he saw was Severus's red cheek. He let his stepfather go and cast a look at the strangely quiet surroundings.
Everybody in the school was looking at them. Everybody, without exceptions. Severus, with his usual glare and sneer tried - unsuccessfully - to compel them avert their gazes, but it had some effect only on the first years and the younger Slytherins, the others continued their numb-shocked staring at them.
"What are they looking at?" Harry whispered nervously.
"You. And me, obviously," Snape hissed in anger. Harry was glad that Severus's anger wasn't directed on him.
"But. why?" he gulped.
Severus looked at him seriously.
"You were extremely, unthinkably fast, Quiet. I've never seen anybody act so rapidly, not even the Headmaster. We were still under the shock of the happenings while you already were on your feet, your wand in hand and stopping Mr Weasley from falling. Everything happened in five or six seconds, not more."
Harry shook his head to clear it.
"For me it seemed much more. Almost minutes. Just like." Harry didn't continue as he noticed the still staring students and teachers. "Let's go. I hate being looked at so intensely. It makes me sick," and he jumped on his feet and hurried towards the stand's exit. Severus followed him.
His movement broke the silence. Loud noise filled the Quidditch field and the stands: questions and surprised remarks. Not just about Harry's fast reaction, but about their despised Potions Master's reaction too. Nobody had ever seen him touching anybody, not to mention embracing! He behaved like a human. Like any other human on this earth. Some students were scared to death. Others were in shock.
In reality there was only one person, except for the professors, who noticed Harry's speed of reaction. But she wasn't still on the Quidditch field. She was following his unconscious boyfriend towards the Infirmary behind Dumbledore.
Severus lifted his eyes to Harry standing in the other end of his desk.
"You wanted to tell me something. Before the match."
For an instant, Severus shut his eyes in thought.
"Oh. I remember now. I was just wondering about your marks."
"They are amazing."
Harry sighed and sat on the desk, despite Severus's disapproving look.
"Do you wonder why? I don't do anything, just study. I try not to spend too much time with my so-called friends, and you are always working. What could I do? I'm studying."
Severus sighed too.
"You try to avoid your friends because of the vision?"
Harry snored indignantly.
"You might say that."
They stared at each other, the sadness was almost tangible between them.
"I'm sorry, Ha. Quiet."
Harry didn't answer just took a photo in his hand. The photo was Severus's favourite, it stood in his desk always. They were in two in the photo, playing chess lost in thought, neither of them had noticed the Headmaster entering with the camera. Severus loved this picture, the figures in it were almost unmoving, their attention closely on the chessboard. It was so characteristic of them: the strong concentration, the serious expressions, the still and quiet movements. Harry was sure these were the main explanations of their nearly unperturbed and peaceful coexistence. Harry generally didn't disturb Severus, he spent his afternoons in the library, after dinner he helped him in his experimentations, then he was reading while Severus was marking essays or checking quizzes, and they had long and serious talks about serious topics, which were generated generally by Harry's studies.
And, sometimes, they played chess.
"I want to ask a favour from you," Harry sighed finally. Severus, who, in the meantime returned to his marking work, lifted his head in surprise waiting for Harry to continue. "I'd like you to teach me Dark Arts."
A sudden and total blow filled Severus's face and the man gaped several times before he could say a word.
"You heard me. I want to study Dark Arts."
"You won't," Snape said and he clenched his quill so strongly that it broke in two in his grasp. "I won't teach you Dark Magic. Never. And don't use this stupid 'Art' word. Dark Magic isn't an art. It's instead a weapon. A very disgusting weapon at that."
Harry's sneer deepened and he leaned forward.
"But I think I have to study it, you can call it what you want. I need to study it."
"Nonsense, Quiet. You don't need and that's it. I will never teach you Dark Magic. And I will never allow you to change schools, if you wanted to suggest that stupidity."
Harry swallowed and once again he considered carefully what he wanted to say - and especially, how.
"Look, Severus. I began reading Quietus's diary."
Snape suddenly released the broken quill and looked at Harry - in fear?
"How could you do it?"
"He wrote it to me."
His words' effect was immediate and thoroughly shocking. Severus's jaw fell, his eyes widened and they seemed like endless, black depths.
"It's impossible," he whispered. "He didn't know about you!"
"Exactly. He didn't know, but he began his diary after Trelawney's prediction. He assumed from it that he would have a child and in case of his death he wanted to let his child know him. He wrote he gave you a letter with it."
Severus shook his head, but he didn't say a word for a long time.
"No," he said finally. "He didn't give me any letter. Perhaps, because his death was too sudden, and he didn't know about you either. I've found it amongst his books, and I knew it's a diary, he was writing it for years, and I." Severus sighed aloud. "How could you read it? The writing was invisible."
"He charmed it with Li. my mother's help. Just he and I are able to read it."
"Bloody hell." Severus muttered. "How I hate all these secrets and prophecies!"
Harry cringed inwardly. He could perfectly agree with Severus, the prophecy, after all, suggested his own death too.
"He quoted her prophecy too. And it said that I'm the one supposed to defeat Voldemort."
"No." Severus's answer was immediate and severe.
"But yes. It says that 'your offspring has to eliminate him to remain'." It was a slightly edited version of the prophecy, as Harry didn't want to scare Severus with his possible death.
Severus dropped his head into his hands.
"Why you? Why always you? Why don't you get a little bit of peace, finally?"
Harry froze, then he smiled sadly.
"I'm the Boy-Who-Lived, remember? Hogwarts's newest celebrity! The son of the greatest Light wizard of the century!" his words were so utterly bitter that Severus blinked in confusion. He had never seen Harry so desperate before.
"I. I'm sorry, Harry."
"You don't need. It's not your fault. It's this life's fault. My doom's fault. I don't know whose fault is precisely, but surely NOT yours."
Severus nodded several times.
"So it's still on you to defeat him." Snape didn't wait for Harry's answer as he went on. "Alright then. I will teach you Dark Magic, but not practice. Just theory. I want you to understand it, but you can't intend me to turn you into a perfect Death Eater!"
"Will it be enough?"
"It must be enough. You can't defeat the dark with the dark. You can become the new Dark Lord by doing that. You have to defeat dark with light."
"So you can teach me to understand the nature of darkness."
"If you insist."
"Alright then, son. But I'm not happy with your decision."
"Neither am I. But I can't see any other chance."
The Infirmary was too bright and too antiseptic to Harry's taste. He hated the whole place with passion; he had spent a certain amount of time here every year.
He was moving slowly not to wake Ron up in case he was still asleep. He tiptoed to the only not empty bed, and as he moved closer, he could see a mop of red hair on the pillow.
It was Ron.
Harry cursed himself for the hundredth time for coming to disturb Ron, but he hoped that perhaps now they could finally make peace, at least a bit of peace, after Ron's unlucky falling stunt.
Harry knew precisely that everybody was aware of his rule in Ron's salvation, and he knew that Hermione had told Ron already what had happened two days ago in the match. (She had told him that Ravenclaw had won, because Cho had been the better Seeker of the two. Harry had smiled so proudly as if he had been Cho's boyfriend, or even Cho herself.)
His conversation with Hermione hadn't been too long, but she had thanked his fast reaction and his willingness to save the man who hated him with as much passion as Malfoy did. Harry hadn't said a word for a long while just sighed, but in the end he couldn't help opening his mouth.
"I did it for you, Hermione," he had said smirking evilly. "I've already told you that I don't want to date you. You are not my type. I prefer less intelligent girls."
Hermione's reaction had made his smirk even larger. She had put her hand on her hips in anger.
"I'd never date you even if you were the only male on this earth!"
"It's a real relief, my darling," Harry had bowed at her and both laughed.
Harry smiled as he thought of this conversation. Hermione was still one of his best friends.
He stepped closer to the bed, cautiously.
Ron stirred, he perhaps heard the soft footsteps and turned his head towards Harry's general direction. First he didn't recognise the tall, dark- haired wizard: the light was too bright and Ron needed some time to regain his eyesight, but just as his eyes acclimated to the brightness of the room, his expression, as always, turned to an ugly sneer.
"Oh, I see my saviour came to present the bill for his courageous deed," the red-haired boy sat up and cast a hateful look at Harry. "I'm sorry, I'm not grateful to you, little Sly. I know that I owe a life debt to you and I promise I'll try to repay it somehow, but don't think I'll ever change my opinion of you," he narrowed his eyes and hissed. "I don't know what are you up to precisely, but I'll never give you Harry's place even if everybody, including Hermione, does! Never!" he cried the last word exasperated and lay back. "You can go now, your filthy excuse of a human being. Leave me alone and never come back."
Harry was frozen on the spot. He couldn't move, he couldn't think, he felt as if his heart turned ice. He lifted his hand to interrupt Ron, he even opened his mouth, but he was entirely unable to say, to do anything.
"Mr Snape? Come, please," it was the McGonagall's voice. The old witch was standing in the door looking at the two enemies. "And twenty points from Gryffindor for your rude and uncalled words, Mr Weasley. I'd expect more from you."
Harry mumbled an uncertain 'bye' to Ron, but he didn't react, then he followed the billowing red robes, wondering if Severus had learnt this billowing stuff from the older woman. McGonagall leaded him to the Headmaster's office. The password was still Fudge, and Harry's uncomfortable feeling grew with every step he made.
He didn't want to be called a hero for his deed, he didn't want to be questioned about his spell-casting speed, all he wanted was to return to the dungeons to his books and read - or to brew a potion with Severus to sooth his painful nerves.
But there wasn't anything he was expecting in the office. There weren't questions and expectations, there was, on the other hand, a large group of red-headed people hugging him and shaking his hand happily.
But they were all very shocked, Harry assumed looking at their faces, just as he regained his consciousness. The bodily contact was too much all of a sudden, and he went black in Mrs Weasley's bear-hug, it was Hermione who saved his limp body from the woman's embrace and told them his reluctance to be touched with the help of the twins.
Finally, he sat up and looked at his first real and favourite family. There wasn't the whole family: Percy and Charles didn't come, but Fred and George were there grinning madly, Mr Weasley looked at him with mixed curiosity and acceptance, Mrs Weasley was still under the shock of Harry's reaction of her embrace, Bill eyed him warily, and the two girls smiled warmly.
All in all it wasn't too uncomfortable, Harry decided and attempted a light smile.
"So, Ronnicy was a git again," George said opening the conversation. Harry didn't answer, McGonagall, however, snorted loudly.
"After what I heard in the Infirmary some minutes ago, I think I can understand that fight you had with Mr Weasley in September, Mr Snape. Was it in the same manner?"
Harry just shrugged.
"We had our differences, madam," he said finally. "It's a thing between he and I, and I don't want to talk about it in his absence."
McGonagall raised an eyebrow.
"Really? Then meet me in my office Friday, after lunch. We'll have a talk together with Mr Weasley."
Harry frowned, but nodded. He wasn't thrilled with the professor's idea. That talk would only worsen the things between them, he was sure.
"We wanted to thank you for your. er. presence of mind," Mr Weasley said finally. "The twins told us you acted fast and without thinking. However, as I heard from them - and from the professor now - you aren't on good terms."
Harry chocked back a short laugh.
"That's, Mr Weasley, an understatement. However, I tried to dismiss his hatred many times, but he doesn't seem to forget me being a Snape," he crossed his arms and cast a sad look at the man.
"After what Percy did to you, you had every right to hate him and Ron, I guess," Fred added and the two adults blushed.
"Charles says hello," said Bill finally. "And we both want to apologise for Percy's and Ron's behaviour."
Harry lowered his hands and folded them in his lap.
"You don't need to. It was not your fault. And as for Ron's saving - I'd do it for anybody."
"Are you sure you're a Snape?" Bill asked suddenly, blinking significantly.
Harry turned red in anger.
"I AM a Snape, and if you wanted to say that my father is nothing but a filthy Death Eater, who deserved every torture he had to survive in his life, then I tell you, you are wrong!" Harry jumped on his feet, his face contorted in wrath. "Perhaps he isn't the nicest man in the world, but he isn't just a 'filthy pathetic excuse of a human being' as your precious brother says always of him and me too! He even saved Harry Potter's life many times, not to mention the people he saved as a spy! You don't have the right to make allusions and evil hints about him!"
"Quietus!" the Headmaster's serious word interrupted Harry's tirades. "Nobody wanted to hurt your father."
"Really?" Harry asked with an edge in his tone. "It seemed different to me," but he sat back and cast a last, despising glance at Bill.
"Sorry," he mumbled in embarrassment. "But you know."
"He knows," Hermione said suddenly. Everybody looked at her in surprise. "He once overheard my conversation with Ron, when he. he told me about your family," she gulped in fluster and closed her mouth.
The Headmaster and McGonagall looked at them quizzically.
"I don't think father knows that the Galvanys were your relatives," Harry said calmly. "When he spoke about them, he never mentioned it."
"It wasn't Thomas Galvany, but his wife. She was my sister," Mrs Weasley said sadly. "But they were Death Eaters. Both of them: Thomas and Nelly. I. I didn't want to tell Ron or the children. but they. deserved it in a way."
"But your sister. was a Gryffindor!" Ginny cried.
"It doesn't matter, really, dear," Mrs Weasley shook her head and his husband nodded approvingly. "You-Know-Who had and has followers from every house."
"They were killed because they were spies for the Ministry and Voldemort uncovered them."
"My dear, you don't need to excuse them," said Mrs Weasley calmly.
"I don't excuse them. I only repeat what I heard from Severus," Harry said and in some words he summarised what he heard some weeks ago.
Heavy silence fell to the room, when the door squeaked. Severus entered the office.
The silence became deeper and Snape stopped at the frame.
"Am I disturbing?" he asked after a long break.
It was Harry who stepped next to him.
"We are talking about the Galvanys," he said and he stood firmly at the Potions Master's side showing that he was ready to protect him in the possible quarrel.
But nobody said a word.
"They were Mrs Weasley's relatives," Harry continued finally. "This is the main reason for Ron's hatred."
Snape just nodded at Harry's words and looked unblinkingly at the Headmaster as if he was looking for help.
"Nobody blames you, Severus," Dumbledore said interrupting the long silence.
"I blame myself, Albus," Snape hissed, but didn't move.
"It was long ago. It wasn't your fault. They would have died in any case. They chose that path, they were adults and they should have known the consequences," Mrs Weasley's words were serious and firm.
"Their children were innocent," Snape stated tiredly.
"They would have died anyway," Mr Weasley said.
"It doesn't matter. I killed them, and not anybody else."
The words hit in the deep silence like stones.
"You atoned for your mistakes, Severus," Mrs Weasley sighed.
"I can never atone for my SINS, Mrs Weasley," Snape reacted, but he still didn't leave. Instead, he turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, I think it's time to give my resignation."
Harry felt his heart stop.
"Why, Severus?" he cried despairingly to the man.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to teach students when I killed their relatives. My only apology, Headmaster, is that I didn't know it," he looked resolutely at the old man.
There was silence again. But this time it was deeper and more disturbing than before.
Dumbledore looked at the shocked family, and finally it was Mr Weasley, who opened his mouth.
"I don't know what you are planning to do, Albus, but I want to take my comments." He looked at the Headmaster who nodded in consent. Mr Weasley went on. "First, we all owe an apology for both of you for my two sons' behaviour. What Percival did and what Ronald said are unforgivable, and neither of you did anything against them or my family, however, in my opinion you had every right to act. Second, you, Severus, saved many lives in the first war, and I remember it was you who warned us many times when You-Know-Who planned an attack on the non-loyal pureblood families. It's to your merit that we survived the first war. Third, we all are aware that you saved Harry's life many times, and Harry was for us like a family member to us, like my son," he stopped and inhaled deeply before he went on. "Anyway, if you leave the school now, you will be in danger and your son will be alone here, without your help. Not to mention that Dumbledore will have to find a qualified Potions Master in the middle of the school year whose loyalty is flawless and whose professionalism is suitable not only to teach but to brew the necessary potions for the Infirmary and the Order too."
Dumbledore smiled at the man and turned to Severus.
"Arthur is right, Severus. I can't accept your resignation. Not now, anyway. We need you here at least until the war will be finished."
"So you want me to stay here till the end of my days, Headmaster?"
Dumbledore chuckled, and even some of the Weasleys smiled.
"Aren't you a little pessimistic, my friend?"
Severus cringed slightly, but he didn't smile.
"I was serious, Albus."
Harry turned to him and grabbed his arm.
"Mr Weasley and the Headmaster were serious too. We need you here," he said, then he added unsurely "dad?"
When Snape still didn't show any sign of accepting the situation, Mrs Weasley stepped toward him.
"The war is here. We need to learn to forgive and forget to unite against our common enemy. You can't go now. Your place is here. I, we forgive you. Severus," she said and reached her hand for a handshake.
Snape looked at the woman in front of him.
"If you insist," he said bitterly and grabbed the offered hand.
And then happened the thing Harry had been sure he would never see: all the present Weasleys stepped toward the Potions Master and shook his hand.
A battle was won
Next chapter: hopefully Sunday.