Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 28 :: I Didn’t Know

28 • I Didn’t Know

Harry shook his head violently. “No, this may be like a prison, but there’s no way I want to go to that house for the holiday. It’s even worse. I’m signing up to stay here. I can’t trust that Dobby can jump me out without being seen, and even if he could, there’s always the chance some well-meaning person will come looking for me and sound the alarm when they realize I’m nowhere in the house.”

“Then I can expect a joyful holiday.”

“There is no way in hell I can face another holiday locked up with mum without you, Harry,” said Ron.

Tom made a slight face, so quickly that Harry wasn’t sure he had seen it. :Now you behave, Tom.:

:So long as we get time for ourselves, of course I will.:

“I don’t know if the old man will try to interfere, but . . . I really don’t want to go there. The fact that I own it and I’m not even supposed to know that makes it worse.”

“And, perhaps if he does,” said Tom, “you can trot out the fact that Hogwarts has been the only place you’ve ever considered home, and how you really prefer not to leave it during the holiday.”

“Mm. I guess it doesn’t matter.”

“I’m not sure I understand.” Tom rose to pour himself another glass of port.

Harry exhaled heavily. “If I went there, it isn’t like I’d be able to talk to Remus freely, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to have you present, Tom, to help me if things started to get out of hand. I have to talk to him here. Anyway, I don’t understand how the old man could interfere. No matter what, Aunt Petunia is my legal guardian in their eyes. Sure, she can’t do much about magical matters, but this isn’t one, not really.”

Tom shrugged and sat down, taking a sip before saying, “We’ll see. Now, once I finish this and we’re done chatting, let us move on to learning the proper way to turn oneself invisible, hm?”

*

Tom worried his lower lip between his teeth, then cast an uncomfortable look at Severus. “Something’s been on my mind of late, ever since Harry apologized to you, actually.”

Severus shot him a wary look, but remained silent.

“I hate to say it, but if Harry were to ever ask me who the spy was who reported the prophecy to Voldemort, I’d be in a very awkward position, and that’s a place I sincerely do not wish to be.”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” he said firmly. Tom spared a glance for his friend, then went back to contemplating the fire. “To begin with, I don’t think it’s my place to tell him. Secondly, that it was you means the conversation would become awkward very quickly. He would know I was being evasive, and begin to wonder why, and possibly figure it out on his own. Even if he thought, up until that point, that it had been Peter, he would know better by then, as I would have no qualms about speaking were that the case.”

“So you’re asking me to tell him.”

“I’m asking you to consider it.” Tom looked at him curiously. “Severus, feel free to tell me to sod off, but, is part of the reason you’ve been so cruel to him not so much because of his father, but because you feel guilty?” When Severus did not speak Tom continued, “I know that you are an intelligent man, and that despite how much Harry resembles his father physically, you know he is not the same person. Of course, it might be that if he knew, he would place the blame for their deaths as much on you as on Voldemort. Perhaps your unremitting anger stems from that weight.”

“Don’t psychoanalyze me,” Severus snapped.

“I suppose you might also be concerned that he would start asking questions you don’t wish to answer, such as why you joined Voldemort in the first place.”

Severus sneered at him, then said, “What do you think he would do?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s even odds that he might start yelling or even hexing you. Then again, he might decide to think it over before reacting. You did, apparently, accept his apology, after all. Though, if I recall correctly, you asked him what it was he had learned from his mistake.”

Tom was mildly surprised to see a look of regret pass over Severus’s face.

“I cannot change what happened, Tom.”

“No more than I can change the fact that I was his parents’ killer.”

“That may be so, but I am not the one soul bonded to the boy. He has no incentive to listen to whatever I might have to say with any degree of patience or deliberation.”

“Severus, please don’t misunderstand me, but I’m not sure I understand why it matters to you.”

“Because of you,” Severus snapped. “Against my better judgment, you’ve managed to make me see the damn brat as an individual. Fine, call the Daily Prophet and inform them that I, Severus Snape, made a mistake. The boy isn’t his father, and torturing him will do nothing to appease my anger over what happened in the past. I’ve done nothing but provoke him since the moment I laid eyes on him and take delight in having the power to slap him down for the slightest excuse. In the end, it means nothing aside from the fact that I hadn’t let go of that past. Yes, Tom, you were right. Potter has a brain after all. A very good one, in fact. He is as much a Slytherin as you or I, no matter how much it pains me to admit that. I. . . .”

Tom smiled internally. “I would have to disagree slightly, my friend. I think it was Harry himself who showed you he is not his father. All I did was provide the opportunity for him to do so.” He tapped the arm of his chair for a few moments and added, “Severus, if you wish, I will tell him myself on your behalf.”

“Oh, and isn’t that cowardly,” sneered Severus.

“Perhaps, or you could view it as your self-preservationist tendencies coming to the fore,” Tom said with a chuckle. “It is up to you, certainly. I shan’t say a word if you would rather I did not, but I will help if that is your desire.”

“And which do you think is wiser?”

Tom shrugged. “Part of me says for me to broach the subject and part of me says he might very much appreciate that you did it yourself. I could”—he paused to rub his chin thoughtfully—“tell him there is something you wish to speak with him about, and to please promise to think whatever it is over before he reacts. That would clue him in to the gravity of the situation without revealing anything specific.”

Severus sighed again. “Fine. Soon, then, before I lose my nerve.”

*

Dobby had just delivered lunch and popped out, and Harry had just taken a sandwich from the pile and bit into it when Tom said, “Harry, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

Harry’s head shot up, his eyes narrowed. He didn’t like the sound of that, not at all. Perhaps it was the diffident way Tom had spoken, but he got the impression that it was anything but casual in nature. He gave a wary nod and continued eating, hoping that whatever it was, it wouldn’t spoil his meal.

“Remember when I asked you to back off on your reflexive reactions to Severus?”

Harry narrowed his eyes even further.

“Now don’t look at me like that. I’ll make this short and simple, all right? There seems to be something that Severus wanted to tell you. All I want from you is a promise that you will think carefully about what he has to say before you react. That’s nothing more than you’ve already agreed to do, more or less.”

Harry cast a slightly incredulous look his way and said, “I see. And you felt it necessary to give me that little reminder? Obviously, one or both of you feel that I’m not going to be happy about whatever this is. I suppose that means you aren’t going to give me any hints, either.”

“I’m afraid not, Harry. I think you’ll understand why when you’ve spoken with him.”

Harry got the impression that Tom wanted to say more, much more, but was holding himself back. Whatever it was it had to be bad if Tom felt he needed to ease the way. It couldn’t be an apology for the way he had been treated. Harry just didn’t see how something like that could conceivably make him angry. He also had trouble seeing Snape apologizing for anything—to him, at least.

So what could it be. What would be likely to make him angry? The only thing he could think of offhand would be the Occlumency lessons the previous year. Or was it that Dumbledore was requesting to sit in on one of their supposed lessons? He doubted it had anything to do with the upcoming holiday. This sounded uniquely connected to Snape himself. He shook his head absently and reached for another sandwich.

He got through that and two more before another word was spoken. “And when do you expect him to be confiding in me?”

“Possibly today. He did say something about wanting to see those books you had mentioned to him.” Tom rose and came over to straddle Harry’s legs, settling his weight before leaning forward and wrapping his arms around Harry’s neck.

Harry snorted softly, but figured it must be fairly serious if Tom was acting so oddly. It could be that his bonded was actually worried on his friend’s behalf, worried that he might react badly enough so as to drive the man away. “Do you love me?”

“Yes.”

“Then I hope you aren’t using sex as a way to—”

“Harry,” Tom said sternly. “I may merely be a mostly reformed dark lord, but I am not a complete imbecile. I asked, you seemed to be agreeable. That matter is over as far as I’m concerned. This, however, is a new matter entirely. If you aren’t in the mood. . . .”

“Then you’ll back off, I know. Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I had to ask, I’m sorry.”

Tom shrugged and smiled. “It’s not so surprising. We’re both Slytherin after all. One must be alert for ulterior motives.” He shifted slightly and teased at the back of Harry’s neck with his fingers.

“You’re incorrigible,” he said, then leaned forward to capture Tom’s willing lips.

A moment later Tom pulled back and said, “I think you mean insatiable,” then leaned in for another kiss, this one almost bruising in intensity.

Harry luxuriated in the feeling of battling tongues for some time before he pulled away to say, “I think it doesn’t matter,” then used the chair as leverage to propel Tom backward, onto the floor, with him on top, and begin to assault his bonded’s neck with his teeth, his hands sliding up under Tom’s shirt.

Tom responded by pulling at Harry’s shirt, pushing him away long enough to get it pulled up and over his head before running his nails down his bonded’s exposed skin. “We could take this to the bedroom,” he said roughly, arching his back.

Harry licked a trail up to Tom’s ear and nipped the lobe, then whispered, “Then we wouldn’t have this lovely fake fireplace. What’s the matter, Tom, is the floor too unyielding for you?” His bonded growled and bucked his hips at the implied insult, though Harry could tell he wasn’t really offended. “I guess not. But you know what I’d like?”

Tom stilled and arched a brow, so Harry rose to a kneeling position, then stood and extended a hand. Once his bonded was also standing, Harry began to divest him of his clothing while saying softly, “I would really like it if you’d sit down in that nice chair, or maybe on the sofa, and let me ride you.”

Harry’s clothes were off his body almost before he knew what was happening and had been dragged over to the couch, where Tom sat down with alacrity and pulled him down so that Harry was straddling his legs. He grinned and slipped his glasses off, tossing them to one side, then leaned in for another bruising kiss as Tom fumbled for his wand off to one side and hurriedly cast a spell before letting the smooth cylinder of wood clatter to the floor.

Harry groaned at the sensation of slick fingers entering him and pressed closer, then allowed himself to be lifted enough so that he could sink back down to be impaled slowly, wincing at the pain that accompanied a not so thorough preparation. They continued to kiss as he adjusted, Tom’s hands roughly gripping his hips, then Harry began to move. Seconds later one hand slid forward to reach between them as Tom slouched further down and adjusted the position of his legs for better leverage.

*

Harry was happily draped over Tom’s sweaty form, seriously considering dozing off, when Tom jerked slightly and muttered under his breath. “What’s wrong?” he asked sleepily.

“Severus is signaling.”

Harry shifted and licked some of the sweat from Tom’s neck, then snickered. “Well, I am in an awfully good mood all of a sudden. I suppose I don’t care if he comes to visit, though I think you might want to freshen the air a bit before you send Dobby after him.”

Tom chuckled and ran his hand over Harry’s back. “All right. Why don’t you hunt out those books just in case.”

“Mm.” Harry slowly pulled away, though he much rather would have stayed, and got to his feet, wincing again as he stretched and tried to figure out where his glasses had gone. Spying a blurry something that might be them, he stepped over and crouched, taking the familiar shape into his hand and slipping them on. “Maybe I should consider contact lenses,” he said, then released his wand into his hand so he could cast a cleansing charm over himself before getting dressed.

“If you wish. They would certainly be better than being half blind on a regular basis.” Tom finally located his own wand and was casting away, then taking a good look around the room to see if anything was obviously out of place or amiss. “We could always go one Sunday to a shop. When was the last time you had your eyes checked, anyway?” Then he stopped and gave Harry a piercing look.

“What?”

“Just a thought. I’ll have to look into it before I say too much. I could be mistaken.” He turned away to get dressed as Harry shrugged and headed for the book cases. “It’s just that if we knew what was causing the problem, it might be something you could correct with metamorphmagy, that’s all.”

Harry glanced back over his shoulder in surprise. “Please.”

Tom nodded and concentrated, then addressed Dobby. “Would you please see if Professor Snape would like to visit, and jump him here if so?” Dobby nodded and popped out, returning a minute later with Snape in tow, then disappeared. “Severus, hello. Would you like a drink?”

Harry glanced over his shoulder again to see Snape nod and take a seat on the couch. He quickly looked away to hide his expression over the professor’s choice of seating and took a deep breath before rising and turning. “Hello, sir. In case you’re interested, those Potions books I mentioned are all in this case, though there might be other things that catch your eye as well.”

Snape inclined his head briefly and took the offered glass from Tom.

“If this is private, I can go practice in the dueling room,” Harry offered.

Snape hesitated, then shook his head. “No, Potter, this concerns you.”

Harry crossed over to the bar and hunted out a bottle of butterbeer and opened it, then took a seat in one of the armchairs. It was then that he noticed Tom had slipped out like a ghost, unseen and unheard. Harry graced the professor with an attentive look and waited.

“There are certain things I doubt you are aware of, Potter, even now. The headmaster would not have told you, presumably to protect the privacy of those involved. In this case, myself.” Snape took a sip of his port, as though he were steeling himself with liquid courage, and said bluntly, “It was I who overheard that Trelawney woman speak the prophecy’s beginning, and the one who went to the Dark Lord with that information.”

The bottle in Harry’s hand shattered, causing him to look down in bemusement at the mess. Harry wrinkled his nose and exhaled heavily, then stood up and crossed back over to the bar. After vanishing the broken glass and liquid and getting a new bottle, he resumed his seat. “I’m sorry, I don’t always have control over my magic. Was that all, professor?”

Snape cast an odd look at him, wary and suspicious. “I believe I owe you an apology, Potter.”

Harry could feel his jaw clench and relaxed it immediately. He honestly wasn’t sure how he should respond. It was certainly true that having told Voldemort the prophecy more or less guaranteed that his family would have been in danger either way. Tom had said he had intended to kill both the Longbottoms and the Potters because of it. But, if he could look past the murder of his parents based on fate, would it be wrong of him to throw back this man’s words?

He dropped his gaze and took a sip of his butterbeer, then tilted his head. If he did, it would most likely be pure spite that prompted it, and he had promised Tom he wouldn’t act on his first instincts. He had assumed it was Peter, but now that he thought about it. . . . Peter might have simply been shadowing the old man in rat form, hoping for tidbits to take back to his master, but it was also possible that it had been around the same time that Snape had been looking for a position at Hogwarts. After all, he could not remember how long the man had been teaching for.

He looked up with something that may have approximated a smile and said, “All right. I would be happy to hear what you would like to say.” He knew it was very possible that Snape would not explain anything at all. As it was, Snape confirmed his suspicion almost immediately.

“At the time I was under orders to seek a position at Hogwarts and followed Dumbledore to the Hog’s Head with the hope of speaking to him. It was then that I managed to overhear the beginning to the prophecy. Of course, I was discovered, and did not hear all of it, but that was enough for me to take back to the Dark Lord. In that sense, I am as responsible for the deaths of your parents as he is. I also realize that my apology will do nothing to change what happened, but I offer it still. I thought you deserved to know the truth.”

Harry had another sip and gazed at the fire. He could demand to know more, but that might not be wise. As of late, he and the professor had actually been getting along, and while he did not think Tom would explain if asked, perhaps he could reason things out for himself.

Snape had been giving him a lot of odd looks recently and had been more or less civil. Sure, part of that had to be at Tom’s request, and part had to be connected to the house credo. But . . . it had not been until the day that Harry had learned to look through Tom’s eyes that he had noticed any real or deeper change in the man. Was it possible that Snape finally was seeing him as a person in his own right? Not just a mocking copy of his father? Was it possible that Snape felt . . . guilty?

He blinked and looked back up. “I appreciate your candor, professor. Apology accepted. I don’t suppose after you’ve looked over my collection that you could make suggestions as to others I might add?”

Snape appeared to straighten, then nodded. “I would be willing to do so.”

:Tom? I think it’s safe to come back now.: Harry produced a somewhat tight smile. “I admit, even with being able to concentrate now, I still find Potions to be a little confusing.” He then smiled genuinely as Tom breezed in and flopped into a chair.

“That was one hell of a workout,” he said cheerfully.

Harry did a slight double take, then laughed. “I’m glad you can keep up with me.”

Tom glared at him halfheartedly, then smiled. “This from the person who was all set for a nap a short while ago?”

“I think I’ve been insulted.” Harry turned his nose up and looked away, then stood. “Just for that, I’m going to go amuse myself without you.” He gave Tom an insolent mock salute, then nodded at Snape and stalked off down the corridor.

*

Tom darted a curious look at Severus, then said, “I trust things went well?”

“I believe so. That is, unless you count the one bottle of butterbeer which shattered.”

Tom frowned and scratched his forehead. “I didn’t feel a thing. Sly little devil—our lessons must be working out better than I realized if he’s blocking me out reflexively in moments of stress.”

“Be that as it may, he is now aware of the truth, and has accepted my apology. He also refrained from digging for information, which I find mildly surprising.”

“Well, Severus, I did say he’s Slytherin, but I’m not sure he is to the point that he’d go looking for blackmail material on you.”

Severus’s eyes briefly flickered toward the ceiling. “I am merely pointing out that he acted with admirable maturity. I also think he still considers you his protector, for it was not until you came back that he relaxed.”

Tom shrugged, unwilling to comment except obliquely. “He’s none too fond of authority figures. That alone would cause problems.”

Severus made an irritated noise in his throat and had a sip of his port. “What you are so kindly trying not to say is that as I am still his professor, he feels compelled to be respectful of that, and that so long as I hold any power over him, he will continue to be tense and wary in my presence.”

Tom inspected his nails for a moment, then looked over. “You aren’t exactly little Mary Sunshine, either, Severus. However, does it matter in the long run? I’m not saying whether it should or not. I’m not going to second guess your motives, either. I do think that if what you just said holds any meaning aside from the obvious that you would already have some idea as to direction.”

The sound of a explosion rolled in down the corridor, giving both men pause for thought. Tom blinked and said, “Hang on.”

:Harry?:

:Er, sorry. Who knew dry ice would react so violently to a simple levitation charm?:

“What the—?” Tom threw up his hands, then rubbed his temples. “It’s nothing to be concerned about, Severus, I think.” To Harry he sent, :And are you all right, or do I need to come over there?:

:To be honest, I’m not sure. I think I’ll just come back and you can see for yourself.:

Harry walked into the room shortly thereafter, looking a bit worse for wear. “I didn’t know, honestly.”

Tom shook his head and waved one of his hands in negation. “I thought you went off to practice, Harry, not mess about with that dry ice. Now come here so I can look you over.”

Harry slouched over sullenly and dropped onto the floor with a slight wince. “All right, so my head hurts a little.”

“I’m sure it goes splendidly with the cuts on your face. Hit by flying shards, were we?”

Harry raised a hand in confusion and touched his face.

“You had better be all right, Harry. I don’t think you want to try explaining this to Madam Pomfrey.” He shook out his wand and ran a few very simple scans, then tucked it away again before glancing at Severus and rolling his eyes slightly. Tom concentrated and a moment later Dobby popped in; luckily, as he was standing behind Harry, he could not see the damage and react. “Dobby, would you be so kind as to pop into the stillroom and pick up a potion for headaches, and a salve for healing minor cuts?”

Dobby frowned, but nodded, and popped back out.

“I saw that,” said Harry.

“I’m surprised,” replied Tom. “Your glasses are skewed fairly badly, so how you can see anything properly is beyond my ken.” Dobby popped back in and placed a bottle and a jar on the table, and after being thanked, disappeared. Tom picked up the bottle and unstoppered it, then handed it to Harry, snatching it back after his bonded had taken a sip and placing it back on the table. Next came the jar; Harry suffered silently as his face was daubed with salve.

“I’m sure you’ll live, but you’ll have to reapply this in a bit. You should be grateful Dobby didn’t see. You’d never see the end of his fussing.”

Severus had apparently lost control over his curiosity given his question of, “Dry ice?”

Tom set the jar aside and partly covered his face as Harry turned to look at the professor. After straightening his glasses Harry said, “Have you ever heard of it before, sir? I suppose it’s strictly a muggle thing, then. It’s solidified carbon dioxide—what we exhale—generally used to refrigerate things, especially during shipping.”

“And your interest?”

Harry bit his lip and glanced at Tom, then shrugged. “I was afraid you’d ask that, sir. When dropped into hot water it produces a really nice, sorta creepy fog.”

Severus immediately held up his hand. “What I don’t know. . . .”

“You can appreciate in private,” said Tom with a smirk, then asked Harry, “And when were you planning on being amusing?”

Harry narrowed his gaze, then said, “That depends on whether or not you obtained the stuff we need.”

“Soon, soon. Perhaps over the holiday we can mix up a batch and test it.” Tom grinned and lifted one brow. “Though, at times I begin to wonder if it was wise to buy you those muggle chemistry texts.”

“Too late,” Harry said cheerfully, “though maybe from now on I’ll conjure up a shield first.” He bounced to his feet and said, “I have to go find some dragonhide gloves. You aren’t supposed to touch that stuff with your bare hands,” before dashing off down the corridor again.

“What is he up to?” Severus demanded as soon as he was out of earshot.

Tom chuckled and secured the lid back on the jar, then stoppered the bottle. “Just some harmless pranks, Severus. Pranks that target everyone equally and are more creative than anything I’ve heard of done here in years, except for perhaps the Weasley twins.”

“So he was responsible for that fiasco in the Great Hall.”

“Yes, but I’m quite sure you’ll forget that salient detail the moment you leave the Chamber, am I right?”

“Of course. I should know better than to ask questions I might not want the answers for.” He rose and headed toward the case Harry had indicated earlier.

*

After suffering through a lecture on the draught of living death, Harry and Blaise shot off from class toward the Room of Requirement, or Roary’s as they had come to call it, meeting up with Ron and slipping inside.

“I got a letter back from Fred and George,” said Ron as he slumped into a chair. “They loved the idea. Said they’re going to start making them and putting them on the shelves.”

“That’s brilliant. I’m not sure they’ll have much use for this next one, though,” said Blaise, “except perhaps for Halloween parties.”

“Were you able to get the stuff yet?” Ron asked.

Harry shook his head. “Just some of it. The rest will take a little longer, but I expect maybe we could plan it for the morning after everyone comes back from the holiday. We would have to get up early that day, though. But with all three of us working on it, it should be all right. Just one warning, though. I found out the hard way that you do not want to try to levitate dry ice. It explodes for some reason.”

Blaise gave him a curious look, then laughed. “I suppose it’s a good thing no one heard, then. But, are you all right? You look fine.”

“Yeah, I was more surprised than anything.” Then he furrowed his brow and gazed up at the ceiling. “Bet that’d be a shock for a Death Eater if a bit of that stuff got in the way of a spell, eh?”

“That assumes it’s just more than levitation that affects it,” Blaise pointed out.

“True.” Harry shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, I suppose. I just wonder if it has anything to do with it being an inherently unstable matrix, unlike a gemstone, perhaps, and magic forces it apart rather than being reflected or passing through, that’s all. We just have to devise a better way of lowering the stuff into the water when the time is right without using magic directly on it.”

“Then let’s discuss that,” suggested Ron.