Chapter Four: The Tower and Snape
The group hurried up the castle steps, trunks floating obediently behind them. Professor McGonagall was waiting just inside. "Welcome, Apprentices," she said, giving a quick smile and nodding to each in turn. She wasted little time in leading them through the castle to a tower near Ravenclaw territory; neutral enough, at least for the five of them.
As she walked, McGonagall went over the rules and explanation of the Apprentice Tower.
The first area was the Visitor's Common Room. They could have visitors during certain hours, which were posted in the schedules they had left for them in their new rooms. However, visitors could not go beyond the Visitor's Common Room.
The stairwell to the right of the Visitor's Common Room would lead to the Apprentices' Common Room and to their rooms; they each had their own set of rooms and bath. The stairwell to the left of the Visitor's Common Room led up to rooms set aside for storage. They would each have their own room for storage up that side of the tower, expected to be kept neat and orderly and clean. They would each be responsible for the wardings on their storage rooms and their private rooms.
She left them at the portrait of a rather bored looking man. The current passwords were given and she left them there in the hallway outside.
Neville and Seamus both turned wide, confused eyes to Harry, who merely shrugged. Being left to sink or swim on his own was nothing new. He gave the password to gain entrance, then the next password to open the portrait guarding the stairway to the Apprentices' Common Room.
The room was done up neutrally enough. It had cream walls with plum and navy carpets, tapestries and curtains, lined in gold and silver. No house colors, really. The navy was nothing like the bright Ravenclaw blue, and the silver and gold were neutral enough. Milicent had the set of rooms on the first floor above the Apprentices' Common, judging by the "Bulstrode" on the door there. Up the next landing were two doors, "Zabini" on one, "Longbottom" on the other. On the third flight up were doors that read "Potter" and "Finnegan".
Harry entered his new rooms and was a bit shocked. There was a large open room, half of it evidently meant to be a sitting room, with a sofa and pair of stuffed chairs on the side nearest the fireplace. On the other half of the room were a massive, elaborate desk and filing cabinets. Book cases covered the walls from floor to ceiling, some with wooden doors covering them, some with glass windowed doors, and others bare. In the center of the room was a large round table with ten wooden dining chairs around it. Near the window were a drafting table, an artist's easel and a music stand. The door nearer the study part of the huge room led into an equally large, if rather bare and utilitarian room. It held cupboards and shelves, a smallish hearth for warmth, a wooden work table and a stone-topped work table. Leading off from it were two smaller rooms, one obviously meant for storage, while the other seemed more like a photographer's dark room.
The bedroom was on the "parlor" side of the main room. It too was large, with a smallish desk (at least compared to the monster of a desk in the main room) and a huge king-sized bed. The bed curtains and comforter were black, with crimson and gold embroidery. There were also a couple of stuffed chairs, black with crimson and gold design like the couch and chairs in the outer room and the seat pillows on all the wooden chairs in the main room.
The bathroom had a shower and a huge tub of black marble, easily big enough to fit the whole Gryffindor Quidditch team even if it wasn't quite the pool that was passed off as a tub in the Prefects' Bath.
Unpacking took well into the small hours of the morning. There were his purchases from his bizarre shopping trip with Aunt Petunia, as well as everything that Professor McGonagall had acquired for him. After unshrinking and organizing until four in the morning, he gave up on the idea of sleep and headed instead to shower and dress for the day.
McGonagall had given Harry an "early birthday present," and he was more than grateful for it. He was no longer in her house, nor even technically a *student* of the school, but an Apprentice, which was closer to a staff-member-in-training rather than a student, so she had decided it showed no favoritism to give him a gift. After all, she gave gifts to all of the staff members for their birthdays and Christmas. Also, as her mother had been a Potter, she was a distant cousin of sorts; that excused the extravagance of an "Estate Manager's Book", which she'd adjusted somewhat to suit his apprenticeship studies. Besides, it was a traditional gift for the heir of an old family like the Potters to receive upon their 21st year if there was a patriarch still in the family, or upon coming of age--sixteen--if they were the current Head of the family. (Or upon becoming the Head of the family in the years in between).
The binder had a zippered closure and several dozen tabbed sections. There was a calendar, a daily timetable, a bank statement page for his Gringotts vault and the various Potter Family Vaults (the vault he'd been using was his father's personal vault, not any of the 20 vaults that were entailed into the "Potter Legacy"), as well as property reports and inventories. There were sections for each of the courses he would be studying, where he could put notes and later transfer them to his "Class Journals". It also had a little spot for a self-inking quill and numerous little zippered pockets. McGonagall had also included a loose sheaf of parchment with very detailed clothes tailoring spells, just in case the clothing he had didn't fit quite correctly.
An owl swooped into the bedroom not long after 5 AM.
Come prepared to discuss your intent of study, which aspects of the program you wish to focus on.
Bring your calendar and some sort of timetable. Quill, ink. Anything else you might think you'll need.
You will not be given this courtesy again. You will arrive on time and prepared.
It wasn't signed. It didn't need to be.
"Anything else I think I might need?" Harry snorted at the parchment. "How about everything I bloody own because you'll ask me what I've with me and then rage I should have brought something else. And I really need to stop talking to my mail."
Harry sighed. He put his Manager's File Book into his book bag, then grabbed five of the un-assigned enchanted note ledgers. He thought a moment, then frowned and pulled the managing book back out. He tapped two unset pages, hissing "Personal Library" for one page and "All non-book items in Apprentice chambers" for the other. Then he gathered up his Apprentice Contract, and the "A Study of Classical Apprenticeship and what it entails." Once everything was shoved into his book bag he grabbed his wand.
"Up already too?" Harry asked by way of greeting, seeing Seamus in the Apprentices' Common Room.
"Never went to sleep," Seamus snorted. "Y' know anything about this Tonks charecter? What, another ministry bat or a death eater?"
"Auror," Harry offered. "She was part of the group that were security at Kings Cross end of term. Met her a couple times, she's probably about 10 years older than us, metamorphamagus."
Seamus' eyes widened. "Bloody hell! Rare, those are."
"She's half muggle. Her mum was a Black and her dad's a muggle. And she's had her hair turned bizarre colors every time I've seen her."
"Well, half muggle, rules out a Death Eater at least." Seamus yawned.
Harry snorted. "I've got Snape, don't you dare go whingeing about Tonks."
"Ye know we've lost our bloody minds volunteering for this. Books, books, more books." Seamus smiled.
"Definitely," Harry agreed.
"Who y' reckon is the sixth?"
"My luck, and what little I know of the Apprenticing tradition--Malfoy. Crabbe and Goyle are too stupid. Pansy Parkinson maybe, but I really doubt it. If it was one of the Patils they'd both be here. Terry Boot, or maybe Susan Bones ... but I'm betting either of those would already be here too, if it were one of them."
"Thinkin' that meself," Seamus agreed. "Timing makes sense too ... the prat's father goes on trial day after tomorrow." Seamus made a face, not a bit more thrilled with the prospect of sharing a tower with Malfoy than Harry was. "Morning Zabini," Seamus called loudly.
The dark-haired Slytherin boy muttered, "What's good about it?"
"Didn't say it was good, just that it was morning," Seamus grinned.
"Is he always like this in the morning?" Zabini grumbled in Harry's direction.
"Seamus is always like this, round the clock," Harry grinned, answering with a teasing laugh.
"OI!" Seamus shouted and gave a playful punch at Harry's shoulder.
"Mornin Harry, Seamus, Zabini--seen Trevor? He got out of my room last night."
"How?" Harry gaped.
"This is Trevor yer talkin' 'bout, Harry" Seamus snorted. "Be glad he didn't get loose on the bus. Can't you just imagine what Snape would have done if Trevor jumped on his head ... woulda been in a potion before you could blink."
"Who or what is a Trevor?" the very much not-awake-by-choice Zabini glared at the Gryffindors.
"Neville's toad," Seamus offered with a cheery grin.
"Gryffindors, sunrise, no coffee. This is not a good morning."
"We should go to the kitchens tonight and get tea and coffee and maybe some stuff we can keep up here without it going bad ... a strong cooling charm on a cupboard or drawer would do..." Harry mused, his stomach rumbling slightly.
"Brilliant," Seamus grinned. "Two of us can go in your cloak."
"Cloak? Kitchens? You damn Gryffs aren't getting us booted out before the program even begins! What're you on about!" Zabini demanded, looking to Harry.
"We go to the kitchens, get food, coffee, tea we can keep up here from the house elves."
"You need to know where the kitchens are first, Potter," Zabini glared.
"Invisibility cloak--it was my father's."
Zabini stared for a moment, then slowly grinned. "You might not be bad after all, for a Gryffindor, Potter."
"That's the first time I've ever heard that from a Slytherin, Zabini. And since we're basically flatmates you might as well call me Harry."
"And I'm Seamus, he's Neville."
"Blaise," the Slytherin nodded. "Bulstrode been up yet?"
"Don't think so, mate."
"I'll go knock," Neville offered.
"No need, I'm up," Milicent groaned, coming down the last few steps into their shared common room. "Which one of you dimwits owns this thing? Crawled into my bedroom and croaked half the night."
"Sorry," Neville apologized.
"I don't suppose any of you know any sizing charms," Milicent muttered, yanking at her oddly fitting tunic.
Harry reached for his backpack, sitting beside him, and pulled out the parchment. He cast a copying spell four times and held them out. "McGonagall ended up doing my shopping for me--obvious reasons--Death Eaters, Voldie. She gave me a list of tailoring spells."
"Harry Potter saves the day again," Milicent snorted.
"Sorry, Potter. No sleep. A day of not getting killed by whatever Hagrid thinks is cuddly this month ahead of me."
"Point taken." Harry handed her one of the parchments. "Hagrid's a good friend, but his idea of a cute pet is a bit frightening."
"Gimme! Mum tried hemming some of my things, she bought 'em a little long. Love her dearly, but she sews like a drunken house-elf with magic and worse without." Seamus snatched a parchment from Harry's hand.
Blaise reached for a parchment as well, a useful spell was a useful spell, even if he didn't need it anytime soon. Neville took one also. His grandmother had had the same idea as Seamus' mum, and her eyesight not being what it once was and her refusing to admit it ... at least one pair of his trousers had a crooked hem, not all that noticable really, but there was the problem of what he would do when the touser-leg hem needed to be let down.
"Tempus." Blaise gave a sharp wave of his wand. They all groaned at the time that appeared in front of them.
"I've got to get moving or I'll never make it clear across the castle and down to the dungeons," Harry groaned.
"Me too. Even further out to Greenhouse 5," Neville sighed.
"We all might as well get a move on." Milicent sighed. "Ugh, I'd kill for some nice strong tea just now."
"Think about what you want, we're making a kitchen raid tonight. Seamus--why don't you ask Tonks if we can get tea and coffee from the kitchens. She'll probably say yes, even if she isn't supposed to."
Blaise raised an eyebrow at Harry. "My my, rather sneaky Gryff."
"Why is that so surprising? Oh, yeah, I'm Harry Potter, the absolutely perfect Boy-Who-Lived who doesn't ever do anything wrong," Harry snorted.
"Touchy," Milicent mocked.
The group made their way out of their new tower with a strange tenative at-least-truce between the pair of Slytherins and the trio of Gryffindors.
"Potter?" Snape said in disbelief. "Tempus." The glowing numbers in the air read 6:52. "You're early."
"Yes, sir," Harry managed to answer, biting the inside of his cheek. Catching Snape completely off-guard was a treat.
"Sit," Snape barked, and returned to finishing up the sorting of papers on his desk.
Harry sat at the student work table directly in front of Snape. He quietly pulled out his Manager and a couple of the noting journals.
"Potter! Why do you have that, and why did you bring it?" Snape glared at the Manager.
Harry blinked, completely confused, but this was Snape, so him flying off the handle about the least little thing was normal.
"Answer me, Potter!"
"Professor McGonagall gave it to me as an early birthday present," Harry said carefully. "She said it was traditional for someone like me ... and her mother was a Potter so it was appropriate enough from her and I was no longer a student exactly, at least not in her House. Here, the note she left with it is right here."
Snape glared at the note, quickly reading it. He hadn't known Minerva's mother had been a Potter. There was little he could say, truthfully. It was a traditional gift for a young man of Potter's status. It was not just well within Minerva's rights to give it to him but fairly well her duty as the possibly the only one who had any sort of close claim of kinship to the practically extinct Potter line.
"Very well," he growled. "Do you have your contract?"
"Yes, sir." Harry fetched out the Apprenticeship Contract that would bind him to Hogwarts for basically the next fifteen years. It was both a rather terrifying and comforting thought. FIFTEEN YEARS. It seemed like an eternity, especially to a boy who was a couple of weeks shy of sixteen. Yet, the thoughts of being at Hogwarts which, despite everything, was home, and being alive in fifteen years were very nice indeed.
"Your Aunt has signed these, why not your Uncle?"
"He refuses to have anything to do with this sort of unnaturalness. He wants no part of it and has said my Aunt must deal with all of the 'freak stuff' concerning me."
"Unnaturalness?" Snape repeated.
"Magic. According to him it's freakish unnatural...really sir, take the death eater party line on muggles, and switch it around the opposite, pretty well sums up my uncle's view on magic."
"Oh really," Snape demanded, his voice deadly and disbelieving.
"My aunt made me swear to keep an eye on my cousin--when he has children I promised to take a child who has green eyes away from him, or any child of his that shows signs of magic. Not to let Dudley kill his child for being magical the way Uncle Vernon killed my cousin Rose when she levitated a rattle as a baby. The only likely reason he didn't kill me like he did his own daughter was that there were people who knew about me and might come asking questions eventually. He didn't kill me, or even beat on me too much, he left that to Dudley 'cause he didn't want to end up in jail. But he did keep me locked in a cupboard most of the time 'til I got my first Hogwarts letter." Harry's eyes widened, then narrowed. "You put a spell on the classroom." That had to be it. No way otherwise would he be letting so much out in such a rapid tumble of words to Snape.
"Yes" Snape smirked. "I'm surprised you noticed." He managed to hide his shock at what the boy was saying; that would be dealt with later.
"What is it?" Harry demanded.
Snape stood as he began to speak and began walking, circling the table at which Harry sat making him decidely nervous and uncomfortable. "An ancient type of warding spell, walking the fine line of Dark Arts in and of itself. The ministry uses it on their interrogation chambers. It is connected to several truth-speaking spells, but even closer to a compulsion spell and the Imperious curse. It pushes one who does not have a counter spell on them to speak. Very few are able to even sense it. Just as very few are able to throw off an Imperious curse."
"Oh joy, another talent for everyone to whisper over and worry I'm the next dark lord."
"The Ward is called the Hospitium Veritas. I expect an essay by Monday. What are you waiting for--write it down."
"How long? And exactly what about it?"
"You figure that out, Potter. You are no longer a student, but an Apprentice; far more is expected of an apprentice. Keep in mind though, punishments for misbehavior, substandard work and laziness will be far harsher as well."
"Name three wizards, notable in history that you are interested in researching."
Harry blinked, caught off guard.
"NOW. QUICKLY. DON'T THINK. ANSWER!"
"Grindelwald, Flamel, Gentry."
"Which Gentry?" Snape demanded.
Harry blinked. "There's more than one? I mean I know I've heard Hermione mention one but..."
"WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GENTRY IF YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE FAMILY?" Snape shouted, now leaning over the table at which Harry sat.
"I'm interested 'cause I don't bloody know anything about the family other than what little my aunt told me!"
"And what did your muggle of an Aunt have to say about the Gentry family?" Snape demanded in his softest, most deadly tone, the one usually heard before he began screaming and handing out detentions and deducting points by the score from every Gryffindor in sight.
"Harlan Gentry had a daughter, Dahlia who married a muggle. Dahlia had a daughter, a witch named Violet who's magic was some how stripped from her by Grindelwald, when she was still a child I think. Violet grew up and married a squib, the son of a squib and a muggle man named George Evans. Violet's husband was named Henry Evans. Violet and Henry's first daughter was a squib, I think; not sure completely, but there's a bit more magic to a squib than a muggle. Violet and Henry's second daughter was a redheaded witch who, I'm told, was rather clever with charms--her name was Lily Evans. My Aunt says my eyes, and my mother's, are Gentry Green."
"Seven am tomorrow. You will return here. You will have a correctly brewed pint of Lineage Potion. It has a post-NEWT level of difficulty. While you don't have Granger to brew it for you or hold your hand and tell you step by step, you also do not have Weasley or Malfoy distracting you. You will have an accounting of what you learned of the Lineage Potion while you were brewing. You will have detailed notes on how the brewing went. You will also have a written proposal, coherent and detailed precisely, of why you want to study Flamel, Gindelwald and the Gentry Family. Dismissed." Snape's voice was tight and sounded slightly crazed.
Harry blinked. That was it? He'd been here perhaps fifteen minutes, twenty at the outside...
"WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR POTTER? OUT!!!!"
Harry gathered up his things, shoved them in his book bag, and all but ran out of the room. Library first, he decided; McGonagall had given them a password and said they just needed to leave a list of what they took out. Then the kitchens. Then back to his rooms and to work, he supposed. Maybe something in his--homework, for lack of a better word--would shed some light on Snape's odd behavior. Then again, it was Snape.
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