Chapter Ten: Conversations
Harry was extremely surprised by the reactions to the line of runes on his cheek. (The ones on his forehead were mostly covered by his hair and the ones on his wrists by his robe sleeves. He didn't mention the Lineage tattoo or the runic markings and Celtic knot on his chest. Those weren't visible. Nor did he say anything about his mother's magical heritage. One thing at a time. And hopefully he had a friend or two left at the end of all of it).
Seamus simply cocked his head to the side for a moment, then shook his head. "Here we bloody go again. 5 galleons Ron doesn't talk to you for a month."
Neville sighed. "It's always something with you, isn't it, Harry?"
"Hey, now, Nev, just what's that supposed to mean?" Seamus asked before Harry could get the words out himself.
"Nothing--it's just always something. Every year, there's always something that comes up with Harry. Looks like this year won't be quiet either." Neville sighed again. "You know what I mean, Harry."
Harry nodded. He couldn't get angry with Neville for saying that when it mirrored his own "here we go again" thoughts on the apprenticeship. He was more concerned with the Weasleys' and 'Mione's reactions about that. He really didn't want to think any further than that. Ron would probably never talk to him again once it came out that Harry was indeed an Heir of Slytherin. The rune-tattoos from his mother's spell were actually sort of--well they'd get attention, which he could do without, thank you. But they were something from his mum. Even if spell-induced tattoos was a sort of odd legacy.
Harry caught both Milicent and Blaise sneaking looks every now and then as the afternoon wore on, but neither of them said a word. Too Slytherin, Harry supposed. Keeping their opinions to themselves. Seamus and Neville had shared a dorm with Harry the last five years, so they knew him and were well used to the strangeness that seemed to follow Harry. Neville's "it's always something isn't it?" summed it up quite well. A lot more than Neville knew.
Remus was surprised by the sight that greeted him as he approached the castle: five teens and what looked like a good aisle or two of books from the library spread out on the front lawn of Hogwarts.
"OI, HARRY, LOOK -- IT'S PROFESSOR LUPIN!" an Irish-accented voice carried to Remus.
A dark head bobbed up. "REMUS!" the boy shouted. He scrabbled to his feet, clumsily manuevering the scattered books, and went barrelling for Remus.
Remus caught the boy, surprised by the exuberant hug. A decidedly odd greeting, at least from Harry, though Remus wasn't complaining. This was the first chance they'd had to see each other since Sirius' death in the Department of Mysteries underneath the Ministry of Magic. It had been decided to be too dangerous for Harry to attend the small memorial that was held at 12 Grimmauld Place.
"Air, breathe, Remus."
"Sorry." Remus said sheepishly, loosening his hold on the boy, not completely letting go. He needed the reassurance that the "cub" of his pack, his family was still alive and well. Harry seemed to need the same. Each was the last link they had to Sirius, to James and Lily.
Gone was the sweet baby he'd been allowed the privilege of being honorary uncle to. Even the skinny, slightly too small boy that was all big green eyes and stubborn determination to learn the Patronus that Remus remembered from three years before. The green eyes were haunted and old for the young face they were now looking out from.
"Harry, you need to shave!" Remus gasped out, shocked, then laughed at the inanity of his own words. So odd to see this almost-man in the place of the boy so firmly affixed in his memory.
"I do?" Harry blinked, confused, touching his jaw. "Guess I forgot this morning."
"Look at you! You've grown so--" Remus finally registered the runes on Harry's cheek. "Merlin, what on earth, Harry?"
"Mum did it. Snape said, some sort of protection spells--she'd covered it with a glamour and when Snape did the Glamoris Purgis they showed up." The words came out in such a worried tumble it took Remus a moment to process what Harry had said.
"Why on earth would Severus cast a Glamoris Purgis on you?"
"Uhm, I sort of made the True Heir Lineage Potion last night."
Remus blinked. "Why?"
"Researching it got me out of Snape's hair yesterday, I think ... but he said it was a good starting point for researching and studying Ancestral magic and genealogy."
"You haven't read the Prophet today, have you?" Harry asked.
Remus shook his head.
"Don't be mad."
Remus' face instantly became concerned. "Harry?"
"I'm an apprentice. Me, Neville Longbottom, Seamus Finnegan, Blaise Zabini, Millicent Bulstrode and Draco Malfoy. One other, I think. Apprenticed Master program..."
Remus blinked in surprise, then grinned. "Harry that's wonderful."
"You're not mad?"
"Why would I be mad? Your mum was a Charms Apprentice her last three years of school. James would be happy, too, if this is what you want, though he wouldn't understand it. He thought that three year Auror training was too long. Fifteen years of study." Remus shook his head, smiling. "James had the same amount of patience as Siri a lot of the time. He wasn't as reckless as Siri ... but neither of them were outstanding in the patience department. They'd all be proud of you. I am too. Why on earth would anyone be mad?"
Harry merely shook his head.
"I don't think the Weasleys are too happy. Least not Mrs. Weasley. Ron's going to--" Harry shrugged. "At the very least Ron's going to think I've lost my mind. Hermione's going to be upset that I'm doing this since it's something that Muggleborns can't--"
"Harry, is this what you really want? This what's best for you?" Remus asked, cutting the boy off. Harry nodded slowly. "They'll come around." Remus said firmly, silently thinking or else. "I need to deliver a message to Albus, then, do you have time to talk?"
Harry's head bobbed eagerly. "We're just looking up things ... I've got to decide which potions I want to learn first and present coherent reasons why."
Remus chuckled at the face Harry made. "Severus is your Advisor and study coordinator?"
Harry nodded. "Tonks is Seamus', Professor Sprout is Neville's. Professor McGonagall is Blaise's. I'm not sure about Millie ... cause, er ... well--she had to report to Hagrid."
"Well, not all the professors are back yet." Remus smiled. "I'm sure someone will be helping Hagrid a bit. Advisors for a Mastery Apprenticeship like what you're doing are usually the ones most closely related to the Apprentice's greatest strengths, but there's so much that you'll have to study you can't learn it all from one person ... well, unless they'd been an Apprenticed Master as well."
Harry nodded. Seamus was good at Defense, Blaise at Transfiguration (Harry knew the talents of the Slytherins of his year about as well as his Gryffindor year mates', because of the almost constant pairing of Gryffindor and Slytherin in double classes). Millie had a true knack with animals of all sorts. Neville truly shined in Herbology.
"I'll be back in just a bit, alright?"
High above the front lawns of Hogwarts, a boy glared down from the fifth story Hospital wing window. He hadn't moved from his position in well over two hours, his expression getting darker by the moment. He'd seen the arrival of the filthy werewolf, then about an hour or so ago the werewolf joined the group on the lawn after whatever business he had at the castle. Talking to that muggle-loving, senile old fool no doubt.
Shock momentarily replaced the bitter rage as LONGBOTTOM managed what looked to be a Patronus, or at least a near miss of one, a silvery fog with no real shape. Finnegan had a strange looking cat, it didn't seem to last as long as Longbottom's fog but it at least had a shape. Then there was Potter's Stag. Depsite himself, Draco had to be impressed by the Patronus, which wasn't dissipating in the least, but prancing and preening about the group practicing. Zabini and Bulstrode were even joining in.
"Bloody Potter. This is all his fault."
"Hey, now, little Cos, that's just not so."
Draco spun and glared at the woman who entered the room. He was face to face with his cousin. He hadn't seen her in what?--ten, eleven years? His mother had taken him to visit, when the other one, this one's sister, married. Lucius actually had let them go, it had been politic, someone had brought up his anti-muggle politics when he was running for something or other at the Ministry, or perhaps it was the Hogwarts School Board. Draco didn't remember. The one and only time Draco had been anywhere near a muggle home, and that was a mostly wizardish-muggle home with more emphasis on the wizard actually. His mother's cousin was a witch, and despite her husband being a muggle, the older daughter was a squib who married (was marrying at the time) a wizard, and the younger one a witch, then about 15. She hadn't changed all that much in the years since. Oh, she was a bit older, but overall not so much different than Draco remembered.
"What are you doing here?" Draco sneered. "Where's Professor Snape?"
"Ah well, Snape got called off on an emergency unexpected-like." Tonks smiled. "Dumbledore decided I'll be the one taking you to the bank. We're meeting your mother's solicitor at Gringotts, and then we can go to Malfoy Manor and get--"
"My father would roll in his grave at some half-blood, muggle-raised peice of--"
Tonks cut him off. "Or not, I expect getting you all new for the time being won't hurt. We'll be going to mum and dad's then, and Diagon Alley tomorrow, it's getting late now, and by the time we're done at the bank it'll be too late to do much shopping."
Draco glared silently.
"Charlie and Bill should be here shortly. We're to meet them up in the Headmaster's office and they'll be going with us to Gringotts."
Draco continued to glare.
"We can spare fifteen minutes or so for you to quick freshen up."
The glare went on.
"Or not." Tonks shrugged and cast a rapid series of spells, a dry-shower spell and a drycleaning spell which changed the boy's clothing from all black to a rather sickly looking brownish-greenish color that truly defied description. The pale, pinched, angry face of her young cousin went red with rage. "Sorry 'bout that. Bet Dumbledore or Bill can right it. I'm just awful with cleaning spells. That color looks truly horrid on you. Look horrid on anyone, actually; looks like a dragon sicked up all over your clothes. Come on now, little cos, let's get a move on."
"I refuse to go anywhere with--"
"Right then, we get to do this the difficult way." Tonks sighed. "Petrificus Totalis. Mobilicorpus."
She floated her immobilized cousin beside her, chattering all the way out of the Hospital wing and to Dumbledore's office. Her first instinct upon seeing the broken boy had been to go to him and hug him. Then he'd opened his mouth and the urge to throttle him had nearly taken over.
Tonk's Metamorphmagus ability required her to be more observant than most. Unlike an animagus, she had to concentrate on every last detail of what she wanted to change. A talent like Metamorphmagus could only go so far without honing and Tonks had concentrated on it well. Her heart broke for her young cousin. Coddling of any form wouldn't be accepted, and he was---such a little prat that the temptation to throttle some sense into him even now with everything that had happened was strong. So, gentle bullying into at least tolerable behavior it was. If she didn't reach him, and she truly doubted she would, maybe the prodding would push him to at least get to where some one did throttle some sense into him ... maybe.
Remus could not remember a more enjoyable afternoon, even with the fact that Severus had been summoned in the early afternoon. Voldemort didn't like to do things in the daylight hours ... Albus was quite concerned as well.
Harry had asked if Remus could give Neville a pointer or two on the Patronus, which had been part of the conversation--one of the spells that Seamus had been assigned to research by Tonks. That had prompted a bit of defense practice.
The group began splitting up a couple hours before supper, leaving just Remus and Harry on the lawns.
"Why did you ask about Hellion?"
"Snape said mum was called Hellion."
Remus' eyes went wide. Then he began chuckling. "Lily?" He nodded to himself.
"During the first war ... Albus got occasional messages. Spelled to him somehow or another, even got through the wards of Hogwarts more than once. Baffled him. He was wondering the last meeting if he would get any mysterious messages now that Voldemort was back. They got through the wards because they were sent within the wards ... If Lily was Hellion--then ... well that explains a lot. Especially the targeting of the Malfoys. Narcissa Malfoy was close with your mother in school. Something she paid dearly for no doubt. There were a few 'punishments' doled out too. Mostly to Siri and the younger LeStrange brother that was in our year. Bellatrix's brother-in-law. Lily and Siri tolerated each other only for James' sake for the longest time. Siri held a grudge against her for quite a while that she was friendds with Severus, Narcissa and Aisling."
"Morrigan. She was a Slytherin in our year."
"And mum was a Ravenclaw ... I always assumed she was a Gryffindor."
"If your mum hadn't been muggle born she would have been a Slytherin, I think." Remus smiled. "She was very cunning and clever."
Harry swallowed. "Mum wasn't exactly muggleborn."
"Don't hate me, don't get mad..."
"Harry?" Remus frowned. Harry bit his bottom lip and shrugged out of the robe he wore opened over his t-shirt and jeans, then pulled up his sleeve.
"Did she know?" Remus whispered.
"At least by the time I was born." Harry swallowed holding out his arm so Remus could see the rune-encircled small branch and serpent with the lily blossom.
Remus stared for a long time. Then the boy's quiet voice cracked over the words, "You hate me."
"No!" Remus said sharply. "This doesn't change a thing. You're Harry. Simple as that."
Remus' heart broke as the boy beside him wilted and those green eyes were a bit too bright, the voice too small, too lost as Harry asked, "You mean that?"
"Absolutely," Remus said firmly.
Any further conversation was halted by the appearance of Fawkes, bearing a note that Albus needed to see him.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?" Remus said quietly. "I'm planning on being here the day ... unless..."
Harry nodded reluctantly. "I should get some sleep while I can...my scar's sort of itching."
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