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Chapter Thirty-Five: Abodes and Auras

Severus felt one eyebrow climbing the heights of his forehead. "Not a boy, are you? Yet you earlier proclaimed that you are not yet an adult. So then, what exactly are you?"

"That's just the question, isn't it?" was Harry's bitter rejoinder. "I'm not quite sure, and from the looks of it, neither is anyone else. One minute I'm gazed at with awe, and the next they're patting me on the head like I'm some four year old who's gone and done something he thinks is clever."

"Do you really want me to respond to that statement?" Severus queried, hiding his amusement before he briskly turned and led the way to the doors out of the Hospital Wing.

Grumbling under his breath, Harry adjusted the strap to the bag he was given and followed Severus into the school proper.

Hogwarts was just as Severus remembered in his previous years, only with a strange emptiness to it. The castle felt more calm than desolate, however, containing a life of its own within the ancient stones that could just barely be sensed now that the chaos of student life was absent. It was times like these during the summer that Severus felt most at peace- an obvious statement given the lack of the school year stress, but this was different. He reached out a hand to momentarily brush at a section of the stone wall with his fingertips as he walked.

There was a sense of belonging, of protecting and being protected that spoke of the strength of the stones around them, and the wards that he and the other professors maintained. With a quiet sigh, he led Harry further into the dungeons and the rooms there.

Harry found himself passing the time on the walk observing Severus' aura which was calming at a surprising rate towards what he would almost call a meditative state. He took a moment to thank the powers that be for that favor as it meant he wouldn't have to deal with a cranky Severus when they reached their destination. Perhaps if he was careful and didn't push him the wrong way he'd be able to get some more information from him.

There was a moment's surprise when Harry realized he actually had come to enjoy his conversations with Severus when they weren't in the midst of an argument or couched in sarcasm. He smirked- if he knew last year what he knew now ... the smirk abruptly faded as Cedric haunted his thoughts again and he focused his attention upon the black shrouded man before him.

The peace in Severus' aura increased suddenly as the man reached out and briefly brushed his fingers along the wall as he walked before the hand was withdrawn into his flowing robes once more. Curious though he was, Harry decided this wasn't something he was going to question as the sight of the aura like that calmed him as well.

Having passed the Potions classroom and Severus' office a couple of hallways ago, Harry knew Severus' chambers were nearby. Wondering what the results of the scan Severus had run were, Harry jumped a little as Severus spoke up, almost seeming to read his mind.

"Your rooms are across the hall from mine, but before I show you to them I want you to enter the scanner with me again so that I might run another scan and compare the two."

Harry was quick to nod even though Severus was still turned away from him, walking before him like a shadow in the torch-lit dungeons. Curious to get a better look at Severus' chambers now that he was more comfortable with the man, Harry made note to take a look at the sparse area of shelves that had contained momentoes rather than books.

Severus smoothly made his way over to the hidden door once they passed into his chambers, already starting to disassemble his wards as though he, too, was eager for the scan's results. Not entirely surprising, Harry thought; I bet he's always been as much of a bookworm as Hermione, absorbing knowledge for knowledge's sake. Reminded of his friends once again, Harry found himself growing eager to see them again ... but wondered just how much of his summertime adventures he could or should share with them and - oh - and Sirius. He could just imagine the blowout that was in the works for them. Sirius was going to have a cow over this ...

When Harry approached on the way into the unlocked rune room, Severus looked at him oddly - no doubt due to the quiet mooing noises Harry was making, interspersed with equally quiet (but no less on the edge of hysteria) giggles.

In his best classroom voice, Severus archly inquired, "Mr. Potter. What on earth are you making those sounds for?" Harry made short work of explaining his sudden revelation and received a dark snort in response. "Black will deal with it in his customary manner," Severus sneered, "In which case I might ask that you be on hand to heal me later - or to cart your Godmutt to the vet."

Harry felt the Slytherin in him pressing his lips together to keep his protests about Sirius unvoiced in favor of carefully studying Severus' aura. Little shockwaves of hatred were dancing their way around Severus' head, shoulders and neck as though causing tension pains, not hard to believe considering his dark expression and clenched jaw at the moment. At the same time, there was also a darker haze hovering just over his heart, difficult to see against the blackness of his robes before Severus whirled around to not-quite stalk into the hidden room and shutting the door behind them both. With a sigh, Harry realized he'd missed his opportunity to get a look at the pictures on Severus' shelves. He resolved to try again on the way out.

It was soon afterwards that Harry saw something he hadn't noticed before; seeing the tinge of darkness against Severus' black robes just a moment previously had brought this new part of Severus' aura into focus. Before Severus could move further and spoil Harry's view, Harry cried, "Whoa!"

Out of pure incredulity, Severus came to a halt and stared at his student. "Have we gone from cows to horses now?"

Holding up one hand in a request for stillness and silence, Harry managed to utter, "Sorry," but continued to stare at Severus left arm. Several moments passed before he started to slowly approach Severus as though the older wizard was an untamed animal. "Um, there's something there," Harry offered in an attempt at explanation.

Likely knowing that Harry meant more than that, Severus nevertheless gave Harry his patented Sneer-smirk. "Yes. It is frequently referred to as my arm."

With a martyred sigh, Harry continued to stare at it. "Could you raise your left arm up just a moment? And ... erm ..." He stuttered to a halt, not sure how Severus would react to his next request, but fervently wishing for a few moments that he wasn't in a sealed room with him.

"Spit it out, Potter," came Severus annoyed tones.

"Could you ... roll up your sleeve?"


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