Chapter 21 : Snape's Apology and Sirena White
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After spilling he and Ginny’s secret romance (how tabloid did that just sound?), Harry felt a huge weight lift from his chest.
He felt so good, in fact, he decided to tell Ron and Hermione (since he already told Ginny) about his Sirius sightings.
Without any secrets between them, he wouldn’t feel lousy about hiding anything from his friends.
In the library, during study hall, Hermione furrowed her brows.
“I wish you would have told us sooner, Harry.”
“I know I should have. I just…wanted him to myself for a while.”
Ron gave a blank stare. “Wait. I’m confused. Sirius is alive?”
“Not essentially, no. He’s not even sure what he is.”
“He’s in limbo.” Hermione explained.
“In what?” Ron asked.
“Limbo. Teetering on both worlds at this point. He wasn’t actually killed, if you remember. Just blasted in.”
“I don’t understand.” Harry complained.
Hermione huffed, getting into teacher mode. “The black veil was invented by Merlin during the crusades, used as a weapon by Arthur and his army.
“Its purpose is to make the captor beg for death. Any of the men who weren’t killed instantly were brought to the veil and shoved half way in and half way out, the veil basically showing them the bright side of death.
“Once pulled out, the captor usually killed himself, just so he could go to what most described as their ‘happy place’. In Sirius’ case, he wasn’t killed, but never got a chance to escape from it, either.”
“So what you’re saying is, even if he did manage to escape before, there’s a good chance he would have killed himself?” Harry asked.
Hermione shrugged. “Can’t say. Every case is different. There’s a good possibility that it could have been more blissful here. I’m not sure. But since he really isn’t dead, his image pops up, which is why he can speak to you. It really isn’t saying much, considering we talk to real ghosts on a regular basis.”
“Where do you learn this stuff?” Ron asked. “I know you didn’t get it out of any book here, even the restricted section.”
Hermione scratched the back of her head. “Mmm. So, I hear we’re having potato pie for lunch. Hope they’re serving soup with that.”
There were only a few things that made Harry nervous. Tests, meeting new girls, the Dursleys, and Professor Severus Snape.
And in sub reference to subject three, the only thing more scary than an irate Snape was an oddly pleasant one.
Oh, in class he was his usual disgruntled self; but he didn’t single out Harry as much and didn’t try to sabotage his assignments- which he seemed to be passing.
He did, however, hit Ron on the back of the head a few times, and rolled his eyes when Hermione answered a question in perfect scientific tongue.
At the end of class, he asked to see Harry alone.
Ron and Hermione sent him uneasy, supporting grins and decided to wait for him outside.
Gulping, Harry walked over to Snape’s desk.
“Sit down, Potter.”
Harry was in his chair in under a second.
After flicking his wrists like a magician, he folded his hands and glared at Harry.
“I hated your father with an unexplainable passion. If he were alive today, I’d still hate him the same. He was an arrogant, stubborn, glory hog who wanted nothing more than to be the center of everyone’s attention. He picked on students less, shall we say…popular than he.” He half grinned, half snarled, knowing Harry understood where he was coming from.
“Your godfather wasn’t any better. Always egging him on.
“Naturally when you came to Hogwarts I’d assumed you’d be the same as your father. And you are in some ways. You are stubborn. You’re athletic, like he was. And, aside from the eyes, you look exactly like him. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so hard on you.
“I knew you weren’t involved with most of the events I accused you of. Indirectly at least.”
“Let me finish.” Snape snapped. His eyes never softened throughout the entire explanation. “You were right. This was my revenge on the boy who made my life a living hell. And James dead doesn’t make it very satisfying.
“I wanted to believe when your parents died you’d be set up with some rich relatives who spoiled you to no end just so I could hate you more.”
“Sir, erm, I’m not quite sure I understand where this is going.”
Snape was silent for a moment. “I don’t want to be your friend, Potter. I don’t want to be your mentor. And quite frankly, hating you is exhausting. So this ends here. And this apology stays here. If you tell anyone, just be fully aware that I’m good at hiding bodies and covering myself.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Now get out.”
He stood, and paused. “One question, sir, if I may. Did you know an Aphrodite Willows?”
Snape’s brows furrowed in confusion. “Black chased that girl around when we went to school. Married her, I think.”
“Know where to find her?”
“She disappeared after your parents’ death. Nobody’s seen her in years.”
“Wow, that’s strange.” Ron commented as they walked to their DA class.
“Poor Sirius.” Hermione added.
“I know. I really need to find her.” Harry explained as they all took their seats. “She’s the only living eye witness, besides Pettigrew, who can testify on Sirius’ behalf.”
“You know how we’re going to find her, right?” Hermione asked.
“How?” Ron questioned.
“To find the mother, we need to locate the daughter.”
After everyone had settled and focused their attention on Azura, they noticed her grinning playfully.
“You lot are going to love this lesson. Today, we’re learning pressure points.”
“You’re in a mood.” Season pointed out as Azura paced their study.
Azura laughed and stretched as Season idly flipped through a book.
“I am. I’m feeling…frisky right now.”
She turned, eyes bright. “We did pressure points today.”
“Ah. That explains it.” Season replied, raising an eyebrow. “Violence always makes you abnormally happy.”
“Does that make me dodgy?”
Season waved her off. “Nah. Just one of your many quirks. C’mon. I think the guys are through working out. Why don’t we see if they’ve…cooled off yet.”
It definitely was an interesting scene.
Ethan and Wood had formed a little club of their own- The Athlete’s Club.
Three days a week would consist of a three mile run, a mile swim and weight lifting.
Technique and skill was worked on the most during Quidditch practices rather than athleticism. So this was a chance to work on muscle form and speed- keeping the players in shape.
Though you didn’t have to play Quidditch to join, many did.
By the time the sisters got to the showers for a peek, only a few remained, including Ron, who was sprawled out on the floor, belly down, passed out; Harry, who sat on one of the benches with his eyes closed, and Ethan and Wood, standing, holding a conversation like they just spend the last few hours doing nothing more than a game of paddy cake.
All wore nothing but towels at the waist.
From the window above, sat Season and Azura, in pure heaven.
Harry felt eyes on him. He opened one slowly, and before he could register what he saw, he heard Ethan curse.
“Damn cats. Never see ‘em around castle grounds until after we get in here. Makes me think they do it on purpose just to make us feel violated.”
Understanding the feeling, Harry was appreciative of the towel.
Then he got a good look at the cats. One was bright orange tabby with bright emerald eyes. The other, a dark long haired with sapphire blue eyes.
The dark one winked at him, and then he knew. Those cats were the Julius twins, he’d bet money on it, in their anamagi form.
Grinning, he shook his head and mouthed out “evil”.
They just nimbly pranced down and walked towards Ethan and Wood.
“Jesus! Christ Jesus!” Ethan stammered as Season began to wind herself through his legs. “It’s staring at my penis!”
Harry laughed. “I think it’s a girl.”
“Yeah, uh- huh, whatever. You know, I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I’ve never been more afraid of two pussies in my entire life.” He began to back away cautiously, then, forgetting about Ron,tripped and landed flat on his back. Ron didn’t even stir.
“A little help here, Wood!”
Wood was too busy having a staring contest with Azura. He froze, not wanting to make any sudden moves, not totally comfortable knowing he was about to break under her gaze. “Nice kitty. Shoo, kitty.” He ordered, flinging his hand.
Azura gave an inward chuckle. He’s so damn cute.
Instead of “shooing”, she leapt into his arms, licked him on the cheek, and pranced down, swishing her tail.
After signaling Season their fun was over, they deftly jumped the obstacles to the top window and disappeared.
Wood moved a hand to his cheek. “Why do I feel like that was a bit personal?”
Ethan stood next to him, clutching his towel tighter and squeezing his buttocks. “I’m telling you, those cats are freaky. I feel like I’ve just co-starred in kitty porn.”
Harry stood and draped an arm around his shoulders. “Was it good for you?”
“Fuck you, Potter.”
Harry laughed as Ron stirred from the floor. “What’d I miss?”
Ginny wondered if someone in school was handing out happy potions; and if so, why she wasn’t being offered any.
Three more bizarre hook ups had formed: Neville and Luna, Seamus and Susan Bones, and Pansy Parkinson and Colin Creevey. Yeah, what was that about?
It seemed the whole school had hopped aboard the hook-up train, and it didn’t matter with whom.
She and Harry, to most of the students at Hogwarts, seemed like the perfect couple; he with his tall, dark and athletic frame; she with her pixie features and glib tongue. Even the staff thought the two of them resembled his parents at their age.
They had loads of fun together…but more recently his new obsession in finding this Aphrodite Willows and her offspring kept him away from her.
Not that she expected him to be with her 24/7, but she didn’t like playing second fiddle to some woman they never even met.
True, this was Sirius’ wife, and she was curious, but part of her felt neglected, especially since all they had was physical attraction. She needed someone who mentally stabilized her as well. Harry Potter just wasn’t the one to do it. What she saw them as, was, well, friends with benefits.
It was time, she decided, to end the relationship. One month of façade was enough.
She found him in the library.
Taking a deep breath, she flicked back her hair and walked over to him.
He sat, next to Ron, engrossed in a book titled Genealogy: Finding the History to your Past by Chrysalis McFarland.
“Harry?” she asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“Hm?” Distracted, he looked at her.
“We need to talk. Can I-"
Before she could finish, Hermione pranced in, face glowing, and slapped a piece of scribbled parchment in front of Harry.
Harry moved his gaze from Ginny to Hermione’s triumphant face.
They found the mother first.
Aphrodite Willows-Black, using the name Sirena White, lived outside of Hogsmede, in a quaint cabin surrounded by forest and land, secluded from the rest of the world.
Hermione had stayed tight-lipped, once again, about her resource; but Harry figured her abrupt meeting with Dumbledore had something to do with it.
Brisk November air had them zipping up coats and tightening their scarves as they walked towards the little house.
Smoke bellowed from the chimney, giving a warm, welcoming feeling. They’d see if that was true when they knocked on the door.
Standing on the door stoop, Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron glanced around, taking a deep breath.
Harry knocked on the door. No answer.
He knocked again. “Mrs. White? Are you home?” Still no answer.
He sighed, and rested his palm on the door. “Aphrodite Willows? I know you’re in there, I see the chimney smoke. I need to talk to you.”
The door cracked open an inch and one violet eye peeked out. “What do you want?”
“My name is Harry Potter-"
The door swung open and Aphrodite Willows stood in the foyer, gaping. Tears began to form in her eyes. “Sweet Merlin, it is you.”
Harry understood why Sirius had been so engrossed in her beauty. She was stunning.
She had long legs and was all curves. Her dark, curly hair was done in a messy braid and thrown over a shoulder. Long, ink black lashes framed her round, amethyst eyes and her lush, pouty mouth completed the very sexy package.
She’d aged well, showing few wrinkles, mostly worry lines etched in her brow.
She hiccoughed, as more tears began to fall. “I’m sorry.” She began, dashing them away. “Come in, come in. You must be chilly. I’ll put some tea on.”
Nobody said anything as they took a seat and Aphrodite busied herself in the kitchen.
After pouring some tea and offering some scones-not the rock hard ones they were used to from Hagrid-, she sat, eyes dry now and studied Harry.
“My, you are a spitting image of James. Except the eyes. Aye, the eyes are Lily. But I suppose you get that often.”
Her soft, Irish lilt made everyone in the room feel relaxed and comfortable.
“Yes, ma’am, I do.”
She crinkled her nose and waved a hand. “Please. Don’t call me ma’am. Makes me feel old. It’s Di.”
Sitting back in her chair, she grinned. “Well, boy-o, are you going to introduce me to your friends and tell me why you’ve come or am I going to have to guess?”
“Right, er, this is Ron and Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger.”
“Hermione? That’d be Greek.”
She nodded. “Good stock.”
“Erm, Di, we came her because we wanted to discuss Sirius with you.” Harry explained.
Something resembling sadness came and went in her eyes before it was masked.
She took a deep breath and released it. “Okay. Since you don’t have mutiny in your eyes I suppose you know enough to understand his innocence.”
“Yes, I do. I guess…I guess I should start from three years ago…”
He told her everything. From his first sighting of the big black, shaggy dog, down to the last sighting.
Her expression changed little throughout his story, but her eyes are what gave her emotions away. She still loved him.
“Well, Harry, if it were anyone else I’d call you a liar.” She replied, wiping away a stray tear. “But your story is extremely accurate, and I know you have no reason to deceive me.”
“I’m sorry if I upset you. It’s just…any link to Sirius I can get, I take.”
She laughed. “You didn’t upset me, Harry. You just made me remember.”
She smiled warmly and took his hand.
"Now, answer me this. How did you find me? I figured maybe Aislinn told you, but I’m positive she would have made the trip with you.”
“Aislinn?” Ron asked. “Who’s that?”
“Why, our daughter of course. She attends Hogwarts, too. Obviously not by Black. I thought maybe you would have run into her by now.”
They all exchanged glances. Duh!
This was a new feeling…this content sensation. Was Harry supposed to feel relieved, comfortable with the fact that he had just been dumped?
Late in the evening, in the Gryffindor common room, Ginny still sat curled in Harry’s lap, watching the fire.
Despite the fact that the relationship was now over, Harry still had an arm around her shoulder and his chin rested on the top of her head.
“Harry, you’re quiet. Are you mad?”
He sighed. “No, I’m not mad, Ginny. It's just that the more I think about it, the more it all makes sense.”
“We’re not in love with each other.”
“No, we’re not. I think we make better friends than a couple.”
Excited, she faced him. “Exactly! I mean, we were really good…together, but that’s all we had. There’s enough young female in me to want the fireworks and the knight in shinning armor. I want to be swept off my feet…you’re definitely a knight, Harry. Just not mine.”
He chuckled. “Yeah. And I think the only reason we even did this is because it was expected.”
She thought about it for a moment. “You know, I think you’re right. ‘The Boy Who Lived Shags only Sister of Best Friend’.”
Harry winced. “Something like that.”
He heard his stomach growl, exchanged a look with Ginny.
Smirking, she raised an eyebrow. “You just ate a couple of hours ago.”
“I could use the ‘growing boy’ cliché, but it’s overused.” He nudged her aside. “I’m going to the kitchen. Want anything?”
“Using the invisibility cloak?”
“Mmm. The strawberry shortcake we had for dessert was good.”
“Should have known you’d want the cake.” He grinned at her. “Didn’t you just eat a couple of hours ago?” he mocked.
She sent him a sultry smile. “I’m a growing girl.”
He took the marauder’s map as well, just in case. A glance showed Filch and his cat on the opposite side of the castle.
Chuckling, he noticed two other points heading in the same direction as he was. Ethan Knox and Oliver Wood moved steadily towards the kitchens.
He decided it was safe enough to forego the cloak, and, hoping they didn’t turn into pompous assholes overnight, went to join them.
He found them at the painting with the ticklish pear.
Wood stopped in mid tickle, nearly jumping out of his skin at the sound of Harry’s voice. Ethan’s arms shot up in the air, surrendering.
When they realized who it was, they sighed in relief.
“Christ on crack, Potter, never sneak up on a man on his way to the kitchen.”
“Sorry.” Harry unsuccessfully tried to hide a grin.
Wood placed a hand on his beating heart. “What are you doing out of bed, anyway?”
Ethan and Wood exchanged glances.
“Can’t deduct points from his house just because he’s guilty of the same thing we are.” Wood rationalized.
Ethan agreed. “Yeah. And I really want some of that strawberry shortcake.”
It was Harry who tickled the pear.
After gaining access to the kitchen, the three of them split up and went to town, with the help of the house elves, who were more cooperative towards Harry after he secretly apologized for Hermione’s behavior.
They were in the middle of their second slice of cake, discussing Wood’s Azura phobia, when they heard it: the knocking.
Coming from somewhere in the kitchen was the unmistakable sound of something thumping in one of the cupboards.
Stopping in mid-chew, they exchanged glances and silently agreed to find out where it was coming from.
They stopped searching when they saw something move; a door handle from a middle cupboard.
Ethan pushed Harry forward. "Open it, Potter, don’t be a pussy.”
Harry gulped. “You’re the professor. You’re supposed to protect me.”
Ethan’s response was a snort, causing Wood to roll his eyes. “I’ll do it.” Hoping it wasn’t a boggart; he did, and gaped at what he saw.
To their own credits, Ethan didn’t flip out and Harry didn’t faint. They just stood, as Dobby the house elf went at it on top of a clearly drunk Winky.
“Dobby is busy, sirs…”
Harry silently closed the cupboard door as Ethan folded his arms around his chest.
“I feel dirty.”
Wood sucked in a breath. “We don’t speak of this to anyone.”
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