Harry sat edgily on his seat, trying to appear engaged in Ron and Seamus’s chess match. In reality, his mind was elsewhere. Against his will, he often found himself thinking of Snape - what he was doing, where he was, how he could help… It had been three days since Snape had revealed to Harry that he truly was on their side, yet Harry had heard nothing from him. He was beginning to think that he had perhaps imagined it; it wouldn’t surprise him anymore. Hermione kept glancing at him surreptitiously when she thought he wasn’t looking, and he knew she was aware that something was up. Despite Dumbledore’s advice that he should keep his friends close, Harry could not find it in him to tell them what had happened yet. He thought it may have something to do with his antagonism towards Snape; admitting to them that Snape was on their side meant that he had been wrong, and that Snape had always been - to an extent - good. Harry couldn’t get his own head around that fact, let alone admit it to the rest. He did consider telling Lupin, but decided that it could wait until another time. Dumbledore had been, after all, very clear about not telling too many people about the Horcruxes, and Harry could not see a way to mention Snape without mentioning the Horcruxes.
“Alright, Harry?” Hermione asked, in a voice that was too casual to be genuine. “You look very faraway. Anything on your mind?”
“No,” Harry replied, his voice also exceedingly nonchalant. “Just watching the chess.” Hermione nodded at him, although Harry knew she was by no means convinced.
‘Potter…get down here now.’
“What?” Harry said in astonishment, twisting around in his seat. That was Snape’s voice…but he was nowhere to be seen.
‘Come outside, you fool.’
“Oh,” Harry gasped, realisation dawning. Snape was a Legilimens…he was doing what Dumbledore had done the night he had died - speaking to Harry from inside his head.
“Harry?” Hermione asked with a frown. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing…I just…I mean…I just remembered I have to do something.” He jumped up from his seat and ran up to the dormitories. He snatched up the box with the Horcruxes in and walked swiftly out of the common room.
“He’s hiding something,” Hermione said to Ron, still frowning.
Ron glanced up from the chess board. “Yeah, he probably is,” he agreed tonelessly. “But then again, when is he not?”
Harry hurried down the stairs and turned the corner quickly, not looking where he was going.
“Ouch!” said a girl’s voice, as Harry walked straight into her.
“Ginny!” Harry said, feeling his cheeks flush. “Sorry…I wasn’t…I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
“That much is obvious,” Ginny said, rubbing her the top of her head, which had just smacked into Harry’s chin. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. You?” Harry asked awkwardly.
“Good,” Ginny said with a nod. “So where are you off to in such a hurry, then?”
“Er…” Harry began in flustered voice; he’d never been any good at lying to Ginny. “Just…er…I was…”
Ginny smiled. “It’s okay, Harry,” she said gently. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” Harry stared at her, feeling an overwhelming desire to kiss her. But he couldn’t. Ginny smiled again and turned to leave. Harry impulsively shot out an arm and grabbed her hand, pulling her back. They stared at each other for a few moments, their faces inches apart.
“Ginny…” Harry began, not sure what he was going to say. “Ginny…” She waited, but when he did not seem to be able to finish she gave a questioning shrug.
“What, Harry?” she asked quietly.
‘Hurry up, Potter - I haven’t got all day.”
Harry flinched as Snape’s voice invaded his mind again. “I have to go, Gin,” he said, turning on his heel and walking quickly away. Ginny watched him go, trying to shake away the awful feeling that she had lost him forever.
“About time, Potter,” Snape sneered, throwing off the invisibly cloak as Harry approached the Whomping Willow. “Your love life is of little importance right now - I suggest you get your priorities sorted.” Harry glared at him, annoyed that Snape somehow knew what had gone on. “I’ve told you before that you are appalling at hiding your emotions. That was one of reasons you were such a poor Occlumens.”
“Well, I was alright when I had a good teacher, wasn’t I Snape?” Harry said tersely.
Snape ignored that comment. “Never mind, Potter. I expect Miss Weasley will wait for you. If you survive, that is,” he said pointedly.
“Well, thanks for the vote of confidence,” Harry snapped.
Snape raised an eyebrow. “I am being realistic, Potter. It is not my job to inflate an already overblown ego. I daresay you have enough arrogance for us both.”
“I’m not my father!” Harry bristled, suddenly angry.
“I am perfectly aware of who you are, Potter,” Snape said coldly.
“I don’t think you are!” Harry said angrily. “Just because I look like him, doesn’t mean I’m the same person! For your information, nobody else apart from you has ever called me arrogant - not one! Because I’m not! My dad may have been arrogant, but that doesn’t mean I have to be, okay? Or are you still too blinded by your hate to see that?”
Snape paused. “You admit your father was arrogant then, Potter?” he asked calculatingly.
Harry hesitated for a second. “Yes, he was,” he said tightly. “Or at least he was when he was fifteen. I saw your memory…I saw what he did to you. And I would never do that to someone, unprovoked…and I think you know I wouldn’t. But that does not mean,” he continued hotly, “that my dad wasn’t a good person. It means he was a normal teenage boy who had faults. Even you, Severus, must have had some. You have no right to constantly insult him and belittle his memory. He was a better man than you’ll ever be.” There was a long silence.
“Did you bring the Horcruxes?” Snape asked abruptly. Harry frowned at that change in topic.
“Yeah. They’re in the box,” he said, gesturing behind him. “Are we going back inside the Shack?”
“Isn’t that a bit risky? That’s where they left us.”
“They will not expect me to have lingered, Potter. They will not think of rechecking this place.” Snape conjured up a long wooden stick and prodded the knot at the bottom of the tree. At once it was still, and he immediately slid down the hole. Harry paused for a moment, and then jumped down too. Snape was already climbing briskly up the stairs when Harry landed, and he scrambled up and followed him.
“Hand me the box,” Snape ordered as soon as Harry stepped into the room with the bed in it. Harry did so. Snape conjured up two chairs, and sat down stiffly, the box tightly clasped in his arms. He extracted first the ring, then the locket and then the cup, and placed them gently on the floor. “Can you spot any connection between them, Potter?”
“Well,” Harry began slowly, “they all represent a Hogwarts House, don’t they? They all belonged to one of the founders. The ring was Ravenclaw’s, the locket was Slytherin’s and the cup was Hufflepuff’s. Dumbledore said he thought the last one must be something of Gryffindor’s.”
“My thoughts, too,” Snape said, quietly, examining the ring closely. “But there is no possession around today, other than the sword, that belonged to Gryffindor.”
“So what d’you think it can be then?”
Snape paused. “Am I right in thinking that you were born in Godric’s Hollow, Potter?”
Harry looked up sharply. “Yeah,” he said guardedly. “Why?”
Snape sighed. “Come on, Potter. What was Gryffindor’s first name?”
Harry blinked. “Godric Gryffindor,” he muttered. “So…so what does that mean?”
“It is my belief,” Snape said carefully, “that the Potters were the last descendants of Godric Gryffindor. Godric’s Hollow has been inhabited by the Potter family for generations, which leads me to think that the Dark Lord may have considered the house as one of Gryffindor’s remaining possessions, and therefore he may have used the house - or part of it at least - as one of his Horcruxes.”
Harry stared at Snape. “So does that mean…does that mean that I’m Gryffindor’s heir?” he asked softly.
Snape exhaled noisily. “If you want to dramatise things, Potter, as you are often prone to do, then yes. If my theory is correct - and it may not be - it would mean that you are indeed Gryffindor’s heir.”
“Is there a way to find out?” Harry asked with a frown. “Because…I mean, if I’m not, then it’s unlikely that the house is, isn’t it?”
“When the Sorting Hat placed you in Gryffindor, Potter, was it an immediate choice?”
“Er…no,” Harry said, his heart sinking. “It did consider putting me in…in another House.”
“Really?” Snape said, looking at Harry fixedly. “And what House would that be?”
“Slytherin,” Harry muttered, looking at the floor.
“Really? How…interesting,” Snape said slowly. “Gryffindor’s heir…a candidate for Slytherin.”
“Well, it didn’t put me there in the end, did it?” Harry said hastily. “It put me in Gryffindor. And,” he added, “I pulled Gryffindor’s sword from out of the Sorting Hat when I was fighting the Basilisk. Dumbledore said only a true Gryffindor could have done that.”
Snape looked slightly impressed, although he quickly arranged his features into a more impassive look. “Really? Well, if you are indeed the heir of Gryffindor, there might well be another Horcrux at Godric’s Hollow.”
“But it’s not there anymore,” Harry said, his heart dropping. “It was destroyed. When Hagrid came to pick me up after Voldemort had disappeared, he said it was all rubble.”
Snape did not look too perturbed. “A Horcrux cannot be destroyed that easily, Potter,” he said, slightly condescendingly. “It has to be removed, and it differs for each Horcrux. Nagini was the easiest, as she was alive; killing her meant the Horcrux was destroyed. But it is not so easy for inanimate objects.”
“So…are we going to go there, then?” Harry asked, his heart beating rather quickly at the thought of returning to the place he had lived as a baby - the place his parents had lived.
“I am, but you are not, Potter,” Snape said, holding up a hand as Harry opened his mouth to argue. “It is not safe. There will undoubtedly be some form of fortification around Godric’s Hollow if there is indeed a Horcrux there. It is not worth you getting yourself killed over. That can wait until the final one.”
Harry glared at Snape, before snatching up the ring himself. It had a large, black stone in the middle, with a long, jagged crack running through the heart of it. It was dusty and looked well worn. He put it down, picking up the cup. It was a bright, shining gold, with amber hued stones studded along at interval. There was a zigzagging fracture along the rim. Harry frowned slightly. He picked up the locket. It was very heavy, and had a large, elaborate ’S’ engraved on the front, gleaming in what looked like emeralds. He turned it over. On the smooth golden surface was a thin, jagged break.
“They’ve all got cracks in,” he mused. “It that significant?”
Snape’s head jerked up from a small book he was making notes in. “I did not give you permission to look at them!” he hissed angrily. He snatched the three items away and threw them hurriedly back into the box.
“What’s the big deal?” Harry asked, annoyed.
“That is not your concern,” Snape said edgily. He had gone surprisingly pale. “And to answer your question, these items are thousands of years old, Potter. It is expected that they would not be in pristine condition, that they may be cracked.”
“Oh. Yeah,” Harry said, feeling rather embarrassed, although he got the distinct impression that Snape was hiding something. Snape’s eyes lingered over the Horcruxes in the box. He looked at Harry, as if seeing him for the first time.
“Potter,” he said, his face somewhat troubled. “I suggest you go now. It does not do to linger here, however safe it may seem. I shall be in touch with you.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Harry asked, standing up.
“Not really,” Snape said with a frown. “You could perhaps try and do a bit of research as to whether you really are a descendant of Godric Gryffindor, although I daresay that will prove rather problematic. Am I correct in thinking that you have no other family? There are no other Potters, aside from yourself, alive today?”
“Hmm. Pity,” Snape said, and Harry glared at him.
The next few days seemed to drag on forever. Harry was waiting on tenterhooks for any news from Snape, but none came. Had something happened? Had Snape been ambushed? Was he hurt? Was he dead? How was Harry meant to know? He was itching to tell someone, but Snape’s warning rang over and over in his head - tell no one. He could find no information about being the heir of Gryffindor - he thought Remus might know something, but didn’t know how he could ask without arousing his suspicion. After another three days, however, Snape made contact again.
‘Come to the Shrieking Shack, Potter.’
Harry stood up, trying to look as though he wasn’t in any hurry. He walked leisurely across the common room.
“Going for another walk, are we?” Ron asked shrewdly.
“Er…yeah,” Harry said with a nod. Ron said nothing, but turned back to the essay he was writing. Harry knew Ron and Hermione were annoyed that he was hiding something - something they guessed was very important - but he could not tell them just yet. He hurried through the grounds and over to the Whomping Willow, disabling the tree’s movements by prodding the knot at the bottom of the trunk with the stick Snape had left there and running up the stairs.
“Well?” he asked eagerly as he entered the bedroom. “Did you find anything?”
Snape looked up from where he was sitting. “No,” he said simply.
“No?” Harry repeated, his heart sinking. “Nothing?”
“Nothing. You were right - it is in ruins.”
“It’s still there?” Harry asked disbelievingly.
“Yes,” Snape said with a nod. “The house was charmed so that is invisible to muggles. When they walk past they see nothing but an empty field. That is probably the reason why it has not been cleared away, which is handy for us. However, there was nothing there.”
“Nothing…nothing at all?” Harry said quietly.
“Well…” Snape hesitated, and reached a hand into his robes. “I did find…I thought you might want…” He tailed off and drew an object out, which he held out to Harry. Harry took it. It was a pair of bent, charred glasses; identical to the pair Harry used to wear. He swallowed heavily.
“Is this…are they…?”
“Yes,” Snape replied curtly, turning away. “Incidentally, why do you not wear your glasses anymore?”
Harry looked up slowly, holding his father’s glasses tight in his hand. “I didn’t need them anymore,” he said dully.
Snape frowned. “What, just like that?”
Snape’s eyes lingered on Harry’s face. “Curious,” he said softly.
“What’s so curious?” Harry asked. “Dumbledore said it was just some more of Voldemort’s powers coming through…you know, like Parseltongue, and wandless magic and stuff…”
“Perhaps,” Snape said quietly, more to himself than Harry. “Perhaps…” He turned to look at Harry again. “Did Dumbledore ever explain why you received some of the Dark Lord’s powers that night?”
“Well…no, not really. He just said that it was because the curse backfired.”
“You look like him, you know.” Snape said suddenly.
“Who, Voldemort?” Harry asked in surprise. Snape flinched.
“The Dark Lord,” Snape hissed.
“I thought I looked like my dad,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.
“You do,” Snape replied curtly. “But there is something in your expression, something in your face…your eyes. It reminds me of him. How he used to be.” Harry said nothing, thinking of the reflection he had seen in the mirror at the Dursley’s . He remembered how Tom Riddle had highlighted the ’strange likenesses’ between them in the Chamber of Secrets in his second year. He had said they were ‘both half-bloods, orphans, raised by Muggles…probably the only two Parselmouths to come to Hogwarts since the great Slytherin himself’. He had finished off by saying ‘we even look something alike’. Harry shook his head.
“Well…anyway,” he managed, “you don’t have any idea what the sixth one could be, then?”
Snape hesitated before speaking. “No,” he said finally. “I suggest you go now, Potter. I will be in contact”.
As Harry stepped back through the portrait hole, the first thing he was greeted with was Ron’s livid face.
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