Chapter 3 : The Poet
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Warm hand on his shoulder, the Headmaster steered Benjamin through a large pair of doors to his right into an even grander room than the one he had been in before. Four long tables sat side by side, benches on either side of each filled most of the room, along with a fifth shorter table up on a little platform at what must have been the front of the room. As soon as they walked in, a thousand floating candles lit up seemingly by themselves, but still this was not the most amazing thing Benjamin had seen tonight. Above the candles and high high above the tables there was no ceiling at all, but great stormy clouds instead with lightening streaking across the sky. Benjamin wanted to say wow but felt that he would seem too stupid if he did. A thousand questions suddenly bloomed into existence in his mind as well, but he was too afraid to ask them.
Sensing the questions on his mind, the aging Headmaster said calmly as he steered Benjamin behind the fifth and elevated table and through a door behind it, “The ceiling is enchanted dear boy, to be as the sky beyond it. It is perhaps one of the greatest enchantments placed on this castle.”
The enchanted ceiling vanishing from sight once he was steered through the new door, Benjamin turned his gaze on the new room. It was large and circular with only one other door leading off of it. There was a massive fireplace opposite the first door, and just as the floating candles in the other room, it lit seemingly of it’s own accord when they entered, filling the room with a warm light. The warmth washed over Benjamin, and he wanted to simply sink to his knees in front of it and strip off his wet clothes.
“Please, have a seat Benjamin,” the Headmaster motioned to one of several fluffy chairs and a very comfortable looking couch that sat in a semicircle around the fire.
Benjamin did as he was told, but was afraid to get in trouble for getting the red chair all wet and muddy, so he only sat on the edge, his bag still strapped to his back.
“Don’t worry about the chair,” the Headmaster said kindly, making Benjamin wonder if he could read minds. “The caretaker Mr. Filch will clean it after he has fetched you some dry clothes.” Benjamin’s eyes shot up at this. He was sure the cruel faced man would not be happy at all with Benjamin if he had to clean up more of the mess he’d made.
Benjamin relaxed a little bit anyway, despite his fears of the caretaker. There was silence for a few moments as the Headmaster watched him and Benjamin enjoyed the warmth of the fire.
Finally the Headmaster asked, “What brings you to us in the middle of a stormy night Benjamin, and at the end of three days travel?”
He held his hands tight together and fidgeted a little bit. He hadn’t really thought about what he would tell to whomever he had found at the castle.
“My mum told me to come here sir.”
The Headmaster did not stop smiling. “Why, may I ask?”
Benjamin looked at the floor. “She died.”
When no more was forthcoming from the boy the Headmaster said gently, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Benjamin nodded. These were familiar words. He had heard them over and over again at the funeral a week before. For a split second he actually felt as if he were back at his small cabin, and then the feeling was gone.
“Why did your mother send you here Benjamin?”
He looked up at him again. After a moment he slowly took his backpack off and undid the latch on top. Tucked safely between his two pairs of soaking clothes and his one picture of him and his mother was the waterproof bag with the poem inside. He carefully pulled the aging parchment from inside and held it out to the Headmaster.
“She said my father worked here sir. She said he wrote that to her when, when…” he paused, unsure of what to say, “Before they had me.”
Dumbledore never took his eyes from Benjamin while he talked. Finally he looked down at the parchment and gently took hold of it, pulling it close enough to read. When he was done, he handed it back. Benjamin knew there was no signature on it.
“Do you know your father’s name?” Benjamin shook his head. “She, my mother, died before she told me.”
Dumbledore nodded and held the poem back out so that Benjamin could take it again. Thinking perhaps that the Headmaster had gotten the wrong impression about his father, and unsure why he felt the need to defend a man he had never even met before, Benjamin suddenly said, “She, my mum had only good things to say about him.” He paused and searched his mind for the things she had told him. “She loved him a lot.” With this he looked back to the crackling fire.
The Headmaster let the boy think for a few moments in silence, before he said gently, “We had a clover here once. Her name was Kaden. She was in Ravenclaw house. That was 12 years ago.”
Benjamin’s eyes had snapped back to the old man’s. “My mum’s name is… was, Kaden!” He was excited to find somebody that had known his mother.
The Headmaster nodded slowly. “Would I be right in assuming you are about twelve years old Benjamin?”
Benjamin frowned a little bit. “Well, I just turned ten… a few months ago I mean.” Just as he finished, the caretaker and his cat found their way through the door from the room with the enchanted ceiling, a neatly folded stack of clothes in his hand.
“These were all what I found in his size in the laundry sir.” Dumbledore nodded and pointed behind Benjamin to the only other door in the room.
“You may change in the bathroom Benjamin,” Dumbledore said kindly still. The difference in the two men’s tones amazed Benjamin. Carefully he took the folded shirt and pants and undergarments from the caretaker and moved for the bathroom door before remembering his bag.
As he turned to head back to the couch where it sat, the Headmaster said, “Your things will be safe here with me.” Benjamin looked at him, trying to decide if he could trust the Headmaster. He decided that he could, and went through the door to the bathroom to change.
Once he was gone, the Headmaster looked again at Filch, and said quietly, “Please fetch Severus.”
Filch frowned. “He’ll be in a right state me wakin’ him up at this hour!”
Dumbledore rubbed his temple. “It is not that late Argus. Please fetch him, and say nothing of the boy.”
Filch grumbled something so low that he thought nobody could hear it, but bowed slightly anyway on his way out of the room. A few moments later Benjamin reappeared with his pile of wet clothes in his arms.
“Sir, what, what do I do with these?” He held up the clothes. Dumbledore motioned for him to set them by the fire.
“They will be taken care of young man, you need not worry.”
Already having decided to trust this man, Benjamin set his clothes down on the stone floor by the fire. Just as he turned a tray with two steaming cups of hot chocolate and a small bowl of marshmallows appeared out of thin air on an end table next to the couch. Benjamin jumped a little and felt ashamed for it.
“Do not be startled. It only took a while for the house elves to make the water hot.” Benjamin wanted to ask what a house elf was, but refrained from doing so.
“I can have one?” he asked uncertainly.
Dumbledore nodded, “Certainly my dear boy! It was made for you!” The Headmaster chuckled quietly to himself and Benjamin reached forward to wrap both hands around a cup of hot chocolate. He didn’t like marshmallows much, but the first sip of hot chocolate warmed him instantly from the inside out. His hair, still soaked, dripped a few times onto his dry shirt, but he made sure that the cold water stayed away from the steaming hot chocolate.
Having had no dry shoes to put on, he had put his soaking ones back onto his cold feet, even with the new dry socks he had on. The hot chocolate and fire were helping in unison to warm him though.
They sat in silence, Benjamin feeling almost safe enough to sleep, the Headmaster sitting on a blue chair across from him that was just a little lighter than the blue of his robes, his fingers steepled in front of him as he was deep in thought. After what seemed like half an hour, but in reality was no more than five or six minutes, the door to the grand room beyond once again opened, this time admitting the caretaker and another man, dressed in long, sweeping black robes. The second man did not have an unkind face like the caretaker, but did not have a kind face like the Headmaster’s. He had black hair just like Benjamin, but it was shoulder length and straight instead of short and curly. At first the man’s black eyes did not notice the boy sitting on the couch in front of the fire, only the Headmaster, fingers steepled and deep in thought.
“Headmaster?” the new man asked quietly, a tone of curiosity in his voice.
Dumbledore did not look up at him, but instead motioned to Benjamin with one hand.
“Severus, we have a guest tonight,” he paused, and then asked, “Do you recognize this boy?”
Benjamin, who hadn’t taken his eyes off of the new man yet met his eyes when he turned to face him. His heart leapt a little with fear and uncertainty as he realized that this man’s eyes were black like his. Was this his father?
Severus’ dark eyes surveyed the boy, unsure of why he had been called at 2 am to the lower staff lounge.
“No Headmaster,” he said quietly, turning back to Dumbledore.
With a look at the Headmaster, the caretaker bowed quickly and said, “If that will be all tonight sir?” Dumbledore nodded and Filch left.
Dumbledore looked up at Severus and held up the piece of aged parchment to him. “Perhaps you know who he is looking for then. He brings this in search of his father.”
Benjamin’s heart leapt again and he wished that it would stop beating so hard. He was sure that the other two men in the room would hear it over the crackling fire.
Severus took the parchment from him and glanced at it for only a moment before he looked back to the Headmaster. He had no need to read the words written on the page to know that they were his words in his flowing script. Dumbledore was not looking at him though, and was instead looking at his fingers, which were once again steepled in front of him.
Having nowhere else to look, Severus looked back at the boy who was looking up at him with a kind of need in his eyes. This time Severus took a close look at him, taking in his black hair and black eyes. Those were the only two traits that he had not inherited from Kaden. In every other way the boy reminded Severus of her. The way he looked up at him expectantly, the way he sat, both hands around the cup of hot chocolate, the way his face was perfectly even and symmetrical on both sides… He was at a loss for words. He had known that he had had a son. It was the reason that he had made Kaden leave the country and promise not to come back. With the Dark Lord loose, he could not risk loosing Kaden or their son. Even after the Potter boy had somehow managed to defeat the Dark Lord four years earlier, he could not bring himself to send for Kaden and their son, for fear that he was not altogether gone and would come back will full vengeance.
Dumbledore looked up at Severus when he said nothing. “This is Benjamin Clover Severus, Kaden’s son.”
Severus looked back down at the poetry, not seeing or reading it. “His name is Benjamin Severus Clover,” he said quietly.
Benjamin’s eyes widened. “You know my name?”
Severus nodded. “I know your name because you are my son.”
A/N: You took the time to read it! Please Review! Thanks!
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