Chapter Four: A New Home
Benjamin stared up at the man. There had been times in his life when he had wished he had known who his father was. There had even been times when he had wished that his father had been there with them. Tonight was the end of both of those wishes. He didn’t know the man standing before him, head bowed, holding the poem that had belonged to his mother, and now belonged to him. He would gladly give this man’s life, for that of his mothers if he could have her back but one more year, one more day, one more hour.
The Headmaster watched Benjamin and Severus carefully, unsure of what would happen next, and very curious to find out.
After a few moments, Severus, still not looking at the Headmaster, said, “He is a year before the age of entrance to the school.”
The Headmaster nodded. “He is also welcome here until he no longer wishes to be so.”
Benjamin didn’t know if he liked being talked about like this, as if he weren’t in the room. He was tired, and wished that both men would leave so that he could sleep in front of the fire on the comfortable couch.
“He has been traveling in the rain for three days and nights,” the Headmaster added, not lightly. Benjamin sensed from his tone that he was unsure of what Severus’ intentions were.
Severus could not look at the boy or the Headmaster. Kaden would never leave their son alone. She would never send him alone like this unless she was not alive to see him safely back herself. Grief threatened to overtake him.
He turned, the poem still in his hand. “Come,” he said quietly, and left the room.
Unsure if it was him who was being talked to, Benjamin looked at Dumbledore for help. He nodded, and said, “Leave your things. They will be brought to you in the morning.”
Benjamin stared at the bag for a moment, and reached in before he stood up, pulling from within it the only picture of him and his mother. No matter how much he trusted the aging man, he wouldn’t leave the picture there without him all night. With the picture tucked safely in a shirt pocket, Benjamin followed the other man from the room, leaving the Headmaster to his thoughts by the fire.
Out in the massive room with the floating candles and enchanted ceiling, Benjamin found Severus waiting by the door back to the massive entrance way. Quietly he walked to him and then followed him out and across the entrance way and down a dark set of steps to a lower part of the castle.
Down and down they went until they reached a long, cramped feeling corridor with dim lights. Neither said a word the entire way.
Finally stopping at a door, Severus said, “You may sleep here. It is a visitor’s room.”
Benjamin looked at the door, and then back at the poem the man still held. He held it gingerly just as Benjamin did, as if it were the most precious thing in the world, and would crumble away if touched too roughly. An odd feeling came to him then that the poem would be safe in this man’s hands. Quietly he pushed the door open and stepped inside.
The room was square, but not too small or large for him. It seemed to fit perfectly in fact. There was a desk against one wall, with a chair, a dresser on the opposite wall, and right in the middle of the two a bed that was larger than the one Benjamin had at home.
“Where-” Benjamin turned to ask the other man where he could find him in the morning, but he was already gone. Benjamin’s shoulders dropped a little in disappointment. Quietly he closed the door and locked it, feeling both too uncomfortable and unsafe with the caretaker lurking around to leave it open. As with the other rooms he had seen so far, the lights came on in this one by themselves: a candle on the desk along with a lantern that hung from the ceiling.
As with the hot chocolate before, there was now a small tray of halved sandwiches on the desk that had appeared from nowhere, and again he wondered what exactly a house elf was. Was it some kind of machine that made food appear? Could it make food disappear also?
With a last look around the lonely bedroom, Benjamin sat down quietly on the edge of the bed, covered in a beautiful green blanket, and cried.
Three rooms down, Severus Snape sat in his study at his desk, head in his hands, poem in front of him. This is where it had started, he thought to himself, and this is where it would end. The beauty that was Kaden Clover was gone, and with it his heart.
“My flower,” he said gently, as if he were speaking to her one more time, “why did it have to be this way?”
The next morning Severus unlocked and pushed open the door to Benjamin’s room. The boy was cuddled up on top of the green blankets on the foot of the bed, something paper clutched in his hand. In his sleep the boy’s hair had grown even curlier, probably from drying out by itself. Severus was more uncertain now than he had ever been about anything in his life. He did not even know how to wake the boy.
He cleared his throat once, but the boy did not stir. Again he cleared his throat to no avail. He was the head of house for 60-80 students every year, some who could not keep themselves out of trouble, and he could not even wake his own son?
Gathering his nerve, he said aloud, “Benjamin!”
The boy jumped a little and looked around wildly. Perhaps he had said it with too much force. His gaze finally coming to rest on his father, an uncertain look lingering in his eyes, Snape cleared his throat once again and Benjamin quickly put whatever it was that he had been holding back into his pocket. It was not until later that Snape realized that it was a picture. Now that he had woken him, he hadn’t thought about what to say.
“There are things we need to speak of with the Headmaster. Change and meet me in the corridor.”
Benjamin frowned, wondering what he was going to change into as his father tried to back out and close the door.
“But, what-” he started. Severus stopped and raised his eyebrows. His gaze fell on a neatly folded stack of clothes next to a backpack on the desk. Benjamin looked there now too and was ashamed that he had asked.
Without a word, Snape continued out of the room and closed the door behind him.
Happy to have his own clean, and dry clothes to change into, Benjamin hurried to change, sure that if he kept the man outside waiting, that he would catch the fullness of his as of yet unseen wrath. Maybe there was a mistake, he thought to himself calmly. Maybe his middle name was just a coincidence and his father had stopped working here a long time ago.
Benjamin carefully opened the bedroom door. His father was waiting down the hall a little bit. When he stepped out, his father walked off without a word. Was he expected to follow? Deciding that he was, he hurried after him, trying to take the stairs two at a time to keep up with his father’s longer legs and quick pace.
When they emerged back out into the entrance hall, Benjamin thought he might go blind from the light shining in through the many multi story windows. It was no longer stormy outside, and Benjamin thought of the enchanted ceiling in the room with the five long tables, wondering what it would look like. Instead of entering the Great hall however, his father turned and began to climb a grand marble staircase, leaving Benjamin to hurry in his wake, still trying to keep up.
Up and up they went through the castle. Down a long corridor, around a corner, up some more stairs, left down another corridor… Benjamin tried to remember it all but he could not. He knew that if he were to get separated from the man leading him now that he would be lost for good.
Finally they stopped at a stone gargoyle that Benjamin thought looked quite interesting. Maybe his father thought it was interesting too, and that is why they had stopped to look at it? But the next second and Snape had said, “Licorice wands.” Benjamin looked up at him, wondering what he was talking about when the stone gargoyle suddenly sprung to life and stepped aside, revealing a hole in the wall. Benjamin had almost leapt back, but managed not to do so.
Severus did not wait for him to ask how the gargoyle had come to life, and stepped quickly into the opening in the wall. At first Benjamin thought he was levitating, because his father began to rise, but in a moment he realized that it was a moving staircase, just like the ones Muggles had in big cities sometimes. He had only been to a mall twice in his life, but both times he had seen escalators like this one. He stepped onto it just as his father’s feet were about to disappear. Unlike a Muggle escalator however, this staircase turned as it rose, and carried them in a spiral upwards.
Benjamin looked back to the opening in the wall just in time to see the gargoyle step in front of it again and solidify back to stone, leaving them in darkness. It was only a moment more however before they had reached the top, and a door had appeared. Severus raised his hand to knock, but it opened before he could do so, filling the cramped stairwell with brilliant light.
“Good morning Severus,” came Dumbledore’s voice from inside. Snape walked in, and Benjamin stood on the threshold for a moment before he followed.
Inside was an office… of sorts. It looked more like a toy store to Benjamin. There were hundreds of little whirring contraptions and spinning things on the Headmaster’s desk and shelves. Even on the windowsill was a small shiny orb the size of a tennis ball that floated and spun slowly all by itself. “Good morning Benjamin.” He turned to face the Headmaster reluctantly, wanting to continue looking at all of the odd things in the room, curious as to what each one was for.
“Good morning sir,” Benjamin said quietly. The old man was smiling kindly, just as he had been the night before. Benjamin gave him a small smile in return, not wanting to make this man dislike him as his father and the caretaker clearly did.
“Headmaster-” Severus started, but before he could finish, Dumbledore was in the middle of a sentence, still talking to Benjamin.
“Would you like a lemon drop?” He motioned to a bowl of little yellow candies on his desk. Benjamin would have very much liked one, but he hadn’t had breakfast yet and he didn’t want his father to yell at him.
With a sideways glance at his father, he said quietly, “I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.”
The Headmaster smiled more and chuckled to himself quietly. “Perhaps another time then Mr. Clover.”
Snape had watched Dumbledore throughout this exchange, his patience tested. Finally Dumbledore looked at the Potion’s Master and asked kindly, “Would you like a lemon drop Severus?”
Benjamin looked incredulously at the Headmaster and then up to his father. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or run for his life at the look his father was giving the other man.
Through gritted teeth Severus said, “No, thank you.”
Dumbledore winked one of his brilliant blue eyes at Benjamin and Benjamin smiled, his attention again drawn to a few of the many instruments on a little triangular end table beside the Headmaster’s large desk.
“Sir-” Snape started again, and again he was cut off.
“Benjamin,” the Headmaster said calmly. Benjamin turned to him expectantly. “Perhaps you could do me a favor?”
Benjamin looked up at his father, who now looked very angry. Benjamin nodded.
The Headmaster pulled out an envelope stamped with a wax seal on the back. “Please go back down the stairs and turn left. Go just down the corridor to the next door and slide this underneath. Then come back and wait at the bottom of the stairs until Severus comes for you.”
He held out the envelope and Benjamin took it. Down the stairs and to the left to the next door, then back again. Anything that would take him away from the argument that was sure to come between the two men was good enough for him. Doing as he was told he pulled open the door to the Headmaster’s office and stepped onto the stairs, which were now moving downward. The door closed behind him, and the only words he caught before he was out of earshot were, “Now Severus, what can I do for you this fine morning?”
Benjamin now out of the room, Severus sat heavily in one of the overstuffed visitor’s chairs, head in one hand.
Dumbledore’s fingers were steepled in front of him again as he took in the man in front of him.
“Kaden is dead,” he said quietly, letting some of the despair of the night before wash over him again, “and I have a son who I do not know, who probably doesn’t want to be here.”
The Headmaster was quiet for a while. Finally he said, “Severus, the boy traveled a very long way to find you. According to him, his mother had nothing but good things to say about you.”
Severus shook his head. “I never understood that. I could never figure out why she loved me.”
Dumbledore looked down at his desk. “She had eyes only for you Severus. I saw it every time she looked at you during meal times, or passing in the corridor. It did not surprise me to find out that the two of you were married within a year after her departure from Hogwarts.”
Snape looked up sharply at him. “You knew?”
“Yes.” Severus sighed. That wasn’t why he had kept Kaden and Benjamin a secret of course.
“I assume you sent them away because of Lord Voldemort?” Snape nodded. “And you did not expect to ever see your son again?” It was more of a statement than a question, and if left a heavy silence hanging between them for a few moments.
“I did not expect that he should know what kind of person his father is.”
Dumbledore stood now, and moved to his window. He had seen the boy trudging up the muddy drive from this spot the night before. Watched him slip and fall and continue on, and sent Filch to greet whomever the traveler was when he got to the Entrance Hall.
He turned to Severus, who was still sitting in the chair with his head in his hand. “He is a fine boy Severus. Feed him, clothe him, talk to him. He is in your charge now. That is what you do, not because you have to, but because I would hope, that he was the outcome of great love between you and Kaden.”
Snape sighed again. “School will begin in one month. What of the boy then when I have little time to watch him?”
Dumbledore smiled. “I do not believe he needs watching so closely that you cannot attend to your duties.” He paused for a moment, and then said, “If you wish, and Benjamin wishes also, I do not believe it will be a tragedy to grant him admittance to the school a little early.”
“He is not ready for that,” Snape said quickly, finally meeting the Headmaster’s eyes.
“Ah, but how do you know this? How many words have you exchanged with the boy since you have known him?”
Snape looked down. He could probably count them if he tried. “Remember Severus, it is his decision also. I believe he had the chance to go to any number of other places in the past week, instead of coming to face a father he wasn’t sure wanted him. He made it this far on his own. Perhaps he is like his father in that he is too stubborn to give some ventures up.”
Benjamin watched the stone gargoyle carefully as he stood in the corridor patiently, the envelope having been delivered. While it was completely stone now, he could have sworn he had seen it blink. Just as he was about to get closer to it to have a better look, it sprang to life once again, and his father stepped down from the moving staircase.
Feeling he was suddenly under his father’s scrutiny, as the man was now watching him closely, he stood a little straighter and tried to hold his gaze. The only other time Benjamin had seen eyes that black was when he looked in the mirror to brush his teeth or comb his hair.
“I, delivered the letter,” Benjamin said quietly, finally turning his head to look down the hall toward the door he had slipped it under, which was just around the corner.
Snape nodded, once, again at a loss for words. Hesitating, he said, “You, mentioned breakfast in the Headmaster’s office. Am I to assume that you are hungry then?”
Benjamin nodded. “I haven’t eaten for a couple days.”
Snape raised a brow as he motioned down the corridor and waited for Benjamin to come even with him before he moved off toward the Great Hall.
“Your mother did not send you with food or money?”
Benjamin didn’t answer him at first, ashamed that he had lost it. “Ginger gave me money but somebody stole it on the first train.” He remembered the pickpocket bumping into him on his way onto the train, and then searching his pockets frantically right before he got off of it at the stop in London.
“Hm.” Well, at least it said something about the boy that he had still managed to get to the castle with no money.
In the Great Hall, they took seats opposite each other at one of the four long tables, and again Benjamin was reminded of house elves when plates of food appeared in front of them on the table.
Uncertain about whether or not it would be ok to ask what a house elf was, he spooned some scrambled eggs onto his empty plate and took a couple of pieces of bacon. His father eating nothing, and instead watching him, Benjamin finally asked, “Um… what’s a house elf?”
His father smirked and Benjamin looked down immediately. Snape had not meant to get that reaction from the boy. In as patient a tone as he could muster, he explained, “They are magical creatures in bondage to wizards,” he paused, “did you not wonder who cleaned your clothes or how the food magically appears?”
Benjamin shrugged. “Those are usually things mom does…” he trailed away.
As the boy took another bite of scrambled egg Severus imagined Kaden fixing Benjamin’s food and doing his laundry for him. With these visions also came those of her tucking him into bed at night, something that he had not done the night before, and her playing games with him on the living room floor of the house he had never seen.
When he had finished eating, the plates and food again vanished, and Benjamin looked skyward toward the now blue ceiling. Several enormous fluffy white clouds floated across the blue sky, and Benjamin wished that this had been the weather he had been forced to travel in.
For several moments, Severus watched Benjamin with as much wonder and amazement as the boy was giving the enchanted ceiling. He had a son. He had a son and he was sitting in front of him. Severus had to keep telling himself this over and over. He had known he had a son… he had never thought that he would get to meet him though. He had imagined it quite a few times… imagined what his son must look like, what his personality was like… who he was growing to be… but he never thought he would get to find out first hand.
Again he noticed how much the boy looked like Kaden, and it filled Severus with a kind of heartache that he had never felt before. This time he longed for his love, and knew that there was absolutely no chance of having her. Death was the one barrier that their love could transcend, but the mind and body could not.
Finally Benjamin looked down from the ceiling, and was startled to find his father staring at him. Severus quickly averted his gaze to somewhere else, but in the moment before he had done this, Benjamin got the feeling that the man sitting across from him had the power to look right through him. It was a feeling that only his mother had given him before. He wasn’t sure if he liked that or not.
Severus cleared his throat after a moment and looked back at Benjamin, suddenly feeling the need to assert his authority, although he was unsure why. “You may go wherever you like inside the castle, but do not leave it without my permission.”
With this he rose and moved off for the door to the Entrance hall. Benjamin swallowed, knowing that he would get lost instantly if he went exploring, even though he longed to do so.
“But…” he started. Snape stopped but didn’t turn around. “What if I get lost?”
His father was silent for a moment, and then, “Ask a picture.” And then he was gone, out into the rest of the castle.
Benjamin was confused and hurt. He shouldn’t have come here. His father didn’t want him.
For several minutes he sat there, not looking at the enchanted ceiling, not wondering why his father didn’t want anything to do with him… just sitting there. What was he going to do now? He could leave, and surely his father would not pursue him… but he could stay too, and go to his mother’s school, and be fed and clothed, and perhaps his father would just ignore him, and Benjamin could pretend his father wasn’t there at all.
Options swirling in his mind, Benjamin finally stood and set off for he didn’t know where within the castle. Thinking of the stone gargoyle in front of the Headmaster’s office he tried to retrace his earlier steps, but only found himself in a corridor he had not yet seen in a different part of the castle. To make matters worse, he had taken a staircase a floor down that had moved once he had stepped off of it, to another part of the floor. He knew now that he would need to find another way back to his room in the dungeons by nightfall, or else he would be sleeping on a stone floor. Would his father come looking for him if he didn’t return?
Every now and then Benjamin passed a stained glass window that depicted a scene from something that seemed like a fairy tale: A knight in shining armor battling a dragon, a princess at the top of a tall tower, a man with a long staff kneeling and talking with what looked like a snake, and a woman riding a horse towards a grand lake that stretched on for what seemed like miles. The last stained glass window he encountered in that corridor before the hall turned into three, was one depicting all four people, the two men and women, laying brick and stone for what seemed like a foundation of what would be a grand building. Even the man with the long staff, who had a mean looking face, was smiling with the rest of them.
Choosing the hall that lead to the right, Benjamin continued on into a hall full of doors spread throughout it.
There were no interesting looking windows in this corridor, but halfway down it a door opened up on the right, and a tall woman in dark green robes stepped out. Benjamin stood there a little ways down the hall unnoticed by her for a moment, but then she closed the door and turned towards him. She seemed startled to find someone other than herself there in the hall.
“Oh, hello,” she said, not unkindly.
“Hello,” Benjamin replied.
She raised a brow. “And who might you be?” She took a few steps toward him.
“Benjamin,” he said quietly, wondering if she would turn out to be like the caretaker, although he had a feeling that she wouldn’t. “Benjamin Clover.”
The woman thought on that for a moment. “Are your parent’s here with you Benjamin?”
He shrugged. “Just my father.”
She nodded, “You’ll be attending here this coming year then?”
Benjamin shrugged. He didn’t know. Still unsure whether or not he was in trouble, he said, “I didn’t mean to bother you… my father said I could look around.”
She waved him off, “Don’t be silly. You’re not bothering me. I was just stepping out to get some air.” She held out her hand, “I am professor McGonagall, the Transfiguration professor here at Hogwarts.”
“Oh,” Benjamin nodded, unsure of what transfiguration was.
She smiled kindly down at him for a moment, and then said, “You look familiar… we had a Clover here about 13 years ago.”
“My mum,” Benjamin said quickly, his spirits lifted just thinking about her. “Her name was Kaden.”
Professor McGonagall nodded. “Yes, I remember. She was a beautiful young child. She always did well in my class…” she paused for a moment, and then continued, “except the day she turned a table leg into a rabbit on accident of course.”
Benjamin’s eyes grew wide. “Can you teach me to do that?”
“Do what? Turn a table leg into a rabbit?” Benjamin nodded eagerly.
She chuckled quietly. “That’s not something we encourage during class of course, but… alright then, come inside, quickly now.” She opened the door that she had come from again and ushered him inside. Inside appeared to be a classroom with many tables in two rows and a desk and a blackboard up at the front.
“Have a seat,” she said, her voice suddenly becoming that of a teacher.
Benjamin sat at one of the many tables and watched eagerly as the professor pulled out what he new was a wand, because he had seen his mother use hers many times. The Professor then aimed her wand at a nearby desk, and said, “Lepus verto.” As she did this she moved the wand in a complicated sort of pattern, and the desk began to shrink rapidly. Suddenly before them was a small white rabbit hopping about where the desk had been.
“Wow,” Benjamin said under his breath. “You teach kids to do that?”
She nodded. “That is a complicated transfiguration, one that most seventh years can’t do, but students start off learning small things and work their way up.” She scooped up the rabbit and set it on Benjamin’s desk. He reached out tentatively and stroked it’s back once.
“You could have anything you wanted that way… whatever kind of food or money you needed…”
The Professor held up a hand and he was silent and ready to listen. “There are some things that cannot be transformed into other things, and some things that can not be transformed at all. Food is one of those things. As for money: when you transform many things, it is not a permanent transformation. This is the main reason it would not be a good idea to try to transfigure food… for instance, if you turned a table into a sandwich, and ate it, and then later on the transformation was undone, you would suddenly be in a world of hurt because you would have a splintered table inside you.”
“Oh,” Benjamin nodded his understanding. “How long will this stay a rabbit then?”
“Many times it depends on the power the spellcaster pours into the transformation, other times it depends on what was transformed, and into what it was turned into. This rabbit however,” here she picked up the rabbit and set it back where the desk had originally been, and waved her wand at it. It grew in size and changed in shape and color until it was again a desk, “this rabbit is short-lived I’m afraid, because I have lessons to plan young man. Lessons that you will be learning in September.”
“Oh,” Benjamin nodded again. He stood up and said, “Thanks for showing me that Professor.”
She smiled and nodded. “Anytime. It was a pleasure to meet you Mr. Clover.”
“You too,” Benjamin gave her a small wave and left the room, pulling the door closed gently behind him.
Again alone in the corridor, he was sorry that she did not have time to show him more magic and transfigurations.
Benjamin continued on through the castle in this manner, stopping whenever he found something of interest to look at. On the floor above Professor McGonagall’s classroom he found a double door that stood open and revealed a grand library with more books than he had ever seen. Inside was a mean looking woman sorting through stacks and stacks of books, so he decided not to go in, and instead continued on in his exploration of the castle.
Twice wandering through the corridors Benjamin thought he heard a cackling coming from around the corner, but each time he got to where he thought the cackler should have been, there was no one, and once when he was sure he was up on the sixth or seventh floor of the castle, he thought he caught a glimpse of his father disappearing down a side passage, but found he was mistaken when he again found no one.
Benjamin’s stomach gave a loud rumble after he heard the cackling for a third time, and he looked down at the watch his mother had given him on his last birthday. It read one, and he wondered if food would magically appear if he found his way back to the Great Hall. His father’s words about what to do if he got lost came back to him, and he only felt frustrated and puzzled. Ask a picture… what had he meant by that? Was the picture going to speak to him? Feeling stupid for doing so, he looked around the hall for any kind of picture he could find. There were none in this hall. He had seen several in other corridors and near the staircases, but he hadn’t been paying them any attention.
Finally he rounded a corner and found a picture frame, but it was empty. There was only short grass and blue sky. There wasn’t even a hill in the background. Maybe there was some trick to it… a password, like the one that made the gargoyle move in front of the moving staircase that lead to the Headmaster’s office. He cleared his throat once, wondering what word to try. “Liccorice wand?” he asked uncertainly. Nothing happened. “Um… house elf?” Again nothing happened. He didn’t know very much about the magical world. He knew it was a futile attempt to even try. Angry he said to himself, “It might as well be a picture of a ghost.”
Suddenly there was a cry from far off and he thought he heard horse hooves from the distance as well, but growing louder. And then something Benjamin definitely did not expect happened. A stout little man in a grass stained suit of armor on a fat little pony galloped into the picture of grass and blue sky, and then out the other side again. It happened so fast that at first he was sure he imagined it. He moved closer to the picture, but the pony and little man did not reappear. There was neighing, and again the sound of hooves and clanking armor. Benjamin frowned and said, “Ghost,” again, wondering if this was the word that had done the trick.
Sure enough the knight and pony galloped back into view, this time sliding to a halt before they left the picture frame again. The little man flew over the head of his pony as the horse stopped suddenly, and hit the ground with a great clanking of his armor and a soft “Oompf!”
“Stand ye rapscallion and fight! Wherefore art the ghosts that ye speak of!” The little knight clambered to his feat and drew his sword, looking right at Benjamin.
“Sorry?” he asked.
The night waved his sword at him and the pony took a few steps back, knowing that his master was dangerous. “Ghosts! Ye said there were ghosts in my picture! I see none!”
Benjamin was amazed not only that the picture was moving, but also that he was having a conversation with it.
“I… I thought maybe there was a certain password to make you appear…”
“Password!?” the knight cut him off. “No password can make Sir Cadagon the Great appear! Now stand and fight ye lying knave!”
Unsure of how he was supposed to fight, seeing that the little man was in a picture and he was not, he shrugged his shoulders and showed the man his empty hands. “I don’t have a sword to fight you with.”
“No sword!?” Sir Cadagon was perplexed.
Benjamin nodded and moved closer still. “I’m only trying to find my way back to the Entrance hall,” he told him.
The knight lifted his head and seemed to perk up. “A quest then! To find the Entrance hall! Come then! I and my royal pony shall lead thee onward and shall stay with thee until we have found our destination!”
Benjamin watched as the knight tried several times to mount his pony before he finally managed it, and then took off out of the left side of the picture frame, shouting behind him, “From portrait to portrait I shall lead you young master! Onward!”
Benjamin ran after him, watching for the next portrait all the while. At the end of the hall he still found no portrait, but a small set of stairs which he ran down. Beyond the stairs he found a portrait of two women in pink dresses just sitting to have tea on their lawn. Sir Cadagon was sitting on his horse beside their little white table and telling them a fantastic story of how he slew the world’s biggest dragon.
“The great beast was ruby red, and had but five rows of enormous teeth within its jaw!”
The two ladies giggled and then looked over to Benjamin, who had now appeared. Sir Cadagon looked too.
“But alas my fair maidens! I must resume my quest!”
“More dragons to slay?” the prettier of the two women asked.
The knight looked over to Benjamin and said, “Come sir! We have little time to waste on this journey of great danger!” and the pony sprinted off out of the left side of the frame.
“Is he really on his way to slay a dragon?” one of the ladies asked Benjamin, taking a sip of her tea.
Benjamin laughed, “Maybe,” and he ran off after the knight.
Benjamin followed the knight picture by picture, and before he knew it they were at the top of the stairs to the Entrance Hall.
“And here I leave you my young sir,” Sir Cadagon said, “our quest is now complete.”
Benjamin looked at him. “Thank you Sir Cadagon…” he paused, thinking that the little man wanted to hear something more, and then added, “It was a noble quest and you acted admirably.”
The knight beamed. “If ever there be a quest again, I shall be happy to be your guide!”
Benjamin nodded, and the knight and pony were gone, off into another moving picture, this time one of what must been a battle, because suddenly there were distant sounds of metal on metal and Benjamin heard Sir Cadagon yell, “To battle!”
As he descended the great marble staircase into the Entrance hall, his stomach again gave a loud grumble, announcing that it needed food. When he neared the door to the Great Hall, he heard voices inside, and hurried in hopes that one of the voices belonged to his father.
Inside however were only Professor McGonagall, and another woman sitting at one of the four long tables.
Benjamin’s entrance did not go unnoticed by the two women. Professor McGonagall motioned for him to come to them, and he did so.
“And who is this?” the second woman asked.
Professor McGonagall answered for him. “This is Kaden Clover’s son, Benjamin Clover.”
“Oh!” the other woman seemed pleasantly surprised! “Well hello Benjamin! I’m Pomona Sprout, Herbology Professor and head of Hufflepuff house!”
She held out her hand and he shook it. “Pleased to meet you,” he said quietly.
“And where would your mother be now? Surely you’re not here alone? Your mother was a fine student in Herbology! She loved being outside!”
Benjamin looked at the ground for a moment. “She died.”
An uncomfortable silence descended upon them for a few moments, and then Professor McGonagall said quietly, “He’s here with his father Pomona.”
McGonagall patted the bench beside her and said, “Have a seat Benjamin. Are you hungry?”
Benjamin took the seat next to her and opposite Professor Sprout, and said, “Yes maam.”
Before him a tray of sandwiches suddenly appeared as they had done in his room the night before. Suddenly he wondered if that food had disappeared, or if it was still there in his room and starting to smell bad.
“Thank you,” he told the Professor, for causing the food to appear.
Benjamin took half a chicken and turkey sandwich and took a bite before Professor Sprout told him kindly, “I’m sorry for your loss Benjamin. When did it happen?”
Benjamin took another bite and chewed and swallowed it before he looked up and answered her. “Two weeks ago.”
“Oh my…” she looked at the table. “She was a wonderful young girl, your mother,” she told him quietly. Benjamin nodded. “Your father must be devastated.” Benjamin shrugged, he didn’t know if he was or not. He took another bite and the sandwich was gone. He immediately picked up another half, this one pastrami, and started in on it.
“Who’s the head of Ravenclaw house?” he asked suddenly, still unsure of what “houses” were, but knowing that Ravenclaw was his mother’s.
“That would be Filius Flitwick,” answered Professor McGonagall. “He is the Charms Professor.”
“And Severus Snape is the head of Slytherin house,” Sprout said.
Benjamin looked up at her again. His father was more than a Professor here? “He is?”
She nodded. “Oh yes… students in his house love him, but students from our houses always complain that he isn’t fair to them with house points.”
Benjamin frowned. “Hm…”
Just then the doors to the Great Hall opened again, and there stood his father. His eyes scanned the hall, quickly finding his charge, sitting with the two women.
Without taking a step into the hall, he said, “Benjamin, come.”
Benjamin stuffed the rest of his half sandwich into his mouth and picked up another half as he rose from the bench.
“It was nice talking to you,” he said to the two Professors, and then he walked over to his father.
Snape eyed the two women, and then shut the door again as he and Benjamin exited.
Still at the table, Professor McGonagall frowned, and Professor Sprout said, “Well that’s odd… I wonder what Severus wanted with him.”
Still eyeing the door through which they had just exited, McGonagall said, “Pomona, you don’t suppose… no,” she discarded the notion immediately. Severus, with a son?
“Suppose what dear?” she asked.
McGonagall shook her head and chuckled. “Nothing, for a moment I was about to suggest that Severus was the boy’s father.” Sprout began to chuckle now too.
“What a thing to think Minerva!”
But then they quieted, and McGonagall said, “It’s an odd thing that he keeps his mother’s name… perhaps his parent’s weren’t married?”
Sprout nodded, and McGonagall continued, “Did you notice how black the boy’s eyes were?”
The two Professors looked at each other, and they silently agreed that Benjamin was Severus’ son.
“An odd thing to think about,” Sprout finally said after a long silence. “That someone could love Severus enough to conceive a child with him…” she trailed away.
McGonagall didn’t say anything. She only wondered how he would treat Benjamin now that he was here with no place else to go. “Such a sweet boy,” she said quietly, and Sprout nodded.
A/N: Hey, sorry for the wait. This chapter was a bit longer than the last three and I was stuck for a bit on some plot details. I'll try to have the next chapter up in a wee. Please review! I don't know what to do better if you guys don't tell me. Also, if you have questions, feel free to ask them! Your questions help me figure out what to add in and sometimes give me ideas about what to write later on! Thanks!