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Chapter 16 : An Honest Deciever
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Now that the holiday was officially over Valora felt the pressure to tell Harry coming at her from all sides. There was a fairly large group of them walking through King's Cross, Valora at the back with a large, shaggy black dog trotting by her side. Sirius growled at her roughly and trotted forward towards Harry. The dog barked at Harry, before looking back at Valora, then proceeding to trot off towards an empty room. Valora rolled her eyes and followed Sirius and Harry in.
"Subtle, Padfoot." She said dryly. Sirius changed back into his human self and gave Harry another hug. Harry returned the gesture but was clearly confused.
"What's going on?" He asked nervously. Sirius looks to Valora before sitting down and getting comfortable.
"I don't think there's enough time right now." Valora said hotly. Sirius glared at her.
"You promised me, Valora." his eyes becoming big melting pools of cocoa.
"FINE! Merlin, I don't need the guilt trip, so stop with those eyes." Valora said, taking a seat across from Harry and Sirius. Sirius merely smirked innocently as Valora took a deep breath.
"Harry," she began "I'm sure you realize by now that I was closer with the marauders than I originally led you to believe. Hell, I've known Sirius since I was practically born, and Remus, James, and Peter became fast friends as soon as I made it to school. The marauders were the best friends you could ever have."
"Thanks, darling." Sirius said smugly which earned him an annoyed look from Valora.
"You made me do this and now you're interrupting?" She questioned with raised brows.
"Sorry, continue." Sirius said reverently, waving his hand for her to keep going.
"Thank you. Anyway, I grew up with your parents, Harry. As soon as we all finished school the marauders, your mum and I immediatley joined to Order. I was at their wedding, I was one of the first people to know your mum was pregnant. They were my family - you were my family too. When you were born and Sirius was named your godfather your parents had a severe lapse of judgement and decided to name me your godmother." Valora finished quietly.
Everyone was silent for a long moment before Sirius spoke.
"I pictured you saying that a little more eloquently, Pardus." Sirius said with a tiny smile.
"Sod off, Padfoot." Valora said caustically. It was bad enough Harry just sat there glaring at her, now that the truth was out. It was all very anti-climatic, really. All the secrecy and he got, 'oh by the way, I'm your legal gaurdian and I've been faking my death since before you were potty-trained'.
"Why are you telling me now?" Harry asked quietly. Valora took a deep breath.
"Because I promised everyone that I'd tell you before we got on the train which leaves in about twenty minutes." she said honestly. Harry rolled his eyes, quickly losing what little patience he had.
"No, I mean why did you wait sixteen years to tell me anything. Sirius broke out of prison and came and found me, and you did what? Nothing?" he asked angrily. Valora knew this was going to happen. She steeled herself against his comments and looked him squarely in the eye.
"There were complicated things going on back then, Harry. Things I don't think you'd understand just yet." she said, trying to placate him a bit.
"You think I don't understand complicated? I eat, sleep and breathe complicated!" He yelled angrily. Valora stood up defensively and glared down at him. He was just a sixteen year old boy and she was his professor. She didn't take shit from anybody, not even her godson.
"Yes, Harry, you may understand complicated lives but you wouldn't understand mine, YET." She told him. Harry just rolled his eyes.
"More secrets. Why doesn't that surprise me? You think you must be really smart with all these cryptic things you keep saying like 'my past is complicated' and 'you wouldn't understand'-"
"-you WOULDN'T understand!"
"Help me understand then!" Harry said, standing up as well. He was as tall as Valora. Seeing the threat of a possible physical fight between them Sirius lept up and pushed them back a safe distance from eachother.
"That's enough out of both of you." Sirius said, sitting Valora back down. She looked up at him with angry tears in her eyes which she quickly blinked away, not wanting Harry to see them. Harry, however, was not done ranting it seemed.
"This is ridiculous. I can't believe you choose NOW to have a family reunion. You've just been lying to me over and over again? Do you even care that I'm your godson or did the Order just guilt you into telling me because it's the right thing to -"
"-HARRY!" Sirius snapped "I don't want to hear you speaking like that to her. She's never intentionally hurt you and it may have taken her a while but she's telling you the truth now and she doesn't need you screaming at her for it." he said seriously. Both Harry and Valora just stared at him, not moving or speaking until Harry grabbed his trolley and promptly, if not furiously, left the room.
Sirius let out a deep sigh and Valora groaned into her hands, before looking sadly up at her friend.
"Somehow, that just didn't seem worth it." She said quietly. Sirius sank into the seat beside her and rubbed her back in gentle circles.
"It was worth it. You'll see soon enough. Harry has a lot of anger in him, and sometimes it gets...directed at the wrong people." Sirius reassured her, but Valora just shook her head.
"What if it's directed at the right person this time?" She asked numbly, feeling utterly defeated. Valora glanced up at the clock in the corner of the room and stood up, brushing non-existent wrinkles from her black sweater.
"Write soon?" she asked with a small smile. Sirius smirked back up at her.
"Of course." He whispered as he locked her into a tight hug. Valora kissed his stubbly cheek before she walked out and down towards Platform 9 and 3/4.
The entire train ride had been torturous. Valora rode in a compartment with three twittering Hufflepuff second years. She had no idea that Harry had been just down the hall, relaying the recent discovery to Ron and Hermione who were equally shocked.
Sufficient to say, Valora was not in the most pleasant of moods when she stepped off the Hogwarts Express. Stomping angrily up the snowy hill she found the first carriage and climbed inside and lietrally growled at a few thrid years who attempted to join her. She fumed the entire way up to the castle. Angry at nearly everything she saw or heard, but mostly with herself. Inside she was raging over this.
Maybe she should have waited longer? Maybe she waited too long for him to ever forgive her? Maybe she shouldn't have told him at all, because it's not like it really made a difference. Ugh!
These thoughts played on a loop inside her mind as she carried her bag up to her rooms. Once inside she proceeded to throw the tantrum she had been waiting to have since she was on the train. She threw her bag down on the bed and angrily punched her pillows, throwing them viciously around the room. Valora even kicked the edge of her bed in sudden anger but the pain immediatley reminded her of exactly what she was doing. She wasn't a teenage twit anymore and there were probably better ways of expressing her anger then ruining her room. She plopped unceremoniously onto her bed and said a quick spell to stop the throbbing she felt in her big toe.
Valora laid down and tried to close her eyes. All she really needed was to rest and relax a little. Then she'd be fine. Apparently, Jasper had different plans because moments later he was tapping his beak incessently on her window in an attempt to be let in. Valora ambled up off the bed to unlatch her window. The brown owl swooped in and landed on the bed, sticking his foot out so she could take the note attached to it.
Come to my rooms tonight. -Severus
Valora smiled in spite of herself and conjured up a small bowl of water for Jasper who hooted in approval. She still had to sit through dinner, with Harry and his friends not doubt casting furtive glances her way the entire time. Still, she was comforted that Severus would be right beside her. Valora opened the window and Jasper hooted softly before flying out, headed towards the Owlery. She leaned her head out the window; the bracing wind blowing around the day old snow. She took deep, sharp breaths in and exhaled a plume of fog. When she finally closed the window she was shivering and there were bits of snow in her hair. Valora glanced at the clock in the corner of her room and saw that she only had a few minutes until dinner. Quickly she brushed out her hair, drying the bits that had been dampened by snow, and threw her teaching robes on over her clothes.
Walking down to the great hall Valora stopped to adjust her boots which seemed to have a stone in them. As she leaned against a wall and took her shoe off in an attempt to shake the annoyance out, she saw Snape pass her. She didn't want to stare after him, in case someone else saw her but she couldn't help it. He walked with an almost, she hated to say it, regal air. His stormy grey eyes looked straight ahead and his footsteps fell surely and confidently across the marble floors. He radiated this quiet intensity that attracted her like a moth to the flame. Valora closed her eyes for a moment and sighed softly, reminding herself that he belonged to her, that she had him again and that she would be in his arms in a few hours. When she opened her eyes the hall was empty. She put her boot back on, this time without the stone, and walked to dinner.
Severus didn't look up as Valora took the open seat beside him. She was chewing her cheek furiously which meant she was upset and thinking hard about something. Carefully he glanced at the Gryffindor table where Potter's little friends were glancing up at Valora with renewed interest.
"When did you tell him?" Severus asked quietly before taking a sip from the goblet in front of him. Valora pushed her food around her plate a bit before responding.
"Before we got on the train this afternoon." She whispered before taking a sip of her own cider, wishing it was stronger. She wasn't sure if Severus had used leglimency on her or whether her wish was just blatanly obvious because he growled softly, almost as though he were clearing his throat but Valora knew he was protesting the idea of her and alcohol.
"Calm down." She whispered, taking a bite of her food without really tasting it. Severus just sent her a glare that said 'We'll talk about this later' and she rolled her eyes.
It was dark and Valora stood at the top of her stairs listening as her father threw things around the living room angrily. She was fifteen and trembling despite the warm weather. Fear prickled up and down her spine when she heard him call her name.
"Valora? Valora what are you doing?" he rumbled dangerously. Valora's eyes widened and she ran on fast, silent feet to her room and hurried to close and lock the door with magic. She would have to thank Lily for all those extra locking and sticking charms she had taught her, but even when he was a raging drunk, Cassius Nox was a far stronger wizard than his young daughter. Valora chewed the inside of her cheek until she could taste blood, shaking terribly as her father fired spell after spell at her door. It was only a matter of time before he broke it down, she could only hope that he would pass out before he managed to get it down.
"Open the door, Valora." Cassius slurred lowly. Valora sat on her bed and made no move towards the door. She jumped a bit as Cassius threw himself against it, creating a loud bang that sounded like the whole house was going to be brought down. It continued like that for a long while. Valora tried to distract herself by counting the days until she got back to school. There was only three more weeks of this torture and maybe Sirius would let her stay with him. His hell-hole of a home was like a palace compared to her own. In a sudden desperate attempt Valora grabbed her quill and the first piece of parchment her hand fell on and hastily wrote to her best friend.
My father's lost it again. He was fine for the first few weeks but now he's back to how he was at christmas. I need you to send me an invitation to your house for the rest of the summer. I know your parents hate me but please try. I can't stay here. Please send an owl back with your reply as soon as you can.
Lots of love,
Valora sealed the letter before tying it to the tiny young owl she had gotten just a few weeks ago when she'd come home. He was brown with a smattering of white feather across his chest and between his eyes. She'd named him Jasper. She kissed the bird's head lovingly before giving him the address and letting him fly out the window. For a brief moment, Valora felt fine until she realized her father hadn't banged against the door for a while. She turned slowly, already knowing what to expect. Cassius was leaning in her doorway, his eyes unfocused and a grim smile upon his lips. She didn't even have time to scream.
Valora sat upright with a start. Her heart was hammering and her breathing labored. It took several moments of frantically looking around before she had mentally assured herself that her father wasn't here. He was dead and had been dead for a long time. Severus poked his head into the bedroom, wearing only his uniform black pants.
"What happened?" He asked, walking over and wrapping one arm around her, using the other to brush the hair away that was slightly matted to her forehead. Valora buried her face into his cool shoulder and took deep, steadying breaths, letting the smell of him act as a sedative. He always had this almost medicinal, herbal smell to him, from constantly brewing and bottling his potions.
"Just a nightmare." She said quietly, leaning off of him and reaching onto the floor where her shirt lay in a rumpled mess beside the various other clothes that had been torn off when she gotten to his rooms. Severus raised an eyebrow.
"This doesn't have anything to do with Potter does it?" He asked. Valora groaned.
"No, but thanks for reminding me of that." She said sarcastically, pulling her shirt on over her head before reaching for her knickers.
"Worse than you expected?" Severus asked as she snatched her black pencil skirt from the stone floor and pulled it on over her slim, pale thighs.
"No, just as bad as I knew it would be. He hasn't even spoken to me yet and I think it will be a while before he does." She said sitting back down on the bed. Severus waved a glass of water to her and she accepted it with a small smile.
"What did you say?" he asked.
"I told him that I was friends with his parents and that they named me his Godmother." She said, taking a sip from the glass. Severus raised an eyebrow at her.
"That's all?" he asked, sounding surprised and annoyed.
"Yes, that was all." she said simply, finishing the glass of water before handing it back to him. Severus groaned and walked into his sitting room, and an annoyed Valora followed him.
"What? Was I supposed to tell him everything? With Sirius right there? I don't think so." She said, angrily sitting down on the leather sofa. Severus stood beside a heavy looking, wooden cabinet.
"We need to decide how you are going to explain your past." He said simply. Valora raised an eyebrow.
"We?" she asked as he began to rummage through the cabinet.
"Yes, love, we." Severus said, pulling out a large stone basin. Valora frowned at it.
"What the hell is that?" She asked quietly.
"You know exactly what this is, Valora." Severus said sternly, as though she was his student. He placed it on his desk and then looked expectantly at her.
"I'm not using it." She said, crossing her arms across her chest in an outward display of defiance.
"We are going to use this to review what you've done for the past thirteen years when I wasn't there. We'll see how much we can tell Harry, and what we'll have to hide. You're not in this alone anymore and I don't want you losing him just because you wanted to be stubborn. So uncross your arms and get over here." He told her flatly as he set the pensieve on the desk. Valora smiled and walked over, kissing his cheek. She couldn't help but think he looked adorable when he was bossing her around, like he had any authority over her. Best to let him live in a fantasy.
"You mean fourteen years, dear." She reminded him, pulling out her wand.
"What?" Severus asked, stirring the silvery contents.
"I was without you for fourteen years. We saw each other again at start of term." Valora said, surprised at his miscalculation. Severus looked sheepish for a moment and Valora's intuition flashed, as did her eyes.
"What did you do?" she asked, her hands flying to her hips.
"Why must you always assume the worst?" He asked her, turning to glare down at her just as she glared up at him.
"What do you know about Italy, Sev." she asked angrily. Severus raised an eyebrow at her before taking a breath.
"After the Triwizard tournament, when the Dark Lord returned, I realized that if you had survived for thirteen years and were still alive you were in danger. Besides that if you were still the drunk that you had been when I last saw you, you were putting the entire Order in danger, including Harry. So that summer I traveled the same routes you had taken. It's pretty hard to track down a dead woman you know. When I found you in that flat, I was ready to kill. Honestly Valora, I couldn't understand how you let yourself get so bad. You were near death. I took you to the nearest hospital and owled Dumbledore. I stayed with you the first few nights while you were under anesthesia, until Dumbledore came. I made sure you didn't know I was there. I let the Headmaster take over from there. You spent the next year in Italy, getting better, and I was sent steady updates of your progress." Severus admitted carefully. Valora's eyes widened in embarassment and awe.
"I thought they sent those updates to Dumbledore. After all he paid-" she paused and assessed the guilty look in Severus's eyes and she shoved him.
"You paid for everything?! Sev! I'll pay you back, I swear. I can't believe you did all of that just so I wouldn't give anything away. You know I would have let them kill me before I told them anything."
"Darling, you wouldn't have to tell them anything. They would have invaded your mind and I wasn't going to let them hurt you." He said, brushing her hair off of her shoulder. Valora stared at the floor for a few moments, regaining her composure, reminding herself that was in the past and he didn't still think that, he couldn't still think that. It was better to focus on the task at hand. She put her wand to her temple and concentrated before pulling out a long silvery strand, followed by another, then another. Soon the basin was full and she looked at Severus who took her hand.
"You know you're not going to be happy with what you see." She warned. Severus kissed her deeply.
"I'm never happy with what you do, but I love you, so it doesn't matter." He tried joking but Valora didn't even smirk.
"I'm serious. I don't even remember most of it, but what I do remember-"
"I don't expect to enjoy doing this, trust me if I thought there was a better way to do this we'd be doing it, but I need to know what we're dealing with." He said. It almost sounded believable.
"So you're not just doing this satisfy your curiosity?" Valora said, sounding skeptical. Severus frowned at her and she rolled her eyes, knowing that she was right but he wouldn't admit it.
"Fine, let's just do this then." She said with a shrug. He pecked her forehead and gripped her hand tighter and together they leaned over the pensieve.
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