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Return to Prince Manor by Snapegirl
Chapter 12 : Cup of Wonders
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 20


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Harry craned his neck to see past Cormac McLaggen’s head as the students from Durmstrang entered the hall behind their teacher.  Most were muffled in heavy sealskin or mink robes that came down to their feet, making Harry think they must come from the Far North where it snowed year round.  He wondered if being in a warm climate would be a shock to them.  A tall boy with a shock of dark hair and a serious face who walked directly to the left of Karkaroff looked oddly familiar to Harry.

Suddenly, Ron elbowed him in the ribs. “Harry! Bloody hell, look—it’s Krum!” He pointed to the boy marching right behind Karkaroff.

Now Harry took another look and this time he recognized the professional Seeker who played internationally on Bulgaria’s Quidditch team.  He had not known that Krum attended Durmstrang. 

Next to him, Ron was practically asphyxiating with excitement.  “Can you believe—it’s like the most wicked thing ever—Krum here at Hogwarts! He’s like the best Seeker ever, they say he makes loads of money on and off the pitch and now he’s going to compete in the tournament.  D’you think he’ll give me his autograph, Harry? Do you?”

“I suppose.” Harry said offhandedly, his attention was suddenly drawn to the Slytherin table, where Draco was glaring daggers at Krum.  Huh? What’s up with that? I would have thought Draco would be over the moon like Ron to see a famous Quidditch player here. But then he tracked where Krum was smiling and waving at and saw to his astonishment that the older boy was looking right at Hermione.  Hermione, who knew nothing about Quidditch and had never cared to, gave him a friendly smile back, then turned to ask Lavender a question.  Uh oh.  Krum better watch it, because Draco won’t tolerate a rival for Hermione’s affections.

Karkaroff marched right up to the staff table and then turned and arrayed his students, there were twelve of them, on the lefthand side.  He gave a cordial nod to Dumbledore and gave an unfriendly leer to Snape, who returned the favor in spades. 

Harry’s next glance took in Smidgen hovering up near the ceiling and Phil leaning against a window in the corner, looking impossibly relaxed, his arms crossed and one long booted leg crossed at the ankle.  He winked at Harry before summoning his veils to cover him once more.  Harry winked back and felt immediately more at ease knowing that all three of his guardians were in the hall.

Whispered exclamations flew about the room as more people noticed that Krum was standing there, but then Dumbledore cleared his throat and said, “Welcome, Headmaster Karkaroff and students of Durmstrang to Hogwarts!”

A round of applause followed and several die hard Quidditch fanatics began to pump their arms up and down and chant,”KRUM! KRUM!” until their prefects hushed them.

Then the doors opened once more to admit Madame Maxine and her girls from Beauxbatons.  Whistles of appreciation from several boys and gasps followed their entrance.  Everyone’s eyes were glued to Madam Maxine, who towered over everyone in the hall save for Hagrid.  She was regal and imposing, however, though Draco did hear one rude firstie remark, “Blimey, she’s as big as Hagrid! Wonder if she’s his sister or something?”

“Quiet, Simmons!” Draco hissed, glaring at the smaller boy, who gulped and hushed.

The girls from Baeuxbatons, especially one tall willowy specimen with long blond hair, were quite pretty, Draco thought.  But still, none of them could hold a candle to his Hermione, who while she might not be Witch-O-Rama material, still made his blood sing.  She had both brains and a refreshingly natural beauty that Draco appreciated immensely.  And she was unfailingly kind and honest as well, qualities which he also liked. She’ll defend me to the death and still be able to tell me when I’m being an insufferable ass.  I need that in a girl. He glanced over at the Gryffindor Table and caught her eye and smiled.  To his delight, she gave him a huge smile right back. He had gotten worried and jealous when Krum had started eyeing her, but apparently Hermione still preferred him, even if he wasn’t some hotshot international Seeker.

When the ladies from Beauxbatons had arranged themselves upon the right hand side of Dumbledore’s podium, Dumbledore welcomed them as well and then announced cheerily, “As you all know, Hogwarts is proud to host the Triwizard Tournament for the first time in a century.  Would you all please welcome the judges and officials of this tournament, Mr. Ludo Bagman, Director of Magical Games and Sports,” Here a large man stood up and everyone applauded politely, he was dressed in maroon and gold robes.  “And Mr. Bartemius Crouch, Senior, Director of International Cooperation of Magical Affairs.” Here a thin man with a severe looking face sporting a thin mustache stood up, he was wearing deep blue robes and a pinstriped suit stood up.  The applause was more restrained this time, Snape eyed Crouch and smiled thinly, he was another old acquaintance. 

Phil, observing everything unseen, kept an eye upon the staff table, he still had his suspiscions about Moody, and was quick to note that Moody looked at Crouch with an expression of utter hatred upon his face before glancing away.  Odd. What history does an ex-Auror and a Ministry official share that causes such enmity? Phil wondered.  This needed to be looked into.  He would ask Severus what he knew later.

 But his attention quickly snapped back to the center of the room as Dumbledore announced that with the arrival of the participating schools, the tournament would officially begin.  He gestured and the Goblet of Fire suddenly flared up and blue flames slowly danced and revolved about inside it.

“All those who wish to participate in the tournament must be of legal age, seventeen, as of right now, and in good health and of sound mind.  The Triwizard Tournament is not for the faint of heart, as its name suggests, three champions, one from each school will be chosen by the Goblet of Fire, and they shall compete by completing three tasks, each one more difficult than the last.  The champions will be graded by a panel of judges, one of which shall be myself, the others being Mr. Crouch, Mr. Bagman, and Professors McGonagall and Snape. Failure to complete any task in the time named will result in disqualification. The winner of the tournament will be awarded 2000 Galleons and the Triwizard Cup.”

Students began clapping and cheering at that announcement.

Dumbledore stepped down and drew an Age Line about the glittering Goblet.  “Any student who wishes to participate, must simply write down their name and school on a piece of parchment and place it in the Goblet. You have a week to decide and no student not of age will be able to participate in the tournament, hence the Age Line I have drawn. Think carefully, for once you have placed your name in the Goblet, it cannot be withdrawn. Good luck to all of you! May Fortune favor you.” He gestured and a large table popped up and he gestured for the newcomers to be seated at it.  “Please welcome our guests and make their time here a pleasant one. They will be staying until the conclusion of the Tournament.  And now, let us eat!”

At that, a scrumptious array of food appeared upon all the tables and everyone began eating. 

Harry looked around the table and noticed that several seventh-years were debating whether or not to enter the tournament.  He silently wished them luck, glad that he would not be the center of attention for risking his neck for once. He was also surprised that his father was going to be on the panel opf judges, Severus hadn’t mentioned that to him.

Ron nudged him.  “You want to try and meet Krum after dinner, Harry?”

“Sure, Ron. And maybe some of the girls from Beauxbatons too.”

Ron nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, they’ve got some real lookers there. That tall blond and then I saw a really sweet girl with dark hair cut short, she smiled at me when she went past, I think. I wouldn’t mind getting to know her better.” He sighed dreamily. “Too bad Fred and George can’t compete, but they won’t be seventeen till April.  And why didn’t you tell me your dad was judging?”

“Because I had no idea. He never mentioned it to me.  Maybe he forgot, what with all the trouble with Draco and Pansy going on.”

“Could be, but I don’t ever recall Snape—I mean Professor Snape—being absentminded,” Ron said. He looked over at the Gryffindors seated down the table and said loudly, “So, which of you are going to compete?”

“I will!” Alicia Spinnet declared. “I just turned seventeen last week.”

“Me too,” said Nigel Weatherby.

Nearly all of the seventh-years and some sixth-years who had turned seventeen early were going to put their names in. 

While they all discussed previous Triwizard Tournaments and who won them, Harry concentrated on eating, knowing that if Severus weren’t watching him, then Smidgen or Phil was and all of them insisted he eat healthy.

He took some salad and bread and some chicken Francais and a helping of spetzel as well.  Clearly the house elves wanted to introduce some new cuisine today in honor of their international guests.  Across the table, Katie served herself some red cabbage and kielbasa and grinned at him over the bowl of mashed potatoes.

“You have lessons with my father again this afternoon, Katie?” Harry asked, saluting her playfully with his goblet of pumpkin juice.

“Yes.  Why? Do you want to be my assistant again?”

Harry opened his mouth to reply, but Cormac butted in with a laugh and drawled, “I’ll be your assistant, sweet thing. I know some really good potions, better even than Snape there.”

Harry flushed red and understood perfectly Draco’s death glare from moments before.  He tossed the older boy a furious look, but Katie just looked Cormac up and down and said, “Sorry, Cormac, but the professor only lets dedicated students into his advanced tutorials and you only got an A on your OWLS, didn’t you?”

Cormac blushed.  “So what? Nothin’ wrong with that. Bloody damn perfectionist, Snape is! Nobody can meet his standards.”

“I have,” Katie said simply. “And so has Harry.” She turned back to Harry. “Two o’clock, okay?”

“Fine,” Harry agreed and let the pangs of jealousy slip away. Clearly, Katie did not fancy Cormac, a fact for which he was very grateful. He did not think he would have been able to compete with the handsome older boy’s charm and money and dazzling smile.  Then he returned to eating, not wanting his lunch to get cold.

* * * * * *

 

 After class, Harry made his way down to the dungeons, whistling a tune he had heard upon the WWW called “She Borrowed My Broomstick” a whimsical  lighthearted love song that reminded him of Katie and the night they had kissed while flying through the air. A few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs coming out of potions gave him strange looks and some of them muttered that he must be turning into his father’s clone, with the way he spent so many hours here now.

“Snape and Snape Junior,” muttered Ravenclaw Will Merriweather derogatorily. “Might as well take off that Gryffindor patch and just wear black robes and a sneer, like his dear old dad.”

At that, Harry stopped whistling and whirled about to give the other boy a glower.  “What’s that supposed to mean? If I happen to like potions more than I used to, what’s it to you?  And quit talking like that about my father, Merriweather.”

“Or else what? You’ll tell him to give me detention?” laughed the older boy. “Oh, Daddy, Merriweather was being mean to me, you need to give him detention . . .boo hoo!”

“Shut it, Merriweather! You’re pathetic!” snapped Harry, feeling his temper start to simmer.

“Make me, why don’t you—little Snape? Daddy’s pet!”

Before Harry could say anything else, Cedric Diggory stepped between them. “All right, you two, that’s enough.  Everyone calm down.  Merriweather, quit needling Snape.  And Snape, ignore Merriweather, he’s just upset because your dad failed him for today’s lesson ‘cause he was showing off instead of brewing.”

“Mind your own business, Diggory!” snapped the Ravenclaw.

“Keeping the peace is a prefect’s business, Merriweather,” Cedric returned calmly, indicating his badge. “Go on now, Snape.  You know your father hates to be kept waiting.”

Harry continued on his way then, giving Cedric a smile and thanking him. He hadn’t realized that being a professor’s son would make some people jealous of him or prone to take out their anger on him for things his father had said or done to them.

Don’t let idiots like that get to you, Harry.  You’re going to get to brew again with Katie and have a good time, like usual.

Trying to regain his former cheerfulness, he began to whistle again and then he reached the lab and opened it.

Katie was already there, setting up her apparatus.  She had her dark hair pulled up in a neat bun at the back of her head, Harry noted that she usually wore her long hair that way when she was brewing or playing Quidditch.  “Hi, Harry.” She greeted, smiling at him.

Severus swept in from his office, a sheaf of papers in one hand.  “You’re late, Mr. Snape. Start brewing on cauldron four, I’ve set up your ingredients for you. Your instructions are on the board to the left of Miss Bell’s.  Make sure you read the right ones.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, an annoyed note creeping into his voice.  “I can read, you know.  I learned a long time ago.”

Severus shot him a dark look.  “None of your cheek, boy.  Get started, I don’t have an afternoon to waste dawdling.” Then he went back into his office.

Harry glared after him.  “What bug bit him?” he muttered.  “I’m what, five minutes late, and he acts like I’m half-an-hour or something.”

“Don’t mind him, Harry.  He had the class from hell this afternoon, I think.  Seventh year NEWTS, but all they wanted to do was discuss the tournament and several of them nearly exploded their cauldrons and wasted expensive ingredients. And he gave one Ravenclaw a zero and another detention for totally ignoring him and discussing the tournament instead of their lab.”

“How do you know all this, Katie?” Harry asked, for he knew Snape would never discuss such things with a student. 

“Simple.  I was waiting in his office for the class to get out and I could hear everything that went on,” she replied, chopping up some roots expertly.  “So he’s kind of tetchy, cut him some slack. My dad’s the same when something doesn’t go right down at the harbor. He snaps and doesn’t really mean it.”

“Oh. Okay.” When she put it that way, he no longer was angry at Severus’s attitude. He moved over to his cauldron and read the ingredients on the board, noticing that Severus had written his larger and separated them with a wavy line between them and Katie’s. 

For fifteen minutes, he brewed in companionable silence, but when he got to the “steep for fiteen minute stage” he allowed himself to gaze longingly at her as she moved about her large cauldron, admiring the sway of her hips and the curve of her bottom and the graceful gesture of her hands as she added another ingredient to her cauldron and stirred.

Merlin, but she’s so beautiful! More beautiful than even that French girl Fleur Delacour.  I could stare at her all day . . .all day . . .and how I want to take all the pins or whatever out of her hair and watch it fall down past her . . .uh . . .hips and run my hands through it and hold her tight.  She had he tip of her tongue between her lips and she turned to fetch a jar of beetle carapaces and their eyes met.

“See something you like?” she teased, her voice a throaty rasp that sent shivers down him.

“Yeah, I do,” he said boldly.

She grinned and turned around to add the beetles and he watched, mesemerized, and wished he was kissing her right then.  He recalled their first kiss and how good she had tasted, like mint and coffee.  He was so enraptured by her that he forgot all about his solution until Snape loomed over him, looking most displeased. 

“I don’t hear any stirring, do you?” Severus reprimanded sharply. 

“Huh? Hi, Dad.”

“Don’t you “hi, Dad” me, young man.” Severus growled, pointing to Harry’s cauldron.  “You should be paying attention to your potion, not gazing over your cauldron making goo-goo eyes at your girlfriend, Mr. Snape.  This is advanced potions lab, not daydream class! You can do that on your own time, not mine.”

“I . . .I wasn’t . . .” Harry blushed furiously.  “I just . . .had something in my eye,” he removed his glasses and rubbed convincingly.

An instant later, a hand was tilting his head back and examining his eye. A wet cloth was applied gently twice, wiping his eyes, then Severus released him and stepped away.  “Finish your brewing, son.  Ingredients cost money and my budget won’t cover carelessness.  Stir that ten times counterclockwise.”

Harry did, wishing he could throw himself headfirst into the cauldron and be taken away somewhere, like on those old Calgon commercials he used to see on the telly late at night when he was at the Dursleys. Must his father always embarrass the hell out of him? He wondered resentfully. His ears still burning, he began to stir, slowly and evenly. 

A moment later, Severus went to fetch something out of his office, and Harry turned to Katie and grumbled, “Damn perfectionist git!” he drew himself up to his full height, crossed his arms over his chest, and said in a perfect mocking imitation of his father, “I don’t hear any stirring, do you?”

Katie couldn’t help it.  Harry’s impersonation was perfect—Severus to the life, down to the scowl.  She burst out laughing, after first removing her finished product from the fire.

So did Harry after a moment.

Until he looked up and saw his father standing in the doorway of his office. He had obviously seen the whole thing. Instantly his laughter died and he gulped sharply. Oh bloody hell, but I am so dead. He looks mad enough to hex me into pieces.

 “If I were any other parent, what do you think would happen to you, Harry Albus Snape?” demanded his father frostily, his eyes snapping.

“Umm . . .I’d be getting my arse kicked halfway to China probably. Or six feet under,” his son admitted sheepishly.  “Sorry, Dad.”

“Indeed. You would.”

His son dropped his eyes, staring at the dungeon floor.  “But . . .imitation’s the sincerest form of flattery,” he said quietly, hoping to get out of the grave he had dug for himself. 

Snape frowned severely.  “That was not flattery, that was mockery.  I do know the difference. By all rights, I should be giving you detention for your smart mouth at the very least.  Your lack of respect for me is appalling.”

Now Harry felt completely remorseful and guilty.  “I’m really sorry. I acted like a royal idiot. Feel free to kick my arse.”

“I would, but I need you to be able to finish your potion,” his father scowled, “But if I ever catch you making fun of me that way again, Mr. Snape, rest assured I will kick your backside all the way to Australia, am I clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now finish. . .that . . .Clarifying . . .Draft.” Snape ordered, punctuating his words with a few swats to the back of his son’s head with a composition book he happened to have in his hand. 

Harry winced and rubbed his head ruefully, but said nothing about the chastisement. Stupid! You really know how to get him steamed, don’t you? Katie must think you’re the biggest arse since time began.

He dared not look at his girl however, not while he’d just been figuratively reamed out by his father, who was still hovering over him like some black bird of prey. He turned back to his potion, finishing it quickly and competently, the way he should have done in the first place.

Severus watched impassively while Harry decanted and labeled and at last looked up from his task, remorse and regret still visible in the green eyes. 

Snape met his son’s eyes and thought, How could I ever have thought he was James’s son, even with Glamours? Potter would have been amused at that little imitation, not remorseful that he had hurt my feelings. He would have still been laughing over it in his mind.  But Harry wasn’t.  Severus could tell he was sorry and guilty without ever resorting to Legilimency.  His son had all of his mother’s empathy and his father’s guilt complex, Severus thought wryly.

Then he turned about to inspect his other student’s work, letting his son stew for a few minutes more, letting the lesson sink in.  After declaring Katie’s Venomous Spider Antidote a success, he returned to put his son out of his misery.

As Harry cleaned up his work station, Severus leaned over and whispered in his ear, “You’re forgiven.  Just don’t do it again.”

“I won’t.” Harry promised.  “Thanks, Dad.” He smiled tentatively up at the Potions Master, and was rewarded with his father’s quiet half-smile and a hand ruffling his hair in return.

“Dismissed, you two.  Go take a walk or however you teenagers spend time together these days.  You’re both too distracted by hormones to brew anything more today.” He waved them out of the lab.

“See you Friday, professor. Thank you, sir!” Katie called, then dragged Harry out the door before he could say something else to anger Severus.

Harry waved before allowing his girlfriend to pull him down the hall.  He walked in silence for a few minutes, trying unsuccessfully to conquer his shame and embarrassment.  At last he halted and said in a soft voice, “I’ll bet you think I’m the biggest git ever, making fun of my dad like that after what you told me about his day and all.”

“A little.  Though I did think it was funny at first. You’ve got him down to a T, you know.” Katie admitted.  “Until I saw him standing there, listening, and all of a sudden it wasn’t funny anymore.”

“I know.  It was petty,” Harry said, not looking at her.  “I was mad ‘cause he yelled at me in front of you and I wanted to get back at him, only . . .I’m no good at paybacks.  I don’t like hurting people like that. I know what it feels like . . .my cousin used to mock me something awful when I lived with my aunt and uncle, before I knew I was Severus’s son. I’m such a jerk.”

She put an arm around him and tilted his chin up so he was looking into her eyes.  “Don’t beat yourself up over it, Harry.  It’s done and over with and he’s forgiven you.” She waved a finger mock-scoldingly under his nose.  “Just don’t do it again.”

“I won’t. Promise.” He laughed, then caught her hand.

“You know, Harry, he really loves you.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because he could have kicked your arse or grounded you or whatever and he didn’t.” Katie said knowingly.  “He’s a good dad, you’re lucky, Harry.”

“I know that, believe me. I don’t know why I acted like an idiot today.”

She kissed him gently.  “You’re entitled to act like an idiot once in awhile, Mr. Snape.  Like every other human being.” The kiss deepened.

“Hey, little brother, get a room!” Draco called. 

Harry pulled away, scowling at Draco.  “What are you, the relationship police? Go and find Hermione and snog her, why don’t you?”

“Good idea.  I’ll do that after I finish talking to Dad.” Draco laughed. Then he added over his shoulder, “Got any Contraceptix, Harry?”

“Bite me, Draco,” Harry yelled back, then turned to Katie and said, “C’mon, let’s fly away from here, Katie-did. Too many damn people poking their noses in our business.”

“Okay.” She laughed and they raced up the hallway.  “Katie-did?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Uh . . .yeah.  I thought it was kind of . . .cute.  Unless you think it’s lame?”

She shook her head.  “No, I like it.  So long as you’re the one using it.  Do you give nicknames to all your girlfriends then, Harry?”

He shook his head. “No.  You’re the first.  Guess I get that from my dad.  He has nicknames for me and Draco.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Promise you won’t laugh? Or tell anyone?”

“I promise. Witch’s honor.” She said solemnly.

“All right.  He calls Draco “Dragon” and me “Phoenix”.”

“I can see why.  Aww! That’s so sweet.”

“Just don’t ever let Draco or Dad know I told you.  They’d kill me.”

“Can’t have that, Harry.” She grinned, then sprinted up the stairs and out of the castle. 

Smirking, Harry chased after, ignoring Peeves singing off-key, “Oooh, Katie Bell’s playing hard to get! Catch her little Snape! Snapey junior lo-o-ves sweet Bell! Bell’s the belle of Snapey’s eye! Bell and Snapey sitting in a tree—K-I-S-S-I-N_G!”

“Put a sock in it, Peeves!” Harry shouted, pushing the door to the castle open with a shoulder and following his beloved Chaser down to the lake.

* * * * * *

All that next week, the school was filled with rumors about who was going to be the new Hogwarts champion.  Daily, students from all the Houses who were seventeen placed their names in the Goblet, cheered on by friends and Housemates.  Alicia Spinnet did so, as did Cedric Diggory, and Stan Seventrees, a Ravenclaw.  Andrew Santos, a Slytherin, tossed his in after much ribbing from his friends. 

Several students who were almost seventeen tried and failed to cross the Age Line Dumbledore had set up in various ways.  One and all failed.  One of the more spectacular failures was engineered by Fred and George Weasley.  They brewed an Aging potion that would age them only a few months, and then they walked up to  Age Line and stepped across . . .

They immediately were serenaded by cheering from the students watching, and were just about to put their names in the Goblet when they were thrown violently out of the circle and across the hall.  When they picked themselves up, they discovered, much to their chagrin, that they were aged to almost a hundred, and had long beards and creaking arthritic joints like old men.

Their appearance elicited hysterical laughter from the students, especially Ron.  Hermione just shook her head.  “Boys! Did they really think they could get past a ward Dumbledore had set?”

“They had to try,” Katie snickered.  “They’re boys.  They only learn by experience.”

“Tell me about it,” the other girl snorted.

The laughter died when Snape appeared in the doorway and caught sight of the twins.  He bit back a groan.  “Why am I not surprised? Gentlemen, it appears you’ve been had by a master.  Next time don’t be so quick to try and circumvent the system, the rule exists to keep you safe.  Come along, you two.  It’s the Hospital Wing for a few days at least. The rest of you, find something to do that’s productive! Go!”

Limping and groaning, the twins followed him, muttering, “Merlin! Getting old sucks!”

The rest of the students split up after that, they were not foolish to disregard Snape’s dictates, for though the Potions Master was a lot more relaxed than he used to be, he was still stern and snarky and wouldn’t hesitate to give detention to anyone not obeying a direct order.

Ron chuckled and said, “Ah well, they gave it a good try though,” before following Draco, Hermione, Harry, and Katie.

The only one watching who was not amused was Smidgen, who hissed, :Sacrilege! Using the Sacred Cup as a mere . . .what do humans call it . . .a lottery ball? Yes, that is it.  Over a thousand years since the Cup was stolen from us and this is how you wizards treat it?:

Harry winced, for he had never heard the shimmerling sound so insulted and angry before.  But she blinked away before he could question her, and Harry resolved to speak to her about it later on in the evening, when they were all gathered in Snape’s quarters after dinner, as was their wont now.  Severus even allowed Ron, Hermione and Katie to come there and study or read or play chess, reasoning that that way he could keep an eye on both his sons and make sure they weren’t getting in trouble and were safe from those who had grudges against them.

Severus usually had a house elf serve them tea and cakes and retreated to his study while the teenagers gathered in the living area, giving them privacy without being too obvious about it. They were careful to not abuse the professor’s hospitality, and always made sure everything was neat and clean before departing.

* * * * * *

Later that night:

 

“ . . .so I was going to ask her what was wrong, but she vanished before I could and I haven’t seen her since,” Harry told Draco, they were sitting on Snape’s couch, munching on a bowl of snack mix.  “Have you?”

Draco shook his head no.  “Not a flicker.  Don’t worry. She’s probably gone invisible or something and is watching the Cup from afar. What’s the story behind the Cup anyway?”

“Darned if I know,” Harry said.  “I was hoping I could talk to Smidgen and find out more.”

“Who else would know?” Draco mused.  “Maybe Dad?”

“Yes?” asked Severus, coming into the den just at that moment.

His sons looked up at him.  “Dad, do you know anything  about the Cup of Wonders?”

“Very little, I’m afraid. It was an ancient sacred object of the Seelie Court centuries ago and it was lost to them by treachery . . .treachery by one of our own, I’m afraid.  The fae tell that Merlin, our greatest wizard, was once a student of Titania, and received leave from her to borrow the Cup for a time to heal King Arthur from a poisoned arrow.  That was how we wizards learned of the Cup and what it could do.  Lancelot, who was raised among the fae, and was a half-blood much like Severus Prince, also knew of the Cup and he told the legend to his son, Galahad.  Galahad believed the Cup was the Holy Grail and he did not think the fae had any right to it, so he convinced the Cup Maidens to give him the chalice using his special powers of persuasion, though otherwise he disdained his fae heritage. He stole it away and it has been lost to the fae ever since.  And that is all I know.”

“Dad, Phil and Smidgen say the Goblet of Fire is really the Cup of Wonders,” Harry said.

“What?” exclaimed the Potions Master.  “Are they certain?”

Harry nodded.  “Yeah and who would know better than they would? I mean, it was theirs first.”

“Right you are, Harry,” came Phil’s voice and then the vampire appeared out of the air.

Both boys jumped and even Severus was startled. “Must you do that?” the Potions Master frowned at the vampire.

Phil smirked, his violet eyes twinkling.  “Yes. It’s fun to watch you all jump like startled geese.”

“Uncle Phil, can you tell us more about the Cup of Wonders?” asked Draco, flashing the master vampire his best pleading look.

“I can.  I was wondering when you were going to ask me,” Phil said, and perched upon the arm of the couch. “It’s time you knew the truth—the truth that only the fae know.”

Before he could speak again, there came a knock on the door of the suite.

“Harry? Draco? Are you in there?” called Hermione.

“Come in!” Draco called and the door opened.

In came not only Hermione, but Ron and Katie also.

All of the Snapes froze, for Ron and Katie had never met Philip before and there he was, sitting in plain view on the arm of the couch.

Oh, crap! Harry thought frantically, and then wondered why the vampire wasn’t veiling himself from view.  He looked back and forth from his friends, two of whom were eyeing Phili curiously, and the vampire, who turned abruptly to Severus and said, “Sev, I believe introductions are in order.”

Severus recovered quickly.  “As you wish. Come in, all of you, and shut the door.” Once they had done so, Severus said, “Ron Weasley and Katie Bell, meet Philip Anthony Snape, my—”

“Brother, sir?” guessed Katie.  “He looks like a younger version of you except for the . . .” she trailed off as she noticed that Phil smiling was revealing his fangs.  “Oh sweet Merlin!”

“Vampire!” Ron cried, his face draining of color.  “All the rumors are true!” He backpedaled and bashed his head into the door.

“Ron, it’s okay,” Harry said, rising.  “Phil’s not a bad vampire, don’t go all spare.”

“There’s such a thing as a good one?” gasped Ron, his freckles standing out in sharp relief.

“Of course there is, just as Remus Lupin is a good werewolf,” Hermione reminded him.

Severus moved then, grabbing Ron just before he fell to the floor.  “Weasley, for Merlin’s sake, now is not the time to pass out on my floor!” He picked up the Gryffindor and placed him on the couch between Draco and Harry. “Get hold of yourself, Ronald.  You ought to know by now not to believe all those stupid rumors about me drinking students’ blood.”

“But . . .professor . . .he really does drink blood.  Doesn’t he?”

“I do, young wizard,” Phil interjected smoothly. “But don’t worry, I never hunt innocents or anyone with a conscience.  Those I feed from are the dregs of society, the evil-doers, like your Death Eaters.  People whom the world will not miss yet cannot always get rid of.”

“Oh.  Guess that’s okay then,” Ron said weakly. He accepted the cup Severus handed him.  “What’s this?”

“Tea laced with a Calming Draught.  You seem like you need it.”

Ron sipped the drink gratefully.  “Is he really your brother, like Katie said?”

“The relationship is a bit more complicated than that, he is actually an ancestor of mine,” Severus explained.  “But my sons call him Uncle Phil and I have come to think of him as a sort of elder brother myself.”

“Wow!” Katie said, eyeing the handsome vampire.  “I wouldn’t mind having an older brother that looked like him.”

“Hey!” Harry pulled her down on his lap, pretending to be insulted. “How about me? I’m a Snape too and just as handsome.”

“I know, but he’s like a living breathing sculpture,” breathed Katie, gazing at Philip dazedly.

“Got that right,” Hermione agreed and Draco just groaned. 

“Okay, enough with the “We Worship Uncle Phil” looks,” Draco said, pulling Hermione down to sit beside him. Bloody vampire sex appeal aura! he thought irritably, followed by a wistful, Wish I had some of that, so I wouldn’t need to worry about Krum trying to make  a move on my girl.  “You can do that later.  He was just going to tell us about the Cup of Wonders, also known as the Goblet of Fire.”

Phil cleared his throat. “I would hope that all of you are comfortable? Yes? Good.  Harry, have you told Katie about your heritage and Prince Manor?”

“Yes. She knows all about the fae connection.”

“Very well then.  Simply put, your Goblet of Fire is in actuality a sacred fae object called the Cup of Wonders. The Cup, or so fae legend says, was a gift to the Seelie Court from their Goddess the Bright Lady, who is known by many names—Diana, Ceres, Nyx, Brigid—she is all aspects, Maiden, Mother, Crone.  The Goddess also has a consort and lover, the Horned God, sometimes known as Cernunnos, Lord of the Forest and Wild Places.  It is said that together those two gave birth to the fae and in celebration of that creation, made the Cup of Wonders. 

“The Cup could do many things, hence its name.  When filled with clear water, it became a vessel for healing. It could heal any poison known to man or fae, even ones that killed almost instantly, like basilisk venom.  When poured upon a wound it would mend it, no matter how life threatening. Any potion put in it would have its efficacy increased to its maximum potency.  It could also be used as a kind of seeing medium, and those with the Gift of Sight would always See true.  It is said that the Cup could also be used as a truth teller, meaning that if a criminal drank from it, he would be forced to tell the truth, completely and honestly, no matter what.  If you happened to drink from the Cup when you were weary, it would banish all of your tiredness away and make you feel energized. It could give warriors on the eve of battle courage and serenity to those who were troubled or sorrowing. And if you were hungry or thirsty, you had only to ask and the Cup could provide you with a feast of food and drink for a night.  When commanded to, the Cup could also glow with blue fire to provide warmth and protection.

“But the Cup was not to be used lightly and it could never fall into evil hands.  Most of those who were dark could not even touch the Cup, but a few could, those who were not irredeemably lost to darkness, and it was those whom the fae guarded the Cup against.  For the Unseelie and their allies wanted the Cup for themselves, to keep and to eventually find a way to destroy it.  So the Cup was guarded by a group of volunteers, the Cup Maidens, young fae women who wished to remain chaste and protect the Cup from those who sought to use it for their own ends. They were mages and warriors and priestesses of the Goddess, and for time out of mind they guarded the sacred chalice. The Cup was also used upon the coronation of a new Seelie King or Queen, and a law was passed that no fae could rule without the blessing of the Cup being bestowed on them. If the fae were the rightful ruler, the first sip of the Cup would make him or her one with the land, if not, then another must be found. 

“The last ruler to have the Cup’s blessing is Titania, and she has been queen for over a thousand mortal years.  It was during her reign that the Cup was stolen by a young part-fae knight, the misguided son of Lancelot of the Lake, Galahad.  There had always been stories of the Cup, and the priestesses of the Goddess sometimes used it in their rituals of worship, and so it became sacred and holy. Lancelot was half-fae, his mother had been a Seelie noblewoman who had come to the fire ceremony on Midsummer’s Eve, and danced with King Ban of Benwick.  He gave her a child and she told him that the boy would someday be a great knight and when he was old enough, she would send him for training.  But until then, she raised him in the Realm of the Fae, and taught him all of her magic arts and customs.  She would not tell her lover her true name, and so Ban called her the Lady of the Lake, for out of a lake she came to him, and that was how Lancelot came by that name.  

“The Lady would have taught Lancelot the old ways and the old religion, and so he learned, as did any fae child, of the Cup of Wonders.  When he was ten, she sent him as promised, to his father, though he could always return to her world when he needed. And Lancelot became a great knight, the best there ever was, and a great friend to Arthur and Merlin.  Merlin too, had studied with the fae mages, and learned their arts, concealment and glamourie and healing most of all.  He borrowed the Cup once to heal Arthur from an assassin’s arrow and thus the legend of the Cup grew. 

“A new faith was springing up in the world then, the faith of Christianity, and Lancelot married a woman who  was of that religion, and it was she who taught his son that the Cup was actually the Holy Grail, and that it had been stolen by the heathen fairies.  At this time, Camelot was flaling apart, the land was at war, and Arthur was old and weary, trying to keep his kingdom together.  He sought to keep his knights bound to one purpose and created the Grail Quest. 

“Galahad took the quest to heart and along with his father, set out in search of it. Now Lancelot knew that Galahad believed the Grail was the Cup, even though he had tried to explain that the Cup had been around long before Christ.  Galahad insisted the Cup was what they were seeking, and tricked Lancelot into opening a Gate into the Faerie Realm.

“Galahad slipped inside and shut the Gate, for he too bore some fae magic, though he rarely used it, unlike his sire, he regarded the fae blood as tainted. Then he managed to make his way to the Maidens Tower and by using yet another fae power, the Honey Tongue of Persuasion, managed to get the maidens to let him have the Cup. 

“Galahad stole it and took it back into the world, claiming it was the Grail. And he had absolutely no idea of what magic it could perform beyond healing the sick and injured. 

“But Merlin’s young apprentice Nimue knew and she wanted it for herself.  So she stole it in turn and hid it away, disguising it with glamours, and called it the Goblet of Fire.  But she told no one of the true nature of the Cup, which is why I suppose only those wizards bound to the fae know the legend of the Cup, and that is how it has stayed hidden for so long. 

“The fae have never given up searching, but no fae had ever come across it, until now.  Smidgen says it’s a sign that it is time for the Cup of Wonders to return to its true home and at the end of the tournament, she shall ask on behalf of her people that the Cup be returned to its rightful owners.”

“The Minister won’t like that,” Hermione remarked.

“What if he refuses to give you the Cup?” asked Katie.

“We have ways of . . .shall we say . . .persuading him,” Phil put in, grinning toothily.

Ron gulped and whispered, “Merlin, save me!”

Phil bit back a chuckle, then leaned over and looked Ron directly in the eyes, letting a trickle of his suggestive power flow through the boy.  “You have nothing to fear from me, Ron.  I will never bite you.”

Ron nodded.  “’Course not, sir. Professor Snape’s never bitten me yet and I’m sure he’s wanted to sometimes.” He had a dreamy smile on his face.

That time Phil did laugh.  “Severus isn’t a vampire.”

“He’s not?”

“No. Don’t believe everything you hear,” Phil said. He straightened and looked at Severus, who rolled his eyes.  “Your reputation precedes you, Sev.”

“Wonderful,” drawled the Potions Master sarcastically. He glanced at the clock upon the mantle.  “Philip, I know this is early for you, but these children have curfew still and must get some sleep.”

There were muttered groans from that, until Severus reminded them that tomorrow was the drawing of names from the Goblet. Then they quit protesting and went off to bed, bidding both adults good night before leaving.

 

* * * * * *

 The next morning, sleepy but eager students met in the Great Hall, having eaten breakfast already, and were now eager to see whom the magical Goblet picked to be the three champions.  Dumbledore stood off to the side, dressed in his customary purple and silver stars robes, looking as eager as a child on his birthday. The Cup of Wonders was still lit with eldritch blue fire, and as Harry watched, he could swear he saw patterns in the air.  Now that he knew the full history of the Cup, he understood better why Smidgen had been so insulted at the way the wizards were treating the sacred item.  It would have been as if someone had stolen the British flag and used it as a bath towel or worse, a handkerchief.

Severus and Minerva stood with the judges, off to the side, waiting to see what happened.  When Harry had asked his father last night about his role as judge, Severus had said only, “The Headmaster needed a fourth judge and Moody refused, so I agreed.  Someone has to make sure the students are safe and that they follow the rules.”

“And who better than you, huh, Dad?”

Severus simply nodded.  Then added slyly, “I just hope the champions are better at listening to me than my sons are.”

“Hey! I always listen to you, Dad.  I just don’t always do what you say.”

“Too true, scamp.” The Potions Master snorted.  “I’m hoping that the champions have grown out of that tendency.”

Thinking about that conversation made Harry smile and resolve to try and do better and obey Severus more often, because he knew the man really loved him and just wanted to protect him.

Dumbledore was holding his hand over the Cup now and calling out, “The champion for Beauxbatons Academy of Magic is—”

There was a whoosh of blue flame and a piece of parchment was spat out.

Dumbledore unfolded it.

“Miss Fleur Delacour! Congratulations!”

The Beauxbatons delegation was cheering and hugging her and wishing her “Bonne chance!”

Harry clapped too and then his eyes spotted Smidgen perched upon the Slytherin banner  and Phil watching from his corner.

Now the Headmaster was requesting the champion from Durmstrang.

Another piece of paper was spat out.

“Mr. Victor Krum! Congratulations!”

A deafening howl of “KRUM!” went round the hall and the students from Durmstrang slapped Krum on the shoulder.

When things quieted down, Dumbledore said, “Last but not least, I call upon the Hogwarts champion to be revealed.”

Again a piece of parchment was spat out.

Everyone held their breath as Dumbledore read. 

“Cedric Diggory! Congratulations, Cedric!”

The noise over at the Hufflepuff table was so loud Harry could barely hear himself think.  But that was all right. He was glad Cedric was going to represent the school.  He deserved to. 

“And now that the three champions have been chosen, it’s time to—”

“Wait, Albus!” called Crouch.  “The Goblet is still lit.  The flames haven’t gone out.”

“How strange.” Albus faced the Goblet once more.  “That has never happened before.  Have you another message for me?”

The Cup spat out another parchment paper.

Puzzled, Dumbledore took it.  “Another champion? But there can be only three.” He unfolded the piece of paper and read aloud the name printed upon it.

“Harry Albus Snape.”

No sooner had he spoken the Cup’s magical flames died, locking in the enchantment and now four champions had been chosen to be in the tournament.

Harry was stunned.  He kept thinking he had heard wrong.  There must be a mistake. All around him, there was pandemonium.

“Another champion?”

“How did that happen?”

“He can’t compete, he’s not old enough!”

“He tricked the Goblet!”

Harry shook his head, dazed. This can’t be happening.  It just can’t.

But it had and then Harry heard a familiar voice over the hubbub.

“Albus, you had better explain how the hell my son’s name got in the Goblet, or else!” Severus snarled, he was livid. A vein pulsed in his temple and his eyes were deep pits of molten obsidian, and he glared at Dumbledore so fiercely Harry was surprised that the man was still breathing and not keeled over dead upon the floor.

Black robes billowing, Snape turned and gestured for Harry to come to him, and his gaze softened slightly when he met his son’s stunned eyes.

Harry felt a wave of relief crash over him then and he slowly made his way to Severus’s side, seeking shelter in his father’s presence like a frightened child after a nightmare.  Only thing was, this nightmare was real.

He had just reached Severus when he felt Smidgen alight on his shoulder and Phil step out of the shadows, still veiled, but his fangs were showing.


There, a nice long one for you! Thanks for all your reviews too! You rock! Enjoy!

And I'll leave you with a question--should Phil reveal himself to Albus? Yes or no?


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