Chapter 38 : Turn Back the Hands of Time
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It was one of those lazy days, when the air was cool and calm with a slight breeze, and the ocean sheened to green glass. Down on the beach, a tall dark-haired girl and a green-eyed boy with glasses chased each other along the sand, their feet sinking into the wet sand and getting washed by the ebb and flow of the sea. Both were dressed casually in shorts and shirts with a dolphin logo, in the girl's case, and a mermaid in the boy's. "Come and get me, Harry!" Katie called, laughing.
Then she turned and ran, her dark hair streaming behind her like wings.
Harry chased her, running close behind, his feet kicking up wet sand, grinning.
Katie was laughing so hard she couldn't run, and so Harry caught her easily. He scooped her up and said, in his best imitation of a pirate, "Arrr . . .I've caught me a pretty maid, now what shall I do with her?"
"Let me go, you smartarse!" She pretended to struggle.
He tickled her and she shrieked. "Stop it!"
"What fer? I likes it when a lady laughs," Harry growled, still aping his pirate persona.
"You're evil, Snape!"
"Yup, I am the worst pirate to ever sail the seven seas!" He turned and walked into the ocean. "Say you'll live with me, milady?"
"Then into the drink ye shall go!" And with that he tossed her into the water.
She gasped and yelped, for the water was not yet quite warm. "Harry, you-you prat!" Then she cupped water in her hands and splashed him good.
While he was coughing and wiping off his glasses, she grabbed his ankle and yanked hard, pulling him down into the water.
"Ha! The mermaid strikes again!" she smirked.
Further down the beach, a blond boy was sitting on a sand dune, kneeling next to a girl with brown curling hair, they were building a sand castle. Both of them looked over at the other couple and shook their heads at the couple's antics. "Great Merlin, but they're like a couple of animals!" Draco remarked, sounding rather uppercrust and snooty. His gray eyes twinkled.
"They are rather silly," admitted Hermione. "You'd never do that to me."
"Certainly not," Draco smirked. "Malfoys don't throw their dates into the ocean."
"Thank goodness for that. After what happened, I don't care if I ever set foot on a boat again." Hermione declared, patting some more sand along the wall into place.
"You shouldn't be afraid of the sea, 'Mione. Not so long as I'm with you."
"I'm not. I just would rather avoid it."
"I understand. I would never toss you into the ocean without asking . . ." he said slyly. "However . . .burying you in the sand is fair game!"
He gestured with his wand and sand swirled about her until she was buried up to her neck.
"Draco! What are you doing?"
"Making sure you can't get away . . .and having some fun." He leaned in and kissed her on the lips. "Mmm . . .you taste like strawberries."
"And you taste like buttermilk pancakes," she murmured. "Delicious!"
"I'm so lucky," he said. "Because now I have everything I've ever wanted. A decent family, although Harry can be annoying sometimes, a home I can actually enjoy returning to, and you, sweet witch."
He kissed her again and Hermione allowed herself to relax and let Draco make her feel all warm and tingly inside.
"I wish you didn't have to leave tomorrow," she sighed.
"I know. But . . .we'll see each other again." Draco said. "Right now though, let's forget about goodbye . . .and concentrate on now."
And for once, Hermione had nothing to say.
Monday, early afternoon:
Upon their arrival back at the manor, the Snapes separated for an hour, Severus wished to practice some kin-sa-dor, Harry decided to write a letter to Aunt Petunia, and Draco went to play with a very overeager Cafall. The misthound was delighted that they were home again, and couldn't stop licking them and jumping up on them, wagging his tail.
"Draco, take this ill-mannered pup outside and let him run till he drops," Severus ordered after he had his face licked thoroughly for the fifth time in five minutes.
"Okay, Dad." He whistled at the misthound. "Cafall, let's go find some rabbits! Who's a good dog?"
Cafall bayed happily and raced out of the door. Draco quickly jogged after him. he spent the better part of an hour with the young dog, watching him track a rabbit, throwing sticks for him to retrieve and wrestling in the grass with the dog.
Draco had never been allowed to have a dog when he was a child, Lucius believed dogs were slobbery undignified beasts and so the only pet Draco had ever had was Stormrider, his owl. And while he loved Stormy, the dignified owl was not exactly the cuddly type. Cafall, though, was a rough and tumble hunting hound, with a love of running and he adored his masters, and was willing to play for hours and then flop down next to Draco while he baited a line and sleep.
Cafall was also a good listener, Draco had told him several things about Hermione that he wanted to do for her, and his hopes for a future with her as his wife someday. He had poured into Cafall's satin ear his anger at the legacy Lucius had left him, that of the Death Eater's son, and how people still looked at him warily. Sometimes he complained about Severus being too strict and Cafall, unlike Harry, never told him to quit bitching and moaning.
After twenty-five minutes, Cafall was panting and happy to drink the water Draco set out for him and sprawl with the boy in the sun, letting the bees buzz about them, drawing nectar from the flowers, and the scent of merlinnas perfuming the air.
So peaceful, Draco mused, his hands behind his head. Cafall was lying with his head on Draco's stomach, and Draco scratched his ear absently while he enjoyed the quiet of the afternoon. There hadn't been too many moments like this at Malfoy Manor, for there he had always been under Lucius' critical eye. But here, at Prince Manor, he could just be himself, not the Malfoy heir, but a fifteen-year-old boy.
He dozed in the sun for about an hour before he heard Stormrider's loud hoot. Opening his eyes, Draco saw his owl winging his way down to him with a letter in his beak.
Stormrider landed gently upon Draco's shoulder and proffered him the letter. Draco took it, gave his bird a treat and then Stormy flew off to hunt with Hedwig.
Draco examined the letter, it was addressed to Lord Draco Malfoy and the return address was Dillon and Grigellham Law Offices. Draco recognized that name, it was the name of Lucius' personal solicitor.
Harry sat at the kitchen table, writing rapidly on Snape's best parchment. He had not heard from Petunia and Dudley and Sirius since before the last task. He wondered if all were okay with them and how things were getting on.
Dear Aunt Petunia,
I'm finally finished with school and back home here with Dad and Draco and Cafall. And Voldemort is gone too, as I'm sure you know if you read The Daily Prophet. So now we're all free of that madman's greed and cruelty. It's a new age for the wizarding world and also our family.
Dumbledore has promised an acquittal for Sirius, and I hope it's gone through already, so you can all come out of hiding and visit us. Hope all is well with you and Dudley and Sirius too. I know it's been tough on you, being in hiding, but now it's over and you and Dudley can make a new home somewhere. I'd offer you to come and stay at the manor, but that's my dad's decision, not mine.
If you can, write back and let me know if you want to come for a visit. Hope you have a great summer.
He placed the letter in an envelope once the ink had dried and addressed it to Petunia Dursley c/o Grimmauld Place and then he called Hedwig and asked her to deliver it. The snowy owl chuffed lovingly in his ear and then flew off, happy to have a letter to deliver.
Severus entered the kitchen then, getting a snack after his workout. His father's lean body was well-muscled and in his black kin-sa-dor outfit, reminded Harry of a ninja. He looked perfectly composed and not a hair was out of place, despite the fact that he had put himself through a grueling workout some ten minutes before. In his standard teaching robes, Severus looked intimidating, but not like a warrior, the way he did now. The tunic and breeches he wore were designed to allow freedom of movement and yet be like a second skin and they emphasized the professor's well-muscled thighs and shoulders.
He poured himself a glass of merlinna juice from the pitcher, Harry knew he wasn't the only one who liked it, though Draco claimed it was too sweet for him. Then Severus got a piece of cheese and some bread and turned to sit down at the table. "Finished your letter to your aunt already?" he asked his son.
"Yes. I just sent it off with Hedwig. I . . .invited Aunt Petunia and Dudley to come for a visit. Sirius too, if he wants. Is that . . .okay with you?" Harry asked hesitantly, now wondering if he should have asked his father first. "I know you and Sirius don't really get on 'cause of what he did to you at school . . ."
Severus nodded. "That is so, and I doubt I will ever be fond of the man. However, he is your godfather, and based upon his letters to you, he has come to accept me as your father and have grown up considerably. That being so, I believe I can tolerate him for a week without succumbing to the temptation to hex him."
"Thanks, Dad." Harry said sincerely, knowing how big a concession Severus was willing to make for him. Sirius and he had been bitter enemies at school and Harry knew that Severus still had trouble forgiving Sirius for almost killing him at the Shrieking Shack. Then he recalled something else and said, "Uh . . .will they be able to come onto the grounds? Won't the wards needed to be adjusted?"
"No, because the wards will permit those bearing a blood tie to enter Prince Manor. Your aunt, though a Muggle, is related to you through your mother, and so is your cousin. Sirius Black is also related to the Prince family by blood, though the tie is distant. Come with me, I'll show you."
Harry rose and followed Severus to the library. He watched as Severus reached up and took down a huge leatherbound volume stamped with the Prince family crest and set it upon a reading table. "Look here, Harry. This book is the Prince Family heritage book. It's a compilation of all the Prince family and all it's branches-heirs, their siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren back to the time of Merlin. It has been in the family for generations, and when a new direct descendant of the Prince line is born, their name goes in this book, to be recorded forever in its pages. It also links up other wizarding families and their ties to our House."
Severus opened the book, it was so old that the parchment was yellowed and cracked in some places. Harry saw that the pages held lineage charts, pages upon pages, as well as some brief tales and facts about the Prince family members. "Is Uncle Phil in here?"
"No, since he is a Snape and not a Prince. The only two Snapes in here are you and I." He traced his finger from their names to the Malfoys and then to the Blacks. Harry was surprised to see that he was more closely related to Draco than Sirius. "Is it true that all the pureblood families are related?"
"Yes. There was a time when pureblood only married pureblood and so eventually all the families became linked. But soon they had to start looking for other people to marry, like Muggleborns and half-bloods, because marrying your first cousin produced children with mental instability and other disorders—look at Bellatrix LeStrange and you'll understand what I mean."
"She was a nutter, all right," Harry said feelingly. "I'm not sorry she's dead."
"I don't know of anyone who is, except perhaps Voldemort." Severus shut the book and handed it to his son. "You should take this and read it over the summer. It's important that you learn about your heritage, since as the Heir Apparent, someday you will have to teach this to your children when I am gone. A wise man once said, "In order to know where you're going, you must first remember where you've been." Our ancestors were pretty interesting, so it's not all dull names and dates, there are stories and anecdotes for almost every Prince heir back to the founding of the House."
"That' s an awful lot of history, Dad."
"I know and you don't have to memorize it all at once, but you should at least read a page a day, if you can. You have much to learn about the manor as well, and I think it best if we took it in stages. So, the first thing I'll teach you is the timeclock. Let's go into the den and take a look."
Once more Harry trailed Severus and took a seat on the couch, depositing the bulky heritage book onto the coffee table.
Severus came back to the couch, holding the hourglass-shaped clock in his hands. The top of the clock showed two sets of faces, one Harry knew was attuned to time in the world outside of Prince Manor and the other was for time inside the manor. Severus had used the clock twice since Harry had come to live here, once to give Harry time to get to know him and fix up the manor, and the other time had been to give Harry and Draco time to quit bickering and start acting like siblings.
The clock had silvery gold sand within it and it had been handcrafted by the fae.
Severus cleared his throat. "The first thing you need to know about the time clock is that it is never to be used frivolously. You only are allowed twelve times in your lifetime to use it and that is all. So think carefully before you use a time travel device."
"Is it anything like a time turner?"
"Almost, except that the timeclock can take you back to a specific day, but you cannot alter the outcome of the events."
"Because time is like a great river. Toss a pebble in a pond and there will be ripples, but no effect. The events of the past are already fixed in the time stream and it would take a very unscrupulous wizard to travel back in time and try to change it. The fae do not believe in trying to change the past, they are the ones who built the timeclock after all."
"Then why have it?"
"To give the heirs time to accomplish certain tasks, such as prepare for a difficult test, or practice more with a certain spell or weapon. I used it to give us more time together than the few weeks we would have had ordinarily. Tampering with the timestream can have disastrous results, Harry. The fae have a saying, "Let the past remain in the past, and the future be unknown, for to do otherwise is to cause the center of the world to collapse." Basically, what it means is that tampering with past events can create paradoxes and ruin the stability of the universe. No fae wizard, even an Unseelie, is foolish enough to try it. At least, none that I know of. There are certain things you simply do not play about with, no matter the reason."
"So I guess that's why you never used the timeclock to go back and save Mum, right? Or prevent her from marrying James?" Harry surmised.
"Right. No matter how much I wished to do so, those events had already happened and changing them would have ripped a hole in the fabric of the timestream. Plus, an ordinary wizard, even one with fae blood, cannot alter prior events without draining himself down to nothing. A fullblooded fae can do so, but even then, the doing is fraught with peril. As far as I know, such a thing was attempted only once, and the resulting catastrophe caused Atlantis to fall and sink beneath the sea. And that was thousands of years ago, before the Roman Empire ever existed, before Troy fell. And the fae who attempted it destroyed himself."
"So the timeclock can really only be used for personal use while at the manor?"
"Yes. At the manor, there is no danger of seeing yourself or of being tempted to alter past events. However, the heir can only use the timeclock a total of twelve times, and after that it goes dormant until the Heir Apparent becomes the new heir. So you have to consider carefully what you are using it for. I myself have used the clock a total of three times, once before you were born during the First Wizard War, and twice with you and Draco."
"How do you use it?"
"You need to set it, using the keys located here," Severus turned over the clock and showed Harry two keys stuck to its base. "Remove them and place them here, at the bottom back portion in their keyholes . . ." The base of the clock was a thick pedestal, with two keyholes located at the back. "When you insert the keys, you must turn both of them simultaneously to activate the clock, and then look at the two dials, one which is set to the present time and the other to a time in the past. Before you use the keys, you must first determine how long you wish to remain in the past and when you wish to return to the present. You can set the clock for any date—month, day, year, hour, minute . . .down to the second. I recommend coming back to nearly the same time you left, give or take a few minutes."
"Okay, I get that, but Dad, what's to prevent someone from using the clock even if he's not the heir?"
"The timeclock will only respond to one who bears a Medallion of Inheritance, and the only two people who do at the present time are me and you. In that way, the clock prevents itself from being sold by an heir strapped for cash or being used by an unscrupulous person who visits the manor."
"Oh. That makes sense."
"Harry, this manor is very old, and filled with many old magics and secrets. In time, I shall reveal all of what I know to you, but it may take this summer and the next for you to absorb it all, and some things you may never fully understand, but will simply have to accept as is," Severus told him. "Right now you should study the lineage book and think about the timeclock."
"Can it wait till after lunch? I'm sort of starving." Harry said plaintively. His stomach had been growling and crying for food for the past half-hour.
Severus gave a rueful chuckle. "Boys! You're always ruled by your stomachs at this age. Go on, find your brother, Harry. I'll fix us up some sandwiches and a salad." He waved off his son.
Harry raced out the back door and found Draco sitting on the porch, reading a letter. Cafall was dozing at his feet, clearly tuckered out after playing. "Hey, Dragon. You hungry, or do you just want to sit and moon over your letter from Hermione?"
A comment like that would have once been the start of a quarrel between them, but Draco had stopped being so touchy recently, and could now chuckle at how much he missed Hermione, secure in the knowledge that she loved him. "This isn't from Hermione," he said, waving the letter under Harry's nose. "It's from the Malfoy family solicitors."
"Oh? Is it something important?"
"Yes, it has to do with my inheritance of Malfoy Manor. I'll tell you more when we go inside and Dad's there to hear it too."
Some ten minutes later, they were all enjoying sandwiches and crisps, plus spring water, when Draco decided to let them all in on the information the solicitor had sent him. "Dad, today I got a letter from Dillon and Grigellham Law Offices. They tell me that because of my . . .Lucius' past activities as a Death Eater, they wish to search the manor to see if there are any dark magic objects around, and if so, they will be confiscating them, but I won't be charged with a fine from the Ministry since I'm not responsible for what my father did. When I'm seventeen, I shall inherit Malfoy Manor and need to live there for a period of fourteen days, no less. Apparently there are wards upon there that will prevent the heir from entering the manor unless he agrees to those terms. I agreed to that too."
"That is welcome news," Severus said, sounding pleased. "Did they say anything about the other Malfoy properties and funds?"
Draco shook his head. "No, sir. I assume they were placed in my vault. The money, that is. The property can be assessed and whatever money I make off them now, ought to be placed in the vault as well."
"Did they say if they wish to see you? Are there documents that require your signature and mine as your guardian?"
"Yes, there was something about titles and deeds."
"We shall pay a visit to them tomorrow." Severus said. "Reply back to them and let them know we shall be there."
Draco cleared off the table and went to pen a letter, while Harry finished the last bit of his sandwich and wondered if Petunia would be dropping by someday soon, in answer to his invitation. It would be nice to see his aunt and cousin again and see how things were going. So far, minus the sailboat disaster, this was shaping up to be a fine summer holiday.
Thanks everyone for being patient while I wrote this one. I was away most of the day and night at my neice's baby shower, she's having a girl!
Next: Petunia shares a surprise with Harry and then comes to visit. Will Severus be able to tolerate Sirius? Yes or no? What about Sirius tolerating Sev? Or Dudley and Draco? What do you think should or could happen?
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