Chapter 2 : Silent Hero
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Early morning sunlight streamed in through the open window of Harry’s second-story bedroom. Crumpled sheets of paper littered the carpeted floor-- letters that he had received over the past two weeks. A huge stack of more envelopes sat unopened on his desk. Next to the pile sat a copy of the Daily Prophet. The headline advertised Rita Skeeter’s upcoming book about him. She had somehow found out that Harry had decided to stay with Andromeda. When he refused her interview, she had mentioned his whereabouts in a story about the biography. Now, he was receiving various sorts of “fan-mail” from hundreds of witches and wizards. Well, mostly witches, actually; Rita had also been kind enough to note that he was a “very eligible bachelor”.
Harry had decided to move into the Tonks’s house for some time to help Andromeda take care of Teddy. After all, he felt responsible for the deaths of Nymphadora and Remus. The truth was that Harry felt responsible for most things that happened nowadays. It didn’t help that the Ministry and the Order had both made him into some sort of major authority figure after Voldemort’s death. His advice had been asked on innumerable decisions, including the next Minister of Magic. Various members of the wizarding community were in favor of appointing Harry himself, but he made it very clear that he was in support of Kingsley Shacklebolt. Then, it was only a matter of days before Kingsley became permanent Minister.
Ron had asked Harry to come with them back to the Burrow. Hermione was staying with the Weasleys, but Harry opted out. For one thing, the Weasleys’ home was under reconstruction after “ministry workers” had not been very careful searching it when they found out that Ron was traveling with Harry. Entire sections of wall had been blown away, leaving it looking not unlike Hogwarts had after the battle. Harry had lent Arthur and Molly money for repair materials, but he felt this wasn‘t enough. Their misfortune was the foremost thing that plagued Harry’s mind. The family that had given him so much and lost a significant amount for his cause. Though they did not seem to blame him at all, Harry had taken to avoiding them in guilt, when he could.
Harry glanced into the mirror to adjust the knot on his tie. Though he knew many wizards would be wearing robes, he had decided to wear a suit to the funeral. He had subconsciously taken to wearing muggle clothes recently. Perhaps it was because they kept him from being recognized as often. People didn’t usually look twice when he was outdoors in them.
He stepped across the discarded love letters and career propositions to his broomstick that leaned against the wall in the corner. It had been a thank-you gift from Kingsley after his appointment. It was a new Nimbus 2005-- the fastest currently available, although a fresher model would most likely come out within a few months. Kingsley had claimed it was meant to be used if Harry decided to look into the possibilities of being a professional Quidditch player. Numerous teams had offered a seeker position to him. Harry, however, would not even consider it. He was not particularly interested in playing Quidditch without his Firebolt. He would feel as if he was betraying Sirius in some way, and much of the joy would be gone. He also didn’t need anymore fame or glory. What he currently was experiencing was more than enough.
The broomstick felt sleek and polished in his hands. He hadn’t used it except for a bit of transportation. It made him feel empty inside, being very different from his past ones. Every time he got on it, he thought of Hedwig and Dobby. Then, those led to more horrible memories that Harry tried very hard to repress during his free time. He needed to use the broom today, though, since Andromeda refused to Disapparate. Harry wasn't exactly sure why, but she was strongly opposed to it. He just guessed that she had been splinched at some point.
He heard a wail from somewhere downstairs. “Harry, dear? Could you get that?” Andromeda was calling from her room next door. “I‘m trying to get dressed.” Harry left his room and rushed down the stairs to Teddy’s room on the first floor. The baby was laying in his crib, crying. As soon as he spotted Harry, Teddy stopped bawling and cooed, his eyes lightening with serenity. Though the baby’s eyes changed color from time to time, they usually settled on the same light grey that his father’s were, particularly when he was happy.
Harry reached into the crib and lifted Teddy into his arms. It had immediately become apparent to Harry that this infant was unlike any young muggle child he had ever come across. Teddy seemed to be able to communicate emotions and understanding way beyond his age level. Based on Andromeda’s lack of astonishment, Harry assumed this was natural for wizarding children.
“You hungry?” The baby giggled with joy, so he carried Teddy into the kitchen where he pulled a bottle of formula that Andromeda had prepared out of the refrigerator. He used his wand to start a fire on the stove and summoned a pan to fill with water. Harry placed the pan over the flame and left the bottle in it to heat up.
Andromeda came down the stairs wearing simple black robes. “Thank you, dear.” She smiled and reached out to take Teddy from his arms. The baby offered an almost reluctant look as he was passed to his grandmother.
“No problem, Mrs. Tonks.” Harry turned to check on the stove. “I was finished getting ready, anyway.” He pulled the bottle out of the water and rolled up his sleeve to test it on his arm. Satisfied with the temperature, he handed it to Andromeda and went to clean up the pan.
“We should be leaving soon. Leo should be over any minute to look after Teddy.” Leopold Tonks was the late Ted Sr.’s brother. While he was a muggle, he often came over to look after the baby. Leo had known that Andromeda was a witch since she had married his brother. Ted had been too close with him to keep it a secret.
As Andromeda fed the baby, there was a knock at the front door. “I’ll get that,” she said. “Could you run upstairs and fetch the broomsticks, Harry?”
When he returned with both of the brooms, Teddy was in his uncle’s arms. “She’s outside,” Leo said, “Casting charms.” After her husband and daughter’s deaths, Andromeda had been very protective of her grandson, as well as Harry. Despite the Death Eaters being imprisoned, she cast protective charms around the house every time she left. It was the only way she’d feel comfortable leaving Teddy.
Harry watched her as she waved her wand towards the trees that surrounded them, whispering incantations into the mild wind. Her previously brown curls were streaked with silver and her patrician face was becoming lined. She was looking less and less like her sister as the days of stress and mourning took their toll. However, her eyes remained soft and friendly, which Harry took as a sign of her inner strength. She had become very maternal towards him, but still treated him with the respect of an adult, which he appreciated immensely.
“Alright.” Andromeda turned her kind stare onto him. “We can head out now.” She grabbed her broomstick, which was significantly shabbier than his own. He had offered her his, but she refused to use it.
Harry straddled the Nimbus and kicked off. Mrs. Tonks handed him a traveling cloak that she had brought out with her. “Don’t want your suit to get ruined.”
“Thanks.” He accepted it and slung it over his shoulders. They kicked off at the same time.
The full ride there was spent in comfortable silence, something that they had become familiar with the past weeks. The nice thing about their relationship was what could be shared without speaking. Both had suffered kindred loss and felt the same worries. Harry had been surprised by some of the similarities between him and Andromeda, one of which was being content with quietness.
The entire time, Harry was careful to maintain the speed that Mrs. Tonks’s broom could achieve. He did not want to speed ahead at all. The hours passed effortlessly. By the time the sun was almost to the middle of the sky, they could spot the outskirts of Hogsmeade.
They landed a little up the road to the main village. The sight of the buildings in summer reminded Harry of leaving Hogwarts at the end of each school year. They trod up the path, heading towards the road that lead to the school gates.
“HARRY!” He heard a squeal from behind him and felt a pair of arms wrap tightly around him as soon as he turned around, bushy brown hair obscuring his vision.
“’Ello, ‘Ermione.” Her grasp had him struggling to make distinct consonant sounds. She loosened up and beamed towards him. She had gained some of the weight that she had lost in the previous year back. Her cheeks looked a little fuller and healthier, though some bruises and cuts remained. Behind her, a black-clad group trudged towards them.
Ron spotted him and ran ahead, waving. He, too, looked as if he had been benefiting from the nutrition of Mrs. Weasley’s meals. His orange hair had also been cut neater. “Hey, Harry,” he greeted, offering a one-armed hug. “How’ve you been?” Harry did not miss Ron snaking his arm around Hermione's waist while asking the question.
“Great. I’ve been spending most of my days fending off owls.” Harry gave a half-hearted chuckle. “Rita Skeeter’s article got me a lot of postal marriage proposals.”
“Is that so?” Ginny approached from behind Ron, her face adorning a playful smile. “Accepted any of them yet?”
Harry was taken off guard. He and Ginny hadn’t really had a chance to discuss the parameters of their relationship yet. Now that the war was over, it seemed logical that they should get back together. However, Harry was unsure about her feelings. Either way, whenever he saw her, his feelings came rushing back as always. He knew they would have to discuss it eventually, but he was dreading rejection. Harry was aware that he had let her down romantically. Nevertheless, she looked stunning in her simple black dress, the noon sun playing off her fiery hair.
“Not yet,” he joked. “I’m holding out for a Veela.” He noticed the corners of Ginny’s mouth twitch downwards slightly and felt a small surge of hope. He was also reminded of his relief that she had not been harmed at all during the fighting.
After his reunion with the Weasleys, they all headed onto the grounds of the castle. People were scattered all near the edge of the lake, where rows of chairs were set up and a small podium stood. Harry was taken back in his mind to the day of Dumbledore’s funeral. It was a little over a year ago. That was when he had ended things with Ginny. The difference now was the absence of the white tomb, which was near a different part of the lake, closer to the castle.
Harry glance towards Hogwarts itself. The stone walls were in the middle of repairs. Workers were apparently trying to restore the original glory by replicating its initial appearance. Still, he noticed the scorch marks that covered the entire exterior. He did not even want to recall what the inside was reduced to.
Other members of the Order were heading over towards him. Harry shook their hands individually. Kingsley and Elphias Doge were the first to enthusiastically greet him. They were followed by many others, including Luna and Neville. Harry resented all of their excitement. He felt as if they were constantly trying to thrust upon him some award he had not earned. He wanted them to realize that he was partly to blame for all of this pain and suffering. So many could have been spared if he had realized his purpose sooner in the battle.
Eventually, it was time to start the ceremony. Harry had wanted to be the first to speak. The funeral wasn’t going to be traditional, as the deceased had already been buried, but he had insisted on a more important ceremony. As he took his place at the podium, people finished finding seats. Harry couldn’t help but notice Rita Skeeter in a back row, dressed in lime green robes. She was apparently planning another biography, and insisted upon attending.
“Many of you may have doubts about the fact that Severus Tobias Snape was a great man. It is commonly known that he cast the curse that killed Albus Dumbledore, and that he was a close follower of Voldemort’s.” Harry was glad to see that very few people gasped of shuddered when he said this. Fear of the Dark Lord had somewhat dissipated. “To say that he was an evil man is a lie.”
“Snape grew up in a house where he was taught the value of being a Slytherin. As his deepest desires were to be sorted into there, it is only natural that he was. Being a part of that house led to interest in the dark arts. He was surrounded by people who were interested in Voldemort’s views and planned to become followers. However, Snape was set apart by something. At heart, he was a good person who was capable of fierce love for someone. That person was my mother. His compassion for her was what made him turn against Voldemort after she was killed.” Harry paused, trying to tell if anyone was looking at him skeptically.
“He came back to Dumbledore and agreed to become a spy for the Order. He vowed to help us. Snape hated Voldemort just as much as we did, if not more. Everything he did was part of Dumbledore’s plan, including the night of Dumbledore’s death. It was all a way to remain close to Voldemort while working for the Order, even if no one else was aware.”
Harry stared coldly into the seated audience. “Without Severus Snape, I would not have been able to defeat Voldemort. He was offering help the entire time, I just didn’t know it was him. He risked his life to assist me, and eventually gave it. It was because of him that I was able to do what I was meant to do. He sacrificed everything, and bravely fought a hidden battle. He should be considered a warrior in the struggle-- the Silent Hero.”
Harry stopped and there was silence. He was immediately embarrassed, wishing that he would have chosen his words to be more eloquent. He felt everybody’s stares and his face growing red. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked to speak. Glancing back at Rita Skeeter, whose quill was scribbling furiously, he decided to add something. “I’m not lying when I say that he deserves nothing more than to be honored, despite all the rumors you may hear about his past. Severus Snape was a very brave man. We are all in debt to him.”
He stepped down and headed towards a seat between Ron and Andromeda, who squeezed his arm when he sat down and whispered “that was very nice” into his ear. The next speaker was Professor Flitwick, but Harry couldn’t help but tune out as he stared across the lake.
His mind was buzzing with nervousness. He had wanted so badly to properly describe the gratitude and sympathy he had for Snape. He had spent hours over the past week going over Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, which he had taken from the Headmaster’s office with permission from Dumbledore’s portrait. Harry had built up an immense respect for Snape, but now he felt as if he had blown his chance to set things straight with the public by giving a poorly prepared speech. He hoped that people would feel a bit differently leaving that afternoon. On some level, Harry also wanted Snape to hear his words of thanks, despite their being jumbled and somewhat poorly chosen. They still had some of his meaning behind them. He imagined the wind that rippled across the surface of the lake carrying them to his old Professor, wherever he was, the hatred that had existed between them fading away into peace.
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