Chapter 10 : Unexpected Answers
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The image of Severus kneeling next to Harry holding the cloak awkwardly around his shoulders as he tried to compose himself was one that was sure to stay with her for quite a long time. She almost might have found it humorous if not for the absolute seriousness of the situation.
The panic that had been on Severus’s face as Harry clung to him desperately trying to regain control to himself was obvious even to the most casual observer. He had not, however, let his discomfort interfere with doing what had needed to be done to calm Harry, bring him inside and up to his office and encourage him to attempt to explain to Alexis what had been happening to him.
Luckily, she had been able to give Harry some tentative answers for what was going on with him. While she had never actually met anyone with similar problems she had read about the phenomenon before.
It was a condition called assimilated flashbacks. As far as she could reason, Harry’s willingness to die for all those that had been fighting with him and his extreme desire to protect the school from further harm had created an emotional and almost psychic connection to the castle. This in turn made him incredibly sensitive to the highly emotional last moments of those that had died. It was something, however, that was not usually experienced by your average witch or wizard. It was usually something that almost exclusively reported to have happened to seerers, but Alexis reasoned that Harry’s situation had been far from ordinary which could have contributed to the incidents.
Harry had seemed adequately relieved by the information, but had seemed concerned about how to make the episodes stop, other than just avoiding the castle completely. She had assured him that there were spells that could be cast to ward off energies like these and she promised him that she would look into it and get back to him.
It hadn’t been until Harry had excused himself to retire for the night that Alexis expressed her concerns to Severus.
“I am not sure how exactly we could go about trying to cast these spells over all of these spots and know for certain that we would be able to find all of them. There has been far too much death and destruction here that he may end up finding them for many years to come if he continued to frequent the school. The only other option would be to cast the spell over the entire castle and I do not know anyone with that must power,” she had said.
“I will speak to the freemasons. They have access to spells that have been passed down to them that may be able to alleviate the problem. It is even entirely possible that the ancient protection spells that they cast over each individual break prior to being placed will eliminate the issue all together,” he had supplied.
They had sat in an awkward silence for several long minutes before Alexis asked quietly, “Why does Harry need help finding a place to live?”
“I am not entirely familiar with all of the details, but I was told that his aunt and uncle with whom he had been placed after his parents had died, were cruel to him growing up. They reportedly hated anything to do with him, his parents or most especially the magical world. I believe he still took the trouble to send them away into hiding for protection in case Voldemort were to try to use them to try to get at Harry. He had inherited a residence from his godfather, but the place had since been destroyed by some ministry goons last year. So he is essentially homeless once again although this time he is of age and does not require the need of a guardian like when he had been forced upon his aunt and uncle,” Severus said.
“So you are just going to find him an apartment or something for him to just live by himself?” she asked with a hint of surprise.
“He is an adult now. Surely you do not believe that the brave hero of the world requires a parental figure to provide supervision do you?” he replied with a sneer.
Alexis glared at him. “Of course not. I am merely concerned about how you are expecting him to be able to afford the expenses that are required in buying or renting a place of his own. I am assuming that he will be heading off to some apprenticeship or internship for several years and there are very few that actually provide an income during those training periods.”
She had known immediately that this concept was not one that had previously crossed his mind by the dismayed look on his face.
He sighed in defeat. “I must admit that I had not considered that. This issue of his financial situation has not, that I am aware of, been an object of concern for him thus far.”
“If I may…I believe that I could have a solution to this problem,” she had said timidly. She had waited for him to look up at her before proceeding, “I have been…eh…fortunate enough to have inherited my family home upon their deaths. The home is far too large for me alone and seeing as I will be spending the school year here, it would be a perfect place for him. Even if he did not wish to live in the house, there is a rather large guest house and a house that our groundskeeper used to occupy. Both places are located on the property and are fully equipped to be completely independent of the manor if desired.”
Snape had admitted that this sounded like it was most likely the best idea available and had agreed to bring Harry by the house in the morning.
Alexis sank down at the head of the massive dining table as the house-elf Trixie, brought her out a steaming bowl of potato soup.
“Thank you, Trixie. May I ask for you and Trigger to go and check on the guest house and Mr. Brenner’s old place? We may have someone that may be staying with us for a bit who may feel more comfortable in his own place rather than here with us in the manor,” Alexis said.
The elf bowed. “Of course Misses. We will be happies to have guests stay with us.” She bowed again and hurried away.
She didn’t think that she ever get used to giving orders to the house-elves. She had immediately upon returning, considered setting them free. When she had presented the idea to them, however, they became completely hysterical and pleaded with her to allow them to stay. They had assumed that they had done something horribly wrong or had offended her in some way. She could only assume that their terrified reaction was largely due to how her mother had most likely treated them.
She had only very vague memories from the earliest years of her life, but she did have a very clear mental image of her mother kicking one of their elves clear across the room for what had likely been some trivial issue or error. In those early days there had been at least a dozen house-elves employed at the Prewett Manor. While a majority of them had worked in the kitchen there had been several that had worked upstairs maintaining the house and attending to the family. Trixie had been exclusively assigned to then to her mother’s needs, while Trigger had been the valet/butler for the house. Where the rest had gone over the years, Alexis had no knowledge of. She had actually been astonished that even these two had still been keeping the house up after so many years of the house being vacant.
She finished up her soup and headed up to the bedroom that she had claimed as hers. It was the largest of rooms, which had at one time been her parent’s room. While she would not have generally preferred to occupy the same room as the very people that had spent their entire lives ignoring her existence in the world, this had been the room that had needed the least amount of cleaning and preparing when she had arrived. Since the room was so large she often used it as a sitting room as well. The manor was such a big place that she felt completely dwarfed being all alone. So she had been spending what little free time she had been given when working at the hospital reading in her room. She supposed that she was going to have to work on investigating the rest of the rooms and get them into a hospitable condition since she would not be returning to The States for some time.
As she climbed into bed and snuggled down under the covers she was startled to realize that she wasn’t as upset about staying in the country as she had been earlier this morning. Perhaps it was because she was feeling pretty good about being able to help Harry with his housing problem. A nagging voice in her mind however, that she was trying desperately to ignore, was asking her if her change of heart about the change in her employment could possibly be due to a desire to have some time to get to know a particular mystery man from her past.
When Harry woke up the following morning he felt like he was more than ready to tackle his problem with his living situation. After talking with Alexis the night before about his episodes, he felt considerably better. While seeing and hearing how the people he cared most had died was still pretty disturbing, at least he could feel better about what was happening and why. He had begun thinking that he had been going completely insane.
He hurried to eat the breakfast that Kreacher had brought him and then headed down to meet Snape in his office. He knocked on the open door and walked in to find Snape drinking a cup of tea and reading an old looking book.
“Come on it,” Snape said. “Tea?”
Harry shrugged. “Sure.”
Snape poured Harry a cup and asked as he sat down, “Feeling better this morning?”
“A bit sir,” he said cautiously. He began to feel a bit embarrassed by the events from the night before.
Snape just nodded and sipped his tea. Harry got the impression that there was more that he wanted to say, but was holding back for some unknown reason. He grabbed his own tea and took a small sip while he waited to hear what Snape was not saying.
As they both sipped quietly at their tea Harry noticed Snape kept opening his mouth as if to speak before shaking his head and closing it again. Finally Harry gave it and broke the silence.
“Is everything okay Professor?”
Snape sighed and said, “Yes. There something I wish to discuss with you before we get to your living arrangements.”
Harry could tell that Snape was not feeling very comfortable with whatever it was that needed to be said which was beginning to make him feel very nervous.
“When I was attacked, there had been a moment, though I am unsure for how long, that I was truly dead. I had found myself beyond the veil,” he said very softly. “I had been sure that I had reached my end. But I was told that my time was not up. That I was still needed in this life. At the time I didn’t understand or believe it. All I had wanted was to stay right where I was.”
Harry took a moment and realized that he must have been beyond the veil as well when he had seen Professor Dumbledore. “Did you see Dumbledore too?”
“What? Too? Whatever do you mean?” he spat.
“Oh…well…when Voldemort hit me with the Avada Kedavra, suddenly I felt like I was in King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore. We talked for a bit before he told me that I should go back,” Harry explained quietly.
Snape look confused for a moment but said, “I see. But no. I did not speak with Professor Dumbledore. Who it was that spoke with me is not your concern. The point I was trying to make was that now I am back I am glad that I am here. Naturally I mourn those that could not be here with us, but that does not mean that I should feel ashamed that I survived. And neither should you. I am most certain that Remus, Tonks, Mr. Weasley, Black and most especially…your mother, are all more than grateful that you survived. The best way to honor them would be to get on living your life appreciating all of the things that you have before you. I know that I am grateful for the second chance that I was given. And of course to you an Aberforth for discovering me.”
Harry looked away from him. He did not think that he should feel anything but contempt towards him for leaving him there to die.
“You don’t have to feel grateful to me, sir. I did nothing to help you at all. I left you there to die while I ran away to save myself,” Harry mumbled.
Snape sighed heavily as he closed his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose. He looked like he was angry and Harry began to regret his comment. He was about to apologize when Snape began speaking again.
“I cannot begin to understand you constant need to take responsibility for the burdens and issues of everyone around you. While I truly believe that you have nothing but honorable and noble intentions, I am certain that you will end up aging well beyond your time if you don’t end up crushing yourself from the weight of the undue stress of it all.” He paused to look at Harry, sighed again and continued to speak,” I do not blame you for what happened, Harry. Your priority at the time was to get to Voldemort. There is no way that you could have known that I even had a chance of surviving. Even I did not know that. But if you hadn’t sought him out, Aberforth would never have followed you and found me. It all goes back to the old adage, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ Does any of this make any sense to you?” he finished in a huff.
“Yes sir,” Harry responded quickly. He could see how uncomfortable Snape was with this entire conversation and he himself was more than ready to close this topic. “Thank you, sir,” he added as a quick after thought.
Snape nodded and looked quite relieved. Harry could not help but be surprised by the complete change in personality and character that Snape had shown since he had been attacked. Was it possible that his whole hatred of him through the years had been nothing but a ruse? It certainly had seemed real enough all those years.
“Professor…Why are you being so nice to me now?” he blurted out before he lost his nerve.
Shock registered on Snape’s face at his bluntness and for a moment Harry feared he had gone too far. But Snape just shook his head and said, “Merlin only knows. But if I were you I wouldn’t get used to it,” he sneered. “It is entirely possible that I may remember what it was that used to irritate me so much about you and decide that I have a lot of making up for from this week or so.”
“Fair enough,” Harry replied working hard to conceal a small smile as Snape turned the conversation to the topic that had inspired this meeting…a place for Harry to live.
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