Chapter 12 : Literary Discoveries
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When Snape apparated onto the front porch of Prewett Manor he was quite surprised to see Harry and Ginny Weasley huddled together in the rain soaked gazebo laughing together. Alexis had asked him to arrive early for the staff meeting because she was concerned about Harry. Looking at the two of them now, however, he did not see much that would be worthy of concern.
He turned and looked over his shoulder as Alexis came out of the front door to join him on the porch.
“Well, I’ll be,” she muttered quietly.
“Indeed,” he replied quietly. “It appears to me that he is coping just fine. Not at all the pitiful creature that you had described.”
“This is most certainly not the person that I have seen myself the past two weeks. I’m afraid that the credit for this one, must be given to the girl,” she said softly.
“Ah,” he remarked with a small grin. “Well it seems as though Pot— er…Harry is in capable hands with Ms Weasley. Unlike most of the ridiculous young witches that I have encountered at the school, she seems to have a rather good head on her shoulders.”
Alexis smiled and gestured for Snape to come inside. They were greeted by Trixie who was carrying a tray with drinks for her and Snape. She lead the way into the front sitting room where they both say in silence for a few moment sipping at their whiskey.
“What was it about the boy that had you so worried prior to Ms. Weasley’s visit?” Snape asked.
“I’m not really sure actually,” she began with a shrug. “He has just been harboring some very negative and downright depressing moods since he had moved in. I would have simply attributed to his grief about everything thing that has happened, except for the increasing anxiety that surfaced since the incident in Diagon Alley. Now every time I even hint at him going out or leaving the grounds in any way he completely panics. He tries not to let it show, but I can always feel it.”
“Hmm. I did read about that mess with the goblins. I suppose I can chat with Shacklebolt and see what can be done about that for him. Minerva told you that he would be attending the meeting today, right?” Snape inquired.
Alexis nodded. “I wonder if that’ll be enough for him. Sure that may help with the goblin issue, but I think the bigger problem was the mob of people that confronted him as soon as he arrived in Diagon Alley. I saw a bit of the craziness when he came to visit you at St Mungo’s. It is not likely that these people are going to let up any time soon, especially if he remains in hiding. He needs to learn to adjust and get used to it all. Eventually people will lose interest in him, but he can’t lock himself away until then.”
Snape sighed. “I’m guessing that you are expecting me to do something about this?”
Alexis shot him an annoyed look. “I was hoping that maybe if you ventured out with him that you could not only help keep the crowd away, but help him feel safer going out.”
“You cannot honestly expect me to believe that Harry is afraid of these people. He defeated the most evil dark wizard in this century surely he can handle his adoring fans,” he scoffed.
“Ugh. Why do you have to be so difficult? Honestly. Just forget I even said anything,” she said exasperatedly.
Snape was about to respond when the house echoed with the sound of the doorbell. Without another word, Alexis hurried out of the room. Snape stared after her feeling irritated. He simply did not understand why Alexis felt as though it was his job to play bodyguard for the boy. Harry has never needed anyone to hold his hand as he faced any of his tougher and exceedingly more dangerous challenges. Why would he need someone now to take him on outings like he was a school boy?
He wandered out into the foyer where he found Alexis standing with Harry, Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Irma Pince, the Hogwart’s librarian.
“It is so nice to meet you m’am. It was so nice of you to allow Harry to stay here with you,” Ginny was saying. “My mother wanted to insist that he stay with us, but I think he’s much better off here without the craziness that always surrounds our house now that George, Percy and Charlie have moved back in. They swear it is only temporary, but I think mom will try to keep them there as long as she can.”
“It is all my pleasure,” Alexis said. “I can’t tell you how nice it is to have someone here with me in this old place.”
“Hello Professor Snape,” Hermione said hesitantly.
Snape nodded at her. “You were able to locate your parents, I’d take it?”
“Oh…yes, sir,” she replied somewhat surprised. “The charm was more easily reversed than I had feared actually.”
“I had no doubts that you would be able to master it,” he said off-handed. He turned his attentions towards Ginny and Ron. “I am sorry to have heard about your brother. Please pass along my condolences to your parents for me.”
Ron had made no attempt to hide the shocked look from his face, but it was Ginny that responded to him.
“Of course, sir. I hope that you are feeling better yourself, sir?” she stated simply.
“Quite well now thank you,” he said with a glance at Alexis.
Pointedly ignoring looking at Snape, Alexis said, “Well Irma, may I show you the library?”
Madam Pince nodded enthusiastically as Hermione spoke up, “The library?”
“Oh yes,” Alexis replied. “Unfortunately the library at Hogwarts took a great bit of damage during the battle and some books were just too far beyond repair. So I offered to let Irma take a look through the library here and see if there were any books that might be able to replace the ruined ones. My father was big on collecting books and quite honestly I am not much of a reader. They would get much more use at the school.”
“That’s terrible,” Hermione said with a look of horror. “I mean, about the books being damaged and all,” she corrected quickly. “Do you mind if I have a look at your library as well? I absolutely love to read.”
“Uh-oh,” Ron mumbled under his breath.
“Sure,” Alexis said with a smile. ‘It’s just along this way.”
Alexis lead the way down the corridor and the group of them followed her along. Snape took up the rear walking with Ron and Harry.
“Sorry, mate,” Harry said to Ron. “I didn’t know that the library would be on the tour. I haven’t even found it myself yet.”
“Is there a problem with visiting the library?” Snape asked.
“Oh…uh…Not really a problem, I guess. As long as we don’t plan on seeing Hermione for a couple days,” Ron replied solemnly.
Snape hid a smirk. “I wonder why the sorting hat did not place you into Ravenclaw, Ms. Granger. You constant search for increasing your knowledge bank is not something commonly seen in your typical Gryffindor.”
“Oh...um…thank you, sir. I think,” Hermione mumbled. “Actually sir, the hat considered putting me in Ravenclaw and I almost became a hatstall. I am not sure what the deciding factor was, but I can’t say that I am sorry. I am quick glad to be a Gryffindor,” he finished proudly.
“If only just because she enjoys making the rest of look even dumber in comparison,” Ron whispered to Harry.
When the entered into the library even Snape was impressed with the size of the room and the impressive collection of books. The room easily rivaled the size of the school library, except for how incredibly tall the room was. Books were filed away on shelves that stood two stories high accessed by tall ladders on wheels. There were rows upon rows of shelves off to both the left and right of the entrance. In the center of the room were several overstuffed chairs positioned in front of a massive fireplace. The walls that were not covered in bookshelves were smartly decorated with expertly done paintings and portraits. The whole place had a very warm and relaxing feel to it.
“This is incredible,” Hermione whispered.
Alexis smiled. “Help yourselves. I’m afraid I have no idea how they are organized, but I’ sure you guys can figure it out.”
She made her way over to the chairs followed by Ginny who apparently had no desire to explore the library. Harry and Ron followed a mesmerized Hermione and Madame Pince made a beeline for the oldest looking books in the collection.
Snape found himself to be somewhat curious and began quietly inspecting the shelves. He was delighted to find that there were a great many books that he was familiar with including several potion books that he had thought were no longer available anywhere. He made a mental note to ask Alexis if he could borrow one or two as he continued along through the room.
As he made his way along the shelves he was somewhat startled when he collided with Harry who was standing looking mortified staring at a large tapestry on the wall. Snape looked at the tapestry which appeared to be a family genealogy and he saw nothing significant that would warrant the look of fear on the boy’s face.
“Harry?” Snape asked hesitantly.
“This is a copy of the one that Sirius had at Grimmauld Place. Is Alexis related to Sirius?” Harry whispered.
“I have no idea. Does it matter if she is?” Snape asked.
“No.I guess not. I guess I was just surprised to see this here,” Harry said slowly. ”Even more surprised to see Sirius’s name on it. His mother had taken his name off of the one at their house,” he said as he reached up and touched the name of his deceased godfather.
“If you are looking for me on there you won’t find me,” a voice from behind them said bitterly.
Alexis glared at the faded tapestry in disgust. She knew that everyone was waiting for some kind of an explanation, but she wasn’t sure that she felt ready to give one. What if everyone rejected her once they found out the truth of who she was? She glanced at Snape who was giving her a curious look.
“My birth parents were Lucretia Black and Ignatius Prewett. Their marriage was an arranged one, but I believe that my father did love my mother. Whether she ever returned the feelings I’ll never know,” she said with a sigh. ”My mother’s pregnancy with a difficult one that almost took her life and I was born three months premature. I was a weak sickly child and by the time I had turned three my mother had been convinced that I was a squib. She was fearful that her family would disown her if they knew that she had given birth to a squib, so she convinced my father to give me up. Then they simply told everyone that I had died. Since I had been so sick it hadn’t been hard to convince everyone. It was assumed that my mother had been so distraught by it all that no one ever brought the subject up to her. She never was able to have any more children.”
“Where did you go?” Harry asked.
“Well I was actually placed with a couple who couldn’t have children. My adopted father, Kevin, was a muggle that worked with the royal guard in London and my mother, Angela was a squib. They were pleasant decent folks, but when I started exhibiting proof that I was not a squib things got rough with them. They both were deeply embedded in the muggle world with muggle jobs and friends and it became difficult at times to hide or explain me or things that would happen to me to everyone,” she said sadly. “They never complained of course, I just felt like I was more of a burden to them than the blessing that they had been hoping for in a child. This was part of the reason that I headed to The States after Hogwart’s. They were disappointed of course, but I think they understood. They passed away shortly after I left. Kevin went first from a heart attack, and then Angela a couple years later from natural causes. Or that’s what I had been told.”
“What brought you back here?” Ginny asked startling her. She hadn’t realized that Ginny, her brother and Hermione had been standing behind her listening.
“Heh. Albus Dumbledore asked for me to come last year. He had said that things were getting bad here again and that my services would be needed. He had suggested that I take the place of a muggle-born healer for safety’s sake. She was sent to take my place and I came here. I was due to go back as soon as I was no longer needed here, but the hospital I used to work for decided that they wanted to keep her on. Since St Mungo’s no longer needed me, I was forced to find another job. With Madam Pomfrey retiring Minerva McGonagall sought my out to ask if I would be her replacement. Which funny enough, I think was Dumbledore’s original plan although that part is just a hunch,” she finished meekly.
Everyone was quiet for a moment until Ron piped up, “If you were adopted, how did you end up with this place?”
“When my mother and father had died they had not made arrangements for who they had wanted to inherit their possessions. So since I was the closest living relative everything was left to me. I’d like to think that my father had done that on purpose. He had contacted me shortly after I had started at Hogwart’s, I guess because he felt guilty or something. I don’t know,” she stated with a sigh. “Anyway…after they both had died I had been sent a notification from the ministry that I was the only remaining heir to their fortune and their house. I had actually planned on selling the house before Dumbledore had contacted me.”
Alexis wanted to melt into the floor to get away from everyone staring at her. She knew that she didn’t belong here and she could only imagine how it all must look to everyone. She had never been wanted by her parents and her living in their house now much seem like such a desperate plea for acceptance from the world that had rejected her for so long. She stared at the ground trying to avoid their gazes.
“I’m so sorry,” Ginny said as she stepped to Alexis side. “No wonder you didn’t not want to come back here. I can’t imagine how hard that all must have been for you. My mother always spoke so fondly of your father, but I am certain her opinion of him would change knowing this.” She continued shaking her head. “She would be your cousin, you know. I know that she would love to meet you.”
Alexis stared at Ginny in disbelief. “Why would she want to meet me? I was disowned by my family.”
“No,” Ginny spat back firmly. “You may have been disowned by your parents, but not the rest of your family. No one else even knew that you existed.” Her eyes grew misty. “There is so few family left nowadays, we all must stick together.”
Alexis nodded, mainly to appease the girl. She was young. She didn’t yet understand how these pureblood families worked. Being shunned by your own parents was as good of a sign to the rest of the wizarding world that a person was bad news. No pureblood family would want to associate with an outcast like her for fear of becoming ousted themselves.
She turned and walked away from everyone as she felt her eyes beginning to fill up with tears. She knew that coming here was a bad idea. She had been foolish to think that she would be able to hide the truth about herself from everyone. It wasn’t going to be long before she would be pushed to the edge of society and be forced to find a new place to hide away.
The sound of the doorbell broke through her thoughts.
“That should be Minerva. I’ll leave you all to your exploring. Excuse me, please,” she said as she headed towards the doors of the library.
When she reached the hallway, however, she found herself unable to stop the tears from falling. She struggled to wipe them away as they continued to fall even faster. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the wall of the hallway. She was so absorbed in trying to control her emotions that the gentle hand that squeezed her shoulder caused her to let a small shriek escape.
“Alexis,” Snape said softly as she lifted her eyes to meet his dark concerned ones. “Why don’t you let me greet Minerva while you…uh…take a moment to compose yourself. I believe that she was planning on arriving with the minister and I have some things to discuss with him before the others arrive.”
She stared at him for a moment before nodding and saying, “Thank you. I will try to be quick.”
“Take your time. There is quite a lot that to discuss with him,” Snape said.
He walked away down the hall, but paused and turned to look at her when he reached the corner leading out to the foyer, “Oh…and Alexis? If you would like, Harry and I can accompany you when you go and meet with the Weasley family. I hear that Molly is a fairly decent cook, and I’m sure it would be easier for both Harry and I to handle his adoring public on a full stomach.”
Without waiting for a reply he turned the corner and was quickly out of sight leaving Alexis confused and somewhat amazed. Did he just change his mind and agree to help Harry?
She shook her head and headed off towards her bedroom to freshen up. She was becoming more certain that this infuriating man was truly going to give her a permanent headache if she continued trying to figure him out.
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