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Chapter 19 : Impassioned Concerns
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Severus fought to not choke of the sip of tea that he had just taken. They had just finished up another dinner at Prewett Manor and were relaxing in the sitting room. He glanced up at Alexis and saw her watching him intently as if afraid that she was over-stepping her bounds.
“Why in the world would you say that?” he asked carefully.
“Well…I admit that I am overly aware of how the rest of your recruits are doing, but I have needed to provide a retendo solution for Harry nearly every night this week. In the morning when he wakes he shuffles around like some zombie robot, so stiff that I’m afraid he’s going to end up falling down the stairs or something,” Alexis ventured.
Severus sighed and set his tea down.
“Has he been complaining that I’ve been too hard?”
“Goodness no!” she exclaimed. “I don’t think he ever would though.”
“It has hardly been a week. As you should well know, it will take some time for his muscles to become accustomed to the increased levels of exertion. I suppose I could instruct them in some proper stretching techniques to relieve some of the stiffness,” he mused. “To answer your question though…no. I do not think that I am being too hard. An auror needs to be prepared for anything that may come their way. This could include physically chasing or restraining someone or trying to hold their own in a physical altercation. They need to learn to not rely solely on magic especially if they are matched up with someone that is more knowledgeable in the dark arts then they are. Most wizards would not expect or be able to counter a physical attack making them easier to overcome than by using magic against them.”
Alexis stared at him with a shocked expression for a long moment before whispering, “Wow. I’m sorry. I guess I never thought about that.”
Severus waved her apology away and said, “No need for apologies. I must admit I did not factor how unprepared their bodies would be for such physical activity. I suppose I can alter things a bit for tomorrow’s lesson in order to allow them a bit of a reprieve.”
“Harry is lucky to have you, you know,” Alexis said softly.
Severus stiffened feeling as though the temperature in the room just dropped several degrees. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair as many images flooded into his mind that could be used to show her how wrong she was in her observation.
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” he muttered as he avoided looking at her.
“Why do you always feel the need to beat yourself up like this? Why is it so hard for you to see how much you have helped him especially in the absence of anyone else?” Alexis reached over and touched the back of his hand that was resting on the arm of the chair. “You are the one person that truly understands everything that he has been through in his life. I don’t think you understand how much he needs that right now.”
Severus stared at her handing resting lightly on top of his as he tried to fight off that familiar ache that was trying to creep into his chest. He pulled his hand free, stood up and began pacing. He knew that they were treading on dangerous ground and he needed to choose his words carefully. He had begun to truly look forward to these evenings spent with Alexis but he knew that they would not continue once the truth about his past and how much harm he had brought upon Harry.
“Severus,” she whispered. “What are you thinking? You are torturing yourself about something and I can feel how much it hurts you.”
Anger flared up inside him. “Stay out of my head,” He growled. “You would never understand the truth about what I have done to that boy. It is not my fault that he has latched onto me in this ridiculous way. If he knew what was good for him he would learn from the past instead of having some kind of sadistic persecution complex!”
“I’ll never understand anything if you continue to shut everyone out! If you want to continue to play the poor pathetic little victim then by all means go ahead,” she countered angrily. “But ‘that boy’, as you so eloquently described him, has been through hell and back already in his life and for whatever reason has placed his trust in you to help guide him through the worst of it. If you fail to recognize how much he depends on you and he sees through this little act that you are putting on, you will damage him beyond repair!”
Feeling stung, he glared at her dangerously. “Do you really want to know why I am able to understand everything he has been through? Why I know more than most what he is going through?” Snape stepped closer to her trying to ignore the warning bells going off in his head. “The reason that his parents are dead and he grew up alone…is because I was the one who set Voldemort after them. I was the one who overheard the prophesy about him defeating the Dark Lord and was more than delighted to be the one to reveal the contents of it to him in hopes that I would be amply rewarded.”
The shock on Alexis’s face was more than evident and instantly Severus regretted his words. He knew however that it was too late to take back the words and he supposed that she would have found out anyway.
“What he is not telling you,” said a quiet voice from the doorway, “is that as soon as he found out who Voldemort was intending to go after, he turned on him and sought help from Dumbledore, and then becoming a spy for the Order and placing himself hugely at risk from retribution.”
Severus spun around to see a sleepy looking Harry leaning against the door holding a cup of tea. He hadn’t even heard him approaching and now began feeling even more horrible for his outburst.
“Harry, I’m so sorry,” Alexis began.
“Sorry for what? For arguing about me or are you trying to apologize for the things that Professor Snape has done?” Harry said with an edge to his voice. “I know about the things that he has done and I know the reasons that he did them. It’s true that I hated him for what he had done, but have since been able to forgive him as I realized that Dumbledore had been right about love being stronger than hate.”
“Hmpf, Nice to see that you have inherited his art of subtlety as well as his idealistic delusions of the power of silly emotions,” Severus huffed. “Shouldn’t you be getting some rest? Despite Lexi’s attempts to persuade me to ease up on you guys, I should still expect for you to be well rested and ready to go in the morning.”
Alexis stood staring at the two of them in confused amazement obviously trying to understand what was going on between them. With a visible shake of her head and shrug of her shoulder she gave up.
“I thought you had already gone up to bed,” she said quietly.
Harry shrugged and said, “I did, but then I had a nightmare and decided to come down and get a cup of that tea you had told me about.”
Alexis frowned and stepped closer to Harry. “Still? I thought the nightmares had stopped.”
“No,” Harry mumbled. “Not really. They just kind of changed.”
“Changed how?” Snape inquired quietly.
Without looking up, Harry sighed and said, “The dreams I had right after the battle were just me remembering the things that had happened. The dream I have been having lately is not anything that happened before.”
“What is happening in this new dream?” Alexis said softly as she moved to stand next to him.
“I – I don’t really know. There is this house that’s on fire and somehow I know that there is someone sleeping upstairs. I keep trying to find a way to get up the stairs to get the person out of the house, but the fire is spreading too quickly and blocks my way. I keep shouting to try to try to wake up the person, but it doesn’t work,” he finished miserably.
“Do you recognize the house? Or know who the person is?” Alexis asked.
Harry shook his head. Severus could tell that there was something that he wasn’t saying, but was withholding for some reason. Before he could interrogate him further, however, Harry spoke up changing the subject.
“Do you two fight about me a lot or did I do something to upset you guys?”
Ignoring the glare that Alexis shot him, Severus said tiredly, “Believe it or not, we weren’t fighting about you. I believe it would be more accurate to say that you were being used as a sort of pawn in order to gain leverage against each other.”
“Ah,” Harry responded with a yawn. “That clears it up. Well then…don’t let me interfere any further. Carry on.”
As Harry walked from the room, Severus felt Alexis’s eyes fall upon him once more. Feeling more tired than he remembered feeling previous to beginning the discussion.
“As much as I hate that he had to be brought into all of this, I must admit that he proved my point,” Alexis said wryly.
Fighting back a retort, Severus turned and stared at her. “What in Merlin’s name do you mean by that?”
“Only that the one person that would have ever right to hate you and blame you for the things that you are punishing yourself for. If he can see past the things you have done, then why can’t you?” she said.
“You will never understand,” he said as he turned and stalked out of the door. He suddenly felt as though he were being suffocated. He needed to get some fresh air.
He heard her following behind him and was vaguely aware of her calling his name, but he couldn’t answer her. How was he ever supposed to get her to understand the depth of what his betrayal cost him? How could this woman ever understand the depth of the pain that he had been carrying for so long? How was she ever to know just how much guilt he struggled with whenever he witnessed the behaviors of Lily’s son mimicking her own so perfectly? How was she supposed to understand that no matter what he did to try to help the son of the woman he lost to the man he hated, it would never erase the true reason that the boy suffered without a family that loved and cared for him? How was she supposed to understand that he wasn’t the person that should be here that it wasn’t fair for everyone to expect so much from him?
He continued walking outside and down the drive to the point that he knew he would be outside of the protective barriers that surrounded the manor. Alexis had finally stopped following him, and a very small nagging voice in the back of his mind kept insisting that he should go back and apologize to her, but before he could give in to that voice he turned on the spot with a pop leaving the night air disturbingly quiet in it’s wake.
Harry was unsure of what had happened the night before between Alexis and Snape, but he knew that things must have escalated further after he had gone off to bed. When he had woken up and went down to breakfast he had found Alexis drinking her morning coffee in the front sitting room instead of the dining room which had become customary.
He had tried talking with her, but found her to be irritable and distant so he quickly abandoned that idea and ate his breakfast alone. As he ate he could not shake the intensifying guilt that was creeping up on him. Despite the vague reassurances he was given last night, he could not shake the feeling that whatever the conflict was between Snape and Alexis it was somehow his fault.
This feeling only got worse when he arrived at training that morning. True to his word, Snape seemed to be taking it easier on them physically, taking a good amount of time to go over some stretching exercises with them and began reviewing some basic physical restraining techniques with them. When they were paired up to practice the holds, their professor’s impatience and irritability was most evident as he snipped and snapped at each of them for some minor error in their techniques.
By the time that training was over Harry felt the weight of both of their irritations weighing him down. He was feeling irritable himself, but had tried to push that aside as him & Ron made their way to Hogsmeade to meet Hermione & Ginny at the Three Broomsticks.
He forced a smile onto his face as he walked in and sat down at the table next to Ginny and ordered a butterbeer.
“You guys look like you’ve been beaten up! What has Professor Snape been doing to you guys?” Hermione said with a laugh as Ron laid his head on the table with a groan.
“It hasn’t been too bad,” Harry remarked.
“Speak for yourself,” Ron grumbled. “I could barely even get out of bed this morning I hurt so much.”
“It’ll get easier when your muscles adjust,” Harry assured him. “I’m sure that it will eventually come it handy. Snape has made some pretty good points in saying that we may come across someone that we can’t touch with magic or even need to overpower in the event that we find ourselves without a wand."
“Well…I think that it’s genius,” Hermione proclaimed. “A perfect way to keep healthy. Especially you, Ron. I honestly can’t believe that you aren’t a couple hundred pounds heavier with the way you eat.”
Ginny giggled and Harry could not help but marvel at how musical her laugh was. He had really missed her all those months that he had been on the run. Sitting here next to her close enough to be able to smell her subtle perfume, feel her arm brush against his as she moved and hearing her laughter almost felt like it was too good to be true. Without thinking he reached over to where her hand rested on the seat next to him and held it tenderly in his hand under the table.
She turned to look at his and her saw the surprise in her eyes. For several moments he was afraid that she was going to pull her hand away, but was relieved when she smiled warmly at him and squeezed it. He tried to contain the almost overwhelming feeling of happiness he felt as he turned his attentions back to Hermione who had just said that she had something that she needed to discuss with everyone.
“When I went to retrieve my parents from Australia and I removed the memory alteration charm that I had placed on them, I stumbled upon something I didn’t expect,” Hermione began. After taking a deep breath she said, “I apparently removed more than the charm that I had placed on them. Someone had tried to change their memories long before I did in an attempt to cover up that I had been adopted.”
Harry felt like someone had slapped him. Hermione adopted? That was not something that he would have ever guessed. He looked across the table and saw that Ron was almost as shocked as he was.
“So who are your real parents?” Ron stuttered.
“She doesn’t know,” Ginny cut in to give her friend a moment. “Her and I did some searching at several different muggle agencies, but found nothing. Of course that doesn’t really mean much of anything since I’d be willing to bet that if a memory charm was placed on Mr. & Mrs. Granger, than one would have most likely been placed on any one else involved as well. Especially if it was all done at a muggle agency.”
“Well, since you know how to reverse the charm couldn’t you just try to use it on the muggles at the adoption places?” Ron suggested helpfully.
“That would be ideal,” Hermione began, “if only we knew which agency was responsible for the adoption. That’s if an agency was even used at all.”
Ginny grimaced. “According to dad, the use of magic on unsuspecting muggles like this would most likely mean that things were done illegally without any knowledge of the ministry. And it seems as though they were pretty thorough since they forged her birth certificate and even her muggle medical records.”
“Yea. According to every piece of documentation that we were able to find, I was born naturally to the woman that has called me her daughter her whole life, spent three days in the nursery at the hospital and was released with my parents as healthy and happy as can be. The problem is, none of it really happened,” Hermione said sadly.
“Mrs. Granger told us that she knew when she married her husband that they could never have a child thanks to a childhood illness that she had barely recovered from and that they had planned to adopt a child all along,” Ginny supplied. “We are supposed to meet with Kingsley on Monday who said that he may be able to pull some stings and help us look, but I sorta got the impression that he was just trying to be nice.”
“Wow, Hermione,” Harry said to his friend. “I’m so sorry about all of this. Are you doing okay with it all?”
She nodded. “I am now. I was pretty upset about it, but I know that despite it all my parents, the ones who raised me, will always be my parents. I’m not going to stop looking for my birth parents, though, if for no other reason at this point than to just try to get to the bottom of all of this,” she said with a determined tone.
As the friends all chimed in to pledge their support to help Hermione in anyway possible and the topic changed, Harry found himself unable to focus on the flow of conversation. His lack of sleep the night before, combined with the warmth of the butterbeer in his belly and his contented state at being able to hold the hand of the girl he had spent months dreaming about, resulted in him drifting off to a happy sleep right there at the table.
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