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Chapter 18 : Secrets From The Past
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Harry went to the hospital wing the first thing after breakfast on Saturday. He wanted to check on Jacinta. He didn’t know what it was, but something about that girl seemed to draw his attention, as if she needed his help. Madam Pomfrey was just cleaning up the remains of Jacinta’s breakfast when Harry walked in. “Good morning, Mr Potter. I had a feeling I would see you this morning.” she said approvingly. Apparently, she had hoped Harry would stop by to see Jacinta, as the first year girl didn’t seem to have many friends.
Harry smiled weakly and sat down next to Jacinta’s bed. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’m fine.” She smiled at him. “Madam Pomfrey healed me in a heartbeat, I was just very tired.”
Harry gave her a piercing look. “I expect you don’t want to talk about it?” She shook her head. “Jacinta, I understand that you don’t want to talk about it, I really do, but this was not innocent. Next time you could get really hurt…”
“There won’t be a next time.” Jacinta said. “He... There won’t be a next time.” she resolved a bit ineptly.
Harry nodded sadly and took her hand. “I know you really don’t know me that well, but you can always tell me everything, alright?” he said. “Even when you think it is stupid or not worth mentioning, I still want to hear it, got it?”
Jacinta seemed to cheer up as he said that. “You mean like a friend?" she asked, almost disbelievingly.
Harry was struck by the fact that she was so happy someone would want to be her friend. He was oddly reminded of himself when he was a first-year. He had been an outcast himself and had been just as surprised when Ron and Hermione wanted to be friends with him after ten years of being bullied and being ruled out by Dudley and his friends. Had this girl gone through the same miserable childhood he had?
“Yes.” he said. “Exactly like a friend.” He squeezed her hand and said goodbye as he returned to Gryffindor Tower to look for Ginny. Madam Pomfrey had tears in her eyes when she saw her most frequent patient leave her hospital wing.
In the afternoon, Harry stopped by Dumbledore’s office. He wanted to hear what he thought about the incident with Jacinta and if he shared his suspicions about Malfoy.
“Harry, how are you this afternoon?”
“Fine, sir.” Harry said shortly.
“Sit down.” Dumbledore said gesturing to the chair in front of his desk. “I am quite certain you are here concerning the regrettable incident of yesterday evening.”
“Yes I am.”
“Madam Pomfrey has told me everything this morning.” Dumbledore said before Harry could elaborate. “She also told me about your concerns about Mr Malfoy.”
Harry merely nodded.
“I must admit that the first name that popped into my head was also the one of Draco Malfoy.” Dumbledore said. “But we cannot proof anything, Harry. It would not be right to judge people by looking at their family. Jacinta Malfoy is the best example of that. Her parents are not very nice people to say at the least,” Harry snorted, “but personally I think Miss Malfoy is an engaging child.”
“I understand that, Professor, but she’s an eleven year old girl.” Harry said. “She shouldn’t go through this. And what if it happens again?”
Dumbledore nodded sadly. “I know, Harry. And if I had one tiny bit of proof that Jacinta has ever been assaulted by any member of her family, I would have her pulled away from there immediately. Unfortunately there is not, so there is nothing I can do at the moment.”
Harry nodded unwillingly and said goodbye to his headmaster.
The following Monday evening, Harry had his much dreaded first Occlumency lesson with Snape. Although Dumbledore had said he was sure Snape could push aside his schoolboy grudge for his father, Harry was pretty sure Snape wouldn’t act anything else than usual. And he was not disappointed.
“Stand up, Potter.”
Snape had attacked Harry’s mind three times and it had every time ended with Harry falling to his knees in agony.
Snape looked at him hatefully as Harry pulled himself of the floor. “You are not even trying to block your mind, I can see right through it!”
“You haven’t even said what I should do!”
“Manners, Potter.” Snape sneered. “Prepare yourself. Legilimens!”
Hagrid was showing Harry the dragons before the First Task in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry and Ron were drinking Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Cedric and Harry lifted the Triwizard Cup in front of a crowd of students and Professors. Harry, Ron and Hermione attacked Snape in the Shrieking Shack, blowing him backwards and beating him unconscious.
Suddenly the chain of memories stopped and Harry thought he had finally made some progress, but Snape was looking at him with a look of pure loathing and he realized he had broken the connection himself. One look at his Potions Master told Harry he was not to speak about what they had just seen. Snape curled his lip. “Legilimens!” Snape attacked him with more force than ever.
Harry was hugging Sirius in a cave in Hogsmeade. His parents were looking at him from inside the Mirror of Erised. Hermione ran towards Harry and hugged him after she had been petrified and awoken by the Mandrake Draught. Ron and Harry at eleven years old were playing Wizard’s Chess by the fire in the Common Room, wearing Weasley Christmas jumpers. Ginny and Harry were kissing on the couch in the living room of Grimmauld Place.
“You make me sick.” Snape snarled.
Something inside Harry exploded when he realized Snape had seen all those personal memories and addressed them in such way.
“You are pathetic!” he grumbled at his Potions Master.
“What did you say?" Snape snapped.
“You’re pathetic, that’s what I said.” Harry ranted on. “You think it is necessary to keep pestering me, because you couldn’t stand my father when you were in school together all those years ago. A man who has been dead for almost fourteen years! It’s ridiculous!” Harry turned around and was ready to storm out of the dungeon when…
Harry turned around, expecting to see someone else standing behind the desk. The voice had sounded soft and defeated. A voice that didn’t usually come out of Severus Snape’s mouth.
"We were friends." the Potions master said.
“We were friends.” Snape repeated. “Your father and I. We were friends until our sixth year at Hogwarts.”
Every instinct in Harry’s body screamed that Snape was lying, but he had never seen his Potions Master this vulnerable. Not even he would be able to act that well, would he? “But what about Sirius? And Lupin?”
Snape sighed. “We were friends too.”
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What happened?”
Snape shrugged. “They were all Gryffindors, I was a Slytherin. We were in the middle of the first wizarding war, so you can imagine how friendships between those two houses were received by the general public.”
“But you stayed friends until you were in your sixth year?”, Harry said. “Why would you be friends until then if it was just about differences between houses?”
Snape sighed deeply. He hadn’t looked Harry in the eye since Harry had shouted at him. “We fell in love with the same girl. Sirius and Remus took James’ side of course. I didn’t give them much reason to decide otherwise.”
“When you say you fell in love with the same girl...” Harry said slowly. “You don’t mean –?”
Snape looked at him at last. “Yes. Your mother.” He paused and said: “She was extremely kind, even to a Slytherin like me.” He frowned. “Bright, talented, beautiful. Those green eyes...” He finally looked Harry in the eyes. “Every time I look at you, I am reminded of the mistakes I made in my past. When I see you, I see James. In your appearance, your talent on the Quidditch pitch, even your duelling skills. And I see Lily, her eyes, her personality, her laugh. It always made me so angry. Knowing that it was all my fault. If I hadn’t chosen the wrong side back then…”
“Why have you never told me?” Harry asked. “This could have done so much if you had told me before now.”
“Because I was ashamed of course. And afraid. I knew that I could never face you after what I had done.”
“Of course you could.” Harry said, although he had no idea what Snape was talking about.
Snape shook his head. “You don’t know what I have done – “
“And I don’t want to know.” Harry interrupted him. “I don’t care who you used to work for. I don’t care if you have the Dark Mark on your arm.” Snape looked at him startled. “You’re on our side now. Dumbledore trusts you. And if Dumbledore trusts you, I trust you.” Harry couldn’t believe he was saying this words to Severus Snape, but he knew he was doing right by saying it.
Snape looked at him with an extremely strange expression on his face Harry couldn’t place. Suddenly he realized it was gratitude. It took so long for him to notice because he never expected to see Snape look grateful at anyone, let alone Harry. He nodded at Harry and mumbled: “I’m sorry.”
Harry nodded. He knew his Potions Master wouldn’t say more than that to him and he didn’t need to hear anymore too. He took his bag and left the room without another word, he needed time to think this over.
As Severus Snape watched Harry leave his office, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his chest. A weight that had been there for nearly fourteen years. A weight that had doubled the moment Harry Potter had set foot in Hogwarts. Maybe he would be able to live again.
When Harry entered the Gryffindor common room, his head was still spinning from everything he had heard in the dungeons. He noticed his friends occupying a wide range of chairs at the fire. He vaguely noticed their usual group was accompanied by Lee Jordan and Angelina, Alicia and Katie. Still speechless he plumped down onto a couch next to Ginny, who rubbed his thigh.
“Are you okay, sweetie?”
“Did Snape give you such a rough time?” Ron asked, looking at Harry worriedly.
Harry shook his head. Stammering he recounted everything Snape had told him after Harry lashed out at him. A deafening silence followed his story.
“Is this some kind of sick joke?”
“Ronald!” Hermione scolded. “Can’t you see he is being serious, honestly.”
Harry talked with his friends about Snape for quite some time, but the ones he really wanted to talk about were Sirius and Remus Lupin. They never told him anything about Snape being friends with them during their years at Hogwarts and he had to admit he felt a bit betrayed about that. He thought about writing, but they had ordered them to be careful with what he wrote in his letters. His owl could be intercepted. Harry knew Snape was still working as a spy for the Order and if Hedwig was intercepted, Snape risked to blow his cover. The only thing he could do was wait for the Christmas Holidays to come and hope Snape would be acting more civilly towards him now he had told Harry the secrets from his past.
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