A/N: Revised chapter
Thursday evening couldn’t come soon enough for Harry. He was looking forward to a chance to see Remus and he wanted to talk to the former professor about the many things going on in his life. Severus, though initially amused by Harry’s enthusiasm soon found he had little patience for its continual expression. Harry disregarded his professor’s irritability at first, but after the man snapped at him to calm down or go away, Harry decided to avoid Snape and work on hiding his emotions when he couldn’t just stay away from the man.
It was surprisingly easy for him, or perhaps not so surprising, considering Harry’s time with the Dursleys. Snape thought it rather curious when he noticed, but dismissed it as the boy’s Slytherin nature peeking through.
The anticipated hour, however, arrived at last and Harry and Severus found themselves standing in the library watching the grate in anticipation of Remus’s arrival. The cheerfully burning flames flashed bright green and the shabby, wraithlike figure of Remus Lupin stepped through. “Hello, Severus, Harry,” he said tiredly as he brushed the soot and ash from his robes.
“Lupin,“Severus replied inclining his head ever so slightly.
“Remus!” Harry cried and threw his arms around his friend.
Remus smiled and embraced the child in return. “How are you, Harry?” he asked kindly.
“Um, I'm fine,” Harry mumbled stepping back quickly and looking at the floor, his cheeks a bright red.
“I imagine you are tired?” Snape asked neutrally.
“A little, yes,” Remus answered apologetically.
“I set up a room for you. I presume you took a full dose of the potion today?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Come along then. There’s a safe box where you can keep your wand in the room. Will you put up wards and silencing charms, or shall I?”
“I’ll do it Severus. Though of course if you wish to put up more...” he trailed off.
Snape simply sneered at him and turned away. “Come,” he ordered exiting the room and heading towards the staircase. Harry and Remus followed him and Harry was somewhat surprised to see that Lupin’s room was between his and Snape’s.
“Thank you, Severus.”
“I’ve a cauldronful of the potion downstairs. I’ll bring some up for you tomorrow,” he said shortly.
“Thank you,” Remus said politely.
“Good night, Severus, Harry.” He smiled at both of them before stepping into the room and closing the door firmly behind him.
Snape and Harry looked at the door a moment before Severus turned and said, “Instead of coming down for Occlumency right away tomorrow I want you to meditate and decide what sort of defense you’re going to use. We can have the next lesson on Monday morning as usual.”
“Alright,” Harry acquiesced in confusion. Snape wanted to skip a lesson completely? How bizarre. “Good night, then, sir,” he murmured but stood still staring at Lupin’s door.
“Goodnight, Harry.” Snape was just inside his own door when he heard the boy’s voice calling him.
“What is it?” he asked rushing to the door. He was slightly concerned, though he hadn’t heard anything to indicate danger.
“I just wanted to say, thank you for letting Remus stay and,” the boy took a deep breath, “I’m sorry about-about looking in your pensieve. It was wrong of me.” It was one of the most difficult things Harry had ever said. More than anything he wanted to look down, but he also wanted Snape to know that he wasn’t lying. “I-I just wanted to tell you,” he stuttered at last when Snape didn’t respond. Harry wheeled around and fled to his room, certain that the stillness his declaration was met with was a bad sign.
Severus was stupefied as thoroughly as if Harry had spoken the spell. He had never expected Harry Potter, son of James Potter, to say those words to him. He knew that the boy wasn’t the brat he’d always believed, but he hadn’t seen anything particularly special about him, certainly not the extraordinariness that Albus claimed the boy had. Maybe, though, just maybe Albus was right.
Well, only time would tell, he thought at last. In the meantime, he needed some sleep so that he could get up and talk to the werewolf in the morning. He hadn’t forgotten that Harry hadn’t told him the whole story about leaving Surrey. Who better to go to, Severus reasoned, than one of the official members of the ‘rescue squad.’ And since he just happened to have one in his house, he smirked as he climbed into bed, he might as well take advantage of the opportunity.
Remus took down the wards and silencing charms he had put up around his room the night before. He looked around the room and grinned. He had been more than a little surprised when Severus had led him upstairs to a proper bedroom rather than downstairs to some sort of cell in the basement. Actually, Severus had been far more polite than usual, and it made Remus wonder what he wanted. If there was one thing he knew about Severus it was that he didn’t do anything without a reason.
The room itself, thought Spartan, was comfortable. He was pleased that the potion he had taken worked well and he had been able to curl up quietly rather than acting like a caged animal.
It was still early and he decided he could probably go back to sleep for a bit. Surely no one in the house would be up at seven o’clock during the summer.
Apparently someone would, he corrected himself as he got up to answer the door. Severus was standing just outside it. “Good morning, Severus,” he greeted the tall, sallow man.
“Good morning, Lupin. I wonder if I might persuade you to have breakfast with me?”
Remus blinked at him before answering. “Certainly, Severus. Is everything all right?”
“I merely wished to speak with you.”
Severus nodded and turned to lead him down to the dining room. After seeing his guest settled with a large breakfast, the man really was painfully thin, Snape examined the gentle werewolf. He looked tired, but didn’t seem to be disoriented or in any pain.
“Spit it out, Severus,” Remus said with a smile.
“I want some information from you.”
“About what?” Lupin asked warily.
“Harry,” his tone was questioning.
“Yes. I wished to know why he left his aunt's home. He told me, but he left quite a bit out, I think.”
“Hmm,” Lupin took a sip of his tea. “Well. You probably should know, since Harry is staying with you. But I don’t want you to use this against him.”
“I hadn’t planned to.”
“I’m serious, Severus. I won’t tell you unless you promise me that it won’t be something you use to needle him.”
“I seem to have given up Potter-baiting, at least for the present.”
“We seem to have reached a truce.”
“That’s good. I think Harry could use a constant paternal-type figure.”
“Paternal!? Lupin, if you think I’m—“
“Calm down, Severus. I’m not saying you should adopt him or anything, I’m just saying he needs someone to look up to who isn’t going to disappear every full moon and who isn’t trying to escape Azkaban. He needs someone to be there for him.”
Severus was stunned. “And it’s obvious that a Death Eater-turned-spy is the perfect choice. Why can’t his relatives do that?” The idea of anyone looking up to him was more than a little frightening.
“Well, for one thing they’re muggles, Severus; they don’t really understand what Harry is going through. For another I don’t think a flesh-eating slug could look up to the Dursleys.”
Snape was looking at Remus with narrowed eyes. “Just tell me what happened, and then we’ll address this ridiculous idea of yours.”
“Fair enough,” Remus replied with a nod. “Harry’s letters, though they sounded a little off, were definitely from him and came regularly. A few weeks into the summer, however, he missed a day. That didn’t seem like Harry, and we had told him that if we didn’t hear from him every three days, we would come and check on him.”
“Why? And how did you know he wasn’t just trying to get attention?” Severus broke in.
“Harry isn’t the sort who usually goes looking for attention. If you’re asking why he was to contact us every three days, well, I suppose you’ll be able to figure that out in a minute,” the wolf answered darkly.
“Molly, Alastor, Nymphadora, and I flew to Surrey and noticed right away that something was wrong with number 4. It was completely dark and silent while the other houses were brightly lit and most were humming slightly. When we went in we quickly discovered that Harry was the only person in the house. Furthermore, he had no food. Though Arthur tells me that any food he had would have gone bad without the eckeltricity to keep the frigidator working.”
“Let me get this straight,” Snape said in a soft voice, “Harry Potter, one of the best guarded personages in the Wizarding World, was left unattended and unprotected without food or power for a space of some weeks?” He continued at Remus’s nod, “how is it that we didn’t know about this?”
“Harry never mentioned it in his letters. No one on sentry duty reported particularly unusual behavior, and the Dursleys’ car was still in the driveway.”
“I see,” Snape said with a sneer, “We all depend on a boy who does not seek attention to tell us when he’s been mistreated. How perfectly logical.”
Remus looked at him ruefully. “You’re right. That was pretty dim of us.”
“Dim is an understatement. Why is it that Harry was supposed to be writing, exactly? Please don’t tell me there is a history of this sort of thing.”
There was a long silence before Severus spoke again. “So there is a history, then. How bad is it?” he asked resignedly.
“They were keeping him locked up last year when we went to pick him up. That’s why we stepped in. I think there’s more, but I don’t know for sure. Certainly Harry’s never mentioned anything.”
“He wouldn’t, would he, Lupin? Not if you’ve got his character right.”
“You are right, of course, Severus.”
“Of course I’m right.”
“I don’t know what else you want me to say. We’ve failed him, I know. All we can do is try not to let it happen again.”
“And if that’s not good enough?” Snape asked sharply.
“I don’t know, Severus, I really don’t.”
“Humph,” Severus huffed, indicating what he thought of that answer. “I think I need hardly point out that the Dark Lord’s mistreatment at the hands of muggles influenced his adult behavior,” he continued caustically.
“No, you don’t. But I doubt we need to worry about anything like that.”
“Why, because he’s in Gryffindor? Because Pettigrew turned as easily as any Slytherin. Or maybe it’s because he’s James Potter’s son?”
“No, that’s not why,” Remus exclaimed, interrupting. “I think it’ll be alright because despite everything, Harry chooses to care.”
“Caring? You think caring will defeat Lord Voldemort?” Severus had a look of utter incredulity on his face.
“I think it stands a good chance, yes,” Remus said quietly. “And so does Dumbledore.”
“Hmm,” Snape looked less than convinced. “Harry should be up soon,” he said.
“Since when is he Harry?” Lupin asked teasingly.
“Since the truce. And since he asked to be,” Severus replied tartly.
“Ah, of course, the truce. Shall I ask how that came about?” Upon seeing the other man’s glare he laughed lightly and said, “Perhaps not, then.”
Harry had awakened at his usual hour and found that despite the opportunity he was in no mood for a lie in. With a small yawn he stretched and sat up, reaching for his glasses.
Now, what to envision for Occlumency? Snape had mentioned several options, which would work best for him? He wasn’t sure he liked the idea of the forest; it sounded more like Neville’s cup of tea than his. The ring of fire didn’t sound like him, either. It reminded him of Dumbledore, but also a little of the chamber where he had found Quirrell and the stone.
What did he like? He enjoyed flying; maybe he could do something with that? Harry thought for a few minutes. An idea slowly took shape in his head. What about a cloud? Like fog? Really dense fog. He could hide in it, let people see what he wanted them to, even sneak up on them to launch his own offensive. Briefly he wondered if the other person couldn’t hide in the fog, too, but after a moment he concluded that he would be able to tell where they were by feel, they were going to be prodding at him, after all.
Yes, he nodded decisively, fog it was. He leaned back against the head board and began visualizing it. When he had finally gotten the image worked out to his satisfaction, Harry stretched again and looked over at the clock. It was a little past breakfast.
With a gasp Harry jumped out of bed and threw on clean clothes. He hoped that there was something left in the dining room. He rushed through the house and arrived in the dining room just in time to hear Remus laugh and say “perhaps not, then.”
“Good morning,” Harry said, walking in.
“Good morning,” Remus replied cheerfully.
“Oversleep?” Snape asked with an arched eyebrow.
“No, I was just practicing my Occlumency.”
“Well, we’ll see, won’t we?” Snape said disbelievingly. Harry just grinned at him.
At that moment there was a tapping at the window. An owl was fluttering just outside with an envelope tied neatly to its leg. Snape opened the window and the tawny owl glided gracefully toward the table where it landed in front of Harry. Harry took the letter after he rubbed the owl’s head and offered it a piece of bacon, which it accepted and flew back out the window.
The envelope was of heavy parchment and sealed with an ornate seal that Harry didn’t recognize. After a moment’s hesitation Harry broke open the seal and pulled the letter out of the envelope.
It was his OWL results. Harry held his breath and unfolded the parchment, his eyes falling to the summary of overall scores at the bottom. He couldn’t believe it; he’d gotten seven OWLs. O’s in DADA and Charms, E’s in Potions, Transfigurations, Herbology, and Care of Magical Creatures. He scraped an A on History of Magic, but he’d got a P for Astronomy and a T, which he saw actually meant terrible, for Divination.
He grinned hugely for a moment before realizing that with only an “E” on his potions OWL he wouldn’t be allowed in Snape’s class. Without that class he would never be able to take the required NEWT to become an auror.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Remus asked when Harry’s face fell.
“Nothing, I just got my OWL results is all.”
“Didn’t get the scores you wanted?” Snape asked with a very slightly curled lip.
“Not quite,” Harry said curtly.
“May I see?” Lupin asked, extending his hand.
Harry handed him the parchment and scowled at his toast. Oh well, he thought, what guarantee was there that he’d be alive at the end of his seventh year?
“These are very good, Harry!” Remus’s voice broke into Harry’s reverie. “I’m so proud of you!”
“Really?” Harry smiled at Remus.
“Absolutely!” Lupin grinned back at him. “And I know your parents and Sirius would be, too.” Harry’s smile grew even wider at that thought.
Severus was watching the exchange closely. He knew Potter wanted to be an auror, Merlin knew Minerva had talked about it often enough. He guessed the boy was disappointed about not getting an “O” in potions. What did the boy get, though? “May I?” he inquired suddenly, extending his own hand.
“Certainly,” Lupin said handing him the parchment, “Alright Harry?” he asked with a small frown. Harry nodded and glanced at Snape before turning back to Lupin and asking how his mother had done on her OWLs.
Severus examined the paper carefully. He knew he had not been easy on Potter in class. If the boy could score an “Exceeds Expectations” on the OWL on his own, he might be a fair student with a little encouragement and tutelage. Perhaps, if the rest of the summer went well, he’d offer the boy a spot in his class anyway, on a trial basis.
He nodded to himself. The rest of the scores weren’t bad at all, really; if he could keep up that level of performance there was a good chance Potter might become an auror after all. He pushed the parchment across the table toward the boy, who was hanging on every word the werewolf said. Satisfied that neither of the others was paying him any attention Severus left the room to work on some potions for Poppy Pomfrey.
Harry was avidly listening to Remus, but he was also watching Snape from the corner of his eye. He saw the man nod, as if making a decision, and hoped that whatever it was it didn’t mean that Snape thought less of him. When the dark man stood and left, Harry refocused his attention on Lupin. The werewolf was only too happy to answer all of Harry’s questions about his parents and indulge in reminiscing about Sirius. They spent the rest of the morning talking about Marauders-era Hogwarts and all the good times there had been.
A little after lunch Snape brought Lupin a steaming goblet. Shortly after that Remus declared that he was tired and wanted to lie down for a bit.
Harry was sitting at the dining room table looking out the window, head propped up on his hands, legs swinging, when Snape walked in. “Honestly, didn’t anyone ever tell you to keep your elbows off the table?”
“Sure,” Harry said with a small start, “but I thought it only mattered at mealtimes.”
“Typical,” Severus replied with an arched brow. Harry had the strange sense that he was being teased. “Where is Lupin?”
“Was he alright?” Harry looked at him confusedly and said, “I think so, he said something about getting up early this morning and being more tired than he thought.”
“Did he seem disoriented in any way?”
“No, just tired,” Harry said bewilderedly. “Why, is something wrong?”
“Most likely not, I merely wish to ensure that there is no negative interaction between the potions.”
“Should we go check on him?” Harry asked, brow furrowed in concern.
Severus’s eyebrows quirked but he nodded and led the boy up to the wolf’s bedroom. He rapped softly on the door and opened it when he heard Remus’s muffled “come in.”
Severus strode into the room and over to the bed with Harry trailing along behind. Snape stopped at the edge of the bed and surveyed the weary man critically. His pupils were not dilated and his skin was neither flushed nor overly pale. Severus picked up his wrist. His pulse was not racing, there was no fever, nor was his skin clammy. “Let me know if you feel anything out of the ordinary,” Snape admonished.
“I will,” Lupin promised. Severus nodded and swept from the room.
“Rest well,” Harry smiled at him before likewise leaving the room.
“How much of your summer work have you completed?” Severus asked Harry as he walked towards his lab.
“I’ve finished it,” Harry replied, following his professor without much thought of where they were going.
“All of it?”
“Yes,” Harry confirmed.
“I hope it’s not your usual rushed work,” Snape said with a hint of disapproval in his voice.
“No, I got to take my time this year, so it’s much better than usual,” Harry assured him.
“Do you normally put your homework off to the end of summer?”
“No,” Harry said squirming a little. “It’s just difficult sometimes to find time at my relatives’ house.”
“Why is that?” Snape asked, watching Harry closely. The boy just shrugged without answering.
They arrived at the lab and though Severus walked in, Harry hesitated in the doorway. “Come on,” Snape said impatiently when he realized that his shadow was no longer following him. Potter approached him slightly nervously.
“Relax,” he ordered the boy. Harry nodded and inhaled deeply while jiggling his shoulders. “Bring me the size 4 pewter cauldron.”
Harry scurried to find the cauldron on the shelves and, upon locating it, placed it on the stand on the table in front of Snape. The professor nodded and gestured toward another set of shelves with ingredients. He rattled off a list of things he needed and Harry found himself transporting bottles, jars, and bunches of odd looking plants to the table. Soon he was dicing and chopping and stirring as he followed his professor’s instructions carefully. Although Harry’s hands shook just a little the potion came out far better than anything he ever produced in class. Snape narrowed his eyes and dismissed Harry to clean up for dinner.
Dinner was a quiet meal, and Lupin retired early.
Harry went to his room and read a bit more of the Occlumency book before meditating and falling asleep.
The next morning, Saturday, found Remus knocking on Severus’s door. “What do you want?” he growled when he opened the door and found the wolf smiling at him.
“You said we would talk about my ‘ridiculous idea.’ I thought we could chat over breakfast,” Remus replied cheerily.
Severus glared at him before he said, “I’ll meet you in the dining room.”
After Severus seated himself and drank a strong cup of coffee he looked at Remus. “You think I would be an acceptable guardian for James Potter’s son?” he asked skeptically.
“No, I think you would be a good mentor for Harry. He is more than simply James’s son, you know.”
“What makes you think I would be good for anyone? I am not equipped to nurture anyone, nor do I inspire confidence.”
“Just keep talking to him. Harry needs someone steady, someone who will be there for him.”
“I am no steadier than you, my life is in danger because of my position, and though at this moment I need not publicly despise him next week or next month may be different.”
“That’s your public treatment, not your private treatment. And your presence is far more constant than mine or even Molly’s. I won’t hound you into it, but think about it, won’t you?”
Severus nodded exasperatedly. He found himself liking Harry more than his student Potter, and more than most of his other students as well, but he was getting tired of everyone pushing him closer to the boy. The rest of the meal was consumed in silence.
Soon after, Harry came down for his own meal. He and Remus quickly fell into another conversation that focused on the old days. Severus found himself irritated by their happy chatter and said snidely, “If this keeps up you won’t need a journal. Who knew you were such a chatterbox?”
Harry looked up at him, hurt showing in his wide, green eyes. He didn’t say anything and after a moment his eyes were shuttered. Severus was briefly sorry. The boy shouldn’t trust him, but it was refreshing that he did. Severus sighed before turning and stalking from the room.
Remus watched the scene with some small disappointment. He knew that was quite mild for Severus, but he hoped the man hadn’t made the comment just to push Harry away. The young man didn’t need that. His curiosity was piqued, however; what had Severus meant, Harry wouldn’t need a journal? Well, the best way to find out he decided, was to ask.
“Harry,” Remus began gently, “what did he mean, about the journal?”
Harry blinked at him and flushed ever-so-slightly. “I sometimes have trouble talking to people about-about how I feel about things. Headmaster thought it might help if I wrote it down.”
“A very sensible idea,” Remus said encouragingly.
“Yeah” Harry agreed half-heartedly.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to talk, Harry. Just as there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to talk.”
“I know,” Harry said defensively.
Remus nodded. After a few moments he began telling a rather humorous story about one of James’ and Lily’s first dates. It took several minutes for Harry to relax, but by the end of the story he was laughing and smiling again.
After lunch Remus once again left to take a nap and Harry decided to find Snape.
Severus had gone immediately to his lab and proceeded to get involved in something that made him look exceptionally busy but in reality left his mind free to wander. He had felt a small amount of remorse when he hurt Harry, and he found it an uncomfortable feeling. His busy-work was an attempt to quash the sensation. It seemed to him but a few moments later that he noticed a smallish shadow in the doorway. Harry.
“Professor?” the lad questioned nervously.
“Come in,” Severus said with a small sigh.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Harry said without preamble.
“I beg your pardon?” Snape said, confusion coloring his voice.
“I’m sorry,” Harry repeated without looking at him. “I know you didn’t like Sirius or my dad, and I know they didn’t treat you particularly well. I didn’t mean to offend you.” Severus’s head had tilted slightly to one side as he listened. “I just wanted to know, you know,” Harry explained pleadingly. “I wanted to know more about my parents.”
“That...is understandable. After all, you did not know them.”
Harry looked at him with relief and determination, “I also want to say I’m sorry for looking in your pensieve last year.”
Snape froze for a moment, uncertain of what to think. Harry misinterpreted that uncertainty as anger and rushed on, “I know I shouldn’t have; I know it was wrong. I didn’t realize that that was what you didn’t want me to see; I thought it was Order stuff. And I want you to know that I didn’t tell anyone except Sirius and Remus about what I saw, since they were there. And I didn’t laugh, not after all that’s happened to me. I thought my dad acted a right prat.” Harry stumbled on through his apology, having decided that he was going to do this.
Finally he stopped and looked fearfully up at his professor, whose mouth was opened slightly and whose eyes were widened in disbelief. Yes, Harry had apologized before, but he had run away before it could be acknowledged. This time, Severus decided, he wasn’t going to allow the boy to run away. Snape closed his mouth and pursed his lips. Harry backed up a step.
“I cannot say it is alright,” he began. “It is not. No matter what you thought I was keeping from you it should have been enough that I didn’t want you to know. I can, however, accept your apology and move on,” he continued sounding strained. “And I am not offended that you wish to speak of those who have...gone on. I merely had other things on my mind.”
Harry looked at him with wide eyes. He was speechless.
Snape looked at him and smirked a little. Then he queried, “Shouldn’t you be eating lunch?”
“No,” Harry said, snapping back to himself with a jerk.
“Lunch is over.” Severus looked up at the clock as though to verify Harry’s statement. Then he strode over to a covered cauldron and summoned a goblet. Carefully he ladled some of the contents of the cauldron into the cup and re-covered the cauldron. Then he left the laboratory.
Harry, though taken by surprise, hurried after him. “Where are you going?” he called.
“Lupin needs his potion,” the older wizard said tersely. How could he have forgotten? It was bad enough with just him in the house, but with a student as well...it was inexcusable.
In a few minutes Snape was tapping on Lupin’s door. When there was no reply Severus opened the door and looked in. Remus was sleeping sprawled out across the bed. Snape walked in quietly and shook his shoulder. Lupin came awake with a small jump. “Huh?” he mumbled.
“You need to drink your potion.”
“Yuck,” the graying man said, pushing himself up and reaching for the goblet.
Severus smirked as he handed it to him. “Got up too early again, did you?”
Remus grimaced as he drained the cup. He yawned and collapsed back onto the pillow.
Severus sneered and left the room, heading back to the laboratory. “Coming?” he asked as he passed Harry. The boy goggled at him for a second but was quick to fall in behind him.
“Let’s see what you remember from yesterday, shall we? Go and get the cauldron and ingredients you need.”
Harry walked over and got the cauldron he had used the day before. He walked over to the shelves of ingredients and looked at them, running through the potion in his head to make sure he didn’t miss anything.
Severus was certain that the boy had frozen and started forward to help him when Harry began selecting ingredients from the racks with more confidence than he usually showed when preparing to brew a potion. To say that Severus was surprised when Harry moved to the table with everything he needed is an understatement. He had prepared himself to talk the child thorough the entire process again and to try to do it patiently. The eyebrow that twitched upward was indicative of this, admittedly pleasant, surprise. “Do you remember what to do?” he questioned.
Harry paused and nodded, “I think so.” The eyebrow twitched again but Severus gestured for his student to go ahead.
Harry was pleased to find he did quite well until a third of the way through the actual brewing when he couldn’t remember if he put in nettles or beetle legs first. He paused and concentrated, hoping that the memories would come to him. When he realized that he simply could not remember his shoulders drooped. “I don’t know what comes next,” he admitted softly.
Severus had been watching and heard him. “Beetle legs,” he prompted the boy.
Harry nodded and continued on stirring the crushed beetle legs in slowly before tucking in the stewed and shredded nettles. After a while Harry again found himself stumped.
“Vinegar of rose hip,” Snape reminded him.
Once again, Harry continued brewing and this time managed to make it all the way through to the end. When Harry had removed the flame and relinquished his stirrer Severus asked him a few questions about the decanting and storage of the potion Harry had created. Harry answered the queries correctly, causing the single black eyebrow to flick upward again. “I have not taught this potion in class; did you study it on your own?”
“No, sir,” Harry said. “I’d never seen it before yesterday.”
“Do you recognize the potion?”
“It looks like the burn-paste Madame Pomfrey had after the first task in the tournament.”
“It is. You did much better than your classroom performance would have led me to believe.” Harry looked away. “We will try another potion tomorrow,” Snape stated. Harry nodded. “Go wash up,” Severus commanded. “It is nearly time for dinner.”
“Yes sir,” Harry replied before leaving the room.
Snape walked to Harry’s cauldron and looked into the potion. It was imperfect, being just a little too thin and its color was off, just shy of the vibrant orange it should be. These flaws, however, would not affect its efficacy greatly. As soon as it had finished cooling Severus would bottle it and include it in his stores for the school nurse. Tomorrow he would teach the boy a simple stomach soothing solution. If the boy completed that potion as well as he had this one Snape really would need to offer him that place in the NEWT class.
As he washed his hands Harry thought about how relieved he was that Snape had not bellowed at him when he had forgotten the correct ingredient order. The aloof man might even have complemented him. Potions, though not Harry’s favorite class, was not his least favorite class either; that dubious honor was shared by Divination and History of Magic. The subject interested him; it was the teacher who had made potions classes unbearable.
Well, he thought, I won’t have to deal with that anymore; I didn’t get the grade Snape wants. Maybe I could do an independent study of sorts? I could get Hermione to supervise and I could take the NEWTs I need.
A smile curved Harry’s mouth as he straightened his shoulders. Maybe he wouldn’t have to give up on being an auror after all.
His smile did not go unnoticed by the two older wizards. Remus met Harry in the hall outside the dining room and noticed it first. He assumed that it sprang from spending time with Severus. Severus, on the other hand, first saw Harry smiling as he walked in with Lupin. Obviously Lupin had just told some joke, he told himself.
For a brief moment, each man wished it had been he and not the other who caused Harry to smile. This thought was quickly dismissed by Lupin, who concluded that it didn’t matter who made Harry smile as long as he was happy. Snape also put the thought from his head. Harry was a good child, a likeable one even, which in his experience was rare, but he didn’t want the boy getting too close, that could hurt either or both of them. No, let Harry look up to the werewolf, let him grow closer to his father’s friend rather than his father’s enemy.
Harry was oblivious to it all.
“Tonight is the last night of the full moon,” Remus pointed out after they had begun eating.
“Yes,” Snape agreed.
“I’ll need to go back to Headquarters.” Harry looked up. “Thank you, Severus, for letting me stay here.”
“Don’t mention it, Lupin.”
Remus nodded and the two men silently returned to their meals. Harry looked at Remus a moment longer, then glanced at Severus, and finally turned his attention to his own plate.
Late the next morning three wizards once again stood clustered around the floo grate in Snape’s library.
“Thank you again, Severus.” The dark man just nodded in return. “Goodbye, Harry. Write me when you have time. Maybe we’ll see each other again soon.”
“I hope so,” Harry choked out. “I’ll see you, then.”
“Sure thing,” Remus replied. Merlin but it broke his heart to leave Harry! With a final glance Lupin turned and grasped a handful of greenish-grey powder from the jar on the mantle. A moment later he was gone.
The two remaining stood in silence until Harry’s small voice broke the quiet. “Professor, do you think we could get started on that potion?”