“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” Harry demanded.
“Do not use that sort of language,” Severus said sternly, approaching Harry. “And tell you what?”
“THAT SIRIUS BLACK IS MY GODFATHER,” Harry yelled unnecessarily since he was only feet away from his guardian. “THAT HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING MY PARENTS. I trusted you to be honest with me,” Harry spat, turning and storming towards Hogsmeade.
“Harry, you are not going anywhere,” Severus said darkly from behind him. “Come back.”
Harry heard Severus exhale sharply. “You do not want me to.”
Harry stopped and forced himself to turn around, glaring at Severus. “Fine. What do you want to say to me? That Sirius Black is a freaking traitor? ‘Cause it’s a little late, guess what, I already heard and it wasn’t from you.”
“Would it have made it any better if it had been?” Severus asked calmly.
“Yes,” Harry said forcefully.
“Then I apologize.”
Harry looked at him, anger temporarily fading. “What?”
“I apologize,” he repeated. “I thought that they might be able to apprehend him without causing you the undue stress and anger of learning the truth.”
Harry was silent for a moment. “In what universe is that a viable excuse? You don’t think that I have the right to know why he wants to kill me? What if he broke into the dorm and killed me last night, I would never have known. Is that what you want?”
“No, of course not,” he replied. “It was wishful thinking, I suppose.”
Harry scoffed. “Yeah, you thinking wishfully. Maybe we are in a different universe.”
“If we are, Sirius Black is right here with us,” Severus pointed out.
Harry’s mood shifted rapidly from anger to bitter, sad hatred. “He was his best friend, Severus,” Harry said, voice wavering slightly.
“I know,” Severus said quietly. “He treated me much the same as your father did. Believe me, I know.”
Harry took a breath, thoughts churning. He knew deep inside that his anger was directed at Sirius and not Severus. “I’m sorry, Severus.”
Severus cocked his head. “It was not your doing.”
Harry shook his head. He clarified, “No, I’m sorry about what I said. I was just angry. I’m so angry.”
“I can tell,” Severus said. “I am learning not to take most of what you say in a state like that personally.”
Harry gave a weak smile. “That’s probably a good idea. I’m just a rash, head-strong Gryffindor, huh?”
“That you are.”
“I guess even though I want him to find me now, you still won’t let me go to Hogsmeade?” Harry asked hopefully.
Severus looked down at Harry. “No,” he said simply. “You may be an arrogant Gryffindor but I am a brutal realist. Five minutes with Black and you would be dead.”
“Gee thanks for having faith in me.”
“You are welcome,” Severus said. “Shall we go back up to the castle?”
“Sure,” Harry replied. “Why were you down here anyway? Were you just waiting for me to disobey you?”
Severus gave a noncommittal jerk of his head. “I came to gather a few potion ingredients in the forest. On the way out I saw you come storming out of the castle looking as if someone had lit it on fire. I thought I would wait to see if you would think better of disobeying me.”
“Oh,” Harry said. “I guess I failed, huh?”
“Tell me, what would you have done once you got to Hogsmeade? One of the teachers would report you to me and we would be in a worse situation,” Severus said.
Harry shrugged. “I wasn’t exactly thinking ahead.”
“And while we are being honest here, how did you find out about Black?” Severus asked, eyebrow raised suspiciously. Harry shifted his cloak further out of view.
“Uh, I overheard a couple of teachers talking,” Harry replied.
“An awful long conversation,” Severus pointed out. “And a rather sensitive one to have in public. In addition, all of the teachers know about Black. There would be no reason to discuss it.”
“Um, I don’t know, maybe someone was out of the loop?” Harry suggested hopefully.
“It would have to be someone very unfamiliar with the happenings around here. I wonder, who could that be?” Severus mused. “And again, why in public?”
As if on cue, Adelaide came walking daintily out of the castle, right past them, heels clicking on the stone. Fudge followed close behind.
“Hello, Minister,” Severus said politely. Fudge nodded to him, a look of mildly disguised disdain on his face.
“Ooh, you know Cornelius?” Adelaide asked. “Do you control the dementors?”
“Now, Adelaide, don’t associate me only with the dementors! Professor Snape here is the Potions Master,” Fudge said.
“Oh,” she replied breathily. “How very nice to meet you,” she said with a forced smile, looking a little intimidated by Snape’s menacing look.
They hurried off with little more than a final glance. Harry was still surprised that she had not recognized the scar on his forehead. As soon as they were out of earshot, Harry burst into laughter.
“You do look like a match for the dementors in that cloak!” Harry said with a grin.
Severus glared at him.
“And with that facial expression too!” Harry added. “Do you own any robes that aren’t black?”
“I have one,” Severus replied. “Charcoal grey.”
“Sounds nice, you should wear it sometime,” Harry said, genuinely meaning it. Snape didn’t take it as so and gave a short grunt.
“Why do I get the feeling that you weren’t the slightest bit surprised to see the two of them? Perhaps that is because you have seen them once today already,” Severus said, piecing things together with his intuition. “When the Minister comes, he is generally entertained in either Dumbledore’s office or the teacher’s conference room. I think it doubtful that you snuck into Dumbledore’s office, so am I correct in surmising that you snuck into the conference room and eavesdropped on their conversation with the teachers, presumably under the invisibility cloak that you are unsuccessfully hiding behind your back?”
Harry was shocked at how complete that deduction was. And it was absolutely correct. “Uh, maybe?”
“I shall take that as a yes,” Severus said in a disappointed tone. “I had thought you were above sneaking around under a cloak.”
Harry was quiet, looking down and waiting for the lecture to come.
“After all, you simply could have legilimized someone knowledgeable.”
Harry looked up. His brow furrowed. Was that it? Had he escaped a lecture?
“In fact, I would be rather proud of you if you could legilimize someone without their even being aware of it. It is a good skill to have,” Severus continued, ignoring the series of expressions that morphed Harry’s face from surprised to relieved to almost fond.
“So you’re saying you aren’t mad at me for eavesdropping, you’re mad that I didn’t do it as skillfully as I could have?” Harry clarified.
“More or less. As your guardian and as a professor here, I must profess that it was wrong, what you did, and that you ought not to do it again, but...” he trailed off.
“But?” Harry prompted, not believing his ears.
“But, after all, I am a Slytherin.”
Harry gave a full blown smile. It was times like this that Harry knew he made the right choice in a guardian.
“Though I will say that you can always come to me with questions,” Severus said. “I will try, in the future, to tell you more of what concerns you.”
“Thanks, Severus,” Harry said, still grinning. “You really are a great guardian, you know that?”
“I did not, but thank you for enlightening me,” he said softly, looking down at Harry.
“Anytime, Severus,” Harry said. “Anytime.”
Harry decided to just stay in the common room for the rest of the night rather than push his luck by wandering around the castle. He had seen and heard enough for one day anyway. Just before dinner time, he went down to the Great Hall to meet the flushed and excited Gryffindors that came streaming in, full of tales of Hogsmeade. Normally Harry would be jealous but he was still so pleasantly surprised that he had not been seriously punished by Severus that he was feeling lucky.
“So how was-” Harry began.
Ron cut him off, “Amazing, Harry! You should have seen all the candy! And the prank stuff! Now I can get back at Fred and George,” he said, biting off the end of a licorice snake.
Harry smiled, “Sounds great.”
“Would’ve been better if you were there, Harry,” Draco said earnestly.
Harry smiled at his friend. “That’s alright. If I hadn’t stayed back...” he trailed off, insinuating that something important had happened.
“What happened?” Hermione groaned, catching on to his meaning.
“I’ll tell you if you give me some of that candy,” Harry said. Almost instantly, three bags with “Honeyduke’s” on a background of pink stripes were shoved in front of him. Harry laughed. “Come on, I’ll tell you over dinner.”
They took seats at the Gryffindor table though Harry was the only one hungry, the others had filled up on candy. Even if he hadn’t had something important to tell them, Harry knew that they would sit with him anyway, if only because they felt bad for leaving him behind. Harry didn’t mind one bit.
“Well? Tell us!” Ron prompted.
Harry took a deep breath and casted the silencing charm Hermione taught him. “Sirius Black is my godfather.”
“WHAT?” Ron burst out.
Hermione elbowed him in the ribs. “Ron, hush up. But really, Harry, what?”
“He’s my godfather,” Harry repeated. “He was my dad’s best friend. And he turned dark.”
“So your godfather is a deatheater?” Draco asked redundantly. Then he shrugged. “Better than your father anyway,” he muttered, referring to his own.
“At least your father isn’t out to kill you,” Harry pointed out. “But that’s not all, it gets worse.”
“How?” Hermione asked, sympathetic, yet calm.
“He was my parent’s secret keeper. You know what that is?” Harry asked.
Hermione nodded, but the other two shook their heads.
“He was the only one who knew their location and no one could know unless he told them. You-Know-Who could be right beside their window and wouldn’t know unless he told him,” Harry said bitterly.
“And he told him,” Hermione surmised.
Harry nodded. “And you know those murders he is wanted for?”
“One of them was another of my dad’s friends. He tried to catch Black and...”
“Merlin, Harry, this is awful!” Hermione said. “He is a mad, deranged murderer who betrayed your parents! Why are you not more concerned?”
“I want him to find me,” Harry said boldly. “He’ll pay.”
“Harry, perhaps that isn’t such a great idea. He killed what, twelve, thirteen people in one shot?” Draco said. “You’re only one. And you’re a third year.”
“I don’t care,” Harry said. “He will pay.”
Ron simply shook his head. “You’re mental, mate.”
Harry shrugged. “You guys done?” he asked, ready to return to the common room.
“Yeah,” they replied, rising to follow him. Hermione trotted up beside him.
“Hang on, how did you find all of this out?” she asked.
Harry gave a mischievous grin. “I put the invisibility cloak to good use.”
She rolled her eyes. “And here I thought Professor Snape had knocked some sense into you.”
Harry smiled. “He was just mad that I didn’t eavesdrop the way he taught me.”
“How did he teach you?” Hermione asked with narrowed eyes.
Harry simply gave her a superior smile and walked on ahead. Hermione huffed but followed.
The four of them walked up the ever-changing steps in silence. Harry assumed that they were still trying to process what he had told them. That task alone had taken him most of the afternoon. When they reached the correct floor, they couldn’t step off the stairs due to the large crowd of people around the portrait hole. One of the older students pushed through.
“What’s going on- oh my,” she said as she reached the hole. “Someone get Professor Dumbledore.”
One of the second years ran off to do just that. Harry wove his way through the crowd to see what had happened. The edge of the fat lady’s frame was chewed up as if someone had tried to pry it open. Several slashes tore across the canvas and the fat lady was gone.
“Where’d she go?” someone asked.
“We ought to find her,” another suggested.
Moments later Dumbledore showed up. He surveyed the damage. “Peeves!” he called into the air. In a few seconds, the poltergeist showed up.
“Yes, Honorable professor-sir?”
“Did you see what happened to the fat lady?” Dumbledore asked.
“Last I saw she was on the third floor, runnin’ from picture to picture,” he said as if amused.
“Well that is helpful, but I rather meant what happened here,” Dumbledore said.
Peeves floated on his back. “He got rather angry when she refused to open for him. Got a nasty temper, that Sirius Black.”
A chill ran up Harry’s spine.