Two days later, Harry was still recovering. When he stood, it took a moment to reach a point of balance where he could stand easily. Sometimes, his legs or arms would shake until stilled by his hand.
“Harry, your potion,” Severus reminded him.
“Ugh,” he moaned. “Guess you can’t make them taste good, huh?”
Harry looked at the cloudy white substance with disgust. He made a face and downed it with a shaky hand. Almost immediately, his hand stilled.
“Thanks,” Harry said. “Pass the pumpkin juice, please.”
Severus did so. “Is it getting any better?”
“Yeah, actually,” Harry said. “The potion is definitely helping, even if it is disgusting.”
“Are you sure you do not want your friends to visit?” Severus asked. “They were very worried about you.”
Harry shook his head. “I’d rather not until I’m totally better. I’ve owled them.”
Just then, Sirius came into the room, having spent the night at Severus’s because he didn’t feel like going home.
“Hey, Harry,” Sirius said. “Feeling better yet?”
“Not quite,” Harry admitted. “Getting there.”
“That’s good to hear,” Sirius said. “I thought if you were feeling up to it you could come over to my place today. I’ve been kind of imposing on Severus here. What do you say?”
Harry glanced at Severus who shrugged. “You should be alright until lunch at least.”
“Alright,” Harry agreed. “Can we go now?”
“Sure thing,” Sirius said. That gave them about two hours. Harry pushed himself off the stool and was able to stand almost normally. He has not lied; the potion helped a lot.
“Floo? Or are you up for apparating?” Sirius asked.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’m fine, really. We can apparate.”
Sirius offered his arm.
“Be back in a bit, Sev,” Harry said.
Severus nodded. Harry noticed that he had become much more relaxed about that nickname after the... incident. Harry and Sirius were whisked away and appeared in a narrow, dark hallway.
“I told you it was gloomy,” Sirius said as Harry released his arm.
“I think this might top the Malfoy Manor,” Harry said with wide eyes. The fabric wallpaper was fraying in the corners, though it was not very noticeable given the scant light. Harry stepped forward and the floorboard creaked in an ominous way. There was a rug partway down the hall that used to boast rich colors but now simply looked dead. Harry wandered through the house, Sirius in tow, inspecting each room. None of them were exceptionally large but each was decorated with garish extravagance. The woodwork was trimmed in gold; far too ornate and making Harry’s eyes hurt. The carpets tried to be tasteful but failed miserably. The worst by far was the sitting room.
“What is that?” Harry asked, looking at the wall adorned with a tapestry of ivy vines and tiny faces. Sirius didn’t answer right away and Harry looked at him questioningly. His face showed nothing but disgust as he gazed at the wall.
“My family tree,” he said. “The Ancient and Most Noble House of Black,” Sirius spat bitterly.
Harry stepped closer, looking at the pictures. He recognized Draco’s mother and Lucius Malfoy but he did not see Draco. Maybe it couldn’t be updated. His eyes flitted from picture to picture, not recognizing most of them.
“You’re related to the Malfoy’s?” he asked.
“almost all pureblood families are interrelated,” Sirius responded dryly.
“That can’t be healthy,” Harry commented. “Where are you?” he asked eventually. Sirius casually pointed at a charred black hole. Harry’s brow furrowed. “You were burned off?”
Sirius shrugged. “I ran away. Disowned for not wanting to support You-Know-Who.”
“Where’d you run off to?” Harry asked. He had thought about it himself during his time at the Dursleys’ but had nowhere to go.
“Your dad’s,” Sirius said.
When he said “dad”, Harry thought, for one wild moment, of Snape. It did not take long to realize that he meant James. Blinking at the odd feeling that confusion left behind, Harry focused his gaze on the wall once more to distract himself. It just so happened that Harry’s eyes landed on a woman who looked vaguely familiar. He read the tiny tag beneath the picture.
He inadvertently read it out loud. “Lucretia Black,” he whispered.
“What’s that?” Sirius prompted curiously.
“I had forgotten...” Harry mumbled. He turned to Sirius’s questioning face. “I forgot you were related to Lucretia Black. You know, the one who Voldemort possesed a few years ago,” Harry clarified at Sirius’s confused look.
Sirius made a noncommittal noise. “Never heard that whole story. But it doesn’t surprise me; most of my family were You-Know-Who supporters, if not Death Eaters.”
“Right,” Harry said. “What made you different?”
Sirius shrugged. “I was sorted into Gryffindor, hung out with a better set of people. I never liked all that Dark stuff.”
“Good,” Harry muttered.
Sirius clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, I’ll show you the upstairs. Careful though; my mum’s pretty nasty, better be quiet.”
“Your mom lives here?” Harry asked, surprised.
Sirius gave a lopsided grin that lacked much humor. “Not exactly.”
When Harry had Flood safely back to his house, Sirius sat alone in the quiet place. It felt so gloomy. He sighed loudly, glad that in a week or two he would be at Hogwarts rather than here. Though Sirius had been so glad to leave years ago, he was itching to go back. He grinned to himself. Teaching had the potential to be very fun indeed.
Wandering over to the end table, Sirius picked up a set of matching mirrors. He moved one so that it glinted in the light. He had been planning on giving one to Harry as a communication device while he was away at school. It now seemed to be unnecessary when they would be living in the same place. That was a good thing, Sirius thought. They’d have much more time together. Perhaps he could even show Harry some of the castle’s secret passageways. That is, if he had not seen them on the map already.
Sirius set down the mirrors with a heavy feeling. He had nothing but a long day in an empty house to look forward to. Sirius briefly considered inviting Remus over but dismissed the idea quickly. It made him uncomfortable that Remus refused his offer to loan him money when he was in such dire need. Instead, he worked absurd hours at odd jobs. He was probably working now.
With nothing else to do, Sirius cracked open the large book of rules and regulations that he was expected to read. It would be tough to comply.
There was a knock on the doorframe and Harry looked up from his book.
“I wondered if you might want to get out for a bit,” Severus said. “That is, if you do not count going to Black’s.”
Harry rubbed his temples and shut the book. “Sure,” he replied. “What did you have in mind?”
“I thought I ought to go to Diagon Alley and get myself a new wand,” Severus stated.
“You never got yours back?” Harry asked in surprise. Severus shook his head. “That was over a week ago, almost two.”
“I had more important things to worry about,” he said, meeting Harry’s eyes.
Harry nodded. “Right. Well, sure, I’ll come.”
“Come drink your potion first then,” Severus said, tone leaving no room for argument.
Harry groaned. Nevertheless, he pulled himself out of the chair and followed Severus to his lab where he ladled a nice, fresh cup of the nasty liquid. With Severus watching closely, Harry made a face and tipped the cup back.
“All of it,” Severus commanded when Harry removed the cup.
Harry glared at him but finished it off.
“Thank you,” Severus said. “Come. Unless you wish to let me borrow your wand, we must Floo.”
Harry shrugged indicating he didn’t care either way. In the end, they Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron, from which, they entered Diagon Alley. The walk to Ollivander’s was slightly longer than Harry remembered and by the time they arrived, he was feeling a bit tired. He hadn’t been in the best of shape lately.
“Are you alright?” Severus asked in concern.
Unaware that he was showing his mild discomfort, Harry straightened. “Fine,” he replied curtly. Severus didn’t push it.
A set of bells rang as he pushed open the door to the wandmaker’s tiny shop and Harry followed him inside. Ollivander gazed glassily into the distance until Severus cleared his throat. The old man’s eyes cleared and he looked at the pair with interest.
“You are in here more often than most, Mr. Potter,” he said to Harry, skipping over Severus entirely. Even with Harry’s fame, people did not generally ignore Snape’s imposing figure. Harry shrugged and after a moment, Ollivander turned to Severus with a mild interest. “15 1/2 inches, Blackthorn, Dragon Heartstring, correct?”
“Yes,” Severus replied brusquely.
Ollivander scrutinized him and nodded slowly. “You are the one looking for a replacement, correct? I rather hope Mr. Potter retains his,” he said with a questioning glance at Harry.
“Yes,” Snape repeated. Ollivander shuffled off and returned with a stack of boxes.
“Black walnut, 16 inches, Unicorn tail hair,” Ollivander said, presenting a handsome wand.
Severus took hold of it and flicked it. A very weak spray of sparks came from the end.
“No, no,” Ollivander muttered. “Black Walnut is an odd wood. Loses power when its master practices deception,” he said slowly with a searching look at Severus. He did not move a muscle. “Try this one. Hornbeam.”
An unfocused bolt of light shot from the end when Severus waved it, temporarily blinding Harry.
“No,” Severus said immediately.
Ollivander shuffled a few more boxes. “15 inches, Ebony, Thestral tail hair core.”
As soon as Severus took it, Harry could tell that it was the one. The spell he cast went perfectly and he laid it in the box with a mild reverence.
“I will take it,” he said, closing the lid.
Ollivander nodded and accepted his money. Harry hesitated before asking, “What does Ebony mean?”
Ollivander gave Harry a long look. “Courage,” he stated, “Unyielding in their beliefs, refuses to be swayed.” He turned to Severus with an interested gleam in his eye. “Fabulous for combative magic.”
“Let us hope I shall not need it for such,” Severus stated dryly. “Come, Harry.”
As Harry walked to the door with Severus, he glanced back over his shoulder and found the old man staring after them with a scrutinizing look. Harry, feeling unnerved, shuffled out the door, glad to begone of that place.
“Can we stop at Gringott’s? And Madam Malkin’s?” Harry asked.
Severus gave him a sideways glance. “Madam Malkin’s, of course. Your robes are getting a little short. As for Gringott’s, I do not see the need.”
“To get money,” Harry said in a tone that implied it was obvious.
“We have had this discussion before,” Severus said in a matter-of-fact tone.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Yeah I know, the whole ‘I’m your guardian, I’ll give you money’ thing. Shouldn’t it go both ways, though? I have money, let me share it.”
“No,” Severus said simply.
“No,” he repeated. An intense look that dared Harry to challenge him closed the argument.
“Fine,” Harry huffed.
They turned at the next corner and were soon at Madam Malkin’s. There were two young Hogwarts students in front of them getting fitted for robes and Harry had to wait his turn. One of them, seemingly an incoming first-year, was seated in the waiting room across from Severus and Harry. He was staring with wide eyes at the pair of them, looking scared.
Harry glanced at Severus who seemed indifferent to the child and assumed it was his job to make the newcomers feel welcome before school.
“Hi, what’s your name?” Harry asked the little boy.
“Philip,” he stammered in a shaky voice.
“Nice to meet you, Philip, I’m Harry,” he said, extending a hand. The boy’s grip was weak when he grasped it. “You’re going to Hogwarts, right?”
“Yes,” he said politely.
“Do you know what house you’ll be in?” Harry asked conversationally, wondering if the kid was from a muggle family or not.
“Hufflepuff, I think,” Philip said, warming up to Harry a bit. Every once in a while, he would sneak a nervous glance at Severus.
Harry nodded. He jerked his head at Severus. “This is Professor Snape. He’s Head of Slytherin.”
The boy’s eyes got even wider. “N-nice to meet you, si-sir.”
Severus merely stared at the boy. Harry shook his head admonishingly. “He’s really not so bad. Don’t be scared of him.”
Severus graced Harry with a chilling glare. It didn’t bother Harry in the slightest but the boy paled.
“Philip?” a woman’s voice called from the cash register. “Ready to go?”
The boy nodded fervently and hurried to his mother so quickly, he was almost tripping over his feet.
Harry looked at Severus and rolled his eyes. “You’re didn’t make a very good impression.”
“You were trying to ruin my reputation,” Severus shot back.
“The kid was eleven!” Harry protested. “You freaked me out when I was eleven, reputation or not.”
Severus looked mildly satisfied. “I tried especially hard just for you.”
Harry huffed indignantly. “Thanks.”
“And look where that got us,” Severus said dryly.
Harry chuckled. He was going to reply when Madam Malkin waved for him to come back. He settled for shooting Severus an amused and exasperated look and leaving the room.
“That took forever!” Harry complained. “I swear next time I need robes, I’m just going to use an enlargement charm on the ones I have.”
“That would not be wise.”
“Why not?” Harry asked, plopping on the couch as Severus brushed the ash off of the hem of his robes.
“Not all charms last indefinitely,” he said by way of explanation.
“Right,” Harry said. That would make for an awkward situation if it wore off at an inconvenient time. “Is it dinner time yet?”
“It is,” Severus said, glancing at the time. He froze. “Harry, how do you feel?”
“Fine,” he replied. “Actually better than I’ve been in a little while.”
Severus inclined his head. “Interesting, seeing that you are two hours overdue for your potion. Time slipped my notice.”
Harry lifted his head off of the arm of the couch and looked at him. “Does this mean I’m better?”
He stood up and walked purposefully across the room. He felt normal. His limbs didn’t shudder or give way. Severus observed him.
“Quite possibly. One or two more doses just to be safe, I believe,” he said.
Harry grimaced. “I was hoping I’d never have to drink that stuff again.”
“It is in your best interest,” Snape said.
Harry waved him off. “I know, I know.” He grinned. “Does this mean, if I’m better, I can fly again?”
“After another day or two... I do not see why not,” Severus conceded.
Harry’s smile grew wider. “Brilliant.”
Severus looked at him and a small smile of his own tugged on the corner of his lip.