Madness and Mayhem - Part III
Chapter 32 - EM-E - Madness and Mayhem - Part III
Severus had kept Harry pinned to his side while they'd floo'd to the Leaky Cauldron, followed by Lucius and Remus, and he'd continued to do so until they'd reached Olivander's. Harry struggled between amusement, adoration, and outright irritation at this treatment, but kept his mouth shut, and eyes and ears open. If Severus was tense about his safety, then danger was likely. And yes, Harry also was peripherally aware of that resurfacing humm again from his wild magic. It had returned to that vague presence that Harry didn't know how to utilize. Maybe I just have to figure it out all over again.
"Ah, Mr. Potter," Mr. Olivander greeted them. He nodded to the adults. "Professors, Mr. Malfoy."
"Harry needs a new wand," Severus informed the wandmaker. "We are of the mindset that he has experienced a significant shift in his magical expression."
"Indeed," Mr. Olivander said, intrigued. "Well, let's get right to it."
Harry tried three wands that felt alright, but still somewhat off. The fourth was similar to his original, in both appearance and size, but was made of Black Walnut, rather than Holly, and had a different phoenix's feather at its core. It was the one. "It fits," he said wonderingly. "It completely feels right."
"Ring it up," Severus told the proprietor, adding dramatically, "This boy needs this wand."
Harry didn't argue with Severus about who would pay. He had a feeling that it mattered as much to Severus to be the one to buy the wand, as the gesture meant to Harry. He grinned up at his guardian, remembering the discussion they'd had earlier about what he'd call his adoptive father now, and whether he'd change his name to Snape. He was ready to call Severus Dad, but he still wanted to keep his name as Potter. He felt like he owed this to his parents' legacy, for their sacrifice. Severus had been in complete agreement on both decisions, and had even blushed slightly when Harry had said, "Well then, Dad, let's make this official."
Harry was as shocked as Severus when they arrived at the wizarding bank to find that the Weasleys, Hermione, and Neville and his grandmother were already in attendance. Narcissa Malfoy arrived a moment later with Draco.
"We're witnesses," Hermione told Harry with a look, suggesting she knew he'd be anxiously remembering the previous timeline, and fearing an attack by Wormtail while the adoption process and formalities were underway.
And she was right.
Harry gripped his left hand around this right wrist, checking and confirming the presence of his new wand, where it now resided up his sleeve.
"There you are, gentlemen," Rapthorn told Severus and Harry as he dramatically tapped his quill down to dot the final "i" in his handwritten decree of adoption, while Remus and Lucius stood by in the small chamber that constituted an office for the goblin, "your bond is legally binding. In the eyes of the law, you are father and son."
Harry thought he might cry sentimental tears, but the smile on Severus' face and the warmth in the hug he gave Harry made everything feel happy and safe.
When they stepped out of the chamber, everyone else in attendance was teary-eyed and they broke into spontaneous applause. Harry flashed a grin at Severus and received one in return. The crowd had swelled to include McGonagall, Hagrid, Tonks, and Dumbledore, and no one was happier to see the relaxed joy in Severus' expression than Albus.
"And off we must go, all of us! Madam Rosmerta is expecting us for a luncheon and festivities at the Three Broomsticks," Albus announced.
Harry sat in a booth with Hermione, Ron, and Neville. The twins and Ginny were at the table closest to them. Fred and George were currently negotiating with it magically to move it closer so that they could hear the recap of the previous night's battles firsthand.
Harry had his new wand out, resting on the table, but his fingers kept seeking it out and the thrum of his connection with it was becoming a familiar sensation. He felt infinitely better at this moment than he could ever remember feeling. His eyes wandered over to seek out Severus and he found his dad in casual, and friendly, conversation with Madam Rosmerta. She probably likes that goatee too. He grinned to himself and ducked his head so that his friends wouldn't ask him to explain his amusement.
Draco made his way over to them then, just in time to take the last seat at the combined tables. He'd actually smiled a genuine smile when he'd congratulated both Harry and Severus earlier, but the trademark smirk was back. Harry was finding it less annoying these days.
"So, you've gotten that creepy bastard out of your head, then?" Draco asked Harry.
"Which one?" Ron asked ironically.
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, it's just me in my thoughts now. Rather strange, actually."
"So," Fred and George said simultaneously, "what's this about your dad being able to fly, Harry?"
"You were right, Harry, I have started to see Snape as brilliant. Wicked brilliant," Ron admitted.
But Harry was suddenly less interested in talking about circumstantial things when there was still danger to face. "Did Remus show you three how to grab each others deflected spells?" he asked his friends. "I hadn't really seen anything like that until the dreamteam did it against Dolores and Dolohov."
"Yes, he taught us one night after a DA meeting. You'd already left with Professor Snape," Hermione told Harry. She was sensing Harry's building tension. "So… what's happened to you magically, since last night?"
Harry kept his eyes on his best friend so that he would't be obligated to acknowledge the questioning looks from the twins or Ginny. He figured Neville had to have some sort of clue about the horcruxes at this point, having witnessed the destruction of the cup, but he actually had no idea what Neville knew about the divot. "Well, I can't shield myself or others in that strong way any longer," Harry admitted. "I'm trying not to panic about that, actually. I'd gotten used to feeling confident that I could manage if I was caught on my own."
"But now you're just like the rest of us, Potter," Draco said, holding Harry's gaze in a challenging way.
"I'm not going to make up a secret language with you, Malfoy," Harry snarked to hide his fear. "Protect your own turtle."
Draco barked a laugh, while the others all had annoyed what's that supposed to mean? looks on their faces.
"They are finally friends," Narcissa commented about Draco and Harry to Lucius as Draco's laugh drew her attention to her son.
The two adult Malfoys had taken a small table in the quiet corner, opposite the one where the teens were currently gathered, to minimize overlap with the numerous Weasleys in the room. At this point, this was a gesture of consideration, and not as much of a deliberate attempt to avoid them. Although admittedly, both senior Malfoys found the family to be particularly rambunctious. Lucius had carefully cultivated a relationship with Bill Weasley, and now Ronald, but there were many, many more of them, and he was not certain he had the drive to make the attempt.
And he was aware that he was entirely to blame for this.
"So, come by and see me, some night soon, Severus," Rosmerta said with a sly gleam in her eye as she left to return her attention to serving patrons.
Severus smiled mildly, watching her for a moment longer. When he returned his thoughts to the present he was facing a smirking Lupin. "Wolf," he acknowledged.
"Severus," Remus said. He realized he should not indulge the temptation to provoke Severus on the subject of attractive witches, lest he leave himself open to the potion master's insights on Dora. "I wanted to say congratulations," he said, holding out his hand and squeezing Severus' hard when they shook. Severus tilted his head and narrowed his eyes until Remus added sincerely, "This is a good day. A very good day." Now Remus could pat himself on the back for inducing a small smile from his former schoolmate.
"You've no concerns of what they'd be thinking?" Severus asked as they released their grips on each others hands.
"None," Remus said. "And you are happy. It was already visible, in spite of your efforts to hide it."
Severus eyed Lupin warily for a moment, but the truth and the friendship were strong enough to overcome his reserve. "I've been less and less inclined to see the doom that I believed the world to hold." He narrowed his eyes. "And so have you."
"Yes," Remus agreed. "In spite of the fact that it's not over, and the peril is still nearly as strong."
"Yes. In spite of that."
"Professors," Augusta Longbottom said in her brusk manner from behind Severus. He turned and nodded to her as she smiled at them both. "I wanted to thank each of you for the influence you've had over Neville."
"Your grandson has come into his own, Madam Longbottom," Severus said with shallow bow.
"He's grown tremendously adept with his magic in a very short time," Remus added, also dipping into a bow.
"It's about time," the elderly witch groused, but she had a prideful twinkle in her eyes nonetheless. "I had nearly given up hope."
"That's usually when things tend to change for the better," Remus replied, winking at Severus and inducing exactly the annoyed response he'd intended.
"So how long will Hogwarts be shut down?" Neville asked, directing the question at Harry. He took a sip of his butterbeer.
"I was hoping you all would know," Harry said with a self deprecating smile. "I've been a bit distracted. I don't even know what Dumbledore's plan is."
"He's going to do a thorough search through the school and grounds for Wormtail," Ron said.
"Although we all know the map-" Fred started.
"…would show him if he's anywhere but the-" George added.
"…Room of Requirement," they finished together.
"It's bloody creepy thinking he's been in there, all this time, while we've messed around with dueling before school started, and had the DA sessions," Harry said. "It doesn't seem likely that he could have watched us, though, without us knowing he was there… right?" He looked around at them all. "I really hate him."
"He's easy to hate, that one," Fred concluded.
"You need to spend some time refining your casting with that wand," Severus said to Harry after the party, and as they stepped over the threshold into the school's entrance.
"But not in the ROR," Harry replied in disgust.
"We've got the Arts of Defense Room," Remus reminded them.
"How soon before the search for Wormtail gets underway?" Harry asked, and kept his wondering if he'd be allowed to participate to himself. He didn't yet know how much he could actually contribute to the effort. He'd done so much mixing in of wild magic with his defensive casting recently, he couldn't say how powerful he was on his own at this point.
"You will not be involved," Severus said sternly.
"Yeah," Harry said sarcastically, "kind of figured that one out on my own."
"You'll survive," Severus said. He pulled Harry to him for a hug and swatted him lightly while he was at it. "Go ahead and get started in the new practice room. I'll join you shortly."
"Alright," Harry said, but he held onto Severus for a few more moments. "Thank you for my wand."
"You are welcome," Severus said over the lump in his throat, still reacting with sentimental surprise when Harry held onto him like he was now doing.
When he did pull away, Harry flashed a grin at at his dad, and then to Remus, who had just announced he would duel with Harry.
"Well done!" Remus laughed when Harry successfully shielded against literally every spell he'd casted at the boy.
But Harry wasn't all that thrilled. He'd not sensed his wild magic at all while they'd sparred. "I guess I'd better face facts that I need to relearn some stuff. Will you show me how to catch and deflect a spell, like you did with Severus last night to Dolohov?"
Remus had a knack for teaching this type of technique, and in a matter of minutes, Harry had picked up the new method of defense. He reminded himself that the more he tried out now, the more he'd remember to use if he came up against Wormtail on his own. But he was starting to succumb to a feeling of defeat.
"What's on your mind, Harry?" Remus asked when they'd stopped for a drink of water.
"I'm going to sound like a whinging adolescent," Harry said in his best Severus impersonation. "But…"
"You're bothered about the loss of your wild magic."
"Well, yeah," Harry said defensively, but he caught himself and shook his head. "It's more than that, though. Now I'm pretty certain that I found mine because of my connection to Voldemort, and only because he'd found his. We both started to play with it at the same time and I think I bested him that day when he had me and Lucius, simply because I thought of some way to use it before he did. So now, I've lost the connection, and lost the ability to use it. But I can still sense it." He looked up at Remus. "I want it back. Not to make me stronger and more superior to others, but to make me safe."
"I understand that, Harry," Remus said. "And I genuinely hope you can reclaim it, and this time, you will know for certain that it's entirely yours."
A large group met in the Great Hall for dinner that evening, before the first official sweep of the school was to be enacted. Numerous copies of the Evening Prophet circulated while they ate, and a copy finally made it's way down to the end, where Harry sat with his adult mentors. He'd been too consumed by hunger to care about the chatter among the aurors, teachers and Order members who lined the table. But now that he'd had two helpings of dinner and was moving on to dessert, the source of their conversations had landed in front of him:
SHOWDOWN AT HOGWARTS!
SCHOOL CLOSES AFTER MAJOR CONFRONTATION WITH ESCAPED CONVICTS AND STAFF!
It appears that the claims made by The Boy Who Lived and Albus Dumbledore last summer, in which both had declared You Know Who had been resurrected, may indeed have some merit. Perhaps. Harry Potter also claimed at that time that a childhood friend of his father's, one Peter Pettigrew, had faked his own demise to frame Sirius Black for the mass murder that the notoriously escaped convict had been imprisoned for, without trial, in 1981. Might Sirius Black have been forced to suffer unjustly for over twelve years in Azkaban before his escape? One must wonder…. was he indeed innocent of that heinous crime? This question comes to light after this distinguished reporter received notice of several substantiated eye-witness sightings of Pettigrew from both aurors and wizard citizens, and indeed even a couple of muggles. Each of these sitings apparently occurred in recent weeks.
Pettigrew is also purported to have attacked Harry Potter at Hogwarts on two separate occasions, just this past Sunday night. It is also alleged that the supposedly no longer deceased Pettigrew aided the escape of Azkaban prisoners, bringing them to the school to join in the fray. The escapees were all recaptured after unsuccessful attacks on professors and school security officials. Headmaster Dumbledore has consequently closed down the school to be certain the rogue Peter Pettigrew does not linger on the grounds, although one must wonder how such a wizard could have found access to the school, what with all of its powerful warding. Albus Dumbledore has long contended that Hogwarts is the safest place from the likes of dark wizards in Wizarding Brittain, but apparently he was mistaken, if these sightings of Pettigrew were indeed real.
That being said, if Pettigrew lives on, he is still at large, and is to be considered extremely dangerous.
"Why don't they make up their minds?" Harry griped. "Are we lying, or aren't we? And why am I reading this rubbish?" This was not the way he wanted to see Sirius get exonerated. "And why is my adoption story on page 23 with the gossip column?"
The sweep yielded no results on that first night, nor did anything come to light over the next four laborious attempts in as many days. "I will have to reopen the school with a disclaimer," Albus admitted with a sigh.
HOGWARTS REOPENS. NO REASSURANCE OF SAFETY FOR STUDENTS
This distinguished reporter finds herself in a state of indignant shock at the vague indifference shown to the students of Hogwarts, as the question of the whereabouts of Peter Pettigrew remains unanswered. In Albus Dumbledore's own words, "The teachers and staff of Hogwarts have pledged to defend their students at risk of their own safety against predators within our walls. Indeed, many have already demonstrated that they are more than capable of doing just this. In the event that the Ministry of Magic is recovering from a crippling bout of corruption, we must all take responsibility for our own safety as a society. But alas, life must go on. I do not wish for the students to be deprived of their education any longer. Classes will resume on Monday, the twenty-eighth of January. And we will continue to utilize the ongoing presence of additional security for the school, as well as the emphasis of defense in our curriculum."
Harry saw the headline but refused to read the rubbish-laden blather of that distinguished reporter. Bloody Rita Skeeter. She's distinguished, all right.
He was ready for school to resume. There'd been no sign of Pettigrew and Harry had begun to get used to feeling calmer. He'd had plenty of opportunity to practice magic with his new wand, and was at the point where he could no longer recall the way his other one had felt when he'd used it. The reality that he truly was his own person was slowly settling in, and now he wanted to get to have some normalcy again. He wanted to play quidditch, for one thing. And study to get high marks. And to hang out with his friends some more, although he was by no means tired of the easy routine he'd had with Severus this past week. Remus had gone out to fly with him and chase the practice snitch around every day, so Harry was feeling much more balanced in his life. As in, he was living like a normal kid - like his peers had always done. He had a dad now. He belonged to someone who loved him.
Dumbledore had promised that quidditch could resume in early February, which was this coming weekend, and Harry was ready.
By the time I play again, I'll be legally emancipated, even though I'm also legally Severus' son. Who'd have thought it?