Everyone in the room was in stunned silence. He had only been gone two hours. What could have possibly happened within that time span that would result in this reaction from the boy? Severus reached back and removed the child's arms from around him. Moving his hands to his upper arms, Severus stood Harry to arms length.
“What is going on?” Severus asked.
Harry shook his head.
“Ron and Harry had a disagreement,” Arthur said, standing next to Minerva in the doorway towards the kitchen.
Before anyone could respond to Arthur's comment, the floo rang. Molly came out of the kitchen, the twins standing behind her.
“Arthur, Molly,” Albus called out from the green flames.
Severus pulled Harry closer towards him as Arthur walked over towards the hearth.
“Yes, Albus,” Arthur said, kneeling in front of the flames.
“May I impose on you and Molly to host an Order meeting at your house?”
Everyone looked at each other. Molly walked over to her husband and put her hand on his shoulder.
“Sure, Albus. When?”
“Within the hour, if that is alright?” Albus responded.
Arthur nodded without hesitation.
“Sounds fine, Albus. See you soon.”
The green flames died out. For a second everyone looked at each other, then Molly clapped her hands.
“Alright,” she said. “If I'm going to have guests at my house, then we'll need to tidy up. Hermione, would you be a dear and you and Ginny help me in the kitchen? Fred, George, straighten up in here for me. Harry, Ron, go out to the shed in the back and bring in more chairs.”
Ron was about to protest about going outside, when Molly, still standing next to her youngest son, cupped his face and kissed him on the forehead. She whispered in his ear and walked off. Ron watched his mother leave back into the kitchen and then saw Harry standing next to Snape. Harry looked over at Ron and then walked out of the house. Ron followed.
Outside Harry and Ron walked towards the shed in silence. Once at the door, Ron opened it and headed towards the back were the extra chairs were leaning against the wall. Harry looked at his best friend and wanted to say something, but the words just wouldn't come out. He knew that Ron was angry with him. He didn't blame him for slamming him against the wall. Harry remembered punching Ron. He just hoped that deep down Ron would forgive him for what he did. He didn't want to lose his friendship. Ron, grabbing two chairs under his arms, walked back out of the shed and passed Harry without saying a word. Harry felt a slight panic that he really did lose his friend when Ron ignored him. Sighing, Harry walked into the shed and grabbed his own pair of chairs and headed towards the house.
On the second trip to the shed, again, no words were said. Ron was reaching for the next set of chairs when a pop startled him into dropping the chairs on the ground.
“What are you two up to?”
“Fred, George, would you stop doing that?” Ron sounded exasperated. Ever since his twin brothers got their apparation licenses they have been popping in on Ron all summer.
Harry, for his part, jumped a little in surprise when the twins just materialized in front of him.
“So have you two made up, yet?” George asked.
“I have nothing to say to him,” Ron fumed, picking up the chairs that he dropped when Fred and George came into the shed.
“I think you do,” Fred said. All jovial tones were gone from him. He stood in front of Ron, blocking his path.
George walked over to Harry, put his arm around his shoulders and walked him towards his brothers.
“Listen, Ron,” Harry started. “I'm sorry I hit you. I feel really bad about it.”
Ron looked at Harry with contempt. He was hurt. It wasn't about the punch. It was more than that. Harry really hurt him and it was going to take time for him to ever forgive what he had done.
Fred nudged Ron with his elbow on his side. Ron nudged back and walked closer to Harry.
“You apologized.” Ron growled. “You feel better now? We have to get these chairs into the house before the meeting. Stop wasting time.” He pushed past Harry and George and headed towards the house.
Harry felt the burn in his throat as he realized that he truly lost his best friend. With a heavy sigh, Harry grabbed the last two chairs from the corner of the shed and carried them to the house. After depositing the chairs where Molly wanted them, Harry walked upstairs and instead of going to Ron's room, where he would usually stay when he came over, he went to Charlie's room, where he woke up that morning.
Severus, Sirius and Remus watched the interaction between the teens and knew that there was a riff between them. Severus hoped that it would go back for the child. He knew that before the school year was out, Harry was going to need all his friends around him.
Harry was sitting on the bed when there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Harry quietly replied.
Hermione walked in the room and closed the door behind her.
“You okay, Harry?” she asked, sitting down on the bed next to him.
“I really messed things up, 'moine.”
“Harry, what happened?”
Harry told his friend everything that happened from when he arrived last night to the confrontation with Ron at the stairs.
“So wait a minute,” Hermione finally said after a few moments of silence, trying to understand what Harry said. “You, Sirius, and Professor Snape all came here at the same time.”
“I thought Professor Snape and Sirius couldn't stand each other. And anyway, Professor Snape doesn't like you, why was he here? Why weren't you just with Sirius?”
“He does like me,” Harry yelled.
Taken aback, Hermione looked at Harry with a stunned expression.
“Sorry,” Harry mumbled. “I was originally with Snape before Sirius. He doesn't hate me like everybody thinks.”
“Maybe, now. I mean that's all you've been saying for the past four years.” Hermione's brow furrowed, trying to understand her friend.
“Well, he doesn't hate me anymore,” Harry conceded. “So please stop saying that he hates me.” Harry's voice shook a little.
Hermione studied Harry for a second.
“Okay, Harry,” Hermione said. “I won't say it again.”
“Thank you,” came his quiet reply.
They were quiet for a moment before Hermione spoke again.
“What's really going on with
“What do you mean?” Harry looked over at her.
“There is something different about you. Come to think of it, there is something different about Professor Snape as well.”
“What are you talking about? There's nothing different about us.”
“Besides the fact that he doesn't hate you.”
“I'm just saying,” Hermione said, raising her hand to stop his reply. “Two months ago, he was the Greasy Git of the Dungeons, according to you and Ron. Now he's your professor. So something had to have happened for that to occur.”
Harry wondered how much he should tell Hermione. Actually he was having a hard time believing what he remembered from his dream he had last night.
“If I tell you something,” Harry said, in a low voice, “will you promise not to hate me too?”
“Why would I hate you?”
“Does Ron know the whole story?”
“Then Ron doesn't hate you,” Hermione justified.
“Okay,” Harry started. “Last week, two Dementors came to Little Whining and attacked me.”
“Oh Harry.” Came Hermione's horrified reply.
“Professor Snape was the one that saved me. I was hurt from my cousin, and I got sick. Professor Snape saved me, again. The next thing I know, I'm waking up in the Infirmary.” Harry unconsciously pulled his black bear in his lap and was embracing it. This didn't go unnoticed from Hermione.
“After that, Dumbledore said that I had to go back and that Professor Snape had to take me. So I got dressed and walked out of the school with him to the apparition point. But he didn't take me to my relatives. He took me to his house. He took care of me. He held me when I was scared. He gave me medicine while I was sick. And he called Sirius when he knew there was no way that I could stay with him alone, safely.”
“Okay, so what happened?”
“I went back to my relatives house. Sirius stayed with me. I even stood up to my aunt and uncle.” Hermione nodded, but didn't respond. “Then they were killed. Sirius got me out of there before they even got to my room. And we came here.” Harry shrugged his shoulders at the end. His arms still wrapped tightly around the black bear.
“So, Professor Snape took care of you,” Hermione said. “Why would you think that Ron hates you because of that?”
“When we got here, I was downstairs with Sirius and Snape, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Fred and George grabbed me and brought me upstairs. I thought I was kidnapped until I found out where we landed. All I wanted was to get back downstairs, but first they stopped me and then Ron. I was getting angry and I didn't really know why, but I was becoming furious. I know I shouldn't have hit him, but he wouldn't move. Hitting Ron was the last thing I remember.” Harry's grip tightened around the bear.
“Harry,” Hermione's voice was soft. “Where did you get the bear?”
Harry froze. He just realized that he was holding the bear. His cheeks turned pink as his ears felt like they were going to burn right off of his head from embarrassment.
“Professor Snape,” Harry answered, quietly.
The fire turned green and Albus walked through the floo, but he wasn't alone. Aberforth walked in right behind him. There were a bunch of shocked faces in the room from both sides. Albus and Aberforth were shocked to see Minerva, Remus, and Sirius, even Snape. Everyone who was in the Weasley living room were shocked as well. The last thing they thought they would see was Albus and Aberforth in the same room.
“Well,” Albus recovered from his stunned silence first. “Let's get started. Molly, if you please.”
Albus held out his hand towards the Weasley matriarch. Molly led the way towards the kitchen where her table was enlarged to accommodate the number of adults sitting.
Albus and Aberforth sat next to each other. Remus sat next to Aberforth with Sirius on the other side of him. Minerva sat across from Sirius with Severus sitting next to her. Arthur sat at the head of the table, where he usually sat with Molly on his right, next to Severus.
“Kingsley and Alastor should be here soon,” Albus said. “I sent word that they should come here.”
“The wards will allow them to pass through,” Arthur informed him. “Shall we wait or get started?”
“It will be best to get started. Many things have happened that needs to be dealt with,” Albus said, looking at Severus. Severus met his gaze, eyes never wavering.
“Where's Harry?” Albus' steel blue eyes boring their way into Severus.
“Safe,” was Severus' one word reply.
The only response was Albus raising an eyebrow. The silence between everyone lingered. A rap on the door brought everyone out of their own thoughts as Arthur rose to the door. Moments later, he came back with Shaklebolt and Moody following.
“Ah,” Albus said, smiling. “Perfect timing. You can take him.”
“What?” Sirius asked
“What are you talking about?” Molly said at the same time.
Minerva hand gripped her son's hand that was on his lap, tightly. The confusion in the room grew as Shaklebolt came closer towards Severus and Minerva.
“Touch my son, and it will be the last thing you do,” Minerva said, quietly. The only ones that heard her were Severus, Shaklebolt and Remus.
Shaklebolt stopped his advancing and looked at the Dumbledore brothers. Albus nodded and Shaklebolt went to lay a hand on Severus shoulder, well almost. Before his hand could touch the Potion Master, he was thrown across the room, past Alastor and Arthur, and into the living room.
Minerva's eyes bore into the Headmaster's eyes.
“I was not kidding.” Her tone did not waver. “Touch my son, and it will be the last thing you do.”
Albus looked at his Deputy Headmistress and they looked at each other for a moment as if having a silent conversation.
Albus was trying to get her to understand and she was not changing her mind. Albus knew that once the fierce lioness had her cubs around her, she was a force to be reckoned with. With a dip of his head, Minerva sighed, letting go of her son's hand from under the table.
“Now,” Minerva's eyes soften a little. “Why are you trying to take my son away?”
Everyone around the table looked from Minerva to Albus in an amused fascination. No one at the table ever witnessed anyone getting the better of Albus.
Severus was the only one not looking at his mother. Deep down he smirked at the protectiveness of his mother and at first he wondered why she had gripped his hand the way that she did, but when he felt the magic over him, he knew now wasn't the time to try to get answers, not yet.
“Number 4 Privet Drive and Grimmuald Place were destroyed,” Albus said.
“And what does that have to do with my son?” Minerva's voice was still calm.
Instead of answering Minerva's question, Albus looked at Severus and asked again, “Where is Harry?”
Before Severus could open his mouth, a herd of footsteps came down the stairs.
“Potter,” Severus called out. “Back upstairs.” he ordered.
Harry stopped in his tracks, with Hermione and Ron on his tail. They were in shock at what they were seeing.
“That's Shaklebolt,” Ron said, amazingly. “He works with dad.”
The trio looked at the unconscious man that laid in a crumpled heap in the front doorway.
“Upstairs,” ordered Severus.
The three went back upstairs, hearing their Potion professor's tone.
Hearing the ascending footfalls, Severus looked at Albus and said, “He's safe.”
“Come back, children,” Albus called out.
Again, there were sounds of a herd of hippogriffs coming down the stairs. Severus shook his head. Standing in the doorway were the younger Weasleys; the twins, Ron and Ginny, Hermione and Harry was standing almost behind Hermione and Ginny as if he was trying to hide.
“Come in,” Albus beckoned.
They all walked in, but Harry stayed in the doorway. For the first time Severus looked over at Harry. Their eyes met and Severus nodded. Harry walked in the room. No one missed the silent conversation that went between the dour Potion master and The Boy Who Lived.
Harry walked over towards his Head of House and looked at the Headmaster.
“Harry, my boy,” Albus' eyes twinkled as he looked at the child. “How long have you been here?”
Harry looked at Severus, then over at Sirius and Remus, before setting his gaze back to the Headmaster.
“We got here last night,” Harry said. “Someone broke into the house and Sirius saved me.”
“So you were at your relatives house?” Albus asked.
“Yes, sir,” Harry answered, slowly getting closer towards his Potions professor.
“Now, that your questions have been answered,” Minerva said. “You mind telling me what this has to do with my son?”
All the children couldn't help the surprised looks on their faces as their eyes went from their Head of House to their most feared professor. The only one of the children that didn't look surprised was Harry, for he already knew and Hermione didn't miss the not so shocked look on Harry's face compared to her's and the other Weasleys'.
Albus didn't answer her, instead he stood. “Harry, will you come with me?
“Yes, sir,” Harry hesitatingly said.
Albus walked out of the room and pass the still unconscious Shaklebolt that was still on the floor. Harry looked at Hermione and Ron, then followed his Headmaster out of the house. They walked over towards the shed. Albus transfigured a rock on the ground into a bench and sat down. He watched as Harry walked closer towards him.
“Have a seat, my boy,” Albus said. Harry sat down next to him. “Can you tell me what happened last night at your relatives?”
“It was just another night, when I heard a crashing sound that woke me up. I then heard the killing curse and they were looking for me, I think.”
“Did you see who it was?” Dumbledore asked.
“No, sir,” Harry answered. “I only heard their voices. I know it was a man and a woman, but that's it.”
“Now, we need to place you somewhere safe,” Albus said.
“I am safe now,” Harry's voice rose a little.
“I'm not sure of that,” Albus countered.
“If you let me stay at Hogwarts, none of this would have happened. I'm safe here. I'm always safe at the Burrow.” The anger that Harry was feeling last night was bubbling up in his belly.
“Calm down, my boy,” Albus placated.
“No,” Harry tried to stand, but found that he was stuck to the bench. His anger quickly dissipated, when he found he couldn't move. “What's going on?”
“Nothing is going to happen to you, child,” Albus soothingly said. “This is for your own protection.”
Harry's brow furrowed as he tried to squirm off the bench. The anger he was feeling was completely gone and there was nothing but fear in the child's eyes.
Severus was standing in the doorway of the house. He couldn't hear what was going on, but he could see Harry squirming on the bench. Sirius came up behind him.
“Something interesting?” Sirius asked.
Severus looked at Sirius then back at Harry.
“Something's not right,” Severus said, quietly.
“He's with Albus,” Sirius said.
“Yeah, the same Albus that wanted him to go back to his relatives.”
Sirius looked at Severus and then out to the two on the bench. Sirius transformed to the dog and ran out of the house. Quietly walking towards them once he got closer towards them, Snuffles kept low to the ground.
“Now that you do not have the protection from the Blood wards, you need to be someplace safe.”
“I'm safe here,” Harry argued.
“Yes, you have been safe here in the past, but you also stayed with your relatives for a while so the protection was there, and your aunt and cousin were still alive.”
“I'm not leaving here,” Harry said with finality.
“I am not saying that you have to leave, but that another protection warding needs to be put on you.”
“What kind of protection warding?” Harry stopped squirming and looked at the Headmaster.
“Magical bonding,” Albus said. “It's a kin to a parental bond.”
“Who would do this bonding me?”
Harry began shaking his head when he heard a rustle. He looked over and saw Snuffles walking towards him.
“Sirius there is no need for you to be here,” Albus said to the dog.
Snuffles walked over to Harry and sat down. With a slight tilt of his head, he just stared at the Headmaster. Albus was about to say something else when more rustling got his attention. Severus and Remus were walking towards them.
“Is everything alright?” Remus asked.
“Yes, of course,” Albus replied.
Severus walked over to Harry and placed
his hand on his shoulder. Harry looked up at the Potions master and
stood up with no problem.
“Go back to the house, Harry,” Severus said, pushing Harry towards the direction.
The usual twinkle that was in the Headmaster eyes was completely gone when he saw Harry stand up. Albus knew that Harry should not have been able to stand until he was released. There was only one way that could have been circumvented.
It couldn't be possible, Albus thought as he looked at Severus.
Severus walked back towards the house with the wolf and mutt next to him, leaving Albus on the bench alone.
The magic was rolling off of Albus in waves. His anger was at a new level. Albus stood up. As he did, the bench he was sitting on blasted into dust. He wanted Severus under his thumb. He wanted Harry to follow him blindly. What he didn't want was for Severus to have a foothold on the war. And having Harry follow the potions master, meant that he would follow Severus and not Albus. Hating that he couldn't just leave, Albus slowly made his way back into the house.