At a quarter 'til ten, Harry grabbed his thick cloak and headed to the entrance hall where he had been told by Rhea to meet. He arrived before she did and so he stood there, rocking back and forth on his heels in his restlessness.
"Hi," Rhea said, approaching from the stairs to the right.
As she stepped from the shadows, Harry replied, "Hello. Where are we going?" he couldn't resist asking.
"Have you looked outside recently?" Rhea asked casually.
Harry's brow furrowed. "No? I don't go by many windows."
"Come with me," she said, taking his hand and pulling him lightly towards the staircase.
Feeling no desire to resist, Harry allowed himself to be led up the stairs and into a dark corridor.
"I've never been up here before."
A flash of white was all that Harry could see of Rhea's smile as she replied, "Not many people know about it. It is one of my secrets."
"Oh," Harry returned, not sure how to take that. He felt as if he was violating something sacred by knowing her secret. After a few minutes of walking, Rhea stopped abruptly.
"Lumos," she said, lighting her wand.
The shadows were chased away and a wooden hatch in the roof was revealed. Rhea jumped up and expertly flipped it open, letting in a gust of cold air from the hole now in the center of the ceiling.
"Is there a ladder?" Harry asked.
"No," Rhea replied easily. "Are you strong enough to pull yourself up?" she teased.
"Er...""I'll go first then," she said with an amused smile. "I can help you up if you need it."
"I won't," Harry grumbled.
She gave a short laugh and stood directly under the hole. Being too short to grasp the lip of the hole with her feet flat on the floor, Rhea was forced to jump. For a second, Harry's heart sped as it looked as if he would miss the edge and fall back down on the hard floor. In the end, his fears were unfounded as she caught the edge and effortlessly hoisted herself up as if doing an exercise.
"Uh..." Harry said, looking up. He hoped that he was strong enough for this. After all, though Rhea was probably weaker, she also weighed less.
"Come on," Rhea urged.
Biting his lip, Harry flipped his cloak back and out of the way. He could reach the hole by standing on his toes and so he grabbed the lip and attempted to pull himself up. Through a great display of determination, Harry managed to get one elbow over the top, easing the strain somewhat. With a hand numb from digging into the snow in attempt to pull himself up, Harry accepted Rhea's offer for help. She grasped his hand tightly and pulled him the rest of the way out of the hole. Together, they fell onto the snow, panting and laughing. Harry turned his face up to the sky and gasped.
"What is that?" he asked in wonder.
"The Aurora Borealis," Rhea said proudly. "It's one of the best things about Durmstrang."
"Wow," Harry breathed. "It's... amazing."
"This is my favorite spot to watch it from," Rhea said with a grin. "Hang on though," she said, pushing herself up and casting a charm to push the snow away from a section of the roof. She then withdrew a thick blanket from her small shoulder pack and spread it out, casting a warming charm upon it. Harry joined her on it, laying back to watch the beautiful colored bands of light move across the sky.
"Thank you for bringing me up here," Harry said after a long while of silence.
"It's one of my favorite things, I wanted to share it," Rhea returned after a pause. "The northern lights."
And so Harry and Rhea laid like that for a long while, watching the sky. Rhea had curled in close to Harry for warmth. Finally, about an hour later, Harry rolled onto his stomach and looked at Rhea.
"Uh- never mind," Harry said, cutting himself off before he began.
"What?" Rhea asked.
"Nothing, I decided this wasn't a good time."
"Tell me," she urged.
"I just remembered that I told my father I'd introduce you to him," Harry said. In truth, he had gotten the thought after wishing that he could show Severus the northern lights.
Rhea gave him a quizzical look. "How are you going to do that?" she asked.
"I have a charmed mirror," Harry explained. He blushed and said quickly, "We can do it later, or not at all if you don't want to. It's just the lights made me think and-"
Rhea cut off his rambling. "Harry, relax." He closed his mouth. She looked at him oddly. "Uh, I do not mean to offend, but I thought that the Dark One killed your parents."
Harry reddened again. "He's not my real father. He adopted me three years ago." He remembered having a remarkably similar conversation with Aris at the beginning of the year.
"Ah," Rhea replied. She shrugged. "I'd love to meet him."
"Really?" Harry asked incredulously, figuring that she had said that simply because she had never seen Snape.
Harry had no reply. "Er, now?" he asked tentatively. "I thought he'd like to see the lights."
"Alright," Rhea agreed in her accented voice.
Still blinking from surprise, Harry figured he ought to take her up on the offer before she changed her mind. He dug the mirror out of the small pocket of his cloak and looked at her.
"Are you sure?" he couldn't help but ask.
Rhea nodded but looked a tiny bit wary. She sat up and moved next to him as Harry said, "Severus."
It took several moments for his guardian's face to materialize, presumably because he wasn't expecting a call.
"Harry," Severus said in greeting. "This is abnormal, is something wrong?"
There was concern in his voice and Harry thought that he should quickly alert his guardian that they were not alone, lest he reveal too much of what he considered to be embarrassing emotion.
"Everything's fine," Harry said hurriedly. "I just thought you might like to meet Rhea." Harry tilted the mirror so that both of their faces could fit within the frame. "Rhea, this is Professor Severus Snape."
"Hello, sir. My name is Rhea Sarkis," Rhea said politely.
"Pleasure to meet you," Severus said, stiffening. "Harry has told me much."
Rhea looked at Harry and Harry reddened.
"Hey, Severus look," Harry said, pointing the mirror at the sky as a distraction. "It's the Aurora Borealis."
"I have never seen it in person," Severus replied with veiled wonder. "Most impressive."
"Rhea showed me it," Harry said helpfully. Rhea shot him a look as if to tell him to stop drawing attention to her.
"Not something a Dark Wizard would generally enjoy," Severus commented dryly as the mirror was rotated down once more. "I suppose you have passed in that respect," he said to Rhea.
"Thank you, sir," she replied, for lack of anything else to say.
"Hm," Severus said, obviously judging her.
Harry gave her an apologetic look as she shifted uncomfortably.
"I will let you go now to enjoy the night," Severus said, breaking the silence. "Thank you for agreeing to meet me. It was a pleasure."
"For me as well, sir," Rhea said, smiling politely.
Severus nodded. "Goodbye, Harry," he said.
"Bye, Severus," Harry replied brightly before terminating the connection. When the mirror had returned to its normal reflective surface, Rhea relaxed.
"Thanks," Harry said. "I'm sorry about that."
Rhea leaned back on her elbows. "Where'd you meet him?" she asked in a skeptical tone.
"He's the Potions Master at Hogwarts," Harry replied.
"Is he always that friendly?" Rhea asked.
Harry grinned. "Yeah. I'm used to it though. He's really great; much better than my relatives. They were...judgmental."
"I know the feeling," Rhea commented, looking out into the sky. "But really, do you have any fun?"
Harry shrugged. "Sometimes. Anyway, I've got Sirius for that."
"Serious?" Rhea asked curiously.
"Sirius Black," Harry clarified. The look of shock that passed over her face was almost comical. "He's my godfather.""...Your godfather?"
"He's innocent," Harry pointed out.
Rhea looked skeptical.
"Really," Harry insisted. "We caught the guy who did it and Sirius was officially cleared. He teaches at Hogwarts now too. Want to call him?"
Rhea simply raised a thin brow so Harry took that as a yes. "Sirius," he said.
While they waited for Sirius to pick up, Rhea gave Sirius a sideways look. "We caught him? Is there any trouble you are not involved in?"
"Not much," Harry admitted.
Sirius answered with, "Hey there, Harry! Oh, and..."
"Rhea," Rhea supplied.
"Rhea! I remember now," Sirius said, looking sheepish. "Sorry about that."
"It is not a problem," Rhea said.
"So I finally get to meet Harry's mysterious girlfriend," Sirius said with a grin.
"She's not my girlfriend," Harry insisted.
Sirius grinned and winked at him. "And she's just as pretty as you said."
Harry closed his eyes and felt the blood rush to his face. "Sirius," he complained. When he opened his eyes, both Sirius and Rhea were laughing.
Sirius turned to Rhea. "So, playing with the mirror, are we?"
"I have just met Harry's guardian," Rhea told him.
"What'd you think? Pretty scary, huh?" Sirius asked.
Rhea glanced at Harry. "A bit intimidating, perhaps," she said.
Sirius looked at Harry. "Someone not afraid of Snape? You've found a good one, Harry," he intoned.
Rhea turned to Harry as well. "Your godfather is much like you made him seem," she said with a tilt of the head.
"How's that? What'd he say?" Sirius asked eagerly.
Rhea didn't reply, she just grinned. Harry started to grin as well, seeing what she did there.
"Bye, Sirius," Harry intoned, severing the connection.
"But what-" Sirius said before the picture cut out.
Harry and Rhea fell to laughing. "Thanks," he said to Rhea in reference to their payback of sorts.
Rhea grinned at him. "Did you really tell them I was pretty?"
Two days later, for Severus had been in a meeting that had consumed all of the evening in between, Harry sat down for his nightly conversation. At last, he broached the topic about which he had been wondering since the night on the rooftop.
"So, what'd you think?" Harry asked.
"About what?" Severus replied flatly.
Harry couldn't tell whether or not he was feigning ignorance or if he truly did not know what he meant.
"Rhea," he said, blood immediately rising to his cheeks. He forced down the blush.
Severus considered this for a moment. Harry tried to still himself while waiting for his guardian's expression of approval or lack thereof.
"What is your intention?" Severus asked.
Worried and slightly embarrassed, Harry replied. "We're just friends."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry asked with no little trepidation.
"Nothing," Severus stated. After a lengthy pause, he admitted, "I approve. She seems nice and polite. Is she intelligent?"
"Very," Harry replied.
"And it does not seem as if she is embroiled in Dark magic-"
"- and therefore, she has passed," Severus said. He studied Harry for a moment. "Were you worried?""Yes," Harry admitted. "But I don't know why."
"Would my opinion have made that much difference?" Severus asked, brows knitted. "Does my approval mean that much to you?"
"Yes," Harry said and in that moment knew it was the truth.
"I will keep that in mind, then," Severus said, obviously disturbed.
Harry didn't respond. "How'd your meeting go?" he asked, changing the topic.
Severus rubbed his forehead. "It was less than pleasant. There is much more work to be done than it seemed to be when Dumbledore was here.""Not liking being Deputy Headmaster?" Harry teased.
"It has its perks."
"Like what?" Harry asked curiously.
"I have realized that I can reverse house points rewarded by other teachers," he said with a satisfied smirk.
Harry's eyes grew wide. "You haven't, have you? Slytherin can't win the cup!"
"They cannot? Why is that?" Severus asked smugly.
Harry stared dumbfounded. "Severus!"
Severus shook his head admonishingly. "Harry, do you think me of so little moral fiber as to cheat to allow Slytherin to win the cup? I haven't changed any other teacher's points, nor do I intend to." Harry looked down, feeling bad for all but accusing Severus. That was, until Severus said, "Slytherin will win without my help."
Harry gave him a sharp look and rolled his eyes. "As if," he shot back.
Harry chuckled abruptly and he and Severus shared a look. Harry grinned, feeling, in that moment, very near content.