Child of Innocence

Chapter 37

Chapter 37

As tired as Harry was, he simply couldn't get to sleep that night. After an hour of staring at the ceiling, Harry wandered into the common room. Then, figuring no one would notice, he headed down to see if his guardian was still awake. The issue of Rhea weighed heavily on Harry's mind but he didn't feel like talking about it much with anyone; not with Severus or Draco. He tried to ignore it but didn't seem to be succeeding.

Harry padded down the hallway and knocked upon the door to Severus's chambers. It opened in a few seconds, leading Harry to believe that Severus had not been sleeping.

"Hi," Harry said.

Severus simply stepped out of the way, allowing Harry to enter. Harry walked inside and curled up on the couch. Severus sat down across from him.

"Is something wrong?" he finally asked.

Harry shook his head. "No. Couldn't sleep."

"Is something troubling you?"

Harry shrugged and looked at the fire, wondering why he had come if he didn't want to talk.

Thinking similarly, Severus prompted, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Harry hesitated for a moment before replying, "I thought Rhea liked me."

"I am certain she does," Severus responded easily, sitting back.

Harry looked up at him. "How do you know?"

"She showed you the Northern Lights, correct? That seems rather romantic."

It was so odd, sitting here, taking to Severus about girl troubles. Harry rubbed his hand on his robes and frowned. "But I asked her and she said we were going to start as friends.""You asked her?" Severus asked in surprise. Harry nodded sheepishly. Severus tilted his head. "Well, if you are just friends then why does this bother you?"

Harry's frown deepened. "I don't know."

Severus leaned forward and touched Harry's shoulder. "Let it go, Harry. Talk to her. Ask her. But don't be mad at her about this. Don't let it ruin your friendship. Trust me on that."

Harry looked into his guardian's eyes and could see the depth of knowledge and pain within. He was speaking with firsthand experience, Harry assumed. "Okay."

Severus nodded and sat back once more.

"Thanks," Harry said, drawing his knees tighter to his chest. His flannel pants were too short and drew up, leaving his ankles bare.

"Harry- are you hurt?" Severus asked, brows shooting up. He pointed to Harry's exposed leg where a thick streak of purple marred the skin.

"Huh?" Harry asked, looking down at the spot just above his ankle. "Oh. I didn't realize that..."

Severus shifted for a closer look. "What is it from?"

"Uh, the ice sprite touched me there before I could cast a repelling charm," Harry replied, remembering the cold touch of the creature. "It doesn't hurt."

Severus twisted Harry's leg, examining it. "It doesn't look like frostbite, quite."

"So it's like an ice burn?"

"Something similar, yes," Severus confirmed. "I will see what I have. I ought to be able to mix you a quick cream for that. Stay here."

Harry nodded; he had nowhere else to go. Harry curled in closer to the pillow and closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of the fire radiating against his back. In moments, he was asleep.

Severus returned to find Harry sleeping peacefully, nestled in the couch. He needed his rest, that much was obvious, so Severus moved quietly, reluctant to wake him. He uncapped the small tin of cream he had mixed and spread some gently across the sear. Harry didn't stir at all. Severus rose, capped the tin and sat it next to Harry, hoping he would remember to take it, to keep it here at Durmstrang with him.

Severus again took a seat by the fire and clasped his hands in front of him. The second task was over and his charge was still in one piece, in the lead, even. Still, Severus had a bad feeling about the last task. He simply couldn't believe that it would go smoothly. How could he believe that when the Dark Mark was growing darker on his arm? Something bad was coming and Severus could only hope that he was up to protecting Harry from it. For, looking at Harry now, he had no idea what he would do if he wasn't.

The next morning, Harry sat alone in the Great Hall after seeing Severus off. He picked at his food, thinking of the last time he had been in this position. He had said goodbye to Severus after the first task and then eaten breakfast with Rhea. It seemed that luck would not disappoint, for soon enough Harry heard footsteps behind him.

"Can I sit here?" a familiar, accented voice asked.

Harry merely shrugged. He could see Rhea's frown fro the corner of his eye.

"Are you okay, Harry? Were you hurt?" Rhea asked, looking at him in concern.

"Rhea, we need to talk," Harry said, turning towards her.

Rhea bit her lip. "That doesn't sound good."

Harry looked at her for a long moment. "What's between you and Bennet?"

"Nothing," Rhea replied immediately.

"Really." Harry looked at her skeptically. "Then why were you the one who mattered most to him?"

Rhea sighed and looked around at the nearly empty hall. "How much time do you have?"

"As much as I need," Harry replied, a bit confused.

"It's a long story," she warned.

"Tell me," Harry responded.

Rhea shifted in her seat. "Well, you know I'm Greek, right?" Harry nodded. She continued, "Well, my father was a wizard but my mother was not magical at all. When I was small, eight or so, he abandoned us, left my mother to take care of us. My mother was a very nice woman but she didn't have a good enough job to support us. Times were really hard and so she was forced to send Aris and I-"

"Aris?" Harry asked in surprise.

"He's my brother," Rhea replied. She cocked her head at him. "You did not know that?"

"No," Harry admitted with a frown. "I guess it just never came up."

"Anyways, she sent us to live with her cousin in Egypt. I was nine and Aris was ten. Neither of us knew about magic at that point." Rhea drew in a deep breath and continued with obvious reluctance. "One summer, Aris and I were walking home from the market when a group of thugs found us. My aunt, as we called her, was wealthy and they thought to get ransom. We struggled, naturally, we cried out. One of us, I do not know who, used unintentional magic to cut our ropes. Bennet happened to be walking by and heard us. He was older; we didn't know him. He pulled out his wand and stunned the guys, helped us escape.

"We were shaken up pretty badly. He took us back home and explained magic to us. He said we must be magical; he had seen the ropes fall. We were amazed, in awe even. So he took us under his wing. He taught us self defense, told us about magic. Bennet and Aris didn't always get along, they fought a lot. He thought of me as a sister. We were close for a while, until we got to school. I do not see him as much as I used to but that feeling obviously hasn't disappeared," she finished.

"Wow," Harry breathed. He felt ashamed. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Uh... I thought that you had lied to me. That you actually liked Bennet," Harry muttered sheepishly.

Rhea let out a twinkling laugh. "That's silly. We are okay now, then?"

"Yeah," Harry said with a smile. "Thanks for telling me. I feel a lot better now."

"Good," she replied, smiling in return.

Harry felt as if a weight had been lifted off his soul and he did, in fact, feel much better.

"Man, that's great," Sirius said as Harry spoke to him through the mirror. "Severus frozen..."

"How's that great?" Harry demanded. "I was scared to death, I thought he was dead! He was blue."

Sirius grinned. "Yeah but now I can threaten to turn him into a popsicle."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm tied for first place now, though."

"Really? I'm so proud of you, Harry. You go win this thing, you can do it," Sirius said gamely.

"Thanks," Harry replied. "Right now, the goal is to survive but winning wouldn't be half bad."

"I'll say," Sirius scoffed. "A thousand galleons? What would you do with all that?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't really need it. I've got enough in my vault and Severus won't let me spend it so..."

There was a knock from somewhere in Sirius's room. Sirius looked up and said, "Come in."

"Do you want me to go?" Harry asked.

Sirius looked back down at him. "No, no, of course not. That'd defeat the point."

Harry frowned in confusion. "What?"

Sirius gestured with his hand to whoever else was in the room. "Over here, come on, I don't bite," he said. "At least not in this form," he added under his breath.

"Yeah, sure you don't bite," a voice said sarcastically.

Harry stared at the mirror, waiting for someone to come into view. He saw a shock of red hair and then some bushy brown.

"Move over, Ron," a familiar voice complained. "I can't see."

Harry grinned. "Hermione? Ron?"

"Harry!" Hermione replied, happily, finally maneuvering the mirror so that he could see their faces.

"Hey there!" Ron added, squeezing in the frame next to Hermione. He swatted at her hair in annoyance and she tucked it behind her ear.

"How are you? Professor Snape said you weren't hurt...permanently," Hermione told him.

"I'm fine, really," Harry replied, touched by their concern.

"And how'd you do?" Ron asked eagerly.

Harry grinned. "Tied for first."


"It's so great to see you," Harry said earnestly. "How've you been?"

"Pretty good," Hermione replied. "Things are a bit boring here what with no murderers on the loose or giant snakes running around the place."

"Yeah, why'd you have to take all the trouble with you?" Ron said in a mock complaint.

"You want some back?" Harry jested.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other. "We're good, thanks," Ron replied and they all laughed.

"So what was the task, anyway?" Hermione asked.

"They froze someone important to each champion and gave them to the ice sprites. We had to rescue them."

"Who'd they freeze?" Ron asked.

"Severus, Gabrielle- Fleur's sister, Sandra and Rhea," Harry recited.

"Rhea? Your girlfriend?" Ron asked.

"She's not my girlfriend," Harry replied in exasperation. Then, he hesitated. "At least, I don't think."

"Uh oh," Hermione said with a light, teasing grin. "That's not good. The guy's always the last to know when he's in a relationship."

"How would you know?" Ron demanded.

Hermione simply shot him a superior smile.

"Well, either way, she wasn't mine to rescue," Harry said.

"That explains why Professor Snape didn't want to talk about the task," Hermione mused.

"Yeah, he wasn't exactly happy about being frozen and stuck on a mountain."

"I'd have liked to have seen that," Ron said wistfully, causing Harry to roll his eyes.

"Oh, hey, hang on one second," Harry said, thinking of something and laying the mirror down. He dashed into the common room and tapped Draco on the shoulder where he sat on the couch doing homework. "Come here, Draco," he said excitedly, leading him back to their room and picking up the mirror again.

"Hi, Draco!" Hermione said with a smile. "How are you?"

"Not bad," Draco said, matching her smile. "Wow, I never thought of this."

"Yeah, Sirius is pretty cool," Ron said. "Anything new over there?"

"Not really," Draco replied. "I mean, nothing but the tournament."Hermione glanced up at something out of the frame, then back down at the two of them. "We have to go. It's almost curfew. Sorry we didn't get to talk much, Draco."

There was something unidentifiable in Draco's eyes as he replied. "It was enough."

"Bye guys," Harry said with a small wave.

"Bye Harry, bye Draco," Hermione said.

"See you later, mates," Ron said, causing Harry to grin.

"Bye," Draco said.

They seemed to have handed the mirror back to Sirius for there was a flurry of activity in which Harry couldn't tell up from down. Sirius's face came back, smiling widely. Politely, Draco moved away to give Harry room to talk to his godfather.

"Thanks, Sirius," Harry replied with a beaming grin. "That was really great. And all the better because it was a surprise."

"I figured you deserved a reward for getting through the task," Sirius said with a wink. "You're welcome."

"Thanks," Harry reiterated. "I guess I'll talk to you again later. You're the best," Harry added.

A warmth spread into Sirius's eyes as he gave him a fond smile. "You deserve the best."

"Bye, Sirius," Harry said softly.

"Bye, Harry."Something told Harry that he wouldn't have an issue getting to sleep that night.

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