Chapter 3: Information
By the end of the first lesson, the story of Harry Potter attacking the fourth-years spread around. As Ginny heared it, most were under the impression that Harry was merely defending his Head of House, since it was common knowlegde at Hogwarts, that Harry was on very good terms with Snape – Snape even being very fond of him. As she was leaving her class, several girls have asked her a few questions regarding the scary Slytherin. Ginny had nothing to say, other than what happened – keeping her confused thoughts and the fact that she was engaged to him a secret.
"Oh, I really pity the poor girl who is engaged to a monster like him."wailed one of the Ravenclaws with whom she had her class with, as the students exited the classroom.
Ginny instantly felt a pang of unease. Though addmitedly, she felt that calling Harry a monster was overstating the case.
"I don´t think she´s right... maybe the girl who is with him would find herself luckier than people might think..."said a dreamy voice behind her.
Ginny spun around to see her friend – Luna Lovegood walk after her, her arms carrying books and a slight smile on her face. Ginny waited for her and gave her a matching smile.
"What d´you mean, Luna?"
"Well... I don´t think he´s a monster... I think that if he was so fiercely defending his most favourite teacher, he can´t be all bad... and imagine how fierce he would be defending the girl he loves... it would make me feel very safe around him..."
Ginny almost gasped. She spent the entire lesson thinking whether he was defending her or Snape, but couldn´t come to a straight answer. Nevertheless Luna´s comment seemed to have stirred something. Having his intimidating side directed at others but NOT at her seemed... well... in a way... appealing to her.
"What... do you think about him, Luna?"she whispered to her compagnion as they moved along the corridor.
"Miss Lovegood."sounded a deep voice behind them.
Both girls turned around and saw a tall, slim, black-skinned older boy walking to them with a grace in his steps. His Slytherin uniform was neatly smootheded, giving an perfect appearance. He had short hair and a thin face, but it sported a slight smile as he came to them and made a small bow. Luna´s eyes instantly sparkled in recodnition, an astonished smile forming on her lips.
"I realize, that you have a lesson to get to, but if I could have the slightest moment of your time, please... I would like to speak to you about our... situation."said Blaise in a calm, pleasant and nonchalant voice.
Ginny was frozen on the spot. Luna was engaged to Blaise Zabini – one of Harry Potter´s friends?! As she looked at Luna, she noticed that Luna had a surprised look on her face, before blinking a few times and dissolving into a long, overjoyed giggle.
"I was afraid I would have to approach you first..."she said still giggling.
Blaise smiled brightly and shook his head.
"´Tis only polite that the boy should make the first move, my dear... Shall we...?"he asked, offering his arm, to which Luna gave another girly giggle as she took it.
"Excuse us, Miss Weasley."said Blaise with a slight smile.
"See you in class, Ginny."said Luna and Ginny was surprised to hear a slightly bubbly tone in her voice as she left the opposite way with Blaise.
For the second time today, she remained on the spot, absolutely confused. Racking her brains, she remembered that Blaise was rumored to think of himself as nothing short of a noble-man, having an incredibly famous (or infamous) mother, who was a member of the Wizarding High Society. The fact, that HE approached Luna (the girl with the reputation of being the wierdest girl at Hogwarts) without the slightest hint of shame or resentment – quite the opposite actually, left Ginny once more stunned. What in the name of Merlin´s soggy underpants was going ON in here?!
By the time the classes were over for the day and she was stuck with a pile of homework – thank God it was Friday and she had the weekend free – Ginny slumped on a sofa in the Gryffindor Common Room. The ton of homework was the last of her worries right now, though. She had asked a few of the teachers she knew and loved about Harry and what they told her didn´t move her forward much, nevertheless surprised her immesnly. Nor did questioning of some of the students she knew help much. Most of the rumors discribed him as a completly heartless person, who would be better avoided. And by tonight she will have to speak to him about their engagement...
"What´s up with you, Ginny? You look tense..."asked a voice she knew well.
Neville had joined her on the sofa, looking a lot better today. Something, which Ginny pointed out before she could help it. Neville smiled slightly.
"Well... I´ve finally had a decent night´s sleep for a change and I´ve had a small talk with Hannah Abbot."
As he said it, his smile grew larger and he spaced out for a bit – suddenly he looked exactly like the boy she came to know so well over the years. Ginny quickly grinned, knowing what that means.
"Oh... spoken to your happy fianceé, have you?"she teased slightly, but was very happy about it, since she was one of the rare few, who knew that the two were crushing on eachother last year.
Sure enough, Neville blushed and gave her a sheepish grin.
"F...for some reason being around her... well it... it makes everything better... She´s happy about it too..."
Ginny smiled radiantly. At least the Ministry managed ONE good match-up.
"I´ve also owled Alice and Aunt Lily telling them about everything... You won´t believe who Alice ended up with..."he said with a smile.
Ginny quickly looked to him for an answer.
"Fred."he said simply, grinning as Ginny gasped.
Alice Potter was engaged to her brother... this was, in her eyes another cute match-up. They were the same age, played for the Gryffindor Quiddich Team together, Alice even helped Fred and George with pranks. And when she dated Oliver Wood in their fifth year, Fred confessed to Ginny about harbouring feelings for her, though never sure whether they would work out or not.
"Amazing..."she breathed, happy for her brother.
Neville nodded smilingly.
"Alice is over the moon too... turns out she felt something for him as well. Heh... in fact, she was all for getting married straight away, but Auntie Lily beat her down a bit, saying that they should at least date for a month or so."
Ginny laughed happily along with Neville – that was very much like Alice all right. Lily Potter often had to be the voice of reason especially when Alice and James got too excited over something. Ginny thought that now was as good time as any to ask.
"And what about your... other sibling?"she asked gently.
Neville´s happy face instantly changed to an ugly scrowl.
"What about him?!"he murmured, looking the other way.
Ginny bit her lip.
"Aren´t you or Alice the least bit curious about who he ended up with?"
"Why should we even care? Not like he would tell us in the first place... its always been just him and his snake-mates..."
Ginny frowned. This was pretty much consistent with what she heared from the students.
"What is it between you guys, Neville. I mean sure... I don´t imagine you guys being adorable to eachother or anything, but you´re family..."she asked, knowing that his Godparents always treated him as one of their own.
"Look Ginny, he´s a cold-hearted snake... he doesn´t even spend holidays around the Cottage much and when he does he´s always locked in his room. Always has his nose in books or notes and doing God-knows-what, being all secretive... plus there are a few things I´m not supposed to talk about... some things that I´ve come to know since our second year..."
Ginny shuddered remembering her first year at Hogwarts... Riddle´s diary... the Chamber of Secrets... the basilisk´s victims (lucky no one died)... her being possesed by the diary... the frantic student search for the Heir of Slytherin... Lockhart´s duelling club and the incidents there... suddenly she gasped, remembering an ability both Neville and Harry were forced to use after Lockhart´s clumsy use of a Vanishing spell multiplied a snake Draco Malfoy had counjured up in anger, both snakes angry as hell and made to attack two students...
"He´s a Parselmouth..."she breathed remembering, since she was one of the students who were present at the incident.
She remembered oh so well, that in that time there were only two suspects in the student´s eyes – Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter. She also remembered Alice being extremly infuriated over Harry´s use of Parseltongue and she wasn´t the only one. After Hermione was petrified, Ron seeked a one-on-one with Harry, something that ended up a bit badly for the said Gryffindor.
"Exactly... and its not just that... well... I always think he´s up to something. Ginny... he´s as Slytherin as they come... we may just have another Dark Lord on the rise and right under our noses..."
This statement left her speechless for several minutes after Neville left. Another Dark Lord?! Well, some of the students would perhaps agree, but why was there something about that statement that made her feel seriously disagreeable and (though she couldn´t grasp why) almost offended. Still trying to puzzle it out, she went up into the boy´s dormitory, having another issue to take care of. Knocking on the door politely, she entered the room her brother was in and was not surprised, that she wasn´t the only girl there. Sitting with Ron on his bed was Hermione, the pair smiling at her as she entered.
"How are you?"asked Ginny, her brown eyes shining in concern for her brother.
Ron gave a brave little smile.
"Better... thanks to Mione..."he said smiling at the girl beside him, who gave him a warm smile as she kissed his cheek.
"I´ve been here since breakfast. Some of the others came to visit too. What about you?"asked Hermione as Ginny drew up a chair and sat facing them.
She swiftly recounted the events of the day, including Harry´s little save.
"Bloody hell... talk about scary... the fourth-years running away like that."muttered Ron.
"I´m supposed to have a talk with him after dinner, but I wanted to find out more about him before that."said Ginny.
Ron and Hermione shared a look.
"I´ve talked to a few teachers about him and well... the Professors seem to think him to be okay."
Her brother and friend looked as confused as she was feeling. Ginny quickly started to count down on her fingers.
"First up Sprout told me, that he was a very talented boy... then Flitwick sang his praises, crediting him on his intelligence... McGonnagall remembered him from his childhood, telling me that he was always a calm and curious boy who preferred on working things out on his own... and finally Remus had told me his bit, very happy about our match-up. He told me though, that if I want to know much more about him, I should go to his Godfather, who incidently Ron, is your fianceé."
"WHAT?"shrieked both of them, this piece of knowledge was not well known to them.
"Bloody hell... Snape´s his godfather?!"exclaimed Ron, slapping his forehead, completly astounded.
"Do you plan on going after him, Ginny?"asked Hermione.
Somehow she didn´t think that Snape would be up to answering any questions today. Ginny thought about it for a second. The "monster" and "Dark Lord" comments resonating in her mind. Her mind was made up instantly.
"I´ll go with you, Gin."said Ron standing up, surprising both of the girls.
"I´ll have to talk to Snape eventually. Plus we can ask him about your fianceé."
Ginny fixed her brother her warmest smile as she gave him an affectionate hug.
"I just hope he´s in a good mood."he muttered, shivering a little.
"And that´s it, Master Harry."said an old house-elf to his master in the safety of his room, which was vacant at the moment.
Harry smiled gently. After his talk with Dumbledore, he summoned his personal house-elf – Fidus, asking about the going ons at Potter Cottage, including the engagements of both Neville and Alice. Fidus along with his mate Apricie were the Potter family house-elfs for almost a century. And since the begining of that tradition, it was Fidus´ responsibility to take care of the youngest male member of the Potter family almost from birth. The old house-elf was Harry´s playmate and guardian when he was a tiny boy and since those times, the two formed a powerfull bond.
"You is happy about this, Master?"asked Fidus gently, knowing exactly how Harry felt about his... siblings.
"Though I would never say it to them... well... they´d think I´m plotting something."he said with a small snort.
"One more thing, Master Harry. Mistress Lily is wanting to know, who is your mate in the matter. She is no doubt waiting for news."
Harry blushed slightly.
"Tell her I will inform her soon. First thing tommorow in fact."he added quickly, knowing his Mum would not leave such a matter hanging easily – he would HAVE to tell her soon.
Fidus smiled and bowed slightly.
"Mistress Lily will be happy. She is slightly axtious about your matching..."
Harry´s blush intesified.
"Tell her, she needn´t worry."he said, not really eager to give more information.
Fidus smiled at him.
"Young Master is happy about the match?"
Harry´s face was deep-red.
"That remains to be seen."he muttered quietly and Fidus chortled.
"As Young Master says."he said before his dissapearated with a loud Crack.
"Bloody amusing, Fidus... really..."murmured Harry, still red-faced.
"You can say that again."rang a girl´s voice from the door, which was giggling slightly.
Harry turned around and fixed Astoria a small glare.
"You know I´ve been thinking of casting an anti-intruder charm in this room."
Astoria gave a small look of surprise and held her palm to her heart.
"Aww Harry... you´ll hurt my feelings."
Harry snickered slightly as Astoria moved closer and sat by the joint-table facing him with a mock-curious look on her face.
"So what brings you here?"asked Harry with a raised eyebrow.
"The girls in my room are currently chatting, giggling, gossiping and listenting to their favourite show on the Wizard Wireless – Thank Merlin Its Friday."said Astoria, rolling her eyes.
"Yuck."murmured Harry with a note of disgust – unlike Alice, he hated that sappy radio show.
"Pretty much my opinion. Nevertheless, veeeery interesting stories they told me... I´ve heared, that a certain someone was in Dumbledore´s office. Possibly because of hexing several students straight into the Hospital Wing for laughing about our Head of House´s lovelife. Is that true...?"she asked big-eyed, in a small curious tone first-years often use.
Harry rolled his eyes at the new stupid rumor, that sprang because of his visit to Dumbledore´s office.
" Seriously, people around here should just get a damn hobby... I´ve had an appointment with our Headmaster, seeking his advice on something."
Astoria´s eyes were full of surprise. True, Harry sometimes spoke with Dumbledore in his office here and there, but seeking advice from him...? That was a new one.
"Torie... what do you know about Ginny Weasley?"he asked quietly, as he turned his head towards the window.
Astoria once more looked in surprise. A small smile played on her lips as she racked her brains for an answer.
"Well... she´s popular, plays for the Gryffindor Quiddich Team like her siblings did, she has many older brothers, she´s funny and warm-hearted..."she said counting everything on her fingers.
"All-in-all, Mr Potter... I think you have been matched with an attractive young witch. Much better than my sister in any case."she said with a smile.
Astoria´s snotty elder sister – Daphne was very smitten with Harry from the day they were sorted into Slytherin. Based on her parent´s views, that a pure-blood lady should get a handsome, well-bread, powerfull and wealthy wizard, Daphne set her eyes on Harry and tried very hard to become his girlfriend. Harry never really shared that view and Daphne was infuriated and jealous, that he chose to be friends with her younger sister, who was nothing like her. Over the time the Junior Death Eaters started to prowl around the school, Daphne tried to get Harry on their side – to no avail. Following the battle, where she tried to hit Astoria with the Killing Curse before being subdued, she was sentenced to a life-time in Azkaban.
Astoria watched Harry merely nod, still looking out the window.
"I plan on speaking with her about the engagement after dinner."
Astoria now understood.
"So that´s what you went to Dumbledore for. Information..."
It was a well-known fact, that Albus Dumbledore was on very friendly terms with the entire Weasley family.
"I thought getting to know her couldn´t hurt..."he replied stiffly.
"This Act and perhaps even Fudge will have to be brought down eventually... but..."his voice had a very rare quality to it – one he used when he was unsure about something.
Astoria smiled gently. Only in the presence of those closest to him he discarded his mask and gave way to his true feelings. She got up from the chair and joined him by the window.
"Look Harry... I know you don´t open up easily. But perhaps this girl may be the one who you will come to love. Just give it a chance."she said gently.
Harry turned to her and quirked an eyebrow.
"Lions wear their hearts on their sleeves. You´re an observant fellow. I´m sure you´ll see sighns if you look hard enough."
She could see Harry mulling it over. Finally he gave her a happy smile and a one-armed hug.
Astoria returned the hug happily.
"Wouldn´t do it for anyone else, Harry. You´re like my big brother, remember?"
Sudenly there were loud laughing noises infront of the door and the pair instantly separated. As the door opened, Draco entered laughing like crazy followed by Blaise and Angus.
"I fail to see what exactly is so funny here."said Blaise with a small glare as Draco continued to laugh.
"Yeah, Dray... its no big deal. And its Blaise´s choice."said Angus, shaking his head.
"What´s going on?"asked both Harry and Astoria as Draco collapsed on his bed still laughing.
Draco only doubled in laughter. Blaise instantly took out his wand and used a Silencing Charm on him, Draco laughing so much he completly failed to notice it.
"Blaise told us, he asked Luna Lovegood out for a date tommorow."informed Angus.
Harry looked surprised as Draco practicly rolled on his bed, chaught up in an increaced fit of laughter.
"Awww, Blaise... that´s so cute."exclaimed Astoria sweetly.
Blaise blushed brilliantly.
"I... I like her. I could´ve ended up with someone worse and I think its worth a try. Much better choice than the pure-blood girl from High Society my Mum wanted to engage me to last year. You know she´s wishes for me getting married and well... I would very much like to choose who I will take on as my life-long partner."
Angus, Harry and Astoria nodded, seeing his logic.
"What about you, Angus?"asked Astoria curiously.
Angus merely shrugged his powerfull shoulders.
"Not sure yet. I got held up at Hagrid´s today. You know he´s treating those sick unicorns he found last week and well... I like to help."
This was no surprise. Not many knew it, but Angus came from a muggle family, who were slightly famous as zoologists. His Dad, his late Mum and even one of his elder siblings all worked and still work as one. As such, Angus always held fondness for animals and is an ace in the Care of Magical Creatures classes, which he now attends on NEWT level.
"And what about our laughing-boy here? Have you spoken to Hermione Granger?"asked Astoria and Draco´s laughter immediatly ceased.
He started to explain himself with a panicked look, franticly shaking his head and gesticulating, but no sounds came out. With a realization, he glared hard at Blaise and started to rant angerly at him, not even bothering to undo the Silencing Charm. Now however it was the rest of the room, who were chaught in a fit of laughter.
"You can do this... you can do this... you can do this..."
"Ron for God´s sake, just knock on the damn door!"exclaimed Ginny in exaspiration.
The two Weasleys have been standing at the door to the Potion Master´s study for over three minutes.
"Easy for you to say, Ginny."exclaimed Ron, his renewed reservations about speaking to Snape were turning to panic as the minutes passed by.
"You´ve said yourself that you´ll have to talk to eachother eventually."
Ron looked at the closed door gulped and turned to leave.
"Eventually sounds good."he said in a panicked voice and made to dash out.
Ginny however quickly grabbed the back of his robes and pulled him back to the door.
"Oh no, you don´t! We´re going there NOW!"growled Ginny.
"Can´t you ask him yourself? Ask him everything you want and tell him I said "Hi"."he protested, trying to get away.
"What are you afraid of?! Its just talking! He´s not going to rape you!"she exclaimed pulling him with all the strength she should muster.
"Obviously. I am not in such a mood today."said a sarcastic voice from the doorway.
Both Weasleys froze. Severus Snape stood in the open doorway, arms folded and viewing them coldly.
Both started to stammer, unsure what to say. Severus gave a long sigh.
"Inside. Both of you!"he commanded.
The two obeyed at once and entered the study with Snape closing the door swiftly. Ginny had never been to Snape´s study, for obvious reasons. The place didn´t look particuraly welcoming. It looked more like a laboratory than anything else. However Ginny spotted a few pictures hung on the wall. Approaching she looked at them curously. One had Snape with a young woman with brilliant long red hair and an old chubby wizard she did not recodnize – each of them smiling over a cauldron. The next had Snape standing on an balcony along with (with a gasp she recodnized) Remus Lupin, a grinning black-haired man and one who looked very much like Harry – though he looked slightly older. Under it there was a small lable which had the word "TRUCE" written on it. The last one had Snape over a small work-table showing something smilingly (it was kinda unnatural seeing Snape smile) to a tiny black-haired boy, who looked on with great curiosity with large brilliant green eyes. Ginny gased again. THIS little boy was Harry.
The sound of Snape drawing up chairs stirred her and she saw, that Snape drew two of them infront of his work-table.
"Sit."he commanded as he took his chair behind the table.
The two obeyed once more and Snape viewed them with crossed hands.
"You know Weasley, you did not have to bring help for this conversation. I know that you are perfectly capable of speaking."he said, looking at them both.
"Its not that. Ginny wanted to speak to you about something as well."said Ron slightly defencively.
Snape fixed her an inquiring look.
"I wanted to ask you about your Godson. You see... I´m engeged to him."
Snape´s look turned to one of visible surprise. A few seconds of silence passed, during which Snape´s eyes looked at her with curiosity.
"I´m supposed to talk to him after dinner today, but I wanted to know more about him. More than rumors describing him as a monster or a dangerous dark wizard in the making."she said honestly.
Snape´s mouth curved into a small smile leaving both Weasleys stunend for a second.
"All right, Miss Weasley. What do you wish to know?"
Ginny racked her brains for what to ask first.
"I already gathered, that he may not be as cold-hearted as everyone thinks..."she started.
"You have the correct assumption. The thing with Harry is, that he does not open up easily. He preffers to go about his business in his own way and he is very guarded with letting people into his world."
"Does this have something to do with Neville and Alice?"
Snape frowned a bit.
"That would definitely be the start of it. You see, since he was little he had other interests than his siblings. He was always curious and thirsty for knowledge. Always finding something new to interest him. Alice and Neville liked to play around while Harry was never the type for games. Unless they were puzzles or logic games. His father for instance was very sad when Harry did not share his love for Quiddich. The real trouble among them started when Harry was sorted into my house. His parents never saw anything wrong with it, but Alice and Neville apparently have trouble accepting it. Since his years at Hogwarts, Harry had been dissapointed in several people and it caused him to stick to his own."
Ron and Ginny shared a look. They gathered that Neville and Alice must definitely be on top of that list. Then Ron remembered something.
"And what about him being a Parselmouth?"he asked curiously.
"That indeed gained him a level of notoriety. However Weasley, Parseltongue is a rare ability, which doesn´t necessarily run in bloodlines. In any case it is merely an ability just like any other. The fact that most Parselmouths were Dark Wizards is what gained it its infamousity. Unlike Neville however, Harry likes to use it sometimes to simply understand snakes or ask them for information when he´s outside."
The Weasleys once more traded uneasy looks.
"And his views on blood-purity?"asked Ron quickly.
"His own mother is muggle-born, which should speak for everything. He is also great friends with another muggle-born in my house – Angus Lennox. Plus he likes to spend parts of the summer with his muggle grandparents and cousin. Unlike his sister who preffers to stay in the Magical World. Harry enjoys his ventures to the Muggle World and is very knowledgable about many aspects of it. For instance, he and Angus enjoy muggle technology. Believe me, he´s no muggle-hater."
Ron breathed a sigh of relief and Ginny sported a small smile.
"Knowledgable about Muggle World, eh? Dad will be very pleased about that."noted Ron also smiling slightly and Ginny nodded with a giggle.
"There is much more to him than meets the eye. Deep down he´s a really caring and loving person. You merely have to get to that point. If you truly wish to have a relationship with him, Miss Weasley... you merely have to get closer to him. I think this could work out if you try."concluded Snape surprising them both yet again.
"Thanks, Professor."whispered Ginny after a while.
"If that is all Miss Weasley, I would very much like to have a word with your brother. Alone."
Ron paled slightly at that. Snape fixed him with an exaspirated stare.
"I think we have all agreed, that I will NOT rape you."
Ron nodded and Ginny couldn´t help but giggle again as she stood up and bid them good-bye.
Snape waited for her to exit his study and close the door before fixing Ron with a look. A small silence hing in the room.
"I can see that both of us are equaly happy about the match-up, but before we go into any of that I wish to ask you one thing. Unless my memory decieves me, prior to this proposterous Act you were in a relationship with Miss Granger, am I correct?"
Ron nodded, feeling sad about the "were" part. Snape gathered as much.
"You still love her, correct?"
Ron bit his lip.
"Yeah. I really do. It took me so long to figure that one out. And I don´t want to leave her..."he said miserably.
"Who is she engaged with?"asked Snape curiously.
Ron scrowled a bit before answering.
Snape´s eyebrows shot up in geniune surprise and he took a moment to think.
"Well Weasley, there is something which can be done about it."
Ron looked at him surprisedly.
"I will not mind you continuing your relationship with Miss Granger and I do know for a fact, that Draco is not fond of the idea of being with her. In any case Lucius will definitely not stand for the idea. I suggest both of you speaking to Draco about the matter."
Ron gaped at what he was hearing. He knew that Snape would not really wish for a relationship with him, but this was making things a LOT easier.
"We are all intelligent people – I hope, and we can work this out in a normal manner. One thing though, Weasley... you and Miss Granger would have to make your continued relationship a secret one in case some Ministry fool comes spying around. Fudge won´t be happy, that someone is bending his perfect little Act and would surely punish heavily."
Ron nodded. Then suddenly he remembered a few problems.
"And us getting married – I mean, sighning a marriage contract? And for the matter of producing a child?"
Snape´s eyebrows shot up again. This boy obviously thinks much more than he came to observe during Potions lessons.
"We can postpone the marriage contract up to the deadline. By that time, something might change. In the best instance, Fudge will lose the Minister´s chair and the idiotic Act will be scrapped. If not we simply sighn the contract and go around everything as ussual. We would be married on paper, as the law (he scrowled at the mention of it) demands, but that would be it. And for the matter of the child... there will be another year for us to adress that issue. We could use Miss Granger´s views on the matter by that time too and something might be arranged. As my Godson sometimes says - any problem can be solved if one has enough brains to search for a solution."
Ron could not help but smile happily at that. It seems, that not only Harry Potter is much different than he first appears.