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Chapter Twenty-Three
Severus Snoop

Severus had a distinct spring in his step as the Slytherin quidditch team made their way back up to the castle.  Harry walked next to him, sending his friend the occasional amused glance.  When the group reached the main doors, Sev grabbed the older boy's arm and pulled him off to one side and waited for the rest of the team to go inside the school.  When he was sure they were alone, he released his grip and turned to Harry.

" Why did you do that to my father?"

Harry had expected something like this.

" You were distracted by his presence.  I had to do something or we could have lost the game."

" True, but did you have to put him in the hospital wing?"

" Yes!  What else could I have done?"

" Hexed him, maybe."

" I couldn't use a spell.  That would have made it obviously deliberate.  At least this way, I can claim I was simply trying to out maneuver a bludger, and he happened to be in the way."

" You're incorrigible!"

" I know!"

" But Harry, surely you could have thought of a less painful way…"

" Sev, do you like your father?"

" No…"

" What did he do to you at Christmas?"

Sev just hung his head.

" You see," Harry continued, " You don't even like him.  In fact, I know that you hate him with a vengeance.  So why are you defending him?"

" Because he's my father, and if he ever suspects you did it on purpose to help me, then I'll be the one that suffers for it.  And don't tell me it was all for my benefit.  Surely your intense dislike for him comes into it somewhere."

Harry gave Sev a sheepish grin.

" Well, that may be part of the reason."

" Uhuh, I thought so."

" But I couldn't help it!  He's such a dislikeable fellow!"

Sev just gave his friend a knowing smile and strode back into the school.


Down in the Slytherin common room that night, an intense party took place.  It was nothing like the Gryffindor parties Harry had experienced, even the ones organised by the Weasley twins.  To say it was wild was an understatement.  The lights had been dimmed considerably, making the already gloomy dungeon common room seem more than a little forbidding.  The music was dark and erotic, nothing like what Harry had been expecting.  If anything, the Boy-Who Lived thought the pureblood Slytherins would play opera or chamber music, but never something so risqué.  He watched the proceedings from a corner at first, entranced by the forms gyrating on the dance floor.  However, he soon got into the spirit of things and found himself dancing suggestively with the future Bellatrix Lestrange, something he thought he would never find himself doing.  The beat of the music pulsed in his head and he felt himself letting go slightly of his inhibitions and enjoying himself.

It was several hours later when Harry met up with Sev at the drinks table.  Grabbing a small bottle of Ogden's Firewhiskey, he sidled up to where his friend was chatting up Angelica Nott and rested his hand on the younger boy's shoulder.

" Having fun, Sev?"

" Sure am," he slurred, holding up a bottle of ale, " How 'bout you?"

" Never better.  This wasn't anything like I was expecting from a group of Slytherins…"

" Why?  This suits us, don't you think?"

" Well….yes, but it wasn't what I was expecting.  I thought purebloods would be more….stodgy."

" Stodgy?"

" Yeah, you know?  Like the British royal family.  All crumpets and arias."

Sev gave him a queer look before turning back to the neglected girl and restarting his conversation with her.  Harry let out a big sigh and went to find himself another dance partner.  On his way around the room, he was disturbed to see Lucius Malfoy up against the far wall with a very ugly seventh year.  Upon closer inspection, Harry saw more than he ever wanted to see and quickly moved on.  Finding himself a dark corner to lurk in, he surveyed the room of partying Slytherins spread out before him.  As a Gryffindor, he had seen the Slytherins as dark, evil children destined to serve Voldemort and wreak havoc on the world.  Now, he was older and wiser, knowing more about the nature and use of magic.  He saw before him, not mini Death Eaters, but individuals who one day would make a choice to live their lives independently or join forces with the Dark Lord.  Despite what the other Houses thought, the Slytherins weren't all evil.  A lot of them were from Dark families, but many were also from Light families.  Having learned the difference between darkness and evil, Harry appreciated that the Slytherins were severely misjudged.  They were only children, after all.  They had hopes and dreams like everyone else.  They just had a better chance of reaching those dreams than people in other Houses.  They had the ambition to achieve whatever they wanted.  As he thought this, Harry realised some of the problem the other Houses had.  Many years ago, before the rivalry became tradition, the other Houses were probably jealous of the Slytherins.  Their natural cunning and ambition meant they would succeed in their chosen field if it was at all possible to do so.  They made their fortunes centuries ago from successful business ventures, leaving the wizarding nobility of the modern world as nearly all Slytherins.  Over the years, the Slytherins succeeded where people from other Houses did not, leading to resentment and prejudice.  Salazar's betrayal had started the rivalry, but Harry could now see how the problem had escalated.  Seeing this room full of teenagers like all others, he could see how prejudice and discrimination had piled notoriety upon the shoulders of children.  The thought brought a new clarity to Harry, and for the first time, despite the months he had been in the Serpent's Den, he saw the Slytherins for what they really were.

People like everybody else.


The night of the next full moon found Harry organising his books into piles for the next morning.  He had finished his homework earlier, and wanted his room tidy for when he left.  He was due to meet the other animagi in twenty minutes; the only thing left to do was send Sev away.  Harry hated excluding his friend like this, but it wasn't his secret to tell.  Every month on the full moon, when Sev came for his nightly lessons, Harry had to come up with a different excuse for why he had to go away again.  At first it seemed to work, but as Sev grew to know him better, his excuses seemed to be less effective.  Sev was getting suspicious, and there was nothing Harry or anyone else could do about it.  A firm knock on his door brought Harry out of his thoughts, and with a wave of his hand the lock turned, allowing the younger boy to enter.  As he stood in front of the door, he gave Harry a penetrating look before coming to a conclusion.

" You're canceling the lesson again," he said in a matter of fact voice.

" Yes, I am," Harry stated.

" Why?"

" I'm busy tonight."

" Doing what?  Tell me, Harry, what is it you do every month?"

" Nothing!"

" Really?  You disappear once a month for no apparent reason?"

" No!  I mean, yes!  No!  What do you mean, every month?"

" Don't think I haven't noticed what happens.  Once a month you cancel our lessons and sneak out at night.  I don't know where you go, or who with, but you are never in your bed until dawn."

Harry was a little disconcerted that Sev had noticed so much, but something was bothering him about what the fifth year had said.

" How do you know I'm not in my room until dawn?"

" Because I have a spell on your room to tell me if you are in it or not.  I like to know if you are here or not.  If I need you for anything, I can come straight here if you are in your room, or not bother looking if you are not.  On the nights you disappear, I check it every hour to see if you are back, and you are never back before dawn."

Harry was floored.  Sev, his apprentice, had a spying spell on his room, and he hadn't noticed.  Images of Mad Eye Moody yelling " CONSTANT VIGILENCE" appeared in his mind, and he started to wonder what else he had missed.  He was supposed to be on his guard 24/7, knowing he was a constant target for evil wizards.  The fact that a mere fifth year had got around his defences was disturbing.

" How did you put up the spell without me noticing?"

" I did it during one of our lessons.  You were expecting me to be casting spells in your room anyway, so I didn't think you would notice one extra one.  I was right."

" You shouldn't have done that!  What other spells have you put on me or my room?"

" Nothing!  I swear.  But we're getting sidetracked.  I still want to know where you go."

" I can't tell you, Sev.  It's not my secret to tell."

" What's so special about the full moon?"

Harry was surprised by this.  It was apparent that Sev was a lot more observant than anyone gave him credit for.  A true Slytherin.

" What makes you think the full moon is special?"

" Because you disappear every full moon.  It's not just once a month, or even on the same date.  It's on the full moon."

" So what if it is?  It's none of your business, Sev.  Not everything I do concerns you."

" I thought I was your friend, Harry.  I thought you cared about me.  Don't shut me out.  Please."

" I'm sorry, but as I said, it's not my secret to tell."

" I will figure it out, you know."

Harry thought back to what he had heard about his parents' fifth year.  About the incident with Severus, Remus, Sirius and the Whomping Willow.  The incident where James saved Sev's life.  Harry smiled sadly at his young friend.

" I know, Sev.  I know."


On the thirtieth of April, Harry found himself accosted in the Charms corridor by two rather excited elves.  Gaerwyn and Lolide had been staying at Domus Corvus Corax for a few weeks in anticipation of James' sixteenth birthday.  They wanted to be there, as they had missed most of his previous birthdays.  He knew they lived somewhere else, but didn't know they were elves.  Minh and Eustace had explained away their youth by saying they were not fully human, and therefore didn't age like normal people.  James had accepted this, and didn't ask any more questions once he was told not to pursue the matter.  Minh-Minh-Lama was not the sort of person you annoyed without dire consequences.  She had a wicked temper, and James had learned from an early age not to cross her.  Lolide and Gaerwyn were there for his sixteenth birthday to tell him the truth.  He had been denied facts for his whole life, but the time had come when the elves thought he was old enough to know the truth.  The fact that he was an Order member at such a young age reassured them that he was mature enough not to spread the word around.  The elves were unknown outside of the Order.  Even then, it was only the council members who knew what Lolide, Minh and Gaerwyn really were.  Most people in the wizarding world, including the Dark Lord and his forces, thought that elves had become extinct hundreds of years before.  No-one outside of the Order had seen them for centuries.  The time travellers themselves had been shocked when they first met them in the time of the founders, thinking that they didn't live in their own time.

" Harry!  Just the person we wanted to see," Gaerwyn called in the elven tongue.  Harry smiled and replied in kind.

" Gaer, nice to see you again so soon.  I take it you're here for James' party."

" Yes, we are.  In fact, that's what we wanted to talk to you about," Lolide told him, " We were given the task of organising the party itself.  We wanted you to help with it.  We thought we could do a similar thing to the one we did for you.  You know, the traditional elven one.  Of course, we won't tell the guests what the theme is, but we thought it would be nice for James to be able to see a small sample of the world his ancestors are from."

" I think that's a great idea!  What do you want me to do?"

" Well, we're going back home for some supplies, and wondered if you wanted to come."

" Gaerwyn, are you serious?"

" Of course."

" Yes!  I love visiting Falaryth.  I haven't been in ages.  It'll be nice to see everyone again."

" We won't be staying long, Harry," Lolide explained, " Just a couple of hours.  We need to pick a few things up.  You can help us choose some of the decorations as well.  After all, what other human knows as much about elven culture as you?"

" None that I know of.  But surely Eustace has learned things from living with Minh."

" Not really," Gaerwyn told him, " You see, when Minh chose to stay in the human world, she was effectively giving up her life as an elf.  As she married Eustace and raised a child as a human, she accepted your ways and culture.  Although she will always be an elf deep down, she embraced the human world completely.  As a 'human', she didn't share much about the elves with Eustace.  He doesn't speak our language, knows none of our magic, and is ignorant about our culture.  You, on the other hand, learned so much two years ago about us that you could, in theory, integrate yourself into our society if the need arose.  Much as Minh chose to live as a human, you could move to Falaryth and live as an elf."

" You really think that's possible?"

" Yes, we do."

" That's good.  I was thinking of retiring there."

" You could do that, Harry.  Lolide and I would welcome you there, as would the rest of your family."

" That's nice to know.  So, when do we leave?"

" Now."


Harry's trip to Falaryth passed far too fast for his liking.  He loved the elven city, and wished he could stay there for a few weeks.  But it was not to be.  They collected the materials needed for the party in a matter of hours, and were soon heading back to the school.  The setting up took quite a long time, but Harry had fun doing it.  Ginny, Ron and Hermione had all agreed to help, but they had to do as they were instructed.  They weren't familiar with elven birthday traditions, after all.  

The day of the party finally came.  Not too many people had been invited, only the time travellers, the Marauders, Lily and James' family.  Peeves and Gallatea also turned up, the poltergeist setting off a few Filibuster Fireworks.  The Gryffindors were awed when they saw how Harry's hidden room had been decked out.  Lily loved the plant-like decorations, and Sirius and James had a childish game of hide and seek among the sweeping pieces of material.  Remus and Peter found the food delightful, and were soon stuffed with pastries and a delightful fruit tart.  After the opening of the presents, James stood to thank everyone for their kindness.  He was delighted with the effort everyone had made.  He was a little concerned when he received a beautiful carved bow and quiver of arrows from Lolide and Gaerwyn, but didn't say anything.  He just thought he had batty relatives like everyone else.  After the presents, Harry moved over to Lolide and spoke to her in elvish.

" Lolide, when are you going to tell him?"

" I'm not sure.  We discussed it last night, and we don't know how he's going to take it.  He could take it really well, or he could be upset that we didn't tell him before.  We don't want to ruin his party by telling him in the middle of it."

" Well, let me make a suggestion."

" Go ahead."

" I suggest you tell him now, and get it over with.  Then we can have everyone go down to the quidditch pitch to have a game.  You know how James loves quidditch.  If he's ok with it, then fine.  If not, then a game of quidditch will cheer him up."

" What makes you think we should tell him now.   We could wait until later in the day."

" Mainly because he's been listening to our conversation, and looks a little confused."

Lolide's eyes widened and she looked up at a gaping James.  It seemed he had heard them speaking in the elven language, and was wondering what it was.  He seemed shocked, as if he didn't know his Slytherin friend would be able to speak to his non-human relatives in their own tongue.

" You did that on purpose!" she accused.

" Of course!"

" Harry!"

" What?  You were putting it off, and I knew it would come to the evening and you still wouldn't have told him.  You just needed a little push in the right direction.  Go and tell him now.  I'll talk everyone into a quidditch game."

Lolide gave Harry an incredulous look before going over to her great nephew and pulling him to one side by his arm.  She signalled for Gaerwyn and Minh to follow her before pulling the confused boy out of the room.  Harry grinned after them and gathered everyone up for a game of quidditch, leading them down to the pitch.  No-one noticed an almost transparent figure following them at a distance.

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