Missing Persons, Found LivesAuthor:
Family is who you collect along the way. But sometimes, it's nice to discover where you came from.Rating:
PG-13 to R... unless some kind of wicked bunny bites me into heavy smut.Main Characters:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape, Xander Harris, Rupert Giles, Daniel Jackson, Jack O'NeillWarnings:
Very much Alternate Universe in all three fandoms. I'm trying to keep the characters' personalities in line with canon, but no promises -- none of the primaries have undergone such a situation in canon, to my knowledge.Timelines:
HP - Post-war, but only canon through HBP. BtVS - Canon through the musical, then AU -- Anya & Xander broke up (amicably) after the revelations of their songs. SG-1 - Please note that I have only seen (in order) through S4. I know the general timeline for most of the major plots in the other seasons, but no specifics. Any glaring mistakes, please read as AU.Disclaimer:
I do not own Harry Potter/Hogwarts, Stargate SG-1, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The characters borrowed from these works of fiction are used without permission from the copyright holders. No money is made, merely the enjoyment of bastardizing my most beloved characters for my own pleasure. No harm, no foul, no sue. No Mary Sue either :PAuthor's Notes:
It was not my intention to include slash in this story. However, as the characters interacted on paper, they seemed to demand... interaction
of a different sort. Pairings will be listed as they occur.Author's Notes Pt2:
I can't promise when this will be updated. My life is normally hectic and does not allow for any sort of scheduled writing time. Please do leave comments if you'd like, but understand that replies might take awhile in coming. Thank you, and enjoy the show!~ Missing Persons, Found Lives ~~ * ~
A person can only spend so many boring hours in a musty old library before his attention starts to wander. Harry Potter, two-time Savior of the Magical World, bitterly slammed shut 101 Nearly Forgivable Curses
, not even flinching when the cranky tome tried to snap at his fingers.
"That's it for me, guys," he announced to the other occupants of the room. "I've got to... take a walk, stretch my legs. Just about anything is better than sitting around here right now."
His best friends nodded easily enough; they knew his habits well after the past seven years. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger had been the foundation of his world, and had pulled him away from repeating Tom Riddle's grim history on more than one occasion.
The only person left to show their disapproval of his abandoning the research was Professor and Potions Master Severus Snape. Harry felt himself quite fortunate to only receive a raised eyebrow from the taciturn man. Not wanting to tempt fate by saying anything else, he made a hasty escape.
Of course, he still wouldn't venture outside the wards of 12 Grimmauld Place. To do so would invite a mobbing (at best), a kidnap attempt (three tries before he gave in to the necessity of hiring bodyguards), or his photo plastered across every newspaper known to Magical Britain (an act he feared the most).
What he could do was to wander from room to room, exploring the home of his lost godfather. Regardless of the large chunks of time he had found himself 'confined' at the gloomy house, Harry continued to discover new and interesting facets within its walls. Not all were pleasant, granted, but it was seldom dull.
His meandering journey soon took him to the Black family's formal parlor. How many hours had he spent looking at the portraits of Sirius' ancestors? Of studying the lines of convergence between the oldest magical families? Surely more time than he'd ever put into his classwork over the years. It caused no surprise to find himself once more in the room so laden with a sense of -- however dark and cruel it often was -- extended family history.
He gave a polite greeting to those portraits currently occupied, then made his way to the sole bookshelf in the room. Harry understood the irony of leaving the library only to seek out more books, but his curiosity had been prodded a few days before. Something Mrs. Weasley had said made him wonder, and with a few minutes to spare, he wanted to look for a particular spell."Oh my, yes! Harry dear, don't let any of those so-called pureblood fanatics bother you!" Molly laughed aloud, wiping her hands on her apron before ruffling his perpetually messy hair. "Goodness knows we're all related somehow. Even those from Muggle families, they're almost always a grandchild of a Squib. Wouldn't it be terribly funny to find our Hermione is the fifth cousin to young Master Malfoy?"
The idea that his Aunt Petunia was in fact a Squib amused Harry a great deal.
His fingers traced a path along the spines of genealogy texts, carefully keeping them a safe distance of at least two inches from the actual shelves. The top-most collection contained Black family albums -- interesting enough, but not at all what he was looking for. Below them were grimoires of Blood Magic -- again, interesting if a bit creepy, and still not what he needed. Finally, on the very bottom shelf, he located an untitled tome. Of all the books he'd had the displeasure of encountering at Grimmauld Place, it was the only one without any apparent curses... or attitude problems. He cast a powerful revealing spell to make sure his instincts were correct, and finding nothing but the basic preservation charms, removed it from the shelf.
On the front cover was a stylized outline of a family -- two parents and two children -- which flickered to cause an overlapping image. Not yet finding a title, he opened the book to the first page.Consanguinity : Know Yourself
"Well! That sounds promising," he muttered to the empty room. With a quick wave to the portraits, he took the book up to his bedroom and set a 'Do Not Disturb' spell on his door. For once, Harry was looking forward to a bit of research.~ * ~
Ron's voice broke through his concentration. "Harry! We've been calling you for half an hour, mate. It's time for dinner, and you know not to upset Mum by skipping meals."
With a non-verbal Finite Incantatum
, Harry released the privacy spell and slipped his new favorite book under his pillow. He grinned at the redhead, quickly following Ron down the hall and bouncing down the stairs. "Sorry, got caught in a new Flinx book."
It wasn't entirely untrue -- just because he wasn't reading the novel at that moment. Both Ron and Hermione had resigned themselves to his fascination with the futuristic fantasy books by Alan Dean Foster. Ron teased him about taking a fancy to the main character, but Hermione's insistence that he 'identified with another orphan with unusual powers' made him blush harder than the implied crush on Flinx. Harry simply enjoyed the storyline; his friends' teasing was good-natured enough that he let them continue with little protest.
Of all the remaining Order of the Phoenix members, only a handful of Weasleys (Arthur, Molly, Ron and Ginny), Hermione, Remus Lupin and Severus Snape were still in residence at the former headquarters. Everyone else had returned to their own homes after the final battle. Voldemort's demise was more a relief than a victory to the magical world -- people were eager to get back to what laughingly passed for normal.
Molly (with help from Remus, as it was his 'turn') had a hearty dinner prepared and on the table by the time her youngest son returned with Harry in tow. Greetings exchanged, the eight residents of Grimmauld Place took their seats and made a decent attempt at polishing off the abundance of food set before them. General conversation was made -- eventually, even Snape had learned how to curb his acid tongue while people were trying to eat and digest a meal.
Harry found himself grateful once again for Hermione's obsession with organization. It was Ron and Arthur's go at cleaning up after dinner, leaving him to track down either Remus or Snape. He wanted a second opinion on a certain spell he'd found, and he could fully trust both older men to offer their full assistance. Remus had a large collection of information 'on tap' in his memories, and it was quite eclectic. Snape too horded knowledge, but he generally sought it from more obscure sources.
After leaving his plate near the sink, Harry followed Remus out into the hall, pleasantly surprised when his surrogate godfather led him to a small study where Snape was already seated by the fire, enjoying a tumbler of whiskey. As Harry closed the door and added a privacy charm, both older men raised their eyebrows. He took a seat on the rug in front of the fire and leaned back on his elbows, eyes closing in pleasure as the waves of heat caressed his shoulders.
Cracking his eyes a bit, he thought about how he should broach the topic, finally settling on a straight forward approach. "Have either of you heard of a spell called Consangui Veritas
Snape's normally blank (or sneering) features didn't change; only a sharp glimmer in his dark eyes betrayed his interest. He glanced sideways to Lupin, who merely looked thoughtful.
"Yes, I have indeed heard of the spell," answered the Potions Master when it became apparent that the werewolf was not inclined to respond. "It has fallen out of practice by the general populace due to its... intensely thorough results."
Harry strangled a laugh. "In other words, too many purebloods found a few skeletons in their closets, eh?"
Remus joined the conversation with, "There are no laws mentioning it, if that is your question, Harry. But if you were hoping to cast it, I'm afraid that you'll have a dreadful time finding a decent copy."
Green eyes showed his interest. Here was one situation where Harry had an advantage over the two men who had taught him the most useful lessons. "Well," he drawled, enjoying the moment, "if I happened across a fair copy, would anyone who matters object to me casting it? I would love to learn more about both sides of my family, especially now that I've got the time to indulge in something other than premeditated murder."
Remus' expression immediately turned to regret, but Snape continued to look interested.
The next half hour passed in discussing the 'what if's' and possible side effects. It was decided that Snape would oversee the project, since both older wizards suspected Remus' were condition would have an adverse affect on the genetics-based spell. At that conclusion, Lupin excused himself to retire for the evening, leaving Harry and Snape to their plans.
Once the wards were reset after the werewolf's departure, Snape sipped from his whiskey and stared expectantly at his former student. "You already have the spell," he stated -- not a doubt in his voice.
Harry nodded with a grin. "Yeah, found it in the family parlor this afternoon. What can it hurt, right? I mean, I must have at least one living relative that won't hate me or treat me like dirt."
After their second (and far more successful) attempt at Occlumency training, the two dark-haired wizards had made an uneasy truce. Snape discovered how incorrect his assumptions were in regards his least favorite student's background. Harry learned that not only was Snape the most loyal person he'd ever met, but he also had a wicked sense of humor lurking beneath his dour persona.
"Very well, when had you hoped to perform the casting?" Snape asked.
"Tonight?" Harry suggested with a smirk. "No time like the present, is there? And we can do yours as well," he added on impulse.
The offer got a raised eyebrow, but Snape seemed... well, not pleased, but possibly intrigued. "It might be amusing at that," was all the acceptance he would give.
Harry's smirk turned into a full, blinding smile. "I'll go get the book. Don't go anywhere!" And he raced from the room.
Returning a few minutes later, winded from his run, Harry plopped the book in Snape's lap, then summoned two blank scrolls of parchment, two raven quills, and a bottle of deep red ink. "This is all we need, I think. Want to double-check before we begin?"
Yellowed fingers flipped through the pages, letting Snape quickly scan the book's other spells before getting to the appropriate page. Part of him wanted to halt the proceedings, afraid of finding more relatives like his father. He quickly silenced the childlike insecurity in favor of learning more about his heritage.
"If you are determined to do this tonight, Potter, do get on with it."
Harry read between the lines : 'You have more power, ergo you should cast the spell while I sit back and prepare to laugh at any side effects to the caster.' He had no problem being the caster of an unfamiliar spell, so long as someone he trusted was there to back him up.
Pointing at the first parchment, he swished his wand in the appropriate manner, clearly stating, "Consangui Veritas
Harry James Potter." He waited for the first quill to begin its task, then repeated the spell, "Consangui Veritas
Severus Alexander Snape."
Harry sat back with a contented smile. The book told to expect about an hour before the final results were written, so he had time to relax a bit. He grabbed a short glass and poured two fingers of Snape's whiskey for himself. Before he had taken the first sip, Snape's exclamation of "Bloody feckin' hell!" nearly caused him to drop the glass.
Snape's patience was a fickle thing. He could wait months for the next stage of a potion, but not last two heartbeats waiting for an answer from an imbecilic student. In the case of this spell, it seemed he had drawn the short temper straw. Mouth opening and closing like some sort of demented fish, his eyes darted across one particular line time and again.
Harry was curious as to what could make the ultimate Slytherin show such emotion, and stood to read over Snape's shoulder.Father - Tobias Alexander Snape
Mother - Eileen Antonia Snape, nee` Prince
Son - Alexander LaVelle Harris (born to Jessica Evette Harris, nee` Banks)
"Snape," Harry let his hand rest atop a tension-tight shoulder, "are you sure I did the spell correctly?"
"I... believe so."
"Then I guess congratulations are in order?" He had to bring Snape back from the shock, and the best way in his experience was low humor designed to irritate or amuse the older man. "I don't have a cigar, but... it's a boy!"
For more than a few minutes, stunned brown-black eyes stared at the parchment. Harry couldn't quite decipher the older man's expression, but it seemed almost... pleased. Content even. And while Harry might not have always appreciated his former teacher's efforts, he would admit that Snape deserved a larger share of happiness than he had encountered in his danger-filled life.
From that thought it was only a short step for Harry to formulate a tentative plan toward helping introduce the Snapes. Besides, hadn't Hermione been nagging him to take a holiday? He could slip into Muggle attire, board an aeroplane (first trip, make it big!), and...Where do we start to look for Alexander Harris? There must be a spell for locating a missing relative, perhaps in the Consanguinity book?
Leaving Snape to not-quite-drool on his parchment, Harry retrieved the text and began his search. Not three pages after the Consangui Veritas
was its follow-up locator spell. It was almost too easy, and he read the spell several times looking for loopholes to make it fail. No matter how many times Hermione had tried to explain that 'jinxing' was simply an old superstition, Harry had too much evidence to the contrary in his arsenal.
He summoned another scroll and began taking notes, jotting down whatever he thought of that would be necessary for a trip. Some jump of intuition told him that Alexander Harris was not currently residing in England, which would mean that Snape (and Harry, for there was nothing to prevent him from going along) would need appropriate Muggle identification, clothing, luggage, and passports. Traveler's Cheques would be a good idea as well, since he wasn't sure how to withdraw from Gringotts outside of the United Kingdom.
"Hmm, I wonder... Can Gringotts issue a credit card, or debit card, or something of the like?" He didn't realize he'd asked the question out loud until Snape's head snapped up.
"Well, yes. As I understand it, any vault can be accessed through the use of a world-wide banking card." Snape's voice sounded so far away, as if he was stuck in a trance. "They make a practice of offering any service to their customers that could be gained by doing business with a Muggle bank. It keeps their profits from dropping, especially with the Muggle-borns who wish to maintain an identity in both worlds."
"Ah, well that solves most of our worries then," Harry replied, pleased that he could get most of his errands done in one place. He took a glance at the older man, relieved to find Snape was returning to some form of normalcy. "So you're back with me, are you?"
Dark hard swayed as he nodded. "Yes, and thank you for not making a fuss over my... lapse of sense. As you can imagine, the concept of having a living child, of whom I have had no prior knowledge, is most unnerving."
Patting the older man's shoulder, Harry sat at the other end of the sofa and leaned on the arm to continue his list. "I can imagine so! But it's a good thing, right? Or it could be. We should find him, meet him. There's always a way to get to know people without letting them in on why
you want to meet them." He blushed a bit, worrying his lower lip between straight teeth. "Or so I've been told."
Piercing eyes pinned him in place just like they'd done during every potions class up through his sixth year. "Potter, I was an accomplished spy before you were out of nappies. Do try not to indulge in amateur espionage while in my presence."
The attempt at scolding only made Harry snicker. Snape's eyes rolled toward the ceiling, but his demeanor relaxed just a little. It wasn't often that he accepted the gentle teasing from anyone, but he had found himself growing... tolerant of such behavior since the pressures of wartime had ceased to exist.
While Snape sat back to contemplate his immediate future and the new options available to him, Harry chewed on the tip of his quill. Every so often he would write down another 'necessity', then go back to staring at the peeling wallpaper on the far wall. His notation of 'a week's worth of clean shorts' came to a messy end as the sofa began to shake. Looking at his companion, he nearly fell onto the floor -- Severus Snape, most feared teacher ever to serve the general populace, was laughing fit to burst.
"Oh gods, Snape, are you alright? I knew something was going to go wrong. Bloody hell, you've lost your last gobstone!" Harry tried to get close enough to pat the older man's cheeks, but was waved away by surprisingly strong arms. "Get yourself together, man! I don't know any spells or potions to stop hysteria, and you're in no position to be giving me instructions. Guess I could go wake up Remus, but then I'd have to leave you by yourself, probably have to cast a Body Bind of some sort, and then you'd be mad as a hornet at me-"
"Pot-Potter," he gasped, trying to regain his breath. "Unhand me, you-" snort
"-uncouth urchin. I am completely within my-" snicker
"-right to have a good-" gasp
-"laugh when the mood strikes."
Unconvinced, Harry summoned a glass of water and moved to a safe distance (outside of Snape's reach). He drew his arm back, but got no farther; Snape used wordless, wandless magic to banish the glass. The fact that he could use the more difficult wordless charm meant that he wasn't out of his mind. Yet.
"Really," Snape huffed. He appeared to have come to grips with himself, although the occasional snicker still escaped. "While I do appreciate your concern for my mental welfare, it would behoove you, Mr. Potter, to remember who taught you the nasty little curses that kept you alive these past few years. And please, do not suffer under the delusion that you were taught the entirety of my knowledge."
"Er, right. Welcome back, Snape." The threat was more than enough to reassure Harry. He grinned as he sat back down. Sometimes it was just too easy to mess with certain stuffy types. Moving along, "So, how soon do we want to go find your son? The locator spell is simple enough, and we don't have any pressing business."
Another eyebrow, this one almost made it into Snape's hairline. "What makes you think I would invite you to accompany me on this quest, Potter? We are hardly the most comfortable traveling companions for one another."
All teasing aside, Harry actually cared
that his grumbling, grouchy, prickly ex-teacher was happy. A curse maybe, that he wished almost everyone -- barring those truly evil souls in current residence at Azkaban -- a measure of happiness that was not, by nature, readily found. But how to explain that to a man who still believed himself in need of redemption?
"First off, I've got more up-to-date experience with the Muggle world. Maybe not traveling, but brand names and dealing with people -- which you aren't that good at, even on the best days -- and..." An inspiration hit as his eyes flittered around the room, looking for viable reasons for him to join Snape's quest. "And, I'm probably going to have to travel as well. Who better to go with me than the finest magical defender I know?" If he thought it wouldn't get him hexed, Harry might have batted his eyelashes. Flattery worked well on most people, but Snape seemed to have a built-in 'bullshit meter'.
"Really," came the drawled response. "And this has nothing to do with the fact that you are a consummate busybody who cannot leave well enough alone, who insists upon poking his nose into any mystery regardless of the dangers involved, hmm?"
The blush brought about by that all-too-true comment heated his face better than any fireplace. Harry's head ducked down, knowing he was caught out. "Well, sure I'd like to meet your son. You'd be just as curious in my place." He tried not to sound defensive, as that would trigger a truly vicious, Snape-ish rant. "What can it hurt? I promise not to say anything to him unless you introduce us, and you'll be there when I meet whichever second or third cousin I might find on my list too, right?"
If a single look could hold both a plea for patience and the ever-popular 'have you lost your mind', then that was the expression Snape focused on his former student. His mouth opened, then closed with a snap. Instead of the expected dressing down, he leaned over and grabbed the second scroll of True Relations. His eyes crinkled at the corners, seeing that, yes, Petunia Dursely was in fact a Squib. There was something... vindictively liberating, knowing the horse-faced harridan was a carrier for the recessive magical gene, and that her whale of a son (if he ever reproduced with some poor woman) would very likely spawn a baby witch or wizard. Several other names were listed as well, most of which were familiar to him. All of whom were deceased. Except one.
"Jonathon O'Neill, Lily's cousin. Hmm... I vaguely recall the last name, but not the first. Perhaps it is a nickname of some sort? What was it... Johnny, Jon, Jack... Jack! That's right, Cousin Jack. He dropped by for a visit in the summer before our fifth year, seems he was stationed at his first post somewhere in Italy and had a weekend stopover outside of London. American Air Force, I believe. He was only five or six years older," Snape's ramblings trailed off, lost in memory. He failed to notice the hungry expression on Harry's face -- an orphan desperate for the slightest hint of family history, given the chance to locate a true relative.
"Snape," he waited until the older man's head swung around to lock stares. "Severus... please. I'm willing to beg you, on my knees. If there's the least possibility he's still alive, I want to find him. Help me?"
He had never called the Potions Master by anything so familiar, and half-expected to be berated for the assumption. When no harm came to his body or ego, Harry breathed a sigh of relief and again made eye contact with the older wizard. There was something in Snape's expression he couldn't place, but it seemed to be a fair approximation of approval.
"Very well, Harry
," he stress the first name, "I do believe we might work something out between us." Stretching his long legs and arching his back until it popped, Snape sat up and drained the rest of his liquor. "Shall we cast the locator spells this evening, or would you rather wait until tomorrow? I imagine your Miss Granger would be most put out if you were to make plans without consulting her first."
Harry snickered at that. It was so very true. However, this was one decision he felt he could make alone. "Nah, let her find out when everyone else does. We'll leave a sketchy itinerary, and they've got my cell number. Anything else can wait, right? If Cousin Jack still lives in the States, it's not likely we can drag him back with us to meet everyone. Besides, we don't even know if he's... if he knows about magic and all. You said he visited for the summer, so he wouldn't necessarily have heard about Hogwarts."
"Hmm, yes. I cannot recall Lily saying anything about telling him of our world." Caught in remembrance, Snape once again missed the look of longing on his companion's face. "As I recall, he had fun at your father and godfather's expense. Perhaps that is where their pranking turned more serious. They had been outdone by an assumed Muggle." The note of humor in his voice was laden with satisfaction.
Giggling at the image of the infamous Marauders going head-to-head with a single Muggle, Harry soaked up the new information about members of his immediate family. It rarely happened that Snape was willing to tell tales that did not end with either Sirius or James in a poor light. Unfortunately, Harry couldn't help but feel that the Slytherin's views were closer to the truth than all the gushing stories told by infatuated fans. Even Headmistress McGonnigal was prone to waxing lyrical over the meaner pranks pulled by her favorite Gryffindors. The return to reality sobered his laughter.
"I'm sorry for everything they did to you, Severus," he began. True, it was hardly Harry's place to make apologies, but he was the only one left who might bring peace to the subject. "They had no right to be such bullies, to single out you or anyone else for their horrid jokes. If there's any way I can-"
"Stop." The command was sharp, but Snape's face showed just a hint of gratitude. "Do not attempt to make amends for the mistakes of your father and his friends. They were responsible for their own actions, and I for my reactions. We were all young, immature, playing at adult games and creating childish grievances." Twin spots of color appeared high on his cheeks. "For my part, I fully admit to taking more pleasure in making your school years difficult. There is a fine line between vengeance and justice, a fact that I sadly had forgotten."
He looked like he wanted to say more, but Harry's hand on his arm made Snape pause. "Thank you. Apology accepted, as I hope you have accepted mine. Pax?"
"Pax, Harry? Well now, you did study a bit of Latin outside the necessary spellwork."
Tension dissipating, Harry grinned again. It was long overdue, but finally a bit of peace between them had begun.~ * ~
The locator spell was every bit as easy as it seemed. Alexander Harris lived in a small town about two hours away from Los Angeles, while Jack O'Neill was on a military base outside of Colorado Springs. As they cleaned up their small mess in the study, Harry offered to make arrangements for travel and lodging, only to find that Severus was more Muggle-savvy than he appeared.
"I will contact the appropriate people in regards to our accommodations. Perhaps you could attempt to locate photographs of Mr. O'Neill during his visit. The additional proof of your identity cannot harm our claim, especially when it comes to dealing with a lifelong military man. As for my own visual evidence... it is time for me to maneuver my father's pitiful attempts at storage. Somewhere in the attic of the house at Spinner's End is a box that has not been opened, nor touched at all, since my days as apprentice to Master Neaders."
Such a long speech, unprompted, was so very out of character for the dour Potions Master that Harry found himself staring at the man's face a moment too long. Naturally, Snape felt eyes upon him and turned to quirk an eyebrow. Harry's face heated, and he prayed the blush didn't show.
"That is probably the most I have heard about your pre-teaching life that doesn't include reasons why you, justifiably, hated my father and Sirius."
Snape snorted, but the smallest hint of a grin appeared at one corner of his mouth. ~ * ~
Harry found it difficult to fall asleep that night. His mind refused to slow down enough, even though his body made its protests known. Too much excitement often caused temporary insomnia, a little voice (sounding suspiciously like Hermione) informed his brain. Between finding an uncle, or second cousin... whatever, and seeing a remarkably human side of Snape, he had enough dazzling information to keep him alert for a week.
Knowing he would need to be in top form in the morning, he gave in and took a half dose of Dreamless Sleep. Harry was actually quite proud of himself -- he had been near to addiction during the war, but had only needed to rely on the sleeping draught a dozen times or so in the past year. Within short order, he was sound asleep. His last thought, a thanks to his Potions Master's skills.~ * ~Shorts, socks, trainers, loafers, boots, denims, jumpers, t-shirts, vests, jackets, robes (just in case).
Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush (not that it would do much good), comb (likewise), razor (snort), shampoo, conditioner, soap.
Photo album of parents, photo album of friends, Consanguinity and a few other books to keep them entertained on the trip. Note to self to visit Aunt Petunia for old pictures of family reunions. Offer to bribe, threaten as necessary.
Harry's packing was almost complete by the time Mrs. Weasley called everyone down for breakfast. He had gotten less than six hours sleep, but woke refreshed and nearly bouncing off the walls. On his first trip to the loo, he caught the tail end of a suspiciously familiar set of black robes, and knew he was not the only one to be excited about their upcoming holiday.
With a spring in his step that was rarely seen in recent days, Harry bounded in to the kitchen, kissed Molly and Hermione on the cheek, and loaded up his plate with much larger portions than he had attempted since his most pronounced growth spurt in fifth year. Pleased but intensely curious, the women sat on either side of him and waited for Harry to swallow his third piece of bacon.
"Well," Hermione said, expecting an immediate response. None came. Harry simply took a huge bite of egg, dipped it in ketchup, and shoved it in his mouth. Then he attempted to smile around the resultant mess.
"Harry, really! Have you been taking lessons in table manners from my sons?" Molly sounded outraged, though she was highly relieved to see the poor lad eating properly at last. Once again, there was no reply.
The other men came down the stairs as a group, only to find their youngest caught between the Inquisitors. Arthur knew better than to interrupt his wife, but he knew no way to relay the information to his fellows. A defeated sigh followed immediately after Remus' inquiry of, "Molly, Hermione, what on earth are you doing to Harry? Leave him alone while he eats."
The ladies in question turned on him as one, with the elder as spokesperson. "Remus Lupin, there is something the matter with dear Harry. If you had half the common sense Merlin gave a crup, you would see it for yourself. Now either help us figure out how to fix him, or kindly sit down and keep quiet."
Amber eyes bulged, but Remus said no more as he did what he was told. From his quiet corner of the table, Mr. Weasley made the smallest motions possible while trying to finish his meal, and escape off to work. Only Severus seemed fully amused by the situation.
"Perhaps Molly, you should get a cup of tea and sit with us. Mr. Potter and I have an announcement to make, and while you are all present, we should get on with it." A finicky eater by nature, Snape took twice his normal portion of eggs and ham. More eyebrows raised, but now that the Master of Snark was present -- and in Harry's corner, for some odd reason -- all but Molly agreed to let the conversation advance on its own.
Waving a ladle in his direction, Mrs. Weasley scolded him as only she could do (and live to tell about it). "Severus Snape, do not
take that tone with me! When something so obviously different happens to one of mine -- and that includes you, Mister, don't think I can't see how ravenous you are this morning! -- I very well will
be concerned by it. And you can't stop me from caring-"
"Mrs. Weasley," the first words out of Harry all morning called an immediate halt to the impending battle. "Please, have a cuppa. As soon as I've finished eating, and it's really great stuff thank you, we'll tell you what's going on. But for now, I'm about ready for another helping. Is there enough for everyone? I could heat up some of last night's leftovers..."
Galvanized by something productive to take her mind off the worrying change in two of her flock, Molly shoo'd him back into his seat. "Now just you keep eating, dear. I'll fry up some hash -- filling stuff, and tastes like a dream -- and Hermione can toast another half loaf for us, can't you lovey?"
The witch in question arched a look at her friend, explaining quite eloquently but without words that she expected a full accounting in short order. Then she went and did as asked. However unnerving Harry's sudden increase in appetite was, she felt more relief than worry. It had been so terribly long since he had taken care of his physical needs.
Across the table, the 'culprits' shared an amused glance in between bites.
At last replete, Harry pushed his chair a little ways out from the table and covered his mouth to belch quietly. "Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, that was the best breakfast I've had in years. Thank you both!" He reached for the teapot and refilled his cup, taking a sip. "Now, to satisfy your burning curiosity before it eats away your good moods..." Another grin, this time shared with Remus, who had finally woken up enough to recall the previous evening's subject matter. "Yesterday, I got bored again. Yes, yes, thank you for your underwhelming show of support for my attention span," he interjected quickly as the table laughed at his expense. "Anyways
, I got bored and went exploring. Found a really neat little book in the family parlor at the back, you all know the one. Where generations of Blacks are stored to remind the world how pure-ly wicked they could be? That's it. So, I found this book, made sure it wasn't cursed six ways to Sunday, and came across a spell that sounded tailor-made for me."
Again, several people tried to interrupt. When Harry Potter, trouble magnet, claimed something was 'made just for him', his loved ones immediately drew up their guard.
"Oh hush, the lot of you," he grumbled, but with a smile. It was so nice to know who cared about his well-being enough to tell him when he was being an idiot. "The spell, well, Remus has heard of it, so Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, you probably have too. Consangui Veritas
-- it traces your true heritage, and can't be fooled by any potions or spells used to mask the unwanted from a family tree. Guess that's the main reason it's gone out of style, eh? I've left a copy of it in the library, if any of you want to use it while we're gone. Hermione, ask Remus why you'll probably get a giggle from it, alright?
"Now, as to why I'm nearly giddy this morning." Another sip of tea. Had it always tasted this good? "Snape and I cast it last night, and I found out that I've got a second cousin still living. Matter of fact, he remembers when Jack visited my mum while they were still in school. So we're going to take a trip, see if we can't get to know him." One more sip, and a third refill. "I hope it won't put anyone out if we abandon the research party? We can always look for more references while we're gone."
Harry finally came to a halt, snagging the last slice of toast and slathering it with marmalade. The room was nearly silent, except for the soft sounds of crunching. With the last bite in his mouth, he became the target of a barrage of questions.
"Where's this Jack person live?"
"What do you mean, taking a trip? Without us?"
"Potter, I do believe you could have handled the situation just a bit better," Snape's voice was easily heard above the din. When Severus Snape spoke, people listened. Or ran for their lives. Or exploded cauldrons. Whichever the case, he was kept entertained.
Grinning unrepentantly, Harry nodded his head. "Nope." He was awarded with an eyeroll. "Oh alright, so maybe I hammed it up just a little." Another eyeroll, and a snort of derision. "A lot. There, satisfied?" A 'hmph', end of debate. "There's just no pleasing some people." One-sided conversation over, he returned his attention to the rest of the group. Who were all staring at him as if he had grown a second head. "What?!"
"Harry Potter, desist in teasing the masses for one moment so that we might expedite our departure. I find myself in great need of a holiday from all things British at this point."
Harry faked a pouty lip, but ruined the effect when he nudged Ron, sitting to his left. "See that, mate? Snape can actually talk, and use more than insults. Didn't I just win a bet?" Slack-jawed, the redhead handed over a galleon. Harry chuckled and relaxed in his chair.
"Alright, here's what we've got planned. We're going to use today and tomorrow to get paperwork together, passports and the like, and dig up whatever old photos we can find as proof that I am who I think I am. Most of my packing's already done -- and thank you again, Hermione, for making me buy clothes that fit better than Dudley's old rejects. With my... adverse reaction to portkeys, we'll be taking a plane over to the States, then another one to Colorado. I'll have my cell phone with me in case anyone needs to get ahold of me, ok? And why's Snape going instead of any of you? He's the most effective bodyguard I could ask for. Not saying that anyone in this room wouldn't try
, but he's ruthless enough not to hesitate. You understand, right?"
Most everyone agreed and made it known. Only Ron was truly upset by the turn of events. "Mate, you know I'd protect you with my life-"
"I know, Ron, and you know how much that means to me," Harry interrupted before the redhead's feelings could get even more hurt. "But you don't need to leave Hermione for any length of time, not with the wedding coming up. And taking the both of you with me, when she's nearly at the end of uni, that would just be selfish. I'll be back in plenty of time to see you tie the knot, yeah? And I'll take loads of photos, bring back souvenirs, maybe find new pranks the twins haven't seen yet..." Catastrophe averted, Ron gave his friend's shoulder a squeeze. He was still visibly worried, but no longer hurt enough to make a scene.
Harry made sure to help wash up, spending a few minutes alone with Molly. She hadn't said more than a dozen words since his announcement, which was beginning to worry him. Drying off the last plate, he wiped the counter and laid his towel across its rack, then pulled his surrogate mother into a big, tight hug.
"Mrs. Weasley, are you really against me meeting up with Jack?" he had to ask.
She ran both hands across her face, wiping the thin layer of perspiration from hot dishwater away from her eyes. "No Harry dear, not at all. I remember Lily's cousin -- just a bit, mind. He was a dashing young man, so handsome and funny! Why, Arthur actually got jealous of the gentlemanly kiss he placed on the back of my hand." A fond chuckle. "I do wish I had remembered him years ago, dear. He would have taken you away from those dreadful Dursleys without a question. Of course, then we would have missed seeing you grow up..."
"Oh Molly," Harry held her just a bit tighter, not realizing he had called her by her given name for the first time. It seemed to ease her pain just a little. "I don't regret waiting this long to find a blood relative. How could I? You and your brood have kept me filled up with all the family I could handle. Can't help that I'm curious now, can I? I've met friends and relatives of my dad's, of Sirius' -- even if the Black family is mostly bugshite crazy, pardon my language -- but no one's ever mentioned much about my mum's kin." He wiped away the single tear to escape her eye.
"Besides," he returned on a more teasing note, "haven't you been at me to take a holiday for the last couple of years? Here it is, I'm getting away from it all for a couple of months. And you can make whatever command decisions are necessary about my place in Ron and 'Mione's wedding while I'm gone. There's plenty of time now, right?"
She sniffled and scrubbed harshly at her face, then gave a watery smile. "Of course there is, dear. You enjoy yourself, do you hear me? And if you get the chance, would you take a short detour? I've always wanted..."~ * ~
Later that afternoon, it was with a great deal of relief that Harry closed the back door on his loving family and friends. He exchanged a rueful look with Snape, then nodded and Apparated. Moments later, both wizards reappeared in the back yard of the Order's single Squib member, Mrs. Figg. They said their hello's and walked swiftly down the street to No. 4 Privet Drive.