Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. It mainly belongs to the goddess JKR or an awfully long list of people... (the MOSSes -Ministry Officers of State Security- are mine). If you like it, review and feed my soul. And since we don't need to hurt each other, if you don't like it, don't tell me ! Flamers will be adopted by my family (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you !)
I really would like to thank my editor! Without her my grammar goes down the drain... She's saving me and takes care of the coherence of the plot bunnies, she's the amazing and brilliant SilentG [http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=197488] The remaining mistakes are all mine, and I apologize for those.
There's a little something for Miranda in that chapter... ^_^
Chapter Fourteen - Back to Hogwarts
Finally, the day comes when Harry and Severus have to start packing to go back to Hogwarts. The first staff meeting is scheduled at teatime, so they have some hours before it's time to Apparate to the gates of the school. Câly is doing most of the packing and she will go to Hogwarts and put everything in the quarters they will now share.
Therefore, after breakfast, Harry suggests one last stroll in town. Severus frowns. Câly grins, for she knows Severus will accept. At nine o'clock, they go out.
Harry opens the door and, as Severus is locking it, their neighbours, the Synons, exit their house as well. Three days after Apparating to Oxford, Severus went next door for a quick cup of tea; he told Thomas, Susan and David that he had been working on something very important for the past few years and that he was working on something even bigger, so they should not be surprised if they didn't see much of him this summer or the next and, indeed, Severus has been way too busy with his soulmate, the blessing ceremony and his guests to think of his Muggle neighbours...
But the Synons are neither blind, nor stupid. True, they don't know that the quiet Professor Snape who has been their neighbour for quite a long time now is an actual wizard, but they have seen him outside his home with that charming young man and they're no fools on that head.
"Good morning, Severus," say Mr and Mrs Synon.
"Good morning," Severus answers, shaking their hands, "May I introduce you to my fellow, Professor Harry Potter ? Harry, meet our neighbours, Thomas and Susan Synon... You've already met their son David..."
They exchange their how-do-you-dos and Susan spots the rings, her husband follows her eyes and smiles.
"Tell us, Severus, 'fellow' is the word you use in the North when you're involved with someone ?" Thomas asks kindly.
Severus looks deep into Harry's eyes, searching for approval; he thinks he can see fireworks in there!
"That's one of them, yes," the dark-eyed wizard declares.
"And we really are working together," Harry adds.
"What do you teach ?" David eagerly wonders.
Well, if Severus said he teaches chemistry... "Self-defence... It's one of the classes in our institution," Harry lies.
"You should teach some of that to our son, Harry," Susan says.
"The streets are not safe enough," Thomas adds.
"I could, but next summer now, we're expected back at school soon," Harry answers the mother and son and, turning to the father, he adds, "I didn't have the feeling the streets where unsafe."
"Thanks, you'll have me on your doormat as soon as you're back!" David exclaims.
Severus notes the shadows in Thomas's eyes and asks, "What's wrong ?"
"There were some weird attacks some months ago and each time David returned home from choir we feared something might happen in the deserted streets," Susan explains.
Of course, the Death Eaters attacks on Muggles could not all have been hidden by the Ministry.
"Mum!" David shouts.
"Oi! Don't shout at your mother for caring!" Harry says seriously, but with a huge smile.
"As you wish Professor Potter!" David answers with a grin.
"Well, my dear neighbour if you avoided us because of that... change in your life... Well, you shouldn't have," Thomas says.
Harry and Severus look at each other.
"Some of our friends and family didn't take the news that well," Severus informs them.
"Your... family ?" Susan wonders. She knows that Severus is an orphan so it can only mean that it's Harry's family who has badly reacted.
"One of my godfathers," Harry states.
"Godfathers... Plural ?" David asks.
"That's all my parents had at hand at the time and we have... weird traditions," Harry offers.
"Well, never mind... Next summer you shouldn't stay away from our wild tea parties... and, Professor Snape, you should have known that we wouldn't mind welcoming Harry as your partner in our home," David declares.
"You know, since my godfather and the mother of my best friend called us names, we tend to be careful," Harry says.
"Your way of life is perfectly OK with me," David adds.
Severus and Harry raise their eyebrows.
David understands that they wonder where his loyalties lie and he says, "Oh! No... I just don't give a damn about your tastes because it's none of my business and it's perfect for me... There are potentially more girls for me!"
Harry laughs heartily.
"David!" Susan says, faking outrage.
The couple of wizards can't resist and say in unison, "Dr Scott!"
They look at each other, the Synons look at them and at one another and they all burst out laughing. Susan almost ruins her make-up crying with laughter...
"Where did you pick that reference ?" Severus asks his lover when he stops laughing.
"Hermione... When she was doing her research... You know which one..." Harry utters between giggles, "And you ?"
"I was still clubbing when that came on stage..." Severus answers.
"We only saw the film, but that was hilarious!" David exclaims enthusiastically.
They all smile.
"Well, you promise you'll visit us next summer ?" Susan asks.
"We will," Severus promises.
They all walk down the street to the first crossing; the Synons take the street on the right and Harry and Severus remain on High Street.
"They're amazing!" Harry says dreamily.
"Thank Merlin there are some tolerant people in this world."
"After Molly and Sirius, they're refreshing..."
"You're still mad at them," Severus states.
"Utterly disappointed," Harry sighs.
Severus brushes his band against Harry's and the DADA teacher grins. They're starting to get good at that...
"We'll visit the Synons next year ?" Harry inquires.
"If we can keep our hands off each other long enough after a whole year at Hogwarts, certainly... But you'll admit that I couldn't tell them the reason why we stayed in our bedroom..."
"Or the garden..."
"Ah! I knew I'd convert you to cellars!" Severus says with the smile Harry had created in his life.
"You were certainly most convincing!" Harry grants him.
"I'll have to introduce you to some of the rooms in the dungeons when our students are tucked in bed or in Hogsmeade..."
"How many of them do you think we can convince not to stay at school for Christmas ?" Harry wonders.
"I think that those who still have relatives will go back home, but the others will stay with us... And we'll have to take care of them," Severus answers, the weight of their new duty heavy in his voice.
"The owl that came yesternight brought you the parchment concerning the Slytherins."
Severus didn't want to bother Harry with that.
"And ?" Harry asks.
"A third of the second up to seventh years have lost at least one relative in the War, on one side or the other and the statistics for the first years are not much better. We even lost some of our students..." there is no point in lying.
"Then we'll have to be their family... I'm sure Albus will find something to cheer up those who'll stay for Christmas," Harry says.
"He'll certainly ask you to help him!"
"Usually the Potions master gets away with missing those social events for being a cold-blooded snake," Severus declares.
"You know, I'm not sure they'll love me that much the way I plan to teach them how to protect themselves... The DADA position has been in bad hands for too long and I do mean to stop it. If I can prevent another Voldemort from operating in our lifetime and if I can prepare some generations of witches and wizards to fight evil, I will have truly earned my wages!"
That time, Harry doesn't need to have their bands in contact: Severus's love is patent in his eyes and for one second he considers melting on the floor...
They keep strolling and chatting. They end up in a souvenir shop where Severus almost has an attack when he sees Harry choosing a mug; it's hideous to his mind: a brown pottery with something he would call a badge and on which a male character is riding a bicycle. Severus picks up a black China mug with the crest of the University of Oxford in silver.
Harry takes it and reads aloud, "'Dominus illuminatio mea'... why not... But, you know, I was only looking for someplace to put my quills and that would remind me of Oxford."
"Oh!... I see... Well, if you don't plan to drink from that thing under my nose in our quarters for over a century and it's for your office... I won't try to influence you less than discreetly."
"How kind of you!" Harry laughs.
"You're welcome," and Severus smiles.
Harry buys the black mug...
As they have lunch in the garden, they suddenly hear cries coming from one of the bushes: two animals are fighting. Wands in hand, both wizards run towards the noise and they lift and separate the two creatures. A grass-snake and a black kitten are floating.
Severus grabs the frightened kitten and Harry takes the snake. After a few words with him, Harry knows that the snake was taking a nap, knowing that he had nothing to fear in that garden and that the house elf is glad of his eating the mice. She even gives him milk regularly... And then he was awakened by that black pest playing with his back end! Harry offers to heal his scratches and the snake gladly accepts. As Harry puts a spell on the small wounds, the snake says that he might have bitten the kitten. Harry tells him that they'll deal with the cat, and he invites the snake to make himself known the next time they come, he'll have a cup of milk for free. The snake thanks Harry and Severus, though he cannot understand him, and he slithers away.
"He said she might need attention because he's certainly bitten her," Harry declares.
The black kitten is clinging to Severus for dear life and it's Harry who has to check her. She has some superficial wounds from the fight in the bush, but otherwise she's all right.
Severus puts her on the lawn... and she jumps back into his arms.
Thrice he does so, thrice she goes back to him.
Harry casts a charm on her to know if she could be some Animagus or some lost wizard pet, but it seems that she is an ordinary kitten. A lost kitten.
"Why don't you keep her ?" Harry asks Severus.
He looks at Harry, then at the cat. He's never had a pet.
"I could help with her if you want," Harry eagerly offers.
Severus knows he has one thing to do.
"Hedwig!" he calls.
And the white owl perches on his shoulder.
"Do you think she could be an addition to our household ?" he asks the bird.
She gently hoots and flies back in.
The kitten is purring in her new master's arms.
"She loves you Severus!"
"Merlin knows why."
Harry hates it when his soulmate's self-esteem is that low.
"What are you going to name her ?" Harry asks.
"We could choose a name together," he offers.
"We'll do that for the children, but the cat is all yours!"
"Children ?" Severus whispers, "When did we agree to a plural form ?"
"I'm an optimistic Gryffindor, you should be used to it by now," Harry answers with a grin.
Severus sighs and looks at the cat that is now his. Her fur is black as a moonless night, her eyes like gold.
"She looks as if she might need a good name to protect her from evil... What do you think of Leila ?"
Harry looks at the cat and calls, "Leila!"
The kitten turns towards his voice.
"It works!" Harry says.
"She's only reacting to your voice, not the name!"
"Never mind! We like it!" Harry answers with a grin.
Severus sighs again, but it's not convincing since he's smiling at the very same time.
"Câly!" Severus calls.
"You're keeping the kitten," she announces as soon as she pops into the garden, "The snake and Hedwig told me..."
Severus gives Leila to Câly and the wizards finish their lunch while the elf looks for a basket to transport the kitten to Hogwarts.
Now, Severus watches as Câly adds Harry's shopping to their luggage. It's four in the afternoon and they'll have to go in a very few minutes.
Severus is already in his Hogwarts attire and Harry is donning his.
"Why did you buy the black mug ?" Severus asks.
With a huge smile and sparks in his eyes that convey all his love, Harry answers, "Because I'll think of you each time I take a quill in my office."
Before they Disapparate, Severus properly kisses his soulmate to thank him for that confession.
Then, they find themselves in front of the gates. Câly has reduced the size of their possession and has them obediently floating behind her.
"I'll go to your quarters and put everything in place so you can go to your meeting," the elf offers.
Both nod and she dissolves into the air.
They walk hand in hand to the castle, perfectly aware that this is one of the few times they'll allow themselves the luxury of such a display. Both agree that their relationship has to be as discreet as possible. What they did in the Leaky Cauldron days ago was a way to tell people that 'yes we're living together and have bonded our lives'...
They reach the door and open it together.
They're both smiling as they enter the school: it's another beginning to their life together. The opening of that door is a symbol: they're entering the magical community together, as a couple, to teach the children and improve their world.
They walk side by side to the staff room. They can hear their fellows merrily chatting as the door has been left open. Severus signals Harry to go in first and his lover smiles and winks.
Side by side, dressed in black in the exact same kind of robes, equally tall, both wizards make their fellows speechless. Most of them haven't seen them since the last battle and some haven't seen Harry since he passed his NEWTs over a year ago.
The other professors are silent for five seconds, then they heartily greet Harry and Severus.
Minerva ends in Harry's arms and Professor Flitwick wants to know more about the spell they used to defeat Voldemort. They all congratulate them, for what they've done to save them all and for their union.
Both wizards are still shaking hands when Albus comes in.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I think we can start our first meeting of the new school year," Albus solemnly declares.
They all sit down around the tables that have been placed so they can face one another.
Severus and Harry sit down side by side and no one comments.
"This meeting is very special: it's the first time we won't have to deal with issues concerning the Order before we share our tea. I want to tell you how happy I am to have you all back here and I want to welcome Harry who, hopefully, will be our DADA teacher for many long and fruitful years," Albus says.
Harry nods and his new fellows tap the table in approval...
Albus hands parchments and goes on, "You will find in those parchments the schedules for the year and the Exams calendar..."
The meeting goes on and teachers point out some things, ask questions...
At one point, Professor Hooch asks Harry why he hasn't given a reference text-book for his students.
"That's quite simple. The collection of DADA teachers, except Remus Lupin and Crouch up to a certain extent, were all pitiful examples and I've been learning more outside their classroom. I couldn't find only one text-book that could be used so I'm writing one, but I've had only one month to do so, as you know. I will work on practical exercises and cross-tutoring for the elder students with those who have agreed to join. Come next year, text-books should be ready for all levels," Harry announces.
Most teachers are impressed by his approach, and his confidence reminds them of a certain bearded and blue-eyed wizard with a poor taste in clothes...
Yes, the DADA position is in good hands...
They all share some more information and Albus finally orders the house elves to bring the tea and he invites the four Heads of Houses to follow him to his office.
As soon as Severus is out of the room, all the remaining professors ask questions to Harry, as if they didn't have enough courage when the Potions master was around... Ranging from trivial questions about his health after the final battle, to his bonding, to his life with his soulmate.
Harry manages to answer each and every question without giving away too much information.
"You're quite a Slytherin now," Hooch whispers in his ear, but the sparks in her eyes are merry. She's happy for him.
"Would you referee some Quidditch games ?" she asks.
"I'd be delighted!" he answers, offering her another scone.
The Heads and Albus come back and they all chat till Câly pops into the room.
"Everything is in order. All you'll have to do is deal with your desks," she says.
"Thank you, Câly," Severus says.
"Now you can go back home and deal with the jams you wanted to make," Harry adds.
"I'll bring you some," she promises.
Harry and Severus, to absolutely everyone's surprise, stand up and kiss her brow before she dissolves away.
All the teachers decide to check their offices and Harry and Severus go separate ways.
When she's reaching the end of the corridor, Poppy Pomfrey remembers that Severus must have potions for her and she resumes her steps.
"Severus!" she calls. And Harry turns around with a blinding smile.
"No, but maybe I can help..." he offers.
The mediwitch blinks repeatedly.
"Merlin, Harry! I hadn't noticed how much you and Severus look alike in those robes! But I should have paid attention to your hair!" she exclaims.
"Well, I tried to let my hair grow, back in those days when I wanted to do things like Severus and I didn't know I was in love with him yet, but can you imagine it three inches longer and as undisciplined as it is now ?" Harry answers.
Poppy chuckles, visualizing that perfectly.
"Would you like me to bring you the potions Severus prepared for you ?" Harry offers.
"I don't want to keep you away from your office, you must have a lot to do for your first start of the school year... as a teacher. Maybe you can have the potions delivered by an elf once you're both settled in your quarters," she suggests.
"All right, we will," he says.
And Poppy leaves him.
In the end, Albus insisted in giving him an office outside the dungeons and closer to the DADA classroom, the Gryffindor Tower and his own office.
Harry's office is very much like Minerva's, but a little bare, and the young wizard reflects that he'll have to work on that. On his desk he finds his schedules, the programs for his students, his drafts for the text-book, his seal, his quills and ink and his black mug; Câly has left everything in the middle of the desk so that Harry can place everything according to his taste. He hastily puts everything as it was on his Oxonian desk and he goes down to the dungeons: what he really wants is to see how Severus's quarters look with his possessions around. He wants to see *their* quarters.
When he arrives there, he finds that Severus beat him to the spot.
Câly has done an amazing job and she even managed to find pictures of their parents to put on the mantelpiece.
"Is it me, or..." Harry starts.
And Severus interrupts him to say, "No, you're right, our parlour is bigger, but so are the other rooms: bedroom and bathroom and we now have a huge dressing-room..."
"But we don't have that many clothes!" Harry exclaims.
"Don't tell me... It must be the castle's idea. If I didn't dread the boring issue, I would ask Binns how the prior couples in the staff have been acknowledged by Hogwarts," Severus says.
"I'll do some research in the Library," Harry offers.
"I'll help you! I'd like to know how much we can expect from those walls."
Harry only nods: he knows that Severus has got used to his being around as much as he has, but Harry will not embarrass his soulmate with the feelings Severus has for him.
They explore their new playground till it's time to share dinner with their fellows and after, they go to the Library...
They have but a day before the students arrive tomorrow night.
When Harry opens his eyes, he's on a train; it's an old train, but not as old as the Hogwarts Express.
Severus is sitting in front of him, dressed in Muggle clothes.
"What are we doing here ?" Harry wonders.
"I wanted to show you something... We're almost there."
The train pulls into a station and they get down. Harry looks at the name on the notice board. It says 'Reims' and the ads are in French.
"You took me to France ?"
"Yes, there's something I want to share with you..." Severus explains.
They exit the station, cross a square where the bushes are small hazelnut trees. They reach a huge pedestrian precinct where restaurants follow take aways, bakeries and delicatessens. The weather is glorious and the street full of tourists.
Harry's hand is in Severus's and he leads him with ease through the crowd.
They finally reach the cathedral Notre-Dame.
"It's very different from the Parisian cathedral," Harry declares.
Severus smiles and drags him inside, he shows him the window-panes and the statues, but he soon takes him back outside.
"The reason why I brought you here is that angel," he says.
On the great door, on the left, a winged angel is smiling. The smile is so cryptic that Harry is mesmerized.
The green-eyed one can feel the happiness of his lover at sharing that with him and he turns towards him with a smile full of love.
They kiss... and they wake up.
"Merlin! What was that ?" Harry says, panting, half-sprawled on his lover in their Hogwarts bed in their quarters, down in the dungeons.
Severus chuckles and answers, "I hoped I could take you with me in a dream. It's a combination of memory and astral projection."
"Were we in Reims ?"
"Somehow... yes, but no one could see us..." Severus tells him.
"How much can we do in dreams ?" Harry asks, his emerald eyes twinkling.
"Why don't we start some research on that topic ?"
"Can we start tonight ?"
"If our charges don't exhaust us after the Sorting... Why not..."
And both men leave the haven of their bed to go and have breakfast with their fellows...
It's the calm before the storm... a storm known as school term...
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