Disclaimer: I own nothing...and the song lyrics and titles are from And You And I by Yes.
I. Cords of Life
Harry Potter rarely ever returned to Grimmauld Place since he'd defeated the Dark Lord Voldemort. The fact was he hated the place. It held only horrible memories, painful experiences and loss. Nothing good ever happened at Grimmauld. He'd thought about selling it to Andromeda Tonks, but even she really disliked the old house.
So he still let the Order use it. Granted, there was really little need for the Order of the Phoenix, but it seemed that no one wanted to disband this time around. Nymphadora Tonks was practically living there. Remus Lupin did, along with Mundungus Fletcher and a few others that made up their rag-tag team.
Harry never minded, he would rather give Remus and the others a home then have it stand barren collecting only Merlin knew what.
The only semi-permanent fixture in the house that Harry couldn't understand, and was quite perturbed by, was Severus Snape. Harry just could not fathom why the man insisted on keeping a room there, even though he had chambers at Hogwarts and it was rumoured he owned a large family home. But, being Harry Potter, he couldn't tell the man that he was not welcome when there were at least ten other regulars in the joint.
Harry arrived, finding the normally bustling house to be quite deserted. He was only there because Remus had invited him to dinner with the gang. Had anyone else invited him, he wouldn't have bothered, but he missed Remus and had adopted him as a surrogate father. As he walked through the silent hallway, he couldn't imagine where everyone had gotten to. He entered the basement kitchen only to find it completely desolate. Harry walked through a few rooms hoping to find someone, anyone at all. He came around a corner and found the parlour doors open and an unwelcome black figure seated by the fire.
Snape was staring into the flames, a glass of some unknown liquid in his hand. Harry walked into the room, absorbing the heat from the well stoked fireplace. It was a particularly cold November day and the fire felt lovely. Before he was able to speak, Snape snapped, "It's a wonder you defeated the Dark Lord, what with your superior stealth." He drank back the rest of the contents of his glass and muttered something foreign under his breath.
Immediately, Harry felt like a student again, even if he'd been out of Hogwarts for four years. "Erm...sorry sir, I was just looking for Remus," he managed to say before he mentally kicked himself for being such a twit. This was his ex-professor; key word being 'ex', he was allowed to speak his mind now.
Snape turned his head in a deliberate, slow manner. Motioning with the hand that still clutched the empty glass, he responded with venom in his voice. "Lupin must obviously be one of those Invisible Lycanthropes all the kids are talking about. Get out of my sight, Potter. I am far from being in the mood to entertain your stupidity."
This time, Harry didn't hold his tongue. "You seem to forget, Snape, this is my house. The last time I checked, you were only a squatter. So either start making with the nice or get the hell out." To spite the man, he walked over and sat on the sofa that ran parallel to the wing chair the Potions master occupied.
Snape, being the stubborn man that he was, stood his ground, never taking his eyes off of Harry until he sat, then deliberately turning them to the flames, locking them there indefinitely. He reached a slender hand to grasp an odd shaped bottle, pouring another glass of the golden liquid.
"What are you drinking?" Harry asked, not recognizing the bottle as anything he'd seen before. That and he wanted to be rather obnoxious and hopefully convince Snape that he wasn't welcome.
The dark man lifted the glass to eye level, watching the fire dance behind its golden hue. He closed his eyes, his lips moving in a silent toast followed by a generous sip. "Considering the fact that you were raised by Muggles," he finally drawled, "you seem to know very little about them. This is Stara Sokolova, plum brandy."
"When did you become so worldly on the subject of Muggles? I thought all Slytherins kept their distance from anything Muggle related, assuming they may become diseased." Harry replied, half spiteful, half with interest. He assumed he was just bored and since he had to wait for Remus, wherever the hell he may be, he might as well be entertained by the snarky bastard.
Severus only stared into the flames. He lifted his glass again before knocking back the gold liquid.
Harry was actually rather put-out by Severus' lack of venom, lack of reply. "Oh Merlin, have I actually quieted the mouth of Severus Snape with a pathetic cut?" he asked, crossing his arms over his chest and feeling rather superior.
Severus only raised one eyebrow and cast a sidelong glance before saying, "I agree, it was a pathetic cut that I refuse to lower myself to respond to. I know you are capable of sharper barbs." He turned his attention back to the flames, "Obviously, the mongrel isn't here, so leave me to my misery." He clutched his glass tightly, knuckles whitening.
This peaked the emerald-eyed young man's interest. "Misery? What do you have to be miserable about? The war has been over for four years, you're free, I don't charge rent, get over yourself." He heard the front door open and Remus calling him from down the hall. He stood up, casting a look of disgust at the dark man. "You know what? Wallow in your self pity; no one gives a fuck what you do. Do us all a favour..." He stopped mid-sentence as the glass in Snape's hand shattered.
There was blood dripping from his clenched fist and Harry's eyes grew wide. He hadn't really meant those words, it was just being back at Grimmauld, the anger and hate of the place always seemed to do horrible things to his personality. "I'm...oh shit...I'm really sorry..."
Snape's jet orbs fell on Harry and he winced at the anger, hate and pain he saw within the fathomless depths. He slowly backed out of the room as Snape turned, silently, back to the flames, ignoring the broken glass and blood in his hand.
"...Hermione, NO!" he called as the blue curse hit her in the chest. She writhed on the ground, her mouth open in a silent scream of pain and torture. He could feel arms holding him back, holding him from his friend. He watched helplessly as the Cruciatus was released, as Ron ran to his girlfriend and pulled her into his arms. He too was struck by a purple shock of lightning that brought him down hard on his knees, clutching his arm to his chest.
Harry fought against the arms that held him, fought them with all he was. He pulled, needing to help his friends, knowing they wouldn't last much longer if he didn't get out there and stop that monster from killing them. In his ear a familiar voice hissed. "Foolish boy, they are dead either way. You cannot help them by getting yourself killed."
He could feel his stomach drop to his feet as he spun and faced those inky black orbs. "I'd rather die with them than die with you!" He startled as he saw hurt flash across those normally unreadable eyes.
Through clenched teeth, Snape hissed, "I don't recall giving you an option." He pulled Harry by the arm, roughly, and away into safety as Harry continued to struggle, the sounds of Hermione's screams and Ron's anguished cries permeating his very soul..."
Harry awoke with a start, the bedclothes stuck to his form. He could still hear their cries and he leaned over the edge of the bed and vomited. There was very little of the final battle that Harry actually remembered and this was the first nightmare he'd had since that horrible night.
He found his wand and spelled away his mess. "It's this damned house," he hissed to himself. "Why did I let Remus convince me to spend the night?" he asked the empty room. Because you could see the loneliness and the pain in his face when he thought you were about to say no. He needs you Harry and you are turning your back on him because you are afraid of this house, his conscience chastised him.
Harry rolled off the bed, hitting the floor hard. The cool night air caused his bare chest to break out in goose bumps. He absently threw on his sweatshirt and trudged downstairs for something to drink. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep again this night; at least he could get a cup of tea and possibly some biscuits. The wood floor was cold on his bare feet as he made his way through the old house. As soon as his feet hit the first floor landing, he spied the glow of firelight shining through the open parlour doors. "Who the hell is still up at this time?" he asked himself in a whisper.
Slowly, he padded down the final stairs and crept over to the door, peering around the corner. Harry did not expect the sight that lay before him.
Snape, sitting on the hearthrug, one empty bottle of plum brandy beside him, another clutched in one bandaged hand. In his lap was draped a deep purple and black skirt of taffeta. He continued to gaze longingly into the flames as he stroked the material, as though it were a purring cat. Under his breath, Harry could hear the dark man whispering words. Some were recognizable but others were in a language he did not comprehend.
"Daj, your sumadji are few. Please forgive me Daj, I never wanted this life. I never meant to hurt you, Daj...never, I never meant to hurt him." He lifted the gold liquid to his lips and knocked back a heavy draught. Harry could tell by the slight sway to his body, Snape was drunk. He knew that the man would kill him if he ever found out that he was witnessing such weakness, but Harry couldn't turn away. He took a few steps back so that he was against the far wall and slid down. He sat in the box of light that streamed from the overly warm room, watching the broken man before him, amazed and intrigued by the shear passion his words were spoken with.
"Si khohaimo may patshivalo sar o tshatshimo. Akana mukav tut le Devlesa.1" Again, he lifted the bottle and Harry could see the dampness that streaked the man's face. Something about the honesty in his voice and the pureness of his gestures fascinated Harry. In all his years of knowing the man, he'd never seen such passion come from his soul. Obviously, the skirt had belonged to someone the man had loved dearly, but who? All his time spent with the man during the war and they never once discussed Snape's personal life. The sight before him, how Snape clutched the purple fabric, only caused Harry to feel something he'd thought he'd buried along time ago. But as he sat there, witnessing the man's bleeding heart, something in Harry melted, acknowledged the fact that the man before him was capable of more then just malice and venom.
Snape had slumped against the sofa, his second bottle half empty and clutched tightly in his wounded hand. Harry felt a pang of guilt for being the cause of the man's wound. There was a soft humming sound coming from the room and it took Harry a few moments to realize that Snape was humming a tune. It sounded sad and full of lament, but with the faint tones of a lullaby. There were no words sung, only the soft melody hummed in a deep, drunken, honeyed baritone.
The grandfather clock above the mantel chimed the twelfth hour and Snape began to rise. Harry quickly shuffled his body into the shadows, praying the man was too inebriated to notice his presence. With as much grace as he could muster, Severus stood, smoothing the skirt in his arms and gripping his bottle, tightly, he walked closer to the flames. "Happy Birthday, Daj. Me kom tu," he whispered, kissing the skirt and hugging it tight to his chest. Snape then slunk from the room, tripping, in an undignified manner, up the stairs and out of Harry's sight.
Harry walked into the parlour and doused the fire out of habit. During the war, all fireplaces were doused at night as a precaution. It was a habit Snape himself had instilled in him, so it was odd to see the man forget. He dropped himself onto the sofa and tried desperately to wrap his mind around this new Snape. He was unsure of what to think.
"Harry, is that you?" Remus' voice called from the hallway.
Harry startled slightly, and then responded in a soft voice, "Yeah, Remus, I'm in the parlour." He scratched his stomach and stretched, waiting for the werewolf to find him.
He popped his head around the corner, tired and ruffled. "Alright, Harry?" The tall lithe man entered the room and took the wing chair Snape had occupied earlier. He cocked his head, looking extremely concerned.
Harry offered him a weak smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little on edge being back here. Lot of crap memories and such and I couldn't sleep." He glanced off toward the cold fireplace, wondering if he could see what Snape had held with such interesting. After some welcome silence, Harry asked, "Remus? What does me kom tu mean?"
Remus, who had been watching the young man with worry, smiled and with a slight chuckle responded, "Did someone say it to you?"
Harry looked confused, "Um...no...I just heard it and only wondered if it meant something. I'm not even sure what language it is."
"Well Harry," Remus started as he stood and stretched. "If someone had said it to me, I'd consider myself lucky. Me kom tu is 'I love you' in Romany." He smiled at Harry's confused face. "I've spent a lot of time travelling, in a vain attempt to try to find a cure for my...yeah. Well, obviously I've been unsuccessful, but I did pick up bits of language here and there. The Romany Gypsies were lovely folk, even if they were unnerved by my presence. Sharp, they are. Spotted me a mile away," he said, a hint of regret tainting his voice. "I could have been happy with them, if I didn't need restraining once a cycle." He began to walk toward the door. "Thank Merlin for Severus and his amazing abilities."
Harry cringed, again with Snape, again with him being the bloody focus of his night. "Yeah," he snorted, "thank Merlin for Severus 'Effing' Snape."
Remus stopped and turned slowly, "Harry are you still bitter over Severus interfering during the battle? You really shouldn't..."
"What? I really shouldn't what?" he suddenly yelled, turning on his surrogate Godfather. "If he had just let me alone I could have helped Ron and Hermione, they would still be..." He couldn't finish, his breathing came out harsh and ragged as he dropped and gazed at his clenched hands.
Remus walked over and sat beside him, stroking his back. "Harry, you couldn't have helped them. Besides, last I heard, they were both very happy, living in...well...Molly wouldn't say, but she did say they have two children and are doing very well."
"But they don't even know who I am. My best friends and to help them I had to give them up." His eyes watered but he refused to let the tears fall. He never cried, at least not in front of anyone.
"Harry, the healers thought it was for the best. They were tortured by the memories of what had happened. Which would you have preferred, having them live in pain but still be in their lives, or to lose them and at least know they are happy and healthy." Remus' words were true and Harry hated them.
He shuddered as he remembered his last visit to St. Mungo's to see them. Ron was jabbering on about the Death Eaters and how they were all around him, he could still see them in his minds-eye. It was painful to witness. Though, it was worse to see Hermione cowering in the corner, red marks down her cheeks as though she had been trying to scratch her eyes out. The curse was meant to drive them insane, it would forever taunt them with their worst memories. The only way to heal them was to remove some of their memories. This was tricky due to the fact that they had to modify the basic memory spell.
Both Hermione and Ron's families agreed to try the spell, unfortunately it worked to a degree that any aspect of the war was removed. That also meant the hero of the war himself, Harry. The Weasleys and the Grangers then agreed it would be best to send the couple away, to build their lives in a place away from everything that could trigger the memories to return. Harry grudgingly agreed, knowing it was for the best.
Part of Harry, the part that comes out in the darkest hours of the night to taunt him with its brutal honesty, wished they'd just died during the war. He might have been able to deal with their loss, knowing it was final. This was worse, knowing they were out living their lives, having babies and loving one another and he couldn't share with them their joy. They were his everything and they were gone.
"I would have taken the curse for them," he whispered, "Their delirium would have been a welcome exchange for this pain, I'd take it from them any day." He was clenching his fists, relaxing them and clenching again. "Snape pulled me away and I could hear them cry out. I couldn't get away from the bastard and they were hit. If he'd just kept his beak of a nose out of my life..."
"You'd be dead!" Remus said sternly. "You need to stop acting like he ruined your life, Harry. Severus may be a lot of things, but he is loyal. He swore to protect you at all costs and that is what he did. It is rather selfish of you to ignore what that man has sacrificed for you. What we've..." he stopped when Harry shot him with emerald-eyes.
"Say it, Remus...say it. It's what you're thinking so just bloody say it. You've all sacrificed for me. I'm the reason half the Order is dead, why you lost Sirius, why Tonks can't have children. In an attempt to keep me alive so I could perform my duty in this life, you've all given up so much. Thank you," he said, seething. "Thank you, but no thank you. I never wanted anyone to die for me, to sacrifice their happiness for me. Maybe it would be best if you all had memory charms applied, then the pain won't be so bad."
He stood up, shrugging Remus off his shoulder. He left the werewolf to his devices as he headed up to his room. As he passed Snape's room he cast a withering look at the door. "Bastard ruined everything. Whoever she was that you loved, you probably ruined her also." He then pushed open his own door and began to pack up his belongings. He was going home.
Halfway through collecting his belongings, Harry felt a pang of guilt and decided to remain, at least until morning. He showered and dressed; resigning himself for the huge apology he owed Remus. With a sigh, he opened the door and headed down stairs toward the kitchen. As he reached the stairs by the front door, a soft knock came from the other side.
"Bit early for company, Dung must have forgotten he's a wizard again," he whispered as he pulled the door open, mindful of the ever present portrait of Mrs. Black.
A young man stood before him, about his age. He had dark curls and eyes almost as black as Hagrid's. His skin was dark and his clothing was distinctive, almost nomadic...gypsy-like. He clutched an ornate box with his left arm. "Can I help you?" Harry asked.
The young man smiled and it was dazzling, he bowed his head slightly and with his free hand he held it out to Harry. "I am Milosh Stojka, I am here to speak with Severus Snape. I was told I could find him here by a Madam McGonagall."
Harry shook his hand, noting how warm he was on this cold November day. "Come in, Mr. Stojka. Sna...um, Mr. Snape should be down shortly, would you care for a cup of tea? Could I take your parcel?"
The young man smiled again, "I will hold onto it, thank you. It is my duty to deliver it and I cannot release it until I do." He paused for a half second, "Coffee would be nice, strong and black if that is okay? And call me Milosh."
Harry couldn't help but smile at him; he seemed like one of those perpetually happy souls. He snickered to himself thinking of how much Snape was going to despise the young man. "Coffee can be arranged, Milosh. I'm Harry, by the way." He led him down to the basement kitchen and offered him a seat. No one was up yet and Harry quickly set about making coffee and preparing a plate of fruit for their visitor.
As soon as he set the mug of ebony liquid before the young man, both Remus and Snape entered the kitchen. Neither spoke to the other and you would never have guessed that Snape had tied one on the night before, or that Remus had been defending him. Remus smiled at Harry and the emerald-eyed youth blushed. He stood to pour the werewolf a cup of tea and whispered a quick, "I'm really sorry for last night," before turning to Snape.
The Potions master was eyeing the other youth with the same expression of detached interest he used when examining a new potions ingredient, or a line of first years. Harry touched his arm to get his attention and Snape shot him a horrific glare. "Sir, this is Milosh Stojka..." Snape's head whipped back to face the young man, his hair flying out in a greasy curtain, ebony eyes grown large. "...he is here to deliver something to you."
The dark man regained his composure and slowly crossed his arms over his chest. "Stojka, you say?" His demeanour was once again cold and detached as he waited for the youth to wither under his gaze.
Milosh stood and with his arms out before him, holding the ornate box, he kneeled. "It is my pleasure, Bexhet, to present you with your birthright from your púrodad." He sounded most pleased, almost excited.
Snape took a step back and hissed, "Who told you that name?" His eyes were narrowed into deadly slits and Harry could see his wand hand trembling. Remus saw this also and attempted to put himself between the pair.
Milosh stood slowly. "I am your siménsa, I share the same name as your daj, Emilia."
"Do not speak her name," he spat, taking yet another step backward. Harry noticed that he had begun to shake his head slowly from side to side.
"Sir, are you alright?" Harry tried to take his arm again and was swatted for his deed. Harry glared and plopped himself on the nearest chair, crossing is arms over his chest, almost pouting.
"Severus, calm down. Let us all sit and relax and try to answer all these questions. I do not think Mr. Stojka is here to hurt you..." Remus had tried to soothe Snape, but the man turned on him.
"You have no right to speak that name. None of you are worthy." He looked almost manic as he eyed the box. He took a shuddering breath, trying to regain his self-control. He closed his eyes and sighed, something within resigning itself to the inevitable. "My cousin you say, that would explain the surname. Why now? I am forty-two years old, past the normal age as I was led to believe. Why now?"
Milosh relaxed, knowing he wouldn't be hexed, and began to explain. "Your púrodad,..."
Snape stiffened, "Speak the Queen's English or you'll be out on your arse. I will not entertain a savage language."
Milosh fought a smirk and continued, nodding his head. "Yes, sir. Bexhet, your grandfather," he stressed, "was the leader of our clan. Your da...mother must have spoken of him, you are his namesake."
Severus only gave a curt nod, his arms once again crossed over his chest as though he was clutching onto his only shred of sanity.
Harry was utterly engrossed, occasionally flashing glances toward Remus, who was also quite lost to the world. They'd never seen Snape in such a state; it was unnerving to say the least.
The dark Potions master glanced over at the green-eyed young man and cringed at the look of utter enthrall on his face. Quickly grabbing the young gypsy, he pulled him from the room. "We shall discuss this where there are definitely less ears to hear," he growled.
"How rude," Harry cried. "And just when he was getting interesting." He threw himself onto the well worn bench. "You forgot your bloody box," he shouted at the swinging kitchen door.
Lupin only shook his head. "You know that Severus is a private man, Harry. No sense getting all worked up about it." He stood up to pour himself another cup of tea when he stopped abruptly. His eyes narrowed on the younger man. "I know that look Harry James Potter," Remus said in a low growl, stressing Harry's father's name.
"What?" Harry asked, his emerald eyes glowing with mischief as he eyed the pewter box.
"Don't what me, mister! Your father patented that look. Don't you dare touch that bo-" But it was too late, Harry had already pulled his wand and was pointing, the word 'Alohomora' on his lips. The dark pewter box popped open. It wasn't very large, about the size of a loaf of bread, but size rarely mattered in such instances where magic was concerned.
If Harry had bothered to read the ancient ruins on the outside of the box he would have saved himself from a sore bum. When the lid opened there was a hiss of what Remus believed to be stale air, but Harry knew differently. A puff of dust followed and Harry could almost make out a faint glimmer of something shiny before there was another hiss and this one caused Harry to jump backwards, knocking the bench and himself to the ground.
Remus only stood there, glued to the spot as a viper, dark red, the colour of drying blood, emerged, lifting its upper body from the box, slowly turning to face the Lycanthrope. It let out a low, slow hiss.
"H-Harry...what's it saying?" Remus asked, trying to take a step backward and was only successful in cracking the backs of his knees on his bench. The viper bared its fanges and hissed louder. "Sssahhh, Bexhet assththth?"
Harry blinked for a moment, am I Bexhet? Who is Bexhet? Didn't that Milosh guy call Snape, Bexhet? His thoughts were a jumble as he slowly replied to the serpent. "Hhsaaa...sssh, Bexhet." ~No, I am not Bexhet."
This time the snake cocked its head with slight confusion. ~You speak the tongue of my kind. How is this so? All my years with the Bexhet and never was I able to converse. Even my own kind are rarely up to my standards of conversation. Tell me how this can be and I shall let you live.~
Harry raised both his eyebrows. He shrugged and replied to the snake, ~M'not sure. It came with a curse that was thrown at me as a baby. Thank you for allowing me to live, but why would you have killed me in the first place?~
The snake didn't answer, it turned back to Remus. ~Is he Bexhet?~
~No, he's my...~ Harry thought for a moment. He knew enough about snakes to know their understanding of family relations. Surrogate God Father was not something this creature would understand. ~...he's my father.~ He offered Remus a weak, reassuring smile.
Remus looked confused as he ran a long slender hand thru his gold and silver streaked hair. "I can ony assume you are speaking kind words about me." He let out a slow shuddering breath. Snakes were far from being his favourite animal, even as the werewolf he avoided the buggers.
The younger man nodded and Lupin relaxed.
~Your father? It does not taste like you, but I will believe you.~ To put his point across the creature flicked its tongue, tasting the air.
~M'hm, s'my da alright.~ This time he cast a devilish smile at Remus, knowing he'd have to use this to mess with the man later. "Right, you're my father? Best damn kid you could ask for, what?"
At first Remus looked confused, but quickly caught on. "Yeah, my son...the snake charmer." He snorted and slowly stepped away from the bench that had trapped him, moving toward the counter and away from the snake at the table.
Harry smirked again, and crossed his arms over his chest in a rather Snape-like manner. Remus noticed this but kept his thoughts to himself. ~May I ask a question? Who is Bexhet?~
Before the snake could respond, the object that had glimmered earlier, gave a shudder as it rose from the dust beneath the snake. It was an old hand mirror, emerald serpents twinned the handle and seemed to dance around the edges of the finely polished glass.
The crimson snake crawled closer to Harry and the young man instinctively lowered his hand for the creature to crawl up his arm. It settled near his shoulder and hissed in his ear. ~Only Bexhet can make the mirror work. You must be special to him.~
Harry shot the creature an incredulous look. ~If you mean Snape, you're very mistaken. You are like, thirteen flavours of mistaken...~ he broke off when the mirror flickered and the face of a woman appeared. Harry gasped at her beauty, her dark raven hair gave him the impression of familiarity. Her eyes, dark as pitch and as expressive as only one other pair he'd ever known could be, brought it home who this woman must be. But Remus actually said the words.
"That's Snape's mum. We shouldn't be seeing this...it's private..." he voice was a mix of concern and interest.
"Hush," Harry whispered as the beautiful woman began to speak with an accent much like Milosh's.
"O Nevo, as you must have guessed by now, it is time. Time to take your place with your people. My only wish is to be there to see my little one become the proud man I know he will be. There are things O Nevo, things you need to understand, first." The lovely woman spoke with such an air of sadness. Harry wondered if his own mother lamented for him, wherever she was. The woman continued, "Our people are the Romany Gypsies that occupied the Greek Isle of Serpents. My father, your púrodad, was our clan leader. You, my O Nevo, will be the new leader when you take your rightful place." She paused to add a sad smile before continuing, visibly taking a deep breath. "Darius, your father, could not stop this, though, Gods know he tried. He was a willful man who was set in his ways. I cannot begin to imagine your life after I'm gone...or what your life was like after I was gone. I know now that I will die very soon, the stars tell me so. Do not blame Darius for my death, he knows not what he does and O Nevo, accidents do happen."
Her dark eyes swam with unshed tears as she stopped to regain her composure. "Darius was swayed by his own legacy, that of the Snape family. They are a proud clan with proud ways. I only share with you these memories so you may understand him, read him, know who he was and who he had become..."
The image in the mirror rippled and was replaced by one of a young couple, holding hands in the moonlight, watching the stars, kissing and giggling.
"Emelia, I love you beyond all measure, marry me." The dark young man with the ice blue eyes whispered to the younger version of the woman in the mirror.
She smiled at him with the same sad expression. "Darius, your family will never agree to such an arrangement. Please my beloved, do not make them hate me more than they already do. I am just the gypsy girl who stole their son..."
He held a finger to her lips, silencing her words. "Emelia Ina Stojka, marry me and my family be damned. They have already disowned me, my brother is the one that will bring honour to our name. I only want you." Gently, he leaned in and kissed her lips.
They parted and before she could open her eyes she whispered, "Yes...I will be your bride. Me kom tu."
Harry notice the man stiffen slightly at her words but kept watching as the scene changed.
"But Darius, it is my wedding clothes," Emelia cried, holding the ruined scarlet dress before her.
"It is red, it makes you look like a common harlot. I will not have my bride wear red on our wedding." Darius' cold eyes focused on her, not showing an iota of emotion.
"It is tradition..." she began but he cut her off.
"Not in this world. You are here, not on that forsaken island," he said with a stern tone. She winced and his face seemed to soften slightly. "Red is the colour of blood, I cannot handle that at the moment."
She lowered her head and nodded, whispering the name, "Athan."
He glowered, "Do not say that name, you have no right to say his name. He is dead and now I have to uphold our legacy, our family honour and no bride of mine will be wed in clothing fit for a street walker." He ripped the red dress from her hands and stormed out of the room.
The mirror rippled again, Emelia's sad image was replaced by one of her weary and standing against a wall in a drawing room. It looked as though she could barely stand on her own. A group of aristocratic looking witches and wizards crowded around a rather proud looking Darius, in his arms he held a bundle of wriggling arms and strong lungs. Emelia was worrying her apron with every screech the small newborn released.
A dark shock of hair was seen as the blanket fell from the newborn's head as his father carelessly motioned with his hands, telling tales of how he'd be raising his son.
Emelia took a step forward when the baby's head dangled. Darius spied this and growled, "Emelia! Is dinner ready yet? My family has travelled far to see my son and you are being a terrible hostess."
Harry looked deeper into the mirror, he saw how young the newborn was, how the skin under the young mother's eyes was purple with pearlescent lids. She looked to pale and when she'd moved her arms to clench her fists at her sides, he saw her stomach was rounded and slightly distended. Silently, she turned and staggered into the next room before the image wavered yet again. It was replaced with the image of Emelia holding a raven haired little boy, no older than five. She rocked him slowly as she whispered into his ear.
"O Nevo, your púrodad, Bexhet, holds your place amongst our people. You will one day lead us into glory, your mind will unlock doors that lead to riches, your heart will find true love in the eyes of the enemy, your soul will be saved." She smoothed the hair at his temples, kissing the tender skin there. "The stars so tell it..."
She was interrupted by Darius' harsh voice. "Emelia, how many times have I warned you about filling his head with your faerie tales? Your people do not exist, he will not lead anyone, he will follow me in my work, foolish girl." Her head was thrown backwards as his hand swiftly came into contact with it. The last thing Harry saw before the images faded was young Severus crying as his mother was pulled to her feet by her hair.
As the face of the lovely woman reappeared, a yell of indignity echoed through the room.
"What in the name of Slytherin do you think you are doing, Mister Potter!" Snape's face took on a shade of red that almost made him look healthy. His fists were clenched at his sides, much like the image of his mother.
The mirror's image never faultered and Harry continued to keep his eyes focused on those lovely ebony orbs that seemed to cry out to him. It was only when his shoulder was clasped in the claw-like grip of Snape's hand did he react. Snape squeezed his shoulder, painfully. "I asked you a question, Potter. What gives you the right to open my personal property?"
"I...erm...was only...um," he spluttered as the serpent slithered about his neck.
"Incoherent as ev...ver," Snape hissed, black eyes narrowing. "Mister Potter, why are you looking at me with such..." Snape glanced toward the mirror, his brows furrowed, causing an I-shaped crease to appear between them. "Ah, I see. My mother shared some of her secrets and now the Boy-Who-Grew-Into-An-Insufferable-Adult is feeling some convoluted sense of pity toward me." He pursed his lips, pausing to cast a disgusted look upon the emerald-eyed youth.
Harry swallowed, hard. Snape was right, though Harry'd willingly die a thousand deaths before admitting to such heresy. The young man knew that, not having parents was bad, having them and watching their destruction of one another was another story. He forced himself to harden his face, he hated to be pitied, how dare him do it to another. He pulled himself to his full height and crossed his arms over his chest. "I only pity your mother for giving birth to such a complete wanker."
Snape fumed, "You insolent whelp!" He reached for his wand but his arm was caught by Remus.
"I'll not have that, Severus. Harry, show some respect." He glared at both of them. Behind him, Milosh hid a smile in his hand, his ebony eyes dancing. "Harry, you owe Severus an apology," Remus prompted, as Snape shook off his hand.
"I bloody well think not!" Harry cried. "After all that git has put me through, he owes me one first."
Severus crossed his arms over his chest; his smug look resumed. "I haven't the faintest idea..."
"You know exactly what I'm talking about, you bastard." Harry seethed as he stormed off, the snake still around his neck. He made a point of shoving Snape with his shoulder as he passed.
Severus grunted something that sounded like, 'Impudent Strumpet'. He gathered up the mirror and stuffed it inside the pewter box. Turning toward Milosh and Remus he hissed something incoherent as he pointed a long, stained finger before storming out of the room.
Rubbing his chin, Milosh sat down at the table, still smiling. "What peculiar men, those two."
"I agree," Remus said, sitting beside him with two cups of tea. He handed one to the younger man.
Milosh took it with a polite nod. He sipped it before adding, "Opposites do attract, so I assume they make sense."
Lifting his own cup to his lips, Remus barely managed to swallow before he began to choke. "Them? Together?" He coughed, pounding his own chest as Milosh's strong hand pounded on his back. "Thank you," he ground out as the tea cleared his esophogas. He pulled his wand to clean the spilled tea and spittle, thinking outloud. "Well, I'm not sure about that. They've always been at each other's throats. Even during the war they bickered, but it had seemed different then, as thought they were civil for a little while." He conjured more tea for them both before adding, "Something happened, Severus saved Harry's life and in the end Harry lost something most precious to him. This has caused a rift and now they behave as though they hate one another. It is worse now than ever."
Milosh only nodded before sipping his tea again. "Well there must be something between them, otherwise the snake would have killed you both." His soft voice held no malice, only truth. The seriousness in his expression made him look older than he had looked originally, but his smile returned and with it, his youth. "As they say in my clan, 'Coins and crosses never know their fruitless worth."
Remus only cocked his head, "What does that mean?" He was finding this young man to be utterly fascinating.
"Only that, they are worth something to one another, yet have yet to discover what that worth is. There is something there, Mr. Lupin, something that they will need to work through before Bexhet will be able to claim his rightful legacy." His dark eyes lingered on Remus' face, locking with his own amber orbs.
The lycanthrope nodded slowly. "I understand completely," he whispered, offering the young gypsy a smile of his own. "Please, call me Remus."
"Okay, Remus. Please...call me Milosh."
It felt like a lifetime before Remus was able to pull his gaze from the young man. He suddenly cleared his throat and stood up. "Let us find you a room," he said, his voice wavering a bit as he led the younger man out the door.
(1There are lies more believable then the truth. I now leave you to God.)