Nazis, homicidal Catholics, and Severus Snape's cousins, Harry certainly has his hands full of people trying to kill him this year. (Sixth year AU, elements of HBP incorporated)
Harry had another dream. It was raining hard.
His boots sank into the soft peat covering the bluff in Country Kildare. It over looked the roiling sea. The air was thick with the smell of salt water and musty earth.
He had a woman by the neck, her red hair was pulled free from its elaborate braid, and it flapped about her head. She was bleeding from her nose and ears. He held her high up, the tips of her delicate leather boots barely brushing the peat.
"Kelly Kildare?" Harry asked her gently.
"Yes," She spluttered, spitting out rainwater.
"Mother of James, Brendan, and Samuel. Wife of Hugh Kildare" Harry's voice is still gentle. Kelly Kildare's reliquary wand glittered beneath his boot. He pretended he doesn't see her looking desperately down at it.
"Aodh. My husband's name is Aodh" She replied, and coughed, blood dribbled down her chin.
Harry lowered her slightly so that her body wasn't stretched out to impossible proportions.
"Aodh then." He kept his voice calm; he reached in to her mind, and gently probed through her memory of the three sons. Kelly Kildare suddenly started shaking uncontrollably. "I know one of your boys' talks to snakes. Which one is it?"
Her eyes went huge. "There hasn't been a nathair-bÃ©al in the Kildare line for 200 years" she squeezed her eyes closed again, attempting to force him out of her mind. " The trait is extinct in our family. Please believe me, my Lord, the Kildare's, we're pure" She started to sob. " We...we, would have joined you...if, if you'd have us." Harry wasn't listening as he pulled out of her mind, so suddenly her head whipped forwards splattering her blood on the front of his robes. No names, just:
Fire rippling across the surface of freezing cold PoitÃn as a man doused a gold wand core.
Boys playing Quidditch, stumbling into the neighbor's barley crop and cutting a swath across it in search of an out of control Bludger.
A little boy with a pink new scar on his left cheek holding a garden snake.
Harry dropped Kelly Kildare onto the ground; she collapsed into a sobbing bundle at his feet.
"Avada Kedavra" With a flash of green light she keeled over onto the wet peat, her eyes wide open.
Suddenly the air was filled with deep hum, so low Harry felt the ground vibrating below his boots. A ray of yellow light shot up from the nearby Kildare Homestead's chimney. A glowing straw cross exploded in the sky above the farmhouse. The farmhouse was bathed in yellow light. Harry couldn't see the farmhouse anymore, only that floating yellow cross.
"MA!" The young man emerged from the yellow light, only to be cursed down by McNair.
"Wait he might be...."
The young man collapsed to the ground, quite dead.
"Idiot!" Harry was at the young man's body in a second. He lifted his head up. His eyes were pale blue; they stared blankly up at him, the irises already starting to fade. He had a burn scar between his eyes, and uneven port wine birthmark on his neck, but no remains of a scar on his cheek.
McNair knelt beside him, "My apologies" He didn't sound sorry.
"Idiot! He could have been the one we're looking for"
Suddenly Harry heard the prolonged crack of side-along-apparition Faintly he heard some one whisper, "Wait!"
Then, unexpectedly, "Tine cÃºlaithe! Crois Birgit!" Some one shouted. Bright gouts of flame shot out from the hovering straw cross engulfing the death eaters nearest to the house.
He heard shouts from the direction of his remaining followers curses hurled in the direction of the voice. "Extundo! Infindo!"
The newcomer, a boy, probably not even out of school yet jerked backwards, as his chest compressed violently, his ribs cracked audibly. He coughed up blood; his black hair was instantly matted from a series of long slashes across his scalp before his chest even had a chance to expand again.
"Reducto!" There was some one else who had arrived with the boy. " Stop it!" The other new comer shouted. He shot out the thick rain, all fierce blue eyes and flapping black Auror's robes,
"Dermis Inflamare!" Harry heard somewhere through the rain.
The blue-eyed Auror was almost on him; Harry raised his wand. "Crucio!"
Harry rolled off the bed his stomach roiling, the shape taste of bile building at the back of his throat. His head felt like it was being split in half from back and front. He wanted to hit something; to sink his nails into somebody. In an attempt to bleed off some of the anger he awkwardly kicked out at the chest of drawers His foot cracked through the old wood.
The bile taste in his mouth was stronger, and he could feel a hitch in his throat as the roiling in his stomach moved up his diaphragm.
He wrenched his now bleeding out of the hole he had made in the chest of drawers, struggled to his feet, and limped to the bathroom. Distantly he heard the sound of a door slamming at the end of the hall.
But the nausea was at the back of his throat now; he made it to the toilet just in time before he retched.
Plant fertilizer. Mrs. Adler put a cold hand on his neck, the other gathering his hair out of his face. He gagged, and felt his diaphragm contract again; and spat out a thin trail of yellow bile and saliva into the toilet.
The back of his throat tasted sour, he sat back against Mrs. Adler.
"Is my cooking that bad?" she asked dryly.
"Fuck off" he told her, his head still felt like some one was hammering a marlinspike into in to his scar.
Mrs. Adler hissed in irritation at him. She leaned over him; he felt her grimy hair touch his cheek. Her hands were cold on his forehead.
"Your hands so cold" He moaned. He could see the blood from his foot on the bathroom's cracked blue floor tiles.
"As were my father's and my grandfather's and my great grandfather's before him" she hooked a strong, bony arm under his armpits and pulled him into a standing position. "Its part of the family legacy." She chuckled and caught him as he staggered a little " come on, let me bandage that foot, then we need to get you re-hydrated, or you'll start retching again."
Mrs. Adler gently prodded him downstairs where she flipped on the kitchen light 3:27, read the clock in the stove. She sat him down at the table and set about opening cupboards, pulling out glasses, a package of water crackers, and a skinny unlabeled bottle half full of amber scotch. From the fridge she pulled out orange juice and ice cubes.
"Drink. I didn't put anything in it this time." She set a full glass of orange juice in front of Harry. Then handed him a dishcloth full of ice cubes. "And put that on the back of your neck"
Harry wrinkled his nose, and rubbed his forehead attempting to dispel the residual ache. Mrs. Adler sat down across from him.
" My glasses are still upstairs," he said numbly.
" You don't need glasses to drink orange juice and eat crackers," Mrs. Adler snapped at him, she poured herself a glass of Scotch.
"Your like the Mrs. Weasley from hell"
Mrs. Adler snorted "Hah! God forbid. Could this family be that simperingly nice" She kicked back the glass of scotch, and then poured another.
Harry blinked owlishly at her and sipped his orange juice, his other hand occupied with keeping the ice pack on his neck.
His vision was blurry, in the bright light of the kitchen he could make out the vague shapes of most things. Living there for a while, he had memorized that the big blob to his left was the fridge and blob behind Mrs. Adler was the stove.
"You've met Mrs. Weasley."
He couldn't see if Mrs. Adler had nodded or shaken her head, but she didn't answer for a long moment.
"Briefly. When my husband was still alive. It was your Headmaster's idea, my only contact with the wizarding world being Severus."
Harry heard the clink of her putting her glass down on the tabletop.
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
"We, Mrs. Weasley and I, we didn't get along. " Mrs. Adler finally said quietly.
Harry looked down at the half glass of orange juice, the nausea was gone, but his mouth still tasted sour. He took another sip and rubbed his forehead, flattening his hair over his scar for good measure.
"Why are you protecting me? You don't like me, you don't like magic, and you don't like Professor Dumbledore!" Harry couldn't see Mrs. Adler's face clearly, but he was sure she was frowning.
"I told you, because Severus asked me to" she sounded irritated, like having told him once should have been enough for him. Her wedding ring clinked against her glass.
Harry chewed thoughtfully on the edge of a cracker. His stomach still felt like he'd been punched, but he no longer felt like he was going to vomit again. He wanted his glasses; not being able to see Mrs. Adler's expressions clearly was starting to make him frustrated.
"But Professor Snape hates me, he'd never volunteer anyone to protect me." He said.
Mrs. Adler shrugged. "Who knows why, we, Snapes', we, keep our cards close to our chests."
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but found it took him a moment longer to process then he had originally thought.
"You're...You're.. related to Professor Snape!?" He finally managed
"Mr. Potter, I'm surprised you didn't notice the family resemblance."
Even though his vision was blurry, he could make Mrs. Adler flip her hair out of her face.
Harry looked down into his nearly empty glass of orange juice. "I've had a lot on my mind" He said. Something deep inside him felt brittle and ready to snap. He tipped up his orange juice just as Mrs. Adler did with her whiskey and finished it.
"I should go back to bed." He picked his glass and stumbled over to sink.
"Mr. Potter" Mrs. Adler said as Harry started towards the stairs. She hesitated. "I don't dislike you. I just don't take well to change, none of us do. You're an intelligent young man, with a force of personality that serves you well " she hiccupped slightly. "Please get some more sleep if you can. I can give you a tincture of John the Conqueror if you want. Severus will be here in the morning."
"Thanks" Harry said, " I'm ok now" and wandered numbly upstairs, to his room and over to his bed and curled up into the smallest ball he could possibly imagine and cried.
Nymphadora Tonks was probably the first person in England to hear conformation of the attack. Right from the source in fact.
Samuel Kildare growled at her, showing all his teeth. They'd transferred him and his younger brother to St. Mungo's after St. John of God's in Cork decided they couldn't handle the damage caused by a partial animagus half-crazed with pain.
The Healer's were sure he'd lost the left ear and two of the fingers off the left hand. (Well the matter had been, they couldn't actually find the left ear, or the fingers, and the consensus was that they'd been vaporized.) Nevertheless, with luck he'd been told, Kildare would be able to keep the eye, though if he kept clawing at the bandages, it was another story.
Kildare growled at her again, his features were mostly intact, but his cheeks had gone furry, and through the bindings keeping him to the bed his knees looked, they were trying to flip themselves around.
The younger brother was still unconscious in the next bed. Kingsley could not remember his name, only that he was still at Hogwarts. A healer efficiently re-wrapped the bandages on his left arm while a spell mirrored her actions on the other. Samuel had refused to be parted from the brother, and on threat ripping anyone bodily apart, they had been given a room together. He could hear their father, Hugh Kildare's, voice outside the room as he swore alternately at a Ministerial Assistant, the press, and the doctors.
Tonks slowly held a hand towards Samuel, " Wotcher Sam, its Tonks, you remember. You got me drunk my second year. Come on, Sam, please don't."
She remembered Samuel; he's been a Ravenclaw, three years ahead of her. He'd been amazing at Charms and hopeless at Transfiguration. He had a face like a bulldog and he'd once drank a whole keg of Madame Rosemerta's best lager before being sick in Potions the next day. They'd been friends.
Samuel stopped growling for a moment, still showing his teeth, he nosed at Tonks's palm, sniffing. Samuel's lips and gums came back over his teeth, she brushed her hand over non injured side of his head and then withdrew his hand as Samuel came back to himself shaking his head as if to get rain water out of his hair.
"What happened?" he struggled to reach up and touched the bandage covering the remains of his ear. He shook his head again " Something happened when Bren and I got back from Cork" His head landed back on the pillow, he glanced over at Tonks "What are you doing at St John's? Come all the way to Ireland to see me?"
"Your at St. Mungo's Sam" she told him. "St John's couldn't handle the damage you were causing."
"Oh." Samuel looked around. "I haven't been here since school" he still looked disoriented. "Where are Bren and James? And my parents?"
"Your younger brother's here. Your dad's outside."
Samuel looked over at the prone form of his younger brother a low rumbling growl began to build somewhere in his chest. "Dora? Where are Ma and James?" he asked, his cheeks were beginning to fur over again.
"Some one attacked your farm. They found evidence it was You-Kn..."
Before Tonks could get any further, Samuel surged, snarling off the bed towards him. The magical bindings automatically tightened around his chest and arms sending him crashing back down to the bed. " Death Eaters" She heard Samuel growl before his mouth was rendered incapable of human speech.
The healer who had a minute before been tending to Samuel's brother rushed over to the bed " Now look what you've done." She told Tonks reproachfully. "Get out while I try to calm him down again."
Professor Snape sat at the kitchen table just as he always did when he arrived at Green Cottage. His left ankle turning irritated circles just off the floor. His nose in the Daily Prophet.
Harry felt Snape's mental fingers brush at his mind faintly before three weeks worth of fairly successful Occlumency Harry pushed everything behind a mask of Voldemort's rage and Snape's mental fingers quickly backed off.
Mrs. Adler was prodding around the cupboards, producing a vast amount of dried plants in jars; every so often, she directed a silent glare at Professor Snape's back. "How is your foot?" She mouthed to Harry. Harry shrugged, his foot ached, but that was hardly a problem.
Snape tossed two letters onto the kitchen table as Harry sat down "Your OWLs and your Hogwarts letter, you can review them on the way."
"On the way? On the way where?"
" Convent Alley. In York, Diagon Alley is far too visible"
"Going? I'm going to buy my school supplies. With You?"
"Believe me Potter, I'm not happy about it either" Snape violently folded up his copy of the Prophet at rammed it into a bag which hung over the back of his chair. His boots creaked ominously as his stood up "Well?" He scowled at Harry. Behind him, Mrs. Adler dropped a jar on the floor and looked like she was trying to stifle howling laughter.
Harry frowned, it was still another week before his birthday, and he usually didn't get his Hogwarts letter until after that. Then, maybe Snape was trying to keep him out site by first taking him to Convent Alley, which Harry assumed was the York equivalent of Diagon Alley, and secondly taking him before anyone else got their letters.
"I need to get my cloak and my money," he mumbled.
Snape opened his mouth as if to say something, then abruptly closed it. "Get on with it" he said finally. "We're walking and the next train leaves in fifteen minutes"
Harry rushed upstairs and rummaged through his trunk, which still sat, outside his room on the second floor landing. His cloak was after nearly six years of continues wintertime use starting to look musty and threadbare, but the waterproof charm still worked.
When he returned downstairs Snape was standing by the open door his arms crossed over his chest.
"Ouch!" Harry jerked as Professor Snape cracked him sharply over the head with his wand. He felt some thing warm and gooey sliding over his face, it was not unlike the Disillusionment charm Moody had cast on him the summer before.
"Out" with that, he gripped Harry's shoulder so tightly it hurt and shoved him towards the door.
Outside it was still pouring, the second Harry stepped out of the door his hair was immediately flatted against his scalp.
The walk from Green Cottage to the train station took almost fifteen minutes in the pouring rain. By the time they arrived, the train was just pulling in, and Harry's trainers were sodden through. He envied Snape's heavy, waterproofed work boots
Professor Snape sat across from Harry in their train compartment his eyes focused on a point just past Harry's shoulder, his ankle turning little irritated circles at high speed. Harry pulled out his letters and slit open his OWLs letter with a fingernail, pulled the paper out and stared at the folded sheet for a few moments before opening it
OWL Scores - Harry Potter
Defense against the Dark Arts: O
Care of Magical Creatures: E
History of Magic: P
Under the scores Professor McGonagall had scribbled in her neat tight handwriting. As Prof. Snape will be teaching Defense this coming term, I will speak to your new Potions instructor regarding allowing you to take her NEWT class despite your low mark.
Harry looked up at Snape " Your not teaching Potions anymore" He couldn't help but not sound disappointed.
"Here I thought I'd be rid of you for good" Snape sounded vaguely triumphant, but mostly annoyed. " Though don't worry, my replacement taught me everything I know about teaching" Now he did sound triumphant.
"Which is exactly nothing." He said under his breath.
Snape shifted across from him "Exactly. I would watch out for her cane if I were you, Potter, when I was apprenticed to Mistress Crowe, she used to smack me across the backs of my hands for making errors"
Harry looked down guiltily " Thanks for the advice Sir" He said.
Snape ignored him and pulled his copy of the Prophet out of his bag, he violently unfolded it and proceeded to very determinedly ignore Harry.
Harry read the front page of the Prophet that faced him to pass the time. The headlines sent a shiver to the tips of his fingers.
Taoiseach Boru Confirms You-Know-Who's Return after Gruesome Death Eater Attack on Prominent Kildare Family. Read the headline. Harry stared; there was a photo of the farmhouse from his last dream on the front page. Smoke belched out from the side of it, small figures scurried back and forth in the distance beyond it. Harry swallowed. He could almost smell the wet peat again. He swallowed. He could see the first boy, who was probably his age, his ribs shattered and most of the skin on his arms and part of his face burnt away.
Across from him, Snape looked out from behind the paper and raised an eyebrow at him; he cleared his throat. "You'll find this a little more relevant to you position I believe" He swiftly jerked the paper out of Harry's line of sight and folded it to the 8th page and handed it to him. Harry glared at him but looked down at the small headline half way down the page the page.
IMAB Secretary Prince moves for vote of low confidence in Minister Fudge
With accusations of conspiracy, corruption, and the slander of several respected members of the Ministry mounting against Cornelius Fudge the Intra-Ministry Affairs Bureau calls a low confidence vote for the first time in over 200 years.
The accusations, which include the unwarranted sacking of Tom Gray, the Assistant Director of the Auror training program and Master Alchemist Siobhan Crowe, head of Restricted Substances. The false prosecution on charges of use and abuse of the Dark Arts brought against members of the Wizgamot, Algernon Advent, and Jonathan Albion. Finally the abuse of Ministry power during Undersecretery Delores Umridge's tenure as Defense against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.
Harry blinked; he'd had no idea of any of those things happening at the Ministry. He had no idea who Tom Gray, or Algernon Advent was or any others for the matter, and the article was such a mess with titles, positions and accusations that he had no idea who they might be, but still...
The rest of the article was blatant speculation about conspiracy with in the Ministry, and then segued abruptly to gushing details about Secretary Prince's upcoming wedding to a French Quiddich star. There was a small picture of Secretary Prince. She was a regal looking witch, dressed in pale blue robes that would have made Gilderoy Lockhart proud. She smiled broadly at the photographer, then flipped him off
" I should read the news more often" He muttered to himself. He handed the paper back to Snape, who sat across from him
"You should. Fudge has been trying to destroy Prince's power base in the Ministry for months. "
"Snape snatched the paper back from Harry and went back to reading and ignoring Harry. They spent the rest of the train ride in an irritated silence.