The Undiluted Truth @lorde_shadowz
Chapter 14

The Undiluted Truth, Chapter 14

Harry already subconsciously knew that it had been a bad idea to take the cloak to Snape before he had even reached the man's office. Even on Christmas day, it was dark in the dungeons, and in Harry's nervous mind all the shadows seemed alive and all the walls seemed to be dripping with slime. At last he came to the door, Blaise behind him.

"Um. Maybe we shouldn't. It's Christmas, he'll probably kill us for bothering him."

"It might be the only time he won't kill us," Blaise retorted, at the same time that Jewel hissed: ~Do not losssse your nerve, Hethi, your worriesss are real and he would be a carrion-eater not to at leassst look at the sssshining-cloth.~

"But..."

Blaise was already knocking, giving him no other choice than to go along with it. Merlin only knew that it would be worse if they fled now.

There was a beat of silence, and then another. Harry started to tremble slightly, even with Jewel tensing and relaxing around his wrist in her characteristic gesture of comfort. And then the door flew open with a bang.

Yes. Definitely a bad idea.

"Potter. What do you need?" Snape sounded a breath away from snarling, and his usually immaculate robes were spattered with potion ingredients, so it was likely an even worse time to disturb him than usual, not that Harry would know. He'd never actually attempted to visit him any time except in class and once during office hours, and now he remembered why. This was going to be such a mess.

"Please, sir..." Harry couldn't finish, even with Blaise's nudge and Jewel's venomless nip.

"Please what?"

"Can you check this for traps?" Harry asked, pulling out the invisibility cloak.

Snape's eyes widened. There was another beat of silence during which Harry scarcely even dared to breathe, and then he hissed "Where did you get that?"

Ok. Not good. "I...it was a gift, sir, and there wasn't a name on it. That's why I wanted you to check it."

"And why, exactly, did you not even bother to bring it to any of the other teachers in this...great establishment?"

Harry felt his cheeks heat, even as Blaise retorted "You're our Head of House, well...at least my Head and his Acting Head. Of course he'd take it to you!" Harry himself could not say a word.

Snape's face darkened still further. "If it was really a trap, you would likely be dead by now. It would be near impossible to trap the fabric itself, since few things stick to an invisibility cloak, particularly that one. It would have been on the paper, or the fabric would be covered in muggle anthrax or contact-potion." He drew his wand, flicking it at the cloth, then made several curious gestures with it. "There is nothing on it detectable by wand, and I assume you didn't bother to bring the paper?"

"Uhm...I'm sorry sir...I didn't."

"Typical."

"Do you...do you know anyone who might have sent it?" Harry managed.

"No. But it is likely not meant to be a trap, considering that it is, technically, yours, unfortunate though that might be."

"What do you mean?"

"It belonged to your...illustrious father," Snape said, lips curling. "Although he only ever used it to torture students who were beneath him. If I ever catch you using it to stick your much-lauded nose into places it doesn't belong..."

"I won't use it for that. Sir." Harry felt like crying.

"I suppose that remains to be seen," Snape said. "Is there anything else?"

Harry wanted to ask if he had received the present, if it was good, if he had liked it. He got the impression that it would only make everything that much worse if he tried to say it, though. He could just hear Snape's voice in his head, telling him that it was pathetic, or that he was showing off, spending tens of galleons on potion ingredients just for some elaborate prank, or...something. Harry quickly shut down that train of thought before he started to really cry. "N-no sir." His voice wobbled on the word, but he was absolutely not going to give Snape the satisfaction of knowing that he'd gotten to him. Without another word, he turned and ran, almost tripping over the slippery fabric of his cloak in his haste, and darted into the first abandoned classroom he could find, slumping on one of the chairs with a hastily-stifled sob while Jewel ranted about ~That carrion-eating wizard...doesn't deserve a heartbeat of your consideration...any decent seed-giver...~ and so on, her little black tongue laving the inside of his ear in an attempt to keep him from crying.

All at once a hand fell on his shoulder, and he jumped, spinning around with a start, one arm coming up to wipe the tears away or perhaps to protect his face, while the other fumbled for his wand. Jewel's hasty ~Don't worry, it's Tall Dark One~ registered just as quickly, before he even saw Blaise's worried face in the half light.

"Hey Potter, you ok?"

"I...I should have known...thought maybe since it was Christmas..." Harry managed between long sucking gasps for air. "I don't know...I"

"You want to talk about it?"

Harry did, actually. While he was friends with Neville and the Patils, he didn't really share anything personal with them (or with anyone) and he hadn't actually been able to really talk to anyone for years (the Dursleys wanted him to be seen and not heard and the teachers and librarians he'd known were all far too busy to play therapist, while Mrs. Figg tended to doze off just when he got going on a nice good rant). "I...do you know any spells to make sure we're not being heard?"

Blaise dutifully pulled out his wand and recited a spell Harry had never heard before. "I think this'll work. It's not super fancy or auror-level or anything, but it should keep other students and maybe teachers from hearing us." He added something called a "notice-me-not" to the door, then settled back, sitting cross-legged on a desk waiting for Harry to find a place to start.

"I just...I know he hates me, and I know why he hates me, but it's Christmas, you know, and I thought maybe he'd do me a favor." Harry began, eyes downcast. "And I thought maybe if it went well, I could ask him if he liked my present, but he just... I try so hard, you know?" Harry said softly. "And I think he's just going to hate me for the rest of my life."

"Don't take it the wrong way, but if he hates you, why try? He's an ass, he'll always be an ass, so do what you can to pass his classes and then move into Hufflepuff since you got that option. Problem solved."

"I wish it were that simple. I just...look, Blaise, you have to promise to never tell anyone. Like Wizard's Oath, that serious."

Blaise stared at him. "I won't swear until you tell me what I have to swear to hide; those things can kill you."

"No, I mean just...just don't tell anyone, you don't have to actually swear an Oath, just promise me. Please, Blaise..."

"I promise not to tell anyone what Harry's about to say unless with his permission or if it threatens someone's life. Is that ok?"

"Yeah."

"He's my dad."

Blaise fell off the desk. "What."

"I said he's my dad. He doesn't know that, though- don't tell him. Please."

"I already said that I wouldn't tell. But there has to be more to the story."

"Yeah, there is." Harry sighed. "My mom apparently got forced to marry James Potter but Snape thought that she went off and cheated on him, which is why he hates me, and my mom glamored me, so I don't even look like him. I don't even know what I really look like, all I know is from a letter my mom left in my vault. I don't know how to tell him. I don't know if I even should tell him. Can we not talk about this anymore actually?"

"Ok," Blaise said, and then, after a tense moment of stewing: "I never got to ask...what is your snake's name?"

Harry wasn't sure if it was actually a safer subject, but it was better than talking about Snape so he went with it. "Her name is Jewel. Say hi, Jewel..." Jewel shot Harry the serpentine equivalent of an eye-roll and waved the lower portion of her body at Blaise.

Blaise stared, seemingly fascinated. "You can actually talk to her?"

"Y-yeah. I'm a parselmouth. Is that...going to be a problem?"

"Yeah, no. It's seriously wicked; I've never actually known any parselmouths before. Do you like hear it as regular talking, or do you just hear hissing but somehow you can understand the hissing, or how does it work?"

"It's its own language," Harry replied, relaxing slightly. Already his sobs had died away into nothing more than sniffles. "I guess it's a combination of both; I hear hisses, but it sort of...translates itself in my head. Snakes have some weird slang and they don't have a lot of things that we have, so words like 'quill pen' translates to 'dark-water feather' but its otherwise sort of like English."

"That's...honestly amazing. Can you understand all snakes, or just one's from England, or..."

"Jewel's not from England, but so far she's the only foreign snake that I've talked to, so I wouldn't know. Jewel says there are different dialects of parseltongue though..."

Blaise's eyes glowed. "That is...so cool. Can she understand English, out of curiosity?"

~Yes,~ Jewel cut in at the same time that Harry said "Yeah, some."

They spent a few more minutes simply talking as Harry struggled to make himself presentable- he honestly just wanted to go to bed, but he'd promised Hannah that morning that he would go to the Hufflepuff house party (when she and Susan had asked whether or not he'd gotten his note) and Blaise had also wanted to see the inside of another house's common room. At last, once Harry had washed his face and straightened his robes, they retreated to the dorm to wait until the party was to begin, and Harry tried to push aside the pain and frustration.

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