"Hi!" Harry said, his features brightening in delight at the sight of Marcus. His body almost vibrating in sheer excitement at seeing him. He'd missed him, despite the fact he had only not seen him for going on twenty-four hours, give or take a few hours. Moving over to him just shy of touching him. His back to the classroom at a whole. "Hello, Professor Snape." He said without turning away from Marcus.
"Good evening, Mr. Potter," Severus said, as he emerged fully from the store cupboards. Eyeing the eleven-year-old with curiosity. He had not made any sound, of that you could be assured. It seemed even with mental shields he couldn't sneak upon the child. He hadn't had a doubt about who he was. He confessed himself curious about that. He had read every book he could get his hands on since he found out about Harry's rare ability. However, it only seemed to go into basics. "How did you know it was me?" he couldn't help but enquire.
Harry turned around to face his professor, a frown on his face, trying to figure out how to explain. He'd always had this gift, it helped him in ways no one would ever truly get. "Uh, everyone feels different, they've got…uh, unique identifiers." Biting his lip, struggling to make sense of it. "It's not even emotions…it's just unique identifiers, you're powerful, strong, add in the stronger layers of guilt nobody else ever feels that way."
"You're feeling people's magic along with emotions?" Severus asked the desire to know more evident. It was clear Harry was struggling to explain it, but given his life so far, Severus knew it was understandable.
As he aged, Harry would likely come to understand his gift far better. Which meant he'd be able to explain things far easier, but for now he was doing his level best. Which at his age, was rather well, if Severus was honest.
"Yours feels similar to mine and Professor Quirrell's." Harry confessed, entirely baffled by that.
Severus arched a brow, "Why does that perplex you?" his voice low and soothing. If anyone had heard him speak to Harry (or any student) that way they surely would have a heart attack. Setting that information aside for later, Merlin he'd never suffered such an insult as to be compared to Quirrell. Yet, Harry had, there must be a reason.
Harry shuddered, "Is he dying?" not answering Severus' question quite yet.
"Who? Quirrell?" Severus questioned, having just sat, straightened in his seat silently alarmed.
Marcus watched both of them as he precisely cut the ingredients. The boiling potion continuing to bubble away as he added items and stirred as directed. He was probably just as curious as his professor maybe even more so.
"Yes," Harry replied, nodding vehemently.
Severus arched a brow, "He transferred from being the Muggle Studies professor to Defence Against the Dark Arts. He has changed drastically, but I am afraid I could not say whether he was ill or not. We are not on good terms." Which was putting it lightly, and it was solely because the cowardly wizard had his dream job when he knew next to nothing of the subject. While, he, Severus Snape, had the equivalent of a second mastery in the subject, and was continuously rejected. Not that he expected anything else from the old fool. He could not wait until his contract was up, which had been rather specific. It was only later he realized when his contract was until. After Harry graduated from Hogwarts. It was no coincidence. Oh, he knew Dumbledore had plans upon plans upon plans for the child. For all of them.
Harry gave him a dubiously doubtful look, that suggested he wasn't using a strong enough word. He could feel how his professor felt about the wizard just fine thank you. At least he wasn't lying, like so many people he saw every day did. Smiles on their faces, laughing at their jokes, while detesting the ground they walked on. The amount of people who wished their friends and family dead out of jealousy had long since ceased making Harry sad.
"What does a sick person emote?" Marcus asked, curiously, stirring the cauldron one last time, pleased to see it turn the colour he desired, to the very last shade.
"A lot," Harry said quietly, subdued, it wasn't a nice feeling at all, and it wasn't quite right what he felt for Quirrell but it was the closest he could explain. He'd never had to explain his gift, or thoughts or feelings since nobody knew. Not until now, and it was a burden he was grateful to shed. He hadn't thought it would feel so good, finally revealing his ability to someone but it did. He also knew he'd have to be very careful of who he told.
It was a great advantage to have over everyone after all. Especially the way Severus and Marcus had alluded to it.
"Quirrell has the ability to close his mind to external extrusion." Severus stated suspiciously. Half-blood and quite weak, at least he'd assumed, yes, but still far from being the worst wizard in the world. "What exactly do you feel from him?"
Harry seemed to fold in on himself, it was like the very night Marcus had brought Harry to professor Snape. "Pain, so much pain." Rubbing his scar up and down as if it were mere makeup and could be rubbed off.
Alarmed Marcus set the potion aside, it didn't need tended to anymore anyway. It was just to simmer for an hour and then it was done. He could bottle it or set it into vials. "Hey, hey, easy, do you feel other people's pain even if they've taken something for it?" speculating on what to do, perhaps a pain relief draught before Defence Against the Dark Arts. He couldn't do that long term, taking potions all the time would cause problems with his internal organs, especially if they weren't needed. Addiction was a genuine problem too, so it wasn't something he even wanted to suggest. Stronger people (adults) had succumbed to addictions and not all of them had beaten what their dependency was on.
Harry slumped against Marcus as if his strings had been cut. Realization dawned within Severus, an anchor perhaps? Someone that muffled all else Harry experienced. Or it could just be everyone who wasn't emotionally shouting at him. It didn't seem likely, since Quirrell had mind shields, so this pain he was feeling, to be feeling it? How on earth was Quirrell walking around?
"You're attempting to claw your forehead; did you have a sore head as well?" Severus questioned, taking Harry's hand away from his forehead, before he clawed at it. Perplexed, the amount of pain Harry felt emoting from Quirrell, he shouldn't be teaching, Defence was a dangerous class if one was as sick as it seemed. Harry had been through hell; he knew pain as well as the back of his hand. There was no way he would be complaining unless it was severe.
"It was the only part of me that was hurting and not him," Harry stressed out, "It hurt so much." Recalling the searing pain, it was like when the oil in the pan had flown at him.
"Has it ever been like that before?" Severus questioned quietly, wondering if Harry had migraines all his life. "Sensitivity to light? Sickness?" giving the usual (but not all) symptoms of a migraine to see if Harry could confirm it for him.
"Only if I'm hit on the head," Harry confessed, sensing his professors' genuine fears and worries. "Like the time my aunt hit me over the head with the frying pan and the oil went all over me."
Real and raw rage scorched its way through Severus at the mere mention of the Muggle. This was why he'd joined the Dark Lord; Muggles didn't deserve the air they breathed. Weren't worth them having to keep their magic a secret and hide. Oh, he knew that would never change, but he loathed Muggles and hated that they knew about magic. He'd grown up in the Muggle world and he knew just how dangerous they were. "She'll regret her actions; you mark my words." He'd sworn twice upon this child, to protect him. He would continue to do so.
Harry smiled, a bit unsure but far more positive that people would remember and continue to help now. Well, not people, but Severus and Marcus. The very first people to keep their words, knowing though that they hadn't wilfully ignored him made old gaping wounds heal a bit more smoothly.
"I'll question Quirrell, in the meantime, try to avoid him, and sit as far back of the classroom as you can manage. Does distance help in cramped quarters?" not that he'd consider the DADA classroom cramped but perhaps to an Empath it could.
Harry shook his head, "Maybe when I was younger," he murmured leaning against Marcus eyes closed. It felt so, so good to be…well, empty of all emotion except for his and the small measures of emotions he got from Marcus and Professor Snape but it wasn't overwhelming it was negligible compared to everyone else in Hogwarts. "But the distance got greater and greater every year."
Severus winced, "You began to feel your neighbours' emotions as your gift and you aged?" Merlin it was a miracle that the boy wasn't insane. He really needed to dig into Empaths and find something to help the boy either that or create it himself.
Harry nodded once, "But in my cupboard it was okay, especially when everyone was away."
"What do you feel when you're leaning against Marcus?" Severus murmured, a rumbling soothing sound. Was someone else's touch enough to simplify his gift? Make him feel only one other person? Or was Marcus unique? He wasn't even sure Harry felt so…comfortable around him, and not because he was a professor, but in a general emoting way.
"Quiet," Harry confessed, from where he was all but curled into Marcus as much as he could. The lines he'd had on his face when he was coming in completely gone. He felt so much better, he didn't want to move. "Finally." A breathy relief filled sigh coming from his mouth. He'd never had to deal with so many people before. An actual physical touch, skin to skin helped even more. Harry didn't understand why, and honestly. At this point he didn't care, it felt so good after enduring hours with Quirrell.
His primary school didn't have as many people in it like Hogwarts had. Usually, he got a break from all the emotions when he got home, he had to focus on chores and more often than not his own pain. Hogwarts was so different, and he hadn't any coping mechanisms that helped him. He needed to find new ones, so that he could stay at Hogwarts.
"Does Longbottom help?" Severus questioned, "I notice you've taken to spending time with the boy." It couldn't be for his personality, the boy was too quiet, shy, he hadn't come out of his shell yet.
Harry peered up at Professor Snape, "He feels similar to me."
Severus froze, honestly, he deflated hearing those words. "Similar in which way?" he really didn't want to think that Dowager Longbottom was abusing her grandson, in any way not just magically. She was an old crow of a witch, but powerful and formidable.
Harry met Severus' gaze and spoke firmly but bluntly in a way only someone far more comfortable about his place could. "Afraid, always afraid, especially with other men." Not quite betraying Neville's confidence, he didn't mention his great-uncle after all.
Severus slowly nodded, "Is there anything else you wish to tell me?" he was already going to seek some justice for Harry this evening once he was safely ensconced in his dorms or somewhere else. Grimacing a little when he realized he sounded too much like Dumbledore for his own comfort.
Harry paused for a few moments, a thoughtful look on his face before he shook his head. He couldn't do it; he wanted his friends (how weird was that to think let alone say?) to be loyal to him. He didn't want them telling everyone what he told them. He'd pushed it as it was with Neville, but unless Neville said something and actually wanted help, then Harry would remain quiet. He would help his friend though, mark his word, he would.
He just needed to learn more about magic first.
"Very well," Severus agreed, "I noticed your slicing was off during your remedial class, come around here." Gesturing for him to go around near where Marcus' potion was simmering away.
Harry complained as he complied, "But I didn't do anything wrong to deserve a detention!"
"No, you didn't," Severus agreed, pleased to see him complying with his orders regardless of his grumbling. "And it's not meant to be a criticism, after we do this, you and Marcus may go and do as you please, just don't be seen." He would do what he could so that the youngster could get a well needed break with Marcus who seemed to be Harry's quiet.
Harry perked up, nodding his head enthusiastically, well, alright then.
"Now do as I do," Severus murmured, moving slowly, so that Harry had a chance to see everything he did. Thinly slicing the ingredients as required, it was very rare that anything needed to be sliced thicker than this. "If it requires thickness far superior to this, it will be written in the book, this is a potent ingredient, and doesn't require a lot of it, and it should never be used in any other way."
Harry narrowed his eyes, "But doesn't one of the recipes call for it to be juiced?"
"Very well caught," Severus replied proudly, "Yes, it does."
"But you just said it shouldn't be," Harry said frowning, perplexed, what the hell was he supposed to do then? "You mean I should slice it into the potion and not just squeeze the juice?" and it did have a lot of juice, his fingers were sopping and the workstation utterly sopping wet.
Severus just smirked.
"That's just mean," Harry stated, wishing he'd worn gloves, it was sort of gross doing this. Imagining it as a piece of fruit or a chunk of meat didn't really help when the thing looked a little like a shaved tail from some sort of animal.
"Not entirely, if people pay attention to my extra classes, they'll know," Severus replied dryly, "And every year I am disappointed."
"In both Muggle raised, born and pureblood's, right?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"What do you mean?" Marcus frowned, which somehow moved his entire face, making him look incredibly put out and angry. While he was just perplexed, a little bit curious to what Harry was implying.
"Nothing," Harry said quickly, shaking his head, it was probably nothing, Ron and Neville hadn't bothered about it, it was like they wouldn't either. So far, his professor didn't treat any of the students different, if they got it right, they earned points, if they got it wrong, they lost them regardless of whom they were.
"It is something," Marcus murmured, nudging him, "Tell me."
Severus set the ingredients into a jar and made himself scarce by putting them in the cupboard. They were in a jar that was spelled with a preservation spell. He listened to see if Marcus could get him to open up. He found himself rather curious too, it was a rather odd statement to make.
"It's just I noticed that people were being praised for knowing the answer, and the one spell we've cast…only Muggle-borns were being praised. Even though purebloods got it right. It's not fair, they should be praised too." Harry told him. "The expectations that they know versus the pride that the Muggle-borns do."
Severus sighed, "You felt their disappointment?" resignation hitting him, as he cleaned, sanitised his workstation, keeping it so that you could eat food off it. It was unfortunately, a part of life, even he was susceptible to it, but in a different way, only in order to make up for how his snakes were treated by the majority of teachers thanks to Dumbledore's biased nature rubbing off on them.
Only a few valued his Slytherin's, heads of houses themselves, Filius and Pomona. He was so grateful to them that they tried to make his Slytherins time at Hogwarts as normal as possible.
Harry nodded never wavering or clamming up, glad that they understood.
"It's not a feeling they're used to, so no doubt it's harsh feeling to harbour for them." Severus said quietly, "Does that affect you more or less than say someone who is always used to disappointment?" unable to help himself, he was already writing everything down he found out. He wouldn't publish it without Harry's permission. If he didn't give it, he'd let Harry have it as a gift, Empaths like all things magic tended to be in the blood. Like the Princes with their potions and spell crafting, Potter's were good at potions, Transfiguration and Defence prodigies. That's not to mention the blood that had married into the family.
"That's just it, they were prepared for the disappointment and for the professors not to care." Harry said quietly, shaking his head subdued.
"They will have been, it's the way Hogwarts had been for many years now." Severus murmured, "A lot of people will have cousins, friends and even brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and even their parents preparing them for the prejudice." People believed it only worked one way, but it just wasn't true.
Both sides were rather prejudice, but those even remotely 'dark' were coined evil.
"Yes, I get that, but why?" Harry pressed; he just didn't understand it at all.
"Have you got homework?" Marcus asked.
Harry turned to Marcus perplexed, before a light switched, "The library?"
"Yes," Marcus said, "Good evening, professor." Letting his head of house get a well-deserved break from everyone before it started all over again tomorrow.
Severus inclined his head to Marcus, already finishing up everything he had to do today. He would have a short break, some coffee to drink perks up a bit and work on the summer homework assignments he'd set. He had given homework for next week to his students, so he was hoping to have all the summer assignments done by then and handed back to the students.
The life of a teacher wasn't an easy one. They didn't just work when the students were there, no, it was constant. They worked for hours after classes were let out, and that was not including detentions. As a Head of House, you could argue that he was never free, he also had a duty to his Slytherins which he did without a single complain.
It was harder still when you didn't want to be a professor or teach children. Or Merlin forbids, be around them overly much. Abused children were not like the rest of the terrors that make up the students at Hogwarts. Too rambunctious and annoyingly loud.
Severus wasn't sure if it was ire and anger at being practically forced into this position that he took it out on the students. Or if he just didn't like children, he'd been a teenager when he joined the faculty himself, either way, thanks to Dumbledore he wouldn't be finding out anytime soon.
Severus felt the ward alerting him to someone Floo calling him. They made no attempt to come through, then again, most people he knew wouldn't want to step into Hogwarts.
Swiftly making his way through to his quarters, doors closing behind him. His wards flared to life, even Dumbledore would have difficulty getting through them. If he got through the ones, he'd created at that.
"Severus, good evening," the face in the fireplace stated, recognizing him even with just seeing his feet walking into line of sight.
"Alberic, it's good to hear from you." Severus said, recognizing the voice as he situated himself comfortably in front of the fire. Alberic had been very prophetically named, he was extremely powerful but given his family, there had been no doubt he would be really. Then again, they always do say that until it suddenly wasn't true.
"Your letter couldn't have been more cryptic if you tried, it took me all afternoon to figure it out, only partly mind." Alberic said, "What is going on? It's the first time you've written to me quite so secretly."
"This call secure?" Severus questioned, and Alberic was quite high in the government in France so his calls would be secure.
"Yes, it is," Alberic uttered, staring at Severus cautiously, "What on earth are you up to? And am I going to have to hide a body?"
Severus chuckled, "No, well, not yet." Alberic and he had been fast friends when they met at a potions conference. Severus had still been an apprentice at the time, and Alberic had been security hired for the event, but had promised to get a few things for his aunt (who was a potions mistress) and admittedly it had been more of a written relationship for a while, meeting when they could, but they had busy lives but that's likely how their relationship was so strong.
"Very well, start at the beginning," Alberic stated, getting himself comfortable. Severus could be so very dramatic sometimes, and admittedly it did make him more than a little curious. He had made more than enough time for this meeting, just to be on the safe side. He had been – and still was – rather alarmed by Severus' need to be so secretive.
"You alluded to a mention of Empathy in one of our conversations," Severus answered.
"Only one? I surprise myself sometimes," came the dry response, "I used to complain about it all the time in my teens."
The look on Severus' face screamed confusion and 'explain yourself now' that even Alberic understood all too well.
"Didn't I explain?" Alberic sounding surprised, "My sister is an Empath, she would tell everyone what I was feeling. My parents are natural Occlumens so it didn't affect them as much with the added protection of the Lord and Lady rings. It took a while for them to realize that I wasn't kidding she was picking up what I was feeling. Empaths are so rare after all, what was the likes of it being in the family? She is their pride and joy." No hint of jealousy if anything he was pleased, she had a unique ability, it meant she wasn't just a 'spare'. Not that it meant that, he knew his mother had wished to have more children, but and accident put paid to that.
"Did your parents get books for her so that she may come to understand her abilities?" Severus asked, more than a little hopeful.
Alberic chuckled, and then full out laughed as he stared at Severus, "Let me guess, Potter?" he deduced as he stared Severus down.
Severus stiffened, "How could you possibly deduce that?"
"There aren't many you'd go out on a limb for, Severus, and we found out who my sister had gained her ability from. Elsa Potter, we have two journals of hers that helped my sister immensely." Alberic explained, "As far as I know there's only one Potter left from that side of the family anyway." They had looked through all branches of the Potter family to find their common ancestors, his sister was cuffed to bits. Even if it was well over ten generations ago at least.
"Still, it's a leap to Potter," Severus said giving him an odd glance.
"It was a good guess," Alberic confessed, unseen shrugging his shoulders. "Do you want me to deliver them to your home address?" knowing how much Severus detested Dumbledore and how nosy the old fool was.
"You can spare them?" Severus asked, gratitude seeping into his bones.
"Copies, my sister had a difficult time of it. I would hate to think of anyone else in such wretched straights." Alberic confessed, recalling her bad days. "I'll get my sister to add in a few letters for him. He's what? Thirteen?"
"Eleven, he just started Hogwarts," Severus replied.
Alberic winced, "Yes, that will put his gift to the test."
"You have no idea." Severus said dryly. His stance easing as he realized that help would be given. "Thank you, Ric, I deeply appreciate it." More than he'd likely ever know.
"Jeanne won't mind and I certainly don't, its not an easy gift to tolerate…and as Harry Potter? Just be careful, Severus, the gift can drive the recipient mad." He was warned, "There is nothing been created that can stop their gift, no spell, no rune, no potion."
Severus' lips twitched, a 'challenge accepted' tilt to his lips as he inclined his head. "I understand,"
"Camping helped my sister a lot, in the middle of nowhere where there is nobody to bother her. One of us always went with her, but that was it. They need it to recuperate." Alberic added thoughtfully, "Especially as she grew up."
"And if they hadn't had any help by the time, they were eleven?" Severus asked thoughtfully, shifting his legs uncomfortably. Even with the spells on the area, he felt uncomfortable, his knees had taken too much damage he reckoned.
"Then I'm surprised he's not a blubbering mess, Sev," Alberic commented, "I'll get the owls sent off tomorrow afternoon." He promised.
"Are you in France?" Severus asked, desiring to know when exactly it would come, and he had to know his location was vital.
"I am not supposed to say, but yes," Alberic commented, "Do you need them sooner? I can send them via house-elf."
"I would appreciate that; I'll have my House-elf meet yours." Severus asked, "One last question, what are the warning signs?" caution seeping into his voice.
"That's a long list and would require more time than I presently have to spare," Alberic stated apologetically, "However, the abrupt shifting of mood, mood swings are a big warning sign."
"You don't spend a lot of time around teenagers, do you?" Severus said dryly, that was no help at all.
Alberic laughed, "Admittedly most of my clients are adults, and believe me, they can act like teenagers under the right circumstances. I do have to go, we need to make plans to meet up, Severus, bring the boy with you, my sister would be more than eager to meet him and help him." as much as they had assisted her, they truly couldn't fathom what she went through on a daily basis.
Before Severus could even think to reply, the ashes fell as if just losing momentum. The fireplace went dull, and the colour and Alberic's face disappeared. Inhaling sharply, well, that conversation had most definitely not gone as expected.
It was nonetheless informative and having an actual Empath to help was wonderful. He could barely believe there was two Empath's so close together, it's too bad James hadn't been the Empath. He could have used a dose of how others felt, then he shuddered at the thought, no, perhaps not. He could just imagine the smug look on his face as he paraded around telling everyone who felt what. No, he couldn't think on him. He and Lily were dead and buried, and he had to protect their son.
From his own prejudice, from the Dursley's and more importantly Dumbledore.
Leaving his quarters, realizing the coffee was likely cold by now. No matter, he'd get his House-elf to make a fresh brew. This had been far more important than a coffee. He blinked at the sight before him, apparently Marcus and Harry had not left – either that or left and back already – were standing in his classroom. Marcus had Harry by the neck.
"If you feel like you're in danger, don't hesitate, you save yourself, and be careful with the spells, especially what might get back to Dumbledore." Marcus continued, but Harry wasn't even remotely tense, despite Marcus' wand being right at his jugular. He did remove his wand away before he said the words. "Caesa, is the spell and it doesn't require any wand movements."
"Caesa," Harry repeated.
"That's right, pull your wand out, point it at the apple," Marcus murmured, "And say the words and mean it." Firming his tone, exuding how he felt when he uttered the spell.
Severus blanched when the spell emerged from Harry's wand and the apple was sliced clearly in half. Clearing his throat, glancing at the apple, rather alarmed, Merlin helps them if he'd been raised in the magical world. "That was a seventh-year spell." It also worked on intent even he took a few years of actually actively using magic before he could use his mum's spells and create his own. "Marcus is quite right, don't be bragging about the spells you learn from him. Dumbledore unfortunately…holds sway…too much sway might I add…and can and will make your life very difficult." A solemn look on his face.
"I won't," Harry said in agreement, sensing just how real Severus believed his feelings were.
Severus nodded happy to have Harry's word, sitting down, smiling when he noticed he had a new mug of coffee.
"What else?" Harry asked, eager to learn.
Marcus barked out a laugh, "Alright, one more spell," he agreed, he needed to be able to protect himself after all. One day he would teach him how to cast all his spells non-verbally, it was a good ability for one to have. "This one will tie your opponent up tightly, make it so they cannot move until the counter spell is crafted. It's the lesser used cousin to a more popular 'light' spell which doesn't tighten as you try to escape the bindings." Delight suffusing Marcus.
Severus listened to them as his red ink marked the students summer homework. It was surprisingly soothing for a wizard who really didn't have much time for children. He was getting maudlin in old age. As he was writing he felt a wave of calmness and contentment suffuse him. Emotions he knew that were not his.
Severus glanced up in shock, apparently Harry didn't just have the ability to sense everyone else emotions but give them. Harry was watching him cautiously, like a snake ready to strike. He gave him a grateful nod, before going back to his work, but he would need to tell the boy that forcing emotions on others (even if it was in an effort to help) shouldn't be done.
Nonetheless he traitorously hung onto the emotions, he found he rather liked the feelings.
There we go! next chapter for you to enjoy hmm what's next? The Troll? it would only be a month and a bit skip or do you want to see Marcus' and Harry's bond deepening before any monthly time jumps happen? It feels good to get a proper chapter of this out :) lately it feels like I've only been able to give small chapters of it and the way I write it's no good having smaller chapters :) anyway there we go! enjoy R&R and take care and stay safe xx