Chapter 2: Family History
Harry got to know his cousin pretty well in the following weeks. She spent meals with him as often as she could, chatting comfortably with him, Hermione, and Ron. They took a little bit to get used to her at first, but, after seeing the expression of happiness on Harry's face at having a real relative for once, they seemed to consider her company desirable. Fred and George, on the other hand, took to her instantly, and even let slip a few things that Harry knew they'd be horrified at any other adult knowing. April never gave them away.
He wasn't sure entirely what she did while he was in classes, or occupied with Quidditch and the myriad of other concerns that took up his time. He knew she was working on sharing and explaining some of her findings with other teachers, but he also knew she spent a great deal of time with Lupin. It hadn't taken Harry long to realize they were close. He had asked Lupin about it, and Lupin had replied that they'd been friends ever since his first train ride to Hogwarts.
"I was in a compartment all to myself, huddled in a corner. I wasn't a very social child, you see, and didn't really have any friends. About an hour into the journey, this small, pale girl with long, black hair that seemed to fly all over her head, ducked into my compartment and sat down across from me. She looked incredibly angry and kept snorting and muttering things to herself. Eventually I worked up the courage to ask her what was wrong.
"She told me her cousin was a great ugly prat, and that, as she wasn't his sibling, she didn't think she deserved the telling-off she'd just gotten. Then she sat there and huffed about it for a while. I expected her to leave once she'd blown off some steam, but she didn't. In fact, after she'd calmed down, we spent the rest of the trip talking. She asked me questions about my home, my family, and seemed genuinely interested. I'd never met anyone like April. I wasn't used to people taking notice of me."
But the thing that really impressed Harry happened in late November.
It was a dull Saturday. A wet, heavy rain was washing away the frost that had accumulated the night before. Harry had risen early, and after spending a while in the common room, he, Ron, and Hermione had all gone down to the Great Hall for a late lunch.
The hall was empty, but for a few stragglers. Harry noticed Lupin and April sitting up at the staff table and waved. They waved back, then returned to their conversation.
Harry and Hermione took their seats, and Ron sat across from them.
"Bloody dull day," Ron muttered. "What should we do?"
"We've got homework," said Hermione cooly.
Ron brushed this aside. "That's what tomorrow's for."
"There's a lot of it..." said Hermione.
"Which means I'll do far more worrying if I think about it today," replied Ron. "No, better keep my worrying to a minimum this weekend."
Fred, George, and Ginny joined them a few minutes later.
"What're you lot up to this afternoon?" asked George.
"Dunno," said Ron. "We were just trying to figure that out."
"Well," said Fred, "if a bit later, you find yourselves in need of entertainment, you might want to head up to the Astronomy Tower."
"Why?" asked Harry.
"Because Peeves got hold of some of Lee's recent Zonko's purchases," said George. "Filibusters Fireworks."
"Does Lee know?" Hermione cut in.
"Yep," said George. "But he doesn't care, seeing as Peeves nicked 'em from Filch, who took them from Lee soon as he'd set foot back in the castle on Halloween."
"Anyway," said Fred. "We thought we'd see what dear Peevsie was planning to do with them."
"Apparently it involves some old textbooks..." said George. "And, er, some of Snape's potions supplies.
Harry and Ron grinned and said together, "We'll be there."
"Excellent!" said George.
The was a slight commotion in the Great Hall as Snape stormed in. Heads turned, somewhat indifferently, as he made his way up to the staff table. Harry watched him. He had been especially rude to Lupin since the boggart incident, but today he looked even more angry.
April and Lupin had apparently been heading toward the Gryffindor table. They met Snape halfway there.
His lip curled into his most malicious of sneers, Snape wasted no time. "Well, well," he said, "the brilliant Miss Showers and her friend Lupin. If Black shows up we can have a little reunion."
The color drained from April's face. Lupin looked suddenly exhausted.
"You know, I've been wondering how he managed to get in the castle," Snape continued. "And it struck me that the solution might be absurdly simple. Old ties are, they say, hard to break."
April's pale face was suddenly red. Harry saw her fists clench at her sides.
Snape now turned to face her directly. "I'd be careful, April, if I were you. You wouldn't want to find yourself roped into yet another untrustworthy...entanglement."
He turned to go, his robes swishing around him, leaving Lupin and April standing in his wake, both looking horrified. Harry had no idea what he'd been talking about, and didn't have time to wonder. April had her wand out, pointed it straight at Snape's back and screamed out a spell Harry had never heard before.
Snape stumbled, clutching his head. He whirled around, wand out, his mouth just beginning to form the words to a hex of his own when April hit him with another, this time, silent, jinx, and he felt forward on his knees. He recovered, stood, and pointed his wand straight at her face, but she, again without an audible word, disarmed him. Then she walked up to him and placed the tip of her wand right between his eyes.
"Let me make myself perfectly clear, Severus," she said coldly. "This matter is closed to you. If you ever bring it up again, you will pay dearly. And I would appreciate it if you started treating your fellow teacher with more respect." Her head nodded back slightly in Lupin's direction.
Snape, his face now flushed and scowling, did not respond.
April seemed to think she'd made her point, however, because she lowered her wand and walked right past him out of the hall.
"That," said Ron when Snape and Lupin were out of earshot, "was the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life."
"Yeah, ya know, Harry," said Fred. "Your cousin's quite alright."
"Alright?" said George. "That woman's my hero."
"Rather good looking too, isn't she George?" said Fred.
"Quite stunning," said George.
"Wonder why she isn't married," said Ginny thoughtfully. She looked at Harry.
Harry was startled. He didn't have an answer for this.
"Maybe she's waiting for Lupin," suggested George, "and he just hasn't made a move."
Harry frowned at this. "I don't think so," he said.
"Just a thought." George shrugged.
"Not a very good one," said Hermione.
Despite his lack of interest in the topic, the question of April's lack of a partner bothered Harry a little over the next few weeks. Strange as it was to admit about his cousin, Harry knew Fred and George were right. April was quite pretty. But what really bothered Harry was what Snape had said, about a reunion with Black. He found out soon enough what it meant, on his first adventure into Hogsmead.
He didn't really believe he could be more shocked after hearing that Sirius Black had been his father's best friend and betrayed him. But then, towards the end of the conversation, McGonogall had said something even more disturbing.
"Of course, the person I really pity is April."
"April Showers?" Madame Rosmerta had queried.
"Yes, of course. James' cousin, you know."
"That's right! She and Black were engaged, were they not?"
"Had been for six months," confirmed McGonogall.
"He was always such a young rouge. Never thought he'd be the kind to settle down."
"None of us thought so either," Flitwick had said. "The two of them had been friends for years. She spent half her time with him and James. I think she fancied him for a while, but he never noticed, her being his best friend's cousin and all. Then, one day, it was like he just woke up. Don't know all the details of course."
"April was away when the Potters were killed," McGonogall had gone on. "It took Dumbledore a week to get in touch with her. I don't know how he managed to tell her. Not only did she loose her family, but the man responsible being her fiance!'
"I can't imagine," Rosmerta had said.
"Well, she wouldn't believe it at first. She argued, said it couldn't have been Black. Eventually, she couldn't deny it anymore. But I think the whole thing broke her. She was never the same after that. Left for longer and longer periods of time. Didn't really keep in touch with anyone but Lupin."
"Yes. They've always been close. He was her first friend at Hogwarts. I've sometimes hoped they'd...but that's neither here nor there. As you know she never married. After what happened with Black, I don't think she trusted herself anymore."
Harry couldn't understand it. How could his parents and his cousin be so deceived? How could she agree to marry him, the man who had killed them all? For the next month, perhaps two, he brooded over this, avoiding April whenever possible. After a while, she seemed to notice this, and stopped trying to speak to him in the hallways. Harry wondered if she was hurt, but he didn't care until a conversation with Lupin months later.
It was after a Patronus lesson, and Lupin had just explained about the dementor's kiss. Harry sat there thoughtfully, pondering what Lupin had said. "Do you really think anyone deserves that, Harry?" Truthfully, he did.
Lupin cut into his thoughts. "I don't know who told you, but you might try giving your cousin an easier time about it."
Harry looked up, startled. "What?"
Lupin sighed. "She's very hurt, Harry. She doesn't usually let herself get close to people. After what happened, that's understandable. She's a strong, capable woman, but it still bothers her."
Harry knew what he was talking about now. "I just don't understand..."
"Neither," said Lupin firmly, "does she."
Harry swirled this around like the butterbeer in his mouth. Later that day, he met April on his way into the Great Hall. She nodded curtly, then made to walk past him as usual, but he called after her.
"Care for a game of Exploding Snap with the Weasleys later?"
April stared at him, then her face broke out into a smile. "Yes," she said. "I'd like that very much."