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Unwelcome recompense

"Money: There's nothing in the world so demoralizing as money." Sophocles

It was a good two weeks before Harry actually did more than grunt or huff begrudgingly at Silvana. His disinclination for creating small talk with her was excruciating for Remus, and his own smiles of embarrassment and mutters of apology were all too familiar in the honeymoon period of Silvana’s stay at Grimmauld Place. Just as she thought she was breaking through that heavy barrier Harry had put up between them, so he would put up another in its place. He had also refused to ask her about the Legilimency trick she had used on him that first day. He was still fuming that she had somehow managed to penetrate his mind, and he felt she was a possible spy rather than there to be of assistance. When he’d discussed it with Hermione she had said she didn’t agree but he knew better. What did Hermione know, anyway? This stalemate went on throughout Remus’ first transformation, when Silvana really could have used a little companionship and reassurance, even from this petulant child. That weekend without Remus was a long weekend for both Silvana and Harry. And it would have continued the following week had two surprise visitors not come to thaw the chilly air.

The first visitor was Andromeda Tonks. She came to Grimmauld Place with her daughter, having sworn an oath to keep the location a secret, which she gladly took. Tonks trusted her mother completely and was secretly delighted to be able to show her the old place. Of course, Andromeda vaguely remembered the house from her childhood visits to her dear cousin Sirius. She smiled as she walked in through the door whispering a few choice words at the old woman behind the screen and stuck out her tongue, much to her own daughter‘s amusement. Sirius’ mother was never a great favourite with Andromeda and the feeling was returned to Andromeda ten fold when she had married Ted Tonks. She had really let the side down and muddied the waters with that alliance, at least so her family told her often enough. Thank goodness both her sisters had married well, they commented. Andromeda did not care.

She had giggled like a schoolgirl as soon as she had seen her old friend, and tears of joy were shed as they hugged and kissed. Tonks was always surprised at her mother’s reaction to this woman, but was even more surprised to see Harry’s as he went to walk up the stairs and away from the two women now sipping coffee in the kitchen. Tonks had hoped Harry had been a little better tempered on this visit. It wasn’t that she didn’t like the poor boy, but she was getting a little tired of his moods when she visited and had a deep desire to slap him on occasion. He wasn’t the only one who was upset about Sirus, she mused, but she just got on with life and that was that. She shed plenty of tears in private, or with her mother, but in front of the rest of them she was the same old Tonks. She stopped Harry at the bottom of the stairs, preventing him from ascending.

“Oi! Where do you think you’re going?”

He looked down at the floor, sheepishly.

“Sorry Tonks. I just want to be alone.”

Tonks rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. Her sympathy was in very short supply today. “Well tough. I’m here and we’re going to talk. Mum’s told me a few things about Silvana and I think you should hear what I have to say. In fact you’ve got to, because I’m an Auror and if you don’t I’ll have you arrested. So there. Go in the living room and sit.”

He did as he was told, shoulders lowered and demeanour showing his displeasure at having to endure what he suspected was another chat about how wonderful Silvana was. He had heard it all from Remus when she had first arrived. Why should he care? Tonks carefully closed the door behind them, asking, “Is Remus around?”

Harry shook his head as he sat down on the sofa. “No, he’s gone out for the day. It was full moon a couple of nights ago and I think he was feeling a bit caged up. I know how he feels.”

Tonks sat down in the armchair nearest her with a huff. “I’m sure you do, Harry, and if they’ll let me I shall take you out sometime but until then just listen to what I’ve got to say. I’ve been talking to Mum a lot recently, and she was telling me about her old school days and Silvana. When Sirius was first put in Gryffindor he was really devastated. When he was eleven he just wanted to please his parents and when he wasn’t put in Slytherin he was gutted. More than that he was ashamed and frightened. Well, two people that understood him were my Mum and Silvana. My grandparents were ok about Mum being in Ravenclaw. They knew she was clever so they didn’t mind so much, but Silvana’s dad went ballistic when he found out she was a Ravenclaw.”

Harry shrugged and muttered, “Why? What did it matter where she went?”

“Because her father didn’t even want her to go to Hogwarts. Mum said Silvana only came to Hogwarts because her mother had really fought for her to come and her dad just gave in eventually after her mum said it would look good for him having a daughter at the school. When he found out she wasn’t a Slytherin there was hell to pay. Silvana was really frightened about it all. Frightened for her mum and her brother. Her dad sounded like a right git.”

Harry suddenly had an image appear in his mind. The image he had seen from Snape’s memories of the arguing man with the boy and his mother. Was that what the argument had been about? Silvana? But the curiosity soon died as the indifference took over once again.


Tonks rolled her eyes and tutted. “So, when Sirius got there and was in trouble she really understood. Mum said she used to go to him of an evening, even though they were in different houses, and they would chat a lot. She made him feel better, you know, mothered him a bit, I think. He didn’t get much of that at home. Mum said when he was in the third year he even asked Silvana out, but she was never allowed boyfriends and she was in her last year by then anyway. I bet old Snapey loved that! Sirius asking his older sister out, don’t you? Can you imagine what Sirius would have been like? He’d have been unbearable!”

Harry forced a chuckle at the memory of his godfather. Sirius would have been unbearable. He knew it. He imagined the picture in his mind of the young Sirius courting Silvana when she was down by the lake while searching for Severus to see if he was nearby. Yes, he could imagine him in his mind, and he smiled. But the happiness would not stay long and his anger returned as he thought of how Silvana was here, her brother was here, alive, and Sirius was not. Life was so unfair. He looked up at Tonks, with a scowl, and she frowned back at him.

“What is it, Harry? Is it just because she’s Snape’s sister?”

“Well, that helps. She put words in my head, Tonks. That first day she was here I heard her but it was all in the mind. I don’t trust her.”

“What? When did she do that? Are you sure? You realise she’s a Legilimens, right?”

Harry sat open-mouthed at Tonks and shook his head. “How do you know?”

“Mum. Harry, her and Snape learnt it when they were really young because their father was not a nice man. They learnt to communicate with their mother without speaking when he was in one of his moods. They had to do that to survive. Can you imagine having to live like that? In fact, some of the things that Mum told me makes me a lot more sympathetic towards old Snape himself.”

“Huh!” Harry scoffed, “it would take a lot more than that for me to trust him!”

“Harry! I’m not asking you to trust anyone. Just give Silvana a break, will you? She seems nice, she’s a rough time recently and you’re being a bit unfair. She’s lost loved ones too you know. Just try and be a bit civil, for all our sakes. Please. If not for me then for Remus? Pretty please? I‘ll turn into a supermodel for you if you want.”

Harry grinned at her as she pouted and turned into a well-known leggy blonde in front of his eyes. It was still Tonks whoever she turned into, and he couldn’t imagine kissing her at all. “Ok, ok! Give it rest!” With a twitch of her nose, Tonks changed back to her pink hair and normal cheery face. She tilted her head to one side and blinked flirtatiously.

“You’re sure?”

“Yes! For goodness sake!” wailed Harry, his cheeks blushing with embarrassment. “Look, we’ll go into the kitchen where your Mum is and see what they’re up to, ok? But I’m making no promises.”

“That’s fine. Off you go then. I’ll follow you.”

But to Harry and Tonk’s surprise Andromeda met them outside of the door of the kitchen before they got in there. Shutting the door carefully behind her she whispered and pulled a concerned face, “He’s in there with her, so I thought I’d better leave.”

Tonks frowned and leaned in towards her mother to hear her a little better. “Who’s in there?”

“Professor Snape!” Andromeda hissed through gritted teeth. “Severus is in there with Silvana right now. He was most annoyed to find me chatting with her and made it fairly plain that I wasn’t very welcome to stay, so I left. Shall we go shopping now? I’ve said my goodbyes.”

Harry looked up at Tonks willing her to offer to take him out of this prison he was now in with both of the Snapes, but she winced as is she knew what he was asking of her. “Sorry Harry. I know I said I’d take you but with Remus not being here to ask I can’t really. Maybe tomorrow, huh?”

Harry shuffled his feet along the floor and nodded. “Sure. I suppose I could go and listen at the door to be nosey.”

Andromeda looked horrified and turned to him with a scolding look across her face, wagging her long finger at him.

“I think not, young man! That’s private business in there! You mustn’t listen in.” She hesitated for a moment and then grinned. “Besides which the door is far too thick. You can’t hear a damn thing!”

It was Tonk’s turn to scold her mother. “Mum! I can’t believe you sometimes! Did you hear what they were saying before you shut the door?”

“Not a word, no. But he came in holding a white envelope if that’s any help.”

“Not really, is it? Oh well, Harry. You see if you can find out some more and let me know. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Harry nodded silently and watched as his friend and her mother left the building. He wished Remus were here. At least he wouldn’t be alone with the Snape siblings then. Maybe he should just go upstairs and stay out of their way, he thought. But he was sorely tempted to go and see if he could hear their conversation.

It didn’t take too long before the decision was made for him. In a flurry of black robes, billowing behind him, Severus Snape emerged from the kitchen looking as black and furious as he always did when he laid eyes on his least favourite pupil. Pausing to sneer down his over-sized nose, his black eyes glittered as if amused by his sight, delighted at the prospect of making someone feel worse than he did.

“Well, well Potter. Up to no good here as well as Hogwarts? Listening to other’s conversations are we? How very like you. I should have expected no less.”

Harry narrowed his eyes, full of hatred. “No. Actually I had no idea you were here,” he lied. Snape could see through him, even if Harry had turned away from his gaze.

“As if I can believe that. Do you really think that I can trust that you have changed your foolish ways in just a few weeks? Who are you trying to save this time? Or perhaps your speciality is just the opposite. Your father was somewhat of an expert at trying to get people killed too.”

Silvana, hearing the commotion, rose from her seat at the table and leant against the doorframe, frowning at the two figures before her. “Severus, the difference is he is not at Hogwarts. This is his home, and if Harry chooses to listen to our conversations that is entirely his right.”

Snape turned to his sister, furious at being challenged before this boy. “His right? I see he has worked his charm on you too.” He glared at his sister, whose own steely glare made him realise he would not convince her otherwise. “Very well, I am aware I have no authority here so I will let you deal with this, Silvana. Perhaps you could teach him a little manners while you are here. Just remember, Potter, your meddling has already cost the life of one person.”

Silvana frowned at her brother and tutted aloud. “Harry’s manners are of no concern of yours, Severus, unless he is at Hogwarts. I might remind you to watch yours, however. There was no need for that last remark.”

Shocked and stunned, Harry could not help but snigger at the calm and serene face of Silvana compared to the livid face of her brother. Narrowing his eyes, daring Harry to smile while he was still in front of him, Severus Snape nodded a goodbye to his sister and left the building in more of a fury than he had entered it. Hearing the door slam safely shut, Silvana winked at Harry and nodded towards the kitchen. “I made some shortbread biscuits. Want some?”

Harry remained silent, but followed Silvana into the kitchen and sat down at the table. She passed him the heavily laden plate of biscuits and sat down with a steaming mug of coffee in front of her.

“Can I ask you, Harry? Is my brother always like that with you?”

Chewing a mouthful of the delicious biscuit, Harry nodded, swallowing the mouthful so he could speak. “Normally, yeah. I seem to annoy him more than most.”

Silvana wrapped her long fingers around the mug and sipped her coffee tentatively. “Yes, it doesn’t surprise me. Your father did used to vex him so. James was very naughty sometimes. He and Sirius got me into trouble once or twice just for covering for them. They both had a propensity to charm the birds out of the trees.”

Harry finished his first biscuit and lifted another from the plate. He was amused to hear his father labelled ‘naughty’ by this woman. He looked at her as he started to munch the next biscuit and she smiled a kindly smile at him, asking if he would like a drink of lemonade, which he nodded at. She poured the cloudy liquid into a clear glass and placed it in front of him. “I’m surprised you haven’t asked me yet.”

Harry frowned and stopped eating. “Asked you what?”

“How you heard me say ‘Truce?’ the first day I was here. I’m guessing it concerned you a little.”

“A bit, yes. But Tonks told me you were a Legilimens so I’m guessing you have some other ability.”

Sipping her coffee again, staring at him through the rising steam, Silvana smiled. “ I am a Legilimens and an Occlumens, just like my brother, but I did not ‘put’ the words in your head, Harry. You only read what was in my head yourself.”

Harry frowned. “But I can’t do that. At least not yet.”

“Tell me Harry, I understand you tried to tell my brother the whereabouts of Sirius the day he died, is that right?”

Harry tensed at the memory of that day, but nodded though he desperately wanted to forget. His anger for Snape on that day rose up again, and he could see the shadow of him in the eyes of the woman he now stared at. He looked away from her penetrating eyes. “I tried, both through our minds and verbally. He didn’t want to hear.”

“But I understand he did hear, though in the end it made little difference to the outcome. But regardless of how you feel, you tried to will my brother to read your mind, yes?”

“Well yes, but…”

“And that is just what I did to you the other day. I willed you, persuaded you to peek into the depths of my mind, though in this case I made sure you only heard one word. ‘Truce’. I suspect you did that before, with Severus, too. Your powers are just coming to the fore, Harry. You may have other yet undiscovered powers we know nothing of. That link to Voldemort is unique.”

“But I’ve never used Legilimency before. At least, not as far as I know.”

Silvana smiled and patted his shoulder. “I suspect you have never needed to. Why should you? Sometimes it is much better to not know and to stay ignorant. Legilimency is a blessing but also a curse, Harry. I suspect Dumbledore will teach you to harness that power when you return to Hogwarts just as he did myself and Severus after me.”

Still avoiding her glare, Harry weaved the biscuit in and out of his fingers, taking a small bite and contemplating whether he should continue with his conversation. He decided to risk a conversation.

“Tonks was telling me a little about your upbringing earlier. I hope you don’t mind. She said how you became a Legilimens and Occlumens, and about your dad.”

Silvana sat back in her seat and sighed. “I see. Life for Severus and I was hard back then, Harry. I was my father’s ultimate failure.”

Harry shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

“You wouldn’t. I was a first-born and a girl, Harry. A terrible failure for a man such as our father. My mother was not a well woman and she suffered time and time again in pregnancy, losing many children until Severus was born just because my father wanted a son and heir. Severus was just as sickly as my mother for many years. Once his son was born our father was only ever interested in him. The pressure on Severus to perform and shine was tremendous. I, on the other hand, was just an insignificant other, until my mother persuaded my father I would be more of a catch to eligible men if I was well educated. There were many rows about my life, I can tell you, Harry. I was lucky to get an education at all. But I understand you are no stranger to a less than ideal upbringing so you will understand what it is like to be brought up with a favoured child.”

Harry hesitated before he spoke. Oh yes, he understood very well. Dearest Dudley was always put above himself and he didn’t deserve it one bit. He thought of all the times he had suffered as a young child and felt so alone, and wondered whether perhaps Silvana really did understand him. Maybe she had felt like an outcast like him. A large part of him still wanted to remain distant from this woman but his natural curiosity was getting the better of his stubborn streak and he was warming to her despite himself.

“So what did you do after school?”

Silvana sighed and looked at Harry with a sad and weary expression across her face. “I agreed to stay at home and become housekeeper to my father. Our mother died when Severus was only thirteen and father needed someone more than a house elf to run the house. He told me it was good practise and I thought I was doing it for the good of the family and so I agreed. I wish I hadn’t but there we are.”

“What would you have done if you had the chance?” asked Harry, sipping the cool lemonade.

Silvana smiled at the question and recalled the ambitions of her youth. “Oh, a Healer, Harry. The whole Potions side of it was a real strength not only for Severus but myself too. Our mother had her own laboratory made for us in which we brewed potions from herbs and plants out of the garden. We learnt a lot from her as kids. She was a wonderful parent when she was allowed to be. She would have been so proud that at least one of us managed to use the skills she taught us.”

Harry smiled awkwardly, unable to agree on that point. He looked at Silvana while she gazed away in her own world. She was so familiar and yet so different and the two things confused Harry so much it hurt his head just to think about it. He felt sorry for this woman and yet she sympathised with a man that he hated beyond reason. He needed to find out more to assist in his judgement.

“Did he bring you anything nice?” Harry asked as he nodded towards the white envelope Silvana had placed in the middle of the table.

“Ha! No, not really. Perhaps I should have been more grateful but this is an unwanted gift.” She picked up the envelope and passed it to Harry, smiling at him. “There. Read it. I have nothing to hide from you.”

Tentatively, Harry opened the envelope and unfurled the parchment contained neatly within. It was a bank statement, in Silvana’s name, from Gringotts. He looked at the balance and widened his eyes. She was incredibly rich. “I don’t understand. Why would your brother bring you this?”

“It’s a share of his inheritance from our father.” She turned away from Harry’s questioning eyes. “Perhaps it eases his conscience, Harry. He was left everything after father died. Now he has divided it up between us.”

“And you’re unhappy about this?”

Silvana laughed. “I shouldn’t be, should I? But I am. I am because things happened that no amount of money could ever compensate for. Nothing can compensate for some of the horrors we have endured, Harry. I will ask you to keep this between us though, if you please. I have no wish to be known as an heir to the Snape fortune. I missed out on friends, boyfriends and all sorts of happiness because of that man. I cannot so easily forgive.”

“But you married eventually. You found happiness without him, didn’t you? I heard what you said about your son. I’m sorry.” Harry looked uncomfortable at his words. Silvana smiled to reassure him.

“So am I, Harry. I wish you could have met him, for he was only a couple of years older than you and you are very much like him. He was my pride and joy, and I miss him.”

She did understand, the voice in his head told him. She was reaching out to him and he did want to reciprocate her gesture but the pain inside him was too much. He felt awkward now, embarrassed, as if he really should say something or tell her something but couldn’t find the words. But what did he want to say? Did he want to shout at her for all the wrongs her brother had done to him, or did he want to embrace her? Almost as if she had read his mind, she patted his hand and rose from her seat, winking at him. “Thank you for the chat, Harry. I’m so glad we were able to talk a while. I should get on with dinner for Remus will be home at any minute.” She glanced over to the door as she rose and laughed as she saw the figure of Remus Lupin leaning against the doorframe.

“This is cosy. Can I join in?” Silvana grinned and put her hands on her hips.

“How long have you been standing there?”

“Just long enough to hear you two having a conversation of sorts. I’m very pleased to hear it too.” He winked at Silvana and she blushed at his friendly gesture.

“You look better than you have in all the time I’ve seen you. Did the fresh air do you good?

Remus Lupin nodded in response and sat down next to Harry, his eyes shining with delight. He watched as Silvana bent down to pick up the vegetables from the rack and began to admire her womanly figure. He watched as the curve of her waist came out to form her ample hips, how her hair hung down the very centre of her back, swept away from her face. He looked as she began to peel the vegetables with her long and elegant hands and it reminded him somehow of happier times. This could have been the life he had dreamed of had his love stayed with him all those years ago. He could have had this: Harry or a son like Harry, and a beautiful wife. It had all been within his grasp and he had let it go. He shook himself out of his dream and felt a pang of guilt shoot through him as Harry muttered something about homework and left him alone with Silvana. He rose to make himself a drink and turned to face Silvana. He witnessed the pure complexion and dark hair, those deep dark eyes and defined cheekbones and her face merged with the one in his mind that he had spent the afternoon with.

They were both so very different. One so dark and tall and one smaller and more fair but for a moment his dream merged them as one. He smiled at Silvana and blushed as his thoughts turned to his afternoon with the other woman in his life. He had made love to her that afternoon and he now felt at peace with the world.

That afternoon, for a brief while, he had been back in the arms of Perpetua.

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