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A Thousand Words

by Ailee17
Harry never could have predicted how much his life would change after making a s
urprising discovery at the Dursley household the summer before Second Year. The
young wizard returns to school looking for answers, and ends up finding a whole
lot more. Snape/Harry mentor fic. No slash.
Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Harry P., Severus S. - Chapte
rs: 32 - Words: 82,934 - Reviews: 764 - Favs: 1,135 - Follows: 1,994 - Updated:
9/9 - Published: 1/4/2015 - id: 10948484

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. The Picture Frame
2. Shattered
3. Discovery
4. Summer's End
5. On the Train
6. In the Dungeons
7. Back to Class
8. Potions
9. Detention
10. Discussions
11. A Thousand Words
12. Saturday
13. Return to Potions
14. A Good Day
15. Fear
16. Anxiety and Anger
17. Trouble

18. The Trophy Room

19. Calming Draught
20. Stupidity
21. Making a Deal
22. Voices
23. The Hospital Wing
24. Temper
25. An Answer at Last
26. Of Broken Glass and Quidditch Practice
27. Quick Checkup
28. The Wrath of Snape
29. Assistance
30. Dungeon Bats
31. Halloween
32. Deathday

The Picture Frame

A/N: Hello, everybody! I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful evening (or morni
ng/afternoon, depending on where in the world you are).
So this is my very first try at a Harry Potter fanfiction, which is surprising s
eeing as I have been absolutely obsessed with the books from the time I was eigh
t years old. But I have recently been reading quite a few Snape/Harry mentor/ado
ption fics and knew I would have to write one myself.
I know that there are a million of these stories out there already, but I just l
ove them so much. Now there are a million and one :)

* * *

Harry peeked cautiously around the corner, his eyes taking in the sight of the p
ristine kitchen. He had tried to hold off as long as he could, but he couldn't s
tand it any longer. His head was pounding, and he felt incredibly weak. He had t
o eat something. Anything.
"What are you doing standing there?" a shrill voice broke through the silence of

the house. Harry flinched and, recognizing the voice of his aunt, immediately t
urned his gaze towards the floor. He mentally kicked himself for not noticing he
r before, sitting at the dining table. He had been too focused on the refrigerat
or, trying to imagine what he could possibly take from inside that the Dursleys
wouldn't notice. "Well," he thought to himself. "At least it isn't Uncle Vernon.
"Well?" Petunia bit out sharply when no reply was immediately forthcoming.
Harry allowed his eyes to travel upwards by a fraction. His aunt seemed to be go
ing through several boxes of old pictures. They were all spread out across one s
ide of the table, and the woman currently held a small stack of the old photogra
phs in her hands as she glared at her nephew.
Normally, Harry wouldn't bother asking. The Dursleys hated questions, and he cou
ld usually predict what their answers were going to be anyways.
But he was starting to feel desperate.
"Please, Aunt Petunia. I was wondering if I could...have something to eat?"
"You heard Vernon. No meals for the rest of the week," Petunia practically spat.
"How dare you even ask, after what you did to Dudley?"
Harry hadn't done anything to Dudley. Dudley had just gotten upset when he and h
is gang had been unable to catch Harry in a game of "Harry Hunting" earlier in t
he week. Convinced that Harry must be using "the m-word" to avoid getting caught
, Dudley had made up some story about Harry shouting nonsense words and trying t
o curse him and his friends.
Of course, Vernon and Petunia believed him. And Uncle Vernon had never been so t
errifying as he had been directly after that incident. Harry tried not to think
about it too much, but he couldn't help but to bring a hand up to his cheek at t
he memory. A bruise was still visible there. Thankfully, it was the only one Har
ry had to see when he looked in a mirror.
Harry swallowed hard. "I'm sorry. I'm just so hungry. Please"
Harry was suddenly interrupted by a long, low grumbling sound coming from his st
omach. Embarrassed, he wrapped an arm around his middle and fell silent, his eye
s falling back to the floor.
It was silent in the kitchen for the next few seconds. Harry was afraid to even
breathe too loudly. But then he heard the scraping of a chair as his aunt stood
from the table. He cringed slightly as Petunia neared him, but she passed him wi
thout a word and continued to the refrigerator.
Harry waited nervously, not really believing that his aunt was getting him somet
hing to eat. She was probably getting a snack for herself. Or for Uncle Vernon,
who would likely be home from work very soon.
He looked up as he heard the refrigerator door close, and found himself surprise
d when, in the next second, Aunt Petunia was thrusting a thin slice of cheese in
to his hand.
"That's all you get, so don't you dare ask for more."
It took a second for Harry to get over his shock. But when he finally opened his
mouth to murmur a quick "thank you", he snapped it shut immediately at the look
of pure loathing on his aunt's face.

"You better finish that before Vernon gets home," she said simply, brushing past
her nephew. "He will not be happy if he catches you with food."
It was of course exactly at that moment that the front door banged open, and Unc
le Vernon's booming voice could be heard from down the hall.
"Petunia, come see the new car the company gave me," the man called out, clearly
With one last glare at Harry, Petunia swept out of the kitchen to go meet her hu
sband outside.
Wasting no more time, Harry shoved the entire slice of cheese into his mouth and
turned, intending to be back upstairs in his bedroom before his uncle came back
But a sight out of the corner of Harry's eye momentarily distracted him. Instead
of leaving the kitchen, he turned towards the table, where all of those picture
s were still strewn across its surface. A quick glance told Harry that most of t
hem were of Dudley, in various stages of the boy's life. Birthdays, holidays, ha
nging out with friends...Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia appeared in some of the p
hotos as well. There were even a few of Aunt Marge and her evil dog Ripper. But
Harry didn't appear in a single one.
The boy sighed as he glanced down into one of the boxes that Petunia did not app
ear to have gone through yet. He suspected that this whole project likely had so
mething to do with what Aunt Petunia had been going on and on about the last tim
e she had come home from having tea with the neighbors. Apparently Mrs. Somethin
g or Other and Mrs. What's-her-name had been showing off a bunch of pictures of
their children, and Aunt Petunia, upon searching through her purse, had realized
that she did not have any of her own pictures of Dudley to share.
Harry doubted that she was going to allow that to happen again.
Shaking his head as he caught a glimpse of a particularly horrible picture of a
two-year old Dudley throwing a temper tantrum, Harry was nearly ready to turn aw
ay from the box when he caught sight of the wooden edge of a picture frame at th
e very bottom, underneath several stacks of pictures.
Not exactly sure why he was so curious (it was probably just another picture of
his cousin after all) Harry reached down into the box, and carefully extracted t
he frame from its place at the bottom of the pile, doing his best not to make a
mess of his aunt's perfectly stacked photographs.
And when he finally held the small frame in his hands, Harry couldn't help but t
o let out a little gasp of surprise at the picture inside the frame.
It was a family portrait, although Vernon and Dudley were nowhere to be seen. Au
nt Petunia was there though. A much younger Petunia. She was probably no more th
an ten years of age, but Harry knew it was her. She had the same long neck and p
ointed nose as her adult counterpart had, although her eyes weren't nearly so na
rrow and menacing in the picture. It was strange to see her like this.
Harry's gaze didn't linger too long on his aunt, however. He quickly moved on to
the other occupants in the frame. There was a man and a woman, his grandparents
he realized, and before he could study them any further, his eyes quickly found
the young girl on their other side. A red-haired girl with green eyes exactly l
ike his own.

His mother.
Without another thought, Harry tore out of the kitchen, the picture clutched fir
mly against his chest, and ran up the stairs, his head spinning with dizziness f
rom his lack of proper food. He was not about to let the Dursleys catch him with
this picture. They would surely take it from him, probably burn it or tear it t
o shreds just because his mother was in it. How the portrait had managed to surv
ive until now was a mystery, but Harry was not going to let anything happen to i
He heard the front door open just as he crossed the threshold of his bedroom, an
d a second later, Uncle Vernon was yelling up the stairs.
"Boy! Get down here now! We have some things to go over before the Masons arrive
Harry sighed. He had almost forgotten about the Masons. He quickly shoved the pi
cture frame under his pillow and left his room again, slowly making his way back
down the stairs.
He supposed the night couldn't be too bad. He was likely just going to be spendi
ng the evening in his room, which, at the very least, meant that the Dursleys wo
uld be leaving him alone.
The more he thought about it, the more appealing the idea became, and he had to
be sure to wipe the smile off his face as he met his aunt and uncle in the livin
g room.
"Now Dudley will be home in a few minutes," Aunt Petunia was saying to Vernon. "
I want the boy to be upstairs before then. You know how upset Dudley gets when h
e sees him these days."
Harry really had to fight hard not to smile, then. He didn't even have to deal w
ith Dudley for the rest of the day?
It was definitely going to be a good night.

* * *

A/N: Alright guys, first chapter done. So what do you think? I love getting feed
back. Any and all reviews are greatly appreciated.

A/N: So here's Chapter 2, at 4:30 AM (EST). I just couldn't stop writing until i
t was done. Enjoy!
WARNING: There is some child abuse in this chapter.

Also, I neglected to say in Chapter 1 that I do not own Harry Potter, so yeah...
I do not own Harry Potter.

* * *

It was one of the worst nights Harry could remember having in the Dursley househ
It started out well enough, of course. At Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's prompt
ing, Harry fled up the stairs and disappeared into his room. As soon as the door
closed behind him with a snap, he went straight to his pillow to retrieve the p
icture frame he had stored there, his severe hunger of earlier nearly forgotten.
And then, sitting on his bed, his back resting against the wall, Harry stared lo
ngingly down at the portrait in his hands.
His mother stared back at him, her eyes vibrant and full of life, a wide smile l
ighting up her face as she leaned into the embrace her father was holding her in
. She seemed so happy. So care-free. The little girl in the picture had no idea
what was going to happen to her.
Harry closed his eyes, forcing back the lump in his throat that formed at that t
hought and taking a deep breath. After a few seconds, he opened them again, his
gaze returning to the picture. His mother was still smiling, unmoving in the mug
gle photograph. She was frozen in time, forever smiling, forever happy.
It was exactly how Harry wanted to think of his mother.
He continued to stare at the picture for quite some time then, until long after
he heard the Masons arrive and everybody move into the sitting room. At some poi
nt, he slid off his bed to retrieve the photo album of his parents that Hagrid h
ad given him last year. He had hidden it beneath the loose floorboard under the
bed, to ensure that the Dursleys would not find it.
Harry felt a pang at the thought of Hagrid. He had hoped that the half-giant, or
any of his friends for that matter, would have written to him by now. Even just
a quick note to say Happy Birthday. He was, after all, twelve years old that ve
ry day.
But it was to be a birthday like any other, he supposed. Brushed aside, complete
ly ignored. He himself had only just given the special date any thought at all.
At least he still had Hedwig, though, he realized, turning towards the owl who s
eemed to be the only friend that he had in the world at that moment. Only she wa
s currently asleep in her padlocked cage. Harry just shook his head, deciding no
t to disturb the creature, and turned back to his album.
His mother and father smiled up at him, waving enthusiastically as only those in
wizarding pictures can. He couldn't help but to smile back at them, as he settl
ed back down on the bed. Perhaps this wouldn't be his worst birthday ever. Not i
f he could spend the evening looking at old pictures of his parents in peace.

* * *

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Later, Harry would blame himself for the way he handled things when Dobby showed
up that night to warn him about "plots" and "terrible things" happening at Hogw
arts. He should have just gone along with the house-elf, and tried to convince h
im that he had no intentions of going back to school, despite that being a compl
ete lie.
But of course he hadn't. And then the elf had had Aunt Petunia's pudding suspend
ed in midair...

* * *

Harry stood there in the kitchen, completely still and unmoving, and gulped as h
e looked into his uncle's eyes. There seemed to be a promise in those eyes. A pr
omise of murder or perhaps something worse.
He could hear Aunt Petunia in the next room, attempting to smooth things over wi
th the Masons with placating words and the ice cream she had dug out of the free
zer. In the next second, Uncle Vernon was thrusting a mop into his nephew's hand
s, causing Harry to flinch back. He had been certain that the man was going to b
eat him with it.
"Clean this up," the man practically hissed, bringing his face to within an inch
of Harry's own. "You will be receiving your punishment later."
"Yes, sir," Harry whispered automatically, clutching the mop handle for dear lif
Uncle Vernon straightened up then, and turned to leave the kitchen. He turned ba
ck, however, just before he was completely out of the room.
"You best hope that this deal goes through, boy... because if it doesn't..."
The man left the threat hanging in the air as he finally left his nephew alone.
Harry felt numb. His stomach churned with fear, and it was several seconds befor
e he was able to move again. He looked around at the mess surrounding him, and f
elt himself start to panic.
His uncle was going to kill him.
And there was nothing he could do about it, except to clean the kitchen as best
as he could, and hope that Uncle Vernon's business deal still went through.

* * *

When the owl arrived, dropping the letter on Mrs. Mason's head, Harry knew that
it was all over with. He might as well grab a shovel and go dig his own grave in
the backyard.

Soon after the Masons' hasty departure, Harry found a piece of parchment being s
hoved under his nose. It was a moment before he was able to focus his eyes enoug
h to read the short warning message from the Ministry on underage magic. But by
the time he reached the part in the letter that told him to enjoy his holidays,
all the color had drained from his face.
Vernon tore the parchment away from Harry before speaking in a deadly whisper.
Terrified, Harry scurried out of the room and up the stairs, knowing that disobe
dience would only make things worse. His uncle followed, only a few steps behind
Harry felt a sense of dread as he opened his bedroom door. His heart began to po
und against his rib cage, and his breaths began coming in short, rapid gasps.
And then he heard the door close behind him.
He whirled around, and in the next second, his uncle was grabbing him and pushin
g him up against the nearest wall. He held tightly to Harry's arms, hard enough
to bruise, eliciting a small whimper of pain from his nephew at the action.
"You ruined everything!" the man shouted. "That was the most important deal of m
y career"
"I didn't do anything, I swear," Harry said desperately, just as Hedwig let out
an alarmed screech from her cage. "Please, Uncle Vernon"
"You liar!" Vernon hissed, pulling Harry away from the wall, only to slam him ba
ck into it a second later.
Harry gasped for breath. "No, please. I'm not"
"You're lying through your teeth," Uncle Vernon interrupted, shaking Harry rough
ly as he spoke. "And you will be severely punished for it."
There was a pause then, as though Vernon needed time to consider what he was goi
ng to do with Harry, although the boy was already fairly certain of what was goi
ng to happen. In the corner, Hedwig continued to emit low screeches of fear, but
neither of the two other occupants in the room seemed to hear her.
The man loosened his grip ever so slightly on his nephew's arms. "Go get my belt
," he whispered at last.
Harry immediately began to tremble. "No, please. I'll be good, Uncle Vernon. I p
"Now!" the man's voice returned to a shout.
Harry moved away from the wall and hurried from his room, quickly making his way
down the hall to where his aunt and uncle slept.
The master bedroom was empty. Aunt Petunia was still downstairs with Dudley, whe
re the two of them would likely stay until his "punishment" was over. He crossed
the room on shaking legs, and opened the top drawer of the dresser on the far s
ide of the room where Uncle Vernon kept his belt.
Knowing that his uncle would only get angrier if he took too long, Harry snatche

d up the belt, and rushed back to his own room, just hoping that this would all
be over soon.
But what he saw when he reached the doorway made him freeze in his tracks.
Uncle Vernon was standing by his bed. And he was holding Harry's photo album in
his hands.
Harry closed his eyes. There was absolutely no way that this day could possibly
get any worse.
He had been in such a hurry to run after Dobby that he had given no thought to r
eturning the album to its hiding place. He had simply left it on top of his bed,
and now Vernon had found it.
"And what," Uncle Vernon began menacingly, "is this?"He held up the book with a
look of disgust after having flipped through a few of its pages.
"It's my photo album," Harry said, the panic clear in his voice as he opened his
eyes once again. "Please, sir. It's all I have left of my parents"
"Those freaks," Vernon sneered, opening the book again and pulling out one of th
e pictures. It was one of Lily and James together, and even from where he stood
at the door, Harry could see that they were smiling and waving.
Vernon grimaced at the unnaturalness of the moving picture. Then he placed the p
hoto album, still open, back on the bed, and began taking out more pictures, tur
ning through the pages until he had a fair few clutched in his hands.
Harry opened his mouth to plead with his uncle not to do anything, but it was to
o late.
Without further warning, Uncle Vernon began tearing the pictures to shreds, and
Harry, too shocked to speak or to move or to do anything, could only watch in ab
solute horror.
It was worse than the belt. Unimaginably worse. The pain of it was like a knife
to the heart.
And Uncle Vernon knew it. He continued to tear the pictures apart until they wer
e nothing more than tiny little scraps strewn across the floor. And then he reac
hed for the photo album again.
And Harry sprang into action. He dropped the belt and ran to the bed, trying to
snatch the book away before his uncle could get to it.
But he just wasn't quick enough. Uncle Vernon grabbed the book and tucked it und
er an arm.
"You know, I believe I've changed my mind," the man said in a falsely gentle ton
e, grabbing Harry by the arm. "The belt can wait until tomorrow. I'll let you th
ink about it for a while. But for now, I think I'll just take this filth and be
on my way."
In one final effort, Harry lunged for the book as he felt a sense of desperation
course through him.
But Uncle Vernon caught him by the arm once again, and shoved Harry away with su
ch force, that Harry fell to the ground. His head hit hard against the front of
his bedside table, and in the next instant the lamp that sat on top of it was fa

lling to the floor, where it shattered into pieces.

Uncle Vernon ignored the incident and continued towards the door, pausing only t
o pick up the belt that Harry had dropped at the threshold. "Tomorrow, there wil
l be new locks going on this door," he stated with a sneer. "You will not be lea
ving this room. And you will not be returning to that school."
Without waiting for a response, or any other indication that he had been heard,
Uncle Vernon finally took his leave, slamming the door behind him.
And only then did Harry finally let the tears fall.

* * *

A/N: Thoughts? Thank you so much for reading, everyone. Hopefully I'll have anot
her update out soon.

A/N: Thank you all so much for all of the follows/favorites that this story has
gotten so far, and a special thank you to all of those who left reviews. They ne
ver fail to make me smile. Enjoy Chapter 3!

* * *

It was a while before Harry moved off of the floor. He didn't want to give his u
ncle any reason to come back, and even the smallest of noises would likely be en
ough to set the man off that night.
He waited until long after he heard all of the Dursleys enter their bedrooms, an
d the faint sound of snoring reached him from down the hall, indicating that Unc
le Vernon was fast asleep.
And then slowly, carefully, Harry pulled himself up, using the bed for assistanc
e. He took one quick glance around the room, and then sank down onto his mattres
Once seated, he reached back to feel the tender spot on the back of his head whe
re he had banged it against the side table. He let out a small hiss of pain and
then dropped his hand once more. It would heal soon enough.
But what his uncle had done...what he had taken and destroyed...
Harry felt as though a hole had been ripped open in his chest.

He used a hand to swipe at the tears in his eyes and on his cheeks. He hated Unc
le Vernon. He hated him. He would never be able to forgive the man for what he h
ad done.
Harry knew he needed to leave.
The problem was, of course, that his wand and the rest of his school stuff were
locked up in the cupboard under the stairs. And there was no way he was leaving
them behind.
The thought of his wand filled Harry with a sense of longing. He would love noth
ing more than to burst into his aunt and uncle's bedroom just then and curse Unc
le Vernon into oblivion.
Harry took several deep breaths, then. He needed to calm down.
He allowed his eyes to roam around the room as he focused on returning his heart
rate to normal. Everything was quiet and still. It seemed wrong somehow, after
all that had transpired in the last few hours.
Harry's gaze swept across the floor, seeking out the pieces of his parents' pict
ures that Uncle Vernon had torn up. Perhaps if he could collect them all...he co
uld fix them with a spell later. As soon as he got out of this place.
In the next second, Harry was on his hands and knees, crawling across the hard w
ooden floor, as he picked up each and every tiny scrap of photograph he could fi

* * *

It was some time later that Harry finally stood up off the floor, eventually sat
isfied that he had gotten every piece. He had found a small bag under his floorb
oard, which was perfect for holding the scraps. Now all he needed was to get a h
old of his wand, and his photographs would be good as new.
At least the ones he had with him. Who knew what Uncle Vernon had done with the
rest of the photo album? Harry let out a sigh. He knew he couldn't worry too muc
h about it now. All of his focus had to be on escaping from the Dursley househol
Harry looked over at Hedwig, who was currently staring silently back at him. "I'
ll get us out of here, girl," he said quietly. "And as soon as I have my wand ba
ck, I'll be able to unlock that cage."
Hedwig made a displeased sound, probably unhappy to hear that she would continue
to be trapped in her cage for a while longer.
"I know, girl." Harry said in a whisper. "But we'll get out of here. You'll see.
Harry looked over at his bedroom door, then. If what Uncle Vernon had said was t
rue, and there were locks going on his door tomorrow...Then tonight just might b
e his only chance at escape.
A minute passed as Harry began running through his options in his head. He focus
ed his eyes on the lock on Hedwig's cage, waiting for inspiration to strike.

And eventually, it did.

Harry moved over to the small desk in the corner and began rummaging through the
contents spread out over its surface. Most of the items were things left over f
rom when the place had still been Dudley's second bedroom. Broken toys and old,
dusty books that had never been opened. But there was only one thing that intere
sted Harry, and he snatched it up triumphantly as soon as his eyes found it.
It was a large paperclip.
Harry wasn't exactly sure when or why Dudley had ever had the need for a papercl
ip. But it had been lying on top of the desk ever since he had moved in, and now
, it just might prove to be useful.
Harry began working with the clip, unbending it until all he held was a long str
ip of metal in his hand.
"See?" Harry said, waving his new tool in front of Hedwig, who hardly seemed imp
ressed. "Now I can pick the lock of the cupboard under the stairs, and maybe eve
n your cage, and we can get out of here. I'll be back in a minute."
Hedwig simply stared then as Harry turned around and headed for his bedroom door
. He opened it cautiously, not wanting to wake any of the Dursleys from their sl
eep. And then he was gone, hurrying down the hallway and then the stairs, his be
droom door closing tightly behind him.

* * *

Harry yanked and tugged at the lock in frustration. He had spent nearly a full f
ive minutes at the cupboard under the stairs, twisting the unbent paperclip arou
nd and around inside the lock on the door, to no avail.
He couldn't leave. Not without his belongings. Not without his wand, at the very
Harry groaned, resting his forehead against the cupboard door. There had to be a
nother way inside. If only he knew where Uncle Vernon kept the key...
Harry's thoughts were interrupted then when a coughing fit broke out somewhere u
p on the second floor, causing him to nearly jump out of his skin. He listened f
or a minute as the noise died down, straining to hear any sign of his aunt and u
ncle's bedroom door opening.
When none came, Harry began climbing the stairs again, deciding that he would be
much better off devising a new plan in his room, rather than risk getting caugh
t out of bed.

* * *

His hand had barely brushed against the doorknob of his room when a voice broke
the silence in the house.

"What are you doing?"

Harry flinched, not even bothering to turn at the sound of his aunt's voice.
"You were downstairs," Petunia hissed. "Why?"
Harry thought desperately for something to say, but nothing was coming to mind.
"Were you eating our food?" the woman demanded.
Harry shook his head. "No, I was"
"Thinking of running away, perhaps?" Petunia said knowingly. "It wouldn't do you
any good."
Harry couldn't help but to turn his head at that.
"They'd only send you back," his aunt continued viciously. "If not right away, t
hen next summer. And then Vernon would be even more upset than he is now."
Anger flared up inside of Harry at the mention of Uncle Vernon.
"And what do you suppose they will do when I don't show up to school on the firs
t of September?" he finally shot back.
Petunia's eyes narrowed. "Why you little"
"Perhaps they will show up at the door, wondering what's going on," Harry interr
upted. "Imagine what the neighbors will say when they see them. Imagine what the
y will think when"
"That's enough." Petunia stated firmly. Then she pointed a finger at Harry as sh
e spoke her next words. "You are going to behave yourself for the rest of the su
mmer. You are going to stay in your room, and keep quiet."
"And school?" Harry couldn't help asking.
"What have your uncle and I said about questions?" Petunia returned. She then po
inted at his bedroom door. "In. If I catch you out again tonight, I will wake Ve
Hardly able to believe that he was getting off with just a warning, Harry gave a
quick nod and then slid into his room, closing the door behind him before Aunt
Petunia could have the chance to change her mind about getting Uncle Vernon.
Hedwig gave a soft hoot in greeting, and Harry sighed as he crossed the floor to
meet her.
"Sorry, girl. It looks like we're going to be stuck here for a little while."
The owl wore a look that plainly said "Well I could have told you that."
Harry gave his familiar a half-hearted smile and then turned towards his bed. Au
nt Petunia had been right. He probably would be sent back to the Dursleys if he
ended up running away. Where else could he go, really? Who else would take him i
His only hope now was that the thought of anyone from the wizarding world showin
g up on Privet Drive to check up on his whereabouts would be enough to persuade

the Dursleys to let him go back to school.

He let out another sigh then, as his thoughts began to race. Would they really c
ome looking for him if he didn't show up on the train or at the welcoming feast?
Harry couldn't be sure. He'd like to think that someone would, but maybe they w
ouldn't. Maybe they just wouldn't care.
Harry shook his head. He couldn't think like that. He looked down at the floor,
where the broken lamp still laid in pieces. It was then that Harry remembered.
The picture frame.
His gaze turned to the side table. He was almost certain that he had set the pic
ture down there when Dobby had shown up. But it wasn't there now.
For one horrible moment, Harry thought that maybe Uncle Vernon had found that pi
cture, too. But he couldn't have. He hadn't left the room with a picture frame i
n his hand.
Besides, if the lamp had fallen off the table when Harry had been thrown into it
, then perhaps the picture frame had, too.
Without wasting any time, Harry pulled the side table out and away from the wall
, and peered behind it.
And there was the picture frame, resting against the wall. Harry could have laug
hed in relief. Somehow, his uncle had overlooked it.
Harry frowned as he gathered the frame into his hands and noticed that the glass
was now cracked, making it slightly difficult to see his mother's face.
He sat down on the bed, turning the frame over so that he could remove the back
and take the picture out. His fingers slid the tiny latches out of the way, and
then he pulled the back away.
Harry froze.
He had only expected to see the back of the Evans family portrait.
Instead, there was another picture entirely inside the frame.
Harry let out a small gasp, because there his mother was again, smiling up at hi
m, probably about the same age as she was in the portrait on the other side of t
he frame. She was outside now, under a large tree, and there was only one other
occupant of this picture.
A young, skinny boy with black hair and a long nose was also smiling, only rathe
r than looking up at the camera, he was staring at Lily.
Harry's brow wrinkled in confusion. He felt as though he knew this person, but h
e couldn't possibly. This was just an old childhood friend of his mother's.
And yet, the boy's features seemed so familiar. The dark eyes...the sallow skin.
Harry carefully lifted the picture out of the frame, and stared. A few seconds p
assed, and then Harry turned the picture over.
And his heart nearly stopped.

For across the back of the old photograph, someone had scrawled the names of the
two children in the picture. And Harry could hardly believe his eyes.
How was this possible? The words simply couldn't be true. He somehow wasn't read
ing them right.
But no matter how many times Harry read the names, his eyes darting back and for
th across the back of the photograph, they remained very much the same.
"Lily and Severus," he finally whispered into the darkness.
Harry thought he might go into shock.

* * *

A/N: Thoughts? Thanks again for reading everybody!


Summer's End
A/N: Sorry for the delay in getting this out, guys. A lot is happening in my lif
e right now (all good, I assure you), and so this chapter was pretty much writte
n a few sentences at a time over the last 3 weeks. But it's finally done, so I h
ope you all enjoy it!
Also, a big thank you to everyone who has followed/favorited/reviewed or simply
just read my story so far. I am amazed at the amount of support this story has a
lready received, and we haven't even gotten to the good part yet :)

* * *

If nothing else, Uncle Vernon was a man of his word. The following day, there we
re new locks installed on Harry's bedroom door, along with a cat flap so that Au
nt Petunia would be able to push meals through from time to time.
And if that wasn't enough to make Harry feel like he was being kept in a high-se
curity prison cell, Uncle Vernon had then come up with the brilliant idea of ins
talling bars on his window. He had been positively giddy when the man he had hir
ed to do the job showed up at the door.
And in Harry's opinion, there was nothing more terrifying than a giddy Uncle Ver
He was proved right when, later that day, Uncle Vernon kept his other promise to
Harry, and finished delivering the rest of his "punishment" for the incident wi
th the Masons.

The man's taunts and jeers and cutting words had almost been worse than the stin
g of the belt. But it still didn't come close to how it had felt to see his pict
ures torn up before his very eyes.
No, nothing could even come close to that pain.
The young wizard winced as he shifted around
ugh it were on fire. His fingers closed once
t he hadn't let out of his sight since Uncle
hat contained two young children. His mother

on his bed, his back feeling as tho

again around the one photograph tha
Vernon had left the room. The one t
and a childhood friend.

His mother and Snape.

He still hadn't quite been able to wrap his head around this new piece of knowle
dge. His mother and Snape had been friends?
Harry stared and stared at the photograph, searching desperately for answers tha
t he knew he may never get. None of this made any sense.
He doubted it ever would.

* * *

It was some time later that Harry's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of so
mething being pushed through the cat flap. He caught a quick glance of Aunt Petu
nia's hand before it disappeared again, leaving behind a bowl of soup.
Harry didn't immediately move from his spot on the bed. It was still so soon aft
er Uncle Vernon's punishment, and moving just hurt too much.
But after a few silent minutes passed, Harry glanced over at the cage where Hedw
ig was still locked up, even more trapped than he currently was, and knew that h
e needed to get some food to his familiar.
Harry slowly got to his feet, lifting himself carefully off of his mattress. He
crossed the room, gritting his teeth the entire way, determined not to allow any
sounds of pain to escape past his lips. Even if Hedwig was the only one around
to hear it.
Eventually, he managed to scoop the bowl of soup up from the floor, although ben
ding over to do so proved to be quite agonizing. Hedwig made several low screech
ing noises as her owner moved towards her cage, then. Harry wondered if the bird
's sounds were out of concern for him, or if she was just hungry. He feared she
may be disappointed with what he had to offer her.
He raised the bowl to his own lips first, and forced himself to gulp down the st
one cold broth. He knew it would do him no good to turn his nose up at it.
"Here, girl. You can have the vegetables," Harry said when he was done. He tippe

d the soggy remnants of the soup into Hedwig's food dish, and watched as his fam
iliar turned her head away in obvious disgust.
"Yeah, well, it's all we have right now. So we're both just going to have to get
used to it," Harry said firmly.
Hedwig continued to ignore him.
Harry sighed. "I really am sorry, Hedwig. You shouldn't have to be stuck here wi
th me."
Hedwig tilted her head slightly to the side, listening.
"But it won't be long until school starts," Harry continued. "My aunt and uncle
just have to let us out then."
The young boy turned away then, heading back towards his bed.
But just before he was about to lower himself onto the mattress, another sound c
ame from Hedwig's cage. A soft, hooting noise that sent a wave of reassurance th
rough Harry's entire body.
And in the next moment, the owl reluctantly began to eat.

* * *

As the days passed, and the Dursleys showed no sign of changing their minds abou
t keeping Harry locked up in his tiny bedroom, the young wizard found himself do
ing a lot of thinking.
He thought about Hogwarts, and all of his friends. He wondered how Ron and Hermi
one were doing, and if they ever thought about him at all. And he thought about
how his summer had gone before Dobby had had to show up and ruin everything. It
had definitely been miserable, but it had been a hundred times better than this.
Harry shook his head as his mind wandered down that avenue. He didn't like to th
ink much about his current situation. It was far too depressing.
But he supposed it was better than thinking about the picture.
The picture that could quite possibly drive him insane.
The mystery that surrounded his mother and Snape had only gotten more and more f
rustrating with each passing day that Harry could think of no explanation for th
e photograph he'd found.
He wasn't even sure what he should do with the information. Assuming he ever got
back to Hogwarts, should he show the picture to anyone? Ron and Hermione? What
would they say? What would they think?
Harry wasn't sure he wanted to think about that just now.
The boy groaned and rolled over onto his side so that he was facing the wall. Th
e pain in his back had faded away to nothing more than a dull ache a couple of d
ays ago. He had healed fairly quickly, just like always.

And summer would be over soon enough.

* * *

It was the final week of the summer holidays when Harry was finally allowed out
of his room for something other than the use of the toilet.
A lot of chores.
Harry cleaned the entire house from top to bottom every single day that week. He
swept and mopped and vacuumed the floors. He scrubbed the dishes and wiped down
every surface of furniture until not a single speck of dirt or particle of dust
And then there was the outside work. He mowed the lawn and pruned the hedges and
tended to Aunt Petunia's garden in the blistering August heat.
And now, on the very last day before school was supposed to start, he was cleani
ng up the shed in the backyard.
Harry found himself wishing that he could have just been left alone in his bedro
om upstairs.
He wiped the sweat from his brow as he tried to figure out how exactly he was go
ing to organize all of the tools and gardening equipment so that the Dursleys wo
uld be satisfied.
He didn't have much time to figure it out either. Uncle Vernon would be home fro
m work soon, and Harry was supposed to be done with his chores and back in his r
oom by the time that happened.
But today he would need to talk to Aunt Petunia about going back to school tomor
It was a conversation he was not looking forward to.
"So are you going back to that freak school?" a voice startled Harry out of his
Turning around, the young wizard saw Dudley standing just outside the shed, star
ing in at him with a nasty smile on his face, a bag of sweets, as always, clutch
ed securely in one hand.
Harry just shrugged. Dudley wasn't very frightening when he wasn't surrounded by
his gang of friends. "Yep," he replied. "It'll sure be better than being stuck
here all year."
And with that, Harry brushed past his cousin, deciding that he wanted to get the
conversation with Aunt Petunia over with sooner rather than later.
But then Harry's arm was suddenly being held in a death grip as Dudley grabbed h
im before he could make it more than a few paces away from the shed.
"You're a liar." Dudley hissed. "Dad said you're not going back. He won't allow

"Shows how much you know, doesn't it?" Harry retorted, yanking his arm out of th
e larger boy's grasp. Then he continued walking back towards the house.
"I know more than you think I do," Dudley called after him.
Harry ignored him.
"Never mind, then," Dudley continued. "I just thought you'd like to know what ha
ppened to that stupid photo album Dad took from your room."
Harry froze in his tracks, both of his hands immediately balling up into fists a
t his sides.
Dudley smirked and took a few steps closer to his cousin, until he was standing
directly behind Harry.
"It must have been important to you," the boy continued with his taunting. "Too
bad it's gone now."
"You're lying," Harry said, still frozen in place.
Dudley's smile grew wider as he stared at the back of Harry's head. "No, I'm not
. I saw Dad do it. I saw him throw it into the fireplace-"
At those words, Harry couldn't hold back. He whipped around and blindly threw a
good hard punch in the direction of Dudley's face.
He then stood impossibly still, completely in shock, as he watched his oversized
cousin bring one of his large hands up to his face, his eyes wide in surprise.
A second later, Dudley moved his hand away again, and Harry was able to see the
blood smeared across his cousin's fingers and trickling out of his nose.
There was nothing but silence between them then, each one of the boys just stari
ng at the other.
And then Dudley found his voice.
"Mum!" he practically screamed.
Harry snapped out of his trance then, and turned towards the house, breaking int
o a run when he heard Dudley following him.
He flew through the kitchen, nearly running right into his Aunt Petunia, who shr
ieked in protest, and then in anger as she saw the state of her son.
But Harry didn't care. He ran into the sitting room, and went straight for the f
He knew he wouldn't find anything. He had cleaned this fireplace several times a
lready over the last few days. It was cleaner than it had ever been before.
Which meant that if Uncle Vernon really had burned his picture album, then they
were really, truly gone. All of those photographs, all of those snapshots of his
parents, alive and happy, were gone.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there, just staring into the empty fireplace. H
e just knew that it wasn't until Aunt Petunia stormed into the room, yelling and

screeching and shouting, that he finally broke out of his daze and turned to fa
ce her.
"How dare you?!" she was practically screaming. "How dare you hit my son?!"
And suddenly Harry was angry. Completely ignoring his aunt's question, he opened
his mouth to speak. "I am leaving tomorrow," he stated firmly. He was through w
ith asking permission.
"What did you just say?" Petunia hissed.
"I said that I am leaving for school tomorrow," Harry refused to back down. "And
unless you want a very powerful witch or wizard standing at your doorstep, you
won't try to stop me."
Aunt Petunia took a few steps forward until she was standing directly in front o
f her nephew. Then, quick as a snake, she reached down and slapped Harry hard ac
ross the face. The young boy's hand immediately went to his stinging cheek as he
finally broke eye contact with his aunt.
"Fine," the woman said. "I'll have Vernon give you a ride to the train station t
omorrow morning."
Harry's brow furrowed in confusion. That was it? She was just going to let him g
"But," Aunt Petunia continued nastily. "After that, you are no longer welcome in
this house. I never want to see you back here again, summer holidays or otherwi
se. I am finished with you. I will not allow you to hurt Dudley again, or to int
rude on my family any longer. Are we clear?"
Harry couldn't quite identify the emotion that was taking over his body at that
moment. He felt sick, empty, betrayed.
But that couldn't be right, could it? He hated the Dursleys. And they hated him.
How could he possibly feel betrayed at his aunt's words? That didn't make any s
"Are we clear?" Petunia repeated, as she continued to glare down her nose at Har
All the boy could do was nod numbly, his eyes fixed on the floor.
"Then get upstairs," Petunia said dismissively. "And wait for your uncle to get
Harry left the room as quickly as he could and headed up to his bedroom.
Hedwig greeted him softly when he entered, and Harry headed straight for her cag
"We're finally getting out of here, girl," he said quietly, reaching through the
bars of his owl's cage so that he could stroke her feathers. "I told you we wou
ld, didn't I?"
Hedwig seemed to sense that not all was well with her master, though, for she le
t out another soft hoot and nudged at Harry's fingers.
The young wizard sighed. "I'm in trouble with the Dursleys again," he confided i
n his familiar. "I'm sure Uncle Vernon is going to be really mad at me when he g

ets home."
Harry thought that Hedwig looked rather concerned at that bit of news. So he dec
ided to plaster a smile onto his face in the hopes of cheering them both up.
"But, at least we get to go back to Hogwarts tomorrow," he said, continuing to s
troke his owl.
Hedwig tilted her head to the side in response, and suddenly Harry's smile turne
d genuine, if only for a moment.
"Yep. Tomorrow, girl, we get to go home."

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading everyone! I'll try to have the next chapter up as soon a
s possible, although I will be out of town for a couple days and so likely won't
be able to work on this until I get back. (It shouldn't be too long, I promise.

On the Train
A/N: Alright, here it is guys. Chapter 5! It's a long one, and it took a while t
o write. I just hope I did okay with all of the characters. Let me know what you

* * *

Harry sat still as a statue in the backseat of his uncle's car as Vernon sped th
rough the streets, getting closer and closer to King's Cross station. The boy un
consciously tightened his grip on the sides of Hedwig's cage as he stared resolu
tely out the window, trying his best to think only of Hogwarts and his friends.
He couldn't wait to get back to the wizarding world. The summer holiday had been
far too long.
Only now, he had no home to come back to next year. Aunt Petunia had made that a
bundantly clear yesterday. And Uncle Vernon had wholeheartedly agreed as soon as
he had arrived home to discover that Harry had "viciously attacked" his son.
Harry winced as the car went over a bump in the road, jolting his body in the pr
ocess. Uncle Vernon hadn't held back last night when he delivered Harry's punish
ment. He never did when it came to Dudley. Harry was just thankful he could walk
today, despite the pain in his back. He suspected that his magic probably had s
omething to do with that.

The silence in the car was deafening. Harry could almost feel his uncle's angry
eyes watching him through the rear view mirror, and he had to suppress a shudder
as he determinedly kept his gaze focused on the window. Just a few more minutes
and they would be at the train station.
But it felt like hours to Harry.
What if his uncle had something else planned for him? Maybe Vernon wasn't going
to take him to the train station at all. Maybe the man was going to dump him off
in some darkened alleyway where he would starve to death or die of cold or
"Out!" the booming voice sliced through the silence of the car, causing Harry to
flinch as his thoughts were interrupted.
The car had come to a stop without Harry realizing it. And when his eyes were fi
nally able to register what he was seeing through the car window, there was King
's Cross Station. He wasn't going to have to fend for himself out on the streets
after all.
"I said OUT!" Uncle Vernon shouted, flinging his own door open.
Harry quickly unbuckled his seat belt and slid out of the car. He then reached b
ack inside to retrieve Hedwig, making sure that the owl's cage was balanced secu
rely in his arms. And by the time the young wizard had accomplished this task an
d managed to close the door behind him, Uncle Vernon had already unloaded Harry'
s trunk onto the curb and was slamming the boot of the car closed.
And then, without so much as a backward glance at his nephew, Uncle Vernon got b
ack into the car.
Within seconds, he was gone.
And Harry was alone.

* * *

Harry made his way to Platform 9 as quickly as he could, trying his best not to
call too much attention to himself, although Hedwig always drew a few stares. He
ignored the pain in his back as he pushed his luggage along on the trolley and
was relieved when he finally reached the wall between Platforms 9 and 10. He did
n't even hesitate this year. He passed through the portal without batting an eye
Within seconds, the Hogwarts Express loomed before him. Harry felt a small sense
of relief wash over him as he finally saw it. It was nice to be back in the wiz
arding world, surrounded by magic. He could feel it practically vibrating in the
"So what do you think, girl? Should we get you out of that cage?" Harry said, gl
ancing down at his owl.
Hedwig gave a hoot of approval, and Harry moved around the trolley so he could r
etrieve his wand from his trunk.

* * *

It was early. Very few witches and wizards had already arrived on the platform.
There was no sign of Hermione or the Weasleys yet, and for that, Harry was grate
ful. He knew he was going to get bombarded with questions about the summer, and
why he hadn't written or responded to any of their letters. He wasn't sure he wa
s ready for all that just yet. He wanted some time to get settled first.
He moved through the train, one arm pulling his trunk along behind him, while He
dwig's empty cage was tucked carefully under the other. Harry couldn't even begi
n to express how grateful he was that his familiar was finally able to stretch h
er wings. He couldn't remember the last time his owl had seemed so happy. He onl
y wished that his own spirits could be as high.
Harry sighed as he entered an empty compartment at the back of the train and dro
pped into a seat near the window. He thought he would be happier, more excited,
to go back to school. But after everything that had happened at the Dursleys'...
Harry had never felt more alone.
The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out the old photograph. The one with
his mother and Snape. He shook his head once more at the bizarreness of it all.
His mother had been friends with Snape.
Snape had been friends with his mother.
And once again, he allowed himself to think on that situation for a little while
It was certainly easier to think about than the fact that he was now homeless, a
nd would have nowhere to go when next summer came around. Or that despite being
the famous "Boy-Who-Lived", he was essentially unwanted and undesirable.
Harry shook his head and focused his eyes back on the picture. He looked at his
mother, beaming up at him, the happiness and excitement clear in her smile and i
n her eyes.
Harry shoved the picture back in his pocket after a minute. Somehow it was diffi
cult to look at just now. But he still kept his hand clutched tightly around his
small treasure and the little bit of comfort it offered him. He leaned his head
back and closed his eyes.
And finally, his exhaustion caught up with him.

* * *

"Harry? Harry!"
Harry mumbled a few incoherent words as he blinked his eyes open.
"Harry?" the voice repeated, as whoever it was gently put a hand on Harry's shou

Harry blinked a few more times before finally recognizing the girl with the long
bushy hair.
"Hermione!" he said, sitting up straighter and offering his friend a smile.
Hermione frowned as she took in the appearance of the boy sitting before her. "H
arry, are you alright? You look exhausted."
Harry shrugged. "I didn't sleep well last night."
Hermione just stared at him for a minute more, causing Harry to feel extremely u
"Is there something wrong?" Harry asked at last.
"Is there something wrong?" Hermione repeated in disbelief. "Harry! We've all be
en terribly worried!"
"The Weasleys and myself, of course! You wouldn't respond to any of our letters!
We thought something might have happened to you! And then that warning from the
Ministry! You know better than to do magic outside of school, Harry!"
"How did you?"
"Mr. Weasley works for the Ministry."
"The Weasleys. Are they here yet?"
"No. Not yet. Now if you would kindly explain"
"It wasn't my fault. Honest. There was this house elf and"
"A house elf?"
"Yes. Now if you would kindly allow me to explain?"
Hermione motioned with a hand for Harry to continue.
And so the boy began telling his carefully edited story about Dobby the House El
f, and the night that the Masons came over for dinner.

* * *

Hermione sat thoughtfully for a moment after Harry finished speaking. Uncomforta
ble, Harry turned to look out the window at the growing crowd of people finding
their way onto the platform. There was still no sign of Ron or the many other me
mbers of his family.
"What do you suppose he meant by all that?" the young witch finally broke the si
lence. "Terrible things happening at Hogwarts? Why would he feel the need to war
n you specifically? Do you think this is just someone pulling a prank?"
Harry just shrugged as he turned back to his friend. "I don't know. I haven't re
ally given it much thought."

Hermione raised her eyebrows. "You haven't?"

Harry shook his head, and then turned away again. If he was being honest, he had
n't thought about Dobby in days. There were so many other things...the Dursleys.
..the picture...
Suddenly, Harry was on his feet and rummaging through his trunk, looking for the
small bag that he had kept stored under his floorboard.
"What is it?" Hermione asked, watching Harry as he searched almost frantically t
hrough his belongings.
"Here it is," the boy said excitedly, pulling out the small plastic bag and dump
ing its contents onto one of the seats.
"What?" Hermione repeated.
"They're pictures of mine that got, well"
"Torn to shreds?" Hermione said, eyes widening at the pile of scraps. "How?"
"My Aunt Marge's dog, Ripper, got to them," Harry quickly invented. "But a simpl
e repair charm should fix them, right?"
"I don't know," Hermione replied. "Pictures can be tricky, Harry. Are you sure y
ou have all the pieces?"
Harry nodded. "I'm pretty sure."
"Then give it a try."
Harry nodded and pointed his wand at the pile of photograph pieces. "Reparo."
Nothing happened.
Still, nothing.
"Come on," Harry said, shaking his wand in frustration.
"Are you visualizing what the pictures look like in your head?" Hermione asked.
"It's a lot easier to repair a photograph if you know what it's supposed to look
like. And if you're missing any pieces, it's going to be nearly impossi"
"I have all the pieces," Harry interrupted. "I know I do."
Hermione sighed and took her own wand out. "Here. Let me give it a try."
Hermione tried five different repair charms before she was finally willing to co
ncede defeat.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Harry. But since I don't really know what the pictures are su
pposed to look like"
"It's fine," Harry said quickly, as he began sweeping the scraps back into the p
lastic bag, being exceedingly careful not to miss a single piece. "I'll just fig
ure it out later."

"What were they pictures of?" Hermione asked, as she watched Harry carefully pla
ce the bag back in his trunk.
"My parents," Harry replied, closing the lid on his luggage and taking his seat
once again.
"Oh," Hermione said, understanding dawning on her. "Oh, Harry. I'm sure we can"
"It's fine, Hermione. But thanks."
A silence fell between them then, and Harry went back to watching the people on
the platform.
All the while, he kept a hand clutched tightly around the photo in his pocket.

* * *

The Weasleys were very nearly late in boarding the train. Harry and Hermione wat
ched the group of five red-headed children running for the steam engine with the
ir trolleys of luggage, their parents hurrying them along from behind. Harry rec
ognized Ron and the twins in front of the group. And then there was Percy, who w
as dragging their younger sister along by the hand.
They only just managed to climb aboard the train as the whistle began to blow.
And moments later, as the locomotive began to move, Harry and Hermione's compart
ment door slid open.
"Harry!" Ron, Fred, and George said in unison.
"Hey, guys," Harry answered with a quick wave.
"Sorry, we're late," Fred said, strolling into the compartment first. "It seems
that some people in this family don't know how to pack properly. It caused a bit
of a delay."
"You were the ones causing the delays!" Percy exclaimed from the corridor, exasp
erated, motioning to the twins with his hands. "Forgetting to pack your stupid l
ittle prank kits. I'm amazed Mum even let you go back for them."
"Ah, but then it was Ronnie who forgot something," George put in, taking the sea
t next to Fred.
"Was not! That was Ginny," Ron retorted.
"I wasn't leaving my diary behind," Ginny stated, then hid her face behind Percy
with a squeak when she saw that Harry was looking at her.
"I don't have time for this," Percy declared, shaking his head. "Come, Ginny. Le
t's get you settled, and then I have duties to attend to."
"Yes, we certainly wouldn't want Perfect Prefect Percy to neglect any of his per
fect prefect duties," Fred said sarcastically.
Percy threw the compartment door shut then, disappearing from view along with Gi

And immediately, all eyes turned to Harry.

"Alright, talk." Ron stated.
"Ronald!" Hermione admonished.
"What our brother means to say, Harry," George stepped in, "is that we would gre
atly appreciate it if you could tell us exactly what transpired this summer that
would cause you to not write or reply to a single letter or invitation of ours.
"And what were you using magic for?" Ron put in.
"It's great to see you guys, too," Harry grumbled.
"Sorry, Harry," Ron said. "It's just, you really worried us, you know? Especiall
y when we didn't hear from you. We were going to come rescue you and everything
"We got caught." Fred finished.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Completely irresponsible," Hermione huffed, arms crossed.
Fred ignored her and continued speaking. "See, Dad's got this car."
"It's a flying car," George put in. "A Ford Anglia. He loves muggle stuff, see.
"Well, we were going to use it to fly to your house and rescue you," Ron said.
"You what?" Harry said, in complete disbelief. He tried to imagine for a moment
what would have happened if the Weasleys had shown up on Privet Drive. Would the
y have seen... everything? He shook his head at the thought. That would have bee
n very, very bad.
"You heard us," Fred said, clapping a hand on Harry's back.
Harry winced and stiffened as the pain in his back flared up at the contact. But
thankfully, nobody seemed to notice.
"We wanted to get you out of there," George was saying. "We know life with the m
uggles probably isn't a picnic. If only Mum hadn't caught us out of bed..."
"She was none too pleased," Fred said shaking his head. "But anyway, you're here
now. So tell us everything."
"There's not much to tell," Harry said, shrugging.
"Yes, there is," Hermione interjected. "Tell them about the house elf, Harry."
"House elf?" Ron asked.
"Yeah," Harry answered, as he carefully adjusted himself into a more comfortable
position. "Dobby the House Elf."

* * *

After Harry finished telling his

of the compartment spent a while
rnings. Everyone seemed to agree
be playing a trick on Harry, and
could be responsible.

story for the second time, the other occupants

pondering what Dobby could have meant by his wa
with Hermione's theory that someone could just
they spent quite some time trying to decide who

"Definitely Malfoy," was all Ron had to say on the matter.

Thankfully, by the time lunch came around, the conversation had moved on to othe
r topics. The twins left the compartment to go find Lee Jordan and some of their
other friends, and then it was just Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry leaned his
head back against the seat as he listened to his friends bicker about study sche
dules for the upcoming year.
"You're crazy!" Ron exclaimed in disbelief when Hermione handed him a sheet of p
aper on which she had already outlined a weekly schedule. "Look at this, Harry!
Classes haven't even started yet!"
"Oh, don't be so dramatic, Ronald! Schedules help keep people organized. You wou
ld benefit immensely from one." And with that, Hermione stood up to retrieve som
e books and parchment from her trunk overhead.
"You can't seriously be starting now?" Ron asked incredulously.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I just want to look over a couple of my summer essays
. I'm not sure I quite got my point across in McGonagall's, and I wanted to add
another paragraph to Flitwick's."
Ron just shook his head. "You are absolutely mental, Hermione."
"Oh, so all of your homework is just perfect, is it?"
"It's good enough," Ron mumbled, shrugging.
Hermione gave another roll of her eyes before turning to Harry, who had remained
silent up until this point.
"What about you, Harry? Did you get all of your work done?"
Harry slowly shook his head. Homework had been the absolute furthest thing from
his mind until just now. The Dursleys hadn't allowed him access to his schoolboo
ks during the summer, and so he had had no way of completing his assignments.
And then after Dobby, he had completely forgotten about his schoolwork altogethe
"I don't have any of the new textbooks, either," Harry nearly whispered, looking
down at the floor as that realization suddenly dawned on him.
"What?" Ron and Hermione said together.
"But didn't you get a book list in the post?" Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head. "Dobby must have blocked it. Or the Dursleys..."
"Your aunt and uncle would have kept that from you?"

"No. Maybe. I don't know," Harry said quickly, turning away from his friends.
"You didn't get the chance to go to Diagon Alley at all?" Ron asked. "We tried t
o invite you to come along with"
Hermione silenced Ron with a look. "He didn't get that letter, remember?"
"Oh, right."
"Don't worry, Harry. We can mail-order your textbooks as soon as we get to schoo
l," Hermione said. "We can just share books until they come in. And if you need
any other supplies like parchment or"
"Thanks, Hermione," Harry said gratefully. "I appreciate that."
Hermione smiled. "Yes, well, I suggest you spend some time today catching up on
your homework. Professor Snape's essay is particularly difficult unless you've r
ead all the supplemental materials he suggested at the end of last term..."
At the mention of Snape, a strange feeling settled in Harry's stomach that he co
uldn't quite identify. His thoughts jumped immediately to the picture in his poc
ket, and he wondered if he should show his friends what he had discovered this s
"That greasy git," Ron was saying. "Who reads the supplemental materials? Isn't
that supposed to be optional reading?"
Harry's fingers clenched briefly around the photograph before he withdrew his ha
nd from his pocket. Perhaps now wasn't the time.
"And speaking of gits," Ron continued with his rant, "What in the world was Dumb
ledore thinking, hiring that lunatic Lockhart for Defense?"
"Lockhart?" Harry asked, curious.
"Yes, Gilderoy Lockhart," Hermione said with a beaming smile. "Oh, he's such a g
reat wizard, Harry. All of the things he's done! Battling magical creatures and
discovering new"
"Oh, but I'm sure we'll get to hear all about that in class," Ron interrupted. "
Or we could just read about it. He practically wrote the entire book list."
Harry couldn't help but to smile a little at that as he obtained a quill and som
e parchment from his trunk that had been left over from last year.
"Alright, Hermione. Do you think you could help me get started with this potions

* * *

By the time Harry finished writing his first essay, it was late afternoon, and t
hey would be arriving at their destination soon.

The young wizard's back ached from being bent over his work for so long, and it
was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.
"I'm going to go for a walk," Harry announced, getting slowly to his feet. The c
ompartment suddenly seemed too small. It was like being back at the Dursleys', l
ocked in his tiny bedroom.
"Are you sure? We're almost there, Harry," Hermione's eyebrows were once again r
"I'll just be a minute. It's a little stuffy in here," Harry explained. He then
left the compartment quickly, closing the door behind him.
There were very few people in the corridor, for which Harry was grateful. It mea
nt that he didn't have to suppress a grimace at the pain in his back. He walked
a little ways up the train, wanting to stretch his legs a bit before going back
to his own compartment to change into his robes.
He was just about to turn back when it happened.
A compartment door slid open just in front of him.
And Draco Malfoy emerged, Crabbe and Goyle right behind him.
Harry just closed his eyes and sighed. Of course it had to be Malfoy.
"Well, look who it is," Malfoy said almost immediately, his voice positively gle
eful. "Scarhead."
Crabbe and Goyle guffawed loudly while Malfoy stood there smirking at his own jo
ke, and Harry took the opportunity to turn around and head back the way he came.
Only Malfoy wasn't finished.
"Tell me, Potter. What's it like to have such a hideous disfigurement permanentl
y branded to your forehead?"
Harry froze in his tracks, fists trembling at his sides.
And Malfoy continued."What's it like to have to look into the mirror every singl
e day and be reminded that you're nothing more than a freak of nature? A worthle
ss freak"
It was exactly like being in the backyard at the Dursleys' house, with Dudley ta
unting him relentlessly. And without thinking, Harry whirled around and threw a
fist in Malfoy's direction.
The next thing he knew, he felt something hit his mouth as either Crabbe or Goyl
e took a swing at him. He somehow managed to duck around the two goons, however,
and dove at the now terrified-looking blond boy, who let out a shout of fear as
Harry tackled him to the ground.
"Harry! That's enough! Get up! Get up!"
The voice belonged to Percy Weasley, who managed to pull Harry off of Malfoy and
into a standing position.
"He's completely lost his mind!" Malfoy was shouting, looking directly at the Sl
ytherin Prefect who had found his way into the corridor alongside Percy.

All up and down the train, compartment doors slid open, and curious students wer
e sticking their heads out to see what all the commotion was about. Thankfully,
Ron and Hermione didn't seem to be among them.
"Alright, everybody back inside your compartments! We'll be arriving at Hogsmead
e station in just a few minutes!" Percy raised his voice above the crowd. "Go on
. Nothing to see here!"
Percy waited a moment for his orders to be followed before turning back to Harry
, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.
"That goes for all of you. Your heads of house will be sorting this matter out."
With that, the Slytherin Prefect ushered the three students in his house back to
their compartment, and Percy began steering Harry in the opposite direction. Ha
rry hadn't really gotten the chance to get a good look at Malfoy's face, but he
was fairly certain that he'd punched him hard enough to leave a black eye.
Ha. Something hideous for you to look at in the mirror, Harry thought viciously.
"What was that all about, Harry?" Percy asked, sounding both appalled and concer
ned at the same time.
"Hey, leave him alone, Perce," Fred's head appeared out of a compartment door.
"Yeah, that little git had it coming to him," George chimed in.
"It was reckless and irresponsible!" Percy retorted.
"Sorry," Harry said, the word barely audible.
Percy rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "Here. Let me fix your lip." He ra
ised his wand towards Harry.
Harry's hand went to his mouth, then. There was a small trickle of blood there w
here Crabbe or Goyle had hit him. He hadn't even noticed.
"No, don't! Leave it!" Fred said.
"What on earth for?" Percy asked, turning to his brother.
"Evidence, of course!" George exclaimed. "What do you think is going to happen i
f Malfoy appears to be all banged up, but Harry doesn't have a scratch?"
"Snape'll try to pin the whole thing on Harry!" Fred answered without giving Per
cy the chance.
"Alright, alright! Just...get back to your compartments!"
"We're already in our"
Percy just let out a groan of frustration and headed off, leaving Harry alone wi
th the twins.
Fred winked. "Better go back and get your robes on Harry."
"And good luck with Snape," George added, before the twins slid their door shut.
Once again, Harry's stomach clenched at the mention of the professor.

But whether it was out of fear or something else, he wasn't quite sure.

* * *

A/N: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Snape will finally be appearing in Chapter 6! I'
m really looking forward to writing him. It should be a lot of fun!

In the Dungeons
A/N: Enjoy Chapter 6!

* * *

The train began to slow down as Harry reached his compartment door. Throwing it
open, he hurried inside and headed for his trunk.
"Harry, what happened?" Hermione said immediately, her voice laced with concern.
"Are you bleeding?"
"I'm fine," Harry answered, pulling out his robes and closing the lid of his tru
nk. Both of his friends stood up then as the steam engine lurched to a stop, and
within seconds, students could be heard filing out into the corridor, laughing
and talking and shouting as they made their way off of the train. Harry didn't f
eel like being a part of that crowd just now.
"But mate, what" Ron began.
"I got into it with Malfoy, alright? No big deal."
"No big deal? Harry, you could be in a lot of trouble for this!" Hermione exclai
med, trying to get a better look at Harry's cut lip. "Are you hurt anywhere else
Harry took a step back, unconsciously tugging at the sleeve of his shirt. "I sai
d I'm fine, Hermione. You two go on. I'll only be a minute."
Hermione looked as though she wanted to protest, but Ron stepped in and grabbed
her arm.
"We'll save you a seat in the Great Hall, Harry," the boy said, half-dragging He
rmione through the compartment door.
"But" the girl started, as they joined the line of students exiting the train.
"Oh, give him a minute to get himself presentable," Ron interrupted. "We'll see

him at the castle."

Harry listened to the fading voices of his two best friends, and then slowly shr
ugged into his school robes. He reached up to touch his lip once more, and sighe
d. He really should have just walked away from Malfoy. Hermione was probably rig
ht. He was going to be in a lot of trouble.
Without really thinking about it, Harry once again pulled out the old picture of
his mother and Snape. It was strange, but somehow the photograph was comforting
. He stared down at it for a couple long minutes before tucking it away and head
ing out into the nearly empty corridor.

* * *

The night was calm and quiet when Harry stepped out onto the platform at Hogsmea
de Station. Only a few stragglers remained, mostly older students that Harry did
not recognize. Hagrid was nowhere to be seen, which meant he had already rounde
d up all the first years and led them off to the lake. There was no sign of Ron
or Hermione either.
"Hey, Harry!"
Turning, Harry saw Neville Longbottom running towards him, his toad clutched tig
htly to his chest.
"Hey, Neville. How are you?"
"Fine," the round-faced boy replied, slightly out of breath. "But I've been chas
ing Trevor all over the train. I only just caught him. Where are Ron and Hermion
"Oh, they just went ahead," Harry answered, as the two of them followed a couple
of sixth year boys down a dirt track towards a spot where a few carriages sat w
aiting for them.
"The carriages just pull themselves?" Harry asked, when he saw that there were n
o horses.
The sixth years they had been following exchanged looks and sniggered before cli
mbing into a carriage. "Second years," Harry heard one of them say in exasperati
on. He wasn't the least bit surprised when he saw that both of them had the Slyt
herin snake stitched to the front of their robes.
Harry followed Neville into the next carriage, and a few seconds later, they wer
e moving. The carriage was, indeed, pulling itself.
"Is it true that you hit Malfoy on the train?" Neville asked almost timidly afte
r the silence had stretched on for several seconds.
Harry suppressed a sigh. Of course the whole school would already know all about
"Yeah," he said at last, running a hand through his messy hair. "Probably not th
e smartest thing to"
"What's that?" Neville suddenly interrupted, pointing towards Harry's arm.

Looking to where Neville was pointing, Harry saw that both the sleeve of his rob
e, and the sleeve of his overly large shirt underneath, had risen up on his arm
to reveal some dark bruises from last night's encounter with Uncle Vernon.
"Nothing. I just fell out of a tree yesterday," he invented quickly, yanking the
sleeves back into place.
"Ouch," Neville said, shaking his head. "I've never climbed a tree before. I'm t
oo afraid of heights. That's why I'm glad Flying is only a first year class."
Harry sighed inwardly in relief. Neville had believed him. Now all he needed to
do was to keep the bruises hidden from everyone else until they faded away. He s
huddered to think what Malfoy, or anyone else for that matter, would do if they
found out that the savior of the wizarding world was regularly beaten up by a mu
"Well, here we go," Neville was saying as the carriage came to a stop directly i
n front of the entrance to the castle. "Are you ready for another year, Harry?"
Harry had no idea how to respond to that, and so he simply gave a quick nod, bef
ore leading the way out of the carriage and into the entrance hall.
It was a lot more crowded here than it had been back at the train station, and a
lmost as soon as Harry crossed the threshold, he could hear the whispers and see
the pointing fingers all aimed in his direction.
Trying his best to ignore all of the stares, Harry began making his way through
the crowd and towards the Great Hall, Neville close at his side.
"Harry, there you are!"
Looking up, Harry saw that Percy Weasley was standing directly in front of him,
his chest puffed out so that the gleaming prefect's badge was impossible to miss
on his robes.
"Hi, Percy," Harry said. "Are Ron and Hermione already sitting down?"
"Yes, but I've been asked to inform you that you are to report directly to Profe
ssor Snape's office."
Beside him, Neville gave a very audible squeak of fear, almost losing the grip h
e still had on his toad.
"Right now?" Harry asked, his stomach suddenly in knots.
Percy nodded. "Immediately."
"Okay, um...where is Snape's office?" Harry said, not quite able to keep the ner
vousness from his voice.
"Just go the way you would go to Potions," Percy said importantly, apparently en
joying his role as the helpful prefect, without seeming to realize that he very
well could be sending Harry off to his doom. "The door on your right just past t
he classroom is the professor's office. He'll be waiting for you."
Neville looked as though he feared he may never see Harry again. "Good luck," wa
s all he could manage to say as Harry turned and headed for the dungeons.
Harry's voice got caught in his throat, and he was unable to reply.

* * *

Harry's thoughts were whirling around in his head as he made his way down the co
ld dungeon corridor towards Snape's office. His stomach was still twisting aroun
d, doing flip flops and making him feel ill.
He didn't want to see Snape right now.
And it wasn't just because the potions master would undoubtedly take Malfoy's si
de, and give Harry a month's worth of detentions, and take a million points from
Harry put a hand to his side, right over the place where his photograph was safe
in his pocket.
The truth was that he still had no idea what to think or to feel or to do about
what he had discovered this summer. Could he, should he do anything?
The sound of faint voices brought Harry out of his thoughts. He had reached the
door that Percy had said was Snape's office and he paused for a moment before kn
ocking, straining his ears to listen.
"Hold still, Draco," a voice that could belong to no one other than Snape said f
irmly. But Harry could have sworn that there was a kind of gentleness there as w
ell. It was definitely strange, but then Malfoy was a Slytherin. Of course Snape
would give him special treatment.
Taking a deep breath, Harry summoned every ounce of Gryffindor courage he posses
sed in that moment, and raised his knuckles to rap against the wood of the door
three times.
There was silence for all of two seconds before Harry heard a very harsh "Enter"
from inside the room.
There was no gentleness in that word.
Without giving himself any time to think too much about it, Harry pushed the doo
r open, and walked inside.
Normally, Harry probably would have found it difficult to look away from all of
the creepy jars filled with slimy ingredients located all around the room. He wo
uldn't be able to stop himself from looking around at all of the dungeon bat's t
all, dark bookshelves, or the cold and empty fireplace. He would take in every i
nch of the place from top to bottom, curious to see where his most hated Hogwart
s professor spent so much of his time.
But now, Harry found his eyes glued to the spot directly in front of the profess
or's desk. There, Draco Malfoy sat on a dark cushioned chair, his face turned up
wards while Severus Snape gently applied something, most likely a bruise balm, t
o the area around the boy's eye where he had been punched. He watched as Snape f
inished, twisting the cap back onto the small container of medicine, and then wi
ping his hands on a cloth from his desk. It was only then that he looked up at H
arry. And there was nothing but pure loathing in his glare.
Oh, no, Harry thought, when his eyes met those of the professor. Nothing has cha

nged. He still hates me.

And why wouldn't he? another voice in his head argued. Just because you found ou
t he used to be friends with your mother, you thought things would be different?
"Sit," Snape said venomously, pointing to the other chair in front of his desk.
Harry felt the lump beginning to form in his throat, and he did his best to forc
e it back as he moved forward to take his seat. Even with a blackened eye, Malfo
y was giving him a malicious smile, but Snape didn't seem to notice.
"Mr. Potter," the man finally began, his voice soft and menacing. "Can't even br
ing yourself to wait for term to begin before causing a whole mess of trouble."
Harry was looking down at his lap. "But I"
Harry was sure that if he were to look, he would see a grin plastered across Mal
foy's face. He was probably enjoying every second of this, the stuck up, pure-bl
ooded git.
"You attacked a fellow classmate on the train, did you not?"
Harry wasn't exactly sure what to say to that. It seemed that Snape had already
made up his mind about Harry's guilt.
When Harry didn't answer right away, Snape suddenly swooped down on him, placing
his hands on the armrests on either side of Harry's chair.
Harry winced. One of Snapes's hands had landed right on his right arm, right whe
re there were bruises. He could only hope that the man would think his reaction
was out of fear rather than pain.
Not that Snape would care either way.
"Look at me when I'm speaking to you, Potter. And answer my question."
Harry reluctantly raised his eyes to Snape.
"Well?" Snape hissed.
"It wasn't my fault!" Harry said firmly, sounding far braver than he felt.
Snape straightened, a look of disgust crossing his face. "Just like your father,
Potter. Refusing to take responsibility for your actions and"
"He insulted my mother!" Harry suddenly blurted out.
It wasn't true, and Harry wasn't quite sure what made him say it. Maybe because
he doubted Snape would accept the real truth. That Malfoy had insulted him and i
n that moment, despite being nowhere near as big, or ugly, or stupid, Draco Malf
oy, with that menacing smirk and flanked by his two loyal goons, had looked to H
arry exactly like Dudley Dursley.
And then there was the picture in his pocket. It proved that Snape had known his
mother, had even been her friend. Harry knew that if he had any chance of escap
ing this room with a lighter punishment than the one Snape probably had in mind,
this was it.

"What?!" Malfoy practically exploded. "I never said a word against your filthy m
udblood mother, you lying"
"Detention, Mr. Malfoy!"
Both boys turned shocked eyes onto the potions master.
"But but, I" was all the blond boy could manage to say.
"You know better than to use such foul language. Especially in my presence," Sna
pe continued, his eyes flashing.
"But he's lying!" Malfoy said indignantly.
"I believe I just informed you that your detention is due to what you just utter
ed a moment ago, not for what may or may not have happened on the train."
Malfoy only managed to stutter out a few more incoherent words before falling si
lent, the shock still evident on his face.
"You will serve your detention with me tomorrow evening at 7:00," Snape stated.
"Any more objections?"
All Malfoy could do was shake his head. There was no telling what Snape would do
if the boy dared to voice any complaints.
The whole thing would have been funny if Harry wasn't still waiting fearfully to
hear his own fate. It wasn't everyday that you got to see a Slytherin in troubl
e with Snape, after all.
"Then return to your common room now," Snape said to Malfoy.
"But the feast"
"You will not be attending. You will be provided with some sustenance in the com
mon room."
Malfoy looked confused. That was the only way Harry could describe the different
emotions passing across the other boy's face as he slowly got to his feet. It w
as as though he was just waiting for Snape to announce that he had only been jok
Harry was waiting for that announcement, too.
But it didn't come, and Snape simply stared at the blond boy with eyebrows raise
d until Malfoy finally turned and headed for the door.
As soon as the door clicked shut, Snape rounded on Harry, his wand raised.
And Harry felt his stomach drop.
Snape flicked his wand, and immediately, Harry's hand went to his lip. It was he
aled. But before he could think too much on what had just happened, the professo
r began speaking.
"I will be discussing this matter with your head of house," Snape said, in that
terrifyingly soft voice. "Your fate will ultimately rest with her. Although I ca
n promise you I will be making some heavy recommendations as to what your punish
ment shall be."

Harry swallowed. At least it would be up to Professor McGonagall. She may be str

ict, but at least she was fair.
"I suggest you keep yourself out of trouble this year, Mr. Potter. I will not to
lerate your disobedience or disrespect. Do I make myself clear?" Snape's tone wa
s deadly.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered quietly.
"Then return to your common room."
Harry stood, hardly able to believe his luck. This whole meeting could have gone
so much worse.
Then Snape suddenly thrust out a hand and grabbed Harry's arm, yanking up the sl
Harry jerked back in surprise, yanking his arm away from Snape before he could g
et a good look at the bruises.
"And what, pray tell, have you managed to get yourself into this time?" Snape so
unded annoyed.
"I fell out of a tree," Harry answered immediately, the response coming to him f
rom earlier.
Snape sneered at him and then turned, and Harry took that as his cue to leave. H
e hurried for the door.
"Potter!" Snape called, and Harry reluctantly turned back.
Snape looked for a moment as though he had just swallowed a nasty potion. Then h
e picked up a small container and walked it over to where Harry stood.
Harry's heart was pounding in his chest. Had Snape seen through his lie? Or was
he still planning on handing out a punishment? He had a sudden urge to reach int
o his pocket and grasp at the photograph there, but he resisted.
And then Snape was shoving the little container into Harry's hand. It was bruise
balm, just like the kind the man had applied to Malfoy's eye.
Harry looked up at the man, a question in his eyes.
Snape scowled. "Even you aren't so incompetent as to not recognize bruise balm,
Potter. Take it and go. Then I don't have to listen to any complaints from your
head of house that I failed to help one of her precious lions."
"Thank you, sir," Harry finally managed to whisper.
Snape rolled his eyes, looking as though he wanted nothing more than to snatch t
he container back. "Go. Common room. No detours," the man said harshly, pointing
to the door. "And remember what I said about your behavior."
"Yes, sir," Harry said quickly, hurrying into the corridor. The door closed imme
diately behind him.

* * *

Harry made his way up through the castle, his thoughts once again jumbled around
in his head. It was difficult to turn away from the Great Hall and head up the
marble staircase when the smells of the delicious feast were wafting into the en
trance hall, and Harry wondered briefly if there would be any food waiting for h
im in his common room like there would be for Malfoy.
But he quickly abandoned the thought. Snape hadn't mentioned anything about it,
and he probably wouldn't be able to eat much anyway.
He continued through the dark and silent hallways, climbing staircases and ducki
ng down secret passageways that would get him to Gryffindor tower faster, all th
e while going over the meeting with Snape in his head.
The man was just as mean and bitter as ever. Harry still couldn't picture him as
a child. Young and happy, with his mother for a friend. When exactly had he cha
nged? Did it happen all at once? Or was it something that gradually occurred ove
r a long period of time? And
Harry shook his head to clear his rambling thoughts, and was surprised to find t
hat he was already standing in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Oh, um..."
Harry didn't know the new password.
"I was just sent up here..."
The Fat Lady sighed. "Yes, I was informed you were coming. Although I really had
hoped that you would have managed to obtain the password. It goes against every
instinct I have to just allow anyone in"
"But you will let me in?" Harry asked hopefully.
The Fat Lady gave another long-suffering sigh. "You just make sure you get the p
assword, young man. This is a one-time occurrence. If you come to me tomorrow wi
"I'll get the password, I promise. Now could you please...?"
With one final sigh that made the Fat Lady sound as though the weight of the ent
ire world had been placed on her shoulders, she finally swung forward, and Harry
was able to pass through the portrait hole.
The common room was empty and silent, exactly the way Harry liked it. He crossed
the room, intending to head straight up to his dorm, when something sitting on
one of the tables caught his eye.
It was a plate of sandwiches, with a pitcher and a glass by its side.
Unable to keep from smiling, Harry walked over and grabbed the top sandwich. He
took a bite, only just realizing how hungry he was. It was ham.
Peering into the pitcher, Harry discovered that it was full of pumpkin juice. An
d as he carefully poured himself a glass, Harry's thoughts returned to Snape.
Yes, the man was definitely still mean and bitter. But he had still managed to s

urprise Harry. Snape had healed his lip and made sure he received bruise balm an
d a meal (at least, Harry assumed the sandwiches were from him). And he hadn't r
eally punished Harry, just said that McGonagall was going to do it.
He even forgot to take points from Gryffindor! And Harry was sure that Snape had
only forgotten. He wouldn't have passed up an opportunity to take points like t
hat on purpose.
But perhaps the most surprising of all, Harry thought, as he took another huge b
ite of sandwich, was something that brought a big, smug smile to his face.
Snape had given Draco Malfoy a detention.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading! I'll try to get Chapter 7 done as soon as possible.

Back to Class
A/N: I would once again like to give a huge "Thank You" to everyone who has supp
orted this story so far. You guys are amazing! I hope you all enjoy Chapter 7!

* * *

"I can't believe it!" Ron exclaimed for about the tenth time as he, Harry, and H
ermione made their way down to breakfast the following morning. "I just can't be
lieve it!"
"Yes, we're all absolutely astounded, Ronald," Hermione said sarcastically, as s
he repositioned the strap of her bag so that it rested more comfortably on her s
"Um, Hermione. Snape gave Malfoy a detention!" Ron said excitedly. "Malfoy's a S
"I am well aware of which house Malfoy belongs to," Hermione answered. "And he d
eserved that detention. Professor Snape was just doing his job."
"Oh, come on. You know he favors his precious little snakes! He would do anythin
g to keep them out of trouble."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Oh, really? You're the one who keeps going on abo
ut Malfoy getting a detention."
Ron sighed. "I give up."

Harry, lost in his own thoughts, remained silent while his friends went back and
forth with their bickering. He hadn't told Ron and Hermione the whole story abo
ut last night. He had left out the part about how he had lied to Snape and how M
alfoy had called his mother a mudblood, which was ultimately what led to the blo
nd boy earning his detention.
What was a mudblood anyway?
It must be pretty bad if Snape was offended by it, Harry thought to himself. He
unconsciously put a hand in the pocket of his robes where he kept his photograph
. He wondered if Snape would have had the same reaction to Malfoy's outburst if
it had been aimed at anyone other than Harry's mother. His fingers closed around
the edge of the picture.
Somehow, he doubted it.
"Do you suppose anyone else knows?" Ron was saying as the trio reached the Great
Hermione just rolled her eyes and headed over to the Gryffindor table, where she
proceeded to pull one of her Defense books out of her bag, and bury her nose in
Harry and Ron followed their friend, plopping down on either side of her, and im
mediately began pulling dishes of food towards them. Ron seemed intent on piling
his plate high with just about everything that his hands could reach. But Harry
only served himself a small portion of scrambled eggs. It would take a while to
get used to eating regularly again.
Harry had barely swallowed his first bite of food when the Weasley twins suddenl
y seemed to appear out of nowhere and dropped down onto the bench beside him.
"Please tell us the rumors are true," Fred said without preamble, reaching acros
s the table for an apple.
"Wha' 'umors?" Ron said through a huge mouthful of sausage, earning him a disgus
ted look from Hermione.
George just rolled his eyes at his younger brother. "About Snape, of course! Giv
ing one of his little snakes a detention while a certain young Gryffindor walked
away unscathed," he gave Harry a meaningful look.
Ron swallowed quickly and glared around Hermione at the twins.
"How do you two know about that? Harry only just told us a few minutes ago!"
"Is that so?" Fred asked, passing his apple back and forth between his hands. "W
ell then, little brother, it would seem that you are among the last to know."
Harry raised his eyebrows at the twins. "How did you find out?" he asked.
"How does anyone find out anything around here?" George replied. "We heard it fr
om someone... who heard it from someone else..."
Harry took a moment then to look around the Great Hall. It wasn't unusual for pe
ople to whisper and to stare and to point at him. But it still made him extremel
y uncomfortable.
And it seemed like nearly everyone was staring today. Well, most of them were st

aring. The Slytherins could better be described as "glaring murderously" in his

A quick sweep of the Slytherin table told Harry that Malfoy was not at breakfast
this morning. It seemed that he, at least, had been smart enough to steer clear
of the crowd.
"Hey, Potter," an unidentified voice hissed at him from somewhere down the long
Gryffindor table. "Did you really get away with fighting a Slytherin?"
"How'd you do it?" someone else wanted to know.
"Did you hex Snape, or something?"
"That's amazing!"
"Oh, honestly!" Hermione said exasperatedly. "Just ignore them, Harry."
Harry groaned and sank further down into his seat. He was not in the mood for th
is right now.
And then a whole new set of whispers began to ripple throughout the hall as one
of the side doors near the staff table suddenly opened.
And Professor Snape strode in.
Harry took one look at the angry scowl firmly set on the man's face, and immedia
tely ducked his head. His stomach was suddenly twisted in knots, and his heart r
ate was speeding up.
"I think I'm going to go," he said quietly to his friends.
"But McGonagall's just starting to hand out class schedules," Hermione protested
"And you haven't eaten anything," Ron pointed out, gesturing with his fork.
But Harry wasn't listening. He stood up and grabbed his bag. Compared to everyon
e else's, it was nearly empty. He needed to remember to order his new textbooks
"I'll see you in the entrance hall," he murmured then, as he began walking towar
ds the exit.
Thankfully, no one attempted to stop him.

* * *

Harry had only been standing against the wall outside of the Great Hall for a fe
w minutes, arms crossed, with his gaze on the floor to avoid having to make eye
contact with anyone, when a stern voice startled him out of his thoughts.
"Mr. Potter."
Harry immediately snapped his head up, recognizing that it was his head of house

"Yes, Professor?" Harry said quietly, not sure how to interpret the expression o
n the older woman's face.
McGonagall held out a sheet of parchment, which Harry took in his hands. It was
his new class schedule.
"Thank you," the boy said, giving the parchment a cursory glance. It would seem
that he didn't have to worry about Potions until tomorrow. He felt the smallest
bit of relief at that.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall said again. "I was made aware of the incident that took
place last night on the train with Mr. Malfoy."
Harry looked away as he replied. "I'm sorry, Professor. I"
"I trust you are aware that such conduct is never appropriate or acceptable, and
reflects poorly not only on yourself, but on Gryffindor house as well."
Harry bowed his head in shame, his stomach twisting itself into knots once again
. "Yes, ma'am," he whispered, the guilt suddenly washing over him. McGonagall so
unded so disappointed. And that somehow bothered Harry more than he could say.
"We will discuss this more thoroughly during your detention tomorrow evening at
seven," the Professor finished in that same, reproachful tone.
"Yes, ma'am," Harry repeated, keeping his head down until the Professor had walk
ed away, heading back into the Great Hall.
It was only another minute or so before Ron and Hermione joined him in the entra
nce hall, and the three of them headed off to Herbology.

* * *

"I don't know why you're so bothered by all the attention," Ron whispered quietl
y as the trio huddled around their tray in the greenhouse. "It's not like Snape
gave you the detention."
"Ronald!" Hermione hissed.
Harry sighed. "No, but McGonagall did. And Malfoy's not just going to let this g
"But he deserved it!" Ron protested.
Harry just gave a quick shrug and was relieved a moment later when Professor Spr
out made the announcement for everyone to put on their earmuffs. He snapped his
own into place over his ears as his thoughts continued to whirl around in his he
He definitely agreed that Malfoy deserved a detention just as much as he, himsel
f, did. But Snape had only given the Slytherin a detention based on the lie that
Harry had told. And that was not likely to sit well with the haughty boy. Espec
ially since it was all over the school now.
Harry grasped the top of his mandrake firmly, and yanked it up out of the earth.

He watched it screaming silently for a few seconds before plunging it down into
a new pot. Perhaps it would be best if he just took his earmuffs off and allowe
d the ugly thing's cries to knock him out.
At least then he would have a few hours of peace.

* * *

Harry was relieved when his morning classes were over. After Herbology, Transfig
uration had been less than successful. Despite his many efforts, he hadn't manag
ed to transform the beetle he had been working with into anything even remotely
resembling a button, as Professor McGonagall had instructed them to do. His only
comfort was that no one else, besides Hermione, of course, had managed to do it
"Oh, I almost forgot!"Hermione was saying, as they sat out in the courtyard duri
ng break. She dug around in her bag for a minute before pulling out several piec
es of parchment. "I have the owl-order forms for Flourish and Blotts, Harry."
"You just happen to carry around spare Flourish and Blotts owl-order forms?"Ron
asked incredulously.
"Well, I don't just carry them around, usually. But I do like to keep a couple o
n hand in my dormitory. You never know when you're going to need to buy a new bo
ok or two."
Ron snorted, but Harry smiled at her. "You're a lifesaver, Hermione. Really."
Hermione beamed and began filling out the paperwork. "I've memorized the book li
st, so I'll just fill that part out for you. Then you can put in your Gringotts
It only took a few minutes to fill everything out, and then Harry stared down at
the final total in disbelief. "Our books didn't cost this much last year, did t
hey?" he asked with a frown.
"It's all those stupid Lockhart books," Ron said viciously, before Hermione coul
d even open her mouth. "I still don't know how Mum and Dad managed to pay for al
l of them. And they had to buy five sets."
Both Harry and Hermione gave Ron a sympathetic look, and then Hermione began dou
ble-checking the order form.
"They are expensive," she conceded. "But we're going to learn so much this year
from Professor Lockhart."
Ron huffed in annoyance.
"You'll like him, Harry," Hermione insisted. "You'll see."

* * *

Hermione was crazy. Absolutely, out-of-her-mind, delusional, Harry decided after

just the first minute of Defense class that afternoon.
Because Gilderoy Lockhart was not in any way, shape, or form likable.
He was entirely too full of himself, going on about some silly smile award, and
bragging about all of the books he had written. Harry found himself wishing that
he already had his complete set of Gilderoy Lockhart books, so that he could st
ack them up on his desk and hide behind them, blocking the man from view.
Harry made the mistake of turning his head then, to look at the other side of th
e room. His eyes immediately locked onto Malfoy's, and Harry could barely suppre
ss a shiver. It was the first that he'd seen of the Slytherin since last night,
and the blond boy looked positively livid. The angry scowl on his face was not u
nlike the one that Uncle Vernon often wore just before he gave his nephew a good
thrashing. Harry had to turn away. The instinct to flinch back was almost overw
"Are you paying attention?" Hermione hissed, elbowing him gently.
Harry just nodded absently and forced himself to look at Lockhart, who was still
blabbering on about some adventure or other he'd been on years ago which result
ed in him defeating several dark creatures.
"And so now," the man finally reached the end of his long speech, "if you will a
ll please take out your copies of Voyages with Vampires, we will discuss the int
roduction before taking our pop quiz."
There was a lot of shuffling around and nervous murmuring about the quiz as ever
yone moved to get out the required textbook. Harry just sat there awkwardly, fee
ling relieved when Hermione pushed her own book closer to him, indicating that t
hey could share.
"Does everyone have their books?" Lockhart inquired. "Yes? No? Do you not have y
our own textbook, Mr. uh"
Harry looked up, meeting the eyes of Gilderoy Lockhart, whose expression turned
to brief surprise before morphing back into one of complete jubilance.
"Mr. Potter, is it?" the man said excitedly. "Oh, Harry. Oh, Harry, Harry, Harry
. What a pleasure it is to finally make your acquaintance. I heard all about you
r little exploits on the train yesterday, of course," his voice turned mildly sc
There were many snickers from the Gryffindor side of the classroom, and Harry ju
st wanted to sink down below the desk as he felt the burning glares of the Slyth
erins boring into the back of his head.
"Ah, yes, perhaps not the best way to deal with the situation, Harry. Now, it's
just too bad I wasn't there to help. I'm sure we could have found a far more sui
table solution to your disagreement."
Harry was sure that his face was beet red as the whispers continued throughout t
he room. He wondered what Malfoy must look like at that moment, but was unable t
o summon the courage to look.
"But back to the matter at hand!" Lockhart finally said. "Did you forget to brin
g your books with you, Harry?"
"I, uh don't have them yet," Harry stammered out quietly.

"Ah, too busy this summer to make a trip out to Diagon Alley?" Lockhart asked in
a genial tone.
"Something like that," Harry mumbled reluctantly. Why couldn't the man just leav
e him alone?
"Well, no matter, Mr. Potter. I will simply owl Flourish and Blotts and have the
m send you a complimentary set of my completed works. No payment necessary."
The room fell silent as several mouths dropped open. Harry no longer knew what t
o think or to feel. With every second that passed in this class, things only see
med to get worse. Why, oh why, did they have to have this class with the Slyther
"I already ordered my books, sir," Harry eventually found his voice. "But thank
you, anyway."
"Nonsense, Harry! Don't give it another thought. I'll take care of everything."
There was some more whispering, and Harry could have sworn that he heard Malfoy'
s voice, letting out a steady stream of insults that Gilderoy Lockhart didn't se
em to hear.
He was really beginning to regret not allowing that mandrake to knock him out.

* * *

The trio made their way towards the Great Hall for dinner after having trapped a
ll the stray Cornish Pixies from Defense class back in their cage.
"I can't believe you like that guy!" Ron was ranting to Hermione. "He clearly ha
s no idea what he's doing, and you saw how uncomfortable he made Harry!"
"But he gave him a free set of books!" Hermione argued. "And we got all kinds of
practical experience, today."
"I'm with Ron, Hermione," Harry spoke up. "What was he playing at, bringing up t
he train incident in front of Malfoy and all those Slytherins? As if they didn't
all hate me enough!"
"Oh, it wasn't that bad," Hermione said dismissively.
Harry just shook his head. "I'm not really that hungry. I think I'm just going t
o go up to the common room."
"Are you sure, Harry?" Hermione asked uncertainly. "You haven't eaten much today
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I need to finish up that summer essay for Potions, anyway."
Ron let out a groan. "You just had to bring that up, didn't you?"
"Sorry," Harry said with a shrug. "I'll see you two later, okay?"
The three parted ways at the end of the next corridor. Ron and Hermione turned r

ight towards the Great Hall, and Harry headed off to the left.
Once alone, Harry hurried through the corridors and up several flights of stairs
, wanting to reach the privacy of the Gryffindor common room and his dormitory a
s soon as possible.
But of course, Harry's bad luck prevented him from having a smooth, uneventful j
ourney. Within just a few minutes of reaching the portrait of the Fat Lady, he h
urtled down a secret passageway and rounded the next corner at such a fast speed
, that he was unable to keep himself from running right into the person travelin
g in the opposite direction.
And, because the universe seemed to have decided for some unknown reason that it
really hated Harry Potter that day, the man that Harry accidentally crashed int
o was none other than Severus Snape, the very last person Harry wanted to see ju
st then.
"Potter!" the man snarled, straightening his robes with one hand, while the othe
r closed around one of Harry's arms, giving the boy a slight shake.
Harry tried not to wince. Although the bruise balm had done wonders for his inju
ries last night, he was still a little sore.
"I'm sorry, Professor," Harry immediately apologized. "I was just"
"Twenty points from Gryffindor for running in the corridors," Snape interrupted
in his customary cold tone, releasing Harry and taking a step back. "We're not o
ff to a very good start this year, are we Mr. Potter?"
"Sorry, sir," Harry said again, suddenly getting a strange feeling in his chest.
His thoughts involuntarily turned to the picture in his pocket, and he couldn't
help but wonder what Snape's reaction would be if he discovered that Harry had
"Do not let me catch you running in the castle again," Snape sneered, fixing Har
ry with one of his most infamous glares. "You will not like the consequences."
All Harry could do was nod as Snape stalked away. He watched the man disappear a
round the corner, and then let out a sigh. He doubted that he would ever get the
chance to solve the mystery that was Severus Snape, his most hated Hogwarts pro
With a frown now set on his face, Harry turned and continued on his way up to Gr
yffindor tower. Only this time, at a much slower pace.

* * *

A/N: So next chapter will be featuring Harry's first Potions class of the year.
Now that should be fun to write.
As always, feedback is greatly appreciated.

A/N: So this chapter is a bit shorter than the others, but I thought I reached a
pretty good stopping point. (And it allowed me to get out a really quick update
, too.) Enjoy!

* * *

It was with no small amount of apprehension that Harry descended the steps into
the dungeons the following day for Potions class.
"I'm still not entirely pleased with the conclusion of my essay," Hermione was s
aying. "I had to rewrite it at least a dozen times."
"Once was enough for me," Ron grumbled. "I just hope the great bat is in a decen
t mood today."
"Not likely," Harry murmured, picturing the scowl that seemed to be permanently
fixed to the potion master's face.
"I know," Ron sighed.
The trio rounded the next corner ahead of their other Gryffindor classmates, and
Harry had to suppress a groan at what he saw.
The Slytherins were already waiting at the classroom door. And Malfoy was among
Excited whispers immediately broke out among the second years in the corridor, a
nd all eyes were on Harry and Malfoy.
"So, Potter," Malfoy drawled out sarcastically as the Gryffindors drew closer. "
Did you enjoy your first day back at Hogwarts this year? Did you like strutting
around the castle like a big hero?"
"No more than usual," Harry deadpanned, forcing his expression to remain neutral
Malfoy took a step towards him, away from his cluster of friends. "This isn't ov
er, Potter," he said threateningly. "I'd watch my back if I were you."
"Shove off, Malfoy!" Ron said, also taking a step forward. "Before you do someth
ing stupid and earn yourself another detention."
A few of the Gryffindors in the corridor chuckled at that, but both Harry and He
rmione glared at Ron.
"Watch it, weasel," Malfoy responded, his voice turning deadly. He looked like h
e wanted to say more then, but he never got the chance.
Out of nowhere, it seemed, Professor Snape was suddenly bearing down on all of t
hem, and silence instantly descended on the corridor.

Robes billowing, Snape stalked over to the classroom door and opened it.
"In!" he uttered, the authority clear in his voice.
And every student in the hallway hastened to obey.
Inside, Harry found a table near the back of the room and sat down. Hermione too
k the seat next to him, and placed her second year potions textbook in the middl
e of the table.
Harry looked around the dungeon classroom as everyone else was getting settled,
and spared a quick, sympathetic look for Ron, who would have to partner up with
And then Snape was standing in front of his desk up front, and the room fell sil
"Before we begin our studies this year," the potions master began in his silkies
t voice, "I would just like to reiterate a few of my expectations that may have
slipped right out of your minds during the long summer months."
A few students shifted nervously in their seats. Harry soon found his hand grasp
ing at the edge of the picture in his pocket.
"Carelessness will not be tolerated," Snape continued. "We will be working with
many volatile and dangerous potions this year, and you will soon find that I hav
e very little patience for those of you who prove to be negligent and inattentiv
The man paused here to level Neville Longbottom with a particularly nasty glare.
Neville's eyes grew huge in fear, and the boy let out an audible squeak.
Snape's mouth twitched in amusement before moving on. "You will be expected to c
omplete all assignments and chapter readings on time. Failure to come to each cl
ass completely prepared will result in a failing score for the day, as well as p
ossible disciplinary action to be handled at my discretion."
All around the room, students were exchanging fearful looks. Even the Slytherins
seemed concerned, despite the fact that Snape was always so lenient with them.
Of course, the man hadn't been so lenient with Malfoy. And that likely had the r
est of the little snakes feeling a bit anxious.
Harry couldn't help but to feel a little satisfied at that thought.
"In implementing these measures," Snape was saying in that same silky voice, "I
hope to minimize the number of accidents that occur in this room this year. I ex
pect each and every one of you to be alert and aware at all times. There will be
no excuses for your ignorance."
There was a brief pause as the professor allowed those words to sink in. Then he
spoke again.
"Is there anyone who does not understand?"
No one in the classroom dared to move a muscle.
"Excellent," Snape said, before flicking his wand in the direction of the board.
Almost instantly, small, curly writing began to appear on the black surface, an
d every student in the room took up their quills to begin copying down the notes

"Although we will be brewing a wide range of potions this year," Snape began to
lecture as line after line of writing continued to appear on the board, "you wil
l soon discover a common theme among many of the ones covered in the second year
Snape gestured towards the heading at the top of the board before continuing. "H
ealing Potions," he said.
Harry's interest was suddenly piqued despite himself. This could definitely be s
omething useful for once. Lord knows how much easier his life would have been if
he had had a stockpile of healing potions back at the Dursleys'.
Harry's stomach dropped a little then as he thought about his relatives, and he
was reminded that he no longer had a home there, or anywhere else except for Hog
warts. He quickly shook that thought away and forced himself to focus back on Sn
"Keep in mind that the healing potions that you will be brewing this year will b
e basic and rudimentary in nature; nothing close to as powerful or effective as
the ones you might receive from Madame Pomfrey or another healer. Such advanced
potions will not be covered until the sixth year, should you decide to continue
with N.E.W.T. level Potions."
Next to Harry, Hermione was scribbling frantically as she hung onto every word t
he professor said.
"Now, many of the advantages associated with the more basic healing potions are
made evident in the preparation of them. These potions require fewer ingredients
, take significantly less time to brew, and are less likely to explode should yo
u make an idiotic mistake in the brewing process," Snape paused here to give sev
eral students a meaningful glare.
"They are essentially "first-aid" potions, to be made up quickly and administere
d in an emergency, when no other healing potions are available."
Harry finished copying out the last few lines of notes, squinting his eyes so th
at he could read the tiny writing on the board.
"If there are no questions so far, then finish copying down the notes and open y
our textbooks to page 27. Make sure to read through all of the instructions and
background information before setting up your stations. You have until the end o
f class to complete the potion and provide a sample on my desk for marking."
It took a moment or two, but soon after the professor finished speaking, there w
as movement in the classroom as books were opened and pages were turned. Hermion
e flipped through her book and stopped on page 27. Then she pushed the book over
so that Harry could see it, too, and they began to read silently.
This particular potion was meant for healing minor scrapes and cuts. Harry scann
ed the list of ingredients, and then read through the setup process. So immersed
was he in his reading, that he didn't even notice when Professor Snape came up
behind him several minutes later.
"Potter!" the man said menacingly, startling Harry and making him jump.
Both Harry and Hermione looked up at the professor, then, and the man gave a nod
towards the book lying between them.

"What are you doing?" the question was clearly directed at Harry.
"Reading, sir," Harry answered quietly, his heart suddenly beating harder agains
t his chest.
"And are you reading from your own textbook, or from Miss Granger's?"
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but Snape quickly silenced her with
a glare.
"Well, Mr. Potter?" Snape asked when Harry failed to answer. "Is that your textb
"No," Harry finally spoke.
"I see," the man continued softly. "And where exactly is your textbook, Mr. Pott
Harry ducked his head as he mumbled an answer.
"Look at me when I'm speaking to you, Mr. Potter, and answer me clearly."
Harry looked up and forced himself to meet Snape's dark gaze, just as he had in
the man's office two nights ago. And in that moment, Harry couldn't help but to
think about how cold Snape's eyes looked just then, when they were regarding Har
ry with pure loathing and malice. They looked nothing at all like the eyes of th
e young boy in the picture with Lily Evans, and Harry found himself wondering at
the pain and suffering the man must have been through, for his eyes to have cha
nged so much.
"Mr. Potter?" Snape snarled impatiently, snapping the boy out of his trance.
"I don't have one yet," Harry spoke up at last. "I had to send for it by owl."
Snape's eyes flashed, and his mouth twisted into a grimace. "Do you know why Hog
warts sends out textbook lists in the summertime, Mr. Potter?"
Harry felt his face growing hot. It wasn't his fault that Dobby had blocked his
mail. Not that his relatives would have taken him to get his school supplies any
But of course, he couldn't tell the professor that. And so he just stayed silent
, waiting for Snape to speak again.
"It is so that all students have ample time to prepare for school, Mr. Potter,"
Snape said in a voice that was almost a whisper. "But it would seem that you did
n't feel it was necessary to do so. You couldn't be bothered to interrupt your u
ndoubtedly perfect summer holiday for even one afternoon to go purchase your tex
"But I didn't" Harry tried to interject, but Snape was quick to cut him off.
"Silence. I think it is quite clear that you did not deem it important enough to
show up to my class prepared today. That will be twenty points from Gryffindor
and a zero for today's assignment. You will also serve a detention with me direc
tly after dinner tonight."
There was nothing more that Harry could do then. He simply sat there numbly as S
nape returned to the front of the room. Several of the Slytherins could be heard
stifling their laughter, Malfoy being among the loudest. But Snape did not repr

imand them.
"I do not believe it is necessary for you to remain here any longer, Mr. Potter.
You needn't return to class until you have all the required materials."
Harry stood up, refusing to look at anybody, and threw his bag over his shoulder
"Harry," Hermione said quietly, so that only he could hear.
But Harry just shook his head and turned away, heading for the door without look
ing back.

* * *

Harry hurried along the dungeon corridor and up into the entrance hall. Somewher
e in the back of his mind, a voice was reminding him that he now had two detenti
ons to serve that night, but he really didn't want to think about that just now.
He felt sick, and there was an odd sensation of emotion coursing through him as
he made his way back towards the Gryffindor common room. If he had to describe w
hat it was, he supposed he would call it disappointment.
Overwhelming disappointment.
And that was strange, really. Because normally, Harry would be angry with Snape.
He would feel an overpowering sense of fury at the injustice of all that had ju
st happened in the potions classroom a few moments ago.
But he didn't feel that way at all. All he felt was disappointed.
And he had no idea why that was.

* * *

A/N: Poor Harry. Hopefully things will start looking up for him soon :) Thanks f
or reading!

A/N: Please enjoy Chapter 9! And to everyone who has left a review for this stor
y so far: Thank You. Reviews never fail to make me smile :)

* * *

Harry was nearly to Gryffindor tower when he suddenly decided to change

nd head away from the common room. He wandered down a long corridor and
d several flights of stairs, not really giving much thought to where he
g. All he knew was that he wanted to be far away from the dungeons, and
from Snape.

course a
was goin
far away

Harry sighed as he finally paused to lean back against the wall of an empty pass
ageway and attempt to collect his thoughts.
It was only the second day of school. And already, he had earned himself two det
entions, lost forty points from Gryffindor, and been kicked out of class after r
eceiving a zero for not having his textbook. The Weasley twins couldn't have man
aged to get themselves into so much trouble.
Harry sighed again as he studied the cracks in the wall across from him. He need
ed to focus, now. There was nothing he could do about his textbooks at this poin
t. He would just have to wait for them to come. Hopefully, he would be able to s
tay out of Snape's way until then, and avoid any additional detentions.
And then there was Malfoy. Who knew what he was planning? The boy was clearly ou
t for revenge, and Harry was going to have to keep a close eye on him if he want
ed to steer clear of any more trouble.
It wasn't going to be easy.
Harry frowned and looked down the corridor, only just now realizing what part of
the castle he had ended up in. The library was located at the end of this hallw
And suddenly, Harry knew how he was going to be spending his unexpected free per

* * *

Twenty minutes later, Harry found himself seated at a small table in a secluded
corner of the library, with a small stack of books sitting in front of him. Some
where within the pages of one of these volumes, Harry hoped to find the solution
to his problem.
With a deep breath, he pulled the first book towards him, and opened it up to th
e Table of Contents.
"Harry Potter?"
Harry jerked his head up, startled. He hadn't expected anyone to bother him all
the way back in this part of the library.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't mean towell, what I mean to say is...Wow, you're interested
in photography, too?" the newcomer's eyes fell on the stack of books in front of
Harry raised his eyebrows at the young boy standing in front of him, wearing a l

arge camera around his neck.

"I'm sorry. Have we met?"
"Oh. No, I'm Colin Creevey! I'm a First Year. And in Gryffindor. Just like you.
I know who you are, of course. You're famous! My friends told me all about you.
Hey, do you think I could get a picture with you to send home to my Dad? And the
n could you sign it? Oh, that would be so cool!"
Harry listened to Colin ramble on, silently trying to figure out a way to get ou
t of this situation. "Oh, um..." was all he could manage to say when the boy sto
pped talking to look at him expectantly for an answer.
"Just one quick picture? Please?"
Harry looked down at the books stacked in front of him, and was suddenly struck
by a stroke of inspiration.
"Are you busy right now, Colin?"
"Oh, no. Our flying lesson ended really early today after someone fell off their
broom and hurt their ankle. Madam Hooch had to take him to the hospital wing, a
nd dismissed the rest of the class."
Harry smiled to himself. After what happened last year during his own first flyi
ng lesson, he thought he knew why Madam Hooch wouldn't want to leave a large gro
up of first year students outside, alone, with a bunch of broomsticks.
"Okay. Do you think you could help me, then? You do like photography, right? And
I promise you can have your picture when we're done."
Colin beamed and immediately plopped down in the chair next to Harry.
"You want me to help? Really?"
Harry nodded. "Only if you want to, of course. It's just that another set of eye
s might be useful and"
"I'll do it!" Colin interrupted happily. "What do you need?"
"I'm doing a bit of research on repairing photographs. Apparently, it's pretty t
"Is this for class?" Colin asked, already pulling a book closer to himself.
"No. It's a personal project."
"Oh," Colin said simply, opening his book. "It must be a pretty important pictur
e for you to go to all this trouble."
"Pictures," Harry replied, as he returned his gaze to his own book. "There's mor
e than one. They got torn to shreds by a dog."
"Oh," was all Colin said in reply. Thankfully, he didn't ask any more questions.
It was quiet for a while then, as the two boys flipped through pages, and scanne
d over paragraphs and paragraphs of wordy and confusing text. The first two book
s Harry skimmed through were far more concerned with the history and importance
of wizarding photography, rather than the recovery of ruined pictures, and he ev
entually pushed them off to the side, stifling a yawn as he reached for another

large volume.
Next to him, Colin read silently, completely focused on his task. He didn't seem
bothered by the tedious work at all. In fact, Harry thought that the boy rather
seemed to be enjoying himself.

* * *

"Have you found anything?" Harry asked, after nearly an hour of researching.
"No," Colin said, looking up. "But there's this really cool section on developin
g magical photographs," the boy pointed to the page he had been reading.
Harry sighed and closed his own book. "I haven't had any luck either. I found so
mething on the restoration process in old portraits, but it wasn't anything I co
uld use."
"Well, don't worry, Harry," Colin said, standing up. "We'll find something. I ha
ve to get to class, now. But I'll make sure to do some more research later."
"You don't have to, Colin," Harry said, checking his watch. He had Charms in ten
"Oh, but I want to! I'm going to earn that signed photograph!"
Harry suppressed a groan as he stood up and grabbed his bag. He should have just
said no to the picture. He should have expressed his discomfort with the idea,
and simply refused.
But he hadn't. He'd promised the first year a signed photo.
And Colin was not likely to forget.

* * *

It wasn't until after Charms class that Harry had much of a chance to speak with
Ron and Hermione. He had purposely planned it that way by only slipping into th
e classroom just as Professor Flitwick began speaking. It was easy then to ignor
e his friends' worried and sympathetic looks. He kept his eyes determinedly fixe
d on the front of the room, and did his very best to pay attention to the lesson
Of course, as soon as class was dismissed, and the second years made a mad dash
for the door, hungry for dinner, Ron and Hermione fell into step on either side
of Harry and immediately began talking.
"Oh, Harry, are you alright?"
"I can't believe what he did to you! You should go to Dumbledore, mate. You real
ly should."
"It was just awful. You didn't do anything wrong."

"No one blames you for losing those points for Gryffindor, either. They all knew
how unfair it was."
"Thanks guys," Harry said quickly, before either of them could say anymore. "I'm
fine, and I appreciate the support. But can we please not talk about this anymo
Thankfully, Ron and Hermione fell silent for a few moments, then, as they contin
ued down the corridor.
"You two should go ahead to dinner," Harry said, when they were nearly to the en
trance hall. "I'm not really that hungry."
"You need to eat, Harry," Hermione immediately protested.
Ron glared at her. "Leave him alone, Hermione. He's got a detention in just a li
ttle bit."
"Two detentions, and he hasn't been eating!" Hermione argued. "Harry, you need"
"I'm fine, Hermione. I'm just going to go sit in the library for a while before
heading down to the dungeons."
"The library?" Ron and Hermione said together.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, the library. I'll see you both later."
And with that, Harry turned and headed off alone, in the direction of the librar
"I usually have to drag the two of you to the library," Hermione said, shaking h
er head.
"Well, there's only one conclusion I can make," Ron put in, as he continued on h
is way to dinner. "The poor bloke's finally lost it."

* * *

Harry probably stood in front of the Potions classroom door for a full minute wi
thout moving. He had had another unsuccessful research session in the library, a
lthough he hadn't really expected himself to be all that productive with the tho
ught of having to see Snape again so soon looming over his head.
And now, here he was. Dinner was over, and it was time for his detention with th
e dungeon bat.
Silently reminding himself that he was a Gryffindor, and needed to stop acting l
ike a coward, Harry finally took a deep breath and raised his knuckles to knock
Only to have the door swing open before he was able to do so.
And there was Snape, standing over him in his dark, billowing robes, and staring
at him with those dark, cold eyes.
"Were you planning on coming in, or were you just going to stand in the corridor

all night?" Snape said by way of greeting, his voice full of contempt.
"Sorry, sir," Harry said quickly, stepping into the room.
The door closed loudly behind him, giving Harry the sudden, horrible feeling of
being trapped. His thoughts almost immediately went to the photograph in his poc
ket, then, and it somehow made it easier to turn and face Snape.
The man glared down his long nose at Harry, looking as though he were taking a m
oment to decide what he should do with him, although Harry really doubted that S
nape didn't already know.
"So, Mr. Potter," the professor began softly. "Do you remember why I assigned yo
u a detention today?"
Harry stared down at the floor, suddenly feeling like he was back at the Dursley
s', answering his uncle's questions.
"Yes, sir," he answered quietly.
"And what is that reason?"
Harry swallowed before answering. "I-I wasn't prepared for class, sir."
"And do you believe that you will be prepared for my next class, Mr. Potter?"
"I hope so, sir."
"You hope so." Snape repeated, the question absent from his voice.
"It's just that I had to owl-order my textbooks, sir. I'm not exactly sure when
they're going to be here. But I"
Snape held up a hand to silence Harry. "I am not interested in your excuses, Mr.
Potter. If you are not able to attend my class prepared, then do not bother sho
wing up. You can simply report back here for another detention each evening that
you miss class until you are able to join your peers in the classroom with all
the required materials."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, knowing that there would be no point in arguing. He
continued to study the floor then, as he waited for Snape to continue.
"You will be scrubbing cauldrons this evening, Potter," the man said at last.
Harry raised his gaze to look to the far side of the room, where Snape was gestu
ring to. There, sitting lined up along the counter and next to a large sink, wer
e several big cauldrons, all in desperate need of a cleaning.
"You will work until I am satisfied with your efforts," Snape continued to speak
. "Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir. But I-uh"
"But what?" Snape spat out dangerously.
"I have another detention with Professor McGonagall at seven, sir."
Snape's glare only seemed to become more deadly. "Then I suggest you work extra
hard to ensure you are there on time, Mr. Potter."

"Yes, sir."
"Now take off your robes and roll up your sleeves. You have a lot of work to do.
Although uncomfortable with the situation, Harry didn't dare defy Snape. So afte
r putting his bag down, he shrugged out of his robes, carefully draping them ove
r a desk, and rolled up the sleeves of his overly large shirt. The bruises had m
ostly faded away from his arms thanks to the bruise balm, but Harry still felt s
elf-conscious about them. And within seconds, he was hurrying over to the sink t
o avoid Snape's penetrating gaze.
Harry turned the hot water on and reached for the soap. This was just like washi
ng dishes for the Dursleys, he thought. Easy. All he had to do was scrub for a l
ittle while, and then he could move on to McGonagall's detention. Maybe the nigh
t wouldn't be too terrible, after all.
He filled the first cauldron with hot, soapy water and allowed it to sit for a m
inute before taking up the scrubbing brush. As he worked, Harry tried to imagine
Malfoy scrubbing a cauldron like this. His detention had been last night, after
all. Had Snape assigned the Slytherin to the same task?
Somehow, Harry found the image of Draco Malfoy standing at the sink with a scrub
bing brush in hand highly amusing, and he smiled despite himself. He doubted tha
t the snobby, stuck-up boy had ever worked a day in his life, and so he rather l
iked the idea of the Slytherin having to do some scrubbing in detention.
Harry finished with the first cauldron after a few minutes, and carefully rinsed
it out, making sure no soap was left behind. Then he reached for another cauldr
on, and started the process over. The faster he worked, the faster he would get
to leave, he reminded himself. He looked down the counter, then.
Hopefully, Snape wouldn't make him do them all.

* * *

"That is enough for tonight, I think, Mr. Potter," Snape said at last from behin
d Harry, as he scanned over the boy's progress. "You may continue Thursday eveni
ng if you have not yet acquired your class materials."
"Yes, sir," Harry said glumly, putting down the scrubbing brush and shaking out
his sore arm. He had finished cleaning half a dozen cauldrons, most of which had
contained horribly stubborn stains that had taken forever to get out. The resul
t, of course, was that Harry had been unable to progress nearly as fast as he ha
d wanted to, and he had begun to worry that Snape would not allow him to leave b
efore seven o'clock with so few cauldrons finished.
Harry dried his hands and took a look at the clock on the wall. He had just a fe
w minutes to get to Professor McGonagall's office. Turning his gaze then, Harry
saw that Snape was already standing at the classroom door, waiting impatiently f
or him to leave.
He crossed the room then, relieved that the detention hadn't been nearly as bad
as he had expected, and grabbed up his robes to pull them back on.
But unfortunately, something fluttered out of one of the pockets just as he was

putting an arm through one of the sleeves, and drifted down to the floor.
Heart pounding, Harry immediately bent down to grab at the picture.
But he was too late.
Long, pale fingers were suddenly there, snatching up the old photograph before H
arry even had a chance to grasp at it.
The room was deathly quiet, then.
And all Harry could do was to stare at his empty hand, still reaching for the fl
oor, in complete and utter horror.

* * *

A/N: Sorry about the cliffhanger, guys. But it was just too perfect. Let me know
what you think!

A/N: I apologize for the wait after last chapter's cliffie. The general consensu
s in your reviews seemed to be that it was a pretty evil thing to do :) I hope y
ou can all forgive me now. Enjoy Chapter 10!

* * *

Harry was frozen in place as the silence dragged on and on in the dungeon classr
oom. He didn't look at Snape. He couldn't. He was too afraid of what he would se
e in the man's face if he did.
And then he saw the dark sweeping robes move past him out of the corner of his e
ye, and a second later, the classroom door, which Snape had only just thrown ope
n at the conclusion of Harry's detention, slammed shut again, causing Harry to w
It was another several long seconds then before the potions master finally spoke
"Sit. Down."
The tone of his voice was indiscernible, but Harry didn't dare disobey. He dropp
ed down onto the nearest stool, and gripped the edge of the table in front of hi
m as tightly as he could, since he no longer had his picture to hold onto. He ke
pt his eyes cast firmly downwards then, even as he could see Snape moving about

in his peripheral vision.

More seconds ticked away.
And still, Snape didn't speak. It was not like the man at all, Harry couldn't he
lp but think. The professor was never lost for words.
But at long last, the potions master came to stand directly in front of his leas
t favorite student, the table that Harry was still clinging to the only thing se
parating them.
"Where did you get this?" the man finally asked, holding the picture out towards
Snape's voice sounded odd. It was not soft and silky like it normally was. It wa
s a strange tone that Harry had never heard from the professor before. All he kn
ew for sure was that his professor was demanding an answer from him, and Snape w
as not known for being patient with his students.
"Fro-from my aunt and uncle's house, sir," Harry said, swallowing hard as he con
tinued to look down at the table. "I found it there. This summer."
"You will learn to look at me when I am speaking to you, Mr. Potter," Snape grow
led, slamming a hand down on the table's surface.
Harry flinched and looked up, his own eyes filled with fear as he met those of t
he professor's.
Snape straightened then, removing his hand from the table, and gave Harry one of
his most fearsome glares. "How many people have you shown this to?" he waved th
e picture for emphasis.
Harry just shook his head, feeling sick.
"Answer me, Potter!"
"No one, sir," Harry's answer was nearly inaudible.
"No one? No one? Then why are you carrying it around with you?"
It was getting harder for Harry to talk around the lump forming in his throat. "
I-I, it's my mother, sir."
Snape just stared at Harry, something strange and unfamiliar flashing across his
dark eyes for just a moment, hardly enough time for Harry to attempt to figure
out what it was.
"You knew her," Harry suddenly blurted out then, before he even knew what he was
Snape was silent for a few more seconds as he glanced down at the picture in his
hand. Then, he turned his gaze back on the young boy before him.
"You will not speak of this to anyone, Potter. Do you understand? Not a single s
Harry's brow furrowed in confusion, and that feeling of disappointment began to
course through him once more. Why was Snape so worried about someone else findin
g out? Was he embarrassed by his mother? Did he wish now that they had never bee
n friends?

"Do. You. Understand?" Snape gritted out.

Harry just nodded mutely, blinking back the tears in his eyes that had suddenly
appeared out of nowhere.
"Then go," Snape said, nodding towards the door.
Harry stood up, his entire body feeling numb, and bent to pick up his school bag
. But rather than turn away then, Harry stood rooted to the spot, staring at Sna
"I believe I just dismissed you, Mr. Potter," the man snarled. "Professor McGona
gall will be expecting you."
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times before he was finally able to sp
"But, sir. My picture"
"Will no doubt end up being passed around the entire school if left in your poss
"You can't just take it," Harry said, shaking his head.
"I believe I just have," Snape replied dismissively, taking the opportunity to s
hove the photograph into a pocket of his own robes.
The tears were getting harder to hold back, and Harry had to look away from the
potion master's stone cold expression.
"But it's all I have left of her," he nearly whispered.
Amazingly then, Snape's next words, though far from sympathetic, seemed to be sp
oken with a bit of hesitancy.
"I do not have time to argue with you, Mr. Potter. You are already late for your
next detention. I suggest that you go. Now."
That last word was said with such an air of finality that Harry didn't dare ling
er any longer. He turned away from Snape and walked towards the exit.
When he was gone, Snape let out a sound that was somewhere between a sigh and a
groan, as he pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.
The boy knew. He knew. He was never supposed to find out.
Snape stared at the stool where Potter had been sitting only a minute before.
And all he could think was that this was one of those rare moments in his life w
hen he had no idea what to do.

* * *

Harry wasn't quite sure how he managed to find his way to Professor McGonagall's
office. His body felt completely numb, and his vision was blurred by tears as h

e made his way up through the castle and somehow managed to turn down the right
And within minutes of leaving the potions classroom, he was standing directly ou
tside the office door of his head of house.
He took a moment to compose himself then, taking a deep breath and wiping at the
tears in his eyes. He knew he couldn't take too long though. He was already lat
Finally deciding that he just needed to get this over with, Harry rapped his knu
ckles against the wood of the door and waited for a response.
"The door is open," McGonagall's stern voice came from within, and Harry quickly
turned the knob and slipped inside.
McGonagall was sitting at her desk, quill in hand, and seemed to be concentratin
g on reading a piece of parchment set before her.
"I'm sorry I'm late," Harry said in a rush, before his professor could start rep
rimanding him.
McGonagall abandoned the parchment at the strange tone in Harry's voice, and loo
ked up, immediately noting the redness in the young boy's eyes and the wetness o
n his cheeks.
"Mr. Potter, what is wrong?" the woman asked, her voice filled with concern.
Harry ducked his head to hide his face from view. "Nothing, ma'am. I'm here for
my detention."
Silence followed Harry's words for the next few moments as his head of house too
k in his appearance. But at long last, she spoke again.
"Come sit down, Harry."
Harry raised his eyes just enough to see that his teacher was motioning to a com
fy-looking armchair in front of her desk. Dragging his feet a bit then, he slowl
y made his way over and perched himself on the very edge of the seat.
Professor McGonagall sighed. "It would seem that you have had a very eventful st
art of term, Mr. Potter. Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger informed me just a short t
ime ago that you were serving a detention with Professor Snape today, as well?"
"Yes, ma'am," Harry answered, choosing to stare at his teacher's desk rather tha
n Professor McGonagall herself.
"For not having the textbook?"
Harry frowned and looked down at his hands. His friends really needed to learn t
o mind their own business.
"Yes, ma'am," he said again.
"Would you mind telling me why you didn't have your book with you? I noticed tha
t you were sharing a textbook with Miss Granger in my own class, as well."
Harry shrugged, still not looking up. "I just wasn't able to get them this summe
r. I did order them, though! They'll be here, soon."

It was McGonagall's turn to frown. "Did you not inform your relatives that you n
eeded to go purchase school supplies?"
Harry did his best not to squirm uncomfortably in his chair. "They were just rea
lly busy this summer."
McGonagall's frown deepened before she asked her next question. "What happened i
n detention, Harry?"
"You are visibly upset, Mr. Potter."
Harry still refused to talk, and so the professor soon spoke again.
"Alright, then. Why don't we discuss the reason for this detention? Why did you
get into a fight with Mr. Malfoy on the train?"
Harry rubbed a hand over the back of his neck as he felt a headache coming on.
"Harry?" McGonagall prompted.
Harry sighed and gave his answer in a mumble. "He just...said some stuff. I lost
my temper."
"I see. Well, I must say that I am surprised at you, Harry. I expect better from
my lions, and this behavior just isn't like you."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," Harry whispered.
And his voice sounded so lost and forlorn in that moment, that Minerva McGonagal
l decided right then that she was done scolding the boy over this incident. Some
thing must have happened down in the dungeons to upset the child so.
"Millie," the professor suddenly called out.
A moment later, Harry nearly jumped a foot in the air when a loud popping sound
filled the room.
Looking up, Harry was horrified to see a house elf standing next to Professor Mc
Gonagall's chair. The only other house elf he had ever met had gotten him into a
world of trouble with his uncle, and so he shrank back into his chair as McGona
gall whispered some quick instructions to the elf, the memories of this summer f
looding back to him all at once.
A moment later, Millie the house elf was once again gone with another loud pop,
only to return in mere seconds with a tea tray and what appeared to be a plate o
f biscuits.
Professor McGonagall
ncerned than she had
ike this before. She
as she began making

saw the fear in Harry's eyes, and was suddenly even more co
been just a few moments ago. She had never seen Harry act l
immediately pushed the biscuits towards the young boy then,
plans in her head.

"Help yourself, Harry," she said kindly. "Would you like some tea, as well?"
Harry's eyes widened in surprise. He was fairly certain that he was supposed to
be serving a detention right now. And Professor McGonagall was one of the strict
est teachers at Hogwarts.

So why would she be serving him tea and biscuits? He was clearly missing somethi
McGonagall continued to eye him with that strange look in her eyes for the next
several seconds, and so Harry finally leaned forward to select a biscuit off the
"Now, as soon as we are done here, I want you to go straight off to bed," McGona
gall said sternly, as she poured out two cups of tea. "It'll be an early night f
or you, Mr. Potter, and hopefully you will wake up fully refreshed tomorrow."
Harry was almost positive that the confusion must be showing on his face. What w
as going on?
But rather than question his head of house, he simply muttered a quick "Yes, ma'
am", as he accepted his cup of tea.

* * *

"Severus Snape!" McGonagall thundered as she burst into the man's office later t
hat night.
Snape looked up from his desk, where he had been glaring at some paperwork and a
stack of fifth year summer homework assignments. He hadn't been able to get any
thing done since the Gryffindor Golden Boy's detention, and he had been about to
turn in for the night.
"Good evening, Minerva," Snape replied tiredly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"What did you do to him, Severus?" McGonagall demanded as she stalked over to th
e man's desk. "What did you do?"
"To whom are you referring?" Snape asked with a frown.
"Well, Harry, of course! Do you have any idea the state he was in when he arrive
d at my office a while ago?"
Snape sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes. "I can hardly be held responsible
if the little brat gets upset over having to wash a few cauldrons, Minerva. He's
probably never had to work a day in his life and"
"That is not like Harry, and you know it, Severus. I'm worried about him."
"Then keep an eye on him, if you must. I am sure whatever it is that is botherin
g him will blow over soon enough."
McGonagall's eyes narrowed. "If you said anything"
"Like what?"
"Like insulting his father in front of him. Like ridiculing him mercilessly for
his shortcomings. I mean it, Severus. If you did anything to that boy to make hi
m this upset, then I expect you to make it right."
The "or else" was left hanging in the air, but there was no doubt that it was th

Snape's lips curled into an unpleasant snarl. "Of course, Minerva," he replied t
ightly. "Although I assure you that whatever is upsetting the child is none of m
y doing."
"I hope not," McGonagall replied severely. There was a short pause then, before
she spoke again.
"And for future reference, Severus, I would appreciate it if you would inform me
ahead of time when my students are assigned a detention."
"Of course, Minerva," Snape replied, as McGonagall turned and headed for the exi
She stopped at the door, however, and turned back.
"He really is like Lily, Severus," her voice was instantly quiet. "I just wish y
ou would allow yourself to see it."
Snape had no time to be surprised at the woman's words before she was gone. And
in the next second, he was alone once more.
He sat there in the silence of the dungeons then, once again running through the
events of the day in his head.
And all the while, he couldn't help but to feel the heavy weight in the pocket o
f his robes.
A weight that was nothing more than an old photograph that had been taken a life
time ago.

* * *

A/N: I promise that Snape's behavior will be improving very soon. It's just that
with a man like Severus, these things tend to take some time :)
Thanks for reading!

A Thousand Words
A/N: Thank you all so much for the support and encouragement that you've shown t
his story. I appreciate all of the follows and favorites, and especially love re
ading all of your wonderful reviews. Enjoy Chapter 11!

* * *

Wednesday evening found both Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape sitting side b
y side in the headmaster's office, across from the wizened old man himself. The
former wore a look of pure determination and resolve on her face. She had her mi
nd firmly set on getting some answers.
But the latter's features were twisted into a sour expression that suggested he
would much rather be just about anywhere else in the world right about then. He
had no desire to be a part of this at all.
"I'm worried about Harry," McGonagall stated without preamble, before Albus even
had the chance to offer either of his guests a lemon drop.
Dumbledore frowned as he touched the tips of his fingers together and nodded tow
ards his deputy headmistress. "Go on, Minnie," he said almost gravely.
Severus had to refrain from rolling his eyes then as Minerva launched into her t
ale about the Golden Hero. She was going way too far with this, in his opinion.
The spoiled, pampered, little brat was just throwing a fit. He would get over it
soon enough.
But you took away the picture of his mother, a small voice whispered in the back
of his mind. A voice that Severus instantly silenced as he attempted to focus b
ack on what Minerva was saying.
"I've never seen the child so distraught, Albus," McGonagall said. "And then tod
ay in class. He was so withdrawn. Something is not right with him."
"If I may interject here," Snape spoke up as soon as there was a pause in McGona
gall's speech, "I see no reason for my presence here tonight. This is, after all
, a Gryffindor issue. And as I am the head of Slytherin"
Minerva rounded on the
a detention, Severus.
y upset, or if you are
e, but either way, you
ou to be here."

potions master. "No reason? No reason? You assigned Harry

Now, I don't know if Harry arrived in the dungeons alread
responsible for the state in which he arrived at my offic
are involved in this now. And there is every reason for y

Albus turned his gaze on Severus, and Snape immediately strengthened his occlume
ncy shields. The old man didn't need to know about the picture he had taken from
the boy. No doubt the headmaster would attempt to persuade him to give it back.
"What was the detention for, Severus?" Albus asked, in his usual kind tone, as h
e peered at his potions master over his half-moon spectacles.
"The boy was not prepared for class," Snape replied, doing his best not to sneer
too much. "So I had him scrub a few cauldrons and sent him on his way. He was f
ine. And no more upset than any other child who ever served a detention. "
"He didn't have his textbook," McGonagall intervened. "He said that his relative
s were too busy to take him to get his school supplies. Now if I've told you onc
e, I've told you a thousand times, Albus, that those Dursleys are the worst sort
of muggles"
"They were too busy?" Snape scoffed. "Now there is a famous Potter excuse if eve
r I've heard one. I think it far more likely that the boy simply neglected to me
ntion it."
Albus spoke up before Minerva could speak again. "There are any number of reason
s why the Dursleys may not have taken Harry to get his school supplies. Did Harr

y have any more to say on the subject, Minnie?"

McGonagall shook her head. "No."
Dumbledore tilted his head back in thought.
"Keep an eye on him." the headmaster finally spoke, making a point of including
Severus in his penetrating gaze. "Both of you."
"You mean even more than usual? Headmaster, I really don't see how this concerns
me," Snape protested, ignoring McGonagall's glare.
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "We are all responsible for every student that a
ttends this school, Severus. Just keep an eye on him. In all likelihood, whateve
r is upsetting Harry is nothing too serious."
"And what of the Dursleys?" McGonagall demanded. "Will you be contacting them at
all regarding Harry's school supplies?"
"Perhaps. But I am sure that this is all just a big misunderstanding."
"I hope you are right, Albus," Minerva sounded doubtful.
"Was there anything else, headmaster?" Snape asked, before Minerva could start i
n on another rant. "I have quite a few papers to grade this evening."
"Of course, Severus. Just one more thing on an unrelated topic. I thought I woul
d just mention it to you."
"Yes?" McGonagall prompted.
"It would seem that the ministry feels it is high time that the wards at Hogwart
s are updated and strengthened."
"Is it possible to do so with a castle full of students?" McGonagall inquired.
"Indeed, not."
Minerva rolled her eyes. "This castle was empty all summer. Why didn't the minis
try make this proposal then?"
"Because that would make far too much sense," Severus drawled.
"Indeed," Dumbledore nodded, his eyes twinkling. "I am afraid that our minds see
m to work a bit differently from those of our government officials and politicia
ns, my dear Minerva. They are suggesting we strengthen the wards over the Christ
mas holiday."
"But some of our students stay for Christmas," McGonagall argued. "The ministry
knows that!"
"Don't worry, Minerva. I will be meeting with Fudge on the matter very soon," Du
mbledore said in answer. "It shouldn't be too difficult to convince him that our
current wards will suffice for the duration of the school year."
"Let us hope so," Snape intoned, standing up as he prepared to take his leave. N
o doubt Minerva would want to stay for a while longer to continue discussing the
Potter brat, but he had better things to do. "I am afraid I must return to my q
uarters, now, headmaster. Good evening."

And with a nod towards both Albus and Minerva, the potions master swept out of t
he room.

* * *

On Thursday morning, Harry didn't know whether to be distressed or relieved when

his textbooks had still not arrived in the mail. He watched the last of the owl
s disperse and soar out of the Great Hall, their letters and packages having all
been delivered, and thought about what this meant for him now.
On one hand, he wouldn't have to show up to Potions class that day.
But on the other, it meant another evening in the dungeons, alone with the bat,
in detention.
He groaned and put his head down on the table.
"Don't worry, Harry. The books will be here soon," Hermione spoke up. "Surely by
next week."
"Are you sick, mate?" Ron asked then, eyeing Harry's untouched plate of food in
Harry didn't respond, but just closed his eyes and tried not to think too much a
bout the day, and evening, ahead.
Ron and Hermione exchanged worried looks.
"Maybe he should go see Madam Pomfrey," Hermione whispered.
"Do you think we have enough time to walk him there before class?" Ron asked, in
the same lowered tone.
"He can hear you," Harry murmured into the table. "And he doesn't need to see Ma
dam Pomfrey."
"But Harry, if you're not feeling well"
"I'm fine, Hermione," Harry sighed, lifting his head and standing up from the ta
ble. "I think I'll just go to the library for a few minutes."
"What's in the library?" Ron asked curiously. "I've never seen you this interest
ed in books before."
Harry shrugged as he began walking away. "Some peace and quiet," he said over hi
s shoulder, though quietly enough that he couldn't be sure that his friends had
even heard him.
When he reached the entrance hall, Harry once again found himself reaching for t
he pocket of his robes where he had kept his photograph. He had been doing that
a lot over the last couple days. But of course it was no longer there. Snape had
seen to that.
A sudden burst of anger rose up in him then, and before Harry realized what he w
as doing, he was changing course and turning towards the passageway that led dow
n into the dungeons. He moved without thinking, marching down the stairs and thr

ough the dungeon passageways until he was standing directly in front of Severus
Snape's office door.
It was only then that he lost some of his steam.
What was he thinking? He couldn't just confront Snape!
But why not? Harry thought to himself. He stole my picture.
He raised his fist and knocked on the door then, before he had the chance to cha
nge his mind.
In the silence that followed, Harry couldn't help but to hope that there would b
e no response from inside the office. He tried to think about where the man was
likely to be at this time of day. He hadn't seen the professor at breakfast. Per
haps he was still in his quarters.
But then a voice rang out, seeming to echo loudly in Harry's ears.
And Harry's stomach dropped.
He only thought about running back down the passageway for a split second. Snape
would never even know that he had been there.
But then he thought about the emptiness in his pocket. It had really been all he
could think about since Snape had confiscated his picture.
And it was enough to make him push open the door and step inside the dark office
Almost immediately, Harry's eyes locked onto those of the potions master. And th
e man did not look pleased to see him.
"If you are here to beg for leniency regarding your detention, you are wasting y
our time, Mr. Potter," Snape spoke quickly, turning his gaze to a stack of paper
s on his desk. "If you are unable to attend my class today due to a lack of prep
aration, then I will once again expect you in the potions classroom this evening
after dinner."
"That's not why I'm here," Harry replied, in as firm a voice as he could manage.
And you know it, he added silently to himself.
"Ah, yes," the man said silkily, glancing up at Harry once more. "I would advise
you to save your breath, Mr. Potter, and run along to class. I will not be retu
rning your "item" to you."
Harry couldn't help but to glare at the man, even though he knew that it was pro
bably not the smartest thing to do. And then, before he knew it, he was asking t
he question that he just couldn't get out of his head.
"Why are you ashamed of her?"
Snape looked taken aback for a moment, and it was several seconds before he reco
vered enough to respond.
"Excuse me?"
He made those two words sound so dangerous, but Harry refused to back down.

"Why are you ashamed of her?" Harry repeated. "You were her friend, weren't you?
But you hate her now. Just like you hate my father."
"I said no such thing," Snape answered, standing up, almost looking offended at
the accusation.
"You didn't have to," Harry replied.
Snape looked furious. "You know nothing, Potter. Get out of my sight."
Harry knew that the conversation was over. He had already pushed too far. And so
without another word, he turned and fled the office, not bothering to close the
door behind him.
Snape closed the door himself with a brisk flick of his wand, before lowering hi
mself back into his seat.
"That arrogant little brat," he mumbled to himself, slashing through a first yea
r essay with some fresh red ink. "How dare he...?"
He had been far too easy on the boy, he decided after a few minutes. He should h
ave taken points, or given him a month's worth of detentions. Something. Because
nobody spoke to Severus Snape like that and got away with it.
He grumbled some more as he continued to work his way through student essays. He
hated to admit it, but what the child had said really bothered him.
And then a thought came to him.
It was an idea that Snape immediately tried to reject, but that his mind refused
to let go of.
"No, I won't do it," he said to himself. "I'd practically be rewarding the insol
ent little brat. Absolutely not."

* * *

Severus glanced over towards the sink on the far side of his classroom that even
ing, where the Savior of the Wizarding World had just finished washing his tenth
"That will do for tonight, Mr. Potter," he said at last.
The boy set the cauldron aside and quickly ran a towel across the counter and si
nk area.
Snape made sure to put a scowl on his face to disguise the internal struggle he
was currently experiencing as the boy prepared to leave. Part of him wanted to s
end the child away with nothing more than a couple snide remarks, and perhaps an
other few points taken away from Gryffindor house.
But for some reason he couldn't explain, a larger part of him knew that he neede
d to do something else.
And so he stopped the boy before he could reach the classroom door.

"Just a moment, Potter."

Harry turned, his eyes refusing to look up at his professor, and Snape took the
opportunity to shove the picture into the young boy's hand.
It wasn't the one that he had taken from the boy, of course. The last thing Seve
rus needed was for the children of Death Eaters to somehow get their hands on th
But it was a picture of a young Lily Evans. One of the many that Severus still h
ad in his possession.
To say that Harry was stunned would be an understatement. He glanced from the pi
cture up to his teacher with wide eyes and an open mouth.
Uncomfortable, Snape began to speak. "For reasons I cannot explain to you, Potte
r, I will not be returning your picture. However, I believe that this one will m
ake a suitable replacement."
He paused for a moment then, before continuing. "I am not nor have I ever been a
shamed of your mother. But again, I expect you to keep this information to yours
elf. Is that clear?"
All Harry could manage was a small nod.
"Then off to your dormitory, Mr. Potter. And we will say no more about it."
Harry nodded again and turned away to obey the professor.

* * *

Back in his dormitory with the curtains drawn around his four-poster bed, Harry'
s mind was whirling as he attempted to process what had just taken place.
Snape had just given him a picture of his mother.
As the shock began to wear off, a million questions were racing through his head
, and he wished that he had thought to ask them back in the potions classroom.
Where had Snape gotten the picture? Did he have more? How long had he been frien
ds with his mother? And why didn't he want anyone else to know about it?
He was fairly certain that Snape would never answer that last one. He had alread
y made it clear that he wasn't telling Harry.
Shaking these thoughts from his head, Harry decided to focus on his new picture
then, instead.
His mother appeared to be about the same age in this
e other one with Snape. She was sitting in the grass
rk. There was a swing set in the background, anyway.
he was laughing. And there was a little, white furry

photo as she had been in th

in what appeared to be a pa
Her eyes were bright, and s
dog sleeping in her lap.

"I didn't know she had a dog," Harry whispered quietly to himself. He sighed, an
d turned the picture over.
His brow furrowed in confusion then at the three small words written on the back
in small, careful handwriting.
"A Thousand Words"
Harry frowned as he flipped the picture back over a few seconds later.
A Thousand Words?
What was that all about?
Harry yawned and eventually settled back against his pillows.
But he knew that sleep would not come easily to him that night.
He had way too much to think about.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading everyone!


A/N: Another update :) Enjoy Chapter 12!

* * *

Harry stood under the showerhead as a steady stream of warm water slowly but sur
ely began to wake him from his trance-like stupor.
It was far too early to be up for a Saturday. And in fact, most of Gryffindor to
wer, including all of Harry's dorm mates, had not yet managed to roll out of bed
But unfortunately, no one seemed to have informed Oliver Wood of this informatio
Not that he would have cared in the slightest.
Harry had been startled awake at the crack of dawn by the enthusiastic quidditch
captain, who had immediately begun spouting some nonsense about booking the pit
ch, and getting an extra early start on practice this year.

I should have hexed him and gone back to sleep, Harry thought viciously, as his
eyes continued to droop closed. Oliver was absolutely insane. Not to mention tha
t Harry couldn't even remember the last time that he had had a decent night's sl
eep. He needed all the rest he could get.
Now, as he stood there in the shower, Harry stared down at his arms for a moment
, as his mind continued to work to gain some basic level of functionality. The b
ruises from Uncle Vernon were all but gone now. Only the faintest of traces rema
ined behind, for which Harry was extremely grateful. He just wished now that all
of his scars would disappear. He knew that there were still plenty of old ones
decorating his back. Ones that he had not been able to reach with a bruise balm.
Sighing, Harry turned the water off and stepped out of the shower.
It was time to go play some quidditch.

* * *

The cool morning breeze swept across the school lawn and felt completely refresh
ing to Harry, whose eyes had finally decided to open up to more than just halfwa
y. He was suddenly glad to be outside just then, with his broomstick on his shou
lder. He couldn't wait to get into the air.
"Harry! Harry!" a familiar voice called out from back near the castle entrance.
Turning, Harry caught sight of Colin Creevey, sprinting across the grounds in hi
s direction, while waving a piece of parchment in the air.
"Colin, what are you doing up so early?" Harry asked, surprised to see the first
year coming up next to him.
"I heard someone talking on the stairs about quidditch practice, and I knew you
were on the team, so I figured you'd be up too, and I've never seen anyone play
quidditch before. I don't even know the rules or anything. But I needed to see y
ou anyway, because I have to tell you something, so I thought I would try to cat
ch you before you had to practice, and then I could watch you practice and"
"What is it, Colin?" Harry finally interrupted. The boy's rambling was starting
to give him a headache.
"Right," Colin said, suddenly thrusting his piece of parchment forward. "I found
a few things that might help you with your photo project."
"Really?" Harry suddenly sounded excited as he took the parchment from the young
er boy's hands and glanced down at it.
Colin eagerly began to explain his findings as he hurried along next to Harry on
the way to the quidditch pitch.
"There was this really helpful section in one of the books from the library. It
had a few different spells that could work. I wrote them down for you, and added
the page numbers in case you wanted to read up on them. Really the most importa
nt part seems to be that all the photograph pieces need to be there for any of t
he spells to work and"

"Harry! What took you?"

They had arrived at the pitch, and Oliver was standing there now, looking expect
antly at Harry. The rest of the Gryffindor team stood behind him, looking exhaus
ted and half-asleep. Most of them appeared to be slumped over and leaning heavil
y on their brooms for support.
"Sorry," Harry answered, as he stuffed the piece of parchment into the pocket of
his robes, right next to the new picture of his mother. "I'm coming."
The team turned to head into the changing rooms, and Harry made to follow them.
Looking over his shoulder, he made eye contact with Colin.
"Thanks, Colin. I really appreciate it. We'll talk later, okay?"
Colin nodded enthusiastically. "I'm gonna go get a seat to watch the practice!"
Harry raised his eyebrows as he watched Colin rush off towards the stands. How d
id that kid manage to have so much energy this early in the morning?
Shaking his head, Harry let out a quick sigh before turning, and heading into th
e changing rooms.

* * *

One hour. One entire hour. That was how long it took for the Gryffindor team to
actually make it out onto the pitch.
"Does Oliver really think we understood half of those diagrams?" Alicia Spinnet
was saying to Katie Bell. "We just need to start flying already!"
Harry couldn't agree more, and immediately prepared to mount his broom.
"You're not done yet, Harry?"
Harry looked up to see Ron and Hermione standing at the edge of the pitch, each
carrying pieces of toast in their hands. He sighed and shook his head.
"We haven't even been in the air yet. Oliver was going over some new plays."
"Well, that's a nice way of putting it," Fred said, coming up next to Harry. "At
tempting to bore us to death seems to be a much more accurate description."
"Alright, let's go people!" Oliver called out. "Everyone mount up!"
But before any of them had the chance to kick up off the ground, Oliver looked o
ver towards the stands and frowned. "Who is that kid taking pictures?"
Harry followed Oliver's gaze and answered. "He's a first year Gryffindor, Oliver
. He's harmless."
"Are you sure?" Oliver asked, a hint of paranoia entering his voice. "Because if
the Slytherins are sending spies to watch our practice"
"Then they probably wouldn't feel the need to come themselves," George finished
his statement, pointing to the far edge of the pitch.

Oliver made a noise that almost sounded like a growl, before marching off to mee
t Marcus Flint, the Slytherin captain, and the rest of the Slytherin team.
"What's going on?" Hermione asked, coming up next to Harry, as an argument broke
out between Oliver and Marcus. Ron wasn't very far behind.
"I don't know. But Oliver booked the pitch today for Gryffindor," Harry answered
, as he hurried over to Oliver with the rest of his teammates.
"I don't care what Professor Snape says! We have the pitch first!" Oliver thunde
"Sorry, Wood," Marcus said with a shrug, using a tone of voice that suggested he
wasn't very sorry at all. "We have to train our new seeker."
It was only then that Harry noticed Malfoy standing there, off to the side, smir
king at the scene before him.
"You're the new seeker?" Harry blurted out in shock.
"That's right, Potter," Malfoy replied. "I'm sorry to say that you don't have a
chance this year. Especially since my father bought the entire team some new bro
All of the Slytherins held out their brooms then, so that the Gryffindors could
all get a good look at the brand new Nimbus Two Thousand and One models.
Ron's mouth fell open as he noticed the gleaming, new brooms.
Hermione, however, scoffed, completely unimpressed. "No one on the Gryffindor te
am had to buy their way in."
Malfoy's face instantly twisted into an ugly scowl, and he rounded on the bushyhaired girl.
"No one cares what you think, you filthy little mudblood!"
In the next second then, it seemed, chaos ensued. Ron had launched himself at Ma
lfoy, and Marcus Flint threw himself between them to protect his new seeker. The
twins and Oliver rushed forward to pull Ron away from the other boy, and in the
confusion, several of the players from both teams appeared to be grappling with
each other in an attempt to protect their own teammates.
"That's enough! Everyone cut it out!" Oliver shouted.
"Ron!" Harry, Hermione, and the twins called out, as the boy continued trying to
fight his way through the sea of people towards Malfoy.
"You heard what he said!" Ron yelled. "He's going to pay for it!"
"No. Practice is over!" Oliver called out.
Everyone froze where they were. To hear Oliver Wood call an early end to quiddit
ch practice was shocking, to say the least.
"If this continues," Oliver was able to lower his voice in the silence that foll
owed, "chances are that some people are going to get suspended from the team. An
d I can't have that,'s over."

Ron yanked himself free from George's grasp, and joined Harry and Hermione as th
e rest of the Gryffindor team slowly made their way back to the changing rooms.
"Good choice, Wood," Marcus taunted, as the rest of the Slytherins burst into la
"Oh, this isn't over Flint," Wood called over his shoulder. "I will be speaking
to my head of house about this today."
"Let's go," Harry said, nodding his head in the direction of the castle.
Ron and Hermione fell into step beside him.
"What does it mean? Mudblood?" Hermione asked, when the three of them were well
away from the pitch.
Ron grimaced at the word.
And suddenly, it clicked for Harry. Because Malfoy had used the term on both Her
mione and his mother.
"It's an insult for a muggleborn, isn't it?" he asked.
"And a foul one at that," Ron spat out. "It was the absolute worst thing he coul
d have said."
Harry looked over at Hermione. "Are you okay?"
"Of course," she said. "It's just a word."
But Harry thought that the girl was probably more bothered by it than she was cu
rrently letting on.
"How did you know what it meant?" Hermione asked curiously, looking over at Harr
Harry shrugged. "Just a guess. It's not the first time I've heard Malfoy use the
"He called someone else that name?" Ron asked incredulously.
Harry sighed. He didn't see any reason to hide that secret any longer. "Yeah. My
"What?" his friends said in shock.
But Harry didn't get the chance to respond. Because just then, Colin Creevey rus
hed up, chattering excitedly.
"Oh wow! That was amazing! I got loads of pictures. Are the practices always thi
s exciting?"
Ron and Hermione both gave Harry a questioning look, and Harry just shrugged.
There was not much they could do at that point then, other than to simply listen
to the first year chatter on and on, all the way back to the castle.

* * *

Harry was frustrated.

After dinner, he had once again found himself in the library, at the same seclud
ed table in the back where it was the quietest, and he wouldn't have to worry to
o much about being disturbed.
He had brought his bag of photo scraps with him. Along with Colin's notes. He ev
en had the correct textbook opened to the correct page which explained in thorou
gh detail the correct way to use the spell that Harry was trying out. It was the
last one on Colin's list.
And nothing was working. All of Harry's photographs remained in a shredded heap
on the table in front of him.
"It doesn't make any sense!" Harry said angrily, banging a fist on the table. Lu
ckily, Madam Pince was too far away to hear.
"No luck?"
Startled, Harry looked up at the sound of the voice.
"What are you doing here, Hermione?" he asked, tapping his wand against the tabl
e in thought.
"Making sure you know that it's almost curfew," the girl replied. "So this is wh
at you've been working on in here? Repairing your pictures?"
Harry nodded. "Nothing's working, though. Why isn't anything working?"
"Have you considered, you know, maybe asking for help?"
"I have. I asked you, and then Colin wanted to help"
"Have you asked an adult?"
Harry frowned. That wasn't something he had even considered doing. He was used t
o hiding things from adults, not asking them for help.
"No," he answered at last.
"There are many, many highly qualified witches and wizards in this castle, Harry
. I'm sure they'd be happy to give you some advice."
Harry frowned. Why did that idea suddenly make him feel so uncomfortable?
"I'll think about it," he finally answered.
Hermione nodded her approval. "We really should get going now, Harry. We need to
be back in Gryffindor tower in ten minutes, and Madam Pince has already started
kicking people out."
"You go on. I just need to put everything away."
Hermione hesitated, but then nodded. "Okay."
Harry watched her leave, and then slammed his textbook shut. Why did this have t
o be so difficult?

He folded up Colin's parchment and shoved it back into his pocket. His hand brus
hed against his new photograph, and he took it out for a moment to stare at it,
once again wondering about the three words written on the back.
It was strange, but as much as he loved this picture, Harry had to admit that he
missed the old one. He didn't know why that was. It certainly didn't make any k
ind of sense. After all, Snape was a part of that picture, and Harry didn't like
Just like Snape didn't like Harry.
Harry sighed and put the picture back in his pocket.

* * *

The corridors were dark and nearly empty by the time Harry was making his way ba
ck to Gryffindor Tower. Checking his watch, he saw that he only had two minutes
left before curfew. There was no way he was going to make it. He was going to be
a few minutes late.
Up ahead, a tall figure suddenly rounded the corner, and for a moment, Harry fea
red that it was Snape.
But then the man came closer, and Harry saw that it was not the potions master,
but Gilderoy Lockhart instead.
He suddenly wished it had been Snape.
"Harry, Harry, Harry!" the man called out when he saw the small second year in t
he corridor. "We're cutting it a bit close to curfew tonight, aren't we?" He bea
med down at the Gryffindor.
Harry made an attempt at a weak smile, but wasn't sure he was successful.
"I was actually hoping to run into you today, Harry. I just received word from F
lourish and Blotts."
Harry raised his eyebrows in confusion. "Sir?"
"Now, don't worry, I got it all sorted out. I managed to intercept your order ju
st in time. They were going to send your books out a couple days ago, but I told
them that you needed all the special editions of my textbooks, and that they ne
eded to be free of charge. Of course, most of the special editions were out of s
tock, so that delayed things a bit, but not to worry Harry! Your textbooks will
be here in the coming days!"
Harry could hardly believe his ears. Lockhart was the reason that his textbooks
hadn't come in yet? The reason he still had to share books with Hermione in clas
s, and borrow them from his friends to do his homework?
Because the man thought that he needed special editions?
Harry took a calming breath before making an attempt at speech.
"You shouldn't have, Professor. Really."

"Oh, nonsense! It was my pleasure! Now you better be off to your common room, Ha
rry. You wouldn't want to get yourself caught out of bed after hours."
Lockhart wagged his finger in an irritating way, and Harry turned away from the
man, seething.
But then there was another voice in the hallway. A voice unlike any that Harry h
ad ever heard before. It was cold and terrifying. And it was dripping with pure
"Come...let me rip you...Let me tear you...Let me kill you..."
A chill went down Harry's spine, and he whirled around again, his eyes settling
on Lockhart.
"What was that? Did you hear that?"
Lockhart frowned. "Hear what?"
"That voice! It said...You really didn't hear that?"
Lockhart's eyebrows rose. "I think you need some sleep, my boy."
Harry strained his ears, but the voice did not speak again. It was completely si
lent in the hallway.
"Yeah. Yeah, maybe I do need some sleep," he said quietly after a moment, turnin
g and hurrying off down the corridor without a backward glance.
Behind him, Lockhart simply smiled and shook his head, before continuing on his
way to his office.

* * *

A/N: And we are moving right along with this story. Next up will be some more Ha
rry/Snape interaction. That's always fun to write :)
Thanks for reading!

Return to Potions
A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed a very Happy Mother's Day! (Or simply had a very pl
easant Sunday if yesterday was not Mother's Day in your country) Enjoy Chapter 1

* * *

In the days that followed, Harry worried that he would once again hear that terr
ifying disembodied voice from the corridor near the library. On several occasion
s, he found himself glancing over his shoulder as he made his way through the ca
stle, half-expecting someone to be following him, watching him.
But no one was ever there, and the voice did not return. And very soon, Harry be
gan to believe that he had simply imagined the whole thing, as horrifying as tha
t voice had been. It had simply been a product of too little sleep, he had decid
ed, and so he did his best to put the whole incident out of his head.
As it turned out, that didn't prove to be too difficult. He had plenty of distra
ctions to occupy his mind.

* * *

It was Tuesday morning when Harry's textbooks finally arrived at breakfast time.
And all the young wizard could do was stare in horror at the table before him, w
hile nearly the entire school, it seemed, turned their heads and craned their ne
cks to see what was going on.
At the arrival of the books, the sausages and eggs and plates of toast had been
sent flying. And anything in the immediate vicinity that had not been disturbed,
was now covered in owl feathers, or being stepped on by the birds themselves.
A quick head count told Harry that there were nine of them. Nine owls had been n
eeded to deliver his book order. And most of them were now taking a moment to pa
use and clean the scrambled eggs out of their feathers before taking to the air
once more.
And in the center of it all, were the packages themselves.
It was almost like walking into the Dursleys' kitchen on the morning of Dudley's
birthday, Harry couldn't help but think. The parcels were piled high enough tha
t it was impossible for him to see to the other side of the table.
"How many books did you order?" Ron asked, eyes wide.
Harry reached forward and, rather than answer Ron, tore the paper off of the fir
st package.
Travels with Trolls: Special Edition by Gilderoy Lockhart read the first title.
And underneath that one was Travels with Trolls: Bonus Edition by Gilderoy Lockh
Harry closed his eyes for a moment and did his best to focus on breathing in and
out. "Hermione," he said at last, his voice a dangerous whisper. "What exactly
is the difference between the Special Editions and the Bonus Editions of Lockhar
t's books?"
"The special editions include an autobiographical introduction from Professor Lo
ckhart," Hermione answered automatically. "And the bonus editions have extra com
mentary from the Professor on his travels and experiences."

"All he does is write commentary on his travels and experiences," Ron grumbled.
"When is he going to actually teach us something useful?
Hermione threw a disapproving glare in Ron's direction, but decided not to reply
Harry looked towards the staff table, then. Most of the teachers seemed to be st
aring in his direction at that moment, although only two faces stood out in the
crowd. The first was Lockhart, who smiled and waved when he saw Harry looking to
wards him. Harry broke eye contact as quickly as possible and pretended not to h
ave noticed.
The second face belonged to Snape. And the man's features was twisted into such
an awful scowl that Harry broke eye contact with him even quicker than he had wi
th Lockhart.
He was definitely not looking forward to attending Potions class later that afte
Harry dropped the books back on the table and started rummaging around in his ba
g for a quill and some parchment.
"What are you doing?" Ron asked, as he watched his friend clear away a space on
the table and start scribbling something down as fast as he could.
Before Harry could answer, however, Hermione was speaking.
"Good morning, Professor Lockhart!"
Both Ron and Harry jumped in surprise and turned in their seats to see the Defen
se professor suddenly standing there behind them, flashing his award-winning smi
le down on the entire scene.
It made Harry sick.
"Ah, I see that your special surprise came today!" Lockhart announced.
Harry tried not to groan as he realized that everyone in the hall must be starin
g in his direction.
"I know it's a lot to take in," Lockhart continued. "You must be feeling pretty
lucky right about now. I not only got you the special editions, but the bonus ed
itions, as well! I just couldn't resist, Harry. I knew you'd love them."
"I also included several books that weren't on your school list, but that I thou
ght you would enjoy, anyway. For the ones I didn't write myself, I am at least m
entioned somewhere within the pages. If you bring the books by my office, I woul
d be more than happy to highlight those sections for you. And then I can sign yo
ur books, as well!"
"Right," Harry said reluctantly.
Lockhart just beamed wider as he looked at the large pile on the table. "Well, I
'll let you get back to opening up all your packages, my boy! I'll see you later

And then the man was gone, heading towards the exit and out into the entrance ha
Almost immediately, Harry returned his attention to the piece of parchment he wa
s writing on.
"You could have at least said thank you," Hermione said disapprovingly, as she w
atched Harry write.
Harry jerked his head up and stared at her incredulously. "He's insane, Hermione
! How can you not see that? And right now, I am writing to Flourish and Blotts t
o inform them that I will be returning most of these books, since I never asked
for them. I can't believe they didn't contact me about this in the first place."
"They were a gift, Harry!"
"He caused my entire order to be delayed by several days!" Harry shot back. "Bes
ides, why would he give me a gift and no one else? He doesn't even know me. Just
look at all of these," he waved an arm at the pile of packages still unopened.
"And they're all about him. I'm telling you Hermione, the man has a few screws l
Ron laughed, but Hermione just sniffed and turned back to the book she had been
"Well, I thought it was a very kind gesture," she said, turning the page of her
potions text. "The professor obviously wants you to do well in his class, Harry.
You really could learn so much from him if you would just give him a chance."
Harry looked up from his letter again and just stared at Hermione for a long mom
"What?" the girl demanded, crossing her arms.
"Hermione," Harry answered at last. "You are by far the smartest person my own a
ge that I've ever known...But that has got to be the stupidest thing you have ev
er said."

* * *

Harry dropped down onto a stool next to Ron later that afternoon in the potions
"Do you think she'll forgive me?" he whispered to his friend, as he looked to wh
ere Hermione was sitting with Neville, closer to the front of the room.
"You just sent a mountain of free brand-new books back to the store," Ron answer
ed. "What do you think?"
"But I let her pick out what she wanted to keep! Does she honestly think I need
two copies of all of Lockhart's books? I kept what I needed and sent back the re
"Yeah, and used up about half of the owls in the owlery to do it," Ron replied,
sounding amused.

"Quiet," a voice suddenly drawled from the front of the room.

Almost immediately then, the class fell silent and turned their attention onto t
he potions master.
And it only took about two seconds for the man to lock gazes with Harry.
"Ah, Mr. Potter. I see that you have finally come to the realization that the su
mmer holidays are, indeed, over, and have decided to join the rest of your peers
in class."
The Slytherins barely made an attempt to stifle their laughs as Harry's face tur
ned red in embarrassment.
"Am I correct in assuming that you are prepared for class today, Mr. Potter?"
Harry gave a quick nod, refusing to meet the man's eyes.
"A verbal response, if you please, Mr. Potter."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered automatically, his voice completely emotionless.
Snape smiled an unpleasant smile then before flicking his wand at the board. Wor
ds instantly began to appear there, and it only took a few seconds for Harry to
realize that they were taking the form of several very long, complicated questio
"Answer the questions that are written on the board on your own parchment," Snap
e addressed the entire class. "I will collect them in ten minutes time. For thos
e of you who have attended all class sessions so far this year, this should be a
fairly simple exercise for you. But for any others..."
Snape didn't bother to finish his statement. He simply allowed his eyes to bore
into Harry's for a moment before finally looking away.
It was completely silent in the classroom then, save for the scratching of quill
s on parchment.
But Harry just bowed his head and stared at his desk. There was no point in even
attempting to answer any of those questions. They had been designed specificall
y so that he would fail.
Next to him, Ron was alternating between glaring daggers at Snape and casting sy
mpathetic glances towards his friend. Even for Snape, this was especially low.
The minutes seemed to drag by. Harry was sure that Snape must have managed to sl
ow down time somehow. Surely ten minutes had already passed.
And then finally, Snape spoke. "Quills down, please. I will be collecting your p
apers momentarily. You may now open your textbooks to page 39."

* * *

Ron offered to take their potion sample up to Snape's desk at the end of class w
hile Harry began cleaning up their station. They had been reasonably successful

with the pain reliever they had been brewing for the past hour, and Harry was fe
eling hopeful that he would finally get a score in Potions that was above a zero
But knowing Snape, he couldn't be too sure. The man really just seemed to hate h
And Harry had remained especially quiet throughout the entire class period as he
tried to figure out why that was.
The bell to signal the end of class came just as Harry was returning the rest of
his unused ingredients to the potions store in the front of the room. By the ti
me he made it back to his desk, most of the class had already filtered out of th
e room, and both Ron and Hermione were waiting for him with concerned looks on t
heir faces.
Well, at least Hermione doesn't seem annoyed with me anymore, Harry thought as h
e began to pack up his belongings.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Hermione whispered. "That was an awful thing for him to d
"Later," Harry whispered back. "You two go on. I'll see you in Charms."
"But what?" Ron began, before Harry cut him off with a shake of the head.
"Later," he repeated.
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks before reluctantly nodding their heads.
"Fine. See you in a few minutes?" Hermione asked.
Harry nodded and watched then as his friends left the classroom with the last of
their classmates, tossing worried looks over their shoulders as they went.
Harry turned to face the front of the room, his heart pounding in his chest. Sna
pe had disappeared into the potions store for a moment, and so Harry waited, rea
ching into his pocket to take out his mother's picture as he did so.
When Snape emerged from the storeroom a few seconds later, a look of surprise fl
ashed in his eyes. No doubt he had thought that Harry would be among the first s
tudents out the door, and long gone by now.
And yet there the boy stood, staring at Snape with those familiar green eyes, an
d clutching an old photograph to his side.
"Potter, if this is about today's quiz" the man began menacingly.
"It's not, sir," Harry answered quickly. "I just...I mean I wanted to..."
"Out with it, boy!" Snape growled.
Harry flinched at that. It was exactly the sort of thing his uncle would say. He
took a deep breath then, and held up his picture.
"What does "A Thousand Words" mean?" he asked, quietly.
It was silent for several long seconds before Snape answered.
"I was under the impression, Mr. Potter, that we had both agreed to never bring

up this subject again."

"Please, sir. I just wanted to know"
"You do not want to be late for your next class, Mr. Potter."
Harry placed the picture back in his pocket and gathered up his schoolbag. He wa
s halfway to the door then before he turned around and, coming to a quick decisi
on, spoke again.
"I'm sorry, sir," he said quietly.
Snape frowned, confused. "What are you talking about, Potter?" he snapped.
Harry sighed before plunging forward with a shaking voice. "I'm the reason she's
dead. You cared about her. Loved her. And she died because she was protecting m
e. And well...that's why you hate me, isn't it, sir? Because it was all my fault
Severus Snape was stunned. That was the only way to describe how he felt at that
moment as he looked into the eyes of the young boy standing before him.
Lily's eyes, the man couldn't help but think.
Harry bowed his head and stared at the floor as the silence dragged on and on.
But then finally, just when the boy was preparing to turn around and head for th
e classroom door, the professor spoke at last.
"Sit down, Mr. Potter. We have a few things to discuss."

* * *

A/N: As always, t hanks for reading, everyone! I will update as soon as I can :)

A Good Day
A/N: So here's Chapter 14! It's a shorter chapter, but it still took quite some
time to write. Enjoy!

* * *

In the silence that followed Snape's words, Harry didn't immediately move back t
o his seat. He simply stood there, eyeing the man warily as he began to wonder w
hat the professor could possibly have in store for him now.

"Sit down, Mr. Potter," Snape repeated more forcefully.

"But I-I have to get to class," Harry answered in a near-whisper.
"You are going to be late today, Mr. Potter. Now, sit down."
Nervously, Harry very slowly began to ease his schoolbag off of his shoulder, an
d down onto the floor.
And then, with an equal amount of hesitancy, he lowered himself back down onto h
is stool and waited for Snape to make the next move.
The man folded his arms and simply watched Harry for a few seconds then, trying
to make his mind up about how to proceed. He wasn't looking forward to this conv
ersation at all.
But he knew that it had to be done.
Eventually coming to a decision, Snape grabbed the nearest stool behind him and
placed it directly in front of Harry's table.
And then the potions master was sitting down, directly across from the young boy
"Look at me, Potter," he said firmly.
Harry did so, although the anxiety was clear in his eyes.
"First and foremost, Mr. Potter," Snape spoke slowly and clearly once he was sur
e that he had Harry's attention, "you are not responsible for the deaths of eith
er one of your parents."
Harry couldn't help it then. He had to look away. Thinking about the night his p
arents died was not something he liked to do very often, and he certainly never
talked about it with anyone.
Especially not with greasy dungeon bats who seemed to hate him more than anythin
g else in the world.
Snape paused for a moment and watched as Harry fidgeted uncomfortably on his sto
"I have never blamed you, Mr. Potter," he eventually continued, "but it would ap
pear as though you blame yourself."
Harry's eyes snapped back to the professor's.
"I don't" he started to protest.
"Do not lie to me, Potter!" Snape hissed, leaning closer to Harry across the tab
le. "That is exactly what you just stated."
Harry frowned as he thought back on what he had said to Snape. He supposed that
he had implied that he believed it was all his fault; though he really hadn't me
ant to.
And yet, he couldn't deny that he felt somewhat guilty that he had survived that
night when both of his parents had not.

He shook his head, then. He wasn't going to think about that now.
"So you don't think it was my fault?" he asked in a small voice.
"No, Potter. I know it was not your fault."
It was silent for another moment or so as Harry considered this information. The
n, finally, he spoke again.
"Then why do you hate me?"
Snape glared at the young boy. "I do not hate you, Potter."
Liar, Harry thought to himself.
"I simply find you to be an insufferable, arrogant, insolent child who struts ar
ound this castle like you own the place."
"I do not!" Harry said angrily, his stool scraping back across the floor as he g
ot to his feet.
Snape also stood, ensuring that he continued to tower over the young boy. "Excus
e me?" he hissed.
"I don't strut," Harry replied, though in a far softer tone. "And I'm not arroga
nt or insolent."
"Oh, I beg to differ. You are the spitting image of your fath"
"So you hate me because you hated my father," Harry interrupted.
"Potter" Snape said in a warning tone.
"And my mother? Am I not like her at all?" Harry asked, staring up at his profes
Once again, surprise crossed the features of the potions master, and it took him
a few seconds to recover.
"We are straying quite far from the point of this discussion, Mr. Potter."
And then Harry was suddenly pleading, the words tumbling from his mouth before h
e could push them back down.
"Can you please just tell me about her? Anything at all? You knew her better tha
n almost anybody else, right?"
"Sit down, Potter," the professor suddenly growled.
Harry obeyed, but didn't stop looking up at the potions master with an almost ho
peful expression.
Snape scowled at the child before speaking again.
"I have many things to do today, Mr. Potter. I do not have the time to sit aroun
d all afternoon listening to your inane chattering and endless questions. So I s
uggest we get back to the point."
"Fine," Harry answered, suddenly irritated. "Voldemort killed my parents. It was
n't my fault. I know. I know."

"Do not say his name!" Snape snapped. "And ten points from Gryffindor for your a
ttitude and cheek, Potter."
Harry crossed his arms. "Can I go now, sir?"
"That will be another ten points, and if your demeanor does not improve in the n
ext few seconds, you will have detention every evening for the remainder of the
Harry immediately uncrossed his arms and looked down at the table.
Snape sighed then. This conversation was not going at all like he had wanted it
to. He was surprised at himself for even attempting to carry on a discussion wit
h the spawn of James Potter, his childhood tormentor and enemy.
He is also Lily's child, that annoying little voice in the back of his head put
"You may go, Mr. Potter," Snape said at last, coming to a decision.
I will just have Minerva talk to him about his survivor's guilt, he added silent
ly to himself.
Harry sighed as he got to his feet and retrieved his schoolbag from the floor. B
ut right before he turned to leave, he thought he might try asking one last ques
"What was the name of her dog?" he asked, his eyes finding Snape's.
"Excuse me?"
Harry dug the picture out of his pocket again and held it up. "The dog in the pi
cture," he clarified. "It was hers, wasn't it? What was its name?"
"It was a stray. It didn't have a name," Snape answered dismissively.
"Oh," Harry said, replacing the picture in his pocket as he moved towards the do
Snape watched the boy cross the classroom, his mouth set in a firm line.
But just as Harry reached the door, the potions master spoke again.
"Sir?" Harry asked, confused.
"The stray," Snape clarified, rolling his eyes. "Your mother started calling it
'Daisy' when it came around more often."
Harry nodded, a smile suddenly spreading across his face. "Thank you, sir."
And then the boy was gone, racing out of the classroom and down the dungeon corr
And all Severus could think in that moment was that the child had smiled exactly
the same way as Lily used to.

* * *

Harry climbed the final set of stairs up to the owlery later that afternoon, a b
ag of owl treats clutched securely against his side.
"Hey, Hedwig!" Harry greeted pleasantly, as his snowy owl broke free from the cr
owd of other birds and landed lightly on the perch in front of her owner. "Are y
ou hungry, girl?"
Hedwig gave a soft hoot in reply, and Harry pulled a handful of treats from the
"It was a good day, today," Harry told the owl, as he placed the treats in the s
mall food dish attached to the perch. "Well,mostly. There was that fiasco at bre
akfast with all of Lockhart's packages. And Snape did take all those points, aga
in. But I'm starting to think that maybe he isn't so bad."
At that, Hedwig raised her head and stared at Harry in what could only be descri
bed as disbelief.
"Snape, not Lockhart," Harry clarified quickly.
Hedwig just continued to stare.
"Well, he did say that he doesn't hate me," Harry defended himself to the bird.
"He definitely still doesn't like me, but I guess that's just because he didn't
get along with my dad."
Hedwig tilted her head, as if asking a question.
"He told me it wasn't my fault," his voice had dropped to almost a whisper. "Wha
t happened to my parents. No one's ever told me that before. Certainly not Aunt
Petunia or Uncle Vernon. They thought everything was my fault. And I always beli
eved them."
Hedwig hooted softly again and Harry reached out to stroke her feathers.
But then suddenly, there was a commotion behind Harry, and he quickly whirled ar
ound to see what it was.
It sounded as though there were several people storming up the staircase to the
owlery, and the birds closest to the entrance launched themselves into the air t
o take refuge in the rafters.
Only a few seconds later, a group of students appeared at the top of the stairs.
And suddenly, Harry was rethinking his decision to call today a good day.
Because there was Malfoy, standing at the owlery entrance with his small group o
f friends right behind him. Crabbe, Goyle, and even Pansy Parkinson had joined t
he young Slytherin today.
"Do you ever go anywhere alone?" Harry couldn't help but to blurt out, before an
yone else had a chance to speak.
"Mind your own business, Scarhead," Malfoy spat, not at all pleased to see Harry

Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't worry. I was just leaving," he said, turning to gi
ve an apologetic look to his owl.
The gaze Hedwig gave him in return was one of understanding, and she reached for
ward to nip affectionately at the fingers that had been stroking her just a mome
nt ago.
"I'll have more treats tomorrow at breakfast, if you want to stop by," he said q
The owl made a quiet noise in reply, and Harry smiled at her before turning away
And then he did his very best to ignore the Slytherins completely as he passed b
y them, heading for the staircase.
Just as Harry reached the steps, however, another figure appeared in the entranc
e. It was another student. A Hufflepuff. And he appeared to be a few years older
than everyone else in the owlery. Likely a fifth year, Harry would guess.
The newcomer glanced around, his eyes almost immediately settling on Harry's for
Harry made an unconscious effort to flatten his bangs over his scar as he turned
to leave the owlery.
But then the Hufflepuff boy spoke.
Only he wasn't speaking to Harry.
"Hey, aren't you that Slytherin who got a detention from Snape?"
Harry glanced over his shoulder to see a very red-faced Malfoy glaring at the ol
der student.
"No!" he declared angrily.
"Oh, sorry," the boy shrugged, before moving off in search of one of the school
And then suddenly, there were four Slytherins scowling at Harry, the promise of
murder in their eyes.
Harry did his best to suppress a smirk, then, as he hurried down the stairs and
away from the owlery.
Yes, he eventually decided, when he was halfway to Gryffindor tower. Today reall
y was a good day.

* * *

A/N: So up next is a very important chapter for Harry and Snape. I won't give an
ything away, but remember in Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone when it wasn't unt
il the trio fought a fully grown mountain troll together that they all ended up
as friends?

Well, there won't be any trolls, but something is about to happen. Any thoughts
on what you think that might be? As always, thanks for reading!

A/N: Alright, guys. Enjoy Chapter 15!

* * *

"I bet Malfoy didn't like that, did he?" Ron laughed between mouthfuls of his br
eakfast, having just listened to Harry recount the details of his trip to the ow
lery the previous afternoon. "It's been over a week, and people are still talkin
g about his detention with Snape!"
"He did look pretty humiliated," Harry agreed, smiling. "I got out of there as f
ast as I could after that, though. He looked like he was about ready to strangle
Ron laughed again, and Harry continued to smile. But across the table, Hermione
was frowning in concern.
"I fail to see what is so funny," she said disapprovingly. "Harry, if you feel a
t all threatened by Malfoy, then you need to tell Professor McGonagall immedi"
"I don't feel threatened, Hermione," Harry interrupted. "I can take care of myse
lf, and I could easily take Malfoy in a fight."
"You shouldn't be fighting in the first place!"
"Oh, give it a rest, Hermione," Ron jumped in. "I don't think Malfoy's actually
going to try anything."
"You don't know that."
"Just let me deal with Malfoy," Harry stated at last. "How much harm could he po
ssibly do, anyway?"
Hermione looked unconvinced, but she thankfully decided to drop the subject.
"I wish we could skip Lockhart's class today," Ron said a few moments later, sta
bbing his fork at a sausage as he spoke.
"We have a very important test today," Hermione shook her head. "Don't tell me y
ou didn't study, Ronald Weasley!"
"I studied. For a few minutes."
Hermione glared in disapproval.

"Oh come on, Hermione. Those notes are ridiculous. Why is it important to know w
hat color Lockhart's robes were the day he met the Yeti?"
Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps in order to tell Ron exactly why it was impor
tant to know the color of Gilderoy Lockhart's robes the day he met the Yeti, whe
n she was interrupted by a flurry of wings and feathers, as an owl landed on the
table in front of her.
"Oh, it's a letter from Mum and Dad," Hermione said happily, reaching out to unt
ie the envelope from the bird's outstretched foot.
Harry looked up towards the ceiling then, trying to spot his snowy owl in the se
a of brown and gray.
"Are you expecting something, mate?" Ron asked as his friend's eyes continued to
comb the ceiling.
"Oh, no. I just told Hedwig to stop by for some owl treats this morning," Harry
answered, pulling the bag of treats out of his pocket.
"Well don't be surprised if you get another shipment of Lockhart books," Ron jok
ed. "I don't think you have the Deluxe Editions yet."
"That isn't even funny," Harry replied, although he was unable to keep from smil
ing just a little bit.
An annoyed look crossed Hermione's face, but it soon disappeared as she went bac
k to her letter.
"Is everything alright with your parents?" Harry asked a couple minutes later, s
till glancing up at the ceiling.
"Oh, yes," Hermione answered. "Mostly they just want to know what I want for my
birthday next week."
"Well, that shouldn't be too difficult to guess," Ron said, rolling his eyes. "W
hat book don't you have in your collection yet?"
Hermione pointedly ignored Ron as she folded up her letter and set it next to he
r plate.
"So, Harry," she said, as she picked up a slice of toast. "Are you prepared for
the Defense test today?"
But Harry was hardly listening. He continued to look up at the ceiling as the la
st of the morning owls cleared out of the Great Hall, and frowned.
"She didn't come," he said quietly.
"What?" Ron asked, around a large mouthful of food.
"Hedwig," Harry said, looking down at the bag of owl treats in his hand. "She al
ways comes for treats."
"I'm sure everything is fine, Harry," Hermione tried to reassure him. "Are you s
ure she's not out delivering or retrieving a message, or something?"
Harry just shook his head as he stood up and shoved the treats back into his poc
ket. "I'm going to the owlery."

"Harry, you can't be late to class again," Hermione said as Harry threw his scho
olbag over his shoulder.
But Harry didn't respond. He hurried to the exit and towards the grand staircase
as fast as he could go without breaking into a flat-out run.
It'll be fine. Everything will be fine, he chanted over and over to himself as h
e made his way up through the castle.
Everything will be just fine.

* * *

Snape glowered at all of the students filling up the Great Hall for breakfast ti
me. Even at this time of day, there seemed to be no shortage of children running
around and shouting and yelling and squealing in those high-pitched voices that
never failed to grate on Severus' nerves.
Aren't teenagers supposed to be slow and lethargic in the morning? the man thoug
ht irritably, as he took a cool drink of water from his goblet. He could already
feel the beginnings of a massive headache coming on, and he still had to get th
rough an entire day of teaching classes full of dunderheaded ne'er-do-wells.
And then the arrival of the mail just made everything so much worse. Because now
the little miscreants were jumping up and down and pointing and practically cla
mbering over each other to get to their letters and packages that were no doubt
sent to them from overindulgent parents back home.
It was then that the potions master's eyes happened to roam over the Gryffindor
table and settle on a certain second year, who was currently gazing up at the ce
iling, clearly expecting something.
Severus scowled and looked away. He absolutely hated the odd feeling he got ever
y time he thought about the Potter brat these days.
"You've hardly touched your breakfast, Severus," McGonagall suddenly commented f
rom the seat directly to Snape's right.
Severus sighed and rolled his eyes. Honestly, the woman still treated him like a
child sometimes.
"I've eaten enough, Minerva, thank you," he replied absently, looking out at the
hall once more, his eyes automatically lingering over the Gryffindor table for
several seconds longer than any of the others.
McGonagall followed his gaze and a small smile settled on her face. "Ah, and how
are things going with young Harry? I trust that you have reconciled your differ
"There's nothing to reconcile," Snape said firmly, getting to his feet, and miss
ing the look of disappointment that crossed Minerva's face at that statement. "I
must go prepare for my classes, now."
Snape left the table and headed for one of the side entrances to the hall, pausi
ng to look back at the Gryffindor table one last time.

He couldn't help but frown at what he saw.

Potter was now standing, and quickly shoving something into his pocket as he sim
ultaneously reached for his schoolbag.
Snape couldn't help but grow suspicious then, as he watched the boy rush out of
the hall in a hurry, leaving the other two-thirds of the Golden Gryffindor trio
What are you up to this time Potter? he thought silently, rubbing a hand over hi
s eyes wearily as he exited the hall at last.
What mischief could you have possibly gotten yourself into?

* * *

The owlery was quiet that morning. More than half of the usual occupants were cu
rrently out, delivering and receiving mail, or else stretching their wings in th
e cool morning air and hunting for a good breakfast.
The rest of the birds that remained behind, it seemed, were sleeping, enjoying a
peaceful morning nap. The place was still and silent.
At least until a young Gryffindor boy flew up the stairs and into the room, comp
letely out of breath and exhausted.
"Hedwig?" Harry called out, as soon as he was able to breathe normally again.
Above him, one of the school's barn owls popped a single eye open and gave Harry
a reproachful hoot.
"Sorry," Harry said quickly, before moving further into the owlery.
"Hedwig?" he repeated, though a little quieter this time. "Are you in here, girl
There was no response. No soft hoot in greeting, or a fluttering of wings to ind
icate that Hedwig was coming to meet her owner.
She's out hunting, Harry thought to himself. She must just be out hunting.
But he knew that didn't make any sense. Hedwig never missed an opportunity for o
wl treats. She would have come to the Great Hall if she were able.
And no sooner had that terrifying thought crossed Harry's mind, than, out of the
corner of his eye, he suddenly saw her, sitting on a low perch at the very back
of the owlery.
"Hedwig!" Harry called out, hurrying over to his owl. "Hedwig."
But the snowy owl did not respond. Her head was bent low, her eyes drooping shut
, and Harry could see that she was shaking where she stood.
"Hedwig?" Harry whispered softly, his fingers trembling slightly as he reached o
ut to touch the bird's feathers. "Please, girl. Look at me."

But Hedwig didn't look up. She just continued to stare blankly down at the floor
, as her whole body continued to shiver uncontrollably.
"Hedwig? What's wrong? Come on girl, what's wrong?"
And then a low, nearly inaudible sound came from the snowy owl, and it was unlik
e any other sound that she had ever made before. It was pitiful and sorrowful, a
nd it scared Harry to death.
"No. Hedwig, you're okay. You're alright. Please be alright," Harry was suddenly
speaking very fast, his fingers now hovering just above the owl's head. He was
too afraid to touch her anymore, though. What if he ended up making things worse
Harry stopped talking then as a lump began to form in his throat and the tears s
tarted to burn behind his eyes. He had never seen Hedwig like this before. She h
ad been perfectly fine yesterday. What could possibly have happened to make her
so sick all of a sudden?
"Don't worry, girl," Harry managed to get out a few seconds later, "I'm going to
get you some help. You're going to be just fine."
Harry turned then and ran, his schoolbag lying forgotten on the owlery floor.

* * *

Harry flew down several flights of stairs in record time. His first thought, and
the only one that was occupying his mind at that moment was that he needed to g
et a teacher. He needed to find his head of house or Professor Flitwick or someb
ody. Anybody that wasn't Gilderoy Lockhart or
Harry slammed into something hard, completely losing his balance in the process.
But before he could fall flat on his face, a hand shot out and steadied him, gri
pping his arm tightly.
"What have I told you about running in the corridors, Mr. Potter?!" Snape growle
d, giving Harry a shake. "This is the second time you have run into me now and"
"Please, sir," Harry interrupted, growing desperate. "I need help. Please."
The man paused then in surprise as he caught a glimpse of Harry's tear-stained f
"It's my owl, sir," Harry continued frantically without being prompted. "She's s
ick. I don't know what's wrong with her but she needs help. Please."
Snape was unable to react for a moment. Whatever trouble he had suspected the Gr
yffindor Golden boy of getting into, this definitely wasn't it.
And then the man was looking into the boy's eyes. They were red and slightly puf
fy and filled with tears.

And they were Lily's.

Snape suppressed a sigh then as he let go of Harry's arm and took just a moment
to straighten his robes.
"Show me," he said at last.
Harry just nodded and turned back in the direction of the owlery.

* * *

"Hedwig," Harry said urgently, when he stood in front of his owl once more. "Hed
wig? How are you doing, girl?"
The bird's condition didn't appear to have changed at all since Harry had last s
een her, and she made no attempt now to respond to Harry's voice.
"Step aside, Potter," Snape said in a brusque tone. "I need to run a diagnostic
Harry obeyed but made sure to stand as close to his owl as possible, watching ca
refully as the potions professor withdrew his wand and waved it over the creatur
e's head.
A piece of parchment popped into existence then, and Snape snatched it out of th
e air, watching closely as the diagnosis began to appear across the page in larg
e, loopy handwriting.
"What is it? Is she going to be alright?" Harry asked, trying to see the parchme
nt that the potions master was holding off to the side.
Snape frowned, a grave expression settling across his features.
"What?" Harry asked again, suddenly feeling far more frightened than he had even
just a moment ago. "Sir, please"
"Mr. Potter, your owl has been poisoned."
"She needs an antidote immediately."
Harry shook his head, looking up at the professor.
"" he asked in a near whisper, his tone pleading and desperate. "Will
she be okay?"
It took a few seconds for Snape to respond then. He looked from Harry to the ver
y sick owl, and then back again before finally giving his answer.
"I will do everything that I can."

* * *

A/N: Oh, poor Hedwig. Thanks for reading, everyone! I will post the next chapter
as soon as I am able :)

Anxiety and Anger

A/N: Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter out, everyone. Enjoy Chapter 16

* * *

Harry stood brooding in the empty entrance hall, unable to decide where to go fr
om this point. Only moments ago, he had been following very close behind Snape a
s the man carefully transported Hedwig down through the castle and towards his o
ffice in a cage he had transfigured from a feather back in the owlery. It seemed
that he had also cast some sort of privacy spell as well, for none of the few s
tudents in the corridors seemed to be the least bit interested in the fact that
Severus Snape was carrying an owl through the school with a small, second year G
ryffindor following on his heels.
Harry, of course, had had every intention of staying with his owl for the rest o
f the day. He didn't want to leave her for anything. Not until he was sure that
she would be alright.
But Snape had quickly put a stop to that. Just before reaching the narrow stairc
ase that led down into the dungeons, the professor had rounded on the boy, glari
ng down at him with those dangerous, dark eyes.
"Go along to class, Mr. Potter. I will take care of your owl from here."
"Do not argue with me, Potter," Snape warned. "This creature needs an antidote a
nd then rest, and you and I both have classes starting in just a few minutes."
"I can't just leave her!" Harry protested, taking a step closer.
"You will do exactly as I say," Snape replied firmly. "And you will do so quickl
y if you do not wish to waste any more time and potentially jeopardize your owl'
s recovery."
Harry glanced at Hedwig for just a moment. She was completely motionless in the
cage. She made no movements at all, and her eyes remained half-closed.
Harry nodded then and took a step back. "Please. Just save her," he begged, tear
s glistening in his eyes.
Snape didn't respond then. He simply turned on his heel and swept down the stair

s, leaving Harry standing alone in the entrance hall.

But Harry knew that there was no way he was going to be able to make it to class
that morning. He could barely pay attention to Professor Binns' lectures on the
best of days. And now, with Hedwig...
Making a quick decision, Harry turned and headed for the large castle doors.

* * *

It was a quiet morning outside the castle as Harry hurried across the school law
n. The young Gryffindor didn't hear so much as a bird singing somewhere off in t
he distance, or the wind rustling through the trees. The whole world seemed to b
e still and silent just then. Almost as if frozen in time.
Harry didn't like it. It shouldn't be this quiet. It didn't feel right. It was a
ll wrong. And soon, he found himself breaking into a run just so he could hear t
he sound of his feet pounding against the ground and echoing in his ears. It was
comforting somehow, and so much better than the silence. And it gave him someth
ing to concentrate and focus on as he moved further away from the school.
The boy was nearly out of breath by the time he finally reached Hagrid's cabin,
panting and gasping for air. He raised his fist and knocked firmly against the d
oor. And a moment later, there was the welcome sound of Fang, barking on the oth
er side.
It was only a few moments then before the cabin door swung open, and Harry was l
ooking up into the eyes of his half-giant friend.
"Harry? What're you doin' here?" the gamekeeper asked in surprise. "Shouldn' you
be in class?"
Harry sighed as he looked down at the ground for a moment. "Can I come in, Hagri
d? Please?"
Hagrid frowned in concern as he immediately moved away from the entrance so that
Harry could come in.
"Bin wonderin' when you'd find the time ter visit," Hagrid said, walking over to
where the tea kettle was sitting on the table, and waving Harry into a seat.
Harry sat, and within seconds, Fang's head was in his lap, getting drool and sal
iva all over his school robes. But the young boy didn't mind. He simply stroked
the top of the boarhound's head absently as Hagrid set a giant cup of tea down i
n front of him.
"Hedwig is sick," Harry found himself saying, before the man even had the chance
to ask.
Hagrid finished pouring his own cup of tea before taking the seat opposite of Ha
rry, the worry clear in his expression.
"How sick? Maybe I could"
"Snape is taking care of her," Harry interrupted. "He said she's been poisoned a
nd he'll give her the antidote."

"Then yeh have nothin' ter worry 'bout," Hagrid said firmly, reaching across the
table to pat Harry's hand comfortingly. "Professor Snape knows what he's doin',
and Hedwig's a strong bird. I should know. I picked her out meself."
Harry managed a weak smile at that, remembering how surprised and happy he had b
een when Hagrid had presented him with the beautiful snowy owl on his birthday t
he year before. But then he sighed as he looked down at his tea.
"I'd never seen her like that before, Hagrid. What if she doesn't make it?"
"There's no use in worryin' 'bout that now. We'll jus' hafta wait an' see."
The two of them fell into a companionable silence then. Hagrid sipped at his tea
every now and again, while Harry just continued to stare blankly down at his ow
n cup, his mind racing with the morning's events.
Now that he was somewhat calmer than he had been before, his brain was beginning
to put the pieces together in his head. Hedwig had been poisoned. It had happen
ed sometime between yesterday afternoon and early this morning.
And then his mind finally made the connection, and Harry stood up abruptly, his
knee knocking painfully against one of the table legs.
"Wha-" Hagrid began, but he was soon interrupted.
"Malfoy! He did this! He-he poisoned her!" Harry exclaimed, ignoring the twinge
in his knee.
And before Hagrid even had the chance to respond, Harry was at the cabin's entra
nce, wrenching open the door and heading back out onto the grounds and up toward
s the school.

* * *

Once he was back in the castle, Harry was forced to pause for a moment as he rem
embered that most students were still in class at that time. He found a narrow,
secluded passageway somewhere on the first floor and slid down the wall until he
was sitting, his knees drawn up close to his chest. And once there, he had noth
ing else to do but to think.
He never would have believed Malfoy to be capable of something so callous and cr
uel. This fight, this rivalry, was between the two of them. The Slytherin was su
pposed to go after Harry, not a defenseless owl.
Harry had expected Malfoy to want to duel him, to corner him in a corridor somew
here so that he could throw a hex or two in his direction. He would have been re
ady for that. He could have handled that.
But this...
This was far worse than Harry could have ever imagined. He never thought that th
e Slytherin could stoop so low. Hedwig could lose her life.
And all because Malfoy had gotten a detention with Snape.

Harry's grip tightened considerably on his wand at that thought. There was no do
ubt that Malfoy had gone too far.
And Harry had every intention of making him pay for it.

* * *

When the bell rang to signal morning break, Harry jumped up from his position on
the floor and set a course directly for the dungeons. Surely Snape didn't expec
t him to go all day without seeing Hedwig, after all. Harry knew that he would g
o crazy if he didn't get some news soon.
Harry descended the grand staircase and crossed the entrance hall until he stood
directly in front of the entrance down into the dungeons.
It was then that he heard the laughter.
Whirling around, Harry saw the small group of second year Slytherins coming down
the stairs, laughing uproariously at something that one of them must have said.
And right in the middle of the group, smiling and smirking and soaking in all t
he attention, was Malfoy.
Harry didn't even stop to think.
Drawing his wand, he charged straight for the group, not even caring that he was
considerably outnumbered. He only had eyes for one of them.
Someone in the group squealed in shock when they spotted Harry headed for them w
ith a raised wand. It was too late to give much more of a reaction, however. For
in the next second, the angry Gryffindor stood right in front of them, his wand
pointed directly at the spot between Malfoy's eyes.
"What on earth do you think you're doing, Potter?" Malfoy demanded, taking a ste
p back. His voice was an equal mixture of shock and fear.
"You could have killed her!" Harry shouted. "She could die because of you!"
"What are you talking about?" Malfoy shouted back. Behind him, several of the ot
her Slytherins were fumbling around in their robes for their own wands.
"Don't play dumb with me, Malfoy! You poisoned my owl to get revenge"
"I did no such thing!" Malfoy scoffed.
"Take out your wand, Draco," Harry's voice was suddenly quiet. "Let's settle thi
s once and for all."
"You're crazy," Malfoy answered, eyes widening.
"Oh, go on, Draco," Pansy Parkinson encouraged from behind the blond-haired boy.
"You can take him."
By now, a small crowd of students had gathered in the entrance hall, all of them
eagerly watching the scene unfolding before them. The excited murmurs and whisp
ers were spreading rapidly, and it was soon apparent to everyone present that th
ere was no way Malfoy was going to be able to back down now. His pride would not

allow it.
But just as Malfoy managed to withdraw his wand from the folds of his robes and
point it towards Harry, a dangerous and silky voice cut through the mutterings i
n the crowd and carried throughout the entire hall.
"Mr. Potter. Mr. Malfoy. I suggest that you lower your wands immediately."
Malfoy looked somewhat relieved to hear the sound of Snape's voice moving toward
s them, and he dropped his wand to his side.
"I said now, Mr. Potter!" Snape said a bit more forcefully.
Harry didn't dare disobey him then. He lowered his wand, and settled for simply
glaring at the Slytherin boy before him.
"He's trying to kill me," Malfoy exclaimed, now that the threat of Harry's wand
was gone.
"He poisoned Hedwig!" Harry retorted.
"Silence!" Snape commanded.
And both boys wisely kept their mouths shut.
"The rest of you will disperse immediately," Snape said to the entrance hall at
There was a sudden mad dash for the grand staircase as the rest of the students
hastened to obey, and in less than a minute, the hall was completely empty excep
t for Harry, Malfoy, and Snape.
And the potions master did not look pleased.
"Mr. Potter, go wait for me outside my office."
Harry turned and headed off towards the dungeons. There was no doubt about it. H
e was in huge trouble now.

* * *

As soon as the young Gryffindor disappeared from view, Snape rounded on Malfoy.
"I didn't do it!" the boy was quick to defend himself. "I never touched Potter's
stupid, bloody owl."
"I would certainly hope not," Snape answered silkily.
"I didn't!" Malfoy insisted. And then his eyes narrowed. "You actually believe h
im, don't you? Again? How could you believe him over me?"
"Watch yourself, Draco," Snape warned.

"You really believe I would do something so low and-and cowardly?"

"I believe that you need to start focusing a little more on your schoolwork, and
a little less on your rivalry with Mr. Potter."
Malfoy huffed and crossed his arms. "Why don't you tell him that?"
"Do you imagine that I invited Mr. Potter to my office for tea?" Snape said scat
hingly. "I will be speaking to him just as soon as we are done here, not that it
is of any concern to you."
Malfoy just glared off to the side, arms still crossed.
"You will improve your attitude, Draco, or you will not like the consequences."
Malfoy had to fight not to roll his eyes. But he knew that that would be practic
ally suicidal in Snape's presence. And so he resisted.
"May I go now, sir?"
Snape considered the boy for a moment, before finally waving him off.
"Go. But stay away from Potter. Is that understood? We will continue this conver
sation later."
"Yes, sir," Malfoy answered quickly, before turning around and heading back up t
he grand staircase.
Snape sighed then and turned towards the dungeon steps.
It was time to go deal with Potter.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading! I'll start working on the next chapter soon.

A/N: You guys are amazing! I really appreciate all of the support for this story
, and I love all of your kind reviews. Enjoy Chapter 17!

* * *

Harry leaned heavily against the wall outside the potion professor's office, sti

ll far too angry with Malfoy to even think about what Snape was likely going to
do to him when he finally decided to show up.
Draco Malfoy was a liar. That was all there was to it. He was a liar, and a cowa
rd, and what he had done was completely unforgivable in Harry's eyes.
With a small growl of frustration, Harry shoved his hands into his pockets, and
leaned his head back against the stone wall.
He sighed then, closing his eyes, as his hand brushed against the picture that w
as always there in his robes now.
And a moment later, he pulled the photograph out, feeling somewhat subdued as he
once again stared down at his mother's smiling face.
"There isn't much time before your next class, Mr. Potter," a sharp, silky voice
suddenly sounded from the shadows, causing Harry to jump nearly a foot in the a
Looking up, Harry saw the potions master striding towards him, a furious scowl s
et firmly across his face.
"I will therefore attempt to keep this brief," the man continued speaking, as he
flung his office door open. "Inside, Mr. Potter. Now."
Harry hastened to obey, pushing his picture back into his pocket. The professor
noticed the movement, and met Harry's eyes for a brief second as the boy hurried
past him into the office. But the man didn't comment, opting instead to simply
glare angrily at the back of Harry's head as he followed the boy inside, and yan
ked the door closed behind them.
"Sit," the man said simply, and suddenly, Harry was scared. Because the amount o
f pure venom in that one single word was far more than he had been anticipating.
The man sounded like he was going to kill him.
"P-please, sir. My owl" Harry stuttered out bravely, though careful not to meet t
he man's eyes again.
"Your owl is doing as well as can be expected after having ingested a particular
ly nasty poison, Mr. Potter," Snape stated in a brusque manner. "She is currentl
y resting quietly at another location."
Harry just nodded, knowing that it would probably be best for him to keep silent
from this point forward, unless asked a direct question from Snape.
"Tell me, Mr. Potter," Snape began a moment later, his voice low and dangerous.
"Do you believe yourself to be above the rules?"
Harry opened his mouth to give a response, but it was a moment before he was abl
e to force the answer out around the tight lump in his throat.
"No, sir."
"Perhaps you feel that they simply don't apply to you? That the rules are mere g
uidelines for you to follow or reject as you please?"
"N-no, sir," Harry repeated in a near-whisper.
"And yet, Mr. Potter, you have just broken one of the most important rules that

we have here at Hogwarts, haven't you?"

Harry swallowed hard. "S-sir?"
"Under no circumstances," the man's voice began to rise in volume, "are you to e
ver raise your wand against another student!"
Harry flinched at the professor's tone of voice, suddenly reminded of Uncle Vern
on when he got into one of his moods. The boy ducked his head and gripped the si
des of his chair unconsciously as he waited for Snape to continue.
"You will receive a full week's worth of detentions for this transgression, Mr.
Potter. And you will of course be apologizing to Mr. Malfoy"
"No!" Harry shouted, suddenly jumping to his feet. "He hurt Hedwig! He tried to
kill her! I won't apologize to him!"
"Mr. Potter"
"You can do whatever you want to me. I won't do it!"
"You will apologize, Mr. Potter," Snape hissed, leaning closer to Harry across t
he desk. "Pointing a wand, a weapon, at another student is a serious offense, an
d not one that is taken lightly."
"But he poisoned"
"Do you have any evidence, any proof, that Mr. Malfoy is the one who poisoned yo
ur owl?"
"He hates me! He said he was going to get revenge, and I saw him in the owlery y
"I see," Snape said softly, nearly whispering now. "So because you happened to c
ome across Mr. Malfoy in the owlery yesterday afternoon"
"It was him! I know it was him!"
"I do not appreciate being interrupted, Mr. Potter," Snape suddenly growled dang
erously. "You will show me respect while in my presence. I don't care how upset
you are about your bird."
Feeling slightly deflated, Harry sat back down, and glared sullenly at the floor
"You don't have any proof that Mr. Malfoy harmed your owl, Potter. And even if y
ou did, you should know better than to take matters into your own hands. You are
a child. When you have a problem, you seek help from an adult."
Harry frowned at the stone floor. In his experience, adults really couldn't be t
rusted all that much. Or at all. He was used to taking care of himself. He didn'
t need anybody else.
But you asked for help with Hedwig, the annoying little voice in the back of his
head put in. You needed someone then.
Harry immediately gave his head a little shake, effectively silencing that voice
"I am going to ask you another question, Mr. Potter," Snape eventually continued

, after pausing for a moment to allow his last statement the chance to sink in,
"and I would strongly advise against lying to me."
Harry looked up then, dreading whatever it was that Snape was going to ask.
The potions master leveled Harry with a warning look, before finally deciding to
"Did you attend class this morning, Mr. Potter? Or did you find yourself...wande
ring astray?"
Harry's eyes grew wide at the professor's words. How did he know?
"Well, Mr. Potter?" Snape prompted impatiently.
Not wishing to anger the man any further, Harry slowly began shaking his head.
"I require verbal responses, Mr. Potter."
"N-no, sir," Harry whispered.
"No, what?"
"No, I didn't go to class today," Harry clarified, wringing his hands together n
ervously in his lap.
"I suspected as much," Snape said with a scoff. "You really are quite predictabl
e, Mr. Potter. Just like your father.
"I was worried about Hedwig," Harry defended himself quietly.
"Oh? Did you notify a professor that you would be unable to make it to class?"
"No." The word was nearly inaudible.
"This castle is not a playground Potter!" Snape suddenly brought his fist down o
n the desk, causing Harry to jump. "You cannot just wander around wherever and w
henever you please!"
"But I"
Harry snapped his mouth shut and swallowed hard.
"Your complete and total disregard for the rules ends here, Potter. I will be ad
ding another week onto your detention, and you will be grateful that it isn't mo
Harry didn't know what to say. The entire thing was completely unfair, of course
. But he didn't think the professor would appreciate him saying so.
"You may go now, Potter," Snape dismissed at last. "But I will expect you back h
ere this evening, at our usual detention time."
Harry just nodded as he got to his feet, avoiding the man's eyes at all costs.
Snape swept past him and flicked his wand at the door. It swung open a second la
ter, and Harry wasted no time in making his way towards the exit.

Of course, he could still feel the potion master's gaze on the back of his head,
following him all the way down the dungeon corridor.

* * *

"Where have you been?" Hermione hissed, when Harry slid into a seat next to her
in the Transfiguration classroom. "You missed Professor Binns' entire lecture on
the Goblin Rebellion of 1466!"
"Was it much different from the Goblin Rebellion of 1465?" Harry asked sarcastic
ally, thinking about their last lecture with Professor Binns as he pulled out qu
ill and parchment, and his new Transfiguration book. On his other side, Ron smir
ked in amusement, but Hermione did not appear to be the least bit impressed.
"What happened?" she insisted. "Was Hedwig?"
"I'll tell you the whole story later," Harry interrupted. "But she was sick. Ver
y sick."
"What?" Ron and Hermione said in unison.
"Where is she now?" Ron asked. "What's wrong with her?"
"She's with Snape," Harry answered, just as Professor McGonagall walked into the
classroom, and called for everyone's attention.
His friends could only stare at him dumbfounded then. And Ron looked especially
But Harry hardly paid them any attention at all. He was doing his best to focus
on what McGonagall was saying at the front of the room, and copying down anythin
g that sounded remotely important.
After all, there was every possibility that Snape might demand to see Harry's cl
ass notes to prove that he had actually been to class.
And Harry was determined not to give the man any more opportunities to get him i
nto trouble.

* * *

Snape glared out at the group of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff fourth years from his
position at the front of the room. The dunderheads were all currently taking a v
ery long, very complicated, written test, and it was one of those rare occasions
when Severus was able to simply sit behind his desk during the class period and
think, without having to worry about the possibility of cauldrons melting or ex
ploding, or toxic fumes filling the air from a poorly made potion.
But of course, he was unable to really think about and concentrate on the more i
mportant things just then, like grading essays and making lesson plans for his u
pcoming classes. No, his mind was once again currently being plagued with though
ts about Potter, the Gryffindor Golden Boy. The child who always seemed to be in

some sort of trouble.

What was I thinking? Snape tapped a long finger against the wood of the desk as
his conversation with Potter ran through his head once more.
He should have passed the brat off to Minerva when he had the chance. The child
was more her responsibility after all. She should be the one dealing with Potter
's rule-breaking tendencies. Not him.
Of course, that had actually been his plan
d's head of house. But then he had somehow
rsed green eyes for just the very briefest
lecturing the boy and giving him two weeks

all along. To go straight to the chil

found himself looking into those accu
of moments, and then he was suddenly
of detention, instead.

Almost as if he cared. Which he most certainly did not.

He hadn't even done the sensible thing and assigned the detentions to be carried
out with someone else. Like Filch.
In the next moment then, Snape was smirking. Because that didn't mean he still c
ouldn't. He could simply deal with Potter tonight, and then arrange for the rema
inder of the boy's punishment to take place with the old caretaker and his annoy
ing mangy feline.
Yes, Snape decided just a minute later, relieved that he had thought of a suitab
le solution. That's exactly what I am going to do.

* * *

A/N: So another detention with Snape is coming up. Sounds like fun! Thanks for r
-Ailee17 :)

The Trophy Room

A/N: Finally finished Chapter 18! It's a nice, long one this time. Enjoy!

* * *

"So Snape is taking care of Hedwig?" Ron asked in shock, as the trio made their
way to the Defense classroom that afternoon. "Blimey Harry, do you think that's
"Professor Snape is the potions master, Ronald," Hermione said exasperatedly. "H
e'll be Hedwig's best chance for making a full recovery."

"I didn't really have much choice," Harry put in. "I needed help, and Snape was
the first person I ran into. Literally."
"But then he turned around and gave you two weeks of detention?" Ron scoffed. "H
e really is a foul, greasy"
"Snape was right, Ron!" Hermione interrupted hotly, rounding on both of the boys
just as they turned a corner onto an empty corridor. "Harry has no proof that M
alfoy was responsible, and he never should have pulled a wand on him!"
"Who else could it have been?" Ron challenged. "Who else would poison Harry's ow
l just to get back at him?"
"I have my own theory," Hermione responded, turning back around and continuing d
own the hallway. "But that's all it is. A theory. I'm not about to run off to co
nfront anybody just because I have a strong feeling about"
"Just tell us already, Hermione," Harry said impatiently, hurrying to catch up w
ith the girl. "If Malfoy didn't do it, then who did?"
"I don't know who did. I only know who could have," Hermione stated firmly. "The
re is a difference, you know."
"Oh, out with it already!" Ron hissed.
Hermione glared at Ron for just a moment before finally speaking once more.
"The Malfoys are a very traditional, very old-fashioned wizarding family. Their
name is scattered everywhere throughout the history books and"
"I'm sorry, but what does this have to do with Malfoy poisoning Hedwig?" Harry i
Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes. "Everything. Like I said, the Malfoys are o
ld-fashioned. They would believe in a strict code of honor"
Ron let out an involuntary laugh at that. "The Malfoys? Honorable? Have you gone
completely mental?"
"If the two of you don't want to hear what I have to say"
"No. Keep going," Harry said quickly.
"Many old wizarding families, particularly the wealthy ones, live by, or at leas
t pretend to live by, some sort of code of honor."
"So you think Malfoy wouldn't have hurt Hedwig because it would have violated th
at code of honor?" Harry asked, still confused.
"Exactly," Hermione nodded. "Attacking a defenseless creature to get back at a w
izard would be viewed as weak and cowardly."
"But Hermione, there is nothing honorable about the Malfoy family!" Ron argued.
"They're a bunch of sneaky, slimy Slytherins, and everyone knows they were big s
upporters of You-Know-Who! They wouldn't care about Hedwig, or any other animal,
"I think you're missing the point," Hermione explained. "Of course they would be
nd the rules if they thought it was necessary to achieve their aims, but"

"You don't think Malfoy would?" Harry asked skeptically.

"Not for something like this," Hermione answered. "I think that Malfoy would lik
e to think that his family is honorable and noble, above other wizarding familie
s. And if he really wanted to get back at you, Harry, I would think that he woul
d come after you, not Hedwig."
"So you're saying that none of the rich, stuck-up Slytherins could have done it?
" Ron asked, the disbelief clear in his voice.
"Oh, I didn't say that. There are many other families who don't care so much abo
ut honor, or even appearing to have honor."
"Then who do you think did it?" Harry asked, still not quite willing to believe
that Hermione may be right.
"Well, we have to remember that whoever hurt Hedwig used poison. Now if a Slythe
rin did it, my guess is that it was a female."
"What?" Harry and Ron asked together.
Hermione let out another sigh. "Traditionally and historically speaking, women a
re believed to be the primary users of poison."
"But that's a load of rubbish," Ron argued. "Plenty of men have used poison."
"Yes, but remember that we're talking about old-fashioned wizarding families."
"So? A lot of them have still used poison."
"Probably as a last resort," Hermione answered. "But poisoning Hedwig was not th
e only option available to Malfoy, if he wanted to get revenge. I really don't t
hink it was him. He isn't desperate enough."
"So who is it then?" Harry asked once again.
"My guess... is Pansy Parkinson," Hermione finally revealed, just as they reache
d the classroom door.
"Pansy Parkinson?" Harry repeated, raising his eyebrows.
"Well, you did see her in the owlery with Malfoy, Harry. And have you noticed ho
w she's constantly fawning over him? I think she would do just about anything to
get him to notice her."
"So you think she was trying to impress Malfoy by getting to me? By hurting my o
wl?" Harry finally put the pieces together. "That's so"
"Twisted," Ron supplied, looking in horror at Hermione.
"Well, like I said. It's just a theory," the girl replied, dropping down into a
seat in the near empty classroom. "I can't prove anything, and I could be comple
tely wrong, so"
Hermione abruptly stopped speaking then as she glanced over her shoulder and saw
a group of Slytherins entering the room. Harry and Ron followed her gaze and th
en took their own seats, as well, carefully avoiding the Slytherins' eyes as the
y filed into the class and sat down on the other side of the room. Harry was sur
e that he had caught a quick glimpse of Malfoy, but he didn't dare look over in
that direction to confirm it.

And then only moments later, it seemed, the classroom was full and Gilderoy Lock
hart was standing in front of the class, flashing his smile, and waving a stack
of test papers in the air. Harry had to suppress a groan. He had nearly forgotte
n about the test today.
"You will have one hour to complete this test," Lockhart explained jovially, as
he began passing out the papers. "Now I know it's tempting, but don't start unti
l everyone has their paper. You will have plenty of time to answer all of the qu
estions, I promise you!"
Harry rolled his eyes at those words, and next to him, Ron was grimacing as if i
n pain. They exchanged a quick glance with each other and then made sure to keep
their heads down when Lockhart came over to place their test papers in front of
Not that it did any good.
"Harry! I'm surprised I haven't seen you in my office yet, wanting to get your t
extbooks signed!"
Harry wanted to disappear. He could feel the entire class staring at him in that
moment, and he found himself wishing that a hole would just open up in the floo
r and swallow him.
Would this man never leave him alone?
"I've been busy, sir," Harry responded tightly.
"Oh, of course. I figured as much, really. You only just got the books after all
," the professor replied in that same, exalted tone. He moved away then, much to
Harry's relief.
"You may begin!" Lockhart finally announced, after returning to the front of the
Harry flipped his paper over and read the first question:
1. What color were the robes that Gilderoy Lockhart was wearing on the day he me
t the Yeti? Describe the significance of such a wardrobe selection.
On one side, Harry heard Ron let out a quiet, strangled sound of despair, follow
ed by a groan.
On his other side, Hermione was already scribbling out an answer against the par
chment with her quill.
Harry closed his eyes then, and took a deep breath.
It was going to be a very long class period.

* * *

Harry felt a little flutter of nervousness in the pit of his stomach as he enter
ed the potions classroom later that evening. Despite the fact that detention wit
h Snape had not proven to be too terrible thus far, he just couldn't help but to

think about how angry the man had been earlier. There was really no telling wha
t he might do.
Harry looked over towards the sink, expecting to see a long line of cauldrons th
ere, waiting to be scrubbed clean.
But there were none. The countertop was spotless and bare. And Harry was suddenl
y even more nervous than he had been just a moment before. Because now, he had n
o idea what to expect. And in his opinion, there was nothing worse than the unkn
"No cauldrons, today, Mr. Potter," Snape drawled from the front of the classroom
, following Harry's gaze. "We'll be trying something a little different. Sit dow
Harry moved over to the table that Snape had indicated, his eyes cast downward a
s he took his seat.
"Before we begin, Potter, I should tell you that I have arranged for the remaind
er of your detentions to be carried out with Mr. Filch."
Harry's head immediately shot up in alarm. Detention with Filch? That didn't sou
nd good at all. "Sir?"
"You heard me, Potter. Do not make me repeat myself. You will report directly to
Mr. Filch tomorrow evening for your next detention. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered quietly, although he was secretly terrified at the ne
Filch was well known for threatening students with beatings and other horrible p
unishments, like hanging kids from the dungeon ceilings by their ankles or wrist
s. But although no one else really seemed to take him too seriously, Harry had a
lways been extra wary of the man. Uncle Vernon had never failed to follow throug
h on any of his threats, after all. Why should Filch be any different?
"Good," Snape replied, before waving his wand in Harry's direction, causing the
boy to flinch back in worry.
The professor rolled his eyes at the movement as quill and parchment popped into
existence on the table in front of Harry, along with an inkpot at the boy's elb
"I trust you are aware of exactly why you are here tonight, Mr. Potter?" the pot
ions master intoned, giving Harry little time to react to the items that had jus
t appeared out of thin air.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, wondering if Snape was going to make him write lines
"And you also know, I presume, why your actions earlier today were deemed unacce
"Yes, sir," Harry repeated automatically, looking down.
"Excellent," Snape said silkily. "Then you should have no problem in writing me
an essay on that very topic."
"An essay?" Harry asked, looking up at the professor with a frown.

"Yes, Potter, an essay. And I will accept no less than two feet on the subject."
"Two feet?"
"You may begin," Snape said, turning on his heel and striding back to his desk.
Harry just
ing a wand
dless, and

sighed and glared down at the parchment. A two-foot essay on why rais
against Malfoy was wrong? He suddenly wished that he could go back to
cauldrons. It was a tedious task, to be sure. But at least it was min
it didn't require him to think so much.

"Is there a problem, Mr. Potter?" Snape asked from where he was sitting at his d
esk, both of his eyebrows now raised.
"No, sir," Harry answered quickly, dipping his quill into the inkpot, and then s
etting the tip against the top of the page. He paused then, trying to decide how
to begin.
He wrote out the first two lines after a minute of contemplation, but was forced
to stop again when he was unsure of how to continue on after that. He knew that
pointing a wand at another student could potentially be dangerous, of course. B
ut how was he supposed to turn that into a two-foot essay? Where was Hermione wh
en you needed her?
Thinking about Hermione just then suddenly reminded Harry about his friend's str
ange theory regarding the whole Hedwig incident. Personally, he thought that the
girl was just overthinking the whole thing, going on about some warped sense of
honor in the Malfoy family. Did she not remember what Malfoy had called her? Wh
at kind of honorable person walked around calling other people mudbloods? It did
n't make sense!
Harry shook his head and tried to focus back on the task at hand. He needed to t
hink of something else to write or he'd be there all night, with Snape glaring d
aggers at him and practically breathing down his neck.
The minutes ticked away, and Harry
ing back to Malfoy, and to Hedwig.
n his owl's condition, he suddenly
would have said something if there

made little progress. His thoughts kept drift

He had forgotten to ask Snape for an update o
remembered after a while. But surely the man
had been any change, right? He wouldn't just

"How far have you gotten, Potter?" Snape's voice suddenly sliced through the sil
ence, startling Harry out of his thoughts.
Glancing down at his paper, Harry thought that he may have about six inches or s
"About half a foot," he answered nervously, afraid of what Snape's reaction woul
d be.
"Half a foot? What exactly have you been doing over there, Potter?" Snape asked
in disbelief, getting to his feet and heading over to where Harry sat.
"I can't think of what else to say," Harry replied, keeping his eyes averted fro
m the professor.
"And what exactly have you written about so far?" Snape questioned, stopping dir
ectly in front of Harry's table and crossing his arms.
"Well," Harry began anxiously, "Pointing a wand at people can be dangerous. Some
body could get hurt."

"Somebody could get killed," Snape corrected harshly.

"Right," Harry responded, quickly bending over his parchment to add another line
to his essay.
Snape just watched him in disbelief.
"Although, I wasn't planning on doing anything really bad to Malfoy," Harry stat
ed bravely, as he finished writing out his new sentence. "I was thinking of just
using a jelly-legs curse or a bat-bogey hex. Nothing too horrible."
The potions master just stared down his long nose at Harry for several long seco
nds before responding.
"Be that as it
and do happen
zards, such as
ed had you and

may," the man eventually replied in a tight voice, "accidents can

all the time, Mr. Potter. Especially with young, inexperienced wi
yourself. There is no telling what kind of damage may have occurr
Mr. Malfoy engaged in a wand duel."

Harry was scribbling out another couple of sentences, then, and Snape just conti
nued to watch him for a moment before running a hand tiredly down his face.
"Perhaps you should finish this essay as homework, Mr. Potter. I want you to tak
e some time to actually think about the topic."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, placing the quill back down on the desk, and waiting
silently for further instructions.
"You may go now, Potter," Snape said dismissively, waving towards the door.
"I can?" Harry found himself asking before he could stop himself. It had been a
fairly short detention, after all.
Snape rolled his eyes. "Well, I suppose I could require you to help prepare some
potions ingredients for me. But then again, I think that we have both had quite
enough of each other for one day, don't you, Mr. Potter?"
Harry got to his feet and rolled up his unfinished essay. "Yes, sir," he replied
softly. "Good night, sir."
Snape's eyebrows once again shot up as he watched Harry turn and walk slowly tow
ards the door. Since when did the Golden Boy tell him good night?
"Sir" Harry began, turning back for just a brief moment.
"I will give you an update on your owl just as soon as one is available, Mr. Pot
ter," Snape interrupted, sounding annoyed and exasperated.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, although he didn't immediately continue on his way.
"Was there something else on your mind, Potter?" Snape snapped at him.
Harry thought about the picture in his pocket for a second, but then shook his h
ead in the negative. He doubted Snape would want to answer any of his questions
about his mother just then.
"Then I suggest you return to Gryffindor tower," Snape stated firmly. "And don't
forget about your detention tomorrow."

"Yes, sir," Harry replied once again, before finally moving off towards the exit

* * *

Everything had started out well enough the following evening as Harry stood in t
he trophy room, polishing some awards during his first detention with Filch. The
man had simply shown him to a display case just inside the doorway, thrust a ra
g and some polish into his hands, and set him to the task of cleaning everything
in the case. The grumbling old caretaker had then stalked off, much to Harry's
Of course, the man did leave his beloved cat, Mrs. Norris, to "watch over the de
linquent" until he returned.
Harry looked down at the floor as he worked on polishing a large, silver trophy
in his hands, and smiled at the feline who was staring back up at him intently.
"How are you, Mrs. Norris?" he asked quietly.
The cat hissed and flicked her tail in response.
But Harry wasn't the least bit discouraged. Some of Mrs. Figg's cats were diffic
ult to get along with, too. But he had discovered that they all came around even
tually. You just needed to know how to talk to them.
"I'm sorry you got stuck with me tonight," the boy continued. "I'm sure you woul
d much rather be hunting down mice or curling up in front of a fireplace somewhe
re, wouldn't you?"
The cat just continued to stare up at him with her bulging, yellow eyes.
"I know we didn't get off to a very good start last year," Harry said. "I think
that was more my fault than yours, though. I was out of bed when I shouldn't hav
e been."
Mrs. Norris let out another hiss, though Harry thought that there was a lot less
feeling in it that time.
"I know, I know. But that doesn't mean that we can't still be friends, right?"
The cat's tail swished back and forth for a few seconds, and Harry turned back t
o his work to give the feline some time to think things over.
A minute passed. Then two. Harry finally finished polishing the silver trophy an
d moved on to a big plaque dedicated to the 1967 Hogwarts Gobstones Championship
But it was several minutes later before he finally felt something furry rubbing
up against the side of his leg, demanding his attention.
Harry looked down at the purring cat and smiled widely. "Does this mean we're fr
iends now?" he inquired, replacing the plaque in the display case before crouchi
ng down to scratch behind Mrs. Norris' ears.
The cat purred louder and raised her head up so that Harry could scratch her nec

k and chin.
Harry laughed and shook his head. "Maybe later, okay? I need to get back to work
now, before your master shows up and sees both of us slacking off."
Mrs. Norris suddenly turned then, and let out a strange noise that Harry thought
was meant to be a warning. He stood up quickly, turning in the same direction a
Harry stumbled backwards as the cackling laughter of the school poltergeist sudd
enly filled his ears. And a second later, there was a sickening feeling in the p
it of Harry's stomach as he felt the display case behind him suddenly begin to t
opple forward.
He dove to the side, only just managing to get out of the way before the entire
case crashed against the floor.
The sound was deafening. Harry cringed and covered his ears, frozen in shock as
Peeves zoomed around and around in circles, laughing and pointing both at Harry,
and at the mess of shattered glass, splintered wood, and dinged-up trophies on
the ground.
"Ooohhh, Potty wee Potter is in trouble now!" he taunted.
Harry was in too much shock to even respond.
Moments later then, pounding footsteps could be heard out in the corridor, and s
oon Filch was flying into the room, skidding to a halt in front of the ruined di
splay case.
Harry wanted to run. He wanted to escape the trophy room and just run. Because t
here was no doubt in his mind that Filch was going to murder him now. He could s
ee it in the man's eyes as he finally began stalking towards him, carefully avoi
ding the debris as he walked.
"You'll get the cane for this one, Potter. Oh, you mark my words. You'll get the
cane!" Filch roared.
Harry flinched, his arms flying up in defense as he attempted to back away from
the man.
But there was nowhere to go. Harry backed right into the wall, and Filch was sti
ll coming for him, reaching out, grabbing for his shoulder.
Harry let out a whimper then, and squeezed his eyes shut.
And then another voice reached his ears, and Harry's eyes flew open again.
"What is going on here?" the voice demanded, echoing off the walls.
Harry let out a small breath of relief, then, and lowered his arms from his face
For there, standing in the entryway was none other than Severus Snape.
And Harry had never been so happy to see the man in his entire life.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading everyone! Please feel free to let me know what you think

Calming Draught
A/N: Thanks for all of the wonderful reviews for last chapter, everyone! I hope
you enjoy Chapter 19!

* * *

Severus took just one swift glance around the trophy room before quickly decidin
g that he had no one to blame but himself.
It had been foolish to believe, really, that passing the Golden Boy off to someb
ody else would be a good idea. The boy was a magnet for trouble, and it would ta
ke someone with actual competence to keep the child in line.
"What is going on here?" he asked harshly, his voice echoing throughout the room
It was only then that he got a better look at the scene playing out before him.
Filch was standing in front of the boy, his fingertips barely an inch away from
clamping down on the child's shoulder. And Potter himself was cringing back, a t
error present in his eyes that quickly morphed into something like relief when h
e caught sight of his potions professor.
Severus frowned and raised his eyebrows at that. Why would Potter be happy to se
e him? And why was he practically cowering in a corner? This boy was supposed to
be the epitome of Gryffindor fearlessness and bravery. Wasn't he?
The caretaker turned then, a crazed expression occupying his features. "Just loo
k what he's done, professor! Look at what he's done!"
"I-I didn't, sir," the boy spoke up softly, still attempting to shrink away from
Filch's hovering hand. "I-it was Peeves. He just...knocked the whole thing over
"A likely story," Filch growled, turning back to the terrified boy.
"It's true, sir," Harry continued, looking directly at Snape as he spoke.
"You're a liar!" the caretaker countered. "I turn my back for five minutes and"

"Argus," Snape intervened then, stepping further into the room, "Do you mean to
say that you left Mr. Potter in here alone? Even after I warned you about the tr
ouble the boy invites at every turn? The child cannot be left unsupervised for f
ive seconds, let alone five minutes."
"Well, I won't be making that mistake again," Filch ground out, rounding on Harr
y once more, whose eyes widened even more at that statement.
"I should say not," Snape answered silkily. "Because Mr. Potter will be coming w
ith me."
Filch's mouth opened for a moment, as though the man was going to argue, but he
quickly snapped it shut again a second later when he caught sight of the dangero
us gleam in Snape's eyes.
Meanwhile, Harry just eyed the professor warily, still too terrified to move fro
m where he was pressed up against the wall.
"Have you suddenly gone deaf, Mr. Potter?" Snape snapped impatiently at the boy.
"I said you are coming with me. Now let's go."
"Y-yes, sir," Harry stuttered, finally stumbling away from the wall and hurrying
over to where Snape stood, waiting.
"Wait a minute," Filch called out. "Who's going to clean up this mess?"
"I would imagine that the house elves will be able to help you with that," Snape
said dismissively, turning towards the exit. After all, he certainly wasn't goi
ng to waste any more of his time helping the useless fool. Even if it would only
take a moment or so of waving his wand through the air to set the whole room ba
ck to rights.
With one last glance over his shoulder then, the potions master was sweeping out
of the room, and Harry quickly scurried after him, leaving one very distraught
caretaker behind in the trophy room.

* * *

Harry followed the professor down several corridors, still very much shaken by w
hat had just occurred. He had been so sure that Filch was going to hurt him. So
sure that he was going to get a beating for what Peeves had done to the display
case. And for a moment there, when he had been flattened up against the wall wit
h his arms up over his head, it had almost felt like he had been back home with
the Dursleys. And Uncle Vernon had been the one coming for him rather than Filch
A shiver traveled down Harry's spine at that thought, and he could suddenly feel
his heart racing in his chest as old memories began to surface in his mind. It
was becoming more and more difficult to breathe then, and finally, Harry was for
ced to stop walking as his hands flew to his chest, and his eyes began darting a
round the corridor, almost as though he didn't quite recognize his surroundings.
Several feet ahead, Severus Snape whirled around at the sound of the child's lab
ored breathing, and swore softly under his breath as he hurried back to where th
e boy was now leaning heavily against the wall.

Harry continued to gasp for air, his entire body trembling as he slowly began to
slide down the wall. He thought there might be a voice somewhere nearby, and a
hand gently guiding him to the floor, but he couldn't make out any words or reco
gnize who it was that was speaking. And then something was being pressed against
his lips, and he instinctively swallowed as he felt the liquid enter his mouth.
"Potter. Look at me. Potter."
Harry blinked, and instantly, the air returned to his lungs and the corridor cam
e back into focus. He could feel all of the tension completely draining away fro
m his body then, and an overwhelming sense of peace suddenly overtook him.
"What happened?" Harry finally managed to say, as he gazed up at the man who was
leaning over him.
Snape sighed and waved his wand to cast a privacy spell over the corridor.
"You had a panic attack, Mr. Potter," he answered at last. "And a nasty one at t
Harry leaned his head back against the wall. "What did you give me?" he asked qu
"A calming draught," Snape replied. "Now be quiet for a minute, Potter. And rest
But Harry didn't seem to hear that last part. "You just happen to carry calming
draughts around with you, sir?"
"I spend my days in a classroom full of dunderheaded children who have the poten
tial to blow the place up at any moment," Snape stated. "I have therefore develo
ped the habit of keeping a couple vials on my person at all times."
"That's smart of you, sir," Harry whispered in somewhat of a daze. "Since you're
around dunderheads so much."
Snape just rolled his eyes. "That potion is making you sound ridiculous, Potter.
"What? Why would it do that?"
"Because you needed a child's calming draught, and all I had was the adult versi
on, which is far more potent and powerful. Now be quiet and rest for a minute."
"Okay," Harry replied, and Snape rolled his eyes again.
A full five seconds passed then before Harry opened his mouth once more. "I didn
't knock over the display case, sir. It really was Peeves."
"I don't doubt it," Snape said absently, glancing down the corridor to ensure th
at they were still alone. "Now be quiet. I think I hear someone."
Harry looked down the corridor too, and broke out into a smile a second later wh
en he saw a small shape move out of the shadows. "Mrs. Norris! You're okay. You
must have been so scared..."
"Get out of here you mangy little" Snape began in a growl.
"No, professor. It's okay. We're friends now. Aren't we, Mrs. Norris?"

"Now I know the potion was too strong," Snape grumbled as he watched Harry exten
d a hand out towards the no doubt disease-ridden creature. Nobody became friends
with Filch's pet, after all. There was nothing friendly about the beast.
But then in the next moment, the scrawny feline was leaping forward, landing rig
ht in Harry's lap, and all Snape could do was stare down in shock as the boy beg
an to stroke the cat's fur and speak softly in her ear.
Snape just raised his eyes towards the ceiling then, as though he was praying fo
r strength. But eventually, he spoke again.
"Nothing can ever just be normal with you, can it Potter?"
Harry frowned at that, suddenly feeling ashamed. His aunt and uncle didn't think
he was normal either. To them he was nothing more than a strange, abnormal, fre
"I'm sorry, sir," Harry finally whispered, ducking his head.
"Oh for the love of...Your emotions are all over the place because of that potio
n, Potter," Snape sounded annoyed. "Do you think you can stand now?"
"I-think so," the boy answered, gathering Mrs. Norris up in his arms as he attem
pted to push to his feet.
"Foolish child, put the cat down," Snape growled, moving forward to assist the b
Harry gently set the feline down on the floor, and then Snape was pulling him to
his feet and leading him down the hallway once more, Mrs. Norris following clos
e on their heels.
They stopped at the doorway to an empty classroom, and the professor threw it op
en and ushered the boy inside.
"Away with you now," the man spoke harshly to the cat at his feet. "Go find your
master. Go on."
Mrs. Norris simply let out a hiss towards the potions master in response before
reluctantly turning away and slinking off back down the corridor.
Snape just shook his head before stepping into the classroom after Harry, and cl
osing the door behind him.
"What are we doing here, sir?" Harry asked, standing awkwardly in the middle of
the room.
"I need to decide whether or not you need to be taken to the hospital wing," Sna
pe answered, taking in Harry's appearance with a critical eye.
"I feel fine," Harry responded, suddenly uncomfortable.
"Largely due to the calming draught, I would expect," the man replied. "It was a
rather strong dose, as I said. Now tell me, Potter. Do you suffer from panic at
tacks often?"
"No, sir. Never."
"Would you be able to explain what brought this one on?" Snape pressed.

Harry shrugged, and mumbled something unintelligible.

"I cannot hear you, Mr. Potter."
"Well, Peeves just came out of nowhere...And then Filch...He was going to cane m
"You surprise me, Potter," Snape interrupted, and Harry frowned in confusion.
"The cane has not been used as a form of punishment at Hogwarts for the better p
art of a century. You mean to tell me you did not know this?"
Harry shook his head, looking down at his hands.
Snape sighed before continuing. "Mr. Filch may seem threatening at times, Mr. Po
tter. But he is, for the most part, completely harmless. He wouldn't dare inflic
t an unauthorized form of discipline on a student."
"Oh," Harry answered simply.
"I really had no good reason to panic then, did I?" Harry whispered into the sil
ence of the room.
Snape watched Harry carefully for a moment before replying with the faintest tra
ce of a sneer in his voice. "Well, for a child who has never before experienced
corporal punishment, I suppose I can see where you would be...less than enthused
at the prospect."
Harry shifted uncomfortably where he stood, carefully avoiding Snape's eyes as h
e quickly changed the subject.
"What about my detentions, sir? Will I still be serving them with Filch?"
"No," Snape suddenly sounded irritated and extremely put-upon. "Your detentions
will resume again with me, Potter. Down in the dungeons."
Harry really hoped that the relief he suddenly felt at that news was not evident
on his face.
"Okay, sir," he said in reply.
Snape sighed then. "If there is nothing else, Mr. Potter, you will return to Gry
ffindor tower immediately. Unless of course you think you need to see Madam Pomf
Harry shook his head. "No, sir. I feel fine."
"Somehow I doubt that you would tell me if you didn't feel fine."
"But I do. Honest."
Snape paused for a moment before giving an answer, making sure to give the child
one final look-over before responding.
"Then let's be on our way, Mr. Potter."

Harry frowned. "You're not escorting me back, are you? I'm not going to collapse
in a corridor, you know."
"Believe me, Mr. Potter. I have no desire to escort you anywhere. However, as I
stated back in the trophy room, I believe it would be unwise to leave you unsupe
rvised in this castle for even a moment, and so we will simply have to put up wi
th each other's company for the next few minutes."
Harry huffed in annoyance, although the calming draught kept him from getting to
o upset. "I can walk by myself," he grumbled out, although Snape seemed to ignor
e that statement completely.
"Shall we, Mr. Potter?" the man drawled out, as he strode over to the exit and o
pened the door.
Knowing that it would be pointless to argue or protest any further then, Harry j
ust let out a soft sigh, and proceeded to follow his potions professor out into
the empty corridor.

* * *

A/N: Harry/Snape interactions are my favorite :) They're so much fun to write! A

s always, thanks for reading!

A/N: Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter out everyone. I ended up taking
a spontaneous road trip with my family to go visit my sister and niece in South
Carolina for a few days, and so I was unable to get any writing done during tha
t time. But I'm back home now, and Chapter 20 is finally done!

* * *

There were only a handful of students and teachers already present in the Great
Hall when Harry came down to breakfast on Friday morning. And after a quick glan
ce around the room, he wasted no time in sliding into a seat at the end of the G
ryffindor table, and pulling a bowl of eggs closer to his plate. He was just tha
nkful that he would have at least a few peaceful minutes to himself.
He had hardly gotten any sleep at all the previous night. He had tossed and turn
ed for hours, battling against what he thought must have been some pretty nasty
nightmares. It was hard to recall very many of the details, though, once he was
startled awake. But he was pretty sure there had been hissing at some point. Lot

s and lots of hissing that had filled his ears and his head and his mind until t
hat sound had been all that was left in the world...
But Harry couldn't remember anything else.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted then, when he caught a glimpse of red out
of the corner of his eye. For a moment, he thought it might be Ron or one of hi
s brothers walking into the Hall. But upon turning his head, he realized that it
was actually the youngest Weasley, Ginny. And she didn't spare Harry even a gla
nce as she quickly walked past where he was sitting to take a seat near the othe
r end of the table.
Harry frowned as he watched the girl open a book and begin scribbling almost fra
ntically inside of it. Somehow, he got the impression that she hadn't slept very
well either last night. She was probably homesick, or stressing out over her fi
rst year classes. Either way, he would have to make sure to tell Ron or his brot
hers to check up on her later. They should be able to help her adjust to her new
school environment. It was one of the many advantages Harry imagined must come
from having some older siblings.
He turned back to his breakfast a minute later, and used his fork to push the sm
all pile of scrambled eggs around on his plate. He really wasn't all that hungry
now that he thought about it. He let out a sigh then, and stood up from the tab
le, making the quick decision to just go to the library again to continue his re
search project.
And then a high-pitched giggle sounded throughout the hall, and Harry recognized
it almost immediately. It belonged to one of the Slytherin second-years who had
been laughing along with Malfoy just seconds before Harry had jabbed a wand in
the blond boy's face.
Turning towards the source of the noise, he first noticed Malfoy sitting at the
Slytherin table, several books and scrolls of parchment laid out before him. And
standing behind him was none other than Pansy Parkinson, who was still laughing
loudly and drawing quite a bit of attention to herself and Malfoy.
Harry quickly noted with a touch of amusement that the blond didn't seem to be t
oo happy about this. He had a scowl plastered across his face, anyway, that sugg
ested his possible annoyance with the second year girl.
"Well, I'll let you finish your homework, Draco," Pansy finally said as her laug
hter eventually died down. "See you in class?"
Malfoy grunted in response, but did not look up as the girl began walking away.
Of course that was when Pansy noticed that Harry was standing there, watching, a
nd her face suddenly broke out into a malicious grin.
"Hey, Potter!" she called out, and Harry had to wonder why he hadn't just left w
hen he had the chance.
"I need to send a letter home to my parents," the girl continued, "Do you think
I might be able to borrow your owl?"
Harry could feel his face heating up as both of his hands balled up into fists.
The girl let out another quick laugh then before turning away and practically sk
ipping out of the Hall, without waiting for any kind of response.
Not wanting to see Malfoy's reaction, Harry turned back towards the Gryffindor t
able and scooped up his schoolbag. He would have left then. At that moment, he w
anted nothing more than to get as far away from the Great Hall as possible.

But of course he had to glance over at the staff table. And there was Snape, gaz
ing back at him with those penetrating eyes. And McGonagall, who was sitting dir
ectly next to him, was looking too.
Harry sighed. He knew what he had to do. And if he didn't do it now, he knew tha
t Snape would make him do it eventually. And then the circumstances may not be a
s favorable as they were now, when Malfoy was all alone, with none of his friend
s around to hear.
Finally making up his mind, Harry strode over to the Slytherin table and glared
angrily down at Malfoy, who was currently staring up at Harry with an unreadable
expression on his face.
"I'm sorry I raised my wand against you. It was wrong, and irresponsible, and I
shouldn't have done it. I was just upset," Harry gritted out through clenched te
"I think you're still upset," Draco drawled, eyebrows raised.
But Harry didn't respond. He was done speaking with the other boy.
And so without another word, he turned on his heel and stalked out of the Hall.

* * *

Anger continued to course through Harry as he climbed the grand staircase and he
aded off towards the library. He couldn't believe that she had laughed. She had
actually laughed about Hedwig being poisoned, and there had been absolutely noth
ing he could do about it.
Harry turned onto a narrow side corridor and leaned against the wall for a momen
t as he attempted to calm down, but it was proving to be rather difficult. His m
ind kept running through what had just happened, and he couldn't help but wonder
if maybe Hermione had been right, after all.
What if it had been Pansy Parkinson who had hurt Hedwig?
Frustrated, Harry turned then and did the only thing that he could think to do i
n that moment.
He threw a fist at the stone wall.
And his knuckles exploded in pain.
Hissing and biting down hard on his lip, Harry immediately cradled the injured h
and to his chest and sucked in a deep breath.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," he whispered through clenched teeth. He closed his eye
s then, and leaned his forehead against the wall.
A minute or two passed, and Harry remained completely still, listening to the so
unds of the castle as his hand continued to throb in pain.
"What are you doing, Potter?" a harsh voice suddenly sounded from behind him.

Startled, Harry jumped away from the wall and stared up at the potions professor
with wide eyes. Where had he come from? Was the man following him now?
"Nothing, sir," the boy's response finally came.
Snape's eyes narrowed as he glared down at him, and Harry realized just a second
too late that he was still holding his hand tight against his chest.
"Hold out your hand, Potter. Now."
Harry hesitated for a moment, but then reluctantly complied, knowing it would be
useless to argue against the dungeon bat.
Snape grabbed the boy's wrist and quickly inspected his fingers. Harry looked aw
ay, his face heating up with embarrassment at the situation.
The professor looked from the bruised knuckles to the stone wall behind Harry, a
nd almost immediately made the connection.
"Of all the stupid, idiotic things..." he growled in disbelief.
Harry just continued to stare off to the side, his heart racing in his chest.
"Can you move your fingers?" the man demanded.
Harry nodded and attempted to pull away, but Snape refused to relinquish his hol
"Show me that you can, Mr. Potter. Now. I do not have all day."
Harry suppressed a sigh, and obediently began to move each of the fingers on his
injured hand in turn, wincing at the ache and the pain in his knuckles.
Finally, Snape released his hand and Harry took a couple steps away from the man
"Follow me, Mr. Potter," Snape said then in his commanding tone.
And Harry had little choice but to obey.

* * *

"What, Potter?" Snape whirled around and glared down at Harry just as the two of
them reached the professor's office door.
Harry swallowed and looked down at the floor before eventually asking his questi
"What are we doing, sir?" Harry's voice trembled with nerves. "Shouldn't I go se
e Madam Pomfrey about my hand?"
"And waste even more of my time than you already have?" Snape demanded.
Harry instinctively hunched his shoulders, and took a step back. But he did not

look up or respond.
"I will tend to your hand myself, Mr. Potter. It will save me the time of having
to track you down again."
Harry frowned in confusion, peeking up at the professor through his fringe. "Sir
Snape rolled his eyes and reached for the door. "I wanted to give you an update
on your familiar, Mr. Potter."
"Hedwig?" Harry asked, immediately perking up. "Is she alright? Is she still sic
k? What?"
Snape just sighed and flung the door open.
Without waiting for an invitation then, Harry hurried into the room and within s
econds, his eyes landed on the snowy white owl, resting on a perch near Snape's
"Hedwig!" Harry exclaimed happily, rushing over to her side.
The owl returned the enthusiastic greeting with a small hoot of her own, before
leaning forward to give the boy an affectionate nip to the fingers of his uninju
red hand.
Harry beamed and began to stroke the bird's feathers as he continued to talk exc
"Oh, I've missed you, girl. I was so worried! You scared me half to death"
"Calm yourself, Mr. Potter. And sit down," the potions professor sounded extreme
ly irritated. "I need to look at your hand, and your owl still needs to rest."
Harry frowned as he looked over towards his teacher. "She will be okay, won't sh
e, sir?"
Snape scowled as he grabbed Harry's shoulder and guided him over to the chair in
front of his desk, pushing him down into it. "She will make a full recovery, Mr
. Potter. But she should not fly very long distances for at least another week,
and she will need plenty of rest and quiet."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, immediately subdued.
Snape jerked his head in approval and then thrust a small vial into the boy's ha
Harry brought the potion up to eye-level and glared at it dubiously.
"Drink it, Potter," Snape snapped. "It won't kill you."
"But it'll taste bad," Harry argued, uncorking the tiny bottle.
"It's a pain reliever," Snape said impatiently. "Drink it and I'll mend your fin
With a grimace, Harry swallowed the potion down in one gulp. "Yuck!" he commente
d with a cough.
"You have no one to blame but yourself," Snape said unsympathetically, taking th

e empty bottle from Harry and setting it down on his desk. Then he took the boy'
s hand carefully in his own, and once again examined the damage.
"Of all the foolish, ridiculous, Gryffindor things to do, Potter..." Snape grumb
led, shaking his head in disbelief as he pulled his wand out from within the fol
ds of his robes. "Why on earth would you punch a wall?"
Harry looked down at his lap and shrugged. "I was angry," he mumbled.
"I had surmised that much information on my own, Mr. Potter," Snape drawled. "No
w look at me and tell me exactly what it was that made you so upset."
Harry sighed as he raised his eyes to the professor's. Why did Snape always insi
st that he look at him when he spoke? That was the exact opposite of what Uncle
Vernon and Aunt Petunia had always wanted. They hated when Harry made eye contac
t with them.
"I don't know," Harry whispered.
Snape raised his eyebrows. "Really? I would have thought it may have something t
o do with what transpired in the Great Hall at breakfast."
A sharp sting spread throughout Harry's bruised knuckles as Snape waved his wand
over them, causing the boy to let out a hiss of pain.
"It would have been far worse without the pain reliever," Snape commented.
Harry nodded, as the sting slowly faded away. "She made a joke about Hedwig," he
finally managed to say. Not that you care, he added silently to himself.
"You mean Miss Parkinson, I presume?" the man asked, having obviously watched th
e whole encounter that morning from the staff table.
Harry nodded, turning to face his owl. "I just got angry."
"You need to learn to control that temper of yours," Snape said, his tone severe
. "It'll only get you into trouble later on."
"I didn't know what else to do," Harry defended himself weakly. "I didn't really
think about it. I just...did it."
"And therein lies the problem, Mr. Potter. You never think before you act. You j
ust charge into any situation blindly without any thought at all for the consequ
Harry pulled his hand away from the professor's grip and stood up. He wasn't in
the mood for a lecture just now.
"I should probably get going now, sir," he quickly changed the subject, once aga
in stroking Hedwig's feathers. "Classes will be starting soon."
Snape sighed as he regarded the boy carefully for a few seconds. "The bruising o
n your knuckles should disappear by tomorrow. Does your hand hurt at all?"
Harry shook his head in the negative. "No, sir."
The man continued to stare down at him for another long moment before finally sp
eaking again.
"Do not be late for your detention tonight, Mr. Potter. We will be continuing th

is discussion at that time. And also be sure to bring your potions textbook with
you, as well."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, the note of worry clear in his voice. What else was
there to talk about? And why would he need to bring along his potions textbook?
That didn't sound good.
Although anything had to be better than detention with Filch, the boy thought a
second later, remembering the previous evening's events.
Snape nodded his dismissal then, and Harry hurried over to the exit.
"She will be okay, right?" Harry suddenly turned back to ask, needing the reassu
rance as he looked over at Hedwig one last time.
"Yes, Mr. Potter," came the exasperated response. "Your owl will be just fine."
A smile spread across Harry's face then. Another one of those big, lopsided grin
s that reminded Severus so much of Lily.
"Thank you for saving her, sir," the boy suddenly blurted out, and from the grat
itude in his voice, there could be no doubt that the child was sincere in his wo
But before the surprised potions master could even think of formulating a respon
se, Harry was fleeing the classroom, and Severus was left to just shake his head
in wonder at what he had just heard.
Because never in a million years would he ever have expected to hear a "thank yo
u" come out of the mouth of the son of James Potter.
But what about the son of Lily Evans? the voice in his head suddenly asked.
Severus scowled and once again pushed that voice to the back of his mind, before
turning back to his desk to gather together all of the paperwork he would need
for the day's classes ahead.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading! I'll work on getting the next chapter out soon :)

Making a Deal
A/N: I would just like to send out a quick "Thank You" to one of my guest review
ers, HPbabyy, who pointed out an error last chapter that, even after having read
the whole thing through about 10 times or so, I still didn't catch (I guess tha
t's what I get for doing my editing at 3 in the morning). Anyway, the situation
has since been remedied, and I thank you again for pointing it out.

Enjoy Chapter 21!

* * *

"No, Ronald. This whole paragraph is wrong. You got all of the wand movements ba
ckwards. The spell would never work the way you described."
Ron scowled as Hermione slid his Transfiguration essay back across the table bef
ore turning her attention back on her own work.
"I still don't see why we should even bother with any of this stuff on a Friday
night," Ron grumbled, glaring down at the piece of parchment with contempt. "I d
on't feel like doing homework, right now."
His eyes wandered over to an opposite corner of the common room, then, where Fre
d and George and several of their friends were currently engaged in a very loud
and very lively round of Exploding Snap.
Hermione just shook her head as she carefully wrote out another line of her essa
y. "You'll both thank me later. Come Sunday night when everyone else is scrambli
ng to get all of their work done at the last minute"
"But Harry's not doing his homework, either," Ron pointed out, gesturing towards
the boy in question, who was sitting silently in a chair to Hermione's left.
Harry looked up at the sound of his name to find both of his friends staring at
"Oh, sorry," he said. "I was just"
"Where did that picture come from, Harry?" Hermione asked curiously, leaning ove
r to get a better look at what Harry was staring at.
"Oh, so it's okay for him to slack off," Ron complained under his breath, crossi
ng his arms.
Harry hesitated for a moment. He wondered if he should just shove the picture ba
ck into his pocket, and pretend that it wasn't anything important.
But in the next second, he realized how silly that sounded. He didn't need to hi
de this from Ron and Hermione. They were his friends. They weren't going to try
to take it away from him.
And so finally, he passed the photograph over. "I found it at my aunt and uncle'
s house," he lied smoothly.
Hermione took the picture of the young girl and the dog in her hand and studied
it for a few seconds. "Is this?"
"My mother," Harry supplied, his eyes finding the picture once more.
Ron leaned across the table to get a better look. "She looks like you," he obser
"Yeah, the eyes. I know," Harry answered, his gaze still focused on the young Li
ly Evans.

"Not just that," Hermione chimed in. "Look at her expression. You smile exactly
like her, Harry."
"I do?" Harry asked, surprised, looking more closely at his mother's smile.
"Yes, you do. Though admittedly, I haven't seen much of a smile from you, lately
," Hermione sounded almost reproachful.
"There hasn't been much to smile about," Harry countered.
Neither Ron nor Hermione argued with him on that point. Between fights and deten
tions and getting kicked out of class, not to mention Hedwig getting poisoned, n
o one could disagree that Harry's second year hadn't started out particularly we
"It'll get better, mate," Ron eventually said, and Hermione nodded her head in a
"Thanks, guys," Harry said with a sigh, getting to his feet.
"Where are you going?" Ron asked, frowning.
"Detention," was the simple reply.
Ron grimaced and gave Harry a look of sympathy.
"What does 'A Thousand Words' mean, Harry?" Hermione suddenly questioned, as she
passed the photograph back to him after taking a moment to glance at the back.
"Don't know," Harry answered, tucking the picture back inside his robes. "All I
can think is that it must have something to do with that saying"
"A picture is worth a thousand words," Hermione recited. "That was my first thou
ght, too."
"What?" Ron asked, confused.
"It's an old muggle saying," Hermione quickly explained. "But why did someone wr
ite those words on the back of your mother's picture?"
Harry just shrugged as he pulled his schoolbag up onto his shoulder, his thought
s momentarily wandering to Snape. "I have no idea."

* * *

Harry made his way down through the castle, thinking about his mother's picture
as he went. He was glad that he had finally shared it with his friends. Because
now, he no longer felt like he needed to protect it or hide it away where nobody
could see it.
He wondered for a moment if he would have felt the same way if he had still had
the other picture, the one that Snape had been a part of.
He really couldn't be sure.

Lost in thought then, Harry rounded the next corner, hardly paying any attention
to where he was going...
And nearly ran right into someone, traveling in the opposite direction.
"Sorry, Professor," Harry was quick to apologize, automatically taking a step ba
ck and lowering his eyes as he recognized his head of house.
Professor McGonagall frowned at the behavior as she regarded Harry with curious
"That is quite alright, Mr. Potter. There is no harm done. I suppose you are on
your way to detention now?"
Harry nodded, looking up. "Yes, ma'am."
McGonagall paused for a moment, and Harry found himself suddenly nervous at what
might be coming next.
"I spoke with Professor Snape earlier today," the woman finally continued. "Amon
g other things, he informed me that you recently had a panic attack?"
Harry's stomach twisted in embarrassment. "Yes, ma'am," he eventually answered.
"But I'm fine now. Professor Snape helped me."
McGonagall's normally severe expression softened a bit. "Are you sure?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
There was another brief pause before the Transfiguration professor spoke again.
"Then I won't keep you any longer. But I would like you to come to my office tom
orrow morning."
"For a detention?" Harry's face suddenly fell. Would he ever get out of trouble?
"No, Mr. Potter. Not a detention. I would just like to discuss a few things with
"Okay," Harry answered, not exactly sure how he felt about the situation.
"Then I shall see you tomorrow. After quidditch practice, I should think."
"Quidditch practice?"
"Oh yes. The issue regarding the quidditch pitch has been resolved at last," McG
onagall stated. "And I do believe Wood is already planning out how to make up fo
r lost time."
Harry had to suppress a sigh as he thought briefly about Oliver.
"Yeah, I bet he is," the young boy thought to himself.

* * *

"Sit down, Mr. Potter," the potions master drawled out as soon as Harry entered

the classroom. The man was sitting at his desk, writing something out on a piece
of parchment, and he hadn't even looked up when the Gryffindor had come in.
Harry walked over to the table that was closest to the teacher's desk and sat do
wn. Quill, ink, and parchment had already been laid out for him. It looked like
he was going to be doing some more writing tonight.
"I trust you remembered to bring your textbook?" the professor asked, still scra
tching away at the parchment with his quill.
"Yes, sir," Harry bent down to pull his potions book out of the bag lying at his
Once the textbook was in his hands, Harry straightened once more to place the bo
ok on the surface in front of him, only to flinch back violently when he realize
d that Snape was now standing directly in front of his table.
Snape completely ignored the reaction, and began speaking instead. "Before you b
egin your assignment for the evening, Mr. Potter, I would like to continue our e
arlier discussion about your actions today."
Harry frowned. He had really hoped that the man would have forgotten about that.
"Tell me, Mr. Potter," Snape continued then. "What is one thing you could have d
one differently today in order to keep your temper in check?"
Harry's frown deepened, and his brow furrowed in thought. "I guess I could have
not punched a wall?" he eventually answered, unable to think of anything better
to say.
"There really is no limit to your intelligence, is there, Mr. Potter?" Snape res
ponded mockingly.
Harry stayed quiet as he felt his face heat up in embarrassment.
"Now what, pray tell, could you have done instead?" the professor demanded.
Harry just shrugged, unable to come up with an acceptable answer under the press
ing gaze of the potions master. "I don't know."
"Think, Mr. Potter. Try to actually use that brain of yours for once," Snape pra
ctically snarled. "I will be asking you this question again sometime in the near
future. And then, I will be expecting an actual response."
Snape paused then, to ensure that his message would be taken seriously, before c
ontinuing with his next words.
"In the meantime, you will begin on tonight's assignment." Snape then reached ov
er, grabbed a roll of parchment from his desk, and dropped it down on the table
in front of Harry.
Harry reached forward and picked up the parchment, unrolling it with nervous han
"My homework essay?" Harry asked, as he recognized his own handwriting on the pa
rchment. It was the essay on fever reducers he had turned in during the last pot
ions class. Only now it was also covered in red ink from the potions master, whe
rever the man had saw fit to write out some scathing remarks or harsh comments a
s he had corrected the paper.

"You will rewrite this essay, tonight, Mr. Potter. Only this time, you will put
some actual effort into the assignment. Your work ethic has been absolutely dism
al up to this point, and I refuse to accept it any longer."
Harry could feel himself growing angry. His work wasn't that bad. He knew for a
fact that his potions essays were always better than Ron's. And he did put effor
t into his homework. Snape was obviously just singling him out because he didn't
like him very much.
"You may begin," Snape stated, gliding back over towards his desk. "Oh, and Mr.
Harry looked up to meet Snape's eyes.
"I want that two-foot essay from our previous detention on my desk by Monday mor
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, suppressing a sigh.

* * *

Harry finished rewriting the first paragraph of his essay. This time, he had mad
e sure to expand upon the setup process of the potion, and explain why it was so
important to do everything in exactly the right order.
That had seemed to be Snape's biggest problem with the introduction, anyway. It
was kind of hard to tell though, when most of the man's written comments were fu
ll of jabs and insults, rather than constructive criticism.
"Professor?" Harry's soft voice cut through the silence of the room.
"What is it, Potter?" Snape asked, his voice sounding especially annoyed as he l
ooked up from his work for a moment.
"Could you check the introduction, sir? To see if it's, um...okay?"
There was a long pause as Snape put his quill back to the parchment he was worki
ng on and wrote out another few words.
"Bring it here, Mr. Potter," he finally replied without looking up. And Harry wa
s quick to obey.
The boy stood up and went to stand at the end of Snape's desk, waiting silently
for the man to finish whatever he was writing.
A minute later, Snape finally put down his quill, and then turned to Harry, hold
ing a hand out expectantly.
Harry passed him the essay and then waited with bated breath as the professor re
ad through the beginning paragraph.
"This is very poor work, Potter. Did you not even read the comments I left for y
ou on your first essay?" the man sneered, passing the paper back with a dismissi
ve air.
"Yes," Harry bit out defensively. "I did read them, sir. I thought this is what

you wanted."
"What I want, Potter, is for you to explain your statements. Why is it important
to have all of the ingredients properly sliced and prepared before lighting the
"Because you have to add all the ingredients really quickly. You wouldn't have t
ime to cut something up in the middle of the brewing process. That's what I wrot
e in my essay!"
"But you failed to explain why that is," Snape countered. "Why do all of the ing
redients go into the cauldron within just seconds of each other?"
Harry thought about it for a moment before giving his hesitant reply. "Because o
f how they all react together to stabilize the potion?"
"So you can think, Potter," Snape said in mock surprise. "Now you just need to e
laborate on that point throughout your entire essay. Explain just how each of th
e ingredients reacts with the next to ultimately formulate the potion and keep i
t balanced and stable."
Harry frowned. "But the textbook doesn't explain very much about the ingredients
themselves, sir."
"Have you not read the supplemental materials I assigned at the end of last year
?" the man demanded.
"I thought that was optional reading, sir," Harry replied nervously, remembering
that Ron had said something similar on the Hogwarts Express.
The professor sent him a terrifying glare then as he used his wand to summon sev
eral books off of a shelf on the other side of the room. And when they zoomed in
to his hands, he immediately slammed them down onto the desk in front of Harry,
causing the boy to jump back in alarm.
"I would suggest that you start doing a bit of optional reading, Mr. Potter. You
just might learn something useful."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered quickly, gathering up his essay and the small stack o
f books in his arms and heading back to his table.
He could feel Snape's eyes on him then for a long time after that.

* * *

"You are dismissed for the night, Potter," Snape finally called out some time la
ter, when a couple hours had passed.
Harry gratefully closed the book he had been looking through; a thin, black book
that was all about different potions ingredients and their common properties.
"I haven't finished the essay yet," Harry stated, looking down at his parchment.
He was only about half-way done by his estimate.
"Then you will continue with it during tomorrow's detention," the professor said
, not sounding the least bit concerned.

Harry nodded and stood up, picking his schoolbag up off the floor and stuffing h
is textbook back into it.
It was quiet then in the potions classroom, with neither of the two occupants ma
king any noise.
And Harry knew that this was the perfect opportunity to ask his question.
Snape looked up, surprised to see Harry still standing there. "Yes, Potter?" he
asked wearily.
There was barely a second's pause, then.
"What does 'A Thousand Words' mean?" the boy blurted out quickly, before he coul
d lose his nerve.
Snape's eyes flashed as he once again put down his quill and stood up from his d
esk. "What have I told you, Potter, about?"
"I know you don't like to talk about my mother," Harry interrupted. "But please,
sir. Just tell me this one thing."
"Why is this so important to you, Potter?" Snape sounded both irritated and genu
inely curious.
"Because she's my mother," Harry answered automatically. "And I never got to kno
w her, sir. But you did. And you could tell me about her."
"Many people could tell you about her," the man argued.
Harry sighed. "Please. Just this one thing. And I promise I won't bother you aga
in about it."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," Snape grumbled, taking a moment to fold hi
s arms and glare down at the floor. It was several more seconds then before he s
poke again.
"I will make you a deal, Mr. Potter."
Harry's eyebrows rose in surprise. "A deal?"
"Yes," the potions master continued, his expression suddenly thoughtful. "If you
can manage to turn in a perfect, well-written essay that meets my standards and
exceeds all of my expectations, I will provide you with an answer to your quest
Harry's face fell as several thoughts immediately started racing through his hea
d. A perfect essay that was up to Snape's standards? It wasn't possible, was it?
There was absolutely no way he could manage it.
But then again, Harry knew that he didn't have much choice.
He would have to agree. He would have to at least try. This was his one opportun
ity to get a bit of information out of Snape regarding his mother. He would just
have to put absolutely everything he had into this assignment. And he might jus
t have to ask Hermione for a little bit of help, too...

Finally, Harry nodded, looking up to meet Snape's eyes.

"Okay, sir," he said at last. "It's a deal."

* * *

A/N: All feedback is greatly appreciated :) Thanks for reading!


A/N: Hey, guys! So I have some good news and some bad news regarding this story.
The good news is rather obvious, and that is that Chapter 22 is finally complet
e! Yay!
The bad news is that updates from here on out are likely to slow way down... :(
I don't want them to, but the reality is that in just a couple weeks, I will be
going off to attend law school, and I will therefore be very, very busy in the c
oming months.
But don't worry! I have absolutely loved writing this story up until this point,
and I will continue to write whenever I can. It just might take a while to get
updates out.
But enough about that. Enjoy Chapter 22!

* * *

Harry trudged slowly up the steps of the grand staircase the following morning a
fter quidditch practice, completely and utterly exhausted. Wood had been absolut
ely relentless in the team's first official training session of the year, and th
e young seeker wanted nothing more in that moment than to be able to return to G
ryffindor tower and crawl right back into bed.
But of course, he wasn't going to be able to. Because Professor McGonagall was e
xpecting him in her office that morning, and Harry didn't think it would be wise
to miss the appointment. He sighed then, as he turned in the direction of the T
ransfiguration hallway. Hopefully, whatever it was that his head of house wanted
to discuss with him wouldn't take too long.

* * *

Harry was nearly to McGonagall's office when he heard the sound of footsteps and
partially muffled voices getting closer to him from the next corridor over. Ins
tinctively, the young boy darted into the nearest alcove off of the corridor the
n, and shrank back into the shadows. He would recognize those voices anywhere, a
nd he had no desire to run into their owners that morning.
A second later, two men rounded the corner, and Harry was finally able to make o
ut what they were saying.
"I already have the headmaster's approval, Severus," the first man said in a jov
ial tone. And Harry knew that that voice could belong to no one but Lockhart.
"Do you?" came the silky reply, and Harry thought that Snape sounded rather irri
"Oh, yes. Of course, nothing has been finalized yet, but it shouldn't be too muc
h longer before the Hogwarts Dueling Club becomes a reality! Now if you would ju
st agree to become my assistant"
Snape came to a sudden halt then, whirling around to glare at the other man. "Yo
ur assistant?" he practically whispered, causing Harry to shiver at the dangerou
s tone.
"Well, of course! I can think of no better man for the job!" Lockhart replied, s
eemingly unaffected by the terrifying scowl on the potion master's face. "Beside
s, the headmaster seems to feel that this would be quite a big undertaking for j
ust one professor"
"In other words, you are incapable of organizing the group yourself?" Snape snee
Harry had to stifle his laughter then, at the look on Gilderoy Lockhart's face.
"Well, of course I could if I had to, Severus. But it's Dumbledore, you know"
"I'm sorry, but I must decline," Snape said dismissively, turning to continue on
his way down the hall, not even bothering to offer any further explanation.
"Just think on it, Severus!" Lockhart called after Snape, before the man disappe
ared out of sight.
And then Lockhart stood alone in the corridor, looking slightly put out, but sti
ll determined.
"Let me rip you...Let me tear you...Let me KILL you..."
Harry jumped nearly a foot in the air at the sudden shock of once again hearing
that disembodied voice coming from the walls. Terrified, he pushed away from the
stone and stumbled out into the corridor, eyes wide as his head turned this way
and that, desperately looking for the source of the whisperings as he tightened
the grip on his broom.
A second later, a hand landed on Harry's shoulder, and he cried out in fear, spi
nning around as he immediately reached for his wand.
"Harry!" the man in the corridor said in surprise. "Where did you come from? Is
something wrong?"
Harry stared up at Lockhart for several seconds, his heart racing, and mouth sli
ghtly agape. Then he finally shook himself from his shocked daze and took a step

back from the defense professor.

"S-sorry, sir. I have to go."
And then, Harry bolted.
He turned and hurried off around the corner and down the next hallway until he w
as standing directly in front of Professor McGonagall's office. He knocked quick
ly and waited then, trying his best to calm his breathing in the silence that fo
llowed. And moments later, he finally heard his head of house from the other sid
e of the door bidding him to enter.

* * *

McGonagall frowned as she watched Harry step into her office, deathly pale and c
linging to his broomstick for dear life.
"Potter! What on earth?"
"I'm sorry, Professor," the boy finally managed to get out. "Oliver extended pra
ctice this morning and so I'm a little late"
"Never mind that," Minerva interrupted, running a critical eye over her student.
"You're as pale as a ghost, Mr. Potter. What has happened?"
Harry shook his head, hoping that his next words would sound at least somewhat c
onvincing. "Nothing, ma'am. It was just a long practice."
McGonagall's frown deepened. She knew of course that Wood was a rather...enthusi captain. But if he was perhaps taking things a bit too far...She wo
uld have to have a discussion with the sixth year.
"Very well. Please sit down, Harry."
Harry leaned his broom up against the wall next to the door before taking a seat
across from the professor. He carefully folded his hands in his lap then, and d
id his best to appear nonchalant as he secretly strained his ears for any furthe
r sign of that voice.
Maybe McGonagall would be able to hear it, even if Lockhart couldn't. Maybe only
competent witches and wizards could.
Or maybe Lockhart had been lying about hearing it all along. Maybe he was the re
ason for the voice in the first place. He had been right there both of the times
that Harry had heard it, anyway. What if he was
"Mr. Potter, have you been listening to a word I've said?"
Harry snapped out of his thoughts and focused his gaze back on McGonagall, who w
as staring at him with a very stern expression.
"Sorry, ma'am. I'm listening."
He tried to focus then, as his head of house began to talk about staying out of
detentions for the remainder of the year, and her disappointment in his behavior
regarding the whole Malfoy incident. Harry tried to look as contrite and remors

eful as possible, in the hopes that the professor would let him go soon, but he
thought that he probably just appeared ill.
"Are you sure you're alright, Mr. Potter?" McGonagall suddenly asked, confirming
Harry's suspicions. "Perhaps a trip to see Madam Pomfrey is in order."
Harry shook his head with wide eyes. If Madam Pomfrey discovered that he was hea
ring homicidal voices coming from the walls...she'd cart him off to the nearest
mental institution immediately.
Maybe that's where I belong, the boy couldn't help but think for a second.
"Harry?" the professor said in concern, and Harry gave his head a little shake.
"I'm okay, professor," he forced himself to say. "Just tired from practice."
"Then perhaps you should go rest, Mr. Potter," his teacher eventually replied af
ter a long moment of consideration.
Harry just shook his head again as he got to his feet. "I really don't think I h
ave the time, professor."
"Why not?" McGonagall asked in surprise.
Harry's thoughts then wandered to the picture in his pocket."I have a lot of hom
ework to do."
And then Minerva was just staring at the child in front of her, momentarily lost
for words.

* * *

Harry sat in the library by himself, trying to work on his essay for Snape.
But after staring at the same page in his potions textbook for nearly an hour, h
e was finally forced to give up and concede defeat.
The problem was that he just couldn't focus. His mind was too preoccupied by "Th
e Voice in the Wall", and it was now even harder than usual to think about potio
And this was supposed to be his best work, too. The best potions essay he had ev
er written.
Harry groaned
to be able to
od enough for
the man about

and put his head down on the table. There was no way he was going
follow through on his deal with Snape. His essay would never be go
the potions master. And he would never get any information out of
his mother.

The boy sighed and his eyes began to droop. He was still just so tired from the
quidditch practice that morning. A minute passed, or perhaps several. Harry real
ly couldn't be sure.
And then finally, the boy drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Severus had to admit that he was somewhat perplexed. After speaking with Potter
yesterday and "making a deal" with the brat, he had actually expected the boy's
work to improve. The child had seemed to want to learn something about his mothe
r so badly. He seemed to have been motivated to do well.
So why then, was his essay still so substandard?
"Dismal," the potions master bit out, dropping the scroll of parchment back in f
ront of Harry, who stood on the other side of the teacher's desk, waiting for th
e verdict.
Harry didn't respond, but bit his lip instead, refusing to look at his professor
as he reached once more for his essay. It was the third time that night that Sn
ape had flat-out rejected it, and Harry wasn't sure how much more of this he cou
ld take.
He was tired, and nervous. And if he was being honest with himself, he was scare
d, too. The nap he had taken in the library had been a short one. He had startle
d awake rather violently when "the voice" had started penetrating his dreams, th
reatening to kill him. Threatening to rip him apart into little tiny pieces and
devour him for dinner.
He had just been thankful that no one had been around to see him topple out of h
is chair onto the library floor when his eyes finally flew open.
"I was under the impression that you were going to put some effort into this ass
ignment, Mr. Potter," Snape was saying. "Have you given up on our deal so quickl
Harry immediately shook his head, finally looking up at his professor with plead
ing eyes.
"No, sir. Please. I'll try harder. I'll do better."
Snape raised his eyebrows and took the opportunity to really look at the child f
or the first time that night. The boy was pale, and anxious. He was definitely o
n edge about something.
But what?
"Is there something wrong, Mr. Potter?" the potions master drawled out at last.
"No, sir. I'll just work harder on the essay"
"I am not referring to the essay," the man snapped. "I am referring to whatever
it is that is distracting you from the essay."
"I'm not distract"
"Do not lie to me, Potter."
Harry fell silent and looked down at the floor. There was absolutely no way he w
as telling Snape about the voice. The man would probably have him locked up in t
he insane asylum even quicker than Madam Pomfrey would.

"I'm just a little tired, sir," Harry finally spoke up.

Snape didn't respond right away. He just continued to glare at the boy across fr
om him, allowing the silence to fill the room.
"How is your hand?" the man eventually asked.
Harry's brow furrowed for a moment before he remembered the fist that he had thr
own at a wall yesterday.
"It's fine, sir," the boy answered, holding up his hand and flexing the fingers.
"The bruising is all gone. Just like you said."
Snape gave a short nod and then ran his gaze over the boy once more, before fina
lly coming to a decision.
"You are dismissed for the evening, Potter."
Harry's mouth fell open as his eyes found the professor's.
"But, sir...the essay"
"The essay is clearly not a priority of yours tonight, Mr. Potter," Snape said i
n a dismissive tone, getting to his feet. "I suppose it was foolish of me to thi
nk that it might be...But I suppose we can try again tomorrow"
"No!" Harry exclaimed, casting a glance back at the pile of supplemental materia
ls stacked up on his desk. Those books belonged to Snape, and the man would like
ly never let Harry take them from the classroom. But Harry needed them if he was
going to write the perfect essay.
And that meant that he would have to stay.
"Just give me one more chance, sir. Please. I don't want to wait until tomorrow.
It had to be the first time in Hogwarts history that a student begged a teacher
to extend a detention, and Snape was finding it rather difficult to keep the sur
prise off of his face.
The potions master scowled down at the child after several more seconds of compl
ete silence in the potions classroom.
And then he finally gave his reply.
"Fine, Potter. But if I don't see some noticeable improvement in your next draft
, I am sending you straight off to Gryffindor tower."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Harry said quickly.
And with that, he hurried back over to his table and opened up one of the books
on the top of the stack.
This time, he really needed to focus.

* * *

A/N: Thoughts? Once again, I have no idea when the next chapter will be out. If
I get the chance, I may be able to update once more before school starts, but I
really can't make any promises. My life is extremely hectic right now, so I'll j
ust have to see how it goes.
Thanks for reading!

The Hospital Wing

A/N: Hey everyone! So I finally, finally, got the chance to do a bit of writing
over the weekend. The chapter isn't nearly as long as I had hoped it would be, b
ut at least I was able to produce something. Once again, thank you for all of th
e tremendous support you have all shown this story, and I appreciate you bearing
with me during this extremely busy time in my life. Enjoy! :)

* * *

Harry twisted his hands together nervously as he once again stood at the side of
Snape's desk, unconsciously biting down on his lip as the professor scanned ove
r the first few lines of his newly-rewritten essay. Unsure of where else to look
, the boy stared down at the floor and at his worn-out shoes, as he anxiously aw
aited judgement.
There was a long, silent pause in the dungeon classroom. And to Harry, it seemed
to go on forever. He fidgeted in the absolute quiet for several seconds before
finally managing to muster up enough courage to raise his eyes just enough to pe
ek through his fringe at the professor. But what he saw made him quickly avert h
is gaze once more.
The potions master had been staring at him intently, his eyes narrowed, and an u
nreadable expression settled across his features. But the man still didn't speak
, and Harry was suddenly even more nervous than he had been before.
Another few seconds passed. And then Snape finally set the essay down on the des
Out of his peripheral vision, then, Harry saw one of Snape's arms move quickly,
and the boy automatically flinched back, suddenly fearing that he was about to g
et hit.
Snape paused, a look of puzzlement flashing in his eyes for a brief moment as he
stared curiously at the unruly mess of black hair that was the top of the golde
n boy's bent head. Several thoughts suddenly ran through his mind, but he pushed
them aside for the time being, determined to continue with the task at hand. He
resumed reaching across his desk, then, and took up the quill he had intended t
o pick up a moment before.
Harry held his breath as he heard the first sounds of the quill scratching again

st parchment. He considered it to be a good sign, at least, that the man hadn't

simply tossed the essay back at him like he had with his previous attempts. Mayb
e that meant that he was finally improving. His chest swelled with hope at that
"It is really quite amazing what difference a little effort can make in one's wo
rk, Mr. Potter," Snape eventually commented. "It would seem that you are indeed
capable of producing a half-way decent essay."
Harry's head snapped up at those words to see that Snape was now holding his ess
ay out to him.
The whole paper seemed to be covered with red ink now, where Snape had quickly s
cribbled out some comments. But that didn't change the fact that the man had jus
t given Harry a compliment. Even if it had come out more like a stern rebuke.
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Harry said quietly, reaching out to take the parchme
nt in his own hands. It may not be the perfect essay yet. But at least it was an
Snape frowned as he watched the boy head back to his desk, then, and take a seat
. "It is late, Potter. You should return to your common room now."
"But I still have to work on the essay," Harry protested, looking up from his pa
"You may work on it tomorrow," the professor answered.
"But sir, I improved You said I could stay if I improved"
"You have many more detentions ahead of you, Mr. Potter. You will have ample tim
e to work on the essay, I assure you. But for now you are dismissed."
Harry sighed as he returned to his feet, rolling up his essay and staring longin
gly at the stack of supplemental materials on the desk. He didn't dare ask if he
could borrow any of them, though. He knew Snape would never allow it.
He gathered up his bag then, and was just reaching for his potions textbook a mo
ment later when it happened.
" Let me rip youLet me tear you"
Harry immediately dropped what he was holding and covered his ears with both han
The textbook hit the stone floor with a loud thud, but the boy didn't seem to no
tice. His eyes were screwed together tightly, and he soon began mumbling quietly
to himself in the stillness of the dungeon classroom.
"Potter?" Snape called out, the alarm barely detectable in his voice. The man qu
ickly rose to his feet then, and swept across the room.
He was in front of the boy within seconds, and he leaned forward to place both o
f his hands on the child's shoulders.
"Potter," he tried again, giving the boy a gentle shake. "Look at me."
But Harry just shook his head as the voice continued to scream at him from insid
e the walls.

"Nonono" he whispered over and over again.

"Let me kill you," the voice hissed in his ear. "Let me KILL you!"
"No!" Harry suddenly shouted back, his eyes flying open.
And then all was silent.
And a small vial was being held to his lips.
"Drink," the potions master commanded.
And Harry swallowed automatically.
Almost immediately, Harry could feel himself relax. The tension drained away fro
m his shoulders and the rest of his body, and his breathing evened out and becam
e normal once more. It was a calming draught, Harry realized. Only this time, th
e potion didn't make him feel quite so strange. It was a much milder dose this t
ime. A child's dose.
Then the world slowly came back into focus, and Harry suddenly remembered that S
nape was there, glaring at him, and he attempted to take a step back.
Unfortunately, the man had a rather tight grip on his shoulders, and he didn't s
eem to be the least bit interested in relinquishing his hold.
"I thought you had informed me that you were not prone to panic attacks, Mr. Pot
ter," Snape finally spoke, his voice silky and dangerous.
"I'm not"
"Do not lie to me, Potter."
Harry ducked his head, and stared at the floor.
"Would you care to tell me what brought this one on?" the potions master prompte
d, when the boy did not respond.
"No," Harry thought to himself. "You'll think I've completely lost it."
"Mr. Potter?" the man persisted, clearly getting annoyed.
Harry shook his head, still staring at the floor. "Nothing, sir. It was nothing.
Snape sighed then, and finally removed his hands from the child's shoulders. "Co
me along then, Mr. Potter."
Harry's eyes widened as his head snapped up. "Sir?"
"You heard me, Potter," Snape replied, striding over to the classroom door and t
hrowing it open.
"Where are we going, sir?" Harry asked quietly, taking a step back. He had a bad
feeling about this.
"I will be escorting you to the hospital win"
"No," Harry interrupted, shaking his head and backing up further until he ran in
to the back of his desk. He couldn't see Madam Pomfrey. What if she found out ab

out the voice?

Snape took a moment to rub a hand over his face and pinch the bridge of his nose
in irritation.
"My patience is wearing thin, Potter. I will not tell you again. Now come along.
"But I'm fine. I don't need to go to the hospital wing," the boy protested weakl
y, even as his legs began to obey Snape and move slowly towards the door.
But the professor just ignored him, reaching out to grab his shoulder again as t
hey exited the classroom.
The potions master didn't loosen his grip the entire walk to the hospital wing.

* * *

Harry sat on the side of the hospital bed, looking down at his lap and straining
his ears to try to hear what Madam Pomfrey and Snape were talking about several
feet away.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though one of the adults must have cast a muffling c
harm around the two of them, because Harry was unable to make out even a single
word of what they were saying.
The seconds ticked away, and the longer Harry sat there, waiting for the mediwit
ch and Snape to finish their conversation, the more nervous he became. Were they
already planning to ship him off to some mental hospital? Were they going to pu
t him in a straitjacket and throw him in a small, dark room somewhere? Were they
"Potter!" Snape's commanding voice suddenly cut through his thoughts, and Harry
jumped nearly a foot off the bed as he looked up to see both adults suddenly sta
nding in front of him, expectant expressions on both of their faces.
"What?" Harry said quickly, his heart suddenly racing as he waited to hear his f
"I asked if you have been sleeping well, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey responded ki
ndly, looking the boy over with a critical eye.
Harry remained silent for a moment before slowly beginning to nod his head. But
at the sudden dangerous look on the potions master's face, he let out a sigh and
decided to tell the truth.
"No, ma'am. Not really."
"I see," the witch said, glancing over to Snape for a moment before turning back
to her patient. "Professor Snape has informed me that you have had a couple of
panic attacks recently."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry answered simply.
"And have there been any other incidents that we should be aware of?"
"No, ma'am."

"Potter" Snape interjected, a warning tone in his voice.

"There haven't been!" Harry defended himself. "Those were the only two times!"
"Harry," Madam Pomfrey said gently. "Do you know why you are having panic attack
Harry sighed as he crossed his arms and looked down at the floor. "Filch just st
artled me that first time," he answered at last.
"And the second one?" Madam Pomfrey pressed.
Harry sighed and gave his shoulders a shrug. "I don't know."
The adults exchanged a look, and then Madam Pomfrey pulled out her wand.
"What are you going to do?" Harry asked worriedly, pulling back and away from th
e tip of the wand.
"Nothing to worry about, dear. Just a basic diagnostic spell."
And with that, Madam Pomfrey waved her wand over Harry's head and a piece of par
chment popped into existence, just as it had when Snape had cast a diagnostic sp
ell on Hedwig up in the owlery.
Harry was suddenly extremely nervous. Just how basic was this diagnostic spell?
What exactly was it going to reveal? All of his bruises from the summer may have
healed. But did that mean they wouldn't show up on the parchment? He couldn't b
e sure.
"Hmmm" the mediwitch began, scanning through the report. "Well, it would appear t
hat you are indeed sleep-deprived, child. Do you have any idea what is keeping y
ou awake?"
Harry immediately shook his head.
"Verbal responses, Mr. Potter," Snape snapped impatiently.
"No, ma'am. I don't know."
Madam Pomfrey frowned. "Are you worried about your classes, perhaps? It's not un
common for some students to feel stress while in school."
Harry gave another shrug. "I guess. Maybe."
Snape raised his eyebrows, a look of disbelief flashing in his eyes.
"Well, I am going to prescribe a potion that should help relax your mind before
bed," Madam Pomfrey was saying. "We'll see if that helps at all."
Harry nodded as the mediwitch summoned a potion from the cabinet at the other en
d of the hospital wing.
"One swallow before bed every night for the next week, Mr. Potter," the healer i
nstructed, handing him the small bottle of pale, pink liquid.
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said, getting to his feet. "I guess I should get going, then"
"You are not finished, Mr. Potter," Snape interrupted him, taking a long look at

the parchment in Madam Pomfrey's hands.

"But I" Harry began anxiously.
"Sit down," the man said firmly.
And suddenly, Harry knew that he was trapped.
What else did that parchment say?

* * *

A/N: So I hope this wasn't too bad of a cliffhanger, guys. But I will apologize
anyway for having to leave it there.
Next chapter: We finish up the trip to the hospital wing and (of course) spend s
ome more time with Snape and Harry.
Thanks for reading!

A/N: Hello again! It's been a while, I know. But the semester has finally ended,
and exams are over at last. (What a traumatic experience that was.) Anyway, enj
oy the new chapter!

* * *

Harry slowly eased himself back into a seated position on the side of the bed, h
is eyes darting warily from Madam Pomfrey to Snape and back again as he waited f
or one of them to start speaking.
"Have you been eating properly, Mr. Potter?" the mediwitch suddenly asked.
Harry frowned. "Ma'am?" he answered, slightly confused. He hadn't been expecting
that question.
"According to these results, you are half-starved, child," the woman explained,
her voice full of concern.
"To put it mildly," Snape drawled, as he crossed his arms and scowled down at Ha
Harry had to fight the urge not to scowl back. What was Snape still doing here,
anyway? Shouldn't he have returned to his dungeon by now?

"Well, Mr. Potter?" Madam Pomfrey pressed, her tone now brisk and business-like.
"When is the last time that you have eaten a proper meal?"
Harry frowned and stared down at his lap. His thoughts momentarily drifted to th
e summer holiday, when the Dursleys had refused to provide him with even a singl
e decent meal.
And now that he was back in school, he had not yet regained his appetite.
"Harry?" the mediwitch's voice was suddenly much softer.
All Harry could do then was to manage a quick shrug.
"Potter," came the stern voice of Professor Snape.
And Harry found himself raising his gaze to meet that of the potions master.
The man was piercing him with a bone-chilling stare, his eyes shiny and dark as
they glared down at the boy sitting on the bed. Harry was almost certain that th
e professor could see right through him. He suppressed a shiver and quickly look
ed away.
It was time for a bit of acting, he knew.
Harry let out a sigh and ran a hand through his hair, causing it to become even
more messy and unruly than it had been just a moment before.
"I guess I justhaven't had much of an appetite since the end of last year," the b
oy said quietly, hoping he sounded convincing as he stared down at the hands he
was twisting together in his lap.
"The end of last ?" Madam Pomfrey began to ask, before the realization dawned on
her. The end of last year was when young Harry had faced He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Name
"Oh, child, I had no idea," the mediwitch said in concern. "I should have realiz
"It's okay, ma'am," Harry interrupted, carefully keeping his eyes adverted as he
spoke. "It's not a big deal."
And just as expected, that was all it took to send Poppy Pomfrey into a fuss. Sh
e swept over to the nearest medicine cabinet, all the while muttering aloud in a
near-furious tone. "Not a big deal? Well, I never And no wonder you aren't sleep
ing child! I presume that you have had some nightmares about the incident, as we
"Oh, uh, yeah" Harry answered after a moment's hesitation.
Of course, very few of his dreams actually ever involved Voldemort, the boy coul
dn't help but to think to himself. Lately, anyway, his nights seemed to be mostl
y haunted by Uncle Vernon, tossing him out onto the streets. And then he would w
ander around in the dark, lost and cold and hungry, until he finally woke up in
the Gryffindor dormitory, breathing hard, and his heart racing in his chest.
"Harry, dear?" Madam Pomfrey asked worriedly, walking back over to her patient,
several vials held securely in her arms.

"Yes, ma'am?" Harry answered, still staring firmly at his lap.

"I need you to drink these for me, please. They're nutrient potions. You'll need
to start taking them regularly now for a while."
Harry obeyed Madam Pomfrey without question, as the mediwitch continued to talk
quickly and fuss over him. It seemed, among other things, that she wanted to arr
ange for Harry to talk to somebody about things.
He really didn't like the sound of that.
But finally, at long last, the woman paused in her speech, and Harry saw his opp
ortunity for escape.
"I really should get going now, Madam Pomfrey," he said, finally meeting the med
iwitch's eye. "I have a lot of homework to do."
"Oh, of course, dear," the witch replied almost absently, as she quickly scribbl
ed some notes on a piece of parchment. "But I am ordering weekly check-ups"
"What?" Harry asked in alarm. He didn't want weekly check-ups. He didn't need th
"There will be no arguments, Mr. Potter," came the sudden harsh tone of Snape's
Harry's head immediately snapped around. He had nearly forgotten that the potion
s master was still there. The man had been completely silent over the last few m
inutes, after all.
And he was still just glaring at Harry, the expression in his eyes completely un
Harry didn't dare argue any further.
The boy sighed then, and stood up from the bed. "Goodnight, Madam Pomfrey," he s
aid quietly. Then turning to Snape, he said, in an even quieter voice, "Goodnigh
t, sir."
"Goodnight, Harry, dear," the mediwitch responded, as Harry began heading for th
e hospital wing exit.
He was nearly to the doors when Snape suddenly called out.
"One moment, Mr. Potter," the man intoned.
Harry froze in his tracks, suddenly worried. Was the man about to call him out o
n his story? He held his breath, then, his back to the professor. And waited.
"I hope you realize that you will not be permitted to participate in any athleti
c extracurricular activities for the time being."
A look of confusion crossed Harry's face as he took a moment to work out exactly
what it was that Snape was saying.
And then he suddenly understood. And he whipped around to face his teacher.
"You're banning me from quidditch?" he nearly shouted.

"Twenty points from Gryffindor," Snape responded calmly. "For your tone and disr
espect. And for your information, Mr. Potter, it is not my rule."
Harry turned frantically to Madam Pomfrey for confirmation. And the look on the
mediwitch's face was not the least bit reassuring.
"I am afraid Professor Snape is right, Harry. Until you are healthier"
"But I feel fine!" Harry protested. "You can't take me off the team."
"It is only temporary, child," Madam Pomfrey said sympathetically.
"Unless you continue to argue," Snape put in, a clear warning in his tone. "Then
I will make sure that it is permanent."
"Now, Severus, really" Madam Pomfrey began, turning to the potions master.
But the next moment, the mediwitch was interrupted by a loud bang, echoing throu
ghout the hospital wing as Harry suddenly stormed out, slamming the door behind

* * *

Stupid, stupid, stupid! Harry couldn't help but to berate himself as he made his
way back to Gryffindor Tower. Snape was going to absolutely murder him at his n
ext detention for that dramatic exit.
But thinking about what the man had said, about Harry not being allowed to play
quidditch. Harry could feel the anger boiling up inside him. And he found that he
just didn't care about the consequences all that much.
It wasn't fair! Snape just wanted to give the Slytherin team a chance at winning
! He didn't care about Harry's health!
How could he have ever believed that Snape might be a decent man after all?
Harry huffed in frustration. What was he supposed to tell his teammates? And all
of Gryffindor for that matter? They were all counting on him to beat Slytherin
in the first quidditch match of the season later this term.
And then the anger suddenly subsided as the memory of the entire hospital visit
washed over him, and Harry felt nothing but a deep sorrow. He reached into his p
ocket and took out the picture of his mother. He sighed, then, and shook his hea
Someone had almost found out. Someone had almost discovered that his life with t
he Dursleys wasn't exactly ideal. He needed to be more careful. Because he was n
ot about to let that secret get out.
It would be all over the school within hoursor minutes.
And that was the last thing that Harry needed right now.

* * *

He hadn't told a soul. Not Ron or Hermione, or anybody else in Gryffindor.

And yet, the very next morning, there wasn't a single person in the whole school
that didn't know that Harry Potter was being temporarily suspended from the Gry
ffindor quidditch team due to "health-related" reasons.
"Is poor little Harry Potter too fragile and frail to play quidditch?" a girl fr
om the Slytherin table had called out the second Harry had walked into the Great
And from there, it was all over with.
"What is she talking about, Harry?" Ron and Hermione had asked in unison.
But before Harry could respond, the twins and the rest of the Gryffindor team co
nverged on him. Oliver Wood looked positively ill. He tried and failed several t
imes to speak, while Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell spoke over each other, demand
ing to know if the rumors were true.
"Alright, you will all disperse immediately," came the authoritative voice of Pr
ofessor McGonagall.
"But professor," Oliver finally found his voice, "there's a rumor that Harry is"
"This is not the time nor the place to be having this conversation, Wood," McGon
agall interrupted.
"But quidditch practice"
"We will discuss it later," the woman said more firmly. "Now, don't you have a t
ransfiguration exam to study for?"
Oliver mumbled a response before finally turning around and heading back to his
"Come with me, Potter," McGonagall said brusquely, heading out into the entrance
And with practically the entire school staring at him once again, Harry turned a
nd followed, ignoring the questioning looks on his friends' faces as he did so.

* * *

"You wanted to see me, Professor?" Harry asked, when he was finally seated in th
e transfiguration professor's office.
McGonagall waved her wand, and a plate of toast and a bowl of eggs appeared on t
he desk in front of her. She pushed both of them closer to Harry, and then conju
red a goblet of pumpkin juice.
"I thought you might appreciate a quiet place to eat breakfast, Mr. Potter."
Harry looked at his teacher in disbelief. "Thank you, ma'am," he eventually spok

e, grabbing a piece of toast.

McGonagall nodded, and then set a small vial near Harry's elbow.
Harry suppressed a sigh. It was a nutrient potion.
"As I am sure you've realized, Harry," McGonagall began, "Madam Pomfrey and Prof
essor Snape have informed me of your visit to the hospital wing."
Harry made a face, and set the toast back down on the plate.
"You can keep eating," McGonagall frowned. "I only wished to inform you that if
you ever feel the need to talk"
"Thank you, Professor," Harry interrupted. "But I'm okay."
McGonagall raised her eyebrow, her frown deepening. "You went through quite an o
rdeal last year. You should find an adult that you trust, Harry. Someone you can
talk to."
Harry just gave a noncommittal shrug, and took a small bite of toast. There was
absolutely no way that that was going to happen.
"Professor?" he finally asked.
"Yes, Harry?"
"Am I really off the team?"
Professor McGonagall immediately straightened in her chair, her tone suddenly be
coming business-like. "Just because you are not cleared to fly until Madam Pomfr
ey gives you a clean bill of health does not mean that you are off the team, Mr.
Potter." She pushed the breakfast food even closer to Harry as she spoke. "You
just need to eat, and take your nutrient potions."
Harry smiled slightly, suddenly feeling a bit better.
He wondered how long that would last.

* * *

As it turned out, it didn't last very long.

Because no matter where he went that day, whether he was in the library or in th
e common room, or down by the lake, there were droves of people just staring at
him. It was almost easier to be around the Slytherins, who were positively gleef
ul about the prospect of Harry not being allowed to play quidditch. Because ever
yone else seemed to have nothing but pity in their eyes and in their expressions
when they looked at him.
It was almost unbearable.

* * *

Harry arrived at the potions classroom for detention that evening in a sour mood
. It had been just about all he could do to avoid Ron and Hermione that day. He
knew he was going to have to talk to them eventually. And he would have to tell
them about the voice, and the hospital visit.
He just didn't feel up to it at the moment.
And then he saw Professor Snape sitting calmly at his desk, grading papers, and
the anger flared up in him once more.
This was all Snape's fault.
If the man hadn't insisted on taking him to the hospital wing, none of this woul
d have happened. Madam Pomfrey wouldn't have done a stupid scan on him. He would
n't have had to lie to the mediwitch about his lack of appetite and sleep depriv
ation. And he wouldn't have been suspended from the quidditch team.
Snape was probably the reason that the whole school knew about that last part, t
How else would everyone have found out?
"Are you going to just stand there, Mr. Potter, or are you going to get to work?
" Snape drawled, not even looking up from his own parchment.
Harry narrowed his eyes at the top of the man's greasy head as he stalked over t
o his desk, where quill and ink were waiting for him, and dropped into the seat.
He was actually a bit surprised that Snape had nothing to say regarding his exi
t from the hospital wing the previous night.
But he was a bit too angry at the moment to even care.
He pulled his essay out of his bag, smoothing it out flat against the desk.
And simply glared at it.
Whatever he wrote would never be good enough for Snape. This whole thing was jus
t a game. The potions master was never going to tell him about his mother. He ha
ted Harry.
With these thoughts, Harry crossed his arms and stared ahead at the wall.
"If you aren't going to write, then you may work on scrubbing some cauldrons for
me," Snape said, the tone in his voice difficult to identify.
Harry looked over at the man. His eyes were dark and penetrating, almost daring
Harry to disobey.
Harry pushed away from the desk and stalked over to the sink, rolling up his sle
eves as he did so.

* * *

"If you are quite finished throwing your little temper tantrum, Mr. Potter, I wo

uld like a word," Snape's voice rang throughout the classroom.

Harry immediately put down the scrubbing brush and shook out his aching arm. He
had been working on that last cauldron for nearly forty-five minutes, and there
was an impossibly stubborn stain that still wouldn't come out.
"Now, Mr. Potter," the potions master barked impatiently.
Harry turned and hastily walked back across the classroom, stopping to stand dir
ectly in front of Snape.
There was a short pause before Snape spoke again. "So, Potter. Would you care to
explain your deplorable attitude this evening?"
"No, sir," Harry said, looking down at the floor.
"Look at me, Potter," Snape said.
Harry reluctantly obeyed.
Snape raised his eyebrows. "Would you like to try answering that question again?
" he asked, in his silkiest of voices.
"I already said no," Harry said, sounding far braver than he felt as the profess
or loomed over him, standing dangerously close.
"I believe we discussed once before the need for you to keep that temper of your
s in check," Snape warned.
Harry fought the urge to look away.
"Do you remember that conversation, Potter?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, his tone slightly sulky, as he averted his eyes for
just a moment.
"You are impossible, Potter," Snape shook his head, the annoyance clear in his v
"Yeah, I know. Just like my father," Harry snapped.
"You didn't inherit your temper from your father," Snape answered then, almost a
A look of shock crossed Harry's face at that statement. And then there was silen
ce for a long moment, before Snape finally pointed to Harry's desk. "Sit."
Harry obeyed slowly, still trying to process what it was that Snape had just sai
"Now, if I were to make a guess," Snape spoke again, striding around to the fron
t of Harry's desk, "I would say that you are upset about being temporarily remov
ed from the Gryffindor quidditch team."
Harry didn't immediately respond. His thoughts were too fixated on the fact that
Snape may have just revealed something about his mother.
"Well, Mr. Potter?" the man prompted a second later.
Harry quickly shook his head to refocus his thoughts. "You told them," he finall

y answered, remembering again why he was angry with Snape in the first place.
"Excuse me?"
"You told them about the quidditch."
"Told whom, exactly?" Snape demanded, clearly irritated.
"Your precious Slytherins," Harry grumbled quietly, though not quietly enough.
"I do not discuss students' personal affairs with other students, Mr. Potter," S
nape said sharply.
"Then how did everyone find out?" Harry asked.
Snape shook his head and rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. "Do you never use
that brain of yours, Potter?"
Harry frowned in confusion but otherwise did not respond.
"Hogwarts, in case you haven't noticed," the man said scathingly, "is full of pa
intings and portraits whose occupants have nothing better to do all day than to
sit and gossip amongst themselves."
Harry's eyes widened as he unconsciously looked around the classroom for any sig
n of a picture hanging on the wall. There were none. But he did remember seeing
a few in the hospital wing.
"But, why would Madam Pomfrey allow portraits in the hospital wing if"
"Those portraits are sworn to secrecy with anything regarding a student's health
"But this was health related," the boy argued.
"And there isn't another student in this castle who is aware of the nature of yo
ur health issues, Mr. Potter."
Harry sighed and broke eye contact. He didn't like the look that the potions mas
ter was giving him.
"Now do you wish to work on your essay tonight, Mr. Potter, or would you rather
go back to scrubbing cauldrons?"
Harry mumbled a quiet response.
"Speak clearly, Mr. Potter," Snape said harshly.
"I'll work on the essay, sir," the boy said a bit louder, though his voice was s
till barely above a whisper.
The professor gave a quick nod before turning to head back to his desk.
And Harry couldn't help but to watch the man's retreating back for a moment, all
of his thoughts now a confused jumble in his head.

* * *

A/N: For anyone who may be wondering: Yes, Snape will find out about the Dursley
s. Don't worry. I have a plan for that. It's just that for this story, I really
wanted to work on developing Harry and Snape's relationship before Snape makes t
hat discovery, not after.
Also: Because it will be impossible to tell how often I'll be able to update thi
s story, I have decided that I'll start making weekly updates on my profile page
, informing everyone of when they may be able to expect the next chapter. I'll s
tart doing that probably in January.
Thanks for reading!

An Answer at Last
A/N: Hello again! I know it has been far too long! In fact, I think I still owe
everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and possibly something else that I
can't seem to recall at the moment. My deepest, sincerest apologies.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new chapter!

* * *

Harry smiled as he finished writing out his last sentence with a flourish. He wa
s done. He was almost positive that it was perfect. It just had to be good enoug
h this time.
Jumping to his feet, Harry barely suppressed the urge to wave his parchment triu
mphantly in the air before he began to shove all of his belongings back into his
On the other side of the table in the library, Hermione paused in her own writin
g and raised her eyebrows as she watched her friend attempt to cram his potions
textbook in alongside his other books.
"We don't have potions today," Ron suddenly broke the silence, looking up from h
is copy of Voyages with Vampires. "Why were you working on your potions homework
, Harry?"
Hermione rolled her eyes as she turned to look at Ron. "You know, some people li
ke to get their homework done before the day that it's due, Ronald."
"It's not homework," Harry answered, still smiling. "It's an essay I've been wor
king on for detention. Snape keeps making me rewrite it."
"Greasy git," Ron said automatically.
"Yeah," Harry answered absently, as he lifted his heavy bag up to his shoulder,

unable to keep the anticipation and excitement off his face.

"Is everything alright, Harry?" Hermione asked, concerned. "You're not feeling s
ick again, are you?"
Harry just shook his head. He had told his friends that the reason Snape had had
to escort him to the hospital wing the other night was that he had gotten sick
during detention.
He felt slightly guilty for not saying anything about the voice, of course. But
he was still feeling rather reluctant about revealing that piece of information
to anyone. He was still worried that people might think he was going crazy.
"I feel fine, Hermione," Harry said with a grin. "I have a good feeling about th
is one. Snape can't possibly find anything wrong with this draft."
"Geez, how many times did he make you write that thing?" Ron asked, eyes wide.
Harry shrugged. "I dunno a few. Why?"
"Because I've never seen you this happy before over finishing an assignment."
Harry let out a laugh as he pushed his chair in and began walking away. "Yeah, I
think I'm going to go hand it in, now."
"What? You're gonna have to see the great bat for detention tonight, anyway. Why
not just wait until then?" Ron asked, incredulous.
"I just want it to be over with, I guess," Harry called over his shoulder, earni
ng a reproachful glare from Madam Pince as she rounded the corner of the nearest
"Sorry, ma'am," Harry said hurriedly, as he ducked around her and headed for the
library exit.
Both Ron and Hermione watched him go, finally exchanging bewildered looks when t
heir friend was out of view.
"What's gotten into him?" Ron asked.
Hermione frowned, thinking. "I have no idea."

* * *

Harry checked his watch as he descended down into the dungeons. He had just over
fifteen minutes before afternoon classes started. He would have to make this qu
Assuming that Snape would likely be spending the morning break in his office, Ha
rry headed straight there, and didn't even hesitate to knock firmly against the
"Enter," a voice drawled from within the dungeon office. And so Harry pushed aga
inst the wood, and stepped inside.
Snape's eyes met his almost immediately from across the room, and Harry had to d

o his best to maintain eye contact. Just like the man was always telling him.
"My, my, is it detention time, already?" Snape said sarcastically, eyebrows rais
ed. "I must have lost track of the time."
Harry's face turned red, and he couldn't help but to look away, then, the nerves
finally catching up to him.
"No, sir," he answered quietly. "It's justwell, I finished my essay." He moved fo
rward, clutching his parchment tightly in both hands.
"And this couldn't have waited until this evening, Mr. Potter?" Snape inquired,
"Well, uhI just wanted to give it to you now."
Snape's eyes looked over the boy, scrutinizing him for several long moments befo
re he finally held out his hand.
"Then give it to me and be on your way."
Harry frowned as he held out the essay. "I thought that you could look at it now
, sir," he said bravely.
Snape narrowed his eyes. "Did you, now?" he replied with a sneer. "And do you im
agine that I have no other work to do today, Potter?"
"No, sir," Harry answered quickly. The last thing he wanted to do right now was
to irritate or anger the professor. "It's justwell, I meanI think it's really done
this time," the boy stumbled over his words as he finally handed the essay over
Snape didn't immediately offer a response. He regarded the boy carefully for ano
ther few seconds, fixing the child with a bone-chilling glare as he took possess
ion of the parchment.
Harry shifted uncomfortably where he stood, but forced himself to hold the man's
gaze as he waited.
"I will read your essay later today, Mr. Potter," Snape finally drawled. "You wi
ll receive my feedback tonight in detention."
Harry tried his best to hide his disappointment. "Yes, sir," he eventually repli
ed, before turning towards the exit.
Snape simply watched the boy leave then, without saying another word.

* * *

Harry let out a sigh as he climbed the grand staircase and headed off in the dir
ection of the Transfiguration classroom. Now that Snape had his essay, he was fe
eling far less certain about his finished product. Maybe he should have waited u
ntil tonight to hand it in. At least then he would have a little more time to ch
eck it over.
"Potter!" a voice suddenly called out behind him, bringing Harry out of his thou

Harry let out another sigh as he turned around. "What do you want, Malfoy?" he a
sked, irritated.
For once, the blond boy was alone. Neither Crabbe nor Goyle, nor any of the othe
r second year Slytherins were in the corridor with him.
It was just the two of them.
Malfoy smirked and crossed his arms. "You know, I've been thinking, Potter. You
may be right."
"About what, exactly?" Harry demanded. "That you poisoned my owl for your stupid
Draco scoffed. "You really are an imbecile, Potter. I already told you I didn't
do it. I couldn't care less about your stupid, bloody owl."
"Then what are you rambling on about?" Harry responded, also crossing his arms a
nd mimicking Malfoy's stance.
"I think we should settle this with our wands."
"Settle what, exactly?" Harry asked, exasperated.
"Your lie got me in trouble with Snape"
"I don't have time for this," Harry interrupted, starting to turn away.
"So you're not going to duel me, then?" Malfoy taunted. "What, are you scared?"
Harry whirled around. "I seem to recall that last year when you said you wanted
to duel, you were really just looking for a way to get me caught out after curfe
w. No, thanks."
"Oh, it'll be a real duel this time. Just you and me," Draco replied, smirking.
"Come on, Potter. What do you say?"
"I think I'll pass," Harry answered almost immediately. Snape would probably kil
l him if he dared to do anything so stupid.
But almost as soon as that thought crossed his mind, Harry felt a little confuse
d. Why did he care so much what Snape thought? He would likely be in just as muc
h trouble with McGonagall or even Dumbledore if he agreed to Malfoy's plan.
"I always knew you were an idiot, Potter. But I must admit, I didn't take you fo
r a coward."
Harry's hand twitched. He wanted nothing more than to reach for his wand right t
hen and there. But he resisted.
And then something small was slinking out of the shadows of an alcove and approa
ching the two boys in the corridor.
Malfoy's eyes immediately widened at the sight of Mrs. Norris, no doubt worried
that Filch wouldn't be far behind.

"Let me know what you decide, Potter," Malfoy finally spoke up, pushing past Har
ry and heading down the hall.
As soon as the Slytherin rounded the corner, then, Harry smiled down at Mrs. Nor
ris, who immediately began rubbing up against his leg.
"It's good to see you, too," Harry said happily, crouching down to scratch behin
d the feline's ears. "You really saved me just now."
The cat purred, and continued to rub up against the young Gryffindor as Harry sp
oke softly to her for the next minute or so.
"I'm sorry I can't stay much longer," Harry eventually said. "I have Transfigura
tion in a couple minutes, and McGonagall won't be very pleased if I'm late."
Mrs. Norris seemed to accept this explanation, for she gave one last nudge at Ha
rry's hand, before stretching her legs and then slinking away. Within seconds, s
he was gone.
And Harry headed in the direction of Professor McGonagall's classroom.

* * *

The day passed by far too slowly for Harry's taste. He couldn't help but to star
e continually at his watch throughout all of his classes, his concentration and
focus nearly non-existent.
Malfoy kept glancing over at him from time to time, a questioning look in his ey
es to accompany the near-constant smirk on his face. And Harry had to wonder wha
t the Slytherin boy was really planning.
Because there was no way that this duel would be as simple as Malfoy had suggest
ed. He definitely had something else up his sleeve, and Harry knew he'd do well
to simply steer clear of the situation altogether.
Assuming that was even possible. Because somehow, Harry couldn't help but to thi
nk as he sat drumming his fingers impatiently against his desk in the last class
of the day, he always seemed to get dragged into situations that he would much
rather just avoid.

* * *

Harry arrived for detention that evening a full ten minutes early. He had attemp
ted to distract himself with homework for a little while, but he had made very l
ittle progress, and had given up after only about a half-hour or so of trying. H
e just couldn't wait any longer. He needed to know.
Snape scowled at him when he entered the potions classroom, immediately closing
the book he had been reading, and setting it off to the side.
"You are early, Mr. Potter," Snape drawled, not sounding the least bit impressed

"I know, sir," Harry answered, walking further into the room, a determined look
on his face.
It was quiet for several seconds before the potions master finally responded.
"I imagine that you are eager to learn the results of your latest attempt?" the
man asked, then, his tone almost bored as he held up a piece of parchment for Ha
rry to see. His essay.
"Yes, sir," Harry nodded, hurrying over towards the man's desk as Snape held the
essay out.
Harry was almost too afraid to look. But then the parchment was in his hands, an
d his eyes were searching the page.
There seemed to be just one comment written on the entire parchment, in red ink,
at the very bottom.
You have now proven, Mr. Potter, that you are more than capable of composing a h
ighly organized, well-thought out, and well-reasoned essay. I expect ALL of your
work to reflect these capabilities in the future. I will refuse to accept anyth
ing less.
Harry just stared at the bottom of the parchment for what must have been a full
minute, or perhaps longer. He didn't know what to think. He couldn't help but to
feel a huge amount of pride at his accomplishment, though the prospect of now b
eing held to a much higher standard did worry him a little.
"Thank you, sir," Harry finally managed to say, looking up at his professor with
a small smile.
"You did the work, Mr. Potter," Snape said dismissively. "I simply offered my an
Harry's smile grew wider as he once again looked down at the parchment.
"Now," Snape said at last. "I believe it is time for me to uphold my end of the
bargain. And we will finally be able to put this conversation to rest."
Harry looked up eagerly and moved around to the side of the man's desk.
"You're going to tell me what "A Thousand Words" means?" the young boy questione
Snape didn't immediately respond, but pulled open a drawer in his desk and took
out a large, white envelope.
Harry watched as the potions master placed the envelope on the surface in front
of him, and closed the drawer again.
"I take it you have heard the phrase 'A picture is worth a thousand words', Mr.
Harry nodded. "Yes, sir. I have."
Snape gave his own nod before slowly running a finger back and forth across the
envelope as he continued to speak.
"Well, your mother was quite fond of the saying," he said. And Harry noted that

his professor's voice had suddenly taken on a strange, unidentifiable, quality.

He had never heard the man speak like this before. It was like he was lost in a
"When we were children," Snape continued, now attempting to keep his voice brusq
ue and business-like, "we were, as you now know, very good friends, your mother
and I. We lived in the same neighborhood. We communicated constantly. We saw eac
h other nearly every day, and we would even send letters to each other. We made
a contest out of it, in fact."
"A contest?" Harry asked, intrigued, his eyes wide as he held onto every word.
Snape watched the eagerness and light in Harry's eyes, in Lily's eyes, for a mom
ent, before answering.
"Yes, we competed to see who could send the longest letters. We would exchange a
couple and then count up the words."
"What did you write to each other about?" Harry interjected, leaning forward now
against the desk, growing more and more excited by the second.
Snape's gaze moved back to the envelope, and his voice softened again. "Anything
and everything we could think of. Mostly about how our days were going. She als
o liked to write about her family. After a while, though, it became increasingly
difficult to come up with new things to write about. We both already knew nearl
y everything there was to know about the other."
Harry suddenly felt a sharp pang of longing. He knew hardly anything about eithe
r one of his parents. It just wasn't fair.
"Is that what's in the envelope, sir?" Harry finally asked. "Letters from my mot
"Only a few of them. A few I thought you might like to see."
Harry couldn't believe his ears. He never imagined that Snape would be willing t
o show him so much. He leaned even further forward, and could hardly believe it
when Snape finally picked up the envelope and offered it to him.
Harry took the envelope in his hands, embarrassed to note that his fingers were
trembling slightly, and flipped open the unsealed flap.
He had expected to see paper. Actual letters. But he was surprised.
"Pictures?" he asked softly, pulling out a couple. And there was his mother, onc
e again smiling up at him in two new photographs.
Almost on instinct, Harry flipped each of the pictures over, and saw the same th
ree words written on both of their backs.
A Thousand Words.
Harry looked up at Snape, who seemed to be watching him carefully.
"Your mother finally found a way to always beat me in the contest," the man expl
ained quietly. He sighed then, before continuing.
"She would just send a few of those along. And the words would always add up to
more than I could ever write."

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading! And remember you can always check my profile page for u
pdates regarding upcoming chapters. I won't lie. I'm going to be really busy in
the coming weeks. But, I'll try to keep you posted as much as I can on where I'm
at with a chapter.
Thanks again :)

Of Broken Glass and Quidditch Practice

A/N: So this chapter was originally going to be a bit longer, but I decided to c
ut it a little short so that I could go ahead and post it while I had a little e
xtra time on my hands. Enjoy!

* * *

Harry wasn't exactly sure why his eyes were stinging. He sighed and quickly wipe
d away any traces of moisture that may have been present on his face at the poti
on master's explanation, before reaching back into the envelope for more photogr
"You may look at the rest of the pictures later, Mr. Potter," Snape suddenly int
errupted Harry's actions, keeping his tone terse. "But now, you have a detention
to serve."
Harry had to do his best to suppress another sigh.
"Yes, sir," he eventually replied. He reluctantly replaced the photographs back
in the envelope, then, and attempted to hand it back to Snape.
"Put the envelope in your schoolbag, Mr. Potter. It is yours to keep," the man s
aid dismissively, gesturing with his hand.
Harry was stunned. He never really imagined that Snape was going to actually let
him keep the pictures. He had thought that the man was only letting him see the
"But sir, they're your pic"
"I have enough pictures, Potter," the professor interjected abruptly. "I also ha
ve the luxury of memories, whereas you do not. The pictures are yours. Now put t
hem away, and we may begin your detention."
Harry's face broke into a grin as he hurried over to his schoolbag to tuck his n

ew treasure away into the front pocket.

"Thank you so much, sir," the boy said, still smiling. "Thank you. This really m
eans a lot."
Snape waved the gratitude away, and then flicked his wand at the back cupboard.
It sprang open almost immediately to reveal shelves and shelves of dirty vials a
nd beakers and potion bottles.
"I imagine you may be able to guess what your task will be this evening, Mr. Pot
ter?" Snape asked, smirking at the look of distaste on the young Gryffindor's fa
"Yes, sir," Harry replied dejectedly, moving forward to get started.

* * *

Severus watched as the boy gathered some glassware in his arms and headed over t
o the sink. He focused on strengthening his occlumency shields for a moment, the
n, pushing back the emotions and smoothing out his expression as he did so.
The man never talked about Lily Evans. With anybody. And yet, he had just done s
o with none other than Harry Potter, something he had told himself he would neve
r do.
And yet, it had been almost easy. The boy's eyes had been shining with excitemen
t as he listened to Severus' story. And for a moment, it had almost been like Li
ly wasn't gone. Because for a moment, for just a split second really, Severus co
uld almost see her in the face and the expression of her young son.
Severus suppressed the urge to sigh then, as he suddenly found himself questioni
ng the wisdom of revealing such a personal story to the boy. For several minutes
, he stared at the back of the young Gryffindor's head, thinking.
And then a loud shattering sound suddenly disturbed the silence in the classroom
, and interrupted his thoughts.
"I'm sorry, sir. I'm sorry," Harry immediately began to apologize, stooping down
to begin picking up the shards of glass from the beaker he had just dropped.
"Foolish child! Leave it be," Snape said forcefully, getting to his feet and swe
eping over to the sink.
He pointed his wand at the shards littering the floor and in moments, the beaker
was completely repaired and sitting back on the countertop next to the other gl
And then he rounded on Harry.
"Did no one ever tell you not to pick up broken glass with your hands?" the prof
essor demanded.
Harry flinched back. "No, sir," he answered quietly. In fact, Aunt Petunia had a
ctually made him pick glass up off the floor. On more than one occasion.

"I can't hear you," Snape practically growled.

"No, sir," Harry spoke a little louder, flinching again when the professor sudde
nly reached out to grab his arm.
"Did you cut yourself?" Snape asked then, his eyes carefully inspecting the chil
d's hand.
Harry started to shake his head. But then he caught sight of the small trickle o
f blood pooling in his palm.
"Oh," was all he could manage to say.
"Indeed," Snape sneered, quickly summoning a potion from the other side of the r
oom. "Well, I must say, Mr. Potter, that your complete lack of common sense is t
ruly astonishing."
Harry didn't respond, but simply hissed in pain as the man poured some potion on
to his wound, cleaning it out.
"I'm sorry," Harry repeated, watching as Snape's wand carefully traced over the
thin cut then, sealing it up.
"This is becoming quite the habit of yours, isn't it, Potter?" Snape asked then,
finally dropping the boy's hand.
Harry frowned. "Sir?"
"This is the third time I have had to heal an injury of yours since the school y
ear began, Mr. Potter," Snape responded firmly.
"Sorry, sir," Harry repeated yet again, shoving his newly healed hand into his p
ocket to clench at the picture there.
"You're beginning to sound like a parrot, Potter," Snape replied scathingly. "Ju
st think before you act, and you won't have these issues."
"Yes, sir," Harry responded, shifting awkwardly under the man's glare.
"Is your hand bothering you?" Snape asked then.
"No, sir. It feels fine."
"Then you may get back to work," the professor said quickly, turning on his heel
to head back to his desk.
"Thank you," Harry spoke softly.
The man paused for a second, and silence reigned in the room. But then the potio
ns master turned his head slightly and gave a quick jerk of the head in acceptan
Harry let out a breath then, and turned back to the sink.

* * *

"What is it, Potter?" Snape asked, rubbing his eyes with one hand as he looked u
p from the essay he was in the middle of grading.
"I'm finished, sir," Harry said quickly, sensing the man's irritation.
Snape glanced over towards the sink to confirm that the boy's task was, indeed,
"You may go, Potter," Snape dismissed, then.
And Harry immediately headed for his school bag to lift it to his shoulder.
"Sir?" Harry suddenly asked, before he could lose his nerve.
"What is it, Mr. Potter?" Snape sounded exasperated. Why was it that the boy cou
ld never just leave when he was told to?
Harry swallowed hard before responding. There was no turning back now. "What was
my mother like?"
The room was silent.
And then Snape was fixing him with a deadly glare.
"How many times must we go over this, Potter?" the man sneered. "I am not having
this discussion with you."
"But why?" Harry challenged without really thinking. It wasn't fair. Snape knew
so much about his mother. Why wouldn't he share some of that information?
"Any member of the faculty at this school could tell you about your mother, Mr.
Potter. I suggest you speak to them on the subject."
Harry bit his lip, thinking of the best way to respond. He had one shot at this.
He just hoped that it would work.
"I don't think any of them know as much about her as you do, sir."
Snape resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Did the boy really think he was going
to fall for that?
But then Harry was speaking again.
"I already know quite a bit about my father. I know he was a great quidditch pla
yer. And that he was really smart"
Snape made a noise at that, something between a cough and a growl.
"Was my mother smart?" Harry asked then.
"Well, of course she was," Snape snapped, before he could stop himself. "She was
among the most intelligent people I ever knew."
A small smile crossed Harry's face at that. "What was her favorite subject?"
Realizing that he had been manipulated into answering, Snape considered refusing
the little brat. But then he briefly locked gazes with those shining emerald ey

And he found himself offering a response.

"She was rather adept at Charms," the potions master began. Then he smirked. "Of
course, she also enjoyed Potions."
"Potions?" Harry repeated, making a face.
Snape raised his eyebrows. "Is there something wrong with Potions, Mr. Potter?"
"No, sir," Harry answered quickly. "It's a fascinating subject. Really. Was she
top of the class?"
"Sometimes," Snape answered. "The two of us were always competing for that top s
"And she beat you?" Harry asked, surprised, a small bit of pride evident in his
"Sometimes, Mr. Potter," the man repeated. "Only sometimes."
Harry's smile grew wider. "Wow."
A strange feeling came over the dour potions master, then. But before he could d
well too much on what it was, he quickly cleared his throat and strengthened his
occlumency shields even further in order to suppress it.
"You should be on your way now, Mr. Potter. It is getting late."
"Yes, sir," Harry said, glancing over at the clock on the dungeon wall. "Good ni
ght, sir."
"Good night, Mr. Potter."

* * *

Harry was in high spirits the following Saturday morning at breakfast. He even t
ook an extra helping of eggs onto his plate at Hermione's urging.
"Your appetite is better today." the girl noted with satisfaction.
Harry just shrugged, uncomfortable with the topic of conversation.
Thankfully, Ron soon changed the subject. "Look, Harry. It's Hedwig,"
Harry looked up, then, just in time to see his snowy owl land next to the jug of
pumpkin juice.
"Hello, girl. How are you?" Harry asked enthusiastically. "Shouldn't you still b
e resting in the owlery?"
Hedwig gave a disapproving noise and nipped sharply at Harry's finger.
"Ouch! Okay, okay. I can see that you're better. You didn't have to bite me!"
Hedwig let out another, softer, hoot this time. Then she held out her foot to he

r master.
Frowning, Harry untied the little scroll from his owl's leg.
"What's that?" Ron asked, taking a huge bite out of an apple.
"Not sure," Harry answered absently, as he gave his owl an apologetic look. "Sor
ry, girl. I didn't know you were coming or I would have brought some treats."
Hedwig tilted her head to the side expectantly then.
"Yes, I'll bring some for lunch," Harry promised. "You just make sure you take i
t easy."
Seemingly satisfied with this answer, Hedwig gave one last hoot before taking to
the air. And Harry watched her for a moment as she soared out of the Great Hall
Sighing then, he turned back to the little scroll, and finally unrolled it.
Mr. Potter,
Please come to the infirmary after breakfast so that I may conduct your first we
ekly checkup. M. Pomfrey
And just like that, Harry's good mood evaporated. He set the small scrap of pape
r down beside his plate and poked moodily at his breakfast. He didn't want Madam
Pomfrey to give him a checkup. What if she decided to run a deeper diagnostic s
can on him this time around? He nearly shivered at the thought.
"Well?" Hermione prompted. "What is it?"
"Note from Madam Pomfrey," Harry answered simply. "I'm supposed to meet her afte
r breakfast."
Then, before either Ron or Hermione could reply, Fred and George were upon them,
both carrying their brooms and beaming widely.
"Are you coming?" Fred demanded of the trio.
"Where?" Ron asked, eying his brothers warily. Now what were they planning to do
"The big race, of course!" George exclaimed.
"Down at the quidditch pitch!" Fred supplied.
"What?" Ron and Harry asked in unison.
The twins shared identical looks of exasperation then, before offering a further
"All of the quidditch teams are getting together this morning to have a race dow
n at the quidditch pitch," George finally said.
"How do you not know this?" Fred put in, shaking his head.
"It was supposed to be a secret," came Oliver's voice, as the quidditch captain
made his way over to the group. "You two both know that Harry isn't allowed on a
broom right now. I will not jeopardize his place on the team! And for your info

rmation, it is not a race. It is a joint quidditch practice. To promote house un

ity. It was Dumbledore's idea."
The twins exchanged meaningful looks.
"Sure, Oliver," Fred said with a grin.
"Whatever you say," George put in. "But we all know that you would never allow t
he other quidditch teams to see our new plays and game strategies."
"Which is why we'll be having another practice later this afternoon," Oliver res
ponded with a shrug.
"I haven't been banned from watching quidditch, Oliver," Harry suddenly spoke up
, crossing his arms as he glared up at the sixth year.
"I know that. I just didn't want you to be tempted to participate"
"I won't be," Harry interrupted, suddenly getting to his feet. I want to come wa
"But Harry," Hermione said, pointing to the abandoned message on the table. "You
're supposed to go after breakfast."
"But I will go after breakfast, Hermione," Harry reasoned. "An hour or so from n
ow will certainly be after breakfast."

* * *

Severus swept along the corridors, heading for the hospital wing. School had onl
y been in session for a few weeks, and already Madam Pomfrey had summoned him, i
n need of more potions.
It was truly remarkable how many injuries and illnesses the student body were ab
le to acquire in such a short amount of time, the potions master couldn't help b
ut to think. He was half-convinced that the little miscreants were doing it on p
urpose, fully aware of all the extra work that it would mean for him.
He arrived at the infirmary and pushed the doors open. And inside, he immediatel
y spotted Madam Pomfrey at the back of the empty wing, going through her medicin
e cabinet, and making notes on a piece of parchment she held in her hand.
"Good morning, Poppy," Severus greeted, walking further into the room.
"Oh, Severus, thank goodness. I've just about finished my list for you."
Severus strode past all of the empty beds until he stood at the mediwitch's side
, taking a quick look inside the cabinet as he waited for Madam Pomfrey to finis
"Here you are," the woman said a moment later, passing the parchment over to the
potions master.
Severus nodded as he glanced down the list. "I'll get started on these right awa

"Thank you, Severus. I don't know what I would do without you."

"I'm sure you would manage just fine, Poppy," Severus answered, folding up the p
archment, and turning to leave. "Good day."
"Oh, Severus?" the mediwitch asked. "I don't suppose you've seen Mr. Potter this
morning, have you?"
Severus frowned as he turned back around. "No. Why?"
"I sent him a message this morning to come see me after breakfast and he hasn't
been by," the woman explained.
In barely more than a second, the man's facial expression went from pleasant to
menacing. "Is that so?" he practically growled.
"Now, Severus. Don't go jumping to conclusions"
"It's difficult not to with that boy," the man interrupted. "There is a joint qu
idditch practice among all of the house teams this morning. I'd be willing to be
t my entire Gringotts vault that that is where he is."
Poppy frowned. "You don't think he would"
"Yes, I most certainly do think he would fly a broom," Severus finished her thou
ght as he stalked towards the door.
And with that, he was gone, and Poppy Pomfrey couldn't help but to feel sorry fo
r the young Harry Potter.
For his sake, she really hoped that the boy wasn't flying on a broom.

* * *

A/N: So what do you think? Feedback is always welcome!

Thanks for reading! :)

Quick Checkup
A/N: So here's Chapter 27! I know it's a bit short, but I hope you'll enjoy it a
One quick announcement before you start reading: One of my amazing, wonderful re
aders, SevLiLyHarry, has offered to translate this story into French. She has al
ready posted the first few chapters under the title "Un millier de mots" for any
one who may be interested in checking that out. I have posted a link on my profi
le page as well.

Okay, now onto the story.

* * *

There wasn't a single student stupid enough not to step out of the way as Severu
s Snape stormed through the castle corridors, dragging a young Gryffindor boy al
ong behind him by the collar of his shirt.
"But sir, I didn't! I wasn't" Harry tried to protest, ignoring the sympathetic lo
oks on the faces of a group of Hufflepuffs who quickly darted out of the way of
the potions master's path.
"Silence!" the man hissed, rounding a corner and throwing open the door of an un
used classroom.
He then pulled the boy towards the door. "Inside," he growled dangerously.
Harry had no choice then but to stumble through the doorway ahead of Snape, who
followed close behind and closed the door with a snap as soon as they had both c
rossed the threshold.
The man watched the child eying him warily for a moment as he attempted to compo
se himself. He suddenly found himself wishing once more that he had simply dropp
ed the boy off with his head of house. This was her problem, wasn't it? He had h
is own students to worry about.
"Please, sir" Harry suddenly whispered.
"I don't recall giving you permission to speak, Mr. Potter," the professor spat
then, cutting the boy off.
And Harry immediately clamped his mouth shut, not wanting to make things worse f
or himself than they already were.
"Now," the man said quietly, in that silky smooth voice that ran chills up and d
own Harry's spine. "Let me first tell you what I observed upon arriving at the q
uidditch pitch a few minutes ago."
Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from speaking out in protest.
He knew what the man had seen. But the professor had it all wrong! If he could j
ust be allowed to explain
"What I saw, Mr. Potter," Snape continued, fixing his student with a deadly glar
e, "was an out-of-control quidditch practice that had somehow morphed into a rac
ing competition."
The man paused for just a moment to give off a sneer, and Harry instinctively to
ok a step back and ducked his head.
"Now you may, perhaps, be able to imagine my surprise when I discovered, in the
middle of it all, a certain young Gryffindor. A young Gryffindor who has been ex
pressly forbidden from flying. A young Gryffindor standing on the field with a b
roomstick in his hand, preparing to join in on all the fun." Snape continued men
There was a much longer pause this time. But Harry didn't dare speak without per

"What do you have to say for yourself?" the potions master finally asked.
And almost immediately, the words were tumbling out of Harry's mouth.
"I wasn't going to fly, professor. Honest. Someone just handed me a broom. That'
s all."
"Someone just handed you a broom," Snape repeated softly, his tone reflecting not
hing but disbelief.
"Yes, sir. It's true," Harry continued hurriedly. "I'm not sure who exactly gave
it to me. Things got a bit chaotic after the first few minutes of practice. But
Malfoy had been bragging about how no one could beat him and his new broom in a
race, and then someone was shoving a school broom in my hand. I didn't even have
a chance to refuse! And then you showed up, and"
"I find it quite fascinating, Mr. Potter, how all of your troubles seem to someh
ow trace back to Mr. Malfoy."
"It's not my fault that we always end up in the same place at the same time!" Ha
rry answered.
"Really?" Snape countered. "Because I was under the impression that you had no b
usiness being down at the quidditch pitch at all this morning."
"I just wanted to watch"
"Madam Pomfrey sent you a message, did she not?" Snape interrupted.
At that, Harry fell silent, and he began nervously twisting his hands together i
n front of him. Of course Snape would know all about that.
"Well, Mr. Potter?" the potions master prompted.
"I was going to go," Harry answered at last, dropping his gaze to the floor.
"But you got lost?" Snape asked scathingly. "Took a wrong turn, perhaps?"
"Well, the message just said to go to the hospital wing after breakfast," Harry
argued. "It didn't say that I needed to go directly after breakfast."
"Do you really want to play the interpretation game with me, Potter?" Snape prac
tically growled. "You knew exactly what the message meant, didn't you?"
Harry swallowed hard. He knew that there would be no getting out of this now. "Y
es, sir," he eventually whispered.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor," Snape announced then. "And believe me, Potter.
The next time you deliberately miss an appointment with Madam Pomfrey, or I catc
h you with a broom, I won't be so lenient. I don't care if you are simply holdin
g it, and not flying it."
In the next moment then, the classroom door was swinging open, and Snape was ste
ering Harry out into the corridor, one hand clamped down firmly on the boy's sho

* * *

By the time they arrived at the hospital wing, Harry's stomach was so twisted in
knots that he was beginning to feel ill. What was going to happen now? Were his
secrets about to be discovered? How was he going to talk his way out of it if t
hey were?
He was only partially aware when the potions master deposited him on the edge of
the nearest hospital bed and stalked off towards Madam Pomfrey's office to aler
t the mediwitch to their arrival.
"Ah, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said, her voice brisk as she bustled out of her
office a minute or so later. It had been long enough, Harry thought, that Snape
had likely already explained the entire story to her.
"Hello, ma'am," Harry said politely, putting all of his effort into trying to so
und calm.
"Now every Saturday for the next few weeks, Mr. Potter, I expect you to report h
ere as soon as breakfast is over," the woman began without preamble.
There could be no doubt now, Harry thought. Snape had definitely told her.
"Yes, ma'am," he answered softly.
"This won't take long," Madam Pomfrey assured him then. "I just want to ensure t
hat the nutrient potions are doing their work. It'll just be a simple scan."
Harry felt himself relax ever so slightly at those words. It didn't sound like M
adam Pomfrey was about to perform anything too revealing, anyway.
"I'll be on my way, then," Snape spoke up, keeping his narrowed eyes focused on
Harry. "But as soon as you are done here, Mr. Potter, I will require your presen
ce in the dungeons for detention."
Harry frowned as he looked up at his professor. "But it's too early for detentio
n, sir."
"Oh?" Snape asked, a thin smile spreading across his lips. "I recall assigning y
ou two weeks' worth of detentions, Mr. Potter. But I do not recall stating that
they would all take place in the evening hours. You must have misinterpreted my w
And with that Snape swept out of the hospital wing, leaving Harry in a stunned s
ilence behind him.

* * *

It was with an equal measure of relief and annoyance that Harry made his way dow
n to the potions classroom several minutes later.
Relief because the scan Madam Pomfrey had performed on him really had been as si
mple and easy as she had promised it would be. And his most closely guarded secr
ets about his life with the Dursleys were still safe.

But he couldn't help but to also be annoyed that the greasy bat of the dungeons
was making him serve one of his detentions on a Saturday morning, when he would
usually be hanging out with his friends and relaxing after a long week of classe
A few moments later, as Harry finally reached his destination, the door to the p
otions classroom swung open before Harry even had the chance to knock.
"Come in, Mr. Potter," Snape spoke silkily. "I already have your station set up
for you."
Station? Harry wondered, as he stepped into the room.
And then he spotted the potions master, standing over a cauldron at a work stati
on on the far side of the room. And a few feet away, there was another station s
et up. A prep station.
Snape pointed to where the various potions ingredients had been lined up on the
counter. "Your task today, Mr. Potter, will be to assist me in preparing ingredi
ents for several batches of calming draught Madam Pomfrey has asked me to prepar
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, walking over to the counter. Well, at least he didn'
t have to write another essay.
"Use the pestle and mortar to grind those herbs into a fine powder," the man com
manded, barely looking away from his cauldron as he spoke.
Harry had to suppress a sigh, then. There were a lot of herbs.
"Now, Mr. Potter," Snape said forcefully.
"Yes, sir," was the quiet response.

* * *

It was strange, Harry thought. But after a while, he almost had to admit that pr
epping ingredients for Snape wasn't all that bad.
In fact, he may even go so far as to say that it was actually kind of relaxing.
It was quiet in the potions classroom. Far quieter than it ever was in class. An
d there was no Malfoy around to try to sabotage him while he worked.
Sure, Snape barked instructions at him from time to time. And criticized him whe
n he failed to grind the herbs into a fine powder. But overall, the man left him
alone. And it gave Harry time to think.
Of course with thoughts came questions. And quite suddenly, after nearly an hour
of working in silence alongside the professor, Harry began speaking before he e
ven had the chance to stop himself.
"My mother liked the color blue, didn't she?"
Snape paused in his stirring of the cauldron, completely taken off guard by the

random question.
"I mean, in at least half of the pictures you gave me, she was wearing something
blue," Harry explained. "Was it her favorite color?"
Snape took a moment to look towards the ceiling and let out a small sigh. What w
ould it take to get this child to stop asking these questions?
And then he turned to face the boy, saw the look of determination in those brigh
t, familiar green eyes, and the realization suddenly hit him.
He was never going to stop asking.
It was silent for nearly a full minute after that. And then
"Yes," the man finally replied, turning back to his cauldron to give it another
stir. "I always suggested to her that she would be far better suited to Ravencla
w than Gryffindor. She wasn't nearly so fond of red."
"But she was brave," Harry replied. "Like a Gryffindor."
"She was also highly intelligent," the man countered. "Like a Ravenclaw."
Harry smiled then, as he presented yet another full mortar of powdered herbs to
the professor for approval.
The man nodded once. "Decent enough," he commented. "Now the next part of the pr
ocess is the most difficult, Mr. Potter, and I will require absolute silence whi
le I work."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered quickly, his eyes falling on the now bubbling cauldro
He then watched in fascination as the potions master went about his work, expert
ly adding ingredients and stirring the brew, with scarcely a single glance at th
e instructions.
A few minutes passed. And then the man suddenly looked over and met the young bo
y's gaze. And a strange feeling once again took up residence in Harry's chest.
And despite everything that had happened that morning with his hated potions pro
fessor, Harry couldn't help but to smile up at the man.
And then in the next moment, he had to work extra hard to suppress a laugh at th
e completely stunned expression on the potions master's face.

* * *

A/N: Thanks for reading!


The Wrath of Snape

A/N: Oh, it is so good to be back. This past April was probably the longest mont
h of my life. I've never studied so much for exams before, and it was absolutely
To all of my wonderful readers, Thank You for being patient for the continuation
of this story. I know it's been a long wait, but I finally have a new chapter f
or you! It isn't terribly long, but I wanted to get something posted fairly quic
kly to make up for all those weeks of nothing...

* * *

Snape was having a terrible day.

He practically collapsed onto one of the several couches in the teacher's lounge
located near the fireplace. He tilted his head back and rubbed at his temples t
hen, trying in vain to stave off the impending headache he could feel coming on.
They were becoming far more frequent as of late, and even his best headache pot
ion didn't seem to make much difference.
"Are you feeling well, Severus?" a voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Absolutely fantastic," the man growled sarcastically as the Gryffindor Head of
House sat down next to him, a cup of tea in hand.
"I heard there were somecomplications in one of your fifth year classes?" McGonag
all asked sympathetically. "Something about an exploding cauldron?"
"Three," the potions master corrected her. "Three exploding cauldrons, Minerva.
All in quick succession. I've never seen such incompetence in all my life! And f
rom fifth years, no less! These dunderheads are supposed to be taking their O.W.
L.s this year!"
"Well, it is only September, Severus."
"The end of September," Severus emphasized. "It's practically October!"
"Which is still early in the year," McGonagall reasoned. "I'm sure your students
will be more than ready for their exam when the time comes."
"Not likely," Snape grumbled.
"At least no one was seriously injured," the Transfiguration professor pointed o
Snape offered nothing more than a grunt in response, and McGonagall thought that
perhaps it was time to change the subject.
"If my calculations are correct," the woman said casually, "yesterday was the la
st day of Mr. Potter's detentions, was it not?"
Snape suppressed a sigh. He didn't want to have to think about the Potter brat r

ight now. He had other things to worry about. Like how much he was going to wrin
g the necks of those inept Hufflepuffs the next time he saw them. Three cauldron
"That is correct," he eventually replied in a tight voice, as he tried not to re
live the last couple of nights over in his head. Potter had seemed to have had a
never-ending supply of questions about his mother. And it didn't seem to matter
that his professor refused to answer most of them. The infernal nuisance just k
ept asking.
"I'm sure both of you are quite relieved," McGonagall said, a small smile on her
lips as she took a sip of tea.
"Indeed," the man muttered darkly. "You have no idea."

* * *

Snape made his way to the owlery sometime later, an envelope containing an order
form for the apothecary clutched tightly in hand. He would now have to go throu
gh the task of replacing all of the ingredients that had been lost as a result o
f today's incident.
Every time he thought about that morning, the anger boiled up within him again,
and he was just barely able to keep himself from shaking with rage. He had told
the little idiots at the beginning of the year! He was not going to tolerate any
more incompetence! A month's worth of detentions with Filch should teach them t
o pay attention to instructions in class!
He reached the top of the owlery's staircase at last and immediately moved in th
e direction of one of the school's large barn owls.
But then there was a fluttering of feathers, and another owl was suddenly landin
g on his shoulder. A large, snowy owl.
"And what exactly do you think you're doing?" Snape growled at the familiar bird
"I think she really likes you, professor," came a voice from behind the potions
master, causing the man to nearly groan. Of course the brat would have to be the
"Potter," Snape responded, rounding on the boy, the irritation evident in his vo
ice, "kindly call off your pet. Now."
"You did save her life, sir," Harry pointed out. "I think she might just want to
thank you."
"I do not require thanks, Potter. Especially not from birds. Now take your owl s
o that I can get on with conducting my own business."
At those words, Hedwig suddenly stuck a foot out in front of her, balancing awkw
ardly on Snape's shoulder as she offered her services to the man.
An amused smile broke out across the second year's face then. "It looks like you
have a volunteer, sir."

"I think I'll choose someone to carry my mail who hasn't been poisoned in the la
st couple of weeks," Snape sneered, as Harry finally moved forward to coax Hedwi
g off of Snape's shoulder.
The owl gave a small, offended screech at that, before moving to settle on Harry
's shoulder instead.
"She's feeling much better, sir. I think she wants to start flying more."
"Short trips, only, Mr. Potter," Snape warned, as he walked over to attach his m
essage to the leg of the barn owl he had been eying just a minute ago. "That was
a nasty poison, and your owl may still tire easily."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, just as Hedwig began arranging his hair with her bea
No wonder the boy's hair is always a mess, Snape thought to himself, a look of d
istaste crossing his face. Even worse than his father.
The barn owl gave a soft hoot to Snape then, before taking to the air, the profe
ssor's letter tied securely to his foot as he flew out into the open sky.
The man turned to go then, but a small voice stopped him in his tracks.
"What, Potter?" the man asked, whipping around and glaring at the boy, almost da
ring him to ask a stupid question.
But no doubt it was going to be another question about his mother.
"Sir," the boy began, running a hand through his atrociously messy hair, "I know
my detentions are over and everything, but"
Snape frowned as the boy trailed off. "But what, Potter?"
"I thought, wellI mean, if you would want me to"
"You have exactly five seconds to articulate what you wish to say," Snape sneere
d. "And then I will be leaving."
"I thought maybe I could help you out with brewing more potions, sir," Harry sai
d in a rush then. "I know you haven't finished all the ones for Madam Pomfrey ye
t, and"
Snape held up a hand to stop the boy. He was sure the shock must have been visib
le on his face for a few seconds, but in the silence that followed, he was able
to fully restore the emotionless mask across his features. He was pretty sure he
knew what this was all about, anyway. Even now, he saw the boy reach inside his
pocket, where he knew there was a picture of Lily. A picture that he had provid
ed for the child.
"Mr. Potter, I take my work very seriously," the man finally replied.
"I know, sir"
Snape once again held up his hand. "Your work in my class has been mediocre on t
he best of days. And those have been few and far between. Therefore, I can only
conclude that you are not motivated by a desire to help me with potions, are you
, Mr. Potter?"

Harry dropped his gaze to the floor. He knew it would be pointless to lie. "No,
sir. Not entirely."
"Not entirely?" Snape asked in disbelief.
"Well, I do find your work interesting, sir."
"And you expect me to believe that?" came the scathing reply. "You've hardly bee
n paying attention at all these last few days. You ask far too many questions, P
otter, and none of them have to do with the potions we are brewing. So the answe
r is no."
"But I have been paying attention," Harry protested.
"No," the man repeated firmly.
And in the next moment, the potions master was sweeping down the owlery stairs.

* * *

Nobody was looking forward to potions class the day after the fifth-year cauldro
n incident. Not even the Slytherins. The word was that Snape's mood had been eve
n fouler than usual since the accident, and the second years were fully expectin
g a rough class period down in the dungeons.
They weren't disappointed.
The littlest things seemed to set the professor off that day. If anything was th
e least bit off, or the least bit out of place with the variant of calming draug
ht potion they were brewing that day, he would bring all of his wrath down on th
e student or students responsible.
"At this stage in the process, your potion should be a pale lavender in color,"
Snape spat out as he descended on Neville, who let out a very audible squeak of
terror at the man's close proximity.
"So tell me, Mr. Longbottom," Snape continued, ignoring the boy's obvious fear,
"why is your potion a light periwinkle?"
Neville opened his mouth to speak, but no sounds came out. The boy was paralyzed
with fear, and Snape was showing no signs of sympathy.
"Shall I just assume it to be incompetence, then?" the man practically snarled,
waving his wand at the contents of Neville's cauldron, vanishing them from sight
. "That will be a zero for today's work, Longbottom. Begin cleaning up your stat
Harry frowned at the back of Snape's robes as the man moved over to the Slytheri
n side of the room. The professor was being entirely unfair. From what he had be
en able to see, there had been nothing wrong with Neville's potion. It had looke
d lavender enough to him.
"And just what do you think you are doing, Mr. Malfoy?" Snape's voice suddenly t
hundered. And Harry's head whipped around to watch this latest exchange, Neville
's plight momentarily forgotten.

"Adding the willow bark, sir?" Malfoy sounded uncertain.

"Before the valerian?" Snape questioned.
"Does it matter?" the blonde asked without thinking.
It had been the wrong thing to say. And Harry was quite sure that had anyone but
Malfoy dared to say it, Snape would have hexed them for it.
"Does it matter?" Snape hissed, leaning across the boy's desk. "Can you really t
hink of no reason why it would matter, Mr. Malfoy?"
Malfoy frowned. He clearly hadn't expected to be on the receiving end of Snape's
displeasure. "I, uh"
"Mr. Potter," Snape suddenly barked, and Harry had to wonder how it was that he
was getting dragged into this.
"Yes, sir?" Harry answered. Next to him, he could practically feel Ron glaring d
aggers at the professor.
"Why would it matter that Mr. Malfoy here is adding willow bark to his potion be
fore the valerian?"
Harry swallowed nervously. He was pretty sure he knew the answer. He had been he
lping the potions master prepare batches of calming draught for the last couple
days, after all. He just hoped Snape wasn't trying to trick him.
"Because the willow bark could make the potion more volatile without the valeria
n to neutralize it," Harry answered, trying to keep his voice from trembling wit
h nervousness.
"Are you trying to blow up my classroom?" Snape demanded then, once again speaki
ng to Malfoy. "Even Potter knows why it is important to add the valerian first.
So what exactly is your excuse for being ignorant?"
Harry had never seen Malfoy's face so red. And the tension in the room was such
that hardly anyone dared to breathe. It was clear that no one was safe from the
man's anger today.
Snape sneered as he turned away and swept back to the other side of the room, st
opping in front of Harry's cauldron.
"How many lavender sprigs did you add to your potion, Potter?" Snape asked brusq
"Three, sir," Harry answered, gripping the edge of the table tightly. He had kno
wn it was only a matter of time before he would get his own tongue-lashing.
"Why not four, as some of your classmates seem to have done?" Snape continued, g
laring over at Ron as he spoke. The redhead immediately shrank back in his seat.
"Because we're making a child's dose of calming draught, sir."
"And is there a difference between a child's dose and an adult's dose, Mr. Potte
"If a child takes an adult dose, the potion may make the child's emotions go all
over the place," Harry answered quickly, remembering his own experience with th

e adult dose the night of his detention with Filch. "Even if those emotions are
"It is a sad day indeed," Snape stated then, his silky voice suddenly taking ove
r, "when the only student in class who is half-way prepared for the lesson is Mr
. Potter."
Both Ron and Hermione suddenly looked offended for their friend, but Harry kept
his face expressionless.
"Class is dismissed," Snape snarled as he stalked back to his desk. "Don't even
bother providing me with a sample of your potions, today. I will not waste my ti
me marking them." The man waved his wand then, and all of the potions in the roo
m disappeared.
"Git," Ron muttered darkly, as he and the rest of the class began cleaning up th
eir stations. "Even when you know the answers, he insults you," he said to Harry
, his voice incredulous.
"Yeah," Harry said absently, looking towards the front of the room, where Snape
was still scowling at everyone in sight.
Then he and the professor locked gazes. And the man was suddenly speaking once m
"Stay behind, Potter," the man snapped.
"Now what does he want?" Hermione whispered.
"Don't know," Harry answered. "I'll see you guys later, alright?"
His friends gave him identical uncertain looks, but eventually turned away to le
ave with the rest of the class.
And then he was once again alone with the professor.

* * *

A/N: So I hope you enjoyed this little chapter. It felt so good to be able to wr
ite for enjoyment again! Let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading!

A/N: Hello everyone! I know this is a short chapter, but I reached a good stoppi
ng point, and it means that I get to put out a fairly quick update. Enjoy!

* * *

"Come here, Potter," Snape snapped as soon as the classroom door had closed behi
nd the last of the other second years.
Harry hurried to obey, nearly knocking his stool over in his haste to get to Sna
pe's desk.
"Yes, sir?" he asked nervously, hardly daring to hope that Snape may have change
d his mind about taking him on as an assistant. But he had had a chance to prove
himself in class. What else could Snape possibly want with him?
Snape didn't answer immediately, but eventually shoved a piece of parchment acro
ss the desk so that Harry could see.
Taking a closer look, the boy soon realized that he was staring down at the home
work assignment he had turned in two days ago. And at the top, his professor had
scribbled one word.
"I thought we agreed that you would be handing in nothing but your best work fro
m now on, Mr. Potter," the man growled, glaring down at the young Gryffindor.
Harry visibly deflated. So Snape just wanted to berate him about his homework.
"I've been doing better," he attempted to argue, hoping he wasn't about to make
the potions master's bad mood worse. "And an Acceptable isn't so bad."
"Except that you have clearly demonstrated that you are capable of producing bet
ter work!" Snape hissed, snatching the parchment back up and giving it a shake.
"This essay was clearly not thought out well, and lazily thrown together!"
Harry dropped his gaze to the floor as his face turned red. So he had procrastin
ated a bit with that essay. He had been playing a lot of wizard's chess with Ron
, and discussing Quidditch strategies with his teammates over the last few days.
But why should Snape care? He didn't have to be perfect all the time, did he?
"If you are unable to manage your time wisely, and keep up with your schoolwork,
then I cannot allow you to assist me in making potions," the man continued.
And Harry's head snapped up.
"You would let me help?" he asked eagerly, momentarily forgetting that the man w
as still fixing him with what could only be described as a deadly glare.
"Not if this is going to be the quality of your work," Snape answered, placing t
he parchment back on the desk rather forcefully.
"I'll do better. I promise"
"That is exactly what you said the last time we had this discussion, Potter. Why
should I believe you this time?"
Harry hung his head again, having no idea how to respond. "I'm sorry, sir," he s
aid quietly. "But I will try harder."

"Look at me, Potter," Snape said sternly.

And Harry slowly raised his head.
"You have proven today that you were paying attention these last few nights in d
etention," the man said then. "And for that, I may be willing to give you an opp
ortunity to assist me"
"Really?" Harry couldn't help but to interrupt, his face immediately lighting up
with hope.
"But," the man made sure to emphasize, holding up a hand to silence the boy, "If
I receive just one more paper from you that is anything below an Exceeds Expect
ations, I will abruptly put an end to this little arrangement. Do I make myself
quite clear, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!"
"Do not make me regret this decision," Snape warned. "I will see you this evenin
g, Potter."
"Yes, sir," Harry repeated happily. "I'll be here."
Snape just shook his head then as he watched the boy gather his belongings and r
ush out the door.
"What have I gotten myself into this time?" the man grumbled quietly to himself
as soon as he was alone.

* * *

The next couple of weeks seemed to fly by as Harry focused harder than he ever h
ad before on his schoolwork.
"I swear you're becoming more and more like Hermione every day," Ron said incred
ulously as he glanced over a potions essay Harry had just rewritten for the thir
d time.
"I'm just trying to do a little better in my classes this year," Harry said with
a shrug. "It's no big deal."
"No big deal?" Ron repeated. "Harry, you hate potions."
"It really isn't that bad, Ron," Harry answered, rolling up his parchment as he
got to his feet in the Gryffindor common room.
A look of shock settled on the redhead's face then as he watched his friend prep
aring to leave. "Don't tell me you're going to the library again?"
"I just need to research a few things for my essay," Harry lied smoothly. He cer
tainly wasn't going to tell his friend that he was voluntarily going to the dung
eons to help Snape every night. Somehow, he didn't think that conversation would
go very well.
"Okay, you're not like Hermione, anymore. You are Hermione."

Harry just grinned. "I'll see you later, Ron."

* * *

"We will begin brewing some Pepperup Potion today, Mr. Potter," Snape said brusq
uely, as he directed Harry to his prep station. "Madam Pomfrey has informed me t
hat she is nearly out of stock."
"I know," Harry answered, rolling up his sleeves. "She practically force-fed it
to me at my last checkup, even though I didn't have a cold or anything! I had st
eam pouring out of my ears for hours!"
"If Madam Pomfrey gave you a dose, then you must have been on the verge of devel
oping an illness, Mr. Potter," the potions master said in his usual severe tone.
"You should be grateful she caught it early."
"Yes, sir," Harry answered. "Especially since I've been cleared to start flying
again next Saturday!"
"You must be absolutely delighted," the man said sardonically. "Now chop up thos
e roots for me," he directed, when he saw that Harry was ready to start working.
Harry picked up the small knife then, and pulled a pile of roots closer to him.
"I think Oliver's even more excited than I am," he replied. "I think he's planni
ng to work me extra hard so I'll be ready for the Slytherin match next month."
"If you aren't careful, Potter, you'll end up right back in the hospital wing,"
Snape warned, as he uncorked a bottle of something bright yellow in color.
"Don't worry, sir. I can handle myself on a broom."
"Indeed," the man answered simply, in what Harry thought sounded like a disbelie
ving tone.

* * *

Harry trudged through the castle doors the following Saturday, broomstick in han
d, and his clothes splattered with mud.
Quidditch practice had been tough, but at least he had managed to catch the snit
ch nearly a dozen times that morning. Harry had never seen Oliver look so happy.
"You see, Oliver?" one of the twins had said at the end of practice. "When you g
ive people time off, they actually perform better."
Harry smiled at the memory of Oliver turning away, pretending not to hear, as he
walked along a narrow corridor on the first floor.
And then he suddenly heard a quiet mewling sound, just before something small an
d furry began to rub up against his leg.
"Hi, Mrs. Norris," he said happily, looking down at the scrawny feline. "Careful

, I'll get you all dirty."

Mrs. Norris looked up at him then, before tilting her head in the direction of t
he trail of mud Harry was leaving with his shoes. Her tail seemed to twitch in a
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry," Harry quickly apologized. "It's just so wet and muddy
The boy fumbled around in his pocket then until he found his wand. Aiming it at
his shoes, he muttered a quick cleaning spell and then looked to the cat for app
Mrs. Norris began moving away then, but she stopped halfway down the corridor to
look back expectantly at Harry.
"Do you want me to follow you?" he asked uncertainly.
Harry thought that the flick of the tail this time was likely in assent, so he q
uickly followed Mrs. Norris down the corridor and around the next corner.
And not five seconds later, Harry heard a roar of anger from the corridor he had
just left.
"Filthy rotten students! Always making a mess!"
The voice definitely belonged to Filch, and Harry's heart began to race as he re
membered the last encounter he had had with the man.
"Just wait until I get my hands on 'em this time!" the man snarled.
Harry swallowed and immediately looked around for his companion.
Mrs. Norris was still moving, and so Harry continued to follow her, turning down
several corridors and climbing three flights of stairs until they were well awa
y from the murderous caretaker.
Finally, the cat stopped when they reached a small alcove in a hallway somewhere
on the fourth floor. Harry let out a huge sigh of relief as he crouched down to
scratch behind the feline's ears.
"Thanks, Mrs. Norris, you saved me again," he said sincerely, smiling as the cat
purred loudly in contentment. "You're a real friend."
Mrs. Norris lifted her chin so Harry could easily reach underneath and the Gryff
indor laughed as he moved to scratch her there. "I should get you something for
the next time I see you," the boy said, still grinning. "Would you like that? Ma
ybe a nice snack?"
Mrs. Norris seemed to purr louder at that, and Harry laughed. "Okay, I'll see wh
at I can find."

* * *

Harry had almost made it back to the common room after leaving Mrs. Norris on th
e fourth floor.

And then he heard a long, drawn-out sigh from behind him.

And Harry quickly turned around.
"Nick?" he asked uncertainly, as he recognized the Gryffindor ghost. "Is everyth
ing alright?"
"Oh, yes, everything is just fine, Harry. Splendid," Nick said sarcastically.
Harry repositioned his broomstick on his shoulder as he pointed to the piece of
paper in Nick's hand. "What's that?" he asked curiously.
But almost as soon as Nick began speaking, Harry came to regret his question. Of
course he stood there politely, listening as Nick went on about his denied requ
est to join the Headless Hunt. He nodded in all the right places, and did his be
st to look sympathetic.
And when the ghost had finally finished his rant, and there was a slightly awkwa
rd silence in the seventh-floor corridor, Harry said the only thing he could say
in such a situation.
"Is there anything I can do for you, Nick?"
Nick hesitated for a moment, glancing from Harry to his letter, and back again.
But finally he made up his mind.
"Harry, would you consider attending my Deathday Party?

* * *

A/N: So as I'm sure you all can guess, next up will be Halloween :) I'll start w
orking on that chapter soon.
Thanks for reading!

Dungeon Bats
A/N: Hello again! Sorry for the long delay between chapters, guys. I've been pre
tty busy lately, and so this chapter took a terribly long time to write. Again,
my deepest, sincerest apologies.
Also, thank you for all of your wonderful reviews and words of encouragement. Yo
u're all the best :)
And finally, I know I said this was going to be the Halloween chapter, but I end
ed up cutting it in half so that I could get something posted after such a long
wait. Enjoy!

* * *

It was dark.
Harry looked around frantically for any kind of light source, but it was impossi
ble to see anything in the tiny space that he was trapped in.
There was no way out.
On all sides, Harry felt nothing but walls. Everywhere his hands touched, he cou
ld feel the panels of his enclosure closing in on him. He tried to take a deep b
reath to calm down, but no air was finding its way into his lungs.
And the walls just kept pushing in. His hands scrabbled uselessly against them a
s he tried to find an exit. There had to be a door somewhere.
He was in his cupboard, his mind kept telling him. The cupboard under the stairs
. He just needed to find the door, and he could get out.
But of course, the Dursleys had probably locked the door. His aunt and uncle nea
rly always locked the door.
"Let me out!" Harry yelled in terror, banging against the walls in the hopes tha
t someone would hear. "Please!" he begged then, as his tiny prison grew smaller
and smaller with each passing second. "Please!"
And then suddenly Harry was falling. It was like the floor had dropped out from
under him, and he was just falling down down down deep into the darkness.
Until there was a blinding green light that filled up the entirety of Harry's vi
sion. And a scream. A terrible, bone-chilling scream that was all too familiar.
"Mum!" Harry called out desperately, just as his eyes flew open and his nightmar
e came to an end.

* * *

"Harry?" Ron spoke cautiously, leaning over the side of his friend's bed, his fa
ce full of concern.
Harry just let out a groan, and raised a hand to his sweaty forehead, echoes of
his mother's screams still bouncing around inside his mind.
"Are you alright, Harry?" Ron pressed. "I think you were having a nightmare."
At those words, the screams began to fade away and, suddenly becoming more aware
of his surroundings, Harry pushed himself into a sitting position and looked ar
He and Ron were alone in the Gryffindor dormitory.

"What time is it?" he asked, closing his eyes against the bright light streaming
in through the nearby window.
"It's time for breakfast," Ron answered, still sounding worried. "We should prob
ably hurry."
Harry's stomach churned at the thought of food. He sighed then, and opened his e
"You go on, Ron. I'm really not very hungry."
Ron immediately raised his eyebrows. "Are you sure?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I'll see you in class, okay?"
Ron frowned. "Are you feeling?"
"I feel fine, Ron," Harry interrupted quickly. "I'm just a little tired. It's li
ke you said. I had a little nightmare."
"It didn't seem like a little nightmare, Harry. You were tossing and turning and
yelling in your sleep."
The nausea in Harry's stomach increased. "I was yelling?" he asked nervously. "W
hat did I say?"
Ron shook his head. "I don't think you were saying anything."
Harry felt somewhat relieved at that news. It would have been rather embarrassin
g to find out that the entire dormitory had heard him calling out for his dead m
other while he slept.
Harry nodded his satisfaction to that answer and began working to extract himsel
f from the bedsheets he was tangled in.
"I'll just jump in the shower then," he said. "You go down to breakfast."
Ron watched as his friend finally managed to throw his legs over the side of the
bed and stand up.
"Alright," he said at last, "I'll see you in class."
A few moments later, the dormitory door clicked shut, and Harry was alone. He im
mediately went to the trunk at the foot of his bed and opened the lid, revealing
the messy contents within.
Feeling along the bottom of the trunk, he quickly pulled out the large white env
elope that Snape had given him and reached inside.
He selected a few pictures of his mother at random and, with a sigh, sat down on
the floor beside his open trunk. He just stared at the photographs longingly th
en, until it was time to get ready for class.

* * *

It quickly became apparent to Harry that, apart from himself, there wasn't a sin

gle student at Hogwarts who wasn't excited for Halloween the following day. Ever
ywhere he went, it seemed that all anyone wanted to talk about was the big Hallo
ween feast and all of the treats it promised.
"I heard that most of the sweets are enormous!" a first year Hufflepuff was sayi
ng to his companion as Harry passed them in the hall on the way to Defense Again
st the Dark Arts class that afternoon. "Lollipops as big as your head!"
"Well, I heard that there isn't even a main course!" the other Hufflepuff replie
d enthusiastically. "Everyone just skips right to dessert!"
"And the decorations"
Harry missed the rest of the conversation as the first years rounded the corner
behind him and soon were out of earshot.
But soon another voice was filling Harry's ear. And this one was even less welco
me than the others had been.
"Harry, Harry, Harry!" came the far too jovial voice of Gilderoy Lockhart.
And a second later, Harry was wincing as the professor threw an arm around his s
houlder and swept him along the corridor towards the Defense classroom.
"Oh, Harry. I am starting to get the distinct feeling that you're trying to avoi
d me," Lockhart said chidingly, the smile never leaving his face.
"Now, at this point, I think we just need to make an appointment. What would you
say to tea in my office sometime next week?"
"I don't think"
"Nonsense, Harry. It's no trouble at all."
"But I"
"How does Monday evening at 7 o'clock sound? You just bring your textbooks with
you to my office and we'll have a nice little chat while I sign them for you!"
By this point, the pair had reached the Defense classroom, and Harry's face turn
ed a bright red when he realized just how many other waiting second years had he
ard that last statement. He quickly pulled away from Lockhart's grasp then, and
darted away to stand with the other Gryffindors while the man went to open the d
"He just won't give up, will he?" Ron whispered, glaring at the back of the prof
essor's head.
Harry shook his head, still slightly confused by the whole exchange. "I don't tr
ust him."
"Oh, you're being ridiculous," Hermione hissed. "You would have a wonderful time
, Harry."
"He's being ridiculous?" Ron countered. "You're the one who refuses to see what'
s right in front of you, Hermione! The guy is insane!"
As usual, Hermione ignored this statement and decided to change the subject as t

he students began filtering into the classroom.

"So what should we wear to this deathday party, Harry? It isn't too formal an af
fair, is it?"
"Well, I'm certainly not dressing up to go celebrate some ghost's death!" Ron sa
id bitterly. "I really don't see why we have to go at all. We'll miss the feast!
"Neither one of you have to come," Harry answered. "I just promised Nick I would
go as a favor. It's not a big deal. And I won't be dressing up for it."
"I think it'll be fascinating," Hermione said excitedly, as the three of them sl
id into their seats near the back of the class. "Of course I'll come with you, H
Ron grumbled something unintelligible then, just as Gilderoy Lockhart moved to t
he front of the classroom to begin the lesson.
Nearly everyone in the room cringed almost as soon as the man raised his wand. S
ince the incident with the Cornish Pixies, it wasn't very often that the profess
or attempted any magic of his own. And it was always terrifying when he did.
"I thought I would begin today's class with a bit of a demonstration," the man a
nnounced cheerfully, completely oblivious to the discomfort of the students befo
re him.
Harry gripped the edge of his desk tightly, preparing for the very real possibil
ity that he may need to dive underneath it for cover in the next minute or so.
"Now, I'm sure you are all looking forward to the Halloween feast tomorrow," Loc
khart said, swishing his wand through the air, causing the students in the front
row to lean back in their seats nervously. "And nothing can be quite so impress
ive as all of the wonderful decorations your professors work so hard to provide
for the occasion!"
Somehow, Harry didn't like where this was going.
"For instance, how do we get all of those wonderful live bats to fly around up t
here on the ceiling of the Great Hall?"
And then, before anyone had the chance to react, the man flicked his wand sharpl
y and spoke a few words that sounded like complete gibberish to Harry.
There was a loud crack then, followed by a puff of smoke. Nearly the entire clas
s was ready to bolt for the classroom door.
And then the fumes dispersed, and there, hovering right next to Lockhart's head,
were four very real-looking bats.
Several mouths dropped open. Had Lockhart actually done something right?
But almost as soon as that thought passed through Harry's head, chaos ensued.
Without warning, the bats flew straight towards the Slytherin side of the room a
nd swooped down on Millicent Bulstrode's head.
Nearly every female in the room began screaming, though no one was as loud as Mi
llicent. The girl flew from her seat and ran towards the classroom door, her arm
s thrown over her head as two of the bats continued to follow her.

"Too bad it couldn't have been Pansy, eh?" Ron mumbled in Harry's ear, just as M
illicent left the room and the remaining two bats began charging the other stude
It was complete pandemonium then. Books and parchment flew everywhere as student
s ran and dove out of the way as the creatures zoomed around the room.
Parvati Patil shrieked as one of them flew towards her and promptly threw her co
py of Voyages with Vampires in its direction. The book sailed through the air, m
issing the bat by several inches, and landed with a loud thud at Gilderoy Lockha
rt's feet.
"Professor, do something!" Pansy cried, from where she had taken up refuge under
her desk.
Harry had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes then. Lockhart was standing ther
e, completely in shock, just like he had with the Cornish Pixies.
"Hermione?" he asked, ducking down as a bat passed near his head. Around him, st
udents were running and cowering, trying to get away from the bats. "Do you thin
k you can stop them?"
Turning to his friend, Harry could see the conflicted expression on Hermione's f
ace as she looked towards Lockhart.
"Hermione? Come on. Just like the pixies. Stun them!"
Hermione turned towards Harry then. She finally nodded and raised her wand.
But before she could utter the incantation, the two remaining bats in the room q
uite suddenly froze in midair, and the room fell into immediate silence.
Turning his head, Harry saw the tall, dark figure standing in the doorway, wand
And in that moment, he almost felt sorry for Lockhart.
Snape gave another quick flick of his wand, and the bats completely vanished fro
m the room. He lowered his wand to his side then, and simply glared menacingly t
owards the front of the class, where Lockhart still stood, only just now beginni
ng to recover from his shocked state.
"Well done, Severus," the man eventually managed, as he attempted to smooth out
a wrinkle in his robes. "I of course had everything under control. I was just ab
out to end our little demonstration for the day."
Snape did not answer, but just continued to stare at the Defense professor in st
ony silence.
"What brings you to our class then, Severus?" Lockhart asked. If the man was ner
vous at all, he was doing a remarkable job at hiding it, and all eyes in the roo
m turned towards Snape, waiting for a response.
"I was on my way to the teacher's lounge," Snape finally spoke, his voice drippi
ng with venom. "when I ran into Miss Bulstrode, being chased along the corridor
by two bats."

"Ah, yes. Well, I was just about to go after"

"Of course you were," Snape interrupted, scanning the mess of paper, books, and
splattered ink on the floor, as well as the disheveled appearances of many of th
e students. "How silly of me not to realize that you would have everythingunder c
"Quite so, Severus," Lockhart agreed, plastering his signature smile back on his
face. "Though your assistance was of course, welcome."
The sneer on the potions master face then was absolutely terrifying. "I assume y
ou were also just preparing to dismiss the class?"
"Dismiss the class?" Lockhart repeated, glancing at the clock on the wall.
"Yes," Snape practically snarled. "Straight to the hospital wing to be examined
by Madam Pomfrey. Those creatures were likely diseased."
"Uh, right," Lockhart answered, his smile momentarily slipping. "Yes. Class is d
ismissed. Go straight to the hospital wing, children."
Slowly then, everyone in the class began to stand up and gather their belongings
, whispers rippling throughout the room as they gradually filtered out the door.
Harry followed the crowd with Ron and Hermione, locking gazes with Snape for jus
t the barest of moments as he left.
"I sure hope you're finished defending him," Ron said to Hermione as soon as the
y were in the corridor. "You can't possibly still think"
"It just doesn't make sense," Hermione interrupted, frowning. "All of his books,
everything he's done and accomplished"
"You mean like managing to set some bats on a bunch of second years? Yeah, that
was an accomplishment for sure. Just like the pixies," Ron practically spat out.
"Well, at least Snape came along," Harry put in, hoping to put a stop to the bic
kering before it really had a chance to get started.
"Yeah," Seamus Finnegan said, turning around when he heard Harry's statement. "H
e's a bat himself, after all. He's probably the only one who could stop them."
Ron laughed loudly at that, as did Dean Thomas and several of the other Gryffind
ors they were walking with as they continued in the direction of the hospital wi
But Harry just frowned. "You shouldn't call him that, Ron," he said quietly, so
no one else would hear.
Ron raised his eyebrows in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Well, Snape's a professor, and"
Ron suddenly rounded on Hermione. "What have you done to him? He's even starting
to talk like you now."
"This has nothing to do with Hermione," Harry responded, voice still low. "I jus
t think we shouldn't call Snape a bat."
"Five points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter, for a complete and total lack of respe

ct for your instructors."

Harry, Ron, Hermione, and most of the second-year Gryffindors stopped and turned
around when they heard the potions master's voice.
"Sir?" Harry asked, looking up at the man, confused.
"You heard me, Mr. Potter," Snape answered curtly, looking down at the young boy
with disdain. In the next moment then, he abruptly turned on his heel and stalk
ed away.
Ron turned to Harry then, a meaningful look now on his face. "Do you still think
he's not a dungeon bat?"
Harry didn't answer, too shocked at the moment to give any sort of reaction. A f
ew seconds passed. And then Harry continued down the hall in silence, ignoring t
he stares of the rest of his classmates as he went.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a look.
"Don't worry about losing those points, Harry," Ron said, hurrying to catch up t
o his friend. "You didn't do anything wrong. It's only Snape, after all."
But, much to the confusion of his two best friends, Harry still did not respond.

* * *

The trip to the hospital wing was brief and largely uneventful for the second ye
ar Defense class. Thankfully, nobody had been bitten or even scratched by Lockha
rt's conjured bats. Madam Pomfrey was treating Millicent Bulstrode for mild shoc
k and emotional distress. But physically, the girl was fine, and was expected to
make a full recovery.
Of course, by dinnertime the entire school was talking about the "demon mutant k
iller bats" that Professor Lockhart had set on the second years that day. And ma
ny students seemed to be hoping for a repeat performance the following night at
the Halloween feast.
Harry largely managed to block out most of the ridiculous and nonsensical chatte
r, however, as he absently pushed the food around on his plate with a fork. He g
lanced up at the head table from time to time, staring in complete puzzlement at
his potions professor, whose signature scowl was fixed in place that night. The
man was clearly in a foul mood.
Harry knew he shouldn't be bothered by the fact that Snape had taken points. Sna
pe was always taking points from him, after all.
But he just couldn't help it. He must have done something to make the man angry.
He just had no idea what. Harry knew he hadn't been disrespectful, as Snape had
claimed. He had only been trying to defend the professor!
So it must have been something else.
He just wished that he knew what it was.

* * *

A/N: Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

A/N: Hey guys! Sorry for the delay! I had been aiming to get this out last week,
but it just didn't happen. I always just seem to have about a million different
things going on these days...
It's here now, though, so I hope you enjoy it!
Also, if you're interested in a Russian translation of this story, one of my rea
ders, DooHaus has kindly offered to provide one. I've posted a link on my profil
e page. A link to SevLiLyHarry's French translation can also be found there.
Happy reading!

* * *

Albus Dumbledore sat back in his chair, the fingers of his hands carefully steep
led in front of him as he stared thoughtfully across his desk at Severus.
Between them sat the headmaster's pensieve, and even now, the potions master's m
emory continued to swirl around and around inside. Dumbledore had just finished
viewing it.
"Well?" Snape finally prompted, when he thought that the silence had dragged on
long enough. "Are you finally going to dismiss the incompetent fool from the sta
ff? Or are you going to wait until he kills somebody first?"
"Oh, I highly doubt Gilderoy will attempt any more demonstrations after this inc
ident, Severus," Albus nodded towards the pensieve. "I imagine he will wish to k
eep his reputation intact."
"What reputation?" Snape demanded. "The imbecile is a fraud, Albus! You must kno
w this!"
"And what would you have me do, Severus? You know how difficult it is to keep th
at particular teaching position filled. I'm afraid our options are extremely lim
ited at the moment."
"There must be someone. Anyone would be better than that buffoon," Snape growled

Albus just shook his head. "There is only one other I can think of who may be wi
lling to take the position at this point in the year. But I'm afraid you wouldn'
t like it, Severus."
Severus just glared at his mentor. "Who?"
Albus let out a soft sigh, already anticipating the man's response.
"Remus Lupin."
It was silent for a moment.
And then Snape was on his feet. "How could you even suggest such a thing?" he hi
ssed, the anger suddenly boiling up within him. "Have you completely lost your m
ind, Albus?"
"I take it you prefer Gilderoy, then?" Dumbledore asked simply.
A look of disgust passed across the potions master's face, but he refused to giv
e any sort of response.
Albus nodded his understanding. "I realize the current situation is not ideal"
Snape scoffed at that. "That is quite the understatement, don't you think, Albus
"But it is the situation we find ourselves in," Dumbledore continued. "We will s
imply have to make the best of it."
"So that's it then? You're just going to sit back and continue to allow this idi
ot to teach?"
Albus sighed again. "I will speak to Gilderoy, Severus. I am confident that ther
e will be no further incidents of this nature."
The scowl did not leave Severus' face as he moved forward to retrieve his memory
from the pensieve.
"I will just be on my way then," Severus responded venomously, raising the short
silvery strand of memory to his temple with the tip of his wand.
"Actually, Severus," Dumbledore spoke once more, "there is another aspect of you
r memory that I wish to briefly discuss with you."
Snape raised his eyebrows as he lowered his wand to his side, his memory having
properly been restored. "Yes, headmaster?" he questioned.
Dumbledore met Snape's eyes with his own before opening his mind up to the potio
ns master, allowing the man to see his thoughts.
Snape saw his own memory, now reflected in Dumbledore's mind, and he watched as
the second year Slytherin and Gryffindor students filed out of the Defense class
room, on their way to the hospital wing.
But while most of the students did their best to avoid the menacing glare on the
ir potions professor's face, there was one student who chose to meet his gaze, i
f only for the very briefest of moments.
And in that split second, the man was once again looking into Lily's eyes.

Snape pulled out of Albus' mind, his scowl deepening in irritation. "What exactl
y did you wish to discuss, headmaster? I saw nothing worth noting in that portio
n of the memory."
Albus leaned forward, a small smile forming on his lips. "Such expressiveness in
those eyes, wouldn't you agree, Severus?"
"I'm sure I haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about, Albus."
"Are you telling me you did not notice, then?"
"Notice what?" Snape hissed.
"Well, I suppose if I were to put a name to it, I would call it trust, Severus.
When young Harry looked at you, there was trust in his eyes."
"You see what you want to see," Snape countered quickly, abruptly turning to hea
d for the office door. "Now if there is nothing else"
"I saw your expression as well, Severus."
Snape paused and turned back towards his mentor. "Is that so? And pray tell, Alb
us. What expression did you see in my eyes?" he asked sarcastically.
"Fear," the headmaster answered simply.
"I'm afraid you may be going senile, Albus," Snape replied, as he subconsciously
strengthened his occlumency shields.
Albus chuckled softly. "You may very well be right. But tell me, Severus. Has an
ything happened between you and Harry lately?"
"You mean besides my having to supervise most of the brat's detentions so far th
is year?" Snape answered. "Sorry to disappoint you Albus, but no. Now is there a
nything else you require?"
"No, Severus. That will be all. Just"
"Just what?"
Albus waited a long moment before continuing.
"Do not make the same mistake twice, Severus."
Snape paused again, his hand frozen in midair as he reached for the door.
But in the next instant, the potions master yanked the door open, his robes bill
owing behind him as he swept from the room.

* * *

Harry took a deep breath as he knocked on the classroom door down in the dungeon
s. He had almost decided not to come that day. He was worried that Snape wouldn'
t want him to.

But the man hadn't told him not to come. And Harry had promised to help brew pot
ions after dinner. Snape might get even more upset if he didn't show up.
Harry frowned though, when the door did not immediately open. It wasn't like Sna
pe to keep him waiting outside. The man always wanted to put him to work just as
soon as he reached the dungeons.
Harry tried knocking again, and another minute passed in silence, with Harry wai
ting anxiously for the door to open.
But nothing happened. And, with another sigh, Harry finally turned and began hea
ding back the way he had come.
"And where exactly do you think you are going, Mr. Potter?"
Harry's head snapped up as he reached the foot of the narrow staircase leading u
p to the entrance hall. The potions master was currently descending the stairs,
and he was glaring at Harry expectantly, waiting for a response.
"Just back to Gryffindor Tower, sir," Harry answered, dropping his gaze to the f
"Look at me, Potter!" Snape exclaimed, exasperated, as he reached the bottom of
the staircase. He waited for the child to obey then, before continuing.
"Have you changed your mind about helping with potions, tonight?"
Harry shook his head. "No, sir. I just"
"You just what, Potter? Speak up!" came the irritated reply.
"I thought maybe you didn't want my help, sir."
Snape crossed his arms and glared down his long nose at Harry. "I do not recall
ever making such a statement, Mr. Potter. But then, perhaps your memory is super
ior to mine."
Harry shook his head. "No, sir. It's just that after todaywell, I'm sorry."
Snape stared at Harry for one long moment before answering. "I haven't the sligh
test idea what you are referring to, Mr. Potter, but if you were planning on ass
isting me this evening, then I suggest we get started."
With that, the professor began walking towards the classroom, leaving one very c
onfused Gryffindor to follow behind.

* * *

Harry could tell something was bothering Snape. He had never before heard the ma
n mutter and grumble so much under his breath.
"Senile old man," Harry heard the professor practically snarl whilst slowly stir
ring the contents of his cauldron in a counterclockwise direction. "absolutely ri
For his part, Harry barely made a sound, carefully chopping and slicing ingredie

nts for the potions master as he chose to brood over his own problems in silence
Part of him just wanted to ask Snape about the house points.
But with Snape appearing to be in a worse mood than usual, he quickly decided ag
ainst it.
"I've finished the roots, sir," Harry said quietly, pushing his pile of dandelio
n roots towards the professor for approval.
Snape looked away from the cauldron for a moment to give a quick, cursory glance
over Harry's work. Satisfied, he gave a curt nod before moving his gaze to the
boy himself. It was only then that he realized just how quiet the Gryffindor had
been this whole time.
"What is the matter, Potter?" he snapped impatiently then, noticing the dejected
and forlorn expression on the child's face as he went back to preparing ingredi
ents. "Shouldn't you be asking your usual questions right about now? The ones yo
u know perfectly well I will not answer?"
Harry frowned as he continued to stare down at his prepping station.
"At the very least, I would have expected some incessant, inane chatter about th
e big, grand feast tomorrow," Snape continued, his own disdain for the celebrati
on clear in his tone. "Just like the rest of your peers."
"I'm not going to the feast," Harry answered quickly, still refusing to look at
the professor.
Snape's scowl deepened as he felt a small bit of surprise at that statement. "An
d why not, Mr. Potter?" the man demanded.
Harry hesitated before answering. He wasn't sure he wanted Snape to know his pla
"Well, Mr. Potter?" Snape prompted after several seconds of silence.
The boy sighed, but eventually decided to tell the truth. "Because I've been inv
ited to a deathday party."
"A deathday party," Snape repeated slowly.
"Yes, sir," Harry answered nervously. "Nearly Headless Nick invited me, and, wel
lit just seems moreappropriate."
"I would hardly consider a deathday party to be an appropriate place for any chi
ld," Snape snapped, crossing his arms.
Harry shrugged in response, earning himself a distasteful look from the professo
r. "I just don't feel much like celebrating, sir," he said quietly.
Almost immediately then, Snape thought he understood what this was all about, an
d his eyes momentarily drifted to the pocket of the boy's robes.
Nearly Headless Nick wasn't the only one who's deathday fell on the 31st of Octo
ber, after all.
"And so you thought moping around in the school dungeons with a throng of ghosts
would be the more preferable option?" the man asked scathingly, noting how the

boy's hand instinctively went to his pocket at the harsh tone.

Harry shrugged again as he stared down at the counter, and Snape's scowl deepene
"Look at me when I am speaking to you, Mr. Potter," Snape said in irritation. "A
nd do not shrug. You should know by now that I only accept verbal responses."
Harry looked up hesitantly, eventually meeting the professor's gaze.
"I thought we discussed this previously, Potter," Snape continued then, just as
soon as he was staring into the child's eyes. "You are not responsible for the d
eaths of your parents."
"But I never" Harry began, his eyes widening in surprise.
"Do not lie to me," the man hissed. "You are using this deathday party as an exc
use to sulk around and feel sorry for yourself."
"I am not! I'm just going as a favor to Nick" Harry quickly defended himself.
"There is no other reason for accepting the invitation?" Snape pressed, the disb
elief clear in his tone.
"No!" Harry exclaimed.
"Perhaps it is your belief that you deserve to be miserable on the anniversary o
f your parents' deaths?"
"That's not true," Harry answered quietly, struggling now to keep eye contact.
"Then pray tell, Potter. Why is it that a deathday party seems more appropriate
to you than the feast?"
Harry had no response prepared. And he found that he could no longer look the pr
ofessor in the eye. He turned his head away and once again glared down at the co
Snape was wrong. He had accepted the invitation as a favor to Nick.
Of course, the more he'd thought about it, the more a deathday party had seemed
more appropriate. Not because he wanted to be miserable, though. He just didn't
think he should be celebrating. Especially this year. After everything he had le
arned about his mother from Snape. He felt closer to her now than he ever had be
fore, and he just didn't feel like going to a feast on the anniversary of her de
"Believe me, Mr. Potter. Deathday parties are not pleasant affairs for the livin
g," Snape finally spoke, when he thought the silence had gone on long enough. "I
would therefore strongly suggest that you" the man paused here, his irritation g
rowing as the insufferable child continued to stare down at his dandelion roots
rather than up at his professor.
In the next moment then, Harry was startled from his thoughts when he felt long
fingers underneath his chin, lifting his head and forcing him to meet Snape's da
rk eyes once more.
"Go to the feast," the man finished sternly.
The two stood in absolute silence for several seconds then, Harry not quite sure

how to respond as the potions master's eyes bore into his own.
A quiet "Yes, sir" eventually managed to pass the boy's lips, and only then did
Snape finally release his chin.
"Good," the man responded curtly, turning back to his cauldron at last. "I will
not have you wandering around the dungeons, causing your usual trouble and mayhe
m when the rest of the school is in the Great Hall."
Harry frowned, but knew better than to argue with Snape.
"I'm sorry, sir," he said instead.
Snape could feel his irritation steadily increasing then. "For what, Mr. Potter?
" he demanded, performing a complicated wand movement over his cauldron until th
e potion within turned pale blue in color.
"For whatever I did to make you mad at me earlier," Harry answered, reaching for
another handful of dandelion roots.
"I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about, Potter," Snape responded
, his eyes still firmly glued on his potion.
"So you're not mad?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Have you finished with those roots yet?" Snape asked pointedly, completely igno
ring the child's question.
Harry sighed and once again picked up his knife.
Snape stirred his potion again, this time in a clockwise direction, as the young
Gryffindor continued to give him uncertain looks out of the corner of his eye.
"What is it, Potter?" Snape finally snapped, rounding on the boy, his patience b
eginning to wear thin.
"You are mad," Harry sounded disappointed.
"Mr. Potter, I believe I have already stated that I have no idea"
"You took points earlier," Harry rushed to explain. "You said I was disrespectfu
l, but I wasn't, sir! You must have misheard me"
"I heard you perfectly well, Mr. Potter," Snape said with a scowl. "I suggest yo
u drop the subject now."
"But I was only trying to defend"
"I do not need nor desire your defense, Mr. Potter. Now drop it."
Harry visibly deflated at those words, and his shoulders hunched slightly as he
averted his gaze to the floor.
Snape barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the child's obvious attempt t
o garner sympathy. "You really ought to be thanking me for taking those points,
Mr. Potter," the man said then, as he turned the page of the potions book he had
open on the counter.
Harry looked up, confused. "Sir?"

Snape raised his eyebrows as he once again glanced over at Harry. "I believe tha
t my intervention just may have prevented an argument from breaking out between
you and Mr. Weasley."
The confusion only grew on Harry's face at those words. "Ron?"
"Well, I certainly wasn't referring to any of the other members of the Weasley c
lan," Snape snapped, uncorking a bottle with a dark blue liquid inside.
"But Ron wouldn't get mad at me for something like that," Harry argued. "He's my
"Have you never had an argument with a friend, Mr. Potter?" Snape asked almost a
bsently, his attention nearly entirely focused back on his potion.
Harry frowned as he paused to consider that question seriously. He hadn't really
had any friends until last year when he had come to Hogwarts. The Dursleys had
seen to that.
"I guess I've never really had much of a chance to," Harry answered quietly, as
he pushed the remainder of the dandelion roots towards the professor. "I'm finis
hed, sir."
Snape regarded Harry carefully as he evaluated the boy's work. The second year s
tood there nervously, shuffling from foot to foot as he waited for a response.
And finally, Snape gave a quick nod of his head. "That will be all for today, Mr
. Potter. I shall see you tomorrow."

* * *

"What's wrong, Harry?" Ron asked, as the trio neared the Great Hall for lunch th
e following day.
"Ron," Hermione said, her tone mildly scolding.
"What?" Ron questioned, his head whirling around to look at Hermione.
"It's Halloween!" she hissed at him, clearly expecting the significance of the d
ate to be clear.
But Ron just raised his eyebrows, confused. "So?"
"Ronald Weasley, I can't believe that you could be so insensitive and clueless,"
Hermione responded furiously.
"But I don't"
"It's okay," Harry interrupted, his stomach twisting slightly at the topic of co
nversation. "It's not a big deal, Hermione. It's not like I ever knew them very
well, anyway."
At last, Ron seemed to make the connection, and his face was rapidly turning a b
right shade of red to clash with his flaming hair. "Harry mate, I'm sorry. I did

"I know, Ron. It's fine," Harry said firmly.

Hermione, however, continued to glare disapprovingly at Ron, and looked as thoug
h she wanted to say something more on the subject as they finally reached the en
trance hall.
But thankfully, a distraction came only a second later in the form of the castle
doors swinging open to reveal Hagrid striding across the threshold with a giant
jack-o-lantern in his arms.
"There you lot are," the half-giant said, beaming as soon as he caught sight of
the three second years.
"Whoa! Hagrid, did you carve that yourself?" Ron asked, wide-eyed. "That thing i
s enormous!"
Hagrid's smile was full of pride as he answered. "I did. An' there's more where
tha' came from. Dumbledore asked me ter carve as many as I could fer the feast t
"Wow! I bet all three of us could fit inside that thing," Ron exclaimed excitedl
y, moving closer to inspect the pumpkin further.
"I'm not sure there would be enough room for your big head, Ronald," Hermione sa
id with a smirk, crossing her arms.
Despite himself, Harry couldn't help but to let out a snort at that comment.
But his momentary good mood completely evaporated when Ron turned to him in the
next second.
"Are you sure you don't want to go to the feast, Harry?" the redhead asked, for
once choosing to ignore Hermione's words. "We're going to miss all the fun!"
"What do yeh mean yer not goin' to the feast?" Hagrid asked, surprised. "What ar
e yeh doing then?"
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. "Well, I was just going to go to Nearly Headless N
ick's deathday party."
"Have you changed your mind?" Hermione asked, sounding almost disappointed.
Harry thought about Snape then, and how the man had practically commanded him to
attend the feast.
"Well, I think I should go for a few minutes. Seeing as I promised Nick and ever
ything. But"
"But then we can go to the feast?" Ron asked hopefully.
"Yeah," Harry nodded. "Then we can go."

* * *

The Halloween feast was finally upon them, and Snape was absolutely furious. He
glowered menacingly around the Great Hall from his place at the teachers' table,

as the anger building inside of him threatened to boil over.

He could never understand why Dumbledore insisted that he attend this event ever
y year. The shrieking and squealing of the entire student body as they took in t
he sights of all the food and decorations, and stuffed their faces full of enoug
h sweets to send themselves into a coma, was absolute, agonizing torture. The Da
rk Lord himself had been incapable of inflicting this amount of pain.
And then of course, there was Potter. Snape's eyes once again passed over the ro
wdy Gryffindor table. But still, the boy was absent. And there was no sign of We
asley or Granger either, he quickly noted.
Snape's scowl turned even more menacing. That brat is down in the dungeons, he t
hought to himself murderously. After I told him I didn't want him wandering arou
nd down there.
"Must you always look so sour, Severus?" Professor McGonagall suddenly interrupt
ed his thoughts, pushing a plate of sandwiches in his direction. "Perhaps you sh
ould try to eat something."
"Perhaps you should be concerned about where Mr. Potter and his little friends h
ave gotten off to this evening, Minerva," Snape shot back, eying the plate of sa
ndwiches with distaste before glancing out over the hall once more.
McGonagall frowned as she followed the potions master's eyes over to the Gryffin
"Well, I'm sure they'll turn up soon, Severus. It's still quite early, after all
. There are still some students coming in," McGonagall nodded to the large doors
at the other end of the hall, where a small group of seventh year Ravenclaws we
re just arriving.
"Do you not recall what happened last year?" Snape questioned then. "With the tr
McGonagall raised her eyebrows in surprise. "I never knew you cared so much, Sev
erus. Your concern is very touching."
Snape huffed in annoyance at that, as he stabbed his fork into a potato on the e
dge of his plate. "My concern is that Potter is off somewhere causing trouble."
"You worry too much, Severus," McGonagall replied, trying her best to contain he
r amused smile. "I am sure that Harry is just fine, and will be here any minute.
Somehow, Snape seriously doubted that.

* * *

A/N: Again, I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Your thoughts are always welcome!
Thanks for reading!

A/N: Hello everyone! I know this chapter isn't terribly long, but between school
and work and a 5-day power outage, it's actually a miracle that this chapter is
finished at all. I hope you all enjoy it! :)

* * *

He should have just listened to Snape. He should have forgotten all about the de
athday party, and just gone to the Halloween feast like everybody else.
Because ultimately, the professor had been right. Deathday parties were no place
for the living.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood close together in a corner of the large dungeon r
oom, too filled with revulsion to even pay much attention to the scene playing o
ut before them.
A long stone table was pushed up against the opposite wall, and the entire lengt
h of it was piled high with all manner of rotten and spoiled food. The trio had
nearly gagged upon entering the room as the foul smell of the salmon reached the
ir noses, and they had quickly retreated to the far side of the dungeon to escap
e the stench.
"How can they stand it?" Ron asked incredulously, using the sleeve of his robe t
o cover his nose and mouth. "That's horrible."
"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?" Hermione replied, speaking through the hand that
covered her own face. "Ghosts can't really eat food. But if they can smell it,
they might be able to almost taste it."
"Well, I can't take much more of this," the redhead responded, shaking his head.
"Harry, can we go now?"
Harry watched as a particularly portly ghost passed right through a platter of m
oldy cheese, sighing longingly as he drifted away soon after. "Yeah," he answere
d with a nod. "Let me just find Nick so I can wish him well."
"What are you supposed to say?" Ron asked, screwing up his face. "Happy deathday
? Is it really right to congratulate someone on dying?"
"I don't know," Harry shrugged. "But Nick is throwing a party. So he apparently
thought it was worth celebrating."
"This way," Hermione said then, indicating that the boys should follow her out o
f their corner. "Hurry up."
"Where are we going?" Harry asked, carefully navigating his way across the room
so that he didn't accidentally walk through any of the other party guests.
"To find Nick. I thought I saw him over here a minute ago."

But as the trio began to walk, a long, loud, screeching noise suddenly reached t
heir ears. And then there was a terrible scraping sound, like thousands of nails
on a chalkboard.
"Aahhh," Harry groaned, his hands instantly flying up to protect his ears as, al
l around him, dozens of ghosts suddenly moved away from the walls and headed str
aight towards the dance floor.
"They call this music?" Ron continued to complain over the horrible sound. "Harr
y, can we please get out of here, now?"
But before he could respond, Hermione suddenly turned around and began pushing t
he boys back in the direction they had just come from.
"Hurry, I don't want her to see us!" the girl said quickly.
"Who?" Harry and Ron asked in unison.
"Moaning Myrtle!" Hermione hissed under her breath. "She haunts the girl's bathr
oom on the first floor. And I really don't want to"
But Harry's eyes suddenly widened at the sight of who was approaching them from
the other direction, and he instinctively took a step back, accidentally steppin
g on Hermione's foot in the process.
"Ouch!" the girl exclaimed in surprise. "Harry, what?
But a gleeful cackle interrupted Hermione's question. "Ooohh! Potty has come to
the party!" Peeves exclaimed, twirling a bright orange bowler hat around in his
hands as he hovered in front of the three Gryffindors. "You haven't knocked over
any more trophy cases, have you?" the poltergeist taunted, a wide grin plastere
d on his face.
"You knocked the trophy case over!" Harry shot back. "And you got me in trouble
with Filch!"
Peeves just laughed harder as he began zooming in circles above Harry's head.
"Let's get out of here," Ron hissed, jerking his head towards the door.
"But what about Nick?" Hermione asked, glaring disapprovingly up at Peeves.
"I don't see him anywhere! Let's just go!" Ron answered, reaching out to grab bo
th Hermione's and Harry's arms so that he could drag them to the exit.
But in the next moment, Harry jerked backwards, flinching away from Ron's hand a
s his eyes grew wider than they had a moment before and his gaze moved frantical
ly about the room.
I smell bloodTime to kill
"Did you hear that?" the boy asked urgently. "Please tell me you heard that."
But both Ron and Hermione just stared at Harry in absolute shock.
And then Harry was moving, bolting for the exit as fast as his legs could carry
"Harry, where are you going?" Hermione called, the fear evident in her voice as
she and Ron ran to catch up with their friend.

"There's a voice," Harry answered, still not slowing down. "A voice in the walls
. It's going to kill somebody."
"What?" Ron and Hermione said together, now struggling to keep up with Harry.
But Harry didn't answer. He was too busy straining his ears, listening for that
So hungryneed to KILL
A sickening feeling settled in the pit of Harry's stomach, then. And he forced h
imself to run even faster.

* * *

Severus allowed himself one small sigh of relief as he exited the Great Hall thr
ough the door behind the staff table. The silence of the private corridor was mo
st welcome just then, and the potions master couldn't help but to be grateful to
the headmaster for allowing him to leave the feast so early. He had certainly h
ad enough sweets and fun and dancing skeletons to last him at least until next y
And now, to put himself into an even better mood, he was going to go down to the
dungeons, drag Potter out of that infernal deathday party by his ear, and
"Harry, please slow down!" called a young, terrified voice.
"What is it, Harry?" another voice followed, the sound echoing down the hallway
that the potions master was currently occupying.
And suddenly, Snape was practically sprinting down the corridor in the direction
of the entrance hall.
But by the time he reached his destination, he was alone, the last pounding foot
steps on the Grand Staircase almost completely faded away.
Severus let out a low growl of frustration as he moved towards the stairs. Leave
it to Potter to completely ruin the rest of his evening.
When he got his hands on the little brat, he was definitely going to make him pa

* * *

"Harry!" Hermione called, for what must have been the hundredth time. "Please st
And without any sort of warning, Harry suddenly complied, skidding to a halt as
he rounded a corner onto another passageway. Both Ron and Hermione very narrowly
missed running right into his back.

"What was that all about?" Ron demanded, clutching a stitch in his side as he pa
nted for breath. Next to him, Hermione was also breathing hard, one hand resting
against the stone wall as she took a moment to regain her bearings.
But there was no answer. Because Harry was suddenly moving again, racing to the
other end of the corridor, where a small dark shape was suspended in the air, ha
nging from a torch bracket on the wall.
A few seconds later, Ron and Hermione followed after him, squinting their eyes t
o try to make out what the mysterious shape was.
But their attention was soon diverted by something shiny to their left, and Herm
ione let out an audible gasp a moment later as she saw the message written in br
ight red letters on the wall.
"Harry?" Ron asked tentatively, turning his attention back to his now silent fri
end, and following his gaze to the dark shape hanging in front of them.
"Is that?" he began.
"Mrs. Norris," Hermione stated, her eyes widening in shock.
"No," Harry whispered simply, shaking his head in denial. "No."
The boy moved forward then. He needed to get the feline down. He needed to get h
er some help.
"Harry, what are you?" Ron started to ask.
But then there was another voice in the corridor. And the trio immediately turne
d to face the new arrival.
"What exactly is going on here?" Snape demanded, as he swept down the hall towar
ds the three second years.
Both Ron and Hermione eyed the man fearfully. What if Snape tried to blame them
for whatever it was that had happened here?
But Harry didn't hesitate. He hurried forward to meet the potions master, nearly
slipping in a puddle of water as he did so.
Snape's hand shot out automatically to keep the boy from falling over, his hand
closing around the child's upper arm. "Why is it that you are always up to somet
hing, Potter?" the man asked menacingly.
But his tone went completely unnoticed by Harry, who began speaking just a secon
d later.
"Please, sir! You have to help her! She's hurt!"
Ron and Hermione exchanged identical looks of shock, then. Was Harry really aski
ng Snape to help save Mrs. Norris? What was going on?
Snape, too, looked surprised at the boy's plea, and his gaze lingered on the sec
ond year's face for a moment longer before moving over towards the wall, and the
n to the cat hanging by its tail.
"You can help her, can't you, sir?" Harry asked then, more quietly this time. "L

ike you helped Hedwig? Please?"

Snape was at a loss. This was not how he had expected this confrontation to go.
But one thing was for certain. He needed to inform the headmaster immediately.
"Millie!" the man called, a certain level of urgency now clear in his tone.
A moment later, all three of the Gryffindors jumped as Millie the house elf sudd
enly popped into existence. Snape frowned at the violent flinch Harry exhibited
in that moment, and finally released the boy from his grasp.
"You be calling me, Master Snape, sir?" the little elf asked in disbelief. The p
otions master almost never called on the house elves.
"Yes," the man bit out, irritated. "I need you to go to the Great Hall and infor
m the headmaster that he is needed here immediately. Tell him that all of the st
udents should be sent straight to their dormitories. It is an emergency."
Millie nodded her head vigorously, her ears flapping against her head. "Yes, Mas
ter Snape, sir."
And with that, the small creature disapparated.
Snape sighed. He didn't like using the house elves very often. But in this case,
he figured it would cause less of a stir than a patronus would.
The man turned back to the Gryffindors, then, his gaze now falling on a pair of
expectant green eyes.
Trust. That was what Dumbledore claimed to see in those emerald depths.
Snape quickly looked away and opened his mouth to speak.
But before he could say anything else, there was another voice in the corridor.
"What is this? What is going?"
And then there was silence for a brief moment, and a chill immediately went up a
nd down Harry's spine at the familiar sound of that voice.
"Mrs. Norris?"
It was only a moment later then that the caretaker stepped out of the shadows, r
evealing himself to the group.

* * *

A/N: Let me know what you think! As always, I will continue writing this story j
ust as soon as I have a bit of free time (whenever that may be...)
Thanks for reading!