Harry & Hermione
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enahma - Coming off the Ropes
Chapter 18 - The Detention
Betaed by Barbara
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Chapter 18 – The detention
As Easter holidays arrived, Harry managed to spend some more time with an exceedingly exhausted Severus. Malfoy, not wanting to be exposed, hadn't risked attacking them openly; he just made their life as similar to a living Hell as he could manage. Severus had spent almost all of his free time sitting detentions and study hours, brewing potions for the Infirmary and explaining his past and his Death Eater activities to various Ministry officers.
For the end of spring it was sure that Malfoy would get rid of him at the end of the school year. It was a horrendous possibility, but they tried not to think about it. Mostly, because Harry had been getting along better and better with his housemates even in the common dormitory and bathroom. He had come for comfort only two times, after two extremely brutal visions, and they hadn't slept a minute in those nights: they had been talking or sitting in a cosy silence, which lingered between them.
It wasn't only Severus who had been dismissed. With the exemption of professor Sinistra, Vector, Sprout and Binns, everybody in the staff was told to leave after the term would end.
Harry was thinking about changing schools, and this time Severus didn't protest. The school didn't change too much yet, but Harry was sure, without the fired professors it would never be the same. It stopped to be his home, more than if it had been ruined. It was desecrated, it was defied.
There were things, however, which had been changed. For the first time in ages, the Aurors usual visit didn't focus on the Slytherins, but when Harry entered the classroom used for the interrogations he could spot the obvious hatred and despising in Percy's eyes.
Percy knew about Malfoy being a Death Eater somehow, Harry was sure. It ruined the fun of the whole process for him: he couldn't pretend anymore that he was supporting the Light Side with his brutality. On the other hand, he had learned certain things about Severus and the Galvanys, and their shockingly similar fate (the Death-Eater-turned-spies), and Ron's behaviour and 'Quietus's' reaction to it. So, he cast the Revelo on Harry and made some rude comments about his fading scars, then let the boy go.
The time for meals was shorter too, and additional and obligatory study hours were added to their timetable. These weren't real classes, they didn't study anything new. These occasions were dedicated to doing the homework and to preparing for the next lessons, sitting in a classroom under the supervision of a teacher (who was as bored as them, generally). Harry needed permission to go to the library once or twice a week to do the necessary research, and even in the library a teacher was watching the students' movements with dull eyes.
The Quidditch teams had two times a week to practice, and even the weekends were so well-organized that Harry barely found time for his friends. The only place they could talk was the dormitory, because there were Guarding Charms cast on the common rooms which signalled to the teachers any students after curfew lurking there.
Even the dormitories were checked from time to time, but the professors didn't report any trespasses to the Headmaster, at least Severus told Harry that. The students' life was miserable enough also without taking any the little freedom to chat at night.
"We must do something," Neville said once, in a Saturday evening. "This is... horrible! And Malfoy even cancelled the Hogsmeade weekends!"
"He didn't cancel them totally," Ron said suddenly. Harry jerked his head around and looked at him. Ron, generally, didn't take part in their usual midnight conversations. His conscience was disturbing him too much in Harry's company, and he tried to stay away from him in every situation. "I saw the younger git and his cronies going towards there with his father," he looked at Harry, "and with yours," he added quietly.
Harry was startled.
"What?" he asked frightened. "But..."
"Seemingly, the Slytherins receive better treatment than us..." Ron's face darkened with disgust.
"Are you sure it was Severus with them?" Harry interrupted.
"Yes. Why shouldn't he go there? I've always thought that Slytherins..."
"SHUT UP!" Harry yelled. Ron's face whitened with realisation.
"Come on, Quietus, I meant that..."
"Shut up," Harry hissed quieter, but not calmer.
"No, I won't. I didn't want to offend him. I just... didn't think suddenly that you... he..."
"You're still biased against him," Harry pressed the words through his clenched teeth. "However, if you thought, at least a little bit, you'd know," he jumped off the bed and stalked to Ron leaning into his face menacingly. "Hereby I call your attention to the fact that he BETRAYED Mr Malfoy's boss in the summer and he was tortured for days, even by the aforementioned gentlemen," his voice now dropped with sarcasm.
"But I..." Ron could only whisper.
"Leave him, Quietus," Harry heard Neville's voice. "There's no need to frighten him any more."
Harry straightened up and wheeled to Neville.
"Do you think so? Well, I don't. After all he did to me and to Severus he has no right to speak about him this way!"
"I didn't do anything to your precious father!" Ron's voice snapped, but it has a painful undertone.
"No?" Harry narrowed his eyes. "And what about your quarrel with Hermione when you yelled in front of the whole Gryffindor house that he is nothing but a filthy Death Eater? Don't you think that's a little bit offensive? Painful? After the summer..."
"He was not alone there! Harry was there too, and Harry wasn't anything like him, but he died!" Ron shouted back.
"It wasn't Severus fault," Harry's voice sounded cold.
Ron lowered his head.
"Yes, I know. But still... it's so hard to accept. I wish it had been him..." Ron suddenly halted. Harry felt his heart tightening in pain.
"He wishes it too," he said simply ignoring the frightened look in Ron's eyes. "If the idea calms you down, he wishes the same."
"Why should he feel like this?"
Now, all the boys in the dormitory were intently concentrated on them. Suddenly, Harry realised, he owed some things to his ex- and present friends. They knew nothing about what had happened with their friend except for the fact that he had been killed.
"Well, perhaps I'm not supposed to tell you everything, because Severus doesn't like it if many people know about his life and secrets, but I can tell you a part of it." Ron drew his knees up to his chest giving Harry enough room to sit down. In a few moments the other three boys joined them looking at Harry expectantly. Ron's bed all of a sudden became too small.
Harry thought carefully, realizing he had to be extremely cautious if he didn't want to expose himself.
"It happened when Voldemort caught Potter and wanted to kill him, Severus made an attempt to save him. Voldemort," Harry suddenly noticed that his mates winced at hearing the hated name, but it was already out for the second time in two minutes, "decided to finish them both, but he wanted to make their torments more suffocating and painful, so he locked them in together."
The others exchanged appalled looks, finally, Seamus groaned-
"Well, Harry and your father weren't on er... rather friendly terms."
"You-Know-Who was crueller than he thought," Dean added. Ron cracked a half-smile, and even Harry's lips twitched as he thought of his feelings when he had discovered his companion's identity...
"Yes, I know. Severus has already told me," Harry nodded solemnly to Seamus. "But You-Know-Who had other purposes, deeper ones in locking them together. And they were there for days, except when they were tortured."
"You mean, physically?" Dean asked.
"Yes. With curses, mostly, but there was a lot of simple physical abuse included as well."
"Harry was... beaten?" Ron's voice was barely above a whisper.
"Not only beaten, and not only him. And during the days they grew closer each other, and they began to feel respect toward each other too."
"Snape – respecting Harry?" this idea seemed ludicrous even to Neville.
"I guess we can't understand their situation since we've never been in any similar situation either. But it's some psychological stuff, Severus explained. Respect, care, bonding often happens in situations like that. So, they came to terms there. Vol... You-Know-Who reached his goal with it."
"Stop. I don't understand," Neville said and the others nodded to his words in agreement.
Harry breathed deeply.
"Voldemort knew, from the very beginning, that they would become closer in a situation like that. It was why he put them in the same cell. When his plan began to work, he used it against them. He tried to blackmail them with each other's torture."
"The bastard..." Ron moaned and Harry smiled slightly.
"Severus calls Voldemort the Greatest Bastard..."
"But then why did he join him?" Seamus asked. Harry snapped.
"I don't think it's your business."
"All right. I just... so if he hates him why... so..." he babbled in fluster.
"You-Know-Who killed his lover and later, his brother."
"His brother was that guy who exceeded everybody in this century, I suppose," Ron said.
"How do you know that?" Harry looked at him. Ron shrugged.
"Binns's class. And Percy has seen his files in the Ministry. He had maximum results in his OWLs and NEWTs."
"Maximum?" Neville exclaimed. "It's impossible. Nobody gets maximum results in those exams!"
"Except for him," Harry said and he thought of Quietus's diary. His father had been shell-shocked when he had learned his results. Neville was right. Nobody had similar results in the last century. Well, Dumbledore had, but he attained those results 150 years ago... He smirked. "And except Dumbledore," he added.
"Was he a Slytherin?" Dean asked.
"Dumbledore?" Harry asked back and Dean murmured something under his breath, which sounded like 'idiot'. Seamus snickered. Harry shook his head with amusement. "No. Quietus was a Ravenclaw."
"I wondered why the Sorting Hat didn't put you in Ravenclaw," Neville said. "You fit that house more. The Hat didn't even hesitate."
"Dumbledore said professor Snape brought Harry back from... there," Ron said suddenly returning to the interrupted conversation.
"Yes," Harry said. "Severus tried to save him in a totally hopeless situation from a completely guarded prison. He almost managed it. But their enemy was superior in number and they killed Potter when they fought against attacking Dementors. Severus bought him back to Hogwarts in his arms. He was totally devastated. If I wasn't there for him, I'm not sure he'd survived," Harry finished.
"And what... did Malfoy to him?" asked Seamus cautiously.
"He abused him physically," Harry answered not going into details. "However, they were friends for more than twenty years, and he was Draco Malfoy's godfather and cousin too."
"That means that you are related to Malfoy?" Dean was dumbfounded.
"Yes, it does, and even I'm related to the Malfoy family," Neville hurried to Harry's aid. "You know, the pureblood mania..."
"And I'm not too impressed by it," Harry said. "I can't stand the big-headed asshole. Not to mention his behaviour towards Severus..."
Neville grabbed Harry's hand with excitement.
"And how is he... dealing with the fact that his tormentor is the current Headmaster? How can he go with them anywhere?"
"Most of the time we can't do what we want, Mr Longbottom, but what we have to," Severus's voice was tired, but Harry became light-hearted hearing it. He jumped on his feet; his eyes glittered with relief and joy.
"Of course," Severus rolled his eyes. "And the conversation is over now. To bed! Everyone! Quiet, come with me for a while, please."
Harry stepped into his slippers and followed the tall man to the common room while the others returned to their beds obediently.
"Don't deduct points, please," Harry whispered after Snape as they descended the spiral staircase.
"I didn't intend to," Severus said. As they reached the common room, he turned to Harry with a serious expression. "What did you tell them?"
"About what?" Harry asked.
"Me. And Malfoy."
Severus was angry.
"Nothing detailed. They asked about... Harry," he muttered. "I had to tell them something. What did Malfoy want with you?" he changed topic.
"Just a little bit of a demonstration to show me my place, some threats..." his voice faded.
Harry put an arm on his shoulder. Their eyes locked. Harry was astounded when he noticed he wasn't much shorter than Severus.
"We'll survive them."
"They want to kill us, in front of the entire Death Eater community in order to demonstrate the traitors' fate, Quiet."
"But Malfoy didn't bring you to Voldemort!" Harry whispered.
"He said Voldemort has time. After June, I have to leave the school. They will try and catch me then, because it won't compromise Malfoy's position."
"So as long as we are in the school we are safe," Harry assumed.
"I don't know," Severus's expression turned unsure. "There was something in Malfoy's behaviour... He is lying. Be VERY careful."
Harry nodded silently.
"And now, go to bed," Severus pulled Harry into a short hug. "Sleep well."
Harry didn't want to return to the dormitory. He went to the bathroom and sat into the bench on which they used to put the robes.
So, Voldemort was again after him. Perhaps... this would be the occasion to face him, to sacrifice himself and save the wizarding community from this monster.
But he didn't want to die. He wasn't willing to sacrifice his life. He was only fifteen!
Harry leaned against the wall and let the waves of pure desperation wash over him.
He never wanted his fate. He wanted a normal, an absolutely common life, normal, with the usual pains and disappointments in it, nothing else...
He hugged his knees strongly and let his tears fall.
He wanted to live. He desperately wanted to live. Well, not at any cost, but then again...
The bathroom's wall was ice-cold against his back through the thin pyjamas, and he felt his skin burning hot. He began to shiver, but he didn't care.
Everything seemed so distant and strange. So beyond all probability.
Didn't he suffer enough last summer? In the last 15 years?
The bench tilted a little bit. Harry lifted his head from his knees and turned towards the other boy who had sat next to him.
"What do you want, Weasley?" he asked, but his voice was too hoarse to be sharp.
"You didn't return. I was afraid that..."
"Afraid!" Harry snorted sarcastically.
"Well," Ron shifted and pointed his gaze to the wet floor, "sort of. I just... I was..." he didn't continue.
"Spit it out," Harry said impatiently.
"What did Malfoy want from professor Snape? To threaten him?
Harry didn't answer just looked at him coolly.
"Look. You were crying," Ron managed to say.
"It's not your business," Harry's voice turned colder.
"Yes... but no. Look," Ron was clearly embarrassed. Harry became angry and moved to stand up. "No! Wait, please, just for now."
The exasperation in his voice stopped Harry in mid-movement. He plopped back to the bench.
"Right. For now. Talk."
"Yes. Look. Your father was a spy. Doesn't it mean that You-Know-Who still wants revenge on him? Mum told me about my... relatives. The Galvanys. She said that You-Kn... Vol- Voldemort," Ron paused for a moment, "had their children killed to deter the others from spying. It..." he stopped again, "it means to me that he is after you, both of you, now."
"Precisely," Harry said and stood up. He didn't want to continue this conversation.
"But he's already caught you, hasn't he?" Ron went on, and he too stood up. "He's already tried to kill you, right? It was he who made your scars, wasn't he?"
Harry whirled around, grabbed the front of Ron's pyjamas and hissed into his face-
"I just wanted to apologise because if You-Know-Who..." he jabbered.
"Whoever made my scars you didn't have the right to abuse me, Weasley. Why do you think that if it was the windscreen what hurt me, your responsibility is smaller?" Harry suddenly felt too weak to argue. "You never gave me a chance to prove myself. You hated me from the first moment just because you hated my father. Now, you still hate me, hate us, and if I confess to you it was Voldemort who made my scars you will hate me even more, just because we survived and Potter not!"
"I don't hate you!" Ron shouted back.
"You came here just to calm your conscience down," Harry said, his voice was suddenly soft. "You try everything to soothe your agitated nerves, Weasley. You didn't regret what you did, because of me. You regret it because of yourself, because you nearly became a murderer. You don't like me more than you did, you never tried to understand me, or Severus. On the contrary, you were always looking for reasons to hate us more. And even now, you just want to find excuses for what you did. But you won't. Severus has been on the Light Side for many, many years. He was Dumbledore's spy even in the last war. He always tried to save Potter despite... no, it's not important. And as for me – I've never been a Dark wizard. I've never done anything against you. I've never even tried to steal your girlfriend from you. I just wanted to be left alone," he finished and with firm steps he strode across to the door.
"Can you forgive me for what I've done?" Ron asked weakly from behind.
"I will forgive you when your apologies won't be only feeble attempts to justify yourself," Harry said not looking back, and left the room.
Harry, again, remained behind after Potions to have some words with Severus. In these occasions they didn't talk about anything important, they were mostly about Harry's studies.
"I still can't conjure a Patronus," he sighed and winked at the Potions Master. "But with Hermione's help at least I learned to conjure a silvery mist, and even professor Figg said that that's the expected result from a fifth year."
It was true. Hermione somehow managed to get a common detention with Harry in a Transfiguration class and McGonagall had made them to clean the Transfiguration classroom after dinner, while she was marking papers in her office. Harry had had his suspicions, McGonagall had never given detentions like that in the past, but later Severus explained him that all the teachers tried to loosen the pressure which weighed on the students, mostly by giving them detentions like that.
Harry then had begun to examine the teachers, and he realised that Severus had been right. There were fewer points taken and more detentions given, and Filch was extremely pleased: the school was cleaner than ever before.
Three detentions with Hermione had been enough to learn how NOT to conjure a full-fledged Patronus, just the usual vapour or smoke his classmates had produced.
"Other classes?" Severus arched an eyebrow.
"Binns the usual..."
"Professor Binns, Quiet."
"Yeah," Harry sighed. "Transfiguration is quite well, Arithmancy..."
"Professor Vector said you're the best alongside Mr Boot and Miss Granger," Snape smiled proudly.
"Perhaps," he shrugged. "Professor Flitwick returned our essays on the Memory-altering Charms," he changed topic. "I wrote about the curing of memory alterations and the repairing process. Professor Flitwick gave Outstanding on it, however, he advised me to do some research on partial memory alteration too – Neville wrote about it, you know," Harry said in thought.
"And what did you find? Is it possible to reintegrate an lost memory?" Severus asked curiously, he leaned forward.
"Well, not always," Harry sighed. "There are some conditions... The simplest case is when the caster lifts the memory charm he cast. The caster can almost always lift his charm, unless the spell was cast wrongly, for example if he cast it with a damaged or strange wand, or the caster didn't concentrate properly... In normal cases even the Healers can cure the memory alteration. But miscast charms are usually irreversible..."
The bell rang.
"All right, Quietus. Go. See you at lunch!" Severus stood up and ushered Harry out.
Harry didn't get too far. After he turned at the second corner-
"Impedimenta!" somebody whispered. Harry fell on his face, but his wand was already in his hand. He rolled away from a possible next curse and pointing his wand towards the direction the previous hex came he sent back another curse.
A wand flew to him in the air, its owner tried to catch it with a painful cry.
"Petrificus Totalus!" Harry cast the next curse and pointed the stolen wand at his chest. "Finite Incantatum!"
As soon the Impedimenta came off he jumped to his feet and the next moment he was kneeling beside a hooded figure. He stripped the hood from the face... and it was Zabini.
Suddenly, everything clicked into place.
"You attacked Seamus in November, didn't you?" he asked.
"Draco said... He ordered me to do it," Zabini moaned. "It was not my idea..."
"You could tell him no," Harry hissed. "You should have told him no!"
"He... he threatened to beat me..."
"You had other choices, Zabini. You ALWAYS have. I protected you..." he couldn't continue. A wand was pressed to his neck, and a cold voice snapped.
"Put down your wand, Snape."
He stood up.
"Turn around. Slowly."
Harry knew that it would be hard to face Lucius Malfoy, but he did nevertheless.
"What do you think you are doing? Attacking people on empty hallways?"
"No, it was..." Harry began, but he couldn't continue.
"It's not the first occasion, isn't it?" Malfoy asked teasingly. Harry blushed in anger.
"So you confess to it!"
"No, I just..."
"Well, you really don't need to confess. You've been caught red-handed. Accio!" Malfoy waved his wand and Harry's wand jumped into the man's hand. Malfoy raised his own wand and placed it tip to tip with Harry's. "Prior Incantato!"
Something like a stone-statue erupted from the point where the two wands met, it looked as though it were made of grey smoke. Harry wasn't taken aback, he'd already seen the Priori Incantatem spell in the Quidditch World Cup almost two years ago.
"Childish trick, Snape," Malfoy scowled at him. "I'd wait more from a Snape! Did you want to beat him with his own hands while he was petrified?"
"NO!" Harry yelled. "I just want..."
"Silencio!" Harry's eyes narrowed with wrath, but he couldn't say a word. "And thirty points from Gryffindor for impertinence. And thirty points for attacking a fellow student, twenty points for skipping a class and a week of detention with those... animals of our Gamekeeper. And the next meeting of the governors I will propose your expulsion, and you can go away with that... father of yours," Malfoy smiled evilly, "however I don't know how far can you get... Go now. I'm sure your house-mates will be pleased with your... results."
He tucked the wand back into Harry's hand and grabbed Zabini's shoulder.
"Stand up, boy. We will make a visit to the Hospital Wind."
Harry was staring after them with dull eyes. He felt as if his life was being ripped away from him. He would be expelled. It was true that Hogwarts wasn't his home any more now that Dumbledore had left, but his friends... his teachers... and to begin everything over again... With trembling hands, he placed the wand back to his belt and took a step. His left leg was aching. Probably, Zabini's Impedimenta hurt it, or the fall after it. He didn't know, and he didn't care. He sighed and limped towards the Defence classroom.
For his great surprise nobody blamed him for the point-loss. He had lost eighty points in one morning, but he had earned more than one hundred and twenty in the few last weeks, and in the other hand everybody hated the Headmaster enough to take Harry's side. Severus wasn't as eager to agree with him without asking him thoroughly about what happened.
Harry barely finished the lunch when a strong arm grabbed his shoulder so tightly that he cried out in pain. Severus's grip loosened somewhat, but he didn't let Harry go.
"I think we have to have a little chat," he hissed at Harry, cast a deadly glare at his housemates and dragged him out of the Great Hall. "What did you do?" he asked angrily just as they were out of the Hall.
Harry shrugged and began to tell him the morning's events after he left the Potions class. Severus didn't seem any calmer. His eyes were glaring and his sneer was carved deeply on his face. As Harry arrived to the point that he cast the Petrificus Totalus to Zabini, Snape interrupted him.
"But there was no need to beat Zabini into a pulp!" he shook Harry aggressively. "Why did you do it?"
"I didn't!" Harry yelled back.
"Don't lie to me! I visited Zabini in the hospital wing! He can't walk! He has black eyes and broken ribs! And he said..."
Harry paled violently.
"I saw him. He told he played a prank on you and you in return beat him."
"How could you do it?"
"It's unforgivable, Quiet. I..."
Harry felt as if a red veil had fallen before his eyes. The situation reminded him too much of the other in the morning. He clenched his hands into fists next to his side and his face tensed with impotent rage. He stood on his tiptoes to be as tall as his uncle and hissed at him-
"You aren't any better than Malfoy!" he told Snape. "It wasn't me, can't you understand? I didn't even touch him! After I petrified him, Malfoy came and attacked me from behind, took my wand, yelled at me, took eighty points, gave a week of detention and finally threatened to expel me from Hogwarts and I can't say a sentence, because he didn't listen! But okay for him, I don't mind! But you!" Harry's eyes were lightening. "You – thinking I attacked another student! You – interrupting me and jumping to conclusions without listening! I'd expected better of you!" Harry wheeled around and disappeared in a shady corridor before Severus could react.
"Quiet!" Harry heard his cry, but he ignored it. He felt hurt, extremely hurt and betrayed. How could Severus believe that of him? Why didn't he ask him before accusing him?
And most of all: how could he believe it?
His internal torments caused him huge bodily pain. His stomach, again. He crouched to lessen the pain, to catch his breath.
Now, he felt completely alone. Completely, utterly alone and cold and afraid and... and...
The bell rang. He had to go to the afternoon classes and after that the detention. The Astronomy class seemed infinite and never-ending, he had always hated theoretical Astronomy, it was too boring in comparison with the practical classes.
After the professor's last word he fled the classroom: he saw that the teacher wanted to tell him something, but Harry was really not curious as to what. He didn't want to talk to Severus, not yet. He was too disappointed and angry to risk another chat.
Tomorrow. He would visit him tomorrow, but not today. He had time.
He prepared for the next day's lessons in a study hour and excused himself to detention. McGonagall, who sat with them, dismissed him without further questioning, and Harry let a bitter smirk spread on his face. Even his Transfiguration professor, the Head of his House didn't believe Malfoy's story, only Severus Snape, with his clear judgement and high wisdom swallowed the Headmaster's word eagerly. Surely, the old reflexes...
He returned to the Gryffindor tower to change clothes. He put on a pair of impermeable boots and a raincoat – it had been raining for days – and stalked to Hagrid's hut. Once there he received the necessary tools for cleaning (naturally, without magic), and he began the work.
He didn't know what to do precisely. The stall was really soiled and it stank, but the garden... It was like a marsh rather than solid ground and all he could was slip and totter.
In ten minutes he was damp and dirty.
After another ten minutes he felt the work was impossible. With every turn he did, he brought more mud into the stalk than he managed to transport out. He wasn't even tempted to use magic: his wand was temporary confiscated by Hagrid, and if somebody learned about his other wand, Harry Potter's wand... No. That wasn't an option. The consequences would be too serious.
He moaned, and continued the endless struggling. He was scooping the excrement into a wheelbarrow when the door flung open.
"Need any help?" Hagrid's voice interrupted his bitter thoughts.
Harry dropped the scoop and turned to the Gamekeeper.
"Do you..." Harry began but he stopped. Hagrid was ushering Leah into the stalk. "What are you doing here?" he snapped at the girl.
"The same as you," she snapped back angrily.
Harry narrowed his furrows suspiciously.
"Who gave you...?"
Leah crossed her arms over her chest.
"Your precious father," she said.
They stood facing for some minutes, the animosity was almost tangible in the air. Finally, Harry gulped.
"All right then. Which part of the work do you want to do? Scooping or bringing outside?"
"Bringing," Leah's said and wrinkled her noise with disgust. "I can't stand this stink."
Harry shrugged. The girl chose the harder part of the work, but at least he asked. With her help, however, the work was considerably faster.
He scooped and brought the bins to the door where Leah grabbed them and poured out their content.
After half an hour Leah opened her mouth-
"I'm tired. Can we stop for a break?"
Harry agreed eagerly, he was exhausted too.
"We can, I guess," he told and dropped the scoop again. There wasn't any place to sit down, so they leaned to the wall to get a little rest.
"I'm not angry with you, you know," Leah said suddenly, her eyes pointed firmly to the ground. "I was just..."
"I know," Harry sighed. "Father thinks You-Know-Who wants to kidnap me..."
"To get revenge on him?" Leah asked and tugging her hair behind her ears, she looked at Harry.
He felt a sudden warmth in his chest.
"Yeah," he said and attempted a smile. He wasn't sure it was perfect, though.
"But... why did you suspect me?"
Harry scratched his neck with embarrassment.
"I- we suspected everybody."
"You were always with Granger. Why didn't you suspect her too?"
The question was obvious. The answer too. Harry didn't know what to say, nevertheless. His secret was too important to spill it, just because...
"I suspected her too. But we were together only in the library. And it's not too probable that she could have kidnapped me from inside the school," he finally found an acceptable excuse.
"I see," she sighed. She pulled out a Chocolate Frog from her pocket. "Do you want some?"
As Harry looked at the chocolate his stomach grumbled loudly. Leah snickered.
"Can I take it as a yes?"
"You can," Harry somehow managed to stutter, he felt dizzy and flustered.
The girl slowly unwrapped the cover and finding the card in it, she pulled out.
"Oh!" she exclaimed surprised. "I've never seen this card before! However, the face is so familiar," she wondered.
Harry looked at her with interest, but he didn't reach for the card.
"Who is in it?"
"Saevus Malignus Noblestone," she read aloud. "I've never heard his name before!"
Harry jerked his head.
"Saevus Malignus? But... he is the Bloody Baron! Let me see that card, please!"
Leah put a piece of chocolate into her mouth.
"Here you are."
Harry picked the card and looked at the figure in it.
But he had no time to recognise it. Harry felt as though a hook just behind his navel had been suddenly jerked irresistibly forward. His feet left the ground; he was all speeding forward in a howl of wind and swirling colour.
A Portkey, he thought with dread.
His feet slammed into the ground, and he fell over banging his head into something hard and sharp. He still felt as blood rushed to the back of his head and everything went black.
Severus was angry with himself. He tried to catch Harry many times that day, but the boy apparently decided to avoid him, and he was simply unable to reach him.
And he was right. His behaviour toward Harry was unacceptable, perhaps even unforgivable. He accused the boy before thinking it over, and he hadn't even given him a chance to explain himself. He had behaved like a raging idiot instead of the steady adult he considered himself.
What if he had lost Harry because of it? If he had lost Harry's trust and love?
He was scared. And he was required to sit a detention and a study hour. When he went to have dinner, Harry wasn't there. His heart almost stopped. Harry missed a meal because he was mad at him, it was understandable, but Harry was too weak to miss a meal. Too weak, too thin, too ill – still, however, the boy denied it always...
It was just too hard sitting next to a smiling and satisfied idiot – the idiot who had caused his incident with the only person he loved – and eating as if everything were all right. He glanced towards the Gryffindor table from time to time to see whether Harry arrived or not. But the boy was nowhere seen, and Severus decided to act. He searched for Hermione with his eyes, and calmed down as he saw she was calm. The girl surely knew where Harry was.
"Detention," she said when he finally asked her after dinner. "The Headmaster gave him a week of detention with Hagrid."
"Oh, I see," Severus cracked a relieved half-smile.
He was still relieved as he returned to his office to finish some potions for the Infirmary and compose a list of needed components for the nearing OWLs's potions.
It was quite late when he finished working. He had to go to check the Slytherin common room for students who didn't return their dormitory yet, but as he left his office, and faced the Slytherin common room, he felt a strange urge to go home. Just for a minute, his instincts told him.
He obeyed them. Fast, because he didn't want to confront Malfoy, he hurried to his quarters and pressed his index finger on the white dot next to the door.
The door swung open. There was darkness and silence in the living room, he always put out the torches when he left. With a fast flick of his wand he lit them and looked around. Everything was normal. Nothing unusual, he thought, and shrugging he turned around to leave the room.
But something caught his eyes.
Something wrong. Something VERY unusual.
Slowly, feeling an ice-cold cube growing in his throat he wheeled around. His eyes checked everything again. Fire – put out. Mantelpiece – the usual photos. Chairs, sofa – empty. Doors – open, rooms behind them – empty.
'I'm getting paranoid,' he thought to himself. But he had to go. It was already late.
The clock. Harry's Christmas gift above the mantel.
He staggered and he had to grab the chair not to collapse in shock.
Usually, the hands of the clock were pointed Home (for Severus) and Friends (for Harry) at this time of the day. Now, the hands were in a dreadfully unusual position.
Home. For Severus.
GB – the Greatest Bastard. For Harry.