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Dying Young by Silmarwen_Nenmacil

Format: Novel
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 19,497
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Slash (Same-Sex Pairing), Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme,

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Draco, Blaise (M)
Pairings: Ron/Hermione, Other Pairing

First Published: 08/22/2004
Last Chapter: 04/07/2005
Last Updated: 04/24/2006

Summary:

When Harry Potter starts his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry things aren’t going really well, and as the year passes by things only get worse. Weird girls, an insufferable Snape who is forced to teach him Dark Arts and a barmy old fool called Dumbledore don’t make things easy for him. And then there is Malfoy, Draco effing Malfoy, who always puts his finger exactly on the wound. WARNING: SLASH (MALE/MALE) UPDATED: 7/4 CHAPTER 5 ADDED


Chapter 1: Being Harry Potter, The Boy Who Wished to Die
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ETA 05/11/23 - I did not abandon this story. This is a WIP (work in progress) and to see how the writing is going, please visit http://www.livejournal.com/community/qotd_writes/ for more information. Thank you.



~*~ Dying Young ~*~




Title: Dying Young
Author: Silmarwen Nénmacil, or Deborah in real life
email: deborahraemdonck@pandora.be
Summary: Where will you go with no-one left to save you from yourself…When Harry Potter starts his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry things aren’t going really well, and as the year passes by things only get worse. Weird girls, an insufferable Snape who is forced to teach him Dark Arts and a barmy old fool called Dumbledore don’t make things easy for him. And then there is Malfoy, Draco effing Malfoy, who always puts his finger exactly on the wound.
Timeline: 6th year
Rating: R
Warnings: Slash, strong violence, strong language, scenes of a sexual nature, attempts to commit suicide
Ships: Harry/Draco (and Hermione/Ron but that’s not really important)
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize, please don’t sue me. I’m poor.
The title ‘Dying Young’ is also the title of a movie I once saw, it has got nothing to do with the movie whatsoever though. Harry or any other of the main characters are NOT going to die, not physically anyway.
The sentence ‘Where will you go with no-one left to save you from yourself…’ is a part of some lyrics by Evanescence. The song is called ‘Where will you go’.
I don’t want to copy anybody else’s work, please believe me.
Key:
bold: stressed words
italics: Harry’s thoughts
“…”: normal speech
‘…’: certain expressions




Reviews are most welcome! But please, don’t flame me.




A huge thanks to my beta's Kas, Vicky and Misthy. I absolutely love them!



Dying Young
Where will you go with no-one left to save you from yourself…



CHAPTER ONE – BEING HARRY POTTER, THE BOY WHO WISHED TO DIE



The razorblade touched the skin of my underarms softly. Closing my eyes and breathing hard, I pushed the blade further into my fragile and tanned skin. The vertical line of blood lengthened as I moved the sharp edge towards my elbow. Not too far though, a few inches were long enough.

Pain was rushing through me, together with some odd sort of adrenaline. I removed the blade. The cut was bleeding quite heavily, but I had not touched any arteries. Luckily.

Even though it sounds incredibly odd, this was the only method to convince myself of the fact that I was alive: cutting my forearms and watching me bleed. I licked the wound, it ached and prickled. But I deserved the pain; I deserved all hurting I ever suffered.

My vivid green eyes were watering. Nothing I did to myself could ever make me feel any better. I was still alive, while there were others who had died because of me.

Why?

Why did I deserve to live while my parents were assassinated? Why did I deserve to live while Cedric Diggory, ‘the spare’ like Voldemort had called him, needed to be killed off in front of my very eyes? Why, for God’s sake why, did I deserve to live while Sirius was murdered?

It was all because of me they had died…

I dug the razorblade in my skin a second time, about half an inch to the right from the other cut. I felt my own tears rolling down over my cheeks, falling on my naked chest and rolling southwards to vanish as they touched the brim of my black boxer shorts.

Yes, I am Harry Potter: The Boy Who censoreding Lived, but wishes to be dead at this very moment. I am the so-called ‘saviour’ of the world, weeping on his bed in the Leaky Cauldron two days before the start of a new term at Hogwarts. I am the one person doomed to face Voldemort and conquer him once and for all. But you know what? I don’t think I am in the mood right now.

A knock on the door of my hotel room startled me from my musing.

“Harry, are you all right?” I heard the rather high-pitched voice of Hermione shout.

censored. I hurriedly searched some plasters to cover the two cuts in my left arm and rubbed the tears from my face.

“Harry...?” She was still knocking on the door.

“Yeah, Hermione. I’m OK.” I called, trying to keep my voice even.

Those cuts really are aching.

“Can I come in, Harry?” She asked in a worried sort of way.

“Yes, of course.” I said, while rapidly grasping a blanket to pretend I only just awoke. Hermione opened the door tensely to, sit down on the end of my bed.

“Are you sure everything is okay though?” She asked anxiously while observing my swollen and bloodshot emerald green eyes.

“I’m fine, Hermione.” I answered, managing to make a feeble smile cross my lips. “I just didn’t sleep too well, that’s all.”

Hermione didn’t seem to be completely convinced, but didn’t make any comments.

Why does she always need to act so motherly, there is nothing wrong with me.

‘Right…’ Another part of my mind retorted.

In a way I really appreciated the anxiety of Hermione, Ron and hell, every person who cared about me, but they wouldn’t understand anyway if I would tell them what was bothering me.

Ron came running into my room as well, but stopped dead as he saw my face.

“You look like hell!” He exclaimed.

I saw Hermione giving Ron a ‘really subtle’-look and grinned.

“Oh… eh… sorry, mate. I didn’t want to…” He was swinging his arms nervously, clearly not knowing what to do or say from the glance Hermione had given him.

“It’s OK, Ron.” I said jovially, “I know I look terrible, but how will I ever manage to make myself presentable if Hermione hampers me to get out of bed.”

She cast me a questioning look.

I sighed.

“I am stark naked under these covers, you know.” I lied swiftly; I couldn’t allow them to see the cuts in my arms.

Hermione blushed and mumbled an apology before leaving the room. Ron grinned at me, before exiting my chamber as well.

Do they really believe anything I say? I thought desperately, before getting out of bed and searching some clean clothes to wear.

Even though I needed to try hard to avoid the cuts in my arms, the shower felt good. Refreshing. I rubbed my eyes; they were quite painful because of the crying. Probably they were completely red and swollen as well.

Yawning, I got out of the shower, grabbing my glasses which were lying on the lavatory stand.

Contacts would be useful.

As I looked in the mirror in front of me, I could clearly see why Ron had said I looked like hell: I was looking quite pale, I had huge grey bags under my eyes which seemed to have lost their normal emerald brilliance. I looked skinnier than ever.

I heaved a sigh and took a towel to dry my messy raven hair.

~*~


It was almost time for lunch when I finally entered the noisy bar and saw Mr. Weasley reading the Daily Prophet on a table at the back right corner. Hermione and Ron were sitting there as well, rather close to each other if you would have asked me.

I had intentionally dawdled so I didn’t need to have breakfast; I wasn’t hungry at all.

“Good morning, Harry.” Mr. Weasley said happily as he saw me approach.

Smiling, I replied: “Good morning, Mr. Weasley.”

“You look much better now,” Ron told me, somewhat apologizing.

“Thanks.” I said, taking place at the other side of the table. I scratched my left inner arm cautiously, hoping Hermione would not notice.

Luckily, she did not as she was too busy staring at Ron, who blushed crimson when he noticed. It looked as though they were finally making progress together.

I knew I needed to feel pleased for them but somehow I didn’t. It really made me feel like the third wheel.

Looking kind of awkward the other way I saw Dean Thomas standing next to Ginny, holding hands. I guess Ron hadn’t noticed yet, because if he did, he would have done about everything to get his fellow Gryffindor student away from his little sister.

Smiling at this thought, I ran my fingers through my tangled black hair. Smiling didn’t feel real anymore. Actually, it was just like someone was pushing the corners of my mouth up. It had been long since I had really laughed.

Damn, it would feel great to laugh again, to have a fit and lay on the ground howling with laughter, clutching my stomach because it hurt.

I sighed once more, trying to remember when I had last laughed. It must at least have been about what, three months? Ever since Siri- eh… ‘he’ had died. Again I felt tears burning in the corners of my eyes; I didn’t want to give in though.

“Harry, what is it?”

I blinked a couple of times before looking at Hermione.

“Nothing, really. Just-”

“OK.” She said. Why did she not go on about it? All people in their right minds could see I was not ‘all right’.

I guess nobody wants to see the supposed ‘liberator’ of the wizarding world doing really, really bad.

As soon as it was twelve o’clock, Tom put two tables together so the Weasleys (Ron, Ginny, Bill, Mr. Weasley and Mrs. Weasley), Hermione and Harry could be seated. Ron’s twin brothers were staying in their shop; it was amazing to see how many customers they actually had every day

Mrs. Weasley was talking to Hermione and Ginny about some second-hand robes she had laid hold on this morning, while Mr. Weasley was having a quite serious conversation with Bill about something Ron obviously wasn’t allowed to hear, even though he kept trying to eavesdrop on them. I was just listening to fragments of all conversations, not wanting to join any.

My mind drifted off, I didn’t seem to be able to concentrate me on one certain action anymore. And I had those complete mood swings as well. Extremely irritating, really.

One moment I wanted nothing more than to climb onto the roof of the bloody Leaky Cauldron and yell I needed help because I couldn’t handle it any longer on my own, but on the other hand there were those moments I didn’t want anybody to know anything about me.

I am a complete lunatic.

I jumped back to reality with a start when I heard someone mentioning my name. Hermione and Ron were watching me anxiously.

Not quite weird if you considered that I had this glassy look in my eyes every time I was buried in thought.

“Sorry?” I asked. They had asked me a question I could not recall hearing.

Hermione frowned.

“I asked you how your stay at the Dursleys was, during the holidays. You haven’t told us anything about it yet.”

Well, maybe the reason I haven’t told you anything about it, is because I haven’t anything to say about it.

“Yes,” Ron continued, “You haven’t sent us a single owl during your stay at the Muggles and we sent you hundreds!”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Well, actually Ron.” I said, looking him in the eyes and being utterly annoyed. “You’ve sent me 12 letters and no, I didn’t bother to answer them.”

Ron’s ears turned red.

Serves you well, git. I thought, feeling bad a moment after.

“Sorry, Ron.” I mumbled, looking at my fingernails. “The Dursleys were… eh… human.”

Why the censored are you lying, Harry? They were not ‘human’! They bloody locked you up in your room for two months without being allowed to leave it except for going to the bathroom two times a day!

“So they didn’t treat you bad this year?” Hermione asked cautiously. I think she was somewhat afraid of me, or my reactions.

“No, they were OK, Hermione,” I lied, not wanting to make her even more worried, “They were just… them, if you know what I mean.”

Eating only a little, I retreated in my room soon after the others had finished, saying I would be packing my trunk early. Lunch somehow left a bitter taste in my mouth, that day.




A/N: After a huge conficts between two sides of me I have decided to post the story on hpff.com as well. Please don't make me regret this choice.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this story, please review if you did. However, if you didn't enjoy reading this story: don't flame me. Of course you can review me telling what I did wrong.
Please don't tell me Harry is overreacting, cause I don't think he is.



Love,



Deborah


Chapter 2: Falling
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Watch out, cause the next chapters might be rated NC-17. I know that is not allowed at hpff.com but you can always check out my livejournal if I stop updating this story here.

A big thanks to my new beta, Katie!

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CHAPTER TWO – FALLING

I believe in people lying
I believe in people dying
I believe in people flying
I believe in people crying

(Excess by Tricky)

When I finally reached my room and collapsed on top of my bed, the bandages I had wrapped around my left under arm were already soaked in blood.

It quite had been a quite small miracle nobody (and especially not Hermione) had noticed the wet spot in the black, long-sleeved T-shirt I had been wearing during dinner. I wondered what Hermione would have said if she had noticed it, though. She probably would have sent me to the psychiatric ward of St. Mungo’s right away.

Rolling out of bed, I strolled towards the bathroom on the other side of the room before cautiously starting to unwrap the scarlet bandages. I flinched as I pulled the tacky, wet material off and saw the long vertical cuts. They weren’t bleeding at the moment, but judging by the still fragile scab that had formed itself, they would as soon as anything touched them.

Not able to resist myself though, I ghosted my index finger over the rather red and irritated skin around the wounds. My breath caught when my finger touched the first cut.Closing my eyes all sort of images flashed in front of my view. Everything that had been haunting me for the last few months, or even years, came back. Death Cedric, screaming mother, scarlet snake-eyes, Sirius falling…

A jolt of pain brought me back to present with a start and I hurriedly started pouring water over the wounds to clean them again.Careful not to damage the scabs even more, I softy wiped off the diluted blood with a towel.

~*~


Overhearing a row between Ron and Hermione wasn’t exactly the thing I had expected to witness when I plopped down next to the door against the cold stone wall later that afternoon, but it was what happened though.I ran my fingers through my hair, listening open-mouthed to the conversation I was not supposed to hear.

“…”

“Come on, Hermione! He really has been acting like a downright prick ever since he’s arrived!”

“Ron!” I heard Hermione’s shrill voice shout, dripping with indignation.

I gulped. Little did I know I would to hear my two best friends arguing about me when seated myself on the ground in an effort to make it myself more comfortable.

I tried to get to my feet, wishing I hadn’t heard anything, but nevertheless feeling as though I was glued against the wall.I was somewhat hypnotized; subconsciously I wanted to hear what they were saying.

“It’s true, Hermione! He hardly talks to us, and when he does it is just in that snappy way of his!”

“Well, he’s just been a bit moody I suppose, and seeing the cir-”

“A bit?!” Ron exclaimed, interrupting her in mid-sentence. “He almost bit my nose off during lunch!” He took a deep breath. I was feeling sorry for him, I really was. “That’s not exactly what I call ‘a bit moody’; it’s more like ‘bloody frustrated’ if you ask me!”

The quill I had been holding in an attempt to sketch the Golden Snitch broke into two with a loud “-CRACK!”

Oops. Ron and Hermione fell silent. Would they actually have been able to hear that as well? I thought in panic.

There was a profound silence after which I heard a gentle knock on the door, and Hermione’s voice calling: “Can we come in, please?”She sounded both shocked and afraid.

I refused to answer.

“Harry?”

Hermione came in even though I hadn't answered the door. She looked awkwardly at someone behind her, probably Ron, as she saw me sitting against the wall.

Ron came in as well.

“Hermione, Ron.” I greeted them dryly, not bothering to get up.

I saw Hermione eying Ron uneasily; Ron’s face was still quite red because of the yelling.

He cleared his throat nervously.

“Eh-” He stuttered. “Why… eh-”

I gave him a questioning look.

He swallowed, but at last managed to say: “Why are you sitting against the wall, Harry?”

I looked down at my completely screwed up drawing (full of splashes of ink), before answering: “I was tired of lying on the bed all day, and that desk chair really is an annoying pain in the ass, so I decided to sit over here.”

I wasn’t even lying.

“Oh.” Ron said uncomfortably. “And you eh… you didn’t accidentally hear anything on the hallway, did you?”

I looked up, a smirk crossed my lips.

“Well, I accidentally did,” I answered coolly.

I heard Hermione take short, edgy breaths.

“You heard the two of us talking, didn’t you?” She asked cautiously.

“Maybe ‘talking’ isn’t exactly the right word.” I said my voice still remarkably even. I raised an eyebrow.

“So you’ve been spying on us?” Ron stammered, sounding as if he could not believe his own ears.

I looked into Ron’s eyes, his ears turned almost instantly red.

“Well yes, but not intentionally anyway.”

“Right.” I heard Ron mumble.

“Indeed ‘right’, and why in the name of Merlin were you arguing about me in front of my door if you didn’t want me to hear?” I questioned, getting quite irritated.

“So you confess you’ve been eavesdropping then?” He asked angrily.

“No, Ron. I haven’t. I was sitting here ever since before you two started bickering about me.”

“Yeah right, my arse! I bet you were really keen to hear me and Hermione quarrelling about you. It’s so damn obvious you’re jealous because I’m Hermione’s boyfriend, and you’re not, you insensitive mother-fucking bastard!”

I got up; the room seemed to grow darker, the air around me sparkling with a strong, un-known sort of magic. Hermione whimpered, and covered her mouth with her hands. I still wasn’t as tall as Ron but I had reached the quite honourable height of six feet already.

Ron gulped. He was really lucky I wasn’t allowed to do magic outside of school.

“Take that back… Now!” I pronounced slowly, my voice trembling with rage and emotion. It took a lot of mental strength to prevent myself from doing something I might regret later.

Ron nodded shakily and opened his mouth to form the word “yes”, but what found its way out was a trembling “No.”My eyes narrowed in fury; Hermione was shouting desperately but I couldn’t understand her. My ears were ringing, and Ron’s words were echoing inside of me.

Jealous… insensitive… mother-fucking bastard… boyfriend…

I took a few steps forward, and took Ron firmly by the collar while pushing him against the wall.

“Take. That. Back. Now!” Our faces were barely five inches apart.

Ron squealed; his whole body was shaking by now. The skin under his freckles had gone really pale.

I guess I looked quite terrifying.

“OK.” Ron squeaked. “I’m sorry.”

Breathing heavily, I let go of him; my hands were trembling as well. Hermione and Ron hurried out of the room; Hermione said something before leaving that I could not comprehend.

I stumbled towards the bathroom and fell on my knees in front of the lavatory bowl, clutching it with both hands and vomiting hard.

Shaking, I got up and wiped off my mouth, and in search for something sharp I smashed down a little mirror lying in the medicine chest. I ripped off the bandages from my arm before placing the tip of one of the especially sharp fragments on my skin and pushing it in hard and deep.

~*~


It was still early in the morning when I woke up on September first, judging by the small bit of light that hadmanaged to wrestle itself through the gaps in the curtains.

Sighing, I stumbled out of bed, scratching my balls absent-mindedly. I opened the window and leaned with both arms on the windowsill, breathing the fresh, but nevertheless rather polluted, air of Muggle London.

Actually I didn’t expect today would be any different from the two previous ones: I was still bad-tempered, Ron would still be mad at me, and Sirius would still be dead.

Great.

My eyes wandered to the three long reddish-brown lines on my left inner arm; one of them was really deep and had started bleeding again during the night so my arm now looked as though it belonged to the decor of a horror film. I guessed it would be better if I bandaged them again today, or people might ask awkward questions if they noticed them.

I sighed again; rain was to be expected today, if you looked at the dark grey clouds that were forming in the north. The shapes were beautiful though. I had always liked the clouds, they somehow seemed to conceal a completely different world above; one that could couldn’t possibly be worse than the one below.

I was rather quiet when I walked down for breakfast a couple of hours later, buried in thoughts.

There was no Hedwig to hoot softly in disapproval as I left her with the luggage in the hall downstairs. I only had her empty cage to bring with me to Hogwarts. I did wonder where she was though, because I hadn't seen her since I had arrived at the Leaky Cauldron.

“Morning, Mrs. Weasley,” I greeted Molly after I had brought my trunk and Hedwig’s cage to the hall.

“Good morning, Harry dear,” she said, hugging me tightly. “Did you sleep well? You look a bit peaky.”

"I'm just fine, Mrs. Weasley," I answered while heading towards the bar to have breakfast. I still wasn't hungry, but I doubted Mrs. Weasley would let me leave without eating anything.

"Want some bacon and eggs?" Hermione asked me, sounding way too friendly.

I heard Ron mumble something unintelligible on the other side of the table, but I ignored him.

"Yes, please," I said politely, looking for the ketchup and pouring some on my eggs as she handed me a plate.

Hermione cleared her throat rather nervously.“Eh-” She began. “I think it is about time you guys make up with each other.”

I frowned.

“Well, I am not going to ‘make it up’ with Ron unless he apologizes for calling me an ‘insensitive mother-fucking bastard.’”Ron glared at me.

“And I guess you don’t need to apologize for anything at all.”

I ignored him once more and focussed my attention on my plate.

“Come on. You two are being so immature.” Hermione informed us.

“I’m not the one who is being immature, he is!” Ron and I chorused, pointing at each other and crossing our arms over our chests afterwards, both looking highly affronted.

“This is getting us nowhere…” Hermione groaned.

Breakfast passed in a tense atmosphere, as did the trip to King’s Cross station in Muggle taxis (Ron and I both refused to sit next to each other and that’s why a greatly irritated Hermione came to sit in between us).

Extremely bad tempered I jumped on the Hogwarts Express, after saying a quick good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, ready for another wonderful year at Hogwarts.

Yes, that was sarcasm.
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Please review!

PS: Sorry for not yet updating Fallen Angel, I plan on posting the next chapter any day now but it just isn't finished yet at the moment. I hope you guys understand.
This chapter was written weeks ago but my beta just sent it back so that's why I post it ;)

Chapter 3: The Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony Shock
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I know I posted this chapter 2 days ago but as the database of hpff crashed I lost everthing so that's why I post it again.

Please R/R!

A big thanks to my beta reader, Mishty!

Title: Dying Young
Author: Silmwarwen Nenmacil
Chapter: 3/?
Lenght: +4,000 words
Rating: PG-13/R
Warnings: Strong language, violence, kissing
Key:
bold: stressed words
italics: Harry’s thoughts + sorting song
“…”: normal speech
‘…’: certain expressions
Disclaimer: I don't own anything exept the plot and the sorting song


CHAPTER THREE – THE HOGWARTS SORTING CEREMONY SHOCK

Sometimes just walking is surreal; I pass right through the nameless ones. I know that hope is unknown. Sometimes the water feels so real as I walk through it, it fills my lungs. My god, I’m drowning. (- A.F.I.)

When I stepped into the Hogwarts Express the first thing I noticed were all the people who were staring at me, nudging their neighbours as they saw me approaching and speaking in low voices about things I couldn’t quite comprehend.

They didn’t even bother to look away as I glanced back at them. I ignored all of them, lowering my gaze and speeding up a bit.

All the sudden attention made me feel highly uncomfortable, as usual.

Honestly, after five years you would expect they’d be used to seeing me running around in the train, right?

Hermione was calling something after me but I ignored her too.

The Creevey brothers tried to ambush me further down the corridor, but I managed to sneak through a gap between their arms while they were gesturing avidly at the camera in Colin’s hand. Some Slytherins were pointing at me when I passed.

Near the end of the train I found myself an empty compartment. I slammed the door shut and kicked my trunk in frustration (which I regretted a second or so later as my big toe hurt like mad).

Grumbling, I took my wand out of my pocket and levitated my trunk onto one of the baggage racks. That was before I plumped down on the bench and buried my head in my hands.

This is going to be such a long year...

Images of all gazing people flashed in front of my eyes that I kept pinned on to the palms of my hands.

It had been two months since the last time they had posted my name in the papers, right? So why, for god’s sake, were they all looking at me like that?

I felt an uncomfortable pang in my stomach when I realised that I had, in fact, not read a single newspaper during the summer holidays.

What if something had happened I didn’t know about? Damn!

I mentally cursed myself for being such a prat and not asking Hermione (or Ron) anything about the wizarding world at all during my stay at the Leaky Cauldron.

“Hello Harry.”

I started at a sound so close to my ear. I jerked my head upwards to find Cho standing right in front of me; her long black hair was hanging nonchalantly down her back, and she was leaning slightly against the still open compartment door with her right arm.

“Eh... hi Cho,” I said looking up at her.

No fluttering in the stomach, no feeling like I had just skipped a step, no catching my breath, no blushing... nothing.

She was slightly blushing though.

“How were your holidays?” She asked.

“I eh...” I gulped. How could she even consider asking that? She bloody well knew Sirius had died! It didn’t at all occur to me that I had asked her the same question last year. I decided to stay polite anyway, in case she would start crying again. “They were OK.”

Downright lie, Harry... Downright lie!

“And yours?” I added as she remained silent.

“Oh, they were fine, Harry. Thank you.” She answered, smiling slightly.

“See I-” Actually I had wanted to ask her to bugger off but I fell silent when I saw Draco Malfoy passing with some Slytherins, behind Cho, sneering and glaring at me before pretending to gag.

I mentally rolled my eyes.

“Why don’t you sit down here?” I asked, changing my mind and gesturing at the place next to me.

“Yeah sure, Harry.”

Oh god, why did I just ask her to sit with me? Why? This is just great. Maybe that nice friend of her, Marietta, will come to sit here too. That would be fun.

Cho’s smile brightened as she sat down next to me and took my hand. Frowning slightly at this gesture I remained silent, silently hoping Marietta wouldn’t stroll in here any time soon.

As if she had been reading my mind, Cho suddenly spoke, suddenly looking a lot less cheerful and happy.

“Marietta left school. Her parents seemed to think Hogwarts wasn’t exactly a good place for her.” She smiled sadly, “Maybe it’s better this way... I mean; with her getting private lessons and all.”

She bit her lip.

“Yeah, probably.” I assured her. Cho’s face was so glum that it seemed she would start crying any second now.

Oh no, not again! My mind inwardly groaned.

After considering for a moment I took my hand from hers and awkwardly slipped my arm around her shoulders and patted her head softly. She was clutching my pullover as if she was afraid I might run away.

“It’s okay, Cho. Hogwarts will be fine without her as well, and I’m sure she’ll have a great education at home.”

I stroked her jet-black hair gently.

Maybe she’ll stop crying sooner if I’m being nice to her, I thought. Please, let her stop crying... Please!

“Do you really think so?” She asked in a soft, trembling voice, turning her head a little to face me.

Now she definitely is sitting way too close...

I had an odd feeling of déjà-vu when I looked at her like this. I swallowed.

“Cho, I-”

A soft knock on the door hampered me from saying anything more. Cho glared at the intruder. I let out a breath I didn’t realise I had been holding.

“Hi Luna.”

Luna’s constantly surprised looking eyes travelled over Cho’s so obviously annoyed ones, and my jumper which was slightly askew.

“Good morning, Harry,” she said in her most dreamy voice.

Cho snorted.

“And good morning to you too, Cho,” She added, misinterpreting Cho’s reaction.

“Hi Loony. I’m sorry, Luna,” she said chilly.

I frowned at her.

Was I misreading the situation or did these two really couldn’t get along with each other?

“Everywhere else is full,” Luna said by way of explanation, completely ignoring Cho’s comment.

I nodded in understanding as Luna sat down opposite me, staring at me with those slightly protruding bright blue eyes. Cho was still clutching my jumper possessively.

“How were your holidays, Luna?” I asked to break the awkward silence. “Did you manage to see those crumple-horned snorkaks you went looking for?”

“No,” she said in a serene voice, “But father said we’ll go again next year because it was quite a funny vacation. And we still have some money left from your interview.”

“That’s nice,” I answered, smiling.

Cho was rolling her eyes; it looked as though she wanted to catch my attention. However, I only got more irritated by her, even though she did not seem to notice that. I still wondered why exactly she had come to my compartment, acting as if she wanted to seduce me. She had that Roger Davis bloke, right?

I didn’t even feel the lightest tingle of jealousy when this thought occurred to me.

“I went to see the Tornados during the summer,” Cho said, snaking her arm around my waist now and pulling me closer. My body stiffened at her closeness but she did not seem to take in.

Did that woman really didn’t notice I wasn’t at all enjoying her closeness?

“Really?” Luna asked, looking up from a new edition of The Quibbler she had started reading only a few seconds ago. “I heard they are ranked second last. My father always said they had been cheating during the last season.”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little at the look of indignation on Cho’s face.

When she looked at me, I could see she was highly offended. I profited from this situation by extricating myself from her arms. Sulking, she moved towards the other side of the bench and stuck to window staring outside.


As time passed, the silence became heavier. The only sounds that could be heard, except for the voices of the students in nearby compartments, were the soft tapping of rain against the window, and the howling of the wind.

Uncomfortable with the situation I got up quickly when the witch with the food trolley passed.

I went to the corridor to buy some Cauldron Cakes. Luna and Cho rose as well, following me down the corridor. And it was just when I was about to return to my compartment I came to stand face to face with no-one less then Draco Malfoy and his gang.

I should have known...

“Had a nice holiday, Potter?” He spat, looking at me like I was a filthy thing on his left shoe. “Or did you miss your little doggy to comfort you when you felt lonely?”

Crabbe and Goyle laughed rather stupidly.

“Shut up, Malfoy,” I snarled; I felt the cakes in my hand getting crushed in my fury when I started heading towards my compartment again.

“What’s the matter, Potter? Don’t you want to be reminded of that? I bet you didn’t even-”

I grasped him firmly by the collar of his robes before he could even finish his sentence; my eyes were glittering in pure malice.

“Fuck you Malfoy,” I hissed, “At least Sirius wasn’t a convicted Death Eater like your father.”

Malfoy was having a hard time trying to breathe due the pressure on his throat, leave alone being capable of saying anything back to me.

I paused for a second, still not loosening my grip, and becoming aware of the number of people standing around us, watching the spectacle eagerly.

The silver Prefect badge on Malfoy’s chest was standing out in sharp contrast to his black robes.

“You really don’t have a clue how it feels like to lose someone you love, do you?” I added in a low voice so that only he could hear it.

Malfoy’s somewhat frightened-looking eyes were filled with pure malice and hatred. He was wheezing by now.

I released him and my fist collided hard with his cheekbone before he even managed to get away.

He firmly hit the ground.

I pushed through the crowd hurriedly, running towards my compartment.

“You’re going to pay for that, Potter! I swear. Do you hear me? You are so going to pay for that!” I heard Malfoy yell after me, before he spat on the ground bitterly.

My freshly bought Cauldron Cakes were lying somewhere in the middle of the crowd, crushed, trampled, and abandoned.

***

“What was that all about?” A Hufflepufff girl asked in awe as I passed a group of girls, who were standing in the pouring rain on the Hogmeade platform.

“Did you see the look on Malfoy’s face after Harry hit him?” Another girl enquired.

“I didn’t know Harry liked dogs...” Yet another girl mused aloud.

“No, you idiot. He was talking about Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black. He could change into a dog!”

“You’re kidding. That man’s a Death Eater!”

“Honestly, don’t you ever read the papers? He never supported You-Know-Who!”

“And that man was an Animagus? Wow, that is so cool. I bet Harry can change into a dog himself as well!” One of the younger Gryffindor girls squeaked.

I closed my eyes for a few seconds in frustration, pretending not to hear any of the gossip the girls were telling each other enthusiastically; they didn’t even bother to keep their voices down. It was as if they wanted to get me angry again.

The wind was blowing so hard I needed hold down my black hat to prevent it from flying away. I hurried over towards the carriages on the other side of the station and cautiously glanced at the Thestrals pulling them. They still looked as eerie as always, but they had gained my utmost respect now.

Remembering how the flight towards the Ministry of Magic had been I bit my lip. Why had I been so stupid to believe that fucking vision Voldemort had sent me? Why?

When I got into one of the carriages I briefly caught a glimpse of two long, red lines on my left inner arm. It was kind of hard to resist the temptation to conjure a knife and start cutting myself again. I felt the tiniest twinge of guilt in my stomach when I thought this though.

“Harry!”

Hermione came running towards the carriage as well and she only just managed to get in before it started its ride towards the Hogwarts castle.

“Harry...” she breathed, clutching her chest. “You shouldn’t have hit him!”

I looked into her eyes, my temper rising again.

“Well, hello to you too!” I snapped.

Hermione didn’t look at all put out by my reaction. On the contrary: she just repeated her sentence.

“You really shouldn’t have hit him, Harry,” she emphasised.

My mouth dropped open in anger.

“What is it with everyone today? First all those people watching me like I was a mutated alien or something like that, then Cho being all rude to Luna and clutching me as if she was some sort of freak, and then all those stupid girls going on about Sirius, and now finally you saying ‘shouldn’t have hit him, Harry. Shouldn’t have hit him, Harry!’” I exclaimed, mocking Hermione’s high-pitched voice. “Well: Fuck You! I bloody well am glad I hit the bastard!”

She didn’t even do so much as blink while I was yelling at her like that; that angered me even more.

Her sincere brown eyes calmed me though.

“Malfoy’s a prefect,” she said softly, “It isn’t exactly smart to play with him like that. He really could make your life a living hell.”

I snorted. “As if he hasn’t done that during the past five years.”

“This year is different in many ways, Harry. Malfoy has changed, the Dark Lord is recruiting an army; Hogwarts isn’t the safe place it used to be any more... And most important: you have changed. You’ve changed so much since Sirius’s death and you don’t even seem to notice it yourself.”

I wasn’t aware of the odd way Hermione was looking at me, as I exclaimed, “But-”

I was silenced by Hermione’s lips pressing on mine; her mouth opened a little, allowing her tongue to force itself a bit through my slightly parted lips. My eyes went wide in surprise.

In my state of utter shock I almost suffocated when her tongue softly ghosted over the roof of my mouth. She pulled back quite abruptly.

“I’m sorry,” she said, blushing slightly. But before I could ask any explanation of her behaviour at all she sprinted out of the carriage which had halted only some instants before.

That was the first and last time Hermione would ever touch me in this way, I swore to myself silently.

Still feeling somewhat numb inside I got out of the carriage; I didn’t notice I had landed in the middle of a puddle, neither did I notice a group of Slytherins talking about me in loud whispers. For once they didn’t even wear a look of pure loathing when I passed by.

The Great Hall looked perfect as always in the dim candlelight of the candles, which were floating above the four House tables. The stormy clouds perfectly reflected the ones outside and from time to time a lightning bolt crossed the dark sky.

My stomach was slightly rumbling by the time I sat down, which wasn’t surprising as I hadn’t eaten anything all day except for the poor breakfast this morning back in the Leaky Cauldron.

Why had Hermione kissed me? I asked myself over and over again. It felt as if I had ended up on the set of some really cheap Muggle soap-opera, which Aunt Petunia used to watch, where nothing seemed to be realistic.

Hello, Hermione! My mind shouted. Why the hell did you just do that to me? You’re about the only girl in our year I never thought about in that way! Have you finally gone completely nuts thanks to all those books you have read?

I looked down at my empty plate. She probably hadn’t meant anything by it, I then told myself.

Yeah sure, Harry. It’s completely normal when your best friend snogs you in an empty carriage. It happens every day!

Sarcasm abounded.

Coincidence or not, Hermione was already in a busy conversation with Lavender Brown not so far from me, on the opposite side of the table. She looked as if she hadn’t even seen me walk in as well. Not that I cared. The kiss had meant nothing for me anyway. Hermione was and would always be just a friend of mine, and if she couldn’t live with that... my thoughts trailed off.

“Hiya Harry.”

A flash of light caught me off-guard.

Blinking, I murmured: “Hello Colin.”

“See Harry, I received a new camera over the summer. Isn’t it cool? Would you pose for a second, Harry, so I can take another picture?”

Ron, who was sitting next to Hermione, rolled his eyes at this. His jealousy was so sickening, it irritated me illimitable.

“No, sorry. Colin. Could you please take it some other time?”

People are watching, you idiot. Do you really think I want to be on photographed in the middle of the Great Hall?

He looked slightly disappointed but I didn’t care. He went to sit on the far end of the table with some other fifth years.

My eyes travelled over all the familiar and not-so familiar faces in the Hall. Most of them were chatting merrily but I couldn’t help but notice many sad-looking students as well. Maybe Voldemort had indeed struck some wizarding targets during the holidays.

Cho was waving at me happily when she saw me, and very reluctantly I gave her a short wave. Luna was being her dreamy self again: staring in with glassy eyes right in front of her. You couldn’t quite see what she was staring at.

Draco Malfoy was nowhere to be seen, which gave me some satisfaction. Maybe he even needed to visit the Hospital Wing thanks to my little outburst.

I smirked evilly.

“All right, Harry?”

I jumped back to reality with a start.

“Huh? I’m sorry, Neville. What exactly did you say?”

“I saw you in Diagon Alley a few days ago, and you promptly ignored me there as well.” He said looking slightly put out. “If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me okay?”

“Don’t mind Harry, Neville.” Ron answered darkly, “He somehow likes to disregard people nowadays…”

I glared at Ron.

“I’m sorry, Neville. Really. I just really wasn’t paying attention to things…”

I fell silent when I saw Malfoy strolling into the Great Hall; the smug look on his face somehow made me feel slightly sick. He sneered at me before sitting down at the Slytherin House table next to Crabbe and Goyle. It was only then I noticed Snape had entered the Great Hall right after him, with an equally smug face.

It was as though a huge block of solid wood had just hit me hard on the head.

“Shit…” I muttered.

Hermione’s eyes went wide when she noticed this too. I swallowed hard as Snape leaned forward a little to talk to Dumbledore before he went to sit on his usual spot at the table.

The old man nodded slowly, watching me piercingly through the crowd of people. I blinked and broke off the eye-contact, knowing my headmaster had just made an attempt to read my mind.

The Great Hall fell silent as Professor McGonagall strode through the huge oak doors, with a long line of utterly terrified-looking first years behind her.

Almost all of them were gaping open-mouthed at the enchanted ceiling. A small, pointy-faced boy caught my eye; with his patina-blond hair he looked awfully like Malfoy. He wore a look, though, which I hadn’t seen Malfoy wearing ever since first year, when we had been serving detention in the Forbidden Forest.

McGonagall placed the old Sorting Hat on the small stool in front of the assembled students.

All sounds died away when a tear near the brim opened and it began to sing:

I welcome you all, people old and new
And every year I tell you four tales
Of friendship, great wisdom, guile,
And of great courage that never fails
Of sharp Rowena Ravenclaw,
Brilliant, with such a strong will
That few ever realized just how
Very pretentious was her skill
People’s champion Gryffindor –
Bold strength was his primary tool
His courage is legendary – But
His impetuosity got him labelled a fool
Now Salazar Slytherin, dear people
Never claimed to be the best of men
Though a sharp and cunning breaker of rules
He never moved without a clever plan
Gentle, kind-hearted Hufflepuff
Chooses hard-workers as you know
But if you don’t fit anywhere else
Rest assured, this is where you’ll go.
Now, a Gryffindor can be found
In each and every single one of you
And yes, you will be shocked, but
The same goes for Slytherin too.
So if you are pushed into Ravenclaw
That doesn’t mean that you are clever.
Even if you are a die-hard Hufflepuff
You can still be unfaithful, whenever.
Everyone here is a mixture
A potion, mingled a certain way
Yet you all are someone unique
So listen to me when I say
That when you put me on your head
Then please don’t nag or whine
Because when I sort you into a house
I know that there you will be fine
One thing you must always remember,
Because, to Sorting, that is the only key
That no one is a perfect Hufflepuff,
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, for me.
You are all unique and that is true
But you all have parts of these great four
Their many, varied qualities abound in you,
But what guides me is the one at your core.
Heed my advice, my warning, my words:
Resist all attempts to break you apart:
Stand united! Reinforce your strengths!
That’s all, now let the sorting start.


A low murmur spread itself throughout the dining hall as soon as the Hat stopped singing. If a foreigner would have entered the Great Hall, he would have thought he’d ended up in a nest of really angry bees who were about to sting anyone who came too close or insulted them in any way.

My gaze wandered over all the horror-struck faces; practically every House had been offended so it was quite obvious no applause came. Even Dumbledore seemed to be completely dumbfounded by the song.

Most of the Slytherins, however, were (Surprise, surprise!) looking rather pleased with themselves. It was the only house that was used to being dragged through the mud, and were obviously happy that, for once, this wasn’t the case at all.

At the Gryffindor table my eyes strayed over my outraged-looking house-mates.

Simon Filister was actually yelling at the Sorting Hat even though it remained frighteningly silent and even Nearly Headless Nick seemed to be shocked beyond words.

The first-years were all positively puzzled and almost visibly shaking in fear of all the angry students.

Hermione hadn’t even opened her mouth ever since the beginning of the song, but the frown that crossed her brow clearly told me that she didn’t at all approve the Sorting Hat’s words.

“How can that bloody Hat actually say something like that?” A furious Ron shouted, “there is no way that there is even one Gryffindor on earth that would even do so much as fit into Slytherin?”

Forgetting our dispute for a moment I answered. “Do you really think that’s true, Ron?” I asked loudly, looking at him. “If there are Gryffindors fitting in Ravenclaw, like Hermione, or Hufflepuff, like Neville, why, for god’s sake, why can’t there be a Slytherin among all Gryffindors? That is just one of the zillion prejudices most of the pure-blood wizarding families have: Slytherin is bad. Well, the only thing I can say about that statement is that you are seriously mistaken. It’s not your skills or qualities or whatever that are important, no, it’s the choices you make during your life that influence it fully!”

I silenced for a moment, not able to find the correct words and reaching my boiling point before I yelled: “I’m a Slytherin, damnit! That bloody Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin first!”

It was remarkably quiet around me by the time I had finished shouting, and just about everyone was looking at me in horror. Without realising it I had just admitted in front of a whole public what I had been refusing to admit towards myself during the last five years.

I didn’t hear when Dumbledore started talking again or when the first years finally were sorted but the only thing I knew was that when I looked down at my with plate loaded with food sometime later, I didn’t feel hungry any more.

***


Okay guys, this was it. I hope you enjoyed it. Please everyone review, if you reviewed this chapter yesterday please do so again cause I lost all of them (12 reviews from the 3th chapter and about 25 for the other two chapters).

I love you all!

PS: Yes, I will update FA as soon as I finish the next chapter.

PPS: Yes, I will send you your ficlet, it's more or less finished exept for the beginning which doesn't fit at all yet.

Chapter 4: The Aftermath
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Thank you FairyTale_Princess_504, Paige Taylor, insane_angel, Lauren, ivory ravyn (AFI rulez!), jamie, Mandi B., SeaMar, kira_riddle (Don't worry. I will check out your stories during the holidays), BillyLevel27Chick, Ema, Mallorie, Ghausia, feltonlover (I'm not a cutter but I have a vivid imagination and read a lot about it), Y NaffiT?, Chris, ????, megan (That's because I am Harry's age, I s'pose), Kijo, Vanessa, x bellatrix, skyla, jessee, Emmeline Bagman, ciera and ze piggy, Tanya Brauer (This is only the beginning!), Liv, Book_Nerd05, Julie, Phynix, Rachida, psychofreak, Bubbles00, Robin (OMG! Thanks! *blushes*), me, mavis, theateraholic, Holly the Folly (Whaaaaa! *runs around screaming in astonishment and happiness), Sungoddess (I will, sorry!), ME!!!, alice, and Amy for the lovely reviews. You guys rock!

John, demitria, and sirius_lvr73, I am glad you guys want slash so badly but it isn't going to be in this chapter, nor in the next. I don't want to rush things up, I hope you understand that.

cheezy_4me, I don't believe Harry and Draco will end up togheter neither. According to J.K.'s style that is impossible. I realise that. But one can't stop hoping, right? I love Harry/Draco even though it is impossible.

fuuka, love, if you cut yourself I really must say that is not a good thing. I don't write because I want to encourage anyone to start doing that. Thanks for the pointers but if I get too realistical qome people will freak out, even though I guess I already did so during previous chapters. But thanks anyway.

I'm sorry f u c k changes into censored, Erica. I'm not the one doing that. It's the site...


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Chapter: 4/?
Rating: PG-13/R-ish for cutting and language
Lenght: +5,000 words

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CHAPTER FOUR - THE AFTERMATH

Strapped down and heavy, tied up and bound; this weight I carry, this weight I’ve found. So let me be the one to say: I’ve really had enough! (- Earshot)

Whispers. The soft buzzing noise rose from the crowd as soon as I got up from the Gryffindor House table, and even when I left the Great Hall through the big oak doors it followed me.

I looked down at my feet as I climbed the stairs, feeling the gaze of the other students leaving the Hall.

When Professor McGonagall had approached me right after the feast, she had, of course, only given the other students more to gossip about, and when it had reached their ears that I was expected in the Headmaster’s office, things only got worse.

I passed a few corridors, went through some more secret passages hidden behind tapestries and climbed even more staircases.

I felt my stomach drop with every step I took closer to Dumbledore’s office.

I noticed some, obviously barking mad, girls had been following me ever since I had left the hall.

That is so pathetic, I thought, jumping over one of the trick stairs Neville always managed to forget. A nervous giggle from one of the girls reached my ears a moment or so later (clearly they knew I was aware they were following me) but I decided to ignore it, guessing they’d get tired of their stupid game soon enough.

I went through the final corridor, and it was only when I was standing in front of the stone gargoyle that I realised that I did not, in fact, know the password.

“Eh... Sherbet Lemon?” I tried tentatively. As expected the gargoyle didn’t move an inch; instead it kept looking at me sternly. “Drooble's Best Blowing Gum? Eh... Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans?” Still no response. “Maybe... Sugar Quill?”

“Why don’t you try ‘expulsion’, Mr Potter?”

I started and jerked my head around to face the source of the icy voice. Snape was looking way too happy for my own good. The more happy he was, the more unhappy I got.

“Oh don’t be ridiculous, Severus,” McGonagall snapped as she too strode over towards the gargoyle.

“Ice mice,”

I frowned slightly at the password. That old man really managed to surprise me every time.

“You go first, Potter. Come on.”

Cautiously I stepped on the spiral staircase, obeying McGonagall’s orders. I was followed closely by my Head of House and Snape.

The staircase began circling upwards from the moment I stood on the first step and stopped dead immediately after Snape had left it.

I took a deep breath before knocking on the wooden door, mentally preparing myself for the worst.

I can’t get expelled just for hitting someone, right? I thought nervously.

I entered.

The first thing I saw was Fawkes the Phoenix, who was sitting serenely on his perch next to the writing desk; the fire was burning merrily and spread a welcoming light. Dumbledore himself was sitting in his usual chair behind the desk, and his head was resting slightly on his folded hands.

“Those were some wise words you spoke back there at the Gryffindor table.”

His bright blue eyes were sparkling behind the half-moon glasses though he looked at me piercingly as he spoke. I wasn’t sure either he was being serious or not, as he had told me just about the same thing while I was still in second year.

“Eh... thank you, professor.” I said, quite unsure.

Snape’s mouth dropped slightly open in annoyance and frustration. Clearly he hadn’t really expected Dumbledore to say that as an opening sentence. Neither had I to be honest.

“Headmaster,” Snape began, shooting me one of these death glares he seemed to save up especially for me, “I thought we were summoned here to discuss Potter’s punishment for his little outburst towards the Slytherin Prefect, Mr Malfoy, instead of his touching speech in the Great Hall.”

Dumbledore ignored him and directed himself to professor McGonagall who had been standing discreetly near the door; her lips were as thin as ever.

“Could you please conjure us a couple of chairs, Minerva?”

A nerve near Snape’s temple was twitching.

The Head of Gryffindor conjured two solid wooden chairs, and again the picture of Dumbledore’s fluffy armchairs that he had conjured in the Ministry of Magic flashed in front of my eyes as I sat down.

“Now Harry,” The old man said, looking so much older all of a sudden, “Professor Snape informed me that you’ve had a small encounter with Mr Malfoy in the train. Would you care to explain why exactly did you start a fight with him, Harry?”

I answered, looking down at my knees: “He provoked me, Sir.”

Both Snape and McGonagall snorted in a rare moment of agreement.

“And it wasn’t really a fight, Sir,” I added as an afterthought, “I mean... I only hit him once.”

I looked up and judging by the looks the others were giving me they had heard I was feeling slightly sorry for that: McGonogall’s lips thinned, making her look sterner than ever, and Snape was looking downright outrageous.

“Potter, if you only-”

“Shhh, Severus, stay calm,” Dumbledore warned, making eye-contact with me once more. “And what was it exactly Mr Malfoy did to provoke you?”

I looked down at my knees again, replaying the ‘conversation’ I’d had with Malfoy earlier that day.

“He... eh... he insulted Sirius.”

I felt my face go red when I realised how incredibly stupid and childish that must have sounded.

McGonagall was pursing her lips together as though she wanted to prevent herself from saying something she might regret later. Snape, on the other hand, was rolling his eyes at my comment and didn’t seem at all impressed by my excuse to start fighting. I could have sworn I heard the word ‘preposterous’ cross his lips while he looked at the ceiling in irritation.

“Do you think he deserved to be hit because of that, Harry?” Dumbledore asked calmly.

I couldn’t help but stare at him in disbelief when he said this.

Why, of course he deserved what he got! And now hurry the fuck up with my punishment, will you?!

The frown in Dumbledore’s brow deepened.

Snape suddenly spoke: “Maybe, Albus, we could make sure he’ll think twice before starting a Muggle fight with a fellow student again. Maybe we could take a leaf out of Umbridge’s book and lengthen Mr Potter’s Quidditch banishment for another year...”

McGonagall rose from her chair so quickly that it seemed as though she had been stung by a Billywig, eyeing Snape angrily.

“Potter is Quidditch Captain, Severus. I will not have him banished for another year because of a trifle like this!”

That was a bit rich coming from her, I thought, considering the fact that she had been really angry with me last year when I had started fighting with Malfoy then as well. She hadn’t been the one who had wanted to see me banished though; it was that foul Umbridge woman who had decided that.

“Of course not, Minerva,” Dumbledore assured her, “Please sit down.”

She shot Snape another furious glare before sitting down again.

“No,” The Headmaster said, “I think it is better to punish him in a more appropriate way, according to me. Even though I must say that Harry’s punishment is not the only thing we need to discuss.”

I bit my lip anxiously when I saw the grave look on his face.

***


“Potter.”

I looked around. Snape’s cruel grin broadened even more when he saw my frown when I looked at him questioningly. Obviously he had thought of some sort of nasty closing sentence to make sure he had the last word in stead of the Headmaster.

“Maybe next time you come to visit Professor Dumbledore you might not ant to bring your personal fan club with you.”

He gestured vaguely at the two girls who were standing on the other side of the corridor. They both were both looking utterly terrified at Filch, the caretaker, who was lecturing them about something I couldn’t hear, but judging by the way one of the girls was eyeing me I felt quite sure that it had something to do with me. I felt my face go crimson.

I glared at Snape.

“Now, now, Mr Potter. That is not exactly the way you ought to look at your professor,” he smirked smugly, “twenty points from Gryffindor and now back to your tower before I need to deduct more points from your House.”

Fuming I hurried up the stairs.

As if I ever wanted those cows to track me down; it was just obvious Snape had wanted to cast it in my teeth once more that thanks to me he would be spending one night a week with a ‘hopeless case’ like me to teach me the ‘fine and subtle’ art of Occlumency.

Stupid git. As if I liked to be stuck in a room with him one night a week, losing yet another part of my rare free time. Fucking Occlumency lessons... I really had thought I’d had enough lessons last year.


“Avoiding eye-contact won’t always work, Harry.” Dumbledore had said by way of explanation. Damn him!

Not that Snape had been too happy with it, but it seemed like Dumbledore had already warned him beforehand. The bloody bastard just liked to dig into my thoughts!

And of course there had been my real punishment as well, which turned out not to be as bad as expected. I would be serving two nights of detentions with the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, whoever that might me.

It struck to me that I still hadn’t seemed him and if my memory served me well he hadn’t been sitting at the Staff table neither. Oh well, can’t be as bad as serving detention with Umbridge, right? Or at least I hope it can’t be as bad.

There were still scars on my right hand saying ‘I shall not tell lies’.

I started panicking slightly when I remembered what I had said in the Great Hall. What would the other Gryffindors say when they heard... Shit.

Dumbledore had not only been talking about Occlumency and Malfoy though. After a while he had ordered Snape and McGonagall out of the room (I must say Snape was quite pissed off because of this), and he had started talking about the Prophecy… again. He asked me whether I had thought about the consequences.

How thick was the man actually? Really, of course I had been thinking about it sometimes. I had been thinking about that prophecy constantly. Every time anyone mentioned Voldemort, Death Eaters or Sirius I was reminded of that bloody Prophecy, the prophecy that would cost me my life eventually.

How could I ever conquer the Dark Lord? That was just ridiculous. Me, a sixteen year old nutcase with the mental health of a basket case? I guess not.

But even so Dumbledore seemed to think I could do it. I had seen so in his eyes when he had looked at me through those damned half-moon glasses. He really believed in it. He really believed in me.

According to me that proved once more that the barmy old fool really was loosing his marbles.


Instead of going to Gryffindor Tower I entered the boy’s bathroom on one of the upper floors of the castle and locked myself up in one of the cubicles, deciding I wasn’t yet ready to face a whole common room of fellow Gryffindor students who, naturally, would have already heard the story about their hero being a bloody Slytherin by now.

I let my head down sink into my hands when I sat down on the toilet, not willing to give in to tears. Weeping in a toilet cubicle was something girls did when they were upset; it was not something a sixteen year old boy was supposed to do. I breathed a few times slowly; tears were still burning in the corners of my eyes but I knew they would fade away slowly if I waited.

I took my handkerchief out of the pocket of my black slacks and suddenly a small razor blade fell on the ground with a tinkle.

I picked it up, eyeing it longingly.

Yesterday I had put it in there when Fred and George suddenly had stormed into my room in the Leaky Cauldron to hand me over a last amount of candy fro their joke shop so I would be able to have some fun during the term.

I ran my index finger gently over the sharp edge.

I took off my black robes and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt, feeling hypnotised by the blade. It would only take a few minutes. I just need to feel it... in my skin... I just want to forget my other pain for once... Just for once...

I was breathing sharply as I dug the blade in my skin.

So fragile...

I closed my eyes for a moment to get past the initial wave of pain and adrenaline.

A voice in the back of my mind was screaming at me, screaming that I was just one fucked up person who was sick for doing something like this. I ignored it, and guided the blade further down the older scar. I gulped in some breaths, thinking about all the things that had happened during the past months...

As if suddenly waking from my trance I took my handkerchief and wrapped it using my teeth and free left hand firmly around the cuts in my right arm, trying to stop the bleeding.

The cuts were bleeding quite heavily, and my handkerchief was already soaked in blood.

I readjusted the white sleeves of my shirt feeling an odd mixture of guilt, relief and dismay. I knew the blood would ooze through the material of my shirt really soon as well but I wouldn’t be able to bandage it till I was in the dormitories anyway.

I got out of the cubicle to find the bathroom empty. Luckily. So I went towards the sink to wash my hands. My reflection in the mirror looked worn out and the slightly open shirt, loosened tie and extremely messy black hair didn’t exactly improve that image.

Do I really have to face all other students today?

Yes, I need to face the other students today. What kind of fucked up question is that? If I don’t they might think I am too much of a coward to do so, which I am not.


When I had made myself somewhat presentable I exited the bathroom. I was ready for the confrontation I had wanted to postpone as long as possible.

“Carpe diem.” I mumbled when I reached the Fat Lady who was looking at me with wide eyes, full of sadness and disappointment. I ignored her.

Talk about an ironical password...

I got through the portrait hole and walked tentatively into the common room. That I was ready for the confrontation didn’t mean I was happy with it.

As I had dreaded everyone in the room fell silent, except for a second year who had been explaining the rules of Exploding Snap to a first year I vaguely remembered as someone called Justin Hobbes, obviously a Muggle-born. They too fell silent when they noticed I had entered.

This is just great.

As I started climbing the stairs towards the sixth-year’s boy’s dormitories I heard someone calling after me.

“Is it true what they say?” I heard, “Are you really a Slytherin?”

I turned around and smirked when I faced the small boy who had shouted. I couldn’t deny he was kind of brave. I saw Ron eyeing me suspiciously from behind a book (Had he actually been reading? I asked myself, laughing at the thought. My question was answered though, when I saw he was holding it upside-down. I guess not.)

“What do you think?” I snapped, looking piercingly in the boy’s dark eyes. I could tell he was scared, but nevertheless he was looking at me in challengingly, his arms crosses in front of his chest.

The boy obviously didn’t know what to answer. Poor boy, being humiliated in front of a whole common room of Gryffindors wasn’t exactly something most people would call fun; but I didn’t really care at the moment.

Without another word I ran up the stairs and I entered the dorm, slamming the door shut behind me, and collapsed on the bed, shutting the curtains around it. I didn’t take notice of Dean or Seamus sitting on the bed next to mine, talking in low voices.

I’m just making things worse. I thought miserably. If I keep acting like this, people might actually think I would like being a Slytherin, which, of course, is complete nonsense.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to set my mind at ease, and spread my arms above my head. It would have been easy to fall asleep like this if not suddenly a twinge had crossed my scar, making me clutch my forehead. I only just managed not to scream out.

The pain vanished as abruptly as it had come.

I could feel a jolt of fiendish joy in my stomach right after, which I was quite sure was not related to my current feelings or thoughts.

Bloody Dark Lord. I can’t even relax on my bed in case he manages to intrude in my mind. No, hold on. This time it was I who had invaded Voldemort’s mind. Or at least I think I did, without realising it.


It was already dark in the dormitory when I opened my curtains later that evening, and judging by the snores of Neville, I guessed it was quite late already.

I got out of the bed, careful not to wake anyone, and silently I sneaked some bandages in the pocket of my robes before I went to the bathroom.

Once I had removed my robes I concluded that I really was fortunate for being obliged to wear black school robes at Hogwarts. The sleeve was soaked.

After wrapping the bandages around my still stinging wrist, I stared into the mirror and ran my finger over my scar. It looked perfectly normal but still I couldn’t help but wonder about what exactly had caused the sudden happiness Voldemort had experienced a couple of hours ago.

***


“You really don’t look good, Harry. Is something wrong? Didn’t you sleep well?”

“No I’m fine, Hermione. Thanks,” I mumbled when I looked up from my breakfast to find her plumping down next to me on the bench in the Great Hall. She didn’t seem to get my irony. If I wasn’t looking very good or wasn’t feeling at all well then it had something to do with the fact that my life was so incredibly fucked up, partly thanks to her.

It was a pity she seemed to have realised ignoring just wouldn’t do. I swallowed.

“Uh, Hermione, about yesterday... I just want you to know that-” Blast it!

Ron came strolling towards the House Table as well, by which he immediately made sure I could not possibly finish my sentence and therefore couldn’t tell her that ‘the kiss’ had meant nothing to me at all and that I hoped she would never do something like that ever again.

Ron sat down on the other side of Hermione and pecked her nervously on the cheek. She blushed. I rolled my eyes and started buttering my toast; Ron was still angry with me and still ignoring me, of course, so he didn’t notice this.

I remembered how Hermione had told me last year about Ron being a hopeless case; I didn’t understand it back then, but now I thought I did. If my girlfriend would kiss me in such superficial way...

I decided to dismiss that train of thoughts, especially when I saw Cho Chang waving at me from the Ravenclaw House Table again. Did she never get tired of annoying me?

I still don’t get why she is trying to catch my attention all the time. Why didn’t she just get it that I was not interested in her any more; is that so hard to understand? I shivered when I thought of the time she had left me at Madam Puddifoot’s on Valentine’s Day last year; it was etched in my memory as a highly painful and most embarrassing moment. I could still see the look on Davies’s face when Cho had started shouting at me.

My pondering was cut off abruptly when someone hit me hard on the back of my head.

“Ouch! What did you do that for?” I snapped, jerking my head around in annoyance, while rubbing the painful spot on my head. Seamus, who had been sitting next to me, was staring dreamily at someone standing near the entrance; his hand was still hovering in mid-air.

Confused I looked at the entrance to the Great Hall and soon found the source of Seamus’ odd behaviour: no-one less but Fleur Delacour was standing in the doorway. It was only now that I noticed most of the other boys were goggling open-mouthed at her as well, even though I could not quite understand why. Yes, she was pretty, but still...

Fleur was staring happily around the Hall, acting as if she didn’t notice all the attention she was getting while Dumbledore was talking to her escorting her towards the Staff table.

I wondered vaguely why she was here to begin with, when it hit me that she probably was the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Great, everyone would surely manage to pay attention to the lessons if she was teaching.

Ron was making odd sounds in the back of his throat. Hermione kept muttering ‘Honestly!’ under her breath, prodding him irately in the ribs in an attempt to catch his attention. But even if she would have been standing stark-naked in the middle of Hall, dancing the Polka, I doubted that he would have noticed.

Why hadn’t Fleur been at the Sorting Ceremony yesterday, anyway?

“Wow,” Ron breathed at last, when Fleur had finally seated herself at the Staff table. I frowned but said nothing. This had not been the first time he had seen Fleur, so why, in the name of Heaven, did he look like he was stoned as a shrimp from the moment he laid his eyes on her? The same question could be asked for all the other completely paralysed blokes as well though. Maybe her Veela powers had strengthened somehow since the last time they had seen her.

“Maybe next time she walks in we should keep a tank ready to catch your drool?” Hermione asked with an extreme amount of venom in her words.

Ron’s ears went red. He and Hermione both remained completely silent during breakfast and even when we went to the dungeons to attend our first lesson that term, they still didn’t talk, which didn’t really bother me. It struck me that Hermione still hadn’t asked me anything about the Sorting, or rather the talk I had given afterwards, but I guessed she was just waiting for the right opportunity.

I sat down at the back of the classroom in my usual spot; Hermione went to sit in the front. Ron wasn’t there, and even though I was still quite angry with him I considered asking Hermione about this, when Snape strode into the room.

Hurriedly I took out some parchment, my books and a quill and pretended to be reading attentively, in case Snape would try to find another way to dock House points from Gryffindor on the pretext that I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson closely enough. He hadn’t been too happy when he had first realised he still needed to teach me for another two years (probably he hadn’t expected I would actually pass my O.W.L.’s for Potions), so I knew he would like to punish me dearly for making it into his N.E.W.T. classes.

“Mr Potter,” I looked up from my books, not exactly surprised to see once again, a dangerously smirking Snape standing at the front of the class, watching me with that trademark look of pure loathing in his eyes, “let’s see if you had time to study Potions during the summer holidays, shall we?”

Right. Of course, that greasy git would ask me a question to open his bloody lesson. How stupid of me not to think of that.

“Can you tell me why toads are such an important ingredient the Madness Mixture?”

A few rows in front of me Hermione was practically jumping up and down with an outstretched arm to make it clear that she knew the answer. But unfortunately for her, I knew it too.

“A toad secretes some sort of liquid, known to wizard-kind as ‘toadsmilk’. It causes hallucinations, and, when administered in great doses, instant insanity.”

Ha! When you’ve got nothing to do for two whole months schoolbooks might look enticing sometimes.

Hermione looked somewhat disappointed.

“Well, Potter. As you seem to have studied the subject matter so well, I guess I’ll have to ask you a more difficult question to test your knowledge, right?”

You’re getting predictable, Snape.

Snape stared through the dungeon for a moment as if trying to think of a question, worthy of being my downfall.

Damn. He’d probably ask something utterly difficult and it wasn’t like I had learned the entire Magical Drafts and Potion by heart.

The sneer playing on Snape’s lips became more pronounced. He seemed to have found a suitable question.

“Maybe you can tell me why toadsmilk is not to be used lightly in Potions?”

I frowned slightly, looking down at my notes. Even Hermione hadn’t put up her hand this time.

Damnit!

I knew exactly where in the book I had read it… I could still see the page in front of me as if burned on my retina. There had been more than half a page about toadsmilk, but only one or two sentences about the dangers... My mind was racing.

“Toadsmilk is a really dangerous ingredient, because uh...” A quick grin crossed my lips when I remembered the answer: “Toadsmilk is a really dangerous ingredient because it has got the same effects as a remedy against some sort of digitalis, which strengthens the contraction of the heart muscle and simultaneously slows down the heartbeat. This can lead to a cardiac arrest if not administered in a proper dose.”

The look on Snape’s face was just to die for. But unfortunately for me he recovered quickly from his shock.

“It seems like Mr Potter has finally found a way to read a book. Or maybe...” He breathed deeply through his nose, “five points from Gryffindor, Potter. I don’t know how you did it, but somehow you managed to converse with Granger without words so she could tell you the answer.”

My mouth dropped open in utter disbelief. Draco Malfoy laughed openly, as did a few of the other Slytherins.

“I did not!” I shouted. Most of the other students were muttering in assent. “Hermione didn’t even know the answer!”

Snape glowered at me.

“Silence Potter! And another twenty points from Gryffindor for your insolence. You will serve detention tomorrow at five o’clock in my office!”

“What?!” I exclaimed.

I must say I was more than a little surprised to find Seamus yelling at Snape as well: “But sir, you can’t do that! We’ve got Quidditch practice tomorrow! Harry is our Captain! You can’t possibly give him detention for answering correctly!”

I watched Snape tower over Seamus menacingly.

“Is that so, Mr Finnigan?” He asked in a dangerously low voice, “Watch me...”

He strode back towards the front of the classroom; I must say he looked downright frightening.

“Twenty points from Gryffindor because Finnigan found it necessary to interfere, and if anyone else dares to contradict me in any way during this lesson it will be fifty. Now get to work, instructions are on the blackboard!”

He waved his wand dismissively at the blackboard and the instructions appeared.

I spent the rest of the lesson thinking of all possible ways to feed Snape Toadsmilk without him noticing it and without making it look like murder.

“Thanks for supporting me in front of Snape, mate,” I said stopping Seamus before walking out at the end of the class. “I know it didn’t really help but still...”

“Don’t think I did that for you,” he snapped, “I just don’t want us miss a Quidditch practice because you got yourself into trouble again!”

He walked away angrily while I just stared at him in disbelief.

“Seems like your little Gryffindor friends don’t really like the fact that their hero turned out to be a Snake, huh?” Malfoy jeered, watching me with crossed arms. He was leaning nonchalantly against a wall, and his usual body-guards were nowhere to be seen. Snape had already left the Dungeon as well. “I can’t really see why, but still I think that bloody Sorting Hat really has lost its marbles if it wanted to put you in Slytherin House. You’d never be worthy of that.”

“Shut it, Malfoy. As if I ever wanted to be placed in a House as disgraceful as yours.”

He walked over to me, his grey eyes filled with hatred.

“Tut-tut. After all these years you still don’t realise what’s the best for you; all those Muggles and Mudbloods really have fogged your mind. Not that I didn’t know that already,” He wetted his lips slowly with his tongue, his expression dangerous, “you’re going to regret this someday, Potter. The Dark Lord will make you pay eventually. I will make you pay.”

And with that he too left the Dungeon.

-------------

I hope you all enjoyed reading it :) Please review.

Happy holidays!

Love,

Deborah

Chapter 5: The Nightmare
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ETA 05/11/23 - I did not abandon this story. This is a WIP (work in progress) and to see how the writing is going, please visit http://www.livejournal.com/community/qotd_writes/ for more information. Thank you.

I'm sooooooooooo sorry for the long wait. Really. I hate myself. This chapter is not beta-ed, sorry for that too but my beta doesn't seem to send the chapter back so I lost my patience and now I post it here unbeta-ed.

Thank you all for the encouraging reviews!

Enjoy...


CHAPTER FIVE - THE NIGHTMARE

I am awake under this blanket of fear, and I must say, none of the people I see belong here, now everyone's asleep; I am awake and I am dreaming, I believe it is time for a rude awaking. Hold on to your dreams, because your nightmares might seem like they're your reality. Hold on to your dreams. I'm falling in my dream, I finally hit the ground. I hit the ground, because I, I can't keep my mind from going into dark places. (- Papa Roach)

The rest of the day passed without too many incidents. Snape's detention turned out to be one of his endless attempts to torture me, this time by making me skin, clean and pickle frogs with my bare hands after which I needed to put them in glass jars so he could show them off in his office later. By the end of the detention my hands had an unhealthy looking reddish colour and after a few hours they even started itching like mad. When I went to the library to do some research the next day about that specific sort of frogs (the colour of my hands still hadn't faded away), I came to the conclusion they were poisonous. It seemed like Snape had accidentally overlooked this little detail.

It appeared that Ron had failed his O.W.L. for Potions and that was why he hadn't attended the lesson, in fact he wouldn't need to attend a single class of Potions ever again. Somehow Hermione was really agitated with this as it had nipped Ron's idea of becoming an Auror in the bud, and even though he didn't need to study the subject anymore, she insisted that he revised all the lessons afterwards.

To my surprise only Ron, Seamus and some other die-hard Gryffindors were bothered with the fact that I was partly a Slytherin, the others had recovered from their shock quite well. But of course the first group stuck to ignoring me and as I was really accustomed with this method because Uncle Vernon used it all the time, I found that I didn't really care.

I planned the Quidditch Try-outs the first Friday of September and in the end the loss of one practice didn't really seem to matter as we hardly had any players left to practice with anyway: we only had two Chasers, Ginny Weasley and Katie Bell; two extremely bad Beaters, Jack Sloper and Andrew Kirke; and a Keeper, Ron. And then of course me being the Seeker.

Okay, so basically we had all players except for one Chaser but still... I had especially wanted a decent replacement for both Kirke and Sloper because they were just awful (even Ron looked a magnificent Keeper compared to them, and he wasn't at all good if you put in side by side to Wood), but unfortunately for me the ones who showed up at the day of the Try-outs were even worse.

I found one okay Chasers though, namely Marc McFadden, a fifth year. He wasn't a real natural but once he'd had some practice he would do just fine according to me. At least I couldn't deny he was enthusiastic.

A bit too enthusiastic maybe...

I considered myself extremely lucky to have Ginny in the team, because she was a really good Chaser and Ron wasn't that bad either. What surprised me most though, was that, on the Pitch, Ron did seem to respect me. It looked as if everything happening inside the castle didn't affect him on the field.

Nonetheless I became conscious of the fact that was only semblance when I overheard him talking to Andrew behind my back in the Changing Rooms after our first practice together.

Most of the Gryffindors had soon noticed I didn't exactly get along with Ron or Hermione any longer, and to my astonishment there was a pretty big number of volunteers to befriend with me. It was somewhat irritating though: now I had almost constantly a herd of students following me everywhere and trying to talk to me in corridors while I actually wanted to be left alone. Yesterday only there'd been about six or seven girls swirling around me whole the time in an effort to get my attention. I had never actually been conscious there were that many girls around in Hogwarts and somehow this notion didn't actually please me, at all.

At the moment I was sitting in the library. When I had first come to sit here, the table had been more or less empty. Now, however, there was a group of giggling students sitting at the right side of me, Colin and Dennis sitting on the left, and Hermione and Ron opposite me. I didn't know whether that was intentional or not, but it irritated me immensely anyway. Ron looked rather bad-tempered too.

I ignored them like I had done during the two previous weeks.

I turned my attention to the book in front of me. Dark Arts... I still don't get how Dumbledore managed to persuade Snape into writing me a note to be allowed to take every single book on Dark Arts, Potions, Defence, Charms and Transfiguration from the Restricted Section during the next two years.

Yesterday I had attended my first 'Occlumency' lesson with Snape, and I needed to admit they weren't what they used to be anymore. In stead of being forced to study Occlumency and Leglimency this year, Dumbledore had had the great idea to make me study seriously advanced Defence and even some real Dark Arts.

According to me Snape was a bit too pleased with this assignment, because he got to hex me whole time while I needed to throw off his jinxes.

But I knew what this really meant though, Dumbledore was actually trying to cram me with knowledge I would need during the Great Battle against Voldemort. Eventually Snape would even need to teach me how to kill...

A shiver ran down my spine as I thought about it. Snape teaching me Unforgivables was not a good thing; in fact anyone teaching me how to murder someone was inconceivable. And still it was inevitable since I would be the one to-

I felt as though I couldn't at all finish that sentence, it would make it all sound too real for my own liking. I decided to just start reading the first chapter of the book even though I knew beforehand I wouldn't be able to focus me on the topic in the first place.

Another old form of black magic is necromancy (etymology: derived from the Greek word nekros, which means 'corpse', and mancy, which means 'prophecy'), by which a dark sorcerer tries to conjure up spirits from deceased people to use them for divination. Because the dead aren't bound to the earthy level any longer, they are assumed to have access to information on present, past and future which is ought impossible for most of the living.
Some of the practitioners even tried to raise corpses by using certain ancient incantations. In most of the cases the sorcerer in question drew symbols, circles and charms on the ground around himself (or around the grave) to protect him from the evil he was going to be exposed to.
(1)

Great, just what I needed a way to raise the dead and use them for Divination... I thought bitterly.

Madame Prince was clicking disapprovingly with her tongue. She had been standing right behind me ever since I had given her Professor Snape's note a couple of hours ago. She had said it was a fake in the beginning and she had even threatened to go to the Headmaster and show him the note, but when I didn't object she had just given me the permission to go to the Restricted Section, muttering madly about irresponsible professors.

As if I would ever be thick enough to fake a note written by Snape, of all people...

It still was highly irritating to have her breathing down your neck though. Why couldn't she just leave me alone?

The following pages of the book were filled with detailed descriptions of the ritual, together with some illustrations. One particular one caught my attention: there were two rather old men standing in a magical circle on a cemetery, holding a torch; right outside the circle a spirit was standing next to its grave, apparently talking to them. Both of the men had a look of utmost concentration on their faces.

Edward Kelly in the act of invoking the spirit of a deceased person on a cemetery in Lancashire, England .(2)

I needed to say I was quite impressed. At least this stated it was possible to conjure up spirits so maybe there would also be a way to actually bring dead people to life too... However, I quickly dismissed the thought when I had the mental image of a rotting corpse coming out of its grave.

Turning the page, I came to the conclusion that that indeed seemed to be possible. There was about one page and a half of plain text on the topic and underneath that there was another illustration. This time it did show a solid looking corpse.

Obviously I didn't know much about the decaying process of a human being but I did know that this one was seriously advanced already. The 'person' (vaguely identifiable as a male) had an unnatural white skin, at certain places there were brownish spots and in his chest there was some sort of hole in which you could see even more rotting parts of organs. The corpse had no hair left, and the mouth was just a gaping hole in its face without any recognizable lips. And then there were the eye sockets, they were just... Yuck.

With some difficulty I swallowed, quite nauseated by the sight. Why were wizard pictures always that 'lifelike' in the first place?

I rested my head on my arm, still revolted by the sight and with the image flashing in front of my view repeatedly, as I closed the book and took another one from the pile in front of me, The Book of Black and Ceremonial Magic.

Talking about subtle titles... I rolled my eyes.

The book seemed very old, the parchment was faded, and there were a lot of stains I would rather not bring home at the moment. The front was fairly beautiful though. It was bound in black leather and the silver letters gleamed in the sunlight.

I thumbed through the pages, not really knowing were I was looking for and still bothered with the fact that I was being watched.

"Hiya Harry,"

Can't they just leave me alone for one fucking minute? I thought bitterly. I turned around and saw Neville had already seated himself next to me.

"Hello Neville," I said, trying to sound as cheerful as I could possibly muster at the present time; it wasn't Neville's fault everyone's presence freaked me out, in fact Neville's presence was better than for instance Cho's (which wasn't too odd considering she was one of the persons I'd rather not have near me any longer, but unfortunately for me kept coming up to me with ideas to study together or do other idiot things like that). "Had a nice day?"

He beamed. "Yes, I actually managed to vanish a mouse while practicing with Professor McGonagall this afternoon."

Eh. Weren't we supposed to be able to vanish mice at the end of last year? I decided it would be better not so say anything about it.

"I still need to make my essay for Herbology though, have you finished it already?" Neville asked while he started taking books out of his bag.

"Eh... I think I have finished it already, yes. But-"

I hurriedly closed the book on the table in front of me to avoid awkward questions. Too late though...

"Hey, Harry. What kind of book is that?" He took the book I had been reading, opened it and instantly paled.

"It's nothing really... I need to-"

"Those are Dark Arts!" he exclaimed.

"Hush. Neville, please." I looked around anxiously to see whether anyone had heard what Neville had just shouted. Judging by the look on Ron's face he had heard it. "It's nothing, really, I needed them for another essay. It's not important."

Madame Prince looked at me sternly. She was no longer standing behind me, instead she was dusting off the books on a nearby shelve.

I shut the book in which Neville had been looking; he looked at me in concern. Damn. I don't think I can talk myself out of this one.

"Look, Neville. I can't talk about it here," I looked around the table once more, "But this is really important for me and I'm not allowed to tell anyone about it. I'm really sorry."

Judging by the way he was eying me, he still wasn't completely reassured. I was about to scream in frustration, but tried to calm myself down. This whole situation is not Neville's fault, I kept repeating. There no need to be angry with him. Just calm down and try to explain him about-

About what? Another part of my mind suddenly retorted, The Prophecy? Not bloody likely...
 
No, I'll just tell him I've got a special assignment. He doesn't exactly need to know about the precise circumstances, right? Maybe I can just-

Neville looked now positively puzzled as he saw me in a silent struggle with myself.

"Eh Harry, are you sure you are fine?"

I smiled weakly in response, feeling like running away from this conversation at the very moment. My brains were racing in an attempt to find an excuse to get away here as soon as possible, before I said anything stupid, but I couldn't think of anything.

"No Neville, actually I'm not fine," I answered silently instead, still looking at him, "And no, it's got nothing to do with you or these books or this fucking school," I sighed heavily, "I just want to be left alone for one minute. Is that really too much I ask?"

My lips were barely moving as I said this but still my tone became louder with every word I spoke. The people around me were giving me odd looks.

I got up, hastily grabbed my books and left the library at top speed.

***


I inhaled deeply before I mounted my broom and kicked off again. It was already dusk and I was glad I finally was on the Pitch alone. The others had left quite some time ago but as I didn't exactly feel like going to that crowded Common Room just yet, I thought I would do better if I flew another couple of rounds before leaving as well.

I soared around in full speed, forgetting everything for a moment. Flying was just amazing, and at certain points you just didn't remember you were actually flying a broomstick. It felt more like floating on air.

Only when that cold wind blew through your hair, you really felt you were alive.

I missed this so much while I was at the Dursleys .

Closing my eyes, I slowed down a bit, trying to enjoy the peace and silence I hadn't experienced anymore ever since I had come to Hogwarts almost three weeks ago. Slowly I saw the sun sink deeper down behind the mountains, dropping long, out-stretched shadows over the Pitch and enfolding the Hogwarts grounds in beautiful shades of orange and red. I remained outside until it got too dark to see things properly, and I shivered when I hit the ground again. It probably would take awhile before I would be able to be alone on the Pitch again, I realised.

Reluctantly I walked back towards the castle, not yet willing to return to that noisy Common Room, and just when I was about to enter I saw a lonely figure wandering around on the other side of the grounds, near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Quite curious I turned around and approached it cautiously, wondering who would be crazy enough to go for a walk at this hour.

I once again cursed my glasses because I was unable to see who it was thanks to them. The evening mist hovering lightly about half a meter above the ground had made my glasses go completely damp and blurry.

While I took them off to clean them, I squinted over to the person. Obviously he (or she) was doing something that needed full attention because he didn't notice me. The person seemed to have rather long blondish hair so I guessed it probably was a girl. I put my glasses back on. My view wasn't much better, but it was better anyway.

Silently, I moved closer and I started when I noticed two eerie, white eyes staring at me from the forest.

I yelled and fell backwards, and the person finally seemed to notice my presence.

Slowly the person turned around, and looked at me in mild surprise. I recognized her immediately.

"Luna," I sighed, getting up and trying to get my breath even.

"Harry," she answered. She turned around again and started stroking the animal in front of her, which turned out to be a Thestral.

I swallowed, still trying to recover from my shock. Gradually I walked over to the animal as well; it watched me as if it could see right through me.

"They're more beautiful at night," she said by way of explaining her own actions. She smiled when she looked at me.

"Yes, they are," I admitted, smiling a bit too.

The moonlight gave a really special shine at the animal, it seemed like the combination of white rays of moonlight and the dark, bat-like wings of the Thestral made them look creepier than ever. But nevertheless they had something peaceful around them, something comforting...

Another Thestral appeared, sniffing at my hand. I remember it vaguely as Tenebrus, Hagrid's favourite. Its breath felt really warm despite the fact that it was pretty cold outside.

"I visit them frequently," Luna said suddenly, "They make me feel better when I miss my mum."

"They do?" I asked, feeling as if she was able to read my mind.

"Thanks to my mother I can see them."

That was an odd way of putting things , I thought. I would rather don't see if them meant I would have my parents, Cedric, and my godfather.

"You really did love him, didn't you?" she asked in a dreamy sort of way.

"Yes," I whispered, "And I still do."

Luna smiled again when she looked at me.

"Of course you do, like I still love my mother; my father still loves her too, you know," She remained silent for a moment. "We should consider ourselves lucky they aren't really gone."

Luna had already told me the same thing last year and therefore I didn't need to ask her what she meant. I truly hoped the dead were still lingering around here somewhere, I really did.

Yet again I regretted the fact that I wasn't as credulous as Luna was.


It was already past midnight by the time I got back to the Tower, using a lot of short-cuts and being as quiet as I possibly could.

I hadn't had my Invisibility Cloak with me, of course (nor the Marauder's Map), so I needed to watch out very carefully. I was lucky Filch, the caretaker, was nowhere to be seen.

Benumbed with cold, I muttered the password and climbed through the portrait. The Fat Lady looked at me disapprovingly as I entered. I had never expected my chat with Luna would take so long. We had talked about so many things I hadn't spoken about since such a long time.

The Common Room was empty apart from one girl curled up on the ground against a couch, mouth partly open and one hand still lying on the couch; she was obviously fast asleep. Damn. Was it today she had asked me to meet up with her in the Common Room to explain her something about Defence Against the Dark Arts?

"Parvati," I prodded her side softly, not really wanting to wake her now she was sleeping so soundly. She looked really beautiful, lying on the ground like that; her black hair was draped over the couch and her tanned skin looked flawless in the soft moonlight.

I seated myself on the couch above her, because I knew that if I eventually managed to wake her she would want an explanation for me being late. I was sorry I had made her wait here for such a long time. I should have returned earlier to the Tower in the first place, but well...

I sighed, trying to prod her awake again.

"Parvati, wake up," Parvati's eyes fluttered open. She blinked a few times, before she seemed to become aware of her surroundings. She turned around quickly when she saw my face hovering above her.

"Oh Harry, sorry. I must have fallen asleep while waiting. You didn't return and-"

"Shhh," I whispered, "It's my fault. I was late. I was flying outside after the Quidditch Training and I lost track of time, sorry," She looked rather drowsy and I was sorry I had awoken her already. "But that's no excuse for making you wait, of course," I went on, "I promise I will put it right."

She looked around, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes and spread her arms widely.

"I think you'd do better to go to bed," I remarked, "I really am sorry for making you sleep on the ground."

"It's OK, Harry, really it is. It's my fault too, I shouldn't have asked you to help me with Defence while you had another appointment today. But maybe we could move it to another date. Maybe some day you do have time."

"Yes, of course," I answered immediately, "But can we discuss a date tomorrow because I'm really tired now and we both need to get up early for classes tomorrow."

I really was about to fall over with fatigue, after all the Quidditch Practice had been quite heavy.

Parvati yawned, "Sure," she said, "I'll see you tomorrow then?"

I nodded.

"Goodnight."

"'Night."

I silently ascended the stairs, attempting not to wake any of the other Gryffindors. When I finally I got into bed, I fell asleep in no time, feeling like this day had lasted way too long.


A couple of lamps spread a vague and eerie light in the dark room I was standing in. It didn't seem to have any windows.

The walls were free from decoration except for a slightly faded portrait of a man and a woman; both of them were wearing long black cloaks and the malicious sneer on their faces made my flesh creep.

I was standing behind to a chair, covered with claret velvet. My long white fingers grasped the back rest firmly.

Apparently I was waiting for something.

On my right a huge snake was rolled up on a rug, appearing to be fast asleep.

I checked the grandfather clock on the other side of the room, and made a disapproving sound when a dark haired woman entered the room; she was dressed all in black, and her eyes were heavily make-upped with eyeliner.

"You're late," I said. My voice sounded different, it was so cold and cruel it set my teeth on edge.

The words reverberated against the brick walls of the dungeon.

"I'm so sorry, my Lord," The woman stammered, bowing down deeply in front of me. She cringed to my feet, before kissing the hem of my robes respectfully.

"Get up," I snapped.

She backed away and looked at me with lowered head.

"How did it go?"

"Everything went as planned," she said, still bowing. "You are a genius, Master."

I laughed curtly. Of course I knew that already.

"What are your instructions for me, my Lord?" she asked.

"I've got an important task for you, Bellatrix," I informed her, "And I do not wish to be disappointed this time."

Apart from fear some smugness could be read on her face.

"Of course not, my Lord. You know I've been always loyal to You, I would never even dare to object Your orders."

I smirked evilly.

"I realise that, Bellatrix," I said, "You are the only one whose faith never wavered at all."

A man standing in one corner of the room, who had been standing still ever since the woman at entered, made a little sound at this comment.

"No, Wormtail," I said, addressing the man, "The only reason you are being loyal towards me is because you've got nowhere else to got. A wizard who should have died fifteen years ago can't take go back to the wizarding society any more."

"I've always been devoted to You, my Lord. Always. My faith never-" he began bravely.

"Silence," I sneered, "The only reason you are still alive is because I haven got hardly any other Death Eaters to replace you."

Wormtail's eyes widened in fear.

"But, my Lord," he stuttered.

My malicious laugh echoed trough the dungeon when I took my wand and tortured him for a when seconds; that should be enough to keep him silent for awhile. I addressed myself to Bellatrix again.

"You will pay your sister a little visit," I dug my nails deeper in the velvety material of the chair in front of me while saying this, feeling the spite rising in my stomach.

"Narcissa?" she asked in surprise.

"Yes," I answered, "Without her son to protect her, it will be easy to put her under the Imperius Curse."

"Of course, my Lord," she obeyed, "But why?"

Deep inside I, Harry, knew this was not okay and I tried to struggle against Voldemort's will to keep talking to the woman in front of me, to keep moving like Him, to keep laughing his malicious laugh. I tried to reach my wand ("Voldemort's wand," I corrected), in an hopeless attempt to stop Voldemort taking over my body. Hold on, I said to myself as conclusion drew over me, this is not my body. I am taking over the Dark Lord's body.

"My Lord, are you all right?" The distant voice of Bellatrix couldn't quite reach me ears, as a terrible headache hampered me from seeing anything; I couldn't move. Voldemort was everywhere. I could feel every fibre of my own body screaming in pain, begging for release. The red, gleaming eyes of the person who had been haunting my nightmares over so many years doomed up in front of me.

I screamed.

Voldemort folded his hands, while a leer crossed his lips.

"I think, my dear Bellatrix. We have a little visitor amongst our midst," he posed for a moment, "Isn't it, Mr. Potter?"


"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

I woke up with a start; my heart was beating really fast and my breaths were short and edgy.

"Harry, are you okay?"

Ron's head was visible through a gasp in the curtains, he looked pale and fearful. I could hear a lot of noise in the room; obviously I had woken up the others in the dorm as well.

"It's OK, Ron," I breathed, trying to calm myself down.

"What is it?"

Seamus was standing next to my bed as well; he tried to rub the sleep out of his eyes.

"Someone's dying?" he asked drowsily.

"No, everything is just fine. Go back to sleep. It was only a nightmare," I assured them.

Ron cast me a knowing look, and I couldn't help but nod. Ron swallowed. Seamus stumbled towards his bed again, completely oblivious.

"What the fuck, Harry. Did you really need to wake me for one of your stupid nightmares?" he asked, obviously annoyed.

"Sorry," I whispered, but I didn't mean it all.

Ron sat down on the edge of my bed. All our arguments seemed to be forgotten, and for a moment everything between us looked perfectly normal. He closed the curtains, darkening my bed completely.

I groped my wand from the bedside table and lighted the tip.

"Who was it?" he whispered anxiously.

"Voldemort, of course." I answered. Ron flinched when he heard His name, but didn't make a comment about it, "He was talking to that Lestrange woman and Pettigrew."

"She the one who-"

I glared at him.

"Yes, indeed."

Ron cleared his throat nervously. "So eh... what did He do?"

I silenced for a moment, trying to recall what I had witnessed but the details seemed to seep away already.

"They were in a room. Voldemort had wanted to talk to Bellatrix about something... because she was his only faithful Death Eater who was left," I swallowed, "He said she needed to place Narcissa under Imperius now Malfoy wasn't there to protect her."

"Lucius?"

"No, Draco of course."

"Ah," Ron shifted nervously. "So what do you think, what is he up to?"

"Clearly he's trying to recruit more Death Eaters. Or at least that is what I would do if I were in his place."

Ron looked at me with wide eyes, in a way that obviously said: 'Don't say things like that!', before he nodded, fidgeting his hands. "But what has Malfoy got to do with that?"

"I don't know," I said agitated, "It doesn't make sense..."

"Did anything else happen?"

I wisely chose not to mention anything about the fact that I had actually been Voldemort. "Yes, there was something else," I said at last, grabbing my head with both of my hands, "Bellatrix said something about 'something that had went perfectly as planned', but they didn't give more details about it."

Ron made a face, "You don't think they... eh... killed anyone, or something like that, Harry?" he asked, obviously nervous.

"I don't know," I answered, "It is possible of course, but-"

I somehow had a bad feeling about it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

"Maybe it would be better if we just went to sleep now. It's going to be early tomorrow."

The real reason I said this was that I had just thought of something that I'd rather not discuss with Ron, or anyone else, at the moment. And with that I went to sleep again, dreamless this time but not necessarily less frightening.


(1) Source of information: The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter by Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek
(2)http://users.telenet.be/ImaginaryLight/stories/DY/edwardkelly.jpg; illustration from the book Astrology by Sibly by Ebenezer Sibly


A/N: I'm writing a new story for the Big Bang Baby Challenge btw, but I'm not allowed to post it yet. Anyone willing to beta a H/D anst novella, please e-mail me at icequeen4788@yahoo.co.uk
Thanks.
Deborah


http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com