~ Aristotle ~
Chapter 13 - Coiled Springs
They lay in wait, darkness enveloping them, thickening the silence they had long since lapsed into. Her silence was unnerving, but not as unnerving as how dark her body had become. He could vaguely make out the lines of her baggy, black as night sweatshirt, clinging to her stiff shoulders.
The fact that it was on inside out, was the only thing keeping her from looking all too serious.
Apparently, the Muggle rock band logo on the outside had been too "bright" for their mission, and upon Snape pointing this out to her, she had stripped it off, right in the middle of a full fledged Order meeting, telling the gasping members to sod off because her bra revealed nothing less than the bikini clad witches they all drooled over in Wizard Mating Weekly.
He shook his head, clearing the thought of a bikini clad Tonks from his mind, and resumed scanning the expanse of green grass below him.
Constant vigilance was needed, for the Dark Lord's patience had grown thin, and he had decided to take a more active role in exterminating Muggles.
Starting with the Irish President.
A shrewd Death Eater, familiar with Muggle politics, had alerted him of an easy way to do that.
They could simply arrange a World War.
Muggles were trigger happy. Every young witch and wizard understood that. So what better way to eliminate Muggles then to turn them against each other.
Besides, Magical Folk had ways of protecting themselves against Muggle warfare, and if the Muggles were busy killing each other then Voldemort would be free to pursue his war against the Ministry unhindered.
All that was needed was a catalyst.
And that was precisely how he and Tonks found themselves perched atop the roof of the Aras an Uachtarain, the Irish President's home, overlooking Dublin's Phoenix Park, searching for any sign of apparating Death Eaters.
There was to be a summit of world leaders hosted in the Aras an Uachtarain's State Reception Room the following day, and the Dark Lord had decided to attack Kenneth Bothan, the current Irish President, and his family.
And the Dark Lord's servants were hell bent on making it appear to be Great Britain's doing.
The shaky alliances between the two countries would be broken, and terrorist attacks would ensue upon Great Britain, the United States, Australia, and several other, yet to be specified countries.
The usual nations would be blamed with a little guidance from some magically enhanced, false, evidence, and the use of the Imperious curse would assure that the bombs would fly.
Even if the Magical World alerted Muggle leaders to this plot, and even if these leaders were to understand that it was a third party causing these attacks and not other nations, that knowledge would be limited to the leaders ears alone.
By Ministry decrees, Muggle leaders would be forbidden to inform their citizens of the magical world's existence, for fear of wide spread retaliation against the wizarding world.
In short, if the attacks began, there would be nothing they could do to assuage each nations collective fury.
The damnable Ministry of Magic would rather let nations kill each other than risk trusting Muggles with the knowledge that witches and wizards indeed existed, and there was nothing they could do about that.
The Orders only chance was stopping the chain of events before it began.
They had to stop the attack at all costs.
I know you hear me Potterrrrr...
The dream's had been getting increasingly lucid...Surreal...
The encompassing darkness was suffocating, pressing down on him from all sides as he searched, for what he knew not, yet he peered into it, wishing for his wand...
Only wands held no sway in the world of nightmares, only force of mind, and his was becoming the weaker as the hypnotic, serpent like voice grew louder, pressing in around him from all sides...
Young fool, do you not realizzzze the power I could givvvvve you? The power you possesssssss...
Pain invaded his mind like shards of shrapnel, forcefully flung, his barriers weakening...
I would nevvver keep anything from you Harrrrry... You could be like a sssson to me, part of our family...
You don't even know what family is, he thought angrily, dots swimming across his blackened vision. The pressure was increasing...
He kept thingssss from you didn't he Harrrry? Kept thingsssss you sssssshould have known.. Thingsssss affecting thossse you lovvvve, thingssssss from birth...
Things? Nothing was making sense anymore...Pain was all he felt. Pain flung against a wall... A large, dark, brick wall, towering above him in the darkness... What was that doing here...
No, I would never lie to you Harrrrry. Not to one posssessssing power ssssuch as myssssself. You and I are different than thosssse other foolssss, running in the minisssstry, hiding your propheccccccy, my propheccccy, until it took all thosssse you loved away...
Prophecy... He racked his mind, searching for meaning to grasp onto the word. He knew it... Something about it was important...
Yesssss, jusssst sssssshare witttth me. Join me, I sssssshall ssseeee to it that none you love are everrrr hurrrrrrt again. I would neverrrrrr hurrrt my own ssssson... One to sssssucccceed me...
Son...Succeed? That sounded rather nice... He never had had any parents... Anyone to love him, teach him...
Yessss... I sssshall lovvvve you, teach you... I will sssshow you how to hurrrrt thosssse who ssssssseek to ussssse you Harrrrry...One sssssuch as yoursssssself dessssserves sssssuch power...
Green mist wafted through cracks in the wall, curling like tendrils, beckoning him forward... They only desired to be let in...
That wouldn't be too bad, he thought eagerly, grateful for a sign of life within the darkness of the hell about him. Some light to save him...
It continued beckoning, drifting over the top of the wall, suddenly visible to him where before it had seemed to stretch infinitively skyward... If there was a sky in this place to be found..
All you havvvve to do is ssssay yesss Harrrry... And everrrrything you ever wanted...Everrrrthing you everrrr drrrreamed sssshall be yourssss...
The greenish hues grew stronger, his disembodied feet carrying him foreward, towards the light...
Jussst sssay yesssss...Let me in...
His hand reached the mist as it thickened, coiling around his arms like snakes, slithering their way up towards his mind...
The word invoked something, yet he couldn't quite grasp it... The mist was swirling now, obscuring his vision in a hue of bright green, bordered with darkness as it sought entry, slithering towards his mind ever closer...
Within him the hypnotic cord of deceit snapped and he let out an unearthly wail.
"Get out of my head you snake!" He howled, thrusting his hands towards the crumbling wall in front of him. Shards of rubble tumbled down upon him, an angry hiss filled the air.
The thick green mist swirled, no longer cooling his skin, but bonding his disembodied legs. He threw himself forward, reaching for the wall still...
He hit it head first, colors dancing before his eyes, obscuring the crumbling bricks from him. Blindly, he braced his body against the unseen ground, pushing with all his strength as the mist squeezed ever tighter...
"I'd never be a son to you, you bastard! Love is a meaningless word to you, not something a deranged, power hungry murderer like you could ever understand!" He yelled into the dark night, the mist slowly evaporating from his body as images filled his head... Images of those he loved...
"For Sirius!" He screamed, using his new legs to prop the lightening wall up.
"For the Longbottoms!" His body was now shaking with exertion, blood and salty sweat dripping down his face, lingering upon his lips like salt water...
"For my parents!" He hollered, the mist disappearing as another hiss filled the air.
The damage Voldemort had done to his slumbering mind had been rectified. His barriers stood re-erected, a glimpse of sun filtering in through the dark night.
He woke with a start, chest heaving, ragged breaths racking his body, and he peered into the surprised blue eyes of none other than Ron Weasley, whom had just had Harry's wand vigorously shoved into his face.
"Calm down mate! It's me! It's me Harry!" Ron hollered, not releasing the firm grip he had on his shaking shoulders.
Harry did not relax at this proclamation. Instead he remained rigid as he took in his friend's face, analyzing him, the dim moonlight reflecting the steely glint of battle deep within his own eyes.
Harry flexed his fingers about his wand, not lowering it from it's steadfast position, where it was still aimed directly at his best friend's head.
"What's Hermione's favorite color?" He demanded maniacally, jabbing the wand deeper into Ron's already marked forehead.
Ron jerked away, a look of bewilderment crossing his face. "Harry wha..."
"Answer...the question." He practically shouted, backing away from Ron slowly, perching himself atop his pillow like a cornered animal.
His dorm mates stared at him with jaws agape, but he didn't care. Past experience with Death Eaters and Polyjuice Potion's had left him with something that ran far deeper than paranoia, and after a mental assault like the one he had just experienced he would take no chances.
"Red...Okay you happy now mate? Now. Put. The. Wand. Down."
He hesitated, racking his brain for the right answer. It took him several long, adrenaline fueled seconds, to realize he had no idea. He had merely picked a question that's answer would never be at the forefront of his mind.
If something was not at the forefront of his mind, Voldemort would not readily have access to it.
He lowered his wand, still glaring suspiciously at his friend. "Hermione's favorite color is red?" He finally asked.
"Yes..." Ron blurted.. "Now care to explain why you practically took my eye out there mate? You were screaming in your sleep so..."
"Voldemort." He replied stiffly, ignoring the way everyone cringed.
"Their getting worse than?" Ron asked concernedly. Over the summer Ron had grown accustomed to his nightly invasions, so it would come as no surprise to him that he was now screaming during them.
He nodded assent, throwing a harsh glare at those still staring. "Shows over, what are you all still looking at?"
Everyone stared in surprise.
"H-harry w-we..." Neville stuttered.
"Neville I'm not in the mood." He snapped. Such was his tone that his dorm mates huffed back to their beds without further comment.
"Harry..." Ron started hesitantly.
"Sod off." He hissed, untangling himself from the blankets, shoving between the curtains and past a confused Weasley.
His feet carried him to the bathroom, the mania he had felt at Voldemort's intrusion had carried over into the waking world, thus his temperament, and why he now found his eyes frantically peering into the impenetrable darkness of the dorm lavatory as he walked, seeking out hidden enemies that were not there. Logic told him this, but years of attack refuted it.
There would be nothing to accompany him here tonight, save paranoia. He would be completely, utterly, alone. The verbal assault he had greeted his dorm mates with assured him that peace at least.
He reached the sink, turning the knob to release the replenishing water from it's spout, and splashed his face with vigor. He dropped his head forward, his elbows supporting him on the cool counter's stone.
The familiar onslaught of pain hit him then, throbbing behind his temples. The pulsating pain of these nightly occurrences always hit him once the adrenaline rush receded.
He harbored no illusion of returning to his dorm to sleep tonight. Not when he was ascertained to either inadvertently intrude into Voldemort's mind, or to have Voldemort intentionally intrude into his.
Voldemort may not know the contents of the prophecy yet, but he had somehow found out that Harry knew, and the creature had been trying to break into his mind ever since. And night was when he was the most vulnerable.
Right now he felt too weak to deal with that. He wasn't about to collapse, like he often did during his Occlumency sessions with Dumbledore, but nevertheless, he was drained from the effort it had taken to shove Voldemort forcefully from his mind.
That was assuming that Voldemort had not let himself be shoved out. In the world of dreams it was awfully hard to tell who was doing the brunt of the work.
A lot had changed in the past month, and not all of it for the good. Sleep was intermittent, his coursework was draining, and the cooling weather just about matched his friends' demeanors towards him.
Especially Ron and Hermione. Every time they looked at him their faces seemed tauter than usual, their expressions strained, lips pursed, voices lowered, and frowns in place more frequently.
He was not delusional. They were too headstrong for him to shelter, and he had already seen firsthand the effects of trying to protect someone by withholding information.
He groaned, spitting out inhaled water into the sink. He thought of Ron, probably still fuming at his behavior. He had never explained the specifics of his dreams to him, and he knew that on some level it had cut his friend deeply. Hermione too...
But until he could bring himself to disclose the contents of the prophecy they would never understand why Voldemort was bombarding him so rigorously, and he wasn't sure if he'd ever be ready to torture them with that knowledge.
At a time their suffering relationships had bothered him. He had hoped the cuts he had made were not too deep to heal, but now he was uncertain.
The list of people fallen around him had grown each year, and he'd be damned to the deepest circle of hell if he lead his friends into danger again. He knew he could not prevent them from experiencing future battles, or playing a part in the upcoming war they all felt fast approaching, but they would not be risking their lives on his account.
He'd make damn sure of that, especially since Voldemort so oft taunted him with promises of sparing his friends if he would only join him.
He rose his head with new resolve, brushing his sopping wet, sweaty hair from his eyes. Perhaps a shower would be enough to vanquish the disconjointed images still lashing violently across his mind. Or, at the very least, it might help him brainstorm a bit.
He needed a way to piss Ron and Hermione off. Not that he wasn't doing it already, but he needed to really do it. It would have to be extreme, yet subtle, because if it were anything slightly off they would guess the rationale for his behavior. But if he struck the right nerves properly, their natural pride would be enough a motivator for them to keep their distance.
He needed to cut ties with them, for their own safety. He was a dangerous association to have, and it was time to stop being a coward, seeking solace in friendship and camaraderie, and time to start acting like the man he was supposed to be.
The one that was supposed to take out Voldemort, or be taken out himself.
It was with these thoughts in mind that he stormed quietly to the shower, a quiet tirade of thoughts storming through his mind as he mulled over ways to gain an advantage on Voldemort. It was his favorite past time as of late, and his 6 NEWT classes and constant studying showed the extent of his obsession when it came to finding a way to beat the creature. One thing he had been working on with his friends was animgai study. It had been slow going, but he felt confident he could pull it off. His father had been able to. He would be able to. And after he assured his parting of the ways with Ron and Hermione he'd have to do it alone.
It was time to turn the boy who lived, into the man who conquered.
The crisp wind spiraled earthwards into the clearing, flicking her unkempt locks as it passed around her.
Her presence cast no silhouette upon the dank soil, nor did the trees stretching upwards around her. The branches reached for unseen stars, and beyond them the sprawling expanse of darkness was revealed in the night sky.
She had experienced that darkness, it's very essence lay deep inside her. She knew that now...
She had cupped her hands tightly together, blowing sharply into them to elicit the sound of the wind. That was what Josh had called the deep howling sound this made, at least when he had first shown her and Sean in their youth how to perform the simple task.
She had been born without the ability to whistle. It was a little known fact, but the ability was a dominant trait amongst humans. Without it your lips and tongue could not form the necessary conformation, and that trait had been lost upon her family.
She remembered coming home from elementary classes one afternoon, tearful that all her classmates could whistle the class song, and her eldest brother had taken Sean and her outside to teach them how to do it in a different way.
She silently thanked him, wherever he was, for his instruction had given her the way to call Silverthorne to her. When she needed to escape, to let go, when Remus wasn't there, she could call Silverthorne, and he would take her upwards, to heights where none but the birds could find them, and on special nights, he would take her here.
Silverthorne had left her alone tonight. She needed solitude, and he had understood that. She did not understand their silent method of communication, but she was grateful for it.
As of late animals reared, screeched, and ran from her, and even the owls with the morning post were known to snap. It was nice to have at least one animal favoring her.
But she understood the reason for all of that now...
She now understood why only the creatures of the dead tolerated her presence.
Creatures like thestrals...
That morning a small, tawny owl had flopped onto the house table, several yellowing parchment pages falling from it's talons into her eggs. The owl had taken off before she could even offer it toast, snapping at her outstretched fingers instead.
The only clue as to who had sent the pages had been an inscription on the last page.
I am sorry...The Shopkeeper.
After reading all of it, she finally understood why he had told her, nearly two months prior, that she would not like anything that a book would have to say about Reaches.
She muttered a small illuminating charm, and a feeble light ignited at the end of her wand. She scrunched up her nose in irritation at this, sitting upon the damp soil near the pond's edge. She immersed her feet into the warm water.
She was rubbish at charms, and it had become an endless source of frustration for her as of late. She would not be able to keep up the façade of competency in many of her classes for much longer.
Of course there would be very few things that she would be good at...
She scowled, kicking her feet, sending ripples scattering into the shadows.
She cast her wand aside, letting the light fade as it fell to the ground behind her. She would not be needing it for awhile, and if she did, she would know where to find it.
She breathed the sweet, night air in deeply, letting it cool her mounting frustration. It was a feeling she did not care for. Helplessness did not suit her, and neither did brooding on it, but she had heard the truth about what she was from three photocopied sheets of paper, and not from Remus, and that was more than a little unsettling.
She was sick of everything. Sick of the lies. Sick of the probing questions from her dorm mates. Sick of the way that prat Potter and the Weasel analyzed her every move, Draco had been right about them... If it hadn't been for Dean she may have hexed them into oblivion by now...She was even sick of the way the water now lapped at her feet.
But all of that had been manageable.
All it had taken to throw those minor annoyances into perspective, was three yellowing parchment papers, which now lay crumpled and squeezed tightly within the confines of her fisted hands. .
The pain she had suppressed for so long had been an exercise in futility. She had been hiding from it, when she should have been embracing it.
For now she understood how to use that hate, and that pain...
Strong emotion was a Reach's most powerful ally...
She let the destroyed papers fall to the ground.
It wasn't hard to let it all come flooding back. The guilt, the pain, the anger... Everything that night had caused had lingered for so long, hot beneath the surface of her fragile psyche. It was amazing how much pain one could repress when asked to, and she had done just that.
Recalling it was turning out to be much easier than forgetting it.
The words of the fallen papers came back...
So long as their emotions are held in check their channeling tendencies are under control...
She had already learned on that night what her emotional limits were, now she would learn how far her anger could take her.
It's like a disease...
October's breeze brushed against her skin softly, her hair casually drifting with the breeze, curling forward, splaying out across her face...
A Witch and Wizard's magical ability is determined by the presence of a constant concentration of Magicka Somatic cells in their blood, however a Reach's differs...
The quality of the breeze began to change, no longer offering comfort as it began prickling her skin, as if each one of her cell's were sending a separate nerve impulse, informing her of their increasing discomfort, irritating her...
...their cell concentration fluctuates...
She smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear. Content to allow the rest of her strands to remain untethered.
Her breath came in cooler now, chilling her body more than the warm night warranted. She shivered involuntarily at the light howl echoing in the wind. It called out yet again, taunting her, calling attention to the dangers that accompanied her dark outing within the Forbidden Forest.
It was then that she felt it for the first time.
It was there, lingering like her anger, just beneath the surface, artfully evading her grasp as she reached for it...
She was unsure of what she sought, but as she relaxed her body more, she felt inexplicably as if there were more to the world around her...Like a static electricity prickling the air around her...
Forms of meditation oft bring new perspectives for those who allow themselves to feel nothing but the sensations of the physical world around them...
A light tingling sensation prickled along her fingertips, a grim smile crossing her unseen features as it began traversing it's way slowly up her arm, as if her nerves were awaking from a rather lengthy slumber...
She was feeling her surroundings now rather than visualizing them. It was as if she could feel the very air around her thickening. She wafted her tingling fingers testingly through the thickening substance about her, caught up in the invigorating feel it offered her, unthinking of what it could cost to feel beneath the surface of such things so freely...
What she felt, was the reason her kind was so feared.
For a Reach was neither witch nor wizard. They were a mutation sprung from humanity, their cells geared towards one purpose, and one purpose alone.
The ability to manipulate energy...
It was what allowed creatures like her to kill so easily.
She had never paid attention before, but it was there, pulsating like a beacon of light in the darkness around her. Her eyes flickered under their eyelids as the darkness took on a new, vibrant form, beckoning her to open her eyes and see the world as it truly was.
The tingling sensations grew stronger, the air taking on a hotter quality, every nerve in her body felt afire, burning with an intensity she had never before known.
Her head spun with exhilaration, her cells began multiplying swiftly, burning, yet feeding her...
A moment later loose strands of hair floated easily across the water, flitting from where she had collapsed upon the ground, narrowly missing a tumble into the pools glittering depths, her world once again, fading slowly into darkness...
She had overdrawn.
"Silenco bourderas dispora."
He tore his eyes from the unfriendly storm clouds with a jolt. If he hadn't been paying attention to Tonks before, he certainly was now.
"I'm really beginning to think..." Remus hissed as the sound barrier erupted around them, igniting the dim dawn light momentarily, "That the Andromeda constellation was glad to get rid of you and your utter disregard for protocol."
Her ash gray hair hung artfully in front of her face, obscuring her eyes for a moment, before she flipped it lightly, a gray eye peering over at him all too seriously beneath gray lids. It was remarkable how she could change her whole body color to match the roof shingles.
"Remus while I assure you that my mother appreciated the correlation between my departure from home, and her possessions' subsequent longevity, she never thought I had a lack for protocol."
He snorted. "Your right, it's Kingsley that you drive mad with that."
Tonks merely sniffed before redirecting her eyes to the expanse of ever brightening lawn before them, quietly humming the latest HobGoblins hit, drumming her fingers on the dark gray roof shingles.
It was all he could do not to give her a good hard shove to send her rolling off the roof for the unserious behavior. Besides, it wasn't like she'd get hurt, she was a witch after all, and he was pretty sure she'd bounce.
Yeah, pretty sure...
Just when he'd nearly justified that possible recourse for her nearly giving away their position to the early rising Muggle gardener mowing the lawn below, or even worse, to possible Death Eaters, she interrupted him.
"Your probably wondering Wolfy, why I did that."
Wolfy?. "Well the thought did cross my mind."
"Well since Kingsley and Spruner are due to replace us soon, since their late..." Remus didn't need any reminder about that. Spruner and Kingsley were late, and he had been getting increasingly tense each minute. What if something had happened?
Tonks voice drifted back. "...when they get here they may need a quiet landing area, particularly with that portly gardener outside. I'd hate to have to do a memory charm if he overheard us giving Spruner the night's report."
Almost as an afterthought she added, "Plus I was getting sick of being quiet. It's maddening."
Now he was not a violent man, but he felt his foot twitch slightly in a real urge to kick her.
"Alright Nymph..." He said pacifying. "Next time you decide to tempt fate, because you had an urge to chat, let me know. That way I can remind you how abysmally stupid it is to use a bright spell when were hiding. It's like putting a flashing beacon on a bear trap."
"Your too serious you know that?"
"And so were you up until about twenty seconds ago." He muttered reproachfully. "And since you've obviously missed the anaology..."
"What's the analogy Remus?" She asked placatingly, drumming her fingers and fraying his already frazzled nerves.
"The analogy, is that were the bear trap, and the bear, being the Death Eaters, are more likely to Avada Kevarda us to death if they know where we are because silly girls decide they can cast whatever spell they want whenever they please."
"And you'd prefer that my lump of a boss Kingsley lands loudly and wakes up Muggle Man, String Bean, and the Pixie?"
He groaned quietly. Somewhere, over the course of the night, she had taken to referring to the President of Ireland, his wife, and his nine year old daughter that way.
"Remind me again why you insist on referring to them so creatively?"
"Not personally referring to people your assigned to protect keeps you dis-attached. It dehumanizes them in a way." She stated simply.
"And what was wrong with their official titles?" He asked for the sake of argument.
"It's funner this way."
"Uh huh..." He said, dropping it as he went back to searching the sky for a sign of Kingsley or Spruner.
They were now 15 minutes late.
An idea struck him.
"Tonks, do me a favor. Apparate back to Spruner's office and see what's keeping him will you?"
"And leave you? Don't think so Wolfmeister."
"Wolfmeister?" He said aloud, mortified at what James and Sirius would think of that. "You know I think I preferred Wolfy."
Tonks flashed him a gray toothed grin that, like the rest of her body, matched the roof perfectly. But just as she opened her mouth to reply something flashed in his peripheral vision, freezing his blood cold.
"Don't move." He hissed hastily, the night's tension coming back. He had committed a cardinal error, and so had Tonks. They had gotten comfortable, and as a result, sloppy.
Gratitude for the sound barrier rushed forth and he clamped a steadying hand on her arm for emphasis, silently conveying the seriousness the surprise had claimed from his voice.
He felt her stiffen besides him, and he tightened his grip on his own wand, hoping feverently to see Kingsley and Spruner dipping, disillusioned, from the tempestuous clouds above.
Only there were more than two points blurring swiftly against the underside's of the heavy, dropping, rain clouds.
Far more than those needed to replace their simple lookout position.
There were more appearing than the eye could count in the dim light, and he felt Tonks slowly clenching her hand upon his wrist, squeezing to signal she saw movement below.
He strained his eyes as far to the side as humanly possible, naught to incline his head, and caught sight of three posh, heavily guarded, limousines arriving at the Aras an Uachtarain's front gates, metallic light glinting coldly off the steely iron bar's surface, reflecting bitterly the rays of sunlight that had snuck through the stormy clouds, traversing it's way to the ground, setting it's sights upon the oft damp terrain of Ireland.
He could only hope that sunlight would be the only thing spilled upon these ancient grounds this day, for the Death Eaters were arriving, and he had no doubt that preparations for their attack would soon begin.
He counted nearly a dozen. That were far too many to arrange a quiet attack on the President of Ireland though... His blood froze with the fear of something far worse...
Far worse than anything Snape had informed them of...
He dimly wondered if Snape was up there, fulfilling his obligations as a spy, before his mind, numbed with shock, began operating properly once again.
Startled, he lay there, hissing instructions for Tonks to apparate away, watching the brewing war above him, silently praying there was a way in Heaven for the Order to find every member within mere hours.
They were going to need them.
Harry re-emerged from his 4th shower that morning, where he had been trying to drown himself.
Avoiding Ron had not been easy, and about the only place he could successfully do that was in the shower. So he had remained there until he was positive that Ron's hunger would have driven him and the others down to breakfast.
Only instead of a note griping at him for his behavior that morning, he found one from Ron saying he'd meet him in the Great Hall, and would have aspirin waiting for the headache he was sure Harry must have.
Bloody hell... Why did his friends have to be so understanding?
Pain shot through his head like wildfire for a moment, and he gritted his teeth. Voldemort wasn't content to give up so easily this morning apparently, for he had experienced several such pain rushes. It wasn't the norm for the creature to try to break into his waking thoughts, but apparently there was some urgency driving the maniac to desperate measures today.
He bared the onslaught with grim determination, throwing up his barriers, envisioning the omnipresent, looming wall of the thickest, bricks imaginable...
The rush of pain receded. The onslaught had ended, for the time, yet his head remained reeling, dizzying him to undulating gesticulations, angering him at the effort it took to walk straight.
He felt off balance, and only the fury fueling his blood warmed him.
His fury had burned hotter each time he had been forced to fight for the privacy of his own mind. It wasn't fair...
He stormed into his dorm in time to see a slim figure bent over his nightstand, searching through his drawer, the sun's morning light catching on several rolls of parchment already spread out across his bed, and if he had thought he had been mad before, this took it to new heights.
Kaylens... He thought with a hiss. What the hell was she doing?
In three foul steps he was upon her, grasping her roughly about the wrists and spinning her to pin one arm awkwardly behind her back, the other thrashing hand pinned to his chest to quell her attack. He'd seen what she could do even when caught unaware, and shoved her against the nightstand, banging the backs of her knees against the edge callously to take out her legs.
She uttered nothing, her defiant eyes narrowed directly onto him, a furious look twisting across her tired looking features to hide the cringe of pain he saw. Her legs kicked out slightly but he shoved her harder against the edge, eliciting a small cry this time that left his boiling blood oddly regretful.
"What do you think you are doing?" He growled angrily, squinting in the morning light pouring in from the window besides them.
She stared at him, unnaturally calm for one taken off guard. "Ease off Potter." She stated simply.
"Not..." He shot out angrily, twisting her wrist for emphasis. "Until you explain why your going through my belongings."
"Are you truly that delusional or just really that dense?" She queried.
"Depends on who's asking the questions, which is not you seeing as I'm not the one trespass..."
"Dean borrowed one of my Muggle books." She stated angrily, tossing her head towards his dorm mates bed. "He told me it was up here and I was trying to find it."
"Oh?" He asked sarcastically. "And you expected an inanimate object to find it's way into my nightstand how?"
Realization flitted across her features, softening them for the briefest of moments, before her eyes narrowed onto him again. "In case you haven't noticed..." She muttered. "Your nightstands are not exactly labeled Potter, and since his bed is next to yours I would think it was obvious I had the wrong one."
Right then his paranoia kicked in, drowning out any conscious thought that had until then, reminded him how cruel it was to treat a person thus. There were enough Death Eaters roaming the halls in the guise of Slytherin uniforms as it was, and he wasn't about to trust someone known to regularly covert with the worst of them that easily.
"What were you really looking for?" He asked harshly. He twisted her wrist more but was met with a surprising amount of resistance.
She shoved back, her hand pressing hard against his chest as she nearly twisted away, but his grip tightened mercilessly. He glanced at her fingers whitening tips, his paranoia still overriding any thoughts of sympathy for her.
"Potter I made an honest mistake." She stated with unnatural calm that somehow got through to him. "Now let... go... of... me."
He bored into her eyes for a moment, searching for a hint of the dishonesty he felt sure to find. Only it was absent, replaced by something surprising...
Her normally defiant features seemed more relaxed, only in a tired sort of way. Darkened circles fell under her eyes artfully, rather than marringly, as if purposely put there to add to her rather than take away.
He took all this in within a moment, and his grip relaxed instinctually at her words. "What book?" He finally asked, rather weakly as she turned her wrist testingly within his loosened grip.
"Life, the Universe, and Me." She muttered, looking away, her anger at him still apparent.
"Sounds like Astronomy."
A fresh wave of pain wracked his head and his grip re-doubled as did his supsicions. "I'm not entirely sure I believe you."
She tilted her chin up, staring him squarely in the face. "Then I suppose we have more of a problem to deal with than just your over-inflated ego, that makes you think it's acceptable to know everything about everyone."
"Let me remind you, which one of us spends half their time looking at themselves in a mirror." He shot out, again noticing the darkened skin around her eyes. "You look like hell." He added as an afterthought, stunned by the difference in her appearance since he had last seen her, yet not truthfully meaning it.
She glared at him. "Well not all of us have mommy and daddy around to feed our egos all the time now do we?"
For the briefest of seconds he was unable to find a way to vocalize his fury at such an attack.
Finally he found it.
"I don't know..." He hissed, voice quivering with repressed rage so quietly that one could barely make it out. "What your really doing here... But I will find out. Until that time, I suggest you stay away, and enjoy playing with your Slytherin friend's while you have the chance."
"Is that a threat?" She said, attempting to yank her wrists free. He pulled her back towards him roughly.
"Considering that I think the sorting hat got you wrong, Slytherin, yes."
A malicious smirk spread across her face as she leaned into him, her body pressing firmly against his as she tilted her face up to nearly meet his own. He didn't move, refusing to acknowldege this as she spoke.
"You know Potter...I suspect your right. In fact..." Her grin faded into something more serious. "I suspect the sorting hat got a lot of people wrong this year."
They maintained their hostile stares for another long moment before an enraged voice interrupted their alternating tirades.
"Harry what the hell are you doing!"
He didn't even turn to acknowledge Dean as he stopped pouring all of his hate into the pressure around her wrists and released her, considering what she had just said. "Taking care of a problem." He muttered, staring at a point on the wall as she pushed past him.
He heard a muffled exchange behind him, and mulled over what she could have meant by that. More than one person had been sorted wrong...
"Did you hear a word I just said Harry?"
He snapped out of it in time to see Dean's contorted features appear next to him, and shrugged.
Dean's eyes widened at this. "Well, I'll ask you again, what the hell exactly did you think you were doing?"
"She was snooping through my stuff. What would you have done?" He replied unashamed, turning to put his belonging and unlabeled reports back into his drawer.
Dean stared at him as if flabbergasted, before shaking his head like a wet dog trying to dry off. "What is the matter with you? Do you realize how badly you could have hurt her Harry? I can't believe you actually were acting like that!"
A wave of guilt washed over him for a moment, but he shook it off, justifying his reaction verbally. "You can't be too careful these days Dean. Death Eaters are everywhere, and when you find one known to regularly consort with one going through your drawers..."
"Woah, Kally? You think Kally is a..."
"Death Eater." Harry supplied with a meaningful glance. "It's a possibility. You can't really tell anymore can you."
Dean looked as if he had just been dipped into 20 degree water, set on fire, then re-immersed in icy depths again.
"You really ought to think about things like that Dean, since your around her the most. I'd hate to see her turn out to be one and you her first victim."
Dean had dropped onto his bed, staring wide eyed at Harry for several minutes, simply observing as he put his things back.
"Look..." Dean started more gently. "I understand you've been through a lot Harry, but this paranoia of yours is getting ridiculous..."
"No." Snapped Harry. "This paranoia of mine is what has kept me alive. And don't you dare try and say you know what I've been through because you don't."
It took Dean a moment to regain his momentum. "Forget about it, I'll talk to her, but where have you been this morning?"
"Why does it matter?"
"It matters because Hermione and Ron were just taken away by Dumbledore and he wants to see you too, and because the Daily Prophet reported several attacks on Muggle families last night, and every family attacked had a student here at Hogwarts."
Harry's blood ran cold. Merlin no... Please not her parents, he thought silently. His first instinct was to bolt for the stairs and run to Dumbledore's office to check on Hermione, apologizing to Kaylens' for his behavior afterwards. He had taken out a lot of unnecessary aggression aimed at Voldemort out on her and Dean after all...
His third reaction was much more logical, and it was the one he showed to Dean as his thoughts from this morning came back to him.
He needed to cut ties with Ron and Hermione for their own protection...
"Send her my regards." He replied calmly, not even looking at Dean as he started leisurely making his bed. "But I was in the middle of something. I'll see her later."
Dean was, for the third time that morning left speechless. It took him a moment to get out the jolted word, "What?"
"I said." He replied with dead calm. "That I was in the middle of something."
Dean was suddenly standing, his arm yanking Harry around to face him forcefully. "The hell you are!"
Harry already had his wand pointed at Dean's midsection. "I do not want to use this on you." He replied in a low, dangerous voice. "I will be there when I am good and ready."
Dean backed off, staring at Harry as if he had never met him before. "Don't you understand?" He asked quietly, suddenly breaking into a yell. "Are you really that thick? Don't you get it? Hermione's parents are Muggles! Harry people are dying! The war has begun! Her parents could be..."
"Dead." Harry cut him off. "Yes, I'm well aware of the possibility."
Dean's entire body was shaking. "And don't you care? Your friend needs you..."
"Like I said, I'm busy."
"That's one way of looking at it. I simply call it prioritizing."
Dean left, sending him the most vivid glare he had ever received in his life.
The second he was gone Harry collapsed in a heap on his bed, pulling his knees to his chest as his body was racked with suppressed cries of anguish at what he had just done.
But it was the only way... They would never speak to him again after this...
It would keep them, who were still alive, safer in the long run...
It would spare them the pain of him dying if that was what came...
He quickly left the dorm, locking himself in one of the shower stalls as the sobs began to rack him. No one would find him here...
That asshole... She silently fumed, shoving her hair away from her face as she stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
That unbelievable asshole...
She drew in a shaky breath, still unnerved by that mornings events, and unearthed the Pepper Up Potion she had gotten from Madam Pomfrey earlier. It would do wonders the nurse had assured her.
Well lets hope so, she thought, glancing at her sore wrist where Potter had grabbed her. It was already starting to bruise, but what pissed her off the most was that she actually understood his fury. She had been going through his stuff, unintentionally, but she probably would have reacted just as angrily had she caught him in her room too.
"What an asshole." She stated aloud to the empty bathroom, as if to reassure herself that she should have every right to be angry with him for roughing her up, calling her a Slytherin, and then telling her she looked like hell.
Well he's right...You do... A small voice told her in the back of her mind.
Oh shut it, she thought, uncapping the remedy and downing it.
The effects were instantaneous. The lethargy she had been feeling since she had awoken from her unconscious stupor that morning, to find a rather frantic Silverthorne grunting at her in alarm, vanished. The nausea that had been so severe that she had skipped eating breakfast altogether in favor of a visit to Madam Pomfrey was significantly lessened as well, and her pale skin seemed to regain some of it's color.
This should have improved her mood, but it didn't. She still was angry at pigheaded Potter for treating her like he had, at Dumbledore for not explaining what he had meant by overdrawing, because that was precisely what she had done the night before, and at Remus...
Oh...Especially Remus... She thought angrily. If anyone should have been upfront and honest with her about everything it should have been him
She unearthed her compact from her back jean pocket, and was just about to flip it open and have a heated word with him, when she noticed it was already glowing.
She snapped it open.
"Remus you have got a lot of explaining to..."
Her voice died in her throat at the bloodied, mangled sight that met her.
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