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4. Which Witch is Dead?

:-:

1st September 1996

Despite the fact that Harry knew that the Second War had begun, he was unnerved to realise just how much had changed. The Welcoming Feast for the students was not as boisterous and lively as it had been in the five years Harry had been at the school. The professors, especially Dumbledore and Snape, and even most of the students were looking strained. Harry felt a bit deprived and bitter at that. He was going to have to kill Voldemort, after all. Didn't they all count on him? Now that they weren't convinced he was lying? Now that they didn't believe him to be Salazar Slytherin's heir? Now that he was ready to be their bloody hero?

Harry sighed moodily and vigorously attacked his dinner, showing no mercy for his mashed potatoes. Dumbledore's welcoming speech had been postponed until after the feast, and that concerned Harry. He didn't want to worry more than absolutely necessary, but he knew that whatever the Headmaster had to say had to be important. Harry just hoped that the information was indeed informative – not like the riddles he was used to hearing.

Over at the Slytherin table, Malfoy's cronies Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber were stuffing themselves with food faster than even Ron managed on his best days. The sight was somehow reassuring, as if everything was normal, which it wasn't. Only a quick glance at the Head table confirmed that the Headmaster wasn't his usual Tweedledumbledore self. Most disconcerting, that was, for even in the most serious of situations, Dumbledore had always managed to retain a small smile so far.

Now his lips were drawn into a tight frown.

Ron sat at Harry's left and Hermione at his right side. Both were more playing around with their food than actually eating – which was in Ron's case more than worrisome. They hadn't spoken a word, though it did not stand out drastically. Everyone was either quiet or talking in hushed voices. Even Seamus Finnigan, the over energetic Irish boy, was eating his dinner in silence for once.

After everyone had finished eating, the plates and goblets vanished and Dumbledore rose to his feet. Everyone's attention was on the Headmaster; the Hufflepuffs were worried, the Ravenclaws as well, the Gryffindors were tense and the Slytherins were either concealing their emotions very well or they just didn't care for what happened around them.

"May I have your attention now please?" asked Dumbledore, even though everybody was quiet and fixed on him already. "As you may have noticed, times are changing drastically – for the worse I'm afraid. Although it has been refused to be acknowledged time and time again by the Ministry, we are at war. Voldemort," he ignored the collective gasp and went on in a firm voice, "is back. It saddens me that Minister Fudge didn't deem it-"

"Fudge only did what had to be done!" cried a Slytherin student. "Everyone knows that Potter's a fruit cake!"

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled sadly as he glanced in Harry's general direction but didn't make eye contact. Harry was reminded of his last year, and was thankful for the headmaster's insight. He didn't want to feel Voldemort's anger surging through his body when he had enough of his own to keep him going.

"I will not take any points from Slytherin for that outburst, Mr. Pucey, for that is exactly what I'm trying to show you. Last year should have taught you all a lesson. In dark times we only have a chance when standing united. Minister Fudge, for his own very logical reasons, I'm sure, tried to split this school up. You all have your free minds and wills – this is no tyranny – but we have one common enemy. If we fall apart, Voldemort will win."

"You-Know-Who isn't even back!" yelled another Slytherin student. "Potter just wanted to be in the middle of attention again, I'm sure!" He threw a nasty glare in the direction of the Boy-Who-Lived and smirked.

"The Ministry confirmed You-Know-Who's return, though!" exclaimed a Ravenclaw girl loudly. "The Minister admitted he was wrong and-"

"Dumbledore blackmailed him!"

"That's nonsense! The Minster was wrong!"

"That's enough," interrupted the Headmaster firmly before the screaming match escalated. "Voldemort is indeed back and-"

"Prove it!"

Dumbledore's eyes took on a cold glint as he surveyed the whole hall, coming to a rest on the Slytherin table. He now very much looked like the only wizard Voldemort feared. Harry suppressed a shiver of dread.

"Voldemort is a murderer," were the Headmaster's only words.

Harry ignored the gasps and groans all around him as his mind zoomed in on the word 'murderer'. Did that mean what he feared it meant? Had he done it again? Had he killed someone? Like his parents? Like Cedric Diggory? Like-

Before Harry was able to finish his train of thought, red flashed before his eyes, and he closed his lids tightly. Pain hot like fire lanced through his head, and he suppressed a moan, digging his nails into his palms to distract himself. As Dumbledore spoke his next words, Harry was able to mouth it in synch.

"Professor Trelawney won't return to Hogwarts."

:-:

It was on his way to Gryffindor Tower, Ron and Hermione leading the first years, that Harry felt a hand on his shoulder, stopping him short in his tracks.

His mind had been raging, thoughts about Voldemort's newest victim and Ron and Hermione's quarrel twirling around in his mind and fighting for dominance – Trelawney won.

Harry had, mere instants before Dumbledore had said it aloud, remembered his vision. It had been the first of August when he had woken up, sweaty and panting, the pictures still fresh in his head, but now he had been able to discern the woman's identity. Had he seen it before the incident had happened, though, or had Harry merely watched some past action? Could he have prevented his teacher's death? Shouldn't he have written down his dream instantly? Shouldn't he have immediately written a report to Dumbledore even though the headmaster had forbidden him to send letters? Wasn't it his duty as the Golden Boy to rescue every soul?

A bitter feeling of something terribly akin to guilt blossomed in the pit of his stomach, spreading in every direction. Harry knew it was irrational but he couldn't do anything against it. It had been true, after all, Voldemort's vision. Maybe he could have saved Trelawney; he had had the information.

He had merely forgotten. How trivial.

"Harry?" penetrated Luna's airy voice his stupor and she pulled her hand back from his shoulder. "I've got something for you."

"Hmm?" he asked intelligently, turning around to face the younger girl.

She was digging in her pocket, then her pale eyes lit up as she pulled out a small test tube, filled with pieces of black fabric. Holding it out for Harry to take, Luna looked around to make sure no one saw them. Harry had lingered behind a bit, so they were alone.

"What's that?" asked Harry with a frown as he squinted at the tube, shaking it a bit and watching the fabric move. "Looks like part of a robe..."

"It is," Luna said in a hushed voice. "I got it when Crabbe and Goyle weren't looking." She sighed, shaking her head, which caused her butterbeer corks necklace to jangle. "Not very observant those two. Oh well, the better for me."

"Luna?" Harry gave her a pointed look. "Would you mind hurrying up a bit? I'm tired." He didn't really know what she was up to, and frankly, he wasn't sure he wanted to know why she was collecting cloth and then giving it to him.

"It's part of Malfoy's robe," Luna said in a conspiratorial whisper. "He had his hands on his hips before the blood appeared on his fingers."

Harry's eyes grew wide, then they snapped down to the tube in his hands. "I can see the blood," he said in a hushed tone, squinting his eyes.

"I used an Identifying Charm on it."

Harry's attention was back to Luna in a matter of milliseconds. Had she really been able to steal part of Malfoy's robe, with nobody noticing anything, cast a terribly advanced charm – even for Hermione's standards – and give it to Harry? She was a Ravenclaw and in the last year she had proved her bravery, but this was more than Harry would have thought she'd do on her own.

"What is it?" he asked quickly. "Was it an animal or anything? Or was it... human blood?" His voice sounded a bit hesitant at the end.

"Definitely human," said Luna. "And after I used a Personality Charm, I can even tell you whose."

"You're really giving Hermione a run for her money," said Harry with a shake of his head. He didn't want to know whose blood it was, not really, though he needed to know it anyway. Malfoy could have hurt – could have done something worse to – someone. "Whose blood is it, then?"

"Malfoy's own," was the surprising answer. Luna looked over her shoulder, then back at Harry. "I have to go now. I only wanted to tell you that whatever Malfoy's done, he didn't kill anyone. Good night. Good girls were required to be snuggled into bed and sound asleep at this time."

"Night," mumbled Harry, confused, watching with unseeing eyes as Luna turned around and vanished into the dark of the corridor.

What did that mean? Why had Malfoy his own blood on his robes? Why had he flipped out like that when they questioned him even though he hadn't done anything illegal – if that was true at all?

It was all very frustrating and overpowering for Harry. It was only his first day back at Hogwarts and yet he already had more riddles to solve than the whole of last year, at least it felt that way.

Harry shook his head and turned around, intent on finally heading to Gryffindor Tower to get a good night's rest. Tomorrow morning, before breakfast and Herbology – his first lesson according to his timetable - would be time enough to talk to Ron and Hermione. Harry just relaxed and rubbed his eyes, stuffing the test tube into his pocket when-

"Out after curfew the very first day, Potter?" asked a cold, familiar voice. "That will be five points from Gryffindor. The first day and already in the negative. Are you out for a new record?"

"Professor," said Harry, repressing a groan at the sight of his least favourite Potions master. He could have lived without seeing Snape any sooner than Tuesday, where he would have his first double Potions class. It was still a wonder to him how he'd managed to get into Snape's NEWTs class, which he needed to pass to become an Auror, but Harry didn't want to press his luck by asking stupid questions. "I was just on my way to the Tower."

Snape sneered down at him. "If you find yourself able to do so, please refrain from making detours in the future, Potter. It is dangerous enough as it is, or are you keen on ending like Trelawney?"

"I didn't mean to-" started Harry indignantly. It wasn't as if he was trying to get himself killed on purpose! Snape made it sound as if he was taking a walk and laughing at the teachers for worrying about him – even though one surely couldn't speak of 'worrying' in Snape's case.

"Of course not," drawled Snape, cutting the boy off mid-sentence. "Now come along, Potter. I don't have the whole night. And even if I had, I wouldn't waste my time with you." He grabbed Harry's shoulder in a firm grip and steered him around.

"But that's the wrong way to-"

"How observant of you, Potter," sneered Snape. "I'm not going to escort you to your dormitory to tuck you in! You're going to have a little chat with the Headmaster. And now hurry up, boy, you wasted enough time already because I had to search for you."

Harry was being more or less pushed to the Headmaster's office and his shoulder started to hurt from the bony fingers digging into him. "Would you please keep your hands off me, sir?" he asked forcefully.

Snape let go without another word.

:-:

A few minutes later, Harry was sitting in front of Dumbledore in his office. A soft fire flickered in the hearth, making the instruments clustered around the office gleam silver. Fawkes, the Headmaster's phoenix, sat perched on its roost, trilling softly. Goosebumps rose on Harry's neck as he felt how Snape came to stand behind him, bracing himself on the sides of his chair.

"How were your holidays, Harry?" asked Dumbledore with a gentle smile, fixing his gaze somewhere over the boy's shoulder so that Harry was led to believe that Dumbledore rather spoke with Snape.

"Fine," Harry said curtly, not out of disrespect but because he was anxious to get to the reason for his visit with the headmaster. "Why did you want to speak with me? Is it about Professor..." He stopped short, collecting his thoughts. For one reason or another, Harry was compelled to talk to the Headmaster about what he'd seen during the holidays. Whether because Dumbledore was the first person in over two months who wanted to talk to him or because he couldn't keep it to himself a moment longer, he wasn't sure. He didn't really know how to put it, but he had to tell Dumbledore about the vision he'd had.

"I saw it," he said softly, feeling Snape tense behind him.

"What did you see, Harry?"

"I-I had a vision, during the holidays..." Harry fiddled with his fingers in his lap. "After my birthday."

"What a nice present from the Dark Lord," Snape said sardonically.

"Severus, please," said Dumbledore. "Go on, Harry. What exactly did you see?"

"He was-"

"Who was?" snapped Snape. "You will have to clarify things a bit if you want us to actually follow your explanation."

"Voldemort," said Harry, revelling in the flinch he felt. Snape let go of the chair. "He was in some kind of cellar, I think, with straw..." Harry frowned as he tried to remember everything as clearly as possible. "There was fire, and I thought Professor Trelawney had red hair, but it was only a trick of the flames... There were pieces of glass around her... I thought they were tears but now I know that it was her necklaces... She couldn't move, on the floor, I couldn't see why, but I think Voldemort restrained her movement using magic... He used-" Harry's breath hitched as he realised the most important part. "Voldemort knows," he breathed. "He knows everything about the Prophecy. Oh no..."

"Don't worry, Harry, we gathered as much."

"Don't worry!" Harry cried. "Now Voldemort knows! That was our only advantage!"

"I like to think that we have a bit more up our sleeves," said Dumbledore. "And Voldemort was bound to find out about the Prophecy sooner or later, in any case."

"Tough for Trelawney, though, isn't it?" snapped Harry. He hadn't thought it would be so hard to control his anger when he had made his resolve to save it all for the final confrontation with Voldemort, but now he felt the heat boiling inside him at the Headmaster's words. 'Voldemort was bound to find out.' Bad luck for Trelawney that he hadn't already known, then. She could have lived.

"Potter!" snarled Snape. "Watch your mouth!"

Harry twisted around in his chair and glared up at the towering Potions master. "What? It's true! If Voldemort was 'bound to find out' we could have just told him, and save him the troubles of killing Trelawney!"

Snape bared his teeth and started to snarl his response when Dumbledore interrupted them. "I apologise for the bad choice of my words, Harry. I didn't mean it that way."

"Much good that it does her," muttered Harry, righting himself in his seat.

Dumbledore sighed tiredly, rubbing the bridge of his crooked nose behind his spectacles. "It was to be expected, Harry," he said as gently as he could. "The Second War is only about to start in earnest, and Professor Trelawney is most likely to be only the first casualty. Voldemort is now in the open, and he won't lurk around in the shadows anymore. He is feared, and he counts on that."

"Great," said Harry numbly because he didn't know what else he should say. He silently wondered how many 'casualties' there would be in the next weeks, months – until he was able to kill Voldemort and end his pitiful life for good.

"Harry? Why didn't you report your vision?"

"I..." The boy couldn't bring himself to say that he had forgotten about it. He could live without Snape's sarcastic remarks about his lack of memorising ability. "I wasn't sure whether it was a true vision and you told me not to send any messages."

"Potter remembering a rule?" snorted Snape from above him. "That would be a first. If you wouldn't always forget the rules when you're at school..."

"I can't do it right in your eyes, can I, Professor?" Harry growled and shot Snape a frowning glance. "Everything I do is wrong! I wonder what you would have said if I had sent a note with Hedwig."

"If you would have done your Occlumency exercises properly, you wouldn't have had a vision to worry about at all!" snarled Snape pointedly.

Ah, the point of the visit to Dumbledore's office. Occlumency, the ability to ward one's mind against breaching from outside, was another field of Snape's expertise. Another field Harry wasn't keen on learning from the greasy Potions master.

"Harry? I suppose you understand the reason why you are here?"

Harry nodded. "Are you going to teach me, Headmaster?" he asked desperately, even though he knew that the answer would be no. Dumbledore couldn't even look him in the eye, hence he couldn't teach him Occlumency.

"No," said Dumbledore, "but Professor Snape agreed to continue with your lessons. I am aware that not everything went well last year, but I appeal to your common sense to not hold onto old grudges." He pretended to not hear Harry's quiet snort. "Do you have your timetable?"

"You haven't already decided when I'm going to have the lessons?" asked Harry doubtfully. If the last years had shown him something, then that his opinion didn't matter and that the Headmaster – and everyone else for that matter – liked to make decisions that affected him without his knowledge, let alone his consent.

"No, nothing is decided yet. I wanted to let you have a say in it."

Harry squished the tiny flare of anger and felt another emotion awaken. What was it? A sense of importance? Feeling a bit better, he pulled out his timetable and surveyed it. "I don't know when we're having Quidditch practice yet," he murmured, trailing off uncertainly as he remembered Malfoy's words from the train.

Dumbledore avoided his gaze, and Harry couldn't help thinking that he wouldn't have looked into his eyes even if he could. "Harry-"

"No!" said Harry, loss and frustration fighting for dominance on his face. He didn't need the Headmaster to finish. It was clear in the sad lines around his mouth and the way the older man's shoulders sacked. "No, please, I need Quidditch! It's the only thing-"

"-you're halfway decent at," finished Snape for him. "What a shame. All the begging in the world won't help you, Potter. You have a lifetime ban from playing. Nothing will change that."

"Professor?" Harry kept his eyes trained on Dumbledore. "I thought after Umbridge left, after what she did... How can her punishment still be active?"

"Harry, you must understand," said Dumbledore with a sigh. "The Ministry just confirmed Voldemort's return. We cannot risk the fragile peace within our own community over such a, I'm sorry, trivial matter like a Quidditch ban."

"But that's not fair!" Harry cried, thumping his fists at his armrests. "I didn't do- Malfoy provoked- And Umbridge can't just-!"

"Your sorry excuses won't change anything, Potter," said Snape, and Harry could almost feel his gleeful smirk. Of course he would be happy that Harry was prohibited from playing. Now his Slytherins had the first real chance at winning the Cup since Harry entered Hogwarts. "Fudge won't help you."

"I'm sorry, Harry," said Dumbledore again. "I know it is petty but Minister Fudge is set on taking this small revenge."

"His ego is still sore," snorted Snape. "Couldn't handle the press. The Skeeter woman ripped him apart and he couldn't explain why he didn't confirm the Dark Lord's return months earlier after all evidences pointed in the right direction."

"Bloody hypocritical of her, isn't it?" growled Harry, for once not caring for his language, and nobody reprimanded him for it. His mind couldn't help pointing out that it was all so unfair, that he shouldn't be punished because he said the truth. And after Fudge had to set his wrongs right, Harry was punished again. "At first Skeeter's writing dozens of articles about the fragile state of my mind and then she's taking it out on Fudge."

"You have to see the positive side, Harry. At least the public is on our side now. They realised how they've been manipulated by Minister Fudge, who's bearing the brunt of the blame."

"Why is he still Minister, anyway? After all that's happened - why haven't they voted him out of his office?"

"It's not that easy, Harry. The Minister of Magic has to complete his term of office. It is highly doubtful that he will be re-elected, though, if that is any consolation."

Harry shrugged his shoulders. It didn't really matter to him anymore. He wouldn't play Quidditch this year, his only source of relaxation, his sole passion, and he didn't particularly care for the reasons.

'And no matter what it takes, Voldemort be damned, I'll make it to your next game,' Harry heard Sirius' voice echoing in his head. Clamping down on that path of thought, he re-read his timetable. "Monday, Wednesday, Thursday in the late afternoon, and every evening after dinner I'm free for Occlumency."

"Good," Dumbledore nodded. "Severus?"

"Monday, Thursday afternoon lessons, then," Snape said with a sense of finality that left Harry worried about what was yet to come. "And Friday and Saturday late evenings."

"Saturday?" exclaimed Harry. "Why on Saturday? And isn't four times Occlumency a bit... much?"

"With that attitude you're not going to accomplish anything, Potter!"

"Harry," said Dumbledore, drawing the boy's attention back to him, "I thought it would be a good idea to start with a bit of... additional tutoring in the evenings. Voldemort is getting more and more powerful, he is gathering followers. We don't know how much time we have on our hands before he is ready to strike."

Harry nodded automatically. He knew that already. Another fact that Harry had known but somehow became real all too sudden. 'Additional tutoring,' he thought detachedly. 'Killer and survival training, more like.'

"Professors Snape, McGonagall and Hagrid will be giving you extra training in the evenings."

"How many evenings will that be?"

"Monday to Saturday."

Harry swallowed. "Six days?" That was an awful lot. And he was a bit more disillusioned.

"We want you to be ready, Harry, as soon as possible." Dumbledore folded his hands on the table and leant forward. "I will try to help you as much as possible, but I believe you feel that the longer I am in your presence, the weaker your shield becomes. If you need anything, you can always come to me. I won't repeat my past mistakes, be assured. I have realised that, as much as it pains me, you are no longer a child. You are the key figure here and it won't do anyone any good if you are not able to trust me completely. You will no longer be kept in the dark about the on-goings of the Order."

"Good, Professor," said Harry. Relief surged through him at the declaration of the Headmaster. He couldn't quite believe it yet; no more secrets being kept from him, no more bending the truth. The fact that he was going to be the 'key figure' in this gigantic chess game cast a shadow over his mind, but Harry pushed those dark thoughts to the side.

"Just... uh," Harry said, unsure whether he should point out what he'd just thought about. He had a moment ago been granted access to new information concerning Voldemort and himself; he wasn't sure whether he was willing to risk anything but knew he had to. "Isn't it a bit dangerous? I mean, when I know about our plans, can't Voldemort find out? Through the link, I mean? He sends me visions, even fake ones, so who can tell how often he's been cruising through my memories?"

"You don't have to worry about that, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Your link with Voldemort is still one-sided. That means information may only flow from him to you. You are able to watch him – or rather through him - sometimes, even if you can't control it, and he is able to send you dreams. Voldemort cannot pry into your mind and steal something from you."

"Why can't he? That seems not right. He's powerful enough, isn't he?"

Dumbledore's eyes glittered and a grin appeared on his lips. "Voldemort is very powerful. However, you are not powerful enough."

"What's so funny about that?" Harry asked uneasily. "Shouldn't that be reason enough to worry? I mean, if I'm not powerful enough, how could I possibly win this war?"

"Use your brain for once before you ask stupid questions." Snape sounded almost weary but his tongue was sharp as ever.

"Harry, didn't you wonder why Voldemort only managed to possess you once? He only could do it in the Ministry of Magic..."

"As he wanted you to kill me," Harry said softly, remembering how the cold presence in his body had made him say things without being able to control it. It had left him so vulnerable, much more so than the Imperius Curse, which he could fight.

"Yes," said Dumbledore. "Voldemort is only able to sense anything from you when you're in my presence. Before you worry, it is not strong enough without eye contact. I did a bit of research over the holidays, Harry, and it seems that the link works only in the direction from 'weak' to 'strong'. That means that until you are stronger than him, Voldemort cannot breach your mind."

"Why do I have to learn Occlumency at all, then?"

"Because Voldemort can, and I believe he will, flood you with visions, true and fake ones," said Dumbledore, ignoring Snape's mumbling about 'stupid questions'. "You won't be able to differentiate between them, and I know you, Harry, your guilt about not being able to rescue whoever will going to appear in your dreams, will eat away at you. Voldemort will use this link to his full advantage. You will have to master Occlumency before you are strong enough."

"Will I be able to send Voldemort my own visions, then?"

"That, Harry, is not the purpose of your lessons," said Dumbledore. "First and foremost, we have to stop Voldemort's visions entering your mind."

"Can I ask you something else, Professor?" Harry asked.

"Go on."

"Does anyone else know about... the Prophecy?" Harry asked, uncertain how to formulate his thoughts. Snape's presence left him a bit weary, but Harry gathered, due to the fact that Dumbledore had wanted him there, that the Potions master didn't pose any threat to Harry's well-being – his sanity aside.

"Don't be so fidgety, Potter," sneered Snape. "I know everything that is to know about it. The Dark Lord couldn't keep his knowledge to himself for very long."

Dumbledore nodded gravely. "In the middle of August, Voldemort summoned a meeting. It was at that time that we learnt about Professor Trelawney's abduction and murder. There aren't many teachers staying over the summer holidays at Hogwarts. I fear I did not see the danger coming."

Harry jumped to his feet, pacing the floor in front of the fireplace. He couldn't help that there was something he was missing out.

"Sit down, Potter. You're wearing a hole in the rug."

"Apropos rug," said Dumbledore suddenly, while Harry didn't stop. "Did Voldemort need any more bottles of Tanning Potion?"

Harry couldn't help the snicker as he imagined Voldemort trying to get a tan. "Can't afford the sun?"

Narrowed dark eyes shot daggers in the boy's direction. "That answers my non-asked question whether you took a premature look into your sixth year Potions book," Snape grit out. "The Tanning Potion is to prepare hides – especially from werewolves - as the Dark Lord seems so fond of giving those rugs to his soon-to-be Death Eaters."

Harry paled. "Werewolf hides?"

Snape sneered.

"Do you think that he has his eye on new recruits, Severus?" asked Dumbledore quietly.

"I fear so."

There was an uncomfortable silence as Harry contemplated the meaning of Snape's words. New recruits for Voldemort... Soon there would be more deaths... Like Trelawney...

"Wait..." Harry frowned as he finally realised what was the gap in the logic of it all. He sat back down in the chair opposite of the headmaster. "How did Voldemort know it was Trelawney who made the prediction? He couldn't have known it was her, otherwise he would have tried to capture her fifteen years ago, wouldn't he?"

"Didn't even need as long as I thought it would," remarked Snape condescendingly. "Really, I'm impressed how quick your mind is able to work when you deem it worth to switch it on."

"You-why-"

"Ever the eloquent one, aren't you, Potter?"

"Severus," warned Dumbledore, and Snape fell silent, though Harry was sure he still sneered down at him. "You're right, Harry. Voldemort hadn't known earlier. His informant only heard part of the Prophecy but he couldn't tell whom I've been talking to. Beside my brother and the two of us, nobody knew that Trelawney made the prediction. In the Department of Mysteries, I didn't think anyone would pick up on it; I thought Voldemort would put all his resources to get the Prophecy... Lucius Malfoy seems to have gotten a closer look at the Orb than I would have liked."

"What did he see? There wasn't anything telling about the Prophecy on the Orb, was there?" Harry reflected on the night when he and the Defence Group they had founded in protest to Umbridge's teaching methods had tried to free Sirius from the Department of Mysteries. Every time his thoughts detoured to his godfather, he cut them off and concentrated on the silvery Orb he had found that had his and Voldemort's name on it. He couldn't remember anything of importance, though.

"S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D. was written on the base, do you remember, Harry?" asked the Headmaster quietly. "Sybill P. Trelawney to Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore."

"I-I didn't even stop to think," mused Harry aloud, deliberately ignoring Snape's snort. "I didn't exactly have time to think about it because Malfoy was there the second I laid my hand on the Orb."

"Yes, I gathered as much," said Dumbledore. "Voldemort must have figured it out and waited for the right time to make his move."

"He didn't wait that long..." Harry said before he sighed. "Is there anything else?"

"Just one more point: We can't change the past, Harry, but please don't do anything so foolish again like at the end of last year. You are not alone in this war, it concerns all of us. Do not forget who you can turn to, even when I should not be present, do you understand?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said, vowing to himself to not get into troubles when only Snape was around to turn to for help. Despite the fact that he knew that the Potions master was part of the Order, spying 'under great personal risk' like so many liked to remind him, it was so easy to forget that he was supposed to be one of the good ones. His attitude didn't really help matters either.

Dumbledore sighed contentedly, fishing for his box of sweats. "So, now that that's settled. Care for a lemon drop, anyone?"

Snape merely grunted in exasperation and Harry replied, "No, thanks." He took his timetable back as something occurred to him. "Oh, I didn't even ask who's going to be our new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. There will be someone new, won't there?"

"You will find out soon enough, Harry," said Dumbledore with twinkling eyes fixed somewhere to his left. "Now off to bed you go. Classes start tomorrow morning and you don't want to be late on your first day. Severus, if you please?"

"My pleasure, Headmaster."

When Harry made to leave the office he only had to wonder for a fleeting moment why Snape's voice sounded so sarcastic.

"Hurry up, Potter, I don't plan on spending half the night escorting you to your dorm."

:-:

Harry walked in silence, quickly, feeling the hot glare that made his neck prickle. Without this prickling he would have thought he was alone in the hallways, but as it was, Snape was accompanying him back to Gryffindor Tower, watching his every move with hawk eyes. Snape was moving so very silently, even when Harry strained his ears, he couldn't hear him at all. He supposed were he to abruptly turn around, he wouldn't even see him as the Potions master had the uncanny ability to blend in the shadows.

This ability was only rivalled by his dubious gift to land eleven-year-old children with heart attacks. And if looks could kill...

"What am I going to learn in these additional classes?" asked Harry as the silence grew unbearable. He didn't like the quiet, only in his room at the Dursleys was he able to stand it, but not at Hogwarts, the place where he should be happy.

"You're going to see soon enough, Potter," hissed Snape. "And now be quiet!"

"Yes, sir," Harry growled, crossing his arms. 'He doesn't need to treat me like a criminal only because I ask him a ruddy question!'

"Quietus!" hissed Snape, and a moment later, Harry stopped dead in his tracks.

"What?" he mouthed but no sound came forth. Harry scowled into the shadows to the side, refusing to go on. 'This can't be happening,' he thought furiously. 'Now I am going to be hexed by my own teachers! Who needs Voldemort if Order members are doing his job just as fine?'

"This is your first lesson in your additional class," said Snape lowly. "When I tell you to do something, you will comply. Immediately. Without complaint. Do you get that, Potter, or do you require further demonstration?"

Harry shook his head angrily, turned around, and stalked away.

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