CHAPTER FOURTEEN -- World On Fire "So where'd you bugger off to all day?" Ron asked as he and Harry made their way back up to the common room after dinner. "Didn't even see you for lunch!" Harry shrugged and tried to hide the big stupid grin that had remained plastered on his face all afternoon. "Just spent some time with Gwyn. It was her, playing that music down at the lake. She's really good." Ron smirked at him. "What about you and Hermione?" Harry added quickly. Ron's face fell. "What d'you mean, me and Hermione?" he asked abruptly. Harry made a face. "I mean, are you two speaking again, or what?" Ron seemed to relax. "Oh, yeah," he replied casually as they climbed through the portrait hole and made their way up towards their dormitory. "Yeah, I guess so. She's off in the library reading up on some obscure charm or other." Ron pushed open the door to their room and found Seamus and Dean sitting on Seamus' bed, their heads bowed close together, looking at something. "Whatcha got there?" Ron asked. Dean looked up with a huge grin plastered across his face. "Seamus has got a girlfriend back home," he announced. "He's just been showing me her picture." Ron grinned. "Let's see then," he said, dropping down on the end of Seamus' four poster. Dean passed him the photograph and Ron studied it, a look of confusion crossing his face. "What?" Seamus demanded hotly as Ron frowned at the picture. "She's not moving!" he said, flicking the picture as if to try to provoke it. Seamus snatched the picture back from him. "Course not!" Seamus retorted starting to turn red about the ears. "'Cause she's a Muggle, isn't she?" Ron's eyes widened as the dormitory door opened again and Neville entered. "Another Muggle!" Ron exclaimed. Neville frowned at him. "I am not!" he said. Harry laughed from his own bed where he was pulling off his socks. "Not you," Harry reassured Neville. "Seamus' girlfriend." Rather than reassuring him however, this statement seemed to confuse Neville even more. "What do you mean, 'another Muggle'?" Dean asked Ron, as he took the picture back from Seamus to have another look. Ron gave a loud sigh and flopped onto his own bed. "First Harry thought his girlfriend was a Muggle and now --" "She's not my girlfriend," Harry interjected quickly as Dean passed him the photograph. He glanced down at a snapshot of a rather voluptuous girl with short brown hair, a wide friendly smile, and a prominent Roman nose that was slightly too large for her face. "Well?" Seamus said anxiously. "Not bad," Harry said with an encouraging nod as he passed the picture to Neville. Ron snorted. "Yeah, not bad -- if you don't mind dating a parrot!" Seamus drew himself up and glared at Ron. "I don't think he was paying much mind to her nose, Ron," Dean quickly said with a laugh. "So come on, Seamus," he continued, "have you seen 'em yet?" By this time, Seamus' face was approximately the same color as the scarlet curtains that hung around their beds. "Seen what?" he asked defensively. "Seen what?" Dean repeated. "Those bloody great knockers taking up the entire photo! What d'you think?" Now Neville was also blushing as he handed the picture back to Seamus. Ron sat up in his bed to look over expectantly at Seamus, who was now avoiding all of their eyes. "Well of course I have," he replied, somewhat unconvincingly. "Come off it!" Ron said scathingly, but with an eager expression. "I have!" Seamus retorted with a grin, his face still burning. "She bent over right in front of me to tie her shoe and I saw her bra and -- and everything." "No way," Neville said in awe, causing the rest of them to laugh. His face turned an even deeper shade than Seamus'. "That doesn't count," Dean said with a shake of his head. "That was an accident." "Yeah, well! It's more than you've ever got!" Seamus shot back. "You told me yourself that Ginny wouldn't let you --" Seamus didn't get to finish his sentence because Dean lobbed a pillow at him. "Shut your bloody trap!" Dean hissed. He glanced warily over at Ron who was beginning to look murderous. "What about you then, Ron?" he asked in a falsely cheerful tone, hoping to redirect the conversation. "Who do you fancy?" Ron snorted derisively. "No one! Girls make me crazy!" "One in particular maybe?" Seamus asked with a sly smile. Ron started to blush. "Who?" Neville asked eagerly. Ron shot him a menacing glare as he turned to undo his shoes. "You're mental," he insisted. "I don't fancy anyone! But I know who does!" He looked up at Harry with an evil grin. Harry shook his head and gave Ron a warning stare. "It's the American, isn't it?" Seamus shouted. Ron grinned and Seamus gave a whoop of triumph. "Well done, Harry!" Harry found the big idiot grin was returning, and there was very little he could do about it. "Have you kissed her yet?" Seamus pressed. "Maybe you ought to practice a bit!" Dean interjected. "American birds are fast, you know... She's probably kissed loads of guys." He held up his fist like a hand puppet and started miming as if he were going to kiss it. "Don't want to embarrass yourself." "Hey, I've had plenty of practice!" Harry retorted, feeling his face gettting rather hot. "That's right," Seamus reminded them, "with Cho. So Harry's kissed Cho, I've kissed Matilda --" "Her name's Matilda?" Ron crowed. Seamus continued unperturbed. "-- Dean's snogged Ginny loads of times..." Dean glanced over at Ron, who was frowning disapprovingly. "No! Not Ginny!" Dean protested. Ron's face contorted into an even darker expression and Dean hastily backtracked. "I mean, yes Ginny... I mean..." "Which is it?" Ron demanded. Dean flopped back onto his bed where he was partially hidden by the curtains. "Oh bollocks..." "So that just leaves Ron and Neville who've never been kissed," Seamus finished. "I have so been kissed!" Neville protested. They all turned to stare at him incredulously. "I have!" he insisted. "Your gran doesn't count, Neville," Seamus said with a smirk. Neville made a face at him. "It wasn't my Gran!" he retorted. The others regarded him warily. "Then who?" Dean demanded. "And when?" Seamus chimed in. Neville fidgeted uncomfortably with his wand. "After the Yule Ball," he replied quietly. "That's rubbish!" Ron spat. "You went to the Yule Ball with Ginny!" Neville gave him a significant look and blushed. "Yeah, and she kissed me goodnight!" he retorted. Ron looked absolutely flummoxed. He groaned dramatically and grabbed his pillow, throwing it over his head. "I don't want to hear any more!" he shouted, the pillow muffling his words. He peeked out from under the pillow and gave Harry a plaintive look. "Honestly," he moaned, "she's going to be the death of me!" * * * The remainder of the weekend passed in a blur of books and studying. Professor Lindell had promised her N.E.W.T. class a test over their reading, and Professor Snape was threatening to poison the entire class to see how well their antidotes had turned out, not to mention the three foot essay McGonagall wanted on inanimate to animate transfigurations and the Gargoyle research they were meant to be doing for Hagrid. By Monday morning, the sixth years were all grumbly and tired, as if they hadn't even had a break at all. Hermione was trying not to drip jam onto her Charms text as she read the chapter on mobile illusions (for the third time), which they hadn't even started learning yet. Ron had taken to scowling disapprovingly at Ginny whenever the opportunity presented itself, and Harry was adding the finishing touches to his diagram of a traditional wizard herb garden for Herbology, when a whoosh and a clatter signified the arrival of the post owls. Harry, who rarely if ever received mail, didn't even bother looking up and so was quite surprised when a fat spotted owl landed squarely on his diagram and smudged his Thistlewaite patch. The owl looked at him expectantly and held out a small brown parcel dangling by a bit of twine from its beak. Harry took the parcel and offered the owl a crust of his toast before it took off again towards the ceiling. At the same moment, a large eagle owl swooped past and dropped a much larger package squarely on Ron's head. "OW!" he shouted at the bird, who didn't seem to take any notice and swooped out again. "What on earth is that?" Hermione asked, looking up at Ron, who was now rubbing his sore head. "Oh, just some stuff from home I expect..." Ron said, examining the box. "But that wasn't Errol," Hermione said, squinting up at the ceiling. Ron looked uncomfortable. "Prolly just a post office owl. Errol hasn't been up to long flights lately. I'd er... I'd better take this upstairs before the lesson." Grabbing the box under one arm he somehow managed to shove three whole pieces of bacon in his mouth before dashing to the door. "What did you get?" Hermione asked, unrolling her copy of the Prophet which had arrived with the rest of the post. "Dunno," Harry replied, sliding the twine off of the package. He unwrapped the brown paper and found something heavy inside wrapped in an old handkerchief. On top of it was a letter. Harry unfolded it and instantly recognized Lupin's loopy scrawl. Dear Harry, I mentioned at the train station that I was working on a way for us to communicate without worrying about our owls being intercepted, and here it is, as promised. Your father and Sirius used something similar to keep in touch while serving separate detentions. To activate it, simply speak my name into it, and we will be able to talk. I look forward to seeing you soon, Remus Harry sighed inwardly as he unwrapped the plain square mirror Remus had sent him. It was uncannily similar to the one Sirius had given him the year before, only Remus didn't know about that other mirror. No one did. Hermione was still waiting for an answer, so he passed her the note. "Mmm... Clever," she said with approval as she read it. "I never thought of using a-- Harry, are you all right?" Harry ground his fist hard against his burning scar and tried to nod. "What is it?" Hermione pressed. Harry shook his head, eyes shut, unable for the moment to speak. He didn't know what was happening. A tidal wave of fresh hot grief and guilt had washed over him at the thought of Sirius' mirror, the mirror that, had Harry thought to open it, might have saved Sirius' life. The memory of Sirius's expression of fear and surprise as he fell through the veil and of Lupin’s arms holding him back away from it, was suddenly vivid in Harry’s mind. A fresh jolt of pain stabbed through his head. Harry groaned. And then, just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. Harry opened his eyes. Hermione was holding his hand in both of her own. Her face was a mask of concern and fear. "What did you do?" Harry asked gratefully, rubbing his scar, though the pain had now completely subsided. Hermione gave him a confused look and shook her head slightly. "Ahem." Harry and Hermione both looked up at Ron who was scowling down at them, looking very red-faced and angry. "Am I interrupting something?" he demanded rather more fiercely than Harry thought was absolutely necessary. Hermione quickly released Harry's hand. "My scar was--" Harry started. "Right. Well, we'd better get down to Herbology," Ron said quickly turning on his heel and heading for the door. "Oh dear," Hermione sighed as she shoved her books into her bag. Harry frowned as he took the little mirror and, placing in into a pocket of his satchel, raced after the other two to Herbology. He had no time now to worry about anything now. As a matter of fact, Harry found he didn't have time to worry about the mirror, his scar, his friends, or much of anything extracurricular for the remainder of the week. Classes at the N.E.W.T. level were, if possible, even harder than they had been in the weeks before the O.W.L. exams. Each and every one of his teachers seemed to be under the impression that theirs was the only lesson he had, and assigned their homework accordingly. By the middle of the week, everyone -- even the ever studious Hermione -- was behind on homework, and Harry found himself hastily flipping though Advanced Potion Making at lunch on Wednesday, desperately trying to figure out what poison the antidote they were brewing in Potions was meant to counteract. He suspected Hermione knew, though she wouldn't tell him. As students began to file out of the Great Hall towards their afternoon classes, Harry sprinted away from Ron and Hermione, who were arguing about Ron's homework planner -- which he had apparently started using to keep Quiddich plays in -- and hurried over to Gwyn at the Ravenclaw table, where she was chatting with Padma Patil and Luna Lovegood. He came up next to her and scooped up two of the books that she had been about to load into her back pack. "Hurry!" he pleaded. "Before Hermione can catch us up." Gwyn gave him an odd look, but grabbed her satchel and allowed him to pull her bodily from the Great Hall and down towards the dungeons. "Please, please tell me you know what poison Snape's going to use on us today," he implored. "I've been looking through the book in every spare moment and I still haven't got a clue!" Gwyn gave him a resigned shrug. "I'm crap at potions, Harry. Padma told me it's probably the Conflagration Colloid because of the feverfew, but Justin thought it was more likely to be a Freezing Draught that freezes you from the inside out." She pulled a cardigan out of her bag. "I brought a sweater just in case." Harry couldn't help but smile as he shook his head wearily. "I reckon Hermione knows what it is, but she's on her annual 'copying is cheating' campaign and won't tell me." Gwyn grinned. "She does seem the type..." her voice trailed off as they heard footsteps running down the corridor behind them. Harry turned and saw Hermione sprinting to reach them. "Are... we... late?" she panted as she fell into step behind them. Gwyn shook her head. "Then why were you in such a hurry, Harry?" Hermione asked, looking slightly put out that she'd just run her legs off for no good reason. Harry opened his mouth, trying at the same time to come up with an excuse, but Gwyn beat him to it. "I was just asking Harry if he'd found out what poison Snape's going to use on us today," Gwyn said with a little smile. "And I told him I haven't a clue. What do you think it is, Hermione? I’d love to know; you're the best in the class, after all..." Hermione began to blush and looked away, murmuring something indistinct. Gwyn grinned at Harry as they entered the Potions dungeon, but the smile was quickly wiped off her face as they saw what was in store for them. Snape was standing at the front of the room behind a large wooden table that was laden with vials of potions in all different colors and consistencies. Each vial was labeled with the name of the poison it contained. Harry spotted one that was brilliant orange with red flecks suspended in it labeled "Conflagration Colloid," and a little further down, an icy blue one that seemed to be frosting up its glass vial labeled "Freezing Draught." Unfortunately, there were six or seven others to choose from as well. "You will find your potions exactly as you left them," Snape announced as the class filed into the room. "If you prepared yours correctly, it should have matured nicely. If not, it is most likely a festering cauldron of slop at this point." He looked pointedly at Harry. "Today I will be testing both your potion making abilities and your capacity for deductive reasoning. Each of you will choose one of the poisons I have assembled here for which you think your potion is the antidote. I will administer a small dose of the poison, and you will then take a dose of your own antidote. If you have guessed correctly, and you have made your antidote correctly, the symptoms will subside. If not..." He paused dramatically. "Well... Let's just hope everyone has done his homework. Line up outside the door." They all dropped their things at their desks and moved back out into the corridor. Unsurprisingly, Hermione was at the head of the line. Snape regarded her with a sneer. "I think not, Miss Granger. The rest of the class can't ride in on your coattails forever. To the back of the queue please." Harry tried not to groan in disappointment as Hermione, crestfallen, moved to the very end of the line. Justin Finch-Fletchly was now at the head of the line, and Snape let him into the classroom, slamming the door shut behind him. A few moments passed, and then suddenly, Snape's voice startled them all by saying "Next!" through the door. Pansy Parkinson was next in line, and she looked rather anxious as she tugged open the door and entered the dungeon. An eerie silence fell over the class as one by one they were called into the room. None of the students already tested returned. When Gwyn's turn came, she took a deep steadying breath, and Harry tried to give her an encouraging smile as she entered the room. Finally it was Harry's turn. He yanked open the classroom door and entered. He glanced over at his classmates where they stood by their cauldrons. Justin's lips had turned blue and Gwyn had already donned her cardigan and was hugging her arms around herself, a morose expression on her face. Harry guessed that they had both chosen the Freezing Draught. Pansy had her mouth open and was whimpering and fanning her tongue ridiculously, as though she had just eaten a very hot chili pepper. Phillipe Fontaine was slumped over his desk. He was sweating profusely, but otherwise seemed none the worse for wear. "Eyes to the front, Potter!" Snape snapped testily. Harry frowned. His instincts told him to go with the Conflagration Colloid, but he still wasn't sure. Several other poisons with delightful names like Searing Solution and Draught of a Thousand Daggers also sprang to mind. None of them sounded terribly pleasant. He frowned at the table. "If you are too unsure of your own antidote to make a choice," Snape drawled nastily, "I suggest you take your zero and let the rest of your classmates have their turn." Harry glared up at him. He pointed at the Conflagration Colloid and Snape narrowed his eyes. Harry thought momentarily of how horrified Moody would be at the thought of voluntarily allowing someone to poison him as he opened his mouth. Slowly and deliberately, the Potions Master measured out three drops of the liquid onto Harry's tongue. The effect was instantaneous. It felt as though all the fluids in Harry's body had suddenly begun to boil. Beads of sweat broke out all over his skin, but rather than cooling him, they burned as they ran down his scalp, his neck, his back and face. He heard Gwyn gasp as he stalked, half blind with the pain, over to his own cauldron. His hands were shaking as he tried to ladle out a dose of the antidote, and he spilled it, watching in fascinated horror as small streams of flame rolled off his own hands into the cauldron and burned little holes in his robes. Gwyn hurried over and, still shaking herself, measured out a dose of the potion into a glass to give to Harry. Harry took it gratefully and swallowed. He stared at the backs of his hands as the fires hissed and steamed and slowly put themselves out. He felt completely numb. Harry watched the rest of the class suffer similarly. Malfoy initially pointed at the Freezing Draught but then, at a look from Professor Snape, changed his mind and chose the Conflagration Colloid. Snape only gave him one drop, and while he did look rather hot, he never burst into flames. Padma and Hermione also both chose the Conflagration Colloid, and Hermione was crying tears of fire by the time she got to her cauldron where Harry was already waiting for her with a glass of her antidote. When everyone had been tested, Snape came around and collected vials of everyone's antidote for analysis before dismissing them. "Potter! Granger! I want a word!" he barked as the rest of the class stumbled out of the room. Gwyn shot Harry a glance that said she would wait as he and Hermione headed towards Snape's desk. As the last of the students exited the classroom, Snape glared at them both with his steely eyes. "I thought that after five years under my tutelage you would have realized that I do not tolerate cheating!" he intoned menacingly. "I have therefore decided to render both of your marks as zeros for the day in the hopes that the message might be more clearly received!" Hermione gaped at him. "We weren't cheating, sir!" she insisted. "I swear, I didn't tell Harry which poison to --" "Do you honestly expect me to believe that?" Snape demanded. Hermione's lip trembled. "You have been helping Potter since the very first day you set foot in my classroom and I will not tolerate it any longer! From now on you will not sit together, and if I have even the slightest reason to suspect that you have been helping him again, you will both be expelled from this class. Do I make myself clear?" Choking back tears, Hermione nodded. Harry just stared, stony faced at Snape. He knew he hadn't done anything wrong, and he suspected Snape knew it too. For a moment, the Professor met his gaze. His eyes narrowed as if daring Harry to question his authority. "May we leave?" Harry asked, his voice icily calm. Snape nodded brusquely and Harry grabbed Hermione's arm and led her out of the dungeon. Just outside the potions classroom, Gwyn was ducking away from Malfoy, whose expression appeared, though Harry never would have admitted it, contrite. Gwyn quickly stuffed a piece of parchment into a pocket, and hugging her arms around herself, hurried over to Harry. "What happened?" she asked. Hermione looked like she might be in shock. Her eyes were wide and unfocused, and she was chewing on her lip. "Zero..." she muttered in disbelief. "Snape was being his usual subhuman self," Harry answered Gwyn dully. "He accused us of cheating and gave us both zero marks for the project." "But you didn't cheat!" Gwyn cried turning back towards the dungeon. "I'll go back and tell him--" Harry caught her arm and shook his head. "It won't do any good. Don't waste your breath." Gwyn frowned darkly, then noticed Hermione. "Are you all right?" she asked. Hermione was busy trying to look nonchalant as she wiped tears from her eyes. "Fine," she replied sharply. "I'll see you at dinner..." She turned and hurried away up the corridor. Harry started to follow, but Gwyn put out a hand to stop him and shook her head. He could feel her fingers like little blocks of ice right through his robes. "You're freezing!" he exclaimed. "Hence the name 'Freezing Draught,'" she replied., grabbing his hand and wrapping his arm around her shoulders as they began to walk up the corridor. "Real nice of Snape to give all of us the correct antidotes, wasn't it?" she asked facetiously. Harry agreed as he chanced a glance behind them and saw Malfoy still standing outside the classroom, his expression now cold and unreadable. "I could do with a drop of that Conflagration potion right about now." Gwyn teased, as she hurried him forward. But she was right. Harry could feel how icy cold she was through her robes and cardigan. She shivered next to him all the way back to the Great Hall. By Friday, Harry was so exhausted from classes and staying up nights working on schoolwork that he could barely remember his own name. He was certain he'd failed Lindell's test, not having understood or therefore remembered much of the reading; and he hadn't even managed to make his pencil move in Transfiguration, let alone turn it into a worm as he was supposed to have done. Both of those failures had earned him extra homework. Feeling like a zombie, Harry was halfway to Lindell's office before he remembered that he was supposed to have brought a stone or small object to this Occlumency lesson, for Lindell to enchant. Cursing silently, he raced back to the dormitory and started casting desperately around the room for something -- anything -- he could use as a Centre. Frantically he started digging through his trunk; there, at the very bottom, he found the purple crystal Tonks had given him for his birthday. Muttering a blessing on Tonks' strange pink head, he dashed back down to Lindell's office, panting for breath as he knocked on her door. "Yes?" she called tersely, and, taking that as an invitation, he cautiously opened the door. Professor Lindell seemed to have done a bit of rearranging since Harry had last visited. Her large desk was missing, and in its place was a sturdy looking work table. Sitting on the table were innumerable rolls of parchment in various states of completion, a bubbling cauldron suspended over a bell jar of blue flames, and beside that, what looked suspiciously like a tray of take-away curry. In the center of the table, a large white rat was curled up and sleeping peacefully. "Stupefy!" Professor Lindell muttered at the rat without turning to see who had entered her office. The spell's aim was true, but rather than stunning the rat, it seemed to encounter a kind of bubble around the creature which illuminated blue when it was hit. The energy of the spell dispersed all around the bubble and then disappeared, but had no effect on the rat, which merely snorted in its sleep and wiggled into a more comfortable position. Lindell grabbed her quill from the ink pot nearby and began scribbling in a well worn leather notebook propped open on the table. It was so full of other scraps of parchment and notes that stuck out from between the pages that it looked vaguely as though it had exploded at some point and been inexpertly reassembled. Harry cleared his throat, wondering if she remembered that he was there. At the sound, Lindell whirled around glaring at the source of the interruption, her eyebrows rose in surprise as she recognized him, and then fell again in consternation. "Mr. Potter," she said finally. "It's Friday. I completely forgot." Harry smiled a little, glad to see he wasn't the only one having a busy week. "That's OK," he said quickly. "I can come back another time if..." "No. No, I'm sorry. Come in." She looked around the room suddenly and seemed to realize that there weren't any chairs. Flicking her wand carelessly, she conjured up two battered leather wingbacks facing one another near the table. Harry moved over and dropped into one, still staring at the curious detritus littering the tabletop. "Er, Professor..." he said as she puttered about, clearing things from the table, and rolling up various scrolls. "What were you doing to that rat just now?" Lindell smiled, and for the first time, Harry thought he saw genuine warmth in her expression. "I've developed a new type of shield charm that is self-sustaining," she said, glancing over at the rat which was now scratching itself behind the ear with one foot. She pointed her wand at it and muttered "Citro," and the strange bubble around the rodent glowed blue again momentarily and then seemed to disappear. She scooped the rat up and dumped it into a small cage on her shelf before sitting down. "You saw what happened when I cursed it?" Harry nodded. She smiled again. "Rather good, wasn't it?" Harry grinned. "Brilliant," he agreed. She took a deep breath as though to bring herself back to the task at hand. "Right," she said. "Occlumency. Have you been practicing with the Centre?" Harry nodded and dug into his pocket, producing the white crystal she had given him and the purple one that he had retrieved from his room. She took them both. "Don't tell me you've been to Albania?" she asked, raising an eyebrow as she dangled the purple crystal from its strap. Harry shook his head. "It was a gift from a friend," he said sheepishly. "Is it... OK?" Lindell nodded. "It will take some time to enchant it, so I will return it to you next week. How did your meditation go?" "Pretty well, I think," Harry said truthfully. Lindell handed him the white crystal again. "Show me." Harry took the crystal and closed his eyes. He found he was so exhausted that it wasn't hard to clear his mind and when the Professor told him to open his eyes, the smoke had receded into what he thought was a respectable sized ball. "Very good," Lindell said, approvingly. "Now, if you feel ready, Mr. Potter, I would like you to try to repel an attack." Harry nodded slowly. He didn't feel too keen on letting anyone go mucking about in his head, but he knew it was for his own good. Lindell took up her wand. "Concentrate on keeping a clear head and a centered mind," she instructed him. "Just as you move the smoke in the crystal, push me away from your thoughts. Ready?" Without waiting for an answer, Lindell pointed her wand at him and said, "Legilimens." Harry felt a slight jolt and closed his eyes involuntarily. He saw himself surrounded by his friends at his birthday party a few months ago; Hagrid was waving to him at the Hogsmead station as he disembarked from the Hogwarts Express; Gryffindor was winning the Quiddich cup and all of his friends were cheering. Harry was confused. He tried to remember what he was supposed to be doing. Instead, he saw Hagrid handing him the photo album he'd made for him, Fred and George and Ron hovering in the Ford Anglia outside his bedroom window, and Gwyn leaning over him in the play park, brushing back his fringe... Harry felt heat rise to his face as he realized that Professor Lindell was seeing the memories too, and he quickly tried to think of anything other than Gwyn. With a strange feeling of release, the deluge of memories stopped. Harry opened his eyes. "What was that?" he asked, feeling disoriented. Professor Lindell raised an eyebrow at him. "That was me, entering your mind using Legilimency," she said slowly, as if that should have been obvious. Harry frowned. He remembered Occlumency being a much more painful lesson than this. "But the memories... They were all good." The Professor looked at him curiously. Harry fumbled over his words, trying to explain. "When Snape -- Professor Snape, I mean -- whenever he... I always saw bad memories, things I didn't want to remember... Things I didn't want him to see and..." He trailed off as he glanced up at Lindell, whose face had gone very white. "Only bad memories?" she asked in a pinched voice. Harry nodded, relived that he'd been able to get his meaning across despite his lack of eloquence. A muscle in Professor Lindell's jaw tensed. Harry swallowed, realizing that his throat was suddenly very dry. Professor Lindell was pensive, studying him with an odd look on her face that was perhaps a mixture of anger and pity. Harry reached up and rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly. Even though the memories hadn't been painful, he still felt as though someone had been poking around in his head with their foot. "Did you tell Professor Dumbledore about this?" Lindell asked quietly, jogging Harry from his reverie. Harry frowned as what she was saying penetrated through the fog. "Should I have done?" he asked. Lindell got up and began to pace with her arms folded over her chest. Her eyes were dark and angry. "Do you mean," Harry asked, as the new realization began to stoke the anger within him, "that you can choose what kind of memories to look for?" Lindell gave him an affirming glance, her brows knit in consternation. Harry took a deep breath. "Then, Professor Snape was making me relive all that stuff on purpose?" he demanded. "It certainly seems that way," Lindell spat angrily. Harry clenched his fists in hatred. He'd always thought that was just how Legilimency worked; that to break down his victim, the Legilimens would make him relive his worst memories. Only now did Harry realize that it would be a much more useful tool if one could choose which memories to view. Quite suddenly, a flash of pain seared across Harry's forehead and behind his eyes, but he barely felt it at all. All he could think of was how desperately he hated Severus Snape for making him relive all his worst memories, and how the bastard had probably enjoyed every minute of it. "Mr. Potter," Professor Lindell said sharply. Harry glanced up at her. "I would like you to go back to your dormitory and meditate for the rest of our hour. Your mind is clearly in need of quieting." Harry glanced down at the crystal still lying on his knee and was impressed with the degree to which the storm within was boiling away. "I can understand that you are feeling very betrayed right now, as well you should be," Lindell continued levelly, her grey eyes flashing with anger. "Professor Snape had no right to violate your mind the way he did, and you can rest assured that I will speak to both him and Professor Dumbledore about this." --------------------------------------------------------------- A/N: Major Drama! What will Harry do with his newfound information? How will Snape react when confronted by Lindell? Will Hermione ever get over the shock of receiving a zero for the day? Will Ron EVER get kissed? =) If you review, I promise to publish the next chapter sooner. =) ~Lacy
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