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Thank you FairyTale_Princess_504, Paige Taylor, insane_angel, Lauren, ivory ravyn (AFI rulez!), jamie, Mandi B., SeaMar, kira_riddle (Don't worry. I will check out your stories during the holidays), BillyLevel27Chick, Ema, Mallorie, Ghausia, feltonlover (I'm not a cutter but I have a vivid imagination and read a lot about it), Y NaffiT?, Chris, ????, megan (That's because I am Harry's age, I s'pose), Kijo, Vanessa, x bellatrix, skyla, jessee, Emmeline Bagman, ciera and ze piggy, Tanya Brauer (This is only the beginning!), Liv, Book_Nerd05, Julie, Phynix, Rachida, psychofreak, Bubbles00, Robin (OMG! Thanks! *blushes*), me, mavis, theateraholic, Holly the Folly (Whaaaaa! *runs around screaming in astonishment and happiness), Sungoddess (I will, sorry!), ME!!!, alice, and Amy for the lovely reviews. You guys rock! John, demitria, and sirius_lvr73, I am glad you guys want slash so badly but it isn't going to be in this chapter, nor in the next. I don't want to rush things up, I hope you understand that. cheezy_4me, I don't believe Harry and Draco will end up togheter neither. According to J.K.'s style that is impossible. I realise that. But one can't stop hoping, right? I love Harry/Draco even though it is impossible. fuuka, love, if you cut yourself I really must say that is not a good thing. I don't write because I want to encourage anyone to start doing that. Thanks for the pointers but if I get too realistical qome people will freak out, even though I guess I already did so during previous chapters. But thanks anyway. I'm sorry f u c k changes into censored, Erica. I'm not the one doing that. It's the site... -------------------- Chapter: 4/? Rating: PG-13/R-ish for cutting and language Lenght: +5,000 words ------------------- CHAPTER FOUR - THE AFTERMATH Strapped down and heavy, tied up and bound; this weight I carry, this weight I’ve found. So let me be the one to say: I’ve really had enough! (- Earshot) Whispers. The soft buzzing noise rose from the crowd as soon as I got up from the Gryffindor House table, and even when I left the Great Hall through the big oak doors it followed me. I looked down at my feet as I climbed the stairs, feeling the gaze of the other students leaving the Hall. When Professor McGonagall had approached me right after the feast, she had, of course, only given the other students more to gossip about, and when it had reached their ears that I was expected in the Headmaster’s office, things only got worse. I passed a few corridors, went through some more secret passages hidden behind tapestries and climbed even more staircases. I felt my stomach drop with every step I took closer to Dumbledore’s office. I noticed some, obviously barking mad, girls had been following me ever since I had left the hall. That is so pathetic, I thought, jumping over one of the trick stairs Neville always managed to forget. A nervous giggle from one of the girls reached my ears a moment or so later (clearly they knew I was aware they were following me) but I decided to ignore it, guessing they’d get tired of their stupid game soon enough. I went through the final corridor, and it was only when I was standing in front of the stone gargoyle that I realised that I did not, in fact, know the password. “Eh... Sherbet Lemon?” I tried tentatively. As expected the gargoyle didn’t move an inch; instead it kept looking at me sternly. “Drooble's Best Blowing Gum? Eh... Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans?” Still no response. “Maybe... Sugar Quill?” “Why don’t you try ‘expulsion’, Mr Potter?” I started and jerked my head around to face the source of the icy voice. Snape was looking way too happy for my own good. The more happy he was, the more unhappy I got. “Oh don’t be ridiculous, Severus,” McGonagall snapped as she too strode over towards the gargoyle. “Ice mice,” I frowned slightly at the password. That old man really managed to surprise me every time. “You go first, Potter. Come on.” Cautiously I stepped on the spiral staircase, obeying McGonagall’s orders. I was followed closely by my Head of House and Snape. The staircase began circling upwards from the moment I stood on the first step and stopped dead immediately after Snape had left it. I took a deep breath before knocking on the wooden door, mentally preparing myself for the worst. I can’t get expelled just for hitting someone, right? I thought nervously. I entered. The first thing I saw was Fawkes the Phoenix, who was sitting serenely on his perch next to the writing desk; the fire was burning merrily and spread a welcoming light. Dumbledore himself was sitting in his usual chair behind the desk, and his head was resting slightly on his folded hands. “Those were some wise words you spoke back there at the Gryffindor table.” His bright blue eyes were sparkling behind the half-moon glasses though he looked at me piercingly as he spoke. I wasn’t sure either he was being serious or not, as he had told me just about the same thing while I was still in second year. “Eh... thank you, professor.” I said, quite unsure. Snape’s mouth dropped slightly open in annoyance and frustration. Clearly he hadn’t really expected Dumbledore to say that as an opening sentence. Neither had I to be honest. “Headmaster,” Snape began, shooting me one of these death glares he seemed to save up especially for me, “I thought we were summoned here to discuss Potter’s punishment for his little outburst towards the Slytherin Prefect, Mr Malfoy, instead of his touching speech in the Great Hall.” Dumbledore ignored him and directed himself to professor McGonagall who had been standing discreetly near the door; her lips were as thin as ever. “Could you please conjure us a couple of chairs, Minerva?” A nerve near Snape’s temple was twitching. The Head of Gryffindor conjured two solid wooden chairs, and again the picture of Dumbledore’s fluffy armchairs that he had conjured in the Ministry of Magic flashed in front of my eyes as I sat down. “Now Harry,” The old man said, looking so much older all of a sudden, “Professor Snape informed me that you’ve had a small encounter with Mr Malfoy in the train. Would you care to explain why exactly did you start a fight with him, Harry?” I answered, looking down at my knees: “He provoked me, Sir.” Both Snape and McGonagall snorted in a rare moment of agreement. “And it wasn’t really a fight, Sir,” I added as an afterthought, “I mean... I only hit him once.” I looked up and judging by the looks the others were giving me they had heard I was feeling slightly sorry for that: McGonogall’s lips thinned, making her look sterner than ever, and Snape was looking downright outrageous. “Potter, if you only-” “Shhh, Severus, stay calm,” Dumbledore warned, making eye-contact with me once more. “And what was it exactly Mr Malfoy did to provoke you?” I looked down at my knees again, replaying the ‘conversation’ I’d had with Malfoy earlier that day. “He... eh... he insulted Sirius.” I felt my face go red when I realised how incredibly stupid and childish that must have sounded. McGonagall was pursing her lips together as though she wanted to prevent herself from saying something she might regret later. Snape, on the other hand, was rolling his eyes at my comment and didn’t seem at all impressed by my excuse to start fighting. I could have sworn I heard the word ‘preposterous’ cross his lips while he looked at the ceiling in irritation. “Do you think he deserved to be hit because of that, Harry?” Dumbledore asked calmly. I couldn’t help but stare at him in disbelief when he said this. Why, of course he deserved what he got! And now hurry the fuck up with my punishment, will you?! The frown in Dumbledore’s brow deepened. Snape suddenly spoke: “Maybe, Albus, we could make sure he’ll think twice before starting a Muggle fight with a fellow student again. Maybe we could take a leaf out of Umbridge’s book and lengthen Mr Potter’s Quidditch banishment for another year...” McGonagall rose from her chair so quickly that it seemed as though she had been stung by a Billywig, eyeing Snape angrily. “Potter is Quidditch Captain, Severus. I will not have him banished for another year because of a trifle like this!” That was a bit rich coming from her, I thought, considering the fact that she had been really angry with me last year when I had started fighting with Malfoy then as well. She hadn’t been the one who had wanted to see me banished though; it was that foul Umbridge woman who had decided that. “Of course not, Minerva,” Dumbledore assured her, “Please sit down.” She shot Snape another furious glare before sitting down again. “No,” The Headmaster said, “I think it is better to punish him in a more appropriate way, according to me. Even though I must say that Harry’s punishment is not the only thing we need to discuss.” I bit my lip anxiously when I saw the grave look on his face.
“Potter.” I looked around. Snape’s cruel grin broadened even more when he saw my frown when I looked at him questioningly. Obviously he had thought of some sort of nasty closing sentence to make sure he had the last word in stead of the Headmaster. “Maybe next time you come to visit Professor Dumbledore you might not ant to bring your personal fan club with you.” He gestured vaguely at the two girls who were standing on the other side of the corridor. They both were both looking utterly terrified at Filch, the caretaker, who was lecturing them about something I couldn’t hear, but judging by the way one of the girls was eyeing me I felt quite sure that it had something to do with me. I felt my face go crimson. I glared at Snape. “Now, now, Mr Potter. That is not exactly the way you ought to look at your professor,” he smirked smugly, “twenty points from Gryffindor and now back to your tower before I need to deduct more points from your House.” Fuming I hurried up the stairs. As if I ever wanted those cows to track me down; it was just obvious Snape had wanted to cast it in my teeth once more that thanks to me he would be spending one night a week with a ‘hopeless case’ like me to teach me the ‘fine and subtle’ art of Occlumency. Stupid git. As if I liked to be stuck in a room with him one night a week, losing yet another part of my rare free time. Fucking Occlumency lessons... I really had thought I’d had enough lessons last year. “Avoiding eye-contact won’t always work, Harry.” Dumbledore had said by way of explanation. Damn him! Not that Snape had been too happy with it, but it seemed like Dumbledore had already warned him beforehand. The bloody bastard just liked to dig into my thoughts! And of course there had been my real punishment as well, which turned out not to be as bad as expected. I would be serving two nights of detentions with the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, whoever that might me. It struck to me that I still hadn’t seemed him and if my memory served me well he hadn’t been sitting at the Staff table neither. Oh well, can’t be as bad as serving detention with Umbridge, right? Or at least I hope it can’t be as bad. There were still scars on my right hand saying ‘I shall not tell lies’. I started panicking slightly when I remembered what I had said in the Great Hall. What would the other Gryffindors say when they heard... Shit. Dumbledore had not only been talking about Occlumency and Malfoy though. After a while he had ordered Snape and McGonagall out of the room (I must say Snape was quite pissed off because of this), and he had started talking about the Prophecy… again. He asked me whether I had thought about the consequences. How thick was the man actually? Really, of course I had been thinking about it sometimes. I had been thinking about that prophecy constantly. Every time anyone mentioned Voldemort, Death Eaters or Sirius I was reminded of that bloody Prophecy, the prophecy that would cost me my life eventually. How could I ever conquer the Dark Lord? That was just ridiculous. Me, a sixteen year old nutcase with the mental health of a basket case? I guess not. But even so Dumbledore seemed to think I could do it. I had seen so in his eyes when he had looked at me through those damned half-moon glasses. He really believed in it. He really believed in me. According to me that proved once more that the barmy old fool really was loosing his marbles. Instead of going to Gryffindor Tower I entered the boy’s bathroom on one of the upper floors of the castle and locked myself up in one of the cubicles, deciding I wasn’t yet ready to face a whole common room of fellow Gryffindor students who, naturally, would have already heard the story about their hero being a bloody Slytherin by now. I let my head down sink into my hands when I sat down on the toilet, not willing to give in to tears. Weeping in a toilet cubicle was something girls did when they were upset; it was not something a sixteen year old boy was supposed to do. I breathed a few times slowly; tears were still burning in the corners of my eyes but I knew they would fade away slowly if I waited. I took my handkerchief out of the pocket of my black slacks and suddenly a small razor blade fell on the ground with a tinkle. I picked it up, eyeing it longingly. Yesterday I had put it in there when Fred and George suddenly had stormed into my room in the Leaky Cauldron to hand me over a last amount of candy fro their joke shop so I would be able to have some fun during the term. I ran my index finger gently over the sharp edge. I took off my black robes and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt, feeling hypnotised by the blade. It would only take a few minutes. I just need to feel it... in my skin... I just want to forget my other pain for once... Just for once... I was breathing sharply as I dug the blade in my skin. So fragile... I closed my eyes for a moment to get past the initial wave of pain and adrenaline. A voice in the back of my mind was screaming at me, screaming that I was just one fucked up person who was sick for doing something like this. I ignored it, and guided the blade further down the older scar. I gulped in some breaths, thinking about all the things that had happened during the past months... As if suddenly waking from my trance I took my handkerchief and wrapped it using my teeth and free left hand firmly around the cuts in my right arm, trying to stop the bleeding. The cuts were bleeding quite heavily, and my handkerchief was already soaked in blood. I readjusted the white sleeves of my shirt feeling an odd mixture of guilt, relief and dismay. I knew the blood would ooze through the material of my shirt really soon as well but I wouldn’t be able to bandage it till I was in the dormitories anyway. I got out of the cubicle to find the bathroom empty. Luckily. So I went towards the sink to wash my hands. My reflection in the mirror looked worn out and the slightly open shirt, loosened tie and extremely messy black hair didn’t exactly improve that image. Do I really have to face all other students today? Yes, I need to face the other students today. What kind of fucked up question is that? If I don’t they might think I am too much of a coward to do so, which I am not. When I had made myself somewhat presentable I exited the bathroom. I was ready for the confrontation I had wanted to postpone as long as possible. “Carpe diem.” I mumbled when I reached the Fat Lady who was looking at me with wide eyes, full of sadness and disappointment. I ignored her. Talk about an ironical password... I got through the portrait hole and walked tentatively into the common room. That I was ready for the confrontation didn’t mean I was happy with it. As I had dreaded everyone in the room fell silent, except for a second year who had been explaining the rules of Exploding Snap to a first year I vaguely remembered as someone called Justin Hobbes, obviously a Muggle-born. They too fell silent when they noticed I had entered. This is just great. As I started climbing the stairs towards the sixth-year’s boy’s dormitories I heard someone calling after me. “Is it true what they say?” I heard, “Are you really a Slytherin?” I turned around and smirked when I faced the small boy who had shouted. I couldn’t deny he was kind of brave. I saw Ron eyeing me suspiciously from behind a book (Had he actually been reading? I asked myself, laughing at the thought. My question was answered though, when I saw he was holding it upside-down. I guess not.) “What do you think?” I snapped, looking piercingly in the boy’s dark eyes. I could tell he was scared, but nevertheless he was looking at me in challengingly, his arms crosses in front of his chest. The boy obviously didn’t know what to answer. Poor boy, being humiliated in front of a whole common room of Gryffindors wasn’t exactly something most people would call fun; but I didn’t really care at the moment. Without another word I ran up the stairs and I entered the dorm, slamming the door shut behind me, and collapsed on the bed, shutting the curtains around it. I didn’t take notice of Dean or Seamus sitting on the bed next to mine, talking in low voices. I’m just making things worse. I thought miserably. If I keep acting like this, people might actually think I would like being a Slytherin, which, of course, is complete nonsense. I closed my eyes in an attempt to set my mind at ease, and spread my arms above my head. It would have been easy to fall asleep like this if not suddenly a twinge had crossed my scar, making me clutch my forehead. I only just managed not to scream out. The pain vanished as abruptly as it had come. I could feel a jolt of fiendish joy in my stomach right after, which I was quite sure was not related to my current feelings or thoughts. Bloody Dark Lord. I can’t even relax on my bed in case he manages to intrude in my mind. No, hold on. This time it was I who had invaded Voldemort’s mind. Or at least I think I did, without realising it. It was already dark in the dormitory when I opened my curtains later that evening, and judging by the snores of Neville, I guessed it was quite late already. I got out of the bed, careful not to wake anyone, and silently I sneaked some bandages in the pocket of my robes before I went to the bathroom. Once I had removed my robes I concluded that I really was fortunate for being obliged to wear black school robes at Hogwarts. The sleeve was soaked. After wrapping the bandages around my still stinging wrist, I stared into the mirror and ran my finger over my scar. It looked perfectly normal but still I couldn’t help but wonder about what exactly had caused the sudden happiness Voldemort had experienced a couple of hours ago.
“You really don’t look good, Harry. Is something wrong? Didn’t you sleep well?” “No I’m fine, Hermione. Thanks,” I mumbled when I looked up from my breakfast to find her plumping down next to me on the bench in the Great Hall. She didn’t seem to get my irony. If I wasn’t looking very good or wasn’t feeling at all well then it had something to do with the fact that my life was so incredibly fucked up, partly thanks to her. It was a pity she seemed to have realised ignoring just wouldn’t do. I swallowed. “Uh, Hermione, about yesterday... I just want you to know that-” Blast it! Ron came strolling towards the House Table as well, by which he immediately made sure I could not possibly finish my sentence and therefore couldn’t tell her that ‘the kiss’ had meant nothing to me at all and that I hoped she would never do something like that ever again. Ron sat down on the other side of Hermione and pecked her nervously on the cheek. She blushed. I rolled my eyes and started buttering my toast; Ron was still angry with me and still ignoring me, of course, so he didn’t notice this. I remembered how Hermione had told me last year about Ron being a hopeless case; I didn’t understand it back then, but now I thought I did. If my girlfriend would kiss me in such superficial way... I decided to dismiss that train of thoughts, especially when I saw Cho Chang waving at me from the Ravenclaw House Table again. Did she never get tired of annoying me? I still don’t get why she is trying to catch my attention all the time. Why didn’t she just get it that I was not interested in her any more; is that so hard to understand? I shivered when I thought of the time she had left me at Madam Puddifoot’s on Valentine’s Day last year; it was etched in my memory as a highly painful and most embarrassing moment. I could still see the look on Davies’s face when Cho had started shouting at me. My pondering was cut off abruptly when someone hit me hard on the back of my head. “Ouch! What did you do that for?” I snapped, jerking my head around in annoyance, while rubbing the painful spot on my head. Seamus, who had been sitting next to me, was staring dreamily at someone standing near the entrance; his hand was still hovering in mid-air. Confused I looked at the entrance to the Great Hall and soon found the source of Seamus’ odd behaviour: no-one less but Fleur Delacour was standing in the doorway. It was only now that I noticed most of the other boys were goggling open-mouthed at her as well, even though I could not quite understand why. Yes, she was pretty, but still... Fleur was staring happily around the Hall, acting as if she didn’t notice all the attention she was getting while Dumbledore was talking to her escorting her towards the Staff table. I wondered vaguely why she was here to begin with, when it hit me that she probably was the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Great, everyone would surely manage to pay attention to the lessons if she was teaching. Ron was making odd sounds in the back of his throat. Hermione kept muttering ‘Honestly!’ under her breath, prodding him irately in the ribs in an attempt to catch his attention. But even if she would have been standing stark-naked in the middle of Hall, dancing the Polka, I doubted that he would have noticed. Why hadn’t Fleur been at the Sorting Ceremony yesterday, anyway? “Wow,” Ron breathed at last, when Fleur had finally seated herself at the Staff table. I frowned but said nothing. This had not been the first time he had seen Fleur, so why, in the name of Heaven, did he look like he was stoned as a shrimp from the moment he laid his eyes on her? The same question could be asked for all the other completely paralysed blokes as well though. Maybe her Veela powers had strengthened somehow since the last time they had seen her. “Maybe next time she walks in we should keep a tank ready to catch your drool?” Hermione asked with an extreme amount of venom in her words. Ron’s ears went red. He and Hermione both remained completely silent during breakfast and even when we went to the dungeons to attend our first lesson that term, they still didn’t talk, which didn’t really bother me. It struck me that Hermione still hadn’t asked me anything about the Sorting, or rather the talk I had given afterwards, but I guessed she was just waiting for the right opportunity. I sat down at the back of the classroom in my usual spot; Hermione went to sit in the front. Ron wasn’t there, and even though I was still quite angry with him I considered asking Hermione about this, when Snape strode into the room. Hurriedly I took out some parchment, my books and a quill and pretended to be reading attentively, in case Snape would try to find another way to dock House points from Gryffindor on the pretext that I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson closely enough. He hadn’t been too happy when he had first realised he still needed to teach me for another two years (probably he hadn’t expected I would actually pass my O.W.L.’s for Potions), so I knew he would like to punish me dearly for making it into his N.E.W.T. classes. “Mr Potter,” I looked up from my books, not exactly surprised to see once again, a dangerously smirking Snape standing at the front of the class, watching me with that trademark look of pure loathing in his eyes, “let’s see if you had time to study Potions during the summer holidays, shall we?” Right. Of course, that greasy git would ask me a question to open his bloody lesson. How stupid of me not to think of that. “Can you tell me why toads are such an important ingredient the Madness Mixture?” A few rows in front of me Hermione was practically jumping up and down with an outstretched arm to make it clear that she knew the answer. But unfortunately for her, I knew it too. “A toad secretes some sort of liquid, known to wizard-kind as ‘toadsmilk’. It causes hallucinations, and, when administered in great doses, instant insanity.” Ha! When you’ve got nothing to do for two whole months schoolbooks might look enticing sometimes. Hermione looked somewhat disappointed. “Well, Potter. As you seem to have studied the subject matter so well, I guess I’ll have to ask you a more difficult question to test your knowledge, right?” You’re getting predictable, Snape. Snape stared through the dungeon for a moment as if trying to think of a question, worthy of being my downfall. Damn. He’d probably ask something utterly difficult and it wasn’t like I had learned the entire Magical Drafts and Potion by heart. The sneer playing on Snape’s lips became more pronounced. He seemed to have found a suitable question. “Maybe you can tell me why toadsmilk is not to be used lightly in Potions?” I frowned slightly, looking down at my notes. Even Hermione hadn’t put up her hand this time. Damnit! I knew exactly where in the book I had read it… I could still see the page in front of me as if burned on my retina. There had been more than half a page about toadsmilk, but only one or two sentences about the dangers... My mind was racing. “Toadsmilk is a really dangerous ingredient, because uh...” A quick grin crossed my lips when I remembered the answer: “Toadsmilk is a really dangerous ingredient because it has got the same effects as a remedy against some sort of digitalis, which strengthens the contraction of the heart muscle and simultaneously slows down the heartbeat. This can lead to a cardiac arrest if not administered in a proper dose.” The look on Snape’s face was just to die for. But unfortunately for me he recovered quickly from his shock. “It seems like Mr Potter has finally found a way to read a book. Or maybe...” He breathed deeply through his nose, “five points from Gryffindor, Potter. I don’t know how you did it, but somehow you managed to converse with Granger without words so she could tell you the answer.” My mouth dropped open in utter disbelief. Draco Malfoy laughed openly, as did a few of the other Slytherins. “I did not!” I shouted. Most of the other students were muttering in assent. “Hermione didn’t even know the answer!” Snape glowered at me. “Silence Potter! And another twenty points from Gryffindor for your insolence. You will serve detention tomorrow at five o’clock in my office!” “What?!” I exclaimed. I must say I was more than a little surprised to find Seamus yelling at Snape as well: “But sir, you can’t do that! We’ve got Quidditch practice tomorrow! Harry is our Captain! You can’t possibly give him detention for answering correctly!” I watched Snape tower over Seamus menacingly. “Is that so, Mr Finnigan?” He asked in a dangerously low voice, “Watch me...” He strode back towards the front of the classroom; I must say he looked downright frightening. “Twenty points from Gryffindor because Finnigan found it necessary to interfere, and if anyone else dares to contradict me in any way during this lesson it will be fifty. Now get to work, instructions are on the blackboard!” He waved his wand dismissively at the blackboard and the instructions appeared. I spent the rest of the lesson thinking of all possible ways to feed Snape Toadsmilk without him noticing it and without making it look like murder. “Thanks for supporting me in front of Snape, mate,” I said stopping Seamus before walking out at the end of the class. “I know it didn’t really help but still...” “Don’t think I did that for you,” he snapped, “I just don’t want us miss a Quidditch practice because you got yourself into trouble again!” He walked away angrily while I just stared at him in disbelief. “Seems like your little Gryffindor friends don’t really like the fact that their hero turned out to be a Snake, huh?” Malfoy jeered, watching me with crossed arms. He was leaning nonchalantly against a wall, and his usual body-guards were nowhere to be seen. Snape had already left the Dungeon as well. “I can’t really see why, but still I think that bloody Sorting Hat really has lost its marbles if it wanted to put you in Slytherin House. You’d never be worthy of that.” “Shut it, Malfoy. As if I ever wanted to be placed in a House as disgraceful as yours.” He walked over to me, his grey eyes filled with hatred. “Tut-tut. After all these years you still don’t realise what’s the best for you; all those Muggles and Mudbloods really have fogged your mind. Not that I didn’t know that already,” He wetted his lips slowly with his tongue, his expression dangerous, “you’re going to regret this someday, Potter. The Dark Lord will make you pay eventually. I will make you pay.” And with that he too left the Dungeon. ------------- I hope you all enjoyed reading it :) Please review. Happy holidays! Love, Deborah

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