The first Slytherin-Gryffindor fifth year Potions class initially started much the same as always, minus one significant difference.
Professor Snape burst through the door as he always did, only to be met by the sight of Harry Potter standing ramrod straight, his hands behind his back, and his surprisingly long hair slicked back neatly into a ponytail.
Severus was also surprised to see that the boy was no longer wearing his glasses, making his green eyes seem just that much more piercing.
"Potter, what the hell are you doing?" He demanded as he made his way up to the front of the room.
"I'm standing in respect to you sir," The boy answered—completely seriously, Severus was surprised to note.
If this was the boy's idea of a prank, then why weren't his nasty little friends doing it too? His eyes flicked over to the Weasley boy, and was pleased to see the boy's face curled up in a look of disgust.
"Very well, Potter," He said in a semi-exasperated voice. "Take a seat before you fall over."
"Yes sir," Came the crisp reply, as the boy quickly followed his instruction.
Severus found himself raising an eyebrow at the boy in curious annoyance. Just what was Potter's new ploy for that year anyways? If he thought he could turn over a new leaf in Potions, he'd have to do more than just change his behavior.
With that thought in mind, he decided to test the boy's knowledge a bit.
"Potter!" He barked.
"Name four poisonous plants all starting with the letter C," He said nastily, as the Gryffindor side of the room started grumbling and complaining about the unfairness of the request.
He wasn't at all prepared for the death glare that Potter then shot at his fellow Gryffindors, causing the room to become deathly silent as both Gryffindors and Slytherins waited with bated breath for his reply.
"Candelabras cactus, Carolina Jessamine, Chinaberry tree, and Castor Bean, sir," The boy rattled off quickly.
Snape found his eyes narrowing in surprise and suspicion at the boy's perfect answer, and decided that he wasn't quite finished with the boy yet.
"Correct, Potter," He ground out, mentally rolling his eyes over the exclamations of surprise throughout the room.
"Now can you tell me the Latin names for those plants you so inelegantly tossed out?"
A loud cry went up from the Gryffindor side of the room, but neither of them acknowledged the added noise. In fact, the boy neither reacted to them nor to his baiting, surprising him further. The boy barely blinked before giving him the requested information.
"Euphorbia lacteal, Gelsemium sempervirens, Melia azedarach, and Ricinus communis, sir," The boy answered crisply and perfectly.
Professor Snape felt a smirk coming upon his face and quickly stifled it.
As he turned back to his board, he settled for throwing in a shock of his own.
"Five points to Gryffindor, Mr Potter."
"Potter, stay after class. I wish to have a word with you," Severus said later that class period, after watching several failed attempts at creating what should have been a fairly simple antidote.
Potter however, had brewed a perfect specimen, further tweaking Severus's brain in the process. He had tried to lightly legilimize the boy, but had been thwarted there as well. It was an understatement of vast proportions to say that he was properly perplexed at the changes in the boy.
Normally the child's face was easily readable, but now, perhaps because of the differences in the boy's face, he found himself unable to decipher his student's emotions nearly as readily as before. He also found himself wondering about the cause of the angry red scar down the side of the boy's face that had appeared since the end of the last term.
After the other students had left the room, he motioned Potter over to his desk, where he was half-leaning, half-sitting back upon it. The pose had a tendency to frighten his students, as it meant that he was looming over them, and usually it was true for Potter as well, but as that day had shown him, it was not to be so.
"What is your explanation for your miraculous turnabout in class today?" He asked, his voice dripping with ill-disguised sarcastic disgust for the number of surprises he had been dealt that morning.
"I'm trying to distance myself from my father's legacy by taking a more hard nosed approach with my studies, sir," The boy said, standing upright before him, his face much more straight edged than Snape had ever seen on the lad.
"Indeed." Snape said, raising an eyebrow in curiosity. "Whom, may I ask, is your new model for success," He bit out sarcastically.
"My mother, sir," The boy replied promptly; not a trace of a smile on that far too serious face of his.
Snape found himself studying the boy more closely, finally realizing that a great many of the details that had reminded him of Potter Sr. were no longer as prominently featured.
"I hope this determination turns into something more than a passing interest of yours," He said, a threat clearly laced in his words.
"I intend for it to do so, sir. I have no desire to be associated with the memories of a lackadaisical and cruel buffoon for the rest of my days, sir."
Who had been feeding Potter these words? They sounded almost—intelligent.
"And well you might," He said with a small nod. "Do you need a note to your next class?"
"No sir, thank you sir," The boy said, hurriedly gathering up his belongings and exiting the classroom.
Snape stayed lost in thought for some time after the boy had left, his eyes narrowed in deep thought.
Instead of heading to lunch, Harry deviated his course by heading straight for the headmaster's office. Truth be told, he wasn't looking forwards to seeing the old man, but he'd be damned if he was going to suffer through another year of divination with that old fraud—especially since there were so many other pressing things on his plate now.
When he got to the gargoyle, he looked straight at its face, and demanded entry.
If he were inclined to smile, he would have when the gargoyle reluctantly creaked open, revealing the moving stairs leading upwards to Dumbledore's most sacred domain.
"Ah Harry, I was wondering when you were going to drop by," Dumbledore said before he even made it through the door. He scowled at the man for his accuracy, but otherwise merely nodded his reply to the man's jovial greeting.
"No, thank you."
Damned fool, he thought bitterly, as he sat lightly at the edge of the only straight backed chair in the room.
"What can I do for you, my boy?"
"Allow me to officially drop Divinition as a class," He said, speaking with terse, clipped tones to this man who had so very failed him.
The phrasing of his question was deliberate; indicating that he was going to stop going either way, but he would at least prefer to be official if he could at all help it.
"Why this sudden need to drop a class?" The man's eyes twinkled brightly at him, turning his stomach ever so slightly.
He knew that Dumbledore's reply was more about information hunting than any real concern for him.
"I need the time to focus on more important things," He said.
There, let the old man chew on THAT.
He watched Dumbledore as he slowly took off his glasses and cleaned them, before looking back at Harry.
"I know that Divinition is not your most favorite subject, but if you will remember, the initial decision to take this class was entirely your own."
"A younger and much more trusting me made that decision, sir," He said, gritting his teeth against the suddenly overwhelming desire to hex the man to bits where he sat.
"I know that you took Cedric's death very hard—as we all did," The headmaster said gravely, his eyes finally dimming and matching the waning evening sky that was present through the window on the far wall.
"True, that's some of what has forced me to grow up, but I think the largest part was your fault sir." He said, wishing he could punch the man in his thin, already broken nose.
"My fault?" Dumbledore asked with some surprise.
"If you had listened to me any in the past, you'd know what it was that I was talking about." He said bitterly.
"Harry, I—," The old man started to say, before Harry cut him off by abruptly getting to his feet.
"Let me just put it this way, sir," he said, with no little sarcasm on the word.
"After all the time I have spent with the Dursleys, I can certainly understand how the Dark Lord feels in regards to Muggles. When I reach my majority, you can bet that I'm going to pay them a visit," He said menacingly.
He became aware that his hands had curled into fists and he made a conscious effort to relax them.
"And furthermore, if he were not so hell bent on killing me, I think it would almost be worth seeing the look on your face for me to join him," He spat out, pointing his finger at the paling wizard before him.
"Don't worry about Divinition; I'm sure I'll be able to see another way around it. Good day sir," He said, turning on his heel and striding out of the damnable office before he really lost his control.
. . .
He lost his breakfast--little though it was--in the loo after his emotionally charged meeting with Dumbledore.
It was the other man’s fault that he lived with the Dursleys. Therefore, it was Dumbledore’s fault that his life was hell.
Voices--cries, really--assaulted his mind, and he lost several minutes as he stared at the wall behind the toilet.
When he came back, he cursed to find that time had skipped again.
Not enough time anyway, and now there’s even less.
Not too much time after that confrontation, Severus Snape found himself being summoned to Albus's office for a "chat." Albus had been far too serious when he had fire called him, and truth be told, he found the man to be much more worrisome when he was calm.
"Sir?" He said, after knocking on the door for entry. That he had been forced to knock on the door was merely another sign that something was wrong.
He entered his mentor's office with a sick feeling of unease firmly lodged in his gut, but he hid his feelings behind a stiff sneer.
After taking a seat and waving a hand at the ubiquitous lemon drops Albus always seemed to have in supply, he decided to stop the charade and just tell Albus to have out with it before the unspoken concern drove them both insane. Luckily for his reputation, Albus beat him to the punch.
"Have you seen young Harry today?" Albus asked, folding his hands together and leaning forwards towards him.
"I had class with Mr Potter just this morning," He admitted, purposely being obtuse about what the man was inquiring on.
Albus sighed and Severus watched the man as he seemed to literally age before his eyes. The wizard before him was weary and tired, not at all like his normal extravagant self.
"How did he seem to you?" Albus asked him softly.
Severus thought over that morning carefully before finally coming up with an answer that would not tell the other man too much of how he really felt.
"Indeed," Albus said, peering expectantly at him.
"What is it you want me to say?" He asked grumpily, crossing his arms decisively in front of him.
"You awarded him points, did you not?"
"I'm still allowed to do that, am I not?"
"You're evading, Severus."
"You, on the other hand Albus, are fishing for something." Severus accused, narrowing his eyes at the man across the desk from him.
"I am worried about him," The man admitted as he stood up and turned to the window, his hands crossed elegantly behind his back.
"Could you not say these things to him yourself?" Severus asked tiredly. He hated always having to play the part of the rational one. "Sometimes I wonder if I am not just a sounding board for you Albus," He muttered, none too quietly.
"Do you really feel that way?" Albus said, turning sharply to look at him sadly.
It was those looks that he despised the most; the looks that filled him with guilt when he thought about how much this man really had done for him.
"Not usually, no," He admitted reluctantly.
"I hope you would feel comfortable enough with me to let me know if someone was bothering you though, Severus."
He opened his mouth to reply that if he did that, they'd be there for the rest of the night—or even the week itself—before he realized the utter futility of it and closed it once more. He gave a sigh of his own and sat back in the chair, waiting for an explanation of Albus's mood that would hopefully make some kind of sense.
"I fear we may be losing him," The older man said finally after another lengthy pause.
"How so?" Severus asked, wishing Albus would get to his point, and preferably before midnight.
"He was in here earlier today, during lunch, hoping to drop Divinition from his schedule."
Severus grunted thoughtfully, remembering his own conversation with the boy.
"I asked him why, and that led us to discussing Cedric's death."
Severus looked up sharply at hearing the old man's words. He suspected rather strongly that the conversation had not gone nearly as smoothly as just that.
"And?" He asked, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice.
"He may have mentioned something about wanting revenge on his muggle relatives," Albus said vaguely.
Severus waited for the follow-up that he was sure to come. He was not to be disappointed.
"He said that it was thanks in part to both them, and me, that he can understand why Tom developed his particular opinion of muggles," Albus said with a deep sigh, finally taking his seat once again.
Severus' eyebrows lifted in surprise.
"I can see why that would disturb you," He murmured.
"Severus, I need you to keep an eye on him this term," The headmaster's voice was beseeching.
"I always have. You know that."
"More so this time around, if at all possible, Severus. I don't think I can stand the thought of—," Albus trailed off, looking ashamed.
Another mistake like me? Or Tom?
"I'll see what I can do," Severus said roughly.
"That's all I can ask, my dear boy. That's all I can ask," Albus said quietly as Severus took his leave of him, and headed back to the dungeons where he belonged.
Harry pushed past his dorm mates and headed for bed, aware of the whispers and looks that followed him, but too tired to really give a damn. After being surrounded by other people all day, his skin itched and crawled from being in contact with so many of them. Despite their touches being accidental, his system still responded to them as a threat, and as a result, his body was wound tighter than a Ravenclaw the week of exams. He could almost feel his magic leaking out as each touch had triggered him, and he had spent much of the afternoon trying to keep his anxiety and revulsion from exploding his surroundings. h
Mentally, is conversation with the old man had weighed on his mind all that afternoon and evening, and he was tired of trying to plan for all of the situations that might arise because of it. Most of all, he hoped that the conversation didn't get back to Professor Snape and cause him to think any less of Harry as a result.
He had done something that morning in the man's class, and he was proud of it. He had shown the man that he wasn't just another dimwit, and that he had the potential not to just be a clone of his father—inadvertently or not.
But the idea that he might have fecked it all up because of a meddlesome old man and his stupid ideas made him even more nauseated than he already was, which was saying something.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" A voice demanded as he stepped through the doorway of the fifth years' bedroom.
Oh. It was Ron. Great, just what he needed.
"I'm really tired Ron. Can't you yell at me tomorrow?" He said quietly, trying to push past the taller boy and get to his bed.
What he hadn't expected was for Ron to grab the front of his robes and bodily throw him backwards. He managed to stay on his feet, but only just.
"I'd expect that sort of action from some people, but not you Ron," He snarled.
"You're completely unbelievable, you know that Harry? I can't believe that you, of all people, are trying to suck up to Snape. He's a Slytherin. He's only in it for what he can get out of you." Ron bit out with more than a touch of cruelty.
"Maybe they're not all like that, Ron," He said in a low voice, already fingering his wand. "Maybe it's everybody else that I have to be worried about."
"What does the poor perfect Saviour have to be worried about, huh?" Ron spat. "Bet you'd suck his cock if he demanded it. I bet you'd enjoy it," He snarled.
He didn't even think about the words of the spell as his magic reacted for him, blindly reaching out for the arsehole in front of him and freezing him in his spot. He watched as Ron wavered for a moment before crashing backwards with a bang.
Quickly he shrunk down his trunk—he hadn't bothered to unpack, thanks to a feeling that he had already outstayed his welcome—and put it in an inside pocket. Then he went over to where Ron still lay and looked down at him angrily.
"I don't know why I put up with you for four years, but you can officially consider our friendship over. And if you value your balls, I wouldn't continue spouting off lies that you have no understanding of."
And then to emphasize his point, he lifted up his leg and stomped down hard on the other boy's crotch, eliciting a painful sounding howl from the clenched jaw of one red haired, floor level boy.
Harry turned on his heel and left with the intent never to return if at all possible.
He didn't even look back.
The next morning at breakfast, Hermione sat and anxiously picked at her food. She was watching for Harry and Ron, since no one had heard from either of them since the previous evening.
Over that summer, Ron had finally asked her to be his girlfriend; a state of being that she thought she'd love, but so far, things weren't turning out quite as she had predicted. In his own way, Ron was sweet to her, but he had a vicious streak that she apparently had never bothered to really notice before.
She had never known just how far his jealousy for Harry extended until she had been forced to listen to his complaints all summer long. Mostly the rants—for that's what they were—were focused on how Harry took too many things for granted, and how he didn't appreciate his fame enough. Ron had told her time and time again that if he were famous, he would do something great with his fame, but she knew from listening to Harry that there were plenty of downsides to being famous as well.
She wondered if Ron had ever stopped to really think about them. She knew that he didn't fully realize that Harry was jealous of him as well, for exactly the opposite reasons. The whole mess was idiotic, but the one and only time that she'd tried to point it out to him, he'd blown up at her, scaring her a little in process.
She had felt bad enough about it, that she had let him coerce her into finally having sex with him; something she felt incredibly idiotic about later on, but that's just the kind of effect he had on her. As with all things that he was deeply interested in, his attention and focus were extremely intense during the actual act itself; making her feel as though she were the only creature in the universe worthy of his attention and administrations of love.
She liked that part of it. The orgasms she had just by her own hand were paltry in comparison; nearly causing her to give up masturbating altogether.
It was Ron's angry outbursts that she honestly found herself fearful of; outbursts which, if she were honest with herself, she would have to admit were occurring at a higher and higher rate the longer she stayed with him.
She felt bad that she hadn't kept in better contact with Harry that summer. He had had a rough time of it that previous year, and Cedric's death certainly had not helped matters along any. She knew that his relatives were unpleasant, but she couldn't make herself believe that they were actually violent towards him. Surely Dumbledore would have removed him from such a situation, wouldn't he have?
Yet a small inner voice told her that if she wanted proof of that violence, she merely needed to look to that angry red scar running nearly the entire length of the left side of his face. Something had changed for her friend that past summer, but she wasn't sure if she could handle thinking about what might have happened to make him change this much.
Having decided that neither Ron nor Harry were going to show up that morning, she slowly gathered up her things and made her way to her first class of the day.
Oh Harry, she thought wistfully to the boy who had been one of her first friends in the wizarding world. What has happened to you?
Harry spent the night in an abandoned classroom, and actually had a restful night for the first time in a long while. He grabbed breakfast straight from the kitchens on his way to Charms, and by the grace of Merlin, managed to avoid seeing anyone he knew on that entire trek.
He knew that his luck was going to run out at some point, but he was surprised that he made it all the way through charms and then Transfiguration before it did. He was unsurprised to see that Ron did not make either class, but he was bothered by the fact that Hermione kept trying to speak to him; even after he had put her off several times.
"Mr Potter." Professor McGonagall said at the end of their class. "You will stay after class."
It wasn't a detention, but the tone of her voice coupled with the look on her face meant that whatever it was about wasn't going to be a good experience for him. The rest of the class knew it too, but wisely no one spoke to him—not even Hermione, or Granger, as he needed to start thinking of her again as.
He still scowled at them all after her announcement to him, even though he was fully aware that his was a mild and ultimately useless rebellion.
The class vacated the classroom at an unusually fast pace, while he merely reclined farther in his seat, making a point that he wasn't bothered by her words in the least.
Besides, what's the worst she can do? Smack me around?
He smirked at the thought, but dropped the expression when he saw her glaring at him.
"Mr Potter, I don't know what happened between you and Mr Weasley last night, but I don't want to hear of anything like it again, understand me?" She said, speaking in very short and clipped tones.
As long as I don't ever have to see that slime ball again, there won't be a problem.
"Yes ma'am," He said, trying to make his face seem earnest.
"And you will return to the Gryffindor dorms tonight. Do I make myself clear?"
Ah, he had a problem with that. Time to show her that he wasn't the same old loser without a backbone that he had been in previous years.
"Yes ma'am, you make yourself very clear. Unfortunately I can't comply," He said, leaning back and waiting for the likely explosion.
He wasn't disappointed.
"Excuse me? Mr Potter? And why are you suddenly too good for dorm life?"
Why does everyone think I live the life of a fucking prince?
"No, I'm just trying to keep from going to Azkaban until I've turned at least sixteen," He said, narrowing his eyes at her before grabbing his stuff and trying to make his way to the door.
"Where do you think you're going?" She exclaimed, her magic shutting the door forcefully in his face. "I don't believe that I had told you this conversation was finished," she said, her Scottish brogue becoming thicker with each word.
He flinched and turned back around. Having a locked door between him and freedom was making his heart race loudly in his ears, and he grimaced as he felt the telltale signs of a panic attack beginning to build.
"Fine! What?" He said throwing his stuff onto a nearby desk and taking a seat beside it, shoving his trembling fingers under the desk.
"I don't know what your problem is this year, but I suggest you lose it now."
"Or what? You'll take points?" He threw out in a mocking tone, reveling in the many new facial expressions he was causing her to make in reaction to him.
His heart was in his throat, and he couldn't swallow worth a damn.
"I believe the headmaster might be interested in speaking with you about this detrimental attitude of yours," She said, her eyes lighting up in what he only perceived as anger.
Her face told another story. If he had been able to look up, he would have noticed the almost desperate level of worry her face seemed pinched into.
"I really don't think he wants to talk to me anymore, professor. He's rather disappointed in me as well." He said with a sneer.
"And yet you seem not to care one whit. I wonder why not, Mr Potter?" She said, fixing an expectant and stony stare on him.
He could play that game. He stared steadily back at her, narrowing his eyes in anticipation of what punishment she would dish out for his latest transgression.
"I am putting you on probation from Quidditch," She said after a moment more.
"That should segue perfectly into my plans for quitting the team," He spat, smiling a cheerless snarl at her.
He heard her suddenly gasp inwards at his words, but he wasn't really watching her anymore. If he could survive his uncle—no, he was pointedly not thinking that thought!
"I am disappointed in you Mr Potter. I would think that you had more respect for your house than this."
Yay, guilt, he thought with no little embitterment on his part.
"If they would give me respect, I am certain that I could find a way to show them the same," He said, running a hand through his hair with more than a little agitation.
"I wonder what your father would say if he were here now," She said, speaking much more softly than before.
I am desperately worried about your son, Lily. The thought said, running through her head on a constant loop.
"I don't really give a damn what the cocksucker might have said, provided that he had lived," Harry said; knowing full and well that he had just crossed the line into the unforgivable.
He watched his professor march towards him angrily, her face becoming redder with each step, and he fought against the urge to run.
He wasn't going to be afraid of her or anyone else ever again, for that matter. He simple wasn't.
So it was no small surprise that he found himself in the headmaster's office for the second day in a row; only this time, he got the added bonus of having to listen to her rant about him for more than half an hour.
Oh joy, he thought sourly, actually openly rolling his eyes at her histrionics. They weren't doing anything for him, they hadn't helped him any; so why should he play their stupid games? What did he get out of it really?
It was all bullshit. Everything was bullshit. He tuned them out and pulled out his potions text to continue studying while they decided how best to punish him.
Really, he thought with a bitter snarl inwards, I think I've been punished enough. No one else has to put up with a summer of being repeatedly raped by one's guardian. Oh yeah, my life is real effing perfect. To hell with them. To hell with all of them.