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Lily's Thorn

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Severus woke up early the next morning, as per usual. Last night had gone as well as could be expected. Harry had answered everything correctly, and any awkwardness he might have shown only served to further the situation the young man would have actually been in. Today was another test for Harry. They were going to buy his books and such at Diagon Alley. First, though, Severus had a few things that he wanted to accomplish before they met up with the Malfoys after lunch.

Severus made them some quick breakfast before going and waking Harry up. He had told him that they would be getting up early. He went into his room and turned on the lights. The young man under the covers groaned. "Get up," Severus ordered. "I told you we were getting up early, did I not?"

Harry groaned and slowly removed the covers. "Okay, I'll be right there," he said, his voice groggy.

Severus was satisfied with that and went back downstairs into the kitchen and dining room. He set the food on the table to make it easier and quicker. He had cooked lightly this morning, because they would be exercising, after all. They would get what they needed for now, and they would replace what they burned later. Harry slowly dragged himself in. He grabbed himself a cup of coffee and sat heavily down in the chair across from Severus. He wordlessly started eating. The two ate in silence. 

They cleaned up, and then Severus lead into an open area of the floor. They were both already wearing comfortable clothing for this, so that was convenient. They stretched out their muscles and such as they let the food settle.

"Why are we doing this?" Harry asked.

Severus groaned. "So, we don't hurt ourselves, obviously." After they had finished, Severus led Harry outside. They started with a run. After walking and occasionally running around Hogwarts, he felt that Harry should manage just fine with a mile run. He kept up a decent pace, though, to see how Harry managed. After they had made it back to the yard, they cooled down before switching to other exercises. By the end, they worked out every muscle in their bodies. Harry, the younger of the two, was breathing more heavily. 

Severus stared at Harry for a moment before speaking. "You are younger, yet you're the one that is in more pain."

Harry glared at him. "I haven't done that in… well, I'm not sure if I ever have," he said. "I thought I was in decent shape, you know, walking around Hogwarts and all, but… apparently not.

Severus smirked. "The more you do it, the more used to it you will be." 

Harry nodded. "Why are we doing this again?"

"Greater strength and endurance when dealing with enemies," Severus responded. Harry nodded, and he led the boy inside. He went down to get him a potion to relieve the soreness he was feeling. "Here, take this. It will help with the soreness." Harry nodded and took the potion without another word. 

Severus made them a snack to eat. After they were done with that, he suggested that they both go and take a shower. He went downstairs, grabbing a book to read as Harry walked down. He handed the boy another potion to do. This time, he added in a few tips based on what had gone wrong with the last potion - namely, to be as exact as possible. Harry groaned but trudged off downstairs to the potions lab without another word. Severus continued to read until Harry trudged up the stairs almost an hour later. 

"I'm done," he told him.

"We shall see," he said, setting his book down and then leading the boy back downstairs. Harry had tried to take the notes to heart, but it was clear that there was still more work to do. "Better," he said. "You still have room for improvement, but better."

Severus was surprised at the smile that broke out on Harry's face. Why was he smiling? He had merely said that he was showing improvement. There were much higher compliments, though admittedly not necessarily from him. Then the boy's smile turned into a smirk. "I told you that it was the teacher," Harry said. That earned him a glare from Severus.

"Moving on," Severus said, leading Harry right past the stairway into the second room of the basement. He opened it with a tap of his wand. The room was completely empty, and he knew this confused Harry. He stood in the center of the room, directing Harry to stand a few feet in front of him. "I'm sure you think very highly of yourself when it comes to defense. You will find you are mistaken."

"But we can't do magic outside of school?" Harry asked.

"You are not going to get caught," Severus told him, rolling his eyes. "I live here. The Ministry cannot determine who spells in an area are cast by when there are is more than one magical user. You lived in the Muggle World with Muggles, and therefore, any magic was your doing. You were also Harry Potter, and you must realize that the Ministry would watch you a bit more closely. You are not any more, though, yes?" Harry nodded.

Severus raised his wand, indicating for Harry to do the same. The boy did so. "I do not see the need to go with the formal dueling technique. Your opponent would not, I assure you," Severus told him. "Okay, we shall start with the basics, yes? Attempt to disarm me." Harry nodded. "Very well, then. On the count of three. One." Severus, of course, had never planned on waiting. "Expelliarmus!" Harry's wand flew out his of hand and right into Severus's own. 

Harry stood there, shocked and wandless. "You said three."

"Do you really think that your opponent, be it the Dark Lord himself or a Death Eater, would give you proper time?" Severus asked. He was fairly certain that boy could hear the tone in his voice, one that clearly said that he should have known better.

Harry's shock visibly lessened. "I suppose that makes sense."

"You suppose?"

"Can I have my wand back now?" Severus threw Harry his wand; the seeker caught it deftly in midair. "Again?" Harry asked.

Severus nodded. "On the count of three." Again, Severus only counted to one, but in Harry's defense, he tried to be more prepared and yelled Expelliarmus a split second before Severus himself did. Both wands flew out of their hands. A smirk crossed Potter's face. "You are learning. At least now, you have your opponents wand. However, your opponent has yours." With that, Severus held up Harry's wand as proof of that statement. "Keep trying to disarm." They switched wands and went back at it again.

Severus was no longer trying to disarm him, though. Instead, he would put a shield charm or such other protections made to prevent Harry's spell from taking his wand from him. Harry was mostly unsuccessful, but there was a decided difference in his demeanor from the exercising or the potions. He wanted to do this, and it showed. He tried harder, sometimes a little too hard. He wouldn't use the disarming spell on its own but tried to pair with other spells to surprise Severus. 

"You are too predictable," Severus told him as they began to wind down. "You need to start working on being able to use the spells without saying them aloud. This will take time, though, and is something that you don't typically start learning until next year." Harry nodded, and the two went upstairs to lunch.

"When do we have to meet the Malfoys?" Harry asked.

"Soon," Severus replied. "As soon as we are finished here, we need to leave."

"I can't believe I have to hang out with Draco ," Harry said off-handedly.

"You did well enough last night," Severus told him.

Harry shrugged. "Yeah," he said. "I guess he's not that bad, but he's still a pompous, selfish little git." Severus didn't argue with him on that one. "He did give me a broom, though, since I can't keep my Firebolt. He also wants me to try out for the Slytherin Quidditch Team - he assumes I'll be in Slytherin."

"Naturally," Severus agreed, although the thought of him trying out for them was concerning.

Harry seemed to debate over something before deciding to ask. "No matter what house I was in, do you think I could…? Try out for the team that is?" Harry asked. "I mean, not as a Seeker, obviously. That would be too risky. I think Draco's under the impression that I should be a Chaser because Draco would never suggest challenging him."

Severus thought it over. There were risks, and he knew that Dumbledore would disapprove. However, that old man had no say-so in Harry's life any more. There was no reason the boy couldn't try out. Besides, Draco would be one of the ones most likely to recognize Harry's flying style. The youngest Malfoy hadn't given any indication that he'd noticed anything whatsoever, and if he had, Severus would have surely been called last night.

"Very well," Severus respond. "Any position but Seeker."

Harry nodded, breaking out in a huge smile. "Thank you! I just couldn't imagine going without Quidditch. Actually, I was thinking Chaser."

It wasn't too much longer before they were on their way to Diagon Alley. They Flooed there and then walked out onto the street. It didn't take them long before they spotted those that they were there to meet. All the typical greetings were exchanged. Draco didn't waste any time in engaging 'Jacob' in conversation. 

"Where shall we start?" Draco asked him. Harry looked around at the adults and shrugged his shoulders. 

"Why don't you two start with your robes?" Lucius offered. "Surely, you both need them. We can get some of your things and meet you there."

Severus detested the idea and felt the boys should have to help out. Draco, however, had already agreed and started walking down the street. Harry shrugged and followed him.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry followed Draco down the street of Diagon Alley. It was clear that the blond had no intention of being in a hurry today. "So," Draco was saying, "Mother was saying that we should have everyone over on Sunday, so two days from now. Do you think that'll be okay for you?"

Harry shrugged. "I guess so," he told Draco. "I'd have to ask Severus." 

"I don't think you'll have a problem getting him to agree," Draco said, with that manner that if it came from a Malfoy, why would anyone dare to disagree? It annoyed Harry to no end.

Draco stopped by Quality Quidditch Supplies, pausing outside the window to look at the Firebolt. "Ever ridden one?" he asked Harry.

Harry shook his head. "No." He would have to explain how he, a loner, had come in contact with one. "I hear they're amazing."

Draco nodded. "I've been trying to convince my father to get me one, but he refuses," Draco told him. "Sees it as unnecessary, even though Saint Potter has one."

Harry froze for a second and knew that he should have foreseen that Draco would start talking about...  well, himself. "Who?" he decided on saying. "Oh, right…. Harry Potter. You go to school with him."

Draco nodded. "He thinks he's so wonderful…" Draco said. "Oh, look, there he is now, with the Weasel and Granger in tow." 

It was the weirdest sensation. Harry followed Draco's gaze, and there was… well, Harry. It was like seeing your double. He stared for a moment. Sirius looked just like him. Ron was being a bit stoic, which he expected after their argument yesterday. Hermione was perfectly normal, though. It felt like he had stepped into some strange alternate universe. He knew he looked different, but it was hard to remember you were seeing someone who looked the way you were supposed to look.

Sirius, who looked like Harry Potter, turned his gaze towards them and glared. "Malfoy," he said, and Harry to fight the urge to shudder and hearing his old voice coming out of someone else's mouth when that someone looked like his old self and that someone… Oh, yeah, so this was giving him a headache.

" Potter," Draco sneered. 

Harry looked in between Draco and Sirius/Harry and decided seeing Draco beat up his godfather in disguise was probably not the best idea. "Er, Draco, let's go… We're supposed to be at Madam Malkins, right?" he said. He tugged at Draco's arm, and the blond followed him down the street. "I take it you're not fond of each other."

"They think they're self-entitled," Draco told him. "Just because Potter's famous and has a scar, he thinks he's better than everyone else. You won't like them, either, trust me."

A wave of anger rushed through Harry and knew he couldn't keep his mouth shut any longer. "Okay, I can't take this any more," Harry said, turning towards Draco and stopping both of them right there in the middle of the street. "You will not tell me what - or who - I do or do not like. That is my decision to make, not yours. Maybe your friends at school follow you willingly, but I will not."

Draco looked taken aback, and it was a few moments before he spoke again. "I didn't mean for it that way," the blond said. "I just meant that he annoys me. I didn't mean to offend." He seemed kind of startled, actually, but Harry hadn't been about to just stand there and listen to him go on about what he should or would like. 

After that, Draco acted like the argument hadn't happened. They made their way to Madam Malkin's and were both getting fitted and measured for robes when the adults came by. They had bought some, but not all of the necessary ingredients, while they were waiting. It wasn't too much later before the robes were done, and the group was off down the street. They picked up a few more things on the way before heading into Flourish & Blotts.

As it so happened, the Weasleys were there. "Harry"/Sirius was refusing to buy his school things because he said he didn't need them yet and would get them later. Of course, they knew that he wouldn't be seen again, but the rest of the Weasleys couldn't know that.

Harry was paying as little attention to the group as possible as he and Severus bought his books. The Malfoys were right behind them. "Draco," Harry said, hanging back, figuring he needed to play his part. "Why were they all staring at me? Potter, Granger, and the others…?" He was sure that he'd seen other classmates there, too, staring, but those were the ones that had stood out to him for obvious reasons.

"Weasleys. Disgrace to wizardkind, if you ask me. Anyway, you look like the Professor a bit," Draco answered. "They're probably confused and can't put two and two together."

Harry shrugged his shoulders. The Malfoy's said that they were going to head back home. After they made their way back down the street, Harry turned to Severus. "I was wondering if we could stop by the Magical Menagerie," he asked.

Severus nodded. "Very well," he said, and then they made their way down the street to the Magical Menagerie. 

Harry looked around, but the idea of getting another owl just made him miss Hedwig. He was about to ask Severus if they could leave when he spotted something over in the corner. Harry walked over and spotted a small, tiny black kitten in the corner of the store. The kitten wasn't caged even, and couldn't be more than a few months old. There was something about the way the kitten's green eyes stared at him. He picked it up and made his way to the front of the store. 

Severus raised an eyebrow at him but didn't say anything. "How much?" he asked the shop worker. 

The shop worker raised an eyebrow as well. "Oh, that tiny thing… She's the runt. What about these over here?" She pointed to some other kittens playing nearby. 

Harry shook his head. "No, I want her," he said. The shop worker charged him half price for the tiny thing. They bought everything else the kitten would require, and then they headed home.

~~~~~~~~~~

When they got back from Diagon Alley, Severus immediately grabbed Harry's Arithmancy and Ancient Runes books and made a list of what Harry needed to know to pass the assessment. He also made up study guides for the other subjects, too, even some in addition to the potions work he was already doing. Personally, Harry thought he was going a bit overboard. 

Harry spent the rest of the afternoon, either studying or watching the kitten. She hid under his bed for a long time, but finally came out after a couple of hours, and laid on the bed next to him. He saw a name in one of the books that he picked out for her - Moirai, which apparently meant Fates in Ancient Greek. Somehow, he thought it fit.

Around dinner time, Harry went downstairs and helped Severus finish up. He knew that he didn't need help, but honestly, Harry didn't mind cooking. Besides, he wanted to feel useful. They had to learn to deal with each other, and considering that they'd only been at this a couple of days, he thought they were doing all right. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they got into a yelling match, but at least they were both trying to work with what had happened.

They finally sat down for dinner. "Did you pick out a name for it ?" Severus asked.

Harry rolled his eyes. " Her name is Moirai," he said, "and she has come to love my bed." He paused for a second before asking the next question. "Are we starting the Occlumency training tonight?"

Severus nodded. "Yes, that was the plan. Why do you ask?"

Harry shrugged. "Just curious." Honestly, though, he was nervous. "How is it going to work?"

"You will find out," Severus told him. "There's no reason to obsess over details." Harry supposed that was true. Severus rolled his eyes and continued on. "We will start with meditation training before we actually start using Occlumency. We will talk more about it later."

Harry nodded again, feeling that was fair enough. Occlumency seemed very difficult, and he wasn't sure if he was ever going to get the hang of it. He owed it to himself to at least try. It did seem a handy skill, but despite the fact that they were related by blood, he was not Severus. Occlumency required a lot of control of your emotions and your mind. Perhaps that was why Severus was starting with meditation training instead of going straight to Occlumency.

Harry and Severus played chess afterward. Of course, Severus won. "Why do you beat me at everything?" Harry asked.

"I do not," Severus said. "I am a good flyer, but I am not a Quidditch player. You could probably beat me in a game if I cared to play, which I do not."

"Dueling, chess -"

"Age and experience."

Harry nodded. It was frustrating, though. It wasn't that he was used to winning, because that was far from the truth. What annoyed him more than anything was that it seemed he was not making progress. It hasn't been that long, Harry thought to himself. Give it time. " I will get you eventually," Harry said with a smirk. 

Severus smirked back at him. "You can try." They played another game of chess before Severus went down to his lab to work.

Harry went back to studying and reading, but Moirai was getting more comfortable and wanted attention. It seemed she appreciated him saving her from the Magical Menagerie. She purred every time he touched her and then would step on his books or lay on them as he was trying to read. She wouldn't come off unless he gave her the attention she asked for. 

Once Moirai was satisfied, she went up and laid on his pillow. "You know, I have to put my head there tonight when I go to bed," he told her. Her response was to make a small noise, almost as if she was saying that she had heard him. She stayed right where she was, though. He noticed that she hadn't left his room, though, and wondered how adventurous she would get.

Later on that night, Severus came back into Harry's room and told him it was time to do Occlumency training because they had another early morning. Harry wasn't sure he would ever get used to it. Getting up for school was one thing, but he had never needed to worry about that during the summer. 

Severus materialized a chair to sit in. Harry sat up against the headboard, moving Moirai over. "Now, close your eyes, get in a comfortable position and clear your mind," Severus said slowly. "Clear your mind of all thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Anything that could be a distraction." He went on like that for a couple of minutes. Harry was trying to concentrate on his voice and what he was saying, but the whole time thoughts kept creeping in. Was this going to work? Is there a point to this? Will I ever be able to do this? It made it quite distracting.

Then, Severus's words began to change. "Now, picture something blocking your mind from all outside intrusions," he said. "You can picture a wall of stone, fire, water, earth, air. It doesn't matter which one you choose, only that you choose one and stick with it. Imagine what you choose surrounding your mind and protecting you from everything outside it." He went on like that for another few minutes.

Harry was trying, really, but this was just so… How were you supposed to do this? Just picture it? He didn't understand meditation. He listened to Severus's voice, but eventually, he dropped off and stopped speaking. Harry then started feeling rather stupid. Why were they just sitting there? He tried to clear his mind again, but it was harder for him to do now that he'd broken whatever little concentrate that he'd had. 

After a while, Severus spoke again. "Okay, we are done for tonight. Open up your eyes." Harry did as he was told. "How do you feel? Did you listen to what I was saying?"

"Listened, yes… Implemented, er, probably not."

Severus gave a heavy sigh and rolled his eyes. "You are supposed to be trying to feel the shield around your mind," he told him. "This is step one!"

"I'm trying!" Harry said, levelling Severus with a glare.

"Then prove it!" Severus told him. "This is an important, very useful skill. You must actually try to do it, and not just let it happen. It doesn't work that way."

"I know that," Harry told him, crossing his arms. "It's not that easy. At least not for me."

"Because you are not trying hard enough," Severus said, standing up. "Pay more attention tomorrow night, and keep reading the book I gave you in your spare time. Now go to sleep. We have another early morning."

Harry rolled his eyes at him but got ready for bed. He wasn't sure he would ever get this Occlumency thing.