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Lily's Thorn

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Harry only now noticed the buzzing that was going on in the Great Hall. He'd been so concerned about the sorting that he hadn't noticed. Everyone was talking about two things, and they were both about him. One - the disappearance of Harry Potter. Those who believed the Daily Prophet thought he was hiding because he was scared. Those who didn't, and believed Dumbledore, thought it was training. Others didn't know what to think. The Slytherins thought they had this year already conquered when it came to Quidditch. After all, without Potter… Two - the fact that Professor Snape had a son. He couldn't hear what was being said by the other houses, but he could only imagine the shock going through the Gryffindor table.

Harry got a good look at the staff table this time. He had been more concerned about getting sorted before. His eyes fell on the new face to the table - the new Defense teacher, Umbridge. She was dressed in pink from head to toe, and honestly, just looking at her made him a bit sick. He remembered what Severus had said, though - to not do anything to draw attention to himself. He had no idea when his first Defense class would be. Typically his favorite, he wasn't looking forward to it this time.  He tore his eyes away from the pink mess as the hat began to sing.

The hat's song this year started off by saying how great things had been when Hogwarts had first opened, and it mentioned great friendships - specifically Slytherin and Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Then, it started to get into the problems that arose in the school due to Slytherin's beliefs. The hat went on to sing that the houses solved the problem, but of course, Slytherin left the school and left the houses divided, "never once united as they were meant to be," the hat sang. It then flat out warned that sorting may be wrong, that external foes threatened the school, and that "we must unite inside her or we'll crumble from within."

Harry clapped along with everyone else and saw the song clearly for what it was - a warning. "Does it do that every year?" he asked, trying to keep up appearances as the 'new kid.' He wasn't sure how he felt about the concept of house unity at the moment. Before, he would never have associated with Draco. Now, the blond was pretty much his only friend in Slytherin house - and yes, he did use the term 'friend' when referring to Draco. 

Draco nodded from beside him. "Yes, every year it does a song before it starts sorting the first years," he explained, "but it's usually not in the form of a warning for house unity." He scoffed, and it was clear what the blond thought about that.

Harry looked around and saw nods coming from the others around them. It wasn't a popular opinion it would seem. He wasn't surprised, really, and knew the idea of uniting all four houses wouldn't work. After all, Gryffindor and Slytherin hated each other. Yet, here he was - a little of both. He glanced over at Hermione, who was talking with Ginny. She caught his eye and gave him a quick wave before going back to her conversation. Harry didn't plan on not being friends with her - or the twins for that matter. He didn't want to not be friends with Ron, either, but he wasn't sure where he stood with the redhead at the moment.

Ron had been wrong, and Harry wasn't going to go crawling back to him when he couldn't accept how things were now. Severus was his father, and that made him a Snape. Now, he was a Slytherin. Ron had to accept that, and get over whatever it was that was bothering him. If he didn't… well, Harry supposed he had other friends. 

Harry looked back at Draco for a moment before glancing at the staff table as Professor McGonagall, standing in front, started calling out student's names. The long line of first years dwindled one by one, from Evan Abercrombie into Gryffindor all the way down to Rose Zeller into Hufflepuff. Then, Dumbledore stood and announced the feast had begun. Food plates and goblets filled, and Harry's stomach started to rumble. He hadn't realized how hungry he was, so consumed he had been about his sorting. 

"I wonder who that woman is up there?" asked Daphne from the seat across from him. 

"Yeah, the one in the horrible pink clothes," Pansy echoed from the seat next to her, across from Draco.

"Umbridge, the new Defense teacher," Harry explained, getting some looks of surprise from the others around him. "She works for Fudge."

"What's she doing teaching here for?" asked Theodore from his left.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know, some interference from the Ministry," he said. He got some more surprised looks. "What? My father's a teacher, remember? You didn't hear any of this from me, though." He wasn't sure how much he was supposed to be telling them, but he didn't see any reason in not warning them. After all, they hadn't been all that bad to him. 

The talk of Umbridge died down after that, but after a few moments, Draco spoke up. "I told you you'd be in Slytherin." That dreaded smirk on his face again, the one that annoyed Harry and made him want to smack the smirk off the blond's pointed face.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't start," he said. "I never said I wouldn't be." That dreaded smirk didn't leave Draco's lips. The talk continued as they ate until, eventually, Dumbledore stood up and began giving the start of term notices. He had just introduced Grubbly-Plank and Umbridge when Umbridge herself interrupted. Dumbledore looked taken aback but allowed her to speak. There were some smirks and looks of surprise from some of the students, who clearly thought she was a bit crazy. Things were just not done that way at Hogwarts.

Umbridge went on… and on… and on. Harry wondered how long she could lecture. If this was the way, all her classes were going to be like… well, at least it was about Defense, right? She started by saying how great it was to be at Hogwarts and then went on and on about how change needed to be brought at Hogwarts. If he hadn't already been warned about her, he might not have understood completely. However, Severus had warned him. Combine that with her speech, and he wondered if it meant that the Ministry was interfering. That seemed to be what was going on.

Eventually, Umbridge stopped speaking as about half the students in the Hall had gone glassy-eyed. Dumbledore clapped, and most of the staff followed his lead. He noticed that a few of them only clapped once or twice before stopping - his father and McGonagall being among them. The Headmaster continued with the announcements, and most of the older students started talking again.

"What was that all about?" said Crabbe from the other side of Draco.

"Obvious, isn't it?" Draco said with a sneer.

Crabbe and Goyle gave blank looks, which only earned an eye roll from Draco. "It means the Ministry is interfering," said Theodore. "Probably not happy with how things are, I suppose."

"Rightly so," said Draco. "Dumbledore -"

"I don't like her," Harry said, interrupting before he could stop himself. He also had no wish to hear whatever Draco had been about to say about Dumbledore. "I have a bad feeling from her, and I've learned to trust my instincts." It also didn't hurt that Severus had given him a very clear warning about her, as well. If Severus told him to watch out, it was probably for a good reason.

At that moment, Dumbledore dismissed the students. Everyone started getting up. "Come on," Draco motioned for Harry to follow him.

Harry just stared at him. "What?"

"You're new here. I'm a Prefect."

"I'm not a First Year, though." 

Draco grabbed his hand and pulled him up. "Don't whine. Now come on," he said. "First Years, over here." The first years slowly gathered around him and Pansy, who had walked around the table to stand on the other side of Draco. It made Harry feel very out of place, as he was clearly the tallest person there, even taller than Draco, albeit only by a few inches. It was only then that Draco let go of his hand as if he hadn't done anything strange at all. "I'm Draco Malfoy, and this here is Pansy Parkinson. We are your Fifth Year Prefects. Now, follow us."

Harry followed along, wishing that he could have followed someone else - anyone else - instead of walking along with Draco, Pansy, and the First Years. He was a Fifth Year for crying out loud! Draco and Pansy explained some basic things about Hogwarts as they walked before they reached the wall that was the entrance to the Slytherin Dungeons. Severus had told him where it was, but he had already seen it before - he'd been here as a Second Year when he and Ron had disguised themselves as Crabbe and Goyle to talk to Draco.

" Sanctus," said Draco, and the wall opened up before them. "Don't write down or give out the password. Don't forget it, either, or you're waiting out here until someone comes around." The two Prefects led the group inside and gave them a speech very similar to what he'd heard in his first year from Percy. All the while, Harry remarked to himself how little the place had changed. Granted, he hadn't been paying much attention before. He did notice a warning about the Giant Squid coming by the window that looked out onto the lake. Now that was new. He hadn't even paid attention to it before.

Pansy took the girls, while Draco led him and the First Years into the boy's dorms. He showed the First Years their dorm before leading Harry to theirs. The door was marked Fifth Year . He opened it up. It had none of the warmth of Gryffindor, but it was not as cold and dank as he'd always thought it would be. The room was rectangular. His bed was the first bed on the right, and Draco told him the next was Blaise's followed by Draco's own. The door to the bathroom was on the wall directly in front of them. On the left wall, Goyle was right across from him, followed by Crabbe and Theodore across from Draco.

Moirai was scratching in her cage. "Okay, hold on," Harry moaned, going over and letting her out. She dove underneath the bed. He set up her box, and her food and water, before following everyone else's lead. He knew he'd gotten rather quiet. Draco asked if he was okay, and he's just replied, "a long day" before going to bed, with Moirai curled up at the foot of his bed.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry woke up with Moirai sleeping on his head, purring incredibly loudly. He smirked at her, scooting himself out from underneath her. He gave her a pet, scratching her head a bit. She got even happier, stretching a bit before curling back into a ball. He got up and got ready for the day. 

During breakfast, they got their schedules. As it turned out, he didn't have Potions or DADA until Thursday, as their first day's classes were actually on a Tuesday this year. Their first class was Double Herbology with the Ravenclaws. He'd never had any classes with the Ravenclaws before, which was obvious seeing as how Gryffindor always had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs and Potions with the Slytherins.

Harry wasn't sure how he felt about not having his father's class right off the bat. It wasn't that they didn't get along, but he had absolutely no fond memories of that class whatsoever. In fact, that class had been quite horrible for him over the years. He wasn't sure what it would feel like now that… well, now that things had changed, to put it simply. As for Defense… he had always looked forward to that class, and part of him still did. He hoped that it wouldn't be as bad as he thought, but he knew that if his father was warning him about Umbridge, then he needed to take that to heart.

After breakfast, the Slytherins went down to the greenhouses for their first class of the new year. They had a free period after that before lunch. After lunch, they had Charms and Transfiguration. Harry noticed how he always seemed to end up next to Draco in every class they were in. He found it didn't bother him as much as he had thought it should. He wasn't sure why or what he should think about it and put it out of his mind for the moment.

They were heading to the Great Hall for dinner when Severus caught him. He told Draco and the others to go on ahead and hung back a bit. 

"How was your first day?" Severus asked.

Harry shrugged. "Fine," he said. "Nothing exciting." 

"Good, then that means you haven't gotten in trouble yet."

Harry rolled his eyes. "It's not as if I go searching for trouble or anything," he said, a bit defensively. Trouble seemed to find him, and that was not his fault, was it?

"Of course not," Severus said, the sarcasm evident in his voice. "So, do you wish to have dinner tonight in my rooms? If you'd rather go with Draco and the others -"

Harry quickly cut him off. "No, I'd love to," he said. He knew that they had agreed to this, but it was great that their new routine was finally starting. 

Severus nodded. "Very well." With that, they headed back towards his rooms.

~~~~~~~~~

Severus led Harry back to his rooms. He had some dinner sent up from the kitchens before, hoping that his son would agree to eat with him tonight. "I have something to show you first." Harry looked a bit confused but followed him past the kitchen to the small hallway that connected to his bathroom and bedroom. There was another door there now.

"I don't remember that door being there before," Harry commented.

"That's because it wasn't," Severus said. He opened the door to show a second bedroom. "It connects to the room next door, which I had outfitted into a bedroom." The room had a good-sized bed with white sheets and a blue comforter. There was a dresser, and a closet, as well as end tables. All the wood was dark, nearly black. 

"Is it mine?" Harry said with fascination as he stepped closer to the now open door.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Obviously," he said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. "You are my son, do you imagine there's someone else who I would do this for?"

Harry looked over at him and smiled. "I imagine not," he said. Harry stepped into the room. It was very simple, but of course, Severus knew that Harry wouldn't be using this very much if it all. Harry looked over at him and was about to ask why when Severus answered the question for him.

"I thought you might need one," Severus said. "If you need to be alone, or your nightmares have been troubling you… You can come here. Just make sure you tell me you're here, so that I know, no matter what time it is." Harry nodded. "Have your nightmares been troubling you?" Severus was pretty sure they had because he had been hearing Harry moan in his sleep. "Why haven't you asked for more Dreamless Sleep?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I just… I ran out. You said it was addictive, and -"

"I appreciate that you were thinking about that, but I am a Potions Master," Severus pointed out. "If I thought it was becoming dangerous for you, I would say so. You should have asked." He led the boy out, and closed the door. Severus went into his bedroom momentarily and came out with a vial that he handed to Harry. "Here. Just take a few drops at night. If you need more, ask, but gentle with it."

Harry nodded. "Thank you."

Severus brushed off his thanks. "There is no need for that," Severus told him as they headed back to the kitchen where they dinner waited, the heating spell he'd put on it still in place. He removed the heating spell, as it was no longer necessary. They started to eat, making small talk as they did so. "How were your first day's classes?"

Harry shrugged. "Fine, I guess," he said. "Got some homework and all, but not bad. What about yours?"

Severus groaned. "It never fails, I start off every year with Gryffindor and Slytherin First Years," he said in between bites. "I think it's Dumbledore's never-ending plan to annoy me." He wouldn't doubt that at all. Harry did know what that old man could be like sometimes.

Harry just laughed. "I doubt that. It is a bit weird, though."

"I've been a teacher for fourteen years, and I always have that class on the first day, most of the time on the first class," Severus said.

Harry just chuckled. "I was in that class, remember?"

"Oh, yes, I remember," Severus said. "Try as I might to forget sometimes." Harry just rolled his eyes. A bit later, Severus spoke up again. "Did you do your meditation training last night?" Harry froze for a second and then didn't respond. The silence was all the answer that Severus needed. He had to fight the growing anger and fear that rose in him. "It's important." His voice was firm, with a harsh edge to it.

"I know."

"Then why didn't you do it?"

"I forgot."

Severus fought the urge to turn the table over in anger or either pummel or hex the boy. None of these were viable options, of course, so he just gripped the table hard with one hand, and his fork with the other. "You cannot simply forget. It is important. Your life depends on it. My life depends on it."

"Of course, that's what you care about," Harry said, defiance and anger in his voice. "That if I fail, it puts you at risk." With that, his green eyes swirling with fury, he stood up and turned to head for the door.

You were destined to have a bad temper, Severus thought to himself as he stood up to follow. Your mother had a wicked temper, but at least she wasn't prone to violence. " Harry, stop," he called out.

Harry turned around; his jaw set boldly. "Why?" Harry asked. "Just because you're good at it, doesn't mean that I ever will be! I can barely meditate, let alone do Occlumency! And then you sit there, and accuse me of not trying, like you always used to, almost as if you… almost as if you don't care. Well, I'm sorry." He turned to leave again.

Severus reached out, and hesitated for a moment, before putting a hand on his son's shoulder. That fear went through him again, fear that Harry would walk out the door and not want to come back. He wasn't sure he could take that. He had sworn he would not be like his father, but there was some of the old bastard in him whether he wanted it to be or not. "I am a difficult man. I am not a patient man, either," he said. "You of all people should know that." Harry looked back but didn't turn around. "Dumbledore discussed prior to us finding out the truth of your parentage about you possibly learning Occlumency from me, but it was I who suggested you start this early. This is not easy on either of us." Severus paused for a moment, telling himself that he needed to continue before forcing himself to do so. "You have to realize that I would keep you at arm's length if I didn't want you to be a part of my life."

Severus was not used to having to be so open, but he knew that for Harry's sake, it was necessary. Harry slowly turned around, the harshness and anger having passed. He was not used to being afraid of anything, and he knew that he was giving the Dark Lord an easy weakness he had never had before. He wondered what he would do if - no, when - the Dark Lord threatened his son. He felt fear that Harry would walk out of his life when they had come so far in so short a time. He also feared to lose Harry in the impending war. It was a bit overwhelming for him, and not feelings he was used to having.

"I know, Severus, I do," Harry said a bit calmer than before. "I know that you're trying, and you don't know how much I appreciate that. You have to realize that I'm not going to be as good at certain things as quickly as you are. And look, I promise to try harder with the whole meditation and Occlumency thing. Okay?"

Severus nodded. "Okay. Will you come back and eat now?"

Harry nodded, and the two made their way back into the kitchen. "The food is cold," he said as he sat down in front of Severus.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Good thing there's magic, then, isn't there?" He waved his hand over both plates, and the food instantly warmed.

"I love magic," Harry said with a smile as he tucked in. 

They made more small talk before Harry headed back to his dorm or the night. Severus dwelled on his thoughts as he prepared for bed that night. It was a bit shocking at how much things had changed recently. He would never have considered dropping his walls for anyone. He wasn't even sure when it happened, but ever so slowly, that young man was cracking his walls and forcing himself in. Had he always been like this and Severus just never noticed? He saw himself in the boy, yes, but he also saw Lily - not just physically, but even his personality seemed to be a blend of both of them.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry was glad that he and Severus had made it through their first major fight. For a moment there, things had seemed like the old days. He had seemed like the old Severus, the Professor that he'd hated for so many years. It had been more painful than he would have liked to admit. They had been fine in their little bubble together, with only Hermione and the Malfoys around, but now… They were back at school, in an environment that had been toxic for them before. Harry had been worried about this and was glad the two of them had worked through it. He supposed families did that, right?

Draco had asked why he hadn't met them for dinner, and Harry explained to him that he had dinner with Severus. The next morning, he had Ancient Runes. He was used to having every class with Hermione and the other Gryffindors, so it was nice to see her in this class. Hermione had a different class after that, but she caught him quickly to ask him how his first day went. He shrugged and said that it went fine and that he'd had dinner with Severus afterward. She told him that the Gryffindors felt like the wind had been taken from underneath them, and they pretty much believed they were done for the upcoming school year without their star Seeker. Harry shrugged, because as Jacob, he had no opinion, and as Harry… there wasn't anything he could do about it.

They had History of Magic after that. After lunch, the Slytherins had another empty period. Harry wanted to get a head start on his homework. He did not need a lecture from Severus about that. So, he went to the library, and Draco wanted to go with him. Theodore followed. As soon as they got there, Theodore parted ways with them. Harry hadn't really expected him to sit there and study with him or Draco. He hated that he had already had homework, but it wasn't as if he expected the teachers not to give homework just because it was the first week. They were already pushing the fact that the O.W.L exams were at the end of the year, which their "entire future" depended on. As if he didn't have enough to worry about.

Harry started going through the bookcases. He had to act like he didn't know his way around. Admittedly, he didn't know his way around the library as well as Hermione, but who did? He faked it by asking a couple of questions, to keep up appearances, and doing more looking around than was necessary. Draco didn't seem to think anything of it. Harry found a couple of books that would be helpful for his homework and found a table to sit down at. It was not more than a minute later before Draco came over and sat down across from him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

It hadn't escaped Harry's notice that Draco always seemed to be around him. Sure, he did consider Draco a friend, but during class, during lunch, in the common room… the blond was never far. It wasn't a coincidence, that was for sure. He found he didn't mind it, though he did find it a bit weird. He put it out of his mind and started going through the books, writing down as many notes as he could for the homework that he had been assigned.

"Don't write that." 

Harry was a bit startled after he heard Draco speaking to him. He looked up to see the blond looking right at him. "What? Why not?"

"It's unnecessary information," Draco said. "You're only wasting your time. That's not what Professor Babbling wants to know."

Harry his quill down. "And what, pray tell, does she want to see?"

Draco leaned across the table, and marked out a couple of lines, putting checkmarks near a few others. "Less of that, and more of that."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked, frowning at the notes.

Draco nodded. "Of course," he said. He then explained exactly why Harry was wrong, in his typical arrogant manner. 

After Draco was done, Harry knew he was right, but he was also a tad annoyed. He knew he was scowling a bit now, but he scratched out more notes and added more of what the blond had suggested. "Do you have to be right about everything?" Harry asked before he could stop himself. "And why are you helping me, anyway?"

Draco didn't even look at up as he responded. "Yes, actually, I do, if you must know. Also, you asked for help. You didn't think that was going to stop just because we came back to school, did you? You admitted you weren't that good at Ancient Runes or Arithmancy. You are fairly intelligent as well, and my friend or I wouldn't bother."

For some reason, the words took Harry aback. Draco had said it very simply as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the blond still hadn't looked up from his own studying. Harry watched him for another moment, trying to figure him out, before going back to his own note-taking. They finished up their work before putting the books back and heading to Charms. It was only as they were leaving that they saw Theodore again, who told them he'd been studying at a table in the back of the library.

Harry had Charms class after that, their first repeated class. After that, they went to dinner before heading back to the Slytherin Common Room. That night, Harry looked at his schedule for the next day - Double Potions, and then after lunch, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration. He wasn't sure how either Potions or Defense were going to go now. Either way, tomorrow should be interesting.