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Lily's Thorn

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After breakfast the next morning, Harry headed to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. That was where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was. He hadn't been in there since second year, though he had seen Myrtle last year. When he got there, Hermione was already there, patiently waiting. "How long have you been here?" He asked her.

Hermione shrugged. "Only a couple minutes," she said. "Now we're just waiting on your dad." Harry nodded. "So, you got detention with Umbridge?" Harry sighed and then proceeded to fill her in on what happened as best as he could. Even though no one else was around, this was still a public place. Anyone could walk in. "Jacob, you really shouldn't lose your temper like that." Apparently, Hermione agreed.

Harry nodded again. "Yes, I know, but I couldn't help it," he said. 

"I tried to warn you."

"I know."

"We had the same problem in our class. Me, Dean, and even Parvati were speaking up about it, but she threatened us with detention, and well…" Hermione shrugged her shoulders.

"Yeah, no, I understand," he said. "I don't know when to stop. The detention with my dad wasn't much better." He explained what he'd been forced to do.

"That's difficult, especially for you," Hermione said. She was about to say something else when the door opened, and his father walked in. 

"I trust that you are both ready," he said.

Harry was half-tempted to say that they'd been waiting on him , but decided against it. Luckily, it didn't seem as Myrtle was out today, so he walked over to the sink and found the snake on the faucet. Taking a deep breath, he said, " Open ," hoping it was in Parseltongue. It was, and the opening to the Chamber of Secrets appeared. Harry looked around at Severus and Hermione, neither of whom had ever been down here before. "Yeah, it's not pleasant, so you know." They both nodded. "Me first, I guess." With that, he then slid down the slide, finding himself in the Chamber once again.

His last memories of being here were not pleasant. He had nearly died saving Ginny and fighting off Riddle's memory from the diary. It was just as filthy as he remembered. The snake's dead body was farther up, but bones and huge snake skins still riddled the floor. 

Severus and Hermione were right behind him. They both looked around the room. "You weren't joking," Hermione said. "I heard about this, of course, but…"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, it's pretty bad in here," he said. "Now, there are only two rooms, really. There's this one, with the bones and the snakeskin and the next big one with a giant body of a dead Basilisk. There's more room in the next one, though."

"Yes, let's go into the next one," Severus said. "I will deal with the Basilisk's corpse." Harry led them out, and as they left, Severus muttered a spell. Flames could be heard from behind them.

"What was that?" He asked.

"If we're coming here every week, there's no need to keep all the bones," Severus explained. Harry nodded and continued to lead them through the hallway into the last giant room. Salazar Slytherin's face still greeted them and laying right through the middle of it. Severus raised his wand and uttered a spell. The basilisk's body disintegrated. His father waved his wand again, and the air cleared a bit from the spell of the dead body. "There, that's better. Now, face each other." Harry and Hermione did as they were told. "You're going to be practicing nonverbal spells. This is typically something that you won't learn until next year, but I feel it's a useful skill to have. Don't worry if you cannot master it right away."

Harry and Hermione began dueling. Even Hermione struggled with using non-verbal spells, but she was very persistent and kept trying. Every time Harry tried to use one, he failed. Severus just yelled at them to concentrate, to picture the words of the spell and what they do. It wasn't that easy, though, at least not for them. 

~~~~~~~~~

After they were done with their session, they made their way out of the Chamber. Hermione was commenting on how much harder it was doing nonverbals and was going on about how handy it would be once they had conquered this skill. Severus reminded them about visualization, and also about exercising. Hermione surprised him by saying that she had continued to do so. "I get up early while everyone is asleep, and go down to the common room to exercise," she said, "then I go up and get in the shower. About this time, Parvati and Lavender are up and starting their routine. Sophie and Layla are just waking up."

"Who?"

"Sophie Roper and Layla Moon," Hermione said, and then it dawned on him who they were. "Seriously, Harry, you've had classes with them for the past four years. How do you not know them?

About that time, they reached the slide, which didn't go up. "So, how exactly are we going to get back up?" He asked. "The method we used last time doesn't work this time, I'm afraid." Somehow, he didn't think he could call Fawkes to them again. 

Severus sighed and tapped his wand against the slide. Notches appeared that would allow them to go up the slide. Shortly, they were all back up in Myrtle's bathroom. Hermione said she would go and check to see if the coast was clear. Severus promised to see him tomorrow, and then Hermione popped her back into say everything was good. They left, both Severus and Harry heading back to the dungeons.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry parted ways with his father and headed back towards the common room. Draco was sitting on the couch with some of their classmates. 'There you are," Draco said, looking up as Harry was walking by. "I thought you were avoiding us."

"No, I was with my dad," he said, which was the truth. "And now I'm going to study since I still have detention later."

"Yeah, how did that go?" Draco asked him as the blonde followed him back to their dorm, leaving their friends back in the common room. 

Harry shrugged. "Fine, I guess," he said.

"What did he make you do?"

"Stare at the wall."

Draco raised an eyebrow in confusion, and Harry didn't blame him. He realized only after saying it that he probably should have just lied. "Wait, he made you stare at the wall?" After all, it wasn't as if he didn't know what Severus's detentions were usually like.

"He's been trying to teach me meditation, but I haven't been as diligent, so he did it to make sure that I tried," Harry explained, hoping that explanation was sufficient. 

Draco seemed to accept it because he shrugged as he walked over to his bed. "So, did you want to study together?" He asked as he gathered his stuff.

Harry looked over at him and shrugged. "Sure, why not?" He gathered his things, and they said goodbye to their friends before heading to the Great Hall for a quick lunch before heading to the library.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry and Draco made their way to the library. As they arrived, they found Hermione coming up to them. "Hi," she said to them. "Do I mind if we study together?" 

Harry shrugged, looking over at Draco. The blonde shrugged back. The three of them made their way over to the table. Draco sat next to him while Hermione was sitting across from him. Harry began to work on his Potions homework because he didn't want to screw up on that. He was writing down notes, with one book in front of him. Hermione had three, while Draco had one book in front of him. He felt Draco elbow him in the side. "What?" He asked.

"Don't write that," he said.

"Write what?" Harry felt like he had missed something.  That wasn't entirely unusual, but still…

Draco leaned over and scratched out a few lines on his parchment. "That," he said. "You're getting off-topic. Your father doesn't want to hear about that. He wants to hear about this." He pointed his quill a couple of areas of the book. "And this." He scratched a note on the parchment. 

Harry looked at the spots on the book Draco had motioned at and wrote them down. That did make more sense. "Thanks," he said, going back to work. Of course, the blonde didn't hesitate to make a suggestion or two later as the afternoon went on, but he never overly helped him. Harry always took it as pointing him in the right direction, just like he had the other day. He would tell him to expand more here or take out that part there - things like that.

"You should let Jacob do more of his own work," Hermione mentioned.

"I am," Draco said. "You don't see me writing it for him. Like you never did that for Weasley and Potter?" Hermione opened her mouth to argue, and then just went back to work. That caused Draco to smirk. "Speaking of which, you and Weasley have a fight or something? You sat with us the other day in Potions, quite unusual sitting with the Slytherins, and now you're studying with us."

"Is that a problem?" Hermione asked. "Tiring of my company or something?"

"Of course, since day one, but that's not why I ask," Draco said. "Besides, is it a crime to be observant?"

Hermione glared at him. "Actually, for your information, yes, we did," Hermione said. "I'm tired of his shit. Not that it's any of your business. Besides, you two can study just as well with me here."

Draco waved off her statement, and once again, Harry felt like he was missing something. Why did the blonde care if Hermione sat with them or not? He didn't have to say yes. Harry would have understood. It wasn't as if they were ever going to be friends, not really. He expected as much. The fact that they were civil to each other on his behalf made things a lot easier on him because he needed both of them right now for different reasons - Hermione as a link to his old life and Draco as the anchor to his new. 

As they were leaving for dinner, Harry told Draco that he didn't need to say yes to allowing Hermione to study with him. "Is she your friend?" Draco asked in response. Harry nodded. "I'll deal, then." That ended the conversation right there.

~~~~~~~~~~~

When they got back to the common room, there was a notice on the blackboard - Quidditch tryouts were Tuesday after dinner. He hadn't noticed that earlier. "When did that go up?" he asked Draco.

"Last night," Draco responded. "You are trying out, aren't you?"

Harry nodded. He would miss Quidditch too much if he quit, though he knew that would also miss being Seeker. He had done it for three years. Of course, he didn't count last year since there had been no Quidditch due to the Triwizard Tournament. "Yes, I told you my dad said it was fine."

"Just making sure," Draco told him.

"You'd never let me live it down if I didn't." Harry turned to him and gave him a smirk.

Draco smirked back. "Of course not," he said. "You're more talented than most of the saps that are going to be trying out."

Harry didn't doubt that, despite the fact that he was a Seeker and not a Chaser. Perhaps that would work out in his favor, though. The Gryffindor tryouts had been last night, according to Hermione. She had mentioned it offhandedly to them after they'd left the library. Draco had been so sure that the Gryffindor team wouldn't stand a chance now without their 'Star Seeker.' Hermione had simply smiled and told him not to be so sure. Draco asked her who the new Seeker was. She paused and simply said that Ginny Weasley had been named the new Seeker, and Ron was the new Keeper.

Harry knew that Ron would be happy about that, although he wasn't sure how he felt about playing on opposite sides. He was surprised by Ginny, though, but he figured although she was probably a fine flyer; there had been no one else trying out. In a way, he felt bad for what happened because he knew how put out the Gryffindors had been about his loss. It wasn't as if there was anything he could do about it, though, and he was certainly more than just a Quidditch player, which seemed to be the main reason why they missed him.

"Who is the Captain again?" Harry asked the blonde.

"Montague," Draco said, pointing him out. "Remember? I could have sworn I mentioned that."

Harry shrugged. "I'm sure you did," he said, looking over. Montague was friends with Pucey and Warrington, both of whom had been members before. He knew he was better than either of them and certainly faster, but it remained to be seen if Montague would put him on the team over his friends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry had another detention with Severus that night. The next day, the school was buzzing with the new Daily Prophet article announcing that Umbridge had been made High Inquisitor. Apparently, an Educational Decree had been passed, and that's why she had been given the vacant Defense Professor position. The teachers were all going to be inspected. The Slytherins couldn't wait for Severus to be inspected.

When Harry went to see Severus, he seemed to be working on something. When he asked his father what it was, he told him it wasn't important. They spent the day together the next day. His father gave him a wand holster, like the one he had, and said he'd ordered it for him. Harry thanked him. They ate, talked a bit, and played chess - of course, Harry still lost. He still, technically, had detention that night. As the night was coming to a close, he mentioned to Severus. "That callous twit," his father said. "I have better things to do than oversee worthless detentions that I did not assign and were not warranted in the first place. Go back to your dorm and do your homework. If anyone asks, you did your detention today."

Harry was not going to moan about that. When he got back to the dorm, he complained about constantly losing to his father when they played chess. Draco just laughed, saying that, of course, he lost to Severus. Apparently, Severus and Lucius played chess and went back and forth. Draco had never beaten either of them, but he said he managed to beat most of Slytherin house, whether or not that was true remained to seen, though.

~~~~~~~~~~

Monday's first class brought the last new class, Arithmancy. That was followed by Double Potions. Hermione sat with him and Draco again. They handed in their moonstones essays as Severus handed back their grades for the Draught of Peace they'd done last week. Harry noticed with shock that he'd gotten an E. An E! There was only one grade higher than that. As he looked around, he noticed that both Hermione and Draco on either side of him had gotten that grade - an O. Figures , he thought to himself.

Things had been different before. He and Ron had typically gotten the same grades, or at least neither of them had ever gotten Hermione's grades. It hadn't seemed that bad, but it was hard to feel good about an E when the two people on either side of you were getting O's - and always got O's. Still, though, it was by far the best grade he'd gotten in Potions. He wondered for a moment if it was because of the change in his relationship with Severus, but he quickly squashed that. Severus Snape was not the kind of man to do anything like that, which meant that he earned this grade. That meant that he had come a long way. He was proud of that, but it was hard when you were surrounded by the two best people in class.

Hermione and Draco both glanced over to see what he'd gotten on the potion. He was not ashamed of his grade. It was a good grade - for him, a great grade. He couldn't remember the last time he'd passed this class, let alone an E. Still, though, here he was, sitting in between two people with O's, who always got O's. Quickly, he pushed that out of his mind. This was better than he had ever done, and he wasn't going to let the fact that he was probably never going to get the grade he needed to get into his father's O.W.L. class bother him. At least not yet.

Today, they were working on a Strengthening Solution. Harry tried to be even more diligent than he had before. He still required a couple of nudges from Draco, though, but the potion turned out pretty well, he thought. It was still turquoise, though bluer than Hermione and Draco's. At least it better than Neville's whose potion had turned out pink, or Ron's whose turned out lime green. They bottled up their potions and set them on the desk. No homework was assigned, thankfully. Severus dismissed the class, and students started to pack.

"Mr. Snape, come here." Harry's head snapped up at his father's voice. It was still odd to be referred to as that, even more so by his own father. He understood that appearances must be kept up in class. It was still weird, though.

Harry walked up to him, hearing Hermione whisper something to Draco along the lines of 'shouldn't help.' He frowned a bit but continued to go up to his father's desk. "Yes, sir?"

"I received this sometime last night," Severus said. "I didn't find it until this morning." The rest of the class was packing up behind them. None of them seemed to pay him any mind as his father slipped an envelope over to him.

Harry's eyes widened as he saw the handwriting - it was from Sirius. He hadn't spoken to him since he and Dumbledore had come to get him from Privet Drive, the day of the change. That had been so long ago. The next time he'd seen him, Sirius had been in disguise as… well, him, as Harry Potter. They hadn't spoken, though he knew that Severus had to ask him to help them out. It wasn't that he hadn't thought about him; his life had just been crazy, and he had been trying to adjust to everything that had happened. He felt guilty now for not thinking about him writing him. He didn't think that Severus would have prevented it, though he knew the two despised each other.

"Don't open it," said Severus warningly. "Don't let anyone see it, and open it when you're alone."

Harry nodded. "Thank you." He wasn't sure what to do with it, or what the letter said. It was from Sirius, though! That was more than enough for him right now. He slipped it into his robes, not wanting anyone to see it. He turned around and went back to the table that he shared with Draco and Hermione.

They were in the middle of an argument. Hermione was in the middle of saying, "he'll never do the work on his own." It was clear that he had interrupted it, and probably, not a moment too soon. It sometimes seemed that they did nothing but argue.

"Seriously, you two, I was gone for like two seconds," he said, looking in between them as he walked past Hermione to start packing up his stuff. He was more than just a bit aggravated, especially since this time it was about him, not something they'd argued about before.

"Oh, Jacob, we were just -" Hermione started to say, but then her voice dropped off. "I mean -"

"She says I'm helping you too much," Draco said, having packed up his stuff. 

Hermione glared at him. "Well, you are."

"No, I'm not ," Draco said definitely. "Besides, if he didn't want my help, he wouldn't let me."

Harry rolled his eyes. Hermione had always helped him and Ron, and she had always helped Neville. "It's not a big deal," he said. "Besides, I wouldn't have gotten that grade without him."

"It was too much help," Hermione said. "He was nudging you all the time."

"No, I wasn't," said Draco. "Only when he needed it."

"He doesn't need it," Hermione said.

"Yes, actually, I do," he said, "and please don't talk about me as if I'm not here." That was more annoying than anything else, aside from the fact that Draco was right.

"Sorry," Hermione said, "but you can do it on your own. You're smart, you just... needed to apply yourself a bit. You are, but you'll never learn if Draco's helping you."

"If he wants to help me, he can," Harry said. "Besides, it's not as if I'm going to get the grade I need on my O.W.L to get into the N.E.W.T' .s level class anyway, and we all know it." He swung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of class. He heard footsteps behind him, and soon enough, Draco and Hermione had caught up. 

"That's not true," Hermione said. "Besides, the O.W.L's are a long way off. If you're getting that good of a grade now, you're sure to build on it." Harry nodded. He wasn't sure he believed her, but he had to admit, it would be nice if she was right. He glanced over at Draco, who nodded at him. "So, an O is the highest grade, right?" Hermione asked, apparently wanting to change the subject as they walked towards the Great Hall for lunch.

Draco explained that the passing grades were O for Outstanding, E for Exceeds Expectations, and A for Acceptable. He explained that the failing grades were P for Poor, D for Dreadful, and T for Troll. Harry noticed that when he said the last couple of grades, he was sneering. He was sure that someone like him couldn't imagine getting anything like that.

As soon as they walked into the Great Hall, two friendly and familiar voices came up behind them. Two arms went around Harry's shoulders. "Hey, Jakey," said Fred.

"Hey, Jakey," echoed George.

Harry smirked. "Hey, Fred. Hey, George." He hadn't thought that they would seriously call him that, but then again, he hadn't told them no.

"How did your first week at Hogwarts go?" Fred asked.

Harry shrugged. "Not bad," he said. "It's different, but I'm adjusting." It had helped to have Draco and Hermione - well, more Draco than Hermione since they were in the same house.

"Good to hear. See you later, Jakey," said George, before the twins walked off.

Hermione shook her head and said her goodbyes as well, before following them to the Gryffindor table. Draco, however, looked at him strangely as they headed over to the Slytherin table. "Jakey?" he said, unable to contain himself it seemed.

Harry laughed. "They want to call me that," he said. "It's not a big deal to me, though I seriously didn't think they would. They were with Hermione when we met." That was partially true because it hadn't occurred to him until now that he'd need an excuse as to how he knew that. Draco seemed to accept that explanation, and they ate before heading to their afternoon classes.

~~~~~~~~~~

Defense Against the Dark Arts was their first class after lunch, and they were all dreading it. It was the same as the first class - well, minus the yelling. Umbridge sat at the front of the class, watching them as they read the next chapter. Draco flipped ahead, before going back to their chapter, a look of annoyance on his face. Harry looked around, saw that Draco wasn't the only one frustrated. Theodore looked irritated, as well. After what happened last time, neither one of them said anything. 

Charms class was after that. When that was done, they went to dinner. Draco wanted to go to the library real quick, so Harry went with him. They studied for a bit, before heading back to the dorms. They studied for a bit more on a couch in the Slytherin common room before the blonde said he needed to go because he and Pansy had Prefect duties tonight. 

Draco wasn't back by the time Harry went to bed that night, but he went to bed early. He took that opportunity to read the letter from Sirius that Severus had given him earlier. He grabbed it off the bedside table where he'd set it after getting undressed and opened it.

Dear Harry,

I am sorry that I have not contacted you before now. I figured that you and Sn your father needed time to adjust to the new… situation. 

Harry read in between the lines. Sirius had needed some time to adjust, too. That was understandable, considering that he was now the son of one of my most hated enemies. The word father was was scrambled and messed up as if Sirius hadn't wanted to write it. He had a feeling that Remus might have had something to do with Snape being scratched out after only two letters and the words 'your father' being written instead.

I should have written sooner, though, and I'm sorry about that. It doesn't matter who your father is. James and Lily made me your godfather, and Snape can't change that. I would like to see you. I know you have a Hogsmeade weekend sometime next month. Let me know when you find out what it is. Snape can get the letters to us.

I hope your classes are going well and that you are adjusting to everything.

Sirius

P.S. Remus wants to see you, too. I told him about how you look now, but he wants to see new your new face. He hopes that you two are getting along okay. He also says hi.

A smile broke out across Harry's face. Sirius didn't seem to care that he hadn't written him either, or at least he hadn't mentioned anything about it. Quickly scrambling to his trunk, he got a quill and some ink and wrote down a quick letter.

Dear Sirius,

I'm glad you wrote. Yeah, we did need some time to adjust. It was a bit unusual getting used to, but having that month mostly to ourselves helped. School has been… different. I'm getting used to it, though. People treat me differently, but now because I'm a Snape, not because I'm 'Harry Potter.' I would love to see you, and Remus. I think our first Hogsmeade weekend is the first weekend in October, but I'll ask Dad to make sure.

Great to hear you from you. Classes are good.

Harry

Harry had opted to be a bit vague on the house thing. He hoped that Sirius already assumed that he was Slytherin now; he knew that Remus probably would. He quickly sealed the letter and set it in the drawer on his bedside table, promising to stop by his father's office to give it to him to send off. After that, he drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow night was the Quidditch tryouts, and he wanted to make sure he was fully rested.