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I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

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I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 1

Another attack. With each next day the Death Eaters were becoming more and more bold.
That was what Harry read in Daily Prophet. And he knew it to be true. He feared what would come next. Right now everything was possible.
Voldemort and the Death Eaters were a real danger. Not only to the Wizarding World, but also to the Muggles.
That meant no one was safe.
-I like your newspaper.
At the sound of someone's voice Harry looked up.
It was the waitress who worked at the cafe he was currently sitting in, at the train station.
-Really ?
-Yeah. The pictures are moving-she pointed to the paper-I saw it once.
He was fairly sure that they weren't talking about the same paper. The girl was just trying to find a reason to talk to him.
Harry just nodded. He wasn't sure what else he could do or say, besides he really wasn't in a mood for company.
The girl seemed nice, but...
-I better go back to work-she finally said. She was disappointed.
Another nod.
With a deep sigh the girl turned around and went to take order from a new customer.
Harry thought it wasn't right. He should tell her something. He should explain.
He got up and was already making his way towards her, when he saw something with the corner of his eye.
He stopped.
No. Was it really...?
Dumbledore.
*******
What was he doing here ?
No, that thing was obvious. He was here to see Harry. Somehow Dumbledore always knew where he would be.
Better question was:Why he wanted to see Harry.
That was the only thought on Harry's mind when he finally stood next to his Headmaster.
-This train station is exceptionally dingy-the wizard said.
Harry shrugged.
-I have always liked watching trains. It makes me calm.
It really did.
But the train also meant trip, adventure, escape. You could just get into one an go somewhere. Anywhere. For as long as you wanted.
It's freedom.
Harry looked over at Dumbledore. His arms were folded, and only because of that Harry noticed that there was something wrong with the man's right hand.
Something terribly wrong.
It was black, as if Dumbledore kept it in fire for too long. Harry literally expected it to just turn into ash with the smallest gust of wind.
The older wizard must have sensed that Harry was staring.
-It doesn't look good, does it ?-he said with a chuckle-It is a curious story, really. But for another time.
Another time ? Harry wanted to hear all of it now. He was intrigued. Did Dumbledore do this to him by accident, or was it someone else ? How ? When ?
-Hold onto my arm.
Harry shook his head.
-What ?
-Do it.
*******
If he ate something at that cafe he would have thrown up. With all the somersaults that his stomach did, he was sure of it.
-It was Apparition, wasn't it ?
-Oh, yes-Dumbledore said, looking at him with a smile-You did really good. Most people throw up during their first time.
-I'm not surprised.
Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. Fresh air managed to calm his stomach.
When he opened his eyes and looked around he noticed that Dumbledore was already on his way somewhere, without doubt expecting Harry to follow him, so he quickly run up to him.
-Where are we ?
-In a nice village Budleigh Babberton. You're probably wondering what we are doing here.
Harry smiled.
-After all these years at school, nothing will surprise me.
After a short walk they stopped in front of one of the houses. It looked very much like the others and only when Harry looked closer he noticed what was wrong.
Someone or something broke down the front door.
-Take out your wand.
Dumbledore didn't need to tell him that twice. Harry's hand was already on his wand.
They walked inside. It was completely dark, the only light came from their wands.
The whole place was ruined. Furniture was broken, walls had holes, the chandelier was on the floor, in pieces.
What could have happened here ?
-Horace ?-the wizard whispered.
So, Dumbledore knew the person who lived here, whoever that was. Harry wondered if said someone was still here and more importantly, whether he was alright.
-Horace ?
Harry followed his Headmaster slowly, looking around. What for, he didn't know. And that was the problem. He didn't know what could happen.
The broken glass creaked under his shoes, making him look down.
He spotted remains of some paper. He thought it could have been the Daily Prophet. Suddenly a red drop appeared on it. Then another, and another.
It certainly wasn't rain.
Harry looked up and and pointed his wand to the ceiling to get a better look.
One of the drops fell exactly in the middle of his forehead. When he tried to remove it Dumbledore caught his wrist stopping him.
Harry looked at him confused. The old wizard wiped it off and took a look.
A sound came from behind them, something like a spring in an old sofa or armchair.
And indeed it was an armchair.
To Harry there was nothing interesting in it, but Dumbledore clearly thought otherwise.
The way he approached the piece of furniture was a little amusing, as if he expected it to jump at him any minute.
And jump he did. The second Dumbledore's wand touch it.
Earlier Harry said that there was nothing that could surprise him. Well, it turned out he was wrong. Of all the things that he could expect to happen tonight it for sure wasn't that.
There was no armchair. In its place stood a man. Harry never met a wizard who was able to turn into a furniture, he didn't even know it was possible. Animals, yes. But this ?
-Merlin's beard, that hurt !
Dumbledore laughed.
-I must say you were a very convincing armchair, Horace.
So this is Horace.
He looked rather pleased after Dumbledore's comment. But then he frowned in confusion.
-So, what betrayed me ?
-Dragon's blood-the Headmaster replied.
Oh, so that's what it was.
-Harry, I want you to meet my old friend, Horace Slughorn. Horace, for sure you know who he is.
Horace smiled.
-Harry Potter.
Harry nodded with a weak smile.
-Are you expecting someone, Horace ?
-The Death Eaters have tried to recruit me for a year, do you know what it's like ?-he went to look out the window- I never stay in one place for more than a week. The owners of this house are on the Canary Islands.
-Don't you think we should clean before they come back ?
One motion of Dumbledore's wand was all it took. Everything came back to its shape and place.
The broken glass and furniture, the chandelier, the paint and plaster that fell of the walls and ceiling.
No holes, no dust.
Harry looked around with a smile. He was sure that magic will always be able to amaze him.
Dumbledore turned to Horace.
-And done. Could I use the bathroom ?
-Yes, of course. And I know exactly why you are here. The answer is still NO.
When the Headmaster walked past Harry he noticed a smirk on the old man's face. That meant that he wasn't going to give up, and that he knew very well that he would get what he wanted. Horace just didn't know it yet.
Harry looked back at Slughorn, who was now watching him carefully.
-You look just like your father. Except for the eyes.
-My mother's eyes, yes.
Horace nodded with a small smile.
-Lily. Sweet Lily-for a moment Harry thought that he saw something nostalgic in the man's eyes-She was so smart. It is interesting, when you consider the fact that she was Muggle-born.
-My friend is Muggle-born. She is the best in our year.
Hermione.
It happened again. During the whole summer whenever he thought about her, he would feel this incredible warmth in his whole body. He felt so calm, and yet intrigued. He couldn't wait to see her.
Maybe it was because of all the letters they wrote to each other in the past two months. She ended each one with Love, Hermione. She did it before, but this time it was so different, it felt different.
-Don't think that I have something against it-Horace said quickly-No, no. Lily was my favourite student. Look.
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts. He will have time to think about it later.
He followed Slughorn to a big cabinet in the corner of the room. There was a lot of framed pitures on it, and all were moving. For sure it didn't belong to the owners of this house.
-My children-Horace said proudly-I mean my students. I have taught all of them-he pointed to one of the photos- Barnabas Cuffe, he is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet. He still wants to know my opinion about current affairs. That is Gwenog Jones. She is the captain of Holyhead Harpies, I have free tickets for every game.
But Harry wasn't listening.
All his attention was on the picture in front of him. A Slytherin Quidditch team and next to it Slughorn.
The man who was sitting in front of everyone else, probably the captain, looked familiar. Long, brown hair, those eyes, handsome face. Could it be...?
Horace must have realized what Harry is looking at.
-Oh, yes, Regulus Black.
Regulus ?
-Without a doubt you knew his brother, Sirius. He died a few weeks ago.
Harry felt how his hand, the one that held the picture, started trembling. He blinked a few times to block the tears.
Sirius. He thought about him every day since his death. How he could have stopped it, he could have helped.
He was naive enough to think that everything would finally change. That he would have a family, a real home. But everything ended before it even had a chance to start.
-I taught everyone from their family, except for Sirius-Slughorn gave a big sigh-Such a pity.
-Harry ?
Dumbledore walked in.
-Ready ?
Harry nodded quickly and moved to stand next to his Headmaster.
-You're leaving ?-Horace asked.
He sounded...disappointed ?
Dumbledore smiled.
-I know when it is better to withdraw. It would have been a great honor if you agreed to come back to Hogwarts, but...You and Harry have a lot in common. Both unpredictable and full of surprises.
Back to Hogwarts ? To be a teacher ? No, there must be more.
-Well, goodbye Horace.
Harry nodded in farewell and without a second glance followed the wizard.
They barely closed the door when Slughorn caught up with them.
Dumbledore didn't look surprised at all. Of course. He knew.
-Fine ! But I want higher salary and better office. Not like last time ! We live in difficult times.
And just like that he went back inside.
For a minute they walked in silence.
-Honestly, why did you need me here ?
Yes, why. Harry didn't do anything special. In fact he did nothing.
-You're famous. You have great power. Slughorn values these features. He will want you in his collection. You would be his crown jewel.
Collection ? Oh, yes. The cabinet with all those pictures. So that is why he kept all of them. Although, Harry wasn't sure if he wanted to end up there.
-It is very important, Harry. Very.
They stopped at the end of the street.
-I hope I didn't ruin your plans for the evening.
Harry frowned. Plans ? He meant the girl from that cafe ?
Well, by the look on the old wizard face, yes, he did.
Harry started to wonder how long Dumbledore was actually standing there. Watching him.
-No. I didn't have any plans.
-Alright. Let's go. Everything is waiting for you-once again he offered Harry his arm.
What ? Waiting ? Where ?
The confusion on his face must have been very obvious.
-You will see.
*******
The Burrow.
He should have expected that.
On the other hand he learnt the disadvantage of Apparition. Because the Burrow could mean the house or the grounds around it, like the swamp. Unfortunately, in his case it was the second option, and that is why he was currently standing ankle-deep in a very big puddle.
-Great...-Harry muttered under his breath.
You have to be very focused and precise while you're thinking about the place you want to go.
And Dumbledore clearly wasn't either of those things, or he decided it would be funny.
Luckily Harry remembered the spell for drying and he used as soon as he stood on the solid ground.
He was planning on visiting Ron and his family, he even had it in mind to write to him tonight. Well, right now he didn't have to. He would surprise them all.
When he was walking towards the Weasley's house he looked up and spotted someone sitting by the window.
Hermione. So she was here, too. He hoped she would.
Harry was smiling so widely he was surprised that his face didn't break yet.
He could see her clearly but she wasn't looking outside. She was talking to someone, either Ron or Ginny. Whoever it was must have said something very funny because Hermione threw her head back laughing.
He didn't know what cause that reaction but he laughed too. He couldn't help it. He loved her smile. It was so carefree.
If someone saw him right now they would think he's insane. He was just standing there, watching her. And in his mind appeared the same question that have been with him during sumer:What is happening to me ?
While he was at the door for a moment he wanted to knock, but no. He would just go in. That would be even better.
The Burrow was like home. It was always so comfortable, warm and full of love. He wanted for his future home to be like this.
He moved through the kitchen to the living room where he found all of his belongings. His bags, trunk, Hedwig who gave a happy hoot when she saw him.
-Mrs. Weasley ?
Harry's heart sped up.
-Yes, dear ?
It sounded like they were both in the hall.
-When did Harry arrive ?
She knew ?
Harry smiled. Of course she did. It's Hermione.
She must have been in the room seconds before him and saw his things.
-Harry who ?
Hermione rolled her eyes. He didn't see her but was sure of it.
-Harry Potter.
-What ? No. I would have known if he was here.
He heard some very loud steps. Very excited steps. Was it...?
-Harry ? Is Harry here ?
Yes ! Ron.
-Stop it. Is he with you ?
-Of course not. Don't you think I would have realized if my best friend was in my room, Hermione.
-Very funny, Ron. But I just saw his owl in the living room.
-Really ?
Harry knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself from laughing anymore. It was time to put them out of their misery.
-Yes. Really.
A second of silence and then:
-Harry !
-He's here !
As he hoped the first person to appear in the room was Hermione.
-Harry !
Before he could as much as blink she threw her arms around him, giving him one of her famous hugs. He wraped his arms around her waist to hug her closer.
Merlin, he missed her. It was so good to have her in his embrace.
-It's so good to see you...-she whispered in his ear sending a shiver through his whole body.
-It's good to see you, too.
She moved away a little to look at him.
God, they were so close to each other now. There was something new in the way she was looking at him, or maybe he just didn't see it before.
Were her eyes always so beautiful, so deep ?
And her lips...God, it would have been so easy to just lean in...
-Hi, mate !
They jumped apart. To be honest Harry completely forgot that they weren't alone.
-Ron, hi-he returned his friend's hug.
Ginny welcomed him with a hug, too. He was glad that she wasn't so shy around him anymore. It certainly felt better.
-Harry, dear !
Mrs.Weasley's hugs were always so warm, so mother-like.
-Why didn't you let us know you're coming ?
-Dumbledore.
He knew she would understand. And she did because she laughed.
-Oh, what a man ! Come on, you must be hungry.
-Honestly, so am I-Ron said following his mother.
-You're always hungry. You're like a walking stomach.
He could still hear Ron and Ginny's bantering even when they were out of the room.
Only then he realized that he was alone with Hermione. She was looking at him, smiling.
-What ?
She moved to stand closer to him.
-Nothing...-she raised her hand to brush some of his hair from his forehead.
Once again his lost his breath. How was she doing it ?
-I'm just happy you're here.
And at that moment he knew the answer to the question he kept asking himself in the past few weeks. He knew what was happening to him.
He was falling in love with his best friend.
*******
Later, when he was in bed he realized that Ron's snoring finally stopped bothering him. At first it was unbearable, but it was probably due to the fact that before Ron he never shared a room with someone else.
After dinner he, Ron and Hermione stayed in the living room for a while to talk.
Everybody knew something was coming.
Hermione said even her parents felt that something was wrong. Ron surprised him when he said that Mrs.Weasley wanted for him and Ginny to stay home this year.
People were scared and he couldn't blame them. The worst thing was that they weren't sure what they were affraid of, and it was driving them mad.
Harry closed his eyes.
Whatever would come he would face it. They all would.

Chapter Text

I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 2

The next day Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny went to the Diagon Alley to visit Fred and George at their shop. And when Harry saw it he knew that the decision to give them all the money he won after the Triwizard Tournament was one of the best in his life.
They needed it more than him. They had a dream and he was more than happy to help them.
He was amazed by the amount of people who visited the shop.
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Everything was amazing.
You could find anything you needed to make the best joke here, like a professional.
Extendable Ears, a Reusable Hangman, Skiving Snackboxes, Fred and George's special WonderWitch products, Love Potions, Ten-Second Pimple Vanishers, and Pygmy Puffs. Everything. Even a section of Muggle Magic Tricks.
Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.
That was what Harry was looking at. It had the shape of a small rock but was really shiny.
Fred and George appeared at his side.
-Nice, isn't it ?-said Fred-It is one of our best products.
-Perfect when you want to disappear-added George handing him one rock.
Disappear, huh ?
-Hello, ladies !-the twins had a habit of talking a the same time, like now when they walked over to Hermione and Ginny.
Harry followed them.
-Love Potion ?
You couldn't mistake it for anything else. The little bottles of the potion were in a shape of heart and they were pink. They were also set on a big cabinet shaped like a heart. Pink heart. And what's even more, hundreds of tiny, pink hearts were floating around it.
It was...sweet. Too sweet.
-As far as I know you don't need it, sis-said George.
-What ?
-Dean Thomas. You're dating him, right ?
Ginny blushed a little.
-Well, it is not your business. But I can assure you I didn't need Love Potion for him to ask me out-and with that she turned on her heel and left.
Harry didn't know that Ginny had a boyfriend. Good for her. Hermione told him long ago that the only Weasley girl had a big crush on him. Fortunately, it looked like she finally got over it.
That was a really great news. For Harry she was like a little sister too, and he didn't want to break her heart by saying that he wasn't interested.
-You don't need it either,Hermione-said Fred with a smirk.
-What do you mean ?
-I heard that Cormac McLaggen wants to, hmm...How do I say it ? Know you better.
Harry thought he was going to be sick.
McLaggen ? That puffed up idiot who could talk only about himself ?
And he wanted to know his Hermione better ? No, no, no. He's not a guy for her. She deserves better, so much better.
Thankfully, it seemed that Hermione thought the same by the look on her face.
-I don't want to know him-she folded her arms-I'm not interested in him like that.
Fred squinted his eyes.
-But you are interested in someone.
It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
Harry held his breath, waiting for her to say something. She glanced at him and her cheeks became rosy.
-Not your business.
She quickly walked past Harry and headed for the front door. Without hesitation he followed her.
-Hermione wait !
He realized some time ago that thanks to all the years he spent playing Qudditch he became very quick and deft.
That is why he managed to caught up with Hermione and block her way before she could walk out of the shop.
He was glad when he saw that she wasn't crying. She didn't even seem sad or angry.
-Are you alright ? Don't worry about Fred and George, you know what they are like.
She smiled.
-I'm fine. It's not about Fred and George.
-So what is wrong ?
Hermione released a big sigh and did something Harry didn't expect. She took his hand in hers and pulled him towards the door.
-Let's talk outside.
It was late so the Diagon Alley was almost empty with most of the shops already closed. Harry and Hermione sat on the stairs in front of the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
He didn't say anything waiting for her to start. He didn't want to rush her, she hated that.
-It's the whole McLaggen-thing.
What ? Did she lie before ? Maybe she liked...No ! The mere thought of that was making Harry sick.
-Don't tell me you...like...want...with him-he wasn't even able to say it out loud.
He hoped the desperation in his voice wasn't as evident to her as it was to him.
She looked at him with wide eyes.
-No ! Of course not.
He couldn't stop the smile that forced its way to his face.
Hermione laughed.
-You look relieved.
-I am. Very much so.
Very, very much.
With a smile that matched his own she squeezed his hand that she still had in her grip. He was more than aware of the fact that she hasn't let go of it since they walked out of the shop. It was such a simple gesture and yet it meant so much.
-Well, the thing is that I panicked a little bit when I saw him inside.
Inside ? He was at the store ? How come Harry didn't notice him ?
You were too busy looking at Hermione all the time.
-He is in there ? But...
Then a thought came to him. A very disturbing thought.
-He didn't do anything, right ? Because I swear if he as much as tried to come near you...
Hermione shook her head.
-No worries. I just didn't want for him to notice me there.
Harry nodded. He was more than happy that she wasn't interested in Cormac.
Hermione looked at their joined hands and linked their fingers. Harry's heart was beating so fast that he wondered whether she could hear it. They have never shared such an intimate moment.
It wasn't weird, it wasn't uncomfortable. It felt right, so right and all Harry wanted to do was to push this forward, to be even closer.
He already knew that his feelings for her changed. Since he discovered that he was wondering if she maybe, by any chance...
But he couldn't tell her that, he couldn't ask her. Not yet.
What if she didn't look at him like that ? He would ruin their friendship. And that would break him. He needed her in his life, even if only as a friend.
-Here you are.
Harry almost jumped at he sound of his other friend's voice. He tried to hide his disappointment about the fact that this precious time with just Hermione has just ended. Couldn't Ron wait for a few more minutes ?
He noticed that Hermione sent Ron one of her angry looks. She used them only when Ron was really pissing her off, and that made Harry hopeful that maybe she wanted to be alone with him, too.
-I was looking for you-Ron started-Do you want to take a walk ?
-You don't want to stay longer at the store ?-Hermione asked.
Ron shrugged.
-Nah...Fred and George are busy and I felt a little overwhelmed by all those people inside.
Hermione nodded.
-Alright.
Harry rose first and helped her up. Only then he noticed that they were still holding hands. He was surprised Ron didn't ask about it. On the other hand the street was rather dark so he probably didn't even notice it.
With a small smile he gave her hand one last squeeze and let it go. He immediately missed the feeling that went with the hand-holding, he wanted to be as close to her as before.
They started walking down the Diagon Alley. The weather was changing. You could still feel the warmth of summer but it was getting darker earlier and evenings were really brisk. Autumn was getting ready to announce its presence.
-I'm wondering how do Fred and George do it ? Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes is always so full-Hermione said.
-I guess people just miss the entertainment.
-Yeah, you're probably right-Harry said.
Suddenly they all stopped dead in their tracks. They were standing in front of Ollivanders Wand Shop.
-Oh no-Hermione whispered, the sadness evident in her voice-It looks like it's been closed for many months.
It really did.
Harry couldn't believe it. What could have happened ?
-Do you think we can go inside ?-Ron asked.
-I don't see why not.
The street was empty, besides the shop was clearly abandoned.
It was dark inside, papers and empty wand boxes were lying all over the floor. Harry remembered the first time he walked in here. It was short after Hagrid found him and the Dursleys bringing him the news that he was a wizard and changing his life forever.
He bought his wand here.
-Harry, look.
He walked over to where Ron stood and look out of the window. Well, what was left of the window.
-I think Malfoy and his mother really don't want to be seen-Ron continued.
And he was right.
*******
They followed the Malfoys. And it was more than obvious that they were up to something. Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban so maybe they were looking for a way to get him out.
Malfoy and his mother went inside Borgin&Burkes.
Harry wasn't very fond of that place. It was filled with ancient and very unusual wizarding artefacts. It also had a shady reputation because the owners used to sell objects of Dark magic. There was a chance they still do it.
They couldn't follow them inside without being noticed and that was the last thing Harry wanted right now. He needed to know what was happening, what Malfoy was up to.
They had to find a way.
-We could climb on the roof-Ron suggested-It's not very high and we will be able to see the inside of the shop.
Harry nodded. He didn't have any other idea.
-Alright. Let's go.
Harry was the first one to climb up. Then he helped Hermione up and both of them managed to get Ron up on the roof as well. The fact that it was rather pitched didn't make things any easier.
Ron was right, they could see what was happening in Borgin&Burkes clearly.
Besides the Malfoys he also spotted another Death Eater, the werewolf Greyback. It was getting more and more interesting.
Draco was checking out something that looked like a wardrobe, but Harry was fairly sure it was more than that. He didn't know what it was, he never saw anything like that before. He looked at Hermione but she just shook her head.
Second later they had to duck as Greyback walked over to the window and looked outside. They were all so secretive, so careful not to be seen. It couldn't mean anything good.
When Harry looked up again he noticed that the curtains were drawn.
They wouldn't see anything today.
-Great...-he muttered.
-I think we should get down-Ron said-It's getting really uncomfortable here.
*******
For Harry travelling on Hogwarts Express always had that magical aspect. After all, he was going home.
He moved along the corridor making his way to the compartment he shared with his two best friends. But Ron wasn't there when he finally walked in. Hermione was sitting on her usual spot by the window with book in her hands. Her hazel curls were partially hiding her face.
She looked up when she heard him.
She once again made him weak in the knees with the warm smile she gave him.
He sat down opposite her.
-Where is Ron ?
Hermione smiled widely.
-You won't believe it-she started.
Harry leaned forward with curiosity. It wasn't everyday that something got Hermione Granger so excited.
-Luna came by and left us one of the copies of The Quibbler-she pointed to the newspaper lying on the seat next to her-And she had more pieces of it and Ron, being the gentleman he is-Harry chuckled at that-Offered her help.
Hmm...Ron was helpful, he had to admit that. But he felt like he was missing something in this picture.
His eyes went wide when a realization hit him making Hermione giggle.
-Do you think...? No. Ron and Luna ?
Hermione shrugged.
-Well, I'm not sure about Ron but Luna...She really seems to be interested in him.
-How would you know ? Did you talk to her ?
Harry was still trying to wrap his mind around it.
-I plan on doing it, I'm just waiting for the right moment. As to how I know it...I see it.
His heart began beating rapidly.
-You see it ?
Hermione nodded without breaking eye contact with him. He felt like he could drown in her eyes. How come he never saw how deep and bewitching they were.
-Muggles have a lot of sayings. Eyes are windows to soul. It was always my favourite one.
Harry cleared his voice.
-Why ?
-Because it's true.
At that moment he thought so, too. He really felt as if he was looking into her soul. And he liked what he saw, he liked it very much. He knew her for six years but suddenly he realized that there are parts of her that he hasn't discovered yet. He couldn't wait to do it. He only hoped he would have a chance.
Her look was so intense, but he didn't feel helpless or exposed, no. Quite the contrary actually. He felt strong. Brave. He wanted to know whether she found what she was looking for.
The sound of doors being opened destroyed their little bubble.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath.
Ron had the worst timing.
-Hey, guys-he sat down heavily next to Hermione, who returned to her book.
Harry thought that with her rosy cheeks she looked absolutely adorable.
*******
-That is for my father. You have a change of trains in London.
He was sure Malfoy broke his nose. He was also sure that he was in very deep trouble. And of course the only person he could blame for it was, as always, himself.
Draco put the Invisibility Cloak over him and left the carriage.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
He was under the Petrificus Totalus spell, his nose was broken and because of the Cloak no one would find him here. Was there anything good about the situation he was currently in ? Well...he found out that the Instant Darkness Powder from Fred and George worked.
If he could he would have shaken his head. He just wanted to learn more about Malfoy's plans.
Someone walked in.
How could he make that someone to notice him ? His options were rather limited. He couldn't move, he couldn't speak.
-Finite !
The Cloak disappeared. He felt his whole body relax and slowly get back its strenght. Someone saved him.
Harry slowly got up stretching his still a little stiff body and looked at his saviour.
-Luna ? How did you find me here ?
-Wrackspurts. They led me here.
He didn't what the Wrackspurts were, he wasn't even sure if they existed, but he already liked them.
-What happened ?-Luna asked.
Harry picked up his Cloak and bag.
-Long story. Let's go before they close the gate.
They were the last ones on the train. All of the trunk and cages with animals were gone too.
-You will be late because of me-he looked at her bashfully-I'm sorry.
The blond girl smiled.
-No worries. It's as if I had a friend.
Harry frowned.
-I'm your friend, Luna.
He was happy when her face lit up with glee.
-That's so nice.
The small form of professor Flitwick appeared in front of them.
-There you are. We have been looking for you. Name ?-he said looking down at the list in his hands.
Harry chuckled.
-Professor, we know each other for six years.
The little man just shrugged and moved past them to close the gates and put some spells for safety.
In the distance Harry saw Malfoy. He was standing with Filch. They were arguing over something until Snape came over to them.
-I will take care of it.
With a smirk Draco turned to leave and spotted him.
-Nice face, Potter !
Tempted as he was to do something, go after him, hit him, anything, he remained still. No more trouble. At least for tonight.
-If you want I can fix your nose.
-Hmm...Have you ever fixed someone's nose ?
-No, but a few fingers yes. What's the difference, anyway ?
He supposed she was right. What other choice did he have ? He couldn't walk around looking like that, and it really was starting to hurt. He nodded.
-Episkey !
*******
-Thank you once again. For everything. For finding me and fixing me-he smiled.
-You're welcome.
His nose wasn't as sore anymore but it started bleeding. Thankfully he had a few tissues in his pockets.
-Would you like to sit with us ?
He saw the hesitation in her. He decided to try something.
-Ron will be happy.
To his surprise she blushed. Hermione may be right after all.
-It will be my pleasure.
They walked into the Great Hall and moved forward to the Gryffindor table. Ron, Ginny and Hermione were sitting together at their usual place.
When Hermione saw him her face immediately relaxed and she let out a deep sigh.
Harry smiled. So she was waiting for him, she was worried about him. He knew she had a lot of questions and couldn't wait to ask him.
-Luna, hi !-Ron said , grinning.
With a blush still evident on her face Luna sat down next to Ginny.
-Where have you been ? And what happened to your face ?
-Later-he said reaching for a glass of water with one hand and holding the tissues close to his nose with the other-What did I miss ?
He could feel Hermione's eyes on him.
-The Sorting Hat said something about always being ready for any danger-Ron shook his head-What can it know ? After all, it's a hat.
Harry smiled. He had a point.
-Your nose was broken ?-Ginny asked.
-Yeah...Luna fixed it.
-Really ?-his red haired friend looked impressed-I didn't know you could do that.
Luna smiled and started explaining to Ron all the little things about spells you can use to mend wounds. She seemed really paasionate about it but the thing that was more amusing was that Ron seemed to be briskly interested in it.
-Ginny, hand me those napkins-Hermione said.
Before Harry knew what she was up to she took away the ones he had, as they were already soaked through. Then she used the fresh ones to wipe the little droplets of blood off his face.
-I was so worried. Does it still hurt ?
Harry just shook his head. He was too focused on what Hermione was doing and the fact that from time to time her fingertips brushed his face. It didn't hurt anymore. And even if it did he was sure he wouldn't feel a thing right now.
-Thank you.
-Welcome all !-the voice of their headmaster broke through the air-At first I would like to introduce you our new Potions professor, Horace Slughorn, also in this year Defence Against the Dark Arts will be taught by Professor Snape.
Harry wasn't surprised when only the Slytherin table applauded to that. He knew Snape waited for that position for years.
Ron's face said it all.
-You are probably wondering why you were searched before entering the school-Dumbledore said looking around the Great Hall-And you have the right to know the answer. Once there was a boy who walked these corridors, slept under this roof. We all thought he was a regular student just like you. His name was Tom Riddle.
A nervous rumble went through the crowd. He knew a few people looked at him, he felt it.
-Today, he is know under different name. But...there is a thought that keeps coming back to me. Every day, every hour the Dark forces try to penetrate walls of our school. If they will be successful their biggest weapon is you. It is something worth thinking over. Now go to bed.
-Very comforting...-Ron said mockingly.
Dumbledore was warning them, he wanted for everyone to remember to be more careful, more reasonable . He too knew that something was coming. But unfortunately it seemed that, like almost everybody else, he wasn't sure what to be prepared for.
Well, one thing was certain.
It's going to be a long year.

Chapter Text

I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 3

-I don't need Potions. The qualifications are coming up, I need to practice.
Harry lost count of how many times he rolled his eyes today. Since Ron decided he wanted to be in the Quidditch team he talked about nothing else. He kept asking both him and Hermione whether it was a good idea, if he was good enough, what if he failed.
-Stop it. You will have plenty of time for practice.
Besides Harry had more than one reason to chose Ron except for his abilities.
Yesterday evening when he was doing his homework in the Common Room he overheard that McLaggen will be at the team qualifications as well. He wanted to be a Keeper.
During the last few days he saw how often Cormac's eyes followed Hermione. It made his stomach twist every time.
There were two options.
If McLaggen was awful player there would be no problem.
If he was any good...Harry was the captain but the rest of the team took part in choosing a new member. And he couldn't tell them that he didn't want Cormac in the team because of Hermione. Well, he could tell them but still it wasn't a good enough reason.
Harry heard his new teacher's voice even before they entered the classroom.
-Measuring ingredients is very important part of potion making process.
He must have heard them too because he turned around the second they walked in.
-Harry ! I was getting worried. And I see you have brought a friend.
He managed to catch Ron's arm as he saw that he was slowly retreating towards the door. If he really thought he could escape that easily he was more than mistaken.
-Ron Weasley. I'm not good with potions. To be honest I'm rather terrible so maybe...
-Nonsense. Harry's friend is my friend. Take out your books.
-I'm sorry professor, but I haven't got my book yet, and neither have Ron-Harry said still keeping a firm grip on his friend's arm.
-That's fine. You will find some in the closet behind you.
Harry nodded.
-Can you let go of me now ?-Ron murmured under his breath.
-Fine. But no running, is that clear ?
-Fine, you prat.
They indeed found potions books, two to be precise. One was for sure new while the other...Well, let's just say it had seen better times.
As fast as Harry was sometimes it was nothing comapared to Ron's skills in that matter. Maybe it was because he grew up with so many siblings ? If you're not fast enough you don't get what you want.
Ron wanted the good looking book. And he got it. He snatched it from under Harry's nose in seconds.
-If you say one word I'll hit you with that book-Harry said as he couldn't stand the proud smirk on his best friend's face.
Ron just shrugged, but the smile stayed on his face as they moved to stand next to Hermione.
-Alright, I've prepared a few potions this morning-Slughorn went back to his lecture- Any ideas ?
Hermione's hand immediatedly shot up making Harry smile.
-Yes, Miss...?
-Granger, sir. This is Veritaserum, the Potion of Truth-she said moving from one cauldron to the other-And this is Amortentia, the strongest Love Potion. It has a different smell depending on what the said person likes.
-That is correct. Can you tell us what you smell ?
-Oh...um, yes-Hermione stood a little closer to the cauldron-Grass, parchment, pumpkin tart and...wood ? Like the one that brooms are made of.
Slughorn nodded with approval.
-Excellent. But you all should know that Amortentia doesn't really make you fall in love. It causes a very strong obsession and that is why it is probably the most dangerous potion in this room.
-What about that little bottle ?-asked one of the Slytherin girls.
-Oh, yes-Horace took the said bottle in his hands-Ladies and gentleman, this is a very interesting potion, called Felix Felicis. Also known as...
-Liquid Luck-Hermione threw in.
-Yes, that's correct.
Harry didn't know that potion, he never heard about it.
-It is very hard to brew and you can pay a great price for even a small mistake. One swallow and everything you do, all of your actions will end in success. Of course as long as it works.
It was certainly appealing. There were so many situations in which a potion like that could find a use, not only in Wizarding World but also for the Muggles.
-One of you will get it-Slughorn went on-It will be your reward. One tiny bottle of Felix Felicis for the first student who will brew me Draught of Living Death. Open your books at page 10.
All of the students moved around the room to find a place where they could work. He, Ron and Hermione always worked at the same table.
-Though I should warn you. Only one student managed to win this-it seemed that their new professor really wanted to motivate them, or to suggest that they can try but shouldn't be too hopeful-Good luck, everyone !
When Harry opened the book the first thing he noticed was the signature on the first page:This book is the possession of the Half Blood Prince.
Half Blood Prince ? Someone had a very wide imagination or wanted to stay anonymous. But why ?
Harry found the right page and took a quick scan of the recipe. Beside it there was a lot of side notes probably made by the previous owner of the book. He made small changes in some parts of it. Harry had no idea why but that person, whoever it was, must have had a good reason. What was more interesting was that all those little clues were making much more sense than the original recipe.
Instead of cutting the Sopophorous bean-crush it.
The said beans were rather funny because with the lightest touch of knife they would jump and bounce trying to escape. They reminded Harry of those little rubber balls you could buy at every Muggle toy store. Dudley had hundreds of them.
Right, next step...
Use 13 beans instead of 12.
*******
-How did you do it ?
Harry smiled without looking up from the homework he was working on. He knew Hermione would ask him that sooner or later. He could see how anxious she was since they left the Potions Room.
That old, worn out book turned out to be very helpful indeed. And the best proof for that was already safely hidden in his trunk next to his bed in the bedroom.
Felix Felicis.
Slughorn was delighted. It was almost as if he was hoping for him to be the one to win.
So he could enclose him to his collection.
-Harry ?
So impatient.
Finishing the last sentence in his essay he finally looked at Hermione. She was looking at him impatiently and he knew that she wouldn't back down. Never. It made her more attractive.
-I just followed the instructions from the book, that is all.
By the way her eyes narrowed he knew she didn't believe him. Not only he was the first to finish that potion but he was also the only one who managed to brew it at all.
-You know that I will find out.
-I know-he said putting his books into his bag-Do you want to get some lunch ?
-Don't change the subject-she said but got up anyway-We will return to this conversation.
-Yes, sir.
She chuckled.
-Let's go.
He followed her out of the library. They walked down the corridor towards the Great Hall.
-Do you know where Ron is ?-Hermione asked-I haven't seen him since our last class.
That's true. After the Transfiguration he and Hermione went to the library to do the homework, but Ron said he would do it later. Which meant that he was going to copy it from, most probably, Harry.
-He is practicing before the team qualifications.
-Again ?
Harry shook his head.
-I know. Ginny is helping him today. I think they are at the pitch.
-Poor Ginny.
Harry smiled.
Ginny wasn't thrilled when Ron asked her for help earlier. He felt bad for her but on the other hand it gave him more time with Hermione, just the two of them.
-I have a proposition for you.
Harry looked at her, intrigued.
-Do you ?
-Maybe we will eat outside today ? The weather is so nice, it would be a shame to waste it.
-A picnic ?
Hermione nodded eagerly.
-Yes, we can grab some food from the Great Hall. What do you think ?
What did he think ? He had a chance to be with her for a few more hours, eating lunch in some nice spot with no one else but them. Every part of him was screaming YES.
-I'd love to.
*******
Harry was surprised how many students decided to enjoy the last warm moments of the year. Usually they ate inside, the three of them, and that is probably why he didn't notice it before.
Hermione led him through the courtyard to the grounds surrounding the castle. They sat down not far away from the lake so they could enjoy both the sun and the breeze coming from the water.
Harry put the food he collected at the Great Hall between them so they could share it.
The time he spent with her that afternoon was one of the best of his life.
During all the years of their friendship he thought he knew her but he realized that she still had many secrets.
They talked so much, about everything.
She told him about her parents and their job, her childhood, her love for books and learning...His favourite story was the one how she found out she was a witch.
-We have a rose bush in our garden, my dad got it for my mother all those years ago when they found out that she was pregnant.
Harry turned on his side and rested his head on his hand.
-It's so beautiful...Over the years it grew and now it is almost as tall as me. And the way it blooms...Oh, Harry I wish you could see it.
Harry smiled. He loved the look on her face while she was telling the story. Blissful smile, sparkling eyes...He didn't need to see that rose to know that she was more beautiful. He felt himself blush at his thoughts and hoped that she didn't notice it. To distract himself he grabbed one of the apples they had for dessert.
-Anyway...One day it started to wilt, the leaves turned brown. My mom was devastated. I wanted to help but I didn't know what I could do.
-But I have a feeling you came up with something-Harry smiled taking another bite of his apple.
Hermione laughed.
-Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I read to it.
Of course she did.
-Reading has always been the best cure to my problems and I thought it would help. So I took one of my books, went to the garden, sat down next to it and...-she chuckled.
-And ?
-Well, it's a little weird...You won't laugh ?
Harry shook his head.
-I swear.
-So...I read in one of my mother's newspapers about gardening that plants like when you pet them.
Harry nodded encouraging her to continue.
-I was holding one of the branches during my reading.
He couldn't stop his wide smile. He promised not to laugh and he wouldn't. Hermione didn't seem to mind because she was smiling too.
-After a few minutes I looked up to check on it and...
-And it was beautiful again-he finished for her.
-My mother didn't believe me when I told her that I fixed it. She was sure that I bought a new one with dad and that we wanted to surprise her.
-I assume she changed her mind-Harry said.
-Aha. A few weeks later when my letter from Hogwarts came.
Smiling Harry handed her the other apple. He remembered very well the day he got his letter. The day that everything changed.
He was grateful that Hermione didn't ask him about his childhood with the Dursleys. She knew he didn't like to talk about it. Besides there was nothing to say. It was never his home, he never felt welcomed there and he doubted he ever would. He was lonely there, so lonely. Although with time he got used to it.
Until he came here.
He felt the lightest and sweetest brush on his face. His heart sped up.
Hermione brushed her fingers against his cheek and he had to stop the sudden urge to bring her hand back to his face, to feel the warmth and delicacy of her skin on his.
-You were somewhere else for a second...-she whispered.
Harry looked down at his hands sheepishly.
-Sorry...
He knew she was still looking at him.
-Come here.
Harry looked up. She cleaned the space between them by moving their bags away. What was she planning ?
She noticed his confusion and smiled patting the space next to her.
-I'm going to show you a great way to relax.
She lay down flat on her back and closed her eyes.
Harry followed her lead and lay down, too.
-Close your eyes and just breath...-she said.
She was right-it really relaxed him. It was just what he needed, a few moments in peace and quiet. So many things happened or changed during the last years, even months. More changes were about to happen and there was nothing he could do to stop it. But he's not alone anymore.
-Thank you-he said.
Hermione turned her head to look at him.
-For everything...-he whispered getting lost in her eyes for what seemed like a millionth time-For being here.
He should thank her for so many things. For being his friend, for believing in him, caring for him and so much more.
His eyes kept roaming over her face. They were so close now that he could see every little mole, every freckle.
-It's the only place I want to be-she put her hand over his-By your side.
He was not alone.
*******
He turned left and continued down the hall. Dumbledore left him a message that he wanted to meet him. He had no idea why but it must have been something important.
He was going to be a little late though. He had lunch with Hermione again and lost track of time. Over the last two weeks they spent their lunch breaks together. Since that first time it became like a tradition. They would meet in the same spot by the lake to sit, eat, talk. Harry treasured those moments and during the day was looking forward to them.
Unfortunately it could have been the last lunch for just the two of them for some time. The try-outs for Quidditch team were tomorrow.
He and Hermione had a chance to be alone during lunch because Ron was practicing at that time. After the qualifications without doubt he would join them back. Ron was his friend and he enjoyed his company. But he enjoyed the company of Hermione more. Just Hermione.
Before he knew it he was standing in front of Dumbledore's office door. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't realize when he got there.
He knocked and walked in.
The Headmaster was sitting by his desk.
-Harry, welcome.
-Good evening, professor. I'm late, sorry.
Dumbledore smiled warmly.
-Oh, no worries. How are you, Harry ?
-Good, thank you.
-Are you enjoying your classes ?
Harry nodded.
-I was told that Professor Slughorn is delighted to have you as his student. You impressed him.
Harry chuckled.
Of course. They talked about him and Slughorn without doubt told him about their first lesson.
-He overstimates me-he said and it was more than true.
Dumbledore smiled.
-Does he ?
-For sure.
His good first impression was all due to the book who was previously owned by the Half Blood Prince.
-And besides school ? Is there anything that has a special place in your life ?
The way he said it and that twinkle in his blue eyes made Harry frown. He meant something in particular.
-Sir ?
-I've noticed that you spent a great deal of time with Miss Granger...
Oh...You really couldn't hide anything from him.
Harry looked down at his shoes, he was sure he was as red as a beetrot.
Dumbledore had a knack for seeing right through people. Through their emotions and feelings and that is why Harry wondered if his Headmaster had any knowledge of his real feelings for Hermione. Could he know ?
-Well...y-you know...-he stuttered a little-Hermione is...
He wasn't surprised at how quickly the answer came to his mind. It could scarcely be otherwise.
-She is my Hermione.
His.
The smile on the old man's face told him he didn't need to say more. He understood.
-I didn't mean to be nosy. I'm glad that you're happy.
He thought he wasn't blushing so much anymore but he felt that his cheeks were still rosy.
-Young love is beautiful.
Basing on the look on Dumbledore's face Harry suspected he thought about something personal, something very important to him, but he had a feeling that whatever it was didn't end well. Did he lose someone he loved ?
Somehow he couldn't imagine the Headmaster as a young man, for him he would always be the white bearded teacher with piercing blue eyes hidden behind his half-moon glasses.
-Though, that is not what I wanted to talk to you about-he got his composure back quickly-Come.
Dumbledore got up from a chair and Harry followed him to the back of his office.
He had his cabinet full of bottles filled with his memories collected throughout his long life. The Pensieve was already set up there. So he wanted to show Harry his memory, share his thoughts with him.
-Today I will show you something special-he said taking one bottle one out of the cabinet-These flasks are very precious to me. They concern the same person-Voldemort. You will see the day I met him for the first time.
Harry swallowed. They were very precious indeed.
Dumbledore handed him opened flask.
Without hesitation Harry poured it into the Pensieve.


"Wool's Orphanage.
That's what said the sign on the building much younger Dumbledore walked in.
-I was surprised when you contacted us, Mr.Dumbledore.
The same woman who greeted him at the entrance walked him up the stairs and down the corridor.
-During all the years that Tom spent here no one visited him. No one. Sometimes he has very unpleasant encounters with other children.
They stopped in front of one of the rooms. Dumbledore walked in and closed the door so it was only him and the little boy inside.
A boy that would grow up to be a monster.
-Hello, Tom.
The boy looked at him but it was clear he wouldn't make any move to acknowledge his presence. Dumbledore sat down on the bed in front of him. Tom's eyes followed his every step.
-You're not a doctor, are you ?-he whispered.
The Headmaster smiled.
-No. I'm a teacher.
-I don't believe you. She told you to examine me.
He probably meant the woman who led Dumbledore here.
-She thinks I'm insane.
-Maybe she has a point-Dumbledore said calmly.
-I'm not crazy.
Tom seemed very unsure. Dumbledore's visit was a big surprise for him too, and he didn't know what he could expect.
-Hogwarts is not a hospital. It's a school. School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Seeing that the boy was still uncertain the Headmaster tried to get to him in another way. He wanted Tom to trust him.
-I'm just like you-he said-I'm different.
-Prove it.
Tom wasn't backing down. It made Dumbledore smirk. A little trick wouldn't hurt anyone, it could only help. That's why he set fire to the wardrobe that he saw upon entering the room. He kept eye-contact with Tom the whole time. The boy was ready to flee if he made the smallest mistake.
Although by the look of delight on his face Dumbledore knew that he succeded.
-I heard that you have special abilities.
-I can pick something up without touching it. The animals do what I want without training-then the boy's eyes got darker-If someone stands in my way I can hurt them. I can make them feel pain.
He was young and his power was slowly getting out of control. He was alone in the Muggle world, he had no one who could explain to him what was happening. People at the orphanage were certain he was insane, children were making fun of him. It was a miracle that nothing terrible has happened. Yet.
In many ways that little boy was just like any other young wizard or witch. But from time to time Dumbledore could see something in his eyes. Whatever it was...It made the elder wizard uneasy.
-In Hogwarts we will teach you not only how to make use of you power but also how to control it.
With one last look Dumbledore got up.
-I also understand snakes. I know what they are saying.
Dumbledore was already reaching out to open the door but that stopped him dead in his tracks. Snakes ? That's not possible.
-They come here whispering about things...Is any of this normal ?"


-Did you know ? Even then ?-Harry whispered.
He never thought he would have a chance to see Voldemort as a child. As a young boy. He seemed so innocent, so lost. Was his soul already dark ?
-Did I know that I've just met the most dangerous Dark Wizard of our times ? No.
He believed him. Back then to Dumbledore Tom was a child who needed help.
-If I knew then...
Then what ? There was not much he could do. Harry doubted that anyone could predict who the boy would grow up to be.
-In his school days Voldemort stayed close to one teacher. I think you already know who I'm talking about.
Of course. It was all getting more and more clear.
-You didn't bring Slughorn back here only to teach, right ?
-Indeed. We need one of Horace's memory.
Harry knew what Dumbledore would say next so he wasn't surprised at all.
-I need you to help me get it.
He would. But how ?
*******
Harry didn't expect to see to many people at the team qualifications. He was glad that Ginny was there to help him. She was better at handling all those people at once. When she yelled at them to keep quiet Harry almost jumped out of his skin. Growing up as the only girl in a family was paying off.
He stood on the side waiting for others to get ready, pick a broom.
Suddenly all went dark as someone put their hands over his eyes.
-Guess who ?
He smiled. He didn't need to guess. He knew immediately it was her.
His knees felt so weak only with her around.
-You made it.
He so hoped she would. Earlier she said that she had to visit the library, and he knew how many times she lost track of time there, but would do her best to be at the qualifications on time.
-I said I would, right ? Anyway, I just wanted to wish you luck-she put the lightest, the sweetest kiss on his cheek-I will see you later.
Harry brushed his fingers over the spot where her lips were just seconds ago. He never knew he could feel like this.
With each next day Hermione made him feel things he thought existed only in romantic novels.
He kept his eyes on her when she made her way up the stands to find a place to sit. He laughed when she turned around and said "Good luck !" to Ron. His best friend waved back at her with a smile.
He noticed Hermione sat down next to Luna. So she came as well. To be honest he was a little surprised at how close those two girls were. They were so different and yet...
-I hope you don't mind that I too want to be a Keeper.
McLaggen.
Harry's body tensed. For a few precious moments he completely forgot about him. He wondered whether Cormac saw him and Hermione.
Oh, he so wanted it to be true.
-You ? You are more fit for a Beater-Ron said.
As far as Harry was concerned he wasn't fit for any of the positions.
-A Keeper has to be fast, deft.
-I think I will manage. Listen, could you do me a favour ?
Harry should have walked away long ago. But he couldn't, he needed to know what that idiot wanted.
-Will you introduce me to Granger ? I would like to know her a little better.
Oh, no. If that fool really thought he would get any near Hermione then Harry was more than happy to prove him wrong.
McLaggen smirked and left Ron to join the rest. As soon as he did that Harry walked over to his friend.
-You don't seriously mean to...
But before he could finish Ron shook his head.
-Of course not. I'm not stupid.
Harry let out a deep sigh. Thank, Merlin.
-I don't like him-Ron continued-And I think we both know Hermione well enough to say that she wouldn't stand a second with him.
Thankfully that was true. He could now focus on the qualifications.
-So, are you ready ?
Harry looked at Ron. His best friend was still a little pale, he was for sure nervous. Harry had to find a way to relax him if he wanted for him to succeed. And he did.
-Look over there-he pointed to the stands where Hermione and Luna were sitting-You already have fans.
Ron smiled and Harry noticed that spark of determination in his eyes he was hoping for.
-It's so nice of her to come-he said.
-Yes, it is-Harry couldn't help but smile, he used all the strenght he had not to rise his hand to his cheek once again.
He knew she didn't like Quidditch all that much and yet she was at every match. He couldn't help but wonder whether she would gift him with another kiss like that one if they won a game. She always hugged him, but maybe...
-You think she was here when Ravenclaw team had their try-outs ?
For a moment Harry wasn't sure if he heard him right. Ravenclaw ? Luna ! He meant Luna.
-Umm...I don't know.
Although he suspected that she made an exception for them. No, for Ron.
Harry shook his head. It seemed Hermione was right about one more thing.
-Come on. Let's get this over with.

Chapter Text

I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 4

-I really thought I wouldn't win, you know ?
Since the end of the try-outs that grin on Ron's face was getting bigger and bigger. He also wouldn't shut up. At first Harry didn't mind it but with time it became a little annoying.
-Yes, Ron. We are very proud of you-Hermione said without looking up from the newspaper. 
Harry smirked. 
-I hope Cormac is not too depressed.
Harry knew he didn't really mean that. The mockery was clear in his friend's voice. To be honest, he himself couldn't care any less about McLaggen's feelings. 
-I think he has a thing for you, Hermione-Ron said.
Ron said he wouldn't tell Hermione that Cormac wanted to meet her, but of course he couldn't stop himself from teasing her. 
-He's mean-their friend kept her eyes on the newspaper-Do you actually see me with someone like him ?
-No, I just...People talk. 
Harry could see that Ron was surprised. He for sure thought that Hermione would start yelling at him, that she would call him an idiot or something. Instead, she was calm and relaxed. She stretched out her long legs and brushed away her hair that kept falling into her eyes. Harry couldn't help but notice the amazing way in which the light from the fireplace, in front of which they were sitting, seemed to dance in her brown curls. She was glowing. 
Harry forced his eyes back to the book in his hands. Recently he spent hours studying the Potions book. 
He was curious who the Half Blood-Prince was, but all those little side notes on each page were even more interesting. Whoever wrote this knew what he was doing. 
-Do you know this spell ? Sectumsempra ?
Both Ron and Hermione shook their heads.
-No, never heard of it-Ron said. 
Neither did Harry. He wanted to know more about it but on the other hand there was something that was holding him back. 
-Give me the book. 
He looked up. Hermione was looking at him expectantly.
-Why ?
-I just want to see who it belonged to.
He had no doubt she wanted to know that and much more. But he was smart enough to not let her any near the book. If she had a look into it for sure she would find something that, at least in her meaning, was dangerous. She did the same thing in their third year, when Sirius sent him Firebolt. Back then they didn't know it was from him and Hermione told McGonagall about it. He couldn't really blame her, she thought she was doing the right thing, but still...
-Harry, let me see.
Hermione reached out to take the book but he quickly closed it and moved it out of her range.
-No. 
She raised her eyebrows.
-Why not ?
-Because the cover is worn out.
He knew how stupid it sounded but it was the first things that came to his mind. And of course she didn't believe him.
-Don't make her angry, mate.
Obviously to Ron that whole situation was more and more amusing.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
-Cover is worn out ? Harry, please.
-All right, I'm going to bed-Ron said standing up-It's been a long day. I will see you guys tomorrow. Don't kill yourselves.
Hermione sat next to him and Harry knew she wouldn't back down even if somehow he would manage to avoid the subject tonight.
-Hermione...
-Harry, I'm not going to do or say anything. I'm just...
-Curious.
Hermione nodded with a smile.
-You know me well.
The way she looked at him reminded him of a little puppy who asks its Master for a treat and is simply too cute to say no to.
-Fine. But...-he took the book out of her range as she was already reaching for it-But only the first page.
-Why ?
-You said you want to know who was its previous owner and his name is on the said page.
Hermione let out a deep sigh.
-Fine, now give me the book.
Harry smirked. She was almost jumping with enthusiasm.
-Half-Blood Prince ?-she looked at him but he could only shake his head.
-I have no idea who is that.
-Neither do I. Well...I will look it up in the library, maybe I will find something interesting. Although, there can be more information in this book.
-Oh no, no, no-Harry reached out for the book but she was faster. 
Before he knew what was happening she closed the book and stood up.
-Hey ! We had a deal.
Hermione smiled. 
-And ?
-And ?-Harry said standing up as well-Give me the book.
He reached out for the book again but she quicker and moved to stand behind the couch the wide smile still present on her face. Harry couldn't help but smiled too when it finally hit him what she is up to.
-You want to play, huh ? Fine, we will play.
He didn't know what brought that up but he had a feeling that he was going to love it.
He made a move to his right just to test her and as he suspected she moved to the right too. 
-What would you do if we were in a Quidditch game right now ?
-As a Seeker ?
-Imagine that I am the Snitch-Hermione nodded.
Harry smirked. It wasn't hard at all to imagine that. If she was the Golden Snitch and he a Seeker he had only one thing to do-he had to catch her. And he would. Gladly.
He moved to his right again, slowly this time to not spook her. She held the book close to her body just in case. She knew he was quick and that is why she had to watch his every move carefully.
When she stopped in front of the couch he could admire the glow from the fireplace around her once more. 
She's so beautiful. That thought was a constant presence on his mind for weeks now. 
He saw how she cast a brief glance at staircase. 
So that was her plan. Of course she knew that if she made it to the stairs he wouldn't be able to follow her. Because the stairs would turn into a slide the second he set a foot on them.
Well, she wasn't the brightest witch of her age for nothing. 
-Don't even think about it-he said but it only made her smile.
Before he could as much as blink Hermione was already half way to the stairs. When did she get so quick ? Thankfully he was quick too, even more than she. 
Harry caught up with her merely seconds before she put her foot on the first step. He wrapped his arms around her waist and spun her around. He never heard her laugh so much and it was so contagious that he couldn't help but join her.
-Harry, stop ! Put me down !
-Oh, I don't think so Miss Granger. 
In fact he did put her down but his arms remained wrapped around her for two reasons. One-there was still a chance that she would escape as soon as he released her. Two-it felt so good to have her in his arms with her back pressed against his front. His nose was practically buried in her hair. She smelled like books, meadow and something sweet...pumpkin tart ? Yes, that was it ! His favourite dessert. 
Then it hit him. 
He smelled something familiar before. When was it ? During Slughorn's first class. He was standing fairly close to the cauldron with Amortentia. 
Hermione said that it had a different smell for each person depending on his or her preferences. He smirked. He should have known. 
-Harry ?
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even know when Hermione turned her head and now was looking at him with those big brown eyes.
-Sorry, I just realized something...
A flash of concern and curiosity appeared on her face.
-What do you mean ?-she turned around so that she was facing him completely, but his arms didn't change their position.
He was sure she could feel his heartbeat which was so rapid at that moment.
Harry thought about telling her about his feelings for some time now. But he didn't know how to do it. He couldn't just say ''I love you'', right ? Could it really be that simple ? Well, he had to admit that during that moment, with Hermione in his arms, it did look easy. 
What was he the most afraid of ? Her reaction...
-Harry !
They both jumped at the sound of their best friend's voice. Merlin, he really had the worst timing in the world. He reluctantly released Hermione from his embrace.
On the other hand maybe it was a good idea because just a second later Ron appeared on the stairs and the last thing he wanted was for him to find out about his feelings for Hermione before her. And that brought a new thought to his mind-What would Ron say if he and Hermione became more than friends ? 
-Did you want something ?-Harry asked. 
-Yes-Ron nodded-Could you come with me ?
Harry cast a glance at Hermione but she smiled warmly at him.
-It's alright, it's getting late anyway-she gave him the book back-But this is not over. 
He wasn't sure whether she meant their conversation about the book or about his feelings but it indeed wasn't over. 
*******
-So...I was curious and wanted to know more about this Half Blood Prince so I...
-Went to the library-Harry and Ron said at the same time and laughed. 
Hermione sent them both a look but said nothing because of course they were right. 
Harry wrapped the scarf more tightly around his neck. The winter came earlier this year and that is why they all had to put on sweaters, scarfs and gloves. 
-And ?
-And nothing-Hermione said, the anger evident in her voice-I couldn't find anything, not even one single reference.
-Good. Let's not talk about it again.
-Good idea, mate.
Hermione shrugged her shoulders and that alone told him that they would without doubt talk about it again and soon.
He shivered once again because as much as he loved winter and snow, the cold wind was unbearable.
-How about we go to the Three Broomsticks ?-Hermione said.
Harry smiled when he saw how Ron's face literally beamed.
-Yes, please ! 
Hermione rolled her eyes but Harry noticed that the corners of her mouth were forcing their way up. He himself was more than willing to go some place warm. A butterbeer would be nice too. 
On their way to the Inn they met a lot of other students and even teachers. Harry suspected that their only reason to go out was a visit to the Three Broomsticks. He couldn't imagine that suddenly all of those people started enjoying blizzards. 
With winter also came ice which meant that you really had to watch your step. Ron was the first one who realized just how careful you have to be when he slipped and only by some miracle didn't fall. Of course he and Hermione couldn't help but laugh. It was simply impossible not to do so. Their friend tried to play it cool but the smile on his face was a proof enough that he found the whole thing funny too. When they finally made it to the Three Broomsticks they saw that the front steps were also covered in ice.
-Great...-Ron muttered under his breath. 
He was far more careful this time and successfully climbed the stairs holding on to the handrail. The look on satisfaction on his face spoke for itself. 
-Coming, guys ?
-Wait-Harry said when Hermione made a move towards the steps.
-What is it ?
He held out his hand.
-If we fall then at least together.
He couldn't tell whether she blushed because of his words or the cold wind but it wasn't so important. What was important was that it made her look even cuter.
-Thank you-she took a firm grip of his hand. 
He only wished they weren't wearing gloves. 
*******
-Sit next to me.
He could see the questioning look on Hermione's face when he said that but she just nodded, took off her coat and sat down. 
Ron went over to the bar to order them butterbeer, he should be back any minute.
-Not that I'm complaining-Hermione started-But what was this all about ?
Harry chuckled. He wasn't complaining either, quite the opposite actually.
-I saw Slughorn and...I know it sounds stupid but I thought that if he saw that I'm with you and Ron...
-He wouldn't come here and bother you-she finished for him.
He let out a sigh and nodded. She understood. As always.
Ron came back holding three mugs of butterbeer.
-Hermione, you wanted yours with ginger, right ?
-Yes, thank you.
Harry took a sip of his butterbeer while Ron took of his jacket and put it on the empty chair. He remebered the times when his friend would leave his clothes everywhere. But it took only one time for him to learn. Harry tried to hide his smirk by taking another sip of his drink. One time when Ron came to the Common Room and threw his jacket carelessly onto the table where Hermione was studing.
Unfortunately, it landed right in front of Hermione-on the book that she was at that time reading. It is enough to say that it was the last time Ron did something like that. 
-Blimey...
-What is it ?
He turned a little to check what Ron could have possibly seen. 
Ginny and Dean. They were probably on a date, what's the big deal ? After all they're a couple. But when he looked back at Ron it was clear that he didn't look at the situation in the same way. 
-Relax-Hermione said-They're just holding hands-she cast a quick glance at the two people cuddled up-And kissing...
-I'm leaving-Ron started getting up. 
-Don't even think about it-Harry said. 
-It's my sister. 
-And ?-Hermione asked-She's happy, don't you see ? And because she is your sister you should be happy for her, you know ? Like a good brother.
Ron rolled his eyes but it was obvious that he agreed with what Hermione said even if he wouldn't admit it.
-And if she saw you kissing with someone do you think she would have just left ?
Ron blushed a little.
-Me ? Kissing ? With whom ?
Harry smiled. With a corner of his eye he could see the look on Hermione's face and he knew very well who she was thinking about. He wondered if she was just going to ask Ron if he liked Luna. He himself wasn't so sure if it was a good idea, knowing his best friend it would only scare him away. 
Lightly he touched Hermione's leg with his own hoping that she would understand the signal. 
-I don't know...Is there someone you like ?
The fact that Ron blushed even more spoke for itself. Harry was curious. As was Hermione. 
For some time, he suspected that Lavender Brown might like Ron. A few times he saw the way she looked at him. It made him think if he was as obvious to other people when he was looking at Hermione. Although, there was something odd in that. Sometimes it looked as if Lavender had some weird kind of obsession.
-There is a girl...-Ron shook his head-But it is not important.
-Oh, come on ! Tell me.
-Hermione, just leave it !
-You know very well it won't happen.
Harry took another sip of his butterbeer. He hated it when Ron and Hermione were fighting but thankfully right now it was more like a brother-sister bantering. He knew nothing bad would happen so he just sat and watched them smiling from time to time. 
A movement to his right attracted his attention and he turned his head to check what was it. Malfoy ? What was he doing here ? More important-why ? 
Harry wasn't sure if Draco saw that they were there too. He was looking around as if checking whether he had been spotted. It was more than suspicious to Harry. During the last few weeks he tried to keep an eye on Malfoy as much as he could. Since he saw him and the Death Eaters at the Borgin&Burkes he was sure that he was up to something. Whatever it was he had to find out and put an end to it, because he was sure of one more thing-it wasn't anything good.
He watched as Malfoy put on his coat and quickly left Three Broomsticks. Maybe Harry was a little paranoid about the whole thing ? No, not possible. That situation was clearly wrong.
-Merlin, you are so annoying-Ron moaned. 
He turned back to his friends. 
Hermione smiled and took a sip of her butterbear. Ron chuckled when she put the mug down. 
-What ?-she asked confused.
She looked at Harry and then he understood. She didn't know that some of the froth from the butterbeer looked now like a moustache on her upper lip. He couldn't help but smile too. Even that made her look cute. 
He took one of the tissues that were set in the middle of the table. He meant to give it to her but he changed his mind when something came to his mind. Instead of giving Hermione the tissue he slowly and carefully removed the remaining froth from her face just like she did when Malfoy broke his nose and he was bleeding. 
Once again he thought what it would be like if he kissed her. The idea just came to his mind-he couldn't help it, not when he was almost touching her. Her lips were almost asking him to kiss her.
The look of surprise quickly dissapeared from her face. In its place appeared the look that he liked so much-one full of tenderness and delicacy. Sometimes he liked to think that that look was kept only for him. Maybe it was foolish...But who cared ? 
-Thank you-she whispered it so quietly that he almost didn't hear her. 
He blushed and cast a quick glance at Ron to check whether he saw what's just happened. But thankfully he was watching Ginny and Dean again, although he tried to play it cool it was obvious that it still bothered him.
Who would have thought that Ron could be such an overprotective brother ?
*******
-How is it possible that when something bad happens the three of you are always there ?
The way McGonagall was looking at them at that time was a mix of concern and surprise, it wasn't the first time when she was giving them 'the talk'.
-Professor, I have been asking myself that question for a six years.
Harry couldn't agree more with Ron. No matter how many times he thought about it there was simply no answer to that question.
He needed to put his thoughts in order. 
They left the Three Broomsticks, but unfortunately right before that Slughorn came up to them and invited him and Hermione for one of his parties for, as he put it, special students. Right then he really envied Ron that their new professor called him Wallenby.
On their way back they saw Katie Bell and her friend. They were going back to the castle as well. Up to then everything was normal. Because the next thing he saw was Katie being literally thrown into the air by some invisible force. She didn't scream, didn't even say anything. Her eyes were wide open and her arms spread out but it was clear that she was completely under the power of...something.
-Severus...It's good that you came. Take a look at it.
Harry watched carefully how Snape walked past them without a second glance and stood by the counter on which the spell-bound object was. It turned out to be just a simple necklace, but on the other hand nothing in the magic world was simple or normal.
-What do you think ?-McGonagall asked.
-Miss Bell does not know how lucky she was-said Snape making the necklace float in front of him.
-It was a Charm, wasn't it ?-Harry asked though he didn't really need to as the answer was clear.
-Most likely, yes.
Then it hit him. Malfoy.
How come he did not think of it earlier ? 
While they were at the Inn he saw that Draco and Katie came out of the same room and that Katie was holding some package in her hands. He gave it to her, Harry had no doubts. The reason why he did it was still a mystery. 
-It was Malfoy.
He could feel how both Ron and Hermione looked at him and held their breath without looking at them. 
Their professors looked at him too, although the looks on their faces were slightly different.
McGonagall seemed torn between her trust in him and the need for some irrefutable proof. 
-This is a very serious charge. Do you have any proof ?
-I just know it. 
-You know it ?
Snape's voice could make everyone shiver but Harry wouldn't let that happen. It was clear as a day that he didn't believe him, his face said it all. 
-I'm amazed by your remarkable abilities, Potter.
Harry hated it when Snape talked to him like that. As if he wanted to challenge him, dare him"Go on, Potter. Say it."
-Surely, it must feel wondeful to be the Chosen One, am I right ?
Harry kept looking into Snape's eyes that entire time, he would not let him think that he intimidated him or that he was afraid of him. He wasn't and he knew that that drove Snape mad, as usually it took him just one look at students to break them.
-Enough of this. Now go to your rooms-McGonagall's calm voice broke through the air.
Ron put a hand on his shoulder.
-Let's go, mate.  
*******
Hermione said that he had an obsession.
Did he ? 
No, it wasn't obsession. It was simple curiosity and will to prevent something bad from happening. There was nothing wrong in that. 
Although...On the other hand, if he didn't have obsession why was he looking at the Marauders Map trying to find where Malfoy was ?
Maybe he needed to let go just a little bit. 
He put the Map on his bedside table. He should get some sleep as he could feel that he was really close to having a headache. Too many things happened in such a short time. 
Yes, a good sleep was what he needed.
-What do you think Dean sees in Ginny ?
Ron was awake too, but for very different reasons. 
-What does she see in him ?-Harry said without opening his eyes, he really didn't want to have that conversation, not at that hour.
-In Dean ? Well, he is smart.
Harry snorted.
-A few hours ago you said he is an idiot.
-I know. But I had to say it, he was kissing my sister. It's my duty as a big brother, I have to hate him. 
-I guess...
-You know, I think I would feel like that too if I saw Hermione kissing someone.
That made Harry open his eyes. Did he really mean that ? He never had any doubts that as much as Ron and Hermione fought they also liked each other very much. But he had no idea that for Ron she was like another sister. It was good, great even. At some point Harry even thought that maybe there could be something between his friends, but no. They were too different, and the amount of time they spend yelling at each other. 
Harry was glad that his best friend didn't have any feeling towards the girl he liked. And yet...He saw how uncomfortable he was around Ginny and Dean. What if someday he and Hermione...If it turned out that she felt the same way about him and they got together, would Ron react like that too ? 
-So, what do you think ?
He looked at Ron who was lying on his bed.
-What ?-he wasn't sure what Ron meant as he got distracted by his thoughts.
-Why do you think Dean likes her ?
-Ginny ? Well, she's smart and pretty. She can also be funny. But you shouldn't be asking me that. Ask Dean.
By the look on Ron's face he was sure that he wouldn't do it. 
-No, thank you. 
For a few moments there was complete silence and Harry thought that maybe Ron fell asleep.He took of his glasses and put them next to the Map.
-What about Hermione ?
That got his attention.
-What about Hermione ?-he asked back.
-I mean...Why do you think Cormac wants to meet her so much ?
Why ? That is a good question because Harry was sure that McLaggen did not have good intentions. He was arrogant, way too sure of himself, pompous. Hermione deserved better, so much better. 
-Hermione is smart, funny, helpful, loyal, caring. You may think that she cares only about books but there is nothing more important to her than the people she loves-Harry smiled to himself-And she's beautiful. Have you ever noticed how her eyes change color depending on her mood ? When she's happy they are like amber, but when she's mad they are darker, like chocolate...
He didn't have his glasses on but even without them he could tell that something changed in the way Ron was looking at him. 
-What ?-he asked although he knew he said too much. 
-There is something new in the way you talk about her. I don't know what yet, but...-suddenly he stopped talking and it was so quiet that Harry was sure Ron could hear his rapid heartbeat.
-Do you...
-You know, it was a long day and I'm pretty tired so...Goodnight.
He turned his back to Ron hoping that his friend would just do the same.
-If you say so. Goodnight. 
He released the breath he didn't even know was holding. He needed to be more careful. Ron couldn't find out about his feelings for Hermione before she did. It wasn't fair. 
He should talk to her. He should.
But how ? How do you tell you friend that you love her ?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 5

Harry turned left and sighed when he saw the entrance to the Common Room. Just a few more steps...He was exhausted-the Quidditch match with Slytherin was taking place in a few days so he along with other team members spent every free second training.
Only a few students were still up, one of them was Hermione. She was sitting in her favourite spot on the couch with a book in her hands. That sight never failed to warm his heart. She looked so...so Hermione.
'Was she waiting for me ?'he thought' Yeah, keep telling yourself that.'
She probably just got to much into the book and lost track of time.
-"Hogwarts:A History" again ?-he asked sitting down next to her.
-Of course, what else ?-she replied without looking up.
Harry stretched his legs in front of him and let out a deep sigh.
-Tired ?
-Hmm...I have a headache.
That made her look up imediatedly with a worried look on her face.
-Is it your scar ?
Harry was surprised when he realized that no, it wasn't the scar at all. That thought didn't even cross his mind.
He shook his head.
-No. The weather outisde is terrible, that must be it.
It was cold and windy and he spent hours on a broom out there.
-Good. Maybe you should go to Madame Pomfrey for some potion ?
Harry shook his head again.
-No, it's not that bad. Have you seen Ron ?
-Yes, he came back some twenty minutes before you did. He went straight to bed only saying that his back were killing him.
Ron did a good job today but Harry knew that he was getting really nervous. He could only hope that it wouldn't have any bad effect on him during the game. He didn't want to replace Ron with Cormac-but he feared that if things went wrong he would have no choice.
-Do you remember that we're going to Slughorn tomorrow ?
Harry groaned. Merlin...
-So you do...-Hermione laughed.
-You have no idea how happy I am that you're coming too.
She got those rosy cheeks he like so much-just the reaction he was hoping for.
-Are you ?-she asked.
Harry nodded but the move made his headache worse and he grimaced.
-Can I try something ?-Hermione said closing her book and putting it on the table next to her-My mother would do it when I was having a headache.
-Sure.
-Lie down and put your head on my lap.
For a moment he wasn't sure if he heard her right. He was supposed to do what ?
-Hermione...
Not that he didn't want to do it. He trusted her the most in the whole world but the thought of getting so close to her and being so intimate...He just wasn't sure if he would be able to control himself and his feelings because with each passing day it was harder.
But when he watched how Hermione sat up straight and put a pillow on her lap he knew there was no turning back.
He was both excited and terrified.
-Come on-she urged him.
It was a very comfortable position and he could easily get used to it. He had a perfect view of Hermione. Her brown, warm eyes. The locks of her hair framing her face.
He would be happy if he could spend the rest of his life like that-Voldemort and everything else be damned.
Hermione put her hands on his temples and started to move them in slow, circular movements. He couldn't stop the moan that escaped him, it simply felt too good. He closed his eyes in pleasure and a little bit of embarrassment.
All the tension left his body. He was fairly sure that he has never felt so relaxed and calm.
-Better ?-he heard her whisper.
He only moaned again in response. She laughed lightly and kept rubbing his head. She didn't ask whether he wanted her to continue.
She knew he did.
*******
-Why is Slughorn so important to Dumbledore ?-Hermione asked as they were walking down the corridor to the mentioned professor's party.
-He said that Slughorn was Voldemort's favourite teacher when he was at Hogwarts.
By the look on Hermione's face Harry could tell that whatever answer she was expecting it definitely wasn't that.
-It's hard for me to picture him as a young man...walking the same corridors as we do, going to the same classrooms...
Harry nodded in understanding. For him it was hard too if not impossible.
-Then what does Dumbledore want you to do ?
Harry shrugged.
-Not sure. For now he said that I should stay close to Slughorn, gain his trust. You know...be the Golden Boy that he thinks I am.
They were one of the last people to arrive. Neville was already there-good, at least one familiar, friendly face-beside Hermione of course. He knew the rest of the students but only by sight.
-Harry, my boy ! And Miss Granger ! I'm so glad you made it-Slughorn welcomed them with his usual enthusiasm.
Maybe this evening will be better than he thought...
But in the next moment he knew it wouldn't be. McLaggen.
What was he even doing here ? And why was he getting up from his chair and walking over to...him ? No ! Hermione !
Harry looked at her and saw how her body tensed a little.
-Hello, Hermione-McLaggen greeted her with the always-present smirk on his face.
He was that kind of person that you simply wouldn't like-no matter what.
-Cormac.
He didn't adress Harry in any way, didn't even look in his direction. Was he only pretending he didn't notice him ?
-Come, I have saved you a sit-he said gesturing with his head towards the table.
-Oh...
For a moment Harry actually thought that she would accept...Not because she wanted to but because she was just too polite to say no.
But he was wrong, and Merlin, he was never so happy about it !
-Thank you, but no-she moved closer to Harry and locked her arm with his-I already have company.
Harry was sure that he wouldn't forget the look on Cormac's face for as long as he lived. At first he thought about saying something but no, there was no need.
-That was amazing-he said quietly so that only Hermione could hear him.
She giggled softly and squeezed his arm.
-Thank you.
Feeling as proud as a peacock he led Hermione to the two seats next to Neville who smiled when he saw them.
*******
-Do you know why Ginny didn't show up ?-Harry asked pointing with his head at the empty seat on the other side of the table.
-She mentioned something about Dean when I spoke to her earlier-Hermione took a sip of water-I think they had a fight...Maybe she will come.
Harry doubted that. They were already half-way through the dessert that Slughorn has served them tonight. He had to admit that so far that party wasn't so bad. Well, it wasn't the best one but still...
He didn't have a chance to talk to his professor but that was not a problem, as he planned to stay and wait until everyone else has left. He needed to be alone with Slughorn in order to really talk with him about Voldemort.
-So Cormac, I have heard that your family is in good terms with the Minister-Slughorn turned his attention to McLaggen, who was sitting right next to him.
-Yes, sir. We're planning to spend the winter break with him.
Could he be any more pompous ?
While he was saying that his eyes stayed on Hermione. Was he actually trying to impress her with that ? Well, it only showed that he didn't know her at all. Harry looked at her but it seemed that she wasn't even listening as she was deep in conversation with Neville.
-My dear Miss Granger ?
Only that brought her attention back.
-Yes ?
-I was wondering what do your parents do in the Muggle world ?
Harry frowned. They were dentists, right ?
-They are dentists.
Yes !
By the looks on other's faces he knew they had absolutely no idea who a dentist is. Hermione noticed that too because she started explaining.
-They heal people's teeth.
-Fascinating...-Harry wanted to laugh because at that moment Slughorn was just like a baby who learnt something new that was obvious to adults but for him in was pure magic-Is it dangerous ?
Harry took a bite of his dessert to try and hide the smirk on his face.
But honestly it was a good question: could it be dangerous ?
-Not really. There is nothing interesting about it.
-Nonsense, Miss Granger. Everythink that Muggles do is of a particular interest to me.
-Is being a dentist really so boring ?-Harry asked in a low voice when Slughorn turned his attention to some other student.
-Well...To my parents no. To me...a little bit-Hermione smiled-That is why I told them straight away that I don't plan on staying in the Muggle world.
Harry nodded. To be honest he expected that. He couldn't picture himself anywhere else either. He had everything he needed in this world.
-When are you going to talk to Slughorn ?-Hermione asked.
If he had a choice he wouldn't do it at all. One of the reason was that he had absolutely no idea how to start, because if there was something he was sure about it was that he couldn't ask him about Voldemort just like that. He needed a plan and he told Hermione so.
-Right. If you ask him out of the clear blue sky he will know something is up immediatedly.
-That's my point-he looked across the table at his professor.
-You should start slowly. Carefully. Be his friend...sort of-she frowned-Or rather...Be the star. The Golden Boy.
-But I'm not...
He started to protest but she interrupted him.
-Just let him think that you are. I know you're not-her smile made him week in the knees and he was fairly sure that if he wasn't sitting he would have fallen down- You are Harry.
*******
In the end he decided that the sooner the better and told Hermione that he would stay and wait until everyone else has left to talk to Slughorn.
-Good luck-she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and left with Neville.
Merlin, if she only knew how much strenght she gave him with that kiss.
Right. Easier said than done.
Slughorn was standing by the table pouring himself yet another drink.
He started to make his way over to him but stopped when he saw something with the corner of his eye. It looked like an hourglass. It was an hourglass, but he has never seen anything similar before. It was a magic object without doubt- the sand was both in the upper and bottom part of it at the same time and was moving rather slowly.
-It's an interesting object, isn't it ?-he heard Slughorn's voice and soon the professor was standing next to him-If the sand is moving fast it means the conversation is interesting. If not...Anyway. Do you want to talk about something, my boy ? Your friends already left.
Should he say no or yes ? He had to play it smart. He couldn't ask him straight away.
-Nothing in particular. I hope you don't mind, maybe I should go. I wouldn't want to run into someone at this late hour.
-Nonsense. You out of all people don't have to worry.
Harry raised his eyebrows.
-You see, people who want to become someone dream of being a part my collection.
-Collection ?
Slughorn looked to his right and Harry followed until he noticed the all the pictures and photos that he saw during his first meeting with professor. His children-he said then-his students. His pride.
-But you already are someone, aren't you ?
Someone. Harry knew very well that to Slughorn 'someone' meant a lot. A hero. The Boy Who Lived. Powerful wizard. A crown jewel he hoped to gain for his collection. Was there anything else in Harry that interested him ? Did he have any rules or terms concerning someone that he wanted for his collection ?
-Was Voldemort ever a part of it ?
He had no idea how or when that thought came to his mind. He wasn't even aware that he was speaking until he heard his voice.
Slughorn turned his head towards him so quickly that for a moment Harry feared that he would break his neck. He could see how tense the old man became, the grip he had on the glass he was holding tightened to the point that Harry was expecting it to break and fall onto the floor in pieces.
-Forgive me sir. He killed my parents.
Slughorn nodded but Harry could see that he had so many thoughts going around in his head that he probably didn't even notice what he was doing.
-Yes...That is..I understand that you want to know...
Professor closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. When he opened them Harry couldn't quite name what he saw in them.
-But I'm afraid I will dissapoint you. When I met Tom he was like every other student. Maybe more closed but still...If he had a monster inside him...At that time he must have kept him really deep.
If ? No. Tom Riddle was never alone. Voldemort was always with him. Waiting.
*******
As Harry was walking down the corridor towards the Great Hall the next morning the same thoughts were still running around in his head. He wasn't quite happy with how his conversation with Slughorn went last night.
He didn't find out a lot. Slughorn wasn't very talkative and to be honest Harry could understand him.
When he entered the Great Hall most of the students were already there. Hermione and Ginny and were sitting at the table. All of his team, already dressed up and ready, as well. Although...Not all of his team. Ron wasn't there. Harry could only hope that he didn't get some sort of a panic attack right before the game. He had another player he could fill in for Ron, but the fact that the said player was Cormac didn't sound so appealing.
He sat down next to Hermione.
-Hi, ready for the game ?-she asked as she turned to him.
-Ready-he said pouring himself some juice.
-How did your conversation with Slughorn go ?
He let out a deep sigh.
-Not so great, huh ?
-No. Well it wasn't tragic but still...
Still...
She put her hand on his and gave it a little squeeze.
-You will have another chance. Don't worry.
He wondered if he would ever stop having this feeling in his stomach, the Muggles called it butterflies, everytime she was near him or touched him. If his heart would ever slow down.
No. Somehow he knew it would never end.
-Thanks.
With the corner of his eye he saw someone sit opposite them. Why was it that each time he and Hermione were having a little moment someone was there to interrupt ?
-Are you alright, Ron ?
Harry was really relieved that Ron finally made it. Although, when he looked at him he got a little concerned.
-You don't look good mate. Eat something.
-Maybe in a bit.
In a bit ? Alright, something was really wrong.
-So ? How was it ?
-How was what ?
-At Slughorn's.
-Oh. Nothing special really-Hermione looked at him and he nodded along-Harry took his time with the dessert.
-Very funny.
He didn't get too much to eat while he was with the Dursleys so he learnt to appreciate every little bite.
-The next party will be before Christmas-Hermione continued-We can take someone with us if we want.
-Really ? So who are you going to take ?-Harry noticed that little spark in Ron's eyes and he knew that he was going to say something to piss Hermione off-Cormac maybe ?
He was more than glad that Hermione didn't have her wand with her at that moment. She narrowed her eyes.
-Funny. Very funny.
He had it in his mind to kick him under the table. The mere thought of Hermione going anywhere, god, being anywhere near Cormac was making him sick.
-Ron.
He looked up to see Lavender standing behind Ron with her hand on his arm.
-I just wanted to say good luck. I know you will be great.
And just like that she walked off with that sweet smile on her face. Almost too sweet.
He glanced at Hermione. She shrugged her shoulders.
Ron's eyes followed Lavender for a moment but when he turned back to them Harry was even more concerned.
-I quit...After our game today. Cormac can fill in for me.
He knew something like that was coming since the moment he saw his best friend mere moments ago and yet he was hoping that maybe...Spending more time with McLaggen was the last thing he wanted but he would never force Ron to take part in something that makes him so nervous. If only he knew a potion or a spell that could make someone's self-confidence stronger, but he didn't.
Unless...
-Hello everyone.
Harry turned left and almost choked on the juice that he was drinking when he saw Luna.
She looked like...well Luna. Every time there was a game she would cheer both teams (except for Slytherin of course) as she didn't want to choose just one. She thought it was unfair.
And that day she was clearly Gryffindor fan. Anyone coudl tell-she was wearing...well something that could be called a hat or a cap ? Anyway, it was big and shaped like a lion's head. Luna's face was barely visible in the open jaws of that unbelievable thing. Although to many it looked ridiculous and Harry was sure they would laugh as usual he found it rather sweet. Crazy, but still sweet.
-Hi, Luna-Hermione smiled.
-Hi, you look...-Ron looked her over-...like a real fan.
-Thank you. And you look...-the smile she had on her face was replaced by a concerned frown-...rather pale. Are you alright ? Are you sick ? Is that why you poured something into his juice ?
All three of them looked at her at the same time and Harry was sure that they all had the same confused and surprised looks on their faces.
-Was it some potion to make him feel better ?
Could she...No, there was no way she could know. How ? He tried to be as discreet as possible with Felix Felicis, and yet the way she was looking him in the eyes left no doubts.
But the smile and little nod of her head let him believe that she wouldn't tell anyone, that she knew he wanted to help.
Yet there was someone who could never be fooled.
-Liquid Luck. Have you gone mad, Harry ?-she whispered-Don't drink it !
She made a move to grab Ron's goblet but he was faster and drank it all in one gulp. Then he took a deep breath and the biggest grin appeared on his face and Harry knew he made a good decision.
-Let's go-Ron stood up-We will win this game !
Even a blind person could see the difference between Ron who entered the Great Hall and Ron who has just walked out. Confident, determined.
-Harry.
He looked at Hermione with a smile matching Ron's.
-Don't worry-he took one last sip of his juice and stood up as well-It's going to be fine.
She still didn't look convinced.
He bent over and kissed the top of her head whispering "Don't worry" once again. He did it both for her and himself. For her to calm her and for himself to just feel her for a moment.
He quikly left before she could have a chance to see the blush on his cheeks and his loud heartbeat.
But if he stayed just a little longer he would see that Hermione's cheeks were just as rosy and her heart was ready to burst with joy.
-You know what, Luna ? Sometimes they make me crazy.

Chapter Text

I Once Was Blind But Now I See:Part 1

Chapter 6

-It wasn't fair.
Harry smiled.  
Maybe it wasn't, but if he was honest nothing bad came out of it. Only good. They had a party to celebrate their success in the Gryffindor Common Room. 
Ron was amazing during the game and what is even more people loved him. He was their hero and Harry knew him well enough to be sure that he enjoyed all the attention he was getting. The constant chants of "Weasley ! Weasley !" made his friend proud as a peacock. The only thing he was missing was a huge, grand tail that he could spread.
He and Hermione were standing on the side watching how more and more people came into the room, how they were joining the fun. Some students from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff came as well. No one from Slytherin.
-I could have always used Confundus, huh ?
For a moment he thought Hermione didn't understand what he meant but of course he was mistaken. The look on her face said it all.
He remembered very well the day when they were having try outs for the Quidditch team. Cormac lost, but no one, beside him and Hermione, knew that she was the reason it happened. She cast a Confundus Spell. And it made Harry like her even more.
-It's not the same and you know it. Back then it wasn't a real game just a training. 
Harry glanced at her. Should he put her out of her misery ? 
He took out the small bottle of Felix Felicis from his pocket and held it out for her to see. She opened her mouth and her eyes got wide but realization quickly took place.
-He only thinks he drank it...
-Yeah. I just wanted to do something that would make him more confident. He needed to believe in himself. 
-I still think it's not fair, but...It is also very thoughtfull.
-Really ?
He was expecting noisy displeasure, for her to tell him that he would only get in trouble again. 
-You did what you thought was best for your friend.
He put his precious liquid back into his pocket. He had a feeling he would need it sooner or later, to tell Hermione about his feelings for instance. For that he would need all the luck and courage in the world. 
-Oh...
He came back from his thoughts only to see how Lavender pulled Ron to the side and kissed him. Just like that, in front of everyone in the room. What's more Ron seemed to like it. 'Oh' indeed. 
He looked at Hermione and was surprised to see how sad she looked. Did the sight of Ron and Lavender kissing  do that to her ? But he quickly noticed that she wasn't looking at them anymore-she was looking at something over his shoulder. Curious he turned around.
Luna. 
He never thought he would live to see the day that Luna Lovegood was sad. No, sad didn't even cover it. 
She was standing near the door so she must have just arrived, but even from that distance Harry could see how her eyes watered. She quickly turned around and left without looking back. 
-Excuse me-Hermione whispered and followed their friend. 
For a few moments Harry just stood there processing everything that has happened. 
He knew that Luna liked Ron-Hermione told him all about it. But he never thought it was so...deep. So real. At least from Luna's side, because he was sure that Ron was oblivious to all of this. 
Without another thought he followed Hermione. He wasn't sure where she went and he should have taken the Marauders Map with him. Although to do that he would have to go back into the Common Room and up the stairs to his bedroom...He would find her somehow. 
The corridors were rather empty, only a few students could be seen hanging around or just talking in small groups. 
He doubted that Hermione and Luna would be in the Ravenclaw Common Room. Too many people and he suspected that they would like to talk without being disturbed, so...Some quiet, empty place. 
Easy to say. There were lots of places like that in the castle. 
-I'm sorry you had to watch that. 
He turned his head towards the voice. He would know Hermione's voice everywhere, even when it was as quiet and soothing as at that moment. 
He turned left into the next corridor and stopped at the top of the stairs. Luna and Hermione were sitting at the bottom on the last step. He moved to stand a little closer to the wall so that no one would see him and he wouldn't disturb them. 
-It's not your fault. I should have expected it. 
Harry never thought he would ever hear Luna sound so sad and depressed. If he weren't looking at her he would have thought she was someone else. 
They were clearly having an intimate conversation and he was sure they wouldn't be happy if they knew he was there all the time listening. He should let them be.
-Can I ask you a question ?-he heard Luna's small voice again-How did you feel when you saw Harry with Cho ?
Silence. 
Harry felt his heart stop and then in the next moment start to beat rapidly. He moved closer to hear more. 
-I don't...I'm...
-People who are in love often think other don't have eyes.
Hermione chuckled and even though Harry couldn't see her well he could tell that she was nervous.
Could she really be...in love ? With him ? 
One small part of him was telling him to just turn around an run-what if she said that she had no feelings for him. That there was no chance. If he didn't hear he could still hope. But on the other hand isn't it better to know for sure ?
-I didn't think it was so obvious. 
She stopped talking again. Harry heard her take a deep breath. 
-It hurt. But he seemed to be happy. 
Happy ? What he had with Cho, whatever it was, was fleeting, not real. Nothing compared to what he felt for Hermione.
-Besides...I never thought...I never dared to hope that he would look at me like that. I know that I'm important to him, we're best friends after all, but it's not the same. 
She was right. It's not the same. But clearly she didn't know how important to him she was, what she meant to him. 
-You know what is the difference between you two and me and Ron ?
Luna let out a deep sigh.
-I don't know what I was thinking, really. That Ron would start to like me just like that ? That he would suddenly realize...what ? That I even exist ?
-Luna don't...
The blond-haired girl shook her head.
-But you and Harry...You are meant to be together. 
*******
He barely got any sleep that night. It's not that on other nights he slept like a baby-nightmares were still his constant companion. But for the first time he couldn't fall asleep because of all those emotions that were going through him. 
Excitement. Fear. Hope. 
Could Hermione really like him ? And if she did then for how long ? 
Luna mentioned him and Cho. But what exactly did she mean ? Hermione didn't seem upset when he went out with Cho. On the other hand he knew that she would hide her true feelings if she thought that would make him happy. So...Was she jealous ? Hurt ? 
And most importantly-if she felt something for him last year, could it still be there ? Could she still like him ? Should he tell her about his feelings now ? 
Merlin, so many questions and no answers !
For yet another time he thought how much he needed Sirius. He wanted so much to talk with him.
He had to talk with her, there was no other way. But how ? When ? What should he say ? 
Great, more questions.
But surely she knew she was the most important person in his life, that no one could ever come before her.
*******
-Harry, why are you looking at me like that ?
He had no idea that he was staring. He cleared his throat.
-No reason, sorry....Umm, do you need help with that ?-he motioned to the pile of books she was holding. 
-Oh, sure. 
He took most of the books from her arms and followed her out of the Common Room. 
-So...Did you find Luna last night ?-he decided to play it slowly, to check the ground first.
-Yes. We had a little talk.
-And ? She didn't look good the last time I saw her. 
Hermione let out a deep sigh. 
-Well, we did not talk for long...She wanted to be alone so I just walked her to the Ravenclaw Common Room. 
Harry nodded. He had no chance to talk to Ron yesterday at the party. He went straight to bed but even if he stayed he would have had no chance to have a conversation with him as he was too busy. Or rather Lavender was making sure to never leave his side. 
Even if they had a chance to talk Harry was sure that Ron had absolutely no idea about Luna's feelings. His best friend was not very good with people's emotions, especially when it came to girls.
When they got to the library Harry helped her put all of the books in the right places.
-So...-she said after a few moments of silence-Do you plan to take someone to Slughorn's party ?
Merlin ! He completely forgot about it. 
-I don't know...Do you ?
He swallowed hard waiting for her answer. 
-No. I don't think so.
Suddenly a memory from his fourth year flashed through his mind. Right before the Yull Ball. He had to watch Hermione go with Krum because he was stupid and didn't ask her himself. He didn't take the chance. But he would not make the same mistake again.
He cleared his throat.
-In that case...Maybe...If you want...
Hermione smiled softly.
-Just say it, Harry.
-I just thought we could go together.
-Really ? You want to go with me ? 
-Of course. 
Hermione tucked her hair behind ear, her cheeks got rosy.
-As friends ?
He could feel how his own cheeks were getting hot but there was no way he would back out. 
-If I said no ? 
Hermione smiled sheepishly and nodded. 
-Yes, I will go with you.
For sure he was grinning like an idiot but he couldn't care less. They cleared the rest of the books. 
-Harry, do you see the girl by the window ?
Surprised, he looked over her shoulder and he did see some girl who was sitting at the table with a few books around her. 
-Yes. But why do you ask ?
-That's Romilda Vane.
He shrugged his shoulders. He didn't know where she was going with it. 
-She's trying to give you a Love Potion.
-What ? Really ?
He looked at the girl once more. He might have seen her a few times during classes or in the Great Hall, but didn't pay her much attetnion. She smiled at him when she noticed he was looking at her. She was pretty, but...
Hermione snapped her fingers in front of his face startling him a little. 
-Hey ! She's only doing that because she thinks you're the Chosen One.
-But I am the Chosen One. 
Of course he meant it as a joke but he should have known better because only a second later Hermione smacked him on the head with something she had in her hand. Thankfully it was only a paper and not one of her books.
-Alright, sorry ! I am sorry. It was just a joke. 
*******
-See you later, Ron !
He looked in the mirror once more although he already done it like a thousand times. 
-See you, mate ! Wait, I completely forgot-Harry was at the door but turned around-Are you going with someone ? I mean did you ask some girl ?
He nodded not sure what to tell Ron. He didn't mention that he was going with Hermione, he should have but something stopped him.
His best friend looked at him expectantly.
-Well ?
Deep breath.
-I'm going with Hermione. 
For a few moments Ron's face was unreadable.
-Hermione ? But she got invited too, right ?
-Yeah, but that doesn't mean we can't go there together-Harry rolled his eyes.
-So...Is it a date ? Are you guys...
-Ron, please ! I would rather not talk about it.
At least not yet. It was all still so new. Harry himself wasn't even sure what 'it' was. Hermione agreed to go with him but what did it mean ? That she liked him more than just a friend ? 
-Fine. It's just that I'm surprised-he started explaining when he saw Harry's expression-Don't get me wrong, I think Hermione is great. She is the best really. I just don't look at her like that. She's a friend...kind of like a second sister. 
Harry nodded. There was a time when he thought that Ron had a crush on Hermione and likewise.
-Besides...-Ron smiled-We wouldn't make a good couple with how much we're fighting.
Harry had to smile at that too. His friend was right, a relationship with such a big amount of fights and bickering wouldn't last long. But despite their almost daily arguments he knew Ron and Hermione cared for each other deeply. 
-I have to go.
-Okey, but don't think this conversation is over. I know that something is going on !
He barely heard the last sentence as he already walked out of the room and down the stairs. 
That was close. He wasn't ready for a conversation like that. Although it was only a matter of time before Ron started suspecting something. Well, not only Ron but everyone else too, if they noticed the longing looks he gave Hermione everytime he thought she wasn't looking. 
Speaking of Hermione...Where was she ?
As if on command he heard her voice.
-Harry ?
He turned around and saw her as she was walking down the stairs. And she looked...
-Beautiful...
Only when it left his mouth he realised he said it out loud. Though, the word beautiful didn't even cover the way she looked in that light-pink dress. She stopped in front of him with a small smile gracing her lips.
-Thank you. You don't look so bad yourself. Shall we ?
*******
Overall the party wasn't bad, although the moment he entered the room Slughorn spotted him. Harry had absolutely no idea with how many people he had to take a picture with, it was all happening so fast. 
Hermione was watching him from the other side of the room, patiently waiting. He was hoping she wouldn't be mad but he could see how her eyes were shining and how she was stopping herself from laughing. She found that whole situation amusing.
She handed him a glass of water when he finally got himself free.
-That was...interesting to say the least. 
-Don't think I did not see how you almost doubled over with laughter.
-Come on-she giggled-It was funny.
Alright, he had to admit it was a little funny. But all those people made him feel like some kind of celebrity, as the Muggles used to say, and he didn't want that.
-Are you going home for Christmas ?-he asked.
-Actually, no. My parents are going to visit my aunt in France. So Ron invited me over. 
He couldn't stop that face-splitting grin that appeared on his face. They were going to spent Christmas together. 
-That's great. 
When he looked around he saw many familiar faces. Neville was one of the waiters carrying a trace full of drinks. He even thought he saw Snape, but he wasn't sure as for many reason his Professor didn't seem like the type who would enjoy that kind of festivities.
-There is no way you can a find a moment to talk to Slughorn in peace here-Hermione said quietly not wanting for anyone else but him to hear. 
He nodded. 
-I know. With all those people around...
How was he supposed to talk with Slughorn without someone hearing ? 
*******
-What are you doing, Hermione ?
To say he was surprised when he saw her coming back from the bathroom and immediatedly hiding behind one of the curtains was an understatement . Of course he followed her.
She looked anxious.
-What happened ?
-Nothing-she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear with a nervous gesture-I...I ran into Cormac on my way from the bathroom. 
Harry felt anger built up inside him. What that idiot could have done ?
-And ?
-I ran away-she closed her eyes for a second-He tried to kiss me.
-WHAT ?!
-Shh !-she quickly looked around but no one seemed to care-Not so loud !
Kiss her ! That buffoon tried to kiss her ! He was getting way too bold, who did he think he was ? The mere thought of Cormac kissing Hermione made him shiver. 
-Are you alright ?
She nodded and let out a deep breath, but her eyes got wide in the next second. Harry followed her gaze and realized why.
-He's coming over here ! 
And indeed he was. How did he notice them ?
Harry quickly shielded her with his body and motioned for her to go. She waited until Cormac was almost behind the curtain and fled. When he turned around McLaggen was already in front of him. 
-Hi, Harry.
Harry only nodded. He noticed how Cormac looked behind him, clearly wanting to see Hermione, and quickly explained.
-I think she went to the bathroom. You know-women.
-Sure. She seems to be so quiet and innocent but I have to tell you-she's an amazing kisser.
Harry wanted nothing more than to wipe off the smirk that appeared on McLaggen's face. Not that he believed a single word that came from him.
Well, he knew that Hermione without a doubt was great at kissing and hoped that one day he would be able to prove himself right. But there was no chance that she would let Cormac kiss her-she said she ran away and that's what happened. And the fact that that idiot could not accept rejection and decided to just spread lies only meant that he had no honour.
Just when Harry was about to say something two things happened. Well, actually three. 
Firstly, he noticed a weird look on Cormac's face. He got pale and had a strange grimace. Then Snape appeared out of nowhere, no doubt thinking that he and Cormac were scheming. But he didn't even manage to open his mouth when McLaggen bent over and threw up...right on Snape's shoes. 
Ha...So that's why he got so pale. It was a good thing that Harry didn't eat anything while at the party.
He expected what might happen next and he had no intentions to witness that. Slowly, he moved back the curtain trying to look as casual as possible. 
-You just earned a month detention, McLaggen. Not so fast, Potter !
Harry stopped dead in his tracks. So close !
-I really need to go because my...
-She will do just fine without you for a few moments-Snape cut in-I have a message for you. From Professor Dumbledore. He asked me to wish you a Merry Christmas, because you see...He's travelling and for sure won't return before the end of the term.
Travelling ? When ? And most importantly, why ?
-Where did he go ?-Harry asked.
He wasn't expecting a sincere answer so he wasn't surprised when Snape just turned on his heel and left without another word.
Great. 
-Harry ? What was that ?
He didn't even notice when Hermione appeared back at his side. She was looking at him, clearly curious and expecting him to answer immediatedly.
So naturally he told her everything. He couldn't help but join her when she started laughing when he told her about McLaggen and his little accident. But when she heard what Snape said so got serious again. She always got that small wrinkle between her eyes when she was thinking hard and Harry found it absolutely adorable.
*******
He waited patiently. He knew they would use that corridor. 
Let put things in order. Flich dragged Malfoy into the room in the middle of the party because he was sneaking aorund . Snape stepped in. Draco wasn't pleased when Snape made him leave and they both dissappeared.
Of course he followed them. He had that feeling, deep in his guts that something really important was about to be revealed. And so he waited. 
-Maybe I did curse Katie Bell. What of it ? It's not your business !
Harry's body tensed. 
So it was him...
-I promised to protect you-Snape hissed-I made the Unbreakable Vow !
-I don't need protection. It is my task ! He chose me !
Voldemort chose Draco to do something. But why him ? And what was he supposed to do ? 
-I will not let him down !
Harry's hands were shaking. All that time he knew that Malfoy was hiding something. But that...it was beyond his imagination. 
Malfoy really was one of them. 
Death Eater.
-You're scared, Draco. You're trying to hide it but it's no use, so let me help !
-NO ! He chose me ! You will not take that away from me !
Soon Harry could hear nothing but his breathing and rapid heartbeat. They left.
So Snape was a part of it, too. 
Harry knew it was a dangerous thing to trust his Professor. But why was he so persistent to help Malfoy ? He behaved as if it was a matter of his life or death.
And what was the Unbreakable Vow ?
He needed to do something...anything...before it was too late.