Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Induction :: 15 :: Trials & Tribulations

15 • Trials & Tribulations

Harry and Remus, accompanied by their generally unseen escort, arrived at the Ministry in good time for his apparation test. Over the past week Harry had trained hard for this, even to the extent having been taken to far distant places in order to acquire the proper visualization cues, though many had been gained through the use of clever photography. On those trips and tests the guard had been doubled, with contingents waiting at both locations—one set would take point and go ahead to the destination while the other waited for Harry and Remus to apparate. After several jumps around the island, they would all return to Hogsmeade to assure that Harry made it back to the castle unscathed.

Thus far Harry had not made the mistake of splinching himself, and that boded well for his exam. He had even redeemed himself for the embarrassing amount of noise he had produced the first day of lessons. Displacement of himself—which caused the air to rush into the suddenly empty space, or be forced out of the space he appeared at—could be more closely controlled. One did not have to sound like a gun shot if one took the time to learn that control.

Harry received his wand back from the guard and turned to Remus, who smiled and led him to the testing facility within the complex. Harry was treated to another group of officials—these were bored and entirely unimpressed by his identity—who shoved a handful of forms at him to complete after verifying his age, then handed him over to the man who would be testing him. After that it was a foregone conclusion. Harry retreated with Remus from the sanctum of bureaucracy fully licensed, and dragged his friend off for a celebratory meal in a private room at the Leaky Cauldron.

Harry was in such a good mood when he returned to the castle that he decided to begin his plans that evening. He had considered waiting until the school year had begun, but after some thought dismissed the delay. That evening he reviewed what little documentation he possessed and his plan of action. Then, he waited.

Several hours after midnight he activated the secret door in his bedroom, slipping through into Severus’s living area silently. That in itself was not entirely unusual. Seconds later he had eased into his mentor’s bedroom and was kneeling next to the head of the bed. Settling back on his haunches he spared a few moments to study the man’s face in repose—even then it showed deep lines and a downward turn of the mouth. Smiling faintly, Harry leaned closer and started to whisper.

“Hello, Severus. You look stressed. Do you sleep well or is even this something to be endured? I would hope that sleep is a time when you really can relax and let go of things, even if your subconscious is busy at work trying to find solutions for your problems.”

Harry paused, waiting to see if his words had disturbed Severus enough to wake him. After a minute or two of silence he said, “I think it would be nice if you could sleep easily each night, and always wake up feeling refreshed, don’t you? So relaxed, so comfortable, so free from conscious worry.”

Harry kept his voice very soft and his cadence measured. He wanted to tap into the condition his mentor was already in, bypassing the need to try and take him under from a waking state. His book, though more geared toward self-hypnosis, had given him an overview of various techniques that could be used on other people.

“You don’t need those lines and that unhappy expression. You feel very relaxed, don’t you. I think those lines are just going to smooth right away and you’re going to relax more, aren’t you.”

Harry jerked back when Severus shifted unexpectedly, his heart pounding in his chest. He waited several more minutes before whispering again, now worried that his mentor slept so shallowly that his goal might be a good deal more difficult that he had anticipated. Still, he couldn’t make progress without trying, so Harry continued speaking, working on the premise that Severus would get used to his voice over time. And then, he’d be able to start getting serious.

Luck wasn’t in the cards—at least not for that night. Harry was just about to start his next set of vague statements and suggestions when Severus’s eyes fluttered open and gazed at him in mild confusion. “Haze?” he murmured sleepily.

Thinking quickly, Harry said, “I couldn’t sleep.” He was thankful it was dark enough to mask most of his expression.

“And you came here?”

Harry shrugged and gave his mentor a faint smile. “I didn’t want to trip over Mrs Norris in the halls, but I didn’t feel like being alone either. I hope you don’t mind—I didn’t mean to wake you. I can go if you prefer.”

“It’s all right, Haze.” Severus propped himself up slightly. “Why couldn’t you sleep?”

Harry dropped back on his haunches and rested his hands on the edge of the bed. “I guess I was a little too excited about getting my license. It’s not as good as flying, but it makes me feel a lot more free nonetheless.” He looked at the ceiling and sighed. “It’s a hopeful thing.”

“I suppose I can understand that. But what exactly did you hope to accomplish by kneeling at my bedside?” Severus arched a brow.

Harry laughed softly, and a little uneasily. “I don’t know. I really didn’t mean to wake you, but it felt nice to be in here for a little bit. I thought it would relax me enough to be able to sleep, that’s all. I’m not usually so restless.”

If possible, Severus’s brow raised higher. “Restless? Well, as I am unquestionably awake, perhaps I can suggest several ideas. Your lessons are over, so you need not be up at any specific time. You could try any number of the beginning series of potions for your Mastery, for example.”

Harry kept his mouth straight, repressing a grin that threatened to erupt. “I could do that, yes.”

“You could also take a half dose of sleeping draught. Or, a very warm bath along with a dry text and a glass of wine.”

Harry laughed again. “I don’t even know what good wine is, and in any case, I think a dry text would just make me more restless. I suppose the half dose would be the most expedient. Thank you for the suggestions.”

“You’re welcome, Haze. The next time you feel restless, however, come see me before I’ve already gone to sleep. Now, if you don’t mind. . . .”

Harry knelt up and casually moved a hand onto his mentor’s covered leg. “I understand. You’re tired. Thank you for not getting angry.” After giving him a soft pat, Harry got to his feet. “I’ll let you get back to sleep.”

Severus rolled over onto his back and cleared his throat. Harry paused in the doorway and looked back. “Unless you’re also feeling restless. . . .”

“You did wake me,” Severus pointed out.

“I’d be . . . happy . . . to make it up to you,” Harry said with ingenuously wide eyes. He reversed and stepped back into the room. The subtle yet unmistakable changes in his mentor’s face told him all that he needed to know about his best course of action. Harry moved back to the side of the bed and sat on the edge. “So. Just how restless are you?” he asked archly.

After getting a narrow-eyed glare for his attempt at levity, Harry stood back up and shrugged his robe off his shoulders, then tugged off his boxers. Pulling back the covers took but a moment, and Harry was happy to see that Severus didn’t believe in overdressing for bed.

Some time later, as Harry was preparing to return to his own rooms, Severus said sleepily, “I shan’t be upset in the future either if you continue with such an effective method of apology for your transgressions.”

When Harry stepped back into his bedroom a satisfied smile etched his mouth. But when he sat down a sense of disappointment swept over him. He flopped back with a heavy sigh and stared at the ceiling blindly.

*

It took almost a week for Harry to research deep enough to find a temporary solution. Severus was a rightly paranoid man and that was something Harry had to work around, over, or under. He had still gone to his mentor’s room every night and spent a short time whispering suggestions about deeper relaxation and comfort at the sound of his voice. And every night he sneaked back out as soon as Severus seemed in the least disturbed or about to wake up. He was able to extend his time by a few minutes each time, and took that as a hopeful sign.

But it wasn’t enough, and it was taking too long. Dobby turned out to be the perfect accessory to his plans. Though he worked for Hogwarts, he did not have a Master. Add in his near-worship of Harry and it was a perfect combination. Dobby was more than happy to fall in—even though he wasn’t the one to prepare Severus’s food that night, or even deliver it, he had no trouble whatsoever making sure it had that extra special touch Harry had arranged for.

When Harry sneaked in that night, the stage was set. Severus wouldn’t be waking up unexpectedly, even if Harry danced on his bed, though that might have caused some odd dreams. He conjured up a chair next to the bed and sat down.

“Severus, I want you to listen to me very carefully,” he said in a low, soothing voice. “I know you must be feeling so very relaxed right now, and that’s good, because you should be relaxed and comfortable. Right now you can’t think of anything you’d rather be doing than to be lying there and listening to the sound of my voice. With each word I say you sink deeper into the embrace of your bed, deeper into your relaxed state. You can hear me, but you feel absolutely no desire to wake up, do you?”

He heard a vague noise from the bed. “In fact, you won’t wake up until your normal time in the morning, isn’t that right?” Another vague noise prompted Harry to say, “Yes, that’s right. And when you do wake up you’ll feel refreshed and alert, like you’ve had the best night of sleep in your life.”

Harry spent a half hour speaking in the same vein before expanding his focus. “Severus, I want you to tell me if you can hear me.”

“Yes.”

“But you’re still asleep, aren’t you, Severus.”

“Yes.”

Harry nearly clapped in excitement. “You feel incredibly relaxed, isn’t that right?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me who I am, Severus,” Harry commanded quietly.

“Haze.”

“That’s right, Severus. But you won’t remember any part of this conversation when you wake up in the morning, will you?”

“No.”

Though his mentor’s monotonic responses were vaguely unsettling in comparison to his normally rich speaking voice, Harry persisted with his plans. “Very good. Right now your subconscious is in control while your waking mind is deeply asleep and relaxed.” He felt a surge of satisfaction when he realized that his mentor’s eyelids were fluttering as though he were experiencing a dream.

“Severus, I’m going to set up a few rules, and I know that will make you happy. From now on, when you see me twist the rings on my finger, you’ll fall into a deeply relaxed trance.” Harry paused a second, then asked, “When you see me twist the rings on my finger, what will you do, Severus?”

“I will fall into a deeply relaxed trance,” Severus repeated obediently.

“That’s right. Very good. Now, when I ask you to open your eyes, Severus, you will do so, but your conscious mind will stay deeply relaxed and asleep. Only your subconscious mind will be aware. Severus, open your eyes.”

Harry held his breath as his mentor’s eyes slowly fluttered open. Looking closely he could see that they were reddened, and slowly exhaled. He remained silent for several minutes, until he was reassured by the way Severus’s eyes kept tearing up and causing him to blink rapidly every so often.

“Severus, I want you to tell me what the rules are so far.”

“Whenever I see you twist the rings on your finger I will fall into a deeply relaxed trance, and when you ask me to open my eyes I will, but my conscious mind will stay deeply relaxed and asleep, with only my subconscious mind being aware.”

“All right, that’s very good. Severus, it’s also a rule that you will never consciously remember anything of what happens during the time you are in a trance. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Severus, you understand that the trance you’re currently in, this deeply relaxed state, is also called hypnosis, correct?” When his mentor agreed, Harry said, “The next rule, Severus, is that the only person who can induce this trance in you, this state of hypnosis, is me, Haze, also known as Harry Potter. No one else, not even you, can cause you to fall into a trance. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“That’s right. You’re doing exceptionally well, Severus. I’m very proud of you. Will you please repeat back to me all of the rules so far?” A minute later, after his mentor had complied, Harry said, “You feel so deeply relaxed, so deeply hypnotized. Now, I don’t want your subconscious mind to forget any of these rules, so each and every time you eat or drink I want your subconscious mind to remember all of the rules I’ve stated. That will include any rules you learn from me in the future. Do you understand, Severus?”

“I understand.”

“In a minute I’m going to let you go back to a normal sleep, Severus, but before I do that I have a couple of questions for you. How are you going to feel when you wake up in the morning?”

“Refreshed and alert.”

“That’s right. What are you going to remember after you’ve woken up in the morning?”

“That I went to sleep and then I woke up.”

“So you won’t remember any of this conversation, or anything that happened while you were in this trance.”

Though Harry had made it a statement, Severus said, “No.”

“You’ve made me very happy, Severus. I’d like you to close your eyes now and drop into a normal, very restful sleep.”

In seconds Severus was sleeping peacefully once again, so Harry stood and vanished the chair he’d made. After leaning over to brush the hair back from his mentor’s face, he left quietly and returned to his rooms. In his own bed, Harry was able to finally relax. Everything had seemed to go perfectly—all the signs had been there that were said to be hallmarks of a true hypnotic state, supposedly ones that could not be faked.

However, he knew that he was taking some risks regardless. What he had read suggested that a subject ought to be taken in and out of trance several times once a rapid induction method had been established. But, he hadn’t wanted to interfere with the potion he’d had Dobby slip into Severus’s evening meal. He had to make sure to find a reason to visit, not only to verify that the rapid induction method would work, but to introduce a wake-up rule and get started on the real reason he had done all this in the first place. With those thoughts in mind, Harry focused on getting some sleep himself.

When he did wake up later that morning it was well past his usual time. Not really feeling like making his own breakfast, Harry firecalled the kitchens and requested for one to be delivered, then headed for the bathroom to wake up properly in the shower. His meal was waiting when he emerged in a dressing gown—he wasn’t sure who’d put it in his rooms, but it was more comfortable than just a towel—so he sat down to enjoy the food while he read the morning edition of The Daily Prophet.

It took him a while to decide on what excuse he would use with Severus, and what additions he wanted to make to his plan. Eventually Harry got dressed and pulled out his current Mastery-related book, then read until it was almost time for lunch. After marking his spot, Harry tucked the book under his arm and took the conventional route to the Potions Master’s rooms, hoping as he knocked that Severus would be in. And he was, inviting Harry in simply by stepping back and gesturing.

“Haze,” he said once the door was closed.

“Sir.” Harry gave him a lopsided smile and flipped the book into view. “I had a question for you, and I thought—well, it’s been a while since we’ve had lunch together, so I was hoping you might like company, and I could get your opinion at the same time.”

“I don’t see why not. Is there anything in particular you were looking forward to?”

Harry shook his head and went to sit down while Severus ordered a meal for two. While they were waiting he opened the book at his marked spot and showed it to his mentor. “I wanted to know if you thought I was doing well as far as time went. Am I getting behind, or. . . ?”

Severus’s reply was cut off by the arrival of the food, but after the house-elf popped out he said, “You’re a bit ahead, Haze, so there’s nothing to be concerned about. If you’re interested in being more self-aware about your progress—at least as far as retention is concerned—I can recommend a test booklet that covers all the areas you’d be expected to know. It’s similar to what I did prior to your NEWTs last year.”

“That would be great,” Harry said between forkfuls. “I thought that was really helpful. It made me a lot more confident and less stressed.”

The remainder of lunch was spent on potions talk. Harry outlined what he had done so far in terms of working through the curriculum according to the guide Hermione had gifted him and asked for tips on managing his time and workflow on some of the more difficult concoctions. Severus seemed almost happy to be discussing his favorite topic with someone knowledgeable enough and intelligent enough to appreciate it.

When they moved to the grouping by the fire, with Severus taking his customary chair, Harry decided to take the plunge. After a quick check to make sure Severus was actually looking at him, he turned his gaze toward the fire while absently twisting his parents’ wedding rings around his finger. A moment later he looked back to see his mentor sitting quite still with his eyes closed. Without stopping to think about it, Harry said, “Severus, are you all right?”

“Yes.”

Harry rubbed his nose then propped his chin in the palm of one hand. “How are you feeling right now?”

“Deeply relaxed.”

“Severus, open your eyes please.” His mentor’s eyes were already reddening, so Harry felt it was safe to proceed. “Severus, I have a new rule for you. Whenever you pass from a hypnotic trance to normal consciousness the passage of time will not concern you, and you will simply feel that you have been deeply in thought. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

That’s right, very good. Severus, here’s another new rule for you to remember. From now on, whenever I tell you to wake up, you will go from a hypnotic trance to normal consciousness. But before that happens, I want you to repeat back to me all of the rules.” A minute later Harry was satisfied and said, “Severus, wake up,” after he had turned his head back to the fire.

Awareness immediately changed the cast of his mentor’s expression, as Harry saw in his peripheral vision. He angled his gaze back and smiled. “Would that test booklet be something I could get right from Flourish & Blotts?” he asked.

“Indeed. If you’d rather not ask for someone to go fetch it, you can order by owl as well.”

“Brilliant.” Harry made a bit of a show shifting his position in his chair to get more comfortable, stretching his legs out in front of him, and catching Severus’s eye again by the movement. Then he fiddled with his rings again.

He spent the next hour taking his mentor in and out of a trance before getting down to his specific goals. Harry had no intention of interfering with whatever Severus did, even when it concerned losing control to the man’s designs. He could always modify anything he didn’t agree with after the fact. But he did mean to find out a great deal more about the Dark Mark, and Severus was the only person he knew that could begin to provide him with information from the point of view of one who must live with it.

“Severus, I several more rules for you. First, I want you to pay very close attention every time you feel any activity from your Dark Mark. You will be able to remember every detail of how it feels and what it does to you. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Very good. Next, before you go to bed tonight you will feel the urge to write down everything you remember from when you were given the Dark Mark—how it felt, how it was accomplished, and what you remember of the Dark Lord’s actions at the time. When you are finished you will place the written account into an envelope and seal it, then deliver it to my bedroom through the secret door and return to your quarters the same way. Then you will forget all of what you’ve just done and go about your normal business before bed. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

And then one just because—Harry said, “Severus, you will invite me to call you by your given name the next time we meet, and feel perfectly comfortable in making the offer, isn’t that right?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve made me very happy, Severus. Does that please you?”

“I don’t know.”

“That’s all right. Severus, what will you do each and every time you eat or drink?”

“My subconscious will remember the rules you have taught me.”

Harry unleashed a brilliant smile that was, unfortunately, wasted on his mentor, then said, “Severus, wake up. Do you have a brochure or something from Flourish & Blotts, or should I just send them the request and they’ll know what I’m asking about?”

“No, I have one you can use. But I suggest that when you send in the order you request a catalog of your own.” Severus pointed over at one of the shelves. “Over there, but I would appreciate if you returned it when you’re done.

“Of course.” Harry immediately leapt up to secure the catalog, then paused to flip through it quickly. Turning back he said, “Thank you for letting me join you for lunch, and for your advice. I don’t want to take up all of your afternoon, so I’ll go get started on this.”

As he’d hoped, Severus didn’t appear to notice how much time had actually passed. He merely inclined his head and picked up a book he had waiting on the small table next to his chair and began to read. Harry grabbed his book and left quietly.

Later that evening Harry heard soft footsteps and went still, waiting. When he could hear nothing more from his bedroom he went in to check, finding a thick envelope on the table beside his bed. He went to sleep that night very, very pleased with himself.