Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 15 :: Reactions

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As it turned out, Harry was correct. Severus came to see Tom not long after his conversation with Harry in the drawing room, and the first words from him were, “Your precious little brat was re-sorted into Slytherin.”

“Interesting. Dumbledore?”

“I could not tell his true reaction. He bore his customary cheer like a Death Eater’s mask and cloak. He simply told me that due to unexpected circumstances that Potter was now in Slytherin, then told me I was to resume Occlumency lessons twice a week. Later on I gave the boy a piece of my mind, then came here.”

Tom arched a brow. “For his benefit, or someone else’s?”

Severus snorted and said, “Both. There was a portrait in the room we spoke in.”

“In other words, Dumbledore acted like he was discussing the weather.”

“Correct. He gave me no direction whatsoever once he had imparted those two things, not even a request to try to get along with the brat as he generally delights in doing.”

“Well, so long as Dumbledore thinks you’re teaching Harry Occlumency, that’s one less worry. I will need to know which room Harry will be in, though, and I’m sure Dobby will be happy to add his own touch to things. Are you willing to tell me why you dislike Harry?”

“No,” was the flat reply.

“All you willing to consider why you dislike Harry?”

“You already asked me to leave him alone, Tom. Are you trying to get me to see him as something other than a menace now?”

“That’s an interesting reaction, Severus. It sounds to me as though you are well aware that your reasons are specious. Of course, without knowing what they are, I’m merely shooting in the dark.”

Severus’s expression blanked out, something that Tom was coming to realize often signaled shock and confusion. Perhaps it was true that the man was beginning to see him as something akin to a friend, so perhaps it made sense that he would not wish to confess to a complete breakdown of logic. He didn’t know, but he suspected, based on what little Harry had said on the matter.

“I am surprised,” Severus said after a minute, “that the brat hasn’t spilled his tale of woe to you by now.”

“Regarding you? He has not. He refuses to say anything other than that he greatly dislikes your treatment of him. He did mention an incident with a pensieve, but likewise refused to explain past the fact that he was too curious for his own good.”

Severus sneered. “You expect me to believe that?”

Tom frowned. “I don’t expect anything from you except cooperation, Severus. If you choose to believe that I would lie to you, so be it. While there are some things I am unable to say, I would not lie without a damn good reason, and you getting along with Harry isn’t reason enough to mess with your mind.” He rose and plucked a glass off a nearby shelf, then filled it with port from the matching decanter.

Turning around he said, “I’m beginning to think you really were being sarcastic the other day when the subject of friendship came up,” then sat down and took a sip.

Severus decided to join him, getting a glass for himself and taking a seat. “I wasn’t exactly.”

Tom nodded and took another sip. “I’m only now learning how to be friends with someone, and I confess that I have Harry to thank for that. Once he accepts a person, he’s quite willing to set aside the past and move ahead. It is . . . nice . . . to know that someone is there because of reasons other than power.”

When Severus said nothing he continued, “I remember my years at the orphanage as a nightmare of pain and humiliation. Things never got better there, even as I got older. Things only changed overall when I learned of my heritage, and even then people only came to me because of the promises I could make and the power it would give them, not to mention the opportunity to exercise their sadistic urges. Of course, by the time I turned sixteen I began going mad in earnest, and I don’t think madmen can have friends.”

Another silence ensued, during which they took intermittent sips of their port, then Severus said, “The boy is far too much like his father.”

“I agree that Harry can be much too reckless, and doesn’t always think about what he’s doing. Even Harry admits to that. However, I’m starting to think he’s more like his mother.”

There was a pause, then, “How so?”

“Having to bear some of her crosses, for one thing, being raised as a muggle, and by people who despise us. But to be more to the point, from what I’ve gathered he tends to be on the self-sacrificing and forgiving side, and doesn’t seem to provoke so much as respond to provocation. I don’t think he’s all that fond of confrontation. James Potter was cocky and arrogant. That’s not to say that Lily was a wallflower if what I’ve heard is accurate, and she was willing to sacrifice her own life in exchange for Harry’s.”

Severus opted to change the subject by asking, “Were you able to confirm his attempt at Cruciatus?”

“Yes. He tried on Bella, though the attempt only lasted for a few seconds.”

“I need to go,” Severus said abruptly. “I’ll determine which room Potter will be in and get back to you.”

Tom inclined his head and had another sip.

*

Harry awoke, not much wiser on the subject of Dumbledore or Snape after his dream conversation with Tom, but happy that Dobby would be informed of the recent changes. Tom had begun to plan minor raids—a necessary evil—though discussion on that was brief, given over in favor of a dialogue on Harry’s thoughts on what he had read of the first book of the set Tom had given him.

As Ron was still asleep, evidenced by his occasional snores, Harry dressed quietly and slipped down to the kitchen. Remus was already up and preparing breakfast, so he sat down quietly and waited, making abstract designs on the table top with his finger.

“Good morning, Harry. Did you sleep well?”

He looked up to see Remus gazing at him over his shoulder. “Er, yeah, thanks. Yesterday was kind of tiring.”

“Mm.” Remus turned away, then back a moment later with two plates of food which he brought to the table and served. “So, dare I hope you’ll be planning a few pranks for your charming new housemates?”

Harry grinned without thought, then sobered. “I think I’m in enough danger as it is. I’d rather not have Slytherin house after my blood for due cause and I’d rather not alienate anyone who doesn’t already hate me.”

Remus chuckled and waved one of his hands in dismissal. “Where’s Ron?”

“He was still sleeping, so I didn’t bother him. He likes to sleep in, so. . . .”

“Are things all right between you two?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Harry said with a shrug. “It’s kind of up to him. You seem to be taking this pretty calmly.”

Remus smiled and reached across the table to touch his hand briefly. “I know you, and that’s all I need to know. It doesn’t change a damn thing as far as I’m concerned, so don’t you worry about it. I do expect you to write to me more often, though, to tell me how things are going, and not those hellishly short letters that just say you’re fine and that’s it.”

“All right, I’ll try. I don’t think I’m very good at writing letters.”

Remus snorted and rolled his eyes, then pointed his fork at Harry. “If your previous ones are anything to go by, then true. I think you can do better, though.”

Harry tilted his head, gave Remus a wide-eyed look, and said, “If you say so, Uncle Moony.”

After a quickly hidden moment of surprise Remus said, “I do say so. You also seem to be taking this pretty calmly.”

“Maybe, I don’t know. I’m not sure what to think about a lot of things. It’s done, though, so I just have to deal with it and make the best of it, right? Maybe I’m just in denial. At least I get my own room, so I can be grateful for that much.”

“Mm. Too bad Gryffindor isn’t like that. Actually, I think only Slytherin is, lucky sods.”

“Yeah, well, no more listening to roommates who snore.”

The door opened and Ron shuffled in, looking half asleep. Remus got up to prepare another plate as Ron took a chair, then deftly deposited it in front of the boy, who perked up immediately.

“Good morning, Ron.”

Ron grunted around a mouthful of food and nodded, then had a sip of juice and turned to Harry. “Why didn’t you wake me?” he complained with a slight scowl, then went right back to eating.

“Er. . . .”

“I notice you aren’t taking Potions, Harry,” Remus said. “Did you do that badly on the OWL?”

He grimaced immediately. “No. Exceeds Expectations, actually, but Sn—Professor Snape only takes Outstandings. And I’m fine with that, really. Five classes is more than enough, and I think I’ll be stressed enough as it is. I’m not brilliant like Hermione and able to take so many at once and do well. She passed everything.”

Ron grunted around another mouthful of food and gazed at Harry with raised brows.

“Oh, um, Transfiguration, Charms, Defense, Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures.”

Ron nodded, then swallowed. “Same here. What about Hagrid?”

Harry looked at him in confusion, then groaned and dropped his head.

“Would you like me to talk to him?” offered Remus.

Harry started to shake his head, but didn’t. Instead he looked up and said, “How did Professor McGonagall take it?”

“Badly,” Remus said with a shrug. “She was still going on about your safety when I left.”

“Oh.” He didn’t think that sounded too bad, but Hagrid?

“I think you ought to,” Ron said. “Talk to Hagrid, I mean.”

Harry gave him a wary look, then glanced at Remus.

“Oh?”

“Sure. So, Harry did something pretty stupid. I don’t think Hagrid should stop talking to him because of it. It might take an adult to make him see that, though, if he’s inclined to be that way about it.”

Harry gave Ron an openly astonished look. “Who are you, and what have you done with Ron?”

“That hurts, Harry. I can grow up too, you know. Besides, I got up almost as soon as you left the bedroom and was eavesdropping on you two. I think I’d already made up my mind, but that didn’t hurt any.”

Remus laughed and shook his head as Ron continued, “I did something really stupid fourth year, and I don’t plan on repeating it. I’m not going to let my best friend go through this alone, so shut up and deal with it.”

Harry bit his lip and gazed up at the ceiling, blinking rather more than ought to have been necessary. He was even closer to tears than he had been after his talk with the sorting hat.

:I think I like that young man,: put in Tom unexpectedly. :And Remus.:

:Yeah.:

:Who needs muggle television when I can look through your eyes?:

Harry stifled a laugh and dropped his gaze to his plate. As he filled his fork he sent, :If I’m that amusing it’s probably just as well I can’t look through yours normally, lest I be bored to tears.:

:Low blow, Harry. I may have to deduct points for that, but I’m sure you can make it up to me.:

“Harry?”

He lifted his head. “Huh?”

“Does Hermione know?”

“I don’t know. Moony?”

“I don’t think so. I believe Albus wanted to let you and Ron talk first. Either of you up for seconds?”

“Please!” Ron said, handing his plate over.

“I don’t know how you can eat that much and not get fat,” Remus said. “Harry?”

“Oh, er, maybe just a little.”

*

“Where are we going?” whined Ron.

Harry stopped and looked at him, then ducked through a doorway. Careful perusal of the room revealed no portraits, but he went over it a second time to be sure, then dragged Ron inside and shut the door. “We’re going here.”

“Harry, are you feeling all right?”

“Don’t you think it’s peculiar that our bedroom is the only one with a portrait in it?”

“Er, well. . . . What are you trying to say? That Dumbledore set a spy on you?”

Harry shrugged. “Phineas is creepy and he doesn’t like me, and I know he keeps an eye on me for Dumbledore. I don’t like it and I’m not about to have any meaningful conversations in there where he can overhear.”

He slumped into a moth-eaten chair and sighed. “Did you . . . really mean it?”

“Of course I did!” Ron gave him an offended look and dropped onto a dusty couch.

Harry ruffled his hair. “I wonder what happened to Buckbeak.”

Ron shook his head. “Harry, if the hat wanted you in Slytherin to begin with, how come you ended up in Gryffindor?”

“Honestly? Because of you and Malfoy and Hagrid. Hagrid told me a bit about Voldemort and was really uncomplimentary about Slytherin. Malfoy was a right little snot at Madam Malkin’s, not that I knew who he was at the time, and then again on the train. You were really nice, though. I mean, I guess finding out who I am was a bit of a shock, but you seemed to get past that and forget about it. You seemed happy enough to just talk to me, you know?”

He paused. “When Malfoy was such a snob on the train, I got kind of mad. Of course, then I saw him sorted into Slytherin. When my turn came up, the first thing it did was start babbling about how I’d do well in Slytherin, and I got really nervous. I kept telling it ‘not Slytherin’ over and over and it finally chose Gryffindor. I didn’t care where I ended up, so long as it wasn’t Slytherin.”

Ron appeared to consider that, then said, “I guess I can see why you never mentioned it, though I’m still not sure I understand what Sirius had to do with you talking to the hat again.”

“He died. I started wondering if it was because of something like that, that I didn’t understand. Maybe it’s a bit crazy, but I just had to know why the hat was so insistent, before—”

“Harry?”

He looked Ron directly in the eye and said, “I know I may not live through all this, and I wanted to understand while I still had a chance to.”

“You’re right, it is crazy.”

Harry laughed softly. “Ron, I was seconds from death when Dumbledore showed up and distracted Voldemort. I just had to go running after Bellatrix like the idiot I am, away from everyone else.”

Ron gave him a dark look. “You aren’t going to die, Harry.”

“I’m just trying to tell you what was going through my head. Anyway, it’s done and I can’t change it. I wonder if I’ll have to start wearing my cloak whenever I need to get through the common room. Snape told me I’d have to deal with them on my own. He certainly isn’t going to interfere.”

“Lousy git. And what about once V-Voldemort finds out?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll have them all trying to turn me instead of trying to knock me senseless and drag me off to my death.”

Ron shot him another dark look.

“I’m just saying. I think I’d rather deal with that than attempts on my life.”

Ron suddenly grinned. “Can you imagine the look on Malfoy’s face when you turn up at his table?” His face fell before Harry had a chance to respond. “Quidditch.”

“Er, yeah.” Harry shrugged. “I have a lifetime ban, though, and even if it got lifted, I don’t expect I’d be playing anyway. I don’t think they’d want me, and I don’t think I’d want to play against Gryffindor. I mean, can you imagine Malfoy stepping back and giving me his place?”

Ron snickered. “No, because you’re better than he is, and he knows it. I don’t think his pride would let him. Merlin, Harry, are they even going to let you ride the train this year?”

“Don’t know. I rode back on it, so . . . I guess so?” Harry made a helpless sort of gesture, then said, “Nobody tells me anything. They didn’t even warn me they were coming to get me. Just showed up the other afternoon and told me to pack up. Besides, I should think you’re also in danger. Everyone who went.”

Ron shifted, sending up a cloud of dust, and sneezed. “Well. . . .”

“Don’t you get angry? Everybody acts like it’s all about me, and it’s not! I never would have got through any of this without you guys.”

Ron shifted again, giving Harry a sideways look. “Well, I don’t think my answer is the same as it would have been. I mean, maybe you’re right, but that doesn’t mean I’d stop helping you. Yes, I get angry when people push us to the side, but maybe that means we aren’t in quite as much danger as we could be, either.”

Harry nodded and dropped his chin to his shoulder. “How do you think Hermione will react?”

Ron scratched his head, then said, “Well, first she’ll want to visit the library and do some research, then she’ll want to interrogate you within an inch of your life, and then she’ll write up a massive essay on it for extra credit, then get confused because she won’t be sure which class it could count for.”

Harry laughed. “Should I take that to mean you think she’ll be okay?”

“You should take that to mean it’s time for a game of chess.”

*

:You know, we could give him a hell of a shock.:

:Hm?: Harry contemplated the board again, going over his options.

:I happen to be excellent at chess.:

:Oh, sure. Then Ron would be wondering if I was an imposter.:

:You have no sense of adventure, Harry. I think it would be hilarious if Ron eventually found out he’d been playing chess against Voldemort.:

Harry gave a faint snort and moved a pawn, feeling dismay when Ron grinned suddenly. :Strategy was never my forte. Besides, if I started winning all the time, Ron would begin to wonder if I’ve been faking it all along to salve his pride. It’s one of the few things he has over me.:

Within minutes he had been soundly trounced. Ron was looking quite pleased with himself and Tom was snickering in the back of his head.

*

Saturday finally arrived, though not without Harry having been repeatedly thrashed. However, as it made Ron happy, Harry was happy enough to submit with good grace to such failures on his own part. He had also learned through Tom that Severus had revealed his new room’s location, and that Dobby had moved the master portrait from the Gryffindor dorm to there, and had taken it upon himself to use elf magic to ward off his presumably curious and malicious new housemates.

Tom had also slipped into the castle, though he had done nothing as of yet. He had merely lounged around for a while, then left, mainly to see if Severus would alert him that his presence had been detected. Given that he had not, Tom had mentioned his plans to go back before the term started and add a few things himself.

Harry found it all rather confusing. He was amused and dismayed, to be precise. Much like the protections at Privet Drive, the ones at Hogwarts seemed to be seriously lacking in rational design. He even wondered, in a moment of idle curiosity, if the presence of his own blood within Tom would mean that his bonded could walk into Privet Drive at any time he pleased and not set off the wards.

Tom had thought it was an interesting question, but wasn’t inclined to find out at present. There was one very welcome bit of news, though. Severus had made it plain that he suspected the Slytherin students might take great offense to Harry’s inclusion, and had every intention of resetting the common room’s door to allow for a second password—Parseltongue—which Tom would need to set. If his housemates tried to shut him out by not revealing password changes, Harry would still be able to enter the house’s territory.

Of course, it was entirely possible that Salazar himself had arranged for such a thing to indulge fellow parselmouths. And, while it was true that Dobby could jump Harry in and out as necessary, it was deemed less suspicious for a more obvious solution to be found to the potential problem. Tom had also made it clear that Voldemort would, as soon as he could have logically found out about Harry’s re-sorting, impart instructions to the students of Slytherin house regarding expected behavior and so forth.

Harry might still have to fight, but the odds would likely be drastically lessened. So it was that Harry woke up that morning in a fairly good mood. After ruthlessly waking Ron, he and his friend dressed and headed for the kitchen to enjoy more of Remus’s fine cooking. However, what awaited them was Mrs Weasley.

And Ginny. And Hermione.

They stopped dead on the threshold, moving forward only once the door had swung back to hit them, then stopped again in uncertainty. Harry was aware that for all Ron’s joking about Hermione, he was also worried, especially if she was inclined to fault Ron for making what she thought was a bad decision.

“It’s about time you two woke!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed, then said, “Sit down. Breakfast is just about ready.”

“It’s good to see you again,” Harry said, then glanced over at Ron who mumbled what sounded like, “Hi, mum.”

Mrs Weasley bustled over and pushed them both at the table, then headed back to start loading platters.

Harry sat down, Ron beside him, and said, “Hi, guys.”

“Hello, Harry,” they chorused in a low tone, both ignoring Ron in favor of giving him a steady look.

“I’m here too, you know,” Ron complained, sending them a scowl.

“Yes, Ron, we’re aware of that,” said Hermione, her gaze flicking over briefly before coming back to settle on Harry.

Feeling a bit nervous, Harry leaned to the side and muttered, “I feel like a specimen in a zoo.” Ron laughed easily and clapped him on the shoulder, then reached out to fill his plate as his mother distributed the platters of food.

Harry followed suit, wondering why the girls were being so quiet, then looked up when Mrs Weasley said, “Harry, dear, has everything been all right the past few days?”

Feeling a bit mystified by the question he nodded, then noticed a quick dart of her eyes toward Ron. “Yes, thank you for asking. It’s been kind of quiet, but Ron and I didn’t mind.”

“Hedwig found her way to you?”

“Yes.”

“Professor Dumbledore has assured me that your broom will be returned once you get to school. He knows how much it means to you.”

For what good it would do. “That’s very good to hear,” he said politely and smiled.

“I’m not so sure about the ban, though,” she continued.

Harry didn’t know what to make of the line of conversation and retreated into a safe response. “That’s all right. I mean, I’ve been in so many accidents playing that maybe it’s just as well.”

“Yes, that’s true, dear. Perhaps you’re right.”

Breakfast continued mostly in silence, then Mrs Weasley shooed them all out so she could clean up. Harry and Ron made for the stairs, the girls behind them, and rather than heading for his bedroom, Harry headed to the room he had used to talk to Ron. After another careful perusal he flopped into a chair.

The moment everyone was seated Hermione said, “All right. Explain.”