Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 16 :: Responses

16 • Responses

Harry heaved a sigh and played with his hair, then told the girls what he had told Ron.

Hermione stood when he was done and paced around restlessly, then whirled and said, “Harry, you idiot! Can’t you for once think ahead before you do something so stupid?”

“Thank you for reminding me,” he muttered.

“Don’t you have any concept of how much danger you’re in?”

“Ah, well, Hermione, considering that it’ll be me down in the Slytherin dungeons, yes. I’m very much aware of the danger I’ve put myself into. Then again, it’s just me this time, not me and all of you.”

“I would have thought you’d have learned by now, especially since you got—” She broke off, her eyes going wide, then said, “Since you get into so much trouble by not thinking first.”

Harry narrowed his eyes in anger. “Since I got Sirius killed. Isn’t that what you mean?”

She declined to respond, instead turning on Ron. “And you, acting like this is all some sort of colossal joke.”

“Shut up,” Ron said roughly. “I don’t care what you think you know. Harry is my best friend and I’m not taking any of this lightly. I’m also not going to abandon him, or use this as an excuse to scream at him.”

Hermione jerked back in surprise, one hand rising to her mouth.

For the hell of it Harry said, “That’s interesting. Dumbledore didn’t seem to think there was any harm in me talking to the hat. Big surprise for everyone, huh?”

Hermione turned back, shock evident on her features. “He—”

“Yes, he did. So, as much as you want to yell at me for being stupid, you ought to take that into consideration. It was his decision to let me, after all.”

“Don’t try to push the blame on someone else, Harry.”

He laughed, though his chest was tight. “I accept full responsibility for my actions. I don’t need you to show me the light. Your light, that is. Apparently, you blame me for everything that’s gone wrong, in the past, Sirius’s death, and my wish to understand. It doesn’t matter who else was involved, because it’s all about me in your eyes. I don’t know if I should be flattered or disgusted. And apparently it’s my fault that you’ve been friends with me. I guess I’m better than an Imperius Curse, huh, Ron?”

Ron snickered and looked off to the side.

“I could make the assumption that you’re so much in shock that you have no idea what you’re saying.” After a brief pause he asked, “Do you? Are you listening to yourself? Is this what you believe?”

“I—” She turned yet again. “Ginny?”

Ginny lifted her chin and said, “Harry, I refuse to believe that the person who fought for my life in the Chamber, and nearly died because of it, is suddenly bad just because you got re-sorted into Slytherin. I don’t care and I’m still your friend.”

Hermione sat down abruptly as Harry murmured, “Thank you,” and folded her hands on her lap.

After several minutes of silence Hermione said softly, “I don’t think well under pressure.”

“You don’t,” Harry agreed.

She glanced up, her expression unreadable. “I didn’t mean to—”

“You did,” he said bluntly, cutting her off.

She scowled and rubbed her arms as though cold. “You aren’t making this easy.”

“No, I’m not.”

“I said some very hurtful things.”

“Yes.”

“I was being unreasonable.”

“All right.”

“I . . . was wrong.”

Ron threw himself onto the floor as though he had managed to fall off his perch, then gasped, “The world is ending!”

Harry immediately started laughing, slumping down so he could reach out with a leg and kick Ron, who flopped over onto his back and wailed theatrically. The door swung open at that point to reveal a very puzzled Mrs Weasley.

“What on earth is going on in here?”

The four exchanged glances, then Harry said brightly, “Acting out a play.”

Mrs Weasley put her hands on her hips and surveyed the room. “It’s much too dirty in here, children. I insist you find a nicer place. You’re all of you dusty, so I expect you to go wash up and change first. Go on!”

Harry bounced to his feet and made a run for it, the others not far behind. A bit later on, Harry sidled up to Ron and said, “I win.”

“Eh?”

“She didn’t head straight for a library. I win.”

Ron groaned and hid his face in his hands.

*

:I’m not sure I trust her.:

Harry had told Ron he was feeling a bit tired and wanted to take a nap. So, he was curled up on his bed, eyes closed, simply so he could speak with Tom.

:I’m sorry to say I agree with you. I’m starting to think that so long as it’s primarily an intellectual exercise, she’s fine. The Ministry was anything but. Sirius died, I nearly died, they all got hurt to varying degrees. . . . I have to wonder if it’s all become a little too real for her, and me being re-sorted was the last straw. She was quite cruel.:

:She’s an intellectual, Harry, right? They often don’t understand others or relate to them well. You’ve told me enough about your adventures that I’m inclined to think she would have stayed primarily alone had it not been for you and Ron. The fact that you were willing to save someone you didn’t care for spoke volumes. She probably would have been happier in Ravenclaw. She is brave, I admit, but I think a lot of that is born of her relationship to you two. Otherwise, she’d be like a tripod missing two legs.:

Harry stifled a snicker at the image the comment called up. :I’m afraid to tell her much of anything. Even that little bit made it clear she wasn’t willing to assign any blame to Dumbledore, regardless of the truth.:

:You were thinking of revealing the first prophecy?:

:It’s almost to be expected. After all, Harry Potter is reckless and doesn’t think ahead. And, Hermione is so gung ho on knowing every little detail. But, that isn’t the reason.:

:Let me see. Ron’s reaction has you wondering if he could actually be trusted with the truth, possibly even the whole truth, am I right?:

:Yeah.:

:And if one of them ran to Dumbledore and squealed?:

:I guess I’d, er, get all pathetic and tell him how I couldn’t bear it alone, or keep my friends in the dark.:

:Of course, except it puts your friends in much more danger. One inadvertent slip of the tongue and the next thing you know, Voldemort has kidnapped them, subjected them to torture with a side of veritaserum, and killed them.:

:Would Dumbledore actually care? If Voldemort knew the prophecy he’d come after me with even more force, right? And, since I think so darn well under pressure, I might just be able to pull off his defeat, then sink to the ground with a faint smile of relief just before I kicked off. Actually, I think it’s a bit funny.:

:What’s that?:

:He told me what saved me that night was love. My mother’s love. And, that my feelings for Sirius drove you away because it was something you couldn’t understand, or bear to experience. In a way, his ideas about love are correct, but they aren’t. It just doesn’t mean what he thinks.:

:Ah. He’s looking at a twisted reflection of what is, or could be.:

:Something like that. I mean, I suppose it is true that what I was feeling drove you out that night. But one incident isn’t the whole story, or at least not the one he paints.:

:I wasn’t prepared for what you did to me, Harry. Possession can be a delicate thing. So I agree. I don’t think it meant what he believed it did. Sure, you could kick me out of your mind if you really wanted to, but that’s about will and control, not love.:

:I’ll be nice and polite if I want you to stop peeking. Though, given how much time we spend talking to each other, I have to wonder if you’re incredibly lazy or just very good at doing several things at once.:

There was a slight pause, then, :Multitasking, Harry. If you must know, I’m being a bit lazy right now and working on a jigsaw puzzle while we talk. However, that brings up an oblique point.:

:Oh?:

:Would you like me to teach you Occlumency for real?:

Harry considered the offer. Given the access he had already granted into his own mind, was there any reason to say no? He still didn’t like Snape, and didn’t particularly want the man to see much of what was floating around in his memories, and certainly not memories of his time spent with Tom in the physical realm. Granted, that might give him more incentive to work harder, but it seemed a bit pointless. He did trust Tom. Hadn’t he already proven that to himself, the one that really needed to be convinced?

:All right. How?:

:Well, after you’ve returned to school, obviously. Do you think you could stand working in the Chamber?:

:I wonder if the basilisk corpse is still down there or if it’s decayed.:

:Hm. I’ll have to go check. If there’s anything left, Severus might be interested.:

:I don’t mind, though I guess I’d have to get Dobby to jump me. Otherwise Myrtle would get awfully curious with me going in and out. And Legilimency? At least to the extent of knowing if someone is lying.:

:I don’t see why not, though I doubt it would work on someone like Dumbledore.:

:That’s fine. I didn’t mean him anyway.:

:Ah, we’re back to your friends.:

:Yes. An unfair advantage, I admit, but. . . .:

Amusement, then, :You don’t have to justify yourself to me, Harry, and I happen to agree. It would be very helpful. Uncertainty can be debilitating at times.:

:You know, if I did tell them, and Hermione went straight to Dumbledore, if he was that upset over it, he could just obliviate her.:

:That is true. However, you might find yourself in a great deal of trouble. There are other ways around things, but they might be potentially far more complicated. I realize that knowing is something you would like, so if you decide to do it, we’ll figure it out somehow.:

:All right. I won’t worry about it for now. Not here at headquarters, anyway. I’m not even sure I should use that room again now that Mrs Weasley found us in there.:

:I would advise against it just to be safe.:

:Tom, does the specimen have to be deceased in order to use them for an identity change?:

:Technically, no.:

:And you said blood is best, right?:

:Yes. What are you up to?:

:I was just thinking about our deaths. Rather, Voldemort and Harry, not Ash and Coran, or whatever.:

:All right. I believe I understand. It would make things much simpler if there were bodies.:

:Well, yeah. And since you still have Death Eaters to get rid of. . . .:

There was a long pause before Tom said anything. :We could have ruled the world, Harry, you and I.:

:I don’t want to rule the world, Tom. I want to rule over a nice little house somewhere and maybe the odd pet or two. A cat might be nice, though I’m not sure how well they get on with snakes.:

Tom’s amusement filled him again. :I know. At any rate, you have a very interesting idea.:

:Would something like that hold up against scans after the fact? I mean, I suppose the bodies could be, er, burnt beyond recognition or something equally gruesome, but. . . .:

:Yes, they would, which makes it a very enticing suggestion. Does this in any way tie in with your earlier thoughts on the Dark Mark?:

:Well, since you mention it, yes.:

*

Harry went down to lunch in a fairly good mood, despite Hermione’s less than stellar reaction to his re-sorting. He wondered if she would have apologized had Mrs Weasley not interrupted, then sat down and flashed Ron a smile. Ron’s forfeit had been to make a real attempt at finishing his holiday work, something that afforded Harry a great deal of amusement.

Ron gave him a scowl in return, then ignored him in favor of the food being placed on the table. Ginny was smiling cheerfully, though Hermione looked like she was in a world of her own. It made him feel quite sad. The idea that one of his best friends might never be able to look past a child’s view of things was disheartening, at best.

And he did consider it childish, her persistence of belief that someone like Dumbledore could do no wrong. She had had no problem with being somewhat scornful about Sirius. Then again, perhaps the difference was that Dumbledore rarely, if ever, actually told her anything. The only thing that came to mind offhand was when he had advocated the use of her time turner, and even then it had been Harry who understood what the man was driving at, not her.

He was beginning to realize that Hermione was a very strange girl, at once very much inclined to believe in authority simply because it existed, but also willing to defy law when it suited her purposes. That she had more or less openly stated her lack of faith in him. . . .

After lunch, which was a quiet affair, Harry dragged Ron off to gather up books and work, then headed to the drawing room in order to buckle down. Ron groused and grumbled quite a bit, but gave in, so Harry was able to continue reading ahead with very little in the way of distractions, even when the girls both showed up to do much the same.

They, of course, were allowed to go to Diagon Alley the next day. Ron had made noises about staying behind to keep Harry company, but went after he assured him he would be all right by himself for a while, though he did slip Ron money for a round of sweets. And so the time went, with none of them willing, least of all Harry, to make any waves.

Harry grew increasingly nervous as the days went by, but knew that he had brought this on himself, and therefore did not complain or voice his fears, even to Tom, though he knew his bonded was quite well aware. He spent most of their dream time nestled in Tom’s arms, the only way he was willing to express those feelings, though he was sure that had he spoken about it, Tom would have done his best to reassure him.

He was, after all, allowed to ride the Hogwarts Express.

That too was uncomfortable, especially as Neville and Luna decided to join them. After having quietly thanked both of them for their help at the Ministry, Harry then told them that he had been re-sorted without going into any great detail on the matter. Luna’s reaction had been somewhat predictable. After turning her slightly unfocused gaze on him and smiling vaguely, she had nodded and said, “That’s interesting, Harry,” then gone back to reading a copy of the Quibbler. Neville, on the other hand, had appeared quite startled and unwilling to comment.

Harry never had a chance to see Hagrid as they disembarked, and as they rode up to the castle in one of the carriages, Harry leaned over and whispered to Ron, “Which end do you think I ought to sit at?”

Ron turned to him with a furrowed brow. “That’s a tough question. I would say closest to the head table, but that’s usually where the first years sit, and it might be like saying you need the protection of the professors. If you sit at the other end, you might end up with seventh years, and they might not be very happy about it. The middle, well. . . . I don’t know, Harry.”

Harry let out his breath, then nodded. “I may as well appear a coward, then, and sit up top. That way, if Snape has it in mind to be nasty, I’ll be right there where he can get his hands on me.”

“Back to the wall, then, mate,” Ron advised.

Several minutes later they were striding through the double doors of the Great Hall, and, after exchanging a glance, split and headed to either side. Harry felt as though it was the longest and most difficult walk he had ever made in his life. It wasn’t until he was half way up the table that something occurred to him.

:Tom, how come I haven’t seen Malfoy?:

:Well, you see, Harry, he had a rather nasty broom accident. Had to go to St. Mungo’s. However, he’ll be sure to turn up by tomorrow, possibly earlier.:

:I see.: Harry reached the end of the table and sat down, ostensibly ignoring the sneer Snape was aiming at him. :How convenient.: Harry was also ignoring the swelling of voices that accompanied looks in his direction, not to mention the pointing and blatant staring.

:Yes, it is. Imagine that.:

A shadow made Harry look up and to the side.

“Why are you here, Potter?”

Harry gave Parkinson a once-over, then arched his brow and said, “Shouldn’t that be obvious?”

“What the bloody hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It seems I vastly overestimated your intelligence,” he murmured, then looked away.

He could hear her sharp inhalation, then a male voice say, “Piss off, Pansy.” A moment later someone sat down beside him and said, “So, I never thought I’d see the day Dumbledore’s favorite would be slumming it in Slytherin.”

Harry turned his head again and raised his brows. “Am I? Should I take that to mean the stories are true, Zabini?”

“Aren’t you cool. I shall have to wear an extra jumper around you, Potter, lest I get frostbite.”

Harry felt himself about to smile and looked away, deciding to scan the head table to see who was sitting in as the current Defense teacher. His eyes paused briefly on a blond fellow he didn’t recognize, then came back to rest on the table in front of him.

“I won’t bite, you know.”

Harry looked over again. “Of course you won’t. You might become infected with my wholesome goodness.”

Zabini smirked. “I don’t think so, Potter. You are sitting at the Slytherin table after all.”

Harry smiled faintly and said, “So I am. Don’t suppose you know anything about the new Defense professor?”

Zabini shook his head. “No, and I don’t care. Odds are that he’ll be about as effective as a tea strainer in a rainstorm.”

Harry decided to get straight to the point, more or less. “So, what brings you to my little corner of the table?”

“Curiosity, of course. For instance, how much trouble do you plan on causing us?”

“I?” Harry gave him a look of wide-eyed innocence. “I never plan on doing that. It just happens. All I plan on doing is surviving my last two years at Hogwarts, preferably without further injury or near-death experiences.”

“And how do you plan to manage that?”

“I’m sure that will come to me in the fullness of time. Or, should I be concerned about your phrasing? One might take your words to be a subtle threat.”

“Not from me, Potter. I have better things to do with my time.”

Harry gave him a mildly incredulous look. “Better than what? Or are threats meaningless in the face of real action?”

Zabini narrowed his eyes and said, “Contrary to popular belief, not every denizen of the snake pit believes you’re the foulest creature to walk the face of the planet, Potter.”

“Contrary to popular belief, Zabini, I don’t believe that every denizen of the snake pit is a loathsome, untrustworthy malefactor,” Harry countered.

“Touché. I think you already know of most of those who would seek your death.”

Harry smiled. “Isn’t that unwise on their parts?”

Zabini gave him a considering look. “Why is that, Potter?”

Harry shrugged and made a slight gesture with one hand. “Isn’t that Voldemort’s prerogative? I can’t imagine he’s the type of leader who would be thrilled at having to kill talented people for usurping his very personal goals. There’s a fine line between initiative and suicide. I’ve met the man—have they?”

“Interesting. Unfortunately, the new first years are coming in, and Professor Snape will not be pleased if we continue talking through the sorting.”

Harry inclined his head and looked toward the entrance. McGonagall was heading up a line of children, leading them toward the sorting hat at the front. Harry rested his gaze on the hat for several moments, then averted his eyes. A sidelong glance at Dumbledore showed that the man wore his customary benevolent expression.

The sorting was like any other, except that Harry was experiencing it from the other side of the hall, and without his friends. He clapped politely for every child sorted, regardless of house, and nodded at those who joined the Slytherin table. He was beginning to feel quite hungry when it finally ended and Dumbledore rose and motioned for silence.

“Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts.”

Harry only half listened to what the man was saying, expecting it to be a repeat of every other year. The only real difference tended to be whether he spoke before or after the meal.

“Finally, before we proceed with what will no doubt be an excellent meal, there is one other thing I should like to say, and some of you have already noticed what I am about to mention. Due to some highly unusual circumstances, Harry Potter has been re-sorted into Slytherin house. I know you will all respect his privacy on this matter. And now, let the feast begin!”

“As if,” Harry muttered, then reached forward to load his plate. The first years were giving him looks of curiosity and wariness, but that came as no surprise, and Harry was able to appear largely disinterested. It wasn’t until he had begun to eat that Zabini spoke again.

“This should be an interesting year, Potter.”

Harry glanced over, then said, “Perhaps. Tell me something, if you feel so inclined. What constitutes bringing shame to this house?”

“Lack of visible solidarity.”

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

“Then I’ll give you an example. If you get caught having words with, or fighting with, Malfoy outside our house, you will pay for it.”

“I see. And inside?”

“The professor doesn’t appreciate that, either. Another issue would be poor performance, though there are certain exceptions to that.”

Harry snorted softly. “Are you saying that my new housemates will be forced into the semblance of accepting me to keep up the façade of house unity?”

“More or less.”

“The best laid plans. . . . Well, optimism hasn’t killed me yet.” Harry forked a carrot and popped it into his mouth.

“Neither has your nemesis. And you’ve actually met him.” It wasn’t quite a question, but neither was it fully a statement.

Harry turned and said, “Tell me something. Are you here simply to satisfy morbid curiosity, or is there some other motive behind this?”

Zabini pressed the fingertips of one hand to his chest and gave him a vaguely hurt look. “You wound me.”

Harry frowned and hissed in a low tone, “Since the day I stepped foot in the wizarding world I’ve been treated like a sideshow freak. Can you honestly sit there and tell me you wouldn’t also be wondering if our positions were reversed?”

Zabini jerked back slightly and eyed him strangely, then leaned in to whisper, “Consider this, Potter. We have Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Parkinson, Bulstrode. . . . Do you think any of them are sparkling conversationalists? I don’t know about you, but I get more than a little tired of hearing Voldemort this and Voldemort that like he’s the second coming.”

Harry eyed him for a moment, then replied, “That’s well and fine, but it doesn’t exactly answer the question. I don’t plan on being anyone’s amusement of the week, Zabini. I get enough of this sidestepping rubbish from adults, so I don’t need it from people my own age. Say what you mean.”

Zabini licked his lips in what Harry was inclined to believe was a nervous habit. When he didn’t say anything, Harry turned away to his meal and resumed eating, and several minutes had passed when Zabini cleared his throat softly, causing Harry to look over warily.

After leaning in again Zabini whispered, “I was hoping we could be friends.” Then he pulled back and addressed his plate, very much not meeting Harry’s eye.

:Tom?:

:The Zabini family has no connection to Voldemort, Harry, despite pure-blood status. It is possible that he is something of an outcast in your year, hence his motive for coming to talk to you, and his comments. He may be genuine, not to mention very lonely. He is one of those you never paid much notice to?:

:Yes. I think this is the first time I’ve even spoken to him. He was never one of those to torment me.:

:The fact that he’s spent five years in Slytherin house already might explain his method of approach.:

:All right. I suppose the worst that can happen is I get made a fool of.: Harry shifted in his seat so that he was facing Zabini at an angle and waited until he looked over in response to the movement. As soon as he had, Harry stuck out his hand and said softly, “Hello, I’m Harry Potter. It’s nice to meet you.”

After a slight pause Zabini shook his hand and said, “Blaise Zabini. Welcome to Slytherin.”

An awkward silence descended, which Harry broke by saying, “Yes, I’ve met him, several times. Can’t say as I’d like to repeat the experience.”

“Is that so, Mr Potter.” Harry whipped around to see Snape looming over him ominously. “Mr Zabini, since you took it upon yourself to sit with Mr Potter, you can also have the dubious delight of escorting him to your common room so that he doesn’t get unfortunately lost.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I am also sure you will be thrilled beyond coherent speech to keep an eye on him in the coming weeks to make sure he does nothing to bring down my wrath.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Lovely.” Snape turned smartly and stalked off, his robes flapping behind him.

Harry started to scowl, but caught himself. A moment later voices started to ring out calling the first years to follow, so Harry looked at Blaise and said, “Shall we?”