|Summer No Holiday
Author: BlueHorizon6 PM
Thrown into residence with a very reluctant potions master, Harry has to compete with more than a creepy mansion and relentless, sleep disturbing nightmares in order to complete his training. Mentor fic.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Harry P. & Severus S. - Chapters: 27 - Words: 186,902 - Reviews: 449 - Favs: 334 - Follows: 446 - Updated: 10-06-09 - Published: 02-29-08 - id: 4102740
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summer No Holiday
Summary: Set after the Tri-wizard tournament and Voldemort's return to human form. Left without contact with the wizzarding world, Harry is depressed and miserable, riddled with nightmares as he begins the summer holidays at Privet Drive. However, with Dumbledore's decision to begin his training, Harry is subjected to far worse than few meals and blatant dismissal. Forced together by the seriousness of the task they have been set, Harry and Snape must find some way to communicate.
The cold air was biting. It clawed at Harry's face as he stumbled into the figure beside him, only to rebound painfully as his only anchor remained indifferent to his lack of co-ordination. His responding curse was swallowed up by the sudden, relentless gust that threw his hair into his face, obscuring his vision.
Staring blindly into the dirt beneath him, Harry clutched his glasses to his face and remained on his knees until an insistent hand clamped onto his shoulder. A set of fingers curled round his wrist to firmly pull him to his feet. Only when Harry ceased to sway did the pressure on his arm withdraw.
Harry rotated on his heel, absorbing his surroundings with wide-eyes. He clenched his jaw shut against his chattering teeth, pulling his jacket tight against his chest. For once, Harry appreciated his ridiculously baggy clothes, grateful for the little warmth they retained.
Unwilling to acknowledge the black clad figure behind him, he remained silent. However, his stubbornness gradually gave way to trepidation as he glanced at the darkening sky above them. Sunset was approaching rapidly. He knew he'd much rather be sheltered than stranded out, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with ominous clouds hanging threateningly above his head.
Reluctantly, he recovered his previous distance and pointedly gathered his belongings, recovering them from their positions, sprawled in every direction.
''Professor?'' he prodded, unsuccessfully concealing his impatience.
Snape's head jerked in his direction, drawn from his reverie. He threw Harry a sharp, intolerant glance before drawing his collar up higher about his neck. With a small, irritable nod of acknowledgement, he strode on forwards, away from their apparation point, with Harry close at his heels.
It was one week ago that Harry had received his most recent form of contact with Dumbledore. It was the headmaster's letter that had landed him in his current predicament. Harry could recall the fatal words in perfect, agonizing detail as he stumbled after Snape.
Robes whipped left and right in front of him, torn in a ruthless pattern by the wind. Lifting his gaze from Snape's back, Harry glared at the greasy head of the potions master. He could not help but deeply resent the man's effortless grace and sense of balance, when every uneven turf and unsettled stone sent Harry to his knees.
Snape's own amusement with the increasing level of shabbiness that adorned Harry's already faded jeans, along with fresh cuts and bruises, was unmistakable, as was his unwillingness to offer assistance.
''Couldn't you have apparated us any closer?'' Harry complained, struggling to match the stride capable of Snape's fully developed limbs. Harry's recent growth spurt had left him feeling gangly and awkward. Though he was still very much short for his age, his stretched, unusually skinny legs gave the sensation of being far too tall for his body.
''Security, Potter,'' Snape replied briefly, as though the answer were simple. ''You may want to apparate directly into a house you have not stepped foot in for over a decade, but I certainly do not.''
''And of course,'' he added a moment later, glancing over his shoulder, his gaze lingering on Harry's scratched palms and bloody knees, ''one must consider a factor of entertainment.''
Harry tightened his lips, his eyes narrowing in intense dislike. Shouting himself hoarse at Snape, seething with frustration and crying over the unfairness of the world was a response he'd abandoned soon after his first year of Hogwarts. It was a form of outlet for his emotions Harry had yet to discover a replacement for.
A stitch made a quick residence in his side, courtesy of Snape's gradual, unnecessarily spiteful increase of speed. Harry considered ditching his trunk and walking on the shabby grass than ran along beside them, thereby avoiding the loose cobble. However, it was only too obvious that Snape would determine this practical solution a reflection of weakness, and use it as an excuse to tease further. Harry had decided, long before now, not to give in that easily.
Too many days of the summer had been spent laying around in weary confusion, as news of Voldemort failed to arrive and he was slowly alienated from his allies, one by one, for Harry to accept Snape's current unforgivable attitude with any patience. His misery and rejection had churned around inside of him, unchallenged, for too long for optimism to break the surface of his depression.
Harry did not even blame Snape. The man had always been cruel; it was to be expected. It was Dumbledore that bore the brunt of his anger. It was the older man's ridiculous, foolish request that he train with the worst teacher imaginable for the summer, in order to prepare him for his inevitable battle with Voldemort. Neither Harry nor Snape had much of a choice in the matter.
Harry cursed loudly, without censoring his language or manner of expression. The corners of Snape's eyes creased into a brief wince, but he did not comment. Harry guessed he felt very much the same.
With a dark, sideways glance at Snape, Harry cast his mind back to their departure from Privet Drive. It had begun, as Harry had predicted from the moment he'd make the bold decision to allow the Dursleys to remain ignorant of his new plans for the summer, with a series of foul language and firm rebukes.
''Boy, get down here. What have I told you about inviting... your kind into this house?''
Harry clasped his sweaty palms into his lap, his every muscle tensing. His uncle's tone was of familiar anger and intolerance.
He opened his mouth to call out an answer, but his voice stuck somewhere in the back of his throat, Dumbledore's letter clutched tightly in his left hand.
The pure look of loathing, emitted from Snape as Harry finally descended the stairs, was one that took even Vernon and a cowering Dudley, completely off guard.
''What is it that you wanted with the boy?'' Vernon asked, an edge of caution to his voice.
Snape's lip curled unpleasantly. ''What a question,'' he drawled, casting his eyes critically over Harry's thin form. ''Nothing pleasant I can assure you.''
Harry's heart thudded uncomfortably in his chest, as he matched the disdainful expression in the all too familiar pitless black eyes.
''Gather your things,'' Snape instructed, eyes drifting from his student's in order to glance more closely at the large man before him. ''We must depart immediately.''
Harry could not afford to loiter for the prolonged second that he did. Snape, with a sharp hiss, seemed to release a large amount of pent up frustration he'd been searching for the opportunity to release.
''Potter,'' he spat the word as if it was the foulest disease possible. ''I have a schedule to keep. You shall not delay it with your selfish impertinence.''
''I...'' Harry felt himself tongue-tied, the roof of his mouth unbearably dry and unresponsive to the reflex insults that he longed to throw back at his teacher. His palms, damp with sweat, shook at his sides as Snape's presence caused an unpleasant shiver to the run the length of his spine, wracking him with apprehension.
Such hesitation was dangerous in the presence of this man, and Harry felt himself cut down before he could move an inch.
''Move,'' Snape sneered, drawing out the word with exact precision, demanding respect and authority from his helplessly disobedient student. ''Time is not something that I have the luxury of now you've imposed yourself onto my summer."
Harry's face contorted into a defiant frown. ''I didn't-''
"Save it," Snape cut him off almost lazily, his hand sweeping through the air with impatience. "If you are not back down here in thirty seconds, I shall leave without you, and let the headmaster know that your utter incompetence kept you from an education. A predictable conclusion, I am aware, though professor Dumbledore, as niave as he remains, shall be far more disappointed with your inevitable failure than I. I suggest, therefore, that you exert some effort, Mr. Potter, into movement. Now.''
Harry stared at the unwelcome form of his potions master, and hated him more than ever for insulting him at a time like this, in front of his relatives and when he was obviously so unhappy. It wasn't as though Harry had expected a warm greeting, but for some reason Snape's cold, indifferent attitude, when he was already feeling so utterly terrible, cut deeper than he'd been prepared for.
The man looked exactly the same as ever. His hair was suffocated in grease and was lank, framing the all too familiar, severe face that could not possibly hold more distaste than at present. He was wearing heavy black robes, despite his presence in a muggle neighbourhood.
Before Harry could retort, Snape had raised an eyebrow, his lips tightening into a thin line. Harry knew better than to keep him waiting. He about turned and padded the familiar path to his room, breathing deeply.
Harry pointedly ignored his own reflection as he sorted through his few belongings. Dark, heavily bagged eyes, an unhealthy complexion, unwashed hair and hollow cheeks would have been a cause for concern if Snape had been any other member of the Order.
To his mentor-to-be however, his deterioration would merely serve as a perverse entertainment. Regardless, Harry would have felt much more confident stepping into the next phase of the summer with a little more health on his side. He should not have allowed his mind to be plagued by images of Cedric's lifeless body, and horrific graveyard scenes, as much as he had.
Not trusting his nephew's temper in the slightest, and reading correctly the warning signals from the stranger in his doorway, Vernon forced Snape inside, shutting the door behind him with a sharp snap.
Very reluctantly, Snape crossed the threshold, his eyes lingering distastefully on countless photos of a large, fat child covering the walls within the hallway. He did not need a great amount of insight to determine that this boy wasn't Harry.
Despite himself, Vernon's eyes were fixed on Snape, a curious expression adorning his flabby features.
"What is it, muggle?" Snape snapped finally, his attempt to ignore the unwanted attention failing fast.
"You may be a...'' Vernon begun hesitantly, a wide eyed Dudley peering over his shoulder.
''A wizard,'' Snape supplied impatiently.
Vernon winced sharply. ''If you say so... But you seem to have some sense about the boy. Nasty little wretch.'' He cast such a hateful glance in the direction in which Harry had disappeared, that Snape raised an eyebrow, following Vernon's gaze with reluctant curiosity, and something akin to mild surprise.
''You do not welcome the boy?'' he asked tonelessly.
Dudley made a whimpering sound from behind his father, but grew silent once more as Snape sent him a scathing glance, his eyes raking over his massive stomach with distaste.
''Welcome him?'' Vernon snorted, eyes narrowing. ''I never had any say in the matter. My wife and I have always had a clear picture of the boy. I'm so glad that you agree…Other… frea...wiz...members of your... cult,'' he paused, anxiously surveying Snape's reaction, but the man merely appeared bored. ''...They have been in this house… god forbid, and they've all treated the boy like he was half-way decent, but we know better. We have experience of his nasty little habits-"
"Rest assured, Mr. Dursley," came Snape's immediate reply, "Potter will receive no pampering or hero-worshipping from me. He may think incredibly highly of himself but he is as mediocre and arrogant as his father was."
Vernon nodded in firm agreement, beginning to feel that he could almost stand this man. "Right you are. And just so you know...'' He leaned in closer. ''You have our… encouragement, permission…whatever.. to use any means you wish on the boy, however extreme…"
The cruel glint in his eye left Snape with no question as to what he meant.
He eyed the larger man calculatingly. Admittedly, he was not what he'd expected from Harry Potter's relatives. He'd heard they were unpleasant people and that the boy disliked them, but his sympathy had always been with the muggles.
What was clearly being depicted, was not a effortless existence of pampering and endless indulgence, as Snape had assumed fitting for a child he considered so self-satisfied. In fact, it appeared to be the opposite. Harry had obviously struggled to find a place in this family. His role in the composed, clinically tidy muggle home seemed disturbingly unclear. Snape was not blind enough to ignore the blatant fact that, despite his previous accusations, Harry had suffered greatly for the absence of his true parents.
Before he could fathom a response, Harry had appeared at the top of the stairs, dragging his trunk and Hedwig behind him, his obvious depression heightening Snape's own.
Looking between two of his most hated people in the world, Harry despaired at his misfortune.
"Come on, Potter,'' Snape beckoned impatiently, masking his expression as he attempted rapidly to ignore the faded paint on the cupboard under the stairs, where the words 'Freak' had been scrawled untidily.
However, from the corner of his eye, the name demanded his attention.
Before he could restrain himself, he had brushed aside Vernon's elbow to narrow his eyes at the word. He was sure that the flap, approximately the right side for a plate, was not intended for a cat.
Harry did not need to follow Snape's gaze to understand the minutely horrified expression that dominated his teacher's features. When the man's eyes swept up and met his own, morbid curiosity creasing his forehead, Harry blinked and turned away.
''Look here, mister, I must insist-''
''Quiet,'' Snape hissed, cold eyes rooting a nervously babbling Vernon to the spot. He curled a finger in Harry's direction, urging him closer. ''Potter, spare us the dramatics. Come here. You shall learn, during our... time together, that tardiness is not exclusively an award collecting trait.''
Snape flicked his wand sharply, causing the case to fly from Harry's grip, land hard on his foot and fly down the stairs, deliberately unceremoniously onto the floor. The action was more to satisfy his own discomfort with allowing a moment or irrational pity on the boy's behalf, than to punish Harry, but the result was the same. Harry cried out in pain.
"Move, Potter!'' he snapped, as Harry clenched his teeth, eyes watering.
Vernon, his feelings towards the strange man abruptly converted to its former on the sight of magic, ushered him out also.
"You heard him, boy. Out! And I don't care what happens in the next few weeks, if he throws you out of his house, or if you leave, you're not to come back here, you hear? Not for anything. I don't want to see you darkening our doorstep again this summer."
Harry found himself out on said doorstep moments later, squinting into the sun, with his trunk and Hedwig clasped in opposite hands.
Snape marched purposefully away from him, following the curve of the pavement out of sight before Harry could even grasp at the situation. Swearing wildly, Harry blinked rapidly, secured his belongings more tightly and hurried after his new mentor.
Snape strode ahead, his robes whipping out behind him in a dramatic fashion. Harry rolled his eyes and followed the man at a slower pace.
The potion master glanced around as they walked with sharp, narrow eyes, uncomfortable in the humid air of the muggle street. His scowl deepened with each pace, as his fate was further sealed. There was no escaping the boy now.
He ignored Harry to the best of his abilities and took in, without emotion, the street in which 'The Boy Who Lived' had spent the better part of eleven years.
Harry, trailing behind, took a moment to appreciate how odd it looked with Snape gliding along the streets of Little Whinging. There was no question that he didn't belong. The mixing of his two worlds, in this way, was not something he could have envisioned using imagination alone. If there was ever anything that could have made his muggle world more unbearable, it was Snape's presence.
With a deep breath, Harry gathered the courage to do what he'd been anticipating all summer. He shot furtive glances on all sides, and then, with a moment's hesitation, moved swiftly to his teacher's side.
''Sir...'' he began, urgency clear in his voice. He paused here, waiting for the man's attention as they fell into step.
Snape inclined his head an inch in Harry's direction, raising an eyebrow.
Harry swallowed back his nerves, more than aware of the lack of sympathy with which his concerns would be met. ''What's happening? Where's Voldemort? Why's nobody allowed to tell me anything?''
Snape strode on silently, the tightening of his jaw the only reaction Harry received to his frantic questions.
''What?'' Harry cried, resisting the urge to fling his arms in the air and cry out at yet further disappointment. ''You as well? What are you all hiding? Voldemort's back, I know he is. I saw him. Everyone's just pretending that he never-''
''Keep your voice down, Mr. Potter,'' Snape snapped. He swirled round to fix Harry with a trademark glare, effectively silencing the boy.
Harry stared back defiantly. He couldn't help but recoil slightly at the clear hatred displayed in Snape's eyes. How could he have forgotten, in such a short amount of time, just how much pure venom that could be projected from the man by a mere glance?
''I cannot answer a single one of your questions, at present, so I suggest that you desist-'' Snape warned, but Harry was having none of it. He'd waited too long for answers.
''But why?'' he interrupted recklessly, knowing as instantly as he did that he would not benefit from it. Snape was not a man to be persuaded, least of all by him. However, that was not reason enough, it seemed, to stop his mouth from projecting his intense, almost painful craving for knowledge. ''Why? Why? Why, Snape?''
Snape's eyes widened, and turned, if possible, a shade icier as he stared down at the boy with all the condescension he could muster.
Harry knew he was treading on dangerous ground, but the knowledge that he was right, that he deserved to know, that he should know kept him pushing, even though he was more than aware that his teacher couldn't care less about how much he did or didn't know, no matter how much it antagonized him.
''The depth of your own self-pitying never ceases to astound me, Potter,'' Snape sneered in disdain. ''What in Melin's name do you think you are asking?''
He tore his eyes from Harry's to glance at the number of houses stretched on either side of them, their windows thrown open as far as they would go in the stifling heat. He could not detect any eavesdroppers, but the sight of the dust on the cars and the abandoned hoses made him aware, once more, of his own personal discomfort.
He pulled fractionally at the confines of his tight collar, before lowering his voice to the boy. ''Not centre of attention for once in your life? I can see how this would upset you, as predictable as you are, but surely even you, Potter, can understand the importance of the current situation-''
''I know!'' Harry seethed. ''But nobody's told me anything.''
He tried to convey, through his expression, the desperation he was feeling, but Snape remained cruelly impassive and apparently immune to the pain that Harry knew was etched into every syllable of his speech. Uncontrollable emotions were a fatal show of weakness and ineptitude where Snape was concerned, which would inevitably further throw up the man's defences, until he was guarding such vital knowledge indefinately.
''I thought Dumbledore... I just...'' Harry shrugged helplessly, suddenly feeling extemely lost. ''But you're here now.''
''Indeed I am,'' Snape replied dryly, ''and what a displeasure it is.''
Tense silence settled between them. Harry stared stonily at the ground while Snape pointedly averted his eyes in a simular fashion. Finally, with a weary shake of his head, Harry was forced to accept that he'd been a hopeful fool to expect Snape to co-operate with him to any degree. He should have expected this.
''So, you're not going to tell me anything?'' A fresh wave of disappointment threatened to overwhelm him as he glared accusingly at his teacher.
Once again his questions were met only with a conclusive silence. The only sound to disturb it was the renewal of their hurried footsteps on the pavement. Harry sighed deeply and kicked a stone, frustrated beyond belief.
He found an odd sense of satisfaction in releasing his aggravation on the tiny pieces of upturned cobble. It wasn't until he put a little too much force behind one of his kicks, and a stone came into contact with Snape's heel, that he realised he may have got carried away.
Snape stopped so abruptly that Harry almost collided with him. He looked up and gulped slightly at the expression on his mentor's face. It was a look of deep, insufferable pain.
''Potter,'' Snape uttered quietly, pinching the bridge of his nose, ''spare me your childish antics. You are going to have to start behaving in a mature fashion or I shall...'' He sighed deeply, as though for a loss of an adequate description of his exasperation.
His sudden weariness surprised Harry. He searched Snape's face a little more closely. The man looked tired. Really tired. And much paler than normal. But then again he'd probably been working for the Order, actually doing something constructive while he was not, and on realising this, Harry's empathy was limited.
''...or I shall go mad,'' Snape finished, looking in all seriousness like he meant it. ''I know that acting your age may be alien concept to you, but I will not compete with your theatrics for the entire of the summer.''
Harry squared his shoulders. He blew his fringe from his eyes to stare the man in the face. ''I have a right to know.''
''God damn it, Potter,'' Snape growled, anger once again dominating the temporary weariness that had clouded his eyes. ''Has anybody yet put that to question?''
Harry instantly prepared to argue, demanding information again, but something in Snape's expression held him back. He was curious as to what Snape had meant by that particular comment. Of course he'd put it to question. Didn't he always?
Snape looked reluctant, but equally as determined to make his point clear. He opened his mouth to speak but seemed to think twice, and sighed deeply before closing it again. Two small boys on dusty worn bikes were staring at them with open mouths, from across the street.
Snape eyed them shrewdly for a moment, clearly intimidating, before shooting a meaningful glance at his student and moving on. Harry was close at his heels as Snape moved their conversation to the privacy of a nearby abandoned car park.
''You may have every reason to be... well informed,'' he continued immediately, with impatience, ''and yet you are not. Does that not conclude any specifics?''
Harry thrust his hands deep into his pockets and frowned miserably in incomprehension. ''What are you talking abou-''
''Did you honestly not think that the headmaster may have every reason for keeping you in the dark?'' Snape looked almost disbelieving as he posed this question, an eyebrow raised.
Harry's silence was enough to give him his answer.
''No, of course you didn't,'' he snarled, and despite himself, Harry felt a moment of shame. He'd been so caught up in his anger and resentment, that he'd somewhat deserted his trust in the headmaster. Still, that did not make the way he'd been abandoned this summer forgivable. He needed to know why, and Snape could read this only too well from his expression.
''I did not say that I would not tell you anything,'' he pressed on, refusing to move another inch until the boy had got over, what was in his opinion, nothing but a spoilt tantrum. ''Do not dare,'' Snape's harsh voice cut through Harry's attempt to argue this fact, shocking the boy into a half pace backwards.
Harry knew that tone. He was in for a lecture. He winced as Snape's voice adopted a quiet, silky edge that was far more dangerous.
''You need to start listening to me very carefully. I will not tolerate this pathetic plea for attention any longer, Potter. Your time of unjust glory is coming to an abrupt end.''
Harry blinked and was forced to drop his eyes to the floor, before he bit back with an equal remark he'd soon regret. He knew only too well that Snape had his limits, and he was not keen to approach them.
Snape shook his head in disapproval and allowed his eyes, for the first time, to linger over his student more closely, taking in the pale sunken cheeks, the tired eyes, the thin frame and bring meaning to them.
The boy had suffered, just as Snape had expected. Much more so than the headmaster had warned him. He was in for a greater challenge than he could have comprehended, when faced with a child in this state. Utter despair, misery, bordem, resentment... It was not a fit mix, especially with the strenous training programme headed the boy's way.
The intense scrutiny made Harry feel uncomfortable, but he stood his ground, too proud to look away. He didn't know what it was Snape was looking for in his weary features, but the moment soon passed and the man's gaze hardened.
''There is nothing essential that you need to know... at the present time,'' Snape continued, as though there had been no significant pause in his speech, his voice adopting a streak of calm and control, as he forced some detachment on himself. ''So, I suggest, as some long overdue advice, Potter, that you calm down. You are not, as many may believe, attached to the headmaster's hipbone. What he chooses to confide in you or, in this case, not...is not my concern.'' He sneered slightly at this point, unable to refrain the impulse to use the boy's unhappiness to inflict further pain.
Snape struck a warning glance as Harry's fists tightened at his sides.
Slowly flattening his palms, Harry closed his eyes with a deep breath, feeling his misery intensify. To argue further would create more problems than not. Snape was obviously not going to tell him anything, or at least properly explain what he meant.
Snape was the worst pick out of a decent number of people that made up the Order of the Pheonix. Why could Sirius not have collected him? Or Remus?
Snapping open his eyes, Harry gave a sarcastic smile, forcing back everything that he wished to yell at the man. He'd just have to wait until he finally got to see Ron and Hermione to get some serious answers. He would not belittle himself to this harmful bickering Snape so thrived in.
''If you attempt for a moment to act your age, Potter,'' Snape called as Harry began to march off, his trunk wobbling unsteadily behind him, ''and demonstrate, for once, some maturity, I may choose to put you out of your misery and explain to you in terms that your simple mind may understand, why exactly you have been presented with less knowledge than the rest of us with regard to the Dark Lord.''
Harry turned back, trying to hide his obvious surprise and crossed his arms. ''Go on then.''
''Not here, you imbecile!'' Snape snapped, striding once again past Harry and giving him a cold look. ''Exercise some control and when we arrive at the manor, I shall tell you everything you need to know.''
''Arrive where?'' Harry questioned, eyebrows raised in disbelief and confusion.
Predictably, Snape chose not ro respond, a satisfied smirk on his face as Harry spluttered ineffectively.
Mind churning, Harry jogged after the man. He was given little time to contemplate Snape's exact meaning, as the man was demonstrating, all too clearly, his impatience to leave the muggle world.
Harry quickly determined that it hardly mattered where they were going. Wherever it was, hell or paradise, it held no light for him. Snape would hate him no less on account of their location. Nothing they ever said to each other be conveyed without malice and cause conflict and misunderstanding, which could only lead to chaos.
''Today, Potter,'' Snape hissed, turning round at the end of the road and deciding that, despite the boy's efforts, he wasn't moving quite fast enough. Harry did look thoroughly miserable, more so than he'd ever seen him, and it did nothing to improve Snape's own mood. An argumentative, dreary Potter was not something he was in the state of mind to be dealing with.
Snape, however, prided himself on having the ability to conceal any such emotion; a skill the boy remained without. This summer would indeed be an illuminating period. The famous Harry Potter would finally be put to the test. His test.
Snape seriously doubted this little arrangement of Dumbledore's would last long; his hopes for the supposed 'chosen one' were certainly not high. The boy obviously had no idea what he was in for.
He gave his wand a minuscule twitch from where it rested, hidden along the lining his sleeve. Harry stumbled forwards and was forced to grab onto a streetlamp to regain his balance, nearly twisting his ankle in his attempt to stay on his feet. He pushed roughly away from it, as he steadied himself and scowled at Snape, but took the message and got a move on.
Snape waited until Harry had caught up, barely containing his impatience, before leading the way to a secluded corner and checking discreetly to ensure they were well hidden. They could just make out the deserted playground, with its broken swings and graffiti.
Snape took in the dismal setting, wondering momentarily, without much concern, how long the boy spent loitering about here in his summer with nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs and dwell on the horrific events of the previous year.
''Just about sums this place up...'' Harry muttered, following Snape's gaze out towards the playground, that had indeed become well acquainted with in his depression already this summer. He was glad that he'd not be setting eyes on this place, or his family, for another year. It was about the only good thing about this whole raw deal. He opened his mouth to continue, a sudden desire to rant and release some of his pent up emotion, but he was quietened almost immediately.
''Do I look like I care, Potter?'' Snape responded absently. His dark eyes were trained for any sounds or movement. When he was satisfied they were alone, he glanced down at his burden with an extremely distasteful expression, and stiffly held out his arm.
Harry grimaced, the thought of touching the potions master, however briefly, making him physically nauseous. With much reluctance, he held on tighter to his belongings and obeyed the silent command.
Gripping Snape's forearm, as lightly as he could while still ensuring contact, Harry screwed his eyes shut and immediately felt the disorientating, unpleasant effects of side-along apparation.