Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father
Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can't carry it with you if you want to survive

- Florence and the Machine. "Dog Days are Over"

Christmas at Hogwarts was the prettiest thing Harry had ever seen. Thick, white snow covered the grounds and frosted the firs of the Forbidden Forest. The lake had turned into a fine sheet of glass, which, according to some Slytherin students, meant that the Merpeople and Giant Squid had moved to a magically-infused warm lake underneath the school. Glass baubles, carolling faeries and an obscene amount of tinsel and holly decorated stone walls and even some paintings brought in Christmas decorations. There was one particularly festive portrait of a 15th century wizard at the guillotine, wearing a Santa hat, sharing a pint with his executioner.

The feeling of festivity, however, was all but lost on Harry. Mrs. Weasley insisted Ron had to go with the rest of the family to visit Charlie in Romania. Hermione was in France with her parents. All Harry had for company was a few Hufflepuff third-years, two Ravenclaw sixth years who were attached at the lips, and five Slytherins, including Draco Malfoy.

Harry had gotten used to being surrounded by friends and people who cared about him. Now, alone in the typically busy, loud castle, surrounded by the trappings of Christmas, Harry's loneliness seemed to be amplified. It was these self-pitying thoughts that Harry dwelt on as he poked at his breakfast, alone in the Great Hall.

"Potter, may I join you?" asked a dignified Scottish accent. Harry looked up to find Professor McGonogal staring down at him imperiously.

"Oh, yes m'am," Harry said, flustered. Professor McGonagall hiked up her robes and awkwardly stepped over the long bench to sit across from Harry. Harry was only eleven and in those eleven years he had had precious little one-on-one time with adults. The thought of thinking of something to say to McGonagall petrified him.

"All the decorations look really nice," Harry offered hurriedly. McGonagall gave him a rare smile.

"They rather do, don't they?" Harry smiled back and was wracking his brain for a new subject of conversation when Professor McGonagall beat him to it.

"I was sorry to hear Mr. Weasley wouldn't be here with you this Christmas," said Professor McGonogal, peering intently at Harry over her square framed spectacles. A flush of embarrassment started to crawl up Harry's face. Poor, pathetic Harry with no one to spend Christmas with. The pity was almost worse than the actual state of affairs.

"It's alright," said Harry.

"Well, I was hoping you might consider spending Christmas morning with me," she said.

"You don't have to do that," said Harry, looking down at his plate and shifting awkwardly.

"Well I'd like you to, if you have no objections," said McGonagall, patting him on the shoulder and getting to her feet. A small smile crept across his face, and he nodded.

"Yes, m'am," whispered Harry.

He hung around for the rest of the day in the Great Hall, reading and watching the preparations for Christmas. Soon, Professor Flitwick had recruited him and some of the other students to help decorate the large Christmas tree. Harry's levitation spell was getting pretty good, and Professor Flitwick was even teaching him how to charm the ornaments to spin slowly from where they hung on the tree. After a while, Harry reluctantly had to admit that he was having a nice time, perhaps even the nicest time he'd ever had at Christmas. It certainly was better than any Christmas he spent getting smacked around by the Dursley's.

"Mr. Potter, would you mind getting the EverShine serum from Professor Snape for the star?" squeaked Professor Flitwick. The joy Harry was feeling was immediately wiped away as though by a spell as he thought of going down to the dungeons.

"Not at all, sir," muttered Harry.

He walked down the stairs to the dungeon, slowing with trepidation the closer he got. It felt like he was walking down to the depths of the ocean, every step he took towards Snape's office was colder and more eerie.

By the time he reached Snape's door, his teeth were chattering slightly. He took a deep breath, then knocked on the door.

"Come in," snapped Snape from inside his office. Hesitantly, Harry pushed open the door. Snape was hunched over his desk, scowling a large stack of essays. He raised his hooked nose and when he saw it was Harry at the door, his expression soured further.

"What, Potter?" he growled.

"Professor Flitwick needs the EverShine Serum for the star, sir," said Harry, raising his chin to look Snape dead in the eye. He wasn't going to cower in front of the man. Severus sighed, and rolled his eyes slightly at the request.

"Wait here," he muttered, getting out of his chair to go to the store room. Harry nodded and looked around the dungeon in boredom and curiosity. A selection of various coloured eyeballs sat in an open jar on Snape's desk. Harry couldn't help but wonder if they were human. He walked over to the desk and picked up the jar, looking up at them with disgust. One of the eyes was cloudy and leaking gooey material into the alcohol. Harry scrunched his nose up.

"What are you doing, Potter?" said Severus, glowering from the door with a shiny, silver vial in his hand.

"Sorry, sir. I was just…"

"Sticking your nose in where it doesn't belong," snapped Snape, grabbing the jar back. The alcohol sloshed over their hands. "I know common curtesy doesn't extend to the Potters, but it is rude to go through other people's possessions."

"Sorry," muttered Harry, wiping his hand on his robe. The last thing he wanted was one of his eyeballs to end up suspended in the jar. Snape thrust the EverShine serum towards him. Harry accepted it, but before he could thank Snape, the man had already turned his back and headed back to his desk.

Glad to be able to leave the man's presence, Harry turned around and walked towards the door. But there was someone standing at the door. A thin, Asian girl who looked at most to be in first-year, but Harry didn't recognize her. She was wearing a Hogwarts uniform, but the style was somehow different, old-fashioned.

"Hey," muttered Harry, nodding at her. She smiled at him, an eerie sort of glow coming over her features. Though he couldn't put a finger on why, Harry instinctively took a step back.

"Inducto!" yelled Snape before Harry could do anything further. A white light jetted out from behind Snape, but the girl moved it away with the flick of her hand. Harry gasped and pulled out his own wand, though he was unsure of what spell to use.

Before he could think of one, Snape pulled him back with such force he dropped his wand. Snape restrained Harry behind his back with one arm while he held his wand towards the girl with the other.

"Go!" he said menacingly. The grip he had on Harry's arm was so forceful it was beginning to bruise.

"INDUCTO," Snape said again, but the girl was easily able to deflect the curse again with another flick of the wand. She pushed her hands together, and a ball of energy formed between her hands. Snape pulled Harry toward the ground just before she threw the ball at him. More sparks flew out of Severus' wand.

Desperately, Harry grabbed a chair and threw it at her. She let out a horrible, pained shriek, but she didn't duck, she apparated to be directly over Harry's face. She was inches away, her eyes cloudy and yellow, her skin was so translucent that he could see her teeth through the skin of her cheek. Harry was too scared even to scream. Her hands wrapped around his neck and everything felt cold.

"NO!" Snape yelled. Even though Harry was almost passing out from the cold, he vaguely realized that Snape sounded genuinely concerned for him, frightened even. Before Harry could contemplate that further, the creature was pulled off of him. Harry grabbed his wand and stumbled to his feet.

Snape threw the creature across the room. It disappeared and, Snape's eyes met Harry's for the briefest moment. For the first time, there was no hatred in them, just fear.

"Run, Potter, now," he snapped. Harry scrambled to his feet, but before he could make it out of the room, the girl had reappeared. This time she launched herself at Snape. More sparks and curses flew, and Harry hesitated at the door. She started to get the upper hand again, Snape was on the floor with his wand inches from him.

"GO," Snape yelled, seeing Harry hesitate. There was nothing Harry could to but get help, so he turned and ran down the stone hallway.

The cold that had gone over him made his limbs feel heavier, and he ran in a clumsy, disjointed fashion. There was a small enclave, leading to a cupboard just off the side of one hallway. Harry stumbled towards it thankfully.

"Dear boy, what's the matter?" a tiny elf in the portrait asked in concerned as Harry collapsed. The hallway swam around him, and with the last vestiges of strength, he pulled himself in behind the wall. It seemed hard to breathe, and black surrounded him.

A/N: Please Review - Thanks for reading!

A/N: I'm not sure if you all are going to get emailed, but I am only posting edited versions of the chapters you have already read, no new ones.