Snape carried Malfoy out of the room and Harry was too shocked to do anything but stay where he was. He was in so much trouble.
Snape had been trying to get Harry expelled for years and if anything was going to push Dumbledore to actually do it, this was it. Harry couldn't quite believe he'd actually used that spell. It had been on his mind for ages, he had spent ages wondering about what it would do. Thank Merlin he hadn't used it against MacLaggen!
"For enemies", the Prince had said. He had got that right! Harry was stunned that the spell had been so... dark.
But Malfoy had been about to use the Cruciatus curse, he thought. Sectumsempera wasn't an unforgivable at least. Harry's stomach dropped. He had no proof that Malfoy had been going to use the curse. Priori Incantatem only worked when spells were fully cast. If this came to a court - which it had to if Malfoy was as seriously hurt as he had looked - then Harry would have no proof of the other boy's actions.
And what if Malfoy died? Harry hid his face in his hands. He didn't like the boy- hated him. And he knew the Slytherin was interested in dark magic, especially if he had been about to cast an unforgivable. Harry was even surer now that the boy was a Death Eater. But he didn't want the other boy to die, hadn't tried to kill him.
Tears started to spill out of his eyes and he could feel them dripping down onto his hands. What if he had ruined everything? Dumbledore might expel him and snap his wand. What if they sent him back to the Dursley's? Or if they thought that wasn't going to be safe then Grimmauld Place would be almost as bad. He didn't think he could stand going back there again without Sirius.
He might even get sent to Azkaban! The shock of that jerked Harry away from his sobs. He didn't think they actually sent underage wizards there, but Fudge had threatened him with that last summer, his successor might do the same thing. Then where would they be in the fight against Voldemort?
He sighed, Rita Skeeter was going to have a field day with this, along with all of the other reporters. Hermione couldn't blackmail them all. The next few weeks of papers were probably going to be full of this story.
Harry jumped as a hand took his shoulder in a vice grip and hauled him up to his feet. He was met by the still furious face of Professor Snape.
"Be silent Potter, we are going to the headmaster's office. Do not dawdle." Harry didn't think he had ever heard so much hatred in the man's clipped voice, including when he had thrown those cockroaches at Harry after the pensieve incident. Harry wasn't given any options about dawdling anyway as Snape grabbed him by his robe collar and dragged him out of the bathroom.
The corridors weren't as busy as they could have been, although that was surprising considering the way Myrtle had been screaming. Maybe Snape had scared them off.
Harry received consoling looks from a group of third year Hufflepuffs who ran quickly out of the way of their angry Defense Master. That made him feel guilty. If he had ever deserved to be dragged up to Dumbledore's office it was now. Snape was actually right to be this mad at him for once.
Snape jerked them to a stop outside the Headmaster's gargoyles, spat out the password and dragged the boy up the stairs. He dumped Harry on a wooden chair outside the door to Dumbledore's office.
"Sit here, Potter." He snapped, "Do not attempt to listen at the door. However tempting the idea may be."
With that, Snape knocked on the door smartly. He listened for the quiet "Come in, Severus." and disappeared inside, closing the door with one final death glare at Harry.
Harry ran his fingers through his unruly hair. He was still soaked in water and Malfoy's blood. He swallowed, trying to keep down his nausea. Harry brought up his legs so that he could rest his chin on them and laced his fingers together behind his head. He waited, chewing on his lip nervously.
Hogwarts felt strange somehow, the room was hostile. Normally the school always felt friendly, like home. This felt uncomfortable. As if the school itself was unhappy with him, didn't want him. Harry shifted his wand from where it was digging into his side, but he couldn't take away the guilt that was stabbing him there too.
A short while later, Harry heard the spiral stairs moving again, and the clack of heels as somebody climbed quickly.
"Mr. Potter." It was McGonagall. She nodded at Harry, her face disappointed and angry. Very angry. She was looking at Harry like she was seriously thinking of turning him into a small rodent.
"Professor, is he okay?" Harry forcibly reminded himself that McGonagall had told off the fake Moody for turning Malfoy into a ferret. "Professor, I'm so sorry, really I am!"
Her face softened the tiniest bit. Maybe she would be generous and allow him to remain some kind of primate.
"It is too soon for us to tell, Potter. He might be if Professor Snape's counter charm was fully successful."
She disappeared through the office door as well. Harry couldn't hear any conversation from inside and didn't have any motivation whatsoever to go and listen at the door.
Harry made himself take a breath. Malfoy wasn't dead. At least not yet.
It felt like hours later that the office door finally opened again and McGonagall was visible in the doorway.
Her voice was still serious, "Come in now, Potter."
Harry stood on shaky legs and entered the office. It was set up just as it had been for Dumbledore's Occlumency lessons all year. Except, he noticed, the pensieve which was locked away in its cabinet at the side of the room. Snape was leaning on the edge of the mantelpiece, looking as furious as he always did whenever Harry was in the same room. Harry flinched away from his piercing stare, it was too close to the looks he had got from the man during their lessons last year.
Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, his face blank and his eyes twinkle-less.
"Come here, Mr. Potter."
Harry obeyed the man quickly. Walking up to stand in front of the wide desk, no comfy armchairs today. Harry swallowed nervously. Dumbledore hadn't called him 'Mr. Potter' in a long time. Professor McGonagall walked around the desk to stand at Dumbledore's left shoulder.
Harry felt intimidated facing an incredibly angry depute headmistress and a totally inscrutable Dumbledore, and especially vulnerable standing with his back to Snape.
Harry waited in silence for Dumbledore to start talking. He didn't have any defenses, maybe he should have prepared one while waiting. He pressed his hands flat against his sides, trying to stop them from shaking. They were damp with sweat.
"Mr. Potter, do you have any explanation for what you have done?" Dumbledore's voice was full of disappointment. Harry was reminded of his second year, in Snape's office during the Welcoming Feast. The only person missing was Ron in this bizarre reunion.
"Not an acceptable one, Sir." Harry said, his mouth dry. "I met him in the bathroom and we got into a fight. I didn't know what the curse would do, Professor Dumbledore, I swear I didn't."
"You just happened to meet Mr. Malfoy inside the abandoned girl's bathroom Potter?"
Harry flinched at the sneer from Snape. He did his best to prevent his fingers from curling up into fists or from wrapping his arms around himself protectively.
"I saw him go in there, I thought he might be up to something."
"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore interrupted. "Please try remember it is Professor Snape or Sir. I have told you multiple times this year alone. I have also warned you that you should not concern yourself with Mr. Malfoy's actions."
Harry ducked his head, "Yes, Sir. I know you did. But it was Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, I thought it would be better to check."
Harry could see irritation reach the headmaster's eyes. "And was he breaking any of the school rules Mr. Potter? Other than being in an unused girl's bathroom? Something, may I remind you, as a prefect he is entitled and occasionally required to do." Harry got the unspoken part of that sentence; something Harry was not allowed to do.
"He wasn't then, Sir." Snape shifted angrily behind him and the Gryffindor clenched his teeth to stop himself from turning to see what the man was doing.
"So Potter." McGonagall interrupted, she wasn't keeping her temper as well as Dumbledore, and Harry could feel the anger she was projecting. "You followed Mr. Malfoy out of bounds, suspecting him of some unknown wrongdoing. Whereupon you attacked him with a potentially lethal dark curse. Is that what you are telling us?"
Harry wished he could run away or shrink or something. His head of house was already making him feel a couple of inches tall.
"He cast the first spell, Professor. He was..." Harry didn't really want to mention the unforgivable if he didn't have to. He didn't have any evidence for one thing. "He was going to cast a spell I couldn't block. I used that spell because it was the first one that came into my head. Honestly, I didn't know what it would do."
"That is all the less reason to use the spell then Potter, do you not think?"
"Potter never thinks Minerva."
The headmaster interrupted, "Severus, thank you, we are here to discuss what we are going to do about the situation, not to insult our pupils."
Dumbledore pinned Harry under piercing blue eyes. "You were unable to block Mr. Malfoy's curse?"
Harry nodded, "Yes Sir."
"Is that your excuse, Mr. Potter?"
Harry blinked, "Not so much an excuse, Professor," he said slowly, "He hadn't cast it yet, but I knew I couldn't from the incantation. I can't excuse myself for the spell." He glanced at McGonagall, "I shouldn't have used it without knowing what would happen. I wouldn't have used it if I had!"
"Where did you learn that spell, Potter?" Damn. Damn Snape!
"I...I think I read about it somewhere, Sir."
Harry thought quickly, he didn't want to tell them about the Prince's potions book. They would confiscate it straight away.
He gulped, "Just a library book Sir, I can't remember which one."
Snape stalked across the room to tower over Harry, who took a step back, nervous. The image of the Prince's book appeared in his head, then Harry was able to see the spell written down and the note underneath it 'for enemies'. Harry groaned at the pain, staggering as Snape withdrew from his mind.
"I see the headmaster has had no more luck with your abysmal shields than I have."
"Severus!" Dumbledore wasn't happy and McGonagall had thinner lips again, a sure sign of danger. "You may not use Legilimency to interrogate students. It is not acceptable to break into our pupils minds."
Snape didn't respond to that as he stalked away from Harry to lean against the wall in the shadows. Harry focused his gaze on the grain of the desk in front of him, unable to look back up at his Professors. Harry tried to bring his thoughts back into focus. His head felt fuzzy.
"Potter has been using extra instructions to cheat in his Potions classes, Headmaster. The Sectumsempra curse was also in that book."
"Which book is it Severus?" McGonagall asked, curious. "Even Horace would have noticed if Potter had brought in restricted textbooks."
"A spare copy of Advanced Potion Making, heavily annotated by an ex-pupil, Minerva." Snape replied, "It would certainly explain Potter's sudden genius for the subject. He has always proved mediocre before."
Dumbledore shot Snape a look then. It didn't look like it was for insulting Harry though, more like Snape had revealed something more than he had.
"So we have the story." Dumbledore said suddenly. Harry looked back up at him, waiting for the axe to fall. "Mr. Potter, you have in your possession an old textbook with potions notes and some… interesting spells. You learned one of these spells without knowing or bothering to find out its effects. You then used that spell when you engaged Mr. Malfoy in a duel when you were out of bounds. Professor Snape arrived on the scene, used the counter curse and took Mr. Malfoy to the hospital wing. Mr. Malfoy is gravely injured and may not recover. Is there anything else you wish to say?"
Harry bit his lip, it all sounded so awful like that. Though it was pretty awful, if he was honest with himself.
"I really didn't mean to hurt him, Professor. Not that badly, I just… we started to duel. And then it was the only spell I could think of…"
"Such is the nature of dark magic, Mr. Potter." Dumbledore sighed, looking old. "I have to inform you that this kind of incident requires the expulsion of the student involved. This was not a first year squabble in the corridor and I am aware that you have had altercations with Mr. Malfoy before, at the end of last year. Additionally, on the Hogwarts Express the year before, you and your friends fought Mr Malfoy and his two companions five on three."
Harry gulped, he hadn't thought about it like that "Yes Sir," he said. That was it then, he was going to be expelled. He was going to have to leave the wizarding world, they'd snap his wand for sure. Then he'd have no protection against Voldemort or his Death Eaters…
"However," Dumbledore said, interrupting Harry's thoughts once again, "We will have to take into consideration your role in the current conflict. Leaving you defenseless in the muggle world or the magical one would be in effect a death sentence."
Harry nodded, surely they wouldn't send him away? Maybe they would let him live with Hagrid? He wasn't terrible at COMC, after all.
"Well Mr. Potter, wait outside again, please. We will call you back in when we have reached a decision."
"Yes Sir." Harry's voice cracked a little. He turned around and walked out. As the door was just about to close, Harry could hear Snape and McGonagall both begin speaking.
Harry sat down on the floor this time, next to his chair. He was more able to wrap his arms around his knees in this position and that offered him some comfort. His breathing was very shallow and fast and he forced himself to slow down, he didn't want to have a panic attack.
The door opened sometime later and McGonagall came out, looking reluctant to leave the room. "Mr. Potter?" She said, glancing about when she couldn't see him on the chair.
Harry stood up respectfully. "Yes, Professor?"
She looked surprised that he had been on the floor but recovered quickly.
"Potter, I am going to bring your school bag up. Is your potions book inside it?"
Harry knew it was and he couldn't very well ask her to bring somebody else's book, could he?
"It is in there, Professor. The bag is in my dorm room, it should be next to my bed unless Ron's borrowed it for my Charms notes."
McGonagall nodded and was gone. Harry felt worried that she wasn't in there defending him from Snape and slid back down the wall to wait some more. Hopefully they couldn't come to a decision until his head of house came back. Harry was a little relieved when the Gryffindor head came back with his bag. She looked exhausted though, and not a little angry.
"Professor is there any news on Malfoy?"
She looked a bit surprised by the question. "He is going to live Potter. He may have some scarring, but the Essence of Dittany used by Madame Pomfrey seems to have eliminated the worst of it."
Harry smiled a little in relief, he wasn't a murderer then, and if scars were their main worry, Malfoy couldn't have terrible long term problems.
"On the other hand, that ghost Myrtle has informed the entire school of what happened this afternoon." Harry's face dropped. "I was forced to put most of your housemates into detention, as well as a large portion of your club- the DA? They seemed to think that the correct response was to march on the dungeons to initiate a full-on war."
Harry groaned and hid his face in his hands. "That really isn't going to help, is it Professor?"
She grimaced and shook her head. "I did manage to stop the battle as it was leaving the entrance hall. Miss Granger informed me of their plans and I was able to divert them all into detention. Slytherin is however almost certain to win the house cup with the points as they are now."
Harry was left alone again as McGonagall rejoined the others in the office.
Great, he had been the cause of WW3 downstairs. He wondered how McGonagall had been able to find enough tasks to give that many people detention, that couldn't be easy. At least she wasn't going to do an Umbridge and set them all lines with those quills. Maybe she had given the house elves the day off. He hoped not, Harry wouldn't inflict Ron's attempts at cooking on anyone.
Eventually, finally, the door opened and he was called back in. It didn't look like much had changed in the room. Snape was still by the mantel and McGonagall still next to Dumbledore. But now Harry's bag was open on the desk. His books in one pile, his (mostly unfinished) homework and spare parchment in another and a third with all of his quills and ink and things. The little bottle of golden Felix Felicis was there too. Glittering almost audibly. The Half-Blood-Prince's textbook was there in its new cover. Dumbledore had it open on the desk in front of him, leafing through it.
"Have you used any of these other spells Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore asked without looking up from the page.
Harry thought about it, better to own up.
"Muffliato, Sir, and Levicorpus. I tried the toenail one on myself as well."
Dumbledore gave him that sharp look again. "Were you aware of the effects of any of these spells before you cast them?"
Harry shook his head.
McGonagall hissed angrily. "Have you learned nothing here, Potter? Why do you think we spend so long teaching you spells the way we do if they could be learned by reading the incantation aloud? Did you even consider the possible outcome before waving your wand around like an excited toddler?"
Harry didn't answer her, choosing to look down at his feet instead.
Dumbledore sat up suddenly. Harry turned back to him.
"I have reached a decision." He said. "Mr. Potter, I shall not be expelling you today but there will be sanctions taken against you. You will be removed from the NEWT Potions class for the rest of the year. If you wish and have the time then you may use one of the spare classrooms to practice the potions made by the others. You may study for the exam by yourself if you so wish, and sit the exam in August."
Harry nodded, that wasn't too bad. At least he wasn't going to be thrown out.
"I will be removing you from Gryffindor house." Harry's jaw dropped, "As such, you are not permitted to play for their house Quiddich team. You will not sleep in Gryffindor Tower or enter their common room and you will not earn or lose points for them."
Dumbledore paused for a second so that Harry could croak out a 'yes sir'.
"There was a battle in my Entrance Hall this afternoon, Mr. Potter. A great number of students were mildly injured and they fought in your name and in mine. With no more provocation than a duel you instigated. I am aware that you had no knowledge of this but you evidently have a following and you have not been a great example to them."
"Instead of your scheduled potions class, you will assist…" He changed his mind at the last moment, "No, you will teach the second year Defense against the Dark Arts class." If Harry looked shocked then that was nothing to Snape's expression.
"Be quiet just now, Mr. Potter. You will take his class and in return, Professor Snape will teach you Latin for an hour every evening."
Harry's mind reeled. Latin? Where on earth had that idea come from?
"Perhaps if you understood the root language of spells then you would have a better idea as to their effects."
Well that sort of made sense. Well apart from him teaching. Harry couldn't teach. Well, there was the DA but that was different, he just showed them things he thought were cool or interesting, there was probably a curriculum for second years. Granted, there hadn't seemed to be much of one when Lockhart had been teaching the subject…
"You will be allocated a room elsewhere in the castle, probably on the third floor, and you will still attend all of your other classes." Harry nodded again. "At the weekends you will be required to help supervise the first and second year study hours. You are banned from Hogsmeade and you will not attempt to leave the school without my knowledge, and definitely not without permission." Dumbledore's eyes were hard, Harry thought guiltily of the Marauders' Map in his pocket and the invisibility cloak in his trunk. Dumbledore knew about both and might confiscate them if he thought Harry wasn't behaving. "You will have the same curfew as the fourth years, unless you are held back by an official detention or have other, written permission from a senior member of staff. I will also require you to spend at least an hour in the staffroom after dinner each day, starting tomorrow, so that you may consult with the Professors on teaching methods and your students."
This was the strangest blend of giving responsibility and taking it away that Harry had ever heard. He didn't think anyone had ever had a similar role at Hogwarts. It sounded like they were essentially bumping him down to fourth year and making him a part time teacher, all in the same breath.
"I expect you to apologize to Mr. Malfoy in front of the school as soon as he is out of the Hospital Wing"
"Of course, Sir"
"Good. Lastly, you are permitted to use magic only during classes where you have permission to do so, or when you are demonstrating to your class. Except if there is an emergency of course. If you cast in the corridors or between classes then your wand will be confiscated and held by a house elf who will return it to you for the duration of required classes. We would rather not do this as it might place you in further, avoidable danger."
Harry swallowed and agreed, he couldn't find any words apart from 'yes sir', and he was saying those words a lot today.
"Then that is all. Professor McGonagall, if you could escort Mr. Potter to your office and furnish him with his new timetable and show him the curriculum for second years. Then find out if Hogwarts will provide a room and portrait guardian. Severus, if you would stay here for a moment."
McGonagall led Harry out past a visibly fuming Snape.
McGonagall allowed him to sit down in her office while she looked through her timetable lists. In order for him to be able to teach the classes Dumbledore wanted, Harry was going to have to swap from his Charms class to the Slytherin and Hufflepuff one. He looked at the sheet, he was down for six classes of teaching.
"Professor," he said plainly, "I don't know how to teach."
She smiled for the first time in what felt like hours, "Potter, you taught most of that club of yours how to cast a corporeal Patronus charm in a couple of months. I am sure you will be capable of teaching Verdimillious and Expelliarmus."
"But why does he want me to teach anyone, Professor?"
McGonagall sighed, "Potter, Professor Dumbledore does not always have the clearest of intentions. I am not sure why he wants this of you, he has never done anything similar in my tenure here. The headmaster was however very concerned with your behavior. It is dangerous both to his school and to the cause of the Order and he cares deeply for both of those." She gave Harry a Look. "It would be best for all concerned if you could try to go along with this scheme of his. There is relatively little of the year left so you will not have to teach much. Whether or not the headmaster wishes you to continue with this next year, I do not know."
She picked up a scroll of parchment from a drawer in her desk. It was magically expanded judging by the fact that the professor had to reach in up to her shoulder to pick it out.
"This is the content you will be required to cover before the summer exams. You will have to liaise with Professor Snape to find out what is left to do."
Harry unrolled the parchment, privately thinking that Snape would never 'liaise' with him on anything unless Dumbledore was in the room to stop him from being killed. The parchment was long! Harry had unraveled about 6 feet worth before he realized it was going to go on quite some way.
"Thank you Professor." He looked at her properly, Dumbledore had said he wasn't a Gryffindor anymore. At least he hadn't been put into another house but it felt like they'd taken away the only family he had. He was going to be the only pupil in the whole school who didn't have that backup. He was also fairly certain that Gryffindor wouldn't forgive him for leaving the quiddich team just before the last game of the season.
"Professor," He choked out, "I think you should make Ron quiddich captain. He's really good at chess and stuff. And he's a lot better at quiddich now he's actually got some confidence in himself. They'll do really well with him in charge and Ginny seeking."
McGonagall smiled thinly, "Mr. Potter if anyone from the quiddich team is out of detention by then, then that is exactly what I will do."
Harry was confused for a moment before he remembered the crusade the Gryffindors had led to the dungeons. He grimaced at the thought of them all working away at something. It had been a long time since McGonagall had found Harry's bag.
"Professor, I'll sit a whole day detention if it means they can play that game."
"Thank you for the offer Potter," She said. "But I am afraid you will not have enough free time for that to concern you."
Oh yeah, Harry had managed to forget about all of the extra duties Dumbledore had piled on him.
"Where am I supposed to sit at meals and things, if not with Gryffindor?"
His teacher pursed her lips. "I would assume, Mr. Potter that you would sit at one of the ends of the staff table. Perhaps junior, junior staff member would be the closest title for you. Try thinking of your duties along those lines."
That wasn't too bad, he thought. Other than everyone staring at him, but they did that anyway.
"Professor," he said hesitantly. "Do you think you could write down what Professor Dumbledore said? I don't want to do anything wrong now."
"A sensible idea at last, Mr. Potter." She took down about a foot's worth of notes in her clear hand. The emerald ink filled most of the page. That was a lot of sanctions.
McGonagall led Harry down the third floor corridor. They passed the Defense classroom and a fourth year Gryffindor girl who scowled at her head of house as the professor checked the girl was cleaning the dinosaur skeleton properly and without magic. Around a couple of corners there was a seventh year Hufflepuff who was repairing some Peeves related damage. The boy seemed fairly amicable but he had a scratch right across his left cheek. He grinned at Harry when McGonagall had started to walk away. They left him behind as they reached the last turn in the corridor. There was a portrait at the end in an otherwise blank wall.
McGonagall smiled, "Well Hogwarts has forgiven you a little, so you must be at least a little repentant. There was no portrait here earlier. I cannot guarantee the room will be much to your liking though. The castle is not happy when its inhabitants attack each other."
She looked a little upset for a minute. "Potter it was good to have you in my house, remember that you will always be a Gryffindor at heart even if this doesn't work out well."
Harry thought for a second she might be about to hug him, but then she was gone.
He looked up at the portrait, it was of a snake. How apt.
"I suppose you are going to tell me that you only speak parseltongue so I'm the only person who can get in. At least you wouldn't report me if I go out at night."
"I wouldn't count on that, old chap."
Ok, the snake had the poshest English accent Harry had heard outside of Justin Finch-Fletchley. How was that even possible, and why was it speaking English?
"I was charmed by a fellow who wasn't too good at the old hiss and spit, don't you know. He thought it might be better if I could talk to everyone. Anyhow, I am under strict instructions to keep an eye on you, my lad. I'd really rather not report you to anyone."
Harry sighed, "Do you have a password I need to get in?"
"Certainly not. That's far too mundane for my tastes. I would like you to tell me something new you have learned each time you come in. I will know if you're lying or remembering something old."
"Excellent." Harry mumbled under his breath. "It wants to educate me too. Do I need one now?"
The snake nodded his head.
"Umm… I learned I'm a complete idiot, will that do?"
"'Fraid not old chap. I need something a little more concrete than that."
Harry thought for a second, "I learned what Sectumsempra does?"
"I would wager you did." The snake said sadly. The portrait opened and Harry was able to scrabble through the narrow doorway into his new room.
If the castle actually had conjured this then it really was mad at Harry. There was a narrow, child sized bed along one wall which might be just long enough for Harry to lie down on. A small desk on the other wall which he could reach when sitting on his bed. His trunk was there as well, tucked under the bed.
There was a small bathroom which was probably only a meter across. It had a toilet and a sink and a shower all in there. It was more like a portaloo than anything else.
He lay down on his bed, watching the second Hufflepuff quiddich team at their weekly practice outside.
"I'm sorry Hogwarts." He said, feeling a little stupid but eager to get rid of the oppressive feeling of the cramped space. "I didn't want to hurt him, I'll try and make it better, even if I have to do all this stuff for Dumbledore."
There was silence as he had expected, he corrected himself anyway, "Professor Dumbledore."
The room felt a little less cramped all of a sudden. The room wasn't any larger or anything but it did feel as if the window might have suddenly grown a little.
"Thank you." Harry whispered, surprised.
It was time for dinner and Harry was incredibly nervous. He had considered just skipping it but he was hungry and didn't want to be caught out of bounds in the kitchens today. He changed into clean robes, only a little surprised to find that the lions were missing from the breast. His ties were now a purple colour as well, instead of their usual red and gold stripes.
Harry eventually left his room when he had no choice but to run or else be late for dinner. The students who had been in detention seemed to have left after they had finished their jobs. The dinosaur did look clean but the repaired closet wasn't so happy, you could still see where the seams were from where it had cracked and splintered. Harry wondered if many people had slacked off because they thought they wouldn't be checked up on. That Hufflepuff must have never had a detention with McGonagall before.
The Entrance Hall was quiet. And unnaturally clean. There was hardly any noise coming from the Great Hall, just the occasional scrape of benches and cutlery. There weren't any late comers running down the stairs for once either, Harry must be the last person to arrive.
Harry walked through the open doors, McGonagall saw him from the top table and motioned to an empty seat at the very end, next to Argus Filch.
Everyone looked incredibly subdued. Most of the sixth and seventh years were covered in cuts and bruises. Zabini at the Slytherin table had one hell of a black eye, Neville looked particularly worse for wear and several Slytherins looked like they had been victims of Ginny's Bat-Bogey hex. The Ravenclaw table smelled like lots of them had come out worse-off from a dungbomb match.
The first few years looked mostly unharmed, and more than a little confused. Harry was on the receiving end of hard glares from Professors Sprout, Snape, Flitwick and Pomfrey, along with most of the rest of the staff. Dumbledore didn't make eye contact.
Harry walked quickly up to the staff table and sat down next to Filch. Happily, the man ignored him after an initial sneer and Harry was able to start eating, but now he was here, with all of those students watching him, he wasn't able to eat much.
The Gryffindors looked confused. After a minute of searching, Harry was worried because he couldn't see Ron sitting there, McGonagall hadn't said anybody was seriously hurt. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs looked like they were split between feeling sorry for him and being mad with him. The Slytherins just looked plain angry.
When the deserts had finally vanished, Dumbledore stood up as everyone had expected him to.
"I would like everybody from the first three years to go back to your houses now, please. I am certain you will be caught up on everything by your housemates soon enough, so you need not worry about being left in the dark for long."
The youngest students filed out of the room quickly, Harry could see some of the third year Gryffindors had to be encouraged out of the hall by their prefects.
"It has been a long time," he started, his voice stern, "Since I was as disappointed in every house the way I am this evening. Hogwarts is an ancient school. We stand for tradition and intelligence. Strength and compassion. This school stands of unity to the wizarding world. Nothing, nothing I have seen today has expressed any of this."
Dumbledore stood up and walked around the other end of the staff table.
"Today," he said, "There was a fight between two of our sixth year pupils. This was serious and both of them used dangerous curses. They are both being dealt with appropriately."
Almost everyone in the hall had turned to stare at Harry, who focused resolutely on the back of Dumbledore's head, forcing himself to listen to the old man's words.
"However, while the staff were busy with this occurrence, many of you took it upon yourselves to stage a war in the middle of this castle. We are already at war!"
The headmaster didn't shout but there was a great deal of force behind his words. Pupils were starting to look ashamed. Harry spotted Hermione at the Gryffindor table with the rest of his year and she seemed to be caught between crying and extreme anger.
"You will learn something at this school. Even if you learn nothing else, we will teach you to be tolerant of every student here. Prefects, I wish to speak to you after this. You and the Head Boy and Girl are meet me in the prefect room directly after we leave this evening."
Dumbledore walked back up onto the dais to stand behind his lectern.
"There will be no more fights in the corridors, no more cruel remarks. I will not stand for bullying within or between houses. If you really cannot get on with each other, then I will happily lock you all in the great hall together for a month to sort this. Exams or no exams. Is that clear to all of you? Good! I have been headmaster of this school for over forty years, I have been a teacher here for more than sixty years and I have never been so disgusted with the behavior of my students. You will fix this attitude you all have, this prejudice between your houses. Or we will abolish the house system altogether."
There was silence in the hall. Nobody dared to move. Harry didn't dare breathe in case the man suddenly turned on him. He had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop tears forming. The power the headmaster was allowing to show was terrifying. The youngest students looked scared out of their wits.
"You may leave. Except for the prefects, everyone will return to their common room to await your head of house. I believe they have more to say to you. I do not." Dumbledore swept out past the tables in a flurry of purple robes.
The house heads took their cue and stood up to lead the remainder of their pupils away. Snape paused behind Harry's chair for a moment.
"Mr. Potter, you will come with me. It seems I shall have to catch you up on my class schedules. If you would accompany me while I speak to my house then we shall move henceforth to my office."
Harry nodded, standing up. In his mind, inviting the cause of the current conflict into the snakes den was the worst idea there was but he didn't have an excuse not to go, and besides, he didn't want to be dragged along to the prefect meeting by the irate headmaster.
So instead of running away back to his new room as he wanted, Harry followed Snape down into the dungeons. The door to the Slytherin common room opened automatically for Snape so Harry didn't get to hear what the current password was.
He forgot to look surprised about the odd entrance to the common room and he thought the professor looked suspicious of that, so he made sure look surprised at the décor of the room.
From the look of it, the first to third years had been sent ahead to their dormitories. The rest of Slytherin house, sans prefects, were standing in a large group, roughly by year. Most of them looked a little nervous, and several had bruises or scratches on their faces or arms. As a group, they looked significantly more disheveled than usual.
"What is he doing here, Professor?" Surprisingly, Millicent Bullstrode was the first to speak. She looked at Harry like he was a particularly ugly flobberworm.
"Thank you for asking Miss Bullstrode. Mr. Potter is here because I require to speak with him after I am finished here, and I am unwilling to leave him in my office to wreak havoc. I am certain the headmaster, for one, would be unimpressed if I allowed the golden boy to be hexed into compote so soon after his little speech."
There were a few nods around the room but the Slytherins were not going to relax with Harry standing awkwardly by their sofas.
"So. Would any of you mind enlightening me," Snape started with a dangerously silky voice, beginning to pace in front of the group. "With an explanation as to why, exactly, you found it necessary to engage the entire school in an uncivilized brawl?"
Silence. The seventh years looked ashamed and the sixth defiant. The other two years looked happy that the blame wasn't being aimed at them at this precise moment and kept their mouths firmly shut to keep it that way.
"Mr. Nott, your explanation, if you please." Snape came to a sudden halt in front of Theodore Nott, looking down at him. Nott glanced around him, as if he was hoping somebody else with the same name might have suddenly materialized behind him for Snape to grill instead.
"Yes sir." He swallowed, nervously. "We- the sixth years, that is- were out looking for Malfoy in our free period. Nobody had seen him for a couple of hours, you see. Then, that ghost came shooting out of her bathroom, screaming that Potter had murdered Draco. We went back to your office Sir, to try and find you but you weren't there. We got Haines to go up to the Hospital Wing for us. We were on the way back to the common room to wait for him when we were cut off by the Gryffs and everyone from Potter's club. They threw the first spells, Sir, I swear."
Nott stopped for a second to shuffle his feet guiltily. "Then it got sort of crazy. The other Slytherins heard it from the corridor and some of the younger years joined in too. I think some more Hufflepuffs came along as well then, Sir. Then Mc- Professor McGonagall turned up and screamed at everyone. She put us all into detention until just before dinner."
Snape strolled along past the lines of students, towering above everyone. "Does anybody require medical attention?" He asked.
A couple of fourth years stepped forward and Snape beckoned Zabini with his black eye out of his place as well.
"You may all leave to see Madame Pomfrey, tell her you have my permission."
They left, thankful and Snape turned on the others. "The rest of you, I want to make this very clear. You are not to get into any more fights with anyone from any other house. The headmaster is going to be very strict on this matter and we do not always come out the best in these occasions. The Depute headmistress obviously decided that you are not to blame for this afternoon's idiocy so we are far ahead in the house competition at the moment."
"Would anyone like to own up to using any illegal spells today?"
Harry looked up, wondering if anyone would actually say if they had. It didn't seem a very Slytherin thing to do. Much to his surprise, two people did step forwards.
"Granville and Kelvin. Should I be surprised? What is the damage?"
The girl, a fifth year, went first, confidently "Professor, my spell missed. I attempted a Contussious curse on a Gryffindor. I think it hit the staircase instead though, so he might have been hit by a chunk of marble."
The boy was a nervous looking fourth year. "Sir, my spell wasn't anything to do with all that, I was studying in the library then."
"What was the spell, Kelvin? I am losing patience." Snape growled.
The boy hurried to answer. "It was a Geminus charm Sir, on a knut. I wanted to see what would happen to the copies. I wouldn't have been able to spend them anywhere though Sir."
Snape frowned at them, "If you had researched a little better, Mr Kelvin, you would have found your answer that way. Or you could have simply waited and asked. I made it very clear at the start of term that none of you were to use any illegal magic this year, no matter what the circumstances. Granville and Kelvin you both have detentions tomorrow at 7 a.m. sharp. Wear old robes."
The two children grimaced and stepped back at the dismissal. When Snape said you had to dress any less than perfect at any occasion, you knew it was going to be bad. And to have detentions before breakfast was always more unpleasant.
"I take it I need not impress on you any further how important it is that you do not use these spells anymore?" The Slytherins nodded as one. "Good. The last thing tonight is to mention Mr. Potter here."
The students all looked up at that, intrigued. This was what they had really been waiting to hear.
"Mr. Potter is no longer a student of Gryffindor house- he will be spending his time more wisely than on the quiddich pitch. He will be taking two of the lower school classes for the remainder of the year and perhaps next year as well. As such, you will treat him with respect in that capacity and encourage this respect from the younger years. Potter and Malfoy are both being punished for their roles in today's fiasco, so do not worry about that. You will not attack him or allow him to be attacked by others, is that understood?"
Another chorus of agreement from the students as Harry wondered who else was supposed to be attacking him, if not Slytherins.
"Do we have to call him Professor now, Professor?" Crabbe asked from the back of the room.
"No, Mr. Crabbe. You can still call him Mr. Potter. Any other questions?"
"Professor Snape?" asked the boy who had cast the Geminus charm, "Will everything be different at school from now?"
Snape stopped pacing in front of the boy, "I hope so." He said. "It is past time for a change, don't you think?"
The fourth year looked relieved and Harry wondered what the boy had really meant by his question. What did the Slytherins want to change so badly?
"You will all write me an essay about what happened today. I want to know where you were, what you did and which spells you cast in case anybody asks me. I would then like you to write about what you could have done to prevent the escalation which occurred. I shall return in an hour or so. You have until then. I expect no less than a foot from each of you. You may work in groups as long as I have a foot for each person. Nobody will submit so much as an identical sentence or you will all be re-writing them before breakfast."
Snape and Harry left the common room with the boy feeling more confused than ever.
"Sir, was there a point to me being there that I don't get?"
"Probably," Snape replied, his usual sneer fixed back on, "I expect you'll work it out yourself at some point."
"You know Potter, I don't think I've ever heard you so contrite before. I'm quite enjoying the new you."
"Yes Sir." Harry couldn't be bothered arguing with the man. Especially not if he was going to have to work under him for the rest of the year.
Snape's office was the same as it had been for Occlumency lessons. The jar of cockroaches had been replaced on its shelf as well. They each took a seat on either side of the desk.
The Defense professor ran through what he had taught the second year students so far. Mostly this was magical creatures which meant Harry would be left to teach them the spells they needed for their practical exams. Snape had a multitude of threats to use to warn Harry about what would happen if any pupils were injured during class time and Harry swore to him that he would have them practicing on dummies before each other and that they would learn the spell counters way before they had any duels in class.
After extracting those promises, Harry was thrown out of the office and advised to write up lesson plans for the next two days. Harry blinked and wondered how the hell he was supposed to do that.
He supposed he could just do a quick run through of the creatures they were supposed to have covered so far. He hoped Snape had done a better job at teaching than Lockhart had.
As he trudged back up to the third floor and his room, Harry remembered he had homework due tomorrow for Transfiguration and Charms. He had half-done drafts but they were in Dumbledore's office along with the rest of his books. By checking his watch, Harry could tell it was past the Fourth year curfew and he didn't want to make Dumbledore even angrier with him by wandering around this late at night.
Harry decided to write out what he could remember as well as he could and hope that he could get his stuff back early in the morning. If he got his bag back at 6.30 then he might have time to do it at breakfast.
Damn, no he wouldn't. He couldn't exactly do his essays at the same table as his teachers on the morning they were due. He would have to skip breakfast then. Life was so much harder when you had to obey the rules!
Harry finally reached his portrait and the snake just stared at him for a minute.
"You know lad, I had rather thought you were going to try to be back before your curfew. I must say I am disappointed."
"You and the rest of the castle." Harry muttered, "Can I go to bed please?"
"I need your password first please." The snake said.
"Um… Snape cares if his students do something against the rules, and actually does punish them for it sometimes."
"That'll do, I suppose. Lots of students never discover that in their time at Hogwarts. Am I to take it you were talking to the Professor before you came up here?"
"I was." Harry said, "Erm, he didn't give me a note though, sorry."
"I'll have to check in with the headmaster lad. But I'll let him know who you were with. Next time ask for one. In you go."
The portrait door swung open and Harry went in and got ready for bed. It had been a long day but he couldn't stop until he'd made some headway with his homework. The heads of houses seemed to be pretty mad with him for stirring everything up and he didn't want to test even Sprout's legendary patience tomorrow. Luckily, the essays didn't need him to make any reference to the texts so he was able to write something even without his books.
Harry collapsed onto his bed and tucked his feet under his desk. This was far better than the cupboard under the stairs anyway. Here he had enough light and a desk and even a bathroom. This was luxury compared to that. In a way he loved that Hogwarts at its worst was still better than privet drive had been. When his teachers had been talking about the chances of Harry actually having a room, he had been worried that he might have to sleep in the corridor where any passing Hufflepuff and his Kneazle could attack him in his sleep.
When he had a list of everything he had to check up on before his first teaching period- fifth tomorrow with the Gryffindors and Slytherins (it looked like he might have to skip lunch too at this rate) and he had written the introduction and half of both of his essays, Harry was finally able to lie back on his bed and try to sleep.
He was glad that Malfoy was okay but he was a little nervous about apologising to the boy in front of the entire school. At least the boy probably would accept the apology if it was public like that.