Chapter Nine

Forced Help

"Hey professor McGonagall!" Harry exclaimed as he ran into the Burrow with a wide grin on his face. Ron ran right in behind him, panting heavily and a glare on his face. "What are you doing here?"

Minerva smiled at the little boy, nostalgia clouding her mind as she remembered not only Harry's antics but his father's antics at Hogwarts as well. "I came to speak with Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger. I have received their notices of their attendance to Hogwarts this year. Since they are of age, I am considering allowing the older students more lenience's while attending this year." She explained calmly.

"That's cool." Harry said with a nod of his head. "Hopefully that'll help with a lot of the restlessness that I'm sure that'll occur." He replied, looking at the still panting Ron. "Well, here's Ron for ya. I think Hermione went out with Mrs. Weasley, but they're supposed to be back sometime soon." He offered next.

The headmistress nodded her head in understanding before patting the spot on the couch next to her. "Come sit Mr. Potter…Harry. I wish to know how you are doing. I haven't seen you in a while." She pinched a cheek as soon as Harry had sat. "I see you have become even more adorable in the time you first shrunk."

Harry scowled as he rubbed at his reddened cheek. "Yeah, he came barreling through the Floo looking like this." Ron spoke up, smirking at Harry. "All tiny and cute and adorable." He explained easily.

"Shut up Ron, or I won't allow you to take the map with you." Harry stated with a glare, instantly shutting up the red head from any more annoying comments.

McGonagall chuckled at the two before patting Harry on the head and then running her hands through his hair. "Tell me how you're doing Harry, I wish to know if there's anything I can do to help."

Harry blushed at the familiar caress before speaking. "Ah, well, I had a run in with Snape." He spat the name angrily. "That kinda sent me further back for some reason, but other than that, I've been fine." He spoke as he sent a small smile to his old professor.

"You saw Severus?" McGonagall questioned as she stopped the petting. "Well, I can certainly understand how you reverted back further then. That man…" She huffed before shaking her own head. "He will be teaching Defense again at Hogwarts."

"I'm not going back to school!" The two boys declared at once, glaring at one part of the room.

The headmistress blinked at the reaction before sighing tiredly. "I know that you have never been on good terms with Severus…"

"I've never been on terms with him." Harry interrupted grumpily. "He's never allowed me to be on any level of terms with him because I'm not worth the time or effort."
McGonagall sighed again before she pulled the child onto her lap, ignoring the indignant squawk that he wasn't actually eleven. "I know, but you must understand that he was under a great deal of pressure. Between Albus and Voldemort, I'm surprised he didn't crack entirely and go insane."

"I'm pretty sure he did a little bit." Ron stated as he stretched out in the armchair that normally his father sat in. "But what would we know after all, he's a spy and capable of hiding anything and everything form everyone."

"Precisely Mr. Weasley. He was a spy and needed to act a certain way to fool his masters." McGonagall said evenly. "He had to do things to stay on the fence, to be able to fool anyone and everyone into thinking he was a Death Eater to the core."

"Yeah, well, did an exceptional job. Exceeds expectations." Harry grumbled out.

McGonagall frowned and swatted the boy over the head and ignored the squawk that came from the little boy and the snigger from the red head. "He did what he had to do Harry, I know it's hard to understand, especially with the way he treated you."

Harry growled as he crossed his arms over his chest, pouting as he tried to glare at the floor. "Yeah, that doesn't excuse the way he treats me now though! I've never really done anything to him that he didn't deserve with the way he treated me and now he just seems to hate me even more!"

Ron nodded in agreement when McGonagall glanced at him. "It's true, he came here unannounced and demanded that Harry allow him to help, as if Harry was still a student. It's like Harry didn't see him die or that he just came back from the dead, like he expected nothing to have changed." He explained with his own scowl. "Git doesn't realized the damage he caused by just coming back with no warning."

McGonagall scowled as well before sighing and shaking her head. Her arms wrapped around Harry's waist as the child tried to slip off of her lap and kept him firmly on her lap. "I see. Well, there's no really changing that man." She smiled as she remembered her years of dealing with a teenager and then grown up Snape. "He hasn't really changed over the years."

"So he was as much of a git as my dad was as a kid?" Harry questioned with a raised brow, trying and failing to loosen the hold the older woman had on him and scowling when she wasn't relenting. "Could you release me?"

The headmistress sputtered and choked back a laugh as she couldn't help but agree with the description of the deceased Potter. "Yes, I suppose you could say that and no, you're staying right here." She agreed and disagreed once she could breathe again. "Both boys held a hate for each other- I'm still not quite sure I understand fully- that made them into giant gits." She chuckled as that got a startled laugh out of both boys.

A crack startled all three and wands were out and pointing at the door in an instant. "Oh, professor." Hermione said happily as she walked through the door to see her boys and headmistress sitting in the living room. She grinned as all three put their wands away and shifted the bags in her arms. "It's good to see you professor, let me go and put these away and I'll be right back. Molly, I'll help put these away." Hermione said to the short red headed woman behind her.

"That's much appreciated dear." Molly said happily as she and Hermione walked into the kitchen.

Harry and Ron continued to speak with McGonagall about anything and everything, avoiding the subject of returning to school until Hermione joined them a while later. Hermione sat in the spot Harry had occupied and smiled at the boy and headmistress. "So, what can we help you with today Headmistress?" She questioned.

"Ah well, not so much what you can do for me but what I can do for you when you return to Hogwarts." McGonagall returned as she finally released the man in a boy's body. "I've been going around and speaking to all the seventh and soon to be eighth years of Hogwarts, explaining some new rules that'll allow some freedom to you older students." She started.

"That sounds rather nice." Hermione said as she glanced at Ron before looking back at the headmistress. "What sort of new rules will you be instating and how will they affect us exactly?"

McGonagall smiled as she looked at the young woman in front of her, remembering the exuberant and eager to please child she had once been, but she could now see the strong and confident woman she had grown into during the war. "Yes, well we have decided that the students returning for their eighth year will be allowed to leave school grounds after classes are done for the day, and as long as they return for classes this privilege will continue on. Seventh years will be allowed to go to Hogsmeade every weekend and it is a privilege as well and can be revoked."

"So we don't have to sleep at the school then?" Ron questioned, excited about this bit of information since the three of them had been on the run for a long time, none of them looked forward to being cooped up in one place.

"That is correct. But only you eighth years will be able to do this. The rest of the student body will be made to stay at the school and on school grounds. We will have to abandon some old traditions and start some new ones. I'll be asking for yours and the other eighth and seventh years help with that." She explained.

"That sounds wonderful Professor. Oh I can't wait! We'll have to see about introducing some of the muggle traditions that'll coincide with the wizarding traditions. Maybe we can ask some of the purebloods about those and see which ones better work with the muggle ones! Oh, we could even introduce costumes on Halloween and see if there's any All Hallows Eve rituals and traditions that people can participate in!" Hermione babbled as she thought about all the things that could help muggleborns and purebloods get better along and understand each other better.

Harry giggled as he watched Hermione get all up in her brainstorming, wondering if she realized how much her hair seemed to frizz as she came up with more and more ideas to better Hogwarts and the wizarding world in general. Ron was just watching his girlfriend with adoring eyes as she continued on.

McGonagall laughed before she waved for the girl's attention, bringing it back onto herself. "Those are all wonderful ideas, all of which we'll discuss with the other eighth years after the opening feast. From there we can make plans for the rest of the year and see what'll work best."

"Do you think the purebloods will cooperate with us though?" Harry asked. "I mean we'll be obviously introducing some muggle stuff they might not light or even want to know about. Will they want to share their own traditions with the muggleborns?"

"That's a good question but I'm unable to answer it at this time." She replied before standing up. "With that all explained, I must be on my way to speak with the next eighth year attending Hogwarts. They will need to have this all explained to them as well."

"It was great seeing you again Professor!" Hermione exclaimed happily as she stood up and shook the older woman's hand.

"Oh none of that!" McGonagall stated as she pulled the other woman into a brief hug. "You have done much for me and the wizarding world Ms. Granger, Hermione, and you deserve to be treated like an adult." She explained as she held onto the other's shoulders. You've had the intelligence and the common sense to lead these to imbeciles on the correct path and keep them from falling over their own noses." She smiled at them before a softer smile took over. "And luckily I've gotten the great chance to watch you grow and become adults. I see the three of you as my own in a way after all of this horror. Despite all of the trouble you caused me while in school." She stated with a wry grin.

All three Gryffindors smiled at the old woman and she had to blink away tears, staring at the tree bravest kids she had ever known. "You've always been that mother away from my own mum, just as scary too." Ron stated with a grin as he accepted a hug from the woman easily. "Don't tell my mum I said that, she'll be upset to not be the only scary woman in my life anymore."

McGonagall chuckled as she laid a hand on the red head's cheek as the other rested on his shoulder. "I'll never tell, especially on such a fine strategist that could make any move work for him. The only one who has ever beaten my chess charm has led his friends through a trying time. I expect much from you Mr. Weasley, Ron, so work hard this term to prove I'm right."

Harry smiled at both of his misty eyed friends before he jumped forward. "Thanks Professor! You mean a lot to us as well!" Harry exclaimed as he hugged the older woman. He blushed heavily as he realized what he'd done and tried to pull away quickly but was stopped as McGonagall wrapped her own arms around him as well.

"You have always been a brave child Mr. Potter." She whispered to him as she nuzzled his fluffy wild black hair. "You've done so much for us all and even died for us. Thank you dear child and know that you can always come to me when you are need of help." She laid a kiss on top of his head. With that she stood up fully and nodded at them all primly. "I'll be seeing you two when school starts and Mr. Potter, I'm of the understanding that you have acquainted yourself with the Malfoys?"

Harry wiped at his eyes before looking up with red rimmed eyes and cherry colored cheeks. "Yep. Lucius has been helping me." He paused as he gave a sheepish smile. "Though it's been a couple of weeks since I've last seen them." He admitted.

McGonagall nodded in understanding. "Well, I'll be heading over there next, would you like to accompany me to the Malfoy residence?" She questioned and held her hand out towards the little boy that was actually a man.

Harry blinked before looking at Hermione and Ron, wondering if the two would be okay with this since they had argued about it earlier. Both looked at each other before turning to their de-aged friend and nodded with smiles. "Go ahead Harry. Lucius needs to help you regain your age. We'll stay here and work on ourselves." Hermione stated with a sad smile. "After all, we need to worry about ourselves just as much as we worry about you."

Harry chuckled and nodded his head before looking at the headmistress. "I'll go with you. I need to get better after all." He turned back to his friends again and even ran up to Hermione, wrapping his arms around her waist while she wrapped her own arms around him. "I'll owl you as often as I can."

"You better mate." Ron said as he clapped a hand onto the boy's shoulder. "Or we'll have to come storming into the snake's den to save you." He grinned roguishly.

Harry could only laugh as he looked at his friends…his family for so long.

GUR2

"Welcome back Mr. Potter." Narcissa said as she wrapped the child into a hug before removing his bag. "Nobby, please take this to Mr. Potter's room." She ordered the awaiting house elf. Once the elf had done so, the Matriarch of the Malfoy family looked at the straight back Gryffindor. "What can I help you with today Headmistress? I highly doubt delivering Mr. Potter back here was your only objective."

"Your right Mrs. Malfoy. I'm here to speak with Draco Malfoy as his name was on the list with the returning eighth years. I have some new rules and questions that I'd like to present him with." McGonagall explained as she ran a hair through Harry's hair with a smile. "I also wanted to return Mr. Potter so he could continue his treatments with Mr. Malfoy."

"Yep, I've had my break and I'm ready to start again." Harry chimed in as he looked up at the two women. "I don't particularly like being an eleven year old again." He pouted at the end and crossed his arms over his chest.

Narcissa smiled at that as she waved a hand at the stairs. "Yes well, I highly doubt any of us would enjoy that unhappy occurrence either. Lucius is upstairs in his study reading, but I'm sure he'll absolutely love to see you again." She stated.

Harry nodded his head in understanding before turning back towards McGonagall. "Thanks for the lift professor, I was good seeing you again!" He exclaimed as he hugged her and then took up the stairs, trying to ignore the blush on his face.

The two women watched the boy take off with smiles on their faces before turning towards each other and turning serious once more. "Now, I believe you wanted to speak with Draco? He should be in the library." She explained as she turned and began to walk away, the headmistress following right behind her.

GUR2

"Come in." Lucius said as he looked up from his book, wondering who could possibly be knocking on his door. Narcissa was in the tea room enjoying afternoon tea while Draco was in the library going over old school material. Severus had left several hours ago after a long discussion over the method he had been using to treat Harry.

There shouldn't have been anyone interested in speaking with Lucius at the moment as he hadn't gone to the ministry to try and reinstate him into the system and he hadn't spoken to anyone outside of his family and Severus.

"Hey Mr. Malfoy!" Harry chirped as he walked into the room, having to push heavily against the door so that he could get in in the first place. "I've returned to continue our sessions." Harry explained to the stunned blonde.

"I see." Lucius replied as his face went back to being stoic and taking in the shrunk eighteen year old. "We'll have to start from the very beginning again from the looks of it. So you'll have to bring up the memories that has affected you from when you were a child." He explained as he stood up from his seat and walked to stand in front of his desk.

"Yep, I think I know where it started too." Harry admitted as he scrunched up his nose in distaste. "Not that it's a super bad memory but…" He trailed off, trying to think of a way to explain what was wrong with the memory and why it affected him so much. In the end he shrugged his shoulders in irritation. "You'll see what's wrong with it in a moment." He stated instead.

Lucius nodded his head and raised his wand. "Are you ready then?" He questioned but then paused at the blank look on the boy's face. "Harry?" He questioned before he began to feel a stirring of panic in his gut when he wasn't answered and the blank look stayed on his face. "What in the world?" He muttered out loud as he looked around the room, freezing as he noticed a figure off to the side of the room that was blending into the background but was shimmering at the same time.

There was only one person that Lucius knew of that would sneak into his office and perform a spell on the boy-who-lived without any warning of any sorts. "Damn it Severus." Lucius growled as he looked back and forth between the two frozen figures, reluctant to disrupt the process as he was unsure how it would affect them. "You might have just ruined everything."

GUR2

Harry blinked as he appeared in a familiar dungeon full of first year students chattering away, unaware of what was going to happen only moments away. "This is first year Potions class." Harry said as he looked at all of his young and alive classmates, smiling at Lavender Brown's squeal of disgust as Seamus Finnegan threw frog guts at her. He'd forgotten how squeamish she was during potions. "The very first Potions class I ever had with Snape. I was so excited for it too. I'd thought it'd be like cooking and I was rather good at cooking too. It was ruined as soon as that greasy bat took roll though."

"I wouldn't say it was lost that late into the class Potter."

Harry whirled around in horror and stared at said Potions Professor. "Snape! What in the bloody blazes are you doing here!?" Harry growled out as he curled his shoulders inward protectively and his eyes glared heavily. "Mr. Malfoy should be here, not you!"

"Yes well," Snape smirked as he looked at the little boy in front of him, feeling powerful at having his hated enemy's spawn at his mercy. "I decided that Lucius was simply too nice and too weak of a Legilimens to help you effectively. I've decided that I'll be the one helping you regain your age. No matter how ungrateful you may be about it." He explained as he turned towards the classroom just in time to see himself slam the door open and closed, quieting the class entirely.

"I want you out of my head now!" Harry shouted as he pushed as hard as he could, gathering up all the knowledge that he had on Occlumency and pushing it all at the bat.

Snape grunted in surprise as the force of the attack hit him, but then he smirked as he pushed back and surrounded Potter with all of his strength, holding him still and facing him towards the scene in front of them. "Still as weak in Occlumency as ever Potter. Now watch and we shall see why you are so hurt by this memory. I found it all rather amusing after all." He quipped as he too turned back just as the Memory Snape got to Potter's name in the roll.

"Ah, yes," Snape said as he looked at the scrawny black haired child, eyes narrowed in hate and mirth, "Harry Potter. Our new – celebrity."

Harry burned in embarrassment as much as his memory self as the Potions Professor said that. He hated his status in the wizarding world, even then when he had known very little about it. "Stop it! Get out of my head!" Harry shouted as he fought against the binds holding him in place.

Snape scowled at the real child before looking back at the memory. "No, we shall watch this play out Potter. Now hold still and watch." He commanded as he put more force on the boy to force him to stand still. Harry growled in his throat in irritation.

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making," Memory Snape started as he began to pace back and forth in front of the class, hands clasped behind his back and eyes looking over the class sharply, "As there is little polish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the sense…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

"And there you are not paying attention to a word I was saying." Snape snark as he glared at the writing boy at his desk, cauldron in front of him, with a quill scribbling away. "Arrogant in thinking you don't need to pay attention to a word a teacher said, thinking you knew it all, just like your father."

"Did you even ever check to see what I was writing down?" Harry bit out as he struggled against his bonds again.

"Why bother, probably just babble about how courageous and wonderful you are." Snape drawled out as he watched himself walk over to the little boy and spin a chair around so that he could sit in it and lean on the back of the chair.

"It was notes on what you were saying." Harry got out as he glared at the memory.

Snape paused at that admission and walked over to where the two memories were staring each other down.

"Tell me Potter, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" the little boy looked confused at the man and unsure of what he wanted. It was obvious he didn't know the answer.

"I don't know sir."

"Tut, tut – fame clearly isn't everything." The Memory Snape ignored the hopping around Hermione and kept his eyes trained on a now slouching Potter who had his shoulders curled in on himself, trying to protect himself from the verbal attack. "Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a Bezoar?"

"I don't know sir."

Snape grinned wickedly at that before returning to a mocking expression, something only the young Harry had seen at the time. "Thought you wouldn't open a book before coming, eh, Potter? What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

Harry glared at the Potions professor now as his shoulders went back and his chin raised up, fire lighting up the emerald eyes that Snape hated so much. "I don't know sir." He replied as he continued to glare at the teacher defiantly. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try her?"

The scowl on Snape's face could have frightened Voldemort with the venomous hate behind it but the little boy didn't move an inch. "Sit down." He snapped at Hermione. "For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the draught of living death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite. Well? Why aren't you all copying this down?"

Snape listened to the interaction between himself and the boy Potter as he got close and looked down at the bit of parchment that held notes on his speech on it. It was a childish chicken scratch writing and sat in front of a fuming and irritated boy Potter. "It seems you were telling the truth." Snape said as the memory faded away.

"Of course I was, but did you ever realize that I was when I spoke with you. That I was always trying to ignore my fame and how I hated it. No you didn't." Harry spat out as the barrier holding him in place faded. "That's not even the worse part of this memory though." Harry admitted as his scowl turned into a frown.

"Oh, what could possibly be the worst thing about this memory to you then Potter? The fact that I was just mean to you for no reason? Or is it because I was just the ugly greasy bat of the dungeon that decided that it made your life a complete horror during your school years?" Snape questioned angrily as he stalked over to the boy he had grievously misjudged in that first class. Though he felt that his judgement of the rest of the boy was true. He was arrogant and refused to listen to anyone who he thought was wrong. Nothing more and nothing less than that.

"That first question you asked me." Harry said as he looked at the professor again, eyes focusing on him intently. "I didn't think about it until you had returned and I had to go over everything, about why I had reverted even further back." He explained as he curled into himself, eyes still on the older man. "Tell me Potter, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" Harry repeated to the man.

Snape felt a cold chill run down his spine at the tone that the boy used. A mix between disgust and sorrow and something else, something he couldn't identify for once. "What about it Potter?" He snapped angrily.

"Asphodel is a type of lily." Harry started as his eyes continued to bore into Snape. "It has a meaning of 'My regrets follow you to the grave', while wormwood means 'Absence'." Harry watched for any sign of recognition or realization from the professor. It was like the other was nothing but a blank doll, unable to express any emotion or thought out loud. 'No, it's his Occlumency skills.' Harry thought as he tilted his head. "It made even more sense since I know you were good friends with my mother and you still loved her…love her." He corrected a moment later.

Silence reigned between the two for what seemed like ever before Snape spoke. "Seems you aren't as idiotic as I thought. Then again, you were able to take down the Dark Lord with only snippets of information left for you to find."

Harry scowled at that as another memory appeared in front of them. The screaming of the crowds and the horror of fear as a young first year struggled to hold onto his broom.

GUR2

It was quiet while Lucius waited for the two to return from the mindscape, angry with himself and Severus. He hadn't thought about telling Snape the process he had been using to help Harry, but now he realized that he shouldn't have, not with the way he had been so interested in it.

Then there was the fact the bastard hadn't actually left his office at all that day or how he had known that Potter would return at this time. He didn't understand how or why or even if Snape really cared about the Potter boy in the first place.

Lily Potter could be playing a part in all of this, in part of everything that Snape had ever done since he had joined the Dark Lord's side. He was her son after all and Lucius knew that the man had always been hot for the muggleborn but when he had yelled at her in his fifth year, well, he had thought that had ended it for him. Apparently not.

Lucius grunted as he ran a hand over his face in frustration, trying to figure out if anything else could be done to help the boy and man, he gave up and instead grabbed his glass of fire whiskey.

That's the same time that his wards went off and all of his proximity wards and alarms blared at the same time.

Including the ones meant to indicate when the wards were falling.

GUR2

A.N. Holy shit, it's been a long time since I last posted a chapter. I'm so sorry it took so long for me to get here. I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter as it took forever to write for other reasons besides school and work weighing me down. Hehe, well I've got this written out now so I hope you guys review and tell me what you thought about it.

Know as well that it'll be a while before I can update again too because of the other stories I'm working on and all the homework and actual work I'll have to do as well. So sorry if I don't update quickly enough for some of you but I hope others will keep up with this story and the others even though it takes me some time to write them out. Until next time lovelies!