The remainder of the school year flew by very quickly. Harry was still receiving meditating lessons with Professor Snape and his control was getting better and better – he wasn't even glowing anymore. Snape still refused to let Harry try wandless magic, but he had hinted that Harry would allowed to try after the summer holidays.
Harry didn't understand why everyone didn't meditate. Not only was it necessary for wandless magic, but according to one of his new books it was the foundation for Occlumency too. The problem was that, according to his book, the only way to learn Occlumency was by having someone use Legilimency on him and Harry didn't know anyone who could help him with that.
Draco was still tutoring him on etiquette, though Harry could tell that the other boy was running out of things to teach him. Cousin Narcissa had written to a few weeks after their trip to Diagon Alley, informing him that she had met with his relatives and that they had come to an agreement. Harry couldn't imagine Uncle Vernon willingly coming to an agreement with Cousin Narcissa.
He'd also received a letter from Sirius. His godfather had apologised for getting upset when Harry visited and explained to Harry that he would be in Switzerland for the next few months at the very least. He'd asked Harry if they could correspond using letters, something that Harry had happily agreed to.
He had sent Sirius a long letter telling him about himself, his meditation lessons with Snape, his tutoring lessons with Draco and about Cousin Narcissa's offer to teach him over the summer. Sirius hadn't replied for a few weeks, but eventually a letter arrived in which Sirius congratulated Harry for his good study habits. When Harry had mentioned it to Draco, his cousin had explained that Sirius probably didn't really like Lord Malfoy and Professor Snape very much. The next letter Harry sent his godfather mostly just talked about flying, Neville and his Ravenclaw friends. Sirius replied a lot quicker that time.
The exams were surprisingly easy and Harry finished them all well within the time limit. When the final exam was over Harry celebrated with his roommates by playing explosive snap in their dorm.
"What are your summer plans, Terry?" Anthony asked as Michael carefully added a card to the pile.
"Nothing much." Terry sighed. "My family only goes away every second summer and we went away last summer. I'm going to fly a lot though – we can try out of the Quidditch team next year."
Rodney grimaced. "I hate Quidditch. My sister will probably make me help her practise."
"My family's going to Venice." Anthony boasted. "We're leaving a week after school finishes, and we'll be gone for a month."
"Venice is great!" Michael grinned. "The muggle side is pretty gross, the waters all dirty and stuff, but the magical section is beautiful."
"What are you doing over the summer, Michael?" Rodney asked as they watched Anthony place a card on the pile.
Michael shrugged. "I don't know yet. We'll be going away somewhere, but my parents like to keep it a surprise until we get there."
"What about you, Harry?" Terry asked before putting a card on the pile and then jumping away as the pile exploded. "Oh bollocks."
Harry laughed at his friend's expression. "I don't know. I'll read a bit."
The other boys laughed.
"Of course you will." Anthony scoffed. "That's all you do."
Harry levelled a glare at the other boy and felt proud when the other boy flinched, obviously Draco's lessons were paying off.
"Don't be ridiculous." He snapped. "You know that's not true. Besides, I live with muggles remember. What else can I do? It's not like I can practise Quidditch."
"Sorry." Anthony mumbled.
"Thank you." Harry nodded stiffly. "We're Ravenclaws, reading is supposed to encouraged."
"Yeah, but you do read more than most." Terry pointed out with a friendly smile.
"More than most?" Michael laughed. "More than anyone I've ever known."
Harry grimaced and stood up. "I'm going for a walk."
"Come on, Harry." Terry stood up. "We're sorry. We didn't mean it was bad."
"I know." Harry tried to smile at them. "I'm just a bit uptight at the moment, I need some air."
Harry left the Ravenclaw Tower and made his way outside, into the sun.
:What's the matter?: Sarko asked from his pocket.
Harry looked round to ensure he was alone before answering. :Nothing.:
:Your voice says otherwise.: Sativa argued.
Harry walked over to a rock and sat against it before pulling the snakes out of his pocket and resting them on his lap.
Sativa hissed in pleasure. :Warmth.:
:Have you been cold?: Harry asked worriedly.
:Don't change the subject.: Sarko told him. :Why are you upset?:
:I have to go back to my relatives in two days.: Harry explained. :I don't want to.:
:Wizards are coming.: Sativa said suddenly, slithering back into Harry's pocket.
Harry watched as Sarko followed his nest mate before looking up to see Draco striding towards him. He felt sorry for the poor snakes, they saw so little sun.
"Merry meet." Draco bowed when he reached Harry before sitting down beside him.
"Merry meet." Harry nodded in greeting. "How did your last exam go?"
Draco frowned. "I couldn't remember some of the answers. What about you?"
"Alright." Harry studied his friend carefully. "Can you keep a secret?"
Draco looked offended. "Of course I can. I'm already keeping some of your secrets, remember?"
"Right." Harry smiled in apology. "Well you can't tell anyone about this, alright?"
"Fine." Draco leaned forward in obvious anticipation.
Harry focussed his thoughts on his snakes. :You can come out now, he won't hurt you.:
"You, you're," Draco stuttered in obvious shock. "You're a parselmouth?"
"Yeah." Harry grinned down at the snakes who were slithering out of his pocket. "These are Sarko and Sativa."
"How long have you had them?" Draco was staring at the snakes.
"Two months." Harry answered. "I bought them when I was in Diagon Alley with your parents."
"What did Father say?" Draco asked, his eyes still focussed on the snakes.
"He didn't know." Harry answered. "I bought them when your parents weren't looking. You can't tell them."
Draco grimaced. "Alright. Father wouldn't mind though."
"I don't want anyone to know." Harry told him.
"You told me." Draco pointed out.
"You're you." Harry said. "Besides, I wanted them to be able to enjoy the sun."
"Wait," Draco smirked. "This means you bought them around the time Weasley's stupid rat disappeared. Did they eat him?"
Harry laughed. "No, though I kind of wish they had. I can't believe he's still going on about it. He seems to be whinging about it every time I hear him talking."
"So what kind of snake are they?" Draco asked after a while.
"Atheris Hispida." Harry answered.
"Are they venomous?"
"Yeah." Harry grinned as Draco flinched back. "But they won't hurt you."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course." Harry nodded. "Snakes who bond to a parselmouth are incapable of disobeying them."
"And you told them not to hurt me?" Draco asked.
"I told them not to hurt anyone unless they were protecting themselves or me." Harry said.
"Oh." Draco stared at the snakes. "Can I touch one?"
Harry grinned. :Sarko, Draco would like to touch you. Is that alright?:
Sarko didn't reply except to slither across Harry's legs onto Draco's.
"That's Sarko." Harry explained. "He's the male."
Draco was staring at the snake on his legs with a mixture of fear and excitement. "He won't mind if I touch him?"
"No." Harry reached out and stroked the top of Sativa's head to demonstrate.
Draco reached out a hand cautiously and stiffly touched the top of Sarko's head.
Harry laughed, it was like watching the Weasley twins stroking Lee's spider at the beginning of the year.
"Hush up!" Draco frowned at him before stroking Sarko's head again. "He's so prickly. I thought snakes had smooth scales."
"I think most of them do." Harry answered. "But these guys are special."
"Cool." Draco ran a finger down Sarko's body. "Are you looking forward to the holidays?"
"No." Harry grimaced. "I wish I could just stay here."
"Yeah, I guess I would feel the same way if I had to go live with muggles."
"Come on, Draco." Harry groaned. "Don't start."
Draco frowned. "I don't know why you defend them. The muggles you live with sound horrible."
Harry sighed. "They're horrible, but that doesn't mean all muggles are. Maybe next year I'll be able to stay with Sirius."
"I can't believe he lets you call him that." Draco shook his head.
"He ordered me to." Harry said.
Draco grimaced. "At least Mother will be tutoring you this summer."
"Yeah." Harry grinned. "I have no idea how she managed to convince Uncle Vernon."
Draco snorted. "She probably just threatened to turn him into a spider or something."
Harry laughed. "I wish I could have seen his face."
"You should come stay with me for a few days." Draco said suddenly. "We can fly and stuff. I'll ask Father when I get home."
Harry grinned. "I'd love to."
The next few days were relatively uneventful. Harry read some books, spent time with his friends from Ravenclaw and Slytherin (though not at the same time). The End-of-Year Feast was amazing! There was so much food and everyone was there, well, everyone except Quirrell. Rumour had it that the Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher had died somehow – there were a lot of different theories about how.
The train ride home was nice. Harry was dreading the Dursleys, but he tried to make the most of the time he had left in the magical world. He sat with the Slytherins and played chess with Draco. He still lost every time he played, but not nearly as badly as he had at first.
The Malfoys were waiting for Draco at the platform and Harry bowed to them, his forearms bare.
"Merry meet, Lord Malfoy, Cousin Narcissa."
"Merry meet, Harry." Cousin Narcissa nodded to him. "I will see you in three days."
"Yes, ma'am." Harry bowed to them again before picking up Hedwig's cage and carefully tugging his trunk towards the muggle platform – Sarko and Sativa were in it.
The Dursleys were waiting for him, Uncle Vernon's face was red with anger and Aunt Petunia and Dudley both looked terrified.
"Come, boy." Uncle Vernon snapped at him, before striding off towards the car.
Harry followed them and carefully lifted his trunk into the boot of the car.
"Get in." Uncle Vernon snapped and Harry obeyed as quickly as possible.
The drive home took forty minutes and Harry spent the time looking out the window, trying to ignore the oppressive silence.
The minute the car was stopped in the driveway, Aunt Petunia and Dudley jumped out of the car the sped into the house, leaving Harry alone with Uncle Vernon.
"You're back." Uncle Vernon scowled.
"Yes, sir." Harry looked at his knees.
"For two bloody months!" Uncle Vernon snapped.
Harry didn't say anything.
"And that bloody cow thinks that she can come here and threaten my family!" Uncle Vernon snarled.
Harry thought he was probably thinking about Cousin Narcissa.
"Those freaks think that since we have to put up with you, they can just waltz into my house and threaten me." Uncle Vernon was shouting now. "And it's all your fault!"
Harry flinched back when he saw the hatred in Uncle Vernon's eyes.
"You will take your trunk and put it upstairs." Uncle Vernon ordered, his voice quiet again. "Then you will give me your magic stick. If I see you doing anything freaky, I will break it!"
"Yes, sir." Harry nodded quickly and pulled his wand out of his wand holster. "Here."
Uncle Vernon glared at the wand in disgust. "Leave it on the seat."
Harry nodded as he placed the wand beside him.
"Then you'll make us dinner." Uncle Vernon continued. "And tonight we'll talk about your punishment."
"Yes, sir." Harry nodded quickly and got out of the car. He lifted his trunk out of the car and carried it up to his room.
Once the door was closed behind him he unlocked his trunk and opened it. :Stay hidden.: He ordered the snakes. :They will kill you if they see you.:
:We will stay hidden, snakelet.: Sativa agreed.
:I have to go.: Harry told the snakes, before repeating it in English to Hedwig.
He shut his bedroom door behind him and started down the stairs – he hoped they would let him eat tonight. It was going to be hard to get used to missing meals again.
This is the final chapter of 'Harry Potter in the Claw of the Raven'. I hope you have enjoyed it. Thank you to all of you who have reviewed and favorited this story – it is very encouraging.
The sequel to this story, 'Harry Potter at the Knees of the Marauders', can be found on my author page. You should definitely check it out!