Author: Marianne Malfoy, aka. Ithilwen.
Feedback: Always welcome and appreciated.
Rating: PG-13, will go up in later chapters.
Warning: Will be SLASH. If you don't like it, don't read it, but please don't flame me. I have warned you and I shan't be sympathetic.
Pairings: HP/SS, HG/RW, other minor relationships mentioned in passing.
Spoilers: PP, CoS, PoA, GoF, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', 'Quidditch Through The Ages'.
Author's note: This fic is dedicated to my wonderful muse and best friend, Squigsy.
Disclaimer: All characters and concepts belong to J.K. Rowling and various publishers including, but not exclusive to, Bloomsbury Books, Warner Bros., Obscurus Books. No financial gain is being made from this story.
Move Beside Me
//I'm walking through the clouds
When you're looking at me.
I'm feeling like a child
I am shaking like a leaf
If you move beside me
And you're all that I see
But it's no good for me.
- 'No Good For Me' by The Corrs. //
"The instructions were to dice the mandrake root, Potter, not mutilate it."
Harry was jolted to his senses and realised that he had been stabbing his mandrake root viciously for ten minutes and that it was now a pulped mess. A year ago, he would have glared defiantly at Snape for humiliating him, but now he blushed and steadfastly refused to look up at the Potions teacher.
His mind had, admittedly, been elsewhere throughout the lesson, and Harry cursed himself for making such a fool of himself. He had been trying, and fully intended, to prove his intelligence to Snape this year, to prove he was no longer a silly child, but that he was mature and worthy of respect. But it seemed that whenever Snape appeared his mind went blank and he became a clumsy teenager again, unable to think up intelligent things to say, and unable to stop blushing at his own stupidity. Harry knew that this only cemented Snape's views that he was a fool, and he hated himself for being unable to prove he was worthy of anything more than contempt.
"As mandrake roots are far too valuable to waste on idiotic Seventh Years, you will add yours in its current state, Potter." Snape's voice glittered with malice as he continued, "Let us hope the results are satisfactory." The 'for your sake' was left unsaid, but Harry could feel it hanging in the air.
Harry clenched his fists under the desk and was determined he would not meet Snape's glittering black gaze, but Snape's voice was too slicing, too malicious for him to ignore. Harry knew that if he met Snape's eyes things would become a lot worse, but involuntarily, like a moth to a flame, he felt his eyes drawn upwards.
And he was caught. Trapped by those cold, black eyes, hanging breathlessly in time, wanting desperately to look away, and at the same time desperate to stay connected to the power he felt in that gaze. The butterflies in his stomach became eagles and he was flying, soaring high in the sky, among the clouds. Then Snape looked away and he fell back down to earth with a thud, where his puréed mandrake waited to be added to the cauldron.
Breathing raggedly, and feeling something in between exhilaration and mortification, Harry returned to stirring his potion, praying that no one else had noticed what just happened, and feeling stupid for thinking it because he knew nobody was paying attention to anything he did. This delusional paranoia was getting worrying.
Now that this was the seventh year and that Potions was a NEWT subject choice, the students sat alone and talking was not permitted. Harry was thinking wistfully that it'd be useful to be working with Hermione, when he heard her cough pointedly behind him.
"Add a little powdered merscale." She mouthed when he turned round.
Harry nodded his thanks and turned back to his cauldron, adding the mandrake pulp, which turned the potion a frightening green colour, then quickly added a pinch of merscale (the powdered scales of a Merperson, which could only be obtained if given willingly by the Merperson in question. Merpeople being spiteful and selfish, merscale was a relatively rare and expensive potion ingredient). This turned the correct pinkish-grey and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
Harry jumped and snapped his notebook shut hastily as Snape spoke suddenly from behind him. Snape stepped nearer to look into the cauldron and Harry tensed as he could feel the man's closeness. Unwilling to look round in case he found himself face to face with the pale skin, knife-sharp cheekbones and onyx eyes of the Potions master, Harry stayed still, tense, waiting for him to speak again. When he did, it was with a voice so soft that Harry was sure he could feel the breath on the back of his neck.
"Next time you ask Granger for help, I will be delighted to give you a detention."
Snape's voice was like a razor slicing through velvet, and as it slid through Harry's mind as shiver ran down his spine and ended somewhere between his legs. Gripping the desk slightly, Harry subconsciously held his breath. Snape seemed to linger for a moment longer than was necessary behind him, but Harry was sure it was just a figment of his own troublesome brain trying to make the situation worse. He waited until Snape finally moved away before letting out a shallow gasp. He could feel a sense of disappointment at the loss of Snape's presence, and tried to stop the trembling of his hands.
Time slipped by and Harry was unsure as to which was worse: The torture of being constantly under Snape's gaze; or the lessening of the time that he could spend in Snape's presence. He ladled the greyish-pink potion into a crystal bottle and stoppered it, then set about clearing up his bench. As he wiped down the wooden surface, a familiarly unpleasant blond-haired boy pushed past his desk, knocking Harry's books all over the floor.
"Whoops," Draco said, grinning, "Sorry, Potter."
"Go screw yourself, Malfoy." Harry muttered in retaliation, careful to keep his voice quiet so that Snape wouldn't hear. Usually he wouldn't bother, but he didn't think that another confrontation, or a detention, with Snape would do him any good at all.
Glaring after Draco, Harry knelt down to pick up his books.
Snape, now standing behind his desk, looked at the clock and noted it the end of the lesson.
"You may leave." He said. "Hand in your potions on the front desk. Homework is an essay on the effects and uses of the Inoculus draught, at least three feet of parchment, to be handed in tomorrow. I suggest you make a more convincing attempt at this essay than the last one, or I shall be forced to inform the Headmaster that you are slightly worse at Potions than the Third Years."
The class gratefully picked up their bags and shuffled out, leaving their bottles on the front bench.
Harry suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that he was now alone in the room with Snape, whose stare he could feel burning into his back. Standing up, grabbing his bag and placing his bottle on the front desk, he hurried out, flustered. His glance at Snape showed that the Potions master no longer cared whether he was there or not, and was ignoring him.
Dropping his books into his bag, Harry hurried after Hermione towards the great Hall for lunch. As he seated himself amid the friendly noise of the other Gryffindors, Harry realised that he would have to get a grip during Potions lessons. He was quite seriously worried that he might be going insane.
Severus felt in no mood to tolerate the idiotic chatter of the Great Hall and decided he would skip lunch. Leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes and was annoyed when Harry Potter appeared in his thoughts. The boy was enough of a nuisance in class, did he have to plague Severus even in his private thoughts? Turning seventeen and taking NEWTs, Severus had thought, might have uncovered the brain cells from that hormone-addled mind, but it appeared not. If anything, Potter had become clumsier, more foolish, and more persistently irritating than ever this year.
Something at the back of Severus' mind whispered that there was a reason for the boy's clumsiness and embarrassment around him, but Severus ignored it.
He had certainly noticed the way Potter always seemed tense and ill-at-ease whenever he was near, and the way the boy seemed to shake and tremble slightly if he spoke to him. Severus had tried to put this down to the success of his own biting sarcasm and the pathetic, if amusing and somewhat enjoyable, terror most students regarded him with. But he really could see no reason why a boy of seventeen, who had faced down Voldemort and won at least six times, would be scared of a teacher. Severus knew he was good, but he wasn't that good.
He had noticed Potter staring at him numerous times over the past few weeks and had always made a point of ignoring it, but today he had decided to conduct a little experiment. When he had caught the boy's gaze, he had stared back, watching with interest and Potter turned slowly redder and redder and seemed to stop breathing. Severus had eventually turned away, and was horrified to find that those emerald eyes were still on his mind an hour later. Why did the boy stare at him so reverently, with eyes so young but devoid of innocence? To call the owner of those eyes a 'boy' was inaccurate, because Potter had seen things no seventeen year-old should see, and was in no way, physically or mentally, a child any longer. Why did this… man-child… stare at him so bewitchingly?
Something on the floor caught Severus' attention and distracted him from his thoughts. One of the little fools had forgotten their book. The medium sized black, leather-bound Muggle notebook lay wedged under a desk. Unwilling to get to his feet, Severus pointed his wand lazily at the book.
"Accio notebook." He said, catching the book when it flew to his hand.
There was no name on the cover and Severus supposed that, in the interests of finding out who it belonged to, he should open it and take a look inside.
On the first page, written in slightly messy black ink, were notes on the brewing of a Linrimia potion. Severus knew the handwriting instantly as that of Harry Potter. He smirked slightly to himself; how ironic. He realised this must be the book Potter scribbled in during his lessons, and, flicking through it, he saw that it contained notes on all of the subjects Harry took. Severus smirked again as he saw that Potter's Divination notes mostly consisted of a half-hearted attempt at intelligent notes, then declined into scrawled sentences such as 'no. of times Trelawney has predicted my death: 10. No. of times have died: 0'.
Then, flicking over another page, Severus froze. It was a drawing, a very good drawing, of himself. It seemed to have been drawn in class, and showed Severus writing something, his head lowered, a lock of hair falling in front of his face. It was delicately shaded to show exactly the tones of his face and was, Severus noted uncomfortably, rather more perfectly like him than he cared to admit. Whoever had drawn it, and Severus wasn't sure whether he liked the idea of it being Potter, had studied Severus' face and manner and had obviously spent a long time doing so, capturing the exact essence of what Severus could only describe as himself.
Who had drawn it? Surely not Potter. But, yes, the bottom of the page was neatly dated in Potter's handwriting as being drawn two months ago on 7th September. Flicking through the book, Severus saw that there were in all about twenty drawings and sketches of himself, all perfect, and all neatly dated from 7th September to yesterday, 8th November. Then, on the next page, was a half-finished drawing that must have been done that day, in the lesson that had just gone by. There was, however, something different about this drawing that made it stand out form the others. Flicking back, Severus saw that this was the only drawing in which he, the subject, was looking directly at the artist, his dark eyes glaring intensely out of the page. Only the face of the drawing was finished, the rest of it mere suggestions of pencil lines, but in the expression Severus could see exactly what he tried to put into his eyes when he glared at Potter; coldness, scorn, contempt. Seeing it drawn by Potter's own hand made Severus realise what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of one of those looks.
Why had Potter drawn these pictures? Why of him? Severus got the uncomfortable feeling that Potter, after all the observation, knew exactly how he moved, exactly how he executed his movements. He had never felt understood, and he wasn't sure he liked it. No one ever cared about him enough to try and understand. Why Potter?
That evening, Harry sat down to do his homework, and took his books, quill and ink out of his bag. Deciding that he would use this essay to show Snape that he was good at Potions when he put his mind to it, Harry looked for his notes on the Inoculus potion that he had written today in his notebook. The notebook wasn't in his bag. Then where was it?
Where had he had it last? Not in Care of Magical Creatures or Herbology. Which meant he'd left it in Potions. Fuck.
Panicking slightly, Harry ran through his options. He couldn't do his homework without his notes so he had to get the book back. Two things could have happened: Either it was still in the dungeons, or Snape had found it. Not particularly wanting to consider the latter, Harry chose to hope that it would be where he must have left it. There was only one thing to do. Telling Hermione he would be back in a while, he ran to his room, grabbed the invisibility cloak, and left the Common Room.
Hidden under the cloak, and watching out for Filch or Mrs Norris, Harry reached the Potions classroom and cautiously pushed open the door. He walked in quickly and shut the door softly behind him before bringing out his wand.
"Lumos." He murmured, and a beam of light fell from the tip of his wand. Directing the beam about the room, Harry looked round for the missing notebook. The beam fell across the front desk and Harry spotted, to his relief, the black bound book lying there.
Suddenly there was a slight noise as something knocked a vial off the desks in the room adjoining this classroom. Harry froze, still under the cloak, and waited, in a typically Gryffindor fashion, to see what was there, remembering at the last minute to mutter "Nox" to cut out the light shining from his wand. Slowly, a shadow which preceded the thing that was approaching flickered into the room, and Harry saw, to his horror that it appeared to be a large cat-like animal. He stood absolutely still and watched, trembling slightly, as a large black cat, not unlike a panther, appeared in the doorway. Its dark-eyed gaze scanned the room then came to rest on Harry, even though he was covered by the invisibility cloak. For a few tense moments in which Harry was sure the panther could see him and that it was about to pounce, neither he nor the big cat moved. Then, suddenly, it turned away from him and padded silently back into the room from whence it came.
When Harry was sure it had gone, he grabbed the notebook and left, not caring if anyone could see him as he ran down the corridor back to the Gryffindor Tower.
He muttered the password, ('Lederhosen', for reasons known only to the Fat Lady herself), and ducked through the hole into the warmth of the Common Room, shrugging off the cloak.
He was immediately pounced one by Hermione and Ron.
"Where have you been?" Hermione demanded, "It's NEWTs this year, Harry, you can't afford to go gallivanting round school and not doing homework."
"Oh, shut up, 'Mione." Ron said fondly. "But, yeah, where have you been? You look like you've walked through the Bloody Baron. And you missed a brilliant game of chess."
"Brilliant?" called Seamus, "Only cos you won!"
Ron grinned, "Well, yeah…"
Harry tried to grin and failed miserably, feeling shaken from his encounter with a large, probably dangerous cat in the Potions classroom, "I had to go and get my notebook, I left it in the dungeons after Potions."
Hermione looked concernedly at him, "What happened? Did Professor Snape catch you? Ron's right, you do look terribly pale."
Harry was about to tell them about the panther, but then a little voice in his head said "Nothing, Peeves just made me jump. Gave me a bit of a shock," And Harry found that he'd actually said it as well. Why hadn't he just told them the truth?
Hermione looked seriously at the notebook clutched in his hands, "What do you write in there, Harry? You sit scribbling in it all the way through Potions. It's not a magical writing diary, is it? You know how dangerous they can be…"
"No," Harry assured her, "It's not a diary that writes back. It's just… it's where I write my notes. I've got to have something to learn from for the NEWTs, haven't I?"
This answer seemed to satisfy Hermione, and Harry was shocked to realise he'd lied to his best friends again. What was wrong with him?
Hermione turned to Ron, "See, Ron. At least someone's taking the exams seriously."
Harry nodded, seeing his chance to escape. "In fact, I think I'll go and start studying now." He needed time to think alone.
"But it's only November!" Ron howled, "You've both gone insane!"
Harry turned to walk up to his room as Hermione berated Ron on not putting enough effort into his schoolwork.
Being a prefect, he had his own room and the top of the Tower and as he walked in he was met by the smell of the flowers Winky and Dobby insisted on leaving on the windowsill every morning. Sitting down on his bed, he flicked through his notebook, making sure none of the pages were missing or had been damaged.
He saw that all of the pages seemed to be there and that none of his drawings seemed to have been disturbed. Relieved, he flicked to the final drawing, the one he hadn't had time to finish in class. He flipped the page over and saw that Snape was still glaring at him from the page, as he had been before.
Then, he noticed, someone had written something at the bottom of the page.
The thoughts 'How dare they?' and 'Oh shit' ran through Harry's mind as he looked closer at the neat copperplate handwriting. In green ink, a single line had been written. A thrill ran through Harry as he read the words.
It seems I have underestimated your attention to detail. Intriguing work.