I'm sorry for the delay. To those reviews I couldn't PM, thank you for your encouragement! Here is the next chapter! Enjoy!
"Dad!" Harry called as he ran excitedly into his father's quarters. "Look what Professor McGonagall got me!"
Harry ran to his father's study and stopped by the desk where Severus sat working on papers that were surprisingly not homework essays. He handed over the long, thin parcel to Severus with giddy. Severus accepted the parcel and read the letter Harry also handed to him.
"It's a Nimbus Two Thousand!" Harry exclaimed.
"Yes," Severus said, opening the package and studying the broom model. "Professor McGonagall informed me of her little gift for her new seeker. With my approval, of course."
"Isn't it amazing!?" Harry jumped at his father's side, gripping the arm of the desk chair.
"It is a very special privilege," Severus gave his son a critical look. "It took a lot of convincing on Minerva's part to get me to allow her to give it to you. I trust you will not abuse this privilege and sneak out to ride your broom at undesirable times."
"Yes, Dad," Harry smiled. He was too happy to be concerned with his father's warning. "I have Quidditch practice tonight. I get to try it out. I'm so excited!"
"I'm sure you are," Severus smiled, placing the broom back in the package and handing it back to Harry. "I will warn you again to not show off with the broom. I don't want a repeat of the last time you decided to dive at the wall."
"Yes, Dad. And thank you for letting Professor McGonagall get me the broom."
"Your welcome. Now go put that in your dorm. You still have my class to attend before your practice tonight."
Harry smiled and took off with the broom. He met Ron back in his dorm and they admired the broom for several more moments before leaving for their potions class. As they arrived just outside the classroom door, they ran right into Draco and his two goons.
"I hear you got a new broomstick, Harry," Draco glared at him.
Oh, no, Harry couldn't help but think. Just one more thing for Draco to fret about.
"Yeah, and?" Harry asked, glaring right back.
"First years aren't allowed to have broomsticks."
"Well, tell that to my Head of House."
"It's not just any old broomstick," Ron couldn't resist saying. "It's a Nimbus Two Thousand. What did you say you had at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty? Those aren't in the same league as the Nimbus."
"What would you know about it, Weasley, you couldn't afford half the handle," Draco snapped back. "I suppose your brothers have to save up twig by twig."
Before Ron could retort, Severus appeared in the doorway of the classroom.
"In order to be considered on time, you actually have to enter the classroom, not just appear at the door. Inside, all of you."
Harry and Ron rushed in, along with Draco's two friends. Harry looked back to see that Severus had a hand on Draco's shoulder, stopping him from entering the classroom, and he was whispering in the blonde's ear. Draco's face was flaming red. As Harry took a seat in between Ron and Hermione, Draco stormed into the classroom and refused to look at Harry for the rest of the class.
Harry wasn't very focused in his father's class. His mind kept wondering to his new Nimbus and how amazing it would feel in the air. He had a wonderful broom at home that flew well, but this model was by far the latest and best out there. He was so excited for practice that night. Harry found himself forgetting to write notes on whatever the lesson was that day.
"Harry!" Hermione harshly whispered to him. She elbowed him in the side.
Harry jolted and looked over at her, whispering back "what?"
"Your ink," Hermione motioned with her head to the parchment in front of him.
Harry looked down and saw that he had rested his quill on the parchment while he daydreamed. There was a large pool of ink now and he picked up his hand to avoid getting ink on him. Not knowing any spells to clean it, Harry blew on it to dry it. Ron looked over at him and smirked at his dilemma. Harry shouldered him playfully.
After the ink had mostly dried, Harry tried to focus on what Severus was saying rather than daydreaming. He found it hard to do, though, and his mind was once again wondering to quidditch. He saw himself flying on his new broomstick, high in the sky with the wind blowing through his air. It felt so wonderful to be free and . . .
Harry jumped at the sound of his father's voice snapping at him. He looked at Severus to see the man crossing his arms and glaring at him from where he stood in the front of the classroom.
"Enlighten the rest of us as to what is more important on your mind that you must daydream about instead of paying attention?" Severus asked.
"Nothing, sir," Harry shook his head. "I've been listening."
"Is that so? Then perhaps you can recite what I've told you are the two main ingredients in a Wiggenweld Potion?"
Harry opened his mouth but nothing came out as he tried to think up an answer. It wasn't a potion his father brewed often so he didn't have much experience with it before Hogwarts. Now he had practically missed an entire lesson on the potion. He looked down at his notes, but his parchment was practically bare, with a few notes at the top and a large ink splot in the middle. His notes were useless.
He saw Hermione in the corner of his eye mouthing something and he looked over at her. She mouthed the words again, but Harry was no expert at reading lips. Hermione mouthed it again more slowly and deliberately.
"What?" Harry mouthed back to her.
"Mr. Snape!" Severus snapped again. Harry looked back up at him. Severus's glare had deepened. "No answer? Well, surely if you had been listening then you should be able to tell me what a Wiggenweld Potion does?"
Hermione raised her hand in hopes to answer in place of Harry, waving it around a bit.
Harry looked down at his desk, feeling his cheeks burn. Served him right for daydreaming in class. And to think he was the Potions Master's son. He could see looks of sympathy from his fellow Gryffindors, but Draco and other Slytherins were smirking in his direction. Harry looked up at Severus and shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know, sir."
"Pity. I'd hate to hear your definition of 'listening,'" Severus said. Harry could see the disappointment in his father's eyes and he looked down. "For your information, Mr. Snape, the main two ingredients are Wiggentree bark and salamander blood. The potion awakens a person from a magically-induced sleep. Furthermore, none of you will be brewing this potion until your later years as it is a very difficult potion to master. I expect that learning the process and ingredients now will help prepare you for the actual process later in your schooling."
Harry had hoped his father had decided to just continue with the lesson and forget about him but it was not to be so.
"Mr. Snape," Severus said, glaring at him once more. "See me after class."
The rest of the class droned on and Harry found himself still unable to focus. He was now concerned about the talk he was going to have with his father. He had allowed his excitement to get too far ahead of him and it cost him a valuable lesson in class. Hopefully Hermione would let him borrow her notes later.
"I want a three-foot essay on the brewing process of the Wiggenweld Potion on my desk next class," Severus informed. "You are all dismissed."
Everyone stood and gathered their notes and bags before exiting the classroom. Hermione and Ron gave him sympathetic looks as they left the classroom. Harry waited patiently while his father finished putting his lessons and the demonstration ingredients he had pulled from the supply closet away. Harry began chewing his nails as he waited.
"Fingers out of your mouth," Severus said as he moved a chair to sit in front of the desk Harry was at.
Harry obediently removed his fingernail from his teeth and rested his hands in his lap.
"You weren't focused in class today," Severus stated. "Care to explain why?"
"I . . . I was just . . . distracted, I guess."
"My new broom, I guess. And I have quidditch practice starting."
"What did I tell you about your grades and quidditch? If this is going to be a problem, I have every right to pull you from the team."
"No, Dad," Harry whined.
"Did you just tell me 'no,' young man?"
"I mean, it's the first practice, Dad, and it was just class today. I'll pay attention – I will – I swear!"
"Listen to me, Harry. It's not just about paying attention, of which you did a horrible job of doing in today's lesson. You need to learn to balance your school time and extracurricular activity time. When you are in classes, quidditch is no longer important. And that should be the case when you are doing your homework as well. You have scheduled times for when quidditch should be your concern. I want you to try and clear your mind before classes so you are ready to focus on the lesson you should be learning. Your classes have exams at the end of the year, quidditch, however, does not."
"There's the Quidditch Cup," said Harry rather daringly.
Severus gave his son a hard look and Harry gulped, knowing he was pushing his luck with this conversation. After a long, intense moment, Severus spoke once more.
"Which is not nearly as important as your final exams which will determine if you passed your subjects and can move on in the curriculum."
"I know," Harry mumbled.
"In concerns to your homework I have assigned, I want an additional foot on the history behind the Wiggenweld Potion and a list of the ingredients with a brief explanation as to why those ingredients are needed."
"You're giving me more work? That's not fair!"
"What isn't fair is teaching a class to a student who doesn't take a single lesson away from it," Severus glared at Harry. "This extra work is to make up for what you clearly missed during class. It will also inform me that you did, in fact, gather the same information as the rest of the students."
"It's still not fair," Harry crossed his arms and glared back at Severus, though he knew the man had much better reasoning to his unfairness than Harry did.
"Keep it up, Mr. Snape," Severus growled in warning.
Harry's face contorted into a pout and he looked down, avoiding his father's look.
"You will do the additional work," Severus concluded. "Unless you'd rather an extra lesson with me tonight instead of quidditch practice."
"I'll do the work," Harry said.
Severus stood and ruffled the still miffed boy's hair. He smirked down at Harry.
"Get up and go to lunch, now. Your friends are still in the hallway. You can go inform them that you are still alive and well."
Harry sighed and stood, still unhappy with his extra work. Perhaps Hermione could help him out with it.
"And I expect you to change your attitude before you visit me tonight."
Harry exited the classroom and found Hermione and Ron standing outside the door, leaning on opposite walls.
"Did you get in any trouble?" Ron asked, concerned.
"No, not really. I just got extra homework."
"Bloody hell, mate, your dad is serious about his class. Sorry."
"Well, he should have been paying attention," Hermione said. "I agree with the extra homework. It's probably just to summarize our lesson from today."
"Yeah, that's about it," Harry confirmed.
"How do you know everything?" Ron glared at her. "You know, she hasn't shut up since we left the classroom."
"I was just informing Ron about what Professor Snape may have wanted to discuss with you. Ron was going on about all the evil things the professor could have been doing to you. But I was right. You're fine and . . ."
Harry sighed as he listened to Ron and Hermione. He couldn't wait until he had practice. Then he could ditch them both for a while. As much as he enjoyed his friends' company, he needed breaks every now and then.
Sam watched Harry in the air. The boy was a natural flyer. He had been too eager to fly on his new broom while they waited for . . . someone and the boy took to the air, swooping in and out of the goal posts and speeding up and down the field. Sam watched attentively, just in case Harry tried a silly stunt that sent him falling to the ground.
Finally, another older boy arrived with some kind of crate. The captain of this so-called game (Wood, was it?), showed Harry several different balls and explained the different positions on the team. Then he started hitting golf balls into the air in every direction for Harry to catch. Wood was very impressed with Harry, as was Sam. After a goof half hour, the night crept up stealthily, forcing the two boys back inside the castle.
Sam turned to the forest and trotted through the thick trees. He sniffed around for something to hunt, though he was rather sick of eating rabbit. The smell of the furry rodent filled his nose and he twitched it, growing rather sick of the scent as well. The black tips of his ears flicked and turned to listen for any sound of new meat to eat. Not that he didn't eat a large meal at dinner, but hunting would use up some of that energy.
Sam heard howling wolves and paused, his tails flicking in opposite directions from each other. He briefly considered visiting the pack, having grown a friend relationship status with the pack's alpha. He rejected the idea, however. The alpha was busy raising a family and keeping order in her ranks.
Sam continued deeper into the trees – into territories unexplored yet by him. He wondered if Freyr was around but then remembered that Severus was proctoring a detention now. Those Weasley twins had found some trouble once more, and even though he had taken part in it, he never stayed nearby when a professor caught them, leaving the twins to accept full responsibility.
Sam heard galloping hooves and braced himself in case it was that thestral herd again. He didn't know why those creatures liked chasing him. He hoped it wasn't just for their amusement.
The galloping neared and horse-like creatures appeared. Horse-like . . . or was it a man? Sam watched as these half-horse half-man-like animals galloped into the clearing where he stood.
Sam didn't know what they were called, but they were huge and he was glad he himself was the size of a large wolf. The animals circled around him, studying him and pawing at the ground. Sam lowered himself a bit, hoping they didn't find his intrusion offensive enough to kill.
One of them approached him, one with silver-blond hair covering its body, standing before him tall and proud. Sam lowered himself more to the ground as the animal dropped on a . . . knee, perhaps, of those long legs. The man torso of the animal leaned forward and Sam caught a glimpse of blue eyes before he bowed to the animal, hoping respect might win their favor. He buried his head in the ground, his right forepaw curling in a submissive posture.
The animal before him smiled and Sam felt a hand run through his fur. The other strange creatures snorted in approval and Sam knew he was safe from attack.
These animals were interesting and Sam spent the night observing and learning from these creatures who spoke with a human tongue.
"It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa," Hermione corrected. "Make the 'gar' nice and long."
Harry could still hardly believe he had been in school for two months. Time flew by quickly and with schoolwork, classes, and quidditch, Harry found himself very busy. He had made up with Draco by allowing him an hour-long use of his broom and they were once again cool with each other. It was Halloween now, but they all still had classes and Charms was one of them. They were finally learning to make something fly, like Professor Flitwick had done with Neville's toad, Trevor.
However, he was paired with Seamus Finnigan, which he didn't mind at all, but that left Ron with Hermione Granger. Harry was afraid Ron would lash out at the know-it-all before the class was over.
"You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.
Hermione did just that, rolling up the sleeves of her gown and flicking her wand as she said "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
"Oh, well done!" cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. "Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!"
Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of class. Neither he nor Harry had made their feathers fly and Ron was just put-off with Hermione.
"It's no wonder no one can stand her and she's always following us around," Ron said as he and Harry left the classroom. "She's a nightmare, honestly!"
"Ron!" Harry scolded.
But the damage was done.
Hermione knocked into Harry as she hurried past him, tears streaming down her face.
"Hermione, wait!" Harry called after her, but she was long gone. "Ron, she heard you."
"So?" Ron said, but he seemed uncomfortable. "She must have noticed she's got no friends."
"Well, I'm her friend. And you tolerate her."
"I'm sure she'll pull herself together. Come on, we've got other classes to get to. She'll show up."
Later that day, during the Halloween feast, Harry felt horrible as he realized he had not seen Hermione all day. He had overheard Parvati Patil telling her friends that Hermione was crying in the girls' bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked more awkward at this, but they continued with the feast. Harry wanted nothing more than to leave his seat and find her, but he knew if he did, Severus would be sure to follow him to know why he was leaving. He would feel even worse explaining to his father that he had allowed his friend to cry alone in the bathroom.
Sam sat next to him, and Harry was sure the fox could smell his uneasiness, but he was glad Sam said nothing and focused on the juicy steak before him.
As Harry put another bite of food into his mouth, Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared at him as he slumped against the teacher's table and gasped, "Troll – in the dungeons – thought you ought to know."
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
While the uproar occurred and the instructions were given by Dumbledore, Harry couldn't help but whisper to himself, "Again?"
: Been through this before? Sam looked at him with sideways ears.
"Yep. And here we go again. But I wonder why."
: I couldn't tell you. But your father is reaching out to me with his mind. Stay with your classmates.
Harry watched as Sam misted and flew to Severus who left with the other professors.
As Harry followed everyone out of the hall, he remembered Hermione.
"Ron!" Harry grabbed his friend's arm. "Hermione! She doesn't know about the troll! We have to help her – it's your fault she's hiding away you know."
"Oh, all right," he snapped. "But Percy better not see us."
They quickly made their way to where Patil had said Hermione was, ducking through Hufflepuff students and slipping down a deserted corridor. Footsteps echoed behind them and they quickly hid behind a large stone griffin, believing it to be Percy. Peering around it, they were both surprised to see Severus with wolf-sized Sam at his heels.
"What's your dad doing over here?" Ron asked. "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the other professors?"
"I don't know. Shh!"
Sam had stopped walking with Severus and looked right at the stone statue. His nose twitched violently as he slowly approached it, his eyes narrowing and his ears flattening against his head. Harry and Ron pressed closer together as Sam inched closer.
"Sam!" Severus called to him. He had moved further down the hall before he noticed Sam was no longer at his side.
Sam swung his head between Severus and the griffin before he snarled at the sculpture and leaped away towards Severus, who looked at the stone with suspicion before disappearing from view with Sam.
"He's heading for the third floor," Harry said as he and Ron crept quietly after the fading footsteps. Harry wondered what his father was up to but Ron brought something else to light.
"Can you smell something?" Ron asked.
Harry did smell something – something foul and familiar – old socks and a public toilet no one ever wanted to clean. Harry's eyes widened as the troll appeared and stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It was a hideous sight not unlike his first time around, all twelve feet and lumpy, thick body.
"That's it! That's the girl's bathroom!" Harry gasped as he looked at the doorway the troll was walking into.
Then, a terrified, high-pitched scream filled the chamber.
"Hermione!" Harry and Ron said in unison.
They charged forward and into the bathroom to see Hermione shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint. The troll advanced her, knocking sinks off the wall as it did.
"Ron, we have to do something!" Harry said and, seizing a tap, he threw it as hard as he could against the wall.
The troll lumbered around and blinked stupidly at Harry. It hesitated before lifting its club at Harry.
"Oy, pea-brain!" yelled Ron from the other side of the chamber. The troll made its way to Ron.
Harry rushed forward and grabbed Hermione's arm, trying to pull her up and away. Hermione seemed frozen, however, fear-struck with her mouth agape and her eyes wide.
"Come on, run, run!" Harry yelled at her.
Hermione snapped out of her stupor and finally stood and ran alongside Harry to the doorway, stopping just before it.
"Ron, come on!" Harry yelled.
Ron was trapped between the wall and the roaring troll. He looked at Harry and back at the troll before raising his wand and trying the only spell that came to mind.
The club flew out of the troll's hand, and Harry expected it to fall on the troll's head and knock it out. But instead, the club fell right back down to the floor, landing on the troll's foot. The troll roared angrily at the pain, but it allowed enough distraction for Ron to slip by.
"Come on," Harry waved him over before the three ran down the hall and away from the lavatory. They could hear the angry troll stomping after them. Hermione screamed and Harry just kept yelling to run.
The three ran right into Professor Snape as they turned a corner, who had also been running toward the sound of screams with Sam at his side.
"What are you three –" Severus was cut off by the roar of the troll that turned the corner as well. His eyes widened and he pushed the children behind him.
Sam ran forward, barking at the troll and running in circles around it. The troll tried to turn as fast as Sam moved around him, spinning and growing dizzy, though he tried to raise his club.
Severus pulled out his wand and wordlessly cast a strong stunning spell at the troll. The big beast teetered for a moment before crashing to the ground. Severus backed the three children up and Sam leaped out of the way. Once it was down, Severus waited a moment before he stepped forward and bent over the troll, making sure it was unconscious. Sam jumped on top of it and sniffed at its massive head, his tails wagging slightly from the excitement.
"Severus!" Minerva came running to them, Quirrell not too far behind her. Ata the sight of the troll Quirrell clutched at his chest and took several deep breaths. "I see its down. Oh, good! Good job."
Severus turned to look at the three children behind him. Minerva looked at them as well and gasped, her eyes widening.
"What on earth are you doing out here?" Minerva said with fury in her voice. "Why aren't you in your dormitory? Do you have any idea how close you came to being killed!"
Harry looked down, avoiding his father's piercing look. Ron still had his wand clutched in his hand.
Then a small voice came out of the shadows.
"Please, Professor McGonagall – they were looking for me."
"I went looking for the troll because I – I thought I could deal with it on my own – you know, because I read all about them."
Ron dropped his wand. Hermione Granger just lied to a teacher? Harry chanced a look up at his father, who was also looking at Hermione with disbelief.
"If they hadn't found me," Hermione continued, "I'd be dead right now. They didn't have to come and fetch anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived."
"Well, in that case . . ." Minerva said as she stared at the three of them. "Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own? Five points will be taken from Gryffindor for this. I'm very disappointed in you. If you're not hurt at all, you'd better be off to your tower where you may finish the feast."
Hermione spared one last look at Ron and Harry before leaving. Minerva looked down at the boys.
"And for you two, standing up to a mountain troll and protecting a friend, well, I must say that is true bravery! You each win Gryffindor five points. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of that. You may go now."
"Except Mr. Snape," Severus cut in. He was glaring at Minerva.
Harry sighed and nodded to Ron to go on without him. Ron nodded back and slowly made his way to their tower. Harry watched as the professors discussed the troll before ultimately deciding to leave it with Quirrell, who looked petrified at the very idea. Severus turned and led Harry away from the revolting smell of the troll, Sam at their heels. After arriving to their quarters, Severus immediately turned on Harry.
"Are you alright?" Severus asked, looking Harry over as he pulled him to the living room and sat him in a chair. He felt Harry's head before holding out the boy's arms and checking for injuries. "Did it hurt you? Are you insane? Why didn't you just tell a teacher of Miss Granger's whereabouts? Why did you go after that thing like that? Don't ever scare me like that again."
"Yes, Dad," Harry said, unsure if he should even address his father's other questions.
He submitted to Severus's check over, allowing his father to make sure his legs were still working, even though he had managed to walk down to their quarters without fail. After Severus checked Harry's face and head one last time, he finally took a step back.
"Do you need a calming draught? Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, I promise. It didn't hurt me. I don't need a calming draught either, I'll be fine."
Severus sighed and sat down in an armchair across from Harry, mumbling, "You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days." He rubbed at his temples and closed his eyes.
Harry smiled and softly said, "sorry."
"Here, why don't you have some hot chocolate while I order food from the feast."
Harry accepted the hot drink from his father. Severus left briefly to order the food, leaving Harry with Sam who was lying on his dog bed.
: I thought I smelled you in the hallway. Sam lifted his head and flicked his ears.
"You did. I was hoping you wouldn't give us away."
: I wanted to, but I thought the troll was far enough away from you for you to be considered safe. A mistake on my part, I must admit.
"We had to save Hermione. What were you and Dad doing anyway? You were supposed to be helping in the dungeons."
: Your father wanted to check on something and wanted my help in case his suspicions were correct.
"Check on what?" Harry asked. He still couldn't remember what the object was that the three-headed dog was protecting. He took a long sip of the hot chocolate as he stared down at Sam.
: That is none of your concern. But you remember that large triple-head dog, correct? It had to do with that. The beast nearly bit your father, too. I nipped it's nose just in time to avert its head away.
"The dog did bite him in the other reality. And Ron and I alone actually knocked the troll out, too. I wonder why we didn't this time."
: I've learned that things never happen the same way twice.
Harry nodded, finding it to be a good answer for now. Sam had a point, nothing so far had played out exactly like they did in the previous world. When dinner arrived, he ate with his father, informing the man of how his day had been before Severus walked him back to Gryffindor Tower.
As Harry entered the common room, he was surprised to see Hermione still up and reading a book in one of the comfy armchairs. The common room was completely deserted, but it was late and the older years tended to stay up in their own dorms. She looked up at him as he neared, setting the book aside and slowly standing to her feet, her night gown touching the floor and hiding her slippers.
"Hi," Hermione started to say.
"Hi," Harry responded.
"I just wanted to say . . ." Hermione stumbled with her words. "Well – as I told Ron, I want to – thank you for what you did back there. Thank you for saving me."
"It was nothing," Harry said. "Any friend would have done it."
"I want to thank you for that, too. Thank you for being a friend."
"Your welcome, Hermione."
"Good night, Harry," Hermione smiled softly as she walked past Harry and left to her dormitory.
Harry entered his own dorm and found his way to his bed, quickly changing into pajamas. After taking care of his nightly habits, he made his way under the covers. From then on, even Ron considered Hermione a friend. The Golden Trio had formed once again, but Harry hoped it would be without the silly name titles.
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