Author's notes:

This is the more detailed summary:

Warning! Story will contain SLASH pairings! A Post-OOTP fic. The students are about to spend their summer holidays of the year 1997. Harry has just finished his sixth year in Hogwarts. He had undergone a lot of personality changes since the death of his godfather, Sirius Black. One who was always ready to give a somewhat shy smile was now a solemn, reserved young man and was just about ready to become a hermit-- or so someone thinks. Chapter 1: During the feast that marks the end of school year, a somewhat disturbing secret has been unearthed.

Firesword: This was written because it had been milling about in my in my mind as I was completing 'Purpose'. You can find the link to that story by clicking on my username (if u wanna read it). By the way, this story has nothing…absolutely nothing to do with 'Purpose'. I may be repeating myself but this story will contain male-male pairings, so I really don't recommend people who doesn't like slash to read this… Thanks to my wonderful betas: Allexandrya, HH, and Shmadyle for being patient and willing to work with me…. *hugs the three of u* Really owe my grammar to u guys!

~ Chapter 1: The end of summer term ~
June 1997

It was quiet in the boys' dormitory, except for the soft rustling of clothes as they were folded and the soft clicking of a beak as Hedwig preened her feathers carefully. The room was lit by a single magical candle floating in the room and by the faint moonlight that filtered through the windows of the bedroom. A rather lean figure, with raven-black hair that just reached below the collar-line sat quietly on a bed as he folded his clothes neatly. Usually, The Boy Who Lived would dump his remaining clothes, books and Merlin knew what else, into his trunk unceremoniously. However, Harry Potter seemed to find such a simple task somewhat relaxing and he let his mind drift and his hands work automatically as he folded shirts, pants and robes. He suddenly jerked at the feel of silk and he stared at the dark emerald shirt. All right, since when have I had any shirts that are green? Oh... I remember! Hermione bought this for me. Only she would pay attention to colors when it comes to clothes. Dark rose for Ginny to complement her fair complexion and black for her Ron, just because he's tall now. I have to admit that Ron looks much better in black than the maroon Mrs. Weasley always seems to prefer. But I wonder why she bought dark emerald instead of green like that of the Slytherin colors. Their green does complement my eyes quite well, but maybe Hermione was thinking about my hair. Harry smiled as he placed the folded shirt with his other belongings. His mind drifted again. Although my new glasses kinda looked ridiculous when I wore the shirt for Christmas. Harry sighed and his lips quirked into a half-smile as he mused. Could the backlash of Voldemort's Killing Curse result with me being short-sighted? Well... what's the point? At least I don't look so 'nerdy' with my new glasses. He checked his trunk and he was finally satisfied with his packing. Harry was not aware of a tall figure waiting silently by the door until a voice echoed quietly in the bedroom.

"Will you be coming down to dinner Harry?" the voice inquired politely.

Harry tensed slightly but relaxed when he recognized that the rich baritone belonged to a certain redheaded Prefect. Harry straightened up and turned to face Ron, indicating his answer with a slight shake of his head.

Ron sighed and his shoulders bunched up as he strode quickly over to his friend. "You are," the redheaded Weasley placed his long, well-muscled hands on Harry's shoulders and applied a bit of pressure, "the most stubborn git I've ever come across in all the seventeen years of my young life." Ron slowly let go of his slightly shorter friend and raked his red hair back with his fingers. "What are we supposed to do with you, Harry?"

"I don't know," Harry said lightly then pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Maybe... bash me up good, dump me into a potato sack, drop some stones in and haul me out to sea?" he suggested mildly.

"Merlin! Was that a joke I heard? Damn it, Harry! That's not fair!" Ron pretended to be hurt but he was secretly glad that Harry had finally lightened up. Even if it's the end of our sixth year.

Harry had not been acting like his normal self throughout their entire sixth-year. Ron's best friend had preferred to keep to himself separate from the others and brood. Ron at least understood why his friend was oftentimes silent. He knew that Harry was still mourning the loss of his godfather and in a silent pact, he and Hermione agreed not to pester Harry about it unless he broached the subject himself. Ron looked at his friend as Harry rearranged the books in his trunk.

Ron suppressed the sigh that threatened to escape as he watched his friend busying himself with packing. Seeing that his friend was totally occupied, Ron let his mind wander and he found himself recollecting the events that occurred ever since they left King's Cross the previous summer.

Summer of the year 1996 passed quickly. Ron and Hermione owled Harry frequently and they received their answers when they had expected not to be answered. The summer was quite uneventful despite the fact that the Dark Lord was waiting somewhere, Death Eaters were still on the loose, and Dementors had been out feasting on and tormenting clueless Muggles. Fortunately, there were some witches and wizards (and a number of Squibs) who still kept an eye on the Muggle world and noticed that the number of people visiting psychiatrists and mental institutions had increased dramatically. The covering up of the Dementors' acts was quite messy and most people working in the Ministry found themselves having to work overtime.

September finally arrived and school began as usual. News of Sirius's death still echoed in the Great Hall and corridors and Ron wished that he could strangle some of the students who had pointedly accused Harry of being the sole cause of his godfather's death. So Harry rarely smiled and it came as a shock – mainly to McGonagall and the Gryffindors – when Harry declined to be the Seeker for the house. Hell broke loose that day but Harry remained adamant in his decision. Of course, no one dared to ask The Boy Who Lived why he didn't want to be on the team anymore.

Sometime in the week before Halloween, an elite group attempted several assassinations, mainly targeting a group of Aurors and the members of the Order. Alastor Moody was killed in the line of duty as he saved Kingsley Shacklebolt from a Killing Curse. Charlie Weasley and his group of dragon riders were also attacked but they returned unscathed while their attackers were left burning, and attracting some unnameable Dark Creatures that were drawn to the burning flesh like vultures to death. Death Eaters also infiltrated into the castle of Hogwarts and attempted an assassination of The Boy Who Lived.

By the time the skirmish was over, the infiltrators had escaped (Voldemort was injure-free) although one of them had been transfigured into something totally unrecognizable by the wand of a truly terrified Ginny. Harry was out cold, bleeding in several different places and looking as though he had been attacked by a ferocious beast on a rampage. Thankfully, Lupin (the werewolf had been reinstated as teacher to D.A.D.A) had been there with the group and they quickly carried Harry up to the hospital wing, ignoring the shocked faces of McGonagall, Snape and some of the students. Harry remained unconscious for nine days and it had not escaped Hermione's keen eyes when she saw Snape uncharacteristically lingering beside Harry's bed. Ron was a little surprised when they found out that the Potions Master was genuinely affected by the death of the ex-Auror.

When Harry finally recovered, he simply refused to be near a large group of people, frequently avoiding the library at rush-hour, not going into the courtyard during breaks, and not even attending the Quidditch finals. Gryffindor was knocked out of the finals by the Hufflepuffs, the Slytherins were beaten soundly by them, and Hufflepuff had claimed the Cup. Harry seldom came down to supper since more students seemed to gather about in the Hall. Hermione had her own suspicions but if she knew why Harry was acting oddly she chose not to enlighten her partner.

The sound of Harry's trunk closing drew Ron's attention back to the present. Luckily for Ron, Harry seemed to be unaware that his friend had been woolgathering. Ron asked Harry in a pleading voice. "So... are you sleeping here tonight or are you going to sleep in that room again?"

"Ron, you've got to be kidding." Harry chuckled softly, his emerald eyes softening. "How can I sleep with the four of you snoring like a drunk Ford Anglia?" He grinned and a muffled 'Ooophf' came from the raven-haired teenager as his best friend sent a pillow directly at his face. Harry smiled as he picked up the fallen pillow and with a softly muttered, "Wingardium Leviosa," he sent the pillow back to Neville's bed.

Harry looked thoughtfully at his bed and then his owl before he gave a long sigh. "As much as I would like to sleep in the company of friends, I don't think I care to risk depressing you guys with my nightmares," Harry said a little ruefully.

"But –" Ron's handsome face tensed as he concentrated on his thoughts, "– I thought that potion Snape gave you – Bloody Hell! What's it called?"

Harry tilted his head to his right, feeling a little amused at his best-friend's behavior. "Sleeping Draft Potion?" he replied blandly.

"Blimey! I wonder if Ginny laced my pumpkin juice this morning with that Forgetfulness Potion she filched from Snape!" Ron exclaimed, his voice tight with suspicion.

"Or maybe you're just too overwhelmed by the fact that 'Mione's going to stay under your roof for four weeks," Harry responded with a wide grin and Ron's face inevitably turned scarlet. The redheaded Weasley mumbled something unintelligible.

Then Ron spoke in a much clearer voice. "Well, then. 'Mione is going to kill me at having failed in my mission, the objectives of which are to bind you up, haul you over my shoulder and bring you down to dinner. You had better make sure to eat everything that Winky brings up to you, all right mate?" Ron said sternly and Harry laughed. That earned a gentle smile from Ron and they exchanged a warm brotherly hug. "It's good to have you back, mate."

Harry squeezed his best friend's shoulders gently before releasing Ron. "I know," Harry agreed softly, his emerald eyes searching Ron's face. "And thanks for being patient with me."

"Patience is a virtue, Harry," Ron replied philosophically.

"I have something to confess to the both of you, but this can wait until I give you guys a visit," Harry said, although Ron noted that his eyes behind the silver-rimmed glasses were slightly unfocused.

"Harry! You're killing me with my own curiosity!" Ron answered, groaning.

"On your way Weasley," Harry replied, imitating Mrs. Weasley's tone. "Your partner's waiting." Harry received a painful smack from Seamus's book but Ron did finally retreat from the dormitory.

Harry placed the book back on Seamus's dressing table and a soft hoot caught his attention. "Sorry Hedwig," he said apologetically and went up to his owl. Hedwig nibbled on his finger affectionately. "I envy you," he said softly and Hedwig gave an inquiring hoot. "I envy that you have a flying partner. I'm referring to Hawke, lady," Harry said with a smile and a contented hoot escaped from Hedwig's beak. "Who would have thought that our greasy-haired, slimy git of a Potions Master would have a friend flying around in his backyard?" Harry obliged his owl's insistence and he scratched her neck gently.

At the thought of the Potions Master, Harry suddenly remembered an object that he had created. He left Hedwig to her grooming and he sat at the edge of his bed. With his right arm, he reached into the depths of his pocket and finally took the object out. Harry stared at it intently, delighting in the vibration of strong magic that the object radiated.

Harry had no recollection of how long he had spent making the object but he knew that he had been thinking about it ever since he had resumed Occlumency lessons with Snape. He knew, however, that he had finished creating the object just before their study week started. He had finished it and stumbled into the common room just as Ginny started rambling hysterically about Potions with Hermione trying her best to calm the girl down. Harry smiled at the memory.

Harry stood up and gave Hedwig a last scratch as he exited from the bedroom and proceeded to the common room. And speaking of Sev, Harry gave an inward smile at the nickname he had given the Potions Master. The nickname was really a slip of the tongue when Harry had felt truly frustrated after Snape had – whether it had been accidental or not – dug out a memory of a dream that was best left undiscussed. Harry could only attribute that dream to his growing teenage hormones. That incident had left both men blushing painfully. By the time Harry's birthday was over, both individuals had gotten used to the Potions Master new call-name, although he felt that it would be far safer if he refrain from using the nickname during the term. Harry felt the weight of the metallic object in his pocket. I've got to pass him this. I'm not sure if the receiver will get it if I send it by owl, but Sev being who he is, I'm sure he'll come up with something. And hopefully he won't bump into the she-dragon when he gets to King's Cross to deliver the gift.

Harry greeted Parvati briefly as he made his way out of the common room and proceeded briskly downwards to the dungeons. He bumped into Cho and her girls and the two stared at each other for a moment before Harry acknowledged her with a nod and continued on his way. The Ravenclaws were looking at him as though he was a stranger, but Harry was too tired to consider their opinion of him. He caught sight of Malfoy and his gang and slowed his pace a bit. It wouldn't do if any of the Slytherins caught him visiting the dreaded Potions Master whom they thought he hated. Well, I still do sometimes... He shrugged to himself and winced when the presence of the dozens of people gathered in the Hall hit him. That was the reason why Harry avoided crowds. After his duel with Voldemort, which had included the conjuring of an imp-like demon with huge claws and an unknown spell that Harry had to counteract with his will during the nine days he lay unconscious, Harry found that he was extremely sensitive to the auras of the half-grown witches and wizards. Being with Hermione and Ginny for only an hour was enough to give him a migraine. Being around Snape was enough to cause him to faint, which he did when he had stayed in Snape's office to learn about certain uses of plants.

Although Snape, Dumbledore and he himself had found ways to negate his sensitivity a little, Harry was still able to feel the magic strongly radiating out from his schoolmates. It was possible for him to be in a group study for half a day. He would have freaked out if he couldn't because he'd be seriously failing Advanced Transfigurations, yet it had surprised Hermione that he was doing all right in Potions. Harry knew that most of the Slytherins would be seated in the Hall for the feast and he swiftly crossed the Entrance Hall and went down the staircase. He moved quickly and paused at the office. It was locked. Damn. He's at the Hall. Should I break in? Or should I wait until the feast's over? He pondered but decided that it was just too important to wait.

Harry reached for his wand and a jet of sparks burst from the tip of his wand. The door did not immediately open but he didn't really expect the simple spell to override the magic of a powerful wizard. Harry laid the flat of his palm on the door and concentrated. The wards weakened further and Harry heard a click. Hell, Sev will give me a lecture about this. Good job Harry. This will make sure that Sev gives you extra tutorials during the holidays. Remind yourself that it was your own idea to infuriate the man when he gives you the task of writing fifteen-inch parchment essays. Harry slipped in and waited by the chair calmly.

**********

Professor Snape gave the meanest of scowls at a group of Hufflepuffs who were laughing too loudly for his taste. He slowly drank his juice and had finally finished his steak when he heard a snort coming from the werewolf seated beside him.

"Something amusing, Lupin?" Snape drawled, wiping his mouth meticulously on a napkin, still maintaining his scowl.

"For Merlin's sake, it's the end of the school term. Try to fake a smile," Lupin said softly without looking at the Potions Master.

Professor Vector, who was seated beside Lupin, tried to smother a giggle. "Don't take up his suggestion Severus. You'll probably scare the children to death."

"Really?" Snape turned to look at her, his scowl replaced by faint amusement. "Maybe I should try that."

Vector's curses went unheard as bells rang clearly in Snape's head; he suppressed the urge to mutter every blasphemy he had learnt in the course of his life. Dumbledore looked at him curiously, though his eyes told Snape that he knew what had happened. Snape excused himself from the table and he strode calmly out of the Hall, feeling the eyes of Hermione, Ron and Draco at his back. He considered what he should do to his ward who had broken into his office. Blasted boy! Doesn't he know how much energy I require to rebuild the goddamn wards? "Harry, can you please explain what you mean by breaking my wards?" Snape thundered as he slammed open the door and closed it with a bang.

"No explanations, sir. Just that I want you to give something to you-know-who, since you know I can't give it to him myself," Harry said calmly, ignoring the black scowl on Snape's face.

"But you are going on the train aren't you?" Snape frowned as Harry shook his head.

"Dumbledore advised me against boarding the Hogwarts Express. No idea why he wants that though, so if you want answers, get it from him," Harry replied and Snape groaned.

"But how on earth are you going to get to our home?" Snape massaged his temple and Harry quirked up an eyebrow when he heard Snape referring his house as 'theirs'.

"Portkey, and Dumbledore will be escorting me. Here," Harry said as he reached out for Snape's right hand and dropped the object into his palm. Snape looked at him quizzically and studied the steely object carefully. "Dumbledore's worried that something might happen to him so I just helped by creating something that would alert us if he's in trouble," Harry said, trying to sound as expressionless as possible although his heart was thumping strongly in his chest. "It will close automatically and once on, it can't be removed."

Snape suppressed a sigh of envy. That brat is so lucky to receive something so exquisitely made, and by Harry's own magic. Too bad Harry Potter is half my age. I would seriously consider chasing him, but no, he is infatuated with the brat. Snape carefully examined the engraving on the silver and it seemed like Harry was waiting for him to say something. "It's pretty enough that I don't think he will discard it. Do you want me to make sure he puts it on before I leave the station?" To Snape's amusement, the boy who was already equal in height blushed furiously and Snape chuckled, something he had only shown to Harry when the teenager came to live with him during the previous summer.

**********

Leren Montague, the younger brother of Jeffrey Montague (who was the Syltherin House captain for the year 1995) slowly retrieved his hand – with his wand hidden by his huge palm – from where he had placed it over the hem of Draco's robe, just as the Slytherin prefect stood up and muttered something about the need to pack his belongings. Crabbe and Goyle had approached the Quidditch captain earlier in the evening to see if he had any idea of how to expose the prefect's loyalty to the Slytherin's cause. Even if they didn't find out anything about that, they hoped that they would find some evidence of the Slytherin prefect caught up in some very unorthodox behavior. Crabbe and Goyle immediately approached him as Draco finally left the Hall. Leren chanted something under his breath, thereby activating the spell with a quick movement of his hand that held his hidden wand, under the oak table.

Ginny, who had been studying the Slytherin table, quickly whispered into Dean's ear and her boyfriend leaned forward to whisper in Ron's. Ron leaned back, one scarlet eyebrow raised up skeptically.

"'Mione," Ron leaned sideways and rubbed his nose for a quick moment as his partner's hair tickled it, "Ginny says those blokes over there are acting very funny."

"Really?" Hermione looked up to him and stared at Leren Montague. The Slytherin seemed to feel her eyes on him and he sneered at her. Hermione narrowed her eyes dangerously. "Friends," Hermione said sweetly and Ginny was the first to lean over the table. She knew that tone and smiled devilishly. "What shall we give them for a farewell gift?" That got all of them whispering, all bearing the same, maniacal grins.

**********

"Was I that transparent?" Harry mumbled, not meeting Snape's coal-black eyes.

"If one's observant enough... Yes," Snape answered, and kept the gift in his robe that he would be wearing the next morning. "And yes... where were we? About that punishment. As you are my godson, I'm entitled to every means possible to ensure discipline. I'll tell you what you're going to be doing when we get home tomorrow. Right now, you are going to help me rebuild the wards and don't you dare slip," Snape said sternly and Harry sighed in resignation.

Both of them took their wands out and slipped into a trance effortlessly and began to weave the wards together. They were so deep in concentration as they created the shields that they were deaf to the small but distinctive gasp outside the door.

**********

Utter silence. Hermione stared at the Slytherins with shock. Ginny was very pale and Ron was right on the verge of hysteria. Slowly, contemptuous looks began appearing on the faces of the Slytherins and Hermione snarled when she saw that happening. It was Luna, however, who started the swearing and Hermione found herself agreeing with every oath that escaped the Ravenclaw. McGonagall was looking very faint and Lupin... No one knew quite how to explain the look on his face. The werewolf certainly looked shocked, mingled with disbelief and a second later, he certainly looked happy. Then his expression changed into a concerned one before settling for a blank expression. Only Dumbledore was unaffected by the amplified, and somewhat distorted conversation between Professor Snape and Harry Potter.

"Bloody hell," Ron finally managed to get his voice working.

"My sentiments exactly," Hermione agreed stiffly.

Conversation erupted in the Hall again and the Gryffindors wondered, and those who used their brains to think, what would become of the double-crossing Potions Master now that Montague had uncovered that he was protecting The Boy Who Lived.

**********

Post-Author's Notes:

Hey guys! This is my first attempt writing a slash fic! Although it will be rather mild slash (but u can't really tell since you had read only hints in this chap)…Updating the next chap will take sometime, since I need my betas to give me the thumbs-up signal :) …. Wat do u think abt this first chap? Boring?