Chapter 8: Interludes in the Hospital Wing
It was three days later when Harry's aunt Petunia finally got there. Harry had been looking forward to the day, and woke up extraordinarily early. Much like a small boy on Christmas, he got ready in a huge hurry, and made his way to the common room. As was usual, Hermione, who had gauged his mood the night before, was awake and reading on the couch. Hermione still slept in the Gryffindor house Dormitories, but spent very little time in the Gryffindor tower otherwise. Everyone had been a lot nicer to her since the night of Halloween, but she still didn't feel comfortable there. Harry didn't mind the company, anyway.
Harry and Hermione made their way down to breakfast, where the normal shift in attention happened. Harry hated that, whenever he or Hermione walked into a room, the attention of the room would shift to them for a while. It was like everyone was just waiting for him to amaze them with something. It never really occurred to him that this was because he'd already amazed them more this year than anyone had ever amazed them before. Even the purebloods, who had grown up around magic, didn't know what the magus was capable of.
Breakfast was thoroughly un-exciting, much to the disappointment of the rest of the school, and Harry and Hermione made their way to Transfiguration. Hermione was excited about the lesson today. It was the last thing that Professor McGonagall planned to cover before the students went home, and it was supposed to be fairly easy with practice.
It wasn't much of a lesson for Harry, which was usual. His mind wasn't really on the subject, but more on his Aunt Petunia's arrival later that day. He took his normal notes, but didn't really visualize the spells as his favorite Professor ran through the lesson plan.
Potions class was a particularly trying time for Harry. Professor Snape revealed a new aspect to his vindictive nature when he asked Harry to the front of the classroom. "Potter, to the front please. You will assist me in a presentation."
Professor Snape's aura was flared slightly, and he seemed to be quite pleased with himself. Harry wasn't sure what the man had planned, but was fairly sure that it wouldn't be pleasant. Professor Snape motioned for Harry to sit in the stool. He then produced a phial of a reddish potion. Harry could feel the aura pulsing with heat.
"This is a remedy for the common cold, class." Professor Snape said. "It is called a Pepper-Up potion. Mr. Potter will now take this potion, and you will observe the side-effects."
Harry took the phial in his hand, and could feel the magical heat of the potion, even though the phial was quite cool to the touch. It didn't seem dangerous, so Harry downed the potion. He didn't miss, the gleam in his Professor's eye, but could tell that Snape didn't really mean him harm. He could feel the burst of magical heat as the potion hit his stomach, and felt the magic radiate throughout his body. Moments later, the class laughed out loud as steam began to pour from Harry's ears. Harry blushed red with embarrassment, and then flushed with heat.
Snape sneered at Harry's obvious discomfort at being the center of attention, but was caught off guard when Harry's skin flushed a deep red. The Pepper-Up potion was designed to raise the body heat slightly, and basically burn the cold out of a person, with the embarrassing side effect of a cloud of steam erupting from the ears. It wasn't designed to do this… Harry began to sweat, and there was no embarrassed smile on his face anymore. Instead, his face looked feverish, and he appeared to be in pain. Professor Snape was about to ask him if he was ok, but Harry raised his eyes to meet the potions master's. No, Harry was definitely NOT ok. His eyes were rapidly becoming bloodshot as his bright green irises began to glow with purple light.
Harry felt weird. It was too hot in the potions room, and he felt lightheaded. He looked at his Professor, and started to feel really strange. Purple spots began to appear in his field of view, and Harry found himself unable to focus. Suddenly, he felt a tremendous pressure building in his head. It was extremely painful, and Harry grabbed his head. That didn't help, and the pressure continued to build.
The Professor was too shocked to move. He was trying to make peace with Harry by having him to the front of the class, then Professor Snape could thank him for his help, and maybe erase the accusing stare that Harry always seemed to give him, especially since the chase game. And now, Harry was reacting badly with the Pepper-Up potion, and would probably blame it on the Professor.
While Snape was busy thinking about himself, Hermione ran to Harry's side. Harry was barely aware of her. The pressure was too much, and he couldn't bear any more of it. With a primal scream, Harry let his magic loose for the first time since the chase game, but this time without the safeguards of direction. It was just a wave of magic.
With Harry as the center, a giant explosion of golden light erupted from the front of the classroom. Chairs, tables, and anything that could be used as shields, were quickly utilized as everyone tried to avoid the massive surge of magic. Professor Snape was hit full force, and was thrown bodily against the wall, where he watched the rest of the scene.
Papers flew about in a cyclone, and potions ingredients danced their way across the floor. Cauldrons tipped over, and viscous liquids blended together on the floor. It was the very picture of mayhem, and Harry was once again in the middle. Severus Snape had a very powerful flashback, right then and there.
It was Halloween night when Severus got the call. Voldemort had found the Potters and was going to kill them. Severus was a second circle member with a grudge against James Potter, so he had been selected as one of the Dark Lord's honor guards. The defenses on the house weren't difficult, and Voldemort entered the house. The two honor guards remained outside to "deal" with any un-invited guests.
Severus heard spells being cast downstairs, and heard the familiar sound of a killing curse being cast. James Potter was no more. It was rather unsatisfying to Severus Snape. He could hear Lily screaming upstairs, and then could hear her begging for Harry's life.
Another killing curse, and Lily was also dead. Severus heard the malicious laughter, and heard the awful spell cast once more. Rather than another round of laughter, Severus heard something else. It sounded vaguely like a train coming, but that didn't make sense. Suddenly, he was thrown from his feet as a golden cyclone engulfed the house.
Snape yanked himself out of the vision as Harry collapsed to the floor of the classroom, and rushed over to the boy. Hermione was holding him up, and crying quietly to herself. Professor Snape checked the boy's pulse, and found that he seemed to be fine now, and didn't feel hot anymore. He breathed a silent sigh of relief, and looked up to meet the accusing eyes of the young girl.
"His Aunt is coming today, Professor." She stated calmly, before her voice broke. "He was so excited to see her. How could you do this to him?"
"I'm sorry," Professor Snape said. It was the only think he could say. "I didn't know that he would be allergic."
He wasted no more time, and conjured a stretcher for the unconscious boy, and dismissed class early. He had to take Harry to the infirmary, and didn't want the rest of the class in the room, in case the chemicals that had been spilled on the floor reacted together badly.
Aunt Petunia made it to Hogsmeade without a problem. She was a little disconcerted to be back in the magical world again, but was dealing with it masterfully. She recognized a few people, but didn't really look hard. She had no intention of re-entering the magical world, and never had more than casual acquaintances here either.
Her muggle clothing didn't draw much attention, but she felt like she stood out. Everyone else was wearing robes and cloaks, but she was wearing long pants and a heavy coat. There wasn't anything she could do about it, and the coat would be better than a cloak, since she couldn't cast any heating charms on her own garments.
At the end of the village, she found the familiar gates, and started up the walkway. She'd been here before, of course. She'd visited once for Lily's graduation, and had come once again for Lily's wedding, shortly after the times had turned dark for the wizarding world. Still, it had been a while. The forest was as forbidding as ever, and she shifted to the other side of the path, as far from the forest as the path allowed her to be.
It wasn't long before she found the second set of gates to the grounds. Beyond these gates, she could see the old ruins that she knew concealed Hogwarts from muggles and squibs. She held up her hand to the gargoyle, and stated that she was here to visit.
The gargoyle never moved, but the air inside the gate shimmered, and a beautiful castle took the place of the once dilapidated ruin. The gates swung open with their normal creak, and Petunia wondered for the millionth time if wizards tried to be creepy on purpose.
Hagrid was waiting to escort her to the castle. Petunia was surprised at this. In her last letter, Harry was quite excited to be coming down to collect her personally. He wanted to show her the grounds. Petunia had already seen them, but Harry was so eager to do it that she fully intended to act like she'd never seen them before.
Hagrid was not smiling, and looked worried. Petunia tried not to get upset early. Her sister had told her all about the gentle giant, and how upset he could get over small things that weren't important. "Good day, Hagrid." Petunia said, as politely as she could. "How have you been?"
"Oh, I've been alright." Hagrid said. He didn't really know what he was supposed to say to her, beyond telling her that Professor Dumbledore wanted to see her when she got there. "I've been sent to get ya, so the Headmaster can speak to you."
THAT got Petunia worried. "Where's Harry?" She asked. "I was told that he'd be meeting me here, so he could take me around the grounds."
"Oh." Hagrid looked very uncomfortable. "Well, ya see, there were a little accident this morning, and Harry's in the hospital." That got Petunia to an almost panic level, and Hagrid rushed to calm her down. "Oh, he's fine! Just had a bad reaction to a potion. Professor Snape had him up for a demonstration, and he was allergic to the stuff, is all."
The mention of Snape snapped Petunia out her panic, and her eyes narrowed shrewdly. "Severus Snape?" She asked.
"Yep." Hagrid confirmed. "He's the potions master here, and a fine one he is, too." Hagrid paused, and then continued in a quieter tone. "If only he weren't such a git about it."
"Let me see if I have the full picture." Petunia said, trying not to scream in mindless rage. "Severus Snape, the man personally responsible for the destruction of Ravenclaw house, expelled in the middle of his seventh year, and known Death Eater, is the man responsible for my nephew being in the hospital?"
"I think you need to talk to the Headmaster," was the only reply she got. Hagrid began to walk off, and Petunia fell in behind him. She could get the answers she needed directly from the Headmaster, and make sure this didn't happen again.
The entrance hall wasn't much different from the way she remembered it, but she wasn't really concentrating on it. Hagrid led her to the infirmary, where she found a collection of people. Professor McGonagall and Albus Dumbledore she recognized, but there was a woman there who appeared to be a nurse as well, and a small girl, who must have been one of Harry's friends. Just past where the chairs were, she saw her nephew, unconscious once more. She walked over, and checked on him herself.
The nurse woman looked like she was going to give her the report, but she didn't need it. "He's exhausted himself again, has he?" The nurse seemed genuinely shocked that a muggle woman would recognize the symptoms of magical exhaustion, and only nodded. "It's happened before, you know. Normally it only happens when he does something for the first time. I've never seen it caused by outside interference." Petunia turned cold eyes to the Headmaster. "And I was under the impression that Harry was going to be protected from the sort of forces that would try to harm him."
"I think this discussion is best saved for my office, Petunia." Dumbledore said. "I am not sure that you are aware of the full circumstances of what occurred this morning, but I can assure you that Severus didn't intentionally harm Harry."
Harry was walking in pitch darkness. He knew what was going on, since this had happened to him a few times before. His body had used too much magic, and he was not able to keep himself awake right now. He would wake up eventually, when his body replenished enough magic to allow his eyes to open.
Given that he had some time to kill, Harry took a little trip through his own mind, looking for anything that he might find interesting, or perhaps some stray thoughts that he could play with until his body allowed his consciousness back in.
It wasn't long before Harry found the stray thoughts he was looking for. Hermione was sitting in the Draconus common room, looking over her notes. Harry walked over to her and struck up a conversation. They talked of many things, from Harry's emerging power, to the odd occurrence of Harry's wings changing on the Quidditch pitch. Harry knew better than to ask Hermione questions about her life that he didn't know the answers to, since this wasn't really Hermione, just an image of her from a stray thought. It had to be a stray thought, because if it were a memory, he couldn't interact with it. Memories were very specific, and never deviated from their actions, but stray thoughts were just random things, and Harry could direct their flow easily with his imagination.
It wasn't too long before his mind was pulled back to the surface, and his eyes opened a crack. He was in the hospital wing. That was ok, and it was dark outside. He wasn't sure how long he's been out, but if it was the same day, it had only been about five hours or so. That wasn't too bad. He was still quite tired, however, and dropped back into a normal sleep.
"Alright, Albus," Petunia started, using the aged Headmaster's first name, "Explain this to me. You can start with how you came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to put that horrid man in a position to harm my nephew." Albus started to speak, but Harry's Aunt didn't really give him time to respond. She was ranting. "He was there, Albus, and you know it. He was standing just outside the house when You-Know-Who killed my sister. How could you eve think about putting him and Harry in the same castle?" She then paused. Dumbledore would be heard, but she had needed the rant a little.
"Severus Snape is a man of many demons, Petunia." The aged wizard said. "He was in my employ, as a spy, when Voldemort," Petunia cringed at the name, "called him for a special mission. He only found out when he arrived that the mission involved the deaths of the Potters." Albus rubbed the bridge of his nose. "He couldn't contact anyone, and couldn't warn Lily or James. He came to me, just after the mission, and informed me of what had happened. He was in hysterics, and I had to stun him. I honestly believe that it was the worst moment of his life when Voldemort killed Lily and James."
Petunia took issue with that statement. "Albus, that's not true, and you know it. I knew the man only by name and reputation, but even I know that he hated James Potter with as much passion as anyone ever could, and he hated Lily almost as much. He destroyed the Ravenclaw house in his seventh year, and got himself expelled, in an attempt to kill both James Potter and Lily Evans, when he learned that they were engaged to be married." Petunia was working herself up, and took a few breaths to calm herself a bit. "He couldn't have been sorry to see the Dark Lord succeed where he had failed."
"I believe, Petunia, that it was his hatred for the two of them that made it worse for him." Albus said. "Severus may have hated them, but it was his job to feed information to us, and that information kept Lily and James alive. He loved the fact that Lily and James were alive because HE said so. When Voldemort found them, and launched his attack with no warning, it took away the entire reason for his existence, at least in his own mind. His whole world collapsed in a moment, and left him as nothing. That is not an easy thing to reconcile, and Severus has been trying to come to terms with his life for the last ten years. Harry coming to this school was good for him, and I believe that he might be beginning to appreciate Harry, somewhat."
Anger was flaring in Petunia's eyes. "He's got a funny way of showing it!" She screeched. "He tried to kill him, and in front of Harry's entire class!"
"Petunia, please calm down." Albus said, raising his hands in a placating gesture. "Severus meant no harm to Harry. There was a misunderstanding between the two of them a few weeks ago, and Severus was trying to make amends. The idea was that Harry would demonstrate the effects from the Pepper-Up potion, which are actually a bit comical, and everyone, including Harry, would have a little laugh. Then Severus could thank Harry for his help, and partially make amends for the misunderstanding." Albus looked her straight in the eye, and Petunia could see the honesty reflected in his eyes. "I myself approved the idea. There was only one problem. I'd forgotten for a few moments that a magus, like Harry, reacts to magic differently than normal wizards. It slipped my mind that harmless things, like fitting charms and simple potions can cause unpredictable and sometimes dangerous reactions with the magic internal to the magus."
"What are you saying, Albus?" Petunia inquired.
"Very simply, Petunia, Harry had an allergic reaction to the Pepper-Up potion. There was no way anyone could have prepared for that. There is no possibility of allergic reaction in normal wizards, and there haven't been any magi in the last nine hundred years. There was simply no way that Severus would have even suspected that Harry might be the first person in history to be allergic to Pepper-Up."
"Harry wrote me about being a magus, and I checked Lily's old books for the reference." Petunia said, not really angry anymore. "I couldn't even find a reference to them, and I've never heard of the term before, except in muggle fiction. Albus, what is Harry?"
Albus got that familiar twinkle in his eye. "Petunia, Harry is a magus, or what we used to call a warrior-wizard." His eyes were even more excited. "They once inhabited the more northern areas of Scotland, and were considered the ultimate in magical fighters. One magus was said to be worth thirty good wizards in a fight. A magus is normally quite powerful, but their talents are mostly postured towards battle. They use a form of wandless magic that allows them to quickly target, neutralize, and triumph over their enemies."
Petunia understood the part about postured towards fighting. "I wondered about that. Every time Harry used magic, it was in some sort of conflict, unless he was just playing around." Petunia paused for a second, then her eyes lit up with understanding. "That's why he flies! If he is in the air, he can defend himself on all sides at once, and can see where his opponents are better!"
"It also explains his 'sight,' Petunia." Dumbledore said, quite enjoying this conversation now. "Harry can see the spells that are normally hidden, and can 'see' magic on a much more basic level than we can. That means he can tell which spells are dangerous to him, and which ones he can use to his own advantage."
"How did this happen, Albus?" Petunia asked, the excitement fading as she realized the implications of a few of Harry's powers. "If there hasn't been a magus in the last nine hundred years, why did Harry suddenly become one, and why aren't there any others?"
"I don't know, Petunia." Albus said, once again feeling tired. "I just don't know."
The next morning, Petunia made her way to the infirmary. Harry was not awake yet, but Petunia was informed that he was sleeping normally. That was a good sign. The feverish sleep brought on by magical exhaustion was a tricky malady for any medi-witch or wizard. The only cure for magical exhaustion was for the person's reserves to recharge enough that they pulled themselves out of their semi-comatose state. Many witches and wizards had over-extended their abilities, and burned their power conduits out. These unfortunate specimens never woke from their magical comas, and normally died in a few weeks, as their body's strain caught up with them.
As Petunia turned to leave, Harry's eyes fluttered open. "Hi." He said weakly. He wasn't recharged yet, but he was strong enough to stay conscious for a while.
Petunia whirled back around, and met the bright green eyes of her nephew. "Harry!" She hugged him fiercely. "Oh, thank god you're awake! I was so worried about you."
Harry returned her hug, albeit a little weakly. His magic seemed somehow tied to his physical strength, and both had a tendency to go at the same time when he exhausted himself. "I'm ok, Aunt Petunia. Just a little tired."
Madame Pomfrey chose that moment to announce her presence. "A little tired!" She bustled quickly over to Harry, and began checking him over. "You're lucky that you didn't do any permanent harm, Magus Potter. Do try and be more careful with yourself."
Aunt Petunia was going to say something, but Harry got there first. He narrowed his eyes at the medi-witch. "This," he said, his eyes piercing her soul, "was not MY fault, Madame Pomfrey."
Madame Pomfrey shivered at the look he was giving her, and stepped back. "Of course not, Magus Potter…."
Petunia put a hand on Harry's shoulder, and met his eyes. "She was worried about you, Harry." The anger left Harry's eyes. "Lots of people react like that once the danger is passed. I do it too." She smiled at him, and he returned it shakily. "Remember when you ended up on the roof of the school, and couldn't get down?" Harry nodded. "I was so worried about you, that I punished you when you got home. I wasn't angry with you, since it wasn't really your fault, but I needed the release. It's a human thing, Harry."
"I'm sorry, Aunt Petunia, Madame Pomfrey." Harry said, looking apologetic. "I over-reacted. I'm just tired."
"Get some rest, Harry." Petunia said. "I'm going to head to the Great hall for breakfast. I'll check back in on you in a few hours, okay?"
"Ok, Aunt Petunia." Harry said, and then settled back into the bed. His eyes shut, and he was sleeping peacefully in a few minutes.
"He is quite an amazing boy." Madame Pomfrey said. "I just wish I knew more about what he is. It's nearly impossible for me to treat him. I don't know what potions he's going to react with, or what spells might hurt him."
"Did you get a sample of his blood when he came in?" Petunia asked. "If you did, you can probably run some tests on it, to see what he might react with, and cast some spells on it, testing to see what might hurt him."
"I did take a sample, but I might need more." Madame Pomfrey said. "If I need more, do I have your permission to ask Harry for another sample?"
"Certainly, Madame Pomfrey." Petunia said. "If it will help you help Harry, then you can have my permission."
"Thank you, Petunia." Madame Pomfrey said. "I'd join you for breakfast, but I have a few things to take care of here. I trust you can find the Great Hall without me?"
"I know where it is." Petunia said. "Thank you for taking good care of my nephew, Madame Pomfrey." Madame Pomfrey waved her off, and Petunia headed for the Great Hall.
The next time Harry woke up, he had another visitor. His eyes were still bleary from the sleeping, but he would recognize the bright purple aura that screamed "Hermione!" anywhere. He was glad to wake up to a friend.
"Morning, Hermione!" He said, as brightly as he could. It was still a little weak sounding, but much better than he had managed earlier that day. It surprised him how he felt, so he concentrated on the feeling a little. He felt almost halfway recovered, and that was interesting. Normally it took him almost a week to bring his magic back to normal.
Hermione's aura rippled, and she whipped her head around, much like Harry's Aunt had earlier in the day. And just like his Aunt, the first word out of her mouth was "Harry!" Harry smirked quietly to himself. It was kind of funny that two very different people would have the same reaction. "I came to see you yesterday, but you were unconscious. I was worried about you, but Madame Pomfrey said you'd be ok." That was about as far as she got. She wanted to say more, Harry could see it in her face, but couldn't fight her impulse anymore. She threw herself at him, and hugged him in a bone-crushing embrace.
It was the oddest experience of Harry's life. Hermione was hugging him, but that wasn't too unusual. Mostly his Aunt had hugged him before, but this was a bit different. As Hermione started crying quietly, her aura started to ripple again. Suddenly, the aura shifted, and he could feel her purple aura surrounding him also. It wasn't just surrounding him, however. It was flowing through him, and he could feel it welling into his reserves. He could also feel Hermione's aura growing weaker, and separated himself from her a little. He didn't want her to give him all her energy, because even though he would be better, she'd be in the hospital. That wouldn't really solve anything, now would it?
Hermione apparently felt the pressure that Harry was putting on her shoulders, and decided that it was a long enough hug. She pulled back, and looked him over. "You look a lot better than you did yesterday, Harry." Her aura pulled back, and stopped rippling. ""You were so pale and clammy last time I saw you. I was so worried that Professor Snape did something to you.
The name 'Snape' had an interesting effect on Harry. He wasn't mad at the Professor exactly, but had an overwhelming desire for revenge. As his eye glazed over, he realized that the desire for revenge was not from inside him, it was from the castle around him. He sent a silent question to the massive entity, and got back a strong desire for revenge, and an idea for it. He sent back a laughing acceptance to the idea, and got a feeling of anticipation from the castle.
Hermione and Harry talked for a while, and Hermione brought him all of the assignments he'd missed that day. Hermione's little energy boost had given him the energy he needed to stay awake, so they worked on their homework until Harry was exhausted again. It was almost Hermione's bedtime anyway, so the two friends parted company. Hermione promised to visit the next day.
"Potter is in the Hospital wing." A high-pitched voice whispered. "Do you know how this happened, Quirrel?"
"No master, I do not." Professor Quirrel said, fearing for the punishment that would come with the lack of knowledge. "I know that there was some sort of accident in Potter's potions class, but Snape has refused to respond to my questions, and none of the students know what happened. I asked several of the Slytherin children, but they only gave me a vague description of the class."
"You disappoint me, Quirrel. Let us hope that this doesn't become a habit."
Professor Snape was angry with both himself, and Harry Potter. Mostly Potter. For the last three hours, he had been unsuccessfully trying to enter his potions classroom. There was a very large mess to clean up, and it would likely take all his time before the morning classes, without leaving any time for sleep. He was mad at himself that he'd been unprepared for the possibility of Harry's allergic reaction, and felt it was really his punishment that he had to clean the classroom. He was angry with Potter, because he just had to be responsible for what was happening right now.
Professor Snape gave up for the moment, and sat down next to the solid stone wall of the dungeon, before cursing and slamming his fist on the wall. The wall was supposed to be the door to his classroom. Like the first time he had met the boy, the castle had somehow retaliated for perceived crimes against Harry Potter.
Albus Dumbledore was sitting next to the bed when Harry woke next. His magic was doing something funny, and surrounding him with a green light. Unlike before, when Hermione had hugged him, Dumbledore's green aura was held back by an unseen force, which Harry assumed was his own magic.
Dumbledore was concentrating quite hard, and didn't realize when Harry woke up. Rather than the sheepish welcome that his Aunt and friend had received, Harry chose a different greeting. "Just what exactly are you trying to do, Professor Dumbledore?" The man's eyes flew open, and the aura lashed back as if slapped. The professor had to put a hand to his head and get his mind under control, and his flailing aura stopped lashing about.
"Harry…You startled me." Professor Dumbledore looked into himself, to find a half-truth, but nothing would come forward as a good excuse. Then he remembered that Harry's powers acted like a personal lie detector. "I was trying to speed your recovery, Harry. It is not uncommon, in cases like yours, for another wizard to give a small amount of their reserve energy to another wizard, to speed the recovery from magical exhaustion."
"Professor, you're going to have to do better than that." The professor was telling the truth, sure, but he was holding something back. It wasn't Harry's power telling him this; it was his Slytherin-like cleverness. "If you wanted to speed my recovery, you should have come in the morning, not the middle of the night. Then Madame Pomfrey could have helped you out with the transfer of energy. I heard her talking to my Aunt earlier today, when she came back after breakfast. She said that energy transfers are tricky, and should always be supervised."
The Headmaster hated it when he was caught in a situation like this. Normally, he was at least three steps ahead of everyone, and was prepared in advance. Harry, however, had a way of being two steps ahead of even the Great Albus Dumbledore. "What you say is true, Harry, and I was not being completely honest with you. Today, the castle seems to have locked Professor Snape out of his classroom, and he has been trying, unsuccessfully to find a way in for several hours. He says that this prank is your doing, and wanted me to force you to undo whatever it is that you've done."
"I didn't do anything, Professor." Harry said. "I've been in here all day, sleeping off my exhaustion." He couldn't help but grin at the castle's joke though.
"Perhaps you have, Harry, but I myself have noticed the special rapport you seem to share with the castle. The hole that Professor Snape fell into in my office, the creative redecorating of the Great Hall, and now the rearrangement of the walls in the dungeons. None of these things were possible before you came to Hogwarts, since the spells that created the castle were lost almost a thousand years ago." Harry was serious now, and paying attention, so Dumbledore continued. "You seem to share a bond with the castle that is even deeper than I have as Headmaster of the school. When you woke up, I was attempting to scan your power center, to try and understand the connection that you have to this place, and use it to convince the castle to allow Professor Snape back into his classroom. Classes tomorrow have already been canceled so that he can finish cleaning the room."
"What did you find out about my power center, Professor?" Harry was not happy at all with the Headmaster. His magic was sacred to him, and Professor Dumbledore had tried to invade his privacy.
"Nothing, Harry. I believe that your magic shielded you from being scanned. I would like to understand you better, but I won't try that again without your permission." Professor Dumbledore seemed to understand that Harry was upset. "I'm sorry, Harry."
"Sorry you tried, or sorry you got caught, Professor?" Harry asked coldly. He knew he was being rude, and his Aunt Petunia would scold him for it later, but the Headmaster had upset him greatly.
"Both, Harry." Professor Dumbledore said. "Sorry I got caught, because it lowered your opinion of me, and sorry that I tried, because it compromised my integrity to do so."
Harry softened. There was no lie there, and the Professor seemed to feel genuinely sorry that he'd done it. "I'll forgive you tomorrow, Professor. It's the middle of the night, and I'd like to get back to sleep."
"Of course, Harry." Professor Dumbledore stood, and walked towards the exit. "Good night, Magus Potter."
Before he slipped back into his dreams, Harry sent a message to the castle that enough was enough, and the castle sent back a happy response, indicating that it had had its fun with Snape.
It was the next day sooner than Harry was prepared for, and he was released from the Hospital wing after a very thorough examination from Madame Pomfrey, who couldn't understand how he had recovered so astonishingly fast from almost complete magical burnout. Harry suspected that Hermione had something to do with it, but just shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.
Harry and Petunia stayed together for most of the morning, Harry being excused from his lessons for the day, and Petunia finally got her guided tour of the grounds. She had purposely stayed inside the castle for the entire day after she arrived, wanting to allow her nephew to give her the tour he was so excited about.
The pair of them finally sat down at the Draconus table in the Great hall, so that they could have their conversation. Harry wasn't really ready for it, even though he'd had more than a month to prepare. He was glad that everyone was in class right then, because he couldn't have had the conversation in front of a crowd of people.
"Aunt Petunia," Harry started, "do you know exactly why I needed you to come up to Hogwarts?"
Harry's Aunt, however, was more than ready for this conversation. It had been killing her, not knowing why she was needed at Hogwarts as soon as arrangements could be made. "No, Harry. Albus just told me that you had uncovered something very important, and my presence was needed as soon as he could make the necessary arrangements."
"I found something important, alright." Harry remarked, a touch sarcastically. "I found Peter Pettigrew."
That didn't make sense to Petunia, and she said so. "What do you mean, you found him?" She asked. "He's been dead for ten years, Harry."
"No, Aunt Petunia. I found him, hiding out in the pocket of a Gryffindor boy, named Ron Weasley." Harry said, trying to make her understand. "He was an animagus, a shape shifter, Aunt Petunia. He turned himself into a rat, and hid himself away."
"But why?" His Aunt said. "Once Sirius was arrested, he would have no reason to hide anymore. Unless…" A look of pure shock crossed over Petunia's face as she attempted to think about what that could mean. It was too horrible, and she couldn't make her mind process the new information. "Harry?"
"It was him, Aunt Petunia." Tears formed in Harry's eyes. "He was the one who gave my parents up. It was him who killed them." Harry buried his head in Petunia's shoulder and started to cry.
Petunia was too shocked to properly comfort Harry. The new information was spinning in her mind, and quickly making its way to a handsome, dark haired man, wasting away in Azkaban prison. She could barely find the voice to whisper his name. "Sirius…"
"He didn't kill anyone, Aunt Petunia." Harry's tear-weighted voice broke through her thoughts. "Peter Pettigrew used a spell to blow up the street, and killed twelve muggles in the process. He made the whole thing up, to frame Sirius for his murder, so he could hide."
Petunia was too shocked to process the information. Sirius Black, the man she had loved since the summer before Lily's seventh year at Hogwarts, the man who had betrayed her family to Voldemort, the man who had caused her to turn her back on the wizarding world, was not the man she had believed him to be. She felt the tears begin, and knew that they weren't going away anytime soon. Harry squeezed her tighter, and she squeezed back, both comforting, and being comforted by, her nephew.