A/N: This has absolutely nothing to do with the Let the Darkness Take You trilogy. Thanks to Blood Dragon for the beta job. Please see author notes at the end.
WARNINGS : This fic is rated R for a reason. There will be male/male relationships, as well as male/male sex. There will be a decent amount of violence, and mentions of beheadings in this prologue. It is also post-OotP, so do not read if you don't want to be spoiled. Seamus/Harry/Draco triangle
On a cursory glance, the school's occupants seemed as they always did. But if one were to take a closer look at each table, they would find unsavoury circumstances. To the far left of the Hall at the Slytherin table, there was a noticeable gap of students in the middle. On one side sat Draco Malfoy and his cronies, along with a few others who wished to get along with him. Every once in a while, this side of the table would send malevolent stares down the table to where a boy named Blaise Zabini sat with his select friends, and those who did not care either way what was going on in their house.
Next to the Slytherin table sat the Hufflepuffs. Nothing here seemed amiss, except for the dark looks sent towards the Ravenclaw table. The Ravenclaws were returning the glare with fervour.
Over to the far right was the Gryffindor table, who were either blissfully ignorant of the entire situation or were taking a note out of the dark haired, green eyed boy's book, and ignoring the feuding school. This particular boy was sitting halfway down the Gryffindor table, picking at his food, pointedly ignoring the boy and girl beside him as they bickered. However, they did not like to take a hint.
"Harry," said the red haired boy, "tell Hermione that she's absolutely nutters. Tell her I'm right."
Hermione made to protest but Harry held a hand up to silence them. "I can't tell her you're right, Ron, because I wasn't listening to be quite honest. But I will say that you're both nutters… over each other. Now stop arguing for the sake of everybody's sanity and snog."
Ron promptly turned red all over while Hermione's cheeks flushed pink. "Oh, honestly, Harry," Hermione admonished. She tried to say something more, but appeared at a loss.
"I was only joking," Harry smiled, "but if it gets you hot under the collar, maybe I'm not so far off the mark, huh?"
This effectively quieted both Ron and Hermione, who lowered their heads in order to fight off the vibrant blush that graced both of their faces. Harry allowed himself a small smile, before returning to his thoughts, which in turn, allowed him to resume picking at his food morosely.
The sixth year had rolled in with a bang, Harry thought. Voldemort had been active all summer, attacking Muggles, Muggle-borns, and anybody else who were known to be working against the cause. The Dark Lord was making sure that the wizarding world knew, and did not forget that he was indeed resurrected. On September first, the Hogwarts Express pulled into the station on time as usual, and let the students disembark. Most students were not excited to be back as it meant being away from their families. In the coming dark times, no one could be sure when or even if they would see their loved ones again.
So, it was with heavy hearts that the students stepped off of the train and onto the platform. It was when the platform was packed with students that the Death Eaters had arrived. Chaos erupted everywhere; spells, hexes, and curses were tossed from all over. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were just leaving the train with Ginny when it all began. Though they all tried to help, it did not help those students who were unfortunate to be hit by the Unforgivables. Some were placed under Imperius and ordered to kill their classmates. Harry watched in horror as Seamus Finnigan killed his best friend, Dean Thomas with a simple severing charm. Hermione had thrown up onto the tracks when she had stumbled over Dean's head, separated from his body.
Harry looked over to Seamus now, who had only returned to school two weeks ago. The Irish boy had been detained at the Ministry until it was determined that he had indeed been under the curse. Seamus had been despondent, and had not made any sort of effort to socialize, even when others tried to include him. Harry did not blame him. Just the thought of killing Ron while under a curse was enough to make him ill. Who would want to do anything after something like that?
Seamus looked up from his full plate of food and made eye contact with Harry. They both stared at each other emotionlessly. After a few moments, Seamus nodded slightly and turned back to his plate of food. Harry did the same.
Aurors and members of the Order of the Phoenix had arrived five minutes after the attack began. The count was ten students dead, and thirty injured, all ranging from minor to serious.
After that day, things began to deteriorate inside of the school. Harry watched numbly as Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw began to fight. It was a mystery as to why they fought with each other to anybody outside of those houses. Slytherin house split into two groups, and they were now in the middle of a cold war for reasons that were also entirely their own.
Gryffindor house had separated in a sense as well. The students in Gryffindor split into small groups of twos and threes, becoming suspicious of anybody who looked off, though they still managed to stay more united than anybody else. The students who had been cast off from their social groups were inclined to start hanging out with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The trio had gained an unprecedented amount of friends since school started.
Harry, for the most part, did not know what to think of this. He liked to have his alone time, especially after the past summer. The first part of the summer had been spent at the Dursleys as usual, but a week before Harry's birthday, Uncle Vernon announced to his family that they now had a summer home in Majorca and would be spending the rest of the summer there. Of course, this meant that Harry needed a place to stay. Professor Dumbledore stepped in and brought Harry to the headquarters of the Order – Grimmauld Place.
Kreacher apparently had left for Malfoy Manor, but would return at night to speak with Mrs. Black. This caused many problems as the elf was still set against the intruders in his mistress's house. Harry did not know how, but Dumbledore had convinced Kreacher to stay at the Manor House permanently. In case Kreacher came back to spy on them, they had placed charms to alert them of his presence.
So, Harry had stayed in Grimmauld Place with Remus Lupin, and more often than not, the Weasley family… though the summer was not something that Harry cared to think about. It had been painful, with the loss of Sirius still fresh in everybody's minds, then with the added death that Voldemort caused - it was truly too much to think about.
The house had changed Harry that summer, or maybe it was just the circumstances. Harry was neither dumb nor deaf…. He could hear the whispers of students as he passed. He could hear what they were saying about him. 'Have you noticed Harry Potter lately? He's so dark and brooding.' 'Yes, but it's so attractive on him.' This would be followed by giggles. It was mostly the girls who spoke of him, but Harry heard a few boys once in a while, whispering loudly that he should get over his hero complex, and live his life.
Harry remembered bitterly that it was Draco Malfoy who had started this topic of conversation.
But Draco Malfoy was not somebody Harry wanted to think about.
Harry looked up from his uneaten food as Seamus stood from his place and walked out of the hall. The dark haired boy watched the other boy's every move, wondering if there would ever be a return to normalcy in Hogwarts. Ron bit into a candied apple and pointed it towards Seamus as he slipped through the doors.
"He'll come around sometime," Ron said around a mouthful of food. "We just have to give him time. I can't imagine that what happened could be very pleasant to think about for him."
Hermione turned pale. "Please, Ron," she begged, "don't talk about that right now. I don't fancy running to the bathroom." Her voice shook and she hurriedly took a drink of her pumpkin juice. Harry watched her put the goblet back down, noting that the liquid had not been drunk at all. Hermione's hand shook and the juice just about spilled from the cup. Ron placed a comforting hand over hers and rubbed small circles with his thumb.
"I'm sorry, Hermione."
Harry looked on as Hermione sent a trembling smile towards Ron. Harry was sorry too, but he would never say so to Hermione. Hermione tried her best to put on a brave face, but it did not change the fact that she tripped over Dean, or had Parvati's blood spattered over her when Parvati committed suicide in the dorms, one day after term started.
Padma Patil had been the last student to be killed before the Aurors arrived. Harry did not see what happened, but he had heard from numerous sources, that Parvati had befallen the same fate as Seamus, same severing charm and all. Parvati had disappeared after the curse was lifted, and was not found until the next day in her dorm by Hermione and Lavender. They arrived just in time to see Parvati kill herself.
Harry remembered the gasps of shock from uninjured students when they had finally been shepherded to the carriages so that they could be taken to Hogwarts. Hermione had clutched at Harry's sleeve and burst into tears. "Thes… thestrals!" she wailed. "Oh… no…" She buried her face in Harry's robes, and Harry hugged her, unable to do anything else. "If it means this, then I don't want to see them!" she sobbed. Harry looked to Ron and found him staring at the thestrals. His eyes were filled with unshed tears.
"Me neither," Ron whispered still staring ahead.
Harry snapped out of his daze and looked at Hermione, even though his line of sight had already been on her. He blushed when he realised that he had been staring. "Huh? What?"
"Are you all right?" Ron asked.
"What? Oh… oh, yes, of course I'm all right. I'm just tired, is all."
"Well, Ron and I suggested that we go back to the Common room."
"That would be great," Harry replied already standing up.
The trio left with a few of their new friends following closely behind them. As they passed through the doors, Malfoy swept past them, Crabbe and Goyle flanking him as usual, all of them shooting Harry venomous looks, along with one infuriating smirk. Harry looked away and continued in his path, refusing to take the bait.
When Harry and his small group entered the Common room, they took seats in front of the fireplace. Harry made sure to sit in a place where he could watch Seamus, who was sitting by the window, stubbornly doing his homework. The dark haired boy summoned his chess set with Seamus in mind and set the game up. Ron brightened and went to sit on the other side.
"Actually, Ron… do you mind if I try to get Seamus to play? We need him to open up a little more."
"Not at all," Ron smiled, though it was strained. "Don't make him feel pitied, Harry. Nobody likes to be pitied."
"You're telling me?" Harry sighed, and then stood to approach the Irish boy. "Hey, Seamus?" he called softly. Seamus jerked wildly as if shocked and looked up. He did not say anything. Harry swallowed. "Er – well, I was wondering if you'd like to play a game of chess with me."
Seamus blinked. "Chess?" he questioned tonelessly.
"Yes, if you're interested that is."
"If I'm interested," Seamus echoed vacantly.
Harry did not answer as he felt like he would be repeating himself, so he looked back at Seamus expectantly. The sandy haired boy studied Harry as if looking for something and then nodded almost imperceptibly. Harry broke out into a small, but forced smile. "Great. I was setting up the board over there. Do you want to move there?"
They spent the next few hours playing two games of chess, both of which Seamus won, though it seemed as though he did not take any pleasure in doing so. Harry did not notice either way. He was busy studying Seamus whenever the Irish boy was considering his next move. The two young Gryffindors had never been too close, so Harry had never really looked at Seamus like he was now. He had never noticed the light sprinkling of freckles across his nose and cheeks, just under his eyes. Never had Harry noticed the way Seamus's left eyebrow would go down and the right would stay in its rightful spot while he was in thought. Harry had spent a good three turns studying this particular detail, wondering if anybody else he knew could do that without twitching the other eyebrow. At one point, Seamus had looked up to find Harry trying to do it himself, and could not help laughing. The noise startled the Irish boy into silence again, but it was enough to make those around them smile.
As Harry finished putting the chessboard away, Seamus stood, bid him a whispered goodnight and hurried to the dorm. Harry threw the chessboard on Ron and ran after him. He grabbed Seamus's arm arresting his progress. "Seamus…"
The light was dim in the stairwell, and Harry could not tell his expression in the near darkness. He only lowered his eyebrow in question. Harry stared for a moment, still perplexed that he could do that. "I, well… a few people have been showing interest in the DA again, not very many mind, but… well, I was wondering if you would like to rejoin? We have only enough people to begin meetings again, and we would like some more."
Seamus's arm tensed under Harry's hand. "Why?" he asked angrily. The tone of his voice thoroughly shocked Harry as he had not heard Seamus raise his voice above a whisper in such a long time. "So I can show you the proper use of a severing charm?" Seamus wrenched his arm from Harry and stormed up the stairs. Harry let him go, too shocked to do anything but stand there.
"What happened?" asked Hermione, racing up the stairs with Ron behind her.
"I don't know," Harry said quietly. "I just asked him if he wanted to join the DA again. He took offence."
"It might have been a little insensitive of you, Harry," Hermione said quietly.
"What?" Harry asked indignantly. "Excuse me for trying to get him to socialize. I just –"
"I know, Harry," Hermione soothed. "I was just trying to say that maybe you should have tried to get him to socialize a different way. I can't imagine that defence would be desirable…" Hermione swallowed.
"Fine," Harry relented. "I'll go apologise to him now then."
"Maybe you should wait until tomorrow," suggested Ron. "I mean, we all heard him yelling. He sounded upset. He probably wants some time to himself."
"Okay, then, I'm just going to go bed…. Don't worry; I'll wait outside the door for a few minutes."
Harry turned and began walking up the stairs, feeling his friends' eyes on his back until he disappeared. When he reached the sixth year boys' dorm room, Seamus was standing in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, looking very surly.
"Oh! Seamus - "
"Don't apologise, Harry," he interrupted brusquely. "I just wanted to tell you not to wait outside the door on my account. Go to bed if you like. It's not like you'll be bothering me any… will you." It was more of a statement than a question, and Harry swallowed nervously.
"Of course not, Seamus."
Seamus studied him in his increasingly disturbing way and then turned and walked to his trunk, pulled out pyjamas and began dressing. Harry stood dumbly in the doorway for a few moments before coming to his senses and closing the door behind him. By the time Harry was done changing, Seamus had already roughly closed his hangings around his bed.
Harry lay in bed thinking for a long while that night, listening as Ron and Neville entered the dorm talking quietly, listening as gentle snores filled the otherwise silent dorm room. At half past one that morning, Harry wondered if Seamus was asleep, or if he was lying awake, wondering the same thing about Harry. He fell asleep that night with thoughts of Seamus laughing and smiling again.
As Hogwarts slept, it considered Dumbledore's words to his staff earlier that evening, and searched within its mind for the brightest, the bravest, and the strongest, whether they were willing or not, did not matter. The Founders were calling.
A/N: I am posting this as a trial run. I want to see if anybody likes this fic. I will still post no matter what, but I still have work to do on chapter 1. I just want to get reactions from readers. So, please review! It will be much appreciated. And yes, the next chapters will be longer.