Than to Never Have Loved at All
When Harry entered his father's quarters he found a very ominous sight awaiting him–Severus sitting on the sofa with his feet propped up on the table, carelessly reading The Daily Prophet. It was quite a shock to Harry's system, seeing his father in such a drastic change from his cold, angry, and tense exterior that he presented as the Hogwarts Potion Master.
As Harry was silently trying to overcome his shock (and Severus, who was well aware of Harry's presence, was trying to hide his amusement at the irony of the situations), Draco entered the rooms, confirming Harry's suspicions about who had been following him.
Draco looked back and forth from Harry to Severus, trying to figure out why Potter looked so shocked. Then he grinned, Harry just wasn't used to seeing Severus in a casual capacity. But before he could make fun of Potter, or say anything, Severus put down the paper and spoke.
"Harry, Draco, we will be having another house guest for a while...." Severus began, but was cut off by Akasha's voice from the doorway to her rooms.
"Really Severus, don't you think this is something we should all discuss together?" she demanded, her curly, black hair, wet and dripping as she fought the tangles with a jeweled hair brush. Severus sneered.
"I was simply alerting them to your presence so they wouldn't be startled."
"Why do you have to be so conniving?" Akasha demanded, giving up on her hair and charming it unknotted.
"Why do you have to be so critical?" Severus shot back.
The two boys watched the verbal sparring match between the siblings. At the look of horror that crossed Harry's face it seemed it had dawned on him, exactly who their house guest would be. When Draco realized it, an evil grin lit his face.
The two siblings glared at each other and then turned to look at the two boys, noting the looks on their faces.
"Well I see you have figured out that Akasha will be our house guest."
Harry's mouth opened, and then closed, then opened again.
"Well boy," Akasha snapped. "Do you have something to say? Just say it."
Harry's mouth snapped closed as he winced slightly. Severus shot a withering look at his sister, which she chose to ignore.
"Hey Akasha," Draco said cheerfully, "why are you staying with us?"
Akasha sneered, "That fool of a headmaster..."
"Akasha," Severus interrupted warningly.
"Well he is Severus. Very well, the smarmy, old, senile bastard of a man who runs this school, and don't give me that look Severus, decided that it was in all of our best interests to be in close quarters with each other for the sake of the apprenticeships."
"So what this really is," Harry said, surprising everyone, "is that the headmaster is once again trying to coordinate and control my life."
Severus and Akasha shared a glance but said nothing. Draco on the other hand said, "Life isn't just about you, you know."
Harry closed his eyes tiredly, "No, but the lives of wizard everywhere depend on me."
"Come on Malfoy, Snape, this is pitiful. Pick up the pace, lets go," Akasha shouted at the two apprentices in their morning workout session the next day. She was currently lapping them for the second time, and judging by her tone of voice, this was not something she was not pleased about.
After about an hour of pure physical torment as they ran around the quidditch pitch for what seemed (and probably was) the fiftieth time that morning, the met Akasha in the center where she began to teach them moves which reminded Harry distinctly of muggle Karate.
"This is pathetic Mr. Snape," Akasha said as she knocked him to his feet for the fifth time in twenty minutes. "You and Mr. Malfoy will report to the Pitch an hour earlier tomorrow morning for extra practice."
After she released them, Harry and Draco hurried to their NEWT Potions class. Harry settled down next to Hermione and Ron who shot him their usual worrying looks just as Snape walked in.
"Directions are on the board, get to work. Mr. Potter, you will make the Veritaserum again as you seem to have had trouble with that last time."
Harry scowled, as his father knew perfectly well why he hadn't been able to make the potion, but he got to work, immersing himself in, as was quoted by Snape "the subtle magic and complex art that is potion making". Much different from last time, Harry's potion turned the expected clear color and, after inspecting it carefully, Severus agreed that it was perfect.
After a silent lunch at the Head Table, Akasha led Harry back outside and they sat down near the lake.
"You will find, Mr. Snape, that I am not very interested in teaching with books or reports, but more from example. Don't get me wrong, you will read the books about the subjects we discuss and you will write reports, but you will not do it in my presence."
Harry just grunted, Akasha ignored him.
"I am going to teach you wandless magic and wingless flight, both of which will come in very handy in a battle, should you lose your wand or should you need to dodge spells coming at you from every direction. I will also teach you advanced defense spells and transfiguration, as well as teaching you complex potions that Severus would never discuss in his classes. Is there anything in particular that you would like to learn?"
Harry considered, thoughtful for the moment. It seemed that he wouldn't be able to get out of the Apprenticeship as easily as he had thought he would, his father's signature attested to that, and if he was stuck in this situation, he may as well take advantage of it.
"I would like to become an Animagus."
Akasha nodded, as though she had expected it. "Very well, but I must warn you that becoming an Animagus can be very difficult, it takes most wizards years to master their animagus transformation, and you may find that your animagus form is less desirable than you would like."
Harry nodded. "I want to be an Animagus, it's important to me."
"Very well," Akasha said. "I see no reason to waste time in beginning. Not with the Animagus transformation, I will have to research how to teach that to you. I want to teach you about wingless flight."
She launched into a mode that distinctly resembled her brother's lecture mode. "Wingless flight, or more often called levitation, can be extremely useful in duals and other battles. However, it does require a lot of energy and strains your magic when one is as young as you are. It will grow easier with time, but in the beginning it can be very aggravating and tiring. I must warn you, not all wizards are capable of wingless flight, and only those with intense amounts of magical reservoirs can use it effectively. So then lets begin."
She stood up and Harry followed suit.
"The first thing you need to do is immerse yourself in a state of meditation. You do this by imagining yourself in a very relaxing place and clear your mind."
Harry closed his eyes and imagined himself in Sirius' house surrounded by his friends and Sirius. Immediately he opened his eyes, his heart racing, remembering Sirius. Akasha scowled at him. "I do not believe that particular place is appropriate Mr. Snape, perhaps you should try another."
Harry nodded and imagined himself in Gryffindor Tower, Hermione and Ron beside him and Ginny playing with Crookshanks by the fire. He felt his face heat up when he thought about Ginny, and he opened his eyes, embarrassed. Those were feelings he had definitely not expected.
Akasha groaned. "I suggest you think of a time when you've felt completely safe, and probably all by yourself. When you imagine yourself with other people, emotions often tend to get in the way."
Harry nodded and imagined himself safe. Immediately he was in his cupboard at the Dursleys. It was dark, but the darkness was like a warm embrace. If he couldn't see, no one could see him. The door was locked, but Harry imagined that it was locked to keep the Dursley's out instead of keeping him in. He was safe.
Then he felt someone shaking his shoulder and found Akasha looking at him, approval in her eyes. He groaned and Akasha looked confused. "Congratulations Mr. Snape, you have found the place you need for meditation."
He just shook up and turned away from her. "How messed up can one person be?" he whispered sadly to himself.
Draco shifted comfortably in his seat across from Snape in his master's office.
"I believe, Draco, that your talents lie mostly in Transfiguration, is this correct?" Draco nodded. "Very well, so we will concentrate on that area of your magic, and I will also teach you more in-depth potions. I will teach you a certain amount of wandless magic, and Legilimacy and Occlumency, they are skills that can come in handy."
Draco nodded, happy, but rather overwhelmed.
"Very well Mr. Malfoy, I expect two feet of parchment by tomorrow on the process one goes through to use Legilimacy. You are dismissed."
Draco groaned, more work.
Well, it seems like Harry and Draco are moving into a routine. Don't worry, there will be more Harry angst next chapter, when Draco discovers himself in the bathroom......