A/N: THANK you so much to all of you for your continuous reviews and prodding to start the sequel. It will be quite the wild ride for both Harry and Draco and subsequently Snape. I must say, however, that my updates will slow down considerably - likely to once a month - because it's spring and I LOVE being outdoors, so I have a hard time being inside during the spring and summer months.
One little explanation to Draco lovers, you might be a bit angry at me for his actions, but please keep in mind that the boy has spent his whole life with death eaters as his role models. He has been taught hatred, bigotry, superiority and arrogance. It will take him a while to conquer those internal demons. He is, of course, showing progress, but his 'default' is still to lash out and to be nasty.
As for our dear Harry, what happens in this first chapter is the beginning of a frightening new power that will lead to a lot of heartache for him and those who love and care for him. BUT in the long run it will make him stronger for the battles he must safe.
Special thanks and lots of gratitude to my wonderful beta: staporize
Disclaimer: It's not mine, it all belongs to the extremely talented JKR
Chapter One - Painful Words
The month of February came on with lots of rain and windstorms. Although it was relatively mild during the days, it was very damp later on, and the dampness crept into one's bones. The nights were chilling and the students of Hogwarts huddled in their common rooms around the fireplaces.
All the professors seemed to be handing out extra homework, and many nights were spent studying. On occasion, Hermione dragged Draco, Harry, and Ron into the Room of Requirement to study. Some days they all got along well, but on other occasions the years of animosity crept up between them all. The rivalry between Harry and Draco during Quidditch matches was still strong, although Gryffindor hadn't played Slytherin yet. Harry and Draco had both been successful for their respective teams in catching the snitch in games against Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, which resulted in Slytherin and Gryffindor being tied for first place and increased the animosity and rivalry between the two houses.
Professor Sprout had to leave at the end of January for health reasons, but she was expected to recover and return for the fall term. Much to Ron and Ginny's horror, Molly Weasley temporarily took over as the head of house for Hufflepuff as well as Professor of Herbology. When Ron once disrupted the combined Gryffindor/Slytherin class, Professor Weasley yelled at him in front of everyone, giving him detention and completely embarrassing him. Draco couldn't resist verbalizing the nasty comment that sprang to mind, immediately earning himself a detention also. He kept his mouth shut after that, resorting instead to malevolent glares. Sharing detention and having to spend hours repotting humungous Delinim prickly cacti from which a variety of complex potions could be brewed didn't add anything to the relationship between the two. Draco accidentally bumped the plant into Ron's arm, covering it in sharp prickles. Ron was convinced he had done it on purpose, and when the shouting match developed, Mrs. Weasley slammed a ruler down hard on the desk, making both almost jump out of their skins.
She waved it in the air in a threatening manner. "I warned you both to be quiet or you will be sorry!" she shrieked loudly.
They quieted down and eyed her warily after that. Draco whispered to Ron, "She wouldn't actually use that on us, would she?"
"If she got mad enough she might, but luckily it's not allowed." Then he slyly turned his head and, grinning so Draco wouldn't realize he was only kidding, added, "But since she's only a temp and doing Dumbledore a favour, she might not care about the repercussions."
Draco snorted. "She'd have to answer to Snape in my case."
Ron laughed softly as they worked. "Do you really think my mum would be intimidated by Snape? She'd yell at him and convince him that you earned it."
Draco paled slightly, his brow furrowing with worry. Much to Ron's amusement, Draco was the exemplary student in Herbology from then on.
"Concentrate!" Lupin said in a tone louder than he normally used. He was becoming increasingly frustrated with the four teenagers standing in front of him. So frustrated, in fact, that he was ready to hand each one of them a week-long detention with Filch. Ron and Hermione kept bickering like an old married couple, but only when Ron wasn't busy hurling insults at Draco, who had started the tension by insulting Ron's jumper. Harry had defended Ron, infuriating Draco, who in turn lashed back. If they were younger, Lupin would have made each stand in a corner for a time out – in fact, the thought was tempting even now.
He had spent the last month giving them private lessons in the more advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts along with Snape, Tonks, and McGonagall, each one contributing his/her own special talents. He was presently working on strengthening their Patronus skills. Hermione and Harry were at the front of the class, although Harry was struggling harder than usual. Ron was able to conjure up a weak charging bull, but it dissipated too rapidly to be effective. Draco was having the most trouble. Although he was usually skilled in the Defense Against the Dark Arts, he apparently had few truly happy moments to draw on to conjure up a Patronus, leaving him frustrated and embarrassed. Adding to his humiliation was the boggart, which kept turning into his father brandishing his cane, causing Draco to involuntarily whimper and shrink back. Hermione's heart went out to him, but she knew if she tried to reach out to him he'd react with hostility. Draco's struggle also drew pity from the other three, which added to his already defensive mood. Lupin decided to offer him private lessons after the class ended so he wouldn't feel so ashamed in front of the others. Before he had a chance to do so, Harry spoke up.
"Look Malfoy, err, Draco, why don't you focus on last Christmas when Snape got custody of you?"
Draco bristled at Harry's attempt to help. He had tried focusing on that moment, but his feelings at the time were intermingled with feelings of despair that his mother had surrendered him so quickly after his father had almost beaten him to death. He threw Potter a piercing glare.
Harry was puzzled by Draco's reaction. He had felt so bad for him as the Lucius boggart grew more and more threatening each time it emerged, causing Draco to shake uncontrollably. The look of utter fear and heartbreak on Draco's face made a mound of sympathy well up in him. "If not that, then how about when you found out that Snape wasn't going to die? You were happy then."
"Just shut up, Potter! I can do this by myself! I don't need some wonder boy coaching me along or offering his pity!"
Harry's anger spiked at Draco's unreasonable resentment. "Fine, Malfoy," he spat. "If you're too immature to accept help when offered, then it's time to start taking responsibility for yourself and focus on something that makes you happy!"
"I always take responsibility for myself! I think things through. At least I haven't been responsible for getting someone I cared about killed," he drawled viciously. A stab of pain vibrated through Harry's heart.
"Sod off, Malfoy!" he replied angrily, his green eyes blazing.
Suddenly, a horrendous pain shot through his head. He sank to his knees, his hand over his scar. He couldn't prevent the painful grown that escaped his lips. The pain was overwhelming, as if any second now his head would burst open. His stomach heaved and, with a whimper, he threw up. He could faintly hear voices calling his name, but he was too incoherent with agony to respond. Draco, having turned quite ashen, knelt down beside him when he collapsed. A strange feeling gnawed at him, and he realized he actually felt guilty for what he had said.
"Get away from him, Malfoy," Ron snarled.
Draco was looking up at him angrily when Ron's fist shot out, connecting with Draco's nose. He heard a crack and blood came gushing out. The smell of blood caused Harry to double over retching again.
Lupin sank down beside Harry. "Ron, you will face detention for that. Now go get Professor Snape. Hermione, please help Draco. Draco, I hope you realize now that nasty words have consequences. You can expect a detention also." Lupin had an arm around Harry and gently tried to lift him to his feet.
"Come on, Harry. We need to get you to the hospital wing. Hermione, please use the towel over there to apply some pressure to Draco's nose so it will stop bleeding. When it has stopped, bring him to the hospital wing." Lupin kept trying to get Harry on his feet, but the boy's breathing was shallow and his hand tightly gripped his scar. "It's okay, Harry, you'll feel better soon," he promised quietly as he rubbed his back. Harry was white as a sheet and it was obvious he was in a great deal of pain. He resisted Lupin's efforts to stand him up and instead curled into a ball, hoping he would pass out.
Snape rushed in. "What happened?"
Draco looked down, flinching, the towel still over his nose. Hermione reapplied the pressure and once again his head was forced up.
"I'm not sure. Draco said some very cruel things and Harry replied, but then he collapsed. It's been a few moments, but the pain has yet to ease."
Snape threw a quick angry glance at Draco, who swallowed and looked very guilty.
Snape then ignored him as he focused his attention on Harry. He tried to get Harry to open his eyes, but only received a whimper in return. The boy was white, his skin covered in a fine sheen of cold sweat.
Snape reached down, putting one arm under his shoulders and the other under his knees, picked him up, and headed for the hospital wing. Lupin followed right behind.
Hermione reluctantly helped Draco to his feet. She was furious at him for having said what he had to Harry. Ron glared at him. "You better stay away from him!"
Draco bristled at the threatening words. "Or what? You'll give me a black eye, maybe two? You caught me off guard, Weasley. Trust me, it won't happen again!"
"Draco, don't you know when to shut up?" Hermione asked him angrily.
Draco glared at her and would have retorted with something mean, but his nose hurt so much that he had to breathe through his mouth, so he clammed up.
None of them spoke. Draco realized how worried they were about Potter. He felt bad for having said what he did, but sometimes he felt so angry and frustrated because Potter always came out ahead. As soon as they got into the hospital wing, Hermione dropped him off on and empty bed and made a beeline, along with Ron, over to Potter. Madam Pomfrey however, hustled them out.
She stopped briefly, lifting Draco's chin and expertly examined his nose, which resulted in a groan from him. "You'll live. You can wait while I take care of Potter." She immediately turned to do just that.
He got up and walked over to Potter, who was surrounded by Lupin, Snape and Pomfrey. Snape looked up briefly. "Get back to your bed," he ordered.
Draco glared at him resentfully, his eyes wandering down to the black-haired figure on the bed.
"Do I have to repeat myself? Or do you require an escort?" Snape asked in a dangerous, irritated voice. Draco glanced briefly into the dark, narrowed eyes and looked down, shaking his head. He knew that Snape was furious with him, but he hadn't meant to hurt Potter! Surely Snape knew that?
His nose had stopped bleeding, but it still hurt. Stupid Weasley! He crept under the blankets and lay down, propped up against the pillows. After a while, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He opened his yes to find Snape in front of him holding a vial of Skeletheal. "Drink."
Draco took it, but before swallowing spoke: "I didn't mean to hurt Harry."
Snape sighed. "Nevertheless you did. You need to work on controlling your words."
"Is he going to be okay?"
"I believe so. Although we know that your words triggered his pain, we still do not know why this happened. "
Curled up on the hospital bed, Harry finally stared to feel a little better, the pressure in his head easing up a bit. Despite his weak protests, Snape had forcibly removed his hands from his scar and had applied something cool. He realized now that the hand on the back of his neck most likely belonged to Lupin. Pomfrey had been the one forcing him to swallow potions.
"Harry can you stretch out a bit?" Lupin asked gently. With a shaky breath, being careful not to jar his head, Harry slowly stretched out his legs and straightened his body.
"What's happened to Potter?" came McGonagall's voice from the door as she hurried to his side.
"We're not entirely sure. Draco had riled him up and next thing we knew he was on the floor in agony, apparently from his scar."
"Potter, as soon as you feel up to it, you need to tell us exactly what happened," came Snape's deep voice.
He whispered, "Okay." He didn't want to think about what had happened. He just wanted to sink into darkness so that the pain would go away. He was so tired.
Pomfrey handed Minerva a vial and nodded her head in Draco's direction. She took it over to him. "What happened to your face?" she asked, shocked to see the blood.
"Weasley broke my nose," he answered quietly.
"I see," was her only response. She transfigured something on the nightstand into a bowl of warm water. "Let's clean you up a bit, then."
She grabbed a washcloth, dipped it into the water, and gently wiped off all the blood. She also gave the vial to drink that would, over the next few hours, repair his nose.
He looked at her with worried eyes. "I didn't mean for something like this to happen."
"I'm glad to hear that, and you can tell Mr. Potter yourself when he's feeling a bit better, but now you need to get some rest and let the potion do its job."
"Can I go back to my room?" he pleaded with her. Knowing how much hated being the hospital wing, she nodded. When everyone's attention was on back Potter, he left.
A few hours later, Harry woke up and he reached over to the nightstand and put on his glasses. All the pain he had felt before rushed back in an onslaught of memory. He squeezed his eyes shut.
He opened his eyes again to find Lupin beside him now. "Are you feeling a bit better?' He nodded, causing Lupin to prompt, "What happened before?"
"I don't know," Harry whispered. "All I know is that I was very angry with Malfoy, but before I could say anything this blinding pain erupted in my head and my eyes."
Lupin patted Harry's shoulder. "Is the pain gone now?'
"Yeah, but it felt like the Cruciatus Curse."
Lupin's brow wrinkled at that. "Have you had any bad dreams lately?"
Harry shook his head slowly, worried that the pain would return with any rapid movements.
Lupin softly cleared his throat. "Could this have something to do with …with Sirius' death? Some after effect?"
"No, I don't think so," Harry replied. Sometimes he still felt so horrible when he thought about Sirius' death that he could hardly stand it, but he never had pain in his scar when it happened.
"Are you hungry?" Lupin asked.
He wearily shook his head. Lupin briefly touched the top of Harry's head. "Get some rest then. I'll check back with you in the morning."
Harry slept until well into the night. When he awoke again, he found Mrs. Weasley by his bedside.
"Harry dear, I was so worried about you when Ron told me what had happened. How are you feeling?" She restlessly stroked the hair on his forehead, fussing over him.
Harry smiled softly. "A bit better, thanks," he answered quietly.
"Do you have any idea why you were in so much pain?"
"No. Maybe Voldemort has found a new way to mess with my head. Or maybe I'm just cursed."
"Shhh Harry. Whatever it is, you know we'll help you through it." She reached down to hug him and he wrapped one arm around her neck and, for a moment, rested his head against her shoulder. When he lay back down again, she softly patted his cheek and placed a kiss on his forehead. "It's very late, dear. Try and get some more sleep. I'll just sit here with you for a bit until you fall asleep again."
He sighed softly, feeling slightly embarrassed, yet unexpectedly warm and safe. He turned on his side towards her and closed his eyes.