Title: Harry Potter and the Summer's Secret

Author: Japhu

Beta Reader: antipyro

Pairing: HPSS

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Harry Potter and his world and don't make any money with it.

Summary: For one week in summer Harry disappears without trace. When he comes back he claims to have no memory. But something happened and it changed him. It remains to be seen if for the better or the worse. (will be HPSS)

Category: action/adventure/angst

Feedback: highly appreciated


Chapter 40 – Tuesday Lessons

Harry spent the rest of the night reading through the books he had brought from the library. He realized just what a mass of work he had loaded upon his shoulders. Unfortunately he could not expect all answers coming forward during the first days. Last night's trip to the library had not truly helped, but at least Harry now could cross out two more books of the thousands he had still to research. Without his proverbial luck Harry would read through the whole library and follow dozens of false trails before he finally found the one that took him further down his path.

When the morning rose and the first life stirred in the dormitory Harry felt not overly tired. From staring too long at the same point his eyes burned, though, so he put his more or less useless lecture away for now. Watching Seamus rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Harry made his way to the door. Only when Seamus saw him finally he pointed toward Ron.

"The honour's all yours." Harry grinned with a wink to Seamus. "Get him up, would you?"

"My pleasure, Harry," Seamus saluted. He blinked when he found Harry already clothed and ready but shrugged it off with a yawn. The sandy-haired boy literally jumped at the opportunity to bring Ron back from the dead. Running up to him, Seamus landed on Ron's bed rather heavily. The last Harry heard before he closed the door was loud laughter and lots of colorful curses that followed him all the way down the stairs.

Surprisingly Ron did not need nearly as long as Hermione to get down into the common room. Seamus had managed quite a good job throwing Ron out of his bed. Only half an hour later they found themselves in the great hall. Harry glanced fleetingly up at the head table, but other than McGonagall there were no professors present who deserved his attention. For a moment Harry was not sure if he should be glad about that or not. He certainly did not like being stared at, but he liked to know where everyone was digging around.

Shaking his head, Harry watched lazily as Ron used every minute left in the fruitless effort to fill his stomach to satisfy his growing body's need.

His chin in hand, Harry did not even bother to get up from the table when Hermione gathered her morning lecture. Ron frowned darkly while Harry made sure to rub his own free period in his grumbling friend's face. Ron hurried off to his first class even as he stuffed an extra croissant into his mouth and another in his bag for a snack during lesson. Seamus, the only other Gryffindor who had this period free, trudged up to the tower to take up his interrupted sleep again. He had always been more of a night owl. There was no sense to change it now.

Left on his own, Harry wandered around aimlessly through the castle. However, he avoided the dungeons and the corridor where the DADA classroom was. He truly could do without searching out one of those interfering bastards.

Shaking the thoughts away, Harry made his way silently through the well-known part of the castle. He relished in the rare quietness that surrounded him. When he closed his eyes and listened there was only the occasional whisper from a portrait or a slight creaking noise when one of the tower stairs moved. Harry felt as if he was the only one living in this castle – he and his shoes. He amended ruefully. Harry should have glued the bottom, but it was a remembrance too. All things were temporally. Quite in tact with his shuffling feet, Harry breathed deeply in and out. There was no whispering in the back of his head, no cackle of Tom watching. Nothing that threatened his life; everything was peaceful and good. This was Hogwarts as it always should be, not merely in between stolen moments of relaxation. In moments like this he felt home in this place.

Indulging in an instant's impulse, Harry stretched his arms out while he was still quietly walking down the empty corridor. He always held himself in the middle of the hallway, but when he concentrated on the castle and the magic he knew was there – just out of reach – he could almost feel the power that vibrated within the walls. With a frown Harry crossed his arms in front of his chest. He did not understand how it could possibly be that no one had sensed it before him. The homey feeling fled him in a breath's time.

It was still relatively early when he came back to the entrance hall, but Harry set off to his destination despite of that. After all, he had not seen Hagrid for a long time, and Care of Magical Creatures was the only thing Harry looked somewhat forward to. Not because he liked Hagrid's pets very much, but because Hagrid was a friend, somewhat simple-minded but always true to heart. It remained unsaid that as good a friend as Hagrid was he could not hold his mouth shut overly long, thus he could not be told anything important.

Slowly Harry made his way toward Hagrid's hut, but he stopped as soon as it got in sight. He should have thought about that Hagrid had a class to teach now. Harry sighed and sat down onto a lonely lump of rock, watching the half-giant bustling about a group of children, second years maybe or third. From this distance Harry could not clearly tell, though they did not seem too eager handling whatever lived in those half a dozen big wooden boxes.

However, finally the class was over, and while Hagrid gathered up the boxes and their loudly snarling occupants almost all sixth year Gryffindors arrived to their own lesson in Care of Magical Creatures among a dozen students from the other houses. Only Ron had thought himself intelligent and chose Care of Magical Creatures for his NEWTs. Although Ron did not like most of Hagrid's favourites more than anyone else it was still an easier NEWTs class than some others, and as lazy as Ron was he could need all the advantage he could get, even if he had to wrestle this aforementioned cave troll. After all, Hagrid never graded them too hard if they only looked excited enough when he brought another one of his biting, spiting or clawing pets.

With a sigh, Harry made his way to his friends and stepped beside Hermione. Seamus was the last one to crash in, his hair in disarray. Obviously the boy had enjoyed his nap nearly too long to make it in time for class, not that their teacher would mind.

Harry gave all but a small wave when Hagrid winked at him enthusiastically before he started his lesson with a booming welcome to those students who liked his animals so much that they voluntarily continued this class.

This time it was some fluffy little thing they had to cuddle and brush its fur despite its razor sharp claws. The ocelot-like creature did not like very much to be poked and prodded, but if they had to get through this so had this little fellow. Harry gripped it tightly in the neck, his hand safely out of its teeth way and rescued from its sharp claws due to the glove Harry had thankfully distributed himself with right to the beginning. According to Hagrid only the big ones were really interesting, though. All of the students breathed a sigh of relief when Hagrid put them back into their small cages in the back of his hut.

It was with a rather obvious gesture that Hagrid secretively called him over as everyone else left at the end of the lesson. Harry gave Hermione a slight nudge. After all, it was lunchtime now and they would not miss any classes if they talked a bit with their big friend. They quietly followed Hagrid in the hut, Harry with no small amount of trepidation. When Hagrid had a secret it always involved something that fought back viciously when aggravated.

"Ah, there yeh are." Hagrid's beetle-like eyes blinked good natured and fastened on Harry. "Yer doin' all righ', Harry?"

"Yep. I'm fine," Harry said lightly and changed the topic at once. "How was your summer, Hagrid? If it was only half as good as mine," Hermione jerked toward him, "then you had a lot of fun I bet."

"Oh," Hagrid shrugged noncommittally, "I jus' played a bit with Grawp, yeh know." Then his whole massive beard quivered and his laughter broke out in a low rumble. "Grawp 'as found those nice lil' tykes yeh 'ad in class. Yeh liked the purplenecks, dincha?"

"Well, other than that they had no purple necks they were really funny, Hagrid," Harry said brightly before Hermione even opened her mouth. Hagrid beamed at him.

"Yeah, I thought so." Hagrid peered out of his window before he turned back to the friends conspiratorially. "I wanna introduce yeh to so' friends of mine."

"Whom are you talking about exactly, Hagrid?" Hermione questioned cautiously. She did not look all too certain that she really wanted the answer to that just now, though.

"It's not another dragon you have hidden, isn't it?" Harry's lips twitched as he watched Hagrid frantically clasping his hands.

"No. Dumbledore wouldna le' me 'ave one," he said regretfully. "I'm not telling yeh what it is, though. Yeh come with me, Harry, won't yeh? I promise it's interesting. Yeh too, Hermione. They'll like yeh too." Hagrid looked down at them hopefully. With a suffering sigh the friends cast a last accepting gaze at each other and nodded hesitantly.

"Yes, we'll come. After our classes are over, all right, Hagrid?" They gave in to the inevitable.

"Oh, it's probably better we mee' after tha'." Hagrid suggested eagerly. "We'll walk down to 'em, yeh know. Yeh should better bring yer cloak too, Harry, with all those bad fellows around."

"They're in the Forbidden Forest?" From moment to moment Hermione looked more doubtful.

"Nah. No this time. They're on a field next to Hogsmeade, well, not one field, more a dozen. They are so big." Hagrid cried happily and then pressed his lips tightly closed. "I'm not saying anything more. It's time yeh 'ave yer lunch now, Harry. Don't forget to come back, though." Harry and Hermione looked at each other, already having second thoughts, when they found themselves unceremoniously but gently shoved out of the door.

"I bet it's highly illegal," Hermione muttered mostly to herself.

"That's granted," Harry agreed easily. "However, it's a first time that he's going to show us his little pet project voluntarily. It must be worth it." He could not help himself but grin at her expression.

"It's going to be dangerous," she murmured.

"Life threatening," Harry nodded with a smirk. The girl did not even bother to reply, but more than once on their way up to the castle she shook her head, quietly contemplating what was awaiting them this evening.

Lunch was nearly over when they finally reached the great hall. Ron was one of the few still heavily busy. He certainly used his time waiting for them to get himself an extra helping or two. Harry's stomach turned hungrily at the heavy smells that drifted through the hall.

"Where have you been, guys?" the redhead looked up finally.

"Don't ask. We tell you later, Ron." Hermione frowned. "Better get up now, though. You need to get up all the way to the north tower."

"Nah, today's Firenze," Ron mumbled barely recognizable through his food. "What's going on?"

"Hagrid's just a new pet of sort," Harry grinned and watched the students hurry of to their afternoon class. The only one who spared Harry a glance this time around was Malfoy. A pitiful sneer in place, he seemed not so sure of himself anymore while he unconsciously rubbed his chest. Harry suppressed a satisfied grunt and turned back to his friends, discounting Malfoy as unimportant. He could downright feel the blonde stomping off.

"Get a move on, Ron. Classes start in five minutes." Hermione gripped her bag more tightly and turned toward Harry. They had both charms now and Harry did not even try to delay when she pulled him out of the hall with a disapproving glance back to Ron.

It was not so late that they needed to haste to get into their respective lessons in time, but what use was it to argue about something that trivial?

Just when they were about to turn into the right corridor Harry felt a distinct tingle in the mark on his hip, distinct but known. He groaned inwardly. Snape was on his way, again. Why was it that the bastard always used the same stupid hallways Harry did? Taking a deep breath, Harry followed Hermione quietly. Back on enemy's territory it was. Well, peace was good as long it lasted. Harry gave Hermione no warning.

"Oh!" Hermione skidded to a halt abruptly just before the man knocked her over. "I'm sorry, Professor Snape," she said frowning. It was not exactly her fault that the man did not look down his big nose to see if his way was free.

"You should be, Granger," Snape snarled and his eyes narrowed when he found Harry patiently waiting behind her.

"Potter," Snape scowled. "Fifty points from Gryffindor for skipping detention."

"That's totally unfair!" Stepping forward, Harry straightened himself to his full height – what was not much. "It's not my fault… sir, that you didn't hear me." He argued free after the motto that assault was the best defence.

"Don't lie, Potter. Don't you think I'd have heard your wailing?"

"Point seven I was down at the classroom." Harry was aware of Hermione's scrutiny when he glared indignantly back at the infuriating git. "I even missed breakfast to be on time for detention." He pouted hard at the limit of being openly sarcastic.

"You arrogant…" Dark brows jumped into the sky and then Snape all but growled, "Breakfast?"

"Yeah," Harry nodded fervently, "I knocked for hours, but nobody opened."

"Are you trying to be especially witty, Potter?" Snape snarled. "Ten points from Gryffindor for that cheek. Since when do you have detentions in the morning?"

"You didn't mean in the morning?" Harry's eyes widened comically in surprise. Then he frowned. "How was I to know that, …sir?" The frown deepened. "When you… Ouch!" Harry found himself interrupted when Hermione's elbow met his side quite painfully. She had watched Harry interacting with Snape and found it past time to stop him, otherwise Harry would go on forever and truly infuriate the man.

"Sorry, Professor," Hermione said regally, "We have classes now and we really don't want to get there late."

"Ever eager to please, Granger," Snape sneered dismissively and turned toward Harry. "For you, Potter, it will be a visit with Filch. Eight o'clock this evening. Be sure to attend or it will be a hundred points from Gryffindor," he said with a dark smirk and swished away. What a bastard. Harry's lips twitched.

"And what have we learned today?" Harry grumbled lowly at his friend's reproachful gaze. "Never piss off a Potions Master."

"Come. Maybe we still get to Charms in time." Hermione's gaze was nearly as dark as Snape's when she shook her head at him. "He took an awful lot of points from you since the term started."

"You think so?" Harry grimaced. "Well, I don't believe Gryffindor's going to take the House Cup this year either. We may be fortunate if we make it among the first five participants." He grinned brightly.

"That's not funny, Harry." Hermione jerked around. "Think about what the others will say." Harry shrugged. It did not matter overly much to him. What mattered though was that he kept Snape too occupied with unimportant things to dig deeper into those Harry did not want him to dig.

"You should not provoke him deliberately," she said calmly when Harry kept quiet.

"I'm not doing that on purpose, Hermione," Harry pouted. "He's the one that can't pass me in the hallway without insulting me. I won't take this shit without getting at least a bit fun out of it." Harry winked at Hermione when she opened the classroom with the bell chiming and rushed off to take her place. With a smile Harry set down next to her.

Charms unfolded the same as Transfiguration the day before with the only difference that Flitwick left Harry to his doodles instead of giving him a wake up quiz. He counted minutes all through the lesson and ignored Hermione's persistent warnings that he would not get her notes to copy when he did not know left from right. Afterwards they parted way. Harry trudged drowsily toward Binns and Hermione hurried still wide-awake to Ancient Runes.

Harry's head sagged down as soon as he sat down. Just thinking about History made him sleepy. Binns was way better than Valium. When Seamus flopped down next to him Harry was already fast asleep. He only opened his eyes when everyone left the room at the end of the lesson and Seamus shook him awake with a bright grin before they climbed up the stairs to the common room. They had earned themselves a rest from such a stressing day.

It was an hour later when the three friends met in the common room to get their bit of homework done. It was not much, but they still needed to do it.

Very unobtrusively Harry laid a list of certain research topics on the table. It was only half of the list in question, and he placed it just out of reach of a certain bookworm, frowning it up and down very much lost in thought. Not a minute later when Harry, sighing, bit the end of his quill Hermione's curiosity got one over her and she bent down determinedly.

"What's this?" She reached for it and frowned, already reading the small paper.

"Just stuff I want to look up when I find the time." Harry appeased, slightly embarrassed to be caught studying. "Give it back to me, Hermione."

"Well," she did not look up from his list, "it sounds interesting." Finally she thoughtfully gazed at him. "Did something happen to make you want to look up this stuff?"

"Other than what you know, nothing particular." Harry shrugged. "I just thought it worth a second thought. This thing during summer that I seem to have missed somehow sounds interesting. Dumbledore said something about magical eruptions being extremely rare. It can't be wrong to read up on it, though, in case something like that happens again, well, and maturity? We're old enough to get into our powers, aren't we? It could happen any time now. I simply want to know those things before they hit me in the back, you know?" Harry sighed inwardly. Now Hermione knew at least the topics he was interested in and should she come about a book she would mark it down for him. Harry had put other obvious topics on the list as well – such as prophecies and the like, things she would believe were the most important – merely to make it less obvious than what he really wanted to know.

"That's a lot of work, Harry," the girl stated.

"I'm not going to write an essay about it." Harry rolled his eyes. "I just want to know a bit more than I do now. Not that I know much of these things to begin with. Anyway, it's not as if I have anything else to do," he said and bent toward his homework.

"That's funny, mate." Ron snorted.

"What's funny about me wanting to know more about the world I live in?" Harry jerked his head around to him with a harsh look.

"It's just not like you to spend more time in the library than on the Quidditch field." Ron shrugged and Harry blinked. Sometimes he truly wondered about his friends.

"You know, I have not even started yet," Harry said flippantly. "And anyway, maybe I want to use this head of mine for once." His eyes narrowed as he suppressed a smile. "Don't you think it's time I did when I'm supposed to kill off Voldemort?" Ron swallowed hard whatever argument had lain on his tongue.

"Sure thing, mate," the redhead weakly cleared his throat. "Thanks for reminding me."

"No problem. Anything for you, Ron." Harry grinned back and took the proffered list from Hermione after she had finished memorizing the whole thing.

Out of the corner of his eye Harry glanced at Ron. He still did not know what to do about him. As long as Harry's magic did not become stronger he had no problem with the redhead's temper, but Harry really did not plan to let Hogwarts keep all of his magic away from him forever. He would find a way to get his powers unlocked, and then he would have to deal with Ron's flaring magic. Even now, when Harry had problems to see any aura without really concentrating on it, Ron's was one of those he could recognize the easiest because of the strength of magic that powered up the flickering image of the aura, still blue and white.

Harry needed to find a way that Ron could somehow control his temper of his before Harry uncovered how to get full access to his own magic. Harry sadly could not simply go up to his friend and tell him to count to ten before he opened his mouth – especially when Malfoy was going out of his way to bait him. Not that it would help much in any case, but Harry required something to work with. It was another matter for the library; of course that one was not on the partly duplicated list he had shown Hermione but only on the list that was still safely charmed and out of harm's way for now. Harry bent down to his notes again.

Both of his friends could be great in their later lives – both in different areas and both wholly on their own. They would not possibly believe him should he try to tell them that. Harry would like to be present when they got access to their whole magical power, though. However, it was likely that they would never reach their real strength. It seemed that few people ever did so. Harry shook his head. At first he would do the homework and then, if he had time, everything else.

It was only on their way to the great hall – when they passed Filch in the hallway – that they remembered to tell Ron about Hagrid's new project. Ron listened quietly and muttered that he found Hagrid's choice of friends much lacking before he gazed up at them.

"I wasn't really invited, was I?" Ron seemed almost relieved when they shook their heads and gestured sharply when Hermione assured him that Hagrid would not possibly mind that he came along.

"No, no," Ron said good natured, "I'll rather do the rest of my homework."

"Had you done your work during the weekend, Ron, you'd have free time now," She let him know imperviously.

"Yeah, yeah." Ron gestured wildly with his fork. "Just tell me about his friends when you come back." He frowned. "Don't tell me if it has something to do with anyone called Aragog, though." Harry snorted, waved and turned around.

"You're sure you'll pass?" He asked just to be safe.

"Yeah." Ron watched Hermione going ahead and only whispered to him when she was out of listening range. "Seamus and Dean are going to meet with some friends of theirs," he grinned. "They invited me to come along."

"Oh." Harry kept his thoughts to himself. "Good to know. I tell her that you're going to bed early, all right?"

"Thanks, mate." Ron nodded avidly, keeping a weary glance on both of their walking conscience. "Don't let them eat you, whatever they are."

"Of course." Harry shrugged lightly and caught up to Hermione with a shrug in her direction that said it had only been men's talk that held him back. Calmly, the two friends made their way toward Hagrid's hut.

It was purely on accident that a small group of students passed them, younger ones, too busy with their own lives to recognize anyone not part of their world. They passed them, one of them nearly running into Harry. He stepped back to avoid being toppled to the ground in another embarrassing scene and instinctively reached out to steady himself.

It was only a second that his fingers actually skimmed the wall, but during this moment Hogwarts came back and the presence he knew lurking in the back of his head was surrounding him, brimming him with strange thoughts, impressions and needs. It almost… purred at him like a cat would purr in front of a warm fire, waiting for someone to bring her food and water. Harry tumbled and jerked back with a shudder, the students already gone as thoughtless as they had come.

"What is it, Harry?" Hermione stood right next to him, ready to give him an arm should he need it.

"Nothing. Just wondering what Hagrid has waiting for us." He grimaced. "I'm guessing it's breathing fire or something, or it eats humans."

"Yes," she said agreeably. Harry was glad she let the matter drop for now, but he was acutely aware of the sideway glances shooting his way.

"They were just so happy, you know." Harry broke their heavy silence. Hermione always needed something to think about, otherwise she would find her own topic to further. He better give her a bit to work with.

"Yes, they were." Hermione nodded. "They're children."

"I know, it's just…" Harry drew a deep, trembling breath.

"You don't need to explain, Harry." She squeezed his arm comfortingly. "It's all right. Let's go down to Hagrid now." She frowned at him until Harry pulled himself visibly together and stepped out of the castle with a determined nod.

When Harry passed the doors there was a short moment when he was almost aware of the castle without even touching it – as if it was probing him, testing him for something – but he took another step and the feeling was gone. However, what it implicated now was in no way better than all the times he felt the castle's foreign presence before, though he now became aware of something as if a light had turned on. It had been only for an instant that he felt the magic surging through his body. It was an instant too short for his body to visibly react in any way, but Harry knew then that whatever Hogwarts wanted it did not the least bit care what happened to him. This crazy box played with him! It turned his magic on and off like it pleased. No more! Harry could not walk through a corridor while suddenly falling unconscious. This had to stop. Was Hogwarts it simply stupid or too… inhuman? A bit of responsibility and reticence would be nice, nevertheless it was fine when Hogwarts did not feel concerned at all about Harry's problems. It probably found Tom and him quite amusing. He doubted that it had come upon a pair like them for some time.

As soon as Harry knew what to expect from someone – or something – he could try preparing for it. Even in his early childhood Harry had been the only one who truly cared what happened to Harry. It was sad to see that this had not changed, but he did not want anyone to tell him what to do – not the Dursleys, not Dumbledore, and certainly not a stupid stone box. That would not do. Harry walked uptight, his face a mask. He had stopped doing as others bid him… and this summer, he would not start being controlled by… it.