In the eye of the wolf
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognise. So basically, I own nothing and JK owns it all
Summary: Harry returns to Hogwarts late with many secrets. His friends seem to have gone their separate ways and he finds he can only find the peace he needs in his own mind. He becomes withdrawn and depressed; will he allow anyone to break through the ice he has wrapped around his own heart? Will he find love and learn to shoulder his burden with a straight face or will he sink further into the darkness until he is lost.
Harry sighed as he snuck into Hogwarts grounds at the beginning of his sixth year; he had managed to miss the Hogwarts express and had had to catch the knightbus. He had no idea how he was going to do this without being caught and then he had to think of a plausible explanation. He couldn't exactly say that his uncle had beaten the shit out of him, so he ran away and lost track of time now could he? He sighed again and looked around, he had hoped to arrive at the same time as the train so that he could slip in with the other students in Hogsmeade but there seemed to be a hell of a lot more stranded witched and wizards tonight.
He hurried down to the castle as fast as his injured body would allow and then paused outside of the main doors to check that his concealment charms were still in place. A week ago, his uncle had nearly killed him and so he had ran away. He knew his secret wouldn't last long but the longer, the better. If he was lucky, he had another three weeks at least before he was figured out. But then again, whenever had he been lucky?
He checked to see if his trunk was still shrunk and in his pocket before taking a deep breath and then he pushed the doors open. He knew this was going to be difficult considering Vernon had murdered Hedwig and hadn't allowed him to see any of his mail let alone send his own for the entire summer, so in all truth, the last time he spoke to someone was before Sirius had died. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and then quietly shut the door behind him but then froze as he heard someone coming towards him. He didn't bother to turn around, he knew who they were, could smell them even.
"Potter" Snape drawled and Harry closed his eyes briefly before turning around to face Snape, McGonagall, Dumbledore and Lupin. Damn, he wasn't that late was he? He had missed the entire welcoming feast. He forced a smile as Snape stepped forward "Famous Harry Potter decided to grace us with his presence after then? But where's the flying car? Isn't the knightbus a little below you?" Snape sneered in mock horror. Harry tilted his head to the side and locked eyes with the Potions master before nodding, not in the mood for these games.
"Could you come with us please Harry?" Dumbledore asked tiredly and Harry nodded, his eyes softening when they fell on the old man. Dumbledore obviously noticed this because his twinkle returned and he smiled before offered him his hand. Harry hesitated for a minute and then placed his gloved hand in the headmasters. He allowed himself to be gently pulled towards the headmaster's office, trying to contain the flinch at walking faster than his knee would bend.
When they reached the stone gargoyles, Dumbledore gave the password and then rested his hand on Harry's shoulder, looking at him curiously as he tensed and visibly restrained himself from pulling away. As soon as they were in the office, Harry let go of Dumbledore's hand and moved a few steps away, all the time wearing a tight smile. Remus, Snape and McGonagall filed in behind them and all found seats, watching Harry curiously
"Would you like to tell me how you missed the Hogwarts express Harry?" Dumbledore asked softly and Harry tilted his head to the side but said nothing. The headmaster waited for a minute and when he didn't get an answer, he sighed "Well, how about you tell us why you didn't answer any of our letters?" he asked but still only got silence
"Did you even get the letters Potter?" Snape asked slowly as he studied the boy before him intently, Harry shook his head honestly and then arched an eyebrow and looked straight into those blue eyes as he felt the old wizard gently probing at his mental shields. Dumbledore actually looked stunned for a minute before he smiled apologetically and nodded his approval. "Where's your owl Potter?" Snape asked again and Harry closed his eyes briefly, remembering how his uncle had just snapped the poor animals neck
"Dead" he said, his voice hoarse and cold from lack of use, sending shivers down the spines of his teachers. Not one of them wanted to ask how and so they didn't, which Harry was grateful for. Silence fell among them again as the teachers tried to get at least some information out of him
"How are you hurt?" Remus asked and all four teachers then looked at Harry intently. Harry stared at the werewolf blankly for a minute and Remus sighed "I can smell pain Harry and it's coming from you, rather a lot of it" he elaborated and Harry nodded, thinking fast
"Oh, I twisted my ankle running down here, its fine" he said shrugging and then smiled as much as he could. Remus looked at him sceptically whilst the others just accepted his answer. Harry forced himself to stand still and not fidget, wondering what else they would ask him now but Dumbledore just looked at him hard and nodded
"I take it you did not receive your OWL results either?" he asked and Harry shook his head, he had completely forgotten about those, he watched curiously as Dumbledore pulled an envelope out of his drawer and then pushed it across the table, nodding. Harry worried his bottom lip and then stepped forward, trembling with the effort of actually being this close to someone; Dumbledore didn't look like he was going to move away.
As soon as he had the envelope in his hands, he backed away again to a safe distance, ignoring the look of triumph in Dumbledore's eyes before sadness flashed through them and then they went blank. He unfolded the parchment and bit his lip as he read through his results. He had done better than he hoped, even scrapped an O in his potions, which meant he could enter the advanced class, failed history of magic and astronomy but passed all the others, and even get an honour in Defence.
"You'll be happy to know the Quidditch ban has been lifted" McGonagall interrupted with a smile "Also, would you accept the job of Quidditch captain?" she asked, her eyes twinkling and Remus beamed at him proudly but Harry bit his lip and shook his head before looking down at his feet
"No ma'am. Sorry but I think I should concentrate on my studies this year, I – I wont be returning to the team" he said quietly, besides, he couldn't even if he wanted too. There was a rule against people like him playing, he was sure of it and he was too hurt to walk let alone fly...and he seriously did want to concentrate on his work for once. Before McGonagall could swallow a fly and start ranting, Dumbledore pressed a hand on his shoulder again, his eyes flashing briefly as Harry tensed and trembled but said nothing
"Headmaster, professor Snape. I owe you both an apology," he said quietly, lowering his head. He may as well get this over with now. He bit his lip and turned to Dumbledore "I should never have reacted like that last year sir, I was being a foolish child and again I apologise for my behaviour" he said slowly before turning to Snape and looking him in the eye
"I'm sorry for my entire attitude towards you last year professor. I know I don't deserve your forgiveness for – what I did. But please, know I am truly sorry. I also apologise for blaming you for Siri, I know that if I had listened to you and had done as I was told, then perhaps it would never have happened but its too late for that now." He paused and met Snape's shocked gaze again "What's my name sir? My first name?" he asked and Snape looked at him suspiciously
"Harry" he said slowly and Harry nodded
"Please remember that. I am not my father, I am nothing like my father and I am rather thankful for that. My cousin Dudley perhaps would seem more of a perfect match. I can only hope my father grew into a better man than he was child." he said quietly. Silence followed his words and then Dumbledore squeezed his shoulder, where his hand still lay
"You didn't hear anything about what has happened over the summer did you?" he asked quietly, his eyes twinkling and Harry shook his head. Frowning in confusion "Sirius was named innocent Harry, Wormtale was caught at the ministry and told all he knew but that's not all. You see Harry, the portal Sirius fell in to was a way into the land of the dead, that's were the ghosts go when they no longer wish to roam about the earth. Harry, Sirius was returned too us" he said softly and then he waved his hand and the office door opened, behind it stood a very healthy looking Sirius.
Harry blinked and stared at him openly for a minute, when Sirius stepped forward to hug him, Harry automatically took a step back and didn't bother to hide it. He smiled softly at his godfather though; he knew it could be nobody else because it even smelt like him. He nodded his head to his godfather and his smile widened fractionally. "Its good to see you Sirius" he said quietly and Sirius grinned before stepping forward again, his smile faltering when Harry took another step away, every one in the room was openly staring at him now but he ignored it and turned to look at Dumbledore again
"Sirius here is sharing the job of defence teacher with Remus Harry, he'll be here all year" he said and Harry's grin widened now, not even slightly fake
"Don't I get a hug Harry?" Sirius asked, holding his arms open as he watched his godson carefully. Harry tensed and bit his lip before nodding and quickly stepping into his godfather's arms. He closed his eyes as those strong arms wrapped around him and his body trembled visibly but he managed to pull away quickly and when he noticed the hurt expression on Sirius's face, he bit his lip and then stepped forward and kissed his cheek quickly before stepping back again
"You must be hungry Harry, here, let me call a house elf" Dumbledore said, eventually breaking the silence. Harry bit his lip, he was in fact hungry but he couldn't eat because then he'd have to stay here longer and besides, he had other reasons too. For instance, his not touching silver would be a big clue for the teachers.
"No I – I ate on the way here sir. I'm just tired, I'd rather go to bed" he said and then smiled in what he hoped was a casual way. Dumbledore smiled at him and nodded
"Sirius, why don't you want young Harry to the common room?" he asked, his eyes twinkling and Sirius nodded before holding out his hand. Harry took it hesitantly and then started to follow Sirius out of the room but then paused and looked over his shoulder. He pulled his hand free and turned around. He stepped up to Snape and bowed low, lying his wand across the palm of his hands
"I formally call for a truce between the Potter and the Snape families. I am willing to take responsibility for all the harm a Potter has caused a Snape and am in your service until that debt is paid. Should you accept" he said, his head still bowed, as the old formality required. The silence in the room was almost deafening as Dumbledore, McGonagall and Remus looked upon Harry with nothing short of pride glowing in their eyes. Both Snape and Sirius were stuttering, completely shocked. Eventually though, Snape stood up and eyed Harry carefully before pulling out his own wand.
"I accept the call of truce offered to me and I declare the debt paid. For each problem a Potter has caused, a Snape has retaliated and therefore we are even." He said and then held out his hand. Harry smiled at him and bowed before taking the hand and shaking it
"Not quite even yet professor. But we will be before I finish school. When you require me for anything, I shall be there. Debt is the worst poverty, after all, a rich man is nothing but a poor man with money" he said and then paused and frowned slightly "I read somewhere that the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs. I guess I'll find that out soon" he said and then bowed again, kissed Snape's knuckles and followed Siri from the room.
Snape, Dumbledore, McGonagall and Remus just stared after the boy before exchanging glances "Well...I'd certainly say he grew up a lot this summer" Minerva said quietly after a while, if just to break the silence and the others nodded
"Did anyone else notice the gloved hands and the refusal to touch?" Dumbledore asked and Remus nodded
"Whenever anyone could too close, I could smell the fear in him. Something happened over the summer, he's – different somehow and I'm not sure I want to know how or why" he said quietly and the teachers fell into silence again before Snape scowled and jumped to his feet
"What exactly did the boys parting words mean?" he asked in a low dangerous voice and both Remus and Minerva snickered whilst Dumbledore just beamed at him, his eyes twinkling madly
"He meant my dear Severus, that he does not consider the debt paid on his behalf and therefore he is in your service until you both agree he has done enough"
As soon as Harry entered the Gryffindor common room, he was surprised to see most of the house still awake and gossiping to himself. That is, until he heard his name. They were obviously waiting for him. Sirius grinned and patted him on the back before escaping, not wanting to be anywhere near when the explosion went off and Hermione started shouting.
All heads turned to look at him and he sighed, he was way too tired for this shite, he was aching and his head felt like it was about to explode. He could feel blood trickling down his back and he was just not in a good mood at all. To think that he had put up with the shit at the Dursleys just because he thought he deserved it and all the while, the man he felt had killed him was here at Hogwarts. He couldn't understand how that was and his mind was trying to get around it, trying to figure it out but he couldn't.
He took a minute to study his two friends; Ron had grown another few inches and was at least six foot tall now, his red hair was longer and he seemed to be going for a Bill look where that was concerned. In his hands he held a book, for once, and that was probably what was so weird about the picture. It seemed Ronnikins had grown up. It also looked like he had filled out some too as it was possible to see the muscles through his clothes.
Hermione had turned into a young woman over the summer; no more did she have the bushy hair and buck teeth. Her hair was long and ruler straight. Her robes seemed to hug her figure and she had curves in all the right places. No wonder Ron had decided to grow up, Hermione had somehow turned hot. Not that she hadn't been pretty before of course, if you liked that sort of thing...She too had her own book on her lap but she had let it fall from her fingers as soon as he had walked in.
Harry let his eyes swim around the room, taking in the familiar faces. Fred and George were sat in the corner with their heads together over some parchment but they too were just staring at him. But their stare wasn't one of irritation or hurt, instead broad grins spread over their faces and they waved to him. Ginny was sat with Neville, surprisingly, though Ginny's glare seemed just as hard as Hermione's. It took Harry all this time to register that the ones in the common room now, the ones waiting for him, where those who attended the DA last year.
Hermione stood up slowly with Ron by her side and they approached him cautiously. Harry tensed, prepared for an even worse headache by the shouting but was surprised by a slap, his head snapped to the side at the force of it and he closed his eyes before nodding slowly to himself. He straightened himself out before turning to face his two – friends – again. But didn't say anything, he held himself still as a fist exploded off his jaw and then he arched an eyebrow before nodding. Still not saying anything, he walked through the silent common room and up the stairs to his dorm, but not before he heard Hermione collapse against Ron and sob on his shoulder.
Harry lay awake for hours that night, even though he was exhausted. He stared up at the ceiling, trying to work out what was going on. Ron and Hermione had obviously got together sometime over the holidays, he had thought they had a thing for each other and was obviously right. He wasn't even that bothered about it, which surprised him slightly, Hermione was pretty yes, but she wasn't for him. He had managed to figure out that men were for him, if his dreams were anything to go by.
He wasn't sure how he felt about Sirius either. They said they had sent owls to him, to tell him but Harry hadn't received any at all because of his uncle. So who's at fault for that? He couldn't help but be angry that none thought it was important enough for them to tell him in person. Well, not exactly angry, he was too weary too be angry anymore. He just couldn't give a shit. He shook his head and sighed, then he grasped his wand and put it under his pillow, not letting go, he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
"Harry" Neville called; pushing the curtains open to the boy-who-lived's bed and stepped closer. He reached out, about to prod the boy but Harry sat up straight, quicker than one might expect and had his wand out
"Petrificus Totalus" Harry shouted before his eyes could even adjust to the light. He watched as Neville fell to the floor and then he winced before scrambling to his feet as fast as he could, unable to contain a wince. He looked at himself briefly to check the concealment and then he performed the counter curse and helped his friend to his feet, apologizing again and again "I'm so sorry Neville"
"S'fine Harry, just remind me not to wake you up again" Neville mumbled as he left the dorms, Harry looked around to see everyone else was gone and he sat down on his bed heavily, shaking his head to try and wake up some. It was a few minutes before he could convince himself to get up again and so he showered quickly and dressed, having no books but the ones he had last year anyway, Harry just grabbed a few bits of parchment, a quill and some ink then headed down to the great hall for breakfast.
He sat down at the other end of the Gryffindor table from where the others were and just looked around, it seemed he couldn't have been more wrong about Ron and Hermione. A lot had definitely happened over the summer as sat at the Gryffindor table was Draco Malfoy and on his knee was Hermione. Next to them was Ron and he was too busy sticking his tongue down Luna Lovegood's throat to notice anything else. Harry felt a pang at his heart, his friends had moved on and had left him behind, he had missed some of what was obviously the best times in the two's lives. It's just as well; someone like him would never be accepted, not even by ones as open-minded as Ron and Hermione.
He looked away when he noticed Malfoy and Hermione watching him and he looked down at the table, closing his eyes and swallowing hard. He stared into his empty plate, trying to fight back the tears and only when he had managed did he look up at the staff table. Sirius, Remus, Snape and Dumbledore were all watching him closely and Harry jumped to his feet quickly before walking out of the room.
Classes that day were difficult to say the least. Harry couldn't stop his eyes from drifting over to those he had been lucky enough to call friends. Hermione was always sat besides her – boyfriend – Draco and Ron was usually the other side with Neville. Hermione and Draco were watching him carefully, as was Ron at times but Harry always looked away when he met their eyes. They had made their feelings perfectly clear the morning night before. Now Harry sat at the back of the room, alone and started reading whenever he wasn't writing, if just to stop his eyes from staring again.
In potions, Snape hadn't ridiculed him once and had instead taken to watching him intently but Harry did his best to ignore it, that and the feelings that stirred inside him when he saw the man. He made sure never to take off his gloves though and was surprised when none of the teachers made him, at least he could stay away from silver now. He skipped dinner than afternoon and when he returned to his dorm in the evening, he was surprised to see brand new clothes pilled on his bed and books on the floor. He frowned when he saw a note on top of the clothes and he reached forward to unfold it.
Obviously, I cannot help you through whatever it is that is troubling you as you are not willing to talk. But, I can do this for you; I went to London to buy what you need for the school year as well as some decent clothes. I hope you will not take offence but I will not take no for an answer, these are now yours – it is the least I can do. Harry, please remember I'm right here when you need to speak to me, about anything. I miss you, miss speaking to you and now we don't have to do it in secret...
Harry smiled slightly at that and sighed before he started to put the clothes away. He was more than grateful; he hardly had any clothes with him but what was already in his trunk before he had to leave. It was nice to know that at least one person wasn't so ready to give up on him just like that. He stroked one of the shirts and his smile widened, his first true smile in what felt like ages.