Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, place names or any of the recognisable Potterverse things. They are property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers. I merely borrow them for my own amusement. This fic has been inspired by the album "Splinter" by The Offspring and, while I don't think it's going to become a songfic, their lyrics may be quoted in dialogue or narrative from time to time. Chapter headings will also be taken from The Offspring's song names. Lyrics and titles are courtesy of Dexter Holland and the rest of the band. I don't own them either, unfortunately. The story itself is mine, so please email me if you want to rec or archive it. Or to give me feed back. Or you could just email me randomly!
Author's Notes: Chocolate-covered Snapes to anyone who can spot an Offspring quote! Please leave reviews or any other kind of feedback, because it's nice to know just how much I'm despised. (Also, for some reason will no longer allow me to use stars to separate sections of my story, so I've used --- instead.)
Chapter One - Worst Hangover Ever
"Turn to page three hundred and ninety-four."
Harry flicked open his books, eyes dazedly taking in the faded text there. Another three hundred and ninety-four, another lesson and another bloody hangover!
"'Werewolves and Their Distinctive Features'. I'd like you all to read through the next two pages and, in your own words, describe the average werewolf in terms of psychology and physiology. You have the rest of the lesson to complete." Harry winced and, removing his glasses, rubbed his eyes as twenty-five books slapped open. He heard an unsuccessfully disguised snort of laughter from the Hufflepuff side of the classroom. "In silence if you don't mind, Hopkirk."
The only thing worse than a hangover on a Monday morning was a classroom full of teenagers who knew you had a hangover and had no sympathy for you. Harry would have gone to Madame Pomfrey for a remedy, but the last time he had asked for such a cure she had given him such a filthy look that he wasn't sure his head could stand the intensity of her disapproval on this occasion. Going to Snape would be even worse, simply because Snape had witnessed the previous night's exploits.
Another thing worse than the combination of teaching and hangovers: one's boyfriend being found quite publicly infla grande with another man. Really, very publicly. That public being a reasonable percentage of seventh years and most of one's colleagues.
"In the toilets at the Three Broomsticks. My brother saw them!"
"Twenty points from Hufflepuff, Hopkirk. Kindly keep your diatribe to where you are less well informed and continue with your essay."
This really was going to be the worst hangover ever.
The whispers followed him for the rest of the morning. Like the dull throbbing at his temple, they were irritating and persistent. He was very pleased to at least mildly relieve both by slumping down next to Professor Granger at lunch.
"Drink it straight down," she said, pushing the small blue bottle towards him. "Just pretend it's a shot of fire whiskey and you shouldn't find it too difficult. You should be thankful that some of us keep a mildly civil relationship with Severus Snape."
Harry cringed at the taste but did as instructed, concentrating on the potion's soothing effect. "Why is it every time I drink alcohol something terrible happens?"
"Maybe it's the powers that be telling you that going to a party on a school night isn't a good idea." Hermione's voice was prim, even as she smirked over her nut roast.
"Or trying to hammer home the point that I simply can't be a saviour and have a functional adult relationship."
"It really is asking a little much, don't you think?" She grinned at her friend. "Still, it could be worse. Your 'coming out' was quite spectacular."
Harry chuckled. "It took Filch a whole week to scrub 'Harry Potter gives great head' off of the Astronomy Tower. I think that will forever be Draco's greatest gift to future editions of Hogwarts: A History."
He may have laughed, but Hermione knew from experience that Harry hated unwanted attention. "Are you alright, though?"
"Never better." The young professor poked half-heartedly at his potatoes.
"I'm serious, Harry. You just disappeared from the pub last night. We were really worried."
He shrugged. "I thought enough of a scene had been caused already." He looked at his friend earnestly. "I know you tried to warn me about this, and I really was going to end it. I mean, I've been so involved in stuff for the Order it was coming from a mile off. I promise you I'll be fine. It's all over, and I'm just going to concentrate on the million other things that need my attention right now."
Hermione, thought not entirely convinced, was satisfied that her closest friend was at least not having an immediate emotional breakdown. She allowed her attention to drift back to that morning's Daily Prophet.
"Have you seen this?" Hermione indicated the headline.
"I know, Dovetown's been taken. Only to be expected. Hogsmead's the only safe place left, almost. They're getting closer and it's just a matter of time before they try to take the village."
"For heaven's sakes, Potter, lower your voice." Professor MacGonagall leant over Hermione and whispered, "We will all discuss this at eight o'clock tonight in the Headmaster's office. Don't be late, either of you."
Harry shared a grimace with Hermione. "An emergency Order meeting - the perfect end to the perfect day."
"Dennis Creevey said the guy wasn't even good looking."
"Well I heard that it took them ten minutes to figure out anyone was there, watching them."
"What kind of moron would cheat on Professor Potter, any? I mean, he's loaded and gorgeous!"
"They were supposed to be making so much noise you could hear it from outside the pub."
Not for the first time, Harry walked quickly through the halls of Hogwarts with his head lowered, hoping no one would notice him. The grapevine had clearly shot into action, and while the comments were expected, it made them no less painful to hear.
In Dumbledore's office Harry noticed all talk stopped as he entered. With a heavy sigh he dropped into his seat between Remus Lupin and Professor Snape. Remus, who had also been at the seventh years Solstice party at the Three Broomsticks, laid his hand on Harry's arm. "How are you holding up?"
"Well, the hangover's gone," Harry replied.
"I meant Owen. Have you heard from him?"
"Please, Lupin, not now."
The sound of a throat being cleared came from his left. "When Mr. Potter is quite finished airing his sordid private life," Professor Snape said in a ringing voice, "There are rather more important matters at hand to discuss."
"Thank you, Severus. That will do." Professor Dumbledore stood and motioned for silence. The last four years of war had truly taken their toll on his physical appearance and Harry was very vividly reminded that there are more ways to die than at the wrong end of your enemy's wand. In the time since Voldemort had returned, Dumbledore had been forced to dual with Death Eaters and government officials alike. He had won every campaign against the latter and succeeded in instating most of the Order of the Phoenix members at Hogwarts, but the energy it had taken made him look and feel every day of his age.
"For those of you who have not heard the news via our media friends, a message was sent to me in the early hours of this morning that Voldemort and his followers had stormed Dovetown and, meeting with very little resistance, have by now gained control there. The Dark Lord's reign widens and, with the Ministry of Magic so recently dissolved, he will be finding his task an easy one. I need not tell you that Hogsmead, Glastonberry and Snowdonia are now the only magical districts still free, and from recent events we may safely assume that his eye is now fixed on Hogsmead. This is, of course, not the first time certain of use have been through a crisis such as this. He succeeded last time, but will not again. We are more and we are stronger, and we shall work together to see that there is at least one wizarding community in Britain still safe. Those without essential duties within the school shall be placed on a rota for twenty-four hour sentry duty and the Hogsmead gates. Those in most need of protection," his gaze here fell on Severus Snape, who lowered his head and pretended not to notice, "Shall be carefully looked after.
"As far as school life is concerned, NEWT students will, as of next week, be taking mandatory defence and duelling lessons. I will leave its organisation to you, Harry, if I may. Perhaps Severus would consent his assistance?" The Professor nodded his assent. "Hogsmead trips for the rest of the year are cancelled, obviously. Any further arrangements will be announced as and when suitable." The Headmaster smiled. "That is all. Enjoy your evenings."
Before Harry could make a hasty escape, he heard a low voice in his ear. "I would take a few minutes of your time, Potter. That is, if you can drag yourself from your hectic social life." Snape took Harry's arm in a firm grip and steered him from the office.
"Certainly Professor." Harry had learned a long time ago that, when trying to get rid of his colleague, it was best to keep conversation to a minimum.
"I suggest classes for the duelling be Gryffindor-Hufflepuff and Slytherin-Ravenclaw, therefore eradicating any major rivalries that might distract adolescent minds. With the two yeargroups that will be two classes each, although I wouldn't be surprised if Headmaster decides to extend this to the younger years also. Do you concur?"
"Not quite," Harry admitted. "It would be more sensible to co-tutor, I think. We could more safely demonstrate complex or harmful spells. Afterall, who cares if either of us end up in the hospital wing? And it would also make lighter work of cleaning up any fuck ups if we're both there."
"Being better acquainted with fucking up than myself, I'll leave that decision to you. I'm apparently rather under your thumb in this matter, anyway – such a pity your former lover couldn't boast a similar position."
Harry refused to look up and see the smirk he knew rested on Snape's thin lips. "If that's all-"
"Terrible business last night, Potter. You certainly have my condolences," he added in a tone of mock-sympathy. "But then, Owen Pritchard always was the rent boy type. The sort to follow his penis into any situation."
Harry breathed deeply and tried to count to ten as they reached his chamber door.
"But then, who would have guessed he'd follow it right into another man's rectum?"
Fuck counting to ten!
"Now look here, despite all appearances to the contrary I actually cared about Owen. He might have had his faults, but I wanted us to have a future together, and it's now been made rather obvious that's never going to happen. I get that. I do not need anyone – not Hermione, or Remus, or even you – to tell me how stupid I've been to be trusting him for the last year, when all he was doing was screwing around. So when you're next planning on imparting your great wisdom on my ever deserving back, just bog off. I don't want to know!"
Harry drew breath, disgusted to feel hot tears rolling down his cheeks. He wrenched the door open and left Snape on its other side. "Good night!"
Additional notes: 'Page 394' is an homage to the great Alan Rickman, au naturelement (Spelled wrong, I know – my French is appalling!). Please leave feedback. Just a small reminder.