I know Pain.

If I knew it any better, we'd be best buddies. I've learned to appreciate all the different ways of pain inflicting our lives. It's funny how people are amazed of my high tolerance of pain, because things that people expect to cause a great pain to me are normally the least painful things in my life.

Have you noticed that it actually hurts less to have a knife pierced into your arm, than having a severe head- or stomach-ache? Sure the knife hurts a lot at first but slowly it fades to a steady hum and you can nearly forget about it. A pain, that rises from somewhere inside you hurts more, since you can't be sure of its cause.

Pain is more than half mental. Let's say you have a paper cut; something that will definitely not cause you permanent damage. If you concentrate on other things, like your work or studies or on having fun, you barely notice it. But when you return to home, lie down on the bed and allow the silence to surround you, the tiny pain in your finger can get unbearable.

I know Pain.

We have a very healthy relationship. It warns me if something is wrong, and I listen to it. I don't let it rule my thoughts, but neither do I try to surpass it. It can stay in me for as long as there's something wrong with my body. When the pain leaves, I know I'm healthy, and not having some inside infections suppressed by the pain potions.

I don't tolerate pain; I embrace it.

Severus Snape hated headaches. But when they were accompanied with a memory loss, they scared the living daylights out of him. Last night had been the first summoning since the first "defeat" of the Dark Lord. It had been surprisingly easy to fall back to the old behaviour patterns and claim his place in the Inner Circle. Of course there had been the normal amount of blaming and Cruciatus Curse, but the Dark Lord had been on a surprisingly good mood.

The thought of Cruciatus Curse lead to the second unnerving realisation he had, had that morning. Except for the headache, he had none of the normal after effects of the curse. The potion he had reserved to help with the effects of the curse lay untouched on his table.

He was just about to stand up to pour himself a drink when his alarm for incoming owl post went off. He opened the gateway that was built to allow owls to enter the dungeon, and let the grey school owl in. It was nearly humorous how the owl ruffled its feathers to show its displeasure on having to fly to the dungeons. As soon as the Potions Master had untied the letter the owl rushed out to the fresh air, not even waiting for the custom treat from its services.

Dear Professor,

I have to congratulate you on the position you have managed to obtain. Very remarkable deed to carry it out the way you have been doing. I'm sure there are those who are envious of your status as the potions master of Hogwarts and willing to replace you. It has come to my attention that one of those has even visited your chambers regularly.

As you are my Head of the House, I would like to come forward with my little problem. It seems the Headmaster is unwilling to allow me to visit my friend at his little Christmas Ball. I would simply love to attend, and I'm sure you could show the Headmaster why I should be allowed this privilege. And since I do not have proper Dress Robes, it would be beneficial for both of us, if I joined you on your next trip to Hogsmeade. You wouldn't want me to embarrass our House by going to a high class party in rags?

It seems I have come along a lot of information about you lately. And I will have a very accurate ear on you in the future. I think you would like me to come to you with my questions, and not search knowledge from another source, let's say for an example my very good friend Draco Malfoy.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Potter

Post scriptum, I would also be very grateful if you explained me what the "walls" are around your mind.

Snape read the letter with his eyes widening in disbelief. He stared at his table for a moment, before rereading it. Suddenly he crumpled it into a small paper ball and threw it across the room in anger. How dare that little brat try to think that he had something over him? He hadn't been the Head of Slytherin this long without learning how to deal with blackmailing. But he couldn't help being curious of what was the brat's source of information. And if it had been Potter who brought him to his chambers last night, he wanted to know what else he had done to him.

With a scowl, Snape stalked to the little piece of paper and picked it up. Carefully he straightened it and read it through once more. As he read the last line his lips curved in a cruel smile. If the brat wanted to learn Occlumency, he's give him the means to do it. He picked up the book meant for the masters of occlumency from his bookshelf and placed it on his table. He'd send it when the time was right. But now he had to have a meeting with Albus about more than a few things.

It was one of those cool winter days when the sun was shining brightly without offering any warmth. As Harry was walking towards Hogsmeade he could nearly feel the sun mocking him. The cold had never bothered him that much, but it had forced him to leave Sassnah behind. He couldn't keep the snake around him while buying new robes, and allowing her to wander around in such a cold day was too dangerous.

It was funny how fast he had gotten use to the presence of the snake. Now, without her, he was feeling somewhat naked, like a part of him was missing. Maybe that was the reason why the feeling of someone following him was making him nervous.

Harry had separated from professor Snape at the entrance of Hogwarts. He had been given the lecture of what not to do, and strict orders to meet him in front of the Post Office in two hours. If he had been shopping for Christmas presents, like the Headmaster had been told, the time would have been nowhere near enough. But all he needed was the dress robes for the Malfoy Christmas ball. Thus, he headed straight towards Gladrags Wizardwear.

The shop was filled with clothes so colourful that it made his eyes hurt. He felt a sudden gratefulness in whatever it was that had made him draw a sketch of the robes he wanted beforehand. He had a feeling that if the shopkeeper could choose, he would be clothed in pink or yellow or some other clashing colour.

"A customer! What a surprise, I wasn't expecting anyone. What would you like? I have some grand new clothes transported straight from London, they are the finest you can get at the moment," an old lady advertised as she appeared from the back room and started fussing around Harry. She was definitely responsible for the layout of the shop. Even her long hair, that must have been already gray when Harry was born, had been coloured violet.

Harry let her take the measurements in peace, but as soon as she was starting to show him different materials he took out the sketch he had drawn and gave it to the lady.

"I want you to make these for me." She took the sketch and looked at it for a moment with a frown on her face.

"Are you sure? These look so… dull. I could add some colour to them!"


"How about some extra buttons or something to cheer these up?"


"At least let me add your family crest to them. With you and your great uncle being the only Potters alive, I'm sure he wouldn't mind you using them. How is he by the way? I haven't seen him since my graduation! But I still try to keep an ear open on news about him. My big sister used to have such a crush on him! I'm sure he wouldn't remember her, and even less me, the scrawny first year… But could you pass my regards to him?" The lady had gotten a dreamy look on her face, but Harry was too shocked inside to even hear what she was saying.

He had a great uncle. Why hadn't Dumbledore sent him to his magical relative instead of Dursleys? He had to find out who this great uncle of his was. If he was still active in the war, he'd have a clear reason to pay attention to Harry. And if he and Dumbledore didn't agree for some reason, he would be the perfect source of support for Harry. That is, if he wasn't in league with the Dark Lord…

"So I can add the crest? I think it would look fine on the left, on top of your heart." Harry only nodded in agreement and watched as the woman rushed to her desk and started to scribble something down.

"They'll be ready tomorrow, would you like me to send them to you by owl? I will have to add the posting fee if that's the case." Harry looked at the price she had written for him and handed the right sum of money without a second thought. With a little bow to the old lady, he stepped out of the shop and rested his eyes on the calm and pure white scene in front of him.

He was just fastening the scarf around his neck, when his eyes caught a familiar shade of blond hair. The man was obviously not Draco, being almost twice the height of the young Malfoy, but they had to be relatives. Harry was nearly certain that this was the infamous host of the coming Christmas Ball.

What caught Harry's eyes more than the impressive blond form walking down the street was a shady figure following the man. It was obvious that the figure tried to stay unnoticed and unrecognizable. As the elder Malfoy entered the front door of the Hog's Head, the stalker sneaked behind the building and entered a small service door.

Harry stood still for a few silent moments. He knew he shouldn't even consider following, but the situation was just too tempting. He was still feeling a little unsure about going to the Malfoy's, since he didn't have any idea of what to expect. Sure he had heard rumours about the elder Malfoy, but he had never been one to put trust on gossip. A strange feeling overcame him and he knew he just had to find out what the stalker wanted out of the Malfoy. For once in his life he was going to act like a Gryffindor.

Harry didn't waste time after making up his mind. He walked casually to the Hog's Head, and after making sure there were no other curious eyes watching his actions, he sneaked inside through the service door.

He had known the stalker was nowhere near professional, but after seeing the melting snow on the floor, he nearly laughed out loud. The tiny room he had entered consisted only of two doors and one stairs. It wasn't hard to tell that the earlier visitor had gone right, up the stairs. Harry hesitated again before slowly proceeding up with a wand ready in his hand.

As he reached the top of the stairs he saw one of the three doors up there slightly open. Seeing the door Harry knew he had been stupid. Someone had intentionally lured him in, since nobody was that obvious. He started to back away from the door towards the exit when a hand landed on his mouth and another took a hold of his wand from behind. Harry tried to struggle away, but the hands pulled him into the room.

"Can you be quiet, or do I have to curse you? If you yell, the attention you get will not help you," a surprisingly young voice whispered to his ear. Harry nodded hastily and his captor released him, but took away his wand.

Harry turned around to see the face of the other person in the room. To his surprise the boy was only about few years older than him, and looked vaguely familiar. He was about to open his mouth and ask the boy about all of this, but the boy urgently stepped closer to him and quieted him again.

"Be quiet! I found out about a meeting that's going to be held in the room below. I talked to Flint the other night about this and he said that you might be interested in hearing this too… He also told me you wouldn't believe if you didn't hear it with your own ears, so I tricked you. Sorry about the spell on you, I'll remove it now." He whispered to Harry's ear and waved his wand. Harry felt as if a blocking cloud had been removed from his mind. He hadn't even noticed the difference before.

"I don't dare to use any listening magic, but if we kneel right there, we should be able to hear everything."

Harry kneeled down next to the other boy and pressed his head down just in time to hear the door below open and close with a click.

"…and you know it."

"Yes, of course, the Ministry will not be a problem! I can handle everything just fine, and dear Barnabas is more than qualified to keep the Prophet in line! All I'm worried about is Dumbledore…"

"Severus will be keeping eye on Hogwarts."

"Are you sure it's enough? What about our other spy, she could…" A sudden smack interrupted the man.

"You imbecile!"


"Nothing, Snape will handle everything there. All you have to worry about is the public and press. We don't want them to know anything yet."

"Well, when will our Lord want the people learn about his glorious return?" Harry could hear the other man beginning to answer when he was rudely interrupted pulled up by the other boy. One look in his face showed Harry that the situation was urgent, so he didn't fight back as he was rushed down the stairs and out of the building.

They ran together to the relative dark shadows behind the Scrivenshaft's before stopping to even their breaths. The other boy held out Harry's wand for him to take it. Harry took it with relief, but at the same time he was slightly concerned on how dependent he had become to little the piece of wood.

"Sorry about that, I was too concentrated on listening that I almost missed the alarm I had set going off. Waitress, you know." Harry only nodded in understanding. Although he had his suspicions, he didn't think the other boy was against him, if Flint had ordered him to talk to Harry. And he couldn't imagine him lying about something that could be proven wrong by one question.

"I hope you don't have hard feelings… It felt like a good idea when I first thought it. But I guess it was quit pointless in the end. Anyhow, if you ever need anything to be brought to you in Hogwarts, I'm your man. My brother runs a little organisation and Flint told us you're trustworthy. Just give either of us a call, my name is…"

"Mr Davies! Mr Potter! May I ask what are you still doing here? Potter, you were supposed to meet me 20 minutes ago at the Post Office, do I look like a man that likes to stand around and wait for you to show up? Report to my office on the first week of classes for your detention! Both of you! Now Potter, follow!"

Snape barked out before turning around and hurrying towards Hogwarts. Harry followed him without a word and only gave Davies a quick glance to see how he had turned nearly as white as the snow at the sudden appearance of the Professor.

"Did it work?"

"Yes, my Lord, he followed him like a little puppy."

"Did he hear only what he was supposed to hear?"
"Did he?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Good, and now we have a little spy among them as well… I'm starting to look forward to your little party even though I'm not attending."
"I have invited all the families with any power left. I hope everything is as you wished, my Lord."

"Good! You've done well, but do you know what you have forgotten, Lucius? I hate mistakes, but even more I hate those who try to hide something from me."
"My Lord?"



I'm not sure if there is anyone who still follows this story since it's been ages since I updated, but if there is, I'd like to express how much it pleases me. I will not give you excuses and reasons why I didn't update. Nobody ever cares about them anyhow. I did give you a new chapter however…

At this point, after a year of writing nothing, author tends to doubt his/her skill. The mere thought of someone waiting an update for this long, and getting a lousy chapter in return, saddens me. And I do apologize to all of you who think this chapter was a disappointment. I did rewrite it 5 times, but I had to go on from somewhere.

Like I said in the beginning, I will not give up on this story. It might take me long (hopefully not another year, though) to update, but I will update for as long as I am alive.