Chapter Twelve

Harry glanced at the carriages in distaste, hissing soothing tones as Deimos curled closer in the cool autumn air. His emerald eyes traveled over the worn, wooden seats and the dirt covered wheels. Let me guess – Dumbledore's keeping tradition alive again.

Harry gave a slight sniff before motioning Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle onto the rickety benches of the carriage. He followed pulling out his wand and conjuring a simple Slytherin green pillow with silver stitching to sit on. Another flick and a similarly styled handkerchief appeared. Harry shook it out and smoothed it on the bench beside him before perching Deimos' cage on it.

He looked up at a sudden gust of autumn air, and met the adorably – though he'd never admit it – pleading silver eyes of Draco.

"What?" He half-snapped. Draco blinked once. "Oh fine. Simply because I don't want to hear you blathering about it later." A quick swish of his wand and comfortable pillows identical to his own appeared beneath each of the other three Slytherins, though you could barely tell with Crabbe and Goyle.

I must get them on some sort of diet. Harry remarked quietly in his head as the carriage began to roll down the lane towards Hogwarts. I don't know how Draco stands it, but I refuse to see that everyday for the rest of the school year.

When the quartet arrived at the school gates, Harry left the carriage, handing Deimos' cage off to Crabbe. He started towards the doors, commanding Draco to follow him when he attempted to retrieve the pillow Harry had conjured for him. Though he knew he'd regret it somehow, he promised to make another one at some point after he had settled in again.

After that, Draco happily walked beside him, with his two shadows trailing, and 'entertained' Harry with tales of his summer. Harry directed Crabbe to leave Deimos' cage in the entrance hall with the other Slytherins' luggage – he didn't trust the house elves to handle it carefully enough – all the while listening to Draco's somewhat welcome chatter with one ear.

However, as soon as they passed through the doors to the Great Hall, Draco's cool demeanor faded into place – he must have practiced over the summer, Harry noted absently – and they headed towards their table, one of the last groups to arrive.

As they settled into their seats, Harry glanced at the head table and sought out the eyes of his favorite professor. Instead of the usual, small smirk, Harry received an angry glare. He blinked confusedly and looked down at his plate momentarily before turning to Draco.

"Is Professor Snape glaring at me?"

Draco took a quick glance around Harry's slight form and replied unsurely, "I think so." With a somewhat more joking tone of voice he asked, "What'd you do to piss him off already?" He shook Pansy off with one arm – she had somehow weaseled between him and Goyle – and glanced at the head table one more time. His eyes found Harry's cold emerald gaze and he abruptly stopped snickering. "Never mind."

"I'll pretend I didn't hear it."

Harry gave a small sigh and waited impatiently for the sorting and Dumbledore's announcements to end. When the food finally appeared, he served himself a little of everything and began to quietly eat his meal all the while mulling over what he may have done to upset his head of house.

To others, Harry appeared perfectly normal – quiet and refined as he usually was, though perhaps a little weary from the trip. However, to Draco and some of his other year mates, Harry was almost too quiet and seemed a little depressed. Wisely, the others kept to themselves and left Harry to feed Deimos the rarer meat. Trying to cheer him up would only result in an angry Parselmouth and thus, a large, pissed off snake.

The next morning, everyone in the hall could obviously tell Harry was in a rotten mood. His normal complexion was a little pale and he had dark circles beneath his eyes, telling of a night with little to no sleep. Even his snake appeared surly and overtired, which meant everyone gave both a wide berth – excluding Draco of course.

Quiet for once, Draco was sitting cautiously beside Harry who was delicately buttering himself a piece of toast while Deimos was loading his plate with bacon and ham – the eggs weren't easily speared by his fangs so he left those to his owner.

As usual, Snape, and the other Heads of House, had begun passing out their students' schedules. The Slytherins waited quietly, consuming their meal slowly, until the professor came and greeted them.

Snape drew nearer, and Draco felt Harry tense beside him.

"Good morning, Mr. Malfoy." He nodded at the blonde and passed him his schedule.

Harry perked up in his seat, "Sir, I –" The piece of parchment was shoved in his face and Snape cut him off with a quiet greeting to Crabbe as he moved on.

Visibly deflating, Harry watched Deimos scarf down a piece of ham from his plate. He glanced at his schedule, noting he had Potions with the Gryffindors first followed by Defense against the Dark Arts, also with Gryffindors. What a wonderful day, he thought sarcastically.

Budging Draco from his seat, they headed off towards the Potions classroom, Draco quiet and following one step behind. Students slowly filed in behind them, several darting in the room the seconds before the bell rang and Snape swept into the room, pulling the door shut heavily.

"Summer assignments on the front desk." He waved his wand. "Directions are on the board. Whoever you are sitting with now will be your partner for the rest of the year." Snape sat behind his desk and pulled the stack of summer assignments towards him.

Half an hour into the lesson, Harry was glancing curiously at his potion and the next two ingredients. Deciding he wouldn't know unless he asked, Harry raised his hand and called out, "Professor, why do the tortoise shells –"

"Detention, Potter. For asking questions." He never even looked up from the papers he was grading.

The entire room froze, all the quiet chatter between partners ended abruptly, and even the hissing from the cauldrons diminished. Some of the Gryffindors were gaping – and some Slytherins too, though much less obviously – as they all stared at Snape. His behavior was so unusual – in regards to Slytherins –, and even unfair, that the entire class was unable to figure out what was wrong.

"Back to work!" Snape snapped into the silence, and the students hurried back to work, still contemplating the Potions professor's mood.

Draco walked beside Harry to Defense, glancing sideways at the impressively neutral face the twelve year old beside him had. Even Deimos, usually a great indicator of Harry's mood, was blank – if a snake could even have an expression anyways.

They moved into the classroom, sitting down exactly in the middle. From where they were, hundreds of portraits, of all different shapes and sizes – though sadly all of the same person –, smiled down at them, teeth sparkling impossibly.

Once the entire class had arrived and settled down, the office door burst open with a cry of "Good morning, everyone!" Framed in the doorway, not one hair out of place, stood Gilderoy Lockhart – a man that they would soon find out to be possibly one of the least intelligent beings to ever 'grace' the earth.

He continued out of the doorway, smiling at the swooning girls and waving to his portraits on the walls – all of which also waved back.

"I am Gilderoy Lockhart, your new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award. I will teach you how to stop some of the most dangerous creatures known to wizard-kind." He flourished his cape and leant against the desk at the front of the class in a confident manner – if he hadn't missed the edge of the desk in the first place, Harry would have given him points for good showing. "I have slain werewolves terrorizing children, fought with crazed banshees, and defeated armies of trolls in only a day's work. See my published works for full details." He flashed his award winning smile and the girls sighed.

"Moving on!" He proclaimed, walking to his desk and grabbing a stack of papers. "I've created a little test – nothing to worry about – on my books. Just to see how much you've retained, what you've learned, etcetera." He began passing out the tests. "You will have 30 minutes to complete the test. You may all begin – now!"

Harry wrote his name at the top of the test before glancing down at the first few questions.

1. What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color?

2. What is Gilderoy Lockhart's secret ambition?

And so on and so forth over two sheets of paper. Harry glanced over it again, trying to understand the stupidity before him as Draco snorted at the questions on his right.

Deciding he'd really rather cut his losses, Harry stood up and burned the parchment with a very annoyed, "Incendio."

"Mr. Potter!" Lockhart exclaimed, flourishing over as the class watched the disturbance. "Is there something wrong?" He asked in a somewhat simpering tone.

Harry raised an eyebrow and stated clearly, "I should not have to waste my time with this rubbish. There are much more important things I would rather spend my time on." His voice became a little colder as he picked up his bag. "I'll be going now. When you have managed to become somewhat competent – though I seriously doubt the likelihood of that – I will return. Until then, good day." He gave a little nod towards Lockhart before heading towards the door.

"Mr. Potter! Mr. Potter! Please return to your seat!" The professor started after Harry, one hand reaching out, but stopped when he almost lost said hand to a very large, very unhappy snake.

The door slammed shut and Lockhart stared at it in silence for a few moments. Finally he turned and gave a little clap of his hands. "Well! What an exciting start to a new year at Hogwarts!" He flashed a smile. "Back to your tests, please! You only have 25 minutes left!"

Outside, Harry gave an odd frustrated sigh of relief and exasperation. He still hadn't figured out why his favorite professor was being so cold. And now he even had a detention from said favorite professor!

He hissed soothing sounds at Deimos who was worrying incessantly about his 'Harry Master'.

Harry pushed himself off of the wall he had leant against and began walking slowly in the direction of the dungeons.

He hadn't read those idiotic books in the first place anyways.

Harry meandered down the dark dungeon hallway to the Slytherin common room to await the arrival of lunch. He paused as he passed the potion's classroom, ears perking to figure out if Severus was in. There was a rustle of clothes and Harry gave a small, hopeful smile before adjusting his robes and knocking on the door.

The room beyond descended further into silence, but there was no tell-tale swish of robes or firm click of boots on the floor.

Harry waited a moment longer and then scrunched his face up and grumbled for a second, mock kicking the door in aggravation – no one was around, and he was certainly entitled to throw a tantrum if he wished to, even if they were below him.

He turned from the door and continued down the hallway, settling into the quiet of the Slytherin common room with relative ease. Setting his bag down on the table by the fire, he pulled out his potion's homework and quill.

As the clock ticked slowly, Harry set to work, viciously lacing his entire essay with rude innuendo about his potion's professor.

Down the hall, the Potions Master glared into his cauldron as its contents sluggishly boiled away.

Lunch and afternoon classes passed in their annoyingly normal back-to-school way and Harry soon found himself seated at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, Draco loudly bubbling away on his right as Blaise perused a short novel to his left.

A sharp glare muted Draco, though the tense, bouncing motions continued.

Food appeared in front of Harry, along with a note written in a familiar, scrawling script.

Harry Potter is required to attend detention with

Professor Severus Snape on the 6th of September at

6:00 pm in the Potions Classroom.

Draco leaned over his shoulder and scanned the note silently, before returning to his meal. When Harry sighed and shuffled a few bites into his mouth before turning his attention to Deimos, Draco sent an angry glare at his Head of House.

He was certain the next few days would be dreadfully silent and depressing. Draco had learned early on last year that unhappy Harry meant – or better mean – unhappy everyone.

Draco sighed wearily as he pushed his breakfast around on his plate. He had been right. Four days ago Harry had received notice of his detention and ever since that point in time the Slytherin common room had become a no conversation zone. In fact, students did not even bother working on their homework there; instead they found solace with the rest of the house at the tables in the far back right corner of the library.

In addition to the overwhelming silence, Harry had become snappy, moody, and had somehow reached a new level of negativity – if you managed to get him to talk.

He glanced at the boy beside him and stood up from the table, excusing himself as he set off towards the dungeons. When he passed through the doors and they swung firmly shut behind him, he yelled in frustration before straightening his tie and moving onward to his destination.

Back in the Great Hall, people ignored the frustrated noise as it filtered through the doors.

The entire school felt as though a great shadow had settled over it ever since news of Harry's detention found its way through the Hogwart's grapevine. Even the first years knew to keep quiet and keep their snuffling to a minimum.

Of course, some people just can't stay quiet for long.

As soon as Harry's blonde companion had left, Hogwart's most famous red-headed troublemakers had already loped over to Harry and planted themselves on either side of him as he played with his food.

Deimos hissed in warning.

Harry glanced at them through his bangs, his lips tightening as he resumed the artistic massacre of his breakfast.

The red head beside him, mostly likely Fred, planted an elbow on the table and clucked quietly, "Come now, Harry. That's no way to treat guests."

Harry viciously knocked the boy's elbow from the table, lips curling into the tiniest of smirks when Fred's forehead collided with the table. "It's impolite to rest your elbows on the dining table."

On his other side, George chuckled quietly, and touched Harry's shoulder to capture his attention.

The heavy emerald gaze flickered over and found his immediately. George froze and then relaxed, "If you're done slaughtering our humble school's most delicious cuisine..."

"Why don't you join us for a little chat?" Fred winked at him and added, "Cutie."

Harry stood abruptly and marched away from the table towards the doors.

"Oh! Look, Forge! He agrees!"

The twins cornered Harry as soon as he left the Great Hall.

"So," began George, "We've noticed that our dear Potions Master has been ignoring you as of late…" Harry glowered at him.

"Forge! What an impolite thing to say! The poor, adorable thing has practically had his heart harvested by Snape for a potion's experiment!"

If possible, Harry's glower worsened and he scowled mentally. He was certainly not a 'poor, adorable thing'! He was absolutely terrifying! The whole school refused to speak in his presence! And for good reason. He'd take their heads off if they so much as blinked at him wrong.

"Now he's sulking, Gred! He's moved from moping to sulking!"

Harry huffed. He most certainly had not been moping!

"My dear Forge! Sulking and moping are the same thing!"

"I'm sure there are technical differences, Gred."

Fred sighed dramatically. "It becomes more and more obvious as the years go on that I am both the better-looking and more intelligent of the two of us."

A/N: I've had this written since I posted Chapter 11... I finally just decided to give you the half or third that I'd written of Chapter 12 and be done with it (I have the entire thing planned out!!)... cause the story ends in a different place in my mind than yours, so I kept thinking it's fine to leave it there for now while I apply for college, do college visits, apply for scholarships, work my butt off in biology, study for AP tests, OCD over the yearbook, and attempt to finish all my calc homework because I put it off for some reason. You have no idea how much I would like to keep writing.. and I even have a totally new awesome plot bunny!!

Oh well... I'll try.. though that really doesn't mean much.. and I'll be taking college courses during the summer too... no rest...