Disclaimer – The world of Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling and various publishers. I make no claim to ownership; I'm just playing in her sandbox whilst I get these story ideas out of my head. Bloody muse won't leave me alone.

Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past -

Chapter 7

The rest of May passed much more pleasantly for Harry. Not being shunned by the school for losing a hundred and fifty points was a lot better than the last time. Those were some of the best galleons I ever spent, he mused as he went to transfiguration with a clear conscience and a spring in his step.

The twins eventually got the Dungbombs for Harry to give to Peeves… but only after they'd, er, weaselled the entire story out of him. Needless to say, they were impressed.

"So let me get this straight-"

"You need the Dungbombs-"

"To give to Peeves, of all things—"

"No telling what he'll use them for—"

"Too true, oh brother of mine—"

"To pay him off for trashing the Divination Tower—"

"Smashed all Trelawney's tea cups, he did---"

"So you could smuggle out a dragon—"

"That was hatched illegally by Hagrid."

"From an egg he won in a card game."

Harry looked thoughtful and then nodded. "That about sums it up."

Gred and Forge looked at each other and then leaned forward, peering closely at Harry.

"No signs of dye."

"Even the roots are black."

They leaned even closer.

"Not a freckle in sight."

"Cosmetic charms?"

"Wouldn't hold up for a whole Quidditch practice."

"Too true, Angelina told me that once."

They looked at each other and nodded again.

"Right Harrikins, what colour was your mum's hair?"

"Er, a sort of auburn," Harry replied, wondering where this was going.

"Well, it couldn't have been his mum what strayed--"

"Not with all that black hair of his."

"And it couldn't be our mum—"

"Because she was occupied with ickle Ronnikins."

"Would you care to explain what you're talking about," Harry asked coldly. "While you still can?"

"Well, we're trying to figure out—"

"Because it seems impossible to me—"

"How they went and got a Weasley—"

"With black hair?"

Harry looked from one twin to the other and then burst out laughing.

With Hagrid's crisis abated, Hermione rededicated herself to her study project. She didn't tell them precisely what she was pursuing; perhaps realizing that Harry's reticence might be for a reason.

Of course it was too good to last.

Harry had just slipped into the restricted section and replaced Moste Obscure Enchantments on the shelves when he heard a voice behind him.

"Back again, Harry?"

Harry twitched under the cloak. He turned slowly to see Professor Dumbledore running a long finger down one of the dusty shelves.

"There is a certain allure, I suppose, to forbidden knowledge. But there is a reason that we have a restricted section. Much of this is dangerous, Harry, both for you… or for your friends."

He knows, dammit! Harry fumed while trying to maintain a steady expression. He let the hood fall back and tried not too look too guilty. He said friends too… Snape might have recognized a title from Hermione's memories. That means he's still probing her, the bastard. He fanned the flames of anger. Anger was easier to manage, and more useful for this confrontation. "Well, what did you expect me to use this for?" he asked, gesturing with a flap of the invisibility cloak. "Tormenting Mrs. Norris?"

Only someone who spent hours at a time talking to an animated portrait of the headmaster would catch the flicker of surprise. The headmaster smiled benignly. "That's an interesting assumption."

"Not particularly," Harry said coolly. "The note said they got the cloak from my father. Given when he died, that would mean someone who was at Hogwarts the same time he was. Professor McGonagall was his head of house, but you know how she is about rules, and she'd never go behind your back. Hagrid was a friend, but bless his soul he can't keep a secret." Harry kicked himself about not appearing too knowledgeable. "Professor Snape was in the same year as my father, but I can't imagine him not keeping it," he added.

Dumbledore nodded. "Not an unlikely bit of reasoning. But I will admit I did not expect you to abuse a family heirloom in this fashion. There are dangerous books here, Harry, ones that are kept out of the hands of students for a reason," he said sagely.

"Funny, I always thought knowledge wasn't evil. Rather, it was how it was used that could be evil… He's still doing it, you know. Snape."

"Professor Snape, Harry," Dumbledore corrected automatically, "and he assures me that he is not doing anything harmful to you or any other students."

Harry shook his head. "He's being more subtle with whatever it is he's doing, but I can still feel… well, something. If you want to just tell me what it is, we can save everyone a lot of time."

The headmaster's blue eyes were still twinkling, but his eyebrows lowered a fraction. "Harry, I'm sorry, but I cannot allow you to dictate terms. You must accept that Professor Snape has my utmost confidence, and that nothing is being done that is against your own best interest. You should probably return to your dormitory before Mr. Filch catches you out."

Harry stared into the headmaster's eyes, daring him to test his Occlumency again. The old man did not take to the bait however, for which Harry was actually a little glad. Outwardly, he just shrugged. "Maybe Beauxbatons doesn't get as cold in the winter," he said as he pulled his hood up and left.

Harry ground his teeth all the way back to the Gryffindor common room. He removed the cloak just out of sight of the Fat Lady's portrait. When he walked in, Hermione was the only one of his friends still up. She sat on one of the couches with her bag open next to her and her transfiguration book in her lap.

She looked up expectantly as he sat down. "Did you find it?" she asked in a low voice.

Harry shook his head. "Dumbledore was there waiting for me. He knows, Hermione. And he knew you were involved."

She blanched and swallowed. "But Harry, I haven't told anyone about this!"

Harry looked thoughtful. "Are you sure, Hermione?"

She nodded her eyes wide. Harry noticed her lower lip was trembling.

Harry snorted. "Don't worry, of course I believe you. I'm just trying to figure out how they found out, that's all. You haven't written anything down have you?"

"No, just the lists I gave you," she said with concern.

"And I burned those afterward."

Hermione stared off into space, completely motionless. Harry held his breath. "Do you suppose…" she began, her voice trailing off. She frowned and looked directly at Harry. "Maybe those headaches you got…. Do you think he might have been trying to read your mind or something? I've read about people doing that in books, though usually it's an alien or something, though I suppose Professor Snape acts a bit like one. Maybe he's doing it to me, only I don't feel it. Oh no!"

Harry had to fight to keep an elated grin off his face and look properly shocked. She'd worked it out on her own, from just a few clues, most of which were supplied by Snape and Dumbledore themselves. However, she didn't look triumphant; rather she looked like she wanted to cry.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, concerned.

"But Harry, that means I did betray you then," Hermione wailed. "He must have read it out of my mind. That's the only explanation that fits all the facts. He… he was inside my mind." She shuddered. "That awful man!" she snapped.

"Hermione, that is in no way, shape, or form, your fault," Harry said firmly. "I think we now have an extra summer project… just try not to think too much about it until we leave, okay?"

Hermione nodded silently. She leaned forward suddenly and gave Harry a quick hug around the neck. Then she jumped up off the couch and bolted up the stairs to the girls' dormitory.

Harry sat on the couch, a little flustered. He didn't think she meant anything by that-- she'd always been affectionate, at least with him. And she'd also had a rather nasty shock herself. It was still the first real hug of any sort he'd had in this timeline, at least since his parents were alive.

With that cheerful thought to keep him company, Harry climbed the stairs to his dormitory and his latest letter. He was especially late getting to sleep that night, and barely awoke in time for the morning run.

After that discussion though, Harry knew he had to distract attention from Hermione, at least until summer holiday. Every time he walked into the potions lab, he would deliberately fracture his Occlumency shields. Instead of visualizing a smooth expanse of seamless metal, he let them become rusted and buckled in places, as if they were worn out or collapsing under some horrific strain. Those subtle probings from Snape were suddenly multiplied once he was no longer immediately rebuffed. Harry also deliberately stoked his fury at the man who tried so hard to make his life a living hell. This ensured that when he did pry at the gaps in Harry's mental defences, the potions teacher would get little more than jumbled images and an extremely unpleasant emotional backlash.

Sure enough, Snape took the bait and would constantly be working on Harry's shields from beginning of class to the end. Harry was actually relieved to feel the greasy git constantly trying to get into his mind. The ghost of pain radiating from his scar was another thing entirely though. That could only be Voldemort's anticipation building.

With the groundwork laid for Hermione discovering Legilimency, Harry could focus on the end of term. His friends were concerned about doing well on their exams, but Harry was also thinking about his confrontation with Quirrell.

Harry personally had no grudge against the young professor. He was just another victim of Voldemort. But Harry also knew the man's fate was sealed. Once he stopped resisting Voldemort's possession, once the man's evil had seeped into his body and soul, removing it would kill him instantly. The man was really dead the moment he'd been taken. Harry's nemesis had just been wearing him since then, like an old coat.

Hermione set up a study schedule for them, and Harry was pleased to see no one winding her up about it, even Ron. The bushy-headed witch had a little more confidence than before, perhaps from her friends, perhaps from the martial arts. Either way, she wasn't quite as hysterical about their grades, and didn't try to be such a taskmaster for their study group.

Harry felt a little odd as his friends sat in the sun near the lake after their History of Magic examination. He was going to face Voldemort that night, when he made his attempt on the Sorcerer's Stone. He was fairly confident, but anything could happen. Anything could go wrong. This might be his last chance to see his friends, and he felt a little disconnected from it all. He was glad that he'd timed it so he wasn't sending off a letter to Ginny today; the risk was too high that he'd let something slip to her, something he couldn't let her know yet. As much as he was dreading having to reveal everything to his friends, all his manipulations and deceit, not having anyone to talk to was even worse. He just hoped they'd be willing to talk to him after they knew the truth.

"All right, Harry?" Neville's voice shook Harry out of his reverie.

Harry looked up at his friend's concerned face. He rubbed at the scar on his forehead. "It's been hurting a bit lately. Probably just stress."

Ron and Hermione broke off their conversation and looked over at Harry.

"I'm fine," he said irritably. "I'm just worn out and I feel like something odd is going on around here."

"At Hogwarts, mate? Who'd have thunk it?" Ron said with a grin.

Harry chuckled and they lay back on the warm grass and talked about their summer plans.

"My Gran is talking about getting the greenhouse fixed up this summer," Neville informed them, but then he frowned, "if my Herbology marks are high enough, that is."

"Neville, you were practically tutoring us all in Herbology this year," Hermione reminded him.

"She's right, mate," Ron agreed. "Don't think we're doing anything special at The Burrow, though Bill may come up to visit for a bit. What about you, Hermione?"

"My parents usually take me on holiday to the continent. It's only for a couple of weeks. I expect I'll stay busy though." She glanced at Harry.

Harry knew what she'd be doing. He'd already sent a letter to Flourish and Blotts adding a large number of galleons to her tab there.

"What about you, Harry?" Neville asked curiously.

Harry shrugged. "Same old mess. Cooking, cleaning, and gardening for the Dursleys."

Ron scowled. "I'll talk to Mum. You should be able to stay over for a couple of weeks. All of you."

"Ron, are you sure it won't be an imposition?" Hermione asked.

"Nah, not as long as I ask first. Bill and Charlie had friends over all the time when they were in school. Lee Jordan spent half of last summer with the twins. It's not a big deal," Ron said, replying to Hermione, but he was looking toward Harry the whole time.

"I'll see if can get permission," Harry said resignedly. "Just send me an owl when you know." Hopefully I can find a way to keep Dobby out of my mail this time.

When they finally got up to head in for dinner, Harry felt strangely invigorated. He was soon to confront the madman that murdered his parents, and by the way also wanted him dead as well, but still he was at peace.

Harry had several advantages, including what he hoped was total surprise. Unfortunately, with the Horcruxes still out there, it would be impossible to do more than force Voldemort to abandon his current host. Saving the stone would have to be enough for now. At this juncture, Harry had a lot more to lose than his enemy.

Afterwards, Harry would have been hard put to recall anything he'd eaten that night. Instead, he remembered looking at his friends and wondering if he'd ever see them again. He put away his morbid thoughts as they made their way back to the Gryffindor tower, Ron and Neville talking about the upcoming match against Ravenclaw.

Begging off with a headache and rubbing at his scar, Harry went to bed early. Once under the canopy, he wrapped the invisibility cloak around himself and crept back out the portrait hole again. Harry hurried as much as he could, dodging around the last couple of students that were heading back to their rooms. He'd prefer to confront Quirrell early on, rather than having to fight through the puzzles to follow the Defence professor.

His luck held until he hit the third floor staircase and ran into Peeves.

"Who's there?" the poltergeist cackled. "Know you're there, even if I can't see you. Are you a ghoulie, ghostie, or wee student beastie?"

"Out of my way, Peeves," Harry whispered fiercely. "No time to play. And no matter what you do, don't tell Professor Dumbledore I'm here! Tell anyone else if you like, but not him!"

"Well since you asked so nicely, that's exactly what I'll do!" Peeves' wicked black eyes sparkled and then he was hurling down the hallway. "Gots a message for Dumbly-Door! Yes Peeves does! Going to tell him right off!" Maniacal laughter trailed off down the hallway.

Harry knew that Dumbledore had been called away by the ministry – which was why Quirrell chose this night. Peeves would hopefully be side-tracked until this was all over.

He approached the door to Fluffy's room, which was standing ajar, just as the last strains of harp music died away. A robed figure was reaching for the trapdoor just as Harry sent a stinging hex into the three-headed dog's haunch.

Three pairs of very angry eyes popped open and the massive dog pounced with a blood-curdling snarl. In a thrice, Quirrell was picked up and hurled bodily into the wall, bleeding from multiple bites on his arms and torso.

He didn't drop his wand however, and an instant later a high-pitched voice shrieked "Stupefy!" The red ray of light threw Fluffy back and the massive dog crumpled up at the base of the opposite wall.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry's spell was an instant later, and Quirrell, caught off guard, stared in shock as his wand flew through the air toward the seemingly empty doorway. Harry reached out and caught the wand out of the air, letting the cloak fall back.

"Potter," Quirrell gasped sitting up. "No!" a higher pitched voice snarled.

"Tom, you didn't think the headmaster would just simply leave, did you? Not when that might present a… temptation to the less trustworthy staff members," Harry said coolly.

"He knew?" Quirrell whispered. His already pale skin was becoming like milk now, and his wounds bled freely.

Harry knew the man was not long for this world; his misinformation was intended for Voldemort's ears. "The moment you returned, Quirinus. He just couldn't find anyone to take your place at that point. You can thank your master for that, at least," he concluded sadly.

"He can… make him bring us the stone…" Quirrell's eyes closed and he winced as the higher pitched voice rasped from the back of his turban.

Harry rocked back a step as he felt Voldemort battering at his mental defences. His scar ached abominably for an instant before he was able to shrug off the assault.

"You would… do better… to join us. Bring me… the stone, and I…"

"Sorry, old boy," Harry said in a bored tone. He pocketed his wand and then tossed Quirrell's over his shoulder. "You made your choice when you killed my parents." He stepped forward. "Let's test Mum's handiwork, shall we?" He reached out and grabbed Quirrell's wrist.

Harry's knees buckled as the pain from his scar made his head feel like it was splitting open. He stayed silent though, as Quirrell shrieked. Harry stabbed out with his Legilimency and Voldemort's shrieks joined those of his doomed minion.

Harry's ears were near to bursting from the sound when the back of Quirrell's turban burst asunder and the man slumped to the ground. The pain from Harry's scar cut off instantly and he fell to his knees.

In the sudden silence, Harry could hear rapid footsteps and voices approaching. With fumbling fingers he pulled the invisibility cloak off and shoved the gossamer fabric under his robes. He was trembling, trying to climb to his feet, when Professor McGonagall stepped into the doorway and let out a choked cry.

"Hello, Professor," Harry said as he lurched forward. "I got a really bad feeling from my scar, and I knew something was going to happen." He blinked and shook his head. "Voldemort was in his head, but when he touched me it burned him."

Harry was more than a little out of it, so he let McGonagall usher him to the hospital wing. Honestly, he was a little surprised he wasn't completely knocked out like last time. He still felt horribly weak though.

He was resting on a bed when Dumbledore arrived, looking very grave.

"Harry, I'd like you to tell me why you went to the third floor corridor tonight," he said in a very soft voice.

"Well sir, I've had a headache the last day or so. Not the headache I get when Professor Snape is doing whatever he does. This was sharper, and centred around that scar on my forehead. I tried to go to sleep after dinner, but suddenly I couldn't. I felt compelled to… no, that isn't the right word. I felt like something was happening and I had to get up there. I saw Professor Quirrell trying to sneak past that huge guard dog and I knew he was up to something. When the dog woke up, it bit him and they fought. When I saw a chance I got his wand away from him… but then he started talking in two voices. There was this really odd high-pitched voice that made my scar hurt really bad. They wanted me to help them get something, a stone of some sort. But when he touched me, Professor Quirrell started screaming and then he fell down. I started feeling really weak myself, and that's when Professor McGonagall found me." Harry was trembling by the time he finished, and could only lay back on the pillows.

Professor Dumbledore stared at Harry a moment longer. "You have done a great thing, Harry," Dumbledore said gravely. "From what we can determine, Professor Quirrell was helping Voldemort. If he'd found what was guarded under that room, the consequences could have been quite severe."

"Voldemort was that other voice I heard, wasn't it?"

"Yes, Harry, it was. He has sought a means of coming fully back to life. Do not worry; the item he seeks will now be destroyed to ensure that he does not have another opportunity."

"Sir, he said something else… he said… he said he'd kill me, and no prophecy would stop him this time. Do you know what he was talking about?" Harry painfully sat up and looked the headmaster square in the eyes.

Dumbledore let out a heavy sigh. "Harry, this is not something we should discuss at this time."

"So there is a prophecy. He… it… Voldemort was very angry. This prophecy involves me, doesn't it?"

"Harry, I promise you we will discuss it when the time comes," Dumbledore said weakly.

Harry gave him a long look before settling back on the bed. "I'm going to hold you to that."

"Of that, I have little doubt, Harry." There was no mistaking the amused undertone in the headmaster's voice as he turned to leave.

Madam Pomfrey, who'd been waiting near the door, bustled up and began taking Harry's temperature. He let out a sigh. "I'll drink the nastiest potions you can lay hands on, without complaint, if I can be out of here by Saturday."

The school nurse looked down at Harry, still holding her wand to the centre of his forehead. The corner of her mouth quirked a tiny bit. "We'll see, Mr. Potter. You're showing signs of severe fatigue and some dehydration. A full day's bed-rest with plenty of fluids should do it, but we'll have to see."

Harry smiled weakly as she turned and walked toward her potion cabinet. He scratched at his stomach and had to hold in a sigh of relief. He could feel the slippery gossamer material of the invisibility cloak pooled under his shirt.

The sun was shining, the grass was green, and the stands surged with red and gold on one side and blue and silver on the other.

Harry was never so glad to be on his broom again.

Madam Pomfrey had only cleared him that morning. The entire Gryffindor table cheered when he made it down for a quick breakfast. Oliver let out a whoop that drew some glares from the high table, though Harry thought McGonagall looked a trifle smug.

When he sat down though, there was silence from his friends. Ron, in particular was visibly angry. Harry faltered.

"Why did you do that Harry?" Hermione asked quickly. She didn't look very pleased with him either, but from the glances she gave Ron it looked like she wanted to head off an explosion. Even good-natured Neville looked upset.

"I thought we were your friends," Ron whispered in a hurt voice. Harry wished he'd been yelling instead.

"I- look, I," Harry stuttered before he took a deep breath and swallowed. He'd been concentrating so much on the confrontation that he hadn't anticipated their reaction to him facing Quirrell alone. "Look, there was no logical reason to think anything was happening. I just had a bad feeling, so I put on my cloak to go check it out. When, when I saw him, at that point I knew there wasn't time to get any help. I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone." I may have meant to leave them out, he rationalized, but I didn't think they'd be hurt like this. I don't deserve friends like these…

Neville sighed. "We know you didn't mean it like that, Harry. But we were all worried. We thought the Slytherins had caught you alone in the corridors again. All day Friday Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let you have any visitors."

"Oh, I didn't know that," Harry said, shaking his head a little.

"See Ron, it wasn't a personal insult," Hermione said in a coaxing tone.

Ron just let out an exasperated sigh. "How do you manage to get in trouble just sitting on your bloody bed?" he asked, though his tone was conciliatory.

"It's a gift," Harry replied, deadpan. Ron rolled his eyes at Harry as Neville chuckled and Hermione beamed. And just like that things were back to normal.

Harry didn't even object when Ron and Neville made a point of making sure they had their wands ready for the match, and grinned while they practiced the 'swish and flick' motion for Wingardium Leviosa as they walked out to the pitchHarry accepted the teasing with a grin. They were determined to play safety net, given some rumours going around the school.

The locker room had been oddly quiet -- Oliver could barely speak as the team put on their gear. "This is the first time… we've had a team… even get close," the fifth year student took a deep breath, his face red with emotion.

"Don't worry Ollie--" Harry's breath caught. No one got away with calling him 'Ollie', not even the twins. He glanced over at their captain, but he hadn't even noticed.

"We're going—"

"To slaughter them!"

The whole team let out a bloodthirsty cheer, and Harry joined in with a will.

That seemed to jolt Oliver back to reality. "Right you lot. Davies was bragging to some of his mates that they were going to 'blow Potter off his broom' this match, so I want you Weasleys on him like a second shadow. Got it?"

"Ickle Harrikins—"

"is safe with us!"

Oliver nodded, and then turned to Harry. "Now, don't let that worry you any. I'm sure-"

"All I have to do is catch the snitch, right? Piece of cake," Harry interrupted cheekily. He did not want Oliver to get all motherly on him… though knowing Fred and George had his back was oddly comforting.

Oliver's warning was spot on, however. The second Madam Hooch's whistle blew, the Ravenclaw beaters took off at a sharp angle, heading directly toward Harry instead of the Bludgers. Harry, forewarned, leaned back and hauled upward on the handle. This resulted in him doing a nearly vertical takeoff, leaving the Ravenclaw beaters rocketing under him.

They must want to intimidate me, he mused. If they actually hit me, they'd get called for blatching.

Instead, the beaters were badly out of position as Alicia seized the Quaffle and passed it to Angelina. Dreadlocks trailing behind her, the Gryffindor chaser had an almost unopposed run at the Ravenclaw hoops and scored easily.

Harry thrust his fist in the air, cheering as loudly as his friends in the stands. He'd never got to play this game the first time around, and everything was new to him.

The Ravenclaw seeker, a tall seventh-year named Kyle Frobisher was soon checking Harry as closely as he could get away with. Fred and George regularly drove him off, allowing Harry some uninterrupted moments to search for the snitch from high above the action.

During one of these intervals, Harry decided after not seeing any gold on the field, to do a little shaking up of his own. As Kyle ducked a Bludger and drew closer, the Ravenclaw chasers were starting another push toward the hoops Oliver guarded. Harry suddenly rolled onto his side and banked into a steep dive. Frobisher didn't bother looking for the snitch, he just tore after Harry.

Correctly reading the curve, the Ravenclaw seeker cut inside Harry's course and began to pull alongside his smaller opponent. Fred and George had to veer off, afraid that if they knocked a Bludger toward Frobisher, it might hit Harry instead.

Harry continued his spiralling dive, as if following an imaginary Snitch. As he tried to pull it even tighter, the centrifugal force of his turn threatened to pull him off his broom. He knew it had to be even worse for Frobisher, who was both larger and also trying to turn inside Harry's course.

Suddenly, about thirty feet above the grass, Harry jerked his broom the opposite direction and shot upwards in a graceful curve. Frobisher had just started turning his head toward Harry when he ploughed into one of the Ravenclaw chasers, sending both spinning to the ground and causing Roger Davies to frantically call for time out. Harry laughed at the "Bloody hell!" he heard from one of the twins.

A couple of minutes later, the Ravenclaw players took to the air again, to a swell of polite applause from both sides. Frobisher kept his left arm tucked against his side, and no longer marked Harry quite as aggressively.

The injured chaser also slowed down the Ravenclaw offence, and Gryffindor was up by eighty points when the snitch made its first appearance of the afternoon.

As luck would have it, the fluttering golden ball appeared a bit closer to the Ravenclaw seeker, and both he and Harry spotted it almost simultaneously.

Harry got a good boost of speed from his dive, but he and Frobisher were still neck and neck as they tore across the pitch. Its movements entirely random once activated, the snitch was zooming the length of the pitch, its course unusually linear.

Both of them were reaching forward, inches from the golden ball, when it suddenly shot upwards and back. Harry didn't even think about what he was doing. He hooked his heels on the shaft of his trusty Nimbus Two Thousand and launched himself upwards and back. His broom continued forward, along with the gaping Ravenclaw seeker as Harry arched his back and closed his fingers around the snitch.

Suddenly Harry felt himself jerked to the side in a way that was horribly familiar.


Okay, this was a little short, but that seemed like a nice place to cut off an upload. evil grin

This site seems to still be having some issues. I can seem my stats now, but I have not gotten any emails from the bot regarding reviews or updates on my Alert list since before the outage.

If you have an unaddressed question, I may not be able to see your review. I can also be contacted at C L A D R A N at M I N D S P R I N G dot C O M, the same address as listed in my profile.

Now, on to the comments!

JKR said that Dean's biological father was a wizard who was recruited by the Death Eaters and left his muggle wife and family to protect them. He later died at the hands of Voldemort's followers. Dean never knew, and it was a sub-plot that was dropped from either book 5.

As we can see in this update, the foundation has been set for Hermione's discover. Nice to know some things can always be counted on, eh?

As suggested, I may start tossing this onto some other sites like SIYE. I like the audience here, but there have been incidents coughbobmin357cough where stories have been deleted without reason. I'm sure I don't know the full story but no sense taking chances.

The nightmares are tough to write, since I have to get into Harry's head to do them right. I'm glad it's appreciated. grin

Is there a canonical source for the bit about purebloods losing their magical powers? I know it's a staple of Marriage Law fics (you can read "There's Always A Way" if you want to know how I feel about those), but I couldn't find anything in the books or the lexicon. I think Tom and I will just have to agree to disagree about brooms…

Regarding Snape – I don't know if he will be redeemed in Book 7 or not. JKR in interviews doesn't really portray him as 'just misunderstood' either. Snape is not Alan Rickman, folks. Harry's reasoning regarding Snape's use of legilimency and still accusing Harry of being Lockhart, Jr. is based solely on canon. Regularly 'Mindraping' your students is not an admirable practice, period. I think at best he's an opportunist, and offered his services to Dumbledore when he realized the Death Nibblers were a lot like an organized crime family…. Great fringe benefits, but a really awful retirement program.

Harry remembers a lot of the Martial Arts he learned from the American Wizarding Expeditionary force. The books were mainly purchased as cover to explain his knowledge. Also, it's likely his previous/future trainers emphasized practical aspects and sparring, so the books would be good for things like katas (forms).

I see your point about the pick-up scene, Unicorn. I went back and fleshed it out a tiny bit more. I'm a little leery of doing too much repetition though, as it tends to bore people. I just need to make sure I don't gloss over too much that happens the same way.

Snape tumbling to the illicit research was covered in this chapter. I hope you like how it played out. Ickle Harrikins is getting in touch with his 'Inner Slytherin'.

Hopefully Harry got to take some his frustrations out on Quirrell. Hopefully, he won't pay for that later…

Being a natural Occlumens may be induced by an abusive childhood. Being zapped by Voldemort at age one may be an even better explanation. Better yet, Harry can always ask Dumbledore first and put him on the spot instead.

Harry has too much to do to waste time re-solving a mystery to which he already knows the answer. He decided to "cheat like Draco in a Potions Exam". (See prologue for quote.)

I'll check that C2 archive that was suggested, but right now it's not pulling up…

Harry is NOT planning to give "The Birds & Bees Talk" to his friends. Can you imagine the psychological scarring?

All right, enough fun with the responses. Again, if a specific question about this chapter was not addressed above, please email me.

Now on to chapter eight!