Author's Note: Hey everyone! Okay, so here is my first piece of fanfiction that's not in the Recnac universe. It's going to be 5 chapters, so it's pretty short.
WARNING: Remus is definitely OOC in this fic, but I had to do it. I don't need reviews pointing out that Remus would never do this because I already know it. I had to take artistic license for the plot to work, and I just couldn't see the Dursley's being manipulative in this way, or Harry caring that much about them coming. This was the lesser of the two stretches, but if you cannot stand to see Remus as not his nice self, don't read. (Though there is reason behind his OOCness, it's not just a random change of character.)
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it! Read and Review! Big thanks to Katie (who loves Snape) for being a wonderful beta, who close read this thing like you all wouldn't believe and was wonderfully honest. Thank you Katie!
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter world belongs to J.K Rowling.
The idea had come about to ease some of the tension that came from separating families at a time of war, as of course was inevitable with children attending a boarding school. Nervous students could have something to work toward and know they'd be seeing their family occasionally, a comforting thought in such volatile times. Parents could check on their kids without panicking anyone. If marks rose as a consequence, all the better.
When Dumbledore announced the new quarterly Family Night, most were enthusiastic about the idea, especially since the restrictions on underage magic didn't allow students to show off what they had learned to their parents during their vacations. There would be projects to prepare for the events, huge feasts, and tours of the castle, which would be amusingly nostalgic for the wizarding parents and exciting for the Muggle ones.
It turned out to be a success. Students worked hard to prepare for their eager parents and everyone seemed to have fun, especially in watching the Muggles explore the castle for the first time.
Yes, everyone loved the idea…except for one person…well two if one counted Professor Snape, but he, of course, never loved anything.
As the night approached its feast, Harry Potter was found alone outside at the far bank of the lake, skipping stones sadly across its surface. Ron and Ginny had, of course, offered to share their family with him, but Harry declined, knowing both that it wouldn't be the same and that the two needed their own chance to shine.
He looked up as his favorite professor made his way toward him.
"'Ello there, Harry, why aren't yeh in with the others?" a concerned Hagrid asked once he got to his favorite student.
Harry shrugged. "Not my scene," he said with a sad smirk.
"I thought yeh were going to ask Remus Lupin ter come," the giant asked in concern.
Harry avoided his gaze and swallowed hard. "I did."
"Oh, was he busy?" Hagrid asked sympathetically.
"No," Harry said dejectedly. "I think he's actually a bit mad at me. About the Sirius thing. I think he blames me, not that he shouldn't. I know it's my fault, but—"
"Ah, Harry, no! It's not yer fault! I'm sure Remus just had other things he had ter do," Hagrid said, putting a heavy hand on Harry's shoulder.
"He said he'd come only if I had something special to show him, but otherwise, he didn't have the time," Harry sighed.
"Well, did yeh tell him yer first in yer class in Defense? If that's not special, I dunno know what is!" Hagrid said supportively. Harry shot him a weak smile of thanks.
"Yeah, I told him and he said he'd think about it, but then he sent me a letter saying he'd come next time if I improved my studies."
Hagrid frowned at this but didn't let Harry see his disapproving look. "Well, just so yeh know, yer Care of Magical Creatures project was fantastic. Pretty much every one else did theirs on unicorns and I didn't even teach that lesson," Hagrid said grumpily.
"That's only 'cause people are attracted to pretty things and topics that are easy to research, like unicorns; it's no reflection on your teaching Hagrid," Harry reassured him.
Hagrid reluctantly looked back to the Care of Magical Creatures class area in the distance. "Well, Harry, I have ter finish setting everything up fer when the parents finish their meal. Are yeh going ter be okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Harry said dismissively. "I've never much liked these things anyway. We had to go through them in my elementary school, too. I'll just use the time to do some studying."
Hagrid nodded and patted Harry's shoulder as he stood. "Well, don't overdo yerself, okay?"
"Okay," Harry nodded, rubbing his shoulder soothingly as Hagrid made his way back to his classroom.
But Harry had a plan. Last year, his failure to study Occlumency had cost Sirius his life, and Remus obviously knew it. Harry wanted to show Remus he could take his studies seriously, even though it was too late for his godfather. He would work harder than he ever had before at school and raise his marks to give Remus a reason to come to the next Family Night. Maybe he could prove to Remus that he was changing, maturing, trying to become something more than a liability to the ones he cared about. Maybe if Remus could see how far he'd come, Harry would finally have someone be proud of him.
Hermione was ecstatic about Harry's new study plan. As he hadn't quite told them why he had started it, Hermione was convinced Harry was finally realizing that she had been right all along and was trying to pull his marks up for his final few years before having to lookfor work in the wizarding world.
Ron was horrified, of course, and agreed to study with Harry and Hermione only as much as he normally did, and otherwise opted to hang out with the other Gryffindor boys until Harry decided to come to his senses.
So Harry and Hermione worked together, Harry resolving to study every moment that Hermione did, as torturous as it seemed, especially since Hermione was notoriously the most vigorous studier in the school. At least it took his mind off the previous year and the pain that constantly reminded him that Sirius was gone.
And the studying paid off. His teachers kept him after class to congratulate him on how his marks had improved, aside from Snape of course. He even improved his grades in Divination. After all, he had thought Occlumency was useless and after what had happened regarding that, he wasn't prepared to make that assumption about any discipline again.
As the next Family Night rolled around, Harry proudly sent his grades off with letter to Remus asking him to come to the next Family Night.
When he got the letter back from Remus saying he would be at Hogwarts for it, Harry was beyond relieved. He made sure his projects were perfect and when the night arrived, made sure he looked nice, and even tried to wrestle with his hair for a good half hour.
He stood with Hermione and Ron near the entrance as they waited for the adults, Harry fidgeting nervously.
"Harry, calm down," Hermione said with an amused laugh, happy for Harry that he was finally having someone come to one of these things, as she was sure the Dursleys hadn't when he was child in Muggle school.
Remus was actually the first of the adults to arrive among those the trio was expecting, but missed Harry as he wrestled his way through the sea of parents and students. Harry excitedly said goodbye to his friends as Ron spotted the familiar group of redheads entering the doors, and pushed his way through the crowd to his old Defense professor.
"Remus! Remus!" he called as he broke free of the crowd, wondering where the man was going as he moved down the hall. Wasn't it obvious Harry would have been with the other students?
Remus turned around and saw Harry running up to him, his blank expression making Harry's excitement take a nosedive into worry. He tried not to let it show and hugged Remus, not being able to contain his relief.
When Remus made no move to return the gesture, Harry awkwardly broke away and walked with Remus as the man began making his way up the grand staircase.
"Oh, did you want to look around first? The classroom stuff isn't until after the feast and I think that's in a half hour or so. I could show you the Gryffindor common rooms if you wanted, so you could see them again. Did I tell you I'm top of my class in Defense?" he asked eagerly, trying to get Remus to even look at him. "Um, well, thank you for coming and everything. It means a lot, especially since the Durs…"
Harry was cut off as Remus stopped and turned to him with a careful expression. "I'm sorry my letter misled you, Harry. I told you I'd be at Hogwarts tonight, but I didn't mean for this. I needed to collect my Wolfsbane potion from Professor Snape."
Harry felt as if his stomach had flipped over and his lungs had forgotten how to function. "Oh?" he squeaked out.
Almost as if he'd heard his name used, Snape appeared in that moment, seeming to be in a more foul mood than usual, probably because of the cheerful families and students milling about.
"Ah, how endearing, the werewolf came not only to get his potion, but to see the Gryffindor golden boy in all his glory," Snape sneered sarcastically.
"Actually, I just came for the potion, Severus. If we can go collect it now, I'll be on my way," Remus said, actually catching Snape off guard, something that was said to be nearly impossible. The Potions master looked between the two calculatingly, before nodding.
"Very well, I'm on my way to the dungeons now."
Remus nodded and began to follow, but Harry desperately grabbed his arm.
"Well, did you maybe want to stay? I mean, the full moon's not for a few days and you wouldn't have to stay long. You could just see a couple of my projects maybe?" he asked, hating the pleading quality of his voice but not being able to do anything to quell it. "Even just my Potion's one since you're on your way to the dungeons anyway. It's not the best but I worked really—"
"Maybe next time Harry. Last year you didn't make much of an effort in things people were trying to teach you; if you prove to me you're really trying this next quarter, I'll come to the next one," he said, sounding so cold for the normally friendly man.
Harry couldn't stop the pleas from leaving his lips. "Do you even want to stay for the feast? You could just leave after if you wanted and we could eat and talk since I haven't really talked to—"
"I said no, Harry. When you've deserved it, we'll talk."
And then the two adults were gone, down toward the dungeons for what Remus had actually come for, leaving Harry standing alone in the corridor.
Harry felt abandoned and confused. He knew he couldn't go back to the feast, couldn't face the questions people were bound to ask. Even thinking about food right now made him feel nauseous…or maybe that wasn't just the thought of food.
The more he replayed what had just happened over in his head, the more rejected and sick he felt, until he slapped a hand to his mouth and raced toward the bathroom, making it just in time. He crashed to his knees and threw up into the toilet.
After, he sat on the floor for awhile, figuring out what he was going to do for the night, not wanting to run into his friends or their families. He considered going to the Room of Requirement, but knew the DA members might be in and out, showing it off to their parents.
He heard someone walk by and, knowing of only a few people who wouldn't currently be at the feast and in this area of the castle, peaked his head out the door. Sure enough, he saw Remus's back as he made his way down the hall toward the staircase.
Harry numbly went to the top of the stairs and watched Remus hurry down the hall toward the main doors.
He stood there in slight shock until he heard the rustle of people getting up from their seats. Knowing the feast had ended, Harry just started running, trying to think of a part of the castle nobody would go. He had to be alone right now; he could tell he was going to cry, as shamed as he was to admit it, and the only thing he could think to do was to make sure nobody would see him do it.
He was running passed a statue when he skidded to a halt, remembering it was the entrance to a passage the Weasley twins had mentioned that had caved in. Luckily, he had memorized the tricks to get in each one, as he had initially found the thought of secret passages enthralling.
After stuttering the password, the passage opened and Harry crawled inside, lighting his wand to keep himself from plunging into total darkness.
And while the rest of the school laughed and happily caught up with their families, Harry Potter sat huddled in an abandoned passage, curled into a ball, crying softly to himself at having been dealt the harsh pain of rejection, not for the first time in his life.
Harry entered his third quarter with a new mission. He would get A's in all of his classes, no matter what it took. His goal was to be the top student in as many classes as possible. His first step had been to go to the professors of the few classes in which he was not making A's (though with all his work from the previous quarter, many of his grades were A's) and asking for extra tutoring. McGonagall had already agreed to it the previous year while trying to prove to Umbridge that even evil dictators like her could not stop Minerva McGonagall from helping her student become an Auror. And that was the excuse he used with all his teachers. They didn't have to know he'd already decided that being an Auror was about the last thing he'd ever want to be.
After his improvement the previous quarters, everyone he asked was eager to help him if he was willing to put in the extra effort, with the exception of Snape, of course, who was never eager about anything except taking points away from Gryffindor and assigning detentions. But shockingly, Snape agreed…after a very long lecture about how Harry shouldn't think he was special because of it.
Those tutoring sessions with Snape were, of course, the ones he was most anxious about. Yet surprisingly, Snape didn't use the opportunity to further verbally abuse him, other than asking if he had misplaced his brain on various occasions. Harry decided early on that he would actually have to use these study sessions for what they were and finally asked the questions that were hindering his potion-making. And to his surprise, Snape answered them. It seemed the Potions master actually enjoyed teaching when he was teaching someone who was truly trying to improve in the subject rather than doing it solely because they had to or to "show off", as he clearly thought was Hermione's motive.
To Harry's greater surprise, he started to improve in potions greatly. He found it to be so much easier than he previously had, and even Snape stopped finding things wrong, which was definitely saying something. He improved in his other classes as well, but Potions was his greatest victory.
In addition to the study sessions with his professors, Harry was studying more and more often, surpassing even Hermione in his time spent reading through notes and books. The bushy-haired girl was slightly horrified at the idea of someone studying more than her, and tried to catch up, but when Ron began asking her on dates, she had something besides knitting elf-clothes and studying to occupy her time.
It was for these reasons, Harry began to see less and less of his friends. It hurt that his friends seemed to have gotten closer and moved on without him. They had always done everything together, and the friendships between them had always been different, but equal. But now, Harry felt as if he were being abandoned, yet he did nothing to stop it. After all, it was probably for the better after what had happened to Sirius.
So he studied harder to clear his mind of these things. When tests came up, Harry skipped meals and hours of valuable sleep in order to make sure he knew the material as well as he possibly could.
It all paid off when his test scores started coming in higher than Hermione's, and Harry knew it would only be a matter of time before he was top of certain classes rather than Hermione. Unfortunately, this was also what sparked Harry and Hermione's biggest fight they'd ever had.
"Harry," she said seriously, approaching the raven-haired boy as he was studying for their Charms exam in the common room just after the last person had gone up to bed. Ron was standing behind her, looking as if he was torn about even having this conversation. "We need to talk."
"About what?" Harry asked, setting down his book, but secretly going over the correct pronunciation of the four variations on heating charms in his head. He was pretty sure he knew about what, though. He had seen the look on Hermione's face when they got their Potions test results back.
"Look, Harry, I think it's great you're trying to pull up your marks," she started hesitantly, "but Ron and I have noticed that it's all you've been doing, really. And you haven't been eating a lot and Ron says you haven't been sleeping much…"
Harry shot Ron a betrayed look and Ron looked guiltily away.
"…and we're worried about you, Harry. I don't think this is good for your health."
Harry glared at his friends. "First off, thanks a lot for talking about me behind my back. And Ron, I'd appreciate it if you didn't report my sleeping patterns to Hermione. You're not my keeper."
Ron opened his mouth to retort, but Harry cut him off.
"And Hermione, I'm sorry I can't take you quite seriously right now as I've been studying like this for awhile now and you've been happy about it until I started getting higher grades than you," he snapped.
"Now, Harry, that's not true. I've been worried, I just…"
"You just what? You just didn't have the time to come talk to me about it because you were too busy romping around with Ron?" Harry asked angrily.
"Hey, what is that supposed to mean?" Ron asked indignantly.
"It means that you two could be happy for me because I'm pulling my grades up, but instead, Hermione's scared I'm going to beat her in classes and so she's decided to try to take me down a few notches and you're in this because you're more loyal to her than to me!" Harry barked irritably.
"That's not fair, Harry!" Hermione shouted. "How dare you! I would never do this out of jealousy! I'm concerned for you! I don't even understand why you're doing this!"
Harry hadn't quite told his friends about what Remus had said that night, instead favoring the story that Remus had said he absolutely couldn't stay, but wanted to see Harry before he had to go off.
"Why? Don't you think I can be smart, Hermione? I know you think I'm an idiot and that I don't try at anything, but guess what, I can. I can put in the effort just as well as you can!"
"I know you can and I know you're smart! Look, Harry, does this have something to do with Ron and I being together?" Hermione asked cautiously.
"God, Hermione, not everything is about you! I'm just raising my grades for my own reasons. I'm not trying to beat you and I'm certainly not trying to stop you two from cuddling or whatever it is you two do together," Harry yelled angrily.
"Merlin, Harry, listen to yourself! It's like I don't even know you anymore!" Hermione said, sounding horrified.
"Good!" Harry yelled, jumping up. "You should be thankful! The old Harry sucked. I was irresponsible and all I did was get people killed! I don't know if you can wrap your far superior mind around the concept, but one day, while you and Ron are off snogging somewhere, I'll be fighting Voldemort and if I want to stand a chance against him I have to be prepared!" he shouted, waving a book around before slamming it onto the table.
"You won't have to fight him," Ron said quietly, sounding a bit frightened. "Dumbledore will…"
"Nope, sorry Ron, but you're wrong. Because there happens to be a little prophecy, yeah, the one from the Ministry we thought was lost forever, but I know what it said because Dumbledore knew. And it's me or Voldemort and let me tell you, it's not looking so good for me right now."
His two friends were shocked into silence and before one of them could think of something to say, Harry snatched up his books and notes. "So, Hermione, I'm sorry you're concerned with your grades, but I have bigger things to worry about right now and I'm not going to stop studying just to make you feel better," he said coldly.
He hurried up to his dorm just long enough to grab his invisibility cloak and throw it over himself. His two friends were still sitting near the fire when he came back down, and though they couldn't see him, they could hear him walking passed them toward the portrait.
"Harry, please wait. We need to talk about…"
But the portrait door slammed shut again before she could finish.
Ron sighed. "Well that went well," he said sarcastically, caught between anger and confusion. "What's happened to him? He's so different now."
"I think that's what sleep deprivation, stress and under-eating does to a person. They can get irritable and paranoid," Hermione stated simply, and Ron was sure she'd read up on it as soon as she had become worried about their friend. "It's because of the Family Night thing, I'm sure of it. He started this after the first one and asked all the professors for tutoring right after the second one."
"Do you think something happened those nights? Like maybe somebody said something to him?" Ron asked. "Do you think Malfoy said something to him?"
"Could be," Hermione said in a dismissive tone that indicated she was thinking more along the lines of something else. "Ron, why don't you write your parents and ask them if they know what Remus needed to do that night. I think Harry said it was Order business, so your parents will probably know."
"You think it has something to do with You-Know-Who?" Ron asked in concern.
"I'm more interested in whether he actually had business to attend to rather than what it was," Hermione said, eyebrows knitted in worry for their friend.
"You think he lied to Harry?" Ron asked in surprised.
"Well, I could be wrong, Remus might have had something he had to do. But if he didn't, I sure hope he lied to Harry about it."
Ron looked at her, bewildered.
She sighed and continued. "Because if he didn't lie to Harry, that means Harry lied to us and there has to be a reason he'd do that. I don't know why Remus would have left otherwise, but if it's had this effect on Harry…I just have a feeling it was bad."
Harry woke up the next morning with that uncomfortable jerk that comes from waking when you never intended to go to sleep in the first place. Looking around in confusion, he realized he was once again on a couch in the Room of Requirement, papers strewn about the desk in front of him, with a coffee maker at the foot of the couch that was responsible for helping Harry only get a couple hours of sleep the night before.
Checking his watch, he realized breakfast would be over soon. With a groan, he gathered up his things and ran to his dormitory, hoping to be able to quickly shower and change before his first class.
Remembering the fight he'd had with Hermione the night before, his stomach dropped. Though he was peeved Hermione cared more about her grades than Harry's improvement, he still hadn't wanted to get into a fight with his friends. He told himself it was for the best, and if they weren't his friends, they weren't as in as much danger, but the thought of not making things up with them soon made his heart ache even more than at Remus's rejection at the last Family Night.
On his way to Divination, he was debating with himself whether to make up with them or not, knowing he'd have to decide soon as he and Ron sat together in the next class.
When he took his seat, Ron shot him a concerned look and passed him something covered in a napkin under the table. It was a couple of scones.
"You missed breakfast," he whispered, as if Harry didn't realize it. "I'll tell you if Trelawney looks in this direction."
"Thanks, Ron," he said, more sincerely than Ron could know. The relief that filled Harry was overwhelming. Not only was Ron not mad at him, he had thought enough about him to bring him food.
Harry snuck pieces every time their professor looked the other way and when Trelawney called on him just after he'd shoved a piece of the pasty in his mouth, Ron tried to bring the attention to himself, his eyes filled with laughter when he looked at Harry trying to somehow get out of the situation. It all made Harry feel lighter than he'd felt in ages, right up until the batty professor predicted that Harry would be seeing a drop in his grades soon.
Whether it was a prediction or a threat for his goofing off, Harry immediately began to berate himself for not paying attention to the woman that had made such a vital prediction in his life. Even if he believed the discipline to be sketchy at best, what if he was wrong like he had been with Occlumency? If he misinterpreted some sign that could have saved someone's life, he would never be able to forgive himself.
As Trelawney moved toward the other side of the classroom, lecturing about what different omens meant, Ron nudged Harry as he was taking notes.
"Want to go for a fly around the pitch after classes today?" he whispered.
Harry blinked at him in surprise before looking away guiltily. "Can't," he whispered.
"Why not?" Ron asked in annoyance, already figuring the answer to that question.
"I have to study. I have to get my grades up if I'm going to be an Auror," he whispered back.
"This is ridiculous Harry," Ron hissed while Trelawney was indulging an excited Parvati Patil by telling her that her aura was pulsating. "You'll be accepted into the Auror program without killing yourself doing so."
"I'm not killing myself, and I also need to defeat Voldemort in case you've forgotten," Harry whispered with a glower as he determinedly tried to see if he could see any omens from his book around the room.
"Yeah, well a break won't hurt, otherwise you're going to drive yourself crazy," Ron protested, but Harry didn't respond. Ron let out an exasperated sigh. "Look, Harry, does this have to do with Family Night?" he asked carefully.
Harry's head whipped up so fast, Ron was a bit worried he'd get whiplash.
"What?" he asked in a quiet, but angry voice.
"Why don't you forget about Lupin and just hang out with my family. Mum would love to…"
"Don't be stupid, Ron. Why would I care about some stupid night where everyone brags to their parents? This is about Voldemort and my future," Harry insisted. "Besides, Remus is coming to the next one," he added, not looking at Ron. "Now, can you quiz me on what these omens mean?"
Ron gave a jerky nod and accepted the book Harry was sliding toward him, at a loss for what to do to keep from losing his best friend.
Snape watched with a frown as Harry Potter worked on the potion Snape had just assigned him for their tutoring session. The boy looked absolutely exhausted and stressed, as he always did nowadays. Though Snape would never admit it, he felt a bit concerned for the boy.
The display he had witnessed between Lupin and the young Gryffindor at the last Family Night had been surprising and a bit disturbing. When he had slyly tried to get information out of Lupin regarding the reasons behind the cruel way he was treating Harry, he had been unsettled to find the answer. It seemed that Sirius Black's death had been the last straw for Lupin, causing the werewolf to become a bit unhinged. The worst part of it was that he obviously was taking out all his anger and guilt out on Harry, unfairly blaming the boy for the death.
Of course, Snape agreed Harry could have put more effort into learning Occlumency, but that was no excuse for Lupin's cruelty. How could someone blame a child for such a horrible thing? Who could put that sort of guilt upon a mere teenager's shoulders, forcing him to so heavily atone for sins he had never committed?
And as usual, it seemed that only Snape, among the staff, took the situation for what it really was. The rest found it encouraging that Harry was boosting his grades and was so eager to learn. He suspected McGonagall was beginning to see there might be something wrong, but everyone else preferred to be oblivious, including the headmaster. They all thought it to be a healthy way for Harry to cope with his godfather's death. None could see the miserable boy, desperately grasping onto his last chance at a father figure, silently screaming his pleas for Lupin not to abandon him as every other adult he'd relied on had done.
"I'm done, Professor," came the anxious voice. As usual, Harry was triple checking his notes even as Snape walked over.
"It's slightly too thick. Do you know what you did and what effects that would have?" he asked.
"Erm, it was because I let the first stage cool too quickly and it would cause…it would cause a longer absorption time and weaken the effects?"
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Is that a question or an answer?"
"An answer, sir," Harry said unsurely, but making sure it was a statement.
Snape nodded. "Good."
"Should I move onto the Warming Draught, sir?" Harry asked. At Snape's surprised look, he quickly explained. "I just want to make sure I'm prepared for the test this Friday."
"No, Potter, we'll leave that until tomorrow," Snape responded. Harry actually looked disappointed, and Snape only wished it was because Harry actually liked potion-making.
"Professor, I was wondering what my current class standing was in regards to Potions grades," Harry said nervously.
Snape looked at him, careful to keep his expression neutral. "My class is not a competition, Mr. Potter. I do not give out information regarding other students' grades."
"Well, sir, you do post at the end of each quarter who received the highest grade, and I just want to know if I'm close. If it's at all possible, I will do whatever it takes to have top marks. I just need to know what I need to do and I'll do it," Harry said in a determined tone, but years of reading what people weren't trying to project, Snape could hear the desperation that drove the request.
"Potter, take a seat, I wish to discuss something with you." Snape ignored Harry's worried look and cleaned up the mess with a flick of the wand, levitating ingredients back to their cupboards.
He gestured to the chair facing his desk and Harry warily sat. As Snape conjured up some tea, once again, ignoring the shocked look on his student's face, Harry cleared his throat awkwardly.
"Er, is it hopeless? I've tried to calculate my grade, and figure out what I'll need on each exam, but it's difficult without knowing the total quarter points and what score I need to beat, so I…."
Snape held up a hand to silence the rambling boy. Harry instantly shut his mouth. Snape pushed one of the cups of tea toward him. It was a testament to Harry's exhaustion and clouded mind that he didn't question it before taking a sip, especially after what had happened the previous year with Umbridge trying to sneak him Veritiserum.
He didn't know how to start this conversation. How did you tell a student to stop studying so much? How did you tell a student their grades were getting too high? How could you have this conversation and still keep up the impression that you never cared about anyone, particularly Harry Potter?
"Potter, has your head of house spoken to you about your study habits this quarter?" he ventured.
Harry looked confused. "Sure. She's been tutoring me in Transfiguration and she's been saying she's happy to see me trying hard at school. She's stopped lately since it was getting a bit redundant…why?"
Snape mentally cursed his colleague for not having had this talk with Harry, leaving it for him to take care of.
"Potter, what do you do aside from studying and doing homework?" Snape asked.
Harry looked slightly taken aback, but jumped on the question nonetheless. "Nothing really, I'm really serious about trying to improve my grades. I was actually just thinking I could open up some extra room for more Potions studying if it would help me get the top grade."
Snape raised his eyebrow. "Open up extra room for more studying? And what would that extra studying be replacing at this point? You already skip about half your meals, are you planning on forgoing eating all together?"
Harry now looked confused. "I eat," he said dismissively, "but if eating in someplace I can study more often would help me with Potions…."
"Potter, do not worry about your Potions grade, that's not what…"
"So I already have the top mark?" Harry blurted out, sounding relieved.
"No, you do not," Snape barked, inwardly wincing as he had not meant to let that information slip. Draco Malfoy was a natural at Potions and had the top grade without batting an eyelid. Harry was battling Hermione for second, though he wouldn't be surprised if Harry took the spot by the end of the quarter. The miserable yet resolved look on Harry's face reminded him why he hadn't wanted Harry to know this.
"Potter, do not concern yourself with who is doing better or worse than you are. Or should I say, do not concern yourself with how Remus Lupin will react to who is doing better or worse than you."
Harry looked up at him in shock. "I don't…"
"You forget I was present during your brief conversation with him at the last Family Night," Snape cut in.
"Then you should know more than anyone that I need that top space. I need to show him I'm trying and working as hard as I can," Harry said, looking away in embarrassment.
"If needed, I will inform him of your efforts in my class, but in return you will cut down your study time," Snape said sternly, not surprised when Harry looked at him in bewilderment.
"Huh? I don't understand. I want him to know I've been working really hard…"
"There's such thing as working too hard, Potter. Have you taken a peek in the mirror lately? You look like the living dead," Snape said harshly.
Harry glared at him. "You're always telling me to study more, making fun of me in class, mocking me because I don't understand some concept or the other. And now that I'm studying more you want me to study less? Is it just that you don't want me to be the top of your class? Is it too horrible for you to have James Potter's son as the top of your Potions class? Is that it?" Harry demanded, voice rising angrily.
"There's a little thing called balance, Potter, and you seem to only want to tip the scale. You are jeopardizing your health," Snape said angrily.
"You know what? Forget the tutoring sessions. There's only a few weeks left in the quarter and I can do it on my own without having to deal with you trying to…trying to keep me down because you can't let go of a past grudge against my father!" Harry yelled, getting up from his seat and swinging his bag furiously over his shoulder. "You can't even see that I'm not like that! I'm not a bully nor do I purposely put myself into a spotlight nor would I ever attack someone unawares! God, I'm not my father!"
And with that he stormed from the room, slamming the door behind him.
The thing was Snape had realized Harry was not his father, had received his first clues from the memories he saw during Occlumency lessons and truly realizing it this year during his newest tutoring sessions with the boy. It was for that reason he was worried. James Potter was surrounded by friends, family and admirers and would bounce back relatively easily if one treated him so horribly. But Harry Potter, was a very lonely boy, with hardly anyone he would trust himself to lean upon, and obviously no one he trusted enough to help him through this rough time. James Potter would not have been damaged harshly by similar events, but Snape knew that for Harry Potter, this could break him.