Harry Potter: The Strength Within

Author's Notes: Okay, firstly, this story is DEFINETLY AU. Neville is The Boy Who Lived, and Harry is the sidekick. And as such, James and Lily are alive, Harry has a brother and a sister.

I've got a lot of stories going on right now, including an original work posted at under the same name as here.

Also, this story follows the 6th book kinda closely, but with obvious changes. The death at the end of the 6th book does happen, but only because I knew that there was no way to avoid it.

And just in case you GAFF people are reading, let me quote a line from the movie 'Men In Black': "You don't like it, you can kiss my furry little butt!"


Chapter 1: Unforeseen Events

Harry Potter was your average 16-year-old wizard. He had 3 best friends: Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and 'The Boy Who Lived' Neville Longbottom. Harry lived with his parents, Lily and James, older brother Tobias, and younger sister Mallory. Harry's girlfriend, Ginny Weasley, was Ron's only sister and the two had been together since the Yule Ball in Harry's 4th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry's brother, Tobias was about to enter his final year at Hogwarts and Mallory would soon be going into her 3rd year. And while Harry played seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and Tobias played beater, Mallory had no interest in the game. James had merely accepted that his daughter had gotten the non-interest from Lily's side of the family.

But as good as Harry's life was, it wasn't perfect. Voldemort had risen in Harry's 4th year and in his 5th year, Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, had almost gotten killed by a curse from Bellatrix Lestrange.

Even with this, however, Harry was happy with his life. Until one afternoon on a sunny day in late July….

--------------

Harry was in the middle of a dive after the snitch, Tobias closing in on him. Suddenly, Harry wrenched up and zoomed off as Tobias crash landed. "You okay, Toby?" Harry asked, hovering about 10 feet in the air.

Tobias rolled onto his back, recovering from having the wind knocked out of him. "Yes, Harry. Though I'm starting to regret teaching you the Wronski Feint." He got up, groaning as Harry landed easily. "Nice move, little brother."

"Thanks," Harry replied, smirking. "Nice landing."

"You know what?" Tobias said as he tackled his brother. "Why couldn't I be an only child?"

Harry pinned Tobias for a moment. "Because you're so bloody special." Harry managed to get to his feet and started running for the house when his vision blurred severely and he tripped, breaking his arm and spraining his ankle as he fell.

Tobias paused next to his brother, crouching down. "Harry, you okay, mate?"

"Yeah, but…." Harry gasped as he clutched his arm. "I-I think my arm is broken. And my ankle hurts, too," Harry said as he shook his head, his vision clearing.

Tobias grabbed Harry's good arm and hoisted him to his feet. "Arm around my shoulder, little bro," Tobias said, putting his arm around Harry's waist. "Come on. Mum'll fix you up in no time."

Once inside the house, Harry hopped over to the couch while Tobias fetched their mother. Lily came down a moment later, wand in hand. "Harry… its okay, honey." She tapped Harry's arm with her wand and Harry felt the bone heal immediately. Once Lily healed her youngest son's ankle, she stood up. "Just rest for now, Harry. Want to tell me what happened?"

Harry shrugged as he lay on the couch. "I don't know. Tobias and I were outside, we started wrestling and I ran. Everything got really blurry and I tripped."

Lily took her son's glasses off and tilted his chin up, looking into his eyes. "Can you see okay now?"

"Just the usual nearsightedness," Harry replied.

"And nothing like this has happened before?" Lily asked.

"No, Mum."

Lily nodded in thought. "Okay, well when your father gets home, we'll have a chat, okay? Just rest for now."

As Harry nodded, his and Tobias's sister, Mallory came over. "Jeez, Harry, what happened to you?"

"Quidditch accident," Tobias said, grinning at his little sister. "Harry messed up a Wronski Feint. No big deal."

"Uh-huh," Mallory said, nodding. "Okay. In that case, I'm Flooing over to Ginny's. Later, guys."

Once Mallory left, Harry asked, "Think she believed you?"

"Not a chance," Tobias replied.

------------

When James and Sirius got home, Lily pulled them into the kitchen and told them about Harry's accident and about the vision problems. "It got me thinking," Lily said, after a pause. "Remember how much exposure Harry had to Cruciatus last year? What if…?"

"Hey, I'm sure it's nothing, Lily," James said, hugging his wife. "Probably just a—"

"MUM! DAD!"

Harry's panicked voice brought all three adults plus Tobias into the living room where Harry was still laying on the couch. James looked urgently at Harry. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"I-I-I can't see!" Harry said, the panic getting worse. "I-it got blurry, and then everything went dark! Dad, what's wrong? What's happening?"

Lily looked at James. "James, we have to take Harry to a doctor."

"We'll Floo to St. Mungo's—"

"No, James," Lily insisted. "A muggle doctor."

"Muggles don't know anything, Lily!" Seeing the stricken look on his wife's face, James sighed. "Look, I know a healer who works at a muggle hospital. He's on duty every night lately. Okay?"

Lily nodded and watched as Tobias and James took Harry away.

----------------

It was 5am when Lily finally got a phone call from James. "How's Harry?"

"Harry's asleep," James said. "Toby's with him. The doctors looked at his eyes…. There's some serious nerve damage. The healer I talked to said it was magic-induced and there's nothing that they can do."

Lily fiddled with the phone cord as she asked, "So what does that mean?"

"It means you were right, Lily. When Umbridge and Bellatrix…. They did this to Harry. They destroyed his sight."

Lily sat down. "This can't be happening. James, please tell me this isn't happening. Tell me our son isn't…"

"It's real, Lily," James said, his voice getting slightly gruff from lack of sleep. "Harry's blind. Look, why don't you and everyone come over tomorrow? Okay?"

Lily just gave a small noise of agreement before hanging up the phone and bursting into tears.

------------------

The next morning, Lupin, Sirius, Lily, and Mallory went down to the hospital, Lily driving, and Sirius and Lupin watching in amazement. Once they arrived, they found James talking with a doctor. "Hey, Lily," James said, gesturing to the doctor. "This is Jake Molnaryk. He used to be a healer, and then got into muggle medicine."

"James called me in on your son's case, Mrs. Potter," said Dr. Molnaryk. "I pulled some strings and got Harry's tests and scans rushed. Follow me, please." He led the small group to a lightbox that was on the wall and snapped the MRI results in. "Harry's MRI showed severe damage to the optic nerves. It looks like it's progressive." Here he lowered his voice. "It's classic results from repeated and prolonged exposure to the Cruciatus Curse."

Lily nodded. "Is there anything you can do?"

"The damage is too serious," Molnaryk said, quietly. "I'm afraid Harry's sight had been destroyed permanently."

Lily gave a small gasp, and then said, "Can we see Harry?"

"Yeah, Mrs. Potter. This way."

When they got to Harry's room, Lily and Mallory went in to visit, while James pulled Sirius and Lupin aside. James looked at each of his friends and said, "Okay, we need to take care of a few things. Sirius, you tell the Weasleys. Remus, why don't you fill the Longbottoms in? I'm going to Dumbledore. See if he can help." After a moment's pause, they all headed out on their separate errands.

--------------------

Molly Weasley was just finishing washing the breakfast dishes when Sirius came through the Floo fireplace. "Sirius! What's going on? What are you doing here?"

Sirius hesitated. "It's… It's Harry. He's… The Department of Mysteries when Harry was under the Cruciatus Curse…."

Molly dropped the plate she was holding which shattered when it hit the stone floor. "Good Heavens! Is Harry okay?"

"Mum! What's wrong?" Ron came hurrying down, followed by Ginny.

Sirius looked at Molly for a moment before saying, "The exposures Harry's had to Cruciatus… It damaged his sight."

Molly's hands flew to her mouth and Ginny hugged her brother. "But—But—" Molly's eyes started tearing up. "How bad?"

Sirius met Molly's gaze before saying, "The damage is permanent. Harry's completely blind." Molly threw herself into Sirius's arms and started sobbing into his shoulder. Sirius patted her on the back. "I know. It's… It's hard for all of us to deal with."

As Molly cried into Sirius's shoulder, Ginny had grabbed a handful of Floo powder and before anyone could stop her, she'd gone.

-----

Nymphadora Tonks had just started cleaning her house when Ginny Weasley tumbled out of her fireplace and onto the newly vacuumed carpet. "Wotcher, Ginny. What brings you by?"

"Do you know where Harry is?" Ginny asked, urgently.

"Yeah," said Tonks, cleaning the ash off of Ginny and the carpet. "Lily took him to the local hospital. Want me to take you over?"

Ginny nodded. "Yes, please. If you don't mind."

Tonks smiled at the youngest Weasley and grabbed a set of keys off the table. "No problem. Though I warn you… I've only had a driver's license for 2 years. I personally prefer brooms or apparating."

---------------

Once Tonks parked at the hospital, Ginny jumped out of the car and raced inside where she promptly bumped into Mallory. "Where's Harry?" Ginny asked, trying to keep the choke of emotion out of her voice. Mallory pointed and Ginny took off, stopping in the doorway of Harry's room. "Harry," Ginny said, quietly.

Harry turned his head in the direction of Ginny's voice and when Ginny saw the dullness in his eyes, her heart broke. "Gi-Ginny? What are you doing here?"

Ginny slowly went to Harry's side and as she got closer, she caught the scent of wood and wind. It reminded Ginny of broom-flying—Harry's favorite thing in the world. After a moment, she brushed her hand against Harry's cheek. "Hi, Harry." She took his hand and smiled. "I… I never noticed before, but… you smell like… like wood and wind. Like flying…"

"You smell like flowers," Harry replied, lamely. As he felt Ginny's fingers slowly caress his, Harry said, "Ginny… I want you to stop seeing me." Ginny's hand stopped moving and he went on. "You should date someone… who will tell you how beautiful you look… how your eyes look like pools of melted chocolate… How your smile lights up a room…. How gorgeous you look in dress robes."

Ginny started crying and she smacked Harry in the shoulder. "I don't care about that, you dolt! I love YOU! I don't care if you can see or not! I love YOU, Harry James Potter!" With that, she kissed him for a full minute on the lips, and then ran out of the room, sobbing loudly.

Tonks stood in the doorway for a moment before gesturing over her shoulder. "I'm just going to… I-I'll see you guys later. Bye, Harry." Tonks headed out to find Ginny, leaving Lily and Tobias alone with Harry.

Tobias grinned at his little brother. "Way to go, Harry."

"Tobias!" Lily said, shocked.

-------------------

When James went to Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts, the Headmaster was absent, but Severus Snape, the Potions Master was pacing around. "Potter," Snape said, his voice a soft sneer. "What are you doing here?"

"Needed to talk to Dumbledore," James said, squaring off. "Something's happened to Harry."

"How unfortunate," Snape said, his lip curling. "The lowly sidekick of The Chosen One is in trouble. Dear, dear…. Well, maybe it's for the best. Your son never did seem like he'd amount to much… Especially in my class…." Snape gave James a contemptuous look before sweeping out of the office.

"Oh, has Severus left?" Dumbledore said as he came in from a hidden passage. "I was rather hoping he'd join me for a cup of tea," he said, blue eyes twinkling. "So tell, me James… what brings you here?"

"What happened to Harry in the Department of Mysteries…." James started. "I-I know… Pomfrey cleared Harry, but… something's happened."

Dumbledore sat behind his desk. "I see. And how is Harry?"

"Harry… lost his sight. Nerve damage from Cruciatus. It's left him completely blind."

Dumbledore sighed. "I am very sorry, James. This is certainly bad news." The headmaster stood and went on. "I have some contacts—friends in the United States who may be able to help. And perhaps even assist Harry so that he will be ready to come back to school in September."

James looked up, surprised. "Wait, you—you think Harry can still come back to school? Even if he's…"

"Certainly," Dumbledore said, coming around the desk. "Being blind should not rob such a promising student of a future. There are many ways we can help Harry."

"Thank you, sir," James said.

"How many times must I remind you to call me 'Albus', James?" Dumbledore asked, warmly.

James gave the first laugh he'd had in him in two days. "Yes, sir. I-I mean, Albus."

"Much better. Now if you will excuse me, there is a matter of personal importance I must attend to," said Dumbledore as he headed towards the door. James took his cue and followed the headmaster out of the office.

---------------

Once Sirius, James, and Lupin had finished their respective tasks, they met up at the Potter home. James was looking around the house, noticing how disorganized everything was. "Okay, guys," he said, studying Sirius and Lupin. "Let's get this place really cleaned up and organized. Dumbledore suggested we get everything straightened up so Harry can navigate around the house. Sirius, you and Lupin take the first floor. I'll do the upstairs."

Sirius looked at James before saying, "James… do you have any idea of how to take care of a blind teenager?"

James sank into a chair at the kitchen table. "Nope. Dumbledore said he'd help Harry go back to school, but beyond that…"

"Look," Lupin said, pulling out his wand. "Let's work on the house and we'll talk over dinner."

They started working, pausing only during dinner when Sirius conjured sandwiches and a jug of butterbeer. "So all that's left is Harry's room?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah," James replied, grabbing a second sandwich. "And I got a call from Molnaryk. Harry's going to have to stay in hospital for another day or two, and then he'll be able to come home." James hesitated before continuing. "Molnaryk's having a specialist work with Harry before he's released."

"James, are you okay--?" Sirius started to ask when James stood up and threw over the table. "Jeez, James! What gives?"

"I am NOT okay, Sirius!" James growled. "My youngest son is blind for the rest of his bloody life! Voldemort released Bellatrix Lestrange—your stupid cousin—who also happens to be the one who did this to Harry! I am NOT okay, Sirius! I'm bloody pissed off!" James sat back down, his face in his hands, and started to cry. "I can't do this. I can't do this…"

Sirius got up and pulled James into a hug. James held on to his best friend like a life preserver. "It'll be okay, Prongs. Remus and I aren't going to let you do this alone. Now why don't we clean up the kitchen and then have some ice cream before finishing. Okay?"

James let out a harsh laugh before nodding.

--------------------

When Harry finally came home, James was surprised to see the age in the boy's face, making him look older than 16. Instead of his usual round glasses, Harry now wore gold framed sunglasses, and James smirked as he noticed that the lenses were tinted red. 'Gryffindor colors. It suits him.' As Harry navigated through the living room using his new cane, Lily said to James, "Dr. Molnaryk used a little magic to help Harry pick up everything quickly."

"How's Harry dealing with all this?" James asked, as Mallory and Tobias took their brother upstairs.

"I don't know," Lily confessed. "I've tried legillimency, but I didn't get anything. Why did Dumbledore make us teach Harry occlumency?"

"Well, at least Harry's home in time for his birthday."

Lily's hands flew to her mouth with a gasp. Slowly lowering them, she said, "I forgot. Oh, how could I forget my own son's birthday?"

James gave her a one-armed hug. "Hey, we've both been distracted. Thankfully we have two friends who are exceedingly focused."

"Remus and Sirius?"

James grinned. "They're planning a party tonight."

Lily smiled as well. "Where would we be without those two?"

"Let's hope we never find out, Lils."

-----------------------

On September 1st, the Potter home was bustling with activity. Lily had had Harry, Tobias, and Mallory up early to back their bags for the train, as their trunks had been packed the night before and sent to Sirius, who would take them to King's Cross Train Station that morning.

Lily called upstairs as she finished conjuring breakfast. "Tobias, Mallory, Harry bring your bags down now!"

James came in and snatched a piece of toast off the plate. "I'm glad Harry's going back to Hogwarts. Give him a sense of normalcy." Swallowing, James called, "If anyone wants breakfast, they better get down here now or I'm going to eat it all!"

Tobias came hurrying down followed by Mallory. Harry was last, tapping his cane down the steps and pausing once he got to the bottom. "How are we getting to the station, Mum?"

"Your Dad and I are driving you guys down."

"Well," James mumbled with a mouth full of toast. "Your Mum's driving. I'm not allowed to drive according to her."

"James, you're a menace on the road," Lily said as everyone sat down to eat. Turning to look at Harry, she said, "Harry, Hermione's going to work with you on the spellwork and everything, okay? Now eat, you guys. We have to leave in 40 minutes."

Once everyone had eaten and gotten their things together, all 5 Potters got into Lily's car and drove down to King's Cross where they found Sirius and Lupin waiting at the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 with all three trunks.

Tobias and Mallory got on first, and after Harry was on board, the three started to head down the train when someone reached out from a compartment, grabbed a hold of Harry's shirt, and pulled him into a deep kiss. Harry put his arms around his girlfriend and deepened the kiss for a moment before saying, "You know that Ron would have a coronary if he saw this."

Ginny laughed. "Yes, but he's patrolling with Hermione, so we're okay for a little while."

They were about to continue kissing when the compartment door slammed open and Katie Bell stormed in and slapped Harry in the face. She stopped, looking at him, her expression angry. "How could you do this to me, Potter?" she screamed.

"Katie, really!" Ginny said as the Gryffindor Chaser fumed. "It's not Harry's fault he can't see! Besides, I've already spoken with Professor McGonagall about taking over as Seeker and she's approved it."

Katie sat down opposite Ginny and Harry, who were still snuggling. "You're right. I'm sorry, I lost my head. It's just that with being made Captain and losing the best player…. Well, let's just say my summer hasn't been—"

"Oh, look," said a drawling voice from the doorway. Both girls and Harry stiffened at the arrival of Draco Malfoy and his two cronies, Crabbe and Goyle. "It's the sidekick of 'The Chosen One'. Tell me, Potter, how does it feel to know you're going to die blind as a bat?"

With more bravery than he really felt, Harry withdrew his wand from his pocket and pointed it in what he believed to be Draco's direction. "Get out of here, Malfoy. You're not welcome here."

"Oh, so you want to be crippled as well as blind, Potter?" Malfoy sneered. "Well, I can take care of that for you."

"Move, Malfoy," said Neville Longbottom as he came up behind the trio of Slytherins. In the past few years, Neville had gotten taller and more muscled, making him much more intimidating, despite the round, friendly face. "Why don't you play with the rest of your snake friends?" Malfoy was tempted to stay and taunt the group further, but decided to wait. He gave a jerk of his head and left, followed by Crabbe and Goyle.

Once the Slytherins had gone, Ginny, Harry, and Neville sat down. Ginny took Harry's hand and asked, "How was your summer, Neville?"

"Well, Dad and Gran took me to see Mum at St. Mungo's. She still doesn't recognize me, but at least she's starting to talk again."

"Sometimes, I wish it had been me," said Harry, fiddling with his cane. "You know… that I was the one Voldemort tried to kill. Then maybe you'd have both parents."

"Harry," Ginny said, surprised. "How can you say that? How can you wish that Voldemort tried to kill you? Besides, for all you know your parents could have been killed and you'd end up having to live with that aunt of yours."

Harry laughed. "There's no way the Dursleys would have taken me in. And if they had, they'd probably be too afraid of me to do anything."

----------------

The remainder of the ride to Hogwarts was spent with conversation and joking, and the sharing of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. Ginny and Neville were having fun with Harry as he tried to find a bean flavor that wasn't disgusting. "This would be a whole lot easier if I could, you know, SEE the stupid things," Harry said after getting a red wine vinegar flavored bean.

Once the train stopped, Ginny took Harry's left arm in hers and led him off the train and onto the platform to wait for their respective siblings. As they waited for Ron, Tobias, and Mallory, Harry heard Hagrid, the groundskeeper and Care of Magical Creatures teacher, hollering "Firs' years over here! Firs' years this way now!"

"Harry, Ginny!" Tobias shouted as he and Mallory came over followed by Ron and Hermione. Ron looked slightly tense as he saw how cozy Ginny and Harry looked. "Come on, you two love birds," Tobias said gently nudging his brother. "We have to get going. Ron, if Hermione sits on your lap and Ginny sits Harry's I think we can all fit in one carriage." Ron and Hermione shared an uncomfortable glance but nodded.

Once they all arrived at Hogwarts Castle, Ginny again led Harry through the corridors. For Ginny, it was surprising how comfortable she was with Harry, even though he was blind now. Arm in arm with her boyfriend as he tapped his cane along the floor, Ginny found herself with a new appreciation of the beauty of the castle. After a short while, the scents of food wafted through the hallway as the students reached the Great Hall. Once at the Gryffindor table, Harry sat between this girlfriend and his brother. Harry nudged Ginny and said, "Is there anyone new at the staff table?"

"Yes," Ginny said and Harry noticed an odd tone to her voice. "Horace Slughorn. Remember? We met him this summer. And Snape looks positively gleeful."

"Well that can't mean anything good," Tobias said as he looked at the Potions Master.

Once the food appeared, Harry and the others started eating, though Harry kept an ear on the conversations going on around him. And apparently the girls in Gryffindor House were finding Harry even more desirable. Well that was twisted. Those girls only liked him now that he was blind? Well if any of the girls did try anything Ginny would hit them with a bat-bogey hex before they could say 'I love you, Harry'.

After everyone had eaten their fill and the last plate had vanished from the tables, Dumbledore stood and said, "To our new students, welcome to Hogwarts. To our old students, welcome back. This year we have two new staff appointments. The first is Horace Slughorn who will be taking over Potions as Severus Snape will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts this year."

"What?" Tobias shouted. "Oh, God! Now I really wish I hadn't gotten my DADA O.W.L.! I mean Umbridge was bad enough…!"

Once the initial shock had work off, and Dumbledore had dismissed the students, Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Neville went up to the staff table to talk to Hagrid.

"How are you lot?" Hagrid asked the group of teenagers as they came up. His gaze landed on Harry after sweeping over the rest of them. "How're you doin', Harry? Dumbledore told me what happened."

Harry looked up in the direction of Hagrid's voice. "I'm getting along, Hagrid."

"Well, if any of you need anything, just ask. You lot know where to find me."

"We will, Hagrid," Neville said as he led the way up to Gryffindor tower. Once in the common room, Harry and Ginny kissed goodnight before Ron pulled his best friend up the stairs.

"I really wish you'd stop having your mouth all over Ginny's face, Harry."

Harry chuckled as he pulled pajamas out of his trunk. "Well, it's not like I can see her lips any more, Ron." And being blind, Harry had no chance to duck before the pillow hit his head.

---------------

At breakfast the next morning, McGonagall handed out class schedules to the Gryffindor students. She went to Harry last and waited until he turned in her direction. "I noticed that you haven't opted to continue with Potions, Potter."

Even with the glasses hiding his eyes, Minerva McGonagall could tell that Harry was surprised by this comment. "Well, my marks weren't high enough, Professor. And besides, I-I can't…"

"Professor Slughorn has been informed about your situation, Potter, and is more than willing to accommodate you."

Harry nodded and took his new class schedule which he noticed had been charmed to be real both in Braille and English. "Thank you, Professor."

"My pleasure, Potter," McGonagall replied, smiling lightly. "Though I have to say that I'm rather upset that you will no longer be on the Gryffindor Quidditch team."

"Me, too, Professor," Harry said as he tucked away his schedule. "Me, too."

-----------

When Ron, Hermione, Neville and Harry entered the Potions classroom, the first thing Harry noticed was that the room didn't smell as damp and moldy as usual. The second thing Harry noticed were the sounds of various potions simmering all around the room.

Neville sat with Ron at one station and Hermione sat with Harry at another. As Hermione set everything up for both of them, Harry thought about Neville.

In his first year, Neville had been accident-prone and forgetful, making everyone doubt his title as 'The Boy Who Lived'. But after the 4th year, Neville had become much more assertive, taking on his full role. Neville had changed the most since the TriWizard Tournament where he'd not only managed to tie with Cedric Diggory for the Cup, but had also managed to save the older boy's life when a Death Eater in disguise had used Neville's blood to restore Voldemort to power.

After a few minutes, Horace Slughorn entered the classroom and looked at all the students. "Welcome to Advanced potions, 6th years! Now, some of you I know already, and others are new faces—Ahh, Mr. Longbottom!" Slughorn exclaimed. "You missed my lunch on the train, m'boy! We'll have to catch up later, won't we? And Miss Granger, the Gryffindor Prefect! I've heard positively brilliant things about you from McGonagall." Hermione blushed as Slughorn made his was to hers and Harry's station. "And Mr. Potter. I knew your parents well. Your mother was one of my top students and certainly one of my favorites."

"Thank you, sir," Harry said, nodding.

"Very sorry to hear about your situation. But no matter. No sight isn't any reason to do poorly in my class. I remember one of my early students, Jennifer Waldenmyer, had been blind since the age of 10. Exceeds Expectations on her OWL, and an Outstanding in her NEWT. Don't worry, Potter, we'll help you along." Slughorn clapped his hands together and looked at the rest of the class. "Now, you all may have noticed the potions simmering around the room. Just to get your potion-making juices flowing, I'd like someone to tell me what each of these potions are. Miss Granger," he said, pointing to a cauldron filled with what looked like plain water. "Please tell us what's in this one."

"Veritaserum," Hermione answered, with only a sliver of hesitation. "It's the most powerful truth serum in existence."

"Absolutely correct. Mr. Potter, please come to the front of the class, if you please," Slughorn said, and Harry stood, using his cane to help him make his way to the front of the class. After a moment Harry felt Slughorn's hand on his shoulder and the professor steered Harry to another cauldron and handed him a long wooden spoon. "Now, Potter, since you can't tell me what these potions look like, you're going to have to use your other senses. Give this potion a stir and tell me about it."

Harry put the spoon in the cauldron and gave the potion a stir. "It's thick," said Harry. "It feels like loose mud." Harry smelled the potion and he had a vivid memory of Hermione brewing a potion in the girl's bathroom. 'It smells like PolyJuice Potion."

Slughorn did not ask how Harry knew what PolyJuice like, but rather said, "15 points to Gryffindor. Now if you will please sit back down, Mr. Potter. Ahhh, Miss Granger. Please tell us what this potion is."

As Hermione answered, Harry followed the sound of her voice back to his seat. Once Hermione had been awarded 10 points, Slughorn went on. "Now… a little contest for you all. Whoever can make the best Draught of Living Death will win this." He pulled out a small bottle filled with a golden potion. "Felix Felicis. Lucky potion. A full 6 ounces—enough for 24 hours. Mr. Potter… since you don't have a book, I have one for you if you'll come up here, please."

When Harry went up, Slughorn pressed a book into his hands. "McGonagall charmed it so you can read it. But I should warn you, the previous owner did some of his own writing in it, I think. The charm translated everything, that's why I mention it."

"Yes, sir. And thank you," Harry replied, heading back to his seat and starting on his potion. Harry's parents had said that if he followed instructions for Potions class exactly, there shouldn't be any problems. So, doing just that, Harry began reading the text. The notes scribbled in made the original text hard to read, but Harry knew that sometimes, other people knew much more than he did. Taking a chance, Harry followed the previous notes whenever they strayed from the original instructions.

At the end of class, Slughorn proclaimed Harry's potion to be the best in the class. "Nicely done, lad. Nicely done. Here is your bottle of Felix Felicis, Potter. It's clear that you have your mother's skill. Excellent work." Grinning, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville headed out of class and went off to Defense Against the Dark Arts…. And Snape.

-----------------------

A/N: Next chapter, a blind Harry has to deal with Snape and additional help in class from Slughorn