Rating: Strong M (weeeh, Jayne!)
Set: Post HBP
A/N: I'm writing this for three main reasons. The first one is because I wanted to write something a little more…worked, an effort-piece rather than another spur of the moment one off. I also wanted to write something that actually had chapters, something that would force me to update and keep writing. The second reason is because I wanted to write this pairing as realistically as possible. Remember – this is realistic for the Angst department! This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, and I appreciate that. The third reason is, pure and simply, I wanted to indulge a little and write some !exclamationmark! Angst, without having to tone it down. Yes, it is OTT and overdramatic. And that's okay, I have decided. So there are my three reasons. For Jayne I'll add a forth one: to get some practice writing lime. Of the light variety, fear not, my other readers. But all the same…Anyhoo. Enough of this.
1. Anything and everything you might expect in a Liberal Angst piece (basically everything that is in Razorblade Connection: alcohol, self-injury, suicide, anorexia…all of those. Yes, I did warn you I wasn't going to "tone it" down!). I am striving for a slice of realism though, so don't worry about that.
2. Also expect some light lime in later chapters. We'll see how I go at writing one of those, so depending on that! I will warn you before the chapter, however, so if you're not a fan, don't worry.
3. Obviously enough, SLASH. SLASH SLASH SLASH and if my fingers cooperate with my cesspit of a mind some PRETTY HEAVY SLASH.
The smoke cleared and Harry dragged his hand away from the Auror. He looked up quickly, and met the man's eyes defiantly as the latter took a firm grip on his elbow instead and attempted to steer him towards the train.
"I'm not going."
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Potter?"
"You heard me."
The Auror paused, as if slightly confused. Politely so.
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
Harry took a great deep breath.
"I'm not going back to Hogwarts."
The man's eyes narrowed, and he paused. The smoke billowed out again, and Harry's eyes swept the platform searchingly in hope of seeing Ron or Hermione.
"I am sorry but you have little choice in the matter, Mr. Potter."
Harry looked up again at the Auror. The cloak hid most of his face, but Harry could not mistake the contempt. The man went on without hesitation.
"Your wand is no longer on you; therefore you shall come with me."
The teenager let out a cry of dismay and plunged a hand into his Muggle jeans. His expression darkened as he felt uselessly round the seams.
The Auror smirked, and chose his next words carefully.
"You don't want to go making this difficult for yourself, Mr. Potter."
Harry sneered and jerked his elbow out of his grasp. He watched the Auror tense, and gave him a look of greatest disgust. And then Harry suddenly became aware that the man was waiting for an answer.
"I'll come quietly, if that's what you mean." He muttered coldly, eyes cast down. "But I can walk by myself, thanks. And I want my wand back."
Five minutes later, Harry shoved his wand into his back pocket, looking away from Ron and Hermione's concerned gaze.
"An Auror to 'escort you to Hogwarts'?".
"Yeah. I'm not even that surprised."
"I can't believe Professor McGonagall would do something like that," Hermione went on in an upset tone. "Unless….." She looked up with an accusing gasp. "Oh-Harry! You didn't tell her about the Horcruxes, did you!"
Ron looked at Harry suddenly.
"You did…didn't you, mate?"
Harry hesitated, then shook his head.
Hermione let go an angry titter. "Harry!" She said again.
"Dumbledore told me not to tell anyone!" Harry defended himself quickly.
"Yes, Harry but…" she bit her lip. "But he's dead now, Harry."
Harry looked away.
"If he were still alive, he wouldn't have sent an Auror, you know that. But now that McGonagall's in control; you need to tell her! This is something she has a right to know."
"A right to know?" Harry echoed. "It's me who has to kill him – not anyone else!"
"But that's it Harry! Can't you see? You have to kill him! You're the wizarding world's only hope! McGonagall's just trying to make sure you have the best chance at killing him, Harry."
"I can take care of myself just fine!" Harry shot back angrily.
"Harry-Harry imagine this. You leave as you'd planned, and Voldemort kills you in half a second. I'm not saying you're not a great wizard, Harry. I'm saying that luck was on your side, every single time."
"I wasn't – "
"Harry, there's still a lot you can learn from McGonagall, and from the witches and wizards in the Order! Maybe spells that will actually come in useful and maybe save your life later on." Hermione paused, looking at his face almost tenderly. "I know you want to get this over with as soon as possible, Harry. But maybe all that consists of is you dying. And I couldn't bear that."
There was a long, aching silence. Ron cleared his throat very hesitantly.
"She's…she's right you know, mate. Maybe it's not such a stupid idea to spend this year…to spend this year at Hogwarts. You know – getting ready and all."
"It's your last year, Harry." Hermione appealed again. "Your last year and then you're free. So maybe you shouldn't push all this stuff with McGonagall just now. Maybe you should…just have a chance at enjoying yourself a little this year, as well. Putting it all out of your mind and just being a teenager, you know?"
"Hermione!" Harry yelled. "Voldemort is not going to wait! He can't afford to wait. He knows that with every passing year, I become stronger, and I become more of a – a threat – to him! He won't wait. He'll come for me again, and he won't wait to do it!"
He looked back and forth from their eager, uncomprehending faces with increasing desperation. Finally he kicked his trunk open and searched through it, speaking angrily all the while.
"Right," he said furiously. "Right! I'm going to go and talk to McGonagall. I'm not going to be…not going to be caged here like some-like some!" He broke off with a hiss of frustration. Kneeling by the trunk, he paused and took a deep, shuddering breath and then spoke again in a deep, angry voice.
"Go away, Hermione. I'm going to get changed."
Silently, Hermione rose from her seat and glided out the compartment, slamming the door behind her.
She looked up from the desk, seemingly surprised.
"The beginning of year feast is just starting, Potter. You won't want to miss that, surely."
"It's not the same without Dumbledore, so I don't consider myself to be missing anything, Professor."
Professor McGonagall's mouth opened slightly, and she coughed softly. "Yes." She murmured sadly, looking away briefly.
On his feet, Harry struggled to sympathize. He was still coursing with anger.
"You sent that Auror didn't you?"
She paused a moment and took off her glasses.
"Sit down." She said in a tired voice.
She rubbed her eyes and looked up at him. "You know why I sent the Auror, Potter."
"For my own protection?" Harry sneered at her blatantly. A shadow of something flickered in Professor McGonagall's eyes.
"To make sure you came back to Hogwarts."
Harry fought to contain his temper; then he spat it out.
"I beg your pardon?" The steely note was back in her voice.
"Why should I come back to Hogwarts?"
For a moment she looked quite flustered.
"It was what Professor Dumbledore wished of you, Harry. For you to finish your education. Besides, you're safer here, Harry. Surely you must see that."
"You can't keep me safe forever!" Harry yelled. "I have to kill him, Professor!"
"Not at the age of 16!" She sounded quite angry, and Harry thought for a moment he had gone too far. He held his breath.
"You're only 16, Harry! You only have one more year of school; and you had better go ahead and enjoy it! You don't have to worry about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, this year. We have done the utmost to ensure your protection – whilst you remain at Hogwarts." She eyed him beadily, seeing him unconvinced.
"Besides, I'm afraid it's not up to you, Harry."
His first name fell from her lips oddly, and Harry knew she was afraid for him.
"You'll keep me here against my will?"
"Oh stop over-dramatizing, Potter!" McGonagall snapped, sounding a lot more like her old self. "Of course I damn well will! Now go to the feast, Potter. And enjoy yourself."
Harry hesitated. "Professor…"
"Go, Harry. We'll talk about this some other time."
He traipsed from the room without a word, but stopped outside the door, thinking for a moment.
"Sit down, Mr. Potter."
"You haven't given me any ink."
"Yes, it hurts, doesn't it?"
Yes, it does hurt. 'I must not tell lies.'
And so Harry fell in love.