THE MATHIAS PROPHESY
As Harry headed towards her last class before the Christmas recess, she was frustrated and upset. It had been over six weeks since peter Pettigrew had been apprehended and questioned. Ron had done an excellent job portraying her father's ghost, and Pettigrew had crumbled in terror, succumbing to his guilty conscience over betraying her parents, and helping Voldemort to send her back in time to the night of their death.
Remus Lupin had fully recovered from his silver poisoning and Harry had regained her magic, her friends becoming more aware of her increased abilities. Ron took her powers in stride, coming from a pure blood wizarding family he was used to seeing wizards and witches of varying degrees of power. Hermione, on the other hand, was amazed that Harry was becoming so adept at skills she was only beginning to understand. Harry also suspected Hermione might be a little jealous, since Harry was finding that many of her abilities were so natural that it took very little effort to accomplish them.
Professors Lupin, Snape, and Dumbledore were very pleased with her progress with her advanced tutoring sessions. She was doing well with Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Lupin and Snape had secured permission from Dumbledore for her to read some of the restricted books in both the library and their private collections. She found them interesting, and often frightening. It made her more aware than ever of how difficult it was going to be to try to defeat Lord Voldemort.
Professor McGonagall was filling in for Sirius with transfiguration until his return, and now had Harry able to turn large pieces of furniture into animals such as horses, cattle, and camels. she had also been continuing to try and transform in secret, and suspected that soon she would be able to get the spells right, and become an animagus. She had a feeling that the hawk she had been trying to become was actually some other type of large bird, and decided on her next trial to try to assume the shape of the suspected bird.
She was also getting along much better with Professor Snape. She found that underneath that sour demeanor there was a nice person, albeit reserved. She was still working on getting the Wolfbane potion mixed correctly, and after the recess, he was finally going to let her start to mix some of the ingredients with his supervision.
Hurrying through the corridor, she raced towards the dungeon, for her regular potions class, and knew Snape would not be pleased that she was late. She had been with Professor Lupin, who had been trying to placate her, since she had heard no news about when Sirius would be finally exonerated, and able to return to Hogwarts. All he would tell her was to be patient a little longer, but her patience was worn out. She had done everything they had asked of her, but they would not answer any of her questions, and her adolescent temper was now on a short fuse.
As she turned the corner towards the dungeon, she saw Snape, just entering the classroom ahead of her, and swore under her breath. She knew she would end up on the detention table and he would make the rest of her day utterly miserable. It would take every ounce of determination she had to remain civil and not loose her temper with him. He might be a fairly decent human being when they worked one on one, but he could still be a tyrant in class.
"Potter, you're late," he scowled as she entered the dungeon, "take the front desk, and consider yourself on classroom detention."
"Yes, Professor Snape," she bit her lip in annoyance, to keep from snapping at him.
"Mr. Weasley, perhaps you could tell us the ingredients used for the potion to cure poison ivy?"
"Uh… moss, aloe plant, alcohol, and uh…"
"Miss Potter, perhaps you would like to help Mr. Weasley? It's apparent that he did not do his assignment."
"Toadstool roots boiled down to paste with white oleander," Harry responded almost immediately, shifting uncomfortably in her seat.
"Mr. Weasley, why don't you join Miss Potter at the front work table? It seems the Gryffindor students have their minds on the holiday rather than potions."
As Ron moved to sit beside Harry, Malfoy snickered from the back of the room, whispering loud enough for Harry and Ron to overhear.
"Maybe Weasley and Potter should just think about how to butter up Professor Snape with Christmas presents, but then again, Weasley is too poor to get him anything, and Potter already spends a good deal of time with him alone. I'm sure she knows what he likes."
Harry waited to see if Professor Snape would respond, knowing he had also overheard the snide and rude innuendo. When he didn't look up from his desk, she sat back and stopped working.
It was one thing to be on detention, but Snape should not allow Malfoy to make such a remark. Snape was the head of Slytherin house, to which Malfoy belonged, and everybody knew he favored them, but Malfoy's conduct was unacceptable. The last time Malfoy had made an off color remark, they had all started fighting in the hallway, and everybody was given some form of detention.
"Miss Potter, you are not cutting up your plants," Professor Snape finally remarked without looking up. Harry knew he had some form of telepathic ability, so she was not surprised that he knew what she was doing.
"No, and I won't until Mr. Malfoy apologizes to both myself and Ron," she replied keeping her voice calm, "you may not find his remark offensive, but I do."
"What remark would that be, Miss Potter?"
'The one we both know he made, Professor, and if you are not going to do anything about it, then maybe I will."
"Are you threatening another student, Miss Potter?" Snape asked, finally looking up, his dark eyes glaring icily.
"I don't threaten, Professor, I take action," Harry countered.
"Harry, don't do anything stupid," Hermione whispered from behind her, "Snape's in a bad enough mood already."
"Miss Granger, do you have something to say to the class? If not, please refrain from talking or you will find yourself with your friends at the detention table," Snape told her, without taking his eyes from Harry, "go back to work, Miss Potter."
"No, not until Malfoy apologizes."
"Miss Potter," Snape got up slowly, his eyes never wavering from her face, "I told you to continue your work, unless you would prefer to go to the Headmaster?"
"As a matter of fact, I'm sure professor Dumbledore would like to know all about this little incident," Harry answered softly, her temper ready to explode.
"Harry, don't!" Ron hissed. "It's not worth it. Malfoy is just a jealous jerk. Let it go," he said taking her arm, trying to keep her anger in check.
"I'm sorry, Ron, but I will not sit here and listen to Draco insult my friends or my reputation, not to mention Professor Snape's credibility. If you and the Professor choose to turn the other cheek, that's your business, but I am not going to do so."
"And what are you going to do about it, Potter? Go crying to the Headmaster?" Draco taunted her brazenly.
"Mr. Malfoy, that will be quite enough," Snape reprimanded. He was aware of how powerful Harry was becoming, and her adolescent temper did not mix well with that kind of magical ability.
"No, Draco, I'm going to go see Professor Dumbledore for whatever detention he sees fit to give me for doing this," Harry drew her wand, pointing it at Draco, "poison ivy poison oak, poison sumac with one stroke." A bright blue stream of light hit Malfoy in the stomach before he could duck, and almost immediately, he started breaking out with the poisonous rashes all over his body. "Don't ever insult me or any of my friends or instructors again, Draco, or the next time you will find yourself in a worse situation," Harry told him as she gathered up her books and supplies. "Oh, and by the way, Happy Christmas. Professor, I'll be in the Headmaster's office, whenever you care to join me," she called over her shoulder, flouncing out of the classroom before Snape exploded in a furious tirade.
Harry went directly to the Headmaster's Office. She knew he would be angry with her, but she needed him to understand how she felt. She missed Sirius and couldn't understand why it was taking so long for him to be cleared of her parent's murder. Pettigrew had confessed and was being held in custody. She knew there were other people involved, people in high government positions, but she didn't care. She wanted some stability in her life.
It was Christmas, and she should be happy, but she wasn't. She had no real family, her aunt and uncle didn't like her and merely tolerated her because they had no choice. She couldn't ever remember even getting Christmas presents that weren't used clothes or broken toys left over from her cousin, Dudley, when she got presents at all.
Her first Christmas at Hogwarts had been the first time she could ever remember being happy for the holiday. She had friends, and Ron's family treated her as if she was one of them. She still had that first sweater Molly Weasley had knitted for her, not that it fit any longer, but she couldn't bear to part with it. That same Christmas Dumbledore had given her the invisibility cloak that had belonged to her father, and there had been candy and treats galore.
Every holiday since then had been special, and when Sirius had sent her a new Thunderbolt broom, it was the best present she had ever received. This Christmas though, she didn't want anything more than for Sirius to be there with her. To have someone she could call a family of her own. He was her godfather, and like her, he deserved a little bit of happiness. Twelve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and three years on the run as an escaped convict had taken their toll. She wanted them both to be happy for Christmas. Hadn't the price they paid been more than enough?
"Lemon tarts," Harry uttered the password as she reached the gargoyle guarding the moving stairs to the Headmaster's office. Mounting the stairs, she had no idea what to say to Dumbledore, but knew he would have plenty to say to her. Knocking boldly, she waited for his response.
"Enter, Harry," Dumbledore's solemn voice came from the other side of the door.
"Good afternoon, Headmaster," she replied coming to stand in front of his desk. "I'm sure Professor Snape already told you I was coming and his version of why."
"Yes, Child, he told me all about your refusal to comply with his request to do your work until Mr. Malfoy apologized to you."
"Amazing," Harry brazenly remarked, "It's not like him to be so forthcoming unless he also left out part of the reason."
"He told me Mr. Malfoy insulted you and Mr. Weasley. He also told me you cursed Draco with poison ivy and a few other plant reactions. You know I will not tolerate such behavior, even from you. It seems to me you have been getting away with a lot of mischief lately. Perhaps I've been too lenient with you, Harry?" Harry was taken back by the Headmaster's attitude. He had always been fair and would listen to her side, but today he seemed to be favoring Snape. She opened her mouth to reply, but he motioned her to be silent. "I expect better from you, Child. Severus assured me that he was going to deal with Mr. Malfoy after class. Instead, you disrupted his lesson, and broke the school rule about using magic against another student. You are to go back to class, and apologize to Professor Snape. He will determine what detention you will receive after the lesson is complete. Do you understand me?"
Harry just stared at Dumbledore and managed to nod mutely. She was confused and hurt by his attitude. He had always been there for her and would at least listen. If he felt she was wrong, he would explain things to her. She had never known him to be unfair. 'Sirius, where are you? Even Dumbledore won't listen to me. I need you,' she thought as she turned to leave the office, fighting back tears. 'Can't anybody see how lonely I am?'
Leaving the office, she knew she should do as Dumbledore instructed, but she was too angry and hurt by his curt attitude and dismissal. Instead, she found herself going up into the next tower and onto the roof. It was cold, and she pulled her robes around her for some added protection. Sitting down by the gargoyle, she started to cry. She began thinking about Halloween, when, after being sent back in time, her mother had held her in her arms. She had never told anyone about it, and right now, it was the only comfort available. Sirius was still in hiding, Remus was in the middle of a class, Snape was on the warpath and Dumbledore had all but shunned her away. She felt alone in the world…
Severus Snape was furious. Dumbledore had sent word down to his class that Harry would be returning and he was to determine her detention after the lesson, but she never showed up. As he strode swiftly through the halls towards the Headmaster's office, he was amazed at the temerity of the young witch, to blatantly ignore Dumbledore. He assumed she had gone to see Professor Lupin, and anticipated he would find him in with Dumbledore pleading the girl's case to him.
"Lemon tarts," Snape said sharply, uttering the password as if it were something to be avoided, and mounted the moving stairs to Dumbledore's office.
"Enter, Severus," Dumbledore's irate voice came from behind the door.
"I knew I would find you here," Snape addressed Professor Lupin irritably, "where is she?"
"She's not here, Severus," Lupin answered calmly, "and I haven't seen her since she left me following Defense Against the Dark Arts to go to Potions Class."
"Then where is she?" he demanded arrogantly, folding his arms across his chest.
"We don't know, Severus. No one has seen her since she left my office," Dumbledore explained worriedly. "I was very angry with her, but it is not like Harry to be openly defiant of my instructions."
"Potter is her father's daughter, and believes she can get away with doing as she pleases."
"You know that isn't true, Severus. She's headstrong, like James was, yes, but she knows her limits, and would never deliberately go against Albus."
"Then what do you think has happened to her?" Snape smiled contemptuously, "I don't believe she's foolish enough to leave the building; not with Voldemort waiting to try and kill her at any rate."
"Enough! I want the two of you to stop arguing, and find Harry. We all promised Sirius she would be safe and secure until he could return, and now we have no idea where she is. I am concerned that she may be injured, or perhaps fallen into the hands of some of Voldemort's spies."
"Headmaster, surely Hogwarts is secure and she is safe here," Remus remarked warily.
"We have been breached in the past by some of Voldemort's supporters, as well as the Dark Lord himself, prior to his resurrection. Evil has many faces, Remus, and we must be prepared for any possibility. I want the two of you to search the building; I will have Hagrid search the grounds. She's been missing for over an hour and the more time passes the more concerned I am becoming."
"You aren't coming with us, Headmaster?" Severus asked arching his brow. He was fully aware of the old man's affection for Harry, and was puzzled by his not joining the search.
"No, I need to stay here. I am awaiting an important message from the Order concerning the investigations into the information Pettigrew gave us. I will join you as soon as I hear from them, if you haven't already found her," Dumbledore looked at the Potions master over his spectacles. His face was grave and his eyes reflected the worry he felt for Harry.
"Very well, Headmaster. We will find her. Remus lets get on with it. If the castle has been breeched, Miss Potter is in grave danger." Severus turned on his heel and headed towards the stairs, the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor following worriedly in his wake…
Harry knew she was missing Potions, and after about fifteen minutes of sitting on the roof, she was freezing. Deciding she had better get going on down to the dungeon, she wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and went over to the door which exited back into the tower. Pulling on the handle, it didn't open, and trying again, she found that it was apparently stuck. Pulling out her wand, she uttered, "Aolhomora," and tried the door again. It wouldn't budge.
"That's funny," she said aloud to herself, "why can't I get back in? Maybe the wind distorted my voice, Alohamora!" she shouted at the door, pointing her wand at the lock, with still no result. The blue light from her wand just seemed to be absorbed into the door. "Oh, great, now I'm stuck up here in the cold, and Snape's really going to have a fit. Let me see if anybody is outside. Maybe if I yell, they'll hear me."
Walking over to the edge of the roof, she looked over the short wall, but didn't see anybody out on the grounds. Looking over to Hagrid's hut, she noted it was dark, and he didn't seem to be home. Harry considered climbing out onto the wall and working her way around the building to one of the other towers, but decided against it. 'If I only had a broom!' she thought. 'Then I could just fly down and go in through the main doors. Damn, I'm already in enough trouble, what am I going to do now?'
Going back to the door, she started banging on it and yelling, "Mr. Filch, I'm locked out on the roof. Please let me back in." The door was solid oak and must have been a foot thick, so she gave up and sat down. She didn't think Filch was nearby anyway. 'Don't panic,' she thought to herself, 'someone will come looking for you in a little while, just sit down and try to stay warm.' Huddling up behind the gargoyle to try to keep the wind off her she put her face down into her robes and wrapped her arms around her body in an effort to conserve body heat.
'You've really done it now. Dumbledore will probably really expel you this time, and it's your own fault for feeling sorry for yourself,' Harry chided as she sat and waited. 'Why didn't I just do as I was told for once, and go back to Potions? Now I'm locked out on the roof and nobody knows I'm here. I wonder what time it is. It would be a real joke if I froze to death up here, Voldemort would really love it. I could just hear him now, "Potter got locked out on the roof, and froze right under Dumbledore's nose. So much for that foolish Prophecy. She did me a favor."
Worry and fright began to overtake Harry's nerves, and she got up and again tried banging on the door. "Someone, please hear me," she sobbed as she skinned her knuckles, "the door is locked and I can't get back in," she cried sliding down onto the roof in front of the massive door.
She had to find a way to get someone to notice her. Her feet were numb, and her teeth had begun to chatter from the cold, as she sat huddled, shivering in a heap. 'Stay calm, and try to think. You know the Headmaster will send someone to find you when you don't show up for class. Just don't let your imagination run away with you,' she reasoned with herself. 'There has got to be a way to draw attention to your predicament. What would your father or Sirius do in a case like this? Or even Snape…that's it! Bless you, Professor; if this works, I'll never give you a hard time again. That is, if Dumbledore doesn't throw me the hell out of school first,' she smiled, drawing her wand…
"Which way do you want to go?" Remus asked, entering the hall by the Headmaster's office.
"Let's go to the unused classrooms off the third floor corridor. Perhaps she went up there."
"What reason would Harry have to go to the third floor? She was supposed to go back to the dungeon. Don't you think she would have started out in that direction?"
"I don't pretend to know what goes on in Miss Potter's mind. I do know that she was angry, and since the Headmaster was not his usual sympathetic self with her today, she may have decided to take a detour."
"Listen, Snape, Harry is a good person, and thinks the world of Albus. If he was short with her, she was probably upset, especially now. She was late for Potions because of me, and didn't want to wait for a pass. She's worried about the situation with Sirius. I know you and Sirius don't get along, but Harry is sixteen years old. Sirius is her only family, aside from Lily's sister and her family, and they don't want her around. She's getting impatient, and doesn't understand what is taking so long for his name to be cleared."
"Miss Potter is aware of the situation with Pettigrew and knows there are important people involved, so she should realize that these things take time. She did not need to be disruptive in class, or put that curse on Mr. Malfoy."
"Humph, from what I've seen of Draco Malfoy he's just like his father. It's no wonder she doesn't like him. I'm just surprised she hasn't been more aggressive with him."
"Don't judge Draco because of Lucius. The boy only knows what his father tells him. I've been trying to get through to him, but it isn't easy. His father's bigotry runs deep. I had hoped he would show some kind of improvement after he found out Harry was a witch, since it was apparent that he rather liked what he saw."
"Draco liked Harry? Now that's interesting, but I don't believe she would ever be interested in him," Remus told the Potions Master as they entered the third floor corridor. It was dusty and the dust on the floor showed no sign of anyone having come that way in quite some time. "Severus, it's obvious that she didn't come up here," Remus pointed, indicating the undisturbed dust. "Let's try thinking like Harry. What would she do if she were upset or angry?"
"What do most adolescent girls do?" Severus asked impatiently. "My sister used to go up in our attic and sulk or cry."
"Severus, that's it! Where does Harry go when she's upset?"
"I'm sure I have no clue. She doesn't confide in me about her personal life all that much. I always thought she went to you, Black, or the Headmaster."
"Exactly! Let's see if she went to my office to wait till my class was done."
"Didn't you go to your office after your last class?"
"No, I went directly up to see Albus. I wanted to let him know that Harry was getting very impatient waiting for news of Sirius. That's when I found out about what happened during Potions."
"Very well, come on. If that doesn't work, we'll go down to the dungeon and work through all the empty rooms from top to bottom. Did anyone think to try her room?"
"Albus sent Minerva down as soon as you told him she didn't make it to class."
"All right, let's get on with it. I really don't believe she would leave the building alone, knowing how dangerous it is for her," Snape replied as they went down the stairs to where Professor Lupin's office was on the second floor. He was more than a little concerned that she was missing, and knew that she could be in a good deal of danger. 'Damn fool girl, I know you were mad, but you have to learn to let me handle the students in my house, in my own way,' he thought, 'Now look how much trouble you're causing. If anything's happened to you I'll never forgive myself,' Snape declared guiltily to himself, picturing her green eyes flashing at him in anger before she left his classroom.
"Harry," Professor Lupin called opening his office. Harry knew his password and had his permission to go in to find him if she needed him. "Harry!" he called more forcefully, looking around as they both entered, and was met by silence.
"She's not here, Remus," Snape said flatly, "we'd better go on down to the dungeons and start a methodical search."
"Do you think we should split up?'
"It might be best. We will be able to cover the building faster. Do you want to start upstairs? She may be in one of the second floor class rooms."
"It's a possibility. Why don't we ask some of the portraits if they've seen her?" Remus suggested, "she had to have passed someone."
"Very well, we could also ask the castle ghosts. You ask Sir Nicholas and I will go and find the Baron. Peeves may also have seen her," Snape curled his lip distastefully at the mention of the nasty poltergeist, "we'll meet back in the headmaster's office in fifteen minutes."
Both men parted and hurriedly searched the empty rooms, with no success. Snape questioned both the Bloody Baron and Peeves, who was only co-operative since the Baron was there, but neither had seen the missing witch.
Professor Lupin meanwhile searched the empty classrooms on the second floor and spoke with both Sir Nick and the portrait of the Fat Lady who guarded the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. The result was the same. There was no sign of Harry. He was growing increasingly worried as he headed back towards the Headmaster's Office. Professor Snape had arrived ahead of him and was waiting by the gargoyle, his brow furrowed with worry. 'He cares for her too,' Lupin thought noting the expression on Snape's face. Snape immediately masked his features when he saw Lupin approaching him, silently cursing himself for allowing the other man to see his worried frown.
"Severus, I found no sign of her anywhere. Did you get anything from the Baron or Peeves?" he asked hopefully.
"No. She does not appear to be in the building. We had best report back to Albus, and see if Hagrid has returned yet. I hope the foolish child has not gone into the forest."
"I wonder if Minerva checked her closet to see if her winter cloak is missing."
"I don't believe so," Snape replied uncertainly, "we should do so before we tell Albus anything. At least it will help us to determine if she went out." Snape turned, moving back down the hallway towards the unused Prefects room that had been given to Harry in an effort to protect her from Voldemort. "Has she changed her password?"
"Puppy Prongs," Lupin replied, and they entered the room. Everything appeared to be in order, and they went immediately over to her closet. Her winter cloak was hanging neatly on a hook, along with her scarf and gloves.
"She doesn't appear to have returned here at all," Snape observed, "her textbooks are not here. Whatever happened, it occurred after she left Albus' office."
"Come on. We had better tell him. I know he's worried," Remus said as they left and sealed her door again.
Neither man was looking forward to telling the Headmaster that they had been unsuccessful, and uttering the password to his office, their expressions were grim.
"Headmaster…Albus…" Snape began gently. He didn't want the old man to feel any worse than he was sure he already did. "We were unable to find any sign of her. Perhaps Hagrid has been more successful?"
"No, I just heard from him. He searched both the forest and went into Hogsmeade; no one has seen or heard from Harry," Dumbledore told him, unable to hide his worried expression. "I fear something has happened to her, and it's my fault. If I had only taken a few minutes to listen to her…"
"Albus," Lupin laid his hand on the old man's arm, "Harry loves you and I'm sure that even though she was upset, she didn't mean to worry you like this. We'll find her."
"If she's fallen into Voldemort's hands…"
"Albus, Remus, look!" Snape interrupted urgently. "In the sky outside of the window," he pointed excitedly. The familiar symbol for the Deatheaters was hanging over the Whomping Willow, but there was a red circle around it with a slash going through the skull and snake. "I believe it is a Muggle symbol for no or stop. It appears to be directed from the roof by the next tower."
"Harry! She must be locked up there. She doesn't know about the charms you put on the entrances, Albus. How did she get out? The charm is supposed to work both ways?"
"We'll worry about that later," Dumbledore told them heading to the stairs, "we need to get her inside. She must have been out there since she left my office, well over an hour ago, and it's freezing outside."
The three men ran through the hall towards the entrance to the tower, which was the next one down from the Headmaster's office. Mounting the stairs to the tower door, which led out onto the roof, Dumbledore pulled out his wand, but the door was unlocked from the inside. He knew it should have been sealed from both inside and out, and would have to investigate why it had been possible to open it without the unlocking spell. As he pushed on the door, he could feel some resistance as it swung outward onto the roof, and a soft cry followed.
"Harry move back from the door," Lupin called, carefully edging out onto the roof through the narrow opening Dumbledore had made. "Oh, Merlin," he said grabbing Harry up into his arms, as Severus and Dumbledore came out of the stairwell to join him on the roof, "we've got to get her inside, she's half frozen."
"Here," Snape removed his outer robe, which covered his shirt and trousers, "Wrap her in this until we can get her downstairs where it is warm." he said helping Remus as he picked Harry up to carry her from the roof. "Headmaster, should I remove the symbol from the sky?"
"That won't be necessary, Severus. I rather like her idea. Perhaps we should adopt it as our logo?" He smiled following them back into the building. "Ostium obsero," Dumbledore pointed his wand at the heavy door as they began to descend the stairs, securely locking the tower door.
"Headmmaasster," Harry said through chattering teeth, "I'm ssorryy. I ddidnn't mean tttooo…"
"Hush child, don't try to talk. You will have plenty of time for explanations once we have gotten you warm. Remus take her to my office and put her on the sofa in front of the fire. I'll have the house elves bring her up some warm soup and cocoa."
"All right. Hang on Puppy Prongs, we'll get you warmed up and then you can tell us how you came to be on the roof instead of down in Potions where you belonged," Remus told her sternly, but his slight smile belied his anger. 'Thank Merlin she's safe. Sirius would never forgive us if something happened to her while he was away. If nothing else, her explanation should be interesting. I hope Severus isn't too hard on her with the detention, being out on that roof all this time should be punishment enough, and I think Albus will agree with me.'
"Lemon tarts," Dumbledore uttered the password to his office, and they mounted the moving stairs.
"Headmaster, we should be sure she doesn't have frostbite. She was outside for over an hour in the wind," Snape suggested as Remus gently placed Harry on the sofa, returning Severus's robe before wrapping her in the blanket that Dumbledore kept on the back of the sofa.
"Go ahead, Severus, I'll send for the house elves to bring up the food" Dumbledore agreed as he rang for the house elves, "do you have any frostbite potion?"
"I just made some and sent a batch up to the infirmary yesterday," the Potions Master informed him. "Remus help me to get her shoes off. Her hands seem to be okay," Snape told him checking all her fingers.
Remus gently removed her shoes and socks as Harry sat shivering violently, marveling at the gentleness of Professor Snape's touch as he examined her feet.
"You're very lucky, Miss Potter," Snape stated critically, "any longer outside and you would have been severely frostbitten. As it stands now, there doesn't seem to be any damage, but I'm going to give you some of the frostbite potion anyway just to be on the safe side," he explained sternly, as Dobby appeared.
"Headmaster," Dobby said jumping up and down excitedly, "can Dobby get you something?'
"Bring us up some warm soup and hot cocoa for Miss Potter and a pot of tea for myself and the Professors."
"Dobby will send Miss Harry's favorite chicken soup and cocoa along with tea for the Headmaster," he said blinking out as he snapped his fingers. The teapot appeared almost immediately along with a giant mug of cocoa and bowl of steaming soup.
"Severus, why don't you go and get the potion for Harry, while Remus and I get some warm food into her."
"I shall be back shortly, Headmaster," Snape nodded leaving the office, his movement's swift and silent.
"Now, Harry, let Remus give you some of that soup. You're still shivering violently, and we need to get you warm," Dumbledore looked at her, his expression serious, his blue eyes reflecting his inner worry. "I'll help you to get warm," he said sitting down beside her and pulling her up against him while doing a warming charm.
"Yeess, Sirrr…" Harry answered obediently, still unable to control her violent shivering, as Remus stirred the soup and offered her a spoonful. She took the soup as she nestled into the warmth of the headmaster.
"Everything will be all right, Harry," he said sensing her anxiety, "I may be angry with you, but I still love you and am relieved you're safe. We all are," he added as he heard the door open. He knew Severus had returned, even though his step was silent.
"Should I mix the potion with the soup?" Remus asked quietly, looking up at the Potions Master, as he continued to feed Harry.
"No, she needs to drink it undiluted." Snape handed her a small vial of purple fluid. "It will help if you drink it quickly as it is very bitter. It is not something that can be made more palatable without causing it to loose potency."
"I knnooww. It was mmmy ccllaass that miixxed it," Harry reminded him through chattering teeth. Swallowing the potion, she was unable to hide the grimace on her face and the three men smiled in amusement.
"Headmaster, I'll pour out the tea," Snape filled the three cups, and placed them on the table, "why don't you let me warm her while you drink your tea, and then we can alternate until she has warmed sufficiently to stop shivering."
"Very well, Severus. Remus would you care to join me?"
"Of course, she's all done with the soup. We'll let her rest for awhile before she takes the hot chocolate." Professor Lupin took one of the cups from the table while Dumbledore and Snape traded places on the couch.
"Lay back, Miss Potter," Snape instructed gently pressing her head down onto his shoulder. "I don't generally bite, only when I'm particularly furious with little witches who don't show up for class or detention," Snape taunted sarcastically.
Harry just rolled her eyes, doing as he wanted, reminding herself of the promise she made on the roof. He put his arms around her gently, the warming spell helping her to relax. She continued to marvel at how gentle and delicate his touch was, and she sat studying his hands. They were long and elegant, and his nails were neatly trimmed. 'Much too nice for a man,' she thought. 'I wonder how much of a telepath he is. I don't think he can actually read my mind, but I'll bet he has a good idea of what's going through it.' Snape was watching her, and gave a low chuckle under his breath, so that only Harry could hear him. She jumped slightly and looked up at him; his left eyebrow was raised in amusement, his dark eyes glittering. She wanted to scan him, but knew better, so she just settled herself back against him, closed her eyes and soaked in the warming spell. She had begun to doze off, and her teeth had finally stopped chattering, when she became aware of Remus quiet voice speaking to her.
"Harry, Princess…" he touched her cheek lightly with his fingers to rouse her, using her pet name, "you need to drink this cocoa. You're skin is still quite cold."
Opening her eyes, she smiled feebly, and took the cup from his hands. "Umm…the Headmaster's hot chocolate is one of the best kept secrets in this school. I should get stuck out in the cold more often."
"Do you want to change off, Severus? I could warm her for awhile while you rest and enjoy your tea."
"No, she's finally beginning to relax. Just hand me my cup, and I'll manage quite nicely," the Potions Master replied.
Remus handed him his cup of tea, and pulled his chair up to the couch. "Harry, your feet are still like ice. I am just going to massage them for a few minutes to stimulate the circulation," Remus explained. Removing one foot from beneath the blanket, he began to knead it gently, moving from top to bottom with a slow rhythmic motion.
"Harry," Dumbledore moved to sit beside her on the sofa, "do you feel up to telling us how you came to be locked on the roof?"
Harry studied him intently for a moment, and he looked at her over his spectacles, his blue eyes warm, reassuring her that he was not going to be short with her.
"I'm not sure how I got locked out. When I left your office, I went up to the roof because I wasn't ready to deal with Professor Snape. I was upset that you wouldn't listen to me. You always did before, even when I was wrong," she said looking at him with a troubled expression.
"I apologize for that, Child; I was very busy with a very delicate matter. Your little antic could not have occurred at a worse time. I promise it will never happen again."
"Headmaster, we both know that's a promise you may not be able to keep."
"Then, if I'm so preoccupied again, I'll tell you to go back to class and we'll all discuss it in my office later. I didn't mean for you to feel you couldn't come to me with a problem," Dumbledore reassured her, taking her hand in his. "Now finish telling us what happened."
"I had no one to talk to who would listen to me. I couldn't go to Professor Lupin since he was in the middle of a class. I just decided to go up onto the roof and have a good cry. I felt alone, and that nobody really cared what happened to me. It didn't matter if I went directly back to Potions. Professor Snape was already mad," Harry peeked at Snape, who was listening with interest, "and I wasn't ready to apologize, even though you told me to," she said shame faced, unable to look at Dumbledore, as Snape sent another stream of warmth into her.
"Miss Potter, you are probably the most cared about student in this whole school. Black has numerous times risked capture for you. Professor Lupin goes out of his way to help you learn advanced magic to protect you from the Dark Lord and the Headmaster has been keeping an eye on you since birth. I have been protecting you from harm since you walked through the doors six years ago," Snape looked down at her seriously; his voice quiet and even, with no hint of anger or malice.
"That's the problem, Professor. I believe people look out for me because first I was the boy that survived. Then, when everyone realized I was actually a girl, I became the girl in the prophecy, the one who will defeat Voldemort. Nobody looks at me, as just plain old Harry, the orphan witch with a boy's name. You told me yourself that the only reason you're protecting me is that my father saved your life when Professor Lupin almost attacked you in his werewolf form. You have on more than one occasion pointed out to me that fame is not everything," Harry looked at Snape in confusion; she wanted him to understand her feelings, "nobody ever looks at me as a person."
"Child," Dumbledore began slowly, "we all look at you as a person; a very special person. I don't love you because you are destined for a great future. I love you because your father and mother were my friends, and supporters. You are kind, good, and generous, and your life has not been easy. I put you with your aunt and uncle because I didn't want you to be spoiled by what others believed. I wanted to protect you from the gossip and the spotlight as long as possible. Sirius has always loved you, he's your godfather, and he is so proud of you. Remus was your parent's good friend, and he doesn't teach you things to make you stand out. He genuinely cares about you. You never looked at him as if he's a monster simply because he's a werewolf. You care enough about him to want to learn to do a potion that even he can't mix, so that he won't have to worry about harming anyone during his transformations. I think I'll let Severus explain his actions and feelings towards you himself," Dumbledore looked at the Potions Master, his blue eyes mischievous behind his half moon spectacles.
"Headmaster?" Snape shifted uncomfortably.
"I think Harry should know how you feel, Severus. She needs to know you aren't tolerating her presence simply because she's James Potter's daughter."
"Very well," Snape replied reluctantly. "Miss Potter…Harry…what the Headmaster feels you should know is that I merely am pretending to dislike you for your own safety. If I'm in a bad mood, I have been deliberately taking it out on you in an effort to make people think that I am not your ally. Originally, I started out watching you to satisfy the debt I owed to your father, that part is quite true. I was also somewhat disappointed that you were placed into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin. I have never held any true animosity towards you despite the fact that James and I did not usually get along. Your father helped me to turn away from Voldemort, along with Professor Dumbledore, after I lost my own wife and child. You have many of his finer attributes, but you also have some from your mother, and she was always my friend. The plain fact of the matter is that I do like you. Your smart, and brave, and have an understanding of people that is rare, and not because of your being an empath." Snape released her gently, "Remus do you want to sit with her now?" he asked the other professor, guiding the conversation back to Harry and away from him, as he was uncomfortable talking about such personal feelings.
"Of course, Severus," Lupin traded places with the Potions Master, who took over rubbing Harry's cold feet. "Harry, you don't have to feel so alone. We all care about you because we know you. We know you hate being in the limelight and that you sometimes feel like you're carrying a terrible burden. The truth of the matter is that you are. People believe in you, we just want you to feel like any normal teenager. If you think for one moment we don't worry about you, you're wrong, but we worry simply because we care."
"Remus is right, Child. We don't love you because you survived the curse that killed your parents, or because a prophecy tells us how special you are. We all knew that from the beginning. We love you because we know you, the real you, not the celebrity Harry. We love James and Lily's daughter," Dumbledore beamed brushing the hair from her scar, "you see, you're our family too. Now have some more hot chocolate, and finish telling us how you got out onto the roof."
"I don't understand, Professor. What do you mean how I got onto the roof? I opened the door and walked."
"How did you open the door? It should have been locked with a locking spell. I had all unused and miscellaneous entrances and exits sealed following what happened on Halloween."
"That's why I couldn't get back inside! I had no idea why my magic wouldn't open the door."
"But Princess, how did you get out onto the roof in the first place?"
"Remus, the door was unlocked. I just went outside like I always have. I closed the door behind me. I tried to come back in and go down to Potions, but the door wouldn't budge," Harry said looking from one to the other. "Please believe me. I would never do something to deliberately upset you."
"We do believe you, Child. What concerns us is why the locking charm was not on the door from the inside. I made it emphatically clear the doors were to be sealed both inside and out."
"Headmaster, perhaps it was just an oversight," Snape suggested carefully, in an effort to avoid alarming Harry.
The Headmaster understood his meaning, and looked at him shrewdly, "It is entirely possible, Severus, but I will have Professor Lupin and Professor Flitwick double check all the sealed entrances and exits tonight. Harry was very lucky today that we found her when we did," Dumbledore smiled.
"Miss Potter, what ever possessed you to use the symbol for the Dark Mark in that manner?"
"You're not all mad at me for doing it, are you?"
"No, Princess, it was actually quite inventive. I just hope you didn't frighten anyone."
"Well, I thought that the Muggle born students would have some understanding of the symbol and explain it to the others. I knew not all the Muggle borns would know what the Dark Mark was, but they would understand what the red circle with the slash through it meant. I wasn't sure about the staff, but I was almost certain the Headmaster would be familiar with the way I used the symbol," Harry winked at him.
"How did you come up with the idea to use it, Child?"
"Professor Snape," Harry grinned tossing her head, as Snape finished massaging her feet and placed the blanket around them once more, settling himself into the chair.
"I just asked myself what my father or Sirius or you would do in a similar situation…."
"Not me, Princess?"
"No Remus, you're not stubborn enough to get into that kind of trouble and get locked out on the roof. From what I've heard my dad was, and I know Sirius is, and so is Professor Snape," Harry laughed, red faced, as Professor Lupin sent another burst of warming energy through her.
"So tell me just how I prompted you to come up with the idea," Snape inquired arching his left brow, and trying to keep his face neutral.
"Well, I kept thinking how Voldemort would laugh if I froze to death out on the roof under Dumbledore's nose, and then I came up with the idea. I thought of you, and the Dark Mark came into my head. I didn't want to use it; I was afraid I'd start a panic, so I modified it and directed it so it could be seen from the Headmaster's office. I knew there weren't too many class rooms beneath him, so I thought it would be relatively safe."
"It accomplished what you wanted, in any event Child. We all came to investigate. How did you know we were even aware you were missing?'
"Headmaster…if you think for one minute that I believe Professor Snape would not have let you know that I didn't come back down to Potions…well…"Harry shrugged as he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
"I'm glad to see you're feeling better, and I'm more than relieved that you're safe and uninjured. You might have tried something stupid like working your way around the building on the wall," Dumbledore shook his head.
"I did consider it for a little while," she confessed, "but ruled it out as being too dangerous."
"Thank Merlin for that!" Remus exclaimed, helping her to sit and wrapping the blanket around her, having completed warming her sufficiently.
"Now Child, I believe you owe Professor Snape an apology."
"I know…Professor Snape I apologize for disrupting your class this afternoon," Harry admitted uncomfortable under the scrutiny of his gaze, "believe me, it won't happen again."
"How can you be so certain of that, Miss Potter?'
"Because I swore that if using the Dark Mark symbol to get off the roof worked I'd never give you a hard time in class again," she explained lowering her eyes in embarrassment.
"Well, that remains to be seen, Miss Potter. You still have to make up this afternoon's class. Headmaster, I think Miss Potter should have a quiet dinner in her room following a hot bath, and then put on some warm clothes and come to the dungeon to do today's lesson. I don't believe she should receive detention for missing the class. It was purely accidental. I do think she should give you a written apology as to why she will never leave your office again and do something else, rather than what you instructed her to do."
"Very well, Severus. How about her detention for being disruptive this afternoon, do you have something in mind?"
"Yes. I believe she should accompany me tomorrow. I could use her help."
"Interesting detention, Severus," Remus grinned, "you may be biting off more than you can chew."
"I think she will behave, Remus," Dumbledore laughed. "It will be good for her too."
"Very well then, I will see you promptly at seven P.M. for your lesson. In the mean time I will escort you to your room with Professor Lupin."
"Excuse me, Professors, but did I miss something here? What is the detention I have to do tomorrow?"
"I will tell you that tonight, after you complete your potions lesson," Snape said rising from his seat as Remus helped Harry to stand, and Professor Dumbledore winked in amusement.
Remus and Snape walked Harry downstairs to her room, and once she was safely inside, she did as she was told, and ran a hot tub. She enjoyed a long soak. Finally feeling warm again, she got dressed, and the house elves brought her up a dinner tray. After her meal of roast turkey, sweet potatoes, and salad, she had a glass of apple cider, and prepared to go on down to her Potions Class. Professor Lupin had informed Ron and Hermione what had happened, so they did not expect to see her until breakfast.
As Harry made her way to the dungeon, she was wondering what kind of detention Snape was going to give her for being disruptive and talking back to him in class. He had yet to say anything about how many points she would lose from Gryffindor, but she was sure there would be some. He was probably deciding how many to deduct, based on her performance and conduct earlier in the day. He was aware that she had felt offended by both Malfoy, and the Professor's supposed lack of action, so she assumed he was going to decide her points deduction with that in mind. Rounding the corner towards the Potions classroom, she ran headlong into Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, who were coming from the Slytherin Common Room.
"Well if it isn't Miss Potter, the Potion's Master's off hours friend," Malfoy sneered, as Crabbe and Goyle moving to stand on either side of her so she couldn't move.
"Knock it off, Malfoy. I don't like your implication, nor would Professor Snape."
"Snape's a coward, my dad says so, scared to death of the Dark Lord."
"I doubt it. More likely, your dad is the coward. I wonder what Lord Voldemort would do to him if he ever found out about your original Halloween costumes?" Harry responded smoothly, as Crabbe tried to shove her, but she resisted by stepping on his foot.
"Are you inferring my father has anything to do with the Dark Lord? He was cleared of those charges years ago," Malfoy said taken back by Harry's apparent knowledge that his father was actually a Deatheater.
"Was he? Or is he still one of the faithful followers now that the Dark Lord is alive and well again? It seems to me Professor Snape is the braver of the two men, he had the good sense to see that the ways of the Dark Lord are a threat to both Wizard and Muggle alike. It takes a brave man to stand up for his convictions."
"My father is a brave man!" Malfoy spat angrily, as both Crabbe and Goyle went to grab hold of Harry, who offered no resistance what ever. She was frightened of what they might do, but she wouldn't give them the satisfaction of knowing it.
"No, Malfoy, your father is a bigot and a loser. He hates people just because he thinks he's better than they are. My guess is that his wizarding line may be long, but there are a lot of skeletons in his closet."
"And your father was a meddlesome fool. He didn't know how to mind his own business and it got him killed," Malfoy hissed. "The same thing will probably happen to you, if you don't stop snooping where you don't belong."
"My father," Harry began slowly, her voice low and threatening, "was a brave and caring man. He met his death unafraid and stood up for his convictions. I know….I was there thanks to Lord Voldemort. Why don't you ask your father? He helped to arrange it," she smiled malevolently, "of course, he'll deny it, but that's what cowards generally do, especially when they're licking the heels of their master."
Malfoy made to lash out at Harry, as Crabbe and Goyle pinned her up against the wall. She was unable to move or draw her wand, but didn't care; she was her father's daughter after all. Malfoy went to strike her with his wand, but was stopped by a cold voice, as someone grabbed his arm in mid air.
"Mr. Malfoy, I suggest you put your wand down immediately," Snape told him as Crabbe and Goyle moved away from where Harry was pinned to the wall.
"Professor!" Malfoy gasped, "Miss Potter was trying to curse me again."
"I find it rather difficult to believe that Miss Potter was in a position to do you any harm what so ever Draco, since Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle were preventing her from moving," Snape glared at the three boys icily. "Now, I suggest the three of you go directly up to the Headmaster's office. I shall be there directly, and make no mistake, he will be expecting you." The three boys did not have to be told twice, and moved off towards the stairs swiftly, but Harry called after them.
"Draco…One day you will have to make a choice. Think about what I said. You can still make the right one. Don't do something just because it's what is expected of you. Use your mind and your heart, and look at what's going on around you while there's still time."
Draco Malfoy just kept going, his head held high, and his back straight, but Harry knew he had heard her. She had done what she could, but it was up to her rival to act upon it. She had just warned him, and hoped he would heed her advice.
"Miss Potter, follow me," Snape turned on his heel, striding swiftly in the direction of the classroom. Harry followed silently, expecting him to be furious, as they entered the Potions work area. He turned and studied her, before speaking,"You are unharmed?"
"Then I want you to lay out all of your ingredients and start preparing them, but do not light the cauldron until I return from the Headmaster's Office. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Sir…Professor…thanks for not…yelling."
"Miss Potter, you were being held against your will, and what the young men said was not to my liking at all."
"You overheard us?"
"When you were late for class, I came looking for you. Yes, I heard the whole thing. Now get started on the assignment, and if I see fit to do so we will discuss it later." He informed her stoically, as he went over to the fireplace to summon the Headmaster. After a few brief words with Dumbledore, Professor Snape made certain Harry was working on her assignment and then excused himself to go upstairs.
Harry worked quietly for nearly an hour, and had all her ingredients chopped and measured out to their precise amounts when Professor Snape returned. He came over to where she was working, and checked on her measurements. Making sure she knew the exact order they were to be brewed, he had her light the cauldron to allow the water to come to a boil.
"Are you satisfied with the texture of the toadstool root?" he asked as she began to add the ingredients to the cauldron in the specified order.
"Not entirely, and I think the oleander could be powdered a little better, but I had some difficulty chopping it. I think my knife is getting dull."
"Let me see," he picked up her knife and worked on some of the toadstool roots she had already chopped, "the knife does need some sharpening, but if you cut this way," he indicated a diagonal motion, similar to julienne, "you should be able to get a cleaner cut. Chop them a little better before you add them, then I will show you the proper procedure for using the knife sharpener," he said quietly.
Harry knew Snape did not allow anyone but seventh year students to use his sharpener, and looked up in surprise, "Professor, you know I'm only a sixth year. You never let anyone use the sharpener until their seventh."
"You have been doing well in your advanced lessons. I believe you can be trusted with supervision."
Harry smiled, and chopped the toadstool root as he had showed her, and then added it to the cauldron along with the oleander. He then took her over to his knife sharpener, which was entirely different from what would be found in a common kitchen, as the knives used to make potions were magically tempered steel. He demonstrated, and then helped her to try it alone. He had two other knives to sharpen and allowed her to do them with his supervision. The sharpener was clumsy in her small hands, but she got the idea quickly, and Snape seemed pleased with her progress. Her potion was completed shortly thereafter, and she had done it correctly. Bottling the mixture, she set it aside with the ones that her class had completed earlier, to be sent up to Madame Pomfrey.
"That's it Professor, can I clean up now?"
"You may. I'll expect you to make sure your work area is cleaned up for the recess. Then I will give you your detention."
"Yes, Sir," Harry replied, as she cleaned her worktable and dumped her cauldron, careful not to splash the boiling water. Scouring the cauldron until her hands were red, she dried it and then made sure she had left nothing out or unsealed. "I'm finished Professor," she told him moving away from her workstation so that he could inspect it. She waited patiently while he inspected the area, checking to make sure she had left nothing undone.
"Very well, Miss Potter, you have done well. Now sit down and we'll have a little talk."
"Yes Professor," she answered nervously, taking a seat in front of him.
"First of all, I don't ever want you to argue with my decision about how I conduct discipline in my classroom ever again. If you have a complaint, you can take it up with me following the class. Is that understood?" Seeing her nod in agreement, he continued on, "Next, you will have seventy-five points deducted from Gryffindor for your cheek this afternoon. I had planned to take one hundred but following the events of this afternoon, I have amended my decision. I also want you to write the apology for Professor Dumbledore tonight, before you go to bed, and see that he gets it in the morning. Is that clear?"
"Yes Professor Snape. Is there a specific amount of words you want me to adhere to?"
"Two hundred and fifty will be sufficient. Finally, you will do detention with me tomorrow. Be ready by eight o'clock and dress warmly. We will be going into London. I have to gather some supplies that I need for my private stock, which are difficult to obtain. I also have to finish my holiday shopping. You may also shop if you have not yet completed your holiday list, but you will not be allowed to do so without me, and until after I have finished. Do you have any questions?"
"What if you happen to be in a place where I wish to purchase something, or we are nearby a specific shop that I wish to go to. Do you want to have to go back later?"
"No, but I will expect you to inform me immediately should that be the case. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Sir. Will there be anything else?" Harry asked, amazed at her good luck. She was going shopping with Professor Snape in London for Christmas. If only she had news of Sirius, then she could get him the present she had decided on after Pettigrew had been captured. She made up her mind to visit the shopkeeper who could help her with her dilemma, knowing that he knew her.
"No. you are free to go. I would suggest you get that paper done, and get a good night's rest. The shops will be crowded, and we need to be very careful. We will not be going into Muggle London, so you need not worry about that, and don't forget your key for your vault in Gringotts.
"I won't," she grinned, good night Professor. Oh, Professor, what happened to Malfoy?"
"He will receive detention as will Crabbe and Goyle following the Christmas recess as they are all leaving for home on the train tomorrow."
Harry nodded in understanding, and left his office in a better mood than she had been in all day. Heading to her room, she sat down at her small desk and wrote her apology to Professor Dumbledore. Satisfied with her work, she put the paper aside to give to the Headmaster in the morning, and putting on her nightgown, climbed into bed. She was exhausted and fell asleep almost immediately, and dreamed that she and Sirius were together on Christmas morning, opening presents, and rejoicing in his freedom.