-This story was deleted due to changes on FFNet. But I got so many feedbacks/reviews, I've decided to reload it.
Pairing: SS/HP others/HP SLASH
The last thing he remembered was the curse. The damned curse he was accustomed to.
He was running... or slithering rather, in the Forbidden Forest.
He was moving as fast as he could, but the unfamiliar movements of his stomach sliding against the slippery ground was unnerving him.
"Of all the attempts, it had to be tonight that I turn successfully into Animagus form!!"
The coal-black snake hissed as he was near the opening to Hogwarts ground.
The reptile was so caught up in reaching the school, he didn't notice the two predatory eyes locking in on him from above.
Before he knew it, he was lifted from the ground.
"What the fuck!?"
The snake twisted its head up to see a crow flying up to a tree while clawing its nails tightly around his back.
The dark snake tried biting the crow's leg hoping he was venomous. The crow manipulated its legs so that the prey dangled uncontrollably in the air. The bite was a near miss.
Just when he thought all was lost, a red bolt made its way through the darkness and hit the crow. The bird lost consciousness and fell, dragging the snake with it.
The snake fell flat on its back and was squished by the bird. He immediately tried crawling away, but those damned claws still dug into its skin.
::Are you alright?::
The weight was lifted off, hands gently prying the claws away. The snake looked up and cursed inwardly.
He was caught by the Death Eaters. Cursed thousands of times by the Dark Lord for his betrayal. Turned into his Animagus form at the brink of death. Caught by a crow to be consumed. Saved by the son of his arch nemesis that was James Potter.
Seriously, can things get any worse?
His savior gave him an odd look for a moment but turned his attention back to the crow.
The crow got up swaying a bit and flew off at the sight of a human.
"Oh, very observant of you, Potter."
The snake snorted.
"I guess you're not the social type."
The boy laughed and carefully picked the injured reptile.
"It's alrigh', Harry. The bleeding stopped already. It's just a scra'ch."
The giant examined the quiet snake.
Harry went straight to the half-giant and knocked on his door when he was about to leave. He was in a hurry but being the gentle caretaker he is, he invited the boy in and examined the wounded.
"He looks tired though... did you talk to him?"
The giant gently patted the dark snake on his lap.
"I don't think he likes to talk much... He hasn't even said a word to me yet."
Harry yawned and rubbed his eyes.
"You should go to sleep, Harry. I have to get going."
Hagrid stood up and led the boy to the door.
"Not even confronting him about why he was in the forest?"
The snake looked questioningly at the caretaker.
"What did it say, Harry?"
Hagrid heard the snake hiss.
"Uhh... I don't know..."
Harry looked at the snake and then at Hagrid, shrugging.
"He's not speaking in Parseltongue?"
Hagrid looked closely at the snake to make sure he was okay.
"I don't think so... It sounded like... someone blabbering..."
"Fool! You are a Parselmouth, are you not?!"
The snake hissed angrily at Harry.
"Wha' is he mad abou'? Wha's he saying, Harry?"
Hagrid got a little uncomfortable holding the snake.
"I don't know! He's not talking in Parseltongue!"
Harry backed away to the door as he thought the creature was ready to jump at him.
"For the first time in 5 years, I perfectly understand what you are saying, Potter! How is it you cannot understand me?!"
The snake hissed dangerously, not minding all the pain he received earlier.
"Talk to him, Harry! Try to calm him down!!"
Hagrid almost dropped the snake, for he was pretty sure he was venomous.
"Uhh...okay...uhh.." ::We're not your enemy. We're trying to help you.::
"I know who you are, you fool! And I also know you're the most incompetent student next to Longbottom!"
The snake slithered menacingly towards him.
"He's a bit nervous from the event, I bet Harry.. I think we should pu' him in a cage or something."
"You wouldn't dare!!"
Snake turned back to Hagrid.
The two wizards looked at the creature and then at each other.
"...Maybe he understands... human language?"
Harry tilted his head.
The snake went still at this.
"I don' know, Harry…. Maybe…"
Hagrid brushed his beard, but quickly realized he had a chore to do for Dumbledore.
"Merlin!! I'm late! You better ge' going, Harry!"
The giant wizard got his coat and quickly guided Harry out of his hut. "I won't tell anyone you were out again to the fores', Harry. But try not to do it as often, got that?"
"What about the snake?"
They both looked down and saw that the snake had followed them out.
"He'll be fine... A bit stressed out, but he will be alrigh' on his own."
Hagrid tried to pet the snake, but it hissed and slithered to Harry.
The creature looked up at Harry and hissed desperately.
"What?" Harry knelt down and asked again in Parseltongue, ::What is it?::
"Shut up and listen, fool! I am your professor, Severus Snape! And I demand you to take me to Headmaster Dumbledore!-!"
"I really don't know what he's trying to say! All I can hear is him yelling in jibberish!"
Harry plugged his ears with his hands and tried to stand up.
"Dumbledore, idiot. Dum-ble-dore."
Snape hissed, calmly this time.
Harry blinked at the snake and kneeled once more.
Snape tried again.
Harry widened his eyes and turned to Hagrid.
"I think he said... Dumbledore."
"Very good, Potter. There's hope for you yet."
"He needs to see the headmaster? Wha'for?," Hagrid looked at his beeping watch, "OH! I better leave now! I'll keep the snake in the cage and I'll take him to the headmaster tomorrow."
Hagrid tried to pick the snake up, but it crawled to Harry's feet.
"You will not keep me in any cage, you oaf."
"I think he doesn't like to be locked up in a cage, Hagrid," Harry laughed and extended his hand to the creature, "who would?"
Snape narrowed his eyes but seeing no other option, he slowly crawled on to the arm. As he made his way up to the boy's shoulder, he realized something wasn't right. Was it because the boy was much smaller and thinner than the average 15-year-olds?
"But then again, the boy was always smaller than usual... The one trait he didn't get from his father..."
"Harry, you alrigh'? You're eating well?"
Hagrid asked worriedly as he lifted the small chin.
Snape looked up at Harry's face, which looked smaller and paler than usual... But then, he tried to avoid the boy like a plague so he barely noticed the difference.
"I'm okay, Hagrid. You really should get going though."
Harry smiled, but Snape knew better.
Hagrid finally flew off with his broom while Harry shouted his thanks, but the gentle giant was already gone.
"... I wonder why he doesn't just apparate..."
"Because, you fool, there are anti-apparation wards on this ground."
Snape rolled his eyes.
::I don't think we should go visit Professor Dumbledore tonight... I don't know his password anyway...::
Harry informed the black snake. To this, Snape tried to sound out the password to the boy, but with no avail.
"What the hell is 'Fruit Loops' anyway?"
Snape cursed Dumbledore while he was placed on the desk.
::I know you don't want to be placed in a box or anything... But I don't think my friends will like it when a snake is freely roaming around the room...::
Harry mumbled, more to himself than to the snake.
"Yes, yes. Your desk is fine. Just let me sleep."
Snape yawned, which was only a little hiss.
Harry looked at the snake coiled around on top his desk ready to sleep. The boy grabbed some of his baggy clothing and made a circular nest. The snake sleepily crawled on top of it, making himself comfortable.
The boy snickered and pulled off his sweater.
Snape looked at the boy with heavy lidded eyes to give him a glare, a daily habit of his.
"Yes, Potter. I'll thank you as soon as I tell Albus you were in the Forbidden Fore--..."
He stopped abruptly when the boy unbuttoned his shirt and slid his arms out of its sleeves.
Snape stayed frozen in the spot while Harry changed into his pajamas and was patted on the head.
::Good night, ...whatever your name is. I'll take you to Professor Dumbledore at breakfast..::
Harry muttered and was fast asleep.
Snape had his head lifted from the pile of clothes, stunned at what he had just witnessed.
He forgot all about the Cruciatus curse, the Animagus transformation, and surviving from a hungry crow... And focused his attention on the sleeping figure in front of him...
"My fucking god... blasted Potter is a girl!!!"
He didn't know how, but Snape eventually fell asleep sometime before six in the morning. Though he stared dumbfounded at Harry for long hours, the stressful events finally took a toll on him.
"Hey, wake up Harry. You're going to miss breakfast, mate."
Ron called while changing.
"...Ron...today is Thursday..."
Harry mumbled and sank deeper in his warm bed.
"Yeah, so you better get ready. McGonagall is going to have our heads."
Ron slashed his finger across his neck with his tongue out.
"...Your head, Ron... I don't have any classes 'till ten."
Harry complained irritably as he pulled the covers over his head.
"Oh... Right... I forgot..."
Lucky git. Harry heard his friend whisper.
"You don't have any classes until eleven on Mondays, Ron... What's the difference?"
Ron blinked as he got his school robe.
"You remembered my schedule already?"
"...It's already beginning of November, Ron."
"Yeah, but I still get my schedule mixed up with last year's."
"Ron, your schedule is easy to remember. Monday you have Double Potions, Divination and DADA, Tuesday you have Double Charms, Double Transfiguration, Care for Magical Creatures and then Herbology... And..."
"What are you?! Hermione in disguise?-?"
Ron gaped and almost dropped his robe.
"We practically have the same schedule, Ron..."
"But still! You're like-"
"...Oh, stop your bickering, Mr. Weasley."
Snape hissed annoyingly. Having to hear one of the Weasleys first thing in the morning was definitely on the far end of his wish list.
"...uh... Harry? Did you say something?"
Ron stood still at his spot.
"Huh?... Oh yeah... the snake.."
Harry casually said and pointed at his desk.
Seconds later, Ron screamed.
"OI, HARRY! There's a fucking snake on your desk!-!-!"
Harry groaned. The snake hissed angrily and glared at the redhead.
"He was about to get gorged by a crow. I took him to Hagrid but he said there's nothing wrong..."
Harry dozed off.
"Why is it in our room, though?"
Ron took a step towards the snake.
"...That reminds me..."
Harry sighed deeply and slowly sat up.
"He said something about Dumbledore,..." Harry rubbed his eyes and turned to Ron, "I wouldn't get close to him if I were you."
"Huh? Why?" Ron froze, "you can talk to it, right?"
"I can, he can't," The snake hissed at this, "but I think he understands human language as well as his own..."
"What does he want with the headmaster?"
Ron looked at the snake. He was almost certain the snake was snarling down at him.
"I don't know... But I guess we'll find out..."
Harry yawned and reluctantly got out of the bed.
When the two arrived at the Great Hall, they discovered most of the chairs at the head table were vacant.
"'Morning, Hermione. Where are the professors?"
They greeted the girl eating her muffins.
"Good morning. I don't really know what's going on either. Hey, Harry. You're up early this Thursday morning."
Hermione looked up from her book.
"It's bad manners to read during a meal, Hermione."
Ron pointed out while putting some eggs on his plate.
"I want to be completely ready for the potions test."
Hermione glared at Ron and turned to her book again.
Harry and Ron yelled.
"Yes, a test. Professor Snape mumbled something about giving us a test today, remember?"
"Yes, listen to Ms. Granger. She seems to be the only competent Gryffindor so far."
Snape sneered poking his head out from Harry's sleeve.
Hermione dropped her muffin and pointed at the dark menacing snake.
"It's alright, Hermione," Harry looked around and whispered, "I found him last night. I think he's ill."
Hermione nodded her head as she turned to Ginny who was settling down next to her with a questioning look. She assured her there was nothing wrong and turned her attention back to Harry and glared.
"You went to the Forbidden Forest again, didn't you?"
Harry intended to put his hands up but kept his arms under the table. For his and the snake's sake.
"Are you having bad dreams again, mate?... You know... of.."
Harry finished for Ron who gave the expression of eating something sour. He didn't realize the snake wrapped around his arm gave out a similar reaction.
Ron drank his pumpkin juice as if to swallow down something he couldn't chew.
"Well, not really...," Harry unintentionally rubbed his scar, "...but some other things are bothering me..."
"Yes, Ron. Harry has been through a lot last school term as well as during summer. You didn't forget?"
Hermione eyed Ron accusingly.
"I'm fine, Hermione…. I've been owling Remus and Siri-.. Snuffles…. Their letters are pretty amusing."
Harry laughed softly as he remembered one of Sirius' letters. It mentioned one of the pranks the Marauders pulled during their last term at Hogwarts.
"Hey! You guys heard about Snape?"
'Speaking of troublemakers...' Harry thought as Fred and George sat between Ron and Harry.
"Please tell me there was a 'unfortunate' potion accident."
Ron crossed his fingers.
"Ron...," Hermione glared, "no, we haven't heard anything about Professor Snape. Did something happen? He didn't cancel the test, did he?"
Ron and Harry rolled their eyes. Fred grabbed a piece of toast while George took a bite of his muffin.
"He's been missing since last night. We heard McGonagall and Mad-Eye Moody talking on their way to Dumbledore's office."
Fred said excitedly.
"Mad-Eye Moody is here?"
Ron gasped. Some of the Gryffindors looked at their direction.
"Shut up, stupid," George slapped Ron's head, "no one's supposed to know."
"...It must be pretty serious if he's here."
Hermione drank her tea and turned to Harry. She wanted to see if her friend felt comfortable talking about Moody after what happened last term.
"...Harry? You okay?"
Harry kept his eyes under the table.
"...Yeah, but he keeps hissing..."
The twins narrowed their eyes as they peeked below.
"Uhh... I think that's because that's a snake... which is also wrapped around your arm, Harry mate."
George scooted away. Fred soon followed.
"Yes, remind me to take points from you two Gryffindor imbeciles for eavesdropping on a professor."
The snake gave a satisfying hiss and went quiet.
"Nevermind... He's quiet again."
Harry stroked the snake's head but the reptile pulled away.
"Maybe he's hungry."
"Try giving him this."
Ron handed a piece of sausage to Harry.
Harry slowly brought the sausage in front of the snake's mouth. The creature stuck his tongue out to sniff the food but turned away disgustedly.
"Snakes don't eat cooked meat, Ron," Hermione sighed, "they usually hunt for rats, rabbits,-"
"How about Crookshanks?"
Ginny and Harry yelled.
Hermione glared and closed her book. She quickly got up and left without another word.
"What? It was a joke!"
"That wasn't funny! You've been insulting Crookshanks all summer!! You know Hermione doesn't like that!"
Ginny scolded her brother and got ready to go after Hermione.
"But I joke about Crooks all the time! She knows I'm only kidding, right Harry?"
Ron looked at his friend for a backup.
"Um... I think you should go apologize. The sooner the better."
"You know it's my habit to make fun of her cat," Ron pouted, "...You've been so mellow lately, mate."
Ron hesitated. He knew Harry had been through a lot of hardships last school term. The deception of Crouch Jr., the Triwizard Tournament, and Cedric's death...
"It's alright.. Really... But you should be more careful around Hermione, Ron. You know she's very sensitive."
"All girls are."
Ginny added, glaring at Ron and left.
"Ahhh, girls. Very emotionally unstable creatures, they are."
Fred said matter-of-factly.
"Yes. They're like a time bomb ready to explode at any moment. Be careful, Ron."
George patted Ron's shoulder. Ron gave out a long groan.
"It's okay, Ron," Harry smiled, "I'll go apologize with you."
The trio entered the Potions class after Hermione and Ron made up. Harry had taken the snake to Hagrid's place and told him to stay there. The creature hissed, determined not to let go Harry, but Hagrid hexed him and was eventually placed in a cage.
::I'm sorry, but you have to wait until my class ends. Don't worry, I only have one class today, so I'll take you to Dumbledore as soon as I finish::
Harry hissed apologetically and thanked Hagrid.
"It's for your own good... Snape will skin you alive if he sees you." Harry thought, trying to erase the guilt he felt for putting him in the cage.
"I wonder if the professor returned..."
Hermione looked worried. Harry admired her for respecting Snape even though he didn't respect her back.
"I hope not."
Ron added. Harry quietly agreed.
The door opened and everyone straightened up. But instead of the dark-haired, big-nosed head of Slytherin, the deputy headmistress walked to the front of the classroom. There were some commotions among the students.
"I am afraid there are important business Professor Snape had to attend to," the commotion got louder, "I understand this is the fifth year class, and I am sure you are all mature enough to know his business to be completely private. At this moment, we are not sure how long he will be gone. But we will get a substitute to take over if necessary," the Slytherins groaned while the other house students looked hopeful, "we will inform you when we get the latest from Professor Snape. But as for today, class is dismissed."
McGonagall crossed her arms as the class cheered. It looked as though she knew there was a test planned for today.
Harry walked to the front as everyone rushed out.
"Ah, Mr. Potter. Just the person I needed to see."
McGonagall placed her hand on her student's shoulder. She looked up at Ron and Hermione waiting at the door.
"You two are dismissed as well."
The two Gryffindors hesitated, but they were not going to argue with their head of house. They looked at Harry, making sure they would get informed later. Harry nodded and they obediently left.
"The headmaster has requested your presence at his office... He has... some important questions to ask."
McGonagall said, and without anymore explanation, she led him to the gargoyle.
Harry had a hard time swallowing his laugh as McGonagall said the password. He followed her and step on the spiral stairs as it slowly ascended.
"I have brought Mr. Potter, headmaster."
McGonagall stopped in front of Dumbledore. Harry stood beside her.
Dumbledore greeted delightfully.
Harry smiled back.
"How are you doing, Potter?"
Harry almost jumped as he heard the creaking voice from behind. He turned back to see Mad-Eye Moody and wondered how he could have missed the old ex-Auror.
"I'm doing fine, Mr. Moody. How are you?"
"Fine, Potter. Don't call me Mr. Moody, by the way. It sounds as though I have a attitude problem…," Harry laughed at this, "just Moody is fine."
"I am sure you two have lots to talk about, but may I have a moment with Harry alone?"
Dumbledore looked at McGonagall and Moody. They both nodded and quietly left.
"I am sure you, as well as the other students, were happy to learn the class was cancelled today?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled.
"Yes, sir... well, except for Hermione... She was looking forward to the test."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Ah, Ms. Granger... Some of the professors informed me she has been tutoring Mr. Longbottom as well?" Harry nodded, "well, I am very proud to have such bright and talented student attending my school... But please tell her to take a break once in a while, would you Harry?"
Harry nodded, though knowing very well she wouldn't even know the meaning of the word 'break'.
"You wanted to ask me something, professor?"
"Yes... I'm afraid," Dumbledore conjured a teacup, " please, have a seat, Harry."
Harry sat across from the headmaster while he poured some tea. He took the cup and thanked him.
"I am very curious, Harry... But have you had any dreams lately?"
Harry knew something was happening then. He placed his cup on the small saucer and asked.
"Does this have something to do with... Professor Snape?"
"I'm afraid so...," he smiled sadly, "I suppose you already know he's been missing since last night?"
Harry paused for a moment, but nodded. Knowing Dumbledore, he probably knew the twins were already spreading the news.
"Do you think... this has something to do with Voldemort, sir?"
"Yes, Harry," Dumbledore nodded heavily, "our potions professor is not the type of person to simply disappear without notifying anyone."
Harry nodded as the realization of how serious this was sank in. He didn't like the greasy git as much as Ron, but he had to admit the feeling of concern for him. Just because he hated the professor doesn't mean he wanted him hurt... Well, badly.
"I haven't had those dreams for a while, professor... But I think if Voldemort... does anything...drastic... I could feel it through my scar."
Harry hoped this brought somewhat of an comfort to the old wizard. If Snape really had been caught by Voldemort, they had to fear for the worst.
"Thank you, Harry."
Dumbledore understood and smiled.
Harry sipped his tea, wanting to change the subject. And then he remembered.
"Professor, do you know any snakes that knows you by name?"
Dumbledore's furry brow lifted as he poured some more tea.
"Okay, that was a dumb question... Lots of animals probably know your name," Harry laughed, "you see, there's this snake and he can't speak Parseltongue... But when he did, he said your name... er.. at least I think he said your name..."
"Is that a fact?" Dumbledore stroked his long beard, "where is he now?"
"He's with Hagrid... And I think he'll be in a very foul mood... We kind of forced it in a cage since I had class..."
Harry sighed, thinking of how to apologize to the already ill-tempered snake.
"May I see him?" Dumbledore's interest peaked.
"By all means. He'll probably poison me if you don't show up with me."
"Hello, headmaster. Harry."
Hagrid greeted them with the usual pleasant mood.
Dumbledore and Harry stepped in as Hagrid got ready to boil some water for tea.
"We had some tea just now, Hagrid. Thank you."
Dumbledore motioned him to stop as he walked by the cage. As soon as he stopped, the snake popped his head up.
"Finally... Potter has actually done what I asked him to do."
Snape thought as he looked at the old wizard.
"Uhh, sorry but I have a class in abou' 5 minutes..."
Hagrid informed as he got his long coat.
"It's alright, Hagrid. We won't be long."
Dumbledore assured as he stepped closer to the cage.
"Headmaster, you should be careful. I'm not very familiar with them, but I think he's a Asp viper. I guarantee his venom is deadly," Hagrid warned, "I fed him a rat, so he should be in a fairly good mood-"
"He hunted a rat?!"
Harry asked, excited and a little disappointed he missed the killing.
"No, it was already dead. I have some rats ready for my other animals," Hagrid laughed, "oh, I better ge' going. See you Harry, headmaster."
The half giant went out to greet his first years.
"He seems to be a little edgy... Can you ask him what he wants, Harry?"
Dumbledore asked as he observed the dark snake.
"I can ask him, but I doubt he'll be able to respond..."
"You are unable to comprehend, Potter. Don't blame your inadequacies on me."
Dumbledore looked at Harry questioningly.
"You see?" Harry pointed at the reptile, "I could not understand what he said just now. I don't know what it is, but it's definitely not Parseltongue, sir."
"Then, could you tell what it sounds like, Harry?"
Dumbledore urged on. Harry didn't know why, but the headmaster seemed excited about something.
"Um... it sounds like... someone blabbering?" and then Harry added, "...I don't know why... but I get the feeling he understands human language as well, sir."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled and turned to Harry.
"Thank you, Harry. I think it's rather close to lunch, wouldn't you agree?"
Harry got the hint and excused himself from the hut. He didn't see any students outside so guessed Hagrid took them somewhere else for their lesson. He began to pick up his pace as his stomach began to growl.
Dumbledore looked through the snake's eyes and casted Legilimens. Since Snape was willing to be mind-read, it wasn't difficult for the old wizard pry into his memory.
Dumbledore gasped as he saw the Death Eaters approaching from behind while Snape was walking at Diagon Alley. Voldemort was laughing cruelly as he cursed his former servant with numerous Cruciatus curse. Then, Dumbledore witnessed Snape's first Animagus transformation.
Dumbledore blinked a few times and gave out a long sigh of relief.
"Words cannot describe how happy I am to see you, my boy."
Dumbledore gave Snape a heartwarming smile. For the first time, Snape actually smiled back... though no one could tell except him.
During lunch, Harry told Ron and Hermione about Snape. Ron was just too happy to hear the news, but Hermione chided.
"Ron! Professor could be hurt!"
"I didn't say I want him hurt, Hermione. I just want him not to come back."
"You are horrible, Ron!"
Ginny sided with Hermione.
As they argued over Snape's welfare, Harry wondered about the snake. What exactly did it want with the headmaster? Why couldn't Harry understand what it was saying?
"Hermione, is it possible that snakes have... different languages?"
Harry asked as Ron and Ginny resumed their argument.
"...? What do you mean?"
"I mean... like... you know how we have English, Chinese, Spanish, and such? Do you think snakes have different languages depending on region as well?"
Harry thought it was a stupid question, but he wanted to know Hermione's opinion.
"Hmm... Never thought of that... Then again, I never thought I'd ever see a Parselmouth," Hermione smiled at Harry, "... but I think they all communicate in a universal language... like mathematics… If you're a Parselmouth, you probably could communicate with any snakes, regardless of their species or nativity."
"That's what I thought... but.."
"Are you talking about the snake you had earlier? I remember you said it was ill?"
"Yeah, I can't understand any of his words," Harry shrugged, "but I know he understands what I said."
"Are you guys talking about tests or homework?"
"No, what makes you say that?"
"Well, for one thing, the only things you're interested in are tests and homework."
"That's not true! I'm interested in many things!"
Ginny and Harry rolled their eyes as the two started their usual quarrel.
After their lunch, Harry decided to part with his friends to do some homework. Hermione offered her help, but he preferred to do it alone. He wanted to do some of his own research anyway.
"Let's see... I can probably finish my Transfiguration report today, and... oh yeah, the damn Potions essay..."
Harry mumbled to himself as he selected the books.
He walked to the Charms section and scanned through. He pulled a thick book about appearances and sat at the table far from the entrance door but facing it. He set the parchment on the table to begin his least favorite subject.
"I wonder if the substitute professor will grade this..."
Harry thought before he began his Potions essay, already looking forward to having a substitute.
Harry didn't realize the time until his friends came to tell him it was dinnertime. He finished most of his homework and made Hermione proud.
"What's the matter, Harry?"
Ginny asked as she looked at his plate.
"Yeah, mate. You on a diet or something?"
Ron joked with his mouth full of mashed potatoes.
"Ha-ha. I just had some snack before dinner."
Harry drank his juice.
"You know, Harry," Hermione put her fork down, "I've noticed you lose your appetite at least four or five times a month… And you slim down so drastically."
Harry snorted. "I Am Not on a Diet, Hermione."
"Oh yeah?" Hermione grabbed Harry's arm and pulled the sleeve up, "than how did this happen?"
Ron and Ginny looked at the pale arm. It was very long and slender, hand soft and smooth as a girl's.
"Who's arm did you cut off and attach, Harry?!"
"You're skinnier than me!!"
Ginny exclaimed as she placed her arm next to Harry's.
"I know! And look at those fingers!!"
Hermione pointed at the delicate set of fingers. The two girls stared enviously.
"Aren't Quidditch player's hands supposed to be all hard and callused?"
"We wear gloves, Ginny."
Harry pulled his arm from Hermione's grip and fixed his sleeve.
"I wear gloves too, mate. And I'm starting this year."
Ron presented his hard and callused hands proudly. The girls looked away, disgustedly.
"Eww, Ron. We're eating."
Ginny forced her brother's hands down.
"You should put some lotion on, especially during winter. Your skin is peeling off."
"Lotion? Guys don't wear lotion, right mate?"
Ron elbowed Harry.
"Well,... after washing lots and lots of dishes, I kind of have to put some on to avoid painful cracks."
'Traitor...,' Ron mumbled, while the two girls looked victorious.
"Good evening, everyone."
Everyone in the Gryffindor common room was surprised to see their headmaster enter.
"Hello, headmaster. Did you need something, sir?"
"No, no... I just wanted to check on my fellow Gryffindors for the game tomorrow."
Dumbledore smiled as the Quidditch players nodded confidently.
"We'll make you proud, sir!"
Ron stood and saluted.
"I know you all will," Dumbledore looked around, "where is your Seeker, Mr. Weasley?"
Hermione eyed Dumbledore suspiciously while Ron responded. "He's already asleep, sir. He finished most of his homework today and he looked quite tired... It's scary..," Ron screwed hid face, "it's like having another Hermione."
Hermione glared. Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, when he wakes up in the morning, could you tell him to come to my office? He should know the password already."
Hermione watched as Ron nodded his head.
"Thank you," Dumbledore turned to the players, "good night and good luck tomorrow."
"Thank you, sir!"
They all stood straight, delighted and honored to have Dumbledore coming in their room and wishing them luck.
Hermione called out as Dumbledore stepped out of the room.
"Yes, Ms. Granger?"
"About Harry... Does this have anything to do with his... dreams?"
Dumbledore observed the bushy haired girl closely.
"Is he having them again, Ms. Granger?"
Hermione felt a wave of guilt. She thought Dumbledore knew something but apparently not.
"No, sir... Well, at least that's what he says..."
Hermione bit her lip as she was unsure if she should continue. Dumbledore placed his hand on her shoulder.
"My child, if there's something bothering you about Harry, please don't hesitate and tell me."
"Well, sir... He seems normal most of the time... You know, the usual Harry... But sometimes,... he is very...distant," she saw the confused expression on the old wizard's face, "I mean, very quiet and to himself..."
"Could you please explain, Ms. Granger?"
"He'll be talking to everyone one day, and avoids them in another... Sometimes we can't even find him for a whole day until dinner... He says he was at Hagrid's or writing a letter to his godfather..."
"But you believe otherwise?"
Hermione nodded. She faced down, feeling as though she had ratted out her friend.
"Thank you, Ms. Granger. You did the right thing. If there's anything else you're concerned with, my doors are always open. The password is 'Fruit Loops' for now."
Dumbledore winked. Hermione giggled and nodded gratefully.
On his way back, the dark snake hissed as he peered from Dumbledore's sleeve.
"I know what you're thinking, Severus... And no, I usually don't give my password away to students. But certain circumstances calls for a little rule breaking, wouldn't you agree?"
Dumbledore smiled down at Snape as he looked away. They both knew professors have curfew on weekdays, and Snape was out way passed the hour on the night he was caught.
::The more reason your Golden-boy should be expelled, Albus.::
It was funny how the headmaster knew what he was saying. "Now, now Severus. You showed me Harry's condition through your mind... And we cannot get him in trouble unless we know exactly what is going on."
::Potter is hiding too many secrets... One should be concerned what his... or her intentions are::
"We'll know in the morning, Severus. You should concentrate more on returning to your human form."
Snape hissed disgustedly as he remembered the Animagus training with McGonagall the next day. He's been desperately trying to turn back, but he didn't know how since he had no idea how he turned to his Animagus form to begin with. McGonagall was going to get a kick out of this.
"Do not worry yourself, my boy. I'll make sure she'll go easy on you."
Dumbledore encouraged, but Snape detected a little amusement in the old wizard's voice.
::One would wonder, if you're better at Parseltongue than Potter.::
Snape looked up and jeered. But Dumbledore just gave him a questioning look.
Harry woke up at five in the morning, feeling very refreshed. He gave out a long stretch as he got out of his comforter. He rubbed his eyes and realized his hand was bigger and harder. He looked at his hands as they were callused... though not as bad as Ron's.
"This is how I should be... This is Harry Potter."
He smiled and stood to head for a shower.