Woop! I'm back again! Ehehe sorry for the wait!
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Integration 12: Fights and Frights
The Gryffindor common room was crowded and noisy, full of screaming girls and laughing boys, magic of every sort flying in every direction, emotions running wild and generally a barely contained chaos.
Harry hated it. He couldn't focus through the constant assault on his senses. For although his cat ears were gone, he still seemed to have better hearing then half the people in the room, or maybe they were just conditioned to it. He wished that he could just leap out the window and fly away, but even though he felt a strange pull calling him to fix things, he still had to do homework.
The scar that he'd never really noticed before on his head was prickling uncomfortably as he stared at words he barely understood, trying to concentrate.
Hermione had already finished, and he would have worked in his dormitory, but the golden trio were plotting something up there, and he had no desire to be in the same room as them longer then necessary.
Someone knocked into the chair he was in, jolting him so that he nearly fell out. A barely contained growl escaped him, and the girl eyed him fearfully and edged away.
At first he had been curious and even a bit excited about learning magic and meeting new people. Now he had swiftly realised that although he couldn't say that he hated people, he hated crowds of them.
He wished he could be back with the kittens, or just sitting quietly with Severus. He had never been exposed to this many people, and it was becoming a bit too much.
The most oppressing thing was the strange sense that everyone in the room, even the castle, was masking some grave fear.
He wasn't even sure that they knew what they were afraid of; it was as if their magic was reaching out to try and find some way to protect itself. Harry wasn't sure that he could name the feeling, but it seemed as though all magic had a level of intuitivism that only some people could connect with, but subconsciously they all felt the same unease.
Harry thought it must have to do with the ominous warning of the thestrals, or the centaurs telling him to bring all of the seven powers together.
But he only had two, and couldn't begin to see how he would find the others.
Another person knocked into his chair, dragging him out of his thoughts. Everything he could sense, some of it just on the edge of his mind, was screaming at him or whispering to him. Its dangerous, it's coming, they're not safe here and they know it, run, find them, help them, save them.
As if the homework wasn't bad enough, he had to fight his instinct to do something about, well, everything.
Eventually the common room cleared, and Harry decided that since Neville had gone to the dormitory, it would be safe for him to do the same, the castle was as safe as anywhere else, and he didn't even know where to start looking for the other powers.
He sighed, for now, he should really learn how to control his magic anyway.
Harry and Hermione entered the defence against the dark arts classroom with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension.
Once the class had taken their seats, a squat, frumpy witch dressed in the most hideous shade of pink Harry thought was possible, took a stand at the front of the class.
She observed them calculatingly with a sickly sweet smile before beginning the lesson.
"There will be no need to talk…" She began, and went on in much the same way, explaining how they would study theory, and they would not need their wands.
Quite understandably, Harry thought, the class seemed outraged, even Ron voiced his opinions about the need to be prepared, it seemed that their last defence teacher had left a big impression on all of them. Hermione seemed as surprised as he did however, about Ron sounding rational.
"We've been taught that we should be prepared-" He begun, but Umbridge seemed to realise that anarchy was springing up around her, and swiftly interrupted.
"What on earth would children like you need to be prepared for?" The sickly sweet voice questioned with deadly warning.
"Who would want to attack children like you?" She gazed around expectantly. Nobody in the class seemed able to answer her with a specific threat. Hermione looked away, her eyes bright with frustration.
Harry felt that this confirmed that deep down the school felt a threat as much as he did, but simply couldn't think what it was that gave them the feeling.
"The snake!" Harry blurted out, and the class turned to stare at him. There was a strange look in Ron's eyes he noticed, was it amusement?
"I beg your pardon Mr. Smith?" Umbridge questioned in shock.
"Snakes might attack us…" Harry trailed off, realising how ridiculous that sounded, 'the snake' that the thestrals talked of and 'snakes', weren't the same thing, but he had had to say something to comfort the unnamed fear in his classmates' eyes.
Harry flushed at Umbridge's infuriated look, but the class around him was snickering into their books or hands, Hermione looked downright horrified that he had, in her eyes, offended a teacher, but Ron was looking at him appraisingly along with amusement.
It took Harry a while to realise the most of the class was laughing with him, not at him. It was nice.
Umbridge however, was not impressed.
"Count yourself lucky Mr. Smith that your busy academic schedule keeps me from placing you in detention immediately, but as soon as I can arrange it, you will be punished for your lack of respect to your betters!" Umbridge practically shrieked at him.
The toad like woman took a deep breath and shook herself slightly as she saw the class looking slightly afraid of her manic outburst.
"Wands away students, read chapters one and two by the end of the lesson."
For the rest of the day the class seemed to gravitate around Harry as if in a new sense of camaraderie.
Hermione evidently didn't relish the extra attention, or the amount of people getting in her way as she tried to move from class to class. Harry wasn't too keen on it either, but they didn't seem to want to talk too much to him at least, just get a measure of him.
At least the golden trio were keeping their distance, although Ron's gaze did seem rather more curious then hostile, for which Harry was glad.
Herbology turned out to be good, and although Harry had no real interest in the teacher's instructions, he enjoyed being with the plants. Hermione seemed frustrated by the ease at which he dealt with re-potting some dragon snaps, not getting bitten once. Few other people managed this he noted, only Neville seemed to have a real aptitude for the subject, after all, Harry was cheating. He did have plant affinity on his hands, and doubted he'd be unscathed without having told the dragon snaps they were moving to a better place.
Lunch had a more pleasant atmosphere then before, but if possible it was louder, which gave Harry a headache. This didn't make him too miserable though, because after lunch they had potions, and Harry would get to see Severus for the first time since the start of term.
The mood turned blatantly mutinous and morose as they headed down to the dungeons, and Harry recalled Ron's displeasure of Severus from the feast, wondering if the whole class felt the same.
"Is potions really that bad?" He asked Hermione, who seemed fairer then most students in the school.
"Well it's a very fascinating subject, and Professor Snape really knows a lot, its just that…well," She glanced across at him with a slight blush, as if embarrassed to be bad mouthing a teacher, "he doesn't really seem to like teaching, or at least teaching us, he's alright with the Slytherins."
Harry blinked. Snape didn't seem like that sort of person to him, but then, how long had he really known him?
Unfortunately, it wasn't long into the potions lesson before Harry begun to understand exactly what his fellow Gryffindors meant.
Severus seemed to prowl between students, praising the Slytherins whilst berating the Gryffindors. He even managed to sneer at Hermione's potion when he couldn't find a fault. What was worse, was that Severus seemed entirely indifferent to Harry.
"Did you not read the instructions Mr. Smith?" Severus asked coldly as he gazed down at Harry's potion.
"I read them." He replied, bemused at the cold tone used, as well as Severus' evident displeasure of Harry's work. He wasn't putting on an act either, Severus' magic rang with something almost akin to disgust as he looked at the bubbling potion.
"Then, pray tell, why is you potion black when the instructions clearly state that the addition of the wormwood infusion should have coloured it purple by now?"
Harry glanced at the board, through the smoke he squinted to see the list of instructions written neatly in a small cursive script. He could just make out the instruction that he had missed in the list. When he glanced back at his potion, it was gone.
Harry looked up in irritation to see Severus lowering his wand.
"Because of your inaptitude to read you no long have the time required to finish this potion, and it is therefore a waste of ingredients to let you continue to make a mess. I suggest that you try to pay attention in my class Smith, otherwise I shall have you removed from it."
Harry stared open mouthed at Severus in incredulity. The suddenly cold black eyes seemed to be daring him to say something.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for wasting time and ingredients."
"Wha? But that's not-"
"Hold your tongue Smith before I make it twenty." Severus hissed before walking away to praise a troll-like boy named Goyle's barely purple potion.
Harry stared for a few seconds before angrily tidying his ingredients and sitting down to wait out the remaining twenty minutes of the lesson in unproductiveness.
Hermione cast him only a brief glance before turning away, a flush staining her cheeks at embarrassment for not helping in some way. Looking around the room, Ron cast him a sympathetic look, struggling through the last stages of his potion.
He couldn't understand it. Severus was never particularly enthusiastic or relaxed, but he was never outright cold and harsh, at least not to him. After all, Harry had known the edge of his magic since before he could remember, a somewhat comforting imprint in his mind through the dark place. Why was he now being so dispassionate.
Harry could feel his magic flaring angrily around him, seeing the green that no one else could making the cauldrons boil more ferociously.
One particularly repulsive Slytherin girl squealed in pain as some boiling water bubbled up, splattering her hand. In fact, the vast majority of the class seemed to be gaining similar slight injuries, especially the Slytherins.
Harry found he didn't care, let them get burnt, they'd probably do well to learn some pain, he'd had enough of it himself after all.
Severus was looking around in suspicious confusion, the class descending into slight chaos around him. His eyes finally lit upon Harry, who met his warning glare with stony defiance. 'Make me stop then' he thought savagely.
As if the potions master could hear him his gaze flickered away angrily, and his dark coloured magic shifted around him in an almost panicked way.
For some reason he couldn't explain, Harry felt as though the dark haired man had betrayed him in some way. Had he not been inside his head for all those long years in the darkness? A lone comforting presence that occasionally buffeted Harry's thoughts away from the green green lights and the endless screaming.
Was he now suddenly bored of Harry's presence? Annoyed by is inability to read and perform magic as well as his classmates? He wasn't sure if he was becoming more in tune with his more normal and mundane, human emotions after even spending this short time with others his own age, the ancient powers of air and earth that he had absorbed constantly seemed to be healing his mind from those dark and damaged years, but he was sure he hadn't felt this much emotion since he could remember.
The cauldrons reached whole new levels of spurting water and billowing steam, Severus was now performing the same charm on each of the class' potions that he had used on Harry's, shouting at the other students to back away. Harry noted the fear and anger in his voice with some sort of bitter satisfaction. His heart seemed to be clenched by some cold tight fist, and his eyes prickled absurdly with ridiculous thoughts of how Severus had never liked him, had been toying with him.
"Get to your next class" Severus hissed at the burnt and fearful students, and they swiftly scattered, Harry jumped up to follow them, eager to be out of the still steamy classroom.
"Mr. Smith, you will stay behind." Harry stopped just short of the door at Severus' order, glaring at the floor. Hermione shot him a confused and slightly anxious glance, mirrored by the majority of the other Gryffindors, the Slytherin's faces were mocking.
Once the class was well out of earshot, Severus cleared his throat pointedly, and Harry reluctantly turned on the spot.
"Would you care to explain to me what exactly caused you to have a little magical temper tantrum back there?" The anger was still very apparent in his voice.
"No." Harry turned to leave, but was stopped by a hand on his arm.
"Don't take that tone with me, what happened, did you sense something?"
Harry turned around in appalled astonishment, was he really so blind to his effect on students?
"If you don't know, I'm not telling." Harry had spoken he words before he was aware of it, and vaguely recalled having heard a Hufflepuff girl saying the same thing to someone at lunch. Maybe he was learning by repetition. Severus however, looked a mixture of stunned and furious.
"Excuse me?" He near whispered.
"Figure it out!" Harry snapped back, and attempted to tug his arm from Snape's vice-like grip.
"What has gotten into you child! I will not be talked to like this!" Severus pulled Harry a little closer as he once again fought to leave the room.
Harry suddenly felt trapped, he couldn't understand why Severus suddenly hated him, why he had turned into such a horrible person, but all at once the walls seemed to be closing in, the air turning black and Severus' grip was cold and clammy on his arm, his breath rasping as he sucked any happy memories of the two of them from Harry.
"Harry?" The near whisper barely translated across Harry's blurred and far away caged mind.
He glanced up into what had previously been comfortably dark eyes, but saw instead a hooded, shadowed face. And he was in the dark place, and the small cell was both claustrophobic and frighteningly alone, and those horrible hooded creatures had him in their grasps once more…
"Let me go!" Harry cried, there was a surge of air and Severus was suddenly flung across the room, lying sprawled in a heap.
Harry ran. Severus was already clambering to his feet looking disgruntled, and he didn't want to wait around to be shouted at for loosing control.
Harry spent the rest of the day hiding with the kittens in the many windowed room. He should have been in charms class, but he couldn't face it.
The kittens gambolled around, as if they didn't have a care in the world, Harry watched them from where he sat curled up in the corner, a small black cat.
Somehow when he was in his cat form, the hollow feeling he had been experiencing diminished slightly.
He had overreacted, but the sudden blur of memories and flashbacks he had felt left him feeling dazed.
Harry turned his eyes from the playing kittens to watch his own tail twitch seemingly of its own will. Since his mind had started healing the dulled emotional state and blurred memories that he had adapted in the dark place, they had begun sharpening and sensitising.
Harry found this both a gift and a curse. On the one side he could talk, think and generally live with more clarity, as though he was recovering from a long-standing illness. On the other, he couldn't predict how he or his magic would react to something, and he seemed to react to everything. This hypersensitivity was surely showing some problem, his other classmates seemed to be able to cope ok with the day-to-day goings on.
Harry twitched his tail, staring at a tile in the floor. He shouldn't be here. He would never be able to fit in at a school, he was too different, the other students already knew that, that was why they shunned him. Most of them, the few who didn't, Hermione for example, was fairly outcast herself and was therefore merely clinging to someone similar.
He should be searching or the other powers, he needed to be searching for them. The warnings from the centaurs, the thestrals, every sense he had was telling him to go looking for he remaining elements, to be doing something useful.
He was trying desperately to not think of his encounter with Severus, somehow he couldn't bare this place if the potions master no longer cared for him.
He'd just have to go and tell Albus that he wanted to leave, then this whole mess would be over, and he could get started on what he was meant to do.
The thin black cat stretched decisively and clambered to his feet, just as he turned to the door to leave, it opened.
Snape had spent the rest of the day in a mixture of worry and fury, his last class of the day shrunk before his rage and not even the couple of Slytherins in his sixth year class were safe.
All he could think about was the terrified, haunted eyes as Harry looked at him, before throwing him away with a gust of wind and running as if Voldermort and all the death eaters under his control were after him. It was as if he had thought Severus was going to hurt him, he had looked like a caged animal.
He could not understand what had gotten into the boy. Evidently it would be a shock for the child to witness him in his normal role as teacher, and even Severus had to admit he was hated among the students for good reason.
But the boy had messed up a perfectly, in Snape's mind, simple potion. And there really had been no time to rectify the mistake. He just couldn't stand it when students wasted perfectly good ingredients with their pathetic attempt at potion making. Very few managed to really grasp the beauty of the art of potion making, instead mocking it and blemishing it with their ineptitude and irresponsibility.
Severus sighed and pinched his nose as the last remainders of the class fled the dungeon. He would have to speak to Dumbledore about the child's outburst. It was a miracle that he hadn't destroyed half the cauldrons the way he was reacting.
Thinking back to the simple minded and strangely worded Harry that he had first met, he realised that the child was healing fast, but was becoming more sensitive therefore.
The sorry little creature probably had no idea or concept of everyday emotions, and with him being so in tune with his magic, every little thing was likely to spike him off. At least until he got used to it.
Severus sighed, once again pinching his nose. He would have to talk to the boy, maybe he could level him slightly, help him, there was probably an emotion stabilising potion he could brew.
But first he would have to talk to Dumbledore, if Harry's reaction was anything to go by, they had a young, emotionally unstable teen to calm down.
"I don't think he's coping well, he nearly blew up half the cauldrons this afternoon and then reused to tell me why, he threw me half way across the classroom trying to get away from me. I swear I've never seen anyone look that frightened…" Severus trailed off, remembering the pinprick pupils in those emerald eyes.
"It was as if he was somewhere else." Albus looked thoughtful.
"Did you perform legilimens on him at that time?" He asked, peering out of the window as the sunset stained the grounds the colour of fire.
"No, It was too sudden and I was worried of scaring him further, it wouldn't have taking much." Albus coughed grimly in agreement, before finally turning away from the window.
"It may be that Harry is only now remembering the horrors he faced inside that vile prison. Now that his mind is finally healing, it may be that his muted memories are coming back to him also. He must be extremely disorientated with this, even if he doesn't quite understand."
Severus nodded, it was only after he had changed sides that he had felt the true horrors of what he had done and witnessed, once again he was struck by that strange protective surge towards Harry.
"We should take extra care to monitor him and be available if he wishes to talk, no child should have had to go through what he did, and it's quite possible that being partially feline had numbed his mind further against this pain."
"Still, the way he was acting, I believe it would be best if you talked to him."
"And why would you be unable to do so yourself?" The old man's gaze pierced him, and he found himself unable to efficiently justify his lingering feeling of inadequacy.
"The way he looked at me then, I don't think he'll want to see me immediately." Albus' eyes were far too understanding, and he abruptly stood to leave, muttering about restocking the store cupboard.
Harry stared up into the bright blue eyes of the headmaster, and suddenly felt quite unsure about everything.
Dumbledore eyes him with a certain sorrow that he found hard to place, and he watched as the aged wizard moved to sit amongst the kittens, who found his beard highly entertaining.
"What seems to be troubling you, Harry?" He questioned benignly, and Harry felt himself almost shrink with uncertain emotions. He found he wanted to open up to the older man, but without really knowing why, or what about.
A saddened meow escaped him, and for a moment a flicker of amusement passed through Dumbledore's eyes.
"This conversation may pass easier Harry, if you reverted to your human form."
Slightly abashed, Harry complied, and soon sat a little way apart from Dumbledore, looking at the floor.
A little cough prompted him to speak.
"I, I want to leave, I want to look for the other elements." He glanced up to see Dumbledore's understanding face.
"I understand that this must be hard for you Harry, what with your calling to unite the ancient powers so strong, and having to deal with a whole new world of experiences."
Harry looked up hopefully, sure that Dumbledore was about to grant him leave from education.
"However, it is also my belief, that the longer you put off this learning experience, and coming to terms with you new found emotions, powers and memories, the harder it will become to adjust to them. Besides, where would you go to look for these powers?"
Harry looked away again, a mixture of embarrassment and disappointment swimming through him.
"But I, I don't belong here." His voice was so small that he was surprised Dumbledore could hear him at all.
The old man sighed, and placed a hand on Harry's shoulder.
"I urge you to continue trying. There is no doubt that you face a greater burden then most here, but this is also the best place for you to learn how to adapt to your powers, and also to learn how to be around others your own age-" Harry snorted slightly at this, and Dumbledore smiled once again, removing his hand.
"Give them time Harry, they will come round in the end. And give yourself time too." Harry looked up in confusion, the setting sun illuminated Dumbledore, and although Harry could see the large cloud of his magical aura, he could not discern its exact colour.
"You will find it easier to be around other people as your mind heals further, and you spend more time with them. And hopefully, you will also find it easier to cope with the memories that you have managed to suppress throughout these past years."
"How did you know about them? I barely understand half of it, its just all dark…and lights." Harry shivered slightly, Dumbledore shot him a calculating look. "I don't want o remember what happened there, or before there, or anything." He twisted the hem of his sleeve absently as he shifted under Albus' ex-ray eyes.
"Yes, memories can be painful, but they also help shape us into who we will become, they can make you stronger, and you can make new and pleasant memories whenever you want, as long as you are willing to."
Harry blinked thoughtfully, still struggling with an inner sensation of futility at staying in this school.
Dumbledore abruptly stood and headed for the door, before turning back to look at him.
"Before you give up on all of us here, if that is indeed what you decide, for I shall not stop you from leaving if you feel you must. But I would beg of you to speak to Professor Snape before you go, for you quite scared him this afternoon, and I would hope you would not leave before reconciling with him at least."
Harry blushed slightly, partially shocked that Severus had had a reaction to his outburst at all.
"After all, it would be a shame if you decided to leave partly because of the unfortunately often harsh words that pass between friends."
With a wink and a last smile, Dumbledore left the room. Harry was left with a slight feeling of shame, and also of being understood by Dumbledore on a level he hadn't considered possible. Indeed one of the reasons he did wish to leave was because of Severus' treatment of him earlier. But he would not let the older wizard down.
If he was being granted permission to act on his own beliefs, then he should at least honour the man's wishes. He would talk to Severus.
Harry couldn't help the sudden pang of hopefulness that the potions master did, in fact, care about him.
::Woo fifteen pages! I think that's a record for this story :D! I also think I finally know where I'm going with this! At least for the next while hehe. Sorry that there was no more Draco, but he should appear next chapter, hopefully!
Now I also have a small vote for you! What would you like to see next chapter?
Harry freaks out during a class (worse then this time in potions)
Harry has nightmares and either gets caught having one or seeks help for it
Some sort of accident occurs
Which would you guys like? And is there anyone you'd like to see next chapter? See more of in the story?
Thanks for all your wonderful reviews as well! I'm going to try and be better about replying to them too hehe! (sorry for the length of this note!)
Thanks for reading, shadowtheo.