"Maybe he's just late."

"Snape, late? Hah, as if he'd miss an oppurtunity to torment us Gryffindors."

"Maybe he left since no one likes him anyway."

"Speak for yourself, low-class idiot."

"Get lost. Slytherins aren't invited to this conversation."

"That's right. He could have been sacked."

"Or maybe he died."

Harry looked away to hide his expression as Ron and Seamus laughed at that last comment. His hands balled into fists and he bit down on his lip so hard that it bled.

"That isn't funny," he heard Hermione scold.

Ron snorted, and Harry could just imagine him rolling his eyes and perhaps exchanging exasperated looks with Seamus. "Yeah it is. Ow! Geez Hermione, lighten up."

"Idiot," Hermione huffed, and Harry found that he had to agree. Why wouldn't everyone just shut up already?

"I-It really isn't," said Neville, his voice just above a murmur. "I-If he's really d-dead."

Harry turned around to look at Neville with surprise. Didn't he hate Snape the most? Everyone was surprised, it seemed; some of them were even staring with open mouths. Even Neville looked as though he couldn't believe what he had just said. Only Hermione had no reaction other than an unladylike snort at the reactions of everyone else.

"What the hell, Neville?" snapped Ron, looking almost offended. Neville blushed and looked down at his feet. Hermione glared at the redhead, but before she could say anything, Harry beat her to it.

"They're right, you know. Will you still laugh if you really stumble across his mutilated half-eaten body near the Forbidden Forest or something? If there's something you don't enjoy, it's stupid to laugh at the idea that it might happen."

Silence at last. It seemed that no one had anything to say to that... for now. Harry was pretty sure he shouldn't count on it lasting for long, so he took the oppurtunity to turn and stride away before some idiot decided to shatter the beautiful silence.

"Harry, wait!" called Hermione, and he overheard hurried footsteps behind him. "You can't just leave, Professor Snape might still show up!"

"I don't care," said Harry, somewhat snappishly. "Besides, you can't tell me that you want to stay there and listen to that."

Hermione pursed her lips. "Well, no, but..."

"But nothing," he interrupted, turning to look at her with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. "C'mon Hermione, you're already top of the class." His voice took on a persuasive, beguiling edge. "Besides, you'll learn more from going to the library than lingering around the dungeons with a bunch of 'dunderheads', right?"

Hermione was unable to keep herself from giggling at that. "Well, I suppose, but..."

Harry beamed. "Excellent!" And then he grabbed her arm and dragged her along after him out of the dungeons and in the direction of the library, seemingly deaf to her half-hearted protests.

"Hem, hem. What is this?" A highly unwelcome, unnaturally pitched voice. Its source a pink-cardigan-clad woman with toad-like features, the much-despised Professor Dolores Umbridge. Hermione paled.

"Professor, we were just..."

"Skipping class, is it?" the Professor simpered, an unpleasant smile growing on her face. "An additional three detentions for each of you should suffice, I think. And another three for skipping your detention yesterday, Mr Potter. Now, off to class with you."

A suspicion started to form in Harry's mind, and it only deepened when he glanced at Hermione and saw that she was frowning mutinously and clutching at her hand. "What exactly will out detentions be, Professor Umbridge?" he asked slowly.

Umbridge's smile grew wider. "Lines should make the lesson sink in, I think."

"You can't," blurted Hermione, bristling like an angry cat. "I'll tell Dumbledore and..."

Umbridge laughed breezily. "As I said yesterday, Miss Granger, it would be a simple matter for our gracious Minister to remove an incompetent Headmaster from his post. Do stop being such a silly little girl, won't you?" She turned to leave. "Good day Miss Granger, Mr Potter."

"She has to be bluffing, she just has to be," muttered Hermione as the pink toad walked away. "They can't do that, can they? But I couldn't find it in the library..."

Harry seized Hermione's writing hand, turned it over, and examined it closely. There... A faint outline he might not have noticed otherwise; 'I must not disrupt class'. He barely noticed that she had fallen silent and was now trying fruitlessly to tug her hand away of his. His lips were thin and his narrowed eyes were blazing with fury. "That bitch," he growled, gaze never leaving those lightly-carved words. It was quite bad enough that Umbridge had dared do this to him... But to do it to Hermione as well, the only friend who truly remained to him at Hogwarts, who had not by now turned against him for one reason or another...

Keeping his cover was no longer the most important aspect of the situation. Umbridge's punishment had just been moved up the schedule to very very soon. He finally let go of Hermione's hand and started to walk away, but was stopped by Hermione's hand on his arm. "Harry," she said earnestly. "Don't do anything rash."

Harry made a noncommital sound and made to continue on to the library, but was once again interrupted by Hermione. "You too... She made you write lines with that horrid quill as well?" She was indignant, her anger towards Umbridge returning.

"You only just realised?" Harry snorted derisively. "And here I was thinking you were smart." This time when he walked away, Hermione did not stop him. He glanced back once, surreptitiously, and saw that she was staring after him and appeared to be doing her best to hide a slightly wounded expression. He wondered if he might have been a little over-harsh, but shrugged it off and continued on to the library.

By lunch Snape's disappearance was common knowledge, and the rumor mill was working overtime. Theories on his current whereabouts ranged from in St. Mungo's because of a Potions accident to awaiting trial for some heinous crime. About halfway through lunch, Dumbledore entered the Hall and made an announcement that served to enflame the rumors all the more. He announced that both Professor Snape and fourth-year Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood were missing.

"Maybe he kidnapped her," a seventh-year stage-whispered. It did not take long for that to become the most popular theory. As for possible reasons for such a thing, they became steadily more unlikely. Halfway through Transfiguration, Harry found himself on the floor in a fit of laughter after overhearing the theory that Snape had abducted Luna to be his sex slave. This whole thing was perfectly ridiculous.

He quickly sobered, however. Dammit, why did Lily have to make such a stupid move and die? Damn that stupid Exorcist with his damnable healing ability.

"What exactly do you find so amusing, Mr Potter," said Professor McGonagall, looming behind him. Harry tilted his head and smirked at her.

"It's perfectly ridiculous," he said.

McGonagall's eyebrows rose. "What exactly is 'ridiculous', Mr Potter?"

Everything, he thought. This whole charade, the way the akuma and Noah and brokers hide so easily in plain sight. The self-righteous Exorcists fighting in the name of a false god. The way so many people are perfectly happy to make up their own version of events with no regard for facts. These stupid humans... should all just die. He frowned. Did I really just think that? It's true that some of them do, but... Well, alright, most of them do...

Out loud he simply said, "Do people seriously not only believe that Snape kidnapped Luna, but also that it was to make her his sex slave?"

The face McGonagall pulled at that was priceless. Just as soon as she recovered from her shock, she rounded on the class and demanded that they stop the rumor-mungoring already, in a great deal more words than that. That alone caused Transfiguration to be the most fun Harry had had all day.

And then he was finished with classes for the day. Soon it would be time for detention with Umbridge, but first he had something else, albeit a related something else, to attend to. It was a rather simple matter to sneak off the school grounds and down to Hogsmeade without anyone noticing. There he broke into a random house and used the Floo Network to travel to the same general locale as the Noahs' current dwelling place.

He was looking for Road, but he found Tyki first. "I didn't expect to see you back here so soon," said the older Noah as smoke drifted from the tip of the cigarette dangling idly from his mouth. Harry grinned and latched onto his elder brother's arm. Were he a little bit shorter he probably would have been dangling. As it was, he only succeeded in almost dangling. Tyki raised his eyebrows. "I see Road's rubbing off on you."

"Ginny Weasley said something like that too," said Harry cheerfully. "Mm, how did she... Oh that's right. 'Way to channel your psycho girlfriend,' she said." Tyki snorted and Harry shrugged. "Well, I presume she meant Road, since she's the only girlfriend I have..."

"Are you here for a specific reason?" Tyki interrupted, leaning against the wall instead of attempting to walk with one smallish Noah brat attached to his arm. Harry looked up and tilted his head.

"Maybe," he sang. "Are you going to tell me who Marquis de Sade is already?"

Tyki's lips twitched. "Nah, I don't think I will."

"Now you're just trying to annoy me, aren't you?"

Tyki's lips twitched some more, not really succeeding in holding back an amused smile. Harry sighed and let go of his arm. "That's fine, I'll just ask someone else. Hermione maybe, she's bound to know. Is Road around?"

"No, she's out doing a job for the boss."

"Aww, I wanted to borrow her dream dimension." He shrugged. "Oh well, I guess I'll make do without."

"Do I even want to know?"

"I'm going to kill one of my teachers, slowly. She deserves it."

Tyki gave him a sceptical look. "I hear that lots of kids think that about their teachers."

"Heh, I suppose so. Dudley and his gang always thought so, anyway. But it's true about Umbridge, and not just because she's annoying. That woman's pure evil." He said the last part with such disgust that Tyki gave him a rather odd look.

"The same has been said about us, you know," the older pointed out. Harry tilted his head and pursed his lips thoughtfully.

"Well, whatever," he shrugged it off. "They can say what they want, since it's not true anyway. At least, not completely." He checked his watch. "Hm, I'd better grab what I need and hurry back to Hogwarts. It just wouldn't do to be late to mine and Professor Umbridge's appointment, after all."

Bonus Feature: All the Petty Little Humans

A Lullaby for an Awakening Noah, to be sung to the tune of All the Pretty Little Horses (What am I thinking, I don't even know...)

Hush-a-bye, don't you cry
Awaken now precious child
When you wake, you shall see
All the world as it truly is

Burn it down, flood it again
And all the petty little humans

Hush-a-bye, don't you cry
Awaken now precious child
When you wake, you shall have
A family to help you through

Burn it down, flood it again
And all the petty little humans
Burn it down, flood it again
And all the petty little humans