Hi guys. I'm sorry for the wait, but here is the next chapter. I'm struggling, but gradually getting my mojo back now. Apologies for it being a bit short, but here's just a taster of what's to come :) Enjoy.
Harry wakes in the morning with a sense of dread weighing down his limbs. Hermione, after much searching last night, could not find his bag, and he is torn between an unrelenting desire to find Professor McGonagall again, and the realisation that, to stop Lupin from finding out about him losing the mirror, he should really calm down and not make McGonagall so suspicious. After all, since when would Harry Potter be worried about a bag of missing textbooks?
As it happens, neither idea wins at this present time; bed is the only place Harry really wants to be. Tangling himself further in his sheets, he curls into foetal position and breathes a loud, hot sigh into his pillow. As far as he can see, the advantages of staying in bed considerably outweigh the disadvantages.
I've lost Sirius' mirror, he thinks, and that is devastating enough.
I lost control in front of Snape of all people. Pathetic, that's what you are, Potter, his mind says, taking on the voice of the Potions Master.
I've lost my bag with my books and my homework in it and I have double potions in...
He opens one eye and squints until he can just about see the time on his clock.
...half an hour.
Harry groans. Yes, bed seems the better option, so he closes his eyes hoping that, just for one day, the world might forget he exists. It is only as he is lying there, half asleep, that he realises how quiet his dorm room is. Realising everyone must already be at breakfast, he frowns at the impeccable timing of his stomach as it grumbles. Rubbing his belly, Harry tells himself to sleep off the hunger, after all, he has no plans of moving anywhere so he doesn't need the energy. Squeezing his eyes shut, he tries to forget everything and make the most of the quiet.
He's sat on a chair in the middle of a black room. There are no doors or windows, not even a light, yet he can still see for a short distance in front of him. His arms and legs are bound, tied tightly to the chair. He sees no one, but he knows he's not alone in the room. His eyes dart around and his heart begins to pound as he realises he is trapped. The room is small, and its colour seems to draw all hope from Harry's mind. And he's afraid, soafraid, but he doesn't know why. Through the fog that has settled in his head, Harry tries to reason with himself, to tell himself that he's faced far worse than a dark room before – his entire life might as well have been a dark room with the amount of time he was forced to spend inside his cupboard – but nothing can quell the churning feeling inside his gut that something about this room has the power to undo him.
"Hello?" he says shakily, and what he gets in return is neither a face nor a voice. Instead, there is a noise behind him, like tiny feet on a linoleum floor, which sounds as though it is getting closer by the second. Moments later, Harry feels it, an animal, sniffing around his feet, and when it looks up, he realises he is staring into the wild eyes of his animagus godfather.
"P...Padfoot?" Harry whispers and, for a moment, his fears disappear because here he is, the man who will take him away from the Dursleys, who will stand by him when he defeats Voldemort, who will take care of him out of love. And all Harry wants to do is touch the dog's head, to ruffle his fur and scratch behind his ears. And then he wants Sirius to stop messing about and transform back to his normal self so that everything will be okay again. But he doesn't, and it isn't.
The dog sits for a moment, staring up at him like he's waiting for something – and then Harry hears an ominous boom. Padfoot stares into the black.
"Sirius?" Harry says, but the dog bolts and Harry yanks at his ropes, forgetting that he is tied up. He wants nothing more than to follow Padfoot, but each tug against the restraints burns his skin. Letting out an angry groan, he feels his eyes growing wet and he doesn't realise until the dog has disappeared into the black that he is crying. "Sirius, c-come back." His voice is thick with a new sense of loss. "Sirius!" he shouts into the blackness, but his desperate cries go unanswered.
Another ominous boomreverberates off the non-existent walls, and then another. Each one resembles a stomping hippogriff, but Harry knows better. He swears he can feel the entire room shaking beneath him as the sound closes in on him. In a matter of seconds, Harry's heart rate doubles and he knows what is coming even before it does. Squeezing his eyes together, he tries to ignore it, tries to pretend this isn't happening to him, whatever this is. And then the stomping stops and the room is dead with silence. As he breathes, he can smell something acrid – a smell he remembers vividly, a smell that he has prayed to Merlin he would never smell again. Startled by a hand touching his knee, his eyes fly open and he lets out an involuntary scream at the large, purpling face that grins only inches from his own. Uncle Vernon. The man's hand shoots out, grabbing him by the chin and Harry's eyes are wet and wide with fear.
"Back so soon, boy?"
Harry shudders and his uncle's hand quickly shifts from his knee and grabs at his hair, pulling it taught. Harry yelps and menacing laughter fills the room. His uncle's breath is almost sickening, but every attempt to shift his head away results in a violent tug and Harry can hear the odd pingof hairs being pulled from his scalp. Uncle Vernon says nothing more, and this is enough to set the fear of Merlin into Harry's already frightened bones. When his uncle's expression changes and a smirk plays upon his lips, Harry recognises the look.
"No," he whispers, his voice almost completely gone to fear. As soon as he speaks, the world suddenly speeds up. A hand races towards him and his uncle's flat open palm whips across his face with so much force that his nose starts to bleed instantaneously. As quickly as he'd arrived, Uncle Vernon rounds Harry's chair and seems to disappear into the blackness. Harry is left reeling, the blood from his nose colouring his lips and dripping down the back of his throat, making him cough. He blinks away the tears, trying to clear his vision.
Again, something makes a sound behind him, but his neck won't turn enough to see. He can hear some kind of commotion and he wants to ask who's therebut, after what's just happened, he can't seem to get the words out. It's only when he tries to wriggle himself free enough to see behind him that the ropes seem to give. With a pull, his hands and feet come loose from the chair. Frantically untangling himself, he jumps up from his seat and turns around towards the noise, but no one is there. Moving closer to the sound, Harry slowly rounds the chair and finds himself staring down at the broken shard of Sirius' mirror. His whole body shakes; he's found it! Part of his misery lifts and he almost sobs at the sight of it just lying there so innocently right in front of him.
And then he sees it. Something in the mirror moves. He reaches down to grab it, hope rushing back to him. "Sirius? Sirius, you're alive, you're –"
But as he picks it up, the face inside it is his own. And behind him, Uncle Vernon sneers.
From behind, a meaty hand covers his mouth and another pulls him backwards by the waist. The mirror slips from Harry's grasp and, as he is pulled away, all he hears is the sound as it hits the floor and shatters.
Time lapses. Harry finds himself face down on the floor. He's not sure if he feels nothing or if he's feeling everything at once. Between the mirror shattering and finding himself here, he remembers nothing. Some part of him is telling him not to move because the pain will only remind him of things he'd rather forget. Another part of him is saying, stop pretending! Get up and make it better, Harry. Only you can make it all okay again.
But he doesn't. He wants to. Oh, Merlin, how he wants to get up, but the fear of Uncle Vernon hiding in the shadows keeps him firmly stuck to the ground. Once again, his eyes seem to spill without his consent. He's crying and he doesn't want to admit why. The wave of emotion crashes over him and he feels like he's drowning in the deluge. His breaths come in short gasps and it's all he can do not to sob. From his position on the floor, he draws in his arms and covers his face, crying almost silently into his hands. To anyone else, his shuddering shoulders would be the only sign of his turmoil. In his mind, he's not even sure he feels anything, but his body takes over completely.
At that moment, a voice sounds throughout the room, distant, as if bleeding through the floor.
"You're pathetic, Potter." The deep voice is easily recognisable. "What a dire excuse for a wizard you are. And to think, your mother diedfor you. This is the mockery you make of her sacrifice?"
Harry covers his ears, shaking his head and burying it in the floor. He closes his eyes. It's all a nightmare, just wake up, Harry! Wake up, wake up!He says to himself. Wake up! Bloody wake up!
Now Ron's voice fills the room and Harry isn't sure how much more of this place he can take. But Ron's voice is louder, not distant and whispery like Snape's.
He feels somebody shove him.
" – up!"
As Harry opens his eyes, he is blinded by the light in the room. He immediately wretches over the side of the bed, but nothing comes up. He brings his hand to his face, feeling for blood, but there's nothing there. Letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding, he turns over and jumps at the sight of Ron staring down at him.
"Sorry, mate. You were moaning in your sleep, not to mention we have Potions in ten minutes." Ron looks pale, though not as pale as Harry.
"Nrgh," Harry groans, feeling even sicker at the thought of seeing Snape. After that nightmare, he doesn't want to see Snape ever again. He buries his head under his pillow and murmurs, "Not got m'books."
"So you'll share mine. Come on, Harry, he'll be worse if you don't turn up."
Harry thinks about it. He can't go back to sleep again unless he wants to throw himself into an even worse panic. He wonders how bad he might have been had Ron not woken him up when he did.
Maybe double potions with Snape and a classroom full of students is better than a detention with Snape alone.With how he is feeling, he isn't sure how well he would cope being alone in a room with Snape. He can only hope that the man has decided to drop the Whomping Willow incident. Snape's words from his dream echo in his head – you're pathetic, Potter.That is the Snape he knows and loathes, not the one from the night before who pretended to care. Forget Snape and his stupid games, Harry thinks, ignore him until he leaves you alone. He's not the only one who can pretend.
In a matter of seconds, Harry is out of bed trying to steady himself on wobbly legs. Taking a deep breath, he tells Ron he'll be ready in a minute and goes to the bathroom to change his clothes. Once dressed, he leans heavily on the sink and bows his head. He exhales loudly, as if trying to expel his terrible nightmare in one breath. As he plants an expression of fake cheer on his face, he exits the bathroom, and for the first time ever in his life, he finds himself wishing that Voldemort was the centre of his dreams again.