Warnings: AU. Some OOC.
A/N: This story started as an idea that wouldn't go away. I hope you enjoy it and I'd really love to hear your feedback. Tell me what you like, what you don't like. Constructive criticism is welcome. The next chapter is already written and should be up in the next day or two.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any part of the wonderful world Rowling created for us.
Harry surfaced from the blank blackness of unnatural sleep to feel a warm hand brush against his forehead. He smiled at the soft touch before falling back into the welcoming blackness, wanting nothing more than to sleep until he finally felt rested.
"Harry," he heard a voice whisper to him before he became aware of Hermione nudging him awake. "Wake up."
"Five more minutes," Harry mumbled, rolling away from Hermione's offending voice. Why couldn't they just leave him alone? He was tired, and the mere action of rolling over killed any energy he gained from sleeping.
"Bloody hell, Harry," Ron complained, "You've been sleeping all day, and Madame Pomfrey won't be in her office all night."
"Go away," Harry tried again. "Tired."
"Harry," Hermione said sounding exasperated, yet pleading.
Harry groaned, but peeled open his crusty eyelids. It was dark wherever he was with only a few candles chasing away night's darkness. Madame Pomfrey. Ron had mentioned her. He must be in the Hospital Wing again, but he couldn't remember how he got there.
A fuzzy hand came into view holding his glasses. Harry took them, placing them on his face. He blinked a few times before his eyes came into focus, and he was able to see that it was Hermione who had handed him his glasses.
"Thanks, 'Mione," Harry said as he struggled to push himself up. Ron's arms wrapped around his chest, and he let Ron pull him up to rest against the pillows.
"We were so worried about you," Hermione flung herself at Harry. He gasped from Hermione's tight hold. She jumped back and apologized.
"It's okay. What happened?"
"You mean, you don't remember, mate?" Ron asked.
"No. The last thing I remember was sitting in Potions and Snape was giving us our summer homework." Despite having finished their O.W.L.S., the fifth years still had their end of term tests to complete and while most teachers gave them a simple test in comparison to the O.W.L.S., Snape of course had not.
"You passed out faster than Neville can explode a potion. Even Snape couldn't aim his spell fast enough to stop you from hitting the floor, not that the git was trying too hard," Ron grumbled the last bit.
"Ronald just because you didn't do well on your test doesn't mean Professor Snape…" Harry blocked out the rest of Hermione's tirade. He passed out in Potions? Why? He'd been feeling tired with a few dizzy spills, but he thought he was fine. Madame Pomfrey healed the few cuts and bruises he obtained at the Ministry and declared him healthy enough to leave the next morning, insisting he stay the night to make sure he got an interrupted night of sleep, free from dreams. That was days ago. He was sure nothing could've happened to him since then.
Harry sighed and slid back down into bed, ignoring Ron and Hermione. It took too much energy to keep his eyes open, and they were too busy fighting about Snape to notice him.
"Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley! You are disturbing my patient, not to mention that I specifically told you earlier that Mr. Potter is not up to having visitors!" Madame Pomfrey scolded. Harry didn't even crack open an eye, just listened as his two best friends' voices of protestation faded until the door closed and a welcome silence filled the wing.
"I must insist, Mr. Potter, that you don't go back to sleep yet," Madame Pomfrey said as Harry heard her move towards his bed.
"What's wrong with me?"
"A delayed case of magical exhaustion, no doubt caused by your excursion at the Ministry," Pomfrey tutted as she swept her wand across his body.
"Delayed?" Harry's eyes snapped open in confusion.
"Yes. The shock of losing your godfather caused your body's reactions to be delayed. Once the shock and adrenalin wore off your body responded. You exerted a great deal of magic that night. It'll take some time for your core to replenish itself."
"So I'm not dying?" Harry sighed in relief.
"No, Mr. Potter, far from it," Madame Pomfrey laughed. "You just need rest. Go to sleep." Harry nodded and nuzzled into the standard white bed linens of the Hospital Wing. His eyes closed and he felt his glasses being lifted from his face as he sunk back into the welcoming darkness of sleep.
Severus Snape swept out of the floo into his quarters. He stomped the few feet between the hearth to the side table, picking up the half-empty glass and flinging it against the wall. It shattered but did nothing to appease his anger—anger at Albus and anger at himself for caving into the Headmaster's wishes.
Severus had been looking forward to his summer after his cover as a spy was blown thanks to Potter's abhorrent decision to trapeze across Britain in efforts to save the mutt he called a godfather. For once he'd be free of the teenage miscreants he despised and not have orders to follow from either the Dark Lord or Albus to interrupt his summer solitude. But no, Severus had underestimated Albus. The meddling fool worked around Severus' inability to be sent on Order missions and tasked him with an even worse mission. Teach Harry Potter. For the entire summer.
How was he supposed to teach the brat who refused to be taught? Dumbledore warned him to be careful with Potter. The Headmaster was worried about his golden boy's reaction to the mutt's death. What did Dumbledore think he was? A Muggle shrink? He didn't have a sympathetic bone in his body when it came to Potter. But in Albus' infuriating way, he managed to get Severus to agree to teach Potter over the summer without Severus even realizing it until he already agreed.
If teaching Potter wasn't a horrendous enough task, Albus waited until after Severus agreed before topping off the task with a cherry, a blood red exploding one. With the castle near empty for the summer, Albus reasoned that Potter should reside in Severus' quarters. Severus wanted to kick and scream like a toddler, but he had too much decorum for that. He couldn't believe his planned restful summer was turned into an arduous task that was sure to drive him to St. Mungo's psychiatric ward before the Dark Lord could kill him.
A loud pop startled Severus out of his brooding. "Master Snape, sir!" an entirely too enthusiastic house-elf greeted the potions master.
Severus snarled, whipping around to face the obnoxious creature. He didn't allow house-elves in his quarters and certainly not ones who made their presence known. "Out!" Severus bellowed. He would not allow his privacy to be breached one millisecond before he had to, but the creature had other ideas.
"Dobby here to see to Harry Potter's room. Master Dumbledore's orders, sir."
Severus threw up his arms and stalked into his private lab. He slammed the heavy wooden door behind him feeling the existing wards wash over him that would prevent Dibby, Doppy, whatever the creature was called from popping into his lab.
Severus moved about his lab, setting up cauldrons to begin the healing potions needed for the Hospital Wing the following year while thinking about how to break the news to Potter in the morning. Albus had left him that pleasure, and with a crooked grin that would send first years running to their mummy's, Severus began to grind up iridescent fairy wings.
After a last quick check-up by Pomfrey, Harry was released from the Hospital Wing to join his friends in the Great Hall for breakfast with a warning that if he overdid it, he'd be spending the last week of term under her supervision. He was still more tired than usual, but it was expected. The only remedy was to limit his use of magic and get extra rest until his core could build itself up again.
"Morning," Harry said as he slipped into his normal seat besides Hermione and across from Ron.
"Harry!" Ron said through his stuffed mouth as he looked up from his full plate surprised.
"Ron, that's gross! Do you want to send Harry back to the Hospital Wing because of your horrible table manners?" Hermione scolded before turning to Harry. "Are you sure you shouldn't be lying down?"
"You were sure out of it, mate," Ron said after swallowing.
"I'm fine," Harry reassured his friends as he scooped a spoonful of eggs onto his plate. "Madame Pomfrey let me out, and you know she doesn't let me out until I'm fine."
"All right, but you really should eat more than that," Hermione sounded skeptical as she piled up Harry's plate for him.
"Yes, Mother," Harry rolled his eyes as Ron laughed.
"I'm just trying to help." Hermione withdrew her hand from reaching for another piece of toast for Harry.
"I know, Mione, but I really can feed myself." Hermione blushed in embarrassment before letting Harry tuck into his well-balanced and plentiful breakfast.
Harry and Ron ate while Hermione leafed through a large ancient book. Hermione's insatiable need for knowledge knew no boundaries apparently. Harry couldn't believe after O.W.L.S and end of term exams, Hermione could read a book without disgust. His brain was still jumbled from O.W.L.S and wondered if it would take all summer before he could concentrate again.
"Did Madam Pomfrey say anything about your magic acting weird because of your core?" Hermione whispered once Harry pushed his plate away.
"No," Harry shrugged, though his magic had been wonky for the last month.
It started with little things that Harry barely noticed. His spells weren't quite as strong, and it took more concentration to cast. As the last month passed, Harry's magical strength continued to dwindle though no one noticed since the diminished levels were on par with most of his classmates. Even Snape didn't seem to notice. Harry thought it was nothing until the night at the Ministry. He couldn't cast the cruciatus curse at Bellatrix, but the actual failure of his spell didn't worry him, the fact that he didn't feel even a tingle of magic shoot through his wand was what worried him and made him finally confide in Hermione and Ron.
"You should've asked her about it," Hermione scolded. "What if it's a result of a stray hex?" Harry shook his head. He knew it wasn't a stray hex because it wasn't sudden like Hermione thought. He never told them that it didn't start the night at the Ministry. Harry didn't want that lecture from Hermione, and he had enough on his plate with the prophecy.
Merlin, he had forgotten all about the prophecy in his lethargic state that had put him in the Hospital Wing.
Harry stood up abruptly, tipping over his glass of pumpkin juice. "I think I'm gonna go lie down for a while," he lied. He needed to get away. Some place quiet, some place he could forget all about that damn prophecy. Kill or be killed. Harry staggered away from the Gryffindor table.
"Harry, wait!" Hermione called after him, but Harry picked up his pace. He couldn't tell his friends. They wouldn't understand, and it wasn't their burden to bear. It was his. Harry bolted from the Great Hall in a blind run until he collided with a black figure at the foot of the stairs and landed on his rear right in front of the pool of black robes.
Harry's eyes widened as he scrambled to his feet. He couldn't deal with Snape. Not now. Harry brushed past his professor and thought he'd gotten away when a hand grabbed his shoulder. He tried to jerk away, but Snape was too strong.
"Come, Potter. You and I need to talk," Snape said as he dug his fingers into Harry's shoulder, directing him towards the dungeons.
"Professor, please," Harry pleaded, trying to extricate Snape's hand from his shoulder. "I need to lie down. Madam Pomfrey said not to overdo it, sir."
"If you are well enough to run from the Great Hall, you are well enough to have a conversation with your professor, or should I lead you up to Madam Pomfrey myself?" Snape stopped, his eyebrow raised in question.
Harry's shoulders sagged realizing there was no way Snape would let him get out of whatever conversation he was being drug to. He really hated the man. If Snape would've helped, Sirius would still be alive his one chance at a normal family away from the Dursleys. Reluctantly, Harry nodded before following Snape into the bowels of Hogwarts past the potions classroom and Snape's office.
"Sir?" Harry asked, stopping in the middle of the dark corridor. He was starting to get worried despite knowing Snape's cover had been blown. Was Snape going to capture him to get back into Voldemort's good graces?
"Can you not follow a simple command, Potter? Even a mutt has the brain capacity to obey orders," Snape sneered as he whipped around to face Harry, his black robes whirling around him.
"Where are you taking me?" Harry asked, his voice as small as a frightened young child.
"Must you question everything?" Snape snapped, grabbing Harry's upper arm to drag him down the corridor.
"Get your hands off me, you greasy bat," Harry yelled trying to rip his arm away from his professor. Snape was kidnapping him, taking him to Voldemort! Why else would Snape drag him away from everyone else in the castle? Harry reached for his wand, but withdrew his hand. Harry couldn't perform a spell when it was likely the spell wouldn't work as it was supposed to. Snape would notice, tell Voldemort, and Voldemort would kill him on the spot before Harry could get a handle on his magic again.
"Ten points from Gryffindor. Shall I take more?" Snape taunted, his menacing form staring Harry down while he twirled his wand in his free hand. "If memory serves, my house is only a few points behind Gryffindor. I would so hate if the House Cup changed hands because of the actions of one imbecilic fifth year," Snape said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "But wait, that already happened."
Harry averted his eyes to the dungeon floor, Snape's words cutting through him. It was his fault. He went to the Ministry. He got Sirius killed. "Please, stop," Harry begged, his voice breaking as he rested his forehead against the cold dungeon walls. His adrenaline zapped, Harry's eyelids felt like the weight of a hippogriff.
He didn't want to be taken to Voldemort. He wasn't ready to die, and he certainly wasn't ready to face Voldemort. All he wanted was to be alone. He wanted to forget about the last week about Sirius, his wonky magic, the prophecy, but not by dying.
"Potter, come," Snape said, his deep tone sounding normal, devoid of any hints of ridicule. Harry looked up, jumping back from the man who had somehow crept to within an arms length of him without his notice. Snape set his hand on Harry's shoulder, not gripping his shoulder like Harry was used to, but a hold that if it wasn't from Snape Harry would consider it comforting, but that was never Snape. His professor hated him.
"Okay," Harry consented, too tired and worn down to object. Maybe dying was easier. Snape snatched his hand away from Harry and continued down the corridor. Harry followed the potions master through twists and turns until Harry was thoroughly confused. The Marauders' Map didn't reach this far into the dungeons, so Harry didn't know if they were approaching a hidden passageway or not
They stopped in front of a solid brick wall. "Your hand, Potter." Harry held out his hand to Snape, confused as Snape guided Harry's hand to the wall. "Feel those slight indentations? Remember them," Snape told him before his professor placed his wand on the wall and incanted a string of whispered Latin. A green glow surrounded Harry's hand before a wood door appeared. This was it. Snape was taking him outside the castle.
Snape opened the heavy door and ushered Harry in. He stopped right inside the door, surprised to find a roomy sitting room decorated in deep blues and greens instead of a passageway. Two wingback chairs were situated around the fireplace, but what caught Harry's attention was the sofa. While every other piece of furniture in the room looked newer and well kept, the sofa appeared as if one too many reparo charms had been used. Small patches littered the navy blue sofa, and the left armrest was squashed down, and even more intriguing was the white kitten curled up on a green blanket on the middle cushion.
"Sit down, Potter," Snape gestured to one of the chairs. Harry, glad for the seat, sank into the wingback chair. He sighed in relief, realizing Snape wasn't going to kidnap him. He was just overacting. Harry forced his eyes to stay open, wondering where he was because Snape wouldn't ever show Harry where his personal quarters were, and Snape would never have a white kitten.
"Where are we, sir?" Harry asked, too tired to work out any other possibility.
"My quarters. I trust you're not suicidal enough to inform any students where my quarters reside."
"No, sir," Harry forced out, his eyes wide. Snape's quarters were cozy, and he had a white kitten. A kitten, the greasy git of the dungeons known to make first years cry with his glare owned a tiny white kitten! Harry didn't know if he should laugh or confess to Pomfrey that he was delusional. "Why did you bring me here?"
"Professor Dumbledore has decided upon an alternative instead of you returning to your relatives this summer," Snape began with an evil smirk that made Harry want to flee back to Gryffindor tower.
Severus smirked as he watched Potter squirm in the chair across from him. It was a smart decision to bring Potter to his quarters to break the news to the brat, being in his quarters discomforted Potter more than anywhere else in the castle. Severus conjured a tea set and served himself a cup of tea with exactly one and a quarter cubes of sugar before motioning to Potter to serve himself. Severus sipped on his tea, leaving Potter to wait in silence and think of the numerous possibilities of where he'd spend his summer.
He knew he was being a right bastard, but Severus couldn't help himself. Potter caused more trouble than Longbottom, and it was always Severus who had to save the boy.
"No," Potter gasped. The boy clunked his teacup down on its saucer and started pacing a small track in front of the fire. "Dumbledore wouldn't." Harry's hands went to his head, his fingers pulling on his dark mop of hair.
"Potter, do you need a calming draught?" Severus glared. The brat wasn't supposed to work himself up like this, not yet. It was ruining his plans. Potter was supposed to blow a gasket after Severus told him the news, not steal Severus' moment from him. "Sit down," Severus commanded, "before I use a sticking charm on you!"
"No! I can't," Potter rambled, his pacing across the navy hearth rug picking up speed. "Dumbledore, no. I'd rather go back to the Dursley's. He can't. I won't."
"Potter," Severus barked, trying to get through to him. Potter continued his nonsensical rambling and pacing. Severus sighed. It was not supposed to be like this. He would not coddle the boy. He summoned a calming draught while standing from his chair. "Harry," Severus said in soft tone, placing his hands gently on the teen's shoulders. He directed Potter back to the chair and handed the phial of potion over to Potter to drink. Potter, for once, did something without being told to and drank the potion as if it were an automated response. Severus returned to his chair, waiting for the potion to kick in before he'd inform Potter of the summer plans Albus drew up for him.
Thanks for reading and any reviews make my day. =)