A/N: I have a feeling I'm going to get a message telling me that I've gotten this and that wrong or something shouldn't happen because Murphy's Law says there should be one of those annoying messages. (and it does happen) Well, no. I already know it's different so let's not go there.
I think I'll stick with these short chapters; they're much easier to handle. Especially when I'm writing behemoths for my other fics. XD
Thanks for all of the support, faves and reviews. Much appreciated everyone.
Let this be a reminder that the pace will be excruciatingly slow.
Harry Potter lived under the cupboard. He spent the majority of his childhood trapped in that dark and stuffy little enclave and when he looked back on those times he was filled with burning resentment. At least, that's the way he normally felt.
Since his 'encounter' with the dementor the day before he had been left feeling…different. He wasn't quite sure how to explain it but it was a bit like he had been living in a darkened room with only one open window and the dementor had swept in like some sort of deranged cloth duster, removed the heavy drapes, pulled the blinds, cleaned the windows before departing leaving him in the middle of light and open skies.
As bizarre as that relentlessly convoluted simile was it was the best way he could think to describe it. Now that 'the windows were open' so to say, he could see everything that was going on.
And it seemed like the neighbours had some unnerving habits and what's more they've clearly seen 'Rear Window' a few too many times.
Harry wasn't insane but he definitely had a voice in the back of his head nattering on and on…that didn't really sound convincing did it?
At first he'd assumed it was just another aspect of puberty and his conscience was getting snarky but at this stage, now that his head had cleared, he had to admit that it was more like a voice whispering in his ear.
If Harry had to compare it to something it was a bit like having a sarky friend who provided you with a running commentary of surrounding events and he had to admit that if this voice was a friend it was definitely a trusted friend.
He leafed through the Runes textbook Hermione loaned him while they waited for transfiguration class to begin. After mulling over it for a while he decided not to mention it to his friends. For one thing they'd overreact, Ron would bluster, Hermione would rush off to research it and then they'd insist on telling Dumbledore who was not his favourite person at this moment in time.
Harry paused and adjusted his glasses before smiling to himself. Actually right now the dementor was more of an ally than a man who considered soul-sucking monsters an appropriate guard for a school full of children.
He blinked before realising that Hermione was still talking. She was babbling away, gesticulating and goddamit he hadn't heard a word she said. 'SHIT!' he thought 'What do I do now? A fight with 'Mione is the last thing I need right now.'
'Do what comes naturally then. Bluff.'
Minerva McGonagall had taught at Hogwarts for a great many years to the point that very little that the students did truly surprise her. However Harry Potter had managed to do just that. He had managed to extricate himself from Divination without causing any sort of offence and when she'd talked to Professor Trelawney the woman had nothing but good things to say about Potter and he'd only been in her class for all of twenty minutes.
It seemed that the summer had been good for Mister Potter in some unexpected ways. Whatever sort of holiday he'd had he had returned much more thoughtful and diplomatic. Boys his age were usually thoughtless and selfish giving little heed to others but Harry had proved to have the capability for dealing with delicate situations.
She nodded approvingly to herself. Yes, that boy was a lot like his parents. Clearly his diligence and responsibility from his mother was beginning to emerge and combined with the charisma of his father he was a perfect candidate for prefect in a couple of years.
Snape ignored the class for the most part. He had a grievous headache and the castle was infected with terminal case of dementors and lycanthropes. It was as if fate had decided to see what it could to render the castle unliveable. He scowled and swept through the classroom.
Granger had teamed up with Longbottom for once. Snape sneered. They should have figured out to do that on their first class. That Granger girl irritated the hell out of him. It wasn't her intelligence (he appreciated that) or her background (he grew up knowledgeable about magic but he had lived a practically muggle lifestyle for his childhood) or even the fact that her textbook knowledge would always outstrip her skill in potions (she thought she was better than she actually was and that was a dangerous, frequently fatal, mindset to have.)
It was her constant kissing up to authority figures that gnawed at him, her over anxiousness to prove herself channelling energies in the wrong direction. Snape had seen how Gryffindor had treated her until Potter had reached out to her. Anyone would pin her for a Ravenclaw with her mind. Hufflepuff would have protected her well and Slytherin would have given her an education that made her truly dangerous. Unfortunately she was in Gryffindor where she was encouraged to plough ahead, possess an obnoxiously irritating attitude towards authority figures and never thought twice. It was wasted potential and the only thing Snape hated more than bullies, suck-ups and James Potter was wasting potential. 'After all,' he mused internally 'knowledge is loud, wisdom is silent.'
He sneered into their cauldron and moved on. Snape continued his pantomime all the time internally thinking about letters he had to answer, his weekend plans and pretty much anything to take his mind off his aching headache. He passed Potter again and curled his lip while his mind ran to what he could have for dinner. He hated teaching, he really did. If he could have a choice he would spend his life in commissions and research. That was what he wanted to do with his life not this! But Albus had him by the nuts (so to speak) and either he continued to obey the man or he went to Azkaban and right now Hogwarts greatly resembled that fallen citadel.
'Still, what Albus Dumbledore wanted, he usually got.' Snape groused internally. He personally loathed this particular duty. It went against everything he believed. He'd sooner kill himself than let anyone rummage around in his head but he was expected to perform this duty on the students whenever it was requested. (not that Dumbledore didn't do it himself.) Snape had his duties for the day. 'Check on Harry Potter.' So he did.
The last thing he remembered before the backlash had him hit the floor was a pseudo-memory of a great oppressive power bearing down on him. There was a hint of a smile on the shaded face and Severus Tobias Snape discovered that there things in the world even more terrifying than he could have ever believed.
Dumbledore frowned down from his position on the staff table.
The year had not exactly got off to a good start. First Harry had been attacked by a dementor (although he was curious to see if that had any effect on the soul fragment embedded in his scar. He resolved to have a probe the next opportunity he had.), then Severus had collapsed in the middle of his third year potions class. The headmaster frowned and peered over his steepled fingers. There was, of course, the issue of Harry switching classes like that. It was strange and, dare he say it, very uncharacteristic. The way he had charmed Sybil had been almost like…no, no. He shook his head. He couldn't jump to any conclusions.
He glanced over to the Gryffindor table where the boy who lived was sharing a pot of tea with Miss Granger. How strange…but hardly anything to worry about. Dumbledore resolved to keep a closer eye on Harry Potter and reminded himself to push the boy towards Remus. It would definitely prove beneficial in the long term.
Hermione savoured the warmth of the tea as it slide down her throat. It left delicious warmth down her body and she sighed appreciatively. It had been a strange and stressful day. First, there had been that mess with divination and then Professor Snape had looked at Harry before having some sort of fit and collapsing. Rumours were that he was in a coma and Madame Pomfrey had called in the specialists at Saint Mungos.
What worried Hermione had been Harry's reaction. He had been…impassive for want of a better word. He had blinked in surprise at Snape before calmly proceeding to summon help. Draco Malfoy had gone immediately to Snapes side but he had given Harry a calculating look as if Harry had become something new, different and more importantly unknown.
Harry had changed, that much was certain. Hermione wondered if she needed to be worried but then she had to admit that people do change and if Harry did so she really had no right to say anything only support her friend in whatever direction he took. (as long as it wasn't anything illegal or dangerous)
He had been right about divination though. What had she been thinking taking up such a woolly discipline? Harry had also voiced certain disapproving thoughts regarding her taking of muggle studies and when she argued claiming that it would be fascinating to hear about it from the point of view of wizards he had snorted and given her an utterly derisive expression.
"You want to waste your education discovering how moronically misinformed the wizarding world is about the politics, lifestyle and social structure of mundane humanity then do it." He had sneered "but don't insult my intelligence by trying to convince me it is a worthy use of the time you need to dedicate to your 'real' studies."
She had been shocked and unable to respond. Harry had not retracted his words but he had offered her a cup of tea. Hermione had accepted the peace offering for what it was but it went unsaid that he took back nothing.
Hermione peered over the table to Harry. He looked so tired and stressed. She could see why he said he was taking an early night. If anyone at Hogwarts was due a collapse it was Snape but he was followed on that list by filch and Harry respectively. It made sense; no one else was half as stressed.
Harry went to bed early that night. His roommates sat up and speculated about their upcoming DaDa lessons wondering if the new professor was any good.
He slept like the dead.
The room seemed wider somehow but since he didn't remember visiting it before he was unsure as to how he knew that.
The walls had grown partially transparent and resembled twirling fogs as they flickered. The windows held strong, shutters thrown up and fresh air twirling in but they seemed bigger somehow.
He slumped in the winged armchair and looked out, though the walls, through the windows. Harry caught glimpses of marshland and open fields twisting underneath a magnificent open sky with clouds far on the horizon.
"Can I…am I allowed to go there?" he whispered
"Not yet." The voice replied "It's opened up this much already. But you're not ready yet partner. You have made it here already though and that is far more than most ever accomplish."
Harry turned his head to peer out of the corner of his eye at the figure on the couch. "Did you do something to Snape?"
"Deliberately? No but you can't stick your head into a furnace and complain of third degree burns."
"Is he?" the figure regarded him impassively "Is that deeply torn soul your enemy or his he merely an object in your path…out path?"
Harry paused "I…just don't know anymore."
"What are you?"
The figure laughed. "Don't you know?"
A/N: No, there is no Hermione bashing here, merely foundations for some later growth. Ha-ha.