Souls Abound

Disclaimer: Only the ideas are mine, the rest belongs to JKR

Chapter 2

Harry awoke to his favourite pair of brown eyes in the entire world. Hermione had apparently refused to leave his side last night, given what happened the last time he let go her hand, they may be joined at the hip for quite a while.

Madam Pomfrey had been reluctant to force the issue, in fact the Hogwarts healer enlarged the bed so they would both be more comfortable. Considering Mr Potter was already in an exhausted sleep and both students were fully clothed, neither Minerva nor Albus had raised any objections.

Harry noticed he could see Hermione better than he normally could without his glasses and decided to tell madam Pomfrey about it later. First he had to greet his friend that he had so sorely missed. "Good morning Hermione, I'm really pleased to see you."

She gave him a brilliant smile in return, "Me to Harry, Just don't mention us sleeping in the same bed to my dad!"

Harry was rapidly getting worried when he heard her giggling, it was with great relief he realised she was joking. Joking or not, Harry certainly wouldn't be mentioning it to either of her parents. "Are you sure they'll let me stay Hermione?"

Again the brilliant smile, "Harry, as soon as we get out of here I need to borrow Hedwig. Let them know I'm ok and ask permission for you to stay. They're always saying I can have friends stay over, I've just never had any before."

In his eagerness to please, Harry missed the longing in her voice, "I can cook, clean and do the garden. I promise I won't be a bother."

Hermione squeezed his hand in reassurance, hearing what he went through at the Dursleys his response was understandable. Hermione now considered it her mission in life to let Harry see what a wonderful person he was, not the useless freak image that the Dursleys had built in his mind. "Harry, you're my friend, not some servant. We will have a few chores to do over the summer but nothing much. The Grangers are not the Dursleys. When you stayed with the Weasleys, you just helped out the same as Ron. That's the way it will be in our house, though perhaps a shade quieter!"

Harry thought he had messed up and she hadn't even asked her parents yet, "Sorry Hermione, I just don't have any experience of how normal families operate. You'll have to keep me right."

The smile actually increased in luminance, "Oh don't worry Harry, I intend to."

A very recognisable voice came from behind him, "Typical, she's just woke up and already telling us what to do. I should be mad at you Harry for that normal families dig. Then I thought of the twins and Percy and had to agree, the Weasleys aren't normal."

This had them all chuckling before Harry replied, "Hey mate, even when she was petrified she was still getting us out of trouble. All Hagrid told us was to 'follow the spiders', Hermione here had the whole thing figured out. Not only what the monster was, but how it was getting about the castle. Brilliant or what!"

Ginny could hear the admiration and so much more in Harry's voice, she hadn't been aware how big a debt she owed Hermione as well. She had made her mind up to be Harry's friend and understood that Hermione would have to be included in there somewhere. Now Ginny found herself wanting to get to know the girl better.

If both Harry and her brother Ron thought she was great, who was she to disagree.

-oOoOo-

Tom / Sibyll awoke in the room of requirements and was dumbfounded. He was supposed to awake in his own body, not this sherry sodden myopic mystic. What could have gone wrong?

The most powerful wizard since Merlin was reduced to crawling about the floor, on her hands and knees, searching for her glasses. When he decided just to summon them Tom discovered another major problem. After running his hands up and down this disgusting body, he couldn't find a wand anywhere.

'Using magic interferes with the inner eye!'

This was another slap in the face to Tom, how was it possible her soul was still in this body? That wouldn't happen unless…oh shit, she was a squib!

'Squib is just a label banded about to make others feel more powerful. A true seer uses their magic in a totally different way'

Tom was livid, he had the entire castle to choose from. How the hell did he end up with a squib? "If you're such a true seer, how the hell did you end up wearing the Diadem? Oh no, I'm talking to myself already, not good!"

Without being able to use her magic to build a new body, he was trapped in this one. Unable to perform magic and the only way to leave was when the body died, unfortunately it would kill him also. Shit, he couldn't even get the bitch to shut-up!

'Oh, you really aren't a morning person, are you? Maybe you need a morning glass of sherry to relax you, it always works for me'

Tom felt the compulsion charm, he had somewhere else to be. Not having his own body or even the ability to perform magic severely curtailed his options. He was going to have to walk out the front gate and get to Hogsmead. From the Leaky Cauldron he could floo to London, from there it would probably have to be muggle transport to Little Hangleton. He needed a plan, and fast.

-oOoOo-

Albus never actually got to sleep last night so to say he awoke would be inaccurate. He had tossed and turned all night. Not so much wrestling with his conscience over the treatment of Harry, more like wondering what in Merlin's name he was going to do now. His suspicions had all been confirmed last night but his one and only plan had been wiped away as effectively as the black gunk oozing out the boy's forehead.

Yes Harry had been a horcrux but now he didn't have to die before the dark lord could be defeated. Instead, the boy had proved beyond doubt the power of love he carried inside him was strong enough to triumph over Voldemort himself. With the prophecy and brother wands to take into consideration, Albus hadn't a clue what to do next. This was not an option the old wizard could run with for long, hence the tossing and turning all night.

The wards at the Dursleys were going to have to be sacrificed, there was far too much for Albus to lose for very little benefit. The love he would receive from spending a summer with the Grangers would do the lad far more good than those relatives of his. Also it would buy him some grace with Poppy, Minerva and Molly, telling them Harry had to return to Little Whining would be about as pleasant as having your nuts crushed in a vice.

Albus was going to have to choose his battles carefully or he could lose the boy's respect. Harry was a forgiving lad but Albus feared Miss Granger wouldn't be so quick where Harry's welfare was concerned. It was abundantly clear whose opinion Harry valued more.

In the last few battles with Voldemort, Albus had been at best a spectator. The prophecy made it clear whose fight this was, Dumbledore's fight was to ensure he didn't get sidelined altogether. If he revealed the existence of a prophecy, Miss Granger would immediately begin researching how Harry could hear the full thing. Should that knowledge get back to Voldemort … what?

Tom had already made Harry his number one target, discovering that Harry had a power Voldemort didn't know about might stay his hand. The trouble of trying to guess what Tom would do is that it was impossible to put yourself in his position. His fear of death might make him stay well away from the one who could kill him, then again he might come after Harry with everything he's got.

None of this conjecture though would help Albus when Harry asked his questions. Maybe Miss Weasley was correct, anyone who could defeat a basilisk with only a sword should not be treated like a child.

-oOoOo-

Minerva got a shock when she found Sibyll at her office door, she didn't think Sibyll actually knew where her office was. That was nothing though to the shock received when she heard why she was here.

"Minerva, I have a favour to ask. A friend of mine has just gotten married and no longer wishes to teach. She has recommended me for the now vacant post, it's an all girls school in Canada. The only problem being I would really have to leave Hogwarts today. Since it's only two weeks until the end of term, I was hoping you could release me early. I would hate to lose this opportunity to broaden my horizons."

The thought of Sibyll disappearing over the horizon was enough to put Minerva in a good mood that would last months. She'd been desperate to see the back of this woman for years. There was no way Sibyll was missing this job, Minerva would strap her onto the back of a broom and fly her to Canada herself.

"Sibyll, you can leave today with our thanks and gratitude for all the service you've given Hogwarts and her students. Chances like this come so rarely in life and one must grab them with both hands. Surely your inner eye told you I would say yes?"

"Of course it did Minerva, since you though are not blessed with this gift, I thought it only fair that I came and spoke to you in person. I shall miss our little chats Minerva, perhaps there will be someone just as stubborn and short sighted in my new school? Goodbye!"

With that Sibyll left a smiling Minerva, the deputy headmistress didn't care if this woman enjoyed a final verbal victory. Trelawney was leaving Hogwarts so Minerva had won the war, happy days!

-oOoOo-

Hermione was reluctant to leave Harry's side even when he was being examined but Madam Pomfrey had put her foot down. It still needed Harry speaking with the young witch to get her to leave his side. "Hermione, you have an important letter to write. Say hi to Hedwig for me and I'll catch up as soon as Madam Pomfrey is finished with me."

She still didn't want to leave but was desperate to contact her parents, Hermione wouldn't be able to settle until she had written confirmation that Harry would be spending the summer with her. If her parents said no then Hermione didn't know what she would do, she'd made a promise to Harry that wouldn't be broken if she had anything to do with it. With one final hug of Harry, she set of to the Gryffindor dorms to write her letter.

Poppy finally got down to her examination of the lad, "Well Mr Potter, how do you feel today?"

"Actually Madam Pomfrey. I'm feeling great! My eyesight appears to have improved as well. Getting that piece of Voldemort out of me should have been done years ago."

"I couldn't agree more Mr Potter but I never knew it was there. It didn't show on any of the many scans I've performed on you over the last two years. My scans are showing a difference now though, that abomination must have been parasitical and feeding off your magic to sustain itself. It may even have been responsible for your really poor eyesight. I'm showing a marked improvement in your vision. I know you're going to hate this but I want you here for at least another day until I can see your condition stabilising. No magic, no excitement and plenty of rest is what's required."

Harry knew from bitter experience it was pointless to argue with the Hogwarts healer, "Yes Madam Pomfrey. Do you really think there's a chance I won't need my glasses?"

Poppy could see the hope shining through his expression but didn't want to build his expectations too high. "Mr Potter, at this point I wouldn't rule anything in our out. It may take a few days until we discover exactly what effect not having that piece of filth in your head will have. As usual for you Mr Potter, there is nothing out there to compare this with, it's never been recorded as happening before now."

Great Harry thought, just what I need. Another reason to be different from everyone else. Each time something like this happened, he saw the chances of him ever being 'just Harry' disappear off into the distance.

Poppy also disappeared off into the distance, well heading off to find Minerva to be precise. Harry's readings were all over the place but every one heading in the right direction. He was already at the top end of the power scale for a Hogwarts student, if the readings kept climbing he would soon outstrip the staff and begin approaching Dumbledore's level. Poppy's instincts were telling her that the lad would end up surpassing the headmaster's, these same instincts were also leading her to Minerva's door rather than his.

Discovering that Albus suspected the lad had that in his head yet did nothing about it shocked the healer to her core. Combined with the revelations about the lad's home life, a home Albus had placed him in, left both women with no confidence that the headmaster would do the right thing where Harry was concerned.

Informing his head of house about his condition fulfilled Poppy's requirements as the healer at Hogwarts. What Minerva then chose to do with that information was entirely up to the Gryffindor head. Poppy suspected Albus would be searching for any reason to deny Harry an explanation, far less the freedom from his relatives he craved.

Minerva had confided in her last night that she felt the same, both women were going to do everything that they could to ensure Harry Potter never had to go anywhere near those relatives again.

-oOoOo-

Emma Granger was startled by the silent appearance of the beautiful white owl. She had been enjoying the sunshine in her back garden when Hedwig found her, Emma removed the note and shouted for her husband, "Dan, we've got mail from Hermione!"

Dan appeared at once, "Finally, no more of this 'doing fine but unable to write' rubbish. I told you she should have gone to Abbey College but you wouldn't listen. You can't let an eleven year old decide which school is most suitable for her, that's our job!"

This was an old argument so Emma ignored her husband as she quickly read through Hermione's letter. She started reading the important bits out loud as soon as she'd read them. "Hermione's fine, perfect health ... will tell us all about it when we get her off the train. Oh, she wants a friend to spend the entire summer with us ... it's a boy!"

That was all Dan needed to hear. "A boy! Not one of those redheads surely? Only Hermione could attend a private school and end up friends with the poorest people there."

"Daniel Granger! You know your father is turning in his grave at this moment. Ashamed that his son has turned into such a snob."

"What? Is it wrong to want the best for our daughter? Neither of us had bugger-all when growing up. We've done our best to make sure Hermione could have everything she could want."

Emma was exasperated with her husband, "Yes, everything but friends! Now she's asked if her best friend can stay the summer and you're working yourself up to saying no?"

Daniel appeared confused, "I thought her best friend was that Harry character? You know the one, cheap glasses, bad hair, worse clothes and a ruddy scar on his forehead."

Emma's gaze bored into her husband more effectively than one of their many drills. "Yes he is Dan, and if you ever want your daughter to speak to you again, you will never repeat one word of that. It's Harry she's asked to stay, that's his owl patiently sitting in the tree, waiting on our reply."

"How can that young scruff afford a beautiful bird like that?"

Emma let him have it both barrels, "Daniel Granger, if you want to ruin your relationship with Hermione just keep going, I guarantee you will achieve your goal."

Dan was squirming under his wife's gaze, "I just wish she'd choose some better friends."

Emma was relentless, "Don't you mean better-off friends? You can't go through life judging people by their wealth. Didn't Hermione tell us that man that Arthur fought with last summer bought his way out of prison years ago, do you want her to be friends with his son? I realise that, as a father, no one will ever be good enough for your daughter ..."

"Was that why your father hated me?"

Emma was at first reluctant to answer but Dan needed to change his ways, "Not really, daddy thought you were an arrogant arsehole."

"What? Well at least your mother liked me."

Emma shook her head, "Not really, mum was just better at hiding it."

"Oh great! How the hell did we ever end up married then?"

Emma knew she had him now, "Like you, they forgot the most important thing. Their daughter loved you very much. This is only Hermione's friend, look on it as practice for when she eventually brings home a boyfriend. Harry is apparently very good at sports, plays on their house team. You could take him down the golf club with you?"

"I suppose I could use a caddy."

"Daniel!"

"All right then, but we have to at least take him in hand and buy some decent clothes for the lad. We can't introduce him as Hermione's friend from her exclusive school when he's dressed like a ragamuffin!"

Emma was shaking her head but at least she had gotten him to agree. If Hermione's letters and holiday conversations were anything to go bye, this could be the boyfriend that she'd be introducing them to in a few years. She refused to stand back and watch her husband grow apart from the daughter he adored because of his stupidity. A few words here and a nudge there should keep him on the right path. If necessary, she would unleash her secret weapon. A few tears from Hermione and Dan would be as malleable as putty.

It was going to be a hard lesson for him to learn, wanting the best for their daughter meant letting Hermione make her own decisions. As she got older they were sure not to agree with some of them. Emma quickly penned a positive reply to Hermione, she really was counting the days until her daughter was home again.

-oOoOo-

Albus didn't question Poppy's reasoning for detaining Harry another day in the infirmary, he was too pleased to receive more time for his attempt at solving the puzzle he'd backed himself into. The only option he could see at the moment was to answer the questions honestly, to refuse outright or be caught lying would be seriously detrimental to his relationship with the boy. That was something Albus couldn't allow, despite his aversion to spilling his secrets.

There was also Sibyll's departure to consider. He wasn't worried that the prophecy could leak from that source, a seer never remembers when they give an actual prophecy and even truth serum couldn't get what wasn't there. Albus had kept her on in the castle in the hope that one day she might make another, thirteen years later and it was time to cut his losses.

Minerva couldn't disguise her delight when she broke the news to him, after Sibyll had left the castle of course. Albus had decided not to offer the divination course any longer. They would get someone in part-time to cover those who were already a year or two into the course, but it would no longer be available to third or sixth year students.

This would cause Minerva headaches with the timetable but at least solve one problem, Miss Granger had requested to take every OWL course Hogwarts offered. Without divination, she could take the Muggle Studies course self-study and attend all the other classes.

He asked Minerva to pass on this decision, he didn't want the girl thinking there was a hidden agenda here. The last thing he needed was to be on Miss Granger's shit list for something he had no control over.

-oOoOo-

Hermione was currently sitting in the infirmary, keeping Harry company. All the petrified students and the cat had made full recoveries, leaving just the two of them there. It had seemed strange sitting in the great hall for dinner without Harry, so she had headed here directly after finishing her meal. They were avoiding talking about anything Harry had revealed while she was petrified, neither wanted to say anything about the possibility of them spending the summer together in case they jinxed it.

They were concentrating on what they would ask the headmaster when they heard Hedwig pecking at the window. The clever bird must have known how anxious they were to read the reply, Harry reckoned she was smart enough to know what was in the note. Hedwig didn't want to return to Privet Drive any more than he did.

Hermione thanked the precious bird profusely before hastily reading the note, she knew her dad could be a bit strange but hoped her mother would have talked him around.

Harry couldn't believe how nervous he was as Hermione opened the note. A squeal of joy was rapidly followed by her pouncing on him, her enthusiasm had both of them bouncing on the bed until Madam Pomfrey appeared. Hermione had both arms around Harry and was practically lying on top of him, normally she would have been mortified to be caught in this position but was way too happy to care.

"Madam Pomfrey, my parents just wrote back. Harry's spending the summer with me. Oh Harry, this is great! We'll have so much fun."

"Personally, I'll be glad to see the back of you two. I understand you're competitive Miss Granger but spending more time in my care than Mr Potter is taking that competitiveness to a whole new level." The smile on Poppy's face ensured the pair she was joking.

Harry answered her back in the same vein, "Madam Pomfrey, I mean this in the best possible way but I hope we don't see you at all next year."

Hermione couldn't help but laugh at that, Poppy joined in before replying, "Mr Potter, you manage that and I'll make sure the headmaster gives you a special award for services to the school."

This turned Harry's thoughts to another such award and his first magical friend, "Has the headmaster got Hagrid out of prison yet?"

Poppy's mood sobered immediately, "Unfortunately not yet Mr Potter, the ministry appear to be dragging their heels on this issue."

The power pulsed off Harry in waves, shaking everything that wasn't bolted down. "Fudge was quick enough to arrest him, actually came to Hogwarts personally. Now he's been made to look a fool, he's childishly keeping Hagrid locked up."

Hermione was holding Harry's hand while running the fingers of her other one through his hair. "Harry you need to calm down, we all agree with you but wrecking the infirmary won't help Hagrid."

Harry began to respond to her calming touch and words, "Sorry Hermione, but I was there when Fudge took him away. Hagrid was terrified but still went with him, I don't even want to think about what could make Hagrid that frightened. We all know Hagrid has rather dangerous ideas about what makes a good pet, we also know he could have tied Fudge in a knot before the minister could have reached for his wand. Instead, he went with him, is that the actions of someone who's setting a monster on school children? Malfoy caused it and even gets Dumbledore sacked yet Hagrid is the one who ends up in prison, that's just so wrong!"

Hermione could see her actions were having an effect so continued running her fingers through his hair, it wasn't exactly a hardship. "I know Harry but what can we do? You at least spoiled his plans and freed Dobby. Malfoy didn't get off scot free."

"We really need to get something on him. I can't stand the thought of that man nearly killing us all and yet is untouchable because of who he is."

At that, there was a rather loud pop as Dobby appeared by the side of Harry's bed for the second time that term. At least Harry wasn't having to re-grow all the bones in his arm this time. "Harry Potter sir, old master is too clever to be caught. He has a secret chamber under the study floor that he keeps all his evil things in. Old master boasts that the minister has stood above it and never even knew about it. He will try and keep your friend in bad place because he is your friend."

Harry couldn't help but smile at the little guy who'd caused him so much grief this year, "Thank you Dobby, we know the exact person to give that information to. You're a good friend."

Dobby now had tears running down his little cheeks but the largest smile imaginable on his face. Harry Potter called him friend, all was right in Dobby's world.

It was an expression mirrored by Arthur Weasley when he received that information. Malfoy had tried to murder his daughter, there was no way Arthur was standing for that.

-oOoOo-

Poppy held Harry for yet another day so it was with great relief they strolled into the Gryffindor common room that Sunday morning to be greeted by all present.

Neville was first to ask, "Hey Harry, where's your glasses? Surely they weren't broken so badly that Hermione couldn't fix them?"

"Of course Hermione could fix them, I just don't need them any longer. Hey Ron, we're off to see the wizard, wanna come?"

Hermione was sniggering at the reference that went right over Ron's head, "No mate, I'm just sitting here, basking in the anticipation of seeing Draco Malfoy's face. Dad's even forgiven me for the whole car thing. Why would I want to ruin a good mood like that by listening to Dumbledore? You know Hermione will need to explain it to me later anyway, so why bother. Hey, that's just like history of magic classes!"

Ron's good mood was easily explained, today's Prophet was sitting on the table and featured a picture of Malfoy being arrested on the front cover. Arthur had made sure the details got to the press before there could be any form of cover-up, the complete list of prohibited items found in his possession also found itself printed and it was long and nasty. The fact that the name Weasley was featured throughout the article just made Ron appreciate it more. Even if Lucius managed to buy his way out of prison again, the damage to his public image was massive.

The pair set of toward the wonderful wizard's office, no Toto and definitely no gingham but it still raised a smile between the two of them.

Dean asked Ron the question that had been troubling him, "Doesn't it bother you that those two are going together?"

Ron just shrugged his shoulders, "They've been 'going together' since first year. Eventually, one of them will notice and admit it!"

Dean asked again, "And it doesn't bother you?"

This was met by another shrug as Ron considered his answer. "I'm not really looking to date yet but can I ask you all something? Whenever you're ready to date, would Hermione be your first choice of girl to ask out?"

Both Dean and Seamus quickly confirmed there answer was no while Neville appeared angry, "She's your friend Ron, how can you talk about her this way?"

Ron was apologetic, "Oh don't get me wrong Neville, Hermione is a great friend. As a girlfriend though, we would drive each other nuts! This way I get to keep my friends and have handy sources for advice when I do start dating."

Neville appeared placated, "You'd ask them for advice on that?"

"Well who else am I going to ask? Percy, the twins?" The shudder that ran through all of them at the thought of asking the twins advice on a sensitive matter answered that one. They'd rather ask McGonagall.

"Ok, so we're all agreed that, while Hermione is great, she wouldn't necessarily be our first choice as a girlfriend?" This was met by three nods, though Neville looked a trifle reluctant.

Ron continued, "Right, you've seen the girl you fancy. Who do you think would be your main rival for her affections if he showed any interest?"

No hesitation this time as all three replied, "Harry Potter!"

Ron nodded in agreement, "Now do you see my point? Harry and Hermione together removes our main competition without doing us any damage. That's all good in my book."

Dean's face lit up with the revelation, "So Harry's already snagged, leaving all the other girls in Hogwarts free for us?"

Ron again nodded, "Exactly, as long as their surname isn't Weasley, the rest of the girls are available."

Neville was disappointed, there went his second choice as well. Looks like he would just have to try outside Gryffindor house. At least there were a couple of cute Hufflepuffs.

-oOoOo-

Harry had asked their head of house to accompany them to this meeting, recognising an ally when he saw one.

Minerva was delighted to attend, she'd heard from Poppy what happened the other night and saw the results in this morning's paper. She hoped Albus didn't underestimate these two, getting Malfoy arrested was something even Dumbledore had failed to manage.

When they were all sitting, Albus started the meeting. He had decided to give them most of the story and attempt to direct where they went after that. With Minerva here, his opportunities to embellish the truth were severely limited. He was going for shock and disorientation in the hope that at least some of his secrets would survive.

With that goal in mind, Albus brought out his pensieve and began his presentation.

"Let me start at the beginning and we can move on from there, I would rather you didn't interrupt but waited until I was finished before asking any questions I've left unanswered."

Albus watched as Miss Granger prepared materials to take notes, he had expected nothing less.

"Before you were born Harry, a prophecy was made about a child who could defeat Voldemort. That child is you."

Albus started his pensieve and the ghostly figure of Sibyll performed for the guests, he expected a couple of more sentences from him and he could bid them on their way.

"Your parents went into hiding using some very powerful magic called the fildelius charm, they could never be found unless their chosen secret keeper told you where they were. Unfortunately their secret keeper turned out to be a death eater who betrayed them to Voldemort. Your mother cast a very powerful protection on you and then sacrificed herself so you could live. That protection remains intact because you live with her sister."

That was a bitter pill for Harry to swallow so Albus attempted to justify his actions.

"As you are now aware, not all death eaters were dealt with at that time. Your parents' best friend had betrayed them to Voldemort and we didn't know who to trust. Staying at Privet Drive has kept you safe all these years, though I must profess to being severely disappointed at your relatives behaviour toward you."

Hermione was writing furiously as Dumbledore told his tale, questions were flowing onto the parchment in front of her as they awaited an opportunity to ask them.

Albus thought he had said enough, they hadn't been as impressed with the pensieve as he'd hoped and seemed to take the whole prophecy thing in their stride. The only hint of anger was when he mentioned the Dursleys, he now understood what a wise move it was allowing Harry to spend the summer with the Grangers.

The pair had spoke about this for hours and their biggest question was why did Voldemort come after Harry as a baby? The prophecy explained some of that but not all. They'd agreed that Hermione would ask the questions and Harry would only intervene if he felt she was missing something.

Hermione got straight to the heart of the matter, "Headmaster, how did Voldemort get to hear about the prophecy?"

Minerva was becoming more impressed with these two every time she came in contact with them, that question had immediately put Albus back on his heels.

"Miss Granger, what led you to that question?"

'Well there obviously had to be a reason why Voldemort keeps coming after Harry, the prophecy answers that. There were just two people in that room, a true seer never remembers a prophecy so that only leaves you headmaster."

This was definitely not an avenue Albus wanted this discussion to go down. If he didn't answer though, it would appear as if he told Voldemort the prophecy. "Our security was not what it should have been that night, a death eater was hiding outside the door and heard the first part of the prophecy. Voldemort doesn't know the second half and I think it would be in our interest to keep it that way."

Harry didn't know what to make of the prophecy, he would talk it over with Hermione later rather than have the headmaster say what he wanted it to mean. Not saying anything about the bit of Voldemort in his head and twelve years of the Dursleys were two massive black marks against the headmaster. Harry didn't know how far he could trust him anymore, which was why they had McGonagall here. He thought Hermione's question was a very important one and could sense there was something the headmaster didn't want to tell them, "How do you know a death eater overheard it, unless you also know who it was?"

This was not the way Albus envisaged this going, he tried to bluster. "That's not really relevant to our discussion here…"

Hermione also saw why this could be vital, she interrupted the headmaster. "No? What's more relevant is who it could be. It's obviously someone we know or you wouldn't be attempting to change the subject. Since neither Harry nor I know that many magical people it shouldn't be a large list, someone at Hogwarts even?"

Hermione was thinking out loud, something they did a lot when trying to solve a particularly tricky problem. When Harry thought of death eaters and adults at Hogwarts, one name jumped out at him. It jumped out so violently that he was on his feet and shouted the name. "SNAPE!"

All three could see from Dumbledore's immediate reaction that Harry had hit the bull's-eye, the headmaster attempted to recover but just dug his hole deeper. "That's Professor Snape Harry."

The outpouring in the infirmary was nothing compared to what Harry felt now. "That thing is responsible for the murder of my parents yet you have the nerve to reprimand me for not using his title? Very well HEADMASTER, keep death eater Snape away from me or I won't be responsible for my actions. Hermione, I think we're finished here."

Hermione was gathering up her stuff as Harry headed out the door, she couldn't resist a final question toward her head of house. "Professor McGonagall, did you know about this?"

Minerva was simmering with anger at the moment but managed to be civil to her student, "Miss Granger, I didn't know about the prophecy until now, far less that it had been overheard. I can understand Mr Potter's reaction to this and fully support him, I would ask you to try and temper his reaction to this news. You are both of course excused any potions classes until the end of term. I will be personally explaining that decision to the professor involved, directly after I have a few words with the headmaster."

The emphasis McGonagall put on the term 'few words' didn't bode well for Dumbledore but Hermione was far too concerned about Harry to care. She followed Harry out the door and found him waiting at the bottom of the spiral staircase.

"Did McGonagall know?" Harry asked.

"She didn't even know about the prophecy Harry. It would seem only Dumbledore and that man knew what was going on."

"I don't think I can take much more of this Hermione. I had a bit of Voldemort's soul in my head and am apparently prophesised to kill him yet Dumbledore didn't bother to tell me. Meanwhile, the person at Hogwarts who is the bane of my life just happens to be the one who sold my parents to Voldemort. I feel as if my head is about to burst open! I'm so glad to be spending the summer with you, I wouldn't have lasted two days with the Dursleys, never mind two months."

"Harry, hang in there until we can get out of this place. We then have the entire summer to decide what to do next, we also will have my parents to discuss it with. Please don't do anything hasty until then."

"I'll try Hermione, I promise I'll try."

Hermione couldn't ask for any more than that. She took him by the hand and headed off for a walk around the lake, that might take the edge of his justifiable anger. She thought Harry had been coping well with the information Dumbledore was throwing at them but in trying to protect Snape, he had lost the last bit of trust either had in the old wizard. Something would have to change in order for them to return to Hogwarts next year. The first time Harry and Snape met would result in fireworks.

Back in his office, Albus was wondering how that went downhill so fast, also how Harry had guessed so quickly and accurately. "Well, that could have gone better!"

"Albus, I am so angry with you right now, I suggest saving your attempts at humour for a more appropriate time. I hardly think losing two exceptional students is an occasion for frivolity!"

"I'm sorry Minerva but I'm not following your reasoning."

"Did you really think Mr Potter's comment was directed at merely leaving your office? Where Mr Potter goes, Miss Granger will surely follow. In fact I wouldn't be surprised that we lose quite a few students, once it becomes known that you are protecting Severus. There's no way Mr Potter will keep that to himself, and I for one don't blame him."

Albus was now paying full attention, Mr Potter needs to stay at Hogwarts to be under my protection."

"If you don't mind me saying so Albus, you're doing a piss-poor job of the protection part. Fawkes has done more to aid him than the entire staff of Hogwarts combined. How could you expect him to stay here with Severus still on the staff?"

Dumbledore didn't like his decisions being questioned, "Severus atones for his mistake every single day."

"No Albus, Sirius Black pays for his crime every single day. Severus spends his days tormenting children who are not in Slytherin. I intend to warn him that, should he approach Mr Potter, I will personally transform him into a flubberworm before letting some first years dissect him. I never thought I would ever utter these words but perhaps Sibyll has the right idea. Get the hell out of Hogwarts."

It was a thoughtful Albus who watched his deputy, and former staunchest supporter, storm out his office, presumably in search of Severus. If Minerva McGonagall was considering leaving Hogwarts, then perhaps it was time to reconsider some of his decisions. He must have Harry here next year, and a competent defence teacher. Perhaps Severus would have to be sacrificed in aid of the greater good, it would also remove a major obstacle in appointing the defence professor he wanted.

He would need to have another conversation with Harry before he got on the express. At the moment though he had no idea what he was going to say to convince the lad to stay. Albus also had no idea that the silver instruments behind him that monitored Harry had overloaded when the boy lost his temper. They were now nothing more than trinkets for the headmaster to play with.

-oOoOo-

From the window in the Gryffindor common room, Ginny spotted the couple walking slowly around the lake. "Ron, their meeting must be over, they're both walking around the lake."

Ron was playing exploding snap with his other three dorm mates when he threw his cards into the centre. "Bloody hell, it must have gone really badly for Hermione to take him out there. Need to go, see you later guys."

Ron bolted out the portrait hole, his sister hot on his heels.

-oOoOo-

Kreacher felt the locket calling to him, emphasising his greatest failing. His beloved master Regulus had commanded Kreacher to destroy this thing and he had failed in that task. Now the thing called to Kreacher, mocked Kreacher, but he was faithful to his master. Kreacher would find a way to destroy this thing before he took his rightful place on the wall. Yes, Kreacher would follow his master's last order because he was a loyal Black elf.

-oOoOo-

Tom Riddle thought he was a vicious, heartless bastard but he had nothing on Mother Nature. The greatest wizard in the world was reduced to possessing a wood pigeon and following road signs to get home. His only available weapon now was to shit on people's shoulders. That weapon was totally useless, though he did use it when he had a very sudden and unexpected meeting with a hawk. His unwilling host was dead and his spirit ejected before he even had time to react. Tom would love to try for a larger host next time but didn't have the energy required for the possession. At this rate it was going to be weeks before he got home.

A/N Thanks for reading