Chapter 7: Drawing to a Close

Step two wasn't nearly as hard as Harry had feared, or so he thought, until the next night.

"Focus, Potter," Snape said, as Harry failed, for the tenth time, to move Snape more than a couple of feet.

"I'm trying," Potter retorted.

"No, you're not. Your problem is that you know your wand is sitting on my desk in the other room and you feel insecure about it."

"I'm not feeing insecure!"

"Then prove it!" Snape yelled.

By the end of the week, Harry was able to successfully do the spell on any number of people or objects, even if his wand was out of sight entirely. He should have felt elated. Instead, he felt utterly drained.

"Professor?" Harry asked tentatively. "About Quidditch practice, our first match is a week away and…"

"I have not yet released you for Quidditch," replied Professor Snape.

"But professor…"

"Out, Potter," Snape snarled. "I'll see you for detention tomorrow at 6pm."

Harry stomped out of the office. Snape was going to hold Harry in detention until the first Quidditch match, at which point, it would be too late for the Gryffindor team to recover. He'd assigned Ginny to play seeker in his absence, and she was really quite good, but her replacement, a 5th year by the name of Simon Cod, ran hot and cold and did especially poorly under pressure.

Snape was silent when Harry arrived the next evening at 6pm. Harry thought about asking about Quidditch one more time, but one look at Snape's face had him shutting his mouth. Snape would release him from detention when he was good and ready—and not a moment sooner.

"Do you have your book with you, Potter?"

Surprised, Harry nodded.

Snape opened the antechamber to reveal the desk that had been there when Harry first started coming to detentions.

In a cool, clipped voice, Snape said, "You will rewrite the account of what happened to you in Little Whinging, but this time, you will incorporate what you've learned to defend yourself." Snape paused, "In other words, Potter, you will thwart the attack."

"Okay," Harry said, not sure he saw the point of this whole exercise. He stepped past Snape into the antechamber.

"Furthermore," Snape added, "you will write four additional scenarios, including not only attacks by Muggles, but by Witches and Wizards, and Death Eaters, in various locations."

The door closed firmly behind him as he sat at the desk. Harry didn't bother to lock it.

Harry had just finished his classes for the day and went up to his room to change out of his school robes and into something more comfortable. The sun shone in through the dormitory window. A light breeze ruffled the trees. It was the perfect day for Quidditch. Sitting on the bed and lacing up his trainers, he swore under his breath, knowing he'd miss yet another night of practice. The match was in three days time, and Gryffindor didn't stand a chance.

Sighing, he pushed off the bed, just as Neville came in.

"Message for you, Harry," he panted, clearly out of breath.

Harry took the rolled up piece of parchment Neville extended to him.

"Who's it from?" Harry asked as he began to unroll it.

"Dunno," Neville replied. "A first year came in with it and I said I'd bring it to you."

"Thanks, Neville," Harry said, but he was already lost in the missive.

Sinking down on his bed, he began to read.

Mr. Potter,

I have reached the limits of both my capabilities and my patience for your insufferable presence. I pray that you do not earn yourself any more disciplinary actions in my class.

In other words, Potter, you are hereby released from your detentions.

I trust that your sleep habits have improved and that I will not catch you napping in my class again. If this is not the case, I advise you to see myself or Madam Pomfrey for an appropriate remedy before you incur any more detentions.

If you require any further assistance, Marcus Thompson has expressed his willingness and availability, as well as one Shawna Smith, whom I hear has a remarkable wealth of knowledge regarding certain recent events. Furthermore, I suggest you keep your book with you in case you have need of it.

Professor S. Snape

P.S. The Gryffindor match against Slytherin has been rescheduled. Slytherin will be playing Hufflepuff this Saturday.

Harry threw down the letter and grinned.