Well, last chapter seemed to have thrown a bit of you off my trail for a second...and I feel bad because none of your questions will be answered for a while! Harry has always seemed a bit lazy to me, and I feel that in this he'd be no different-especially since it's so stressful. Eventually, things will explode out, but it'll take time and a suitably dramatic catalyst...I'll make the chapters longer so it won't end up being so far away. (If it makes you feel better, I've got it mostly written out...)
I also struggled to find a good way to reveal what happened...since the whole story is told from Harry's POV that limits a lot, and I think it would be rather jarring to change things after a hundred and some odd pages. I also didn't want to have an awkward "HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT YOU WERE CONCEIVED IN FRIGHTENING DETAIL! SHALL I SHOW YOU THE LINGERIE YOUR MOTHER WORE? IT MAY BE A CLUE TO DEFEATING VOLDEMORT!"conversation...I've been reading random Severitus fics...there's a lot of people telling Harry about his parents' sexual habits...it's real weird.
Nonetheless, I like this chapter, and I hope you guys will too!
Chapter Seventeen: Practical Application of Logic
Snape grabbed Harry's arm and jerked him forward, nearly knocking him off balance…but Snape did not let go of Harry's arm, and his other hand went to hold Harry's shoulder, so that even though Harry felt faint he was able to walk normally, or so it seemed…Harry couldn't really tell if he was actually moving his feet correctly.
As soon as they'd cleared the dining hall, Snape adjusted his hands so that he was more carrying Harry, than leading him.
"With your luck, you'd think you'd been cursed at birth," Snape growled, as he began dragging Harry down to the dungeons.
"Wasn't I?" Harry countered. It would have been more effective if he'd been able to muster up a suitably dirty look to throw at Snape just to make sure that the man knew exactly what Harry meant, but for now words would have to do.
Snape had nothing to say to that, and they continued in almost silence the rest of the way to Snape's office. Only the sound of Harry's feet dragging when he slipped and clopping on the floor as he tried to walk got in the way of total silence.
"The chair, now, Potter," Snape growled, and with a light shove, Harry was able to make it far enough so that he could collapse in the hard and extremely cold chair. Harry turned and pressed his face against the back of the chair, he closed his eyes and again the scene from potions class played out in his mind.
"Am I in time-out?" Harry demanded, but his voice still sounded god-awful so it probably didn't come across as derisive as Harry meant for it to, "Because, honestly, I don't think I'll be able to do much else for punishment."
"You're not here for a detention, Potter," Snape snapped, and Harry wondered with an uneasy shudder exactly what he was here for. So much this being a normal detention, it seemed.
"Then why am I here?" Harry demanded, but he didn't bother to open his eyes.
"You know exactly what's happened, you told me so yourself."
Harry forcefully tried to focus on the things that happened today besides potions class, but he hadn't really interacted with Snape much at all today.
Probably be best to start with what he knew for sure:
"I set Malfoy's robes on fire," Harry listed, "I went to the library, I went to dinner."
"What did you say to me at dinner," Snape demanded.
Harry did open his eyes for that one, there was no way! Absolutely no way!
"Malfoy's robes are still on fire?"
They should have burned away completely by now, nothing that small could keep burning for hours. Harry should know, he'd set plenty of things on fire.
"Not actively," Snape replied, sounding as if he was speaking to a small child that was possibly infected with drool, "you're familiar with embers?"
"Not really," Harry mumbled, and he closed his eyes and went back to pressing his face into the chair, "I'm mostly familiar with flames."
"Though they are not in flames, Mr. Malfoy's robes are, as we speak, slowly burning into nothingness," Snape explained, sounding incredibly peeved—so peeved that Harry cracked open one eye and saw Snape staring at Harry as though he expected this explanation to make Harry also burn away into nothingness.
Good thing pyromancy wasn't genetic.
Harry cleared his throat and lifted his head, trying to look and sound just as intent and serious as Snape was currently, "Malfoy has changed clothes?"
Snape's face went from looking incredibly irritated and instead went a bit slack as he stared at Harry…incredulously? Yes, that was definitely Snape's incredulous face. So much for Harry not becoming an expert in Snape's facial expressions...
"Hasn't he?" Harry asked, now feeling more confident that this was a reasonable question as Snape was unable to answer.
"What a practical application of logic, Potter," Snape declared blandly.
Harry forced a smile, before closing his eyes and falling back against the chair.
Snape let out a frustrated noise and then his fingers clamped, hard, onto Harry's chin and jerked his head up so that he was staring into Snape's dark eyes. Harry couldn't actually tell, and maybe it was the lighting, where Snape's irises became pupils. It was kind of creepy, and goosebumps crawled across Harry's skin.
Actually, maybe Snape's eyes weren't the creepy thing.
Something wasn't right here.
Harry did not like this at all.
Harry swallowed and closed his eyes, since Snape was holding him too firmly for him to turn his head…or Harry was so weak he couldn't maintain proper function of his muscles.
"Potter, look at me," Snape commanded, leaving no room for discussion, and the hairs on the back of Harry's neck stood up. Though it seemed like a very unwise decision, Harry looked up and soon as his eyes met Snape's a peculiar sensation came over him, it wasn't quite pain, but still…something wasn't right.
…He remembered, strangely and with more detail, setting fire to Malfoy's robes...but at the part where he'd gone out into the hallway the memory cut off and started over again, and slowly pain spread through Harry's head.
He remembered the fire appearing, tiny and orange, on the side of Malfoy's robes before spreading across the back. Then Snape yelled at Harry and the fire went out, leaving Malfoy's robes smoking.
Pain cracked through Harry's skull, seeming to slice it in half—it reminded Harry of the pain he felt when Voldemort was around, but it wasn't the same at all. He remembered the tiny and orange flame on Malfoy's side and then it went out, and again he watched it bloom into life and then go out like a flower in one of those videos they would watch in nursery school during science—where they'd show the flower growing really fast. Harry always liked the days when they'd watch videos in nursery school, because he'd never been allowed to watch TV.
His attention was jerked from that thought process, with a jolt of sharp pain. Then he suddenly became acutely aware of the fire in the fireplace, but it wasn't the same as the little fire he'd placed on Malfoy. Then he found another fire, and another, and even more, before finally—finally, he found the little flame he'd put on Malfoy.
And it was such a huge relief to find it; Harry realized he'd been looking for it all day, and that had been so exhausting.
He gathered up the flame, which extinguished it completely, and wondered if he'd ever felt so relieved in his life.
What had just happened?
Harry removed his glasses and heavily rubbed his hands over his face, his eyes and brain felt gummy and he couldn't figure out what had just happened. Hadn't he been having a conversation with Snape? Had he been drugged? Was he ill?
He seemed to remember being ill, but he wasn't in the hospital wing. In fact he was in his bed, in the dormitory, but he couldn't remember getting there.
Harry opened up the curtains around his bed and found that the dormitory was empty. Frowning, Harry opened up the door and went downstairs to the common room only to find it empty as well.
Curiouser and curiouser.
Harry plopped down in a chair before the fireplace and stared at the fire. Tilting his head, Harry held out his hand and studied the flames between his fingers…the sight of it sent shivers down Harry's spine and he closed his hand into a fist. Frowning, he pressed his eyes closed and his mind strayed back to his…dream? It was strange.
Harry opened his eyes, feeling determination flow through him and he stared into the flames once more and then held his hand up again. The flames danced between his fingers and it was all too easy for Harry to imagine the flames twining around them, his fist closing around warm fire.
It had all seemed so real, so honest.
It seemed right.
He hadn't been burned, Harry reminded himself; the flames in his dream had not harmed him when he'd touched them. They'd extinguished, harmless, as he'd absorbed them back within himself.
Harry's dreams had been taking a turn for the strangely realistic, he remembered. Each seemed more real than the last, and who was to say that these dreams couldn't be reality—or in the case of some of these dreams, that they weren't true memories.
Magic could make anything possible, right?
Harry could already create flames, and though they burned him—who was to say that they had to burn him. In the dream he'd had of Snape and his mother, Snape had expressed surprise that Harry hadn't been harmed.
There was a way.
Harry was willing to find it.
Harry slipped down from the chair and knelt on the floor, crawling closer to the fireplace until the heat burned across his face. Harry held up his closed hand, and stared at the flames feeling scared, but unwilling to give up.
Spreading his fingers, Harry stared beyond them into the flames, he could do this.
Harry took a deep breath, closed his eyes and reached forward—
Then he heard someone yelling the password to the common room and Harry jumped up and turned to look at the portrait hole. People began pouring in.
Dinner was just now finished.
"Don't look too sick to me, Potter," A fifth year Harry didn't know called out to him.
"Faked it to get out of detention," Harry blurted out without thinking, and again with the lies—Harry couldn't understand where these words were coming from, how could lying be so easy? Surely someone could tell that he wasn't telling the truth?
"Atta boy, Potter!" The fifth year exclaimed, and Harry wondered if even Hermione would be so easy to convince.
"Harry!" Ron yelled, "Harry, what are you doing here?"
"Faked the whole thing!" Another person exclaimed, laughing, and Ron furrowed his brow, and then Hermione ducked in through the portrait hole and her eyes immediately found Harry's and she stared at him in disbelief.
No, they could tell he was lying…about this at least.
Harry just wished he could remember what had happened so he could tell them, or at the very least make sense of the weird flashes of flames that he could remember. He always did his best thinking with Hermione there to help…Harry nodded to the boy's staircase and headed back up to his dorm. Ron and Hermione hurried after him, catching up to him seconds later.
"What happened?" Ron demanded as soon as they shut the door behind them. "What did that ruddy git do?"
Harry sat down on the edge of his bed and tugged on his hair. All he could remember was flashes of fire, things that happened in class and dinner.
"I don't know," Harry bit out, angry because he couldn't remember what happened. "All I can remember is fire, and I don't know how I got back up here—how did I get up here before dinner finished? I was in Snape's office!"
Then Harry froze and realized how he'd probably gotten here.
"The floo," Harry gasped out and he turned to look at Ron and Hermione, to see if they could back up his claims—to see if he was making sense, to his own ears he's sounded crazed, but that could also be because of how his thoughts were swirling around his head. "I bet he used the floo to get me back up here!"
Hermione looked troubled as she asked, "Were you unconscious?"
"Maybe," Harry said, his voice stumbling, "That or asleep. I don't think anything too terrible happened, I mean, I was practically falling out at dinner, barely making any sense, and now I'm back to normal…"
Hermione frowned and came over to sit next to Harry, Ron plopped down on his own bed, which was unmade and probably why Hermione had decided to sit on Harry's.
"We should make a list of everything you can remember and then we can try to piece everything from there," Hermione suggested firmly, "we have to do it quickly before you forget even more."
Ron, who normally was opposed to any sort of organization and especially lists, dove for his trunk and quickly produced a quill and parchment. Ron looked a bit pale on his cheeks and his nose was a bit red, "Do you think Snape erased his memory?"
"No, or Harry wouldn't be able to remember anything at all," Hermione declared and then her head dropped for a moment before she looked up at Harry for validation, "Snape doesn't do things halfway or without a reason, right Harry?"
"Right," Harry agreed, surprised Hermione had taken his words to heart so quickly and easily.
"Now what happened after you left the great hall," Hermione asked, and Ron had his quill poised to write down everything Harry said.
"He carried me down to his office," Harry replied, "he knew I wasn't well the whole time he argued with you, but he needed me to go with him because apparently the fire in Malfoy's robes had never gone out."
Hermione looked a bit shocked upon hearing that, "So wait, does that mean Snape thought you were still controlling the fire, even though you hadn't seen Malfoy since class?"
"I don't know," Harry replied shaking his head, "Snape and I argued for a bit and then he made me look into his eyes and that's where everything gets really strange—all I can remember is a bunch of fires, all over the school, and I keep having the urge to touch all the fires, and then I woke up here," Harry patted the bed next to him, "in bed."
"So, you went to Snape's office, argued, looked at Snape and then passed out dreaming about fire?" Ron asked, "That doesn't make sense."
"No, he looked into Snape's eyes," Hermione corrected, "doing that must have done something to Harry, made him dream about fires and then Harry passed out, so Snape brought him up here…somehow."
"The fireplace," Harry corrected, "he had to have used the floo to bring me up here."
Ron shook his head dubiously, "I don't think Hogwarts is connected to the floo system."
"It is," Harry replied, "I saw Pomfrey come through the fireplace when she checked on me when I stayed in Lupin's office."
"Okay, so Hogwarts is connected to the floo," Ron easily amended, "then that all makes sense, but really, what could Snape do to Harry with his eyes that would make him pass out?"
Hermione worried her lip a bit and pulled a section of her hair flat, deep in thought, and then she sighed deeply, finishing with, "I don't know—"
"Hang on, don't speak, just let me savor this moment for a second," Ron exclaimed, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply as if trying to imprint every detail of this moment, even smell, into his brain. "Okay, now you can say you're going to the library."
"Honestly, Ron," Hermione said rolling her eyes, "I don't know why I'm friends with you, sometimes. But I will head off to library now, only an hour and a half before it closes and I don't even know where to begin my search…Actually, I'll need one of you to come with me to help me carry my books."
Harry almost suggested that she just levitate them (was she a witch or not?), but then he realized it was more likely she just wanted company. Smiling, Harry stood up to go with her, and Ron flopped back in his bed, dismissing them with, "Better you than me, mate."
Harry lay in bed that night, listening to Neville snore, tossing and turning. Sometimes, he'd wake up down in the common room, close enough to the fireplace to fall in, and then he'd wake up in bed and he'd swear he could feel the flames of the sconces out in the hallway. Feeling feverish, he'd have to remind himself that he actually was in bed, even when he'd have to roll away from the common room fireplace to keep his blanket from catching on fire.
This is how he ended up on the floor of the dormitory with Ron laughing at him.
That's it for this chapter!