Disclaimer – Nothing but Tosca is mine.

Towards the Light.

Chapter 1 - Clumsy

Harry followed the soft hissing of the small garden snake that was coiled on his wrist as it gave him directions. The noise of the station caused him to grimace and he breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped through the barrier to platform nine and three quarters.

'Harry!' Came a shriek from several yards away and Harry soon found himself with his arms full of a hysterical Hermione. 'Oh Harry, we've been so worried.' The girl cried.

Harry pushed her gently but firmly away from him. 'If you'd been so worried you would have at least written to me. You'll forgive me if I don't believe the depth of your concern.' He said coldly before ignoring the entire Weasley family and stepping aboard the train with just a slight stumble, yanking his trunk and cage on after him.

He found the first empty carriage, stowed his belongings and sat down just in time to hear Ron say. 'Bloody hell, he sounds like Snape.'

Harry gritted his teeth loudly when Hermione followed up with. 'I can't believe he's being such a prat. He knows why we can't write to him. It's the same reason every year.'

'Yeah, and the excuses never change.' Harry muttered as he locked the compartment door and closed his eyes. He didn't want to talk to anyone, or see any one, or speak to anyone.

He felt the snake slither up his arm and around his neck, its feather light tongue dabbing at his cheek.

Harry slowly reached a hand up and ran it along the warm little body till he reached the head. 'I know, Tosca.' He murmured. 'But I can't forgive them yet. They left me there. With Him.'

'You will need them, young one.' The snake hissed.

'I know.' Harry whispered, dropping his hand and leaning his head against the window as the train began to move off from the station. The swaying movement of the train finally lulled him to sleep and he did not wake until the felt the train slowing.

'Bollocks.' He growled, leaping up off the seat and yanking out his trunk. He threw it open, felt around, and yanked the first robe he could find out and pulled it over his head, letting the trunk slam shut with a bang. Tosca hissed at him and he straightened his tie before stroking the little snake as the train continued to slow.

As soon as the train had come to a stop he unlocked the door and joined the throng of students alighting the train. He stumbled again out the steps but a set of arms grabbed him.

'Sorry.' Harry muttered, yanking himself out of the arms and stalking away before they could say anything.

'Harry, please, we're sorry we didn't write but Dumbledore said it was still just too dangerous.' Hermione pleaded taking his arm with strong fingers and tugging on it.

'Yeah, he said any owls could have been traced.' Ron added.

Harry just sighed and kept his head down, allowing them to lead him into a carriage for the ride up to the school.

'We really wanted to come and get you for your birthday.' Hermione insisted still having hold of his arm even though they were sitting down.

'Mum had a party all planned. Boy was she mad at Dumbledore when he said you couldn't come. We weren't even allowed to send your presents. I've got it in my trunk.' Ron added.

Harry still didn't speak, keeping his head down as Hermione continued tugging on his arm all the way out of the carriage, into the great hall and over to the Gryffindor table. Harry could feel the magic hanging in the air and a part of him breathed in the smells of Hogwarts, happy to finally be home again.

Everyone chatted around him, telling each other about their holidays. Harry grunted, snorted and muttered his way through the meal. Hissing softly in response to the small hints Tosca was giving him. Everyone asked about how his holidays were and everyone received the softly grunted 'Fine' in reply.

The sorting was unmercifully slow and the Hat's song unusually cryptic but Harry ignored it all. Finally they sang the school song and Dumbledore released them; and Harry couldn't have been happier. He stood up and followed the crush of students towards the door. Hermione continuing to insist on holding his arm all the way back to the common room, something which by the time they made it up the third staircase made Harry finally lose it.

'Stop it!' He screamed. 'Stop with the apologies and the excuses and the touching. Please just leave me alone!'

He walked on ahead, fingers trailing to cool stone wall ignoring the dumbfounded stares from the rest of his classmates who had all stopped in stunned silence at his outburst. He stopped when those in front of him did and waited off to one side as one of the prefects opened the portrait of the fat lady before ducking through last and heading straight for the boy's dorm. Before he could reach the staircase he tripped over the corner of the rug and sprawled on the stone floor. Tears sprung to his eyes as several people in the room laughed and quicker than he ever thought possible he half crawled, half walked up the staircase to the dormitory and across to where he knew his bed would be; where it had been for the last five years.

'I knew this was a mistake.' He cried, sitting on the edge of the bed.

'Harry?' Came Hermione's tentative voice from the doorway.

'Go away.'

'Please Harry.' Hermione was nothing if not persistent.

'Go. Away!' He screamed before looking away.

Harry waited as he heard her turn and leave before crawling into his bed fully clothed and burying his head in the pillow.

'Tosca, what am I going to do?' he sobbed.

The little silver snake uncurled from his neck and lay gently on the pillow beside him, dabbing at his tears with her tongue. 'Don't cry, Little One. Everything will be alright, I promise it will.' She hissed.

Harry eventually fell asleep and the other boys in their dorm, seeing the snake curled protectively on the pillow beside their friend, left him well alone.


Harry was up well before the others the next morning although it took him what would by normal standards have been an inordinately long time to get ready and the dorm was empty by the time he returned from showering and getting changed.

Eventually he made it down to the common room and stifled a grimace as Hermione's suddenly shrill voice assaulted his ears. At least she didn't insist on grabbing at me again, he thought to himself. Harry ignored her and listening to Tosca's soft hissing in his ear left the common room. His trip to the great hall was slow as he trailed his fingers along the walls of stone, and he practically died of shock when Tosca screamed at him, well, as well as a snake can anyway; in a daydream he almost stepped off a landing and into thin air as the staircase moved from in front of him.

He could hear Ron and Hermione and the others all talking about him as they followed him down to breakfast. He could hear their concern the few times he tripped and stumbled and Hermione's shriek as he had almost stepped off the landing to his death.

He walked into the great hall and to the far side where the Gryffindor table was before sitting down, although not before banging his shin sharply on the bench.

'Harry's going to steal your title, Nev.' Ron joked as the rest of his group sat down around him. Harry kept his head down eyes not moving from his plate.

'What title?' Neville looked incredibly confused.

'World's clumsiest wizard.' Ron laughed through a mouthful of eggs, the others laughing loudly.

Harry bristled in his seat but didn't speak, reaching out to where the toast should be and accidentally knocking his goblet of pumpkin juice in Ron's lap.

'Harry!' Ron yelled, leaping to his feet and garnering the attention of the entire hall. 'Bloody hell, what is wrong with you? Do you have to be so clumsy today? Watch what you're doing. Anyone would think you did that on purpose.'

'I didn't do it on purpose.' Harry ground out.

'Bloody looked like it. I mean you couldn't not have seen it sitting right in front of you.' Ron snapped back as Hermione vanished the mess with a flick of her wand.

Unable to take anymore Harry leapt to his feet. 'Well, that's just the problem isn't it?' He snapped. 'I couldn't see it right in front of me. I can't see anything right in front of me. In fact, I can't bloody see a thing at all!' Harry bellowed before spinning on his heel, stumbling over his chair and towards the door. The hall sat in stunned silence as Harry fumbled his way across the room, his emotions so rampant he was unable to hear the soft directions Tosca was hissing over the pounding of his heart. He felt his way along the wall to the door and disappeared through it.

The bang it made as it closed snapped most people into action. The students began whispering loudly, Ron, Hermione and the other Gryffindors gaped openly at the doorway as Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape practically ran around the head table and down the aisle with a speed that belied at least two of their ages if not the third.

They burst out of the doorway just in time to see the outer doors to the castle close and quickly discerned that Harry had left the castle.

They followed, half the school trying to join them, just in time to see Harry trip again and sprawl at the bottom of the steps before jumping up and blindly stumbling across the grounds. Partway across he tripped yet again and fell to his knees and the three Professors heard him scream in frustration.

They were much closer now as Harry stood once again, but before he could run, Dumbledore fired a stunning spell at him.

What happened next surprised them all. Together with the hundred odd students who had followed them out of the castle doors they watched as the spell streaked across the ground before fading to nothing within inches of the now running figure.

'We can't let him reach the forest. Together.' Dumbledore told his two professors and all three raised their wands. Again, even with the power of the three powerful wizards the spell faded away, and Harry had almost reached the forest. Thankfully, at least for those watching, Harry tripped once again.

'To hell with this.' Snape growled, breaking into a sprint that startled many who had only ever seen him stalk. It seemed to take him no time at all and as Harry was just getting to his feet Snape tackled him to the ground holding him tightly as he screamed and kicked and lashed out. Dumbledore and McGonagall hurried down to the wrestling figures. Harry was still screaming at Snape to let him go as he tried beating against the taller man's chest in a futile effort to make the potions master release him.

Dumbledore pressed his wand against Harry's back as he stared into the potions master's black eyes. 'Stupefy.' He murmured and Harry finally fell limp.

'What was that all about? Can he really not see?' McGonagall wheezed, clutching her chest.

'I'm not exactly sure but I can't see Harry making up such a story.' Dumbledore said gravely as Snape disentangled one arm from around the boy's shoulders and pressing tentatively at the rapidly forming bruise on his jaw.

'Besides, even Potter isn't that clumsy to trip so many times. Longbottom, yes. Potter, no.' He sneered finally laying the figure down and standing up, drawing his wand again and levitating the boy.

'Let's get him inside.' Dumbledore murmured, leading the way through the sea of students and back towards the castle.

'Professor, is it true? Is Harry really blind?' Hermione stammered as they reached the door.

Dumbledore glanced around at the crowd of students which had swelled to most of the school by this time. 'We don't know yet, Miss Granger.' He murmured before raising his voice. 'Classes for this morning are cancelled. I want all of you to return to your dormitories, your Head of House will bring you your schedules at lunchtime. Thank you.'

He waited as the students, realising they weren't going to get anymore information, began heading towards their respective common rooms.

McGonagall looked at the sixth years Gryffindors that were still staring at Harry. 'You too.' She said firmly, the set of her mouth broking no arguments. Ron and Hermione looked as if they wanted to protest but McGonagall's eye took on a steely glint and so with dragging footsteps they turned towards Gryffindor tower.

The three professors continued into the castle and up to the hospital wing, Poppy Pomfrey hurrying over as they entered.

'Who is it? Mr Potter? Of course it is.' She said catching sight of him. 'Can't even stay out of the hospital wing for a day.' She muttered as they set him down on a bed.

'We'll need a Dreamless Sleep before we wake him.' Snape warned and Poppy retrieved one, handing it to the potions master who dumped the vial down the boy's throat just as the headmaster cancelled the stunning spell.

Harry coughed and spluttered and managed to half lift himself off the bed before the potion took hold and he collapsed to the floor. Poppy carefully lifted him and placed him back on the bed, brushing back the hair that had fallen on his face and letting out a small cry of alarm.

It seemed the Finite Incantatem used to counter the stupefy had also countered several other spells, all of them glamours, and, as they looked at the damage done to the Boy-Who-Lived and most particularly to his face, they realised that something had gone very wrong with their plan to keep him safe.

Very wrong indeed.