Harry awoke, moving his neck from side to side with loud cracks. He'd fallen asleep in front of the fire, thinking about the night before; the troll, the feast, and Hermione – always thinking about Hermione and her unexpected actions. He didn't know if she had only kissed him to thank him, or if she really liked him or what. I don't exactly have much experience with women, he thought wryly to himself.
Heading upstairs to the dormitories, he grabbed some clothes. Pulling them out of his trunk, he looked up and saw Neville just getting out of bed. Greeting the boy, he changed quickly, saying to Neville, "I'm just heading down to breakfast, want to come and join me?"
"I think I'll pass Harry. We have Herbology first thing today, and I want to head down to the greenhouses to get some extra work in before class."
"Extra work Neville!" Harry said teasingly. "I never would have thought it!" Dodging a sock that was thrown at his head, he continued. "Want me to get you anything, oh great plant whisperer? Even one as mighty as you needs to sustain himself."
"If it's not too much trouble," Neville said, looking at Harry condescendingly, "I'll take some toast. I'll be in greenhouse 5 when you bring it to me, lowly servant." He laughed on his way out, heading down the stairs.
"Lowly servant, I'll show you…" Harry grumbled, searching in the pockets of the trousers he had worn yesterday for his wand. Coming across the Map the twins had given him, he tucked it in his back pocket, did the same with his wand and then started down the spiral staircase.
He waited for Hermione at the bottom of the stairs, taking out the map and poking it with his wand, muttering various phrases in an attempt to get it to return to the active state he had been given it in. Hermione came down the staircase a little while later to find him being insulted by the piece of parchment. Sneaking up behind him, she tapped him on the shoulder, causing him to jump and point his wand at her.
Harry lowered his wand and put it in his pocket, scowling jokingly at her. "Thanks. Next time, don't sneak up on me!"
She shrugged of his allegations quickly, and gave him a pointed look. Harry took the hint. "Ah, yeah. Breakfast? Neville's already gone down to the greenhouses, apparently he's working on a project for Professor Sprout." He stood, stowing the map in his back pocket, and the two friends headed out of the portrait hole, walking down to breakfast in companionable silence. Harry hadn't decided whether or not to ask her about the kiss the night before, and was so following her lead; remaining silent. He really didn't want to make things difficult between them, and he was afraid that he might if he bought it up. It was probably nothing, he thought to himself as he walked quietly behind her.
Hermione pushed open the door to Greenhouse Five, heading in and holding it open for the toast-laden Harry that followed her. Looking around the leafy environment, she saw Neville sitting at a desk opposite the door wearing gloves and holding a pair of secateurs, pruning a small plant that mewed at him every time he made a small incision. Neville was talking to it quietly, looking engrossed in his work. He looked up when they entered, waving them over. Harry walked around the wooden desk and set the stack of toast down on the side next to the sandy-haired boy.
"Thanks Harry," Neville said, putting down the tool he'd been working with. He started eating happily, chatting to Hermione between bites. "How are you this morning Hermione?" He asked jovially.
"I'm good," Hermione replied, taking a piece of toast before asking Neville about the plant he was working on. Harry began looking around the room, looking at the various plants there. A small flash caught his eye causing him to look up through the glass ceiling. Seeing another greenhouse at the top of the building in front of him, he called Neville over to him.
"What grows up there Neville? It must be important to be in a completely different greenhouse away from all of the others."
"What are you talking about Harry?" Neville asked, looking where Harry indicated. "There aren't any greenhouses up there!"
"Huh? There's a greenhouse right there! Come on, you must see it!" Seeing Neville's blank face, looked at Hermione, "Hermione, tell me I'm not going insane. There's a greenhouse up there, isn't there?"
"Sorry Harry, but I can't see anything either." She looked concerned. "Are you sure you're feeling alright? Maybe we you should go and see Madame Pomfrey."
Harry shook his head, "Nah, I'll be fine..." Looking up at the greenhouse that only he could apparently see, he changed his mind. "Actually, maybe not. Yeah, I'll go and see her after Herbology."
"Are you sure you want to wait?" Hermione questioned, looking at him worriedly. "Wouldn't want you to have a full mental breakdown, would we?"
"Well we don't have much time before lessons start now, and besides, there isn't really anything life-threateningly wrong with me."
"Not life-threatening, no, but it does make me doubt your mental state even more than I already did." Neville said, teasing him.
"Shut up," Harry grumbled. "Let's get to class."
Hermione laughed, joining in with teasing Harry. "Let us know if you see an imaginary horse flying around the Forbidden Forest on the way there, won't you?" Harry just stuck his tongue out on his way past her in response.
Madame Pomfrey, much to the trio's fears, couldn't find anything wrong with Harry when they went to the hospital wing after class. The elderly physician did quickly go on to add that there were certain things that could explain what he had seen after seeing the first year's expressions. Her suggestions did little to decrease the friends' fears though, and they could see that she was as worried as they were. As such, it was a subdued trio that headed off to Defence Against the Dark Arts, with the promise to return to the infirmary later so that Madame Pomfrey could run further tests on Harry.
As it turned out, it might have been a better use of the Gryffindor's time to stay where they were during Defence. Professor Quirrell stuttered his way through the hour, paying little attention to the class he was charged with teaching. Harry, exasperated at the mundane pace - and the content, which the trio had already covered their lessons with Snape - took out a book he'd picked up from the library earlier, and began to read. When Hermione noticed, she gasped, and hit him lightly on the arm. Harry rolled his eyes, picked up his quill and wrote her a note:
We're not learning a thing here. Might as well use our time to do something useful, don't you think?
Hermione scowled at him for a second, before following his lead. Poking Neville in the arm she handed him the letter that Harry had just written her. He smiled, and he too got out his textbook. The three friends passed the rest of the lesson not paying any attention to Quirrell.
However, Hermione was not totally happy with Harry's decision, which she took no time in informing him of after class.
"That was really irresponsible Harry! I know that we've already covered this with Professor Snape, but Professor Quirrell is still our teacher, so we have to follow his teaching structure!"
"Hermione, you know as well as I do that we've learnt nothing in these lessons. As much as it pains me to admit it, our lessons with Snape have been much better than those with Professor Quirrell."
"I know that, but it doesn't change that he is our teacher! A pretty rubbish one at that though." Hermione muttered as an afterthought.
"See! You do think he's rubbish!"
"Okay, he isn't very good. I wonder if we could get Professor Snape to teach us all of the time..."
"No, no, definitely not!" Neville said. "I'm just about okay with him teaching us for Potions, and these extra Defence lessons are pushing it severely. I don't want to be in his presence any more than I have to be, but since our slightly insane friend Harry - "
" - suggested to Dumbledore that we should be getting private tuition, I have no choice. And as much as he creeps me out, he is a good teacher."
"I'm going to let the comment about my sanity slide, and instead focus on how creepy Snape is at the moment. Did you see him walking around in the Great Hall earlier? Limping is not a good look for him." Harry shuddered.
"He was limping?" Neville asked.
"Oh yeah, I forgot, you weren't there. There was something wrong with his leg, and he almost fell over on the way out of the hall. Had to grab the door to stop himself."
"I've been thinking about that, and I can't think of anything that could have caused him to limp. Potions maybe, but I hardly think that he willingly made and drank a potion that caused him to lose the use of his leg." Hermione added.
"He could have been cursed, but you've seen how hard it is to do that in class. It was probably some kind of magical animal, but the only place where he would have found one of those would be the Forbidden Forest…"
"Maybe he ran into the troll, and he doesn't want to tell anybody!" Neville exclaimed. Harry looked doubtful.
"I don't think so. The troll was pretty stupid, and really easy to take down."
Hermione snorted. "You're just being modest Harry. I'll admit that the troll was pretty stupid, but you still did well against it. I was next to useless though…"
"That's stupid Hermione. Your shield was great." Harry looked at her. "I should be the one thanking you." The two friends looked at each other quickly, before looking away, blushing. Neville just rolled his eyes at his friends.
"I'm hungry," he said brusquely. "I think lunch is in order."
"Agreed," said Harry. "I need to eat quickly, I want to head down to the library and see what it was Madame Pomfrey was talking about that would make me see things."
"You're just trying to come up with something so that we don't think that you're going senile, admit it!" Neville snickered.
The rest of the day passed quickly for the three friends. Snape limped around during Potions, glaring into the cauldrons that the Gryffindors were working on. Neville managed to get through the entire lesson with only one correction from Hermione, and at the end of the lesson he scraped an Exceeds Expectations from Snape, a rare occurrence in the class.
Harry had eventually found time to visit the library, after his return trip to the Hospital Wing – which, frustratingly, yielded no further information - finding and taking out several books on personalised hallucinations that Madame Pomfrey had mentioned. Looking through them, however, nothing seemed to match what he had experienced – the vast majority of causes required the ingestion of something, be it a potion or a magical substance, and to the best of his knowledge he hadn't eaten anything that would have caused him to start seeing things – nothing that Neville or Hermione hadn't also eaten anyway. He went to bed that night with his mind buzzing, still puzzling over the apparently imaginary greenhouse.
Harry rolled, before throwing up a quick shield to deflect the incoming spell. The blue light hit the magical protection and dissipated, with Harry firing off his own spell at his attacker. The blue spell hit in the chest, the cloaked man dropping with a slight "oof".
"Well done Potter," Snape said, gritting his teeth and beginning to pull himself to his feet. After struggling for a few moments, he finally managed to stand. Limping over to the desk at the end of the room, he sat down heavily.
"We have now finished all that I am going to teach you on duelling at the moment. Surprisingly, you have managed to gain a more than sufficient level of skill for first years – leave alone Gryffindor students." The three lions looked at each other, annoyed. Snape continued on, ignoring their annoyed looks. "As such, we will be studying magical creatures. However, since you have not bought the correct books for these lessons, obviously due to Professor Quirrell's inept teaching, we cannot begin today. Please order them for next lesson, or we will be held up for even longer. You are free to go. Except you, Potter."
Harry sighed – it seemed that he was making a habit of this. Watching Neville and Hermione file out, he turned to the Potion's Professor. "While I normally object to being asked to act as a courier, I have been asked by Professor Dumbledore to give this to you." Snape handed over a leather bound journal with the letters L. E. embossed on the front.
"What is it?" Harry asked, taking the journal.
"It belonged to your mother." Harry looked up, startled. "It's a list of spells, enchantments and potions that she worked on during her time in Hogwarts, and the following years. She leant it to me shortly before her death to look through, and it's been in my possession ever since. However, there is no denying that it is now rightfully yours, as everything that she owned has been left to you.
"However. I must warn you that many of the spells in this book are not to be attempted, let alone by a first year, despite how adept you seem to think you are. If I do discover that you have attempted to perform them - and I assure you, I will - punishment will be swift."
"I understand, Professor Snape." Harry said seriously.
"Hmmm. Now leave; I have better things to be doing with my evening than talking to first years."
Harry left the classroom, pouring over the journal. He was so engrossed in the book, he failed to notice the Slytherin Students walking towards him.
"What have we here?! Has little Potter got himself a journal!" Draco Malfoy laughed at Harry, standing in front of him with his two cronies either side of him. "I didn't think that you'd be one to keep a diary, but still, who knows with celebrities."
"Shut up Malfoy," Harry said, pushing past the Slytherin and heading down the
"Where do you think you're going?" Malfoy asked Harry's retreating form. Seeing the effect – or lack of an effect – that his words created, he pulled out his wand. "Petrificus Totalus!" He yelled, sending the spell at Harry's back. Harry stopped mid-stride, his momentum causing his body to continue forwards into the floor. His head hit the ground with a resounding "crack", causing Malfoy and his cronies to guffaw loudly.
Harry felt white pain flood his head, emanating from his nose. Struggling mentally against the hex, he found he couldn't move. He heard the sound of Malfoy's shoes on the floor, and then felt himself being flipped over, looking up into the blond Slytherin's face.
"That's better, isn't it, Potter? You know, it's much more polite to look at people when they are talking to you, rather than ignore them or even walk away." He laughed, his face then contorting into a sneer. "Now, let's see what Potty's written in his little diary." He took the book from Harry's hands, prising his grip open. Harry was powerless to stop him, the body bind preventing him from moving. Malfoy was just making a show of opening the book in front of Crabbe and Goyle. However, his mockery was his failing, as he didn't notice the sound of Professor McGonagall walking around the corner of the corridor that they were standing in.
"My word!" she exclaimed loudly, taking in scene in front of her; Harry lying immobilised on the floor, and Malfoy standing over him, book in hand. "What's going on here?" Striding over, she affixed Malfoy with a glare, before kneeling down and waving her wand over Harry's body, murmuring quietly. Harry felt the feeling return to his limbs, and he pulled himself into a sitting position, dabbing his bloody nose with the sleeve of his robe in an attempt to staunch the bleeding.
"Thank you Professor."
"You're most welcome, Mr Potter. Now, what happened?"
Harry quickly explained the events to the Professor, who listened quietly. When he was finished, she turned. "And you, Mr Malfoy? Would you care to explain why Mr Potter ended up hexed and on the floor, with you standing over him?" Malfoy simply stood there, staring defiantly at the witch in front of him. "Very well. I will take this matter up with your Head of House. Potter, you can make it to the hospital wing on your own, can't you? You'll want to get that nose seen to. And you three, follow me." Handing Harry the book that she had taken from Malfoy, she shooed him off down the corridor. Harry quickly mumbled his thanks, before heading off. He could just hear Professor McGonagall beginning to chastise the Slytherin students as he made his way up the corridor.
It was disheartening how easily Madame Pomfrey had accepted his third visit to the infirmary in two days, Harry thought on the way back to the Common Room. She'd managed to fix his nose, and had sent him on his way, mumbling something that sounded suspiciously like "like father, like son". Still, Harry was happy to finally be returning to the Common Room. He was paying much more attention to his surroundings this time though; although it was unlikely he was going to be accosted twice on one journey, he wasn't going to take any chances.
He did eventually make it to the Common Room, and found Neville and Hermione sitting in front of the fire waiting for him. He quickly filled them in on what had happened after they'd left the Defence classroom. Both were enraged to hear about Malfoy's attack, but Hermione was more interested in Harry's mother's journal.
"According to school records, your mother was one of the best in her year in all subjects. She was especially good at charms though. I'd love to have a look through that book, if you don't mind Harry." Harry nodded his approval, before settling down, and beginning to read the journal.