Author's note: I know Hermione's irritating in this story. I just think she's always represented as the total turncoat or goody-goody perfect friend too often. She's an only child, spoiled, competitive, controlling, and extremely smart. I just figure that she wouldn't take to the new Harry, who didn't do as she says all the time. She's not a bad person, she just likes things to go her way and tries to arrange it that way. I'm also trying to make Ron a little less harsh and judgmental.

If I have spelling errors my crappy work computer doesn't about, please let me know and I'll correct them. I hate reading fiction with errors in them. Yes, I write this fanfiction at work. So sue me.

Disclaimer: I am woefully poor, and thus I do not own or have anything to do with the Harry Potter franchise.

Chapter 16

Moody was trying to kill him.

Harry had learned seven new spells out of the book, more than anticipated, but it wasn't good enough.

He'd spent his morning running around the lake and doing multiple exhausting exercises to 'improve his endurance'.

Then had several hours of practicing his spell work on targets and dummies that Moody set up. It might have been alright if he'd been given a bit of a break, even to catch his breath. Or eat. Eating would have been nice. He had managed to cut out for a quick breakfast, but he'd barely shown his face into the great hall for lunch when Moody managed to catch him and drag him back. He could have fought it, probably should have. But Snape must have witnessed Moody forcing him out, so he didn't think he'd get a detention. And, really, he just wanted to get Moody's punishment over with without pissing him off too much more than he already had. Harry was just happy he'd had the foresight to bring a bottle of water with him.

And now with his magic and energy levels severely depleted, Moody decided it was time for a duel. Checking out his time piece, Harry realized that dinner was long past. His wand taken away, Harry was busy jumping out of the way of hexes, trying to bring up his wandless shields. Never getting close enough to the man to take his wand, which had an anti-summoning charm on it.

"You're not trying hard enough, boy." Moody snarled. "One day off and you waste it making yourself look pretty."

Harry managed to get a shield up to deflect the curse thrown at him.

"People depend on you boy! And what are you doing? Playing games!"

He deflected another, barely.

"You've got to learn responsibility!"

Harry dodged a slicing hex.

"Getting yourself into danger!"

He dodged another.

"Getting your friends into danger!"

Harry managed to bring up a shield that buckled slightly under the blasting hex, but held.

"Getting Black killed!"

Harry contemplated the door and wondered if he could get through it unscathed.

"Your parents died for you!"

Harry tried to ignore the words. They were meant to hurt. To weaken him. Moody had done it before. Regularly. And then he dodged another curse and sent a weak stunner in return.

"And what do you do? You waste their sacrifice!"

This time was a pain hex. Harry couldn't dodge. He was too exhausted. Moody wanted him to hurt. He wanted to punish him for his leave of absence.

Why did I come here and let him do this to me? Harry wondered. He'd known, more or less, or this would end. Why hadn't he left sooner? Why had he given up his wand?

If I wake up, he promised himself, I'm done.

If he woke up.

There had been no Potter at lunch today, though Severus had heard something about Moody dragging Potter out of the hall. He'd seen Potter running around the lake with Moody observing this morning, but there hadn't been gryffindor's star seeker at their practice today. And when he swung by to deliver medical supplies, he noted that there wasn't a dark haired boy in the medical ward.

And so, curious and just a tad concerned as to what had become of Potter, Severus made his way to the classroom in which he knew Moody and the boy practiced.

Moody and Potter were battling. Moody was obviously angry, shouting out comments about Potter's character and lack of drive while sending powerful curse after powerful curse at the boy. Severus narrowed his eyes as he took in the scene. Moody was in peak form, his face flushed a bit from exertion but it was obvious he was ready for a fight. Potter, in contrast, was pale, shaky, obviously exhausted. His shields were weak. His dodges more and more looked like he tripped over himself. But there was something else. When Potter sent a weak stunner towards the ex-auror, Severus realized what it was. Potter had no wand.

When had Potter begun practicing wandless magic? And why on earth was he duelling an auror without his wand? Severus himself could perform small feats of wandless magic that were very draining, which is why he rarely bothered. Moody sent a pain hex at the boy as Potter tripped dodging something else. It was a precursor to the crucio and long lasting. Severus waited for the man to let up on the obviously defeated boy for a full minute before stepping forward.

"I do believe he's unconscious, Moody."

Moody looked up, derision on his face. Though for what, Severus could only guess. The man let the spell go on for another second though, before cancelling.

"He's awake. Little bugger's just trying to gain some sympathy."


Severus checked the boy over. "His magic levels are severely depleted as are his energy levels." He was also bleeding from several lacerations. Moody was right though. The boy was awake. Barely. "Potter." Eyes flickered to him but the boy didn't attempt to move. Checking his own pockets, Severus took out the pain potion and pepper up that he'd taken to carrying for emergencies when Voldemort returned. "Has he eaten?"

"How should I know a thing like that?" Moody grumped, but Severus caught the prevarication.

"I assume he's been with you all day." Severus turned to the boy. "Potter. Have you eaten today? The potion I have on hand to give you will react very badly with an empty stomach."

Potter licked his lips and tried twice before he managed to make a whispered "brfst."

"Very well then." Severus cast the mobilicorpus. "Come Moody. We will have to take him to Pomfrey."

"He's not bad off." Moody snorted. "Just give him a pepper up. Potter's just trying to get out of training."

"He will need several potions I do not have on hand in order to remedy his magic and energy levels." He snapped. "You will come because Potter cannot answer questions and Pomfrey will need to know what he's done today."

They made their way quickly, using back passages so as to not run into any students. Draco passed by them, and sneered when he took in Potter floating in front of them.

"What's he done now, sir? Fight another Basilisk?"

"Not now, Mr. Malfoy." Severus said and was relieved when his godson just nodded, watching as they passed.

Poppy was not happy to see them. She tutted about the boy, casting spell after spell.

"What have you had him do today?" she demanded. "I want times and I want specifics."

Moody didn't want to say. He tried to be general. But the wrath of Poppy is great and Severus took pleasure in seeing the man break.

That pleasure was turned to a stunned silence as Moody recounted the day. Six am start. Moody had the boy do callisthenics, running, weight lifting and swimming all morning, then straight into practicing spells that made Severus' eyebrows raise. Some of those were second and third year auror curriculum. And then, when Potter was physically and magically exhausted, Moody admitted, grudgingly, to taking away the boy's wand to work on his wandless spellcasting during a 'mock battle'.

His wandless abilities had improved so much as that? Severus marvelled that the boy could do more than a simple wingardium leviosa with the way his energy levels were fairing. It took several energy and magic replenishing draughts before colour returned to Potter's face. Upon the removal of the boy's shirt, Severus was faced with a small body littered with recent scars and a few very old ones.

"You're scarring." Poppy frowned. "You know better than that."

Severus looked at her incredulously. That's all she had to say?

"I don't always have enough time to do it properly." Potter shrugged. "And the new skin doesn't seem to heal as quickly."

"That's because you're not eating enough and your magic levels are low." She handed Potter a nutrient brew. "Did I not give you specific instructions regarding meals?"

Potter glanced over at Moody briefly before ducking his head. "Yes, Ma'am. I've been going-"

"But clearly not eating nearly as much as you need to." Poppy finished. "I expect to see you at the hall for every meal. No skipping. And a serious effort to double your portion sizes or, regardless of what the headmaster says, I'll have you here on strict bed rest. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Good." She nodded. "Will you be able to sleep on your own, or do you need a potion?"

"I can sleep." Potter's assurances were helped by the fact that he was grey with exhaustion and barely able to move about. "I need… I need to speak with the headmaster."

"Later." Poppy tucked him in carefully. "I promise we'll both be having words with him."

Poppy gestured Moody to follow her into her office. Severus, not one to miss out on an obvious talk-down slipped in to watch.

She was furious. She threatened the man with all sorts of unspeakables, from neutering to bringing him before the schoolboard and medical councils for injuring a student. That the boy was being trained didn't come into it, as far as she was concerned. There were ways to train people without requiring serious medical attention regularly. And then the fool man brought up Albus.

Severus had to force himself to keep from laughing when the man was summoned and himself received an earful of the angry nurse. Nothing either man could say would calm her.

And when Albus mentioned that injuries during training were bound to occur, she brought out Potter's file, which had grown since he'd seen it last.

"Harry's injuries have decreased, though, have they not?" Albus asked.

"Decreased?" Poppy flung open the curtain to her window in the office, allowing her to keep an eye on the ward while working in there. Potter's bed was close enough that you could still make out the scars on his upper chest and arms peeking out of the blanket. "You look at those and tell me that they've decreased. He's mending his own wounds, broken bones and other injuries, just like you ordered him to. He's malnourished. And do you know why?"


"Because he does not have enough time to eat. Because he's afraid to eat, as it might have been poisoned."

"Potter mentioned that the elves are under orders to poison his food after I observed him on several occasions checking his food" Severus added, knowing that the elves would only take such an order from the headmaster himself.

"It started as a lesson…" Albus shrugged, "and it was only after we received a poisoned missive in the mail."

"It's disgusting."

"The boy is learning constant vigilance." Moody defended.

"I don't see you checking your food to see if it was poisoned." Poppy snapped.

"My methods are working. By the end of the school year I doubt he'll need a wand."

"And the point of utterly exhausting him before you force him to duel wandlessly?" Poppy demanded.

"To simulate a battle environment, of course."

"Of course." Severus agreed, dryly. He'd seen the look of pleasure on the man's face as he had Potter under the pain curse. He was punishing Potter, though for what he didn't know.

"It is regrettable that Harry has been injured." Albus finally said. "But he has so far excelled under this regime. His marks, his focus, his duelling abilities and spell work have all improved dramatically. But you are right, Poppy, in that we may have been pushing him too hard if he is now suffering magical exhaustion. He is taking lesson from Alastor four times a week and Severus twice."

"He'll have more time if he doesn't play quidditch." Moody answered, a vindictive gleam in his eye.

"True, but I do not think it wise to force him from quidditch."

"Why not?"

"Harry made it very clear to me at the beginning of the year that he would do all that was required of him, provided that I do not take quidditch from him. I do not know how it would fair if I were to go back on my word. When does Harry begin and end with you on weekends, Alastor?"

"We usually go from seven to six in the evening." Moody admitted after some length. "Though the last two weeks it has been from six to eight."

"And meals?" Poppy pressed. "Do you stop for meals? I've seen him try to get away from you. Has he ever not had to tie you down in order to escape you and eat like he's been ordered to?"

His silence was damning.

"And when does his tutoring begin and end during the weekdays?"

"Five to nine or ten."

"And you Severus?"

"Potter's lessons are from seven to eight or nine." He didn't mention that he'd reduced them.

"This is ridiculous, not wonder he barely takes any time to eat and only that after I threatened him with a detention for every missed meal." Poppy sniffed. Severus appreciated her taking the blame for that one. "He is either in class or being tutored during meal times. He's got a heavier course load than even Ms. Granger and then the forced tutoring on top of that. It's a wonder the boy sleeps."

"Poppy-" Albus started.

"No! I've had enough!" She wasn't looking at them anymore, she was watching Potter. "I'm finished with watching from the sidelines and patching him up. I've broken many of my oaths for you, Albus. I ignored the fact that he was obviously neglected and, perhaps even, abused since he came to me in his first year because you told me that he had to stay there. But you promised! Promised that you'd take care of it, so that it was safe and healthy for him to be there. So I listened. And then I ignored it every year, even though deep down I knew that you'd done nothing."

"Poppy I-"

"And now, I've argued with you. Fought with you for months about the way that man is torturing this boy and you've done nothing. Again. I've had enough. No more. He's done."

"Done?" Albus repeated, stilling.

"I'm not an idiot. I trained at St. Mungoes and then stayed on with their emergency team for fifteen years before coming to Hogwarts. I know what auror trainees look like when they come in. And they come in even for the small things, because the program makes it mandatory." She sent an accusing, loath-filled glare at Moody. "Mr. Potter's injuries are much worse and frequent than any auror or auror trainee I've seen."

"Poppy, I'm aware that Alastor's methods may seem harsh but-"

"Harsh?" She laughed. "Albus. I believe that he is hurting that boy for no good purpose. I believe that he is pushing that boy beyond his limits and that when Harry fails he is punished for it. Moody does not need to throw blood boiling curses or slashing hexes. I know there are target spells that are just as powerful and just as effective to get through shields. Without injuring the trainee."

"He sends them back at me as well!" Moody threw in. "There hasn't been a single spell I cast at him that he doesn't cast back."

"Then he must be absolutely incompetent and your lessons are useless." She snarled. "Because you come to me, for anything more than a parchment cut, and I've barely seen you once a week!"

"Now see here!" Moody growled. "I will not have my methods questioned. They've had results. You've seen the results."

"Yes," she did a remarkable imitation of a sneer. "I have."

"We can't stop his lessons." Albus interrupted the veritable cat fight that was about to happen, "Harry needs it if he's to survive what's to come."

"Albus. If Harry sets one foot alone in a room with that man again. I'll go to the board. I've already left copies of Mr. Potter's records with confidential sources. One of whom obliviated me of the incident by my request."

Severus gaped at the woman. Sure, she had disclosed that she didn't trust the headmaster with Potter's welfare. But this was openly stating that she feared he might attempt to coerce her magically.

"I'm sorry that you felt you had to do that, Poppy."

"I am as well, Albus." She stood tall against his disappointed gaze. "I've let you do as you will with him for years. He's suffered greatly and I've stayed quiet. You've done heinous things to him and I've stitched him up and sent him to bed. He may need to be trained. But you cannot condone the violence you've done to him. I've had enough. Harry Potter is still a child and a student at this school. And you will treat him as such. No other teacher could be aware of what you've been putting him through. I doubt they'd condone it either."

She was right. The staff had no idea of how Potter was being trained. All they knew was that his marks had improved and they sought to add to that by giving him additional assignments. He looked tired, but so did nearly all of the students throughout the day. Except one.

"Filius Flitwick is a master duelist." He surprised himself by saying and he'd also expressed some knowledge that Moody was training him as well as concern that it was a little much for the boy. "Perhaps he would take over a lesson or two?"

"Excellent suggestion, Severus." Albus smiled. "I will speak with him on the matter. Would that suffice, Poppy?"

"No, it wouldn't. Not unless you mean that Harry is only going to be taught by Filius."

She wasn't budging.

"I see," Albus nodded slowly. "Very well. Perhaps, would you agree to allowing Mr. Potter to continue lessons with Alastor if they are supervised? "


"And Alastor will agree to adhere to the rules that he would when instructing a first year auror trainee. We will acquire a set of training wands. Will that suffice?"

"Mmph. Barely, you should have had those restrictions from the beginning. And his lessons? Six evenings filled out of seven is ridiculous, especially for a student who is taking his NEWTs level classes."

"Now Poppy..." Albus took one look at her face and faltered a bit. "Perhaps we can reduce his lessons with Severus to once a week."

"I don't care about his lessons with Severus," she snapped back at him. "The boy doesn't get injured in those ones. I want the weekends free."

"No," both Albus and Moody replied in unison.

"The training is important, Poppy." Albus continued, tone firm. "It will keep Harry alive in the time to come. But I agree we may have been pushing the boy too hard. Perhaps his Thursday session can be reduced to an hour and theory only." Moody grunted an agreement.

"Not good enough. Thursday will have a one hour of theory and one lesson on Sunday. Filius can take Sunday. Harry should be attending quidditch practice at three, like you agreed."

Albus hesitated, but one look at the bed beyond the window decided him. "Two three-hour lessons on Sunday, Filius can take one of them, a one hour theory lesson on Thursdays and two two-hour lessons on Saturdays, one of which is physical training."

"And the poisoning of his food?"

"Will stop."

"And he'll be told he doesn't need to check his food every day."

"It is a good practice for him to begin." Albus said thoughtfully.

"Do you?"

"No." Albus admitted and sighed. "Very well. He'll be told."

"If he's poisoned again I will not hesitate to go to the board." She said firmly. "And if he's left alone with that man even for a minute…"

"I understand, Poppy."

"I don't think you do." She didn't look at him. "If you did, you would never have forced me to threaten you to do what's right."

Draco sneaked into the infirmary. He'd worried about Harry all day. And then seeing him floating in front of his godfather like that. He was bruised, bloody and pale. It had taken everything in him not to sweep Harry up in his arms and check him over. And then it had taken everything in him not to kill Moody. So he'd sneered instead. Taking up every bit of and hate he could for the disgusting piece of human rot in front of him, he sneered and asked about Harry as though he loathed him.

But he was in truth terrified. Harry in the hall was missing that overall presence. The power that made Draco tingle when ever he was near him. Only the fact that his godfather had looked angry, not worried, had calmed him.

And now, with everyone asleep he knew that the infirmary would be empty and that he would be able to get in without anyone seeing .

Harry was on his bed, the bed that Draco had seen him in over the past few years when Potter was injured or sick since the first year.

"Draco." Harry smiled. "I knew you'd come."

"Yeah?" Draco pecked him on the lips, running his hands down the other boy to check and see if he was injured. "What happened?"

"Magical exhaustion." Harry admitted. "Moody kept me going since early this morning."

"I saw you in the hall." Draco took his hand and received a reassuring squeeze in return.

"I know."

"Will you be let out tomorrow?"

"I think so." Potter looked a bit confused. "She was yelling at Dumbledoor and Moody."

"Good. Maybe she talked some sense into them." He started running his fingers of his free hand through Harry's limp locks. Even his hair had lost it's energy.

"Mm." Harry nudged his head forwards a bit so Draco could reach more of his scalp. "I'm not going to do lessons anymore with Moody. You're right. It's stupid. I've learned enough from him that I think I can work on my own if I can't get anyone else to teach me."

"Really?" Draco kissed him lightly on the mouth. "That's good. Really good, Harry."

"I'm not going to let them hurt me anymore, just because they can." Harry fingered the sleeve of the silver robes Draco was wearing. They were soft with a high collar, the lining was a deep green to match the lighter green shirt underneath. "Did my clothes come?"

"Yes." Draco awarded him with another kiss. "Thank-you. They're wonderful."

"I just told him to make something you'd like. I wouldn't have been able to pick it out."

"Who cares? They're from you. Will you come tomorrow?"

"Yes. After supper. I don't have lessons anymore on Mondays." Or the rest of the week, if he really wasn't going to take lessons from Moody anymore.

"You'll be going to supper?"

"Of course."

Pleased, Draco carefully laid down on the bed. Harry scooted over a bit and then cuddled right in when Draco was settled.

"Will you stay with me for a little while?" Harry mumbled, already falling asleep.

"Of course." Draco gently ran his fingers through the shorter, but still messy hair. "I'll stay forever."