Hi everybody! *waves around shyly*
As you realize, no, this story is not dead.
Thanks to everybody who asked about it during the last couple of weeks, especially Maryanne. Here you go girl, I promised there would be another chapter!
Special credits for the fact that this story continues go out to EVA! Thank you ever so much, girl!!!!!
Without her help and – even more important – suggestions on how to close my gaps in the storyline, I would surely not have continued this story. This chapter goes out to you Eva! So, everybody who is happy that No Longer Safe goes on, please say your thank yous to Eva. And if you're already there, check out her fics. *g*
So, no longer babbling here, on you go with the story. Not that much actually happens in this chapter, but it's a connection to the parts I've already written. Things are starting to move, and there'll be some surprises soon. Until then, hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!
If Harry had thought that everything would soon turn out to become normal again, like it had miraculously done so many times in the past, then he soon learned that this wasn't the case this time. Life could be a bitch sometimes, and once more she had chosen to torture The Boy Who Lived.
Harry was expelled from Hogwarts, he would have to leave the only home he had ever known after the end of this school year.
Slowly, it became a fact Harry couldn't deny anymore. He knew that Professor Dumbledore wouldn't have expelled him if it hadn't been for serious reasons, and Harry had to admit that the stunt he had pulled in the night of the attack had been the most stupid thing he had ever done. Why had he sneaked out of the castle, despite better knowledge? Why hadn't he gone to Dumbledore before and told the headmaster what he had overheard in the dungeons? Dumbledore would surely have told him that there was no need to worry, that it had been a misunderstanding.
And why hadn't he even sent an owl to Sirius and told him about his suspicion against Snape? He had been so stupid, running out alone without telling anybody, especially since the teachers at the castle tried to do anything to protect him from Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
If he had only talked to Ron and Hermione before he had sneaked off, his friends would surely have prevented this from happening. But then again, Harry was glad that he had not done it. Harry was sure that not even them could have prevented him from going to Sirius, and then Ron and Hermione would have come with him. No, it was better this way, Harry couldn't stand the thought that his friends would get expelled because of his stupidity.
What really bothered Harry about that night was that he had endangered Sirius. His godfather had been right, if anybody had seen him sneaking off to Professor Lupin's house, then the danger would have been there that this somebody had drawn the right conclusion. A great way to pay Sirius back for all the dangers he took to be close to Harry in case something happened. The first opportunity and Harry had nearly given his godfather's hiding place away.
Two weeks had passed since the incident and Harry still had no news from Sirius. He had asked Professor Lupin once, but all he had received as an answer had been the shake of his head and a pained expression in his Professor's eyes. Lupin had not heard from Sirius either and he was concerned about this, that much Harry could tell. His DADA teacher didn't treat him any different from before, but Harry knew that Lupin blamed him for again putting Sirius in danger. He just knew it.
And even though Lupin didn't behave openly antagonistic towards Harry, he was the exception. The news that Harry Potter had been expelled from Hogwarts had spread around school like a wildfire. Harry didn't know exactly, but he guessed that one of the Creevey brothers had let something slip in History of Magic, and then the Hufflepuffs had known. And everybody knew about the Hufflepuffs' liking for good gossip. So, after two days the entire school had known about Harry's expulsion and the Slytherins found great delight in it. Strange but true, only Draco Malfoy didn't use every single opportunity to tease Harry about it, but then again the blond Slytherin had distanced himself from his usual taunts against Harry and his friends ever since he had cursed Ron. Malfoy himself was walking on a thin edge close to expulsion, he knew that he couldn't afford another entry in his records right now. And Harry couldn't care less about what Malfoy did or didn't right now.
Whenever not in classes, Harry spent his time brooding over his possibilities. Not that he had many of them, not at all. At the end of the year, he could either go back to his aunt and uncle and search for a job in the Muggle world, which was totally out of question, or he could try his luck in the wizarding world. Maybe he could enrol at Beauxbatons for his sixth year, if he learned a bit of French it should be possible for him to at least finish his education. And in Beauxbatons he would not be completely alone against Voldemort and the Death Eaters who were still hunting him. That was, if Madam Maxime would want him in Beauxbatons. He should talk to Hagrid about it. After all, which headmaster would want a boy who was hunted by the world's most evil wizard enrol at his school, especially since this boy had proven to be incapable of following rules for his own protection.
Well, he still had a couple of months left until the question of his future would become a pressing matter, so Harry kept on playing with various ideas in his mind. His biggest concern was that he would have to return to the Dursleys during the holiday. He didn't see any other opportunity, actually. Even if there was another place where he could be guarded just as well as at Privet Drive, which according to Dumbledore there wasn't, the Dursleys still were Harry's legal guardians until he came of age. And that was years away.
More and more often, Harry asked himself why all this always happened to him. What could he possibly have done wrong in his previous life to deserve something like this?
Ron and Hermione had tried to coax Harry into talking about it or at least behaving normally ever since that fateful night, but Harry had blocked all their efforts. He didn't want to talk about it, and even less did he want to behave as if nothing had happened. His whole life had turned upside down because of his own stupidity and there they were, trying to tell him that everything would be alright? Harry didn't think so.
He spent most of his time away from the common room to avoid Ron and Hermione. He knew that they didn't deserve it, they were only concerned about him, but after the end of the year Harry would be gone anyway. Ron and Hermione would find new friends, so why shouldn't they start now? They would stop worrying about him as soon as they realized that it was in vain, Harry only tried to make it easier for them. And their life without him would be better by far. Too often they already had been in danger because of him, he would not let this happen again. Not if he could prevent it.
With a sigh Harry put the last piece of toast into his mouth and collected his book bag. Checking the Marauder's Map that nobody was in the corridor, he opened the door to the small room that was hidden behind a tapestry.
During the last two weeks, Harry had avoided eating in the Great Hall with the others whenever possible. He had thought that he had gotten used to people staring at him, but now he knew that he wasn't. When he had entered the Great Hall on the morning after the news about his expulsion had spread, everybody in the room had been watching him, watching and whispering. So now Harry either ate very early or very late to avoid the rush of students, or he didn't go into the Great Hall at all and instead paid Dobby in the kitchens a visit. The house elf's liking for 'Harry Potter sir' had not diminished and he seemed to be more than glad that his friend now came by every other day to ask for some food.
Harry left the small secret room he had discovered with the help of the Marauder's Map and made sure that the entrance was completely hidden behind the tapestry again. He would give the map to Ron before he left, after all, he wouldn't need it anymore.
Reluctantly, Harry made his way down towards the dungeons. Double Potions with the Slytherins, exactly what he needed now.
Ever since he had been expelled, Snape seemed absolutely over the moon with joy, gloating over Harry's misery as if he had just achieved his life-time-goal. Also, Harry didn't know why he should still bother about lessons at all. Truly, he had to take his O.W.L.s at the end of term, and if he really went to another wizarding school then he would have to take Potions class there just as well, but all that didn't seem reason enough to bear with Snape's attitude now.
Nevertheless, Harry decided that he didn't need to cost Gryffindor more points by not appearing for lesson, so he continued his descend down towards the Potions classroom. He arrived just in time, like he usually did, and took the next free seat without really looking whom he sat down next to.
She was a Slytherin, but Harry thought this was better than dealing with Malfoy and his cronies or with Ron and Hermione and their concern right now. Besides, Samantha was anything but the typical Slytherin. Harry had never seen her show the typical Slytherin attitude towards anybody. To be honest, he had never heard her speak to anybody outside of class. Ever since Snape had started taking points off his own house because of her, her housemates avoided her like a plague. The rest of the Slytherins showed Samantha quite clearly that she wasn't one of them, despite anything the Sorting Hat might have thought in that matter.
Another outsider, just like Harry himself was one now. How fitting.
Just after Harry had sat down, Professor Snape entered the dungeon and made his way towards his table, black robes billowing behind him.
"Today we will continue our lesson on Sleeping Potions with the most complicated of them all, the Draught of the Living Death. Who can tell me why it is also considered to be the most dangerous sleeping potion?"
As usual, Hermione's hand was in the air before Snape had even finished his question and as usual, Snape ignored her.
Parvati looked up from the Witch Weekly she had been reading under her desk and blushed.
"Erm…because…because it is addictive?"
"Can anybody elaborate that more in detail?"
He looked around the classroom, again ignoring Hermione's attempts to make noticed that she knew the perfect answer, until her eyes finally settled on Samantha.
Samantha looked up, her eyes not showing any emotion except from extreme boredom.
"The Draught of the Living Death holds that name because of its potential to block out any subconscious activity of the mind. The dangerous part of he potion is not its quality as a sleeping potion, but the fact that it prevents the mind from digesting any daily input subconsciously. Though extremely helpful in the case of an acute trauma that prevents the one who takes the potion from sleeping without it, it is not only highly addictive but also bears the danger of a psychological shock. Meaning that once the potion is no longer taken, the mind of the person will start to work subconsciously again during sleep, and the events that have not been processed so far will be processed now. The Draught of the Living Death should therefore not be taken to suppress nightmares unless the situation leaves no other opportunity. Instead, it is often used to treat patients directly after a strong psychological shock to get them through the first night, leaving them to deal with it during the following day."
Hermione lowered her hand, her mouth agape. This had been a text-book explanation and judged from the look on her face it had been even more complete than the one Hermione had wanted to give.
But Snape didn't acknowledge Samantha's answer by giving points, he merely nodded and waved his wand at the blackboard. The instructions for making the Draught immediately showed up.
"Now, we will brew the potion today, but though I guess that there are those amongst you who have terrible events in their life that keep them from sleeping", his words dripping with sarcasm he turned his eyes on Harry, "we won't be able to test the potion amongst you, as Ms. Lewis' explanation should have told you. Instead, I'll collect a sample from each pair to test and grade until Friday. That's it, why haven't you started working yet?"
With a sigh, Harry turned towards Samantha who, much to his surprise, gave him a pained roll with her eyes.
"Let's get this started, don't you think?"
Harry nodded and pulled out his potions ingredients while Samantha went towards Snape's desk to get some asphodel and wormwood which wasn't part of their standard equipment.
"How about I make that wormwood infusion while you prepare the asphodel root?"
Harry nodded at Samantha and began to cut the root free from the rest of the asphodel plant, then washed and peeled it before he started powdering. The root was tenacious and hard to pulverize, so Harry had a tough job to do while Samantha was busy measuring the ingredients right for the wormwood solution.
After twenty minutes, Harry was finished and helped Samantha with measuring the remaining ingredients. They set their potion to simmer for five minutes, preparing to add the asphodel after that.
While Harry cleaned away the ingredients that weren't needed anymore, he shot Samantha a shy smile. The Slytherin girl actually was fun to work with. She was focussed on the task, knew what she was doing, but she didn't scold Harry when he was about to add an ingredient at the wrong time. Instead, she just grabbed his wrist and pushed it back, telling him that he had nearly produced a poison with a sly smile in her eyes.
"Oh, we wouldn't want to poison Snape now, would we?"
Samantha only shook her head, but without the laugh in her eyes anymore.
"No, we wouldn't want that."
Harry was fairly sure that at least today Snape would have no reason to criticize his potion. He had not thought about the wrath of his fellow Slytherin students.
While Harry and Samantha were busy cleaning up their working station, on the cauldron next to them Blaise Zabini was snickering with his partner Goyle. And in a moment when Harry and Samantha weren't paying attention to their cauldron, Blaise 'accidentally' slipped something into their cauldron. At first, nothing happened.
But only some moments later, the potion suddenly turned green and began to foam. The foam quickly rose towards the cauldron's rim, then spilled over it. With a cry of surprise, Samantha pulled her notebook away so that it would not get soiled by the potion. Hearing this, Snape turned around. His eyes grew wide and he quickly strode towards them.
"Ms. Lewis, Mr. Potter, what have you done this time?"
Harry just shook his head.
They had done everything right, so what the heck was going on here?"
"Nothing…nothing sir. We did everything as it was on the blackboard."
"Mr. Potter, if you had done everything right, then this would not be happening. Have..."
Snape couldn't finish his sentence because at that moment, the potion exploded and flew into his face. Covered from head to toe in green slime, Snape gave them a look that spoke clearly of his desire to kill them. Nobody dared to laugh, though the image was just too ridiculous.
"Ms. Lewis, would you care to explain what has happened here? What has Potter done to the potion?"
Samantha looked up.
"Nothing sir, really. The potion was fine when we set it to simmer."
"Alright, that's enough. Detention, both of you. Tonight, eight o'clock. My office. You'll clean up this mess here then. And twenty points off, for each of you. Class dismissed, remember to leave me samples of your potion. Except Potter and Lewis, I guess I already have enough samples of your potion to last for a lifetime."
With this, Snape left the dungeons and headed for the upper part of the castle. Probably he was going to the hospital wing, Harry mused. The rest of the class filed out of the room, the Slytherins snickering at Harry and Samantha while the Gryffindors shot Harry compassionate looks.
Harry packed up his things and then helped Samantha to gather her things together.
"Sorry about that. I
guess I did something wrong which we didn't realized."
Samantha looked up.
"What makes you think
Harry just shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, I don't think that you did something wrong. You seemed to know perfectly well what you were doing, so I guess I blew it up. Literally."
"Harry Potter, ever so modest. I don't think that you did something wrong. At least not something that could have caused this explosion. I rather guess that Blaise and Goyle are to blame, so I'm the one who should apologize. You lost points and got detention only because my housemates despise me."
Harry shouldered his backpack and waved her apology off.
"Don't worry about that. Snape loves to take points off me, he hates me with a passion. If it hadn't been the potion it would have been something else. Guess he wants to make my remaining time here as memorable as possible."
Samantha snickered at first, but seized it at Harry's last remark.
"I'm sorry about that expulsion."
"It was my own fault. Listen, I got to hurry now, or McGonagall will have my head. See you tonight, then. Bye."
"Yeah, bye Harry."
And while Samantha left for the greenhouses, Harry hurried off towards Transfiguration.
McGonagall's lesson was the second blow that morning. Harry lost the Gryffindors five more points because he didn't pay too much attention and turned his book into a cobra rather than into a lizard. Not necessary to mention that his classmates weren't pleasantly surprised by this. And though Harry in the end received ten points for the perfect Transfiguration once he properly concentrated, he only wanted to leave the classroom as soon as possible.
Skipping lunch, he headed to Gryffindor Tower and his dorm room to fetch his books for the afternoon lesson before Ron and Hermione could catch up with him. He planned to be long gone when they came up again after lunch.
Well, Harry clearly underestimated his friends this time. Only moments after Harry had closed the door of his dormitory behind him, it opened again and Ron and Hermione entered. Harry frowned. Hermione always refused to enter the boy's dormitory unless in case of emergency. After all, it was against the rules and she was still Hermione Granger, Hogwarts prefect.
Harry looked up from his trunk, grabbed his books and tried to hurry past his friends.
"See you later, I have to
"I don't think so, Harry."
With this, Hermione locked the door and grabbed Harry's wand before he even had time to react.
"What…hey! Give me my wand back right now, Hermione. I'm not in the mood for this!"
"Frankly Harry, I don't care. It won't take long, but you better sit down and listen to us."
Harry crossed his arms in front of his chest and made no movement to sit down. Ron stepped in front of Hermione and tried a somewhat softer approach.
"Harry, we're concerned about you. During the last two weeks you weren't yourself."
Harry only raised an eyebrow.
"I don't know what you're
"Oh, for sure. Harry, you don't eat with us, you don't even talk to us. On the contrary, you avoid us whenever possible. Harry, you're shutting us out. We only want to help you, but you don't even let us get close to you anymore. We're your friends Harry, we only want to help you."
"What on earth do you want to help me with?"
Hermione pushed Ron aside a little.
"Harry, you've just been expelled. And with Sirius gone into hiding again, you don't have anybody to help you through this now. But we're here, talk to us about what bothers you."
Harry feverishly shook his head.
"There is nothing bothering me. I am expelled. Period. I'll have to live with it. Sirius is gone. Period. I'll have to live with it, he'll let me know when he has found a place where he's save. I've made a huge mistake and I've been punished for it. That's it, there's really nothing more to it. I'll get over with the rest of the time I have here and that's it, okay?"
"No Harry, that's not okay. Being expelled isn't something like getting a detention. You can't tell us that you're not worried about what will happen to you in the future. If it really weren't bothering you as you say then you wouldn't avoid mealtimes or stroll around in the castle till late at night."
Harry stared at Ron with eyes wide
open. Ron only shook his head.
"Did you really think I wouldn't realize that you've sneaked out of the dorm room ever night, hiding under the invisibility cloak? Harry, I don't know why you behave like you do, but it's no good for you. Let us help you."
Harry angrily ran a hand through his hair, messing it up even more than usual.
"What I do and what I don't is none of your business, alright? I'll be gone in a couple of months, better get used to the idea now. There's nothing you can do for me, there's nothing I want you to do for me except that you leave me alone, don't you get that?"
Hermione continued in her famous know-it-all tone, not the least bothered by Harry's last words.
"You can't tell us that you're not the least touched by everything that has happened. I know how much Sirius means to you, you can't tell me that his disappearance doesn't bother you at least a little. And neither can you tell me this about the fact that you won't be able to come back to Hogwarts. You have to go back to your relatives and we all know how much you hate them. Harry, we're your friends, we only want to help you."
"If you really want to help me then spare me your pity, alright? Everybody thinks you're so smart Hermione, I thought you'd be able to figure it out by now. I. Don't. Want. Your. Help. I don't need it, alright? I'll be gone soon and then you won't have to bother yourselves with me anymore. You'll have to live without me anyway, so why not start now? Just leave me alone, alright? I don't want your pity, I don't want your help, and to be bluntly honest, at the moment I neither want your friendship. I only want to be alone, and if you really cared for me as much as you pretend, then you'd understand that."
With this, he grabbed his wand out of Hermione's hand, unlocked the door and bolted from the room. Ron wanted to run after him, but Hermione held him back.
"Let him go."
Ron looked at her as if she had just proposed to invite Malfoy for a party.
"But…Mione, you've heard him."
"Yes, and so have you. He
doesn't want us to help him. He'll come when he's ready for it."
"Oh, and he thinks we'll be waiting patiently for him until he's finished wallowing in his self-pity?"
"I can understand what
you feel like, but I don't think we'll get very far if we continue this right
now. He'll only block us out more. Give him time."
"Time? Hermione, we don't have time! In a couple of months, he'll be gone in case you haven't noticed. I won't allow him to leave like that."
"Ron, I guess there's nothing we can do about it. He's the one who has to come to us. At least let's wait some time until we try to make him talk again."
Slowly and very hesitantly, Ron nodded.
Harry ran out of Gryffindor Tower towards the small hidden room where he had had breakfast that morning. That had been just what he had needed today, Ron and Hermione discovering their undying friendship towards him. Didn't those two realize that their life would be far easier if they weren't his friends? Didn't they realize how dangerous it was to be around him, especially now with Voldemort back in power?
Harry had just recently driven his godfather away from Hogwarts because he had put his life into danger and Ron and Hermione still wanted to be around him?
Not if Harry could prevent it, that much was for certain. It would be far easier for all of them if they got used to the new situation as soon as possible. Harry wouldn't be around for much longer, so why should Hermione and Ron still bother about him?
In his anger, the thought that Ron and Hermione did behave like they did because they were his friends, something which would not stop even if Harry would eventually leave Hogwarts, didn't even cross his mind.
Instead, he spent the entire afternoon pacing across the small room, thinking about various 'what ifs' for his future. It had become some kind of mental sport for Harry during the last couple of weeks. Imagining scenarios of what could happen to him after leaving Hogwarts. Beauxbatons was only one of them, but today his mind travelled to far darker ideas. He could not hide with Sirius, not now that his godfather was so angry with him. And Sirius had deserved far better than Harry as a godson. After all he had been through, Sirius deserved some rest. Not only physically, but also and far more important, emotionally. He didn't need a godson to worry about. When Harry had been born and Sirius had been asked to become his godfather, nobody had imagined this job to be so dangerous. No, Harry decided that Sirius would be far better off alone without him. Maybe in a couple of weeks it would be safe enough for him to return to Professor Lupin, the two men had deserved some time out to catch up on all that had happened.
During his hours of brooding, Harry didn't even realized that he missed Herbology and he didn't even care about it when he checked his watch. Another grade that went downhill, it had good company there.
At seven, Harry left the room and visited dobby in the kitchen to grab something to eat. The little house elf was positively delighted to see him again so soon and Harry had a hard time to get out of the kitchen again when it was time for his detention.
At eight sharp he knocked on the door to the potions classroom and waited for Snape to bid him in.
Harry entered the room, Snape's voice already telling him more than he wanted to know about the Potions master's mood tonight. When Harry looked at him he immediately knew why.
Snape's face was all red, like a cooked lobster, and everywhere where the potion had hit him his skin looked new and sore. Just like the skin looked after burn injuries, Harry thought. Though he knew that he had not done anything wrong, at least not on purpose, he could not help but feel a little guilty. Truly, he hated Snape nearly as much as the man hated him, but those wounds on his face looked painful.
Snape only nodded as he saw Harry entering the classroom. Samantha was already sitting on a desk.
"Kind of you to show up
eventually, Potter. You and Ms. Lewis will clean up the mess you've created
here this morning, and when you're finished with this, you'll clean up those
cauldrons over there. Without magic. Give me your
Snape stretched out one long fingered hand and Harry reluctantly handed his wand over.
"Wouldn't want you to cheat now, would we? I expect the work to be done until midnight, I'll be in my office. Though I wouldn't advice you to disturb me unless it's absolutely necessary. Except if you want to repeat tonight's experience again tomorrow."
Snape grabbed Harry's wand and without another word left for his office. When the door closed behind him, Harry let out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding.
"Phew, I thought he'd be
even more pissed off than he already was. That looked painful."
"It was…I guess. But he'll live, he just likes to make a big deal out of it. Let's get started, shall we?"
Harry nodded and grabbed a bucked with cleaning utensils from a corner of the room.
"Yeah, the faster we start this, the faster we'll be out of here again. This dungeon gives me the creeps."
Samantha grabbed a brush and laughed.
"You get used to dungeons after a while. Believe me."
"You won't tell me that the dungeons at Beauxbatons are as bad as these. No way. And no way that potions there is as horrible as it is here."
Samantha shook her head.
"Actually, Beauxbatons doesn't have dungeons at all. It's not a castle like Hogwarts, it's just a huge old mansion. There are slightly few students there than here, but we had potions in a lab in the tower and it was rather nice."
Harry whistled. That didn't sound too bad.
"You know, I've thought about going to Beauxbatons in after the summer, in case they want me there. Could you tell me a little what it's like?"
Samantha looked up from the desk she'd been scrubbing and smiled.
"Sure, why not?"
And so, while scrubbing desks and cauldrons, Samantha answered all of Harry's questions about Beauxbatons. He was more than relieved to hear that he didn't even need to learn French if he really went there. Samantha herself didn't speak it perfectly, but with the help of some translating spells it was fairly easy to get along in France. During those four hours of cleaning, the idea of going to the other wizarding school didn't sound too strange anymore. From what Samantha told, Beauxbatons was quite a nice place to live at. When they were finished and left the dungeons, after Snape had controlled their work and grumpily agreed to let them leave, Harry asked what had been on his mind ever since Samantha had told him about her old school with a sad smile in her eyes.
"Samantha, if you liked it so much at Beauxbatons, why did you exchange to Hogwarts?"
Samantha shrugged and a sad smile played across her face. She was actually really pretty, Harry realized.
"Well, with the Dark Lord incarnated again, my father got concerned that something might happen there. He was concerned that I might be in danger, so he organized the exchange. Father trusts Dumbledore, and he thought the safest place for me would be here."
Harry nodded. He understood, many other people were only calm to have their children go to a boarding school in times like these because they knew Hogwarts provided them with a protection that was fairly hard to break. Well, at least till that attack two weeks ago.
"I see. Well, it's pretty late, I guess I should go back to my dormitory before I get another detention for strolling in the castle after curfew. Good night Samantha."
She smiled at him.
"Good night, Harry."
Samantha turned left towards the Slytherin Common Room, while Harry started to climb the stairs to Gryffindor tower. A small smile tucked at the corners of his lips. He'd go and talk to Hagrid about Madame Maxime as soon as possible. Beauxbatons sounded like a very good alternative to Hogwarts, he'd have to get things start moving soon.
This night, Harry directly went into his dormitory and his bed. No night-time strolls this night. Harry now at least had something like a perspective, and though it meant leaving all his friends behind, he knew that on the long distance it would be better for all of them.