Sequel to Blind Faith. Harry's second year at Hogwarts begins and something sinister stalks the halls. Muggleborns are being petrified by someting unknown, and just who could be the Heir of Slyth...
Sorry for the delay guys, a lot of things have been curtailing my writing, not to mention that this is a 'wordy' chapter (sorry, no Quidditch tryouts this chappie) bear with me, and I'll try and have ch7 out soon.
Blind Faith 2, chapter 6: Lessons.
There were only four days left to the weekend and Quidditch try-outs but to Harry it seemed like an eternity. His memories of soaring through the air last year with Draco, and the exhilaration that came with it, filled Harry's thoughts and drove him to master the Sound-To-Sight spell. By the end of the week, he knew he would be ready. First, however, there were lessons to be had.
Harry stood with a half dozing Draco just outside the room of requirement. Both Hedwig and Loki remained asleep in each of the boy's rooms, forbidden to come help their master. Pacing past the door the required three times, Harry wished for his training room with Sal, and opened the door, crossing into darkness.
The biggest problem with Harry's senses was that he couldn't easily sense non-living, or non-magical objects. With work, however, Sal had promised that he would come to do so with as much ease as 'live' things. To do this, they needed a place that was shielded against magic, or that could mask it from him; Sal had suggested the Room of Requirement.
In a hidden room across from the painting of Barnabas the Barmy, Harry and Sal had spent the better part of last year training in body and mind. Sal was a hard master and pushed Harry to his limits. Far beyond exercise and meditation, Sal sought to i encourage /i Harry's sight by tossing tennis balls at him at odd times or sparring with him using wooden practice swords. Though Sal had suggested it, and forced him to do the drills regularly, Harry could sense that his mentor didn't like using it as a training tool. If he didn't know better, Harry could almost swear that Sal 'hated' the sparring sessions.
There had been progress, though it hadn't been easy. Forced to dodge tennis balls and obstacles that he couldn't 'see', Harry had made his first breakthrough shortly after Christmas Holidays. He'd consciously dodged an obstacle that he couldn't see with utter ease. The distraction caused by his success sent him crashing into the next one, however, leaving Harry face down on the room's soft floor.
Today was to be another first, however. As his 'sight' returned to normal, Sal was stepping up his training by adding the distraction of another living being to the training. Harry would be working and training with his friend, Draco Malfoy.
Knowing that Sal wouldn't show himself yet, Harry explained that they'd start out with stretches and running circuits of the room's perimeter. Initially Draco was able to keep up easily with the slow jog that Harry started off with. Hoping to make the Slytherin house team, Draco had haltingly attempted training routines he'd read about in Quidditch magazines... at least until he became bored with them. Still, he felt confident he'd be able to keep up with Harry, at least until the Ravenclaw actually started running.
The first circuits had been easy. Harry ran slow, running his hand along the wall as he re-familiarized himself with the course. Starting the third time around, Harry dropped his hand from the wall and took off in earnest. Grinning to himself at Harry's attempt to outrun him with a 'sprint', Draco took off after his friend. It was only two circuits later, as Draco stumbled along, breathing coarsely and was lapped by Harry - again, that Draco realized there was more work to this than he'd planned.
While trying not to show it, Harry was having difficulties of his own. Draco's presence was turning out to be more of a distraction than he'd originally thought. His friend's aura stood out like a beacon in the magically dampened room and made it more difficult to distinguish other objects there. Still, as they ran, Harry found it progressively easier to avoid obstacles that had begun appearing in their path. He'd only fallen once; after a few more stumbles, he became more aware of the 'dead' objects in the room.
They'd been running for only thirty minutes and Harry was beginning to work up a sweat, while Draco was stumbling along the wall, breathing like a creaky bellows. Harry was just about to take pity on his friend and call a halt, when Sal appeared in the room and beat him to it.
"Harry, Draco, come here," the founder bade them as he created a large open space in the centre of the room. "You made a lot of progress last year," Sal said as he pulled out the practice swords. "Before your little confrontation with Voldemort, you were able to block most of my attacks when we sparred. Since then, I think your senses have recovered enough that we can begin again and take the next step."
Handing a wooden weapon to each boy, Sal addressed Draco. "I want you to honestly try and hit Harry where ever you can. His job will be to block your attacks. Don't hold back, and remember that Harry will be fighting back." Though Sal seemed confident in Harry's abilities, the blond Slytherin seemed less-so.
"This isn't really fair, you know," complained Draco as he handled the weapon distastefully. "I mean Harry just got his aura sight working again and you said that mine will distract him - he won't be able to defend himself."
"Let's give Harry some credit," Sal soothed as he placed a placating hand on the Ravenclaw's shoulder. "He's been training for the better part of a year to become sensitive to magical objects. He's put a lot of effort into getting where he is, and when he masters it, we can move on to the next level of his training."
"It's alright," Harry added, trying to keep his irritation with Draco out of his voice. "I can really do this, but I need your help.
"Go on," urged Sal as he backed away from the two, a slightly strained expression on his face was totally missed by Draco. "You don't have to swing your hardest, just try and hit him."
"Do whatever you want," Harry said with a feral grin as he fell into a ready stance. "Just so you know, I'll be trying to hit you back."
Though reluctant to chance hurting his best friend, Draco could never back down from a challenge. A predatory gleam sparked itself in his eyes and he took a slightly different guard stance than Harry; it was obvious he'd had some formal training with a sword.
"You asked for it," Draco crowed as he swung his weapon at his best friend in a quick, but underpowered blow. His elation at the new game turned to horror as Harry, seeming to sense the practice sword a moment too late, reacted slowly and was only able to soften the blow with his own blade.
"Sorry!" yelped Draco with a mortified look. "Look, maybe he isn't ready yet... he couldn't block me."
"But he did," replied Sal with a forced smile. "He just didn't do it quickly enough. No skill is learned perfectly on the first try. It will take time for him to differentiate between living, magical, and non-magical objects. Harry won't learn, however, by being insulated. He's come this far with similar lessons, now he needs your help to take that next step. The question is, are you strong enough to help him?"
Harry, for his part, had rubbed feeling back into his shoulder and had returned to a ready stance. "Come on, Draco, I'm fine." Taking advantage of his friend's distraction, Harry reached out with his sword and gave Draco a light tap on his backside.
Forgetting his earlier misgivings after the slightly stinging blow, Draco brought up his own and answered in mock anger, "So that's how you want to play it then? Let's try this again!"
The two boys resumed their places and began the sparring session again. Belying his earlier challenge, Draco started slower at first, telegraphing his strikes and giving ample time for Harry to respond. It took a reminder from Sal that no one in the real world would give Harry that kind of consideration to finally make the blond increase both the speed and strength of his attacks.
Harry's defence weakened slightly at first as Draco began to push harder, but quickly recovered. His confidence increased and the raven-haired boy began returning his friends attacks with equal vigour.
Minutes passed in relative silence. The only sounds in the room was the clacking of practice swords against each other and the grunts of the boys as they put real effort into their sparring. As their fight progressed, Harry became more confident, though it was obvious from his stance, that Sal had never taught him proper form. Finally, the uneven rhythm of their duel was interrupted by a meaty thwack, followed by a howl of pain.
"You're going about this all wrong," commented Ric as he appeared leaning against the wall beside Sal. The two custodians watched in amused silence for a time as Harry chased a blubbering Draco, who was hopping about the stage while clutching his injured leg.
"The boys would be better served to learn the proper use of those weapons, for their own safety at least."
"Those weapons are archaic," grumbled Sal. "They'd do nothing but get in the way in a modern fight. If it weren't for their usefulness in Harry's training his senses, I'd never have considered using them."
"You said it yourself; Harry was started down this path last year when you began teaching him. Martial combat is the best way to hone his senses and improve his reflexes, strength and endurance... I know the real reason why you don't want to do it this way, but the boy needs this training - keeping him from it won't bring back Sethias, you know."
Ignoring the sharp glare from Sal, Ric went on. "I understand your pain, Sal. Godric lost more than one of his sons then as well."
"It's not the same!" Sal growled quietly. Godric had his children after we split, Seth was i my /i son, I helped deliver him, I was the first to hold him - it was my training that..."
Taking his friend by the shoulders, Ric softly interrupted, "Harry isn't Seth. The training we're giving him isn't to fight; we're teaching him how to survive. What happened to your son was terrible, almost an ending of sorts... Harry can be a new beginning." Glancing at the two boys, Ric nodded in their direction. "Look."
Harry had finally stopped Draco and helped him to a sitting position. Though covered by layers of clothing, it was obvious from Draco's pained expression that the blow had been a strong one. Placing his hands gently on the blonde's thigh, Harry knit his brows in concentration as a green fire began to burn in his eyes. A golden glow surrounded Draco and he slumped in relief.
"Dumbledore is wrong about a great many things," Sal whispered. "There is one thing where he was right. The boy is a natural healer. Harry doesn't have it in him to kill - I hope that never changes."
The two watched as Harry and Draco got into a pushing match that quickly turned into play, as they wrestled on the mats. Grinning at the two boys as they laughed and fought for the upper hand, Ric said, "Go and get them before they wear themselves out. I'll begin training them tomorrow."
Taking a few steps toward Harry, Sal turned and said, "Ric... when you train him -"
"The Scimitar, I know."
Feeling freer than he had in some time, Sal went to collect his students for the next part of Harry's training.
"This is pointless," whined Draco they all sat cross-legged in a small circle a short while later. "Why are we doing this, anyway?"
"Harry is practising his meditation, while you are learning. Only through a calm mind can a wizard hope to find their magic within them."
"What tripe," the blond Slytherin complained. "If I want to call my magic, I just pull out my wand."
"And if you don't have it?"
"Of course I'd have it," Draco snorted. "What kind of wizard wouldn't have their wand on them?"
Oblivious to the debate between his mentor and Draco, Harry's consciousness floated in a sea of nothingness. Harry exercised the skill that Sal had taught him. Divorcing himself from all external sensation, he'd gone into a deep trance. He was looking for a shining star that represented his magical core. As he drifted, he felt warmth, a tingling drawing him in one direction. Following the feeling, Harry felt it spread over him, and he could sense a lightening of the darkness ahead. He could almost -
Harry was snapped out of his trance by Draco's loud exclamation. "That's it! That's the glow Harry's doing with his eyes all the time anymore."
"Wha -" the Ravenclaw asked. "What happened?"
"From the looks of it," Sal answered. "You got a step closer to locating your magical core. You'd have probably gotten a bit closer, but young master Draco became so excited when your eyes began to glow, that he woke up from you trance a bit early."
"Sorry," Draco said, sounding not the least bit. "It's just that Harry's been doing the eye glow thing since this summer... Do you know what it is?"
Though blushing at all the attention he was getting, Harry had to admit he was a bit curious himself. "It seems to happen mostly when I'm upset, but I guess when I'm doing strong magic too. I've never heard of anybody else doing it."
"Well relax Harry, it's nothing harmful, this is just a physical manifestation of your ability to focus magic within yourself."
"My what," Harry asked in confusion.
"Well, you know that all living things have a magical core, though only witches, wizards and magical creatures are able to access it through a focus. Back before the founding of Hogwarts, most witches and wizards channelled magic directly through their bodies. This was the best way, as it allowed for faster casting, a more powerful spell, and no need for an outside focus. The downside was that it was a lot of work to learn how to focus their inner magic, and even when they did, it was extremely taxing. Over time, the wizarding world learned that using talismans or wands was easier, as the outer focus did much of the work for them. It's gotten to the point that most modern wizards don't even believe they can cast a spell without a wand," this was said with a cutting glare at Draco. "Though some more powerful wizards, like Dumbledore and Voldemort, still use it.
"A manifestation of wandless magic is often an aura either around the entire being of the caster, or in many cases, some body part, such as the hands or eyes. Voldemort has glowing red eyes, while Dumbledore has a twinkle, that while most people see it as a knowing humour, it is actually a magical aura that makes people around him feel at ease.
"You, Harry, are a special case. Not specifically because of your blindness, but because you developed your aura sight in compensation. You've been in indirect contact with your core since a few months after the accident. Because of that, you've developed your wandless magic to a certain extent through your healing abilities. After your battle with Quirrell last term, you became more closely linked with your core, almost making contact. Because of that, you have begun having manifestations of your potential. With a little practice, you'll be able to learn to turn it on and off at will."
"Great," quipped Draco. "We'll hang you off the tree at Christmas, Harry.
"Oh Ha," growled the Ravenclaw. "So I either have my dead-fish eyes or Christmas lights, wonderful..."
"Take off your glasses, if you would," Sal asked gently.
Knowing that both of them had seen his scarred eyes many times before, Harry had little problem doing as his mentor asked. He was a little surprised, then, when Draco made a surprised gulping noise.
"Your mum's eyes were green, weren't they?" asked the blond Slytherin.
"You've seen the picture, yeah."
"You've got your mother's eyes."
"What? How did..."
"I don't know how," Draco answered. "But I can see through the scarring, it's not so bad now. You've got your mum's eyes."
"The magic is fixing your eyes the best it can," Sal explained. "It won't bring your sight back, too much has changed for your eyes to work like other peoples ever again, but I think that in time, they'll look like they did before the accident."
Seeing that Harry was going to have a teary moment, Sal said, "Training is finished for today. You two take as much time to pull yourselves together, and Ric and I will see you both in the morning. With that, Sal vanished, leaving Draco sitting by his friend awkwardly patting his back as Harry pulled himself back together..
Potions that day was a bit of a let down at first for Harry. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff doubled the class period, just like the other two houses did. He'd hoped that they would be further along than the Gryffindor/Slytherin class had been last year; they were - just not by much.
When classes had let out last term, Harry's evening sessions with Severus had them just short of finishing third year curriculum. Now, sitting in with the other second years, Harry felt bored out of his skull. The hair lengthening potion they were to make was simple. He knew the ingredients and procedure by heart. Several times during the lecture, Harry caught himself silently reciting Snape's speech along with the professor. It went on for the better part of the lecture, until he was caught out.
"Mr. Potter," said Snape irritably. "Are you talking to someone oat the back of the class?"
"Er - no sir," Harry answered with a flaming face.
"Then please endeavour to keep your mouth closed when not answering a question."
With a wave of his wand, the potions-master made the instructions for the hair lengthening potion appear on the board and addressed the class. "You have one hour to complete your assignment. Mr. Potter, Please step up to my desk and bring your bag."
The other students scrambled to gather their ingredients while Harry made his way to Snape's desk.
"Yes Professor?" Harry asked as he scanned Severus' aura. As usual, the professor's Occlumency shields prevented Harry from sensing any significant emotion from him. He could, however, tell by the relatively relaxed state of them, that Severus wasn't hiding any intense feelings such as anger.
With a quick wave of his wand, Snape created a bubble of silence around them, making it difficult for casual eavesdropping. "You were reciting my lecture along with me," the professor said quietly. "Were you simply mocking me, or were you really that bored with my teaching?"
Harry gaped like a fish for a few moments, struggling for an answer that he hoped wouldn't anger his teacher, until he felt tiny hints of amusement leaking around Snape's shields.
"You don't have to answer," Snape said as Harry let out a sigh of relief. "I know we covered all this last term. I'll expect you down here twice a week in the evenings to keep you challenged. As for class-time," Snape seemed to pause as he considered his words before continuing.
"I'd like to ask you a favour."
"A favour," Harry repeated uncertainly. He couldn't think of a thing that Snape could need from him.
"There are a minority of students in my first and second year classes that don't respond well to my teaching methods." The professor waited patiently while Harry fought down a snort of laughter. "As I was saying," he said with an edge of annoyance in his voice. "Many of the muggleborns and even some of the purebloods don't seem to know the basics of ingredient preparation. I was hoping that you could review ahead of each class and perhaps tutor some of the less adept students."
"You want me to help you teach?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"To an extent, yes," Severus replied. I don't expect you to go so far as to let your own classes suffer, but any time you can spend with my weaker students could save both time and a few cauldrons from melting.
Smiling lightly, Harry accepted, "I'd like that very much. I would ask a favour though. Something's not right with Aunt Petunia - It's not like she's under a spell or anything," he added quickly as Severus stiffened in alarm. "She's been under so much stress since uncle Vernon, then taking care of Dudley and me." Harry went on to explain about h is aunts odd behaviour of late.
Severus listened quietly, but Harry could sense concern growing behind the potion-master's shields. "So anyway, since Dudley and I won't be able to visit except on weekends, I thought you could possibly go around a bit more often... during the week I mean."
"Of course I will; I'll go today after classes let out. Now, however, I think it's best if we get back to the class before one of these dunderheads destroys my lab."
Harry spent the rest of his time there happily reviewing the next lesson along with a list of people that Snape had given him for tutoring. Topmost on the list was Neville Longbottom. It wasn't really a big surprise, Nev had been a walking disaster in potions last year, and it wasn't likely anything had changed. Still, Harry was a little nervous about teaching him; their friendship had felt different since returning from summer holidays.
Neville hadn't really been standoffish; so much as he was now constantly surrounded by a new clique of friends that seemed to worship the ground he walked on. Some, like Hermione and Ron Weasley, were just continuing their friendship from the year before, and weren't really doing any hero worship. Others, like the Patil twins, Ginny Weasley, and a host of other students, seemed attracted to him like moths to a flame. Harry didn't know if it was his battle scars, or the rumours that were floating around about what had happened with the stone, but either way, it seemed to be giving Neville an inflated head at times. Harry's pondering was put to an end, however, as a bell tolled, signalling the end of class.
Later that afternoon, Harry sat at a table near the fire in the Merlin Common Room. He listened as his friends, Draco, Terry and Mandy, told him about another wasted defence class.
"Lockhart is totally useless as a defence teacher," Draco raged. "He just blathers on about himself and the parties that he attended after slaying this beast or that... I think we'd all be better off with a mudbl-"
Looking a bit flushed, the blond Slytherin corrected himself. "Muggleborn - Sorry Harry. We'd be better off having one of them teaching us."
"You really need to get past that pureblood garbage," Harry scolded. "There are plenty of halfblood and muggleborn wizards and witches that are as good as or better than many purebloods... Granger for instance."
"Hermione is a special case," Draco replied a little too hotly. "Anyway, you can't use her as an example; you won't even talk to her anymore."
"She treats me like an invalid," Harry growled. "Of all the people I'd expect it from, she's the last. I can't even figure out how she got the idea in her head! Even Ron Weasley treats me with more respect than she does now."
"Probably helps that you saved his life," answered Draco offhandedly. "Still, I'm not the one you should be asking about Hermione's motives. She and the Weasel are right across the room, trying to do homework."
Opening his senses to the room, Harry felt and heard Hermione trying to help both Ron and Neville with their homework. From the sound of it, she was revising their transfiguration homework; by the level of tension he was feeling coming from the boys, however, neither was benefiting from her teaching style. Feeling a bit sorry for them, despite their troubles last year, Harry turned back to his friends and they got back to their own homework.
They'd finished reviewing Lockhart's class after ten more minutes of complaining, and started going over What Harry had been reading about in his defence books. They were thoroughly engrossed in a revision of the three different types of conditions or attacks that required shields: physical, magical and mental. So wrapped up in they in their group, it startled everyone when sharp words and the slamming closed of a book from across the room made everybody jump. The sound of quick and forceful footsteps echoed around the room as somebody approached.
There was a short, suspenseful silence, and then Ron Weasley spoke. "Harry," he said a bit too loudly at first, obviously still angry about something. Bringing his tone to a bit more normal level, Ron started again. "Harry, Nev here says that you're going to be going over potions with him."
"I am," Harry agreed cautiously.
"Do you - do you think that it would be alright if I sat in?"
Surprised that Ron would ask, Harry felt out for Hermione. She still sat where they had previously, simmering with anger - and filled with hurt as well. "What about Granger?" he asked.
"She already knows it... bloody knows it all," the redhead added quietly. "We have a little trouble keeping up when she explains things."
"You're welcome to sit in, but we won't be doing potions for a while. Right now we're going over some things I read about in a DADA book."
"That's fine," Ron agreed as him and a still silent Neville found a seat down the table. Harry was about to begin again when somebody barrelled into him from behind and wrapped their hands around his shoulders, sending Loki squawking to perch on his head.
"Guess who," said an excited voice behind him.
"Could it be my favourite cousin?" asked Harry with amusement.
There was a short pause before Dudley exclaimed, "I'm your only cousin!" Saying so, he wormed onto the bench beside Harry.
"How's your week going so far, Duds?"
"This place is brilliant! Harry's cousin replied, glowing with enthusiasm. "Peeves has been playing water balloon tag with me and two of my friends after dinner."
Feeling the water, just now soaking through his clothes, Harry guessed, "You lost then?"
"Kind of," Dudley answered, "But it was wicked!" Turning a bit more serious, he asked. "When are we going to be able to see mum?"
"Hasn't Professor Sprout had a chance to tell you yet?" Harry asked. "Aunt Petunia will be eating dinner with us Friday night and taking you back to the house. I have some things that I have to get done Saturday, but I'll be home with you both for the rest of the weekend after."
"What will you be doing?" Dudley asked innocently.
"Nothing important," Harry replied.
Unfortunately, an excited Draco couldn't help but blurt "Quidditch try-outs - OW!" The blond Slytherin shot Harry a dirty look as he reached under the table to rub his sore shin.
"Quidditch," Dudley repeated uncertainly. "But how?"
"I found a spell that will let me use sound to help me find my way around." Harry explained, desperately hoping that his cousin would leave it at that and not ask any more questions in front of the others.
"A spell," Dudley repeated. "What about - OW!"
"There must be a slouch-backed Nurfler under the table," a dreamy, high pitched voice proclaimed with hidden amusement from behind them.
"Hi Luna," Harry greeted the first year Ravenclaw. He'd become fast friends with her almost before the sorting feast had ended because of the way she treated him. Luna was one of the few people that acted like Harry was any other person, not the Boy Who Lived, not the blind kid, just Harry. There were times that he suspected she didn't even realise that he was blind.
A confused-but pleased smile spread across Harry's face as he asked, "A slope - what?"
"A Slope-backed Nurfler, They're small, gnome like creatures that lurk under tables and attack the legs of unwary wizards. They mostly live in libraries, but have been known to make their homes in schools as well.
Harry struggled to maintain a straight face as Luna explained about the Nurflers and their elusive history. Draco sat, sputtering in disbelief while Loki, from his perch atop Harry's head, shot suspicious glances between his master and the strange girl before his curiosity got too much for him and the little dragon scampered down Harry's body and darted under the table.
"Is it true?" asked a voice from nearby. Hermione, having heard the conversation had come over to confront them.
"About what, Granger?" Harry asked coolly. "The Nurflers? I'd expect, Luna's never given me a reason to distrust her."
Ignoring the cutting remark, the Gryffindor asked, "Are you really trying out for Quidditch?"
"What if I am?" Harry growled, letting his anger take control. "It's not really any of your business; anyway, you of all people should know that I can do this."
"I remember your flying lesson with Draco last year," Hermione agreed. "You flew brilliantly. I also remember that you did it on an empty Quidditch field. In a real game there's stands full of students and other players i trying /i to knock you off your broom. You know how your sight gets when you're around too much magic - it's too dangerous!"
"Hermione!" Harry yelled in warning.
"What? Do you think that spell is going to fool anybody," she asked heatedly. "I researched that spell before I gave you the book. I'd hoped it would help you somehow. I know it's useless."
"You don't understand -" Harry began.
"Yes I do!" Hermione almost screamed, drawing the attention of the entire room. "You're a twelve year old boy who's so intent on proving you can what everybody else can, that you're taking stupid risks! Well I'm not letting you do it to yourself this time. If you try out on Saturday, I'll stop you. I'll go straight to Dumbledore and tell him everything if I have to."
With that Hermione hoisted her school bag up on her shoulder and stomped out of the Merlin Common Room. Harry sat frozen in shock, while Draco jumped up, face red with fury and ran after her.
"So," asked Dudley lamely. "Does this mean you'll be staying with us Friday night?"
With greenish light shining so brightly behind his glasses that one of the lenses cracked, Harry got up with a set, angry expression. Without a single word to the others, he walked purposefully out of the room to find the girl he had once called a friend.
Alright kiddies, there's my cliffie. just a few things. If you can't tell, this chapter is totally unbeta'd, I'll try and get it cleaned up in the next week or so. Also, I need your vote on whether Dumbles finds out about Harry's sight. waiting on your vote won't stop the writing of next chapter, but will have long-term effects on the story. Rock the Vote!