A/N: Ok, here's the newest chapter and as always there is going to be a fair bit of suspension of disbelief. I know from reading a lot of feedback that the concept isn't sitting well with some people, but you have to look at how the magical and non-magical worlds are set up in the books to see that this isn't quite so unbelievable. The Queen's government would not allow for a child to be placed in a home where he isn't at least checked on once in ten years, add to that the fact that Harry's neighbors are described as believing him to be the bully when clearly Dudley is the one doing all the crimes; the fat lard barely seems to conceal anything during the books, openly boasting about beating up on kids smaller than him. If you've made it this far, I thank you and promise that updates will be a little more regular as I've been caught up in work as well as some other crossover stories that I'm putting together.
In the end it had taken Harry and Hermione a few extra minutes to get up to Gryffindor Tower through the throng of students that had either left early on in the fight or even before it started. Everyone wanted to know what was going on and how badly the school was going to suffer if nearly eighty percent of the student body was going to be expelled. Hermione kept up a running commentary after Harry got her talking about the castle itself, but she still looked a little timid to speak up about anything before he started to ask her a variety of questions about various paintings and tapestries that they passed on the way to the Tower. The Fat Lady was most interested in the gossip that the two students could provide and took some convincing to let them pass.
The common room was more or less empty with only a few younger years going over spell books before the school year had even started. Harry noticed that the youngest Weasley was close behind them when they entered the portrait hole and had immediately sped up the stairs that led to the girl's dormitory. Hermione explained about the protections on the stairs even as Harry was looking at them with his head tilted to the side alittle. They bid each other goodnight with Hermione not saying much making ahasty exit up the stairs with her arms clutched around a small book bag. Harry had gone up to the bedroom that was to be his finding his meager things on abed and slowly pulled back the drapes to get some sleep, knowing that his roommates would be detained for quite some time.
It was nearly six o'clock in the morning, when Harry first started to rise from the embrace of sleep. The rigorous schedule imposed on the inmates at the Center forced them to adapt to waking early and going to bed late depending on the whim of the administration. His schedule had even taken to staying at Grimmauld Place with Tonks; he would normally wake around six am and simply watch her sleep for a while contemplating about his life. Waking now in the damp and somewhat drafty castle to the snores of the other occupants he missed the warmth of a bed partner, and Tonks specifically. He had come to really respect the young woman for what she did for society as well as the fun loving person that she really was.
Pulling himself from the bed and stretching his arms over his head he looked at himself. He had slept in a pair of flannel pants that Tonks had gotten for him on their Diagon Alley trip with no shirt. Looking around the room he took in the other snoring boys splayed out around their blankets and shook his head a little at their laziness. He quickly made the bed, smoothing out the sheets a little and then packed his bag with achange of clothes and anything he might need for the day; it was Sunday and classes wouldn't start for another day to give the first years, and him, achance to acclimate to the castle environment. Satisfied with his things he wrote out a quick note to Hermione telling her where to find him before he headed down to the common room, still in only his flannel pants.
In the common room he prodded a sleeping owl that was perched on an open window before giving it the message and watching it fly up the girl's stairs. He looked at the stairs again and gave a small smile and a shake of his head before pushing open the portrait and heading out into the hallways. As he predicted he wasn't stopped on his trek through the castle until he reached the transfiguration corridor and found a floating man in an orange tie smearing ink on a door knob. The small man seemed to hear his approach and looked up with a wide nasty grin on his face as he hung upside down.
"Potty Rotty not supposed to be out of bed yet." The man slowly turned and advanced, at a ninety degree angle now almost parallel to Harry. He dipped his head to the side a little as he examined the odd floating man.
"You must be Peeves, the poltergeist." Harry smiled as the man straightened up and rotated in a small circle finally seating him in the air facing Harry.
"Peevsey famous?" The poltergeist gave a whoop and started to circle around Harry's head. "Peevsey should tell cat-Professor of Potty being out of bed."
"Maybe Potty tell cat-Professor of Peevsey smearing ink on the doorknobs?" Harry gave a small smile and shook his head. "Peeves, if you don't rat me out, either now or later on, I'll give you a few pranks that might be fun."
"Pranks always fun, Potty's father give Peevsey good pranks." The poltergeist sat hovering just out of reach of Harry as he seemed to be considering the idea. "Weasley brothers promise Peeves pranks as well."
Harry nodded a little, filing the information about his father away for the future. "Tell you what, Peeves, come with me and I'll make you a deal. You can throw water balloons at me for ten minutes straight and Iwon't say a thing. I'll even take the blame from Filch."
The poltergeist seemed to consider the idea and then swooped off with the teenager leading them out onto the grounds. He set his stuff down and faced where the sun was going to be coming up over the large mountains in the distance. Taking in a deep breath of the pre-dawn air he stood straight and still, slowly dissolving into a martial arts kata and lowering his knees a little further to the ground. Peeves sat ready juggling water balloons around his hands for a few minutes and then got bored before throwing the first salvo.
For the next ten minutes Peeves soaked Harry completely in icy cold water as balloon after balloon hit him square in the face and chest. Each time the poltergeist would cackle madly and get ready to launch another one; after some time it almost became a game in and of itself for the little man seeing how oddly he could pitch the balloon and still have it soak the teen. For Harry's part he didn't raise a single hand to stop the incoming projectiles and simply flowed fluidly from one kata to the next, changing his leg and arm positions when needed and letting the water hit him wherever it landed. Once the ten minutes was up, Peeves was cackling like mad and Harry was shaking his head like a wet dog.
"Potty all right with Peevsey." The poltergeist held his ghostly hand out as Harry took it, giving it a small shake. "Come to Peeves if you need silent and good pranks." He held a finger to his lips and disappeared noiselessly, only given away by his cackling that faded away back towards the castle.
Shaking his head again to get a little more water off of it, Harry dropped down into the next kata and continued with the small exercises one after the other. Each time he changed forms he would move fluidly from one to the next; it was something that he had learned early on in his childhood that he needed to be fit to get away from bullies, both the real and the imaginary. The sun was already starting to peek over the parapets of the castle and cast and eerie orange glow across the expansive and empty grounds. He paid little attention to anything around him as he moved from one form to the next; although he always seemed to know what was around him at any given time. He closed his eyes as he felt the slight moisture on his chest evaporating with the touch of the sun and the warmth starting to spread through his entire body.
As he finished with his last set his back was to the castle and his legs together with his head bowed, he spoke softly, letting the wind carry his voice. "Are you going to just stand there and stare at me all day?" This earned a small squeak from the bushy haired girl behind him. He smiled and turned to face her, noticing that her face was rather red and she was trying to look at anything other than him.
"Y-Your note said....said that you would be here." Hermione stammered a little as she tried not to look at Harry's exposed chest or water soaked pants. She gave a small whimper as she turned around to look back up at the castle purposefully. "Yo-You shouldn't be out here."
Harry shrugged as he pulled out a change of clothes from the bag that he had left on the grass when he had started with Peeves. He quickly changed in the middle of the lawn, not caring if anyone was looking out the windows at that moment; fortunately no one was up yet as it was still just before seven in the morning. "There's nothing in the rules against going out for an early morning stroll."
"It's not safe." Hermione's voice was a little more confident, but she still wouldn't turn to face him.
"If it's not safe at this time in the morning then that's to say that it is ever. Plus, I thought this was supposed to be the safest magical place in Britain." Harry shook his head at some of the hypocrisy as he picked up his bag and walked quickly past Hermione. It took her a moment to figure out that he was walking away from her and she hurried to catch up with him. "In any case there's nothing to say that I can't go out on the grounds after six o'clock in the morning."
Hermione was opening and closing her mouth a few times as if she was going to try and find something to say. Finally her voice was small and meek as they approached the castle. "Why did you leave me a note?"
Harry smiled and patted her on the shoulder, causing her to wince at first and then pale a little. "You're my parole officer while I'm in this prison, why shouldn't I be reporting to you what I do and do not do?" She started to stammer a little as he shook his head. "I know what you're supposed to be doing and what you were asked to do and I'm sure that whomever told you to shadow me everywhere I go said that it was for my own good."
She was going to say something, probably a rebuttal of his rather paranoid statement just as they crossed the threshold of the castle doors. She never got a chance to say anything as a silky voice came up from the shadows near the entrance down to the dungeons. "Mister Potter and Miss Granger, out of bounds already so early in the year. I believe that will be twenty points each from Gryffindor and a week of detentions with me in the potions labs."
There were very few people up this early on aSunday morning and as such the voice carried easily across the entrance hall to the two teens. The man that came out of the shadows was the greasy haired hook nosed potions Professor and he had what could only be described as a triumphant smirk plastered all over his face. His robes were billowing slightly behind him, causing Hermione to cower behind Harry a little, but the teen shook his head and tried to contain rolling his eyes at the man's intimidation theatrics.
"Good Morning, Professor Snape. I trust that your summer was enjoyable." Harry moved to walk into the Great Hall just behind the Professor, but was prevented by the man's wand moving under his chin.
"Not so fast, Potter. We need to discuss your blatant disregard for the rules of this castle, not to mention your bringing down afellow student as well." His eyes glittered dangerously as they flitted back and forth from Harry to Hermione. Harry met the man's gaze, but the girl was quelling under the stern look of the Professor.
Harry shrugged, still not showing any emotion when he had come into the encounter with the man. "As I was just explaining to Prefect Granger, there is no rule against going out in the morning to enjoy a small walk around the lake." The use of her formal title caused the girl to look between the Professor and the teenage boy next to her. Her bottom lip had already been pulled between her teeth and she was chewing on it quite a bit.
"Arrogant little brat." Snape had gotten so close that Harry could smell the man's bad breath, but didn't back down or wince from the smell. "You think that you're better than everyone, that you should be treated differently just because your parents are dead." He snarled with a small smirk on his face that quickly diminished when he saw that Harry had made no reaction to his words. "You're just like your father, strutting around here like you own the castle."
Harry kept his cool demeanor as he raised a single eyebrow at the man's words and then crossed his arms over his chest, meeting the man's gaze. "Professor, I have not had the privilege of knowing my parents or that they were indeed dead until very recently so I cannot defend a man that I know nothing about." He gave a small smile and then shrugged. "However I can attest to the fact that there is no rule or Hogwarts bylaw that prevents students from going out of the castle when the doors are officially unlocked at five am."
Once again Harry took a step to the side to move around the enraged Professor, but was stopped by the man gripping his arm and forcefully pulling him around to face him. "You will listen to me, Potter. I am the authority here and I don't care how famous you think you are, you're my pupil and I will be giving out the punishments. As such I believe that's two hundred points from Gryffindor and two weeks of detention....each." Hermione was fighting back tears now, but Harry simply stared into the man's eyes matching his gaze; besides that he gave no indication that he had even heard the man.
"I'll make you a deal, Professor. If you can answer me one simple question then I will take not only my detentions, but Hermione's as well...." He paused for a moment and then gave a small smile. "...plus double. That's two months of detention for me if you can answer a simple question." Snape seemed to be considering it and then gave a stiff nod. "What rule did Ibreak, specifically?"
Snape's face was turning a puce color in moments as he gripped Harry's arm even tighter. Harry could feel his muscles straining in protest against the constriction, but he let none of it show on his face as he stared down the man before him. "Four months of detention and five hundred points from Gryffindor for your insolence, Potter. I'll have you expelled for this." Again, he gave a small smirk, to be disappointed when Harry merely shrugged.
"Very well, Professor, you must do as you see fit. As you say, you are the authority here." By this point a small crowd had gathered in the entrance hall of all four houses trying very hard not to whisper very loudly about what was going on before them. The Slytherins were all wearing triumphant smirks as they laughed openly at what was happening while the Gryffindors looked like they were going to curse the potions Professor; it was lucky that Weasley was still asleep. "However, I think that you should know that..." Harry paused as his voice increased in volume, but keeping the cool emotionless tone. "...according to Hogwarts bylaws, any punishment given over three days of detention or twenty points to one individual in a single incident needs to be verified by both the pupil's Head of House and the Headmaster." By the time he was done his voice was carrying throughout the entire entrance hall causing a hush to fall over the crowd.
Snape growled low in his throat as he pushed Harry away from him, leveling his wand at the young man. Harry didn't bother to draw his wand, simply standing there with his arms crossed over his chest. "Arrogant little welp, trying to hide behind the Headmaster's robes, are we?" He snarled as the end of his wand started to glow yellow. "I'll show you proper respect."
The move took less than a second, at one point Snape was leveling his wand against Harry's forehead and the next Harry was tossing the wand between his hands. Snape stared at his empty hands, still looking like he was holding a wand as his face started to turn interesting colors. After a moment he snatched the wand out of the air and leveled it again at Harry's head, but once again it seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye back into the hands of the teenager. For his part, Harry didn't show any emotion either when he was standing before the man, or when he was juggling his wand back and forth from one hand to the other. By the third attempt, Snape was getting irritated and the crowd around them were starting to mutter about what was going on.
"Potter, I'll have you expelled." Snape snatched his wand back for the fourth time roaring at the top of his lungs. Instead of trying to curse the man before him he turned and stormed off away from the dungeons. Once he was gone the rest of the student population seemed to come out of a trance and moved towards the Great Hall for breakfast.
Hermione rushed to catch up to Harry, whom was already towards the end of the red and gold table and sitting down. She plopped down across from him and stared at the plate before her before she spoke in a small voice. "You shouldn't have done that. He's a Professor and as such requires our respect."
Harry snorted a little as he sipped at his drink for amoment to wash down the small bit of eggs that he was eating. He paused for amoment to force Hermione to look up at him in the eyes before she looked away quickly. "Why do you trust authority implicitly?"
"He's a Professor."
"He's an arrogant bully."
Her face turned a little red from the remark, but she didn't reprimand him for it. "He's a Professor and therefore requires our respect. He obviously knows what he is doing and knows the rules."
Harry shook his head a little as he looked around the room. "Hermione, I'm sure that you and the Ravenclaws are the only two groups of people that I can ask this, but is there a rule against what I did?"
Her brown eyes came up to meet his green for a moment as she chewed on her lower lip once more. Harry could already see that it was starting to crack in places from the over use. "Which part?"
Harry shrugged as he popped a sausage into his mouth and chewed it for a moment before swallowing. He waited until his mouth was cleared before speaking again. "Any of it, really."
Hermione thought it over for a moment while he continued to eat. She hadn't touched any of the food on the table since they had arrived, but was looking at it lost in thought. Finally after a few minutes she spoke up. "I suppose disarming him like you did might be considered assault on ateacher."
Harry shook his head as he was cleaning off his plate and looking at her the entire time. "He had threatened bodily harm and was in the process of casting a spell on my person. I would argue self-defense."
"But he never actually cast anything. That would be hard to prove that he was going to do anything." She shrugged and tucked into her breakfast, taking some time to get something to eat before she spoke again. She waved her fork around for emphasis as she spoke. "At any rate, what you said about the Hogwarts bylaws is probably true now that I think about it." She gave off a good impression of a tomato as she went back to her food.
Harry studied her for a moment and then spoke up, using his fork to poke at the air between them a little. "Why are you so frightened to talk to me? I'm sure that it's not the whole celebrity thing since most of the other simpering girls don't seem to have a problem." He pointed down the table where a small collection of girls were giggling and pointing back towards him.
Hermione gave a small scowl to the girl's that he had pointed out. "My roommates, they think that it's so..." She groaned and sighed, keeping her eyes down. "I don't have any actual friends here." She shook her head quickly as if coming out of a trance. "Y-You don't want to hear about me."
Harry shook his head as he reached across the table and brushed the girl's hand. She quickly pulled it away and looked down into her lap. "I'll break you out of your lowered self-image induced fantasy one of these days. The fact is that I do want to get to know you if we're going to be hanging around one another for the foreseeable future."
Just as Hermione was about to open her mouth to say something else, the stern visage of Professor McGonagall appeared over her shoulder. The Scot professor was always looking stern, but this time she seemed almost furious as she looked over the two teens. "Mister Potter, your presence is required in the Headmaster's office immediately."
Harry sighed and shook his head, popping the last of his sausage into his mouth and finishing it off before rising and speaking to Hermione. 'It seems that every time I get close to uncovering more about you, something interrupts us. If I didn't know any better I would say that you're planning all of this on purpose." He gave a small smile and could barely see one on her face before it was gone. "Well, come on then, parole officer."
"Miss Granger is not required or requested for this meeting, Mister Potter, only you." McGonagall said as she stepped away from the table to allow the two teens to stand.
"On the contrary, Professor, if I believe that this is what it is, then she is a first-hand witness." He shrugged and smiled a little in Hermione's direction. "Besides, we've already established that she's the one that's supposed to be holding my leash, so it hardly seems fair for the pet to be pulling the leash holder."
McGonagall stared at the two before shrugging visibly and turning to head out of the Great Hall. It took the two teens a moment to catch up with her and to fall into step behind her a few feet. They dared not to say anything with the Professor so close, but both knew what this was about. Harry was keeping his cool demeanor in place and wiping his face of all emotion while Hermione was nearly causing her lip to bleed from how often she was chewing on it. Instinctively he reached out and took her hand, giving it a small squeeze in reassurance that it was going to be all right; instead this action caused her to meep and jump nearly three feet in the air.
At the stone gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's office, the Professor mumbled a password that caused the large hunk of stone to slide aside. Harry was curious about the password, but didn't voice anything as they moved up onto a spiral staircase that climbed upwards. The small hallway into the tower led to a single door and they were admitted after an old voice sounded from the inside. Once again, Harry had to keep from rolling his eyes at the intimidation tactics employed as they entered the large round room. It was covered in portraits that were all talking to one another or moving from one frame to the next to get a look at the occupants of the room. The people in the room were eclectic and rather ranged themselves.
Professor Snape was looking sourly at the door when they had come in, seated as he was in a chair turned to face both the large mahogany desk as well as the door at the same time. There were two other chairs sitting before the massive desk with Professor Dumbledore behind it. The old man was leaning on the desk on his elbows with his fingers propped up before his face as he surveyed those that were coming in the doorway. He nodded to McGonagall whom moved to the side to admit Harry and then Hermione; he seemed genuinely surprised to see the other girl there and looked to McGonagall first for an explanation before speaking up.
"Miss Granger, I asked to speak with Mister Potter privately. I'm sure that you have other duties to attend to before classes begin tomorrow morning." The girl had shrunk back against the farthest wall from the desk, but at her name she had nearly gone sheet white before Harry had gripped her hand.
Harry turned towards the ancient man and spoke in his emotionless voice once more. "Headmaster, I asked her to be present for these proceedings, not only is she a witness to the event that I'm sure Professor Snape has brought to your attention, but as I pointed out to both Professor McGonagall and her earlier she is my parole officer. And you always have your parole officer, or lawyer, with you if you're going to go visit with the warden."
The two Professors in the room didn't seem to get the reference, but Dumbledore's face darkened slightly as Harry had finished. "Mister Potter, you are not an inmate here and I would hardly consider your friendship with Miss Granger to be that of an official business deal like that of a parole officer."
Harry raised an eyebrow as he helped Hermione into one of the chairs and directed the stern Transfiguration Mistress into the one next to it. He hesitated and then stood between the two chairs with his hands clasped behind his back. "So you deny telling Miss Granger here that she was to befriend me and show me around the castle in the hopes that I would stay longer because of my relationship with her." As he finished everyone in the room stared blankly at him for a moment, and then he smiled and waved his hand. "It is of no consequence at the moment. If this is indeed not a prison then I can leave whenever I wish?"
Dumbledore sat back in the chair and shook his head. "I'm sorry, my dear boy, but you are required to stay here the entire school year." Snape looked about to say anything, but a hand from the old man stayed his mouth for the moment. "Barring any serious infractions of the rules of course, you can still be expelled if you are found guilty of anything heinous to warrant such an offense."
Harry shrugged and kept holding his gaze with the old man behind the desk. "However you phrase it, you still got me here and won't let me go until you're satisfied that you're done with me. Seems like I've traded one prison for another, both for something I have no control over."
Dumbledore looked about to say something when Snape slammed his fist into the arm of his chair and brought his wand up to point at the teen standing between the chairs. Harry didn't move at all and simply stared at the man at the end of the wand. "Enough of this, Headmaster. I don't care who the child is, I want him expelled for physically attacking me."
"Severus is correct, we should get to why we are all gathered here today." He leaned back in his chair and slid his half-moon spectacles slightly down his nose as he looked hard at Harry and then Hermione. "Professor Snape has leveled a serious accusation against you, Mister Potter. I would like to know why you would attack a teacher in any manner."
Hermione looked to be ready to say something, but Harry put a hand on her shoulder and she looked to him. He gave her a small smile and shook his head. When he turned back to the old man his face was a mask of calm once more. "So, Professor Snape admits that I, a teenager with no magical training up until a few weeks ago, was able to single handedly beat him in acontest?"
Snape snarled and turned on the teen, this time without drawing his wand. "I admit to no such thing, Potter. Once again your arrogance is astounding."
Harry shrugged then and turned towards the door. "Then there's nothing here to be said. If you all are done then I have other things to be doing at this time." He had made it almost to the door when Snape snapped his wand into his hand and fired off a red stunner towards his back. He twisted and the stunner impacted the door, drawing his own wand in the process.
"Gentlemen, settle down, right now." Dumbledore was standing with his own wand drawn and pointed at Harry this time. "Sit down, both of you. We still have much to discuss."
Harry slid his wand up his sleeve and regarded the two men coolly for a moment before walking back between the two chairs of McGonagall and Hermione. Both women hadn't moved since the start of the conversation, but the stern woman spoke up now. "Albus, I must protest this most sternly. Mister Potter has already pointed out that unless Severus wants to admit that he was bested then there is no reason to keep these two any longer."
"There are two other issues that we have to deal with this morning, including what Severus brought to my attention before the incident with Mister Potter." He waved to the other man whom took his seat reluctantly, but wouldn't put his wand away. "It was reported, Mister Potter, that you were out on the grounds this morning at near six o'clock, is that correct?" Dumbledore stared at Harry, his eyes twinkling slightly, but he didn't seem to really care one way or the other.
"That's correct, Sir." His voice was respectful, but still conveyed no emotion whatsoever. "I had gotten used to the schedule of exercise from being incarcerated and wish to continue." Three of the four other occupants flinched slightly at the mention of him being in prison, but Snape merely scowled even more.
"You see, Headmaster, he admits to it. And when I tried to reprimand him for breaking the rules he laughed at me and attempted to take my wand from me."
"Why would you attempt to attack Professor Snape, Harry?" Dumbledore leaned forward, staring into Harry's eyes with his own blue orbs twinkling like crazy.
"Hmm....guilty until proven innocent I see, my you people are behind the times, aren't you?" McGonagall looked about ready to say something to Harry's comment, but she was cut off when Harry began to talk anyway. "I asked Professor Snape quite nicely what rules I had broken to warrant two weeks of detention and two hundred points being lost to my house, when he could not come up with an answer he merely shouted at me and told me that I was an..." Here he paused and tapped his chin in thought. "...I believe it was an arrogant brat just like my father, or something to that effect."
"The grounds are off limits to all students until breakfast begins." McGonagall said in a crisp voice, speaking for the first time since they had come into the room. "I believe that while Severus' punishment was harsh, that you should have respected his decision, Mister Potter."
Harry nodded and gave a small smile to the woman in return. "Thank you, Professor. I would have respected his decision and punishment quite graciously had that actually been a rule." Snape leapt to his feet and immediately started shouting, mostly at Harry, but a few choice words at Dumbledore as well, none of which was very intelligible. It took a few minutes for the quiet calm to return to the room, Harry not having moved a muscle.
"Harry, it is a well-known rule that students are not permitted out onto the grounds until the official start of breakfast. I'm sure that Miss Granger informed you as such yesterday." Dumbledore waved his hand over towards Hermione whom was trying to sink even lower in her chair than possible. Harry gripped her shoulder and pulled her back upwards to sit alittle taller in it than previously.
"Really, Sir, then one wonders why the doors are magically unlocked at five thirty every morning. Or why there is no mention of such alaw in the rules and bylaws of Hogwarts? I'm sure that it's just an unwritten law that people follow out of habit and conveniently forgot to tell me." Harry shrugged and gently caressed Hermione's shoulder to smooth down her whimpering. After a moment she seemed almost calm so he continued to speak. "I've read them quite thoroughly before choosing my actions. What Professor Snape did was reprehensible, not only with his scare tactics, but his complete disregard for the rules as well."
Snape snarled under his breath. "Just expel him, Headmaster. We'll all be better off without a Potter in the castle."
Harry shrugged and gave a small smile. "Would it be better if I were to change my last name to Smith or Rosenberg? I've always wondered what I would do with my life if I was a Miller or a Blair." His introspection, which caused a small smile on Hermione's face, was stopped by Snape speaking again.
"You see what he is, Headmaster. He's as arrogant as James ever was, strutting around the castle pretending that he can break rules and make up things to keep him out of trouble." Snape leveled a finger at Harry from behind him even as he was leaning on the desk and staring at Dumbledore. "I will not teach the pawn of James Potter in my classroom."
"Severus, control yourself." McGonagall spoke from her seated position before she turned to Harry. "Mister Potter, can you prove what you say to be true?"
Harry nodded and motioned back towards the door. "I have acopy of the rules and regulations in my dorm room, but really its common sense. If the doors are unlocked at five-thirty and kept locked all during the night then why would you bar students from being out on the grounds after the doors officially open? For that matter if you really wanted to stop students from leaving onto the grounds then simply have someone stand guard at the door in the mornings, or was that what Professor Snape was supposed to be doing while lurking in the shadows like Count Dracula?" Harry dramatically swished his robe up onto his arm to hide half his face before giving a small evil laugh.
Hermione and McGonagall both looked like they were fighting back smiles and laughter while Snape was turning all sorts of colors of red. Dumbledore had settled back into his chair to stare at the people before him before he spoke. "We will leave this at a later date, but there is the final issue of your verbal sparring match with Professor Snape in the entrance hall."
Harry took on a confused look as he turned towards Hermione. "Verbal sparring match? I've been downgraded from attacking askilled Professor to shouting at him with expletives?" He shrugged and turned back to an amused looking Dumbledore and a furious Snape. "I believe I was quite calm in my confrontation with the Professor. There are numerous eye witnesses if you wish me to poll the school? At any rate, the Professor here physically assaulted me while I was trying to go to breakfast. I freely admitted that I was going to take any punishment he would give me if he told me why, when he could not he drew his wand and attempted to curse me."
"See, he admits to taking my wand from me." Snape leapt out of his chair and was shaking a finger and his wand in Harry's direction. "He admits to not listening to my authority."
Dumbledore looked like he was trying hard not to roll his eyes, so he turned towards Harry to address his next question. "I am disappointed in your handling of the situation, Harry. You should have gotten another teacher before getting into any shouting matches with Professor Snape."
Harry shook his head and muttered under his breath. Hermione and McGonagall, the two closest to him, could hear him saying. "Guilty with no evidence once again." Finally he spoke aloud. "If you would like, Professor, I can ask all the students that were in the entrance hall to queue up outside your office so that you can interview each of them separately. I believe that it was somewhere near three dozen or so, so it might take some time."
Dumbledore seemed to consider this for the longest time before he nodded and stood with his hands behind his back. "Very well, I don't see any reason to give out punishment for either of the two incidents, but Iwould strongly suggest that you not be out of bounds again, Mister Potter."
"If someone would tell me all the secret rules that aren't official I'll make sure to follow them to the non-printed and unofficial letter, warden." Harry snapped off a salute military style while Dumbledore shook his head.
"So that's it then?" Snape had stood up and was looking around the room furious. "Potter gets off scot free once again? He gets no punishment whatsoever and I'm humiliated among the students." He rounded on Harry and snarled. "Just you wait until Potions class." He stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him.
Harry clicked his tongue a little against his teeth and turned to face the other two Professors. "On a side note, you might want to get ready for the inundation of complaints about him and his supposed teaching methods." He helped Hermione to her feet and headed towards the door before the voice of the old man stopped him and he turned around.
"Why would the students complain about Severus' teaching method now and not so much in the past, Mister Potter?"
Harry gave a small smile and shrugged while he pulled Hermione through the door. His last parting comment was spoken as it echoed off the walls of the small hallway leading to the stairwell. "I reminded the Ravenclaws that Snape technically can't give out a week of detention and ahundred point deductions in a single session."
The rest of the morning was spent mostly walking around the grounds and speaking with Hermione about various things. The sun had warmed the air a little since the early start to the morning, but the harsh chill from the winter weather coming on was still in the air. Despite this, Harry walked around in a loose fitting shirt and his robes slung over his shoulder like a cape that billowed behind him slightly. He kept his hands in his pockets as they walked and he asked a few questions about the castle and the classes that they would be attending come the following morning. Hermione, in stark contrast to Harry, was bundled up to her nose with all exposed flesh completely covered by a heavy robe and scarf and even a hat pulled low over her ears.
"I just don't understand how you can stand out here in this weather dressed like that." Her voice was muffled through the several layers of clothing that she was wearing. A few times during their walk and talk session, Harry had to ask her to repeat something louder because he couldn't hear her through all the clothes that she wore.
He shrugged a little and hopped up to sit down on a large rock that overlooked much of the lake. The castle was off to the left and they were some distance from it by this time. "They don't give you much to wear in prison so I had to get used to what I had. After all that time wearing so much clothing makes me feel stifled and weighted down." He picked up a rock and easily skipped it across the pristine mirror finish of the lake. "It's also why I like to go outside as much as possible."
Hermione nodded as she sat down on the rock next to him, pulling her legs up to her chest and hugging them. "I remember hearing about that. It was all over the news that some terrorist had blown up a house and..." Her face turned beet red as she turned away from him, eyes downcast. "I'm sorry."
Harry shrugged and waved his hand a little. "No matter really, I've gotten over it. I suppose it was actually good that I got sent there." Hermione looked up at that, but Harry was staring out across the lake for a moment before he started to talk in a low voice. "At least being locked up I got three square meals a day and a good bed. True I had to learn to fight early on, but I have a feeling that with my cousin it would have happened eventually." He picked up another rock from beside him and ran his thumb over the smooth finish. "I learned how to fight, how to survive from several older boys in the center. It's where I learned what I was doing this morning and what I did to Professor Snape."
Hermione nodded as she watched him skip the stone over the lake and almost to the middle of the massive body of water before it sank under the water. "We never really know what would happen otherwise, but I can see your point." She turned to face him fully, catching his eyes as she chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. She sat stock still for a while waiting until finally she let a loud breath out. "Was it really that bad with your relatives? All the reports said that you were a vicious criminal."
Harry smiled a little and nodded as he stared at the slowly disappearing ripples that were spreading out from the point where his rock had hit only a few moments before. "The Dursleys would make up rumors about me to make themselves look better in the eyes of the neighbors. It meant everything to them to look good in the eyes of the neighbors which was why my Uncle Vernon had a new car every year and they always took Dudley on expensive outings for his birthday. They never truly loved me and I'm sure that they would have tried to stop me coming here if they could."
"It's a criminal offense to keep a child from a proper magical education. I'm just surprised that you did all of that without the help of magic in any way."
Harry smiled a little and picked up a jagged looking rock that wouldn't skip on the water no matter how hard he would throw it. "I suppose that's another of those unwritten laws that people just know about, right?" He smiled as her face turned a slight shade of red. He turned the rock over in his hands as he watched it turn in his hand slowly.
"Can you teach me?" Hermione voice was soft and almost frightened when she finally did speak. Harry looked over at her and she was staring down at the water and moving her feet a little.
"You already know more magic than I do, what could I help you with?" Harry inwardly smiled as he tried to get her to ask more fully what she really wanted.
"No, not magic. What you did with Professor Snape this morning. I've seen masters of martial arts move like that, could you teach me to protect myself like that?" She kept her eyes turned away from him, but she had to turn her head when he put a finger under her chin. He gently moved her face so that it was turned to him and he leaned in really close to her.
Harry's breath splashed across Hermione's face making it slightly warm as their faces were drawn closer together. Her eyes shone with fear as she stared at him and then made an audible swallow. He smiled and kept his finger under her chin while he spoke softly to her. "Why do you want to learn?"
Hermione's voice hitched slightly and she spoke softly in almost a whisper matching his tone. "I....I want to protect myself from the bullies here."
"You have magic, shouldn't that be enough?" Their lips were inches apart as he spoke, keeping his eyes locked on her own. Hermione shook her head quickly, but came right back to staring into his glittering green eyes.
She seemed to lose herself in his eyes as she stared into them, her voice becoming slightly monotone as she spoke. "I want to fight back, to make them hurt as much as they hurt me."
"Revenge isn't a good reason to learn defense. It has to be for yourself otherwise they'll win before the fight has even started." His voice was soft and monotone as well as he kept his gaze on her eyes.
"I want to prove to myself that I'm not weak, that I'm not acoward." Her voice carried some more conviction in it. She flinched away from his hand when Harry brought up his right hand to lightly caress her left side. He tilted his head to the side a little as he looked her face up and down before nodding.
"Very well, I'll teach you, but it won't be easy." His voice was back to normal and he leaned back away from her and watched as she shook her head as if she was coming out of a trance.
"What did you do to me?" Her voice was scared, but not threatening as she looked to him and then down to hers hands. Her hands were clutching his and shaking slightly. Immediately she let go and blushed almost to the roots of her hair as she looked away. "I've never felt so powerful before."
"It's not something that can really be learned, you have to really feel it for it to work. We'll start tomorrow morning bright and early?" He slid off the rock that they were sitting on still holding the jagged stone in his hand as he turned it over and over in his hand.
Hermione started to slide off the rock, but faltered. Harry reached out and caught her a little ways to the ground around the middle and smiled as he helped her to the ground. Her cheeks were flaming red by the time they had started back towards the castle in the distance. As they walked past a small copse of bushes Harry threw the stone in his hand over his shoulder and was rewarded with a soft thump and a low groan. Neither paid it any attention as they walked towards the castle with their hands pushed up into the folds of their clothing and walking a little closer to each other than they did when they came down.
"All right, now that I have you alone without any possibility of an interruption, would you like to tell me a little about yourself?" Harry spoke after a few yards of walking at an easy pace. He looked over and saw Hermione looking at her shoes again, but this time it looked like she was lost in thought instead of looking for an excuse.
"You really want to know more about me? And this isn't so that I'll do your homework for you later on or so that you can use it to tease me and laugh about it with Weasley?" Her voice was soft and almost a whisper, but Harry could still hear the fear laced with each word.
He shook his head as he stopped and gently pulled her to astop as well. He turned her around and made her look him in the eyes once more. "Despite what I might have told the overgrown bat and the old man, I do want to be your friend no matter what happens at the end of this year. I may joke and tease, but know that I will never say anything to hurt your feelings, only make you laugh."
She nodded for a moment and then started walking towards the castle again, Harry falling into step next to her. "I'm a muggle born, I guess that's kind of obvious. My parents are dentists and we were all rather shocked when Professor McGonagall delivered my letter saying that I was a witch and Iwas going to Hogwarts to learn magic." She giggled a little and then put ahand to her mouth with a look of horror on her face.
Harry laughed a little and shook his head. "Just because you giggle doesn't make you like your roommates. I like the sound to tell you the truth." She blushed deeply just as they were reaching the doors to the castle and they turned towards the Great Hall where lunch was just starting. "Go on, you were saying."
She seemed lost in thought for a moment before she spoke again. "I was remembering when Professor McGonagall came to deliver my letter. We didn't believe her of course, this strange woman in really odd dress telling their eleven year old daughter that she was going to learn magic. None of us really took her seriously until she turned a small glass into a bird that circled twittering around the room before landing on my dad's head." She gave a small giggle as they sat down at the end of the long red and gold table and loading up their plates with everything within reach.
Harry smiled a little and nodded as he thought back on his short adventures with magic. "I remember before I was sent to the center the time that my cousin was chasing me and I ended up on the school roof." He chuckled a little and shook his head as he loaded up on some vegetables. "The school was furious that I had gotten up there, and more so that I couldn't tell them what I had done to get up there in the first place."
Hermione gave a small smile as she looked up at the flock of owls that had come into the large hall that was quickly filling up with students. "That's odd, most of the time the post waits until the morning. Iguess so many parents thought that things were important enough to send now and not wait."
Harry shrugged and was going to tuck back into his plate when a beautiful white owl landed on the table between him and Hermione. The owl stared at him for a moment with a scathing look and then imperiously stuck her leg out to the side all the while keeping her eyes on Harry's. "All right, all right, I get it." He smiled a little and the owl gave what could be atriumphant hoot when he removed the letter securely attached to her leg. Sneaking a few rashers of bacon the owl took flight and disappeared back out the small hole in the ceiling for owls. "Cheeky flying rodent, isn't she?"
Hermione gave a small smile and went back to her breakfast as Harry unrolled the parchment and started to read. She looked up at his groan and saw his eyes flashing down the table a little before she asked. "What's the matter?"
Harry shook his head as he looked back to the letter. "Just some things that need to be worked out, nothing to worry yourself over." Printed in neat handwriting was a letter from his summer fling.
Hey lover boy,
I guess I should get it out into the open that unless you're getting into some things that you shouldn't, and I wouldn't mind knowing about it even if you were, that you should know about what's being said behind your back. Apparently both Ronald and Ginny have been writing back to their mother here at "you know where" telling her all about how they are getting closer to "The Boy Who Lived." She's gushing all the time how her "little girl is going to fulfill her wildest dreams before she's even seventeen." Ugh...I felt like I was going to barf with how she was going on and on about wedding bells.
Now, as I said, unless you have something that you're not telling me then you might want to try and straighten out these mongrels. Ihave some ideas, but I'll leave it mostly up to you for the time being. If you want me to continue snooping, which I have no problem doing, just ask and I'll tell you all the dirty little secrets going on here.
On a more personal note, I do have to admit that my bed has been quite lonely last night. I've taken to sleeping in your old room on occasion, don't laugh, because it still smells like us. I found one of the larger of your shirts that wasn't pilfered by a certain red headed skank and have taken to wearing it when I go to bed. I've included a few pictures to keep you going until we can be together again, wink wink. I know that I told you I want you to pursue other witches, or wizards if that's your fancy, and Istill stand by that, but it doesn't mean that I can't want what we had.
Loves and Kisses,
P.S. If you ever show these pictures to anyone without an unbreakable vow never to talk about it ever again then I will castrate you.
Harry slid the parchment out of the way to view the top of the three photos included. The first was relatively tame with her wearing one of his long sleeved shirts that looked to come down to her thighs and she had to pull the sleeves up to look at him. The photo smiled at him and winked, giving a saucy sway of the hips before putting her hands on them. She was in her natural form for all three of the photos, the other two being a little more racy than the first. He hid all three of them vowing to look at them a little more closely later on and to see just what kind of limits of the photo would be. He looked up and caught an odd look in Hermione's eyes just before a blinding flash went off causing him to slid his wand into his hand and point it down the table immediately.
His sight slowly returning to him, Harry could make out a small fourth year standing nearby holding an old antique looking camera. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet making the sandy brown hair bounce up and down with him a little as well as if he were in awindstorm. All along the table people were blinking as their sight slowly returned, but no one had seemed to notice where the flash had come from as fast as Harry had. When he turned towards the small boy the boy let out a small whimpering noise between a moan and a squeak before launching into a very high pitched voice that talked rapidly.
"Hi Harry, I'm Collin Creevey, my brother and I are both in Gryffindor, just like you. Would you sign a photo if I take one of you?" The boy was bouncing and speaking so fast that half of his words began to run together. Harry reached out and touched him on the top of the head; immediately the boy stopped moving but his eyes grew glassy in a moment.
"Does he have a mute button or should I just say yes?" Harry spoke to Hermione across the table from him even as he kept his hand on the boy's head. He could feel the small boy start to tremble so he removed his hand from him and wiped it on a napkin nearby.
"Collin, where did you get that camera?" Hermione spoke with a little more confidence than she obviously felt as her hands were trembling slightly.
"My dad sent it to me when I told him that the famous Harry Potter was in school finally. I had thought that you would be here when I got here a few years ago, but when you didn't show I had to give the camera back. I even know how to develop the photos so that the people move in them." Again, the boy spoke so fast that about half of his words were lost to the people sitting at the table. Several boys were sniggering behind hands at the boy's request while some of the girls were smoothing down robes or hair as if Harry was going to ask them to pose with him.
"Collin, I don't give out photos, signed or not." He saw that the boy's eyes were starting to droop in disappointment and he groaned alittle. "Tell you what, if you can get the entire Gryffindor fifth years together, boys and girls for a photo, and get them all to sign it then I'll do it as well." He turned back towards Hermione and opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off by a drawl from behind him.
"Is this true, the great Harry Potter giving out autographs? I guess we should all line up and get out our pocketbooks, boys." The snickers were low and drawling as well and Harry didn't have to look up to know who was behind him once more. Hermione's eyes got really big and the color seemed to drain from her face.
"Draco, as a prefect-" She started to say, but she was interrupted by the blonde boy standing behind Harry.
"Sod off, mudblood, no one asked you." He snapped causing her to crumple down into her seat as Harry stood and looked the boy in the eye. Malfoy seemed unwilling to look at him in the eye after a moment though and adopted a small silky voice. "I gave you a break before because our fathers knew one another in school, but cavorting with mudbloods and giving out autographs is....so common."
Harry smiled and crossed his arms over his chest as he stared down the smaller boy. Malfoy still wouldn't meet his eyes as he smirked a little and leaned in close. "I don't particularly care who you think you are or who your father is." Malfoy sputtered for a moment before Harry caught his eye finally and he quieted down. He looked to the side and caught the eyes of the black haired girl, Pansy he thought her name was; she seemed frozen by his stare and even shuddered a little before he looked back to Draco. "You're apetty bully and nothing more, all talk and no real action. I would be surprised if you even knew how to curse someone facing you alone in a real duel."
Malfoy didn't move as Harry turned, picked up his things from the bench and motioned to Hermione with his head. When she was unresponsive he moved around the end of the table, close to the Head Table as they were, took her hand and lead her slowly out of the Great Hall and towards the staircase that lead back up to Gryffindor Tower. The entire time they were walking neither said anything and Malfoy didn't come after them. Weasley had tried to stand and congratulate him on shutting down the blonde ponce, but Harry simply walked past him, still dragging Hermione behind him. It wasn't until they had reached the hallway leading towards the portrait that Hermione recovered and pulled back from him, digging her heels into the floor to ground them both to a stop.
"Hold on. Hold on. I want to talk about what just happened." She said quickly as they both stopped near a painting of a mermaid that seemed to take a great interest in their conversation.
"He insulted you so I stood up to him and shut him down. What else is there to really know?" He tilted his head to the side a little and muttered almost to himself. "Need to see the real you."
Hermione was taken aback for a moment before shaking her head and holding up her hands a little in defense. "I saw all of that, but Iwanted to know how you did it." Harry shrugged and she blew out an exasperated sigh before realizing what she was doing and looking down at her shoes again.
Harry shook his head as he gently touched her shoulder, making her flinch a little. "Hermione, look at me." When she still refused to do so he gently put a finger under her chin and forced her to look into his eyes, just as he had done down by the lake. "Now, I defended you because you're my friend. As to how I did it, it's just simply psychology at work. Draco is nothing more than a bully that uses his name and his friends to make people do what he wants them to do. You'll notice that he never goes anywhere without at least three or four people around him at all times." He smiled alittle. "Now come on, I need a shower and I'm not sure that my virtue is safe with Collin Creepy around."
"Creevy." Hermione corrected almost automatically before his words seemed to process in her head and her face turned red.
"That does remind me though. I know that the girl's dorms are protected against males entering them, but what about the other way around?" Hermione looked up lost for a moment so Harry continued to talk. "If a girl, say....a stalker, wanted to get me in the shower naked and alone, could she climb the stairs?"
Once again Hermione's face turned beet red and she looked at her shoes. After scuffing her toe into the stone for a moment her voice spoke slightly meek. "There's no protection against girls coming into a boy's dorm. I doubt you would have that problem...." Her voice broke off as she heard Harry chuckling. "You're making fun of me."
Harry shook his head and sighed as he gently touched her shoulder again, this time without her flinching away. "Hermione, I'm famous and if I might say so rather desirable." He waved off her look and shook his head. "That's not my ego talking, it's true. You told me yourself that your roommates were trying to get after me and I have on rather good authority that there is at least one girl determined enough to sneak into my bed at night without my consent."
A small giggle drew both teens to look at the painting between them. The mermaid was sunning herself on a rock with her long red locks covering her breasts at the moment. She giggled more when she had their attention. "He's right, deary, he is quite the dish. If you don't want to help him out then I'm sure I can." She flipped over and disappeared into the waves for a moment until only her head was bobbing up and down in the small current. There was a soft click and then the entire portrait started to swing outwards revealing a room behind it.
"You're not supposed to open to anyone except those with apassword." Hermione hissed to the portrait as Harry was already moving behind it to the room beyond. The small opening was in a circular wall that opened up to a larger room that he stood in awe of.
The room was about twenty feet across with white stone as the flooring and directly in front of him was a large bathtub sunk into the floor. It was at least ten feet wide and circular like the room with several brass taps lined up in the center line a small island. A bench ran the length of the wall on his right that started next to a small doorway. Upon inspection the door opened into a small locker room where it looked like people would be able to change in and out of clothes with a row of stalls that had individual shower heads. When he came out of the locker room Hermione was standing next to the now closed portrait chewing on her bottom lip.
"It's the prefects' bath." She said with a sigh sitting down on the curved bench and bringing her legs up to rest on the edge of it. Harry moved around to sit next to her and tried to encourage her on. "The portrait isn't supposed to open to anyone without a password, but apparently she seemed to think you might need this."
"This is a bathroom?" Harry asked as he swept his hand around the room looking at the large tub in the floor.
Hermione nodded and sighed. "The loo is in the locker room, but this is mostly it. I haven't actually used it myself, I prefer the bathrooms in the tower, but I've heard stories." Her face went red once again as she stammered a little. "At any rate, the portrait doesn't open again if someone is in here unless the person within the room allows it."
Harry smiled and walked to the closed portrait, whispered something and then came to sit back down next to Hermione. "If you want to take a rather luxurious bath right now, I promise not to look."