Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 9– Beneath The Stars Above
Harry set the pins down in a neat evenly spaced row across the flat surface and then worked his way back along the length of the table returning each one to the former book it had originally been before his accidental magic. Once done he collected the books in a stack before moving them to one of the adjacent tables that still had room, adding the books to those currently stacked there. In what had now become a well-practiced routine, the emerald eyed boy returned to the first table and laid out another set of pins to start the process all over once again. As Harry worked, his thoughts returned to the events from earlier that afternoon. He recalled being more surprised than frightened upon seeing the Potions Master standing behind after getting off the broom. When told to come by the man there was little he could but obey.
Following the billowing hem of his Head of House's robes as they marched back towards the castle gave Harry more than enough time to wonder what had ever possessed him to speak up and act so brashly. What was I thinking? he wondered silently as he hurried to keep up with the longer strides of the Professor before him. I should have just kept my mouth shut and let Malfoy have the thing. I'm sure he would have grown tired of it sooner or later and given it back.Harry's hand unconsciously dropped to his side, patting the bulge of the glass and metal object that rested snugly within one of the inner pockets of his robes.
Even as his thoughts asked him why he had acted in the manner he had, his own conscious told him why. Being on the receiving end of such bullying and disparaging remarks is something no one should have to deal with. He understood that he could have run away as well as left it alone. After all it was not like he personally knew the Longbottom boy, though he did have a passing acquaintance with the boy's toad after the train ride that had brought them both to Hogwarts. I just couldn't stand to see someone else treated like me even though I knew I would be better off without saying or doing anything.
Growing up it had not taken him long to realize the benefit of avoiding direct confrontations with his larger and stronger cousin. Speaking out only meant a longer beating. Fighting back meant even worse as at that point Dudley could claim self-defense and did not need to hold back at all. So why did I suddenly decide to say something? Granted, Malfoy is certainly no Dudley, Harry mused as his larger cousin was easily twice as heavy as the blonde Slytherin. The fact that both the Crabbe and Goyle boys were never far from the Malfoy boy's side did not escape Harry's notice. You don't have to be big if you have two larger boys next to you ready to follow your every command.
Harry couldn't help but wonder if this incident would lead to him being expelled from Hogwarts and forced to return once more to the Dursleys. Not only was I flying after specifically being told not to do so by Madam Hooch but I was also fighting with Malfoy! Harry sighed heavily as they entered the castle and hastily made their way towards the stairs leading down to the Dungeons. The dark haired wizard was certain that this latest event, coupled with the incident in the library, would be more than enough to see him on a one way train ride back to London.
The pair of them hastened down the stairs and through the hallways within the Dungeon, passing the hidden entrance to the Slytherin common room and making a direct line for the Professor's own office. "Inside, Potter," Severus snapped as he stopped at the door and motioned the boy to enter before him only afterwards following him and closing the door.
The office, much like the potions classroom, was rather gloomy with a large oak desk set in one corner. There were windows placed high up upon the walls which made them more or less at ground height on the outside of the castle. The ceiling itself was rather high, which was a good thing as there were numerous roots and other plant-like items hanging from the rafters to dry.
The walls were covered in shelves that held such a vast and varied array of jars and containers as to make it almost unbelievable. Some of them Harry could see into and realized that there were animals and other ingredients that would most likely be used in the brewing of potions. There were several other doors near the back of the office which the boy assumed led to the Professor's private quarters.
Harry's first breath within the Potion Master's office nearly overwhelmed him. There was such a mixture of scents in the room that it was impossible to identify any one of them as they all seemed to blend together creating a smell that was uniquely its own. Instead the odor served to almost intoxicate his senses, making him slightly light headed till he grew accustom to it.
There was a low bench along one wall that had several cauldrons simmering upon it. Each was giving off a thin tendril of smoke, each of aunique color, which wound its way sluggishly into the air and added to the stifling heaviness of the room in general. The office was nearly exactly what he would have expected a Potions Master's to be, complete with a candle perched precariously atop the summit of a human skull.
Harry quickly moved to the empty space before the large oak desk and stood there with his eyes cast to the ground. He was fairly certain that this was not going to be pleasurable in any sense of the word. The boy's only consolation was the realization that he would probably be sleeping back in his cupboard by the end of the day. He had little doubt that he would be beaten and bruised upon arriving home, but he would once again be back to what was familiar and normal or what passed for it in his world.
"Of all the reckless, irresponsible and utterly childish actions!" Snape started in a loud voice even before he had rounded the desk to take his seat and glare at the black mass of unruly hair standing before him. "You're just as arrogant and disrespecting of the rules as your father was!" Snape growled as he momentarily replaced the image of the eleven year old boy before him with an older version of James Potter when they had both attended Hogwarts at the same time.
"Whatever possessed you to jump upon your broom and decide to go for a joy-fly while Madam Hooch was away?" Snape enquired. "Surely there had to be something that sparked this idiocy?"
Harry pondered his reply for a long moment, uncertain of just how to respond. A life time of not talking back, or not even talking at all, was ahard habit to overcome. The few times he had attempted to defend himself to his uncle against Dudley's accusation had only seen him beaten for 'lying' and trying to get his cousin in trouble as well. This usually resulted in his subsequently being locked within his cupboard with no food or water for several days and only abucket to relieve himself in. It didn't take long for him to learn that silence was the best defense there was. Better to take whatever punishment was coming, there was always one coming, than open his mouth and add to it.
Harry glanced up through his bangs and saw that the Professor was waiting for his reply. "No Sir. No reason," Harry finally mumbled barely loud enough for the Potions Master to hear.
"Think the rules don't apply to you because you're some celebrity, do you Potter?" Snape asked in a voice heavy with scorn only to see the mass of black strands swish back and forth as the boy shook his head in denial. "Just because you're The-Boy-Who-Lived does not mean you can do anything you want! You're no different than any other student attending school here. Do you understand me, boy?"
Hearing the word /boy/used in such a manner and tone brought to mind all too clearly his uncle Vernon. The young Slytherin could clearly depict the large man leaning over him, face a terrible shade of red and purple, as he spat out the word as if it left a foul taste in his mouth. Harry nodded slightly and then flinched away from the man behind the desk as Snape slammed his hand down loudly upon the desktop in anger.
"Look at me when I am speaking to you!" Snape yelled."I see we'll have to add disrespectful to your long list of reprehensible behavior as well." The Head of Slytherin House proceeded to tear into the boy for several very long minutes concerning his behavior and perceived disrespect of everything from the rules to the school and the Potions Master himself. Severus paused, took a deep breath, and tried to calm himself as he stared at the student before his desk who was even now visibly fighting the urge to drop his eyes to the floor once more, only marginally being able to look at him as instructed to do so.
"You could have…," the Potions Master quickly caught himself before he finished saying that he could have been hurt. The fact that he stopped himself from voicing it did not lessen the possibility that the boy could have been seriously injured or even worse. Once again Severus saw the vision of another person, this time with green eyes, standing before him where the boy was. Her red wavy hair cascading down across her shoulders caused Severus' chest to ache once with an all too familiar pain. This is Lily's son, he reminded himself. "…hurt one of the other students, if not several of them with your recklessness," he quickly recovered with in a much calmer voice.
Snape cleared his throat as he sat back in his seat to regard the boy sternly for several long moments as well as to allow himself to regain control over his thoughts. He didn't try to blame someone else, the Potions Master thought to himself, knowing there was more to the story than the boy was saying.
Severus had been walking along the hallway on his way to the Headmaster's office when he had glanced out a window only to see Draco hanging by his hands from a broom and Harry speeding along the ground at a dangerous speed. Hastening out a door he had witnessed the boy on the broom pull up and spin about only to catch a small object with one hand.
Had this been his father he would have no doubt had some glib comment or humorous anecdote to offer in the defense of his actions. The potions Professor was certain the Malfoy boy was involved in some manner as well. The fact that Harry didn't automatically try to position the blame on the other boy said a great deal about the dark haired wizard. "How very un-Slytherin," Snape drawled softly to himself.
"Five points from Slytherin and detention tonight," the Slytherin Head of House said aloud to Harry.
Harry's eyes grew slightly rounder as he heard his punishment, having expected far worse than what he had just been told. "I have Astronomy tonight Sir," he informed his Head of House of in a meek voice, fearing his words would set the Potions Mater off once again.
"Then we will make if for directly after breakfast in the morning," Severus replied. "Yes, I think that will work out much better. If you get caught once again so flagrantly disregarding the rules I'll see to it that you're out of here quicker than you can say Hogwarts! Do I make myself understood, Mr. Potter?"
Harry nodded vigorously that he understood, only to see the Professor make a shooing gesture towards the door. Not needing to be told twice, and recognizing a dismissal when he saw one, the dark haired wizard beat a hasty retreat for the library and the basket of pins that still needed returning to their original form.
Harry gave a mental chuckle and wondered not for the first time just how he had gotten off so easily for such a flagrant violation of the rules. The only answer he could come up with was the fact that the Professor who had caught him had been his own Head of House. Not wanting to deduct more points than he would have to from his own House, Professor Snape had gone easy on him. /That has to be why/, Harry thought to himself as he set out another row of pins and began to change them back into books.
"Hi Harry," said the voice of a certain bushy haired Gryffindor witch. "I thought I might find you here."
Harry looked to the side and offered a small smile to Hermione upon confirming it was her. "How did the rest of the lesson go?"
"Madam Hooch was a little surprised by your absence when she returned," Hermione told him. "Of course Malfoy was more than happy to tell her that Professor Snape had taken you away after catching you riding your broom," the young witch added with a hint of anger in her tone at the blonde boy's actions. "You wouldn't even have been in the air if it hadn't been for him!"
"It's alright," Harry replied with a dismissing shrug of his shoulders before he used his wand to restore the books from their current pin state.
"No, it is most certainly is not alright," Hermione corrected him as she watched him with a small amount of envy at how effortlessly he seemed to change the pins back to books. "He's a prat who thinks himself better than others!" she added as her soft brown eyes followed the movement of his wand in an attempt to learn the spell he was utilizing.
"Some people just can't help be the way they are," Harry offered in counter to her words as he set his wand down and gathered up the books into a stack before lifting them and walking towards the still empty shelves.
Hermione was quick to grab an arm full of books from the nearest table and follow after him. "That doesn't make it alright for him to be that way, Harry. It's not fair that you got into trouble while nothing happened to him."
Harry shrugged as much as one could with an arm-load of books as he led the way. "Little in life is fair, Hermione," he said over his shoulder. "I would think a bright witch such as yourself would know that," he added in a slightly teasing tone of voice.
Hermione's cheeks turned pink even as she smiled. He thinks I'm bright!"That still doesn't make it right, Harry." The boy ahead of her only grunted in agreement as they turned a corner and walked down the row of shelves. "What….what punishment did Professor Snape give you," the young witch hesitantly asked.
Harry stopped before a series of shelves that already had several books upon it. Resting the books he was carrying on the edge of a lower shelf he began placing the books one at a time upon the higher shelf. "I lost Slytherin five points and have detention after breakfast tomorrow morning," he told her honestly. "I had expected far worse," Harry confided in her as he placed the last of his books on the shelf and began taking the ones from her arms.
Hermione's brow creased as she listened to his words. "But Harry we have Astronomy tonight," she said in a slightly puzzled yet thoughtful tone, to which the boy before her simply nodded in agreement. "We won't get to bed till terribly late as class is not over till two-thirty in the morning. You'll barely get any rest."
Harry took the last book from her and set it on the shelf before the two of them turned and retraced their steps, walking side by side."I'll be fine. Uncle Vernon says I'm young and shouldn't need more than acouple hours of sleep," Harry told her as they walked back towards the table. "Three or four hours should be more than enough," he replied in a reassuring tone as they reached their goal.
Hermione wasn't certain if he was right or not but didn't want to push the issue, fearful that she might offend him. The young witch had been told so many times by her own parents that it was essential for a growing girl to get at least eight hours of sleep every night that she accepted it as atruth. She doubted the need for adequate sleep was different for a boy of her own age. "Are you sure?" she enquired as she watched him set out another row of pins.
Harry nodded with a smile as he turned and looked at her. "I rarely get more than that at home," he said as he moved his hand in the required gesture to transfigure the pins back to books. "Sometimes even less than that and it hasn't seemed to hurt me yet." Turning back the dark haired boy moved to start stacking the books to make room for others.
"Harry?" Hermione said in a questioning tone as her eyes were glued to the books upon the table that he was currently stacking without thought. "Did you just transfigure those pins back to books?" she asked in a disbelieving tone.
"Yes. Madam Pince showed me how to do it," Harry replied, not catching the tone of her question. "I told you that last night I believe. I've done it so many times now that I think I could do it in my sleep," he chuckled at the thought of doing just that. "I've probably changed back over a thousand books so any more I can do it without even thinking about it."
"…or without a wand," Hermione said in a slightly awed voice as her brown eyes looked from the books to Harry's wand which still lay upon the table.
"What?" Harry asked as he looked towards his wand."I did use it, see? It's right there where I set it down when I was done with it. It's a routine. Set the pins down, pick up the wand and transfigure. Set the wand down, pick up the books and take them to the shelves. Return and place the pins again and…," Harry shrugged, his slim shoulders rising in falling even as crooked grin appeared on his face, "repeat till finished."
"No," Hermione insisted as she slowly shook her head,"I'm certain I just saw you transfigure those pins with only your hand, Harry."
"I think you were just distracted because we were talking. Iwish I could do that," he told her, "but it's just not possible. Here, I'll prove it." Pushing the now stacked books to one side he reached into the basket and fished out several pins before placing them on the table top. Raising his hand he went through the wand motions and nothing happened."See, nothing," he said to reiterate his point. Seeing her still skeptical look he reached over and taking his wand up quickly transfigured the pins. "Can't be done without my wand."
"I…I guess," the young witch finally said though her tone clearly indicated that she still wasn't certain.
Harry reached over to the basket and pulled out a single pin, offering it to her. "Hold out your hand," he instructed her with agrin. After gently laying the pin in Hermione's palm he effortlessly transfigured it with his wand.
Hermione's arched a brow in question as she looked down at the book on Ancient Runes that was suddenly in her hand and then back up at Harry."What's this?" she enquired.
"The last one," Harry told her as he held up the now empty basket while grinning widely at the witch.
"He shows the same disregard for the rules as his father did," Severus sneered as he seated himself in the chair before the Headmaster's desk. "Flying about as if he could do as he pleased and none would oppose him. He's only been here a few days and he has already put on airs!"
"I understand there was more to it than that, Severus," Albus interjected with a slight twinkle in his blue eyes. The Potion Master of Hogwarts had marched into his office several minutes before to inform him of the actions of Harry. The Headmaster was content to allow the younger man to vent for a bit. Well aware of the hatred Severus carried for young Harry's father, Albus could do little but try to point out that the first year student was Lily's son as well.
Severus waved his hand as if dismissing the Headmaster's words."Some story about retrieving an object another boy had taken," the Potion Master offered as he glanced about the office. The Headmaster's office was filled with more curious objects and gadgets than any other place in the entire castle, which was saying something considering the learning aids some classes sported. It never failed to amaze Severus just what the aged wizard had collected over his long life.
"Mr. Malfoy I believe," Albus inserted gently. The Headmaster was well aware of the Head of Slytherin House's penchant to overlook the wrong doing of those within his own house. Many a student as well as several other professors had complained however Albus believed that life was aseries of lessons and not all of them were good ones. A biased professor was just one of many that the students of Hogwarts would learn during their time here till they completed their N.E.W.T.s. Life was seldom ever fair and the sooner they learned that lesson the better prepared they would be for life outside the walls of the castle.
"I did not see Draco take the item," Severus stated in defense of his actions, not entirely certain there even was an item. I should have asked Potter for it!"I did however see him hanging from his broom after Potter raced past him, knocking him from his seat! Reckless endangerment of a fellow student must not be tolerated, Headmaster."
"Did you actually see Harry remove Mr. Malfoy from his seat?" Albus asked. The Potions Master would not meet the older man's eyes but did shack his head once that he had not. "Was Mr. Malfoy also suitably punished?" Albus asked. Upon seeing the questioning look upon the other man's face the Headmaster explained, "Was he not also on his broom when expressly told not to be? One would think that he too was then disregarding the rules as you aptly point out young Harry was."
"I will see that Draco also receives proper punishment," Severus offered in a neutral tone. It did not please him to have to punish yet another member of his house but at the time he did not see any way to avoid having to do so.
"As none of this would have transpired had not Mr. Malfoy first decided to keep Mr. Longbottom's property I would think that he should receive similar punishment as given to Mr. Harry Potter," Albus stated with a small knowing smile as he watched his Potions Master.
"I shall see to it, Headmaster," Severus promised barely keeping the grimace from his features. "As to my first request?" Upon first entering the Headmaster's office the Head of Slytherin House had requested something which had led to the explanation for the request and the subsequent divulgence of the events that had transpired during the flying class.
"You feel that Young Harry is reckless and has a certain disregard for the rules and yet you still wish to request this exception?" Albus asked, already knowing the answer he would receive. The Headmaster's eyes twinkled merrily as he watched the man seated before him squirm ever so slightly in his chair. Albus knew just how hard it was for Severus to ask this.
"I'm not a stupid man," Severus opened with as he gathered his thoughts and braced himself for his next words, knowing they would leave a foul taste in his mouth. "If he is half as good as his father was I would be a fool not to have him on my team."
"I do not believe anyone would venture to call you a fool, Severus," Albus replied with a small smile, pleased to see that the dark haired professor was able to look past the parents to see the child instead…even if only just this once. He, perhaps more than anyone else alive, well knew the Potion Master's dislike for the young boy's father, even after all of these years. "Very well, I shall leave young Harry in your capable hands, Severus."
The Potions Master stood and tilted his head slightly, "Thank you, Headmaster." Without further word the dark haired Professor turned and hurried from the room.
Albus leaned forward and lifting the lid from his ever present candy bowl selected a lemon drop, popping it into his mouth even as he set the lid down once again to its former location. "Enjoy your childhood, Harry," he spoke softly to the emptiness of the room, "for I fear it shall be taken from you far sooner than any of us would like." To the side of the Headmaster's desk Fawkes let out a mournful trill as if in agreement.
Harry stayed in the library and did his schoolwork at the same table as Hermione before the two of them made their way down to the great hall for the evening meal. Harry separated from the bushy haired witch at the main doors and made his way to the far end of the Slytherin table before seating himself and serving his usual small portions of food. While he knew he could serve himself more to eat, he had lived off this amount for so long that he found it to be more than adequate for his nourishment. Don't want to start looking like Dudley, he told himself.
The-Boy-Who-Lived quickly finished his meager meal and, after pocketing an apple, made his way from the great hall, intending to return to the library and read over the chapter for that night's lesson. Tonight was to be their first Astronomy class with Professor Sinistra and he really didn't know what to expect. As he walked through the large double doors of the hall he noticed that the doors leading outside were still open and decided that some fresh air might be nice to clear him head some.
The young wizard's wandering feet soon lead him down from the entrance of the castle along a cobble stoned pathway that led down towards Black Lake. Upon reaching the edge of the lake, he continued along the shore line at a leisurely pace. The steady lapping of the small waves against the shore was surprisingly soothing and relaxing. As Harry walked his thoughts once again returned to the library and what Hermione had said.
Harry gave voice to his thoughts as he softly spoke aloud to himself, "I couldn't have done that without a wand," he mused in aquestioning tone of voice. As he tried to recall what he had done exactly, he found that his memory wasn't very clear. He really wasn't surprised that he couldn't remember. "After the first hundred or so books they all just sort of blurred together from there on out," he said, maintaining his one sided conversation with himself. "Can magic even be done without a wand?" he wondered.
The emerald-eyed boy paused for a moment and decided to test once again if he could do magic without his wand. His eyes spied a small stone laying at the water's edge, "that should do nicely," he reasoned, deciding the small stone would work for what he wanted to try. "It may not be a feather, however it should work I think," Harry told himself as he concentrated upon the small stone. Raising his hand he flicked and swished it as if he was holding his wand, "Wingardium Leviosa!" he intoned, commanding the stone to rise, as he watched his hand to ensure the gestures were correct. The stone steadfastly remained where it was. "I guess I should have known," he tried to console himself as his shoulders sagged and he lowered his hand back to his side.
"Harry?" questioned a deep male voice behind him.
The young wizard spun about with a look of embarrassment upon his features and his cheeks flushed at being caught attempting to do something he wasn't even certain could be done. "Hagrid!" Harry exclaimed upon confirming who it was, though he was already fairly certain from the voice alone.
"What are you doing out here by yourself, Harry?" the Grounds Keeper of Hogwarts enquired while glancing about to see if anyone else was near that he might have missed.
"Just out for a walk is all," Harry replied, hoping the half-giant hadn't seen him attempting to cast wandless magic. "I have astronomy tonight and thought a bit of fresh air might help keep me awake," the boy offered in way of explanation.
"Mind if I walk with ya then?' Hagrid asked. Upon seeing the boy nod his acceptance the overly large man fell in beside the boy and the two of them started walking along the shore of the lake. "How are you settling in, Harry?" Hagrid finally broached the question he had wanted to ask after they had walked a ways in silence.
"Alright I reckon," Harry replied. "Not much different than being at home actually," he added upon recalling the mud found in his bed. It felt nice to be with Hagrid and the steady sound of the water was still relaxing. The Half-giant was the first person from the magical world that he had met. While he didn't want to admit it to himself, deep inside Harry considered the easy-speaking giant of a man to be as close to a friend as anyone could be.
"And the other boys in your house treating you alright?" enquired the bushy bearded giant with a heavy trace of concern in his tone. Hagrid was as shocked as anyone else when Harry had been sorted into Slytherin and had been worried about the boy ever since.
Harry shrugged, his small shoulders rising and falling quickly."They mostly leave me alone," the boy stated as he looked down at the path before his feet. "Why do you ask?" Harry had heard the strange tone in the man's voice but never having heard anyone express concern for his wellbeing before, he wasn't certain exactly what it meant.
"On 'ccount of 'em bein Slytherin and all," Hagrid confessed, his words still containing a trace of worry for the small boy.
"Why would their house make a difference, Hagrid?" Harry asked, puzzled by the large man's response. Hagrid stayed quiet for several long minutes. Harry glanced to his side and noted the worried expression on the Grounds Keeper's face.
"Well, it may not be my place ta say," Hagrid opened with, "but those in Slytherin tend ta be mostly of the Pureblood types and they don't usually mix well with others. They hardly mix well with'emselves," he added after giving it a thought for a moment.
"I've heard some rumors about Slytherin House and all but Ididn't pay them much mind." Harry walked a few feet further before he continued. "Why is it that Slytherin has such a bad reputation, Hagrid?"
"Mostly due to those of pureblood believing they're better'an others. The older families, with a few exceptions mind ya, tend to treat others as lesser beings. Well that and the fact that there hasn't been a dark witch or wizard 'at's gone bad that wasn't from Slytherin," the half-giant finished with.
"Does that mean I'll have to go dark too?" Harry asked with large frightened eyes and a bit of fear in his voice.
"No, course not, Harry!" Hagrid quickly replied to alleviate the boy's fears. "Not all Slytherins go dark." Hagrid's brow creased in thought for a moment before he continued. "There are those'at go on to live respectable lives. Ain't no house here perfect, mind you, Harry. It's just that within the past few centuries those witches and wizards that 'ave turned to the Dark Arts 'ave all been from one house."
"Slytherin," Harry said as the half-giant next to him nodded in agreement. No wonder everyone dislikes us, Harry mused to himself. The rumors he had heard previously were that everyone disliked Slytherins and Slytherins hated everyone who wasn't part of their house.
"Still, that's only a handful of them at best, Harry, so no need to fear that for yerself," Hagrid said. "I think perhaps the reason that Slytherin House is looked upon in such a manner is because it is different from the other houses."
"How so?" Harry asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. While he understood the House system used at Hogwarts, he didn't know much about his own house and felt that this might be a good time to learn something about it. Hagrid, having been at the school for some time, could prove to be a valuable source of information.
"Well," Hagrid paused for a moment to gather his thoughts before he continued, "Each house is known for their own attributes. Ravenclaw favors those who are exceptionally bright and wise. Hufflepuff cherishes loyalty and hard work above all else. Gryffindor's are known for their bravery and courage." Hagrid paused and looked down to the boy next to him as they walked. "I was certain you would have been aGryff. Still can't believe that the Headmaster let the ruddy hat sort you as it did."
"Why's that?" Harry asked.
"On the count of yer Mom and Dad were both Gryffindors, Harry," Hagrid told him. "Weren't two more courageous people I 'ave ever known than them two. Standing up to You-Know-Who and all. They saved many a lives before he got to them."
"You mean Voldemort?" Harry said in a questioning tone only to be hushed by the large man next to him.
"People be fearin' ta say his name," Hagrid told the confused eleven year old. "On account of some believe that to say his name will call his attention to ya."
"But I thought he was dead?" Harry questioned as his own brow creased in confusion. "Didn't he die when I got this scar?" Harry asked as he reached up and touched the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. "It's just a name after all."
Hagrid glanced around them at the gathering dusk to make certain they were alone. "There be some that think he will return," Hagrid nodded as if to emphasize his words when he heard Harry gasp in surprise."But you 'ave nothin to worry bout, Harry. Albus Dumbledore is here and as long as he is You-Know-Who won't be coming about. Ain't a stronger wizard or witch alive than Professor Dumbledore," the half-giant assured the boy in a tone boarding on hero worship.
"What about Slytherin? What is it known for?" Harry asked returning the conversation back to the topic they had been discussing. Harry felt a shiver of fear upon hearing that Voldemort might return, but he knew there was little he could do about it at this time. Those kind of things were better left to the adults to handle. I'm just a kid after all. What could I possibly do that the Headmaster couldn't do much better?
"Slytherin's are well known for being ambitious and cunning," Hagrid replied, grateful to be off the topic of a certain Dark Lord. "What sets them apart from the other Houses 'ere at Hogwarts is the fact that the other three houses look after their own."
"You mean like Professor McGonagall said that first evening?That our house was like our family," Harry offered as he puzzled it out in his own mind. Even though his understanding of family was more than slightly skewed from the norm, he was fairly certain the aged professor had not meant that they were to be like the Dursleys.
"That's just so," Hagrid said in agreement,"however unlike the other Houses, Slytherin's only look after themselves. They don't really care about their Housemates so long as they themselves are well off. If you get an offer from a Slytherin and it seems to only benefit you, then you'd best not take it cause sure as Merlin's beard there is something in it for the one making the offering. Usually what they will get from it will be far more than what you'll be receiving from it."
Harry walked deep in thought for a bit before he ventured a reply."I think I am where I'm supposed to be then, Hagrid," he said while looking up at the half-giant next to him. Seeing the look of confusion on the Grounds Keeper's face he continued and tried to explain his statement."The sorting hat had mentioned each house when it was on my head. I asked it to place me in Slytherin," Harry confessed, returning his gaze to the path in front of them once again. Harry wasn't about to tell the half-giant that he had really asked the tattered hat to place him where he would get the least amount of attention.
"Blimey Harry! Why would you go and do something like that?" Hagrid asked in astonishment.
"If you stop and think about it, a Slytherin works alone. That makes them as courageous as a Gryffindor as it can't be easy when it is you against everyone else. Because they work alone they also have to do all the work themselves and they have to stay on task which makes them both hard working as well as loyal to their beliefs, just like a Hufflepuff. Lastly, their entire House is out to beat them and so they have to be smart as well as intelligent to beat everyone else, just like a Ravenclaw is smart." Harry turned and looked over at the man next to him once again, "So to me it would seem that Slytherins are a combination of the other three houses."
Hagrid's brow creased as he worked his way through what Harry had just said. The half-giant had no love for the house of Snakes due to past transgressions when he himself was a student at Hogwarts. It wasn't that he hated any of the current Slytherin students, just that he did not trust the Slytherin House in general. It didn't help that many of the Death Eaters who had supported the Dark Lord when he came to power had come from the House of Snakes. "I never really thought of it that way," Hagrid finally said in a thoughtful tone. The half-giant knew there was a flaw in the young boy's logic but he just couldn't find it.
The Grounds Keeper seemed to shake himself, his mole skin coat shifting about as with a visible effort he mentally changed gears. "It's getting late, we'd best head back," he informed the boy with a quick glance about them as if he half expected a Death Eater or two to suddenly step from the gathering gloom.
Harry glanced about, only then realizing that the sun had already set and darkness was closing in on them fairly quickly. "Alright. Thanks Hagrid, it was nice talking with you," Harry offered as he turned about to head back to the castle in the distance.
"Come by and see me at my hut some time, Harry," Hagrid said with a smile. "I'll make us some tea and we can talk more, alright?"
"I think I would rather enjoy that, Hagrid," Harry replied while walking backwards towards the school, only to see the large man's face break out into a giant of a smile. With a final wave Harry hurried off back to the castle. With any luck he'd still have time enough to read over this evening's lesson once or twice.
Hagrid watched the boy set off at a run back towards the castle before slowly turning to follow him at a much slower pace. I guess the sorting hat knew what it was doing with placing him in Slytherin, the half-giant thought to himself. He still didn't like the fact that Harry was in the House of Snakes but he was glad to see that the boy was still the same one he had rescued alittle over a month ago from the old lighthouse and that Muggle family.
As the Grounds Keeper of Hogwarts ambled along something caught his eye. It was a single stone floating several feet off the ground near the water's edge. Seeing the stone brought to mind the one he had delivered to the Headmaster which now resided in Hogwarts. Hagrid pulled his coat tighter about him as he felt a shiver traverse his spine.
Daphne's brow creased in thought as she once again recalled the events that had transpired in the library earlier that day. She couldn't help but feel bad about her own part which she had played in it, even if it was unintentional. Once more she saw a certain dark haired wizard turn away from her and Tracey. There was no mistaking the hurt look in Harry's emerald eyes after he informed them that he could find his own way to class. The fact that Harry had arrived with Hermione had not escaped her notice either.
"Daphne. Daphne!" Tracey Davis called for the fourth time, startling the blonde witch from her thoughts. "Earth to Daphne. Did you even hear a word I said?" Tracey asked in an exasperated voice.
"I'm sorry, Tracey," Daphne offered apologetically to her best friend not meaning to have ignored her. "My mind was elsewhere," she confessed, her cheeks pinking slightly in embarrassment at her friend's knowing look. It's such a small thing, she tried to tell herself more than once since it had happened. Then why does it bother me so much? That was a question to which she had as yet been able to find an answer.
"Are you still thinking about him?" Tracey asked, knowing the answer already. Having been with the blonde witch since they were little, she well knew that Daphne did not like to be offended and hated to offend or hurt others even more. There was no doubt in her mind that Daphne would continue to worry about the matter till amends were made.
"I just can't help it," Daphne answered plaintively as she snapped her text book closed and set it aside on the bed next to her."I just keep seeing his face when he turned away. He looked so…," she trailed off as she sought for the right word or phrase to describe what she had seen in those green eyes.
"Hurt?" Tracey offered to complete the other girl's sentence. Being a half-blood herself, she had been on the receiving end of more than one derogatory comment in her short life so she knew it was never an enjoyable place to be. Tracey could well understand how it would hurt to have two people who were professing to be friends suddenly say something which sounded like they were making fun of you.
"No," Daphne said with a slow negative shake of her head, "betrayed…though that wasn't even the worst part of it. It was like he expected it to happen and was totally accepting of the fact that it did." He expected us to turn on him and wasn't surprised when we did it either. It's like he just expected that was the way life was supposed to be. Daphne couldn't fathom what could have happen to Harry to make a person be that way. "He expected us to turn on him and in doing so we just confirmed what his expectations of us were already," she said, clearly upset to have proven the boy mistrust of them a reality.
Tracey closed her own book and set it aside for the moment as she realized that neither of them would be able to study till they had at the very least talked about what happened. Through silent agreement they had both refrained from returning to the library after dinner and had instead made their way to the first year girl's dormitory in favor of the Slytherin common room. Perhaps they both realized there would be little privacy to be had with the rest of their housemates around. "I'm sure we weren't the only ones that went to the library to see what had happened there," Tracey finally offered in an attempt to justify their actions as nothing out of the ordinary.
Daphne sighed heavily, leaning back onto the pillows of her bed which they were both currently seated on. "I know, but we're not just anyone. We're his Housemates and Outsiders just like he is. We're supposed to be different than the others, better than that. If we can't be there for each other no one will be." The young witch once more saw those emerald orbs and couldn't help but wonder if there had ever been anyone who had been there for Harry when he needed someone to be.
Tracey thought for a moment before replying, "Well, the potions out of the vial now so it does no good to be dwelling on the fact. All we can do is decide what to do from here forward. It's not like we were intentionally making fun of him," she reasoned in an attempt to ease the guilt she knew the girl seated next to her was currently feeling. The half-blood witch knew all too well what Daphne was feeling as she felt just as guilty for her own words.
"I know," Daphne easily agreed with the auburn haired witch. Sitting up she drew a pillow into her lap and hugged it to her chest as she thought. "Do you think we should apologize to him?" she asked after several long moments of silence had passed between them.
"What would you say? Sorry for disturbing you in the library?" Tracey asked. "I mean I know how what we said sounded but we didn't really intend for it to be taken that way. I'm actually surprised that he took offense to it as boys are usually so clueless about such things."
Daphne couldn't disagree with the witch. Boys at their age were usually incapable of feeling anything, be it good or bad. They had more than once commented on how boys had the emotional range of teaspoons, if that. The blonde Slytherin recalled Harry covering her with his own robes on the train and then later helping her down the ladder using his own body to protect her should she fall. He's not like most other boys, she told herself. Other boys wouldn't have sat on that roof and just talked to me as he did. "I…I think we should, or at the very least try to explain," she finally said aloud having come to a decision.
"Then that's what we'll do," Tracey replied, knowing her friend had made up her mind on the matter and probably wasn't about to change it. Deep inside she was relieved as she too felt it was the right thing to do. She often played Devil's advocate for her friend to bounce ideas off of however, just because she spoke against a certain thought did not indicate that was how she truly felt. "Now can we get back to the constellations we'll be observing tonight?" Tracey asked in a begging tone of voice.
Daphne grinned at the pleading expression on the other witch's face. "If you had read the assignment you would have already had this covered," she chided as she none the less reached for the text book she had set aside before their talk. "One of these days you're going to surprise me and actually be ahead in all of your classes." Tracey's answering snort of amusement told her not to get her hopes up for that any time soon.
The two Slytherin witches continued to study till it was time for that evening's lesson. After packing up what they would require for the class they made their way to the Astrology Tower. As they neared the entrance to it on the seventh floor they could see a line of Slytherin and Gryffindor students awaiting the Professor's arrival. Daphne quickly spotted Harry standing next to the Gryffindor witch, Granger, at the front of the line.
Trust Granger to be first, she thought to herself silently. She watched as the young witch continued to talk while Harry listened attentively to what he was being told. Any hope she had of gaining his noticed was dashed as he was turned away with his back towards her. A small sigh of disappointment escaped the young girl's lips as she realized this.
A red headed Gryffindor boy, who was standing behind the first two in line, appeared to be rather put out from being left out of the conversation between Harry and Hermione. Every so often he would shoot a dark look towards Harry when he thought no one was watching. Ronald Weasley was not happy to have a snake chatting up his Housemate.
"Do you want to do it now?" Tracey asked upon hearing the sigh and noticing where Daphne was staring. While she didn't relish apublic apology she was willing to do so if that was what Daphne wanted to do."We could just walk up to the both of them," she offered as she glanced towards where Harry was standing.
Daphne swallowed heavily suddenly finding that she didn't have the courage to do it right in front of all the first year students from both her house as well as those of Gryffindor. "He looks to be busy right now," she finally said, licking her suddenly dry lips slowly. "Maybe we'll have a chance during class," she offered as an alternative.
"A chance for what?" enquired a well-educated sounding voice from behind the two witches.
"To see some stars," Tracey said as she turned to glare at Draco who had just arrived with Crabbe and Goyle in tow. "This is an astronomy class after all, Malfoy. Not that it's any of your business what we're talking about or anything."
"Davis what have I ever done to offend you?" Draco asked in a patronizing tone of voice. "It's not my fault you were born ahalf-blood after all. You should just be glad that you're not amud-blood," the young Slytherin added with a sneer. "There's always achance some desperate Pureblood might take pity on you in the future."
"If being a Pureblood means being like you then I'm quite happy as I am thank you," Tracey replied with a sneer of her own."The Davis' have been around a great deal longer than the Malfoy's. At least we didn't have to flee our country of birth," Tracey added, referring to the rumor that the Malfoy family had emigrated from France several generations back.
Draco's face became red with anger; however whatever he was going to say was stopped by the arrival of Professor Sinistra. The young Malfoy heir had to settle for shooting a scathing glare at the auburn-haired witch for now.
"Good evening class. I am Professor Sinistra," the astronomy professor said as she swept past the line of waiting students. Aurora Sinistra was a striking witch with dark skin and long dark hair that cascaded over one shoulder, reaching nearly to her waist. Her dark brown eyes were warm and welcoming and a smile often graced her full lips. There were many students at Hogwarts that fancied the Astrology professor. Aurora was currently the youngest professor at Hogwarts having just passed her N.E.W.T.'s five years ago.
"I would like to welcome all of you to your first evening of Astronomy," the Professor intoned as she turned to face the waiting students upon reaching the door to the tower. "In my class you will learn of the different stars, planets and constellations that reside within the night sky. We will discuss in detail the pull these heavenly bodies have upon our magic as well as upon us," she said with a small playful smile. Noting the slightly confused expression on most the class she pushed on, "Can anyone tell me why this knowledge is important?" Hermione's hand shot up into the air in a flash. "How about you Mr. Potter?" the Professor enquired with a warm smile as she regarded the surprised wizard.
"As constellations ascend and wane they have direct impact upon certain rituals, potions and other magical abilities," Harry offered, nearly repeating a line from the text book word for word.
"I see someone has done their reading," Sinistra said with an approving smile. "Five points for Slytherin." The Gryffindor's present frowned at the awarded points feeling certain that Hermione, their resident bookworm and know-it all, had the answer as well if the Professor had just called upon her.
"Now when I open the door we will climb the stairs to the top of the tower. There is no need to push or shove as there will be plenty of room for everyone once we're at the top. The stairs are narrow as well as steep so do be careful when climbing them." Having said her piece the Professor turned and producing a key from within her robes unlocked the door before leading the class up to the top of the tower.
Harry followed Hermione who was directly behind Professor Sinistra, being first in line. He wasn't sure what to make of this class. Growing up he hadn't been let outside after dark so it was not often that he was able to see stars. As there were no windows in the cupboard under the stairs there was no chance of seeing any while in the house. Even on the few occasions when he did see them it was not for very long. While he had read some about the solar system in primary school, his knowledge was rather limited.
The stairs were narrow and curved steeply around the circumference of the tower ending in a set of straight stairs that cut back towards the heart of the tower. Thankfully there were torches affixed along the walls at adequate intervals to cast enough light to see by. The top of the stairs opened out into the center of the top of the tower which was flat and open to the sky. As soon as Harry stepped from the stairs he looked up only to note that the night sky was covered by heavy clouds.
"It doesn't look like we'll be seeing many stars tonight," Harry said to Hermione as they moved to the side to make room for the rest of the class which was making its way up the stairs and out onto the tower top. Harry couldn't keep the disappointment in his voice.
Professor Sinistra chuckled upon hearing the young wizard's words."We'll be seeing plenty of stars tonight Mr. Potter. I assure you," she said before turning away to direct students away from the top of the stairs so that the rest of the class could join them.
Spread about the tower top were various telescopes and other instruments used to track stars and constellations. There were several tables set up about the tower top, each covered with charts and maps of a host of constellations and heavenly bodies.
"No need to worry about the edge of the tower," Sinistra said to her class noting that several students were giving the wall less edge of the tower a frightened eye. "The tower is charmed so that you can not fall off of it. It's quite safe I assure you." With an amused grin she noted that the students still remained a respectable distance from the edge of the tower. "Please take a few minutes to look over the various charts and instruments before we begin tonight's lesson."
"Harry, shall we pair up?" Hermione asked hesitantly, uncertain what the dark haired boy would want to do.
"If you wouldn't mind working with a Slytherin," Harry offered back with a small smile, hoping his attempt at humor was working.
"I think I'll manage somehow," the bushy haired witch responded with, a look of relief crossing her face.
Tracey Davis unrolled one of the scrolls on the table and peered at the planets that were shown on it. "It's hard to believe that all those little lights in the sky at night are other planets."
"They're not all planets. Some of them are suns as well," Daphne offered to correct her friend's words. The blonde witch had looked about upon first stepping onto the tower top and had quickly realized that there wasn't any place where they could get Harry alone to apologize in private. Besides the tables and telescopes the tower top was bare of any other items that might have offered some privacy from the rest of the class. The fact that Harry hadn't left Hermione's side hadn't escaped her notice either. The young Slytherin turned towards the table with a resigned sigh and looked down at the open scroll her friend held to prevent from rolling back up.
Tracey cringed internally upon hearing her best friend sigh heavily in defeat. "What are all these lines," she asked as her finger traced one of many circular lines. She had seen where Harry was and realized that they wouldn't be able to apologize during class. The best I can do is hope to distract her for now, she reasoned.
"Orbit paths I would guess," Daphne offered as she looked closer at the scroll and the line Tracey was running her finger along. The white lines followed a curve that the planet would travel.
"Why would we need to know what orbit they followed?" Tracey enquired, her brow creasing in thought.
"Planet alignment as well as gravitational pull I would imagine," offered a nervous male voice hesitantly from behind the two witches causing them both to turn around with matching looks of disbelief.
"Harry?" Daphne voiced, surprised by the boy's presence and the fact he was talking to them.
"Potter?" Tracey said directly after her friend so it sounded as if they were saying his full name.
Harry glanced about nervously for a second, noticing that they were quickly drawing the attention of others near them. Swallowing heavily the young wizard pressed on with what he had decided to do. "I wanted to apologize for earlier. I acted like a prat and was rude to you both, which neither of you truly deserved."
One hand quickly rose and ran through his dark unruly hair as his nerves got the better of him. "I don't really have an excuse other than the fact that I am a prat and I don't do well with being the center of attention." Harry's gaze shifted down and away from the witches as he was keenly aware that almost everyone was now watching the three of them. Just past the two witches he could see Draco commenting to Crabbe and Goyle and by their reactions he was fairly certain their laughter was at his expense.
"I guess that's all then. Just wanted to say I'm sorry." Not waiting for a reply, he turned to make his way back to where he had left Hermione.
"Harry?" Daphne called after the departing boy, causing him to stop and slowly turn back toward her and Tracey. After a quick glance towards her friend, receiving approval she continued, "Do you think it would it be alright if Tracey and I joined you and Hermione? Perhaps we could work together as a group?"
Harry stood transfixed for a long moment, uncertain just how to answer. He would enjoy the added company, especially if it meant that he was forgiven for getting angry at them earlier. While he was fine with their company he didn't know how Hermione would feel about it and he didn't feel he should answer for her. Thankfully he was saved from having to do so.
"I think that would be a great idea," Hermione replied walking up beside Harry and addressing the two Slytherin witches. "It seems that Harry has already beaten us to the first points awarded for the class though," she added with a welcoming grin. Beside her The-Boy-Who-Lived felt his cheeks warm into a blush.
"That's twice now that he's done that," Daphne replied as a small smile appeared on her face as well. "We may have to start keeping a close eye on him," the blonde witch said as she walked the short distance over to where Harry and Hermione were standing.
Tracey who, had followed Daphne over, snorted behind her friend as she glanced about and noted everyone watching. "Way not to be the center of attention, Harry," she said softly enough for only the four of them to hear, causing Harry's cheeks to blush all the more in embarrassment.
"Oh its /Harry/now is it?" Daphne asked, coming to the blushing boy's rescue as well as paying her friend back for her earlier question of the same nature. Glancing back towards her childhood friend she couldn't help but chuckle upon seeing the auburn-haired witch stick her tongue out at her in way of an answer.
"If you can call him that then so can I," Tracey added in a pouting tone of voice. "What else should I call him?" she asked seeing the smirk on her friends face. "The-Boy-Who-Lived is such a mouth full after all."
"Harry. Just Harry, please," quickly interjected the boy next to them. "I can do without all the other names or the attention they bring. I just want to be Harry," he finished with in a near pleading tone.
Tracey shot Daphne a smug look as Hermione turned to lead them over to the furthest table away from the stairs which wasn't currently being used. "Actually Harry," the Davis girl said in a more serious tone of voice upon reaching their destination, "I think I owe you an apology as well. I wasn't trying to have a go at you in the library but I see how it could have been taken that way," she told the listening boy.
"I'm sorry as well, Harry," Daphne was quick to add."The last thing I wanted to do was offend you or push you away. You're an Outsider like us after all."
Harry noticed the questioning look from Hermione at the words of the other two girls. "It really wasn't a big deal. I think after everything that happen today I was a little on edge. Can we just forget it ever happened?"
Tracey nodded in agreement. "Friends then?" she asked with a bright smile. All three girls were confused upon seeing Harry's expression darken and his eyes drop to the table.
"Friends?" the young wizard asked in an even tone of voice, devoid of any emotion. Can I be friends with them? Will it be the same as that one time, Harry wondered silently. Inside he wanted to trust them but he feared being hurt yet again.
"Is this Outsiders a special group or can anyone join?" Hermione asked in an attempt to give Harry a few moments to think over the answer to the offer of friendship. It was clear to the bushy-haired witch that something about being friends set the boy next to her into a defensive withdrawal into himself.
"It's only Slytherins currently," Tracey replied, the smile slowly slipping from her face as Harry had yet to respond favorably.
"The fact that she would be the only Gryffindor in the group would make her an Outsider as well I would think," Daphne offered while worriedly eyeing the boy next to her who was absently playing with the edge of a scroll with one finger. "Maybe we could all be friends?"
The three witches exchanged looks, uncertain what could be the matter with Harry. Finally Tracey spoke up into the silence, "It's alright if you'd rather not be friends with us Harry. It would certainly be a Slytherin thing not to have any friends after all."
"No…it's not that," Harry finally said in little more than a whisper. "I…I haven't had much luck with friends," he confessed as the part of him that longed for companionship struggled to assert itself before the boy's own protective tendencies of self-preservation could shut him down from accepting the offer.
Tracey chuckled slightly. "Certainly all your friends couldn't have been bad, Harry. How many have you had?" she asked, believing that like herself he must at least have a handful of friends he got on good with.
There was a long pause before the boy replied, "One….maybe…I mean I think." Harry had never really been able to decide if his classmate had actually been his friend or had just pretended to be. If he was in it with Dudley then he was never a friend, he reasoned. If that's the case then I've never really had a friend. Even he knew just how depressing that fact was which was perhaps why he'd never been able to decide the matter. Better to have a friend that betrayed you then never having a friend at all.
Daphne's hand flew to her mouth in an attempt to stifle a gasp of dismay, an attempt which failed miserably. Hermione and Tracey were both too shocked to respond in any fashion and just stood there with their mouths ajar. How can anyone go through their life without any friends? the blonde witch wondered. It was only then that she recalled the abuse Harry had received and her heart went out to the boy standing next to her. She couldn't help but feel that may have played no small measure into the fact. She could understand that for one abused it might be very hard to trust someone else.
Harry quickly looked up at the gasp from Daphne and the blonde witch was able to look directly into the boy's eyes. She saw within those emerald orbs a mixture of fear and pain but also an over whelming look of longing. "Be our friend, Harry," she pleaded as she reached out and took his hand in both of hers. "I don't know how your friend was or what they did to you but we're not them. We'd never do anything to hurt you!" Daphne gave the hand in her a small squeeze to indicate the truth of her words.
"Please, Harry," Hermione pleaded, taking his other hand in hers and giving it a reassuring squeeze. The young Gryffindor witch was all too aware of what it felt like to be without friends, having none herself. Once again is struck her just how much Harry and she had in common with each other.
"Don't tell me you're going to say no to three wonderful witches that want to be friends with you?" Tracey asked with a knowing grin.
Harry's eyes dropped to look at the top of the table once more,"I…I don't know how to be a friend," he admitted to the three witches who all shared a knowing look realizing that he hadn't actually said no.
A small smile of hope blossomed on Daphne's face at hearing his words. A quick glance to the other two witches and she saw the same smiles as she currently wore. "I'm sure between the four of us we can figure it out, Harry."
"I…I've never really had a friend before either," Hermione stated in a soft voice, embarrassed to admit to the fact. "So you're not the only one new to this, Harry." Both Slytherin witches stared at the brunette witch in surprise at her admission.
The head of the wizard in question shot up and quickly focused on the bushy-haired witch with a hopeful, almost pleading look upon his feature."Really?" he asked in disbelief. He couldn't see why any normal person wouldn't want to be friends with Hermione or any of the three witches arrayed around him. If Iwasn't a freak with wild magic I would have already asked her to be friends with me.
Hermione nodded to his question. "For some reason I've never really been good at making friends with others. Mum said that people feel intimidated around me because of how much I read and everything that Iknow." The young witch's cheeks blushed as she shrugged slightly seeing the disbelief in the boy's eyes. "I've always wanted friends; it just never seems to work out."
"Sounds like someone I know," Tracey offered as she pointedly looked in Daphne's direction.
"What? I can't help it if I'm smart," Daphne snapped in a defensive tone of voice which caused Harry to smile slightly.
"Be my first friend Harry and let me be yours?" Hermione pleaded bringing the boy's captured hand to her chest. "U…unless you think I'm too much of a bookworm or know-it-all," she added in a voice tinged with fear at the possibility that Harry felt that way.
Harry swallowed heavily, seeing the anxious look upon Hermione's face he knew that he wouldn't be able to say no to her, or to any of them for that matter. The young wizard knew that he desperately wanted friends and he was willing to risk being hurt again if that meant that he might have even one. Looking at the waiting Gryffindor witch he finally gathered his courage and replied, "I would very much like to be your friend, Hermione. If you'll have me? I would like to be friends with all of you," he quickly added looking to the other two girls with them but not before seeing the blinding smile Hermione suddenly sported at hearing his words.
Daphne felt her lips pull back in a wide smile as Harry accepted being friends with all of them. Nice Granger! The blonde Slytherin had to give the other witch credit, finding the perfect manner in which to ask Harry to be friends with her. She would have made a good Slytherin perhaps. Daphne shot Tracey a look only to see her grinning as well. No need to mention that I was Hermione's friend first, she reasoned recalling their discussion in the library. At least I think that meant that we were already friends…maybe not, she couldn't decide now.
"That was very touching. If the four of you are now finished perhaps we can carry on with the class?" an amused voice queried from behind the four of them. All four students turned to find Professor Sinistra regarding them with a soft smile. Daphne and Hermione quickly released Harry's hands which they were still holding as all four students cheeks turned a light shade of pink. "Too bad the rest of the class didn't get to see it," Aurora said as she waved her wand, dismissing the privacy ward she had discreetly raised around the quartet. "It really was very sweet."
"I'm sorry, Professor," Harry said, stepping forward so that he was in front of the three girls. "I should have paid more attention," he stammered not really noticing the approving tone of the Professor's words. "I didn't mean to cause you and troubles. I had some concerns and they were just helping me with them. The fault is entirely mine."
"The fault was all of ours, Professor," Daphne corrected, stepping forward and laying a hand on Harry's arm while wrapping the other around it in an attempt to forestall him from objecting. The blonde witch didn't miss Harry's head turning to look at her as he started to object. Thankfully a distraction came from his other side in the form of a bushy-haired Gryffindor witch.
"Our apologies, Professor Sinistra," Hermione offered as she stepped to the other side of Harry while at the same time slipping her hand around his arm and grasping it gently. "We were rather distracted," she added, noting the boy's head swiveling in her direction at her words."It was careless of us." From the corner of her eye she could just make out the confused look on Harry's face as he gapped at her.
"It won't happen again," Tracey piped up with coming up behind the Boy-Who-Lived and settling a hand on each of his shoulders as she leaned forward slightly between him and Daphne so that the Professor could see her.
Harry, surrounded by witches on every side, even in front were one to consider the Professor, could do little more than surrender. It was clear to the young boy that his new friends were not about to allow him to take all the blame for the disruption to the class. "We're sorry," he offered in asoft voice.
Sinistra smiled in a reassuring manner towards the four students. She hadn't failed to notice how Harry had stepped forward first and positioned himself between her and the three witches as if he was protecting them. Nor did she miss how quickly the three witches stepped forward to share the blame."I did say it was a touching moment did I not?" she asked. "I would hate to have missed it due to something as mundane as an astronomy lesson. However, in the future let's try to find a more discreet location when professing ones…friendship," she offered with an arched brow and a knowing smile.
All four students quickly nodded in agreement.
Aurora turned with a soft chuckle and led the students over to the middle of the tower area. "Everyone gather round," the Professor instructed as she waved her hands, motioning for everyone to come in closer."As this is an astronomy class I think it would be prudent if we looked at some stars, wouldn't you?"
"It's well near impossible with all these clouds, Professor," Ron Weasley whined as he pointed to the sky above them as if to prove his point.
"Then I guess we'll just have to do something about that Mr. Weasley," the Professor stated as she lifted her wand and made several sharp gestures in the air. To the astonishment of all the students the clouds parted, rolling back as if they were some giant curtains, exposing the night sky above.
Harry gazed at the wondrous vision that had appeared above them. The night sky was alight with more stars than could possibly be counted. The three witches huddled around him all gasped and suddenly found reason to grasp ahold of him once again in their excitement. "It's amazing," he breathed ethereally, to astonished to say more than that at the moment.
"It's beautiful!" Daphne gasped tightening her hold on Harry's arm in her excitement.
"I never knew there were so many stars," Hermione confessed as she wound both of her arms around Harry's, drawing closer to the boy without even realizing it.
Tracey looked from her best friend to her newest friend, Hermione and couldn't help but grin at how alike they both looked at that moment. Each clutching onto Harry while gazing spell bound up at the heavens. While she couldn't see the boy's face she was certain that he was just as gobsmacked as they all were. Feeling a bit left out she placed her hands on the boy's shoulder and pulled herself forward while drawing Harry back against her chest,"I'm glad we all got to share this together," she said as she once again looked up at the brilliant night sky.
"Can anyone tell us the name of one of the brightest, and constant, stars in the heavens?" Professor Sinistra enquired after several minutes of allowing her charges to admire the stars above. "Ms. Granger?" the Professor said upon seeing the Gryffindor's hand shoot up first.
"A well-known one would be the Loadstar, or Polaris as it is more commonly known these days," Hermione replied with a small smile.
"Very good, Ms. Granger. Five points for Gryffindor." Hermione's smile brightened considerably at the awarded points. "In the 14th century it was indeed known as lodestar or 'guiding star', cognate with the Old Norse leiðarstjarna and Middle High German leitsterne. Polaris has only been used since the 17th century in English."
"Professor," Parvati Patil spoke up, continuing only after receiving a nod of permission from Sinistra, "In Indian astronomy, its name is Sanskrit dhruva tāra. It literally translates to 'fixed star'. Its name in medieval Islamic astronomy was Mismar 'needle, nail', al-kutb al-shamaliyy 'the northern axle/spindle', al-kaukab al-shamaliyy 'north star', depending on which expert you talk to," the small witch concluded with anervous smile, glad for once of her interest in astronomy forced upon her and her sister by their father.
"Thank you Ms. Patil. Perhaps you should have been in Ravenclaw with your sister, Dear. Five points to Gryffindor for your contribution." Parvati's Housemates were quick to congratulate her on the awarded points.
Hermione glanced over and saw Lavender Brown, Sally-Anne Perks and Lily Moon all huddled around the petite Indian girl, giving her hugs while offering their congratulations. Previously the scene would have been witnessed with a pain of longing and a little bit of jealousy as well for something she herself didn't have. Now, with friends of her own, the young witch only felt happiness for her housemate.
"Alright then, I would like you to split into groups of four and use the telescopes provided for you to find and look at the Loadstar. Your homework will be a report, a third of a scroll long, on how the star has been used throughout history." The Professor couldn't help but grin at the groans that issued from the male students and even a few of the girls as well."It's not that bad, you'll have an entire week to write it after all," she reminded them.
"Do you think we can all meet in the library and work on it together?" Harry asked. "Maybe Blaise can come as well?"
All three witches shared glances having noticed Harry was probably the only boy who hadn't groaned at the homework assignment. "I think that's a brilliant idea, Harry!" Tracey was first to speak up. "I'll check with Zabini to make certain he wants to." It was quickly agreed upon that they would meet after dinner that evening.
Aurora made her way about the rooftop helping each group with the use of the telescope. Many of the students had never even seen one before and so had no clue how to operate one. She found it very hard to contain herself when she found a group of boys from Gryffindor looking through the wrong end of the device. As the night wore on into the wee morning hours she finally made her way to the last group of students.
"I think its Harry's turn to take a look, Granger," Tracey was saying to the bushy-haired witch who was currently looking through the telescope intently.
"It's alright, I don't mind, Tracey," Harry said to placate the auburn haired Slytherin. "I can wait to have a look."
"I wouldn't mind another look," Daphne added, "so you have to go first Harry. That way we've each had a chance to look at it."
"Really, it's alright," Harry reiterated once again upon seeing Hermione stand and step away from the telescope.
"That's just amazing! Harry you have to see this!" Hermione exclaimed to the only boy in their group as she hastily motioned him over.
Harry sighed inwardly, not really caring if he had a look or not. He was more than happy to let the other three have more turns while he continued to just admire the sky above. It won't matter anyways, he thought silently to himself. It had been many years since he last had the prescription adjusted on his glasses and so most things up close were blurred and hard to see, especially when right up next to his eyes. He always kept the books he read at a good distance which made them a bit easier to read. More often than not he would receive a headache when reading but it was a small price to pay he felt for the enjoyment reading brought him. He was just about to beg off once again when he was stopped by astern voice behind him.
"I did say that everyone had to take a turn, did I not Mr. Potter?" Sinistra said.
Harry audibly gulped before he replied, "Yes, Professor," he offered as he walked to the telescope. The Boy-Who-Lived did not fail to notice the barely suppressed smiles of the three witches near him. He did however miss the wink that the Professor shot to all three witches behind his back, which only caused the three smiles to grow larger.
Removing his glasses Harry leaned forward and looked through the small end of the telescope at the white blur. "It's very nice. Bright also," he said before stepping away and returning his glasses to their usual resting place before his eyes.
Hermione gapped at Harry. "That's it?" she asked incredulously. "That's all you have to say?"
Harry saw Daphne and Tracey both looking at him in disbelief as well. "I guess I'm just not into is as much as you three are," he replied a defensively moving away from the telescope to where he had been before.
"Mr. Potter, when was the last time your eyes were checked?" Sinistra enquired tentatively.
"Please Professor, call me Harry. Mr. Potter makes me sound so old," he offered with a disarming smile that was infectious. "My eyes and glasses are as fine as they are going to be, Professor. Thank you for asking," he added. The last thing I need is to return home with a new pair of glasses. Uncle Vernon would want to know where I got the money for them from. The young wizard wouldn't put it past his uncle to beat it out of him should he resist.
The one time he had accepted someone's charity he had been accused of stealing by his uncle. The subsequent beating was one of the worst he had ever received. All through the beating his aunt had yelled in her shrill voice about how bad it would have made her normal family look if the freak living with them had gotten caught. That night had ended in a trip to the local hospital and a cast on his left leg and right arm…both of which made it very hard to cook breakfast the next morning.
Aurora Sinistra hadn't been a teacher for very long when compared to some of the staff at Hogwarts, such as Professor McGonagall or Sprout, but she had an uncanny ability to read the students under her care. She could tell right away that there was something off with the boy's answer. Perhaps it was the manner in which he tried to deflect the conversation away from his eyes and to his name or the disarming smile he offered to ease her fears. He's hiding something, of that fact she was certain. "Very well, Mr…Harry. Should you need to be seen please be sure to let me know."
Harry visibly relaxed as soon as he realized the Professor wasn't going to push the matter. "Thank you Professor. I will be sure to do that," he said with a warm smile. Turning back to the other three with him he looked at Daphne, "I guess that makes it your turn, Daphne." Not waiting for a reply Harry turned and walked past the witches.
Sinistra sighed and watched as the underfed boy walked to the very edge of the tower, something no one else that evening had the courage to do, and stared up at the millions of stars in the night sky. "Not into it as much as them," she scoffed under her breath as she observed the look upon the boy's face. I used to have that same look upon my face when I was his age and I gazed up at the celestial bodies above. "Continue to take turns till it is time to return to your dorms," she told the three remaining first years before offering them a sympathetic smile and turned to see to the rest of her class. I'll have to start keeping an eye out for him. I owe the Potters too much not to!
Harry stood at the very edge of the tower, the tips of his shoes sticking slightly over the lip. Standing there he could feel a small breeze blowing and its cool touch upon his face felt refreshing. It was only then that he realized that when they were by the telescope there hadn't been any wind or chill at all. This was Scotland after all, there was always a wind here and it was the middle of the night so it should, by all rights, be cold. It must be warded, he reasoned.
The young wizard's thoughts quickly shifted to the events of this day. How did I get to suddenly have three friends? What do I even do with them? Harry gazed at the stars above while his mind worked over his concerns. One thing he knew for certain was that he had no clue what a friend was. If I disregard how Draco treats Crabbe and Goyle, as well as how Dudley treats his friends, what does that leave me with?
"Harry?" spoke a soft and hesitant voice behind him."What are you doing?" Daphne enquired coming to stand beside her housemate. The blonde witch had cut her turn short just so that she could follow after the young wizard.
"I have no clue," Harry told her honestly referring to his own inner thoughts more than her direct question itself.
The blonde Slytherin, suspecting that his answer was not to her own question but something else, remained quiet to give him time to process whatever thoughts were weighing heavily upon his mind.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do any more," the boy next to her finally said as he dropped his gaze from the sky above to look out over the darkness. "Everything I know is back in London. Here Ifeel….lost. Does that make any sense?" he asked turning expectantly to regard the girl beside him who was now staring at him rather than the stars.
"I think I know what you mean. My Mum and Dad, even my younger sister, are back home. Leaving them behind and being here on my own if a little frightening," Daphne offered, feeling a small pain of homesickness and a longing to see her sister.
"How…how do you know what to do then?" Harry asked.
"I don't," Daphne admitted with a shrug of her shoulders. "I just know that they will be there when I go home and till then I do the best I can. Seeing them again and being able to hug Astoria once more gives me something to look forward to and keeps me going, Harry."
Beside her Harry seemed to ponder her words for several long minutes before he responded in a voice so quiet that she nearly missed it,"Were it only that simple." Catching his words she quickly recalled what his home life must be like and she wished that she hadn't said what she had. Standing there the silence between then stretched on.
Leaning forward Daphne peered over the edge of the tower and instantly regretted it. Gasping she jerked back and unconsciously grabbed his hand so that she would have something to hold onto. In her hand she felt Harry's fingers tighten reassuringly.
"It's alright I got you," Harry assured her with a small smile meant to be reassuring rather than amused at her expense. "Remember, it's warded so that you can't fall off." Harry tightened his grip around her hand slightly still feeling her trembling from the perceived danger of falling from the tower.
"It doesn't feel that way when you're looking down into blackness," she stammered as she looked into his emerald eyes.
Harry leaned out to have a look and instantly felt her grip become more desperate, nearly crushing his hand in hers. The young wizard looked down and it appeared as though the darkness just went on and on with no end in sight. It's like if you were to fall you'd just keep going and never hit bottom. "It doesn't look that bad," Harry offered as he leaned back, hoping to make the drop less traumatic for her by saying so.
Daphne quickly turned and rested her forehead against the boy's shoulder. "Easy for you to say," she quipped in a shaky voice, only slightly releasing her death grip on his hand as she tried to calm down.
"Let's move back a pace if it bothers you that much," Harry offered, truly concerned for the witch leaning against him.
Suiting actions to words he took a slow shuffled step back with Daphne pacing him closely so she didn't have to remove her head from its resting place. "Thank you, Harry," Daphne whispered in relief once they were back from the edge of the tower.
"What's out there?" Tracey asked as she walked over. Not waiting to be told the auburn haired witch walked right up to the edge of the tower and leaned out without a care in the world. The wards held her in place at an angle that gravity would have insured her quick plummet to the base of the tower.
"TRACEY!" Daphne yelled upon opening an eye and seeing her friend hanging in midair as she saw it.
Harry grimaced as a death grip once again assaulted his hand where the blonde clenched it in fear. "I think you're scaring her, Tracey," he managed to get out in as even a tone as he could manage. "Perhaps it would be best if you didn't lean out like that."
"What and miss the fun of seeing her scared senseless?" Tracey replied with a large grin. "Fine," she said upon seeing the pleading look upon both their faces. Pushing off the ward she stood back up and even stepped back a pace from the edge to stand near them.
"Thanks, Tracey," Harry said as the vice-like pressure on his hand let up enough for circulation to finally be restored.
"What did I miss?" Hermione asked as she joined the other three with a quizzical look upon her face.
"I was just reminding Daphne of her fear of heights," Tracey was quick to provide with a grin.
"You didn't have to," Daphne said in a small and meek voice, her body still trembling in fear.
"That's what friends are for," quipped Tracey with alarge smile, evidently pleased with herself.
"Is that what friends are for?" Harry had to ask beginning to think that perhaps he had made a mistake after all.
"NO!" Daphne and Hermione said simultaneously. Tracey just looked at them both and grinned all the more.
"Well, sometimes," Daphne finally offered reluctantly taking her head from Harry's shoulder to glare at her best friend.
"Friends are good for keeping you humble," Tracey tried to explain. "Though not in a malicious way, mind you."
Harry thought about it for a moment before he replied. "So you just wanted to scare her a little bit and you used her fear of heights to do that?"
"Exactly!" Tracey exclaimed.
Harry looked at each of them, "I don't think I could scare you guys," he offered apologetically suddenly feeling like he couldn't be a good friend if that's what it took to be one.
Hermione was quick to step to the boy's side and grasp his free hand in hers in reassurance. "You can still be a good friend and not scare us, Harry," she told him as she gave a gentle squeeze of his hand in hers."We can leave the scaring to Tracey," the Gryffindor witch offered.
"Fine with me!" Tracey said with a mischievous gleam in her brown eyes as if she was already plotting just how to accomplish it.
"Morgana help us!" Daphne said just loud enough for all of them to hear. All four couldn't help but chuckle at the blonde's explanative.
"Have you guys noticed anything funny?" Harry asked after a few moments.
"You mean other than the fact that we're not all guys?" Tracey quipped with a crooked grin. Harry blushed slightly not having intended to refer to them as boys. "It's alright Harry, we knew what you meant," she quickly assured the only boy in their midst upon seeing his cheeks turn a nice shade of pink. /Cute/, she thought to herself.
"Yes, other than that," Harry offered in an attempting to continue without further embarrassing himself. "I mean about the sky." All four of them looked up at the beautiful star filled sky above them. "Now look down," he told them.
"I…I'd rather not," Daphne stammered, the pressure oh Harry's hand increasing slightly.
"No, not at the ground at the base of the tower," he clarified quickly, turning to look at the blonde witch next to him. "Just look out there," he said thrusting his chin out as both hands were currently being held captive by the witch on either side of him.
Once again all three witches looked in the direction he indicated and saw nothing but darkness. "I don't understand," Hermione final said, giving voice to what the three girls were all thinking.
"What's out there?" Harry asked indicating the darkness once again. Seeing the confused looks he groaned. "I'll give you a clue, it's big and it's wet," he offered them in a slightly exasperated voice.
"Black Lake?" Tracey hazarded in a questioning tone of voice, clearly not certain but willing to risk a guess.
"Exactly!" Harry exclaimed triumphantly. Seeing the looks of uncertainty he had to resist the urge to roll his eyes in disbelief."Look up again," he instructed. "Now look down again," he said only after seeing all three look up. "What do you see?" Harry waited, knowing that at least two of them were very bright witches. He did not know Tracey well enough yet to know just how smart the girl was but he was still fairly certain one of them would get it very soon.
"Nothing!" Hermione exclaimed in surprise as she finally caught on.
"There's no reflection of the stars above," Daphne was quick to add having come to the same conclusion a split second after the Gryffindor girl.
"It's an illusion!" Tracey gapped in surprise at the revelation. "How did none of us notice it sooner?"
The sound of clapping behind them caused all four students to turn at the unexpected noise. "Well done, Harry," Professor Sinistra said with an appreciative smile. "You're the only one to have realized it tonight. I think that is worth ten points for Slytherin. Being an Astronomer is a great deal about being observant of the universe around us. That means what is far away," Aurora gestured to the stars above, "as well as what is right in front of us," she added as she motioned in the direction of Black lake."
"So the telescopes…." Hermione started to ask.
"Charmed," the Professor offered before the girl could finish her question. "It would take far too much time for a single Professor to show each and every first year student the proper way to use atelescope in the first night," she explained. "Usually by the third or fourth week they have the hang of it and the charms can be removed. Inoticed your group didn't seem to have any issues with yours?"
"My parents bought me my first telescope for my sixth birthday," Hermione confessed, "so I've been using them for years already. I do have to admit though that we never get a view like this while in London."
"That is mostly due to the city lights," Aurora offered in way of explanation. "You have to get far away from the city lights to see anything worth seeing." Hermione nodded in acceptance of this knowledge.
"It is past the end of the class, so all of you had best return to your dorms and get some sleep. These are passes in case you happen to be questioned about being out so late," she said handing each of them aslip of paper. "Once you reach your dorms the paper will return to me so no need worrying about returning them." The four of them looked about the tower top and realized they were the only ones left. They each thanked the Professor as they took the offered slips of paper and headed down the stairs.
"Well, I'm this way," Hermione said, motioning off to the left as they reached the hallway at the bottom of the tower.
"Alright," Harry said turning and heading in that direction she had indicated.
"Wait, Harry," Hermione said reaching out and catching his arm before he had gone more than a step. "The stairway is that way," she said point off to the right."
"I know," the dark haired boy replied casually as he turned and regarded her, "I'll walk you back to your dorm before going to mine."
"We'll all walk you there," Tracey quickly said before Hermione could object.
"O…okay," the brunette witch managed to say as she fell into step beside Harry, her arm threading between the boy's body and his arm. No one has ever wanted to walk me home! Inside the young witch her chest felt far warmer than it ever had before. So this is what it's like to have friends? The young Gryffindor stole a sideways glance at the boy whose arm she currently had a gentle grip on. Harry wanted to make certain I got back safely, she mused in disbelief. He does care about me!
Upon reaching the portrait of the Fat Lady Hermione turned to face the trio, "Well, this is it," she said as her eyes found Harry's as she chewed the inside of her lip nervously. What if I wake up tomorrow and this was all just a dream? What if they decide they made a mistake and don't want to be friends any longer? How do I even say goodbye?
"Well it was fun," Harry stammered uncertain of what to do next. "I…umm…you see I don't know the proper way that friends say goodbye," he finally confessed with a pink glow of embarrassment in his cheeks. Behind him he could hear Tracey, or so he guessed it to be, trying to keep from laughing. "I mean we're friends now so I want to make certain I'm doing it properly," he stammered suddenly uncertain of what to say or do.
Hermione watched Harry's nervousness grow as he tried to explain he wanted to do the right thing. Suddenly she realized that he felt the same way that she did. He's cute when he's nervous, she suddenly found herself thinking. Before she knew what she was doing she hurled herself at Harry and wrapped her arms around his neck in a tight hug. "Thank you, Harry for being my friend," she whispered in his ear suddenly finding that she needed to fight back the tears of happiness that threatened to escape from her eyes. The young witch nearly gasped when she felt his arms come up and encircle her waist snuggly. It was the first time a boy had ever hugged her.
Harry froze as he suddenly had a face full of strawberry scented bushy brown hair. Realizing that he couldn't put his arms around her shoulders as she was doing he settled for slipping them around her slender waist instead."Thank you Hermione for being my first friend," he whispered back after hearing her words in his ear. He was certain but he thought he heard her sniffle slightly as she made to draw away once more.
The two of them separated awkwardly and with slightly bashful smiles. Hermione waved to Tracey and Daphne before whispering the password to the portrait and disappearing within. It would be some time before the young Gryffindor would fall asleep as she marveled at how wonderful it felt to have friends for the first time in her life.
The two remaining witches each took an arm and led the boy towards the Grande Stairway. "This is the proper way for a gentleman to escort alady home at the end of the evening," Tracey was quick to point out when Harry started to object. Still uncertain, but willing to learn, Harry relented and continued with a witch on either arm as they made their way down the stairs.
"Harry, what happened with Professor Snape?" Daphne suddenly asked her voice overly loud in the silence. Several paintings hushed her angrily before returning to their interrupted slumber.
"He took five House points and I have detention after breakfast in the morning," he replied in a quiet voice so as not to disturb any of the portraits on the walls.
"But you'll hardly get any sleep," Daphne protested as strenuously as one can while trying to keep their voice low.
Harry shrugged as if it didn't really matter. "I'll get some," he finally offered. His response drew displeasing looks from both of the girls with him. "There's isn't anything I can do about it now so I'll just make the best of it," he added as it was the truth.
"What happened to Malfoy?" Tracey asked to which Harry could do little more than shrug as he didn't know. "He should get punished as well for that stunt that he pulled. At least you got the remembrall away from the little prat. Did Professor Snape ask for it?"
"No, I still have it," Harry replied as his hand checked to make certain it was still in the pocket of his robe. "I was going to return it to the Longbottom boy tonight but he wasn't in class."
"If he broke his arm in that fall he might have to stay overnight in the hospital wing while Madam Pomfrey repairs it," Daphne offered.
The three of them finally stepped from the Grande Stairway and headed towards the entrance to the dungeons. Apparently the stairs were less active at night which made it considerably easier to descend to the bottom floor. Before long they were walking through the hidden entrance to the Slytherin common room.
Harry heaved a sigh of relief, well ready for bed after the day he'd had. "I'm sorry once again for acting like such a prat to the both of you in the library," he said remorsefully turning to regard the two witches with him after closing the door he had been holding open for them."I hope you can forgive me and I'll try never to do that again."
"Still dwelling on that are we?" Tracey scoffed."That's in the past Harry so you can just put it behind you. I think we both can forgive you if you can forgive us," she said with a glance towards Daphne who quickly nodded in agreement.
"Right then," Harry said, running one hand through his unruly locks. "Well good night then and pleasant dreams to you both," he offered as he turned to head towards the entrance to the boy's dormitory. The clearing of a throat behind him made the boy pause and turn to look back at the two witches.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Tracey asked with asmall grin. Seeing the confused look on the boy's face she threw her arms open wide, "I want my friendship hug just like Granger got!"
"Tracey!" Daphne gasped blushing at the other girl's audacity. Inside she was relieved, wondering just how she was going to get her hug from Harry. Trust Tracey to have already figured out a way.
"Right," Harry said turning back and crossing to the auburn-haired witch with a slightly guilty expression for having forgotten,"still new to this and learning as I go," he offered in way of excuse as he slipped his arms around her waist and gave her a hug.
Tracey grinned and she threw her arms around Harry and leaned in to whisper in his ear. "It's alright if you don't whisper anything in my ear as you did Granger's but Daphne may feel a little left out if you don't do that to her."
"Thanks," Harry whispered back before awkwardly letting the witch go.
"Not too bad, Harry," Tracey offered critically. "I think we're going to have to work on the hugs a bit more though before you have them correct. I'm sure between the four of us we'll get it sorted out in a few days. Granger seems to be exceptionally good at hugging after all," she added with a mischievous grin.
"Right. I'll give it my best," Harry said, getting the feeling he was being teased in some manner yet not certain just how.
Harry turned towards the waiting Daphne and opened his arms slightly, "Daphne," he said only to feel a push from behind upon his shoulders.
"Lesson number one. The boy always walks to the girl," Tracey told him from behind his left shoulder. "It's considered very rude to make her come to you."
Harry was fairly certain that Hermione had come to him both times they had hugged so he wasn't at all certain if what he was being told was the truth but he decided it was best to do as told. Stepping forward he slipped his arms around the petite girl's waist and felt her arms encircle his neck as she pulled him closer.
Daphne quickly slipped her arms around Harry's next and pulled him into a hug. The first thing she noticed was that she was only slightly shorter than he was. This was a small surprise as she was rather petite and hence not overly tall, meaning most boys and even others girls were considerably taller than she was. This realization was quickly followed by the scent of apples. It wasn't an unpleasant scent at all though she did puzzle over it for a fleeting moment. Why would a boy smell like apples?
Tracey's whispered words ran through the Slytherin boy's mind once again yet he couldn't think of anything. It didn't help that he was nervous and it felt far warmer in the room than he recalled the common room being at any other time. Harry's brain scrambled for something to say to the blonde girl but it was a blank so he said the first thing that came to mind, "You smell nice." It wasn't a lie as he did think she smelled nice. He couldn't place a name to the scent but he found it comforting in some manner.
Daphne leaned her head against Harry's shoulder upon hearing his words and before she could help it a small giggle escaped her lips. Feeling Harry stiffen in her arms and start to move away from her she tightened her hold upon him. "I'm sorry," she quickly apologized realizing her actions could look like she was laughing at him. "I was just thinking the same thing about you and I couldn't help but find it funny."
"I smell nice?" Harry asked in a disbelieving tone of voice as he drew his head back to look at the girl hugging him still.
Daphne nodded before tilting her head back as well and looking at the first boy she had ever hugged. "Like apples," she clarified with a slight grin. I think Icould get used to Harry's hugs, she thought to herself only to feel her cheeks begin to warm into a blush.
Harry's eyes lit up in understanding, "I have an apple in my pocket," he told her.
"So that's your secret," Daphne replied playfully. Seeing Harry's arched brow in question she added, "Sorry I can't say the same, nothing in my pockets but my wand at the moment and you've already declined seeing it."
"So you just naturally smell nice?" Harry asked as the petite girl dropped her arms from around his neck.
Daphne shrugged to show her uncertainty. "You tell me. Ican't really smell myself I mean. Girls usually smell better than boys, at least that's what my Mum always tells me."
Harry thought for a moment before replying, "Well, I think you smell nice," he told her honestly. "You'll…uh…well," he paused as he nervously ran a hand through his hair making it even messier than it already was, "you'll tell me if I start to…you know?" he asked anxiously.
"Stink?" Daphne prompted with a small teasing grin only to see him nod slightly. "Sure, that's what friends are for," she replied with a genuine smile that made her blue eyes sparkle in a way Harry found he rather enjoyed, even if it did leave him feeling slightly confused.
"Speaking of friends, it appears as though we're short one," Harry said only then noticing that Tracey had already escaped into the girl's dormitory, leaving them alone.
Daphne glanced around at his words realizing it was just the two of them in the common room. "I'm sure she thought it was very funny to slip out like that. She's probably listening just inside the door or something."
"Maybe she was just tired," Harry offered in Tracey's defense. "Speaking of which, I should really let you get to sleep. I'm certain you're tired too."
"Thanks for being there for me tonight," Daphne said, dropping her eyes. Reaching out she grasped his hand gently in hers and looked at it rather than looking at him, "I hope I didn't hurt your hand? I know I was squeezing it pretty hard. I couldn't help it, I was really scared."
Harry flexed his fingers to show her they were alright, his movements ending with his hand around hers as it had been up on the astronomy tower. "No, I'm fine," he assured her with a gentle squeeze.
"Harry…can…I have another hug?" the blonde witch asked in a soft voice, suddenly feeling a little frightened after thinking about the edge of the tower once again.
Without saying a word Harry stepped forward and slipped his arms once more around the girl's tiny waist and pulled her in close as her arms encircled his neck once again.
"Thanks for always being there for me, Harry," Daphne said softly with her lips directly next to his ear. "First on the train you rescued me and now on the tower top tonight."
"I'll always be there for you, Daphne," Harry promised without even thinking.
"Somehow I know you will be, Harry," she said as she began to pull away.
Harry dropped his arms to let her go and was totally unprepared for the chaste kiss the young witch placed upon his cheek.
"Good night, Harry," Daphne said with blushing cheeks as she hurried into the girl's dormitory.
"Good night, Daphne," a dazed Harry replied moments later to the otherwise now empty commons room. Turning and making his way to the entrance to the boy's dormitory he couldn't help but wonder if Blaise and he became friends would he have to hug him as well?
Sign up to rate and review this story