What Snape has to say.
They were alone.
Ron and Hermione had looked at Harry, hesitated, then looked at Snape’s murderous expression and fled.
McGonagall had tried to communicate with Snape silently, but he had steadfastly ignored her attempts and declined to look at her, his gaze still locked with Harry’s. She had walked off in a huff and Harry swore he had heard her grouse something about ‘Pig-headedness and arrogant Slytherins disregarding help’.
Madam Pomfrey had simply refused to be ordered around in her own Hospital Wing, and had left only when a particularly vicious current of Harry’s raging magic had almost knocked her unconscious with a bottle of Skelegro.
If Snape wanted to talk, fine, Harry thought heatedly, they could talk. He would let Snape say whatever he wanted to say, considering that Harry already knew that it wouldn’t make a difference to him anyway. Then find Madam Pomfrey and make her give him his things back so he could finally leave for Godric’s Hollow.
But Snape wasn’t talking; Snape was just standing there with the superior, smooth mask of disdain that had formed on his face as soon as the door of the infirmary had closed shut with a ‘wham’ behind a rattled Madam Pomfrey.
He eyed his former professor warily, as random medical equipment continued to soar by his line of vision by his blazing untamed magic.
He was still just so angry.
Ron and Hermione, his best friends of almost seven years were afraid of him; his mind just couldn’t comprehend their trepidation. He still saw the stricken look Hermione had worn when she had asked him to listen to Snape and it made him furious.
Listen to Snape, honestly! The thought alone made him sick to the stomach. Just because he did not feel the urge to kill the bastard outright, did not mean he was suddenly going to obey his every whim.
He could feel his and the Releaser’s magic crackle around him in gusts of power, causing the lights of the infirmary to falter and flicker unnervingly over the sharp features of the Potions Master in front of him.
“Well, what do you want?” he finally managed to ground out; after it became abundantly clear that Snape would not be engaging him in conversation anytime soon.
Snape narrowed his eyes for a second, and then as if something had changed and became apparent, only to him, he turned around and placed a locking charm on the infirmary door.
A dark chuckle left Snape’s derisive mouth as he saw Harry’s puzzled expression and he tutted dangerously, “You lot really are too naive for your own good.”
He slowly stepped closer to Harry, his wand poised by his side, his face clouded by the darkness that fell as one of the lights of the infirmary gave out entirely.
“What are you talking about?” demanded Harry irritably.
Snape’s face twisted into a sadistic smirk. “What – I – want – is,” each word pronounced with each step he took forward, his dark robes billowing after him, “to kill you of course,” he announced as if it were obvious, raising his wand and closing in on Harry, his greasy hair rustling alongside his face.
“What?” Harry hissed, nonplussed, looking into Snape’s eyes as they glittered with barely restrained contempt.
“You saw me on that tower Potter, I know you did. I read everything in that old fool’s mind right before I killed him,” he jeered maliciously.
At the mention of Dumbledore’s murder and that day on the tower Harry stiffened, a dark shadow creeping over his features as he gazed at his former professor.
“I didn’t think Minerva would be so desperate to believe my sob story,” Snape mocked, a malevolent glint caught in his eyes, “all it took to convince her was one single tear.”
Harry looked at him aghast and felt himself beginning to tremble all over as his already incensed state boiled over like hot lava sliding down his veins at the implications of Snape’s words.
“I suppose Albus left her his belief in second chances along with the Headmistress position,” Snape ridiculed crudely. “But really, how many chances am I going to be given?” He shook his head in mock wonder.
Could he really have…Snape had lied? Harry thought, stunned with rage.
No, that couldn’t be true, Snape had saved him after all, his mind thought furiously.
Dazle had been Snape’s house-elf.
Snape had said so himself.
But what if that was a lie as well?
The pendant’s magic played up, and he could feel the tendrils of dark magic touch his mind silkily, almost intimately. It was murmuring to him in a soft tempting whisper, dancing around his thoughts in hypnotising swirls.
Snape had lied to them, Harry’s brain concluded abruptly. Of course he had. Snape was a Death Eater, and he hadn’t changed at all. He was a murderer!
The Releaser throbbed almost painfully against his chest as its magic swamped his mind, burning him where it touched his skin with the scorching heat that was radiating ruthlessly from it.
He is a filthy little liar, his mind continued to screech heatedly. He just wants the pendant all for himself; he wants to keep its magic all to himself!
Harry shook his head firmly to clear off the daze that hugged his thoughts.
No, it couldn’t be; it just didn’t add up or make sense…
He is a murderer. The voice spoke up in his head more persistent and defined this time.
He has come to kill you and take the pendant away from you.
He is a murderer!
Harry’s face had lost all his colour and his shaking kept getting worse and worse, as the pendant kept poisoning his mind slowly; the objects still whirling around the room started to pick up pace and twisted around him and Snape in a flurry of magic. The noise was deafening as the objects clattered against each other and the generated wind howled between the walls of the Hospital Wing like an outraged banshee.
“You’ll soon join your filthy Mudblood mother and your father, that disgusting excuse for a wizard, James Potter,” Snape spat, a livid sneer playing on his features, aiming his wand directly at Harry’s heart.
“I’ve wanted to kill you ever since I laid my eyes on you. You always had been the splitting image of your father of course, in all his arrogance and recklessness. His habit of discarding the rules as if they didn’t apply to him,” he snarled, his yellowed teeth flashing ferociously in the dim light.
“I had to abandon my persisting desire; I couldn’t very well murder you right under the nose of Albus Dumbledore. But now that he’s not here to protect his precious little hero, I’ll finally be able to do as I wish.”
He is a murderer, he is a killer, he is a Death Eater, he is evil…kept being chanted through his brain in an intoxicating hymn, and as the tendrils of magic curled around him like a soft woolly blanket not filtering out cold but his every rational thought, he found himself slowly agreeing.
Snape had lied, he had killed Dumbledore because he wanted to, he had come to kill him and now Harry was going to die without any means to defend himself because he still didn’t have his wand. He was sure he would not be able to control all the wild magic that was consuming him if he tried.
Snape had lied to them. Harry could not believe that they had believed him so easily. How dare Snape come back to Hogwarts, the very place he had defiled and tainted for ever with the murder of Dumbledore? How dare he come in here and lie to them!
He was sure that Ron and Hermione would not look at him the way they had; eyes opened wide in fright after he told them the truth about Snape! He was sure.
His face contorted and blackened with rage, his nostrils flared angrily, and his black eyes swivelled with unrestrained animosity as he clenched his hands into fists. He could feel his nails pushing painfully into the soft skin of his palms as he looked into Snape’s dark eyes.
Harry couldn’t think. He was unable to add up the simplest of facts or form a logical conclusion. He was just so furious, blinded by his outrage and rage; it was as if the whole world had been saturated in a fog of sweltering red.
“And after I’ve killed you, Potter,” Snape simpered nastily. “I will kill your annoying little friends too. Goodbye,” he hissed, his wand still aimed at him.
Harry spread his arms wide when he felt himself soaring just above the floor again and his magic shot him forward, he all but flew at Snape in a fit of rage, arms stretched before him, his hands bent like claws ready to slash at the mans hated face.
A flash of white light speared from Snape’s wand and towards Harry, and seconds before Harry reached him the non-verbal spell Snape had used exploded.
Right in front of Harry a large mirror had materialised, successfully blocking Snape from his vision.
He stopped to a stuttering halt, almost going right through the glass, as he was forced to take in his reflection.
What he saw made his heart stop beating in his chest for long seconds and he recoiled backwards as if he had been slapped across the face brutishly with an iron fist.
In the mirror he saw himself hovering slightly above the ground, towering tall and imposing. His skin was a sickly pale hue that glowed with the silver-blue colour the pendant always shone with now. His long black unruly locks floundered restlessly in every direction as if hit with an overdose of electricity, and on his face that was twisted in fury, its complexion totally unrecognisable, his lightning bold scar flamed, emblazoned with a bloody crimson that overshadowed the fiercest sun.
However the most frightening of all his shocking features were his eyes.
They were soiled with the colour of charcoal, swivelling and gleaming freakishly like big black marbles; the white of his eyes a stark contrast against the black of his irises and pupils. Under his lids there were dark shadows displayed, coiled like tiny slithering snakes in a ring of deep grey, making his face look gaunt and haggard as ever.
He looked at the unfamiliar features in the mirror and blanched. That couldn’t be him could it? The person reflected before him was glowing with an aura of the blackest and most ancient of magics, almost inhuman.
Snape’s voice boomed from behind the mirror, “See what you are becoming, Potter? Do you want to be what you see? A creature of darkness, unable to think your own thoughts, controlled like a puppet on a string!”
No, this couldn’t be true, his mind told him. Snape has tampered with that mirror, that’s not me!
He drifted closer to the glass, and saw his reflection become bigger, then laid his right hand on the cool glass, and watched as his reflection did the same.
“Are you still angry with your friends for being afraid of you when you look like this?” Snape demanded.
The words penetrated through the screen of magic that shielded him and they stung and shattered something inside of him.
His friends had seen him, like this? The thought alone made him feel nauseous, and he had to frantically restrain himself to avoid emptying his still unfilled stomach of the bile that burned his insides.
The mirror wasn’t lying to him, it couldn’t be. Snape wasn’t lying to him, how could he when the evidence in front of him was so clear? How could he blame his friends for being afraid of him when in fact he frightening himself?
His rage left him swiftly and frighteningly like a sudden winter blizzard being swallowed by a great and commanding force, in its stead an enormous tangle of anxiety seemed to have tied itself as rope around his stomach, and he felt cold.
Snape continued relentlessly, “The longer you wear that poisonous thing, the more you will change.”
Harry looked at his reflection and lowered his gaze to the pendant that was still resting on his chest. It gave of a light so bright that the glow cut right through the dimness of the infirmary and made his eyes water painfully.
“See what it has done to you within a week! You need to take it off!”
But you don’t want to feel the pain Harry…
You don’t want to feel the misery and hurt, that’s why you need me Harry… the pendant lisped tenderly at him.
Harry stretched out his lips until they were as white as chalk, looked at his reflection and grimaced even more deeply as if that were possible.
He didn’t want to be controlled by his emotions, that was true.
He needed this.
He needed to feel the hollow emptiness that had him floating on a current of complete numbness ever since he had roared his emotions away.
He hadn’t wanted to take his friends to search for the Horcruxes anyway, and that meant that they wouldn’t have to be afraid of him, because he wouldn’t be near them.
It would be better for everyone if he just kept the Releaser for a while longer, even if he did look like death warmed up. He wouldn’t endanger his friends this way, and he would be able to hunt down the Horcruxes without any emotional restrains.
“I…I can’t take it off, I just can’t…” Harry whispered, his hands still clenched in fists, but now they were trembling, though not in anger but disconcertion.
“It is lying to you Potter,” Snape shouted. “What do you think the next step will be? After you’ve lost your ability to feel so thoroughly and your appearance has changed even more drastically? And I can assure you, that they will continue to alter!” he continued angrily, clearly frustrated and annoyed.
“I don’t know,” breathed Harry, his heart was pounding in his chest like a hammer beating away viciously, “but it doesn’t matter, all that matters right now is the destruction of the Horcruxes,” he said more to convince himself than Snape.
“No!” Snape barked furiously as he stepped out from behind the cover of the large mirror. His eyes were blazing and his stance was strong and menacing, Harry could clearly see the powerful wizard that was standing before him, demanding him to see reason by sheer will alone.
“What will happen is that you won’t have a mind left of your own! The pendant is designed to make the bearer do evil…evil, do you understand the definition of evil or have you not listened to anything I’ve said Potter?” Snape demanded heatedly.
“So what!” Harry countered. “It’s not like I would ever hurt anyone,” he concluded weakly, doubting his own words as soon as they had left the comfort of his inner thoughts. He did not know why this was affecting him as it was, had the pendant lost some of its power already because of his hesitation?
Snape’s eyes glittered in a sinister way, and he sneered at Harry’s uncertainty.
“That is exactly what you will do, you foolish boy. You have been releasing powerful dark magic all day. You’ve nearly destroyed the whole Hospital Wing, and could have seriously injured one of your friends with one of your more fierce emissions of magic. Just look around you, that’s the reason why they are frightened of you!”
The infirmary was unrecognisably ruined. Windows had cracked, pillars were dented, bed frames were utterly broken and thrown around like mere rag dolls, all kinds of medical equipment littered the floor, pillows and mattresses were lying torn like plucked chickens and broken shards of potion bottles were strewn, glittering and covering what seemed to be the entire floor.
Harry just gaped at the destroyed Hospital Wing in shock, he started to shiver all over and he felt something creeping on his skin, but didn’t know what it was.
He had done this? How…he hadn’t even realised!
When Snape next spoke, his voice was calm and commanding, his words cut right through the stubborn but weakening hold of the pendant.
“Maybe you will inadvertently hurt an innocent bystander at first, and maybe you will convince yourself that it was just an accident, only one little accident. But what will you tell yourself when the pendant has blackened your heart to a crisp and you find yourself not caring at all whether you hurt someone or not? Will you tell yourself it is all for the cause, that there was no other way? That the end justifies the means, and that some people just get caught in the crossfire, when you could have prevented their death?”
“No…no I wouldn’t, I’d…never,” Harry stammered feebly, he stumbled backwards not wanting to look at his damnable reflection any longer and almost fell over an astray bedpan.
Snape advanced on him unrelenting.
“You wouldn’t would you?” he mocked mirthlessly, “No of course not, you’re the hero of the Wizarding world, the Boy Who Lived, you’d never let yourself be tempted by darkness, how foolish of me to even consider.” He feigned regret.
Harry looked at Snape and was eerily reminded of the conversation he had with Malfoy at Spinner’s End, when Malfoy had sneered at him just as Snape had done just now, and had told him how he knew Harry had tried to use the Cruciatus on Bellatrix Lestrange.
Snape’s eyes glittered maliciously and he chuckled darkly, “Yes I know about that as well, and may I remind you that was you, attempting dark magic without the pendant.”
Harry flinched, eyes wide in alarm as he took another involuntary step backwards. Snape, had snatched his thoughts right from his mind, had read his deliberations written in the deep creases of his ashen eyes. Occlumency.
Snape’s voice turned to steel and his glimmering eyes hardened visibly. “And if I were you I definitely would not forget last year, when you nearly murdered Mr. Malfoy with one of my inventions,” he spat. “You may not have known what the spell was for, as you claim, but that doesn’t take away the fact that you had been successful in casting it in the first place! That should tell you more then enough about yourself, ‘hero of the Wizarding world’ indeed,” Snape snorted contemptuously.
Snape wasn’t lying. Harry had been tempted by darkness; right after Sirius had been ripped from his life so suddenly and brutally. He would have killed Bellatrix Lestrange right then and there if he had possessed the power to do so, and would have left her body to rot for all to see in the atrium of the Ministry.
But his slate remained clean, he hadn’t killed, and Malfoy hadn’t died that day in Myrtle’s bathroom.
“You could you know, you certainly look the part,” Snape started, again calm and composed, his face blank as a white linen sheet, his voice indifferent, “become like him, heartless and numb to all but hate, slowly beginning to feel exhilarated by the devastations and ruins all around you, glorifying in one, and one state of mind only; revenge.”
Oh how gratifying it would be! Whispered the pendant at him lovingly, stroking his mind softly as if it were its familiar.
No! Harry thought desperately.
What had it been that Voldemort had said to him?
That he had remarkably good features, a talent for dark magic. Voldemort’s features.
Great features worthy of Salazar himself! I can see it too it lies dormant within you, talents that should not be wasted! The releaser lisped intensely, excitedly.
No…he wouldn’t ever…
Let me help you Harry, with me guiding you and showing you the way to absolute power you will be great. No one would be able to stop us…no one!
Harry’s body started to shudder more violently, as if he were standing in the centre of an earthquake. The creeping on his skin that he’d felt earlier became more pronounced and covered his arms with goosebumps, as his hackles rose. He knew exactly what it was now.
Dread for the truth that Snape was speaking. Dread for what the pendant, he, just minutes ago had firmly believed, was telling him now.
Dread…for the pendant which had become his solace, his friend.
His only hope.
His drawn face lost even more of its colour, which made him appear almost as translucent as one of the Hogwarts ghosts, and the pendant that hung from his neck started to lose its flaring silver-blue light.
“Everything else would be insignificant,” continued Snape insistently as he noticed the change in the pendant.
Snape looked him right in the eye unwavering, and Harry had to remind himself to breathe when the ex-Potions Master’s gaze not only seemed to penetrate his thoughts but his very soul.
“Revenge. Revenge for your parents, revenge for Sirius, and revenge for everyone you lost at the hands of him and his followers,” interjected Snape fiercely in between Harry’s thoughts, “And if you succeed in destroying him, what will you do with your hate? What will you do with all the pent up emotions? Would you become the next Dark Lord to arise from the ashes of the one you burned down?”
You could become the next Dark Lord; I would make you do so many magnificent things! The Releaser practically preened, not yet noticing that that was the wrong thing to say.
You’re wrong, it isn’t true…I would never! Harry screeched back at it wildly, his mind nearly exploding from all the conflicting thoughts that wildly coursed through it.
“Or would you join his ranks?” Snape pressed on heatedly, his voice resonating through the ruins of the Hospital Wing loudly.
No, he would never become like Voldemort! Harry wouldn’t allow it. He would never be like the man that had killed his parents and had brought so much desolation to so many that had not deserved what had been done to them.
“The pendant, would only aid and feed the darkness that already resides within you, it would add to it and make sure it would consume you ever faster, you must take it off!”
Snape really wasn’t lying, and Harry could now see that he hadn’t lied to him or the others either but only pretended that he had to some how make Harry see.
And Harry saw now, he saw it so clearly.
Convulsions shook Harry’s lithe frame even more deeply, and he could feel the tendrils around his mind hissing and shrieking in pain as if they were being sated in the hot boiled oil of his revulsion and denouncement. He could feel them melting and weeping within him like infants, begging him to reconsider. Telling him that he would be nothing without it, that he’d be weak and worthless, a hopeless sack of brimming emotions.
Snape was still talking, but Harry couldn’t hear him anymore. All that he heard and saw was himself and the pendant as he stared back into the mirror. A scorching disgust and loathing awakened upon what he saw, and the still insistent wailing of the pendant made his teeth gnash like chalk on a chalkboard.
It was all so clear to him now; this thing wasn’t his hope at all.
It was his condemnation.
He saw his hand in the reflection of the mirror twist upwards, as it moved towards the Releaser. The chain felt cold and as weighty as lead in his open palm. There was almost no light shining off it now.
The pendant wasn’t begging him anymore, it knew it had lost, instead it was furious and Harry could once again feel the heavy dark and poisonous magic humming and drumming, pounding his very foundation relentlessly as it had done when Dazle had hung it around his neck and it had first touched his bare skin. He felt nauseous and dazed, but most of all repulsed.
He lifted the chain, and for one frightened moment, as he went to lift it over his head completely he feared that it wouldn’t come off and that he had to bear the Releaser until his dying day and until far beyond in the afterlife. But it did go over his head, and soon it was lying in his hand.
He turned to look at it once more in a moment of weakness, with a sense of loss and regret when it struck out one last time with a desperate force and taint of blackness that seemed to sear Harry’s skin to ash through where the Releaser still touched him and connected with him, obliterating his bones to dust.
Agony as he had never felt before rushed through him, it weakened his legs to quivering sticks and he fell to his knees his head tilted up skywards as a last torrent of black magic ripped through him mercilessly, back arching and mouth opened wide as a scream that could have wakened the dead was pulled out of it.
Harry tried to let go of the pendant, but it wouldn’t budge as he turned his hand upside down. It stuck to the palm of his hand as if burned into his flesh. Blood was pounding in his ears, and he could feel all the rage and darkness of the Releaser grind into him as if marking him, marking every inch and cell of his body.
He didn’t understand.
He had done what Snape told him to do; he had taken the pendant off.
What was happening?
His eyes searched wildly and found Snape staring at him in horror, his face paler then normal and Harry was sure he definitely saw concern flicker across the man’s face this time.
Harry gazed back at him in panic, tears of pain blurring his vision, while the pendant still pumped that torrent of vileness through his body.
It could only have been seconds since he had pulled the treacherous thing over his head but it felt like hours. No; days.
Snape’s voice charged through his stupor of pain and with a lightning fast “Accio!” that not only seemed to tear the pendant away from him but his whole arm as well, the Releaser finally left his skin.
Harry sagged to the floor completely, relief drowning out everything else. Every sense, feeling or clear thought he could muster seemed to be a far away thing that wasn’t important until confronted with directly.
Snape had already tucked the chain away safely in his black billowing robes and was striding toward him. He was beside him so quickly, dragging Harry up painfully by his shoulders peering into his face with intent eyes that seemed to burn, that Harry could have sworn he had Apparated if he hadn’t been lectured countless of times by Hermione about the impossibility of Apparating in Hogwarts or its grounds.
Snape’s big callused hands came up to feel his cheeks, next his forehead then back to his chin, tilting his face this way and that, scrutinizing him with a wave of emotions Harry never had thought existed in the man, he could now definitely identify concern among those emotions.
Harry frowned at him trying to push away, but Snape’s grip was like steel and after a few futile attempts to get some distance between them, he figured his legs probably wouldn’t be able to support him in his current state anyway, and gave up, instead, contented himself with glaring at the man.
To his surprise Snape’s dark eyes widened fractionally, and he felt the man stiffen as his hand drew back from Harry’s face as if burned, his mouth pressing into a thin horizontal line.
Harry frowned again, but this time in confusion.
He had glared at the Potions Master countless of times before, it was practically his set expression for looking at Snape, but never had his glares have any visible effects on the man and he hadn’t expected it to have now. He had just glared out of habit.
“What?” Harry grated without thought, still consumed by his relief. He was breathing heavily, and he noticed that he was actually the one that was leaning on Snape now. His legs felt as if they had competed in a marathon and wanted to fall out underneath him like dominoes. His entire body felt exhausted and bruised all over, muscles burning and aching with the slightest motions.
Snape narrowed his eyes, brought both of his hands back up to the sides of Harry’s face, definitely more hesitant this time Harry noted, and resumed peering into his face as if trying to read something far away, while sneering at him.
Well, Snape tried to sneer at him anyway; it actually looked more like a half-grimace half-sneer, which Harry decided after a few seconds of contemplation, was decidedly worse.
“What?” Harry demanded again, but he might as well have been talking to a stone for all the answers he got. His eyes flashed in annoyance and he sighed loudly and immediately wished he hadn’t as the considerable up and down wards motion of his chest felt as if a cleaver was hacking his ribs into pieces of firewood.
After that, breathing felt like swallowing large strips of barbwire every time he inhaled, and purging even larger pieces of barbwire back up whenever he exhaled, so he focussed on not breathing at all which consequently led to not talking either.
He gripped his arms around his burning chest and gritted his teeth, suppressing the low painful moan that threatened to escape with difficulty, and went back to glaring.
This time glaring did nothing except for bringing a faint expression of wry amusement on Snape’s face, as he kept on examining Harry closely, which made Harry’s eyes bulge outward in incredulity.
Well maybe the eye bulging had also something to do with the fact that his last supply of fresh air had been a good twenty-five seconds ago, he thought grimly.
By the expression on Snape’s face the bastard knew exactly what was bothering him and was deliberately not answering his questions to see if Harry was foolish enough to keep demanding explanations, and continue not to breathe.
Snape flashed his teeth menacingly, and half-sneered half-grimaced for all he was worth, staring into Harry’s eyes still with more then a hint of dark amusement, taunting him to ask his question again, taunting him to breathe.
Harry set his jaw stubbornly, straightened himself in Snape’s grasp stiffly albeit slowly, wincing a little, and just gazed back at the man with one insolent eyebrow raised.
Still not breathing.
Snape’s grimace seemed to have filtered itself out of the sneer entirely as he realised Harry wasn’t planning on talking or breathing for that matter, leaving behind one of his more disdainful expressions to darken his face back to its original colour. Which was still awfully pale, mind you, but at least this was something Harry could deal with, it was familiar seeing Snape look at him this way, and when he tried, he could almost ignore the fact that Snape’s sneer didn’t reach his eyes. Eyes that still seemed to flicker across Harry’s face with worry.
Dark spots started to float before his vision and he could practically feel his face fading away from a deep angry red to a sickly blue hue with each passing second, but he refused to give the man any satisfaction.
And that…that man was still just looking at him with those slightly troubled eyes that made Harry want to scream and tear his hair out. Instead of answering Snape was shaking his head in open disgust, rolling his eyes to the heavens as if asking a higher power for patience. The Potions Master let out a long suffering sigh, and then turned his eyes back to Harry’s face to give him an equally long level look.
And then his face changed.
The first thing Harry noticed was that Snape’s eyes seemed to get bigger. To be completely honest he actually thought Snape must have gotten something in his eyes because they started to twitch alarmingly causing the lines near the edges to become more pronounced, Harry wasn’t really sure.
Then the ends of his lips started the battle of turning upwards, and Harry could see the muscles in his face clearly struggling against the upwards motion as if in conflict with itself. And then his mouth started to stretch out, and his gaunt cheeks jutted upwards, his lips parted and a sliver of yellow teeth became visible all the while his eyes were still twitching frantically, and they actually seemed to shine with effort.
Maybe Snape was getting ill, he thought hopefully. He certainly didn’t look very comfortable with his face straining like that.
It would serve him right, thought Harry viciously.
“Are you quite finished? No?” Snape spoke calmly. “Well then, I’ll just stand here while you suffocate yourself to death and make all of or lives easier,” he continued pleasantly.
And with a dawning horror that almost seemed to stop his heart beating in his chest Harry realised what it was Snape was doing.
He was smiling.
He was actually smiling!
It was so disconcerting that before Harry could stop himself he had flinched back, eyes opened wide in shock as his brows climbed up to hide behind a raven lock of hair that flittered across his forehead. He was so stunned that he froze completely; his head that was already lacking sufficient oxygen seemed to be determined in wanting to roll off his torso.
It wasn’t a friendly smile at all Harry admitted, and he didn’t think Snape meant it to be anywhere near friendly.
He just stared at the man as if Snape had gone insane, mouth opening and closing feverishly, Harry felt himself shake, especially his head.
He felt light-headed, his vision blurring abruptly; which was kind of a relief because he didn’t want to look at that…that ‘smile’ any longer, and he was swaying like straw in the wind, desperate and helpless to nature. He didn’t seem to be able to think at all no matter how hard he tried, it was as if his brain had shut down on him and someone had closed thick blinds all around him so that he found himself in a fast nearing darkness.
A hand descended upon his cheek with excruciating speed that made his skin flare and his neck to snap back in surprise. He yelped loudly clutching his cheek, which caused a flood of air to rush into his empty lungs, and he wheezed dangerously as he realised he had actually forgotten he wasn’t breathing and had just kept on not breathing when Snape had stunned him with that hideous smile of his.
“I always knew you weren’t the brightest bulb in the box, but even I wouldn’t have thought you would be dim-witted enough to actually forget to breathe!” Snape simpered.
It took a moment for Harry to get his bearings and when he did he growled dangerously at the man. Snape had hit him! How dare he? He didn’t care how often Snape had saved his life; he had probably saved his life just now again, he reflected sourly.
But that still gave him no right to hit him like that! He could have found a different way to remind him how to…to breathe.
He flushed like a flame as soon as that embarrassing thought had slithered out of his contemplations.
Only an idiot forgets how to breathe, he thought savagely.
He opened his stubborn mouth to say something scathing anyway and to demand an apology, after all Snape was not his teacher anymore; Harry was no longer afraid to stand up against him scared of retributions, but before he could utter a single word Snape cut him off.
“I don’t have time for your foolish pride boy,” he snapped, “tell me, what do you feel?”
“I feel fine,” he snapped back immediately, without sparing so much as a second of thought for the answer. He flushed an even deeper embarrassing red, until he figured his face must have resembled a bonfire instead of a single flame. Why did this man always know how to infuriate him so?
He stiffened his back, on the point of telling the Potions Master that he wouldn’t stand for it, that he wouldn’t be bullied by him any longer. But as he met Snape’s commanding stare with an opposing stare of his own, something in those smouldering eyes stopped him short.
The worry, which he had detected before but had ignored, were so prominent in that gaze that it curdled his tongue as effectively as if a knife had cut it off. It all dawned on him again like a shower of ice water; the Portotalus, the pendant and its lies and Snape taking the pendant away from him in that moment of agony when it refused to come off his skin.
He realised that he had been acting every bit the fool Snape was making him out to be.
In that torrent of relief he had felt after the wretched thing left his palm, he had banished everything from his immediate thoughts to just be relieved that the poisonous touch of dark magic had stopped thundering through him like a black monstrous creature. His heart had stopped clutching in torment, and he had let himself fall to the floor as his limbs gave way.
After that his mind had been too confounded to realise what he was doing or saying, he had been an idiot to let himself wander so far.
Snape tightened his hold on Harry’s shoulders, unaware of his nails that were digging in Harry’s flesh painfully. He leaned in even closer, his eyes like burning black torches that could melt metal.
“Don’t you lie to me,” he hissed. “What do you feel? Tell me. Now,” demanded Snape.
What did he feel?
Harry guessed he still felt relieved.
He also felt a bit bruised and his muscles ached as if he had had a very intense match of Quidditch that lasted all day.
He did feel tired.
And his lungs still felt as if they had been on fire, and that fire had only recently burned itself out.
Other then that, he also felt a bit annoyed with himself but most of all with Snape, but he didn’t consider that anything new or out of the ordinary.
“I…don’t know,” he replied hesitantly.
“What do you mean you don’t know,” exploded Snape clearly on the edge of his patience, not that Harry suspected he actually had much to begin with. Eyes wide and commanding, Snape started shaking Harry with his hands that still held a painful grip on him, as if he could rattle the answer out of Harry’s brain if he only used enough force.
“Think!” Snape bit out harshly.
Harry gritted his teeth in frustration and tried to struggle against the mans hold. “I don’t know! I don’t know!” he shouted angrily, “I don’t know how I feel; I don’t know what I feel. I don’t feel anything.
“I feel nothing alright!” his voice echoed deafeningly through the ruined Hospital Wing.
He was breathing heavily and scowling furiously and then he realised what it was he had just shouted and gasped. It was the odd detachment that disconnected him from everything that he identified with crystal clarity now. That floating screen of stoicism that he could feel had created a barrier around his basic emotions so that he could still recognise them and know what they meant, but he thought he no longer would be able to actually touch or feel most of them.
Snape’s face looked stricken, at least Harry thought it had a second ago, before he blinked and glowered back into an eerily blank and composed face, which made him second-guess himself and conclude he must have imagined it.
Snape’s arms dropped from his shoulders and to Harry’s surprise he could stand unsupported, although still wavering slightly.
“Nothing?” restated Snape softly, impassively. His eyes dull and his face smoothed out carefully into an expressionless mask.
Harry nodded slowly, rubbing one of his sore shoulders, his face darkening and shooting a heated look at the man in front of him. He had known he could still feel anger.
“Are you quite certain?” Snape asked, his voice almost a whisper now, ignoring the murderous look on Harry’s face.
“Yes,” Harry bit out sourly, looking at Snape curiously.
The silence that fell was as loud as a thunderclap.
They just stood there for a few minutes, looking at each other standing in the midst of broken shards and littered objects, overturned beds and smashed medical equipment. Harry was still trying to set Snape’s face on fire with his glower, and Snape was still looking at Harry blankly as if he were trying to look at the cracked wall behind him by looking through Harry.
Abruptly Snape’s gaze seemed to focus, and his dark eyes looked at Harry with the deep intensity his stare always carried. He stood rigid, back stiff and head high, his expression of nothing transforming back into his famous scornful sneer as if it never had left his face. And when he next spoke, he seemed to be back to his resentful self again.
“Well, it could have been worse,” he sneered at Harry sardonically, eyes flashing dangerously, “the backlash of the pendant could as well have fried your brain to a crisp like it has done to most bearers, as I originally thought it had. Not that that would have been a discernible difference in your case, of course,” he mocked maliciously.
Harry clenched his fists in irritation, and crushed his lips together determinedly until there seemed to be no blood circulating through them anymore.
“What must now be done, and done immediately will be beginning to determine how severe the damage is.”
Harry nodded again, this time grudgingly.
He could see sense in what Snape said.
He was certain that he wasn’t insane, but he wasn’t so sure in how far that pendant had hurt him physically. If he was going to hunt for the Horcruxes soon; he needed to be fit and he realised that he also didn’t really mind not being able to feel the pain and grief that was shielded behind that thick solid wall of stoicism. He could feel it there, he was aware of the fact that it was there and he was glad that he didn’t have to deal with those emotions presently. He didn’t really understand completely, he knew he felt certain things, like anger for example, but at times he didn’t feel anything at all.
“I’m afraid you’re going to need your wand for that,”
“My wand? Well, I don’t have it. McGonagall probably has it for safe keeping, it isn’t here.”
Snape sneered at him again. “You believe McGonagall has your wand?” he deadpanned, one perfect shaped eyebrow raised mockingly.
“Well, yes,” he answered, frowning, “she would-” have kept it safe for me. That’s what he had planned on saying before he had cut himself off as a disturbing memory played out before his eyes.
Him on his knees, searching wildly for a way to defend himself. Turning around. His own wand, being pointed at him by a steady pale arm, and a sneering grey-eyed gaze.
“Malfoy,” he deduced wearily, he sighed and ran a hand through his unmanageable black hair in resignation.
Malfoy had been the last person to have his wand, he thought glumly.
Malfoy who was dead.
Snape flashed his teeth and peered down his long hooked-nose at Harry as if looking at a very determined insect that had avoided being crushed too many times. His black greasy hair was framing his thin sour looking face like a curtain of slime.
“But Malfoy is dead,” Harry replied flatly.
Snape’s condescending scowl was so cold, that it would not have been far fetched to believe it could freeze Harry’s insides to ice, and harvest icicles to hang from his nose.
Without another word he turned on his heel, his robes flying angrily with the abrupt movement, and strode resolutely towards the large, dented doors of the infirmary, which remarkably were still closed and locked.
Before Snape had reached the way out, he lifted his wand and the double-doors rocketed open, smashing roughly against the walls that loomed on either side. The sound of his boots; crunching broken items underneath his soles sharply trailed after him, as he soon vanished through the doors and down the hall, leaving Harry to stare after him with a confused frown on his face.
Did Snape blame Malfoy’s death on him?
He probably did, Harry thought, letting out a long suffering sigh.
Snape had always been successful in finding ways to make everything Harry’s fault. But this time Harry could not exactly blame him.
Snape had clearly done everything in his power to ensure Malfoy’s safety. He even claimed Dumbledore had asked him to save Malfoy, which Harry did not doubt.
After all, he still recalled clearly how Dumbledore had offered Malfoy protection; for him and his family that day on the tower.
After all he had been the one to ruin all Snape’s precautions by destroying the shield that had been cast over Spinner’s End, number thirty-one, and storming in like a rabid dog to only let himself get caught and marched off to the Death-Eaters like a pup to the dog pound.
He assumed Snape had been one of the few people in Hogwarts to actually like Malfoy besides the other Slytherins. Well, he wasn’t exactly sure in how far Snape’s emotions could actually like or be fond of someone, true. But he was certain that Snape had cared for Draco Malfoy.
Well, Harry refused to allege that he would miss Malfoy even if he was partly to blame. He had not liked Malfoy, not one bit. And he considered it safe to say that the feeling had been mutual. It would only be pretentious to act as if he did or had for that matter, now.
He started forward in a trot to catch up with Snape, as he noted that his ex-professor had just reached the end of the corridor and vanished around the corner in a swirl of robes.
Harry had only taken two steps before his face contorted in pain and he hissed audibly when he felt sharp pieces of glass and stone dig into his bare feet piercingly and made him halt in an abrupt stop.
He was still wearing his pyjamas, which also meant that he wasn’t wearing any shoes.
He searched around for a clear path across the room but was gloomily disappointed when all he found was a fractured floor, littered with what seemed to be an endless sea of brilliant chunks of glass and pottery; broken bottles, potion vials, cups and mugs, several fragile medical apparatuses and appliances that had been shattered. Pots of variable sizes all in shards, crunched vases and bowls, smashed plates and basins and what seemed like every single thing that could have been classified as frail had fallen to pieces, blanketing the entire Hospital Wing.
He grimaced and feverishly wished he had slippers on, but standing here all day wishing for slippers would not make them appear, and it would not get Harry out of the Hospital Wing.
He gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into white-knuckled fists and started for the doors again that still stood wide open, this time more slowly and careful of where he placed his feet. Tiptoeing and manoeuvring his way across, cringing each time a particularly thorny shard seared through the thin layer of skin underneath his feet, he finally managed to reach the doors out of the infirmary.
As he finally stepped over the threshold and through the doorway into the corridor, he lifted his feet up one at a time and picked out several persistent glass splinters that had attached themselves like glue to the bottom of his feet.
The cuts were numerous but shallow, and did not hurt exactly; just a sort of unpleasant stinging that was rather irritating. There was also some blood, but not so much that it could be a bother to him; he just ignored it while at the same time nurturing a malicious thought that Filch would hopefully be the one to be saddled with the mundane task of cleaning his blood from the stone tiles all over the castle.
And the best part; without being able to get Harry into trouble for it.
He contemplated walking crisscross through every existing corridor in Hogwarts, before he realised that would be very impractical, not to mention take him days to accomplish.
He stood up stiffly and peered into the hallway. He had not expected Snape to wait for him while he was busy cutting his own feet to shreds trying to cross the infirmary, so Harry wasn’t surprised when he learnt that his assumption had been a correct one.
The passageway was eerily clear of life. The stone walls seemed almost bleak and hollow as if they knew something was missing, as if they could feel the absence of Albus Dumbledore.
Muttering to himself, Harry broke into a run that was far from painless. Even though his muscles had been allowed some time to warm and gather a shred of strength, he still felt decidedly faint and weariness seemed to loom over him like a giant waiting to pounce and crush him.
He hobbled awkwardly through the empty corridor wincing with every step, staggered around the corner where Snape had disappeared from sight and stopped.
It had taken Harry at least ten minutes to leave the Hospital Wing and remove the glass from his heels.
Which meant Snape could be anywhere by now.
He looked around in frustration as if to find some clue written in the air of which way to go to uncover the hated man’s location when a thought occurred to him.
The Great Hall.
There were people in the Great Hall.
Harry was sure Madam Pomfrey had mentioned something about people being there at one point. At least it was better than roaming through the entire castle until he stumbled upon a form of life by chance or managed to bleed to death from the tiny little cuts that marred his feet.
He nodded to himself and made up his mind as he continued his wobbly stride along the corridor, down a flight of marble stairs, into the vast Entrance Hall which he crossed swiftly, and to the massive wooden double doors of Great Hall that stood wide open.
What he saw still managed to surprise him despite the fact that he had known to some extent that Hogwarts had some early residents.
People were occupying the vast chamber, seemingly enjoying a spot of lunch underneath a ceiling of bright blue sky that reflected the weather outside, where the sun undoubtedly shone brilliantly. Every table appeared to be partially in use by small clusters of wizards and witches here and there, chattering amicably to one another while eating chicken and ham sandwiches, rolls, sausages and toast washed down by mugs of tea, or pumpkin juice-filled goblets.
What really made him stare as if his eyes were about to pop out and fall to the floor was the fact that there weren’t merely students but entire families. He recognised several of the DA members surrounded by parents, sisters and brothers, and some other students he knew by face but never in truth had spoken to.
He saw Luna dressed in a lime-green ruffled dress with earrings that looked to be made of seashells sitting with what Harry thought must be her father; a grizzled short fellow with hair that exploded around his face like a hedgehog, wearing thick-glassed, oval-shaped goggles on his bold nose and a bright yellow robe that seemed to be far too wide, decorated with red embroidery of a creature Harry had never seen before. A matching top hat was resting on the table next to his plate.
The obvious connection could not be missed by anyone short of blind.
They were sitting next to Padma and Parvati Patil at the Ravenclaw table, who were crammed in between their parents wearing identical sulky frowns.
Padma was idly stirring her porridge with a spoon while Parvati appeared to be trying to kill her toast with her knife by stabbing it relentlessly over and over again; both were alternating between shooting dark glares at their father and mother, and pouting in frustration as they were fastidiously ignored.
Over at the Hufflepuff table Zacharias Smith was talking soothingly to a slender strawberry-blond woman in light blue robes who had an equally blond child in her lap; a boy of about six years old playing with fried egg on his mother’s plate. Her eyes were rimmed with red as if she had been crying recently, and Smith cast his eyes about quickly, a faint rose colour painted his cheeks, seemingly embarrassed.
At the end of that table he observed Susan Bones, her hair sported into the long plait that fanned down her back, amidst what Harry supposed were her mother and father and what must be an older brother of about Bill’s age.
A stab of guilt made his stomach flutter accusingly as his eyes swept over the Gryffindor table to a small assembly of red heads. A decidedly smaller gathering then it should have been.
Ron was furiously chomping down on a roll, oblivious to his surroundings, his arm already reaching out for a chicken sandwich before he took the last bite out of his roll.
Hermione was sitting close to his left, shaking her head in desolated disgust. Her lips opening and closing fiercely, and although Harry could not hear the words she uttered, he was certain she was berating Ron for his abysmal table manners, while balancing a gigantic tome with yellowed pages, which were sometimes curled at the ends, in her lap.
Ron, however, gave no outward sign of hearing anything at all.
Arthur Weasley sat slumped on the bench opposite him, reading the Daily Prophet which cover looked to consist of an enormous moving image of a house that was burning. Huge flames lapped up the walls on the page, consuming the entire building, before the whole construction crumpled down in a heap of dust and ash. The Dark Mark appeared, slashing a vicious green overhead while the protruding serpent’s tongue slithered across the paper.
Aghast, Harry looked on as the whole thing started anew.
A large bandage was rolled all around Arthur’s head, his robes were wrinkled and he had a slight stubble covering his chin. He looked as if he had not slept in a week’s time, which Harry admitted despondently, he probably hadn’t.
George was sitting next to him, he was visibly a striking contrast to his father’s dejected appearance. He was wearing one of those cheeky grins that said he knew something you didn’t, and you would find out soon in a most unpleasant and inconvenient fashion if he had any say in the matter, while whispering with Lee Jordan, heads bowed low together.
Harry narrowed his eyes and quickly scanned the room for Fred but was unable to spot him, which made him decidedly uncomfortable.
He was as sure as the sun would come up tomorrow and start a new day that this could only mean one single thing: trouble.
Out of seemingly no where an outbreak of black robes swooped down on him like a large bat from the high ceiling, dragging him by the scruff of his neck, forward toward the teachers table where Headmistress McGonagall sat, gazing levelly over the unusual gathering.
By the silence that fell over the room as he was huddled forward harshly, occasionally broken by a gasp or a quick whispered word, no one had noticed him standing still in the entrance before now.
“Look who it is, the hero of the Wizarding world has finally decided to grace us with his presence,” hissed Snape coldly, softly, “how very kind and most generous of you.”
By the sharp nails that dug into Harry’s neck agonizingly he concluded Snape didn’t think it very kind or generous at all.
Harry’s face reddened to contend with a baboon’s backside as the muttered voices around him started to pick up. He wrenched himself free out of Snape’s adamant hold roughly, and rounded on Snape furiously.
“If you hadn’t stormed off,” Harry began savagely, “just like a silly little twit in a tantrum and . . .” his voice trailed off feebly as he stared into an unfamiliar face that was darkened in blatant fury.
His eyes widened comically and he gaped in shock at the strange man standing before him.
A tall gangly looking guy in black robes, with a long and narrow looking face that held eyes of the coldest arctic blue imaginable, froze Harry on the spot.
His mouth worked soundlessly before he finally managed to croak, “I…I’m sorry..err Sir I-” he swallowed hard and continued breathily, “I thought you… I mean, I thought you were someone else, I apolo-”
He cut off again as a very familiar and odious sneer bloomed on the man’s face.
“You what Potter? Could it really almost have been an apology, however deplorably insincere and unsatisfactory, you were about to utter?” said the man coolly, eyes swivelling with unrestrained contempt, “Clearly, my ears are misleading me, wouldn’t you say so Headmistress McGonagall?”
The stranger turned his face toward McGonagall, and Harry realised that they had reached the teachers table where the Headmistress sat stiff backed, pursing her lips in annoyance, glaring at them forebodingly.
Harry’s face flushed scarlet, more in anger than humiliation and continued to gawk at the man for good measure. That was definitely Snape’s voice! He would recognise that hateful speech anywhere. But how? He could practically feel the light bulb flash on in his scalp, shining brilliantly as he whispered under his breath, “Polyjuice…of course.”
Snape could hardly prance around as himself while the whole Wizarding Wold believed he had murdered Albus Dumbledore. Well in their defence he had of course, but there were extenuating circumstances that had to be taken into consideration, that they simply did not know about, and would probably find hard to believe even if they were told.
Admittedly, Harry would not have believed it either, only a week ago. Not before his emotions stopped controlling his every decision or thought, with not just a little help from the Releaser. And now, its backlash upon removal had made sure his emotions were still walled off securely even without the pendant.
Also, if Snape still planned on masquerading as a Death Eater, part of Voldemort’s inner circle, then getting exposed would be nothing other than fatal, more importantly; completely useless to the Order.
He sealed his lips shut tightly when Polyjuiced-Snape’s head whipped back to him so fast that Harry thought it might break off, his eyes spoke icy murder, and he growled at him while still managing to whisper in a low vexed voice, “You keep that to yourself, do you understand Potter, if not, I’ll make sure you understand. After I’m through with you I’ll make you wish you-”
And at that exact moment a loud boom resonated over the Slytherin table, successfully cutting off Polyjuiced-Snape’s angry tirade and distracting everyone’s attentions off of them.
Harry only now noticed with astonishment, that the Slytherin table wasn’t empty like he had assumed, there had been a small family sitting at the far end of the table opposite Harry, consisting of two people.
Blaise Zabini sat with his mother, scowling at everyone openly, his dark hand holding a quill that was poised on a piece of parchment before him. His handsome face was obviously a gift inherited from his mother, a dark woman with black shimmering hair that fell to her waist, and startling eyes that peered around levelly in a blank stare, her face as expressive as a wooden fence.
A small whirlwind of green smoke had accumulated itself abruptly right above the pair and drops the colour of acid started to pour down on their heads.
Blaise Zabini shrieked in an unmanly way trying to save the letter he had been writing by throwing himself on it, covering it with his robes. His mother had jumped up with a squeal of outrage, and tried to step out underneath the cloud, but no matter where she stood it followed her persistently like a magnet. Soon both of them looked like two identical drenched cats, soaked from top to toe, puddles of murky green forming around their shoes.
An uproarish laughter exploded from the Gryffindor table where George and Lee Jordan were clasping hands and slapping Fred on the back, who now, stood next to them, giving a low bow and flourishing his right arm vigorously so that no one could miss its gritty black colour and glimmering, marbled texture.
Blaise seemed to be trembling with rage, his letter, ink-stained and stuck to the front of his robes as he straightened. He took one threatening step forward, his arm reaching inside the folds of his robes, undoubtedly searching for his wand when his mother, also quivering with fury, only a more silent and composed one, laid a hand on his shoulder and whispered something into his ear. He nodded stiffly, and both strode briskly across the room and out of the Great Hall with admirable dignity, that was only muted by the acid cloud that followed their departure like a balloon on a string.
Harry just stood in shock, and he wasn’t the only one. Snape stood stock still as if he had taken root into the granite floor. Everyone, for that matter, sat petrified in their seats like stone gargoyles, even Ron who sat with his mouth open as if he were trying to catch flies, and Hermione who had a stern look of disapproval fixed on her face.
Everyone but Arthur Weasley, who looked like a man who had just lost a battle with his last feeble grasp on patience, and detonated like a rocket racing to the moon.
Arthur Weasley advanced on his sons like a prowling tiger, his hands coming up as fast as lightning to take an ear of each into his hands and tugged hard, nailing Lee Jordan with his furious gaze for lack of a third hand, but as effectively, as Lee who had tried to slink off unnoticeably, stopped in his tracks.
“Seeing as you continue to act like little children!” he bellowed, as red in the face as his hair, “I see no other way but to treat you like you lot actually are!” he continued crossly. “I have had enough, you will go and apologise. Now!”
He started off for the doors, following the path of jade liquid that had washed away most of Harry’s bloody footprints, and traced out of the room and across the Entrance Hall, towing the twins after him with a twist of his hand that made them yelp aloud. Lee Jordan following silently, feet dragging and his head bowed so low that his dreadlocks, that now fell well over his shoulders, obscured his face.
“But dad,” interrupted George, sounding every bit the sulking child, no matter his age.
“They are Slytherins!” finished Fred hotly.
“Not every Slytherin is evil, and not every non-Slytherin is good! Or have you forgotten a certain rat? You are not the only ones that have lost their home,” Arthur thundered, “open your eyes and look around you! Hogwarts is a place of safety for anyone who needs it, do you hear me, anyone!”
Fred and George appeared to be shaking in their boots, eyes round like saucers, staring at their father wildly. Harry couldn’t blame them; he had never ever seen Mr. Weasley anywhere like this ever before.
“You just wait till your mother has awakened from her coma,” he threatened harshly, which seemed to have been the correct way to stop the twin’s weakening protestations entirely, and paled their now miserable faces until their freckles looked like they had the measles, “and I tell her all about your pranks, she will set you straight. You just wait!”
Arthur’s shouts were soon nothing more than an angry muffled voice, as they disappeared from sight, and at once the Great Hall exploded in a confusion of noise, some were laughing and calling out with compliments to the three ex-Gryffindors, others were shaking their heads and fists in indignation.
McGonagall shot a cold glare at the jeering people, who fell silent quickly, then levelled her voice so that it carried over the vast room, and announced resignedly, “Lunch is over, everyone please return to your appointed chambers and rooms. The Great Hall will be closed to visitors from now until dinner.”
Slowly the Great Hall started to file out. People talked together quietly about what had just happened and Harry heard words from; Harry Potter, Death Eaters spies, to tasteless pranks, and Gryffindors.
Only Hermione and Ron remained staring at Harry nervously, after everyone else had left, but with a look from McGonagall and a glare from the Polyjuiced Snape it was clear that everyone also included them.
Harry shrugged at them and tried to smile to let them know he was no longer angry with them, but he figured it came out more like a grimace, when at the same time he had remembered why he had been angry with them to begin with.
Hermione shot him one last worried look over her shoulder, and pushed Ron out of the doors ahead of her.
Harry sighed and turned to look at McGonagall, trying his best to ignore Snape and pretend he was not there.
With a wave of her wand, McGonagall send the doors of the Great Hall flying shut, and studied both of them for a long second.
This also made Harry pretend he was not standing barefooted in his pyjamas, in the Great Hall being scrutinised by the Headmistress.
“Are you certain there is no other way?” she asked finally, her gaze resting on Snape.
“I am certain,” replied Polyjuiced-Snape stiffly.
She sniffed loudly but nodded.
“Very well, I’ve already prepared a Portkey.”
She exposed a small porcelain figurine of a witch with a sleeping cat on her head, out of her dark blue robes, and touched it lightly as if tickling the sleeping cat, then handed it to Snape who accepted it readily.
“I will send word as soon as I have returned.”
“See that you do.”
“Wait a minute, where is he going,” demanded Harry, annoyed at being excluded from the conversation.
“We are going to fetch your wand of course,” answered Snape, leering at him disdainfully.
Harry ignored him.
“Headmistress McGonagall,” Harry started, “my wand was taken from me by Draco Malfoy, who I believe has been killed by his father,” he continued, ignoring Snape’s deep throated growl, “he must have given it to Voldemort before he,” he cleared his throat. “What I mean to say, is that I believe my wand is lost,” he finished softly, his gaze dropped to stare at his hands.
“You are correct, Mr Potter,” McGonagall replied coolly, “and it’s currently still in his possession.”
Harry frowned up at her, not following.
“He’s not dead!” snapped Snape impatiently, a livid scowl on his face.
Harry spun around to face Snape, completely forgetting that he was supposed to be ignoring his existence.
“How…” he breathed faintly.
Snape opened is mouth to unquestionably say something like, how Harry was too stupid to realise that of course Malfoy wasn’t dead and naturally Malfoy had been able to rise from the dead, or some other rot. But before he could, McGonagall forestalled him by whispering urgently that Snape was changing and should not waste time.
It was true, Snape’s hair that was now short and soft looked to be transforming rapidly into long oily black strands. His nose started to grow longer, and his eyes went from an icy blue-grey to a dark, smouldering black.
Snape stiffened and looked around, his black eyes flickering across every crevice and space of the Great Hall, before he reached out grabbed Harry’s arm roughly and pulled him close, pressing the tiny statue into his hand so that they were both touching it.
The world seemed to lurch up side down, and Harry felt as if a massive hook behind his navel wrenched him off the face of the earth when the Portkey activated, sending him spiralling out to what looked to be nowhere.
McGonagall’s piercing voice faltered after them, “See that you return, Severus.”